The Mystery of the Missing Fuselage

Here’s a little tale I picked up on the Beeb. People have been nicking stuff from the MOD to the value of about £700,000 last year. It’s pin money at the size of the MOD budget, but what intrigued me was the items the thieves made off with. A bridge? A ship’s anchor. A plane’s fuselage?

How in the name of hell and 25mm ring spanners do you get a plane’s fuselage out from under the noses of the Military Police?

“Hey. Where are you going with that jumbo jet?”

“Er, we’re just taking it away for a respray guv.”

“Oh. That’s all right then. For a minute I thought you were nicking it.”

Or maybe they persuaded the gate police that it a Red Nose Day stunt. “Bloke dahn the pub said he’d give a tenner to Comic Relief if we turned up wiv it.”

“As long as it’s in aid of a good cause I’ll let it go. But make sure you bring it back on Monday.”

And the anchor? “I’m just borrowing mate. Brakes are a bit iffy on the car.”

And what kind of transport did they use to sneak off with a bridge? Low loaders tend to be 100 feet long and weigh in at anything up to a couple of hundred tons. Didn’t anyone notice?

There were smaller items on the list. Like a clarinet (I got sick of Stranger on the Shore, too) night vision goggles (a must for any peeping tom) and a boat rudder. My guess is the rudder was nicked by a Condem MP hoping he could use it to steer the economy on a more even (and personally profitable) course.

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Well Meant but… Pass

I’ve just read this piece on the web of things you should avoid during sex. I was looking for “the wife” somewhere on the list, but it’s not there.

Amongst the obvious ones like farting or comparing the size of your man to the bloke over the street, there are some real howlers; Singing, praying and arguing about money amongst them.

What kind of women has this joker slept with? I knew girls who would pray for a crop failure after the guy had sowed the seeds, but that was AFTER, not during. And singing? How many men or women have you been with who have sufficient breath to burst into “oh what a beautiful morning,” while you’re having it away?

As for arguing about money, well I’ve known one or two who would argue for the money up front, but I’ve never yet asked Her Indoors what she spent last week’s housekeeping on while we were at it.

The star piece of advice on this nonsense is, don’t move your bowels while having sex. What?????? I’m no prude, but any woman who shits the bed while we’re at it, will be shown the door… after she’s done the laundry.

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Vinny’s Verdict (#fridayflash)

Old Vinny was very deaf. It came from years of work in the cotton mills when the noise of machinery drowned out all other sounds … except for the knocking-off hooter. Vinny always managed to hear that.

Some said his deafness was selective. It didn’t happen often, but if I were to say, “what are you having, Vinny?” his pint glass would be emptied one gulp, and pushed in my direction with the instruction, “a pint of mild, Flatcap.” But whenever I said to him, “Time you bought a round, Vinny,” he looked at his watch and say, “half past one.”

His hearing problems were especially troublesome when he got elected to the magistrates’ bench. No one quite knows how he managed to become a magistrate. He’d been put forward a few times, but always turned it down on the grounds that it was unpaid. Then he learned that magistrates could claim expenses, and Vinny was in like a shot. There was a whisper that one of his expense claims could put your average blood-sucking MP to shame, and I wouldn’t doubt it. If questioned about it, his hearing problems would kick in and for the clerks trying to get to the bottom of his claim for bus fares AND petrol it would be like trying to jog through treacle. Scuttlebutt eventually had it that when Vinny’s claim form came in the, clerk to the justices simply said, “Pay it. It’s cheaper in the long run.” She was right. It saved the borough thousands in sick leave on the grounds of severe stress.

Some of his verdicts could be quite bizarre. Witness the child support claim that came up before Vinny and his fellow beaks.

“We’re awarding your wife £20 a week,” said the Chair of the magistrates.

Vinny gave the defendant a sour look and ordered, “And you make sure you try to send her a few pounds, too.”

“No, no, Vinny,” said the Chair. “He has to pay the twenty pounds a week.”

“He does?” Vinny asked.

“Four children, five pounds per week, per child,” explained the Chair.

“In that case,” said Vinny, “I have eight children, and I order him to pay me eighty pounds a week.”

“But that’s a tenner a child per week,” complained the defendant.

“Mine are all grown up,” argued Vinny.

