Diary, Entry 2

14th July
It’s worst than I thought.
Instead of carrying off this new and fashionable, “Tramp Look”, with something approaching the aplomb I originally envisioned, today someone commented that I looked like Kenny Rogers. He’s dead, isn’t he?
Thank you very much indeed, Mum.
15th July
Not that I have been unnecessarily deliberating on it at all, due to the fact that there are a lot of things currently going on in the world that I feel demand my attention a little bit more, but… Kenny bloody Rogers?!
I decided, mainly after catching a rather unfortunate whiff from his breath, that
little Teddy desperately needed his little teeth cleaned. Having finally caught him and secured him and pacified him somewhat with the vague promise of a biscuit, or two, my mum went to work as quickly as possible, whilst I tried to hold the little scamp’s head as still as I could – he doesn’t half wriggle about and fidget! After a few exhausting minutes we had managed to clean the whole of the left side of his little mouth and a couple of the molars at the back of the right side of his mouth, before he decided that enough was simply enough and promptly tried to eat the toothbrush. He’s not getting a biscuit after that! We never had this problem with little Holly… Unless it was bath time, and then we had to tie her to a tree, get the hose out and stand well back! She would quite happily jump in any old stream, dirty puddle or lob herself into the sea, but when it came to the bath!
On the plus side, and despite the many desperate warnings from all the experts on FaceBook, Godzilla has not shown up as of yet. Sally from Exeter, who apparently knows all about these things from her previous job as a hairdresser-come-beautician, thinks that this could be due to the current travel restrictions? In her opinion, the fact that he would, or would not, now have to self-quarantine himself for fourteen days has slightly put him off travelling to G.B. Apparently, he hasn’t got the time and hasn’t arranged for the extra days off work. Apparently, during the week, he’s a Quantity Surveyor.
16th July
I found out at six o-clock this evening, after Pointless and just in time for the 6 O-Clock News, that it’s a Thursday. I could have sworn that it was the Tuesday from 9 days ago. What happened to that Tuesday? This sort of throws my diary out of kilter a little bit.
Spent my time between writing the various drafts of my new article for, For The Love of Bands, by relaxing and watching The Deadliest Catch, but had to quit the daring chase for King Crab and return quickly to shore due to a heavy bout of incapacitating sea-sickness.
Don’t like crab anyway, to be honest. They are the Devil’s sea creatures! All that sideways walking and snip, snip snipping.

NOTE: Whilst searching high and low for my favourite Umbro trainers that Teddy has no doubt taken hostage, I finally found Tuesday 7th July down the back of the sofa.

17th July
Megan Markle, one time actress and current part-time duchess with a busy social media account, has now decided that she and Prince Harry do not like Los Angeles after all, as its full of people who refuse to take any notice of her – let alone bow and scrape like peasants are supposed to nowadays – and hundreds of film companies that don’t want to employ her what-so-ever. Megan is reported to be in tears now, having, according to her friend(s), given up her entire life for the royal family; for at least 90 minutes whilst she was getting married. This is all said to have come as something of a complete shock to poor husband Harry, who was informed of the news by her staff whilst doing the dishes. So where next for the couple, now that the whole of Great Britain and Canada are out of the running? Afghanistan was suggested by poor Harry, although Narnia is supposedly nice at this time of year as well.
Sir Tom Moore has finally been knighted by Her Majesty. He is reported to have explained to the Queen that he would gladly kneel for her but was slightly worried as to whether he’d be able to get back up again. Well done Colonel, Sir Tom! Who, due to massive undermanning in the armed forces, has now been called up for a 6 month tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards.
18th July
Publication of the overall daily figures for coronavirus-related deaths in the UK has been paused after Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered an urgent review. The news comes after Public Health England confirmed that the reported deaths may have included people who had tested positive for the virus months before they died and thousands who have since been revealed to have died from everything else; 2, for example, from having been run over by a car. According to some reports, namely this one, because the word “CAR” also starts with a “C”, health experts reportedly became confused and labelled the death as virus related anyway, just to be on the safe side. Allegedly, and according to both the Independent and The Mirror, Boris Johnson was heard to loudly exclaim, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, can’t I leave you lot alone to get on with anything?”, whilst Dominic Cummings’ is believed to have already organised a firing squad for the crack of dawn next Wednesday, when no one’s looking!
Sir I’m Botham, one time cricketer and full-time pundit to be found with his arthritic feet in a bowl, is to be given a Knighthood for his work during the Brexit campaign. Apparently his persuasive argument, to hit anyone who voted “Stay” over their treacherous heads with a big bat, was invaluable over the course of the debate, and is thought to have swung the vote, especially “up north”, where they don’t really like being hit over the head with a big bat! The knighthood had nothing whatsoever to do with his years of charity work.
Boris Johnson has confidently announced that Britain will be back to normal, and Great once again, by Christmas. He hasn’t however, said exactly what Christmas.
20th July
Today I received a text from my bank. It was enquiring after me, which is nice. Apparently, concerns have been raised in Barclay’s head office by the fact that I don’t seem to be spending any money, and that, furthermore, and more worrying still, that money now actually seems to be accumulating somewhat!? In a round-about way, and without being too invasive, the text just wanted to make sure that everything is okay… and that I am, “still alive and well”? Now doubt, the next time I go to Morrison’s the relief to them will be palpable.

