Thursday, June 30, 2005

"It is just for one pint," I insisted.

She stared at me in suspicion, like an old lady who'd wandered into a Bjork concert.

"Promise," I promised.

I disappeared off down the drive. Moments later, I poked my head back through the open window. "Short Tony's going as well," I revealed. "Is it still OK to go?"

She acquiesced with a grudging nod, and continued making conversation with my visiting in-laws.

Some time later, I returned from the pub, having provisionally agreed to buy a third share in an Aberdeen Angus cow from a friend of a man who was sitting at the bar.

Why do I do it??? Why??? Why???

At least I agreed to negotiate in pounds sterling rather than my precious secret magic beans that are hidden away for a rainy day.

I do not need a cow. In fact, the only thing I can think of that I need less than a cow is a third of a cow.

I think the idea was to develop it into steaks, joints, beefburgers etc later in the year. I have half a drawer available in the freezer. I will need to eat a lot before there is enough room for even a third of a small cow, and even then I will not be able to enjoy it with frozen peas, ice cream etc.

I know where it grazes. I will visit it at some point and say hello. Although I did not sign anything and I do not have a cow license.

I could yet get out of this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Thunder and lightning!!!

Lighting up the bedroom in an apocalyptic fashion!!!

I open one eye, take in what's happening and leap over to the window faster than Jimmy Carr's agent en route to the 'Countdown' offices.

On the other side of the road, the trees around the church light up. Not momentarily, as is normally the case with our pathetic English weather, but for seconds at a time in a constant barrage of electricity. It's less like a real storm than something out of the Dr Who special effects department.

No rubber monsters appear, which is reassuring, but I keep an eye out, just in case. An alien invasion would be exciting, but with my luck I'd get McCoy and Langford rather than Baker and Jameson.

More lightning, right overhead, swamping the road in brilliant blue-white light. As happens so often, I thank the Lord that I am not making my way to a fancy dress party where the dress code is tall metal hats.

There's something particularly cosy about being inside whilst a storm is raging. The walls here are around eighteen inches thick, which I know doesn't make a lot of scientific difference to thunder and lightning, but it feels safe and warm.

I always think about how terrified the ancient primitive men must have been in a situation like this. With no knowledge of the meteorological basis of the phenomenon, they must have thought the world was going to end. And nobody was around not to warn them not to wear tall metal hats.

Then the storm would pass, and they would go back to their primitive lives, chasing rabbits and impregnating their womenfolk.

We are more sophisticated now, of course, and the only thing that really scares me is Comments (0) and the thought that people watch 'Top Gear'.

The weather shows no sign of abating, and it's round the back now as well, across the fields of the estate. Water pours from the guttering and drum, drum, drums on the sills.

I belatedly close the window in the spare bedroom and make for the safety of the duvet.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Update on the Post Office Campaign.

Thank you everybody who lent their support to my campaign to save the Village Post Office, which may or may not be threatened with closure at some point in the future.

I have to say that I was a bit taken aback by the response. Although I know a couple of people did complain that I didn't include any genuine postal workers on the single and was thus being patronising and imperialist, it seems to have raised sackloads of awareness and that is the main thing.

The record has yet to get to number one, but that is only a matter of time.

I did think that the support from Africa was the most beautifully apt and funny thing that could happen. And several other people chipped in cheerfully. Thank you.

Then I received an email from Hungary.

Simon, at Amstelladagain, sent me a photograph.

He has MOWN 'Save the Post Office' in huge great capital letters into his lawn. In Hungary. So that it can be seen from the air, as you fly across in a helicopter.

The photo's not great, because he's only leaning out of a first floor window. You can only really read it from the air. As you fly over Hungary in a helicopter.

This is, without doubt, the most barking mad thing that has ever happened on the Internet, ever.

Free Image Hosting at


UPDATE!!! If you are trying to post a comment but cannot post a comment, it is not me that has banned you!!!

Oh no.

It is Haloscan, which is normally so good, not being so good.

I have not banned you, no I would not do such a thing. I feel your pain.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I went to an Important Meeting.

One of the only difficulties about living in a small Norfolk village is that most of the people with whom (grammar) I need to have Important Meetings are based in London. This entails a reasonably long travel for me.

It's kind of important that I arrive at these things in a fresh and bullish state of mind. That I appear professional and composed. In control.

Thursday's severe heat and humidity conspired against this. Unfortunately, so did my 'grab a quick haircut first' mistake.

Thus it was that I staggered in from the heat to meet my client, smelling of sweat and B.O., and with an almost perfectly circular area of bare skin within my right sideburn, as if somebody had precisely utilised a hole punch on the side of my head.

