Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's not you, it's me

Oh Gill, Gill. I can't believe it's come to this. I didn't mean to hurt you. When I took a job at Blockbusters I didn't set out to break your heart. But the fickle hand of fate intervened and I met Amber.
Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to make you realise that you've changed.

I don't mean to say you've changed. I mean one has changed. My exciting career as a Citizen Journalist is in its infancy, I'm going off in new directions, I'm exploring myself.

You're an HR manager for a string of estate agents in South London.

We've grown apart.

A few days ago on this very blog, I turned to my loyal readership to decide whether or not we should be together. As I write these words, there are 12 hours left in the voting, and it would take a massive swing in your favour to persuade me that we have a future.

50% of voters said that we should split, 33 per cent suggested that I cheat on you, while the remainder said we should stay together. It's pretty conclusive.

I was going to wait until the voting had finished, however, having read your comments on my previous post, I know that you've been reading the blog!

So, I suppose it's over. I never wanted it to end this way, I probably would have called, or perhaps sent a private text. But since you've read the blog and know how I feel about Amber, then I suppose the best thing to do is terminate the relationship here on the blog.

It's not you, it's me. We've grown apart, I hope we can still be friends after all this?

I won't say goodbye, that's too final, I'll say bon voyage.

I love you as a friend, you're more like a sister.

Got to go now, I've got a Frey Bentos in the oven and I quite fancy finishing the latest season on Pro Evo.


Bazzler :-(

ps. if you could post me my Coldplay album sometime this week that would great.

pps. can I keep the kettle, I know your mum bought it us, but you've got one and to be honest, I don't really think you need two kettles

Monday, March 30, 2009

Business models, new in town

A few weeks ago, on the tenth birthday of London's premier free newspaper - the Metro - I came up with a new paradigm in business publishing. The Oyster - the world's first adult entertainment commuter freesheet.

I've been working on a presentation that I plan to take to prospective advertisers. What to take a sneak preview?

Of course you do:


Good morning/afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Barry Newsdesk. For ten years I worked in media sales. I single hendedly witnessed the downfall of print media. But during that time, one publication bucked the trend, one publication grew where others whithered on the vine.

I'm talking about the Metro, of course.

WAIT!! I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm here to simply peddle out yet another freesheet wannabe immitator - like the London Paper or the London Lite.

But I'm not. It's true I've been inspired by the unlikely success of the Metro, but I'm going to bring you a whole new concept. And it's not just a concept, it's backed up with cold hard facts.

A few weeks ago, on the tenth birthday of London's premier free newspaper - the Metro - I came up with a new paradigm in business publishing. The Oyster - the world's first adult entertainment commuter freesheet.

Based on the Metro's groundbreaking business model of repurposing material and placing advertisements against it, the Metro revolutionised how the commuters of the world consume news.

Now I'm proposing to revolutionise how the commuters of the world consume bongo.

That's right, you heard me, I said bongo.

Grumble. Smut. Porn. Jazz mags!!

Forget the Internet, with all its fancy widgets and functionality, the Metro almost single-hendedly changed the landscape of the world beyond recognition. And besides, you can't get a signal on the underground, so mobile phones and laptops don't work, which is almost certainly probably half the reason no one reads adult literature while traveling to and from work.

Think about it.

Just for a second.

Sex sells, that much is obvious, you've only got step into your nearest newsagent to buy a four pack of Cobra and some Monster Munch the shelves are stacked with the stuff, or take a walk around Soho and you'll see it literally for sale all over the place. Or just nip into a phone box to make a call becasue the battery on your mobile is dead, you'll be greeted by genuine photos of busty blondes new in town who love their jobs.

Now, imagine a FREE newspaper packed to the rafters with smut. You wouldn't even need to hire people in luminous jackets to hand out the papers at stations, commuters would be literally clamouring for it.

But don't take my word for it. I carried out extensive research, asking a potential audience of millions of Internet users (many of whom almost certainly use the World Wide Web to satisfy their desire for grumble), whether the world was reading for a free adult entertainment newspaper. A resounding 60 per cent of voters agreed that, yes, the world is reading for a free adult entertainment newspaper.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking where on earth is Barry going to find enough filfth to fill the pages of a London freesheet five days a week, 52 weeks a years?

Well, that's easy. The Internet. It's completely riddled with the stuff. I don't have time to catalogue the sheer volume and variety here, but don't take my word for it. Go home and type something insanely filthy into Google. You can bet your bottom dollar that someone has not only already thought of it, but they've taken a video of it and uploaded it onto the Internet.

Trust me, The Oyster won't struggle for content. It won't struggle for readers. And now, I know, having sold you the concept, it won't struggle for advertisers!

What do you think readers? It's not bad is it? I thought I'd probably charge £1000 per quarter page. My friend Dave, the roofer, knows one of the blokes involved with CFCUK, Chelsea supporters' fanzine, and he reckons he'll be able to get some reasonable printing fees. I'd take care of repurposing all the material and all the journalism, so my overheads would be nominal.

I spent today going around the phone boxes of London collecting prostitutes' calling cards, I'll give them a ring later and see if they want to hear the pitch. After that, I think I'll probably go and see some of the strip clubs dotted around town, and then the sex shops of Soho. All in the name of research and new business leads, of course.

I wonder if I'll bump into Jacqui Smith's husband. The dirty tinker. ;-)

Who knows, if things are a success in London, maybe I'll take the idea into Europe, Amsterdam first I dare say, then Paris.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The chosen people

The Jews are a talented bunch. Think about it: Some of the world’s funniest people are Jewish, such as Woody Allen. Some of the world’s cleverest people are or have been Jewish, such as Albert Einstein (although he didn’t actually believe in the God of organised religion, and he was pretty bright, so maybe there’s something to take notice of right there). Some of the finest singers are Jewish, like Barbara Streisand. And some of the people you least expect to be Jewish are Jewish, like Bob Dylan. The world of cinema is packed to the rafters with wonderful Jewish actors, directors and – probably, who knows? – costume makers and key grips. As religious groups go, the Jews are probably the high achievers. Amazingly, less than 0.3% of the world’s population are Jewish, yet they’ve quite an impact on the world stage, a bit like the Irish and their theme pubs.

But who was the most famous Jew of them all? Well, would you believe me if I told you that it was Jesus? Because it was.

Judaism is the forerunner of Christianity in many ways. The older Christian stuff tallies fairly closely with the teachings of Judaism. It is also believed to have influenced a good deal of the Islamic faith. For example, you wouldn’t get a ham sandwich in the canteen at a Synagogue (the Jewish religious building) or at a Mosque. The reason is that both religions forbid the eating of pigs because they think they are unclean animals. Actually, and I don’t want to get in anyone’s face here, or naysay anyone’s beliefs, but that’s quite wrong. Pigs are basically very clean. They’re easily as clean as dogs, and dogs mouths are actually cleaner than our own! Not that I’d eat a dog, like they do in some countries.

