Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A postcard from Australia

G'day readers and fair dinkum to you all. First up, I need to apologise for my lack of posting over the previous week. The thing is, I'm outback and upcountry helping Dippy save the duck-billed platypusses of the Oxley River north of Wollumbin Park.

It's kind of ironical that in my last post I complained that if my broadband access went down, I would't suddenly find an army of do-gooder platypusses campaigning for better living conditions for the Newsdesk. And now here I am under a baking southern sun, saving the the little freaks of nature without even the most basic of internet connections. I guess the platypus just doesn't really care about the web.

I've found myself in a fairly isolated part of the world. I feel a bit like Leonardo di Caprio in the Beach. Dippy and myself made the long drive to Lismore yesterday to pick up some much needed reserves. I've parked myself in an Internet cafe while she's off seeing a man about some mushrooms.

I checked out some of the news from back home and was tickled to see that Dave the roofer was absolutely spot on with his inside knowledge of Cheryl Cole upping and leaving her love rat footballer husband Ashley.

Speaking of Dave. I got an email from my Edmonton-based roofing friend that Gill finally gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. I wasn't really sure how I'd feel about the day when it finally arrived.

For those of you not familiar with the backstory, this time last year Gill Nelson and I were a serious long-term item. But things didn't really work out, for one reason or another. Then Gill found herself preggers after we'd spent a steamy weekend at Centre Parcs, but then Gill revealed that actually the baby was a result of a sordid one nighter with my friend and friend of the stars Dave the roofer.

The thing is, as anyone who reads this blog will testify, I am a forgiving man. Like George Harrison to Dave the roofer's Eric Clapton, I handed over my Pattie Boyd without so much as a fight. Which considering my mastery of Judo is bloody good news for Dave. I don't think Harrison had the advantage of being martially arted. I think he was probably just scared of Clapton, who was quite tasty with his fists after a night on the sauce.

Anyway, Gill gave birth last week. It was on Valentine's Day as a matter of fact, while I was making my reacquaintances with Dippy. I didn't know about this sweetness of ironic fate, as the email would sit unread for a week until I got to Lismore.

It's swings and roundabouts in the playground of l'amour. And no doubt it's sometimes slides. And climbing frames. Well, it was this once at Butlins in Skegness, I met a girl called Jane from Doncaster, she was as big as a house. I'd always been told that the fat ones are more appreciative. Jane wasn't though, she just laughed at my old feller. How was I supposed to perform in the face of ridicule. It wasn't my finest hour (it wasn't even my finest five minutes).

But when I read Dave's email and saw the picture, my heart melted. Childbirth is a grizzly business, I should imagine, but once they clean the little blighter up it probably seems a lot nicer. Apparently, women release some sort of hormone during birth that blocks their memory from the pain enabling them to go through the ordeal time after time. It must be the same hormone that makes them forget the times you've carried the shopping home after day-long marathon session down Oxford Street, yet remember the time (and always bring it up at dinner parties when you reach for the second bottle), that you once peed in the wardrobe after a session of different kind! lol ;-) only kidding ladies!!

Naturally, Dave wanted to name the boy after his own father, Dave, but Gill put her foot down and insisted that they name him after her father Richard. As a compromise Dave insisted that the boy's middle moniker be that of his long-standing, long-lost friend. That's right, yours truly.

Richard Barry, Dave the roofer's son, weighed in at 7llb 8oz and is fighting fit. I think I'm going to cry readers. Oh no, here comes Dippy with the drugs, I'd best be off. I'll try and log on again soon, but you might have to wait a few weeks....



ps. love you all

Friday, February 12, 2010

Going down (under)

I've been cast adrift for a while readers, well ever since just before Xmas anyway when my gorgeous Aussie princess Dippy left these shores to help save a colony of duck-billed platypusses.

She was due back to blighty around mid-Feb, but this morning I got an SMS from her explaining that thinks are bleak for the endangered marsupials.

Now, I'm all for animal welfare, but seriously, what about Newsdesk Welfare? I love animals as much as the next man. Apart from wasps, natch. But really, it is a bit confusing when people start putting animals ahead of their fellow man.

What's the point of being at the top of the food chain? I mean, do you seriously think that if the duck-billed platypus was in our position that they'd give a flying fuck about our homes. I lost broadband the other week, my life's been hell, I didn't see hordes of duck-billed platypusses camped outside the front door petitioning for my rights.

Thing is though, Dippy said she wasn't sure when exactly she would be coming back, if at all. She thinks that the animals of Australia are worth fighting for, even though most of them are highly venomous. And that includes the bloody duck-billed platypus.

