Sunday 31 March 2013

Victorinox. Companion for Life?


Unless someone murders it, of course. 

Many years ago, back in the days of power cuts and soaring petrol prices, yes, I am talking about when I were a lad, I had a Chelsea Football Club mug.  Today I realize it was hideous, both in appearance and price, a price my Grandfather paid because he knew I didn’t just want it, I needed it.  Without this mug I would waste away and die a miserable lonely death.

Naturally, I was upset when my brother poured thinners into it so he could rinse off his paint brushes and an argument ensued.  When Father stormed in to separate us, he ended the argument by dashing the mug to smithereens on the kitchen floor.  For a young lad and ardent Chelsea fan in the days of Peter Osgood and Bonetti the Cat and losing to Sunderland in the FA Cup final, this was very nearly a mortal blow.  They hadn’t invented Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in those days so what I was suffering from back then was a lack of an ability to pull myself together.  I never believed I could feel a material loss so keenly again.

Victorinox knives are so good, so well made,  proud but mortal owners are leaving them to their offspring.  With my new restaurant nearly finished, I had to have a set.  Sharp knives aren’t dangerous in the kitchen, blunt ones are.  Cooking should be a pleasure, not a chore and good quality tools and equipment, as they do in any trade, make all the difference. These knives would not only be my companions for life, I would hand them down to little Alex.

So just how do you destroy one of these knives?  Easy, you just lend it to an Angolan to cut a fish up.





My Victorinox 7.7123.25 drop forged steel chef’s knife.  A full set of these 7 series knives requires many beer tokens.

How did she do that much damage to my knife?  I haven’t a clue.  Clearly she was dissatisfied with the edge and sharpened it as they do all knives here on a bit of concrete.  You have to be giving it some stick, though, to actually chip chunks out of the blade chopping a bleeding fish up.

Marcia, did I say Marcia?  I meant this anonymous but fairly typical Angolan (when it comes to handling decent tools) could not understand why I was so dismayed.  The restaurant is not even open yet and she has destroyed my big chef’s knife. 

I was as gutted as the fish.  I was as sad as when I gathered up the shards of my Chelsea mug all those years ago.  Someone I loved so dearly had done this to me.  How could they, my companions for life?

Saturday 30 March 2013

A Good Man in Africa

After I had my second heart attack in Angola, I ended up having a conversation with the consultant, a South African on contract to ISOS, an organisation similar to BUPA.

'Well', he said, 'You're alive so you can go now'

'Aren't you going to look at the cardiogram they did?'

'Nope. What do YOU think it indicates?' he asked.  He looked bloody knackered.

'That I've had another heart attack?' I suggested.

'Myocardial Infarction actually' he corrected me. 'See? You know better than me so what do you need me for? Honestly, you can go now, you are just wasting your money and I could do with the bed spaces.  Here's a prescription, take these if you get the chest pains again.  They'll keep you alive until you die.  Guaranteed', he added.

'Any other advice?' I asked

'None that I'd waste my breath on', he said looking at his wrist watch.

I must have looked a bit confused so he so took his glasses off his tired eyes, laid them on his desk and pushed my unopened file over to me to hang onto.

'Look' he sighed, 'you're brought in here stinking of whisky, you smoke over 40 a day and you do bugger all exercise. You're overweight and you don't eat properly. You're supposed to be intelligent.  If it's the job that's killing you, resign, it's not rocket science.  Go and grow potatoes in the Sahara for all I care.  If you can't give a shit about yourself, why should I? I have real patients out there some of whom I can help. There's bugger all I can do to help you, you're hell bent on killing yourself. You're alive for the moment so why don't you just piss off and enjoy what's left of it?'

'Was it you who started my heart again?' I asked in one last attempt to connect with my Doctor.

'Nope.  It was a machine.  It's orange and not terribly expensive.  All we have to do is keep it charged and follow the instructions.  Sometimes it goes off, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes you live, sometimes you don't.  In your case you did so we will be billing you and not your family.  Will there be anything else?' 

You have to admit, this was a very polite way of saying, 'Get out of my flaming clinic'.

You may question his bedside manner, but he was right. Instead of a real mirror, the reflection of which we see only in our own minds and is always distorted in our favour, he'd given me a verbal mirror, an honest opinion.

As I passed ever so humble back through reception, looking at the kids burning up with malaria, comatose in their mother's arms desperately waiting for attention before they died, I came to the conclusion that while his corporate employers may have been concerned had I complained, I reckoned this doctor was a Good Man in Africa.

