Thursday, December 27, 2007
Mrs Boyo has just fastened name tags to my clothing, as we're off on our annual pilgrimage to Ukraine - the touristic delights of which are carolled here.
Back on 5th January, so have yourselves a lively time over the New Year. I'll be somewhere on Maydan Nezalezhnosti or arm-wrestling Kolya Lektryk for the return of my trousers as usual.
In the meantime, here's some more of the thoughts of Capt Deakin on the rainbow nations of the North-West Frontier:
... could mimic a bassoon at 100 yds by straining slightly for
weeks thereafter. I could not have imagined such horrors those
few months ago as I was summoned into the Govnr's State Rooms
in Peshawar, even though I was not expecting thepleasantest of
"I'm innocent, Sir! The native girl was sick; she would have
died anyway," I said by way of greeting, after the G's curt
"Desist, Capt. Deakin. I have no wish to trawl deeper through
the sump of degeneracy that is your personal contribution to
the White Man's Burden." The G pointed wearily at a large
area of the Punjab, coloured crimson on his campaign map. "The
main chieftains of the area have been appeased by the gift of
many head of elephants, and the urban curfew is now being
observed, despite many days of mutiny by the Seventh Sepoys
and the disembowelment of fifteen Unitarian missionaries by
the indignant populace in Chunki-Pazaar."
"Capital! No real harm done then, eh, Your Excellency... What
about a round of billiards? I'll let yer win, treat you to a
Siamese Sandwich at Madame Wong's Star of Mandalay Rub-and-Tug
Parlour, if yer know what I mean, and we'll forget all about
this ghastly misunderstanding - watcha say?"
My normally successful tactics for dealing with anxious
superior officers failed me in this my one encounter with the
Govnr, who was clearly not a Fifth Lancers' Man.
"Capt. Deakin! Confound you, man! Thanks to your grotesque
behaviour we nearly lost the whole of north-west India to
bloody insurrection, and all you can suggest is table-games
and further molestation of His Majesty's colonial charges!
Have you any idea, you depraved cretin, of how close you have
come to a full court-martial? THAT close!" bellowed the
clearly overwrought G., hacking at the punkah-wallah with
his scimitar by way of illustration of my proximity to
disgrace. "It is only the intercession on your behalf of Col.
Dunn-Chan - Lord alone knows why - that spared you from five
years in the stockade and a transfer to the Gurkha Target-
Practice Platoon, for Heaven's sake!"
Good old Gussie Dunn-Chan, I thought to myself. Not much of a
soldier, but a sound chap who knows when he's been done a
favour. The sale of his appalling spouse to those devil-
worshippers in Chitral for a sack of goat-fat and a set of
Uighur embroidered undergarments, only slightly soiled, was
one of my most successful trades as Commercial Commissioner in
Chini-Bagh two years previously, and Gussie's gratitude has
been as touching as it is useful. I also got him out of some
bother over the Inflatable Sari business in Sindh prior to the
King's Durbar, and he has never let me down since.
"When all is said and done you're still an officer in the
British Army of India, but the Ghorband of Amritsar is
demanding that an example should be made of you, nonetheless,"
continued the G., mollified by my respectful silence. "With
Russian agents crawling all over the place we cannot afford to
be seen to be ignoring his demands, nor can we give in to an
ultimatum from some damn'd native nabob. So I have decided on
With that the Govnr drew a service-revolver from his
desk and handed it to me. "Mortified by the distress and
sanguinary bedlam caused by your incontinent behaviour, you
did what any Lancer would have done," he said, with more
relish than I thought necessary. "Your death will calm the
Ghorband, and impress upon the masses how strict is the
British officers' code of honour. The worst of the damage will
be put right, and we can get on with the job of winning border
tribes to the Empire's side in preparation for the final
reckoning with the Czar and his Cossack marauders. You know it
makes sense, Deakin."
