Saturday, December 23, 2006


Oh, go on then, bloody hell

Many years ago my uncle Pete decided to start up an apiary. Ignoring the disparaging remarks from his friends and family that he’d never find enough chimpanzees and gorillas to fill it, he did some research and before long had built up quite a collection of bees. There were big ones and small ones and some medium ones as well. I always felt he’d rather missed the point of the whole enterprise, though, as his apiary consisted of a corkboard glued on the wall of his garden shed with dead bees Sellotaped to it.

Except that’s not entirely true, as he didn’t have a garden shed, nor did he collect bees. As a matter of fact I never had an Uncle Pete either. I relate this story to illustrate the life lesson that fiction is quite often duller than the truth, especially when it’s my fiction, not that I tell the truth often enough to provide a basis for comparison. So when you tell lies, do so flamboyantly.

Oh, and bees - sting - Stingray - car - Chrysler - Chrysler building - Art Deco, in case you were wondering.

See, I told you this would be a killer post. If you’re not dead of boredom then my credibility at least is shot through the heart.

Now I really am off.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


That was the year that was

The Fishwhacker Swindle? is a year old today. As those of you whose birthdays fall around this time of year will know, Christmas tends to eclipse this momentous event. Please don't wish me a happy blogday; I can't bear that word.

It's been a good year, all told. I started this blog on a whim one evening after spending some time irritating people in the comments sections of their blogs. In the beginning I had no idea what to post about and decided that swearing and shouting was a way to get attention. Over the year I've posted some things I still rather like when I reread them, as well as some spectacular duds. But I wouldn't delete any of it.

Now, I constantly have ideas for posts, but no longer the time to give blogging the attention it requires. It's not just writing the posts, it's responding to the comments and doing justice to posts on other people's blogs, and I just can't keep up.

This isn't a last testament from a deathbed, but rather an apologia from the blogging equivalent of an elderly man who can no longer rise to the occasion, as it were, as regularly and satisfyingly as before. What I mean is, I'm having to slow down. This site will stay up, but posting will be sporadic, as in monthly, quarterly, annually or however it pans out. I'll still haunt your blogs from time to time and crop up in the comments like a dog humping your leg (or, more appropriately, chewing your foot).

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Foot Eater

Saturday, December 16, 2006


A Christmas tale

Timmy was a star pupil,
A beacon at his school;
He’d outperform each boy and girl
And never play the fool.

His sums were always quite correct,
His drawings made one gasp.
There was but one minor subject
Which Timmy failed to grasp –

At maths and science he’d excel,
But sadly, clever Tim
For the life of him could not spell!
It truly flummoxed him.

There, their or they’re? he’d ask himself,
Sine, sign? Mane, main or mean?
He’d pore o’er heath, hearth, heart and health
While pikking his nose kleen.

‘Who cares?’ he’d laugh. ‘Spelling is gay.
It means nothing to me.’
His dumbed-down teachers, sad to say,
Could do naught but agree.

When Yuletide drew near, Timothy
To Father Christmas wrote:
‘I wont a Soany PSP,
A mobyl fone, a bote,

A kar, a plain, a spais roket,
A laptopp with brawdband.’
He sealed the letter and stamped it,
And sent it to Lapland.

On Christmas Eve he couldn’t sleep.
He lay in bed, listening
For noise of Santa’s stealthy creep
Down chimney, gifts bearing.

At midnight he sat up in bed
Straining hard with his ears;
And through the darkness came the tread
Of heavy foot on stairs.

The door swung wide and Timmy screamed,
Seized with unholy fear;
The foulest nightmare ever dreamed
Was standing laughing there:

Red Santa clothes it wore, and beard,
All matted, grey and rank;
From its fanged maw small serpents reared;
Of charnel house it stank.

