Thursday, October 13, 2011

Disco Banjo

"I've run out of ink for my printer and I can't print anything out."
"How can we help with that."
"Can I get some CVs printed off. It's not like I ever use them now, but they're useful for agencies."
"Oh, we don't do that. But if you want to go to Job Club, you can use their facilities."
"Job Club?"
"Yes, it's every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the college."
"But I can't tell anyone about it?"
"The first rule of Job Club is you don't talk about Job Club."
"The film with Brad Pitt. Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is you don't talk about Fight Club."
"I don't watch films..."

Oh, aren't civil servants just as fucking dull as we've always thought they were?


Driving back from Job Club (I shouldn't tell you about it, but I will), I thought about the conversation I had with one of the advisers. "Why don't you try to get back into comics?" She said, as if it was a little like popping into Tesco's and buying an aubergine.
"It's not really as simple as that," I said, hoping she wouldn't labour the point and end up with me boring the tits off of her - because I'm feeling isolated I'm gushing more than conversing at the moment, especially when I lure an unsuspecting listener in.
"But if you have all these years experience, surely one of the companies who do the Spider-Man films could use someone with your knowledge." Damn. This meant I had to bore the tits off of her.
"I'm not even going to try to explain why what you suggest isn't feasible, just trust me that I'd have more chance of sleeping with God."
"What about getting back into the media. If you were an editor and journalist for so long, surely that must count for something?" Stop now you stupid woman, you have no idea what you're letting yourself in for!
"I'm not that good."
"You can't be that bad, you worked in it for 15 years."
"Yes, but it doesn't mean I'm any good. Do you have colleagues that you feel don't know which way to sit on a toilet?"
"I couldn't say."
"Well, if you do, then I'd probably fall into that category; if I went to a proper magazine publisher they would probably still be laughing now. I'm also nearly a decade away from it; everything has moved on." Thankfully, she just nodded and continued to look through my CV. I didn't want to come across as someone who didn't want a job, so I did the really unwise thing and said, "Besides, if someone offered me a job in comics now, I'd want a contract that stated quite clearly that I wouldn't get royally butt-fucked by them and I'd get all the money I'm owed from said contract if it all went tits-up. If you'll excuse my bad language."
"You don't want to know."
"Well, it might help me find you a suitable job."
"I doubt very much if the incredibly small number of jobs in comics would ever find their way to Northampton Job Centre; besides I really need to live in New York to stand even a snowball's chance in hell."
"Oh, why's that?"
"Because that's where the work is. I'm not a comicbook writer and the only thing I draw are stick men. It's hardly the kind of trait you'd get headhunted to write Spider-Man for." She nodded, but looked confused as well.
"Have you thought about writing articles for papers and magazines? You could write about comics; I'm sure there are people who would be interested." I was beginning to wonder what qualifications you needed to be an unemployment adviser.
"Let's put it this way. I wrote a book about my life in comics. It's even been published on Kindle, as well as being serialised on my blog." She was nodding like this was something really positive. "To date, I get about 1000 hits a week on the blog and I've sold about 35 copies of the book. I was considering buying a yacht or a small Caribbean island, but my accountant reckons by the time I can afford it I'll be 809." She didn't get the joke.
"How much money have you made from it and when was it published?" Aha, I could see where this was going.
"I have made approximately £80 from it and I won't get anything from Amazon until I've sold 50 copies in whatever country it is sold in. So far it's 27 in the UK and 8 in the USA. If I ask for the money before I reach my targets, I pay an excess fee."
