Thursday, November 24, 2005

The scandal of the killer reindeer

IN THE mean streets where I grew up, we didn’t have many reindeer.

Whippets, three-legged lurchers with a squint, foul-smelling ferrets and the occasional peregrine falcon living in someone’s airing cupboard, but no reindeer. Which must explain why we grew up so healthy.

We survived cots covered in lead paint, aspirin bottles without childproof lids, water that came out of a tap rather than a bottle, no seat belts in cars, walking home alone from school in the dark, riding bikes without wearing helmets, climbing trees and laughing at the strange man in the park when he offered to show us some puppies he had hidden in the bushes. But we were healthy.

Of course we had help. There was the polio vaccine they distributed on sugar lumps at school, the BCG injection that left a generation literally scarred and if you didn’t wear a smog mask to school you had to spend a week in an iron lung. But we were healthy. And that’s because we didn’t have reindeer.

I didn’t know this, but apparently they’re highly infectious. Look at one too closely and you’ll go blind; stroke one and your hand falls off. At least that’s opinion of health and safety officials in the town of Beverley, East Yorkshire, who are threatening to ban the traditional Christmas parade of Santa and his sleigh in case “onlookers brush against the reindeer and pick up an infection.” One possible solution is the distribution of antiseptic wipes to everyone in the crowd, just in case.

I could go on. Not a day passes without examples of blatant Scroogeisms filling our newspapers: the children who have to carry “glowsticks” instead of real candles, the town that’s afraid its Christmas lights will plummet to the ground and decimate the population, the politically-correct hand-wringers who prefer Winterval to Christmas because it’s “more inclusive” – the list expands every day.

Of course, no-one has ever been killed by an infectious reindeer, hideously burned by dripping candle wax or decapitated by a falling angel. And no-one - Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or Jehovah’s bloody Witness – has ever complained that Christmas is too Christian.

But when you’re an H & S apparatchik happily occupying a self-perpetuating, publicly-funded job, that’s not the point. After all, if you didn’t find things to ban, people might notice that nothing actually needs banning.

I’M SURE that you, like me, were scandalised at the report that a lady called Margaret Boyle-White was pulled up by the police for breast-feeding her baby daughter on a street bench in Watton, Norfolk. Apparently a member of the public had complained about her lewd behaviour.

(Two quick points. All these double-barrelled married wimmin who are cropping up these days. Why don’t they just do the decent thing and take their husband’s name? Secondly, I’ve been to Norfolk. She’s lucky she wasn’t burned at the stake.)

Anyway, back to this outrageous scandal. Whatever happened to equality? If builders can strip to the waist while at work, why can’t a woman get her baps out whenever she wants?

And another thing. Why is it that if I’m caught looking into a naked neighbour’s bedroom with a pair of binoculars, it’s ME who gets arrested, yet if the self-same good-looking neighbour happens to be passing MY house when I’m stood naked in the bay window, it’s ME who gets arrested again? Where’s the equality in that?

Three months in the nick is no joke. Have we men got no rights at all?

THE QUESTION of whether or not the police should be armed has caused much debate in recent days. My opinion is definitely yes … as long as they’re stood in a line facing Gary Glitter.

AS WE live in a world of skewed priorities, it comes as no surprise to learn that the Ministry of Defence has spent £272,000 on works of art to decorate their Whitehall HQ while Our Boys in the Gulf and Afghanistan go short of essential equipment like body armour or even boots.

This goes to show the gulf (no pun intended) between our so-called civil servants and the people at the sharp end who they’re supposed to be serving.

Similarly, the NHS throws money around on sculptures and murals while patients can’t get the life-saving drugs they need. Now you can tell me that we’re talking about different sources of funding and different budgets, but only a moron would fail to see the message it sends out. “We matter; you don’t.”

I’M SURE those death-defying trials on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here have had you holding your breath. But don’t be fooled.

It may look as they’re dangling over a ravine or menaced by poisonous animals, but do you really think that the production company is going to let any of these “celebs” come to any serious harm? Imagine the insurance pay-outs, not to mention the end of a franchise that still brings in the viewers.

Take Jimmy Osmond trying to grab stars off the backs of kangaroos. “These animals are very dangerous, ” he was told. “They can even disembowel you.”

Well excuse me, but who carefully Velcroed the stars onto the kangaroos in the first place – a far more tricky task than simply pulling them off? Superman, perhaps?

Only Carol Thatcher seems oblivious to the situation, seemingly quite happy to set off driving a car across a rope bridge without a safety harness before she had to be restrained, but then, that’s good breeding for you.

