Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Every Picture Tells A Story

In twenty years of marriage they had never exchanged an angry word.

The occasional cross sentence, yes. Frequent angry paragraphs, perhaps: the semi-regular educational pamphlets on painful bodily insertions it was true. But an angry word: never

That was until she came back from the portrait sessions pregnant, which at least explained the unusual smile that the artist had captured.

At first he had put it down to a particularly odd batch of mushroom soup that they had found in a small takeaway in Little Italy and it was true that they had both been bloated and shapeless for a couple of weeks after and it was many months before the magical tap-dancing aardvarks stopped appearing to him every night, but eventually it had to be conceded, no matter how charitable he might be, that his wife was well and truly, to put it in common parlance, “up the duff”

This considering that they had long ago decided that the key to a happy relationship, sans angry words, was separate rooms at opposite ends of a very large house: was something of a revelation

The artist, of course, denied everything: pretending to be in love with some chap called David until it was pointed out to him that he was a painter and not a sculptor. One spectator to the event would later claim that the language in the small enclosure of the artist’s rooms had been enough to turn the cheeks of even the coarsest sailor bright pink, but the fact remained that he was now forced to live with a painting that would forever show his wife in mid-term with someone else’s child.

Of course he would never have admitted that the child was anyone else’s but his, not even with one hand tied behind his back, but he took solace in one tiny fact

‘There is a tiny happy ending’ he said to his wife, sometime after the painting was complete, ‘the painting is somewhat small, and you have a funny smile: I doubt very much that anyone will ever want to look at it”

Thursday, 24 March 2011

None Of The Above

This is based on a speech that I did last night at the first round (club level) of the International Speech Competition - the eventual winner of which competes in Las Vegas.  A speech, I should add, that failed to place in the competition. 

"Any person capable of getting themselves into a position of power is, by very dint of that fact, the absolute last person you should allow to be there"

Competition Chair, fellow Toastmasters, most welcome guests

Is it just me or are Politician's getting more similar all the time?  Think back to the 70s and 80s: the era of Thatcher, Kinnock, Hesseltine, Foot: you may not have liked these people, but you knew who they were and you pretty much knew what they stood for.

Today we have Cameron, Clegg, Milliband: three men who look like they all stepped out of the same cloning machine. They're all so busy trying to hog the middle ground that there can't be any space left.

All over the world in developing countries people travel for miles for the right to take place in a free election: often at great risk to their lives: yet here in the UK only about 60 per cent of the population regularly vote.

How many of you voted in the last election?  How many of those of you that voted really took the time to read the party manifesto and know exactly what the party you voted for represented?  And how many of you really believed that the party could deliver on those promises?  I suspect that by now we're talking about quite small numbers.

Take myself as an example: I'm not particularly politically aware.  I don't know that much about each of the parties, I don't particularly believe that any of them can deliver on their promises.  I think that all of them have some good ideas, but I don't necessarily believe in all of their ideas, so I find the process of voting quite difficult.

Also I live in an area that is considered to be a safe seat.  In other words the same party gets back into power pretty much every time: so my turning out to vote is pretty much a waste of time - I might as well throw my piece of paper up in the air for all the impact it has.

But I do vote - because I feel that it is important for my voice to be heard in some way, shape or form.

So how can my voice be heard?  Well - what about some form of Electorial reform?  Well - that's handy, because very soon now we are going to have a referendum on precicely that.

It's called Alternative Vote.  What this means is that instead of voting for a specific party you have to rank all the candidates in order of preference - say from 1-5.  The Liberal Democrat party, as the 3rd biggest party, think this is a great idea that can only benefit them: because let's face it - if your first vote is for Labour then your second vote is hardly going to be for Conservative - and so they will pick up extra points.

Great for them: but is it great for us?  Well, potentially it could be: because it could force some of those parties desperate for your vote to smarten up their image, to make it a bit clearer exactly where they stand.

However: it does mean that if there is an extremist party in your area, such as the British National Party, then you have to give them a vote.  It may be your lowest vote, but you still have to give it.  Now I have a problem with this - I find it hard enough to vote for a party I'm not entirely 100% in favour of, but I really object to having to vote for one I'm 100% against.

So what about the option to vote "None of the above"?  Currently people like myself have no option to state "I don't have any faith in any party" and to have that voice heard. 

Would the introduction of an option to say "None of the above" result in the collapse of the government?  Well, as it happens people in Australia already have the option to say this and I have yet to see their government collapse - so why couldn't we have the same here?

