Archive | December, 2010


31 Dec


As a son of the White Rose and a citizen of the Dales the time has come to spread a little culture and buttery wisdom among the generic well fed masses of these United States.

Far from stone walled utopian villages where the ovine population exceeds that of the indigenous, the considered clarity of a country lad is a welcome and necessary perspective when pondering these difficult times; a veritable litany of half-truths and fireside wisdoms to calm the soul and warm the cockles of the heart. Repeat after televised repeat of James Heriot and his veterinary practices are not enough to quell the ache of home sickened depression and occasionally one has to dig a little deeper in order tap the root of malaise and restore sanity to the distress of ex-patria. 

The cock and bull stories of backbreaking agrarian husbandry and the carnards of subterranean coalfaces told and retold around parlour room fires, remind us that there is more to life than chasing the Yankee dollar. The Way of the Wolds is innate, and once beaten into you by the loving hands of grandparents, uncles, aunties,neighbors etc. can never be forgotten. Complemented by the familial thrashings of father, they only serve to make the recollections fonder. Clarity and sentimentality flaring where once there was only the dull sheen of blued-blackened  skin.

Illusions of happier times in bright sun lit dales, besides crystal clear burbling Yorkshire becks. Vistas of sheep as far as the eye could see; the yellow swath of oil-seed- rape bending to the will of coastal gales. Funny how one forgets the freezing chill of Northern mornings and the loss of innocence during communal ablutions at the village baths – horizontal rain soaking through fur trimmed parkas – penny bags of teeth breaking boiled sweets – salt and vinegar crisps – dandelion and burdock pop.

Aye, fond recollections.

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this Yorkshire.

God it was shite!


 As soon as the cameras turned on, Jennifer couldn’t help turning into a lying bitch…


Abject depression, where one grey day washed into the next. An opaque recollection of the seventies and eighties as one long, drab, cloud-covered, dreary weekend. Long hours for poor wages, closing pits and padlocked ship yard gates. King coal reduced to the ranks and Sheffield Steel merely an anachronism of an industrial past. The pit wheels, those monuments to industry, that used to stand tall next to slag heaps and deprived council neighborhoods are now silent and choked in the their own soot soaked brick work. Workers dispersed to gale force winds, their derelict houses refurbished for Polish speaking immigrants.

 Aye the North- that forgotten quarter of this sceptered isle.

The place that the M1 passes through on its way to Scotland. The largest county in England and yet the least respected. Ask any Southerner for an immediate three word response to Yorkshire and you’ll hear wellies, sheep and rain which actually, although highly derogatory and fighting talk from where I hale, isn’t far from the truth.

But enough of the morose, lets discuss the saving grace of what it is was  that made the Riding’s great, that which echoed from Wold to Wold and Berg to Berg. The all illuminating fantasy of Mothers cooking !

We remember it well! Condensed kitchen windows and the smell of cake and scones emanating from behind double bolted front doors. Where the majesty of the white apron ruled supreme and the swat of the wooden spoon was as scathing as the sway of scepter. What mother said went, and like it or lump it that’s just the way it was. The bounty of the Yorkshire kitchen was cornucopian as evidenced by the shelved plastic Tupperware filled with lard laden desserts. A catalogue of working class consumption; copious calories to ward off damp and keep the cold at bay. There was no room for fussy eaters, and the only vegetarians were the ones grazing in the field across the fence. In a house where a cleaned plate was evidence of suburban starvation and a plate left with barely-edibles the crime of the century, food was taken seriously!


Unable to feel love, farmer John simply tossed his conquests aside…


 Waste not want not- wasn’t that what they used to say?

Yorkshire folk are the only people in the world who can open a can of peas, feed a family of four and still have leftovers for the next day. With a couple of lumps of bread and a good dosing of ketchup the crumbling pyramid of nutrition is scaffolded and all the food groups met.

Along with family favorites such as canned corn-beef, fish fingers, spuds and cabbages – fried, boiled, or in sandwiches- there was always bread and marg with lashings of homemade, handpicked bramble jam for seconds (or afters as we liked to call it!) Flashbacks to flesh tearing branches and thorn-stuck purple fingers immortalized in glass-jarred canned perfection-labeled in mothers best handwriting – hidden in darkness until Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or god forbid visitors.


Hadrian’s first attempt, using Polish bricklayers, was crap…


The pinnacle of this lavish assortment of gourmet dining was all too frequently Toad-in-the-Hole. When there’s nothing else, the pantry is bare and pay day isn’t until a week on Friday then its Toad for dinner. Images of slimy amphibians peeking out of boggy crevices  no doubt spring to the reader’s mind however, if culinary perversion goes that deep, what does the dear reader think of when spotted dick is mentioned? That’s what I thought you nasty bastards!!

Instead of delicious jam rolly-polly covered in Birds custard-just add water and boil until thick and then pour liberally over everything- the reader is probably imagining swollen members with incurable disease?

 Not so!

 As is the case with the Toad, or Yorkshire Pizza as we use to call it. Thick batter baked in the oven and covered in gluttonous artery clogging gravy (homemade of course, never out of a jar.) If there was one thing mother did well, it was boil meat juices. Our own kitchen princess following in the great tradition of Mrs. Beaton; the demure Victorian who would have kicked Betty Crocker’s arse, killed her, drained her blood, and served her up as something unappetizing to the tribe!


In the earlier days Vlad used to simply cut the prisoners knackers off and cook them… 


Sometimes the Toad actually contained meat, not just a whiff of spam waved in its general direction, but actual meat; genuine 40% meat sausages or European offal tubes as our masters in Maastricht have decided to call them.

1.       First fry sausages. (substitute fry or boil for any method of Yorkshire cookery) Once perfectly charcoaled place in baking dish.

2.       Take batter mix and pour liberally over sausages and then place dish in the oven with as few “bloody hells- that bastards hot!” as possible, and wait till crisp, blackened and unappealing to the eye.

3.        Remove from oven and divide into 27 pieces (all pieces to contain at least the essence of sausage) and serve to starving hoards sitting anxiously in what  father grandly terms the dining room.

4.       Stand back, fold arms, and wait for any sign of gratitude.(Often followed by the sound of grunting pigs at the trough.)

