Friday, June 23, 2006

Reclaiming an age of innocence

WHEN THEY come to judge the reasons for the complete breakdown of British society in a 2025 show trial, they should call as evidence The Dangerous Book For Boys.

(Yes, I’ve managed to get down from that tree, thank you.)

Not because it has contributed in any way to the disintegration of life as we knew it, but because the very fact that it was published six years into the new Millennium tells us an awful lot about the innocence we have lost.

If you are unfamiliar with this best-selling tome, its premise is simple: a compendium of 100 or so subjects that boys should know about, from “Making A Bow And Arrow” to “Five Knots Every Boy Should Know”. There are useful Latin phrases, historical chapters on the British Empire and The Romans, “A Brief History Of Artillery” and the essential “Hunting And Cooking a Rabbit”.

It is a work of simple brilliance, tapping into the lost youth of 40-something fathers while hopefully tempting obese 10-year-olds away from their computer games and out into the fresh air. I mean, who could resist skimming stones or making secret ink; building a tree house or learning to play poker?

Open it up and William and his gang of Outlaws spring to life. Every pocket contains a conker, a fluff-encrusted Olde English Spangle and a penknife – used, in this instance, for removing stones from horses’ hooves, rather than disembowelling an annoying schoolmate.

It’s even educational, with sections on Grammar (remember that?) and “Five Poems Every Boy Should Know”. There’s a breathless hush in the Close tonight, Ten to make and the match to win, A bumping pitch and a blinding light, An hour to play and the last man in.

Why have we lost the combination of imagination and adventure that sustained many of us through our youth? When did we lose the ability to pass on those social skills to our children? Why are they fat and feckless, while we were lean and lively?

True, times have changed. These days a paedophile lurks in every bush when in our day it was just Barmy John, the willy-waving roundabout rider, who we instinctively knew to stay away from. Try to build a Go-Cart today and you hit an immediate problem – there are no prams from which you might steal the wheels. Everyone’s got one of these ludicrous four-wheel-drive, six-position, leather-seated, £500 baby buggies. With a CD player.

Make your own catapult and an Armed Response Unit will soon have you pinned down behind the swings; experimenting with timers and tripwires will have Special Branch storming up your stairs at six in the morning (even if you don’t have £38,000 in used fivers in the cellar); tanning a skin is likely to upset your lentil-eating sister if it doesn’t involve the local beauty salon. And then there’s the thorny topic of girls.

The Dangerous Book For Boys , clearly recognising the intense difficulty of the subject, is cautious in its advice. Don’t tell them rude jokes, don’t be vulgar (e.g. excessive bottom burps) and make sure your nails are clean. An innocent age indeed, especially when the object of one’s desire has probably got tattoos, multiple piercings and a thong by the age of 11.

WHEN I’M lying in my hospital bed, what would I rather see? An impressive array of hi-tech equipment being used by well-trained professionals, or a 9ft multi-coloured sculpture of a rock climber? It’s not a difficult question, is it?

Yet Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust has decided to fork out an incredible £50,000 on the aforementioned sculpture on the spurious grounds that the artwork will improve the hospital’s environment and assist in the recovery of patients.

If the Trust was awash with cash, like some of our obscenely rich animal charities that struggle to spend the millions bequeathed to them by mad old ladies, perhaps such indulgence could be forgiven. But this particular organisation is an impressive £37million in debt. To blow the cost of 12 kidney operations or the salaries of two nurses on such an indulgence therefore seems a little perverse.

But what do I know. I’m just one of the mugs who funds such stupidity through my ever-increasing taxes.

CAN ANYONE explain to me why Baden Baden is full of footballer’s wives and girlfriends? What possible purpose are they serving out there, other than to disrupt and deflect the attention of our players from more important matters at hand?

These are high-maintenance women, more Lynda Snell than Clarrie Grundy. It can’t be easy learning how to defend a near-post corner (something most of us mastered in junior school) when you’ve got a whining wife perpetually on your mobile droning on about spray tans, hair extensions and Nancy Del Olive Oil’s suspiciously prominent Adam’s apple.

You can bet that Ecuador aren’t suffering from the same distractions. I only hope that Sven’s tactical masterplan of selecting a strike force consisting of a circus freak, a little boy and two near cripples is enough to see us through.

I REDISCOVERED the long-lost joys of oxtail soup the other day. It’s meat, only in a cup. What a fantastic invention. No wonder the sun never sets on the British Empire.

