Man, 38, has overblown sense of suavity cruelly punctured, then alarmingly restored.

On my way home from work yesterday I decided to take a small detour to Marble Hill Park, and spend a pleasant quarter of an hour in the sun, watching the village cricket and enjoying one of those small cans of ready-mixed Gordons G&T. On the way I passed St Stephen's Church, where I noticed three or four unhappy looking people sitting outside, quietly smoking. I assumed they must have suffered a recent bereavement, and left them to it.

When I got to the park I sat down on a bench, opened my small can of ready-mixed Gordons G&T, and before I'd had two sips a voice behind me said "Wotcher. Alright if I sit down?" I turned round and saw a man. A very dishevelled man. A man whose hair, clothes and body, were in dire need of a wash. But we Wards are not judgemental types, as you know, so I said, "Of course". "Waiting for dinner?" he asked. "I suppose so", I said, assuming he meant I was passing a few moments before going home for dinner. "Cos they don't start til seven, do they", he said. "Who doesn't?" I said. "The church. You know, St Stephen's Church. Every Thursdee they do a free dinner." Ah, so that's why there were unhappy looking people sitting outside the church. "Oh, I didn't know that", I said, adding "You know Johnny Leyton, who was in The Great Escape, and had a no. 1 hit in August 1961 with the Joe Meek produced single Johnny Remember Me? Well his manager's daughter got married in that church".

He was sensationally unimpressed with this information. So I said I must be getting on, and we went our separate ways. I was, it has to be said, not terribly pleased at his assumption that I was there for a free dinner, but I hold nothing against the man, who - to be fair to him - offered me what I believe is known as a "toke" on the joint he was smoking, which I politely declined.

So off I went, and on my short journey home happened to encounter a man I refer to as The Gay Community of St Margarets. He & I have been on nodding and smiling terms ever since we were both at the station once, both wearing paisley silk scarves. That was several years ago, and since then we've nodded & smiled, and said "Lovely day", and "How are you?" and so forth, and now we're reasonably chatty, albeit with the result that I'm fairly certain that he thinks I am the other member of The Gay Community of St Margarets.

So we chatted away, and then when I got to where I live I took out my keys, said "Have a nice evening", and that was that. Except I noticed my next door neighbours' door was slightly ajar. I live in the garden flat of a converted four storey townhouse; my next door neighbours live in a whole four storey townhouse. The nearest equivalent I can find to it is this, currently on the market for £1,295,000.

At the exact point that I closed my own front door, my next door neighbours slammed theirs shut. The Gay Community of St Margarets must have thought that was me, and now I am convinced that the tramp community in St Margarets think I am a tramp, while the gay community thinks I am a gay millionaire.

Ill-informed man presents roundup of urban music scene.

Since starting my new job a couple of months ago I've had the pleasure of listening on a daily basis to Choice FM, which bills itself as "your favourite urban station". Obviously this isn't true in my case; my favourite urban station is Euston. In fact I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I once saw Melvyn Hayes from It Ain't Half Hot, Mum getting trapped in the ticket barriers at Euston. Well I imagine that you're like me, and when someone mentions urban music you immediately think of things like "The Lambeth Walk", "Let's All Go Down The Strand", "Can I Take You Up The Camden Passage?" and so on. Well you couldn't be more wrong, you ignorant waste of space. No, urban music is a modern genre, aimed primarily at young people, and comprising elements of pop, hip hop, R&B, dance & reggae. Now I've cleared that up, I thought it might be interesting to present you with a roundup of the current urban music scene. Then I realised it probably wouldn't be interesting to present you with a roundup of the current urban music scene, but decided to do it anyway, beginning with:

Ludacris - My Chick Bad: Strange as it may sound to our ears, young people today frequently use the word "bad" in a non-pejorative sense. Thus when Ludacris sings "My chick bad, my chick 'hood, my chick do stuff yo' chick wish she could", his words should be read not as an admonishment to his chick, but instead as a paean. But what precisely does his chick do that other chicks wish they could? We hear that "She rides that dick and she handles her liquor". Well that hardly distinguishes her from most of my female acquaintances. Later we discover that "She slides down the pole like a certified stripper", suggesting that there exists a recognised certification system for strippers, like the Corgi scheme for gas fitters. Sadly we have no time to discuss whether such a scheme represents yet another example of the entrepreneurial spirit being stifled by red tape, or whether instead it provides valuable and much needed protection for consumers.

Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude: Before you start thinking "Ooh, at last! Finally a song about weeing standing up!", this isn't what Jessica is referring to. Nor has she composed an ode to the pitfalls of attempting to put together Ikea furniture without having first thoroughly read the instruction manual. No, Ms J wishes us to know that she is every bit as sexually voracious as Ludacris and his chick. And addressing us dudes, she informs us that she can "Grab my crotch, wear my hat low like you". As a man, I'm slightly affronted at being crudely stereotyped as a slavering, low-hat wearing lech, forever ogling women's knockers and grabbing my crotch. I wear my hats at a jaunty angle.

Juelz Santana – Back To The Crib: Here Mr Santana's attempts at luring his female companion back to his boudoir are, in my opinion, undermined by a series of lyrical faux pas. Firstly he claims he stays "polo down to the socks". For heaven's sake, Santana, don't mention your socks. The sight of a man naked except for socks is exceeded in silliness only by that of a man naked except for socks and shoes. He then claims his watch "cost more than Fort Knox". Well I don't know about you, but I'm perfectly happy with my Casio AQ-230A Combi, and I'm sure you'll agree that a watch costing more than Fort Knox represents a quite vulgar display of ostentatious consumption bearing in mind the current economic climate. But Santana's most ill-judged boast comes when he says "Yeah just call me Mr Orgasm, and if you come with me I guarantee you gon' have one". ONE? I mean, I make no claims to be a latter day Don Juan – that's for other people to say – but for heaven's sake, one is nothing to write home about, is it.

Usher – Daddy's Home: Oh I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Ah, that's more like it, after all this unbridled smut and sexytalk. Usher's written a song about how he likes to come home after a hard day's work showing people to their cinema seats – HIS NAME'S USHER, YOU SEE - and spend some quality time with his 3 year old son, Usher Raymond V". And at first you'd be right. "I just wanna get your attention", he sings. "That's nice", you think. "What an attentive parent Usher Raymond V has." But hang on: "I won't knock, or ring no bells. You just float that bottom up in the air." WHAT? "I know you've been waiting for this loving all day...girl tonight we gonna do a lot of sexin'…Do that damn thing let the neighbours hear." Oh, it's more sexytalk, isn't it.

Gyptian feat. Nicki Minaj – Hold Yuh: Gyptian, or Windel Edwards, as he's known to friends and family, is a sneaky so-and-so, and no mistake. He's deliberately tried to confuse me here by adopting an exaggerated form of Jamaican patois, reasoning no doubt that I'd be unfamiliar with that dialect. Well, Edwards, you reasoned wrongly. And while I can't provide an exact translation of what Gyptian means by "Me want a gyal who cyan wine pon me, wid it good and mek mi feel it. Gimme the mekka van and the fat tun tun tun, me na rampaz mi nozzle and get my boom boom", I'm 99% certain that it's yet more sexytalk.

What we've learned here is that the artistes on Choice FM could do with a cold shower and a brisk walk, and - I've just realised - I've basically ripped off Baaad Dad from The Adam & Joe Show, not particularly well.

Anyway, I've also realised that many of these songs refer to a female who goes by the name of "Shorty". Assuming this is a specific individual, does anyone have her phone number?

Twickenham man in bizarre attack on blameless New Wave band.

The other day catbo posted a Livejournal entry in which she linked to the video of Making Plans for Nigel by XTC. If you're not familiar with the lyrics to Making Plans for Nigel, it begins like this: We're only making plans for Nigel / We only want what's best for him / We're only making plans for Nigel / Nigel just needs this helping hand. What lovely sentiments, you might think. How kind of XTC to show such concern for Nigel that they'd take time out from recording their 1979 album Drums and Wires in order to make plans for him, recognising as they did that he needed a helping hand. And as the song continues we get to hear exactly what those plans are: Nigel, sings XTC's lead vocalist Andy Partridge, "has his future in British Steel". In fact, adds Partridge, Nigel's future "is as good as sealed".

