Sunday, February 25, 2007


Yes, there is such a thing as the Continental Shelf and it is a fundamental component of the Great White Telephone through which we all converse with our god in times of severe distress.

However, when faced with a view such as this and despite the urgency and desperation involved in making such a sight a necessity, one cannot help but wonder at some of its more obvious design features. One’s first and quite natural assumption that it was designed for human use by a human with at least some experience of evacuatory functions is rapidly replaced by the conviction that the designer or, more probably the designers...a sub-committee consisting of two three-year-olds, a sub-atomic particle physicist and a continental equivalent of a Sun leader writer...never actually had to use the bloody thing.

I mean, no matter what the excretion or evacuation involved in its use, the design mitigates against facility in every respect.

If one considers the technicolour yawn, for example, one must concede that the diced carrots, proceeding at quite a lick under the influence of gravity and the acceleration generated by a heaving stomach, will hit the porcelain after having been decelerated by at most, 1cm of standing water. Now, I am sure that some kind of physical formula obtains to calculate to a nicety the resulting flow patterns but, I think you will agree, it would not take the combined processing power of too many computers to conclude that the splatter factor of such an event would be of too high a magnitude for it to be entirely contained within the bowl provided.

This is doubly unfortunate as, under normal circumstances, such use is accompanied by an almost blissful inability to care and a complete lack of cognisance both of which mitigate against the user leaving the scene in a state even remotely approximating that in which they found it. It is my experience that this will result in one’s having to make one’s own coffee the following morning and a rigorously enforced period of being ‘off games’.

If we move on to the urinary function, one is faced with the identical problem of splash-back. As porcelain is not noted for its ability to absorb impact, the wearing of both shoes and trousers is the only way one can remain in non-theoretical ignorance of the golden shower effect taking place below the level of the knees.

The only way of avoiding this entirely is to attempt to direct one’s stream into the deep water at the front edge of the bowl. This can be attempted in two ways, neither of which is in any way practicable. The first is a sideways on stance which is fine in mid-stream as it were but completely useless at both extremes due to the decrease in front to back target area. At commencement, most men will admit to not having the slightest knowledge of the exact point of impact until, in this case, it is far too late to adjust one’s initial aim. At cessation, it is impossible to guess the strength of the muscular contractions we employ to squeeze out any recalcitrant liquid and this too, will result in either over- or under-shooting.

The second is to develop such a technique that one can piss vertically downwards without losing one’s balance and whatever control one has over the stream. This is impossible.

And what of the unloading bay’s most pleasurable activity, the longed for and much anticipated dump? Well, this is problematic on so many levels it beggars belief.

The first is again, the problem of splash-back. Whereas in a perfectly designed British contrivance, the evacuate is funnelled downwards into a sufficient depth of water and never has to impact at right angles anywhere, the Shelf, on the other hand, appears designed to maximise ricochet. Now, I am sure that your diets ensure your stools are of a pleasing firmness and regularity and that it is only my insistence on the highly spiced that results in what a certain wombat of my acquaint has termed a ‘Bangalore Arse Rocket’ but, on occasions like these it is only the presence of my ample buttocks which prevents my making major alterations to the colour schemes of the floor and wall tiles and a resultant spatter pattern which would not look out of place at even the most frenzied crime scene.

Your advice at this point would probably be to increase my fibre intake and very sound advice it would be too. And yet a firm and log-like stool would incur another penalty.

One has only to consider the inability of the average turd to curl regularly around itself like one of those German sausages or maybe even a brioche together with the distance between one’s puckered sphincter and ground zero to realise that any anal extrusion longer than say about 12 - 15 cms is going to require a direction other than down in which to go. Now, I realise that no stool is firm enough to retain vertical integrity under even the lightest peristaltic strain so what one might gleefully term a logjam, in which equal and opposite forces achieve perfect balance is, to all intents and purposes, impossible but, the problem remains. Where does it go?

Well, depending on density and distribution of mass, to any point of the compass is where. At some point along its length it will begin to sag and, upon exit, the upper end of the log will tend to follow the direction of sag. Now, if one considers the topography of the arse with the coccyx as South and one’s gender specific attributes as North, one can immediately see that both West and East are, when thusly seated, at a lower elevation than one’s anal orifice and that the chances of suffering buttock smear in such a situation are reasonable to high. And even given the possibility of it travelling exactly along the North – South axis, those possessant of a scrotum are at an even higher risk of discomfiture.

