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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.
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?
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 SAVAGE or SAVANT: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!
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 cutCollapse ) 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.
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 a strongly-worded letter to Sir Terry Leahy, Chief Executive, Tesco PlcCollapse )

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!
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.
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.
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!
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.

Man sees Davina McCall in reception.

I saw Davina McCall in reception the other day – you know, from the Garnier Nutrisse adverts. I don't know whether Davina is going prematurely grey, or whether she's just tremendously indecisive, but whatever the reason, she's always dying her hair, and the brand of colourant she uses for this is Garnier Nutrisse. Because as Davina says, "nutrisse means nourish" (it does, it's Italian). Well anyway, in the latest advert Davina's on the phone to her mum, which personally I find rather unprofessional, I mean you wouldn't get George Aligiah on the phone to his mum while reading the news, would you. If you ask me Davina should have said "Look mum, can I call you back? I'm doing an advert for Garnier Nutrisse. Nutrisse, it's Italian, it means nourish. It's a type of hair dye. What? No, I'm just just tremendously indecisive."

Anyway after that she announces the nations's favourite shade of Nutrisse - Shade of the Nation, they call it –- which I think Garnier could have made much more of a big deal out of. I mean, the Mercury Music Prize gets a star-studded, televised awards ceremony at the Grosvenor Hotel. The Turner Prize gets a live broadcast from Tate Britain. So I hope the next time the Shade of the Nation is announced it's at a televised awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall or somewhere, attended by all the nation's top hair stylists. You know, like Nicky Clarke, and all the other ones. Well if you don't know which shade won Shade of the Nation, imagine you're at the Royal Albert Hall or somewhere, surrounded by all the nation's top hair stylists, like Nicky Clarke and all the other ones, and click on the "play" button below:

Well of course, it was Light Mahogany Chestnut, but what confuses me about that advert is where Davina says, "No wonder it's the nation's favourite; it's my favourite too." What does she mean by that? Is she saying she knew it would win because she rigged the results to make her favourite shade win? No, I refuse to believe such as thing - as you know, we Wards deplore cynicism, and as Dadward always used to say, "If you can't trust Davina McCall, who can you trust?" No, the only possible explanation is that Davina has, somehow, turned into a barometer of national opinion. Whatever opinion Davina happens to hold, that will also be the most widely held opinion among the nation. So if Davina's favourite shade of Nutrisse is Light Mahogany Chestnut, then of course that will also be the nation's favourite shade. If my theory's true – and I'm sure you'll agree all the evidence suggests it is – then if you want to know Davina's opinion on something, all you need to do is consult an opinion poll on that topic and see what the most widely held view is.

Well I decided to test this out, using the opinion polls on the Daily Mail website and some weird thing called whatthenationthinks.com. Using this method I've so far discovered that Davina believes that fat people shouldn't be entitled to NHS treatment, that Princess Diana's death was a plot, and that all immigration should be halted immediately. Davina is also in favour of capital punishment, believes that Islam should be banned, and that aid to Africa should cease. This is particularly sad, as it makes a mockery of her work for Comic Relief. Davina also believes that Hull City's star man this season has been Brazilian midfield ace Geovanni.

But enough about Davina McCall, and her frankly extremist views, what do you think? If, like me, you weren't consulted when Garnier Nutrisse were finding out the Shade of the Nation, and consider this a grave injustice, now's your chance to make your voice heard. Under the cut below there are 15 shades of Nutrisse, and all you need to do is vote for your favourite. Assuming anyone bothers to vote, I haven't actually decide what I'll do with the results, so I've added a text box for your suggestions. Anyway, happy voting, if you bother!

Shade of the Livejournal NationCollapse )
I was in Crown newsagents, 187 Richmond Road, Twickenham TW1 2NJ on Saturday morning, buying a can of Fanta Icy Lemon. It's not my favourite lemon-based soft drink by any means; that's San Pellegrino Limonata, but they don't sell that in Crown newsagents, and Fanta Icy Lemon was the closest equivalent. Well anyway the man in front of me had just bought a Daily Telegraph but noticed that the magazine section was missing, and mentioned this to the man behind the till, who responded by telling him they hadn't had any delivered. This was very deft newsagency work, I thought, withholding that information until after the purchase had been completed. I could tell the customer really wanted the magazine section, and if he'd known in advance that it was missing would have gone to Modi's newsagents at 47 King Street Parade, Twickenham TW1 3SG and tried his luck there. Being English, he did his best to hide his crestfallen state, and retreated, attempting to look like someone who didn't want the magazine section anyway.

John McEnroe would never have stood for this, I thought. No, he'd have shouted "You cannot be serious!", had his Daily Telegraph not included the magazine section. "You are the absolute pits of the world!", he'd have added, on learning that the Gardening supplement was also missing. Then he'd have gone to Modi's newsagents at 47 King Street Parade, Twickenham TW1 3SG, and tried his luck there. Well anyway the reason I was in Crown newsagents, blowing 55p on their closest equivalent to San Pellegrino Limonata was because I need to get rid of some change. I've been going through a run of bad luck in the change department lately, leading to a build up of change in my wallet. You know how it is – transactions that come to £8.73 where you don't have the 73, or you do but realise too late, stuff like that. Oh I know some people save their change, or give it to the homeless, but to me that's just poor change husbandry. No, I like to keep on top of mine, but owing to this run of bad luck by Saturday morning I had a ten pound note plus five pound coins, one 50p piece, three 10p's, three 5p's, two 2p's and eight 1p's. I think it's the absence of any 20p's that had contributed to the problem - it's just a theory, mind you.

Well anyway the thing is, I keep my wallet in my back pocket, and a wallet with five pound coins, one 50p piece, three 10p's, three 5p's, two 2p's and eight 1p's in it makes for some quite uncomfortable sitting down. If you knew the discomfort my right buttock has been through over the last couple of weeks you'd be rushing to offer me a massage. Incidentally, about this massage, I don't suppose you do, you know, I don't suppose, cough, I don't suppose you do, you know, "extras"? Ok fine, forget I mentioned it. So I went to Waitrose. I needed a couple of things for lunch, and I thought Waitrose would be the ideal place to get rid of some change.

I bought a bottle of Porcupine Ridge Syrah, a bag of "sea salt with a black pepper shock" crunchy potato bites (highly recommended), a bag of radishes (33% extra free was the clincher there), some closed cap mushrooms, 6 Columbian Blacktail hens' eggs and a bag of wild rocket. "Ha!", I thought. "Let's see what's left of the five pound coins, one 50p piece, three 10p's, three 5p's, two 2p's and eight 1p's after that!" Well you can imagine my excitement as the woman on the checkout scanned each item and the prices totted up. Every bleep of the till meant less change for me, and less need for you to do that massage that you were rushing to offer. As the final item went through the scanner I opened my wallet, wondering how much the total would be, and how much change I was going to be able to get rid of. It came to £10.01. I'll just pop my trousers on the back of the chair, shall I?
Hello, as odd is this might sound, I'm asking for advice from my friendslist, which as you know includes the likes of, well I won't name names, but let's just say it's hardly a collection of the finest minds of their generation, is it. I mean, for heaven's sake, it's got publicansdecoy on it, and smogo, but I said I wouldn't name names, didn't I, so that's enough of that. And fugitivemotel, I mean honestly, it's enough to make you weep.

Anyway the point is - brain_opera, that's another one – the point is I need a new MP3 player – you know, those fancy electronic walkmans where you don't even need a tape. I'm not sure exactly how they work, but I think atoms might be involved, something like that. Well my current one doesn't work any more – I think the atoms might be tired, because I've had it about 5 years – so I'm looking at possible replacements. The old one is an iRiver iHP-120, but I understand there's a device called an iPod, which I believe is quite popular, and one version of it has an incredible 120gb of atoms. What I want to know is, is it very, very easy to use? All I want is for it to play music, I don't want to watch films or store photographs or anything, but I do need quite a lot of gigabytes, because I keep buying loads of jazz CDs – not jazz mags, stop thinking about them.

Anyway, they're quite expensive – 120gb iPods, not jazz mags, although I was in a newsagents the other day that was selling jazz mags for £4.95. £4.95! Do they think I'm made of money? – so I want to be sure that it's a good idea to buy one. Is it a good idea to buy one, or is there some other fancy electronic walkman where you don't even need a tape that you can recommend?

Victory Announcement Update! I've bought a Creative Zen. I hope I haven't upset any iPod fans, but the Zen looked easier to use, which was the most important point. Next week: Twix or Aero?
Hello, if you'll permit me to use the term, although it would be a bit weird if you didn't, wouldn't it, I mean I'm only saying "hello", I'm not asking you to take your top off or anything, no, that comes later. Anyway the point is, it's Mumward's birthday this weekend, and as part of her present I'm lovingly wasting time at work recreating an album she and Dadward used to own in the early 80s. It was released on K-Tel under catalogue no. NE 1072, which I'm sure you'll recognise as a compilation titled "Good Morning America". Well the thing is I only have 2 of the tracks on MP3, so if you have any of the following and you wouldn't mind emailing them to wardytron@gmail.com I would be mildly grateful, which I'm sure you'll agree is all the reward you could possibly want.

