As pressure mounts on the banks to ring-fence the hard-earned savings of retail depositors from the worst excesses of casino banking, here's a run-down of the ten most viewed (banking related) items on this website:-
Saturday July 7 2012 - Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have discovered what they assume to be an image of Jesus on one of the lab's super-computers. Responding to criticisms that it has simply been knocked up using sophisticated graphics software, a spokesman for the Hadron replied, "No-one knows what Jesus really looked like, so this is as good an approximation as any."
Wednesday April 25 2012 - "I cannot recall, nor is it of any interest to me whatsoever, whether my roots go back to Botany Bay."
"What took you so long?"
Sunday February 26 2012 - "G'day, cobbers. Y'know, barely a day passes without some story emerging about newspaper hacking or the blagging of confidential data and the suchlike. But for all that, the thing none of you ever asks is, like, how come it was so easy to get away with in the first place? Anyway, I'll leave that thought with yer, cobbers... Oh, by the way, I real hope you like my new Sun on Sunday..."
Thursday February 2 2012 - "Hello! Isn't it wonderful that you can be selling things so complex and so important as insurance contracts using dumb animals, dumb cartoon characters, and pathetic, fake opera singers nowadays? We meerkat advertisers are owing a lot to the diminishing qualities of educational standards in your country over recent years. Thanks to this, your peoples are happy and contented (but not confused!) to swallow our childish, simplistic messages all the time... Simples!"
Ham-up of the Scots
Thursday January 26 2012 - What? Me ask loaded questions? Perish the thought. I simply want to ask the Scottish people this: "Would you, having seen Mel Gibson's Braveheart, and having pondered upon the atrocities perpetrated by Edward, Hammer of the Scots, like to put an end to centuries of English tyranny, by making Scotland a free and independent country that can forge its own unique way in the world?" Now what part of that question could ye call loaded?
Friday January 20 2012 - "Let me tell you something: I understand this Captain of the ship that sunk and how he find himself tripping into the lifeboat. I myself know what is like to trip this way. For I have tripped many, many times myself. Yes, indeed. On one occasion - in fact on many occasions - I find myself tripping into these "Bunga Bunga" parties - just imagine what that is like - and it was through absolutely no fault of my own. That is tripping for you!"
Thursday January 12 2011 - "Computer scientists working for the Los Angeles police dept have developed algorithms that can predict potential crimespots. This means cops can be in the right place at the right time and stop crime in its tracks. But, why don't politicians funding these scientists seek algorithms that locate malfeasance within finance, industry and politics? Who knows where that might lead?"
Monday, January 9 2012 - According to a recent report by a team of researchers and psychotherapists the item most commonly swiped by shoplifters nowadays is... cheese. Thing is, how can these researchers know for sure? Isn't it just possible that a lot of the cheese may simply have crawled away by itself?
Je ne regrette rien
Saturday, January 7 2012 - The Parisian breast enlarger, Jean-Claude Mas, who owns Poly Implant Prothese has apparently told police he has no regrets about selling sub-standard implants. "C'est cosmetique." he says.
West is best
Friday 30 December 2011 - "I love you Westerners. In fact I reckon I'm a bit of an 'Occidentalist'. Let's face it, you fight a decade long war in Afghanistan and then, at the end of it, who picks up the first oil contract? China Petroleum. It cracks me up!"
What the Dickens!
Tuesday December 20 2011 - TV channels and newspapers are going Dickens crazy. We decided to go one further and celebrate a downmarket Dickens Christmas. And here she is ladies and gentlemen: Our very own Christmas Carol. We don't reckon Carol will be falling on "Hard Times" this Christmas. Or maybe she will be!! One thing we do know is that our readers would love to take a peek inside her "Old Curiosity Shop"!! And what does Carol herself think about it all? "It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done!" Atta girl, Carol!
Proust can make you calmer
Friday December 16 2011 - Our resident 'auteur', Marcel, tells French officials how to handle the Eurozone crisis: "Calm down, mes chéris, it is only a fiscal."
God particle exclusive!!!
Tuesday December 13 2011 - Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider believe they've found evidence of the "God Particle". This image appeared on a banana found in the kitchens of the Geneva based laboratory. The discovery is sure to bring relief to scientists who've spent billions of taxpayers' money searching for the elusive little critter. And whilst some might claim it is just an image, it is nevertheless still iconic - as indeed is the Higgs Boson particle.
United States of Neurope
Friday December 9 2011 - "Neuro" is the term currently being applied to Northern Euro members - an interesting choice, given the frayed nerves of European member states right now. The question is: Has a neural curtain descended over the continent of Europe?
Thursday December 8 2011 - "You guys in the West crack me up when you go on about weapons of mass destruction. The only weapons you need to worry about are the ones you've created."
Consider yourself... fired!
Sunday December 4 2011 - Thought for the Day: It cannot have escaped anyone's notice that programming output at the BBC has improved immeasurably over the past year. The question is: Why has it's "talent" for self-promotion remained so rank?
Ddhrink and be merry
Friday December 2 2011 - Thought for the Fey: As one survey concludes Britons are happier than ever - despite the recession - and another suggests we're consuming increasing quantities of alcohol, we ask: Could the two in any way be connected?
Monday November 28 2011 - "As a result of the strikes taking place this Wednesday, the UK Border Agency will not be running to full capacity... So it'll be business as usual. Can I have my job back?"
Press Complaints Commissiom
Friday November 25 2011 - "G'day! Now, say what you like about the PCC. But nahbody can deny they dealt with these press complaints in a dignified, sensitive and, most important of all, a restrained manner. And long may that continue. Good on yer, PCC!"
The Iron Lady
Friday November 25 2011 - "Yes, I did in fact audition for the part of Margaret Thatcher but I was pipped to the post by Meryl Streep. Apparently the film's producers weren't impressed by my "treatment" of the role!"
Sunday November 20 2011 - "Sure I'd hand your London School of Economics a donation if that could play a part in my "rehabilitation". And I guess the guys at the LSE would accept it - after all, my "rehabilitation" would be good news for them too. Right? Added to that they get the chance to fund some cutting edge research into good governance within the criminal underworld. So you might just call it a win-win situation."
Saturday November 19 2011 - It's been a bad week for cricket. First writer Peter Roebuck then Basil D'Oliveira draw stumps. Almost as bad as the week Allen Stanford landed his helicopter at Lords and started dressing cricketers in orange pyjamas.
Wednesday November 16 2011 - "Cor blimey, Theresa May, eh? I tell you one thing, when I was Home Secretary I wouldn't never have fingered no-one in my employ. For example, when Professor David Nutt left the services of the Home Office, it weren't because I dismissed him. He left because he engineered his own constructive resignation. And that meant in essence that he wanted to go anyway. See what I'm saying?"
Saturday November 12 2011 - "So far there is no taker for Silvio's payment protection insurance. But I am thinking this will change over time and people will be warming to my great new scheme. After all, when is your Euro at stake, wouldn't you like that extra piece of mind? No?"
Thursday November 10 2011 - "I have of course been following the News International hacking enquiry with some degree of interest - as indeed one might imagine. And my conclusion is as follows: I can see where these Murdochs - James and Rupert - are coming from. It's where they're going to that I'm slightly less certain about."
Obama / Sarkozy Gaffe
Wednesday November 9 2011 - "There goes the Jewish vote."
Sunday November 6 2011 - "Yo, Pete the Street here. Coming at you dudes with my up-to-date take on da business scene. Y'know for all the bad press business has been getting of late, it's still, in my view at least, the new rock and roll. And I, Pete the Street, am still one of it's, like, uber-cool gurus. You could say I'm the MC of all business that rocks! Now dudes, I has been watching with interest the antics of my fellow business guru (beardy guru, that is) Sir Alan Sugar - or should I say Lord Suggs, as he is now known. Mind you, dunno why he's a Lord when the powers what be ain't yet made me a Knight. But what the heck! It don't stop me rockin' like an uber-hip Duke of the business scene. Am I right? Yeah, course I is! Now Lord Suggs has been working of late on da yoof movement and trying to fire dem up with his "Yo is fired" routine. Good one Al, but d'you think these yoof is well gay with da cliches that roll from your beardy gob? Nah, not really. What da yoof is needing is like an uber-gay geyser like m'self to fire dem up and get dem rocking. So here is what I is predicting : A Yoof Dragons Den that really kicks ass. Won't be like da polite business shows we is seeing on the Beeb rite now, but a bells and whistles approach that has da yoof quaking in their muthafuckin' boots. In da coming weeks I is gonna be fillin' you dudes in on what's to come and what's to expect. It won't be pretty, it might be messy. And one thing's for sure, there won't be no cliches like: "You is fired." It'll be more like: Muthafukka, you is well out of order and you is outta ma fuckin' testosterone filled boardroom. Got that, man?!" Anyway, watch this space... and in the meantime, stick it to da man (by which I mean Lord Sugar of course)!!"
Chicken egg situation
Friday November 4 2011 - Quiz for the day: Which came first, the QUANGO... or the NGO?
Wednesday September 7 2011 - "Like who he calling feral underclass man? I ain't goin' to be call no feral underclass by no Justace Secratery, wotever that is. I got rights like anyone else man and calling you name like that is eleet... elitast... eleatis... it show a lack of respeck man. And no-one especially no secratery bitch is goin' to dis-respeck me like I is telling you."
GADDAFI WORLD EXCLUSIVE!!!
Sunday September 4 2011 - "They say I am a bad man because I hurt lot of people in my time. But I have many good reasons for doing these things. After I have seen this terrible September Eleven disaster movie all those years ago with all these planes and these towers falling down, then I take decision I must hate these mass destruction weapons as much as everyone else. It is then that I realise it is wrong to have these mass destruction weapons and it is much, much better to torture people instead - which is something I have always been very good at."
Wednesday August 31 2011 - The Chartered Management Institute reveals women may have to wait 98 years to win equal pay. But don't worry, ladies. Why not simply take a leaf out of Sally Bercow's book? Appearing on reality TV offers the opportunity not only to achieve fame and fortune, but, more important, the same levels of fame and fortune as men. So, who needs aspiration, who needs opportunity, when all you actually need is a good old fashioned dose of "reality"?
Tuesday August 30 2011 - "Weapons of mass destruction? Cracks me up. In my day, the only weapon of mass destruction was the guy running the show."
Sunday 28 August 2011 - "Guys, guys, guys, you know what? It is never too late to negotiate. After all, some people say that diplomacy is war by other means. Or hold on. Is it, war is diplomacy by other means? I can never remember."
Compère the Market
Wednesday August 24 2011 - A survey by Halifax Home Insurance says we’ve become a nation of bargain-hunters. Our use of discount vouchers, special offers and freebies is “saving” the average adult £1,196 a year. Does this mean that, during the good times, we were being ripped off to the tune of £1,196 a year?
Monday August 22 2011 - "A few month ago I accuse the rebel peoples of being mad crazy types, who are getting high on all kind of hallucinogenic drug. Now I think I change my minds. I ask you: Can I have some of what they are having, please?"
Cat amongst the pigeons
Thursday August 18 2011 – Sally Bercow, wife of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow is appearing on the new series of Celebrity Big Brother. Perhaps she thinks it’ll enhance her standing in the Westminster Village. Question is, will she purr for the cameras – just as George Galloway did a few years back? Some kind person should tell her the show can end a political career before it’s even… er… started.
Thursday August 18 2011 - Rumour has it… no one’s watching Newsnight. Is it any wonder? This week, viewers of the BBC’s “flagship programme” were subjected to three nights of Kirsty Wark, a presenter whose interviewing repertoire rarely extends beyond the leading question... Can we solve the crisis on Britain streets – she asks an opposition MP – when the government is cutting police numbers? While her interviewing style might be a gift for those of a similar ilk, it ain’t objective journalism. So here’s a leading question? Is it time the Beeb had a re-think about using presenters who, for whatever reason, have a tendency to ask leading questions?
Here’s watching you...
Wednesday August 17 2011 - With superb timing Channel Five announces the return of Big Brother. The reality TV show was once synonymous with the worst excesses of the Noughties – instant gratification, easy money, an obsession with celebrities and celebrity culture. Will its recall remind us how Britain arrived at the moral collapse everyone's talking about these days?
What they really, really want…
Sunday August 14 2011 – “So, the reason why we is going out and stealing stuff and smashing up and burning things is because, like, no one listens to young people. And it’s like, we can have alcohol and nick cars and get slags pregnant at whatever age we like, but no one shows us young people no respect, which is what we deserve, just like other people in our society. So innit time we young people got the vote at whatever age, even though the vote’s shit and it don’t make no difference anyway?”
We don’t need no…
Friday August 12 2011 - “Yeah, well the reason I went out the other day and smashed all them shop windows was cos I was angry when they withdrew the edducashonal mentinanc… the educachinell minetinence allouwan… the educcasinall maintinnin… cos I needed a new 42 inch plasma TV.”
Saturday August 6 2011 - Are tulips where we should be putting our money right now?
Gord as gold
Friday August 5 2011 - "You'll all be pleased to know that I've revised my opinion on investing in gold. I sold the government's entire reserves a decade ago at the bargain price of around $270. But these days, I reckon gold is looking like a bit of a safe haven. With this in mind I have texted the chancellor George Osborne recommending he buys all that gold back - ideally at the very price at which I sold it! See, I haven't lost the old knack for making prudent investments. And what's more no-one can accuse me of not listening!"
The whorer takes it all
Thursday August 4 2011 - "Where has all of da money gone? I do not know. This is not easy to explain, I tell you. But one thing that I do know is the whores, which we all know to be very important to society, they do not pay any of the taxes. So maybe this tax situation of these whores, that has a something to do with it. Perhaps."
The comfort of hacks
Tuesday August 2 2011 - Chinese government officials are allegedly hacked off by "negative" coverage of the recent high-speed train crash. They had originally ordered newspapers to avoid all mention of the crash except for "positive news or information released by the authorities". However, leading newspapers have ignored the edict and run stories that raised safety fears over China's high-speed industrialisation. Could this act of defiance by newspaper hacks be China's "Murdoch moment"? We can only guess what Rupert himself might have to say.
Open for business?
Monday August 1 2011 - "Norman Lamont is urging the chancellor to cut the 50p tax rate. Apparently this'll show the world the UK's "open for business". Sometimes I wonder what all the fuss is about though. All a wealthy investor needs is a reliable off-shore bank account. It offers a quick and easy way of dealing with the number of tax pennies in the pound a speculator has to pay. There is a saying: look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Well I say Monaco is a perfect place to look after those pennies."
Friday July 22 2011 19.10 - If there's one thing the Freud dynasty knows a thing or two about, it's the interpretation of dreams. It all began with Sigmund, father of modern psychiatry. Since the publication of his book "The Interpretation of Dreams" the dynasty has never looked back. Sadly, one of their number is no longer with us tonight. "Realist" painter Lucian, who knew a thing or two about interpretation (or should we say representation?) died yesterday at the age of 88. But this should be no cause for concern. There are plenty of Freuds, young and old, professional and non-professional, academic and none-so-academic still around, all ready to dispense advice. And rest assured: They'll be lining up to interpret your dreams for some time to come!
