Sunday, December 12, 2004


It would appear I am unable to post anything longer than a sentence right 3 and 4 will have to wait until such time as either blogger or my browser or my computer decide to refrain from being, how shall I say...up it.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Why is it that every time I try and cut and paste from Word or even when I click on Publish, my browser crashes? Pray enlighten me someone...I fear I shall go mad.

Part 2

(Part 1 below)

I awoke in the forenoon, pulled on my robe and sallied forth into the kitchen where I found my friend quite naked save for a pair of the most threadbare of undergarments. It appeared that he had emptied most of the contents of our Frigidaire into a heavy bottomed skillet and was wielding this in a most alarming fashion over an intense flame.
"Spot of breakfast?"
I would have declined anyway but I must confess that the sight of him attempting to remove fallen ash from an egg yolk did nothing to improve my appetite.
"Suit yourself."
He shrugged and quite spectacularly broke wind from both orifices simultaneously. His delight at the accomplishment of this feat was not, I am proud to reveal, in the slightest degree infectious.
"My engagements. Do remind me."
"Well, you did contract to provide the Badger with a phongraphic recording of a Dr John recital."
"So I did. Fuck, fuck and thrice fuck. Much as I am loathe to disappoint, That will remain a set the Badger will have to live without for a few days. Gonads and possum droppings."
"Have you given any thought to our means of transportation?"
"None whatsoever. Minutae are your department."
"Well, there is the problem of the proximity of the available stations to our intended destination to consider; the 1745, whilst being an express, would involve a disembarkation at Balatonszentgyörgy whereas the 1857 would..."
"Bugger that. We'll take the motor."
My eager anticipation of the journey was thuswise brought to a sudden and abrupt halt. I always find it exceeding difficult to take in the pleasures of the passing countryside with both legs and arms constantly braced against the eventuality of sudden impact and even 'Frank's Wild Years' played at excrutiatingly high volume is seldom enough to completely drown out the anguished screams of unfortunate pedestrians.
So it is to spare your sensibilities that I will gloss over the journey and resume the narrative at 2045 on Thursday evening as we negotiated the junction of the two major westward highways into the capital.
"Ah, Gazdagrét...there we go."

Friday, December 10, 2004


Part 1

"It's really quite simple, old boy. Once you have dealt with the possible, all that remains is bullshit."
Thus my friend explained his easy dismissal of the two little monographs he was preparing.
"But, Kan!" I expostulated, "Have you no respect for your audience?"
"None whatsoever."
Much to my chagrin, I observed him sluice rather an excessive quantity of malt into a glass he had unearthed from beneath the disorder of his research material. He slumped heavily into his armchair and busied himself with his smoking accoutrements. Whether it was as a result of the alcohol or the nicotine, I cannot say; but the brown study that he had so recently fallen into seemed to abate somewhat and I was able to discern some small trace of a smile playing about his lips. I hesitated to engage him immediately in conversation; the memory of the wounds I had incurred on the last such occasion remained ever fresh in my mind.
"Even your limited powers of observation should allow you to notice the fact that besides this rather heavy cut-glass beaker, which could without doubt be the cause of a rather unseemly contusion were it not that its being outside of a good few fingers of Scotland's finest tends to mitigate against my using it as a projectile, I remain at this present moment entirely unarmed. Out with it, man!"
I considered, but only for the briefest of moments, subjecting this utterance to keen grammatical analysis but to risk losing the fleshy components of my other ear would have been foolhardy in the extreme.
"Well, far be it from me to..."
"Oh, let distance be no object. The further, the infinitely more preferable."
"Surely it cannot have escaped your attention that..."
"There are, fortunately, quite a sufficiency of items which escape my attention for the very good reason that they are entirely unworthy of receiving it. Pray continue, but only after you have lobbed me that bottle of Caol Ila. Thank you."
"Well, it seems to me that the very facts that you are to be handsomely remunerated for your services and that those wishing to attend your expositions are to be charged a registration fee, should lead towards your treating the situation with considerably more gravity."
"As ever, you are hidebound in your thinking. You have allowed yourself to be cowed by convention. Your vision is sorely limited; your reasoning, bobbins of the highest order."
He sank back even further into the upholstery and it was with no small sense of foreboding that I noticed he had dispensed with the glass and was drawing sustenance directly from the bottle.
"Surely their ready acceptance of my outrageous fee would indicate a rather unseemly desperation on their part, would it not? And as for my audience; well, we can discount that proportion whose limited grasp of the language would automatically dispose them to nod their heads in sage agreement with whatever utterance I might care to make, planned or otherwise; so too may we ignore those whose sole motivation for attending is to avail themselves of the opportunity of visiting the, shall we say less salubrious dens of the capital. They will be all too preoccupied with the fine tuning of the numerous inventions necessary for the apparently adventitious completion of their expenses forms."
The beaker had fallen off the arm of the chair and was thus, out of his reach.
"Not in the sense of accidental, I admit but rather in the sense of unplanned, you tit."
I could see him weighing the equation in his mind. The effort that should be expended in retrieving the beaker measured against the pleasure of scoring a direct hit upon my person. Lethargy prevailed.
"And the remainder?"
I sensed that his train had been momentarily de-railed by my interjection and was desirous of trammelling his thoughts to the matter in hand. His predilection for committing acts of random brutality when unfocussed was uppermost in my mind.
"You appear, in your haste to find fault with my reasoning, to have overlooked the fact that my grasp of the subject matter is so complete as to allow me to make of even the most banal observation a scintillating gem of science and convolution. They will be impressed even if they do not wholly follow. Your gainsaying and constant pessimism disgust me. Pray excuse me whilst I expectorate."
And so I took my leave. The relief I felt was not entirely due to my having escaped without physical injury but more because it always pained me to witness the gradual descent into shameless depravity which inevitably resulted from his submission to the temptation of the malt. Besides, another few fingers and he would start misquoting Aeschylus. I knew from bitter experience that my desire to correct him would get the better of me and I had no wish to reacquaint myself with the prosthetics so soon after the last occasion. I donned my nightdress and retired for the night.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Right, they're finished and right little bobby dazzlers they are, too. The Capital awaits and I'm off. Don't wish me luck. Awfully bad form, dontcha know?

Pip pip!

Monday, November 29, 2004


Before I go down for the third and, quite probably, the last time, I rather thought a cry for help might be in order.

Unusually for me, my powers of persuasion have proved too weak to convince the client that changing the titles of my two lectures might not be all that disastrous an idea. I was up against the power of advertising you see. I am informed that my presence in the capital has already been heralded as indeed, have the titles of my little presentations. Hot diggedy spange-wanglers.

Doubtless the Kan visage is, at this very moment, adorning every lamppost on the faux parisienne boulevards of Pest; Buda is snowed under with tacky leaflets dropped at very little expense by hang-glider pilots suicidal enough to take off from Gellért Hill and throngs of eager participants are already building up to multiple orgasm at the mere thought of whatever pearls of wisdom I may have to impart.

Now before I reveal to you the full extent of my plight, I would ask you to bear in mind that my client is an internationally renowned company and that my audience will, in all probability, entirely consist of fully qualified teachers.

The forenoon, three-hour apéritif is entitled, 'All You Need to Know about Communicative Activities to Guarantee Success in Client's Examinations'.

Okay, not altogether inspiring but I am, nevertheless, confident in my abilities to bullshit upon it in an extremely convincing manner for however long it is they manage to stay awake.

The post-prandial cocktail however, is an equus of a not altogether similar hue. Going under the rather snappy title of, 'All You Need to Know about the Use of Mono-Lingual Dictionaries and Text Books to Guarantee Success in Client's Examinations', it has me completely stumped for the minute.

Excuse me? You did say that I have to explain to teachers how to use dictionaries and text books, didn't you? Thought so. Then might I be the first today to accuse you of such a display of supreme Friday Fuckwittedness on the receiving end of which I never imagined it would be my pleasure to be?

So...your challenge for today is...well, it's quite simple really. Help.

Advice along the lines of, "Get 'em all bladdered at lunch time and they'll never notice" has already been voted down as being impractical. I was brave and quoted what I thought was a hefty sum. They didn't even blink. Buggers can get pissed on their own money, then.

Hey ho.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Not wanting to appear presumptious or anything but for those of you who, for one reason or another, actually give a shit, I am in fact alive and well but am also, unfortunately, snowed under with more work than it may lie within my capacity to handle right now.

Notwithstanding the fact that I might well be outside the best part of a bottle of Chardonnay and am indulging of a rather delicious home and self made pizza (I am such a good cook) as I type, time is rather a precious commodity these days.

On top of my duties as an examiner and extra to the 22 lessons a week I already have, I have allowed myself to be persuaded into the devising, designing and subsequent teaching of a 14×45 minute, 3 or 4 week English course specific to the needs of Polish and Hungarian oil industry workers...those involved in the drilling for, to be precise.

Not a problem per se, but when the boss desirous of procuring such a course, upon hearing my quotation for provision of same, reacts thusly, "Is that all?", one may be forgiven the odd expletive or two and even the subsequent lack of any motivation whatsoever. I guess I must lack the killer, capitalist instinct or somesuch. Whatever.

