Category: Tongue in cheek

Lord, wont you buy me….

If you have to drive in England, and please avoid it at all costs, then at least do it in style. You will not get to your destination more quickly but your ageing arse and the pain that stands in for your lumber region will at least find some relief. 

For, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a car on English Motorways is in want of his sanity. Don’t let the adverts fool you. You will not speed along empty roads in glorious sunshine and spectacular scenery accompanied by a headscarf wearing Kathryn Hepburn lookalike who promises a happy ending upon arrival at your destination in some romantic hotel. No, your fate is to be tearing into the abyss of grey water being thrown by the bucket load at your windscreen as you find yourself surrounded by towering trucks driven by demons from the seventh depths of hell whose only care is to get to wherever they are going regardless of any collateral damage be that rabbit, bugs or your wellbeing. 

You will be tailgated. For some unknown reason many drivers want to know what is on your back seat and thus play chicken with the brake lights they see in front. Data on stopping distances on wet roads are but a dim and distant memory to them as they leave their fates to the capricious whims of the furies. I’ve seen better driving skills being exercised by rum soaked drunken and testosterone fuelled matelots riding the dodgems at the fairground on Helston Flora Day. 

You will crawl behind a truck who is ‘overtaking’ another truck at 58 miles per hour while the fast lane is out of bounds to you due to the wide boys and sales reps, high on crack cocaine, exercising their ‘right’ to drive like complete wankers at over 90 miles an hour in a soon to be crashed BMW. 

You will wonder where everyone is going? Surely someone must be at work? Did everyone take today to go somewhere? Is the school run allowed on motorways? 

The A roads are no better. 

King’s Lynn to Norwich is not Route 66. You will certainly not ‘get your kicks’ nor will you be tempted to roll the window down, put on your shades, with arm resting on the door and sing to Elvis Presley on the radio. The road ahead will not stretch into the desert sunset in a straight line along the cactus lined highway to Hotel California. You will instead follow a tractor, the white van delivering tat to twats in time for teatime, the prat in an Audi who thinks he is Lewis Hamilton, a distracted mother with a car full of brats all shouting at her and a businessman in a hurry to get to the next Premier Inn where he can dream of eating a microwave dinner in the ‘restaurant’ before going to bed disappointed that Sharon from accounts was not there. He will go to bed after a late night snifter, turn to Babe Station and think of the short skirted but unavailable Sharon while he falls asleep only to wake up with his dick in his hand at 3 am. 

That is an English road trip. Pissing rain, bitter disappointment and a wank. 

Where was I?

While Mr Harris and Dr Tatham head to the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ that is Norwich in a Mercedes Vito van (nice), I drove the Mercedes C200 (even fucking nicer, excuse my french). I am not usually impressed by cars. They are merely methods of transportation infinitely inferior to trains. For a start you have to drive them yourself and keep awake while doing so. You cannot drink, nor can you drift aimlessly into a reverie about the time you found yourself covered in chocolate and being thrown into a party of sweet toothed lesbians and their overly sexed entourage of bisexual partners. 

(I might have dreamt that).

The Mercedes C200 deserves a mention, due to its overwhelming comfort. Everything in it works beautifully as it should. Every section of the seat can be adjusted, I counted at least 4 different moving parts to it. It heats up in the winter and gently caresses one’s testicles with what feels like a soft hand in a velvet glove, if you press the right button. German built and designed, you see. I wish we’d lost the war. I had previously already spent the best part of 10 hours getting to Kings Lynn in it, and upon arrival felt as fresh as the cherry blossom in spring, and as the smell of freshly baked bread and a day old baby’s head. The car gently and soothingly consumed the miles to Norwich enabling me to treat every other road user with contempt and pity. Come the revolution, I shall mandate that if it is necessary to travel by road, then a Mercedes should be issued to each and every citizen (except the couple who live in the flat upstairs and seem to be unaware that 50 shades of Grey is fiction and does not need reenacting at two in the morning. A man can only take so many muffled screams. By the way, I now know their ‘safe words’). 

Arrival in Norwich as the sun sets over the river is a delight. It would have been better if the Sat Nav had the correct post code coordinates. After a bit of map reading and a lot of swearing I find the hotel itself. The Premier Inn (for t’was our hotel…I hope they have Babe Station) overlooks the River Wensum as it winds it way through the city. The Cathedral Spire pokes above the trees a short distance away. There is a pissed women shouting near the bridge over the river, “lets be ‘aving you” I think it is. 

Tonight is beer and curry night. Dr Tatham’s medical chums of yore are in town with a half baked plan to cycle from Norwich to Romford. A distance of quite some miles across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, it has to be said. If they are as good at medical practice as they are at organising a cycling trip, I suggest you go kill yourself now. Their bravado is matched only by incompetence and a complete ignorance of the art of cycling any distance further than the mile to the pub. Team Sky they ain’t. We met up in a pub to enjoy some pre curry bonhomie and the talking of bollocks. 

The good doctors currently come from far and wide….Droitwhich, Diss, Romford, Ireland and Never Never Land. I think one gave his address as Number 1, Clueless, Cloud Cuckoo Land. I blame the parents. Tomorrow it will rain. I suspect that will not dampen their spirits, merely soak their bones and stoke their bloody mindedness. Beer and curry is a great combination, but in preparation for a 60 mile cycle in the rain it may prove exciting as their normal bowel patterns are disrupted. The crown will go to the chap who can find his way to the loo the quickest after mile 10. 

Our plan is different. We will not be rushing to join them southwards to The Only Way is Essex.

So we bid the chaps goodnight in the hotel bar as we prepare to go our separate ways on the morrow. 

Now, settle down. Get comfortable. Mr Harris planned a trip around Norwich that must be just one of the greatest journeys ever taken. In our estimation that is. You may like the Maldives, or a weekend break in New York. You may enjoy bashing your bishop in Barnstaple or choking your chicken in Chichester…but, nothing can quite match a trip on the North Norfolk Steam Railway. 

You need to realise that there is nothing like a steam engine to gladden the heart and quicken the pulse of three silly old ugly blind bikers in Norfolk. We can hardly curb our enthusiasm at the thought. We’ve talked about this for months, boxes of tissues have been used, imaginations running wild at the thought of steam hauled steel on rail. The sight, sound and smell of coal, fire and steam, brass and copper pipes, steel connecting rods, hissing, misty clouds, dirt and smuts from chimney, oil on trousers and dirty rags. Bloody heaven. 