Thursday July 21 2011 - In a report for the BBC trust, geneticist Professor Steve Jones attacks the BBC for its balanced coverage of science. He highlights the exposure the BBC gave to "ill-informed campaigns" during the MMR furore and criticised it for allowing former chancellor Lord Lawson to counter claims about global warming. Sadly he doesn't mention the fact scientists totally screwed up their swine flu and avian flu projections. And he doesn't say anything about taxpayer billions wasted on the Hadron Collider - which has proven to be of little if any benefit to the Eurozone in its hour of crisis. No wonder he is terrified of balanced reporting. Perhaps he should go one step further and take a leaf out of the Inquisition's book. Why not simply re-brand cynics as heretics and have them burnt at the stake?
Sunday July 17 2011 - Mr Murdoch once called me "a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes". I wonder what kind of foot-wear Mr. Murdoch will be wearing in his next incarnation.
Friday July 15 2011 - Citizen Kaned says: "No one can deny I'm a fit and proper person to own HarperCollins."
They love reading about it...
Friday July 8 2011 - As the News of the World draws its last breath, its critics are still baying for more blood, more scalps. However this saga ends, the allure of the grisly tabloid tale will remain with us. After all it's how the format kicked off in the first place - with lurid coverage of the Crippen murder. Even literary giants like James Joyce meditated upon the appeal of the tabloid. In Ulysses, his character Leopold Bloom muses: "Murder. The murderer's image in the eye of the murdered. They love reading about it. Man's head found in a garden. Her clothing consisted of. How she met her death. Recent outrage. The weapon used. Murderer is still at large. Clues. A shoelace. The body to be exhumed. Murder will out." Despite the NOTW's demise, the tabloids are here to stay. People just love reading them.
There's no place like Home Secretary
Thursday July 7 2011 - "Cor blimey, did I know my cabinet colleagues were being hacked by the News of the World back in 2009? I can't really say for sure. But if I did know, then I must be the first Home Secretary in history who did nothing about it. Although, that being said, I would've done something about it had we won the election in 2010. Which we didn't."
My lobby or yours?
Monday July 4 2011 - Thought for the day: A lot has been written recently about Prince Charles' lobbying of government ministers past and present. This has caused mild outcry in certain political and media circles, as the heir to the throne is obliged to be politically neutral. So, let's make one thing clear: lobbying is the preserve of those valiant men and women, including ex-cabinet ministers, who work solely for large corporate interests, and who have every right, and perhaps even the obligation, to influence government policy. And of course no one could possibly expect these 'traditional' lobbyists to be politically neutral. Could they?
Tuesday June 28 2011, 08:59 - "How come Gaddafi gets an ICC arrest warrant and I don't. I've maimed, mutilated, tortured, wiped out at least as many of my own people as Muammar. I ordered my army to shoot at unarmed civilians. I've raised entire villages to the ground and killed scores of women and children. What does a common or garden thug have to do to get an arrest warrant these days?"
This is not a pissoir
Sunday June 26 2011, 17.51 - Tracey Emin is one of 12 artists being invited to create an image for the 2012 games. Perhaps she could use her creative genius to address the anomalies of the ticketing system - something her "edgy" style might just about handle. British taxpayers footing the bill for the games are struggling to get hold of tickets right now, whilst dodgy despots and globe-trotting celebs have a guaranteed allocation. This might give the genius Emin a chance to retread some of her old ideas - her unmade bed being an obvious example.
Send out the clowns
Thursday June 23 2011 - "If EU officials get their way and ban circus animals, they'll come after us next. No doubt they'll do it on the grounds that our circus routines are offensive to goofy-looking people throughout Europe who hide their true personalities under a mask and who have an ability to cock-up everything they undertake. That's a good way of describing EU officials really, when you think about it. So maybe it's not surprising if they ban us too."
Wednesday June 22 2011 - "Here's why I oppose the coalition's House of Lords reform: It's not an 80 per cent elected chamber that I want. No! I want a chamber that is 100 per cent elected... And this is exactly what I wanted during all of Labour's thirteen years in office: A 100 per cent elected chamber. This is what I will always want if or when I get to No.10: A 100 per cent elected chamber. This is what I will always want, even if I decide not to go for a 100 per cent elected chamber! Yes. Whether I am good to my word or not, one thing I'll always want is a 100 per cent elected second chamber. And you can't take that away from me!"
Sunday June 19 2011 - Thought for the day: As the Greek government starts selling off assets such as ports, airports, even islands, in order to alleviate its debt crisis, here's the question: Who has the most to gain - and who the least - from these Greeks bearing gifts?
Hey, hey, you, you, get off of my iCloud!
Friday June 17 2011 - In the future, boys and girls, we'll be able to store all of our personal information on a wonderful new invention called the iCloud. All of this personal information will be kept safe and secure, just as we would want it to be. Unless of course the iCloud leaks. Which it won't. For as we all know, clouds don't leak, do they, children? Unless, that is, the skies open and it starts raining. Which of course they won't. Not with Apple controlling the Heavens. Which they will. But then again, maybe they won't. Who knows? Oh, to be an iCloud..!
Monday June 13 2011 - "Who care about iMuff anyway, when ze Chenois, zey have so much monnaie sloshing about nowaday?"
The big one-party tent
Friday June 10 2011 - Lord Mandelson agrees that the Labour Party would be ill-advised to drift back to the left under the leadership of Ed Miliband: "As a long-time admirer of Stalin's henchman Lavrenti Beria, I know a thing or two about crushing Trotskyite dissent."
Monday June 6 2011 - Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has allegedly congratulated Wayne Rooney's on his new hair transplant, hailing it is a great day for world football. He's even thinking of getting one himself. It would certainly allow him to move incognito around London during the 2012 games.
The Chav's Speech
Sunday June 5 2011 - It may not be the Queen's English, but young people want to talk like Cheryl Cole - if we are to believe an article in today's Sunday Times. Apparently, talking like a celebrity gives them a sense of identity, even though that identity is clearly borrowed from someone else. Similarly, ordinary folk up and down the land aspire to winning X-Factor and becoming part of Simon Cowell's chavistocracy. That's how high they set their sights these days. Whatever happened to education, education, education?
Wednesday June 1 2011 - How sad! The sequel to hit comedy Hangover has drawn in the punters, but the critics have given it a drubbing. Some cruel wags have even suggested that it is simply a cashing-in exercise. As the nerdy character Phil might say: "Come on guys, you know the drill." But what exactly is the drill? Must be something along the lines of: Make hay... while the sun still shines out of your ass
Kez yer wirrth ett.
Monday May 30 2011 - Thought for the day: After Simon Cowell sacks Cheryl Cole from X-Factor USA for her poor grasp of the Queen's English, one question remains unanswered: How on earth did she survive so long on the Brit version of the show?
This time it's not personal
Tuesday May 24 2011 - As a plume of Icelandic ash once again drifts towards Scotland from the North Atlantic, the EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashcloud promises that this time she will do everything in her power to stop the Ashton spreading over the continent of Europe.
Monday May 23 2011 - Thought for the day: At the BAFTAs last night the "audience award" went to the reality TV show The Only Way is Essex. Could this indicate the direction British Television is heading these days - maybe has been heading for the past decade or so?
Porn again. Godiva calling
Saturday May 21 2011 - Thought for the day: Is Lady Gaga like Lady Godiva wrapped up in new clothing? And just how taxing a question is this?
(IMF) I Must Fly
Saturday May 21 2011 - Thought for the day - The tuck shop's looking for a new manager. Is Billy Bunter the man for the job?
Friday May 20 2011 - Quiz for the day: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will judge the judges? Is it a) The people b) The politicians c) The media d) The First Amendment e) Other judges?
Patron saint of wankers?
Wednesday May 11 2011 – A new series of The Apprentice arrives and Lord Sugar tells contestants “I ain’t the patron saint of losers”. God forbid anyone should think such a thing. Hell, one of the contestants even claims to have been “trained by Al Gore”. Although judging by her appearance she probably meant to say Bill Clinton. Incidentally, Apprentice has its origins in the US where it has been fronted for some years now by Donald Trump. He ain’t no “patron saint of losers” either. With a winning haircut like his, how could he be? Anyway, the new series promises to be a real cracker – i.e. it’ll burn out very quickly leaving you choked by an unpleasant odour.
Selling insurance or selling advertising?
Sunday May 8 2011 - Thoughts for the day: Is advertising in danger of crawling up its own fundament? Are these ruddy meerkats past their sell-by date? Should you continue buying used car insurance from these furry little fellows?
Friday May 6 2011 - Thought for the Day: This is a dark day for the LibDems - or so they say. But in reality it appears the party's simply given back to Labour the support they only had in the first place thanks to an extraordinarily unpopular Labour leader... Plus they'll be in power for the next four years... A dark day indeed!
Calm down, muthafukka.
Thursday, April 28, 2011 – “People often ask me how I came up with the hysterical line “calm down dear” as used to such great effect by the PM in PMQs yesterday. In fact I first used this catch-phrase during the making of Death Wish 3 at a point in the movie where Charlie Bronson was about to pump lead into a bunch of street punks. I have to say I considered Charlie’s performance a bit OTT at the time – un peu Stanislavski, if you catch my drift. I turned to him and uttered the immortal words “calm down dear”. Whereupon, he and the rest of the crew fell about laughing. Needless to say, Charlie then proceeded to waste the street punks with absolute panache! He pumped them real good. What a man. What a catch-phrase!
Should have gone to Iceland?
Tuesday April 26 2011 - A "study" has found that air traffic controllers were right to close airspace last year over fears of the ash plume from an erupting Icelandic volcano. And who exactly conducted this study? Scientists at the University of Iceland, of course! It is worth noting that Icelandic mathematicians, number-crunchers and other assorted "scientists" were responsible for the "economic miracle" that Iceland generated over recent years. With mathematical research like that, who needs ash-clouds?
Monday April 18 2011 – Broadcasters, mental health charities and Twitterati have applauded the actress Catherine Zeta Jones for her decision to speak publicly about her bipolar disorder. But what exactly is it and whom can it affect? Bipolar disorder is a condition that involves periods of elevated publicity, alternating with periods of depressed or restricted publicity. It is something that affects celebrities who’ve been out of the spotlight for a certain period of time and are suffering withdrawal. What happens next is their profile’s elevated to such high levels you can’t open a newspaper or turn on the television without finding something about them. If you or any one you know suspects they might have bipolar disorder, please consult a publicist immediately.
Elf and Safety
Tuesday 12 April 2011 – Thought for the the day: It is reported that certain local councils are restricting Royal Wedding street parties on “health and safety” grounds, inviting the ridicule of much of the tabloid press. But in view of the fact that “health and safety” and its ugly sister “political correctness” are largely discredited in this day and age, would it not make sense to ditch them altogether in favour of the far more progressive and far-reaching “health and correctness” and “political safety”?
Praise the black hole!
Thursday April 7 2011 - Thought for the day: Sir Martin Rees, the astronomer royal has won the £1M annual Templeton prize. Since the 1980s the prize, awarded notionally for advancing the cause of religion has switched it's focus more towards science and the "spiritual dimensions" of scientific research. Critics claim the prize blurs the boundaries between science and religion and makes a virtue of belief without knowledge. But should those of us mere mortals who lack an in-depth education in astrophysics be asking ourselves this question: What is actually going on inside our heads when we claim that we "know" something. And is our "knowledge" of the Big Bang, Black Holes, String Theory, Higgs-Boson etc etc in actuality little more than faith? Who knows? We'll just have to take Martin Rees' word for the existence of these cosmological phenomena.
This is not a bed
Friday 25 March 2011 - Thought for the day: Now that kinky potter Grayson Perry has been made a living "member" of the Royal Academy of Arts, could there be a case for turning Tracey Emin's bed into a World Heritage Site?
What a cutey!
Tuesday 22 March 2011 - Thought for the day: Along with a lot of people we were saddened to hear of the death of Knut the "cuddly" polar bear. The truth about these fluffy, white creatures is that they are rarely, if ever, cuddly. In fact if you do try cuddling one of these mothers they're liable to rip you to shreds and eat you - albeit in the cutest, loveliest, fluffiest kind of way. And yet people just can't help cuddling them! Is it perhaps time we asked whether society's attitude to these cutesy-wutesy creatures is just a bit bi-polar?
March 18th 2011 - RIGHT TO REPLY: EU Foreign Minister Baroness Ashton comments on UN Security Council Resolution 1973: "Whilst I respect the people of Britain, France, the US and Lebanon in their heroic struggle for a "no-fly zone", I do fear this may result in collateral damage and, in addition, much suffering to Mr Colonel Gaddafi and his brave thugs and everything they stand for. For this reason and this reason alone, I believe we should continue pursuing the Ashton Do-Nothing-Doctrine".
"Hey! What can I say? Great guy!"
Wednesday March 16 2011 - VOTE NOW - Who would make the best EU Foreign Minister? Baroness Ashton? Colonel Gaddafi? Or a boring little man called Herman? All take a similar stance on Europe's response to the Libya crisis - i.e. do nothing. For this reason alone, the result of the vote should be ball-crunchingly tight. The counting so far is as follows: Baroness Hashtag - 93.34 %, Gaddafi -93 %, Herman Van Rompuy-Pompuy - 92%, Lord Halifax - 91.54%. The public aren't allowed to vote on this debate sadly. But, who cares? No-one's ever voted for any of these guys anyway.
No more nasty meltdowns!
Thought for the day - March 14 2011: Ain't it about time we started building nuclear reactors that could withstand volcanic eruptions, mega-tsunamis, deep-impact meteor events and thermonuclear war? Then we could place these reactors anywhere we liked, enjoy an endless supply of energy, but without fear of catastrophic meltdown. Ain't that the obvious answer?
Thought for the day - March 12 2011: Should we put Colonel Gaddafi's violent behaviour down to poor potty training?
Thought for the day, March 10 2011 - Can it ever be right to bite the hand that feeds you? This weekend we'll have an EXCLUSIVE interview with Colonel Gaddafi of Libya who'll tell us what he thinks.
Don't Milk It!
Thought for the Day - March 9 2011: Should we consider merging International Women's Day and Breast Awareness Day?
