Friday 31 October 2008

Easy listening

For a dose of weird and wonderful music that may well make you wish you'd been born deaf, tune in to Hiranimation and Mike on Freshair, Friday evenings at 5pm GMT.

Just go to at the appointed hour, and click Listen Live. Alternatively, you can get it through College Radio Stations ('Freshair') via iTunes.

NB This isn't a sponsored ad*.

* Alright, it is. But the 'sponsorship' was real small.

Branded 3: final edition

Nation Holds Its Breath
as we wait to see what will be on instead of Wossy tonight.

Branded 2

I've spent about 15 hours at the keyboard, trying to write something coherent (AND interesting) about Manuelgate. I haven't really come up with anything.

So imagine my joy when my mate James casually wired me this little nugget:

This Brand-Gate is ridiculous.

Why did no other 'artist' stand up for them? They must now know that producers are going to suck any daring or slightly risky material out for the foreseeable future. This whole thing could put British comedy back a generation. It took years to recover from Brass Eye, years filled with shite from Harry bloody Enfield and My sodding Family. Comedians should have spoken out, defending their right to make the occasional shite joke.

The BBC are the only bloody British broadcaster left putting any money into new comedy and now we'll be lucky if humour peeks its head out for anything more blue than As Time Goes By or Last of the Summer Wine just in case it might get savaged by a bunch of middle-Englander, Daily Mail-reading tosspots. And let's not get started on the hypocrisy of the media's reporting of this.

It's not Brand or Ross's fault that idiot journalists have been forced to write about the credit crunch for a month, a subject few understand and fewer still can write intelligently on. They must have been praying for a another story that middle England would care about. Hummmmpppphhhhh. Bugger, I may have started on the media hypocrisy...

Yours, in ranting, green ink, berserker mode,

Bastard. May trick-or-treaters shove eggs through his letter-box.

Aida (encore!)

I'm sure critics* aren't supposed to seek affirmation from their competitors (I only do it afterwards, I promise), but I was pleased - not to say 'relieved' - to see this in the hallowed pages of The Spectator.

* For better or worse, the Oxford Times referred to me this week as 'our critic'. Debate still raging as to which is more disconcerting: the notion of me as critic, or their use of the possessive.

Thursday 30 October 2008

The Wisdom of O.W. Toad

"It's the newly conscious young I mean, the ones with ambition and fresh diffidence, those who've learned the hard way that reach exceeds grasp nine times out of ten. How disappointed they are!"
- Margaret Atwood, 'Encouraging the Young', The Tent.

Not-so-celeste Aida

Aida. It's not a quiz. Just stand there and sing it. Loudly.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

John Prescott

... has eighteen hundred Facebook friends.



Things are getting out of control here in Hertfordshire:

Puppy's ear trapped in shredder

Tuesday 28 October 2008


Surely all of our devoted readers are by now up to speed on the story of Russell Brand and Wossy's childish phone call to Andrew 'Manuel' Sachs, in which Wossy told him Brand had doinked his granddaughter.

So far, not-so-hilarious, one might think (and much like Fawlty Towers in that regard.) So not-so-hilarious, in fact, that The Times ran an editorial denouncing the prank. Ouch.

Two questions, though:

1) Sachs' granddaughter is an innocent young lady called Georgina Baillie... who also goes by the name of 'Voluptua', belongs to a group called Satanic Sluts Extreme and describes herself publicly as a swinger.

None of which warrants a call to Sachs' house, of course, but might be considered to give Brand and Ross some wriggle room when it comes to writing their apologies. (Not to mention that, if, heaven forfend, Ross's remark should turn out to be true, the Beeb can stop worrying about defamation suits.)

2) Lodging a complaint on Mr Sachs' behalf, theatrical agent Meg Pool said that the infamous 'Portuguese' prat-faller was "offended very much indeed."

Well NOW who's being childish?!

Headline of the week so far

High-speed train toilet attempts to eat Frenchman
(Thanks to Frank)

Musicohysteria!!! (now with flattened sevenths)

More from the future archives of Music Teacher:

How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)
Ross W. Duffin
W.W. Norton, £9.99, p196
ISBN: 978-0393334203

When William Gardiner lamented in 1832 that ‘the Deity seems to have left music in an unfinished state’ he was referring to a seeming paradox of tuning: if you start from C and keep adding fifths, twelve steps later you’re back at C… but out of tune.

