Friday, July 31, 2009

Basil Fawlty Moment #3: RyanAir

I’ve just booked some flights with RyanAir, and I used to love RyanAir, but not any more. I used to plan great journeys involving getting up at 3:30am, travelling through several different countries, running between bus stations and airports and only ever taking hand luggage, just so as I could use RyanAir flights to get to my ultimate destination and thereby save £20. But now it seems they’re getting sneakier and sneakier: “ţigănie” they’d call it here – “Gypsy business”. There are lots of boxes where you must select (or, more cleverly, deselect) stuff, and each thing you want puts an extra £10 on the price. Here’s your RyanAir webpage these days:


Flight F666: East Burnage “Liam Gallagher” Airport 04:55am – Zgzygrxysk 07:45am - £1

Please select the following options:

On your RyanAir flight would you like to eat: 1) Nothing except your fingernails 2) A blueberry muffin for £3.99 3) A cheese sandwich for £4.99 4) Your words (boom boom!)

On your RyanAir flight would you like the air stewards and stewardesses to be: 1) Well-trained, courteous professionals 2) Slags 3) Leprosy sufferers 4) Deaf

On your RyanAir flight would you like to breath: 1) Air 2) Carbon Dioxide 3) The exhaust from the engine 4) Zyklon B

Upon arrival at your destination, would you like the baggage control staff to: 1) Process your baggage carefully and efficiently 2) Send your skis to Addis Ababa just for a laugh 3) Practice penalty shootouts in their smoking room with any small packages you’ve checked in labelled “FRAGILE” 4) Not even bother coming in to work that day

Would you like to pay for your tickets with: 1) A credit or debit card, or perhaps a postal order or a bank transfer 2) RyanAir’s special “Favoured Customer” Platinum account (interest rate %105 per month) 3) Your family silver 4) Your life

If you’ve selected all No. 1s then the bill is now £51 and that’s just one-way. You’ll wish you’d flown cheesyJet instead.

Right, well, don’t say I haven’t warned you – this time I’m going to give you a damn good thrashing!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Name That Cat!


I felt it was time for something light-hearted after the white-hot intensity of the last few offerings. Yes, lacking issue of their own, the Dilos have gone gaga over a couple of walking-stomachs that present themselves at the door and for a bit of nosh will purr and chase balls of wool etc like complete tarts. Apart from needing food they also need names, and as I reckon I can make a bob from fellow felophiles I’m asking you, The Blogging Public, to choose the names! Just send me your choice with a postal order for £4.99 (or tins of Scoff-a-lot Venison Chunks in Bovril to the equivalent value) and you could win.... a kitten!!


Definitely a male of the species, as he has an enormous pair of testicles of which he is (rightly) very proud. Absurdly friendly given he’s supposed to be feral and out and about pawing giant herring skeletons out of trash cans like on Top Cat. Choose from these names:

Tanu: Derived from “Motan”, meaning “tomcat”. Definitely the hardest name here and one he’d have to work hard to live up to, by taunting bulldogs and humiliating policemen (again, like on Top Cat).

Pufi: Pronounced “Poofy”, means “fluffy”... the least hardest name here. “If you have to get a cat, get one the same colour as your carpet” my Grandmother might have said. The fluff emanating from X is pretty much the same as our carpet, keeping cleaning chores to a minimum, so, thanks Gran.

Stinker: A name he’s already earned by his own efforts. Though fastidiously clean most of the time he “loses it” in moments of great excitement and the stench cannot be removed by any known means. Nothing wrong with those testicles then.


The girlfriend/sister/mother of X, and apparently those things are not mutually exclusive... moving swiftly on... Has large tummy and prominent teats, so already pregnant, which explains why she likes the diet of salami, toast, spaghetti and taramasalata Mrs Dilo feeds her. Choose from these names:

Ţuţica: Derived from the Hungarian “Macska” (meaning “cat”), via Transylvanian dialect “Mâţa” (from the Hungarian, meaning “cat”), diminutivised and feminised to “Ţica”, pet-ified to “Ţuţica”. Obvious, really.

Musette: Apparently it’s from The Aristocats. I’m not convinced Y speaks French, but it does display a certain, classy, sang froid in situations not involving the opening of the fridge door.

Kitty DeLuxe: When in an ecstasy of wanting dinner starts wiggling about with eyes half-closed like an adult film actress. Also the name of the character memorably played by the lovely Megan Dodds in BBC TV’s Viva Blackpool.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

R U Bonkers? #3


Chapter 2: What's My Line?

