Friday, 25 December 2009

The Alternate Christmas Message

Well, it’s another wordzzle holiday this week, so Maggie will be back next Friday with more misdemeanours, but in the meantime it’s become a sort of traditional thing here to post an little story or fact on Christmas Day, so those of you who doze through the Queen’s speech can have something else to enjoy over your Christmas pudding.

This year I’ve gone and used the inspirational story I was going to tell you already, so as Christmas is the time of bad jokes I’m bringing you a short joke. Apologies for this in advance, the joke originates from a British Sign Language video and Deaf jokes are, frankly, rubbish. Have a great Christmas


It’s midnight on Christmas Eve and a man walks out of a pub. He is very drunk and desperately in need of a pee, but the queue for the toilets was far too long: so he heads out into the street and, being a bit worse for wear, finds a sign post on a street corner to relieve himself against.

Whilst he is standing there a large van (the type used by furniture movers) chugs slowly around the corner and stops immediately outside a jewellers shop. Even in his drunken state the man realises that there is something slightly off about a van making deliveries at midnight on Christmas Eve, so he tucks his manhood back away and watches as the driver of the van gets out, checks the street and goes to the back of the van.

Slowly the van door is pushed upwards and a ramp lowers, allowing an elephant to come out. The man leads the elephant to the jewellers shop and the large animal swings its trunk, shattering the glass. The man bags up the jewels from the display, puts the elephant into the back of the truck and drives off.
Our friend the drunk has sobered slightly at the sight of this, sufficiently for him to get his mobile phone out and call the police. He describes what he has just seen. Initially the police are suspicious

‘You’re taking the piss’ the desk sergeant says
‘No, seriously: I saw it!’
The sergeant sighs with the air of a man who has now heard it all, ‘OK – what colour was the van?’
‘I’m not sure, it was dark’
‘Did you get the licence plate?’
‘No’ says the drunk
The sergeant, quickly tiring of his useless witness sighs again, ‘OK – well what type of elephant was it?’
‘How many types are there?’ asks the drunk
‘Two’ says the policeman, ‘African and Indian: the African has large ears’
‘Oh’ says the man, ‘well, in that case I couldn’t tell’
‘Oh come off it’ the Policeman says, ‘it can’t have been that dark that you couldn’t see how big the elephant’s ears were?’
‘No’ agrees the man, ‘but the elephant was wearing a balaclava’


Thanks to everyone who has visited us pixies in 2009 - i'm sorry it hasn't always been possible to return the favour. Here's to a great 2010 for all. Peace, goodwill and success to all

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Rage Against The Machine?

Yesterday, and with only four days to Christmas, I saw the news that Facebook group Rage Against The X-Factor had been successful in keeping Simon Cowell’s latest Enfant Terrible from the Christmas Number One slot, having supplanted it with a song that contains more swear words than the Bible contains begats, by a band (Rage Against The Machine) that were past their sell by date some years previous.

Having sat through the X Factor final (an experience best described as having someone shove warm wax up your nostrils for two hours whilst someone applies a cheese grater to your brain) I have to say that I’m in two minds about this. Part of me thinks it’s a bit of a shame for (winner) Joe McElderry: after all he’s just after a slice of the old Fame Pie that everyone seems to want to bite these days and it’s not like his chances of a long music career are particularly great as they are.
Despite all the hype put forward by the judges McElderry was the clear winner over six weeks ago. After all television has taught us that people over 25 can’t possibly have anything relevant to say (so that was that category off) and can only be seen on Serious Programmes (and not always even then – the last time I switched on the news the presenter was barely out of her school uniform) and a band has never won the show (despite the fact that JLS and G4 should clearly have won during their years), so that only left the girls and little Joe who (lets face it) was young, pretty and could sing a bit.