Monday 25 March 2013

Where do I sign up?

Reproduced verbatim from News Biscuit, link down the right hand side of my blog.

Unemployed chain smokers to replace animals in science experiment labs

The influence of animal rights campaigners became evident today as the government announced plans to forcibly replace animals in science experiment labs with unemployed smokers, drinkers and drug users.

Despite huge revenues from smoking and drinking, David Cameron and George Osborne believe that ‘a healthier Britain will be a wealthier Britain’, and that it is important to remind the young (that)smoking, drinking and drugs are not healthy. ‘If we can cure a couple of diseases at the same time, happy days’ added the Prime Minister.

When informed that fags, booze and drugs would be totally free, millions of long-term unemployed applied to join the program, allowing the Government to instantly reduce the unemployment figures.

One of the newly released greyhounds said: ‘I’ll have a pint of Pedigree, chum.’

Reg Herring

Oh yes, common sense at last. They should extend it to those who instead of being sent down are awarded community service instead.

'When you've finished spraying hair lacquer into my eyes, I'll have a pint of Pedigree as well, chum.'

'Oh!  And don't forget the fags!  Do they still do filterless Capstan Full Strength?  I've been in Africa a long time and have lost touch.  Players then?' 

'Fuck, why is no one talking to me?  I can understand why they have manacled my hands behind my back and fitted a cone round my neck so I don't rub my eyes and spoil the experiment but I can't say I like the accommodation and room service much.'

Saturday 23 March 2013


Two nights of torrential rain have driven communications for most here back to the dark ages. Mobile phone networks are down, roads are impassable to all but the most determined and the frogs which have spent months underground in embryonic sacs have emerged and the noise as they all try and croak louder than their competitors in order to make the most of a very short breeding season is deafening.  As I write, thunder rolls in ominously from the Atlantic.

‘Til now, I had been very satisfied with the impermeability of the jango’s thatched roof but even it was overwhelmed by the intensity of such a prolonged down pour and started to leak badly.  I am not much of an engineer but I know enough to appreciate that dry thatch is heavy enough as it is and if it gets soaked through, must weigh another twenty tonnes at least so I was eyeing up the rafters by torchlight in the middle of the night with a degree of concern.

The electricity supply to the jango is still only provisional, a long extension cable from the kitchen that is our accommodation at the moment.  Since the rain has knocked out the cellphone network on which I rely for internet access, I decided to take my laptop into the jango and try and link up to my neighbor Rico’s usually robust satellite wireless system.  I laid the laptop on the table, plugged the power adapter into the back of it and then plugged the adapter into the extension cable.  I was dressed only in shorts, my bare feet sloshing through the water still pooling on the jango floor when I touched the aluminium case of my laptop to open the lid.

I will never be sure how long I lay there on the floor wondering if I had just experienced another heart attack.  My arse was soaked where I had sat heavily in a puddle and the nerves up my arm were tingling.  The last thing I remembered was touching the laptop.  So guess what the Brain of Britain did?  Yes, I touched it again and enjoyed another free trip.  This wasn’t static electricity, this was brutally fast, smash you in the face mains voltage and current.

As I sat there, my shorts soaking up another pint of water, I tried to work it out.  First thing I had to do was disconnect the laptop.  If it wasn’t already toast, there might still be something salvageable on the hard drive I had not backed up for months.  I gave the power lead a tug and instead of it popping out of the back of the laptop, it hung on resolutely and the laptop skidded across the table heading for the certain destruction that crashing onto a tiled floor would occasion.  So I caught it.  Isolated as I am from the rest of the world (although not from the laws of electrical discharge) the laptop is my life even though, as appeared the case now, it was trying to kill me.  Its fall to the floor was cushioned by my bare chest, presumably restarting my heart, as my body had, once again, got to the floor first.

I took hold of the insulated adapter cable and tugged it out of the extension cable socket.  After a couple of tentative finger taps on the laptop, I mentally declared it safe and placed it back on the table.  Relying on its internal battery, I switched it on and was relieved to see it boot up normally.

Must be an earth fault, I thought.

But if that were the case, how come everything else was working?  Sky News was showing on TV and I hadn’t electrocuted myself while fetching milk out of the stainless steel fridge to make my morning cuppa.  I examined the four socket extension I had tried to plug the laptop into.  Now I did not install the cable and four plug socket, a local electrician had.  I could see there were only two wires connected to it, no earth.  Gingerly I picked it up by the cable and as it fell to the vertical, water poured out of it.

