Monday, August 29, 2011

Whirl's Bank Holiday Weekend Q&A

Why are you having a Bank Holiday Q&A?

Because it’s a bank holiday weekend, I’m back from my holidays — and because I can.

But you’re asking all the questions! What Kind of Q&A is this?

It’s my kind of Q&A, so butt out, Big Nose.

Nose off!

Arse Face!


Grolly Pimp!

So. Anyway. Is it true your car was stolen on holiday?

Not quite — Girly of Whirly and I only found out it hadn’t actually been stolen after we telephoned the gendarmes, by which time we presumed we’d be spending a couple of nights rotting in a French jail for irritating said cops with our bogus robbery antics.

How could your car have been stolen when it actually wasn’t?

We walked round the car park three times but mysteriously missed its uniquely filthy silver glow on every single occasion.

Crikey! Next thing, you’ll be telling me the gendarmes screamed into the car park at the precise moment you finally clapped eyes on your supposedly stolen vehicle.

Your assessment of the comic timing on this one is not wrong.

Were you bricking it, given that the gendarmes pack rods?

Some of my hastily layed bricks were reserved for this, yes, but I was mainly thinking about our initial encounter with the gendarmes barely seconds into our holiday as we rolled off the Eurotunnel train into Calais.

Would that be the same Eurotunnel train as the one where you were caught short with no functioning toilets and an endless queue of doubled-up Dutchmen?


So what was the problem with the gendarmes in Calais?

We pulled in front of them on the ring road in our excessively laden car and they stuck the Vs up while packing their rods.

Phew! I thought you were going to say they pulled you over and frisked you till the goosepimples crawled up your neck and made giant lychees of your heads.

Don’t be silly. That only happens in Tripoli — and then only to clearly transvestite dictators down on their luck.

He still has his own hair.

So they say.

Moving on, what was all the business with the malevolent goats?

Apart from a layer of fromage de chevre on a 650-cheese pizza there was no direct goat-on-man action, I’m pleased to say — but I did notice that while I was away, no less than three people dropped in to this blog as a result of searching for “attacked by a goat”.

Hmmm, enough said about the goats. I’m sure you don’t want to scare your readers with any further talk of quadruped menace — so what about the restaurants?

Crawling with creatures with either too many legs or none, I’m afraid. It’s said the French have strange taste in food but I think it’s more a case of a taste for strange things that aren’t food.

Okay — so what about the waiters? And the food?

You mean the overly generous oriental chap who graced my trois boules de Monsieur Whippy with more chantilly cream than actually existed in the world right after serving me a sea bass the size of a whale and a starter monstrous enough actually to be more of a “finisher”? Or the liquified salt cod and mash that came served in a bowl with a jacket potato accompaniment as if in a Look Out There’s A Carbohydrate Midas About kind of a way. Ha! At least that one was tastier than the self-organising fat molecules cunningly self-organised into a pile of chips dancing in a cloud of eau de Carbonised Maris Piper.

Were you molested by a drunk French nudist?

Not quite — though he did come close enough for us to see the blacks of his pubes.

Any skinny dipping for you?

Not intentionally. That said, I did forget I was in a public place on one occasion while changing out of my trunks and accidentally flashed a wrinkled old lady.

Was she scared?

Luckily, her head was buried under a copy of Le Figaro. Made her miniature ludicrous dog howl, though, like it had been prodded with a cattle prod still attached to a rampaging bull.

How was the weather?

Mostly sunny and bright but there were a few days when the French seemed to have laid things on Le Pub style to make us feel at home.

So — plenty of thunder and lightning, huh?

Yes — plus they kept lining up to drench us with their hose pipes.

Including the drunk French nudist?

Including the drunk French nudist. Luckily he was so drunk, his exuberant parabolas missed us, otherwise we’d have gotten absolutely soaked.

By ‘us’ I presume you mean Girly of Whirly and Son of Whirl. What were the highlights of their holiday?

Son sloped around with the enthusiasm of a cocoon for the whole fortnight, breaking the aching silence only occasionally with comments such as, “this is crap”, “this is boring” and “what’s so interesting about the inside of a useless church?” In contrast, Girly of Whirly was a typhoon of energy, racing from one shop to another for a traditional Gallic basket like she does every time we visit France despite there being about a dozen such holiday souvenirs collecting dust in the attic.

Did you kiss Zinedine Zidane in the toilets at E LeClerc?

When I threw my arms around the guy and pressed my lips to his cheeks, I was absolutely certain it was him, but you know how easy it is to make a mistake in the twilight world between urinal and hand basin. Turned out to be Franck Ribèry.

