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Boggart Blog styles itself "probably the funniest blog on the web" and most of its loyal band of followers would say that is an understatement. In an era when comic writing is increasingly rare it is not just the humour wit of the Boggart Blog team or the style and skill with the written word they bring to their humour but the range. From sharp political satire they will leap to wild, surreal fantasy, dark, almost cruel ironies, incisive parody and ridiculous clowning. Explore these selection covering posts from the beginning of Boggart Blog, you will always find amusement here in this second selection from Boggart Blog. Selections from August 2005
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Posted 2005-08-02

Vinegar Face

We know the Japanese are weird but why are they drinking vinegar? Well if you sense of humour includes seeing someone being bollocked with a cannonball, watching the face of a vinegar drinker could give you a real laugh

Japan, a country famed for its wild adventures in haute cuisine (squid-flavoured ice cream, to name but one), is hooked on vinegar, and with not a screwed-up face in sight. The vinegars are made from fruit, and the Japanese, ever willing to grasp the latest quick route to physical health, are gulping down gallons of the stuff. Japan's drinkable-vinegar market reportedly tripled in value to 21.46bn yen (£108m) between March and August last year, from just 7.57bn yen (£38m) in the same period in 2000.

I guess itís a case of what can you expect from a nation that gave the world game shows like Endurance.

The powers of vinegar have been known for centuries of couse, there is a Gypsy preventative that involves drinking a cup of warm water to which a spoonful of vinegar and a spoonful of honey have been added. This is said to be highly effective against furring up of the arteries. The honey, as well as having its own medicinal properties neutralises the acid and makes the drink palatable.

For preventing circulatory problems I would put a lot more faith in vinegar and honey than in the urine therapy recommended by some alternative healers.

But when people start getting into drinking neat vinegar and deluding themselves that enjoy it there is either some sort of perverse sexual gratification obtained or it is time someone started up a support group.

RELATED POSTS : The Daredevil Diners of Tsuruoka
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Keywords: Japan, health, humour

Ooohhh Matron ! posted 03 - 08 - 2005
Ian Thorpe

There's more of a Carry On in NHS hospitals that anyone imagines. We should humour sick people not bully them.

What is it about hospital matrons that makes Englishmen of a certain age and social class go misty eyed? Every time a new story breaks about dirty wards or grannies being left on a trolley in the corridor for three months someone will write an article in the Daily Bigot demanding the reintroduction of "matron" to the hospital system.

I disagree entirely, the last thing sick people need is a power crazed old battleaxenurse telling them to pull themselves together. Nursing has a mythology all of its own of course, we are brought up to believe in Florence Nightingale, the gentle, caring woman who travelled to the Crimea to care for sick soldiers. Nightingale was more concerned that soldiers said their prayers than that they received good care, her brief from the war office was to get the poor bastards back into the front line as quickly as possible and she achieved this by making military hospitals so horrible that the injured soon came to realise that being up to their neck in spilled guts and severed limbs with cannon to the right of them and cannon to the left of them was preferable to spending another minute on the receiving end of the kind of TLC administered by Miss Nightingale.

Every school child ought to know that the real angel of Crimea was Mary Seacole, a truly caring and progressive woman who was just too black to enter the folklore of Nineteenth century England. As well as bringing together the traditional medicines of Africa, passed down through the women of her family, northern Britain (her father's family and her husband were Scottish) and of the native healers in Jamaica, Mary understood that a little love and sympathy are more effective than beating someone around the head with the Bible.

It has been said of our failing hospital system that the suits who run them need to be aware that hospitals exist for the benefit of patient, not bureaucrat. Perhaps I am being obtuse but it strikes me that "matron" was the mother of this attitude with her obsession with pointless rules and regulations and her almost religious belief that all patients were malingering good for nothings on a mission to make the wards look untidy. During my long stay in hospital, around the time rest ceased to be helpful because boredom was stressing me out I asked my family to bring me an old laptop computer, not worth stealing but useable.

"Where are you going with that?" the Nurse Manager demanded when my wife brought it in.

"Ian is going out of his mind with boredom," Teri said, "it will be good for him to have something creative to do."

"We will decide what is good for him," said a Matron like figure with fancy job title but old fashioned tendency to play God. It was no contest, I got my computer and in cahoots with the resident social worker forced a review of the recreation policy.

Brain damaged people are the people they were with certain abilities lost or impaired, we do not become morons. Offering adults pastimes like making shapes with dough and painting them with primary coloured water colours is an insult, but it is specifically the kind of insult the Matron mentality would dream up because Matron did not see individuals, only patients.

(Note, my reference to brain damaged people refers to those like myself where the injury occurs in adult life. The needs of those born brain damaged or whose brain injury happens in childhood are somewhat different but too often their potential is overlooked too.

