Saturday, November 08, 2003

Eccentrics, leprechauns and saxophone players….

The other day, I was browsing the message boards of our local radio station’s web site and came across someone enquiring about the eccentric ‘no smoking’ cyclist commonly seen all over the North West of England.

For anyone who hasn’t seen him, this man rides an old road racing bike. The bike is adorned entirely in clear plastic and collected litter. Big hand written signs are stuck to the frame on the evils of smoking. On his head is always worn an old skateboarding helmet. And he rides – to virtually every City, Town and Village in the North West. Often seen standing next to his bike, occasionally muttering, frequently shouting, especially to people he’s seen smoking…….. sad cyclist with a message.

When I was a kid, where I lived there was a weird guy who one day suddenly started to build a ship in his back garden. The garden backed onto a field, so us nosy kids had a first hand view of progress.

When I say he built it in the garden, he really did build in the garden – all of it. From one end to the other, a bloody great big ship. And when I say ‘ship’ – I really do mean ‘ship’. It wasn’t a yacht – or a boat …. It was a bloody massive ship! It was entirely built out of wooden planks, clinker fashion. Eventually, after a few years, he got to the top and laid the decking down. It towered above the rest of the gardens. I suppose it was about 20 feet tall. The next time we came to look at it he had added a new feature on the top – it was then that I knew exactly what he had built. On the top of the deck, amidships he had plonked a garden shed. It now looked like everyone’s idea of how a ‘Noah’s Ark’ should look like.

He had built his own Noah’s Ark – in his garden. I don’t know whether he was a religious nut, or just a really pessimistic weather forecaster……. That ship was there for years, nobody seemed to mind – I guess it was before the World was populated to the brim with ‘jobsworth’ planning officers…. ..two by two

Near Cammel Lairds in Birkenhead, There’s a man who, most days stands under an old railway bridge. He faces the wall, playing a saxophone - quietly to himself. He has no cap on the floor to collect cash – and anyway, the place he plays has hardly any passers by………. mellow bluesman with a stoned audience….. nice

A three piece suited, 7 stone OAP threatened to wipe me out once – God knows why. It was the early nineties and Alfie was at his most physically imposing…. Alfie the brick bog, 18 stone of mile high manliness (my vision, obviously) was striding down the street in confident fashion with Alfreda. Out of nowhere, leapt a little old wizened type gent, with slicked down dwindling hair and thin bony knobbly knuckles waving millies from my face.

"Come on then, you don’t frighten me yer terwat. I’ll bloody ‘ave yer. Come on, stick yer dooks up – or are yer a chicken? With that, he starts to do a strutting chicken walk, wafting his arms about and clucking and squawking to himself. Baaquaa baquaa baaabaaaquaaa" …….. mad leprechaun with a death-wish.

A bad tackle down at the newsagents……

Massive controversy and consternation in our locality when a couple of weeks ago the local rag inadvertently published a photo of a footy player with his ‘bobby knoblett’ hanging out – in glorious technicolour!

Needless to say, the publisher was horrified, but the word was out – and the rush was on to buy copies. In hours, they were all sold out – probably for the first time ever.

I eeeed them, under the heading of ‘Competition Winner’ asking if they were starting a ‘spot the bobby knoblett competition’ – and if so, could I have my prize as I had spotted this weeks member……

They declined to comment.

Best thing about it though was the flasher wrote in a week later – to apologise for his bobby ‘just slipping out’ and how he ‘hadn’t noticed’ that it was free and running wild – like it’s got a life of it’s own or something……

I thought it must have had something to do with the way he was pulling his shorts aside to let Tommy Togger get unleashed and the ‘ear to ear’ grin he had on his boat….

I have agonised long and hard about whether I should reproduce the photo for you, but have decided against it - mainly because I can’t get a magnifying tool on the pic’….

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Guy Fawkes – done up like a kipper…..

"I am here today at the Law Courts to plead for Mr Fawkes’ case to be reopened, re-examined and his sentence rescinded. We, at the appeals tribunal do not think Mr Fawkes received a fair trial – and consequently we believe there has been a travesty of justice. My colleague, Mr Mansfield will elucidate…"

"Thank you Ludovic, we believe our case is a strong one and that this guy, Guy has been well and truly ‘fawked’.

"We intend to show that once arrested, Mr Fawkes –
Did not have his rights read to him.
Was not allowed a free phone call.
Had no access to legal aid.
Was put in a damp, cold cell with a piece of wood for a bed and a hat for a privvy. He didn’t even have a decent pair of jim-jams - those blankets really do chafe you know".
Was not allowed his religious freedom – and access to a bible was denied.

"In short we believe Mr Fawkes’ human rights have been violated – and we intend to indict one King James 1 of England as a war criminal.

"We feel the interviewing techniques engaged were overly aggressive. Mr Fawkes was not allowed toilet breaks, ciggy breaks or tea breaks. The only ‘breaks’ he did get were to his arms and legs. The interrogator also made extremely derogatory remarks concerning Mr Fawkes and his sexuality.

"Just because he wore flamboyant outfits including a big floppy hat with wafty feathers, natty thigh length leather boots and full length capes, these are not a sign that Mr Fawkes’ had an effeminate nature. As far as we are aware, Mr Fawkes rampantly chased well rounded, buxomly-comely Elizabethan bar room totty on a regular basis.

