Monday, July 28, 2008

Love and Human Remains

Gyppo Byard's tale of knackersnagging brings to mind my old chum Andy Wislen.

Byard's punctured pods have rarely served as a point of departure for anything other than his brood of changelings, and I won't go the whole Proust either - although my association with Wislen was one of the most intense and significant alliances in the history of beret-clad freestyle drinking.

Suffice to say that Wislen, an adopted Canadian, killed some time before college chalking up life experience as an auxiliary with the then Metro Toronto Ambulance service.

North American universities believe that a month or two spent hindering medical staff makes for a better student, whereas we older nations know that using Thai tribesmen as bongs or steering your dad's car into local hedges is the ideal preparation for three years of scholarly inquiry and that job at the Vowel Prevention Agency of Wales.

The phlegmatic Canadians knew better than to let Wislen administer muscle relaxants to young ladies or take bottles of ether home with him, but they did allow the bushy thug out on calls to take notes, use the phone and assemble the mountains of doughnuts and pierogies that serve as food up there.

On one occasion he and the grown-up ambulance men were summoned to the house of a pallid chap who greeted them in his overalls. Some coy questioning revealed that he'd suffered lacerations to his glans, allegedly inflicted during some unwise and quite acrobatic car maintenance.

As Ambulator One questioned the victim in the hallway, Ambulator Two drew Wislen's attention to a vacuum cleaner slumped on the living-room floor like an odalisque on a pile of Ottoman princelings.

Number One told the pervert that he'd have to come to hospital for some serious shvantz stitching, and that they would need to inform his next of kin.

"Is that strictly necessary?" whimpered the beast.

"Given what you did to yourself with an imaginary stationary car, it's best that your loved ones (non-mechanical) know you're about to spend time in a building full of electrical wires, sharp metal and broomhandles," said Number Two, or words to that effect.

After some mewling, countered by graphic descriptions of bollock rot and Shaven Urethra Syndrome, the unnatural creature gave Wislen his wife's work number.

Trying not to imagine the Gorgon that would drive a man to such bellendery, Wislen dialled the number and asked for Mrs McSicko.

He explained who he was, and that her husband's oil-change misadventure meant a few hours at Toronto General dodging a big needle.

"Has he been dicking around with the vacuum again?" sighed the dear lady.

As a journalist, I investigated this story by the standard procedure of putting "bloke", "knob" and "vacuum" into the Intern Net. I found many well-sourced stories of men and at least one mum-of-three lying with a Hoover as with a woman.

This was an eerie experience, as most of my visitors arrive by kink-oriented searches anyway. Now I've unwittingly added domestic-appliance molesters to my one-handed readership profile.

Such statistics prompt me to think Wislen was not spinning a yarn, despite the bearded bastard's lifetime of bravura fibs (eg he helped to overthrow Milosevic years before it happened but "they" kept it quiet, he has pre-birth memories of at least one Kennedy Assassination, disobliging masseuses are in the employ of the Vietnamese Communist Party etc).

Have you come across an apparent urban myth only to find it might well be true?

Have you ever covered the Dyson in a moment of sherry-fuelled anomie?

If so, tell all - there might be a Channel 4 show in it for us.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Universities: Advertising

I graduated from University College Swansea (formerly the Swansea Jack public house) with a good degree in Bat Maintenance and Ruthenian Studies and have acted as if the world owed me a living ever since.

This attitude was entrenched a few years later when I found out that I could have spent a bit of cash and got myself a business masters with a guaranteed livelihood of hoovering cocaine out of geishas' navels on behalf of some spicily sinister Oriental corporation.

Among the careers I toyed with was advertising. I had been reared as a polished sociopath, so a job devoted to mocking the potato-faced British consumer in return for cupboards full of Krugerrands and posh girls seemed ideal.

The idea came to me one deep winter in Hendrefoelan, a student internment camp half a mile from the village of Killay in the clouds above Swansea.

Veteran leech piper Ward Cooper and I had marvelled at the uselessness of the TV advert for Start breakfast cereal. This consisted of Geordie athlete Steve Cram running up a glum fell somewhere, eating a bowl of Start on a drizzly ridge, then sprinting back down to Northern civilisation in his cagoule.

A heavy snowfall had led to panic buying, so by the time we'd trudged through the drifts to the local Coop for our weekly non-booze-and-fags shopping trip all that was left on the shelves was dog food, cat litter and row upon row of boxes of Start. After much soul-searching we bought two boxes of Start and some cat litter, just in case.

