Thursday, September 20, 2007

Led Zeppelin.

Well, I've lodged my claim for one of the 20,000 tickets for the O2 'Stair-lift to heaven' gig in London. - me and 24 million other people that is. If my sums are correct, I have a 1 in 1,200 chance of getting one.... But to be honest, even if there was just a 1 in a million chance, I'd still reckon it would be worth the gamble for a chance to see the world's greatest rock band - ever.....

Everything's crossed.....
Separated at birth?....

Rather worryingly, the only other person I know (besides me) who dyes his snow white beard to a comely mid chestnut is Osama Bin Laden....

Vanity can do terrible things to a man's stability....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One of the World’s great questions answered….

I found the answer to one of the great unanswered questions of civilisation the other day – right in the middle of the A59, one of the busiest days in the country.

Is it "How did they build the pyramids"? No it is not.

Is it "Can I really turn base metals into gold"? No it is not.

Is it "Do they actually get any viewers to watch ‘Dance X’ on Saturday night TV?" No it is not.

No, no, the great question that can now be struck off the WGQ list is "Can you really get hold of a hedgehog with your bare hands without running the risk of a fistful of puncture wounds?

And the answer is – yes …. and no….

So I’m tootling along the A59, minding my own business when I see the little prickly fella wandering along the centre line.

One thing’s for certain – it will get run over, it will not see another prickly sunrise, it will die within the next minute unless I do the right thing.

I bumped the car up onto the pavement and got out. There was a lull in the traffic – and the guy behind me had sort of decided to straddle the highway in an attempt to block the route while I did my lifesaving best. I tippy-toed up behind the hedgehog, put my fingers underneath and lifted him up. He curled around my fingers with his soft underbelly. I reached the safety of the pavement and waved a wave of thanks to the bloke in the car behind me with my brand new prickly muffler

So what to do with the little fella then? I had to get him off my hands pretty quick. A likely spot was found, a nice woody hedge bordering the pavement – and a Victorian garden beyond. I wound myself up sort of like Fred Flintstone about to deliver one of his stone bowling balls. I bowled. There was a steep incline just beyond the hedge, he rolled all the way to the top, and then rolled all the way back again, straight past me and almost back into the road.

A deft bit of footwork saved the day – I thought about a bit of keepy-uppy but decided against it. I would have to lift him again - but this time without the luxury of getting my fingers into his soft underbelly.

I picked him up. Every single little pointy point stabbed into my hands – it was like handling a red hot bag of nails, without the bag.. I started to shift him from hand to hand – like he was a mega-hot giant jacket spud or something.

Where to put him? Anywhere, just somewhere quick….

I ran up the drive of the Victorian garden, full to the brim with 100 year-old trees. I reckoned this was where he came from. A startled lady, resplendent in a big flowery hat and a trowel in her gardening gloved hand looked up from her work in the flower-beds.

"This is yours, I think"

I gently placed ‘Hedgy’ under a bush and left.

And my hands? On the throb-o-meter around regulo 184 – and in my wildest dreams, who’d have thought that me, Mr Hetrosexual 1973 would be writing about having a load of hot pricks in my hot sweaty hands?….

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another money making scheme.....

My wife and I were having one of our ‘let’s try and think of something so damn brilliant – it’s bound to be a sure fire money-spinner’ sessions the other day.

We were sort of inspired by the latest success of JK Rowling. The final Harry Potter book went on sale last Friday, she was shifting around 15 books per second for the first couple of days, which isn’t too bad, I suppose.

Obviously, wanting the glory and the money, without the graft, toil & trouble it takes to think of another plot as original as Harry Potter we thought we might sort of piggy back the worldwide phenomena that is the Hogwarts experience. Step forward ‘Barry Rotter’ the baddest wizard since Adolf Abracadabra…..

Read how evil boy genius wizard, Barry Rotter battles to the death with goody-two-shoes Harry Potter to decide the fate of a billion dollar book market……

Maybe not.

No. We need to think of something that doesn’t involve any actual work from ourselves. Something so brilliant that a company will give us a load of cash – just so they can buy the idea from us.

You occasionally read in the papers about how the corporate boot boys from Virgin or EasyJet are trying to buy out a little company because they have dared to use the words ‘Virgin’ or ‘Easy’ in their company name. ‘The EasyKebab Eating Emporium’ and the ‘Virgin on the Ridiculous’ novelty shop wouldn’t, I’d have thought, been much of a threat to those two huge conglomerates….

But they are a bit touchy about it, aren’t they?

With this in mind, Alfreda has come up with a whizz of an idea. She’s about to incorporate a brand spanking new company into the OK stable of corporate high finance.

‘EasyVirgin Limited’….

We haven’t yet decided what activities the new company will be engaged in, but I’m sure it will be a great success….

Sir Richard and Sir Stelios, you’d better start opening your cheque books boys…… and don’t forget your pens.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A trip to the dentist

I went to see my new lady dentist this week (the old one, the one I’ve been with for 30 years dropped dead 2 weeks ago).

