Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Thought for the Day, from Justin Webly, more or less Arch. of Cant.

Justin here, and a slightly more off the cuff letter than usual perhaps, because here at the palace, we’re all preparing for Lent – you know, deciding exactly what we’re going to give up. Even the young man with the wire in his ear has entered into the spirit of things and removed all the cameras from the guest rooms. My lady wife has foresworn vodka and is making do with gin, whilst I have given my official driver a break and have taken the wheel myself. After a couple of near-misses on the ring road, I am quite getting the hang of driving this large Jaguar and I am heartened by the number of other road users who, upon recognising the official pennant, have made the sign of the cross. On the other hand (so to speak) I have been shocked at the number of digital amputees there are – able only to use one finger.
My other concern is the fate of the ex-Ukrainian president, as he seeks to distance himself from his fellow countrymen who do seem jolly annoyed with him. I don’t doubt that things like governmental corruption is rife in Ukraine. As the young man with the wire in his ear says, it goes with the territory, and let’s face it, some of these eastern bloc countries can be strangers to the truth. But let us remember that they have not had the time to develop the noble principles of State that we enjoy; the unimpeachable integrity of our politicians and free eye tests for OAPs to name but two.
I see also that Mr Cameron’s high speed train scheme is yet again in doubt, this time after senior members of his own party have suggested that the building of HS2 would seriously compromise areas recently devastated by flooding. Prayer is the answer here. Did not the Almighty part the Red Sea? But people will do what they will do, although I must confess that I’d much prefer the recommissioning of the many branch lines closed by that dreadful Beeching fellow. I mean, what could be more English than little trains pottering around this green and pleasant land, uniting Much Thrusting once again with Longbottom Edge?

Ah well, dreams of long ago, and I’m afraid I will have to break off here as I have just seen the young man with the wire in his ear pushing a rather swarthy unshaven chap in a stained and crumpled greatcoat into the cupboard under the stairs....

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Seagull

Breeding season doesn't start til April, but there's no harm in lookin', is there? Been checking out Lara - the one who hangs around outside 'Gertie's Fish Diner' on the sea front. Been regaling her with songs... 'Nothing you can say will tear me away from my gull' and 'Gulls just wanna have fun!' but not impressed so far.

Rather ungrateful I thought, considering I regurgitated nearly an entire curry for her delectation last year.

Was sitting near Boris on the wheelie bins in the car park the other day. If I line myself up properly I can see daylight through both his nostrils.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Episode 12: Bloatmingle - the Circle Closes

Previously on Bloatmingle of the Yard... Bloatmingle had suffered a recurring nightmare whilst being stunned by the fall of a chandelier. Buried in a pile of ornamental crystal, he recalled the events leading up to his unconscious state... and realised that the freshly apprehended villains did not seem to be with them any longer...

Where's Humplock? And Tommy No-Nose? And come to that – Peasmold should be back by now, even with him hobbling round in a circle on those stupid ducky feet of his!”

Aha!” beamed Spiggot smugly. For the first time in his life he felt the intoxicating power of superior nollidge.

H'if you poke around in that pile of fancy glass bits and stuff off of the lampshade, you will find Mr No-Nose and Dr Ercles Wossname buried in there.”

And Humplock?”

Erm, well, Sir,” Spiggot sucked his teeth, suddenly discovering a boiled sweet lodged behind his third molar. “That's where it got to!” he exclaimed.

Yes, WHERE did he get to?” demanded Bloatmingle. Honestly, getting information from Spiggot was like pulling teeth. Armed only with a fish hook and a length of embroidery silk.

Well, Sir, it's like this, Sir. You will recall that I h'appre'ended the villain and indeed h'erstwhile colleague Humplock by means of sittin' h'upon 'is plump and comfortable h'ankles?”

Bloatmingle nodded. He didn't like the sound of this.

Well, when the lampshade went and fell orf of the ceiling, Sir and landed on Mr No-Nose, Dr Ercles Wossname and yourself wiv quite a thud, Sir, I felt h'obliged to get up and do sumfink, that is to say, to ACT. Bein' as how I was chucked out of the Nativity Play at the h'age of eight, Sir, I felt the h'actor's life was not for me. No, sumfink H'IMMEDIATE was called for.”