RELATED POSTS
NHS Patients Are Not Numbers
Nurses Spend Too Much Time Bean Counting
NHS Database: How To Turn Success Into Failure
The kind of pokenose management style described inthe article above is typical of NHS managers. Harassing patients is a good way of disguising the fact they never actually do anything. Despite spending millions already on consultancy fees, feasibility studys, focus groups, steering committees etc. after ten years they are no nearer to getting started on the unified patient database yet. Boggart Blog suggests a cheap and fail safe solution, click on link above to read the post.

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Keywords: hospital, NHS, bureasucracy, humour


Life on Mars 04 Aug 2005
Ian Thorpe

Today BoggartBlog invites Ed Butt, editor of our "Conspiracy Theory of the Month" feature to comment on recent claims that the discovery of ice on Mars proves there was once life on the red planet and justifies America's plan to land men there. The comedy of obssession here

I heard that President Bush bloke wants to go to Mars innit? Well, not him personally but, y'know, an American. I mean, Bush never managed to find his way out of Texas 'til they gave him a military escort.

Mars mind you.

Course its all eyewash innit? Does he think we haven't noticed the U.S. Army are getting their arse kicked in Iraq and the economy is in deep poo on account of the French collaborating with China. They're always collaborating with someone, the French. So old Bush see, he figures I'll land a man on the Mars as part of the war on terror, that will divert people. It worked for Nixon in 1968 didn't it? He put a man on the the Moon and everyone forgot about the war on Viet - Nam for a bit. So Bushy and his fellow conspirators think "Keep Bin Laden off Mars, get an American up there." will work for him. It don't exactly slip off the tongue like "Keep Moscow off the Moon" did I'll grant you, but if you wanted a bit of alliteration you would have to say "Keep Bin Laden off Betelgeuse" and that would not be credible as we know Al Quaeda are a long way off developing interstellar hyperdrives yet.

But do you actually have to put a man on Mars? There are some, mentioning no names, who think the moon landing was filmed on a Star Trek set and Aldrin was played by a fat Scotsman who said "Ye cannae change the laws o' physics." Conspiracy theorists such people are called by the tabloids. Conspiracy my arse. Of course those blokes landed on the moon else how could Armstrong have come back and reported that Aliens had warned him off ever returning. That's the troof innit, right? Else why would we never have gone back. That and the fact that NASA lost the map.

Anyone can tell the film of the landing is edited and there are clips cut in of a pilot episode of Star Trek what was never shown on account of Spock's ears kept falling off. What really happened on the moon but they never tell us is that when Armstrong got out of the module there's these Aliens, all spidery and silver with bug eyes waiting for him. And he says "we come in peace, take us to your leader. And the top Alien says, "humans, you are all bastards, sod off or we will zap you with mind rays of mass destruction. Because these Aliens, their minds are so powerful they can kill thousands of us with one thought.

And that is why Bush needs to get a man on Mars, or a least appear to so as to stop Bin Laden going there. Because if Bin Laden got hold of the secret of mind rays we would all be in trouble.

Ed Butt,(PhD Conspiracy Theory)
Boggart Blog,
Not On This Planet.

RELATED POSTS: Alien Life In California
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Did You See That?

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Keywords: alien, space, mars, America, humour


God's Blog
9 Aug 2005
Ian Thorpe

God speaks on the occasion of the World Athletic Championship

Hear me, oh my children, for I am your God and I think there are a few things need to be said at this juncture.

I have been watching your World Athletic Championships in Finland this week and I am just about sick to the back teeth of people taking my name in vain by thanking me for stuff I had nothing to do with. Now I am mentioning no names here, but most of the culprits tend to come from a nation whose leaders insist is My own Country. Let's get one thing straight, they are all my own countries, Good Me Almighty! I, the omnipotent and omnipresent created them didn't I?

Oi! I said omnipotent. I stuck one in the oven for Mary didn't I?

Now as it happens I would never choose one nation above another especially in something as trivial as a sporting event, but if I had to choose I would not support a nation whose people are always trying to kiss my butt. Don't any of you read my word anymore? I hate people who are always trying to kiss my butt, they are SO not getting into my Kingdom.

Who do these athletes think they are anyway, two minutes after crossing the line they are on TV burbling about how I helped them and gave them strength. BULLSHIT! You are all my children and I try not to show favouritism.

Apart from that why such low self esteem? Anyone who has worked hard for years, stuck to special diets, forgone booze and sex and all the fun stuff I gave you should feel free to give themselves a bit of praise. JESUS ME, I created a hundred million galaxies each comprised of a hundred million stars, why would I be interested in taking credit for a stupid little medal that is not even made of real gold?

If these people were totally honest you know, I suspect it is their pharmacist they should be thanking. Did I ever create any human beings who looked like they had water melons implanted in their cheeks. Well OK, but Minnie Driver is unique.

