September 27, 2007

Why Aye man! It's Art.

Everyone reading this will obviously be well informed about the Tyne and Wear arts scene and won’t need reminding that the police recently seized a photograph from an exhibition at the Baltic Art Gallery in Gateshead.
Apparently, the photograph in question, which is of a child, is being examined by detectives who have to decide whether the image is art or pornography.
Heaven help humanity when we have to the Boys in Blue: ‘Is this art?’
Why stop there. Why not introduce Art philosophy classes at Police Academy.
'Morning chaps and chapettes. Welcome to Police Academy. You may be surprised to learn that this, the first class on the first day, starts with a question rather than an answer. 'What is art?' Get used to it boys and girls. This is policing at the sharp end. Discuss amongst yourselves and get back to me WITH A DEFINITION by 12 noon.' Maybe.
I know people who have studied and produced art all their lives and still don’t have the answer. One thing’s for sure. I think we all know where NOT to find the answer and that is at the local nick.
Imagine, if you will, how this whole sorry and sordid sutuation arose:
‘Afficer Broon to base come in man. Over.’
‘Why aye Afficer Broon, this is base. Go ahead. Over.’
‘Arite base, am currently in situ at Baltic Gallery Gateshead. Am in possession of photograph of questionable decency. The gallery owner initially tried to pass it off as a Madeliene McCann poster but I saw right through him and have made arrest on suspicion of challenging the public perception of photography as an artform. Please advise appropriate course of action. Over.’
‘Base tae Afficer Broon. We’re nae quite sure if challenging public perceptions of art is an arrestable offence. Sarge says yer going to have to arrest the artist himself on suspicion of producing pornographic images of a child. Afficer Broon, can you give us a description so we can put out an APB? Over.’
‘Roger that base. Gallery owner says artist is male, white, around five foot ten inches, speaks French and is currently wearing quite flamboyant trousers. Over.’
‘How flamboyant are the trousers Afficer Broon?’
‘Roger that base. Gallery owner says that on a 1-10 flamboyancy scale these trousers would rank about nine. Over.’
‘Okay Broon, we’ll put out and APB. Stand by. Over.’
‘Broon to base! Broon to base! Cancel APB. Perpetrator possibly sighted approaching gallery. Will lie in wait then pounce like cunning fox. Request permission to use stun gun. Over.’
‘Permission granted Broon. Be careful.’
Several minutes lapse.
‘Broon to Base. Come in. Over.’
‘Base to Broon. Give us a sitrep. Over.’
‘Ah seem tae have electrocuted Eddie Izzard. Over.’
‘Base to Broon, please clarify. Who is Eddie Izzard? Over.’
‘Eddie Izzard is a French-speaking English stand-up comedian known for wearing flamboyant trousers. Unlikely to be perp. Over.’
‘Fook. Afficer Broon, did suspect look at all titillated? Over.’
‘Negative base, although he did make moderately humorous reference to farm animals and one quite funny bible joke. Can we arrest him for that? Please advise. Over.’
‘That's a definite Negative Broon. Stand by. Over.’
More minutes lapse.
‘Base tae Afficer Broon, come in.’
‘Broon here. What are we going to do? Over.’
‘Afficer Broon. The boss has devised a strategy which should exctricate all of us from this sorry mess. Basically, we're going to suspend you on triple pay indefinitely as long as you never breath a word of this to any living soul. How does that sound Broon?’
‘Broon tae base. That sounds fookin’ marvellous. What about Izzard? Over.’
‘We can’t help him.’

God bless their cotton socks ('n guns)

