Monday, 28 March 2011
I don't have any kids. To me sex is a pleasurable experience and not a reason to fill the world with upgraded versions of myself. With the population of the world now over six billion my input isn't required.
After much discussion with my wife (and the fact that the pill was having a detrimental effect on her) we agreed that I would get a vasectomy.
And so I found myself sitting nervously at the local hospital one Friday afternoon, gulping when my name was called.
I expected a bright, sterile room full of masked and scrubed up surgeons and machines going ping. Instead I was inside what looked like a school five-a-side court with some curtains sectioning off some gurneys.
An Asian man and woman dressed in civvies beckoned me to one of the gurneys, next to which was a table covered in sharp, shiny blades and a syringe like a drainpipe.
I could hear someone else going through a vasectomy behind one of the curtains and as there was no screaming or fountains of blood spraying over the top I took comfort and lay down while the woman went through the procedure.
First they would inject my gonads with anaesthetic and wait a few minutes for it to take effect before getting hands on with my tubing.
"Don't worry love, we've done a few of these today and you're the last one" the woman said, picking up the syringe.
I grimaced as she stuck the needle in me, all the while chatting with the male about who they would be meeting in the pub when they finished work.
Still chatting she put down the needle and without waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect picked up the scalpel and sliced open my scrotum. Now I don't know how to describe it but imagine a cold steel blade cutting into your genitals and that pretty much sums it up.
Once they had coaxed me down from the ceiling and apologised for diving in too early I watched the rest of the procedure like a queasy hawk as bloody fingers delved inside my sac but all I could feel now was a slight pulling sensation.
"There we go, all done. You should be back to work in a couple of days".
Yeah, right. Two days later I was back at the hospital with bollocks that looked like they had been kicked by a horse. I was off work for two weeks and had to keep my knackers in a sort of string hammock and walked like John Wayne.
Now if you are thinking of having this procedure, don't let my experience put you off. Mine was a Friday afternoon job and their minds were on the weekend.
Thankfully this is a once in a lifetime experience.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
I've only ever seen bits of the Larry King Show and from what I've seen of the man himself he had screen presence and gravitas.
When it was announced that he was stepping down and Piers Morgan was replacing him I thought that King can't have been that good if they think Morgan is a suitable replacement.
In the UK we've been putting up with Morgan for years and if I'm honest he hasn't exactly won over the public.
When you look at his career their have been plenty of gaffes. He had been editor of the UK tabloid Daily Mirror for less than a year when he managed to upset Germans and British alike with his 'Achtung, Surrender' front page headline printed the day before the Euro '96 semi-final and was forced to apologise.
In 2000 he was the subject of an investigation when The Daily Telelgraph reported that he had invested £20,000 in computer company Viglen before the Mirror's City Slickers column reported the shares going on sale.
The two financial reporters were jailed but Morgan smarmed his way out of prosecution, although a subsequent investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry revealed Morgan had in fact bought £67,000 in Viglen shares.
He was eventually fired by The Mirror in 2004 for jumping on the Abu Ghraib bandwagon and publishing photos allgedley showing troops of the Queens Lancashire Regiment torturing Iraqi soldiers.
These photos turned out to be faked.
Not to be deterred Piers decided to try his hand at television. On the celebrity version of The Apprentice he teamed up with Tony Blair's ex-hatchet man Alistair Campbell in bullying TV presenter Trinny Woodhall until she started crying.
Since then ITV gave him a £2 milion contract to front a dismal celebrity chat show where he fawns over the rich and famous and asks banal questions, the answers to which you could get by reading Heat magazine.
He never comes over as likeable, funny or interesting. He looks like Pinoccho after becoming a real boy, then growing up to be an estate agent.
I assume that he has some pictures stashed away of some extremely powerful person having sex with farmyard animals because, to be honest, I can't think how this talentless, posh bore has managed to reach the elevated status that he has.
Anyway, I don't know why I'm complaining because the Americans are stuck with him now. Sorry but we've sold you a lemon, no refunds.
Friday, 11 March 2011
Spring is not far around the corner and with it come thoughts of holidays. For those of you thinking about roughing it this year and going camping, here is a handy guide to camping in the UK.
1. The week leading up to the holiday should be spent checking the long range weather forecasts with a growing sense of doom as clouds gather and expand like a sponge filling with water directly over where you will be visiting.
2. Load up your car with as much equipment as you can until it appears that you squeezed the contents of your house into a meduim-sized hatchback. Always make sure you load your tent in first. This will ensure that when you arrive you have to dump everything out onto the ground so you can get to the tent.
3. If there is a stream or river near the campsite always make sure you pitch as near as possible to it. This will seem a great idea as you sit by your tent during the day listening to the gentle flow of the water.
However when you are trying to get to sleep the gentle flow will sound like Niagra Falls is roaring dirctly into your ear. There is the added bonus of the river flooding if the rain is heavy enough and joining you in the tent.
4. When cooking food make sure your gas stove is far enough away from the tent to avoid fire risk. The downside of this means that the freezing 50mph winds will blow the flame horizontal so it takes around an hour just to warm a tin of Ravioli in a dented pan.