The Town Hall was also kind enough to get in touch this week to sound me out as to the possibility of the future provision of translation and interpreting services. My original thought was to reply, in a Robin Williams type Scottish accent, "Fuck off!", but I managed to check myself in time...told him that although I am diarrhoeatically fluent in the Hungarian that I know, that which I don't could fill volumes equivalent in capacity to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica...and informed him that I would be only too happy (you little fibber) to act as a 'lector' and check any translations that have been carried out by Hungarian nationals and are, therefore, as eny fule know, absolute bollocks. As the guy was obviously in doubt as to his ability to give good phone, he took my e-mail address and promised to be back in touch. Sad thing is, I think he will.

Strange being an ex-pat. You daren't turn down too much work in case everybody forgets about you. And although I am spread pretty thin at the moment...rather like Marmite should be in fact...from little acorns...

Talking about acorns, I had one of the 'Ice Age' variety (nowt but a shed load o' fuckin' trouble) drop on my electronic doorstep the other day. An international, and internationally renowned, company...the one my company is under contract to examine for, to be exact...has invited me to Budapest for Friday, December the third. Although one might think such a trip has a certain attraction, there is, as always, a catch.

The catch this time is that I would have to lecture to Hungarian teachers for two sessions of three hours each on 'All you need to know about communicative activities which guarantee success in ESOL and SESOL examinations' and 'All you need to know about the effective use of dictionaries and course books for ESOL and SESOL examinations'. All you need to know, eh? I know I'm a teacher nonpareil but...

Oh well, I think I'll go for it. Even if it is hardly an offer I can't refuse.

Friday, November 12, 2004


- Why are you crying, sweetheart?
- Because I miss Jess. Where is she? Is she in America?
- That's right.
- Well, can we get on a bus to America and go and see her?
- I don't think there are any buses to America, sausage. We'd have to get on a plane.
- Can we get on a plane, then?
- I don't think mummy and daddy have got enough money for that right now.
- Will we have enough money before Christmas?
- I don't think so.
- I'll open my piggy bank.
- I still don't think we'll have enough.
- Mmmmm. Can I send something to Ann, then?
- Of course you can, sweetheart. What would you like to send?
- Something for Christmas. I know. A Krampusz!
- I don't think she'll know what that is.
- Why not?
- I don't think they have Krampusz in America.
- Oh. I could go with the postman and tell her about it.
- It's a very long way, darling. Across a really big sea.
- Really, really big?
- Very big.
- Too big to swim?
- I'm afraid so.
- How does the postman get there, then?
- In a big ship.
- Hey, I forgot Tim. I'll have to send something for Tim, too.
- That's okay, sweetheart.
- How can we send it?
- In a big box.
- A big box?
- Yes.
- A really big box?
- If you like.
- Then what if I get in the box and you can send me?

etc etc etc.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


An electronic correspondence. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

From: Simon
Date: 11/11/04 12:19:03
To: Perky Secretary
Subject: Re: exams

...and a jolly good day to you, P.S.!

I did indeed receive the box this morning but unless you can convince me that only 32% of the total candidates for the recent examination entered the spoken part, I will find it exceeding difficult to escape the conclusion that I have been right royally shafted with regard to my polite request for more SESOL than ESOL. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I ought to thank you for providing me with an opportunity to practice my Hungarian. I now find I can swear for at least a minute without once repeating myself.

But, never fear. I shall not start marking them until my desire to, "Fail them all!" has subsided. This may take some time.

Oh well, I had better stop now, take a few deep breaths and silently count to a very large number indeed. If this fails, I shall pull on the biggest pair of boots I can find, go outside and kick the dog.

More SESOL please, or the dog gets it.

Toodle pip,


From: Perky Secretary
Date: 11/11/04 16:01:51
To: Simon
Subject: RE: exams

Hello Simon!

Let me see, what can I do for you…? You can haggle with me over this matter. Ok, I will try to send more SESL than ESOL but as you are so smart that you can mark both of them, you can help me if you mark the ESOL scripts also so please forgive me if you find some ESOL exams. I promise, next time you can get only SESL. Is it good for you?


Perky Secretary

From: Simon
Date: 11/11/04 16:23:47
To: Perky Secretary
Subject: RE: exams

Hello my little flowering rhododendron,

Who told you that flattering me always works? I'll bet it was that Bosswoman. May her armpits be infested with the fleas of a thousand camels.

Anyway, you have brought a rosy glow of pride to my cheeks and have made my dog very happy.

Thousands of blessings be upon you,


From: Perky Secretary
Date: 11/11/04 16:51:02
To: Simon
Subject: RE: exams

Well, nobody told me this trick, I’m sneaky alone. I was just off the top of my head. It can be successfull with a man.


Perky Secretary

Perky secretary is new. It would appear she is a very fast learner.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Thanks to Lamps and those wonderful people over at gprime, it gives me great pleasure to present the following for your viewing delight and delectation.

First up, footage of an experimental mass barber robot developed by the RAF as a military cost-cutting exercise. The plan was to line up all the squaddies and

Next up, in the category of 'engage brain before turning ignition key' we have what can only be described as a "Hey! Look at me! Look at me! Ooooops" moment. Here.

Those of you who have been saving up your spare change since you were three and a half and are at a bit of a loose end as to what to do with it, could follow the example of this guy who, with little or no thought to his own personal development or social skills, has single-handedly kept the arcade owners of Japan in sake and sushi as a result of the take from this machine alone. Here.

And finally, in the category of 'way too much time on one's hands' comes a nifty little manoeuvre you never thought you'd see in a game of table football. Here.

I realise that I'm a day late regarding the birthday but, what the hell. I'm going to have a bath anyway.

Monday, November 08, 2004


This blog is one year old today and I have absolutely nothing to say. So, anyone care to join me in raising a glass of Bunnahabhain? Cheers. Your very good health. Thank you.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


I'm not entirely sure where this is headed but you're welcome to hitch along for the ride if you promise to raise a glass or few with me as we go.

As is my wont, I read the Shoe yesterday and, as is her wont, she provided a post which turned into a bit of a brain worm and which has been gnawing away at the back of my mind all day.

Not the triple whammy she was suffering as a result of D.W. being D.W., Dubya being Dubya and Alfie being Alfie but rather several soundbites concerning US politics and European ignorance thereof.

I sympathise, I really do, with most of her admirable, honest and heartfelt sentiments but I just cannot, no matter how fervently I desire it or how much of this rather delectable red I drink, see any chance whatsoever of any of them being magically zapped into reality by a simple shake of the simple Texan's schlong.

One of her wishes was that America should become more isolationalist and not ship out her military, industry, business, time and materials anywhere. Minority of one, I think there, girl. Although I'm sure the people of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq would side with you on the military bit; and although I for one would have preferred the boss of the local GE factory not to have, allegedly, put pressure on the mayor of Nagykanizsa to refuse planning permission for Philips to build a factory in town, creating much needed jobs but probably pushing up GE's wage bill at the same time; and I'm sure we could all manage to live without Coca-Cola, Burger King, Starbucks and McDonald's, the likelihood of all that happening is on a par with me waking up tomorrow morning with a face full of Nastassia Kinsky's nether regions, albeit just as desirable. And anyway, you'll never be able to be at all isolationist as long as you depend on the import of foreign oil to fuel one of the most fuel inefficient economies on this planet. Saudi was becoming a bit hot and the Bush-bin Laden ties a tad too close to the surface so a decision was taken to relocate all military bases to Iraq. I await developments there with interest.

As an adjunct to this, a desire was expressed to see more attention paid to healthcare and the fights against crime, poverty and disease. Again, a wonderful ideal but all totally impossible in a society so driven by the buck as that of the US. Was it 600 million dollars spent on advertising alone in this presidential campaign? I wonder how much of that was insurance company donations? How can you hope to have an equitable system of healthcare in a country where the very mention of the word socialism is a guarantee of electoral suicide? And that is just what such a system would be...socialist. Funded by the rich to alleviate the suffering of the poor. Can't quite see that one catching on somehow.

Crime and poverty? Well, call me an old cynic but in a society where such a value is laid on conspicuous consumption, where people worship at the altars of mammon and celebrity and where everybody is under pressure to fulfill their own personal version of the American dream, then I guess crime is inevitable.

Poverty, likewise, will never be eradicated because of the aversion to socialist principles again. And, more pertinently, both crime and poverty are essential tools of the Bush administration in their desire to extend the climate of fear within the country. Be afraid. Be afraid of being mugged, shot, raped, blown up by terrists and of having your morals warped by those commie-pinko-foetus killing-liberal-Darwinist faggots. And be afraid of losing your job, of unionised labour, of cheap foreign imports, of immigrants stealing your, shucks...just be afraid okay? It's the American way.

And disease? Well, just who is suffering from diseases anyway? The poor, the disenfranchised, the illegals? You got the dosh, you get the doc...and the overpriced medication.