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 was accidentally exposed to Tony Woodcock's "German porn star" hairstyle the other night, of anyone who doesn't want Ghana to thump Brazil, or of anyone not genuinely upset because a huge windfarm off the Norwegian coast has minced up this year's entire stock of white eagle chicks. Why can't the tree-hugging bastards just go nuclear like us?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Release the wandering tigers

MUCH IS made of the lack of opportunity for members of our ethnic minorities, so it’s good to see a couple of bright youngsters showing the rest of their compatriots the way to a lucrative life.

So let’s say you’re a typical Muslim lad: Bollywood and bangra, baseball cap and a pimped-up Vauxhall Astra with those boom-boom speakers that let you generously share your musical taste with sleeping neighbours. How are you going to make your fortune? It’s easy. Just shave your head, grow a silly “upside-down man” beard, and start wearing a sack. Sooner or later people will notice the change in your appearance. Then just sit back and await the six o’clock knock.

True, you might have to put up with the minor inconvenience of getting slightly shot, but as long as you don’t mind that – as well as spending a few days in a nice warm nick being questioned by the spooks – you can expect a decent pay-out of at least … ooh … say £500,000. And you get to go on the telly. Money for old rope, isn’t it?

Forgive my facetiousness, but when you look at the eye-rolling protestations of the Liberal Left over the Forest Gate raids, it’s difficult not to scratch one’s head and wonder what on earth is going on. I don’t for one moment believe that MI5 relies solely on the word of the nosy old woman in the laundrette when it comes to intelligence gathering. They must therefore have had substantial and substantive information that something fishy was going on, and that it involved chemicals in some way.

What then are they to do? Wait for an anthrax bomb to go off in amongst the crowds watching Ingerland on a big screen? Keep watching and waiting until one of the suspects starts heading towards the nearest tube station? Send round Sergeant George Dixon to tap politely on the door and inquire as to whether or not the occupants were actually suicide bombers and careful as you go?

Of course not. Once there was any significant information regarding a real threat, correct or not, there was only one course of action to take. Get in there quick and sort it out one way or another. That we should now be talking about a massive tax-free compo hand-out for hurt feelings and a broken front door shows how barmy we’ve all become. Do suspected burglars and drug dealers get cashback every time they’re nicked? I think not.

And anyway, no-one’s yet explained where that £38,000 in used fifties that was hidden in the Forest Gate house came from. Perhaps someone had won an earlier series of Opportunity Knocks.

BACK TO those big World Cup screens that the BBC erected in towns and cities all over the country at massive expense to the poor licence-payer and against the advice of police. What were they thinking of?

Has no-one in the Beeb’s Stupid Ideas department ever watched a football match in a pub? Did they not think what might happen when that drink-sodden scenario was multiplied by a factor of 100? And then brought nicely to the boil by an absence of Factor 50?

Expecting some of the drunken scrotes who’d be attracted to these bright lights to behave themselves impeccably while watching the tactical genius that is Sven Moron Eriksson floundering in the face of lesser opponents was a triumph of hope over experience. It was therefore no surprise at all when minor riots broke out in Liverpool and London, resulting in the plug being unceremoniously pulled at many venues.

I would suggest that the BBC might want to pay the costs incurred by the police and councils who had to clear up the mess they created, but of course, it would be you and me who paid, wouldn’t it?

(Oh, and congratulations to The Sun for almost avoiding mentioning the war by sneaking the headline “Late rally in Nuremburg” into its coverage of the Trinidad and Tobago match.)

THERE MUST be some terribly clumsy children out there. I arrive at this conclusion after reading that the council in Torbay has identified the resort’s trademark palm trees as “a danger to the public”.

Councillor Colin Charlwood (Liberal Idiot Party) has confidently declared “What if one of those sharp leaves caught a child in the eye, for example? It’s a bit like keeping tigers – they are beautiful to look at, but you wouldn’t want them wandering the streets.”

Right, two things: firstly, thorough research via that interweb thingy tells me that there hasn’t been a single case, anywhere in the world ever, of a palm tree leaping out and blinding an unsuspecting child. That means – if Councillor Halfwit is to be believed – that it must be clumsy children stumbling onto the palm trees.

Secondly, who is he to unilaterally declare that we wouldn’t want tigers wandering the streets? I can think of several situations where a tiger or two would be a welcome addition to the pavement populace – particularly anywhere the BBC has erected a giant World Cup screen.

I WAS going to write about The Dangerous Book for Boys, the bestseller that encourages fathers to introduce their male offspring to the more robust activities of their youth, but unfortunately I’m stuck up this bloody tree at the moment …

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 doesn't think that Argentina are going to win the World Cup, of anyone who phoned up Alan Green on 606 to say "Everything's fine, we've qualified", or of anyone who doesn't think that Sven has completely lost the plot if he can't see that Gerrard needs to play in the hole. Warning: Comments from Porridge Wogs and women will be deleted.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fluttering flags and killer cake

IN THESE difficult days of international terrorism, it is important that we are eternally vigilant.

