Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Botty love and The Big Issue

IT WAS one of those conversations around the Christmas dinner table. You know, the kind where one wayward comment brings proceedings to an embarrassed halt.

At least this time it wasn’t me who brought on the festive silence, but an ancient matriarch of the family. It was between the excellent Duchy Originals pudding and the ceremonial arrival of the Christmas Stilton that we somehow strayed onto the subject of civil partnerships, dangerous ground at any time but more so when debate has been lubricated by a few bottles of a jolly spiffing Beaujolais.

“Of course,” the grand dame ventured, “Elton John doesn’t have a sexual relationship with David Furnish. I mean, how would that work?”

Dear reader, at this point I had two choices. I could either explain to an 80-year-old woman the technical and physical aspects of botty love, or I could quickly change the subject. I chose the latter option, and pointed out to her my man Whittaker’s newly-acquired baby penguin which was creating havoc in the goldfish pond outside the window.

Were have all these gay people come from anyway? You can’t even flick through the pages of the Daily Telegraph these days without coming across a picture of Wing Commander Norman “Nobby” Bullsocket-Peevers holding hands with a male hairdresser from Penge 30 years his junior. It’s most odd.

I blame Bullseye. Yes, Bullseye, the darts-based quiz show hosted by Jim Bowen for what seemed like decades. I arrived at this conclusion after giving up on mainstream Christmas television by Tuesday afternoon and resorting to searching the 598 satellite channels for something vaguely entertaining. And that happened to be Bullseye.

You see, here you have two blokes from the same pub darts team competing for derisory amounts of cash and the occasional star prize. Now when they failed, jovial Jim would say “Let’s see what you would have won,” the screens rolled back and there was a nice speedboat. (Quite what use a speedboat would be to two jobless blokes from Derby is neither here nor there.)

Yet when the contestants did manage to fluke a win, they never got a speedboat, oh no. They got a single berth caravan. So these two blokes have to go off on holiday together for the foreseeable future … well a man has needs, doesn’t he? I shall go no further. Bullseye, the cause of the collapse of civilisation as we know it.

ONCE THE invading family hordes had been dispersed back to their own refrigerators, I came across a copy of The Big Issue left behind in one of the guest suites. I never buy it myself, being a fervent believer that all beggars own homes and cars and merely sit around on street corners looking forlorn because they’re too lazy to work for a living.

Idly flicking through it, past the pictures of Malcolm “Cashpoint” McTavish holding hands with a male outreach worker from King’s Lynn 30 years his junior, I saw an advert for an intriguing organisation called The Violence Initiative. “Violent?” the ad read. “Telephone 020 8365 8220.”

What a splendid idea, especially at Christmas. You know what it’s like when the tensions of hosting a family gathering build up to boiling point. Well now instead of causing a ruckus by punching an errant nephew, you can ring these people up and they’ll send someone round to have a fight with you on your doorstep. Marvellous stuff.

However, I’m not too sure about some of the other ads in there. If we set aside my aforementioned premise that all beggars are property owners, and accept that some of the bundles of rags littering our town centres are actually in real need, why would they want to download ringtones, connect friends’ mobiles to prank calls, adopt an endangered animal or join the Socialist Party?

If I was a tramp down to my last fiver you could be sure that given the choice between buying a gallon of White Lightning or signing up for Scargill’s Barmy Army, the cheap cider would win every time.

And what about this one? “Can you help us? We are a couple who have been through several failed IVF attempts … our doctors have told us that the only chance of conceiving will be by using donor eggs. If you are a woman aged between 18 and 35 … please contact Desperate Diane.”

Now I can assure you that I share Diane’s pain and sympathise with her. However, were I in the same boat (metaphorically, of course) the last place I would be egg-hunting is amongst the dishevelled ranks of Britain’s junkies and alcofrolics. Good God, who would want the parent of their offspring to be some mad bag lady who hasn’t changed her underwear for three years?

I SEE that the Animal Rights nutters were out and about menacing innocent fox-hunters on Boxing Day. Well if they really want a cause to fight, can I suggest that they look into the plight of Emu?

As far as I can tell, the poor bird hasn’t been seen in public since that fateful night in May, 1999, when Rod Hull fell off his roof while trying adjust his television aerial so he could watch a football match. That’s over six long years – what if he’s stuck in the loft or locked in a suitcase somewhere? It beggars belief that the bunny-huggers should be agitating about a law their own Lefty government passed while a deserving case like this goes uninvestigated.

