Thursday, March 31, 2005



"Will you just SHUT UP?!?"

I go through the routine of 'gentle poke' followed by 'loving little nudge' followed by 'heavy slap that would be classified as spousal abuse in seventeen states'.

But the LTLP will not stop snoring.

It is not a ladylike snore. It is like a heffalump playing the tuba. I lie there, miserable and exhausted, listening to Jumbo's Amazing Animal Band.

It starts deep in the lower register, then rises, soaring throught the scales in a dramatic crecendo before dying away in a low and echoey rumble. In my ear.

I try to turn her over, so at least the sound would be going in the other direction. But her comatose state is having none of it. Ten to four. I watch the clock. Tick tock, tick tock.

I decide to go for a wee wee. This goes well. I return to the bedroom, wondering if there is anything else that would like to conspire against my restful night's sleep.

The telephone rings.

Now, there is only one reason why the telephone would ring just before four o'clock in the morning. And that is that my grandmother has died. It's a call that I less dread now than I expect, although she has good physical care and the female half of the JonnyB family tend to live for ever. (Not literally, that would be sinister). Humbly, I step downstairs to the phone.

It is not the rest home. She is alive after all!!! Hooray!!!

My humbleness disappears and is once more replaced by sleepless misery. "Turn left! No! Next one! Then about three miles down there!" - the voice on the line is distant, and I realise with fatigue and fatalism that somebody is accidentally dialling me on their mobile phone.

"Hello!!! Hello!!! Put the phone down!!!" I scream. "Put the fucking phone down!!!"

But it is useless - they cannot hear me. My anger and exasperation is only muted slightly when I realise the origin of the call - my sister, RonnieB, who is in Brisbane and thus running up a satisfactorily large Vodafone bill.

I stomp back upstairs to bed. The Animal Band has started up again on the second movement. She half-wakes as I enter.

"I am going to sleep in the spare room," I hiss, retaining my manly dignity through gritted teeth. "And I am taking Honey Bear with me."

We spend the night apart.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Things the rabbits have eaten this Easter:
- An entire sage bush
- All my garden mint
- My nice wallflowers
- The plants that I was DRAGGED ROUND A GARDEN CENTRE ON GOOD FRIDAY to purchase.

Things the rabbits have not eaten this Easter:
- Ground elder
- Stinging nettles
- Bindweed
- Themselves

Advantages of having the rabbits in the garden:
- They frolic in an entertaining fashion
- I don't have to mow the lawn

Disadvantages of having the rabbits in the garden:

On balance...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter in the village!!!

I have a whole four days off from the exhausting work routine of sitting at home at the PC.

The sun emerges, so I decide to do some gardening.

There is a new series of Doctor Who starting tonight. I don't know if you know about this - it's a bit of a landmark and you would have thought the BBC would have at least done something to promote it. It stars Christopher Eccleston, who is a proper actor.

I think the new series should include an episode where the Doctor does battle with ground elder.

Ground elder is the Patrick Kielty of garden weeds. It gets fucking everywhere. You can dig it up, hoe it, spray it with noxious chemicals and it still pops its head up cheerfully where you least want to see it. I haven't tried, but would imagine that it is pretty poor at reading from an autocue. Some people treat it as a vegetable. I just want it as far away from my property as humanly possible.

I do a lot of digging up, but get bored with that after about ten minutes and so spray loads of Round Up on the garden. Round Up is made by Monsanto, who are an EVIL CHEMICAL CORPORATION, but my dinner will be organic so I have kept to the spirit of balance in the Kyoto agreement. The spraying is backbreaking work, so I have to have a little sit down after another ten minutes.

I have enjoyed my gardening session. 'Dig for victory' they used to say, and I am pleased that I have done my bit to help our boys in Iraq. I put the kettle on for a cup of tea and settle down with a hot cross bun.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"Are you SURE that I don't need to wear a suit?"

"You don't need to wear a suit."

""You're definitely SURE I don't need to wear a suit?"

"No, you don't need to wear a suit."