In the Catterick NAAFI the atmosphere brims with tension as the first ever ‘Meet The Plebs Q&A Session’ between high ranking Army officers and the ‘rankers’ - the soldiers who’s lives (the existence of) are quite literally affected by those taking the stand.
Unusually for the British Army, privates, corporals and sergeants have the opportunity to question their superiors without fear of reprimand. Your loyal correspondent has been invited to witness this most unique occurrence and never one to pass up such a rare chance to see military democracy in action, TheUrbanMonk had little choice but to attend.
Events get under way as Major General Rupert Lloyd-Arbuthnott enters, stage left, and takes up his position at the podium.
Evening chaps.’
The gathered troops, worn from their recent tour in Basra, mutter amongst themselves seemingly unreceptive but, perhaps, not quite trusting top brass’s assurances that they may express themselves freely.
Righto,’ says Lloyd-Arbuthnott, taking the lead. ‘As you all know, we’ve been brought together tonight mainly to talk honestly about some of the issues you’ve faced at home on your retuern from fighting abroad. Perhaps I should introduce myself first. I am Major General Rupert Lloyd-Arbuthnott and without further ado I think we should open to questions from the floor. First question?’
The first hand to shoot skywards belongs to Sergeant Jim Grant from the Royal Scots. Red-faced and burly, he doesn’t seem set for compromise:
‘Arite Boss. Sgt Grant speaking. Ah just want tae say, it disnae seem fair that when we come back fae Iraq naebody gies a shit. We’re oot there riskin’ oor necks an’ aw’ we get is shite when we get back.’
‘Quite. Quite,
’ respond the Major General. ‘Thought someone would mention that and you’ll be delighted to know, chaps, that the Army been working hard on a range of measures that demonstrate the nation’s gratitude for your sacrifice.’
‘Such as?’
asks Grant.
‘Well, you’ll be delighted to learn that your employer, the British Army, has arranged for all of you to receive a full 25% discount on your council tax.
‘Next Question.’
He points to a pale looking private.
‘Arite boss. Lance Corporal Tam McAfferty, Argyll and Sutherlands. Noo, Ah couldnae gie a flyin’ fuck aboot cooncil tax. Ah’ve never paid a penny in mah life and am nae aboot tae start noo. Dae ah look like a fuckin’ eejit? Naw. Mah Mum’s cousin Stevie’s in the United States Marine Corps and he sez they get a branch o’ Burger King anywhere in the world and tax-free Harley Davidson motorbikes. You gonnae sort that for us?’
Lloyd-Arbuthnott is admirably keeps it together: ‘Ah. Not quite. But we have arranged a token of appreciation from the nation, if you will.’
Lloyd-Arbuthnott: ‘Well, I thought you might ask so have a further announcement. I’m sorry to say Burger King were unwilling to open a branch in Basra, or indeed Catterick, but negotiations with Greggs Bakeries were successful and it gives me great pleasure to tell you that the first planned opening of a Gregg’s bakery in the Middle-East will take place in Basra this October. I should also like to take the opportunity to thank all those who made this greatest of achievements possible. Doubly so, given the offence that sausage rolls pose to Muslim sensibilities.’
McAfferty, a Glaswegian, seems vaguley satisfied but Sgt Grant, a canny Aberdonian, isn’t finished:
‘You fuckers never gie us anything. Fit’s the catch?’
‘Ah. Yes. Well, unfortunately, we’ve had to squeeze the bullet-proof vest budget chaps.’
‘Ah knew it,’
shouts Grant, ‘You bastards. Yer ay’s makin’ financial sacrifices wi’ oor lives.’
‘Ah. Not quite,’
says Lloyd-Artbuthnott. ‘You’ll be glad to know that the Army has secured an exclusive corporate deal with the vest manufacturers. You'll all be able to purchase them at cost price. Tax-free too. How's about that then.’
A brave and lonely voice, that of McAfferty, pipes up: ‘Ah’d rather a Bacon Double Cheeseburger and a tax-free Harley ya bass.’

