Friday, December 22, 2006

JonnyB's Private Secret Diary
would like to wish all
Readers, Commenters, Linkers and Lurkers
a happy Christmas and bearable New Year.

Our Christmas Special will appear in Boxing Day's Daily Mirror
(subject to any real news happening).
UPDATE - Spiked!!! Bloody Godfathers of Soul, eh?

We will be returning early in 2007.

Should you decide to start your own Internet Web Log in 2007, the following things are likely to happen to you:

A man from Hungary will mow a tribute 'Save the Post Office' in large letters into his lawn.

Your work will be studied by generations to come.

You will get involved in a high-speed chase with Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance.

You will receive assistance from readers RE mysterious missing ham.

You will go off at tangents.

You will summarise your entire life in a few short sentences.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My building work has finished!!!

In time for the holiday season!!! A different holiday season than envisaged, but that is just picking hairs. I have electrics that do not electrify people, risers that actually rise, and a useful wall for hanging things on where I was originally expecting a dull old window.

Granted, the toilet situation is still causing concern and you'd see better finishing at a Charlton game, but the shower is quite acceptable and the non-working radiator in my bedroom is balanced by the fact that since the plans were drawn up the world has become two degrees warmer.

We drive home from the hospital through the dense fog. The LTLP slumps in the back, her broken leg wedged between the front seats; beside her the Baby dozes, pumped full of Pneumonia-B-Gone. I do not switch on the stereo for fear of 'Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time'.

It has been an interesting year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My dining room table has arrived!!!

The family heirloom table has been returned to its rightful owners, to be replaced with one that I, and then eventually my children and my grandchildren, will sit and dine at, share stories at, accidentally brick into bedrooms, etc.

It is gigantic.

I attempt to help the Table Delivery Man carry it into the Cottage. It is enormously heavy – as heavy as one of those extreme metal bands, eg def leppard. My arms are built for pleasuring women, not for lifting heavy tables from vans, whereas his only job in the world is lifting heavy tables from vans – he does it several times a day and indeed probably has a degree in it from Thames Valley University. We stagger through the doorway into the kitchen. The walls seem to shake as we rest it with a gentle crash on the brick floor.

As he goes to fetch the legs, I feel a pang of conscience. I have spent several hundred pounds on a dining room table when there are children dying in the Lebinon.

I am a shameful person and will go to hell. Then I realise that without a proper dining room table you cannot have dinner parties discussing things like how bad it is that children are dying in the Lebinon, so I feel a bit better and that I have done my bit. The Table Delivery Man returns with the legs, which are like matchsticks, but on a planet where matchsticks are really really big and thick, and have metal bolts on them to attach them to tabletops.

He fits the legs.

We then attempt to turn the table the right way up, which is a fiasco. Carrying it upright was bad enough, but attempting to both lift and turn it makes me look even weedier by a factor of about seventeen. They probably share stories about this at the Table Delivery Social Club, in between chatting about van capacity and the use (or non-use) of mats. We manoeuvre it into position, which involves my end staying in exactly the same place, and his end manoeuvring.

He gives me a ‘well done’ smile, like a local newsreader reporting on the delivery of a new Sunshine Coach. Eight chairs complete the picture. I resolve to have a dinner party ASAP.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Well that was exciting wasn't it?

A sluggish start, an encouraging mid-match surge, before inspired play at the death sealed an in-the-end comfortable win for the opposition. It was very much like the recent King's Lynn vs Oldham Athletic FA Cup(TM) fixture, without the footbally bits inc. the booking of defender Charlie Defty.

We are officially the second best internet web log in the UK!!!

Booooo… but only second. And it is being first which counts. After all - everybody knows the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. But who can ever recall the second? (It was 'Buzz Aldrin').

At which point we proceed with the serious bit - you might want to skip this and come back on Monday when there will be a report about a dining table.

Serious bit begins

Of course, this isn't the second best internet web log in the UK. It's an impossible and ludicrous thing to try to judge or measure such a concept, I'd guess that the vast majority of UK sites had no idea whatsoever that nominations were going on (I certainly didn't), and I'd guess that most of these wouldn't have cared anyway. The voting system was intriguing, and the smaller sites never had a chance. I've always liked to think that this journal might be one of the better in its Ilk, but it's a fucking tiny Ilk I inhabit, I can tell you. And how do you compare an Ilk with an ilk?

So… why?

Just to remind the people that look at awards to tell them what to read, that there is a huge diversity of blogging in the UK. The 'personal sites' aren't necessarily the ones that need sit at the back like the embarrassing aunt, afraid to mix with the weightier stuff and looked down upon from the heights of punditry ("and some people just write about their cats!"). In fact lots of them are quite good.

So a creditable second can't be bad.

Those who took my initial words as 'yuk - political blogs are boring minge' got it wrong slightly. The point was that there is room enough for everyone. You'll actually find me at quite a few Places of that Persuasion, although sometimes I am hiding. In fact lots of them are quite good.