I thought it worth seeking some sort of dignified alternative
that would, nonetheless, not diminish my standing in the
Govnr.-General's eyes. "Can't we shoot one of the men and
dress him up to look like me Sir? My batman, Rose, would
gladly sacrifice himself the greater good, and anyway we
needn't tell. Give me half an hour and I sort it out myself,"
"A coward, a bully, and a disgrace to our Island Race, as I
always suspected!" exploded the G., which I thought was
rather hard on poor old Rosie. Never the model fighting-man,
it must be said, and prone to excessive perspiration when
being used as a human shield by an officer under heavy
artillery-fire, but an ideal if reluctant beater on tiger-
sticking outings and a ready source of cash in that difficult
last week of the month - after a little physical persuasion
and threats to deport his mulatto family to the molasses-farms
"Don't worry, Captain, I don't seriously expect you to do the
decent thing and blow your warped brains out, given your
incompetence and the sheer volume of your gin intake, not to
mention the difficulty of finding the target. No, we have a
much more positive use for you mottled neck."
Monday, December 24, 2007
I like to spend my lunch hour drinking with NCOs, people with further education, religious scholars, that sort of thing. Conversation ranges widely, with owl etiquette and myself as frequent reference points.
Recently the Spirit of Radio 4 descended upon us and led to a discussion of whether the original book is always better than the film adaptation, with particular reference to Trainspotting.
I thought a more interesting question was why call either version Trainspotting unless you wanted to introduce the wrapped-sandwich community to skag, turps, fast music and Scottish culture, but as usual I was wrong.
Our conclusion, after scant consideration of little evidence, was that the book is always better. At which point we thought about it a bit more, and reached the following more comprehensive assessment.
The book is better than the film, with the following exceptions:
1. Films of Stephen King novels are better than the books, unless the films have the words "Stephen King's" in the title;
2. The same goes for Philip K Dick and in fact almost any piece of science fiction (see the Solaris debate I had with myself);
3. Our Man in Havana; and
4. Hardcore porn (that was my idea).
Unlike Radio 4 we are open to informed dissent, so fire away all you Christmas objectors.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Now as always, Wales dominates the ham section of the acting profession. Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, Ray Milland, Richard Coyle - they all had to come from somewhere, I'm afraid, and that somewhere was Vincent Price.
Price's career as an actor, cook, art-collector and TV gobshite is all too well-known, but his humble background, political activism and sheer Welshness are not.
Born Fychan ap Rhys in Bethesda to Rhys and Falmai ap Rhys, Price spent his childhood training to follow his father into the sin-eating business. This prepared him well for his later role in The Witchfinder General and various adverts.
A defining moment, however, came during his preparations for the Bethesda Cwyniad - the local Welsh-language freestyle toasting and dissing sessions. He used the hwntw expression "chimod" to rhyme with "Ichabod" during a bravura dismissal of Archdruid Cynan, and was booed off the chapel benches by the local Gog separatists.
Although there is no proof of this, Cynan incited the local bigots to drive Price away from the well where his family had dwelt for generations - partly in jealousy over the young man's courtship of Dolgellau harp diva and ankle-model Telynores Dwyryd, or so it's said.
This made Price a doughty champion of Welsh national unity and an opponent of racial intolerance, even when it was entirely justified.
He fled south to the easygoing port city of Tenby, where he eked out a living as a crwth-player with a street jazz combo and developed his interest in cookery by slapping Welsh cakes for the demimondaines at Maison Griff's all-night speakeasy - the only place you could get a drink in Pembrokeshire in those days, even a cup of tea.
Fate grabbed Price by the danglers once again when the US Fleet steamed into harbour, heralding Wales’s entry into the Second World War on the Allied side.
A group of Calvinist street toughs had marked his card over the "hot" version of "Arglwydd Dyma Fi" he'd performed at a Griff jam session one crazy night, so he stowed away on a US frigate heading for Havana to pick up cigars for Mr Churchill.
Price was discovered near the Azores, but his cooking and rhyming skills, plus his ability to see U-boats underwater, soon had him shoot up the ratings. By the time the ship had docked in New York, Price was a Senior Captain - which meant he not only ran the ship itself but had the use of another when his was being mended.