NOTE: Coincidentally, I also received a text from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It said, and I quote: “You better be dead, you useless four-eyed…!”

21st July
What week is it?
Have started to read Moby Dick.
22nd July
Have finished reading Moby Dick.
What a crap book that is! Three hundred-odd pages in, and still no sign of the bloody whale! And, I am openly rooting for the bloody whale! I therefore chucked the book in the corner at around three-thirty, thereby becoming the only book I have never bothered to finish, and this coming from a man who stuck with Wuthering Heights right the way through! Believe me, the song is a lot, lot better!
Unfortunately though, and after searching through Amazon, Moby Dick doesn’t seem to have a song sung after it by Kate Bush, so it’s obviously a complete and utter waste of both time and effort then.
At around about four-thirty I start to read The Karamazov Brothers…
23rd July
Still reading The Karamazov Brothers…
So far the whale hasn’t bothered to appear in this tome either? All rather strange.
On the TV, Britain’s new superhero, Captain Hindsight, has announced that he and the Labour Party would have handled the outbreak a lot better and would have put Britain into lockdown in 2017. So why did it take them 4 months to elect Captain Hindsight as leader? And why has it taken them 8 months to bury the report into anti-Semitism? But maybe I’m a sceptic because I remember the excellent way in which they handled Foot & Mouth!? I am therefore mightily relieved that we haven’t all been culled unnecessarily and left in huge piles in fields to be burned later, when they can get round to it. And before the stink makes those of us who are left, ill.
24th July
Captain Hindsight, who now comes with his own cape of neutral colours so as not to offend the colourblind, has today revealed to a glorious fanfare that, under his guidance and leadership, the Second World War would have been handled very, very differently, starting with the cutting off of the gas supply to Germany! The young and gullible from Suburbia have decided that this is just another reason as to why the evil and bloodthirsty Churchill’s statue must be removed immediately and replaced by one of Robert Mugabe, the brave, black freedom fighter who fought relentlessly against colonialism and all food grown and supplied to the masses by evil white farmers. Or, if dear old Robert’s not available, then Eddie Izzard would suffice just as well! At least till someone realises that he’s white, and, despite the dress, a man, and they have to send each other to weeks of re-education classes immediately!
25th July
I have a headache.
Three hundred-odd, really odd, pages into The Karamazov Brothers and I have totally forgotten what happened at the very beginning. And what the book’s supposed to be about. If it’s not careful it’s going to end up in the corner with bloody Moby Dick!
Where is Kate Bush when you really need her?
Those sunning themselves on the beaches of Spain whilst trying to dodge the donkeys being thrown off of neighbouring church roofs have been informed today that they now have to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon their return, mainly due to the fact that Spain, like the rest of Europe is now in the midst of a ‘spike’, or another hefty wave of Covid 19. According to the B.B.C., which is still scaring people half to death on an hourly basis with a smile, most holidaymakers over there are quite angry, but why? They’re getting an extra 14 days holiday at home to recover from their 2 weeks in Spain. Result! I have no sympathy for them though, as I can’t lose this feeling that they should have holidayed in the U.K., helping to rebuild our economy.
28th July
An electrician kindly visited my flat in Watford today, in order for me to get a brand new certificate for something or other and a new bulb in the kitchen. By the time he left, 20 minutes later, I needed a new fuse box and had an empty bank account? Some bulb! Hey ho, easy come, easy go. Barclay’s will be relieved!
I wrote an article last week for the webzine, For The Love of Bands, reviewing the Aussie band, The Lucid Hoops debut album. I heard today that they liked the review so much they have used it all over their social media platforms… Fame at last! Fortune now surely beckons, and can only be just around the corner? And it can’t come soon enough to be honest, especially if I ever need another electrician!
29th July
I can wear a ponytail! I start modelling various looks and stances in the mirror… But decide, after just a couple of hours, that I look like a prat any which way.

31st July
The relaxing of restrictions as we attempt to come away from the grip of this worldwide virus has been delayed, with scientists and government ministers worried by the tsunami of a wave now washing once more over Europe and the levelling out, and in some places, in the decrease in cases over here, especially in the north west. The reopening of gyms has therefore been postponed.
Damn! What a shame. But never mind. Now, where did I put those packets of Custard Creams?
3rd August
Threw The Karamazov Brothers in the corner!