Spiggot drew himself up to his full height and hooked his thumbs behind his braces. They pinged back menacingly and he winced.

So I dug you out of the wreckidge of the lampshade, Sir, and, er, revived you by means of the water from that flower pot.” He indicated the vase. “H'unfortunately, Humplock took h'advantage of the situation, that h'is to say, I was no longer sittin' upon his plump and comfortable h'ankles, and he, er, buggered orf, Sir.”

Bloatmingle looked around for his pack of Beryl's Old Shag. It was lying there among the remains of the begonias. “Never mind, never mind,” he thought.

We'd better get these dastardly villains tied up, apprehended and brought to justice before they come round!” he declared.“But they've already come round, Sir,” explained Spiggot patiently. “Or they wouldn't be 'ere, Sir. That Dr Ercles Wossname come round not two minutes before the lampshade 'it 'im!”

Bloatmingle busied themselves digging through the crystalline wreckage and eventually located the unconscious forms of Peasmold and Tommy No-Nose. The latter did not seem to have suffered any further damage by having his face pressed heavily to the floor. Luckily, Bloatmingle still had several balls of yellow scene-of-crime string, and the two felons where swiftly trussed up, looking like particularly ugly and over-wrapped chianti bottles by the time our heroes had finished. In Peasmold's case, a chianti bottle with webbed feet. They stacked them neatly against the wall.

Bloatmingle surveyed the remains of the chandelier. It reminded him of that time in Conk Street when the sardine delivery van went arse over tit through the plate glass window of Dorky Pankhurst's ice cube shop. His poetic reverie was soon to be disturbed, however...

A frightful apparition burst through the door, followed by a scream of the kind Bloatmingle had never experienced outside the rutting season in Glen Parva, and never directed at himself. The scream seemed to assume a corporeal form in the shape of a second terrifying apparition.

The first one leapt into Bloatmingle's arms. “Help me... help me...” it whimpered uncontrollably. Bloatmingle took in the wild hair, the eyes which looked as though they'd been borrowed from a documentary on squid in the Mediterranean – and the unmistakeable wart with two long hairs growing from it, sited just below the left eye.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Dear Lady Violet,

Dear Lady Violet,

I've been trying online dating, you know, on the internet an' all, and I've heard about these people called 'catfish' who put up fake online dating profiles and send pictures which aren't them at all.
I've been sending cute little txts with modern expressions like OMG and LOL, whatever those mean, to this nice sounding young man, and now he's sent me a photo.

Do you think he's a catfish?


Hermione Cadwallader (83)
Chipping Sodbury

Lady V:
My Dear Miss Cadwallader,
You will excuse my presuming that you are a well-bred unmarried lady, but I believe that we may have been introduced years ago at the Chipping Sodbury Hunt Ball. I was the one in pink chiffon, escorted by a Captain in the Lifeguards who turned out to be spectacularly well hung. As I remember, you were the thin, pale, outstandingly unattractive gel in the company of what appeared to be a corpse.
Whilst I'm pleased to see that you have reached a goodly age, I despair at your lasting innocence. Of course your correspondent is a catfish. These creatures are known to prey on silly old fools, insinuating themselves into their affections so that they may tickle the victim with their long, damp whiskers. This usually happens at night at a full moon. The swiftest cure is to drink a half-bottle of cheap brandy upon retiring.

Dear Lady Violet,

I've recently shown my boyfriend, Eric (91), how to open a Facebook account. He doesn't use it properly, and so far he hasn't liked any of my pictures of cats, or of my dinner, or of me being blind drunk and puking into a plant container outside ASDA. This makes everyone think I'm a sad git with a boyfriend who doesn't care about me. All he does is sit there with a tartan blanket over his knees and watch telly.


Josie Headwhacker (38)
Eastrington, Goole.