5.       Mission completed, return to kitchen and pour oneself a large tumbler of cooking sherry-wine-vodka or whatever can be found.

Aye, this is the North and we don’t need any of that soppy American shite you call pizza. You can ram it up your arse and call it macaroni. But before you do, please cut off a slice and send it to us, because believe in you and me, up here in Yorkshire we could use it!!


George was gob-smacked when the genie granted his last wish for a butt-load of coke…


28 Dec

Unfortunately Terry’s skill at Monopoly gave credence to the rumor that he was a big fat loser…


I pull the sheet over my head and roll over, unwilling to respond to the ringing phone, still suffering as I am from Christmas apathy and the residual effects of last night’s pizza fest and beer tsunami. I love Christmas, a chance to indulge, to free one’s inner glutton in the knowledge that the faux promise of New Year resolutions and self-imposed fitness regimes are only a few days away. Planned purpose and corporal redemption which might occur tomorrow or possibly the day after, depending upon how I feel! It rings three times before I hear the click of the answering machine and the voice of the anonymous caller leaving a message.

It’s very professionally done!

My wife’s honeyed voice welcomes the stranger to our home, heralds our business and invites them to leave their personal information so that we can return their call at some ungodly hour more convenient to us. The price of doing business on our terms! Customer satisfaction achieved on our time, using our resources, at our convenience and all at their expense. Of course the customer will end up with bright sparkly windows with which to impress friends, neighbors, and co-workers however, at a time and place of our choosing. A reverse transaction, where the expectation of a controlled master-servant environment is eliminated the moment the customer acquiesces to our demands; leaving the details they wouldn’t otherwise give to random strangers.


Let’s be honest, we wouldn’t give out telephone details to just anybody, let them know whether we are in or out of town, or whether there will be anybody at our homes between certain times and dates. I have often thought of steering the company’s primary objective away from window cleaning and starting a cat-burglar service instead!

The answering machine message creates a bond of trust and professionalism – images of  silver steeled, glassed atrium-ed, 21st century architecture all wrapped up in corporate advertising. The illusion of busy, well-dressed, expensively educated people, ready to perform window cleaning excellence conjured up for prospective clients. What the client doesn’t know is that the telephone that links my corporate empire to the world stands next to a refrigerator covered in magnets, family pictures and children’s schedules; made in China tourist ephemera from American weekend getaways, gifted by guilt ridden friends.

“We had a lovely time in Hawaii, here’s your magnet!”

A gallery of photographs of the same kids at various ages in basketball, football, volleyball and soccer kits holding balls, trumpets, guitars and diplomas. The chronology of a busy work-a-day family trying to give their children the experiences of youth they themselves were denied; an eraser board filled with dates for dentists, hair appointments and yoga sessions. It’s hardly corporate America but the unknown voice spilling its guts on the telephone doesn’t know that. They have already listened to the welcoming message, made their instantaneous decision that we are to be trusted and chosen to leave their information.


Despite his enthusiam for glass, the recently hired midget wasn’t going to work out


“Hey this is Mrs. Smith at such-and-such address; here are my phone and cell numbers. Just to let you know we won’t be in town from such-and-such to such-and-such and then only in the afternoons!”

It would be so easy to take advantage of the situation; but we don’t!

Her mind filled with imagined images of gleaming glass and spotless sun screens, the client replaces her receiver. Satisfied that a milestone has been achieved, she crosses us off her to-do list and moves on to the next cup of coffee, TV show, or whatever.

The window cleaner cometh….


Unable to afford the new SHAKE-WEIGHT, John had to improvise with amazing results. 


The toilet flushes, the faucet runs and the kettle is filled in preparation of the first cup of the day; tea, the life giving elixir that no day can begin without. Once my priorities have been set, and I find myself in my happy place, I press play on the corporate electronics and listen to the message which so rudely awakened me.

Usual stuff;

This is John McCain, your biggest friend and I need you to vote for me –delete!

This is the paraplegic parachutist society please give us money-delete!

This is your mother why do you never call?

Hello this is Mrs. Smith and I need a quote for….Ha-ha my interest is peaked! Somebody somewhere is desperate to give me some money and of course, being a greedy capitalistic bastard, I am only too eager to please.

I scrape marmalade across my toast, slurp my tea and press the numbers entrusted to me and suddenly the disembodied voice on the machine becomes a full fleshed middle aged woman from somewhere back East; a snowbird returning to warmer climes, escaping the inundation of winter back home.

“Yes I called for a quote.”

I pose the usual, easy-to-answer questions which always seem to cause such consternation and proceed with my interrogation. It’s not exactly a cold grey dank Colditz cell however I sometimes feel a little like a uniformed interrogator, death head runes on my collar, pressing downed airmen for vital information.

“Schnell Schnell, tell me where you hide your secret what-you-ma-call- its, you Yankee schweinhund!”

My victim is easily vanquished and spills her guts without any further prompting. Rather disappointedly no coshing or corporal punishment is required. Too easy; in fact it seems the prisoner wishes to impart more than I need to know.

“I need my windows cleaned-my screens removed-but only on the left side not the ride side-I mean the eastern wall not the southern- but only downstairs not upstairs-yes of course the inside and the outside-and the bug screens naturally! Would I be careful of her dog, cat, goldfish, and husband’s credit card collection-do I have references – don’t forget the tracks-and how long do I think this will take?”

My head spins with client demands and I peel off my practiced answers one at a time. Having done this for so many years, it’s easy to get a feel for the customer and generally a woman with these kinds of perfectionist expectations means only one thing.


The phrase, “I am a perfectionist,” once uttered can never be taken back; a verbal Pandora’s Box!

Bells ring and red flags flap. It’s time to haul up the sails and swing the rudder to starboard in order to avoid the needle-sharp rocks of commercial disaster. Too much work for too little money. I make my decision; quote some impossible amount that only a lunatic would pay, in the hope of scaring her off and wait. The telephone goes silent, the seconds tick by before the faltering voice comes back on the line.

“Really, that much? Somebody else quoted me such and such”……the probe of financial fortitude. Will I hold or will I fold under the strain as the customer tries to gain the upper hand? I consider briefly, imagine the hell to which I am about to commit myself and decide to take the path more frequently travelled.

“Well I suggest madam that you go with that first quote, as clearly it sounds like a lot of work.”

