Friday, 31 August 2012

Sweet Friday Afternoon: Half-Arsed Weekly News Round-Up

Parts of the House of Commons were closed off today due to a fire breaking out in the early hours of this morning. No significant damage was done to the building but much of it had to be cordoned off because of the presence of fumes from toxic substances, such as asbestos, expensive cigars and the stench of broken promises. Earlier this week plans were announced for parliament to abandon the House of Commons for five years to allow major refurbishment works to be carried out. It is not clear where parliament will convene during the overhaul, but I have it on good authority that there is one venue, which is closed during the daytime, that is a particularly popular choice with MPs.

The capital’s police have had their work cut out lately dealing with the Notting Hill Carnival, the closure of cannabis factories, closing London bridges to clamp down on gangsterism and other peculiar occurrences. Despite this they are still managing to keep it together, unlike police in Hartlepool who are literally jumping at their own shadows. The Met have also had to deal with crimes that they thought they’d left behind in the 1950s, such as this particular case in which a man attempted to steal a flower cart by dragging it off with his horse. George Smith, 36, was fined 6 guineas, 2d, given a swift clip round the ear and told to buck his ideas up. The court was told to disregard his earlier convictions for scrumping and stealing lead from church roofs.


Smith had to sell his television set to pay the court fine

A murder investigation may have to be opened after a man found a lump in a tin of paint and decided that it must be a piece of human flesh. Bonkers Rob Rayment ,66, found the lump in some kitchen paint that he had purchased from B&Q the day before and made the obvious assumption that it must be a lump of human flesh. "It looks like the back of someone’s forearm. It’s an inch by half an inch. I was horrified by it, absolutely horrified,” Rayment gibbered delightedly. B&Q have reluctantly agreed to carry out tests on the lump. Since then Mr Rayment has written to breakfast cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s after finding what he has described as a baby’s eyeball in his Coco Pops. “Or it could be a monkey’s bollock,” flibbered the time-wasting attention seeker yesterday. 

It was revealed this week that one in 10 parents who live within 500 yards of their child's school admit to driving them to the gates, partly explaining the rise in fat-bastardry in today’s children. The London Borough of Southwark has the most fatties according to research, with a cholesterol raising quarter of children in the area being classified as obese last year. In my opinion it is not just the lack of walking to school and poor diet that is to blame for today’s childhood chunkiness, but also the fact that instead of playing football or riding a bike they like to stand around in supermarkets being amazed by really dull things. 


A big-boned youngster enlists his friends to winch him up from the bench

And finally, with the capital’s rising multiculturalism and its welcoming of citizens from all over the world for the Olympic competitions, it is good to know that one person from Mitcham is still keeping it old-school. He hasn’t mentioned dogs or the Irish though, so I suppose that’s progress. 


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Olympic Update 15: The Arrival of the Paralympics


The Paralympics officially began last night with an opening ceremony based on a science theme, simultaneously heavily emphasising progress and enlightenment, and harking back to lines from The Tempest. Again. Stephen Hawking played a major speaking part in the opening ceremony; despite not being the obvious choice for this kind of thing, the eminent scientist still managed to sound less discordant than the Spice Girls a few weeks ago. The teams entered the stadium to huge applause, but bizarrely some of the Iraqi members decided to arrive on the scene wearing balloon hats. It is not clear whether they were wearing them as a way of showcasing new safety equipment for wheelchair rugby, or it was some kind of patronising effort to entertain the mentally ill. Either way, I found them hugely entertaining.

“I want one shaped like a sausage dog”
 
Former government minister Edwina Currie enjoyed the parade immensely, and even became sexually aroused at the arrival of the Italian athletes. Making sure that everyone was aware of her feelings, Currie swiftly withdrew her mobile phone from wherever she keeps it and Twittered gleefully, "Italians are gorgeous even in wheelchairs. Love 'em." Oddly some considered this comment patronising, and when criticised for this she later Twatted "Get off with the patronising. Look at them: they are gorgeous, and they're in wheelchairs. I bet they'd agree." I bet they wouldn’t. One Twitterer said that the comment was "singularly the most offensive thing I have seen on Twitter". He obviously doesn’t follow Frankie Boyle.

Like the opening ceremony for the main Olympic Games nearly five weeks ago, Sebastian Coe took part by giving a protracted and windy speech loaded with unnecessary and ill-fitting superlatives, and once again lecturing those who remained awake long enough on the true meaning/spirit/importance of sport. Near the end of the nightmarish sermon Coe promised that the attending crowds would be “unprecedented”, a promise that, in the cold light of day, might best have stayed in Coe’s jacket pocket alongside his driving gloves, Extra Strong Mints and stacks of corporate tickets.

 In a situation of typical Britishness the Olympic flame nearly didn’t make it to the stadium in time for the ceremonial lighting of the caldron, as it was running behind schedule by two hours earlier in the day. A contingency plan was put into place in which a breakaway flame was lit and Sir Cliff Richard was refused entry to the venue on the grounds that he might be tempted to sing during the possible delay. 

“Okay guys, who knows NWA’s ‘Fuck the Police’?”