I left a comment to the effect that I felt Nigel had been somewhat misled by XTC given what we now know about the fate of the British steel industry since September 1979, when Making Plans For Nigel reached no. 17 in the charts. In fact my exact words were "badly misled". I realise that kind of language might sound excessive – a word as strong as "badly" isn't something to bandy around lightly, is it – but you must understand how angry I was. We Wards are generally quite placid creatures, as you know, but when roused can be capable of quite terrifying displays of wrath. Grown men have been known to quake in their boots as we hurl around furious epithets such as "disappointing", "below-par" and "average".

You see the thing is, just one year after XTC's chart success, when they were no doubt gorging themselves on caviar and champage, the steelworks in Consett, Co. Durham was closed, with the loss of 3,700 jobs. This was just the start of a programme named "Slimline", a series of works closures that continued throughout the 1980s. In Port Talbot the workforce was slashed from 12,500 to 7,500. And in Corby, Northamptonshire, the closure of the works led to an unemployment rate of no less than 30%, and must have had simply unimaginable consequences for the trouser press industry.

All in all, in the 20 years since 1979, when XTC promised Nigel they only wanted what was "best" for him, and 1999, when British Steel merged with the Dutch steel producer Koninklijke Hoogovens to form Corus Group, the number of British steelworkers had plummeted from 150,000 to just 30,000.

"Hold on", you might be thinking. "It's all very well being wise after the event, but XTC couldn't possibly have known that back in 1979, could they". Well that might be what they'd like you to think, but you'd be bang wrong, you ignorant pig; the truth is, in 1979 the steel industry in Britain was already in sharp decline. When British Steel was formed in 1967, its work force numbered 268,500; in just 12 years that had fallen by 118,500, a staggering 44%. Yet it was at that point that XTC decided that what was "best" for Nigel was a future in British Steel. If they'd simply bothered to do the slightest research into the steel industry – if they'd spent just one afternoon in the library instead of in a wild, bacchanalian orgy of Walls Vienetta and Le Piat d'Or – then maybe this whole sorry affair could have been avoided.

Promise me, readers, promise me you will never allow XTC to make plans for you.

JAMES WARD NEWS: James Ward needs someone to move into his spare room. He has created a Facebook Group "Help me find a bastard to move in to the spare room in my flat", and there is more information here. I've suggested Fiona, but she doesn't seem all that keen, for some reason.


I was reading Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth recently. It's all not that good, to be honest – there's 185 pages and the first monster doesn't turn up until page 133. Up until then it's all plot and characterisation. Who's interested in that? Monsters, that's what you want. Well anyway, on page 155 there was a scene where the leader of the expedition, Professor Lidenbrock, finds a fossilized human skull, and observes: "It presents no appearance of the prognathism which diminishes the facial angle." Well this meant nothing to me, but helpfully the publishers had included footnotes explaining these kinds of technical terms. So I looked down to the bottom of the page, and this is what I saw:

"Hmm," I thought. And I'll tell you why I thought "Hmm." I'd been vaguely aware that beliefs likes this were common in the 19th century, but I'd assumed they were now considered obsolete; that advances in scientific thinking had disproved the idea that by placing a pair of callipers round someone's head you could somehow tell whether they were a savage or not. But no, the publication date of my book was 1996. The only explanation was that there'd been further advances in scientific thinking, that had refuted the original advances and proved once and for all that you really can determine someone's intelligence by measuring the angles on their face, and that anyone whose facial angle was diminished by prognathism really was one of the lowest savages.

I couldn't actually remember hearing about this important scientific breakthrough in 1996, but I'd probably been too upset about Take That splitting up to have paid any attention. Now though, armed with my new-found knowledge I decided to put it to the test and discover just who is and who isn't a savage. Here are my findings as I present Collapse )

And there we have my Savages and Savants, although there only turned out to be one Savant in the end. Well anyway I hope this has been an entertaining trawl through the racist scientific theories of the 19th century, but if not, screw you!