The Bush administration and even Republicanism come to that, is characterised, for me anyway, by huge defense spending, wars overseas to boost same and the rise of oil, big business and pharmaceutical lobbies to cabinet rank; tax relief for the very rich while persuading all the blue collars that the trickle down theory whereby they run after the rich guys catching the crumbs falling out of their pockets really works and by the instilling of fear into the population. Scared people are easily manipulated and there must have been at least a small part of the Republican machine that saw 9/11 as a godsend.

And the alternative? God give me strength. An entire campaign strategy based on "I am not George W. Bush" was hardly going to light a fire under the electorate was it? The timely bin Laden tape, on the other hand...

The news that "not a one of (the American electorate) cares what the rest of the world wanted" is bad news indeed. Carte blanche for the cronies to do whatever they like in and to the world at large in the sure and certain knowledge that the folks back home won't give a damn. An attitude that may yet come to haunt our very own Mr Blair one day in the not too distant.

The mole in the post, however, the depth charge, the small, strategically placed explosive detonation, the knife between the ribs, the dirty it whatsoever you will...was the very thing which chills me to the bone every time it pings among the little grey cells; just how could a large proportion of the intelligent electorate have turned out in their droves to vote for the candidate they thought best represented their interests? I say potato, you say...I see a chimp, you see...what exactly?

And it is here that we arrive at the very nub of the problem. Jess laments that she has yet to meet any European with a true understanding of the American psyche. Notwithstanding the facts that the reverse may well be true and that we voted in Thatcher for 12 absolutely miserable, hellish and unbearable years, it remains a blatant truth that we have no conception at all of just what it is that informs the thought processes of that non-existent individual, the average American.

We see the dichotomies, the wealth of paradox and the inherent contradictions but fail to see what it is that unifies them all into a coherent whole in their minds. It is particularly hard for us English. After all, they were English once, weren't they? They still speak our language. But we were here long before they were and, therefore, must know better. So what do we do? We patronise, we mock, we employ wit, irony and most of all, sarcasm, we denigrate, we disparage, we cock snooks in our self-righteous arrogance and the phrase, "only in America" trips lightly off our tongues. Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Updike, Hicks, Miller, Bird, Coltrane, Davis, Allbright, Carter, Chomsky, Bacall, Earhart, E. Roosevelt, King...abberations all and conveniently forgotten in our scathing desire to belittle.

But you're right, Jess. We don't understand your particular brand of patriotism. The educated Englishman is sceptical of too much flag waving, displaying and saluting and carries too much guilt from our colonial past to be patriotic in anything other than a post modern sense. The grunts will still wave the paper flags and will still turn up for royal occasions but God help us if they ever become truly representative.

To understand your respect for your president, we would have to have an equal respect for our monarch and, quite frankly my dear, I have little if any. We do not have the republican spirit because, quite simply, we are not a republic...we are not citizens but subjects and our country does not legally exist any more, so far have we sunk.

But it is your contradictions which absolutely boggle whatever is left of my mind...the longer the post, the greater the amount of alcohol consumed and this is a biggie...the irresolvable (is that a word?) dichotomies. Intelligence allied with a belief in creationism, tolerance with Republicanism, friendship with distrust, community spirit with individualism, isolationalism with interventionism, pacivism with a lust for war, compassion with hard-heartedness, generosity with greed, secularity with fundamentalist religiosity, Christianity with rampant right wingery, curiosity with narrow-mindedness, complication with simplicity, flexibility with rigidity, cosmopolitanism with xenophobia, mercy with the death penalty, basques with stiletto heels...ooops, now I know I've had too much.

I will not have the brazen effrontery to express the hope that possibly I have made sense here and, if you have been, I salute you.

G'night and God bless.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


And I've just seen my first Coca-Cola Christmas advert of the year. I am not a happy chappy. Wake me up when it's all over.


How could you? Falling for it once, I could understand...maybe. What is it with you guys? Giving that cretinous, god-bothering, knuckle-dragging, dumb-ass, jello-brained chimp and his satan-spawned cohorts another four fucking years? You deserve all you fucking well get. I hope you'll be very happy together. Just remember. Stay afraid, keep your kids indoors, hoard that food, install your panic rooms and buy like there's no tomorrow.

Just don't ask us to take you seriously any more, okay?

Sunday, October 31, 2004


I drink to our ruined house,
to the dolour of our lives,
to our loneliness together;
and to you I raise my glass,
to lying lips that have betrayed us,
to dead-cold, pitiless eyes,
and to the harsh realities:
That the world is brutal and coarse,
that God in fact has not saved us.

I'm feeling very Russian today.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


As you may or may not know, I have a fridge dedicated to stocks of Amstel and Stella lager type beers. It is an old one, of possible Soviet ancestry. It shed the door to its freezer compartment long since, the precise calibrations of its thermostat have long been forgotten and its light lit up only as the mood took it but it has, as stalwart as the defenders of Stalingrad, served me faithfully for many a long year.

Unfortunately, the ice around said freezer compartment had become, in the words of the great Don Van Vliet (ask councillor Bob, he'll know), fast and bulbous. A defrosting was in order.

So, making a rather uninformed assumption...the manual was in cyrillic...I depressed the button and waited. 24 hours later, I discerned a swelling pool neath its off-white mass and came to the inescapable conclusion that I had pressed the right button. I opened the door further...such an adventurous life I lead, wouldn't you say...and was faced with just as massive a bulk of ice as I had been heretofore and hitherto. Only this time it had a surface sheen of fresh melt.

Now, maybe I should have elaborated on the geographical position of said fridge but I will do so now. It is wedged at the far, narrow end of my larder/pantry/utility room...a kind of indoor shed if the truth be known...and the water it sheds during defrosting escapes via a pipe extruding from its rear. Under normal circumstances that is. Normal circumstances being obviously those under which less volume of ice has accrued due to the lassissitude of the owner of the aforementioned appliance. Present circumstances were such that water was haemorrhaging, niagara like out of the door cavity and it was only the precipient application of numerous towels that prevented serious warpage of floorboards in the great room.

I, quite understandably I feel given the situation, had a 'bugger this' moment and unearthed a rather large hammer and the biggest fuck off screwdriver in my possession. I was quite happily chiselling away when I became aware of a hissing noise, similar to that of gas escaping under pressure. The state of my mind at the time can best be described by informing you that it occurred to me that I may have inadvertently pierced a bag of the Hungarian equivalent of Birds Eye peas. Wrong.

Anyway, upshot is that I have killed my fridge and am now drinking warm beer. Life is hard.

Maybe I should contact JonnyB about the possibility of acquiring an internet fridge.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Weel eet annoey les americains? Oev corss. Weel tek im.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


A good man.


shit...what's that noise...sounds like dripping water...roof leak in the conservatory...buckets, bowls...someone get a cloth...I can't do anything tonight...I'll have a look in the morning...

okay...let's get that ladder then...up she goes...ouch, rung's rotted away...should keep it in the garage...really must get around to building one...I see the problem...metal run-offs round the sky lights...too small or been pushed down by the weight of the tiles...really should re-tile the roof...but I need a garage...maybe I could just re-tile the extension, leave the original for later...if I increase the angle of the run-offs...maybe bang a few nails in under them...should help keep the flow in...tiles'll be at a crazy angle, though...oh, fuck it...wait for the next rain and pray...shit, is that a mouse...Jesus, three of the little fuckers sat on the window sill of the conservatory...all that junk piled up on the terrace...really should put it in the garage...bugger...okay, start shifting...all this wood...should put it in the wood-pile...I can build one behind the garage...bollocks...who put all these newspapers out here...waaaaaah, another mouse...what's all this...bloody hell...old plaster and cement and polystyrene insulation...and all these tools...maybe I can build a shed inbetween the garage and the wood-pile...shite...anyway, nowhere for the little buggers to hide now...the cats'll get 'em...but what about the dog...oh forget it...hey, I can see the conservatory again...looks, it doesn't...wood looks dry as a bone and needs staining...better do it before winter sets, where did I put those brushes...not in the garage, that's for the pantry...there they are...blast...hard as a bloody rock...wonder what I had on 'em...maybe I could gel my hair with it...never have to wash it any woodstain, then...oh, right...interior use only...where are the bloody car keys...these gates could do with painting an' all...and as for the fence...oh well, least there's a full tank in the car...nowhere to bloody park'll be okay here for a few minutes...yeah, woodstain...pine...I don't fuckin' know...that'll be much...bollocks...of course it's my car...yes, I do know...thank you...and may your crotch be infected by a non-psychedelic fungus...bastard...right...brushes, tin, aha...where's that screwdriver...Christ, this is on tight...oh, fuck...never mind, they're an old pair anyway...this'll take ages...what if I do all the big brush bits today and leave the fiddly bits till tomorrow...sorted...right, where's the turps...oh, no...don't tell me...soapy water it is then...damn and blast...wonder if I can go to work looking like on earth did it get there...

Home owning sucks.


You just couldn't make it up, could you?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Go see.