Arlo Guthrie: City Of New Orleans
Kris Kristofferson: Me And Bobby McGee
James Taylor: Handy Man
Billy Swan: I Can Help
Albert Hammond: It Never Rains In Southern California
Blood, Sweat And Tears: You've Made Me So Very Happy
Ian Matthews: Brown Eyed Girl (the Van Morrison song, obviously, but by someone called Ian Matthews, for some reason)
The Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man
Sonny & Cher: I Got You Babe
Scott Mckenzie: San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Something or Other in Your Hair)
Joan Baez: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Janis Ian: At Seventeen
Mamas & The Papas: Dedicated To The One I Love
Randy Edleman: Uptown, Uptempo Woman
Melanie: Ruby Tuesday
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show: Life Ain't Easy

I mean, I could always pay to download them, which I don't mind doing, at least I don't mind the expense, but I've never actually downloaded music before, so it would require learning a new skill.

In other news, you know I mentioned a while back that fille_a_paris and I had the very proud honour of living close to the headquarters of Lynn Faulds Wood's Bowel Cancer Campaign? What's that? You don't remember that I mentioned a while back that fille_a_paris and I have the very proud honour of living close to the headquarters of Lynn Faulds Wood's Bowel Cancer Campaign? Well I did, I mentioned a while back that fille_a_paris and I had the very proud honour of living close to the headquarters of Lynn Faulds Wood's Bowel Cancer Campaign. Well anyway, now it's established that fille_a_paris and I have the very proud honour of living close to the headquarters of Lynn Faulds Wood's Bowel Cancer Campaign, I was walking past there on Sunday and saw this in the window:

Well the thing is, I don't want to sound overly suspicious, or to implicate Lynn Faulds Wood in anything - as you know, we Wards deplore cynicism, and as Dadward always used to say, "If you can't trust Lynn Faulds Wood, who can you trust?" – but I'm beginning to wonder Lynn's campaign is staffed by some very sick people; perverts, basically – oh, you're welcome to take your top off now, by the way – who are using it to encourage people to go in and talk about their bowels. It's at 39 Crown Road, Twickenham TW1 1EJ in case you're interested.

I thought perhaps Lynn could make an album as well, to raise funds for her campaign. It could include "Great Bowels of Fire", "Tubular Bowels", and "Bowels Bowels Bowels" by Destiny's Child, but then I got bored of thinking up song titles with the word "bowel" in them, and frankly I'd had enough of the whole subject of bowels, unlike those sickos at 39 Crown Road, Twickenham TW1 1EJ. Anyway, please send me MP3s if you have them, thank you.
I went out for lunch last weekend with Mumward, James Ward and James Ward's girlfriend Alexa. Mumward had phoned me and said she thought it might be a nice idea if the four of us went out and Mumward and I split the bill. Immediately I saw a glaring flaw in this plan, but because I didn't want to appear mean I agreed. Then as soon as I'd finished speaking to Mumward I phoned James Ward and told him to say No, because that's the sort of person I am - the sort of person who doesn't want to appear mean, but who actually is mean.

Well James Ward happily accepted the offer, like the sponging bastard he is, and so I set out to buy him lunch. On the way there I remembered the restaurant we were going to was one where I'd once seen Hugh Grant. Except although I could picture Hugh Grant and knew his first name was Hugh, I couldn't remember his surname. I could remember all manner of ancillary Hugh Grant facts, like the fact that the famous dress Liz Hurley wore to the première of Four Weddings and a Funeral was by Versace, and the fact that when Gianni Versace was murdered by a gunman the headline on the front of the Daily Sport was "Shoots You, Sir." I could remember that Four Weddings and a Funeral also starred James Fleet, Simon Callow, John Hannah and Charlotte Coleman, who died of an asthma attack, and who was in the sitcom How Do You Want Me?, which also starred Dylan Moran and Peter Serafinowicz. I could remember how to spell "Serafinowicz." I could also remember the names of other famous Hughs – Hugh Laurie, Hugh Dennis, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Antiques Roadshow host Hugh Scully, subject of Catatonia's 1998 no. 3 hit single "Mulder and Scully", and lookey-likey of that bit at the end of Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader takes his mask off:

I wondered very briefly whether Huw Edwards counted and decided he didn't. Basically I was able to describe all sorts of things about Hugh Grant, but without actually being able to remember his name. Then it occurred to me how very different my plight was from that of Ce Ce Peniston in her 1992 hit single "Finally." Ce Ce's problem, if you remember, was that she couldn't describe things. "If you only knew," sang Ce Ce, "the way I feel about you, I just can't describe it," before launching into the chorus, "Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face my feelings can't describe it/Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face and I just cannot hide it."

Ce Ce's problem, I realised, was that she had no adjectives. Oh she was fine with conjunctions, pronouns, verbs, prepositions, nouns and adverbs, but she had no way of describing the thing that had happened. Well I thought I'd try and help Ce Ce out. You probably weren't paying attention – and to be honest, who can blame you? - but I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes lately. Putting myself in his shoes I assembled the facts before me and set about unravelling the mystery. All I had to work on was Ce Ce's account of the events, so I had no option but to take her word on trust. As you know, we Wards deplore cynicism, and as Dadward always used to say, "If you can't trust Ce Ce Peniston, who can you trust?" Well anyway, all I knew for sure was that something had happened to Ce Ce Peniston, something she was unable to describe. That, and the location where the Something happened: right in front of her face. "Hmm," I pondered. "Peniston, in front of her face. Peniston, in front of her face." And then it hit me – of course! Divine Brown! In the car! With Hugh Grant.

You can imagine the relief. For me, I mean, not Hugh Grant. Stop imagining that. Anyway, this weekend promises to be even more exciting. fille_a_paris is having some ladyfriends round for something she's calling "Cocktails and Cakes." My job, as far as I can make out, is to assist with cooking, and then, because it's Ladies Only, to Go Away, only not so far away that I can't be called back at short notice in case anyone needs to be fetched from the station, or they run out of booze or there are any other errands that need doing. I've suggested standing outside, weeping with my face pressed up against the window, holding a crust of stale bread and a cup of water. It'll be just like Christmas at Ward HQ!

Curtis's Christmas Carol

Well I don't know about you, but I've been buying a lot of presents lately. I seem to do a lot of that sort of thing this time of year, I can't think why. Buying online is my tried and trusted method, since it means you're never forced to listen to Jona Lewie's "Stop The Cavalry" in shops. Of course you have to be careful about what you're buying, don’t you, and if someone asks for something specific make sure you've got the exact details. I mean last year I got James Ward a DVD called "The Coprophiles". Not the sort of thing I'd have asked for, obviously, but we Wards are tolerant, broadminded types as you know - so long as you don't count Dadward and one or two of the others - and if he wanted a DVD called "The Coprophiles" who was I to judge?

Well there we all were at Ward HQ exchanging presents, and as I gave it to him Mumward said to me, "What's that you've got him?" "Oh," I said, "just a DVD." "What sort of DVD?" "Oh, nothing you'd be interested in." "No, go on, what is it?" "JUST DROP IT," I told her. Well he unwrapped his present and gave a horrified look. "What did you get me this for?" he demanded to know. "It's what you asked for, isn't it?" I said. "No," he said, "The Rockford Files." The thing is, I remember when I'd asked him what he wanted I'd thought at the time how odd it was that just after telling me how much he liked The Rockford Files, and how he had all the DVDs except one, he'd asked me to buy him something called "The Coprophiles." But as it turned out he enjoyed it anyway, so all's well that ends well.

Well anyway, if you cast your mind – what there is of it – back to the 10th of July – 4 days before Bastille Day, if that helps – you may remember that I posted a cartoon here called "Curtis's Tigers". It was so popular that one or two people even said they quite liked it, the kind of extravagant praise which could easily go to one's head, but which I accepted with my customary humility. Anyway I thought it might be a good idea to do a Christmas version. But then, in a quite extraordinary turn of events, I realised that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to do a Christmas version, but decided to do one anyway. I can offer no explanation for this, and merely present the results: Curtis's Christmas CarolCollapse )
I recently bought the Complete Sherlock Holmes Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It normally retails at £5.99, but I got it on Amazon Marketplace for 1p, which I think is pretty good value. I mean you can't really haggle very much from 1p, can you. It's 1,408 pages, so I'm confident I'll finish it within the next 2 or 3 years or so. Well I was enjoying it so much – I'm already on about page 28 of A Study In Scarlet, so that's only 1,380 to go – that last weekend I also bought myself a Sherlock Holmes mug, here it is look:

It wasn't such brilliant value as the book, costing £9.95, but to be fair to the shop I bought it from they were very careful not to give any hint as to the price until the point at which I was paying, thereby cleverly rendering me in the invidious position of having to choose between paying £9.95 for a mug or publicly inviting the conclusion that this was somehow beyond my means. Well as an alpha male I could never allow that, so without crying even slightly I handed over a ten pound note and took the mug. The following Monday I brought it into work – I don't have much cause for using mugs at home, my preferred drinking vessel invariably being a wine glass – and until Thursday I supped from it every conceivable variety of caffeinated hot beverage, running the full gamut from tea to coffee and back again, to tea, from coffee. But on Thursday morning – having completed the Stairs Challenge in a record time of 2 minutes 50.86 seconds – I discovered to my horror that the mug was missing.

