Tuesday, 29 January 2013

From the Archives of Glossop Museum of Pictures an' That

For anyone who hasn't met her, here's a Sheela-na-Gig.  This one is resplendent on the corbel table of Kilpeck Church, Herefordshire, where she has cheered up visitors for centuries.
Her precise meaning isn't certain, academics being too shy to say "Up my wigwam, big boy!" They mention that 'they are often positioned over doors or windows, presumably to protect these openings,' (Bumsquash and Rattlesnake, 1904), when Sheela's probably only there to cheer on any locals trying to have a tuppenny upright.  Against the church door.

It's nice to know that the church once favoured causes like this. Modern churches, of course, don't usually have them; but Sheela still finds expression in the Australian colloquialism 'Sheila' which refers to any female woman of the opposite sex - and provides a fascinating insight into the psyche of the Australian male.

The Sheela-na-Gig,  in Sligo Town, has also become just another name for another Irish pub, again reflecting the aspirations and expectations of the drinking Irishman.  Or, indeed, the Irish drinking man. (Potterton & Wyndebagge, 1932).

Sadly, all this refreshing realism was swept away under the metaphorical carpet during the Victorian era. The Obscene Publications Act 1857 banned works 'written for the single purpose of corrupting the morals of youth and of a nature calculated to shock the common feelings of decency in any well-regulated mind', but an amendment to this Act made by Lord Chief Justice in 1868 included anything that could corrupt, whether this was intended or not.  It led to the banning of medical textbooks, bird-spotters' handbooks and the sale of chicken portions.

However, it is questionable whether the Lord Chief Justice really had a 'well-regulated mind'.  His name was Cockburn.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Ike unfriended Wyatt

Best Western

At a time when Ant and Dec have just been voted Best Presenters, its time to face up to the generation gap once and for all. Ant and Dec? Harmless enough, I suppose, but oh so BLAND. Role models? Examples to the young? Rubbish. What the young need today, apart from a clip around the ear and all their electronic gew-gaws burning are proper heroes, and not suited Geordies who call women “guys”.

I count myself lucky. I DID have real heroes up there on the silver screen who didn’t ponce about in a Bieberish fashion on t’ telly singing about lerve. Oh no. Besides, at the time, music-wise, all we had was Dickie Valentine. Dickie! Valentine! No, my heroes rushed about the place at a flat gallop most of the time in a land called “The West”. When not hurtling around on horseback, they faced down utter rotters in black hats, outwitted whole tribes of Indians and when push came to shove, shot the guns out of *black hatters’ hands.

From the hip. 

Not that romance didn’t rear its sloppy head from time to time. My heroes rescued helpless ladies with strangely pointed chests from the black hatters and evil savages who didn’t appreciate railway locomotives and had names like “Rutting Elk” or “He-Who-Smash-Yer-Face-In”. Said ladies were terribly grateful, but my heroes, despite having an eye for a decent pointy chest, invariably rode off into the sunset just before the credits.

And what credits! Randolph Scott, Glenn Ford, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart….But as the Western developed, so did the plots and direction, which is where I started to lose interest. Actually, my hero worship took its first knock quite early in the person of one Audie Murphy who was a little tiny war hero who may well have killed loads of folk with his real gun, but I could never imagine him getting the drop on any full-sized black hatter with a phoney one. (Murphy was even smaller than Alan Ladd who, when on location, slept in a shoe box).

But I knew it was make-belief and after Randolph Scott rode into town for the last time, I was sustained by the towering right–wing presence of John Wayne who outlasted most in doing what a man had to do.

The change really happened when Clint Eastwood did his Man With No Name thing. Here was a hero who was just as sneaky as the black hatters. Then there were the special effects departments (egged on by directors like Sam Pekinpah) which were capable of reproducing the effects a .44 slug has on soft tissue. As often as possible.

So it all got too real. The Old West was shown up for what it really was – a brief, brutal episode populated by pockmarked knock- kneed, cross-eyed thugs, not unlike many night time town centres today.

Still, I miss the unreality, preferably in b+w, of scenes like the one from “Reckoning at Rimrock” wherein Randolph [RANDOLPH!] Scott is being tended by the local black hatter’s daughter all tricked up and pointy, him having been shot in the shoulder. “How bad is it?” asks pointy lady. “Aw, nothin’ a purdy face caint cure” grits Randy, smiling heroically. 
*It should be noted that whilst Wyatt Earp, a goody, wore all black, including his hat, this was a fashion choice and not an indication of moral proclivity. 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Viking Gloom

Along with millions of others, I was well and truly sucked into the vacuum of depression which was The Killing. Normally, I'm a butterfly viewer. I never know what's due on, but somehow, this gloomy, subtitled, humourless detective story set in a city where its always dark, usually raining and run by corrupt politicians who'd make our expenses cheats look like sweeties really got to me. All the main characters had gloomy baggage, unfulfilled dreams, and Copenhagen seemed bursting of bent types intent on doing people in. In the dark. In the rain. In ski masks. The Killing made UK crime dramas look like Carry On films.

