Monday, June 29, 2009

A good innings

Hello readers, I’m sorry I’ve been a bit on the quiet side but it’s been a difficult weekend for me. Obviously you’ll all be aware now that we’ve lost one of the greatest musical talents ever to have moon-walked the earth. Michael Jackson was an idol of mine, creator of my favourite song of all time; Billie Jean.

I picked the wrong weekend to give up drinking; I came so close to turning to the bottle for solace. I made it through just by staying in bed and listening to all the old LPs. I haven’t felt so low since Diana died.

Apparently Farah Fawcett kicked the bucket too. Farah became the Mother Teresa of 2009 by dying at the same time as MJ. Remember that Mother Teresa slipped away amid all the furore surrounding Diana? Such dignity, even in death.

The two demises – Teresa and Diana – couldn’t have been more different really, and nor could their two lives. Just imagine if Mother Teresa had died being chased by the paparazzi trying to get photographs of her with the playboy son of a crazy Egyptian millionaire! Lol!

Different in death, and in life. But still, these two women had so much in common in terms of their spirits. Diana cared an awful lot about children and so did Mother T. And now we’ve lost Michael Jackson. He also cared about children; a little too much if we’re to believe popular rumour. If there were an afterlife then the three of them would probably have a lot to discuss.

If indeed there were an afterlife, you’d hope they’d be restored to their prime. You’d want MJ back to the old, black version, before he started playing Mr Potato Head with himself and sanding his skin down. And you’d want Mother T. full of her youthful vigour again. And you’d want Diana before the crash, right? Definitely. Otherwise the other two would probably just stare. They wouldn’t be able to help it.

There are some people who say that Diana was a cynical media-manipulator who used her wiles and her contacts to spin positive stories about herself in her battle of spite with the rest of the royal family. There are some people who point out that Prince Harry has red hair like James Hewitt. There are some people who claim she was assassinated on the orders of Phil the Greek. And yet more who allege that she slept with Tony Hadley, from the 80s. Any of these things could be true, we just don’t know. What we do know, however, is that a world in which the future King would rather bump uglies with Camilla Parker Bowles – who looks like Mum Ra the Ever Living – than with Diana Queen Of Our Hearts is a very strange world indeed.

Needless to say my phone was bleeping all day long on Friday and Saturday with really unkind jokes about Jacko, dredging up those tedious accusations about his relationships with children. Why can’t we just remember him for all of his wonderful achievements and not for whatever silly mistakes he made along the way. We all make mistakes, don’t we.

Socrates was always at it, for Christ’s sake, and he’s universally revered as the father of European philosophy.

So RIP Michael and Farah.

But these things always go in threes, don’t they. So we’re going to have another wonderful talent taken from us before the week is out, you mark my words.

If I was a gambling chap I’d have a few quid on Bruce Forsyth. The man’s a dancing cadaver. A true professional, though, and a real gentleman by all accounts.

ND out

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crazy, crazy, crazy nights

Jeeesh readers, today was a long one. I felt surprisingly OK when I first woke up but I think I was still drunk. I didn't have any clothes on when I woke up, but fortunately I was alone. The thing is, I can't even remember leaving the pub.

I was lying alone in a strange bed, in a strange house. The room was well turned out, crisp duvet and minimal furniture. It felt oddly familiar, I'd seen that lampshade before. Then I remembered. I tell you when I'd seen that lampshade before, it was exactly a week ago today when I went around to clean up Dan's place for the prospective new tenants.

I was in Dan bloody Bantam's place, naked as the day I was born. Nothing came back to me, I remember leaving the office at COB (that's close of business to you and me) and we went to some bar, Jerrie's or Ryan's or something, some wine-bar cum discoteque place as it turned out. I genuinely can't remember much else, I was chatting with the guys from editorial about potentially writing the odd piece for them, I think my Citizen Journalism really opened a door or two.

Seems the sales guys and editorial guys don't really mix socially, which is odd, they seem like nice enough guys if a bit snooty and pretentious, like narky teenagers, except in their 30s. I guess Dan's Chinese walls extended into the bar. I like to think that you can probably see Dan's Chinese walls from space. Of course, you can't really see the actual Chinese Wall from space, that's an urban myth, it's because it runs along a mountain range, and that's what you can see from space.

I tell you what I could see though, I could see the Dan's bedroom walls. Or at least, Dan's spare bedroom walls. That's not to say Dan's bedroom has spare walls, I mean the walls to his spare bedroom. They too are almost certainly not visible from space.

I could hear noises outside the bedroom, thumping about, so I thought I'd better get my shit together. Luckily my clothes were in the room, neatly folded on a chair by the door. F*ck. I never, ever, fold my clothes before I get into bed. Gill used to give me a hard time about it, but I'm a maverick. When you've got to go to bed, you've got to go to bed, and folding your clothes is too controlling. You can never trust someone who folds their clothes before they go to bed. You've only got to look at what happened to Gill to see that.

I got myself dressed and ambled downstairs, and came face to face with the girl who's just big enough nearly too big. She muttered "morning", then Dan walked into the kitchen, he didn't even look at her, just said "Morning Barry. Sleep well?"

I thought I'd better ride it out. "Not bad thanks, bit of crazy night eh?"

"Barry, I'm going to take the MX5 in today, I'll give Becs a lift, you all right to get the train? Course you are, you've been before haven't you. You should be able to get a bus from the end of the road that'll take you to the station.

"Oh, and Barry," he said as he walked out, "can you clean your sick up please? I've got some people coming around later. You'd best get your skates on too, you don't want to be late today, we've got the monthly sales meeting at 9:00."

Things weren't much better by the time I made it to the office at 9:17. Bantam was standing in front of a Powerpoint slide show that featured indecipherable spreadsheets full of tiny numbers (most of which were in brackets, for some reason).

He put me on the spot almost immediately. Which I thought was a pretty low move. I've only been working there for two weeks, I'm just trying to bed myself in. I said as much too, and when I said the last bit, the room erupted. Bantam's face went scarlet. "Get out Barry, get upstairs and start making sales," he barked.

Well, I went out and straight upstairs, but I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole when I got to my desk. I was attracting a good deal of unwanted attention. People would occasionally congregate around a PC and starting laughing when they saw the screen. God readers, I'm a Facebook laughing stock I bloody know it. There are bound to be pictures, I had no idea what they'd be off, I was starting to shake with fear, well, fear and nausea. I started salivating at the back of my throat, that all day breakfast bab was a bad idea, it was definitely coming back up.

Thank (your) God I made it to the toilets in time, the whole bloody kit and caboodle came back up. That was waste of £4:50. After a good ten minutes worth of wretching I finally started to feel human again. I flushed the chain and went over to the wash basin to freshen up. At first I wasn't sure what was wrong when I looked at my face in the mirror. Then it hit me. I remembered the flaming sambuca scorching my nose and lips when I spilt it mid-shot. Now I remembered the tequila slammers and the depth chargers. I remembered the turbo cider and B52. I had vague recollections of the Slow Comfortable Screw and chatting up Just Big Enough Nearly Too Big, I remembered the dare by the editor who challenged me to steal a bottle of vodka, getting caught and making a dash for the door. I remembered walking in on Chris from conferences who in the closed off upstairs room of the bar shagging one of the temps from behind, she was holding onto one of the beer pumps for dear life, I remember walking in on Bantam in the toilets, a line of Colombian marching powder on his top lip. It was like being in Motley Crue. I remembered having a few lines with him, and him insisting on going for a piss while we were both in there so the bouncer wouldn't get suspicious. And then, looking into my guilty eyes, I remembered agreeing to have my eyebrows shaved off for £50.

I still don't remember leaving the bar, and I still don't remember what happened back at Bantam's place. But I'll you one thing for nothing, I'm never drinking again.

Newsdesk is on the wagon

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Editorial integrity

I had my first brush with the editorial team today. So far, Dan has maintained very strict 'Chinese walls' between the editorial and the sales departments of the magazine.

Walls are funny aren't they readers? Sometimes they're to keep people out and sometimes they're to keep people in. Dave the roofer always says "walls have ears, but they don't put them in their sausages". In our case, the Chinese walls are to keep sales and editorial apart in order to maintain something called 'editorial integrity'. I can only assume that newspapers like the Daily Sport and the Daily Mail have got a few holes in their Chinese walls.

We need to maintain very strict divisions between the two departments in order to maintain what Dan calls 'the sales story'. The sales story relies on our advertisers believing that our magazine is read by the influencers that we say it's read by, and that they value the content, so will turn to the magazine when making key purchase decisions, and in the process see the adverts that we have sold and in turn be influenced by them and make key purchasing decisions that favour the advertisers. It all sounds a bit far-fetched to the uninitiated, but that's the basic business model of B2B publishing. I knew this already really from my earlier attempts at getting The Oyster of the ground.

Unlike The Oyster, we're fully audited by the UK's magazine regulator, so we've got a pretty compelling sales story I reckon. Still, I've been struggling to actually make that many sales, which is bad news, because most of my salary comes from commission. That's to say, I get a slice of the action of whatever I sell. It's common among people working in sales that they get paid according to how many units they sell. It's called 'incentivization'. That's why sometimes waiters will suggest getting a side order of chips and spinach, even though you don't really need both. They're 'upselling', which is basically the practice of conning customers into buying something they didn't ask for and don't need. The next time a waiter asks you whether you want a side order, I suggest you ask them whether you can pay less if you don't bother with a bread roll.

