Thursday, 25 October 2012

Nannu Nannu

NaNoWriMo? Sound like something from that ancient TV series, Mork and Mindy?
Well, now you’re showing your age, eh?
In fact, that gag will be lost on anyone under 50, which is hopefully some of you.
NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.
I half heard about it last year, but never really got to look at it closely. I also was doing too much other stuff to partake. Same applies this year – except, that I am dropping some of that stuff for a short while – and going to give it a go. Wohoo!
Many people have reasons to partake in an International event such as this, about 75,000 to be precise. But mine is quite simple.
I seem to have got stuck, for the first time in my writing career, with one book going forward - and that one has itself got stuck on Chapter 5. Don’t get me wrong, I can continue it, but I don’t feel it flowing. And if I don’t enjoy writing it and making myself laugh, then I am pretty certain nobody will enjoy reading it. Yes, stalling it may be costly, as it is a sequel to the memoir I released recently, and it was due out by Xmas. A few hundred sales missed, maybe. But if I wasn’t happy with it, it is best not released, surely. Not for now anyway. I would like to think I, as a cross section of independent authors, don’t do it solely for the money. Thank God. We wouldn’t get too fat if we did.
So, to this NaNo thing?
Yesterday I spent a few hours kicking some ideas around my brain.
Write about what you know, they say. Sound advice, especially if you want to scribe a whole novel in a hurry.
Sheep, I thought. I know about them.
Nah. Dismissed. Too specialist. But then I got round to thinking of other subjects and each time my warped mind kept seeing them played out by sheep characters.
Mad? Yes, definitely.
A sheep detective story? Well, I have already done a Cow one of the those.
Then on went the TV and all the rubbish that is shown to the masses – who all watch it religiously. X-Factor, Strictly, brain-dead soaps and mindless documentaries. Just like sheep really.
So then it came to me in a flash. Most of the world are actually sheep, but in human form.
Then bingo, an idea was born.
Within an hour, a story arose, and then an early night.
By today, I am chaffing at the bit and starting to write snippets.
But there is 6 days to go before the November kick-off, during which time this stupid story will fester, evolve and mutate.
So far, here is what I have come up with: A political romantic comedy erotic thriller-drama – with some sheep in it.
Warped I know. But after 50,000 words in 30 days, it may either be crazy or genius. Or possibly both. Or, more likely, neither.
I have never wished 6 days to pass so quickly in my life. Can I cheat and start now?
Nah. You can fool a lot of people, but never yourself. Someone said that once. Wise old owl that he was.
If you fancy a crack at it too, don’t be shy, go to and take up the challenge.
See you on the finish line.
Oh, and just because you are taking part in the biggest synchronised writing stint in the world, that doesn’t make you a sheep…does it?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Wonga no longer

Who the hell came up with the idea of In case you haven’t heard of it, it is a website encouraging people to take out loans to buy stuff, and it is pretty obvious that their marketing is targeting Xmas.
For god’s sake people, what were you thinking? Why don’t they just call it or Don’t these companies realise the reason why the world is in recession?
It’s due to irresponsible lending. Full stop.
That and greed by people wanting things right now, that they can’t afford.
Then we see an advert on TV for Experian. Now Experian, as some of you may know, has been around for 20+ years and was, once, a quite vital tool for lenders who would use it to check on borrower’s credit ratings and thus evaluate the risk.
But now we see them as offering a service to borrowers with the slogan as follows: “Improving your credit score can get you anything you want…”
What? So, although you haven’t paid your last bill, we can delete that information from the records, if you bung us a few quid…?
Isn’t that complete insanity?
The reason you have a bad rating is that somewhere along the line, you have not managed your money correctly. And that makes you a money lending risk, regardless of what smoke screen you put over it.
Surely, after 4 years in recession, with a pretty accurate understanding of what caused it, the government, or even the World Banks, should be monitoring some level of responsible lending? And outlawing this despicable activity?
They should be countering this with their own adverts showing the bailiffs hammering down a door and repossessing the 40 incher – on Christmas day – while the family are eating their Turkey-twizzler lunch in front of Eastenders.
With the slogan: “…if you buy things you cant pay for you will end up in jail with paedophiles and rapists, and you wont sleep for 3 years for fear of being rogered on your bunk every night!”
Can nobody see the problem in front of their eyes?