Its face, blasted, blemished, pockmarked,
Encrusted with green pus,
Held eyes dull yellow in the dark.
It commenced speaking, thus:

‘Don’t look so shocked, my wee laddie!’
(Advancing without pause.)
‘I’m here because you wrote to me –
My name is Santa Claws.’

That was Timmy’s last Christmas; so,
Take care and learn to spell;
Or, boys and girls, next ‘Ho, ho, ho,’
Might be your last as well!

Thursday, December 14, 2006



Nobody mention bees or Art Deco in the next few posts on your blog, please. I have a killer post planned and I'd appreciate it if you didn't steal my thunder.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


What I did on my holiday

Last weekend I was on a mini-break at an unspecified Atlantic island resort when the manager of the hotel came up to me. 'Mr Eater,' he said, 'I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to stop urinating in the swimming pool.'

I haven't felt such outrage since I was six years old and wanted to join the Scouts but my parents sent me to that Satanic cult instead.

'What are you on about?' I asked. 'Everyone urinates in the swimming pool.'

'Yes, but from the diving board?'

Thursday, December 07, 2006



If I were filthy, stinking rich, I wouldn’t squander my fortune on fast cars in St Tropez, opulent Alpine skiing jaunts or Malibu condos.


I would buy a castle. A huge, crumbling castle somewhere in Scotland or Ireland or perhaps somewhere on the Continent such as Germany or Eastern Europe. And in this castle I would indulge my tastes for the Victorian, the Gothic, the mediaeval.

Much of the castle would be left in disrepair. There would be wings I never set foot in, for my future offspring to explore to their hearts’ delight, full of secret panels and trapdoors and dusty rooms containing nothing but a table and a mysterious lamp.

The castle would have an enormous entrance hall hung with paintings by Turner, Goya and the Pre-Raphaelites. The dining room would flaunt a huge oaken table at which my bride and I would partake of candle-lit suppers under the gaze of The Lady of Shalott.

The library would be soaked in books, leatherbound volumes whose spines I would be afraid to crack for fear of spilling the riches within. An attendant would hover silently to grant my wishes but disappear when I so required. With the finest brandy at my elbow I would pore over ancient grimoires for hours until the sputtering candles burned low.

My lady and I would live in the upper floors. The lower ones would be given over to the staff, who would be discreet and reticent when serving us but in return would be permitted Bacchanalian rampages in the castle’s depths during their spare time.

A room would be given over to mechanical contraptions of astonishing invention; another, to advanced chemistry facilities and experiments. A third, perhaps a long narrow hall, would contain stuffed creatures from the four corners of the earth, from the humblest shrew to the mightiest ursine predator.

Before the castle would plunge a valley forested with pine, through whose snow-drowned slopes wild beasts would lope and bay in the winter’s night.

Behind the castle would rise terrifying black mountains from whose summits at intervals massive sheets of ice would plummet and crash like frozen waterfalls.

Modern conveniences would be retained where necessary. There would be electric lighting, 21st century plumbing and wireless broadband internet access, as well as a home cinema which would feature regular screenings of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari among numerous others.

Great parties we would throw in full mediaeval dress, with an abundance of meat and wine and live music provided by Jethro Tull.

My love and I would stand atop the castle’s ramparts in the fury of a summer’s storm, she in billowing chiffon and I in gleaming hat and tails, and I would play the violin until I woke the gods.


Not filler, no, never

Dissatisfied with the name your parents gave you? Spare a thought for these poor souls.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I don't think so

’Tis the season to be jolly. So, in the spirit of Scrooge, I offer up five things everyone else seems to adore but which I hate. In my Renaissance Man way I’m covering the categories of food, drink, cinema, literature and art.

Sundried tomatoes. What the fuck. Acrid, chewy little horrors that look like Granny’s desiccated labia and taste like something dead and left to rot in a swamp. People seem to use them to give a pretentious, ooh-la-la piquancy to just about every dish these days. Would Sir like a sundried tomato liqueur with his sundried tomato porridge? Evil shit.