A glorious naval career followed, but Price showed his principles once again by resigning his commission when President Truman refused to carry the war to its logical conclusion and free Wales from English occupation.
Instead, he sold his medals to fund a Broadway musical version of Caradog Pritchard's "Un Nos Ola Leuad" called "Mam!". Literally no one came to see it, which allowed him to recycle much of the material in a concert work for male voice choir and crwth that he toured around clubs in LA.
Michael Jackson loved the piece so much that he turned it into the hit single "Thriller". Price, ever the crusader against racism, praised Jackson for giving so many prominent parts to black people in the video, and agreed to play a cameo part. That, as they, is the measure of the man - composer, warrior, lover, short-order chef and Welsh.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Keen readers of the television, newspapers, political web blogs and the radio will know that dwarf bodybuilder Vladimir Putin has decided to let the even shorter Dmitry Medvedev become President of Russia for a while.
Was there any chance of the various opposition parties beating him, even in a bar fight? Not really:
- The democratic parties would fit neatly in the Cwmdonkin Bowls Club jacuzzi, even when it's full of friendly ladies;
- The Communists are all pensioners, and post-Soviet healthcare reforms will ensure that they're unlikely to survive until polling day;
- All the other parties were set up by the Kremlin because Mr Putin needs quadraphonic adulation to go with his mania for the 1970s (oily martinis, tinted glasses, sticking political opponents in mental hospitals, and Disco!)
How wrong we were. Comes the hour, comes the man. Yes, Beat legend Charles Bukowski has announced that he's standing for president - in Russian!
Many have written off Bukowski, saying that he doesn't have the time to build up a convincing campaign, that his work has tailed off recently, and that he died in 1994.
Anyone who's followed Bukowski's career will know that he's a better man dead than Putin is alive, and his unspoken manifesto shows a deeper understanding of Russia than that Petersburg boy scout could dream of. Consider it:
I. Putin is near teetotal, speaks German and arms Iranians.
Russians have shown throughout history that they think these are bad ideas. Candidate Bukowski stands firmly against arms, apart from the odd flick knife for one's own personal use. He was actually born in Germany, and so knows exactly what that lot are up to. His position on drink is well-documented, and broadly enthusiastic.
II. Putin has taken control of the televisions, so that they show little except his holiday films and soft porn (I didn't say he was all bad).
Russians do like propaganda and filth, but they also like boxing and poetry. Bukowski would keep the best of Putin programming, and enhance it with two-fisted action and live dissing contests with Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
III. Bukowski looks like 90 per cent of the male population of Russia, and so is able to connect with them like moonshine on an empty stomach.
Putin looks like the man at the end of the bus queue whom the monster eats first in 1950s horror films.
IV: Putin says things like this: "Russians will never allow for the development of the country along a destructive path, the way it happened in some countries in the post-Soviet space."
Bukowski says things like this:"I don't like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there."
V: In Californication, the David Duchovny character is clearly based on Bukowski.
Dobby, Harry Potter's house elf, is the closest Putin will get to a celluloid homage.
C'mon Ivan, if you've only got one vote, get out of bed just after noon and cast it for Hank Chinaski.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A press release by the Grievances and Slights Amelioration Committee of the Cymru Rouge ("Mon coeur est un luth suspendu"):
Our plenipotentiary representative in Occupied Swydd Henffordd (Herefordshire) has passed on a communiqué by coracle about further English exploitation of the Welsh people.
This time, the English have adopted the cunning ways of their comprador overlord Edward Longshanks (who is dead, while we are still alive, let us recall) in using a Welsh to attack a Welsh. That frankly is our job, and we're not having any of it.
The plutocrats who have literally usurped the name of Martyr Commandante Dic Penderyn and appended it to a distillery have done themselves no further favours at all by promoting their "Brecon Five Vodka" through the medium of challenging the Philosophy Department of the Valley College of Further Education.