King James Bible
19 February 2011 - I get a call from an outfit, its name, the "The Daughters of Jim." They're interested in the non-downloadable King James Bible I showcased last year on Dragons Den. "We think it's great what you were trying to do," purrs the silky-voiced kitten on the end of the line. "Just a shame it didn't work out." "A shame indeed." "But," she continues, "We've a client who'd like to buy into it." "Buy into it? You serious? I'd all but given up on the project." "Oh yes, we, or rather, he wants to buy into it" she says, her voice becoming huskier by the minute; sounds like she's a forty a day smoker. "So who's your client? And more to the point, who are you?" "As I say, we're the Daughters of Jim." "By which I presume you're not talking Jim Morrison." "Nope. Not that Jim," she growls. "Although, he's totally cool." She pauses for a sec. "It's Jim as in King Jim, the Bible guy, you know, the King." "Yeah, right. James," I say. I'm anticipating a potted history of King Jim and his Bible. Instead: "Right. James. That guy. And we represent a serious guy, a businessman who wants to produce an alterable yet non-downloadable King Jim." "Alterable... what do you mean, alterable?" "Our client wants to offer, like, a King Jim "Bibey" that readers can alter - you know - like with Wikipedia, but that they cannot download. "What's the point of that?" "Obvious, darling," she replies. "It means, visitors to the site can make colloquial, should I say even lewd alterations to the text they find on the site - you know, like, employ the vox pop... But the point being that they can still never, ever download it. That means it's in the language of everybody and anybody, but you, they, the people can only get it in one place. You, or they, have to keep on coming back and coming back to it for more of the same - even if they kinda played a part in creating, I mean, altering it in the first place. You catch my drift?" "Sounds sort of oddly pornographic to me... if you catch, er, my drift." "I do, honey," she replies. "Totally catch your drift." I tell her I'll give it some thought and I hang up. In the days following this conversation, her "agency" bombards me with semi-lewd text messages. They're of the variety, "the spirit is willing" and "a man after his own heart". Clearly "The Daughters of Jim" are trying to lead me into some kind of temptation, though I'm blowed if I know exactly what kind that might be. Economic? Literary? Sexual? Political?. I call her back a week later and tell her that if hers is a serious outfit, she should jolly well "render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's and the suchlike." "Fuck the suchlike," she replies. "What we - and our client - are looking for is nothing more - and nothing less - than real religious freedom. That and religious inter-textuality of course. Fuck rendering. We want free text. Free fucking, consensual text. And when I say that, I mean text that, like anyone, yes anyone, can generate." I'm slightly disarmed by this response and tell her that she probably doesn't actually need me for her - and her client's - endeavour. But she probably does need to go and get her head examined as she sounds mildly "conflicted". With that she slams the down the phone. Two minutes later I receive the text, "Go forth and multiply." Still somewhat mystified, I pop the kettle on and ruminate... idly. I decide - belatedly - that she might be onto something. "Go forth and multiply. How many different ways are there of saying that, I wonder?"
January 21 2011 - I'm at a party rubbing shoulders with the leading lights of the internet world. It's a website anniversary event. Politicians, scientists, writers, publishers, they're all there... smiling, waving to the cameras, cheerfully discussing anything but the world wide web. The guy at the cocktail bar tells me fixing Martinis isn't his day job. In fact he's in the process of developing a self-help website that encourages users to think about whether their "life glass" is half full or half empty. Apparently "participants" have to impart information relating to their general "work-life outlook correlation". This is crunched by the site's "bespoke software" which then decides whether they're "half-fullers" or "half-emptiers". Sounds a bit ropey to me. He continues: "I am looking for work-life balance enhancement opportunities. "Aren't we all, eh?" "Yes, and in my case I always wanted my day job to dove-tail with my night job. And in this respect it now does. That's life work-life correlation, eh?" I tell him I'll visit the site if he can tip a bit more gin into the Martini he's shaking. Drink in hand, I turn to find Clarkson standing behind me grinning like a circus clown. "Who the hell invited you?" "Easy guv'nor," he says. "Easy. You sound a bit Windsored if you ask me?" "Windsored?" I ask. "Yes, Windsor Castled. Assholed. It's Royal rhyming slang for being pissed." "Royal rhyming slang, eh? New one on me." He continues: "Anyway, don't like the sound of this glass half full bollocks. I always reckoned that in life there's one way to deal with that kind of thing." "Really Jezz?" I reply "Absolutely." he says "Don't ask whether the glass is half full or half empty. Just fill the bleeding thing up to the top and then it's a case of "enough said"... If you catch my drift." "Yes Jezz. Absolutely. I do indeed catch your drift. And I bet it's also a sure fire way of getting Windsored at the same time." "Not wrong there guv'nor. Not wrong there." He gives me a sly wink and continues, "Anyway someone told me that Mandelson's at this party. Think I might seek him out and give him a piece of my mind." "A piece of your Windsored mind, no doubt, Jezz." I say "Indeed." he replies. "Got it in one."
Saturday 1st January 2011 - New Year's eve finds me perched on a sofa at some house party in Shoreditch with a flaxen-haired Eurobabe named Marthje. Works in advertising. Or something. She's just gone off on one because the party's host has changed "ze gorgeous Jacques Brel album for zat zoh vulgar Lady Gaga. Vot is he sinking?" "Hmm," I reply, trying to suppress a yawn. "What is he thinking? The absolute idiot." I'm actually more focused on finding something that'll lace my sickly sweet organic fruit cocktail punch. Wonder whether I should grab the half empty bottle of Chivas Regal that sits abandoned at the foot of a nearby coffee table. But I fear the "creative" Marthje will consider me terribly unhip and uncool, so I stay put for the time being. I ask: "Are you one of those advertising people who thinks Serge Gainsbourg is "the shit, guys", and should be used on every advert known to man?" She looks at me quizzically and says: "I love Serge. Do you not?" "In small doses, I suppose. Just wonder sometimes why advertisers wish to inflict their personal tastes on the unsuspecting UK public. You know, it's even spreading beyond those wretched car adverts. Think they're even using French folk songs to sell espresso machines and nachos nowadays." "But maybe," she replies brusquely, "it is zimply because ze advertisers vant to educate zis unsuspecting pooblic you speak of. Yah?" "Perhaps... but then maybe people should be free to play - or to listen - to whatever they like. Like the host of this party, for example. It's a free country and all that." "Ach, free? Don't talk to me about free. No-one is really free to do vot they like. Freedom is illusion, anyway." "That old chestnut," I reply. "Why you say, old chestnut, just to belittle ze argument of mine?" "Well, frankly some of us might not think freedom is an illusion actually." "Ach, not zoh. Freedom, it is all relative." "I see. Interesting..." I nod, gazing at the Chivas. "It's an illusion and it's relative at the same time, is it? Try telling that to some guy languishing behind bars in an oriental jail." I make a lunge for the bottle, then sink back into the sofa. "Or in any jail for that matter." I wave the bottle in front of her. "Fancy a top up." She declines and turns away with a look of disgust.
I'm a ruddy celebrity
December 2010 - At last a slot on "I'm Strictly a Dancing Celebrity Come Get Me out of X-Factor". I have to say I've been particularly impressed by the antics of MP Anne Widdecombe, who, poor dear, clearly can't get by on her MP's salary and has to supplement it by moonlighting on reality TV. If only we taxpayers were kinder to these cash-strapped parliamentarians, they could spend more time in the chamber, delivering their killer speeches. Still I'm sure she spends her time on the dance floor considering the finer points of parliamentary procedure, so we're probably getting our money's worth. A good friend of mine claims the extravagant white dress she wears makes her look like "come dancing". Although I'm blowed if I know what he's on about. Another esteemed celeb, Gillian McKeith also appears on the show, regularly "dancing around" the jungle with the great and good of the media world. Doctor McKeith originally earned her spurs analysing stools on a Channel 4 medical programme. For this reason and this alone I am shocked to discover she'll be my "partner" on the show. And it soons transpires that old habits die hard. I enter the changing room after a particularly hard session in the jungle to find her peering into the lavatory pan. "Is this yours?" she barks. "Sorry, is what mine?" I reply. "This rather large stool that won't flush down." I hum and ha for a while, then eventually admit that I was indeed hovering over the pan a little earlier. "In my professional opinion as a poo doctor," she continues, "You are not eating enough fibre, as this wee jobby won't flush." With some trepidation I say," It's not my fault Doctor McKeith, it's the diet they're feeding us. The locust burgers really should come in brown baps, not white." "I totally agree there," she says cheerfully. "The diet is indeed inadequate. Here, take these." She hands me a jar of fibre tablets then scuttles off. As she leaves the changing room she turns and says, "Take two, three times a day after meals, laddy. You won't last long in reality TV with stools like yours!"
6.00pm, Friday November 19, 2010 - Drat! No peerage this time round. Told I missed it by a whisker. What swung it is was a comment of mine that appeared in the press. I was doing lunch with an old "journalist" friend of mine. General chit-chat about the state of the economy, that kind of thing. Said something like, "You've never had it so good, you bastard." By which, I meant: you, my friend, must be doing pretty well for yourself if you can afford Lafite 2000 with your lunch. But he took it to mean "You, the great unwashed, you the people, you've never had it so good, and you're a bunch of ungrateful bastards." Needless to say, his version stood and I had to eat humble pie. What really gets me though is that it wasn't the Macmillan reference that upset people. It was the use of the word "bastard". Apparently it was not befitting for a future peer of the realm to call anyone, not anyone, a bastard. Still, one bright spot is that the appointments commission argued furiously over the topic, some believing my use of language in fact to be totally appropriate for a peer. A couple of members of said commission - who happened to be close friends - whilst doing the weekly shop at Waitrose, were overheard discussing it. They got into a heated row and started debating what "good" actually meant in this day and age. Last I heard, they were ejected from the store, after they began lobbing tins of confit of duck at one another in an attempt to "settle the matter once and for all". Ho-hum, looks like it's back to reality TV for me. Maybe I can talk my way onto "I'm a Celebrity". I've been writing to the producers of the show, making them offers "they can ill refuse". I've even left a horses head in the casting editor's bed chamber. I reckon they might soon come round and allow me onto the show as a "guest celebrity tosser" - that is, if I finesse my approach just a bit. Who knows? It's just possible, in this day and age, that an appearance on a celebrity TV show might just get me the peerage I've always coveted. Although I fear Simon Cowell might beat me to it. Lord Cowell of X-Fuctor, the very thought!
Saturday 30 October 2010 - After Lord Sugar and the "kidney beans affair", I'm informed I no longer have a place on The Apprentice. I must take my mischief elsewhere. I note Channel 4 has commissioned another inane property series from the vacuous Kirstie Allslop. God knows why. They say the woman is the daughter of a Baronet but she appears grimly suburban to me. Still she could be useful to me, so I ring up her gophers. I tell them about my plans to convert my "loft extension" in Chiswick into a "sustainable living environment" for dogs, goats, fish, monkeys and, needless to say, humans. The Allslop crew are game and tell me they'll be round in a jiffy. Toothy Kirstie, gushing like a walrus on speed arrives a little later. "Not much of a loft," she sighs, taking one look at my two bedroom mansion flat. "It will be once you've done your stuff, darling," I reply, then wink knowingly. She shakes her head. "Where are the animals supposed to go?" I tell her that if she can just convert the flat into a multiple occupancy des-res, I'll handle the animal situation. I have an old mate at London Zoo who, for a "consideration" will transport wild animals to anywhere in West London within twenty four hours. Dear old Kirstie delivers her part of the bargain pretty impressively I have to say. The flat is decked out with multi-storey barns, cages and pens into which I can pop my menagerie. "I have to say, Kirstie, that in the normal run of things I loathe you. But on this occasion you've really come up trumps." "Thanks, asshole," she replies. "All in a day's work." Unfortunately, the wonderful arrangement goes awry when the animals arrive. The bozo at London Zoo has totally screwed up the order. Instead of goats, he's delivered Wildebeest - or Wildebaastards as we used to call them back in my Nairobi days. I try to shove a couple of the ugly creatures into the "spacious mezzanine pen" that Kirstie and her gophers have designed, but they're having none of it. They go into reverse and start charging around the "loft conversion" sending hens, donkeys and monkeys flying. An angry chimp grabs one of the cameras and attempts to ram it down Kirstie's throat. After coughing up bits of lens she declares she is "fucked" if she is going to carry on with this farce. Her team beat a hasty retreat, as do most of the animals - never to be seen again. I am left having to clean up the mess. Needless to say, when the edition of the show - entitled "Safe as Houses" - is aired, her damned editors have cut all the violent bits out and simply pan around the flat proudly displaying the " beautifully designed, multiple-species eco-habitat for the twenty first century."
Wednesday 13 October 2010 - I'm still hoping the coalition government will make me its new "Latin Tsar". Though I accept, due to budgetary constraints, I may have to wait a while. In the meantime I occupy myself by attending Big Brother Week at the Royal Albert Hall (in conjunction with Channel 4). The event celebrates the end of the eponymous reality TV show that was a hit with the educationally subnormal through much of the "Noughties". I spy some of the faces associated with the dismal series, including a silicon enhanced pole-dancer named Sonia; a seven foot transvestite called Jacqui; a welder by the unlikely name of Gary St Pierre whose brother almost achieved thirteen minutes of fame in series one; the mother in law of a night club hostess called Cath who once snogged an ageing rockstar; the ex-boyfriend of a hairdresser called Sandi who shagged a Premier League footballer (though he denies it), and someone called Simone whose ample love-jugs were the talk of much of series three. It would be nice to think the event marked the end of a sorry era where fame and fortune could be had through ritual self-abasement and bedding celebs, rather than through talent, hard work and integrity. But I can't help noticing that a number of second-rate MPs and respected media figures are merrily fraternising with the vulgar throng, no doubt in the vain hope the moronic chic might rub off on them. Plus ca change, Rodney, plus ca change... as a certain south London wide boy once said.
Thursday 7 October 2010 - I talk my way onto The Apprentice with its cockney peer, Lord Sugar. The contestants arrive with absurd job titles like "International Assistant Telecoms Marketing Consultant" and "Vice President of Global Financial Back-Office Support Functions". I tell the bearded Lord my name is Doctor Ho. I claim to be the cunning mathematician who designed the credit derivatives models that almost bankrupted the Western economies back in 2008. To my surprise he's dead impressed and asks whether I'd like to come and work for him designing his new Amstrad Global Android Teleporter, whatever that is. But I show the desired humility and reply: "Not before I have proved myself as one of your apprentices, Lord Shitter." The task, this episode, is to come up with a "branding solution" that can be franchised out to a range of products from perfume to sportswear. The catch is, it must appeal to the nouveau riche and the chattering classes - the bien pensants. The thinking here is to replicate the success of so-called "public service programmes" like Strictly Come Dancing that have managed to penetrate the Islington bourgeoisie and chav scum ghettoes in equal measure. I persuade my team to give the idea short shrift and simply to poison the opposing team with uncooked kidney beans. Having dispatched our opposition we pay lip service to the task in hand and deliver a "branding solution" complete with logo called "Lord Sugar De La Toilette" . The bearded git has no choice but to accept our second rate solution and fire the other team after they start vomiting and crapping all over his board room. With our mission accomplished we win the ultimate accolade - a night of unrestrained hedonism and substance abuse at Bouji's. Sadly the Lord decides to join us, but is mysteriously taken ill after we force him to tuck into a bowl of the uncooked kidney beans we prepared earlier. He is last seen trying to drive his Bentley back to Neasden (or from wherever it is he hails) whilst stopping regularly to chuck faecal matter out of his in-car slop bucket.