SO WHAT did you get for Christmas? We played a new game at Beelzebub Mansions – find the present that wasn’t made in China. My good wife thought she’d triumphed with a packet of Scottish Shortbread, but the fine detail on the box revealed its source as Shanghai.

And another thing. Since when were children’s toys – in this case a simple train set – nailed to their boxes with all manner of staples, plastic ties and even metal screws? It’s madness. Have you tried keeping a E-number crazed two-year-old shouting “Choo choo” at bay for 35 minutes while you find the oxy-acetylene torch to free their bloody present from its packaging? No wonder I ended up phoning The Violence Initiative.

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 queuing at the Pound Shop to return an unwanted present, of anyone who found themselves idly wondering on Christmas afternoon just how long you’d get in jail for murdering a visiting pensioner, or of anyone who’s got a fridge full of mouldering exotic food but can’t actually find anything they want to eat. Oh, and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

And a Happy Winterval to you all

IT IS EARLY morning at Beelzebub Mansions. The church bell tolls relentlessly for the passing of poor Betty Tucker. Meanwhile half a dozen illegal sprout-pickers roll over in the bottom of the hedgerow where my man Whittaker has housed them and curse The Archers in fluent Albanian.

As I emerge from the West Wing the man himself is standing on the croquet lawn, alongside a huge lump of metal. It looks like bronze, must weigh at least three tons, and appears to vaguely resemble a reclining figure. God only knows where he’s got it from. (The same could be said for the baby penguin struggling under his arm.)

It appears that this is our Christmas gift, a step up from the “dancing otter” water feature that he acquired for Mrs B. and myself last year. I suppose it’s the thought that counts. And if the worst comes to the worst, we can always get Mr Quixall from the local scrap yard to pop round and melt it down after Twelfth Night.

Later that day, Mrs B. offers me the illusion of a choice. We can either attend the gay wedding reception of village hairdresser Blow Dry Burton and his part-time pantomime dame boyfriend or go to one of those horrific “Xmas Fayres”.

Now I don’t know about you, but I usually steer clear of “Fayres”, “Shoppes” or anything with “Olde” in the name, but faced with an afternoon of Shirley Bassey records and fairy cakes, I reluctantly succumb.

So we get to this “Xmas Fayre” and I’m astonished to be charged £3.50 just to get in. What’s that all about? Since when do you pay for the privilege of buying something? It’s like Tesco making you buy a season ticket before you’re allowed to give them all your money.

So I’m £7 down before we even cross the threshold, where things don’t get any better. You might expect that something labelled a “Xmas Fayre” would be selling stuff related to Christmas. You know, decorations, sweets, cakes and booze, that sort of thing. Oh no, not this one.

There were stalls selling batik T-shirts, healing crystals, sandals made out of recycled Guardians, wind chimes, CDs of whale music, sawdust-flavoured yoghurt and foul-smelling incense. Oh, and you could also buy three jars of pickle for £13.50. Yep, that’s right, £13.50. This wasn’t a “Xmas Fayre”. This was an invasion of pseudo-Hippies selling cack to gullible passers-by when it just happened to be December.

Oh, and there were candles. Lots of candles. Have I missed something? Has Mr Prescott turned off all the nuclear power stations and half of the population doesn’t have electricity any more? When I were a lad, candles were a necessary evil. You needed them when there were no more shillings for the meter and you needed them when you had to pay a visit to the outside loo.

Then came the prosperity of the Thatcher years and suddenly everyone had central heating and running hot and cold electricity. So why does every shopping mall in the country have one of those stupid candle shops? Where have they come from? Who keeps buying them?

Anyway, we left the “Fayre” within 10 minutes. On the way out I had to be physically restrained from abusing the bearded rip-off merchant on the door who was wearing a Fair Trade jumper made out of old sacks, but who probably owned one of the many 4x4s in the car park.

FROM THERE I was frog-marched to Waitrose, where frantic women were taking two trolleys at a time into the store. And we’re talking big trolleys here – a full one would easily be enough to feed an African village for a week.

It appears that we have to buy bread and milk for the freezer. Four loaves of bread and 16 pints of milk, to be precise. I try to explain that the shops are only shut for 48 hours over Christmas, but I am hit over the head with a bag of pot pourri and poked with a roll of three-metre tinfoil with Anthony Worrall Thompson’s face on it.