Lady V:
Dear Ms Headwhacker,
I have in fact been to Goole. The Bentley was struck by a careless pedestrian in the main street there, leaving a nasty stain on the nearside front wing and I was delayed for a good ten minutes waiting for the stupid man to regain his senses and be encouraged by my driver, O'Hell, to wipe it off.
I had been shooting with the Crome-Frobishers up at Grubbocks, and O'Hell took a short cut through Goole so as to shorten the journey back to the road south and blessed civilisation. I have to say that the whole area struck me as one shot through with inbreeding and native idiocy. Your boyfriend would seem typical of the average male Goolie (as they like to be called, apparently), and if I were you, I'd drop him asap. I mean, he's 91 and will, more than likely, fall off the perch pdq, leaving you with absolutely no reason to upchuck on supermarket premises.
No, my dear lady, urgently dump Eric and look for someone nearer your age, and just as drink dependent. Let's face it, according to the photographs you enclosed, at 38 you're no spring chicken, and on the outstandingly plain side to boot.

Dear Lady Violet,

My mum won't let me mend my motorbike. This is serious, because it's getting dangerous what with bits falling off an' all. She says it's because all the oil and gunk will stain the sheepskin rug in the dining room - which is the only place I could do it.

How can I get her to stop being so stubborn?


Darren Wossname
Scratchy Bottom

Lady V:
Dear Mr Wossname,
You will note that I invest you with the grown-up title, "Mr" although I sense from your letter that you are anything but.

Mending your motorbike on the sheepskin rug is a perfect example of adolescent thoughtlessness. Whilst this may not be your fault - you are probably the result of a kneetrembler when your poor mother was young and foolish - you absolutely must try to mend your motorbike somewhere else. If you do not, I have provided your mother with the contact details of a freelance persuasion agency (called Clint) who will be only too pleased to help.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Ten More Things You Didn't Know About...

  1. Prince Philip is not afraid of mushrooms, but gets nervous around parsnips.
  2. Alexander Graham Bell could not tap dance.
  3. Twice during the early part of her career Joan Bakewell ran out of washing – up liquid.
  4. William Wallace of “Braveheart” fame regularly forgot to cancel the milk whilst away campaigning.
  5. Philip Larkin and Madge Fairbrother  had regular knitting competitions. At the time of his death, Larkin was leading by two mittens and a Fairisle jumper.
  6. Dame Alicia Markova’s real name was Tom Gobby.
  7. John Cage’s famous 4.35 (or whatever) Minutes of Silence was originally called, “I Really Can’t Be Arsed With This.”
  8. Whilst directing “Halloween”, John Carpenter ran out of underpants.
  9. During the 1948/49 Ice Hockey season in the US, tactical farting (breaking wind, often in unison) just as an opposition player was about to make a shot on goal was declared illegal.
  10. Alvar Liddel, wartime BBC newsreader was cautioned in 1942 after he said, on air, "This the BBC Home Service. Here is the news, and a right load of depressing old shite it is too."

Saturday, 15 February 2014

On This Day...

Ten Years Ago

Guest speaker at Diggleby Bright Hour Club was Desmond McGinty of the McGinty Museum of Bubblewrap, whose talk came with an extensive collection of slides to illustrate the many different types of bubble packaging in use around the globe. The vote of thanks was given by Mrs Pilling, the only member still present when the lights came back on again.

Twenty Years Ago

A meeting of the Writers' Collective in North West Haringey was unable to proceed with business as planned when it was found that none of those present had thought to come with a pen.

Sixty-Five Years Ago

One month on from switch-on, the newly installed traffic-lights at Yarmouth Bridge (the first and only such lights on the Isle of Wight) were proving a big hit with local residents. Road surveys reported a steady increase in traffic flow, peaking on Sunday afternoons, as car-loads of visitors armed with cameras made their way across the Island to view the latest attraction. A spokesperson for the Council's Highways Dept expressed pleasure that the new system had bedded in satisfactorily, with, thus far, no major incidents reported. 