“Have a great day, happy New Year etc. etc.”


Mrs.Smith’s neighbors thought she was foolish to try the tripple salto with a half flip from her window ledge.


The phone clicks. I pick up my tea, crunch down on my marmalade and imagine that somewhere in another place of business a phone is ringing. Some poor unsuspecting unfortunate is about to engage himself in a monumental task for very little financial gain, complete with mucho heart ache and a factor of ten in the pain in the arse stakes!

It bothers me not, knowing that somewhere out there in window cleaning land I have managed to avoid another self proclaimed perfectionist. I open the paper and sit back to wait for the next willing victim to dial my digits.


26 Dec



I hunker down between the folds of the couch, the crash of crockery and banging of pans resonating off my floral printed palisades, and pray for the next twenty four hours to pass as quickly as possible. Like artillery shells falling on a Somme trench there is little I can do to protect myself from the friendly fire of Christmas preparation. The horrors already experienced are nothing compared to the human assault which even now is pounding on my front door. I brace myself for the attack, check the batteries in the remote control (the television, my last line of defense), and pretend to ignore the creeping barrage. The thuds begin again and I cringe and shake; the tremors in my left hand betraying my abject cowardice, my right eye twitching uncontrollably. After weeks of softening up, the preliminary probing of the enemy conducted via telephonic exchange and the miracle of the web, expectation is great. The build up to these familial battles is always a stressful time. It’s not so much the fighting, it’s the waiting, the not knowing; the uncertainty of a fresh campaign. We had hoped it would be all over by Christmas however it would seem that Christmas is only the beginning.

Defensive fairy-lights have been strung, and silver streamers hang around the house like concertinaed barbed wire. Colored baubles and kid-cut snowflakes hang from everything in remembrance of soldier’s superstition. There is only so much I can do to escape my fate. If my rifle and bayonet can’t save me then maybe the Christmas angel can. The winter barrage has been sustained for nearly a month now, the cacophony of jingling bells and chorused carols screaming their mayhem and crashing devastation through our radios and television sets. Weeks of preparation have gone into what has become the annual festive campaign. Having failed to learn lessons from holidays past we must stupidly repeat the mistakes of Christmases long long ago.

Outside the weather has closed in and snow hides the shell holes in the back yard, blanketing the unkempt battlefield in a pristine mantel of white. Birds hop between the bushes, foraging for the red berries neglected by Mother Nature’s bitter frost. There is a kinship, as like beasts, we too are subjects of King Winter and don’t dare to venture into the no-man’s-land of ice and snow. Luckily we have stocked up on provisions and it would be fair to say that we have enough food in the bunker to feed an army. Family members who only days before were morose and anxious are now filled with the joy of Christmas, careless of the coming battle. Thoughts of better times and home baked goodness fill the waiting hours and detract us from what still must be achieved. Once the whistle is blown there will be no choices left and we will be forced to fulfill our duty. For god, King, and country we must grab ourselves by the Christmas balls and go over the top.

 There it goes again, the clanging chimes of doom of the front door. I look at the willing victims laid out in the bottom of the trench in front of the television; poor innocents who know not what they are about to receive. Eager as new recruits to prove themselves they have already dressed and are ready for the quagmire of Christmas. Having donned their waterproof slippers and clad in Sponge Bob and Disney pajama fatigues, they can’t wait for the battle to begin. My sergeant calls my name from the kitchen, where even now she is putting the finishing touches to the victory feast. Enough food to feed a small African nation has been prepared and paraded for those who can drag themselves away from the horror of Christmas morning television. The Santa Clause automaton on top of the fridge starts to chime. The sharp campanology of machine gun bullets whistle and shriek around me and I know that death is on hand.

Why me, why now, why not them?

The sergeant bellows again and I am forced to accept the duty placed upon me, just as I accepted the King’s chocolate shilling all those Christmases again. I reach up from the parapet and, grabbing the wooden ladder of will, pull myself up from the couch.

Go. Go. Go!

Clasping my can of beer in one hand I grit my teeth and emerge from the trench into the wintery wilderness. I see my objective in the distance, focus myself, and make my way towards the front door. It’s no use skulking behind the furniture as the compressed wood from Ikea offers little protection. I press forward slipping and sliding on the wooden floor as my socks struggle to grip the puddled morass of my suburban Flanders fields, through the branches of the Christmas tree and past the plastic snowman. I stab in his general direction and he goes down in a fizz of sparks and a fart of expelled air. Just a few more yards and it will all be over.

The bell knells its persistent diabolical dirge as the thump-thump of hand artillery smashes onto wooden panels. Why me god, why me? I have so much to live for! With one last super human effort I unbolt the latch, flick the catch, and swing open the final obstacle.

Light floods into the darkened spaces. Perhaps this is it, perhaps this is my final journey, the peace I have been waiting for – the outer-body experience we have all tried to believe in, the expectation of an afterlife proven through the revelation of day-time chat shows. No such luck!

There they stand, the enemy; armed to the teeth with festive good will and fake store bought cheer. Clearly their advance was successful and we stand together on this field of Elysium.

 Eye to eye, cheek to cheek, jowl to jowl.

I move in for close combat, thrusting my hand forward. The enemy counters, blocks my attack and grasps my hand in a practiced pincer movement. I try to hide the look of horror in my eyes and deceive myself that death will be quick and painless.

Death by Christmas; the in-laws have arrived!


23 Dec

The Duran-Duran marathon was not going well… 


The blood seeps from my ears as the whining inside the vehicle reaches critical mass. The telex on the dashboard spits out sheaves of graph paper indicating that the back seat complaints have actually registered on the Richter scale. Panic sets in. I can either endure the cacophony of growling stomachs and the crunch of gums in empty mouths or carry on regardless. Despite being the heartless bastard that I am, I acquiesce and indicate to the survivors of the biblical famine in the back of the car that we will make a stop at the very next opportunity. After the necessary ungrateful grunts silence ensues. The diminutive masses have been silenced by my rash promise of food and drink. The Prols may have had their demands met however the peasants are still revolting (I blame their mother’s genes!)