Booooo… I am revealed as Judas.

Jonny's Final Thoughts

I tend to leave the comments box unattended most of the time, but I was uncomfortable with the 'I've just read such-and-such blog!!! It's shit!!!' posts, whatever the context in which they were made. And I learnt an interesting lesson there - if I don't intervene and reply to comments that I'm not comfortable with the tone of, then they become inextricably linked with the voice of the (deep breath) JonnyB community. Shit!!! It is not my web log any more. It is ours. So I will try to be more chatty in future, unless I'm - y'know - really busy.

To the lady that left the (deleted) comment saying that she could cheat the poll: please - it's my reputation, not yours. Kids - cheating is wrong, and we don't want it here.

Thanks to my good friend Girlie Onetrack for her heavyweight support, and particularly for agreeing to remain my friend after I asked her to add a disclaimer to her endorsement post. And gratitude to everybody else who got behind an interesting campaign. I'll find you via the technorati thing and say proper thanks.

FINAL THING - and a non-negotiable. I don't have time to moderate comments. Please - no 'we should have won' sour grapes or muttered dissent etc. in the comments box. That's not my 'thing', and I'd be really pissed off. And we don't want that, seeing as I'm so important now. This weekend please use the comments box to promote the blogs you think other people might like to read. Cats, politics, political cats an' all.

Next week we get back to normal, with my important story about the table.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"We are talking," and here, Len the Fish leant in conspiratorially, "the dirtbox."

Short Tony nodded sagely. There was an interruption from the other end of the bar.

"Excuse me yes, I am looking for ze pigfarm?"

The visitor was foreign (nb the 'ze', above, represents this) - possibly Polish or North European, a quiet, slightly hoarse voice. He wore a blue suit with a dazzling yellow tie that was just imperceptibly too wide. A man not dressed for the pigfarm.

The Angelic Barmaid blinked at him. It was her first night, and so far very standard questions like 'could I have a pint of beer please' had seemed to confuse her.


"I am looking for ze pigfarm? Apparently it is near here?"

She looked round for help. Several people were trampled in the rush.

"What pigfarm?" asked Ron. "There are pigs all over the place."

The man shrugged slightly helplessly. "Just ze pigfarm."

"Have you got a name?" demanded another regular. "You must have a name?"

Another shrug. "I do not have a name. Just ze pigfarm."

"Well what are you doing there? That would help."

"I have to meet a man."

"What man?"

"I don't know his name, I am afraid."

Ron changed tack. "Well there are loads of pigs in that direction, he offered, pointing out of the window down the road. But no pigs in that direction. Does that help?"

The man thought. "Not really. But thank you." He worked his way round the bar, asking about the pigfarm hoarsely and sheepishly. Eventually a consensus arose that he should drive to the farmhouse closest to the nearest pig field.

He thanked the bar in general. We wished him luck and he departed, yellow tie lighting the way.

Somewhere, there is a man hanging around pigfarms. Waiting for a rendezvous that may never happen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I go to fetch food.

The LTLP is confined to the sofa with bruising, a sprained ankle and a broken leg. Despite this, she has been reasonably cheerful and positive about events, and patient with my attempts to help her. She may have had one of those head injuries that changes your personality. I will monitor this.

I drive from the Chinese Pub, a bag of delicious-smelling Chinese food on the passenger seat, the Proclaimers entertaining from the stereo. Around me, all is dark as dark can be - farmland and woodland for miles in every direction. The wipers thwip-thwap across the screen. I met no other cars on the way, I have met no other cars on my return.

There is an alarming noise!!!

The car pulls sharply, and starts dragging. Clearly a tyre has gone, quite spectacularly. The wheel rim makes an 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' scream as it scrapes the rutted lane. This scream is doubly-worrying; I decide I must Do Something About It and acordingly turn up the Proclaimers. Rain blatters against the glass as my mind races.

I last changed a wheel when I was about six years old, and, thinking about it, I suspect my father was just being kind by thanking me profusely for my help. It is just not the sort of skill that I have needed to acquire. I haven't a clue where the jacking points are, although I suspect they are underneath somewhere, and I have left my mobile telephone at home so I can't call for help. Although I'm not sure I'd get a signal anyway. Or help. I am in the absolute middle of nowhere.

The wild night suddenly becomes quite threatening. I can see myself in the opening scene of a 'Jaws' spinoff, the Police Chief pausing before filling in 'possible cause of death' with his typewriter. D.E.E.R. A.T.T.A.C.K.

I could use the monosodium glutamate in the kung po chicken to fix the tyre!!! Except that the Chinese Pub is proudly MSG-free. Curse these multicultural liberals and their failure to integrate. I will not starve, however - but without Wikipedia to hand I can't tell how long I can eke out my food without poisoning myself with botulistic rice. I should eat the rice first, the kung po chicken tomorrow and perhaps the duck in aromatic sauce the next day. I can burn prawn crackers for warmth.

