Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Prince and the Pot Noodle

A MAN could get seriously depressed should he set aside time to consider the many dangers that threaten our cosy little existence.

Politically-correct policemen, lying politicians, incompetent teachers. Soaring crime, rampant drug addiction, soft sentencing and overcrowded prisons. Social workers. Socialism. The return of Supermarket Sweep to tea-time television. Racism, road pricing and Robert Kilroy-Silk. The Turkey Army. Turkey Twizzlers. Turkey’s entry to the European Union. Muslim extremism, Morris dancing, moray eels. Health and safety, Ainsley Harriott, Audley Harrison. The Welsh. And some bloke in his bedroom stuffing bangers into Jiffy bags.

There’s just a few to be getting on with. But I would never, ever, have pointed the finger at that archetypal ingredient of British suburbia, the cul-de-sac.

OK, it’s got a French name, and that’s got to be wrong, but apart from that what horrors could possibly lie in a dead end of semi-detached houses?

Step forward, HRH the Prince of Wales, who this week besmirched the innocent cul-de-sac as an environmental menace that fostered crime, car dependence and obesity.

It appears that Charlie has persuaded some of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, including Barratt, George Wimpey and Bovis Homes, to bin suburban closes in favour of higher density “Victorian-style grids”. One of his advisers (his name is Hank, so get that pinch of salt ready) explains that many cul-de-sac dwellers routinely burn a litre of petrol on a shopping trip to buy a litre of milk by the time they’ve made their way out of the estate maze to get to the nearest shop.

Another Yank, Dr Richard Jackson, claims that cul-de-sac dwellers weigh on average 6lb more than residents of traditional towns. He fails to acknowledge that town people weigh less because they’re constantly running away from knife-wielding muggers, but there we go.

I don’t know about this. First of all, how often do you see HRH the Prince of Wales nipping down to the corner shop in his slippers for a tube of Pringles and a Pot Noodle? Secondly, cul-de-sacs are relatively safe from crime. Even the cops recognise this. By the time your scally burglar has run the gauntlet of twitching net curtains on his way to that open bedroom window at Number 23, the switchboard at the local nick is in meltdown and the police helicopter is already hovering overhead.

Yes, they’ve inflicted upon us soaring leylandii, wife-swapping and those blokes who dress in stocking-and-suspender aprons and hover over their barbecues on summer weekends, but is that all bad? No cars zoom past your house at 90mph, your kids are relatively safe playing out in the street, and if your marital experience is suffering from bedroom boredom there’s always that minx four doors away who you can see sunbathing nude in her conservatory. If you use binoculars. And lean out of the bedroom window a bit.

Nope, you’ve got this one wrong, Chas. Best talk it through with the tulips.

SO IF I told you that we were expecting four inches of snow overnight, you’d dig the wellies out of the garage, remember to put a vest on, and look forward to the slippy and slidey journey to work as some kind of adventure.

If I was to tell you that 10 centimetres were expected, then you’d put masking tape over your windows, retreat to the cellar with the catering size can of beans and sausage, and load the shotgun ready for the looters to come calling.

Of course it’s all the same. I think of it as a private sector versus public sector sort of thing. Four inches of private sector snow means that most of us struggle to work, the shops stay open and capitalism continues uninterrupted.

Ten centimetres of public sector snow means that thousands of schools are shut, the binmen and the postman daren’t venture out without incurring the wrath of the union, and every single accounts department in the country is at home watching the scrotes taking DNA tests on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

I blame the BBC. If only they had the bottle to use proper imperial measurements in their weather forecasts instead of propagating that foreign muck, we’d have shrugged off a few snowflakes and got on with our lives, instead of battening down the hatches and succumbing to cowardly chaos.

NOW WE all know, without a doubt, that you can’t catch bird flu by eating properly cooked poultry. But that didn’t stop the middle classes hovering nervously around the organic chicken section at Waitrose on Saturday. For those who did take the plunge, perhaps they were reassured by the fact that their bird had led a happy and fulfilling life and now, in death, was now costing them a cool £15.

No such luxury for the shoppers at Lidl. In there people were buying what they could afford to feed to their families, not what a combination of fashion and fear dictated. Pound shop chicken is the staple diet of the nation’s poor. So there’s no point in the rest of us bemoaning the factory farming methods that produce cheap meat unless we can provide people with the financial means to pay for something a bit better. And that’s as well as buying their daily ration of cooking lager.

WE’RE ALREADY being persecuted by council parking attendants, dog muck mercenaries and loitering litter wardens: now another breed of heavy-handed high-visibility jacket wearers is about to descend upon us – yes, it’s the Smoke Police.

Local councils are to be given an astonishing £30million a year to recruit staff to patrol the cafes, clubs and pubs after July 1st this year to hand out £50 spot fines to illegal smokers and grass up publicans and café owners to the magistrates. They will be equipped with secret cameras and will be allowed to go undercover.

There are two reasons why this is a criminal waste of money. Firstly, most smokers are reasonable people who will adhere to the ban; secondly, those smokers who aren’t reasonable and who flout the ban will be either drunk or aggressive, in which case Joey Yellow Jacket won’t be going anywhere near them in the first place.

And finally, we turn to Scotland, where one council has employed two full-time Turkey Army soldiers at a cost of around £60,000 a year to impose the ban. In the past year, they have issued four –yes, that’s FOUR – warnings to transgressors and no – yes, that’s NO – fines. Even I can work out that that’s £15,000 per warning: a splendid use of public money, I’m sure you’ll agree.


