Friday, June 23, 2006

Dob Dob Dob-Dab Dab Dab

Dob Dob Dob-Dab Dab Dab

This little ditty has been reworked so often, I’m sick of it! Still this version isn’t bad. It’s no masterpiece, but will have to do for the moment. It will change after it has been edited, but in the mean time…

Last of the Rhodesians:

Going Down in a Blaze of Glory.

Returning to the Boy Scouts association of Rhodesia, mainly the 8th Mount Pleasant Troop, after an absence of two years was a serious mistake. Father had made me leave when I was thirteen just as I was on the way to becoming the youngest recipient of the Advanced Scout award in the land and had already passed a few of the Chief Scouts award tests. (This had replaced the Queens Scout Award after good ‘ol Smithy threw the Queen out whilst creating his Rhodesian dream.)

I had just been promoted to assistant patrol leader when, under the pretence that my poor school results were the result of my obsession with scouting, I was forbidden to stay a member, thus delivering another damaging psychological blow and added to reasons of why I was rapidly despising my father.

Returning after a slight improvement in school results, (Due to the fact I had been dropped a stream at Allan Wilson and I would now be moved to Mount Pleasant co-ed as ‘punishment’ for wasting Fathers money at the Tech-High, had cheered me up no end!) was definitely a bad move. I had channelled my creative abilities into my passion for gymnastics at M.P. School and found the whole scouting thing a tad boring now. I would not stay long, but as you will see, whilst I hadn’t planned such an exit, therefore I would not ‘Be Prepared’; still did not deter me from leaving in a grandiose style. I was a true and worthy example of Lord Baden-Powell’s vision of the British Empires version of the Hitler Jugend.


The Annual General meeting of the (Whites only) 8th Mount Pleasant (Salisbury) Scout Troop. 1974.

It was under a perfect cloudless sky that Friday evening, the stars twinkling so bright, as the parents and visiting dignitaries parked their cars. We had the Cub Scouts there too! Splendidly attired in their freshly ironed (by the maid) uniforms, they guided the cars into the field above the Scout Hall on Morning Side drive, Mercedes to the front, old bangers at the back. Gosh; this was so exciting for us! Almost all the parents (except mine, Father was now dead and there was no way I would invite my step-mother) and the Chief Scout of Mashonaland province would attend. There would be marches and then the Rhodesian Flag would be unrolled. Prayers and then speeches and awards to top Scouts were to be presented. At the end, the Senior Scouts would serve ‘Cheese and Wine’ to all the adults. It was so cool, so simplistic in the joys of manly companionship, so; so
a load of shite!

My good ‘china’, James Deams, and I fucked off as soon as the parents started to arrive. I had set up my portable tape deck in the Quarter Master store behind the back of the hall, Mike Oldfield, ‘Tubular Bells’ blasting out to cover the din of the main hall echoing to the sounds of repetitions of the ‘Scouts Honour’ and boring speeches interspersed with squeaky voices of Cub Scouts rhythmically chanting their cult logo; ‘Dob Dob Dob and Dab Dab Dab, we too daft, to be bad !’

Sipping coke and casting a concernedly eye at the dodgy mains wiring to the cassette player, I had been telling James about my latest and greatest ‘puppies’ adventure.
Lounging across some folded green canvas tents, he prompted me on.

I told him about ‘vraaying’ Gill Grady off, behind Penny Clarke’s parent’s garage at a party two weekends past. I told him we got hitched after that night of passion. James was dead impressed. Asked what sporting activities had been involved, I informed him it had been like a chicken takeaway, I had some breast (rather a lot of it actually), some leg, but no box to put my bone in; besides I didn’t try it, it was the first night and I had been madly in puppy love, making me forty five minutes later than my step-moms imposed returning home time. I had also suffered terribly from lover’s nuts whose frenzied cure had made me half blind.

‘Yeah, but she dumped me after only three days and I heard she was snogging some other wanker at next Saturdays party. I suppose being banned from the next two weekends parties didn’t help.’ ( I had lied to protect my ego. I had actually received via one of her pals a ‘’Dear John’ note during break on Wednesday. That cured my eyesight, but left me deeply scarred emotionally - till I got off with the note giver at the next party!)