I shook myself, had a drink of water, and tried to get back on to the front foot, but almost immediately realised that the chair I'd been allocated was directly to the left of that of my Important Client, and thus he'd be immediately looking at my hair disaster. Luckily, I found I could sit at a sort of ninety degree angle to him, and turn my head further. So as we spoke I peered at him from the corner of my eye.

At this point I realised I needed a poo.

I sort of jiggled around in my chair a bit, which sometimes helps, and it seemed to hold it for a while, but then the feeling came back and I had to jiggle again.

I sat there, jiggling in my seat, peering at him out of the corner of my eye, sweating profusely. He continued talking.

At this point I got my first stroke of luck. His phone rang.

"Do you mind if I get that?" he asked.

"Not at all," I generously replied. "I'll just pay a visit while you take the call."

I exited to the gents toilet, which was simmering at about 10000 degrees Fahrenheit. So hot, in fact, that the lights appeared to have given up working. There was no window. I flicked the switch on and off in despair. I wiggled the light bulb. Then I looked at the angle for wedging the door open very slightly, but the toilet opened out directly onto a corridor, and I didn't fancy somebody else walking in and displaying me to all concerned.

My redemption arrived with a closer examination of the room - there was a shaving light!!! I pulled the cord, and an eerie dim glow filled the small room. Mopping my brow, I mounted the porcelain.

There is probably a biological reason why, no matter how desperate one is to do a poo, one always has to have a wee wee first. I had my wee wee. But thank you - thank you - to the God of Biological Oddities, as it was during this first (pre-poo) procedure that I realised that there was no toilet paper.

I checked myself just in time.

There's a certain level of despair that takes hold of one at moments like these. It incorporates so many emotions - hopelessness, helplessness and humiliation, but also the humour of the 'this is so bad it's funny' variety, stemming from the knowledge that there is no bigger comedy cliché than not having toilet roll when you desperately, desperately want it.

I checked under the bowl, behind the pipes. On the windowsill. I scrabbled around in the corners, and in a little alcove above my head. In the dark. Nothing. Nothing at all.

So I pulled up my trousers and returned to the meeting.

And this was it.

I was fully prepared to walk in, cough politely, mention that there was no toilet roll and ask if I could have some as I wished to use the toilet.

However, as I opened my mouth to speak, it dawned on me. With all the faffing around in the dark, I'd been a while. They'd been waiting for me to return. I had not just left the room. They would think that I had already performed my motion, and had been forced to abandon wiping my bottom in order to come and beg them for toilet paper.

And that was the last piece of dignity I had left. There, sweating, flustered and shaking, with a bare patch in my hair, clenching my buttocks, at least I had one thing left. That they did not think I was standing there before them in shit-encrusted underpants.

I couldn't do anything else. I kept my mouth shut.

"Shall we continue?" he asked.

We continued. I jiggled, and peered from the corner of my eye.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Recap: Closing time.

The evening before the hangover/Monday's post debacle.

Sat there. One last drink.

Me. Short Tony. Contented after a few pints taken in a celebratory mood.

The Unfeasibly Tall Kitchen Manager. The Foxy Barlady. Unwinding with a cigarette after a hectic evening.

I perched on my barstool, passively smoking. I like passive smoking - it is so much cheaper, and you don't need to feel self-conscious about holding it in a masculine way.

"What's the occasion then?" asked the Unfeasibly Tall Kitchen Manager, having missed the news.

"Jonny's going to be a father," replied the Foxy Barlady. She kept her eyes steady, but I could tell that welling up inside her was an unstoppable torrent of grief and torment drawn from a bottomless pond of regret that the LTLP had got in with me first. She had encountered me at the wrong time in her life and, deep in her Foxy Barlady consciousness, she had to accept that it was now never going to happen between us.

It was a subtle welling, almost indiscernible.

Perhaps she will break down into insanity and chop up all the kitchen staff in a massacre of jealous rage before using the mezzaluna on herself. I will feel a bit responsible for this, but it will only be moral responsibility and not legal, so I will be OK with the police, don't worry.

Unless I have contrived to help her obtain an illegal mezzaluna. Then I'd be stuffed.

I finish my Jack Daniel's and Coke, wondering why I am drinking a Jack Daniel's and Coke.

Short Tony and I stroll back, walking unsteadily down the middle of the road. The night is warm, close and still - no rustling in the leaves. There's the sound of a car passing, far, far in the distance.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I am stung by her insinuation.

"It is not," I inform her, "my responsibility to ensure your husband stays out of trouble."

Mrs Short Tony taps her foot and purses her lips. I am not entirely sure she is convinced.