Thus it was that I turned up to the Important Scientific Conference evening gala dinner as one of only three people not wearing a suit. The other two were internationally renowned eccentric scientists.

As I tried to explain to the LTLP, there is nothing that causes more horror and nightmares to an English working class male than the thought of turning up to an event improperly dressed. I am no longer working class (I own a stainless-steel magnetic knife-rack) but I stood there in the foyer ashamed and small, watching people whisper to each other cattily about my suitless appearance.

It could have been so much worse. Being in Italy taught me many things. Firstly that I will never, never agree to give up our own British pound in favour of a currency that features such mediocre graphic design and institutionally generic typography. Secondly, that Italian hotels don't provide an iron in the room and, on top of that, refuse to give you one when you ask.

I headed out into the city in search of an uncreased shirt to wear.

Prada... Gucci... Valentino - and all I wanted was a Signor Byrite. One with shirts hung on hangers and not folded up in boxes. One with the prices clearly on display and where you could browse unmolested by people speaking Italian at you.

There are two types of Englishperson abroad. Those that don't speak the language and couldn't give a fuck about it - getting on by pointing, shouting and relying on the natives to speak English. And there are those that don't speak the language and feel guilty, ashamed and vulnerable about it. On reflection, I think the former have a better time. I know how to order four things in Italian - coffee, ice cream, beer and wine. Shirt-shopping was an ordeal of insecurity and embarrassment.

But I now have an Italian shirt!!! It is snazzy and stripy. I will wear it when I go to the Village Pub next, and they will all be impressed and say 'look at his Italian shirt'.

I walked out of the shop, pleased with myself but longing for the comforting familiarity of Norfolk.

Monday, March 21, 2005

"Oh for GOD'S SAKE!!!" came the yell from the bathroom.

"What is it?"

The LTLP stormed into the hotel room like a balrog with period pain.

"This skid mark!!! You could at least have cleaned round the bowl!!!"

I tried to pretend that it had been left by a previous guest. But she was not taken in. She is too good at putting faeces to names.

To be honest, I was damned if I was going to clean the toilet on my holiday. Especially one of those foreign toilets that is designed not to give your poo a clean path down the pipe. I read somewhere that this allows the pooer to check the colour and shape of their poo in order to check how healthy they are.

Frankly, I think an obsession with the colour and shape of your poo indicates a certain level of unhealthiness no matter what it looks like.

Mine is usually quite a light brown. I know that not because I have installed a special diagnostic toilet, like some foreign poo-obsessed wierdo, but because it is very simple just to glance at your toilet paper after having a wipe. That is far simpler than any bespoke porcelain arrangement, and shows again how the British are the best in the world at lateral thinking.

If I were concerned about some illness or the like, I could then match the toilet paper against a rough chart on the wall before hygienically disposing of it down the toilet in one flush. If I were really worried, I could take the soiled paper into the study and scan it in as a jpg on my flat bed scanner before emailing it to some specialist laboratory who would do very very accurate colour matching against a wide variety of diseases.

So there are plenty of options available without resorting to disagreeable toilets that don't flush.

I scrubbed round the bowl anyway - it didn't seem worth arguing. As I did so, I recalled that the hotel staff hadn't folded the end of the toilet roll into a little triangle shape.

Italian hoteliers know service, but they do not know luxury.

Friday, March 18, 2005

We have neither a Starbucks nor a Pizza Hut in the village, so I was tremendously excited about travelling to the home of good coffee and Italian food.

Rome (or Roma, as we bilingualists call it) is a wonderful place to be in the spring. The city is buzzy and vibrant, and there is not as much dog shit as there is in, say, Paris. I meandered the streets happily whilst the LTLP attended her Important Scientific Conference.

There are lots of people who say that the British are a bit hung up about their Empire - well, I say we don't go on about it half as much as the Romans do. Everywhere you go there are notices and inscriptions and buildings with spotlights pointing towards them. In my opinion they need to get over this before they can build a new Italy that will take its place in modern Europe and hopefully have less boring football.

