Monday, March 27, 2006

Similar to the squirrel issue...

mentioned yesterday, in the UK we also have a badger issue. It appears that badgers are carriers of TB and can pass it on to other animals, wouldn't be an issue if the other animals were anything but cows. Badgers therefore represent a huge economic problem, solution, kill badger. Not quite the twee outcome described so movingly in Kenneth Graham's timeless trilogy, 'Badger Gets It In The Chest.'; 'Poor Badger.' and 'Put A Brick On That Lid Mother, This One's Not Going Quietly.'

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Squirrels and badgers...

have been receiving a poor press in the UK this past week. Grey squirrels originally from the US have almost driven out the native red squirrel though I'm not sure how. One news bulletin said the greys were aggressive, smoked short stubby cigars and referred to everyone as Bud. Red squirrels on the other hand organise village fetes and drink weak tea. I've been unable to ascertain how the grey squirrel first arrived on these shores but I presume it was with a visa, or shipwrecked and clinging to a spar. Squirrels are expert clingers, maybe the first one arrived clinging to someone's hat. Victorian Customs and Excise were not as versed as we are today on American hat couture so it would be an easy thing to miss. Hat clinging as a means by which animals might avoid detection of course ended when it became policy in this country to x-ray everyone's head. Concern visited one hat owner when a feature she thought an example of avant garde styling was shown to be a moose.

Red squirrels strike me as a pretty feeble bunch and with names such as Tarquin and Algy it's easy to see why. I can imagine them simpering on some beach when the first grey washed up.

"I agree Tarquin, a fine spar indeed but what pray might be clinging to it"?
Tarquin waves his nosegay in merriment, "I do declare it is a squirrel, a huge grey squirrel. Ha ha ha".

Both Tarquin and Algy titter for some time each hoping the other would make a useful suggestion. The grey squirrel meanwhile opens a weather eye and pulls from his rusted thermidor a stubby cigar.

"Got a light Bud.".

In response Algy laughs, "Ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha". And fingers his ruff.

"Are you a... squirrel"? Asks Tarquin who offers the grey his flint and cotton.

"That I am. New Jersey born and bred."

"And in this New Jersey are all squirrels large and grey?"

"They are."

Algy flourishing a handkerchief wipes his little red brow before asking, "But, ah... you're the only one here... in the country... yes? "

"For the moment."

"For the moment?"

"I got a brudder coming in on the nine o'clock hat."

Tarquin and Algy both say,"Oh".

Red squirrels, they had it coming the wimps. Tomorrow I'll say a little about badgers.

This is my mate Rachel...

currently touring India. I promised her a mention so here it is, though that desert could be anywhere. North of Liverpool is a 10 mile or so stretch of shallow coastline that has sandunes and sand. To the best of my knowledge it doesn't have camels so I suspect she really is in India.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A joke.

Man really drunk late at night with his mate in the pub. They stagger back to the man's house and settle down in the front room to drink more. Mate notices a huge gong hanging in the corner and asks what it is. Man says it's a clock. Mate says how does it work? So man picks up a hammer from floor and in his drunken state eyes gong before giving it an enormous wack. The room begins to shake and the noise is tremendous, both man and his mate are shocked by the din. Suddenly a thumping can be heard through the partition wall and a muffled voice shouts. "It's three o'clock in the fucking morning!"

Friday, March 17, 2006

So I was driving along...

and it started to snow, really snow, like blizzard conditions, and in Manchester at that. I knew immediately the snow was not a regular visitor to these parts because my windscreen quickly became covered with thousands of icy particles each bearing a tiny shocked face mouthing "What the fuck!!!!" and clinging on to the glass for all they were worth. Opening the window I could hear a cacophony of high pitched voices whining like that trapped creature in the concluding scene from the 1958 version of The Fly. "Help meeeeeeeeeeeeee." they cried, "Help meeeeeeeeeeeee." and others said, "Ooof. Ooof. Ooof" as their brother and sister crystals boffed in behind. Many at the front became squashed shouting "For fuck's sake! Watch it at the back, if you don't mind." One or two of the lighthearted began a running commentary for those who were still landing.

"Yeah, he looks weird, mad staring eyes, pursed lips, uneven teeth, half an ear but at least his hairy hands are on the wheel. Ooof. Ooof. Excuse me!"
Another said, "I think my doze is broken."
An unshaven one grunted,"Shut the fuck up, you weed." before it turned to me and demanded, "What you looking at wanky boy? Ooof." A chaplain crystal declared that we should love all our fellow creatures.