She seems nice and professional – and best of all she has a rock steady hand, (my old one had a tendency to twitch, but not any more, if you see what I mean). Anyway, she did a filling and then a scale and polish – which I found unbearable. It’s when the little polishing brush catches your gum – it’s so damn tickly, I could hardly control myself...

Anyway, after the torture of the polish she took an x-ray of a tooth in my lower right jaw. "I just want to take an x-ray of this tuth – it doesn’t look right"…

"A ‘tuth’, you’re taking an x-ray of a tuth?"

"Yes, this tuth here"….

With that, she shoved a big sort of picture frame into my mouth, and lowered what looked like Flash Gordon’s flash death-ray gun down from the ceiling.

"Now just relax, there’s nothing to worry about" she said, as she legged it out of the room and pressed the button.

Ten minutes later and I’m looking at a lightbox with a little bit of film on it. My tuth is there in all its gory glory.

"Ahhh, thought so"

"What, what’s up then?"

She got out her special pointy stick.

"This tuth - do you see this, and that, and this"…..

I nodded in all the right places, cracking on I understood what the hell she was talking about. She blah-blahed away until she came to the end of her medical diagnosis, and the only bit of the conversation I understood…… "And to fix your tuth will cost around £600"..

£600! The slap on the floor was the sound of my jaw hitting the deck.

A straw pole at Alfie HQ rendered a fairly sympathetic response from the crew – that was, until I mentioned the cost.

"Six 'kin hundred 'kin quid........ Are you 'kin 'kin mad?" Last time I saw Mrs A, she was rummaging around the toolbox apparently looking for a hammer and a chisel……..

Thursday, July 05, 2007

George Melly joins the great jazz band in the sky….

George Melly has died today aged 80. I’ve seen him perform a few times over the years – by far the best gig I went to was when he did the Kirkland’s Wine Bar in Liverpool around 1980.

He was brilliant, floppy fedora, stripey zoot suit, two-tone shoes, John Chilton and his Feetwarmers…. Everyone was drunk, including the band – and George finished the set with a fine rendition of ‘Nuts’. He then issued an appeal amongst the audience – "has anyone got any marrywarna, man for Georgie?"

Someone chucked him a spliff and he disappeared in a haze of smoke…..

I wonder if his tombstone will read - Here lies George Melly, Journalist and Jazzman…… Nice.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Around the world in 365 days
Two weeks ago we waved my Son, John and his friend Jo off at Heathrow on the first leg of their year long, round-the-world trip of a lifetime.

Just about now they are in Zanzibar, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury – last week it was the Serengeti, messing with lions and the like, next week they’ll be in the Masai Mara – having a look at those wildebeests just before they start their epic migration. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the places they are going to…. I mean, the world can be a dangerous place, right?

And they seem to be going to some right old frontier countries….. I’ve warned them – don’t give a ‘thumbs up’ sign to anyone (in some countries that means the same as the raised middle finger here). The dodgy food, the dodgier water, the guerrilla groups, the routine violence, the muggings, the man-eating animals, the man-eating sharks, the man-eating men, the sly slithering snakes, the big hairy spiders, the burrowing insects that make a meal out of your brain……. And ‘the little fish’.

"What little fish is that then?" I hear you ask.

Well, sometime early next year they should be hitting Peru to do the Inca trail and visit Machu Picchu, lost capital of the Incas…… but before they go there, they will be spending a few days down in that there Amazonian jungle.

I’ve told my Son – at no time should he get into the dark waters of the world’s greatest river for a swim, to cool off or to impress the natives with his front crawl. I’ve told him, if he does happen to fall into the Amazon – or indeed into any of its tributaries he’s got to immediately cover his nether regions with his hands – and get out as soon as possible.

For in those dark, dark waters is a lurking killer, waiting patiently for the next unsuspecting punter to fall in and provide it with his brand new home.

The little Candirú fish is a right little bugger of a fish. It’s the one of legend, the one that really scares the natives and makes British schoolboys laugh their heads off.

So what can this little fish do that is so appalling, so awful, so disgusting as to make the average strapping he-man go weak at the knees….

Yep, you’ve guessed it, the Candirú fish is the one that zeroes in on a man’s dangly bits, locates the ‘opening’, swims up the manhood and sticks its crampon-style fins into the side walls of the Urethra and starts to feed on your blood.

Now that really has got to smart…

Once it’s in, it’s in. Nothing, save a complex operation can get rid of it – and be honest, would you want a surgeon with a scalpel splitting your pride and joy open from stem to stern?. They can have a go at any orifice – but they are more likely to go for the manhood because they’re supposedly attracted to the scent of urine….

Was God Almighty having a bit of an off day when he created the Candirú fish? Or is it simply a result of evolution – did natural selection decide that the world would be a better place if Candirú fish existed?

Who knows? I just thank God they’re not in our rivers….. We just have the odd dead dog, used prophylactics and the deadly germs that Domestos can’t kill lurking in our waterways.

So there you have it. He and Jo are now on their own, They face the perils of the world – and the Candirú fish with just his rucksack and his piece of paper with Alfie’s golden rules for survival scribbled on it.

Never give a thumbs up sign.

Don’t drink the water unless it comes out of a British tap.