Anyway, back on my first day, Dan gave me an Excel spreadsheet jam packed full of 'leads' - leads are people or organisations that might want to advertise. I've pretty much been in contact with most of the leads now, and I've got some good prospects, I really have, but the market is terrible at the moment. I had a really good long chat with one potential client and I think we might be able to do some things together, but she's got budgetary issues of her own, she sent me a press release and suggested that if I was able to get it into the next month's magazine, she might be able to talk to her FD and free up some spend.

I thought is sounded like a definite in, after all a new regional office in Dublin is great news for the client and ideal for the magazine. I told Dan and he said I needed to speak with the editor.

"Sounds more like a fairy tale than a sales story," said the editor in between taking chomps out of his sandwich, "I'm on lunch, can this wait?"

Jesus, I felt bitch slapped good and proper. Brap. Those editorial guys don't mince their words.

I told Dan and he suggested that I email the press release to the editor. I didn't fancy another tongue lashing and sending emails is just so much more convenient and easier than talking to people.

The editor didn't so much as acknowledge the email, but then towards the tail-end of the day, at about 5:30 he sent me a message back. "OK. I'll put it in. But if they don't buy any advertising next month, that's the last favour they get."

At first I thought the editor just seemed like a complete asshole really. We're all in this together, whatever I can sell goes directly onto our bottom line and means the editorial staff (who are basically cost centres) get to keep their jobs. Still, I've been at the coal face of Citizen Journalism for over six months now and I know that those guys are also under a lot of pressure, producing need to know information at the cutting edge of Human Resources is more difficult than it sounds.

It was another tough day at the office, but on reflection, in the cold light of day, when all's said and done, I'm so glad I've gotten this job, on the inside, so to speak. I think if I can keep demonstrating to the editorial team that I've got what it takes to spot a real story and help those guys out, then I really think we can move this publication onto the next level.

Who knows, I might even get my own column.

It's the office social tomorrow night, so I'm not sure I'll have a chance to post. It's a great opportunity to do some networking. I think I'll use the opportunity to big up my Citizen Journalist creds. When those guys see I'm just the same as them, the barriers will come down sure as eggs is eggs.

It is what it is. I could be on the verge of something big here. I really could.

ND out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Dad

I've just had one of the worst weekends of my life.

No, scratch that.

I've just had the worst weekend of my life. Period. (I wonder why Americans only ever pronounce the full stop? I remember back at school me and Peter Bloor decided that we'd spend the physics lesson pronouncing all the grammar in our sentences, but instead of the grammar we substituted in different words. I think we used the word 'powersupply' for a comma, not sure why and I can't remember the rest, but I think we'd seen Monty Python for the first time and we thought it was hilariously surreal - our teacher, Mr Salt, put up with the tomfoolery for about half an hour and then sent us into the corridor).

Anyway, this weekend, I decided to go up and see Mum in Lincoln. I got a Funfare on the National Express. Funfare! What a misnomer, I've had more fun scraping the dog shit out of my trainers. Still, I'd do anything for Mum. Even scrape dog shit out of trainers. Regular readers will know that I love my Mum. She is more precious to me than life itself and all I really want is for her to die happy.

I went up to see her because this weekend it was Father's Day. Which is not called Fathering Sunday, unlike Mother's Day. That's to say Mother's Day is called Mothering Sunday, unlike Father's Day. Which is just called Father's Day.

Mum usually gets a little bit down on Father's Day. She tried to top herself once, not long after he left us. I don't tell many people that, because she told me in confidence herself. There's no love lost between me and my long lost father. I've not really told you about my dad have I readers? There's just so much to tell, but it'll have to wait until another time.

I let myself into Mum's place with the key that she keeps under the flowerpot by the door. There was no sign of life, so I went into the kitchen and got myself a cuppa. I flicked on the TV. She's got satellite these days. Satellite, it costs a bloody fortune, but apparently Roger is a big golf fan.

I flicked it onto Dave and sat down to watch a repeat of Top Gear. I can't make up my mind over whether Jeremy Clarkson is a genius or a complete cock. I think that's part of his universal charm.

Anyway, after about a quarter of an hour or so, I heard some noises, bumping around upstairs, I bet Mum's having an afternoon snooze, I thought. I turned the sound up, I didn't want to startle her and I quite fancied some dinner. After a short while I heard footsteps coming down the stairs and in walks bloody Roger, bold as brass, wearing a satin sleeping gown.

"Hello Barry," he said, "we weren't expecting you until later."

We!!!!!!!!!! We!!!!!!!!!!! WFT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was dumbstruck. Things got worse, Mum turned up a few minutes later, her hair was slightly disheveled and I swear blind, on (your) God's earth she'd been smoking. AT HER AGE!

Things went from bad to worse, I had to sit there while the two of them mucked about like teenagers. Giggling, she was, AT HER AGE!

I actually felt sick. In the end, I went around to see my old school chum Steve. His wife suggested that we go down the pub instead of sitting around the house. I get the impression that she doesn't really like me, readers. I know, it's difficult to believe. I think she's just jealous that me and Steve have a shared history that she can't compete with.

In fairness, it was a pretty dull night, I don't think we've really got that much in common after all. We ended up playing darts and I was back home by 10. No sign of Mum or Roger. The next thing I know I'm being woken up at about 2am by the The Thing That Should Not Be. There are certain things a son should never hear. I won't go into details, it was too ghastly for words.

I got to sleep in the end, but my dreams were f*cked up readers. I dreamt that I'd invented a new sandwich spread made from Marmite and marmalade, it was called Marmalite and I was trying to sell it to Alan Sugar, but then he turned into my dad and told me I was fired. When I finally got up in the morning, it felt as though I'd done five rounds with Barry McGuigan.

I didn't think things could get worse, but there I was expecting a Mum special fry-up on Sunday morning and then she announced that we were all going out for lunch at the Harvester to meet Roger's children and so she didn't think we should have a fried breakfast because Roger's got high f*cking cholesterol. I can't believe I'd gone all that way to see Mum and now she was taking me to a Harvester.

Roger Leache, it transpires, is a widower. He has three children. Michael is the eldest (about 45), he's a property surveyor and is married to Kate (slightly younger than Michael I'd say, she was clearly something of a yummy mummy once, but I reckon she's let herself go a bit), they have three daughters (I can't remember their names, I think one was called Emily). The middle child is Alan (early 40s) an architect and single (quite possibly gay - but then if I hadn't heard what I'd heard, I would have assumed Roger was gay. I won't rule it out, Mum could just be a cover - maybe he's bi-curious?). Then there's Gary (late 30s). He didn't say what he does for a living, he muttered something about helping out with local bands - I think he might be in the music business or a drug dealer.

What a torturous three hours that was. Three bloody hours, Gary slopped off before the end of lunch saying something about a soundcheck and Roger announced that Mum and Kate shouldn't' have to pay, then bloody Michael parps up that it's Father's Day and 'Dad' (Roger) shouldn't have to put his hand in his pocket. He flippin' well split the bill three ways and I was expected to cough up. He's not even my dad. Jesus, I'm not tight or anything, but sometimes you've got to stand your ground. I was standing it too, then Mum slipped me a couple of twenties, so I caved in. I'm pretty sure Roger saw too, but he didn't say anything. He just looked at me, face like he was chewing a lemon.

I made my excuses and left. I said I had to run to catch my bus, but in truth it wasn't for another hour and half, so I nipped into the pub near the station. Who should I see propping up the bar? Gary bloody Leache. He was chatting to this right n'ere do well. I kept my distance, but he spotted me after a while and made his way over.

"Your Mum's got a few bob," he said, as he sat down next to me. You can imagine my reaction.
"What my Mum's got is hers," I said.
"Aye, 'ers 'til she cops it. Eh?" He said and he winked. He winked, readers, like some character out of a Charles Dickens novel.

Oh readers, how I've struggled to drop that disgusting East Midlands twang. The dropped aitches and gees, a fake friendliness with the underlying thuggery of the market town inhabitant. 'TAKE ME BACK TO THE METROPOLIS,' I was screaming inside.

"Don't worry mate, it's not me yo after worry about," he said, "I'm not the crook in our family."

He slurped down his pint, patted me on the shoulder and made for the door.

It was the longest coach journey back down south I've ever spent.

Newsdesk out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Taking a position


I had a chat with the guys at work about 'positions' and it turns out I've not been keeping up with the times. There's a whole other bunch of positions that the kids are using these days. Have any of you heard of the following?