Incidentally, I noticed that whilst at its peak the Roman Empire covered the whole of Europe south of Hadrian's Wall and up to what's now Germany to the West, and stretched into swathes of North Africa, they never managed to conquer Wales. I don't know if they were too bothered about this, but it must have been annoying when they looked at their maps to see this tiny part of Europe that wasn't theirs.

I loved Rome, but I'm not sure if I could live there. With the redevelopment of King's Lynn town centre continuing apace, we will soon have our own eternal city which will probably be just as good.

Granted, we don't have a Colosseum and that, but I'm sure we can manage a Via Delia Smith and a Piazza Tony Martin.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Well, it is good to be back in the relative civilisation of Norfolk.

I was shocked to open the newspaper to read about the HORRIBLE MURDER in North London.

A man was hacked agonisingly to death by an axe-wielding maniac in a quiet street. Several people witnessed this, but were powerless and helpless to do anything to intervene and save the innocent victim from his horrific doom.

So the facist government's denial of citizens' fundamental rights to carry a weapon has led directly to this man's excruciatingly painful end. It is incidents like this that expose the reality of our nanny society's 'gun control' laws - they lead to blameless victims being hacked to death in the street.

If, however, we were allowed to purchase and carry guns, none of this would have happened. The maniac could have simply shot his victim quietly and painlessly, causing him far less suffering and agonising torment when he died.

Rome is full of police with guns. They also wear sunglasses, which I think is a worrying combination. I think people should be allowed to have guns or sunglasses, but not both, as it makes them feel too macho.

When I've gathered my thoughts tomorrow, I'll tell you all about how exciting the city is.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Yes, I really mean it. It's over. We're through.

We had some good times--a few laughs.

It was good while it lasted.

It's not you, it's me.


Yeah, JonnyB's back. And for who knows what reason, he wants to write in his own damn blog. Which means that our relationship is over, I'm afraid. I had fun here. And now you all have an excellent excuse to come visit me in New York City. I promise I shall feed you donuts and teach you to be terrible drivers.

Or you could just visit my blog here.


P.S. I know that we're through and all, but we can still make out sometimes, right?

I thought so.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


ME: I'm so relieved that they found my student who was missing.

HIM: Well Jill, I had been praying about it. And I go to church every week, so I have a really good relationship with God. So that's probably why.


Monday, March 14, 2005

This is rather confusing to update you all on, but I'll try.

One of my students has been missing for over five weeks. safe.html

I just got word that they found her and she's safe.

So I'm taking the night off from writing and spending it being happy and grateful. I shall be back tomorrow.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I worked for a lawyer today.

This is not surprising since approximately everyone seems to be a lawyer now.

I believe that lawyering is currently America's national occupation. You might think that it's eating donuts or attacking other countries, but really those are just hobbies for us. Suing people is where the real money is.

And I guess, as lawyers go, he's a pretty good lawyer. He seems to yell at people just enough and know exactly the right time to yell an obscenity.

I told him as much.

My observation: When you compliment a normal person, they think you're nice. But when you compliment a lawyer, they think you're smart.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I got serenaded at the gas station today. For realsies.

I pumped gas.

He pumped gas.

I smiled.

He smiled.

He broke out into a rousing rendition of, "When a Man Loves a Woman."

I pumped gas.

He finished singing.

I went home.

All in all, a strange day.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Writing comedy is hard.

For me it's hard, at least. Probably for people like JonnyB it's brilliantly easy. I bet that joke ideas come to JonnyB as if by magic. I think that fairies probably bring them down to him in little joke-sized cases, complete with glitter and sparkles and the sound of bells.

But for me it's hard.

There are no fairies with joke-sized cases in my comedy-writing life. No glitter, no sparkles, no sound of bells.

Instead, I have a notebook. A Blue Notebook. And anybody that thinks that a Blue Notebook is a fair trade for glitter and bells should be punched in the head and forced to drink hair tonic.

And in this Blue Notebook, I write joke ideas. Things that, for the 37 seconds it takes to write them down, seem like PURE GENIUS.

These joke ideas are not PURE GENIUS. For, you see, once I get through my 37-second delusional period, the vast majority of these ideas will never, ever seem funny again. They shall never make it into my comedy routine and the Blue Notebook shall be their home for life.