Marcia’s hairdryer has one of those two pin plugs that has no earth and has a plastic body.  Doubly reassured, I plugged it in and proceeded to blast the extension sockets with hot air.  If you are reading this post, you will know my laptop is no longer trying to kill me and I have managed to hack into Rico’s satellite internet system.

The corrupt Sheriff and his cohorts have been remarkable for their absence so I was quite surprised to see them all clustered around the shop this morning.  The hard core among them have been boycotting the shop so naturally, I feared the worst.  I wasn’t really in the mood for a rumble.  I had electrocuted myself a number of times, discovered I had no coffee and, with all the rain, had not slept a wink.  As mornings went, this one was becoming memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Marcia had left for town early and with no mobile phone network working, I could not alert her to a brewing situation.

So I did what any normal person would do.  I changed the TV from Sky News to CBeebies and told Alex to stay in the room.  Then I sat in the jango behind my non-lethal laptop and tried to look as nonchalant as hell.  More of them turned up.  I noted that instead of walking along the public road to get to the shop, they were walking along my driveway.  This provides no shortcut whatsoever but does demonstrate the assertion that this is their country and they can walk where they want except, of course, if the land belongs to a rich or well-connected Angolan in which case they would be shot.  All of them paid their respects as they passed and wished me a Good Morning.  This was unnerving.

I risked a squint round the side of the kitchen so I could see the entrance to the shop.  Quite a crowd had gathered, all of them drinking Marcia’s beer.  Oddly enough, I was reassured that the maid was still here.  She comes from the village and every time something bad has gone down, she had always absented herself, presumably to avoid the potentially embarrassing necessity to take sides.  Yet here she was calmly mopping the water from the jango floor.  So I went back to the laptop and ignored them.

Finally, the Corrupt Sheriff and his crew passed by my jango.  I don’t care what etiquette or common sense dictate but I was buggered if I would greet him first.  He was on my land and I wasn’t particularly fond of him.

‘Sr. Tomás,’ he called out, ‘May I come and see you this afternoon, please?’

Nice of him to give me notice, it would certainly provide time for me to clean and load the pistol.

‘Certainly, Sr. Bota’, I replied, ‘What about?’

‘It’s about water for the Community, we would like to discuss the well’.

Well, blow me sideways.  Have the long suffering women of the community finally got to these corrupt bastards?  Have the recent quickly solved thefts, the recent violence and threats and subsequent involvement of Criminal Investigation made them nervous of their tenure?  Has the fact that I have never backed down and even assaulted one of them with an ashtray made a difference?  Or have they something up their sleeves?  Oddly enough, one of them had been round here early this morning asking to borrow my fish scales.  I do have the capacity to bear a grudge, for a long time if necessary but I wasn’t going to be petty so I gave him the scales.

‘Will this do for big fish?’ he asked.

‘I could happily hang you from it’ I replied but he missed the point.

So let’s see if these buggers turn up this afternoon and what they have to say.  In the meantime, I am going to get out of my sodden shorts, get myself cleaned up, clean shave and all that stuff, dress up, polished buckles and all, and be ready to meet them.  I fucking hate waiting, by the way.  I am a Bad News First kind of guy.  Let’s just get it over with.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Just a wee round up!

Been a bit too distracted to blog much recently and my joke posts don't count although I hope the Welsh St Francis of Assisi got a giggle out of learning how he got his name.  I knew I was on the mend when my rather odd sense of humour returned.  Swapping Wales for the Falklands!  Now I read today that the Shetlands, the Orkneys and the Western Islands want to cede not only from the Union but also from Scotland.

Since successive British Governments have argued the right of citizens to determine their own future in order to hang on the the Falklands it will be amusing to see how Cameron wriggles out of this one if they vote to cede.

Doggy has done it again, delivering a litter of twelve live and one still born puppy.  That's a total of twenty two in two litters so far.  Fortunately, interest in them is such I already have good homes earmarked for them.  There is a mixed Chinese and Vietnamese building crew working near here.  They get all the rations from Marcia's shop.  They said they would take all the puppies.  I know we shouldn't stereo type but I was kind of uneasy about that.  One of the Chinese guys speaks a bit of English so I asked him if he ate dog.  He was appalled.  I felt bad about insulting him, especially since he really is a nice guy, even though it is agony trying to have a conversation with him.  Every time he hears a word in English he does not recognise (about every other word as far as I can tell), he insists I write it down in his book, explain to him what it means so that he can delicately create the work of art that is the Chinese translation.  He also insists that when he is with me, I can't smoke the cheap Angolan cigarettes I am more or less used to but must smoke his Chinese fags.  Jesus, I thought Russian tabs were deadly.  So I let him choose a puppy.  Now, every time he comes to the shop he is tailed at close quarters by an extremely well fed and intensely loyal little dog.  Let's hope all the new owners look after their little dogs as well the Chinese seem to.

