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Monthly Archives: March 2009

As I trudged wearily across the windswept comedic wastelands of media-hell, my battered and sodden plumage was once more raised, if only for moments, by the glimmering light that suggested a possibility of warmth, or maybe even hope

The flickering memories of long-distant laughter were momentarily rekindled by such a sheltering cosyness of intent

Fragile titters, momentary guffaws, and tender, solitary chuckles appeared as if from nowhere, and the false dawn of an early morning thunderhead illuminated my night-crusted eyes

Had I dreamt a dream of a young man’s hopeful vision, or had I simply witnessed three of the Apocalypse’s fiery nags in flight, and in my depths of desperation transmuted their base metal to a sheen of golden delight?

Gorman, Lee, and Legge may be their earthly nomenclature, but if that fourth and deadliest of all horsemen should ever make themselves known … then, surely the Armageddon of the Mediocre must await us all

Comedy has once more arisen

Let Corden, Carr, and Kay, once more, be not Children of the Corn, but Children of the Damned

Both Stewart Lee’s and Dave Gorman’s new shows are fantastic, and a real shock at that

Have the TY commissioning editors been drugged … hopefully!!



Here’s an interesting wee item, from my US friend Teri Swanson


Railroad tracks

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 ft 8.5 in

That’s an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder ‘What horse’s ass came up with it?’ – you may be exactly right.

Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two warhorses. (Two horse’s asses.)

Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB’s. The SRB’s are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.

The engineers who designed the SRB’s would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB’s had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRB’s had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.

And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important?

Ancient horse’s asses control almost everything… and
CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.



This is from the blog of Graham Linehan, writer of “Father Ted”

The Express wins the race to the bottom

March 18, 2009

The Dunblane Massacre was an atrocity almost beyond imagining. A man named Thomas Hamilton walked into a school in a small Scottish town in March 1996, and shot dead sixteen children and one teacher. It was not what we’ve since come to think of as a ‘normal’ school shooting as it was a primary school, and all the children were aged between five and six years of age. We were filming an episode of ‘Father Ted’ that week, and on the night of the recording, no-one, the audience or the cast, felt terribly inclined to have a good time; difficult to throw your head back and laugh when all you could think about were those kids, their parents, the town…but most of all, those kids, those kids, those poor kids…

All those useless thoughts, sent to torture the unwary after a tragedy such as this one, we knew them well. If only someone had sensed how dangerous he was…if only handguns had been banned a year before it happened, rather than a year after… In the days and weeks that followed, we were all endlessly replaying the same fantasy of somehow managing to stop Hamilton before he got to the school gates. But there was nothing we could do, of course, except respect the memory of the kids who died, and thank dumb, blind chance for the survival of the others.
That basic human reaction, that powerful urge to protect those children, has always been something I presumed was shared by most other human beings. But a lady named Paula Murray has disabused me of that particular whimsy.

Paula is the journalist who thought it was well past time that the survivors of the Dunblane massacre were given a tabloid punching. To that end, she befriended a group of them on Facebook and collated their photographs and comments. Clearly aware of the legal guidelines in place to protect those under eighteen against invasion of privacy (and the specific instructions that the Press Complaints Commission issued regarding the Dunblane children), she waited until they hit eighteen. Then she wrote this.

The story continued inside under the headline “SICK MESSAGES SHAME MEMORY OF CLASSMATES”, referring to the normal, teenagery stuff they were saying to each other on their profiles. (I should say thank you to those on Twitter who helped me black out the names and photographs of the kids). As others have pointed out, the gist of the story is that these kids are showing disrespect to their dead classmates by… being alive.

Here’s an example of Paula’s scoop: “For instance, (name deleted), who was hit by a single bullet and watched in horror as his classmates died, makes rude gestures in pictures he posted on his Bebo site, and boasts of drunken nights out.”

Rude gestures. Boasting. Drunkenness.

Now, I’m coming late to this one… complaints to the PCC have been made by two of the victims of the article, the piece has been pulled from the Express website… so we should probably forget about it, right?

I don’t know. I think the line that has been crossed here is different to all the other lines the press routinely cross.

The press likes us to believe they’re a properly regulated body, but they’re anything but. First of all, The PCC seems to be a completely toothless organisation by design. It is made up of representatives of the major publishers, who are obviously not inclined to be too hard on themselves. Also, unlike Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority, who have easy-to-use complaint forms on their websites, the PCC don’t even accept third party complaints – in other words, unless you are the person named in a printed article, they’re not interested in hearing your opinion. So when faced with an affront to our humanity (which is what I believe this Express story is), there is no official channel for us to register our anger. That’s right – if you are offended by something on TV, Radio or in an advert, you can complain; if you’re offended by something in the print press…well, you’re just going to have to walk it off, because literally no-one wants to know.

So, I think it is up to us to take a stand for those kids who had their privacy so ruthlessly invaded. Paula Murray set out to finish the job that Thomas Hamilton started, except this time, character assassination (of the most pathetic, intelligence-insulting kind) was the aim, and the weapons were a Facebook account and an editor with a moral centre as atrophied as her own. If there is a line beyond that one that the press can cross, I think we should make it harder for them to do so.