I'd been aware of the long standing Wallander series but hadn't ever seen any. So the impact of The Killing was really unexpected. Its led to me doing what I'm beginning to think is a Bad Thing. No, nothing remotely illegal honest. Nothing questionable in the freezer. But I've started reading Scandinavian thrillers. It began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Very dark. But that was only at the top of the cellar steps. Since then I've trudged through several. And they do trudge, these 'tecs in a cold climate. They have diabetes, no friends, and alcoholism. And they keep coming, these names with little dots over the Os... Bib Bobsson, Stog Stigursson, Nobbi Bume... made those up.... Trouble is, they are SO well-written, even after translation. SO much better than the usual suspects like the very dreadful James Patterson who has sold 103 trillion books in Glossop alone. But tonight it stops. One last hot bath session (all my books are waffle-shaped) when I'll find out who's been knocking off myopic elk-herders, then that's it. 

The end. 

What then? Well somebody bought me book-form Les Miserables. That'll do nicely for a bit of light relief.

Friday, 25 January 2013

British Exiles at Large

Well, here we go! In these chilly times, how many of us have not longed for warmer climes?  The Pangolin investigates. No paid-for travel gurus here folks. Oh dear me no! Just the frank opinions of ordinary working or not people about extraordinary places. Dave’s Big Society let loose around the world.

First off, but not necessarily in that order is FRANCE, profiled here by Gary Purseglove, 17. A student at the Jet Harris Academy, Walthamstow, Gary is specializing in House Raves 1985-97 and lists his hobbies as hangin’ and that innit.

“I bin to France it was a school trip it was cool like on a ferry thing. The French wot we saw were cool an talked real cool like on telly Mr Finch took us to art gallrys and that I got Matisse on my iPhone and Gaz Pinnock got off his face. He was sick on the ferry and got suspended.”

Thanks, Gary.

SPAIN has long been a second home to thousands of Brits looking for that sun –soaked lifestyle. Says Mrs Pauline Glint, one time resident of Glossop, Derbyshire... "Graham and I had been regulars at the Sol at Feungirola for years. We loved the homey atmosphere and English food and all the other English folk there although there was one Welsh couple who got up our noses but then they weren’t English were they? Anyway,when Graham retired from Grommets UK, we decided to sell up and move out here. There was nothing to keep us in the UK when our Amanda was off our hands and Laddie had passed over so we signed up for a one bed Maisonette with communal pool every other Wednesday and window box. That was ages ago and its still not finished. We get the bus down to see it sometimes – its behind the brewery that’s just been built and Pepe who’s in charge says it’ll just be a bit more manana then we can move in.

It’s a bit frustrating, but we’re cosy enough in the tent and still pop into the Sol for the bingo on Tuesdays.”

On This Day

Six Years Ago

Two members of Rolling Stones Tribute Band Strolling Cojones were released by Sussex Police with a caution, having been found in possession of suspicious substances that could be passed off as counterfeit drugs. Items confiscated included 3 small sealed paper wraps marked Travelodge, containing white crystalline matter identified in laboratory analysis as sugar. Also removed was one Mars bar long past its Use By date.

Eight Years Ago

Signs of economic downturn brought the threat of fresh redundancies to workers in the East Midlands employed in the bicycle wheel components industry. Unions representing all links in the supply chain voiced solidarity in the fight to save jobs. Members of the Guild of Brakefitters called for an immediate halt on plans for cutback, while colleagues from the Handlebarmakers’ Union said the industry was being steered in the wrong direction. Spokespersons for the Alliance of Rimforgers and Hubwelders stated that they were diametrically opposed to what was happening around them, adding, ’we’re all in this together.’

Fourteen Years Ago

A small but loyal band of members gathered for the Annual General Meeting of Wolverhampton Whalewatch to review sightings and reports for the previous year. There were no sightings in the previous year.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Wedding Planners

'Hold everything!  This new app's suggesting that you might not be suitable.'
Try as I might, I just can’t get all het up about the gay marriage controversy presently engaging all hands from everybody’s chum, D Cameron, the Arch of Cant, and the two ladies in front of me in the Post Office today who, unlike Dave, agreed that “Well, its not natural is it?”

Personally, I couldn’t give a flying bouquet. People do what they will do.

Then there was a programme on R4 all about “wedding planners”.

Funeral planners I’m ok with. First off, the subject can’t do it for themselves, and hopefully their friends and relatives are too cut up to be able to face lots of digging or pyre lighting. So they pay some experts to do it.

But WEDDING planners? One of the contributors to the R4 prog was an American lady who went on and on about “getting it right”. True, she was enthusing about the increasing demands to plan gay marriages which must have their own peculiar wrinkles, like how best to silence Aunt Betsy who thinks its not natural, but her drift was really about all and any marriage.