Ninety Years Ago

Speaking at the launch of his motorised carving knife, inventor Horace Pring of Tring described his new device as a must for every home and a gadget that would save labour in all departments, be that kitchen, larder or game-store. In answer to questions from the Press, he conceded that dining-room conversation could be difficult over the engine whine, but only temporarily. 

In a message from the hospital bedside the following day, Mrs Pring paid tribute to the ambulance services and their prompt action, which had saved her husband the use of two fingers on his left hand.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why, that is to say, the reasoning behind the cause of there not being a wossname on Pangolin today:


Wake up. Again. Bathroom. Feed dog and chickens. Separately. Make coffee. Lots. Remember really good idea scribbled on bedside notebook just before falling asleep last night. Upstairs to studio, but retrieve idea on way. Enter studio. Wish (for the thousandth time) that I was a tidy person. Fail to understand scribbled idea. Parrot? Faggot? Cassock? Hassock? Put scribbled idea in box marked “Ideas”. Make note. “Get bigger box”.

Begin tedious cartoon for hobby magazine. Consult Google about Macpherson Thrust Return Valves.


As above. Then have trouble with pen nib. Ink flow poor. Change nib and reservoir. Get all inky. Wash hands and think about my many paperless, inkless colleagues. Know I’ll never change. New nib etc, fine. Colour hobby cartoon. Write invoice. Scan and send. PC refuses to send. Router working. PC keeps asking for password. Password is correct. PC keeps asking. Know this is BT’s fault with their hopeless copper wiring. Close down PC. Have coffee. Wait. Start up (I refuse to say “boot”) PC. No change. Shout “Oh for Christ’s Sake!” Dog scurries downstairs.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

It's Official! Men really do have bigger breasts!

A couple of images which will dispel all your silly misconceptions about different secondary sexual characteristics!

  • University of Glossop scientists, Professor Anna Prongg and Dr P J Whimbrel, reviewed five years of research
  • 95% of people who nick bras from neighbours' washing lines are men
  • Major implications for underwear manufacturers

'For the first time we can look across the vast cleavage of scientific research and confirm that breast size and structure are different in males and females,' said Anna Prongg, who led the study.

'We should no longer ignore sex in neuroscience research - or anywhere else, come to that - especially when investigating whether a DD wonderbra will fit or not. We need to be ahead of the curve.'

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Justin here. As I type, Old Father Thames, our usually benign gateway to the World is demonstrating to certain stretches of the Home Counties exactly how feeble we mere mortals are when Mother Nature rears her watery head.
The HOME Counties!! I mean, the sort of thing we’re reading about and seeing on our televisions usually takes place in faraway places of which we know little. Like Wales or the North East. But now – now the water is lapping over the well-heeled doorsteps of the Home Counties! I mean, we’re all very sorry for the poor souls who choose to live on the Somerset Levels, but they do seem to have quite a lot of canoes down there. And tractors.
But here, in the Home Counties, such outlandishly yeoman-like modes of transport are rare. So yesterday, after much arguing and pleading, yes pleading – I persuaded the young man with the wire in his ear to accompany me, in his four-wheel drive vehicle, to the hitherto peaceful village of Ottery St Hilda – a picture postcard piece of English perfection so recently inundated by Thames water - eagerly seeking the weak and vulnerable, there to offer what comfort I could. We did not fare well. First, local police would not allow us to enter the village, even after I told them who I was. The officer in question said, “Yes sir, they all say that.” Then, when the young man with the wire in his ear intervened and showed his badge of authority, despite the howling wind, I’m sure I heard the same officer say, “Look, James Bond, sod off and take the old geezer with you!" 
This affront stirred the young man with the wire in his ear into action and from the rear of his vehicle he deployed a small rubber craft which he inflated via some sort of pump arrangement connected to the engine of his car. I was touched to see written on what appeared to be the stern of this vessel, “Archie Aid – Spiritual Succour” I was then given a short plastic oar, urged to hop aboard, and along with the young man with the wire in his ear, rowed strongly for what we took to be the local community centre. Sadly, our voyage was short. The jerk caused by our little craft still being connected to the inflation device cast us both into the water. Worse, as the recalcitrant policeman waded to our rescue – laughing, I have to say – the young man with the wire in his ear’s side arm, a small black automatic pistol, spilled from his jacket into the water.