BBC goes OTT

BBC Executives were this week left licking their paws, so to speak, after protests surrounding the Blue Peter ‘Cookiegate’ debacle erupted into full-blown violence.
As tensions subside, sketchy details of the weekend’s events have begun to emerge. These paint an alarming picture of the circumstances which ultimately led to the untimely death, some say execution, of ‘Socks’ the cat.
Protestors were angry that the winning entry of a viewers’ contest to name the cat was changed from ‘Cookie’ to ‘Socks’ as Cookie could be misinterpreted as a slang name for female genitalia. Wry commentators immediately pointed out that socks were often made for cocks but allusions to cookies and fannies were harder to find in mainstream discourse.
Whatever. Initial police reports suggest Sunday’s protest at Television Centre was orchestrated by an extreme fringe group of Daily Mail readers although insiders claim orders ‘came from the top’.
Witness testimonies also suggest that normally liberal-minded Radio 4 Stalwarts Eddie Mair and John Humphries led protestors. Neither police or BBC officials have confirmed this but it is well-known that both journalists were indignant at repeatedly having to ‘plug’ Blue Peter on their respective PM and Today current affairs programmes whilst Blue Peter had offered it’s viewers no such plug for Radio 4.
Sunday morning was quiet as usual at the BBC save for the presence of a small band of semi-retired ‘middle-class types’ who had travelled from Tunbridge Wells to voice their discontent at the obviously Communist conspiracy behind the naming scandal.
It is unclear how this routine Sunday morning descended into an afternoon of mob violence but many present told your correspondent that Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James Mey were spotted with an air rifle laughing and taking pot-shots at the mob from a fifth-floor window around four o’clock. Anger soon spread and events escalated.
One anonymous participant told TheUrbanMonk:
‘It was all very civilised at first – proper spirit-of-the-blitz stuff. My wife had made egg sandwiches and someone else had a radio so we didn’t miss Test Match Special. There had been some raised voices and general discontent at the TV licence throughout the day but nothing else.
‘That all changed though. The second we saw that bastard Clarkson leaning out the canteen window with an air rifle all hell broke loose.
‘Eddie and John led the charge. We bowled right past security and made straight for the Blue Peter garden.
‘All those bloody homosexual presenters were there looking all smug and BBC-like. We were nice at first but then it all boiled over. One of ‘em was trying to hide the cat. He seemed to think he could take us on but he had another thing coming. I mean, after 10 years of Labour government one shirt-lifter and a pussycat’s no match for us is it?’

Exactly what happened next remains unclear but what is known is that ‘Socks’ was found floating, dead, in a tightly tied black bin bag.
Another participant, also anonymous, told TheUrbanMonk: ‘After we’d got rid of the cat it all quietened down a bit. We were just trying to make a point to the liberals, you know?
‘To be honest, I think people knew it had got out of hand and just wanted to get home in time for the Antiques Roadshow.’
Life may have returned to mind-numbing suburban normality for the protestors but, for producers and management at the BBC, tough questions remain unanswered.

Frankly Darling...

Dear Sweet,
As parting shots go, ‘You have my email address, right?’ won’t go down in history as the most dramatic or heart-breaking. It doesn’t really rank with the timeless classics. ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’ would have had more impact and if you had said that I would have appreciated your honesty.
You were right though. I do have your email address. You also have my email address, not to mention my street address and phone number, but you so rarely used any of them while we were going out that I can’t imagine in a million years that you would start using them now.
No matter. I have your email address and this letter has been swimming around in my head since the last time I saw you so I’m going to write it. Whether I send it or not is another thing altogether.
Our cultures collided in a dark crowded room way back in April yet I still find myself wondering: ‘What were the chances?’ Had we left our respective flats five seconds earlier or later that night we would never have bumped in to each other. We did though. I don’t believe in fate but I do keep wondering how often this kind of thing happens and whether or not it’s likely to happen again - although not, obviously, with you.
One thing's for sure, I really feel for the next guy that bumps into you in a dark crowded room.
For some reason you always made a point of highlighting the 'differences' between our cultures and I always resisted because it was always negative. I found it divisive. One always had to trump the other and lets be honest babe, it’s not like you come from some Amazonian tree tribe. You’re a white, Catholic English-speaker who values family and likes fish. Just like me. You could be from the Highlands just like me. We’re not from different planets. You just made it seem that way.
One real difference stood out though and I think it's what’s been bugging me for the past few weeks. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or just you but in this country, we care about manners.
You could dismiss manners as an out-dated anachronism; a symptom of Britain’s stereotypical stiff upper lip but to do so is to confuse them with etiquette - a different thing altogether.
Passing port to the left, for example, is an unnecessary anachronism but manners, on the other hand, serve a purpose. They’re about respect and consideration.
Now, I’m the first to admit that my manners could use polishing but you, darling, need a beginners’ class.
Suppose, for example, you arranged to meet a friend but later realised you couldn’t make it as a more-valued friend had shown up. What would you do?:
1)Tell the original friend to beat it.
2)Ignore the original friend
3) Apologise to the original friend for changing or abandoning the arrangement, give an explanation then offer, if possible, an alternative ie: ‘Let’s meet up next Wednesday.’
Someone completely lacking in manners (you) may respond with ‘1’ or ‘2’ but in British culture, the only acceptable response is ‘3’.
You might think it’s okay, even funny, to be tactless and inconsiderate towards individuals who don’t really matter to you but this, again, is all wrong.
Manners are timeless, selfless and universal. That means paying respect to everyone; from the checkout girls to whom you are exceptionally rude to casual Summer lovers you’re trying to discard.
Applying good manners also involves not lying to friends/colleagues/family to avoid seeing them. There can be something in this new approach for you too. Appropriate application of good manners could have helped you avoid having to fake a limp for a week after you invented an imaginary leg injury to get out of a meeting.

