Friday, 31 May 2013

How Steeleye Span courted the Great Old Ones and almost started a folkocalypse

All around my hat I shall wear the green willow
All around my hat for a 12 month and a day
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it
It's for Shub-Niggurath - the black goat of the woods with a thousand young
The All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One
The great mother worshipped by the hereditary cult of Exham Priory!
Iä! Shub-Niggurath!”

When BBC weather man and former Cambridge poetry graduate - Garrington Wilbury-Fosh - first laid eyes upon the original lyrics to the Steeleye Span song 'All Around My Hat,' he couldn't help but notice that they didn't really scan.

A second reading revealed a hither-to overlooked dimension to the song: This was less a subtext and more a blatant incitement, directing the Great Old Ones of the Lovecraftian mythos (ancient tentacled gods, the sight of whom was enough to drive a man to insanity) to slither from their parallel dimensions and usher in a new era of darkness. Here humankind would learn that their true role in the universe was neither as conqueror, nor as as subjugate, but as something of complete irrelevance.

“I urged the band to rethink and condense these final lines as I felt that they were somewhat unwieldy, and deviated too far from the song's original premise...” said Fosh.

“...Furthermore, I was greatly concerned that their utterance might somehow result in the extinction of all human life.

“A second draft, which did away with the ending altogether, was a reversion to a traditional four line stanza. I felt the ambiguity of the new final line: (“It's all for my true love, who is far, far away”) was a great improvement. It's remains entirely possible that the band's true love is Shub-Niggurath, however by obscuring their identity, the song is left accessible to those listeners whose true love might be another human being, a pet, or an inanimate object – such as a Welsh dresser.

“You have to remember that all this occurred during the mid-1970s. You could not open the papers without reading a story about the Great Old Ones: Yog-Sothoth was allegedly dating Marianne Faithfull. Meanwhile his drinking buddy, Nyarlathotep, was facing a stiff prison sentence for head-butting a policeman on The Strand (he was eventually sentenced to 4 years).

“There was also talk of raising the sunken city of R'lyeh in the South Pacific – the resting place of the hideous octopus god, Cthulhu, whose awakening, many believe, will herald the end of the world.

“I remember, around this time, talking to a Conservative MP who informed me, with a knowing roll of his eyes, that, contrary to popular belief, Cthulhu would occasionally rise from his slumber to chase boatloads of sailors.”

In the end it was the House of Lords who voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving the city of R'lyeh undisturbed, amidst concerns that, during his rampage, Cthulhu might trample Winchester Cathedral.

“There were other worries too...” recalls Fosh.

“...In particular how the Great Old Ones' love of non-euclidean geometry might impact upon town planning. We already had Stevenage blighting the south-east corner of England. We certainly didn't want anything else like that.”

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

When Billy Corgan sings, the floor is made of lava

The Grunge era seems destined to be remembered not for the music, or the flannel shirts, but for the enduringly popular parlour game: 'When Billy Corgan sings, the floor is made of lava.' In our house this is often played over Easter, although there is no reason why it cannot be enjoyed at any time of the year.

The conceit behind the game (which can be played by anyone, from ages 8-89) is that Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan's vocals are so searing in their power and insight, that they alter the molecular structure of carpet, bare floorboards, and kitchen and bathroom tiles, transforming these ordinarily benign surfaces into super-heated molten rock, capable of reducing a human-being to a crispy mound of smouldering ash in mere 100ths of a second! It is imperative, within the context of the game, that when Grunge-siren, Corgan, opens his mouth to sing, one seeks asylum on the nearest climbable object, these having been judged impervious to his vocal register. Lino is also unaffected by Corgan and will not transform into lava when he sings. If you have any lino-covered surfaces in your home then these should be excluded from the gaming area.

I have been playing 'When Billy Corgan sings, the floor is made of lava' professionally since 2010. Below I will outline some opening strategies that will hopefully make the game more enjoyable for amateur players:

Quasar which opens the most recent Pumpkins album, Oceania, gifts players a generous 45 seconds before the floor turns to lava (figuratively speaking – remember this is pretend lava. You are in no actual danger!) This should allow ample time for all but the most unfit or physically impaired participants to reach a place of sanctuary. Remember that there are no prizes for succumbing to the lava while attempting to assist a fellow player. When the magma flows, you will be consumed. Your weakness will invariably be noted by your fellow players and may be used against you in future games.