Norwich railway station is just across the river, its gothic dome standing proud above the platforms. The plan is to take a train to Cromer and from thence cycle to Sheringham on the coast. The NNR starts at Sheringham and clatters some miles to a nowhere called Holt. One of our party, overcome with the thought of travelling by train and thus devoid of judgement, boards the wrong train, and as he enters the doors lock behind him. Thankfully, this train is going nowhere and after much jollity the guard releases the doors to facilitate his disembarkation for the correct train. 

Our train then winds gently across the Fenland and the Broads towards the coast. Our bikes are safely stowed aboard. Giggles are hardly suppressed. There is something touching about the ease with which grown men can be pleased. All it takes is a beer, or a train, or a rumination on the aesthetic similarity between a pint of Guinness and the stocking clad legs of a young lady bent on flirtation. It is the juxtaposition of black and white that does it. This latter thought had been prompted by the sight of a young lady hitching up her skirt to adjust her stocking tops as she walked down the Prince of Wales Road in Norwich the previous night. This remembrance had nearly caused a member of our party to choke with laughter whilst cycling and thus risking a crash into the hedge. Easily pleased, men are. 

Sheringham is a pretty seaside town, bunting fluttered in the sunshine in the high street. Tourists crowded the pavements and the coffee shops. The sky above the roofs hinted at blue. The North Sea sparkles and glistens, reminiscent of the Balearic Island paradise of Ibiza. The warm breeze caresses the skin, prompting the shedding of clothes while bikini clad women laze upon the golden sands in a coquettish demeanour. That’s what I saw anyway, rather than the hordes of Nora Batty clones stuffing their faces with fish and chips while shouting to the kids as if we are in an episode of East Enders. Fat blokes waddling along the sea front grunting for beer in a fashion free zone, dressed as they were for the Arctic but with sock footed sandals and Heavy Metal T shirts. 

Upon arrival at the station, the steam engine slowly glides in. I’ll leave it there. I will not be responsible otherwise for what I write next given the level of excitement this drew from us. The station, as with most heritage lines, is of course exactly like it would have been pre Beeching (damn his soul), and so dates from anywhere between 1930 to 1960, the heyday of the Railways. The tickets are cardboard and the guard punches them with a hole punch. The excitement just mounts. We rattle slowly along the coast and then inland to Holt. Heads are out of windows, waving at people in the countryside, the engine is chuffing up slopes and then gliding down the other side. 

At Holt there is even a model railway layout, and a proper row of red fire buckets hanging on the wall. We disembark and one member of the party is minus a bike helmet, due to over exuberance back at Sheringham, leading to momentary lapses of reason and forgetfulness. It is probably in the lost property office right now. 

The journey back to Norwich is a delightful 30 miles (ish) jaunt, the last 5 miles or so along a disused railway track (bugger Beeching but a boon to bikers). Upon arrival in the city, the route takes us past a pub called the ‘Adam and Eve’ and yes we would believe it. Being only a mile or even less from ‘Lenny’s’ we are able to make a decision about visiting the Norwich City Football Club shop or stopping for an ale.

Its thirsty work, cycling, and so the decision was swiftly made. 

Did you know Norwich cathedral’s spire is off centre? No one notices this at all, unless you stand at one of the gates (can’t remember which one), then line your self up with a ‘gable end’ (?). Suffice to say it takes a mathematical mindset to notice this. Once spotted however, it could grate. It is the princess and the pea of the cathedral world. I guess it is too late to put it right? I blame the monks who, proud of their ale making and goat comforting skills, probably did not bother supervising the masons due to a surfeit of ale infused bonhomie and a little light afternoon buggery. That’s medievalism for you. 

Somewhere in the world there are three old blokes on bikes, cycling languidly along the countryside noting all the relevant flora and fauna, learning about the local history and reminiscing about the times when access to stocking tops was as easy as falling off your bike in a gale. Getting away from the madness of car stoked roads into bucolic whimsy is an absolute joy, and should be prescribed as primary prevention for heart disease, diabetes and erectile dysfunction. Wives and girlfriends are welcome of course to join in but I suspect the degree of pointless drivel being talked would drive them to insanity and knitting. This is not a gender/sexist issue. I just think most women are just a bit too busy, too sensible or giving birth. The humble bicycle is thus a stairway to heaven, providing access to dreams, steam trains, revolutionary fervour and country pubs.

Ugly Old Blind Bikers

Ugly Old Blind Bikers

Once upon a time there was three blind mice. Except that was a nursery rhyme and not true. 

This time, there was one half blind chap and two other short sighted miscreants who required the miracles of modern science to see anything beyond the end of their frothy ale flecked noses. A plan was hatched long ago by these ‘three degrees’ (of insanity) to conquer the mountains of Fenland by bicycle. And so it was that King’s Lynn became host to three men and some bicycles. 

Getting there from the dark North and the subtropical South West required the navigational skills of a maritime mathematician, long in the tooth and firm of buttock, who longs for a tall ship and a star to steer her by. 

Mr Harris (pragmatic northerner) and Mr Tatham (a Newfoundland exile) trundled down the A1 in t’van while my good self braved the rain sodden waterways that pass for English motorways, from the south west. To say the weather was bad is to suggest that Satan may have been a tad dubious in character. I suggest that the Ms 5, 42 and 1 should be rebranded as canals given the amount of surface water sloshing about just waiting to throw the unwary driver into the back of a lorry. Every now and then, a thin sliver of sunlight crept in between the dark foreboding heavens to promise relief. 

It never came.

A Frenchman in a bordello has been relieved more often and with less fear.

Kings Lynn, formerly Bishop’s Lynn, lies on the Great Ouse as it empties into the south eastern corner of the Wash. There are boats, mud and the odd scared goat. In the middle of town is the ‘Nip and Growler’, a real gem of a pub selling micro brewery ales, some of which will result in depilation of the nether regions. They are that good. The Campaign for Real Ale has a special section reserved for such hostelries, including vouchers for fast track entry to Accident and Emergency or the local asylum. They hand out moistened tissues at the bar in case of ‘accidents’. The ‘Nip’ is a few short steps away from the town square which was at one time host to witch burning. This part of the country had a reputation for its enthusiasm in engaging in faggot lighting in order to roast the toes and tits off the local women, and did so with the gusto of a Catholic priest with the keys to the dorm at a boys school. Legend has it that one poor wretch’s heart burst from her chest as she burned, and it then splattered onto the walls of a nearby house. 