Wednesday 15 September 2010 - The Den draws to a close and I'll give it one last try. Failing that my only hope of fame and fortune is that jumped-up Lord Sugar's Apprentice, which I loathe. I pull out all the stops with my disguise: A Charlie Chaplin day-glo orange moustache, Mohican hair cut, tweed suit and, rather cleverly, Ray-Bans to hide my shifty eye-movements. I call myself Professor Fritz Ponzi and speak in a mid-Atlantic, faintly Germanic accent. I ask for one million for a ten per cent stake in my new faith-based investment vehicle called The Bank of Cant. This combines ethical investing with spiritual development - or so I'd have the Dragons think. Basically it's a subtle pyramid, or Ponzi scheme - hence the droll surname. I tell the Dragons that participants of the scheme are buying into a stake in "Nirvana". Each participant must sell the concept (of Nirvana) to eight or more friends or colleagues in order to get their pay-back (and their Nirvana). Those eight then sell to another eight, and so on and so forth. I sum up with a final flourish: "Never has there been a greater opportunity for the few to gain wealth and spiritual gratification at the expense of the many and the money of the many". The room goes quiet, and one by one, the otherwise hard-nosed Dragons begin to weep then raise their hands to the ceiling. Peter Jones, beside himself with emotion, is first: "I have been waiting all my life for something like this to come along. People think of me as ruthless and wealth-obsessed, but even I, Peter, long for salvation." Duncan, wiping the tears from his eyes adds: "I'm nay normally one ta blub, but I think tha' this is tha greatest invention ever known ta man." Deborah just shakes her head, too choked with tears to talk. Whilst James and Theo just repeat the old mantra: "By Socrates, the man's a genius... by Socrates, the man's a genius." The Dragons fall to their knees; they weep and they wail, thanking me for offering them such a wonderful investment opportunity. I bask in this glory for a few moments, waiting for offers to come in. But then, predictably, tragically, Evan blows it. There is no disguise anywhere, it seems, that can escape his beady eye. "Oh, dear oh dear oh dear. You again." He whips off my moustache and there are shrieks of astonishment in the Den. "Why oh why do you think the BBC gave me this job, eh? Eh?" Evan asks. I reply: "I don't know. Because you're warm and cuddly in contrast to these merciless Dragons?" "No, because of my fearsome reputation in unmasking repeat time-wasters like yourself." "Oh, I see," I say. "Go hence," he cries. "And never darken this doorstep again." As I leave the Den for the last time, I turn and say to Evan. "Listen Evan, let's face it, deep down you're just that meerkat in the insurance advert. Am I right?" Tears well up in his eyes. "And," I conclude "For me, you... will always be... that meerkat."
Proust can help
Wednesday 8 September 2010 - Word reaches me that Aurora and Minxy have been arrested after an almighty punch-up in a restaurant in Notting Hill. They sent customers ducking for cover as glasses, bottles and plates were thrown, and left the restaurant with a major clean-up operation. Apparently Minxy has written an account of the menage a trois and is seeking a publisher. When she heard about this, Aurora had a major hissy fit and ended up throwing a glass of red wine over Minxy, who responded with a slap. That's when the bottles started flying. I can't say I'm awfully surprised as this kind of hysteria was a frequent occurrence when they were shacked up with me. I remember many occasions when screaming fits and unrestrained door slamming continued way into the early hours of the morning. Just glad that I'm not part of it any more. I speak to my good friend and philosopher Alain De Botton, who is currently writing a self-help manual on threesomes entitled "How Proust can help you cope with menages a trois". I ask him to point out the salient passages in A La Recherche that are intended to enlighten the reader, but the mean bastard replies: "Mais non! That would be cheating, mon ami. You must read the complete twelve volumes to understand the nature of this assistance." I ask him what the point of his self-manual is if it doesn't indicate the relevant passages. He just shrugs and says, "It is seulement a pointer, an aide de memoire. But I make clear in this grande oeuvre of mine that the reader, he must apply himself quite rigourously to the entire twelve books." I reply: "Yes, Alain. But by the time you've done that, you'll have forgotten why it was you were reading it in the first place, won't you?" "Ah! D'Accord, mon ami." he replies. "C'est vrai. But then, perhaps that would be a good thing. N'est ce pas?"
28 August 2010 - I decide I'll give it another try with Aurora and call to express my "deep sense of sorrow" at her recent departure. She agrees to meet up and we copulate a couple of times. But it all goes pear-shaped when I tell her I'm still in contact with my wife. I insist it's unavoidable, especially at "handover" times - i.e. when it's my turn to take care of the kids. But she's having none of it and tells me to take a hike. She says I'm a horny middle-aged retard with a screw loose and major commitment issues. I find this somewhat upsetting, needless to say. But I'm determined to prove her wrong (about the retard bit at least). I decide I'll have one last shot at the Den, hoping to land the killer blow that'll bring me ever-lasting fame and fortune. Of course, I must conjure up a disguise, as they all know me round there. I grow a goatee beard, which I dye red and roll up with an invention that is not software orientated (dead give-away that). The product is revolutionary, if not a touch controversial. It's a drink called Mephshot - a brandy based liqueur, laced with the celebrated drug Mephedrone. If they don't go crazy over this, then I'm hanging up my clogs for good. I enter the Den under the pseudonym Professor Mivvy. They don't cotton on. I hand each a shot and I caution: sip slowly. A few moments later their little faces light up and they seem animated, even cheerful. But it looks like I've got the doses wrong, over-estimated the Meph needed to produce the hit. The Dragons become garrulous, start talking over one another as they fight to secure a stake in my "exquisite" Mephshot. Then Deborah, evidently horny, strips naked and starts hitting on Theo. He's having none of it, caught up as he is in his own philosophical reveries. He repeats his mantra: "Plato got it wrong, Plato got it wrong..." Then Duncan leaps up and starts hopping around the studio, quacking like a duck. Pete, the kinda guy you'd really expect to take to Mephedrone, sporadically moans and sighs and tells everyone how boring life at the top really is. "I've always been the organ-grinder but I really want to be the monkey." He follows Deborah's lead and strips naked, then bounds round the Den making chimp noises. Finally, Evan works out something's wrong. He strolls up to me and says: "I think we may have met before, eh... Beardy?" I panic and try to explain myself. But he continues: "You thought that by dyeing your beard, you could pull the wool over our eyes, eh?" "That's a mixed metaphor, isn't it?" I shoot back. But he informs me that he's going to have my potion tested by the BBC's narcotics department and promptly evicts me from the Den. As I leave, my head is filled with the sound of screaming and cackling. Evan vainly tries to restore order, but the Dragons are clearly having none of it. Naturally, I look forward to watching the episode on television - assuming it is ever broadcast..
Tuesday August 10th 2010 - Boy, they're scraping the bottom of the barrel: Sir George's cousin, affectionately known as Lord Cess-Pitt, has wangled a slot on the latest Den. I've no idea how he did it. The fellow's as mad as a hatter with a reputation for disturbingly impulsive behaviour. In fact he hasn't been allowed on telly since the mid 1990s. He was being asked about the chances of a Labour Government and proceeded to throttle the interviewer because he didn't like the cut of his gib. Evan D must have warmed to the daft old fellow, I suppose - we all know Evan's a big softie. The Lord is apparently trying to purloin a million from the Dragons for his Universal Fart-Kill TM , a machine he claims will "destroy nasty niffs in an instant". The Lord himself has some form when it comes to flatulence and he starts filling the Den with some "nasty niffs" of his own. The Dragons start gagging as he tells them that they're currently experiencing the side-effects of "last night's Chicken Tikka Masala". Deborah is having none of it and proclaims: "My father didn't fight in three cold wars only to live in a country where people can blow off at will". Duncan, who is made of sterner stuff, turns to her and says, "Ya disn't fight in cold wars, dis ya, ye daft old tart? Tha's the whole point." But Deborah does her usual let's-kick-Duncan-in-the-gonads routine and dissappears off to the powder room, retching as she goes. Despite this song and dance, the noble Lord is clearly onto a winner. Within seconds of switching on his machine, the remaining Dragons appear to be in seventh heaven as the Fart-Kill TM effortlessly removes the odour of Lord Cess-Pitt's curry and replaces it with the pleasant waft of parma violets. Deborah returns and is in rapture as she breathes in "the loveliest smell known to man". She is about to offer the full million when Theo gets up and does his 'elf and safe' routine. He takes a large claw hammer from his pocket and violently smashes the gizmo several times. Then he picks up a piece of the broken plastic and says: "Oh dear oh dear oh dear, a child could choke on this." The odour of the noble Lord's curry returns with a vengeance - and the Dragons start gagging again. The outraged Lord wrestles Theo to the floor and sits on his face. Apparently he wishes to "ram the Tikka Masala home". Evan, wearing a standard-issue gas mask, now enters the Den and separates the grappling duo, then leads the noble Lord out of the Den wagging his finger vigorously. As the Dragons evacuate the Den, Peter turns and looks one last time at the debris left by Theo, and says wistfully: "Real shame. Really think we could've gone somewhere with this."
July 31 2010 - Clarkson's on the blower. Can't say it's a surprise. He's all of flutter over AA Gill's weekly column. Gill made a remark about some BBC presenter - a lady who's somewhat rotund and known for her Sapphic tendencies. Called her a " big dyke on a bike" and it's created a bit of a stir. She complained to the newspaper in question but Gill is refusing to apologise. The spat's even hit Twitter and is currently spreading like wildfire. Everybody wants a piece of the action. Even the former Labour deputy leader Lord Prescott's been tweeting - whether it's in defence of her lesbianism or her size - he is not exactly lithe - is none too clear. Clarkson clearly wants to stick his oar in: "You have some form in this area, do you not, guv'nor?" "Well, kind of, I suppose." "Well, here's the thing: I was thinking that maybe old Jezza should do something counter-intuitive for once." "Yes?" I reply. "Yep. I wonder what you think of this. I was pondering this one over my not insubstantial full English breakfast this morning." "Full English, eh?" "Absolutely. Every Saturday morning, like clockwork - full English. And that's not all. I follow it up with scones and petits-fours." "Really? Petits-fours? For breakfast?" "Damn right, guv'nor. Funnily enough, Gill himself introduced me to them. They round off a full English really rather well. You should give it a go some time." "Maybe I will, although I might go easy on the rashers of bacon and the sausages if I do." "Anyway, enough of this tittle-tattle about breakers. I was thinking, why doesn't old Jezza do the opposite of what everyone expects him to do." "Which is?" "Which is, everyone expects Jezza to come out in defence of Gill and talk about freedom of speech and the right to call a dyke a dyke and all that. And I was thinking why don't I do the opposite and play the part of the caring geyser." "Interesting idea." "Yeah, I thought that it might do my public profile no end of good if I said something along the lines off: 'What right does a brute and a bully like Gill have to injure the feelings of this sensitive creature? Isn't it about time some of us stood up for the rights and the feelings of big butch lezzas?' What do you think of that guv'nor?" "Well, it's certainly concise. What d'you think your mate Gill would make of it?" "Oh, sod Gill!" replies Clarkson abruptly. "He still hasn't taken back those comments he made about my poor dress sense. Said I'd been wearing the same old pair of jeans since I was a cub reporter for the Chichester Evening Herald, AND - get this - that the pressure might cause my expanding gut to blow at any moment." "Wow! That's pretty uncompromising." "You can say that again." "But," I add. "What you're really trying to do is broaden this whole thing into a spat between you and Gill, am I right?" "Yeah, well, you could say that. guv'nor." "Well it would certainly keep the debate going, that's for sure." "Damn right guv'nor... And not only that, but I reckon that Gill is a bit of a closet wuss himself, if you catch my drift." "Yes, I catch your drift all right. Well, you never know, it might just work and give you the publicity you crave... in a round-about kind of way." "Thanks guv'nor. I knew you'd see sense." He sounds rather pleased with himself and follows up with: "You know what? I think I'm going to do it." I sigh and respond, "Good luck to you Jezza." But I realise he's already hung up.
July 25, 2010 - A new series of "Celebrity Bury an Elephant" is in production and my mother rings to tell me Cousin Otto has very kindly offered me a minor research role - whatever that involves. "It's about time you procured proper paid employment," she says, "rather than trifling with these weird little projects of yours. If you really want something in the media then you would do well to work under his wing for a while and watch how the professionals operate." The prospect hardly fills me with excitement. The reality show involves a load of B-listers having to pool their "talents" (as it were) to bury (in the quickest time possible) the largest land mammal known to man. Apparently no elephants are harmed during the making of the programme as the BBC purchases only creatures that have died of natural causes at various zoos around the world - that, or elephants that have already succumbed to the ivory poachers' bullets and whose bodies are still fresh enough to transport to West London. "I really cannot see how working on such a show will further the kind of career that I am pursuing," I tell her. "I'm really after something more cerebral." My mother replies haughtily: "Your cousin has been very patient with you, I have to say. He has no need to offer you such jobs especially in view of your total lack of gratitude - or interest, for that matter." "But mother," I say, "They're just not my cup of tea. I want to do something intellectually more challenging." "Utter poppycock. You have to start somewhere in the media. Your Dragons thing got you nowhere at all. And it really is about time you saw how proper media folk work." She sighs and then continues: "And I probably shouldn't tell you this. But he has hinted that if you play your cards right you might even get a job on his next project: Celebrity Pariah Rehabilitation." "You what?" I shriek. What the hell is all that about?" "Well, listen, you must keep this to yourself," she replies. "But Otto's next project will be altogether more 'cerebral', as you put it. He'll be teaming up the finest legal minds in the land. And he says that each of these legal minds will be attempting to re-brand their chosen rogue, pariah, dictator or what-have-you?" "What?" "Yes. Each team will focus on a pariah, whether it be Saddam or Idi Amin or Doctor Crippen. And they'll be competing against one another to rebuild his or her reputation. All sounds rather exciting. There'll be a premium rate phone line on which viewers can knock out whomsoever they consider to be the least rehabilitated candidate in any given week. All rather gripping, I think you'll agree." "Sounds totally crazy to me." I reply. "Plus it's another premium rate rip off." "Oh. Lighten up," she replies. "This show could go global, and if you play your cards right you could get a plum research role rehabilitating Karadic or somebody. And just imagine, if your team won, it would set you up on a path to a broader media career." "Broader media derision more like." "Well, there you go again," she says dismissively. "You'll never get anywhere with that kind of attitude. I really sometimes wonder why I bother, I really do." "I'm sorry mother," I reply. "It's just, it's just... oh, I don't know." "Well have a think about it and stop being so negative." She pauses. "And you never know," she concludes. "You might actually even enjoy it, God forbid."