And then there is the question of what (seeing as we’re on the subject of all things anal) kitchen chemist Heston Blumenthal would undoubtedly call the flavour molecules. With any sensibly designed apparatus, the solid olfactory evidence remains satisfactorily submerged and it is only that of gaseous provenance which provides the nasal accompaniment to one’s enjoyment of the sports pages or, my own particular preference, the latest Elmore Leonard. With the shelf however, one is not only sitting in one’s shit but on it giving free escape to all said molecules throughout the whole process.

Even if one manages a smear and spatter free evacuation, the perils of the shelf are not yet over. When one reaches down to wipe, it is advisable to make sure one’s knuckles do not, under any circumstances, come into contact with the top of the pile.

All in all, the lack of the possibility of a diving turd causing an entry splash resulting in a few drops of lightly scented lavatorial water to attach themselves to one’s cheeks and the ease with which one can examine one’s stool for colour, consistency, texture, worms and the like are hardly ample compensation for the drawbacks of this particular shelf-life which does not represent too much of a technological advance from the pole and a hole in the ground.

Now please excuse me. I have to go water my socks.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Further proof that there are absolutely no limits.

Cheney warns on Chinese build-up

US Vice-President Dick Cheney has expressed concern over China's military policies, saying they were at odds with the country's stated peaceful aims.


I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Hot news here at the minute is that the population of Hungary is (no, that's not quite right as the stress is definitely on the Magyar part of it so I guess that rules out all the Roma, Jews, Croats etc whose breeding programmes are carrying on as apace as ever) continuing its rapid decline, decrease or plummet and voices are being raised to the effect that the government should jolly well do something about it.

If this trend continues, it will not surprise me if, by the year 2015, the largest concentration of Hungarians anywhere in the world is in Chicago.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Purely in the interests of scientific study you understand, I decided to sample the Chivas again after many a long year.

What a waste of good Laphroaig.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Well, it's over, we're still talking and the only blot on the horizon is that I've just discovered that the boiler is on the fritz again.

Anyway, the souk was a great success as you can see here, complete with oriental ghosts in the machine.

The fault of my camera, I'm afraid. Nikon COOLPIX 4110 is reasonable for well lighted shots but indoors, the indoors/party mode needs too long an exposure and a tripod and the basic flash mode leaves me staring at something akin to a black cat in an unilluminated wine cellar.

Anyway, half the floorshow and the contents of the trench later and Idris slips into something a little more comfortable for the snake charming act.

A very simple routine involving absolutely no snakes whatsoever and yours truly on north African drum (the Doumbek for those of you who are interested). We bundle Idris into a basket off in the wings and I leave to take centre stage. I play and they drag the basket on from stage right. Sanyi, for it is he, enters stage left playing a very arabic theme on the oboe and begins to circle the basket. Nothing happens. He plays more vigorously. Still nothing happens. He kicks the basket. Nothing happens. He plays on. He kicks the basket again. Idris emerges and begins dancing. Loud cheers. A few twirls later and Sanyi deliberately fucks up the oboe line causing me to lose the rhythm. Idris feigns inordinate anger and whips the oboe off Sanyi. She proceeds to demonstrate to him how it should be played and I regain the rhythm. Sanyi takes over the dancing part of the act to even louder cheers and the whole thing ends when Sanyi climbs into the basket. Star turn. They loved us. Photos to follow if any fucker bothered taking any. Which they did, it must be said. Whether or not they included me in the frame is another question entirely. Watch this space.

And then came the belly dancing. Oh boy. Only two of them and one had to resort to tricks...hopping quickly around on alternate legs to generate the required fluidity of the hips but the other more than made up for it.

