Tuesday, 25 March 2014

None so Bold

I remember a time good people, when the English were proud workers
But the man closed all our industries and now he names you shirkers
I remember a time not long ago, when there were oh so many jobs
But the man imported cheap migrant labour and now he calls you slobs
He’s insulted you for years folks, yes he’s treated us all like fools
He’s sold out our great country, following his own sick set of rules
He kowtows to anything foreign, gives his respect to one and all
But the English could be dying and he’d leave you where you fall
He’s sold off our family silver and auctioned off all our gold
But he’d sell his mother’s soul, my friends, to be in the Euro fold
This man his name is quisling, our enemy, our deadly foe
Should’ve put the traitor against a wall and shot him years ago
And our young folks die for nothing, so loyal, brave and true
They died fighting wars from history and sadly they still do
Bullets and bombs they face my friends, courageous to a man
Maimed and killed for freedom, though the man knows it’s a sham
Democracy expired years ago and all justice will soon follow
Though they pretend we still have liberty, their lying words are hollow
The man has back-stabbed our people and stolen all we’ve got
And don’t think that’s by accident, it’s all part of his nasty plot
Like the Romans, soon, the English, consigned to history’s bin
But the man won’t shed the smallest tear, on his face an evil grin
Now little left but fading memories, of glorious feats of old
There were never any as great as us and never none so bold

Friday, 21 March 2014

Whatever Happened to Melody?

I don’t like house, I don’t like rap
I think they’re so much artless crap
They rumble on in a mindless babble
Hypnotising the drugged-up rabble
You don’t need skill, you don’t need a thing
You don’t even have to learn to sing
Shout out loud your list of shopping
As all the while the air you’re chopping
With relentless rhythm and lots of bass
You’ll soon acquire the aggressive face
Shout about killing and shout about drugs
Yelling to a room full of spaced-out mugs
Back to front trousers and a baseball cap
An angry mouth with unstoppable yap
Are all you need in these strange times
Apart from a pill and a couple of lines
I may be getting old, I may be out of touch
But I see more beauty in an elephant’s crutch
They don’t know love, or understand gentle
I think they’re twisted, or possibly mental
I mentioned already that house is crap
So I wrote these words to the rhythm of rap
This is my tribute to their kind of song
Come and pop some E and then sing along
Drugs are good, drugs are good, you know you really should
Drugs are good, drugs are good, you know you really should…

Solemn Vow

Me and drink had some fun times
Like when I fell over, hit my head, broke a rib
Got up to mischief, stayed out too late
But with never a lie, only ever a fib

Fourteen cold lagers on a Friday night
Thirty-seven more up until Monday
In bed till gone two, missed a day’s work
Still drunk, I thought it was Sunday

Drink’s been a stout friend
Supported me through all the troubles of life
Through funerals, weddings, Wednesday night telly
And the problems I had with the wife

I’ve quaffed my share of cider and wine
Drunk sherry and binged on the hard stuff
But when it comes to the old amber nectar
I never could get quite enough

With the juice in my veins I’ve laughed a whole lot
But then probably wept even more
I understand highs and I understand lows
With even keels I’m just not so sure

My constitution not the force it once was
I’m older now, but much wiser too
I know that drink is my enemy
And also exactly what I must do

I’ll give the booze up, I’ll abandon it
Cut it out of my life like a cancer
I will abstain and jump on the wagon
That is the only real answer

No more for me the devil’s brew
No more turning into that bad Mr Hide
No more antics and no more sorrys
A wave of sobriety henceforth I will ride

No more guilt and no more shame
No more agony and no more pain
I will be good and I’ll be nice
I’ll be white bread, I’ll be white rice

I will stay sober for all my tomorrows
And that is my honest vow
As for tonight, I can just catch the offy
But only if I leave you right now…


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Not Heard the Last

Powdered milk and dog-end day, got no money, got no pay.
Got no family, got no wife, but I got trouble and I got strife.
See me coming, head for the hills, turn your backs you Jacks and Jills.
Talk to the window, talk to the wall, glass and bricks don’t hear my call.
Life so pointless makes me yelp, but don’t need pity, expect no help.
Grey the colour, my imprisoned soul, turning black down in this hole.
Can’t face food, eat banana, eat some more, but that’s manana.
Nails long, with unkempt hair, not much matters when in despair.
Heart thump hard, stomach knot, count the blessings I ain’t got.
Live in hope and struggle through, is what they tell me I must do.
Battle on, tho all for nothing, not counting pain, hurt or suffering.
Could friends save me, if still any, who would miss me, not too many.
What thought’s true, oh what is real, will this get worse or start to heal.
Reality become so hazy, twisted thoughts make me crazy.
Mood so bleak, dreams all tattered, how did life leave me so shattered?
So where the loss if I should quit, this life of endless empty shit?
But how could this boy ever quit, deprive you of his sparkling wit?
How could this fine lad ever die, with still this twinkle in his eye?
Why deny you this huge brain by slipping quietly down the drain.
Oh the humour you would miss, without me here to take the piss.
Life's been hard, life's been rough, but it wont beat me, I'm too tough!
Go spread this defiant word, the last of me has not been heard!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Pain is a Pain

