Baby Talk: Baby’s First Workplace Visit

"Hello Dave? You ma baby naaaow."

“Hello Dave? You ma baby naaaow.”

There’s nothing more terrifying than a cabal of older women suddenly having their maternal instincts re-activated by a baby. You’ll see this happening most often when parents take their newly-spat spawn into their workplaces to show them off.

At first, all is calm. Just another day at the office. Normal. Innocuous. Unremarkable. Near-arthritic fingers rat-a-tap-tap, tatter and clink on keyboards. Phones trill, machines whirr and beep. A discussion about shoes is underway. And then it happens… One of the old women snaps her head back on her neck and takes a long, deep sniff of the air. The other women turn to look at her. The sniffer nods slowly and sagely. There can be no doubt: the seer has saw, preparations must be made. Excitement swells in the air, a Mexican wave of agitation rolls and rushes through the office. The women begin to chitter and hyperventilate like spooked monkeys.

The door to the main entrance, two floors below, creaks open, and they can hear it. They can smell it, taste it, feel it…

“It’s here…” comes a whisper from the old seer, “…it… is… among us.”

A woman starts to beat on the floor with the handle of an umbrella, and all of the others clap in time. The beating and clapping gets louder and louder, angrier and angrier; as it builds to a crescendo the women accompany the percussive rhythm with a malevolent hum, the droning of a thousand wasps, a sound that gets deeper and deeper, louder and louder, before finally exploding into a roar, then a shriek, then a howl. THUD THUD THUD! RAAAR RAAAAR RAAAAR! The oldest woman in the office leaps onto her desk in a single bound, defying both reason and medical science. “Chillldddreeennn,” she moans, her body convulsing violently. “CHILLLLLLLLLDDDRRRRREEEENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!” she screams, throwing her veiny arms into the air and shaking her fists at the heavens.

stamp

“You didn’t tell everyone in the office we were bringing the baby in today, did you?” “Erm… no?”

All of the women lope and scurry away from their chairs like something out of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. A fist fight breaks out at the head of the line as the women vie for pole position and the first crack at the baby. Three of them are killed, but still the horde advances, fingers outstretched, eyes red, bulging and demonic. The parents reach the top of the stairs and are assailed by a terror that detonates in their stomach and makes mince-meat of their bowels. They see it but can scarcely believe it: the  mass of elder zombies staggering towards them, moaning and gnashing. The parents stand frozen with fright, the car seat clutched tightly in the father’s grip, their poor baby swinging inside it like bait.

“COME TO YER AUNTY JEAN!” shriek twelve of the women, even though none of them are called Jean. Within seconds they’re upon the baby, a hellish scrum of old ladies, hands grabbing and clutching and clenching and tearing, like a grizzly death scene from The Walking Dead.

zomb

The baby is gone, taken, passed among the old ladies like crack. The parents can no longer see their child, just a mess of grey limbs and hair-dos. They only know their child is still alive because they can hear the old ladies talking and cooing away at it.

“OH,YOU LOVE YOUR AUNTY JEAN, DON’T YOU? YES, YES YOU DO, YOU LOVE YOUR AUNTY JEAN! OH, I COULD JUST KEEP YOU. I’M GOING TO KEEP YOU, YES I AM, I’M GOING TO TAKE YOU HOME AND KEEP YOU AND THE POLICE WILL HAVE TO SHOOT ME TO GET YOU BACK! OOOH, HE’S GOT MY EYES, DON’T YOU THINK? WHAT ARE YOU FEEDING HIM? BREAST? OOOH, FORGET THAT, YOU NEED TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. GET HIM THE BOTTLE. GET HIM A BOTTLE AND PUT HIM IN HIS OWN ROOM AFTER THE FIRST WEEK, HE’S GOT TO LEARN, HASN’T HE? IT’S NOT FOR ME TO SAY, BUT THAT’S NOT THE WAY I’D DO IT, COURSE IT’S YOUR BABY, SO MANY PEOPLE WILL GIVE YOU ADVICE, BUT DON’T LISTEN TO IT, JUST IGNORE THEM ALL, YOU’VE GOT TO DO YOUR OWN THING, EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO MY ADVICE, IN WHICH CASE FOLLOW IT TO THE LETTER. OH, HE’S SMILING AT ME, HE WANTS ME TO TAKE HIM HOME, DON’T YOU WANT ME TO TAKE YOU HOME? COME LIVE WITH YOUR AUNTY JEAN, YOU LOVE ME DON’T YOU, LOVE ME BETTER THAN YOUR OWN MUM, DON’T YOU??!!! YOUR MUM’S GOING TO HAVE TO PRISE YOU OUT OF MY COLD DEAD HANDS, ISN’T SHE, HMMM???!!”

I think we can all agree that taking your infant to work can be a savage and unsettling experience. Old women in offices make David Bowie’s character in Labyrinth look like a registered child minder.

"Gimme the baby and no-one gets hurt."

“Gimme the baby and no-one gets hurt.”

You’ll notice that no men were mentioned in this little office-based reconstruction. That’s because they were all sitting at their desks muttering ‘it’s just a fucking baby’ and ‘you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.’ Sure, some  of them looked up from their monitors for three seconds and aimed a half-hearted wave and an awkward ‘hiya’ in the general direction of the baby, but most of them just continued typing, wishing with all their hearts for the baby to fuck off.

Next time on Baby Talk, we deal with the age old question: “Oooh, what weight is he?”

Derek Acorah is Great

ac1Yes, he really is great. Great at being a money-spinning mental-case.

The following isn’t really a book review. It’s a reproduction of selected text from ‘Derek Acorah’s Amazing Psychic Stories’ along with reproductions of some of the things I scribbled in the margins of the book after reading the populist, hocus pocus pish-fest for the first (and – unless there really is a hell – unquestionably the last) time.

The format is easy to follow. Derek ‘says’ something, and then my defacements follow in bold. I wonder if you can tell which emotion dominated my thoughts as I read Acorah’s delightful little book? Let’s do this:


‘However we think of these beings, we all have guiding influences in the heavenly realms who have been allocated to us from birth and who will remain with us for as long as we live on this Earth plane. We may not be aware of their presence, and indeed, some would say there is no such thing, but I can promise you that there is.’

very empirical, asshole


‘You may not be able to see them or hear them, but I doubt that there is anybody alive in this world today who has not at some time or other been inspired by spirit to make a decision which has altered their life quite radically in some way.’

vodka, certainly


‘Guardian angels, spirit guides and family members in spirit do not of course reserve the right to make their presence felt in our lives only when we are in mortal danger or when we need reassurance. Our guides and guardians are designated to us at birth to ensure that we conduct our lives in the manner chosen by us prior to our incarnation into this physical life. Because we have free will, our God-given right, we may put ourselves in danger of choosing the wrong pathway and veering away from our chosen life’s experience, and it is the job of our guardians and guides to make sure that we do not stray.’

so it’s their job to ensure that we can only exercise free-will insofar as we follow a pre-arranged pattern? sounds more like fucking Quantum Leap to me


 ‘I was allowed a certain amount of success as a footballer, but did not achieve the standard that I wished.’

i.e. you were shite!!!


‘I was feeling depressed. Life was not being kind to me. Nothing was going right. I had deep financial problems and my emotional life was in a catastrophic state. I felt that I had nothing left to live for. Ending it all and taking myself over to the spirit world seemed a very appealing option.’

(I’d underlined deep financial problems and simply wrote) BINGO


‘As I walked towards the murky waters I thought how easy it would be just to keep on walking and to disappear completely from this earthly plane. ‘What do I have left to live for?’ I asked myself.’

Good question


‘Physical circles are meetings of a number of mediums, usually between six and eight, who sit with the sole purpose of assisting one of their numbers to attain physical mediumship. Physical mediumship is the point where a medium goes beyond the gifts of clair-audience, clairvoyance and clairsentience and develops the ability to produce ectoplasm in substantial enough quantities to enable a spirit to be viewed by those who do not have the ability to see clairvoyantly.’

aka a bukkake wanking circle (I also underlined the name of one of the mediums in this circle – Ray Pugh. Classic.)


‘It is true to say… (continues for a long paragraph)’

no it isn’t


‘Although it may sound terribly appealing, I am afraid that there are no banks of winged angels heralding our arrival into the spirit world with celestial tunes played on long golden bugles. There is no heavily bearded Saint Peter, guardian of the pearly gates, waiting with a large book in hand to hold us accountable for all our earthly deeds.’

yeah, cause that’d just be fucking stupid, wouldn’t it, Derek?


‘As the spirit form gently rises, a silver cord linking them to their body becomes taut and then breaks, leaving the spirit free to float upwards and on to the realms beyond from whence it came.’

like a balloon. Neat. You horse fucker


‘Astral travel is where the spirit self leaves the physical body to travel through the astral planes. This is achieved through deep meditation and should not be attempted by everyone.’

OK, thanks for the fucking warning.


‘When we have experienced everything, both good and bad, then we remain in the world of spirit, dwelling in the higher realms forever.’

EVERYTHING? Like being stabbed to death by a man dressed as a clown? Obliterated by shoving a high-pressure tire pump up your bum? Being flattened by a steamroller while having a distracted wank at some roadworks?


Note to self: How does Acorah filter out hoaxes or separate genuine paranormal events from instances of stress and psychological disturbance. Or is his criteria: if people write to me, it’s ghosts.


‘Some people may undergo a number of serious accidents or dangerous incidents and will survive to carry on with their physical lives. The results of those incidents may impair their physical ability to live their lives as before, but that is what they have chosen to undergo on their life’s pathway in order to achieve soul growth in the next life. Other people may experience just one accident and will pass to spirit as a result. It is all down to our own personal choice, but at the end of the day we pass on to the spirit world when the time is right and no sooner.’

(flicks through catalogue) Mmm, I think I’ll have four minor accidents and a fatality this time, please. What do you have in the way of chromosomal deformities? I want to treat myself for my 80th incarnation.


‘Remote viewing is travelling astrally to a place with the sole purpose of viewing that place, be it an office, a home, etc. People may claim to practise it, but great care should be exercised when listening to such claims. I have heard of many where the remote viewing is basically a combination of guesswork and cold reading.’

Oh, NOW he’s a sceptic! Priceless. This is like when Scientology pisses all over psychiatry. Destroy the competition.


‘I am often asked why innocent babies and young people have to go through horrendous events in their short lifetimes here on earth, why some young lives are cut short by either accidents or acts of malice or cruelty by another person, why some children succumb to illnesses which take them back to the spirit world at an early age, why hundreds of thousands of young lives are cut short due to famine, disease or natural disaster. The answer is simple: those young souls chose to undergo those experiences before they incarnated here on Earth. And why? To take their spirit selves further up the spiritual ladder, and closer to the ultimate heavenly state.’

So, dead babies are really just angels about to get their wings? Fuck you, Acorah.


‘In subsequent incarnations they may choose an easier lifetime here on Earth. They may choose to be born into a loving family, wanting for nothing and with a relatively trouble-free and long lifespan. After such a life they will still become closer to the Godhead when their time comes to pass back to the spirit world, but they will only have climbed one rung as opposed to the many rungs they climbed in their harsher existence.’

How many rungs are there, you scientific bastard?


(on the death of a child) ‘It is, however, true that the spirit of their child chose to experience that particular method of passing. They chose it for their soul growth, just as the spirit selves of the parents chose to experience the loss of a child in a violent way.’

Match.com’s got nothing on Heaven’s sick-ass soul matching service. “Ah, little Timmy, I see you’ve put down on the form that you want to be matched with a set of nice, affluent parents, and you’ve stressed that they must have a good sense of humour, and also be keen to see their child brutally murdered before their very eyes. As luck would have it…”


‘I’m sure that everybody has at some point heard the statement “Oh, they’re an old soul” or “They’ve been here before!” being made about a small child or baby. And it is true.’

Hmmm, people use these largely meaningless non-literal expressions, so this must be empirical proof of the existence of the afterlife. WATCH OUT DAWKINS, ACORAH’S FUCKING COMING AND HE’S GOT SCIENCE!


CHAPTER 11 – A Joint Message

So THAT’S how he does it!


‘The people in the spirit world are no different. When they see a loved one in the depths of despair or worrying over a situation, they will draw close and give as much physical comfort as they possibly can.’

Is a hand-job from a dead ex-girlfriend out of the question??


‘”Was it my guardian angel, Derek?”

