Saturday, 29 December 2007

Great figures in history-Alexander the great

In our continuing series exploring the great figures in history, our spotlight of truth has now fallen upon the heroic figure of Alexander of Macedon.
The charismatic conqueror of the known world and supreme figurehead of the Christian church for the last six thousand years.

There are many stories concerning the birth of Alexander, some say he was born in a stable and attended by three of the four Marx brothers (Zeppo being unavailable at the time due to a bout of Malaria) others that he was born into a family of traveling gynecologists in the famous port city of Hullopolis, which at that time was capital of the mighty Persian empire.

But these accounts, although containing some grains of truth, fail to take into consideration the well attested fact that the young man in question was actually born in Macedon, which happens to be a small village half way between Hullopolis and Leeds in the glorious picturesque shire now known as Yorkshire.
At the time of Alexander's birth the small village of Macedon had somehow managed to unite the perpetually warring Greek city states into a single unified state. This incredible feat was managed by Alexander's father, king Philip the blind of Macedon.
When we now look back on Phillip's achievement it is with a sense of awe, that this blind Yorkshire postman was able, without ever setting foot in Greece, to unite such implacable enemies into a single union.
It says much for the man that although blind from birth he had the incredible foresight to forge a nation that to this very day sits at the epicenter of global politics and still dominates the incredibly lucrative trade in kebabs.

It was into this nascent dynasty that the twelve year old Alexander was born, it was said that on the night of his birth every kebab shop in Yorkshire went unaccountably quiet and there was not a single arrest for drunken or violent conduct in the whole of the kingdom.
Whether this tale is apocryphal or not its hard to judge, but we can be sure his birth was a very important event for the front page of the Sun 'newspaper' that day carried the headline "Blind king Phil don't fire blanks!"

So from the very beginning it was clear that Alexander was very special, not in a special needs kind of way, but in a special special kind of way, in the way that Carlsberg special brew is special but the special Olympics isn't.
From the moment he was born fully formed at the age twelve the gods seemed to have reserved a place amongst themselves for this special special boy, by the age of thirteen he could speak six hundred and twelve languages, tie his own shoe laces and had made his first million by selling brightly colored sheep on the internet.
But all this learning and business success was not enough for the young Alexander and by time he had reached his fourteenth birthday he had murdered his blind father, slept with his fat mother and consolidated his iron grip on his Greek vassal states.
Now safe in the knowledge that his grip on the country was secure and the money was rolling in from his now worldwide chain of kebab shops, Alexander turned his avaricious eyes east towards the greatest empire the world had ever seen, Persia!

The Persian empire was at this time so vast that people said if a man walked for three quarters of an hour he would still only be half way across it.
The ruler of this vast empire, sitting on the east Yorkshire coast, was Darius, king of kings, son of heaven and ruler of the earth, such was Darius's earthly power that from birth he had never walked a single step in his whole life. A priestly cast had developed under his late father devoted to carrying the reigning monarch around, these were called 'Baggies' and is where we derive the term 'carrier bag' from.
Darius, like Alexander, was intellectually brilliant he had written four and a half novels (all self published) and was at that time waiting to hear from his agent to see if his sitcom, 'Oh no I'm a Persian!' was going to be picked up by NBC.

How much the history of the world would have changed if NBC had picked up Darius's sitcom we can only guess, but suffice to say it was Seinfeld that went on to rule the world of comedy and it was Darius that faded from the pages of history like something that fades a lot, maybe a cheap T shirt or fader on a sound mixer. We just don't know.

While Darius had been preoccupied with selling his script, Alexander had been busy amassing his forces at the Persian border, his chief commander Richard 'the dick' Cheney longtime advocate of the Persian adventure had cleverly disguised his six million troops as natural features, rocks, trees and grains of sand, all along the one and a half mile Persian border.
Now all that was needed was an excuse for invasion and it was to be Cheney the master of war who was to provide Alexander with his casus belli, he told Alexander that he had heard Darius say that if his sitcom wasn't picked up he would have to go to his plan b and open up a chain of falafel shops. Which he knew would pitch him head to head with Alexander in the post pub fast food market.
When Alexander heard this he was said to have flown into one of his famous rages and locked himself into his bedroom for six days only venturing out at mealtimes and then refusing to talk to anyone.
So the course was set for a collision of empires, a battle of ideals, on one side the delightful chilli sauce, lamb and pitta of Alexander on the other the dark and terrible concoction of Darius known to men as Falafel.

The morning of the battle saw the two great armies face each other across the vast desert of the north Yorkshire moors, Alexander's six million men were said to have visibly trembled when the one hundred and sixty million heavily armed men of Darius marched into view and began to shout obscenities about the origins of Alexander's kebab meat. Alexander, worried his men would crumble beneath this torrent of abuse was said to have rode along the line on his famous white charger, Gary, assuring the men in his command that only the best cuts of lamb were used in his kebabs.