Pain! It hurts, doesn’t it? Not a nice sensation at all. When you have pain, you will try anything to take your mind off it, but usually without success. I once had sex in the desperate hope of distracting myself from a particularly head-splitting migraine, but all to no avail. Had to give up after a few minutes or risk vomiting on – on um, nope, her name escapes me – the lady I was with at the time and my raised heart rate and blood pressure simply meant the explosions of agony inside my skull were coming with far greater frequency and with considerably increased force. Yes of course I fancy you, love. It’s not you, it’s me. Now please clear off and leave me to die in peace.
Pain is a good thing, of course. It tells you when you’re ill and makes you ring the doctor, warns you when you’ve twisted your ankle to stop you jogging long enough to bind it up, alerts you to the danger of pressing your face to a dark but scorching hot plate – again – and generally keeps your curious fingers out of lit barbecues and spinning bacon slicers.
Pain and fear of pain makes you careful on stairs, keeps your thumbs out of the way of hammers (most of the time), ensures you remain wary of bare wires even when you’ve been assured they’re no longer live; causes you to snivel and creep your way out of the argument with the big guy who would obviously beat you to a pulp if provoked and generally saves your backside in a myriad of ways.
Pain, however, also has this tendency for excess. Take the pain I had a while ago caused by the abscess which suddenly appeared under my tooth. When I woke up in the morning with the entire left side of my face throbbing mercilessly, it told me in no uncertain terms that something was amiss and also motivated me to get to the dentist with all possible haste. Once alerted to the problem and taking appropriate action, however, surely, job done, pain could have taken its foot off the pedal and eased up on me? It bloody well didn’t, though. In fact, despite popping pain killers and antibiotics like they were going out of fashion, it kept getting worse and worse, to the point where my face swelled into something Popeye-esque and apparently in imminent danger of bursting and I spent half the night with a bag of frozen peas clamped to my jaw, pacing my kitchen muttering: please stop, oh please stop, oh please, please, PLEASE…!
Pain, I’m grateful for the warning and for spurring me to seek professional help, but can you tell me what the purpose is of leaving me trapped on my bed in the foetal position, grizzling like a two-year old with colic and desperately praying to God, begging Him to make the agony end? Where is the logic in making me so completely debilitated, I can’t even think straight? Doesn’t that leave me at increased risk of further pain-causing accidents, like thoughtlessly setting fire to my face instead of my cigarette, or doing up my fly without getting Percy out of harm‘s way first? Isn’t pain supposed to protect me, not lead me senseless and dribbling into otherwise avoidable danger…
Pain should be on a scale of 1 to 10, not 1 to 10 – plus a triple word score and a bonus of fifty pain points for using all of its letters. In deference to tyrant pain, I was unable to do much of anything for 72 hours, including having a shave or a proper wash. My bedding looked like it had been in a tumble drier, but I couldn’t even think about straightening it up and apart from a tin of tomato soup and two custard tarts, I was barely able to feed myself. The pain killers said take with or after food, but I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to get any proper food in it and each tentative chewing motion sent a bolt of lightning up through my nose and straight into my brain, which rather takes away all the pleasure from a soft-boiled egg. But no matter, the pain killers failed to kill any of the pain anyway. Didn’t bring it down by one sodding notch, though enough paracetamol was floating around my system to turn my liver into a single lump of scar tissue.
Pain at that level is utterly counter-productive. How are you supposed to escape the crocodile that just bit your foot off if the initial pain paralyses you? How are you supposed to fight off the bully if his first punch makes you curl up on the floor and weep gentle tears of self-pity? How are you supposed to seek treatment when your broken legs won’t take you anywhere and your smashed hands can’t dial 999? And how are you supposed to brush your teeth and attend to your dental hygiene when your jaw line, stretched to Mini Driver proportions, won’t let you open your mouth wide enough to get the brush in?
Pain, therefore, has a sadistic streak and will pointlessly jack up your torment levels just because it can, watching you miserably squirming for its own warped entertainment. Pain was either invented by Mother Nature who, too busy dragging Father Nature around shoe shops, cares not one jot for the suffering of her creatures, or by a vengeful God with a twisted sense of humour, whom I personally wished to have a very stiff word with, but as the only sounds I could squeeze from between my tortured gums were groans and whimpers, I was forced to put His telling off on hold.
Pain begins each paragraph of this essay in order to reflect the rhythmic pulse of raging hurt which, as I sat down to write this, continued to torture my rearmost molar, as well as my jawbone, cheek, eye, ear, throat, tongue and the top of my head. What has the top of my head got to do with my blasted tooth? What?
Pain, though it pained me to say it through swollen lips, is quite simply an occasional friend with a permanent mean streak. As for my damaged sciatic nerve, now that really is a pain in the bum.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Third Party?

If you get attacked, they say it was by a third party. If someone is found dead in suspicious circumstances, they say they believe a third party may have been involved. And when you buy car insurance, you get third party fire and theft.
What I want to know is, where the blazes was the second party while all this was going on? The third party always gets the blame and even if the second party is entirely innocent, how come they never come forward as a witness?
I bet the second party had something to do with stuffing that spy chap into the holdall, but no one even suggested the possibility. The third party was briefly suspected, but now they say he got into the bag on his own (even though many tried to repeat the act and failed even to get their legs in) and also magically zipped it shut and padlocked it on the outside – all without leaving a trace of his DNA on the zip or the lock.
I reckon this is one instance where the second and third party were working together. Yet another cover up by the fourth party and we all know exactly who those swine are.
Anyway, on a different matter, who is this Benjamin bloke? I’ve never heard of him, which is surprising, given that he apparently owns the net and yahoo.
Think about it.
In your own time…

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Recipe for a Human Being

Amazingly, the recipe needed to create a human being consists of the following:
Enough water to fill a ten gallon barrel.
Enough fat for ten bars of soap.
Enough carbon for nine thousand lead pencils.
Enough phosphorous for two thousand two hundred match heads.
Enough iron for one medium-sized nail.
Enough lime to whitewash a chicken coop.
Plus small quantities of magnesium, sulphur and other odds and ends.
Funny thing is, when I gathered together the above shopping list and dropped it into a bath of water, fuck all happened. It just lay in the bottom of the tub for two weeks looking like a pile of old rubbish. Even staring at it for hours on end pretending I had magical powers didn't help.
And the nail went rusty.
I even tried chucking a party bucket of fried chicken in with it all just in case that might supply the missing chemical link, but still nothing. Two sachets of black pepper and a lemon wet wipe haven’t made a bit of difference either.
Bang goes my plans for growing an army in Mum’s bathtub and world domination.
I don’t know where I’m going wrong.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