Frantically I searched the mug cupboard, but in vain. And how ironic, I thought, bitterly, that a mug celebrating fiction's most famous crime fighter should itself turn out to be the object of such villainy. The following day I had cause to send out 20 or so letters, the contents of which need not concern us here. I did this in batches of 4 or 5, each time taking a different route to the "out" tray so that I might scan my colleagues' desks and identify the culprit. For make no mistake, nobody was beyond suspicion now. But again it was in vain. Yesterday morning – 3 minutes 44, but to be fair it was a Monday – I arrived half an hour early, my reasoning being that perhaps the mug hadn't been stolen but merely borrowed, and if I was the first person in then the miscreant wouldn't have the opportunity to borrow my mug again. Yet again though my actions proved fruitless. There was only one thing for it – a curse. After some searching online I found this:

"Aha", I thought. "That's the kind of thing I'm after". But which type of black curse was most suitable? There was the Destroy Enemy Black Curse, which "brings your enemy to their knees, filling them with an overwhelming sense of loss, fear, regret, and unhappiness", the Heartbreak Black Curse, which "causes depression, self-doubt, and heartbreak in your enemy who wishes they had never been born", and the Doomed-To-Fail Black Curse, which "zeroes in on partnerships, friendships, marriage, etc, causing monumental differences that can never be repaired". But then I found the Ultimate Revenge Black Curse. This promised to inflict monumental revenge on my enemy, making them suffer tenfold the pain and consequences they'd inflicted on me. Imagine that, I thought. They'll lose TEN mugs!

But obviously Black Curses are a serious business and not to be entered into lightly, so this morning just to be absolutely sure I was doing the right thing I made my most thorough search yet for the Missing Mug. It was in the other cupboard.
I was on Oxford Street on Sunday, buying shoes. Oh I know what you're thinking – you're thinking, "ooh, new shoes, how exciting". And of course normally you'd be right, for the purchase of a new pair of shoes is almost always a happy occasion and I can't be the only person who thinks that instead of half-heartedly trying to interest you in polishes and protective lotions the staff in shoe shops would do far better to offer you a glass of champagne, in celebration of the joyful event. Sadly however, on this occasion my exuberance was dampened by the fact that I was having to replace the Jeffery West boots which Tom, of Tom's Shoe Repairs, had pronounced dead the previous weekend. He'd shaken his head, had Tom, and told me there was nothing he could do. He knew how I was feeling, because he'd once spilled a pot of paint over a pair of Jeffery West boots, and hadn't been able to rescue them either. Well I didn't want to weep in front of Tom, even if our shared heartbreak had brought us closer together, so I thanked him and returned home to set about the grim but unavoidable task of finding a new pair.

I'd bought the original boots in 2004 and spent £180 on them – this was and remains the only time I'd ever spent more than £100 on shoes, but of course that was before the credit thing – you know, the financial something, whatever it is. Well anyway, in the current economic climate I was worried that such an extravagance might be deemed rather vulgar and ostentatious, and turn the public against me, like Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. Oh I know what you're thinking – you thinking, "but wardytron, the public loves you, everyone knows that". But the public can be fickle, as we all know, and I didn't want to take any chances of negative headlines in the Daily Mail – "MAN BUYS EXPENSIVE SHOES IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE" is the sort of thing I can do well without. Also, I'm quite mean, so I decided to economise somewhat, eventually finding the shoes below for a bargain £55 in Barratt:

Well as I say, I went to Oxford Street on Sunday to buy them, remaining unfailingly polite to the staff in the shop despite their insistence on half-heartedly trying to interest me in polishes and protective lotions instead of offering me a glass of champagne. As I was leaving I noticed a distinguished looking man of about 70, white-haired and dressed in a Prince of Wales check overcoat and green corduroy trousers. There was an affluent look about him, and on his arm was a much younger woman, in her 30s, and of southeast Asian appearance, possibly from Thailand or the Philippines.

Well naturally I didn't want to leap to any unsavoury conclusions; after all I knew nothing about this couple other than their immediate appearance and had no knowledge of the details of their particular association and it would have been quite wrong to start bandying around terms such as "mail order bride" and so on. It was wholly unacceptable to make such a supposition based on nothing but prejudice, when for all I knew he could have been the one that was after her money. So I resolved to dismiss these offensive preconceptions and to assume that, despite whatever outward appearances and an age gap of thirty to forty years might suggest, theirs was a partnership of equals; a partnership based not on money but on mutual affection and respect. At that exact moment she turned to him, smiled and squawked, "WHAT YOU GONNA BUY ME?"

I've gone and made another bloody cartoon.

As you probably remember - or perhaps you don't, I don't care - last month I saw Lynn Faulds Woods in St Margarets. Well anyway, if you do - and please remember that I don't care whether you do or not - then you might also remember - and if you don't then I don't care about that either - that I've taken to calling it Little Hollywood, despite there being negligible grounds for doing so. Well that might have been the case last month, but since then I've also seen none other than Lynn's celebrity husband John Stapleton! I think this means I've got the set, and am now entitled to build hotels on Lynn Faulds Wood and John Stapleton, but in the current economic climate I'm not entirely sure that that's a good idea, although on the other hand in the current economic climate this might be the ideal time to build hotels on Lynn Faulds Wood and John Stapleton, I really don't know, but that's probably because I don't understand what's going on.

Well anyway, seeing John Stapleton naturally set me googling for exciting John Stapleton facts - well, John Stapleton facts, anyway - and imagine how thrilled I was to discover this article entitled "John Stapleton and his Yin Yang Love Ducks". Then imagine my dismay when I noticed that "John Stapleton and his Yin Yang Love Ducks" might be a good idea for a cartoon, then realised that it probably wouldn't be a good idea for a cartoon, but knew deep down that I was bound to make one anyway, because that's the bloody sort of person I am, isn't it. The sort of person who notices that "John Stapleton and his Yin Yang Love Ducks" might be a good idea for a cartoon, then realises that it probably won't be a good idea for a cartoon, but knows deep down that he's bound to make one anyway. So as you may have guessed - and believe me, I'm no more pleased about this than you are - I've gone and made another bloody cartoon.

Another bloody cartoon.Collapse )

Well that's that over with. But unfortunately John isn't the only megastar I've seen recently. No, last week outside Waterloo Station I also saw none other than ugly Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall! Mick was wearing a very expensive looking navy blue double-breasted pinstripe suit, except I couldn't help noticing how long Mick's legs were compared to his torso. Here's an artist's impression of what he looked like, although please bear in mind it's not a very good artist's impression, because the artist was me. Well anyway, it looked as though he was wearing little stilts under his trousers, and I couldn't help thinking that "Mick Hucknall's Little Stilts" might be a good idea for a cartoon. Then I realised it wasn't.
It's been so long since my last Livejournal entry that there's been an actual war since then. Not a proper one, mind you, just something to keep the Russians match-fit. Also since my last Livejournal entry I've been charged by the police with four separate offences after Oscar decided to chase after some deer in Richmond Park. It wasn't my fault, but apparently that cuts no ice with the rozzers these days. You try explaining that you never even saw them until it was too late - expecting Dibble to take the broad, tolerant view, nodding sympathetically and adding the occasional "I quite understand, sir", and "not your fault at all, sir", before waving you on your way. But no, instead you're subjected to a lengthy harangue replete with vivid details of screeching brakes and swerving cars trying to avoid the herd of Cervus elaphus leaping over their bonnets hotly pursued by a whippet. Apparently they might decide it's not in the public interest to prosecute me bearing in mind that, as far as they know, I am of Sound Character – there's probably an address you can write to if you want to dispute this, but don't expect me to help you find it. Either way I'll be sure to let you know if any further hilarious scrapes result, like a prison sentence or something.

I was given the formal police caution, which was quite exciting as I'd only previously ever heard it on The Bill. "You do not have to say anything", the officer began, then continued, "but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court". "Anything you do say", he added, "may be given in evidence. Do you understand?" Well as you know we Wards are quick-thinking types, always ready with the appropriate bon mot for the occasion, and quick as a flash I shot back, "Yes".