As the sun began to set on that fateful day and Alexander surveyed the one hundred and sixty million Persian dead and realised he had finally achieved his dream and was now ruler of the whole earth and the undisputed kebab lord of the universe, a single tear was said to fallen from his crooked left eye.
For the loss of just three men the fifteen year old Alexander had conquered the greatest empire the world had ever seen, and as he and his men rode into Darius's defeated capital, Hullopolis, it was said that hordes of angels descended from the heavens and sang Alexander's favourite song, Wham's marvelous 'Last Christmas'

But Alexander's great triumph was to be a short lived affair for two and a half hours after entering the defeated city, the boy king and god on earth was dead.
There are many different versions of the death of Alexander, some say he died of gout, others that the gods had finally become jealous and taken his life as punishment for daring to put himself above them.
The plain truth of the matter was Alexander was killed crossing the road by a fish cart on its way to market. the driver had been drinking, talking on a mobile phone and smoking a cigarette at the time. (He was later sentenced to three months community service and a twenty five pound fine for careless driving.)
For the boy who had conquered the known world at fifteen to be killed in so tragic and mundane a fashion only adds to the mystique and legend that is was and always shall be, Alexander the great!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

England get their man

London-After the disastrous reign of ginger supremo Steve 'Watch my hair' Mclaren the FA have moved quickly and appointed a much hunkier successor. The news coming from Soho square this morning is that Brian Barwick, the head of the FA, has offered Fabio a four million pound a year contract that will run until England's first round exit at the 2010 world cup.

Little is known about England's new manager but that hasn't stopped Barwick from trumpeting the announcement to the world's press, earlier today he told waiting reporters that "Fabio is definitely our man he is soooo dreamy, he let me touch his biceps earlier and I went all funny in my tummy. I really think he is the man to take England forward, obviously I also believed that about Mclaren and although Steve was a very handsome man, for a ginger, he is nowhere near Fabio's league. The team photos are going to be great now."

When questioned on the new man's glaring lack of football experience Barwick was quick to defend Fabio's record "Although he has never actually taken charge of a football team, I think you will all agree his record compares favourably with his predecessor's, and as you all know being England manager isn't about football, it's much bigger than that.
For far too long now we have been beaten in the handsome stakes by so called 'lesser nations'. You only have to look at the Croatia game, the Croatians had the dreamy eyed Slaven Billic prowling the touchline like some ravenous sexual panther and we had a middle aged ginger bloke protecting his rapidly vanishing quiff with an umbrella, it didn't look good."

Sources within the FA have confirmed that Fabio was actually the favoured choice to succeed housewives favourite Sven Goran Erikkson, but was unavailable at the time due to his extensive commitments to hunkdom, although Barwick refused to confirm this he did say "It's true I have been a fan of Fabio's for a long time now, I had his last calendar you know the one where he is a pirate in July and a fireman in October. I'm just glad we finally managed to get our man and I can't wait to see the new team calendar, if we can persuade him to drop Rooney from the squad I think it will be a very special tribute to all that's hunky in the world."

So having now got their favoured candidate the FA will be under immense pressure to start producing sales figures commensurate with their status as one of the world's biggest brands. Barwick told reporters "I'm not frightened by the challenge and I'm sure Fabio isn't, if anyone can sell the England football team it's this guy, I admit that in going ginger last time we made a big mistake, but the thinking at the time was Mclaren would slot into the 'cute' category and as soon as we realised our mistake it was to late. I know one thing though, their won't be a single team in world football that will be able to compete with us in the dreamy stakes now!"

Monday, 10 December 2007

Play Mesmer for me

South shields- Ever since early man tired of walking on his knuckles and dragged himself upright, he has been fascinated by the intricate workings of the mind. The very thing that gave Homo erectus the impetus to leave the vast African Savannah and then spread himself around the globe, seemed to be the thing that fascinated him most.

Man's earliest attempts at deciphering the complexities of the brain and its mysterious workings led him eventually to construct massive temples in praise of his unseen gods, which in turn led directly to the establishment of the first universities and the first serious attempts to develop a science of the mind.

The ancient study of the mind eventually became the science of psychiatry, when Dr Sigmund Freud accidentally discovered all of mans problems stemmed from his desire to sleep with his mother and kill his father. Incidentally, It's a little known fact that Freud also dabbled in the lingerie business and was particularly famous in turn of the century Vienna for his popular Freudian slip, which was said to be a must have for any fashion conscious lady.

One of Freud's main tools for unraveling the intricate workings of the mind was the technique of Mesmerism or hypnosis as it's more commonly known today. This ancient technique was first discovered by the Persian king Xerxes in 33bc, when he discovered that repeated tellings of his stories of conquest had the unusual effect of sending all of his court into a deep hypnogogic slumber.
Nowadays we are more used to seeing stage performers making perfectly normal people behave like fools or vice versa.
So when News direct heard of a man in South shields actually using his hypnotic powers to help people we decided to travel up to that god forsaken nowhere and meet the amazing Anton De Napoli.

Mr De Napoli works from the comfortable front room of his three bed semi in the popular non shit part of the town.
Although the treatment room looks like the set of a canceled Sherlock Holmes show from nineteen eighty two, there is a certain homeliness to it and within two minutes of meeting Anton I was laid comfortably upon his chaise lounge, with my shoes off talking about my mother.
"She was a cruel woman, only time she ever hugged us was when the heating wasn't working. Those times she used us as human hot water bottles were the only time us kids were allowed to touch her. She didn't like personal contact, she used to say we are English! Hugs are for Italian waiters and sick kittens.
Sometimes she would beat us with wooden coat hangers, she said wire ones were for good children. I think that's why I still pee the bed."
Anton looked nervously at me and apologetically said "I'm sorry to hear that, I really am, but I'm not Anton, Anton's just gone to get my bill, I was seeing him about my smoking."
I sat up "Oh yeah I knew!! I was just trying to get a feel of how it would feel to be sad like you and need to come to a place like this."
"I'm only here to stop smoking."
"Yeah right, pervert!"
"I'm sorry your mother was so horrible."
"How dare you!!! My mother was a saint!! She was a martyr to her ovaries."
At this point the door swung open to reveal the real Anton De Napoli "I have your bill Mr Davies."
Mr Davies glad of the exit strategy jumped from his seat beside my chaise lounge and made for the front door.
"I see you have made yourself comfortable."
"Yeah I was just telling Mr Davies there, that he should get a spine and use some will power to give up smoking."
"Well not everyone has your formidable rectitude and immense moral courage."