In Our Underpants

One day, our drama teacher, Mr Druff, gathered the class around him and told us, “Today, boys and girls, you are all going to pretend to be evil, disgusting trolls. I will be playing the part of a handsome prince on a quest and you will be attacking me, attempting to prevent me from crossing your bridge and carrying out my heroic task. You will surround me, snuffling and growling, whereupon I will produce this length of two by four and proceed to bash the crap out of the lot of you.
“And there’s no point trying to get away. I’ve locked the hall door. Scream all you want Scroggins. No one is going to hear you. Now let the slaughter commence!”
Clearly this is another of my tall tales, but at least the evil troll-clubbing scenario might have been a tad less humiliating than having to pretend to be trees waving in the breeze – IN OUR FRIGGING UNDERPANTS for crying out why-do-you-think-children-have-no-sense-of-modesty-or-any-dignity-to-crush loud!
Naturally, had I continued with this fantasy, Mr Druff would have turned out to be called Dan. I suspect, gentle reader, you would have had trouble coping with more sophisticated, cerebral humour and would have only been too grateful that I’d slipped in an obvious gag sufficiently intellectually undemanding for you to “get it”. Bet you didn’t spot the foregoing split infinitive, either. Special school didn’t work for you, did it.
Don’t worry, though, being as thick as pig effluent doesn’t make you a bad person. Painfully tedious and rather irritating company, perhaps, but that’s another story. One that would necessitate ending with “piddle off, you brain dead mollusc”.
Good day sir!
By the way, the split infinitive came in: “would have only been too grateful”. “Have been” is the infinitive and placing “only” in the middle is the split. It should be either “only have been” or “have been only”. As for the crew of the Enteprise, “to boldly go” is another split infinitive. Boldly to go, or to go boldly, is correct usage. And if you have the wrong colour shirt on and no speaking lines, to boldly go down to the planet, is also really dumb because you will certainly die and be looking for a cereal advert next day to try and pay your rent.
Well, who would have thought reading this trash would end up teaching you something about English grammar. Not that I’m a pedant, peasants

Friday, 14 March 2014

Practical Jokery

I haven’t done a whole lot of practical jokery in my life, but when I decided to, they were doozies, as you are about to hear.
My first victim was my older sister, Shirley. My Dad summed up my relationship with Shirley as, “you two are always fighting like cat and dog.” This was true, but I was the innocent in all of it because Shirley was both a bully and a snitch.
In fact, Shirley bullied me when I was too small to fight back, but when I grew big enough to get her in a headlock and rub dirty socks in her face, she switched to the tactic of getting me into trouble with my mum at every possible opportunity – which wasn’t difficult with mum delighting in slagging me off and nagging me senseless every moment I was in her company. That’s what being raised a Catholic did for her.
I remember, when I was around seven and she was thirteen, my dear sister folding a thin mattress in half like a sandwich, turning me into the filling, and then jumping up and down on it. She was a lump, my sister, and soon developed into a young woman with a forty-two inch bust, with a barrel body to match. Five feet two and at least fourteen stone if she was an ounce, meant her using me as a trampoline was no joke.
Then there was the time she knelt on me and repeatedly rubbed her knuckles spitefully on my wishbone, not even desisting after she had managed to make me cry. Or the time she pinned me down and roughly tickled me until I was screaming for mercy. There was nothing playful about it, just tickling way too hard and with nothing but malice. Bullying cow that she was.
Anyway, a few years on, I took my revenge on her in a most creative way. At the time, we lived in an old Victorian house that had provided a few creepy and inexplicable events already, which made my prank all the more effective (and terrifying).
The family were all sitting watching TV one Sunday night and luckily for me, the first to need a toilet break was Shirley. As she headed off into the hall and down the stairs to the bathroom on the landing below, I could barely contain my glee.
You see, what I had figured out was that the toilet chain to the overhead cistern just about reached the door jamb. Thus, I had pulled the toilet chain and then backed from the room, pinning the chain handle in place with the door. Shirley duly arrived outside the loo – in a hallway lit only by the light filtering down from the kitchen – pushed open the door to the unlit bathroom and then let out a blood-curdling shriek as the toilet mysteriously flushed itself and the chain swung violently back and forth clanging against the cistern pipe.
She was a big lass was our Shirley, but she proved she could move at some speed when necessary, and she came hurtling back up the stairs, screaming all the way, bursting back into the living room howling and crying, face gone so red it was almost purple. A gibbering wreck, she managed to explain what had just frightened the living crap out of her, only to have my dad dismiss the whole thing as nonsense. A toilet didn’t just flush itself, so she must have imagined the whole thing.
How I kept a straight face through all this and not give away my own involvement in this “supernatural” event, I will never know. Thereafter, for several weeks, Shirley refused to go to the toilet at night unless someone accompanied her and I never did own up, leaving her convinced a toilet flushing ghost resided in our bathroom.
After a good bit of time had passed, Shirley finally calmed down and began braving toilet visits on her own once more. Well, that is, until I did it to her again!
Bruhahaha and other evil noises. Teach her to mess with me.
My next victims were two of my friends. At the time, I was living with a mate and his family, my loving mother having kicked me out at age sixteen. Again, this was a somewhat spooky old house, which lent itself very well to the prank I had lined up.
I was the only one at home at the time, but expecting my mate and his younger brother to turn up at any moment. In preparation, I dressed myself up, switched all the lights off and lay in wait. On my head I had a fright wig, in my mouth a set of plastic fangs. I then put a black crombie overcoat on back to front and slipped a torch into the neckline so it would shine its light up across my face, casting all sorts of eerie shadows.
I didn’t have long to wait and a few minutes later, I heard a key go into the front door and peering through the banisters at the top of the stairs, watched as the two lads came into the front hall. They were no sooner in than I made my scary appearance at the top of the stairs, torch shining across my face and glinting off my fake fangs, arms outstretched in front of me zombie-like.
As soon as they spotted me, I began to shamble down the stairs, emitting a low growling from my throat. For a long moment, they froze where they were, eyes wide, mouths dropping open, then the pair of them took off at a lick even a scalded hare couldn’t have competed with. Getting the door open only delayed them for half a second and then they were off down the path and through the garden gate, with me in hot pursuit in a loping side-to-side run that would have made Igor proud.