Some of these sound plain weird:

The Lotus, The Wheelbarrow, The Pink Sneeze, Half and Top, The Sacred Cow, The Lambeth Walk, The Pushmepullyou, Mambling, The Lily Dive, The Spacehopper, The Catherine Wheel, Upstairs Downstairs, The Backwards Madoc (hello, campers!), The Speckled Band, Round the Horne, The Star of David, Shouting Donkey, The Putty Fuck, Bin Laden's Cave, The Double Header, The Dutch Maritime Cluster, Bill and Ben, The Half Pipe, Roast Beef with all the trimmings, Thatcher's Wank, The 1800 metres, The Terry Nutkins ( I think that might be a ladies' pubic hairstyle, actually, like the Brazillian or the Hollywood. Sort of bald on the top but really long and straight around the edges. Sounds horrible.), The Mum and Dad, Arthur Fowler's Nervous Breakdown, Three Men and a Baby (tasteless, to say the least), The Horror The Horror, The River of Babylon, Brown Girl in the Ring (shows you what those guys were up to), My Way or the Highway, In Excelsis Deo, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, The Fritzl, M1 M6 M6 Toll (with an optional stop-off at the Little Chef), The Family Get-together, The Custardy Battle, Breslaw's Tent, The Cull, Up On The Roof, The Soho No Olives, The No-Not-There-Come-On-You-Like-It-Really-No-No-I-Really-Don't-Please-Can-We-Just-Stop-No-We-Can't-Stop-Until-You-Say-The-Safeword-I-Can't-Remember-The-Safeword-Oh-You-Naughty-Little-Thing-No-No-I-Really-Can't-Remember-The-Safeword-Please-Can-We-Stop-Not-Until-You-Say-The-Safeword-Oh-God-Oh-God-What's-The-Bloody-Safeword-I'm-Not-Telling-You-Please-Tell-Me-Not-Until-I'm-Finished-KANGAROO!-It's-Kangaroo-Oh-You-Miserable-Bitch-I'll-Have-To-Finish-Myself-Off-Now-I-Didn't-Really-Want-You-To-Stop-But-You-Said-The-Safeword-Yes-I-Know-But-It-Really-Turns-Me-On-The-Idea-Of-You-Ignoring-The-Safeword-And-Just-Continuing-To-Do-What-You-Want-Well-How-Am-I-Supposed-To-Know-When-You-Really-Want-Me-To-Stop-Then-Oh-Just-Forget-It-No-Come-On-I-Need-To-Know-Look-Just-Forget-It-There-Is-Such-A-Thing-As-Spontaneity-You-Know-I-Don't-Know-Why-You-Have-To-Plan-Everything-You're-So-Controlling-But-I-Thought-That's-What-You-Wanted-Me-To-Be-Like-Tonight-Look-Just-Get-Off-Let's-Go-And-Watch-Holby-City, Mornington Cresent, The Loving Way, Sobbin' Women, The Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home, Terrahawks, The Ouch!, The Handjob While I'm Watching Porn With The Sound Down And You're Reading Grazia, The Flat Back Four, The Pot The Red And Screwback For The Yellow Green Brown Blue Pink And Black, The Sometimes You Look Just Like Your Mum, The Big Hairy Monkey, and the On A Chair In The Kitchen.

It makes the mind boggle, readers.

ND out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How do you do it?

Just a quick one today, as the actress said to the bishop, I've got an absolutely manic day in the office. Dan has got me nipping around to his place later to give it the once over before some potential new tenants move in. Then I've got to pick up his shirts from the dry cleaners. He reckons that they sometimes come back without buttons and since there's a recession on he has asked me to inspect them all and negotiate new terms. He doesn't miss a trick.

Today's post is really to draw you attention to the new poll up on the sidebar. I've been running polls on my blog for a while now and, frankly, they've not really generated the huge public interest that I would have imagined. After the last issue over the best form of rule (the winner was democracy, surprise, surprise), I thought I'd spice things up a bit.

Sex sells readers, you know that, I know that, and the actress and the bishop most certainly know that. I've decided to poll the blogoshere (oo-er missus) on its favourite sexual position.

Get voting!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Deer, oh deer

Well readers, I heard a nasty story from Dan at work today. He was cycling in Richmond Park on the weekend, apparently, when a car overtook him and collided head-on with a deer that ran into the road with no warning. Not that deer are known to give warnings ordinarily, of course. If it had shouted “coming, ready or not” the driver probably wouldn’t have heard it over the roar of his car engine anyway. And he would never have realised that he’d just killed the world’s only talking deer.

Who knows, that may be what actually happened… In which case that’s a loss for the worlds of both science and entertainment, not unlike the sad passing of Johnny Ball. Johnny wasn’t run over by a thoughtless road hog in a drop top Merc while crossing a road without looking, though. Thank (your) God. What a legend that man was. RIP JB.

Anyway, this reminded me of a friend of mine who I’ll name only as “The Clinician” because he probably wouldn’t want me to tell you his real name, where he works, which famous tennis player he resembles from certain angles or any other details that might reveal to unsuspecting friends and family that he enjoys nothing so much as to casually despatch innocent members of the animal kingdom.

Speaking of tennis players, I was once assured by somebody who claimed to be very close to the situation that former tennis player Tim Henman shagged Tangerine Dream Sue Barker in the dressing rooms at Wimbledon. I’m not saying it happened, I’m just saying what I was told, so the lawyers can go spin. Ugggh. Rather him than me, though. Barker by name, Barker by nature. Lol!!

If Henman in fact didn’t shag Sue Barker, then he has that in common with Sir Cliff Richard. That and the fact that he’s on the very long list of British Embarrassments.

Assuming Henman didn’t shag Sue Barker, it was probably because he choked at the crucial moment in the seduction, perhaps while his Dad looked on, stony-faced, from his seat off to the side. I always got the impression that Timmy was in a lot of trouble with his dad when he didn’t win, and that he got locked in the cupboard under the stairs because: “There’s no room in this family for losers Timothy!!”

Or maybe it would be because every time he made a tiny bit of progress towards having sex with her he’d stop and do fisty-pumps and she’d just get bored. Like it’s a big deal to get to first base with Sue Barker!

Andy Murray, now he’s a different story altogether. If he had the chance to shag Sue Barker, he’d see it through, although he probably wouldn’t be too happy about it and he might insist on listening to his iPod and having a towel covering his head the whole time. If it was me, I’d stick a towel on Barker’s head too, just in case mine fell off. Lol!!

Rafael Nadal, well he’d probably end up breaking a few of her bones, such is his raw power, while Roger Federer wouldn’t shag Sue, he’d make love to Sue, with grace, and beauty. With the poise of a ballerina and the cold precision of an assassin. He probably wouldn’t even break a sweat. It would be interesting, wouldn’t it, if Sue Barker had had sex with all the leading tennis players from the men’s tour over the years so we could see if their tennis game reflected their moves in the boudoir. What a kiss and tell that would be. The News of the Screws would probably shit itself in glee just at the thought of it.

Once upon a time Sue Barker was very tasty. Indeed, as a young boy I once lay down on the floor under the television screen, to see if I could see up her skirt. I couldn’t though. So I had to imagine it.

Anyway, back to the deer, which is what I wanted to tell you about in the first place. The Clinician once hit a deer with his car and when he went to see if it was dead, he found that it was alive. So he went back to his car, got a jack handle and finished the poor thing off himself, blow after blow after blow, with flecks of blood and brain matter speckling his face. He’s nothing if not thorough.

Fine, he probably did the right thing with the only tools he had to hand. Then another time, I was in the car with him for this one, we stumbled across a young lady who had knocked over a lamb. The poor thing was still alive, but it wasn’t going to get any better.

I’m afraid I would probably have gotten back in my car and put it down to the stony-cold heart of that old sow Ma Nature, but The Clinician grabbed the lamb’s head, put his foot against it’s shoulder and broke its neck. It was for the best, but that didn’t help cheer up the young lady that had knocked it over.

I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that he’d take so easily to this kind of behaviour, because he’s a vivisectionist by trade and the happiest chap in his job I have ever met. He absolutely loves it. If anything needs to be tested on animals, he’s your man. At work, or at home; he doesn’t mind. If we ever see a beagle when we’re out in the street, he gets this distant, serene look in his eye. It really is lovely to see somebody so contented by his daily toil. I don’t invite him round to mine, though, because I don’t like the way he looks at Matthew and Steven (my cats, for newer readers).

The Clinician is a vegetarian, oddly enough. That’s vegetarians, though, completely fucking illogical.

Anyway, I’m offski.

L8ers

BN

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Settling in

I expect you’ve all been wondering how the new job’s coming along, eh readers? Well, it’s early doors, of course, but I’d say the old Newsdesk charm has already been working its magic.

Have you noticed in life there are those people who fit in and those who don’t? What is the magical ingredient, what is the ‘it’ that people who have ‘it’ have? What sets apart the leaders from the followers, the sheep from the shepherd?

It’s a little thing called CHARISMA. When you’ve got it, flaunt it. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past two days. I didn’t want to come to my new job as a wall flower. You’ve got to seize life by the throat sometimes. Work hard, play hard. That’s my mantra.

I’m a tiger.

I wonder who would win in a fight between a lion and tiger? Not that it would ever happen of course, which reminds me of that old joke about polar bears not eating penguins because they can’t get the wrapper off, it’s technically inaccurate, they don’t eat penguins because they live poles apart. Metaphorically speaking.

Like lions and tigers. That said, they’ve been known to mate while in captivity, the resultant offspring are known as ligers or tions.

Anyway, if they did fight then I think the tiger would win easy. Tigers are stronger and more powerful than lions. Lions hunt in packs, they’re like the bullies of the big cat world. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the lion in my fav film the Wizard of Oz was a cowardly lion. Mind you, the lions get the lionesses to do all the work, which sound pretty clued up. And they practice infanticide. Still, Mother Nature is a fickle mistress.