The worst case that came before him was that of a young tearaway charged with assault, vandalism and general anti-social behaviour. He was the worst kind of lout; ignorant, under-educated, a truant from his schooldays, a workshy layabout; the kind you find in the tap room of the Jolly Carter seven days a week.

He was charged with spraying the walls of the public lavatories on Market Street with the slogan, Sity 4 Ever. In Vinny’s book there was no crime worse than being a City supporter.

“Bloody young hooligan ought to be horsewhipped,” Vinny grumbled as the evidence was read out.

“That’s a bit strong in this day and age, Vinny,” said the Chair. “We can’t horsewhip people just because we don’t like the same football teams.”

“I know,” argued Vinny, “but he can’t even spell City. Look. S-I-T-Y. Everyone knows it’s spelled C-I-T-I.”

“See, eye, tee, why,” the Chair corrected him.

“Why what?” asked Vinny, his diplomatic deafness kicking in.

Ignoring our hero, the Chair concentrated on the unkempt defendant. “Now then, young man, we really can’t have this kind of behaviour, you know.”

“Jump off a cliff,” sneered the arrogant toerag in the dock.

Vinny chuckled. “Hee, hee, I now a few blokes what’ve done that an’all. I’m one of ’em.”

“Done what, Vinny?” asked the Chair.

“Jumped your Olive. She was a right goer when she was younger, that sister of yours.”

“No, Vinny,” urged the Chair flustered with anger and embarrassment. “He said, ‘jump off a cliff’.”

Vinny frowned. “Cliff who?”

Once more ignoring Vinny, the Chair faced the defendant. His face was set stern, at its most disapproving. “I am determined to crack down on this kind of behaviour, and your arrogance does you no favours in this court. I intend to impose the maximum penalty permitted by law. Do you have anything to say before I pass sentence?”

The defendant wiped his nose on his sleeve, spat at the floor and said, “Bugger all.”

Vinny fiddled with his hearing aid. “What did he say?” he asked.

The Chair leaned over to Vinny. “He said, ‘bugger all’.”

“That’s funny,” Vinny said checking his hearing aid again. “I could have sworn he said something.”

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Vinny’s Valentine

I don’t go for Valentine’s Day. I send the Her Indoors a card but it’s only because I bought job lot in 1989.

Still, Valentine’s Day always reminds me of old Vinny. He’s in his 90s now and he spent all his working life in the mills … when we had mills.

He’s a down to earth chap who calls a spade a bleeding shovel and be done with it, but he doesn’t always understand what’s going on around him. Witness the time he was elected to the parish council and at his first meeting they were voting on whether to build a new urinal in the market place. Vinny being Vinny, he didn’t know what a urinal was, so one of the committee members explained it to him.

“Ah, right. A urinal. Good idea,” Vinny said. “And while we’re at it, let’s have one of them there arsenals.”

Anyway, it was on Valentine’s Day a couple of years back that Vinny, who’d already seen off two wives, decided to get married again and he went to the doctor for some advice.

“So how old is the lucky woman, Vinny?” the doc asked.

“Twenty three,” Vinny replied.

The doc turned white on the spot. “Twenty three. Good god, Vinny, you’re nearly 90. She’s at the height of her sex thing and you’re … you’re … nearly 90.”

“Aye, well, doc,” says Vinny, “age is no barrier to love.”

“I know it isn’t,” the doctor told him, “but it’s not love I’m thinking of, it’s sex. Listen, Vinny, it’s not up to me to preach, but I’m thinking of your heart here. Take a bit of advice and get a young lodger in to take care of the sex. Trust me, you’ll live longer for it.”

So Vinny went away and married his young bint. Six months later, I met him in the Jolly Carter. “So how are you Vinny?” I asked.

“Well to be honest, Flatcap,” he said, “I’m in a spot of bother. The wife’s pregnant.”

I shook my head and ate another pork pie. “Oh dear. I can see how that complicates things Vinny. Mind, it’s good to see you took your doctor’s advice and got a lodger in.”

“Aye,” said Vinny, “but that’s the bloody problem. She’s pregnant an’ all.”

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#fridayflash The McPiesty Revolution

It’s clear that British politicians are just like the rest: arrogant, self-seeking, egocentric money-grabbing bastards of the first magnitude.

It’s time for a change.