Doomsday Clock (from the Zeitgeist album) grants players 27 seconds to scramble to safety.

Significantly more challenging is The Everlasting Gaze – the lead track from Machina / The Machines of God which allots a mere 9 seconds to find refuge. To Shiela from Adore is only marginally more generous, allowing players only 11 seconds. I recommend that these albums are only used by veterans of the game, with at least 3 years experience, in a house where there is a lot of climbable furniture.

A good entry level album is Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, whose opening instrumental (lasting two minutes and 53 seconds) added to the 45 second intro of Tonight, Tonight, affords players a luxurious amount of time to elude the encroaching lava flow. As a professional player I am able to traverse the length of my house several times during this period and will often up the stakes by making myself a cup of tea. A WORD OF WARNING: This generous period of time can often lead to hubris that can catch seasoned, over-confident players off guard. This occurred during the 2011 finals when hot favourite, Michael Robb, was eliminated during the opening heats.

The 58 second intro of Cherub Rock (from Siamese Dream) and the 55 seconds of I Am One (from Gish) are good choices for intermediate players.

I hope that the tips I have outlined above will improve the games of existing players and encourage others to take up the sport.

To my fellow professionals, I will see you all at the 'When Billy Corgan sings, the floor is made of lava' National Championships at the Birmingham NEC in July.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Balaclava

The Balaclava

In an empty carriage
on the eastbound
District Line service,
terminating at Upminster,

I found a
black balaclava
abandoned on the seat
next to mine.

It was embroidered
with a shield
bearing the St George Cross
and underneath
the initials of
The English Defence League.

And I felt the sweat
of the man who
had worn it
soaked into the wool,

and turned it partway-out
searching for a name tag
sewn on the inside,
but there was none.

And then, having
exhausted its possibilities,
I tossed it onto
the row of seats
opposite me.

But later I wondered about
its former owner:

Whether he was asked
to remove it by
London Underground staff
and sat there,
with his red face
bearing its
itchy after-image

Or if the heat
had become unbearable
and he had taken it off
voluntarily, surrendering
the identity he had
chosen for himself.

Though it isn't true,
I like to think that
somewhere along the line,
as the train rushed
out of the darkness
and into floodlit station,
the lurching of the carriage
jolted him from his tunnel vision.

He disengaged
his thousand yard stare
from the glowering
shade of his reflection
that haunted the
darkened glass opposite
and looked to his
left and to his right
at the students from New Delhi,
and the grandson of
Trinidadian immigrants,
and at the Muslim family
from Tower Hamlets
sitting alongside a
descendent of itinerant
Irish labourers,
and saw for the first time
a cross-section of London
being shuffled into the city

And he rode the escalator
out of that underworld
and emerged into the street
a less angry man.

~ Mark Sadler

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How the British Pork Assembly steered my course from the blood-soaked path of revenge

 (A tale of redemption & personal growth, by Mark Sadler)

I recently bought a book titled 'REVENGE!” Superimposed diagonally across the front cover was a yellow banner offering five pounds worth of revenge as part of the purchase price, while smaller writing underneath the offer reminded potential readers that the book was a sequel to a previous volume titled 'FUCK YOU!'

I contacted the publishers who assured me that the offer was genuine. but that the five pounds was not monetary in value, but based on the imperial measurement of 5 lbs. This, I was told, was inspired by the 1lb of flesh extorted by Shylock from Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, with the amount adjusted for inflation and also to reflect “how totally fucking pissed-off people are these days.”

Six weeks later I received, through the post, a voucher redeemable for 5 lbs of pork shoulder from participating independent butchers, the nearest of which was located 70 miles from my home.

In hindsight I should have realised that I had fallen prey to an elaborate marketing ploy: The book mostly comprised of recipes for pork, with very little content describing the actual mechanics of revenge. Closer inspection revealed that it had been published by the British Pork Assembly, who are not known for their eclectic tastes when it comes to commissioning self-help manuals.