Even so – we all know from past experience that should his first album not sell by the bucket load Joe will swiftly be cast aside by the corporate SyCo Machine – so the winners song was probably his best hope of getting that all important slice of fame. Gone are the days when a record label would support an up and coming band for a couple of albums, giving them time to grow to their potential: now it’s all about the instant success and making that big buck.

After all: fame is all that matters now. It has (arguably) replaced religion as the opium of the masses – just look to the TV talent shows if you don’t believe me and just watch all the self-deluded entrants desperate for their fifteen minutes. I seem to remember that when I was a kid you had to have to have a talent or skill for something to be famous, to have achieved something and recognised for that fact: now it seems sufficient to be famous and it doesn’t matter why.

Take a look at Amy Winehouse. Back To Black was a perfectly good album in a kind of sub Dusty Springfield way, but it’s her boozing and on/off relationship with her husband that she’s more famous for: and all those sad wannabies on the X Factor? Well, if they’re truly awful then they will have a career for a couple of years as a novelty act and then it will be back to their job in B&Q/Asda/instert dead end job of your choice here.

And of course part of me thinks that there’s something wrong in having a song full of swearing as Christmas number one. I mean, have we forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? (Selling expensive toys that go “Bing!” in case you were wondering – I once told a friend that I didn’t really celebrate Christmas because I wasn’t religious and they asked, in all honesty, “well, what has that got to do with it?”. I dunno – Christ-mass, ring any bells? Nope?)

But then the other side of me thinks its something of a coup. I mean there I was thinking that music had lost all meaning and passion: and here we are rebelling against the system. Raging Against The Machine (so to speak)

Music (at least rock and pop music) owes much of its groundings to rebellion and change. That’s why it was so important in the sixties and seventies – even into the eighties. Here was a young generation freed from forty years of near constant war and recession with a whole new set of liberties to explore – and explore them they did.

But the truth is that it could only last so long. Eventually the new found freedoms become second nature and, fuelled by the explosion of the Community Of Me Me Me, it inevitably became about the success and the money – and with nothing left to rebel against the fires died down a little. It’s hard to imagine it now but in the summer of 1977 with endless strikes, high unemployment and the cold war it really did feel like there was no future, but then came the booms of the 80s...

So seeing a bunch of people get together and care enough about music to stop some computer-written soulless song from getting to the number one slot renews my faith slightly in the passion of music and gives me hope that we still care. Music can touch us all more efficiently than almost any other form of media and it’s good to see that its still true today.

But surely there are more important battles to be fighting? Shouldn’t we be forming Facebooks to oust Gordon Brown from power? Shouldn’t we be campaigning for an end to poverty, child abuse or to stop Santa from superheating the planet as he whizzes around the globe at light speed and causes global warming?

But then Global Warming doesn’t have its own TV show, Save The Whale never released a video with Madonna and the Bengal Tiger doesn’t allow people to compete to be a part of its rich Hollywood lifestyle.

If only the Dodo had thought to become famous before it became extinct...

Friday, 18 December 2009

Wordzzle 93:

Well, Maggie is back again with her journey and this week a quick re-cap of the story so far:

Margaret Mills, a semi-retired Bed & Breakfast/Hotel Manager is making the journey from John O Groats to Lands End on a mobility scooter – it has yet to be established what the eventual purpose of this journey is.

Along the way she communicates with her friend and employee Bernard “Spud” Maris, a youth of no fixed ability who has an on/off relationship with Denise the cheerleader and whose best friend Tosser is a known criminal.

Maggie is wanted for questioning by the Police in relation to something that has yet to be revealed, but is now additionally wanted for questioning relating to wanton destruction of property (namely a display of Harry Potter Audio Books), two counts of assault on a prominent marine biologist (looking for turtles), leaving several hotel bills unpaid and other minor speeding offences. Just prior to beginning her journey Margaret (or Mags) was seen in a prominent night club accepting a container containing a strange grey powder from Tosser…

Her journey has aroused much media and internet interest and resulted in the formation of the Margaret Mills Liberation Front – a facebook group resolved to helping her complete her journey via dressing up as elderly ladies and causing public disturbances.