I was able to tell her that it was most definitely a loved one from the world of spirit placing a hand of reassurance on her shoulder.’

You fucking Scouse scumbag.


‘Sean breathed a sigh of relief. “So I’m not about to pop my clogs then?”

“No,” I told him with a smile.’

Is that ethical? Sean, mate, get on to NHS 24. Never take medical advice from a failed footballer whose best mate is a ghost.


‘Sean’s experience is unusual but not unknown. I have heard reports of people who can give such detailed information of events in a previous lifetime that it has been possible to check and confirm what they have said is correct.’

Then why not put these examples in your fucking book?


‘Sometimes when children are ill and have a high temperature they may start to hallucinate, as the medical profession calls it, and see beings who frighten them. They are not hallucinating at all. What they are seeing is spirit beings who are unfamiliar to them and so they are frightened, just as I was frightened as a six-year-old boy when I saw the spirit form of my grandfather in my grandmother’s house.’

Every doctor in the world on line 1! I hallucinated bees as a child, Derek. What were they? Ghost bees? 


ac2So there you have it. Like I said, not really a review. If you would like to see a review, here’s a five-star recommendation for the same book courtesy of Amazon…

This review is from: Derek Acorah’s Amazing Psychic Stories (Paperback)

GREAT READING FROM THE MAN WHO SOUNDS LIKE LILY SAVAGE , I LOVE DEREK ON MOST HAUNTED ,AND THOUGH SOMETIMES I HAVE DOUBTS ,DEREK IS ALWAYS THERE WITH A QUIP OR A OOEERR , GREAT BOOK ESPECIALLY THE LAST CHAPTERS ABOUT PETS !!, DEFINATLY HAPPENING IN MY HOUSE,

So there you have it.
If you want to read some more about how much I love Derek Acorah, have a click and a flick at the links below.

Jesus Comes to Stirling

stirling-blc

It would appear that the art of proselytising has gone corporate.

I was shopping in Stirling with my family yesterday. By which I mean they were shopping, and I was wandering the streets like a refugee displaced by war, desperately wishing I could return home. As I walked past Debenhams for the 857th time, I realised how thoroughly, head-thrashingly bored I was of the Thistle Shopping Centre and its Hannah Barbera-esque monotony. In a bid to shake things up, and stave off the desire to hurl myself under a bus, I decided to weave a different route through the white-walled labyrinth. I was also hungry. Ultimately, I didn’t care where the detour took me, as long as it took me to Greggs the bakers. Keeping to a semi-religious theme, you could say that I was on the road to Ham-ascus. Well, you could say that. But you probably shouldn’t. And I wish I hadn’t. Even the Christmas Cracker people would’ve rejected that piece of shit. I’m very Syria did that joke.

Anyway, let’s get on with this. I don’t want to be responsible for you being seized by the desire to rush outside and offer your skull to the nearest steamroller. My new route took me past a place I never expected to see in a mall in Stirling. To be honest, our Calvinist history not withstanding, I was shocked to see it in Scotland. It was the ‘Bible Learning Centre’, a neat, glossy, corporate, well-lit and slick shop filled with book shelves, biblical figurines, and blackboards. It looks for all the world like a cross between a classroom and a showroom, which I suppose it is.

“Hello there, I’d like to test-read a Bible.”

“I can tell by just looking at you that you’re a classic model man. We’ve just got an exclusive range of Bibles through the door, all kitted out in the original Hebrew. Bit pricey, but your neighbours will covet the hell out of them.”

“I was thinking maybe something a little more modern and conventional. Something reliable, affordable, with room for the kids.”

“Hmmm, I can do you a second-hand King James. Mint condition, apart from some kid’s drawn a spurting cock over the story of Lot’s wife.”

mormoons

The centre is a base for God-botherers, which means that preachers now have a permanent, six-day-a-week presence on Stirling’s streets. Except the people from the centre, who were loitering with intent outside the mall, neither bothered nor preached. Instead, they stood quietly in a row, holding posters and pamphlets perfectly still in their hands like mime artists, approaching and cajoling precisely no-one. I half expected them to be wearing little badges that said: ASK ME ABOUT MY JESUS.

What a wasted opportunity. I say if you’re going to go God, go full God, or not at all. Yes, Jesus was part of a touchy-feely, New-Labour-esque shift away from the lightning-and-locusts focus of the rather brutal Old Testament, but even in his softer, less-murdery, sandal-wearing incarnation, God/Jesus was still hard as fuck. He came down to earth and took more lashes than Anastasia Steele and an Iranian blogger combined, and didn’t even flinch when the Romans nailed him to a piece of wood. The guy’s a dangerous, kinky mental case, who could wink out the world with a twitch of his nose; he doesn’t want a line of meek, sharp-suited morons representing him, some ball-and-bowtie-less Muslim Brotherhood. He wants nutcases. Hectoring, full-blown nutcases.

He wants people like the guy I used to see standing outside one of the shopping centres off Union Street in Aberdeen, who would turn up every day with an amplifier and a microphone and let everyone know – through the medium of angry shouting – that they were all evil bastards who were going to hell. No exceptions. Even the babies were bad’uns.

I miss that guy.

Angry preacher

Perhaps if the Stirling missionaries injected a bit more vim and pep and honest-to-goodness fire and brimstone into proceedings, more people would visit the Bible Learning Centre. I know I would. “WELCOME YOU HORRIBLE FORNICATORS, SECRET MASTURBATORS AND SINNERS! COME SEE OUR DIORAMA OF HELL, WHERE ELTON JOHN IS FUCKING A DINOSAUR AND RICHARD DAWKINS IS BEING WHIPPED BY STALIN.”

Yesterday, the centre was deserted but for one lonely volunteer sitting up the back of the shop padding away at his mobile phone. No doubt he was taking to Twitter to enthuse about how great Jesus is. Tweets like:

@drippyhippy If you think about it, isn’t the Bible just a great big Tweet from God?140 characters, and Jesus is the star! #teamGod

 

@JesusTheFirstRockstar WOO! Jesus, your guitar solo of love flew through the amp and blew the devil from my stage! The crowd surfed him to Hell. YOU RULE JESUS!

 

@PiousPaul My cat licked its own chuff, so I burned her in the name of Jesus. #saynotopussy #mercifulJesus

If Jesus came back today, WWHD? I’ll tell you what he’d do. He’d lose the heid, Bible-style.  “ANN SUMMERS IS HEAVING WITH CUSTOMERS AND MY SHOP’S EMPTY?!” he’d bellow. “DILDOS?!! THE ONLY THING HOUSEWIVES SHOULD BE PUTTING INSIDE THEM IS MY LOVE!” Then he’d go on a major ‘taps aff’ rampage, smashing the shit out of every shop in sight, making his funny turn in the temple look like a sulky pre-schooler’s huff. Then it would be back to basics: floods, earthquakes, pillars of salt, the lot. “I’m never taking 2000 years off again,” he’d say, loading up another lightning bolt.

But thankfully you don’t need to worry about that, because Jesus is about as real as the doodle I just did on my notepad of a half-frog, half-beaver with George Galloway’s face.

Anyway, we’ve all learned something today. We’ve learned that the people of Stirling are more interested in nipple clamps and edible knickers than the Bible. And I’ve learned something, too: I actually quite like you, Stirling.

Thanks, Bible Learning Centre.

PS: Good people of the BLC: I’d rather my son spent a whole day wandering around a museum exhibition entitled ‘Pictures of Murdered Prostitutes Throughout the Ages’ than spend thirty seconds in your dead-eyed play-pen of lies. Happy Easter!

The Walking Dead Review: Season 5 Episode 9

rick

So, the Walking Dead is back from its mid-season break, and with it our appetite for gorging on the harrowing exploits of the only group of people in the world with less chance of happiness than the characters in Eastenders. It’s fair to say that The Walking Dead is a show low on hope, and high on showing what little hope there is being dashed. An average episode can often make you long for a more uplifting way to spend your recreational time, like reviewing CCTV footage of fatal road traffic accidents. 

The cancer of hope is the theme hammered home more explicitly than usual in the latest episode, What’s Happened and What’s Going On. Rick, Michonne, Glen, Tyreese and the group’s newest member Noah travel to Virginia to the gated community Noah and his family called home before the outbreak; a community that poor, naïve Noah believes will both still be intact, and safe enough to act as the group’s new home and fortress. It isn’t. And it isn’t. A combination of bad people and zombies has converted the once-safe haven into the kind of dangerous, dilapidated ghost town we’ve come to know, love and expect from the show. 

The episode’s pre-credits montage offers a haunting array of images chronicling the futility of hope in the new post-civilisation world: we see Woodbury, the Prison, a painting of a cottage – with blood seeping over it – that bears an eerie resemblance to the one in which Carol mercy-killed a kid. These are all places where hope slowly established itself only to be quickly, cruelly and brutally deposed. And yet it’s clear from the expressions on Rick’s and Glenn’s faces during their conversation early on in the episode that they allowed themselves to hope that Noah was right about his former home – that it was safe, that things would get better – despite all evidence to the contrary based on the unending disappointment and suffering they’ve endured across four and a half seasons of The Walking Dead. We’ll return to that feeling later. 

The images in the montage are interspersed with a eulogy that Father Gabriel is delivering, which we have no reason to suspect is for anyone but the recently departed Beth, especially when we see the grief-stricken reactions of Maggie and Noah. While some of the images – the prison, Woodbury – are there to contextualise the theme and set the tone of the episode, others, like the service itself, are actually flash-forwards, something that doesn’t become apparent until the episode starts moving towards its heart-breaking conclusion. The whole of the opening montage is a clever – and very artfully directed – piece of misdirection which pretty much buries the death of one major character in the grave of another. We don’t realise it at the time but what we’re watching, in essence, is a trailer for the death of Tyreese. 

ty

Inside the gated community Rick, Glenn and Michonne move off to reconnoitre, leaving Tyreese baby-sitting a distraught Noah, who has just realised that everything and everyone he had ever known, loved or taken for granted is gone. Gripped by grief and rage, Noah runs off to his family home to see with his own eyes what has become of his mother and brothers. Tyreese follows him into the house and there, in the room once occupied by Noah’s twin brothers, he stands staring slack-jawed at photos of happier times that are stuck on the wall. While he is lost in this fugue of empathy and horror one of the reanimated brothers staggers up and sinks his teeth into the big man’s arm. 

In the scenes leading up to Tyreese’s death there are many references and allusions to childhood, both direct and indirect: Tyreese’s recollection of his father’s words about the price to be paid for becoming a citizen of the world; the very site of the attack itself, a little boy’s room; how Tyreese wedges himself under a desk like a frightened child (it reminded me of the scene in Eternal Sunshine where Jim Carrey relives his experience of being an infant).

The bulk of the episode concerns Tyreese’s battle against the infection which manifests itself through hallucinations of people from his past, both the good and the bad: the Termite he lied about killing; the two little girls who met a grizzly end in the cottage he shared with Carol; his sister’s boyfriend Bob; Beth herself, and even the Governor, who returns in the only way possible without causing a fan revolt. His dialogue with these people, his dialogue with himself, revolves around his actions and decisions since the outbreak, his commitment to forgiveness, pacifism and being a good man, and the deaths that may have followed these commitments. Ultimately, Tyreese decides that the price that must be paid to be a citizen of the world is too high – in this world at least – and allows himself to slip away towards death and some form of peace. 

gov

Before that happens – and before the full meaning of the pre-credits sequence becomes horribly clear – there is a thrilling sequence in which Rick and co attempt to save Tyreese by employing ‘the Hershel method’ and cutting off his infected arm. They manage to get Tyreese to the safety of the car, and speed him away, but they’re too late. During this sequence the audience is put in the same position as Rick and Glenn were in at the start of the episode: of allowing hope to seep into their hearts. I must confess that despite acknowledging the scarcity of happy endings (middles and beginnings, too) in The Walking Dead I thought, just for a moment, just for a second, that Tyreese was going to make it, and found myself doubly crushed when he didn’t. 

A sad end, then, to Tyreese, a larger-than-life, loveable character. He was an overgrown child with a heart full of huffs, tantrums, love and absolutes; a man – despite his gentle nature and pacifism – that you’d always feel safe around. It’s a shame to see him go, and even more of a shame that he never got the chance to come into his own, or fulfil the promise of the character we first met in season 3 (or indeed match the original version of Tyreese that exists in the comic books). 