Anyway, you’ve got to figure that, as far as eating goes, the Christians got off pretty lightly by not adopting the no-pig rule. I have to say, that’s enough on its own to keep me out of Judaism. I COULD NOT give up my bacon sandwiches/baby back ribs/pork belly/chorizo. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. But, no pigmeat for the Jewish. That’s a hell of a cross to bear. I wonder if they can eat Frazzles?

One thing that’s different about Judaism is that the Sabbath is on a Saturday. Well, actually, it starts on a Friday night and goes through til Saturday night. So it kind of stuffs up your weekend because you have to stay at home on Friday night. It must be tough on the kids.

Sadly, because of man’s inhumanity to man, people of the Jewish faith have suffered hugely throughout the years, and been persecuted by lots of other races, not least by the Germans. Certainly, perhaps because it was so recent, the actions of the Germans are felt to be especially bad and are still known to rankle with Jewish people. Everyone knows about the holocaust from films such as Schindler’s List, the Dirty Dozen and the Dambusters, so we don’t need to go into that here. But suffice to say, the people of Judea have had a pretty rough time of it.

There’s nothing you can say to justify this kind of behaviour, but perhaps it stems in part from the fact that Judaism teaches that the Jews are the chosen people and that they are here to set an example to everyone else, which is a bit jumped up. That doesn’t make persecution right, though, of course. It’s disgusting and it makes me ashamed to be a gentile (the Jewish word for infidel). I’m just trying to understand these things.

It was still an issue when I was a kid, with Jewish people, like the Scotch, having a reputation for being stingy with money. I want to go on the record right here and say that I’ve got Jewish friends, I’ve been to their houses and, while I didn’t get any bacon, they were very generous and lovely. So that stuff about being tight is a load of old nonsense. A lot of it is down to Shakespeare who wrote a character called Shylock who was a nasty hook-nosed money lender and created a stereotype that was adopted down the years. He was used as the basis for the character Watto in the first Star Wars prequel. Anyway, like I pointed out, it’s a cruel stereotype.

That said, when I was a kid I had a Jewish guitar teacher called Mr Bloomstein. He was short, with a big nose and, not to put too fine a point on it, he was a bit thrifty. BUT, here’s the thing: the guitar teacher I had before him was called Mr Adams. He was also short, he also had a big nose, and he was also a bit thrifty. Was he Jewish? No he was not. He was, as far as I could tell, altogether without religion. This just goes to show that stereotypes are dangerous things. For example, you would be foolish to draw the conclusion, based on my evidence, that all guitar teachers are short, big-nosed tightwads.

The important thing when discussing Judaism is that we separate the Jews from Israel. Not physically, of course. To physically separate the people from their country would get them in a right old state (a Palestinian state, as it were!). Israel is, after all, their Promised Land. Although, it has to be said, if you don’t believe in their God, you can’t really take that promise too seriously. For example, I could invent a religion of my own and say that my God promised me Penelope Cruz. But if I flew over to Hollywood to claim my right, I’d probably get put in prison. And rightly so—Penelope is a beautiful woman, for sure, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to sexually harass her. And that goes for all beautiful women, not just Penelope.

No, what I mean is that Israel and Israelis aren’t representative of all Jews, like Catholics aren’t representative of all Christians, if you like, or the Taliban of all Muslims. So we must make sure we separate them in a discursive sense.

Israel, I think it’s fair to say, can be a bit bolshy. Like a spoiled little girl. Certainly it likes to have things its own way. For example, it is unarguably situated in the Middle East. However, it manages to get itself in to European competitions, such as the Eurovision Song Contest and the European Championship football tournament. This is politics at work, people, using populist events to generate solidarity between nations on grounds that simply don’t exist. There’s something not quite right about it, not unlike Israel’s 1998 Eurovision winner Dana, a woman who, it was later revealed, had a penis.

That penis, incidentally, was probably a roundhead and not a cavalier. This is because part of the Jewish religion is that all boys must be circumcised. Personally I find this a bit offensive. I’m happy to say it: I have not been circumcised. I own a foreskin and I don’t see what’s so bad about it that someone should decree that an entire race be forced to live without it. How can they make the decision if they don’t know what it’s like to have one, eh? And aren’t they insulting my foreskin by saying that they don’t think anyone should have one?

After all, if you’re religious, you believe that God made you. And on one of those days when He was making everything, perhaps in a quiet moment after He’d done the face, the finger and the foot (assuming He did it all alphabetically) He’d have thought to Himself:

“I know what that needs, it needs an extra piece of skin, just… there. Oh, now, I have to say, I’m rather pleased with that. I hope they don’t decide to cut it off!”

Still, Judaism, like a lot of religions, is basically run by a load of old men who think they know what’s good for everybody else. And, if what they think is that I can’t go out on a Friday, can’t have any bacon and they want to lop the end of my willy off, I think I’ll pass.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Decision time

Life is all about making tough decisions. Sometimes you have to be brave, sometimes you make the wrong decisions, but if you sit around never making decisions, you only have yourself to blame when things go wrong.

As regular readers will know, I've been getting quite close to a colleague of mine for some time. Amber. The thing is, I've already got a girlfriend.

It's an age old dilemma. When King Henry VIII was faced with the same problem he changed his religion and chopped the current incumbent's head off. I'm not proposing for a second that I do the same. As a practicing Buddhist I cannot condone violence. Particularly against the weaker sex. Even, and I want to make this perfectly clear, even if they have let themselves go a bit.

Last night at Blockbusters Amber admitted to me that she has been stealing out of the shop's til, even though she knows that I am store manager Rochard's eyes and ears on the ground, she feels wracked with guilt that Leigh got sacked, and is threatening to resign and tell Richard the truth.

The thing is, she needs the cash, there's a credit crunch and dance lessons don't come cheap. But more than that readers, in telling me, she's shown me that there's more to our relationship than a workmate crush. I think we've really got something.

I admitted to Amber that it was I, Barry Newsdesk, that informed Richard of Leigh's misbehaviour. We've formed a pact. "It'll be our little secret," she told me, and winked!!!

Well, I've not slept a wink all night because of it.

My mind is in turmoil. The reader poll has been such a success in measuring the weight of public opinion (incidentally, 60 per cent of voters voted in favour of free porn for London commuters, a statistic I shall build into The Oyster's media pack to take to prospective advertisers), I've decided to let you, the inhabitants of the blogosphere, decide whether or not I should leave Gill for Amber!

It's a world first, it's like Girlfriend Idol - only on my blog and featuring opportunity to be my girlfriend.

I already know the bookies' favourite, and I wouldn't want to swing opinion in either direction, but I'd say one of the contestants has got the X-Factor all right!!!