Passers by looked on at all this with expressions of either bewilderment or amusement depending on whether they realised they were witnessing some silly youthful shenanigans and not anything more sinister. We hadn’t gone more than a few yards before my two mates regained their senses and realised it was me chasing them and not the horrific apparition they’d first thought me to be, but by then they were so spooked, they kept right on running.
Truth be told, my hair was standing on end as well, so though I knew it was me under that fright wig, I had somehow managed to even frighten myself. Finally, the three of us came to a breathless halt, me gasping for air and laughing, them gasping for air, calling me rude names and vowing they would pay me back. They did try, bless them, but they never did get me as good as I got them that night.
Then comes victim number three. I was in my mid twenties by now and working as a tube driver on the Bakerloo line. One day, one of my colleagues was riding up front with me on his way to pick up his own train further up the line. Peter, his name was.

Peter was slim, blond and quite a handsome chap. That aside, he was also a dirty sod. He collected porn films and I mean seriously collected, to the point where he would travel to Holland armed with a list of titles he couldn’t buy in Britain and smuggle them back home. Had a whole wardrobe full of them, apparently. This was at a time before the porn explosion went off in the UK and aside from girlie mags, there was little else on offer for the smut aficionado and not even any internet filth to drool over.
Now, in the old 1938 rolling stock, the driver’s door invariably had a small hole where some screw had fallen out over the years and when bored (which was all of the time) the drivers would have a peer through the hole at the passengers, generally in the hope of spotting some good looking woman or other.
Well, a cunning plan struck me. Pure devilment. While Peter chatted away to me, I leaned down and began peeping through the hole in the door and after a moment or two, I said “wow” followed by a low whistle. Breaking off in mid sentence, Peter looked down at me. “What?” he said. “There’s this bird sitting just outside,” I said, “and I can see right up her skirt.”
“Let’s have a look,” he said, interest instantly peeked.
“Hang on a second,” I said. “Blimey, she’s got suspenders on and everything. Cor!”
“Come on. Let me have a look,” Peter repeated, tugging at my shoulder.
Pretending to be reluctant, I sat up and made way for him, whereupon he dropped to one knee and with his hands either side of his face to steady himself against the door, put his eye to the hole. The second he was in this position, I reached up, turned the handle and swung the door open.
What a tableau! Peter on his knees peering through a hole in a door that was no longer in front of him and a packed carriage full of passengers all swivelling their heads to stare in his direction, wondering what on earth he was doing. For a painfully embarrassing second, Peter remained kneeling in front of his confused audience, but when the penny dropped, he leapt up and backwards to dodge from sight.
Um, that’s when my joke went a bit wrong, because Peter jumped back with such force, he crunched his head against a piece of overhead equipment and blood started to pour down the side of his face. Actually, it went more than just a bit wrong, because Pete had to book off duty and go to the hospital for stitches.
Peter was not best pleased with me, to say the least. I lost count of the times I offered up grovelling apologies, but all to no avail. He never forgave me, rarely spoke to me again, even after years had passed, and on the odd occasion that he did, it was in a clipped staccato that let me know offering me even the smallest communication was painful to him.
I couldn’t have foreseen what was going to happen, of course, and it was so damned funny, I didn’t feel as badly about it as I perhaps should. All my other mates on the job thought it was bloody hilarious when I told them what I’d done and knowing them, I dare say they ribbed him about it mercilessly. Might be that was what stopped him from forgiving and forgetting, in fact, rather than the initial incident.
Obviously I’m sorry he cut his scalp open, but I wouldn’t have missed seeing him kneeling there, hands pushing against an invisible door, one eye shut and the other peering through a small hole that had suddenly turned into an open doorway. If only there had been camera phones at the time…
If Carlsberg played practical jokes, they’d be the best practical jokes in the world.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Good Samaritan