Tonight, my friends (or JonnyB's friends, to be more exact,) I give you bits and pieces of comedy that didn't make the cut. Joke out-takes per se.

These are actual sentences pulled directly from the Blue Notebook:

On catch and release fishing:
"Oh, never mind the giant hook you stuck in my neck. I'm just glad you're havin' a good time."

On why we eat beef:
"Cows? They have six stomachs, for the love of God. If you met a woman with six stomachs, you'd kill and eat her too."

On commercials that irritate me:
"Raisin Bran needs to stop bragging about how many raisins they have in their cereal. They're called Raisin Bran; we expect them to have raisins. Now if they advertised, 'Raisin Bran, now with two scoops of cocaine,' that would be a commercial worth airing."

On video games:
"Some murderers have recently claimed that constantly playing violent video games motivated them to kill people. I, on the other hand, have watched the Food Network for hours on end and have never once been motivated to cook anything other than Top Ramen and Pop Tarts. I guess some people are more easily motivated than others."

On cannibalism
"If I was a cannibal, I'd definitely eat Roseanne Barr before I'd eat Rudy from the Cosby Show. That's just the way it is."

Since I write about ten Nearly-Jokes for every Real-Life-Joke, I have rather a full Blue Notebook. Doesn't seem like the most efficient way of writing, really. But, I can't really think of a better way.

Well, until the fairies come.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

If blogsitting is anything like babysitting, then I'm a little fearful that I'll be the kind of irresponsible sitter who has a drunken party in the house while the parents are away.

A drunken party where someone will, assuredly, urinate off the balcony and vomit in the fishbowl.

And the parents will come back after a long, hard night of having cocktails with their friends and laughing about how their once-hot friend Lois got really fat and all the botox in the world won't cover it up.

These, the very parents who diligently checked my references and made sure that I was not a crack-user or a prostitute or a unicyclist or anything weird like that.

And they will see their house in shambles. They will see urine on the balcony. They will see vomit in the fishbowl. They will see an EXTREMELY unhappy fish. And they will say to themselves, "Why did we ever let HER babysit?"

This is what I fear.

Hi, I'm Jill. I'll be your blogsitter for the week. Thank you to JonnyB for the kind introduction. Please try not to throw up in the fishbowl. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I pack my suitcase!!!

I am off to attend an Important Scientific Conference overseas!!!

Well actually it is the LTLP who is going to the conference, but I will be accompanying her to the functions in the evening, including the Gala Dinner. This is reassuring for her. It is a bit like when the Queen goes away abroad, she has the rock solid support of the Duke of Edinburgh beside her, always knowing the appropriate thing to say etc.

Already I am a bit intimidated as I have had to pack a shirt and tie for the dinner, as I do not possess a white lab coat. But I am interested in hearing what the scientists' latest ideas and theories are, especially on whether we can expect any good to come out of the new series of Dr. Who.

I will also get some time on my own to potter around the city. I have been to Rome before, and what I remember is not to bother to go out on Sunday, as the whole city is shut for religious reasons. Fortunately, there is nothing at all likely to happen in Rome over the next few days that would cause shops, tourist attractions etc to close their doors and the city not to be a fun place.

Looking after the blog in my absence will be very funny American comedian Jill Twiss.

She is a writer and stand-up, and well worth catching live if you can. You can get a flight from Heathrow to New York really cheap these days, and the places she performs are just a cab ride from the airport there, so you could be back in the UK before you get shot or catch obesity.

I'm very pleased she agreed to blog-sit. Please make her welcome.

Plus the BBC is now banned from bidding for expensive foreign imports, so I got her on the cheap.

See you in a week or so.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Friday brought the official opening ceremony of the pub next door.

(I should recap for new readers - my next-door neighbour, Short Tony, has converted his dining room into a pub).