James agreed that my ban had been a bit harsh, but there were plenty more parties to come.

By this time I had noticed that the exposed cable ends of one of my twenty odd bits of well stretched extension cable were drawing dangerously close to each other. We suffered under British sponsored sanctions and had no insulation tape. Well; there was some local stuff available, but I wasn’t about to lash out money on unnecessary expenses. If the copper ends touched they would short circuit, maybe plunging the well packed scout hall into darkness, so mindful not to try and make myself unpopular, I grabbed the ones closest to touching and cleverly pulled them apart with my bare fingers.

‘Fuck me!’ I screamed, ‘that hurt,’ the 240 volts making my eyeballs almost jump out my head. Don’t think I try that stunt again. James laughed his head off.

Then we were both called inside to help serve the parents and dignitaries the Cheese snacks and home grown wine, being as we were the highly responsible Senior Scouts. The Cubs were sent outside to play and the other Boy Scouts would mingle around with their Mummies and Daddies and show them their patrol dens, some manky animal skins and dirty Plaster of Paris castings of a horse hoof.
I had always been curious about the effects of alcohol on the human brain and I had presumed that only weak-minded individuals got drunk. Standing behind the long table, I decided to test my theory on myself, since the booze was all free…

I served one for one!

One glass red wine for the adults, one glass red wine for me!
Yes Siree, I drank that stuff like there was no tomorrow.
Tasted like piss and vinegar! Who cared? The more I threw the shit down my throat, the better it tasted and the happier and cleverer I felt. So what’s the big deal, booze is cool if you can handle it? I could handle it. Nothing was happening, I was unique! I would grow up to be the man who never got drunk!

I was drinking as fast I could get the red battery acid out the demy-john bottles and poured gushingly into the small glasses, even though I now started to hear loud voices of whinging disgust from boringly dressed old hags, through the strange noises in my head. (A bit like that roaring sound you hear when you stick your ears in a large sea shell.)

‘A total disgrace, what kind of an example is this Boy Scout setting?’
‘Who is this disgraceful Youngman? This must whole heartedly be condemned!’ Etc etc,
‘Fuck em,’ I drunkenly thought, this was the dog’s bollocks, I could see everyone double now. This was definitely the life for me. I feared nothing, felt super human, beyond reproach…I was God, and my fifteen minutes of fame was here and now.

I drank till the glasses and plates of cheese sandwiches fell out my numb hands and I staggered, completely shit faced drunk, against some appreciative half pissed laughing adults, thoroughly enjoying this Boy Scouts self propelled booze cruise spiralling like a giant rag doll around the hall. Thank God, I had some allies among the growing, braying mob of disgusted protesters.

A couple of responsible Patrol Leaders managed to corner me as I crawled dizzyingly around looking for a place to have a slash, my bladder was bursting from the high speed processing of a couple of galleons of pure gut and brain rot. They inconsiderately threw me outside, just when I wanted to burst into the Boy Scout anthem using as many filthy words possible and left me to the tender mercy of the thoroughly bored Cubs.

THESE little BASTARDS, noticing that I was too incapacitated to defend myself, decided to use me as their latest adventure game and taking full advantage of my complete inability to comprehend what was happening to me, they dragged me (dozens of them, like swarming locusts) to the garden tap. Their twisted infantile minds made them hose me down and roll me with all my proficiency awards; hobbies, swimming, skipping, first aid, wanking, the rare diving badge, in the mud, and then they pushed me back, gyrating a serious wobbly, into the fully packed hall!

As I staggered, soaking wet (I might have pissed myself by now, not that I could notice), covered in sticky mud, playing ‘flipper’ and bouncing off the guests, there were more words of insults and some laughter that penetrated my now strangely loudly ringing ears. However, I was suffering serious problems with my eye sight but attempted to smile at all and sundry as I did a great impression of a drunken Charlie Chaplin walk back to the cheese and wine table. I needed a drink.