Trouble is my heart often rules my head, I've bought a ticket to Oz readers. Call me reckless, call me what you will. I'm flying out tomorrow and I'm not sure when I'll be back. I've told Dan that he can have a month rent free in the flat if he covers for me at work.

Wish me well


ps. Thanks to all the amazing comments I've had lately, I love you all

Thursday, February 11, 2010

They think it’s all over

After my brief (and very successful) foray into the world of tabloid journalism. I was really looking forward to Zach Abrahams’ management training today. In fact, of all the classes in the programme, today’s was the one I was looking forward to most. The subject was Leadership and Building a Successful Team. Regular readers will know that I am a born leader, although a maverick one not unlike Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan, so I knew from the outset that I would excel in the class.

Also, Zach had given me the heads-up during our private tutorial coaching class this weekend. This weekend’s class was a very specific case study and involved watching and dissecting in real-time the Chelsea/Arsenal game from a management perspective.

I’d arrived at Zach’s and he was looking very casual, almost as though he wasn’t even expecting me. But that’s just his style. He’s a trained psychoanalyst and sometimes he likes to play mind games with his students.

At £300 per hour Zach’s classes represent great value. It was almost as though we were just watching and chatting about John Terry, Vanessa Paroncell, Cheryl Cole dumping Ashley Cole and football, but that’s the genius of the man. He utilizes his in-depth knowledge of the mind to take everyday scenarios and expand on deeply theoretical and seemingly intangible management philosophies.

As a life-long Notts Forest supporter I was schooled in the finer points of one Brian Clough. I think Zach was really impressed with my football management know-how. So much so that he tagged on a few games of Fifa 10 on his PS3 at only 50 per cent extra on his hourly rate.

Clough’s genius lay in his ability to take a group of players that other managers had pretty much written off as mediocre and turn them into world beaters. How did he do this? Well, first up he had a great number two in Peter Taylor. For many, Taylor was the talent spotter, while Clough was the motivator. Cough was never as successful without Taylor and on his own he made some shocking acquisitions. But in fairness Clough was the leader even back in the early days, he surrounded himself with a core group of loyal hard-working players, to this team he mixed in a couple of real gems. Peter Shilton was one of Clough’s first signings at Forest and broke the British transfer record for a goalkeeper, while Trevor Francis (whose autograph I still have!!) was football’s first £1 million pound player. I only wish the autograph I get at ASDA was worth a million quid lol ;-)) !!!!

The other part of Clough’s genius was that he achieved what he did over a 20 year period in an alcoholic haze. I’m not condoning an over-reliance on booze, but I’m quite partial to the odd Cobra myself and, well, my Pro Evo track record speaks for itself.

Though he never disgraced himself like John Terry did by Shagging husband of Cheryl Cole , Ashley Cole's cast-off Vanessa Paroncell, Clough’s world eventually came tumbling down of course, his last season at the helm of the Reds saw them get relegated and he resigned a broken and severely damaged man. I suppose that’s the thing with great leaders, they can’t lead forever and then people only really ever remember what they were like at the end. Adolf Hitler was a pretty popular chap when he was elected, things headed south after a while of course. He over-stepped the mark, so fair enough.

It’s funny really, when you think about leaders throughout history, the immediate ones that spring to mind all seem to have ended their stint at the top with an almighty fall, or at least to have gone down in the pages of the history books with certain aspects of their personality called into question.

Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, they’re all names that just roll off the tongue aren’t they? They’re iconic leaders one and all, but you probably wouldn’t want them in charge of your local Cub Scout Pack. That said, the Akela of our local Pack, Terry Street, had certain qualities that you would not associate with the ideal shaping of small minds. I didn’t last long in the Cub Scouts, it was far too military for me, all that marching up and down pledging allegiance to the Queen.

Baden Powell was famously a little right of centre in his views. I doubt whether someone taking it upon themselves today to organise a nationwide network of little boys dressed in uniform would go down too well.

The thing with heroic leaders, of course, is that the history books are written by the victors, so here in the UK we’ve got Wellington, Churchill and Thatcher all lined up on the righteous side of the fence and they weren’t exactly covered in glory were they? One of them is famous for inventing the rubber boot, one an alcoholic whose most famous incarnation is a wobbly-headed dog that promotes cheap insurance and the other one is, well, the least said about her the better.

Making judgement calls on whether leaders are heroes or villains is a fairly subjective business. It got me thinking, I wonder who would win in an international football match between the heroic British hero first 11 and an all star line up of foreign villains?