This is just a round up so as a complete aside, above is the way beans should be cooked.  Not that anaemic salty sugar sweetened crap you get in tins but in palm oil.  Both beans and palm oil are healthy eating options but that's not why I eat them like this.  I eat them because they are cheaper than chips and taste delicious.  They are good alongside virtually anything else; fish, meat, whatever, and if you mix in pork and blood sausage, is a meal in itself.  It is the palm oil that makes the difference.

This bed looks pretty wild but in amongst that lot are various tree saplings almost ready for transplanting around the site, and watermelons.  I like watermelons.  They are as easy to grow as they are to eat and on a hot day, they are delicious.

Everything DOES taste bettter if you grow it yourself, doesn't it?

Naturally, a round up would not be complete without a photo of my personal weapon.  This ashtray is a cut down 105mm cartridge case which was fired in the Falklands.  Even cut down, it is still jolly heavy.  If the PM is ever forced into negotiating the future of the Falklands with that mad frothing Kirchner, I shall have it polished up and sent to No 10 so that it may once more be fired in anger.

A while back I posted photos of the hand crafted restaurant chairs.  Here are the tables.  All made out of scrap wood and not a screw in sight, these things are glued and nailed together.  Measuring 96x96 cms, they are bloody solid and weigh a tonne.  These are not the light patio furniture you get from B and Q, these would survive years of service in an Army cookhouse.

Final sanding was done on site to smooth out any slight warping of planks and to remove oily hand prints and the evidence of spilt beer.

Then, following Master Craftsman and Under Boss of the Alviti Family Kev's advice, I oiled rather than varnished the wood.  I am VERY pleased with the result.  In fact it was working on these tables that did much to get my blood temperature to below boiling after the recent theft and mob brandishing fire brands and machetes.  I don't know, maybe it is all the Chinese furniture being imported here but varnished wood to me looks cheap.  This is nice to look at, nice to touch and easy to keep clean.  These are solid drinking tables made to have tankards of ale bashed down on them and strong enough to support a dancing girl in a bikini (I am not dead yet, I can dream, can't I?).  Sure, Fifth Columnist, or his heirs, will never be bidding on these at auction in the future but I would never have been able to afford a similar quality and build from a restaurant supplier.  These things soak up one litre of oil each so the irony is, the cost of the tables (materials and construction) were cheaper than the oil used to finish them off as the oil was the one thing I had to import.  Everything else, wood and labour, was local.  I have already had one order for tables and chairs which, once I have all my needs sorted, I will fulfill.  I may be a bit slow but even I am beginning to realize, I could make money out of this.

Marcia was deeply skeptical about me arranging to make all our own restaurant furniture but now that she has seen the finished result, I can see the dollar signs in her eyes.  I am not going to last forever and Marcia is only 32.  My sons are 14 and 4 so I need to make sure she has everything going for her when I pop my clogs or suffer the long overdue accident arranged by some irate corrupt sheriff.  Owning a furniture making business will be yet another string to her bow.  I already have several designs for coffee tables, book shelves, TV cabinets and beds prepared.

There are a number of skilled artisans in Angola.  It is just that they are generally only ever asked, and rewarded, for producing cheap knocked together furniture using nothing more than a cross cut saw, a hand plane, a few chisels and a hammer and nails.  Tell them exactly what you want, provide them the materials and the tools and pay them an honest wage, and they can produce some really nice stuff.

I hope you have all noticed that the Idiot Gardener has abandoned Blogger and set up a new site.  I can't be bothered to embed the links in the text of this post so just look under my list of favorite blogs down the right had side of my blog and visit the new, far more professional looking Idiot Gardener site.  Now I like IG.  He calls a spade a spade (not so long ago he pisshed the city of my birth, Berlin, a clear indication he not only had eyes in his head, they were connected to a functioning brain)  and freely admits the sight of a well turned ankle does something for him.  I believe he sympathises with the moral dilemma I face every time my teasing nieces clad only in the most miniscule swimming costumes deliberately provoke me when they come to stay for the weekend. 