See, I wasn’t especially hurt that we finished, just pissed off with the way you ended it. I’m not being bitter or making this up. Honestly. All this stuff is written down in our country. Sometimes it’s even taught in schools and occasionally in the family home during childhood.
I have an excellent book on the subject called The Done Thing by Simon Fanshawe. Look it up. I considered lending it to you but figured you’d never give it back and, in any case, you never gave me anything except a sore head.
Which brings me neatly to another aspect of manners. Reciprocation. When someone gives you, say, chocolates, dope, flowers, festival tickets, etc, THE DONE THING is to reciprocate in some way.
Come to think of it, for someone who always said they hated taking, you were remarkably good at it. In fact, you were really quite hypocritical in a lot of ways. You told me that actions speak stronger than words yet your words, like when you said: ‘Thanks for everything,’ the last time you walked out of my flat, often rang hollow and any kind of generous action was non-existent.
You did teach me a few valuable lessons though. Principally, that I am a poor judge of character. Also, that I should be more careful around laptops; that sometimes when women say ‘yes’ they mean ‘no’ and (I should have known this already) that falling for non-UK passport holders can only cause problems.
By leaving the way you did though, you also reminded me of something important. You reminded me that I too have dreams and ambitions and that I’m the only one that can make them happen. Despite everything, I can’t hold that against you. Good luck with yours.
So long.

PS: I originally intended to send this directly and exclusively to you but my blog’s been lying idle for a while and the last entry could use an appropriate epilogue. Anyway, I figure you’ll show it to half, or indeed all, of Malta.
Take it easy.