Anton settled himself into Mr Davies still warm chair and I took the opportunity to size up the man some people have begun to call the messiah of the Tyne. He was small man, fastidiously tidy in his appearance from the highly polished brogues to his spotted bow tie, it seemed his appearance had been specifically designed to compliment the strange air of peace and authority that effortlessly flowed from cultured voice.
"So what can I do for you?"
"Well I'd like you to give our readers a rough idea of what it is you actually do, do."
"Do do?"
"Do you find excrement interesting?"
"No, well that's a lie, I do find it interesting that you never see those chalky white dog turds now. When I was a kid they were round every lamp post, you remember?"
"And how long have you had this fascination for dog feces?"
"Ohh must be about twenty years now......Hang on, I see what your doing, we are not here to talk about me and my fascination with dog turds."
"So you do admit it is a fascination?"
"No! I was just saying."
"Do you think about these sorts of things often?"
"No, why?"
"Well the mind is a very complex thing and unhealthy fascinations with odd things can often prove to be symptoms of a much deeper psychological sickness.
"I haven't got a psychological sickness! I'm here to ask you questions!"
"Do you often have these bursts of uncontrollable rage?"
"No it's not interesting!!!!"
"Would you say you found it difficult to love?"
"I find it difficult to love."
"I thought you might."
"You thought I might what?"
"Find it difficult to love."
"I don't."
"You just said you did."
"You asked me to say it!"
"Do you do everything you are told to do?"
"Could you take your feet off my chaise lounge?"
Sensing his cunning trick, I folded my arms and said "No I can't."
"No, I really would like you to remove your feet from my chaise lounge, your socks are leaving some kind of stain on the fabric."
"Oh sorry...I thought it was your way of...nevermind, anyway sorry about that, send me the bill for cleaning."
"Oh I'm sure that won't be necessary."
"No I insist."
"Very well, where shall I send it?"
"Errrr........ forrrrrrttty two doctor streettttt....... that there London."
"And your full name?"
"Henrrrrry...." My eyes quickly scanned the room "Mantlepiece!"
"So that's, Henry Mantlepiece, forty two doctor street, that there London?"
"Your not gonna pay for it are you?"
I hung my head "No"

We had somehow ended up in an uncomfortable silence and as the seconds ticked slowly by I realised the only way to extricate us from the leaden situation was for me to press on and intimately question him about his therapeutic techniques "You hypnotise people don't you?"
Rather than seeming pleased I had found a way out of our embarrassing cul de sac, he just slowly sighed and said "Yes I do."
"Ohhh man that would be so cool, do you ever give them an onion and make them believe it's an apple?"
"I saw Paul Mckenna do that once and I pissed myself!! Literally!!! I'm not joking!! I actually pissed myself!!"
"It would so cool being Paul Mckenna he is loaded you know? He has a Humvee with the licence plate HYPNO T15T, how cool is that? I bet he doesn't have to practically beg fat birds for a date then sit at home in his star wars pajamas crying all Saturday night because they said no."
"I'm sure he doesn't"
"Not that I do, I was just using that as an example. Only a geek would have Star wars pajamas, mine are England football team ones, real cool cos on the back it has a number eight and above it says 'It's bed time!'"
"Very smart."
"So what kind of hypnotism you do then?"
"I use what is known as past life regression therapy."
"What's that?"
"It's a technique that is used to take a patient back into a former life and to try to see if there is some unknown past reason for the problems they are suffering today."
"Do me!! Do me!!!"
"It's not something to be played around with it's a very serious technique which can bring all sorts of emotions welling to the surface and should only be used as small part of ongoing therapy."
"Do me!!! Do me!!!! Pleeeeeeeesssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"
"It's not something...."
"For gods sake!!! Lay back!"
"Don't make me try to eat any onions though! And no funny business I'll know if you have touched it cos I keep a special piece of string knotted around it, so that I know if I have been interfered with."
I lay quietly back eyes closed and listened to Anton's soothing voice count me backwards through time.
"Right, I have taken you back now to before you were born, can you tell me where you are?"
"It's dark in here and very warm, I hear a steady beating noise and someone is blowing cigarette smoke down into a tube connected to my belly button. I'm feeling quite tipsy too, like I have had half a bottle of Scotch."
"You didn't go back far enough your still in your mother's womb, go back."
"Can we hang on a bit longer? She has just started on the Gin."
"No go back, back beyond this lifetime to a time before you were....Henry Mantlepiece."
"Now where are you? Look around you and try to tell me where you are."
"I'm somewhere very bad."
"What's it like?"
"Horrible, it smells like Grimsby and the people are horrible."
"Where are you?"
"What year is it?"
"Errrr, 1968."
"And who are you?"
"I'm Keith Mildew."
"And what do you do Keith?"
"I run a small newsagents."
"Are you happy Keith?"
"No I'm bloody not!"
"Why not?"
"They haven't delivered the sports mixtures and we are low on copies of proud and hairy."
"Are you married Keith?"
"Unfortunately yes."
"What's your wife's name Keith?"
"Are you happily married?"
"Yeah right! Are you taking the piss?"
"No Keith, I'm interested in you and your life."
"Well of course I'm not happy you twat, I haven't had sex since the power cut in 1958 and I am a newsagent in Hull!! Would you be fucking happy??? Eh???"
"Ok Keith I think I will leave you to get on with running your shop."
"Yeah fuck off!!!!"