I have no idea what IG does to earn his crust.  Having built a greenhouse out of Tsunami scrap, he is now into Charcuterie.  Butchery to you and me.  I live in the middle of the countryside and am surrounded by the pigs, goats and catttle he clearly would love to slaughter, mince and carve up into bite sized portions.  By an amazing coincidence, I was chatting with a South African friend of mine about IG's plunge into charcuterie and how I felt that a decent butchery here could rake it in, especially if value was added to the product by processing.  He agreed wholeheartedly as friends do when they are mostly through sharing a bottle of scotch.  I went on, in what I supposed was for him, boring detail.  Salamis, bacon, sausages. air cured hams, biltong.  Get a decent vacuum packing machine that can handle liquids as well and we could do ready for cooking meals, all those expats too tired to cook themselves a decent meal after work can just boil in the bag or slide the contents out into an oven dish and heat it up.  We could supply not only my restaurant but all the other restaurants around here and, of course, sell all the products through Marcia's shop...

'I used to be a butcher' Henry said.

'...and then let's not forget all the staff houses and the retailers in Benfica most of whom Marcia knows',

'What did you just say, Henry?'

'I said,' said Henry, 'That I used to be a butcher'

Henry is a production engineer, I never thought of him as a butcher.

'What's more to the point,' he continued, 'I still have all the equipment, a complete butchery from the heavy three phase stuff like bandsaws, grinders, sausage stuffers and walk in freezer right down to the stainless steel tables, display counters, trays and drop forged steel knives'  I looked at him dumbfounded, 'I even have an industrial vacuum sealer. And I'm selling it all' he finished.


I offered to buy the stuff off him as a job lot.  He readily agreed and gave me a price that I immediately said was far too cheap (c'mon, he is a mate and we were both drunk by then).  So we chatted some more.  All the while, in the back of my mind, I was reminding myself that I know bugger all about butchery.  I hardly think that having a copy of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's 'Pig in a Day' DVD qualifies me.

We drank some more beer.

'OK mate, why don't we do it this way?' I suggested. 'I get a freightforwarder to stuff the kit in a container and bring it here.  I build a butchery to your design, and then you, me and Marcia are partners in the business.'  Obviously, if I wanted his butchery, I also needed his skill and expertise.  And I really would like a butchery.  I really would like to put quality cuts, quality sausages, quality hams, bacon etc, onto the market.  The demand is here, easily outstripping supply so margins are healthy and overheads are low. 

The deal having been concluded, we went back to general chit chat.  Naturally I wanted to know why he had mothballed his butchery.  His tale was one that would be all to familiar to a UK high street butcher.  The South African economy is stuffed and traditional butchers have been, well, butchered by the big supermarket chains.  He now earns far more, and in hard currency, running the production line making cans for Coca-Cola and the local brewery in Angola for a lot less risk and effort.  Of course he would much rather be back in SA at home with his wife earning a reasonable crust but sheer economic necessity had driven him so far away from home.  You have no idea how I could relate to that but at least I can try to make some sort of life here and keep my family together.  Sitting thousands of miles away from his family watching cans roll off a production line must be miserable for him.

Serious looking slicer
Bandsaw, label printing scales, and two other bits of kit I don't recognize
Henry's wife sent me loads of photos, far too many for me to bore you with here but, trust me, there's a serious amount of kit there.  I'm also impressed with the size of his garage!

I tell you what, Henry, let's seal the deal with a 'High Five'!

Remind me to change the blade on the band saw.... now I know why he gave it up.
Actually, Henry lost these after his hand was dragged through a set of gears and a chain. 
Eek!  At least I lost mine clean.
Bloody hell, I haven't even opened the restuarant and shop yet but it looks as if I am in the butchery, sorry, charcuterie business.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Sainsbury’s tastes the difference just a couple of months can make

Paradise for Shoppers courtesy of Mr King

Justin King resisted the temptation to gloat after Sainsbury’s reported a 3.6pc rise in like-for-like sales. But he could have been forgiven for doing so.

Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Justin King said the company has "invested heavily in our supply chain and sourcing credentials over many years but I will admit that having God turn up at one of our tills was a pivotal moment in our recovery in today’s economic climate". 

He’s not kidding. On ‘like for like’ sales over the last ten weeks, Sainsbury’s has been slaughtering the opposition and having the new Pope’s boss turn up at one of his meat counters and ask for a filet to be dressed and prepared for the pan was a bit of a coup.

Mr King added: "Our values are a long-term, strategic point of difference. The issues experienced by the industry over the last quarter underscore the importance of our detailed understanding of our supply chain."