So what if it takes 450 policemen, assorted spooks and a helicopter to arrest two young brothers who’d raided the dressing-up box before going out to a demo? You just never know where the next suicide bomber or chemical attack is coming from.

So congratulations then to Age Concern, managers of a daycare centre in Barnstaple, for averting a potentially fatal incident by banning Mrs Elanie Richards, a retired district nurse and Women’s Institute member, from bringing in a home made cake when she visited an elderly friend.

The suspect Madeira was excluded on health and safety grounds because its ingredients were unknown and it could have wiped out the entire resident’s lounge. Shop-bought cakes, however, are allowed.

Let’s examine this a little closer. The “killer” cake contained flour, unsalted butter, sugar, free range eggs and grated lemon rind. A shop-bought equivalent would contain all of the above, plus E475, E100, E106b, E471, E475, E450, E500, E170 … I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

As ever, a mealy-mouthed jobsworth is wheeled out to try to justify the stupidity of the decision. Step forward, Andrea Scott, regional director of Age Concern: “We don’t know where these cakes come from but if something went wrong then we could be sued. If I let one person do this, it will open the floodgates.”

Like the floodgates reference, Andrea. I now have this vision of a Devon care home gradually being buried beneath a mountain of malevolent Maderia.

I SUPPOSE that if we’re no longer going to let them eat cake, we may as well make old people thoroughly miserable by taking away their televisions as well. That’ll give them something to moan about in the queue snaking round the Post Office.

It has emerged that thousands of short-stay care home residents are being pursued for the full £131.50 licence fee if they have a television in their rooms. Now while long-term residents are charged a fee of £5 a year and over-75s don’t have to pay at all, the BBC’s legalised muggers have decided that thanks to a loophole in the legislation, they can now extort the full amount from the frail and sick.

Ironically, the news comes in the same week as the announcement that millionaire BBC chairman Michael Grade is to pocket a £60,000 pay rise for taking charge of the BBC Trust, a new set-up that will replace the board of governors. This will take Mr Grade’s salary to £140,000 a year for a four-day week. Not bad if you can get it.

The back of the fag packet tells me that this is around £122.81 an hour or, in simple terms, near enough one household’s licence fee for every 60 minutes spent discussing last night’s Celebrity Karaoke Cooking On Ice over tea and biscuits. And probably enough to pay the licence fees of all those short-term patients in care homes …

MORE FLAG news: as World Cup fever spreads, the politically correct tie themselves in knots in their pathetic attempts to stamp out this rampant patriotism. Police in Hampshire have warned (with straight faces as well) that car flags could easily generate a “loud flutter” which might scare wildlife and cause horses to bolt – a major consideration, I’m sure, in downtown Portsmouth.

Meanwhile Tesco have been forced into a humiliating climbdown over their ban on delivery drivers carrying flags on their vehicles after it was gently pointed out to them that Tesco stores were currently full of … England flags.

Of course, nowhere is the snobbery over the flying of the Cross of St George more apparent than in the pages of The Guardian. As far as their readers are concerned, we’re all closet racists who are using the World Cup as a cover to plot the forced repatriation of the bloke from the corner shop.

Nice then to see a dose of reality on the letters page, the usual hang-out of smart arse Lefties. Replying to one correspondent from Surrey , who had sneeringly asked where he might obtain an Argentinian flag for his car window, Steve Ridgeway from Macclesfield writes: “Daniel Adler is in luck. I have three, all of them liberated in a place called Goose Green back in 1982. I look forward to the mirth it will produce in Farnham.”

That’s telling them, pal.

DROUGHT UPDATE: It’s stopped raining at last. Meanwhile Sutton and East Surrey Water Board has threatened circus owner Martin Burton with a fine of up to £5,000 if he doesn’t stop his troupe of clowns throwing water about in their act. The ban at Zippo’s Circus covers water in buckets, water pistols and even squirting plastic flowers.

I’m not sure if there was an official statement warning about “opening the floodgates”, but if there wasn’t, there should have been. Send in the clowns, indeed.

AND FINALLY, a man who obsessively stole eggs from birds’ nests to the point that the RSPB described him as “public enemy number one” has died.

Colin Watson fell 30ft out of a tree while trying to reach a sparrowhawk’s nest in Yorkshire. Sometimes, just sometimes, you think that there might be a God after all.