So I am writing this from a relatively comfortable cell somewhere in England. The young man with the wire in his ear was taken away some time ago by two large, stern looking fellows whilst I wait for the arrival of a solicitor whose services I am apparently entitled to.

Naturally, in the face of adversity, I ask myself, “What would Jesus have done?”

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Monday, 3 February 2014

View from Civic Hall

Kalo̱sórisma and welcome! As your council leader, it gives me a very warm feeling to welcome you all to 2014 but then Corfu is always very hot this time of the year. As you know, the business of town council never stops and I’m currently here promoting town business as part of a fact finding mission. What facts, you might ask. Well, did you know that Corfu is the only nation to drive on neither the right nor the left side of the road? They drive down the middle, a practice I’ll be recommending to the council as soon as I return in three weeks.

Speaking of my return: what a 2014 we have ahead of us as our historic town celebrates its founding. This year is our quadruple centenary or, as our chief financial officer to remind us, three hundred years since our borough took its first steps to becoming a hovel and then a hamlet. Back then, it was just a rough clearing in a forest occupied by a swampy bog and leper colony yet now the same spot boasts the biggest Primark in the county! I know some might say that’s not much of a difference but that’s missing the point entirely. This is PROGRESS! At the time of our next centenary, who knows what amazing triumph of the future might be standing where Primark now stands? My hope is some kind of futuristic underpant emporium offering cheap socks and even cheaper rocket-powered day trips to the Moon.

In other good news, my last duty before leaving on my holidays. No, Miss Richditch, strike ‘holiday’ and put ‘fact finding mission’. My last duty before leaving on my fact finding mission was to open the newly completed swimming pool attached to the nursing college. As you know, I look down on the pool from my council office and what wonder do I feel as I gaze through the conveniently located glass ceiling and see the changing rooms filled with so many of our brightest, best and lithe 18 to 24 year olds looking fit, healthy, and completely unaware...



Sorry. I was distracted by some council business. Now where was I? Oh yes… Miss Richditch take up the dictation from ‘healthy’ and carry on from there.

In other news, the county heron has not been spotted for twelve weeks and our nature warden is concerned that it might have fallen victim to the craze for heron dipping that’s currently sweeping Youtube. If you see the heron, please contact Warden Billy on 203833. Don’t be tempted to dip it. Instead remember that we are merely custodians of these remarkable creatures who are the living embodiment of a free and noble spirit. The heron is approximately three feet tall with a large beak, grey feathers and has our municipal property notice laser etched across its forehead.
Speaking of wildlife, March will see us unveiling our new Puffin crossing on Lapping Lane, providing some extra peace of mind for families enjoying the borough’s most densely foliated parkland and dogging hotspot. A new bistro restaurant will soon be offering late night servings for taxi drivers feeling the cold after a long night of groping in the bushes.

At the recent council meeting, it was my honour to officially declare 2014 our ‘Year of Prosperity’ and we marked the occasion by presenting a bouquet of flowers to Agnes Richditch (22) who will this year officiate as our ‘Miss Prosperity’. I personally selected Agnes from many candidates and, as coincidence would have it, her hobbies include Greek food, perfecting her first class dictation skills, and swimming the backstroke at the new swimming pool attached to the nursing college. Her ambition is to eventually work in local government.
Finally, in late breaking news: it seems that our chief financial officer miscalculated and it is four hundred years since the town’s founding and not three hundred as previously stated. It also emerges that in our last budget he carried the wrong one and we don’t have funds to pay for the removal of the town’s Christmas decorations. At a late night session of council involving wine and cheap ouzo, it has been agreed to rename the ‘Christmas grotto’ the ‘Easter grotto’ and it will remain illuminated until late March.

Until next month. Ya mas!