"Look!" I explain. "We were in the pub. We came home from the pub. I left him there," and I wave my arms in the general direction of the street twenty yards from our front doors, "and came inside to go to bed."

"Well how come then..."

I think back to the night before, and hope that I don't smell too much of sick. My secret cleaner has just left, possibly in disgust at her extra duties that morning. I suspect I still have a little alcohol in my bloodstream as I also seem to have spent an hour or so that morning sitting in the shed clutching the lawnmower.

"I'd got myself a drink of water and went to turn the lights off. And suddenly a big shape loomed up at me from the patio and asked me if I had any more drink and whether I fancied a sing-song."

"But why did you let him in?!"

"Well - I couldn't just leave him out there," I replied. "Plus, I suppose I just fancied a sing-song," I ended lamely.

Mrs Short Tony leaves in disgust. Just before it's too late I remember to thank her for the bacon sandwiches. It's what neighbours are for.

I skulk back inside, once more putting off the need to hose down the patio.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I hobble to the Village Shop!!!

Apparently, calf muscles heal quite quickly. But that should not stop everybody from being sympathetic.

Although I still have to use Big A's crutches to go any distance, by sort of extending my left leg and placing it down slightly in front and slightly to the side of me, without bending it, I am able to sidle round the house. I look a bit like a crab. Or John Cleese auditioning for the biopic of Albert Steptoe, practising the scene where he's gingerly waddling to the bathroom having just shat himself.

The lady in the Village Shop looks at me strangely. Perhaps she has read about my Post Office campaign in the Independent on Sunday. (Note for overseas readers - this was a big boost to its influence and scope, as the IoS is the twenty-second most read national newspaper in the UK.)

I buy my newspaper and hobble to the Post Office. This is a bit out of my way and takes me ages. The bruising on my hands is sore and aching as I edge up the path and duck my head as I walk through the doorway.

The Post Office lady informs me that I am one day early to be able to renew my car tax.

The ingratitude!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I go to the hospital.

The drive there would normally be a pleasant bimble around winding country lanes, but is rendered more alarming by the fact that I can't use the clutch properly and my crutches keep sliding off the passenger seat and interfering with the steering wheel.

(Big A is fortunately disabled and has been able to lend me some equipment on a temporary basis.)

I spend ages finding a parking space before locating the only one available. It is about 1000000 miles from the hospital entrance. As I leave the car, I realise that I need to 'pay and display'. The nearest pay point is about 500000 miles in the other direction. I consider driving to it, but other space-seeking cars are prowling around like wasps, so I set off slowly on the crutches.

By about lunchtime I have reached the machine and paid for a parking ticket. I have a bit of a rest before I contemplate my return. Finally, I inch back towards the car. I see a pair of eyes regarding me hopefully from behind a windscreen. No. I'm not fucking leaving.

Ages later, I have completed the return 500000 miles, like in some extreme cover version of a Proclaimers song for the disabled. I leave the ticket. I have another rest. I inch towards the hospital, which has suddenly become uphill.

After about three hours, I stop to take a rest. My hands are bruised and aching from the crutches. I have clearly put on a lot of weight in the three days since I haven't been able to exercise.

Inching forward again. Inch, inch, inch. The hospital is now 3000000 miles away, due to continental drift. My appointment card has crumbled away into dust. I rest, accidentally putting some weight on my leg. I hop around for a bit and swear.

For somebody as sporty and active as me, it is a cruel fate to find oneself suddenly in such a position. Like people selling Live8 tickets on Ebay, there are some things that one can not possibly forsee happening, and to go from being a fit and dynamic man who plays bowls most weeks (sometimes twice) to being the poor potential subject of a Blue Peter appeal is a hammer blow.

Make the most of your lives, my friends. Do not waste a single precious moment of your youth. 'Tomorrow' may not arrive - there is only 'today' and you must enjoy it while you are able to.

Monday, June 13, 2005

It was clear that I had displeased her.

She looked down on me, and fixed me with blue eyes. Schoolmistresslike. Even - I thought randomly - bigsisterlike.

"Take off your trousers," she said simply.

I did as I was told. She stepped back and studied me from behind her long blonde hair.

"Why," she queried, in some exasperation, "did you not go to Accident and Emergency when you did this...?!?"

I didn't have an answer prepared, so I stammered a bit. "I didn't really like to. That is, I didn't think about it."

She didn't actually say "oh for Christ's sake," but gave me that sort of look.

Not being accustomed to being given that sort of look by a public servant, I drew myself up to my full height. Unfortunately, as I couldn't actually stand up and didn't have any trousers on, this didn't have the sort of effect I was looking to achieve.