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Recently I wrote that I rarely watch TV and, equally, I don’t read newspapers. In fact, having not been to the UK for over six months, I am sometimes a little out of touch with the tittle-tattle of the British media.
But this weekend, having returned from a wet business trip to Glasgow, Wendy thought she was being kind by bringing me a copy of the Saturday Telegraph.
So it was, after having written up about the absurdity of the case of Andrew Mitchell, something which should have been settled with a handshake, I then get chastised for presenting a one-sided rant from a friend who was staunchly defending the police-force. She does have a point and I have no intention of undermining their good work or their struggles with government shortcuts.
But on re-reading the case in this paper, I still stand by what I said: that it is irrelevant nonsense, a storm in a teacup, used for political gain. And, in general politics don’t interest me.
Neither does this newspaper, because the first 10 pages – yes ten bloody pages – are full of stories about politicians doing something highly unmemorable, like having an argument with a train guard.
Who cares?
Why can’t these idiots confine their mud slinging to their designated workplace instead of inflicting us with their thinly disguised wrangles. Should all this really be reported for us to read?
Admittedly, this edition came from Scotland, so many of the stories are about Alex Salmon and his marginal ideas on independence. Of this I care even less that the class-obsessed stories from Westminster. News of a £7 million settlement to that criminal Rebekah Brooks enrages me slightly, but then a report on the SNP conference causes me to start glazing over.
By the time I get to the crossword page, I have fallen fast asleep and am snoring like a runaway train.
Thankfully, when I awake, I have 50 supplements, the weight of which must have exceeded Ryanair’s baggage allowance, and I can drool over a review of the new McLaren 12C Spider. For once hasn’t been written by his holiness, J Clarkson.
All in all, I consider this pile of trash an emphatic waste of money, but am thankful that at least we will be able to light the fire for the next three months.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Grow up, you plebs

I don’t watch much TV in the summer but last night the rainy autumn evening drove me indoors. No problem, I enjoyed an entertaining game of rugby but then that was followed by Newsnight, and within minutes I started screaming and throwing things at the plasma.
It’s a few years since I watched this programme and I recall it used to be reasonably intelligent. What happened? When did it become just twisted bunch of nobodies discussing things in detail that are completely irrelevant. I recognise this, as it is something I do myself daily. But I would like to think my opinions carry a little bit of common sense, if not common belief.
The subject is Andrew Mitchell, that cocky politician who, after yet another media witch-hunt, has just resigned. Good, They all should, if you ask me, and let my dog run the country. He couldn’t do much worse.
But it is the reason he has been forced to resign that beggars belief.  
‘You called me names!’ says a lowly worker. ‘I’m telling on you, and they’ll listen to me, because I’m a prefect, I mean, policeman-librarian-milk monitor-important person.’  
Yes I called you names, because you were acting like a fucking moron, says the Mitchell, and calling people manes is what I do for a living. I called you a pleb. It’s a derogatory term for someone who does a job that requires common sense, and that person is not applying any. Like you, for instance.
We’ve all wanted to say it. Stop acting like a prick and go and catch some proper criminals instead of hiding behind the red tape that gives idiots like you an academic position with a uniform in the name of the law.
Don’t agree?
Come on – a traffic warden in your locale with a big ego who hands out a ticket, 2 minutes after yours expires? A bouncer, bus conductor or museum security guard has hassled you in the last week, I bet?
Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, many of these sad people who hide behind that uniform do it purely for power.
Recently I was aggressively searched by a jumped-up little twat at Luton airport who insisted on putting his hands down my trousers in the name of security. So intense was his antagonism that I am convinced he wanted me to smack him, just to get himself yet another settlement. And he came very, very close. These people are out there – specifically for this excuse – I am convinced.
Don’t get me wrong, we need a good police force, and every manjack should help them do their job by abiding by the law. But surly part of their training should be to withstand personal insults, and focus on people doing wrong?
I swear profusely, every hour. Mainly at myself to be fair, but sometimes at the weather, my dog, my computer, even Wendy. The dogs can’t answer back, nor can the clouds, but Wendy may retaliate a little and when she does, I apologise. Event over.
When I was a kid you and you called someone a name, even a policeman, you got a clip round the ear and were made to take it back.
So when was it that a uniform became a cloak that a worker could use to entice financial gain?
I can just see PC Pleb now, heading off to work on Downing street rubbing his hands, mind full of social uprising, begging for insults from the country’s ruling classes. ‘You can’t ride you bike there, Sir. It’s against the rules, Sir. Stand away from the bike, Sir!
I’m not condoning arrogance. Andrew Mitchell had no business to talk down to anyone, but for god sakes, shake hands – and apologise. And get on with your job.
Instead of filling my autumn TV screen with discussions by morons with the combined intellect of a wool-sack, using childish actions for political gain.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Prince's trust

