TFTD (30/4/9): When you saw the headline “Duffy named Poet Laureate”, did you, like me, have a momentary panic when you thought that a crap Welsh 60s throwback singer had been named as Andrew Motion’s successor? (That’s another stupid name, by the way: Motion. Makes one think of a really big poo.)
Anyway, I’m sure Carol Ann Duffy is a very fine poet, and got the gig entirely on merit, even though it’ll generate lots of squawking columnist bollocks about how it’s vital to have a woman Poet Laureate, blah blah blah.
when everyone was batting for Hillary Clinton, even though she’s a
liar, because “it would be nice to have a woman president.” What, will
woman do? Hey, how about Kerry Katona? She’s a woman. Just.
Anyway, good luck to Ms Duffy. There’s a fair chance that Prince Phillip will peg it on her watch, and his elegy should be a hoot to write. Shame Duffy’s not a real woman, though. She’s actually that orange bloke off the antiques programme.
TFTD (29/4/9): The first British victims of swine flu are a honeymoon couple, which suggests the illness may be brought on by prolonged, strenuous shagging. So just in case…
minute. My Facebook profile pic makes me look like a gay
How utterly, utterly wonderful.
* Do you know
a gay hairdresser from
Then if all became too much and he left abruptly with his family, because it wasn’t fair to expose his wife and daughter to this kind of outrageous, middle-class, rubber-shoed, publicly flaunting it fucking nancy-boy, etc, behaviour.
TFTD (25/4/9):I’ve got a new motorbike (actually, quite an old motorbike, a 10-year-old Yamaha FZS600 Fazer). My children have named it Frank, which is short for Mad Frankie Fazer. I'm slightly afraid of it, and so far I can only drive it as fast as a shopmobility scooter.
It’s quite pleasant up until Trefforest, which is where all the students get off. A lot of them are tremendously fit foreign students, whose parents are no doubt bursting with pride that their clever offspring are benefiting from a British university education (ie, three years stuck half-way up a scrubby, desperate Welsh mountainside).
After the multicultural lovelies get off among the dreaming spires of Trefforest, it’s full steam ahead to the Land Where the Tracksuit Pushes the Pram: Abercynon, Penrhiwceiber, Mountain Ash, Fernhill, Cwmbach – and finally, the end of the line, in so many ways, Aberdare.
The most depressing thing about the journey is the inhabitants’ blaring, glaring lack of pride in the place where they were born, live, and will die, at 55, from coronary heart disease.
Finished your crisps? Toss the packet into a stream. Bought a new sofa? Lob the old one into a stream. Car conked out? Set fire to it, and then roll it into a stream. The only things they do with any enthusiasm are heroin and littering.
Back on the train, I give my seat up to a young couple with a pram, who don’t say thank you, and then nick my paper. Bastards. And your baby’s ginger.
Similarly, the best bit of a sirloin steak is that marble-sized chunk that hangs off the end, surrounded by fat. It’s probably got a really patronising French name that translates as “the stupid moron shall not appreciate its rich savour”. But it doesn’t have an English language name (I asked my butcher) so therefore I shall christen it “the Aberdare”, in honour of my visit there later today.
TFTD (22/4/9): Things I learnt while racing at Silverstone, yesterday: 1) a Porsche 997 Carrera is a bit dull compared to the Ferrari 360, which is astonishing, but still not as fun as the Lotus Exige; 2) when racing single-seaters, he who brakes latest, wins, and it wasn't me; 3) the noise of a Ferrari 360 at 180mph is still not as fearsome as the sound of 84 nervous men taking their early morning dump. Ugh.
Me, yesterday, not braking aggressively enough, again.
Quality newspapers don’t do this. For heaven's sake, it’s the language of desperation. Then again, when you’re down to 33,000 copies, I suppose you have to blow up every mild utterance into a shrieking drama. And hope that your readers are so monumentally fucking stupid that they won’t notice.
I don’t know how many Welshmen will make the Lions squad when it’s announced at 1.30pm today. But I do know with absolute certainty that the Western Mail will declare them ‘ready to roar’. Sigh.
TFTD (19/4/9): I was in an auction house a couple of weeks ago when I came across – steady – this magnificent life-sized work of art. The sheer attention to loving anatomical detail is quite breath-taking. The girl on top is waggling a bronze tongue out, which I suppose is a bit sleazy, but in a way I like.