A bloody awful photo it is true and one that, although it looked fine in the screen of my Nikon when I took it, had to be digitally enhanced in order for it to achieve the admittedly sorry state you see it in here. But christ, can she move. She is an incredibly intelligent and hardworking single mother of Romany descent and who therefore, should have more than a rudimentary knowledge of these things and yet she was so taken with my playing of the Doumbek that she enquired of the possibility of my accompanying her on future gigs. I am decidedly self deprecatory when it comes to my ability on percussion, African or otherwise but even that would not lead to my turning her down, and I have yet to make up my mind by the way. No, what would really do it is that I am sure I would make a fool of myself, lose the rhythm due to a certain abdominal virtuosity and may even begin to drool and dribble. Kegels? I've shat 'em.

Anyway, Here's the band.

This is included only because I would like to place on record the fact that Csaba, one of the finest jazz drummers it has ever been my pleasure to hear perform, managed to stay awake throughout the entire performance. That's him at the back, behind the drum kit, in auto pilot mode. He also retrieved my congas from out at the vineyard jazz club and tells me, as have so many other percussionists (Danny Cummings for one, whose work on George Michael's 'Careless Whisper' still brings me out in goosebumps) that my Natal instruments have the most unbelievably excellent sound (except when I play them of course) and thus earned my undying admiration as an arbiter of good taste.

I bought 15 raffle tickets for 3000 forints (about 7 pounds 50, left the choice of numbers up to the delightful piano teacher I have lusted after for years and bottle of Chivas Regal 12 years old, base note Laphroaig, one multi media stereo headset, and one Galimard Parfum en 1747. Result.

I also managed to drink 7 litres (roughly 13 pints and, before you scoff, we were there at 18:30 and didn't leave till 04:00) of St Miguel draught beer, 6 honey pálinkas and 2 Johnny Walker Red Labels and remained disgustingly sober. Which only goes to show that, even when it's for charity, Hungarian landlords still water down the draught. Not only that but our 30% cut of the bar takings worked out at just 60 000 Hungarian forints. A hundred and ninety guests with beer at 500 forints a korsó? Yeah right. Wanker.

Anyway, despite his best efforts, we still made half a million forints which is half a million up on last year. We rule.

Ah, yes...and at about 02:00, we were approached by the Director of the music school who, after a few brief skirmishes around various and sundry bushes, asked Idris if she would be so kind as to organise next year's event, too.

Oh well, hey ho!

Friday, February 16, 2007



Chinese pupils are best-performing ethnic group with 86% passing national curriculum tests

Schoolchildren of Indian origin come second with 85% achieving the same standard

But only 80% of white British pupils manage to reach a similar level in the assessment"

The Independent.

Well, strap me to a tree and call me Brenda. Again.

Somewhat on a par with the revelations that the Earth isn't in fact flat and that water has been found to be jolly well wet and, if one isn't awfully careful, has the capacity to shrink little Johnny's undergarments.

The fact that Asians out-perform whites in just about any kind of test of academic achievement and intelligence has been abundantly clear ever since such testing was introduced and I suppose I would be relieved to see the fact acknowledged on a front page were it not for the absolute failure on the part of the Education Editor to entirely throw off his PC conceptions and at least consider the role genetics may or may not play in intellectual ability.

His choice of lexis in the heading rather gives it away. The 'but', the 'only' and the 'manage' indicate to me his belief that something should and indeed can be done about it.

The zeitgeist insists we look for a failure whether it be the schools themselves or, as suggested by the main body of the article, parental attitudes and culture. He states that "Parents in families of Chinese origin stress the value of homework", a quite meaningless statement when one considers it as he entirely fails to place it in any comparative context whatsoever and we are left to infer that it is somehow the fault of white parents for undervaluing time spent studying. Indian parents however, obviously need just to give that little extra one per-cent.

The fact that this rather flies in the face of a recent government sponsored study showing that the amount of homework and greater academic ability increase in indirect proportion in that the more homework you get, the less effective it is, is conveniently ignored.

And I know I'm on dangerous ground yet will go there nevertheless, but isn't there a bit of unconscious racism at work here? An idea that the Chinese and Indians can't be better than us, surely. It's the schools. The parents. The tests are skewed. Anything but consider the possibility that they just might be genetically predisposed to outperform us. That bloody PC insistence that we are all the same and 'equal but different' can take a powder.

He also states that girls consistently out-perform boys...another zeitgeist phenomenon that seems to insist that all things female are to be promoted over all things male and much to be preferred but I'll skip that...without actually delving too much into the details.