I just wondered how it worked. "Here’s £50000. Make it so. By the way, the bridegroom has ginger hair and Tourette’s".

I’ve only ever been to one Big Wedding. What are they about? Making a statement? Marquees, duckboards, goody bags, band, millions of guests, free bar. Honeymoon in the Maldives. I wonder now if all that razzle-dazzle was the work an expensive “wedding planner”. I know who paid for it – her Dad - who was and still is, loaded, but at the time of writing, further details are unavailable due to the happy couple separating last October. She ran off with a software designer from Stevenage. (Why do they always “run” off ?) So much for the statement.

But its not just the rich who do this. Lots of couples who by dint of the fact that they’re skint can’t employ a wedding planner, but still go large on the nuptuals. They do it themselves. From hiring traditional garb from Moss Bross or Pronuptua to laying on cars to take all hands to church, hotel, registry office or stone circle. Then the bride and groom take off (from Manchester) for a similarly frugal honeymoon. In the Maldives.

OK, OK, I’m being a spoilsport. What’s wrong with a big splurge, DIY or otherwise? Besides, you only do it once, right? Well, do you? I have an acquaintance who’s been married four times. FOUR! And each time, the wedding was of the Big variety. My belief was beggared, I can tell you. The last three weddings featured the SAME band, for goodness sake.

Me? Well if I ever tied the knot again – not that too many people in old folks’ homes do that – it’d be “Abide With Me” in the church, posh sandwiches from Waitrose in the front room, then a couple of nights in the local Travelodge for a bit of a lie down.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dear Mr Pangolin,

My husband and I are both very keen on dung beetles. Sadly, we both suffer from obsessive cleanliness  and so are unable to keep these fascinating creatures. I wonder, therefore, if your resident experts might have a solution which does not involve animal droppings.

Yours truly,

Elthpeth Lithp [Mrs]

P.S. Do dung beetles pooh?

Monday, 21 January 2013

"Oh, stop moaning.  I warned you when we first met that I came with baggage!"

Cameron and Clegg to stop Bathing!

Today, Parliament was taken by surprise when Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Chancellor George Osborne are soon to spend a week living in a local authority hostel and attempting to survive on the Job Seekers Allowance. 

Said Mr Cameron, “Look- let me make this perfectly clear – Nick, George and myself are acutely aware of the fact that none of us has ever wanted for anything, never had a proper job prior to politics, and are filthy rich to boot. Its obvious that this creates a huge gulf between us, the country’s ordained leaders and the great unwashed, some of whom, advisers tell me, are unemployed and are not even members of clubs. Clearly, this is an intolerable situation. I hope that our noble, and might I say courageous gesture will prove once and for all that we really are all in this together.”

As Mr Cameron sat down, the chamber erupted. The Speaker broke his gavel and several Masters at Arms were summoned. One member of the front bench, Mr Eric Pickles, collapsed and was removed by paramedics whilst muttering “Horseburgers! They’ll have to eat horseburgers!”

Sunday, 20 January 2013

"I can't shake off this feeling we're being watched"

Stupid Box 2

Some terminology is stupid. Often, it means the exact opposite of what it actually does. Like “easy opening”, or, “re-sealable”. Standing tall in this maze of misinformation is “customer service”.

Bear with me, please, because we’re back in Tesco. I’m a smoker. (Collapse of self-righteous party.)
However, in their wisdom, executive Tescoteers lump smokers, lottery ticket buyers and people returning unsatisfactory loo brushes all together. Same queue. Two ladies behind the counter. There is ALWAYS a queue. Now, my request and its fulfillment are simple. Ask for fags, give money, get fags, leave. I have never ever been first in that queue. It is written on the Doorways of Destiny that whoever is in front of me NEVER has a simple request. Many lotteryites are alarmingly elderly and present last week’s failed ticket stubs. The counter lady points this out. Much fumbling ensues. Correct tickets appear. They – quite a few because the bearer’s doing several equally doddery neighbours a favour – fail as well. Then there’s a wistful, “Ah well, never mind, eh?” and you think YES! one down, seven to go. But not so. Ticket fumbler says, “Oh, while I’m here…” and proceeds to buy enough scratchcards to boggle a whole headful of lice.

Why do these obviously not rolling in it oldies do it? Something to leave the grandkids? Dunno.

And what of the careful shopper who has inadvertently bought a tin of baked beans with a dent in it and would like an undented one. The customer service staffing is immediately reduced by 50% as Janice is dispatched to secure a pristine product. In my local store, baked beans and the like are located a half–day’s march (just past the Pot Noodles, luvvie) away and Janice – big girl, heart of gold, is no track and field star.