Don’t screw your face up when offered a tempting bowl of goat testicle broth by a herder from Nepal.

Don’t volunteer to put the spider out of the tent. (Unless it’s smaller than your hand).

If a big guy with a spear says he likes the look of your hat – give it to him, pronto.

When you get to New Zealand, be sure to tell the locals that their country has bugger all to do with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy – and was actually based in the Midlands of England.

If you ever get in a really tricky situation with the locals, just tell them you’re a scouser – and you’ll burgle their house if they don’t sod off.

If you really must go swimming in the Amazon – be sure to tape up your nob with plenty of gaffer tape before doing so.

Friday, June 22, 2007 - a word of warning and a bit of free advice DO NOT USE THEM!!!!!.

If you are minding your own business at your office - and a company called 'Creditsafe' from Caerphilly in Wales rings you - just tell them "no thanks" and put the phone down again. By doing so, it will save you well over a thousand pounds – as well as your sanity. are a company that give out company ratings, assessing company risks etc. I don't have a problem with that - however, after the first year (which cost us around £150) I decided not to renew the subscription.

However, have just invoiced us for over £1,100 for another year’s subscription - virtually an 8 FOLD increase from year 1.

This morning, we received a bill for the princely sum of £1,128 - in spite of us telling them by phone 3 times, by letter and email that we longer want the 'service' and didn’t want to renew the subscription. Unfortunately, 'Robert', the guy who rang me a couple of months ago to ask if I wanted to renew failed to tell me that I had to 'opt out' otherwise I would be automatically signed up again. Robert also failed to tell me that the new charge would be 8 times what it cost last year. As I left it, Robert was happy with my decision not to renew – and gave me the impression that was an end of the matter. Don’t you just love people like Robert?

In our opinion, they are in business purely to bully people into giving them money. During my last and somewhat testy conversation with 'Julie’ from their 'retention staff' - she immediately offered to bring the year's bill down from £1,100 to 300 quid..... In my opinion, it was a clear bid to get me to re-sign up on the grounds that I was getting some sort of bargain – and of the relief of not paying over a thousand..

I told her it was all about principles and scruples - at that point she slammed the phone down on me. I guess she had a problem with those 2 words – maybe she didn’t know what they meant?…….

I can only speak from experience - and my experience with Creditsafe of Caerphilly has been a bloody awful one. It is a useful service, BUT there are plenty of others that provide that service as well - if I were you, I would choose anyone but of Caerphilly. You’ll keep your money – and your sanity as well.

Understandably, we are not happy - and are about to talk to the various authorities about the appalling business practices of from Caerphilly. It's time someone took a stand at this outrageous attempt to extort money out of unsuspecting companies.

Sorry to go on everyone, but I hate these cruddy companies that try every trick in the book to filch cash off you.

So be warned – ‘ of Caerphilly’ - avoid them at all costs….. I wish we had never heard of them.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The caravans of love….

Today, I mostly spent the day trying to get to Swansea in South Wales. I had an appointment at the monolith that is the DVLA – a horrible vision of Soviet seventies-ness stuffed to the gills with jobsworth civil servants, coffee machines and filling cabinets.

It’s South Wales’ own Lubianka rising out of the miserable dampyness of a soggy June day. Aside from the rain, the spray and the 40 tonners ever-threatening to make me the filling in a trucking butty, a flotilla of crawling caravans towed by boxy Volvos, beige Mercs and driven by Ron and Brenda added to the pile-up potential.

There were bloody hundreds of them. And as it happens, this very day is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Caravan Club. A hundred years of getting in the way, pissing people off and generally creating traffic jams stretching through several time zones….. It makes you think doesn’t it? So what I want to know is, if a caravan-towing Volvo man in a flat cap, cravat and with a pipe sticking out of his mouth is so bumblingly slow, how come he is always at the front of the queue?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The 2012 logo….

You couldn’t make it up could you?

Well apparently, someone has - and charged Emperor Seb Coe half a million quid for the privilege.

Design consultants, Wolff Ollins have obviously deployed the ‘new clothes’ strategy in the rolling out of their 2012 logo. to a startled country.

So what’s the new clothes strategy then?

Simple. Someone spends about half an hour producing a right load of old scroat – the graphically crappier the better.. Then they stick it in a nice posh folder for 6 months, ready for the pitch to the client.

Now the really tricky bit – the invoice. This is where the real creative thinking comes into its own. Think of a number, double it, treble it, add several noughts – then round it up to the number of grains of sand you can get in a bucket. Dig out some good words – ‘dynamic’, ‘inspiring’, ‘epoch-making’, etc - and chuck them in the job description. Ask your Mum what she thinks (she’ll always say how fantastic it is, cos she’s your Mum) and stick that on your invoice as well, but call it ‘Market Research’. Once you’re happy with the amount, send it off to the unsuspecting client, or ‘Emperor’ as he’s known in the trade.

Then, before he can ring you back to tell you to ‘Shove your invoice and crap symbol up your jacksy", get one of those posh art experts to wax lyrical about the ‘dynamic form this’ and the ‘modern look that’ of your amazing piece of art. This is where you may have to dig into your pocket to get them ‘on-side’… a couple of Leonard Cohen concert tickets should do it.