I would have taken more photos, but there were lots of people around. They were the usual parade of freaks you find at auction houses. They gave the distinct impression that it’s perfectly normal to have a giant bronze lesbian floorshow, but somehow wrong to take photos of it.
I nearly bid for it, because it would have made a great talking point in our hall. In the end, I emailed the pic to a couple of people I thought may want it, like my lesbian friend (who, coincidentally, already has a miniature version) and my brother, who replied, “No thanks, but if they’ve got one of a spit-roast I may be interested.”
TFTD (18/4/9): Things I learnt this weekend: 1) Just about the most fun you can have with a three-year-old is chasing a Brimstone butterfly on a quad bike; 2) The Llyn y Fan part of the Brecon Beacons is better than the Pen y Fan bit, and not nearly as busy; 3) There is not always enough oxygen to go round at a dinner party; 4) Tesco Culverhouse Cross is full of chavs.
TFTD (17/4/9): More pet hates, from my giant treasury of personal hatreds: people who refer to themselves self-pityingly as “Muggins here.” As in, “I suppose Muggins here will have to drive / clear up the sick / dispose of the body parts.” As a matter of fact, yes, now that you mention it, it is your turn. Again. Ha! Now get a move on, chop chop, you eternal victim.
TFTD (16/4/9): As any parent knows, a good DVD box set is a great substitute for the freedom / social life / sex life you used to enjoy before having children. So here are the Top Ten Best DVD Box Sets Ever, as breathlessly compiled by industry experts in a poll for DVD Ahoy! Magazine which I just made up, just now, here:
Six Feet Under
Band of Brothers
Oh, and I forgot: Mad Men.
Russell Brand’s act is called Scandalous, as befits a 90-minute cashing-in on all the controversies of the last couple of years.
Now I don’t begrudge Brand his fame or wealth. I’m not against the bullying of pensioners, or men with huge arses wearing leggings, or sexual incontinence, per se. I don’t care if he cashes in. But I do mind being cashed in on, especially since he wasn’t very funny.
Russell Brand and his big arse (to scale)
Season of bunnies and chocolate eggs, crucifixion, pubs closing
early on a Friday night, just when you fancy another pint, old ladies
“Ooh, isn’t Easter early/late this year?”, resurrection, etcetera.
And of course the Guardian prize crossword. They do a special one twice a year, at Christmas and Easter, set by Araucaria. Still haven’t finished this year’s crossword, which (so far) contains solutions like ‘imbricate’, ‘predicate’, ‘quandong’ and ‘the sacrament of unction’. Whatever that is.
TFTD (13/4/9): “I’m just the byline,” said modest Capt Richard Phillips after his dramatic rescue. “The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.” That’s all super and lovely, but our brave sailor has fallen into the surprisingly common trap of using the word “byline” without having the first fucking idea what it means.
A “byline” is not “a fleeting reference” or a “footnote”. A “byline” is simply this: a short phrase or paragraph that indicates the name of the author. Here’s an example:
In the latest of a series of increasingly bitter rants, Charles Williams bemoans the misuse of the word ‘byline’.
And that, Popeye, is what a byline looks like. A line that tells you who the piece is by. Honestly, if I was in charge, you’d be straight back in the lifeboat with the Somali pirates, and this time I’d give them knives, forks, a camping stove, and suggested recipes for cooking YOU. You twat.
Note: And no, I’m not lazily suggesting that all black people are cannibals. I’ve really thought this through. God, I’m getting sick of having to justify myself in footnotes.
In fact, she was utterly charming and delightful. Her radio persona is breathlessly bubbly and theatrical, which isn’t meant as a snooty criticism (she works in musical theatre, for heaven’s sake). But I’ve got this unfortunate habit of unconsciously mirroring the person to whom I’m talking, so within two minutes of chatting to her on air, I found I’d turned screamingly camp. Good job it wasn’t TV. I came across as a bad parody of an over-excited gay hairdresser for half an hour, then I skipped out of the studio, blowing kisses and shouting yoo-hoo to everyone I met. Then the effect wore off, and I was just left with an abiding sense of shame, remorse, self-loathing and (cont. p94).
Note: Not that genuinely gay men behave like this, of course . It's just the effect Shan had on me.
