Tag Archives: funny

Skeetergate 1

‘Skeetergate’

Criminal Investigation Case 160612/Belmont.MA

Penwald vs Skeeter the Dog

Case for the Prosecution

That on the night of Friday 15th of June 2012, Skeeter the Dog did unlawfully break and enter into the guest bedroom where the complainant, Mr Ian-Luke Penwald, was staying and in his absence did wantonly cause criminal damage to a much beloved pair of kakhi camouflage shorts.

The Criminal Damage

After returning from a night out at a classical concert in Rockport, Massachusetts, the Complainant discovered  the following morning a large gaping hole where the arse end of the beloved kakhi camouflage shorts should have been preventing him from wearing them  and thus exposing him to extreme heat on a mountain trek in New Hampshire.

The Prime Suspect

Skeeter the Dog, inhabitant of Belmont, Massachusetts and sole resident at the scene of the crime on the night in question.

Incriminating Factors

The alleged perpetrator has a known track record of sneaking into guest’s bedrooms and eating socks, underwear and toothbrushes though is not known to have undertaken a job this big so far.

The Motive

Sheer frustration at being left in all alone AGAIN for the 3rd night running since Mr Penwald showed up at the house and occupied the guest bedroom, formerly the sleeping room of the Accused.   Also….not getting enough fibre in his diet.

The Evidence

Undeniable evidence linking the Accused to the crime was discovered in several bowel evacuations following its perpetration.

Statement for the Prosecution

“Your Honor, these much beloved shorts are more than just cloth lovingly spun together in a factory in Shanghai. They have been a friend and travelling companion on many overseas trips.  They have climbed Mount Masada in Israel with me, waded through the Caribbean in Jamaica, viewed all Toronto from the top of the CN Tower, survived blistering heat in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, run from Rhinos in Kenya and walked with Lions in South Africa.  I press for the most severe punishment the Law will allow. I am devastated.”

Statement for the Defence

Grrrrrrrr…..woof.  WOOF WOOOF WOO WOOF WOOF Grrrrrrrrrrr!

The Verdict

Guilty as charged based on proven past similar attacks on other victims and the undeniable evidence turned up in poo.

The Sentence

No treats for a month and at least 40 hours compulsory viewing of Top Cat repeats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usain-Bolt-006

Meeting Usain Bolt ?

“Do you fancy standing in for me at a Press Launch today?”. Not something I usually expect to hear from my Boss first thing.  “It’s a sports thing to do with the Olympics”. She had got called away on some urgent deadline stuff so it somehow came my way.

“Ummm…but I’m in my jeans – my good ones, though. I might be a bit scruffy?” (well it was ‘dress down Friday’ after all and I had no idea this turn of events would be coming my way).  She rolled her eyes and said nothing but in my head I heard the words “no more than usual”.  “Look, you’ll be fine. Take notes, there’s a free lunch and they said there’ll be sports stars there” she incentivised.  “Serious?”.  I don’t really do sports apart from major tournaments but hey…what a great chance to be in the same room with men and women who could be standing on the podiums in July with gold, silver or bronze hanging around their necks.

“I wonder which sports superstars will be there?” I mused as I made my way to the Tube. The conference was for niche and ethnic media among whom my media organisation is counted. It’s a Press Conference and Sport England want to get us and our audiences fired up for the Olympics.  Reading the list of delegates my Boss sent me before I left the office, there were some very many media outlets going to be there including some major ones plus governing bodies of at least 8 major sports.  This is going to be huge.  O.M.G.   They are bringing in Usain Bolt aren’t they?   They are going to bring in the fastest bloody athlete on the freakin planet! Who else could it be?

Thirty mins later and I’m hovering around in Holborn, London not far from my most favourite place in the whole city – the British Museum.   I don’t want to get there right on time but fashionably late (says the guy in jeans).  15 mins to the start I arrive. I check in. Bugger. It had not occurred to me that I was standing in for my Boss and so there was no name badge in my name. I accepted the name badge with ‘Beverley’ on it before heading for a room that would be heaving with Testosterone and sheepishly tucked it under my jacket.