Bushtucker Trials? It’s more dangerous stroking a reindeer.

MORE EQUALITY issues. Who amongst us would still argue that women should do the same jobs as men after two female probationer PCs turned up at a robbery in Bradford? Anyone? Thought not.

THE GAY propagandists have been at it again, committing the ultimate heresy by producing a homosexual Western called Brokeback Mountain in which two cowpokes (and I’m choosing my words carefully here) fall in love around the campfire (oops, there’s another one).

What tosh. Can you imagine Big John Wayne riding side-saddle or Clint Eastwood becoming The Man With No Name Because It’s Really Elsie? And since when did Shirley Bassey sing Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling? The mind boggles.

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone stupid enough to suffer a tinsel-related injury this Christmas, of anyone who gives into their children’s pestering and buys a copy of Chico’s up-coming novelty single, or of anyone on benefits who’s already got an illuminations-size light show flashing away outside their council house. You’re dole scum. You’re not allowed to have fun.

One for all you Septics

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

French fries and a relieved footballer

DEMONSTRATING MY usual impeccable timing, I whisk Mrs Beelzebub off to Paris for a few days, just as the rioting reaches its peak.

As we circled the city on the way into Charles de Gaulle I had half expected to see the skyline lit up by flaming vehicles, but nothing was amiss. The Eiffel Tower towered and the Seine glinted in the moonlight. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. (If you’re Welsh, that’s French for “Oggy oggy oggy”.)

In fact, over the next four days spent in tourist Paris – that bubble of Gallic majesty – I didn’t see a single petrol-bombed Peugot or chargrilled Citroen. No disaffected youths rampaged through the streets, no broken windows scattered shards of glass into the foie gras.

The streets were clean, the architecture was impeccable, the town-planning a lesson to the rest of the world. The only problem was the Japanese tour parties. There you are, quietly wondering whether or not the Mona Lisa is actually quite crap, when suddenly there’s hundreds of the little buggers sneaking up on you while their tour guide barks orders into a walkie-talkie. I now know what it must have been like on Iwo Jima.

Inevitably, there was an Irish pub next to the hotel. Isn’t there always? From Turkestan to Torquay, the one thing you can always count on is paying £5 for a pint of Guinness while some thick-fingered, twinkly-eyed tosser plays Danny Boy on an accordion. Badly.

It’s about time we fought back. I therefore plan to open a chain of English theme pubs across Ireland. We’ll serve Watney’s Red Barrel and Double Diamond, pork scratchings and crisps with little blue bags of salt in them, and have a snug where the women can gather to gossip over a glass of milk stout.

I shall name them “Cromwell’s”.

LAZY LEFTIES often accuse me of homophobia. If they read more carefully (instead of sniffing poppers and playing Shirley Bassey records all the time) they’d see that I couldn’t care less what people get up to in the privacy of their own homes. It’s when they do it in the street and frighten the horses that I object.

Which brings us to last week’s Sunday Mirror front page. “Exclusive: Huntley Goes Gay” it screams, before going on to report that the Soham killer is having homosexual sex in Wakefield prison. Now bear in mind that this is a man who murdered and, in all probability, raped two 10-year-old girls before attempting to dispose of their bodies by setting fire to them.

The Sunday Mirror goes on to quote a prison officer: "It was known that Huntley is a sexual predator but no one had any idea he had become involved in sexual relationships with other male prisoners. While it was known he was an evil paedophile, it was also presumed that he was heterosexual.”

The truth is out. A vile paedophile compounds his sins by also Batting For The Other Side. Now that, folks, is homophobia.

JOHN TERRY is a footballer of some repute, performing with distinction for his club and country. Sadly, he’s also apparently susceptible to a quick spot of … err ... relief from some teenage slag he’s just met in a car park.

There’s no denying the romance of these kind of liaisons. And text messages seem to have replaced the bunch of red roses that usually follows car park congress. According to The Sun, Mr Terry texted his recent acquaintance and her friend in the following manner: “Oh my God I want to **** both of you, I want to watch you ******* each other’s ******* and ******** on my *** ****, then ******* me. I want one of you ****** me and the other ******* ** my ****. I’m gonna give you both the best ******* ever.”

Hmm. I may be missing the point here, but I never understand why errant footballers star out the “naughtier” words. I mean, these are dumb teenagers we’re talking about. How are they going to work out what he's trying to say?