Man becomes embroiled in supermarket delivery service tug-of-love.

I've had a reply to my strongly-worded letter to Sir Terry Leahy, the Chief Executive of Tesco Plc, which I'll place behind this Collapse ) so that you don't have to read it. I've blacked out my address, as this is a public post, although I've left in the bit that says "Road" – I don't mind people knowing I live on a road, although please don't abuse that information, or I may be forced to move to an avenue or crescent. You'll notice that Leahy hasn't bothered replying personally – no, he's roped in some minion called Lynda Thompson. Come on Leahy, I want to talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey. Well anyway Lynda's made the schoolboy error of calling me "Mr wardytron," rather than just wardytron. You wouldn't called Sting "Mr Sting," would you. Or Skeletor "Mr Skeletor." Well I know what Leahy's up to - basically he's stalling for time, isn't he. He could easily return that quid, but no, he's got it in the bank earning interest. Right now he's making a very tidy £0.00137 each day. Oh I know it doesn't sound a lot, but if he leaves it 2 weeks it's a whopping £0.01918. Say he's got a thousand of these scams going on at any one time, he's making over 19 quid a fortnight. No wonder their profits are so high.

Well not any more, Leahy. Over the past few weeks I've been getting emails from other supermarkets, begging me to try their delivery service. Ocado, Asda, you name it. Well actually it's just those two. I don't know why they've all suddenly started fighting for my attention, but they're all clearly smitten. Of course, there's part of me that's enjoying all this. You can't deny that it's flattering to have three supermarket grocery delivery services battling it out over you. Oh I know Mumward brought us up to be chaste and not to go around flaunting our wares, but perhaps it's this very innocence of mine they find so beguiling. I mean, you can't deny I have a certain coquettish je ne sais quoi. But then, who can explain the mysteries of human attraction? Who knows what first attracted Marc Antony to Cleopatra? What was it about Juliet that so captivated Romeo? Why was it that Dollond knew he could never love anyone but Aitchison? And so on.

They've started offering me ever more grandiose and extravagant gifts, as though I was some kind of floozy whose affection was something that could be bought. A complimentary copy of the Times from Ocado, an offer of free delivery from Asda. You name it. Well actually it's just those two. But I don't want to commit myself to any one single supermarket delivery service. I'm a free spirit, I can't be tied down. It's like that quote from the Armitage Shanks Shawshank Redemption, when Andy Dufresne had finally escaped and Red's thinking about how much he misses him. What was it again? Oh yes:

Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific. Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone.

Well replace the name Andy Dufresne with wardytron, and that's me exactly, although maybe not the first bit. Well anyway the Ocado man came on Tuesday with his free Times. He suggested ordering my next delivery for a Saturday, because you get all the extra sections. He's clearly got a thing for me, I can tell. But we'll see how Leahy responds to my letter. Perhaps he'll offer me flowers, or even a voucher. 20 quid and I'm anyone's.

A strongly-worded letter to Sir Terry Leahy, Chief Executive, Tesco Plc.

I was out in Richmond out last Thursday - Richmond, Surrey I mean, not Richmond, North Yorkshire, parliamentary seat of bald former Conservative leader William Hague - meeting some friends for a drink. Well I say meeting some friends; what actually happened was I got the date wrong and they'd all gone out on the Wednesday. Apparently they'd had to change the date because johnnybrolly was seeing Madame Butterfly at the Coliseum on the Thursday. That struck me as a little odd, because I'd never had him down as someone interested in opera. I'd have thought that watching You've Been Framed with a big bowl of Twiglets was more in his line, but it just goes to show what hidden depths lurk behind that fatuous exterior. "Not many jokes," was his verdict. In fact, as it happens I made a brief attempt to get into Italian opera myself earlier this year, but it turned out to be tremendously boring. Still, I've got a copy of the 1953 Maria Callas recording of Tosca, if anyone wants it. The box is a bit battered, but the actual CDs are fine, apart from the music on them.