The charges laid before the Flying Court (Marsupial Division) of the Cymru Rouge are that the Penderyn Distillery did knowingly, and with knowledge aforethought:
1. Waste Wales's scarce water resources on vodka - a drink favoured by prostitutes, "pop" singers and mink-trappers - while the hemp-clad toilers cry out for yet more ale to slake their Cambrian thirsts;
2. Usurp the name of Martyr Commandante Dic Penderyn, which belongs to the People (and is held in trust for them by the Cymru Rouge);
3. Denigrate the name of the Brecon Five, pioneers of Welsh Maoism who vanished while attempting to cultivate rice in the River Honddu;
4. Misspell the name of the Valley College of Further Edjucation.
5. Promote the cult of the rootless intellectual over the native wisdom of the Welsh Wise Woman.
6. Admire Existentialism - a philosophy banned by Cymru Rouge Edict 456/26(XIX/b:iii) "On The Rationing of Thought Allocation";
7. Verbally apply the English "language" without due consultation with the Cymru Rouge Unnecessary Surgical Procedures Subcommittee;
8. All the above, with "Conspiracy to" prefixed.
How have the bourgeois running corgis of Welsh liberalism responded? By complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority - a watchtower of the capitalist Panopticon that imprisons the workers, peasants, revolutionary-minded soldiers and public-sector employees of Wales, and possibly elsewhere too.
The answer these Dic Sion Dafydds received was a contemptuous rap on the pizzle for daring to question the Laws of Mammon.
We, the Rouge, follows the Laws of Mabon and reject the infantile, anti-Cambrian deviation that is Existentialism. With the exception of the clerical reactionary RS Thomas, no Welsh has ever sought a personal encounter with God, or yet believed in creating individual meaning in his, her or anyone else's life.
A. Our dealings with God have always been handled by highly-trained specialists, with disastrous results.
In pagan times all religious matters were the domain of druids, who prepared our troops for battle against the Romans by getting monged on 'shrooms in an oak glade, stripping off and taking orders from an astral badger.
Later, we left it to monks, until they challenged the autocracy of top Welsh lothario Henry VIII Tudor and lumbered us with the imperialist Act of Union.
Since then, it's been the preserve of Calvinists, Methodists and sometimes weird The-Fly-like combinations of both. In consequence we dropped polyphony, sex and novel musical instruments for male voice choirs, tea and piano lessons with the late Miss Roberts.
Given the failings of these theologians, the Welsh people have as one decided that they themselves as deracinated individuals are unlikely to do any better.
B. "Meaning in life" is an inherently un-Welsh concept that seeks to distract the People from their revolutionary tasks by promoting the sort of brooding self-doubt that makes the Scots what they are today.
The case of the People vs Penderyn Distillery will be heard in the coming days. Appeal against the sentence is permitted before it is carried out anyway.
Ta Moc Tudor - Brawd Rhif Un
Huw Samphan - Brawd Rhif Dau
Paul Pot - Brawd Rhif Tri
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Former Genesis-album magnate and human installation Ward Cooper once remarked that footballers always say their favourite television programmes are David Attenborough nature documentaries, because it makes them sound intelligent.
In a similar manner, the various captains of industry, Booker also-rans and faded party leaders who make up the Desert Island Discs guest-list allege that they like to relax to some Dvořák, their granny's old 78s and, in the case of politicians, something randomly modish with an uplifting title that their researchers tacked on at the last minute ("Things Can Only Get Better", that perennial hymn to back-passage auto-erotic stimulation "My Way", and Schoolly D's "Gucci Time").
I've yet to hear any mention of sex aids among the one luxury items these gonks select, either. ("Well, Kirsty, I'd like a Dilmaster VII, a colour photo of Caroline Quentin and a jar of goose fat, please.")
I've had enough of this, and kd lang is frankly a disappointingly bland hostess, so here's a way of livening it up, Welsh stylee.
(Druggy music, with auk accompaniment)
[Presenter Charlotte Church] Hiya, my guest today is No Good Boyo. Nice to 'ave you b'yer, Boyo, and thanks for the basque. Just one size too small, is it?"
[No Good Boyo] Aye.