Well, before we can consider who would win, there is the selection headache to consider. I mean initially I thought I couldn’t include Maggie Thatcher in the British heroes team since under FIFA regulations she wouldn’t be able to compete against men. Although, people have often called into question the issue of Thatcher’s gender. But I think that’s largely a sexistism standpoint. Chelsea Berlin, for instance, is not a fancy restaurant in the German capital, (s)he is the great hope of British women’s international football at the moment, and she used to me a man!!! So why not the other way around?

I’ve seen Gregory’s Girl, there’s no real reason why women should not be allowed to compete against men. If that were the case Team GB would almost certainly have Queens Boudica and Victoria in the starting eleven, not to mention Elizabeths I and II – I imagine they’d form a Charltonsesque pairing. I’d keep Florence Nightingale in the dugout armed with a magic sponge, because once the cheating foreigners got stuck into the Brits, there’d almost be some unsavoury off-the-ball antics.

Churchill would be my team captain, I’d have Wellington in attack along with Horatio Nelson. I’d probably have Oliver Cromwell marshalling events from the centre of the park, and I’d put Henry VIII in goal to keep him away from the women.

My opposite number would be spoilt for choice in terms of foreign villains, but that’s always going to be the case, they’re got real strength in depth. Here are the first eleven names that spring to mind – maybe you’ve got some other suggestions?

1. 1.Khan,

2. 2.Bonaparte

3. 3. Zedong

4. 4.Stalin

5. 5. Mussolini

6. 6. Hitler

7. 7.Bin Laden

8. 8.Khomeini

9. 9Jong-il

10. Franco

11. Milosevic

They look like a pretty tasty outfit, but I’m pretty confident that Team GB would come out on top. I know that might sound like the usual patriotic nonsense, after all the foreigner have got some real fire power. The thing is they’d probably all want to play in attack and that’d leave some gaping holes at the back. With the possible exception of Bin Laden, who having been selected for some exhibition stuff away from home early in his career, would probably go missing for large periods of the actual game, making the occasional showy move and then disappearing once again. Granted he’d be quite a distraction for the defence, but ultimately he’s probably not even worth marking.

Rule Britannia?

Barry Clough

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are Cheryl Cole and Victoria Beckham lesbians?

Is this really is just a shameless attempt to get my hit rate up or is it a cutting satire on the state of the British tabloid press?

....no. No. It really is just an attempt to get people to look at the blog having taken the time to type in the above pointless question.

They will too. Never mind my previous, previous, previous post about the problems with society. I think I've just located some far more unpleasant problems with society.

I've got a Blogpatrol widget that keeps tabs on who logs on to the pages of Newsdesk, and you should see some of the Google searches that bring people here....it makes the mind boggle, it truly does.

During the last week, Google had the good grace to bring 99 people to the pages of Newsdesk. According to Blogpatrol, here are the last 20 Google searches (Blogpatrol only shows the last 20):
  1. where is vanessa paroncel from? (Google)
  2. vanessa paroncell (Google)
  3. cheryl cole dumps (Google)
  4. vanessa paroncel (Google)
  5. modelling the way (Google)
  6. vanessa paroncel (Google)
  7. cheryl and ashley 2010 (Google)
  8. http://barrynewsdesk.blogspot.com/2010/02/cheryl-cole-dumps-ashley.html (Google)
  9. ashley cole vanessa perroncel (Google)
  10. john terry and vanessa Parancell (Google)
  11. john terry vanessa paroncelle (Google)
  12. ashley and cheryl 2010 (Google)
  13. vannessa paroncel (Google)
  14. cheryl cole dumps ashley cole (Google)
  15. "mathroom snooker" (Google)
  16. cheryl cole and ashley cole 2010 (Google)
  17. cheryl cole dumps ashley (Google)
  18. cheryl cole dumps ahsley (Google)
  19. who said "nice to meet you to meet you nice" (Google)
  20. cheryl cole
It makes for quite depressing reading really. Maybe it's satire after all....yeah Baz, it's satire. There, y'see I feel better already.

Yours in Cheryl Cole


Monday, February 8, 2010

Eidur down after Paroncell push

After last Friday's shock revelations, here on the pages of Newsdesk of the World, that stunning Cheryl Cole will dump her love-rat diminutive full-back parter Ashley Cole due to an indiscretion with the girl at the centre of Terrygate - none other than Vanessa Paroncell - it has come to light that John Terry wasn't the only Blue that she bumped uglies with during the course of a glitteringly seedy career.

I got a call from my source who now lives in Canada, let's call him Dave, that Paroncell (although Dave called her Duracell "cos she keeps going all night!" Lol!!!!) worked her way through half the squad.