God said this was all terribly interesting and he was pleased with the human entrepreneurial endeavor he encouraged and that when it came to obfuscation, there was no better language than his own, English, but admitted he hadn’t an effing clue what King was talking about so just ignored him and hoped his RBS card would work at the till. As God stood in the queue wondering how much Sainsbury’s were selling a pound of sourced credentials for he realized that all he ever really wanted was a decent steak, maybe some veg and a half pack of real ale, anything but the severely rationed loaves and fish his five thousand fellow shoppers stuck in the queue were constrained to.

‘I could see God was dead nervous about his card going through,’ said Tracy, 19, an unmarried mother of four and Probational Senior Trainee Manager of till number 43 at Sainsbury’s Fosse Park Mega Outlet in Leicestershire. ‘He kept looking Heavenwards as if he was searching for a way out. Either that or he was checking the security cameras. I could’ve told him they didn’t work but with him being omnipotent or impotent or summat like that I figured he already knew, like. Still, he was a dead nice bloke and seemed ever so pleased when I told him he could ‘ave a bit of extra cash on his card, like, since it’d worked. I do it all the time. You should see what happens when a card doesn’t go through. We have this special button we have to press when they don’t. It’s ever so loud and then we have to get on the microphone, press another button and shout, ‘Manager to the till, Please. Manager to the till… Puleeze ‘. That’s dead loud too and you get a flashing light above the till and then we are trained to just sit there staring at the customer and only say the manager is coming. With all those people with full trolleys behind them it must be dead embarrassing. I would just die but it’s so funny when it ‘appens, especially if they get angry and beg to pay in cash. I mean really, if they ‘ad cash in the furst place, ‘ow cum they’re wastin’ my effin time with an RBS card? I gotta job to do, ain’t I? He may be God but e’s just a Toff like all the rest. But he was nice and his card did go through so that was alright then and I didn’t have to take his picture on my mobile and twitter what a dick he was.’

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson conceded that avoiding the horsemeat scandal had reinforced the Company’s position as leader in its market sector but pointed out that its staff played a major role in maintaining customer confidence. “Our staff don’t treat our customers as human beings,” he said, “They treat them like Gods.  Yesterday we actually served one and, thank God, his card was approved”

I am NOT Obama, says the Devil

The Devil.  You can tell he isn't impressed but is impeccably dressed

President Obama.  You can see he's a bit knackered and shabbily dressed

In a rare public appearance, the Devil has vehemently denied rumors that he looks like the President of the United States.

With commendable restraint, he described the author of the tweet who initiated speculation, right wing political commentator and Radio host Glenn Beck as a ‘Liar of Biblical proportions’. The Devil went on to say that he welcomed Beck’s indiscretions since ‘Lying is a Sin denying the perpetrator access to Heaven and granting me his soul’. He added,‘I have the perfect condominium waiting for him, one filled with fire and brimstone. Everyone in Hell has to work, it’s not like being a civil servant’.  The Devil subsequently denied that his off microphone but widely U-Tubed  outburst consisted off, 'Go ahead!  Sue me you bastard, I got better lawyers than you, I'll see you in fucking Hell!' stating that he would never use the F word.

Beck’s Tweet; "Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on History Channel looks exactly like That Guy?" (meaning Obama) went viral, even being reported on obscure media networks such as Sky News when, during a hurriedly un-researched breakfast interview Posh Spice fended off intense questioning by suggesting that Sky had probably got the wrong Beck as hers was on his way to China at the time.  The world famous couturier about to expand to the Orient went on to admit that her husband may have stuffed socks down his kecks to advertise underpants and had played for a Los Angeles minor soccer team but he definitely had no knowledge of, or recollection of meeting a president posing as the Devil. Or the other way around, she wasn’t sure.

"My Becks is an 'all inclusive Guy' and a brand marketing genius", she went on to say. "He would never alienate over 90% of dead people, all potential clients for cool summerware in the afterlife, by insulting the Devil".

Many agreed there was a likeness but producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett did not share the joke, slamming the claims as "absolute nonsense. We journalists work on a daily basis alongside the Devil at the altar of Mammon and know that with the number of politicians going to Hell and being fed into the fiery furnaces, global warming is a serious issue. Why do you think they (the politicians) are fiddling reports and diverting taxpayer revenue? They are trying to turn the heat down, not in your lifetime but in their afterlife. It’s all a load of cobblers but it gets us access to the Devil and he’s quite a laid back guy with some amazing contacts that do not rely on telephone hacking. He really does care about polar bears and penguins but has the courage to admit that land-rights for gay whales was a bit of a non-issue he threw into the mix for a bit of a laugh”.