'eeeeeeeeeeeeeee' goes the wheel. 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeee' goes Charlie Reid.

At twenty-five m.p.h. I seem to be making some form of progress. I really have no idea as to whether it's a good idea to continue driving on the rims - the only experience I have in this technique is from 'America's Wildest Police Chases', where it usually ends in prison, disgrace and a patronising lecture by a silver-haired ex-sheriff. But that programme may be selectively edited. I cannot tell. I am a bit disappointed that there are no sparks, however. There are always sparks.

But I resolve to continue. It's not un-worrying, but the alternative seems to be my lifeless corpse daubed in sweet and sour being gnawed at by ferocious muntjac. I reach the lights of the village with relief, consider stopping at the Village Pub for assistance but decide against it as the regulars would laugh and steal my Chinese food.

I arrive home. Dinner is cold. There are complaints. Later I will discover the cost of buggering up a wheel rim like that. Today I drove to the hospital. A stone smashed my windscreen.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

OK - it's a dilemma isn't it?

Mr Angry's flatmate nominated me for the 2006 Weblog Awards. For which I am grateful. Mr Angry's flatmate did not nominate Mr Angry, which left Mr Angry pissed off. But I am not worried about that. He is angry. That is what he does. The clue is in the name.

So I got through to the shortlist. Which, again, I am grateful for. As well as the nomination from Mr Angry's soon-to-be-ex-flatmate, someone, somewhere has looked at this and made a judgement that it is worth putting on that list. I don't know who that person is. They might be an idiot, for all I know. I do not care. Somebody likes it - which is why I do it.

There, my interest should end, as the process from thereon is a vote (and you can vote every day - arf!!!), which is where these things always crash and burn as any sort of meaningful process.

But it doesn't. Because I am a secret psychopath who needs to win everything I am involved with otherwise I start killing children. Which is awkward socially.

Plus I would love it - love it - if all the earnest blogging new meeja paradigm types saw the results and thought: 'WTF? The best blog in the UK is some bloke going on about his village life in Norfolk? When there is serious discussion taking place about the ID card situation in the Lebanon? This is a fiasco. I had better write an earnest post about it on my web log.'

Anyway. You can vote for me here. Every day - arf!!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I frown as I grip the telephone receiver.

“But what about getting up in the middle of the night? If the Baby needs comforting?”

Abuse pervades the copper wires.

“Oh. Right-o.”

I leave the Baby in the capable hands of the Cheap Babysitter and set off on my mercy dash. The Fens are dark and eerie as I speed along in the moonlight.

It seems to me that if you are going to get run over, then you may as well get run over in the ambulance bay of a major hospital. The ambulance people certainly appreciated it, being able to register a 35-second response on their official govt. statistics form. This will allow them to sit around drinking tea and writing their web logs before pootling up to the next client fifteen minutes and twenty-five seconds later, still maintaining their response time average target.

Oh yes, the ambulance people would be suspects, if the authorities had not already identified an old lady brandishing a Renault Megane. But did she act alone? My mind races.

I worry that the finger of suspicion will point at me, after the falling-through-staircase/electrocution fiascos. But they were accidents, I swear. I may have to do a tearful TV appeal just to prove that it was not anything to do with me.

I pull up outside the hospital, parking illegally in a place that you are absolutely forbidden to park in, ie convenient for the door. I can see her through the glass – she looks all right enough, just a bit flatter than normal. Some bits of her are in plaster.

There is a pissed off look on her face. I wheel her to the car and pour her in.

Monday, December 04, 2006

We plan a romantic evening.

Having a Baby lying around (who I do not mention in my Private Secret Diary ever) means that we are unable to enjoy the more adult pleasures in which we previously indulged, e.g. going to the Village Pub together etc. etc. It is frustrating.

I determine to address this.

All is prepared. I have sourced a cheap babysitter, and have put my trousers on. The LTLP is due back from work at seven pee em precisely. I put several milks in the fridge. I clean my teeth. I instruct the Cheap Babysitter in everything that can possibly be instructed.

I am really looking forward to this.

I ensure I have my door keys, my mobile telephone, some money and my credit cards. I check to see that my shirt goes with my trousers and change accordingly. I put some more money in my pocket, just in case. I re-instruct the Cheap Babysitter on everything that I have previously instructed. I double-check that my shirt goes and that there are enough milks in the fridge.

Everything is in order. Nothing - nothing - can possibly go wrong.

With ten minutes to spare, I finish preparing my PowerPoint presentation: '100 Clunking Setups for Bloggers'

Later, as I am leaving the Accident and Emergency department, I reflect upon the day. In fact I reflect upon life in general. The reflection fills me with horror - I push it away and try to block it out of my mind. We drive home in silence.