Sunday, October 12, 2014

To help you keep well-informed

History has corners of relative obscurity where the lesser-known relatives of famous historical figures carve their own nooks and crannies in the passageway that is our journey towards our destiny. Very often these characters had a more profound influence than that for which they are generally given credit. There follows a history of some of them.

Vlad the Improver

Vlad was a helpful child and as he matured his helpfulness blossomed. He saw it as his role to make things better despite the obstacles put in his way, often by those whom he was attempting to aid. His firm conviction that he possessed the gift of seeing things the way that they were meant to be ensured that he was always busy. He would roll up at someone or other’s dwelling – the dwelling could be anything from a rude hut to a carefully crafted castle, the someone (or other) could be a close friend, a casual acquaintance or just some chosen person whose home he happened to be passing. Without the awkward business of waiting to be asked he would set about rearranging the furniture, changing the décor, moving doors and windows, re-styling clothes and so on. The projects could last anything from a few hours to months at a time. “No rest for the gifted” he would quip, quite regularly, and no one was allowed to rest until perfection had been achieved. Strangely people were not always pleased to receive his help. Luckily for them the concept of psychoanalysis had not yet been discovered – had it been, then Vlad would have felt compelled to improve the character of people as well as their environment. As it was, however, increasing numbers of people were driven from their homes, often destroying them completely before leaving. They would travel as far away as possible, often so deranged by fear of a visit that they would volunteer to be impaled by Vlad’s hitherto easy-going cousin.

Attila the Hungry

In the dark ages, the folk of central and southern Europe had a pretty hard time of it. It was dark for one thing and central and southern Europe for another. Like most young people, Attila had an appetite that exceeded his corporeal needs. Sadly, he had no culinary skills and was too lethargic from overeating to find or buy food for himself. He therefore adopted the habit of fetching up at someone or other’s house (a different someone or other than those visited by Vlad; these people did not all live in the same age) at mealtime in the hope of being invited to join in. Such was his patience that in most cases the residents would ask him if he would care to share their food. Within minutes he would be outside about ninety percent of the comestibles in the house and be asleep in front of the fire, his corpulence often resulting in preventing the heat from reaching other parts of the house. It is reckoned that during his journeys across the steppes and Europe, as many as four in five people died of starvation combined with fatigue.

Ginseng Khan

“You want to rub a little bit of dianthus oil on that” was typical of the sort of advice disseminated by young Khan. We assume that until very recently the skills of doctors and apothecaries were primitive, bound up in myth, and ineffective. This view is not without some justification, but there have always been those with gifts of healing and folklore has quite regularly built up a valuable collection of remedies and treatments. Young Khan was blessed with the conviction that nature had a cure for everything. He had unguents for ulcers, balms for blisters, soups for syphilis all carefully prepared from flora and fungi that he had collected and distilled himself. Scholars estimate that upwards of three and three-quarter million people died from his cures. Many times that number were driven insane by mushroom-induced hallucinations. When Genghis Khan started to have itchy feet and felt like spending winter in Venice, he found that his march through civilisation went largely unchallenged because no bugger was well enough to stop him.

Alexander the Grout

“Yes – I’ll be there next Tuesday to finish it off” – householders from Skopje to Surat were told the same thing. You could scarcely visit a settlement on that route that had not been bodged by young Al. His most famous projects included the Tat Mahal, the Hanging baskets of Babylon (“OK – my guy says that the compost will be with you soon, problem with the supplier, mate – nothing I can do”), the statues of Zeus (“Only one Zeus? You better ask Monty Python about that”) and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (“Not my fault, pal, I didn’t do the wiring, have you tried finding a sparks in ante-Christian Egypt?”). When his nephew set off on his adventures he was greeted in delight by the inhabitants who only discovered too late that he was not head of the party of Eastern European craftsmen that they had sent for at very reasonable rates. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Visitor receives the honorary title of Uffar Gwirion

The children smiled politely, but were certainly not going to pull his finger.

Slimy Dave wonders if he can get away with smacking the foreign-looking kid while Bazza is distracted.

Bazza takes some time out to visit the special needs pupil.