I look in the mirror at the two well-fed waifs behind me floating in a sea of forgotten candy wrappers, surrounded by discarded chip packets and empty cola bottles. One of the kid’s telephones lays discarded on the seat with the half dialed number to the Child Protection Agency still visible on its luminous screen. Lucky for me that I caved to their demands so promptly! Imminent incarceration by the Kiddy- police has been narrowly avoided. Arbitration at the point of a child’s will. Plugged back into their APPLE life support systems they lounge back in their seats, eager to partake in whatever victuals the next stop provides. Poor babies!


Having tried cigarettes and cigars Billy was keen to smoke something different…


After twenty seconds of perfect silence, the hum of discontent stats to buzz once again. Fortunately I have just passed a sign advertising the world’s largest, juiciest burger at an inconceivably low price; that and the chance to try my luck at the loosest slots in the land. Praise be to the happy hunting gods. I have entered Indian country and there is a last chance casino on my horizon. An oasis of plenty in a wilderness of absolutely nothing; cheap gas, cheap food, and even cheaper thrills. The kids see the sign and indicate vociferously that that is where we need to go. Like I have any other choice? It’s either the casino or I continue on to the next stop which I know the children will never survive. A slow lingering death from starvation or more likely a speedy demise through the laying on of patience- stretched hands.


Pilsbury Pornboy was eager to prove he had the balls to do a full page spread…


The upside to xenophobic genocide in the Americas is that the indigenous populations have built their wealth in the most incongruous of locations. That means, especially here in the South West, you can be in the middle of nowhere and yet still be within drivable distance of the casinos. Thinking to purge the red man from the plain states the murderous white bastards inadvertently helped benefit both him and the tribal nations. One of those classic, uncalculated, effects of mis-construed racial purification and ethnic cleansing. I for one am grateful and despite the hundreds of thousands who were killed am happy that it all worked out for the best in the end!

We park the car and in a last desperate rush of energy Jake and Sophia make a run for the casino doors. If they make it through the glass doors they will survive. If not they will slowly desiccate on the tarmac of the parking area. One can only wish them luck and hope that their incalculable sugar reserves will allow them to propel themselves into the safe environs of the Lucky Wigwam Casino resort.

Praise the gods, they have made it! The wife and I wander in behind them grateful that our off spring will survive even if we don’t.

Once inside we are bombarded with the crash of slot machines, the flash of lights and the jangle of soundtrack generated cash windfalls pouring from ceiling speakers. I glance up at the myriad cameras which hover over us like watchful CIA drones. Even now strange eyes are checking me out in darkened screening rooms; zooming in on my porcelain skin, electric smile and ocean blue eyes. Lucky bastards, no doubt I have just made their day! It would appear that even the most mundane of jobs has its perks.

Vladamir was ecstatic to be seated next to the winner of the gravitationally-challeneged poker championships…


In front of me is a line of seniors that stretches all the way around the outside of the casino. I curse audibly as I am desperate to use the facilities and relieve myself of the liquid baggage I have been costering for the last couple of hours. I find it a little hard to understand why the line is so long. Given the law of averages at least half of the walking dead in front of me have been kitted out with colostomy bags, so why are they waiting for the loo?


Although putting on a brave face, George was defenseless against Mary’s kung fu nipple grip…


On closer inspection I realize that the head of the line is stopped at the rewards desk. Free food, half priced this and nearly free that. The coffin dodgers in front of me have not survived for thousands of years without developing the sixth sense necessary to sniff out a deal. The car park is filled with tour buses, some from Canada of all places, and spewed their contents into the Lucky Wigwam. I attempt to push my way through the potentially lucky however the obstacles created by walking frames and mobility scooters create a state-side Maginot Line. Canes and steel prosthetics plus the attentions of a toothless blue haired demon cause me to rethink my strategy and change direction.

Having extricated myself from the ravages of the living dead I spy my hungry family by the grill. Unable to contain themselves the kids have already started to suck the ketchup out of the plastic packets and snort sugar through straws. I decide I had better get there quickly or there will be nothing left for the skeletal hoards around me who are clearly more in need of nourishment than my starving minions.

Focused on the slot machine, Dorris never saw Majorie’s super-wedgy attack coming….


I follow the arrows on the plush red and gold carpet that direct me to where ever it is that the Chief wants me to go. Luckily I end up at the grill area and not at the roulette table. A spontaneous decision to try my luck by placing everything I have on black could have proven fateful.

I make it to the grill and like Robinson Crusoe finding footprints in the sand, I spy the menu.

It’s burger time.



21 Dec



After his success with the bread and fish, Jesus thought he would try his hand at New York traffic….


The traffic lights finally turn green and a battered white car, entering the junction from the left, tries to force its way into the grid locked traffic. After waiting patiently for at least twenty nano-seconds the insurgent decides that it’s his god given right to take his place at the front of the queue, even though everyone else has stood in line for what seems like days. Quite an easy assumption to make if you are an ignorant bastard; as the wanker in the car in front of me clearly is! As he imposes his will upon the already assembled, his bumper stickers come into view. Of course he is a bloody Christian and a proud American, his allegiances easily identifiable by his collage of made-in-China sun faded stickers. Clearly the patriotic zealot, unlike everybody else, is desperate to reach whatever destination the lord has chosen for him.

 The new inner city Rubik’s cube was going to be a bitch to solve…


Horns blast, piss boils and tempers fray as road rage rears its ugly head.   

Suddenly it happens as it always does! A window is wound down and from behind tinted glass the face of tribal dissatisfaction appears. Luckily having attended classes at the Helen Keller School of Linguistics I am able to read the lips of the two inaudible combatants in front of me. Peering through my bug-encrusted windscreen I struggle to translate the urgent conversation between flailing arms and shaken fists. Something to the effect that he loves his mother in the Biblical sense, that he needs to go away and procreate, and something about being a pathetic self-abuser.


The Queen wasn’t going to take any more of Charles’ shit……


Shameless, and at this time of year as well! Whatever happened to brotherly love? Oh, there it is! Apparently the guy in the car in front of me is also a lover of men; so I guess that clears that up!


Windows slide back into position and tempers cool. The memory of the altercation is lost in the smell of burnt rubber as the white car speeds away from the junction, personal dignity and Christian values still intact. The lights switch and once again we are forced to endure the purgatory of interminable redness.


After years of abuse Norman had to accept that he was giant handed four fingered freak….