Well anyway the Curtis Stigers gig I mentioned in my last entry is this weekend, so I thought it might be a good idea to celebrate with another episode of Curtis's Tigers. Then I realised it probably wouldn't be a good idea to celebrate with another episode of Curtis's Tigers, so I decided not to. It's funny, isn't it, how a brush with the law can turn you into a more mature and sensible character. So instead, inspired by watching Goldie on BBC2's "Maestro", I've come up with some more Negative Lookey-Likies. I've put them behind a cut so that you're able to pretend they don't exist:

Number 4 is particularly good.Collapse )

In other Olympic news, imagine my horror last week when I saw the following billboard outside my local newsagents:

I mean, the thing is, not only am I a sufferer from Dyslexia, I'm also a fanatical devotee of the Wizard of Oz. All I could think was "are the scarecrow and the lion ok?" Fortunately it turned out to be just some television journalist or other being arrested in yet more evidence of human rights abuses in China. Phew!

Curtis Stigers and his Tigers.

Because most of the bands I like don't exist anymore - Louis Armstrong's Hot Seven split up in the 1920s, for example – I don't go to very many gigs, the most recent one being a Supertramp tribute band I saw with shewho in Cricklewood last November. Imagine my excitement, then, when I heard that next month the Ronnie Scott's Big Band are playing "a fabulous outdoor summer concert" featuring the music of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, in my local park. Basie! Ellington! And it's only 5 minutes away! And I can bring a picnic! With booze! Fantastic! Imagine that excitement halving, though, when I discovered the concert would be hosted by "special guest star" Curtis Stigers, who reached no. 5 in January 1992 with the lamentable soft-rock ballad "I Wonder Why", since which time he has, so one is led to believe, gone on to become an internationally renowned jazz performer.

I was willing to take Curtis's word for this – we Wards deplore cynicism, as you know, and if a former lamentable soft-rock balladeer now claims to be an internationally renowned jazz performer then I like to think I'd be willing to accept this claim at face value unless presented with evidence to the contrary, because that's the sort of person I am – the sort of person who's willing to accept the claims of a former lamentable soft-rock balladeer turned internationally renowned jazz performer unless presented with evidence to the contrary. Nevertheless I wasn't altogether happy about spending £30 a ticket for what could technically be described as a Curtis Stigers concert. But we Wards deplore cynicism, as I believe I may already have mentioned, and ignoring any misgivings I may have had I bought two tickets, the other being for fille_a_paris, who's a fanatical Curtis Stigers fan, although she prefers his early stuff.

Anyway after buying the tickets I realised that with the addition of a single apostrophe, the name Curtis Stigers can be turned into "Curtis's Tigers", and thought that might be a good idea for a cartoon. Then I realised it probably wouldn't be a good idea for a cartoon, but decided to make one anyway, because that's the other sort of person I am – the sort of person who thinks that "Curtis's Tigers" might be a good idea for a cartoon, then realises it probably wouldn't be a good idea for a cartoon, but decides to make one anyway. Well anyway, here it is, Curtis's Tigers:Collapse )

I Cannesn't Go For That (No Cannes Do).

fille_a_paris and I are going to Cannes next week – it's particularly exciting because our flight on Thursday morning is so early that we're having to spend Wednesday night in a hotel in Luton, so it's like two holidays in one. I decided to visit the "What's On…Out 'n About" page of Luton Today to see if there were any exciting events lined up for our one night in Luton*, but all I found was a meeting at the Central Library where Luton's Baha'i community are going to discuss "spiritual solutions to economic problems". Well that's not really my kind of thing – it being total f'#cking cobblers and everything – so I think we'll have to give it a miss. Thursday night in Cannes is already planned though - we've got a table booked for dinner at a restaurant called L'Affable, which as I'm sure you know is on rue Lafontaine. I'm thinking of having either the Ceviche garniture mimosa or the Tartares de saumon à la moutarde wasabi, followed by the Minute de thon, réduction d'échalote au poivre. I'll probably end up deciding against the Ceviche though because seafood can be a bit scary, can't it. I mean, look, it's like being in Doctor Who:

Well In order to avoid being made to eat the Kraken I've been having a look online at other restaurants in Cannes, and was quite impressed by Le Restaurant Arménien. This appears to specialise in Armenian dishes translated tremendously badly into French and then for the benefit of British customers translated tremendously badly into English. So the first thing on the menu is called "The laminated ones with cheeses", which is followed by "The laminated ones with spinaches", and then "The pizza pie with the meat". Well I thought it might be a good idea to see if you could match the English translations to the original French dishes. And then I realised it would probably be a bit of a crappy idea, but decided to go ahead with it anyway, because that's the sort of person I am – the sort of person who thinks it might be a good idea to see if you can match the English translations on the menu of Le Restaurant Arménien to the original French dishes, then realises it would probably be a bit of a crappy idea, but decides to go ahead with it anyway. Well anyway, I've taken fifteen items from the menu and put them into a quiz, and if anyone gets them all right, I'll treat them to a slap up dinner at Le Restaurant Arménien, in the event that I ever happen to bump into them in Cannes**.

Good luck!Collapse )

Right, well if anyone bothers to have a go on that I might check the answers. I mean it's unlikely but you never know, stranger things have happened. Anyway, if you've ever been to Cannes and can recommend anywhere – not just anywhere to eat a Salad Of Believed Cabbage Heart, I mean anywhere generally – then please let me know, bearing in mind that I particularly like places that are cheap and sell booze. I tried checking the "What's On…Out 'n About" page of Cannes Aujourd'hui to see if there were any exciting events lined up while we were there, but all I found was a meeting where the Cannes' Baha'i community are going to discuss spiritual solutions to economic problems, at the Biblothèque Centrale.

*One night! One night! One night in Luton, when you touch me, you take me up high with the clouds in the sky - that's how it goes, isn't it. One night! One night! One night in Luton, when you kiss me, you light up my life, make me feel so alive. Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Heather Small.

**This competition is not open to wardytron, or to wardytron's family, employees or associated agents.

I see Tony Arbour won then.

I was Googling to find the exact result when I found this:

Here's a poll:

Which false item(s) did Ken Livingstone call on Richard Barnes and Tony Arbour to withdraw?

Anyway as if Tony Arbour retaining his GLA seat wasn't bad enough news, I received an email yesterday from James Ward. And as if that wasn't bad enough news, in it he told me that Jonathan King is appearing in a new musical. "Does he have a large part?", I asked, as you do in these situations. It turns out that as far as the musical's concerned Jonathan King's part is extremely large, since he wrote it and plays every character. It's called "Vile Pervert", and you can see it on the website www.vilepervert.com, although if you're at work and click on a website called vilepervert.com your IT depart might have some uncomfortable questions for you.

You might think it's not the best possible timing for a convicted sex offender to release a musical called "Vile Pervert" – you know, bearing in mind recent events in Austria, where Josef Fritzl is now complaining about the "one-sided" media coverage of his case, and his being labelled a "monster", pointing out that he "could have killed all of them, and nothing would have ever been known about it". Mr Fritzl's lawer Rudolf Mayer recently described his client as "caring, but strict". Anyway my point is this. You might think it's not the best possible time for Jonathan King to release his musical, but I don't suppose there's ever a brilliant time for a convicted sex offender to release a musical called "Vile Pervert, so you might as well strike while the iron's hot. And if you're wondering about Jonathan King's other part – you know, his penis - well you get to see it in the pre-title sequence, about 55 seconds in. Don't all rush at once, you'll crash the server.

Anyway on his Wikipedia page it says that Jonathan King discovered the band Orson, who annoyed us all so much two years ago with their no. 1 hit "No Tomorrow". There's a line in "No Tomorrow" which goes: "Funny hat, shiny pants, all we need for some romance", and I decided to put this to the test. I went onto Google, looked on Image Search for "funny hat", and bought the first one I saw. I did the same with "shiny pants", thereby making the perfect Romantic outfit. Surely if Orson were right, I couldn't fail to pull. I went out, in my hat and pants, to put them to the test. The results were disappointing, and to this day I can't understand why. I thought I looked quite fetching, I mean, even the colours co-ordinate:

Election Special!

Like most people I expect that when judging a person's suitability to hold public office, you want to know whether or not they're capable of running a whelk stall. In November last year the Daily Mail reported that half of all voters believed that Gordon Brown "would struggle to run a whelk stall", a deficiency which I'm sure you'll agree makes him unfit to govern. Similarly in 2001, angry rail passengers told the managing director of Connex trains that he was "unfit to run a whelk stall, let alone a commuter company". And who could possibly forget Lord Wright of Richmond's hilarious contribution to the House of Lords debate on the EU Prüm Treaty, which gave its signatories access to one another's DNA databases:

There is a democracy deficit of both Prüm and passenger name records (PNR). MEPs’ views could simply be ignored as we had no co-decision on either, and if you have mere consultation, believe me, it gives you no leverage whatever. On PNR, national Parliaments will be given a take-it or leave-it choice, simply being asked to ratify a concluded agreement. Prüm is a particular scandal. It was negotiated as a simple international treaty, ratified by the Bundestag after a mere half an hour’s debate and then pushed through the Council machinery in Brussels as a German member state initiative to emerge as an EU decision. That is not the way to run a whelk stall.
quipped Lord Wright, quick as a flash!