"Okay. How much is the book?"
"About £4. Why are you going to buy it?"
"I have a Kindle; I might just do that." I smiled thinking she had no idea what she was letting herself into; or wondering if she was just interested in getting my royalties up so they could deduct that money from my benefits. Even I don't think civil servants would go that far to save £100.
"I think exploring the comics world for future employment isn't such a good idea. I've had enough disappointments so far and it would end up being a futile search. There's no money to be made from it unless you draw like Michelangelo or write like Dickens and I'm afraid I'm neither."
"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Part of my job is to try and get you to feel more confident about going for jobs you might never have considered. At least you have experience."
"Yes, but you need for there to be jobs. There aren't any, anywhere in the UK."
Someone behind us, a man who looked like he'd just forgotten where his arse was, chirped in, "I read 2000 AD, it's really good." I looked at my adviser and shrugged.
"What's 2000AD?" She asked.
"An anachronism," I said with a hint of sarcasm and in-joke. She shook her head; she didn't see the joke and I suddenly remembered the other adviser, yesterday, who didn't know what Fight Club was.
"You seem slightly bitter about comics."
"Go and buy my book." She nodded and scribbled some notes in my new folder. This suddenly injected me with a pang of paranoia. "Look; in a nutshell, I worked in and around comics for 25 years and only really got any remuneration from it for about a third of my time in it. I have won awards; produced a magazine read by over 100,000 people across the world and have always been in the wrong place at the right time. Do you have a hobby?" She nodded. "Would you like to make a business out of it?" She pondered this and eventually shrugged an 'I don't know'. "I loved comics. I was a geek. Then I sold them, then I wrote about them and then I produced my own magazine about them and by the time I got to the last one I hated comics so much I'd have rather be anally probed by Judge Dredd than have anything to do with them. You live, breath and eat your hobby and soon it becomes just another job. Why do you think I left comics and started working with the homeless and disenfranchised? Last year, I was approached by the organisers of the Umbrella Fair and asked if I'd be the PR man for the festival. This involved producing the magazine, getting promotions, press coverage and liaising with all the contributors. When I suggested that if I did it I'd have to run it professionally; I was looked at in abject horror. It was, according to them, the most important job in the festival's organisation, but it also required my skills from working in social care, because some of the people contributing were 'precious' - my word, not theirs. They felt that I could marry the two skills and do a good job, but they didn't want me hassling anyone for copy, adverts or contributions - just in case I upset them and they pulled out. In other words they wanted me to do the job in about three days, not get paid for it and suffer idiots gladly.
"The two jobs don't work with each other and while I could do what they asked for with my eyes shut; it stressed me out just contemplating it. I could not put the two hats on at the same time, which is what they wanted, and I love working in social care and asking me to do this job could well kill off that interest. If you want to know what I want to do, it's to stay in the line of work I've been doing for the last ten years." She hadn't glazed over, she was searching through her computer terminal.
"There's a job at the college for a web technician in their social welfare department."
"I'm not a web technician."
"Yes, but it requires a knowledge of all the things you've been doing for the last ten years."
"Using that logic, perhaps I should apply to be a porn star, on the basis that I have a passion for sex."
"You're not being very helpful, Phillip." No, I wasn't and I really hate being called Phillip...


