Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We visit a pram shop.

I realise that this introduction is perhaps not the best way to draw people in, being of equivalent interest to TV's 'And now, starring Ross Kemp...'

I immediately find myself in enemy territory. There are prams everywhere. Couples browse hand in hand, cooing at each other in a lovey fashion, and I realise with a start that they are exactly like the people in catalogues. It is sinister. I am assuming that they are all models, and when a real customer walks in, they scurry out from the room at the back and take their positions in a catalogue-like manner.

"Do you need any help?" asks Lisa, the Pram Shop Assistant.

Clearly we need help. However, it is a point of honour that whenever I am in any form of shop, if the assistant comes over and asks if I need help, the reply is "I'm fine, thanks."

"Yes, I think we need lots of help," replies the LTLP. She has no dignity.

I don't know when it was that prams became so complicated. Certainly when I was a child, they were very simple affairs, just a box sort of thing on wheels. The one I travelled in didn't even have any brakes, and kept hurtling down the steep hill into the river, or that is what my mother said to the policemen when they brought me back. Anyway, it was basic. The Wartburg Knight of the baby transportation world.

But babies today seem to want to travel in unparalleled luxury. It is why we have so much anti social behaviour and thugdom, they are spoilt from the word 'go'. Frankly, if I'd have been a few feet shorter, I would have climbed into one myself and the LTLP could have wheeled me round the rest of the shopping centre. It would have been good practice for her.

I am torn at the moment between one which converts into about 129347 other things in a Bond-like fashion, or one of the three wheeled ones. The latter do strike me as a bit like having a Range Rover for the school run, but it would be very practical on the sort of terrain that we would be encountering around the village. Plus you could do bash-ups in it.

In fact it is very noticeable in the catalogue - the traditional prams and push chairs are all illustrated showing an unfeasibly pert and pretty young mum lugging them around, whereas the three-wheelers all feature pictures of dad. They are clever.

Two hours later, we leave the pram shop. This is a new world for me, and I'm not sure that I feel at home.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"What's the matter?" I asked the Well-Spoken Barman.

Normally a smiley sort of fellow, his face betrayed the disappointment and chagrin of a man who had won the popular ITV television show 'Blind Date', only to find himself jetting off to a Stereophonics concert accompanied by Gerald Kaufman.

He explained that he had sent Phil the Kitchenhand off into King's Lynn to have his car MOT'd. (For overseas readers, an MOT is a sort of certificate drivers get annually to measure how well they get on with their mechanics).

"They didn't just fail it," he mourned. "They wouldn't give him the bloody keys back. Said it was a deathtrap and that they couldn't take that responsibility."

I marvelled at this unusual devotion to duty by the garage mechanic people.

"So anyway, in the end they agreed to tow it to his place and leave it in front of his house," he continued. "And he rung me up to tell me the news, which I was pissed off about, as you can imagine. But then he rang back an hour later to tell me that he'd just gone outside and it had actually been stolen."

"Result!" I said in a cheerful voice. "So instead of paying for it to be towed away, you get some insurance money."

"Not really," he replied. "I got another call an hour later to say that he'd looked outside again and the thief had brought the fucking thing back."

I commiserated with his situation. They should at least have had the courtesy to set it on fire or something. I took my pint from the bar in sympathy, and wandered off to watch the cricket.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Can we have another cloth, please!!!"

The Chipper Barman throws a wettish rag in our direction, knowing full well that Big A has spilt his pint again.

"And another pint of ASBO, I guess."

I have never known anybody that spills as many pints as he does. He drops them, knocks them with his elbow, sends them flying with wild hand gesticulations or puts them down and misses the table. I point this out in a reasonable yet exasperated fashion, as I sit there like Paul McCartney's son-in-law at the climax of a dirty weekend in a North Wales caravan park, dripping in Stella.

Idly, I wonder whether I can get some form of laboured and contrived joke out of this.