The Press Conference room in the HQ of ‘Sport England’ was packed. A great turn out and I should have known better than to worry about looking scruffy: it was a media gathering after all. I hate talking to strangers which unfortunately makes up a large percentage of what I have to do for a living.   I slope in, scan the room, head for the end of a row of chairs so I can’t get sandwiched between two others and then start to look around and see if I can spot Mr Bolt.     Nope….can’t see him.   He’s a tall guy…they must be keeping him back for later.  Delegates keep coming through the door.  I chuckle at one very old chappie…an ancient looking Sikh guy with a turban and a very long grey beard.  As he came in he seemed to wave at the people in the room.  Awww….good on you gramps, I thought. Must be some sport stars’ grandpa.   Indian Cricketer maybe?

And so the Press Conference got under way. Sport England, currently lead by a former Scottish female Rugby Captain, was telling us how wonderful the games are going to be and how much they love us in the niche media even though they will never pay us anything to help us keep going and how much they would like us to tell our audiences about loving the games too and all for free. How lovely to feel so wanted.  Stuff that. Where was lunch and where was Usain Bolt?

I really should learn to read the welcome packs when I go to events like this. They state the running order and who will be there. I look through the alphabetical list. ‘Bolt’. Nope.  Maybe under ‘U’? Nope.  Maybe they misspelt it as ‘Hussein’?  Nu-uh.  So I actually read the guest list and discover that among the sporting ‘legends’ in attendance is a former Kettering Town Football Club player, a former Welsh Table Tennis player, the current British Muay Thai Champion and a British-Pakistani former Kabaddi player.  Fingers hovering over the ‘you stitched me up’ button to my Boss on iPhone.

Wait a moment…   During the 20 minute Q&A after the morning session, a sports star in our midst is revealed.   Oh dear mercy…get the camera ready.  This old Sikh guy stands up to ask a question.   He looks about 70.   He introduces himself as the Coach of Fauja Singh – the 100-year-old Marathon runner.  Yes indeeed….the old codger that waved to us all as he walked in the room( I expect in the false knowledge that the whole event had been put on in his honour).  This guy had made global news a couple of weeks back in Toronto, Canada claiming to be the oldest Marathon runner on the planet.  So that was it.  Fauja Singh was it…my first encounter with a global sports star and as for Usain?  Not a bloomin’ sighting.

Mr Singh runs up ‘Arthur’s Seat’ in Edinburgh, Scotland

 

As the lunch break arrived, I quickly swiped a chicken leg from the buffet and pegged it back to the office to grab what little time I had left of the day to do some meaningful stuff.   Still, I got to see a globally recognised sports star (oh, and sit behind a former captain of English Premiership megastars Chelsea Football Club – Paul Elliott).   Chelsea aren’t doing too well at the moment so ‘whatever’.

On getting back to the office, I later discover that my little old Sikh chum might not be as Kosher as he makes out.   It turns out that the Guinness World Record organisation will not ratify his claims to be the oldest Marathon runner still going because he has failed to produce a birth certificate proving he was born in 1911.   Personally, I have some sympathy with the old geyser. Being just a 40-something myself nowadays I can seldom find my keys the minute I put them down…let alone my birth certificate.

There’s a whole ‘Team Singh’. Here…..the Relay Team.

 Related: Surviving the Olympics – a Londoner’s guide

 

 

 

haggis

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties – my recipe.

{This post was drafted before my current 7-day Cabbage Soup Diet Journal}

It’s January 25th on Wednesday this week and north of the English border, our Scottish cousins will temporarily stop bleating on about independence to warm the homely hearths on this cold, deep Winter’s night, cracking open the finest Malt Whiskeys  and then settle down to a hearty plate of ‘Haggis, Neeps and Tatties’.   Then, once repleat, they’ll toast all things that can wear a Kilt and how the Scots invented the Earth and all upon it… and pick up bleating about the English again.