The voice in my head slowly counted me back into the warm room and my place on Anton's chaise lounge.
"That was very interesting do you remember anything about it?"
"No, was I someone important?
"In a way yes."
"Rameses? Wellington? Abraham Lincoln?
"Errr.....yes alright you were Lincoln."
"Brilliant!!! I knew I would be someone special I've always felt special!! And funnily enough I've always liked our dark skinned friends."
"I would advise you to make this the start of a new course of therapy for you."
"Nah, just being Lincoln is enough for me, cheers mate!"

Monday, 3 December 2007

Great figures in history-Bhudda

Bhudda was some kind of fat religious type bloke. I think.

Next week: Jesus! Hairy saviour or hippy fraud?

Saturday, 1 December 2007

News direct meets Stephen Hawking

Not content with bringing our readers superb news and opinion sprinkled with revealing interviews from A list celebrities, News direct today brings you an interview with the world's smartest man, Professor Stephen hawking.

News direct- Professor, It's really an honour to meet you, but I'm sure you feel the same way so lets not get bogged down in who admires who the most, it could get syrupy.

Stephen Hawking-Ok

Nd-but if you wanted to say something it's best to say it now, to get it out of the way before we start the interview properly.

SH-No I'm fine thank you.

Nd-You sure? You could just say something simple like how much you enjoy my work and how News direct is the best website in the brief history of time, see what I did there?


Nd-I used the title of your book!!!

SH-Yes I noticed that.

Nd-So do you want to say that before we start?

SH-No thank you.

Nd-Ohh, alright.

SH-News direct elephant got umbrella best web in small history of clock.

Nd-That's very kind of you Professor.

SH-Please don't touch my buttons again.

Nd-I didn't!

SH-Yes you did.

Nd-Prove it!

SH-Can we please get on with the interview, I'm a very busy man.

Nd-What's that supposed to mean? Ohhhh your time is more valuable than mine is it?

SH-I didn't mean it like that, I just meant to say that I have other appointments after this and I would be grateful if we could get to the interview.


SH-Would that be ok?


SH-I haven't upset you have I?


SH-Because that was never my intention.


SH-So can we start the interview now?

Nd- I suppose so, Have you ever considered entering the Para Olympics?



SH-I have perfect hearing and no I have never considered it as theoretical physics takes up quiet a lot of my time.

Nd-How fast do you think that chair could go?

SH- I have no idea, its not built for speed its designed to give me better mobility and house my speech machine.

Nd-I reckon if you changed the wheels and got rid of the speech thing you might be in with a shot of a medal.

SH-I have no desire to enter the Para Olympics.

Nd-Are you not a sporty person?


Nd-You could be the teams mascot then.

SH-I have no desire to be a mascot.

Nd-Just because you are in a chair doesn't mean that you have to spend your days sitting around in the house.

SH-I don't.

Nd-Oh that's nice, do you have someone who comes and takes you out?


Nd-You should come to the day centre at the end of my street. It's mostly old people but loads of them are in chairs, so I'm sure you'd have a lot in common with them. They do painting, would you like that?


Nd-Ohhhh are you a little bit shy? Just a little teensy weensy bit shy???


Nd-Theres no need to be shy, they are all very friendly. Do you want me to come with you your first day? Just till you are settled in.

SH-I have no interest in going to the day centre.

Nd-You sure??? I'm sure they would love to have you.

SH-No thank you.

Nd-Alright, but I think you are cutting your nose off to spite your face.

SH-Do you have any questions relating to my work?

Nd-Of course.


Nd-Does talking to dead people sometimes get a bit scary?



SH-I told you I am not deaf, and I have never talked to dead people.

Nd-You haven't?


Nd-Oh, what kind of psychic work you do then?

SH-I don't do Psychic work, I'm a theoretical Physicist.

Nd-A what?

SH-A theoretical physicist.

Nd-And what's that when it's at home?

SH-Physicists explore and identify basic principles and laws governing motion and gravitation, the macroscopic and microscopic behavior of gases, and the structure and behavior of matter, the generation and transfer between energy, and the interaction of matter and energy.


SH-It's actually incredibly interesting and of great use in furthering our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

Nd-Can you play MP3'S on that voice thingy?


Nd-Shame that would be soooo cool. Do you ever rap on it? That would sound real freaky.


Nd-To tell you the truth I thought this interview was going to be great but I'm reeeeaaalllllllly bored now.

SH-I got plenty of bitches purple say not fish and whores I am the father tree.

Nd-No you can't really rap on it can you.

SH-I asked you not to touch my machine.

Nd-I was only seeing if you could rap on it, I wasn't gonna break it.

SH-I will have to leave now. You are not only the worst interviewer in the world but also the worst human being I have ever had the misfortune to meet, and I have met President George W Bush. Twice.

Nd-Yeah like I'm bothered what you think.


Nd-See ya loser.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Love is the law

Scarborough-The human mind is a fragile thing, a complex web of interwoven neural pathways designed to unconsciously regulate our bodies and store the critical information any animal needs to ensure its own survival.