Diary, entry 1

1st July 2020
So far, this year has probably been the most memorable, if only for all the wrong reasons.
A worldwide pandemic has scared everyone indoors, despite the fact that hardly anyone seems to have caught it. Covid 19, (no I don’t know what happened to the previous 18 either), is not even trying, if you ask me. It’s a half-arsed pandemic if ever I saw one!
The worst thing about it is the fact that the barbers have had to close their doors, resulting in the fact that now everyone looks like a frigging tramp… Apart from the frigging tramps who now look like Yetis, and particularly angry Yetis. This look though, goes well with their peculiar and unique grunts as they thrust plastic cups up at you. Or they would, if there were people still wandering around on the streets. Apparently, frigging tramps and your local hooker were not covered by the government’s far reaching furlough scheme and can’t ‘work from home’ They weren’t even allowed to partake in the recent riots as they were judged not to be well dressed enough.
This is exactly what happens when you vote Tory.
In other news, the B.B.C. has finally discovered what everyone else knew months ago, and that is that the B.L.M. movement has nothing to do with protecting or enhancing the rights of black people the world over, instead just contenting itself with trying to bring down capitalism in favour of a strict marxist dream. Every one else seems to have been well aware of their simple aims, I discovered it for myself just by reading their well versed and angst driven website, but this was apparently beneath the beeb – it’s apparently against their remit to actually investigate anything anymore, according to a spokesman, woman, trans-neutral-thing-of-gender, rock, vegetable or mineral. And, anyway, they were far too busy “taking the knee”. They can’t do everything, you know. Not on their budget.
If only they had listened to people, rather than just labelling them as Far Right Extremists whilst siding with those poor little middle class white kids happily destroying statues.
2nd July 2020
So far July seems to be behaving itself. It has decided, after much consideration and deliberation, to just sit quietly in a corner somewhere and to keep its gob shut! At least till Godzilla arrives on the 27th.
I have noticed a very welcome side effect to this worldwide pandemic however, and that is that EastEnders seems to be off our screens. To think that it only took 40,000-odd deaths and the crushing of the world’s economy. If I’d have known it was that easy though, I would have slaughtered everyone in nursing homes ages ago. A special mention here must be made regarding the foresight of the Labour Party though, for having the wherewithal to sell off the nursing homes 17 years ago in readiness for just such an eventuality. Now that’s vision for you!
As an aside, Labour have become the latest institution today to try and distance themselves from the B.L.M. movement, claiming that the “brave movement” has now been “hijacked”! Apparently it was hijacked last Monday by a group of masked men who demanded a full tank of fuel and to be taken to Afghanistan.
Sir Keir Starmer has told of his relief at the move though, claiming that the constant getting up and down off of his knee was playing absolute havoc with his arthritis.
Just after his midday nap – which lasted 4 days and 17 minutes – and having survived another 12 assassination attempts by his favourite pet dog, the North Korean leader Kim Jon-un has proudly informed the rest of the world this afternoon that his country had, “made a shining success”, in the constant battle against the Corona Virus, having had it shot at the border. Upon hearing the news, that lord of all he surveys with hindsight, Sir Keir Starmer, immediately fell to his knee again, although onto the left one this time to relieve some of the boredom, calling for an immediate enquiry and demanding to know of Boris Johnson why he hadn’t thought of this?
3rd July
The independent report into the Labour Party’s anti-semitism has been delayed again by their leadership. It will now be released to the gullible, sorry, to the public, just as soon as it independently reports what they tell it to independently report.
In other news, according to the experts on FaceBook who have successfully moved on from giving their expert opinions on dangerous diseases and the history of racism, Elvis Presley has been found alive and well and living in Skegness. They have also found the time to repost a thirty second film of a puppy terrier running around with its owner’s false teeth in its mouth. Aaah!
4th July
The pubs reopen just in time for payday, hurrah! And thanks, BoJo…
I may be gone a while as I try my best to support local businesses…
12th July
… I remember the pub re-opening, but after that it all becomes a bit of a blur, if I’m honest with you. I fear that a goat may have been involved somewhere along the line, and not in a good old fashioned Cornish Satan Sacrifice sort of way, either. If there are any photos in circulation please ignore them as that is not my best angle! And, also, my bum is not really that big. It’s just that the camera adds about 10lbs… so Lord knows how many cameras were on me at that precise moment?!
I really must get my haircut.
Bude is very busy, which is nice to see. The pubs are open and their gardens look to be full of happy people drinking and chatting and socialising, at arm’s distance of course, and happily being served by what I assume to be, behind those masks, rather attractive girls? Or boys in a dress?
I have found out that when I wear one of the masks I bought from Sainsburys’ my glasses steam up, which is extremely hazardous when I’m driving. Or walking. Or doing anything strenuous basically, and that involves breathing in any way. I tried to hold my breath, but surprisingly that turned out to be even worse, leaving me quite light-headed and giddy.
Later on in the day, to cut through the endless tedium before the arrival of The Chaser, I suddenly had something of an epiphany and decided that my new ambition in life is to become a pirate and live life on the open ocean… or Bude canal if I can get a permit. I quite like the idea of an eye patch – I think it’s a look that I can pull off at the moment, especially with my hair in its current state! – and drawing up a treasure map whilst drinking rum!
13th July
I have decided that my idea to become a pirate is idiotic. I had this new epiphany whilst being chased around Brook’s Garden Centre by their parrot, who wasn’t even called Polly. What is the bloody point?

Well done to Sky News this afternoon…

For its professionalism and total impartiality.
Their presenter was black. Every reporter on the ground in London was black. Every ‘expert’ it called upon and interviewed about the ongoing crisis was black. Furthermore, all of them, well apart from one, wanted every statue in London pulled down immediately: the other ‘expert’ wanted a plaque put on them all to inform the public of their racist views and detailing exactly how they made their money off the backs of the poor, so that the public could, and I quote, “make up our own minds”. He was, of course, immediately branded a fascist by the others and shot during the 4 o’clock bulletin.
The weather girl though, she was white: and very pretty she was too, even if she was forced to warn of high winds whilst on one knee.
One of the reporters, it was so hard to tell from behind his mask, but he reported that at least 200, ‘mainly white young men stinking of alcohol’, entered Hyde Park bent on confrontation and reeking havoc against the peace loving Antifa demonstrators who were holding a Bible class. Unfortunately, and despite the fact that he was obviously standing there with a fully operational camera crew, he had to admit that no footage of this event actually existed at that moment. But he swore, live on TV, that it was true because he had seen it all unfold… And I for one believe him because he interviewed a young girl in a rather dashing B.L.M. t-shirt who, luckily, just happened to be passing.
Thank you Sky News. Where will this country be in a few years without the integrity of both you and the B.B.C.?