January 25th is ‘Burns Night’.  It is not, as I once thought, a commemoration of the night Scottish people pounce on foolish stray Englishmen and Bar-b-que them over a bonfire, but a celebration of the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s greatest poet and one of their most famous sons. Never heard of any of his works?  Bet you have.  You sing one of his ‘chunes’ every year on 31st December – ‘Auld Lang Syne’, thought to have been penned by the bard in 1788.   Did you know that after Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, there are more statues around the world of this Scot than any other (non-religious) person?  Some other interesting facts you may not know about Rabbie:- the Soviet Union was the first country ever to honour  him on a postage stamp in 1956, he was the first person to appear on commemorative bottles of Coca Cola in 2009 and US President Abraham Lincoln is said by some to have been inspired by his works during the American Civil War and his fight to abolish slavery. It’s that old ‘freedom’ thing from the English again isn’t it?

Anyway, this post is not about Robert Burns or Scottish independence.  It’s about food and specifically ‘Haggis, Neeps and Tatties’.  Have you ever had it?   I love it.  A friend of mine first made it for me  when I went to visit her in Edinburgh.  “Haggis?   Eeeeeeew!  Sheep guts and animal gooey bits in a slimy bag?  NO WAY!”.   There are worse reactions I have had to the thought of eating certain foods, but it’s been a very long time since I visited France and experienced that sort of trauma.   Nowadays, ‘Haggis, Neeps and Tatties’ can be on the menu on any given Sunday any time of the year in the Penwald household.  Haggis is after all available in the major supermarkets year round.  Before I share with you my recipe, let me demystify this perilous sounding dish for you. I most recently cooked this for a couple of Welsh friends on New Year’s Day. The look on their faces when I told them what they were eating is pretty much the universal reaction most non-Scots have to the thought of the dish.  Haggis is made of the organs of sheep or lamb mixed with oatmeal, suet, herbs and seasoning.  Traditionally, this is all ground and mixed up and then sewn up into a bag made of animal stomach lining ready for boiling.   Still with me?  OK, you can still get traditional Haggis in skin bags but with the rise of Vegetarianism and in part to make the dish more palatable to the squeamish, you can get vegetarian Haggis sealed in plastic bags.  On New Years Day I served up both options just in case.  The food went down well…and stayed down, which was a bonus. ‘Neeps’ is Scottish for Turnip, although I have since discovered that some Scots don’t know the difference between Turnips and Swede and it is Swede that is used in most recipes I’ve come across.  Finally ‘Tatties’ are your good old mashed potatoes.

This is a Turnip ^

 This is a Swede ^

This is also a Swede ^

So to my take on the recipe.  For a meal for 4 people, you will need…

  • Potatoes for mashing.  Quantities will depend on how big an appetite you think your guests might have, but trust me…make enough for 2nd helpings. I find Maris Pipers the best mashers around.
  • 1 half of a medium-sized Swede.
  • Several Turnips (4-5)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 1 supermarket-bought Haggis, ready to boil
  • salt, pepper and sugar
  • Nutmeg
  • Cream, butter and a glug of Scottish Malt Whiskey (optional)

At this point, traditional Scots reading this will be wailing and gnashing their teeth (which incidentally was the real inspiration behind the invention of the Bagpipe) but I did say this was my take on the dish, which I have cooked many times now.

Prepping is very easy to do.  First, look at the time your Haggis needs to boil.  It can take 45 mins to an hour.  These days you can microwave your Haggis in a few minutes but I prefer the traditional boil.   If boiling, wrap the Haggis bag in kitchen foil as this will seal in the heat and prevent the bag from bursting.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for the rest of the cooking time.  Ensure it is piping hot when you serve and make sure the pan does not boil dry. Fill the pan to around half way up the Haggis with water.

In the meantime, peel and wash your potatoes and chop them into quarters or smaller so they will mash easily.  Add salt to taste.  When soft enough, drain and mash adding butter, pepper and I like to add a dash or three of single cream.