For rules and to play along please visit the ever amazing Raven (loved those ice pictures btw) at

An additional point for oversees readers: Spaghetti Junction is a famous junction on the M6 motorway outside Birmingham where the roads criss-cross in numerous directions. It is so call because, well…it looks a bit like Spaghetti…

Words this week were:
spaghetti, woe is me, mythology, avarice, windy, pathetic, paper towels, water, all my children, books

And: best deals of the week, Nobel Peace Prize, sleep deprived, cauliflower, practice

Walsall – Cirencester, (74.5 miles)

Dear Spud

Well the bloody weather ain’t getting no better. This week it were trying to snow Thursday and Friday: so what with that and it being so windy I feel like I’ve been blown right across the country.

Well I’ve been all through the midlands this week. Remember when I called on Tuesday and told you about the incident with the paper towels in Bromsgrove? Well the cistern overflowed and the bathroom were all covered in water, so I tried me best to mop it up but ended up blocking the toilet instead. Well – that were just the start of the problems in that hotel. I don’t know what their head chef were thinking when he made the cauliflower sauce but the only thing it were good for was mending the hole in the spare wheel on me scooter.

Of course that happened whilst I were on the Birmingham Road towards Droitwich and I were right disappointed as I went through the area not to see Spaghetti Junction, but there’s no way I’ll be feeling sleep deprived over it.

Then I moved on to Cheltenham by Wednesday and went to the races. I didn’t have much luck: put a fiver on “All My Children” which were a ten-to-one outsider, but it turned out to be a bit pathetic and came in last.

The Hotel were nice though, though I got the idea that they were offering more than just the usual type of service. Whatever those young ladies outside were charging they must have been the best deals of the week, coz the place were full of young lads looking embarrassed.

Anyway, I finally arrived in Cirencester this morning and the Corinium Museum were right interesting. Had a special section amongst all them Roman artefacts where they told you all about mythology. Did you know they thought the sky were bronze not blue? Bloody interesting. I bought you and Tosser some books on it: course, we’ll have to teach Tosser to read first…

I took a quick trip to the amphitheatre, but it were trying to snow and there were this tour guide who wanted fifty quid for the pleasure of telling me about it. Well, talk about avarice! Whoever solves the problem of rip-off merchants like him should get a Nobel Peace Prize if you ask me.

I’ll try and call you during the week if I can find a plug socket to charge me mobile – maybe wish you a merry Christmas from wherever I am by then




Abit worrd abt Tosser. E was supposd 2 do a gig with his band “Woe Is Me”, but e never turnd up 4 practice.

Do u think he’s dun a runner?

PS: Denise is doin a special Xmas pud 4u. Will save u sum if we cant meet.


Monday, 14 December 2009

The Invisible Man

Christmas lights reflect off the bonnets of the parked cars, making them shine. It's dark and cold outside, but the heat from the car keeps me warm.

I'm waiting for the lights to change and listening to 21st Century Breakdown (general opinion: tries to hard to be something it isn't, but a good effort nonetheless. 7 out of 10 could do better). Despite the fact that it's nearly Christmas there's almost nobody about.

I'm only half-listening to the music: thinking about the giant holding cell that has become my life for the last 6 weeks. No change that - for the last year since we got the news about the end of the contract. Since that my ever increasing phrase of the day has been "When I know for sure about my job I'll..."

What? Go on a cruise? Get all the stuff sorted in my house? Study for a degree? There's so much I want to do and none of it seems to get any nearer.

Sometimes in life you can find yourself permanently waiting for that traffic light to change - for that opportunity to arrive. Truth is that I should get out there and make it happen: but I probably never will.