OF COURSE, there’s not much point in teaching teenagers to read and write unless you’re going to allow them the use of writing implements. But according to the British Standards Institute, fountain pens are now too dangerous to be used by children under the age of 14.

This latest imposition of the Nanny State is based on the fear that the drooling nincompoops might swallow the pen caps and then have to spend three days on a trolley in a hospital corridor. (And what about Biros? Don’t they have caps?)

Now I don’t know about you, but when I were a lad we allowed to use the most vicious nibbed sticks that had to be dipped in the ink well on your desk. They were used to settle many a playtime dispute as rival gangs battled for control of the fake dinner ticket racket. Even when we progressed to fountain pens, it was one of those Platignum pens with the inner tube and the little lever on the side that left your desk looking like the Torry Canyon had crashed into it.

But now, along with scissors, pencil sharpeners and anything remotely pointy, they’ve been banned. Am I the only one to think it strange that in NuLabour’s brave new world, a 14-year-old girl can get an abortion without her parents’ knowledge but isn’t allowed to practice legible handwriting?

SHOCK HORROR in the tabloids as newspaper columnists discover the amazing news that gypsies living on official campsites don’t pay their council tax. Of course they don’t, you morons.

Yes, they want to use our schools and hospitals. And yes, they expect us to clear up their appalling mess once they’ve moved on. But pay for it? You must be joking.

Maybe we should all adopt the same attitude, crap in our own back garden, charge the next door neighbour £17,000 for “fixing” a single roof tile that doesn’t need mending anyway, steal the occasional baby and thumb our nose at the council bailiffs who are sure to turn up as soon as we miss a single payment. And see how long we can avoid jail.

Lucky heather, anyone?

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone remotely surprised that this “joined up government” is spending millions on adverts warning people not to drink too much in the same week that they introduce 24-hour drinking, of anyone not looking forward to watching Carol Thatcher on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, or of anyone suckered by the TV series into going out and buying a copy of the impenetrable Bleak House.

We have fan mail again

A porridge wog writes in. (He'd left his phone numbers on, but I thought I'd better delete them in case any of you nasty people started mithering him.)

"In case you had not noticed continental Europe put their clocks back as well and the reason we are not aligned with Europe is highly geographical, take a look at a globe of the world you english Tw*t.

Martin Naismith
EE-54 Turbine Design
Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd & Co KGEschenweg 11
15827 Blankenfelde-Mahlow, Germany


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Those Americans are very strange people

And this is just wrong, wrong, wrong - even if it is "made with real cereal".

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A busy week for the bunny-huggers

INCAPACITATED with a bad back, I can only look on with envy as my man Whittaker sets off for the first official fox hunt of the season.

Having failed miserably to train a pack of fox cats, he has been poring over the detail of the Hunting Act and reckons he has found a way to stay within the law. Apparently you can use hounds to flush a fox from cover as long as there is a bird of prey waiting to perform the kill.

Some hunts have already borrowed peregrine falcons or sparrow hawks, but Whittaker has gone one better. He’s somehow acquired an African vulture called Martin “from a bloke he met in a pub”.

They make a touching pair sitting in the Lower Meadow sharing a slice of crow and dormouse terrine. It would be like a scene from Kes if it wasn’t for Martin’s habit of swooping on passing pets and carrying them off to his lair. He’s only been here a week and already you can’t find a lamp-post without a missing Yorkshire Terrier poster on it.

Of course, this bird of prey business is complete nonsense. No-one expects a fully-grown fox to be pecked to death by a kestrel, although at four foot tall and six stone, Martin the vulture may prove the exception. In most cases the dogs will do the business as ever. And legally.

Which just goes to show what a ridiculous waste of time and money the whole farce has been. Edmund Burke, a 18th Century statesman, political thinker and part-time Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper, made the point: “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”

With over 200 hunts out at the weekend, with the attendant police presence to keep the animal rights loonies in check, and with the same number of foxes killed as in any other year, I think we can safely say that this Hunting Act is bad law.

And I will just point out that so far there has only been one successful prosecution under the new law. The criminal concerned wasn’t a red-coated, double-barrelled toff (the true target of the NuLabour class warriors), but 19-year-old Adam Pengilley, from Liverpool, who was convicted of hunting rabbits with two lurchers and was fined £155 last month.

IT’S BEEN a busy week for the bunny-huggers. Not content with tying up valuable police resources by playing the awkward squad at hunt meets, they’ve also found time to harass a small-time circus in Bolton.

The family-owned Peter Jolly’s Circus attracted demonstrators because it actually uses a live animal, in this case a performing Canadian bear. Now I remember when every circus had performing animals. Surely that was the point?