Although road rage is common enough my own personal phobia is the highway stalker; that lone, unshakeable vehicle that just won’t shift out of the rear view mirror. Despite exits and gas stations, rest stops and pee breaks, the stalker remains pinned to your tail, no matter how many miles or how long you drive.


Passing the picturesque slum of Yuma, heading in the general direction of Mexicali and Calexico (I am not making this crap up…) I happen to notice a white truck in my rear view mirror. Nothing unusual about that! Just another random traveler, burning the necessary hydrocarbons on a personal journey to nowhere. I quickly forget him, turn up the radio, take another sip of sugar, and carry on. The family sleeps peacefully. It’s just me and the Mariachi hero blaring from the speakers. There is something about bass guitar accompanied by a complete brass section that puts a body at ease. The hours pass and after consuming everything in sight, along with countless miles, I notice the truck is still in my rear view mirror.


Unable to master the trumpet, Anna decided just to shake her maracas…. 

 I speed up and watch as the image remains constant. I slow down and nothing changes. Flashbacks from The Hitcher movie, and remembered images of Rutger Hauer’s bloodied blade race through my mind. Anxiety complexes and innate irrationality dog my thoughts. I stare at the truck with the invisible driver and feel the hatred course between our vehicles. The unknown stalker and the bored out of his wits fantasist locked in a battle of hysterical imagination. 

 Alright Mother-fucker if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get! 

I boot the accelerator and watch the needle rise above ninety. The truck behind me slowly disappears. Feeling slightly more comfortable I ease off the gas and go back to the music. The needle drops below eighty and before you know it there he is again; undaunted by my show of speed or my superior defensive driving technique. Clearly he thinks he is in my league.


Screw him!


Darth was pissed with his Walmart light sabre…


I hit the gas again, determined to ditch my unwanted follower, my foot solid to the floor. Miles disappear beneath my wheels and a sense of calm once again envelops me. Absorbed in my musical Mexican bonanza, I unwittingly slow down, unaware that the silent assassin is gaining ground and slowly creeping up on me. I only realize he is there when his vehicle looms large in my mirror, the blurred image of truck as it races by me. I stare through the tinted glass unable to perceive the driver. I know he is there. I can feel him, smell him; oh yes, I know his game!


I drop a gear and for the next twenty miles we play highway tag. First I lead and then he; a dance of pole positions as we overtake each other every five miles or so. Enough is enough! My paranoia takes over and I pull out of my lane and draw alongside him.


I roll down my window, the air pressure chattering my teeth and driving my eyelids into my forehead. My jowls wobble and flap uncontrollably and I stare skull-like into the blackness of the cab. I know he sees me even if I can’t see him. I flip my finger, mouth an obscenity, raise my window, and take the very next exit. Stopping the car, I rejoice in the thrill of battle, the sweat of post-traumatic stress coursing down my spine.

Denise was surprised to discover that her new date from was hung like a baboon….


That was close; that very nearly happened!


I pull myself together and reflect on the number of creeps and weirdos that abound in these modern times. I check my mirror and gun the engine. Hopefully the rest of the journey will be less eventful.

V.W. TO YUMA……..

20 Dec



Screaming down the open highway at what isn’t even close to the speed limit, I feel as free as a bird. My wings are spread as I soar and swoop regardless of the world and its woes beneath me. Life is filled with burgeoning opportunity and I’m wearing sunglasses because my future is so bloody bright.

The smell of the engine blows through the air vents accosting my nostrils whilst some inane pop-crap on the radio melts my brain. The kids are playing up on the back seat and I’ve been whistling the same tune for the last fifty miles as the local Spanish language radio station only appears to have two records in their entire discography; Mucho Mariachi part three and the Hernandez family with their 100 greatest trombone riffs of all time. Not so much culture shock, more a lack of!  All the while the battle of the back seat is in full swing; blows and insults exchanged over bubble gum rights and side-of-the-vehicle property conflicts. A Kodak moment if ever there was one.

 The wife is asleep and I am left to deal with the internal struggles of the minor former east bloc nation revolting behind me, forced to arbitrate over such burning issues as.

 “Is the arm rest in the centre of the back seat truly the line of demarcation, or has it shifted by 15 degrees due to the Christmas effect on magnetic north?”


Luckily the Smurf’s were on hand to save the day….


 After a few calming words, the intervention of the United Nations and a multilateral peace keeping force to assist with the enforced insertion of ear buds, both antagonists disappear into Apple-land, and I am once again left to myself. The wife snores rhythmically beside me as field after field of absolutely nothing whizzes by. They may have written a book and produced a movie about a train to Yuma however, believe me that’s about as exciting as it gets. The fact that Yuma is used as a bombing range by anybody and everybody with an aeroplane and a bomb should tell you enough. If not the arm pit of the world it is definitely reminiscent of the flabby bit by the bicep! Vistas of rock and dirt, interspersed with vistas of rock and dirt; the Grand Canyon state at its very finest. I pass cars driven by fellow zombies and wonder how they are holding up to the onslaught of family and abject boredom.

I look up as a brief item of interest flashes by. As far as the eye can see there are fields filled with sheep. Thousands of the furry little buggers! Now, this isn’t interesting in the biblical sense, simply strange. I haven’t seen anything representative of life for the past two hundred miles.



The sheep could only stand and watch as shepherd John fondled his crook… 

Ah sheep, wondrous beasties that they are. I question the reason for them being there, as lamb isn’t exactly on every menu in every restaurant. I decide its quid pro quo. The cartels send us drugs and we send them sheep. Whole populations addicted to the taste of mutton and the soft feel of wool against their skin. No wonder they are outlawed south of the border! One can barely imagine the destruction the white four legged scourge must reap on southern society. Truckloads of pills and powder make their way across the border everyday to poison American neighborhood s and to enslave the weak. Using their obvious hiding places of petrol tanks, roof liners and body cavities to smuggle their deadly cargo hoards of Mexicans surge daily across the desert. Quite cleverly on the northern side smugglers simply walk their contraband across the border and nobody is any the wiser. Absolutely fiendish; worthy of the genius that this great nation was founded on.


The expense incurred both financially and morally by local governments in their attempts to educate the populous on the dangers of snorting sheep and smoking lamb is astronomical. Wooly madness portrayed in black and white movies and shown to cowed audiences in school halls across Mexico.