As a response to Crumb's post yesterday, I thought he might take solace from the fact that I have, at various and sundry times in my life, been likened to the following. In order of frequency...

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

Compared with that lot, I don't think a tubby, equestrian obsessed lesbian is all that bad, really.


I don't suppose anybody could explain why, when I access this blog from my browser and from Blogger dashboard, I get a completely different set of referrers?

I mean, right now, coming in from my browser, Shrub, Ms Jones, Badgergirl, Crumb and Google are but ghosts in the machine.

It also seems to work in reverse whenever I blog hop from here. I would hate anybody to think I am ignoring them.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Smacked by the Zwack or Jaegermeister on Steroids

Over at the Choobies, there seems to be a general consensus among both residents and visitors that one of the national drinks of Hungary is fit only as an application for the unblocking of sinks and drains, and that should one wish to remove the enamel from one's teeth, battery acid may prove to be a slightly more palatable alternative.

Given the almost filial relationship I appear to have with this country, in which I feel at total liberty to criticise it but leap readily to its defence whenever the attacks come from other directions, it would seem to be incumbent upon me to make a few points in its favour.

1. Should you ever find yourself in a position where two or more people are desirous of precisely ascertaining their position on any perceived scale of 'machismo', lining up several shots of Unicum might well prove considerably less of a physical endeavour than arm wrestling, distance spitting or projectile vomiting. Mind you, the latter could just turn out to be an inevitable consequence anyway.

2. When listening to tales of drunken excess and hangovers from hell, those 'in the know' can allow themselves a delicious feeling of smugness secure in the knowledge that nobody but nobody can ever claim to have been truly hammered or even remotely hungover if neither can be attributed to the Zwack smack.

3. If ever you should find yourself barefoot and bladdered in a Hungarian family vineyard and inadvertently step on the sharp edge of a metal boot scraper, thereby opening up a rather nasty gash on the underside of your foot, you will be grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of your grasp of profanity when the black stuff is applied in lieu of a more conventional antiseptic.

4. It is probably the only drink known to man that cannot reasonably be incorporated into any kind of cocktail whatsoever and therefore will never be succeptible to decoration with sparklers, umbrellas or other assorted frippery. This can only be a Good Thing.

5. My 'mother-in-law' swears by it and, as long as I have a bottle or two handy whenever she comes to visit, this will extend the life of my stocks of malt. This is also a Good Thing.

6. On the occasion of any male acquaintance's nameday, birthday or any other such celebration, Unicum rather usefully provides a gift of last resort for those of us unfortunate enough to be seriously challenged regarding the ability to select appropriate presents.

7. If you should ever wish to attend a fancy dress gala or some such dressed as an archetypical cartoon anarchist, simply remove the label from the bottle, stencil 'bomb' on it in large white letters, stick a length of string in the top and that's your props problem sorted.

8.'s about it. Quite pathetic, really.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Tony says, "Bollocks."

Thursday, October 14, 2004


It came as a great surprise to learn tonight that one T. Blair is, at this very moment, a small matter of 82kms away from where I am typing this. In Balatonöszöd, to be precise.

I am reliably informed that there are 5 concentric security perimeters around the presence. You don't think there's any chance of somebody mistaking these for a target, do you?

Anyway, I've got nothing on for tomorrow morning so I guess I could pop down and see if there's any chance of an impromptu meeting...messages, anyone?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I was asked the other day if the chav phenomenon had reached Hungary or not. I was surprised that an Englishman, a West Yorkshireman to be precise, should seemingly wish to stake some sort of nationalistic claim to the little buggers but I can assure him that the Hungarian equivalent, while not indistinguishable from his English counterpart, is certainly a divergent evolutionary branch of the same lineage.

Hungarian chavs can be divided, for the purposes of this study, into three main sub-species; the bog standard, the aspirational and the made good.

The bog standard variety would probably easily be recognised by any casual tourist to these parts...think East 17, think charity shop and 'seen better days' and you would have some idea of their haute couture. Their source of income is usually anything which isn't nailed down and it is spent on bling, foreign beers and stereo systems more expensive than the cars into which they are fitted. I say foreign beers but this is dependent on their fence not having temporarily blown down and the vigilance of the local constabulary. If you spot one sidling up to the bar and ordering (furtively and out of the side of his mouth) a shot of house pálinka and a white wine spritzer/red wine and coke, you can say with some assurance that the crime figures are down that month. Conversely, spot a clutch of them chugging Budweiser/Becks out of the bottle and those car keys in your pocket may just be surplus to your requirements for the near future.

The female of the species, the liba (or goose to you non-linguists) is also a pack animal and should you suddenly materialise amongst a plethora of naked, pierced and tattooed midriffs and find yourself torn between a desire to put your hands over your eyes or your ears (the goose appellation is indeed apt), you will have stumbled across a pretty fair representation of the type. In bars, they will be perched behind glasses containing liquid of the most lurid colours imaginable and watching them teeter off in pairs to the ladies room on impossibly high heels should be included in the published list of tourist attractions.

The main product of the bog standard chav is pavement pizza.

Your aspirational chav now, is considerably more difficult to spot at first. Your best strategy would probably be to track a clutch of bog standards and wait for them to go into a kind of "we are not worthy but please allow me to insert my tongue into your rectum" type routine and it is pretty certain that the centre of all this ritualistic fawnery will be your quarry. By dint of obsessional body-building and frequent demonstrations of mindless thuggery, he will have so impressed the local talent spotters that they will have given him a job in one of their security firms. He will immediately be put on bouncer duty and will have to lever himself into a black suit for the purpose. He will not take the label off the sleeve and will, under all circumstances, wear white socks. When off duty he will have one other suit, either lime green, electric blue or maroon and he will often wear the jacket with a pair of black trousers. The white socks however, remain. His drinks of choice will be foreign beers, Chivas Regal, Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker red label. Some become so enamoured of the opportunities for mindless violence that they never aspire to bodyguard or chauffeur duties and remain on the clubs until they venture down the wrong alley on the way home one night.

Their girlfriend of choice is the trophy liba. She will have (preferably) naturally blonde hair, legs up to her armpits and will have mastered the art of walking on spike heels. She will however, still be perched behind a glass of lurid colour, only this time it will be decorated with umbrella, sparkler and assorted fruitery. You are advised not to even glance at her unless you are armed with something very large indeed.

The main product of the aspirational chav is broken bones.

The chav made good is the most difficult of all to spot and identify. I mean, not all load mouthed wankers flashing wads of cash around in bars and restaurants are chavs made good but the opposite is certainly true. To really be able to nail one, you have to be invited into their home. You will probably be driven there in the most fuel inefficient vehicle available at the time, will pass through the remote controlled gates (only barred...the neighbours must be allowed to see their wealth, after all) and alight in a driveway only to be surrounded by a pack of Rottweilers/Alsatians/Pitbull terriers who will look at you as if they think all their Christmases have come at once. Fortunately, their fear of their owner is greater than the pleasure they would no doubt get from tearing you apart and you enter the house. I should make clear at this point that most chavs made good are self employed in the Delboy tradition and have made their pile selling shit, tack, tat and kitsch to tourists. Their ideal English habitat would be Skegness. Here it's Lake Balaton and Zalakaros. Anyway, you enter the house and it is here that the full horror awaits. Think garish, think tasteless, think Turkish bordello, think, "Fuck me up the bottom with a big, black strap-on!" Less is more is not a concept your chav made good could wrap his reasoning gear around, no way. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I was once given such a tour and from the Sony Home Cinema (think small multiplex), through the battery powered Ferrari copy driven by his five year old daughter all the way through to his remote controlled corkscrew (I kid you not), I got chapter and fucking verse. Where he'd bought it, who he'd bought it from, how much it'd cost him and how much he'd managed to barter them down by. Walking through the house was the equivalent of yomping through an obstacle course comprised of as yet, unsold stock.

His drinks of choice are Pernod, Tequila, Southern Comfort, Jim Beam and any Scotch whisky that costs more than Chivas Regal. All of the above are kept in the freezer. The dress is a kind of 'fuck you' chic regressing to a quality lower than that of the bog standard. The white socks however, remain. The most powerful emotion he feels is when he removes the wad from his trouser pocket. This is obviously best performed in front of an audience and at very high volume.

The main product of the chav made good is pure unadulterated bollocks. Believe NOTHING.

I hope I have been of some assistance.

Hey ho.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


From the BBC...

There was some detail in the prime minister's speech with hints about no spending splurges in a third term, lifting the age of retirement, offering incentives for people to save for their old age and a possible crackdown on junk food adverts, for example.

Well, that should light a fire under the politically apathetic, shouldn't it? Stampede the populace towards the polling booths.

I don't honestly know which is worse, the contents or the standard of the journalism. Point one would seem to suggest that the state of 'public' transport will remain fucked for years to come and points two and three are interesting to say the imaginative solution to the demographic problem affecting pension value? Seems to boil down to spending as little time as possible actually retired and leaving as much as possible to the chancellor in death duties. Point four is typical New Labour...a sop...a diversion...caring, sharing, touchy-feely bollocks.