Anyone who's familiar with the ins and outs of Vanessa Paroncell, knows about her fling with Eidur Gudjohnson. But few know the real secret behind the reason why Eidur was forced to leave Chelsea for the far flung fields of Catalonia.

Avram Grant.

That's right, once again, Barry NewsoftheworldDesk can reveal a footballing scoop that will shake Stamford Bridge to its very foundations. Paroncell's passion for all things Blue (and that includes Lee Ryan by the way) extended all the way up the manager's office.

Roman Abromavich was allegedly besotted with Paroncell, Dave reckons, and he would do anything for her. Including, sacking Jose Mourino and instating the object of Paroncell's desires: Avram Grant.

So when Paroncell put her own personal management order into Roman, Jose was on his bike. Of course, knowing that Avram was about to take over was the real reason Gudjohnson was forced to leave. Avram, though, as we all now know, cannot keep his cock in his pants and, GET THIS, news on the street of shame, according to Dave, is that Avram made a move on Cheryl Cole at the Christmas party after her and Ashley had an argument over, you guessed it, Vanessa Parancell.

Later that same night, Avram was spotted taking Cole up a back passage. A Cole hole. As it were......

Ashley told Roman and Grant was booted out in favour of the sexually repulsive Luiz Filipe 'just call me Gene Hackman' Scolari. That's when Paroncell decided to move back into the players lounge and get jiggly with Bridge and Terry.

There are some dirty things afoot in SW10.

Yours in sleaze


Friday, February 5, 2010

Cheryl Cole dumps Ashley

It was a matter of time really wasn't it readers? We all know that Cheryl's very public decision to stand by her man, the first time he played away from home, was probably more Hilary Clinton and Posh Spice than Tammy Wynette. That's to say, her public profile stood to benefit more from playing the part of the wronged yet understanding spouse of a famously good looking, yet notorious swordsman.

You know how the saying goes though, once bitten, twice shy. Everyone's fav X-Factor judge, the ludicrously lush Cheryl Cole has been wronged again, and this time it was a (former Miss) Bridge too far!! lol

That's right readers. You read it here first on the pages of Barry NewsoftheworldDesk.

Cheryl Cole is walking out on her treacherous beau Ashley after it emerged that it wasn't just disgraced FORMER England captain John Terry that was knocking off former team mate Wayne Bridge's former squeeze Vanessa Perroncel.

Like all good journalists, I will protect my source. Let's just say he bumped into Perroncel himself one late night at Crazy Larry's. The pair got talking, she needed some work doing to her roof, and he was up to the task.

It's news that will almost certainly hearten the spirits of my long lost French friend Mess. Where art thou? Or rather ou est tu?

The news itself will soon be splashed across the pages of the Sun. But you've read it here first!

Newsdesk out

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Order in the courtroom

After my last post regarding the problems with society, I thought I would expand upon the time I did jury service.

Jury service, readers, is one of the great civic responsibilities that we have in this country. More than a responsibility, it’s actually a privilege. Because not in every country are the citizens actively encouraged to sit in judgement on their fellow man and condemn him to punishment. Not everyone’s so lucky.

Obviously in some countries the citizenry are given more operational freedom than us Brits, and they stone transgressors to death in public arenas. Personally I prefer the gravitas and civility of a courtroom, but far be it from me to naysay the cultural quirks of people from other lands. After all, it’s these little differences that make the world such a fascinating place, isn’t it?

In most areas of our life, of course, we are taught that it is wrong to judge others. That’s one of the problems I’ve got with the Police. I often wonder how many police officers have exceeded the 70mph speed limit on motorways while in their private vehicles. I would argue there isn’t a one who hasn’t done it. And from a purely philosophical point of view any that had done so ought not be able to arrest anyone else. If something’s a crime, it’s a crime. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s the sort of petty shoplifting that gives Richard Madeley his kicks, or the sustained and invasive sexual molestation of a nun. You’re either guilty or innocent. At least, this is a point of view espoused by Dave the Roofer, one he formed while living in the North West where he founded the region’s leading philosophical group, the Bolton Wonderers.

So I just don’t understand people who try and wriggle out of Jury Service. I mean, who wouldn’t want two weeks off work sitting in a courtroom, effectively in control of the life of somebody they’ve never met and will probably never meet again (especially if they go to prison and, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be there in the first place if they hadn’t done something wrong somewhere along the line)? It’s a bit like playing Sims, but for real. What a thrill!