So! What can we do? Here are a few suggestions:

1) Stand up and be counted. Matt Nida has started an online petition which you can find here. When he’s got a decent number of names, he’ll be submitting it to the editor responsible for the story, the publishers and managing directors of Express Group Newspapers, the PCC, Downing Street and all media outlets who may be able to help shame the Express Group into action by making public the strength of national feeling about this.

2) Email your personal complaint to the Editorial Director of the Express Group about the conduct of Paula Murray and Scottish Sunday Express, Derek Lambie, who was responsible for placing the piece on the front cover. The Editorial Director is Paul Ashford, and this is his secretary’s email address, so please try to avoid being abusive to her – it’s not her fault! – and preface your email by asking Jo to pass your letter on to Mr Ashford.

3) Write to Express Group publisher Richard Desmond. He keeps his email address well hidden, but you can write to him by snail mail at: Richard Desmond, Northern and Shell building, 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EN

4) Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads suggested targeting the advertisers, which seems like a marvellous idea. I’ve written a template letter here. Tim’s blog has a full list of advertisers, but here are a few selected contact details to get you started – and it may be more effective if we all write to the same companies.

Marks and Spencer
Spec savers
Tote Sport


Dear Sirs,

I regret to inform you that I will be boycotting your company until such time as you see fit to withdraw advertising from the Daily and Sunday Express newspapers, or until the Sunday Express publishes a front page apology for their March 8th 2009 attack on the innocent survivors of the Dunblane Tragedy.

Yours sincerely,
7) If you have a Facebook account and would like to vent with likeminded folks, here’s a group set up to protest the story.
Again, thanks to everyone on Twitter who helped me write this post by providing links and hosting the original story after it was taken down. Sorry if the post goes on a bit…as they say, I didn’t have time to write a shorter piece.

Thanks for listening.





We’ll be keeping this one

for the day of  Thatcher’s demise

This is


the best wee bit of

humorous animation


I’ve watched, in ages !!

I really laughed at this.


Here are two of my Flying Elephant series of graffix,

from “Think Or Thwim”


A book which I hope to publish

… eventually


I think that it’s probably too cheerful a wee book for most publisher’s nowadays …

as it doesn’t concern my rehab-experiences,

or my struggle with heroin,

or my sexual-abuse as a child,

or violent upbringing


“As a child … did your father touch you?

“Yeah … but not enough?”

There’s now a section in bookshops,

and even in Asda’s limited bookshelves,

and featured alongside Science Fiction, Thrillers,

Romance, Cooking, Biography,

Religion and Other Fantasies …

we find the increasingly popular

“Miserable Lives” section


In the course of our present economic avalanche,

it’s expected that it will entirely occupy

75% of the shop’s floorspace,

by October








is having a £300,000 diamond-encrusted dashboard

made for her pink Bentley.

The hotel heiress, 27, will have it flown out from the firm’s British HQ in Crewe to be fitted to her £140,000 Continental GT in Los Angeles.

Cutting a dash … Paris at the wheel of her car

But she may have to wait — the Cheshire plant is halting production until early May due to the economic downturn.

A Bentley source said last night: I guess she’s not hit too badly by the recession.

Paris got one of her guys to phone Bentley in Crewe, where the vehicle was made, to ask if it would be possible to give it a little more sparkle.

When the man said she wanted to stud the dashboard with a couple of hundred grand’s worth of diamonds, we were stunned.

We’re used to dealing with the stars so we expect the odd extravagance, but this is something else.

Paris bought the Bentley in December as a Christmas present to herself.

She had it sprayed pink and the Bentley badge replaced with her own initials. The upholstery, grille and hubcaps are also pink and the car has a tint on the windows to prevent photographs being taken of her inside.

She gushed:

I’ve just always wanted a pink car.

I think when you’re a little girl and you have the Barbie Corvette you’re always like, ‘Oh, I wish I had a car like this one day.’

I think it just comes from being a fan of Barbie for so long








Currys and PC World owner DSG International is to open 50 megastores as part of an ongoing revamp of its UK business.

The electricals giant will base the new stores on its 55,000 sq ft Currys megastore in Birmingham where average weekly profits have grown by more than 50 per cent since October. The site is on course for annual sales of up to £35 million.

DSG said the megastore trial will be rolled out to five more UK stores this year and believes there are plenty of opportunities within the existing Currys and PC World estate for “between 20 to 50 such superstores across the UK”.

It comes as DSG prepares for the arrival of US electrical giant Best Buy which will open superstores in the UK later this year.

As part of a three-year turnaround plan, DSG has overhauled 60 of its UK outlets with 13 Currys superstores, four stores, 41 PC World superstores, the new Currys megastore and one trial store combining Currys and PC World.

The “consumer-focused” revamp involves the retraining of store staff, more choice of products and shop redesigns, as well as the removal of 77 under-performing stores from the group’s estate as their leases end over the next few years.

The group has been hit hard by the consumer spending downturn and in January reported a 10 per cent drop in quarterly sales as shoppers put off purchases until after Christmas.

The revamps have delivered average gross profit uplifts of 15 per cent to 50 per cent, DSG said, and chief executive John Browett said the brand is on track with plans to reformat another 90 to 120 stores in the UK and Nordic region over the next 12 months.

DSG plans capital expenditure of between £140 million and £155 million in 2009/10, rising to between £155 million and £165 million over 2010/11


© Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved




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