Overall, What’s Happened and What’s Going On was a robust, affecting and effective 42 minutes of television. Unfortunately, the many great things about this episode – its strong and ambitious narrative structure, its haunting air of melancholy, the stand-out acting chops of Chad Coleman – are rather marred by The Walking Dead’s time-honoured over-reliance on shoddy dialogue and silly, contrived plotting that stretches credibility. Here’s a selection of the most mystifying happenings in the episode: a limping Noah being easily able to outrun Tyreese; Tyreese letting his guard down and not sweeping the whole house for threats after all he’d seen of the zombie apocalypse thus far; and Noah being rather too conveniently incapacitated on his way to fetch help from Rick. And most of Noah’s actions in this episode were either jarring or too narratively convenient, which makes me suspect either that a) the writing was a little bit shit, or b) he’s one to keep an eye on, potential-baddy-wise. 

RATING 4/5

PS: Given the way our use of IMDB usually complements our viewing, I wonder if show-makers are deliberately bringing actors back for flashbacks and dream sequences after their deaths in a bid to throw future viewers off the scent. “Oh, so The Governor makes it to season 5? Ah, Bob’s in that episode, so he obviously doesn’t die from that bite. Maybe he’s immune…”

Thoughts on ‘Love’

love1I recently participated in a charity event called ‘Scrapbooks and Rapbooks’, where I read from the diary of my 16-year-old self. The event inspired me to dig out these two complementary yet contrasting pieces on the subject of love. I say ‘pieces’. More like pieces of shit. Especially the first one, the poem. It’s basically a few nifty lines surrounded by a sea of overly sentimental faux-profound pretentious fuckery. Instead of going to all the effort of penning a poem I could just as easily have written ‘I KNOW A COUPLE OF BIG WORDS, NOW WILL YOU PLEASE FUCK ME???!!!’ on a piece of A3 paper, photocopied it and stapled it to trees and lamp-posts throughout the local area. As a strategy, it wouldn’t have worked, but at least it would’ve been honest. I wrote the poem when I was 17, and it makes me want to vomit up my heart and squish it underfoot like a dying fish.

The second piece, which is more of a rambling essay-of-sorts, I wrote when I was 25, and was inspired by an episode of Ross Kemp on Gangs. I wonder if you can also tell that I wrote it not long after a break-up, another in a long-line of healthy relationships my younger-self was addicted to machine-gunning to death in fits of faithless, fickle, sexually feckless behaviour.

I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the correct word in this context, but I certainly bid you to tolerate the following musings. First up, the piss-ass poem. Bits of it really are reminiscent of a song written by David Brent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Science Vs Religion

-

A paradox, a fraud amongst feelings,

A laboured lie cursed upon souls:

Of all the bonds that bind a man,

None can be so false as ‘love’.

-

Our minds control our destiny, not our hearts,

And what we feel can run no deeper than the

River of blood that runs through us all –

A deformity, a bastard born of man,

A twisted, deceptive purity! Inconceivable! –

it grows from our ignorance, not our instinct;

what lunacy a force as such could join the

feelings fortified in man.

-

To grieve a child can not be love.

Can it not be seen that creator weeps when creation fails?

What we grieve in loss is not empathy for the lost

But for an emptiness in ourselves –

Pity for a hole in us, not in earth.

-

To take a woman can not be love.

Nothing more can couplings be than means to lust and procreate,

A web of neurones, nerves and volts, making mortal drives seem great!

Another held above one’s self -

That’s tantamount to suicide!

-

Then dead am I.

-

For this that shudders down my veins,

From pounding heart, through all my brains:

but bubbling broth of DNA?

Have faith, my friend, join hands, let’s pray:

-

Once fingers fondly skirt the flesh,

All limbs entwined and hearts enmeshed;

Once the cliché’s been embraced

the ugly beast in each soul faced;

Then once you’ve watched the whole world die

Deep down dark, in mans mind’s eye,

And asked yourself (but please don’t lie),

Tell me, friend, but did you cry?

-

No?

-

My friend, once you’ve experienced that…

Atheism, as your doubts, will crumble to dust.

To ask how love can be is futile.

To simply know that it does must suffice.

-

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excruciating, eh? Anyway, on to the next one.

Love

mongIn a television documentary series entitled ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’, British actor Ross Kemp travelled the world to spend time with various gangs renowned for their brutality. The episode I watched featured the town of Auckland, New Zealand, where Kemp chronicled a native gang called ‘The Mongrel Mob’.

The Mongrel Mob’s members all feel shunned or abused by society in some way. Thus they have formed a clan of like-minded sociopaths hell-bent on visiting violent retribution upon society for these perceived slights and wrongs. Some of the group rage against society with a twisted sense of propriety and righteousness ; others gravitate to the group simply because they enjoy raging for destruction’s sake.

In this particular episode Kemp spoke with an elderly member of the Mongrel Mob about the role of women in the gang dynamic. It became clear that the gang members valued not subservience in their women – as a master would a pet – but instead didn’t value women at all. Those women who were permitted entry to a Mongrel Mob clubhouse entered on the proviso that they left their human rights at the door. They were expected to surrender themselves into the Mongrels’ fold as nothing more than shrieking, sucking, walking, fucking vaginas.

tampOne of the old charmers recalled to Kemp a distant time when, in one of these very clubhouses somewhere in the dilapidated suburbs of Auckland, he ripped off a woman’s pants with his teeth, and then used them to pull out her tampon. The tampon, as you might expect, was soaked in blood – as, very quickly, was the chap’s face. Naturally – as you do in these situations – he then asked a male friend to lick the blood from his face, and then invited his acquiescent comrade to share with him the tampon feast. Maybe this recital will have more impact if I present it in plainer English: they ate her fucking tampon.

Kemp asked the romantic so-and-so why he thought the woman had tolerated being treated in this manner. “She was in love with me in those days,” he replied.

Kemp, stony-faced, asked what happened next. I got the feeling Kemp wasn’t holding out hope for a sanguine ending to the tale. Neither was I. “I made love to her on the bar in front of me mates,” said the Mongrel, somewhat softly.

Did I really hear that? Did you just really read it? Love? A guest appearance from such a word in this old man’s lexicon seemed as incongruous as Kemp himself appearing in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. [VOICE OF PRESENT-DAY JAMIE – I WROTE THIS PIECE IN A PRE-EXTRAS WORLD. YEARS LATER, RICKY GERVAIS WOULD INDEED CAST KEMP IN PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. VERY FUNNY IT WAS, TOO.]

kemp2

If this act was performed in and, if we assume, received in the spirit of love, then what can the rest of us mean when we lay claim to the same concept? What price a declaration of love when its currency has been devalued so by wretched creatures such as these?

But then words are nothing more than representations of concepts; arbitrary symbols that refer to a framework we have erected to make sense of the things and ideas around us. They aren’t the actual thing that they represent, merely esoteric representations presented in a form tangible to certain human groups of representations of things filtered through our fallible, objective senses; and isn’t pinning down the nature of love a million, billion times more baffling than trying to unravel the middle section of this nonsensical and heavy sentence? [VOICE OF PRESENT-DAY JAMIE – MAYBE IF YOUR SENTENCES WERE BETTER AND MORE COHERENT IT WOULDN’T BE SO MUCH OF A PROBLEM, JAMIE]

We must remember, however, that The Mongrel Mob has chosen the Nazi interpretation of the swastika as the symbol of their ‘struggle’ against society. The irony that the Nazis were a mob of mongrels who would gladly have purified this assortment of mainly ethnic, dim-witted alcoholics with extreme prejudice is sadly lost on them. So, perhaps their definition of love should not be unquestionably accepted as definitive.

Man marries cushion

But isn’t that the point? I could profess love to a calculator, and no man on Earth would have any right to question my commitment or feelings towards the object. I could love that calculator more than a man loves his wife. I could love a sunset, or a painting, or a dung beetle. I could love with an unmatched burning intensity a woman who steals my house, or love a woman I’ve just brutally raped. I could love fifteen women at once. What do I, do we, mean when we say that? How is my love for a woman the same as or different from the way that any number of men love women; or that women love men, women women, and men men?

I’m sure we all have our own sense of truth in this matter. The English language may be standardised, but the emotion of love (if it can be called an emotion) varies in its form from person to person, culture to culture. I have read many interpretations of and theories about love in books on religion, psychology, sociology, philosophy, biology, anthropology and history. [STILL DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH I TOOK, THOUGH] I’ve read comprehensive studies and reports (even Cosmo-fucking-politan), asked many friends and acquaintances, searched my own thoughts and feelings, and still I’m not sure whether or not love even exists.

sad_cupid

We all agree what it means and feels to be angry, sad or afraid. But ask us of love and each will offer a different and ‘definitive’ translation: the woman married for 60 faithful years to a loving husband will cite the trials and tribulations of holding together a union over six decades as the epitome of love; the woman who holds her newborn child in her arms may know no greater case for the manifestation of love than the feelings stirred in her by the tiny pissing puke-bag under her care [I’VE GOT A SON NOW. HE IS INDEED A TINY, PISSING PUKE-BAG, BUT THE BEST TINY, PISSING PUKE-BAG IN THE UNIVERSE, AND I WOULD CRAWL NAKED OVER IRRADIATED BROKEN GLASS TO KEEP HIM SAFE]; the teenager who stands at a girl’s house in the early hours of the morning with a bunch of flowers and a fluttering heart believes that no-one has felt such strength and purity of love as he has at that moment, believes that love itself wasn’t born until his eyes fell on the object of his affections; the men at the altar, both the priest and the groom, have different ideas about, but perhaps equal intensity in their feelings, of love, for God and woman respectively (some may say the two aren’t mutually exclusive); the man who cheats on his wife but still loves her; the Muslim man who loves his daughter but kills her to restore family honour; the woman who takes an overdose of pills through an overdose of love; the stalker who waits unseen outside of his idol’s home with a wedding ring in one hand and a knife in the other; the woman lying at the bottom of the stairs in a broken, bruised heap, her husband towering over her triumphantly on the landing above: all love.

And the man who makes love to a brutalised woman on a bar in the presence of his mates.

All love.

charles11

But, again, that’s the point; if indeed there is a point. None of us can do more than see the world through our own eyes. My analysis of love, however more elaborate, is no more or less useful than any analysis that may be offered by a member of the Mongrel Mob. Whether you believe in love at first sight; or that love is forged through hardship over time, or whether you believe that love itself is a questionable concept doesn’t matter so much as the thought that all of this belief is just personal conjecture.

Yes, it’s interesting to discover how highly people revere love and the idea of love, or what in regards to it they believe to be true, but it can never be anything more than merely interesting. Revealing about the person doing the soul searching, yes; but not conclusive: never definitive.

In this respect belief in love – perhaps specifically romantic love – requires a similar leap of faith to belief in God.

I could state that we are all animals and no more capable of romantic love than starfish or kangaroos. To attempt to convince you of this I could fashion an intricate argument that harnessed power from the fields of zoology, anthropology, biology and every episode of Trisha; tell you that survival and reproduction is our over-riding goal, and even our love for our offspring is essentially love for the continuation of our own genetic and ancestral line. Which would tie in very nicely with what I might claim next: namely that all love emanates, at root, from the self, to the self. I could even rattle out a witty little aphorism that runs a little like this: ‘You can’t make people fall in love with you; you can only help them to fall in love with themselves’. Pretty trite and catchy, yeah? I could tell you that you’ve all watched too many bloody movies and that real life is more like The Sopranos than Ghost.

wedding

I could even, if you so wish, quote a study which found that the brain of someone supposedly in love exhibits the same waves and patterns as the brain of a bona fide lunatic. Is there a man or woman alive who wouldn’t agree with that? I could even, in final desperation, disavow love as a Frankenstein emotion, or expose it as nothing more than other emotions like guilt, anger, pride, fear and vanity wearing a clever disguise.

Would it matter? If love is indeed the new religion, then its associated supporters and fundamentalists will care not for any of my opinions. And why should they? Faith is their bulwark. Maybe it’s yours too.

It’s nice to hear and say sometimes, isn’t it? To love and to be loved. What would we in the West do without it? Besides, what’s the alternative? To remove ‘love’ from the dictionary, to wipe it from our hearts and minds would be as successful an endeavour as one faced by your average grumpy, secular British father should he wish one year to ban Christmas from his house. Sure, it’s a load of overly-sentimental tacky shite that has significantly decreased in impact and worth over the millennia, but just try explaining that to your kids or your wife.