Sunday, March 22, 2009


I think I might be in LOVE!!

I feel like jumping up and down on the sofa like Tom Cruise did when he announced his marriage to that girl out of Dawson's Creek on the Oprah Winfrey show. Fair play, she's a lovely looking girl, (the one out of Dawson's Creek, not Oprah Winfrey), although I personally thought she was a little on the young side for Tom.

I've just had a pub lunch with Amber. We both had nutroast. I must admit when I saw someone at the next table tucking into the beef, I was a little bit jealous. But then, as Amber says, meat is murder.

I asked Amber out last night at the end of our shift at Blockbusters. She'd been a bit down all evening as Richard sacked Leigh on Friday. She couldn't work out why. I said that I thought Richard was a racialist, she agreed. So I said I'd take her out today to try and cheer her up.

She's such a lovely thoughtful girl, just like Mum. She didn't stop fretting about Leigh throughout lunch. To be totally honest, I was getting a bit bored of it, I did try and steer the conversation around to Buddhism or judo - she was way impressed that I'm a black belt (in judo, not Buddhism). Although, less impressed when I demonstrated a pressure point move on her causing her to knock her red wine over. I got a replacement, natch, even though technically it wasn't really my fault.

The thing with Leigh, though, is he was taking the piss at Blockbusters, you can't expect to smoke drugs in the storeroom and get away with it, not in today's troubled economic climate, which is exactly the reason I let Richard know what was going on.

I joked to Amber that there's no smoke without being fired, but she was in no mood for my witticisms. So I steered the conversation around to Richard again. Amber really seems to enjoy slagging off Richard. I let her know that Richard takes me seriously. I won't be pushed around by the jumped up little Hitler. I let Amber know that Richard even asked me to keep an eye on things in his absence. Sometimes girls appreciate a man of power. Though she didn't seem that impressed. She just wanted to talk about Leigh all the time.

Leigh's a lovely guy, I said, but he's hanging with a bad crowd. I mentioned that he seemed to have a lot of friends who came to the shop, and that the M&M stockpile was going down, even though no one ever seemed to buy them. Richard might be a wanker, but he's not stupid. Perhaps not surprisingly, this observation didn't go down too well!! You can't win em all, but I think it's important for Amber to see Leigh for what he potentially really is. I'd hate for her to throw her life and career at Blockbusters away over some wannabe gangsta rapper from Thornton Heath.

She perked up when I asked about her about her dancing. I mentioned that Flashdance was one of my fav movies, but she'd never heard of it. It's the one about a beautiful spot-welder who, against all the odds, becomes a dancer. I said it was similar to Billie Elliot, she'd heard of that, so at least I showed her that I'm not completely dance ignorant.

Amber looks a bit like a cross between a young Bonnie Tyler and that Diana Vickers out of the last series of X-Factor. I bet Amber would be great singing Total Eclipse of the Heart at karaoke. I suggested as much, but Amber just looked at me blankly.

I let it drop. Sometimes it's best not to labour a point. I'll bear it in mind though, should Amber's dancing career falter (you've got to be realistic readers, dancing is harder than it looks, and even if you're really good at it, it's difficult to really make any money out of it, look at Wayne Sleep), with Amber's talents she could probably sign up for X-Factor or perhaps become a Bonnie Taylor/Diana Vickers imitator.

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. I've never understood that one. Surely flattery is the most sincere form of flattery. If I rocked up to my Mum's place in Lincoln wearing a floral dress and started banging on about Lionel Richie's latest album she'd probably think I'd turned gay. But if I rocked up and told her that she's the loveliest woman on the planet, the person whom I admire most, she'd be very flattered. See what I mean, readers, sometimes even well established sayings can be misleading.

I'm making it sound like the date was a disaster, but it wasn't, we had a good long chat about my Mum and about Amber's family. Like me, she's an only child. They say only children are spoiled, self-centred, egotists. But that's certainly not something that could be leveled at either Amber or me.

Clearly, though, we had a lot in common, we're both independent, creative individuals. We both like Coldplay. We're both vegetarians. I really think we were covering some ground, although like a lot of younger people today, she was constantly texting on her phone. I think it would have annoyed a lot of people, but I'm totally chilled, it's a generational thing, I know it's not offensive to multi-task your social networks. I'm on Twitter for heaven's sake.

There's nothing I like more than Twittering away. My friend Dave, the roofer, calls it Twatter, which just goes to show I'm much more in tune with the younger generation than with Dave's - even though Dave is actually two years younger than me!! The thing is, unlike Dave, the roofer, I'm down with the digital generation, I'm totally plugged-in to the Internet. Age is irrelevant on the Internet. Age has become totally democratised. Unless you're grooming children in chat rooms of course. Which is a whole separate issue.

Amber seemed to enjoy that we could speak the same language (I don't mean that we spoke English, I mean that we were on the same page culturally). In fact, I was about to ask Amber if she wanted to come back to my flat for a herbal tea and a look at my Mac iBook, but then Leigh arrived out of the blue, driving what can best be described as a Pimpmobile. You could hear the bass booming from the stereo as he pulled in the car park. "How the hell does afford a car like that on the salary at Blockbusters? Maybe there really is no smoke without fire." I said. Amber just shook her head, I think she was embarrassed for Leigh.

Leigh didn't even say hello to me when he came into the pub, he just said: "Come on then," to Amber, taking her by the had and almost literally dragging her out. So I didn't even get a kiss at the end of the date! :-(

Still, Rome wasn't built in a day.

I paid the bill and left, that red wine was pricey, the total came to over £30, I think I might be running into overdraft territory, I don't like to go into the red too much, neither a borrower nor a lender be. Perhaps I'll give Mum a ring and get her to transfer some into my online bank. It's either that or dip into the savings!!

Before that though I think I'll crack into a couple of Cobra and make myself a sausage butty, I'm bloody starving.

Newsdesk Out

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mothering Sunday

It's Mothering Sunday tomorrow readers, or Mothers' Day as our American cousins call it, although interestingly it's not Mothers' Day in America tomorrow. In fact, you might be surprised to find out that Mothers' Day or Mothering Sunday (as we rightly call it) is on a different day of the year all over the place.

Some people call it a Hallmark Holiday, in reference to the firm called Hallmark that makes greetings cards. Cynics have suggested that the reason we have different dates in different places for celebrating our Mums is so that Hallmark can sell cards all year around, rather than lumping all their revenue on one date.

I think that's a terrible viewpoint. That said, I totally forgot it was Mothering Sunday until this morning when I looked at the calendar and so now I've missed the post. So Hallmark won't be making any money out of me anyway.

I can't believe, in this day and age, that the Royal Mail still refuses to deliver letters on a Sunday. You can bet your bottom dollar it's not because the postmen are all in church. They're more likely to be down the bookies. Is it any wonder that the Royal Mail is going out of business?