I won’t take any shit from bullies. I’ve made sure that the word’s out I’m a black belt at judo, so that should keep me pretty safe. That’s the thing with bullies, they’re all cowards really. Mind you, as I’m a pacifist, I won’t be starting any fights either! I’m a lover, not a fighter ;-)

I really seem to have hit it off with Dan and Susie, those guys are always bantering away. Sometimes it seems like casual racism or homophobia, but it’s just a bit of banter isn’t it?

I’ve remembered now how much I love office life. The cut and the thrust, the intrigue and the gossip. My new team seem to really get on. And, MY LORD, you should see some of the totty. I think I’ve been out of the game a little bit too long, lol.

There’s one lass who’s got the control of everyone’s eyes, including mine. She’s just big enough, nearly too big, if you know what I mean? I actually feel a little bit intimidated by her. I know, crazy, me, Barry Newsdesk, intimidated by a 21 year old blonde Big Brother fan from Beckenham.

I’ve not made a move, I learnt my lesson the hard way with Amber, once bitten, twice shy so the saying goes. But there’s an office social in a week or so, I reckon that presents the perfect opportunity to get to know her a bit better.

I’ve not made any sales yet, but Dan doesn’t seem to mind about that really. Now I’ve gotten to know him a little better, he seems a really genuine bloke. I really empathise with the way his ex-wife Clare is treating him. He had to leave early today because the emotional trauma is getting to him, there’s a good chance he’ll have to work from home again tomorrow too. I think he wants to make the most of HIS home, before Clare gets HER way and rents it out from under his nose.

KK, gotta go now, I’ve got to do some homework on HR. I tell you what, I think Gill was right, there is more to HR than dreaming up pointless courses and making people redundant.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

First day nerves

I won't lie to you readers, it's just not in my nature, for some reason I'm really nervous about tomorrow and my first day in the new job. Sounds silly really, but I've been out of the rat-race of office life now for over six months, and the 15 years of media sales I racked up before I was made redundant might as well have been 15 minutes.

You see, the thing is, I wasn't entirely upfront with Dan Bantam, I've never really worked at the coal face, as it were, of media sales. My specialism was in something known as Newspaper Communication Insertion and Distribution Logistics. I basically worked hand-in-hand with the Marketing Collateral Division to ensure the seamless, timely, delivery of High Level Corporate Sales Information Leaflets and Brochures.

I'm probably confusing you with all my technical terms. Basically, I was responsible for chasing down the invoices of companies that had flyers inserted into the Daily Mail. Bingo, Scratchcards, Perfumery. I've seen it all. Still, it was only a small white lie, I mean how difficult can selling adverts be? Surely you just phone up the peoople who placed adverts last time and book them in next month!!

The trouble is, I don't really know that much about the subject of personnel. Personnel, like a number of other terms has been businessified up, mainly by Americans, and is now known more commonly as Human Resources.

Personnel and Human Resources are one and the same. But if you tell a Human Resources Professional this they tend to get quite precious. I know this from very personal experience. As regular readers or readers that have recently started following and have bothered to read the backstory will know, my recently ex-d girlfriend Gill Nelson is a Human Resources Professional.

I once made her cry by calling it personnel. Not on purpose mind, I think she's made some people redundant that morning and she said she was feeling a bit low, I told her in no uncertain terms that in today's cutthroat world of trade and commerce there are no people, there are just employees. I'd had a few Cobras and kinded of hammered home my views. In full fairness to me, the last people to leave a sinking firm the personnel department, I said.

I was probably feeling a little bitter at the time, bitter but realistic. I said she was a pretty canny operator, leaving school with an English and History degree, which basically qualifies you for nothing, and somehow engineering herself into an unsackable job, "a job for life" I called it, I think this is what started her off to be honest. Her Mum had recently passed on and she was a school teacher so never really undestood what it was Gill did all day. Dreaming up pointless courses and making people redundant in the main, I'd said.

Anyway, I figured enough water has passed under the bridge since we split up, so I thought I'd give Gill a call to pick her brains regarding some of the latest development in the industry. If I can turn up tomorrow morning with a few words of jargon and some general industry knowledge, it'll help me settle in no end.

I thought she'd be pleased with me, pleased so have someone to talk to about Human Resources. Jesus, how wrong can you be? Don't answer that. She just scoffed that I didn't know anything about the subject and with my track record of staying power I'd be lucky to last the first day.

It must be the hormones, I thought, so I asked her how she was getting on with Dave the roofer. Not surprisingly Dave the roofer has thus far failed to step up to the plate and do the decent thing. But, GET THIS, Gill isn't even bothered about being married. I questioned the wisdom of bringing a bastard child into the world. She didn't respond to this, I think I touched a nerve. Seems Dave, the roofer, has already set up a fund for his progeny. Ten grand he's put into it?! And Gill says he's going to put in £1000 every month INDEFINITELY!!!

No wonder she's so bloody chirpy. Selfish cow. If I didn't know better I'd assume she tricked my best friend Dave the roofer into the whole thing.

Now that's Human Resources.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Job done

Well I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news bearing in mind the circumstances, readers, but I’ve rejoined the ranks of the gainfully employed. I got the job at the magazine (definitely not going to tell you what it’s called now, lol) and there was no need for underpants, thank (your) God.

(There’s always a need for underpants, obviously. I hate going commando. In my post on The Jews, as longer term readers will remember, I revealed that I am uncircumcised; the proud owner of a foreskin. As any other foreskin owner will tell you, catching the foreskin in the zip of a pair of trousers is actually one of the most painful experiences known to man. And that’s not just man, as in the male of the sex; that’s mankind as in all of us, ladies included.

Tests have proven that catching your foreskin in the zip of a pair of trousers is actually more painful than childbirth. But you’re best off not saying this to a woman who is experiencing an actual childbirth, apparently, because they can get a bit testy. Other things known to be more painful than childbirth include Cluster Headaches.

In fact, I read somewhere recently that it was after catching his foreskin in the zip of his jeans that the CEO of Levis decided to reintroduce the button fly, thereby inadvertently launching the career of Nick Kamen, who was in that famous Levis launderette advert. Remember? Anyway, there you go, it’s like denim chaos theory, no distance at all between the CEO of Levis’ cock and Nick Kamen. And that’s how it was in reality, if you believe the rumours.

Plucked from obscurity? I don’t think so. Plucked from one of those fruit machine places with cheap vases in the window which front for knocking shops that specialise in ‘chickens’, more like. Not that I know anything about the sexual exploitation of young runaways, of course. Lol!!!

Interestingly, that advert where Kamen strips down to his boxer shorts is what actually made boxer shorts popular again. Before that it was all about the briefs. After that we had the boxers again, and then some years later the lycra trunks. See where I’m going? There’s a weird kind of circuitousness to this whole thing. Because the lycra trunks is where this all started. Kind of. Anyway, I should end this bracketed section.)

No, what actually happened was far stranger than an office-based underwear modelling session…

You’ll remember from yesterday’s post that I went along to the interview only to find that Dan Bantam, the well turned-out publisher, had called in sick. So home I went, and posted. But then I got to thinking, although I try not to be superstitious, maybe fate had intervened. Maybe, just maybe, my decision to buy the more reasonably priced Rocha Jon Rocha lycra trunks from Debenhams’ Designers range had been mistaken. And when you get to thinking like that, there’s nothing you can do.

I became consumed with the notion that I’d bought the wrong pants. So I hopped on a bus to head into town and rectify my mistake. Where would a man with an eye for fashion like Dan buy his pants, I wondered… Not Debenhams, that’s for sure. No, I needed to head for the very epicentre of London fashion: Selfridges!!!

I very rarely go to Selfridges, because once I had a panic attack in the food hall. There was just too much stuff there, too much to choose from. And one of the lights was flickering. I’d picked out this truckle of Somerset cheddar and I was about to go to the till when I was just, like, seized with this uncontrollable urge to run. There was actually a voice in my head screaming at me to run. Fight or flight, they say, and you can’t fight cheese (no matter how strong it is lol!!!) so I legged it. Ever since then, I’ve tried to steer clear of the place. Not just because of the cheese and the panic attack, though, but also because it tends to be full of complete fucking wankers.

Anyway (sorry, this is going on a bit, isn’t it) off to Selfridges I went. I didn’t go in the front door, I went in the side because it’s less intimidating. I can’t stand that bit with the Louis XIV bags and stuff. Horrible. Lots of blokes with jumpers knotted over their shoulders. Where the hell did this notion that continentals are more stylish than us ever come from, anyway? They all look like nancy-boys, with their pastel tones.

So I hopped on the escalator (which I don’t think has a different name in the US, like lifts and elevators) up to the menswear department. As I was heading towards the Armani section (which I’d decided was probably Dan’s brand of choice) I could see that something was going on. Something quite swanky, in fact, because there was a big catwalk set up and there was music on and disco lights and everything. In fact the whole section of the floor was roped off.

There was a big black dude with a radio and sunglasses and I went up to him to ask what was going on. But before I could get a word out he said: “Ticket?” and I said “no, I’m just here for some Armani pants.” So he said “Ticket?” And I said “No, no ticket.” And then he said: “Alright love, in you go.” I had no idea why he called me love, but I wasn’t about to quibble over it because he was built like a brick proverbial.

Anyway, it turned out that I’d just accidentally blagged my way into the launch of the new Armani men’s underwear collection. I couldn’t believe it. The only disappointment was that there weren’t that many girls around. I’d have thought there would be loads of girls at something like that, but it was mostly us chaps. I soon learned that, had I got there earlier, I would have seen none other than Mr Posh Spice himself, fresh from spraying the balls all over the park at Wembley. Apparently David Beckham had been there!