Right, you’ve found yourself institutionalised, been drafted onto the Acute Department football team and now you’ve got to make yourself at home. Lesson two is: Every psychiatric patient needs a gimmick. If you haven’t got one you might just as well be sitting at home in your underpants or in a pub all afternoon staring into a glass of warm lager. You could for instance be The One Who Dresses Up As His Mother or The One Who Eats Insects or The One Who Believes He Is The Messiah or perhaps The One Where Rachel and Phoebe Disinter People and Turn Their Body Parts into Household Ornaments (that’s “Friends” – Ed.). But these have already been done. Hopefully you’ll think up a new one, one that’s really “you”. Here are some top ideas to try out:

The One Who Talks to the Goldfish

Everybody needs somebody to talk to, and sometimes the psychotherapists are So Rubbish that you turn elsewhere. The hospital cat might pretend it’s listening to you but it’s not a reliably captive audience. That’s why if you’ve got any sense, you’ll pull up a chair next to the fish tank. And don’t worry, you’re not “interrupting” just because your friend’s mouth is still opening and closing your mouth when you want to say something.

The One Who Plays Chess with Himself

(And it’s definitely himself, by the way). Chess players are plain strange, and I myself spent a bit time playing it when young. But to be weirder even than Bobby Fischer you need to go beyond the paranoia by eliminating actual competition. As with other forms of masturbation, solo chess is self-satisfying and self-congratulatory and, most importantly, you’d be even more autistic if you didn’t do it.

The One Who Thinks He's a Robot

Former computer programmer, natch. Again, I’ve fulfilled this function so feel I can speak with impunity. A standard process of psychological disintegration is observed: 1. Admiration (they’re just so smart, and clean, aren’t they!), 2. Sexual Attraction (I take my laptop to bed to play Solitaire but end up falling asleep cuddling it!), 3. Rejection (why don’t girls like me now?), 4. Identification (only computers understand me!), 5. Bonkers (Look into my eyes... see where the circuitry is wrong! No, don’t touch me with wet hands!!!)

The One Who Swallows Light bulbs

To recapture that inner glow, that spark of life, that radiance you felt you lost when you had your breakdown, why not swallow light bulbs? Start by swallowing them when they’re not switched on, to get the hang of it; then wait till Christmas and pop a couple off of the tree in your mouth whilst nobody’s looking - the transformer will ensure that you’ll only get a slight tingle inside (the flashing ones make it even more tingly); then work your way up to 60W Osrams and 3’ long neons. Soon you have an act that you can take on stage and they’ll let you out knowing you can find a place for yourself in the outside world! Hurrah!!!

The cheery song ending this chapter is The Velvet Underground’s “I Heard Her Call My Name" - about 28 seconds into this rather distracted young chap’s home video – which has got me through many a night.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TV Transylvania #4

In a last-ditch attempt I finally got in touch with the Director General: I made myself up to look like one of his squeezes and sauntered as slinkily as I could into the Trans TV mansion hoping to curry his favours. He said he hadn’t received my previous suggestions for TV programmes, would immediately fire all his secretarial staff, had a new position for me and felt sure I could handle it. It was ghastly. But then I hit him with my brilliant idea and he stopped trying to remove my Moldovan peasant bodice - 24 very small buttons, ladies, not so stupid after all - with his horrible hairy hands. The idea is this: Romanians don’t need new TV programmes – they’re still watching reruns of Dallas, waiting to see if it was still just Bobby’s dream - but we can make programmes to sell abroad. Cheap labour costs and low production values ensure we can make anything more cheaply here. Here’s my first programme idea, triggered by comments on Lulu’s blog about my wife’s regrettable attitude towards lower life forms:


A knockout competition, where each week several contestants vie for this title. The format will be based on the hugely entertaining (and cheap) British TV programme Banzai and, as there, will be narrated by the great Burt Kwouk and is in no way intended to be an accurate depiction of the way people from Asia or anywhere else really speak etc etc etc:

Contestant 1: Look like baldy bloke from Bucharest but he say he Tibetan spiritual leader! Live in luxury penthouse monastery, spend disciples’ money on beer and say to world leaders not to visit him as he don’t give shit about their problems – yeah, he Lama With Bad Karma!!!

Contestant 2: He say he “Vlad Impaler Number 2” and carry big spike of wood around with him – look proper plonker! Ha ha ha!! Say he going make kebab with giant panda, Siberian tiger and very endangered Javan rhino - if you do matey you coming back as a worm for sure!!!

Contestant 3: This one say he Richard Gere and want to be Buddhist, but he make stupid films for girls and stick a hamster up his jacksie - that not in teachings of Awakened One... you go back to California Freaky Man, even World's Worst Buddhist too good for you!!!