A Murderous Stair Lift…

A Dangling Cat… And A Diving Pig

“Hello? Can you hear me? Hello…? Is there anyone there? Is this thing on…?
“Hello! Hang on a minute, I can’t hear a word you’re saying. I’ll have to turn my hearing aid up… Is that better? Hello?
‘All right love, there’s no need to shout.
“I wish to register a complaint… That’s right, a complaint… No, I’ll hold… Oh, Greensleeves. Very nice…
“Hello? At last. Is that the Complaints Department? No, I don’t want the Marketing Department, I wish to register a complaint… No, I don’t mind holding. Oh, Frank Sinatra. Nice change…
“Ah, good. Is that the Complaints Department? At last. I wish to register a complaint, if you’d be so kind. It’s about the Stair Lift your company sold me. The DX71, to be precise… What’s the problem? What’s the problem? Well, you may well ask. It flew up the stairs this morning and catapulted me out onto the landing floor… That’s right, the landing floor! Must have been doing, phew, God knows. But it was far too fast, I can tell you… Made me spill my Frosties, and I can get really touchy without my Frosties in the morning… They’re grrrreat…!
“You may well apologise profusely, young man, but that’s not going to cover up my carpet burns, is it? No, Siree. Most embarrassing, I can tell you. Especially the one on the tip of my nose. Glowing like a beacon, it is…
“What do you mean? Read the small print, indeed. I’ve looked, I can assure you, and it doesn’t mention dangerous speeds anywhere in the brochure, or a liability to catapult you from your seat…
“What do you mean, they can be temperamental? I would have thought twice about it if I’d known that! I’m just lucky that we don’t have a landing window like we did in our old house…
“Yes, I agree, the specially cushioned seat is indeed comfortable, I’ll give you that. I remember thinking to myself, ‘this specially cushioned seat is indeed comfortable, right up to the moment it threw me across the landing, but that’s not really the point, is it? Frankly, I could have been killed… No, I’ll hold. Ah, Greensleeves again. What happened to Ol’ Blue Eyes? Paul Anka wrote that song, you know…
“Hello… Ah, yes. As I was explaining to your young colleague… Forty-five? Really? He sounded a lot younger… A she? you say. Well, is my face red? Anyway, back to my complaint. As I was saying to your middle-aged, female colleague, I wish to register a complaint about your Stair Lift, the DX71? That’s right… Yes, I can quite clearly see why it’s been discontinued, the bloody thing’s quite obviously a bleeding death trap… What if my wife had been on it at the time, that’s what I want to know? Okay, she weighs seventeen stone admittedly, but even so… Are you laughing? Do you think this is funny, Miss? … Oh, sorry. Must be a bad line… I don’t care if someone has just sent you a hilarious e-mail of a cat dangling over a washing line. And it’s ‘An’ by the way, not ‘A’. As in ‘An’ hilarious e-mail. I bet you’re one of those youngsters who insists on shouting out ‘innit’, at the end of every bleeding sentence… No, that’s quite all right, I understand. The education system isn’t what it was. Bring back the birch, that’s what I say. Talking of funny things though, while we’re on the subject, I saw a fantastic programme the other night about a miraculous diving pig… On Sky Sports 1, I seem to recall and in ‘glorious high definition’, whatever the hell that means. Anyway, this miraculous pig could dive from a 25 metre board into a barrel… I know. It sounded like a load of old hogwash to me as well, but there you go. You should have seen the way it climbed that ladder. Hanging on for dear, dear life with its little trotters. And the bite it gave when someone pulled its tail. Anyhow, I don’t see what that has to do with my current predicament… No, I should think so too.
“As I was saying… What was I saying? Where was I? Who the hell am I…?
“Ah, yes, your company’s lethal stair lift. Not once did your engineer warn either myself, or my rather rotund wife that the chair would rocket us up the stairs at something approaching Mach 1… Thank you. I got it from Star Trek the other night. Have you seen it? Very good, but somewhat confusing. Anyway, where was I? Mach 1, that’s right. It shot me up the stairs at something approaching Mach 1, before coming to a surprisingly rather nifty and sudden halt, tipping me up and over just outside the bathroom… Yes, that’s right, just outside the bathroom! Arthritic limbs all over the place. I haven’t had carpet burns like this since I was at boarding school in the forties. It’s just a good job that I wasn’t wearing my dressing gown. And that I’d taken my teeth out for the day…
“No, I took them out to Bognor Regis. The weather was a bit cold, but… What type of cat was it anyway? On the washing line… Oh, not the tabby? You should see the picture of the tabby cat. Well, it’s a kitten really, to be honest with you, but very cute nonetheless…
“Yes, coming dear…
“No, I’ve mentioned that, dear…
“Yes, I’m just about to mention that now, dear. If you’d let me finish.
“Sorry, that was the wife. A tad upset, as you might imagine. She has asked me to tell you however, that just because we bought the item while it was in the January sales, reduced to £17.99 all inclusive, and while we understand that it came with a warning of possible flood damage to the electrics, we were, nevertheless, led to believe by your salesman, that the chair had had at least one satisfied owner who had not been thrown through a bathroom wall, and that it was still covered by a lifetime guarantee despite the blood stain and the tear to the cushioned arm… Ran out three weeks ago? Really? Oh…
“A broken pelvis, you say? Poor old dear.
“Uh, sweetie? The nice gentleman was just explaining to me that the previous owner received a broken pelvis, so I got off pretty lightly really, all things considered…
“Yes, very painful. But again, young man, I must say that that was never explained to us… On the twentieth, you say? And twice again on the twenty-seventh? Well, if you could see my face now… Beetroot.
“Probably better to go for the electric version next time, you say? Rather than the V6 petrol model? Well, that would account for the noise, wouldn’t it?
“I said, that that would probably account for the noise, dear! Sorry, the wife again. Deaf as a post she is… And ugly as sin…
“No dear. I said that that would work better if you plugged it in! I don’t suppose you can arrange for the chair lift to catapult her across the landing next time, could you? No, of course not. Wishful thinking on my part. Forget I said anything. Oh, hang on. Can you wait a minute? I seem to have a call waiting. I won’t be a minute…
“Hello? 241, 189… Oh, it’s still you. Sorry, let me try again… Hello. Hello? 241, 189? No? Still you? How the hell does this thing work?
“Hello… Bloody phone. You wait until I speak to Talk bloody Talk.
“Oh. They seem to have gone. Sorry about that. Now, where were we? Can I please order a large Meatball Extravaganza, with extra anchovies and a side dish of… Oh, of course. Silly me. The Chair Lift.
“I wish to register a complaint… No, I’ll hold. Oh, Greensleeves, that’s nice.”