I once got mistaken for David Beckham when I was in Tiananmen Square, but I’ll tell you about that another time. Also, one day I’ll tell you about the Singaporean policeman who sat outside my hotel room for five days before asking me out.

Anyway, there were young guys walking up and down the catwalk in these little pink briefs and then I saw someone right at the front, taking pictures. And who should it be but none other than Dan Bantam. Not looking too sick, either. I might add. So I stood on tiptoe and waved and shouted “Hey, Dan, Hi, it’s me Barry, from the interview. I’ve come to get your pants.”

Well, you should have seen him. He nearly leapt out of his skin. He ran over to me and frogmarched me out of the special roped off bit, down the escalator and into the street. There I was on the street, in a flash. And then we had a weird conversational exchange.

DB: Right, what do you want?
BN Um, nothing. I just came to buy some pants for the interview.
DB Did you fucking follow me?
BN What? No, of course not. I didn’t know you were here. I thought you were at home, sick.
DB So now you know I’m here, what are you going to do?
BN Nothing, what do you mean?
DB Do you want something from me? What are you going to do?
BN Could you tell me which pants you like, only I want to get a bit of a head start on the others. I’ll tell you the truth: me and Richard, we know each other from before and I don’t want him to get this job.
DB So you want the job, that’s it?
BN Well, yeah, of course. That’s why I’m here.
DB To blackmail me?
BN No, to buy you some pants.
DB Are you going to tell everyone I’m gay?
BN Are you gay?
DB What?
BN What?
DB Well?
BN Um, are you gay?
DB Is that what you’re going to tell everyone?
BN What about your wife?
DB What are you going to do about it?
BN Nothing. My cousin Geoff is gay. I’m fine with it. And he’s a nice guy. Although he went through a rough patch when he was suffering from Sudden Death Syndrome like that footballer, but he’s ok now.
DB Did I say I was gay? Do I care about cousin fucking Geoff?
BN I don’t know.
DB Are you homophobic?
BN No, no, not at all. I tried to think gay thoughts when I was a teenager [as you’ll remember readers, from my post ‘confirmed bachelors’] but it just didn’t take.
DB So what do you want?
BN Look, what I really want is to just go home, really. Can you let go of my arm, please?
DB Alright, alright, you win. I’ll see you tomorrow.

At this point he let go of my arm and, not for the first time in my experience of Selfridges, readers, I beat the hastiest retreat my legs would allow. What a fucking nut bag. I had to go home and have a few cans of Cobra. And do you know what the worst of it was? I still didn’t have any pants for Dan. Jeez. Not that he deserved them anyway.

Still, I’m not the kind of guy that’s about to be diverted from my course like that. I like to see things through. That’s something that Mum taught be; that and never to try and wee standing up right after you’ve had sex. She was sick and tired of wiping the seat after Dad, she said. (Not sure if that applies to blokes who’ve been circumcised as well, maybe that’s just us ‘Skinners.)

So this morning I packed my Rocha John Rocha pants into a bag and set off for the interview. I don’t mind telling you I was pretty worried about Dan being there, but I figured he wouldn’t do anything mad in front of all the others.

So you can imagine how shocked I was when I got there to find that none of the others had turned up. I was shown into the meeting room and the only person there was Dan, who was drinking one of his body-building Horlicks drinks. It was squeaky bum time, and no mistake. We had another one of our trademark weird conversational exchanges:

DB Sit down, please, Barry.
BN Thanks. How are you feeling this morning?
DB I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?
BN Um, no reason.
DB The job’s yours.
BN What, just like that? Don’t you need these?
DB Put those bloody things away. You’ve got what you wanted, so stop messing me around, ok?
BN Ok. Listen, if you ever want to talk…
DB Just shut. The. Fuck. Up. Ok?
BN Ok.
DB You say anything, to anyone, and I will make your life a misery. Understand?
BN About last night, you mean?
DB For fucks sake, Barry, the job’s yours. Cut out the song and dance.

And then he left the room. So there you have it. I’ve got a job.

I start Monday.

Over and out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thong th-thong thong thong


Bit of a strange one today, readers. I’d decided to go straight down the middle with the pants thing, and I’m not talking about thongs. Blokes don’t really look good in thongs. I’m not even sure they’re that great on girls any more. They were a while back, when there was an explosion of them, and we used to go “g-spotting’ which was when you could see them disappearing down below the waistband of girls’ skirts or trousers. And in those days when your lady friend was wearing a thong it was a special occasion, if you know what I mean. Happy days – with happy endings!! But like anything, too much can be boring.


Anyway, I digress. So I’d decided that I was going to get Dan’s pants from the Designers at Debenhams section. It really is the best of both worlds. You get posh looking pants with the branded waistbands and everything, but they’re cheaper because they’re not your Calvins or your Hugos or your Paul Smiths. I’d bought a two-pack of Rocha by John Rocha lycra trunks, which I thought would be right up Dan’s street, and I figured my combination of quality product and budget management would be sure to win me the post.


I was even quite excited about it, I’ll admit. But when I got to the office for the interview, Susie was waiting and she told me that Dan had phoned in sick. Apparently it’s happening quite a bit at the moment, she said. Probably because of the emotional trauma of losing his wife. (For anyone who hasn’t been following, his wife isn’t dead – lol – she just did one.)


So we’ve got to go back tomorrow. Anyway, I was planning to be out on the celebratory drinks having seen off Richard the Turd (alol) so now I’m at a bit of a loose end.


L8ers

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Budgie Smugglers

Life is full of strange twists and turns. It's almost as though someone is watching over me, making things happen. Sometimes I feel like that character, I've forgotten his name now, in that Jim Carrey film the Truman Show, god I feel like that could be me sometimes. Do you ever feel like that?

Today was the day of my second interview for that job as a sales executive on a personnnel magazine. I've decided against mentioning the name of the magazine here, because you hear about people losing their jobs and stuff when they write stuff in personal blogs about work and, even though technically it's not my job yet, I don't want to get fired before I've even started.

Although, I tell you what, I think I might really have my work cut out if I want this job. Not surprisingly I am not the only candidate for the position. I had arrived at 9am on the dot and was shown into an impressive looking boardroom. Already sitting around the table were about ten or so other people all suited and booted.

'Here we go Barry, Dan's got the team in to give me a grilling,' I thought.

I scanned the room, all my Citizen Journalism experience has given me the ability to quickly weigh up situations and act, rather than react, accordingly. There were a couple of blonde girls chatting, quite tasty they were, but you could hear from their estuary accents, they were thick as two short planks. There was a fairly prim looking girl, she was well turned out, but there was something about her mannerisms that reminded me of a sparrow and then this massively overweight lady in a flowery blouse. There was a older chap with a mustard coloured buttoned-down shirt, he had a MASSIVE knot in his tie, and he was talking with youngish chap who had the look of a simpleton about him, the younger fellow was holding a glass of water which was shaking visibly, poor lad was wracked with nerves.

Then, sitting over on the other side of the room was the face of man I knew. The face of a man I had come to hate. It was Richard, my nemesis from Blockbusters.

"Hello Barry," he said smiling, "small world."

All the seats were taken, so I was forced into sitting next to him. It took all my powers of meditation not to smack his smug looking mug a slap across the chops.

"I see Blockbusters is shutdown," I said (one nil to Newsdesk) ,"I suppose you were sacked because of all that stuff with Leigh and Amber?"
"Not at all Barry. I took voluntary redundancy as it goes. I could see that things are changing in the world of home entertainment. Internet downloads and IPTV will make the high street rental outlet a thing of the past. I'd taken it as far as I could take it. I got a nice little pay out actually, before head office closed things down. It was great, I used a bit of the cash to go on a holiday. Amber and myself went to Thailand for a couple of weeks."

Before I could say anthing, the door swung open and Dan Bantam, the guy who'd interviewed me before, walked in. He was with with the tasty lass who's called him Popeye and this other bloke who I swear on my Mum's grave (and regular readers know how much I love my Mum) that he was half-pig (no offence Mr Coleman - this guy had a snout right bang in the middle of his fat, pasty, porcine face).

"Ladies. Gentleman," said Bantam, "welcome to the interview from hell."

It was all very dramatic. No one said a word. The only noise came from Bantam slurping greedily at his protein shake. He put down the container when he'd finished it off then explained that for the next two weeks we'd be competing against each other for the post of full time salaried sales executive.

"It won't be easy," he said "I'm going to split you into two teams and give you a series of challenges and at the end of every challenge, I'll bring you back into the boardroom and after I've had a full debrief from my assisstants and given you the opportunity to present your case for employment, I'll fire one of you."

Bantam then split the teams down into Boys v Girls. Colin, the bloke who looks like a pig, introduced himself as the girl's team mentor, while the tasty bird Susie said she'd be "taking care of the boys".

We were presented with the first challenge scenario: "As some of you may know, my wife Clare recently left me. As such, I've decided that I need a complete overhaul of my entire underwear collection. I want you to go out onto the streets of London and find me the most exciting, enticing pants on the market. I want you to come up with a full week's worth of unique briefs, boxers and or jockey shorts. I want to look as sharp in my smalls as I do in my Armani suit. By close of play tomorrow, you'll be putting on a fashion show here in the boardroom, selling me the concept of your underwear collection."