So what's been good about the past six weeks? Well I wrote a novel. It felt good to do something creative, to put something out there again. For so long I've been holding myself back because I'd lost my belief in my ability - you must know how it feels: you work long and hard on something and when its done a few people may look at it and grunt before it gets put in a box, but that's it...I mean what's the point? The very purpose of a novel is to be read, and a painting must be displayed.

So what's the point of me?

The lights change and I drive to the school where my partner is teaching. There's still ten minutes before the end of her class, so I look at the artwork on the walls and decide that some of it is just too damned good. There's a wall just outside the classroom where they've put up a picture of all the teachers in the school and I scan down it, noticing a few blank spaces where no picture has been supplied.

Being me I decide that the teachers involved were Invisible and spend a few minutes wondering how one puts that on one's application form and whether invisibility is covered in equal opportunities legislation. I think back to my own school days: I guess I was just average - which is the worst thing to be at school. If you're smart you stand out and all the teachers want you in their class so that they look good - if you're stupid and mess about then everyone knows you and you get all the attention in the world. If you're average you either get told how stupid and useles you are or you just slip through the cracks, unnoticed


But as I reach the bottom layer of the pictures I see a familiar face - it's one of the Art teachers who taught me when I was a kid: still going strong. Not the teacher who couldn't be bothered to enter me for my exams because of the paperwork, not the one that was only interested in his A level students: the other one.

The one who I only had for about one term.

The one who didn't care how good or bad you were as long as you tried and expressed yourself.

Maybe he was right: maybe the important thing is just to try...and maybe you might succeed along the way?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Wordzlle 92

Welcome back again for more of Maggie’s particular brand of mayhem, as we join in the fun that is Wordzlle. My apologies again for my infrequent responses and return visits. It’s been six weeks now and I still don’t know anything more than a tea leaf knows about the history of the Typhoo Tea company.

For those of you new to the game please visit the ever wonderful Raven at

For those of you who don’t know already semi-retired Hotel Manager Margaret Mills is making the journey from John O’Groats to Lands End on a mobility scooter for reasons yet to be given. She is wanted for questioning by the Police for reasons unknown and is prone to causing havoc wherever she goes.

This week provided some interesting challenges and features the return of someone we met a few weeks ago…

Words and phrases for the challenge this week:
sugar, mortgage, logical, roller skates, outlandish, Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, cumberbund, unexpected, photo album, scarecrow

And for the mini: tomatoes, turtles, basement apartment, circumference, make my dayWeek Manchester – Walsall (85 miles),



Newsreader: …with a circumference the size of a bowl of petunias.

In other news this week there was a mass demonstration outside Number 10 Downing Street by the members of the Margaret Mills Liberation Front.

Mr Derek Kinkade, President of the MMLF later gave a statement from his basement apartment, saying “I wish they’d leave the poor old dear alone, I’m sure it can all be explained over a lovely cup of tea…


Dear Spud

Well Manchester were just as bloody grim as I remember it: all full of moping students out trying to find some miserable bugger called Morrissey. Aparently he were a singer, but I’m buggered if I know who the hell he were. Anyway: I had to see one of the youths off with me collapsing zimmer frame after he collided with me mobility scooter. The daft bugger were out on roller skates: first time I’ve seen them since the 1980s. I tried my best Dirty Harry impression on him, givin him my “go ahead punk, make my day” expression, but he turned and rolled away.

Still I were swiftly out of Manchester and into Congleton, which is in Cheshire where the cheese came from. There were a lovely market in the centre and someone told me that it were where airbags are made. Would you believe it? Don’t seem right logical somehow. Still, there were a bit of a misunderstanding on the outskirts of Congleton, on account of the fact that I reversed my mobility scooter into what I thought were a fallen scarecrow, only it turned out to be that scientist what I met in Scotland. You know – the one who were looking for turtles? Seems he didn’t find any turtles in the Loch’s and had moved south to help with an ongoing study into the lifecycle of tomatoes – whatever the hell that means.

Anyway, I apologised as best I could for the tyre marks up his leather jacket, only I could tell he weren’t best pleased and left him too it.