July 14 2010 - Been expecting this call... Evan is having a hissy fit about PJ's plans to re-brand "The Den" and give it a mobster-style makeover. "You know Beardy, I sometimes think that this bad-ass image the Dragons want to project is a bit last season." "Couldn't agree with you more, my old Meerkat chummy. I've given up the bad-ass image myself, I have to say. Out with the sex, drugs, drags and rock and roll and in with an altogether more ascetic existence." "Really? You do surprise me" "Yes, every morning I'm up with the larks and meditating like a Buddhist monk." "Wow!" replies Evan. "Wonder how long that'll last." "Wonder myself sometimes." "The thing is," Evan continues, "I rather feel that the Dragons should be projecting a more wholesome... a cleaner, perhaps even greener image in this day and age. You know less the roaring twenties and more the age of austerity." "You have a point." "Thank you... thank you for your support." "You're welcome, Ev." "And the thing is, we really have had some very queer submissions to the latest series of the Dragons, I have to say." "Really?" I reply. "What? Queerer than one of Sir George's inventions?" "Much, much queerer, indeed. I mean there's one guy coming on to showcase his Martian Invasion Detector." "You're kidding?" "I kid you not. And get this, another fellow is going to bring on a Humane, Green Badger Exterminator." "Wo! Sounds a bit controversial to me." "Indeed," sighs Evan. "Very controversial. But he's trying to make out that because it's humane and green, then it's very much "de nos jours". Says that his machine will kill badgers humanely and hilariously with laughing gas and then recycle them into a range of mittens and other "fun childrens' clothing ideas". And I just wonder whether it's really what the world needs right now." "Well, I'd say leave it to the market, Evan. If it's any good the Dragons will see its potential and they'll bid for it, and if not they'll do their gangster thing and cast the guy out of the Den." "Yes, but that's what worries me. I don't want Peter or Duncan, or, God forbid, Theo doing their "get the fucking fuck outta here" routine and threatening to give the fellow a concrete overcoat. It's just not the kind of image the Beeb needs right now." "I'm bound to say I agree with you. But you have to remember that the "Capo di tutti capi" Mark Thompson is fixated on ratings is he not? And this might even scare the shit out of the BBC Trust and that Michael Lyons fellow, and get him to back off from this expenses thing." "Yes, you have a point there. But I just can't help thinking that we should be going green, not gangster." "Let me think this one through Evan. I'm sure there's a solution. Maybe we could invent a new business idea... How about gangster green? Or green gangster? Or how about the The Green Dragons" "You know, you may be onto something there. I rather like the direction you're heading." After a brief pause, I carry on: "Listen, leave it with me. I'll see if I can come up with a solution to your present dilemma. There's always a solution to a dilemma, my Meerkat Chum, is there not?" "Yes, thanks, Beardy. I suppose you're right. Always a solution." "Anyway, I'll get straight onto this." "Okay, thanks, Beardy. You're a pal." "Don't mention it." I reply, feeling rather pleased with myself. But before Evan calls off, he adds: "Oh and just one thing..." "Yes, Evan?" "Could you... could you do less of the... you know the Meerkat thing if you wouldn't mind? It's also a bit last season, I feel, and not really very funny any more." "No probs, Evan. No problems at all... Consider it history." I reply, racking my brains for a new insult.
The Den Again
New series of the 'Dragons' out soon, and this time they're taking no prisoners - or so I'm told. I get a call from Peter Jones and he tells me that some 'guys' he knows from the East Coast State of 'New Joisey' have been in touch and have made the Dragons an offer they simply cannot refuse. These 'wiseguys' are keen to show the Dragons how they do 'mean' in that ruthless business environment we call the US of A. Pete starts on a lighter note however: "Sorry to hear about your departure from the show, Squire. But let's face it your invention didn't really pass muster." "That's okay," I reply. "I'm kind of looking at other ventures right now anyway, if you catch my drift." "Yo, right, Squire. I catch that drift all right," he replies trying to sound casual and hip. He continues: "Anyway, looks like all that funny business over Joe Pesci might be paying dividends after all." Yes?" I reply, slightly bemused. "Yeah, right on," he replies, maintaining his cool manner. Then he starts going overboard: "Yeah, looks like deez guys wanna give us some advice on how we come down hard on dem mutherfuckers who ask for money, right?" I'm shocked by Pete's choice of words. "Muther-what? You mean those poor timid contestants whom you're always laying into?" "Damn right, Dude. We gonna take no shit from dem timid sonsofbitches no more." I sigh - this hip talk really doesn't suit a man of Peter's standing. But he is probably going through one of those male mid-life crises everyone's talking about nowadays - the kind where grey suited businessmen fear that life's passed them by and they've little to show for their labours other than work and the endless commute and suburban tedium. These men start trying to inject a bit of rock and roll into their lives - usually with absurd consequences... Anyway, I decide to play along with this jive thing: "So, Pete, my main man. You gonna give 'em hell, like?" "Yo, Bladd," he replies. I gulp - for Pete's sake, this is going too far. "Okay, Peter... dude," I respond, trying to tone it down a bit. "What gives exactly?" "Okay, I'll tell you what gives, Squire, I mean, Bladd. What gives is that we is going to take lessons in the art of being like total bastards from none other than these Calabrese wiseguys that is like operating out of Joisey, US of A... catch my drift. It's the crime gang known as Ndrangheta. And boy, are they gonna show us how to kick ass." I take a moment to reflect. "Are you totally sure about this, Pete... dude, er mate? Is it really such a good idea?" "You betcha," he says confidently. "We is going to be the meanest bunch of Dragons this planet has ever seen... apart of course from that Dragon in Beowulf." "You saw the film, did you?" "Sure did, dude. That Dragon was real mean... But with the help of our friends in Ndrangheta, I betcha we'll be stiff competition in the meanness stakes." "Glad to hear it Pete. I look forward to watching the new series. Sounds awesome." "You betcha life it will be, dude... We even thinking of renaming the show." "Yes, Pete?" "Yeah, damn right. Duncan B and I are gonna go right up to the mini-main-man, Evan D and put it to him straight." "Oh, really? Put it to him straight?" "Yo, dude. We gonna ask if we can start calling the show Ndrangheta's Den. You know like because it sounds a bit like Dragons Den." "Great, Pete," I reply, exhaling slowly then coughing in order to suppress a guffaw. "Sounds great... really, really great."
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow... offers up a familiar tale: one of the media world's 'big beasts' has been snared in a classic harlots and whips sting and it is now splashed all over pages one to three of a popular tabloid. Bit of a set piece affair, I wager - three ropey tarts in vaguely military costumes brandishing cat-o'-nine-tails, nipple clamps, latex bras, suspenders and patent leather boots. The regalia in this case suggests a departure from the norm: Sex and Swastikas are somewhat passé. They're superseded by something more oriental in tone. Apparently the chap in question long harboured a fixation with the Chinese People's Liberation Army as well as one of its more notorious historical figures, a Madame Mao. The photos are of the usual blurred, grainy type and vaguely show a balding man bent over a chair, receiving forty lashes on his unloved rear-end. The paper has entitled the article: "The Great Whip Forward.". Now... was this whips and suspenders thing a motif of the actual "Great Leap Forward"? I have my doubts I have to say. But who cares? The point here yet again - yawn yawn - is another alpha male is brought down by a dominatrix or by dominatrices unknown. Of course people will make out that this is exactly what dominatrices do - they bring down all those otherwise indomitable alpha males. However, I would have thought that this sentiment shows a basic misunderstanding of the nature of 'the beast'. Surely, if you are truly an alpha male, if you are indeed a 'Big Beast' who ordinarily dominates all around you, then why not adopt the same approach, the same modus operandi when it comes to the dominatrices in your life? It is fair to say that these 'ladies of the night' should only really dominate alpha males in the bedroom... they should only dominate in, and of, the night as it were. And what goes on in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom. Makes sense, right? I would have thought that alpha males, the 'Big Beasts' would do well to grasp this point: They should start getting to grips with these dominant females. Put it another way... Alpha males! Never, repeat never, allow the dominatrices in your life to step out of line. There'll be merry hell to pay, if you do. Believe me.
It's insanity, Jim. But not as we know it.
21 June 2010 - The word buzzin' round the Bush Telegraph - these days known as the Blogosphere - is that the former Prime Minister, Mr. Brown is struggling to hold it all together. His once formidable neurons, it is alleged, are engaged in some kind of Brownian motion - that is to say, firing off in all directions and in a somewhat random manner. He appears to believe that little green men will arrive on Earth some time soon and whisk him off to his new command post somewhere in the proximity of Cirrus Minor, from where he can continue his quest to save the world. I dare say he has a point, as I often feel like this myself. But clearly the election must have taken its toll and the experience of losing what at one point appeared to be a dead cert has sent his head into a spin. This insanity lark can be rather troubling at times, I'll warrant you. You get horny for all kinds of pills and potions - just as normal people do with their booze and their prozac - but what you really crave is a spot of value-added... A bit of kick. These politicians would do well to stop banning things, I'd say. They should stop making people feel guilty about how they want to live. After all, we all have our crosses to bear (excuse the cliche). But clearly a lot of them believe that this is their sole function in life - to make others feel guilty. Perhaps they should just stop and think for one moment, when they suspect that they might be on the verge of insanity, whether their own troubled consciences are to blame. But then, that would defeat the whole point of politics, I suppose. Would it not?
16th June 2010 - Electronic Vuvuzela
A voice I haven’t heard for a while... Sir George is on the blower and he’s in a right stew. “What’s all this I hear about Evan? Put the kybosh on my Satnav-Division-Bell cycle helmet so I'm told. Put my heart and soul into the old ‘Bellster’. Really don’t expect it to be dismissed in such a cavalier fashion.” I take a deep breath and reply: “Look Sir G., it’s nothing personal. The Dragons have given a big thumbs-down to my invention as well. Shit happens. And frankly I haven’t the energy to cause a stink. Also, those Sapphic teases - you know, those ladies who were living with me? Well, they just bailed out leaving me with a huge pile of mail order lingerie cluttering the landing and hallway and I’m simply trying to sort this shit out and get my life back on track.” Sir George’s manner changes: “Oh, I am sorry old boy. It’s a blasted pain when these live-in lesbians leave you with a pile of unclaimed underwear cluttering the old ‘common parts’. It happened to my uncle Otto, back in the sixties. He thought he’d never had it so good what with these fishnets and Basques knocking about... Well that was until young Mandy Rice Davies popped round and claimed in no uncertain terms that it all belonged to her and her mail order company and it hadn’t been paid for.” “Shit, you have a point. Wonder if the Sapphists paid for it... I trust that no-one’s going to break my door down and tell me I’m liable for it all.” “I’d flog it yourself old boy. You probably need the wonga, especially if these ladies of Lesbos have left you destitute and also what with the Dragons casting you out of the Den as it were.” I sigh and momentarily feel like weeping. I pull myself together and say: “Good thinking.” Sir George quickly changes the subject: “Listen, old boy. You won’t believe this, but guess what? Got another invention.” My heart sinks. “Oh... really?” “Yes indeedy. Thought I might pop round. You can tell me what you think, if that’s okay by you.” “Well, yes, I suppose so,” I reply. He carries on: “It’s something I’m trying to roll out for the 2012 Olympics. You know, I think it could be a real winner.” “Oh right. Jolly good. What is it exactly?” He grunts, then chuckles: “An electronic vuvuzela, as it happens. You know, like the thingy they’re using at the footie World Cup whats-it... But this one’s electronic. And you know what? It’s an absolute beaut. Cousin Cammienicks and I have been working on it for days now. Joint project sort of thing. What do you think? Sound interesting? Shall we pop round?” “You might as well. “ I reply, lost for words. “Suppose I could do with the company.” “And who knows?” he continues. “If you and I... and Cousin Cammienicks are really smart we might be able to work out some kind of joint venture thing, you know what with all this lingerie of yours knocking about. Special offer perhaps. Free panties with every vuvuzela. That kind of thing.” “Okay...” I reply. He adds: “You have to admit, old boy. Does rather have a ring to it don’t you think?”
Climb out of bed, grey-matter turgid, in flux. Stagger round flat and it slowly dawns on me that the Sapphists have cleared out. No note, just a couple of empty cupboards and a tray full of cigarette butts. I’m swaying over the bog, pissing something the colour of Black Label, when the phone rings. I grab it as it’s tripping onto message. “Right Guv’nor, I’ve a proposal you might like.” Its Clarkson, sounding unusually chipper. “Hi, bit hungover,” I croak. “Never mind that. Know how you feel, mind. But got something that might interest you.” “Yes?” “Yep.Guess what? AA Gill and I are starting up a political party.” “Really?” I chuckle. “No joke, Guv’nor. We think it’s about time we put a stop to all this namby pamby, love-in, consensus politics and showed everyone what real men are like.” “Wow, well I suppose you’re the man to do it.” “Damn right.” “AA Gill, though... Never struck me as the political type.” “No, me neither. But he says he’s on board. Or at least he did late last night. And guess what? The Top Gear boys are signed up.” “Really?” “Yep. Reckon that James May would make a good Chancellor and Hamster Hammond... Well, he has the makings of a Foreign Secretary, I’d say.” “And Gill?” I ask “Spiritual leader of the party, I reckon.” “Sounds excellent,” I reply, biting my lip. “So, you on board, too?” “Listen Jezza, got a lot on my plate. Just found out that the two women cohabiting with me weren’t interested in me at all but were more interested in eachother.” “Whoa... Shame.” He says earnestly. “Same thing happened to me once.” “Really?” “Yep. You never can tell with lezzas.” “Well, you can suspect but you can’t tell.” Clarkson sighs. “Mind you,” he says, “I reckon that all women are lezzas at heart.” “Really?” “Yeah, well they are after they’ve met me,” he says and sniggers.
Tuesday March 30th, 2010 - Duncan calls, crack of dawn - sounds remarkably upbeat. "Did I wake you, ya lazy sass?" he asks and sniggers. "No, I was already..." I reply, stifling a yawn. "Yeah, yeah, okay" he continues, "Some of us work for a living rather than lying in bed all day." "Six? Six O' Clock!" "Yeah, yeah." - He couldn't care less. "Anyway that's not why was calling, just to chat with you about your beddy-byes." "No?" "Listen, we all thought your invention was shite, that piece of software you brought on the show. All four of us agreed - utter shite - so we told Evan to get rid of ye." "Oh, right. Charming. Thanks." "Welcome, mate. Done you a favour, I reckon. Good money after bad, don't want that. But, anyway, the thing is, those pictures that were on ya laptop." I cut in quickly: "They weren't mine, you know." "Of course they weren't, ya lying shite." "No really, I had some kind of a virus or something." "Yeah, right, virus. Porn virus, is that? New one on me. In all ma years dealing with software, never came across a porn virus." "I don't know where they came from." "Yeah right, right. Listen, mate, I don't care about that. Thing is, I actually thought that for a bunch of hoity toity Victorian pictures they were pretty fucking amazing... You know in an arty sort of a way." "I suppose you have got a point there. They were certainly very arty." "Yeah, arty's like crucial with this kind of thing. 'Cos like you need the art to get the erotic appeal across, do ya not, mate?" "I imagine you do, one does." I try not to give too much away. An awkward silence follows. Duncan is clearly working his way round to something. He carries on: "Also, I didn't know they were so raunchy in those days." "Christ, nor did I Dunc. Some of them were pretty hard core... even by today's standards." "Say that again." Another pregnant pause, then I ask: "So anyway, Duncan, is that why you were ringing, those lithographs?" "Kind of." Yet more reticence. Then he says confidently: "Listen, what do you think of, like, setting up a website that has this kind of thing on it? People might like it, they might flock to it." "Golly. I don't really know. Never thought about doing anything pornographic." He continues: "No, me neither. But, like, I might even be prepared to give you some financial backing. You know, invest. But you'd have to do all the work, the setting up. The little woman wouldn't like the idea of me kind of... you know." "Yes, I understand." I reply sympathetically. "But like, what do you think? Could ya make a go of it, d'ya reckon?" "Well, I could certainly have a think about it, look into it, I suppose. The pictures were certainly... you know, unusual... certainly entertaining, that's for sure." "Good man," he says. "Listen why don't you do a bit of research into how you purchase the originals as well. That would be the best solution, I reckon. You know with copyright and that. You want the original prints." "Yeah, of course. Makes sense. I will, I'll look into it." "Good, good. I'm always looking for something new, as you know. And I reckon vintage porn could be the next "new" thing, if ya catch ma drift. Plus it could earn you a bob or two. Think on it." "I will Duncan. Yes, thanks. I'll do just that." "Anyway, catch ya later, ya antiquarian porn merchant, you." "Yes, thanks for that, Dunc.," I reply cautiously. "I'll let you know how I get on."