Thank heavens, then, for the stroke of mathematical common sense that is equal temperament (ET), the elegantly efficient twelve-note, equally-spaced octave, which facilitates roaming modulation without endless re-tuning.


Not in Ross Duffin’s opinion. For Duffin, ET is nothing less than the bastard offspring of our musical ignorance and laziness, and is responsible, with its over-wide thirds and too-too-sharp leading notes, for hopelessly warping harmony in both its vertical and linear senses.

In this long essay Duffin complains that few musicians have ever actually experienced unequally-tempered music, and argues that we should once again embrace the many alternative tuning systems (Mozart heard ‘richer, more dramatic chords’, etc.). He narrates the struggles performers have maintained, even recently, to avoid ET. He explains why so-called enharmonics really cannot be the same note (just as A- and B+ are not, alas, the same grade), and why even voice and strings, themselves not shackled to ET, are constrained when accompanied by instruments which are.

Notwithstanding his distracting and oddly patronising info-boxes (which make the eye skip constantly, offer frequently irrelevant detail, and imply a totally implausible non-academic readership), the prose is as free-flowing as could reasonably be expected in a tract on acoustic physics, and the charts, scores, cartoons and other illustrations are a great boon when the going gets tough.

The big problem is Duffin’s basic street-preacher hysteria. Like all fundamentalists, of course, Duffin claims he’s on the side of reason (while melodramatically comparing ET to lethal sonic weaponry); but, rather like the geek-advocates of vinyl records, he fails to convince that the musical characteristics of alternative temperaments are actually preferable, rather than simply unavoidable.

In his academic isolation, he waxes wroth about the ‘excruciating discrepancy’ of the rigged ET. (An error, for the record, of a quarter of a semitone across the entire keyboard: a slip of 0.014%. You could get trial drugs certified with worse odds.) Practically speaking, he ultimately wants every piece of music played in the composer’s preferred temperament – a lovely idea, so long as you’re not running a school orchestra.

At best, Duffin’s argument is theoretically fascinating, but essentially irrelevant; at worst, it reads like an argument in defence of oral poetry which ends up clamouring for the abolition of the printed word. So we ask the age-old question: isn’t progress called progress for a reason? Of all the various and considered attempts to ‘balance euphony with utility’ it was ET that won out. The democracy of tuning systems, equal temperament is flawed as a direct result of its inherent equality, comprehensible to all (in principle, if not in detail), and the least bad – and most practicable – of the available options. It is also, to borrow a phrase, the end of harmonic history.

Saturday 25 October 2008

Friday 24 October 2008

Seffrican politics LATEST

Warning all male tourists

Strike Malaysia from your list. There's nothing to see there.

Er, can you run that one by me again?

A British Army translator accused of spying for Iran was a voodoo priest who used black magic to protect the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Taliban

Thursday 23 October 2008

Hold the front page!

I went to a marvellous party last night, on Bond St., to mark the launch of Ralph Lauren's Black Label suits and fragrance collection. I drank my body-weight in quality champagne, picked up a free copy of Esquire (mine hosts for the evening) and got a large and complimentary bottle of exceedingly expensive RL splash.

But by far the highlight of the evening was hearing the MC announce that black never really goes out of style, and that you can always dress it down a bit by wearing the jacket with a pair of jeans.

I tell you, the road to Damascus had nothing on this.

Wednesday 22 October 2008


Naked man found wedged in chimney

At last!

MPs demand action over toilets

Local councils should be forced to draw up annual public toilet strategies, MPs said amid fears of a decline in provision and quality.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Thought for the day

"Those who can't, teach."

WARNING - Excludes military fitness instructors.

Monday 20 October 2008

Theatrical craziness

Charitable types attempt to stage a musical with only 48hrs' prep.

My and My Girl, this weekend, at the London Palladium.