It is not just sport where this craze for kissing my arse has caught hold. I never have and never will help anybody win an Oscar, I can't stand most movies although some of the National Lampoon things are quite funny. Those kids who parade on American Idol claiming they are singing for God and America - let me put you straight, the little shits are singing because they want to be rich and famous, no other reason. Show business is so phoney I do not go near it; people in showbiz mention me only because they want the punters to think they are good, humble sorts and not the shallow, egomaniacal control freaks most of them really are; businessmen drop my name because they think I will give legitimacy to their scams and crooked dealing. Sports people however are worst of all. They are just hoping to attract sponsors or get paid to endorse products that will rot their little fans teeth and brains.

It makes me so angry that these people can stand up and talk about their faith in me because if they had any genuine belief they would know that I, the all seeing, all knowing, can see right though them. I did not get where I am today by not knowing a hypocrite when I see one. And yet they still stand there and say "God was with me, he wanted me to win." Its effing insulting.

So why don't I smite these arseholes? You might well ask. Smiting one or two people is not that easy when you are as mighty as I am. Have you read the old testament? Subtlety is not one of my strong points. Remember that Tsunami, all those thousands of people dead? All I did was snap my fingers to summon a Seraphim because I wanted a cup of nectar.

So when some stupid runner is saying he could not have won without me when he means he could not have done it without the steroids, I just have to hold back and let it go or risk taking out the whole of Helsinki, and I like the Finns, they are jolly, warm hearted and friendly and they don't bother me much. Yeah, if I ever had to pick a God's own country I might just go for Finland, or Sweden which is much the same. New Zealand too, its very pretty and the people there don't cause any trouble. I would certainly not choose any place that is big on religion.

Across the pond in America people can't stop talking about God, even British politicans who famously "don't do God" cannot resist joining in the piety and religiosity. Can't help thinking Dagda would have something to say on the subject. Blair Calls For A Return To Faith

RELATED POSTS:
They Prayed Him Straight
Baby Bible Basher

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Life On Mars; The Truth: by Algernon Tantric - Spoon

11 Aug 2005
Ian Thorpe

Editors note: Continuing with our series of guest bloggers and in response to the Conspiracy Theorist's Life on Mars article, today we bring readers an opposing point of view from Mr. Algernon Tantric - Spoon, Chair of Barnoldswick and Barrowford Alien Investigation Society and General Secretary of the North West Whirling Dervishes Association. Mr.Tantric - Spoon is a professional Whirling Dervish and a consultant alien abductee. Whacky humour themed on literal interpretations of religion myths and fantasies.

Life On Mars; At last The Truth you can rely on

Erm - speaking personally for myself I cannot see any point in sending men to Mars to look for signs of life. It is far, far too late. There was life on Mars of course, the famous canals prove it, not that they are real canals of course; oh no, they are much more interesting than real canals.

My point is that yes, there was life on Mars millions of zillions of years ago but it came here to Earth.

When the Earth was a nasty, smelly little swamp planet inhabited by blobs of jelly with sucker pads instead of hands and feet Mars had a highly advanced civilisation of super - intelligent, spiritually enlightened beings. We know these beings were super intelligent because they had learned to read the coded messages in the stars, messages that contained the secrets of the Universe. And the astral wisdom said "if you want to understand the universe and evolve into a race of Gods you must learn to dance. You must spin and whirl into a state of ecstasy. Everything in the Cosmos whirls, galaxies, stars, planets and the water running out of the bath. Your bodies are composed of atoms and each atom is made up of electrons whirling around a nucleus. You must all whirl to a better life. And the Martians all stopped what they were doing and began to dance, some tentatively at first, some joyously, pirouetting and cavorting with great abandon. They danced and whirled themselves to a higher plane of consciousness and then they understood all things in the Universe. Except for one.

For millennia the Martians whirled and danced with increasing intensity but their whirling was all in the same direction, west to east, the opposite way to the planet's rotation. eventually they began to wear grooves in the rocky surface as the friction they generated acted against the energy of rotation. Gradually the planet slowed so much that all the atmosphere floated away into space. Atmospheres do not float away overnight of course and the Martians, who were really very advanced by this time, managed to travel to Earth in an interplanetary Ark before the air ran out.

"We come in peace, take us to your leader," said the top Martian.

"Gloop, gloop said the ugly and unsophisticated Jelly blob creatures of Earth. Unfortunately to a Martian "gloop gloop" means "you're all bastards, now eff off."

Millennia of whirling had made Martians unable to cope with bad manners so they went back to the mother ship and zapped the jellyblob creatures BOSH BOSH BOSH with a proton cannon. The Martians waited in the mother ship until Earth dried out enough for habitation by anything other than jelly blob creatures and then they colonised the blue planet. Unfortunately a mother craft is not equipped for whirling dances and few were schooled in the technique by the time civilisations began to develop. Those who practised the ancient art were known as Whirling Dervishes and ridiculed for hundreds of years but they kept the faith knowing that their day would come.

It is written in the stars that in the fifth age, humans must find spiritual enlightenment and evolve into a race of Gods or else they will perish. The fifth age has dawned, soon everyone must whirl or be prepared to face oblivion. But we must avoid the fate of the Martians at all costs.