The Paralympics are seen by some, James Berresford the CEO of VisitEngland in particular, as and opportunity to “show off the UK's world class accessibility to the disabled”, the world class accessibility which I have proudly highlighted before. But not everyone believes that Britain is at the forefront of caring for the disabled, particularly yesterday’s protesters who are a bit peeved that Atos, the private company contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions to investigate disabled people’s benefits is in fact also, alongside Samsung and Visa, one of the three ‘Paralympic partners’. Could it be that Atos are sponsoring the Paralympics using the money that they have collected from the government, who in turn have collected it with the help of Atos from the disabled people to whom they were previously paying benefits?

In a way it's beautiful.  




Wednesday, 29 August 2012

London's Hard Working Animals Make the Capital Proud

With the economy in the state that it is, households and local businesses can do with all the help that they can get, and that help appears to be coming in the form of the capital’s animals. Leading by example is Larry, the cat of number 10 Downing Street. In a wonderful illustration of the Big Society in action, the unpaid cat, after taking some time to procrastinate, decided to pull his paw out and catch a mouse recently, having been brought in for the purpose last year. "I can confirm that the cat did kill a mouse this morning," time-wasted a Downing Street spokeswoman, before making a hilarious gag concerning David Cameron recently being publicly asked if he is a man or mouse: "The only dead mouse in Downing Street is the one Larry caught this morning." Arf!

But Larry is not the only working cat in London; Hackbridge Station has acquired a feline stationmaster of sorts. The cat has recently been turning up to oversee the platform at the Wallington station, much to the befuddlement of commuters. Mr Relf, editor of Farmers’ weekly, a periodical specialising in bottom problems, said: "There I was, dashing platform-bound through the waiting room, when what should I see? A cat…other people on the platform were similarly surprised.” Indeed they were, and according to Mr Relf this astonished bewilderment at seeing a cat in a public place had a mysterious effect on the morning commute.
"We did that rarest of things for train travellers near London - we started talking to one another. ‘Where does it come from?’ we asked. ‘Does it live in the station?’ ‘Look,’ one person said, not quite believing their eyes, ‘a cat.’"


“Touch me, madam, and I’ll sue”

In the unlikely event that people could somehow one day come to terms with the astounding sight of seeing a cat – yes a cat! – at a train station, perhaps they could become accustomed to dog commuters. Jack Russell terrier Frankie caused rather a stir when he decided hop on the train at Gravesend, Kent to seek his fortune in London. The cheeky canine was unsuccessful in his search for gainful employment when he was cornered by a jobsworth train manager before he got to Kings Cross and sent back home. The plucky little dog has been forced to join some internet employment agencies instead.

One dog that is certainly earning his chum is stupid-looking Labradoodle Cooper from Worcester Park. He acts as chief taste tester for his owner Vivian Nutt who has started a company pointlessly manufacturing dog treats that are also edible to humans. Talking of how the business began Ms Nutt said: "The treats I used to give [Cooper] were really smelly and horrible, so I started making my own. As far as I’m concerned, if I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t expect my dog to eat it.” The mad-as-fuck doggy baker continued by barking "What I’d really like to do is to have a dog cafe." 


“I’m not eating this shit”
Of course, not all of London’s animals are helping the economy; some are a ruddy menace, like urban foxes for example. When they’re not spreading the contents of our wheelie bins across the pavements on bin day, or doing pointy, foul-smelling shits on our vegetable patches, these ginger menaces are attempting to ruin sporting events. They allegedly chewed cables, wrecked microphones and soiled the podium area of the shooting venue of the London Olympics. A solution to the problem was not found, despite the fact that there were dozens of Olympic standard marksmen wandering around with their guns for large parts of the day. Perhaps they should have employed guard dogs.      



Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Police a "Highly Visible Presence" at Notting Hill Carnival


The bank holiday weekend saw Europe’s biggest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival, take place. The yearly event, in which revellers descend upon the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea to dance to loud music, publicly smoke cannabis, eat goats and stab each other, was hailed as a peaceful success this year by organisers and the police. So successfully peaceful was it that during the two day event a mere 299 people were arrested, mostly for public order offences, compared to last year’s anarchic 214 (which was incidentally also hailed as a peaceful success by the police). It is clear from these figures that success is measured by the number of arrests the police felt necessary to make during the carnival. Furthermore, there were 500 more police officers on patrol at this year’s event compared to last year, so it is clear that with regards to the carnival, more police = more arrests = peaceful success. Lovely.