But when I did jury service, at London’s wonderful Old Bailey, there were actually some people who were trying to get out of it. One Rasta bloke said to the judge that he couldn’t do it because he had to sign on for his benefits every few days, so he was turned loose. And two of the women on my jury whinged constantly about having to be there instead of sat at home with their feet up watching bloody Trisha!

Me? I actually let out a whoop when the letter came through. A fortnight’s holiday, effectively, with something interesting to do while you’re off work. What’s more, the boss has to swallow it – it’s the law. So I counted myself lucky.

I counted myself even luckier when I saw that the case was a gruesome attempted murder! An absolute corker! I mean obviously it would have been better if it was an actual murder, rather than just an attempted one, because then we’d have been dealing with a killer. But attempted murder has to be the next best thing. I guess in this day and age you might think child abuse would be more exciting for the juror (obviously it would be absolutely sickening as well, that goes without saying. An absolute disgrace and something that no right thinking person could ever truly understand. But the more grievous the crime, the more exciting the judging process; I think that’s pretty much a given), but I wasn’t about to complain. Just think, it could have been some pikey who’d swiped a pair of knock-off Evisu from a market stall in Deptford.

I can tell you this now, readers, although I wouldn’t have told you at the time: I knew as soon as I saw the guy that I was going with a guilty verdict. There was just something about him. I’ve always had great instincts with people and, as the trial wore on over the next two weeks (they let us out at 3pm most days, and that was a glorious summer), these instincts were vindicated by everything that we learned about him.

So here’s the low-down: The accused was a man in his late 50s, his victim a former girlfriend twenty years his junior. A keen athlete – a competitor at (senior) national level – she returned home one evening and was shot in cold blood, from behind, while she unlocked her front door.

She lay on the path of her front garden, her cheek bone hard against the rain-slick tiles. Her ears were ringing, but she made out the sound of footsteps moving at pace away up the street. After a pause she heard a car door slam, an engine cough into life, and a vehicle speed away. All was quiet. Had there been a bomb, she thought? She watched the raindrops come down at her, blinking them out of her eyes, and wondered if she was going to die – if she was going to die here, on a winter’s evening, alone, as the hard rain nailed the cold night to the city.

Neighbours appeared, having heard the shotgun thunder take her legs from under her. “Don’t worry, love,” said a kindly voice. “There’s an ambulance on its way.” The last thing she heard before she lost consciousness was the sound of the siren. Then, all was black.”

Now, obviously she didn’t say all this during the trial and I’ve used a certain amount of licence in the description. It’s a new thing; I’m thinking of becoming a writer of hard-boiled, chilling fiction. People love thrillers and I reckon I’ve got the kind of imagination that could give them the thrill they’re seeking. I’ll be honest, though, I did steal that line about the hard rain from genre master Dean Koontz. There’s nothing wrong with standing on the shoulders of giants, though. I’m the Noel Gallagher to Dean’s John Lennon.

There was a real cast of characters in the courtroom, readers, and it felt like I was in a TV drama, or a film. The thing is, I’ve never watched any British courtroom dramas, so I couldn’t be one hundred per cent sure.

The clerk of the court was a nervous, shaky little man whom we on the jury nicknamed Mr Actually. This is because he said the word ’actually’ once for every other five or six words that he spoke. Roger Hargreaves could probably have written a book about him. Here’s an example:

“Ok ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I’m actually the clerk of the court and that actually means that I explain how everything actually works. Actually what will happen is that in a minute I’ll actually ask you to stand up, actually, and I’ll say ‘all rise’ and the Judge will actually come in. Actually.”

Poor Mr Actually, he was to become a figure of fun for us over the next couple of weeks as we’d keep tallies of his ‘actuallies’ on the pads where we were supposed to be taking notes pertinent to the case. As I’ve said, though, the bloke was clearly guilty, so there wasn’t actually any need.

My killer instincts for people were proven once again as it became clear that the accused could offer no alibi for the time of the shooting, a car seen speeding from the scene was the same make and colour as one he owned and he had a shotgun. They actually dry fired it in the courtroom. The hairs on my arms stood up. Furthermore, he’d beaten her during their relationship, stalked her after she ended it, smashed up her bicycle, emptied her bins over her front garden and earned himself a restraining order forbidding him from coming within 100 yards of her (something that was quite clearly overlooked during the trial, although I didn’t say anything).