Had I been in a Boulting Brothers comedy, I would have said something like "now look here!", but as it was I contented myself with a fairly direct and pointed "yes, I suppose you're right. I don't know what I was thinking of. Sorry." Pleased that I had asserted myself, I sat back and allowed myself to be examined.

"Still. It's not as swollen as I thought it might be," she commented.

Friday, June 10, 2005


"Dear Jeremy Vine

Hullo, my name is JonnyB. I am the leading blogger in rural Norfolk, and I very much like your show. They should let it carry on through the afternoon rather than allowing Steve Wright on.

I am worried that our village Post Office might close at some point. Therefore I have written a song to draw attention to this and to get the issues across to the kids. If you play it on your influential radio show it will probably get to number 1 and the powers that be will not dare to make their move.

Most days next week would be good although probably not Wednesday, as I will be out.

You can download it from

Thank you very much in advance,


PS if you put it on your website to help spread the word then I would prefer it if you put the url on there rather than link directly to the file. Your technical people will tell you why and explain what an url is. Thanks."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

In case you hadn't seen the logo on the right, I'm doing the Big Blogger thing over the next few weeks. Be sure to tune in!!!

We hope to make it funny and interesting. If it just becomes a huge bloggers' mutual love-in then I'm sure you'll let us know, and we'll try harder. There are some great, great writers involved.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

POST 8 Post Office Closure Awareness Charity Fundraiser [Continued from yesterday]

Oddly enough, Norfolk has always had quite a cutting-edge music scene.

It goes back to the war, you see - the county had - and still has - a large number of air bases. American servicemen would bring records over, and new styles of music, and this would be absorbed locally. From country and western, blues, rock and roll to the present day.

If we are to raise awareness of the Village Post Office possibly having to close at some point in the future, we need to tap into this stream of popular culture whilst it is still new and fresh.

There is a new music emerging from the cities of America at the moment, called Rap. It is generally sung by black people and is exploding in popularity amongst youth culture in the British underground music scene.

Meanwhile, new British groups like the 'Streets' are putting our own slant on it, with their lead singer doing proper singing and stuff in the chorus, so it isn't all just shouting and swearing. He uses words that the kids understand, like 'wicked' and 'respect'.

It's this that we will take, and release a charity single in aid of POST 8. I will get sympathetic celebrity musicians to do it, and maybe get some villagers to sing on the chorus like in 'Feed the World' or at the end bit of 'Letter from America'.

They will be able to manage it. I tried rapping myself, in the mirror, and I was very good at it. I was even tempted to jump into the audience and shoot people. I know there are some people who say that 'white men cannot rap' but that is just as stupidly racist as saying 'all Asian people own corner shops' or 'all French people smell of garlic' or 'Israeli policy regarding the Occupied Territories isn't absolutely perfect in every respect'.

I will write the lyrics, which will be hard-hitting yet poignant for a world lost.

It will be great. Or gr8, as the kids would say in their secret language that they think we do not understand.

[Back on Friday]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I have decided to do a big charity thing in aid of the Village Post Office. Tony Blair (Prime Minister) and Adam Crozier (head of the GPO) are looking to close post offices, and whilst they've not actually mentioned the Village one specifically, I feel that it might be in danger.


At some point this week, this journal will reach 100,000 readers, despite my efforts to keep it a secret. That means that 100,000 of you have demanded 'no' to Post Office closures by reading this for free - numbers which the powers-that-be cannot ignore.

But we need something else to make them sit up and take note. Hence POST 8.

Some of you must be record company executives/work for the BBC/Steve Wright googling for himself +"marrow"/are influential journalists. You will be vital in raising awareness.

I know we will be competing in the public mind with Bob Geldof's event, but this is completely different and will have mass appeal, due to the power of the Internet. Plus I do not believe his lineup of Dido, The Swinging Blue Jeans etc is really relevant, and (between ourselves) I think he is actually a bit ignorant and imperialist by not including bands like Boney M, etc.

My first thought was to get famous local recording artist Allan Smethurst the Singing Postman to write a special single. Nobody could be more appropriate. But he is unfortunately dead. So there is another plan.

Continued tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Post Office is in danger!!!

Despite record profits, Mr Blair and his henchman Mr Crozier, who used to be in charge of the football, are pressing ahead with plans to close thousands (possibly millions) of post offices.

This seems very unfair and another instance of how this townie government is totally out of touch with the needs of communities who do not live in Islington.

They say that there is less need for post these days, because a lot of people use up-and-coming technology like email, but there are loads of things that you can't really email, like love letters for instance. Or ransom demands. Or ransom demands that are also love letters.