Lions and tigers, singing sea lions, dancing Poodles, and semi-naked ladies on coiffured horses – such was the stuff of Blackpool Tower Circus throughout my childhood. It was terrific entertainment and a formative experience.

But apparently this sort of thing is frowned upon nowadays, with most circuses being forced by the lentil-eaters into becoming animal-free. (Yet no-one seems to have given much thought to the poor penguins condemned to the dole queue. Apart from the odd gig doing a chocolate biscuit advert for TV, their prospects must have been limited.)

But back to Peter Jolly’s Circus, and the sad tale of Sparky the clown. When 15 members of the Manchester Animal Protection group turned up to hand out leaflets outside the circus, a row developed between the bunny-huggers and two members of the circus staff. One of these was Steven Thompson (28), who was dressed for his role as Sparky the Clown.

One of the wimmin present started taking pictures of Sparky and after a scuffle claimed to have had her camera shoved into her face. She was taken to hospital with a minor injury to her mouth. Her moustache is believed to have escaped unscathed.

Not so Sparky the Clown. He was arrested and cautioned after admitting common assault. Perhaps he should have just stuck to chucking buckets of tinsel at children or driving round in a collapsing car.

Luckily, Sparky seems to have kept his job. And even if he had been sacked, he’d probably have been able to go to an industrial tribunal claiming Funfair Dismissal.

POOR DAVID Blunkett. Fancy having to resign as a Minister for the second time in a year. Yes, well …

Your sympathies might be tempered by the fact that as well as his £133,997 salary, which now falls to a hardly-miserly £59,095 as a mere MP, he will also receive a severance payment of £18,725 – the same as he got when he had to quit as Home Secretary.

It should also be noted that that nice Mr Blah allowed Blunkett to keep his grace and favour home in London, his protection officers, his Ministerial car and his chauffeur after he resigned first time around. And then there are all those lavish expense allowances.

So don’t shed a tear for Mr Blunkett. Cry buckets over the way you’re funding the cushy lifestyle of a man whose judgement makes him unfit to be Sparky the Clown’s stand-in.

MRS BEELZEBUB needed to go to the doctors last week for a routine treatment. (Women’s stuff. I didn’t ask.)

She phoned on Monday asking for an appointment on Friday, the day most convenient for her. She reckoned without the harridan manning the diary. “You can’t book an appointment in advance,” she said. “You’ll have to phone on Friday morning and take your chance.”

Mrs B. is not a woman to be trifled with. She pointed out the fact that booking an appointment in advance was to the advantage of the doctor and that if she had to phone on Friday morning, and was successful in securing ten minutes of his valuable time, she might be denying that appointment to someone who was actually ill.

No dice. In Mr Blah’s target-led Britain, common sense is regarded as dangerously old fashioned. If Joseph Heller ever needed inspiration for a follow-up to his classic novel Catch 22, he’d be spoilt for choice. If he wasn’t dead, of course. Perhaps he couldn’t get an appointment at the doctors …

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this newspaper, of anyone who says “Can I get?” when they mean “I would like”, of anyone who doesn’t understand why we aren’t training our native red squirrels to beat up the invading grey squirrels, or of anyone who is still struggling to reconcile the sybaritic shenanigans of the BBC’s Rome series with their Latin classes at school.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Turning the clock back

I HAVE never much liked Sundays. I suppose the mornings of pub football followed by black pudding, mustard and chip butties with eight pints of Marstons were OK, but winter Sunday afternoons have always struck me as resolutely glum affairs.

I suppose it started when I was a whining schoolboy. Once the ice cream van had been round dispensing raspberry ripple into the various containers we ran outside with, it was all downhill towards another week of school. Even the telly joined the malaise, with Songs of Praise and Stars on Sunday passing for prime time entertainment.

Then it was the weekly bath, followed by the liberal application of Vick’s Vapour Rub, followed by a clean vest. Now this always puzzled me. Why wash your child only to sandwich a layer of sticky, evil-smelling gunk between its skin and its clean clothes? Listening to Radio Luxembourg under the blankets was like spending time in a flanellete sauna (which was perhaps as well seeing as we usually woke up to a layer of frost on the inside of the bedroom windows.)

So I’ve never been a fan of winter Sundays. Winter, you ask? Yes, well I was surprised by it too. There I was, enjoying the sunshine of late summer when suddenly, at about quarter to five, I was plunged into darkness. It was as if God had forgotten to put 50p in the meter. And all because some Scotch farmer wants to save on his electricity bills by milking his cows in daylight.