I leave my lager-sodden chair and have a quick chat to a couple of the other quiz teams. I sympathise with the lot who came second place to us, as it is important to show magnanimity in victory. The pathetic losers. I talk them through exactly which questions that we got right that they got wrong, as it is important that they learn for next time.

There are more good-natured comments about the fact that we have won it again and should be banned, etc. I take these in the spirit in which they are intended.

We leave the bar just after closing time. I am singing the song 'We Are The Champions' by the pop group Queen. The LTLP tells me not to be such an idiot.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mercy dash.

Throwing on my shoes, leaping into the car, screeching left out of the gate towards the edge of the village. The splotlets of rain against the windscreen as I speed up past the small church and green lane, past a surprised flock of sheep, hitting the derestricted zone on the hills and pressing the throttle to the floor. All the time, worry about the pregnant LTLP gnawing away at my mind.


Would my dinner still be ready on my return from the emergency bowls call-out?

I whipped the car to a Bo Duke-like halt outside the pub (but exiting properly, via the door) and sprinted up the drive to the green. Cries of 'thank God you're here!' greeted me from my depleted team, an absolute first in my bowling experience or, indeed, in any walk of life whatsoever.

"You're with the ladies tonight," called the team captain, indicating rink number five. Four ends had already been played, and we appeared to be losing by 238942342 points to 0. More cries. "Young man!!! Young man!!!"

A quick conflab. One lady admitted that she neither confident nor very good, the other revealed that she couldn't actually get the wood as far as the other end of the green.

"You'll have to be skipper," she decided.

Skipper!!! They made me skipper!!! Pride shone from every pore as I strode up the green to take my place. Skipper in bowls is a v. important job, as it involves shouting instructions to the rest of your team - where you want them to aim for, what to hit etc. Then you have your go last, which is fun because there are loads of things you can hit.

By the 21st end I was hoarse but elated. And we had brought the score back to 238942342 points to 8.

We shook hands and I explained that I could not go for a beer, as I was waiting for my dinner to be cooked for me and it would be unfair on the LTLP to hang around.

I was dead chuffed as I gently drove home. I had saved the day, like some bowls superhero.

I should have a big 'B' on my chest. The LTLP agreed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"If you do that - then I quit."

I raised myself up to my full height. (Quite high).

The words sounded really good as they came out of my mouth. I was quite impressed with my forcefulness. I am not generally somebody who is particularly dominant (outside the bedroom) (and even then not with clients in suits). I could see that they were impressed.

There was a bit of a silence, before somebody pointed out that I had already agreed to leave by mutual consent. My sails were momentarily de-winded.

I have very rarely resigned from a job. It is a bit like ending a relationship with a young lady - not a pleasant thing to have to do. Obviously, being a man, the tactic is to start to lose outward interest, become a bit aloof and unapproachable and generally behave badly - that way you can get dumped before you have to do any dumping, thus avoiding having to take any emotional responsibility for your actions.

So this was a big deal for me. It didn't make it easier that this particular organisation was unlikely to get another decent boyfriend, being the equivalent of a needy, whining, selfish, septuagenarian, drug addict, post-op Jono Coleman.

But I was pleased with my stand. Not many people are courageous enough to dramatically quit during their notice period, whilst still honourably working their pre-agreed and legally binding period of notice out.

I felt that I had dealt a blow for my dignity.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The 'Save the Post Office' video has been released!!!

You can view it here.

With your help it can get into the top ten on MTV, I would imagine. Then the Post Office will be saved and it will be your doing.

It's a 1mb file - you'll need either broadband or patience.

It was produced and directed by Eclectech. In fact, she did everything. She is wonderful. Click on the 'animations' link on the right to see her other stuff - I can particularly recommend Gilbert & Sullivan and Kilroy. And the other ones.

Enjoy your weekends, all of you,

JonnyB and MC Mr Mitt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My DVDs have arrived!!!