The queue for the checkouts is of such a scale that the Salvation Army is serving hot soup to those of us at the back. When we finally get to the front, I notice an old boy wearing grey plastic shoes at the till next door. There he is, surrounded by people toting mountains of food, while he has a small wire basket containing … a tin of sardines and a ball of red string.

He’s in no rush. He spends ages carefully putting his goods in a carrier bag and then pulls the familiar OAP stunt of looking surprised when asked to pay. The search for the purse begins, followed by the careful counting out of coppers, some of them even legal tender. Meanwhile behind him the lengthening queue of Mr and Mrs Balsamic Vinegar slowly seethes.

Well, we’ve all got to get our kicks somehow.

THE BUSIEST man this Christmas isn’t the old geezer with the spectacles and the white beard, but a bloke called Iqbal Sacranie, head honcho of this country’s Muslims.

He’s spent the last six weeks answering the phone to journalists eager to put to him the latest anti-Christmas story – the council that’s re-named it “Winterval”, the firm that’s banned cards and presents, the town that’s torn down its decorations – and every time the answer is the same: “Offended? Not me. I love Christmas.”

And there lies the rub. I haven’t come across a single Muslim, either in person or in the press, who finds our traditional Christmas and all the crap that goes with it in the least bit offensive or threatening. The only people who get their knickers in a twist are well-intentioned but ultimately stupid Lefties who see their role as enforcing a sterile, politically-correct lifestyle on the rest of us. Oliver Cromwell would have been proud of them.

The inherent danger is that this stamping out of Christmas breeds resentment amongst the great unwashed, the Burberry apes and the council estate scrotes, who then turn on the local Muslim community who haven’t even complained in the first place. But that wouldn’t occur to the kind of public sector manager who thinks that the fairy on top of the Christmas tree is likely to spark a new jihad.

AND SO the Christmas Stilton is safely gathered in. I’m taking no chances this year. Sitting alongside this hoodlum of the fridge is a sturdy round of Stinking Bishop and a potentially-lethal and incredibly pungent unpasteurised Epoisses from France. Let’s see the blue-nosed bully try his usual tricks (leering at the cranberries, stealing the chocolate money and sexually harassing the brandy butter) with those two minders keeping an eye on him.

Pip pip!

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 unlucky enough to have a vegetarian coming for Christmas dinner, of anyone still tramping the streets trying to find a remote-controlled Dalek, or of anyone foolish enough to give me a goat donated to an African village as a present. I at least want to see it first. And play with it a bit.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Welcome to the Temple of Twaddle

I AM DRAGGED, kicking and screaming, to the horribly fashionable and hugely expensive organic supermarket, with Mrs B. determined to persevere in her quest for healthy eating.

I have come equipped with a large wad of banknotes and a bad attitude, both necessary in this megastore of middle-class smugness. Everywhere you look Timothys and Tabathas squeeze the discoloured onions and nod sagely, while little Oscars and Ophelias run riot amongst the free-range firelighters. It’s like a Guardian readers’ day trip. On an ecologically-friendly charabanc of course.

This really is a Temple of Twaddle, a Palace of Platitudes, a Shrine to Self-Righteousness.

I will admit that the meat looks good, although it’s astronomically expensive. To feed a family of four on such exotic and organic fare would require a substantial public sector salary. Maybe that’s who all these people are. Outreach workers and BBC executives. Senior social workers and council managers. OFSTED inspectors and NHS box tickers.

But the vegetables … what are you supposed to do with them? Mis-shapen, lumpen, angrily scowling in their beautifully-designed displays. The minute you pay for them, they start to decompose with an almost malevolent spite. I started to peel potatoes for tea, and by the time I’d cut away all the grey scars, I’d ended up with a collection of small white starchy marbles.

It might be organic, but that’s no bloody good if you never get to eat it. Two days after my visit, I actually tasted tinned peas for the first time in many years. I have to say that they were very, very good. All that was missing was the Fray Bentos tinned steak and kidney pie. And some Smash.

OF COURSE, Mrs B’s healthy eating plan might have been all in vain if she hadn’t managed to dodge the stupid cyclist who came whizzing along the pavement as we left Dick Turpin’s Vegetable Emporium.

For once, this one wasn’t one of the notorious Lycra Louts. It was just a silly girl, complete with wicker basket and college scarf. But what on earth made her think it was safe to ride at speed into a blind corner on a busy pedestrian street?