Reason enough to give up smoking you may say. But no, because the other day I bought a squeegee mop thing. Used it once. This morning the rubber bit fell off AND all the plastic knobbles which hold it on. So tomorrow, I shall queue-shuffle until its my turn then take great pleasure in saying 40 Marlboro Red, please, pay for them, then just as the person behind me thinks YES !, I shall say, “Whilst I’m here…” And brandish my wonky squeegee. So to speak.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Pangolin Country Walks

With the ridiculous price of fuel forcing us to leave our shiny motors at home and public transport awash with Mr Cameron’s dreadful commoners, The Pangolin’s Rural correspondent, Diana Totter, poet and muse takes us on the first of a series of carefree strolls through our oft overlooked backwoods.

No 1. Glossop to Glossop via Strainer’s End and Big Nob. 6.2 miles. Going, easy, but with smelly bit near Stackdung Farm.

Leave Glossop on the A319. After four yards, turn left at the Haiwai Five O Tanning Centre into Poke Lane where little has changed since the fire of 2009. After 300yds look for a stile on the left whilst avoiding eye-contact with a big lurcher outside Scrap-R–Us. It is not dead. Mount stile. Note excellent view of back garden of No 47 Poke Lane. In good weather, resident Mrs Marion Feelie usually gets her kit off and doesn’t mind gawkers.

The hedgerow path rises gently through Stackdung Farm where you’ll often get a cheery “Sod off !” from Wilf Cramp who took over Stackdung way back in 2002, specializing in particularly pungent manure which he markets to other local farmers as a rambler deterrent.

Stackdung lane then takes you directly to the by-pass hard shoulder. Turn left again and its an easy five mile amble along the by-pass with its interesting selection of cars, vans, lorries and tankers, all going like the clappers because Glossop Council ditched its radar cameras months ago, to our starting point, the late Victorian but now sadly closed public conveniencies in the town centre. Look out in the last few hundred yards for Big Nob, bouncer at the Sultry Kow nightclub, who will be taking a late afternoon constitutional on his way to meet friends at The Pangolins Head public house. This popular watering hole stands less than 15 miles from another licenced premises, The Gummer’s Arms, built in 1843 to help slake the thirsts of local envelope sealers. 

But as this is nowhere near Glossop, further details are irrelevant.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Will Lottery Ticket Evasion cost the Exchequer Millions?

The Pangolin can now reveal that Blagalot, the company that manages the weekly Lottery, has doubled its ticket price from one to two silver pennies.  This is putting a great deal of pressure on working-class households, especially those thick enough not to realise that they can secretly NOT BUY Lottery tickets - and get away with it!

Yep - you read it right!  The Lottery isn't like HMRC, who can take your money away from you before it even called you 'mother', or pursue you across seven seas using supernatural means and sniffer dogs, if necessary, to reclaim its revenue.  

The Lottery hasn't yet got the resources to police their money collection, so we all need to get away with it while we still can.  

J P Bumblethwaite (not his real name) of Flimwell smugly agrees: "Why, I've spent absolutely zilch on Lottery tickets for the last five years, and I've won just as much money as them next door and their annual Lottery bill's going up to 234 silver pennies.  Mind you, I do like people to think I'm doing my bit, so I sometimes lurk near the Lottery counter in Morrison's and look menacing."

The Office for National Statistics said inflation figures would not be affected by the move, as Lotto spending is not included in the basket of goods it uses to calculate the rate.  No, they'll be using falling revenues from betting on horses, dogs, pigs and pangolins to do that.
“There’s Gordon Hardcastle. I was at school with him. Hasn’t changed a bit.”

Ask Lady Violet

Dear Lady Vi,

Recently, my sweet ten year old niece made THE most awful gaffe during her first hunt. As custom dictates, The Master went to blood my niece with the expired fox’s tail and Jocasta, for that is her name, in a moment of confusion, ate it. Since then we have been shunned by all and sundry. What can I do?

Yours in desperation,

The Right Honourable Alice Fairchild-Twait

Lady V: My dear Alice,

My heart goes out to both you and Jocasta in your plight. Thank you very much for enclosing the photographic likeness of Jocasta - which instantly gave a clue as to how best to deal with this negative situation. I note that it is a proper photograph and not one of those ghastly images conveyed by those so called ‘mobile phones’.Simply remove the fox’s tail so that the end of it is no longer dangling out of her mouth. Better still, instruct one of the servants to do this. Tell them to be sure to wipe around her mouth to remove any telltale traces of its existence - dried blood, faeces, the odd scrap of fur etc - and your ‘shunning’ friends will forget the unfortunate incident ever happened.

In all likelihood they will be too busy worrying that their teenage progeny are contemplating acts of violence against the establishment. Like getting a tattoo, for example.

Dear Lady Vi,

I have a pet horsefly called Ken. I have had him for ages at least three weeks but for the last two days he just lies on his back in his box and doesn’t move. I go to First Aid classes at Cubs and I tried the Heimlich (sic) manouvre on Ken. There was a sort of crackling noise but he still didn’t move. Mummy says he’s dead and why don’t I get a slug or something instead.