The following Saturday I drove to the butchers and redeemed my voucher. That evening I learned that there is more value in a slow-cooked shoulder of pork, enjoyed in the company of good friends, than there is in folly of attempting to redress past transgressions. From there-on I resolved to live my life as a happy man, content to allow all those who have wronged me to fall from my side and be carried away by the currents of life to whatever destinies await them. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Cast offs (part two) Melmerby Livingstone

(My entry in a Yorkshire Dales-themed writing contest. It didn't win, nor did it deserve to)


By Mark Sadler

A couple of Fridays ago I reluctantly attended something called a 'Managerial Strategy Seminar,' in York. This turned out to be a series of interminable workshops whose stated purpose was to transform us all into "more integrated business leaders." The last of these motivational talks didn't wind-up until early evening. In the aftermath, the prospect of a long drive back to Southend, through rush hour traffic, felt suddenly unappealing. I decided on a whim that I would extend my stay over the weekend and delay the journey home until Sunday.

The following morning, after breakfast, I joined the end of a small queue by the reception desk. As I waited to settle my bill, my gaze was drawn along the corridor, through the wide-open double doors of the conference hall, where I had spent most of the previous day. Inside I caught occasional glimpses of hotel staff preparing the room for a wedding recpetion.

After I had checked out, I drove 50 or so miles further north to the village of Carlton, which lies on the Eastern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. My friend and former next-door neighbour, Richard Blackholly, moved there from Leigh-on-Sea 15 years ago. Though we have remained in regular contact, the considerable distance between us means that we seldom see one another in the flesh.

I arrived in Carlton at around midday and found Richard installed in the pub, at a table by the fire. Over lunch he advised me that, even though the day was somewhat chilly and the sky ominously overcast, past traditions must still be observed: It would be greatly remiss of us if we didn't walk to Pen Hill and each place a stone on top of the tumbledown cairn that squats on the summit, in a perpetual state of near collapse.

Richard is a living, breathing archive of local gossip, both contemporary and historical. This, coupled with his broad knowledge of natural history, make him an excellent companion on home soil. I readily yielded to his suggestion.

We followed the road out of Carlton. After about half a mile we turned left and walked uphill through the tiny linear village of Melmerby. By the time we reached the iron barred cattle grid that separates the village from the moor it was raining steadily. Rivulets of brown water were flowing rapidly along both sides of the road, where the tarmac meets with the verges. Once we had filed though the kissing gate, and no longer sheltered by the buildings we were immediately exposed to the full force of the wind. The orange cagoule that I had borrowed from Richard, which was several sizes too large for me, began to inflate and billow outwards. I fumbled with the drawstrings at the bottom in an attempt to make it fit more snugly. By now the cords were wet and I found that I couldn't unfasten the knot I had previously tied.

The moor was bisected by a thin ribbon of road whose undulating course sympathetically mirrored the contours of the landscape, right down to the tiniest bump. We soon parted company from it and began traipsing through wet heather that was over two feet deep in places and very quickly soaked the legs of my jeans almost to the knee. The springy branches bending under the soles of my boots provided an uneven surface upon which to walk. While Richard strode on confidently ahead, sporting a brazen air of familiarity with his surroundings, I lurched along behind with the elephantine grace of a man who is attempting to gain a steady footing on a trampoline. In the back of my mind there lingered a nagging suspicion; that it was only my continuous unbalanced momentum that was keeping me upright and I would need to locate solid ground before I could bring myself to a safe halt.

The landscape was threaded with narrow streams of peat-stained water that were hidden from sight beneath the scrub. These flowed downhill through natural fissures in the turf and eventually converged into a broader channel. This, in turn, passed through a purification station, the size of a small shed, that provided Melmerby with clean drinking water. Occasionally, while in the vicinity of one these hidden streams, my foot would breach the tangle of heather and make contact with the saturated ground underneath. Instead of sinking into mud, the sole of my boot would press down on a dense, sponge-like matting of grass and moss, releasing some of the trapped water in the form of a small cloudy puddle that would disappear the moment I raised my leg.