As an average, mean or whatever you want to call it, what he says is no doubt true but, if the results of these tests follow those of many, many others particularly in mathematics and the sciences, both the extreme percentiles, the very high and the very low, will be dominated by males. To an overwhelming extent. But, seeing as this contradicts the propoganda that a glass ceiling does in fact exist and is the only reason females are under-represented in research fellowships and the like, this too will be conveniently ignored.

Still, I guess it's a start. But I fear that it will be used as a stick with which yet again to browbeat the government into taking measures to do something about that over which they really have no control.

Apart from massaging the figures, that is.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


This is why I always get out of the bath in a more colourful state than that in which I get into it.

And, as transient as it may be, it still accords with my pre-conception that children's art is usually figurative. Apparently, I was wrong.

Okay, I may be her father. But...just how good is that!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Yes, it's that season of the year again, round about carnival time, when fundraising balls dominate the social calendar and some poor fucker gets roped in to do the organising.

That the noose of the Nagykanizsa School of Music and the Performing Arts should have fallen around the neck of my partner, light of my life and mother of my child has led to my becoming a poor fucker by default and, as I am desirous of avoiding atmospheres and unpleasant scenes and would rather prefer everything tickerty boo and my lunch on the table, I have been unable to kick up much of a fuss about it. Coward that I am.

Well, just how difficult can it be? Book a venue, sort the music and food. Job done.

Hmmm. Not quite, professor.

Having chosen to accept the mission, Idris decided quite rightly that, if 't were worth doing...etc and, taking a quick glance back at the history of the event (maximum attendees 90, last year's profit, zilch), made the decision to drag the whole thing, kicking and screaming, into some sort of relevance.

She chose a theme. The East. The Orient and beyond as opposed to Bulgaria and the Carpathians. I ask you. Just what on Earth was she thinking about? We live in a small town backwater in the west of Hungary with about as much connection to the exoticism of the East as Bradford railway sidings.

I think it was the idea of forever having to wash my own socks that finally brought me round or maybe it was the fear of having to arrange quality time with my daughter over the phone but anyway, I succumbed.

She wanted the entrance to the venue to resemble a bazaar. The two trestle tables were easily enough arranged and, bizarrely enough, she was supremely confident of her ability to turn these into a reasonable approximation of a middle eastern souk.

You see, I had reckoned without the Hungarian equivalent of the old boy network. Idris is a music teacher. She also runs her own private music nursery school with which she tours kindergartens in the area giving music 'lessons' to the pre-schoolers. She is also one of the members of Vabababa Társulat, a travelling theatre group of musicians who write their own stories with musical effects and accompaniment and tour nurseries and schools in the county, giving performances to kids. She does, as a consequence, know more young children in this town than just about anybody else and they, not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely adore her. This, as I have since discovered, gives her enormous sway with parents.

One visit to our local carpet emporium and a swift chat with the father/owner later and we left with a selection of the finest silk carpets and wall hangings from all points east. A visit to a furniture store and the mother/proprietor pressed about 6 Indian reed baskets upon us and it only needed a quick dash into the ethnic gift shop and a slight twisting of the arms of the parents/shopholders and we had our bazaar. Hookah pipes, jewellery, ceramics...the lot.

We also found a wonderful oil-burning lamp which every guest will have to rub on entry. A genie will then apparate (or so I am told) and present them with a small welcome gift.

As for the music. Well, much more problematic and has certainly led to the most inventive swearage thus far. I mean, this is a charity ball to raise funds for a music school right? I'll say that slowly. A. Music. School. With more competent musicians per hectare than anwhere else this side of Heiligenkreuz and every single fucking one of them wanted paying for their performance. Fuck 'em. It did rather give me an insight into why it has never made much profit before as it seemed everybody was intent on creaming as much out of it as they could. Bastards. Well, I say every single one...with the honourable exceptions of Angéla, of whom more later, and Laci, a double bass player of Romany descent who has his own band and agreed to play for the dancing for a very much reduced rate. I like Laci. For a dirty, thieving, job-shy, gipsy whorecunt, he's not at all bad.*

We also did a tour of nearly all the shops and businesses in town and most have donated something that we can offer as prizes in the raffle.