Being ill, back in the good ole days. Part II

“And now,” a cheerful voice too breezily announced, “please put your hands together for our resident doctor…” struck from the medical register so that he could be with us today… A splattering of applause rattled through the studio, the promised doctor finally emerging from stage right, waving as he wandered towards the sofa, happily swinging a large stethoscope round and round in smooth hands and flicking back freshly sculptured hair. Unseen, during the kissing and slobbering over cheeks, he lightly brushed Barbie’s pert posterior, making her wince, jump and, after ten seconds of squirming, finally remember the importance of her false smile.
“He can make a house call to my nursing home any time.” The old and infirm were rowdy this afternoon.
“Thank you,” he mouthed, pearly white teeth dazzling camera seven, sending it careering out of control and crashing into Row B, killing and maiming the coach party from Brighton. They’d only been there for Norman Wisdom.
“Oh the humanity,” the announcer cried out pitifully. “But, never mind, on with the show.” It’s what they would have wanted.
“Meningitis!” the doctor said suddenly, summoning up all the sincerity he could muster at a moments notice and without his fake tan cracking, his new facelift noticeably straining under the almighty pressure, the surgeon waiting in the wings with his fingers crossed. But the crowd gasped, as rehearsed, for it sounded serious: this meningitis.
“What is it?” he asked.
“How the fuck do we know.” He was the fucking doctor!
“I have received hundreds of letters this week,” well, three actually, “all concerning the recent outbreak…” Outbreak? What bloody outbreak? “… Of this frightening and ever-so-slightly deadly disease.” He paused, for effect.
Deadly? Had he said deadly?
“To put your minds at ease…” too bloody late for that now! “you will see, racing along the bottom of your screen, at a speed far too fast for feeble minds to comprehend, the symptoms that we should all look out for… Look! There’s that handy tip for rashes.” And here the doctor smiled again, but just for camera two, the old and infirm in Row D swooning with a pleasure long forgotten.
“If you suspect that you have any of these symptoms, please contact your local G.P. as soon as possible. But remember, if caught early there is still hope. Leave it any later though…” He slowly shook his head.
Symptoms? What bloody symptoms? “Ben! Did you catch any of the symptoms?” Oh, what was the point of asking him? He was too busy licking the salad cream from my duvet, chasing his tail or searching for his missing balls.
I lay back on the sofa. Felt for a pulse.
Bloody hell, it was too late. I didn’t have one… Oh, hang on. There is it.
Had he said something about a rash? I could have sworn he mentioned something about a rash. “Would you call that a rash?” and I thrust my shoulder towards a retriever who really couldn’t care less, who merely growled at me, for it was his half-chewed wedge of cheese and gherkin sandwich now.
“And I feel faint, ‘with a persistent pain in my neck’.” It had all been there on the screen, and as large as life.
I had meningitis! It all made sense. But Ben carried on eating and slurping, nonplussed by the fact that I now lay dying in the front room, fighting for breath upon that sofa, from a disease I had barely heard of ten minutes ago, but now taking its all-too-rapid hold.
I diagnosed every single symptom that flashed across the bottom of the screen, and a few more besides. And all were arriving quickly, for death’s grip was tightening.
I had told them I was ill.
My memory was faltering, wandering. I was losing the ability to control my right leg. My left arm was shaking.
My temperature was fluctuating wildly now, ever since that symptom had been mentioned… And my memory was faltering.
I was finding it hard to breathe, just as the doctor had warned. He may have been smarmy but he was bloody good.
I was so weak. Calling out above the voices of doom that circled. Pleading for assistance, but receiving only sloppy licks from a grateful Golden Retriever now covered in crumbs and searching through the carpet about me. Did I really want that last crust?
I waited for death. The rash visibly spreading. Oh, woe is me. Damn Death’s cold, cold touch!
“And now, unwanted pregnancies.” I pricked up my ears. “Don’t be afraid, for you are not alone.” I bloody well was. “Times have changed and help is at hand for all you who maybe find it hard, if not impossible, to keep your legs in their altogether pose.” And yet another long list of hellish symptoms fell down the screen, closely followed by a collection of telephone numbers and addresses; of back alleys where old ladies with crooked knitting needles and a large bottle of strong gin would be found, quietly and patiently awaiting a “confidential” visit.
“Look. There’s that handy tip for rashes again.”
I read all these symptoms… And it was far worse than I could have ever imagined.
“I’m fucking pregnant!”
Mum was going to kill me.
Could today get any bloody worse?
It was all becoming too much, the room spinning as I prayed to God, fell to my knees – my swelling knees – and begged for forgiveness, His mercy and His deliverance. I forgave Him for the non-delivery of my bike at Christmas… and then remembered that that had been Santa. An easy mistake.
I cursed these so-called experts who had ignored my agonies, putting my sudden weight problem down to glutinous eating and a lack of any meaningful exercise. “Well who was the lazy bastard now?” I screamed.
But meningitis and pregnancy, in one day. What were the odds?
This would teach them. This would teach them all.
But, hang on. How could I be pregnant? Don’t you have to have had…
Bloody Nora! There had been that star outside my window…