Which of these likely lads do the odds favour to sustain a meaningful union long enough to have children?:

Man A: “I love you, darling. Will you marry me?”
Man B: “You see, sweetheart, love is an artificial construct born of our own narcissism and naivety. Something foisted on us and indoctrinated into our fragile minds from birth. Often one of the first words we’ll ever hear. It’s perpetuated in the classrooms, the churches, the cinemas. And, interestingly, the Marxists believe that love ultimately leads us to marriage, which in turn ensures that the working man is sufficiently pacified and preoccupied to almost guarantee that he will never wish to or be able to revolt; he’ll be nothing more than an efficient cog in the machine, thus preserving the balance of power in society and protecting those in its higher echelons. Anyway, since everybody else seems to be doing it, and since I don’t want other men to be able to sleep with you too easily, do you want to put this ring on?”

marky

You’d die alone, wouldn’t you?

So maybe you agree with me; and maybe you don’t. Maybe you think that love is one of the constant forces of the universe, and I’m just a cynical, selfish, failed-romantic motherfucker. Your opinion, then, is as irrelevant to me as mine is to you. It doesn’t mean you still can’t be right.

In conclusion, then: it seems to me that if love can mean so many different – and often contradictory – things to so many millions of different people, then the word and the idea begins to be stretched to the point where they are rendered almost completely meaningless… but then what do I know? I don’t believe in God either.

Maybe He loves me anyway.

Christmas Canine 2: The Wag-a Continues

Imagine my astonishment when I logged into this site’s email account to find that some plucky little reader out there had come up with a Brody-related image that’s as insane as it is festive. Well done, mysterious artist, whoever you are.

card (1)

There’s still time to submit your own to theotherjamie@hotmail.co.uk

Here’s a link to the original picture and mission statement:

http://www.jamieandrew-withhands.com/2014/12/23/the-tail-of-the-christmas-canine/

Merrg Brodymas!

The Tail of the Christmas Canine

A very lovely lady at work gave me a her-dog-themed Christmas card, which was sweet and thoughtful. Here it is:

merryxmas

Isn’t it nice? Isn’t the wee dog really cute?

This is how I repaid her:

dog

If any of you out there with too much time on your hands are up for creating pictures that whisk this adorable little quadruped into other places in time and space, then whip them up and drop me an email with the blighters attached. Let’s make Brody the most famous dog in the universe after Lassie, the Littlest Hobo and Hitler’s dog.

I’ll collate the pictures and we’ll give them their own hashtag on Twitter or something, because that’s modern as fuck and I’ve very much got my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, whatever that is.

(I already know I won’t receive a single picture of this fucking dog, not even a shit one where he’s at the pyramids, but please let me have my little deluded Yule-fuelled moment. I’m crying now. But my tears are for the dog. He could’ve been somebody. He could’ve been a contender. Goodbye.)

theotherjamie@hotmail.co.uk

Sit on my face and tell me that you love me…

faces

Face-sitting has been banned by government decree and banished from British-made porn. About time. For too long this flagrant breach of health and safety regulations has put thousands of plucky pro-fuckers at risk of suffocation in their work place. Not to mention the pressure that the existence of this exotic sex act puts on the male population, who already find it challenging enough to operate a vagina under normal conditions. Yes, thank you, David Cameron, for striking this hellish oral atrocity from the pages of the minge manifesto. We gave women the vote, and seemingly that wasn’t enough: how many different types of orgasms do these greedy bastards need?

Face-sitting isn’t right, fair or safe. It’s like playing the bagpipes without the mouthpiece, directly into the bag, with the added danger that the bag could crush your neck and swallow your head at any moment (not to mention contending with the vague smell of unwashed bum).  Perhaps now our over-stretched emergency rooms will be safe from the hordes of naked women who waddle into our hospitals, swishing the corpses of their asphyxiated partners behind them like a tail. Farewell to the era of the Human Centipede.

But wait, men. And let’s think about this for a minute. And think hard. This all seems like a good thing on the surface. But is it really? This ban strikes at the heart of something that we all hold dear, something that no cabal of men in suits has the right with which to tamper: girl on girl porn. This is the thin end of the wedge. Let them ban face-sitting and female ejaculation from our favourite films, and we could face a cold future in which all lesbian porn is reduced to two women chastely greeting each other with a peck on the cheek, and then sitting down to enjoy a Dirty Dancing/Footloose marathon. Is this what you want? Could you wank to that? I, for one, won’t stand for it.

Now, I’m not the rebellious type. But fortunately I am a pragmatist, and a cracking inventor. So here’s my solution, something so powerful that it would have Duncan Bannatyne leaping out of his Dragon’s seat and hollering ‘I’m bloody in! Here’s £50million ya dobber, sign me up!’

Imagine a frame, much like a mini-zimmer or a tiny erection of scaffolding perhaps constructed by the Dozers in Fraggle Rock, that can sit over a man’s or a woman’s face. This frame will take the weight of a vagina, and allow the mouth underneath full – and safe – access to the juicy goodness above without fear of accident or death. I call it…

Wait for it…

Scoffolding.

(This idea is trademarked, so don’t even fucking think about nicking it.)

Fisting's been banned, too. Good news for The Avengers.

Fisting’s been banned, too. Good news for The Avengers.

More Stuff is Banned

I don’t know what I can do to save fisting, except maybe appeal to UKIP on the grounds that the Europeans will still be able to lead the industry in their export of bunched-finger fucking, while we sexually-manacled Brits are forced to offer a sorry, single digit to the world. Come on, Farage. Get to Brussels, pronto. Churchill will be punching in his grave!

As for the directive that all aggression be expunged from UK-porn, I can only extend my full support.   Long have I awaited pornography that’s more in the spirit of Sgt. Wilson from Dad’s Army: “I wonder if you wouldn’t mind awfully… if I put my willy in here.” And who among us hasn’t secretly wished to hear these words whispered in a sweaty, slippery, screaming skin-flick: “I think I’m falling in love with you.”

I’m not going to attempt to fight the corner of simulated violence, pissing or pooing in porn, though. Probably best not to masturbate to that, on balance. Besides, if you are so inclined, there’s always Germany.

If any people from the UK porn industry are reading this I’m now taking pre-orders for Scoffolding™. As it currently only exists in my head, I’m going to have to ask for £100,000 per unit. I’m also doing some R&D on pairs of fake balls which at the moment I’m calling scroto-types. Thank you.

Sons of Anarchy Finale Prediction

OK, here’s how the finale’s going to go down, trust me. (WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE SOPRANOS FINAL SCENE – ERM… SORT OF) 

soa

Jax enters Holsteins diner, and takes a seat near the back. He puts ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ on the jukebox. It’s not by Journey though. It’s a cover by a little-known songstress by the name of Katy Sagal, who’s certainly never been heard on Sons of Anarchy before…

Each time the bell at the front door rings, Jax looks up. Wendy and Chibs enter. So do lots of suspicious looking characters: black guys with riding leathers, an Irishman with a massive green top-hat, Robocop, some miscellaneous prostitutes. Wendy and Chibs take a seat at the booth alongside Jax. We notice Hellboy sitting at the main bar, looking back over his shoulder and aiming decidedly shifty looks in Jax’s direction. Jax ignores him.

“Where’s Abel?” he asks.

“He’s just parking the car he stole earlier,” says Wendy, “I sure hope he doesn’t stab anyone to death on the way in here.”

Jax nods. And then stands up and takes a piss right into Chibs’ eyes. “We love you Jackie Boy,” says Chibs, wiping the fresh urine from his face. Hellboy gets up from his seat at the bar and heads to the bathroom. It’s tense. Real tense. The doorbell rings again. Jax looks up…

and then the One Niners, the Los Mags, the Mayans, the IRA, the Armenians, the Byz Lats, The Grim Bastards, The Devil’s Tribe, The Hells’ Angels, a platoon of marines, the Bolivian military, a legion of Roman soldiers, the hordes of Hades itself and Vic Mackey all storm into Holstein’s with their guns raised, and shouting angrily. There’s a massive gun fight, and one-hundred-and-eighty-five people die writhing in their own torn flesh, blood and guts. Who cares? Nobody can remember who’s who, what’s what, who did what to who and why. There’s some discernible rape amid the carnage, which is displayed to the audience through the medium of a tastefully scored montage. Wendy gets her head blown off, Chibs gets his rib-cage exploded by a shot-gun blast, and Jax goes down in a slow-mo hail of bullets. Hellboy exits the toilets, and surveys the scene with a shake of his giant head. He squats down for a shit on Jax’s dead face.

“Hmmm,” he says, “Everyone’s dead, all right. No ambiguity or subtext here. No siree. Just this crap.”

Then the doorbell chimes again, and Abel walks in with Hamlet. Abel throws back his head and laughs. “Who’s a boy got to gang-rape around here to get some onion rings?” Then he stabs Hamlet in the eye. The scene ends with a close-up of Jax’s bare ass, a trickle of blood running down the crack towards his impossibly white trainers. Fade out.

Then we fade in, and see a hairy-faced Dexter peeking his head into the diner. “Thank you, Kurt Sutter,” he says, dropping to his knees in the blood, a tear running down his cheek. “Thank you so fucking much.”

Scotland Decides… What to Watch on TV

Let’s take a look at what’s happened to TV in Scotland – and Britain beyond – in the wake of the referendum result. Welcome to a Scotland where every TV programme has something to do with independence, a lack thereof, or the wankiness of government. 

To contribute to a future edition of this TV Guide, please email your submissions to theotherjamie@hotmail.co.uk, including your name and location, and if enough people get involved I’ll do another one.

scott

Fawlty Powers

Cameron Fawlty is desperately trying to keep the guests in his run-down hotel happy so that his business doesn’t collapse around him. He does appear to be trying rather harder to please the rich guests, especially the ones with Home Counties’ accents, but let’s not get cynical, that’s probably just coincidence. Cameron is helped along by his luckless servant Man-No-Very-Well, of whom Cameron remarks to other guests: “I’m terribly sorry, he’s from Caledonia.” Get ready to shriek with laughter as Man-No-Very-Well is repeatedly struck over the head and threatened with a loss of earnings and a reduction of his liberty.

Tonight’s episode is everyone’s favourite, ‘The Scottish’, where we get to hear the immortal line: “Don’t mention the Barnett Formula! I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it alright. So, that’s two Scotch eggs, a dismantled NHS, a billion barrels of oil, a West Lothian question, and four deep fried Mars Bars.”

Not to mention: “Well you started it.” “No, we didn’t.” “Yes you did, you elected Salmond.”

Miliband of Brothers

Ep 6. A Scottish battalion – low on weapons and ammo – is coming under heavy fire from Westminster forces at the Battle of Referendum. General Miliband sends them a telegraph from HQ 800 miles away ordering them to stand down and allow their bollocks to be shot off by the enemy, who aren’t really their enemy, even though it might seem that way because they’re in the process of being attacked by them. Miliband vows that after the battle he’ll definitely send more weapons and ammo. Definitely. One hundred per cent. Possibly. Well, maybe. Put it this way, he’ll seriously think about thinking about talking about thinking about it. “Thufferin’ thuccotash, chaps,” signs off Miliband. “We’re all in this together! Thee you on the other thide!”

Lamonty Python’s Lying Circus

Johann Lamont and the Scottish Labour Party are back, and just as side-splittingly hilarious as you remember them. Includes the all-time classic ‘Dead Party’ sketch:

Johann Cleese: “Look, matey, I know a dead party when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.”

Michael Failin: “No, no, it’s not dead, it’s, it’s restin’! Remarkable party, the Glaswegian Red, int’it, ay? Beautiful plumage.”

Johann Cleese: “The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead. This party has ceased to be. This is an ex-party!”

Get ready to guffaw your head off at more of your old favourites, like the Argument Clinic sketch (“Hello. I hear Scottish Labour is going to be a strong, credible force in the next election.”  “No it isn’t.” “But Labour stands for the working man against people like the Tories.” “No it doesn’t.”), The Four Scotsmen sketch (“I used to get out of my bed and go down the mines to work for twelve hours a day, and when I got home, I’d always go to the polling booth to vote for Labour. But you try and tell the young people today that… they won’t believe you.”) and, of course, the funniest sketch of all, The Ministry of Silly Cunts.