And so, on to the show.

You're not going to believe this but, this small town on an old trading route between the Alps and the Adriatic has as part of its cultural possessions a rather nifty and decidedly attractive troupe of belly dancers. They said yes. I said yes, please.

Now, back to Angéla. She runs an after hours percussion orchestra for the kids at the music school...a lot of xylophone work mostly but other percussion, too. She has agreed to arrange a kind of Taiko or Japanese drum performance for us. It's looking up.

Idris' contacts in the theatre world led to us being able to procure the services of the 'Fireflower Moving Theatre' who will perform traditional eastern tales with music and dance accompaniment.

Our Frog attends the local ballet school and they have agreed to send a group of modern dancers along, too. Although quite how this will tie in with the oriental theme is anyone's guess.

Idris and a fellow oboist from a nearby town are going to perform a comedy snake charming act and that just about wraps it up.

The only thing that bothers me is the food. We chose a restaurant as the venue and they will take half of the 4000ft ticket price for food and hire of the large banquetting hall.

I give you the contents of the trench for your perusal.

On arrival: Glass of honeyed pálinka

On arrival at table: Cheese sticks with lentil dip.

Served at table: Meat and vegetable balls with curry sauce.


Indian chicken breast marinated in spicy yoghurt in a ginger, honey and fruit sauce.
Char-grilled turkey kebab.
Stove cooked pork steaks.

Red onion chutney with figs.
Chili sauce.
Jacket potatoes.
Jasmine rice.
Mixed salad.

Apple and almond strudel with cinnamon sauce.

Doesn't look too bad but I wonder what a Hungarian chef will do with it.

We also did a deal whereby we get a discount on the 50-50 ticket price split which kicks in should the alcohol bought exceed a certain level. Pepe and I are both going. This is guaranteed.

So, we get tickets, posters and invitations printed (see above graphic) and, so far, have sold 184 of the buggers with one week still to go. We are on course for both record attendance and profit and, quite remarkably, are still talking to each other.

Better not be too much of a success or they'll ask her to do it next year an' all.

*Irony alert, folks. (Just in case, you understand. One can't be too careful.)

Friday, February 09, 2007


Yes, I know. One of my more tenuous titles I'll admit, but nothing else would quite do.

As your innate perspicacity and powers of detailed observation will no doubt already have registered the fact that Amstelladagain has been Shoe-horned into a long overdue re-fit, my actual posting about it would, at first glance, appear superfluous in the extreme. However, some rumours are best quelled at source lest matters swiftly get out of hand.

There has been an insidious sussuration of snide whispers that Amstelladagain was a mere spectator in the process and that the photoshopping and html manipulation involved was entirely the work of the woman who does. I would just like to take the opportunity of stating that any further perpetuation of these scurrilous rumours* will leave me no choice but to place the entire matter in the hands of our legal representatives.

You have been warned.

*(Edit) The Amstelladagain legal team would like it clearly understood that they are in no way responsible for the veracity of this statement.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Once again I must express my indebtedness to the Shoe for bringing to my attention the latest in a long line of contrivances designed to prevent the young girls and gentlewomen of the United States from ever having to confront or even question the patriarchal attitudes to their burgeoning sexuality. Purity rings.

I mean, what!

There is so much that is deeply troubling and worrisome about this that it is difficult to know where to start, never mind how to best organise one's thoughts on the subject. Jess covers most points admirably and yet I feel that insufficient stress is given to the root cause underlying all her arguments. A denial borne out of fear.

It is not the sole preserve of the religious to seek to deny the basic truth that we are, in the final analysis, what one might term linnéally part of the animal kingdom yet it is the conservative right which seeks to apply this logic in such self-serving and hypocritical a fashion. We, all of us, in western societies far removed from the 'natural' harbour within ourselves an aversion to anything which reminds us of our animalistic heritage. How many of us feel entirely comfortable using the purely descriptive words 'shit', 'piss' and 'fuck' rather than the myriad twee euphemisms with which we attempt to gloss over the 'coarse' reality?

I am not suggesting for a moment that we should all succumb to our animal urges and instincts. We are about as far removed as possible from a natural environment wherein such behaviour would be a reasonable survival strategy and, as we have shaped our environment, so must we adjust our actions and attitudes to suit. The problem lies in the fact that our society today has been shaped by men and, as a logical consequence, largely for them as well.