Regular readers will know that I have a new friend, Clint, the American movie executive. That will teach Short Tony to go on holiday for several weeks.

"Here you go," offers the Post Lady. "Is this for you?"

"That's right," I say importantly, noting the customs declaration thing on the front that tells people that I have glamorous overseas contacts. I am a bit disappointed in that it is a plain brown padded envelope and not one of the big gold ones that they normally use in Hollywood.

I sign my name with a flourish.

The Post Lady goes away, to tell all her friends that I have had a parcel from Hollywood (in contravention of her secret employment contract, although I would not report her to the authorities), and I stand at the door, proudly.

As she leaves, I feel a small pang of guilt.

I may be receiving gifts from fat cat Hollywood moguls, but she is not. What right do I have to sign my name with a flourish? As you may know, there are plans to close about a million Post Offices in the UK and although my post office is not particularly threatened, sooner or later she will lose her job and have to sign on or work in a call centre.

I hold my movie in my hand and hang my head. I did release my Post Office closure protest song, but it did not get to number one and thus there was little awareness raised of this issue that might or might not happen.

If only I could do something else. Something that would really raise the profile of the 'Don't Close the Post Office' campaign.

I rack my brain to think of something, as I stand at the door, holding my movie in my hand.

Monday, August 15, 2005

There is a ring on the doorbell!!!

I am all excited, but it is only the pregnant LTLP who is interrupting my television-watching. She puts down two bags of heavy shopping and returns to the car.

I watch with concern as she bends down to get more heavy bags from the boot, and I hurry to help.

"I really don't think you should be bending down and lifting things like that in your condition," I warn her. "Next time, why don't you take the other car? The boot is more accessible."

She gives me a Look. I feel the skin on my face starting to blister under the assault of the eye molecules.

"I would have gone, next week, I promise," I promise.

The fact is, that my household chores have taken a bit of a back seat recently, what with the tits-upness of the current thing that I am working on. Doing more than one thing in the day (eg doing some work and also going shopping) is not something that males are very good at doing due to genetic reasons going back to needing a bit of a rest after hunting a woolly mammoth. I know I will need to buck my ideas up. I am quite a new man as regular readers know, and do cooking and ironing etc, but in a few months there will be lots of work with nappies etc and I really want to give her a hand with this.

I unload the rest of the bags and leave them on the top of the work surface so it is easier for her to put everything away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I go to London.

This has become a bit of a regular occurrence for me recently, and is disrupting my life greatly. It means I need to get a train at about 8.30 in the morning in order to see people for a meeting, then return in the afternoon with all the tourists. Honestly, if you all had to work as hard as I did then you would appreciate your idle lives more.

My train has been renamed 'The Cambridge Cruiser'. Aside from my doubts about using any form of transport that sounds like a minor serial sex offender, the small fact that it ends up in King's Lynn rather than Cambridge seems to have passed the railway marketing people by.

But presumably the 'King's Lynn Lunger' had too many characters for the departure board.

Working in railway marketing must be an unrewarding job. Years ago you could put up beautiful big posters 'Scarborough!!! By LNER!!!' and everybody would have got very excited about these new travel opportunities opening up to the working classes. A few years later and you would have got to meet Jimmy Saville. But now? 'The Cambridge Cruiser' smacks of a sad desperation to come up with something - anything - to put in the 'achievements' section of your quarterly appraisal.

This constant commercial travelling is becoming a bit of a burden for me, as it means I have been spending less time in the village, where lots of things happen that I can document for history. Normal service will, I promise, be resumed at some point.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I receive an email from Hollywood!!!

This is clearly very exciting for a bloke from a small Norfolk village like me, even one with a widely-read (internationally) Internet Web Log. It is from a man called Clint, which proves he is in Hollywood.

I reply very politely, as he might be able to finally get the film of JonnyB's Private Secret Diary made, starring Brad Pitt and Kirstie Allsopp. Although I do not mention that I am using him for his industry contacts, as we are not at that stage of our relationship yet.