It’s not right, this nonsense of turning the clocks back. Do you know how many clocks or timing devices you have in your home? I can tell you how many there are in Beelzebub Mansions – 34. It took me the best part of three hours to try to change them all (that’ll teach me to bin the instructions) and I’ve still got the cooker turning itself on for 17 minutes at 04.05 while the Sky Plus thingy keeps recording that small hours classic, Basic Personal Hygiene for the Welsh.

It’s madness, but there is an answer. We should fall into line with Europe (yes, I know you never thought you’d hear me say that) and the Jocks should simply have their own time zone, 60 minutes behind the rest of the civilised world.

Listen, I’ve been there. It’s like going back 50 years in time anyway. Another hour isn’t going to make any difference.

OF COURSE, when we’re not rubbing our children with Vick, (in possible breach of Social Services guidelines) we’re lecturing them about staying safe and, in particular, not accepting sweets from strangers. And then, on October 31st every year, we send them out at night to … err … beg sweets from strangers.

Why have we fallen for this American crap? Ten years ago, Halloween was a small-scale excuse for primary school teachers to get their classes of illiterate monsters to draw pictures of ghosts with glue and glitter. Now it’s a multi-million pound industry, with all the big supermarkets weighing in with everything from pumpkins to poltergeist costumes.

It is to be dissuaded, and so I stocked up on home-made brussel sprouts dipped in chocolate to dispense to trick-or-treaters on the doorstep. Someone has to make a stand, and having the cat nailed to a tree later that night is a small price to pay for this simple act of defiance.

FOLLOWING MY remarks last week about fat people, and their inability to accept responsibility for their own condition, a number of readers wrote in response. Some used green ink, some used crayons, and I swear that one envelope contained grains of sugar from a doughnut. Or anthrax.

There was one constructive comment. Why not, posed this thoughtful reader, make the doors on fast food outlets smaller then the salad-dodgers won’t be able to get in? You have to admit that it’s stunningly simple, and a damn sight cheaper than yet another government initiative.

OH HOW we laughed in the public bar of the Dog and Blunkett when it was suggested that after banning smoking in boozers, the next thing the Nanny State would target would be the telling of jokes in pubs, or enjoyment of any kind beyond the 24-hour consumption of alcopops.

Oh how I didn’t laugh the next morning when I read that the RNID, the charity for the deaf, and the TUC have already started down that route. They complain, rather loudly and in a funny voice, that 568,000 people working in bars, pubs and clubs are exposed to noise levels that could permanently damage their hearing. And they’re serious.

Which explains why it’s so difficult to get served in some places. The bar staff are already wearing ear plugs.

STILL WITH matters liquid, it appears that if you down 12 pints and half a bottle of vodka on your lunch break, you are a binge-drinking threat to society. If, however, you drink 48 bottles of lager while trying to balance on a beam, you are an important international artist.

Hence the appearance of Ms Tomoko Takahashi, who performed such a feat at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff last week. Theatre boss James Tyson justified the performance thus: “This wasn’t just about a woman drinking a lot of beer. This was a powerful piece of art.”

Starving pensioners amongst you will be further delighted to learn that Ms Takahashi received £5,000 of taxpayers’ money to fund her booze-up. Applications for a grant from other “artists” seeking to repeat the performance, particularly around Christmas time, are not likely to be successful.

I’M SURE I’m not the only one of us to find modern life occasionally confusing. Take Monday morning. I open my super soaraway Sun to find a supplement announcing the launch of a new range of baked beans … made by Branston, the giants of Planet Pickle. Given that I often apply a dollop of Branston’s nectar to my beans on toast, you can imagine my excitement.

So off I shoot to the nearest Waitrose to give them a whirl. Disaster. There’s no pickle in them at all. They’re just beans. Now what is the point in that?

YOU HAVE to laugh. The bunny-huggers at Greenpeace have been fined £4,000 by the Philippine government for damaging a coral reef at a world heritage site by driving their ship, Rainbow Warrior II, into it.

The cause of the accident is unknown, but police are investigating reports of a drunken Japanese woman balancing in the rigging.

O The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this website, of anyone surprised to hear that they’re celebrating the Indian festival of Diwali in Ambridge (patronising or what?), of anyone who hasn’t already bought their wife that “Music To Do The Housework To” CD being advertised on the telly (we spoil them, don’t we?), or of any married man surprised at the fact that Camilla took 60 dresses with her for an eight-day tour of the USA. Seems modest to me.