Shan Cothi Me, earlier today
TFTD (11/4/9): Here’s a game I used to play when I worked in the city centre. It’s called All Bus Drivers Are Murderers. It’s based on the premise that all bus drivers look like murderers. The object of the game is this: you - and a friend, if you have one - sit on a bench in Cardiff Central bus station, and watch the drivers. You then take it in turns to guess what kind of murder they committed. The winner is the one whose suggested murder best fits the appearance of the driver. Here are some examples: child murderer; stabbed own best friend after drunken pub argument; suffocated fat wife with dirty sock during sex game; another child murderer; poisoned elderly neighbour with strychnine; shot taxi driver in bungled robbery; frenzied hammer attack on teenage crack-addicted prostitute, etc etc.
And here are some pictures of bus drivers. Go on, have a go:
When I worked for Western Mail & Echo, it was impossible to tell if the Echo vendors belonged to the living or the dead, or to some mysterious netherworld in between.
o’clock, as the first edition of the Echo rolled off the presses, the
loomed out of the
They came from high-rise tenements and lowland marshes, from graveyards and sewers. The first glimpse of a bobble hat steadily rising from the waters of the River Taff, a hulking body emerging beneath. From beneath a metal grate, fingers claw at the dank air. A figure descending the frigid morning skyline like Mary Poppins, holding a crutch instead of an umbrella.
summoned, they load up their trolleys with still-warm piles of South
Echo, and float swiftly and silently to their vending points, following
ley-lines miles beneath the
* The copper’s guilty, of course. But he’ll get off.
TFTD (9/4/9): I used to work with someone whose idea of funny writing was to insert funny words into her copy. ‘Pooch’ instead of ‘dog’. ‘Bonce’ rather than ‘head’. ‘Tootsies’ for ‘toes’. Then, to reinforce the hilarity, she’d add some exclamation marks!! To make it even funnier!!! I expect she thought she was being ‘zany’ which is, incidentally, the worst word in the English language, or indeed any language, ever.
p.s. While we’re on the subject, newspaper sub-editors refer to the exclamation mark as a “dog’s cock”.
TFTD (8/4/9): I’ve discovered the world’s worst TV programme, worse even than Horne & Corden. It’s called Freaky Eaters. It was on BBC3 last night. It made me shout with rage at the television. Freaky Eaters is a 30-minute waste of everyone’s time in which a hairdresser called Richard whines about how he doesn’t like vegetables. So what? Who gives a shit, you bed-wetting, thumb-sucking oxygen thief? Every day, millions of people around the world are dying of starvation and proper diseases.
So go on, tuck in. Eat the burger. Die of bowel cancer at 48. Nobody will mourn, not even your astonishingly ginger ‘husband’. He’ll find someone else so fast that he won’t even bother to collect your ashes from the crematorium.
But no. A “nutrition expert” makes Richard throw 20 quid’s worth of chocolate in the bin, which makes a gentle rustling noise like parched earth falling onto the swaddled corpses of 10 million African babies.
The climax of the programme is when Richard has to eat some pizza. “Richard doesn’t know what to do,” said the narrator.
“I know,” I shout. “How about you lie on the floor and I kick you in the face with steel toe-capped boots?”
What’s that, Coma Dog? A picture? Oh, alright…
TFTD (7/4/9): Things I discovered today: 1) Digging out 10 tons of concrete with a pneumatic drill, and barrowing it into a skip, is quite hard work. 2) Vox Patris Caelestic, by William Mundy.
TFTD (6/4/9): How depressing. The Times website is overrun by Americans, who add their pea-brained opinions to news stories, mainly to the effect that whatever happens in the world, it’s all part of GOD’s big PLAN. Religious Americans like to throw in random capitals. It’s because it PROVES they are RIGHT. Although more often it simply reveals them to be as THICK as PIGSHIT.