Sadly, before I could grab a bottle of the plonk by the neck, I was rudely escorted out again, beaten hard across the face, forced to walk around the hall and between rapidly leaving cars, in what appeared to be some strange ritual to sober me up. Unfortunately, because I was too pissed to ride my bicycle, I was driven home and the back stabbing swines woke my step-mom up. What a wonderful apparition I must have made, strung between two seriously annoyed Boy Scouts, my arms being held around their necks like we were true buddies, mumbling incoherently on buckling legs.

Even in the state I was in, I vaguely understood what she said and I will never forget her words of support, as I slouched, blind drunk, dripping water mixed with recycled red wine and dribbling uncontrollably from my mouth.


I silently thanked God too! The bastard would have flayed me! I was thrown violently on my bed, where I proceeded, still fully dressed, to be very, very sick, and nearly drowned in my own vomit, but I turned my body around till I lay in my own putrid stinking red cesspit, but still able to breathe! I WOULD LIVE…

The next day my step-mom made me clean it up, even from the walls, where somehow I had managed to spray carrots and red wine almost two feet higher than my bed on to two walls; without the maids help. (Cleaning up, not throwing up.)
I had a really bad bad headache.
The stench was appalling, I couldn’t think of anything that smelt quite as bad as I did.
My guts were killing me.
I felt like dying.
to add insult to injury… I had to walk all the way from my house back to the Scout hall to pick up my bicycle, sick as a fucking dog, ALL 3 miles!
I was told by the Scoutmaster, that I was an absolute disgrace
I would not be allowed to take any more of my Chief Scout award tests, till I showed more responsibility or some bollocks like that!

And, I thought, Fuck this for a lark, I was now a real Rhodie man at last, so I resigned from Scouts to pursue a career of drinking and chasing women, this being my true destiny.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Brave new world of a million niches beats the blockbusters.

I came across this article today,,5-2231917,00.html

and it confirmed something I have predicted since the start of the internet. Although the article (it’s an extract from a forthcoming book) only expands on the theme novel writing and publishing about two thirds of the way down, it is worth reading all of it to get the background.

What is very apparent is the continuing collapse of anything ‘mainstream’. I received an interesting Email this morning from a complete stranger commenting that my article ‘The Path’ was my finest piece of writing to date and to quote their words,
‘You may wish to consider, perhaps, the outrageous suggestion that your 'voice' could well turn out to be a tad quieter and more reflective than the joint-and-carling wielding-dj-to-the-cockle-warring-lager louts ;)’.
However, the lunatic story, ‘The Great Welsh Cockles War’, along with ‘The Path’ were both spotlighted on WriteLink, (an on-line writing community) the latter I thought was most definitely one of my weakest works! How odd. You can’t please everyone all the time. (It would be nice if that person contacted me again to chat about this a bit more.)

Should you adjust your writing to suit the audience or should the audience be simply allowed to pick and choose between various styles you write? What is for the writer more satisfying, a thousand people loving one fixed style, or 200 ‘fans’ spread between five completely contrasting approaches to literature. If you prefer the former, are you now not being dictated too? Are you writing to please yourself or to please others? Do you buy a painting for £100 because you like it or spend £20,000 because others like it?

One of the finest examples of this I take from the world of music: David Bowie, whose influence over nearly four decades of musicians is now legendary. One of his nick names is ‘The Chameleon’; an attribute to this mans incredible talent to change his styles. Sometimes, as far as I am concerned, with disastrous results. His work with ‘Tin Machine’ was for my ears, an abominable noise. ‘Let’s Dance’, his only solo number one in the UK, was along with the album, rather ‘mainstream pop’ when it came out in the ‘80s. He made plenty of new fans but unquestionably disappointed his ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ original supporters base.
Undeterred he stuck to his own unique style of NOT having a fixed style. Someone else who equals that stature in my opinion is Madonna. You may not like her personally, but you cannot ignore her great ability to constantly recreate her-self.

I doubt that either Bowie or Madonna is particularly concerned if any of their works bombs. They do what they do because they wanted to and they will continue to experiment in all directions for a very long time to come. I consider that a sign of true creative genius.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sanctions and Recycling.