The Far Right Stuff

Join your host Nigel Farage for his mirth-filled mid-morning magazine show. Joining him today are Nick Griffin and Paul Golding. Why not call in and share your views on immigration with the guys? (Unless you’re an immigrant, in which case don’t waste our fucking taxes on a phone call.). The Far Right Stuff hopes to relocate its studios to Westminster in 2015, and go on to ensure even better coverage for viewers in Scotland.

smash

BBC News

A new series of the hilarious comedy.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

The exciting tale of an ordinary faction of loyalist Rangers Supporters who use their super-powers to stamp out the twin evils of Republicanism and Nationalism. In today’s episode, the gang is threatened by a wee 9-year-old girl waving a saltire in George Square. Donning their trademark Union Jack body-suits and balaclavas, and with a cry of ‘WE ARE THE PEOPLE’, they bond together and crack out their mightiest super-powers of all: the powers of “kicking fuck oot ay cunts an’ that” and “settin’ fire tay some cunt’s bin coz he’s prolly a bleck or a Tim.”

Mighty Corstorphine Flower Arrangers

In this spin-off show, a group of rich old Tory women from Edinburgh form a guild, which they use as a cover to fight the forces of fairness, justice and progressiveness. Watch out for their special power of saying ‘NO THANKS’ really loudly, and their devastating super-attack of ‘not wanting to risk the value of their husband Gerald’s stock portfolio’.

Lamont and Eck’s Friday Morning Take-away

Johann Lamont and Alex Salmond are back for a special post-referendum edition of the popular studio-based game-show in which Alex Salmond desperately tries to give autonomy, prestige and democracy to the Scottish people, and Johann Lamont tries to take it all away again.

Look out for the hilarious round where Lamont has only five minutes to terrify as many old people as possible by phoning them up and telling them that they’re going to lose their savings. Tonight’s first special guest is the woman from that advert who thinks the best time of the day is when they’re all out and it’s nice and quiet. Tonight’s other special guest is Tommy Sheridan, who’ll probably try to fuck her.

Cameron-nation Street

Just to recap the story so far: The Cabin was forced to close due to the opening of the town’s ninth Tesco Megastore just two streets away. Ken Barlow hung himself once he realised that his state pension was only six pence a month. Twelve residents have died since it now costs £6000 for a tub of paracetamol. All of the street’s houses have been repossessed. Actually, nobody lives on Cameron-nation Street anymore. Tonight’s episode is just a 30-minute static shot of the street, accompanied by the sound of an unseen man screaming himself to death. Last in the series.

Or if you’re in the mood for a movie instead, how about Danny Alexander Champion of Fuck All or No Country Because of Old Men.

Circus Vegas: Europe Meets the USA

circusvegas

My home-town of Falkirk often feels like an urban version of The League of Gentlemen, only without the laughs. And thrice the horror.

But Falkirk tries, dammit. After all, it brings us Circus Vegas every year, treating us to the kind of dazzling display of Yankee razzmatazz that only a group of touring Albanians can provide. Actually, I don’t know if the Circus Vegas team are Albanians, but I went last year and heard the ringmaster talk, and it’s fair to say that his accent was ever so slightly to the east of Las Vegas. By about 6000 miles.

Location, location, location is the old maxim and, boy, what a location Circus Vegas had in store for us in 2013. I know what you’re thinking. Did they hold the circus in the grounds of Callendar Park estate? Inside the football stadium? Em, close. It was in the bingo hall car park. Didn’t you see the glitzy flyers? Well, cash in my chips, and whisk me off to the Grand Canyon in a red, white and blue jet, Uncle Sam. Yee haw! Call me old fashioned, but the only thing that should be taking place in a bingo hall car park is a fight between two old drunks, taps aff and teeth oot. (Falkirk Fun Fact: the Grand Canyon is actually the nickname of a big girl called Sharon McMaster who lives in The Boag. Many have spelunked in the Grand Canyon: few have lived to tell the tale).

I suppose the paucity of decent venues in Falkirk isn’t the fault of the good people of Circus Vegas. The important thing is how they pulled off their extravaganza. After all, Jesus was born into an unglamourous stable-themed environment, and look how well that turned out for the world…

circus2

The ringmaster – the man employed to gel it all together with vim and authority – had the winning demeanour of a heavily depressed geography teacher who’d just been through a rough divorce. You could hear the suicidal ideation in every quiver of his dulcet Albanian tones. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, now that my wife has taken everything, I will… NEVER be able to stop doing this shit! OK, for your amazement, the wonderful human cannonball. Will he survive, ladies and gentlemen? I genuinely…. DON’T care anymore!”

The first act was a guy who stacked a bunch of chairs into a tower, pulled his top off and attempted to climb it. A half-naked man desperately trying to balance on a chair? Show us something we don’t already see in Falkirk town centre on a typical Saturday night, Circus Vegas. What’s the second act? A guy trying to act sober enough to flag down a taxi?

Not long into proceedings there was an X-Factor style skit involving Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, wherein the charismatic ringmaster bade the unlicensed characters dance, and then pronounced upon their shittiness. The kids laughed; I doubt Circus Vegas’s Armenian lawyers did. I’m tempted to send a letter to Simon Cowell and Disney, just for a laugh, so that in order to avoid future prosecutions Circus Vegas will have to change their skit to ‘The Sing Quotient with Muckey Rat and Ronald Goose’.

Still, they’re smart, those circusoids. The kids in the audience would probably have cheered and laughed if every act was a man maniacally waving a jobby on a stick, but the real trick is to keep the dads, brothers, grandpas and uncles engaged. That’s where the scantily-clad 20-something dancing girls came in. At every point at which I was ready to gouge out my own eyes and plug the gaps in my blood-soaked sockets with popcorn in the hope of an agonising yet comparatively interesting death, out they came: juddering, jiggering and gyrating, kicking their long bare legs in the air, and  a-jiggling and a-wiggling their snake-hipped asses off. Across the auditorium, you could actually hear the sound of 300 awkward hard-ons tightening into life.

Circus-Vegas-Shoot-0084

Imagine an evening being tortured by the Iranian security services that’s occasionally interrupted by a salvo of saliva-enhanced hand-jobs from a series of beautiful Persian prostitutes – an XHamster version of those pleasure/pain adverts that Muller used to do, if you like. Well, it was nothing like that. Good, though. I must say that something funny happened to my girlfriend each time the dancers appeared. She did this thing where she flailed her arms about and hit me in the ribs with her elbow. I think it must’ve been an Albanian folk dance or something.

During the interval, there was a chance for parents to pay for their children to go on a supervised donkey trek around the ring. What a magical sight that would’ve been had the donkey-ensconced kids not been led around by a bunch of guys who would’ve looked more at home providing security for the Bulgarian Mafia than enacting scenes of wonder for wide-eyed children. The donkey trek appeared to contain all the warmth of a funeral procession on a merry-go-round.

The men in charge of the donkeys were all without exception grey, old, fat and scowling: all of the qualities you would expect to see in top-class children’s entertainers. To be fair these men weren’t theatrical acts, but considering that the donkeys were used only at the interval and not even glimpsed during the main event, it would’ve been nice to see their entertainment potential being maximised. With maybe something, like, oh I don’t know, just off the top of my head – a fucking smile?

Some good snaps for the album, though. “Ah, little Johnny, remember that time at the circus when we entrusted you into the care of a deeply uninterested Bulgarian murderer?” Why were the donkeys even there? Probably to ensure the crew had a steady supply of chorizo while they were in Falkirk so they didn’t have to venture into the town and eat seagull-roadkill-kebabs from Kings’.

A large positive though: their clown was awesome. Yes, they had a clown. OK, he may have been just a schizophrenic guy in a wig, but you can’t have everything. I especially loved the bit where he killed time between acts by throwing popcorn into the air and catching it in his mouth. I shit you not. Never mind your WWE wrestling, kids. THIS is LIVE entertainment of the highest calibre: watching an ill man chucking food about as a couple of fat men drag a trampoline into the periphery.

I have to admit that the motor-bikey-cagey-stunty thing they did was pretty cool, although I’m so used to seeing these kinds of spectacles by now – undeniably impressive though they are – that nothing short of an accidental death will provide me with entertainment value.

My advice to anyone thinking of taking their kids to Circus Vegas: go; do it. The wee cunts will laugh at anything. Thinking of going without kids? (And why would you? I only went so I’d have something funny to write about.) Don’t do it. Go to a burlesque show or the strippers instead. Or if you’re loathe to venture out, just get a big tub of Muller yoghurt and check out ‘Circus Vagus’ on XHamster.

No means No? Yes… For now.

dead_unicornWe live in a peaceful democracy, which is why the will of the majority will be accepted – however reluctantly – without calls for people’s heads on sticks, fights or riots. Emotionally, we on the YES side will take stock and move on; we will continue to battle for a better future for our children, and to participate fully in whatever comes next.

But the suggestion from some quarters that YES voters should ‘get over it’, ‘stop spitting out the dummy’ or ‘get back in their box’ is as insulting as it is disgusting. I voted YES because I believe in the tenets of free healthcare, free education and free childcare – among many other things – which was and is within the power of an independent Scotland to be delivered, protected and guaranteed. I voted against nuclear missiles, the callous indifference of Westminster, policies that widen the wage gap and create and prolong poverty, the resurgence of the Tories and their ideological opposition to the things I believe are crucial to a fair and decent society, and the rise of UKIP and the far right in the south. I believe Scotland possesses the will and the resources for full autonomy over its own affairs, for a better and richer society – both materially and spiritually – for its people.

Today, what has not been taken from me, is under threat of being taken. I cannot help but feel disappointed and angry.

Remember how often those heading the Better Together campaign told us that Independence was a one-way street; that there would be no going back from it? Well, I hope a lot of people wake up today and realise that the same might prove equally true of deciding to remain in the union. Let’s see what happens next.

For all of our sakes, let’s hope that the faith of the NO voters is rewarded, and something good comes out of this result; that the extra powers promised don’t turn out to be as substantial as mist and ghosts. Let’s hope that we don’t find ourselves forgotten or sidelined in the call for more powers for other parts of the UK; that we don’t find ourselves bent over the oil barrel and fucked into submission.

The coarse, gleeful laughter from the NO campaign headquarters last night is still ringing in my ears. I can’t shake the feeling that many in this country cast their vote in a spirit of ‘I’m alright, Jack.’

Well, my infant son’s called Jack. He’s going to remember you said that.

This isn’t over.

Space lizards and dead goats: A Q&A with the No Campaign

Better Together

I spent a little time in Westminster and asked a representative of the government what he thought about independence, the Better Together campaign, Scotland’s chances of going it alone, and why he thought Scotland would be better off voting ‘No’ this Thursday…

Which celebrities or influential people have joined the No campaign?

There are literally some people who have thrown their weight behind the No campaign. There’s George from Rainbow; the smaller of the two Chuckle Brothers; a walk-on extra who appeared in Take the High Road in 1987; David Beckham’s left testicle; Where’s Wally AND Where’s Waldo (a real transatlantic alliance there); Screech from Saved by the Bell, and the late Fred Gwynne. Fred Gwynne once warned us in his hit movie Pet Sematary that “there’s a lot of animals died on that road”, and I know you’ll join me in reaching the foregone conclusion that he was talking about the hard consequences we would face in the aftermath of an independent Scotland.

Tell me about the UK’s, and by extension a future independent Scotland’s, relationship with the EU…

If you don’t want to be pushed around by the EU, vote No. It’s as simple as that. The UK government will not stand idly by and let a small state become subservient to the whims of a larger one. Except in the case of Scotland, of course, because you band of breakfast-time booze-hounds need our help to stop you from drinking yourselves to death. It’s a known fact that if you were to be left alone for two minutes you’d be smashing up your granny’s house, injecting heroin into your eyeballs and shoving things up your bums.

Anyway, even if you go independent and leave our union, and decide that you want to cosy up to the EU, I’ll tell you now: they won’t have you. They think you smell. Belgium doesn’t like your haircut. And France says your mum buys all your clothes.

But what about Norway, you might ask? Yes, they’ve certainly made some sickening overtures to woo you into their evil orbit should you vote for independence. Are you crazy? Is that what you want?  To team up with the baddies from World War II? Well, if you love snow and elk-fucking all that much, then please be our guest.  (Apologies for the harsh tone. Of course we don’t want you to be our guest. You live here with us. We want to keep you just as you are: a permanent resident that’s chained up in the basement for your own good).

I’m not saying that forming an alliance with Norway would make every single pet in Scotland spontaneously combust, but if I were you tomorrow I’d start digging thousands of tiny graves.

What do you think about Alex Salmond?