The client will be so cowed, so bamboozled – he dare not say anything for fear of appearing to be a complete and utter thicko to the whole world.

The deception is now almost complete. Just the general public to impress….. Nah, on second thoughts, forget them – how gives a toss about what they think?


Friday, May 11, 2007

The world of pain.......

I’ve been thinking lately about pain – and especially what kind of pain is the most painyest pain in the whole world…

Just how much pain can a man – or indeed a woman actually stand? When is pain so ultimately hardcore that your system simply shuts down and you pass out?

A kid at our school got a cricket ball flush in the ‘lower stomach’ while fielding at ‘silly mid-off’ during a tense limited overs cricket match. He didn’t pass out but he did a hell of a lot of writhing around. We gathered round the poleaxed fielder. His eyes were certainly watering – and ‘Sir’ came up and asked him where it hurt…

"Johnson, are you alright? Where are you hurt boy?"

Johnson couldn’t speak. Through gritted teeth he pointed down to his mashed up bread-basket.

"Should we massage the pain away Sir?"

"Errrr, best not, it looks like it is really smarting……. Smith, run to the office and get the Secretary to phone for an Ambulance right away!"

Eventually, the Ambulance crew turned up and our fallen, doubled-up comrade was carted off to the hospital.
A few weeks later he was back at school – as good as new apart from a slight limp and his new nickname… Big Chief Oneball.

Still, looking on the bright side, he stopped a certain four to the boundary..

My wife would say "Giving birth" is fairly painful – and if men got pregnant instead of women, the human race would have died out years ago. I doubt that – but I’m sure we’d have invented a really slick extraction machine to make the whole experience one of pleasure. Oh, and also decided that drinking large quantities of beer was actually of considerable benefit to the growing foetus.

Back to real man-sized pain. Up till last week, I would have plumped for toothache. I had an infected back molar when I was a student, the whole side of my face came up like a balloon. I looked like the Balloony Boy with an acute case of Mumps.

Sweating bricks, I tottered off to the Dental Hospital for help. The abscess in my lower gum throbbed away on regulo 12. It was pumping poison into my system like a wildcat oil well. I was desperate. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, I happened to meet the nazi war criminal psychopathic dentist from the film ‘Marathon Man’ doing a bit of moonlighting.

He plonked me on the chair, tilted me back into arse over elbow position – I never realised just how interesting a magnolia painted ceiling was. The psycho with the interesting instruments circled. The silence, broken only by my whimpered dribbling - and the slap of coin on lino as all my money cascaded onto the floor. He went to work with a big sharp jabby piece of metal.

"Isss it safe?"


"Isss it sa"…….. Sorry, wrong scene, does that hurt?"


"It’ll have to come out right now. It’s too swollen to give you an injection – we’ll have to go commando on this one… Do you mind if one of my students does it?"

"Anythinnnn, jusht shtop the pain"

He introduced me to Miss Small and Dainty. She was about 5 foot tall and had arms like knotted string. The pair of pliers in her dainty little hand held my full and undivided attention.

She pulled. She pushed. She twisted. She wrenched. Nothing moved.

I couldn’t stand it any more.

"Aaaaagggghhhhhhh-gashhhhhhhh gehhtt offfffff"…..

Sensing my misery, the pyscho grabbed hold of the pliers, shoved his knee on my chest and the pliers into my mouth and had that pesky molar out faster than you could say ‘Agony’..

All I can remember was the tremendous suction generated as the tooth was pulled from my infected gum. Proudly, he waved it in front of me. It was huge, at least 3 foot long……

I no longer cared, amazing pain gave way to repetitive throb. It was a good trade. I was drenched in sweat and my mouth had filled with a blood and pus. I declined the offer of the tooth ‘to put around my neck on a bit of leather’ and tottered into the street.

Like I said, up until last week, I would have plumped for toothache – but not anymore. Oh no, Alfie has actually discovered the painyest pain ever, ever, ever…

For sheer eye-watering agony, nothing, put nothing beats walking into the door jamb and smacking my oh-so-tender in-growing toenail fully square on…


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Drinking from the Entente Cordial….

Did I really say that.

Did I?

I think I did.

I met a nice French lady yesterday for a business meeting. I had to get to where she was sharpish-like as she could only see me for an hour before catching a flight back to Paris. Her English was immaculate, her dress-sense sophisticated - all in all, she was just so cool, calm and professional. The business done I stood up, thanked her and shook her hand….

Just then, I thought how nice it would be if I could say something in French to her. My mind trolled back to all the Cointreau adverts I’d seen, back to my best CSE French reference books, back to those black and white Jean-Paul Belmondo movies of the sixties…. What could I say to her?

Of course, brilliant…

"Mademoiselle, zank you verhee much for zeeing me. Ah would lake to wish you a very ‘appy bon voyage back to la belle Fransay"

She looked at me like I was a weirdo who had just oh-deed on extra strong weirdo pills.

Maybe she didn’t understand my accent?… Funny, but I thought everyone in France talked like Inspector Clouseau…

Monday, April 23, 2007

Man nicks boat….