Nice.

Her crime, and thus accusations of witchcraft, included being nice to squirrels, knowing the names of a wide variety of herbs to apply to festering sores and the plugging of orifices, and commenting on how certain fillets of fish would be fit for Jehovah. 

That’s the church for you. You may bugger a goat with your ale soaked cousins, but don’t go picking lavender in case that is an act mistaken for spell casting. Women like picking herbs and flowers which goes to explain why they get mistaken for witches. Well, that and turning people into newts. 

And the pointy hats.

Never mind, stories like that enhance the taste of ale and pies. So, suitably victualled first in the ‘Nip’ and then at a quayside eatery, the intrepid three retired to the B and B to dream of conquests new. 

Prior to arriving in Fenland, Mr Harris and Mr Tatham had already been having far too much fun at the National Railway Museum near Darlington. In addition, culture was engaged in at various historic places of interest such as the the grave of the Vulnerable “oh, please don’t be mean to me” Bede, whose claim to a place in posterity rests upon his reading of some books on Jesus and his sheep. 

Day 1.

“There will be pies”.

Breakfast. The French may have their croissants, and the Canadians their maple syrup, but by thunder a ‘Full English’ is second to none. Tourists may be forgiven for thinking a ‘Full English’ is a euphemism for the furtive arts practiced by ladies of a wayward reputation near the docks, but the sight of a sizzling snorker sitting alongside its various accompaniments should disavow them of more carnal thoughts. Our hostess served up three plates of the most joy you can have with your clothes on and your inhibitions off. The breakfast was of such high quality that we clean forgot to consider a spanking. You, dear reader, may wonder why a spanking would even be considered at all before breakfast. Suffice to say that there are times in an old man’s memory that recall such episodic ventures into the realms of fantasy. 

Straight after breakfast, all kit was checked and ablutions completed. The bicycles had already been fettled and waited like the ‘stallions of steel’ they (nearly) were, straining at metaphorical leashes for the off. 

Mr Harris’s bike was a wonder to behold. A proper touring bike with panniers, tyres the width of a runway and gadgets that turn on its lights automatically. Oh, and mudguards. It is thanks to his planning and organisational skills that we were there at all. He even had a list, an itinerary, and downloaded maps of the route. Navigation was aided by a Garmin GPS system which beeped at regular intervals to tell us that a) a turn was 150 yards way and b) the turn was just ahead as we approached it. There should be no way we could get lost. I had every faith in the pragmatic and systematic approach of our Northern guide. He had the whiff of precision engineering about him, an ‘everything in its place’ kind of thing. He could spot a mislaid joist at a hundred paces. He looked the part. It was that of a long distance cyclist. Tall, and a lean frame frame befitting someone who is planning a very long trip to cycle every stage of the Tour de France won by a Brit.

Given that he often had his arm up a cow’s arse, which I believe calls for judgments of distance around clearances of inches rather than thousands of a millimetre, I found his attention to detail refreshing. I should also say that his inserting of limbs into dark places was for business reasons and not for leisure. His day job had been the welfare of animals, which includes killing them. 

That’s what vets do. 

Mr, actually Doctor, Tatham is garrulous to the the point of distraction. Think of the exuberance of Toad of Toad Hall. His clothes are often arranged in loose formation, the main colour scheme being that of a rainbow crashing into a paint factory with little regard for aesthetic juxtaposition. His bike was one of Mr Harris’ contraptions with the emphasis on “Will Dr Tatham survive without wrecking it?”. A permanent grin would accompany the permanent camera and cries of absolute joy rattling o’er the treetops. Plying his trade as a General Practitioner in Canada has prepared him well for East Anglia. There has not been an orifice, lump, secretion, protuberance or bleed that has phased him in the past. The inbreds of the Fens will not therefore shock. There are bits of him that require attention (and drugs) and a decent service, but the 50 miles should not present too much of a challenge. As long as we don’t pass a pretty young thing, then our progress should be smooth. For Dr Tatham, precision and planning are two words in the dictionary rather than concepts to be applied in everyday life…and so it is a good thing indeed that Mr Harris takes charge.

The bikes had been fettled, the loins girded but the butt cream forgone. Ahead was 50 circular miles of Fenland adventure. The sky was blue, the odd cloud skittering high above, the wind but a breeze although forecast to be stronger. Taking a north eastern route out of town, we found ourselves quickly into the countryside on our way through to the Sandringham Estate. We passed by one of the Royal Gates, a huge black wrought iron affair with spikes and what I thought was a Royal Crest. It’s message was clear. We might have paid for this Estate, with the blood of the proletarian martyrs while the robber barons, with a Royal nod, dispossessed the common folk from the common land as the enclosures tightened around their necks, but there is no way a hairy handed son of toil was going to set foot upon monarchical property. Even on a bicycle. In the background, as we stood for a picture by the gates, we could hear birdsong in the surrounding woods. I thought I could hear the sound of the sharpening of guillotines among the chirruping of sparrows. 

As we leave Sandringham, it is soon time for tea and cake. However, we are in the countryside of Norfolk. There are fields, and trees, and lanes, and pigs, horses and crows. We spot Red kites and the odd rabbit. The wind sweeps across the open hedge free fields kicking up dust and leaves. There are no signs saying ‘Tea Shop this way’. I hear a banjo. The only other sound is the swish of rubber tyre on lane and the occasional fart.

We quickly agree that it is impossible to fart while peddling or remaining in the saddle. So, if you see the cyclist in front of you stand up on his peddles and ceasing turning the crank you may suspect with a high degree of accuracy what is about to occur. So to add the to the gently shushing of breeze and tyre we hear the odd ‘tharp’. I blame the Guinness. 

A windmill is spotted in the distance.

As we cycle we come across the little brown tourist sign which of course says ‘Windmill’. This is overkill because we can see the bloody thing from 1000 meters away. Now, we could plough onwards looking for a tea shop for cakes and pie but this little gem has to be seen up close. We turn left off course and down to the mill. We stop at a gate to admire it and take a picture. Pretty as it is, the agenda has quickly focused on tea, but there is no sign of a tea shop. We might have to clench buttocks and grit our teeth. 