Friday 17 October 2008

War on Terror UPDATE

An important victory in Ramsbottom

Ninja cat

I may be the only person with a computer in the entire world who hasn't seen this before, and my instincts tell me my fellow amnesiac isn't going to thank me for posting a cute animal video on 'his' blog, but nevertheless, this is pretty cool:

(Thanks to Whop Corn - i.e. if you think this is too cutsie, blame her)

UPDATE: Even the Queen has seen it before...

Thursday 16 October 2008

OK, this time Obama has gone WAY TOO FAR

To accommodate a half-hour Obama time buy on Fox on Oct. 29, Major League Baseball has agreed to move the start time of World Series Game 6 by about 15 minutes. That would move the start of the game from 8:20 p.m. ET or so to 8:35 p.m.

Most sophisticated analysis of the Global Financial Meltdown that I have read so far

"We're all hosed."

I too was once billed as a political analyst

and this was exactly the kind of analysis I was doing

Sex on beach shocker

You mean, women still have sex at age 36?



And the Philadelphia Inquirer sums up the city's low-key celebrations:

women flashed the crowd amid the break-dancing and horn-honking

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Music from Mother Russia

Tenebrae's Christ Church performance of the Rach Vespers.

Handelian foolishness

ENO's Partenope, a riot of cross-dressing and moustaches.

Now with added hyphens.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Ailment of the day so far

Fan fatigue

Key quote: "It's going to be tossed."

Another key quote: "I'm warning you with peace and love."

Never mind the credit crunch

What are we going to do about hitchhiking spiders?

Fact of the day so far

Via the BBC:

If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00. With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1000. With WorldCom, you would have less than $5.00 left. If you had purchased $1000.00 of Delta Air Lines stock you would have $49.00 left. If you had purchased United Airlines, you would have nothing left. But, if you had purchased $1000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, and then turned in the cans for recycling, you would have $214.00.

Re: Sprung!

Funny, I didn't know that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy included any hot sex scenes.



"A journalist works harder than any other lazy man in the world."
- Anon. [but probably a journalist]

Too true. Last night I got up from watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to discover I'd pulled a muscle in my elbow.

Monday 13 October 2008

Re: Relationship advice

There's a nice RSPCA sanctuary up my way.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Relationship advice

"A bird and a fish may fall in love, but where will they live?"
- Chinese proverb

Is there anyone else out there

... who's finding it hard to feel sorry for Lakshmi Mittal, Roman Abramovich and everyone else who can AFFORD to lose £20bn?

How to defy the Global Financial Meltdown

1. Withdraw $30 million from your bank account.
2. Blast yourself into space.
3. Never come back.
4. Not unless you want to be greeted by an angry mob of earthlings who plan to blast you back up there.
5. You know, because they all now live in Tent City.
6. With the Joad family.

On the last train

Whether from fast food or alcohol consumption I do not know, but there seems to be some sort of hiccoughing epidemic, ranging from embarrassed little yelps to deep gutteral heaves.

Then another guy starts sneezing and can't - or WON'T - stop. Then sniffing, from some distant and invisible party.

What is going on? It is the plague?!

Bronze-tipped fags

Passing the Wilde statue on the way to the opera tonight I noticed some wag had put a fag end in Oscar's empty hand.

I'm sure he'd be most grateful. Though it brings a whole new meaning to 'waiting for the butt'.

Saturday 11 October 2008

Legoland, my Legoland!

Bloody kids coming over 'ere, and stealing our jobs.

The 5-Minute Management Course: 6 (and final)

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground, into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.

As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.

A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.


(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.

(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.

(3) When you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut.


"I was well aware of the demands I could put upon Russian basses! The audiences always listened with breathless suspense to the descent of the choir into the nether regions."
- Sergei Rachmaninov

Friday 10 October 2008

Non-smoking kills

Our national obsession with legislating away the rough edges of free living now has a definable body count.


Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the weak of stomach click this link.

The 5-Minute Management Course: 5

A turkey was chatting with a bull. 'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,' sighed the turkey, 'but I don't have the energy.'

'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull. 'They're packed with nutrients.'

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.


Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.


Excerpts from the superb McSweeney's compendium, Created In Darkness by Troubled Americans.

A man walks into a bar. He has a few drinks and chats with the bartender. Later that night, he goes home alone and reflects on the poor decisions he's made in life.