I have written to Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush proposing a network of intercontinental whirlways, like freeways, with multiple lanes in each direction so that the opposing kinetic energies of the whirlers neutralise each other. So far there has been no reply but I am still hopeful.

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So What Did The Romans Really Do For Us?

13 Aug 2005
Ian Thorpe

The world's best comedy movie, Monty Python's Life of Brian made fun of the Romans and we find pleny of humour in a riff on that old question of Rome's civilising influence. The Romans took themselves very seriously of course and people who were being crucified, thrown to the lions or tied between charriots and torn aparts didn't find them very funny. But 2000 years later they look like a bunch of clowns.

I heard someone remark a few days ago that the "campaign to liberate Iraq" is bogged down and if the Iraqis could find a Boudicca Bush and Blair would be in big trouble. Its nonsense of course, if an Iraqi woman bearing any resemblance to Boudicca turned up they would stone her to death for being immodest and disobedient. But it did make me wonder what life would be like now had the idiot chieftains not blackmailed their warrior queen by refusing to support her unless she abandoned the highly effective guerrillas tactics that had the Romans on the run in favour of their macho ideas about how proper men fought battles, the mass charge, a tactic the Roman legions were well equipped to deal with.

Macho ideas about how real soldiers fight battles has been the undoing of many commanders of course, the latest being Saddam. He had guys on the ground who knew how to deal with a mass invasion by a superior force but no, he had to go for the old "balls out" approach. Of course the vastly superior force crushed what was left of his army after the intelligent ones had deserted. It was the same for Boudicca.

"What!" said her loyal lieutenants when she explained the tactics, "if you are going to take them on you'd better get yourself killed because two thousand legionnaires are going to want a piece of that red muffin. We should stick with what we're good at."

"But the lad's from Brigantia and Elmet will bugger off if we don't fight a proper battle," the Ginger Queen complained.

"Then Howay the Lads back to Brigantia, when did the Geordies last win anything?" said the lieutenants conveniently overlooking the fact that it was about the same time as Ipswich last won anything.

But once a Celtic Queen has given her word there's no going back (ask Graham Norton who would love to get back to Channel 4,) the rebellion was crushed and Britain became a peaceful Roman colony. But did it benefit us?

What did the Romans really do for us?

Well there was law and order, someone calls out. Oh yes, one law for the Romans, one for the Britons. If some hoorayus Henryus drew a moustache on a statue of the emperor it was just youthful high jinks, if a red haired person dressed in wolfskin did the same, the circus was the place for them - and I don't mean a course in being a clown.

Scholars cite the roads. OK, they built paved roads which were ideal for moving armies about, but do people really think the Celts never left their home village. Under the Druids we were trading with Palestine and India, Jesus went to boarding school at Glastonbury (and being the product of an English boarding school explains why he never actually proscribed homosexuality BTW if you are a Christian just check, it was Paul the Zionist fugitive who had it in - I'll rephrase that, who condemned gays.) The Celts were a highly mobile society who understood that paved roads actually inhibited travel. If Boudicca had beaten the Romans we would never have had the M25 to contend with.

Another assumption that is totally wrong is that the Romans gave us education. Apart from Glastonbury being the foremost centre of Druidic excellence in the world, the Celts had a system designed to educate young people in life skills while the Romans took the Blairite path of identifying the ones best suited to serve the Empire and throwing the rest on the scrapheap at an early age. Oh yes, if young Marcus did not show any aptitude for being a lawyer, doctor, accountant or civil servant the career options were limited to the Army, working in a fast food tavern (the Romans invented fast food so we can thank them for turkey twizzlers and Big Mac supersize meals,) or some dead end job with a local merchant.

What about hygiene? That is another thing credited to Rome. HmmÖ I could actually take you to two iron age saunas not ten miles from here and we know the Celts made soap and had communal wash houses. Also living in the outdoors, sleeping in smoky roundhouses and using lavender to scent their washing water they had no problem with fleas and lice as the Romans did. So what did the Romans do for us? ARSEWIPES. Whereas all other great advances in early civilisation can be traced to India, Egypt, Babylon or Greece, the arsewipe is a Roman original. All the others made do with a couple of handfuls of dry grass.

Now Roman arsewipes are quite something, I suppose the design was dictated by Roman toilets. The dug a deep hole, put lime in the bottom and then raised four stone slabs on edge around it, the one facing outwards having a small hole. On top of this they would place another slab with a bum sized hole cut in it. The citizens of the Empire would then trot off to do number twos followed by a slave bearing a bucket of water, a towel and a bathsponge tied to a stick. Once the deed was done Romanus would push the sponge though the hole in the front stone until it met the bottom sticking through the top stone. Then a bit of wrist action to move the sponge around sticky area, a quick wipe with a dry towel and back to the business of oppressing opponents of the Empire (which could be anyone you didn't like the look of) leaving the slave to deal with preparing the sponge for next time. If you have an analytical mind you might be thinking that the technique would be more likely to have the effect of simply distributing the faecal matter more thinly rather than removing it. Perhaps this explains why Roman erotic literature contains few references to rim jobs.