To be successful, we need to dispense with certain tenets. The first is that politicians are either thick or out of touch. They’re not. Thick-skinned, certainly, but out of touch? They’re about as out of touch as a banker putting on his zoot suit and spats for a night on the tiles with his annual bonus cheque tucked safely into his wallet. Every move they make is designed to ensure that those moves don’t affect them or the wealthy drones who feed them.

It’s obvious then, that the ballot box will change nothing. You will simply replace one gang of wankers with another. The only way forward is revolution.

My research demonstrated, however, that the most successful British rebellion ever was the public stand against canned beer at football grounds in 1966. Said Charlie Cossingworth, leader of the boycott, “We’re hosting the bleeding World Cup, for God’s sake. What’ll the rest of world think if we try hitting them in the face with a tin can instead of a bottle? Our reputation as hooligans will be well shot.”

In 21st century Britain, we simply do not have the balls that the people of Egypt have demonstrated. The closest we come to rebellion is going “tsk” and switching over to BBC1 to avoid an excess of cleavage on Emmerdale, then switching back for Motorways Cops when the cleavage appears in Eastenders.

We cannot, therefore, rely upon the people. We need more underhand methods. Fortunately, as well as being a world authority on everything from politics to pontificating, sex to surreality, marriage to marmalade, I am also the foremost expert on genetic engineering. It’s true. I engineered the first wife’s knickers off long before we were married and constructed no less than four kids in the process (although we were manacled together by the time the first arrived.) Producing a revolutionary genome that would rule the world would be child’s play by comparison.

It was another kind of nome that gave me the hint. Gordon the Gnome. Gordon sits on our back windowsill keeping an eye on the geraniums and scaring off the cats. I was walking the dog round the back garden one day, when Gordon said, “You need a new pork pie.”

Because we were passing the lupins when he said it, I automatically assumed it was the crocuses that had spoken and I promptly asked, “What do you know about pork pies?”

“They don’t know nothing,” Gordon said. “They don’t even have the brains to get in out of the rain.”

Realising it was Gordon talking, I pointed out, “Neither do you.”

“That’s only cos I’m too small to get off this bloody windowsill,” he retorted. “Now lemme tell you, the only way you will overthrow the democratically elected government of this country is via a genetically engineered pork pie. I know. We did it in Gnomeland long before you were born.”

“You were genetically engineering pork pies back in the 40s?” I asked.

“The 1840s,” he corrected. “Course, we called it pixie magic, but it comes to the same thing. Change the pork pie, you change the world.”

I decided Gordon was right. After all, even the most influential and stinking rich Tory cannot resist the temptation of two pies, even if he does prefer to have his brown sauce served from a gravy boat instead of the HP bottle.

The first experiments were not a success. Crossing a prime growler with an onion bahji was the worst move I’d made since I switched from the Jolly Carter to the Rose & Crown to save tuppence a pint.

Back to the drawing board I went.

Crossing a Piggeries Prime Pie with a Wensleymead Cheese & Onion met with some success, but the breed would not procreate in captivity. I had to set them free, let them roam the highways and by-ways of Saddleworth Moor where to this day they still seek the front window of Bert Bassingthwaite’s butcher’s shop.

Third time lucky.

It was by cross-fertilising the humble growler with a fresh McDuff’s Cornish Pasty from Dumfries that I finally succeeded. The hybrid grew and bred to the point were Her Indoors and me were having a McPiesty for tea every night: sometimes with chips (or fries as Americans and anyone under 40 calls them.)

Best of all, the McPiesty produces an insane euphoria leading to total abandonment and overwhelming feelings of charity. It’s a dangerous cocktail. Even I succumbed. I put fifty pee in the chugger’s collecting tin outside Tesco’s and I left a 40 watt bulb burning all night. What’s more, I felt good about it.

There are some side-effects. An expanding waistline for one. But Her Indoors and yours truly were already ahead of the game in that department before we began the McPiesty diet.

The McPiesty is also highly addictive. One bite and you’re hooked. The only way off the fix is literally cold turkey … without stuffing. Three weeks on Bernard Matthews’ best and you’re back to normal.

We had a tame politician in captivity and we tested the McPiesty on him. Within a week, he had donated his entire £1.3 million pension fund to The Dog Trust, used his Parliamentary expenses to sponsor a workable solution to the Third World problems, and handed over his £800,000 country mansion as a refuge for the unemployed. And he didn’t give a shit.