But surely there is more to the brain, than it being a just a glorified gelatin based supercomputer?
The ancient Egyptians believed that all thought came from the heart and that the brain was merely used to fill up the head cavity and stop people from feeling light headed, a spongy sort of ballast if you will.

We here at News direct being of a curious, almost scientific, nature decided to travel to the once beautiful seaside resort of Scarborough to meet a man who has devoted his whole life to unlocking the eternal secrets of the human mind.
Dr Shirlington P Lovebody, was at one time the most respected neurosurgeon ever to work in the UK, his international reputation as the world's foremost expert on brain injury and rehabilitation, ensured his speaking tours and teaching seminars were a must for any self respecting surgeon to attend.
That was until five years ago when Dr Lovebody suddenly announced to a stunned world that he had been told by god to go to Scarborough and teach people that 'Love is the law'
Since his unexpected revelation the doctor has become a semi mystical guru, using his knowledge of the human brain to teach what he has called 'The new religion of love science, man'

On the train up to Scarborough I decided to ask a few fellow passengers what they thought of Dr lovebody, to see if I could get some overall angle on the perceptions now current, the answers mainly ranged from a chortled 'Is that that mad doctor bloke?' to a slightly paranoid 'If you don't leave me alone this instant, I will call the guard'
All of this ridicule and paranoia intrigued me and confirmed to me that my meeting with the mysterious Dr Shirlington P lovebody would definitely be a day to remember.

Dr Lovebody's Mystical retreat sits lonely and windswept atop the ragged and dramatic cliffs overlooking the quietly tarnished and almost deserted streets of old Scarborough town.
By time I had managed to clamber through the driving rain and up the steep non existent path to the door of the retreat, the howling North sea wind had blown me off the knee length 'path' twice, I had fallen into nettles once and I had trodden in at least two piles of what I assumed to be either fishy smelling dog shit or sea gull's vomit.
Bracing myself against the hurricane strength wind I knocked loudly on the brightly painted orange, purple and red door.
The door opened to reveal a middle aged woman flabbily dressed in absolutely nothing at all. She shouted into the raging hurricane "Can I help you?"
I dragged my eyes from the huge swollen nipples, that were no doubt irritating her hidden knees and shouted against the screaming wind "I'm here to see Dr Lovebody!!"
"You love what dear?"
"No I'm here to see Dr Lovebody!!, Dr Shirlington P Lovebody!!!"
"You love somebody called Shirley? That's nice dear, after all love is the law."
She then slammed the door shut.
The wind whisked away my obscenities, no doubt delivering the stolen words to someone sat somewhere far below the cliff top enjoying a soon to be interrupted quiet moment.
I knocked again.
"Oh hello! Back again? How's Shirley?"
I gestured for her to let me in, she shrugged and heaved her huge frame to one side to allow me entrance. I stepped into the warmth of the retreat, and tried in vain to remove my haystack hair from my stinging eyes, as she slammed the door shut behind me.
She swung her voluminous frame back before me and with a nose wrinkled in disgust she said "Well dear?"
Realising I had offended her olfactory senses with my sudden shit/vomit encrusted appearance
I stammered through blue lips "Fe...fe...fell off......path...maybe vomit...shit...I...sorry...I don't know."
She gave me a kind look that all at once said 'You poor unfortunate creature' and 'Jesus!! that's definitely shit'
She put a wary but comforting hand onto my cold wet shoulder "Are you the chappy from that Story news directly to you thingy?"
I nodded, unable but desperately wanting to correct her.
"You come through here love and sit by the fire and I'll tell the doctor you are here."
She guided me slowly into a huge armchair before the roaring fire in what I guessed was the doctor's study.
"You sit yourself down and warm up and I'll get you something dry to wear."
She disappeared.
The fire had started to inject some feeling back into my body now, and as I gazed around the tidy but haphazard room the woman reappeared holding some type of purple kaftan arrangement.
"Get out of those wet clothes, this should fit you."
I stared in horror at the offered garment "No honestly, I'll be fine now, I just needed to warm up."
"Nonsense, Come on Mr!! clothes off."
"No honestly, I'll be alright."
"Don't be a naughty little soldier, clothes off."
Before I could protest further she had stood me up and was busy removing my jacket, by the time my next protestations had left my mouth I was semi naked and holding tightly onto the top of my trousers.
"Well you are a shy one aren't you! I've never seen so much fuss about changing clothes!"
I fought her for control of my trouser zip "I'm okay honestly!!"
"Don't be a silly boy, you don't have to be shy with me I can assure you I have seen plenty of what you are hiding down there!"
"I don't want to take my trousers off!!"
"Nonsense!" And with that I was stood naked before her self satisfied smile.
She ran her homely eyes over my shivering pale white body "I can see why you were a little shy, he's a tiny little fellow isn't he!"
I looked behind me, figuring she was referring to some newly arrived dwarf, seeing none I followed her pitying glance down to my shriveled manhood "It's not always like that!! I'm cold!!"
She removed her eyes from its cowering ineptitude and gave me a reassuring smile "Course you are dear."
"I am!! It's bloody freezing out there!!"
"Yes it is quite cold dear."
"Well yeah, so that's why it looks like that."
"Like an emaciated Eskimo?"
"Well I wouldn't have put it quite like that, but yeah."
"I believe you."
"It's normally much bigger."
"I'm sure it is dear."
"It is!!"
She handed me the kaftan and I became the first person in the history of clothing to be grateful for a purple kaftan.
"I'll put your clothes through the washer and drier, sit yourself down the doctor will be with you shortly."
"Why you calling me shortly??"
"I'm not, I'm just saying the doctor will be with you in a short while."
"Oh, okay."
She left me to luxuriate in my new found kaftan happiness before the crackling bliss of the open fire.