"I'm having trouble working out where the ground starts," I called out breathlessly. "Every footstep's an adventure."

As if on cue there was a small sudden commotion a few feet to the left of me. I heard the snap of wings as a pair of grouse erupted from the heath and took off at low altitude before dropping back down out of sight.

Richard's reply was snatched by crosswind as the words left his mouth and carried off across the moor. I remembered something that he told me the last time we had come here: It was a kind of ghost story, based on local folklore, that the wind conspires with the moors to steal the language of men. In the 1940s a widower from Melmerby called Robert Finsdale claimed that Pen Hill had spoken to him in his dead wife's voice, using fragments of sentences that the gusts of wind had taken from her during her life. While he was able to derive some comfort from what it told him, he remained terrified by the manner in which these messages from beyond the grave were delivered. Finally he could no longer bear to hear it anymore. After that he became something of a recluse and stuffed his ears with cotton wool when necessity required him to leave his home.

We had been walking for about a quarter of an hour when we came to a halt on a patch of ashen ground where there had been a controlled burn. What remained of the heather had been reduced to grey twisted branches; the skeletal remains of a fire, inclinded in the direction of the prevailing wind at the time of the blaze.

Richard picked up a piece of broken twig and offered it to me.

"Feel this. It looks like wood but it's actually a type of stone."

I took the fragment from him. It had a coarse stony texture and a honeycombed interior where it had been broken off. I tried and failed to snap it between my fingers. It was hard like metal, yet surprisingly lightweight.

"It's called Horeb Stone Weed. People erroneously describe it as heather. In fact it's a species of dry coral, native to the mountainous regions of Northern Africa. This is the only place where it grows in the UK."

"Why here and nowhere else?"

"Well, opinions on this matter vary. There's been the usual tortoise and hare race between science and religion. Plant biologists are still grubbing around in the dirt, searching for explanatory causes and factors. The church has had their account on the books for centuries: If you ask the Pope he'll tell you that it was brought to England in 1657 by Saint Ramona. She was a young nun who lived in the town of Vilmergen, in what was then the Swiss Confederacy. During the civil war of 1656 she was entrusted with a miraculously glowing ember that was said to have been part of the burning bush, from the book of Exodus. She left her convent and traveled across the alps into France.  She kept the spark cupped between her hands, which she loosely clasped together as if in permanent prayer. She found that by blowing on it through the small gap between her palms, it would glow brighter and nurture her, so that she never needed food or sleep.

"When she reached the French coast, she secured passage of a ship bound for England. Finally she ended up here, on Melmerby moor, where she heard a voice telling her to kneel and relinquish her burden. She unclasped her hands and the spark flew out and set fire to the ground around her. Then the heavens opened and the rain turned the flames to stone which blossomed with purple flowers.

"And until scientists can come up with something a bit more rigorous, that is the best explanation we have as to why Horeb Stone Weed grows here and nowhere else in the Britain."

"It's a good story. There's something rather Blakean about it."

"One of the plant's interesting properties is that, after it's burned it becomes very rigid. But then, if you expose it to high temperatures, it becomes malleable and you can sculpt it like you would molten metal. On your travels in this part of the world have you ever come across any poor man's heraldry?"

"I don't think so."

"They're like unofficial coats of arms. You see a lot of them on old farm buildings. Family crests with an agricultural theme - lots of sparring cockerels and crossed scythes."

"Okay, I know what you mean now."

"Well all of that's done with Horeb Stone Weed. It's very easy to work with. You don't need any masonry skills. You can lay out your design like a collage. I've got a very good book of photographs back at the house, which I will show to you. Actually, up until a few months ago, the best example of it was at the Malton Dairy just outside Masham. Unfortunately it burned down on Christmas Eve."

"Yeah, I drove past it on the way up. It's a terrible mess."  