Despite spending half my time writing very un-politically correct paragraphs I am, believe it or not, a staunch advocate of the ‘press’ being accountable to the public, and not the other way round.
I am also a royalist, seemingly one of the few who is of the opinion that the Royal Family’s benefits far outweigh their costs.
However, today, I am intrigued. In my book ‘In Bed With Cows’ I made a couple of references to Prince Charles and how I believe he has quite a blinkered view on society, especially that of agriculture. And now we find that he has been writing to the government, to advise them of his opinions on a variety of subjects including health, education, media and sport, as well as DEFRA - possibly telling the latter we should all be planting organic leeks.
But then, despite a newspaper hack quoting the Freedom of Information act and demanding to see them, the government have declined to disclose their contents. To quote BBC’s royal correspondent: ‘the highlighting of these letters is enough to give his critics ammunition, and fuel their argument that he is meddling behind the scenes...’
For once I agree. He has been meddling behind the scenes, and he is not qualified to do so. In fact, the man is about as in-touch with reality as Jimmy Saville was with Social Services!
So I, for one, would really like to know what it said in those letters and feel myself baying for them to be released to the public.
Let’s face it, if I, or pretty much anyone else, had written them, then Attourney General Grieve would have happily handed them over to the Guardian in a heartbeat. But, in this instance, it is in our own interests that we don’t get to find out what the opinions of our future monarch are, as it may ‘jeopardise his relationship’ and ‘declare his political preferences’.
Is that possibly because they are as mad as his great-great-great mad ancestor’s?
It would be good to find out, wouldn’t it? Before it’s too late.
 For  example, in 2005 was he suggesting to the education minister that primary school children stay away from Jim’ll Fiddle-with-it, or anyone else in a shell-suit with improbable blonde hair and a greasy smile?
Or maybe that the minister for sport to keep Boris Johnson well-away from the cameras in the Olympics? Or from primary schools, for that matter, now they have been issued with the above description.
Perhaps farmers should all sell their gaz-guzzling tractors to Africans and go back to using draft-horses called Dobin to till the earth, feeding them on organic carrots grown on a Cornwall estate until we have a national food shortage. Highland, Shorthorn and Angus cattle could all become the modern-day saviours of the beef industry.
Hang-on. Come to think of it.... Maybe the Emperor’s new clothes aren’t so new after all?