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 knows where I can get a bet on Ruth Archer playing hide the sausage with Sam the cowman while David is away (trust me on this one), of anyone who really believes that the Big Brother Kit Kat draw was entirely random (winner - another woman with big tits), or of anyone who didn't have a barbecue at the weekend. No wonder there's a chicken drumstick-sized hole in the ozone layer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I'm right, you know I'm right

IT’S NOT always easy swimming against the tide. I’ve been harassed by tree-huggers, threatened by animal rights nutters, attacked by militant vegetarians and once had the entire Muslim Council of Great Britain marching down the road towards me carrying burning torches.

But it’s a cross I gladly bear, not least because sooner or later I always turn out to be right.

Take global warming, for instance. The do-gooders have been preaching at me for years, saying that we’re all doomed and will be up to our knees in melted icecap by Christmas just because I use a 4x4 to drive my empty wine bottles to the recycling skip. Now it turns out that the biggest generator of carbon monoxide on the planet isn’t a yummy mummy doing the school run in a Chelsea tractor but … trees. Yes, trees.

Whole jungles of the malicious bastards, pumping out enough guff to put a hole in the ozone layer the size of Australia every week. So all those smart-arse millionaire pop stars who came over all holier-than-thou by planting forests as a tax dodge will be smiling on the other side of their faces when their Norfolk estates are under six feet of seawater.

Then there are the so-called veggies and their weird eating habits. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re going to do something, you should do it properly. So that means no handbags and no leather shoes. Otherwise all they’re achieving is killing a cow and then chucking away the best bits, i.e. the meat.

And what’s “vegetarian bacon” when it’s at home? Tree bark and minced balsa wood mushed up, coloured, and then extruded into the shape of a rasher? What’s the point in that?

Then there’s soya, the staple diet of daft teenagers and poncey middle-class women who think it’s just a harmless affectation. Oh really? Do you know where soya comes from? The Amazon. And did you know that vast swathes of jungle are being cleared, at the cost of huge damage to wildlife and the environment, just to grow the stuffing for vegetarian sausages? I thought not.

IT APPEARS that I am not alone in having somewhat trenchant views on this subject. A visiting fellow in evolutionary psychology at Newcastle University has had his e-mail and internet access rescinded after upsetting the bunny-huggers by writing an article entitled “Why vegetarians should be force fed with lard”.

This follows his earlier efforts “Why banning hunting is wrong” and “A woman’s place”, which makes some very valid points about how letting women out of the kitchen is threatening to cause the collapse of Western civilisation. (I have to say, he seems like a very sound chap.)

Needless to say, the Thought Police have now swooped after complaints from the hairy armpit brigade. Still, we all know what value our current Powers-That-Be attach to freedom of speech. The poor bloke’s probably been deported by now.

the border we must go, to the land where the women smell of mutton and sound like Wee Jimmy Krankie. There, the Scottish Executive (the governing quango that is awash with English taxpayers’ money) is warning landlords and bar owners that they may be forced to stop serving traditional pub meals.

Apparently the Executive is considering proposals to force landlords to promote “sensible eating” as a condition of their licences by banning pies, beans and chips from their menus.

For goodness sake, have you ever been to Scotland? It’s a horrible place, full of drunks, shortbread and drizzle. The poor inhabitants (i.e. those who can’t afford the rail fare South) must have some consolation in their lives. That’s why they invented the deep-fried Mars Bar. And what’s better to soak up the pints of heavy and chasers? Pie, chips and beans or a nice rocket salad?

POOR JOHN Prescott. First everyone complains that he hasn’t got a proper job, then everyone complains because he was caught playing croquet instead of doing the proper job he hasn’t got. Work that one out.

And it’s good to know that class-hatred works both ways within the ranks of NuLabour. Am I the only one who thinks that this “story” wouldn’t have registered on the national radar if he’d spent the afternoon cleaning out his pigeon loft in Hull, rather than playing a game for toffs on the lawns of a mansion? They just can’t help themselves, can they?

And meanwhile some MP called Alan Johnson has decided that he would quite like to be the next former union leader to while away the hours reading Marxism Today from the comfort of a state-funded four-poster bed by replacing Prescott as Deputy Prime Minister.

Well excuse me. Isn’t this the man who only last month was appointed Secretary of State for Education? Is there any chance that he might set aside his rampant opportunism and spend at least half a year teaching our children to read and write before rushing off to stick his snout in another trough?

boxer, Prince Naseem Hamed, in prison for almost killing a man while showing off his sports car, has landed himself a cushy job training other lags in the gym.

Is this altogether wise? It’s already bad enough trying to defend your home from burglars and robbers without the State giving them free lessons in the efficacy of a good left jab.

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 doesn't think that Alistair will turn to drink now he's knocked the gambling on the head, of anyone who hasn't already made plans for a mad dash to Germany once we get to the quarter-finals, or of anyone who hasn't already seen Big Brother Leah's horrendous porno pictures. Badly packed kebab springs to mind.