Yours fathfuly

Gavin John Punt (9)

Lady V: Dear Gavin,

I expect your Mummy calls you ‘Gav’, doesn’t she?I expect you eat at McDonalds and if you actually manage to get five French Fries - after your Mummy’s been at them - she probably thinks you’ve had your ‘five-a-day’, doesn’t she?

The only solution, dear child, is to put yourself up for adoption at the first available opportunity. Explain that your Mummy is in the habit of putting dead flies in your bedroom and that you wish to avail yourself of a family with decent moral values.

Dear Lady Violet,

I have found to my dismay that my wellington boots are infested with poultry. If that weren’t bad enough, not a minute goes by without me thinking about this obsessively, including when lovemaking. What should I do?

Trumpington Thundering-Bore, OBE

Lady V: Dear Trumpy,

Wellington boots are to be avoided. They mark you out as an arriviste, and are worn mainly by the newly rich criminal fraternity. If, however, you find that having your feet and lower limbs encased in rubber helps in the rumpty-tumpty department, poultry infestation can be avoided by popping a fox turd into each boot prior to sexual engagement.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Pangolin Stupid Box - No.1

According to some folk who know about these things, a ticket to watch a Chelsea away game costs £70. That’s SEVENTY! pounds. And such is the tribal nature of the true supporter, the club has no problem selling them. Given the obscene level of footballers salaries, I suppose clubs must do this to make ends meet.

But here in the Pangolin office this morning, as staff were huddled around the warm telly, we heard something which made Chelsea sound positively cheap.

It's to do with golf. For the uninitiated out there, golf is a sport involving a little hard ball, small holes, a playing area the size of Montenegro, metal sticks and a human. The little hard ball gets whacked by the human using a metal stick so as to get it into one of the little holes. Least whacks wins. The little hard ball has to go into one of the little holes in order – one to eighteen – so whackists must walk miles between holes. Or drive in little buggies. Very few run.

Sound like fun? Well it is for one golfist – a very pleasant-looking self-effacing Irish chappie called Mc Illroy who is a successful professional whackist and announced today that he was changing his sticks from whatever he used to use to some made by Nike. Here comes the jaw–dropper. Mr McIllroy’s deal with said company is worth £44, 000 (forty-four thousand) PER DAY! Come on! That’s way beyond obscene. 

It merits its very own Stupid Box.

Fugitive Pangolin now Back Home Again!

The more perceptive among you will have noticed that no new posts have appeared on The Pangolin since, er, the last one.

This is due to the fact that Murgatroyd - founder and mascot of this online organ - had gone missing!  The place was searched, pockets turned out, the sofa was dismantled and mostly put back together again, but the eponymous Pangolin was nowhere to be seen!

He's just turned up.  Apparently the office next door had a rather fine termite infestation;  it hasn't any more, and Murg's 10lb heavier.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Non PC

I don’t know much about computers but I know what I hate. I also know that because they’re based on logic and I’m not, they’re right and I’m probably wrong. Take passwords for instance. Maybe there’ll come a day when your pc will know its you because it smells you as you approach the keyboard – “Aye-aye, it’s the fat geezer again. He’s just had a beef Madras”.

But until then we’re stuck with passwords. Security. Firewalls. And there are sad and deeply irritating little tics out there who get off on wrecking folks’ pcs. Why? Because they can. They don’t have a political agenda. They’re not on a mission to reveal government corruption. They don’t hack or infect to feed their newspaper employers. They do it so that they have power. Like burglars. Sneaky little cowards. I bet they’re all spotty and have bad breath. I’m tempted to suggest that three minutes in a locked room with Fat Geezer would change their ways. But that would be non–pc. And unlike burglars, they don’t do it for monetary gain. They just break in and wreck stuff.

So passwords are a given. But if you’ve got a different password for the whole mind–boggling range of things your pc can do, how do you remember them all? Scribble them on bits of paper, so that when the burglar breaks in he/she can access your pc as well? Spend disciplined hours committing them to memory? Or do you stick two devil-may-care fingers up to things digital and have the same password for everything?

It’s a damned good job cars don’t operate on the same system. We’d never go anywhere. Password for starting. Password for steering, brakes, lights seat adjustment… good old cars only have one. And even when they go wrong, we can have them towed off to a car–fettler who makes them well again. Not so with computers. Computers are upper case D.I.Y. When your pc decides that it's never heard of you or your password or your mother’s maiden name, its off to India to talk to an invariably polite and infinitely capable person who takes over your screen and eventually renders you whole again. I say “eventually” because before that, you must run the B.T. phone menu gauntlet which invariably begins: “We’re VERY busy today….”

Mild weather has led to an Increase in Garden Pests

The other day I was walking down my front garden path, when a man said to me 'Nice tits!' and I said 'They are rather, aren't they? Would you like to come in and have a closer look?'