Now type that up Miss Richditch and post it to the council website. Then get back to the pool. I want to show you a trick I know involving a cup of olive oil and rubber snorkel.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Episode 11: Bloatmingle and the Begonias

Previously on Bloatmingle of the Yard... Bloatmingle had found himself locked in a desperate struggle with the lazy-eyed Swede, who was finally catapulted from Clifton Suspension Bridge. Unfortunately, taking Bloatingle's underpants with him. Simultaneously, the Royal Procession arrived, and he gave the approaching cars his very best royal salute.

The salute changed to a frantic waving of hands as Bloatmingle sought to shield his face from the foetid water. For a split second he feared he'd joined the lazy-eyed Swede in the icy waters of the River Avon but then realised, blinking, that the water was streaming towards him in a more personally directed fashion.

Moreover, Spiggot was on the other end of it. At least, a huge vase held by Spiggot was on the other end of it. The vase had recently held a bunch of dying and putrid begonias. Bloatmingle spat one of them out.

Hmmm. Reminds me of that disgusting trifle Gertie Dampweasel from the Custard Factory used to make. That place was never the same after they put in the ornamental pond”, he mused. But now to more pressing matters, and he'd left his Corby in that hotel room in Norwich.

What on earth's going on, for God's sake, man!” he barked at Spiggot. The latter shuffled his feet and rubbed his potato-like cheek.

Well, Sir, it's like this, Sir. You know when you was delivrin' a h'accusatory speech. Yes, that's it - a h'accusatory speech about Bretta Parsnips – to the h'evil villain the h'evil Dr 'Ercles Wossname?”

(Spiggot pronounced 'villain' in a way that would have rhymed with 'back pain').

Bloatmingle raised one eyebrow quizzically. He liked doing that. It reminded him of Humphrey Bogart and did something to alleviate the indignity of lying on the floor of 37 Dead Man's Wharf, soaking wet and covered with rotting vegetation.

And you can stop pouring that filthy stuff all over me!”

Yes, Sir, very good Sir.” Spiggot put down the vase. He'd once seen a film where the heroine had fainted, only to be revived by a maid bathing her temples with water. Spiggot had never forgotten the principle – Apply Water to Head of Unconscious Person – and had followed it unerringly whenever the occasion demanded.


Well, Sir, you know when you was delivrin' that speech to the h'evil Dr Ercles Wossname?”

Bloatmingle closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He recalled the bizarre recurring nightmare where Mrs Wangle served fish and asparagus pie every Friday in the Yard's cafeteria. It was always followed by urinary activity involving a firearm of some sort, and saluting a Royal Procession whilst wearing nothing on his nether regions. The other details varied; this time it had been a Swede with a lazy eye, last time it featured a turnip with terminally indolent large intestines. It must have been the mention of Bretta Parsnips which brought it on. He couldn't recall the details of the other dreams Рone of them included two onions and a carrot Рbut the d̩nouement was always the same.

Never before had Bloatmingle thought he'd be grateful to find himself merely concussed, soaked and composted on the floor of a terraced house in Dead Man's Wharf. Spiggot cleared his throat and continued.

And then you went and shot that funny giant violin case wiv the geezer painted on the front?” He pointed a large sticky finger in the direction of the priceless Egyptian sarcophagus recently missing from the British Museum.

Well. The bullet what you shot the geezer wiv went and ricker, ricker... I mean bounced off the wall, an' pranged the lampshade cord.”

Bloatmingle recollected that the room had featured a massive chandelier which bore a strong resemblance to one recently missing from Kenwood House, part of the Iveagh Bequest. He looked up. No chandelier. He looked around. A vast sea of smashed ornamental crystal. The odd silvered cherub leered at him in a suggestive way, but Bloatmingle just wasn't in the mood.

Cep' for it must of not gone through the lampshade cord all proper, like”, observed Spiggot, “On h'account of it took a while before it landed on you and knocked you out. K.O. You see, I'm not afraid to use my powers of deeduction, Mr Bloatmingle, Sir.”

Bloatmingle sprang to his feet, suddenly recalling all the events immediately prior to his encounter with the chandelier.