And with that, Bantam walked out. Susie took us all back upstairs and showed the boys team into another room, "I've got a company card," she said, "so I'll be taking care of purchasing the merchandise. You guys need to come up with a team name, and then a concept for Dan's summer season of underwear."

I wasn't going to offer myself up as the project manager, I've seen too many episodes of the Apprentice to know that the first challenge project manager always gets the boot. Thankfully, the younger gormless looking bloke, Alan, said he'd give it a go. We spent the best part of the morning coming up with a team name. We wanted something that really summed up Dan and the challenge ahead of us. In the end we settled on The Budgie Smugglers. Which I only really said as a joke, because that was the name me and Gill used in pub-quizes, but the other guys seemed to think it was hilarious.

Susie said we had a budget of £500. I thought that was ridiculous, you can get five pairs of perfectly acceptable briefs from M&S for £15. We could get ten for £30, that's enough pants to last years. Why would anyone want to spend more? I was fighting a losing battle on price. But I've seen the Apprentice more than enough to know, when the project manager spunks his entire budget on the challenge he usually gets booted off.

So then I got smart, I just encouraged Alan to start finding all the most expensive pants he could on Oxford Street. Richard saw what I was up to and started encouraging him as well. After a successful morning of buying a range of £30 Armani and £25 Hugo Boss pants we decided to get ourselves some lunch. Susie took us to this fancy pub and said that since this was a business meeting we'd "claim it on the firm" while waving the company plastic about.

To be honest, we had quite a good afternoon of planning for tomorrow's fashion show, in the end I left them all to it. I thought I'd get myself home for the England game. I almost got the result of the last one spot one, so I'll stick my neck out and say 7-0 to England tonight!

x

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Democracy is not dead

I feel a bit like David Dimbleby presiding over a general election. "Here I am at the BBC and my swing-o-meter has almost landslided off the scale!" Is the sort of thing he might say if he were covering the least hotly contest poll that the Barry Newsdesk website has ever seen.

It was way back in the early days of Newsdesk - March 3rd - that I introduced the reader poll. I introduced it during a slow news day as a tool for UGC-based news items. Inpsired by the Walkers challenge to find the nation's favourite new flavour of crisp, I asked the blogosphere what its favourite type of crisp was. I supplied a wide range of crisp types and one crisp type stood head and hideous shoulders above the rest. Monster Munch romped home.

Recently, though, the results of the longest running poll ever conducted on Barry Newsdesk came in - coinciding with the recent European elections (where, as I predicted based upon the professionalism of their flyers, the Conservatives did quite well).

The latest Newsdesk poll was a far more hard hitting afair, I decided to ask the world what it thought the best form of political system was.

Before I get onto announcing the winner though, here are a few thoughts on the recent European elections. A lot of people were annoyed by the fact that UKIP came in second and the BNP won two seats in the European Parliament. But maybe they shouldn't be too annoyed, maybe they need to look at the political system we have in place in this country. Giving everyone a vote is clearly madness if you're going to rely on democracy!

But a whopping 74 per cent of Newsdesk voters were in favour of democracy as the best form of rule. Those people have no real right to be pissed off with the outcome of the European elections. We live in a democratic society and unfortunately, since this country is populated by a good number of total fuckwits, you've sometimes got to put up with disagreeable twats getting voted in.

In fact.....it seems you've always got to put up with disagreeable twats getting voted in. I guess it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise that democracy was voted in on Newsdesk's PoliticoPoll. Voter apathy was blamed for the fact that the BNP and UKIP did well. (As the proportional representation system enables extremists a greater share of the voice.) I suppose the people least likely to be apathetic towards voting are going to be the people who believe democracy is the best form of rule, hence democracy romped it home.

Maybe next time I run a poll on political reform, I'll use the proportional representation system of counting votes.

Anarchy got one vote. Which, when you consider what anarchy stands for, is a surprisingly high turn out. It wasn't a high enough turn out to push anarchy out of last place though. But there's a small part of me that suspects the anarchists are pretty chuffed with that position.

The three totalitarian options I put forward, communism, fascism and monarchy, came joint second. And also joint second last, with two votes a piece. Which is pretty fair, as they seem to cancel each other out.

I've got to go now readers, I've got that second job interview tomorrow.

Fingers crossed.
xxx

Monday, June 8, 2009

NOT IN MY NAME!!!

When I read the Metro this morning, I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. Sometimes things happen in this country that make you wish you didn't live here. I used to write to the BBC's Have Your Say whenever I felt truly outraged, but then someone sent me a link to a website that basically lampoons people who write into the BBC. So I decided that discrection would be the better part of valour.

The thing is, the people of Britain have a God given right to write into the BBC. Even if, and I want to make this perfectly plain, even if they a) don't believe in God and b) are not British. So if you're too scared to write to the BBC, feel free to vent your spleen here on Barry Newsdesk. You can be sure of a warm hand on your entry.

What I saw in the Metro beggared belief. It made me feel physically and mentally sick. I felt brain raped. Morally. I've not felt this ill since I saw the ropey ginger one out of the spice girls parading about in the Union Jack.

I know that people are generally sick of the state of things here in Britain, but what happened last night and was reported this morning is indefensible.


"NOT IN MY NAME!!!" I cry.

I sat and watched powerless as the reult was bestowed upon us. Powerless, just like every other licence paying BBC viewer on this sceptered isle. Impotent I was. And not just because I'd had the best part of gallan of Cobra.

There he was smiling his slimey oily smile on national television, mocking every single last one of us.

"How can this man hold power?" I wondered. "What has he done to earn it except sit there preaching like the right wing dictator he so clearly is?"

I went onto Have Your Say to complain. But I just couldn't being myself.

What do you think readers, have the people of Britain been wronged?

Click on the link above and Have Your Say. But if you don't want a) your views swallowed into a mass of other almost identical views and thus never get read or b) your views to be lampooned on the very first link of this website, then go to the comments below and Have Your Say there instead.

Here's my beef:

When Sir Alan (the recently appointed Enterprise Champion, which in no way has anything whatsoever to do with him being given a Lordship) Sugar picked that sour-faced Yasmina instead of the totally gorgeous Kate, I almost spat out my Fray Bentos.

It's a bloody disgrace, that's what it is.

I was so gutted that I couldn't bring myself to read about the European elections. I do hope nothing bad happened.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jehovah, Jehovah

Last night I watched Evan Almighty on DVD (I got a copy off a Chinese woman in the pub. I like to think that by supporting enterprising local entrepreneurs, I played a small part in getting Blockbusters on the High Street closed down) and this morning I was awoken by the sound of thunder.

"It's the flood," I thought, "maybe it's a sign from God."

It's stopped raining now, so I'm almost 100 per cent sure the world is not about to be engulfed by a Biblical flood. Still, it is Sunday morning and I'm feeling kind of spiritual. It's been a fair old while since I started my quest to discover whether there is a God ot not. As regular readers will know, I have yet to fully complete the quest. I've investigated Voodoo, Islam, Christianty, Scientology, Astrology and Judaism. And I wasn't able to come up with any kind of concrete proof that there is a God.

Yesterday, though, I got a comment from my good friend, the retired school master Mr Coleman that was so lovely that it really made me think that, like Annie Lennox, there must be an angel playing with my heart.

I'm blessed readers, and not just because of of my brilliant blogging skills. No, I'm blessed with a gift far greater than wonderful blogs, I'm blessed with the gift of friendship. I'm turning all mushy, like a pot of peas at Goose Fair.

If you can't be arsed, or simply haven't got the time to read Mr C's comment, it turns out that he's got a dodgy ticker and reading about the harrowing nature of my life has made him realise how lucky he is. But there was something else about the comment that made me think of God. He's having surgury soon and they're going to use a pig's heart valve.

Clearly, then, Mr Coleman is not a Jehovah's Witness (or as my good friend Dave, the roofer, calls them, a Bon Jovi's Witness). The Jehovah's Witnesses are a funny old bunch, they're basically really hard core Christians that believe that the world is about to end and only they'll be allowed up into Heaven.

To be honest, it's standard religious fayre isn't it? If you're not part of the club, you won't get into Heaven. But what if they're right??

Well, I know who won't be going to Heaven if they're right, thanks to having the heart of a swine. That's right. It's Mr Coleman. The Jehovah's Witnesses think that by tinkering with anatomy you're basically trying to 'play God' and as such you should not be allowed into Heaven!!

Well, I tell you what, that sounds pretty darned messed up, if anyone deserves to go to Heaven then it's Mr Coleman (that said, I'm sure that you've got years ahead of you!!).

The thing is, that means I think they're wrong. But the mother of my old school friend Steve up in Lincoln became a Jehovah's Witness a few years ago, and she's a really nice lady. So I hope if there is a God he won't hold her beliefs against her, unless she's right, in which case I hope God will spare a thought for Mr Coleman and not throw is soul into Hell for all eternity.

Maybe you should get a mechanical valve Mr Coleman. Then you'd be a cyborg!! COOL BEANS.

You could start The Bionic Blog. I'd definitely become a follower and I bet Mess would too.

I guess that's the end of today's sermon.

Live long and prosper.