Talking of grottos, how were the many troglodyte caves you visited?

You mean, did I inadvertently offend the ugly woman dressed in green behind the counter at Les Grottes de Matata by joking that her Village Troglodyte badge was a name tag rather than a Gallically reversed reference to the tourist site in question — the same ugly woman who was, in fact, English?

What happened when she tried to wrestle you to the ground in a fit of anger?

We were very fortunate that Franck Ribèry had taken a shine to me and had been stalking us since I kissed him in E LeClerc, and he burst from a group of bewildered Germans and defused the situation with his ball skills.

Beats goats, I suppose.

I’ve heard he does.

That it?

Always end on a goat...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Whirl Goes Sunbathing

Running away to catch some sun while England burns seems almost irresponsible but my skin needs the flicker of credible sunlight across its disturbing pallidity — plus there’s no way I’m walking round Brum in a hoodie while possessed by some Android-hungry feral frenzy.

This means nothing will be happening on this blog until almost the end of August — unless you, dear readers, choose otherwise.

In a ‘cat away, mice can play — hey, they can even dress up if they like’ kind of way, I’m leaving the comments trail open for samples of your teenage poetry.

Think of it like Tie A Yellow Ribbon.

A man goes to prison and emerges years later to find his sweetheart — a bearded 70s hippy — has strangled an oak tree half to death with dyed knicker elastic. What it never mentions in the original song (by Dawn*) is that the guy got sent down for rioting in San Pedro (specifically, stealing two boxes of 8-track tapes from a liquor store and, in the absence of a bona fide hoodie, inadvertently exposing himself trying to tie his underpants round his face).

* Dawn? More like The Middle Of The Afternoon On Bloody Mercury

So tie me some ribbons while I’m away.

Five contributions, and I’ll post a sample of my own teenage poetry at the start of September.

Ten contributions, and I’ll post an academic treatise on the genre.

Fifteen contributions, and I’m staying in France...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Snakes Still Alive (Yet)

Did anyone catch Dragons’ Den this week?

The new series featuring that bus conductress woman with the Black & Decker workmate stuffed under her jacket?

I’m a regular watcher of the show, partly to keep tabs on how dreadful most people are at giving speeches and presentations, but mainly to fulfill my need for mocking spurious creations.

This week, there was a bloke who’d come up with spectacular initiative for preventing splashback while you’re sitting au bobbeur. I’m guessing he came up with the idea after accidentally dropping a rubber duck down the pan while cleaning the bath. One set of opened bowels later and — Eureka! An inflatable toy floating dead centre in the water can nullify any degree of splashback bar the Full Honours Stomach Bug Splatterpan Posse Of Doom.

None of the dragons went for it, of course. For starters there was no point investing in the manufacture of a product that had already been invented in other forms (from balloons to tennis balls to other floaty bobbly things up to and including dead fish). Secondly, it was just a bloody stupid idea. There’s enough to do with a toilet brush on a cleaning day morning without the extra requirement of scraping shit off a ludicrous obstacle costing £9.99.

But I’m nothing if not an entrepreneur — and it got me thinking.

A duo of trained water naga would be perfect for remedying splashback.

Instructed to swim in opposing circles when presented with an overhead gusset, they could quickly produce a Dyson-style cyclonic suction effect on the water that would eliminate any hint of splashing and speed anything deposited quickly away. If your loo handle was fitted with a scent ‘n’ detergent dispenser there would be no need to clean up afterwards. Or ever. The naga would continue circling each other for a few more minutes in a miracle of self-cleaning. Why — you wouldn’t even need a loo brush.

I envisage a range of products.

You’d have your basic twinned naga as described above — but then there would be advanced versions.

With the Home Safety option, your naga would act as watchdogs whenever you left the house, circling once every fifteen minutes to produce a roar like the growl of a slumbering bulldog. Any unwanted house guest failing to be deterred in this way could always be bitten and poisoned to death at a later stage.

Add on a Kleenee Weenee plan and your naga could function as an accessory washing machine on those days when you have too much dirty laundry for a single load. I can see the TV ad for this one right now. Mrs TV Family is straining to fill the washing machine when her husband (played by James May) wanders into the washroom with two pairs of smelly socks and some stained cycling shorts. He shrugs, as if to say, “there’s no way these will fit in that damned tiny machine without straining the door or damaging the tub so I guess I’ll have to turn up to the gym tomorrow reeking like some disgusting tramp!” Mrs TV Family smiles (and I’m thinking here of either Caroline Quentin or Edwina Currie) and chirps back, “don’t fret, love — just toss them in the Kleenee Weenee Naga.”