Today our American friends are banging on about the authenticity of the Turin Shroud, perhaps the most famous of holy relics, whose number also includes the lesser known but equally fascinating Llandeilo Shroud (illustrated below):
like fancy food. I like meat and two veg, me. Proper British food.” Now
here. Let's not for a moment indulge your ridiculous conceit that being
a picky eater is something to be proud of. You're not Winston Churchill
waving a rolled-up umbrella at the Hun. You’re not making a noble stand
on a point of patriotic principle. You’re just a tiresome,
pucker-mouthed waste of space. And a
(4/4/9): I’ve been
following the whole G20 thing with interest, and now that Obama has
You’re probably wondering what this would look like. So here, thanks to the miracle of MS Paint:
TFTD (3/4/9): In Llandeilo today I popped into the butcher’s for some bacon, and came out with some invaluable advice on illegal file-sharing software. UTorrent is the way forward, apparently. Now you don’t get service like that in Tesco.
This was the late 80s / early 90s, the darkest hours of PC kristallnacht, when you weren’t allowed to hold views that were not strictly in accordance with those of the Socialist Workers’ Student Society. I always thought this was ironic – the Student Union was always banging on about the rights of minorities, but when it found minorities in its own midst - like the Pro Life Society (three mad Catholic women), or the Young Conservatives (a posh young man who is almost certainly an MP now, although it’s entirely possible he’s switched to New Labour) – they were persecuted with a terrifying zeal.
(31/3/9): I went to
an NSPCC fundraiser at the weekend. Which reminds me of the
funniest bit of
child abuse I ever heard. I was in a shop in the Morgan Arcade, when a
The man left the boy in charge of the toddler, but the boy soon got bored, and let go of the pushchair. It toppled over backwards under the weight of the bags, and the toddler starting wailing like an air-raid siren. The man bundled over and furiously jabbed his finger into the boy’s chest. “Right,” he said. “You’ve done it this time. I’m going to get you for this.”
Then he lowered his voice, put his face close to the boy’s and said, “I’m going to do it when you’re not expecting it. I’m going to do it when you’re asleep.”
If you’re into the psychological torture of children, you’ve got to admit, it’s a masterpiece. I was so stunned, I’m afraid I burst out laughing. Not very nice, but it did kind of help. The bloke noticed me laughing, and then he ruffled the boy’s hair in a not unkind way, in a way that suggested he wasn’t really going to murder him in his sleep. Not that night. I hope not, anyway. Because then I’d feel guilty. But hey, I did go to an NSPCC fundraiser this weekend, so that makes us evens.
Let me do
everything for you cos you deserve it
Prepare your meal and make your bed
Cos you are so worth it
It’s the phrase ‘prepare your meal’ that bothers me. It’s tantalisingly short on detail. What kind of meal will you be preparing, Lionel? How will you ‘prepare’ it? Will it be nutritionally balanced? Will you be providing a serviette, or at least a piece of kitchen roll folded into a neat triangle? We need to know.
Ah, but Lionel is no fool. Any lady who sits down to Lionel’s nutritionally-balanced love-meal knows the deal: pretty soon, Lionel will be heaving away on top of her like a big-chinned steam-hammer. So above all, Lionel’s nutritionally-balanced love-meal has to be easily digestible, so that she won’t throw up. Can you imagine what Lionel’s sex face looks like (ie, like his normal face, only sweaty and gurning)? Jesus.
Anyway, if you’re planning a nutritionally-balanced love-meal, here’s what Lionel recommends:
Cream of mushroom soup
Savoury pancakes, served with carrots and peas
Slice of bread and butter
Coffee and mints
What’s that, Coma Dog? Do I have a picture of Lionel preparing a nutritionally balanced love-meal? Yes, Coma Dog, indeed I do. Here he is 'preparing your meal' of tuna bake. Enjoy, lucky lady:
* Lionel Richie wrote and performed the original version of the classic Bird’s Eye Potato Waffles (they’re waffley versatile).
* In the video for Lionel Richie’s 1984 classic Hello, an attractive blind girl ‘sees’ Lionel’s face for the first time by exploring it with her fingers. The camera lingers on the girl's expression as it collapses in horror, and she begins to scream. Twenty-five years later, she is still screaming.
*Lionel Richie’s tour bus contains a kitchenette, specifically for the preparation of nutritionally balanced love-meals. Compare/contrast this with Marti Pellow, whose tour bus is followed by a skip lorry hired from Nelson Skip Hire near Caerphilly. Whenever Marti wants to shag a groupie, the road crew have to unload the skip into the nearest available pub car park so that Marti can take the lucky girl behind it.
In the building trade, the hammer is jocularly known as ‘the universal adjuster’. Although in northern