I'd like to leave you now with another quote from the late, great Douglas Adams, who as well as saying that "any person capable of getting themselves into a position of power is the absolute last person you should allow to be there" said: "The purpose of a politician is not so much to wield power: as to take attention away from those that do"

Competition chair.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

(I Wanna Be A) Chartered Accountant

This post came out of a joke between myself and Argent last night at a quiz night.  And so, with apologies to Paul McCartney, I present:

Chartered Accountant

Dear Sir or Madam, let me read your books
If the Taxman's due, let me take a look
Coz I studied numbers, and I'm good at Maths
And I need a job, and I wanna be a Chartered Accountant
Chartered Accountant

I've always known what I want to be
Yes I've always dreampt of Accountancy
Coz I'm feeling fiscal and I know my sums
I can buy a tie, would you let me be a Chartered Accountant
Chartered Accountant

Chartered Accountant

suggestions for extra verses are most welcome in response

Saturday, 12 March 2011

What Are You Rebelling Against? (The Poetry Bus Challenge)

Well it's been some time since I rode the poetry bus, but some challenges are just too tempting to resist: and so it was with this week's poetry bus, as driven by The Watercats

The challenge, should we chose to accept it, was:



dum dum dum dum dum dee dum
dum de dum de dum dee dum
dum de dum de dum dee dee
dum de dum de dum de dee.

So - I spent some time trying to decide what to protest about.  There are so many good causes out there that need highlighting, but from the start I was more interested in finding a spurious cause - one that really doesn't need public outrage.

I thought about protesting about protest songs, i thought about protesting about busses, sausages, nipples on men - until I remembered something I'd heard a while ago.

You see it seems (or so I heard) that Warner Brothers are keen to keep the image of the Dark Knight dark and, as such have chosen to encourage those responsible to never release the 1960s Batman TV series on DVD - and if there's one thing a protest song is good for it's getting something/someone released (just look at "Free Nelson Mandela" for proof)

So here it is - the We Need Batman Released protest song


My DVD needs some capers right now
The caped-crusader, in his blue-suede cowl
Oh Warner Brothers, won't you give me some peace
We need the Batman to be released

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Funny? I Nearly Laughed

It's been some time since my last post - a long time by my usual standards, but I seem to have a bit of writer's block and can't think of anything to say.

Recently I wrote two half-songs (sadly they can't be combined into one), half a speech and half an introduction to a chapter before getting bogged down - so just because sometimes you have to just plunge in and write something I'm going to do a post i've been putting off for a while.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will be familiar with, and no doubt shriek with fear at the mention of, my ongoing List-O-Fives.  We've had concept albums, movies, books, sci-fi - and a while ago I threatened to do one on sit-coms. 

Problem is that there's too many for just a basic list of five - so i thought what i'd do is a list of all the sit-coms i like, in alphabetical order - and only pick out a few for more than a brief description.

Here we go:

The Big Bang Theory - despite playing to the stereotype that all scientists and clever people are, therefore, total nerds this is sharply funny and Sheldon Cooper is surely a classic creation.  I'm quite enjoying the ongoing joke about Sheldon's deadly rivalry with Wil Wheaton as well

Blackadder - starting at the time of Richard 3rd and ending up in the 1st world war several generations of Edmund Blackadder strove to do dastardly deeds and generally failed.  My personal favourite will always be Blackadder II with the genius casting of Miranda Richardson as Queenie (Queen Elisabeth 1st) - favourite quotes include:
Queenie: They've completely vanished
Lord Percy: an old oak table (and so forth)

Dad's Army - 60s-70s show about the British Home Guard - don't tell him Pike!!  A very rare combination of 100% perfect casting, very distinctive characters and top quality one liners

Father Ted - enjoyably daft comedy about three Irish priests sent to a small island essentially to keep them out of harm's way.  I had the pleasure of attending the filming of an episode in series two and got to meet Fathers Ted and Dougall afterwards.  Top episode has to be the Eurovision one

Fawlty Towers - more farce than sit-com this John Cleese vehicle is one of the most infamous sit coms and is second to none in terms of tight writing, characterisation and cringe-enducing moments

Frazier - one of the best from across the pond, right up to the point they introduced Daphne's family - but often very hard to watch because of the stupid, down-right pompous things the main character did.  Home of one of my favourite quotes: "If we were looking through the world's most powerful microscope right now I still couldn't locate my interest in your problem"

The Good Life - 70s sit-com starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall as two surburbanites who turn self-sufficient, to the horror of their posh neighbours.  It has been said that no truly british man can think of Felicity Kendall in The Good Life without a sigh.

One Foot In The Grave - Richard Wilson as grumpy pensioner Victor Meldrew with his long suffering wife Margaret - endlessly ranting at the world.  Last series wasn't as good, but still very funny at its best

Porridge - Ronnie Barker's shining moment and one of the best written comedies of all time about serial offender Fletcher and his fellow inmates at Slade Prison as they try and outwit the guards

Red Dwarf - 3,000,000 light years from Earth a slob, a career-no-hoper, a cat, a mechanoid and a senile computer are trying to find their way home.  First two series were actually very clever sci-fi ideas with humour, then descended into a monster-of-the-week format (though still funny for another four years) - until finally took it a series or two too far.  Best lines increasingly went to the mechanoid Kryten, including when they had to go from blue to red alert and Kryten says, "are you sure sir, it does mean changing the bulb?"

The Simpsons - does this count as a sit-com?  Maybe not - once great, not as funny as it was, but still worth watching we are all familiar with the story of America's No1 family

Still Game - shamefully overlooked Scottish sit-com about a group of pensioners living on a rough estate.

Still - i couldn't leave you withouy a chance to watch at least a bit of one of these shows - so here's that Eurovision song from Father Ted - and if you don't smile there's something wrong with you!