5. While waiting for your Ravioli to become tepid enough to eat, take a look at your tent. You will notice that it is poorly erected and sagging in the middle.
Then compare it with the state of the art, space-age looking tent next to yours.
This will be huge, cost more than your car and have an internal cooking area, sleep zones and entertainment emporium. The people inside will probably be called Gerald and Lucinda, they wil read The Guardian and have two perfectly well-behaved childern called Oscar and Emily.
6. When the evenng comes you will find that time has now begun to move at a glacial pace and while you thought you had spent three hours sat in your tent trying to read a book while becoming rigid with cold, in fact only twenty minutes have gone by.
You must now go to the local pub. Here you will be able to talk to the locals who will inform you about cattle, then becoming progressively drunker start telling you how much they hate campers coming to their home turf.
While in the pub fill up on Pork Scratchings as you will be ravenous after only eating one luke warm tin of Ravioli all day.
7. After drinking five pints of Taylors Landlord or Black Sheep,stagger back to the campsite along a pitch black country road, screaming like a girl everytime a horse looks over a wall at you.
8. Climb into your sleeping bag and fall into a drunken snooze, which you will awaken from two hours later with the overwhelming urge to pee out all the beer you have drunk.
Climb out of your nice warm sleping bag and discover that you haven't brought any torch batteries. Decide to walk to the edge of the field to pee instead of trudging over to the grim, Stalinist-looking toilet block.
As you flounder around in darkenss so complete you may as well be in outer space, trip over a guide rope and crash headfirst through Gerald and Lucinda's enormous tent, awakening the entire site.
9. In the morning, disassemble your tent then make a half-arsed attempt to shove it back into a bag that was originally packed by a machine that could apply hundreds of p.s.i. to squeeze everything in.
Cram the half packed tent into the back of your car, using your foot to squash everything down enough to close the boot.
Drive out across the rutted, muddy field until you reach tarmac then head at speed straight to a hotel.
10. Lie to everybody about what a great time you have had.
Monday, 7 March 2011
What would you think if I said that I was a Necromancer with a magical power that allowed me to talk to the dead.
Then what would you say if I said I would use that power to get money out of the recently bereaved and the vulnerable?
I bet you wouldn't be too impressed. Yet People like John Edwards are not only tolerated, they get their own TV shows.
For those of you who don't know him, Edwards is one of those people who claim to be able to pass messages from dead people to living people. He tours the States like a rock star and is interviewed on US chats shows where the hosts talk about his 'powers' and 'gift' with totally straight faces and congratulate him on bringing comfort to the bereaved.
If you ever get a chance to watch Edwards or any of his type, it is always interesting to see that dead people never give a clear message.
Instead the 'psychic' will ask if the name Dorothy or the letter R mean anything to anybody and when someone bites they will ask a series of questions, usually with their head cocked on one side as though listening to an invisible presence.
Why don't dead people just give a straightforward message? The answer to that is 'cold reading'.
This is the technique used by people who call themselves psychics where they ask general questions to a person and gradually narrow the questions down until they have sneakily gained enough information from the audience member.
Then twist it as though this person hasn't given him them the information at all but instead he has been told this by the dead.
Let's for a moment say that he is in fact talking to the dead. Does this mean that in the afterlife we can only talk to the living through some low-rent showbiz type with funny hair?
But Tony, you may say, what about the comfort he gives to all the lost, lonely and bereaved people?
Well I have felt the horrible, hollow ache of grief when a loved one dies and the thought of someone using that pain to line their pockets does not sit well with me.
If psychics are really concerned with bringing comfort to the bereaved then why ask for money? Why only do it on TV shows and sold out theatres?
If they truly believe int this gift why don't they approach the world of science and say "I have the power to speak with the dead, why don't we join forces and together we can prove there is an afterlife"?
Instead they stay well away from any procedures that may cast doubt on the claims they make and forge a lucrative career feeding on other peoples misery.
Normally when a person says they are hearing dead people talking in their head we fear for their state of mind. But when someone says this with the intention of making money we accept it.
It is wrong. Rant over.
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
One thing the British are good at is making period costume dramas. The King's Speech winning big at the Oscars is evidence of that.
It is also evidence that Americans are only interested in the British when it is something that involves the Royal Family.
I can't blame Americans for thinking this, we English maintain this image through the amount of costume dramas we churn out. We've got it down to a set formula.
Everybody in period dramas are posh, there is always a scene where a carriage pulls up outside an enormous stately home with a massive gravel drive outside.
There is always a woman called Emily and a man called Charles.
Men and women walk slowly around the grounds of these houses, the camera in front of them and moving at a torturously slow pace.
The man has his hands behind his back and the woman carries a frilly umbrella even though it isn't raining.
They will discuss their feelings for each other while they amble around the garden for what seems like bloody hours. It is surprisng there are any people left in England, the characters are so tightly wound and repressed that it is hard to imagine them getting down and having sex.
Lark Rise to Candleford, Downton Abbey, Middlemarch, anything written by Jane bloody Austen, they are all the same.
Self-obssessed posh people endlessly banging on about marriage and status.
These things have been a staple diet of Sunday night television for years and they never change, only the budgets are bigger.
We'd be better off watching Jackass.