"What's he doing now? Ooof." Came a voice from the rear.

"Hang on, there's movement, there's movement." And all peered in, except of course the one with a squint who could only comment on the passing shops, though to his credit he did push the chaplain through an air intake, an act that brightened everyone up, myself included.

Other voices shouted, "Is he still there? The one with the ear?"
"Half an ear," Someone corrected.
"Half an ear? Where's the other half then? Go on ask him."
So I said, "I haven't got half an ear, it's just misshapen."
"He said a bear ate it." And loads nodded, like they were impressed.

"How does he account for those teeth then?"

That was the final straw so I turned the heater to 14, or MEGATHERMICBOILINGSUNSCORCH alongside which is the handy warning (Only recommended if vehicle of no further use). The wipers were cranked to RUTHLESS, a setting famous on the Ford Thug as the sole alternative to, WIPETHEMYOURFUCKINGSELFYOUWHININGARSE.

New reports were sent from the front, "He's grinning now. No, laughing aloud, very aloud. And there's an odd look in his good eye."
A recent arrival paused before asking, "Is that maniacal laughter?"
And another said. "Ooof. Hang on, this sweeping bar, it's a Aaaiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

Brutal but efficient. Two arcs immediately blew over the roof and the rest were got by the heater but not all were melted. I know this from words that reached me as I pulled away.

"Oooh, I'm glad we're getting off here cos there's a sale on in that shop, or shops. Well, over there..."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Of late my car has...

been plagued with thumping noises from under the bonnet so I took it to a garage. The aged mechanic said "Leave it with me and I'll phone once I've identified the problem."

"Fair enough." I said and walked the couple of streets to my office. He phoned later.

"I've identified the problem." He said.

"Oh yes?" I said.

"Yes." He said.

Then followed a silence until I said "And?"

He replied, "And what?"

"What have you discovered?"

"It's a car troll."

"A what?"

"A car troll."

"A car troll?" I repeated.

"A car troll."

So I said " What's a car troll?"

And he replied "A troll that lives in cars."

So I said "A troll that lives in cars?"

And he said "Yes."

So I said, "I didn't think trolls really existed."

And he said, "Well there's one in your car."

So I said, "What's it doing?"

And he said "I think its lurking."

"Lurking?" I said.

"Lurking." He replied.

"Is this a common problem? " I asked.

"I don't know." He said. "Is it a common problem?"

So I said, "How should I know?"

And he replied "Well, it's your car."

There then followed a silence.

So I said, "What is it doing?"

And he said, "What's what doing?"

"The troll."

"It's just sitting there, looking bedraggled on a little shelf just behind the engine."

So I say "Well tell it to fuck off."

"Fuck off?" He says.

"Fuck right off." I say.

Later the garage urchin accepted £60 in payment though being illiterate offered no receipt however before returning the keys he did press a greasy thumb to my cheek. I'd not driven far when loud thumping began from the engine compartment. Furious, I stopped the car jerked up the bonnet and made room as the aged mechanic climbed out.

Wiping his oily rag around his oily neck he said "Sorry about that."

We stood together for a moment until I said.

"The troll fucked off then?"

And he said "What troll?"

So I ran him over.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

We've got a new...

automatic front door at work. Not one of those that discreetly shush aside like on the Starship Enterprise, oh no. This is a single door that opens outwards and with some venom since local children discovered the tension control and turned it to max. They then ran a book on how far over the houses opposite small animals might tossed after being thrown into the infra red beam. I won £20 for guessing the 250 metres flown by an indeterminate rodent belonging to a little girl with pony tails known as Sherry because of what she was drinking. Apparently some fat kid with an expertise in geometry ran the whole show. Later the police were called when they began throwing each other in but only because it's illegal in the UK to bet on yourself. Bloody kids, don't know the meaning of the word restraint.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cat dies...

of bird flu. How ironic is that? The news has terrified the alley cats who live at the back of my house. I know this from hearing them whispering about it on Wednesday evening when I looked over the gate. One was reading aloud from a newspaper about the dangers of avian flu in the wider animal population and particularly amongst cats. Laugh? I almost threw an embolism. A scrawny cat with scars noticed me grinning and nudged the reader who looked up. "Yeah, you fuckers," I shouted. "Be no more shitting in my pots when you're all dead from bird flu. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha." And then I ran back inside before things turned nasty.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Similar to other cities...

at this time of year Manchester does not look its best. Winter's attrition has been severe. Beneath every privet hedge, down every alley, under every bus shelter old fag ends, faded news sheet and absolutely hundreds of those green fizzy drink bottles lurk. I was made particularly aware of this today when I kicked one of said bottles that was just there, in front of me, the way they are. To my surprise a muffled "Hey, yer fuggin bassard, watch yer feet!" rose up from the pavement and thinking I'd stepped on a homeless person I jumped back. The voice continued to mutter . "Yerrrr, fuggin bigfoot. Step on me. I'll fuggin show yer... yer, er, er... bollocks. Hrr hrrr, arse!" My eyes were drawn to the bottle and bending down I could see within it a green imp.