[CC] Lovely. So, No Good, who is yewr nominee to spend the rest of their lives on Bardsey Island, then?
[NGB] Well, Charlotte, I'd like to nominate Glenys Bloody Kinnock.
[CC] Lady Kinnock of Lle Chwech? Orbital! And what's the first record you'd like to make her listen to endlessly, then?
[NGB] Her first record will be "Don't Rain on My Parade"...
[CC] A classic!
NGB] ... in the cover version by Japan.
[CC] Yew bastard!
(brief yet horrid snatch thereof)
[CC] Oh, Christ came to Crumlin, don't ever let that happen again! Before the next record, NG, would you like to speculate at length on the various physical indignities Baroness Kinnock could expect to endure on this windswept and possibly haunted rock, or perhaps suggest other ways of making her life miserable?
(more nasty stuff)
[CC] With gravel? Exotic! Now, tell us more about yewr next record.
[NGB] "I Mewn i'r Gôl" by the Rhos Male Voice Choir is more than just a lumpy 80s hymn of fealty to Wrexham FC, sung in grinding unison yet out of sync to an oompah backbeat. Coz I've got the 12-inch...
(on it goes)
[CC] So, when the Nigaraguan Contras have got bored with her, Glenys can recuperate with a book and a luxury item. She's already got the collected works of Daniel Owen in extra-small print and a sheaf of Plaid Cymru leaflets, so what else is she 'aving?
[NGB] I think she'd enjoy a transcript of her husband's "All Right!" speech in Sheffield, just before he achieved the near-miracle of losing an election to John Major in 1992.
[CC] And the luxury item?
[NGB] Why, Neilo himself!
(Fade out over insane cackling and the sound of lingerie snapping)
Who would you like to see go steadily mad while listening to Lou Reed album tracks on Rockall? C'mon, share the Schaden!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
From the press office of the Cymru Rouge Grievance and Slights Department ("Inventing Dignity"):
It has come to the attention of the Vanguard of the Welsh People's various struggles that an English has begun to perpetuate a stereotypical slander against our brothers, sisters and others in the Tribe of Morgan.
Not content first to denigrate the Prophet Mohammed, the immortal leader of the Muslim people, the buffoon Kes Gray has now slurred our Silurian race with his mole-centric aspersions.
His suggestion that entire the Welsh people, and the Tribe of Morgan in particular, are short, dark, irascible creatures who spend most of their lives underground in no way represents the sunlit European vector of our new Cardiff Bay identity.
It is the will of the Welsh people, as expressed through the inerrant voice of the Cymru Rouge, that this Clarksonite debaser should have his car painted green, assuming that he's man enough to drive (probably a 2CV), and that his car is not already green.
In that event, a darker or lighter hue will be applied, depending on the assessment of the Cymru Rouge Coordination and Accessorising Group ("Peintio'r Byd yn Wyrdd").
Appeals will be heard before sentence is duly carried out anyway.
Huw Samphan (Brawd Rhif Un)
Paul Pot (Brawd Rhif Dau)
Ta Moc Tudor (Brawd Rhif Tri)
Monday, December 03, 2007
As Mrs Boyo and, it seems, the first Ottoman Sultan so rightly predicted, I failed my driving test.
I find comfort in the words of the Ruthenian poet and amputee, Sam Dureppa, who once wrote "That which does not kill me needs less cooking", and list the faults noted by the examiner by way of enlightening the young.
1. Misuse of gear. Rolling a fat one while idling at junctions constitutes a serious fault, unless you're doing it with just one hand and not looking either.
2. Misuse of road. All four wheels must touch the road at all times, as we know, but the steering wheel and spare do not count. At least not on a test.
3. Country ways. Saying "we all kicks caravans passing the Cross Foxes near Tabor, and no one ever complained" cuts no ice with these English examiners. They neither know nor care about the Ways of the Welsh.
4. Bribery. Against the law, apparently. Doubling it gets you off, though.
I ought to have done all this when I was 17, and the test consisted of driving around the Co-op car park in Machynlleth without dribbling on the dashboard.