June 16, 2007

No Glove, No Love

One of the practical problems with having sex, especially regular sex, is that you have to buy condoms. As a retail experience, it's on a par with buying porn or visiting Ikea. Girls; when your man starts whinging about loss of sensation or latex allergies, don't buy it. He's just terrified at the thought of having to present one of those tidy checkout girls with a box of Durex knowing fine well that whether she likes it or not she is going to have a mental image of him trying to fiddle a sloppy cock sock over his manhood. And they are always tidy checkout girls. Either that or, worse, old like your granny. For this reason, I have always taken the wimps way out and hung about in pub toilets until noone's about then hastily thrown a couple of coins in the machine, twisted the knob, so to speak, grabbed the goods and made a hasty exit.
Sex just now, however, is regular and if I use the rapid-withdrawal-from-the-pub method of contraception then I'm gonna spend more time in grubby toilets than in bed with my lovely lady. Today, therefore, I decided to visit the pharmacist. Anyway, this is the 21st century so I shouldn't feel embarrassed about taking responsibility for my end of the sexual bargain. After all, as the ancient Chinese used to say, 'before you spank her cover your wanker'.So I head to Boots.
I'm about to enter, so to speak, when I realise I've got no cash. I do have the Switch card but if I use Switch then I'm going to have to hang around the checkout for at least half a minute longer than is absoloutely necessary so I turn about and head to Sainsburys to use the ATM.
Now I've got cash I can go back to Boots but the place is crawling with attractive women. It always is. There is absoloutely no way I can stroll up to the Johnny section, grab a multi pack of ultra sensitive then stand in line holding on to nothing but half a dozen willy warmers and my rapidly disappearing dignity. There's nothing for it. I have to buy tons of shit then sneak the condoms into the pile so noone will notice - except, inevitably, the tidy checkout chick.
I go for all the two-for-one deals I can lay my hands on to make my pile of shopping bigger and the condoms more inconspicuous then casually stroll through the family planning section.
I wish there was was only one kind of condom. There isn't. There's hundreds. Who'd have thought there was so many different ways to dress up a little rubber willy warmer. We may have a genuine latex allergy issue so I opt for a six pack of hypo allergenic Durex. Then, and this is where it started to go wrong, I optimistically figure: 'What the hey. I'm gonna be a busy boy. Lets get two packs.'
I make for the checkout.
The queue's long but the johnnies are well concealed. So far so good.
It's my turn. My pile of personal hygiene products tumbles on to the counter. The checkout girl is swift and professional. The it dawns on me. I've bought so much shit that the cash I've just withdrawn now proves to be insufficient. Beads of sweat form on my temples. I feel like a doomed gazelle trapped between a rocky outcrop and a hungry lioness. Don't panic. The checkout girl smiles. Don't run Monk. You can do this. She starts scanning the products. They're almost through. We're nearly clear. Only one more to go. It's the second pack of hypoallergenics. Beep...beep again. Oh shit. What's going on?..please God don't let me be the millionth customer...I'll rediscover my Catholic roots...I'll go to church and never buy another condom in my life...I swear...Just don't draw any more attention to me please...
The smiling checkout girl picks up the condoms and holds them aloft for all the world to see.
'You know these are on our three for two deal?'

Curse the three for two deal. Everything's backfiring and the sweat's flowing freely. She may not want to but in her head she can see me shagging and we both fucking know it. Worst of all, so can all the grannies in the queue
'Aye. You can get another packet for free.'
'Well', says I, 'That seems like rather a good deal. Perhaps[s I'll grab another pack on the way out.'
'Naw. Ye have to go and get them right now so I can scan them or else the alarm'll go off when you leave.'

My head says: 'Well perhaps I'd prefer to be tackled by your Nigerian security guard rather than take a walk of shame all the way across the store while you and all the old ladies fantasise about me going at it like a rabid Tunisian stray dog. Fuck you. Just give me the dozen now and we'll talk about the other six later.' Instead I say 'OK,' and take the walk of shame all the way across the store while the girl and the old ladies fantasise about me going at it like a rabid Tunisian stray dog.
The only thing that could make this worse is if my card is declined. It isn't. I run. Traumatic stuff all in all but, as the ancient Chinese used to say: 'Don't be silly, wrap up your willy.' On the plus side, I now have a dozen and a half johnnies. Still, next weekend I'm gonna stick to Ikea and cornershops.

March 06, 2007

Luddites disband - technology's cool now

Further to my recent whinge about phones nae working, I think I,ve cracked it. I am actually writing this on my mobile phone in the scummiest fucking caravan I've ever had the misfortune to set foot in which is in a truckyard outside Middlesborough. How cool is that? (the phone, not the caravan). I hope like shit this works.
Also, I've even managed to locate not one, not two, but SEVEN US Government spy satellites (although they call them GPS or satnav or something).
Only downsides are:
I) Nae pictures - I'm sure I'll figure it out in good time.
II) Very, very sore thumbs.The keyboard, although a full qwerty version, is absoloutely tiny - approximately two inches by three - and the buttons are very stiff so I'm gonna stop round about here because this is only really an experimental entry.
Happy camping, digital kids.
Nanoo, nanoo!