Day One: There’s a hostel for the homeless near where I live. I pass by it most days and today I noticed that a lot of those housed there appear to be asylum seekers. Must be terrible being forced to leave behind all of your possessions and everything you ever knew. Feel so sorry for those poor, desperate people. They’ve got nothing.
Day Two: Couldn’t get to sleep last night for worrying about the refugees in that dirty council hostel. The place is so grubby, you can smell it even when you are on the other side of the road. Apparently, they can be in there for many months before they are finally re-housed. Felt rather guilty knowing that I’ve got more room than I need while they are forced to stay all crammed up in that unhealthy place. Anyway, I was eating breakfast when I came to a decision. I’m going to try to befriend some of them later and see if anyone wants to rent a room from me. I’ll only charge a nominal rent so they have a chance to get on their feet and find a place of their own. I feel I must do something, seeing as how I’m relatively privileged and they have so little.
Day Three: I got chatting with one of the refugees on my way home tonight. His name is Ahmed and he seemed like a really polite and humble guy. He said he had to leave his country because his life was in danger. Shocking tale. Anyway, I told him I had a spare room for rent and he seemed very keen. He’s coming round tomorrow (Saturday) to take a look and discuss rent and such like. I will keep it as low as I can, but I’m not that well off myself, so he will obviously have to cover his share of the bills.
Day Four: Ahmed loved the room so much he’s already moved in. I said we would celebrate to mark the occasion. He doesn’t drink because of his religion, so I said I would cook a nice meal instead. I said I didn’t know where the nearest halal butcher was, but he told me the local fried chicken place is all halal, so I bought a party bucket and we had a bit of a feast. Ahmed was really grateful and apologised profusely when I explained to him that throwing the bones on the carpet wasn’t really the done thing.
Day Five: Ahmed told me his wife is due to arrive tomorrow. I hadn’t realised he was married. I’m worried that the room I’m renting him is a bit small for a couple and I hadn’t bargained on more than one person, but I can hardly say no and keep them apart. Anyway, it’s only a temporary arrangement and I’m sure he will soon get off benefits and be able to find a place for him and his missus. We’ll all rub along, I expect.
Day Six. Ahmed’s wife arrived from the airport by taxi this afternoon. Actually, I should say “wives”. He has two of them. He said he thought he’d made it clear and was very sorry I had misunderstood. I don’t really agree with men having more than one wife, but I guess it’s a cultural thing and I‘ll just have to accept it. This is a bit of a problem, but I’ve rented the room to him now and he can’t go back to the hostel, so I guess I’ll just have to put up with it for the time being. Ahmed didn’t have any money left from his giro, so I had to pay the cab driver. Sixty bloody quid! Ouch! I could have done without that, what with it being the middle of the month, but I dare say he’ll pay me back as soon as he can.
Day Seven: When I got home this evening, I found Ahmed and his wives had moved my stuff to the box room and installed themselves in my room. He said he thought I wouldn’t mind as I was such a nice man and he knew how bothered I had been having the three of them in such a cramped space. I felt a bit put out at first, but I guess it does make more sense this way and I don’t really need a double bed. Can hardly expect all three of them to sleep in a single bed.
Day Eight: The single bed has been moved into my old bedroom and there is a camp bed in the box room now. The double bed wasn’t big enough for the three of them, apparently. Ahmed said he got the camp bed from a second-hand shop. I asked him where he’d found the money to pay for it, but he said the shop is owned by his cousin who didn’t mind waiting for the money. I was rather annoyed, but Ahmed and his wives thanked me so much and so warmly for all I’d done to help them, I felt too guilty to say anything. The camp bed isn’t that uncomfortable, I suppose, no point falling out over it.
Day Nine: Ahmed just told me his giro wasn’t there when he went to collect it, so would I mind waiting for the rent. I did mind because having paid out for the cab that brought his wives, I was short of cash myself. Still, if he hasn’t got it, he hasn’t got it. Can’t get blood from a stone, after all, I’ll just have to rely on my overdraft. Hate doing that with all the money the bank charges me for the privilege, but I’ve got to get to work and buy lunches and such, so not got much choice really.
Day Ten: Came home to find five children in the house. I thought they were visiting relatives, but when it got late and they still hadn’t left, I asked Ahmed whose kids they were and got a bit of a shock when he said they were his. He looks too young to have so many children. Apparently they had been staying with an auntie, but she had told Ahmed she couldn’t keep them anymore because she didn’t have enough room and her husband was getting very cross about it. I’ve only got one thin blanket on my bed now because all the bedding I had was needed to give the kids a place to sleep. They’re all over the living room floor now, snoring their little heads off. I’ve put two coats on my bed, but I’m still cold. Think I’ll leave my socks on tonight.
Day Eleven: I’ve had to move my bed into the hallway. Ahmed said they needed a place to pray and have turned the box room into a prayer room. I was quite cross about it, but he said they would all go to hell if they didn’t do their five prayers each day and what can you say to that? The sooner Ahmed finds a job and a flat for them all to move into, the better. I don’t like to be uncharitable, but I’m getting a lot more than I’d bargained for. I rented my room to one guy and now I’m living with eight of them and as his wives are both pregnant, I’m keeping my fingers crossed they will have moved on before the place is full of stinking nappies.
Day Twelve: There’s an old woman sleeping on my camp bed in the hall. Ahmed said he was very sorry for taking such a liberty, but the old woman was his first wife’s mother and she had been driven out of her rented room by racist abuse. I was going to put my foot down, but he told me she had a heart problem and needed her daughter to care for her. Well, I could hardly throw the woman out. Didn’t want her death on my conscience, after all. There was nothing else for it, so I got my sleeping bag out of the loft and made a bed up in the garden shed. It’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s quite roomy and at least there is a small oil heater that keeps it reasonably warm.
Day Thirteen: Had to have a shower at work today. My bath was full of wee-soaked sheets soaking in bleach. Couple of the kids are bed wetters, apparently, though I‘m a bit suspicious the old woman might have had something to do with it as well. Wouldn’t be so bad, but I’ve noticed the living room carpet has some mysterious stains on it too. What with all their cooking as well, my place is starting to smell pretty rank. Ahmed’s two wives and mother in law have all started wearing black from head to foot, complete with veils. Can’t tell one from the other now and Ahmed has asked me if I wouldn’t mind refraining from talking to them as in his culture, women are not supposed to fraternise with men other than direct family and husbands. Seems a touch backward to me, but if that’s their way, I’ll just have to accommodate him. Not really got much to talk with them about, I guess, and those disembodied eyes peering at me are rather unnerving anyway.
Day Fourteen: Ahmed said he was very sorry, but his giro had failed to turn up for a second week and he was working on getting it sorted out. While he was explaining and apologising, there was a knock on the door and when I opened it, a very large Asian man was standing there and he started shouting at me immediately. “You must pay! You must pay!” he bellowed, waving his fist menacingly. I turned to Ahmed with a querying look, but he had gone.