The checkout girl eyed us wistfully. We were good customers, and she would probably never see us alive again.

The jam-breathed locals of Killay were as surly a bunch of Morlocks as I'd ever met outside my immediate family circle, but no one could fault their almost-Martian survival instinct. Without wishing to offend the evil bastards at Kelloggs in any way*, Start was vile.

The recipe may have changed since 1984, of course. Perhaps consumer focus groups fed back some mood music about public disdain for sugar and damp cheeese lovingly infused into foam rubber. Who knows. By the time the snows had melted we were already pouring tabasco on the cat litter and pooling our ear wax.

Once the fever had passed, Ward and I retired to our chambers with two bottles of Don Darias and started work on a realistic advertising campaign for Start. Rather than avoiding the issue of its taste, as did the Cram ad, we decided to make its rankness a selling point.

The mid-80s were a puritanical time for the university left. Thatch was firmly in power, the Labour Party had taken a sabbatical from politics, the Socialist Workers were still harassing miners rather than concentrating on their natural constituency of creepy trustafarian students and suicide bombers, and women didn't have the vote.

The only outlet for the Roundhead tendency was in self-mortification. This meant listening to Paul Weller, pretending to fancy girls in leggings, and watching Newsnight. Ward and I felt that we could pitch Start to this drab demographic.

The campaign was simple. A 5-second guerrilla-style TV advert would burst onto your screen as if interrupting normal broadcasting. It consisted of a handheld camera three-quarters shot of pantomime socialist Dennis Skinner MP, The Beast of Bolsover. He would brandish an arms-length box of said cereal at the camera and bark "Eat Start, It's Shit!"

And that's it. No posters, nothing. Sociology students would be shovelling the stuff past their keffiyehs within weeks, we estimated.

At least that's the pitch we made in a letter to Kelloggs. A letter we unwisely wrote that very night and mailed to what I hope was the wrong address. Cornflake Superhero Captain Kellogg (if such he be) never deigned to reply.

I expect the letter is still whirling around in the seventh circle of the Post Office sorting room reserved for rifled birthday cards and anything with an official stamp addressed to the Kinnocks.

Disappointed by this lack of response, I slouched off into a career as a third-rate academic. Of which more anon.

(* phrase included on advice of my legal counsel, The K Man)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A bloke is not just for Christmas

Mrs Boyo regrets missing the deadline for a job handling public relations for a donkey sanctuary. I see her point.

The English like donkeys for being comical economy horses, so getting Brits to hand over their money is like setting up a green paint stand outside an eisteddfod. Just show grainy footage of some Spaniards shoving a mule off a church steeple, as I believe is their Papist wont, and the tear-stained coppers flood into your coffers.

The same goes with the ads run on children's TV channels for adopting a dog. Mother of Boyo now corresponds with such a mutt on the strength of manipulative footage of Hounds in Hell.

Said beast is called Beavis in humanspeak - probably Hengist Longclaw, or Bartok the Catslayer in Dogtalk. You just know his tattooed, pin-eyed initial owner originally called him Butthead, and that Dogwatch's equivalent of Mrs Boyo changed his name in the sure knowledge that the four-legged gas bomb would otherwise be heading to the dogfood plant.

(I'm sure we feed dogs to dogs. It makes economic sense and maintains the folk tradition of "Dog eat dog". My legal advisor The K Man is considering whether this is defamatory to various companies. I'll get back to you.)

It occurred to me and my fellow-drinkers that we ought to persuade Mrs Boyo to apply her skills to a similar campaign on behalf of ageing male losers such as ourselves.

The rising callousness index among the young means that there's little chance of their providing for us, and we who've managed to acquire "life" partners fully expect to be jettisoned for younger, less pungent versions during an ill-advised Mediterranean holiday.

The campaign video might run like this:

[Forty-something man in unwise Pete Doherty outfit, staring in confusion at a turnstile]

[Bruised yet resilient female voiceover - perhaps Felicity Kendal or Bonnie Tyler] Griff used to be something like you, until his house sank under water and then caught fire through circumstances largely of his own making. Now he sleeps under a door frame when the pubs shut.

[Same man, peering beyond camera through drizzle]

When it rains, he can't light his Lambert & Butler.

[Man rubbing match against his stubbled head]

But at least his trousers are getting a wash.

[Man: Hey!]