In response to the question, Bazza points out on the map exactly "where the fuck" he is from.

"Tell me if you think you are going to get away with this shit"

Having spent several hours in the company of what can only be described as an utter twat, Bazza delights in some mature conversation.

Slimy Dave proudly boasts of his budgetary restructuring, moving money from school meals to supporting local businesses. "A hungry kid is a motivated kid" he explains. Angela wonders whether to drink her water or pour it over the daft bastard. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maud - sod off out of my garden you bloody hoodlum

Our walk today took us to Waggoners Wells, where there is a plaque commemorating a poem written there by Tennyson in 1863.

Here is what Alf wrote:

"Flower in the crannied wall"

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

Here is the poem I wrote today:

Flower in the crannied wall
I leave you just where I found you
If every bugger tore out the flora
Mankind would all be much the poorer
Tennyson, poet or a know it all?
Vandal. That is God’s (and also my) view

Will I get a plaque? Will I bollocks.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Keeping up with the correspondence

An interesting selection of emails arrive this evening.

1) From Chattanooga a young man invites me to “Dr. David Banks will be teaching on Professionalism, get ready for the time of your life. “
I reply thus:
Do you, by any chance, think that as part of the good doctor's discourse on professionalism he will touch on the topic of making sure that you always have the correct email address?
And has anyone ever pointed out that your name is an anagram of "An orgasmic hen"? 
love and peace

2) I am alarmed to learn that my membership of Bay Harbor (sic) Fitness has expired.
I tell them:
Thank you. As you are 4396.8 miles from my house, I figure that I could get as fit as I need by walking to your establishment. It may be a tad tiring, so I would be grateful for a lift back.
love and peace

3) I am surprised to learn that I applied for the role of Plant Manager in East Palestine – a young lady writes thus:
Thank you very much for your interest in the Plant Manager role. We are writing to let you know this position has been put on hold indefinitely.
I reply, effusively:
Thank you for letting me know.
I note that there is an East Palestine in Ohio, and I am assuming that this is the location of the role to which you allude. This is a relief as the other Palestine would not be my chosen work location at the moment. 
I don't recall sharing any interest in plant management - I tend to put them in the ground surround them with some organic compost and make sure that they are watered as required - more husbandry than management I would say, but it is perhaps my tendency towards pedantry that was a factor in my lack of success in obtaining this post. 
As the venue is 3703.2 miles from my house, I would probably not be there on time each morning, so perhaps it is for the best.
By the way, did you know that your name was an anagram of "Naked as the lingerie"?
love and peace

4) The same man from Chattanooga writes :
What would you do with $2500 to make Chattanooga a more connected city?
I reply:

I would buy train tickets, leaving the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
You’re making it too easy now.
Love and peace

Friday, May 16, 2014

Monetary slang

Yesterday I received an email that began:

It was a pleasure speaking with you again today.  Below is the formula to determine the minimum collateral value before a house call for both Margin and Non-Purpose Loans.  The maintenance requirement for equities is 30% for both loan types.

Minimum Collateral Value = Debit Balance / 1 – Maintenance Requirement

And concluded:

Please call me if any additional questions come up.

I didn’t have any questions as such, so I consulted my friends on Facebook, and was able to compile a comprehensive and challenging list. I was therefore able to reply thus:

Yo! Bobby!

It sure was cool to speak TO you too, although I have no recollection of it.

There is an expression used in the home of the Empire “I didn’t understand a word of it”. That would not be apposite in this case, as I understood all of the words; it was your neat trick of combining them in such a way as to render them incomprehensible that got me. Well done!

Anyway, I didn’t really have any questions, so I asked my friends on Facebook if they would like to take advantage of your kind offer. Here they are:

Rosemarie asks: WTF? You know people who can decipher that shit?   (that one may rhetorical)
Mike: How long before you own all of my assets?
Lynne: If God created the sun on the fourth day, how had four days passed?
Richard: …do you still do that IRS dodge you they used to and who is your contact?
Lynne (again): what is purpose of a non-purpose loan?
Dave: Where did I put my car keys?
FN: Would you rather be a flying horse, a unicorn, or just a regular horse?
Lynne (again, she’s a saucy minx, isn’t she?): Would you rather star in a porn film and have to watch it with your parents or have your parents star in a porn film and have to watch it with your friends?
Richard (again): Red sauce, brown sauce or no sauce at all?
Norma: Mathematically, with no brackets, that formula does not make sense! Why divide anything by 1?
FN: (again): Did you ever practise kissing with one of your sisters' Barbies?
Adam: Guess what?