I’m not saying that Alex Salmond is a depraved serial sex killer, but it’s hard not to imagine him donning a black balaclava and latex gloves and speeding up and down the A90 trawling for victims whilst vigorously masturbating himself beneath the steering wheel. Once found, his victims doubtless would be treated to the sort of terrifying and excruciating death we think only happens to characters in horror movies. Now I’m not saying that he would ‘do it’ with their corpses afterwards, but I think it’s pretty clear that he’d ‘do it’ with their corpses afterwards. And this is the man you want running your country?  This monster must be stopped before he kills again – and let’s be under no illusions whatsoever: Salmond WILL kill again.

But the vote’s to decide whether people want Scotland to remain in the Union or become independent. It’s not a vote for or against Salmond, is it? …

That’s a common misconception. Of course it is. What most people don’t realise is that Salmond is an all-powerful shape-shifting reptilian power beast from the Yarglanokan nebula on the far side of the galaxy. Once installed in his role as Supreme and Terrible Leader of Scotland, Salmond swiftly will reveal his true reptilian form, and unleash his fearsome gaping jaws which are capable of crushing and devouring an entire disabled person, wheelchair and everything, with room left over for a small malnourished Glasweigen child.

Salmond plans to rule for at least twelve-thousand years, after which he’ll nuke not just Scotland, but the entire solar system. After all, he’s done it before. (Source: Armit, M., (2012) The One Show, BBC) Once he’s finished his reign of terror he’ll travel to other galaxies, visiting his sadistic serial sex murders on an unsuspecting alien populace, turning the universe into his very own intergalactic A90. I wonder when the people of Scotland will wake up and smell the space-lizard excrement.

What about the NHS? Are the Scots right to fear privatisation or dismantlement of their beloved institution?

Hark back to a time when you’ve been to see shows at the Edinburgh Festival (which incidentally is nothing more than a month-long lesbian communist plot). What did you think of those free shows? They were terrible, weren’t they? And why? Because you didn’t have to pay for them. How good can something be if it’s free? Now, look at how our friends in America do things with their health-care system. If you want a new lung you jolly well have to cough up for it, and just think how much more American citizens appreciate their smashing new lungs as a consequence. And look at child-birth. If you’re going to fork out £6000 to give birth to a child, you’d better bloody well mean it. If birth was as expensive a business in this country there’d be less poor people on our streets, and those poor people who did manage to ‘make it through to the next round’, as it were, would be in an awful fucking state. A wonderfully, gloriously awful fucking state. Dried blood instead of shoes, coats made from used nappies, and thirty-eight deadly diseases in their genitalia alone. And with poor people like that, maybe we in Britain could finally start producing world-class TV dramas like ‘The Wire’. What I’m saying is, if you want more dreary piss like ‘New Tricks’ on your telly, then by all means vote ‘Yes’.

What about the currency debate? What monetary unit would the people of Scotland use in the event of independence? 

I don’t want to cause a panic, but in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, all currency will be abolished in Scotland until the end of time. The Scots simply won’t be allowed to have money of any kind. Now, I’m not saying that the English will invade Scotland, but when English shock troops have reduced Scotland to a smouldering husk, and the people are trying to barter dead goats for sexual favours, or in most cases just deciding to fuck the dead goats instead, just remember that Alistair Darling’s eyebrows once gazed at you benevolently from beneath a beautiful sliver of silver hair, and you decided to shave them off to spite your face.

And let’s not forget that the Bank of England has threatened to relocate its HQ to England in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.

But what about the oil?

There is no oil. Tommy Sheridan made it up.

But what about the oil platforms in the North Sea?

Those have nothing to do with drilling. Well, in a way they do. Sheridan had them built so that he could host swingers’ parties in the ocean.

Does The Bible tell us anything about independence?

I’m glad you asked. If you take the Bible and cut out every individual letter from every page of Genesis, and then re-arrange a pile of those letters to form the phrase ‘Scotland is Better Together’, then you’ll discover an amazing thing: you’ll be able to decipher the phrase ‘Scotland is Better Together’. Spooky. Also, few people realise this but the Book of Revelations is actually a treatise against Alex Salmond’s fiscal policies.

Any closing words for those still on the fence for the referendum?

Yes. ‘Better Together’ sounds a bit like ‘Butter Toga Thor’, and those are three things that you’d be hard pressed to feel sad about. After all, who among us hasn’t fantasised about dressing up like a Roman senator and smothering our huge hammers in dairy products?  The word ‘Yes’, however, sounds like ‘abscess’. And I hope the Scottish people think about that on Thursday.

Independence: are we sick of it already?

eowin

A common complaint I heard from undecided voters in the early days of the independence debate was that nobody from either side was engaging with them. “Well,” they’d say haughtily, “Nobody’s sat down and told me why I should vote for them.”

What did they expect? Alex Salmond coming round their house with a change of clothes and a bottle of whisky? “I’m supposed to be at a rally tonight, missus, but screw that, me and you all the way. Right, I’ll do the first bit, and then Sean Connery’s coming round about half-ten to finish off. (clears throat) Now, we begin in 1270, on the day Mel Gibson was born…”

That’s if Salmond doesn’t get thrown off his stride by Clegg and Cameron rolling up outside the house in a tank, trailed by hordes of Labour voters, UKIPers and holidaying Ulster Unionists, while Alistair Darling hollers into a megaphone: “Step away from the voter, Salmond, you podgy porridge-eating separatist, she belongs to us now!”

Heaven forfend we should actually have to seek out, read, research, listen, watch, discuss, think or evaluate. In no other sphere of our lives do we expect answers to fall into our laps, or be spoon-fed the motivation to participate in a process. When you’re booking a holiday you readily accept that you’ll have to work and research to get the best deal. You don’t expect a phone call like this:

“Hello, Mrs McGlinchy, this is Turkey. I just wondered if we could count on your support this holiday season? I’ve also got some statistics here which prove unequivocally that Sunny Beach is a fucking shithole.”

“Huh. I’m surprised you’ve got the cheek to phone. Last time I holidayed with you I couldn’t concentrate on my Jackie Collins for all that prayer racket five times a day. Do you think you could ask them to give it a rest – at least for the first two weeks in July? Oh, hang on, got to go… that’s Spain on Call Waiting…”

I know, I know, political campaigners regularly carry out door-to-door and telephone canvassing so that analogy isn’t perfect, but you take my point, right? You wouldn’t rely solely on canvassing to help make up your mind on an issue, would you? You wouldn’t refuse to find the facts for yourself and instead sit in a vegetative stupor on the off-chance that somebody was going to hand you a piece of paper with THE ANSWERS on it. (“I’m no’ deciding anything till there’s a chap on that door. And if it’s a Halloween guiser, then I guess I’ll be votin’ Dracula this year, eh?”) I certainly hope not. In any case, I’ve always believed that canvassing’s more about having a greater number of troops on the ground to gain a psychological advantage over the enemy, rather than a genuine attempt to sway the undecided or win converts through talk.

A genius comedy character invented by the Better Together campaign.

A genius comedy character invented by the Better Together campaign.

The debate is now thundering towards its climax, and you can’t lift a newspaper, switch on the TV, or round a corner without encountering a YES or a NO. Whatever the result on Thursday, what’s happening now is a bona fide democratic miracle. Scottish people are talking and organising and debating and enthusing in a way I haven’t witnessed in my lifetime. And what do we hear from the people who before had complained of a lack of engagement? That they’re bored of it all. Now that they possess all of the information they could possibly need or want… they don’t want it. Let’s start the chant:

“What do we want?”

“INFORMATION!”

“When do we want it?”

“ACTUALLY WE’VE CHANGED OUR MINDS.”

In our modern age of 24-hour rolling news and social-media saturation we’ve become too used to news stories having a three-day care-by-date. I dare say that even if a nuke were to wipe out 9/10 of civilisation on a Monday, everyone would be sick of hearing about it by the Wednesday. I find it desperately sad that although Thursday’s referendum is the most important political event in our country’s modern history, already a large number of people are wishing they could just be left in peace to watch Big Brother. (While Big Brother watches us.)

It’s a good job we didn’t have such short attention spans, or indeed Facebook, in days gone by, else we might have seen a few social-media status updates like these ones:

“OMG Patty Hurst or sumthin has thrown herself under a horse. Am I da only one that’s soooo over it? Neeiiiiiggghhhh thanks, lov e!!! Lol!”

“So yoove got to give up yer seat on the bus? BFD. Getting bored of this now… shurrupaboutit! Yoove got speshal buses for YOORSELVES anyway, so get on dem!! Or walk, it’s betta 4 u anyway, lazy!!”

“So da Nazis have aressted yoor family and karted them off in da train?… YAWN CITY! Cheeseus, does evryfing have to be about politicks these days?”

Please don’t weary of one of the most important discussions, debates and decisions in modern Scottish history. This is a great thing. It’s not a fad: it’s a movement, and one that will have an influence upon every single facet of your life wherever it takes us. There’s no such thing as talking about it too much.

If it helps, just think of the independence movement as a giant picture of your own dinner.

Ice Bucket Challenge: Worthy or Worthless?

iceAnd so, as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge speedily recedes from relevance, what legacy does it leave behind? When a 74-year-old Joey Essex resurrects its memory in a far-future edition of I Love 2014, what will he say about it? (After he’s said ‘I fot they growed ice on them special trees on Christmas Island,’ of course) Was the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ the clever and timely application of viral-marketing techniques to a worthy but overlooked charitable cause, or was it merely a case of our collective narcissism running amok on social media?

The roots of the challenge lie in the #Nomakeupselfie and Necknomination crazes that swept the internet earlier this year. #Nomakeupselfie convinced millions of women to post pictures of themselves on Facebook and Twitter along with the caption, ‘OMG, I look awfool without ma make-up’, quickly followed by a million comments saying, ‘don b silly huni, yoo luke gorgious’, even though they didn’t. Whatever you thought of the campaign, £8 million was raised for Cancer Research UK in six days.

Necknomination involved necking/downing/inhaling large pints, yards and buckets of booze, and posting a video of it on Facebook. You then nominated another would-be guzzler, and the process repeated itself ad infinitum. Or at least ad untileveryonegotsickofit-itum. The Necknomination craze wasn’t for anything: it was just a laugh (for ‘a laugh’ read ‘execrable’). It proved that people were willing to do anything as long as they were told to do it by a video on Facebook. (Ahmadinejad take note: the time is right for the ‘Inform on Your Neighbours Challenge’.)

The Ice Bucket Challenge stood on the shoulders of these two viral phenomena, learning how to make money from one, and how to excite the masses from the other. Yes, the challenge played to our vanity – and perhaps not everyone who participated gave a second thought to ALS – but it resulted in ALS receiving around 36 times its normal rate of donations. (Not to mention the boon to Macmillan and a whole host of other charities, including Water Aid. And let’s not forget that not a single pound or penny had to be spent on advertising.)

I can see why a viral campaign that entreats people to chuck litres of life-giving water over themselves might seem like a slap in the face to our African brethren, which is why it’s almost inexcusable that for my Ice Bucket challenge I nominated an entire village of Saharan Bedouins. In my defence, I’m Scottish and the concept of ‘not enough water’ is alien to me.

We certainly shouldn’t be encouraged to believe that throwing buckets of water over ourselves makes us heroes. In an ideal world we and our governments would work together to eradicate all social, political and somatic ills, and usher in a new utopia. But let’s get real: by and large we’re a horrible species: self-important parakeets preening in a mirror; indifferent to suffering – other people’s at any rate. If, occasionally, we can be tricked through a mass event into doing something nice, then I guess that’s okay.

New TV Shows This Autumn 2014

bbc

25 Years to Life on Mars

In 2013, BBC producer Sam Tyler is the victim of a vicious didgeridoo attack, and wakes up on the ground outside the BBC studios in 1973, with Jonathan King’s cock in his mouth. Walking into the BBC Studios is like walking into a different world. Is camel-coat wearing, cigar-puffing Director General Geney Savile all he seems? And if his new guv’s on the level, then why does he keep patting his arse, winking at him and calling him a nonce? And why does Savile have a yew tree potted up in his office? The only man Sam feels he can trust is Bruce Forsyth… but for how long?

savileIs Sam insane, back in time, or in a coma? Is he even a BBC producer? Every time Sam passes a TV set he sees an image of his younger self lying unconscious on a hospital gurney, with Cliff Richard singing songs at his bedside. Allegedly.