Twenty minutes later, a soft poke in the side of my head returned me from the slack embrace of Morpheus and instantly into the cluttered, but comfortable study. I looked sideways at the finger that was poking me into the world and before it could poke again, I flinched and glared at its owner.
The man prodding me back into the world of solids was none other than Dr Shirlington P Lovebody, purple kafataned mystic and heavily qualified visionary.
The doctor stroked his long Grey beard "I'm sorry son, did I startle you?"
I rubbed the stray sleep from my eyes "No, not at all, I was just preparing my interview notes."
The doctor fell for my cunning ruse and seated himself cross legged on the floor by my chair.
I looked down onto his bald pate "You want this chair?"
He beamed a subtle almost transcendental smile "No I'm fine here, chairs are part of my old life now. I prefer to be connected to mother earth and let her send her vibrant love energy up through my anal portal and into my cerebral cortex."
"Oh, errr...right, sorry that has thrown me a tell me about your Saint Paul moment."
The doctor fluidly spun his fingers into some kind of ancient mediative position "Well it all began five years ago, I was doing brilliant, almost revolutionary work in the field of Neuro science and had, as I'm sure you can imagine, achieved a very comfortable lifestyle. I had all a man could wish for..."
"You had champagne fountains, sexual pandas and a monkey butler??? Wow!!!"
He cocked his head to one side "Errr..No."
"Well with all due respect doctor, you might have been doing well but you certainly didn't have it all."
He gave me a look I had seen many times before and continued on "Well as I was saying, I had....nearly everything a man could wish for, but deep inside I still felt a great unhappiness it would sometimes surge up and engulf me with the realisation that life was a just pointless series of futile moments punctuated by tiny diamonds of happiness. One day after one of these nihilistic episodes I heard a voice calling out to me...Shirlingtonnnnn.....Shirlingtonnnnnn......Shirlingtonnnnnnnn."
I interrupted his echoing flow "You'd left the phone off the hook?"
"No, It was God."
"On the phone?"
"No you idiot, this was inside my head."
"So you're the one hearing voices and you have the cheek to call me an idiot."
"I'm sorry I didn't mean to call you an idiot."
"Just for your information, I'm not an idiot actually."
"No I didn't mean it honestly."
"I got three, count them THREE!!" I held up four fingers to further illustrate my point "Three GCSE'S"
"Well yes, you're obviously a cultured and educated man and I honestly meant no offence to you."
"Well that's alright then."
He straightened his back, brushed back his long Grey beard and continued "Where was I?"
"You were on the phone to someone claiming to be god."
"You really have three GCSE'S?"
"What are they in?"
"Woodwork, P.E and interpretive dance."
"Oh right...... anyway I was on the phone to God and told me in no uncertain terms that I was to immediately leave London, travel up here, build my commune and await further instructions, regarding the true nature of the universe. Of course I immediately obeyed and have been here for the last five years awaiting his next revelation."
"Why Scarborough?"
"I don't know, that puzzled me too."
"You would think this God character would choose somewhere more spiritually uplifting."
"Yeah, you would think so wouldn't you."
"Are you sure you didn't mishear him? Maybe he said go to Skegness."
"God doesn't stutter."
"No I suppose not, so what's all this love is the law business about?"
"Well that was his initial revelation to me."
"This was in the first phone call?"
"So what's he say?"
"He said 'Let this truth be known, there is only one law and the law of the universe is love'"
"Quite vague then."
"Well not really, if you think about it its a very profound statement that reaches into the very heart of mans quest for the ultimate knowledge of himself and the universe surrounding him."
I thought about it for a moment "Nah."
"What you mean nah?"
"Well if someone told me to give up my sex pandas, champagne fountains and monkey butler and go all the way to Scarborough, I'd want a better reason than that."
"You don't question the divine essence of the universe."
"I would."
"Well I'm obviously not as smart as you, am I."
"Obviously not."
"Do you have everything you need now? It's time for my mid day meditation session now."
I stood up and smoothed down my regal kaftan "Can I keep this? I'm getting quite into it now."
He stood and placed his hand into mine "Course you can, do you want me to get Audrey to put your other clothes into a carrier bag for you?"
"Nah, just burn them I'm gonna start wearing these all the time now. You get a lot of refreshing air round your bits don't you."
"You do indeed, can cool the little fellow right down."
"What you mean by that???"
"She said something didn't she?"
"Bloody Audrey!! I was cold and wet, you know about shrinkage don't you?"
"Of course, but I can promise you she didn't say anything I was just making small talk."
"Whats that supposed to mean???"
"Nothing! your being a little paranoid now, which leads me to believe that you do actually have a small penis and there was very little, if any, shrinkage at all."
"Thats a god damn lie take it back!!!!"
"I'm sorry, I was only kidding around with you, Audrey actually said she could tell that it would be a monster given the right conditions and a favourable wind."
"Did she?"
"Yeah, she made it abundantly clear how impressed she thought she might be if she were ever to see it under more advantageous conditions."
The doctor graciously opened the front door for me and gently prodded me out into the howling North sea gale.
"That's right!!! It is more than average in the right conditions!!"
The doctor nodded, waved and shouted "Watch that stone behind you!!!" before slamming shut the door to his deity appointed commune.
"What stone?"