Clearly what you're looking for in public figures is a proven track record of successful whelk stall management. But I don't know of anyone who fits the bill. The closest examples I can think of are Roy Jenkins, who before becoming Home Secretary sold hot dogs on the Old Kent Road, and Enoch Powell, who after being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet following his infamous "rivers of blood" speech bought an ice cream van, where, famously, he insisted on using only white chocolate in his 99's. Well anyway, last month at a meeting in Hampstead, Times journalist David Aaronovitch told the audience that Conservative Mayoral hopeful Boris Johnson "cannot run a whelk stall, and I believe that literally". Clearly Boris is unqualified to be London's Mayor. But which of the remaining candidates deserves to win? I've made a poll featuring all of the Mayoral candidates, apart from the ones who are actually any good, and I'm inviting you to vote for who you'd like to be Mayor, if you were only allowed to choose from the most useless candidates. And you'll be glad to know it's under a cut, and can therefore be safely ignored!

The no-hopers' Mayoral Election!Collapse )

Well anyway, there are your, six is it?, candidates. All you have to do now is vote for the no-hoper you'd most like to be Mayor. Unlike the fiendishly difficult Mayoral voting system, which Chris Blick, an advertising executive from Bexleyheath, described in the Evening Standard yesterday as being "like an exam", this couldn't be simpler! Just choose one of them and vote for them, is that easy enough for you, Chris Blick? In accordance with the Ballot Act of 1872 the poll is secret, so you can vote for the BNP without anyone knowing. Except me, of course. In that event please note that I may well be tempted to blackmail you, and it may be in your interests to arrange for one Twix to be sent to me in a brown padded envelope, on a monthly basis, if you want your identity to remain concealed.

Which no-hoper would you most like - or least dislike - to be Mayor?

Alan Craig
Winston McKenzie
Gerard Batten
Lindsey German
Richard Barnbrook
Matt O'Connor
I have no interest in this poll, but would like to take the opportunity to express - once again - my contempt for you and everything you stand for, wardytron.

Merle Oberon a perdu une plume.

Parce que fille_a_paris est actuellement à Paris aujourd' hui, j'ai decidé qu'il était une bonne idée à écrire ci entrée de Livejournal en Francais, parce que c'est l'espèce de personne que je suis; l'espèce de personne qui decides qu'il est une bonne idée à écrire une entrée de Livejournal en Francais, et alors comprends qu'il n'est pas une bonne idée à écrire une entrée de Livejournal en Francais, mais qui l'écris en Francais tout. À ce point, je dois expliquer que mon Francais n'est pas très bon. Ah oui, je peux ordre quelque chose dans un restaurant, mais seulement s'il est du vin, est du pain, et du Boursin. "Du vin, du pain, du Boursin", je dis. "Ah, oui", dit le garçon. "Du vin". "Oui", je dis. "Du pain", dit le garçon. "Oui", je dis". "Et du Boursin",dit le garçon. "Oui", je dis, vite comme un flash. Mémoires fantastiques!

Mais parlent des restaurants, ce matin, fille_a_paris a mangé petit dejeuner dans une café qui s'appelle Les Deux Magots. C'est une place très fameux, dans laquelle beaucoup des auteurs celebrés ont mangé. Auteurs de livres et d'histoires même plus fameux que le temps quand j'ai vu Melvyn Hayes, de Ce N'Est Pas Demi Chaud, Maman, trappé dans les barriers de billet à la gare Euston. Peut-être vous avez oublié sur le temps quand j'ai vu Melvyn Hayes, de Ce N'Est Pas Demi Chaud, Maman, trappé dans les barriers de billet à la gare Euston? Peut-être je dois vous dire encore sur le temps quand j'ai vu Melvyn Hayes, de Ce N'Est Pas Demi Chaud, Maman, trappé dans les barriers de billet à la gare Euston*? Ou peut-être non. Non? Non. D'accord.

Mais alors, après ça, je crois que fille_a_paris va à une boutique au Palais Royale, ou on peut acheter des pafums par un homme qui s'appelle Serge Lutens. Parce qu'il est un homme qui fais des parfums, je présume qu'il est un homosexual - pas qu'est-ce qu'il y a quelque chose mal avec ça. Mais le dernier temps nous avons allé à sa boutique, il y'était une femme qui travaillait là, est qui avais les plus grands mains que j'ai jamais vu sur une femme. Plus grand, même, des mains de publicansdecoy. C'est difficile à encroyer, je sais, parce qu'il est une grand main conne, mais c'est vrai. Je crois que peut-être elle était un tranny. Pas qu'est-ce qu'il y a quelque chose mal avec ça.

Le Bonving: Malheureusement, le Bonving n'est pas passé, parce qu'il a neigé, et parce qu'il était trop froid. Mais je promis - je promis! - nous Bonvirions quand le soleil brille, oui?

Un autre chose: Robert Mugabe est un shoe-in pour Enculée de l'Année, c'est année, n'est-ce pas?

*Il y'avais deux années que mon frère, James Ward, a vu Melyn Hayes à la gare de Waterloo. Monsieur Hayes n'avais pas des bagages, mais il a utilisé la porte, est non pas les barriers. Pauvre Monsieur Hayes; il est terrifié.



I was in London earlier this week, halfway between Marylebone Station and Vine Street, when an annuity matured and I won £100. I was blessing my good fortune when I realised I wasn't in London at all; I was at home playing Monopoly. Packing the board away I logged onto Livejournal and noticed that publicansdecoy had mentioned a one day "content strike" on LJ in protest at its owners having barred new users from opening free accounts unless they agree to allow advertising on them. The strike begins at midnight on Friday until midnight on Saturday, during which time people are being urged neither to post nor comment on the site. Well as all wardytron readers will know, this Livejournal is a fearless and unstinting opponent of Injustice, and this protest is one in which I shall be participating, both fearlessly and unstintingly, although that's mainly because I never bother posting or commenting at the weekend anyway. But before I begin fearlessly and unstintingly opposing Injustice, here are some Important Messages:

Are you interested in pencils? Are you so interested in pencils that you want to learn more about the history of pencil making, and to see how pencils are made today? What, even if it meant travelling to Cumbria? Are you sure? Well in that case, why not visit Keswick's world famous Cumberland Pencil Museum! Entering the museum through a replica of the Seathwaite mine where graphite was first discovered 350 years ago, you'll see the history of pencil making before your very eyes. Words, pictures and carefully restored machinery will show you how pencils were made in the past, while we bring you right up to the present with demonstrations of how Derwent Fine Art Pencils are made today. The video theatre shows a presentation detailing the history of pencil making in Keswick, including the current production methods.

At the Cumberland Pencil Museum you can journey through the history of pencils and pencil making, enjoy being creative in our Drawing Zone and relax over a cappuccino in our Sketchers Coffee Shop before being AMAZED at the Worlds Longest Coloured Pencil!

But that's not the only museum Keswick has to offer - there's also the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum! The idea for the museum began in 1982, when while filming the television series "The Spoils of War" Granada Television approached local painter and sculptor, Peter D Nelson and asked if they could borrow his MG TC for use in their production. As a result of this Mr Nelson conceived the idea of building a motor musuem, featuring celebrity television and film vehicles. After purchasing the Royal Oak Garage in the centre of Keswick, which required total refurbishment, he began a two year search for cars with film and television connections and the dream finally became reality when this unique museum opened to the public on 1st May 1989!

The museum features numerous cars from stage & screen, including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as well as the Morris 8 as featured in TV's All Creatures Great And Small!

Travelling from London to Keswick really couldn't be easier! Simply take the 07.23 from Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street, then the 10.27 from Birmingham to Penrith, and then a bus which arrives in Keswick at 14.08. With a journey time of seven hours you'll have plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the scenery, and at only £82.10 per person, you can afford to take the whole family!
I was watching a terrifying horror movie the other night about a man trapped in a giant maze, being chased around it by ghosts. I got so scared I had to call fille_a_paris into the living room to keep me company. "fille_a_paris!", I shouted, "Can you come into the living room to keep me company while I watch this terrifying horror movie about a man trapped in a giant maze, being chased around it by ghosts" – I thought it best to give her all the details. In she came, only to point out that far from watching a terrifying horror movie I had in fact been playing Pacman. That calmed me down a bit but I was still feeling jumpy so to take my mind off it she suggested I have a think about this bloody Bonving tournament I've agreed to organise.

So far I have 18 people who've agreed to participate – these are fugitivemotel, publicansdecoy, exliontamer, kiss_me_quick, smogo, moleintheground, johnnybrolly, stephens, angelv, shewho, icecoldinalex, obsessive_katy, thermaland, jangliss, p_dan_tic, darkmarcpi, dawnage and ruudboy.