He readily agreed, and I took him out to my back garden, where there were plenty of exemplars of the genus Paridae. I pointed out cyanistes caeruleus, periparus ater and parus major. I pointed out that I had known cyanistes caeruleus to be described as 'featherus nibblius cheekii', but that this was probably something in the nature of a jape.

Then, right on cue, entered a small flock of aegithos caudatus and I explained that these do not belong to the genus Paridae at all, but to Aegithalidae, which are African birds more commonly known as 'babblers'.

To my surprise and horror, he said 'They aren't the only ones!' and attempted to grope me in the chest region. So I hit him over the head with a bird table, he jumped over the garden fence and I haven't seen him since. Of course, this disturbed all the feeding birds and it took a good half hour before normality was resumed.

This would not have happened if we'd had proper winter snow, in my opinion.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

On This Day...

Eighteen Years Ago

Search and Rescue teams brought in from a wide area were out all night, backed up by two coastguard helicopters from nearby Portland, when the small Dorset village of Affpuddle Fitzpaine was reported as missing, last seen the previous Thursday.

Ten Years Ago

Ambulances were called to the Parish Hall, Cleckersdyke, when three of the seven members in attendance at a meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee were found to have passed out from boredom. While paramedics saw to the casualties, plucky Councillor Ernest Bawdon battled on with the delivery of his 38-page interim report, adding an apology at the end for anything he might have missed out in the unforeseen circumstances.

Seventeen and a Half Years Ago

At a preliminary hearing before Swindon Magistrates’ Court, former contortionist Horace Furbidge pleaded guilty to two charges relating to an incident with a traffic bollard. He asked for a further 837 bollard incidents of a similar nature to be taken into consideration at the same time, before sentence was passed on the case.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Strictly Come Dancing

As soon as TV programmes are referred to in abbreviated terms such as “Corrie” (Coronation Street) or “Strictly”, you KNOW they’re massively popular and utterly tedious. What’s this? First an unwarranted attack on cookery programmes and now The Pangolin has the brass neck to take a swipe at the Queen Mother of TV entertainment, Strictly Come Dancing?!?

But let’s face it, its always been deeply irritating, even years ago when wannabe amateurs strutted their stuff like metronomic chickens and sewed on all their own sequins (not at the same time, it should be noted). There’s just something vaguely ridiculous about ballroom dancing. Its even sillier than Morris Dancing. But at least Morris Dancing retains some semblance of its roots.

Not so with ballroom dancing. Oh dear me, no. Now, the whole thing’s been showbiz supercharged. Professional dancers pair celebrity amateurs who, after intensive training become professional – except of course the odd fattie or ex MP, who are thrown in for comic relief. Gone are the coy interviews of yesteryear.... 

"And here we are with Ron and Yvonne Hubbard, south–east area champions. I understand that tonight you’re going to be demonstrating the foxtrot?” 
Ron (for it is he): “Yes, that’s correct” 
“And Yvonne, I’m told that you personally sewed the 13,567 sequins on to your dress yourself?” Yvonne, “Yes, that’s correct.”

Nowadays we are treated to lengthy trailers of each pair training with respective celebrities telling us how the competition has changed their lives (and might just move them from C list to B and they won’t have to eat caterpillars in some sweaty jungle). SCD judges are suddenly catapulted to national treasure status – one nice gay bloke, one grumpy gay bloke, somebody called Len who’s seen a few sequins in his day, and, presently, a retired ballet dancer. And the boss presenter, THE national treasure Sir Bruce Forsyth (109) never misses an autocue. He’s propped up by a leggy, enthusiastic girl charged with keeping the tension top-notch. The wild card in all of this is the public. It gets to vote. Never a good idea. Sometimes the public vote for the least terpsichorially capable celebrity, an individual with all the dancing ability of Robocop. Your correspondent is unclear as to exactly how the organisers fiddle the voting so as to prevent blobbies winning. But they never do, more’s the pity.

Anyway, the nation will be relieved to know that apparently, most people love SCD, and its only horrid curmudgeons like Pangolin staffers who think its naff. And by golly we do, don’t we? 

Yes, that’s correct.

"Trevor's not a fan, then?"

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Pangolin Science: The Effects of Music on Plant Growth

They're a funny breed, scientists, what with their grubby white coats with biros leaking into the top pocket, bald heads and nhs spectacles - that and the way they used to attach polygraphs to plants.  They've been telling us for a long time that music has a beneficial effect on plant growth, so we conducted a survey to see what our Pangolin readers had to say.

Tobias Pumblechook of Stechford isn't so sure.

"Someone told me that playing music to plants makes them grow better, but it's a load of poppycock.  I've tried talking to plants and got only abuse in return, too.  Why, I was making encouraging whoops and shrieks to my vegetable patch, and even playing it highlights from the William Tell Overture - when my neighbours called the police.  The psychiatrist they called out told me to stop being a stupid pillock, and then made me walk home.  I thought I might do better with indoor plants, but I'm damned if I can get my herbaceous border into the living room.  Once again, the so-called experts get it wrong!"