However, the inquisitive Mr Harris, cycles a few yards down the lane to the other side of the mill. Unbridled joy erupts as he spots a tea shop hidden from our view. There is still no sign pointing to it, but hey ho we have found Nirvana.

One of the absolute joys of cycling is the stop for tea and cake. This tea shop has cake, pasties and pork pies. We push open the door into the relative darkness inside, but the sun comes out and its rays floods the tea room with warmth. It is good to be alive.  As I am about to order I spot the pork pies, hand made with crinkly crimping around the edges. They are not uniform in shape indicating the hand crafted nature of each individual pie. They are lovingly made by jolly buxom housewives in the back kitchen who sing while they work, their nimble fingers caressing the pastry after the high quality pork is placed inside. Only the finest pigs, hand fed on acorns while otherwise roaming free foraging in the forests, provide the meat. The shortcrust pastry is light and crumbly upon the bite, the jelly inside explodes onto the tongue. They would be perfect with an ale. ‘Cornish’ pasties are also on offer, and I inwardly bridle when this is said. But the mistake was very quickly rectified and the ‘cornish’ was retracted. Just as well, they were crimped over the middle and the inside contained peas and carrot. How do I know? We bought three for the end of the day’s ride. In terms of size they were just above a cocktail pasty and just below a small. After 50 miles, however, they were fantastic. 

Suitably victualled we set off down the Norfolk country lanes. The sun continued to shine, with little evidence of the predicted shower. The riding at this point is fairly effortless, at a pace of about 10-11 miles an hour. This is slow enough to take in the sights and sounds and provided ample time for photo stops and banter. 

The next stop would be for lunch at the ‘Dabbling Duck’ in Great Massingham. You just can’t make this up. A village green, a village pond (with ducks), the church, old cottages thatched and tiled and the pub. Just the perfect village scene. I spotted its idiot hiding behind the red pillar box doing something uncalled for with a bucket, some lubricant and a cat. At this point my garmin was telling me I had used 1400 calories. Thats 7 pints and two pies worth, therefore a lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich to be washed down with a pint of ‘Nelson’s Revenge’, served in a dimpled beer jug with handle, was hardly going to make a dent. The sandwich was served with a side salad, red cabbage and these new fangled hipster type crisps which I think are some old vegetables sliced up and passed off as a ‘crisp’. I think to qualify as a ‘crisp’ the sliced potato (not parsnip, beetroot or carrot) has to be come in a bag preferably with a little blue bag of salt.  

We learned from the barman that the mansion we had previously passed was Houghton Hall, the summer holiday home of Lord and Lady Cholmondeley (‘Chumly’) whose main residence is Cholmondeley castle. These country houses were no doubt built with the blood, sweat and tears of the peasants from whom the Chumleys had stolen their land. As you gaze upon these monuments to exploitation and slavery, in the historical winds you can hear the cries of ill fed babies straining to get what little milk there was from their mother’s breasts; mothers who had put in a 20 hour day and who had only a carrot to suck on for dinner and a cardboard box to sleep in. Never mind, as long as Lady Chumley has a second home for her holiday, it was all worth it. The village green at Great Massingham was host to various hangings of miscreants who lost their lives for no worse crime than muttering rebellious thoughts about the aristocracy, tickling a pig or licking bread crumbs from the kitchen floor of Houghton Hall. During the first world war, Lord C rounded up the loudest critics, enlisted them as the Massingham Pals and sent them straight to the front line at the Somme. Some 56 local lads of Norfolk left. None came back. Well, one did, but upon return, his mind so traumatised by whizz bangs, he developed a taste for goat ‘worrying’ and was hanged without ceremony at Norwich assizes as a lesson to the revolutionary classes. 

And that is why we still have Tory governments today. 

The afternoon session, post lunch, saw us plunge deeper into Norfolk. I’m all for deep plunging…it has been said that I am one of best at it given a fair wind, some notice and several ales. My plunging exploits however are surpassed by one of my colleagues who shall remain nameless. We followed a straight road into a village called ‘Castle Acre’. We soon discovered why. 

It has a Castle, that is probably an acre in size. Don’t think of Windsor, Cardiff or Edinburgh. These are still pretty much intact. This one however dates from the 11th century is nowt but a ruin. However, it is pretty impressive, sitting upon the earthworks, dried up moats and rampart. parking the bikes we look up at the walls and are taunted by some French soldiers. History oozes from every stone. Close your eyes and you can hear serfs cleaning the floors, feeding the pigs and dying early from malnutrition and syphilis. Keep them closed and you can hear the Lord exercising his ‘droit de signeuer’ with the latest available, but unwilling, virgin brides. There is a some medieval graffiti on one wall. Simply says ‘Help, we are ruled by a madman’ but in Latin: ‘Aidorum, Nos est Regularum ab Lunitacus Illigitimus’  It was conditions like this that provided the inspiration for Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’.  Such Castles probably prevented the peasants uprising by working them to death, keeping them ignorant and feeding them fetid turnips. 

And that is why there are turnips/swedes are in Cornish pasties. They are there to remind you of your place in the social hierarchy. The present queen keeps pictures of Castles and Turnips in her favourite privy in Windsor as an historical comfort should Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister.  

Castle Acre also has a ruined Priory, courtesy of ‘our ‘enry’ no doubt. The monks are long gone but their recipes for beer and mead live on, the results of which can be seen on any Glasgow street at night. Many a young lady has lost her virginity, and many a fight in backstreet pubs across the land, can give thanks to the dedication of the Christian soldiers of the past who never stinted in going onward in their quest for brewing a drink to lose your mind to. The three of us, however, turn a blind eye to the hideous past of Castle Acre as we cycle past its only pub ‘The Ostrich’. This is an unusual name for a pub in this part of the world as to my knowledge there are few flightless birds indigenous to this region. I would have thought a better name for village pub out in the wilds of the Fens would be something like ‘The Sheep and Shagger’. Its pub sign would have to be carefully designed so as not to offend the local vicar with its depictions of an indifferent ewe being held by a cross eyed and furrowed browed bovine enthusiast son of the soil. 

The final stretch proved delightful if uneventful. 

The most exciting part was stopping for 5 minutes and watching potatoes being picked in a field. 