Just one taste and you will be hooked for life. Just say Baa!

 The monotone voice goes on to list the evils of the four legged creature as grainy images of diabolical farmyard abuse are forced into young impressionable minds. A dinner table appears with what would appear to be a happy nuclear family sitting together; the epitome of familial bliss about to tuck into Sunday lunch. All the kids are church-dressed and freshly showered; mother has a ribbon in her hair and wears a pristine apron, whilst father surveys the idyllic scene over horn rimmed glasses. The vegetables are handed out and dishes are passed from hand to hand. The wine is poured and the auspicious meat carving moment has arrived. Father picks up the twelve inch blade and with Psychoesque methodology rasps the edge against a steele. The time has come and the stainless silver cover is raised from the meat dish. Steam fills the screen and the imagined opiate of freshly roasted meat wafts from the speakers.


After hours of beating, John’s meat just fell apart in your mouth…


 The clouds clear and the cameras pans closer to the dish. It is only then we realize the true horror before us.



At the time, the viking helmets had seemed like a good compromise…


Mother screams and pulls at her hair, Pedro and Matilda run for the door as father looks desperately into the camera lens. The meaty steam condenses on his glasses and the open mouthed camera shot reveals the finest in Mexican dentistry.

 Its lamb its bloody lamb, run for your lives, run for the border, save yourselves!

 Run, run! Go north young man where you will be saved, educated, medicated, and facilitated with social housing.

The horror of the sheep can only be wondered at. We should think ourselves lucky that the four legged beast isn’t the addiction of choice north of the border. By contrast crack cocaine, heroine and those little pills with the happy faces on, are a walk in the park.

Beware the sheep my friends, beware the sheep! Do not succumb to its fluffy cuteness nor to its marvelous taste. Be strong, stand tall and resist temptation.

Just say no to sheep!


Samantha looked coily over her shoulder;she knew how Daddy liked it…..


Suddenly the border wars break out in Back-seat-istan and I am forced to administer a tactical blow in order to silence the natives. Unfortunately my surgical strike knocks the wife who is now suffering from collateral abrasions. Released from her dream state she joins the melee of abuse and thrashing limbs. I don my helmet, tighten my flak jacket, and hunker down in preparation of the coming assault.

 Only two hundred miles to go before San Diego……just two hundred miles!


19 Dec


Colin.R.James 2010


Zipping up his trousers John reached over to wipe the sticky mess from his fingers. He was a three-a-day man and considering it was only 10 o’clock in the morning he had already beaten his personal best! Nothing like a bit of lesbian porn to get the motor running!  Finished with the tissue he screwed it into a ball and threw it with practiced precision into the waste paper basket by the television overflowing with the lost lives of millions. He searched under the stained cushions for the remote control and pressed pause, preserving his moment of ecstasy forever, the girl in the nurse’s uniform frozen in mid stroke. He shivered. It was getting cold in the mornings and he reached for the discarded t-shirt. Experience had taught him that his quotidian exercises always left him hot and sweaty; it was wise to disrobe before getting too emotionally involved.

Rolling off the couch, he landed on the detritus of a week’s worth of curry containers, empty beer bottles and the accumulated collection of personal DNA worthy of Guinness Book recognition. Scratching his arse and farting, he shoved his feet into the toe less slippers, his yellow nails accenting the blue of the terry toweling, and shuffled his way into the kitchen. Starving to death as he was, having eaten nothing since the previous evening, he was barely able to contain his enthusiasm, keen to discover what the cornucopia-of-crap had to offer.

Standing in front of the open refrigerator the soft electric light broke over his matted hair, shadowing his copious folds. Like an impressionist painting of the Tuscan hills he was for the briefest of moments a joy to behold. The Etruscan scene was broken by the loud rasping sound of flatulence curling around his arse cheeks as it made a break for freedom.  Sniffing at what passed for personality, his scum covered lips curled in a hideous smile, recognizing the aroma of curries past. Loved his chilies did John however, they didn’t reciprocate. Although Gandhi continued to exact his revenge nothing could deter him from reinitiating the cycle every time he passed the curry-house down the High street.

“Vindaloo as hot as you can make it, and don’t spare the bloody poppadoms!”

They knew him well in the restaurant; ever since he had taken the job down at the local shopping center. He had become a regular figure and his persistent orders of the same arse-burning-shite meant that they had quickly come to know him.

 “How are you today sir? Did you have a busy day sir? See you tomorrow sir…Merry Christmas Sir!

His red bleary eyes stared into the cavern that was the fridge, the mold on the inside accentuating its grotto like qualities. Miniature stalagmites hung from the now opaque glass shelves, the cure for cancer secreting itself behind an overgrown yogurt pot. Like the Holy Grail, the tin foil containers with the remnants of last night’s feast shimmered in its own heat haze. Gratified by its presence he reached in and grabbed it greedily.

Let the feast begin, nothing like left over curry, it was always better the second day anyway!

Before he could complete his quest he felt the familiarchurning in his belly and slammed the door quickly. Kicking over half filed beer bottles and stampeding over crushed pizza boxes he ran, or rather waddled, as fast as he could to the bathroom. Barely having time to rip down his already christened underpants the pyroclastic blast breached and splattered the pan. With a great sigh of relief he sat in reverence enjoying the peace that the sweet release bought him.

His office, as he liked to call it, was strewn with magazines and empty cardboard toilet roles. The floor barely visible from where they had been dropped and discarded and left for dead. The girlie magazines on the floor were damp from where he had splashed; never having lived with a woman, standing to piss was a matter of habit rather than choice. Lurking over the pot, loosely aiming in the general direction of the empty toilet freshener, he managed to get most of it in most of the time. The toilet brush, still pristine in its shop bought plastic, stood like a monument to forgotten hygiene. What the hell, it didn’t matter, it was just him!


Dragging the paper across his hairy arse he inspected it briefly before discarding it and reaching for the next sheet. Like an automaton he repeated the process until he was nearly clean. Good shade this morning, obviously the curry house had upped their game! John enjoyed a challenge and clearly the chef at the Taj Mahal enjoyed his work.