A similar scheme could work well with dirty dishes — or children — and, if the naga were especially intelligent, wheeling Granny to the Bingo.

The top-of-the-range product would have to be ultra swanky, mind, with multiple layers of naga like a Gillette ten blade razor or quintuple glazing or a fizzy drink so fizzy there’s no actual liquid in the bottle.

Think ‘multiple double helix of serpents’ — all the way down the soil pipe to the centre of the earth. Sewers, as they currently exist, would be rendered obsolete overnight, and if enough people bought into the Swankee Option, mankind might have at its disposal a global network of powerful jet-like motors for avoiding a future asteroid collision emergency.

Again, the TV ad:

Quentin: The suction on that thing is so powerful it’s unravelled the twill on my knickers!

May (chortling): Yes — and that huge chunk of space rock that’s been hurtling towards the earth since 735 B.C. has just sailed right past and smacked into Venus!

Am I on to a winner or am I on to a winner?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Two Fifteen From Havana To The Midlands

   Weird things happen on crowded train journeys.

   I never meant to make one yesterday; it was supposed to be a regular journey complete with space to stretch my legs and no requirement that I be breathed on from a distance of less than six inches by a fat woman whose ludicrous layers of slap somehow failed to disguise a Tolkienesque beard.

   But so it goes with trains.

   It only takes one points failure, one delayed connection, for an otherwise pleasant experience to be transformed into a weird kind of torture. Add to that a dead husky sled team on the line and you’re talking torture orchestrated by a sadist savant.

   So as everyone is jockeying for space in the aisle — those fortunate enough to have bagged a seat pretending to be more disabled/ill/dead than those standing — this old black guy sidles up.

   Actually, ‘guy’ is the wrong word — he’s more of a gent.

   Struggling to hit 5' 6", he’s dressed in a smart jacket midway between lime and sage with a neatly folded handkerchief sitting elegantly in the top pocket. His trousers are pressed, his shoes are smart, and atop his head is a straw boater
— all of which gives him the appearance of a man bound for Havana rather than Walsall.

   He perches his slender backside on the edge of a table, somehow managing to maintain his poise and composure among the assembled throng of the twisted and stiff, and had it not been for his distinctive scent, my curiosity would have passed on to some other traveller, maybe flitting back to my mystery gent from time to time but certainly not remaining with him for most of the journey.

   It was an odour I haven’t encountered for thirty-odd years — an unmistakable whiff from days gone by when football shorts were made of real cotton and chafed the insides of your thighs.

   This smart little gent smelled of mothballs.

   I’m tempted to ask what became of mothballs but I suppose the answer is obvious because they make your clothes stink. But it does beg the question: whatever happened to moths? Why did they stop inhabiting cupboards and wardrobes some time around 1977? Personally, I blame nylon underwear.

   While my nostrils are busy processing this new old information, arranging it next to the ming of sweaty bra, bearded lady and inevitable egg and cress sandwich, Mr Havana takes out a book and proceeds to read, his hands cupping its hardback cover like a polished lecturn. It’s a book about trades and shares — a very ‘on the money’ topic given the number of world economies suddenly on the skids. Problem is, it looks like it’s been lifted from the dusty back shelf of a failing Oxfam where it’s resided for the past half a century between the 1911 Pears Cyclopaedia and a margerine carton full of ear wax bound for Ethiopia.

   The remainder of my uncomfortable journey lasts another half an hour and I can’t take my eyes off this strange man. He doesn’t move and he doesn’t shuffle about but I can tell by the slight shrinkage of his jacket and the fixity of his knees that he’s working very hard to maintain this posture, poised on the edge of a table on a crowded train with book in hand. He reads it with a studious look on his face, like he’s weighing up these facts and figures of yesteryear and applying his new-found knowledge to today’s financial woes. There are graphs, which he traces with his finger like he was stroking a fluffy caterpillar prone to eczema, and he goes back to the words again and again as if re-evaluating their import in light of insights flashing beneath his boater.

   All the way to Walsall, in a haze of mothballs, he reads

   This out-of-date hardback book about trades and shares.

   All the way from page 7 to page 7.

   When the train finally groans its way into the station, I’m tempted to follow him, to see where he goes, but having been barred from the loo for the final part of my journey thanks to the crush, I badly need a wee.

   Disappointed to let this curious chap slip away, I follow the bearded lady into the Gents...