What a fuss they make in the U.K. “Oh dear, all our landfills are almost full. Goodness me, all these ‘new’ regulations from Europe. What ever happened to the good old days when we just fucked the shit into the Irish Sea, at least it gave the Paddys some flotsam to eat during the potato famine.”

Where I live, in North Wales, besides some rather half hearted attempt by the hotels to toss all glass into a separate bin, everything else goes in the black wheelie. As this is a seaside resort catering to the brain dead of the midlands, there is a proliferation of ‘Made in China’ rubbish shops. The boxes the tons of this plastic crap come in are stuffed with unbounded glee into ever increasing sizes of bins, some now resembling small containers. No effort is made to compress the cardboard so more could fit in; who cares – what you think council tax is for?
Then after the fat kids have been supplied with their plastic buckets and spade sets, guns and fake Barbie dolls from their grossly obese parents (Mum and Dad competing who has the most gut hanging out over the jeans) it’s off to the beach. Then by six in the afternoon the adults are rolling drunk down the high-street followed by screaming brats demanding replacement ‘toys’ as the last lot disintegrated into multicoloured shreds. Still; the good old council will clean it all up!

I will tell you how to cure the people of this nonsense, hit where it hurts; their wallets. Pay; I say and pay out the nose. I tell you about two other lands I lived in and make your own conclusions.

Rhodesia was a rogue state and as a result the international community of goody two shoes with shit for brains slapped sanctions on the land; the idea being that 28 years down the road
they can do it again but in severe moderation in a vain attempt to get the butcher of Zimbabwe to go away. It didn’t work then and the paltry effort imposed now is just worth a few silly lines in left wing rag mags.

Now when I was a boy we had real sanctions; yes siree, they didn’t ban us from travelling like the modern ones, we got jack shit officially from the outside and that made us strong. It became a normal way of life to recycle. This was war and we all mucked in. My Scout troop needed a truck for us lads and all the equipment. So we collected newspapers. Door to door we collected and tied them in huge piles and when there was a large mountain of the stuff threatening to collapse in the hall, it would be picked up and the troop would get two and half cents a kilo. I remember an awful row when I did my axe test between a committee member and the Scout Master. I had chopped a tree down in the Scout Halls premises and this rampant break of conversation rules was severely criticised.
Every home had a tin foil bag. The foil caps on the milk bottles would be washed and collected. We would take the squeezed balls to school where they would receive money from the scrap metal merchants. Every house had compost heap at the bottom of the garden for food scraps. Glass was as precious as diamonds. Every bottle was returned from where it came from. There were no fancy drinking glasses. Ours looked like jam jars; that’s because that was exactly what they were, just had the screw bit smoothed out. The breweries were forced to stop making the popular ‘Dumpies’ a popular 330ml beer bottle shaped somewhat like a Second World War Mill’s hand grenade. Oddly enough, besides the wasteful use of glass, these things were so thin they easily broke and the shards were lethal with both barefoot humans and wildlife receiving horrific cuts to their feet. Even as late as the mid eighties I would purchase a Coke where the contents was the same price as the deposit on the bottle (5 cents) and I would get a kick out of reading worn print such as ‘Bottled by Coca-Cola of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, making that particular bottle forty odd years old!
There was not one tinned beverage. (Besides the best orange juice in the world, Mazoe Bezant.) My friends would sometimes bring a tinned Coke back from a South African holiday and we would look at this thing in wonder.

I remember plastic bags hanging on the washing line! Our family were not poor but plastic bags were a rare commodity. In supermarkets your purchases were put into large recycled brown paper bags. You would never see the country-side ruined by free holdalls flapping from trees.