March 03, 2007

He had no halo

An angel visited me the other night. I think it was Ogri but can't be too sure. He was definitely a wise old biker. Dreams normally pass me by but this one has lodged itself firmly in a fried old crack in my mind. It was a bit like when Jim Morrison visited Wayne in Wayne's World II. I think he appeared to me because I've been thinking about ditching the bike in my parents' garage until the weather looks up. Here goes:
"Shivering Monk, I am a wise biker and I am here to stop you ditching your bike at your Mum and Dad's for the Winter."
"Go away. I'd rather be dreaming about fit women."
"Shut up Shivering Monk, this will only take a minute. I have a mission and it is to make sure you ride all year round."
"But it always pisses down. At first I thought it was bad luck but I'm beginning to think it's me. Take this morning for example. I got up just to wash my bike not ride it. The Sun was shining right up until I touched the bike then it started pissing down. I finished washing the bike, went back inside and the Sun came out. This happens all the time. Some bastard's playing a cruel game with me. I swear I'm cursed. It happens on holidays too. When I go away I deliberately seek places where it doesn't rain. Take the Mojave Desert for example. It hadn't rained there for years until I visited. Pissed down mate."
"Stop whinging. You are the numpty who, afterall, bought a motorbike in Scotland in January. Anyway, you are from Fort William. Rain follows you."
"I knew it."
"But look on the bright side Shivering Monk, for although riding in the Winter can have a long-term detrimental effect on your machine, mainly corrosion, there are also benefits."
"Such as."
"There are no bugs at this time of year. Honestly. Stop moaning for a minute and look at your visor."
"It's in the shed."
"Well when you get a chance, have a look. Clean as a whistle I'll bet. For all the bugs stay in bed during Winter.
"Also, young warrior, there are no German caravans driving down the wrong side of the road at this time of year for German caravans also stay in bed for the Winter."
"But the road's slippy enough with or without German caravans."
"Just remember your basics Shivering Monk. When the vanishing point gets closer you must ease off but when it recedes put the power on.
"Dominate the road by occupying a right-of-centre road position but use the whole road for cornering.
"Remember, 50/50 braking in the wet and don't be scared of the back brake, young warrior, for you have ABS.
"Keep your light on all the time and put yourself in car drivers' mirrors because 'sorry mate, didn't see you' won't matter a toss when you are in traction with 16 broken bones.
"Blind-spot, blind-spot, blind-spot. Check it all the time.
"Most importantly, Shivering Monk, think about car drivers. Remember that they are not as clever as us. Treat a car driver like you would a child or a lover - always letting them know you are there. For them the journey is all about the destination rather than how they got there. This means they don't think about the road like we do. They will be listening to music or that annoying prick Humphreys on Radio 4. They will be doing their make-up and chatting to friends on their mobile phones. You, young warrior, must always be aware of this and keep a safe distance for the biggest danger a biker faces is not his bike but other people.
"You must be like a Gazelle at the watering hole. The Gazelle knows there are crocodiles in the watering hole but he is thirsty and must drink. You are thirsty and must ride.
"Finally, watch out for man-hole covers for they are slippy as fuck in Winter."
"It'll still be fucking freezing."
"Just remember what the great prophet Billy Connelly once said: 'There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothes."
"Any questions?"
"Go on."
"Is it wrong that I was dreaming about Take That before you turned up?"
"Very wrong. Good night."

February 27, 2007

Luddites Unite

Why don't things just work? I'm loaded up on new gadgets and every last one is useless.
Some may have noticed that I like to write from time to time but, being a long distance lorry driver, don't get the chance as often as I'd like. With this in mind I got myself a Nokia E61 mobile phone. More powerful, I'm told, than NASA's entire computing capacity at the time of the moon landings. More powerful than the bomber pilot training simulator I had a shot on when I was a sprightly young air cadet. Our guide, a trainee pilot, was quite proud of the fact that a large part of the RAF's training infrastructure for it's late cold-war ground attack capability was run by an old 386 PC. I vaguely remember being sworn to secrecy as well but that's another story.
Anyway, back to the Nokia. It arrived in several boxes a few days ago. Enough time, you'd think, to figure out how to work it. It's supposed to send emails, browse the internet and pinpoint my location anywhere in the world to within a few metres courtesy of a trick network of spy satellites owned by the US government. It has no fewer than 49 buttons, one joystick, two memory cards, an auxilliary GPS receiver, umpteen cables and connectors and a dinky little cradle for sticking it to your windscreen.
Three days in and I've just learnt how to make a phone call.
I give up. I quit. Take your 'Pop3', mobile LAN, SatNav and all the rest of it and stick it where the sun don't shine. And while you're at it, stick me in a place where the sun does shine. Where the roads are long, dry and empty except for me and my bike. Some place where there's no signal.