Speaking of the Royal Mail, in the week, I read about a postmaster in Nottingham who was refusing to serve customers who cannot speak English. It sounds like out and out racism, yet amazingly, the postmaster in question was born in Sri Lanka. You would think he'd be sympathetic towards immigrants. He claims that he cannot serve them, because he cannot understand them.

I wonder if he still serves his mute customers?

Anyway, I thought I'd post on the blog today, because tomorrow I was thinking of going up to Lincoln to visit my Mum. Whom I love more than words.

I was going to nip down to the High Street and buy Mum Lionel Richie's latest album. He was on Jonathan Ross last night promoting it. My Mum loves Lionel. Though, I'm not sure she'd be too pleased that he appeared on Ross's show. After the furore with Russell Brand and the granddaughter of Manuel out of Fawlty Towers.

She was not too pleased that Ross and Russ got their jobs back, especially in the current economic climate. There are plenty of talented presenters out there, like Michael Parkinson, who wouldn't dream of phoning up national treasures and taunting them about the sexual habits of their family.

It's a disgwace. As Ross would probably say.

Lionel Richie wrote a song about his Mum (Mrs Richie, not Mrs Ross). You've probably heard of it. Three times a lady. It's a beautiful tune with a lovely sentiment.

Thanks for the times
That you've given me
The memories are all in my mind
And now that we've come
To the end of our rainbow
There's something
I must say out loud
You're once, twice
Three times a lady
Yes you're once twice
Three times a lady
And I love you

When we are together
The moments I cherish
With every beat of my heart
To touch you to hold you
To feel you to need you
There's nothing to keep us apart
You're once twice
Three times a lady
And I love you
I love you

Now I love my Mum readers, as you know, but that second verse is a bit dodge. Makes you wonder what went on in the Richie household. You hear about these child stars and sometimes it's not all sunshine and light.

They say that there's no smoke without fire. You've only got to look at how Lionel's own daughter, Nicole, has turned out. She's forever tumbling out of some bar or club with Paris Hilton. And we all know what she's like.

I'm pretty sure Mum wouldn't approve if I took up with Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie. I'd be much better off with someone like Amber. We're on at Blockbusters later today, maybe I'll see if she fancies going for lunch tomorrow. I can always give Mum a ring or something. She's probably forgotten it's Mothering Sunday anyway.

Thursday, March 19, 2009




You won't believe what I've discovered!

Two days ago I announced my new concept: The Oyster - London's first free commuter pornographic magazine.

I was inspired by the ten-year success of my fav newspaper, the Metro. It seems such a simple concept, handing out a free newspaper to commuters in the mornings, where the content had already appeared in the London Evening Standard the night before, and selling advertising space against it.

It's yesterday's news tomorrow.

It's bloody genius really, so much so that The London Lite, The London Paper, City AM, Sport and Shortlist have all ripped off the business model and attempted to undercut the Metro's advertising spend by offering the commuters of London an alternative version of the paper they love.

Essentially, though, it's reinventing the wheel. It's diluting the advertising cordial. There must be another way?!@?

Two days ago, I spotted a gap in the market based on the success of newspapers such as The Sun, The Star, the Sunday Sport and Razzle.


I dreamed up with the concept of The Oyster - London's premier adult entertainment freesheet.

Sex sell readers!!

In order to build a business model, I decided that I'd need to carry out some research.

The success of the freesheets is based around repurposing material. That's literally copying something and selling it as something new. For The Oyster, I'd need to repurpose adult entertainment.

But where the hell was I going to find an almost limitless supply of filth?

I decided to research content for The Oyster online.

It didn't take much work. Try it for yourself, just type 'porn' into Google. You'll be amazed.

Although, I would add that if you work in an organisation that has IT support or Systems Administration in place, you should probably wait until you get home.

I know someone who was accused of looking at porn at work and he was totally innocent. The management called him aside and asked him about his "surfing habits", they said "maybe there are sites you shouldn't look at". He definitely wasn't looking at sites with material that was unacceptable to company policy, he suggested that it was probably one of the cleaners who was accessing his computer when everyone had left. In the end the management decided that they'd get a new cleaning contract.

Problem solved!

Frankly, I've found stuff on the Internet that would make a prostitute blush. Honestly readers, the Internet is literally riddled with filth.

Try it for yourself, go to Google and type in something soul-destroyingly obscene. I bet you a million pounds whatever you can think of, however depraved, already exists on the Internet.

I spent all evening looking at a wide variety of pornographic websites, of every possible persuasion, purely, I might add, for research purposes, and I can reveal that I can think of nothing that is not on the Internet.


Jeesh, who gets a kick out of that?

There's so much porn on the Internet that I can't even begin to catalogue it all here. What I will say is that there is enough material freely available that The Oyster is never going to struggle for content.

All I need to do now is line up a few advertisers. I can almost certainly change the landscape of publishing forever. Who would've believed that sex sells on the internet?

The mind boggles.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To be sure

Happy St Patrick's Day to my excellent Irish followers, the three ems, Mark, Molly and Marek.

And Happy St Patrick's Day also to all the bandwagon-jumping people out there who use March 17th as a great excuse for nipping down to your local Irish theme bar and drinking Guinness til you fall over.

As regular readers of this blog will know, my usual tipple is a nice can of Cobra, in fact I don't really like Guinness that much. However, as it's St Patrick's Day I've got myself a four pack of Heineken.

I know it's German or something, but it comes in a green can, so at least it looks Irish. And on this day of days, dats half der baddle.

Maybe Jenifer Walker Shannon and my other American followers are also out celebrating. I know, for a FACT, that pretty much every American claims to have Irish ancestry. Even Barack O'Bama has Irish roots. He doesn't look especially Irish, but then neither did Phil Lynott out of Thin Lizzy.

Or Paul McGrath.

But then Tony Cascarino looks more Irish than Barack, Phil and Paul put together, and he wasn't Irish, even though he played 88 times for the national football team.

I've heard of an American drink called the Irish Car Bomb. It's a pint of Guinness and whiskey, with a Bailey's depth charger. OMG!!! A few of those and maybe you really would feel like one the unfortunate victims of car-based explosives.

Seriously though readers, I think that American drink is in pretty bad taste.

You would have thought that the Americans could have renamed that drink the Basra Car Bomb or something similarly topical. But then, they don't really go in for hard drinking in Afghanistan and if there's one thing the Irish are famous for, apart from fighting, it's drinking.

They're also famous for winning the Eurovision song contest. Indeed, the land of the blarney stone holds the record for the most number of wins, having won the contest seven times—including three times in a row in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Maybe Terry Wogan was pulling a few strings! I expect they'll win a few more now that Graham Norton is hosting the festivities.