We discuss business and it transpires that he wants me to write reviews of comedy DVDs on here. This seems like an interesting proposition. As somebody who was recently touchingly described as an ex-failed comedy writer, I should be quite good at this. And it might be interesting for the readers, for when I run out of other things to say. Plus he will send me lots of free DVDs.

However, I am careful to let him know the ground rules.

I have nothing but contempt for those who bandy around the word 'sell out'. You know - those people with nice jobs in accountancy who want their favourite band to be living off dog food in a damp squat and will scream in outrage if they sell a track to a Japanese TV commercial. But I need to be careful. One minute I'm writing about a comedy DVD, the next I'm creating a musical set in a cliched dystopian future and based on the music of Queen.

Plus he will send me lots of free DVDs.

I remind him that I have - shall we say - a particular style, and that anything I do will be in it and will need to flow naturally etc etc blah blah (plus he will send me lots of free DVDs). But the main thing I tell him is this: "If they suck, I'll say they suck."

(See how I politely use the American vernacular in order to make him feel at home.)

I do not need to tell him that, of course, it will be funnier if they do suck. But I am, and always will be, an honest writer. I would not pretend that they sucked for the sake of a cheap laugh. I will just have to hope he sends me 'School of Rock'.

I picture his overweight form stretching back in his executive chair and puffing on his cigar as he considers my conditions. Actually, it is probably his PA who is sending me the emails, whilst he gets reimbursement on the couch from a not-particularly good actress whose move into Hollywood movies was previously inexplicable. (Note to Keira Knightly's lawyers - I am not talking about anybody in particular, you are just making assumptions). We agree.

I ask him if he promotes cars and expensive Caribbean holidays as well.

He doesn't.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Little white maggots!!! Crawling around my larder, over the jars, around the tops of the bottles!!!

Actually, they might be tiny little flies. They're so small - perhaps half a millimetre long - that you can't really tell what they are. They could be very tiny little cattle for all I know.

I don't know why they have targeted my particular larder. Perhaps they specifically like the organic food that I buy more than other people's chemically treated stuff. I thought I had eliminated them by spraying loads of flyspray all over it, but they have risen from the dead, like maggot Tony Christies.

I am not sure what to do. I can peacefully coexist with rabbits, and the mole - whilst annoying - wasn't the end of the world. The wood mice in the shed fall firmly into the 'ooh aren't they cute' category, the pheasants and pigeons are both harmless and potential food. The shrew hasn't been seen for some time, but has an amusing and intrinsically funny name, the hedgehogs keep themselves to themselves, the annoying Ben Elton squeaky thing hasn't been heard for a while and even Short Tony's remaining dog only comes across for a shit very occasionally, which gets cleared up with a shamefaced air.

At least they are country maggots. If I'd have had them whilst living in a flat in London I'd have been vaguely freaked out, as clearly they'd have carried all sorts of diseases. Whereas here they seem somehow cleaner and more natural. Unless they are little cattle, of course, in which case they would be extremely unnatural, but handy for the milk.

My plan at the moment is to use existentialist particle physics against them. As I understand it, according to Schrodinger, who was a very renowned scientist before the RSPCA prosecuted him, the maggots only exist when I turn the light on and look at them. Therefore, I try not to do this as much as possible, using the theory that all the blinking in and out of existence will cause some form of breakdown in their cell walls.

Note that this is properly scientific and not just 'hoping that they will go away'.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I am a bit up against it at the moment, so will not be writing anything today.

It's a bit like how pop musician Noel Gallagher take ages between recording his Oasis records - if you are an artiste you refuse to compromise on quality by bashing out tired and formulaic material to order. The difference between us is that he gets paid millions for what he does and I do this for free. Plus he has bigger eyebrows and speaks in a silly voice.