Barry
x

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Good times, bad times

I'm going to deliver today's posting as a shit sandwich readers. Sounds horrid doesn't it? But it's actually a bone fide business technique used by middle managers carrying out appraisals. Anyone who is anyone that's worked in a busy office will be familiar with the shit sandwich.

Imagine you're a middle manager and one of your staff hasn't been performing as well as they should (or as well as you'd hope (or as well as your boss would hope)), it's appraisal time and you haven't really got the balls to tell them to buck their ideas up. You give them a shit sandwich. Sometimes literally.

It's a method of delivering something deeply unpalatable by sugar coating it between two pieces of relatively good news.

First up, some good news. I'd like to extend a warm and friendly Newsdesk welcome to my two latest followers. First up is Tennyson ee Hemingway. It's a funny name, steeped in literary reference, for a funny fella. His blog, Andy Warhol Goes Shopping, has nine followers at the time of writing. I'm sure that figure will sky-rocket if he keeps going around following other blogs and writing nice things about them (mine certainly did ;-)

Tennyson left a lovely comment on my last post: "Over here from Mr London Street and he's absolutely right. How you only have 18 follower is beyond me. Well, now you have 19."

I did when you left the comment Tennyson , but before I could post an anti-war piece heavily influenced by the musings of Paul Hardcastle, up popped my first Kiwi follower, Megan Rose, whose excellent blog, Frou Frou Frippery, has NNNNNNNN ,NNNNNN 19 followers (now that I've joined). Maybe Megan can post something about all the things war is good for!

Absolutely nothin', say it again. Absolutely nothin.

Yeah.

I'm riffing now readers, riffin like a mo fo. But it's time to bring things back down to earth. It's time for the SHIT brother.

I got a text this morning from my best friend Dave, the roofer, asking me to meet up for the England game. Now, Dave's a big man, but he's out of shape, that said I didn't fancy meeting after the last text exchange we'd had. I'm a pacifist and sometimes with Dave, especially when England are playing, he likes a drink and a bit of ruck. So I texted him back and said I was feeling a bit fluey, was it something important?

Now, I assumed that he had confronted Gill about the pregnancy and she's told him about her plans for a "ternimation" [sic]. I expected Dave, the roofer, wanted to drown his sorrows and, quite possibly, create some sorrows for yours truly.

I was wrong. Dave texted back and said he wanted to "wet the babies head".

Jesus, the man's grammar is abysmal and here he is about to bring a child into the world. A child with my ex! Seems Gill has had a change of heart. She's no spring chicken and when they reach a certain age, they sometimes loose all concept of reality, don't they? Anyway, she is now (rather selfishly in my opinion, having the kid). It really got me down, there I was expecting us to get back on the straight and narrow, I was even thinking of getting her to move in, I mean it would have really helped with the mortgage, and that was that, my plans are out of the window thanks to her lack of control and bloody hormones.

Women.

Right, well I knew it would get be down writing about it, so I thought I'd bring the mood back up with some good news - and in truth it's a really double whammy. I got a letter on the doorstep today from that publishing house that has the interview with, they've already decided that they want to bring me in for a second interview. Brilliant eh? I guess I've still got what it takes for sales. In a way it's a bit of a shame, becasue I've really started to get somewhere with Citizen Journalism, with all my cool new followers, but now Gill's not moving back in, I suppose I've got to face up to reality and start bringing home the bacon.

The really cool part, though, is that on my way to the paper shop this morning, I noticed that Blockbusters on the High Street has been shut down! Ha, so this is for you Richard, Leigh and Amber! UP YOURS, I didn't need your stupid job anyway!

'KK, think I might crack open a Cobra and get myself ready for the big England game.

I'm a little wary of making ppublic predictions, especially after my Champions League debacle, but I sense a 3-0 win for Capello's Lions.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Back to the grindstone


Bad news, readers: I don’t think I’m going to be able to remain as a full time Citizen Journalist for very much longer. Truth be told, my money’s run out. And so has the bank’s money. I’m at the arse end of my overdraft and, if it wasn’t for Mum helping me out, I don’t know where I’d be. Still, like I said to her, at least this way we avoid inheritance tax, right?

Why should The Man take all of her hard earned money? It’s so out of order. I’m going to suggest she signs the house over to me this year. I know it’s grim to think of her passing like this, but we’ve got to be practical, no one lives forever. There are two things certain in life, death and taxes. We might as well try and limit the latter for those that have yet to meet the former!

I think Mum agrees with me. It got me thinking, too; there’s no need for her to be rattling around in that big old place all by herself anyway. Much better that we sell it and give her some money to put down on a smaller place, somewhere better for a single lady of her years. A nice cosy little studio, maybe.

Anyway, that’s all in the future. The present, for old Newsdesk at least, is Skintsville. Population: ME!

So I’m afraid I’m going back to the old sales game, I’ve no choice. I’m not selling out, I’m selling ads! But there is an upside: I’m looking for work on magazines, which will put me in a position where I’m able to move sideways into the editorial team. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. These kind of outfits are generally smaller and people all work together, so I bet the editorial team will love to hear about suggestions from the sales guys. I’ve got loads of ideas.

In fact I even had my first interview today, for a sales manager position on a personnel magazine. The publisher was a guy called Dan Bantam and, I’ll be honest with you, it was a strange old interview. Usually with sales interviews you have to talk for ages about yourself and all your achievements. I was worried, frankly, in case I got grilled over what I’ve been doing since I got made redundant, so I cooked up an excuse about travelling to the Middle East to make a documentary.

I know, I know, it’s unlikely to the point of fantasy. It sounds and reads like complete bullshit. But the last thing I did before I left the house was watch the news, and that was all I could think of. Fortunately, after a bit of a panicky moment, I didn’t have to use it. Good job too, because it would probably have made me look like a complete dickhead.

No, instead of being asked a load of stuff about myself, all I really had to do was sit there and listen to this Bantam bloke talk a bit about the company and (mostly) about himself. The whole time, as well, he was drinking from this massive tupperware beaker of what looked like Horlicks. Towards what I thought was the end of the interview he asked if I had any questions. So I said: “Sure: What’s with the Horlicks?”

I shouldn’t have asked: The interview ended up lasting for another 35 minutes. I’ll get to that later, though.

It turns out that Bantam is new on the singles scene since his wife did a runner a while back. This surprised me because, at the beginning of the interview, I assumed he was gay. He just looked and sounded gay, always going up at the end of sentences and stuff. And he clearly had dyed hair. Still, that’ll teach me to judge a book by its cover. I stand corrected.

He was obsessed with clothes, as well. One of the first questions he asked me was where I got my blazer, and I told him about my mate who works at a tailor, and got me one on the cheap. He said he approved of bespoke tailoring, and that he gets all his made in the Far East. But he keeps having to phone them up to get them taken in at the waist. Perhaps he’s developed an eating disorder, I thought, and this is a cry for help.

Then he said he has to get them made bigger in the chest and I thought, Christ, he’s got some sort of hormonal imbalance and he’s growing boobs like Meatloaf in Fight Club. But it turns out it’s because he works out so much, he said. If I worked out so much that I grew boobs, though, I think I’d stop working out.

Anyway, just as I feared, the dreaded question came up: “So what have you been doing for the past six months or so?” I took a deep breath and said: “Well…”

Then before I could answer, he said:

“Because I’ll be honest, it’s been an interesting few months for me. Well, not so much interesting as difficult. It’s been pretty bad, really. A nightmare. My wife left me at the start of the year and it’s just been a complete nightmare. I’m kind of seeing people but not seeing them if you know what I mean? Like I don’t want to get into anything too deep? But you know you’ve got to get out there I guess, and there’s so many girls out there, and I just know I’ll find one that’s willing to take things as seriously as I take them?”

I said: “Right, yeah.”

“I don’t know, though, I’m so wary of getting close to someone? Because Clare, my wife, well my ex-wife, although we’re not actually divorced yet. But it won’t be long, although the solicitors fees are really high, and I don’t feel like I should have to pay them because it wasn’t me that left her? But anyway Clare – it’s like she never really talked to me? We never really knew each other and we lived together all those years. And even though I bought the car, we got a Z4, it’s beautiful, but even though I bought it she wants half? I don’t know, I guess you never really know anyone else, do you.”

“I said: “No, I guess not.”

Anyway, he went on like this for a full 25 minutes and I didn’t really know what to do. So when I eventually asked him about the Horlicks, he got really excited because apparently it’s some sort of body building supplement and he loves talking about going to the gym. I was able to tell him about my Judo, which got us pretty chummy, although he doesn’t do any contact sport, he said, because he’s worried about his face. So once we’d been through all of that, he gave me a copy of the mag and said he’d be in touch and that was that.

On the way out I was shown out by this tasty lass who said to me:

“Don’t worry about Popeye, he’s always like that.”

I think they’re all mad. I’ll fit right in!! Alol!!! (A new one, readers: it means Actually Laughing out Loud). Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A little bit more politics

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I revealed that the BNP had used stock Internet photos on their party flyers because they clearly couldn't find any supporters willing to lend their faces to the campaign, and that the UK Independence Party used pictures of a non-UKIP Winnie Churchill on their flyer. Then a day later I was mailed the Liberal Democrat's slightly more honest, but uninteresting, party pamphlet.

Q: Why were they choosing now to bombard me with junk mail when they'd done cock all for me all year?
A: Tomorrow's European elections of course.