Features a cracking soundtrack by Gary Glitter.

Brew Peter

An informative lifestyle magazine show for young adults on the dole. Ever wondered how to draft that perfect letter to an employer that will guarantee you’ll never get hired? Also, Richard Bacon reveals the secret of how you can use a strip of sticky-back plastic to secure your bags of blow to the underside of hard-to-reach places. Perfect for evading the filth! And discover a brilliant use for all of those empty Kit Kat wrappers you don’t need any more. Each week, viewers send in their crayon-drawn portraits of Margaret Thatcher, which are set on fire by an angry man dressed as a miner.

Crystal Meth Maze

methA group of toothless, stinking tramps in vests run around the many zones of the Crystal Meth Maze – Up the Graveyard, The Underpass, Big Tam’s Hoose, The Swingpark and Down the Docks – taking part in timed challenges to get their hands on those coveted Crystals. Watch with glee as they compete in games like forced prostitution without protection, bare-knuckle fighting with their best friends for the amusement of strangers, stealing from their families, and selling their own internal organs to the Chinese. What a laughriot. With Richard O’Dien.

Ice Bucket Challenge: The Movie (sort of)

Hello folks

In the spirit of shameless self-promotion, here is my attempt at the Ice Bucket Challenge. With a plot and everything. Big thanks go to my mate for his directorial expertise. Donation made to Cancer Research. It’s all about the charity… no really, it is. I really mean that.

jamebo

Jesus Loves You – That’s the Problem

jesus

Letter from a friend? Letter from a terrifying stalker, more like. Is this letter supposed to bring me comfort? Really? It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to find under your pillow alongside a dead rat. A dead rat with blood-red lipstick smeared over its hellishly contorted face, and a message carved into its side with a stanley knife: “This how yoo mayk MEE pheel!”

And what in God’s name is Jesus – a God, the God – doing wasting his time on the indifference of one obliviously happy mammal while the whole world around Him echoes with the yelps and cries of the suffering of millions? Wait… shhhhhh. Shhhh. Do you hear that noise? That, my friends, is the sound of a malnourished East African child’s recently-deceased cheek thudding into the hot desert dust; Jesus could’ve saved him, but presumably he was too busy skulking around Scottish forests, jumping out at people from behind trees, and going, ‘WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO MAKE YOU LOVE ME, OPEN ANOTHER FUCKING VEIN??!’

It’s nice that Jesus/God takes a non-interventionist stance on things like genocide and torture (“Well, you know me, Archangel Gabriel, I really don’t like to interfere.”), but doesn’t appear to mind sticking his beak in when he’s feeling a bit mopey and sorry for himself. No lightning bolts to fry those who rape and beat children, but rainbows all round for all the underwhelmed, non-plussed cunts of the world who’re just trying to get to work on time – and couldn’t give a jumping jackhammer for Jesus. That makes Jesus angry… and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

No, this note does not indicate the behaviour of a benevolent and omnipotent deity; this note indicates the behaviour of a psychopathically jealous ex-partner who’s wearing a moustache made from bits of your hair he’s snipped from your head while you were sleeping. Having read this puke-inducing letter, you’ve got to believe that Jesus getting himself put on that cross two-thousand years ago was nothing more than a cry for attention from the universe’s biggest sulk.

I can see the FBI shaping a serial-killer’s profile from this note:

This is a man with grandiose ideas far out of touch with reality. He exhibits extreme narcissism, illustrated by the way in which he capitalises the word ‘Me’. Through his use of language, Jesus reveals a deeply entrenched God-complex.

We can speculate that in his childhood he was prone to violent bouts of rage, and may have committed anti-social acts such as flooding the entire earth’s surface and murdering millions of people. He may also have experimented with turning people into pillars of salt. Almost certainly he pissed the bed until he was 13.

Remember the Old Testament? Same dude, different beard. God was a total shit in the Old Testament, and I think that only makes his persona in the New Testament seem more sinister (remember ‘New’ Labour?). Jesus makes me nervous, like he’s an old gangster that says he’s gone straight, but you’re never quite sure: “I used to slice a mug’s fingers off just for lookin’ at me funny; now I bladdy love puppies, my san.” You know, a crazy glint in his eye that suggests he could go off on one at any minute. Perhaps, then, he’s more like a violent husband that’s trying to schmooze back into his ex’s good books: “Look, I know I got angry and wiped out a whole country with an earthquake when you forgot to close the fridge door that day, but that was the old me. I’ve changed, I really have… I promise…” Yeah, right, Jesus, pull the other one, mate! Jesus is Trevor, and we’re a planetful of Little Mo’s. And if it’s niceness you’re claiming, let’s not forget that Ted Bundy worked on the Samaritans’ switchboard. 

Creepier still, Jesus ends his ‘From a Friend’ letter by saying that he wants you to meet his Dad. But HE’S his own Dad. What next, Jesus? Discount coupons for a two-night stay at the Bates’ Motel?

Anyway, Jesus really freaked the fuck out of me with this one, so I’m busy drafting the text for a restraining order:

Jesus Horace Christ, you are prohibited from being within 30m of Mr Andrew, at all times and for any reason. This is in response to recent events, including:

Following Mr Andrew and his friends around the local park. You shadowed them on a parallel path behind the trees, intermittently breaking cover to blow in Mr Andrew’s face, and blind him and his friends with direct sunlight.

Breaking into Mr Andrew’s house in the dead of night. Mr Andrew said he opened one eye to find you sitting in a chair next to his bed. Your arm was outstretched and your fingers were approximately five inches from his face. You were crying, and mumbling to yourself: ‘I just want to touch you.’ You then opened the curtains and flooded the room with moonlight, muttering to yourself about DVDs of yours that were still in Mr Andrew’s possession. Mr Andrew was awake but was so terrified that he pretended to be asleep, hoping that you would leave the house of your own volition.

 

Folks, be afraid… be very afraid: Jesus loves you.

In Heaven, no one can hear you scream.

 

 

 

 

Pet Cemetery

butchIf you’ve ever had a pet, then you’re intimately acquainted with death – especially if you grew up with one.  This piece you’re reading now (as opposed to a completely different piece you may once have read six years ago) is about having pets, loving pets and losing pets, with a few detours along the way to incorporate things like the Rat Jesus, inter-species murder and mafia slayings. I lost four of my pets this year. Three rats and a dog. This is their tribute, delivered the only way I know how: not very well. 

Paddy’s Troubles

One of our first family pets was a budgie called Paddy; he lived during the height of The Troubles, and he was blue. I’d like to think that the act of naming him was some sort of artistic comment on the futility of Scottish sectarianism, but it’s possible that my mum was just racist, and had to fall back on her second choice of offensive racial nickname after Sambo was vetoed.

This isn't Paddy. But who gives a shit? They all look the same.

This isn’t Paddy. But who gives a shit? They all look the same.

Anyway, Paddy didn’t live long enough to have much of an impact on global race relations, as he was tragically murdered. Who’s your number one suspect? A cat, right? Tsk tsk. You bigoted cattist. And don’t even think about telling me that all of your best friends are cats. No, you feline fascist, the perp wasn’t a cat; although in your defence history does tell us that cats and small birds have been mortal enemies since time immemorial (Bros, Warner., 1963, Sylvester & Tweetie Pie). As far as rivalries go it’s a bit of a one-sided enmity (kind of like the rivalry between the sun and asteroids), and, yes, I’m willing to concede that the cat’s usually the aggressor. What I’m saying is, I can understand the root assumption from which your flagrant cattism sprouts. But you’re wrong, friend. Paddy didn’t meet his maker at the jaws and claws of a cunning cat: he died a statistical anomaly, having been snuffed out by an over-excited dog. What a twist.

The dog came bounding into our house with its visiting owner at the same time as Paddy was enjoying one of his brief periods of liberation, free from his cage and happily toddling and hopping about the living room floor. The spaz-tongued, slobbering beast pulled free from its owner’s grip, hurtled in to the living room, and gave our feathery little fella the gift of a massive and fatal heart-attack – as I suppose creatures fifty times the size of you are want to do. A little while later, after the requisite period of budgie mourning (two hours and eleven minutes) we got Paddy II. A little truer to expectations, Paddy II was skillfully – and lovingly – eviscerated by our first cat.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the family declined the option of a Paddy III. As my mother put it: “I’m not having a bloody horse coming in and trampling this one to death.” Also, my mother well knew that the final installment of any trilogy is usually the shittest. She’s right… isn’t she… Spider Man 3? Stop your smirking, Godfather 3, you’re next!

We're so weird as a species that we even keep pets inside giant pets.

We’re so weird as a species that we even keep pets inside giant pets.

I think it’s weird that we keep pets (especially fish. They’re excruciatingly boring. You might as well keep a brick as a pet). Sometimes I look down at my pet cat as it brushes against my leg and think, ‘How did this happen? This is surreal. Why is this four-legged creature living in my house?’ You could argue that keeping a pet is a ridiculous, pointless and incredibly wasteful act. Look after your own genes, or the genes of another of your species: don’t invest your time in the well-being of a creature that shits in a box and licks its own arsehole. Sure, you could argue that case. I’d counter that our ability to indulge in these seemingly pointless acts of nurturing might just be one of the more important stitches in the patchwork-quilt of our humanity.

Having a pet can teach you about compassion and selflessness. It can also, as I’ve glibly demonstrated, teach you about death. Perhaps, in a strange way, we’re nothing but masochists. Owning a pet is like saying: ‘I don’t believe that I’ve been subjected to quite enough in the way of human loss and agony. I’d quite like to experience grief and heartache through a variety of different species, please.’

In a world crammed with suffering, the greater share of which happens unseen or unimagined by mankind – i.e. the never-ending reclamation of flesh as carbon through tooth and claw – why do we desire to bring a proportion of that invisible suffering into sharp focus by ensnaring an animal, developing feelings for it and then observing it as it gradually dies before our very eyes? What a curious species we are. In this year alone, during which I’ve wept not a centiliter of ocular fluid for a single fallen human at home or abroad, I’ve cried genuine tears of grief over the bodies of three rats and a dog.

This piece you’re reading serves as both obituary and commemoration for four special creatures that were plucked from their ancestral destinies within the animal kingdom’s brutal pyramid, and placed – plump and cosseted – upon a man-made pedestal. And loved with a deepness not often seen between two different species outside of underground German movies from the early 1980s.

So RIP, you wonderful, fun-filled, furry little fuckers. I’ll always remember you. You may have spent most of your time eating, shitting, pissing and sleeping, but, collectively and individually, you still lived more worthwhile lives than the cast of Geordie Shore.

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Biggest TV Disappointments of 2013: The Following

following

Kevin Bacon should be commended for his savvy in snapping up the lead role in this bold, brutal, and exhilarating piece. Yes, the production values are high, the dialogue is crisp and knowing, and visually it’s slick and vibrant, but make no mistake: Bacon’s the real star here. Everything is lifted to another level by the power of his performance; every second he’s on screen reminds us why this talented actor deserves his place at the top of the A-list. In a word: unmissable. 

You’re confused, aren’t you? Here you are expecting me to be giving The Following a ruddy good thrashing – pants down, six of the best – and yet here I am lavishing praise on the bugger. Well, not exactly. In actual fact, the paragraph above has nothing whatsoever to do with The Following. I was applauding those EE ads Kevin Bacon stars in, which begin to look like a series of mini-Citizen Kanes when set against The Following.

bacon1Remember Kevin Bacon in Sleepers? Remember when he led those boys down to the basement? Well, watching The Following is like being one of those boys. You’ll say to yourself: ‘I don’t know where he’s taking me, or why, but I just know this is going to be an awesome experience! How could it not be? I mean, it’s Kevin Bacon! This is going to be brilliant, just brillia… uh… em… Kevin, what are you doing? WHAT… WHAT are you DOING… Kevin! Kevin?? … KEVI…OW!!… inOWWWWwwwwuuuu…uhm… erm… I think… I think KEVIN BACON just FUCKED me!’