This is a weird story . A man hires a canal boat out for a 2 week holiday then does the slowest runner in history – at 4 miles per hour. The police were duly called – and put out a nationwide ‘APB’ on the felon and his hot set of sedentary boatyness….

The last time anyone saw this guy was in March – since then it is known that he has repainted the boat from its original livery of green and red to a rather indiscreet bright blue.

Bad move. Even allowing for the incompetence of ‘Plod of the Yard’, if he really wanted to hide away forever, I suggest a big tin of camouflage paint would be more effective – as can be seen in this photograph.

Fleet of boats on the Kennet and Avon canal cunningly concealed with silk finish camouflage paint....

Friday, April 13, 2007

Now that's gotta hurt

I see a vet has had his arm ripped off by a crocodile at a zoo in Taiwan. Apparently, the croc has been a bit poorly, feeling a bit ill and a bit off his food – so the vet was called to see exactly why he hadn’t eaten anything for weeks – with predictable results….

I don’t know whether there is any truth to the rumour that the vet, now happily reunited with his croc-crocked arm has refused point blank to go and visit the 8 foot tall silverback mountain gorilla who has been totally off sex for several years…..

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Divas, Divers and Drogbas need not apply…
Amazing isn’t it? Today’s footballers seem to have the balancing properties of a lump of lard on a tightrope. The merest brush by an opposition shirt can cause the victim to drop like a stone as if shot by Dirty Harry and his Magnum 45.

They twist, they triple salko with pike, they writhe in agony, victims of a gentle graze from a harsh bit of man-made fibre, that could, if you’re not careful take someone’s eye out.

So, what is the problem? Why can’t the average 100 grand a week footy player stay on his finely honed pins for more than 2 minutes without eating grass? Have they all been infected by a vindictive wobbly-bob gene? Has someone, somehow nobbled them via a drop of horse nobbling draft in the half time cup o’ tea?

Or are they just cheating?

Alfie the Corinthian, brought up in the age of fair play, Alf Tupper, Steve Zodiac and Melchester Rovers noble captain, Roy Race simply refuses to believe today’s professionals would stoop so low (without falling over in agony, obviously). And after much research I reckon I have solved the problem as to why they keep dropping like flies.

It’s all to do with ‘shapes’.

Sure, the modern day footy player has wads of cash falling out of every pocket – but does he still smoke 20 fags, drink 8 pints of brown over bitter and finish off with a fish supper every day? The answer is ‘no’.

Tuna bake with pasta will not give the average superstar the same profile as a diet of steak pudding and chips would. The mullet headed footy players from yesteryear – for example, Tommie ‘crunch’ Smith, Norman ‘bite yer legs’ Hunter and Ron ‘chopper’ Harris all had 3 things in common. Sure they had the dangerously psychotic nature, but more importantly they all possessed, a big fat arse and a burgeoning beer gut. Thus, when they ran, their suet pudding counter balances kept their ample frames in bulky equilibrium – and upright, even when they’d just had their heads taken off by a flying two footed challenge.

In short, footy players of yesteryear were just more ‘manly’ Not for them playing week in and week out of a green sward so smooth you could play snooker on it. For Tommy, Norm and Ron regularly played on ploughed fields - which had more in common with the Somme and Paschendale than a footy pitch. They played with footballs made from purest granite, wore boots fashioned from lead clogs – and were paid around 10 quid a week plus all the pies they could eat …. Now that’s what I call a proper man.

Didier Drogba and co simply couldn’t cope in that environment – in short, they just don’t have that manly profile. No pies and no Guinness equals no balance. And to be honest, I think I would trust a pork pie man more than a green salad with a side dish of grass man. With that in mind, Alfie is launching his brand spanking new campaign to make football more manly. Bring back beer guts and big bums – bring back balance, spend less on washing powder….

Let’s make the beautiful game lardy again….

Friday, March 30, 2007

Wanted – a Condominium for the UK.

Apparently, Durex has launched its first UK recruitment drive for thousands of British ‘condom testers’…

They want a panel of 5,000 people to report their experiences of using its condoms and lubricants in the bedroom. A spokesperson said they were looking for a "massive panel of testers"…. (Or possibly a panel of ‘massive’ testers?)

Durex haven’t yet confirmed whether they want the condoms back once they have been tested.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Heavenly bodies...
Walking to a country pub with one of my Sons the other night, I decided to try to elevate the casual conversation above the inane schoolboy chatter and 'nob-jokes' genre we usually engage in. Looking over to the west, in an inky black clear sky was the majestic heavenly presence of Venus. At this time of the year it is the brightest thing in the night sky (apart from the moon, obviously)….. I thought this could be the time to cram a little more knowledge into my Son’s noggin – I mean, Venus is such a weird place. For instance, it’s the hottest planet in the Solar System – and it’s the only planet that spins in a clockwise direction. It spins incredibly slowly – once every 243 Earth days – which is actually longer than it takes the planet to orbit the Sun. So amazingly, a Venusian day is longer than a Venusian year.

"So what’s that up there then?" I said pointing up to the great twinkler in the sky.