For my American and Canadian readers I think I'd better give you a bit of context. A number of years ago Germany and France got together with a number of the smaller European nations and formed club called the European Economic Community. It was major step forward, throughout history European nations have been at each other's throats almost constantly and here they were agreeing that they needed to cooperate for the greater good, and to protect themselves against America and the USSR. But mainly America.

It took Britain a few years before they were cajoled into joining. The people of Britain have long had a bit of beef with the EEC, thanks largely to the fact that our taxes subsidise French farmers. The French farmers are so heavily subsidised that they've been able to form actual lakes out of wine and mountains out of butter. It sounds as though Willy Wonka was the French minister for agriculture!! lol

Fast forward to now, and pretty much every man and his dog calling himself a country has signed up to receive our handouts. Not only that but the Europeans all now use the same money. Money, which thanks Gordon Brown and his cronies, is now worth the same as the good old fashion pound! Making us the laughing stock of Europe and making holidays to the Costa del Sol that bit more expensive.

Brown has been literally shitting his pants lately because the Labour Party promised to have a referendum on whether or not to start using that money. Which pretty much would indicate whether we, the people of Britain, want to stay in Europe. The thing is, we don't. He knows this and so won't have a referendum or indeed call a general election.

Unfortunately, for Brown, the EEC (which is now called the European Union) also holds elections. So the people of Britain will be able to (ironically) use Europe to demonstrate their displeasure with the current ruling party. However, these European elections aren't the big jazzy numbers like the one Barack Obama won. They're low-key affairs contested by people you've never heard of, who have little to no influence.

They are, to all intents and purposes, the political equivalents of the bands that enter the Eurovision song contest. Presumably all the Nordic countries vote for each other's policies and the former soviet bloc countries all vote for each other (even though they'd like to kill each other). Greece doesn't vote for Turkey (because Muslim Turkey has not yet been allowed into the EU) and no one votes for the UK.

Nil points.

In the interest of fair play, and because I've already mentioned the BNP, UKIP and the Lib Dems, here's the Newsdesk appraisal of the other party flyers than dropped onto my doormat over the past week.

The Conservatives: Everyone's 'hot' tip to take over from Labour at the next general election, their flyer is suitably polished and professional looking. That's becasue Tories (that a British word for Republicans) are loaded and probably got a professional PR firm to knock their's up. It features a picture of their leader, David Cameron, who looks every inch the Eaton toff that he is. I want to remain fairly unbiased here on the blog, but I really have to say Cameron has a face you could punch. Several times. Alongside the word Conservatives (in blue ink) is a picture of a tree (green ink) to symbolise how 'environmentally aware' the toffs are. A frankly transparent attempt to win over well-off greens and liberals who have had enough of Brown. It might well work, because most people are credulous morons.

Also 'playing the green card' are the UK's incumbent party. Labour. They've gone one better and got a Forestry Stewardship Council logo on their flyer. It's a tree and shows that their flyer, like their policies, are recycled. I think it's fair to say that the only thing sustainable about the Labour party, is their flyer. The chap standing for European Parliament looks about 25 and is a teacher. Which, frankly, says it all. Teachers are almost all lefties (can you confirm that Mr Coleman?). Except head teachers. Which, once again, says it all.

Another party shamelessly banging on about their green credentials are the Green Patry. Who do they think they're kidding? Their flyer isn't even on FSC paper. On the front is a picture of an attractive Afro-Carribean lady and a dowdy looking middle aged white woman wearing a cardigan. Can you guess who the candidate is? GET THIS THOUGH, she's actually my local European member of parliament. It says on the flyer just one in ten votes for Green will ensure she is re-elected...how? How does that work in a democracy that she only needs to secure 10 per cent of the vote in order to be re-elected? It's something called proportional representational voting, and basically means if you get enough votes you'll get at least one candidate in.

I quite like the Greens, don't get me wrong, they're just a bunch of well-meaning hippies. As long as they keep themselves to themselves they're OK. But green politics will not help reverse the credit crunch will they? They'll just get everyone riding around on bikes (which are a menace) and separating their rubbish (which is pointless because everyone knows it all gets shipped off to China and thrown into landfill). If the state of today's Europe is as a result of already having a Green MEP, then maybe the smarmy Tories are right, maybe it is time for a change.

So that leaves me with one last flyer. This flyer argues that a vote for them is a vote for "honesty and integrity in politics" so far, so good. They ask, "are you concerned about the far right gaining seats in Europe?" Well, yes I am as it goes. Even though their flyers are crap, the BNP and UKIP are gaing a lot of traction at the moment. So, and this is their big campaign idea kids, if we want to avoid having the BNP we should vote for The Christian Party.

Ridiculous. Who in their right mind would vote in a bunch of Bible Bashers? And surely, their campaign strategy should revolve around voting for the Christian Party because you believe in the teachings of Christ, not becasue you don't want the BNP. I'm not sure who the campaign is targeted at to be honest. I have a strong suspician that the Christian Party will lose its deposit if that's the best idea for a campaign they can come up with. There's nothing whatsoever about transport, education, policing, the economy, there's even nothing about Christ for Christ's sake.

So, there you go. A while back I considered my options in terms of joining a political party and becoming a pro-MP. But having had a good long look at all their junk mail propaganda, I can safely say I won't bother. I won't even bother voting. I think I might just stay in tomorrow and play Pro Evolution Soccer.

And that's the end of today's party political blogcast.

Newsdesk out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

18+ Porn Star

Looks like my blooger outreach programme has paid dividends readers. Barry's Theory of Followization has rattled up the Newsdesk follower number to 18.

It was Just 17 yesterday, I was going to post about it, but then I was overcome by a tsunami of news. Tide and time, and news tsunamis, wait for no man. It's almost a pity that I've got 18 followers, I was going to post the headline Just 17 - which almost certainly would have brought in a few extra readers thanks to something called Search Engine Optimization.

The Internet is crawled by huge virtual spiders, apparently. When someone types something into Google a huge spider crawls the Web (geddit?!) and finds Web pages featuring the searched term. I wrote about this when I mentioned that loads of people have been coming to the site becasue of Mess's warning about Wu Travel.

Anyway, by posting a headline Just 17. I was almost certainly guaranteed to pick up what Web afficianados called 'traffic'. That's hit to you and me!

Another way of driving traffic is to include links to other sites and hope that your site gets mentioned as much as possible on other sites. So, if you're reading this, how about doing Barry a small favour and posting about it on your site?

When I had 17 followers, I was going to pontificate about the Beatles song, I Saw Her Standing There. Which opens with the immortal lines "well she was just 17, you know what I mean?" which if Garry Glitter covered it (the song) he'd probably get locked up. Again.

So, on reflection, maybe I would have gotten some undesirable types stopping by, rather than fans of the Fab Four. I guess it's just just as well that Bambi joined the Newsdesk fold pushing me up to the far more innocuous number 18.

Bambi is not a cartoon deer or a porn star*, but with a name like that, you could be confused for thinking she is. She's not though. She's a perfectly respectable American mum, whose blog A Day in the Life is coidcidentally a Beatles song!!

What are the chances of two Beatles songs appearing on the blog?

*porn star is a perfect example of the right type of phrase to use if you want your blog to be picked up by perverts Googling about.

At the time of blogging, Bambi has 39 followers, one of whom is called 18+.

Again, what are the chances?!

It's like that telly programme Lost isn't it. Where the plane crashes in mid-air and disappears. Not unlike that plane that recently crashed in mid-air and disappeared.

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?

Well, famously it's more likely that you'll be kicked to death by a donkey than die in a plane crash. Which will be little comfort to the families of 228 people who sadly perished on flight Air France 447. That's news, readers, right there.

Getting in just before Bambi (as it were) was Apple4Tammy whose blog Tammy's Tale: A weight loss journey chronicles her battle with the bulge. I don't know whether her blogger name is a reference to her profession (teacher) or her possible dietary regime. What I do know is that like Pamela Anderson, Tammy is from Canada.

Listen to me Tammy, YOU LOOK GREAT and you know that if Pammy didn't have her curves she wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as she is. So I'm pleading with you here on the Internet, don't do anything stupid and lose too much weight.

Men like a bit of meat on the bone. It's a fact - you've only got to read the excellent blog of another one of my recent followers and commenter Mr London Street. He's a prolific blogger and has 55 followers (at the time of writing) even though he's from Reading. He's keen on smut apparently, so would probably be the sort of person driven to blogs that included regular mentions of PORN STAR.

(You see readers, by writing porn star over and over again, I'm bound to ramp up traffic. Although, not the blind. I wonder what the blind do for porn? Do they have porn braille?...I might well have hit upon an amazing invention there - I might see if Dragon's Den are interested.)

As well as Mr London Street (whose best friend is also called Dave....this posting is bit like the Twilight Zone), I'm now also being followed by Da Kat's Blog. She's only got two followers (including me), news which I'm sure will brighten the day of young Mess! (Her other follower is called Aniram Selwonk - which sounds like one of Mr Coleman's anagrams!)

Last, but my no means least, is Mo Snakeskin, his most recent post is titled I Could be a Porn Star. Which is clearly nothing more than a cunning ruse to drive traffic to his site. Still, at the time of writing he has 100 followers. So he must know a thing or two about Search Engine Optimization.

Porn star.

Right, think the old Fray Bentos should be done, I found one of Dave the roofer's Ron Jeremy videos earlier, think I'll pop it on.