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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bludy All Hallows Eve otr Walpurgistnacht (Hallowene to our plebians) Some cretinous individual threw three eggs at the front of our house - I thought at least they were supposed to knock and demand protection money, or will they be back tonight? holding our parrot by his crackers and saying "pay up or Polly gets it "

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about the Jocks being 60 minutes behind the rest of europe.....

60 years more likely

1:14 AM  

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