By 1973 our school note books were made from an off cream/white paper that reacted to our fountain pens like blotting paper and much to our delight we were all allowed to use ball point pens. These were also made in Rhodesia.
Around about 1974 the government calculated they could save over a million dollars of desperately needed foreign currency (approximately 600,000pounds then) by simply repacking cigarettes in recycled paper cardboard boxes with plain labels rather than the fancy foil such as the Benson and Hedges packs. Tobacco was Rhodesia’s biggest forex earner and at the time produced the finest in the world and was the third biggest exporter. Clever men flew around the world making shady deals and whilst we never got a fair price, it gave us the currency to purchase things we could not make – petrol and ammunition. The major tobacco companies refused to go along with the scheme saying it would tarnish their brand image. We didn’t give a shit about image and almost overnight the international brands disappeared to be replaced by new local names such as Kingsgate, Madison and Everest. These brands still exist, albeit in short supply; the farm invasions have reduced tobacco production by 70%.

Brass bullet casings were collected on the rifle range to be melted down, car wrecks were non existent. Rhodesia led the world in mine proof vehicles; you will be amazed what you can do with an ancient VW Beatle chassis!

Plastic toys were almost non-existent; any steel wire found would be turned into the most amazing toy cars by the African population in a perfect 1:20 scale with real moving parts. The steering wheel would protrude out the ‘roof’ and be used by the owner as he steered the prized possession around. Beaten flat old nails or other bits of scrap iron would be used to make Mbira instruments (see pic) and rubber tyres were converted into sandals, old inner-tubes made everything from catapults to just about the best way to strap things down onto a bicycle or car rack.

Rhodesian made vinyl LP records with recycled paper covers; all rare collectables now and the largest denomination note of ten dollars would be the cost of a night out with the girlfriend in a top class restraint, (hah hah, stupid spell checker, I meant restaurant ) not a wheelbarrow full of 50.000 Zimbabwe dollars needed now.

We became the recycle entrepreneurs of the world, a skill recognised by the dozens of lands that welcomed the ethnically cleansed White Rhodesians. Show me a rubbish tip - I’ll show you a fitted kitchen. We had no rubbish - we HAD the cleanest and most self sufficient land in Africa!

Bavaria, the wealthiest state of West Germany became my home for two decades. Even with zero understanding of the culture or language, I fitted in perfectly, as there was something about this spotlessly clean land and disciplined population that sub-consciously appealed to me. Recycling was relatively easy to install into their mind set. I became so use to separating the rubbish; I cannot even recall when it became law. Bringing things to the depot was always a treasure hunt and amongst some of the gems I picked up was a pair of large stunning Marantz speakers, there casings of wood putting the modern counterparts to shame. A quick assessment to the reason of their disposal concluded that the rubber around the main bass speaker had perished. For the cost of £3 for a plaster’s replacement sponge pad, cut into strips and a tube of silicon had them singing sweet as pie again.
When the loony socialists of Gerhard Schroeder took over nine years ago, the coalition government automatically gave their Green party members the environment portfolio. Some of the policies were down right bizarre, but some produced interesting results. A carrot and stick approach to household rubbish had anyone with a small garden install a container to create their own compost and even though we were a family of four, the smallest wheelie bin on the market would be only half full when it was emptied every fortnight. You needed bigger bins: you paid for it big time. Laws were passed to make car manufacturers take back their old models and minimum limits of recycled materials had to be part of a new vehicle’s construction. Roof drain pipes had adapters installed to pass rain water into large barrels, the water used for the garden, saving on both water and the stealth ‘water disposal’ tax.

A forced deposit on tinned beverages created a twelve month chaos which resulted in almost the complete obliteration of all forms of canned drinks. What riled the German public was that unlike their British counterparts; outside of a public gathering such as the ‘Love Parade’ or a pop concert, they didn’t have a tendency to throw the empty tins around the streets or country side. The beverage manufacturers instead cleverly created a recyclable plastic bottle with deposit. The beer bottle was pure brilliance, having a screw top and double walls that kept the contents cool and fresh.

More must be done to teach the British public the benefits of recycling; the celebrity obsessed youth should be guided by their idols (after they been trained and paid) and the charge of disposing rubbish considerably raised. However, the government along with the local councils, must also make more effort.

It doesn’t help much when the seaside resort where I live has only one allocated spot for a few bottle and paper bins. ALL supermarkets should have them in their car parks. Nearly all large shops in Germany actually have special bins where you can immediately strip the packing and leave it there. And the packing must also be tuned into saving the planet and not just catching the eye of the beholder.