When we retired to reach our verdict one of my fellow jurors pointed out that the evidence was all circumstantial. But I was having none of that old nonsense and I soon got everyone else on my side (including the girls, who just wanted to go home and therefore favoured a nice quick wrap-up). So there he was, guilty as charged. He got seven years, because the judge said we couldn’t prove intent to kill. So he actually went down for GBH and possession of a firearm with intent to commit harm. Personally I figured that if you’re going to point a shotgun at someone and pull the trigger – and a shotgun is a spread weapon, don’t forget – then you stand a fairly good chance of killing them. Still, the judge was the man in charge and we did as we were told. He was probably pleased to get a nice swift resolution so he could go and get spanked by some dominatrix. That’s what they like, judges. It’s a transfer of power thing, it helps them unwind.



Monday, February 1, 2010

The problems with society

I received a letter at the weekend from the Criminal Justice System and it made me cry readers. I’m not afraid to admit it.

The name of the organisation looks like some sort of Orwellian doublespeak doesn’t it? ‘Criminal justice’. Surely criminals should be ‘punished’ not given ‘justice’. I dunno, maybe I’m missing the point or something.

When I was a kid in Lincoln, the worst that would happen was that you’d get caught scrumping apples and Steve’s dad would give you a clip around the ear and that’d be that. Well, actually, worse things than that could happen and frequently did. Especially where the glue sniffers were involved. But by and large we had respect. Fast forward 30 years and things have scaled up somewhat!

As regular readers will know, I’m a liberally minded chap, although I’m not going to go all politically correct (yet another poignant oxymoron lol!). But despite my views I’m starting to feel that law and order have gone soft. Mum always used to say that we should bring back hanging and I’d always dismiss her as a reactionary. “Times have changed,” I’d say; “we’re not barbarians any more”.

But time has also opened my eyes to the reality of the world readers. I've wrestled with the issue of capital punishment before of course, some people are just scum and, in many cases, hanging literally is too good for them. People talk about chemical castration for rapists; what’s wrong with a couple of bricks and a game of cymbals?

Anyway, going back to the letter that lies before me on the dining room table. It is with regards to a certain piece of Newsdesk-based sleuth work that I undertook last year. I’m not talking about the case of Raffles the missing dog, oh no. What I’m talking about is a stone cold eye witness account of theft, assault, menacing behaviour and knife crime.

I didn’t write about it at the time, in case things went to the Old Bailey. I’ve done jury service before readers, so I know how the law courts work. If you go blabbing to the papers about the case, you can jeopardise the outcome.

The incident that I witnessed was quite literally daylight robbery. I was walking back from the station in downtown South London and suddenly I saw someone come darting out of an alleyway beside a house. He was pushing a bike readers. But there was something odd about proceedings. The back wheel of the bike was rubbing against the floor rather than rolling.

I could sense almost instinctively that I was seeing Crime. The bike’s back wheel was rubbing because it was locked to the frame! Then from nowhere, well from the house next to the alleyway actually, a middle-aged white male, of medium build, came running. He shouted “Oi” at the hoodie-wearing youth who was making good his escape up the road. I tell you what, readers, he was going at quite a pace, even though he was pushing a locked mountain bike up a hill.

I shouted over to the middle-aged white male of medium build “Is that your bike?” “Yes,” he shouted. It was at this point that I remembered the words of my old Judo master, ‘don’t go looking for trouble, trouble always finds you’.

I took up pursuit, but thought it wise that I should not be first to the scene. I’m a trained killer and sadly vigilantes can get into all sorts of trouble. I mean, look at that chap in High Wycombe who interrupted a burglar in his own home (not the burglar’s home, obviously. Burglar’s shouldn’t be allowed homes, anyway.) and then meted out some baseball bat retribution. He’s only just been let out of clink and his brother’s still there.

I reckon if someone breaks into your home, the rulebook goes out of the window (especially if they steal it. Lol.). Personally, I’d advocate capturing them and tying them up and then having a think about it. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they say. The great thing about holding the burglar prisoner is that nobody will know that you’ve got him. After all, burglars probably don’t tell anyone that they’re off to do some burglarising and they’ll be back later. And if they do, they probably don’t say: “And if you need me, love, I’ll be turning over 124 Scanlon Gardens. I’ll probably have me mobile on silent, though, so I might not hear it if you ring. Alright then, take care. I’ll be home around half five in the morning.”