"You wouldn't have been able to see the farmhouse from the road because the sheds are in the way. I call it a farmhouse. It was more like a small manor. Originally there was a coat of arms made from Horeb Stone above the front door - a pair of rampant dairy cows rearing up on either side of a haystack. After the First World War the son of the owner began expanding it into a frieze depicting scenes from farm life. By the time he was done it covered the entire front of the building.

"Anyway it's all gone now. The house burned right down to the foundations. They had fire crews from three counties there trying to put it out. I was speaking to one of the firemen not so long ago. He told me that as the building heated up, the figures on the wall began to move and it was like watching a painting slowly stirring into life. He said that the movement was so disconcerting everybody stopped what they were doing and took a step backwards. For a few seconds it seemed like all those cows and sheep and farmhands were going to advance through the flames. Then the heat got too much and they began to detach from the building and fall apart." 

After Richard had finished his story we both fell into a silent contemplation of our surroundings; buffeted by an incessant wind that was trying to steal our private innermost thoughts and use them to give voice to the dead. The rain streamed in tributaries down the lines and shallow gullies in our faces. It was as if we had stood still for so long we had been accepted and become one with the surrounding landscape. I had awoken that morning with a fresh, crescent-shaped wound on my left leg, where I must have scratched myself during the night. I often do it when I am under stress. For the first time that day I became aware of how sore it felt against the damp fabric of my jeans.

After what seemed like an age we resumed our laboured journey through the scrub, towards our destination. Later we stood on the summit of Pen Hill and looked down on where we had walked. The immense, aubergine-coloured mats of Horeb Stone Weed resembled dark continental landmasses, adrift in a sea of green.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Dolphin Origami

Dolphin - Designed by Quentin Trollip. Wet-folded by backwards7, from a 12 inch square of Khadi paper.

I wanted to use a heavier paper, a nice light-grey Elepanthide would have been ideal. Unfortunately the dorsal thin contains a great many stacked layers. Thicker papers can't handle the stress when these are folded in half and have a tendency to tear along the top seam.

I also attempted to fold the model from a sheet of silk threads, which is a half-step up from tissue paper, but slightly more robust. That wasn't particularly satisfactory either, as other parts of the model have relatively few layers and the end result looked a bit flimsy.

I like the graceful arc of this design which captures the dolphin in the moment of both leaving and reentering the water.

In hindsight I think I should have done a bit more work on the head.

I cannot increase the size of your penis

Recently this blog has become a popular online destination for people (mostly men, I assume) who wish to increase the size of their penises by the sum of 2-4 inches.

I imagine that they are rather disappointed when, instead of an inventory of willy-enlarging lotions and tonics, diagrams of strategically suspended weights, or an invitation to join a prayer circle that will lobby Jesus, they are faced with page upon page of complete and utter bollocks, authored by someone whose sense of humour clearly stopped maturing at around the ages of 8 or 9.

I cannot apologise enough if you approached this blog imagining a Karate Kid-style montage, in which I help you to lengthen your truncated male genitalia by means of a series of implausible exercises, such as waxing my car (not a euphemism) or painting my fence (definitely not a euphemism).

Unfortunately I cannot make your penis any bigger than it already is when fully erect. Furthermore, it is not my place to do so. We need only turn to the book of Genesis, chapter one, verses 27-28, to confirm that there is nothing in the Judeo-Christian creationist myth that explicitly mentions God granting man or womankind dominion over penises.

The quote below is taken from the King James version of The Bible, which is my preferred edition of this holy text:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

No doubt, there are some who will argue that the penis falls into the category of living things that “moveth upon the earth”. I would counter-claim that the secondary purpose of the penis (after assisting in the act of pro-creation) is surely to maketh the earth move.

I strongly maintain that there is not a man, living or dead, who has ever achieved total mastery over his penis, as such a thing is not possible. My own penis asserts its independence from the rest of my body on a daily basis, while never quite achieving total autonomy. In this regard it is a bit like the Catalonia region of Spain.

I understand that there is tremendous social pressure to adhere to a certain idealised body type, and that most of us will fall well short of this platonic ideal. For men, the seeds of expectation are sown very early in life, around the time when one is first taught the words to the song: My Friend Billy Had A Ten-Foot Willy.