Over to you

Love and peace.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


The Indescribable reports "Nigel Farage says homosexuality makes most Britons aged over 70 feel uncomfortable as he defends candidate Roger Helmer"

This is a tricky one, isn't it? Maybe our Nige is telling the truth for once. I tend to err on the side of fairness, and just because someone has a proven track record of talking total bollocks all of the time, it does not prove that he is not occasionally capable of telling the truth once or twice. But let's put him aside for a moment. I would quite like to put him aside permanently – it is not as though there is a shortage of twats to replace him.

Let us turn our attention for a moment then to the elderly. Yes, they may be irritating and irrelevant, but that does not mean that they are not deserving of compassion. So, granddad, if homosexuality makes you feel uncomfortable the solution is simple. Stop doing it. Alternatively, find a less painful way of doing it – I am sure that these exist, but don’t wish to encourage the use of this website for the dissemination of such information.

If any of you wish to tell Roger how to roger Nigel in a less painful way, his website is here:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lady Chatterley's Plover

A few weeks ago a friend of mine appeared on the electric television (for about the length of time it takes a rhea to cross a road) having been witness to a rhea roaming the Hertfordshire countryside.

The Torygraph and other worthy tomes today report that it has been shot. The rhea, that is, not my friend – he remains cheerfully bullet-free, despite the best efforts of the Establishment.

The dangerous animal (again, I allude to the bird, not my friend) was shot by a gamekeeper. There is no irony in the job title being in direct conflict with the job description. A local golfer is quoted as saying “It’s sad that someone had to shoot it, but if it was a traffic hazard, I understand that.”

My niece pointed out that “traffic hazards” are not exclusively avian. If there is a need to rid the world of potential traffic hazards then it is incumbent on me to join the kill. I will be arming myself like Rambo and setting of in pursuit of them. I believe I shall start with Hertfordshire golfers, whose ridiculous clothing can distract motorists, whose badly directed golf balls can easily unseat motor cyclists and whose ridiculous opinions can cause car drivers (me) to such excesses of rage that they lose all notion of highway etiquette.

It is perhaps a cruel thing to do, but I am not one to shirk my duty. I will attempt to be humane in the execution and leave the bodies neatly piled in bunkers so that they can be easily covered over.

If you can let me have a list of other potential traffic hazards, I will develop a schedule on my free weekends.

*  For the benefit of Abe, the CIA analyst who has been tasked with monitoring my net activities (Hi, Abe – how are Cynthia and the kids?), I should perhaps point out that this article is intending to be satirical. I am, as you know, a pinko, tree-hugging, commie, pacifist faggot, and the only dangerous weapon I shall be likely to wield today is my bread knife should I feel esurient of an evening and set about the organic, wholemeal loaf that I baked overnight in order to get outside some of it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stink Theory

Just yesterday evening on the electric wireless, there was a short piece about TCM the scientists and another of their invaluable experiments. I will list the points made.

·         They were conducting experiments on mice in order to research pain
·         The mice did not show behaviour consistent with experiencing pain
·         They (the experimenters, not the experimentees, ffs) deduced that the mice’s reaction was due to their showing signs of stress which somehow alleviated the pain
·         This stress disappeared when the experimenters left the room
·         They then discovered that the stress was only present when the mice were being handled by men; when women were present it had no effect
·         They discovered that the scent of men is similar to the scent of male mice and this was influencing the mice
·         They proved this by asking the men to leave behind their sweaty t-shirts and leave the room – the mice were stressed by the smell of male human clothing
·         This experiment was conducted in Canada