In the week that Andrex announced the launch of wet ones for bottoms it struck me that Andrex, Charmin (the tissue that bears use when they shit in the woods) and all the reset are actually derived from grass, reeds, cotton and other fibrous plants and have nothing to do with sponges on sticks.

So what did the Romans really do for us?

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Are School Exams Getting Easier?
16 August 2005
Ian Thorpe

Schools are always a good source of humour, I think one of the best definitions of comedy goes"humour lies in the distance between what we are and what we think we are." Nowhere is that distance more apparent than in school.

As record numbers of semi literate pupils achieve grade one A levels in a million subjects each the annual storm over standards in secondary education breaks out. Now as someone who was a manager I do sympathise with the employers who complain that even recruits with the highest degrees as lacking in basic academic skills. On the other hand I know that young people who can barely write their own name seem to have a lot of very specialised knowledge of pharmecuticals, astro - physics and some highly specialised branches of computer technology. The problem then is that the education being provided is targeted at passing exams and not equipping pupils with life skills. Bearing in mind Socrates said "what we must do we learn by doing" and also the age old complaint that a segment of society unable to do the most basic maths in connection with gainful employment can in seconds work out the return due on an each way Yankee that has two winners, a placed horse and a loser, I suggest a different approach is needed if we are to gain a true picture of a shool leaver's abilities.

Take this approach to the Maths A - level for example.

MATHEMATICS - PAPER 1:1.Deco has 0.5 kilos of cocaine. If he sells a "fat one" to the Vinster for $300 and 90 grams to Loose Loueez for 90 bucks a gram what is the street value of the rest of his stash?

2.Ant pimps 3 whores downtown and pays The Vinster 50% of his 80% of the girls gross earnings for protection. If the price is 100 bills a hump, how many tricks per day must each whore turn to support the Vinster's $500 a day crack habit?

3. Wakka wants to cut the kilo of coke he bought for $7k to make a 20% profit. How many grams of strychnine will he need to make the coke "top banana"?

4. Christy got a 6-year stay at the Assache Hotel for murder. He also was paid $350,000 for the hit. If his whore - bitch wife spends £33,100 per month on exotic underwear, beauty treatments and designer clothes how much money will be left when our boy gets to tread the streets again?

Extra Credit Bonus: How much more time will Christy get for killing the bitch that spent his hard-earned cash?

5. If an average can of spray paint covers 22 square meters and the average letter is 1 square metre,how many letters can be sprayed with eight cans of spray paint if you get 20% extra paint free?

Extra Credit Bonus:How many cans will fit in the hood of a Tommy Hilfiger jacket?

6.Liam steals Eamo's skateboard.As Liam skates away at a speed of 35mph, Eamo loads his brother's Armalite. If it takes Eamo 20 seconds to load the gun, how far will Liam have travelled before Eamo offs him?

Now that is the kind of thing a modern kid needs to know if he/she is going to succeed in life.

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Must have GSOH

19 August 2005
Ian Thorpe

Once upon a time, long long ago, people would marry somebody who lived in the same town or village or attended the same church. Now social changes mean that is not so easy and we turn increasingly to commercial introduction services. This provides a wonderful source of humour for comedy sketch writers.

Aren't women a laugh? They say us men are full of bullshit, that we are shallow, self - obsessed, emotionally constipated and materialistic. Well maybe we are, but the amount of time women spend looking in mirrors you would think most might recognise a few of these symptoms of the human condition in themselves.

Men are simple and straightforward (well, until their first love affair ends they are.) All we look for in a woman is availability, big tits, good legs, nice arse: a pretty face is a bonus. If she gives head however, forget everything after availability. With such criteria dating ought to be easy. Unfortunately there are women involved.

What does a woman look for in a man. Personality, they tells us. Check out the contact ads in any newspaper or mag (not an internet dating site - that's just too painful,) and you will see time after time in the women seeking men section WLTM tall, cultured, caring, intelligent, GSOH professional.

Ha! Professional - clue I think.

We can set "tall" aside for now. I was once trapped in a hotel room with a female colleague who had always made it known she only fancied tall men.

"But I'm too short for you" I protested, reminding her that after one office do she had told me I would be handsome if I was taller, as she flaunted herself in mulberry silk lingerie trimmed with cream lace and suggested we share just one of the two double beds in the twin room she had booked instead of two singles.

"You're about five - nine, thatís average" she said (I'm five feet six.) Being a gentleman I kept my thoughts to myself but they went something like this - yeah, and you are a neurotic barm pot and I wouldn't shag you even if you looked like Helena Bonham Carter because I could not face all the angst and the recriminations. And I never fancied you anyway.