Police officers congratulate themselves on a job well done yesterday

Despite there being a few arrests there was nothing in the way of serious crime at all. Well, apart from a 14 year-old boy being slashed by a sharp object in Golborne Gardens; a 16 year-old girl sustaining a leg wound; a 20 year-old man being left in a serious but stable condition after being stabbed in the back and buttocks in Ladbroke Grove; three men being stabbed on North Pole Road, leaving one of them in a critical condition; and multiple incidences of public semi-nudity:

They'll catch their death, mark my words
Some carnivalists considered the atmosphere so good that the police presence was not really needed: Jade Walker, who had travelled all the way down from Middlesbrough to join the hip-swinging action said
"There's not a lot of need for it. This is my second time here and I've never felt threatened, but maybe that's just because I'm from Middlesbrough and it's rough there."
Here is a clear solution to people being intimidated by the ‘edgy’ reputation of the carnival: ship them in from rough areas and by comparison they will feel like they are at an Isle of Wight church fete. Mrs Walker’s husband Gary agreed with his wife (probably wise to do so – she is from Middlesbrough after all). "It's just a fun, friendly, happy vibe,” he blathered happily while tugging his wallet away from a hooded 13 year-old on a BMX.

So it appears that the police are to be congratulated on a job well done at the Notting Hill Carnival, and no one would like to congratulate them more than Commander Bob Broadhurst who was in charge of policing the festival.
"For the last two days our officers were out there working hard to make sure that those who wanted to come to the event and have fun could, and those who wanted to break the law were arrested or disrupted,” he ‘ello, ‘ello, ‘elloed. "We had a highly visible presence out on the streets of Notting Hill to make sure those troublemakers who thought violence and crime was an option were met by a swift response."




Good work chaps. 



Friday, 24 August 2012

Sweet Friday Afternoon: Half-Arsed Weekly News Round-Up

Likeable, wobbly-headed pop folkster David Gray caused a stir in north London this week when he announced plans to convert his Crouch End based recording studios into flats. The studios were originally built in the nineteenth-century chapel by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and have been used by a number of talented artists including Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Depeche Mode and Kaiser Chiefs. Elvis Costello has also recorded there. The decision has not been a popular one with local residents, particularly Sue Hessel, chairman of the local Haslemere Road residents’ association. “This is so sad. Crouch End has enough flats. Its music heritage is what makes it such a special place to live. Turning a culturally rich building into flats is not in the spirit of Crouch End,” she ponced, omitting to mention that maintaining the spirit of Crouch End appears to be taking a culturally rich building and turning it into a bakery that charges £4 for an organic, wheat-free, poppy seeded, freedom loaf of bread, or a shop that will sell you a tatty, paint-stripped office chair from the seventies for £250 without a hint of irony.

The lighting of the Paralympic flame took place this week at the top of the four highest peaks in the United Kingdom. It could be argued that this was a poorly thought out plan for a Paralympic event, as wheelchair access was understandably limited. The caldron in Trafalgar square was lit this morning by paralympian Claire Lomas, to the delight of the watching crowds. Proceedings then took a downturn when David Cameron stormed the stage and started to bleat on using the word ‘proud’ 126 times in two sentences. Really, as if the disabled don’t have enough to contend with.


Even the Olympic mascot, whose job it is to be enthusiastic, looks like he's lost the will to live

Police launched an appeal yesterday following a burglary in Claygate in which thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes were stolen from a convenience store. Several men broke into the store last week and carried out what is described in the local press as ‘an untidy search’ before making off with a large quantity of the smoky lung treats.  The police have no clue as to the identities of the men that carried out the crime, but have released a picture of a shady looking character lurking nearby thought to be the mastermind behind the heist:




It was announced this week that as of next year if you want to urinate or defecate in London’s royal parks you will have to pay 20p for the privilege, or just find a discrete bush to take care of your business. The move comes following a series of cuts to public park funding over the course of several years which have forced park officials to introduce the charge. Disabled and playground toilets will remain free, so at least the capital’s impoverished cottagers will still have somewhere to meet.

And finally, much to the relief of local residents, essential works have at long last been carried out on Wimbledon Common.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

London's Takeaways Are the Finest in the World


Fire fighters have issued a warning to gormless Londoners not to leave the house while cooking, after they were called out three times in one day this week to extinguish fires in the kitchens of half-wits. In all three incidents the fire brigade were called after residents had started to cook something – in two incidences on the hob – and then decided to go for a lovely wander outside, leaving their delectable creations fiercely bubbling away at home. On one of the occasions fire fighters were forced to break into the property to rescue a cat that was seen at the front window. It is not yet clear whether the cat was an ingredient in the ill-fated dinner.


“That smells delicious darling. What is it?”
“Err…chicken”
With home cooking being the dangerous extreme activity that it evidently is, it is no wonder that people in London enjoy takeaway food so much. And if you are making the effort to dine à la delivery why not go for a delicious kebab? It was estimated earlier this year that there are over 140 kebab selling establishments in London, and of that 140 kebab shops I estimate that 132 are in Wood Green, probably. But none are finer than Meze Mangal in Lewisham, which beat some of London’s top restaurants in a customer satisfaction survey on Trip Advisor, with a staggering 95 per cent approval rating. It’s no wonder that customers are so delighted with the food, as owners Ahmet and Sahin Gok trained under the very best; when they arrived in England in the eighties, they spent several years cutting their teeth at the Kingston upon Thames’s branch of Wimpy. Not everyone, however, is happy with Meze Mangal’s success in the Trip Advisor ratings. Pasquale Cosmai, the manager of Michelin starred restaurant Aspleys, which came two places below Meze Mangal, is not happy at all.

