Friday, June 26, 2009

Dark Night of the Soul #3: Mein Kampf

This seems to have been a popular subject on several of our blogs recently, so here goes... Everyone has their own personal struggle; Adolf Hitler’s – if only he’d left it at that - was with farting, and to stop it his quack doctor prescribed little black pills containing dangerous substances like strychnine and antropine. The Führer's over use of these probably accounted for his increased irascibility and losing the war. When I first arrived in Romania I had my own gastric struggle; the food here is very heavy - “peasant cuisine” makes it sound more glamorous than it is – and my mother-in-law is a woman who doesn’t understand “no”. I was in hell. After 3 days I phoned the Guinness Book of Records*:

Me: Hello, can I speak to Ross McWhirter, please?
Girl: I’m afraid he’s no longer with us, sir
Me: What, you mean he’s gone off and formed a rival Book of Records??
Girl: No, I mean he’s dead.
Me: How old was he?
Girl: He was 50
Me: Well, that’s not much of a rec…
Girl: He was assassinated by the IRA
Me: Oh I see, sorry. What about the other…
Girl: Mr Norris is also no longer with us – maybe I can help you?
Me: Yes, maybe you can, you see I’ve been constipated for three days now and I was wondering if this is a record
Girl: Have you been eating Romanian food, sir?
Me: Yes of course I have! My mother-in-law keeps shovelling it down me and I can’t get it out again!
Girl: We get this a lot. Well, the record for being constipated whilst eating Romanian food is very long; in fact the McWhirters thought it would probably never be broken.
Me: How long?
Girl: 3 weeks, 2 days, 24 minutes and 49 seconds
Me: What?? Oh good grief! I must go to toilet sooner than that, I must I must I must….
Girl: Sorry
Me: Tell you what though, I’ve stopped eating food altogether now as I can’t get any more in – what’s the record for not having a dump whilst eating nothing at all?
Girl: Probably 94 days: Cork Prison hunger strike, 1920. The Irish republican movement had the last word on that as well.
Me: (gulp)
Girl: Might I suggest you see a doctor, sir?
Me: They’d laugh at me
Girl: Well, you seem to be an intelligent person, perhaps you could find a scientific answer yourself; you could start by sitting down and working it out with a pencil.
Me: Yes, well, you’re right of course, I’ll go and get a pencil and some paper and…. Oh, I see, ha ha, very funny

So, that was a waste of a phone call. But I’m happy to report that time and Turd-Purge Plus** eventually worked their special magic, and the situation has since then largely been avoided by feigning sleep/death/madness when the fourth course is plonked in front of me. I’ve still no idea how the IRA got so involved in all this though. To finish, here’s the best - possibly the only – song ever written about constipation; Screamin’ Jay Hawkins telling it like it is, accompanied (for some bizarre reason) by Serge Gainsbourg:

* I couldn't find a clip of the BBC programme Record Breakers with them on, but here from American TV (1:20 minutes in) are The McWhirters.

** New improved formula with plutonium sulphate. (I also tried Recto-Rout and Shit Shifter but frankly they just weren’t up to the job.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Undersea World of Gadj Dileau

The best thing about my recent Mallorcan holiday was leaving the girls on the beach nattering about knitting patterns or Emmerdale or whatever and donning my snorkel, mask and flippers and striding into the inky, bottomless, widow-making ocean... full fathom five thy father lies, of his bones are coral made... pretending I was Jacques Cousteau or Sean Connery in Thunderball or perhaps Jürgen Prochnow off of Das Boot. I may be a newcomer to this activity but that hasn’t stopped me compiling an authoritative list about it:


1: No fish, however exotic, looks like a used condom. They’re easy to catch but really not worth the bother.

2: Jellyfish stuck in your snorkel? Stop sucking!

3: Snorkellers are a silent fraternity: if you wave to them either they’ll not see or they’ll think you’re a twat.

4: Your snorkel says a lot about you – everything, in fact, when you’re cruising, “periscope up” - so make sure you get one that’s handsomely proportioned and in this year’s fashions.

5: If there’s no fish, it’s not an unlucky day - you’re near an industrial waste pipe or a nuclear power station.

6: Develop a birdwatcher’s mindset: be as happy to see three different types of small grey fish as you’d be to see one enormous red and blue stripy one.

7: Resist the temptation to undo swimmers’ bathing costumes, even they appear to be fastened with a simple cord within arm’s reach.

8: Don’t go out expecting to find either sunken treasure or your dinner: you’ll be lucky to come back with an interesting bit of seaweed.

9: You can get really close to a shag: see where it’s perched on the rock, cruise up at periscope depth then resurface about a meter away!

10: Dive quickly flicking your flippers in the air: this makes you look like a dolphin, persuading women you’re a sensitive and beautiful creature of nature.

11: Errr...