"I don’t know. I don’t know what that is up there in the sky. It’s some sort of star isn’t it?"

"No,no,no – it’s the planet, ‘Venus’ and it's dead weird!…. So what’s so weird about Venus then?…… I’ll help you if you like. Venus is really special. It’s the only planet that……. "

My Son thought a bit - "Venus is the only planet that rhymes with ‘Penis’…."

So much for elevating the conversation. I’m just glad we couldn’t see Uranus.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You know you’re getting old when…..

You know you’re getting old when you give a lift to an old bloke you’ve just met. He’s balding, breathless and overweight in a near-death-experience kind of way. His clothes are straight out of the same shop that Prince Phillip gets his gear from. He’s wearing light slacks, brown and cream stripey tie with coffee coloured shirt and brown blazer with gold effect buttons and brown slip on shoes…..

We chat.

I find out Mr Squaresville is 64 years and 11 months old – and that next month he is retiring.

With not much in common with my new travelling companion – the pregnant silence interrupted only by the dull whine of the engine and the gentle wheezing of my passenger, I decide to play a CD…..

"Sorry, but I’ve only got Zepp – so it’ll have to be King Jimmy Page and his trusty Gibson SG I’m afraid"….

"What, Led Zepp? They’re only my most favourite band ever"… With that, he leant over and turned the volume full-on to ‘bleeding ears’ level.

Rock and roll….

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fabulous Stud Muffin…

The fastest change of mind I’ve ever heard of happened to my friend Fiona last night. She was due to take her dog Toby, a Tibetan Terrier to the local Vet to have his kerambas taken off this morning.

However, she was watching Cruft’s last night as Araki Fabulous Willy took the Supreme Champion trophy and the regulatory Pedigree Chum contract - beating around 25,000 other dogs to the ultimate prize.

The reason that Toby’s nuts are now safe and as valuable as 24 carat gold nuggets is because ‘Fab Willy’ is his Granddad…. Kerrching!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An anthem for England…

Can I ask everyone who reads my blog to please take the time to visit this page on the Number 10 website and sign the petition to press Tony Blair and his acolytes to give England a national anthem.

We should have one – we have to have one, and soon. Anyone who has cringed when watching David Beckham or Jonny Wilkinson glottaling away with the dire lyrics of ’God Save the Queen’ will surely agree.

’God Save the Queen’ is not the anthem of England, it is the UK anthem. England is a country in its own right – and as such, should have a national song that we can all identify with. Favourites of mine are ’Jerusalem’ or ’I vow to thee my country’…. But I’m not that bothered really what we have, as long as we get one. (Although I’ll draw a line on the ’Birdy Song’ or ’Agadoo’

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lard news bulletin…

So what about this then? I’ve only just gone and lost over 2 stone since October, that’s all… I’m down to 17st 10lbs! (Not quite a size zero, but I’ve come in another notch on my trouser belt)… Blood pressure is continuing to head south - and I’m not going green and splitting my shirts quite as often as I used to.

Snarling, angry Alfie has turned coolish and chilled - and is adopting a calmer karma towards his fellow human beings. (Well, most of them, anyway)….

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Antiques Roadshow eye candy....

OK, did you see me? Last Sunday night on the telly – the Antiques Roadshow from glorious Southport. There I was, stood in a queue to nowhere with the family jewels in my hand, third hot and sweaty loser from the right, just behind the woman having her huge chest expertly examined by the show’s huge chest expert.

I just knew I’d be on – standing around for hours on end, basting gently on regulo 7 in a hall stuffed to the rafters with people, loads of tat, some proper good stuff, Michael Aspel and his faithful crew of make up wizards and those hot, hot TV lights ….

My face really was that orange - and yes, I really wasstanding in a pool of sweat the size of Lake Windermere….

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Daily Play – deserving of a good handbagging…

Late at night, when I cannot sleep, I sometimes watch ITV’s post midnight offering ‘The Daily Play’ the crappiest waste of TV space on the box. It basically consists of a failed actor smarm machine, a ‘70’s porn film music track, a phone line and an almost impossible puzzle to solve. I know I’m sad – but it’s the greatest cure for insomnia I know.

It’s all a scam of course. Punters ring up and try to guess the answers….. they shouldn’t bother, they always get it wrong and even if they don’t get through (which is most of the time) ITV still lift nearly 80p from each phone call. They’ve earned millions from such low brow exploitative tat.

You’d think in sophisticated Britain there would be a watchdog looking out for the little guy in such circumstances – well there is, and they’re not happy. Apparently they’ve criticised one of the puzzles in which punters were asked to try and guess the top ten contents of a woman’s handbag… they thought that two of the hidden answers - ‘Rawlplugs’ and a ‘Balaclava’ were perhaps not entirely contextually typical of a laydee’s accoutremental handbaggy make up.

Well, are they typical or are they not? Alfie decided to turn into Private dick, Sam Fabulous to find out. Risking wrath and the imminent loss of some fairly vital bodily parts, I decided to have a butcher’s into Alfreda’s constant companion and see what was within. Hmmm, well that is disappointing. No Rawlplugs, of Balaclavas, just the usual emergency make up kit, diary, purse, a crate of Newcastle Brown, a pair of football boots and Colt 45 Magnum handgun.
Bring back (or dig up) Biddy Baxter….