Here are some of my observations on this little story

·         After 14 billion + years of this universe expanding, the most intelligent life form known in these parts has still not evolved beyond the stage of finding it necessary to torture rodents.
·         Don’t we already know that observers affect the outcome – innit called the Observer Paradox or summat?
·         If the smell of the human male has such an acute effect upon the scientific method, it supports my theory that all of the science I learned in school is flawed, if not complete balderdash. All of the experiments I observed during the 5 painful years I was forced to learn chemistry, physics and biology were conducted in the presence of a roomful of adolescents. For most of the time I was too shy to get close enough to the girls to find out whether they smelt unpleasant, but I can testify that the boys were beyond disgusting and this has been my experience of adolescent males ever since; they stink. The little belief I had before in magnetic north and south poles, the reflexes of frogs and Avogadro’s hypothesis and all other guff has now dissipated, and I confess to feeling strangely liberated. Those particles whizzing round the corridors at Cern are motivated only by the need to get away from the disgusting odour of physicists. We shall learn nothing about the nature of existence by meddling with it.
·         If the human armpit smells like a mouse armpit, then there is probably a market out there for rodent deodorant.
·         If you are unfortunate enough to be admitted to hospital and require an operation make sure that you request that the anaesthesiologist has appalling personal hygiene.
·         The sight of the experimenters removing their shirts would probably cause most sentient mice more stress than the smell of their sweat.
·         Canadians are not as friendly as they would have us believe
·         Science or religion – which one is more crazy? Buggered if I can decide.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I can tell you what the papers say, but am buggered if I can think of a reason why they are saying it.

I thought that I would begin my day by checking the Torygraph. As ever it provides a treasure trove of insightful material, guaranteed to improve the mind.

“Treasury minister: I will fight against HS2 rail project”. Ms Andrea Leadsom (who she? Ed.) is promising to tie herself to the railway line in protest. Good for her;  I am off to buy some rope, and persuade some of her colleagues to join her. 

I have already mentioned on facebook (who he? Ed.) this sad tale which I originally found elsewhere:

There is an article in the Indescribable today about a Tibetan monk who left his laptop on a train after having his photograph taken with Bozza. It claims that he is upset about losing years of research stored on it (the laptop - not the train or the photograph, do keep up). I suspect that he will be even more distraught when he comes face to face with Lord Yama who will tell him that he will be reincarnated as a slug for associating with slimeballs in this life. The path to liberation is strewn with distractions, and I, for one, will not be tempted, which is why I turn down the more lurid requests from some of you. 

William Wordsworth would be in 'fits' about planning reforms, says Sir Andrew Motion”. I wish that old Bill had been a political campaigner, rather than taking to his chalk and slate with the result that we were meant to study his utterances on damp October afternoons instead of being out losing our virginity behind the gym. Verbose old bugger. “Intimations of Immortality” my arse. In “The Solitary Reaper” Wordsworth describes the singing of a young lady, presumably she is singing in Gaelic as he wonders about the subject of her song. Well, Bill, she was actually chanting a warning to other local girls about a dodgy looking voyeur and potential pervert.

Mary Berry (who she? Ed) is campaigning against overcooked omelettes. I am sure you all share her outrage. There are cynics who would say that the established media have not only scraped the bottom of the barrel when it comes to suitable subject matter, but have removed 28 feet of topsoil beneath it. I have long eschewed the practice of digesting poultry periods, so her remonstrations will not attract my support, but let us all be grateful that she has found a cause that will add meaning to her life. 

They also report that “Gemma Chan, the Sherlock actress, says she hopes Arsenal will win the FA Cup after the injuries the team have suffered.” Gemma (who she? Ed) should be applauded for sharing this opinion with us all, and we should not be conflicted if it turns out that President Ivan Gašparovič of Slovakia will be rooting for Hull.

Finally, there is a long article about gifts being given to prince George by the happy Antipodeans. They are wasting their time – I haven’t even had a thank you note for the dog castrating kit that I sent him for the christening. I know Bill is too dumb to write, but Kathy is capable of wielding a crayon if there is a footman available to hold the paper still, ffs.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

I love you all

For all of you who will be celebrating the death of a quasi-fictional, god-bothering soppy bastard tomorrow, may I remind you that February 14th is also the anniversary of the death of P G Wodehouse, a man who could bring more joy in a few words than a warehouse full of crap verses hawked by the avaricious to the gullible.