Proof then, that the way forward for this country lies not in seeking the good in those who are essentially greedy, but by feeding them the McPiesty and changing them forever.

The McPiesty: coming to a politician near you very soon.

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Fun, Fun, Fun

Twittascope has hit the nail on the head again. I want to have fun this weekend because my flirty Gemini moon is in my pleasure house.

So here’s my fun list for the coming days.

  • I have a meeting with my old union rep on Saturday to try get the last of the cash my former employer still owes me.
  • I have to take the dog back to the vet because he still has a touch of pneumonia.
  • I have to go to the doctor’s on Monday morning because I have another chest infection.
  • I have to take the missus for her tri-annual mammogram on Monday afternoon.
  • I have an upcoming appeal against the DLA to decide whether my ability to walk 80 yards constitutes good mobility.
  • I have two debates facing me concerning how much of my credit cards the insurers are willing to settle in the light of my permanent disability.
  • On Wednesday I have my aunt’s funeral.
  • And I’ve run out of Viagra.

Aside from that, life’s one long round of raw hedonism.

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Birthday Wishes?

I’m 61 years old today. I’d forgotten about it but people appear determined to remind me. There are a string of messages on Facebook and one or two said, “have fun.”  Fun? To paraphrase Fawlty, “I remember that, but I gave it up years ago.”

I also gave up counting birthdays a long time ago, mainly because unless there’s a £ sign involved, I can’t count that far.

Her Indoors never forgets a birthday and she’s bought me a present. A new skirt and top from Dorothy Perkins. The gift tags reads, “I hope you get as much use out of this as I did that 148 piece Bosch Hammer Drill you bought me on my birthday.”

She also bought me the DVD of Twister, starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Her Indoors said the movie reminds her of me. “It’s all about strong wind,” she said.

So how will I spend this auspicious day? In a little while I’m off to Tesco where I will moan about the prices and all the other old gits who get in my way. It shows you how slow they are when I’m overtaking them.

Then I shall do a little work on 100 Stories for Queensland where I’ll probably have another moan at those who send in poetry when we don’t want it.

I’ll then follow up with work on my series of novellas and no doubt I’ll find something else to moan about, like the cost of plasma fuel in the 31st century.

But it’s tonight I’m really looking forward to. Her Indoors has promised to do something really special for me.

She’s gonna shut up and let me read in peace.

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Targeted Ads

How well targeted are Facebook Ads? not very well is my opinion.

Alongside my newsfeed I spotted one selling products for people getting older. That’s me. I’m getting older. I know. I move the abacus on one bead every January.

So I took a shufti at this site and it has some remarkable stuff on it, such as …

A floor light with dimmer. This is a fancy angle poise lamp that reaches up to five feet, and it directs 3 times more light onto the page than a 60-watt bulb. The most astonishing thing about this thing is the price. £250 (give or take a copper). TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY QUID? For a lamp that stands behind your chair and serves only two real purposes: 1) it gets knocked over every time I move the chair back and 2) it gives the dog something to cock his leg up against when it’s too cold to go out.

I’m not slating this company in particular, but Facebook’s ill thought out targeting.

Cruises for example. Do I really want to shell out most of next year’s income on a cruise two days after a luxury liner was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean? Her Indoors gets sea sick on the Bridlington Belle and that only goes to Flamborough Head and back and there are no pirates on the Yorkshire Coast (although looking at some of the prices in the chippies, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.)

Dating agency are another lot of ads that show up regularly. I’ve been married twice, and all up it comes to about 40 years. Don’t you think I’ve been punished enough without starting all over again? And that’s not to think of what Her Indoors might say if she caught nipping our for a few brown ales with a 22-year old blonde from Basingstoke (They’re always from Basingstoke. Will someone tell me what’s going on in Basingstoke?)

Are you a DJ has shown up quite often just recently. No I am not a frigging DJ and I don’t ever recall claiming that I had been one, so why are you pestering me?

The content provider sites are always there. Sorry but when I write for cash, I expect a bit more than $2 per 1,000 words which is what one site was offering. I laughed all the way to writing “piss off”.

And the latest ad is from a well known genealogy site (I won’t mention them by name, they don’t publicise my work) asking if I know about the Loch Ness monster. Are they insinuating that I might be distantly related to a mythical beast? If I am, trust me, it’ll be something a lot worse than Nessie.