The Nolans, Boyzone, Westlife and the Commitments all hail from the Emerald Isle. Not to mention U2 and famous pop tramp Bob Gandalf.

Not bad for a country of only a little over four million peeps.

Ireland is also famous for its legendary crack problem. Only, and get this, a night of good crack is viewed in a positive light over there. What a crazy bunch.

I'm going to end today's post with a gag from my fav Irish comedian, Tom O'Connor:

So little Eamonn had returned from Sunday School and his mother asked what he'd learned that day.

'Well,' he said, 'Father O'Malley told us how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.'

'Indeed,' said Mother. 'And what exactly happened?'

'Well,' went on the little fellow. 'Moses got all the people together and loaded them into buses, lorries and cars. They drove off into the desert at night time and it wasn't till the morning that the Pharaoh found out they'd gone. When he realised what happened he was angry and he gathered all his army together, tanks, halftracks, jeeps and everything.

They chased after the Israelites and they caught them at the Red Sea. Moses had built a pontoon bridge and he'd thrown it across the water and his people were just starting to cross when the Egyptians came up firing their rockets and anti-tank missiles and completely destroyed the Pharaoh's army. Then the people crossed the bridge into the Promised Land.'

'Wow, what a story,' said the mother. 'Is that what Father O'Malley told you?'

'Well, no,' replied Eamon. 'Not quite. But the way Father O'Malley told the tale you'd never believe it!'


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Oyster

It's been a tumultuous week readers. Last Sunday, I gave an in depth study into the religion of Astrology. It almost goes without saying that I thought predicting the future according to the time and date that you were born sounded about as plausible as transubstantiation or the X-Files.

Thing is, when I came to write a post today I thought I'd look back on the previous week's activities and compare them with my horoscope. Just to recap, here's what was said:

"Business relationships will require solid definition this week. Beginning early Tuesday expect office managers and officials to publicly demand results or announce key policy changes. Much of this may be simple dramatics; don't expect authority figures to actually implement long term changes. The next 11 days will determine the outcome of difficult office dynamics or business power struggles. Wait for concrete signs of change before making public statements. After Wednesday romance and social obligations will be complex. Expect loved ones to compete for your attention or make unusual statements concerning family relationships. Emotions are unpredictable at present: watch for minor outbursts and criticism. Friday calm attitudes return: pace yourself and avoid quick judgements."

Well, look at that! On Tuesday I had a massive run in with Richard at Blockbusters, I thought he was being dramatic at the time, maybe he really won't implement long term changes. And then on Wednesday, after I told Gill about Leigh and the goings on, she gave me a massively hard time.

It's black & white readers, almost everything that my horoscope predicted came true!!!

There's no smoke without fire, so they say, although Michael Jackson's lawyers would probably contend otherwise ;-).

Today, also saw the close of my latest poll on immigration. Not surprisingly the world did not vote entirely against an amnesty on immigration. I think it's fair to say my readers have proved yourselves to be open-minded liberal types with the vast majority coming out in favour of "it depends".

Though, it would probably also be fair comment to say that immigration is not perhaps as burning an issue as certain elements of the media would make out. Since a massive two less people voted in the poll, compared with the seven that voted in the previous week's great crisp debate.

Finally, I would like to wish my fav newspaper, the Metro, a happy tenth birthday. God, it seems like only yesterday that the Metro was born. Now though, the Metro is available in tens of cities across the globe. It's perfect balance of news and fun seized the zeitgeist of the moment and became a new paradigm of news.

There are plenty of imitators, but only one champion of the freesheet. That said, I don't think that the Metro will necessarily rule the roost forever more. There's a gap in the market that I think I have identified.

Sex sells readers. You've only got to look at the success of Britain's number one newspaper. The super soaraway Sun.

It's boobs. Pure & simple. There's a gap in the market for whoever realises that the commuters of modern London are ready for free porn.

I present to you, the readers of the blogospehere, my business plan to really take it to the Metro and hit them where it hurts. I'm not talking about the bollocks, I'm talking about the wallets.

I present you with The Oyster. London's premier adult entertainment freesheet newspaper.

I'll pop up a poll, not the sort that the models in The Oyster would be dancing around, but one that gauges the weight of public opinion on the subject of commuter grumble.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, apparently. I don't think I'll ever truly understand the fairer sex.

I told Gill about what Richard had said to me at Blockbusters, and about Leigh. She gave me a really hard time, I couldn't believe it. I'm just trying to put food on the table. I thought she'd be proud of the stand I'd taken, she knows that Leigh and I had become close, but I blew the whistle, and that takes real integrity!

Then after having a massive go, she wanted me to go out to the cinema, it's Orange Wednesday two for the price of one and she wanted to see some damn romcom, I wasn't really in the mood to be honest. Sometimes social obligations can be a little bit complex.

Then she kept going on about how I'd beomce distant, and commitment and moving in. I know it makes sense financially, but I can't be tied down, I seriously think that Amber and I have connected. I made the mistake of telling Gill that Amber reminded me of Mum.

Gill knows I love Mum, to be honest I think she's jealous (Gill, not Mum - Mum never gets jealous, despite what Dad used to say. I've not told you about Dad yet, readers, maybe I'll get around to it one of these days).

Anyway, Gill goes off on one completely about how I'm wasting my time with Blockbusters, and why can't I get back into media sales, and Citizen Journalism is a waste of time. I think it might be moon time :@ her emotions are so unpredictable. I shouldn't be blaming Mother Nature for her outbursts and criticism though, she's only got herself to blame.

In the end she went home in a huff. Didn't even finish her chardoney.

I called up Mum, and you won't believe this, she took Gill's side!!!

I told you that you wouldn't beleieve it, WOMEN!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's in a blog?

Ok, so, recently my retired school teacher chum Mr Coleman posed a question for me, asking what blogging really is. (Ooh, he won't like that, I've ended a sentence with a preposition. And every teacher knows that prepositions are words that you're not supposed to end sentences with. Unless, of course, they're games teachers, in which case, if my school was anything to go by, they're dictatorial perverts in cheap tracksuits who prefer chatting to sixth form boys in the shower to teaching kids about grammar.

In fact, where i went to school there was this one kid, really cool kid actually, just not very good at sports. But really bright and the girls all loved him. Anyway, he passed out during cross country - which is a stupid idea of a 'game' anyway - and Mr 'Wilkins' the teacher gave him mouth to mouth to resuscitate him. When the cool kid came round, Mr 'Wilkins' banged his head on the ground to knock him out again and carried on giving him mouth to mouth. Poor kid was too scared to tell anyone about it.

This sort of stuff shouldn't be allowed to happen, don't you think? People who work in schools should be subject to some sort of checks to see if they're the kind of people that will bang a kid's head on the ground and then kiss him for ages. I suppose the powers that be would say that no system's perfect and that one or two rotten apples will always slip through the cracks. But that's not good enough. At my school there were three teachers who married pupils (obviously the pupils had left by the time the marriage happened) which means that some kind of relationship was happening when the kids were at school.