So don't waste your money on rip-off meals and chemical laden flora, perambulate merrily in the general direction of your library and pick up an improving novel.

"He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say 'when!'"

Friday, January 17, 2014

Alfred the Grave

I am sure that you will all be delighted to read in the Torygraph that some interminable busybody has been poking around among the dead, and claims to have found the bones of king Alfred in a box in Winchester. It is a little late to return them to him, but I am sure he is grateful for the attention.

Most of you will be familiar with Alf, although very few will have attended his funeral. I wish they would leave him in peace, along with future corpses in North Hampshire, amongst whom I may well number sometime in the next 50 years.

The Torygraph reports that the bones may be those of Alf’s son, Edward the Elder. Alf showed great perspicacity in bestowing this sobriquet onto his son. Many of our modern royals resemble shrubs, in appearance, intelligence and, one would like to think, in their contribution to the welfare of us all. Ted’s daughter married an illegal immigrant, one Sitric Caech (Norwegian for Citrus Cake), and thus the purity of the genetic line was ensured.

Alfred is portrayed as a great hero among the British. I am sure Michael Gove has a photograph of him on his desk. He was not, however, a great liberal reformer, and somewhat cruelly named one of his sons Ethel Weird.

When I get home, I shall have a rummage round in the loft to see if there is any trace of Vortigern, king of the Britons. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

Thank you. I am happy, and quite together, man.

This week, I did something that I have not done for a long time. But I don’t want to write about that, this is a family-friendly forum.

This week, I did something that I have not done for a long time. I bought a book and instead of putting it somewhere near the bottom of the pile of books awaiting my attention, I read it. The queue-jumping tome to which I allude is entitled “Shell Shocked”, and is the autobiography of Howard Kaylan. (Who he? Ed.)

One of my favourite songs of the 1960s was (and still is) “She’d Rather Be With Me”. I loved it the first time I heard it, and remember seeing the Turtles on Top of the Pops, in a film (that I cannot now find on the electric internet) that was full of joy and happiness. It is a really simple song, as most of the best pop music is. They had had an earlier hit in the UK – “Happy Together”, but “She Rather” did better in the UK, whereas “Happy Together” was their biggest hit in the USA.

Mark and Howard were first rate singers, and later appeared with Frank Zappa, and sang on lots of tracks by all sorts of rock bands. If you want to appreciate just how good Howard was, watch and listen to this, where the instrumental 
sound track has been stripped. (Go on, watch it)

I went with some friends to see them with the Mothers of Invention in Liverpool in 1970. I can recall little of it, I suspect I may have been an unwitting victim, and inhaled the smoke from narcotic substances that may have been in use among certain less respectable members of the audience. Howard remembers my being there, because he was kind enough to reply to a message I sent him some time ago, and when I mentioned that I was the one with long hair and under the influence of drugs he confessed to having had a clear recollection of that.

Before I discuss the book specifically, I need to give it some context from my perspective. I seldom read biographies or autobiographies; my preference is for fiction. I have an iconoclastic view of most of those performers of the music that makes up my record collection. I am not overly interested in their lives and deeds, much less their opinions. I occasionally watch some programme or other on the electric television where the survivors of the music scene of my youth talk about, and usually overhype their fellow travellers, and such chat normally descends into reminiscences of people who were “really amazing”, of whom no one else has ever heard. On the whole, I am glad that I remained undiscovered. I was not, contrary to rumour, invited to replace Mick Taylor when he left the Stones. I did not shag Janis Joplin, nor appear on the cover of Sgt Pepper. From here, I don’t think anything other than the anonymous hippy scene that I found myself part of would have suited me. I had a really good time, and I am pleased with the path of my existence since then.

Anyway, the book begins with a stonking introduction by Penn Jillette, and Howard’s narrative begins with the sentence “I was snorting coke on Abraham Lincoln’s desk in the White House”.