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The beautiful game

North Ferriby- Far from the feverish madding crowds, the hundred grand salaries, comically sad yellow Lamborghinis and the obligatory pneumatic model blondes, the real beautiful game continues quietly on, unadorned and shod of its glitzy trappings deep within its Northern pie stained heartland.

News direct wanted to find out just what is it, that will make a working man crawl hungover from his warm bed early of a Sunday morning to battle eleven other Saturday night casualties for the possession and, usually mistimed, distribution of a leather bag full of air.
To find out the answer to this question and to maybe discover if the game has, as some say, really lost its heart to foreign owners, satellite television and players with boot deals, we traveled up to the steeply terraced village of North Ferriby, just outside the vast cosmopolitan metropolis of Kingston upon Hull.

The road that winds through the village has been unkindly called the road that the road to nowhere leads to. The one hundred or so tiny stone houses of North Ferriby are neatly bookended by the village's two pubs, the Red lion that sits besides the village green and at the far end, the smaller White lion.

After arriving in the quiet, windy solitude of North Ferriby's Sunday morning, I parked my car and walked bravely against the scything wind towards the nearby Red lion pub, where I had arranged to meet Derek Vadar the sixty two year old greengrocer and longtime manager of the Red lion's all conquering Sunday league side, Real Red lion FC.
Pushing open the heavy door of the Red lion was at once a relief and a surprise, for where I expected an empty bar and a roaring fire, there was instead fifteen or so quiet men sat around a large white tactics board listening intently to the man before the board.

I quietly let go of the door and stood listening intently to the man before the squiggle covered board.
"You hear me Terry?"
A bleary eyed player looked up from his medicinal pint and said "Yeah Boss, try not to be sick during the game, got it Boss."
The Boss nodded "The groundsman says if you do it again, he will not bother to pick up the dog shit in the penalty area."
A murmur of disgust rippled through the crowd.
The Boss looked round his players "Right today's the big one boys, we are two points clear at the top but those bastards over at the White lion are all sat in there now, with their feet up, calling you lot a bunch of hairy arsed puffters!"
Another Mexican wave of disgust rippled through the now riled players. The Boss pointed a finger "Dave!"
"Yes Boss?"
"They said you are a cross dresser, possibly a pedophile and your final ball is laughable."
Dave flooded his pale face with blood "THERES FUCK ALL WRONG WITH MY FINAL BALL!!"
The boss shook his head and walked slowly round the assembled players "That's what they are saying boys, you Gazza, you know what they said about you?"
An anxious Gazza looked away from Dave's smoldering anger "They said your wife looks like the Elephant man's ugly sister."
Gazza visibly relaxed "Well they do have a point Boss."
The Boss nodded "Yeah I agree with that, obviously, but they also said the only way you can get any sexual satisfaction is by accosting strangers in public toilets and that all that kneeling has ruined your knees and thats why you tackle like a Victorian orphan with rickets."

Gazza looked around the faces of his disbelieving team mates "I'm not standing for this boys I'll show them what tackling is!! The cheeky bastards!!"
The boss walked back to the board and looked each of his men in the eyes before clearing his throat "Well that's what they have been saying about you boys and I said to myself this can't be true, it just can't! I know Dave has the best final ball in the league, I know Gazza tackles like a proud viking warrior, I know everyone of you will do your utmost because you are the best Sunday league side this country has ever seen! I would go into battle beside anyone of you! Except you Simmo, everything they said about you is true, that's why you not even on the subs bench finish your drink and get out!"
Simmo, head down, picked up his glass.
"In fact don't even finish your drink, get out! Now!"
Simmo stood and carefully made his way through the maze of tables and out of the door into the cold wind of exile.
The Boss scrubbed his white board clean "Right, kick off in an hour boys, I don't want anyone drinking more than five pints between now and then, If you must drink, drink spirits. I don't want you all running around bloated and lethargic."

The Boss finished wiping the board and made his way over to the table I had discovered during his pre match talk.
"You that fella from Gazzetta del la sport?"
"Yeah thats me."
The Boss wiped back a strand from his failing comb over and through narrowed eyes said "You don't sound very Italian."
"I'm their English correspondent."
"Well you sound..."
"Don't say it!"
The Boss shrugged "So what can I do for you Signor Chianti?"
"It's De Chianti actually, I'm doing a piece on the great managers of the modern era and you are the most successful Sunday league manager in history, so I'd just like to ask you a few questions and maybe learn something of the philosophy that has led you to greatness."
The boss relaxed back into his seat "My philosophy is very simple my spaghetti eating friend, it's all based on the three M's."
"The three M's?"
"Yep, thats all there is to it."
"What are the three M's?"
"Motivation, motivation, and..."
"Nope, Moderation."
The Boss leaned forward conspiratorially "See these boys here?"
He threw a glance back towards his Heavy drinking squad "These boys aren't great players, most of them have trouble passing water, never mind a football. My job is to make sure they are motivated and moderate in their drinking habits."
"So basically, your job is to wind them up and keep them off the beer?"
"Yep, thats the long and short of it. Now here's a case in point, take Wilko, our keeper, he was awful last season couldn't catch a cold! So what I did was have a couple of the boys sleep with his wife and then I said to him 'I know who it was son, and if you keep me dozen clean sheets this season I'll tell you' after that he was world class, after we won the league I told him it was Simmo and he put him in hospital for three months. It was actually Dave and Gazza, but Simmo is a waste of space and I cant have two of my first team out of action for three months."