Blogger sky_dog said...

''So there’s no point in the rest of us bemoaning the factory farming methods that produce cheap meat unless we can provide people with the financial means to pay for something a bit better. And that’s as well as buying their daily ration of cooking lager.''

F**k me sideways Baz! I realised a few posts back that you'd been having problems with the slates on your roof ... are you compounding your illness by turning into a socialist as well? I think we should be told ;o) Please send me a(nother) f**k-off e-mail if it help your rehab/convalescence.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Kraut said...

What's happened to you Baz? Have you taken a holiday? Sold your column to someone else?

I've been reading this column for about the last 3 years just to keep reminding myself why I don't live on the American aircraft carrier anymore.

But suddenly this looks like it's been taken over by a Grauniad blogger. Think I'll go back to reading their Comment columns - they're more hard hitting!

Please can we have the old Baz back?

11:11 PM  
Anonymous tony b.liar said...


Kraut is absolutely correct; Bazza seems to have lost something. I have followed his columns since early 2000 when writing in The Bristol Evening Post.This is an extract form the first one on 9.3.200...........
I have a friend who has just had an extension built onto his house.
During the first few days of the project, my friend noticed that his builder did not exactly conform to the swearing, tattooed, bum-cleavaged stereotype we have all come to know and love. Indeed, he seemed an altogether more sensitive soul.

After a week, my friend was firmly of the opinion that his builder, who we shall call Bob, was one of those chaps who err, carried his hod on the other shoulder.

Confirmation of this came during their first builder/client barney when Bob, asked quite reasonably to explain why the project was already overdue and over-budget, stamped his foot, hurled his trowel to the ground, tore off his pinny, burst into tears and shouted: "You just don’t know the pressure I’m under."

Anyone who has ever had the builders in (oops, missus) knows that they are complete bastards. They never do what they say they’re going to do, they never finish a job on time and Jeffrey Archer seems to be heavily involved in writing their estimates.

So it was that Bob the Blubbering Builder became something of a local attraction. People who had suffered at the hands of so-called tradesmen in the past would pop round just to watch my friend reduce Bob to a snivelling wreck. Sometimes there’d be 15 people hiding behind the curtains, watching as humiliation was heaped upon Bob’s handiwork, and sniggering at the resulting histrionics.

Consequently my friend’s extension was woefully late and massively over-budget. But that didn’t matter. Ordinary people had enjoyed the chance to gain a little revenge on a representative of the profession which had so often reduced them to tears.

I tell you this in light of the news about the faulty fountains which form such an integral part of Bristol’s wonderful, new-look £4 million city centre.

Instead of getting the original contractor back to repair them, let’s give Bob the job. Then we can all go down there and hurl abuse at him in retribution for the complete and utter mess he and his comrades have made of the place.

If anyone at the city council wants to phone me, I’ll pass on his number. Best stock up on the Kleenex man-size though.

- Barry Beelzebub

* The views of Mr Beelzebub are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or staff of this newspaper, of the Archers’ scriptwriters who so enjoy being beastly to the Grundys, of the poor workman who’s taken a fancy to Hayley in the Coronation Street cafe, or of the woman who used to be my Nanny and who is now touting round stories about how I once wet my pants in Littlewoods, Leicester.

It's a great shame that the quality of Bazza's prose of late nowhere near matches this. Judging by the Blog, even diehards like Jimmy McT, Kris, The Weardale Militia, Chris and good old Black Dog himself have given up too.


7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's always been shit. I'm surprised you've just noticed. All that arselicking from Black Dog has must have taken its toll ...

8:01 AM  
Anonymous mook said...

Christ, T. B. Liar, You do have a lot of time on your hands don't you.

I have this mental picture of you now sitting in a bedsit in bristol surrounded by Evening post clippings, and imagined likenesses of Barry, and perhaps a maps detailing his last known movements.

it's quite an.. err.. 'impressive' hobby you got there.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other people would just call him a wanker.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous tony b.liar said...

Dear Mr "Mook",

Terribly sorry to disabuse you of your fantasies old chap, but I don't live in Bristol, nor in a bedsit "surrounded by Evening post clippings, and imagined likenesses of Barry". [Top marks for mental imagery though] Try Home Counties/large house instead! If you are REALLY interested [and I assume so, otherwise you wouldn't be posting frequent comments on Bazza's blog], you can go to: for the complete columns from 3/2000 to date. Not that I wish to waste any more time reading back issues than I spend writing on this blog you understand.......
......anyhow at least my post flushed the usual profane "Anons" out of the sewers. It would be nice if they could complete a sentence in English, doncha think? Whether you agree with Black Dog or not,he's intelligent and perceptive, no "arselicker" and can certainly put together a rational and cogent argument - which is a lot more than can be said for his intellectual pygmy detractors!

Pip pip!!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Me, a die-hard? ;-)

In truth, Baz's posts are always entertaining but sometimes you can't be arsed to comment, though no fault of Baz.

Anyway, something to whet the appetite when it comes to bemoaning the state of 'elf and safety.

4:15 AM  
Blogger sky_dog said...

anonymous:'Other people would just call him a wanker.'

Wots up luv? Bitter because your boyfriend hasn't given you a reach-around lately? X

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes me laugh is the fan club debating the relative qualities of each week's missive while the man himself clearly couldn't give a fuck and just ploughs on regardless.

Perhaps in terms of the bigger picture, your self-important blathering does't even register.

4:15 PM  
Blogger sky_dog said...

Anonymous blatherings register even lower down the scale.

11:07 PM  

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