Mum insisted that I was fine, come the third day. That no amount of exaggerated coughing or splurging or spluttering, no forced groaning or dramatic fainting, and definitely no breathless panting, was going to change her mind.
I was not under threat of Leukemia, she told me, feeling my pulse. And no! she reiterated sternly, taking my temperature – orally at last – I was definitely not pregnant. It was a pity though, because she so desperately wanted grandchildren… Plus we could have made a fortune.
She was a hard woman sometimes, my mother. She even packed my bag and dragged me to the bottom of our drive, careful to negotiate the growing mounds of rubble and the uneasy piles of stacked building blocks, just to ensure that I made it to the bus without any sudden relapse. And Ben was at her side, ever faithful, snarling and snapping at my heels whenever I dawdled. And after all those crusts I thought we’d bonded over.
They waved me off with a fond farewell and a rather too enthusiastic “good riddance”, and I kicked my bag along the aisle to the back seat, the other passengers shaking their heads with old-timer’s disdain.
“The fucking youth of today!” Bring back the birch and conscription. It never did them any harm.

Taken from: “The Reluctant Country Boy”

Being ill, back in the good ole days. Part I

I wheezed. The back of a hand pressed against a sweaty brow.
Was this it? Was this how it finally ended? Ebbing away, clammy and uncomfortable?
My voice, a croak. My throat burning at every attempt at a swallow. It was dark. So very, very dark…
I called out. Tossed and turned, adding a very occasional groan of discomfort, accompanied by a lung-wrenching cough just for good measure. Reminding me that I couldn’t half do with a cigarette, the agonising symptoms of withdrawal beginning to kick in.
“The darkness,” I whispered, a shaking arm outstretched in welcome. “It draws ever closer.”
“Stop being so melodramatic!”
“And yet,” I continued, ignoring the appeals of my doubt-filled mother, “it is strangely comforting, strangely reassuring… Don’t cry for me,” I begged of her, relieving her of the burden, reluctantly trying to sip the water that stung my chapped lips. For it was a far, far better place that I go to now… I opened my eyes to discover that my mother had long since departed. Well, wasn’t that just typical? Here I am, thrashing about on my death bed and she’d buggered off to make sure that my brother had cleaned his teeth properly and packed his homework.
Mum had looked at me closely, rather too closely, the suspicious… She had taken my temperature forcefully, carefully studied the very back of my throat, pushing my head back and yanking my mouth open.
“Say, ah.”
If I could swallow this, she confidently predicted, preparing a third spoonful of foul medicine – pouring the frothing liquid from its plastic bottle in the most secure and protective of conditions whilst masked and gloved – then I must be ill. I could tell by her naturally suspicious manner that she was not wholly convinced; the way she peered at me from the corner of an eye; the searching questions expertly posed; the intrusive cavity search she insisted on giving.
“Stay in bed and keep yourself warm. I’ll phone the school. Let them know that you won’t be in today.” But so help me if you’re playacting! her tightly pursed eyes warned.
I smiled weakly. “Okay,” I said with difficulty. But only if she was absolutely sure, and I pulled the duvet up under my chin, mumbling a promise to keep those gathering clouds at bay as best I could. Slowly closing my eyes and listening for the telltale click of the bedroom door being pulled to.
Counting, with eyes still firmly clamped shut.
Four, five, six, seven…
Mum shoulder-barging her way back into my bedroom on cue. “A-ha!” at the top of her voice. The words, “I might have known,” hanging in mid-air.
She sounded a little disappointed with her, “oh”. She looked embarrassed at finding me still wrapped up tightly in bed, with the duvet still pulled up to my chin.