(I should elaborate on that. It's not really a pub as such. It's a dining room with a couple of pub-like trappings, like a dartboard and some 'toilets' and 'opening hours' notices. As a pub, it's a bit like when you're a kid and get a Batman costume - it makes you look like a kid dressed up as Batman rather than literally turning you into Adam West, the caped crusader. But it's fun, and you can play at being Batman, especially if your dad's got a black car.)

Big A turned up with a sign he'd got made up. 'The Short Man - Free House' it read. The image showed a 'Usual Suspects' style lineup image, with our heads superimposed on the three male models that had posed for the original picture he'd nicked it from.

My head had been done too large in proportion to the body. I was cross about this as it spoilt the sign completely, but I didn't like to ask him to redo it or to point out that it made him look foolish as actually I have quite a normal-sized head.

It is very handy having a pub next door, but I felt a pang of guilt as I popped in to the real Village Pub for a pint. I haven't been in there for ages, mainly due to illness, and they have definitely missed me, as they have moved my usual stool.

I made a resolution to go in there more often, for the sake of the community. I must use it or lose it.

Even though the Short Man offers me free drink, darts and bags of peanuts that when you pull them off the rack gradually reveal a scantily clad lady.

Friday, March 04, 2005

"You have got your keys, haven't you?"

"Oh yes."

"I mean, you have definitely, definitely, honestly, totally got your keys?"


"Show me your keys?"

[rattle rattle, search search] - "Here."

I don't know what sixth sense tells me that the LTLP will have a problem with her keys. In truth, I am a bit cross. If I am to go home to bed early (midnight) because I don't feel well, it would seem reasonable for everybody else to stop enjoying themselves as well.

In Victorian times she would legally have had to follow me home, as she would have been my property. Then I could beat her with a big stick (not bigger than the width of my thumb, that would have been illegal and cruel). But no more. Truly my rights and liberties of hundreds of years have been steadily eroded away.

"Another whisky?" I hear drunk Short Tony offer as I leave the house. In Victorian times I would have been able to slap him round the face with a black glove and challenge him to a duel with muskets for staying up with my LTLP whilst I had a bad cold.

But I don't pursue the matter, and stomp home to bed.

It is 2.30am when the constant doorbell ringing wakes me up. I go to the door in my pants and slippers, very cross indeed.

The LTLP staggers in, like a character Hogarth would have airbrushed out for being too likely to frighten the children.

I stand at the door shivering, the snow blowing in on me. "Come out," I order.

Short Tony appears from behind the coal bunker, looking furtive. He clearly is thinking hard about what to say. Then he comes out with it - a phrase that haunts me in its indecipherable mysteriousness.

"Angus Deayton!!!" he cries in anguish. "ANGUS DEAYTON!!!".

And he runs off into the night.

I boggle at him as he disappears into the snow. In Victorian times I would have been able to get him LOCKED UP in a FUCKING LOONY BIN for this. I am always very careful in my secret diary to be respectful and nice to the people who I share the village with. But he is barking mad and a mentalist.

I sigh, and fetch the LTLP a bucket.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I go to London.

Over the course of the morning my headache, which had started out in the 'annoying, nagging' category, progresses through 'really quite painful' and into the realms of 'extreme agony'.

This, coupled with streaming sinuses, bulging stinging eyes and an interminably boring meeting serves to make me feel very sorry for myself indeed. A six minute wait for the underground train tops it off, and I slouch in the corner of the carriage, certain that I am at the lowest ebb that I could ever be at, ever.

A man gets on and starts playing the ukulele.

Yangtangatangatang yangtangatang "Oooh I would 'ave given' you alllll that you want..." he croons, launching into a sixties classic. "Next station Barbican! And welcome to 'sing song on the Met Line'".

I am flabbergasted. Not content with maintaining that all Jewish people are literally exactly the same as Nazi concentration camp guards, Ken Livingstone is now spending taxpayers' money on singing and ukulele playing station announcers. Truly there is no end to the man's looniness.

Briefly I consider throwing myself under the train, until I realise that it would be more sensible to throw him.

For some reason, somebody has seen fit to move King's Cross station several minutes further down the line than it usually is, and I am still there as he finishes the performance and walks round with a large hat.

I give him a pound.

Well - he did make me smile.