Contestant 4: This one Mrs Dilo; in daytime work as nurse but when has day off she sure no angel!! Today she squash 5 snails, 3 frogs, throw brick at dickey bird, punch cute bunny rabbit in face and kick little baby dog across street – she don’t care nuffing!!!!!

OK. Test 1 is break paving slabs on head for 10 minutes like Shaolin monk while chanting sacred mantra “Steven Seagal world’s best Buddhist and movie actor” without being sick, going to toilet or crying for your mummy.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Basil Fawlty Moment #2: “Romania - The Land of Choice”

To encourage tourism this country has decided to re-brand itself. Yeah, and that’s the snappy title it came up with. Somebody got paid for thinking of that? (The previous slogan was "Simply Surprising" - !) As Mrs Dilo says pithily, "Yes, in this land you can choose to eat either a potato or a beetroot”. I had another Basil Fawlty moment. So, as I’ve become obsessed by lists - give me a subject, any subject, I’ll give you a 10-point list about it, easy - here are 10 better epithets. I’m not claiming they’re especially funny, but I hardly needed to break into a sweat thinking them up, which is the point. There’s a couple of pointless rhyming ones for starters:

The Land of James Joyce

Joycie never made it here, but he did work for some time in Pula - a town in Croatia - which is also the worst swearword in the Romanian language. He’d have liked that.

The Land of Max Boyce

Boycie never made it here either, as far as I know; but we have rugby, sheep, and lots of prime cowshit for him to grow his giant leeks in.

This Land Is Your Land

Soap-dodging American protest singer Woody Guthrie also never got here. Maybe just as well: his anthem about land rights might have been misunderstood in a country whose 1930s fascists took to wearing symbolic bags of soil around their necks.

Get Orff Moy Laaaand!!

Viz Magazine’s Farmer Palmer would look a daft bastard: each farm is so small that any trespasser would have walked to the other side of it before he’d finished that final vowel. We’ve plenty of work for The Fat Slags though.

The Promised Land

If you've been promised that you can come and live in this country, we'll support you, as long as you get the Gypsies and Hungarians to move on. Milk and honey provided. Live The Dream.

Land of Hope and Glory

Nadia Comăneci, Ilie Năstase, rabies vaccine, the discovery of insulin, the world’s first unassisted-take-off aeroplane flight in 1906, the world’s first jet aeroplane in 1910....

World of Leather

The crumpled, smelly, black leather jacket is the traditional costume of the proletarian Romanian who’s built all of Spain and Italy’s patios with his special “Moldovan Mix” concrete made to a secret recipe of sawdust, dog bones and cornflakes.

Lands on its Feet

Despite amazingly low wages, low manners and the low esteem in which they are held abroad, Romanians muddle along with surprisingly low levels of suicide, self-consciousness and self-questioning.

The Land that Time Forgot

This is the obvious one for f**k’s sake. Horse-drawn carts in towns, oxen-drawn ones in the hills... an embarrassment to Romanians, but western tourists love this kind of shit! Throw in the funny costumes, cute furry animals and cheap booze and the Tourist Board should wake up to the fact they’re sitting on a bucolic Las Vegas.

Manuel, let me explain:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Memorable Books


Gaw and others have recently been answering the challenge to list books that have “influenced your thinking, that you have found yourself referring to most often in reflection, speech, and writing”. (I suspect this game was originally meant for people writing professionally and whose opinions actually matter.... but that didn’t stop me, oh no....)

Ulysses by James Joyce

Ok, sorry, an appallingly pretentious first choice. A third of the way in I thought Joyce the most arrogant and annoying of writers, but for some reason I persevered and became enthralled. It’s the occasional speeches, vignettes and descriptions which most stay in the mind, and it’d be a shame to analyse why.

Omeros by Derek Walcott

Another work with a Homeric theme: Helen as the symbol of beauty that men must fight over, but transferred it to the island of St. Lucia. An epic poem which superbly combines wordcraft and pungent depiction of West Indian life. Two years later Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

A book which taught me a little (I dare to hope) about growing into manhood. Others had Robert Louis Stevenson or Hemmingway, perhaps, but this story about single-mindedness, pursuit and the overcoming of fear – and the consuming madness of it all – helped fill a gap in my education.

The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins

A Jesuit priest who wrote in secret and in a very intense, innovative style compared to his Victorian contemporaries. In addition to religious themes his depictions of nature are exquisite. He resurrected a more “vigorous” Anglo-Saxon prosody and wasn’t afraid to chop English syntax down to convey maximum effect.

The Poems of John Donne

I love metaphysics, me! Even though I still don’t really understand what the word means. I enjoy the almost transgressive way Donne treats concepts and emotions as palpable entities, which he can then manipulate as he wishes. Oh, and there’s quite a bit of smut in there as well.