Delphinia Spragg from Pratt's Bottom couldn't disagree more.

"Not only can music make plants grow better, but I'm convinced that music can turn people into plants. My seventeen-year-old son, Crucifer, listens to some right crap through his headphones during both of his waking hours - and he looks more and more like a cabbage every day!"

Monday, 7 January 2013

Pangolin Top Tip: Good News for the Orthodontically Challenged!

Guys and Dolls!  Has your orthodontist informed you that you need dental braces on your teeth?

...and are you heartbroken because the only ones you can afford look like this?

So you have the indignity of looking like a geek, on top of all the discomfort of having a length of fusewire and radio components shackled to your
dental appendages.

And do you look at your classmates in envy? 

The ones whose parents are tax-avoiding scallywags with private health insurance, and add insult to injury with their cool, trendy dental appliances which may well be selected to match their latest outfit or football team? Do you look at dental braces like these, and turn green?

Cease those chlorophytic thoughts immediately!

The Pangolin can now reveal that your dental braces can be as much a vehicle of self-expression, at a fraction of the cost!

Yes, all you need to do is wear your braces as per usual, and munch your way through several portions of diced vegetables; the precise species according to your favoured colours of the moment.  If that sounds a bit healthy for you, then a packet of mixed vegetable soup mix should do the trick.  

And you too can have a multicoloured mouthpiece.  Like this one:

"Eee, it were great", said Maisie Tonkers (aged 9) from Witney Scrotum.  "I 'ad red peppers an' tomatoes an' that, an' I dint 'ave to tell nobody I were a United fan!"

"They spotted it straight away when ah kicked 'ole  in litter bin, pulled it off t' lamp post an threw it through t' winscreen of t' police car!  Reet good night out, it were!"

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The War on Obesity; A Scientist Speaks. The Pangolin’s Resident Scientific Adviser Dr P J Whimbrel

Good Morning. Or Evening. Depending on where you are. In Glossop and certain parts of Birkenhead, its yesterday. Time’s a bugger isn’t it? No matter. I have been asked to say something about recent recommendations made by a Mr Andrew Burnham MP, Shadow Health Secretary, about the food we eat and the road to obesity. I strongly suspect that Mr Burnham (5 stone 6 wet through) is not unlike my cousin, the celebrated gong soloist Pip Whimbrel who eats huge amounts, especially of raw suet, but never gains any weight. Dear Pip’s been 19 stone since he was three. You see, its all to do with something called metabolism. Or Mr Burnham’s got worms.


It may be apposite at this point to draw your attention to some very interesting research I have been conducting into the relationship between humour and weight. We took two cartoons labelled ONE and TWO (TWO referring to the second one).

We showed these cartoons to a randomly selected group of people brought together by my colleague Prof Anna Prongg who hung a sign saying “BIG HANDFULS OF FREE MONEY IN HERE” outside Pangolin’s research HQ.

The results are interesting. All the fat mouthbreathers thought cartoon ONE was hilarious. Some collapsed in blobby heaps, weeping with laughter whilst others applauded and shouted, “****ing hell! That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen since the one with the bloke and the banana skin !”. The same group were perplexed by cartoon TWO. Some tried to eat it. Others shouted, “Where’s the money, then?” But not one cracked a smile.

Conversely, the thin, rail-like members of our randomly selected group, some sporting tattoos saying “Bilderberg! Find! Kill!”, dismissed cartoon ONE out of hand with shouts of, “Shameful working class parody!” and, “Ooh – er Missus, domestic violence is a crime!”

Upon being shown cartoon TWO, however, thin group members all nodded knowingly. Prof. Prongg noted at least three faint, sardonic smiles and several remarks including “Cool” ,“Wicked and, “Zebulon? What sort of a ****ing name is Zebulon?”

Sadly, at this point security had to be called as it turned out that one of the fatties was called Zebulon McHeftie.

Nevertheless, this unfortunately truncated piece of research does strongly suggest that if you like seaside postcard humour (cartoon ONE), you’re a fattie. If, on the other hand, you prefer cartoon TWO, you’re a pretentious conspiracy theorist and poor company to boot. 

Thank you.

And next week, my distinguished colleague, the very lovely Prof Anna Prongg, will tell us where all the money went.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Pangolin can now reveal the government's latest tactics in the War on Obesity.  After all, when one's At War, the last thing one needs is an enemy who can vanquish one merely by plonking their vast bulk into one's lap. Especially if they then sit there, farting.

There are to be limits on the amounts of fat, sugar and salt in food.  "Why, it's not before time", observed Lizzi Titsrake of the Food Safety Council. "From now on, butter and margarine will be sold in packets no larger than 3cm x 1.5cm x 0.5cm.  And you'll only be able to buy one from each shop you visit.  Salt will only be available in those little blue twists of paper you used to get in crisp packets.  And as for sugar?  Everyone will be obliged to set forth with an icepick and carve their own (tiny) cubes from the EU sugar mountain. So yar boo sucks to you, Lardass!"