Well, feeling rather intimidated, I managed to calm the man down and in broken English he explained that he wanted the money for the camp bed. I was taken aback to say the least seeing as how I hadn’t even bought the bed from him and was now sleeping in the shed anyway, but he was so aggressive, I got a bit scared and took him to the bank machine with me where I drew out the money and paid him off. One hundred and ten pounds he took from me! The bed wasn’t even worth half that, but with him towering over me, scowling, I thought it best to pay up and swallow it.
Day Fifteen: They’ve changed the locks and I can’t get into my flat. No amount of banging on the door would get them to answer and when a neighbour shouted from their window that they would call the police if I didn’t stop, I slunk away to my garden shed and lay in my sleeping bag all night, staring at the roof and wondering what the hell I was going to do. I’d got myself into a real pickle and was worried sick.
Day Sixteen: Woke up in a puddle. It had rained hard during the night and my shed wasn’t as water proof as I thought it was. I got up – damp all over and feeling stiff – and after knocking on the door again and getting no answer, I forlornly walked to a local cafe for breakfast. I had to ring work and tell them I couldn’t make it. My boss wasn’t well pleased, but what else could I do?
After using the cafe loo and washing my face with a wet paper towel, I walked to a local advice centre to see what on earth I could do to get back into my home. It was closed and boarded up. A passer-by told me it had shut some months ago due to cutbacks. He said there were three advice centres on the high street, but as one was for Bangladeshis, one for Pakistanis and the other was something to do with gay rights, he didn’t think they would give me the time of day.
Day Seventeen: I found an advice centre in Holborn by using the library Internet. Luckily, it was open on Saturdays. I had to walk there and back to save money. My overdraft is close to its limit and I don’t get paid for another week and need to be really careful. The advice people told me I would have to ask my landlord to start eviction proceedings, which could take anything up to six months or even a year, but until then there was nothing I could do and if I forced my way in, I could be arrested for breaking and entering.
When I got home, there was a caravan in my garden with a fat gypsy woman sitting outside. I asked her what on earth she thought she was doing parking her van in my garden, but a mean-faced gypsy bloke came out with a baseball bat and told me to piss off. He was scary looking and covered in scars and tattoos, so I locked myself in the shed and shivered the night away. The oil heater had run dry, my sleeping bag was still wringing wet and all I could do was squat in the corner of the shed and try to doze.
Day Eighteen: Not much to report. Still no answer to my knocking, so no Sunday dinner for me today. Big Mac and fries was the best I could do. Had to kill time wandering about the shopping centre and then spent another long, miserable night in the shed.
Day Nineteen: I didn’t get to sleep until first light and then I overslept and was late for work. My boss called me into the office and sacked me. He said I’d been late three times in the last six months and taking Friday off had been the final straw, so he was letting me go. He said I was too scruffy and smelly to allow into the showroom anyway and no amount of pleading would change his mind. I left his office stunned and wandered the streets for hours until finally, realising I hadn’t eaten all day, I decided to get my last bit of cash out and buy some food. Bank charges had taken me over my limit without me realising, however, and the machine swallowed my card. I had less than a quid left to my name and had to suffer the humiliation of asking the man in the chip shop if he could do me a small portion of chips for ninety pence. Grudgingly, he agreed, but looked at me like something he’d trodden in and I could feel my cheeks burning with shame.
Day Twenty: After another miserable night in the shed, kept awake by the cold and by loud, drunken singing and laughter coming from the gypsy caravan, I walked to my landlord’s offices on the other side of town and explained to him that I had been locked out of my own flat and needed him to get the people responsible evicted. He said he would look into it, but also said I had sublet without his permission and only had myself to blame.
Outside, one of his employees was leaning against the wall smoking. “You’ve got yourself in a mess, ain’t you mate”, he said. I nodded, feeling close to tears. “He won’t evict them, you know,” he said. I asked why not and he explained that my landlord would be getting more rent for the flat as there were now nine people living there.
Well, I thought about going back into the office and shouting the odds, but in deep shock, I just ambled away instead and headed home. By the time I got back – after walking for what seemed like endless miles – it was quite late and being dog weary, I figured, despite being half-starved and chilled to the bone, I would at least be able to get some sleep.
Wasn’t to be. My sleeping bag was gone. In fact, the shed was gone, as were all my border plants, my watering can and the lawn. Even louder drunken laughter and singing was coming from the gypsy caravan, so it didn’t take Columbo to work out who had nicked all my stuff and flogged it.
Day Twenty One: I slept on a park bench. I’ve never been so cold, hungry and desperate in my life. I was woken by a police officer who told me to move along. I explained to him what had happened to me and he suggested I present myself at the council offices and tell them I was homeless.
I took his advice, but after queueing for several hours to see someone and laying out my whole sorry tale, I was curtly told there was nothing they could do for me and as I wasn’t in a vulnerable category, I wasn’t their responsibility. I said what about the hostel just around the corner from where I’ve been living? “That’s not for people like you,” she said haughtily. “That’s designated for asylum seekers only.”
Day Twenty Two: I woke up on another park bench, but didn’t get moved on this time. It had rained again and I was soaked to the skin and could feel a cold coming on. I figured I would have to go back to the advice centre in Holborn and see if there was anything they could do to help me.
It was a very long walk, though, and not having eaten in two days, before I’d gone half a mile, I felt sick, light-headed and dizzy. By chance, I had to go past the kitchen showroom where, until two days ago, I had been employed as a salesman. Passing the window, I glanced in and almost collapsed in shock. Ahmed was inside, wearing one of my suits and my tie and he was obviously showing a couple a fitted kitchen. As I stood there, mouth agape, one of my old colleagues came along carrying a sandwich bag and a cup of tea. “Sorry to hear you got the bullet mate,” he said. “The governor has already employed someone else,” he shook his head ruefully. “Him!” I spluttered, pointing through the glass at Ahmed. “That’s right,” he nodded. “Crafty old sod has employed him on minimum wage.”
Day Twenty Three: At least the police cell was warm and had a padded bench to sleep on. They gave me a cup of tea in the morning and said they were letting me off with a caution. They warned me that if I went back to my old place of work, I would be arrested for stirring up racial hatred. I vaguely remember being dragged from the showroom, shouting my throat raw and struggling, but can’t for the life of me recall a word of what I’d been saying.
I’m back on my park bench now. A kindly lady gave me a sandwich and a can of cola. Keep me going for now, but I’ve got no idea what I will do tomorrow.
I feel pretty sorry for myself. I’ve got nothing now and no one is offering me asylum. I don’t think I can keep my journal for much longer, either. This pen is starting to run out of ink and probably won’t work for much longer. It’s raining again and starting to get dark now and I

