Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Up The Wall And Round The Bend

I am not in the first flush of youth. I'm not even in the second flush of youth. I'm probably in the third flush of youth, the one where you need a wire coathanger to shift the persistent bugger.

So I was delighted to see Wirral council putting the blocks on Parkour, that new sport where a big load of teenagers do really impressive stunts by leaping off walls and bollards instead of beating each other up or getting casseroled on the drugs.

There's nothing I like more than seeing teenagers get a bit frustrated, as I have heretofore outlined, so this is a proper tonic. Well done, Wirral council.

Nevertheless, I can't help thinking there's a tiny flaw in their strategy, which I'm happy to point out, in the hope that they can find a way of sorting it out.

If the council was hell-bent on banning tiddlywinks, Ker-Plunk or bowls, its strategy would be spot on. Police could swoop on the games, confiscate contraband winks, plastic cocktail sticks or jacks and round up the feeble or old participants before they can say, "Cripes! It's the fuzz!". Bang! ASBOs all round.

But the thing about freerunners is that they don't have any equipment and they're really, really good at running and climbing. Unlike most police officers, who like a pie and a pint, though never on duty. Which would make catching them tricky.

The only solution is to capture a group of crack freerunners and turn them into police officers, specifically employed to capture Parkour enthusiasts. They could take police dogs, who are specially trained to run along walls and jump through hoops, with them.

And then the police helicopter should be called out to pick up the stragglers. Literally. With one of those massive claws they have in some amusement arcades.

This will definitely work.

Come on, Wirral council. If we're going to clamp down on harmless fun, let's be thorough or we'll look like frustrated, seedless joy sponges.

Monday, 27 July 2009

I'm Sure He Wasn't A Plonker But In Fact A Perfectly Shrewd Chap

I was served in a shop by a young man called Rodney. This is not a complaint. He didn't poke me in the eye or anything.

But I came to wonder how it was that this young man came to be known as Rodney. He was around 19 to 20 years old, which places his birth firmly in the period when Only Fools And Horses was the biggest show on British television. One would have expected the name Rodney, associated at that time very much with plonkerdom, to have been declared off-limits, in much the same way as Adolf lost a lot of its popularity around 1940.

I can just about accept Rodney being foisted on the child as a middle name to honour a dead relative, but as a first name? That's cruelty beyond measure. Why not go the whole hog and call him Marigold, Smelly or Gaylord? I find it difficult to imagine the circumstances which would lead to somebody in 1990 naming their son Rodney.

Difficult, but not impossible...





Goodness me, it's Sarky Karen. I'm an old friend of your mother.


Are you really, Audrey? Gosh, because it's not like we've met on many occasions. Often accompanied by my mother.


And, oh, you've got a little baby.


You've noticed the pram? Well done, you.


Ooh, and what have you called your lovely new baby?


"Ooh, and what have you called your lovely new baby?" We've called our lovely new baby Rodney.




Let me just check.



Yes, it's definitely Rodney.


Oh, Karen, you are a one, with your sarcasm. It's a good job I don't take it to heart.


What do you mean?


What's his real name?




Go on.


His bloody name is Rodney.


Sarky Karen, have you ever heard of a TV programme called Only Fools And Horses?


Durr, no. I'm only the life president of the Nicholas Lyndhurst Fan Club, established 1978 in the wake of his regular appearances of Butterflies, and surviving even through "The Two Of Us," which was rubbish. I've got posters, mugs, VHS video tapes - and, by the way, if only somebody would invent a type of compact disc you can put video on. In short, I bloody love the man. Look!



But everybody will call him a plonker, for the rest of his life.


Look! I wanted to name my son after my hero. Is that so wrong?


Why didn't you call him Nicholas?




Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Nuts In July

I should flipping well think so. I'd be bloody livid if I opened my bag of Tesco Peanuts, Raisins and Chocolate-Covered Raisins, only to discover that I had, in fact, bought a bag of Tesco Raisins and Chocolate-Covered Raisins.

Monday, 20 July 2009


My Facebook Fatigue idea was such a massive success, I've decided to branch out a bit.

But let me first tell you about the Online Untouchables. The poor souls who would love to form meaningful relationships in this connected world. But they keep getting the knockback from spam filters because they have peculiar names.

One of these people told me about his plight. "Bill" (not his real name, his real name is KXVXAG V1agra Gomez) said: "Facebook and Twitter are not for the likes of us. I pop in a friend request and am shunned. Then I try to follow somebody on Twitter and I get blocked. I just don't know what to do."

He put me in touch with "Fran" (her real name is Sxxxygrrl125, named after her grandmother). She was equally nonplussed by her manifold rejections.