The industrial scale of the machinery has to be seen to be believed. In days of yore no doubt a thousand farm labourers would stoop and pick by hand each lovely spud and place it carefully in a wicker basket. They would carefully brush off the dirt and look for blemishes as they went. They would be paid in cider and wenches at the end of the day in the village pub, where they would pass many a happy hour growling and muttering in what passes for the local dialect. The Squire would pop in to the “Thirsty Ferret” at the end of the potato picking season and raise a glass of port to the study yeomen who make him rich by his taking the surplus value from their labour. Oh how they laughed and japed in their bucolic poverty not knowing that elsewhere townsfolk could enjoy hot tea, a log fire and sanity. Here however, ‘rural idiocy’ abounded due to the hard work and the diet of raw potato and worms, their lives made bearable by the beer. 

Today, tractors the size of Panzer tanks pull alongside massive machines that made all of these workers unemployed and stupid. Now all that left is for erstwhile labourers to make the trek to Norwich to cheer on a football team whose enthusiasm is in inverse proportion to their skill. 

The circular ride over, we scoff the three ‘pasties’ before setting off to Norwich for the night. 

  

 

The English Patient

“You’ve heard of a French letter, yeah? Well, what’s a Dutch letter? A condom with clogs on so they can hear you coming” (boom boom).

“Did you hear about the two queers in a telephone box? They were ‘ringing’ (geddit?), ringing each other”.

And so I found myself transported back in time to when Jim Davidson was allowed, the mini metro was cutting edge technology and sexual assault was regarded as a little light flirting. A time when the classification of ‘rape’ was reserved for activities including the actual blindfolding and torture of young ladies in darkly lit back alleys in Whitechapel.

The ‘joker’ lay almost flat on his back on the opposite hospital bed. He wore, or rather was draped, in an NHS gown which barely covered his legs. The flap of the gown rode up so high on his thigh that it invited a shrivelled walnut shaped hairy scrotum to make its appearance, but thankfully we were spared. His dark sunken eyes and sallow complexion, his wrinkled turtle necked skin upholding a blotchy, mottled liver spotted complexion which, thanks to hair loss, covered his whole pate, were all testament to years of smoking. He rasped his jokes in between sucking in oxygen through plastic nasal speculae, while his rheumy eyes, long devoid of sparkle, attempted to project wit, but utterly failed to do so. Instead, Death’s bony fingers drummed impatiently on the bedside table, perhaps waiting for his cue, and certainly waiting for the end of the jokes.

“OH, DO SHUT UP”, Death silently boomed into his ear, “YOU ARE ALREADY LATE”.

Why it did not occur to Death to merely sever the plastic oxygen tube with one wing of the scythe is something to regret, no doubt, and to take to his grave, always supposing Death has a grave.

 

A hospital ward is not always a happy place.

It might be something to do with the people who go there. It might be something to do with the amount of forced cheer amid the pools of blood, piss and broken dreams. It is often a place in which a lifetime’s aspirations, vision and long hoped for achievement smash into the reality of desperation and blood flecked sputum often spewed out through clouds of alcohol infused breath and fag ash. A place where one hoped to live but come to die, where the milk of human kindness is not supposed to curdle, and where faith, hope and charity are not merely long faded memories or the names of a trio of white doe eyed fluffy kittens the vet accidentally put down after mixing up the lab results with that of a cancer riddled mutt with rabies.

The patients are not much better. especially when they tell jokes.

So, I find myself admitted for investigations and treatment after spending a brightly lit and noisy night in the ED. Ah, sleep, perchance to dream of fluffy pillows, soft warm duvets and dark peace. Imagine, if you can, being in a K hole but with operating theatre lights trained to hit your retina with the brightness of a thousand Hiroshimas. Noise assaults your every sense, you can even taste it. It’s not the EDs fault…for how else can they help assess, diagnose and treat humanity’s fear, stupidity and decrepitude. The only people at peace here are the near dead (and the actual dead).

“WELL, WHAT DID THEY EXPECT WITH THE ‘IRISHMAN WALKS INTO A BAR’ ROUTINE.”

 

I’m keeping my witticisms to the minimum over the next few days.

A scientologist homeopath in a K hole.

The Nursing Times reports on the falling number of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK over the past few months.

Perhaps this does not matter to most of us as we worry about whether to buy our Christmas from John Lewis or J D Wetherspoon, or before concerning ourselves with the searing injustice and travesty that is some prancing git in a sparkly shirt being being shown the door before he has had the chance to enthral us with his pretty feet. Perhaps we believe that the real life Holby Cities truly are staffed with the beautiful, if very flawed, people who can perform miracles with just a twitch of a stethoscope, frowning and cries of ‘morphine stat’ before being covered in projectile vomit. Perhaps we think NHS staff smile through the mask of emetic substances dripping from their faces as they perform miracles every hour.

To take our minds off the future, when many of us will face our last days in some piss stained, overcrowded brightly neon lit corridor being looked after by an alcoholic doctor, and a Zimbabwean care assistant whose slim grasp of English is matched only by a desert dwelling Uzbek goat fucker with access to a torn, half copy of the Beano in which to learn verb conjugation, we stare at the TV screen promising us youthful skin, a drive on an empty mountain road and the chance to vote on some nonentity whose song we will not remember, will not buy and will merely momentarily dose us to kill the pain of ennui that is everyday life in consumer capitalism.

Nursing is being reduced to running around with a bucket, a mop and some hope, all aimed at stopping the bleeding. We all have orifices that need plugging from time to time lest we leave a trail like a pissed up slug on a mission to the next lettuce. However Florence Nightingale had higher hopes for the successors of her young ladies in training than being reduced to cleaning wounds with their own tears and the silk of parachutes from the nearby war museum. The measures of success on many shifts includes having the same number of live patients that you started with, avoiding a fight with a drunk (it is a bonus if the drunk is not the consultant) and being sprayed with non infectious urine. The great vision for the NHS includes the provision of care by families and a few care assistants. Registered Nursing, you know…the sort that includes people who might be able to spot if your babbling and loss of consciousness is not the result of being given the bill for care but is in fact the early stages of sepsis, is on its way out. Family care is fine, if your family is more Waltons than Addams. Do you really want your old mum, or your wife, poking her finger up your anus in order to clinically examine your tonsils? What your wife does in your spare time at home is your own business, but is she the right person to be prostate tickling in the intensive care unit when you are actually complaining of a headache?  Imagine Grandad, after a six pints of mild and bitter, pushing his way through the throng around your sick bed shouting; “stand back, I’ve got this” while brandishing a toilet brush and barely concealed menace?