We must remember that, far from being a celebration of rampant throbbing masculinity, this song is in fact an exploration of the drawbacks to being born with a freakishly enormous cock. If we follow the narrative in the lyrics we see that Billy's penis suffers a grievous injury after he shows it to the girl next door who, under the impression that she is being attacked by a giant snake, savages it with a garden rake, reducing it in size by well over half. The song concludes with Billy deprived of the sensitive tip of his penis. Even taking into account this amputation, he would still have to stand a considerable distance away from any sexual partner in order to comfortably penetrate them. The criminal charges that will arise from him exposing himself to his next-door neighbour, will result in him being forced to sign the sexual offenders register. Given the proximately of his home to that of his victim's, it is likely that a condition of his release into society is that he seeks alternative accommodation elsewhere. In summary, a cock so large that it can mistaken for a snake, is as much a curse as it is a blessing – a double-edged pork sword, if you will.

The drive towards self-improvement is a noble one, however there are limits and certain things about ourselves that we must learn to accept, regardless of what others might say. Anyone who tries to make you ashamed of the person you are isn't worth a fuck in any sense of the word.

Remember Mr Miyagi's bonsai (again, not a euphemism) from The Karate Kid (Part III)? People in that film went through all kinds of shit to get their hands on that tiny tree. Seriously, they couldn't get enough of it. Take heart from this my poorly-endowed friends. Do not lose hope.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

“My passion for Danish tablecloths is absolute and all consuming”: The nonsense spouted by reality show contestants.

I was standing outside my house the other day, when an unkempt, wild-eyed man, dressed in official BBC morning knitwear, thrust a battered cardboard box of VHS videotapes into my hands.

“Watch these. You will know what to do,” he said.

Moments later I saw him being bundled into a car with blacked-out windows, which screeched away from the curb in a cloud of tire smoke.

I took the box indoors. When I finally got around to viewing the tapes a few months later, I found that they contained clips from Reality TV shows.

The man was wrong; I did not what to do with them. I have transcribed the footage and posted it online in the hope that someone on the internet will know.

Also, if the person who gave me the tapes is reading this and wants them back, could you please get in touch. If I don't hear from you by the end of May, I will take them down to the charity shop.


Peter (obviously lying): “When I turned eight years old, instead of asking my parents for balloons at my birthday party, I asked them for a balloon whisk!”

Gregg Wallace: “And what are you whipping up for us today Peter?”

Peter: “Sausage Pâté.”


Andrew: “Today John, I will be cooking using ingredients that I foraged from my back garden: A lawnmower, some potting compost, a shard of a terracotta flower pot, and next-door’s cat.

John Torode (aside): “I don't know about Andrew's main. A lawnmower and a terracotta flower pot? Those are both strong flavours. I can see them working against each other and maybe even overpowering the other, more subtle ingredients.”

Gregg Wallace (aside): “But I'll tell you what, John. If Andrew gets his flavour combinations just right, it'll be genius served up on a rectangular slab of Welsh slate, with the sauce in a tiny white jug on the side.

John Torode: “Andrew: I can't taste next-door's cat. I feel like we should be putting up missing posters for it.”

Andrew bursts into man-tears. He retreats to his happy space in the kitchen, where he attempts to blind himself with a sugar tuile, so that he might never again have to gaze upon a poorly-conceived lawnmower rosti in a flowerpot and compost reduction, with tabby mash.


Paul: “Lord Sugar: Instead of literally firing me, I urge you to load me into your troubleshooting gun and fire me at the problem of your choosing. I promise that I will strike your target with pinpoint accuracy. Unlike other man-bullets who pass through a problem, causing minimal damage, I am the type of human ammunition who ricochets randomly around inside a problem, like a concussed bluebottle attempting to escape from a greenhouse, not stopping until I have utterly obliterated everything in my path.

“Lord Sugar, with me you will be spared the expense of the 'two shots to the chest, one to the head' school of troubleshooting, which the writers of CSI would have us believe is the watermark of the professional contract killer. With me Lord Sugar, it's always one shot, one kill. Job done.”

Later, inevitably...