A mand and a woman are crossing the desert. They find a lamp in the sand. The man rubs the lamp and nothing happens. Afterwards, he feels a bit foolish.

A man is driving down a country road at night when his car gets a flat tire.
He stops by a local farmhouse and asks the owner if he can stay there for the night.
'Sure,' says the farmer. 'As long as you don't touch my three beautiful daughters.'
The man did as he was told because, frankly, he didn't find the girls nearly as attractive as their father seemed to.
(from 'The Newest From Jokeland' - Brodie H. Brockie and R.J. White)

Website of the day so far

Hats of Meat

(Thanks to WC)

Why I am putting myself up for adoption

I want to milk the benefits

Yes, but...

why did he do it? (The report never explains.)

NYC Man Sued Over 25-foot Viagra Rocket
Man Sued For Trademark Infringement After He Towed A 25-foot-long Fake Viagra Rocket Around NYC (CBS)

Calling all Brysonites

Y'all can getchaselves a free Bill Bryson audiobook, right here.

Now don't say we never do anything for you.

We're all going to die

Poster at Swanley train station:

Diabetes kills more people than
breast and prostate cancer combined.
Now I'm not a medical man, but this seems to be verging on the hysterical. I mean, just how many people have breast and prostate cancer combined?

LIVE BLOGGING (until I fall asleep): NLCS Game 1, Dodgers @ Phillies

Top of the N-N-N-Ninth: Right, here we go. Lidge looking somethingorother. I cannot tell. I am hiding under my covers, listening to Joe Buck relay his stats.

Kemp up: Flies out. Phew.
Blake up: Looks like he's stepped off the set of The Tudor's. Flies out. Double phew. (Another well hit ball...)
DeWitt up: Owt.

Lead series 1-0

Bottom Eighth: Am getting nervous. Brad "Lights Out" Lidge hasn't blown a save all season, but... Well, I've still never trusted him. He manages to put a hell of a lot of men on base. It would be just typical if tonight was his first blown save - in by far the most important game of the year. Half an inning til we find out.


Top Eighth: This is a good game. Proof in the fact that I've miraculously managed to get through seven innings without once mentioning the Phanatic. If I do this again for Game 2, I promise to make up for the paucity of Phanatic posts tonight.

Bottom Seventh: Maddux on the mound. 355 wins in his career. Mind-boggling.

Taguchi screws up the bunt. His pop-up elicits the usual chorus of boos from the Philadelphia fans. Traditions must be upheld, I suppose. Still, at least Taguchi didn't pop out.

Brilliant play by DeWitt. Inning over.

Seventh inning stretch: A female air marshall sings 'God Bless America' a little aggressively. Sorry America, cannot hear this song without thinking of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land is Your Land'. Far superior. And please, bring back 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' as the only seventh inning chansonnette.

Top Seventh: Rocky theme tune is playin' on the PA, of course. You know those steps at the Museum of Art actually have two footprints on the top step for you to stand in for your Rocky pose Kodak moment? It's true. People travel from all across America to the Museum of Art just to stand in those footprints. Then they skip the museum and go for a cheesesteak.

Speaking of which, I am obliged to post this pic of myself and Cubano Phil outside Geno's in Philly, legendary home of the legendary cheesesteaks. The shot was taken at 4am. This is usually where we were at 4am.

Oooooh, The Professor Greg "Mad Dog" Maddux is getting loose in the Dodgers pen. I shall say this only once*: GREATEST PITCHER IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME OF BASEBALL.

*This is a lie. I will say it a lot. Maddux is the king.

Bottom Sixth: Perhaps it's the bloggin', but this game seems to be movin' apace. Am starting to think the Phils are waiting for me to nod off before they start hitting. Like the way the sex scene in a movie always occurs when you are out of the room, rifling fruitlessly through the refrigerator.

HOME RUN CHASE UTLEY! And you can forget my t-shirt theory. I shall wear it tomorrow, in his honour. Might slick my harris down with pomade, aussi.


Meanwhile, am starting to wonder if I've hosed up the structure of this live blogging. Not that it matters, at all, of course. But still, what's worth doing...