Not that i would have minded if Miss Holly, one of our English teachers, had been up for trying it on with me. She was bloody gorgeous.

Anyway, that's no help to the poor lonely kid wandering the playing fields alone at lunchtime, unable to understand why the other kids all laugh and point. Kids can be so cruel, but so can adults. And we, as a society, need to look at these things and see how we can deal with them and stamp them out. NOT that I'm a fan of mob rule and setting fire to paediatricians and all that stuff. Those crazy people that did that ought to understand that paediatricians actually help children, not hurt them.

Bit of a touchy subject, all this, I know. But we can't pretend it doesn't go on. It just makes me so angry that there's nobody looking out for kids like the cool kid I was telling you about earlier. Anyway, I hear he turned out really very well, despite what happened to him.)

Right, back to Mr Coleman's essay question. Actually, you know what? I'm not in the right frame of mind to be doing that now. I'll do it later.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Richard and Barry

Jeesh, just back after a shift at Blockbusters. I cannot comprehend what has just happened.

It seems the credit crunch is coming home to roost. What with people buying dodgy knock offs from Chinese immigrants in pubs and downloading stuff off the Internet, they're much less likely to visit Blockbusters to acquire their evening's entertainment.

My line manager, Ian Beal look-a-like, Richard, said "Barry, I think we're going to have to make some redundancies."

I couldn't beleive my ears, there was no way I was going to let Richard make Barry Newsdesk redundant, not again, not so soon. I had a bit of a conflab regarding certain colleagues. Here's how it ran:

Richard: "Sometimes it's last in, first out."
Barry: "Right, but do you know about Leigh?"
Richard: "No, what about Leigh?"
Barry: "Well, I think he might be on the take."
Richard: "What do you mean on the take?"
Barry: "I'm pretty sure he's stealing from Blockbusters."
Richard: "Stealing?"
Barry: "Yeah, he just uses Blockbusters as a a personal ATM."
Richard: "No way."
Barry: "Yes, he's always nipping off into the store room too,"
Richard: "Doing what?"
Barry: "I can't be sure, but it smells like cannabis."
Richard: "Do yo have any proof?"
Barry: "Not exactly, but you should keep an eye on him."

Well, I wasn't expecting what came next, Richard turned around and told me that I would be his "eyes and ears" in Blockbusters, that the things I'd said amounted to pretty strong allegations and that he "expected results", and if he didn't get "results" he'd be implementing some seriously strategic "policy changes".

To be honest, I think a lot of this was down to simple dramatics and I don't expect Richard to actually implement long term changes for me at Blockbusters.

I hated snitching on Leigh, I think we've become quite close, but it's a dog eat dog world, it's all about the survival of the fittest. I do think Leigh is on the take, and I'm kinda glad Richard mentioned all this to me.

I like to think of the recession like gardening, sometimes you need to do a bit of pruning to make the roses grow!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monster Munch

One week ago I posed a question that's been troubling me for some time. Of all the crisps available in an average newsagent, which one is the people's favourite?

Well, wonder no more....or should I say Golden Wonder no more!! ;0)

The Global Village has spoken. After seven days one crisp type and one crisp type alone stands head and shoulders above the rest. I'm not sure why I'm building up tension, readers, you'll have put two and two together by now I'm sure.

That's right. The World's Most Favourite crisp type is the Monster Munch.

And what a worthy winner. These MSG coated crazily crunchy reconstituted corn chips date back to the late 1970s. Arguably the greatest decade of them all. The Sex Pistols had shot to fame and Notts Forest won the football league. Maybe a certain amount of nostalgia played a part in the voting?

The last week hasn't exactly been plain sailing. For starters my excellent follower from the Emerald Isle Molly pointed out that Mini-Cheddars aren't actually crisps. Well, that didn't stop one person voting for the cheesey comestible. And, it didn't stop another one saying they prefer nuts!!!!

Amazingly, someone even voted against crisps altogether.

I would have thought my American followers would have voted for the Lays. But the Stateside potato chip received nil points.

Originally, I was going to write up my findings and send them into the Metro. But to be honest, I don't really think seven votes is enough of a sample.

Maybe people visiting the blog were bamboozled by the sheer volume of options. Maybe people don't really have a favourite crisp.

I'll pop up a new poll readers, this time I think I'll make it a bit more near the knuckle. I watched Panarama this evening, on the show they posed the question: should there be an amnesty on immigration?

The TV show didn't really come up with any answers, perhaps if a few more people vote in my poll I can send my findings into Panarama and we can finally put the issue to rest.

What do you think readers, should there be an amnesty on immigration? - don't answer me in the comments box, just vote in the poll on the left (unless you're reading this after next week, when the poll will have closed - if you are, then please feel free to answer the question in the comments box).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stars in their eyes

Last Sunday I waxed lyrical about one of the world's newest, fastest growing religions, Scientology. This week, I propose to turn back the wheels of time and take a dip into the distant past, lifting the lid on one of the oldest religions on planet Earth. Or rather, the galaxy...this week, you see, I shall spend a Spritual Sunday moment or two with my eyes turned to the heavens themselves. This week, Matthew, I'll be writing about Astrology.

It's probably not as old as Voodoo, which was the first religion that I described in detail. But Astrology easily dates back to a time when Man had yet to even make up believing in God.

Astrology is pretty simple to grasp at first, but takes a lifetime to master. Not unlike the classic strategy board game Othello.

The belief system tells its followers that their lives are predetermined according to the time of year that they were born.

The calendar year is split into 12 star signs or 'Zodiacs', as they're sometimes known. Though the star signs straddle the traditional months, making the Astrological Calendar a little bit trickier to keep tabs on. I've listed the 12 signs of the Zodiac below:

Aquarious (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
Pisces (Feb 19 - Mar 20)
Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 19)
Taurus (Apr 20 - May 20)
Gemini (May 21 - Jun 20)
Cancer (Jun 21 - Jul 21)
Leo (Jul 22 - Aug 21)
Virgo (Aug 22 - Sep 22)
Libra (Sep 23 - Oct 22)
Scorpio (Oct 23 - Nov 22)
Sagittarious (Nov 23 - Dec 22)
Capricorn (Dec 23 - Jan 19)

But how does that tell you anything? I hear you call.

Well, Astrology is run by Astrologers. These guys are basically the witch doctors and vicars of Astrology. Using complex systems that have been made up and refined over thousands of years, the Astrologers examine the position of the stars and planets in the night sky, in relation to the known position of the stars and planets at the time of your birth. From this scientific observation, Astrologers are able to tell you what will happen to you on any given day.

Once again, and like pretty much all the other religions going, this sounds absolutely ludicrous.