Lord Sugar: “I took a chance on you Paul. I loaded you into my troubleshooting gun, just as you requested. Instead of hitting the target you strayed very wide of the mark and wounded Karren Brady in the shoulder. Now I'm down one advisor which means that any decision I make will be 50% less accurate.”

(to the other candidates) “Right I want the rest you to go back to the house. I'll see you on the next task. Nick I want you to give me a 4 letter word beginning with “cunt” and then I want you to write it in capital letters on Paul's forehead with this Montblanc pen.”

Lord Sugar: “Jeninne: Explain to me why I shouldn't fire you. And I don't want to hear a sob story about how you grew up on a council estate with your five sisters and survived on tinned fish fingers.”

Jennine: “Well, because, like you Lord Sugar, I'm self-made. Nothing's been handed to me. I grew up on a council estate with my five sisters. We were so poor we had to eat fish fingers out of tins. Also, Lord Sugar, there's so much of me that you haven't seen. Part of my strategy coming into this process was to reveal different parts of myself to you in reverse alphabetical order. You haven't seen my armpits or my arse yet.”

Nick Hewer (checking his notes): “But you showed Lord Sugar your arse a few weeks ago. None of us were particularly impressed by it.”

Jennine: “That was a mistake on my part. I meant to show you my elbow but I got confused and showed you my arse instead. But, Lord Sugar I have so much potential. I'm begging you, give me one more opportunity to show you my arse again.”


Adam Richman: “This 16oz rib-eye steak, served with jalapeño peppers, onions, and a haystack-sized portion of All American 9/11 Freedom Fries has bested me at Scrabble.”

Bill Oswald-Kennedy (Restaurant Proprietor): “Your failure to captilize on triple-word scores has earned you a place on the wall of shame of my dining establishment, which has served artery-clogging food to the people of New Jersey since 1987. The record of your defeat at the hands of the superior board-gaming abilities of my signature dish will stand as a permanent reminder that man's greatest adversary is his own hubris.”

Adam Richman: My dishonour is complete. The stain of my failure will darken the crotch of my family trousers for 1000 years.”

The Ghost of Alan Richman's Japanese Forefather: “Adam San. The restless spirits of your ancestors have grown weary of your inability to defeat large portions of food in simple games of skill, for ages 4 and up.

Adam Richman: “Ahhh.”


Noel Edmonds: “The banker says that you all owe him £16000. If you don't pay up before the end of the show he'll foreclose on your mortgages... STOP FUCKING CRYING MARGARET!”


“I'm doing this for my grandfather, who I murdered. This morning.”

Monday, 6 May 2013

Visit the historic polystyrene castles of Scotland

Visit the historic polystyrene castles of Scotland

The bonny nation of Scotland is famed throughout the world for its elusive lake monsters and historic polystyrene castles.

The White Castle of Belfast

Unlike other polystyrene castles, which are traditionally painted grey, thereby lending the impression that they have been constructed from stone, the towering 100 foot curtain walls of this Celtic stronghold have been kept pristine white.

The castle, which was built in the 1400s and originally located in Belfast, Ireland, was picked up by a strong gust of wind in 1651 and carried across the North Channel, eventually coming to rest in Prestwick three years later.

In 2001, the chart-topping demagogues, The Corrs, campaigned for the repatriation of the castle with a song titled The White Lady, whose lyrics rhymed “Ireland” with “My land”. The Simple Minds song – Belfast Child - is also thought to obliquely reference 'The White Castle.'

The Maiden of the North

Also known as “The Unassailable Virgin” and “Frigid Abigail,” on account of its gates having never been breached. The last attempted siege of the castle (located South of Hawick) occurred during 1712, when forces loyal to James Tewksbury – the 'Geordie' Earl of Newcastle - were unable to penetrate the fortresses' flimsy walls with their balsa-wood swords and cannonballs made from screwed up paper.