Blue Peter has been criticised for showing the ritual slaughtering of a goat as part of a festival in Jordan. The goat, or ‘Billy the Cuddly Goat’ as all the kids knew him, had his throat cut from ear to ear and then hung from a tree.

Bit of a bummer really, I expect when Billy heard he was going to star on the show, he must have reckoned he was stepping into Shep’s shoes and join the menagerie that sits with the presenters at the end of the show….. and not be in the kebab butty after it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Climate change, munchkins and new year tomatoes….

Last night, I got back from the Ring ‘o’ Bells pub surprisingly wide eyed and bushy tailed. So much so, I decided to watch a Christmas present DVD – the disaster movie‘The Day After Tomorrow’.

The film is all about climate change – and the scariest of catastrophic climate scenarios: the buggering up of the Gulf Stream – or ‘North Atlantic Current’ as film star Dennis Quaid insisted on calling it. The physics involve billions of tonnes of melt water from the polar ice caps. The water flows on top of the salt sea water, sinks the Gulf Stream to the frozen depths of the ocean – and stops it…..

The warming goodness of the Gulf Stream ends, the whole of western civilisation freezes – and Dennis Quaid ends up the hero. Of course, it’s all a right load of simplistic Hollywood rubbish isn’t it?

Mind you, last night, outside, the weather went uber nuts. Stormy, rainy and tempesty – it reminded me of Munchkins, Kansas, Dorothy and Toto….. But this wasn’t a dust bowled mid-west state, it was soggy Lancashire in January. There were no Munchkins – I hadn’t drunk enough to see any. Our dog, Domino was dead to the world, and I look crap in a gingham dress & ruby red slippers…

But it got me thinking, the seasons are definitely in flux – and after reading about The Birdman’s seasonally weird Ox-Eye daisy encounter, maybe the climate really is changing.

Half way through the film, I pressed ‘pause’ and decided to have a nice ham and tomato sandwich. The ham came from the remaining bits of the hamper my Mum had given me at Christmas. And the tomato? It came all the way from my green house, it was the very last from the crop of 2006 – and I picked it at the weekend… Now that really is climate change.

Maybe we should rename the seasons, get rid of a couple of them as being surplus to requirements…. Just have 2 rather than the 4 we have now. Maybe we could have a competition, suitably sponsored by the Sun…. You could win, win, win big in our special comp to rename the seasons. An executive ‘Gulf Stream’ jet, a luxury Chelsea tractor or your very own coal-powered Power Station could all be yours! Not only that, but the winner will get to plant a tree to help offset his carbon impact! It’s all in your greener, cleaner, environ mental -as-anything Sun, now!

I thought of ‘Strummer’ and ‘Winting’ as my new seasons – a homage to the Clash front man and a subtle and clever fusion of Winter and Spring, brilliant eh?…. Sure fire winners if ever I saw them…. Maybe the weather is going further, sliding into a minging mono season of grey, lukewarmy windy dampness – where the only things we can look forward to is trenchfoot, walking at an angle of 45 degrees and Christmas tomatoes…..

Time will tell.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Antiques Roadshow comes to town…

In mid October, the Antiques Roadshow rolled into a seaside town just 8 or so miles from Alfie Towers. It was a perfect opportunity to get the family jewels valued (so to speak) - then I could have a few angst ridden weeks wondering whether to flog them to the Getty Museum in California for a zillion quid or donate them to a grateful nation…..

This being the UK – and hence unable to organise anything apart from endless heats of the World Queuing Championships, I had to try and think of a way to get my stuff swooned over and valued by a grateful antiques expert and back home in double quick time. Being a person who hates queuing with a passion – let alone with my priceless heirloom, there must be a way to avoid the endless coils of humanity that were sure to be there?

A call to Roadshow HQ in Bristol and a visit from an antiques bod confirmed that my 3 foot high piece of solid Wedgewood was indeed worth taking…. “It’s a pedestal” he said. Unusual colour – have you got the pot that should go on the top?”

“Err, no. It’s a long story”

“Pity. If it had the pot with it – we’d be talking a lot of money …. And that really is an unusual colour all right”….

I’d always thought of it as mustard coloured, but maybe ‘dusky diarrhoea with a hint of Rangoon rim’ would be more accurate.

Just before the antiquarian left, he gave me a ticket – “This will get you straight through to the reception past all the suckers who will be queuing for England. From there you’ll wait around 20 minutes before seeing an expert – get there around half ten and you should be able to just stroll in”.

The day duly arrived and we loaded the Wedgewood pedestal, a nice Victorian music cabinet and the magical yellow ticket into the car and set off. We arrived, found space and prepared for the short walk to Antiquarian nirvana. Mrs A got hold of the music cabinet, I grappled with the pedestal. After about 50 yards, my kidneys felt they were going to burst. The lump of Victorian pottery began to metamorphose into the consistency of lead weight. Sweat is pouring off me.