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tax, Tax and More Tax

Tobacco kills. They spend millions warning us it does, millions on studies to show it does, millions on pictures showing the hideous results to put us off doing it, but do they ban it? Nope. They tax it. They tell us we shouldn’t be doing it or inflicting passive smoking on others because it gives them cancer of the face and they provide terrifying pictures to prove it. But do they ban it, I ask again? No. Why? Because they want the tax revenue, because many of them work for the tobacco companies and because they don’t really give a flying fig whether you die or not just as long as they are raking in the tax money.
Ken Clarke works for a tobacco company that pushes cigarettes to children in Africa, laying on free music festivals to attract them where they can have cigarettes given to them to get them hooked in a cool place with cool sounds. He would spout about how bad it is over here, but he is a pusher in the third world, just as bad as any crack seller. That Dragon bloke, Duncan Bannatyne, fronted a very illuminating documentary about all this a couple of years back and, apparently, the tobacco company Clarke works for actually gives free cigarettes to local shops in Africa so they can hand them out to kids to get them addicted nice and early and create millions of life long customers – and tax payers. When confronted by Bannatyne with the evidence, cuddly Ken put his head down, refused to say a word, scuttled away like the parasitic insect he is and fled in his chauffeur driven limo.
Marijuana is a plant and so is tobacco and both have good effects as well as bad (cigs help prevent Alzheimer’s and dope eases pain, etc), but are you allowed to grow either one without being arrested? No. You can’t grow marijuana because they can’t tax it and you can’t grow tobacco because they – yep – can’t tax it. One is illegal and one isn’t but you are not allowed to grow either, but only because they can’t tax it.
If they could make growing tomatoes in your garden illegal, they would, and in places they are already trying to. And why? Because they can’t tax home grown food, or profit from it, or genetically Frankenstein it before you consume it.
So who are these people? What gives them the right to say I can smoke tobacco and pay tax on it, but I can’t grow it? Tobacco is just leaves, after all, so why am I not allowed to grow some in my garden? Who made them God and said I can get lung cancer from smoking, but only if I pay the manufacturers of it, plus the tax on top? Who said they are right to tell me not to smoke a joint, but they can go to their tax-free bar and swallow brandy until their brains are addled?
Who gave them any of these rights? Not me, was it you? If they could legalise cannabis and tax it, they would do it tomorrow, but it’s a sore point with their blue-rinse supporters and the companies they all work for can’t control it, so no way will they let you have a crafty puff they haven’t profited from.
The CIA are said by many to be the biggest drug runners on the planet and our lot pretend to be fighting drugs, but the truth is they only fight the drugs they can’t control, tax, or profit from. Look at some of the terrible side effects of legal drugs, but that’s ok because the drug companies are raking in huge profits from them. Thalidomide anyone?
In the past I smoked dope a thousand times and I’ve been drunk ten thousand times. What was the difference? None of it was big or clever (downright stupid, in fact) and probably did me no good at all, but when I used to puff, apart from not waking up with a headache, I wasn’t paying tax to the criminals who run the world and that’s why they don’t like it. Get cheap fags from abroad, do they take them off you at customs because they will make you ill, of course not. They take them because you haven’t paid them enough tax.
This was written about America, but it applies all over…
Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table, At which he’s fed. Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule. Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts anyway! Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat. Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt. Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think. Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries Tax his tears. Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax his ass. Tax all he has Then let him know That you won’t be done Till he has no dough. When he screams and hollers; Then tax him some more, Tax him till He’s good and sore. Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he’s laid… Put these words Upon his tomb, ‘Taxes drove me to my doom…’ When he’s gone, Do not relax, Its time to apply The inheritance tax. Accounts Receivable Tax Building Permit Tax CDL license Tax Cigarette Tax Corporate Income Tax Dog License Tax Excise Taxes Federal Income Tax Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) Fishing License Tax Food License Tax Fuel Permit Tax Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon) Gross Receipts Tax Hunting License Tax Inheritance Tax Inventory Tax IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax) Liquor Tax Luxury Taxes Marriage License Tax Medicare Tax Personal Property Tax Property Tax Real Estate Tax Service Charge Tax Social Security Tax Road Usage Tax Recreational Vehicle Tax Sales Tax School Tax State Income Tax State Unemployment Tax (SUTA) Telephone Federal Excise Tax Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax Telephone State and Local Tax Telephone Usage Charge Tax Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Watercraft Registration Tax Well Permit Tax Workers Compensation Tax STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY? Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
Got a spare bedroom, they’re even taxing those now. Many years ago, they had a window tax, so even free sunlight was taxed. See many old buildings with bricked up windows, well the window tax is why they bricked them up. Maybe you should brick up your spare bedroom and pretend it doesn’t exist…