Thursday 25th March 2010 - Day three: No word from Aurora or Minxy. Tense, uptight women keep turning up at the flat - it's the same exchange every time: "Slinky Minx... Lingerie?" I tell them the slinky individual in question no longer operates from here. I soon tire of this and put a note on the door: "No lingerie at this address". Then Minxy calls. She sounds rough, her voice husky. "Been burning the candle?" I ask innocently. She replies, "Not with the right bitches." "Oh, right, right, I see." "So what are you up to?" she asks. Before I can answer she continues, "You in later? Fancy a smoke?" "Oh, er smoke? As in, er, smoke?" "Or a line if you prefer. Whatever." She turns up two hours later, her pupils black and menacing. She plonks herself in the kitchen, lights up, says nothing. She passes the twisted, grubby joint from which I draw cautiously, daintily. She says, "It's true, skunk makes you really fucking horny." I don't exhale, I cough moronically. "Good, good. Excellent," I reply, still choking. The phone rings, and I observe a smile on Minxy's face. Aurora's voice booms down the line, "Is that fucking bitch there?" My head, already in a swim, nosedives. "What what what do you you mean?" I ask. "She's there, isn't she? Have you two just done a line?" I'm fucked, but I make an effort: "No hold on... what are you, what are you, why why do you say a line?" "The fucking bitch," she replies. "You fucking have, both of you." She slams the phone down hard. I turn to Minxy who is now grinning. "What the fuck was all that...?" I ask. Minxy shrugs unconvincingly and says the words "Fuck knows," through a cloud of smoke. "If I were you, I'd just forget about it and do a line."
Avatars are to be worn at all times
Saturday 20 March 2010 - I stay up until five but the ladies don’t show. So much for confronting them. When I catch up with them late the next day, the air is thick with anger and recrimination and they only communicate through a series of grunts. I gather a major falling out has occurred - something to do with another woman and possibly drugs. But they are clearly not going to open up. Tiring of this, I try seizing the initiative. I hint that from now on the flat will be an enterprise-free zone. The response? First silence. Then, half an hour later, Minxy storms out of the flat bag in hand, thoughtfully slamming the door with all the force she can muster. “That was helpful,” says Aurora. “Help wasn’t what I had in mind. You deal with your shit. I’ll deal with mine.” Aurora picks up her car keys and demonstrates her own door slamming prowess. With the air of an injured party she races through the flat collecting articles of clothing, letting out the odd sigh or grunt. Her departure’s like a starter pistol going off, as the front door shakes and rattles and holds on for dear life. But moments later, the flat is an ‘oasis’ of calm… Almost as peaceful as a couple of years back. Forgot what this was like… But that’s the last I see of either of them for a few days.
Where are we going with this?
Saturday 13th March, 2010 - To the Lyric Theatre for an open debate on the future of broadcasting - crudely entitled “FuckTV?” It's well attended, and there are one or two faces I recognise. Marr, Bragg and Mayor Johnson sit in the front row. They think no one sees, or perhaps no one cares, as they take furtive pokes inside their nasal cavities, then examine their finds. A fresh faced junior minister from Culture, Media and Sport churns out tired old platitudes. But then Clarkson, who's clearly had one too many, shouts from the back, “Fuck off, clone. Get back to Teletubbies.” Andrew Marr, who is always getting into fights with Clarkson, cannot contain himself. He storms to the back and tries to deck him. The fight spreads - Johnson is clearly up for it. But he fails to land a blow on Bragg, even though he is sitting right next to him. Soon everyone is at it and punches are flying... although the nervous Minister cowers under a table at the front, clearly not accustomed to this kind of thing. Meanwhile I spy Kevin Spacey filming it all on his Blackberry and repeating his classic mantra: “This’ll get me an Oscar… this’ll get me an Oscar…” I bail out. I have issues to confront much closer to home. Minxy’s lingerie venture has to stop, I have decided - or at least stop operating out of my flat. But I get back to find the lights out. Aurora has left a hastily scrawled note on the kitchen table telling me “don’t wait up“. She and Minxy have gone to a club called “Sappho's Pit Stop” and won’t be back until three at the earliest. Only thing for it is to wait up, I decide... Got to reassert the old what’s-it.
Avatar Blue. Don't try this at home
Sunday March 7th, 2010 - My flirtation with the Dragons is over. Evan calls me in to tell me personally. Before we part company, he says, "Listen, probably a good idea if you tell Sir George not to, you know, come in. The show's starting to become a bit surreal. And we need to, sort of, get back on track." As I head home, I ring my mother and inform her I've taken her advice. "I ditched the losers," I say. "No more Dragons." "I see," she replies. "It was you who ditched them, was it?" "Yes, absolutely. Bunch of losers." She is clearly not convinced. "Actually I was thinking of paying you a visit. I'm having tea with Cousin Maurice. Told him what you were up to, with this writing thing. Says he'd be delighted to offer some advice. Good time to pop over?" "What, now?" I reply, uninterested. All I want to do is get home and get high, rather than sit talking to smug Cousin Maurice. "Yes, now!" she replies angrily. In the end we meet up on my doorstep, Maurice, rotund, red faced and pleased with himself, my mother, as usual, impatient. We wander in; there's laughter coming from the sitting room. My mother glares at me. "Flip," I mutter. "Well, are we just going to stand here?" she asks. Then the sitting room door opens and a slightly chubby thirty-something blond dressed in lace and fishnets runs out laughing hysterically. She takes one look at us, shrieks and heads back into the living room, slamming the door behind her. Cousin Maurice can barely conceal his delight. But my mother just tuts and says, "So this must be one of the other 'irons in the fire' to which you're always referring!"
Saturday 27th February, 2010 - Recording begins and I’m praying we’re virus-free. The Dragons have been psyching themselves up, doing the whole method acting thing. They want to show they’re real mean. Theo and Peter have been trading insults, building friction and animosity. Theo: “Call yourself a entrepreneur? You is just playing Houdini with the taxman.” Peter: “Here’s the man who had a lucky lingerie break and has lived off it ever since.” Duncan likes the sound of this and sidles up to Deborah: “You lousy old tart, ye inherited everything, did ye not?” Deborah simply knees Duncan in the balls and runs to the toilet in floods of tears. Eventually I am on doing my pitch. The projector works fine and the Dragons gasp in admiration as every attempt to translate Psalms into text lingo fails. “You modernisers ain’t gonna be translating this mamma into your street jive.” I announce. Then add, “Unless of course you are cunning Lutheran computer hackers.” Everything is running smoothly, until Theo does his ‘elf n safe’ routine, and tries to show that my laptop is not child friendly. “This ain’t good,” he says banging the keyboard hard and detaching several keys. “A child could choke on one of these keys.” “Fuck you, Theo,” I shout. “What a twat you are. You don’t give this laptop to a kid.” It gets worse. An erotic lithograph pops up. It involves a French maid and a marrow. “Fuck! The virus.” I cry. “’ello, ‘ello. What ‘av we here?” asks Theo, smirking. “Very arty. And to think, in a Bible!” Deborah who is strolling back from the toilet notices the picture and shouts: “Disgusting. What on earth is the Den coming to?” She averts her eyes and runs back to the toilet. Duncan cackles wildly and says, “Now look what ya’s done, ya twat. Miss Tippy Toes ain’t going to bid for your shite invention now.”
Saturday February 20th, 2010 - Everything's gone pear-shaped. The non-downloadable Bible has been hit by a virus and pornographic Victorian lithographs are popping up all over the place. As it happens they are quite tasteful, although the poses are rather daring. Phone rings and it's a voice I'd rather been expecting. "Right, guv'nor. So what's all this you said about me? You said that Clarkson is, to quote: God's gift to feminists? Some kind of sarcasm I take it?" Deep breath: "They misquoted me, Jezza. I actually said that you are God's gift to women." He sounds chuffed, "Oh really? Well I suppose I am really." "Of course you are. But you know what they're like, these people. I say potato, they say sordid sex romp." "Shit! Did they?" he replies, shocked. "No, I mean, I'm just saying that they always misquote you." Clarkson chuckles. "You can say that again. Last week AA Gill was quoted as saying that I'm "an odious oversized, suburban bigot, and the sort of person you get drooling over the young housewives at swingers parties whilst his wife's being rogered by the aerobics instructor." "Wow, that's quite a mouthful to misquote, isn't it?" "You bet," he replies. "And Gill said nothing of the sort. What he actually said, so he tells me, was that I was "the kind of fine upstanding fellow who made Britain the kind of place it is today." "Golly, that man certainly can adapt his style when he wants. Doesn't sound like Gill at all. Who was this for? Readers Digest?" "Who gives a fuck about that? For some bunch of tossers anyway." He shifts mid sentence: "Also, actually, just remembered, there was one other thing about your quote." "Yes?" "Yes, apparently you also said "Clarkson is the best recruiting sergeant for feminism money can buy - and for that matter, the best one for a bundle of other causes as well. So can you explain that, guv'nor? Sounds a teensy bit disrespectful." "Yes," I reply hesitantly. "That was taken totally out of context." "Oh, I see. What context would that be?" "Well," I reply, struggling. "The context, as in the issue, if you like, of presenters like you... who write to spite." "Write to spite..? New one on me." "Yes, who write to offend... and I was saying, 'Why does everyone get so hot and bothered about you? They should be thanking Clarkson. He is their best recruiting sergeant. Clarkson could almost take on a job as an official 'feminist recruiting sergeant', he's so passionate." Clarkson relaxes: "I suppose you've got a point there, guv'nor. I could do that job with my eyes shut." He pauses, thinking it through. He adds: "Of course, not that I'd really want to. Bit of a shit job, when you think about it." "Quite so," I reply "And you certainly wouldn't be allowed to drive your Bugatti like a psychopath, whilst making highly sexist comments." "Not wrong there, guv'nor. Not wrong there."
Thursday February 18th, 2010 - "Man-eating Panda goes berserk in Town Centre." Spoof headlines? Clearly not a lot goes on in Surbiton. Aurora marches in, ignores me. "Who's is this?" I ask. After a momentary glance at the paper she replies: "Minxy's." Aurora's clearly in a hurry. I continue, "What she want with a copy of the Surbiton Evening Herald?" "Placed an ad or something. Anyway, got to go." As she races for the door, I shout: "Are we going to talk?" "Not now." Door slams. I growl: "Well, you're going to have to soon." I grapple with grimy newsprint... Lingerie ads. One stands out: "Well, hi girls! Superb lingerie franchise awaits you. Training given in relaxed setting by girls who know what girls like to give girls." That's her, I guess. Then comes the shocker: My address. Then: Please send SAE for details. "What the fuck! What does she think she's...? By God, somebody better have a good..." Aurora isn't answering her phone, so I repeat dial. Eventually, she picks up: "Christ's sake. I can't talk. Later." Click, gone. I call back, no reply. "Right, that's it. That's really it. Groupies? How did I fall for that? They're, they're really pushing it now." The phone rings; I assume it's Aurora, at last on my wavelength, about to explain. I shout: "Groupies, you said. Groupies? How the fuck does a room full of naked lesbians constitute groupies, or at least my groupies?" Then I wince - its Evan D: "Oh, oh." he stutters. "Were you especially saving that for me?" "Er.. no." "I do hope the Den isn't causing you to stress out, Beardy. You are not the first, and will by no means be the last, I'm sure, to respond in that manner. Try not to get too fixated. Remember: We all have our crosses to bear." "Don't worry. Nothing to do with the Den," I reply "Just a bunch of naked lesbians. But thanks anyway."
Monday 15th February 2010 - My mother calls, simply to take issue with my blog, as far as I can tell. "Yes, very interesting.” She says, unconvinced. “Don't see why these Dragons deserve so much attention. Basically just a bunch of rich, publicity hungry bores. And these ‘women of Lesbos’… They’re in and out of your bed… Is that really credible? Why are they interested in you – unless they have some agenda, that is? Do they have one? Not terribly clear. A bit more detail would add authenticity; you need more than just innuendo, vague references to sexual acts .What are you trying to do? Write pulp fiction? I was very open about such matters when you were growing up. None of this birds and bees nonsense. Make it more... I don't know, gutsy, raunchier. And what are all the Mafia references? Made-men and Joe Pesci and what-not? That’s what comes from watching too many ‘Grandfather’ movies, I’d say." "Godfather, mother." "Yes, Godfather. Anyway, you need to widen your horizons.” “I’ll take that on board, mother,” She continues: “Anyway, this blog thing isn't really my cup of tea I must admit. Would have thought you’d be much better off writing something a bit less oblique, the sort of thing that Cousin Maurice writes." "For God’s sake.” I cry. “You mean extolling the virtues of iPads? Give me a break. His articles are little more than free ads. It’s very easy to rehash handouts from PRs." "Well, I enjoy reading them." she replies haughtily." "OK, but that is not what I want to write… But do you think that it is readable as least?" “I suppose it is,” she replies. “Just don’t see the point of it all. Don’t see where you are going with it.” "Stick with it mother… You'll see," I continue, "The Dragon's Den can become quite exciting, quite confrontational on occasions." "Then surely people will ascertain that by watching it on the box." "Ah, but I give it some perspective - a hinterland, if you like." "Hinterland! What rot! I never heard such nonsense. Get a grip why don’t you? Otherwise you’ll find yourself going nowhere fast.” “Thank you mother, I’ll give that some consideration.” She tuts and hangs up. I mutter, “Struth, everyone wants a piece of the action, it seems.”