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Flatcap’s New Year Philosophy

It’s January 2nd and ever since New Year’s Day became a public holiday (yes I do remember a time when it wasn’t) I’ve always regarded this as the official start of the New Year. January 1st is always taken up with a party at my sister-in-law’s farm, anyway.

So today is the day and what’s changed?

To begin with, I’ve changed … my shirt and underpants. I realise it’s not a leap year, but hell, if you can’t put clean shreddies on at the start of January, when can you?

The weather’s changed, too. It’s been quite mild these last few days, but the temperature dipped last night and I had to put another lump of coal on the fire. Time I was ordering another delivery. The last sack that we had delivered in 1974 is almost out.

United won an away game yesterday. Now there’s a change.

Aside from that, I can’t see anything much by way of change in the world or in our house. Her Indoors is still sleeping it off and she won’t see the light of day until one-ish. The dog, overfed on leftover turkey, roast pork et al, is with her, and a scan of the Sunday Garbage (aka newspapers) reveals that the world is its usual filthy mess.

In other words nowt has changed.

This is a mystery to me. I’m not good with people. Dogs, brown ale and pork pies I understand, but people are an enigma. Why, just because we’ve ripped December from the calendar and added a digit to the year, do they expect things to change? If that were going to happen, why not on February 10th, April 14th or July 33rd?  Why January 1st?

Truth is, of course, it’s not the world that needs to change. It’s you.

And New Year resolutions are a total waste of time. In 1983 I resolved to give up using her roasting trays for catching old engine oil, but I’m still tasting Duckham’s Multigrade with the roast beef and Yorkshires.

So there’s Flatcap’s New Year philosophy. Stop waiting for change to happen. Change yourself and make it happen.

BTW if I didn’t get around to wishing you a Happy New Year, don’t take it personally. I couldn’t be bothered.

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Flatcap’s New Year Greeting

New Year’s Eve and many traditions still hold: particularly getting rat-arsed.

I realise that, at our time of life, it’s adolescent to come home fighting drunk in the early hours, wakening the neighbours and giving them verbal when they complain. But will Her Indoors pack the booze in …?

There are other traditions we like to maintain, too. First footing, for example. It’s said that the first person to cross your threshold after midnight should be a tall, dark haired man carrying coal. In our house it’s usually me: a short, fat, bald man carrying a can of lighter fluid, which is as close as you can get to a lump of coal where we live.

A third tradition is a scan of the New Years Honours List with regular declarations such as, “what did that tosspot do to deserve a gong?”

Naturally, there’s the inevitable look back on the last 12 months. This usually takes place on New Year’s Eve and involves mind-blowing comments like, “I never did find that tube of Preparation H after we got back from Prestatyn.”

It’s traditional for us to troop along to my sister-in-law’s farm on New Year’s Day where we join hundreds of other partygoers, all eager to hear my rendition of Mack The Knife. I did it dressed as Darth Vader one year.

Aside from my one effort on karaoke, I tend to keep out of the way in the kitchen, where I drop into bizarre conversations with people I’ve never met before.

They stare at my cap and ask, “Why do they call you Flatcap?” My response is usually, “Why do they call you moron?”

Ann, my sister-in-law, runs a riding school on the farm, and many of her guests are pupils, their parents, and others who stable their nags there. Considering most of them are women, the conversation usually centres on horses, pregnancy, horses, hysterectomies, and horses, not necessarily in that order.

“Are you at all horsey, Flatcap?” one bright young thing asked.

“Well I saddled a few fillies when I was younger,” I told her, and she went off complaining about me.

Few of the people there are readers, which is a shame for me.

“You write books?” asked one young feller.

“Yes,” I said. “You know what I mean. It’s a regular parallelogram made up of printed pages containing words. You read them with your eyes; those things either side of your nose. And if you don’t know, your nose is that bulge in the middle of your face that stops your forehead from collapsing over your mouth.”

Her Indoors is usually drunk enough to carry home by ten o’clock and I can settle down at last. The festive season is over and done with … at least until Easter. And that can’t be far away. Tesco’s were selling Easter eggs the day after Boxing Day.

So this is Flatcap signing off. I’ll see you next year. In the meantime, have the best of New Years and be good. If you can’t be good, you need to perfect your technique.

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