Can you all please confirm that you still intend to take part, and weren't just agreeing to because of my persuasive manner, good looks and charm? NB I don't mind if a couple of people drop out because it would mean there were 16 contestants, and therefore 8 teams, and therefore a nice easy knockout competition that shouldn't take too long bearing in mind we have a maximum of 4 hours, and should give time for multi-set semi-finals and finals if anyone can be bothered. The other thing is if you already have a team sorted out can you please say so. That means less organising for me. Thank you!

Unlikely interracial couplesCollapse )


I was in a pub on Monday afternoon, having a quiet pint, minding my own business and not bothering anyone, with the possible exception of fille_a_paris, who was there with me, and who I may have been bothering, although if I was she didn't mention it, which was nice of her, when my mobile rang. It was diamond_geyser, to whom I must in an earlier moment of weakness have given my number. She told me she was helping organise a 24-hour comedy event, and for one terrified moment I thought she was going to ask me to appear in it, so it was a relief when she told me she wanted to include a Bonving Tournament, and for me to organise it.

You may already be familiar with Bonving, in which case you can spare yourself the burden of having to read this paragraph, but for the unacquainted it's a sport similar to doubles tennis, but with wastepaper bins instead of racquets, and instead of a ball you use a gentleman's size nine brogue. It was invented in Sweden by an indie band called Eggstone, on whose record company's website you can find the full rules. In 2003 I emailed Eggstone to tell them I was thinking of holding a Bonving tournament in London, and asking if they'd recognise the winners as the Official UK Bonving champions. I said I thought it would work particularly well in Britain, since you don't need to be physically fit, or sober, in order to play it. They agreed, and stephens and I ended up winning the first UK title. Here we are, surrounded by a cheering throng of friends and admirers:

Well anyway, the actual event takes place on Sunday 6th April, and will consist of two simultaneous 24 hour shows taking place in Melbourne and London, and linked by satellite, a bit like Live Aid, but longer and simultaneous and without Phil Collins performing at both, and with Bonving, and instead of Wembley Stadium the London venue is the Red Hedgehog pub in Highgate. Here is another link, with more information about it. The Bonving will be taking place in Queens Wood Park, from 4pm.

I suppose the first thing I need to do is ask who if anyone wants to participate/attend, which I will do by means of this poll:

Would you like to participate in or attend the 2008 British Bonving Championship on Sunday April 6th?

Yes, believe it or not I would like to participate in this event
I don't want to make a total arse of myself by participating, but will attend and point and laugh
F#ck off, wardytron, I hate you and everything you stand for.


Financial News.

You're probably like me, and far too busy to spend your valuable time visiting Independent Financial Advisors. But you still need to know how best to invest your pocket money, don't you – I suppose one solution might be to consult the Money section of your Sunday newspaper, but in my case that's always the first section I throw away. When I get my Sunday Times, before reading any of it, I always throw away the bits I don't want: first the Money section, then the Business section, the Travel section and Motoring section, followed by the Property section, the magazine, the Style magazine, the Culture section, and the main news and Review sections. This leaves the Funday Times section, which has all the cartoons in, but which is notably lacking in financial advice. Well I decided to turn instead to the song "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" from Mary Poppins. If you remember, this is the song where Mr Banks tries to convince his son Michael that instead of buying a bag of bird feed, he should invest his money in the bank, telling him:
When you deposit tuppence in a bank account, soon you'll see that it blooms into credit of a generous amount, semi-annually
And you'll achieve that sense of stature, as your influence expands, to the high financial strata that established credit now commands
Well I decided to put this advice to the test, and five years ago to the day I deposited tuppence in a bank account. Since then I've left it to bloom into credit of a generous amount, semi-annually, without ever once checking the balance. Instead I decided to wait five years, until February 14th 2008, and only then find out just how much it had bloomed.

Well you can imagine how excited I was last night. If what Mr Banks had said was true, I'd have received a generous amount of credit – on a semi-annual basis – as well as achieving a sense of stature as my influence had expanded to the high financial strata that established credit now commands. Imagine that! I lay awake in my Superman pyjamas wondering if I'd ever be able to get to sleep. But before I knew it fille_a_paris was peering down at me from the top bunk – oh a gentleman always allows a lady to sleep in the top bunk – saying "wardytron! wardytron! It's time to wake up!" I sprang out of bed, got dressed, wolfed down my Ricicles and ran to the cashpoint. My fingers were trembling so much I could barely enter my PIN number, but I held my nerve – "think of the sense of stature", I told myself. I pressed "Print Balance", and then waited for the outcome, for the result of five years of generous semi-annual blooming - just how much would my tuppence now be worth?

I have to admit the results were disappointing. February 14th isn't all bad news though; it's also the half-year anniversary of our wedding, as we got married on August 14th. fille_a_paris and I have now been married for eight and a half years. I don't mean to disappoint anyone, but I can see us staying together a lot longer. I mean, if you imagine all the meetings and letters and faxes and phone calls involved in getting married, and in buying a flat, imagine having to undo all of that at once, and having to divide up all your possessions, and move house. I just couldn't bear all that admin. No, I'd much rather be trapped in a loveless husk of a marriage. Anyway, happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Nazi Doubles!

I had an email the other day from Mr Rimi Idris, Bill and Exchange Manager at the Bank of Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkino Faso. Very heavyhanded with the Caps Lock, it was. I replied suggesting that instead of me paying him an administrative fee of $3,000 so that he could send me $9 million from the account of a man who'd died with no next of kin, could he not just deduct the $3,000 and send me $8,997,000. That sounds easiest all round, I said. I'll let you know his response. Anyway, about these Nazi Doubles - oh don't worry, it's not a disturbing new event at Wimbledon, stop thinking that. No the thing is, I was making a quiz on Facebook the other week called Name That Nazi!. The title's quite self-explanatory, but the quiz wasn't as easy as you might think. Partly this is because I made a mistake with one of the answers – I was midway through a bottle of port at the time, which may have had something to do with it – but mainly because once you've got past the top brass - the Hitlers, Görings, Himmlers and Goebbelses - you quickly find yourself among some frankly third rate Nazis. I mean, who the hell knows what Martin Bormann looked like, no offence Martin.

Well anyway, there I was at work, looking on Google Image Search for pictures of Albert Speer* and Julius Streicher and so on, wondering how closely my IT department monitors internet use and hoping it's not that closely, when I found that some of the Nazis from yesteryear looked almost exactly like modern-day celebrities. And when I say "exactly", what I mean is they look a bit like them, if you squint. The resemblance is truly uncanny, if you squint. Well I know what you're thinking – you're thinking "isn't this more or less the same as those Negative Lookey-Likies you bored us stupid with a few years ago?". And it is, it's very similar. I like to recycle ideas, because of global warming, or something.

Well anyway, I've put together some of my favourite Nazi Doubles, and placed them behind the lj-cut below, so that you can safely scroll past without bothering to look at them, because that's the sort of person I am; the sort of person who, instead of writing the kind of Livejournal entry you might actually want to read, writes the kind of Livejournal entry you don't want to read, but does at least have the courtesy to hide half behind an lj-cut so that you can safely scroll past without bothering to look at it. Anyway, here are my Nazi DoublesCollapse )

Well those were my Nazi Doubles, but perhaps you can come up with some of your own. Perhaps among my readers there are some keen students of the Third Reich - oh don't worry, we needn't go into your reasons - who know of other Nazis who look a bit like celebrities, if you squint. If so then simply post a picture of the Nazi, together with the celebrity he or she resembles, and assuming anyone bothers I'll collect the best ones and write to a special celebrity judge asking him to choose his favourite. Now if you remember, with my Negative Lookey-Likey Competition I asked Lord Robert Winston to be the judge, and wrote to him, enclosing a packet of Chewits as his fee. He ignored me, but kept the Chewits, which I think tells you all you need to know about Lord Robert Winston. This time around though I've chosen David Irving, c/o his publishers, Focal Point Publications. Instead of Chewits though I thought perhaps I might include a bag of Revels. The thing is, don't tell David Irving this, but the Revels are a kind of allegorical symbol for a multiracial society. I'm thinking that maybe David will see the all the different Revels – the toffee, the raisin, the orange – all coexisting peacefully in the same bag, and subconsciously he'll decide that he doesn't want to be a racist and a Holocaust denier any longer. It's a long shot, I know. Maybe he'd prefer a Milky Bar. Well anyway, good luck!

*Celebrities whose surname is a type of weapon include: Albert Speer, Jan Hammer and Tommy Cannon. Molly Ringwald doesn't count, as her surname isn't a weapon, and instead sounds like an ailment or condition you'd be embarrassed to go to the doctor about.

Quick-thinking man foils terror plot.