Tall then is defined by the female hormone count at the time. As for the rest of those male qualities that appeal : Caring; well he might treat his girlfriend like shit but care deeply about his dog / football team / favourite pub: Intelligent ; the most intelligent people I ever knew have been nuclear scientists, all of whom could have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome: Cultured; this simply means she is not an Essex girl on the trawl: GSOH; simply means someone who can laugh convincingly when she messes up the punchline of another joke: Professional; aye there's the rub. Do you remember that survey a few weeks back in which single women were shown pictures of two blokes, one an arty type, one a businessman, and asked which they would like to date? The majority went for the businessman because he looked more "caring." It was the same guy. In a business suit he looked as if he would have a nice home, smart car and good income.

GSOH my arse.

What brought on this train of thought is having heard several times this week women on TV moaning about how shallow and emotionally under-developed men are. Yeah, in the week after the Big Brother electorate who are mostly female (how many men were watching after Orlaith left?) rejected intelligent Eugene, cultured Derek, Caring Craig, and chicks-with-dicks contender Kemal in favour of the dim, good looking boy with a great physique and more bollocks than brain cells.

So who is shallow now?

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Talking Bollocks

20 August 2005
Ian Thorpe

In a world where imagination and creative thinking are under attack from the dull witted denizens of the meritocracy with their insane belief in reason, logic and order and their obsession with facts and evidence, humour is under threat. One art form that is close to extinction in the wired world is Talking Bollocks. Here we explain how to get started at talking bollocks, set up a talking bollocks club and grow from a novice into a master as your skills develop. Great humour here.

Society has changed in the last twenty - five years. We live at a faster pace, we are more aquisitive, we are conditioned to believe that time is money; if we are not working to earn we should be working on improving ourselves or involved in social activities (networking) that enhance our marketability.

The can - do attitude of the empowered society may have got us all better jobs, bigger houses and more clogged arteries (yes folks, its not the lard but the stress) but at what cost. What pleasures have we lost in our quest for personal gain? The one I miss most is Talking Bollocks.

I mean serious Talking Bollocks of course, not bullshitting or talking through your arse, two middlebrow activities that even corporate managers and other aspirational types in the meritocracy can do quire adequately. I don't mean hyping up your C.V. or inventing droves of lovers, talking about how much the value of your house has risen in the last five minutes, not even trying to make a case for Bush /Blair's Iran project. I mean pure, unadulterated Talking Bollocks, the highest art form known to humanity and just about the only pleasure left to those too old to be promiscuous and too young to forget what being promiscuous is about. Even before I was too old to be promiscuous I loved Talking Bollocks. How depressing it is to sit in pubs now and have to join in conversations about the latest bunch of Big Brother saddos or X Factor no-hopers, whether mobile phones really do fry your brain (they do) or listening to friends horror stories about flying on budget airlines. What has happened to irrelevance. I yearn for those conversations that have absolutely no point whatsoever;

"how many angels can dance on the head of Tony Blair?"

"if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody to hear it, did it happen because a butterfly farted in the Amazon rainforest?" "Why do Aliens only ever abduct morons and fuckwits?"

"Is Jamie Lee Curtis really a man and if you think so would you shag her anyway."

"If E=mc2 and m = 1.618/1 x infinity will we all disappear in six billion years if you expend enough energy to walk over to the bar and get your round in?"

You could really get your teeth into conversations like that.

There are rules in proper Talking Bollocks of course, it is an official pub sport.

There must be a least four participants who all play as individuals. Working as a team id against the spirit of the game.

The words paradox, contrapuntal and juxtaposition are not allowed as they are used by literary critics who talk verbal diarrhoea.

All players must Talk Bollocks, Whole Bollocks and Nothing But Bollocks. No facts are permitted unless they are grossly misrepresented. In the absence of proven facts (e.g. the origins of the Universe) the received wisdom shall be deemed fact and disallowed.

All participants must argue their point with utter conviction even though they know it is utter bollocks and they know everybody else knows.

When not speaking players shall listen to other players bollocks attentively even though they know the speaker is talking bollocks and they know the speaker knows they know they are talking bollocks.

No arse kissing. Although dissing another player's argument is against the rules you should in no circumstances totally agree with what they say.

The reason I am trying to revive Talking Bollocks as an art form is that once proficient, you will no longer be susceptible to the lies of politicians and businessmen. You will understand that when Blair says it is to Britain's advantage to support some hopeless military adventure he means it is to Tony Blair's advantage and nobody else's. When Alex Ferguson says that referees are biased towards Arsenal he is complaining because the referee has (a) turned down a bung (b) refused to let Roy Keane kick lumps out of anyone who gets in his way (c) been absolutely fair. You will know that when the police say "the suspect was wearing a big jacket, carrying a copy of the Koran and had a kilo of semtex in his rucksack he was in fact wearing a light denim jacket over a t-shirt, was a fairly devout catholic and did not have a rucksack.