Mel Gibson's Mighty Citadel of Celtic Freedom

Constructed in 1994, and thereafter used as a place of residence by the actor Mel Gibson during the filming of Braveheart. For months Gibson could be heard bellowing “FREEDOM!” from the ramparts. His heartfelt pleas for Scottish independence are thought to have shifted the nation's border southwards by 5 ¼ inches, equalling the territorial gain achieved in 1991, when the Rod Stewart song, Rhythm of my Heart, achieved the number 3 spot in the UK singles chart.

For added authenticity, Gibson populated the halls of this castle with Scottish ghosts (among them the Headless Bagpiper of Aberdeen) which he purchased at auction.

Lairg Castle

Built in the 1500s to defend Northern Scotland from giants. In 1987 the keep at Lairg became the first ever polystyrene castle to be visited by the actor Shaun Connery. The former James Bond star later remarked that he had been tricked into entering the castle and would never have gone there had he known that it was made from polystyrene.

The Drum at Glasgow

Located in the heart of the troubled Drumchapel Estate in Glasgow, this fully functioning castle maintains a garrison of 200 pikemen, who are called upon to repels invaders on an almost daily basis. Visitors to the great hall (frequently described in tourist guidebooks as “Glasgow's Sistine Chapel) can gaze up through the ragged hole in the ceiling, made in 1822 by King George IV, after his excessive weight caused him to plunge through three floors.

The castle's current owners are in the process of raising funds to repair this damage. During your visit you may be asked by one of the guides if you want to buy a pair of trainers or some jeans.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Wankender: "Mummy wants to vinyl with me for her 50th Birthday.”


Tarquin Allesbury-Bettnässer, Aspirant Hotelier and Dubstep DJ, 23

“Mummy wants to vinyl with me for her 50th Birthday.”

I am about to go to Switzerland.”

When I was in Zurich last year, I invested in some bespoke Odermatt and Gonthier suits made from Swiss Chocolate. They cost £30,000 a piece and you can only wear them in cold climates. I wore one to 'Heatwave' which is a dance music event that takes place in the middle of summer, on the slope of an active volcano, in the South Pacific Ocean. The only way to get there is by helicopter. I ended up covered from head to foot in small grey lizards, who had been worked into a sexual frenzy by the smell of the melting chocolate. The ambient temperature of the magma welling up from the earth’s core was not my friend that night.

I went to Louise Mensch's birthday party by accident.”

The last time we went out in London, we somehow ended up at Louise Mensch's birthday party in New York! The Kings of Leon were there, but I didn't meet them. I don't really pay much attention to celebrities. My friend Clarissa told me that they are direct descendants of the French Royal Family, who fled to America to avoid persecution. I don't remember much about the evening as I was continually being distracted by my reflection in a champagne bottle.

I have revolutionised Lacrosse.”

If I'm in the country, I go for long walks around our private estate with my Tibetan Prayer Dogs. I obtained them from a monastery in Lhasa. When I told the Head Lama that I was going to rename the dogs 'Cameron' and 'Osborne' he poured petrol over his head and set himself on fire, which is how they express themselves religiously in this part of the world. The fleas on a Tibetan Prayer Dog are regarded as sacred. Of course I had both animals thoroughly deloused before they were allowed to lay one paw inside the house.

I hope to play more Lacrosse this season. Last year I was hopeless as my cashmere scarf kept getting in the way. My secret weapon this year is a 'scarf frame' that will allow me to play without it getting caught around my stick. I think it's fair to say that I've revolutionised the sport.

I've been to 18 five-star hotels in the past year.”

One thing that you immediately notice in these places is how clean and healthy the clientèle are. I'm sure that if everyone made the effort to visit a health spa once a week, and increased the amount of lobster and turbot in their diet, then they wouldn't need to go to hospital so much, and we could spend less money on the NHS.

I am planning to enter the hotel business, as my current career as a DJ wont finance my lifestyle. I mostly play Dubstep, which is dance music made by poor people from the east end of London. I source all my records from Milan, as that is where all the really high quality Dubstep is made. The really good records have artwork, where-as the budget range comes in plain white sleeves.

Mummy's been really supportive of my music. She says that she wants to vinyl with me for her 50th birthday. Father has some contacts on the Conservative front benches so I've asked him if he can put me in touch with somebody from The Ministry of Sound.”