I was born on July 20th, which makes me a Cancer. That doesn't sound very nice. But on the contrary, according to one leading online Astrology website:

"Cancers are cute. They pretend to be tough but it's all an act. They have great memories and lots of them are good at history. They love anything old, like museums, antiques and your grandmother. They are fairly secretive and hide things - food in their drawers and cupboards for instance. They stay pretty close to home, are extremely psychic, have a great sense of humour and are the world's best cooks. They collect things. Other people call this garbage but to them it's gold...you'd never find a Cancerian throwing a garage sale."


At first, I will admit that I was pretty sceptical about the power of Astrology. However, now I've done some digging around, it's pretty amazing really. Almost everything above applies to me.

Another great advantage that Astrology has over other vague religions, like Christianity and Islam, is that it can help its followers determine who they will get on with. Some of the world's greatest leaders, such as Napoleon, used Astrology to pick who they would trust.

Here are the compatibility charts for Cancer:

Perfect Partners: Scorpio, Pisces
Nearly Perfect Partners: Taurus, Virgo
Like Minded Souls: Cancer
Opposites You're Attracted To: Sagittarius, Aquarius
Learn From Your Differences: Gemini, Leo
Not Your Destiny: Aries, Libra
Astrological Hell: Capricorn

It didn't surprise me one bit to discover that Amber is a Pisces, while Gill is a Librarian. Furthermore, Richard at Blockbusters, is a CAPRICORN. Now that makes a lot of sense. And, if proof be need be that Astrology has some genuine clout, Mum, like me, is also a Cancer.

You can get plenty of books about Astrology and you can even contstruct your own charts and make stuff up using a telescope. But as with most of these things it is far better to leave it to the professionals. Most newspapers and women's magazine feature daily or monthly star sign prediction pages, these are made up by the Astrologers themseleves. In Britain, the two most famous Astrologers are Russell Grant and Patrick Moore.

The next time I look up into the sky and wonder what the fickle Mistress of Fate has in store for me, I'll head inside and log on to the Internet to find out.

Here's what I've got to look forward next week to according to one leading online Astrologer:

"Business relationships will require solid definition this week. Beginning early Tuesday expect office managers and officials to publicly demand results or announce key policy changes. Much of this may be simple dramatics; don't expect authority figures to actually implement long term changes. The next 11 days will determine the outcome of difficult office dynamics or business power struggles. Wait for concrete signs of change before making public statements. After Wednesday romance and social obligations will be complex. Expect loved ones to compete for your attention or make unusual statements concerning family relationships. Emotions are unpredictable at present: watch for minor outbursts and criticism. Friday calm attitudes return: pace yourself and avoid quick judgements. "

Fingers crossed readers, this Wednesday could be something special!!!

As Oscar Wilde famously said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Mind you, they locked him up in Wandsworth Prison. He might have been witty, but that didn't stop him breaking the law.

Oscar Wilde was a Sagittarious.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fallen angels

They say that you should never meet your heroes. I always thought, 'what a load of tosh, when I met Brian Clough, he was every inch the gent'. However, the close encounter that I had with another one of my heroes last night seemed to back up the old adage.

I was minding my own business sitting in a pub in London's fashionable Chelsea waiting for my friend Dave the roofer (he's a season ticket holder at 'the Bridge') and in stormed none other than former world featherweight boxing legend, and my namesake, Barry McGuigan.

He looked to be in an advanced state of concern (Barry, not Dave - Dave was yet to arrive). I was going to say "hello", but I thought 'no Barry, this is London's fashionable Chelsea, the stars all hang out here to avoid that kind of thing', so I turned back around and kept reading my copy of the Metro.

I finished my pint and thought I'd nip to the gents before Dave arrived, he gets very impatient sometimes if I interupt his football stories by going to the loo.

So I walked into the loo and came face to face with Barry!!!

Not me, I wasn't looking in the mirror ;-) it was Barry McGuigan. the Clones Cyclone. I tell you what readers, he's tiny.

He might be tiny, but he's still menacing KK?! We looked at one another, eye-to-eye, mano i mano, and I made my way over the urinal. He was wearing the kind of expression that just says "DON'T!". Suffice to say, I didn't.

He turned around to face the solitary toilet cubicle. I have to say I was quite relieved, with a former champion pugilist staring at me I would almost certainly have suffered from a certain degree of 'stage fright'.

Anyway, I precided with my business, and heard some mumblings from within the toilet trap. Barry was clearly waiting for someone inside. Now, I've heard about this sort of thing, I'm not naive. I've had a toot on the old jazz salt trumpet, I've been a weekend rockstar practising my lines, I've snorted the dragons.

Like Eric Clapton before me, I'm talking about COCAINE!!!!!!!

Anyway, I tried not to think about it, then I heard another voice, clearer this time, coming out of the toilet cubicle. "Did mum see?" asked the voice.
"I'll tell you later," said Barry.

Well, jeesh, now I didn't know what to make of the situation. I just finished up and scarpered, no sign of Dave in the bar, so I headed for the door as quick as I could!!

I had to call Dave to tell him I'd been called away by Gill. "You're under the fum mate," he said. Maybe he's right.

When I got home, I popped the TV on, and there, smiling back at me across the living room, was....yep, you guessed it, BARRY MCGUIGAN.

He was on Family Fortunes, with Vernon Kay. Amazing.

I was too stunned to blog about it at the time, but I've had a chance to think about it. This would make for an interesting piece for the Metro probably.

I wonder if any of you have had an embarassing interlude with a former famous namesake? I'll love to read your stories, I'm sure they would add a touch of 'colour'* to my piece for the Metro.

As a Citizen Journalist you've got to keep your wits about you. There are famous people EVERYWHERE.


*colour is a journalistic euphemism. It means, interesting yet not directly relevant.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I don't know if you remember readers, but when I was starting out on my quest to become a journalist, I penned an article that said representatives of the media giant Sky had sexually harassed Gill?

My lawyers stepped in at that point and saved my bacon. But it was an expensive lesson. It effectively cost me my redundancy package!

As you can well imagine, I've been pretty careful ever since. Making sure that I check all my facts on Wikipedia.

More recently, though, when I gained my new follower David Coleman, I foolishly suggested it was the same one as the famous one. I was wrong. I can't be right about EVERYTHING!

Even so, I still found the following post on a web forum extremely hurtful. After I posted my review of Scientology, this site, made some seriously slanderous comments.

If you can't be bothered to click the link, basically, someone posted part of my Scientology blog and then someone else, calling themselves LronIsgonE_Snap in the West Coast of America, said (and I quote): "This blogger subscribes to the belief that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story."


I always check my facts. The thing is, as Steve pointed out when I discovered Wikipedia, not everything on the Internet is true!!!

It's for this reason that I am being forced to add a disclaimer to the bottom of my blog.