"We also think the sentence of being hung, drawn and quartered just a bit too excessive. Possibly a community service sentence would have been more appropriate. Mr Fawkes, I know was keen to work with under-privileged kids.

"We would like to see ‘Bonfire Night’ renamed as ‘Guy Fawkes-he wasn’t all that bad’ – and possibly set up some work shops, education courses etc – and maybe obtain a grant from The Lottery Commission…. Kids could make a ‘Guy’ as they do now – but when they meet passers-by they could say something like "Hey, could you give our Guy a hug?"…

"We should all get together and send a letter to the Pope urging him to make Guy a saint. ‘St Guido of Whitehall’ or something. After all, he did try to blow up a whole load of whining, low-life parasites – and do us all a favour"…….

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Turner Prize – what’s it all about then?

OK, here we are at the Tate Britain Gallery, waiting, gagging, and hyperventilating with anticipation at the prospect of gazing in adoration at the collective genius that is the infinitely infantile BritArt School. Within these walls, there lies a gloriously clich├ęd mix of emperor’s new clothes cutting edge dross.

I’m sure the genius that was Joseph Mallord William Turner, landscaping master of light, tone and shade would fully endorse some of the previous groundbreaking entries. Efforts such as Tracy Emmin’s detritus-strewn ‘Unmade Bed’, Damien Hirst’s ‘nice bit of fillet’ in formaldehyde - and the saddo that produced a light bulb going on and off in a concrete box.... Yeah, I'm sure he would.....

Anyway, that was then – and this is now, so let’s start and get the objective appraisal up and running. Just check I’ve got everything… Catalogue check, Dickie Bow check, Sick Bag (lots of them) check.

Objective Appraisal:
We’re in – and the overwhelming feeling is of horror and nausea. It’s not unlike the feeling I have when I’m clearing out our cat’s litter tray. The Turner entrant’s brief seems to be to SHOCK at all costs. These things aren’t even witty, or skilful or thought provoking. They are banal, twee, self centred, bought from B&Q, gathered out of a skip, picked from the artist’s belly button or made from the residue of the local bunion trimming centre.

Then some bi-focalled pseudo-intellectually challenged inadequate sallies forth with a paper-thin justification for a six-foot copy of a latex-clad, suspended in stockings jelly baby. "It’s Man’s angst. Does he eat the jelly baby and devour all its sugary goodness, or does he make mad passionate love to it and be consumed by its sweet sex-crazed depravity?"…… (Bloody Hell, not a bad idea that – a sure fire winner for next year… Hmmm, latex-clad, six foot jelly baby).

Every year, it’s the same ‘subtle as a brick in the bread basket’ treatment. Never mind Nobs, Flies, Rotting Flesh and Festering Piles of Pink Putrefying Pustules…..
How about a nice landscape or a nice bit of greenery and maybe a flock of birds in a meadow? Some bambi-like cute looking deer with big puppy dog eyes would be nice ….. Come to think of it, I can’t remember seeing that ‘Pierot’ clown geezer with the teardrop on his cheek in any Turner exhibition. And why hasn’t the green Chinese lady or the Gypsy dancer made an appearance? Now that really would be shocking….

Monday, November 03, 2003

The Big Apple – and we’re not talking Granny Smith’s…..

During the last week, I’ve been as busy as a busy bee at a buzz, buzz, buzzy bee convention….

Today ‘Rick’ from New York gave me a ring.

"Hiiiiyyyyyyaaaaa! – Is that the M.D. of the Company?"

"It is" – I reply.

"My name is Rick. I’m talking to you from Wall Street in Nooooo York City, and I want to make you richer – a lot richer than you already are!"

"Great – but I’m a bit busy at the moment – like a bee…. So.."

"Sure!" says Rick. "Sir I do deals, and when I get a sniff of a great deal, I like to share it with my clients. Successful clients – like yourself"


"Sure, we made a fortune this Summer – in Plastics!


"Sure! – Sir, can I ask you what your current portfolio value is at the moment….. Is it above a million or above five million?"

"Hmmmmm – let me think"…. I leave Rick stewing on regulo 5 whilst I meander, mumbling through these imaginary stocks and those imaginary bonds. "Yeah, mumble, mumble, Consolidated Condos’, French Letter Corp, CrapCo….."

"Well Rick, it looks like my portfolio stands at around eight million"

Rick’s gob is well smacked. "Eight million!…… – that’s some portfolio"

"Yeah Rick, it used to be over fifteen, but those muthas in French Letter Corp have blown me out…."

"Sir, can we act on your behalf in the American markets? We’ll get it back up to fifteen – and beyond!!!"

"Hmmmm, lemme think about that Rick - bud. I’ll get my people to talk to your people, yadder, yadder, yadder – and all like that - and everything"….

I shout across the room ….. "Hey asshole, I ordered pastrami on my Goddamm, Goddamm rye. And where’s my Soda with extra triple banana squishy? Geez Rick, I’m employing 'assholes anonymous' in this Goddamm place. Look Rick baby, there’s Tokyo on the other line. Ipso - gotta go, I’ll get back to ya – probably"

"Sir, it would be an honour"

"No problemo Rick, baby ……ciao".