‘Shell shocked’ follows a fairly standard plan. It is largely chronological, with much of the story concentrating on the period with the Turtles and the Mothers. It is not laden with deep insights, and that is clearly not the intention. It is free from malice, and captures some of the feeling of that time. There is little psychoanalysis and it is largely unjudgemental. If he is hard on anyone, it is on himself. It is full of anecdotes with plenty of reference to sex and drugs without any unnecessary embellishment.

So far it seems as if I am unenthusiastic, but I liked it immensely. In reading it the character of those guys who I first saw over 45 years ago having such a great time singing their song shines through to the end. I think what is so cool about it is that I get no sense of hype. There is a story to be told, and those who were there will want to read it, and those of us who weren’t there but observed it will probably rejoice in seeing the protagonist survive all of the adventures and remain the same guy that started off, just wanting to play music, have a good time and be a drug crazed hippy. I feel as though I have read a story written by a friend – I think to have produced a story like that is quite an achievement.

I hope some of you read the book and, if you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Love and peace.

You can buy it here:

(and other places)

Friday, November 29, 2013

You have been advised.

In case you are in need of a reminder, here is a list of “festivals”* I will not be celebrating this year or any other year:

  • Thanksgiving**
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas***
  • New Year ****
  • Eid
  • Diwali
  • Vaisakhi
  • Navnatri
  • Easter
  • Whitsuntide
  • Trooping the Colour
  • Cup Final Day
  • The excoriation of St Oswald the Perverse
  • Hallowe’en
  • Garifuna Settlement Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • The birthday of the poet Keats
  • Vientianne boat race day
  • (that's enough festivals. Ed.)

Here is a list of festivals I will be doing my best to celebrate (and I am doing quite well at the moment in this venture, thank you very much for asking):

  • Every day, and its ability to be filled with love, joy and laughter. 

Love and peace.

* i.e. Bloody silly traditions
** Am I thankful? You bet your butt.
*** It is almost December and I haven’t started work on my card yet, so am in a state of abject panic.
**** Yes, there is only one of them, you silly Americans.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dirty Protest

I was surprised to find an email this morning from someone who, as far as I can recall, I have never met. These are the contents:

If you are married and file a joint tax return, you can contribute to an IRA for your spouse in addition to your own IRA. Contributions may be permitted to either a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA regardless of whether your spouse earns any income or is eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k).
Generally, individuals who are unemployed are not allowed to contribute to retirement accounts such as IRAs because they do not have eligible compensation. However, there is an exception for individuals with spouses that are employed and meet certain requirements. The employed spouse is allowed to make an IRA contribution on behalf of a non-working spouse or a spouse who has little income. These contributions are referred to as "spousal IRA contributions". Here we review the eligibility requirements for making spousal IRA contributions.

Eligibility Requirements To make a spousal IRA contribution, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • You must be married.
  • You must file a joint income-tax return.
  • You must have compensation or earned income of at least the amount you contribute to your IRAs.
I replied thus:

Thank you, whoever you are, for your rather surprising invitation for me to contribute to the Irish Republic(an) Army.
While I sympathise with some of their aims, and share their disdain of colonial oppression, I am loathe to finance terrorism or violence in any form.
I am surprised you have singled me out for this attention - perhaps you are an undercover CIA operative testing to see whether my lefty tree-hugging credentials are valid. I must confirm that my position is that of pacifism compounded by abject cowardice.
Again, I am obliged for the invitation, but instead I will be investing available funds in a splendid vegetarian meal when I visit Leicester this weekend.
May I reciprocate your unsolicited invitation with some unsolicited advice? 
1) Be circumspect in your choice of political affiliation - eschew nationalists, conservatives, separatists and other loonies - it will all end badly.
2) Check email addresses before you send messages.
love and peace

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Talke Pits Development Company - AGM 2013

It is important to report the processes that underlie the success of major international organisations.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Countdown to the Royal Divorce part 27

You can imagine the sort of day that I have had.

It is no fun, I can tell you, being woken by Camilla at 5:30. At least it only happens by means of the electric telephone, I feel sorry for Charles sometimes, being woken from his dreams of Liz’s abdication by a mixture of a hacking cough, a laugh that could set concrete and flatulence that could solve the world’s energy crisis. (I refuse to visit Highgrove any more, other than for a couple of hours, the noises that one hears in the night there are nothing but echoes of what those imprisoned in the Tower must have heard in the 14th century.)