In the world we have made according to the Reagan / Thatcher model we have turned our backs on scepticism and a healthy disrespect for authority; we have become cynical, reasoning "if they are all at it why not me too?" The ME generation.

But are we as happy or as secure as when we could while away a few happy hours Talking Bollocks without worrying how much money it could be costing us, when we had not all bought into the dream that tells us we can all get rich by selling each other investment plans.

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Keywords: bollocks, art, humour, science, philosophy


Conspiracy Theory of the Month #2 Patriotism and Reality T.V. 24 August 2005
Ian Thorpe> From flag waving to tax evasion, people have many ways of showing passionate love for their country. But a close look at how patriotism works reveals there is a lot of insane humour on this topic and particularly in the sacred cow status given to national symbols.

Governments have always had an incentive keeping the population stupid. The main reason for needing plenty of idiots is war. War is the politicians great get - out. Whenever things are going really well and the people start demanding social justice, lower taxes and better living standards for everybody, all the political leaders can ever do as a getout is get into a war. While diverting attention for a while, war also sets progress back by a few decades so lower taxes, social justice and better living standards take a back seat to Safeguarding National Security, which means constantly being ready to have a war. Which in turn means Civil Liberties and Social Justice are suspended.

Since the days of the Roman Empire poorly educated young men have responded to variations on the patriotic theme "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." which roughly translates as "thanks for being stupid, sucker, here's a posthumous medal." In the ages before social reform gave us universal education, this patriotism had so distorted sanity that when the call to arms came, young men would compete not just to go and fight but to be the one of the guys who marched in front of the regiment, towards a mass of heavily armed enemy soldiers, carrying a flag or beating a drum.

Even though the penalty for cowardice was death, one would think that rather than rushing to volunteer anybody with two live brain cells would skulk at the back of the troop trying to avoid the sergeants eye. Instead of saying, "why do we have to carry the flag, its not our turn; we carried it last time, why can't we have muskets or swords or long poles with nails in the end?" the Drummers and Standard Bearers were so brainwashed with the idea that dying a young hero was better than living to be an old coward they would say "No sergeant, give my gun to one of the other chaps, I want to march to certain dearh carrying the flag and thus become a hero.

Technology has changed things a bit of course, after all its hard to carry a flag in front of a batch of cruise missiles.So why do the government still need to sell the case for a career as cannon fodder to the population.

Modern military hardware tends to keep soldiers safe while putting civilians in the firing line, that's why. In the first war of the twentieth century 80% of casulaties were military. In the last wars of that century 80% of the casualties were civilian. So it is not a good idea to have too many civilians who would rather watch BBC News 24 than the Big Brother.

The best wars, before the advent of the twentieth century were those in which the uncivilised aboriginal peoples of remote lands were considered to be a threat because they ran around nearly naked and enjoyed uninhibited sex lives.

Vast and well equipped armies were sent to oppress such unenlightened tribespeople and teach them to honour the true God by adopting the missionary position for sex and keeping their private parts covered up at all other times. This released the fereethinkers and troublemakers to start agitating about equal opportunities and human rights issues at home. Soon the Establishment was on the ropes, women were demanding and getting the right to enjoy sex, black people were demanding and getting the right to ride on buses and the working class were doing less work and getting more class. Only war could stop the march of progress and preserve the status quo.

The civilised nations had no alternative but to fight each other, which turned out to be counter - productive as the carnage produced even greater demands for justice and a fair deal for everybody. And that was what inspired the conspiracy. With no real enemies left, the establishment, the media and John Wayne had to invent an enemy. "Our way of life is under threat," they cried. Commies in Congress, Reds Under The Beds and Proles in Parliament were said to be undermining the fabric of society. The "Cold War" never became a hot war because of course the enemy never really existed. Russia never had any intention of attacking the west.

For many years in the latter half of the twentieth century this simple ruse involving pretend enemies preserved the delicate balance. When people got too stroppy all the politicians had to do was cry "the Russians are coming," or "the commies/unions/Guardian reading beardies are taking over.

Committment to universal education spoiled this one too however, when the educated and empowered population woke up to the fact that Russian leaders were crying "the capitalists are coming" whenever their punters got stroppy. We all realised that basically we were not different species but the same flawed, greedy, feckless and corrupt human beings as are found everywhere. The Russians wanted Levis, MacDonalds and Coca Cola. The west wanted Vodka, Caviare and wonderful cheekbones.

Having no primitive tribespeople to oppress and no pretend enemy with whom to exchange threats of mutual destruction Western politicians needed a big idea quick!

It came from the United States of America, self appointed leader of the free world, as as most big ideas do. "Heeeyyyy, stoopid people are easy to manipulate," some Washington manipulator said, and to confirm his point the establishment connived to get Ronald Reagan, a former 'B' movie actor and sports commentator elected President. Ron was too stupid to bother interfering much in the running of the country thus making himself the most popular President ever. Reagan's backers simply realised that only a few people care what is going on, the great silent majority are quite content to sit munching pork scratchings, guzzling fizzy alcoholic or non alcoholic drinks and watching cartoons and gameshows. Marginalise the thinkers by appealing to the silent (mouths full of Pork Scratchings) majority and society can be manipulated as you only have to convince pepople who will believe anything they are told. The rest of us believe what the Americans tell us because we need their money.