The Following is a piece of dog-shit. It really is: a hot, slimy, sticky, dog-shit sandwich, where even the bread is made out of dog-shit. It’s not a BLT: it’s a BDS. Take a big bite and watch that dog-shit slush down your shirt-front. Rub it in. Take some and smear it in your eyes. Saw open your skull and lather it onto your lobes like it’s some sort of shitty sun-tan lotion. Get someone to flamethrow your head – really flambé that dog-shit. Melt it straight into your skull, scalp and throbbing mind-bollock. Is it excrutiating? Good. That just means it’s working. You’re not done yet, though. Next, let a dog – any dog – lick the disgusting, syrupy, melted, congealed faecal mush from your exposed and infected brain, and then wait for the greedy beast to vomit it all back into your mouth. Ah, drink it in. Gargle with it. Swish that sick-shit around in your gob like it’s Colgate mouth-wash. Mmmmm, feel the chunks in your cheeks. Let them marinate. Then French kiss the dog. Go on, kiss it. Do it! Let its big, slobbery, dog-dick-scented canine tongue investigate your inner-jaw. And why stop there? Fly the dog to Vegas and marry it. Cheat on it with a hooker who’s also a tiger, and then have sex with that slutty tiger – and the dog – live on webcam, and email the footage to your parents. And then – and ONLY then – shoot yourself through the throat. You’ll have a more entertaining evening, I guarantee you.

The Following: not even WHITE dogshit.

The Following: not even WHITE dogshit.

Still determined to enjoy The Following? Be warned: you’ll have to lower your expectations in order to extract even minimal enjoyment from this rancid semen-stain of a show. Did you deduce that? Have I been too subtle thus far? And, people, you won’t have to lower your expectations just a little. You’ll need to lower them so much that eventually your expectations will drop down through the earth’s molten core, pierce through the fabric of time, space and reality, and knock Dante clean into a coma.

In fairness… the first and last episodes aren’t entirely awful. It’s just the bit in the middle that’s agonisingly bad. And that’s over eight hours worth of dog-shit. This really should have been a movie, or at-least a three-part mini-series. Maybe they could have salvaged something. But it isn’t. And they didn’t. All that’s left is a squandered premise and wasted potential, and an idea stretched beyond breaking point.  And that makes me mad. And when I get mad… I do dog-shit analogies in which people fuck tigers. Ggggrrrrrreeeeeaaaaatttttt (‘Kellogg’s on line 1…’)!

What it’s about: The Back-story

Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy.

Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy.

Kevin Bacon plays former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, a retired, alcoholic cliché who has to hunt down escaped convict Joe Carroll, an allegedly charismatic serial killer – and former professor of literature – played by James Purefoy.

Hardy catches Carroll after the depraved don’s first round of brutal serial slayings, but takes a near-fatal knifing to the chest as he arrests him. Hardy’s injuries force him out of the FBI, and he hits the bottle big-time. I know what you’re thinking: a maverick lawman who turns to booze to fight the pain, and doesn’t know if he’s ‘still got it’? Yes. It’s a startlingly original conceit (actually, a lot of novel work can be done with stock characters and familiar scenarios, but in this case…). In a nutshell, life’s a bit shitty and bleak for Ryan, but he does get to pump Carroll’s hot but irritating ex-wife Claire, played by Natalie Zea, so there’s some degree of silver lining to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, he also falls in love with her, the silly boy, which complicates things somewhat.

James Purefoy as Joe Carroll.

James Purefoy as Joe Carroll.

Meanwhile, Joe Carroll, in prison for being a serial killer and all-round bad egg, is busy secretly assembling a cabal of murderous psychopaths, who’ll be on hand to help him escape, and carry out his evil masterplan. The plan, such as it is, involves Carroll winning back his wife and young son (Well, it’s more ‘kidnapping’ than ‘winning back’) and tormenting the living hell out of Ryan Hardy using the aforementioned newly acquired legion of head-cases. Oh, and murdering lots of innocent people as well, obviously. Be rude not to.

Fantastically – and I don’t use that word as a synonym for ‘brilliantly’ – Carroll manages to recruit the bulk of his mental, stabby cultists through the internet… which he has completely unfettered access to… while in prison. Yep. You read that right. He recruits hundreds of killers to his cause, on his computer, in prison, while in prison for murdering lots of women.

GUARD 1: ‘Hey, shall we check this brutal serial killer’s internet history, see who he’s been talking to?’

GUARD 2: ‘Why don’t we just monitor his every move, read all of his mail, lock his door at night, stop him from having blades, and pay close attention to the hundreds of psychotic strangers who visit him every week as well, you fucking Nazi?! Geez, let the guy relax and play some Candy Crush, Hitler!’

OK, he’s got one of the guards on side, but even still…

In addition, both Hardy and Carroll have written and published books: the former, a blow-by-blow account of his investigation into Carroll and the events leading up to his stabbing at the madman’s hands; the latter, a pretentious piece of shit novel that has savagely dark undertones. Ryan Hardy is in fact the subject of Joe Carroll’s difficult second novel, which we discover Joe is writing as a companion to and an account of the horrible shit he does to his nemesis over the course of the show’s first season.

Anyway,  The Following begins nine years after Carroll’s incarceration, at the very moment he escapes from prison.

Why it sucks so hard

1.) Joe Carroll is a Poe-ring Bastard

tf6

“Hmmm, I wonder what method I’ll use to kill my agent.”

Joe Carroll has a thing for Edgar Allen Poe. He’s obsessed by the man and his works, and aspires to write fiction of a similar quality; unfortunately, he’s a two-bit, psycho hack, who couldn’t write for RiverCity. He is quite good at killing, though, and with this in mind he resolves to build his cult and its murders around the theme of Edgar Allen Poe. Some of his bampots even wear rubber Poe masks when they’re out on a kill. Now that’s devotion fur ye.

The whole Poe thing’s a nice conceit, but one that gets old far too quickly, and becomes dull even more quickly than that. Luckily, the writers seem to agree, and the idea sort of fizzles out for a while after the first few episodes. You’ll be glad. There’s only so much tenuous, Poe-related cod philosophy you can listen to before you begin to wonder if Drop Dead Diva might’ve been a better choice of box-set.

tf8

Couples’ counselling.

We’re supposed to believe that Joe Carroll is the most charismatic man on earth. But he isn’t. He’s smug. And arrogant. And a little bit creepy. His only discernible talent seems to be that he’s a half-decent English teacher. Nothing in the acting or dialogue convinced me that this man could’ve enticed or bewitched a rag-tag assortment of insanely-loyal psychopaths to do his evil bidding. Get them a passing grade on an Edgar Allen Poe test paper? Maybe. But this? Midway through the series, one of his insanely devoted cultists offers himself to Carroll as a human sacrifice, ultimately because he thinks Carroll will have a right laugh stabbing him to death. He’s right! I did, too. I think I was supposed to be shocked, though.

So how does Joe Carroll’s ‘charisma’ work? How does he recruit his army and manage to provoke such slavish, unquestioning devotion in his would-be recruits? Beats me. On the surface of it, he just sort of stares at them intensely and then talks to them in a honeyed, husky whisper for a couple of minutes:

‘So you’re a fan of murdering, and you butchered your own mum? Ach, don’t worry about it, murdering’s cool. Extra points for a family member! Anyway, you’re awesome, and I’m definitely awesome, so how about joining my cult? We’ve got prose and everything, and sometimes we get to talk like we’re in a high-school production of Shakespeare.’

2.) Soap Cra-pera

Awful. I don't even care what their names are.

Awful. I don’t even care what their names are.

Too much of the action focuses on a trio – two guys, one girl – of young, trendy, be-quiffed and coiffured cockbags. After many years spent as dormant ‘sleeper-cultists’ living undercover as Claire Carroll’s neighbours and babysitter, their mission is activated: kidnap Carroll’s kid, and get him to Serial Killer HQ in time for big Joe’s arrival. These three characters are essentially 2-dimensional, knife-wielding haircuts, who seem to exist only to look pretty and spout pseudo-philosophical bullshit about how awesome it is to butcher people. And to shag each other, obviously.

The three losers eventually form a steamy, bisexual love triangle, which proves to be about as entertaining as having experimental groin surgery performed upon you by an angry monkey in the grip of meth withdrawal, and less convincing than Katie Hopkins’ impersonation of a human being. Whenever these three are on screen together The Following becomes like an episode of Hollyoaks Later with slightly shitter dialogue.

3.) Police

"God DAMN it! I can't get past level 358!"

“God DAMN it! I can’t get past level 358!”

OK, I know the stakes are supposed to be high in a policey/slashy/killy show. High stakes that gradually become higher still serve to ramp up the tension; create conflict and suspense; and drive the narrative in an exciting direction that makes the audience want to keep watching. I get that. And if the police were absolutely brilliant at their jobs, then the show would be over in less than an episode:

‘Ha ha ha ha, you’ll never foil my fiendish plans, never, never, NEVERMORE I say, NEVE… {click} Shit.’

Granted, the baddies’ plan is suitably fiendish. There’s an army of sleeper serial-killer cultists out there, drawn from all walks of life, and across the divides of age, race and gender. At the beginning, the good guys have no idea that the cult even exists, and even when they realise what they’re dealing with, they still have no idea how many members it has, or who they might be. They could be anyone: a cop, a prison guard, an FBI agent!

I get all that. But if the police are consistently shown to be about as effective as the Chuckle Brothers armed only with a bag of dead chickens, as they are in The Following, then it quickly destroys your willingness to suspend disbelief. Honestly, the cops don’t win at anything. Not once. Every strategy they adopt fails, everything they say is bull-shit, and everything they do is ball-achingly stupid: ridiculously, incompetently, fatally stupid.

tf10In real life, I’ve seen more and better trained police officers sent to deal with a noise disturbance in my street than The Following’s fictional FBI ever deigned to send in pursuit of a serial killing cult. No-one ever takes back-up with them, and when they do call for back-up, it’s always at-least forty miles away. Jack Bauer would never have found himself in such a sorry situation: no matter where he or his agents were in the world, it only ever took them ten minutes tops to get where they needed to be. Actually, bad comparison, because Jack Bauer never needed back-up at all; a fucking sharp pencil would be good enough back-up for him (I suppose 24 suffered from the opposite problem to The Following: Jack Bauer was too good at his job).

Really, though, it’s as if the police and the FBI have recruited all of their officers from the same pool of people who always die horribly within the first six minutes of a horror film. Considering there’s a cult out there whose members could be anywhere and anyone – essentially making every stranger a suspect – the police seem keen to adopt the curious tactic of suspecting no-one at all. Douchebags.

4.) Ryan Hard-ly

hardyKevin Bacon is a really great actor: Ryan Hardy is a really shit character. He just mopes, broods, and frets his way through the dark, grey, oppressive atmosphere of The Following’s suicidally un-cheerful fictional world. It’s not Bacon’s fault, I suppose. All he did was sign the contract. I hope the cash was worth it, because Ryan Hardy’s merely a poor man’s Jack Bauer. Imagine Jack Bauer with a pacemaker and a drinking problem, and then stop to realise that even with a pacemaker and a drinking problem Jack Bauer would be a hundred times more fun, likeable and interesting than Ryan Hardy – and Bauer kills and tortures people in almost every episode! Come to think of it, although the premises and subject matters are radically different, it feels to me like The Following wants to be a slasher-psych-thriller version of 24 (but without the real-time element, obviously), and fails miserably on all counts. Can you still taste that dog-shit?

And this is before we even delve into Hardy’s reputed ‘death curse’. God, the dialogue is execrable on this show. There’s a scene that shows Hardy in bed delivering a woeful chunk of expository dialogue, in which he reveals that almost every single person in his life has died or been horrifically murdered, a preposterous roll-call of hilarious deaths. It’s supposed to make us sympathise and connect with the character, I suppose, but it only served to make me roll my eyes and snort out a derisory laugh.

‘…and then all I had left was my turtle, Mr Jenkins, but somebody put a pipe-bomb inside him and threw him in my girlfriend’s face…’

The Best Worst Moment

One of Carroll’s acolytes is captured by the FBI. He’s injured, so they sling him in a hospital room, and place him under armed guard. As he lies there awaiting interrogation, the loyal idiot realises that he would rather die than betray his master. He proceeds to kill himself by eating his own bandages, suffocating himself to death with them. I’m guessing the intention was to chill and shock the audience by showing them just how deep and twisted a loyalty Carroll inspires in his sick-ass tribe of psychopaths, but it didn’t have that effect on me. I thought it was funny as fuck.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this scene from The Simpsons:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJEtonrIKP8

The Verdict

Do I really need to sum up this article for you? I don’t think there are any lines to read between here. The Following is shit. But it’s good shit, if you get enjoyment from deliberately watching shit things and then tearing them apart, like I know I do.

So, remarkably, I guess it’s good.

Now THAT’S a twist.

And, in closing…

zea