And what of men? What, to use a theatrical term, is their motivation? The acquisition of power? Maybe. A desire to control? A possibility. Jesus...look at those answers. Any of you who were in any doubt of my gender have just been enlightened. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I have only allowed myself to admit of the possibility rather than accept a blunt affirmative as the only reasonable response. But even this misses the point. Both these desires stem from something deeper, something much more primal and, by even referring to it, I am probably forfeiting all rights I may have had to membership of the man club and laying myself wide open to charges of heresy, treason and betrayal or, more likely, that my views are totally unrepresentative of the sex as a whole and the product of a sadly deranged and probably latently homosexual mind. Such are the defences we employ.

At base, the problem is fear. And it is the fear of female sexuality. What else would prompt us to explain away our own transgressions as a succumbing to our basic animal urges, a problem solely of weakness of will in other words, and yet view the possession of the same by the female as the problem itself?

Catch most men in a moment of unguarded honesty and they will admit to a desire to basically fuck anything with a pulse, Anne Widdicombe excepted of course; a celebration and affirmation of their masculinity, each convinced of their own inate alpha maleness.

And yet, in the same moment of unguarded honesty, they would have to admit to entertaining the idea that this is delusion of the highest degree. And one which strikes at the heart of our self definition as males, our cocks.

I don't think I am taking too much for granted when I say that women just do not possess an organ so intrinsic to their sexuality nor one as capable of wreaking such havoc to their ego. I mean, they may worry about the size of their tits but I have never experienced a situation where non-performance of mammary glands has precluded an act of fornication. Is clitoris size an issue in self-image? I doubt it. Inadequate lubrication is a problem that can be overcome. A failure to erect on the other hand will lead to despair and a possible desire to invade small, lightly armed middle-eastern countries. There is, and I apologise in advance for the imagery, just so much riding on it.

And even given a full and totally reliable erectile function we are still screwed when it comes to performance. Only once in my entire sexual life have I encountered the situation where my partner in the horizontal dance was, in the total sense of the word, fucked and I in a condition for further activity. Once. Penis envy? A trifle compared to our longing for an organ as capable of multiple orgasms as a vagina. The disparity in capacity between a cunt and a cock is surely a further proof of the non-existence of god or, at the very least, that he or she was intent on fucking with us.

The point being that, taken on average and on a purely physical level, no man is capable of entirely satisfying a woman sexually and this really pisses us off. We who control so much find this one basic function over which we have none. Something. Must. Be. Done. Limp dickery is not an option.

And so we take the easy way out. We deny our own inadequate sexuality and attempt to prevent the female from ever finding a full expression of hers. We exaggerate and praise our performance and seek to express our virility in other ways while at the same time attaching the label of immorality to female sexuality. Job done. Or at least it is as long as the (male) Church holds sway over issues of morality and it is this perception that the religious right seeks to perpetuate with these fucking purity rings. A patronising pat on their little heads and instructions not to worry their pretty little selves at all about that insistent itch which demands scratching. It's just the devil at work, dear. Just say no.

On the whole, I think I prefer the 'What would Jesus do?' bands.

He would forgive you, my dear. And ask his old man to get the balance right next time.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Whilst hardly coming as a shock of a magnitude capable of causing even the most negligible twitch of the seismograph, it was nonetheless quite sobering to discover upon rousing oneself from the deep and dream-filled that an idea first mooted in the ethereal world of late night chat had evolved into a form altogether more substantial, the upshot of which is that Amstelladagain has been decreed Social Secretary to the Shoe, a position which, in this case, is more akin to that of a firewall than personal organiser.

Our main duty, it would appear, is to facilitate the avoidance of any unpleasant scenes and/or the kind of thwarted expectations that would lead to the hasty and most likely fumbled attempts to stuff the agreed upon buttonhole of choice as far down into the breast pocket as possible without drawing unwanted attention to the deed.

Now, acknowledging the fact that with great responsibility comes great power, it would seem incumbent upon us to adopt a policy of impartiality, considered judgement, objectivity and honesty but, as the priest was heard to mutter on his way to the choir stalls, "Bugger that." It is well to know one's limitations, after all.