As for the writing. Well. An admirable attempt to avoid the cliché 'spree' gives us 'splurge'. I ask you. Then there's 'lifting'. I mean, what? Sorry to disillusion you, wee BBC journalist type chappie, but one cannot actually lift an age.

I suppose I should be grateful for the last clause, conjuring up, as it does, images of teens being stopped and searched for possession of fast food adverts. Crackdown indeed.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Mercenary Mates and the Lure of Loot

Most English people differ from Hungarians in one crucial respect. They hate to say, "No". So, whereas we would carefully weigh the circumstances before asking anyone for a favour, Hungarians will wade straight in with nary a thought.

I had mastered the language way before I mastered the art of turning down requests and my workload became almost unbearable as a result. Over the last couple of years, I have pruned it down to a more reasonable level and only accept work I can contract via my company.

Unfortunately, I have become a blip on the radar of one of the largest multi-national companies ever to straddle the globe in search of tax breaks and cheap labour. The language of the company in question is English, even in house memos have to be written using it so this and the requirements of video conferencing mean that the demand for tuition is correspondingly high.

It has become clear that Hungarian teachers, whilst being more than adequate for lower level employees, are not fit to leave their imprints on the plush carpets of the top floor and only a native speaker will suffice. Now you might conjecture that this would provide a wonderful and remunerative business opportunity and you would be right. You would also be dead wrong.

I have been there before. In situations where companies have tried every language school within a reasonable radius, sent their employees on residential language courses, paid teachers to teach after school...everything, in fact. Then the solution of last resort. The native speaker.

The problem is two-fold. Firstly, learning a foreign language is exactly that. Learning. The choice of text book and/or teacher, although a factor, is only a very small part of successfully learning a language. A teacher can facilitate, guide and provide assistance as required but most of the work has to be done by the student. Unfortunately, the Hungarian mindset is such that they expect to be almost spoon-fed the told what to do every step of the way. The company has tried many alternatives and all have failed to produce the required result. The students have not learnt. Usually it's a problem of motivation and self-confidence. "I need it for my job" is not normally enough to strengthen the will to put aside enough leisure hours for study, and most of them are of the firm belief that they are too old to learn or that somehow they do not possess the genes they suppose control foreign language acquisition.

The second problem is one of expectations. They have tried many Hungarian teachers and, in their eyes, all of them have failed to teach them English. What can they do? Reach for the native speaker is what. "If only we had a native speaker, everything would be hunky dory and I will finally acquire the language." Wrong. I do not have a magic wand...I will use exactly the same methods, approaches and techniques that have thus far singularly failed to achieve the desired results. The only difference will be that the standard of any Hungarian used in the classroom will take a nose dive. End of.

They are fully aware of the fact that, "I do NOT need this" and have quite sensibly refrained from approaching me directly. They know that I would tell them, in much more flowery language and with infinitely more politesse, to "fuck off and die". I have however, recently become aware of the outcome of a strategy meeting they must have held on this very subject.

Now, a friend of mine is the owner of a language school here in town, one which presently holds the contract for provision of language teaching at the company in question. It is a lucrative one and one which his company would find it difficult to live without. It would appear that pressure has been brought to bear. Allegedly, you understand. Pressure that he feels obliged to pass on in my direction.

I responded to his request and we met. Placing his palms together and fixing me with his best little kitten lost expression (copyright. Shrek 2), he begs.

"Simon. Please?"


"Why don't you want to help me?"

Ouch. Quite a long way below the belt, that one but I let it ride. I go through all the reasons why spending even only 2 hours a week in the belly of the behemoth would reduce my quality of life by a factor too large to even approximate in words and then he plays his trump card.

"I'll pay you double your usual."

Now why didn't he say that in the first place?

Saturday, October 09, 2004


I am not what you might call a morning person at the best of times and after an evening spent with my computer friend debugging some programmes...and our stomachs with fair to middling quantities of malt...this morning was no exception.

The coffee maker had taken the Frog shopping and I was leaning on the kitchen worktop staring at nothing in particular waiting for automatic pilot to kick in and remind me of the steps I would need to take to be in possession of a restorative cup when my mobile rang.

"Jó napot, kivánok. A...." *inserts Babel fish* "Your telephone number has been selected at random and we are..."

"Whoa, whoa...a you speak English?" *removes fish*

"Oh yes, sir. Your number is one of a select few we have..."

I am afraid I interrupted at this point.

Given the facts that I was hungover, still half asleep, in pre-coffee mode and therefore without instantaneous access to my store of lexis regarding invective, I think I acquitted myself rather well. The only regret I have is that pushing a button on a mobile is no substitute for slamming down the handset.

Anyway, I feel a lot better now. Public service at its best.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


I should have known. As soon as I half opened one eye and saw the digital clock at exactly 9:11, I should have rolled over, gone back to sleep and the hell with the day.

Unfortunately, I heaved my sorry ass out of bed and pin-balled into the bathroom where it took a few seconds for the signals from my shins to reach the brain and for me to realise that taking a piss might be a whole lot more comfortable if I were to raise the seat beforehand. Bugger!

So, I sat on the edge of the bath, swung my legs over the side, switched on the taps and reached for the shower head. I say 'reached for' and not grasped as I only succeeded in dislodging it from its perch, thereby chipping the enamel and sending a spray of water all over the floor. Shite!

I eventually managed to sluice off the piss, swung my legs out of the bath, stood up and promptly sat down again. On the floor. A more alert frontal lobe might have made the connection between a tiled floor and surface water and taken adequate precautionary measures but mine was still in caffeine deprivation mode and barely ticking over.

Realising that coffee was indeed a priority, I stumbled into the kitchen to find a note from Zsuzsi asking me to hoover the house and the kettle full of Calgon. Not wishing to de-scale the lining of my stomach that early in the morning thank you very much, I sloshed some milk into a saucepan, stuck it on the gas and went in search of tobacco. I found it next to the monitor, where I had left it the night before. Error.

Cigarette, check. E-mail, check. Favourite blogs, check. Smell of burning milk, check. Christ on a bike!

Search for kitchen roll. Fresh out. Fetch toilet roll from bathroom. Clean mess, make coffee. Take coffee into bathroom with Elmore Leonard paperback and settle down for bit of anal expulsion. CENSORED. Reach for toilet roll. Bugger, bugger, damn, shit, blast! I don't know if you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having to continue locomotion after having followed through on a particularly explosive botty burp but I'm sure you can appreciate the predicament nevertheless.

Anyway, I finally gather all my papers and cassettes together for a spot of marking. I arrange all the marking sheets for the candidates in the order in which they will appear on the cassettes, brace myself for an assault on my English speaking sensibilities and press play. The exam is in four sections and ten individual marks out of three are available spread out throughout the categories. To my intense pleasure, the quality of the recordings is excellent, the interlocutor doesn't over-run the 10 minutes per exam time limit by too much and I get through about twenty papers in about four and a half hours. I collect all the marking sheets together and am just about to switch off the cassette when I hear, "Kiss Balázs, test begins." Say what?!

I check the packing list...20. I check the labels on the cassettes...20. I count the marking sheets...19. Oh sweet fuckity fuck! I find the missing sheet and go back to the first cassette. It soon becomes clear that I have marked the first candidate on the second one's sheet, the second's on the third's and so on. Thank the gods I kept the sheets in order. A slight adjustment...crossing out the original name and writing in another and everything's tickerty boo.

Hoovering. Deep joy. Plug her in in the big room and work my way through house. I get to the office/guest room, reach full extent of flex and yank. Hard. Holy shit! What the fuck was that? What the fuck it was, was the ironing board coming a right purler as the flex wrapped itself around its legs. Only slight damage to floor boards and with a bit of luck, she'll never notice.

Anyway, shave, then bathtime with Robert Heinlein. I wake up, say a quick thank you to the gods again for having allowed me to drop the book on the dry side of the porcelain and check the time. Say "Fuck!" A lot.

I arrive at work with a minute to spare. I do my Fat Freddy's Cat fastest 50m nonchalant walk on record and sashay into the classroom as if everything is under total control. I take the register, I open my briefcase. I look for the lesson plan. I look again. And again. I place my head in the briefcase and attempt to close it. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have been bothered, I rarely use them anyway, but I had planned such a wonderful lesson. Ordinarily, I am probably one of the best improvisers in a classroom I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing in action but this had been no ordinary day. And nor was it then. I corpsed. I fluffed. I floundered.

Desperate times call for...

I showed them my two palms, then said, "Fuck it!", closed the book and flung it over their heads into the corner of the room by the door. "Right then. It's question time, folks. You can ask me any question you like and I will answer them as honestly as I can. Who's first?"

3×45 minutes later and we're still bouncing the questions around but I had opened it up to include everybody and they were really having a great time. I was just adjudicating at this point, only stepping in if somebody couldn't make themselves understood or if they were having trouble understanding. Bloody brilliant!