Lager. Flavourless, pissy and fight-provoking, this truly is a drink for the great unwashed, who would do better to bathe in it, preferably near a naked flame; or it could be used to treat people who have taken an overdose, since it usually seems to end up back on the outside of a drinker’s gastrointestinal tract. On the rare occasion I'm forced to drink it, I’m overwhelmed afterwards by feelings of dirtiness and self-hate. It is not beer.

Fight Club. One of the worst films ever made, this waste of celluloid is all the more risible for taking itself so seriously. The so-called plot twist is one of the corniest and most predictable in recent years, in the same league as the one from the also crap and overrated The Sixth Sense. If you get your rocks off watching ninety minutes’ worth of men punching each other mindlessly or, more suspiciously given that it’s a ‘lad’s film’, half-naked, sweaty and breathing heavily, then this is the flick for you.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. You what? A tedious sub-John Fowles ‘thriller’ by an author with a name like a misspelled harlot, about a bunch of wanky students who when they’re not disappearing up their own arses are wallowing in a weird orgy of academic narcissism with their Andy Warhol-like tutor. Loved by students, schoolkids who are looking forward to being students, people who are jealous about not being students, and would-be philosophers who read far more meaning into it than it warrants, this is worth ploughing through only when you’re drunk or stoned and laughing all the way - at it, not with it (it’s ball-achingly humourless). I won’t give away the plot, but I do wish more of the characters had died. Hell, I almost wished I had died when I realised I was only halfway through it.

Jackson Pollock. I’ve produced more ‘significant’, ‘relevant’ ‘art’ in a similar vein down my toilet bowl at the end of a night’s hurling. He was a drunk, an onanist and a fraud, and his dad couldn’t even spell Pillock on the birth certificate.

And yes, Andraste did something similar a while ago on the topic of music. I’m thinking of renaming this blog The Thieving Magpie, or perhaps The Scouser.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Desert Island Discs

BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs has long been a favourite of mine, smug middle-classer that I am. (For foreigners: the British middle classes are the rulers of the world, although middle-classers who use the word foreigner unironically as I just have are class traitors and completely confused.) Anyway. For the last God knows how many years DID has been presented by Sue Lawley, but she had to relinquish the role a few months ago because she retired or died or something. Kirsty Young picked up the mantle.

Now Kirsty is hot property. She’s blonde, undeniably pretty, and possessed of a deliciously throaty, sexy Scottish voice that cannot fail to stimulate a throbbing in the groin of any man, even if he is an ancient one-legged bullshitter like this. She’s had some good guests in her short tenure, not least Stephen King, who proved himself to be an immensely witty and likeable man as well as a fellow of impeccable musical tastes. Anybody who would take both Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to a desert island and immerse himself in their outpourings is my kind of chap.

However. A few weeks ago Kirsty had the triple-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal on the show. Apparently he runs the best restaurant in the world. Myself, I like to eat food, not art, but what the fuck do I know. Blumenthal was talking about his early days and, as usually happens nowadays with Radio Four presenters, Kirst interrupted him rudely:

‘Then you became an office furniture salesman. Soul-destroying work.’

It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. And it pissed me right off. I have a friend in his early sixties who is really and truly an office furniture salesman, and he loves his job and dreads the day when he will be forced to retire. But to a pampered, cosseted, closeted media type like Kirsty Young, salesmanship is soul-destroying. Deriving a wage from a source away from the public teat is soul-destroying. Earning a living by repetitive, sweat-inducing slog is soul-destroying. Any line of work other than that of flitting around in the delusional smoke-and-mirrors world of the fucking BBC is soul-destroying.

Kirsty, you’re in your mid-thirties. Get a grip and grow up. Get your hands dirty. Try working to an alarm clock every morning, and try accepting work that you don’t really want to do, just for one week. I know it’s hard, love, and your stylist and Sushi chef won’t be impressed. But your self esteem will be boosted no end. And that’s the point.

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