Saturday, 31 March 2007

It don't mean a thing, if you ain't got the swing

I see from today's Independent newspaper, that Ewan Morrison, a self-proclaimed Scottish Purveyor of Erudite Filth, claims to have spent a year 'swinging', while 'between' novels.

His 17 Point Guide to Swinging (and reading about the sexual exploits of other people is always something to be relished as you tuck into your bacon and eggs on a Saturday morning) is a handy 'cut out and keep' guide to the current state of sexual mores in the UK. Two websites set up to cater for this new breed of sexual experimenters both claim to have around 700,000 'members' (no pun intended) - although swinging being what it is, I imagine there is a lot of overlap between the membership.

Perhaps I need to underline at this point that neither Mrs Blunt nor myself have ever felt the need to 'swing'. She is a fine woman, someone to be savoured and not shared. Any marital needs I might have are most ably met by her, and those that are not are filled by the admirable dishes served up at the Light of Bengal restaurant.

Not for me the wanton pleasures of watching other people in the act of copulation. I will leave that to the Scottish players, for now.

Friday, 30 March 2007

First they came for the smokers...

Now that the smoking of cigarettes is about to be made close to illegal in the UK (except in other than 'public places'), it's time that right-minded folk came together to oppose the insidious creep of political correctness.

While surfing the internet today, I discovered that Lea & Perrins, that fine bastion of English cooking, has been the subject of intense lobbying by vegetarians to remove all traces of anchovy from their product. Such has been the scale of the problem, that Lea & Perrins have rushed to respond, publicly, via their website, to re-assure anchovy lovers the world over (by which I mean those who love to eat them, not those who 'love' them in the sense of merely wanting to prolong their lives just because they are fish) that they will not be altering their recipe.

I'm with L&P on this one. And I suggest that anyone who shares my views writes, or e-mails, in support of the company.

It's a brave man who accuses Bill Blunt of being stuck in a rut. But Mrs Blunt's toad in the hole would not be the same without a little splash of Lea & Perrins in the mix. Without the essence of dead anchovy, it simply wouldn't be the same.

More on what the world is currently saying about anchovies here.

I'd rather be a Journalist than an Engineer

In the days when the establishment was easily rocked by the barbed comments of satirists, the late and much lamented Peter Cook was always someone I particularly enjoyed.

As I struggled manfully to assemble a simple shoe cupboard yesterday, I thought of his wonderful monologue by the character he created, EL Wisty. Mr Wisty bemoaned the fact that he would much have preferred to have been a judge than a miner.

I retrieved the assembly instructions from the bin this morning, to demonstrate why I think I was right to choose journalism as my lifetime career, rather than following in the footsteps of my father, who was an engineer.

These wordless instructions led me, first of all, to assemble the two sides the wrong way around. Then, I somehow managed to insert the piece marked with an arrow in the wrong place.

A job that might have taken any competent DIYer little more than 10 minutes managed to take over an hour. Those handles on the cabinet doors started to take on the form of an accusing grin.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Not in this case, it didn't.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

They're Taking Over the Asylum

While spending an idle moment 'surfing' the internet yesterday, I came across one particular website, or blog or whatever it is, that I enjoyed immensely.

Gimcrack Hospital provides an antipodean expose of life in an 'improper' hospital. As someone who, many moons ago, spent a summer vacation cleaning the nether regions of elderly folk in a South Manchester hospital, I can attest to the veracity of almost every word written by the estimable Nurse Myra. It seems that the carnival of life in a psychiatric hospital is much the same whether it be in Australia or Withington.

Don't get me talking about UK psychiatric hospitals, however, or we'll be in for a very long posting, indeed.

I was very, very drunk....

I understand that the Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP has now written to all those who petitioned him for the early release of the 1911 UK census.

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that Bill Blunt did not lend his signature to that particular campaign. So far as I am concerned, those who completed the census did so in the firm belief that the information they submitted would be safe from prying eyes for 100 years.