12: That’s it :-)

The Cousteau Society rather arrogantly describes itself as "Custodians of the Sea Since 1943". 1943, eh? "Custodians"? Did you know that we know more about outer space than we know about what lives at the bottom of custard? Fact, that is.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Off On Holiday

Me and the Missus and three of her ladyfriends (it was 10 last time, I must be losing my touch) are going on holiday. No blogging there; will be back in a week. Going to Mallorca, and so while I'm away here are some pictures (of interest to the ladies mainly) of Mallorca's favourite son Rafael Nadal to look at. Byesy bye!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dilo Dramatics Society #1

As we like to live in harmony with the seasons and shit we’ve just been in a friend's orchard picking cherries; we picked about 5kg each, enough to make jams and pies and stuff, then we had a bar-b-que, and a good time was had by all. (right: One of Romania’s top supermodels kindly took time off from her catwalk duties to do her bit for the country’s Fruit Marketing Board). This occasion also presented the Dilo Dramatics Society with a golden opportunity; so here, using a real orchard, real cherries, and real East European peasants, we present our neo-realist version of Anton Chekhov’s:


The Cast:

Mme. Ranevskaya: Vanessa Redgrave
Honest Serf Toiling in the Imperialistic Cherrytree of Capitalist Exploitation: Michael Elphick or possibly Robin Asquith
Peter Trofimov: Leonardo DiCaprio
Dunyasha: Julie Ege

(SCENE: A Cherry Orchard, obviously)

Mme. Ranevskaya: (enters orchard right) “Ah, my Sunshine, my spring!”

Honest Serf Toiling in the Imperialistic Cherrytree of Capitalist Exploitation: “Hey, Mrs, if you’re coming this way can you bring us that ladder?”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “To think this will soon no longer be in our family!”

Serf: “There’s a lovely bunch of really ripe ones here but I can’t quite reach them.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “If only dear Leonid were here!!”

Serf: “I don’t see why, he’d be about as much help as you are. If you don’t want to bring the ladder, can you pass me that stick?”

Mme. Ranevskaya: (breaking down in tears) “My love is like a stone tied round my neck; it's dragging me down to the bottom; but I love my stone. I can't live without it.”

Serf: “Ain’t it always the way.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: (Sobs quietly)

Serf: “How about that Dunyasha though? You’d tell her to go up tree first though if you know what I’m saying, hyah hyah hyah!”

Peter Trofimov: (enters orchard left)

Serf: “Oh blimey, another one”

Peter Trofimov: (exits orchard right)

Serf: “Ladder, over there, if... oh forget it”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “If only there was something I could do”

Serf: “Well, you could organise a Workers’ Council which would portion out the orchard to all who work in it...

Mme. Ranevskaya: “If only I hadn’t bought all those hats and that crate of caviar last time I was in Dnepropetrovsk

Serf: “...the leader to be elected by the council on a bi-monthy basis but all rulings to be then ratified by a People’s Subcommittee.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “Oh, what gay times, but... now I am ready to die."

Serf: “Good for you, Mrs. Try to pick up some of the ones that have fallen on your way out.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: (Looks at the serf for the first time. 3 seconds pass. Somewhere in the distance a magpie is heard)



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Occam’s Bloody Razor

In accordance with correct Scientific Method, the theories the author presented in his previous post have been challenged and rigorously analysed. They are repeated here for the sake of convenience:

Axiom A: There’s almost nothing better than a walk in beautiful scenery

Axiom B: There’s almost nothing worse than a walk in beautiful scenery accompanied by a constant running commentary

Axiom A has been called into question as a General Theory, as some people – “outliers”, to be sure, but still part of the “population” – might consider many things to be better than A Walk In Beautiful Scenery: reading Harry Potter books, crazy golf, browsing Helen Mirren’s underwear drawer... whatever. The author therefore withdraws it as a general theorem but resubmits it as a Special Theory: it’s special to the author, he can think of very few things better and those things are just too esoteric to publish in a work of this nature.

Axiom A (Special): There’s almost nothing better than a walk in beautiful scenery

Axiom B must also be resubmitted as a Special Theory for the same reasons. But it can be challenged still further. The phrase “almost nothing” implies a quantity of vanishing smallness. And yet, there is running commentary that the author suggests would enhance the putative Walk: that of the BBC’s Test Match Special team, of which he will be deprived during this Ashes summer. Had it been just a one-off Twenty20 fixture at Edgebaston it might be counted as “vanishingly small”, but the tour comprises 5 tests and 7 ODIs, and we're gonna win all of them. So, Axiom B (Special) must be modified to account for the fact that the commentary must be an unwelcome one. This was the author's first attempt:

Axiom B (Special): There’s almost nothing worse than a walk in beautiful scenery accompanied by a constant f**king running commentary

That’s good enough, many people would think, but logicians everywhere will be wagging their fingers and scratching their acne. The word “f**king” may be stronger than is necessary. I therefore apply Occam’s Razor. William of Ockham (c. 1288 - c. 1348) ran the chip shop in his local monastery (no, he was a “Franciscan friar” – Ed.) and is best known for the Principle of Parsimony which bears his name – the metaphorical “razor” shaves away all that is unnecessary. His mottos were “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" (“plurality should not be posited without necessity”), “Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora” (“It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer”) and “Caesar adsum fish ‘n’ chips forte” (“Caesar had some fish ‘n’ chips for tea”). In accordance with these principles, we require the word “f**king” to be replaced with the mildest possible expletive that still attributes sufficient sense of unwantedness to the commentary in question. There are so many splendid ones in Anglo-Saxon, but the author claims he's found the one that really has no meaning at all except the negativity it conveys:

Axiom B (Special): There’s almost nothing worse than a walk in beautiful scenery accompanied by a constant bloody running commentary