Between them the banks, the entertainment industry and the bureaucracy ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity in the U.S.. This they made into an icon called The American Lifestyle. Serious T.V. shows were superseded by "Lifestyle" shows and "reality" shows. But eventually people started to tire of Lifestyle and began to ask "is this it" instead of dutifully consuming 24/7.

There had to be a threat to the "American Lifestyle" in order to quash the resuegent threat of secular liberalism. Fortunately the old conspiracy was still in place. Slamic Funnamenallists, Evil Doors and The People of Evelyn Tent, enemies all of Freem 'n' Mocksy were standing by ready to help the conspirators get the western world back on the straight and narrow. And what is more, the imaginary enemy were not just a threat to the imaginary way of life but also to the imaginary God who protects us all (spot the flaw here)

It is so beautiful when you look at it in the right light.

RELATED POSTS: More on military secrets in Burn After Reading
No Flag No Country explains another aspect of the importnce of flags

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Cricket, Lovely Cricket


27 August 2005

Cricket is known as a boring game and if we focus on playing field action that appears to be true. But a look at the politics and philosophy of the sport reveals a world packed with humour and eccentricity.

The song namechecked in the title was written around 1960. Sport was a very different kettle of fish then, except for fishing of course which has only progressed by swapping its iron kettles for plastic buckets.

Cricket was the game then, football back in those days was a grim, working class game played by men in their twenties who looked fifty and watched by men in their cloth caps and scarves who looked dead. In this era of middlemen, media manipulation, multi million pound incomes and multi mistress love lives for the players, hospitality suites, flash restaurants, designer lager and prawn sandwiches for the supporters, it is hard to imagine when club merchandising consisted of a cup of Bovril and a meat pie at half time; when the Premiership player drives to the game in a Ferrari and the third division journeyman in a BMW, it is hard to imagine a time when both caught the bust to the game and the only way to differentiate is that the top level stars smoked Capstan Full Strength (the skunk of the time) while the lower orders existed on Woodbines.

The progress from cobbled streets to yellow brick road has at times been traumatic for football but not so traumatic as what has been endured by our most traditional national game, cricket, over the years.

As I entered adolescence the England cricket team was unrivalled, (Australians may dispute this but Australians dispute everything.) Led by the aristocratic Peter May the team was studded with "characters," the finest being "Fiery Fred" Trueman, a fearsome fast bowler. May once remarked disparagingly on the size of Trueman's rear end only to be told, "when tha's gett'n a big nail tha needs a big 'ammer to drive it 'ome." Yes, the cricket field was the only place in Britain where the class barrier was lowered sufficiently for a professional sportsman to treat a gentleman as an equal. Off the field "gentlemen" and players or amateurs and professionals as they were known to readers of the more vulgar newspapers, had separate changing facilities. This may only have been to protect the pert bottomed sons of toil from the effete, boarding school educated sons of the aristocracy but one suspects good old fashioned snobbery was the real reason especially if we bear in mind the fact that black players had to change behind the bike sheds.

For a long time cricket slumped into genteel decline, old attitudes remained as other sports learned to repackage and market themselves in the consumer society.

Cricket purists seemed to forget that the game is basically about hitting moving objects with sticks, die-hards started to compare cricket to a game of chess played between the two captains. Now you might agree with me that chess would be much more fun if the players were allowed to hit each other with sticks, but this pseudo intellectualism was in the other direction and transformed what had been a contest between teams of athletes into a war of attrition between people who excel at doing nothing slowly.

The problem with Peter May and his kind was that because they moved in society of the haughtiest particularity, to be seen trying to win or even to appear to care in any way about the result was social anathema. People had been blackballed out of their clubs for less. Cricket had to change.

Cricket fans had to change too. Whereas there had traditionally been more activity in the beer tent (the hospitality suite of its day) than on the pitch as the need to earn a living increasingly inconvenienced the upper middle class whose support had enabled three and five day fixtures to dominate, crowds dwindled until all that remained were a handful of old buffers who looked as dead as 1950s soccer fans but much more elegantly dressed in blazers and Panama hats.

Cricket has suddenly been transformed though. Maybe a new breed of player has evolved, men who do not remember the days of gentlemen amateurs have injected interest with their enthusiasm for knocking seven colours of crap out of the ball and their opponents, maybe the games sponsors have hired a competent PR firm or maybe we all just got bored with footballers and their effing wives.

Or maybe I am dead. I doubt it, as so far I have not experienced any urge to buy a blazer and Panama hat, but if you should see me thus attired, please bury me a long way from any cricket ground.

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