My great aunt Dorothea was a prominent member of the Suffragette movement. As I understand it, family lore has it that she spent the evening of Sunday, 2 April 1911 in a Soho speakeasy. This has since been confirmed by no other authority than Wikipedia, who report that:

The Women's Freedom League, a suffragette organisation campaigning for female suffrage in the United Kingdom, organised a boycott of the 1911 census, and women were encouraged to go to all-night parties or to stay at friends' houses in order to avoid completing the census.

As far as I'm concerned, that's her business. And for once, I'm glad to say, HM Gov seem to support my view.

Here's what Tony Blair had to say:

It is for this reason that there is a policy of a 100-year delay before releasing the personal data in the census. The purpose is to minimise the risk of embarrassment both to those living and to their immediate descendants.

I for one don't wish to know what Great Aunt Dorothea got up to in Soho, on that steamy, sultry night in April 1911.

And I can't think why anyone else might want to, either.

In truth, the risk of embarrassing any one of the 42 million people who were enumerated in 1911 is just too great.

Let's just let it lie.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Heaven is a Door in Waterloo Street

It's quite some time since I wrote a regular column for the fledgling Oldham Athletic FC fanzine, Beyond the Bolundary. I was sad to learn of its demise since, in its hey-day, BTB rocked the very foundations of the football establishment.

I am nevertheless proud of my own, minor contribution to what one critic once described as 'poetry in print'.

Although it is some years since my family lived in Oldham, I have fond memories of the place, notwithstanding that, at the time, it was ruled by the kind of 'Old' Labour Party mafia that might have even embarassed Pol Pot's regime.

So, I was naturally delighted to stumble across a 'blog' penned by a true Oldhamer. Reading it brought back happy recollections of the time I caught a famous Oldham footballer 'straightening his tie' in a Waterloo Street doorway. I was never able to write about it, you understand: not for me, the sensationalist kiss-and-tell tabloid tales. His secret was safe with me and, I am pleased to report, Mrs Blunt never got wind of it, either.

Anyway, I trust you will enjoy Crofty's most estimable Blog. I would have been proud to have a writer of his calibre working alongside me on any one of the numerous publications I have contributed to.

Well done, that man!

Friday, 16 March 2007

The Blue Badge of Courage

It's a brave man who accuses Bill Blunt of knocking the younger generation, but when I read about the exploits of this policewoman via her admirable blog, The Slim Blue Line, I was struck by two contrasting thoughts.

On the one hand, how very encouraging that the police force is still able to recruit caring, thinking individuals such as the author of that blog. My second thought was what a sorry tale the blog tells of the drunken excesses of today's youth, as they stumble past piles of their own vomit to the next fight, disco or late-night kebab house.

Anyway, it's a delight to read this new blog, which provides a human face to people who are doing a difficult job, in difficult places, at a difficult time. Well done!

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Fame (of sorts) at last!

Not content with mentioning the Birkenhead Beagle in his (for the want of a better word) fictioblog, I see that Thomas Hamburger has now given me a walk-on part.

I hope he's careful what he writes, or I'll have my brief knocking at his door sooner than you can say 'Libel'.

He's been very kind so far - but I know the man of old, so I'll be watching out for the kind of character assassination he's famous for!

Friday, 9 March 2007

Genealogy - it's not for the faint-hearted!

It's a brave man that says Bill Blunt is afraid to confront his past. It's well documented that Mrs Blunt and I have spent many a happy hour raking over the coals of our ancestors.

But even I have baulked at the constant twists and turns unfolding in my former colleague's recent foray into genealogical fiction via his online bog Harry McFry Investigates.

It's a nice idea - the story of someone who has 'lost' their family. As someone who is trying to lose their family quite regularly, I can't pretend I've been an avid follower of Thomas Hamburger Junior's recent attempt at fiction.

I first encountered Thomas while penning a column for the ill-fated Birkenhead Beagle, that short-lived daily newspaper that claimed its bite was worse than its bark. His articles on the darker side of family history were always popular with a 'certain' type of reader.