Disclaimers are used by organisations to effectively give them a Get Out of Trouble Free card if they say stuff that they shouldn't. It's a bit like when Private Eye's Ian Hislop used to say "alledgedly" on Have I Got News For You, after he'd just accused Sky's Rupert Murdoch of being a power-hungry manipulator, hell-bent on world domination, allegedly.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Today has been a bit of slow news day. That's what us journalists call the days when there's not much to write about.

Do not despair though. I have employed an old trick of the journalism trade. If you look over to the left of this post, you'll see that I have introduced a NEW feature to the blog. It's a poll. (Not the same sort of poll as my excellent follower Marek Lenarcik.)

Journalists often fall back on research carried out by analysts and pollsters, especially on slow news days like today.

I was inspired to create today's poll by one of the burning questions gripping the nation. I nipped into the newsagent to pick up a four pack of Cobra and grabbed a packet of the new Walkers Builder's Breakfast flavour crisp.

For those of you not familiar with this new flavour of crisp, Leicester-based Walkers Crisps are running a nationwide poll to decide what their new flavour should be. "For the first time ever the nation are being asked to decide," says Leicester's own squeaky clean Gary Lineker on the firm's website.

Walkers are real movers and shakers in the world of crisp technology. Though this time the new flavours were suggested by the people of Britain and the firm has declared that it will put one of them on their roster permanently once the votes have been cast.

There's the aformentioned Builder's Breakfast, there's Cajun Squirrel, there's Onion Baji (my fav), there's Fish & Chips, there's Chocolate & Chilli (urgh!!) and Crispy Hoisin Duck.

It got me thinking, the people of Britain really do love their crisps (or potato chips as our American cousins say). So I thought I would see which type of crisp, as oppose to which flavour of crisp, the people of the world enjoy most.

There are all the usual suspects that you might see in your average newsagent, and some extras. I've left no stone unturned. I've even included the rather amusingly named American crisp, Lays..;-)

I didn't include Bum though, I saw Bum crisps in Spain some years ago, I'm not sure whether they're still available.


Monday, March 2, 2009


Two days ago I welcomed on board the good ship Newsdesk an eigth follower.

David Coleman.

I'm afraid to say that I failed to do one of the most important things in journalism. I failed to check up my facts. It's schoolboy stuff, readers. Journalists should never take things at face value.

My David Coleman is not the same David Coleman made infamous for saying ridiculous things while commentating. My David Coleman is a retired school master.

The good news is, he's a reasonable chap and appears to have let yours truly off the hook.

He dropped by and left a really uplifting comment, commending me upon my improved use of the Queen's English - if you can't be bothered to click on the link, here's what he said:

A pleasing blog. As a retired teacher - and NOT a former TV sports presenter - I am happy to comment that your spelling and punctuation are both making great progress. My appearance in your latest article prompted me to recall the following soundbites :-

“Looking at the proliferation of personal web pages on the net, it looks like very soon everyone on earth will have 15 Megabytes of fame.”
M. G. Siriam

“Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks”

Keep on blogging!

I certainly will keep on blogging Dave (may I call you Dave or as a retired teacher would you prefer Mr Coleman?)

Asta la vista Davey!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


It’s Sunday today and naturally my thoughts are tending towards all matters spiritual. As part of my on-going quest to decide whether or not there is a God, I’ve covered some of the classic religions: Voodoo, Islam and Christianity. Today though, I’d like to share with you the fruits of my labours regarding an avant garde new religion that you might not have heard of.


Wtf? It doesn’t even sound like a religion. It sounds like one of the options you get at schools these days. In my day, you did chemistry, physics and biology. From what Amber was telling me these days they all get lumped together, if I had to guess at a decent name for this lumping together of all the sciences, I’d guess at Scientology. But I’d be wrong. You’d be much more likely to stumble across Scientology as part of your religious education.

Then again, when I did RE at school we tended to focus mainly on Christianity. No one mentioned Scientology – not once. Which is bit odd, because it’s been around since 1953 when the religion’s founder L Ron Hubbard made it all up. That said, the religion only gained its tax-free status in the 1990s. This was an important breakthrough for the Church of Scientology, which basically rewards its followers with something called ‘Tech’ according to their levels of financial contributions.

In short, Tech is knowledge. The more Tech you acquire, the more you understand the religion and the more in tune with God you become. Unlike pretty much every other religion in the world, the followers of Scientology aren’t given the full low down from the word go. They have to invest in Tech. Some people are critical of this religious business model, but I think it makes a lot of sense, particularly in today’s non-stop hectic world. Sometimes you haven’t got time to sit around reading about theology. If you do it by stages, you’ve got a better chance of understanding it all. Like the Open University.

There’s lots of stuff on the internet about Scientology. Lots of people are openly critical of Scientology because, frankly, it promotes some fairly ‘out there’ view points. Do you remember the TV show V? Well, that’s basically Scientology in a nutshell. Man is immortal, and his soul is called a Thetan. Thetans have lived on other planets before coming to live on Earth. They’re just using our bodies as soul storage facilities.

It sounds totally mental, right? Well, yeah, I suppose it does a little bit, but if you think about the tall tales you're expected to swallow with all the other religions, then maybe it's not so mental afterall. I suppose there's just as much chance of us all being Immportal Lizard Men as there is of the whole world being created in just seven days 6000 years ago by some all-seeing, all-powerful dude who lives in a place called Heaven where we all go when we die.

I’d better be careful about just how much information I present here readers. The Scientologists are pretty touchy when it comes to copyright infringements and they’ve been known to use some fairly strong-arm techniques when it comes to getting their message across.

That said, you might well see Scientologists on your local High Street. They sometimes set up shop offering Free Stress Tests. Which sounds pretty nice to me. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, as Mum always says.

Scientology is probably the sexiest religion going at the moment, and as such it attracts famous actors from Hollywood. Tom Cruise, John Travolta and David Beckham are all famous Scientologists. You're much more likely to see those guys in the Metro than you are the Pope. And if you're looking to attract youngsters to your religion you stand a much better chance if its followers are in the Metro.

You can certainly see why Scientology is so popular at the moment. It attracts genuine Hollywood followers, it offers up the belief that we’re all immortal Lizard Gods from Outer Space, and you can buy your way in. So it offers up a level of exclusivity that you just don’t seem to find with all the boring old fashioned religions.

If you’ve got the cash, you can be a Scientologist pretty much anywhere in the world. One place you can’t be a Scientologist though is Germany. Those guys have banned it. I’m disappointed in the Germans' lack of religious tolerance. Disappointed, but not that surprised!

Gotta go now readers, I’m starving. If I was back in Lincoln Mum’d be cooking me a lovely roast dinner. As it is, all I’ve got are beans and broccoli. Think I’ll have that on toast, washed down with a can of Cobra. Natch*.