January 12, 2007

Oi! Pack it in.

They don't tell you when you stop smoking that certain changes take place. Of course they tell you that you'll live longer, feel more energetic and breathe more easily but they do not tell you that you might not shit for a fortnight.
I packed 'em in on Monday. I call it Effort #4.
The first attempt was when I was about 19 and lasted three months. It came to an abrupt end when I was offered a celebratory cigar at a family event. Next morning I was back on 20 a day.
Effort #2 was during second year at Uni so I must have been 21 or 22. Hear me now. Don't ever try and give up smoking when you have near limitless access to good cannabis. I kidded myself on for three months that I had kicked the habit but was smoking pot morning, day and night. I had to get back on the fags to save my sanity.
The third attempt was actually a pretty good shot but brutally ironic in it's collapse. It was January 2006 and about three months before the public places smoking ban in Scotland. I'd woken up one morning feeling like I had spent the previous evening drinking dog shit cocktails. As the habit dictates, I popped a stick in me lips and put the kettle on. It made me feel so shit I vowed there and then that I wouldn't smoke again and, miraculously, I didn't smoke again for three months. Pride and annoying smugness overwhelmed me as a realised that after March 25, 2006 I wouldn't be one of those muppets who has to stand outside pubs smoking in the rain. Then, on March 25, the last night you were legally allowed to smoke in a public place in Scotland, some bright spark decided it would be a good idea to have one last fag as a farewell salute to communal cancer and a welcoming gesture to a new era in public health. First hour of the ban and I'm back on 20 a day.
Which brings us to January 2007 and the hitherto-unknown constipatory effects of "packin' 'it in."
I was eight hours into Effort #4, driving along listening to Scott Mills on Radio 1 when Mills starts banging on about his co-presenter, Rachel. She has, like me, quit smoking but eight days earlier.
"Go sister," thinks I.
"Tell 'em when you last had a poo Rach," commanded Mills.
"Go on. Tell 'em. If you don't, I will."
"Eight days ago."
My sphincter tightens.
"That's right. Eight days ago listeners."
Mills then opens a national sweepstake encouraging people to guess when Rachel will successfully have a dump. My favourite was "during the opening ceremony of London 2012". The next day on the same programme she still hasn't been nor, more importantly, have I. They even invite Doctor Mark Somethingorother onto the show to talk about it and he says it can take TWO WEEKS.
Rachel's worried. I'm worried. She's worried that the poop will back right up to her mouth but Doctor Mark says that won't happen because your intestines are 24 feet long.I'm worried that when it does arrive its going to do so violently and I'll be in a lorry on a motorway at the time.
Fortunately for Rachel, it came the next day after a total of nine. I took nowhere near as long - five days - and I'm quite proud that it happened between Newcastle and Edinburgh aboard one of Richard Branson's fancy new, but hideously over-priced, Pendolino trains.
It is amazing how much your body can hold for a week. Doubly amazing when presented to you in the toilet of a Pendolino. The shitters on these trains don't have a pool of water in the pan like at home. They just have a kind of trapdoor so it's like shitting on a dinner plate until you push a button and the whole lot gets wheeched away. Nothing remains except enough eye-watering fart not only to embarass every passenger aboard but probably enough to flush out the entire Tora Bora cave system. Take this and your £40 ticket and stick it where the sun don't shine Rick.
If you smoke, please don't take all this as a reason not to quit. I do, in every respect, feel brilliant. I feel more alert and energetic. Money seems to last longer. I'm evenly cautiously warming to the fact that I might one day be a granddad rather than a photo. These are some but by no means all of the worthy and priceless outcomes of stopping smoking. You're not 'giving up', you're gaining tons.
What I am saying, however, is 'two weeks'. Be warned.

It lives

I don't usually just post funny emails but I thought this was quite funny.

After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here's the final word on nutrition and health:
1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
3. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
4. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
5. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.