Up there, along the prom on a very windy Autumnal day, kidneys bursting with my big mustard piece between my legs I must have looked a right berk. Nearing the entrance, two women have just walked out of the theatre doubling up as Antiques Roadshow HQ. As they pass me, their eyes are transfixed on the big mustard column between my legs…. “What an unusual colour…. A bit like baby diarrhoea”….

“It’s mustard. The bloody colour is bloody mustard, OK?”.
“Sorreee! But where’s the pot, if you had the pot it would be worth a lot of money you know”….

I don’t reposte, I’m right out of any reposting. All the breath has been sucked out of me as I waddle through the entrance, straight into Mr Jimmy Jobsworth.

“Straight down and into the theatre and join the queue” he said.

“But we’ve got a ticket – it’s a special, non queuing ticket”

Somehow, I just do not think Mr Jobby was in. The lights were on but what with Eric Knowles, Michael Aspel and Henry Sandon being in town, the elixir of celebrity was surging through his jumped up little body. Nothing this exciting had happened to him since The Krankies had headlined – and he’d been appointed Head of Security for Jimmy Krankie’s school cap. He was on auto-pilot, gears set onto a pompous twat setting…..

“Yes, yes, yes….. down the stairs, through the lobby, on into the theatre and ask someone there. He’ll give you a ticket”…
With that, his finger jabbed down to a sea of humanity in the lobby, all holding their little jewels of antique flotsam, jetsam and crapsam.

We struggle down the stairs and fight our way into the lobby. It’s wall to wall people all standing around. Suddenly, rather alarmingly I realise that these people are in a snaking queue. I’m looking at the longest brick-a-brac conga line in history.

Right in the far corner, we see the entrance to the theatre. A spotty youth with the tickets is there just inside the gloomy entrance. He’s giving out little raffle tickets on a big role. He gives us 6003 and 6004. My heart sank…. “Just sit there at the back, when your number is called you can join the end of the standing queue in the lobby….. Unfortunately, the wait is around 4 hours before you get called”…..

The theatre is swathed in a penumbra of gloom – just like it is before an act is about to come on. I can just make out men in macs, sitting with their original Van Gogh’s and women nursing heirlooms passed down from great aunties and careful grannies……

“So this is a queue – a queue for ‘the queue’ proper then?
“Sright, mister”….

“But we’ve got a special ticket” I pleaded.
In the dim antique grimness of the theatre his eyes locked onto the golden ticket. Golden rays of celeb dust bathed his acne-furrowed face as the magic ticket was waved in front of his eyes.

Suddenly, I knew what it must be like to be a somebody. Suddenly we were whisked away by the spotty kid towards the lobby….

We breezed past the conga queue and into the large side room to a reception desk. This room was where ‘the action’ was. He planted us right at the head of the conga queue…. A few weary queuers started to shout about the unfairness of it all. The very posh lady behind the desk held up our golden ticket and roared to the varicose veined huddled masses in a perfect received English tone “Excuse me, these people have a golden ticket!”

They cowed back in shame.

So this is what Margaret Thatcher is doing in her spare time then? Maggie gave us a big ticket each. Mine said ‘POTTERY’, Alfreda’s ‘FURNITURE’….. We joined our respective mini queues of around half a dozen people each.

I looked round, mini-queues everywhere. Cameras, lights and antique type people all milling around. In the middle of the room was where they did the filming. If someone had a nice piece then they would have to do the talk again in front of camera. Some bloke had brought in a really superb collection of Japanese animal bronzes. Oriental expert David Batty was drooling over them. Then there was the woman with the fantastic 16th century wooden chest….. Away from the filming area, little tables with experts sat back, unwrapped parcels and either made someone’s day or left them devastated. Some woman approached the bloke who was an expert on silver. I recognised him immediately, just then an old crone staggered up to him with three bags of newspaper parcels. She carefully unwrapped her bounty to reveal a shed load of nicked hotel coffee and tea sets. He valued the hoard at about 100 hours community service if the police ever caught up with her.

Finally, it’s my turn – and I’m sat down actually looking at the great ceramics experts, Henry Sandon and his son, John. They inspect the Wedgewood.

“Interesting colour” said Henry. “Rather like…..”
John interjects, “Mmmmmm. Have you got the pot?”

“No, it’s a long story, my sister rolled it down the stairs in our house in 1957 – she was only 6 years old”

Henry winced “Oh that is a pity. Only, if you did have the pot it would be worth maybe 1500 – more if you sold it to the Americans….. As it is, I think we are talking about £400”….

John said he’d heard longer stories than my long story.

Crestfallen, I thanked Henry and John and met up with Alfreda outside. She seemed happy, her tiny little music cabinet was worth at least £800. We struggled back to the car with the stuff. I packed away the useless lump of Wedgewood onto the back seat …… come to think of it, the colour wasn’t mustard at all….. but one thing’s for certain, it wasn’t the colour of money either.

If you get a chance, watch the Antiques Roadshow episode from Southport when it is on. You might see a man in the background with a very red face, burst kidneys, a big yellow ticket in his top pocket - and carrying the biggest lump of solid baby diarrhoea in the world.