Well anyway, they'd texted me to say the date had changed, but I never really use my mobile other than to store old pictures of Oscar and receive the occasional message from Charlie about High Wycombe's under 13 cricket team - they won an easy victory against Taplow on June 14th, you'll be glad to hear. So I ended up in Richmond on my own. I decided to go home, but on the way I stopped off at Tesco for a bottle of South African pinotage and some of their excellent cave-aged Swiss gruyere. The bill came to a very reasonable £7.44, and, by lucky hap, I had enough change in my wallet to pay this amount. In fact between you and me, the amount of change in that wallet was causing slight discomfort in my right buttock when I sat down, it being another unswerving policy of mine to keep my wallet in my right back pocket. Well rather than telling you what happened next, I'll show you via the medium of Collapse )

As I'm sure I don't need to remind you - or I might, I don't know - we Wards have previous experience when it comes to fearless campaigns against supermarket Chief Executives. Cast your mind back to December 2006 - by which point Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham had sadly ceased to function as a recording entity - and you'll remember James Ward taking on the might of Asda Chief Executive Andy Bond in a row over couscous. Well Tesco Chief Executive Sir Terry Leahy is clearly a more formidable foe than Asda Chief Executive Andy Bond, but then I'm equally clearly a more formidable foe than James Ward, although to be fair that's not saying much. Well anyway, I'll let you know how I get on. My guess is my letter will be ignored and I will pursue the matter no further. Take that, Leahy!

Some quite fascinating information about former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire.

If you're an avid reader of the Daily Mail, a keen fan of the former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire, and in possession of an unusually good memory – it's a long shot, I grant you - then you'll probably remember this article by Kathryn Knight from April 2003. Ah, April 2003, when "Make Luv" by Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham topped the charts. Who can forget its haunting, timeless melody, or indeed that of "Music And You," also by Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham, which reached no. 38 in December of that year, the fortunes of Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham sadly having fallen into steep decline? Well anyway, that's enough about Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham – the last thing we want to do is get bogged down in fondly nostalgic reminiscences about Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham, we'd be here all day. So let us leave aside Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham, as I fear we must, and return to the topic at hand, which as you may recall is this article by Kathryn Knight from April 2003, and not Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham.

Well anyway, the article contains some quite fascinating information about former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire, not least of which is the fact that she lives in Twickenham. This wouldn't have been of interest to me back in 2003, of course. Back then I was living in Brighton, and in any case all I cared about in 2003 was the sweet, sweet sound of Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham. But now I too live in Twickenham, and take a keen interest in local minor celebrities such as Lynn Faulds Wood and John Stapleton, inventor Trevor Bayliss, and Eastenders webcam sex shame shock scandal actor and convicted murderer Leslie Grantham. I like the middling level of success they all represent, and was quite disappointed when recently I saw Pete Townshend coming out of a barber's shop near Richmond Bridge. Obviously my first thought was what an easy gig he must be for any barber, having such little hair. He'd be in and out in 5 minutes, and probably tips quite generously as well. Any barber who's managed to bag Townshend as a customer, I thought to myself, has got it made. Oliver Cheatham on the other hand is completely bald, and would be of no use in that respect.

But let's not dwell on Oliver Cheatham, it was Pete Townshend I was talking about. I felt his – Pete Townshend's, not Oliver Cheatham's - 4 decades as guitarist and principal songwriter for The Who lent him a status way beyond that of other local celebrities. Of course longevity in pop music is something to be applauded, but it's not the be-all and end-all. The career of Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham, for example, was over all too quickly, but then, is it not said that it's the brightest stars that burn out fastest? Well anyway, the point is I considered that Pete Townshend had raised the tone of local celebrity to a level I wasn't comfortable with, and that something needed to be done to lower it again. We needed somebody like Sarah Lancashire, for as Kathryn Knight's article explains:

Despite being one of television's best-known actresses, she is rarely seen at high-profile showbusiness parties. She is more likely to be spotted, her face bare of make-up, walking the aisles of her local Tesco, dressed casually in jeans and a sweatshirt.
Well last Sunday I too happened to be in that very Tesco, when who did I see but former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire! Her face was bare of make-up and she was dressed casually in jeans and a sweatshirt. She bought 20 Silk Cut silver and the News of the World, and I considered the tone duly lowered. Of course the News of the World was the paper that broke the Leslie Grantham webcam sex shame shock scandal back in 2004. I remember thinking at the time, what rotten luck for Leslie, to be happily exposing himself on a webcam, innocently enough, as we all do, to an undercover reporter from the News of the World. Of all the professions you could expose yourself on a webcam to, undercover reporter from the News of the World has to be one of the worst. Of course 2004 was also, I need scarcely remind you, the year that Room 5 released their final single, "U Got Me." It failed to break the top 40, but then what do you expect? It didn't even feature Oliver Cheatham.

Man inadvertently influences Buckinghamshire under 13's cricket league. Or does he?

I received a text message a few weeks ago from a number I didn't recognise. It read: "Unfortunately tomorrows u13 cricket has been cancelled as they are unable to raise a team. Cheers charlie". Naturally my first reaction was dismay at Charlie's sloppy grasp of punctuation and laziness in failing to capitalise proper nouns. We Wards are perfectionists, as you know, and I insist on always using the correct spelling and punctuation in my text messages. Oh I know what you're thinking – you're thinking, "But wardytron, I've received text messages from you before, and I know for a fact that you don't use a double space after a full stop". Well that's perfectly true, however in my defence I'd point out that the convention of double-spacing following a full stop developed as an aid to readability in the early 20th Century for documents produced on typewriters. Now that we have modern sans-serif fonts this is no longer necessary, and a single space is considered acceptable. On hearing this I imagine you'd say something like "oh". Well anyway, the natural reaction of any decent, public-spirited individual who received a text message like this would be to reply to Charlie, telling him he'd got the wrong number. So of course I did nothing, with the probable result that some poor kid or other ended up going to the under 13's cricket only to find no-one else there.

Well after that I forgot all about Charlie and the under 13's cricket, until the Monday before last when I received another text from him. This one read "Sorrybout the late notice but the under 13's have got cricket match tomorrow against dinton at old barkley in marsh at 6.Is jack available?Charlie". Again I was dismayed at Charlie's shoddy English. Again I failed to respond to his message, but this time I was intrigued. I wanted to know who Charlie was and what team he represented. I googled "Dinton cricket club" and found the under 13's fixtures. On Monday 1st June they'd played a match against High Wycombe. This was the match that Jack was to have played in, but didn't, through my frankly shocking negligence and thoughtlessness. Well by this stage I was worried – still not worried enough to bother telling Charlie he'd got the wrong number, but worried enough to want to make sure High Wycombe hadn't lost because of me. On the Dinton cricket club's website I found the match reports for the under 13's. Someone called "andyjwill" had written a report of the match against High Wycombe. It began:

Another glorious Monday night saw us take on Wycombe, which, on paper appeared to be the toughest game we will face in the league. Both teams were unbeaten going into the game so this would prove to be an important game in deciding who takes league honours.
"andyjwill" didn't use double-spacing after a full stop either, I noticed, but that wasn't important now, and besides, the convention of double-spacing following a full stop developed as an aid to readability in the early 20th Century for documents produced on typewriters, and now that we have modern sans-serif fonts this is no longer necessary, and a single space is considered acceptable, as we've already established.

Well Dinton batted first, according to andyjwill, and lost a couple of early wickets and were in some trouble, however Humza stroked the ball around beautifully before retiring on 31. He was ably assisted through the order by Dom (17 not out) and Callum (9 not out). In the end they posted 132-6 off of 20 overs which was very respectable. But how would High Wycombe respond, depleted by the absence of Jack, because I couldn't be bothered to tell Charlie he'd got the wrong number? As andyjwill pointed out, defending Dinton's total was going to be difficult on a lightningly fast outfield and superb batting track. Surely High Wycombe could overcome the disadvantage I'd inadvertently created for them. But no! They only managed a total of 118-5. Dinton won by 14 runs, and it was all my fault! Or was it? I had to put my mind at ease and ascertain whether High Wycombe would have won if Jack had played. I found a page showing High Wycombe's under 13 squad. Jack's full name was Jack Maciver. There was another page showing his statistics. Since 2007 he's played in 8 league games for High Wycombe, scoring a total of 26 runs at an average of 5.2. Phew, he's shite.