“Mum?” Blinking through the perpetual darkness. “Mum? Is that you?” I coughed up something very foul. Something thick, green. Something that shied away from the light. But I had to be careful not to smirk as she gently wiped at my fevered brow, so very “clammy” against the back of her hand. At her regret and sudden pangs of shame. At the guilt that came from doubting her son, her obviously very ill son. And so began the arduous task of tucking me in again. The tutting as she forced my arms back under the warm covers with a crack, cutting off all circulation beneath my neck.
Her little soldier. How could she have ever doubted her little soldier?
“What kind of mother am I?” she asked, putting the door back on its hinges before bidding me a tearful farewell, wondering silently if I would make it through the coming day?
“My little boy,” she mumbled to my father. “My poor, poor seriously ill baby. At death’s door.” And she pounded the flimsy walls and wailed from the top of her voice. “How could we have ever doubted him?”
By the front door she pecked Dad on the cheek and leant down to stroke Ben behind a floppy ear, his back leg beginning to twitch as she paused at his favourite spot.
“Watch him,” she whispered. “Watch the little sod like a hawk.”
I ate my sandwiches lounging along the sofa, occasionally brushing away the fallen crumbs and licking up the misplaced dollops of salad cream that added more stains to my duvet.
I fed the crusts to Ben by way of bribery, the golden bundle of fur loyally sitting beside me and watching the telly while dribbling over the new carpet and salivating wantonly at my thick chunks of cheese, at the slice of ham dangling from a corner of a mighty white doorstopper. Was I really going to eat all that?
A blondish woman, caked in layers of make-up and shining beneath the lights, roughly beat two screaming eggs to death in a spotless saucepan while talking hurriedly at a camera: at housewives, now turning on and tuning in as an awful green coloured concoction was poured into a dish and pushed into a never-before-used oven, “on gas mark seven”.
“Leave it to simmer in its own juices for twenty minutes,” the programme’s resident cook patronisingly explained, leaning in with a forced smile across her weather-beaten face. “Twenty minutes mind,” she repeated with a northern twang, and seemingly for my benefit. Any longer and a certain, painful, lingering death from something called Salmonella would surely follow: “For which neither I nor the B.B.C. can be held fully responsible.” And she smiled a sickly sweet smile, before quickly plugging her brand new book, “now available in all good bookshops… And a couple of shit ones too.” Members of the captive audience were shocked into a response, until the sign demanding they, “Applaud. Now!” was finally switched off with a heavy clank. And the tall blond Barbie with the perfect teeth flashed through an uneasy smile, thanked the chef again, nervously, for the top of her large white hat was now well ablaze. But it was time to go back outside for another brief weather report; Barbie remembering to smile on cue, deciding at the very last moment to curtsey, totally unrehearsed, momentarily losing her balance and falling across the sofa, inadvertently flashing her knickers. But with every day, and in every way, she was getting better and better, the producer had reassured her last night, in bed, gratefully. His words of comfort whispered while she was otherwise preoccupied.
“My wife doesn’t understand me.”
It was still raining, a joyless weatherman confirmed, his brolly blown inside out despite his best efforts. But all was okay, because a dotty old bag “from Merseyside”, had knitted him another stupid pullover that he now had to model while grinning inanely. How many did he have now? Every single one of the fucking things featuring fluffy clouds, bright yellow suns and flashes of bloody lightning! Oh for access to a gun!
God, he was pissed off. Soaking sodding wet and thoroughly pissed off!
Please, he begged any lord above, just one bolt. That was all it’d take. One lousy, misplaced bolt of lightning and his nightmare would be over.
“Horace!” he screamed at me from the screen. “Let this be a lesson to you, Horace. Try at school, or you too will end up like this. Dressed like this.”
“And now, back to the studio.” He smiled. Silently though, deep down, he was planning to slaughter us all.

“Paul Quits The Beatles”