Saturday February 13th, 2010 - The night before the rehearsal, and I'm supposed to be putting the finishing touches to my non-downloadable King James Bible. Not a chance. I arrive back at the flat at nine to find a room full of women in various stages of undress, trying on lingerie. Aurora and Minxy look shocked, "I thought you were out on the piss." says Aurora. "No, that's tomorrow after the rehearsal," I reply. Then I put my foot in it: "So, are these my groupies?" Aurora steams towards me and shoves me calmly back into the hallway. "Don't be an asshole." She whispers. "You weren't supposed to take that literally, that groupie thing. They're friends of Minxy's. She's launching her new lesbian lingerie marketing concept." "You what?" I reply grinning. "It's this new thing she's launching, a new lingerie concept." "You mean, multi-level marketing, but... but, for women who are more into women." Aurora gives me a contemptuous look and says, "Show some respect." "Well, how about some respect for me." I reply. "She's launching this 'concept' in my flat." Aurora's stance softens: "Come on, don't be such a meany. How often do you get to have this many semi-clad women in your flat?" I groan: "Fat lot of good it'll do me. And the thing is, I have work to do... for this rehearsal tomorrow." "Please, darling." says Aurora. "It's important to her. Can't you just hang out in the kitchen for an hour or so? We won't be that long." She then adds, somewhat enigmatically, "We just need to get these ladies on board, that's all. Once they've gone, we'll be all yours. Promise, darling."
Friday February 5, 2010 - Evan's doing his nut this time. The phone rings around eight and I clumsily extract myself from the sweaty limbs and bedclothes and shove the phone to my face. "Listen, Beardy." he says, "Somebody is trying my patience." "Well, it isn't me," I reply. "Didn't say it was you. Why? Have you something to hide?" "No, no, no, sorry, bit confused. Just woken up." Evan tuts. "For someone who is trying to make it big, you're not exactly the early bird." "Well, some of us have lives." I reply curtly. "Oh, right," he says. He is clearly hurt. "Anyway," he continues, "I think that you'll agree that I'm a fair man, Beardy. Yes?" I hesitate. Is it a trick question? "I... I suppose so," I reply. "Ok, and I'm sure you also know that there are certain rules that we have to abide by on the Den." "Fine, yes" I reply. "So, you might possibly see why I get worked up when people are doing secret sponsorship deals behind my back." I assume that he is referring to the tobacco sponsorship I procured. "Yes, but, I have killed that... and the arms dealer. I've done it. No sponsorship, no product placement on the BBC. Its done." Evan growls, "It's not you I'm talking about. Oh no. You see I have the presentation documents here for Sir George's product - this bike helmet - which I have to say is not exactly terribly original or revolutionary. In fact its downright strange. A division bell notifier? I mean, what's all that about? But anyway, his presentational stuff is plastered with adverts for premium rate sex lines..." "You what?" I shout. "Yes sex lines." Evan repeats, "I mean, how can he pitch to the Dragons when his display board AND helmet carries the legend: For Sex Crazed Kitchen Sluts in Your Area, ring 0908.... etc. The BBC would never allow this kind of thing." I have to think fast. Even though Sir George had alluded very briefly to his sponsorship a while back, I had not thought much of it at the time and certainly never mentioned it to Evan. So I feign indignation, "Listen Evan, this is absolutely not on. It's, it's... I don't know, abominable. And to think, a peer of the realm. I'm going to call Sir George right now. And I will make it absolutely clear that he knows... It's gotta go. No sex please... we're, we're... Peers of the realm... Or something." "Thanks, Beardy, you're a pal. I must say, I really didn't want to do it myself. So it's good to know I can rely on you." He then adds, "By the way, how's the non-downloadable King James Bible coming along?" "It's a beaut.," I reply. "I'll be putting the finishing touches to it today in actual fact." "Great." says Evan. "Look forward to it." "Yes. Me too." I reply. "See you at rehearsals!"
Sunday January 31st, 2010 - Rehearsals for the new series start in two days time. PJ phones - to talk shop, I assume. Wrong... in actual fact he launches into a fretful and, in my opinion, pointless lecture on the subject of Joe Pesci. “I know Duncan's had words with you on this matter, Squire. But I was wondering whether you could also stop publishing our conversations for the time being. Not being funny, mate. Thing is, strictly between you and me, I don't just think that Duncan, when angry, is like Joe Pesci on crystal meth. I think its probably more like this, if you'll bear with me: Say Joe Pesci’s even more aggressive understudy, called Mini-Joe, has asked Joe's grandma to make him a cup of tea, and instead of putting three sugars in his tea the poor dear has accidentally chucked in three heaped spoons of Mini-Joe’s finest pharmaceutical grade cocaine that just happens to be knocking around... if you can imagine that. And so, not only is Mini-Joe massively hacked off that he has lost three spoons of his prize stash but he is also off his fucking nuts, after drinking the tea... and, even worse, he can't get mad with anyone, not ANYONE, because its all Joe's grandma's fault. So that then makes him, like, even more incandescent with rage. Follow me?” I wait until I am sure that Peter has actually finished this absurd, elaborate analogy. “Yeah, I think I get your point.” I reply. I am about to mention the new series, but before I have a chance, I sense that something is going on down under - that is, in my underpants. I peer down and find Minxy with a huge grin on her face rummaging around my 'lumber room' before she eventually locates what she's looking for. Before I can say anything I realise that a situation is also developing to my rear. I crane my neck and lo and behold, Aurora is crouching there, determined to expose my rear end. As the ladies then proceed to work me front and back, I squeak, “Yeah… gotcha, Pete.” Peter senses my distraction: “Everything all right, Squire?” “Fine, Dude,” I shout. “This isn't upsetting you is it?” he continues “Upsetting me? Certainly not.” I reply. “The point is,” he continues, “I kind of know guys in Jersey, by which I mean New Joisey - follow the vernacular, yeah? And they... they know Joe, but moreover they also know his real life, his actual understudy who, fuck me, happens to be connected, can you believe it? You know, connected to what 'wise-guys' call ‘made men’. You still with me?" "Yep, Pete. All the way." "And they have made it clear through the usual channels that occasional references to Joe are one thing. But they never, I repeat, never want to see their boy being discussed on some "Limey blog" in a disrespectful manner. “Right,” I scream, as Aurora suddenly plunges her finger into the place where the sun doesn't shine. “You sure you're ok, Squire? I wouldn't want to be upsetting you if, say, God forbid, you have some kind of morbid fear of our friends in Cosa Nostra.” “No Pete, never had dealings,” I reply curtly. I look down and Minxy appears so heavily absorbed in her activities that I wonder whether she has gone into some kind of Bacchanalian trance. “Anyway, that was all I had to say on the matter really, squire." PJ concludes. "Just tone it down, this blog of yours, that's all I'm saying. Save us all some aggro..." "Right Pete," I reply. "Anyway," he ends, "I’ll leave you be for now. Catch you later when we discuss the run through. Cool?” “Cool,” I reply in an other-worldly manner, and then let out a huge sigh of relief. Aurora taps me on the butt and says, "See Honey, what works in cinema, could well work in the blogosphere, don't you think? You're no Leslie Nielsen, I'll grant you that, but, but... why not give it a go? Why not try something along the lines of, I don't know... Belle de Jour meets, say, Police Academy?"
Saturday January 30th, 2010 - I am evaluating Aurora’s advice, asking myself why she’s so relaxed about hordes of fragrant ‘groupies’ beating a path to my blog - if only! - when I receive a call from Sir George. He is in a right stew. “What’s this about Duncan spilling the beans?” Sir George’s anger is palpable. “Don’t ask me,” I reply. “It was Evan who told me. He said you got caught up in the Glasgow 'Whippy Wars' of the 70s.” “For crying out loud,” replies Sir George, “It was almost de rigeur for Old Etonians back then to own an ice cream van. Loads of OEs headed for the Gorbals in their gap year or even long after they'd left. It was seen as swashbuckling, the nearest any of us would get to the high seas. Even Dougie Hurd had a crew - and they were pretty 'tasty' in my opinion.” “You could have simply gone for the high seas, could you not? I ask. “Yes, I suppose so,” replies Sir George calmly. He pauses, no doubt considering what I've said, then he continues, “But the thing is, we didn’t. We all headed for Glasgow. And I’ll tell you one thing. It was a hell of a lot more down-to-earth than donning white tie and tails and heading for the Bullingdon Club.” “Yes,” I reply. “I imagine it was. Actually come to think of it, maybe we could spin this into something rather more positive, you know. We could suggest, were this ever to come out, that it proves what a down to earth fellow you actually are.” I can almost feel Sir George’s relief. “Excellent! That’s the spirit. I am a man of the people.” he replies. “You could say that I'm a 'Baronet of the people'." "Even... the 'Peoples' Baronet'?" "Wonderful, absolutely wonderful! And why don’t you ring Evan right away and put that very point to him?" "I will," I reply, delighted to have found a solution. Sir George mutters, "Jolly good. Much obliged, old boy. Really am. Anyway, toodle pip and all that!” And with that, he's gone.
Friday January 29th, 2010 - Aurora hands me a large glass of Chilean Merlot and sets herself down daintily beside me. "Still think it would have been better to buy a bottle," I grunt. She ignores this and sips her white. I continue: "So what do you mean when you say 'upping my game'?" She gives me a sly sideways look and says, "Well, perhaps you haven't worked it out for yourself, but your blog or whatever you call it, needs a bit of spice, a bit of pizazz... I don't know, maybe a bit of sex and drugs and... you know." I splutter, as one does on such occasions. "Oh, right... sex and er... Yes, I see. But er how do I... How do I do that, as it were?" She frowns and cries: "How do you do that? What the f...? I don't know why you are bothering to forge a writing career, or whatever it is you think you're doing, if you cannot do raunchy, if you don't know how to spice things up a little." After a trance-like moment of self doubt, I sigh, "Well, I'm sort of doing this writing thing incrementally, taking it step by step... seeing what works, seeing what develops." Aurora laughs, "Hmmm... in control of your own destiny then." I nervously finish my drink and ask. "So what exactly did you have in mind?" She shifts closer and replies earnestly: "Well, for a start, lose this stupid beard. It might have been funny on one drunken occasion. But, you know, you're not a teenager. And instead of this eccentric Dragon's Den narrative, why not focus more on the relationship stuff? You and your love-life? That's the kind of thing that people want to read, or at least I would have thought." "But the Den is everything to me," I protest. She shakes her head and says, "Lord knows why but... I don't know, if it's so important to you, why not keep a bit of the Den stuff - but only a bit - and expand the relationship side of things... And by expand, I'm not suggesting that you necessarily have to use real names. In fact it would be much, much better if you didn't. And clearly you won't be spilling ALL the beans - at least I hope not... But, you know, there are ways of doing these things." She indicates that she wants me to refill her glass so I head to the bar and grab a bottle this time. She continues, "Listen darling, wouldn't it be nice to have groupies? Think of Minxy... and think about all the other Minxies that might become followers, that might become your groupies. Wouldn't that be nice? And think of your reputation, your... image. Assuming you want an image, of course." I reflect on this for a moment. She concludes: "But as I say, you really could do yourself and your blog a lot of favours if you wanted to... its just a question of upping your game, that's all."
Wednesday January 27th, 2010 - I call Evan Davis with some trepidation to see if there is a hope in hell of getting Sir George's cousin Camilla onto the show. Evan picks up the phone and says in a strange Russian accent, "Simples!" I titter and say: "So you're getting into this Meerkat thing, evidently." "Oh, shit!" he replies. "I thought it was my mother. I was expecting her call and... and..." "Don't worry, Evan," I interject. "I totally understand." "But... but," he carries on desperate to explain, "It's a running joke between me and Ma. You must understand..." "Listen," I reply. "No problem at all. We all have our in-jokes... Very amusing... Anyway, not what I was calling about, Evan, obviously. What I wanted to discuss, just briefly I hope, was, was to do with Sir George." "Ah! Sir George," replies Evan. "In fact, I had something to say to you about Sir George, as it happens." "Really?" I reply. "Yes really." says Evan. He takes a deep breath. He continues: "Yes, I was talking to Duncan B about Sir George... and I know it sounds amazing but Duncan told me that Sir George was caught up in the ice-cream gang wars that went on in the Gorbals in the 1970s. I presume that this was long before he entered Parliament of course. But it does actually appear that our bicycling baronet, Sir George was kind of like the 'Mister Big' of a crew that went by the name of the 'Hard Whippy Gang'." "Oh my God!" I reply. "I don't believe it... Well, blow me down. I had no idea! What are we going to do?" "Yes," says Evan, "That is the question precisely. What are we going to do?"
Tuesday January 26th, 2010 - Sir George is trying my patience. I ring him with the news that I have secured him a slot on the Den. I expect him to be overjoyed and full of gratitude. But instead he sounds remote and sighs, "Yes... Jolly good of you, old boy. But, I wonder... I had a call from my cousin Camilla, last night. She heard about my appearing on this Dragon's whatsit. And it seems as though she has one or two inventions of her own that she wouldn't mind showcasing. Just wondered whether Evan could squeeze her in as well. It would be dashed sporting. She's a charming little thing. Would look very good on the box. And the little darling has a head full of ideas." I scratch my head and try to work out whether Sir George is serious or not. "Ok..." I say. "Somehow, I think it would be pushing Evan Davis a bit too far, if I suggested this idea. I mean, is there something you're not telling me? You know, has she found a new cancer cure or something?" Sir George chuckles, "No, no, no, old boy. She has a few acres in Somerset. Rears pigs. And she has come out with this remarkable new saddle." "Saddle?" I reply mystified. "Yes, saddle," he says. "She is rolling out this fantastic new idea - pig rides." "Right..." I say, now utterly lost. "And what exactly is she showcasing?" Sir George chuckles again, which this time I find irksome. "She is going to start selling the new big idea in children's holidays - pig rides, to go alongside donkey and pony rides. Except that these are good for younger, smaller kids. And you see, the thing is, she has invented this marvellous new saddle, that will fit snuggly onto pigs and allow toddlers to ride them. The saddles are in my view frankly works of art; they have all the 'mod cons', all those modern comforts that parents expect for their little darlings nowadays. And cousin Cammynicks would absolutely love it if she could pitch her new invention on the Den. I really do think it would be a big hit, especially with Deborah Meaden. So would it be a terrible imposition for you to get Evan D. on the blower - I really would be eternally grateful - and to ask him whether he might just see his way clear to offering dear cousin Cammynicks a slot?"
Monday January 25, 2010 - I go for a bite to eat with Aurora and Minxy to discuss the new 'arrangements'. After talking about bedding and champagne for a while, the conversation moves on to bloggers and blogging. "Do many people read your blog?" asks Minxy. I find the question unsettling. "Oh, I suppose one or two people," I reply. "So, not as many as those Guido or Dale or Hannan fellows?" she asks. "Eh, no." I reply hesitantly. Aurora grins and then pipes up, "I think that the Minx wants to know what kind of blogger groupie she is going to be." I splutter into my wine and say,"Blogger groupie? Is that what you're thinking?" "Well, yeah... kind of." she replies, "But I don't want to find I'm hanging out with the wrong kinda scene." I am mystified. "Didn't really know there was a scene." Aurora says: "Well clearly some bloggers already have groupies... you know people who populate their sites, who follow them. Maybe you can have a proper following as well now." Then she adds ominously, "If you up your game a bit."