So you’ve got the bloke bound and gagged and now it’s time to start giving him a taste of fear. I reckon the best thing you could do would be to get all of your tools and line them up on the work surface. Chummy’s lashed to a kitchen chair; maybe you’ve sellotaped his eyes open so he has to look at what you’re doing. Once you’ve laid out the tools – and, if you’ve got one, one of those fancy posh corkscrews with the big levers – why not make a pretend phone call along the following lines (make sure he can hear you):

“Hello Dave, yeah, it’s me. Listen, have you got anything on tonight? No? Good, I’m calling in that favour. Yeah, that’s right. No, no. Nothing like that. I’m not in the Brotherhood any more. You wouldn’t believe it mate. I’ve only caught some twat trying to rob me gaff…. (long pause). Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly what I was thinking. No, nobody’ll know. You still got the van? Nice one, son. See you around ten tonight then. Oh, Dave… Yeah, I nearly forgot. Bring that new Stanley Jetcut and a couple of dust sheets, will ya? Ta.” You’re gambling here that the burglar knows how sharp a Stanley Jetcut is. Especially when its new.

Then you might want to go back to your selection of tools and idly drag your finger along the work surface, looking like you’re trying to choose between them. Perhaps you linger over a G clamp and a caulk gun (he might think you’re going to break his thumbs and pipe some caulk up his nose). Or maybe you pick up a big claw hammer (obvious, but it’s a classic) and heft its weight in your palm. You run a thumb over your lower lip, as if in contemplation of impending deeds of violence.

Of course, you might have a couple of power tools, the kind that come in their own case. You get out the sander. But you find to your frustration that it’s got the fluffy buffing disc on it from when you were polishing up that wardrobe. You hide this with your body while you put on the coarsest sandpaper disc that you have in the box before turning around and giving it a couple of revs. It would be better if you had a chainsaw but a) most people don’t have chainsaws in the house and b) they make a lot more noise than an electric sander. Then I suppose there’s c) which is that you might not have an electric sander in the first place, especially if you’re of the old school that suggests there’s no better way of preparing woodwork for painting than a couple of sheets of wet and dry and a cork sanding block. I guess the point is, just go with what you’ve got.

Maybe you’ve got an electric drill; one of the ones that doubles as a screwdriver. If you’ve got one of the cordless ones and you haven’t used it for a while then the battery pack will be flat. But don’t be put off by this, turn it to your advantage. Plug it in where the burglar can see it. Then say to him:

“See this battery pack, my fine tethered friend? That little red light will go green in about…” pause and look at your watch “…oh, I’d say four and a half hours. And then we’re going to do see what goes on inside the heads of people like you…” It’s one of the most frustrating things about cordless drills that the battery pack is always flat when you get it out and want to use it, meaning that you can’t do the little bit of DIY you’ve mustered the enthusiasm for. By the time it’s charged you can’t be arsed and then it sits in the living room for a couple of weeks until you can be bothered to put it away again. In this instance, however, it’s nothing short of a bonus.

Alternatively you pull out the little wooden thing with the spike on it. You say to the burglar: “Do you know what this is my old son? No? Well, apparently it’s called a bradawl. My old granddad said I’d find a use for it one day, and it looks like he was right.”

You might have some pliers; they’re associated with the removal of fingernails and teeth, of course. Needlenosed pliers aren’t so intimidating, though, so bear that in mind. If you’ve got tinsnips, well that’s brilliant. Anything that can cut through metal is bound to unnerve the burglar. Stanley knives and chisels; there’s no need for me to go into detail there. If, like me, you’ve got a small garden, then you may well have a pair of secateurs. They are bloody terrifying.

With all the sharp stuff, it goes without saying, be careful not to cut yourself. Not only will it hurt, but it will detract from the sense of menace that you are trying to create. If you do cut yourself, don’t hop up and down, suck the cut finger or squeeze your eyes shut. Instead, smile and lick the blood off yourself as if it’s a delicious gravy. Then he’ll think you’re a proper psycho.

Finally, instead of picking a tool, select the corkscrew. Hold the point right up to his eyeball as if you’re going to use it to pop the thing out. But instead, open a nice bottle of wine. Tell him you like to have a glass while you’re working, like the late, great Keith Floyd. But really you’re just buying time because, one way or another, you’ve going to have to let this bloke go at some stage and probably, like me, you’ve never really thought about this kind of thing very much.

Anyway, back to my story…With two people on his tail, the youth soon decided that pushing a locked mountain bike up a hill was going to be a bit of a drag on his pace, so he dropped his booty and continued running. The middle-aged white male of medium build was in very hot pursuit, though, and by the time I’d caught up he had already gotten hold of the thief.

Now I could finally see the thief’s face, he was gaunt and spotty and, despite being extremely white, was speaking in that faux Yardie South London patois. “I dint fink it was yours bruv, izzit” he said. But the bike’s owner wasn’t having any of this, and grappled with the youth. The pair then span around and went head first over a privet hedge and down into a garden below.

