Saturday, December 10, 2005

Death of an Englishman.

One of my favourite broadcasters died a couple of weeks ago. John Timpson, native of Norfolk and proud Englishman slipped away aged 77 years. John had a fantastic accent, a comfy and relaxed rural burr, as mellow as a glowing glass of English mulled wine on a crisp and frosty Winter's evening.

Timpson initially got his big break on the ‘Today’ programme when original anchor, Jack deManio began to lose his marbles. Every now and then, deManio would turn up at the studio ‘a bit tired and emotional’ and inevitably make a right pig's ear of the script. On this particular ‘last straw’ occasion, DeManio was trying to introduce a story about some bloke from the Lebanon.

"And Mr Walid, a lesbian…….

Oh, I’m terribly sorry, that should be, Mr Walid, a Lesbianese…….

Errrr, sorry, that’s not right either, I meant to say Mr Walid from Lesbianon….."

That morning, DeManio seemed to have been obsessed with butch women – it didn’t go down well with the prudish Auntie Beeb – and Mr and Mrs Outraged from Tunbridge Wells had a field day.

The old soak that was Jack DeManio was quietly pensioned off to write his memoirs and Timpson seized his chance. – Various partners joined him, until the BBC had the good sense to partner him with Brian Redhead, a gobby Northerner from Macclesfield with a rare commodity amongst current broadcasters – a brain a sharp as a steel trap, and a true journalist, to boot.

For many years, throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, they co-hosted this flagship radio programme. It was superb radio. Full of acerbic wit and off message, non pc comment, the merciless grilling of some inadequate tosser politician of the day was a regular sporting highlight. It was free of the nefarious agenda that currently infests the present BBC.

It was a sad day when John retired. Some young whipper-snapper called John Humphrys took over his slot – and the programme lost its appeal to me. Timpson said he wanted to retire back to his beloved Norfolk to write about the county and Country he loved so much.

Soon ‘Timpson’s England – a look beyond the obvious’ hit the bookstalls, swiftly followed by a follow up. The books were superb to read - witty little quirky snippets from forgotten corners of this great Country. Timpson toured England, finding odd and eccentric facts and figures in churches, pubs and villages – in essence, he recorded the very soul and marvellous eccentricity of this fantastic Country.

Nearly 20 years on, I’ve still got my copies – and when I’m feeling just a bit low, despairing of what this cowardly bunch of no-mark politicians in power are continuing to do to this Country, I dip into them.

It makes me feel a hell of a lot better – and it’s cheaper than Whisky……

Monday, December 05, 2005

Another attack of the ‘Nangs’…

Not been able to post this week at all. I’ve been suffering. Really, really suffering. Loads and loads of nangy things going on in the body that is planet Alfie. Itching underneath my fingernails, wanting to give the backs of my eyeballs a damned good scratch, a crease in the bed sheets irritating the hell out of my back…. In short, just feeling uncomfortable all the time.

Even just ‘thinking’ was enough to bring on a bit of a nang attack – and as the classic nang symptoms are being absolutely unable to switch off – even at 3 in the morning, it’s been a self perpetuating vicious circle of nang. I’m not entirely sure what brings it on, but it could be a type of hyper-tension – I don’t even know whether the condition is known to science. I’ve tried to find it in the medical dictionary – but it just ain’t there.

So what brought the nangs on this time? God knows, but I think it’s got something to do with bad news – the first time I got it was when I was about 9 years old, the cause? Mr Trivett, the school deputy head and psycho in residence hit me with a ruler on my head. When I got home in floods of tears - acute toe-nang was diagnosed by my Mum. There was so much tension in my feet, all my toes arched downwards, fixed like stone – a parrot without a perch. Still, it meant school was a no no, because once I’d got my special school ‘Tuf’ shoes off (with nice animal foot prints on the soles) - there was no way I could get them back on.

Since then, I’ve caught the nangs every year or so, without fail. As I’ve got older, they’ve moved around my body. The nang virus is no respecter of body geography.

I’m trying to think what ‘bad news’ may have brought this year’s attack on – and let’s face it, there’s a hell of a lot of it around. I reckon it might be to do with the news that our temperate climate is in trouble. The Gulf Stream, our bringer of warmth and balmy stability has lost 30 to 50% of its strength over the past 15 years. To put it bluntly, we could soon be up moose creek, in a kayak in 20 foot of pack ice without a paddle - or a pickaxe.

I don’t relish the imminent arrival of a big white Polar bear strolling down our high street, looking for a ‘Seal-in-a-Basket’ outlet – but we’re on the same latitude as Labrador and Alaska – both places hardly renowned for their Costas.

Paradoxically, it’s all down to Global warming. Greenland’s massive ice glaciers are melting faster than you can say ‘a15 trillion megawatt electric fire’. Billions of tonnes of ice cold fresh water are cooling the current flow from the tropics. Reduced salinity, because of the dilution and lower temperatures has meant the Gulf stream has got a bit flaccid and a bit floppy. We need to change our lifestyle habits like right now, or start making a 10,000 tonne Viagra pill to drop into the North West Atlantic.

And talking about greenhouse gases, it was reported this week that 14% of all emissions of greenhouse gases comes out of cow bums. There are over 1.3 billion cow arses on the planet – so that’s a hell of a lot of flatulence from our bovine boffers. So there you have it, cow farts could end civilisation as we know it, unless we change our ways and start eating carrots, or order 1.3 billion jumbo sized corks double quick.

No wonder I’ve got rampant nangyness.