Fatuous man discusses forthcoming elections in typically inane fashion.

I don't know about you, but I'm so excited about this week's European elections I'm even considering voting in them. Imagine that! Of course, participating in an election is a serious business, and one should never do so without making a careful assessment of the various candidates and their policies. Personally I was planning to vote for the Liberal Democrats on the grounds that one of their candidates is called Dinti Batstone, but I thought it might be interesting to do some more detailed research into who's standing. Then I realised it probably wouldn't be interesting to do some more detailed research into who's standing, but decided to do it anyway, because that's the sort of person I am – the sort of person who thinks it might be interesting to do some detailed research into who's standing in the European elections then realises it probably won't be, but does it anyway. Well I found a list of the names and addresses for all the candidates for the London constituency, and one of the first things I noticed was that one of the BNP candidates, Christopher Forster, lives near my vet's. I could pop in next time I'm taking Oscar or Rufus there, and introduce them. They're pure-breed dogs with traceable ancestry, so I'm sure he'd appreciate that.

I didn't really want to vote for the BNP though – I can't imagine they'd be much use in the European Parliament, and probably wouldn't get on with all the foreigners, not like Dinti Batstone, who speaks six languages. So I kept scrolling down the list and the No2EU: Yes to Democracy party caught my eye. The thing is, one of their candidates is called John Hendy, which as you may remember was the name of the bald one out of East 17. That's just the type of person we need in the European Parliament, I thought. Someone to stand around behind Tony Mortimer and Brian Harvey, wearing a backwards baseball cap and making odd shapes with this hands. But then I found out it was a different John Hendy, so I lost interest, although not before looking up the East 17 John Hendy on Wikipedia. According to his page there he has a daughter called Justice, whose name he chose "because he did not believe there was enough justice in this world." However please note that citation is needed for this fact.

I was also mildly tempted by Socialist Labour, because – no, hear me out – because two of their candidates are the husband and wife team of Colin & Linda Muir, of 106 Summergangs Drive, Thorngumbald, East Yorkshire HU12 9PW. I thought it might be interesting to elect one of them – either Colin or Linda, I'm not fussed – so that one would have to go to Strasbourg, leaving the other behind in Thorngumbald. I wanted to see what strain that might put on their marriage. I can imagine it being quite a culture shock moving from Thorngumbald to Strasbourg, because the Wikipedia Page for Thorngumbald says it only has 5 shops - Boots, Dixons butchers, Bridgemans News, Da Vinci's Fish and Chips and Spar. This fact does not require citation, you'll be pleased to learn. Here's a picture of Thorngumbald. Its title is "Main Road looking East":

Anyway the other good thing about Socialist Labour is one of its candidates, Amanda May Rose, lives only 5 minutes away from me, even closer than Christopher Forster. This came as a bit of a surprise though, because I didn't realise that St Margarets actually allowed socialism among its residents. I wonder if I ought to pop round and warn her neighbours. But then I saw there was also the Socialist Party of Great Britain. I wanted to know the difference between them and Socialist Labour, so I looked on the FAQs page on their website and found this:

The World Socialist Movement talks of a moneyless society; does that mean we'll use the barter system?

In a socialist society, there will be no money and no barter. Goods will be voluntarily produced, and services voluntarily supplied to meet people's needs. People will freely take the things they need.
Well I couldn't believe my luck. I mean, instead of having to pay £6.99 in Oddbins for Ferngrove Estate Shiraz 2007, it would be free. And the people at Ferngrove Estate in Western Australia would work for free, and the people who shipped it over to the UK would work for free, and the staff in Oddbins would work for free, all of them providing their services voluntarily to meet my needs. It almost sounded too good to be true. Well as you know, we Wards deplore cynicism, and as Dadward always used to say, "If you can't trust the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who can you trust?", but I think I might stick with Dinti Batstone – did you know she speaks six languages? But if the Socialist Party of Great Britain do win, the Ferngrove Estate Shiraz 2007 is on me!