He flushed and turned to watch the cyclone of crap disappear down the bend, the gurgle of brown water and wet paper slapped porcelain bearing testament to his passing. Sniffing his fingers and scratching his nuts he pulled up his pants. Catching sight of his watch he cursed; he was going to be late to work if he didn’t get his backside in gear. He knew that he shouldn’t have committed to that last five-fingered-shuffle, now he was going to be late, he’d been warned twice already! Never mind the shower that would have to wait until tonight, as would the toothpaste and the hairbrush. There was no time!

Walking over to the table where he had left his work clothes from the previous evening he began to dress. Luckily the uniform they had provided for him was nice and warm and given the horrible grey snow sprinkled December day he was going to need it. It wasn’t too bad, and to be honest it was as though it had been tailored for him. The large red jacket fitted him perfectly as did the huge blousy trousers. It was just the black boots he hated; they bit into his bunions and made his feet sweat.

He ran for the door, stopped, remembered, and returned to the table.


He had nearly forgotten the white beard! The manager would burst a blood vessel, what was Santa Claus without his beard?


19 Dec


C.R.JAMES 2010


          “Seems like a hundred years ago now, running down the High street with the rest of the lads, leap-frogging our way down to the recruiters station. The excitement and sense of impending adventure defining our life’s purpose. I remember men and women standing in the streets cheering, waving their miniature Union Jacks, every one a brother. There were no strangers in the town that day, everybody knew somebody who was joining up, or someone who had already joined; the king’s shilling making kith and kin of us all. But that was back then, back home in Blighty. That was when we were just playing at war, rehearsing at being soldiers, perfecting our bayonet lunges, parodying pain.”

          The shell arced across no-mans-land, high above the wire and into the sky, exploding above the trenches and drenching the subterranean world of the trench fighters in cold green light. Men shielded their eyes, putting a hand over one to protect their night vision, the way they had been taught at the depot, before shipping out to France.

           “God, how we used to complain. The sergeant had been right, we never had it so bloody good. The whining was never ending; the beds were either too hard, the food rotten, liberty on Fridays nights too short, the cost of a pint and the effort it took to kiss the pretty girls too much. Everything was a chore, an effort, everything took too bloody long. Life was for living and we were ready to live in the here and now, not the bloody future, not tomorrow, but now! We were ready; ready to shed our boyish ways and take up our manly responsibilities. Too eager by far to enjoy the warm beer at the bars, the frantic clinches in dark alleys, the jangle of shillings in our pockets; looking back of course it don’t seem so bad!


          The flare dangled in the sky, the dark trail of smoke clearly visible against its luminescence, drifting slowly to the ground, slipping through the air on the tiny parachute holding it aloft. As the flare fell the shadows became longer, the largess of no mans land reduced to pockets of pooled light and deep shadows. The flare fizzed as it extinguished itself in the puddled morass, the light still visible to the cycloptic watchers, the image burned deep into their retina.

         “But that was then, a  lifetime ago when basic training had been a game and Army issued passes meant weekend freedom; steam trains to distant nowheres to see friends and family before the great leap forward into France. God, that train took forever; stopping at every cattle call and whistle stop along the way! Took an age to cover the fifty miles from camp back to our village. We would play cards or chat up one of the lasses, anything to kill the boredom. Manys the time we would get off the train with a couple of extra quid in our pocket, lady luck having flashed her lovely smile. Wasn’t always the case though, and sometimes you would have to borrow a couple of shillings from father till payday with some old flannel about paying him back later.”


          Men who had remained still when the flare hung high began to move around the trench. It was dangerous to move about when the flares were lit, the briefest of movements eliciting the whine of bullets from the darkness beyond. Time had slowed down, life had come to a mud sucking halt, the joy of spring recruitment, now dead and buried in the fields of France. The young who had given up their youth, shambling like old ragged beggars as they shuffled out their existence in the shit where a day could last a week, a minute an entire lifetime.

          “You know what? Right now I could really go for a pint of warm beer. I often find myself between attacks and barrages sitting on that train, in my imagination of course…, back to our village, hoping that the journey back home takes just a little longer. Lounging back on those big horse hair cushions, no longer wishing life away, just enjoying the slow pull and push of steam, the corn in the fields, the smiles of the pretty girls.”

          Somewhere in the distance an anonymous machine gun opens up, the mechanical chatter sowing death and injury on a random trench filled with unknown faces. The bullets splashing mud and blood, the dead and dying dropping to the floor, the taste of muck in mouths, the smell of cordite in nostrils. Arse-clenching- piss-yourself-fear seizing those still able to remember better days.


19 Dec


Colin.r.james 2010


The cloud of hairspray mingled with the residual steam from the shower and condensed on the bathroom cabinet; the specter of passion red lips barely perceptible through the hand smeared glass. An aroma of expensive soap and beyond-advertized-expectation perfume hung in the air, energizing the senses, promising an evening of as yet unrequited pleasure.

The bedroom was lit with candles, incense and possibility. Although crumpled, the bed served adequately to showcase the little black dress, the seamed sheer stockings, six inch heels and silver necklace. Everything had been laid out perfectly in preparation of the evening to come. Mirrors had been flirted with, a fashion show of dresses and skirts paraded in front of its unforgiving eye. Backwards glances had been cast to judge figure hugging lingerie and long lacquered nails had fumbled with leather straps and dithered over ridiculously small jewelry clasps.

Finally a decision had been made, not that the decision couldn’t be altered and prerogative exercised! After the requisite amount of indecision over neckline and hem, there was just time enough for the necessary preening. The act before the act, the scene setting and chorus of a dance hall diva.

The dance had been announced weeks before. A new club, advertized in bold text and garish colors, was opening up in the high street and was the talk of the town. There hadn’t been a dance club since the Roxy had been burned down back in ‘76. Promises of chandeliered excellence and champagne decadence; finally somewhere to exercise permissive social intercourse and showcase ones inner celebrity.



The invitation had been accepted and the date finalized. After a week of furtive telephone conversations and car-parked rendezvous the mettle had been struck, the decision to go hammered out and carved in stone. Excitement had filled the days leading up to the Friday in question. An auspicious occasion at the end of any working week, however on this particular week, a scarlet lettered day indeed.