Thursday January 21st, 2010 - Initially Evan is a bit neg on the question of Sir George appearing. "The thing is," he says, "we've already sorted the line-up. We can't really fit him in, I'm sorry to say." I push Evan a little. "Listen, Evan my old meerkat chum, think about the kudos you'll get from having an MP pitching on the Den. The BBC will bloody love you. You can take all the credit. You don't have to mention my contribution." Evan sighs and says, "You've got a point, I suppose. I don't know. Maybe we could squeeze him in at the end of the first programme. But only if he can knock out his pitch like super pronto." I am literally over the moon. "Bloody excellent, Evan," I cry. "Really, really, you won't regret this. The guy is a natural when it comes to pitching." Evan then says with mild disdain, "You don't think he'll seem a bit, I don't know, incongruous? You know, an aristo like Sir George pitching to these self made men?" I groan, "Come on Evan, this is the twenty first century. Sir George has learnt that you have no choice in this day age but to, well, basically, accept and respect these kind of people, these nouveau business types... for achieving what they have achieved." Evan chuckles, "Very funny, Beardy. But I sort of meant, you know, the other way round." He pauses. "I was actually suggesting that they, the Dragons, might have a problem with him... You know, they'll worry that he'll be a bit hoity toity and he'll view them as 'new money'... they'll possibly feel threatened, possibly... insecure. Er, like what I mean is, could he be an instant reject?" I think about this and reply, "Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, well, I suppose, when you put it like that, he could seem a bit incongruous. But... It's tricky. Maybe, maybe you should ask Pete Jones. See what he thinks. I don't know, Deborah Meaden might also be worth sounding out... could have a take on this." Evan agrees: "Yep. Yes, thanks. I'll get on to them... I'll call them right away, Beardy. And don't worry we'll find a way to make Sir George acceptable - even if we have to make him wear a shell suit or football shirt! Let's do this, baby. Let's get the baronet on our show!"
Tuesday 19th January, 2010 - My old friend Sir George Young, better known as the 'Bicycling Baronet' has been at a bit of a loose end since his failed bid to become Speaker of the House. We meet for petits fours at a tea shop just off the Strand and, blow me, he asks me if I could wangle him a slot on Dragon's Den. "The old House (of Commons) isn't what it used to be, old boy. Full of spivs and chavs from the suburbs. You know, when I entered the house a chap wouldn't have been seen dead ordering a kitchen, or new furniture, let alone claiming it on expenses. Just shows what happens when you let the 'below-the-stairs' classes in." I offer Sir George a macaroon, which he crams rather unceremoniously into his mouth. "I know," I say "What is it with kitchens nowadays? Why is everyone so desperate to have one?" He shrugs and replies, "Times change, I suppose. Fashions change. This year everyone is in love with kitchens, next year it'll probably be something ghastly like utility rooms. Anyway, moving on. This Den thing. If you could have a word with your friend Evan Davis and wangle me a five minute slot I would be eternally grateful old boy" He grabs the last chocolate petit four and polishes it off in a jiffy. "Bet you're wondering what my invention is." He bends down to open his rucksack and pulls out what appears to be a cycle helmet. "Here's the little baby, ain't she a beaut?" he says proudly. "A cycle helmet," I say. "You've invented a cycle helmet?" He smiles mischievously. "Not any cycle helmet, old boy. A Satnav and cycle helmet all rolled into one. Clever, eh? Been working on this project for some months now. It's revolutionary. Plus - and here's the really clever part - it has a live feed to the Division Bell in Parliament. So it is an absolute must for cycling MPs." He hands it to me. "Get me a slot on the Den, Beardy, and we're... we're gonna sell this little mamma."
Monday January 18th, 2010 - Over lunch at the local gastropub, Aurora says that she has had a word with Minxy and that the little dear has agreed to give me the occasional tender loving care . However, this is on the express understanding that she doesn't have to go anywhere near my beard. I say that this is wonderful news. Aurora replies that this is probably the best deal that I am going to get in the circumstances and that Minxy has probably agreed because she wants to keep everyone happy. Also Minxy needs the occasional place to bed down for the night when she is in town so I might be able to oblige in more ways than one. I suggest that we order a bottle of champagne to celebrate. But Aurora says that I should save my money. "Minxy has expensive tastes - she drinks only Dom Perignon and Krug, sometimes Crystal... so you better ship some decent pop in." I am about protest but then I realise that there's no such thing as a free menage. "I suppose you're right darling." I say "We will need to get her kind of in the mood, for love and romance... as it were." Aurora offers a somewhat strained smile and replies, "Yes... that's one way of putting it."
Sunday January 17th 2010 - Blimey, now its Evan Davis busting my balls. He calls up during the Andrew Marr show, can you believe it? He starts bending my ear on the subject of Private Eye. "Sources close to the Eye," he says in that ominous manner of his, "tell me that it was you who sent in the picture comparing me to that idiotic meerkat." I chuckle, then realise that he might be upset. "Come on Evan, I have better things to do than send pictures into the Eye. Puh-lease!" He carries on: "And what's more, somebody, not saying its you for sure, has been going about writing comments on the BBC website saying that my real name is actually Evan Davidoff. And apparently my ancestors used to run a meerkat farm near St Petersburg that was responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of the poor little creatures in order to satisfy the aristocratic demand for meerkat fur." I cackle. Evan is not amused though. "I tell you, it's not right. And... it's not funny. I have my reputation to think about. Was it you, Beardy?" I compose myself. "Listen Evan, I have got up to some weird shit in my time, but I really don't have either the energy or the inclination to undermine your awesome reputation in this way. Really I promise. It was not me." Evan lets out a deep breath. "Sorry sorry, Beardy. Deborah Meaden thought you might have something to do with it. Don't know why." I reply, "I think I know why, Evan. She thinks that I am too friendly with Peter Jones and Duncan B these days. It's envy, Evan. Pure and simple." Evan goes quiet for a second, then pipes up chirpily: "Ha! Ha! Simples!" I laugh somewhat wearily and reply: "Yes Evan. Just like the meerkat in the car insurance advert, eh?"
Thursday January 14th 2010 - Oh shit! It's only Duncan Bannatyne on the blower. He growls: "What does yee think yee is doing writing that shite on ya website?" I take a very deep breath and say, "Hi Duncan. Long time no see." "Don't ya long time no see me, my sassenach friend." he cries. "Who tha fuck said yee could write that gobshite about me? What's all this 'Joe Pesci on meth' shite about? Can I tell yee something, mate? When I is angry, there's no Joe Pesci on meth shite. Its more like fucking Malcolm Tucker and Lady Macbeth's love child has had his crack pipe taken away and he is so fucking insane that he will smoke your fuckin' eyeballs through a nine inch hypodermic, and that's after he has served ya braised tongue to his wee bairns and stamped long and hard on ya tousled manhood. Have ye got that? Eh? Got that?" I breathe out and say, "Duncan, that is what you call, in my world, 'loud and clear'. I have so bloody got that, what you just said, that I am off right now to frame the, the... very thing that I have got - and that you just said - in, in... some kind of, I don't know... canvas kind of thing and not only that. I am going to put it on my wall." Duncan calms down a bit and continues, "Good... good. I respect a man who can listen, like. You know, I like ya at heart, ya bearded cunt." He pauses then: "Now, on another matter. What's this 'bring and buy sale' all about... at church like, this weekend? Ma wife told me that yee would know." "Oh, that." I reply. "Yes that," he continues. "Does ye know which stall I am supposed ta be manning?"
Wednesday 13th January 2010 - Darling Aurora pops by to explain herself and to throw some light on her 'vacation to Lesbos'. I expect her to look sheepish, but instead she turns up brimming with confidence. "It's not that you're totally useless in bed, Beardy." "That's good to know," I reply. She goes on, "It's just that... you never want to try anything new." "You what? New?" I holler. I would absolutely love to try this lesbianism thing... were you to give me a chance." She laughs wearily and says, "Then it wouldn't be lesbianism anymore would it? It would be a menage a trois." I reply: "You say potato, I say two potato, three potato, four." She gives me a withering look. "It's more about attitude. AND frankly its also about what Minxy would want, or make of it. Its not exactly just my decision, is it?" Quick as a flash, I say, "Aurora darling. I'll shave off my beard. I'll do anything you want. Anything." She laughs: "It might take a bit more than that, I think." "Listen, sweetie... whatever... I'm game." She shakes her head. "I think you're probably missing the point... I think I just need some time... to, to think about what I actually want'." I shoot back, "Listen Doll-face, time is what you got." Inexplicably she gives me a look of utter contempt. After another shake of the head she says, "Oh, just make me a cup of tea or something, will you?"
Tuesday 12th January 2010 - Peter Jones rings. He has a 'delicate' matter to discuss. Duncan is going back to the ice cream trade, where he started out some forty odd years ago. Pete is worried that this might bring about some profound behavioural changes in him and that they might manifest themselves in the Den. "Way I look at it, Squire, is you have to be fucking 'tasty' to survive in that market, if you know what I mean." I reflect on this and say, "Why is he doing it, PJ? Why is he going back?" The 'Jones' groans and says, "God only knows, Bearded One. God only knows. Although certain of my 'sources' North of the border tell me that he has invented a brand new, state-of-the-art ice cream van that will blow all other forms of mobile catering out of the water. It's bullet proof, blast proof and I understand it even has a panic room." "Panic room?" I shriek. "What the fuck?" Peter sighs and continues, "Ice cream trade, I ask you. It'll bring out the worst in Dunkie. I am seriously worried. It'll be Mr Aggro all over again. Remember what he was like when The Den was piloting back in the nineties?" I chuckle and reply, "Yes, one hell of a scary fucker. Like Joe Pesci on crystal meth." "Precisely," says Peter. "Poor old Evan D. will be literally petrified. He won't hang around... You won't see him for dust."
Sunday January 10th, 2010 - Darling Aurora doesn't come home on Saturday night. It's the second time this week. She eventually stumbles through the door midday Sunday looking wrecked and with lipstick marks on her neck. I demand an explanation. She looks sheepish and smiles coyly. "You know Minxy?" she says. I reply, "What? Your apprentice mechanic?" Two months back, Aurora had taken on an angelic looking young blond, who, she told me, was helping her rebuild her MG. "Yes, well, she's not actually my apprentice mechanic, darling. She's actually my... my lover." I chuckle nervously. "Oh... I see." Aurora continues, "Problem is, darling... This whips and chains thing is all well and good, but... it's a bit, well, last season, if you don't mind my saying. It's all..." she hesitates. "Yes?" I ask. She carries on "It's erm... this season it's, er, lesbianism that's in!" I shake my head and say, "What? Again?"
Wednesday January 6th 2010 - Cripes. Its Evan Davis on the phone now. "Listen, Bearded-One," he says, "I am all for your showcasing this KJ Bible software on the Den, and I'm really looking forward to the presentation. But I was taking a peek at some of your marketing literature just now and I kind of wondered: what is this cigarette company logo doing plastered all over the software case?" After a sharp intake of breath, I reply: "Ah yes, my sponsors. Well, you see, I agreed a deal with the Toasty Smokes Company of Montana - they've agreed to cover some of my start up costs. And... I sort of assumed that the BBC would be cool... you know what with the government now moving forward with product placement." Evan yelps: "What? You must be totally nutso. This is like so, so out of order? Listen, Bearded-One, that kind of product placement is most certainly not, I repeat NOT on... Aside from the fact that it's - hello?- like, erm... cigarettes?" I chuckle nervously, "Listen Evan, it's just a mock-up. Don't worry, I'll change it. I've already got this, like, arms manufacturer from Dakota lined up... you know, just in case the ciggie sponsorship thing were to prove, shall we say? 'verboten'." "Hmmm," he replies, "Better check this with Rob Peston, see what he makes of it."
Tuesday 5th January, 2010 - This morning I receive one of Clarkson's non-PC tweets: "Four wheels good, two wheels bad." I tweet back with the words, "I know what you did last summer, Clarkson." Before you can say Top Gear he is on the blower: "What exactly did I do last summer, guv'nor?" I heave a sigh and reply, "You killed a cat, like Sid Vicious." Clarkson quite literally screams down the phone, "Wait a moment, guv'nor, that happened in Romania. And I was test driving the new Bugatti Veyron." I tut, "Well, well. There's no rest for the wicked, even the Bugatti-driving wicked." He protests, "Anyway, it was Hamster Hammond's fault. He had donned his Count Dracula disguise and scared me shitless whilst I was negotiating a particularly tricky bend in Transylvania." I reply: "That's what they all say, Jeremy. That's what they all say."
Monday 4th January, 2010 - The great thing about Evan Davis is that, if you treat him right, he'll give you the inside track on the other Dragon's Den contenders. Apparently my biggest competitor is the staggeringly well-endowed glamour puss known as Syria (aka Katie Costcut). Surprisingly, she will not be showcasing her mega-melons, but instead a new website of hers titled www.veryspiritualperson.boobs. She will be joining forces with someone called 'Peaches' and together they will dispense their wisdom to anybody who believes that they have any (wisdom, that is). Apparently they have already signed up fifty thousand gullible Brits. Tough competition, perhaps. But can they really go head to head with the KJ Bible?
Sunday 3rd January, 2010 - Praise the Lord! I have been invited on to Dragon's Den to showcase my new invention: The non-downloadable King James Bible! I tell you, I am sick and tired of people using 'browsers' and 'readers' to view the Holy Book, then translating it into modern 'SMS' or 'text lingo'. This is 100% secure and I can prove it. I ring Theo to do a spot of 'advance marketing'. He barks, "Don't you never, ever call me. You is never supposed to flippin' contact me or other Dragons before the show, innit?" However, Peter Jones is way more positive, almost in rapture. "This is the moment I have been waiting for all my life, Squire: A ruddy non-downloadable King James Bible!"
I invented blogging in the 90s when my doctor told me that I had to find an alternative to flogging. I hit upon the idea of a 'diary for the internet' - a rich and varied description of everything that happened in my world. I soon realised that my world was not rich and varied. So I decided to take up blogging instead. I have always wondered what would have happened had I carried on flogging....................... By the way, I am also the man who is famous for teaching Bill Gates how to speak in tongues. I think that he can now speak in fifteen of them (at least the last time I counted).... Now, few know that Bill is also a master of disguise. Last Halloween we went trick or treating. I was dressed as the Pope and he appeared as the Virgin Mary. Somewhat foolishly we did our stuff in 'Little Italy'. People were on their hands and knees blessing the ground that Bill was walking on and assumed that they were about to witness the second coming. Unfortunately Bill put a stop to all this when he started throwing eggs at passers-by who refused him the proverbial 'treat'. What a guy.... He said to me, "Ned, this sure beats writing software code!"