Although we are lucky enough to have celebrities like Mr Otis Ferry standing up for the real issues that affect us countryside people, I am worried that people will just stand by and let Post Office closures happen. I have started writing a poem about it to raise awareness about the way our institutions are being picked off one by one. It goes (so far, first draft):

First they came for the branch lines, but I did not speak out because it was before I was born and we would have had a car anyway;
Then they came for the Milk Marketing Board, but I did not speak out because 'Milk Marque' seemed a fair enough replacement;
Then they came for Courts furniture shops, but I did not speak out because I thought Brucie would;
Then they came for the Post Offices. The bastards!!!

As I do not wish to cause panic or alarm, I should point out that nobody has said that the village Post Office is specifically threatened with closure, or indeed has mentioned anything at all. But it might happen and now is the time to take pre-emptive action before it is too late.

I will be working on this all week.

Friday, June 03, 2005

My birthday present has arrived!!!

It is a bit late, but that is what happens when your own loved ones do not think about your birthday and only order things by mail order the day before. But I am not bitter.

I have always been depressed and anxious about birthdays. From an early age, when the other children pointed and laughed at me at birthday parties and my mother produced sub-standard giveaway bags, they have been a source of regret rather than celebration.

At eighteen I really started to feel it - it was horrible. It might have been reaching the age of majority that got me so down, or it might have been the enormously fat stripper that my so-called friends had organised. I was engulfed by something, either way.

Twenty was worse - I couldn't be a teenager any more. Twenty-one also, especially as the lady I was seeing at the time was thirty-five and had no sympathy at all. I was just a trophy to her, that's all I was, like the gardening boy off Desperate Housewives, but with a mullet.

The mid-twenties were difficult, then it was a long downward spiral until my thirtieth. For this, I stayed at home, alone. The LTLP was away (no, she was not the same lady from my twenty-first) (or the fat stripper). So I sort of sat there on my own listening to Leonard Cohen records.

But the past couple of years have been different. No worries, no gloom. I feel younger now than I have done for ages. I also found out from a friend that I am actually a year younger than I thought, so that is good news. Something about living here has given me this immense new lease of life, and I have regained my funkiness and in-ness with the kids.

I unwrap my new bowls with care. Although they are solid, you must take great care not to damage them as this could affect the weighting. They are smooth, shiny and have rabbit logos on them, which is a nice touch.

The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A very short, slightly bashed-out thing from me at Paranoid Promqueen today.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I was in London yesterday. And I met a reader, sort of by chance.

I do not normally do personal appearances, as I am a believer in the phrase "never meet your heroes". I would not like to disappoint fans in real life by being not as attractive or funny as they thought (I know you have high expectations.)

It would be like me meeting Leonard Cohen and discovering that he has a high squeaky voice and gets his inspiration from the poems they have inside Hallmark cards. Or Leonard Nimoy, and finding out that he has normal ears after all and is not from space. (Note to Messrs Cohen's and Nimoy's lawyers - I am just using these as examples, and am not implying anything).

Fortunately she was both quite fit and not a stalker. I had been a bit worried about ending up like that blonde Abba lady on the telly the other night, or the chap from the film 'Misery' but I seemed safe enough. We walked down Charing Cross Road. I am a bit of a 'new man' so I tried not to look at her breasts, but when I pointedly averted my eyes away I found myself leering into the window of the 'Harmony' sex shop, then I went red and almost walked into a fat tourist.

"I liked the thing you wrote about pants yesterday," she said. "It was the funniest thing I have ever read in my life and you are so talented." (I am paraphrasing, as I cannot remember the exact words).

"Thank you," I replied, modestly. But I also remembered that I had not put on an appropriate pair of pants for meeting a female admirer. I was almost about to mention this, but then I thought she would think that I was obsessed with pants as well as being someone who got their kicks from sneaking glances at sex shop window displays, so I kept quiet.

We settled down outside a coffee shop. By this time I was getting a bit anxious about all the crowds of people around, as I am not used to that these days. There was also a problem with our order which flustered me, as I was trying very hard to look cool and in control and cosmopolitan, rather than like a simple Norfolk pants-fixated bumpkin.

Unfortunately, when the street cleared a bit, I realised that I'd chosen a spot immediately opposite a large and trendy pants shop, in whose huge window was displayed four immensely bulging mannequins modelling a variety of extremely brief briefs.

I goggled at them in total disbelief. They thrust back at me. I looked left and right down the road. There were about a grillion coffee shops and only one pants outlet.

I drooped my head in humiliation and shame.