The car-hating council apparatchiks have spent millions of our hard-earned pounds on sticking red-tarmaced cycle lanes on every road in the city, yet the more these two-wheeled morons are catered for, the more they invade our space. What is going on?

At a time when innocent motorists are being persecuted for such heinous crimes as “picking their noses while stationary at traffic lights” or “listening to Jonathan Ross on Radio 2 with the windows open”, cyclists literally ride rough-shod over every traffic by-law in the business.

When did you last see one of these flying fools actually stop at a red light? When did you last see them signal on a roundabout or respect a box junction? The world’s gone mad.

And worse than that – yes, worse than that – when they get to the office, THEY DON’T EVEN SHOWER!!! So they’ve sweated all the way in from their organic lentil farm 12 miles out in the countryside, wearing hand-knitted cycling pants made out of re-cycled yoghurt pots, and then they expect to sit unwashed next to fellow employees for eight hours?

Have you ever smelt a bad case of Pedallers’ Crotch? I’d rather keep a tame Scotch tramp in the office. And his one-eyed lurcher.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

All aboard Gordon's gravy train

IT IS appropriate at this time of year that we should turn, once again, to Tony’s Turkey Army – the 5.8 million workers whose public sector jobs rely on them not voting for Christmas or, in this case, not voting for anyone but NuLabour.

You’d think that they’d be content with their jobs for life, their above-inflation pay increases and their massively subsidised pensions taken at a ridiculously early age while the rest of us have to solider on towards our seventies. I also suspect many of them don’t actually do much “work” as those of us in the private sector know it.

Unfortunately, they’re also proving skilled exploiters of the compensation culture that pervades the public sector mindset. Meet Judith Windross, a 56-year-old social worker in the employ of Hampshire County Council. Ms Windross fancied moving to another job (still within the protective embrace of the public sector, of course), but was horrified when she was turned down by Wokingham District Council because of a reference written by her current employers. Bear with me. It gets better.

The reference said that Ms Windross was “narrowly focused, not a team player and had poor written skills”, which is not surprising as Ms Windross freely admits to being dyslexic. In fact, here is the lady herself on her condition: “My dyslexia adversely affects, amongst other things, my reading, writing, spelling, grammar, ability to concentrate for long periods, my memory, my pronunciation, my orientation, affects my self-esteem and confidence and can lead to performance anxiety.” She also claimed that her dyslexia left her prone to falling downstairs and that she did not feel comfortable speaking to groups of people.

Now you may think that mentioning these things in a reference, however obliquely, was perfectly reasonable, particularly as Ms Windross’s new job would involve preparing detailed written reports and appearing in court to address judges and magistrates. Not so in the wonderful world of political correctness.

Ms Windross promptly took both Hampshire County Council and Wokingham District Council to an industrial tribunal claiming that she’d been discriminated against because of her disability. And, probably in the hope of escaping publicity, they both paid her compo before the hearing began. Doubles all round and the taxpayers foot the bill.

Now I’m not suggesting that disabled people shouldn’t be allowed to work. As I’ve said before, someone has to make all those wicker baskets or man the tills at Tesco. But am I alone in expressing surprise that a woman who can’t read, can’t write, can’t spell, doesn’t understand grammar, has memory lapses, can’t concentrate, has low self-esteem, can’t speak properly, suffers from anxiety attacks, can’t talk to large groups of people and falls down the stairs now and then (breathe) should have got a presumably responsible job in social services in the first fucking place? She sounds more like a customer than a carer.

The gravy train next pulls into Crosby, in Merseyside, a regular stop where four out of ten of the population works for the public sector while half of the rest don’t bother working at all. Meet Gavin Bassie, a 38-year-old fireman who’s just trousered £100,000 in compo for damaging his knee in a keep-fit session after slipping on a patch of “invisible dust”. That’s “invisible” in that no-one ever saw it.

I used to complain that all firemen did was sleep in between rescuing cats and answering false alarms at schools. If they’re going to be claiming hundreds of thousands every time they pull at muscle, bed’s the best place for them.

Now I’m not picking on public sector workers purely out of spite. Of course we need binmen and teachers, nurses and policemen. But the current level of non wealth-generating employees just can’t be sustained. We already have the ludicrously unfair situation where state apparatchiks can retire at 60 while we must labour on. We already have average families handing over almost half of their earnings in one form of taxation or another. It simply can’t continue.