Friday, 12 October 2012

A self-preservation society

Oh dear, its looks like we have created a phenomenon – which isn’t easy to spell, let me tell you. What started out as a daft idea has somehow morphed into an event of a magnitude to rival Glastonbury - and all in the name of preservation.
It also seems that we now hold the accolade of adding the word ‘chutneyhead’ to the English dictionary. Yes, I am talking about this years annual Chutney Festival, which occurred last weekend at our gaff.  How our brave judge managed to work his way through upwards of 50 jars of unlabelled, and possibly toxic, substances that were set before him is beyond me. But he did it commendably, which resulted in a winner being chosen in a ‘spicy red-pepper’ chutney from an overseas visitor and friend – Peter Hancock. The reserve prize also travelled in the hold of a Ryanair fight from UK, a tasty bbq sauce from my niece, Adele from Kidderminster, whose talents scooped a haul of other prizes as well. For all my own efforts, I only managed one prize, that of the hottest pickle which, once tasted, numbed the senses rendering the recipient unable to speak for nigh on two hours. I could probably find a use for it…
At the end of the event I made a short speech, thanking the 40-strong crowd and asking them to, please, take some of these jars home with them. That they did – but only the best ones. We are now left with 25 jars, without labels, some of which are not very nice. After the heat had died down I reviewed the judges tasting notes only to reveal that one of the offers resembled ‘baby-sick’, while another had the odour and consistency of ‘his auntie’s bath-water’. Sadly, one of these was mine! The problem is what to do with them now? Well, with a bit of canny resealing and rebranding, the remainder may still end up with Santa at the family Xmas present-opening at the close of the year.
At some point during the oblivion of that same day I heard a rather large creak in the roof of the terrace, which thankfully went un-noticed by our guests. A few days later, on closer inspection, it transpired that the sudden noise was in fact the roof caving in, as one of the main beams had given in to some mild wet-rot and dropped about a foot, causing the whole thing to list alarmingly to one side. Mercifully it didn’t collapse completely and maim everyone underneath it. Since then, with the aid of some well-meaning house-guests, we have now chocked it back up until a better-qualified engineer can rebuild it into a construction that will last another hundred years. Phew. Methinks for the next event, I had better apply for some public-liability insurance.
For the 6 months of the year here in this part of France there is a policy, ne, a law, which says that ‘thou shalt not light a bonfire’. Quite sensible really, especially this year as the whole place has been a tinderbox for the entire summer. Eventually, this week, after at last getting a few splashes of rain to revive some reluctant greenery, I added a match to the huge pile of brash that was once an overgrown hedge in the sheep field. Wow did it burn, attracting raised eyebrows from passing cars and nearby hikers as it billowed black smoke towards the heavens. Unfortunately it also attracted the attentions of one of the sheep, a certain Daisy-Deathwish – yes her, the star of endless stories about a lamb with an incredible sense of self-destruction – who thought it may be a good idea to graze the few remaining weeds around the fringes of the pile as the fire raged. She now has no eyebrows and an even pinker nose than before. But still she defies nature by remaining alive on this earth.
Meanwhile, Rambo, the ram with a supersonic ego, is hard at work, for once chasing the ewes around the field instead of people. I, on the other hand, am running nowhere, having now added a sprained ankle to my already overloaded Achilles’ problem from last month. As the last of our house guests left this morning, for me it’s feet-up time for a week or so, before setting to the task of battening down for winter.
For a household who generally like to talk a lot, I was quite relieved to open our phone bill this month to find that it was relatively normal. The reason for my relief was because a lady in the nearby village of Pessac got a bit of a shock when she opened hers to find it was for an amount of 12 quadrillion euros. Evidently it was a computer error – with no blame attached to its operator. As this rather funny story made it into the national press, so the phone company then waived her real bill, which was a mere hundred quid or so, getting some bad press in the bargain. But what really intrigued me was that there was actually a number called quadrillion, because I for one had never heard of it. Apparently it is 6,000 times the national output of France – or possibly the age of Bruce Forsyth?
Has anyone ever been in a Frankie and Benny’s restaurant and been dissatisfied. I certainly am always appalled at their service whenever I go there. However, it seems that Nora Rees, some welsh bird from Cardiff, really had something to complain about when they mixed up her drinks order.
“It was terrible, see,” said Mrs Rees, aged 17. “I only nipped in for my morning snifter at about 11.30 and they served me with a beaker of Ribena. I was so appalled that I had to steal my son’s glass of whisky.” Nora has since been recovering from shock in a local hospital, while her son, Sonny Leek Daffodil, aged 2, stays at home minding the drinks cabinet. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the company denied any mal-practice, claiming it was Sonny himself who had placed the order as he felt his Mum had been overdoing it on the cooking-sherry lately. ‘…and anyway,’ he added, ‘there’s nothing wrong with serving whisky to 2 year olds, as long as they are not driving home or working the afternoon shift down the pit..!’
Finally I have once again raise my furrowed brow at the antics of the French. This time it is the men of Brittany who are making demands on the government, that they should be allowed to wear skirts to work. After all, they claim, Louis XVI looked great in one, right up to the time he was executed for cross-dressing. President of the Hommes en Jupe group also quoted: ‘… my cousin Jimmy from Glasgow wears a skirt every day and nobody takes the p*ss out of him?’
Yes Jérémie, but he doesn’t wear stilettos as well?