Plus I do not have a Lennon/McCartney fixation. Even if I do have a piano and a guitar, and sometimes I sit on the floor and meditate wearing silly round glasses and when we go to bed I get the LTLP to pretend that she only has one leg.

Back tomorrow. Probably.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"So, how do you feel about it?" I asked Short Tony.

His hard man exterior slipped very slightly, and I could see that he was in two minds.

The dog's demise (note - at the vets, all official-like) had been an inevitability for some time. Selflessly, the dog herself had tried her best to make the decision easier by hobbling around with a limp, constantly shitting on the floor, and generally being unpleasant and unhygienic to be around. Now, having reached the point where the cess-pit emptying man was finding visiting the house unsavoury, a decision had been made.

"I'm sorry you're having to have the dog exterminated," I said, sympathetically.

I had brought round some champagne to make him feel better. We quaffed it, thoughtfully.

"It's the idea of the injection," he said. "I never liked injections. Have you ever had a dream when somebody is sneaking up on you to give you a lethal injection?"

I replied that I hadn't, as I only ever dream about having a spaceship.

"Perhaps they've got some form of electric chair that they could use instead?" I mused. "With metal things to put on its head, an' all."

He agreed that he'd be happier with that arrangement.

Mrs Short Tony chided him for being foolish. And she was right. It was for the best, given its quality of life. Keeping this particular dog alive would have been roundly condemned by the RSPCA and, quite possibly in this case, Amnesty International.

We were solemn for a bit.

"Stop all the clocks," I murmured, reciting the moving poem from the film 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' (funeral bit). "Cut off the telephone."

I tailed off after that.

That was last week.

It all went OK. Short Tony is fine. I went round there. There is an empty space in the kitchen that was previously occupied by a rancid hairy clump of dog. It was sad.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I stared like a deer caught in the headlights.

"And we were wondering if you two wanted to come along as well?" asked Mrs Short Tony.

"Errrr... ummm... hummmm.... ahhhh..." I stalled. "What, actually to the cinema?"

"Jonny never wants to go out these days," complained the LTLP.

I was stung by the unfairness of this. "I've never wanted to go out," I protested. "I only pretended when we were first going out, in order to get you into bed."

A short embarrassed pause later, and we had agreed to go and see 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' at the local picture house.

I quite like films, but I don't like going to the cinema, although I perk up when I get there. The Evil Hollywood Studios have used their sinister liberalism to brainwash whole generations of people that 'going to the cinema' is an exciting and fun evening out in itself, whatever movie is playing. Whereas I, having learnt a lot about corporate manipulation from my all time hero, Blake in the first episode of 'Blake's Seven' - The Way Back - am strong enough to fight this. Buying overpriced soft drinks and watching adverts does not add to the experience of seeing a movie.

Plus, as Short Tony pointed out, there was no guarantee that we wouldn't turn up to Fakenham to find that the film that had just reached these parts was the Gene Wilder version.

We waited in the queue whilst the cinema staff put fresh sticky stuff down on the floor of the theatre, and I surveyed my surroundings. We appeared to have gatecrashed some form of school trip - aside from the odd harassed mother, I was twice the height of everybody there except the LTLP and Mrs Short Tony.

An over-quoted man once said that 'half of my advertising budget is wasted - the trouble is, I don't know which half!' which was stupid and smug. After the ninth car commercial that preceded the movie, I decided that I should write to him to explain what the audience for PG films tends to be, and how I had quite a good idea of the half that he was talking about. Then there was an advert for coco pops, which was more appropriate but I prefer the original tune.

The movie started, and I have to say that I quite enjoyed watching the little brats get their comeuppance due to their greed and gluttony. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear much of the dialogue due to the cacophony of rustling, munching, chewing and slurping that was echoing round the room.

It was quite a good film, although if the Bucket family was really so poor then I think Helena Bonham Carter could have easily worked out a way of earning them more money, if she were not such a prude.

I would definitely advise my readers to watch it when it comes on to the television.