Monday, 10 March 2014

Me and My Bird

Girls, ladies, women folk, Mrs, Miss and even bloody Ms which is impossible to even attempt to say without looking and sounding like a complete twonk, I am going to tell you about my bird. My pet cockatiel bird, that is, not my girlfriend type bird, touchy.
Anyway, I’m going to tell you about her, about our story, me and my bird, and you girls will weep buckets. Lots of men will too and not only the gay ones. Face it fellows, we cry at toilet roll adverts and women get drunk and kick bloke’s heads in outside curry houses before puking and passing out in the gutter. It’s a topsy-turvy world, lads. Oh yes. But if Naomi Campbell spat on my face or punched me, I would slap her good and hard. A line must be drawn somewhere.
Anyway, I was walking home from a shopping trip on my birthday in 2003. It was February the twelfth, should you wish to put notes in your diaries re cards and expensive gifts. I had been broke for a long time and having had a small windfall, and as I was starting to look like a hobo, and given it was my birthday (Feb 12th) and as I was alone with no family or friends and would be getting sod all from anyone, not so much as a cake nor a candle, I decided to treat myself to a few new togs. Items of apparel, don’t you know Mary Poppins.
Well, on the way back from my shopping trip, I was passing my local pub and feeling a bit sad and lonely, I decided to pop in for a beer. It was a wet, cold, very grey, blustery day and the warmth of the pub seemed as good a refuge as any and I thought a little company may just raise my spirits too. And it was my bloody birthday (12th Feb in case I haven’t mentioned it). I deserved a drink.
Inside I found the middle-aged owner with a face like his poodle had just died from being cooked in a sad but funny chinese restaurant misunderstanding, two blokes who had clearly been killed by their first sip of warm bitter and a sleeping dog. There was no music, the heating wasn’t high enough to keep the chill out, leaving the place colder than the pint in front of me and the landlord was amusing himself by scrolling through teletext on the TV over the bar. Definitely no dancing-girls or even any jolly cockney banter. Happy birthday, Tony, I thought, welcome to hell’s waiting room.
Ten minutes into all this frivolity but before the froth had died on my pint of chemicals, the door swung open - like a scene from some hammer horror film – and swept by rain, wet leaves and burger wrappers, this guy popped his head in and said:
“There’s a parrot out here”.
I looked at the dead men in the corner, misery behind the bar looked at me, the dog woke up and looked at all of us, and our eyes all said the same thing – he has got to be taking the flipping michael!
“No, really,” the bloke said, obviously hearing the disbelief our eyes were saying. “There’s a parrot out here”.
So I said, go on then, I’ll fall for it and walked outside.
Get the tissues out boys, this is the first tearful bit. I’m going already and I’ve heard it before. On the wet pavement huddled this bedraggled, sodden, shivering little mite and being a big soft touch my heart went out to her. I realised she was all in and wouldn’t see out the night, so I scooped her up, took her inside and put her into an empty crisp box supplied by mine host. After downing my birthday pint in one and bandaging my fingers and stemming the blood from her frantic beak attacks, I took her home.
At first I cobbled together a cage out of a big cardboard box with thin sticks for bars. Then, a couple of days later, I built her quite a cool cage out of scavenged stuff – a kitchen cupboard, a bamboo bookcase and twigs from the local park – mainly doing so because I still had flip all money and couldn’t afford a cage. I could buy a “proper” one now, but she seems happy in her modified cupboard so why disturb her? I still don’t have much cash anyway and my birthday has just been and gone again (Feb 12th), and I needed my few pennies for a celebratory packet of biscuits and a pint of meths.
She has been with me now for over 11 years. She has gone from a depressed, skinny, half tail-less and mistrustful bird, to a happy, cocky little nut case. Mostly she is to be found on my shoulder, nibbling at my ears. She loves me she does. So she bloody should. Be dead if it wasn’t for me…
She comes and goes as she pleases from her cupboard cage and has the run of the place. A ceaseless flow of bird poo and several million molted feathers are my enemy!
Her name is B.B.
B.B. stands for Birthday Bird.
She just whistled to me.
If you’re not crying by now, you’re a hard-hearted cow. Yes, you too Kirk! I know you’re not gay, just stop blubbering.
And no I’m not homophobic, before anyone starts chucking their toys out of their pram. Arachnophobic yes, homophobic no. So if you are gay, but refrain from growing eight legs and scuttling across my carpet, I have no problem with you. Otherwise, it’s the rolled up newspaper for you my gay leggy friend.
If she and I survive for another 2 years, BB will become my longest ever relationship. Well, apart from my childhood cat, Ginger, who was also rescued from the street, but by my equally soft-hearted dad.
Ginger, linked with my mother’s maiden name, makes my porn star name “Ginger King”. Just thought you’d like to know that. It doesn't work with BB because a certain blues singer already took the moniker BB King about forty years ago.
... Sadly, after weeks of being ill, with the Blue Cross unable to help due to her having an enlarged heart, BB seemed to perk right up for a couple of days, but yesterday she suddenly took a turn for the worse and last night my lovely little baby died in my hands. Though I knew she was gone, I couldn't put her down for a good hour and just sat stroking her as though she was still with me.

God rest you my loving, tiny friend. When my tears finally stop, I will never forget you. For years, you were my only companion and you gave me affection even when I was grumpy and shouted at you to shut up when you were chirping non-stop. I will miss those sounds now. I will miss tickling your little neck and you snuggling up behind my ear and nuzzling me. I will miss you sitting on my shoulder and turning into a little beggar whenever you knew there was food about. I will miss you being there in the morning and miss saying goodnight to you before bed. I will even miss you biting my ear to remind me your food bowl was empty.

Birthday Bird, for as many of those as I have left, I will raise a glass to you. Sleep tight little one.  

Saturday, 8 March 2014

But for the Grace

That person in the doorway, unkempt, with straggly hair
Perhaps he is a visionary, who's seen too much to bear.
That wino with the trolley, stuffed full with rags and junk
Perhaps they once lost all they loved and that's why they're so drunk.
See those who swallow booze and drugs, not counting up the cost
Perhaps it is to ease their pain, or because they feel so lost.
That man down in the gutter, though he might not show it
May just be a troubadour, an artist, or a poet.
To all those who sneer at them, like they are a different race
You only walk an easier path because of God's good Grace.
That person in the doorway, unkempt with straggly hair
Perhaps he is a visionary, who's seen too much to bear.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the fittest, the strong are so alive
While the weak, who do their level best, struggle to survive

Reality is where we're said to dwell, but I am not so certain
The eyes we use to see this world deceived by a false curtain

Natural selection, preferring the favoured few
If you’re not a chosen one, there’s little you can do

Survival of the powerful and of the filthy rich
While standing on the bottom rung, life is one hard bitch

It seems the natural order hands the few the lion’s share
The rest they too get equal shares, but of poverty and despair

The land of the living when blessed with milk and honey
Is the land of the slow demise when you have no food or money

Survival of the rich man, he can afford to laugh and sing
The poor man has to fake his smile, because he hasn’t got a thing

The wealthy frequent the Ivy, spend a mint on food and wine
While the Foodbank or the dumpster is where the poorest dine

Survival of the richest, the greedy, so pleased to be alive
While the poor, exploited every day, just battle to survive

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Death and Taxes

Sing while you're winning, that's what the fellow said.
Might as well sing while you're losing too, cause you will soon be dead.
Smile and be happy, that's what you ought to do.
You know you really might as well, cause you'll be dead soon too.
Being dead is easy, so no need to be sad.
You're alive right at this moment. so you may as well be glad.
Fourteen billion years this universe has been spinning.
You've been dead for most of that, so sing out while you're winning.
Reasons to be cheerful, that's what the geezer said.
I liked that bloke, he was a real card, but look! The bugger's dead!
Sing while you're winning, that's what the fellow said.
We might as well sing while we still have breath, for soon we'll all be dead.
Life places on your face such a maudlin frown,
But considering you're still breathing, why not turn it upside down?

Death and taxes can't be dodged, we all take that as read.
But at least the twat who swipes your cash will wind up just as dead.
Smile is what they told me, it could be a lot worse.
Then I realised just how right they were, as I watched a passing hearse.
The same fate awaits us all, dying our final act.
All new people in one hundred years and that's a simple fact.
So sing while you're winning, just as the fellow said.
Unless heaven truly waits for us, you can't sing once you're dead.