“My standards of food are high. Other people’s standards are probably different. Some people are fine with a burger,” he spat, choking back tears and throwing his electric whisk out of his Aga pram.

If, like Mr Cosmai, you do not fancy a kebab, what about a lovely curry? Indian food has become the number one choice for the discerning takeaway gourmand due to its exotic flavours, punchy spices and the fact that you only need a fork to eat it. Or if you don’t own a fork you can use a spoon. And if you are not fortunate enough to possess any cutlery you can scoop the spicy meal into your mouth with the innersole of your work shoe try doing that with fish and chips. Although it does pay to check out the establishment before ordering food from it, as you may get a few more delicacies than you had bargained for.

Curry not your thing? How about ordering a scrumptious pizza from Pizza Hut? Pizzas from the restaurant chain are fabricated exactly like mamma use to make in the old country, using only the finest thick-cut recycled cardboard for the base, delectable cheese containing absolutely no dairy products whatsoever, and hand-picked toppings fresh from the freezers of Costco, all delivered to your door by a struggling immigrant who has been working for 16 hours without a break. Mmm. The branch in Kendal Avenue, Park Royal seems to be particularly popular with those reviewers who have had the good fortune to dine there


Is that going in or coming out?

If you decide to make the effort to go out and eat, make sure you avoid the Duck and Waffle in Bishopsgate. For some reason they think it acceptable to serve their customers ‘chip shop cod tongues’ and ‘bbq-spiced crispy pig ears’.

They want shooting, if you ask me.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Fat Cats Wipe Their Arses on Little Londoners


Griff Rhys Jones, one half of hilarious comedy sketch show duo Smith and Jones (he is the ‘Jones’ part of the ensemble), is angry about town planning. And who can blame him? Assuming that he hasn’t made all this up just to get attention, Jones, in his capacity as urban vista maintenance botherer has uncovered plans that he believes will ruin the breathtakingly beautiful landscape of the Fitzrovia area of central London. Who is to blame for these plans? Big business, of course. Apparently big businesses in the area have gotten together with a property developer to turn the Fitzrovia district into a Business Improvement District (BID) and improve the area for business purposes. Furthermore, in order to exclude the little man from their evil plans, it has been decided by someone (presumably not Griff) that only businesses with a rateable value of £100,000 are allowed to vote on potential changes to the area. This, of course, means that the area will inevitably be changed for the benefit of big business while smaller businesses will be squished out by increasing rents, turning the district into a faceless desert of capitalistic activity, which is not nice.  

Jones berates a London fat cat over BID plans
It’s not just small businesses in the Fitzrovia district that are being pushed around by big corporate bastards, people trying to earn a crust in Brixton – where you’d think they’d just be left to their own devices – are suffering at the hands of the bully boys and, to a lesser extent, girls. Indeed Lizzy Daly, who runs an online business called shabbychicoriginals.com from her south London home selling all manner of twee crap (butterfly cookie cutters, floral party bunting etc) bought almost exclusively by bored people residing in Chigwell, is being hounded by a large firm in California called Shabby Chic Brands, who insist that she should change the name of her business. According to the American firm, the term ‘shabby chic’ is a registered trademark owned by a Los Angeles firm called – wait for it – Brand Sense Partners. Jesus Christ; just saying the name aloud makes me want to Google ‘how to make a home made bomb’. Thankfully Ms Daly has no intention of backing down, but if she was to be defeated by the grey-suited, corporate lobotomists she could try running alternative names past Brand Sense Partners, such as Tattered Smart, Ragged Stylish or Untidy Elegance. Just a thought. 

Why?

Even pubs are not safe from the relentless onslaught of big business, as Merton residents have discovered to their cost.  The Grove Tavern, a historic pub which was until recently frequented by dozens of local alcohol dependents, is to become a Tesco Express. ‘What’s wrong with that?’ I hear you shrug. I’ll tell you, shall I? There is another Tesco Express just 500 yards down the road from it.  Furthermore, I have it on good authority from an inside source that Tesco are planning to buy all of the shops in between and build another Tesco Express, a Tesco Metro, a Tesco Extra and a Tesco Ultra Super Duper.

Tesco.

In some cases small businesses are persecuted before they even get off the ground. This poor gentleman from Beckenham had his flourishing crack cocaine business closed down earlier this year. It is rumoured that the recreational drugs market in Beckenham is being gradually monopolised by Walmart. Shame on them. 


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

London's Roads in Safe Hands With the Met


As London becomes increasingly green the capital’s bobbies have been obliged to set an example, so it was no surprise to see that Cheam Safer Neighbourhoods Team is making an effort to save the planet by driving around in a Ford Focus. It is not apparent what it is about the car, given to the police for three years by a local building company whose motives for the gift remain unclear, that makes it ‘eco friendly’, but as well as being kind to our fragile Earth, it will also “help local officers to respond to calls more quickly and to attend local schools and groups more easily.” Whether they mean more easily than an eco unfriendly car, or more easily than no car at all is also unclear.