When I got on my train to work yesterday morning there were two unoccupied seats next to one another, underneath one of which was a black rucksack. There was nobody standing close enough to the rucksack to indicate that it was theirs, and with some nervousness I sat down on the seat next to the one with the rucksack on it. In the event of it being a bomb, I'd evidently decided, being one seat along would make all the difference between life and death. I noticed other people were also glancing at it from time to time, and a woman sitting opposite me looked down at the rucksack, then up at me, and then raised her eyebrows. I raised mine back, then decided I ought to do something more, and began asking around to see if it belonged to anybody. I did this in the manner of a London commuter not really wanting to make a fuss or disturb anyone, and my asking around consisted of quietly saying "I don't suppose anybody...?", "Does this, er, you know, is it...?", and "No? Nobody?" By then I'd managed to establish that nobody knew who it belonged to, and managed to frighten everyone.

Well I wasn't sure what to do next. The only other time I'd been in a similar situation was on a train to Ward HQ in Worcester Park. I'd got on at Clapham Junction, and sitting across the aisle from me was an Asian man in his early 20s, with a long beard, a rucksack, and a Koran which he was audibly reading very quickly to himself whilst running his finger along the page. He was in the window seat on his side of the aisle, and I had the window seat on my side, so there were 2 empty seats between us. When the train stopped at Wimbledon a woman got on and took the aisle seat next to him, and then a man got on and took the aisle seat next to me. I was happy that there were now two bodies between us to absorb any blast, until I realised that out of the 2 empty seats the woman had chosen to risk the possibility of certain death rather sit next to me.

Well anyway none of this was much help, and by now people were looking at me in a manner suggesting that they were expecting me to do something. I didn't see why I should though; I didn't see why it should be my responsibility when both the rucksack and the other passengers had been on the train before I got on at St Margarets. I wondered whether they'd been sitting there thinking "I hope that when we stop at St Margarets someone gets on who can be bothered to do something about that". Well to hell with it, I thought, someone's got to take charge, and I decided to come up with a plan before we reached the next stop, Richmond. Now it's only about 3 or 4 minutes between St Margarets and Richmond, but we Wards are quick thinkers when the occasion demands it, and 3 or 4 minutes was all I needed to put my plan into action. As the train was pulling into Richmond I began making an elaborate series of gestures and movements designed to indicate that this was my stop; I folded up my newspaper, checked my watch, took off my headphones, checked my watch again, drummed my fingers on the empty seat next to me, and then stood up. When the doors opened I ran along the platform and got in again 2 carriages down.

Of course, having gone to all that trouble, by the time the train pulled in to Waterloo I felt a bit cheated that it hadn't turned out to be a bomb after all. Although imagine if it had been; if the train had been derailed and the carriages overturned and the passengers thrown through windows, and everywhere a mess of bodies and twisted metal and smoke and blood. If you'd been in that original carriage, and somehow by a miracle you'd survived, imagine how you'd feel if you staggered to your feet and saw me sheepishly trying to tiptoe away through the rubble without being noticed.

Rob Brydon dies, aged 88.

Oh, by the way, Stephen Fry won Lovely of the Year. I think there were 70 votes cast in the final, out of which he won 40. This would have made me a respectably close second if the remaining 30 votes had all been for me, except they weren't. There were three votes for rhodri, two for James Ward, one for Bradley Whitford whoever the hell he is, and one each for Melvyn Hayes, Christina Aguilera and Charlie Brooker. So I came second, but was surprised to find that most of the people who voted for me were people who'd actually met me. The trophy, which was supposed to be delivered on Friday the 14th of December, arrived yesterday, and it would be no exaggeration to say that it's been well worth the wait. It would be a lie, though.

Anyway, it's possible that I might be able to present the award to Stephen Fry in person. tycho_b, who with bagrec presents the Little Atoms show on Resonance FM, has told me that Stephen Fry is going to appear on their programme this year, and has invited me to assist - for want of a better word; "interfere" might be more accurate - in presenting the show. If you're not familiar with Little Atoms, it's "a show about ideas", featuring "a guest from the worlds of science, journalism, politics, academia, human rights or the arts in conversation", and whose theme is "freedom of expression, free inquiry, empirical rationalism, scepticism, the scientific method, secular humanism and liberal democracy".

Anyway I'm meeting tycho_b and bagrec tonight, and if we all agree that the theme of freedom of expression, free inquiry, empirical rationalism, scepticism, the scientific method, secular humanism and liberal democracy can only be enhanced by my fatuous grinning inanity, flippancy and heckling, and if Stephen Fry does actually turn up, then I can present him with the Trophy. And following medusa's suggestion, will insist he wears a Burger King crown.

Well anyway, that's Lovely of the Year over with. There will, of course, be another competition next December, so long as someone else can be bothered to do it.

Ruddy hell, it's the Grand Final!

Well, it's the final of Lovely of the Year 2007, and for once I'm going to get the contest finished before Christmas, not that there's ever been one before, or will there be again. We started with 40 contestants, and a further eight or however many it was sought to qualify via the Wild Card Playoff, except I cancelled it to save time. Now, only two remain, and the flurry of late votes for rhodri that came in after the semi-final had finished failed to prevent me, of all people, from somehow scraping into the final, which I will lose to Stephen Fry. Barring a miracle, Stephen will therefore win the coveted Lovely of the Year 2007 trophy, which I can reveal is the TRC508 which I ordered from thetrophystore.co.uk, except they were supposed to deliver it last Friday but didn't and it's now somewhere or other between Stockport and London, although the man that runs the thetrophystore.co.uk told me yesterday that it should be delivered to my work address today, not that I believe him for one f#cking second. Anyway, I noticed on Tuesday that publicansdecoy had asked the people who nominated the finalists for Arsehole of the Year to write some blurb for them, so bearing in mind I'm copying everything he does I emailed my finalists' nominees inviting them to do just that, except neither has replied. I suppose it's understandable in way, because where do you begin summing up the loveliness of Stephen Fry. And I imagine that if you're trying to think of something lovely to say about me, then that must be similarly impossible. Anyway here are the finalists:Collapse )

So those are your two finalists. To try and prolong the 'excitement' a bit, the following poll will be a text entry box with answers viewable to nobody but me, in line with the Ballot Act of 1872, which as you know introduced the use of the secret ballot into parliamentary elections. On Livejournal the secret ballot is mainly used for those polls that say "Tell me a secret", or "Ask me a question". If you like you can use your text box to tell me a secret or ask me a question, secure in the knowledge that your secret or question will be treated in the strictest of confidence. In fact, I probably won't even bother to read it, and you can't get much more confidential than that, can you. Anyway voting closes next week some time. I'll announce the result some time after that, and publish the full list of votes to show there was no cheating, assuming there actually was no cheating, about which I'm not prepared to make any promises at this stage.

Of the two people named above – Stephen Fry and wardytron - who is the biggest Lovely of 2007?


"Hello, I'm Graham Kelly, the ginger high-voiced former Chief Executive of the Football Association. I've been roped in by wardytron in a vain and fruitless attempt to introduce an unconvincing veneer of respectability to the semi-finals of Lovely of the Year. In the last round rhodri made the frankly outrageous suggestion that wardytron would somehow contrive to give himself an easy draw against John Smeaton, and therefore, instead of calling immediately for his libel lawyer, wardytron asked me, Graham Kelly, the ginger high-voiced former Chief Executive of the Football Association, to preside over the semi-final. And it is me, and not just wardytron pretending to be me or anything like that, stop thinking that. But before we begin the voting, here's my glamorous assistant Vicki Michelle, who is 57 today, to explain how the draw was made".

"Good moaning, listen very carefully, I shall say this only once, it is I, l'Eclerc, I see flashing knobs, you stupid woman, what-a mistake-a to make-a, ze fallen Madonna wiz ze big boobies, zis is Knighthawk, my dicky ticker, and so on. Anyway Graham Kelly - and it is him, and not just wardytron pretending to be him or anything like that, stop thinking that - decided to employ two fine, upstanding and trustworthy individuals to make the semi-final draw. But he didn't know any, so he got publicansdecoy and whizzerandchips to do it instead". Anyway, they done the draw for the semi-final and here it isCollapse )

Voting ends whenever wardytron has amassed enough votes to advance to the final. Please note that this is an open entry in which any of the fourteen and a half million current Livejournal users are eligible to vote, and could therefore last well into the next century, if that's as long as it takes.


There were a lot of one-sided contests in the last round of Lovely of the Year, the only tension being provided in the matches between John Smeaton and George Clooney – which Clooney lost by a mere four votes, leaving wardytron as the main eyecandy among the remaining contestants, right ladies? Ladies? Anyone? No? - and between Charlie Brooker and Philippa Forrester, who managed to scrape through by the narrowest possible margin, winning 25 votes compared to Charlie Brooker's 41. But now that the wheat has been separated from the chaff, and we've reached the giddy heights of the Quarter Finals, we can expect some much more closely fought rounds, which may or may not succeed in maintaining your flagging interest until the final, which will take place some time next week.