Arrive home, gates are closed. I park the car. Observe through window that Zsuzsi has the Frog in her arms and that she is crying. I enter the house. "Daaaaaaaaaaaaadeeeeeeeeeee!" She's missed me. Suddenly everything seems okay again. I am wanted. I am loved.

I put them both to bed. Kiss them goodnight. Am heading out the door when Zsuzsi asks, "What are those marks on the floor by the ironing board?"

Sunday, October 03, 2004


I'm puzzled. Bemused. In a state of some confusion. And it's all down to toiletries. Shaving requisites to be exact.

Have you seen that advert for Gillette shaving gel...the one where the guy's hands go all Terminator 2, in a new man, de-caff, latte drinker kinda way, of course?

We are then treated to a rather tacky animation showing how gel reaches the parts that shaving foam cannot reach, the basic message of which appears to be that foam sucks and that gel positively rocks.

Now correct me if I'm wrong but does not Gillette purvey a wide range of such foams from bog standard through lemon-scented all the way to jojoba enhanced?

So if I understand it correctly, they actually paid for an advertisement which informs the public that one of their largest product ranges is basically crap. What is going on here?

Are they one blade short of a triple or do they think we are? I think we should be told.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


A post on Unitedite in support of Uncy and a certain Mr Bragg.

I wonder if you would all be so kind as to allow an ennui inducing, wrinkly anal expulsion of noxious gases to offer non-surgical support to a favourite uncle and also to add a few more gems to the collection of some of the finest music ever committed to vinyl.

For the benefit of younger readers, I should maybe explain that vinyl is the material from which are made those rather ’interestingly’ shaped fruit bowls of your parents…and you have my heartfelt apologies for writing such a clumsy sentence. Anyway, onwards ever onwards.

Au Pairs…Armagh
Medium Medium…Further than Funk Dream
The Beat…Dream Home in New Zealand
Capt Beefheart…Love Lies/Floppy Boot Stomp
Funky 4+1…That’s the Joint
Denis Bovell…Better
Elvis Costello…Alison
The The…Kingdom of Rain
Robert Wyatt…Shipbuilding

Throw in a bit of Black Uhuru and Aswad, add a soupcon of Television and Talking Heads and I would say that between us, we had it all just about covered. Not representative of my entire musical taste by any means…not even a large part of it but what we have here is the music of an era. An era about which, I suspect, a whole lot of people on here know diddly and one during which it was impossible to separate music from politics.

The Thatcher years. A nomenclature far too anodyne for this correspondent. An era defined, for me at least, by frustration, anger, utter helplessness and a deep and abiding despair. I lost my faith in my fellow countrymen. How could they not see through her? How could they stand idly by while she flung wide Britannia’s thighs to the trident thrust of Ronnie’s blunt simplicities?

She set out to annihilate socialism and it is a tribute to her genius that she succeeded to the extent that even today, B. Liar = Thatcher Lite. She divided and conquered. We were to be afraid and consume, a state of affairs that people like Marilyn Manson are railing against even as we speak.

Most of our sense of community, of belonging and yes, socialism (for what is socialism but an acceptance that we exist in a wider society) has its roots in working class communities. Those who had nothing, shared everything and it was this sense of communality that she had to destroy.

She took on, divided and beat the miners. She decimated manufacturing industry in the country to the extent that today, working class means not going to work. The fear bit was easy. The fear of losing your job…keep your head down, work for what we give you and don’t even think about organising labour. The fear of the red menace and of nuclear armageddon…protect and survive…hide under the kitchen table, guys…you’ll be alright.

Another masterstroke was the realisation that she had to create competition, an illusion of betterment. The right to buy allowed many into the mortgaged classes, into debt and under control. The further up the money/property ladder you go, the more your ambitions may become individual, concerned only with you and your immediate family. She made the pursuit of the purely personal aspirational.

So is it any wonder that Mr Bragg went a tad over the top? Faced with such on-yer-bike, rampant right-wingery, just what the fuck was he supposed to do? Is it really such a surprise that music served (as it always has) as a focus for the disenfranchised and seriously pissed off?

Look around you. Greed. Me, me, me. Chavs. Big fucking Brother. Silverdale v Abbeydale, State v Private, Happy Clappers v Warnockers, Rich v Poor. Divisions all widened by 12 odd fucking years of Tory bastard rule.

Oh, fuck it. I’m too old and tired to care much any more and, to borrow a Majorism, not a little bitter and twisted. I had the good sense and the fortune to get out, to escape to a country where people still give a shit. And yes, it IS probably her fault that we only got a point at Brighton this afternoon.

And Millwall? Fradi shat ’em.

Oh, well. If you have been, it’s your own bloody fault.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I do pursue it, you know. Actively. Mostly with rolled up newspapers, a hefty shoe or aerosols and other biological agents of mass destruction.

I am very selective in my choice of prey. And in the case of wasps, mosquitoes, Colorado beetles and ants, actually do my own killing. Mice, on the other hand, I prefer to contract out to my two cats. It is only after having tried locking them both in the conservatory overnight and their having stirred only to claw the furniture that I resort to traps.

I have no special rituals I associate with this genocide, no special clothes...underpants and T-shirt normally suffice...and nor do I take any exceptional pleasure in the act even though I have been known to let rip a, "Got you, you little bastard!" after smearing an especially elusive skeeter all over a window pane but that is by the by.

So, in short, I kill things. I remove them of that which is most precious...their lives. Sometimes it is a deliberate act...squish or be bitten or stung...and don't try and convince me that wasps are okay if you leave them alone. On that point my mind is unamenable to persuasion. Intractable. Absolutely made the fuck up. At other times it is almost accidental. I mean, I fully intended to mow the meadow (and I use that word advisedly...lawn it is not) and it was indeed me who powered up the rotor mower but face it...the body count was enormous. Grasshoppers, cicadas, buckets full of mantis and innumerable species of black beetle. Carnage, in fact. Insect armageddon.

So would you say it was hypocritical of me to be so against fox hunting? I would. In a way. But only from the point of view of one who believes all life is sacred and of equal worth. Any other justification is bull of the highest degree. Total bollocks, in fact. Hunters? Fuckwits all.

Foxes prey on farmers' livestock.
Oh, yeah? Small voles, moles and field mice have made up a large part of Britain's agricultural output for how long, did you say? Ah...chickens, you meant? Right, so the foxes have the keys to the battery farm doors then, do they? And even if they do lose one or two, isn't the farmers' lobby always telling us that they get that little money for them anyway as to make their worth almost negligible? I rather suspect here that they are more worried about loss of game birds and their having a few less grouse and the like to pump full of shot after the glorious twelfth.

Their numbers need to be controlled.
You ever seen a fox? I have. Once. But that is again, by the by. If you can show me proof that Britain would be in the grip of a plague of foxes were it not for the 'millions' killed by hounds each year, then I would agree to a cull. You could use any firearm of your choice above .22 calibre, land mines, guided fucking missiles, anything short of the nuclear option, in fact.

The hounds would have to be put down.
So? Destroy 'em.

Whole communities depend on the hunt.
Tell that to the pit villagers. I didn't see many rural action groups demonstrating on their behalf.

It's traditional, part of what makes this country great.
Bear baiting, cock fighting, pit ponies, hare coursing...traditions all.

Well, actually...we rather enjoy it to be honest. I do realise that a drag hunt would involve everything we do at present...everything but the kill that is...and I do rather feel that would somehow take all the fun out of it really.
I haven't, in all honesty, heard this argument yet but at least it would have the virtue of being accurate and truthful. There are however, a whole shed load of people whose facial features it would give me the greatest of pleasure to violently rearrange but I accept that I should have to bow to the common consensus against this and other suchwise actions.

All except one that is. What say we pin an aniseed scented, artificial fox tail on donkey Blair? And let air the cry, "Let loose the dogs of war!"

Friday, September 24, 2004


...if you eat too many bagels, will you suffer Hassidic tummy?

...if Martin calls his house 'Lair de Clunes'?

...if I covet my neighbour's garden, am I suffering peonies envy?

Yeah, I know. It's been that kind of day. Anyway, time to visit my masseuse. She leaves no stern untoned.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Here's one for all you observant girlies. There are three differences between these two pictures. If you spot them, or even if you don't, there is no extra charge for the extra three inches I've just added to the height of your chair.

Monday, September 20, 2004


And a big "Thangyavermuch" to Lamps over at the packet. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Thursday, September 16, 2004



Rather like JonnyB's tactic of, well, not lying exactly...more failing to correct misapprehensions...being economical with the...well, lying actually, I suggested to Idris that we have a day out in Lincoln. Castle, cathedral, history, second hand and antique emporia etc. with nary a mention of the whisky shop. So confident was I of her finding the proposal irresistible that I had taken the liberty of phoning the day before and reserving a bottle. Wouldn't want to go all that way and risk disappointment now, would we?

So, we saw the cathedral.

 Posted by Hello

Yes...very impressive.

We had a gander round the castle taking in an archery demonstration and a look at one of the original copies of Magna Carta.

 Posted by Hello

Yes...very, er...old.