A year ago Gordon Brown promised to make over 104,000 central government staff redundant (although if their jobs are redundant, what were they doing there in the first place?). Instead, the recruitment drive has continued, with another 95,000 workers clambering aboard in the past year.

And that’s how you end up with an allegedly cash-strapped hospital recruiting a £37,000-a-year “art curator” while a Second World War fighter pilot has to sell his medals to pay for his wife’s hip replacement operation.

Sometimes this country makes me want to puke.

I’M CONFUSED about all these German Markets springing up in every town in the land. What’s all that about then?

Do they have English Markets in Germany at this time of year? Is there a stall in Frankfurt where a Burberry-clad pillock with sovereign-encrusted paws knocks out white sports socks, three pair for a pahnd? Are the population of Cologne buying pirate DVDs of Harry Potter from a shellsuit-wearing Scouser with an untaxed Transit van? Is Dusseldorf deluged with cheap plastic lighters, vanilla candles and donner kebabs? The mind boggles.

CAN SOMEONE explain to me why the families of the July 7th bomb victims are whining about the “derisory” £11,000 compensation payments they have received from the government?

I can see that we should help out where a family has lost a breadwinner, but any member of a victim’s immediate family can queue up for the cash. It doesn’t make sense.

I’m very sorry that you’ve lost a brother or even a son in this tragic manner, but why should I have to pay for your hurt feelings? Any spare dosh that’s sloshing around should surely be targeted on improving the shattered lives of the badly wounded survivors, shouldn’t it?

IT’S GOOD to know that with the number of burglaries, sex crimes and robberies rocketing, our system of law and order still treats one and all the same.

So congratulations to the council litter warden in Doncaster who fined an 11-year-old boy £50 for dropping an apple core. And bravo, the police who arrested a woman who went to the Cenotaph to quietly read out the names of British troops killed in Iraq. As for the policewoman who phoned up an author she had heard taking part in a radio debate and warned her that expressing the opinion that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt was “homophobic” and possibly criminal … well, words fail me.

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 daft enough to buy one of those Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker thingies, of anyone who agrees with Mrs B. that I shouldn’t buy one of those pick-up trucks with “Animal” or “Warrior” written on the side, or of anyone who hadn’t realised that George Best wasn’t buried in Belfast, but cremated in Hemel Hempstead.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bring on the bird flu

A NUMBER of newspaper columnists are in high dudgeon over plans to increase the retirement age to 67 or above.

They bleat about all these poor old people and how they’ll have to work long beyond the date they expected to, or otherwise be condemned to a diet of cat food and tinsel for all eternity.

What tosh. Any changes won’t affect anyone currently over the age of 50, so it’s hardly as if your Gran is going to have to go back down the pit, is it? And anyway, even if it was, they could cope. Don’t forget, this is the generation that didn’t see a banana until 1956. They saw off Hitler; I’m damn sure they could handle a bolshy customer at B&Q.

(And why shouldn’t they get a job anyway? Unless we get a sharp dose of bird flu, half of the population will be of pensionable age by the year 2030. Someone’s got to pay for our failing schools and hospitals.)

I’ll give you an example of their resourcefulness and animal cunning. Last week Mrs B. dragged me kicking and screaming to the nearest shopping mall. It was Hell, dear reader. Bleating Big Issue sellers jostled with hooded youths who were bumping into Xmas-crazed housewives. Even the shoplifters were getting fed up and were going home.

We joined a queue in Argos where Mrs B. had purchased a foot spa, destined to spend the next 10 years at the back of someone’s broom cupboard. After 20 minutes we were approaching an uninterested checkout girl when a sweet old lady, 85 if she was a day, popped up in front of us.

“Excuse me, dear,” she said. “Would you mind if I nipped in front you? It’s just that I’m going to miss my bus if I have to wait.”

Now I’ve been brought up properly. I never leave the milk bottle on the dinner table, I stand up for the Queen’s Speech and I get out of the bath to have a wee. So of course I agreed. The old lady nipped in front, paid for her cat food and tinsel and was gone.

Twenty minutes later we were in Boots, once again at the back of a long, long line. Up by the till there was something of a kerfuffle. A sweet old lady was in conversation with the couple at the front of the queue. Yes, dear reader, it was her. The bus she was rushing for? What bus? Well shake me up Judy.