Left to his own devices, Griff and dozens of other borderline derelicts will end up blocking your way into John Lewis, getting stuck in various pieces of street art and leering at you in the taxi rank. And we can't have that.

Is there anything you can do, apart from move to Iran? Yes there is!

For £150 a month, you can keep Griff in a warm and only mildly damp environment, surrounded by friends both real and imaginary.

With your help, we will give him a crumbling terrace house in a no-longer desirable suburb, a short lurch from a chippie and off-licence and a good industrial-estate's distance from your home.

Griff will send you a card at Christmas and a little table he made out of Brains cans, with his picture taped to the top. You'll get a letter each month, not necessarily from Griff, detailing his loveable escapades.

[Clip of same man, sitting at table littered with ashtrays, wine bottles and a cat with a bandaged leg, writing on a blotter. Voiceover in Gwenhwyseg accent: "I dranked a bottle of warm gin last night and got my head stuck in a banister. I used my dribble to free myself, then fell asleep on the stairs!"]

And if your husband's gaze has started to wander, why not let us taxi him over to Griff's for an afternoon of reliving his student years? We'll guarantee that, once he's rediscovered the delights of drinking Don Darias and talking bollocks in a haze of fag smoke, he'll know that one woman is more than enough!

[Clip of once-kempt man in wine-stained shirt, laughing like a twat as Griff makes a sandwich out of teabags]

We believe in helping these drones to help themselves, so Griff or one of his cut-their-own-hair friends will be happy to move into your garden for the summer. He'll keep domestic animals out of your floral borders with his unique musk, while his goat mows your lawn.

He's a novel talking-point for your patio dinners and children's fun days, and only needs a swing to slump in at night.

[Clip of laughing children trying to catch squirrels as they jump out of Griff's trouser-legs, and women in alice bands and their polo-shirted husbands waving from the terrace, oblivious to their water-logged house sinking in flames behind them]

So come on and make a difference. When Griff has that first drink of the day, he'll be sure to toast you!

[Close-up of angular teeth shattering as they tear the cap off a bottle of Champion's Freckled Johnson]

Your task, dear readers, is to come up with a name for the charity described above. The winner will be made an executive director with full Welsh citizenship, and get a virtual office next to Mrs Boyo's.

[Photo courtesy of Dunc and Sioba Siencyn]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Unitam populus Cambrianus unam cervicem haberet!

It's official. According to tubby online batchelors at Wikio, No Good Boyo is the Tenth Welshest Web Blog in the World!

This information was culled and presented by Ordovicius, future President of All Wales and suitor of Mrs Boyo's imaginary sister.

Well, I don't know what to say.

First of all, I'm annoyed to be listed as non-political - this site is devoted to making Wales a Maoist haven for slate-based autarky and slogan-shrieking Urdd child soldiers.

Second, I could not have done it without Mrs Boyo's constant denigration of my friends and very being.

This above all drove me to seek solace in the web community of my thoughts.

Third, a big, hairy-palmed hand to all the self-polluters who boosted my ratings with such searches as 'caroline quentin basque', 'charlote church bukkake', 'brithdir wife swap' and 'glenys kinnock's Moroccan op'.

I owe a great debt to those early readers who've stuck with me through the good times and the bad - like when I forgot what my blog was called and couldn't find it for six months. I'm thinking of Gorilla Bananas and Gyppo Byard in particular.

I'm delighted to have met - or, if you believe Mrs Boyo, to have created in the vortex of my rapidly disintegrating personality - such international playboys and grandes dames distinguées as Ordo himself, MC Ward, Gadjo Dilo and Mrs Pouncer.

Above all, I am proud to have received the recognition of my Silurian peers. If I were to annoy an Uzbek billionaire this evening and have my blog banned by the Old Baileys, my proudest moment would probably have been singlehandedly reviving the singing career of Shakin' Stevens.

Before I blogged, he was loafing around in Peter Kaye videos. Now he's headlining at Glasto, the muddy musicbox of Home Counties whiteboys.

My ambitions for the next two years of blogging? Well, first up, I don't want the celebrity to ruin me. No tabloid rumours about Duffy seen leaving my shed in the early hours, no freebasing Brains and cockles in John Malkovich's hotel. I'm happy with Mrs Boyo and her threats of unnecessary surgical procedures.

Otherwise, I want to clamber up the Wikio Top Ten like a bandwith-drooling zombie until I reign supreme over the deleted comments of mine enemies.