The owner landed on his head and in the kerfuffle the hoodie escaped, running up the garden path and down the street. By this point a crowd had gathered. I’m a born leader, though, and I took the initiative. I instructed a nearby teenager sitting on a bike to follow the thief, while maintaining a safe distance. Meanwhile, I made sure the old chap was OK.

After a while the teenager on the bike came back and pointed to a nearby road saying that the thief had cottoned on to the fact he was being followed and had come after him with a knife!!!

It was like I was living in an episode of The Bill. I was like PC Tony Stamp, and the teenager on the bike was like my informant, who may have been in Grange Hill, and would go on to have a role in Eastenders. I called 999 for back-up and, while waiting for the cavalry to arrive, decided to investigate the road where my CI had told me the thief was hiding.

I proceeded with caution in a northerly direction up the road and then I saw the thief. He was hanging about by a tree, keeping an eye on the road. He was checking to see if he was being tailed. I quickly ducked behind a tree of my own. As a martial arts expert I understand how to make use of my environment. I kept a visual. I know that visuals are vital in cases like this, if you lose track of the suspect, your status as a witness can be called into question by the slag’s brief.

After a while the thief came to the erroneous conclusion that he was in the clear and made his way towards a nearby park. I maintained a visual from some two hundred yards. To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure what to do really. I was pretty sure, judging by the direction he was walking, that he was heading to the tower blocks on the other side of the park. I quickened the pace a touch and then he stopped and stood stock still in the centre of a football pitch in the park and whistled.

Then from over by the other side of the park, quite near the tower blocks, one of those nasty little fighting dogs appeared and ran at great speed towards him. Except they’re not really aggressive dogs at all, Staffies. They’ve got a lovely temperament and they’re good with children. They just look ferocious, which is why the street youths have taken to dragging them around everywhere. It’s a sad fact that there are more Staffies in Battersea dogs home than any other breed, especially the labradoodle, which is exclusively owned by the posh.

Right behind the dog another be-hooded youth appeared and the two made their way towards one another, meeting, greeting and eventually sitting down over by the touchline of the pitch!

A good half hour had now passed since I’d first spotted the thief. He was chatting with his mate now, the Staffie bouncing back and forth between them both. Here’s my chance, I thought, calling directory enquiries to get put through to the local police station for more back up. A patrol car was on its way they said and so I waited. And waited. And waited.

It was now starting to get dark, and I spotted a white IC-one female citizen making her way across the park pushing a bike. Quick as a flash, the thief got to his feet. Bikes were clearly this man’s thing. The park was deserted, and the thief was now walking with intent towards the girl.

I started to walk out into the clearing of the park from my secluded spot. The thief had stopped the girl now and he was asking for something, she had stopped and was now rooting around in her handbag.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a patrol car at the perimeter of the park. I changed directions and waved it over. As the car approached me, the thief disengaged from the girl and started walking in the opposite direction; his pal and the dog having disappeared. I introduced myself to the policeman and pointed out the suspect, saying I had been the one to call in the bike theft and had now witnessed what I presumed was an attempted mugging.

The police told me to stay put while they went over to the thief. They chatted for a while and he was made to empty his pockets. After a while a meat wagon appeared and he was unceremoniously bundled into the back. The police came back and I gave a full account. It took ages too, but I didn’t mind. I’d done my civic duty, I went home and cracked into a few Cobras.

Fast forward to this weekend and I get a letter form the CJS telling me that thanks to my evidence and sleuth work, the criminal had been charged in court last December and had pleaded guilty. The sentence passed was: A community order to take part in the Think First Programme.

Think First! Fuck me, it sounds like something Johnny Ball would have presented on the telly when I was a nipper. Presumably Think First is a class led by some social worker type who tells criminals that they are naughty and that nicking bikes, threatening people with knives and mugging (or at least trying to) girls in parks is a ‘bad thing’.

I tell you what readers, it’s not very PC of me, but I think public flogging might be the sort of thing that might help people like this ‘think first’. The next time I see someone running off down the road with someone else’s bike I’m going to have to put my Judo into action. The streets of London are mean readers, dirty and mean, there’s only one language these people understand! We’ve got to stand up and be counted, we’ve got to fight fire with fire!!!!

Makes me sick readers, sick to pit of my stomach. I’m still owed over £400 from the clamping company that towed my car because I hadn’t displayed the updated permit that they hadn’t sent me. I get fined a small fortune, and people like that bike thief get to wander the streets with little more than an instruction to attend a Think First class.

It is dia-fucking-bolical, that’s what it is.

Yours in distress at the state of society