While the Haggis and the potatoes provide the savoury flavour – and here’s a tip: The Haggis can be quite salty so don’t overdo it on the salt in the potatoes as they provide a nice counter-balance to the Haggis.  The other root vegetables provide the sweet flavour.  This is where me and the Scots part company.  They use Swede only but I find the mixture of the Swedes with Turnip and Carrot more interesting, tasty and colourful. Peel, wash and cut them all to the same size chunks so they all soften at the same rate. Add sugar, at least a couple of tea spoons full to the boil. This will serve to enhance and bring out the natural sugars in the veg.  Boil until soft and tender and mash away.   You can add some butter, cream or Creme Fraiche at this point plus some grated Nutmeg.

Finally prepare your gravy.   A basic onion or meat gravy used as the base.  Save some of the discarded water from the boiled root veg to mix into tyhe gravy keeping all the goodness. Then add some cream or Creme Fraiche, some grated Nutmeg, seasoning and that glug of Malt Whiskey.

All you need to do now is time everything so it is all hot and ready to serve by the time the Haggis is done and then sit down and enjoy a meal that is warm, hearty and as ancient as the Scottish hills.

Bon appetite!

(Oh bugger…memories of France again.  Really did not need that.)

 

 

2012

Surviving the Olympics: A Londoner’s Guide.

I recently spent a day being a tourist in my home city – London, the Olympic City. In less than 200 days, millions around the globe will tune in on TV to see the world parade into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium. Many thousands of others will arrive here from the 4 corners of the planet to get a closer look at the biggest show on Earth. Now we Londoners love tourists and crowds and foreigners. “Gor bless ’em every one!” is indeed a favourite saying among Londoners in daily chatter about how many more visitors we would like to suckle into London’s already heaving bosom. London is a city like no other and there is an art to surviving it. I seem to have a number of international readers, so having experienced my city again through tourist’s eyes, I thought I’d post up my Top Tips that I hope foreigners and out-of-towner Brits may equally find helpful if planning a visit to the 2012 Olympics.

Tip 1: Arriving

So keen is our Government to welcome all visitors to London that they are spending £millions to recruit ‘greeter’ gangs to meet people at airports, ports and train terminals. The nature of the welcome visitors will receive may be unsettling for those of a nervous disposition so I would recommend you watch the following training video to become familiar with what will present itself to you upon arriving:

Watch Training Video

Tip 2: Riding the Tube

No, that’s not a euphemism. Londoners love riding the ‘Tube’ (or the London Underground rail network as it is also known). The oldest and biggest in the world, some 2.67 million of us ride it each day. Once you have arrived in London, you are most likely to want to catch the ‘Tube’ to get to your hotel. We love the ‘Tube’ so much that we happily pay up to nearly £200 a month (yes £2,400 per year) for the privilege of standing on it all the way to work and all the way back again. In true Brit style…at least we get there. There is a modern-day etiquette to riding the ‘Tube’ and here are a few helpful tips for visitors. Always congregate on station platforms with all your luggage near entrances and exits so that Londoners have to trip over you. It’s a great conversation opener if you want to meet the locals. If you are likely to have a heart attack while riding the ‘Tube’, please pre-prepare a written placard saying “Help me I’m dying” and be of sound enough mind to find and display it while doing so. Screaming the place down will be of no use as we are all listening to our iPods and reading the paper.Never, never look a fellow Tube-rider in the eye. If you traverse this most deadly of all sins, quickly look up and fain acute interest in the first poster advert you see, even if it is about genital dysfunction. If you are daring enough to strike up a conversation with a Londoner while on the Tube, please be aware that he or she is already thinking you are quite possibly demon possessed and may pull the in-car alarm before the next stop.If the seemingly ordinary man with the briefcase next to you suddenly starts to rock forward and back banging his head against the window…try and find that advert on genital dysfunction again or else play a traditional game in your head some of us play: ‘guess how many head bangs before the next stop or until he dies’.