"You know," said Fran, "when I'm out in town, I'm never short of male attention. For some reason, my weird skin complaint which means I can't wear many clothes without coming out in hives doesn't put them off.

"But when I go online, and try to find genuine friends who'll be happy to discuss my collection of horny Viking helmets and my inability to regulate my body temperature which makes me hot all the time, I get nowhere. And believe me, some of the comments I do receive are very rude and hurtful."

There's a gap in the market here and I'm going to fill it. I'm setting up, a social networking site for people with peculiar names. In a way, it's a public service. In another, it's a method to make a lot of money.

I've publicised it on Twitter and I've already got 986 followers.

This will definitely work.

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Friday Interview: The Tube Man

In the second of an occasional series of interviews, Graham Bandage talks to Roger Dulwich, the last tube man in Great Britain.

Graham Bandage: Roger Dulwich, you're the last tube man in Great Britain. Why do you stick at it?

Roger Dulwich: It's the only life I've ever known. And, you know, it's a craft, my father was a tube man, so was his father. And if it dies with me, then so be it.

GB: Tell me what the tube man did.

RD: Does, man, does! I'm not dead yet. They'll have to crowbar my tube out of my cold dead hand.

GB: I don't think so. Not straight away. Rigor mortis only comes in a few hours later. You'd be floppy at first... Sorry, go on...

RD: We all worked out of a depot. And we'd just wait for the letters to arrive. Then we'd go through the letters and decide who was going where. Then we'd put the contents in the tubes and take them out in our floats to the houses.

GB: So what would happen when you got to the house?

RD: Well, we'd knock on the door. And there'd be a proper old buzz. "Ooh, the tube man's here. The tube man's here. Quick, come and see the tube man." So then they'd bring me into the lounge, sit on the sofa. And they'd make a fuss, bring me a cup of tea and that, and then it'd start.

GB: You could use a lubricant, like WD40 or something.

RD: What?

GB: To get the tube out of your dead hand. You wouldn't necessarily need a crowbar.

RD: And then it'd start. I'd slip the content out of the tube. And I'd show them.

GB: What was the content?

RD: Ooh, it could be anything. Nothing blue. We didn't do blue. Old films, emo kids talking, pointless re-edits of Doctor Who title sequences. That was the beauty of it, you see. Just the tube man standing there, with a massive unrolled flicker book, simulating animation.

GB: How long would it last?

RD: Ooh, anything from 30 seconds to five minutes. Or until my wrist gave out.

GB: And what happened in the end?

RD: Well, the last frame had a big roll of paper attached. And they'd write their comments on it, like "OMFG! That was TEH L4M3ST. LOLZ" and ... actually, I think that was the only thing they'd write.

GB: Was the tube cardboard?

RD: Yes, why?

GB: Well, if you were cremated, we wouldn't need to take it at all.

RD: Now they do the whole thing on the internet. But it's not the same.

GB: No, because there's sound and it's quicker.

RD: You-bloody-tube? No. Let ME bloody tube for you, a professional.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Kettle Made Entirely Of Caramac

Regular readers of my Twitter, of whom there are very nearly one hundred, i.e. 99, will already have seen the above picture, which I posted yesterday. But my confusion continues to grow. I hope that by articulating my confusion I will be able to put the matter to rest and can resume thinking about gnats, ginger beer and unlikely soup.

I'll state it, in bald terms, and then let's see where we go. It's a temping agency which has been forced to close its doors because of a staff shortage.

I'll write that again: a temping agency which has been forced to close its doors because of a staff shortage.

No, it's still not working. Maybe if I show the picture again?

No, it's no better. A company whose very purpose is to find people to fill temporary vacancies is forced to close because it has a temporary vacancy. Can you imagine the sense of failure there when this cropped up? A dirty great cloud of ennui. It'd be like the whole of the remaining staff were forced to wear parkas in the warm weather, but parkas made of gloom.

"Seriously, Brian," one of them would no doubt ask, "What are we here for? Really, what are we here for? We're like firefighters standing outside the fire station as it burns to the ground. Smug bastard fetishists unsatisfied in Piers Morgan's house. Chavs, Brian, chavs, with the price of a sausage roll in their pocket, starving to death in the middle of Greggs. We are, in short, utter failures."

"We are, to be fair," Brian the manager would say. "Ah, well, I'd better go and print off a sign to stick on the door. I shall use Comic Sans to underline our hopelessness."

I'm still confused. In a way I'm just as much a failure as them, but in all the other ways I'm not.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Fine, Thanks For Asking, Badge

Oh, no. It's spreading. Thanks a bundle, Miss Jessica Alba.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

100 Not Out

Take THAT, Vimto! I mean, how dare you? How bloody dare you?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

You Electrical Shunt

I just went to Tesco to buy myself a pop. And I was tempted by a Jamaican ginger beer. I do like a ginger beer. In fact there's nothing I like better than swallowing a nice spicy ginger beer.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Mfl. Snort. He said 'ginger beer.' For one like myself, with a rudimentary knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang, that's an amusing unintentional double entendre."