The draw for the quarter final is made entirely at random, with one exception: no members of the Ward family will be drawn against one another. This is due to the unlikely fact that both James Ward and I have reached the last eight, providing the tantalising yet thankfully still remote possibility of an all Ward final. Should this happen I have decided that the losing Ward will be required to present the winning Ward with a crown* - at medusa's suggestion this will be one of those ones you get from Burger King – and the Official Lovely of the Year 2007 trophy which I am having engraved. This is one I currently have my eye on:

This presentation will take place at the Official Lovely of the Year 2007 Awards Ceremony, which will be held at Ward HQ over Christmas. Unless of course somebody else wins, which to be fair is much more likely, in which case I'll probably just throw the trophy away, or if it's rhodri who wins, arrange an alternative Official Lovely of the Year 2007 Awards Ceremony at some pub or other. Anyway, this is the quarter finalCollapse )

Voting ends at the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world. At that point I will drink hot blood, and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on (Hamlet, act 3, scene 2). I do not vote in these polls myself, but in the event of a tie I will cast the deciding vote.

*Also I think Mumward has a long dressing gown which could be used as a robe.
We're now, at long sodding last, into Round 2 of Lovely of the Year 2007. 40 contestants slugged it out over 80 groups, with only 16 progressing. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, they're not joined in the second round by any highest-scoring runners up, because I couldn't be bothered counting the votes and it would only mean more contestants, making the entire dismal affair last even longer. Anyway from now on, it's straight head-to-head battles until the three-handed final, which will probably also be a straight head-to-head battle now I come to think of it. In making the draw for the second round, group winners were kept apart and qualifiers from the same group were also separated. Otherwise it was entirely random, although you've only got my word for that. The draw for future rounds will also be random, although again you've only got my word for that. Anyway in order to save time this round contains all sixteen qualifiers from Round 1, and so is under a mammoth lj-cut. This also enables you to skip past the whole thing, if you've got any sense, but assuming you haven't, here is Round 2Collapse )

EDIT: Oh, I forgot to say when voting closes. Voting closes when the Raven himself croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan. At that point the spirits that tend on mortal thoughts will unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty. I do not vote in these polls myself, but in the event of a tie I will cast the deciding vote.
Tesco are good, aren't they. In my delivery order last night, instead of the "carefully selected large succulent sweet prawns, caught in the Gulf of St Lawrence and Eastern Coast of Canada" that I'd asked for, they sent me a big bag of McCain Crinkle Cut Oven Chips, and a packet of Bernard Matthews Golden Turkey Drummers. I wonder if they might have got my order mixed up with someone else's.

Anyway I read on shewho's Livejournal yesterday about her dismay on inadvertently discovering that she's old enough to have a teenage daughter. I had a similar realisation this morning when I was telling a work colleague about the time I'd caused a Scene at my friend Rob's wedding by giggling too loudly during the hymn "All Things Bright And Beautiful". It wasn't my fault, obviously; I mean, imagine being at a solemn occasion like that, in a big church full of Grownups you've never met before, with you supposed to be on your best behaviour, and you're expected to be able to sing the verse that starts with "The purple headed mountain", without laughing. I didn't stand a chance. You should have seen the filthy looks they gave me though. Afterwards, at the reception, I decided an apology was probably in order, so I went up to Rob and demanded one. "What the hell were you thinking?", I said to him. "I've come here, as a friend, to share in your happiness, and in all this free booze", I said, grabbing a glass of champagne from a passing tray, "and you force me to make an idiot of myself by disrupting your wedding ceremony in front of all these people". Well he tried pointing out that I was thirty years old and should have been mature enough to cope, but we both knew he was wasting his time.

The following week I had to visit Rob's parents to pick up a camera I'd somehow managed to leave behind at the reception - to this day nobody can understand how or why. The day I went round there was the hottest that year, and the temperature was so high that my train was delayed because the tracks had been warped by the heat. When I got to the house I rang the doorbell, and Rob's dad answered it. He's about 60 years old and quite a big man, Rob's dad; 6'2 or so in height, and nearly the same wide. I couldn't help noticing that he was only wearing his pants. "I've just come to get the camera", I said. "Come in", he said. I went in, and he offered me a beer. "We're just watching the wedding video", he told me. "Well I've just come to get the camera", I said. "Have a seat", he said. I sat down on a sofa and he sat next to me, quite close. Then Rob's mum walked in. She's a lot smaller than his dad, but of a similar age, and I couldn't help noticing that she was only wearing a vest and pants. She sat the other side of me. I was a bit worried by this point. It wasn't even that good a camera, definitely not one worth risking hideous unwanted inter-generational swinging for. Well eventually I was able to leave, with my camera, and with my virtue and various other bits intact. But as I told my work colleage, if I was going to get involved in hideous unwanted inter-generational swinging now, I'd probably qualify for the middle generation. It's a dismaying prospect, but I suppose it gives you more choice.

Also, being reminded of my own mortality like that gave me the brilliant idea of forcing people to sing "All Things Bright And Beautiful" at my funeral. See how you cope with that.
I had to go into Richmond on Saturday to buy some things for a dinner I was making for publicansdecoy and obsessive_katy. I made puff pastry tarts with vine tomatoes and rocket & cashew pesto, followed by poached smoked haddock on a bed of wholegrain mustard mash and drizzled with caper butter. I overcooked the tarts slightly but cleverly made up for it by undercooking the haddock. Anyway on my way into Richmond I bought a Big Issue from the seller outside Marks & Spencer. He claimed not to have eaten for 24 hours, although he's quite a bit fatter than I am, so he might have been lying, but I gave him £5 and told him to keep the change. After buying my bits and pieces I went back past Marks & Spencer again, and he tried to sell me another copy. I pointed out that I'd already given him five pounds, and again he claimed not to have eaten anything for 24 hours, and again I didn't believe him. But I still had a pound in change so I offered it to him. He insisted I give him the full price for a Big Issue, which is £1.50. I told him again that I'd already bought one copy and didn't want another one, and he could have a quid if he liked, but that was all the change I had on me. He insisted I pay him the full £1.50, and I refused to. By this point we were both raising our voices and a small crowd of people had gathered to watch us. Eventually he angrily accepted my pound coin and I went home. On the way I saw the actor Leslie Grantham walking along my road. "You're a convicted murderer", I thought but didn't dare say out loud. According to Wikipedia, in May 2004 a Sunday newspaper printed photographs of Leslie Grantham "exposing himself and masturbating whilst sucking his finger in a sexually-suggestive manner via a webcam from his dressing room to an undercover reporter named Amanda". He also "allegedly dressed as Captain Hook whilst pleasuring himself" and shared his sexual fantasies about animals. Which would probably rule him out of winning the final qualifying round in Lovely of the Year, had he been nominated, which he wasn't. Anyway this is Pool HCollapse )

You're voting for who you think are the biggest two Lovelies in this group. If you tick more than two, the Lord shall Smite the land with plagues of frogs and locusts. So don't. Voting closes whenever it becomes clear who alongside rhodri has made it through to the next round. I do not vote in these polls myself, but in the event of a tie I will cast the deciding vote.

Of the five people named above, who are the two biggest Lovelies?

John Smeaton
John Humphreys
Noel Gallagher
Matthew Wright
With a sense of mounting horror I realised yesterday how many more rounds of Lovely of the Year there needed to be before I finish work this year on Wednesday 19th December - this one plus one final round in the first stage plus four quarter-finals plus two semi-finals plus the final. Then I realised I could just change the format, and make the next round the final, or whatever, so it’s with great relief that I can now announce Pool whatever the hell it isCollapse )

You're voting for who you think are the biggest two Lovelies in this group. If you tick more than two, you will go to HELL. Voting closes at Evensong. Any votes cast after Evensong will not be valid, much like james_weekes's late vote for Christina Aguilera which was unable to prevent her defeat by James Ward. Of all people. I do not vote in these polls myself, but in the event of a tie I will cast the deciding vote.

Of the five people named above, who are the two biggest Lovelies?

Robert Mugabe
Dimitar Berbatov
Warren Buffet
Ian Holloway
Jon Snow

* Jon Snow - not his arch-enemy John Thaw, he's dead now, stop thinking about him
After the neck and neck thrills of Round 5, it is with another despondent groan of "Oh for f#ck's sake, how much more of this is there?" that you will no doubt be anticipating the thrilling prospect of Round 6 of Lovely of the Year. But don't scroll impatiently past this entry just yet! This could be the strongest group of contestants yet! Or alternatively it might not be, but you won't know unless you click on the lj-cut. Anyway this is Pool FCollapse )

You're voting for who you think are the biggest two Lovelies in this group. If you tick more than two, your vote will be regarded as spoiled, and your face will be tattooed with the legend "I tried to vote more than twice in Lovely of the Year, and now my vote is regarded as spoiled". Voting closes whene'er the Cock shalt Crow. At that time, the two contestants with the most votes will advance to the next round. The person in third place could still qualify as a high-scoring runner up. I do not vote in these polls myself, but in the event of a tie I will cast the deciding vote.

Of the five people named above, who are the two biggest Lovelies?

George Clooney
James Ward
Asim Siddiqui
Wee Charles Kennedy
Christina Aguilera

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