This is not the first attempt at getting London’s finest around the capital using green transport in 2009 it was predicted that by 2013 half of London’s police cars would be electric. The plans were scrapped after a series of incidents in which cheeky ruffians picked up the vehicles whilst unattended and walked off with them in their pockets. 

The Cheam Safer Neighbourhood officers try to remember where they parked their Ford Focus earlier today

We have in recent years seen an increasing number of police officers and their enthusiastic traffic warden friends mounted on bicycles, but there are not as many enjoying pedal powered transport as there could be due to the 10 hour mandatory training session and 93-page bike riding guide that officers have to endure before they are allowed near the highly dangerous two-wheeled equipment.

You can’t blame them for being overcautious when it comes to taking to the road on a bicycle, what with all of the irresponsible drivers putting cyclists at risk. But sometimes the pedalling pests just get in the way, don’t they? Especially when you are trying to drive a van at 68 mph in a 30 mph zone, which is what happened to PC Lynch, an East London copper who unavoidably put a cyclist in hospital for two weeks due to accidentally driving over a blind bridge at speed and colliding with him. Quite rightly Lynch has admitted to careless driving but denies dangerous driving, as his actions clearly posed no danger to anyone around him.

And it seems our motorcycle mounted boys in blue are not safe from people getting in their way either.  Quite how the motorcyclist had built up enough speed during a police escort on the busy roads of East London to render it impossible to notice a 70 year-old lady in front of him in time to avoid colliding with her remains somewhat of a mystery, but I am sure that the subsequent investigation will clear up the matter to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Even during their leisure hours the police are not immune from pieces of street furniture colliding with them as they attempt to make progress along the public highway. It’s hardly surprising that they occasionally need a bit of a drink to calm their nerves.

So next time you see a police officer operating a vehicle on the capital’s busy streets, give them a little wave to thank them for doing their bit to keep the roads safe and sound, but make sure you do so from a sensible distance; you wouldn’t want to get in their way, would you?



Monday, 20 August 2012

An East London Drink Problem


The party in Walthamstow was barely over following its local Spar shop being nominated for the International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award, when misery was once again restored due to the announcement that an evil new off licence will be rearing its ugly head in the area. Whereas Walthamstow Village’s almost international award winning Spar sells delicious delicacies, such as freshly made pizza made by the in-house pizza chef, delightful pastries and pork based preserves, this new Walthamstow business will be flogging gin to its patrons. The purveyor of the devil’s urine, shamelessly entitled ‘Mother’s Ruin East London Gin Palace’, will be based in the somnolent, tea cosy of the community, Wood Street Indoor Market, which sometimes sees dozens of visitors pass through daily. 


Wood Street Indoor Market teems with life on a busy Saturday afternoon

Other stall holders are understandably displeased with the news that they will be sharing their market with such a godless enterprise. Well, one of them is, and rightly so. Catherine West, executive director of Significant Seams, a haberdashery and social enterprise group, is well vexed, as her stall is located opposite the site of the gin soaked emporium of sin.

“The licence for Mother's Ruin would flaunt celebration of alcoholism, destitution and historic poverty while selling alcohol,” she furied before stating that the new shop is a deliberate attempt to “exploit a vulnerable neighbourhood”. And it certainly seems that she has a point about the proposed venture’s celebration of alcoholism and destitution when you see the online menu. Yes, I imagine the impoverished alcoholics of Wood Street will be rushing past the large number of off licences in the area selling discount grog to grab a bottle of gooseberry and elderflower vodka or damson gin at £12.50 per 250ml. Imagine the carnage as, slightly tipsy on Seville orange rum, a hoard of ravenous street people go on a rampage searching for stuffed quail in grape jus to satisfy their post booze munchies. 

A local smelly tramp sources ingredients to accompany his pork tenderloin with dauphinoise potatoes in Wood Street earlier today

West went on to outline her concerns with regards to the exact positioning of Mother’s Ruin. “This would literally be on our doorstep as we support vulnerable people in facing difficult life circumstances - which often include destitution, addiction and abuse,” she raged before actually coming to the point: “Additionally our business's commercial interests will be significantly undermined.” I see.

Despite her obvious propensity to expel unfounded self-interested bollocks in the direction of local newspapers, West may have a point. If you agree don’t miss the opportunity to rant in the local media or hand a petition containing 148 names to someone at the council who doesn’t get paid enough to care. I shall certainly be doing this first thing tomorrow, straight after I’ve expressed my indignation about this outrageous outrage taking place just down the road from Wood Street. 


Friday, 17 August 2012

Sweet Friday Afternoon: Half-Arsed Weekly News Round-Up

The week began on a melancholy note as the Olympics hangover began in earnest, leaving us with a dry mouth, a pounding headache and a regrettable hankering for a fried egg sandwich. With much tedious and ultimately futile blathering about the Olympic legacy relentlessly assaulting the eyes and ears of the nation, some have actually been inspired to take up some form of daily exercise, at least until the reality of the undertaking makes itself chafingly apparent and they can’t be arsed anymore. So it appears, for the time being (two weeks maximum?), Londoners are to be treated to the offensive sight of smug, bright white trainered, sweaty twats jogging at a medium walking pace to their offices where they will regale their indifferent colleagues with details of how they have taken thirty seconds off of yesterday’s time.