You can tell that I'm suffering from almost terminal boredom at the moment. I've started subscribing to web pages I would have once avoided like the plague. Den of Geek has become one of my favourite sites. It keeps me informed (in a similar way my old comics gossip column did) about what is happening in Geekdom and allows me to criticise the contributors, the programmes they review and the general idiots that frequent these places.

Then I saw the irony...


As I don't have a Blackberry (but I do have two bags of them in the freezer), I really don't understand this current joke going around about setting your iPhone to airplane mode.

Not only can't I tell jokes; I can't explain them either...


I was reading on the Football Gossip column on the BBC website today that former Arsenal, West Ham and Wales striker Jon Hartson, who recently battled and won a fight against testicular cancer, is having to make do with an allowance of £250 a week because of his gambling debts.

Poor sod. How on earth does he manage on just £250 a week...

Who says sarcasm doesn't work in print?


Of course, because I'm now struggling to be a contributing member of society and I face long days of doing fuck all, if anybody knocks on my front door, they immediately become fair game. Just after I wrote the word 'print' above, the dogs went wild and I realised it was someone at the door. I've had the blinds closed, so I haven't been distracted by the flotsam and jetsam that wanders passed my house on a daily basis, so I had no idea that God Botherers were at my door.

I usually have two stock answers for callers - anyone selling me something, I say we just rent the house and if it's anything to do with God I just normally slam the door in their face, mumbling about 'sad pathetic wankers'. This morning, however, as I'm absolutely pumped and in need to unload a lot of verbage, I stood and waited for the delivery.
"Good morning sir. I hope we haven't interrupted anything." I shook my head. "We're in the neighbourhood talking to people about expectations and faith; have you got a few minutes to talk to us?"
"Other than God, what are you selling?" I can recognise a JW from a mile off; I still have their DNA on my fist from the mid-1980s.
"We do have copies of this," he said, offering a handful of Watchtowers in my direction.
"I'm unemployed. I can't even afford to eat properly."
"Some of the stories in these will give you hope and restore your faith," said the bespectacled shorter one.
"Can I eat them?" He looked at me like I'd offered him a free blow job. "If I can't eat them, then they won't serve any purpose apart from as toilet paper. Although, paradoxically, if I can't eat, then I doubt I'd be able to shit much." I think they spotted my sarcasm and inclination to be slightly hostile.
"Thank you for your time, sir, we're sorry if we've bothered you." And they went to walk off.
"Hold on a minute. Aren't you going to try to convert me to Jehovah or give me some spiritual support in my time of need?"
"You obviously don't want to talk to us, sir," said the taller one without glasses and seriously bad acne on his forehead.
"Oh I do. I'd be happy to discuss religion with you. Why it's the root of all evil, causes wars, hate and prejudice. But you obviously don't like theological debates, you're only interested in selling the bloody Watchtower. I thought Christians were benevolent people, willing to donate their time to offer succour to those in a time of crisis."
"We're Christians," said the one with glasses and you could see the shoulders of his partner slump. "We do offer comfort and support to people who deserve it." His friend went to say something, probably along the lines of 'let's get out of here, NOW', but I beat him to it.
"So, on the strength of two minutes conversation, you've decided that I'm not worthy of comfort and support?"
"I didn't say that at all." Said the short one.
"You do have an... attitude, sir. You're obviously not receptive to ideas, at least not today." Said the tall one who now looked like he desperately needed the loo.
"Surely then, I'm the kind of person your theocracy would love to convert?" Eat that, JW!
"There has to be an element of willing with the people we talk to."
"So, you prey on the vulnerable then?"
"I didn't say that."
"I think you'll find you did."
"Someone who is willing doesn't necessarily mean someone who is vulnerable. We meet a lot of people who are fed up with their religion or have none at all, but would like some faith in the current climes."
"Fair enough. So why are you more interested in flogging the Watchtower than talking to people? You would have been happy to take my money, despite the fact I have no job and no money?"
"Some people can find a few pence for some enlightenment, even the poorest people in society."
"Have you ever considered they're just trying to get rid of you?" The short one smiled, but his presumably more senior partner did not.
"Belief in God isn't about money."
"So why are all the churches wallowing in cash and people like me are suffering?"
"Probably because you don't believe in God." The small one was getting slightly belligerent; this was good!
"Now, I never said I didn't believe in God. I don't, but I never said I didn't."
"I think we've taken up more than enough of your time, sir. Have a good day," and he literally grabbed the small man with glasses and walked off.
"Damn, and I was going to ask you if you wanted a cup of tea, or maybe a really filthy three-way!" sadly they didn't reply to this suggestion and kept looking forwards, like they feared the same fate as Lot's wife!

I'm still chuckling about it now, despite the fact that I'm likely to burn in hell for my sins...


We won the pub quiz for the third week on the trot on Tuesday. We tried desperately not, but we're just cleverer than everyone else.

The delicious irony of Tuesday night was that both Roger and I have come to dread quiz nights; not because we win a lot, but because the once great pub - The Vic - has rather fallen into a state of ambivalence. The toilets need cleaning; the pub needs sprucing up and the beer, once some of the best in the town, seems to be a bit flat, old and possibly even unclean.

I declared that I'd drive on Tuesday, so disillusioned with the beer, I decided that I didn't mind just having a pint. Roger emailed me to say that he was only having two at the most, because he had an important meeting at 8.45am the next morning. I informed the wife she could get drunk and everyone was happy, until we walked into the pub and saw there were two Oakham beers on tap - the mighty JHB and the wondrous White Dwarf. Oh, the irony.

Roger had three pints and I pushed the limit by having two - JHB is only 3.8% and a damned good session beer. Next week I'm not driving and Roger doesn't have an important meeting; you can bet your life that the beers on offer will resemble lifeless washing up water and we'll both have the shits and a bad head the next day...