This is what the ‘Austerity’ actually means. Hunt will blather about more training places…but we know ‘more’ is not the same as ‘enough’. Austerity, we should remember actually means the ‘dissembling of the protectionist state in order to facilitate the transfer of public services to private ownership’. Hunt know this…it is part of the plan. He once called the NHS a ‘great commercial opportunity’. Why should Hunt et al give a toss about hospitals and schools that they will never use? They are as disconnected from our social reality as a Scientologist homeopath in a K hole.

I’m sending Granddad over to Richmond House.

Dirty Money – Lovely Jubbly.

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

Now, let’s get something obvious out of the way. Do I like a fiddle? Do I like to pick a pocket or two? Do I enjoy getting away with it? Well, if the opportunity arises to save a few quid I will take it laughing all the way from the pub to the bank. Have I been known to engage in activities that should ideally stay in a dark cupboard lest the very beasts of hell are let loose to defeacate upon the heads of babies? In short, am I cleaner than a freshly scrubbed and laundered starched white cotton cloth? Yet I have to admit that perhaps I have let slip my moral standards from time to time. My righteousness is as a filthy rag rather than crisp white linen. Jesus died to save sinners, but when he saw my track record on all things nefarious, immoral and perverted, it was too much even for the son of God. He was referring to me when, upon the cross, he cried up to God saying “Forgive him, for he not only knows what he has done, but he has encouraged others to do similar, only with less embarassment and more lubricant”. Jesus wept. Not for sinners, but for the complete waste of time his 33 years on earth was spent in order to redeem my wretched black hearted soul. As the last nail was banged in, all he could think about was my irretrievably ungrateful indifference to his suffering while I considered the next venture into silk pantied and lace lined debauchery with a sweet, cherry lipped vicar’s daughter and her vibrator on the lawn at the Queen’s garden party. “Christ, all that healing and vintnery for bugger all” he thought before letting out a wet fart.

That established, am I qualified to consider the implications of the ‘Paradise Papers‘?

First, let us not forget the ‘Panama papers‘. This was the leak of over 11 million documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca and shed a little light on over 200,000 offshore entities. They contained personal financial information about wealthy individuals and public officials that had previously been kept private. Some of the Mossack Fonseca ‘shell’ corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions. The Paradise papers are a similar leak from law firm Appleby which again shed light on offshore tax havens and the avoidance activities of wealthy individuals and corporations such as Apple.

‘Only the little people pay taxes’. I forget who said that, possibly someone as wealthy as Croesus and the morals of a rutting dog with easy access to a pack of bitches on heat. They share the same disdain and indifference towards others as they fuck anything that looks like it needs fucking as long is it feels good. They are now fucking the great British public by stealing a decent education from children, kicking the zimmer frames away from our grannies and laughing in the face of the mentally ill.

As dogs sniff arseholes, the wealthy sniff loopholes.

They are aided and abbetted in their endeavours by lawyers whose attachment to ethics is as loose as a coke fuelled casanova’s commitment to celibacy at an orgy. They are advised by accountants whose devotion to public service is in inverse proportion to their devotion to gaining pecuniary advantage, and serviced by politicians whose obseqiousness in the presence of wealth would make an Edwardian butler blush in embarrassment. The rules of the game are so rigged that not only is the line between good and evil blurred, it has been erased, deleted, rubbed out and thrown away waiting discovery and study by some future historian of 21st century moral philosophy. Plutocrats, the 0.01%, the ‘super-rich’ are so detached from the rest of us that not only do they think we should eat cake, we should pay them for the ingredients, the recipe and the aga to cook them in while they insert a finger of fudge to milk our collective prostates for more cash. Their moral universe is so distorted that they would consider buggering schoolboys over the high alter in St Paul’s Cathedral acceptable if the price was right. To them, the general public are bovine, nothing but a source of capital accumulation, and when we have lost our usefulness we are thrown away like a snot damped tissue in the gathering winds of an October gale.

Why do only fools and horses work?

 

“She’s a little cracker”

Photo by Anita Peeples on Unsplash

 

It was shockingly revealed today that a knee had been touched. Moreover, the perpetrator was a man whose grasp of dinner table etiquette was as firm as a weasel’s wet fart only less palatable. The sous table fiddling had followed nods and winks over the soufflé and not a little gentle innuendo over the cheese course. We have reason to be thankful that dessert was not a crème brulee lest it provoked the ardours even more, symbolising as it does how a superficial hardness later reveals a softer creamier extrusion after a short bit of agitation with spoon and finger. Reports have noted similar events at other gatherings where men in dinner suits, over inflated egos and unjustified self-confidence had mistaken large bulges in their trousers for indicators of sexual prowess instead of their wallets. It is generally accepted that where two or three, or more, are gathered together in an alcohol infused reverie, in which ego is in inverse proportion to actual importance or ability to deliver, that lines would be crossed and perhaps later snorted. To say this was revelatory is stretching it a bit, following as it does numerous sightings of woodland defaecations by the genus ‘Ursus’. Journalists at certain tabloids of course have made hay, splashing the story across their front page feigning faux indignation at such an outrageous and clumsy attempt at foreplay. On page 3, Sharon of Colchester (23) was quoted as saying that “although this appears to be an indiscretion, it by no means reduces the Honourable Member’s ability to be a thrusting bastion of Defence expenditure in the Cabinet, if he can control his member in number 10”. Her tits looked rather splendid as well.

 

Dr Archibald Creampie at the International Journal for the Promulgating of Advancement of Studies has conducted research into this area for quite some time. He has written extensively and recently published a paper ‘Tory Ministers, Their Trousers and Trifling Infidelities in the Neoliberal era: An ethnography in troubled times’, stated “The association between certain positions of power and incidences of knee touching are highly correlated. It has even been known that late night drinking in bars at Westminster has a causal relationship to fellatio, rimming and embarrassment the next day.” However, his ‘participant observation’ methods have been criticised for allowing subjectivity to cloud his analysis.