But you would be wrong. I really did want a nice ginger beer, but was put off by the idea of bringing it into the office and having the chaps say, "Mfl. Snort. Ginger beer." Which is fairly appalling of them and disappointing of myself as I'm all for the gays.

It led me to wonder who decided that 'ginger beer' would be rhyming slang for homosexual, instead of, say, 'paneer,' 'veneer' or 'pint of beer.' The only explanation is that the manufacturers of Vimto long ago handed over a bunch of used notes to the Cockney Rhyming Slang Board to make the likes of me think twice when the siren call of ginger beer sounded, and to increase sales of their own soft beverage.

You weren't aware of the Cockney Rhyming Slang Board? Allow me to give you an insight into its work.

It was set up in the 1890s to regulate the use of rhyming slang. Rhyming slang was introduced by educational psychologists to facilitate the memory of words in the feeble-minded. Can't remember the name of those wooden step things which you climb to go to bed? Then just imagine a lot of apples and pears falling down them. Can't remember the name of the hand-like appendages at the end of your legs? Then imagine them replaced by two plates, piled high with meat.

But the use of rhyming slang escaped the world of the irredeemably thick and entered common parlance. However, linguistic anarchy ensued.

- "Oi, Harold, 'ave you got the tequila, salt and lime?"
- "Beg pardon?"
- "The tequila, salt and lime, me old market."
- "Market? What?"
- "Market trend! Friend!"
- "You really are a tiresome little man."

In the end, after the Slang Riots of 1893, Prime Minister Gladstone introduced the Cockney Rhyming Slang Board to put a stop to all that nonsense. Its first ruling was that curry would be referred to as a Ruby Murray and not, as some would have it, a McDonald's McFlurry.

The Board meets twice a year to approve slang for new inventions and concepts. Recent entries in the Slang Ledger have been Falsie for iPod (from false god), Monster for credit crunch (from Monster Munch) and Gotcha for Robert Peston (from Got your vest on). These newly-minted slang words are now being rolled out after a trial in Southwark.

For the record, I bought a Coke and not a Vimto. That'll teach the homophobes.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The Friday Interview: The Channel 4 Scriptwriter

In the first of an occasional series, Graham Bandage talks to Justin Turnbull, the man who writes the narrator's scripts for Channel 4's reality lifestyle shows.

Graham Bandage: How do you approach writing a script for, say, The Home Show, or Supernanny?

Justin Turnbull: Well, Graham, later I'll be telling you how I use a script-writing program ... how I drink a cup of coffee ... and where I work.

GB: Great. But how do you approach writing a script for, say, The Home Show, or Supernanny?

JT: I get a rough edit of the programme and then I work my way through it. Phew, I need a wee-wee. After my break I'll tell you how I use a script writing program ... how I drink a cup of coffee ... and where I work.



JT: Yep. Before my break, I said this. "I get a rough edit of the programme." Later, I'll tell you how I use a script writing program ... how I drink a cup of coffee ... and where I work.

GB: How do you use a script writing program?

JT: I've got one on my computer. I just tap in the words on my keyboard and they appear on my screen.

GB: Yes, but...

JT: Sorry, time for another break. I'm parched, so I'll be needing a cup of coffee. Later I'll tell you how I drink a cup of coffee... and where I work.


GB: Look, this is getting...

JT: So before my wee-wee break I said this, "I get a rough edit." Then before my coffee making break I said, "I just tap in the words on my keyboard."

GB: Can we get to the coffee?

JT: Of course. I don't actually drink cups of coffee. I prefer mugs.

GB: Oh, you'd led me to believe you drink cups of coffee.

JT: Yes, the mug thing is a bit of a twist.

GB: Very good.

JT: Yes. I need the toilet again now. When I come back I'll tell you ... where I work.


GB: Please. Just please move on. Don't tell me what you've already...

JT: Before my first wee-wee break, I said this: "Rough edit." Then before my coffee break, I said: "I just tap..." Then before my second wee-wee break, I said: "I prefer mugs."

GB: Where do you work? Just tell me, for the love of thingy, where the f**king hell do you work?

JT: Here.

GB: So, what now?

JT: Now you go away. And then you come back to see me in 12 months to see if things have changed for me for the cheapo repeat.

GB: And will they have done?

JT: No. Not in the slightest. Next week you'll be interviewing conceptual artist Ted Cramp, when he'll be saying "The Northern Line," "three sheets to the wind" and "Mum, please don't."

GB: Justin Turnbull, thank you.