There will be a crackdown on pushers, too.  Those scandalous vans with names like "Mr Whippy" and "Supersoft Ice Cream" will be banned from purveying their wares outside schools and other places where impressionable youngsters, er, hang out - like behind bike sheds.  Anyone caught importing doughnuts or pizzas will face a hefty (sic) fine and face a lettuce diet for a minimum of 30 days.

There will be exceptions, of course.  Eric Pickles' Department is well known for spending around 4% of the GDP on custard tarts alone, and this is likely to continue throughout the campaign.  "After all", says Mr Pickles. "An army can march on MY stomach - we're performing a public service!"

"I'm terribly sorry.  I should have said.  Gerard hates rectangular plates"

Thursday, 3 January 2013

On This Day

Five Years Ago

Winner of the Scrotby Women’s Institute competition, this month on the theme of Strangest Thing in Your Garden, was Joyce Snottles with her husband Keith.

Fifteen Years Ago

As the curtains met in the Village Hall on the last act of Potterton Players’ ambitious production of Aida, the lights came up to reveal not a single person in the auditorium. Describing the audience as very disappointing, Guildhall-trained producer Ronnie Laverstock was quick to praise his large cast, small orchestra and backstage army of helpers. ‘They’re all stars,’ he said, ‘troupers to the last.’ And the show went on.

Seventy Years Ago

Scientists working on the top-secret Neocol Programme in New Mexico gave first news of their breakthrough discovery of a new colour, previously unknown to science. Known only by its code-name, CQ239v is believed to be invisible to the human eye but an important player in the vision of goldfish. Writing in Aquarium News, Dr Ernst Schwieghandler warned the world to expect within ten years new developments in colour technology that could revolutionise engineering, medicine and the game of snooker.

Perv's Palace

(Courtesy of that nice Andrew Birch)

"Wait!  Raging Wind he say Watch Out - Another One On The Way!"

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Address from Justin Webly More or Less Arch.Of Cant.


And a Very Happy New Year to you all. I want to take this opportunity to talk to you about New Year’s Resolutions. Did Jesus make and break them? Is that how the moneylenders’ stuff got trashed? Sadly, we’ll never know, but I want to share with you one of my own resolutions which is already in train even as I type.

Of late, I have said some pretty harsh things about a certain section of the Laity who voted against us having women bishops.

You remember – I suggested that they were small minded, regressive, sexist antiques. Well that simply will not do, and I really must embrace the idea of forgiveness. To that end I have called upon a growing band of volunteers to go out amongst these religious Luddites and be nice to them; show them a good time; entertain them, and bring them back into the fun-loving fold of the Anglican communion.

Space does not allow any more than two brief glimpses of a Modern Church healing itself.

Here, The Very Reverend Gaylord Pitchblend entertains Gordon and Betty Petty with his tuba. You can hear those feet a-tapping, can’t you?
Meanwhile, one of our brightest curates, Chris Nerk has anti women bishopist Dr R A Parsnip wreathed in smiles. (Sadly, Dr Parsnip turned out to be dead, but it’s the thought that counts).

For the Good of the Party

The Pangolin Community Service Reporter, Bartley Gruntbugleigh, has conducted a survey amongst Pangolin's many party-goers last night (some of whom are not entirely human) - asking for their topical tips - which will mean complexions will be less green, stomping armies inside skulls less insistent and fewer letters of apology required, when next faced with a January 1st.

4,983 New Years' revellers were interviewed in a variety of locations across the country, including Glossop, Cricket St Thomas, Margate and Goole, and the results were amazingly consistent. These results are best consumed on December 31st.  Or not, as the case may be.

-  For ladies;  on the subject of 'getting your tits out'.  If the social event includes mainly strangers, getting one out eventually is acceptable. Liberating both as soon as you cross the threshold can be disconcerting. That sort of social clanger can lead to drunken males waving their willies about unbidden.

-  Willies are scarier than tits.  Remember this if you're a bloke wearing a skirt (this includes priests' robes) and put on clean undies first. Or not, as the case may be.

-  If you're a bloke, frilly undies and French knickers are scarier than Dreadnought thunderbox male undergarments.  The reverse is true for ladies.  Not sure if this applies if you're a Catholic priest.

-  If you're going to a venue which has a cloakroom, check whether this is a euphemism for 'Bog' before relieving yourself in a corner.  Being a drunken fart is no excuse.

- If you go out wearing a tail, particularly a long furry one, don't forget you've got it on when you visit the lavatory.  If you normally go out like this then you've probably got the hang of it, but is a common mistake made by novices.

- Similarly, wings - especially if they're artificial ones and don't grow there naturally - can be as lethal as rucksacks if you turn round suddenly.  Though a couple of pirouettes can beat off unpleasant opposition such as drunken men with scary hairy beards with chickens living in them - and charity muggers.