HOME RUN PAT THE BAT! Am DEFO doing the pomade thing in the morning. Torre comes for Lowe. Gotta feel a little sorry for the guy. Pitched terrific, but you can't keep a good power lineup down, I s'pose.


Chan Ho Park takes the mound for the Dodgers. Needs to keep the ball in the Chan Ho.

Top Sixth: Dodgers look goooood. Am trying to take my mind off it by thinking about how appropriate it is that the Dodgers of LA have a second baseman called Blake DeWitt, when Bobby DeWitt was a character in James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia. A fine book that.


Bottom Fifth: Right, Phillies bats need to wake up. Speaking of which, it's now 02:45 in my English bed. I miss America (and I bet she misses me too, the hussy).

Ooh, base hit Hamels. Sweet.

Trouble is, Lowe's sinker is sinking. And with it the Phils? (God, am I poetic, or what?)

Top Fifth: In a vain effort to shut me up, my fellow amnesiac has posted some stupid entry about Swanley train station above this post - even though this post is LIVE. Let it be known that I cannot be silenced that easily. Sorry, Beardface, you shoulda sent round a woman. You know who I've got in mind...

Bottom Fourth: To liven things up a bit, and to perhaps inspire a Phillies rally, here's a pic of me at Citizen's Bank Park:

Not to boast, but I think now's the time to announce that Cole Hamels is the friend of a friend of my girlfriend. We're really close.

Meanwhile, no rally. Maybe time for a t-shirt change. Villanova is not cutting the mustard.


Top Fourth: A lucky jam/dying quail by Kemp to lead off. Kills you, that kinda thing. Casey Blake reminds me of someone, too, but I can't remember who. Perhaps I just have doppelganger goggles on. Oh, and Derek Lowe is a bit like the guy who ran the radio station in Northern Exposure. I think the guy was also in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, though I didn't see the movie, so can't be sure, and can't be arsed to check IMDB (I'm watching the game, remember?).

On the hair front, I've noticed before that a significant portion of the Phillies players - Utley, Burrell, Werth, Dobbs - seem to flatten their hair with the same pomade George Clooney favours in O Brother Where Art Thou?

DeWitt sac fly. Kemp scores. Dodgers up by two.

Bottom third: Inning over before I got chance to adjust my duvet. The Flyin' Hawaiian, Shane Victorino (whose name elicits howls of derisive laughter from my Miami-basebd pal Cubano Phil), tries to squash Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe on top of first base. A cunning plan, say I.

Top third: More on lookalikes. The super at my apartment block in Bryn Mawr, PA, (where the ceiling caved in) was THE SPITTING IMAGE of Yankees captain, Derek Jeter. Maddeningly, I don't have any pics of Marlon, but he used to go around with a Yankees cap perched on his head (what a give away!). Plus, when Jeter turned over his ankle, Marlon turned up the next day limping (true story). He also did nothing about my collapsed ceiling. I really liked him though. I told him he looked like Jeter's twin and he said, "Yeah, so everyone is always telling me that, you know." He also said, "'Sup?" whenever I greeted him with a hearty, "Good morning."

Meanwhile, the Dodgers look frisky. Cole pitching ok - I do love him so (he's the screensaver on my other computer; on this one, the honour goes to an aerial shot of the first night game at heaven Camden Yards), but it just feels like the Dodgers are currently on an unstoppable roll. Cue Phillies rout?

Bottom second (breasts first?): No offence to the Fox commentary team, but games at Citizen's Bank Park just ain't the same without the sonorous tones of the great Harry Kalas.

Lowe doesn't like any of the balls the ump is throwing him. Pat the Bat rips one into left, but Bozza Manny makes a nice defensive play. An ominous sign. The Mayor of London lookalike is obviously up for it tonight.

Werth grounds into a DP. I should point out (for my own reference) that the Dodgers are on my list of favourite teams, but my ties to the Phillies make this a no-brainer. I lived in Philadelphia not so long ago and was a regular at Citizen's Bank Park, which I came to think of as my second home (partly because the bathroom ceiling caved in in my first home).