“Old grinning chops has gone into labour, darling!” She shrieked in my unprepared ear. “Just my sodding luck. We were due to go to Bridlington tomorrow, I suppose that will be cancelled now.”

“What’s so bloody special about Bridlington, you daft mare?” I asked, perplexedly.

“It’s the nearest I get to the seaside these days, darling. Fish and chips, a stroll along the prom, and with a bit of luck something hilarious like Chaz falling off a fucking donkey. I always like Yorkshire anyway, they are surprisingly deferential, ever since I told them I was related to Fred Trueman. I expect now it will be 4 hours sitting in some ghastly waiting room, while Big Ears drools over his grandchild.”

“Any clues as to whether it is male or female? I could do with nipping down to Ladbrokes to earn a couple of grand to tide me over to the weekend.”

“Dunno and don’t care, honestly darling all this fuss over a bloody baby. It’s not as if these people have anything else to do but breed. You’ve spent time at Sandringham – sod all to do apart from gawking at the locals,” (I diplomatically made no reference to in-breeding) “even Mark Phillips got a hole in one on a couple of occasions – although I think they had to put some crème-de-menthe in his Tizer and tell him he was actually riding in the 3:45 at Newmarket. Now that daft bint Zara has decided to join in too. I am so depressed – got any good stories?”

I embellished some gossip I had heard about young Armstrong-Jones and a sherry trifle, which cheered her up a bit and she rang off.

“Have you come far?” - Liz still thinks that is funny.

“Yes, all the way downstairs, you vile old bag, I’d just nodded off again after talking to Cams – it took me over 40 minutes to dispel the image of Mark Phillips and coitus from my mind”.

“They can’t think of a name you know”

“Well as they aren’t letting on whether it has dangly bits or not, then it is not surprising. I suggest they pick something androgynous, like Michael.” (I knew this would throw her off her stride.)

“She wanted to marry at the Abbey, you know, and have us all sing the Horst Wessel Lied.” It’s been 35 years, and she still isn’t over it – and I’ve heard the story from her more times than Phil has offended a foreigner.

“Well, you know what these Germans are like”, I said, and I got away with it.

“It’s going to be a boy. I insisted.” (She is starting to have delusions, poor old cow, Phil has to get up early in the morning to get his gaffs in first these days. Fortunately,  she still has this ability to make people believe that she couldn’t have possibly just said that.

“I’ll flip through Wisden and find something suitable, sweety” I assured her, although I doubt whether they are quite ready for Prince Verinder Sachin Aggers just yet.

I made my excuses, and tried to get back to bed.

“I’m at St. Mary’s!”

“Good for you, Bill, you soft bastard,” I said, trying to muster up some enthusiasm, I have little patience for his constant total lack of awareness. 
“have they found you a brain donor at last?”

“No, it’s Kate – she’s having the baby today!”

“What are you doing there then, Bill? They don’t need to take bits out of you as well, you know.”

“No, no, things are different these days, I’m going to be there all day and see the birth”

“You know what that involves, don’t you? Remember how you fainted when Alex Gloucester grazed his knee at Balmoral? It’ll be worse than that, and quite a bit of cussing I don’t doubt.”

“No, granddad won’t be there”.

“Not him, you dozy git, Kate – doesn’t matter how much paracetamol they give her, childbirth still stings a bit”

“Stop pulling my leg – I’m not young and stupid any more. Fancy coming for a pint tonight, just a few of the lads”.

“Yes, I’ll be there, Bill. You get the first 10 rounds in”. Who does he think I am?

I could tell you more, but I am a martyr to discretion. I can tell you that Phil isn’t allowed near a working telephone any more, since he got through to a Tandoori takeaway in Paddington and we had to send the Indian ambassador back to New Delhi jaldi jaldi to prevent the first nuclear war.

I did make one call – Sarah Chatto likes a bit of a laugh. I told her that the prince should marry someone with the surname “Thefootofourstairs”, and then the family name would be “Saxe Coburg Gotha Thefootofourstairs”, but she didn’t get it. I am wasted on that lot.