‘Besides,’they went on, and on, ‘Look at President Obama. He’s on his second term fighting injustice and the House of Representatives in order to provide basic healthcare. He is going toe to toe with bankers and corporate interests to reduce a deficit of Biblical proportions AND trying to balance the US economy. He’s knackered. The Devil looks a positively healthy investment by comparison’.

"History Channel has the highest respect for the Devil" the History Channel said in a statement.

"It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. Honesty and evil are divergent issues and it is our duty as highly paid moguls to bring the two together in the minds of our viewers as a good thing, but there was no suggestion that politicians and the Devil were one and the same which would, of course, be undemocratic and a bad thing presupposing as it would, an uncomfortable element of truth exposed by the media."

The Devil was unavailable for further comment as he was on Nissi Beach in Cyprus staring at the tits of naked ladies and discussing with his staff whether the Russian offer to settle the country’s debt in exchange for Cyprus’ gas reserves was a deal worth a punt.

The White House released a statement attributed to President Obama.

“Does this mean I am like bad, man, like seriously ba-ad? That’s just so cool!

"Since you secret service guys are all here", the President continued, "I just tried to order an ice cream cone but there was like, twenty one flavors and you know I don’t want to make an uninformed decision”.

Sunday 17 March 2013

How the Pope got it's name...

A rare photo of St Francis of Assisi without his halo
(So much for Sketchley Dry Cleaning's one hour Golden Service)

The big story the new pontiff had for us yesterday – told in a voice that was strong and clear in contrast to Benedict's somewhat wispy tones – was why he decided, when the conclave elected him last Wednesday night, to call himself Francis.

Apparently, as his tally reached the essential two-thirds majority, the emeritus Cardinal of Sao Paolo leant across to Cardinal Bergoglio and said something that made a deep impression: "Don't forget John Gray" he whispered. Actually, His Eminence from São Paulo is Brazilian so what he really said was, ‘Não esquece O Sr. João, Cor de Cinzento’. 

Cardinal Bergoglio, a natural Spanish speaker but accomplished linguist in the romantic languages at least, got the drift.

And this, said the former Cardinal Bergoglio, made him think of St Francis of Assisi, champion of the poor, lover of animals and now his namesake.

Cardinal Bergoglio on the bus back to the Vatican from Trelawnyd, North Wales, shortly before the Papal Conclave.

Afterwards, Prime Minister David Cameron vehemently denied rumours that his coalition was willing to do a 'deal' with Argentina and swap Wales for the Falkland Islands so the UK could buck EU controls and have a source of real beef from the South American country. 'There's no cheap Welsh coal anymore and all our lamb comes from New Zealand so what the hell do we need Wales for?' he was quoted as saying.  'They have their own assembly and are fond of obscure languages so let them learn Spanish and eat Tapas, at least the BBC would get one of its channels back'

'Let me be quite clear about this,' Cameron responded on Sky News' Prime Minister's Question Time to debunk these vile accusations, ' I'd rather eat Romanian beef imported through Cyprus by Lebanese traders, processed by the French and marketed on industrialised greenbelt sites by British companies for breakfast, dinner and tea!' he thundered to a House all sides of which were on their feet cheering and waving their ballot papers, pleased that he was dumming down and not referring to breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, high tea, supper and dinner. 

'There is not a bastard cat in hell's chance,' he concluded with admirable restraint, 'we as Englishmen, signatories to numerous non-proliferation treaties, will allow the bleeding Argies to get hold of Auntie Gladys' recipe for Welsh Cakes'

Saturday 16 March 2013

I am close to cracking, but not yet ready to give up.

A lack of recent posts, I know and I am always touched by how many regular readers contact me to find out if everything is OK.  I suppose with my previous, people do get nervous.

I’d like to say that my absence was purely down to one hap-happy experience after another, a series of delightful happenings distracting me from blogging and restoring my faith in human nature but that would be SO unlike me, wouldn’t it?

A few weeks ago the shop and house site was broken into.  Loads of power tools, all my plumbing fittings and the TV/DVD combo were stolen.  I had mixed feelings about the loss of the entertainment, after all I pay the guys to work, not watch movies but I was pretty incandescent about the tools and fittings.  These are hard to come by here and eye-wateringly expensive.  To import replacements would take ages and I think that, one way or another, I have suffered enough delays.

Coming so soon after my community court appearance during which I had been reminded to leave things in the hands of the community elders and they would look after us I was pretty pissed off. 