A commuting joggist arrives at work feeling fresh, revitalised and ready for the day's challenges

As Britain waved a fond farewell to its athletic visitors Heathrow’s Games terminal was decorated to resemble a city park for reasons that are not completely clear. As part of the display a ‘memory tree’ was erected to which the departing athletes could attach a note with a favourite London 2012 memory written on it. Touchingly, two members of the American athletics team picked Mo Farrah’s track victories. However, US sprinter, Manteo Mitchell, who ran to the finishing line despite a broken leg, wrote of “God allowing me to have the strength to finish the race for my team”. He wisely brushed aside the fact that God had allowed his leg to be broken in the first place though.

God was unavailable for comment earlier today

London’s buses have made the news this week, as Transport for London gave New Malden residents the hump by announcing that minor works are to be carried out to allow the 265 bus route to be diverted onto streets near to where they live. “When TfL send in their bulldozers, we will form a human shield to prevent access to our road. We will need to be removed forcibly,” frothed one resident with clearly nothing better to do.

In happier bus related news a woman gave birth to a baby boy on the 106 bus in Hackney this week. It is the third baby to have been born on a London bus apparently, though this figure is not as impressive as the 154 babies reportedly conceived on the capital’s night buses. Ahh.

And finally, a Surbiton couple was shocked this week to discover a frog in their lettuce. Mrs Smith, who found the tasty amphibian, said, “I shouted to my husband ‘frog in the lettuce, there is a frog in the lettuce’,” leaving no room for doubt as to what had happened. She went on to chuckle, “the fact [the lettuce] came from a supplier called R Pond tickled us,” making it abundantly clear that she and her husband will laugh at literally anything – funny or otherwise – which makes them strong potential readers of this blog.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

London's Local Shop-Loving Celebrity Population Under Threat?


The whole of North East London will be engaged in rapturous celebration this weekend, as news broke that a Walthamstow Spar has been short-listed for the International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award. The winner of the award will be announced on 26th of September, and many local residents will not be sleeping a wink until then. “I’ll not be sleeping a wink until then,” one excited Spar shopper told me while hopping from foot to foot and almost dropping her can of hotdogs. “I’ll be having these hotdogs for my dinner to celebrate,” I think she said, but I was already leaving the shop by then.  The Walthamstow Spar will be going up against retailing giants Tesco in their bid for glory, but staff are hoping that the personal touches, such as friendly greetings for each customer and an average IQ above 64 will see them storm to victory over the big firm. They are also hoping that their famous bacon jam will win favour with the judges. Dirty bastards.

Normal jam, without bacon

The carnival atmosphere around Walthamstow illustrates just how important local shops are to local people who live in the locality of them. And we take these nuclei of the community for granted at our peril, for if we lose them we may well lose our celebrities too. Celebrities such as grinning, raven haired, surreal ‘funny’ man Noel Fielding. Unlike most celebrities who bang on endlessly about the destruction of rainforests, starvation and disease in Africa and the plight of the Gurkhas, Fielding has chosen his moral outrage to be the Swains Lane shopping parade in Highgate. And a fine choice it is too. Fielding feels so passionately about the parade that on Wednesday he got up at a public meeting in front of 300 people – very nearly as many as who genuinely like The Mighty Boosh rather than just saying they do in order to appear cool – and verbally opposed plans to knock it down and build a lovely Waitrose. Asked if he would consider moving away from the area if the proposed developments were to take place, Fielding emphatically stated, “I don’t know.”

Which in my mind means yes.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, Les Dennis’ residency in London looks under threat as his local family run newsagent in Highgate is at risk of closure due to product peddling gits Sainsbury’s plans to move in on its turf. Dennis is understandably livid.
“Northwood Dairy isn’t just a convenience store – it is the heart and hub of our community,” the ex Family Fortunes presenter wibbled. “[The owners] watch out for everyone including the elderly and the vulnerable. Would we get that at a Sainsbury’s Local?”
You would if they were shoplifting.

A dejected Les Dennis wonders where his next pint of milk will come from

Even our Premiership footballers are upping sticks and buggering off elsewhere due to the disappearance of local shops. Former Arsenal superstar Robin van Persie has had his transfer to Manchester United all but confirmed this week in a move reportedly worth £24 million. His former manager Arsene Wenger is devastated, stating that he had no choice but to let the striker go after the Dutchman was left shattered when his local Co op closed to make way for a big Asda near his North London home. The decision to move to Manchester was an easy one for van Persie who had done his research and noted that just a short walk from Old Trafford, on nearby Taylor Lane, can be found a branch of the Co op with an ATM, a National Lottery desk and a Pay Point at which he can recharge his electricity key.         