Top of the second: While we on the subject of lookalikes (c.f. Hamels/Fonda), as I've said before, Joe Torre is a dead ringer for Kevin's dad in The Wonder Years. Also, and this is a weird one, Manny Ramirez has always reminded me of London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Perhaps they are related. Decide for yourselves:


I am quite serious about this. Their mannerisms are identical, except that Bozza is not a surefire Hall of Famer. Though if he ever played baseball, he'd definitely be a slugger.


Bottom of the first: I have been torn about what to wear for tonight's encounter. My plan, obviously, was to don one of my Phillies tees - probo the blue Utley 22. Instead, for fear of hexing things somehow by stripping naked, I've stuck with the navy Villanova tee I've been wearing all day. I figure it should do the same (good or bad). Earlier today, several rabbit droppings crept into my sock and I squelched them under my foot. This information is not relevant to the game, but I figured I should get it in while I can. Derek Lowe on the mound for LA. I'm a big fan, but pleased as Utley (who is in a bit of a slump, and from now on will simply be referred to as Chase) gets a base hit.


Top of the first: Hamels already in the soup. Ethier doubles, Manny doubles, Dodgers on the board. Hamels looks like a young Peter Fonda. A moot point, in that he is unlikely to look like an old Peter Fonda.

PRE-GAME: Rather than sit here by my lonesome, I thought I'd share the love, from my bed, in which either a spider bit me or a wasp stung me last night. Yes, my love life is really that wild.

Thursday 9 October 2008

My plans to sue lots of countries

Financial crisis: Gordon Brown to sue Iceland over near £1bn of frozen bank deposits (Telegraph)
Until I read that, I'd really no idea one could sue A COUNTRY!

For obvious reasons, this information fills me with new hope for my future financial security!


1. Great Britain
For years of untold misery.

2. The United States
For not letting me make any money when I lived there. Also, for not letting me run for President.

3. France

4. France again

5. Turkey
I once got ripped off by a gold salesman on the Turkish coast. He liked the colour of my hair - which at the time was blindingly blonde - and tried to pawn my wig. (At least, this is how I now remember it.)

6. Portugal
My father recently fell down a hill in Porto and dislocated his shoulder. (This one really happened, and I've got the photographs to prove it. Also, my dad proposed to the two Portuguese hotties who rescued him in their ambulance. They will make ideal character witnesses - so long as they first drop their pending lawsuits against my dad.)

7. Paris
Technically not a country, but I once got the runs from an incredibly strong cup of laxative coffee. The bog in my sister's apartment was blocked for the next fourteen months.

8. Peru
For selling me poor quality marching powder back in the nineties and frying all of my brain cells that were good with money.

9. Australia
For repeatedly humiliating us in the Ashes.

10. Russia
Because I really hate Russia and just want to bring it down.

My father on the Global Financial Crisis

"To my credit, I've been predicting this for at least the last thirty years."
Me: Er, OK...

Oh, so that's what I'm doing wrong

Whether or not Le Clézio is the worthiest winner [of the Nobel Prize for literature] will await judgment by those authorities in the English-speaking world qualified to pronounce on the issue ... I've put in my order for the English translation of the novelist's early masterpiece, Le Procès-Verbal (The Interrogation). A work, apparently, whose narrative technique was influenced by the author's residence among a tribe of Panamanian Indians.
NOTE TO SELF: Must stop using outmoded Westocentric narrative techniques (when writing).

I thought I heard something

SEVERAL DIFFERENT forms of messages have been beamed into space today in the hope that they will somehow reach an intelligent life-form and receive a response.
My reponse: Leave me alone, I'm eating.

The 5-Minute Management Course: 4

An eagle was sitting on a tree, resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?'

The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.'

So the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.


To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Thought for the Millennium

Dessicant silica gel.


REVEALED: How we are going to pay for the financial bailout of the banking sector

More speeding fines.

[REMEMBER: The Home Office is more cunning than you. Always.]

The song of the fowl will be heard in the city

Interview with Ian Partridge, retiring tenor.

Why can't they all have had one-armed piano teachers? It would make interviewing so much easier!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Portrait by the Artist of a Young Woman

Review of Girl With A Pearl Earring, Haymarket Theatre.

I hereby claim the first use of 'Yoink' in the Oxford Times.

Best excuse yet...

... for trying to dodge taxes.