The Poems of Robert Lowell

A manic depressive, drunken, disaster of a man, perhaps, but for me maybe the best post-WW2 English-language poet. He could do free verse, but whilst others were splurging out whatever entered their heads he also realised the power of formalisms, mastered them, and made them fresh and exciting.

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart

A novel about being in love, even when that love rides roughshod over morality and common-sense. To make her point Smart weaves in bits of other literature, like the sexier bits from The Song Of Songs. It’s also a book that turned me onto the tricky genre of prose poetry…..

Our Lady of The Flowers by Jean Genet

Written about the same time (1943) as Grand Central and another work using poetic language. But it’s about transvestites. Genet, having been frequently in prison and doing his best writing there, also showed disregard for boundaries: Jean-Paul Sartre called it "the epic of masturbation". Tasteful!

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The books of Carson McCullers affected me a lot when I was young. They’re set in the Southern States of the U.S.A. and involve outsiders: deaf-mutes, dwarves, transgendered people, and those who simply feel they don’t fit in. All done with great empathy. The Ballad of The Sad Café is another good 'un.

The Good Soldier Schweik by Jaroslav Hašek

Great satire. Schweik is a little man who deals in stolen dogs, but as a Austro-Hungarian citizen in 1914 he’s drafted into World War I. He appears to have good intentions but is hilariously incompetent and the frustration of all who have to deal with him - I rather identified with him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

R U Bonkers? #2

As my “homey” Andy would say: WARNING: THERE NOW FOLLOWS A FOOTBALL POST. (Though I don’t actually know squat about it, so don’t worry). The two newest and keenest guests here are the très sportif Messrs Gaw and Brit, so to encourage them here’s my first (and possibly only) post about footy.


Many people ask at one time or another “Where do I fit in??” It is for this reason that structures are created, and people are employed to impose them. Football is such a structure, and with some tracksuited goon on the sidelines shouting at you to run somewhere or stop falling over (that’s start falling over, now - Ed.) you’ve no need to question the point of your existence. Mental health professionals also know this. So, using my own experiences and still aiming to destigmatise being a pork pie short of a picnic, here’s my Fantasy Football 11, comprising only psychiatric patients or those who should have been.

(NB: My knowledge of The Beautiful Game comes from a golden 4-4-2 era when players had to walk to away games and the ball was filled with gravel before each match. I make no apology for this. Also, these days players taking the field appear to have numbers greater than 11 on their backs. They are clearly homosexuals. I neither know nor want to know what any of this is all about.)

No. 1 David Icke: Actual former professional goalie and actual nutter, bless him.

No. 2 Spike Milligan (bipolar disorder): The original Goon(-er), and so, as my memory of how Arsenal play is 1970s-based, he’d be very defensively minded.

No. 3 Ronnie Kray (paranoid schizophrenia): Ruthless psycho in central defence, and definitely a “man-marker” if you know what I mean.

No. 4 Ian Curtis (depression, not helped by epilepsy): Former Joy Division frontman. Not a great mover so stick him at the back. And with his knowledge of divisions generally he’d be able to tell me what the flip “The Premiership” and “The Championship” are.

No. 5 Paul Merton (episode of hallucinating persecution by The Freemasons): With his one straight look at the audience he always gets people on his side. He could do that to the ref, just like that slimy Cristiano Ronaldo did to our Mr Wayne Rooney.

No. 6 Paulo Coelho (his parents had him committed, age 17): Wrote a novel called The Alchemist, so we're expecting a little magic from him. Oh, and he’s from Brazil.

No. 7 Buzz Aldrin (depression): Lent his name to a video game called “Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space” which shows how to intelligently get on the end of long balls and crosses.

No. 8 Steven Fry (major depressive disorder, allegedly): Don't get me wrong I love Sir Steven as much as anyone, but he’s seen the insides of prisons rather than hospitals so maybe he’s more bad than mad. And he’s a slacker. Dr Dilo prescribes “Football Therapy”.

No. 9 Lt. Colonel Oliver “Iran-Contras scandal” North (mental breakdown 1974): Ran naked through the streets at the time, so would be a natural striker (that’s “streaker” – Ed.)

No. 10 Morrissey (he certainly sounds a bit depressed): We need a big, magnetic No. 10, and Mozzer will do a job for us. Oh, and he’s from Manchester.

No. 11 Bill Oddie (clinical depression): As an ornithologist he’d be good on the wings - (Geddit?!!??!)

As you can see we’re going to win everything in sight. This chapter’s closing song is by the inestimable Napoleon XIV. “Napoleon” would be a great sobriquet for a footballer – better than “Kaká”, certainly - though I’m not convinced that even a number 14 shirt has an place on any substitutes’ bench.