Could this be a sign of things to come? If we Londoners do not do something about this situation now, in ten year’s time we may be completely celebrityless. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, London.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

London Welcomes the Disabled


The Paralympic Games begin in less than two weeks here in London, and where better to hold such an event than the city that held the forerunner to the Paralympics, the 1948 Wheelchair Games? What better place indeed? Many people – both able-bodied and disabled alike – from all over the world will be converging into the capital’s Olympic venues to enjoy the Paralympic events, which is fine as long they don’t want to sit together. The official Olympic website does, however, boast of, among other things, “numerous accessible toilets” for the lucky disabled to enjoy. Parking spaces close to the sporting venues are apparently limited in number though, but disabled spectators will be able to wheel, stumble or drag themselves the considerable distances from their cars to the events, and these feats of exertion and endurance will enable them to empathise with their sporting heroes, thus making the experience all the more real. So it seems that London has also considerately made the decision to not make things easy for the disabled during the Paralympic events in order to avoid patronising them with fawning concern for their needs.

Furthermore, some parts of London have decided to continue to challenge its once over-privileged disabled citizens by charging them for previously free blue badges which allow them to park in the limited disabled spaces available. The charitable act of charging the disabled for easier access to amenities, making them feel less patronised by the more abled of body, is being trialled by Barnet council but is expected to be rolled out in other areas of London. This hasn’t stopped some whingeing disablers making a fuss though. Jeff Rafael, trustee of Disability Action Barnet, backtracking on his decision to become disabled, moaned, “It is like we’re being charged for being disabled. No-one is disabled by choice and it feels like we’re being victimised – it’s ridiculous.” Brushing the chip from his shoulder, he went on to gripe, “If they are going to charge, they need to make sure the spaces are available. Nine times out of ten I get to a space and it is parked in by someone without a badge or who is not the intended user.”

I must say that I find this spurious claim hard to swallow



And if they do not wish to access London by car fortuitous Londoners in wheelchairs have the option of using the tube. The map clearly shows that the capital’s four wheeled fortunates are easily able access nearly a third of stations. If there is no step free access at their destination there is nothing to stop them just staying on the train and having a lovely chat with one of the friendly locals until they arrive at a station that has.

Or if they prefer, wheelchair users and those with visual disabilities can access London using our spacious, clutter-free walkways. Waltham Forest, one of the Olympic boroughs, has a long history of providing such top notch facilities

So come on, disableds of the world, stop moaning and just enjoy yourselves. 



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

London Imaginatively Defends Itself Against Crime

 
Following my recent post on vandalism in the capital, Woolwich shopkeepers have come up with a unique way to discourage vandals from damaging their property. They have painted babies’ faces on their shutters in an effort to dissuade the perpetrators of potential vandalistic naughtiness from smashing up their shop fronts, and move on to destroy their neighbours’ shops instead. The thinking behind the apparently stupidity-fuelled scheme is that the hearts of even the hardest of criminals will be softened by the images, and that instead of smashing property they will be persuaded to go home and crochet a pair of booties or write a children’s book regarding a bunny rabbit’s first day at school.

Another almost infallible South London crime fighting strategy is to wear down potential vandals with happy-crappy bum-noted tedium. The innovators of this ingenious plan are none other than South London’s answer to the sex pistols, the Croydon Intercultural Singing Project, or CRISP to give them their ‘street’ name. The Croydon based crooners have launched a competition to write a song about the positive response of Croydon residents to last year’s riots. They are hoping that someone from the area will come up with something so arse-clenchingly, tambourine-bashingly self congratulatory that local ne’er-do-wells will be physically unable to repeat last year’s disorder due to the constant need to cringe. 

"I'm a fire starter, twisted fire starter..."

If that doesn’t work, perhaps we should all take a leaf out of the residents of Canbury’s book, and actually talk to each other. It seems like a dramatic and, let’s face it, pretty repulsive step to take, but plucky Canburians have given it a go, and it appears to have paid dividends in terms of unfounded speculation about crime figures. Nicola Duffey, chair of Canbury ward panel, has been delighted with the perceived success of the ‘meet and greet scheme’, which, from what I understand it, is not so much a scheme as a few people in sensible clothing telling other people that they must bellow ‘hello’ at those unfortunate enough to stray within their vicinity.

“It is going good at the moment,” flibbered Duffy happily, “And remarkably crime, especially in Canbury seems to be relatively low, which is lovely.”    
     
Lovely indeed.

A passing cyclist gives an elderly neighbour a cheery wave in Canbury yesterday

But if, like me, living in London has rendered the thought of conversing with another human being with whom you have had no prior contact seem akin to exposing your genitalia during itchy season and tearfully screaming “I only want to be loved” repeatedly, then why not invoke memories of genocide in your fellow man as a form of defence against crime? This is what the manager of New Malden’s branch of HSBC tried recently when he displayed a Sri Lankan flag outside his bank after hearing that all Sri Lankans are partial to a bit of bank robbery. There were numerous complaints by the po-faced Sri Lankan community, who said that the flag reminded them of the horrors of their country’s civil war. The flag was eventually taken down, but call it a coincidence if you like, the bank wasn’t robbed – by Sri Lankans or anyone else for that matter – the whole time the flag was mounted upon it.

It's something worth thinking about; that’s all I am saying.      