Plucked, preened shaved and quaffed the flower of womanhood stared back from the looking glass. Dark charcoaled eyes and rouged cheeks simpered back from behind caged lashes; Mary Kayed perfection with a hint of Avon class! Still glowing from the warmth of the shower, the touch of silk stockings against freshly shaved legs was electric. The rustle of the dress as it draped down over designer store panties; the cotton hem brushing naked thighs, circumferenced by fish-netted elegance. A Friday night princess in all but name, but a Friday night princess just the same.

Above the sound of the record player, the doorbell clarioned its impatient demand. A deft flick of the curtain revealed a shadowy figure outside the front door; smoke rising up from orange embers. The lights from the still running car were reflected in the rain puddled street, the exhaust gasses cascading across the cobbles, misting the road.

 It was time.

A week’s worth of trepidation expired; the moment was here, the moment was now. Turning back one last time to view his sleek silhouette in the mirror he smiled satisfied. This was going to be a night to remember.

The weather outside is frightful…..

14 Dec


Peter regretted the cold dip and the fact that his penis was gone forever….


The pounding of nails being hammered into wood is deafening as is the crash of shuttering windows and slamming doors. People run through streets dragging young children and infirm relatives behind them. Tasks of great importance go untended, and public works projects sit idle at the impending news.

¡Los ingleses vienen, los ingleses vienen! (gracias Paul!!)

That’s right the James family is going to San Diego!

Four days of sun, sand, and whatever else they have that begins with the letter S; plus all the other letters in between for that matter. A welcome break from the tropical heat of Phoenix, a sweet release from the burgeoning temperatures of mid-December sun shine. Whilst England struggles through the worst snow storm for decades and people croak shoveling snow in the mid-west, we continue to bask in sub-tropical temperatures. Some would say we have it made although to be honest here in Arizona we have to endure hardships too! The pool for instance is a little frosty and so there’s no swimming until at least the month of May. Who wants to jump into pool water that is less than 80C? To add to this we can no longer sit comfortably outside of an evening and are forced to wear a minimum of two t-shirts and possibly two socks as well. The number is of course arbitrary and dependent upon the fortitude of the individual concerned.

 Roger and Sebastian agreed there was nothing quite like snow-balls


Britain is expecting another eight inches of snow, plus sub-zero temperatures for the foreseeable future. Although potentially disastrous, one has to take into account the veracityof the British Meteorological Institute, and so realistically they are probably in for balmy weather with sunny showers! The last time they predicted the weather correctly was when they accidentally called for light rain just before Noah launched his ark. Although not indifferent to the freezing European temperatures, I am more concerned with the strength of the morning sun and adjust my shades accordingly. What is really alarming are the predicted deaths. Thousands of people are expected to perish during the coming cold snap, Siberian winter , ice age; choose your terminology. Britain hasn’t been this cold since the earlier 1960s and to be honest I am struggling to melt the icicles around my own heart so I can feel pity.

Tommy and Susan found out the  hard way that super-gluing their hands to the car was not as funny as it had first seemed…. 


Even now as I misspell, people are laying prostrate on beaches in California complaining that their drinks aren’t cold enough and that the ice is melting to0 quickly in their cocktails. Blazing sunshine is beating down on solar worshippers, blistering their bums and irradiating their flesh. Sounds like heaven to me. If there is a god then he is currently wintering in the south west of the U.S.

Spoke to relatives back home in England the other day that daren’t go out for fear of falling and breaking wind, a hip, or some other appendage. Cars remain locked in garages as snow is something that the islanders have never had to deal with in the past and so the notion of snow tires has never crossed their frost bitten minds. Although Christmas card idyllic, memories of Christmases of long, long ago are coming home to roost; a classic case of being careful for what you wish. The winter bitch-fest decrying the lack of snow at Christmas and the abject detestation of cold grey December days is a distant memory. Well there it is people! Fill thy boots with holly and race naked through the snow. Make hay while the sun doesn’t shine or something to that effect.

Upon emerging Pedro realized that they had dug the drugs tunnel a little too far…


I love reading the comments in the Daily Mail (the non-thinking man’s newspaper. from people who survived whichever catastrophe de jour that is being reported. The people who remember walking up hill to and from school in shoes made from barbed wire in total blackness in the middle of the day. True stories if you choose to believe the swarthy veterans who remember when it was colder than a witch’s tit, when the frost was emasculating brass monkeys and water was as hard as made in china steel. Invaluable advise such as wearing socks over your shoes to protect you from the elements , covering your body in whale grease to ward of the cold. I can just see myself headed off to Walgreens for a liter of whale grease and a pound of blubber; but there again maybe not.

The house-wife down hill ironing board olympic event was a huge success…

The BBC recycles useless information on how to survive the Blitz, cold, global warming, influx of Poles. (Check as appropriate.)Nameless faces quote auto queues in the hope of informing their frozen public.

And here is the weather for the next 24 hours…..

Lashings of snow and subzero temperatures are expected throughout the U.K, accompanied by freezing seas and searing Siberian winds. The public are advised to burn supplementary relatives and everything else they hold dear in order to keep warm. Citizens of Britain should be aware of falling frozen birds, and homeless people; who may be considered trip hazards once they freeze inside their plastic blankets. The government advises a stiff upper lip, some good old fashioned Britishness , a round of cheery war time music, and to remain calm when the air raid siren sounds.

We never had it so good.


Helsinki suffers this kind of weather every single year and yet the roads remain open, the airports fit for traffic and their public safe; a simple case of investing in what’s necessary. Funnily enough Finland doesn’t have any aircraft carrier groups, a nuclear deterrent or financial malfeasance. What is does have are some of the best schools, medical facilities and social services anywhere in the world.

“Yes but they’re socialists!” I hear you cry. “They’re taxed to high heaven and their government is in charge of everything.”

 Not so much when you consider that we have a situation in England where no matter what we vote for our choices have already been made for us. Another war of Empirical conquest or a system which actually produces satisfied citizens and snow free roads; so hard to choose!

 Svetlana’s  poor command of English had taken the ice-ho in ice-hockey to a different level…


I dither over my choice of shorts as no doubt being in San Diego for a couple of days I will have to fit in with the locals. Dark glasses, sombrero hast, Spanish accent and open toe sandals. Not a jar of whale grease in site.

 I am ready. San Diego lock up your bier kellers!