"Fuck me," I said, "It's a green imp."

Peering up from his plastic home he replied, "I wouldn't fuck you even if they threw in a bonus winch to make it easy. And I'm not an imp duh, I'm a genie. Dontcha know anything about genies? Genies, bottles, bottles, genies, gedditt? Ever heard of an imp in a bottle? Huh! Huh! Only genies in bottles," Hands on hips he paused then said, "What the fuck's an imp?"

"A type of tiny magical being." I replied.

He was tapping his foot impatiently, "And do they come in bottles these imps?"

"I've never heard of one in a bottle. But then again I thought you lot traveled in lamps,"

"Only yer lamp genie son, only yer lamp genie. I'm a bottle genie, it's obvious to most people." This restless creature with frizzy hair and dilated pupils had a wild maniacal look about him. He took to pacing a few steps one way then the other, stopping every now and then to look at me.

"You seem agitated," I said.

"It's the sugar. Lots of it, in the drinks. Man I'm fucking wired I can tell you." He flexed his shoulders and began one of those little dances boxers do before a fight, punching the air, dodging and weaving. "Yeah, wired. COME ON! COME ON! Hurr hurr." From nowhere he produced a kitchen chair and sat down.

"Is there many of your sort in bottles of pop?" I was curious and at the same time drawn to this odd little phenomenon.

Crossing his legs he lit a cigar that appeared as if out of the green. "One in every hundred thousand bottles. That's the ratio. Specialist posting you see. Only for those who can handle THE FUCKING SUGAR! Oh yes. And look, still got me own teeth." He grinned and indeed his mouth seemed full of, well, teeth though it was hard to assess their condition through billowing tobacco smoke. He started to cough and choke.

I became worried, "You okay?"

I could barely make out his spluttering shape in the thickening cloud. A faint and cracked voice reached out to my ears. "Help, help. Not enough, cough... cough... air."

My anxious face pressed closer to the bottle "Bloody hell!" I said "What do you want me to do?"

"The lid," He gasped, "Undo the lid, let... in... air."

So I said "Open the lid? Do I look like an idiot?"

As suddenly as it came the smoke disappeared and there he stood boldly, arms crossed and pouting. "Always worth a try."

I was late for my next appointment so had to rush away. "Right," I said, "Got to go." And then remembering I asked. "How come you're trapped in that empty bottle, why didn't you escape when it was opened?"

Grumpily he replied. "Ugly fat gobbing teenager with spots and saliva and greasy skin and... fucker opened the bottle downed it in one and I was just making my break when he burped and to be honest the gases drove me back. Fuck, I was heaving for ages afterward. The bottle stank, took three aerosols to shift the smell. And then he goes and screws back the top! Screws it back! A fucking arsey stomach churning gobshiteing teenager, would you believe it? Screwed the fucking cap back on." He began marching again and stamping his feet, "Little bastard, I'll fucking kill him. Fucking kill anyone. DO YOU HEAR?"

It was definitely time to leave so I said. "Got to go. In a hurry you see. Appointments and stuff."

"You fucking turd!" He shouted, "Don't think you'll get away that easy do you?"

And I swear he started to run within the bottle and the bottle started to roll and I started to run, and run, and run. Then like they always do it suddenly swung left and flew under the hedge from where I heard him exclaim "Bollocks. Just my luck."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Spring is...

springing here in sunny Manchester. Flowers are once again peeking their heads above the grass. In Crowcroft Park crocuses collect like tiny Carmen Mirandas with blossoming hats made of purple, orange, white and blue petals. Waiting on the sidelines and in abundance are the ever patient daffodils not yet ready to bloom but whose flower heads can be seen tightly bound as if beneath a robe pulled snug against the cold. They remind me of those tall elegant women from 30's films who wore full length wrap around coats. The other weekend in Wales I saw snowdrops crowd the riverbanks and peer between rocks coated with frost. Not long now before the light becomes softened by the northerly moving sun. Hurrah!

Spring, the season that leads us out from the darkness of winter.