It is also quite ironic because One El, our usual beer-loving quizmaster is on holiday in Mexico, a place where Oakham beer has yet to reach. The weather might be hot, but he's missed out on a rare thing, The Vic having good beer. I'm sure he'll be heartbroken.

Who says sarcasm doesn't work in print?


Haven has been recommissioned for a third series. Someone is felating the heads of the SyFy Channel, they must be!

Forgive me for a moment; but after reading the comments left on the Stephen King Facebook page - there really are some turkey loving fuckwits out there.


The wife was in a charity shop yesterday (yes, we've fallen that far) and couldn't help overhear part of a conversation between a slightly mad looking woman and the two assistants. You'll get the gist of it...
"So the rule of thumb is if you can peel the caps they're edible and if you can't then they're toadstools and will poison you."

This woman is going to die.

I'd say about half of all mushrooms can been peeled; these include Death Cap, Panther Cap and Destroying Angel - all part of the same family as Fly Agaric (the red mushroom with white spots you see on most book covers) - the amanita family; probably the most poisonous and deadly species growing in this country.

Mushrooms that can be 'skinned' also include agaricus xanthodermus or Yellow Stainer - part of the same family as your common shop bought mushroom, but responsible for 80% of all poisonings every single year!

Similarly, there are at least a dozen mushrooms I can think of that you can't peel - including shop bought oyster mushrooms (pleurotis) and shiitake mushrooms - much loved by people who like eating tough pencil rubbers.

In this case a little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing...


I watched a bit of the U2 documentary on Sunday night. I'm amazed that the three other band members haven't beaten Bono(bo) to death with his own self-sanctimonious ego. Sometimes course swear words just aren't good enough and something almost inoffensive nowadays will do.

Bono is a tosser.


It might seem odd that a confirmed vegetarian such as I would get so much pleasure from watching a programme called Man vs Food. But, what can I say? I find it to be 13 minutes of wonderful car wreck TV.

I say 13 minutes; the show is actually 22 minutes long, but there's the intro, credits, constant recaps and montages of the previous few minutes to pad out what is essentially a large man eating his way across the Saturated Fats Capitals of the USA. It is a meat feast bar none. There is more meat in some of the abominations he puts in his mouth than I ever ate in the 30 years of scoffing dead animals.

The thing is Adam Richman, the Brooklyn born presenter, is an affable chap and tries very hard to come across as an everyman for the lard addicted Yanks. There's an element of geek about him, but also something of a bon viveur. If you'll pardon the pun, the show can be a bit cheesy at times and many of the 'members of the public' he meets are either specifically targeted (because they are sexy, young, female and showing vast expanses of cleavage) or single-brain-celled rednecks (who make you realise why you're glad you're not American).

There is very little for a vegetarian in this programme; although it has given me a recipe for the most awesome cinnamon buns I have ever had and several attempts at making Sicilian pizzas. I discovered that Montana's (famous for mining and dental floss - according to Zappa) state dish is the Cornish Pasty - because of all the tin miners who emigrated there in the 19th century. I also discovered that the other three main food types in this ugly state are ketchup, beer and salt!

The closer to the heart of America Richman goes, the more dislikeable, irritable and awful the population becomes. I can't help wonder if this 'food' programme is actually more of a post-modern look at fat Americans and how stupid they are the closer they get to the centre of Jesusland.


Food, Jesus, fuckwits and geeks - I have an array of subjects I can be derogatory about. Who said men can't multi-task?


  1. Oh, aren't civil servants just as fucking dull as we've always thought they were?

    For the record, if you'd come to my desk with that, I would have got it.

    I don't understand why the Man vs Food man isn't dead yet. Will they carry on filming when the inevitable happens and he's rushed to hospital with half a kilo of beef in his gob?

  2. Re jovahs

    I like to think I converted one.

    I was at my folks looking after the dog when some young jw knocked on the door when I was very, very hungover.

    Before he launched his spiel I said : "isn't there about 100,000 chosen ones?"
    He said: "yes"

    I said: "why are you trying to increase your odds of not getting in by recruiting?"

    I still have happy thoughts of him walking away with his mind whirring!

  3. They never come around my way, which is a shame as I've often wanted to ask them the same question. Not really for any mischievous reason -- although that is a factor -- but because I want to know what their answer would be, as it does seem to be a bit of a flaw.