 

Boris Johnson was unavailable for comment.

Military Morality

Bugger.

And there was I thinking that the military was a bastion of middle class, middle england values, whose members would no more indulge in the seven deadly sins than Marks and Spencer would sell premium sex toys next to the baby food. The Army, Navy and Air Force are renowned for taking feral working class oiks whose career paths would otherwise include a little light fingering, assault as a matter of ritual (and avoiding picking up the soap in the showers at HMP Dartmoor), and then turning them into highly trained, disciplined, single minded targets for every passing jihadi with a rucksack and bitterness. Officers, of course, being drawn from the ‘respectable’ middle classes, already know the score and how to keep their little peccadillos from being dragged out of the shadows, blinking into the harsh light of justice. They are the moral backbone of the military, whose first principle is of course ‘don’t get caught’.

 

Our fabled military then is a supposed home to a solid conservativism, one which would no more recognize impropriety in the ranks than it does Imperialism in Whitehall.

 

And yet…turns out someone (and 8 of his shipmates on a nuclear submarine) likes a toot of Colombia’s finest white stuff, while two of his superior officers breach the ‘no touch rule’ designed to prevent intimate relations on board. There is now panic in the rest of the fleet as the Defence Secretary, Micheal ‘Fiddler’ Fallon, wants all submarine crews to be drugs tested. Is he mad? That’s like lifting manhole covers in London hoping to see sweet scented pink ribbon wrapped bouquets of roses instead of a fleet of fetid, feacal flecked fatbergs clogging the arteries of the city. What does he think will turn up?

 

Who does he think joins up and why they do so? The Royal Navy in particular was built on Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. Hearts of Oak joined up to serve King/Queen and Country, to go to other countries and shag their women, bomb their brothers and shout loudly for more beer. They went to avoid having to do the shitty zero hours, low paid, dead end bullshit jobs back home. Alcohol is the lifeblood that makes it tick over. Pusser’s Rum was the oil lubricating the penile pistons in whorehouses from Devonport to Sembawang. Adultery is always an option, especially now that Wrens go to sea.

So, there is of course a stonking great elephant here, wearing a big red sash called hypocrisy. The Navy is not the Church of England at sea.

 

If you ever find yourself in a huge metal tube, cut off from the outside world for very long periods of time with the coming apocalyse in nuclear form as company, and you don’t sniff a little, swig a little or shag a little to avoid facing up to the insanity of your situation…I fear for your soul.

Finance’s dirty secrets – Who will open the hotel door?

 

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

When no one is looking, when silence falls like a heavy blanket, while dust particles float in the shaft of sunlight in the dimness, slim bony fingers move over the keyboard. Nods are given and winks flashed in order to transfer big numbers via noughts and ones from a shady hidden one to a darker other. Old school ties are metaphorically straightened, thoughts turn to the Club when the day’s work is done. Dreams of avarice beckon one on like an old fashioned Soho whore in the doorway. Lust will put its boots on after Greed has paved the way and to make it acceptable to one’s addled moral conscience, cliché upon banality upon lies will tell the story to oneself, to provide the silken pure white sheets that cover the blood and sweated faecal stains of the night’s endeavours.

 

Capital accumulates in strange ways. Some are open and honest, save for the overlooking of the true nature of the transaction which always involves taking more candy from the baby than is actually given to it. This is a sleight of hand worthy of cardsharps and magicians of the most celebrated of seaside ‘end of pier’ shows. Now you see the surplus…. Capital used to just kill people openly by pitting spears and wishful thinking against flag, cannon and musket. Gold, nutmeg and people were exchanged for religion and germs backed up by guns and steel. This imperial and colonial routine followed the removing, at home, of peasants’ access to the commons through telling them the story of Divine Right of Kings, backed up visions of hell for the non believer. ‘Divine Right’ has been replaced by threats of ‘Venezuelan Marxism’ as the stick with which to beat the peasants.

 

Shoving a rifle in someone’s face while you steal their land, is of course a bit passé, a bit too obvious and unnecessary in the digital networked age. Instead, join the Club, the one that Capital keeps hidden in the murk of misinformation, disinformation, ideology and obfuscation. We are told, or we pretend to believe, the Club does not exist. Yet, some of us aspire to joining the Club, dreaming of the day the invitation flops onto the doormat accompanied by the sound of crying and dying babies being droned bombed in far away places to the soundtrack of the tuneless drivel of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ or ‘Gosudárstvennyj gimn Rossíjskoj Federácii’.

 

Its membership is exclusive of course, and the hoi polloi have as much a chance of joining, as it has of finding itself showered with gold plated rose petals in a one star, pissed stained, public lavatory run by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council on fire. Instead the Club works behind the scenes while the hoi polloi get fingered and fucked like a Hollywood starlet in a Producer’s hotel bedroom. Our collective prostate is being massaged by the big, fat, hairy knuckled finger of corporate banking and will go onto until we realise our screams for mercy are caused not by the pain of seeing the ‘skiving disabled sick shirking their responsibilities for looking after their mums and dads while sponging off the state’. Rather we might see that the origins of our screams lead back to the invitation to the hotel room, that it was a promise to be bent over and humped by the fickle phallus of finance lightly lubricated by the emollient of ideological cover. Yet in that room, we have chosen, or been forced, to swallow the salted seminal poison of the misdirection and legerdemain of finance capital.

 

Not all banks are bad of course. But when we read of certain activities linking South Africa, fraud, money laundering, and the buying of influence, which has ruined a UK public relations company and damaged auditors KPMG, we might like to consider that given the heroic role of finance in the US and the UK that this might be a tip of the iceberg? We might want to open the hotel door little wider just as the skirts are being lifted for another go at the naif?

Five giants unleashed

Upon a blasted heath, or in a very dark corner of a smoke filled room, or around the kitchen table in a Cotswolds mansion at ‘kitchen supper’ time, plots have been ruminated over, designed and put into action. Cold stone hearts drive the calculated rationalities of bureaucratised, intellectually bereft mindsets who can not see further than their own bank balances and a slow descent into senility. Horizons of expectation and hope have been so lowered that they barely reach the fetid scum ring line of a misused toilet in a backstreet brothel in Rochdale. Pettiness, fear and misanthropy are the guiding principles of social policy that not so much gets developed as oozes from under a slaughterhouse door like a pool of blood specked vomit looking for a dog. Blank eyes, behind them a vacuity of such sucking force a black hole would be jealous of, stare with barely concealed contempt at the need to think about social responsibility. The only thing they see is a gold coin being held in the hand of a starving child, a gold coin they think is rightfully theirs and therefore the prising of infant fingers from which can be justified. Tears do not move them, anguish is ignored, pain is relished as being good for building self reliance and character building. ‘Top Cornflakes’ rise to the top in the face of such adversity.