And yes, I was led on an expedition and to the proprietors of any shop we didn't visit that afternoon, I can only say it wasn't personal. I have the power of veto only as long as I use it sparingly. On this occasion, I limited myself to those places possessing at least one of the following.

1. Jaw dropping prices.

2. Tourist crap on display in the window.

3. The words 'Olde Worlde' in their name.

So, we trudged back up the hill fully laden up to the small square in front of the castle and with an, "I wonder what's up here", quite accidentally and fortuitously chanced upon the delightfully named Whisky Shop.

Now this is a place that, as they say, does what it says on the tin. I walked in, glanced around, manually lifted my jaw into something approaching a closed position and retracted my eyes back into their sockets.

"Can I help you, sir?"

"Er...I don't suppose you do bed and breakfast, do you?"

It was a good job they didn't. We only had two weeks left in England. I had never been in a place which more inspired one to spend money than this one. Row upon row of single malts each one represented by bottles of different ages and strengths. You will be surprised to learn that I was strong. I resisted. The thought of putting everything on the Company's expenses as 'corporate entertainment' only momentarily flitted across my synapses and I only took the bottle I had reserved...

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...and one of that about which I had completely forgotten.

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So, ticking them all off the list like a kid in a playground swapping footie cards, "Got, got, got, not, got" I realised my mission had been accomplished. There was no feeling of anticlimax, no sense of emptiness...I had, after all, a new purpose. To get them all back home for a taste off to end all taste offs and attempt to drink them at such a rate that they will last a year until the next malt run.


Day 21

A word of advice. When cleaning the guttering of a bungalow, always place one's stepladders at right angles to the exterior walls. This will help avoid the risk of attempting to descend on the wrong side, as it were, crashing through the diagonal support strut and thuswise decorating one's inner left thigh.

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Monday, September 13, 2004


Two adulterous ducks in a hotel room suddenly realise that they are fresh out of condoms and decide to call room service.

A few minutes later there is a discreet knock at the door and the drake gets up to answer it.

There he finds a waiter type chappie with a condom on a silver tray.

"Here you are, sir. Shall I put it on your bill?"

Sunday, September 12, 2004


First of all, apologies for missing the match yesterday. I'm still trying to get my head around this new firewall. Hopefully, I'll have it sorted by Tuesday.

Secondly, and most worryingly, it has come to my attention that there is a rumour afoot, the main substance of which is to the effect that Stella is becoming, and I quote, "Chav juice." Most disturbing.

As I see it, I have three options. I can,

1. Meekly Bow Before the Mind Boggling Brilliance of those Mighty Brain Boxes of the Matilda Botty Boys, give up the Leuven Lightning and stick to Amstel from here on in, but that would involve a rather too radical change in the title of this blog.

2. Reach for the Argos catalogue and bling myself up large or, the most attractive proposition of the three, I must admit,

3. Refer you to the answer to a previous question.

Anyway, I always thought it was White Lightning. Although I am prepared to at least consider the hypothesis that it is possible that Darwinian theory may well apply to Chavs, the almost glacial or, more aptly, geological rate of their evolution so far would tend to predispose of the proposition that an inbuilt predeliction for the delights of strong cider is becoming a regressive trait in their gene pool.

So there.


Day 17

I woke up with that match day feeling and spent an awful long time over breakfast. I had the feeling that most of my input this day would be liquid and I wanted to be prepared. The Frog did the usual ferrying of pork products and our Gert practiced drumming her fingers on the table. She’s really getting quite good at it.

It was a sunny morning, thank the gods. I couldn’t imagine leaving the girls in the car while I hit the poncy lagers in the Sheaf View so I hoped it would last. We took the Frog into Endcliffe Park and I had a flashback to lazy summer days spent playing football or cricket, games of which would be hazed by that rather sweet scent that emanates from some of the more laid back sections of BDTBL on match days. I also seemed to recall being under the influence of far too much Lucy and thinking it would be a good idea to take two of my mate’s canoes out on the small lake at the Oakbrook Road end.

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So, back to the Hotel for a spot of lunch and call a cab. Next stop, the Sheaf View. Driving through Nether Edge was wonderful…at least one area of Sheffield hasn’t changed at all…but the other side of Abbeydale Road was a complete mystery to me.

We arrived and went straight for the kiddies’ area round the back. I turned the corner and, I jive you not, the first person I saw was Lamps. I was astounded that he recognized me. Hail and well met. He handed over a message from Jess and I made for the bar. Mmmm. Weissbier! And so it began.

I could see no sign of a fat guy with a beard and I think Lamps thought I was looking for Dinky and not Weggie so that didn’t help but the mistake was rectified and I was eventually introduced to Weggie and Weggie senior. Well met again.

The three of us were at the bar awaiting a change of Weissbier barrels when Weggie made his big mistake. It would appear that text messages had been winging back and forth across the Atlantic and Weggie was under orders to, “Give him a big kiss on the lips from me.” His mistake was to tell me. Lamps turned discreetly away and ever since then, Weggie has referred to me as gay boy. Hah! He doesn’t fool me.

Was it three, four, five? I do not recall but Zsuzsi informed me it was half past two and hadn’t we better get off to the match?


We were walking down Bramall Lane in sight of the ground when the teams were announced over the tannoy. Our seats were at the other end of John Street so I upped the pace. The Frog was getting really excited because of all the noise and when we emerged from beneath the stand to view the hallowed turf bathed in brilliant sunshine, she looked around in wonder and let rip with a huge, “Wow!”

Someone was sitting in our seats which I hoped was not an omen but there were plenty free in the row behind so we took these. Right behind us was a gang way which was great as I could climb over the back of the seat and under the railings whenever I needed a piss, but also bad as I could only squeeze off three shots before a steward informed me that taking photos was an ejectable offence.

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What can I say about the game? Not a lot. It seemed a lot of players were playing out of position and despite a lot of huff and puff, there was very little creativity, discernible formation or even tactics. We had most of the possession but created few, if any, chances. They had one, and they scored from it. I will only get to one game this season and the Blades do it to me again. Oh, well. At least Monty wasn’t playing.


Right. Now, where was it? Ah, yes, the Nelson. In Arundel Gate, opposite where Redgates used to be, yeah? Well, yes. And no. It was closed. Hmmmm. Into a shop to cadge a phone book. Aha. The LORD Nelson, Arundel STREET. So we head in a thataways direction and notice a crowd outside what appears to be a pub in the middle distance. Zsuzsi starts making noises of a, “I hope it’s not that one” variety and I worry I won’t recognize them.

I had seen pictures of the motley crew that is the MBB and, as I approached, I saw a chappie that might or might not have been Uncy, but I walked past, checked the rest of the crowd and then came back. My original identification proved correct. I introduced myself by asking him if he had been responsible for the poisonous gas leak in Wakefield reported on the news the previous day and when he informed me that there had indeed been a blowout in the bottom area but it had since been plugged, I knew I had my man.

So, good company, draught Stella, lots of laughs. What more could a man want? Too good in fact as I am afraid I rather neglected my family, drank far too much beer and when The Frog and Dragon left to go for what they later assured me was just a walk, I made my farewells and chased off, rather meanderingly it has to be said, after them. Thanks to…
Uncy…purveyor of fine cakes extraordinaire who, despite being rather under the weather, was still on good form.
Big Mart…whose theory about Monty was quite blown out of the water that afternoon.
Latters…to whom I am afraid I was rather rude, hitting him with the rather blatant Kan-style, “Who the fuck are you?”
BHK…a gem. An all round good egg.
Kirsty…whom, if she were any thinner, I could have rolled around a good pinch of Drum and smoked.

Oh, and thanks to the Nelson for the Stella glasses. I’ll bring them back next year. Honest.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Day 16 Addendum

Forgot to mention that after procuring our tickets for the match, I decided to locate and check out the Sheaf View as it was a new one for me. Weggie's directions were pretty good and I found it without too much trouble. As I parked, it started to rain so I picked up the Frog and carried her inside. I placed her down on an upholstered bench and sauntered enthusiastically over to the bar where the only two other customers in the whole place were ensconced and where I had been assured I would find several real ales and numerous 'poncy lagers'. I was there informed that we would have to sit the rain...on uncovered wet benches. And all because of a very recently four year old girl. Bollocks. No wonder we're a nation of aggressive drunks and binge drinkers.

Anyway, I swore and we left. Thirst unslated.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Day 14

I finally pluck up enough courage to visit the bank and check my accounts. Good news. I take another dividend out of the company and phone the Hunter House Hotel. White van man is no more.

Phone Weggie again. Voicemail. Bollocks.

", you now have 20 seconds to explain the connection between Weston-Super-Mare and SUFC. Alternatively, you can ring Kan on...."

He calls back and we arrange to meet in the Sheaf View before the game. Apparently, I won't have any trouble recognising him, I'm to look for a, "fat guy with a beard." After three weeks without a shave, I can find one of those in the mirror.

Which reminds me of one of Roger McGough's little rhymelets.

Woke up.
Had a shave.
Did the Times' crossword.
Had another shave.