Man writes 820 words mostly about cereal, remains unrepentant.

Outside Waterloo station in the mornings you often get people handing out free samples of some new product or other. I never take one, because I'm worried about looking like a cheapskate. If they charged money for the sample – ideally it would be too much money, like a fiver or something – then I might be interested, but it always seems a bit undignified to me, scurrying over to get some free food. It reminds me of UN aid convoys in Africa, giving out sacks of grain. I imagine if I was in some famine-hit country somewhere in Africa and there was a UN aid convoy there handing out sacks of grain I'd be standing off to one side, worried about looking like a cheapskate. "Emergency supplies!" they'd say. "No thanks," I'd say. "I'm fine." Then I'd starve to death. But at least I'd look dignified. And thin. Anyway the other morning they were handing out samples of a new breakfast cereal called "Curiously Cinnamon." Well obviously I didn't take one, but this time it wasn't only because I didn't want to look cheap. It was the name. If something's going to taste of cinnamon I don't want that to be a source of curiosity. I want it to taste of cinnamon on purpose. The name Curiously Cinnamon made me think of people standing around in the manufacturers' head office, tasting it and saying, "That's odd, this tastes of cinnamon." "Why, is it not supposed to?" "No, there's no cinnamon in at all. "But it still tastes of cinnamon?" "Yes, there's a really strong taste of cinnamon - here, try some." "God, you're right, it really does taste of cinnamon." "How strange", and so on.

Well how the hell are you supposed to trust a product like that? The makers don't have the faintest idea what's going. Their whole organisation is clearly a shambles. So I walked on, passing the group of homeless alcoholics who gather each morning outside Waterloo to drink White Lightning. Not the 3 litre bottles – they were discontinued in 2004 by the makers, Scottish Courage, in order to promote responsible drinking. No, I mean the 2 litre bottles – that's what they go for, all except one who drinks Stella Artois. Presumably he'd seen those adverts saying that Stella was "reassuringly expensive" and thought that drinking Stella Artois at 9am would put him a cut above the others. Well either way, I don't really approve of this kind of behaviour – I mean, we Wards are tolerant, broadminded types as you know, but I think it's wrong. The thing is, cider isn't an appropriate choice for boozing at that time of day. No, you want a Bloody Mary, don't you, because it's a fruit juice, but with vodka in it. Either that or Champagne. Champagne is my favourite breakfast booze, but I tend to save it for special occasions, like on Christmas Day when for breakfast I always have champagne and oysters.

I didn't always have such lavish Christmas Day breakfasts, mind you. No, when I was young – and my heart was an open book – Mumward used to buy a box of Kelloggs Variety for our Christmas Day breakfast. The rest of the year we'd have Somerfield own brand cornflakes, or Somerfield own brand rice crispies, so as you can imagine Kelloggs Variety seemed quite exotic at the time, quite a delicacy. It's not though – I've checked the Tesco website and it costs £1.49. Well on Christmas Day my sister and I would race each other to get the Coco Pops, that being naturally the most coveted item in the Kelloggs Variety box. It wasn't so bad if you didn't get the Coco Pops, because there were always Ricicles as a consolation prize. We were happy enough with this system until, tragically, James Ward was born, and there were now three of us competing for only two cereals. Well something had to give, and eventually my sister and I moved out – oh it wasn't only because of the Kelloggs Variety situation, don't think that. No, we were in our twenties and felt it was time to move on. I suppose I must resent having had Kelloggs Variety presented as some kind of luxury item for all those years, as though it was what Alan Whicker or someone always had for breakfast, because I haven't so much as touched a box in all those years. And if I'm diagnosed with a deficiency of Maize, Sugar, Barley Malt Flavouring, Salt, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 you'll know why.

Well anyway, I decided to find out more about Curiously Cinnamon. If the cinnamon taste was some kind of fluke – some by-product of an accident in the lab – then the public had a right to know. I mean, this could be worse than Sellafield. It turns out they're Cinnamon Grahams. They've changed the name.