Sneaky fucking Russians.

Proof that there is a God

The 5-Minute Management Course: 3

A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a genie comes out. The genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.'

'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk. 'I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.' Puff! She's gone.

'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.' Puff! He's gone.

'OK, you're up,' the genie says to the manager.

The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch.'


Always let your boss have the first say.

Vote Palin!!!!!!!!!

“That's what I say that I like every American I am speaking with we're ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bailout, but ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, um, helping the, oh, it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and, and putting it back on the right track; so healthcare reform, and reducing taxes and reigning in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans and trade we have we got to see trade as opportunity not as, a, a, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today we, we've got to look at that as more opportunity, all of those things under the umbrella of job creation, this bailout is a part of that.”
Verbatim. (Via Martin Samuel - The Times)

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Thom Yorke

hasn't changed in thirty-two years

Thought for the day

"I think, actually, that I'm right about almost everythying."

- DS Hilton

I Barbiere di West Malling

My hairdresser, Phil, is a man of rare wit and charm.

He staffs his salon exclusively with attractive girls, knows how I take my coffee (orally) and can use words like 'equilibrium', 'meretricious' and 'notwithstanding'.

I saw him this morning. "Trust me," he said. And then gave me a mullet.

The 5-Minute Management Course: 2

A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her habit to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.

The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.

The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest apologized: 'Sorry, sister, but the flesh is weak.'

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129.

It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'


If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

News Just In

Bodies rot. Who knew?

Evidently not the church officials attempting to exhume the remains of John Henry Newman (Britain's first candidate for canonisation in nearly 40 years) who rolled the stone away to find only the brass from his coffin and a couple of red tassels from his hat.

Hardline Catholics might take it for granted that the Cardinal's mortal remains have been snatched up to Heaven. But then you know what they say about assumptions.

Mirthless irony of the week

Luke McCormick, the Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper who 'fell asleep' at the wheel (while shit-faced, by complete coincidence) and killed two kids...

... had appeared in a road-safety video, scheduled for imminent release.

Monday 6 October 2008

School Daze

Girl fed school staff hash cakes

The 5-Minute Management Course: 1

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up. The doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbor.

Before she says a word, Bob says, 'I'll give you $800 to drop that towel.'

After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.

The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, 'Who was that?'

'It was Bob the next door neighbor,' she replies.

'Great!' the husband says, 'did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?'


If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.


During a break in rehearsals for last Friday's Brahms gig [see below], my eye fell upon a 6'x2' banner bearing the following inscription:

"It's not the wheelchair that makes sex awkward: it's people's preconceptions."
Now I've been pretty hard working of late, and I'd already had a couple that afternoon... So I shook my head a bit and blinked a few times, in case, y'know, my tired eyes were playing some sort of trick on me.

But no. Wheelchair sex: 12sq feet of it, right there in front of me.

I became aware of the presence of a woman (it's a gift: I can't control it), just behind me. She looked nervous. 'We wondered about taking it down,' she said apologetically, 'in case people were offended. It is a church after all.' It seemed only fair to set her mind at rest.

'Yup,' I replied. 'I mean, I'm about as open-minded as they come - it's not a church, by the way; it's a concert venue - but that's just plain wrong. Also, I'm guessing it really is the wheelchair that gets in the way.'

She said nothing. But the poster was gone before the first punters arrived.

Sunday 5 October 2008


Aw, what the hell. Pistache is hilarious - buy 10 copies for Christmas presents: you can get it in FOPP. Herewith, Faulks' back-flap 'biog', by way of a taster.

"The author was born in Vilnius in 1969 and educated by Russian monks. He learned English while working as a deckhand in Odessa.

His first novel Shortlist was longlisted for the Bass-Charrington Book of the Week. His collection of sea poetry, Port List, was nominated for the Rowntrees Silver Pastille. His most recent book, Through a Dark Ghastly, was runner-up in the Watney-Mann Bookend of Longlists.

He is married to his work and lives in Fier, in the Albanian lowlands."


As anyone who was at my book-launch can relate, typos are a sore point with me (though obviously I like that funny story about Dan 'Tomatoe' Quayle as much as the next man...). So I thought I'd share these two meta-literary gems with you.