And so it is that families are shirkers, and homes paid for over 30 years must be sold. Pooling risk, so that individuals may be spared the trauma and bankrupting expense of personal tragedies, is anathema now. Beveridge’s five giant evils awaken, stir, blink, the reports of their death somewhat premature. They’ve been given new life by the austerity defibrillator and the life giving infusion of Brexit. Squalor surveys the landscape and smiles with delight at both gilded and burning towers; Want is pleased to see repositories for foodstuffs proliferate across the land like pustules on a teenagers face; Idleness delights itself as it transforms into a new form of gig activities which strengthens Squalor and Want’s grip around the citizen’s throat. Sickness revels in its ability to inflict its pain unequally and with increasing force, while Ignorance cannot believe the ease with which it has captured so many Oxbridge educated minds.

Ministerial nightmares pave the way for the dismantling of both Beveridge’s and Bevan’s dream. “I have a dream” has been replaced with “go fuck yourself, you lazy skiving (migrant) peasant”. Another dream, “The British Dream” drifts into our space like a wet vindaloo and Guinness generated fart. The dream only includes nice white people in the Home Counties and bits of Cheshire. ‘I’m alright Jack’ is now ‘I’m alright Rupert’ as Jack is far too working class and is not aspirational enough. Aspiration itself is the new Jerusalem upon a green hill far away, but upon closer inspection only a few have been given the map showing the hill’s location.

The blasted heath is deserted now, the smoke clears and the last supper in the Cotwolds has been eaten. Five giants stomp across the land while the plotters retire to Tuscan homes, comforted by fat pay checks and bonuses for setting them free.

May’s ‘Big Club’

 

George Carlin was, and Frankie Boyle is, a comedian. And it falls to comedians to, at times, spike the ideological and smug self serving petty bourgeois bubble that surrounds many politicians, a bubble that allows them to utter, on publically  funded platforms such as the BBC, complete codshit they allow to flow from their silver spooned throats like cancer inducing projectile vomit. George reminds us that there is a ‘Big Club‘, who don’t want you to know that “you are owned“. Members of this Club don’t “want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking“. The Big Club exists and “you ain’t in it“, because “good honest hard working people continue elect rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about you” while they sell you the “American Dream”. Its a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.

Frankie suggestsThe Conservative party doesn’t really do principle, it’s more of a pitch by elite interests at what they think the public might buy“. This pitch is fronted by cartoons such as Boris Johnson and latterly by  “Jacob Rees-Mogg, a composite figure drawn from the nightmares of 18th century millworkers. He looks like a Punch cartoon of the first giraffe in England, and maintains the general air of someone who has had a wank to the Book of Deuteronomy.”

A Tory somewhere will spot an opportunity and start printing ‘wipe clean’ old testaments. Jesus will weep.

We should not have to be reminded that the Tories represent the interests of Capital while simultaneously trying to convince us that having milk snatched from babies mouths, throwing the disabled in front of buses, telling the mentally ill to ‘pull themselves together and get a (zero hours) job’ is the best thing since discovering that your willy is a source of eternal gratification especially when you get someone else to stroke it.

Members of the Big Club in the UK often share a certain background, but not exclusively so…they manage to co-opt members of all classes, some of whom lemming like, leap willingly into the abyss while some of their peers push them over the edge singing ‘Rule Britannia’.

Our society is riddled with contradictions. We complain about a health and social care service being brought to its knees like a catholic choir boy being forced to swallow the acrid jizzum of Capital’s High Priests while being told it tastes like honey and yet we don’t want to ‘tax the rich’ in case they take fright and hide away. We gawp at, and cheer on, one London based couple receiving State handouts because they talk posh, are pretty and went to a decent school while baying for the blood of other State supported couples who have the temerity not to be born in a gilded tower in Mayfair but to have lived in some other smoke stacked tower in Kensington.

Frankie writes: “The contradictions of our society are managed by having an elite class who have internalised them, often through attending public school and Oxbridge (Oxbridge is a compound term formed from the words obnoxious and privilege). What we often think of as the self belief instilled by an elite education is really a kind of class exceptionalism, a belief that privilege is earned through talent and hard work, against all of the available evidence“.  Don’t confuse an ‘elite’ education’ with ‘education’.

Theresa May had an education. This included St. Juliana’s Convent School for Girls, a Roman Catholic independent school. When she was 13, May won a place at the former Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School, a state school in Wheatley. May then attended the University of Oxford where she read geography at St Hugh’s College, graduating with a second class BA degree.

I’m assuming the geography she read at Oxford included the ‘Ladybird of Book of the British Empire’, Capitalism for Dummies’ and ‘How to Airbrush History’.

Recently May stated “A free market economy, operating under the right rules and regulations, is the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created. It was the new combination which led societies out of darkness and stagnation and into the light of the modern age … That is unquestionably the best, and indeed the only sustainable, means of increasing the living standards of everyone in a country“.

May either does not know or wilfully ignores the fact that the ‘free market’ bit is bollocks, that neoliberalism is all rhetoric, not reality, one which serves the interests of Oligarchs and Plutocrats.  That the notion of ‘progress’ is blind to the past and present human suffering required to create it, that to call other eras, and human societies that exist or have existed ‘darkness and stagnation’ is the arrogance of Anglo-American modernity…a modernity that is consuming itself, the biosphere and the planet. May is the product of a petty bourgeois home, spouting petty bourgeois platitudes, to a petty bourgeois audience whose tears of joy at such banalities flow as acid to the hopes, dreams and ambitions of billions.

The Big Club cheers while it watches its rentier and casino finance wealth pile up in untouchable tax havens. The arms dealers, the tobacco Lords, the military-industrial complex, the fossil fuel and media Barons, shower themselves with praise and dividends while the little people are distracted by two morons with an arsenal of nuclear weapons whose size is only matched by ego.

 

Skip to toolbar