An hour later I spotted her doing it again, this time in Marks. So what do I do? Do I rush to the front of the queue and denounce her as a fraudster? Do I follow her around town harassing her until she jumps into her Honda Civic and drives the wrong way down a motorway?

I did what any middle-aged, middle class Englishman would have done. Absolutely nothing.

So when you read sob stories about pensioners having to work until they’re 147, call to mind that sweet old lady, who probably spent five years garrotting Gestapo agents for fun. You can’t be too careful out on the streets these days.

(Incidentally, I asked Mrs B Senior what she wanted for Christmas. She asked for “one of those George Formby grills”. Right. So that’s a sandwich-maker with a built-in ukelele then?)

THE OTHER thing that really annoyed me about having to spend five hours in the company of my fellow man is how many of the buggers are hauling walking sticks around with them. And it’s not as if we’re talking proper cripples here; it’s just fat people in polyester with a grey NHS metal stick that they wave around ineffectually in front of them.

The latest figures, based on the number of claimants, show that one in seven of the population is classed as “disabled”. That’s getting on for nine million people. Do you really believe they’re all genuine cases? I don’t.

Our streets are littered with so many shysters with sticks trying to remember to limp in case the DSS is videoing them that the average High Street resembles a World War One hospital ward. And that’s before we get to the whiplash fakers wearing neck braces. No wonder half the car park at Tesco is off-limits to the able bodied.

Of course, this blatant abuse of the system at the expense of the ordinary working man makes it all the more satisfying when one of them comes unstuck. Which brings us to the curious case of the goal-scoring gimp.

Now bear in mind that 26-year-old Matthew Hughes is Welsh, and therefore probably genetically stupid, but trying to claim £10,000 in compo from his local council for injuring his knee after tripping on an uneven pavement wasn’t the wisest move. Especially when he was pictured in his local paper playing for his football team at the same time the accident is supposed to have happened.

After spotting the photograph of Hughes sliding on his knees in celebration after scoring a goal, council officials hauled his sorry arse into court where he promptly copped for 14 days in the clink for making a false claim. Oh, and there’s the small matter of £33,000 in costs to pay as well.

As I say, highly satisfying for the rest of us. But assuming that just half of the nine million registered “disabled” are trying it on in one form or another, that means there’s still 4,499,999 million tax thieves getting away with it.

OF COURSE, the root cause of the compo culture is aggressive advertising by ambulance-chasing lawyers. Watch daytime telly and you can’t avoid having their promises of easy money shoved down your throat. (And why do they advertise on daytime telly? Because their target market of the feckless and greedy have already started their 18-hour shift on the couch.)

One particularly irritating example is the current advert for a company called Injurylawyers4u (obviously spelt like that so morons can understand it), in which a shouty woman supposedly grills a dodgy solicitor: “Do I have to pay anything up front? Do I receive 100 per cent of the compensation?”

I tell you what, love. Speak to me like that and you’d soon be claiming for a busted nose.

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 who thinks domestic violence is something to joke about, of anyone who hasn’t tried that new Chinese/German restaurant yet (very good, but half an hour later you’re hungry for power), or of anyone remotely surprised that pavement cyclists have killed nine pedestrians and injured more than 1,000 in the past five years. Perhaps that’s why everyone’s carrying sticks.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Don't blame me. I'm just the messenger.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hello, hello, we are the Bigley Boys

SO THERE I was, happily shooting magpies in the Lower Meadow (they show up so well against the snow) when I am confronted by a horrifying apparition.

A naked man well over six feet tall, wearing only a gas mask and with two gym mats wrapped round his arms, is running round throwing eggs at the postman. I deduce from the Prince Albert piercing and the tattoo of the Blessed Margaret on his backside that my man Whittaker is reliving his old army days.

Having rescued the postman from these unexpected attentions (not because I have any affection for him but because he steals fewer postal orders than the previous incumbent) I sit Whittaker down for a chat, which is problematic because he refuses to take off his gas mask.

It turns out that he’s had a letter from the Ministry of Defence telling him that as a retired TA member he might be called up to go to Iraq. Apparently not enough usefully violent youths are taking the Queen’s Shilling and so the old guard might have to turn out again. We discuss trying to argue that General Factotum and Whipper-In is a reserved occupation, but he loses interest and runs off to butcher a rabbit … with his teeth.