Marcia is pretty good at sniffing a trail so it wasn’t long before she picked up a rumour as to who might be responsible.  The guy was one of the more respected members of the community.  He had been among those condemning me, assuring me that the community was honest and all the thefts I had suffered in the past had been committed by outsiders.  So instead of going to the community elders and the corrupt sheriff, Marcia went to the police.  Not the local police, who would have done nothing, but Criminal Investigation in town.

They came and arrested him.  Less than 24 hours later he confessed and told them where he had hidden the stuff.

We had just finished supper when all hell broke loose.  A mob had gathered and rocks were being thrown onto the roofs of the buildings.  They told us they were going to burn us out, set fire to the thatch of the jango and smash my trucks.  Amongst the crowd I spotted the corrupt sheriff’s brother.

The British Army has a lot of experience in riot control and when they deploy on the streets, they have a system.  Basically they put up a wall of makrolon shields across the road.  Behind that are two soldiers armed with baton guns.  These fire a rubber cylinder about the size of two AA batteries end to end.  Technically, they were supposed to fire them into the ground in front of the rioters so that some of the kinetic energy was dissipated and the round would tumble end over end into the crowd.  What actually happened was that the Incident Commander would identify the ring leaders to the guys with the baton guns and, on command, the shields would part in two places allowing them to plant a baton round straight into the target’s chest.   Targets fall when hit.  The noise of the baton guns going off would cause the crowd to retreat slightly so as soon as the guns went off, two teams of two men each, dressed lightly with only batons (the manual kind you swing rather than fire) would run out from either side of the shield wall, grab the gasping miscreant and drag him back behind the wall and hand him over to the arresting team.  Me and another guy called Jenkins formed one of these snatch teams and we were very good.  I can say that with all confidence as sometimes it didn’t go according to plan and the snatch squads were grabbed and beaten shitless, or worse.  We were never grabbed and always brought our game in so we must have been good.

Sadly, I did not have a baton gun or a snatch squad to hand, much less a makrolon shield to hide behind so could not do to the sheriff’s brother what I really wanted.

Why all this fuss?  Apparently they had heard that the thief had died in police custody.  Whilst I had no sympathy for him, indeed I hoped his demise had been both miserable and painful, I could appreciate that this could be awkward for us.  Marcia told me to stay calm and keep an eye on Alex.  She told me she had left her phone on my desk and I was to keep ringing the last dialed number which was for the Inspector dealing with the case.  In the meantime she let the mob take her and my truck so they could head to town.

I got through to the inspector.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘we’ll stop them at the next town’

To cut a long, and for us at least, very exciting story, the guy had not died.  Someone had started this rumour and whipped up a crowd and both Marcia and I knew who.  As the police hauled everyone off the truck and waved about charges of kidnapping, threats of violence and criminal damage, the police became ever more incensed at the thought that they were being accused of killing someone in their custody.

When Marcia got back home, safe and sound, I was quite angry.  We have to live here so it doesn’t do to upset the natives.  We agreed we’d go the community route so why hand the thief over to the police?  Of course I have been scared in the past.  I was scared when I was defusing bombs.  I was scared when being shot at.  Thinking back on my extraordinary life I seem to have been scared more times than not but I was never so scared when I watched my truck drive off with my Marcia in it and there was fuck all I could do about it except press redial on a bloody mobile phone.

The next day a delegation of high ranking criminal investigators visited us. 

‘We have had plenty of complaints from the Barra de Kwanza’, one of them said, ‘but they have all been anonymous, nothing for us to go on.  Even our boss’s generator was stolen last year’

‘I know,’ I said, ‘they stole mine at the same time.  You’re not telling me these bastards don’t know what is going on?’

So I told them everything I knew.  I told them about Manuel and Bota.  I told them how they sold land two and three times over.  I asked them to consider how it was possible that they were driving around in brand new Landcruisers while the population didn’t even have drinking water.  I asked them to check out the local school and count the non-existent desks and chairs.  I asked them to try and find the medical post.  I asked them to try and work out how, if the government had paid for ten metre long fishing boats with forty horsepower outboards for the fishing community of the Barra de Kwanza, the only person to have one was the corrupt sheriff while everyone else had to make do with four meter skiffs and ten horsepower motors.  I asked them to explain why, if anyone upset the corrupt sheriff he would arrange to have them beaten up (yes, Fifth Columnist, I know I am riding for that hiding).  I told them to check how much the local council had received to invest in the village and then to try and find evidence on the ground.

They asked me if I had any cold beers.