Day 16

Woke up, had a shave and headed for the old home town. Arrived in Sheffield along the Parkway and wondered whether or not I would be able to negotiate safely the magic roundabout at its conclusion. More by luck than any skill on my part, I was successful and emerged the other side. Past the station, a fond glance in the direction of the Leadmill, the site of my 15 minutes, up onto Arundel gate and eventually onto Ecclesall Road. Damn! I hung a left somewhere and ended up on Cemetery Road and from there somehow to BDTBL to get the tickets for the match on the morrow.

Back onto Ecclesall Road and the only two landmarks I recognised were the Nursery Tavern and the Polish Club. It is not my town any more.

We checked into the Hotel and set off for an explore...that's Dragonspeak for shop. We discovered the delights of Woody's sandwich bar and then shop hopped from there in a townwards direction. After the first three or four, I just loitered outside and had a smoke while the girls did their thing. It was hot so I borrowed one of the Frog's hair bands and did the sad and lonely pony tail bit at about the same time as I noticed a men's hairdresser's. No appointments necessary. Mmmmmmmm.

We passed Berkeley Precinct and I noticed what might have been a Thresher's. I went in on the off chance and discovered another of the harder to get Islay malts.

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I enquired about the Bunnahabhain and they told me of a whisky shop in Lincoln that may be worth a visit. Again, mmmmmm.

Right, head back then. We hit the Precinct again and Idris feels the urge to 'Let's go, Tesco!' I arrange to meet them in Woody's and tootle off ferra spot of topiary.

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Needless to say, they weren't in Woody's. They were still on around aisle 6 when I found them.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Day 10

"Right then, guys. Let's see what this thing can do, shall we?"

My brother had to have the garage door raised by 2 inches to fit the damned thing in and even then the lock mechanism scraped along its roof as I was backing it out. I guess I should have realised then that anything which has to be shoe horned into Kan's Lincolnshire retreat so tightly was not likely to become a favourite selection amongst our vehicular transportation options.

A 1993 white Ford Transit.

To start with, I did actually succeed in turning it around in our drive although I was quite unprepared for the amount of serious wrestling I would have to do with the steering wheel. It left me quite breathless, I can tell you.

Anyway, the Frog was really pleased to get to sit in the front at last (and face forward), Zsuzsi less so as she was wedged in the middle seat. I gingerly manoeuvred it between the gateposts and, as our house is midway between two corners about 100 yards apart and necessitates a quick getaway, I decided to turn left onto the road. So far so good.

It occured to me that I should maybe get out of first gear and, because I had taken my hand off the gear stick to heave the thing in a left-wise direction, I was now facing my first problem. Loathe to take my eyes off the road approaching the first corner, I attempted to locate the lever by touch and failed quite abysmally, my hand doing a kind of deranged St. Vitus dance and encountering only air. I asked Zsuzsi quite calmly if she'd seen a fucking gear stick anywhere around here and she, equally calmly grabbed my hand and placed it on the knob...oo, er, missus.

For those of you blissfully unaware of the physical characteristics of Ford Transit gear levers, let me enlighten you as to some of their more perverse properties. The thing is shaped like an inversion of one of those old City Council nine hole golf course putters, the head of which has been removed and replaced with a golf ball. In other words small and, in moments of greatest need, bloody difficult to find. Its length is such that any vibration (and there are plenty, believe you me) is amplified along said length until by the time it reaches the tip, as it were, said golf ball's path is along several random ellipses the outermost points of which could be contained within a circle of some 3 inches radius from its resting position.

There is a bloody great diesel motor up front the vibrations from which far exceeded my power to hold the gear stick steady which resulted in me ramming it in fourth and even, albeit momentarily, attempting to engage reverse, before I found my intended gear.

I was just about to hit the Z bends on the Sleaford road when it started siling it down. A real downpour. What with trying to find the right gears, and the lights and the windscreen wipers, I am surprised I only hit the kerb twice before we got to Revesby Hall.

I drive through a puddle and all the electrics cut out. For the first time since I have been home, I swear in English, turn the bugger around and head for the garage in East Keal...slowly...very slowly...the windscreen is doing its best impression of Niagara Falls and what I can see out of it can best be described as negligible. I did look on the bright side however, and thanked the gods it was a diesel and thus could run sans battery and they smiled on me and stopped the rain. I was driving up Keal Hill when everything suddenly cut in again. Realising that me little bit o' wire had dried out, I headed for Boston.

By the time I got there, I was beginning to enjoy meself. Okay, so the van was wider than I was used to, which did involve hitting the kerb again going through Stickford, but straying onto the oncoming lane a little was okay as people tended to get out my way rather sharpish. I was enjoying being so high off the road, I was beginning to experience that sense of proprietorship over the highway that I had long suspected drivers of bigger vehicles than mine to possess. When I arrived in Boston, it got even better. I cut a swathe through the traffic, or should I say that it seemed to part for me and we arrived at Homebase in the blink of an eye.

I sent the girls therein and I detoured into Comet where my company decided to invest in a Nikon Coolpix 4100. Rejoined the family where, to my shock, I discovered that they had actually managed to spend less than I had and we returned to the tank. We had just got the doors closed when the heavens opened again. I started the engine post haste and we started to sit it out. I am not a patient man. I decided to go for it and by avoiding the biggest puddles, made it home all in one piece. And by dint of stopping at Asda, with a fresh 24 pack of Stella in back.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Day 8

Woke up late. I had sinned the night before and had sampled the McClelland to an extent which I now recognised as being a trifle excessive.

I realised that thus far I had done nothing to forward my plan to visit Sheffield and BDTBL for the Reading game so I phoned Weggie to arrange a meet. I got his voice mail and realised that he must still be in Poland. I was far too hungover to leave a message so I hung up.

Now, my regular readers will be aware, due to my penchant for gloating at all too frequent intervals, that my income allows me to lead a life here in central Europe that can best be described as carefree. I rarely have to check prices and should I be desirous of anything, I buy it. While this falls some way short of regular visits to the estate agents or Ferrari showrooms, it does mean that there is little which falls beyond my fiscal span as it were. All this changes as soon as I arrive in the UK.

Suddenly and painfully, I succumb to the realisation that I have to pay attention to the rate at which quantities of the folding disappear from both my wallet and my bank accounts. It is not as if I earn overmuch, you understand, it is more a question of prices. Pray allow me to enlighten you as to the expenses likely to be incurred by a visitor to say, Nagykanizsa, for example.

Bottle of Teacher’s scotch…less than a fiver.
40g pouch of Drum tobacco…about two quid.
Half litre bottle of Stella...35p
One night’s hotel accommodation…twenty five nicker.
Slap-up meal for four in best restaurant plus drinks (lots)…max fifty notes.

Even travelling through Europe, I do not have to be overly attentive to prices but as soon as I alight at Dover, I am only too aware that my most common exclamation for at least two weeks will be, "How much?!" Rip-off Britain indeed.

So it was, with an eye to saving a few spondoolies, that I decided to borrow my brother’s Ford Transit van and travel to Sheffield in it with a view to sleeping therein rather than pay an excessive amount of cash for a double room and ersatz English breakfast. There were, unfortunately, some problems involved with this. Apart from the fact that the van was chez nous and my brother wasn’t.

Firstly, the tax disc had expired. "No problem, bro’. I’ll take care of that." Zoom off to post office. "How much?!" Ninety-odd fucking quid, that’s how much.

Secondly, I was not a named driver on my bro’s insurance policy. He phones them, then rings me. "They won’t insure a non-UK resident on my policy." My bro lacks my devious mind, you see. "Ring them back, kid. I guarantee you won’t speak to the same person. Tell them I am, as of this moment, resident at the same address as is on my driving licence. Call me when it’s okay."

A few mins later and the phone rings.

"Now then."

"This is *garbled* of the NCB."

"Uh…er…yer wot?"

"*garbled* of the MCC."

"Er…I’m sorry…who?"

"Uncy. Raul. MBB."

"Yoooooooooooooo! Jesus Christ! How ya doin’?"

And so it came to pass that an appointment was made to confront the full might of the MBB in the Nelson after the Reading game. I remembered the Nelson for ’twas there that I would meet Allison, somebody else’s girlfriend, but I was of an age not to be so fussy and, come to think of it, I still am.

Bro phones. Alles gut. Another 17 quid down the spout for an added name.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes.

Thirdly, and most problematically, bro, bro’s bane and van had just returned from a two week sojourn in the south of France and my brother’s housekeeping skills, never excellent at the best of times, had not improved to any significant degree since last we had met. The van was a mess. It would need a thorough spring clean.

After wading through a three foot high pile of malodourous socks, sundry clothes and bed linen, I finally uncovered the air mattress, desperately in need of some air. I bunged everything into black plastic bin liners, sealed them for ’freshness’, washed the mattress, cut up what he had been using for a ground sheet, fitted it to the floor of the van and left the van doors open for the rest of the day.

Come the evening and the whiff had not entirely dissipated so I left the doors open all night an’ all. Bugger it, if any sod is brave enough to half-inch this fucker, they’re welcome to it.