Tip 3. Taking a Taxi

The right to ‘ply for hire’ – to transport passengers for a fee – was first granted to the water Ferrymen on the River Thames in the 12th Century. These were the forerunners of today’s London Cabbies.  In 1621, the first horse-drawn, wheeled carriage started ‘plying for hire’ and that grew to 4 serving the City of London by 1625. Taxis were first called ‘Hackney Carriages’ and the origin of the name is uncertain but is thought to have been attributed to the small village of Hackney, which has now been absorbed as a borough of London, which became famous for its horses and horse-drawn carriages. Black Cabs are still registered as ‘Hackney Carriages’ today and you will see this term on the licence plate or on a plaque in the interior. I’ve not been able to find out how many Black Cab Taxis there are in London today. 19,000-22,000 have turned up in Google searches but those figures date back ten years or so. While the majority of London Taxis are still in traditional black, drivers have been able to have their saloons painted in an array of colours and sponsor branding for some years now. It is recommended that you desist from engaging your Taxi driver in conversation as you will never be able to shut him up once you do. It is still legal to hail a cab in the old traditional way – just step off the kerb in front of one. Go on…give it a go!

Tip 4: Pub Culture

Now it’s a well-known fact that the Brits love their booze and Londoners are no exception. It must be said, though, that pubs are closing down at an increasing rate across the country due in part to the availability of cheap booze from supermarkets, the ban on smoking in public places and the fact that a frigging pint costs an arm and a leg these days. Scottish people form the majority of pub clientele nowadays seeing that as they never buy a round of drinks, theirs can still be a relatively cheap night out. It’s nice to see that London bar staff still like to observe the old traditions. Female bar tenders still like and expect to be addressed as ‘wench’ or ‘slapper’ as in “Come hither my good slapper and pour me a pint and make it snappy!”. The equivalent term by which you catch the attention of a male bar tender is ‘Knobhead’. In terms of a dress code, it is recommended that you wear Wellington Boots and carry a waterproof jacket. This will enable you to wade through and protect yourself from the projectile vomiting that takes place around 11pm or you could always head home before then not forgetting to bid goodbye to the slappers and knobheads as is only polite

Tip 5: Meeting The Queen

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family are also Londoners at least some of the time, residing in Buckingham Palace. Each day at 4pm in the Summer she holds the traditional ‘Tea &Tiffin with Her Maj’ garden party at the palace where 100 ordinary members of the public are invited from the waiting crowds outside to join members of the Royal Household, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for tea and cakes in the walled gardens to the rear of the palace. Crumpet may also be available (the Duke is in attendance after all). Queues start forming early so if you want to be among the lucky ones to be invited in, you need to get there early. And there’s another important thing you need to observe when visiting Britain. The British still queue for things – anything at all. If Marshall Law was ever brought in and people were to be randomly shot in the streets, the British will still queue for the privilege. A few tips for those who wish to take tea with the Queen: If lucky enough to be invited in, you must of course bow or curtsy when presented to the Queen. Never speak until you are spoken to and address her as Ma’am (as in ‘harm’) and not Mam (as in ‘ham’). Buckingham Palace has a very impressive front door and Queen Elizabeth will be presented to you just as you come through. On seeing the impressive door, please restrain yourself from exclaiming ‘Cor! Look at the knockers on that!’ as you come through.Dress code may be ‘smart casual’ though if the Duke is present, ladies may stand a better chance of being invited in if more scantily clad in which case they need to be aware that he may be heard from time to time commenting on impressive and marvellous knockers. During the meal,  it would be ill-advised to enquire of the Duke as to whether he fancies a bit of crumpet.

So,do enjoy your stay in London and I trust and hope that my Top Tips here will aid you in some small way to a wonderful stay in one of the best cities on the planet. Remember that we use the £GB as currency here. Those of you poor sods using the Euro might want to take some of our currency home as souvenirs of what it used to be like to have a proper currency.