From the Acknowledgements section of a book which I shall not name, since I know the author and would like to remain on speaking terms with him:

"Heartfelt thanks... to Dr Owen Marshall and writing his class of 2001...."
and from the same section of Sebastian Faulks' excellent Pistache*:

"May I finally thank Mrs Brenda Wigwam for the diligence and the dedication she brought to her unsurpassably brilliant proof-reding."
Which is the last word in the book.

* pronounce it like the ski run plus the dull pain in your legs you get from spending too much time on same.

Try this on for size

Running past Tesco today (for health reasons, you understand, not by way of a nervous reaction), I realised there was rain-water coming up into my shoe.

Turns out the crux of the new Adidas Climacool system is that essentially my trainers have no sole.

Fitting, I thought.

Friday 3 October 2008

You're gonna die, Clown!

Purely for Dom's delectation, ENO's new production of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci (or Cav & Pag, innit?).

YOU try reviewing two shows in 500 words.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Mildly disconcerting food packaging encounter of the day so far

life's tough... at least there's pizza
[As seen on a box of M&S cheese and tomato pizza]

Wednesday 1 October 2008

For the record, this is exactly what happened to us

IRAN'S Interior Minister Ali Kordan has admitted to holding a fake Oxford University degree which he thought was valid, coming clean after weeks of controversy, a newspaper reported today.

"In a letter to the president on Saturday, Ali Kordan said he had pressed charges against the person who claimed to represent Oxford University in Tehran as soon as he realised his degree was fake," the government daily Iran said.
Thanks to Frank, who recognised the similarity in our cases. If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of this con man in Tehran, please contact this blog. We too want our money back.

Re: Re:(taliatory) Wisdom


Re:(taliatory) wisdom

I don't consort with g)1) and g)2* are too busy flirting with me to ask about my finances; besides, the drinks are free on a plane.

And you know my views on 0) golf is the 'sport' of Shaitan.

As for

e) motherS-in-law (like Attorneys General), perish the plural thought...
v) 'whom'
i) didn't go to public school
j) your mum loves it

* There are traditionally only 26 letters in our alphabet. As you'd know, if you'd been to a proper school.

Re: Wisdom

Actually, compadre, I have no intention of questioning that evident truism. (The fact that you are a gay Commie peacenik is another issue entirely.)

My only concern is that so much of the world doesn't think that way.

i.e. It's OK to think "The real measure of my wealth is how much I'd be worth if I lost all my money," but what do (the dreaded) other people think about your penniless philosophy? I'm thinking, in particular, of:

a) Women
b) Other women
c) Richos
d) Other richos
e) Potential father-in-laws
f) Potential mother-in-laws
g) Bank managers
e) Bailiffs
f) Snoots
g) Stewardesses who treat you like crap because you can't afford to fly first class
h) All the people we knew in Oxford
i) Your public school bumchums
j) Our parents
k) Americans
l) The Swiss
m) Japanese tourists
n) People at tennis clubs
o) People at golf clubs
p) Your relations (at family reunions)
q) Your parents' friends (who love to quiz you on your loserdom)
r) Other writers
s) Merchant wankers
t) Girls
u) Other girls
v) Waiters who you can't afford to tip
w) Your comrades in the soup kitchen who find out you were educated at Oxford
x) The literary world
y) The entire world (except practioners of Jain)
z) Aliens

Faulkner UPDATE

"I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it."
One wonders if Faulkner cut his teeth as a reviewer.

Kunst (Bunch of)

In case you're free this Friday night and fancy a bit of Brahms' Requiem (AKA If Hans Zimmer Had Thought of It First) or just want to see an amnesiac in white tie.

7:30pm, Friday Oct 3
St John's, Smith Square
Tickets: £12-£24 (-%20 for concs.) in aid of Leonard Cheshire Disability
Box office: 0207 222 1061 or


Doubtless my fellow amnesiac will accuse me of being a Commie, a gay and a peacenik for this, but - as the stock market reveals (again) this morning - it's not often you find words of any real wisdom where matters financial are concerned.

"The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money."

- Anon.
(B'sides, it's not really in either of our interests to question this evident truism.)