So here we are. It’s 2005 and we’ve run out of soldiers. It’s my understanding that our entire armed forces could now comfortably fit inside Wembley Stadium (if we had one). That’s why they’re having to send poofs and cripples into battle. By contrast, the legions of pen-pushers in the MoD now comfortably outnumber the ranks of fighting men and (spit) women. There’s something wrong there.

(Incidentally, why all the fuss about George Bush wanting to bomb the Al-Jazeera televison station? We hung Lord Haw Haw after the war, didn’t we?)

Last week I complained that the MoD had spent £272,000 on works of art to decorate their Whitehall HQ. This week it emerged that they’d coughed up a further £361,000 on widescreen plasma televisions for HQ. That’s 139 of them costing £2,600 each – Sky Sports has never looked so good. And that’s an awful lot of body armour.

But I tell you what would really annoy me if I was unlucky enough to be dodging roadside bombs and incoming RPGs in Baghdad – these so-called peace campaigners who keep getting themselves kidnapped.

What is a “peace campaigner” anyway? Do they hang around the mosque waiting for the baddies to come out and then politely ask them not to pull the trigger or plant that bomb? Is their arrogance really such that they think they’re able to resolve Iraqi insurrection with a free Gideon’s Bible and a quick burst of Onward Christian Soldiers?

As far as I can see, they’re just barmy old God-bothering busybodies who’ve repeatedly ignored warnings about their safety and now presumably expect some poor squaddie to put his life on the line to rescue them from the Bigley Boys. Leave them to it, I say.

I SUPPOSE we’ve been warned often enough by Mr Blah’s Thought Police. Either toe the line or become a non-person.

Those of us who are white, male, middle-aged, able-bodied, and who dare to have the odd drink or the occasional fag are about to be rounded up and condemned to poverty, pain and a premature death. Let me explain.

When Avon and Somerset Constabulary advertised for recruits, it received almost 800 applications for 180 vacancies. Of these, 611 people were put through to the second stage of the selection process. (Bear with me. I know all these numbers are confusing for the state-educated amongst you.)

That leaves 189 people who didn’t make it through. Would it surprise you to learn that 186 of those were white males? And given that every female, ethnic or disabled candidate was automatically put through to the second stage, one can only imagine who the other three failures were. Burglars? Terrorists? Peace campaigners? Gary Glitter? (And can I just point out that I’m all for providing the disabled with useful work – who else is going to weave all those baskets?)

So they won’t give us a job unless we’re one-legged black bicycling lesbians. What about our health care?

Not so fast, Mr Average. You had a couple of pints last night, didn’t you? You’re a tad overweight and is that a cigarette I can smell? There’s the door over there.

Yep, in future illnesses deemed to be self-inflicted could deny you treatment under the self-same NHS that you’ve helped to fund all your working life. Such “illnesses” include being overweight, a smoker or a drinker. (Cheers, George. Thanks for wasting that bloody liver. Now we’re all lumped in the same boat.)

What isn’t clear is whether or not this discrimination will extend beyond the unfashionable vices. What about someone who falls off a mountain? That’s self-inflicted, isn’t it? They didn’t have to go up there in the first place. And if we leave them lying in a crumpled heap, we can save the petrol money for the helicopter as well.

What about sports injuries? Or people who need treatment for drug abuse? Or people who crash their cars while speeding? And what about homosexual AIDS-sufferers? Do we just condemn them to a slow and painful death because they chose to Drop Anchor In Poo Bay?

It’s obvious that the Catholic church couldn’t care less about them, otherwise they would have approved the use of condoms years ago, but I’m not sure a civilised society should write them off so readily.

STILL ON matters pink, Teignbridge District Council in Devon has spent three years and £3,000 on employing staff to track down homosexuals on its patch who were suffering from discrimination. They then intended to lavish them with love and kisses, support and understanding, all at public expense.

Alas, to their embarrassment, they’ve been unable to find a single put-upon gayer to support and have given up the search. Maybe that Little Britain chap from Llanddewi Brefi should put in for a relocation package.

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 puzzled as to why unemployed Liverpool schoolgirl Coleen McLoughlin puts up with millionaire footballer Wayne Rooney’s alleged dalliances, of anyone who wouldn’t rather have a nuclear power station at the bottom of their garden instead of 132 wind turbines, or of anyone who didn’t run screaming from the room when David Dickinson’s wife turned up on IACGMOOH.