Then I had a bit of a set-back outside Stoke-on-Trent, on account of the fact that me motor went in the scooter and I were forced to hitch a lift with a travelling magician. Professor Klump and The Amazing Asparagus or something like that. He were dressed right smart though, with a full tuxedo and cumberbund (although I had to ask him what he were wearing a girdle for before he explained). It were all a bit outlandish if you ask me, but that weren’t the worst bit by a mile.

See, he had this bleeding parrot: Asparagus (hence the name of the act) – only as it’s coming up to Christmas he’s been teaching it festive phrases and it kept yelling “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” the whole bleeding way until I were right ready to chuck it out the window. Anyway, he took me into Rugeley and I got the motor repaired and replaced and whilst I were waiting he showed me his photo album with all the famous people what he’s met down the years. It were right interesting and no mistake.




Tosser blockd the drain Mon, sed e woz pourin sum sugar away, but I don’t belief im

PS me n Denise are back 2gethr. unexpectd, but am glad. Do u think’s 2 early 2 get mortage?


Friday, 4 December 2009

Wordszzle 91

Well, Maggie’s back this week after her break, and as you might have guessed she’s been a busy lady. Those of you who know that I was taking part in Nanowrimo will be glad to know that I finished “The Benefit” with time to spare in 55,000 words (yay me). DFTP competition winners Raven and Dr John had characters named after them and I am now back to struggling with my fantasy novel (which is proving hard going for some reason)

OK: so for those of you who don’t know the rules please click on the link to Raven’s Views

Words this week are:
10-word challenge: edge, haven, sunglasses, sprightly, telling, frazzled, juicy, quartet, tied, necklace

And for the mini: bees, crackling, wooden, staple, earful

Weeks 7-8, Carlisle – Manchester

Dear Spud

Well I’ll say one thing for the British weather: when it rains it bloody well rains. I couldn’t believe the weather last week – it were so wet that all me notepaper were ruined, which were why I weren’t able to send you a letter. In the end I had to pop into one of those hiking shops and buy a bloody great big waterproof: only it caught the wind and nearly bloody pulled me off a cliff before I was able to get some tent pegs and tied it to the handles of me collapsing zimmer frame. I were right frazzled by the experience.

That were in Penrith last week, you know – the day you rang about the bees having got into the mattress in number seven. I can understand how Mrs Bryce were upset and gave you an earful: I know I wouldn’t be best pleased if I got up in the morning, went to put on me necklace and ended up spending four hours in outpatients with me hand in a jar of Vaseline. You’d best give her money back and tell Tosser to have a word with Mr Kemp next door about his apiary.

Anyway – I took a bit of a diversion after Penrith and went to Kendal in the Lake District. Me and Norman used to have some lovely holidays there – only I see that they now have a shop selling Kendall Mint Cake which they never used to have. Full of sugar it is, but it must be good as it were the staple food of Edmund Hillary when he went up Everest, so I guess it must be ok.

So the weather were that bad that I didn’t get very far the next few days, but it were nowt compared to what I found in Morecambe. Honestly: it used to be a nice quiet place full of sailors with wooden legs and sprightly pensioners with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads and kiss-me-quick sunglasses: only now there’s one of them Haven holiday resorts at the edge of town, so the place is full of families and teenagers. Not my sort of thing at all.

Then this week there were the incident in Preston: I were trying to order some food from room services, but there were so much crackling on the line that I ended up with a bloody Russian ambassador and a string quartet in me room instead of the bacon sandwich I were expecting. That took a lot of explaining to the hotel manager and I weren’t too happy when he tried to charge me extra.

Anyway: I’m in Manchester now – so there’s no telling what might happen to me now




Erd sum juicy gossip abt Mr Kemp with the bees

Tosser recons he saw im hangin about on Trinity St looking for drugs.

Ow wud Tosser know if sum1 was looking 2 buy drugs?