Monday, 13 August 2012

Olympic Update 14: The True Olympic Legacy


The London Olympics has drawn to a close, and the word ‘legacy’ and phrase ‘inspire a generation’ continues to reverberate around the media, driving many to the point where the legacy that has been left to them is to inspire a generation to shut the fuck up about the legacy of inspiring a generation. But aside from repeating the same hollow phrases endlessly until they become nothing more than nonsensical groups of syllables whose meaning has become far less than the sum of their parts, what will we take away from the London Olympics? What is its true legacy, the legacy that will inspire a generation? What is the thing that we will remember most about the Games, the memory which will inspire a generation through its legacy?

Will it be washboard stomached, jack of all trades, Olympic poster girl, Jessica Ennis, triumphing in the heptathlon?  

What about cheerier 3D version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Mo Farah, running very fast twice? 


Or damp-smelling, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” sailing boater, Ben Ainslie, becoming the best ever Olympic pirate?

Pool pissing American man-fish, Michael Phelps, winning his 53rd gold medal in just two Olympic competitions?

Self proclaimed living legend and perpetually mucking about Jamaican joker, Usain Bolt, running very fast three times?

The Spice Girls?

No. In my opinion (and it’s clearly my opinion that counts here - if you don't like it get your own blog to fill with incoherent bollocks) by far and away the lastingest memory; the true symbol of the Games; the thing that will inspire a generation the most; the real legacy of the London Olympics 2012 is quite plainly the golden post boxes. These golden symbols of triumph doubling as transitory letter receptacles are everything the British Olympics should stand for. They stand proud and tall, but not ostentatiously tall, not too showy like American golden post boxes would be if they existed, probably. They share form and function in equal measure, much like Victoria Pendleton, Tom Daley and Claire Balding. And, of course, their instatement is not without its minor cock-ups and controversies.

You'll never get that in there, love

Of course the golden post boxes will help us on the road to future Olympic success, as they act as a visual marker of where in the country the best genes can be found. Unsurprisingly golden post boxes can be found in the traditionally industrious cities of Sheffield and Leeds; less predictably their presence can be found in Harlow and Milton Keynes. Anyway, now that we know where the rich genetic pools of athleticism are, all contraception can be removed from these areas (perhaps with the exception of Harlow and Milton Keynes) and deposited into areas lacking in shiny postal street furniture. Having put this strategy in place, all we need to do is sit back until the Kabul 2032 Olympic Games when we will have an army of 20 year-old world beating athletic super humans. And all the fat disease-riddled chavs will have died off by then.

Now, that is what I call a legacy.        


Friday, 10 August 2012

Sweet Friday Afternoon: Half-Arsed Weekly News Round-Up

Reports came in on Monday that the City of London’s only lap-dancing club has sadly been shut down. Charlie’s Bar, near Tower Hill, had its request for a sex entertainment venue licence turned down last year by the City of London Corporation, due to the Corporation's stance that sex entertainment venues are damaging to women. The law still allowed Charlie’s Bar to hold up to 11 lap-dancing nights a year – presumably this amount of nights is not damaging to women in any way – but the venue flouted this and held at least 12 events, thus spewing damaged women out into the City at all hours at the weekends. This news came as London Pleasure Gardens, apparently an ‘arts quarter’ in East London, has gone into administration. It has been a crushing week for the gentleman about town with a roving eye for the ladies, who now has to resort to ogling the warm ups of synchronised swimmers in order to catch a bit of enticing girl-on-girl action.

Phwoar!

A lucky punter enjoys an exotic dance from an alluring dancer at Charlie's Bar last week

Stall holders were outraged this week after being sold expensive pitches on the temporary ‘Olympia’ food market in Leyton. The stall holders were told that their pitches would be passed by thousands of Olympic visitors daily, but were not told that Marshall Road, on which the market is situated, leads principally to Asda’s car park and a few blackberry bushes. Moreover, the council has gone out of its way to draw business away from the area by printing leaflets advising visitors to take a route to the games that completely avoids the market. One stall holder, who has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket by the debacle, was said to be furious with Waltham Forest Council, but was hoping to make most of his losses back on the resale of Tower Bridge, which he purchased from Tower Hamlets Council last month, as soon as the deeds come through the post.      

Thames Valley police revealed this week that they have employed a new weapon in the fight against youth gang crime – music. After failed experiments involving the attempted engagement of youth by playing ‘The Laughing Policeman’ on You Tube, Thames Valley Police finally admitted defeat and commissioned a song produced by old favourites DJ LoMotes and Phoenix Keys, and featuring timeless rappers Styler, Sicx, Dimples and Treasure (not their real names). It would have been a dream line up had renowned South London rap duo DJ Hot Broccoli and MC Wicked Groceries been able to join the collaboration, but they were not allowed out as they had to revise for their GCSEs.

"Excuse me madam, may I see you across the road?"

It is hoped that London’s young people will be inspired by Team GB’s success in the Olympic Games and take up sport, pollution permitting, instead of making a cannabis-smelling nuisance of themselves. One area in which we have particularly excelled this week is women kicking the crap out of each other.  I think we can be confident that this is one sphere of Olympic sport in which we are almost guaranteed continued success. Go Britain!