So, first things first. Physical attributes. Hmmmmm.

Whilst those of dangly genitalia are undoubtedly in prime position to avail themselves of any dating opportunities, previous experience has been such that any application from the differently gendered will be looked upon favourably on the understanding that representatives from Amstelladagain reserve the right to show up at any time during the date to observe that events are proceeding smoothly and to offer any assistance that may be required.

I feel pretty confident in making the assertion that, if you are able to rest your nose atop any bar of standard height without having to stoop or bend at the knee, your application would fall at the first hurdle. EC is no Amazon yet is shown to her best advantage alongside the reasonably tall and broad shouldered.

Six pack stomachs offer no real head start here as the self absorption and narcissism needed to acquire such would probably manifest themselves in other areas as well and lead to conflict and unpleasant scenes. Besides, such muscles are akin to speed bumps and unnecessarily hamper progress in either an upwards or downwards direction and rather tend to spoil the quite pleasing curvature of the slightly convex belly.

Facial hair. Eyebrows a must for both sexes here. Beards? Not at all high on the list of must have features although they are acceptable for the male only if they are of we say, nautical variety and do not depend for their maintenance upon several hours in front of the mirror and a post graduate diploma in topiary.

A propensity towards maintaining equilibrium and co-ordination even during the most severe of alcoholic broadsides will be looked upon extremely favourably. Clumsiness, whilst not grounds for automatic exclusion, will not likely be tolerated in outdoor situations and most definitely not if demonstrated indoors and while already, or on the way towards being, horizontally engaged.

One will not be expected to be overly fastidious in one's choice of apparel. One should aim for appropriacy, casual elegance and comfort above all. Natural fibres are recommended for all occasions and brownie points will be gained by expressing a preference for the hand knitted. Any leanings towards the leather, rubber, PVC or any dressing which could in any way be described as 'cross' would better be suppressed until at least the fifth date.

A little personal hygiene goes a long way. EC is relatively low maintenance in that personal grooming products essential for creating a good impression are limited to a good soap and essence of rum and cigar smoke.

Right. Time to delve a little below the surface, I feel.

Character. All applicants should have one with no exceptions.

Manners. Old school Southern. Again, no exceptions although the Yorkshire variant has proved efficacious. Producing an authentic rendition of, "After thee, lass" will however, require the production of one's credentials, a birth certificate being the only true guarantee of success. And, even then, on no account should one ever refer to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane as, "a dashed fine spot, don't you know?"

Honesty. Advisable at all times except when it isn't. These times may vary and be subject to whim, situation and bourbon content. The phrase, "You don't sweat much for a fat lass" is best left until at least the second carnal encounter and care must still be taken over tone and intonation to avoid the possiblity of one's being measured for prosthetics a little earlier than one might reasonably have anticipated. Amstelladagain has no advice whatsoever concerning the correct answer to questions such as, "Does this make me look fat?" other than to say that, "No, dear. That's the cookies." is probably not one's best option at this point.

Taste. A veritable minefield and one which will lead to the removal of all but the fittest from the EC dating pool. A falling by the wayside of almost mythical proportion will occur as the lack of an ability to discriminate between the genuinely excellent and the merely well advertised in any field takes its toll. Received wisdom here will help not a whit. One must at all times be prepared to justify one's choices and preferences although be warned that any justification one might have for preferring Jim Beam or Jack Daniel's to small batch sipping bourbon will be dismissed peremptorily and out of hand. There are no second chances here.

Sexuality. Worth having. Definitely.

High maintenance submissives. Need. Not. Apply.

Accessories. Mobile phones should on no account be used for sending pictures of one's gender specific attributes whether in a state of advanced arousal or no. This is in no way a symptom of a Victorian prurience but is rather borne out of the inarguable logic which states that such an act does automatically disqualify one from any claim one might have had to be, even barely, human.

Miscellaneous. Any queries answered on request for a nominal fee.

EC. A tall order? That's as maybe and not for the faint of heart but a reward well worth aspiring to nevertheless.

All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence and will not, never, no how be made public on Amstelladagain without prior permission.*

*This may not be entirely accurate.