Fifty years ago today, the 10th April 1970, newspapers across the world would run a story that would effectively bring the curtain down on the swinging 60s once and for all, and pronounce the end of the “Fab Four”, the band from Liverpool that had stomped and twisted and smiled their way out of The Cavern music club to conquer the world and single-handedly reinvent the genre of pop music.
“PAUL QUITS THE BEATLES”, the Daily Mirror’s headline screamed from its front page that morning, adding in the byline below that Paul McCartney was, “deeply cut up”, following what he called, a “policy row”. And so, in what seems now to be a rather anti-climatic headline for a tabloid, that was it, revealed to be all over in just four little words. The Beatles, the band that was quipped to be more popular than Jesus, was no more, and the world was left totally stunned and heartbroken.
Was it really all over, just like that?
Of course, we know now that The Beatles had effectively been finished since early 1969, and to all intents and purposes since their last performance together on the roof of the Apple Corp building in London, where they performed songs to workers rushing about on their lunch breaks, ending with a powerful rendition of Get Back, before the police finally arrived and the plug was unceremoniously pulled.
“I hope we’ve passed the audition?” Lennon joked before heading for the exit, quite literally.
Ever since the release of The White Album in 1968, there had been strong, persistent rumours of major splits within the band, and especially, worryingly, and despite all the usual “strenuous denials” from the record company and PR agencies, between Lennon and McCartney themselves, who, it was said, could now barley stand to be in the same room with each other. It was also said that George Harrison was growing evermore frustrated and bitter that his songs weren’t being taken seriously enough, that they weren’t being considered for inclusion on the band’s albums, with Lennon harshly dismissing them out of hand as simply, “not good enough”, despite the fact that George had been the first of the four to have had a solo release in 1968 with the critically well-received LP, Wonderwall Music. In his defence though, Lennon did have more pressing problems to deal with personally, including an increasingly troubling addiction to heroin that was threatening his mental stability already fragile due to the incessant demands from the all-encompassing business The Beatles had become since the death of their manager and mentor Brian Epstein, a loss that had left the four bandmates utterly devastated and leaderless, and that exposed their complete lack of business experience and knowledge, whilst adding overwhelming pressure to an already insanely hectic schedule.
Paul was suddenly thrust to the fore, installed as the band’s unofficial leader, with Lennon, sometimes begrudgingly, admitting in many future interviews that they could quite easily have split there and then if it had not been for his efforts during that time. Eventually though, and perhaps inevitably according to McCartney, this decision was to lead ultimately to the band’s break up later, as both Lennon and Harrison were said to be growing evermore suspicious that he was concentrating more on launching his own solo career.
During the recording of The White Album, Lennon had become increasingly vocal, wanting the band to be braver, to be more experimental and influential and to at least attempt to reclaim some of the ground of originality lost to bands like Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. The tension was increased further still by the constant presence of Yoko Ono, sitting between them all like some kind of spectre and, apparently, overseeing everything on John’s behalf, even to the point of suggesting ideas that she felt would enhance the band’s sound. It was becoming increasingly obvious to insiders that the frustrations and divisions now within the band were rapidly widening, and that the suspicion and distrust was now threatening to boil to the surface, so much so that on the album’s release the four of them were refusing to carry out interviews together.
Despite these feelings of disillusionment, and the heated rows of artistic differences, John was persuaded, reluctantly, to remain silent about his desire to leave. At least for the moment. By his own admission, he was persuaded, “to just play along”, largely due to the upcoming release of both the film and LP for, Let It Be, the success of which was now crucial to aid the struggling Apple Corporation that was, by 1969, in serious financial trouble and on the verge of imploding. Again it was Lennon who was perhaps the most vocal in his criticism at the running of the company, rapidly losing faith with those McCartney had employed to run the business and recruiting outside help himself to manage and control his own interests, even those within the band, a decision that would lead to a long war of words in both print and song, and further add to all the hurt that was festering and growing, but which, thankfully, had begun to thaw in the years leading up to Lennon’s untimely death in 1980.
But still, little over a year on from that rooftop performance overlooking a busy London street, and seemingly quite unintentionally, the announcement that it was really all over was to come in the form of a simple Question and Answer press release, handed out to the gathered press to announce the forthcoming release of Paul McCartney’s first solo LP, self-titled, “McCartney”.
The 60s, and its amazing journey, was finally over.


… I decided to give myself the day off.

I thought that I’d just kick about the house for a while. Try and grow a beard.

Keep safe, guys.


PS. If you’re in G.B., remember at 8 o-clock tonight, and every Thursday for the foreseeable future, to lean out of your window and to clap and cheer or holler to show your appreciation to all our wonderful emergency workers and “key” workers, working diligently throughout this troubling time to keep us safe and well and well provided for; the nurses and doctors; police officers; the postmen and women; the dustmen; the drivers delivering food and medicines; the soldiers, sailors and air force guys and gals. Keep safe and God speed, as they say.

See you all on the other side.


Breaking news…

Almost 3 months after the general election, Jeremy Corbyn has today revealed that the Labour Party has now refused to accept the result.
“People didn’t know what they were voting for,” the outgoing Labour leader insisted angrily at a press conference held in a phone box somewhere just north of Redditch. “Our policies were popular with the voter and, quite clearly, the best, so there,” he went on to claim, blowing a raspberry at the gathered news crews, just moments before he was finally apprehended by Sir Keir Starmer, with the expert use of an overly large butterfly net and a big bag of Werther’s Originals, and then quickly returned to his nursing home for old or nearly retired politicians.
“Those we met whilst out on the campaign trail,” Rebecca Come-Shortly later confirmed, “and especially those not sniggering behind our backs or calling us delusional, all five of them said that our policies were the fairest for the good of our country, even if they didn’t understand them, or had even bothered to read them. Furthermore, all the voters in the Sedgefield constituency promised me faithfully, even crossing their hearts and hoping to die, that they would vote for them all… Before promptly voting for the bloody Tories as soon as my back was turned!”
There was some good news for the Labour Party today however, when Diane Abbott confirmed that she would indeed be running for the vacant position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, explaining that it had taken her this long to enter the race due to the fact that she couldn’t fill out the application form properly with her original choice of thick crayon. “This bloody thing seems to be dragging on forever,” Miss Abbott revealed to reporters. “Wars have been won in less time.”

And now, over to our weather desk.

“Well, it’s all under water, isn’t it? I mean look at it. Water, water everywhere… And a really strong gust of wind there, but that may have been the Balti I had last night so I apologise. Basically, we need a new ark.”