The Boss continued to struggle with his failing attempt at a hairstyle "I'm a great student of history, I have studied all the great leaders, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and of course Jimmy Carter, But you know who I have modeled myself on the most?"
Perplexed, I shook my head "No, who?"
"Dick Cheney!"
"Dick Cheney, the evil Neo-con genius?"
"Yep, ohh what a guy he is, a real man manager."
"But he is a psychotic butcher."
"No, he understands man management, look at how he operates, you do as he says and everything is hunky dory but cross him and he will destroy you. I like his style."
"But isn't that fascism?"
"Noooo it's much better than fascism, it's Neo-fascism."
"And that's the only way to lead?"
"Of course it is, men are weak and feeble creatures and if left to their own devices they will stagnate and happily live out their miserable existences, being sons,husbands and fathers. But what men like me and Dick do is take those useless shells and mould them in to devastating extensions of our own unimaginable ambitions."
"Riiight........I think I have probably.....Got enough now."
"You sure?"
"Yeah I think I have had a good enough insight into what it takes to be a successful leader of men."
"You not staying for the game? We are having a BBQ and a good piss up after."
"No I can't, My wife is expecting me home."
"Your married???"
"Yeah, why?"
"Nowt, just thought you would be the kind of man who liked to dress up as a cowboy of a weekend and dance to disco music."
"I'm not from Texas."
"No I meant..nevermind."
I stood and stuck out my hand towards the boss, he stood and grasping the hand firmly he looked into my eyes and said "Always remember son, Fussball uber alles."

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Great figures in history- Nelson

As part our our continuing mission to educate and inform, News direct today begins its brilliant new feature.
Great figures in history will shine a spotlight onto some of history's most famous names and hopefully right some historical inaccuracies. Our debut historical figure is to be England's greatest hero, Vice admiral Horatio Nelson.
Who was this great man? Why is he now a target for pigeons?
And just why did he hate dwarfs so much?
These are just some of the questions we will be attempting to answer.

Horatio Elizabeth Nelson was born of modest parentage in September 1758, one of greatest mistakes made by his many biographers is the naming of Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk as his birth place.
A cursory look through the records show that he was actually born just outside the small French town of Calais, which at that time was a protectorate of the great Scottish empire which stretched from Iceland in the north down through mainland Europe to Cairo in the south.
His father, Jacques Nelson, was an itinerant onion seller roaming the French countryside in a stripey shirt and beret, supplying the local peasantry with what the French still call crying apples.
Little is known of his mother except that she was a massively powerful woman and would earn the family much needed extra income by performing feats of strength in the town squares of the Calais area.
One story, perhaps apocryphal, recounts how madame Nelson challenged an entire town to a tug of war. The villagers obviously aware of Madame Nelson's great strength agreed on the condition that she used just her weaker left arm and hopped on one leg during the entire contest.
Madame Nelson accepted their conditions and in a titanic contest lasting four days she eventually managed to defeat the six hundred strong village team.

Not much more is known of Horatio's early life and if he did receive any formal schooling it would surely have been after the family moved from Calais to Hull, which at that time was the capital of England and known through out the civilised world as a great centre of learning and culture.
Lost records from this time would surely reveal, that the young Nelson was a brilliant scholar who excelled in not only English,maths,art,Latin, geography,music and needlepoint, but also in juggling, firework making and monkey training.

What is known, is that it was in a Hull pub while out celebrating his eighth birthday that the young Horatio was first press ganged into the Royal Navy.
This being at a time before the discovery of wind, the Navy had a constant need for vast amounts of man power, to row their huge ships into battle. Recent research has shown that around this time the Navy press ganged over two million men a week, so young Nelson's press ganging was in no way unusual for the times.
Nelson's first ship was the HMS Bernard, a nine hundred gun tug based in the Japanese port of Okinawa and used mainly to police the North sea tulip routes.
It was on the Bernard that Nelson got his first taste of naval combat in a fierce engagement with welsh pirates off the coast of Peru. Nelson performed so heroically during the two year battle that he was immediately promoted from ship's cook to Vice admiral.

Upon his return to England Nelson was to meet the great love of his life, Emma Hamilton.
Miss Hamilton was at this time working as a Blacksmith in London's crowded east end, it was said that Nelson would go around London removing horse shoes so he would have a valid reason to visit Miss Hamilton's thriving Blacksmithing business.
After two years of taking horse shoes to her shop and asking if these were hers, Nelson had finally plucked up the courage and asked Hamilton to marry him, she immediately agreed and they were married that same day in St Paul's cathedral before an estimated TV audience of over forty million.

It was two months after his marriage to Emma Hamilton that fate was to deal Nelson its cruelest blow. While out on an all day drinking spree with his pet monkey Dave, the admiral got into a fight with an unnamed dwarf and tragically lost his favourite left eye and his powerful right arm.
This episode was to be crucial in Nelson's life, as it resulted in him having to give up his burgeoning career in professional darts and concentrate fully upon his lackluster naval career.
Nelson was never fully able to forgive people of restricted height for robbing him of his dream and for the rest of his life he took every opportunity available to hunt down and kill every dwarf he could find within the greater London area.

Nelson's idyllic London life with Emma was to be short lived, for just twenty short miles away another cunning dwarf was plotting the demise of England and the death of Nelson.
The dwarf in question, the evil French tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte, hated the English so much that he would prowl along the sea wall of the recaptured Calais with a telescope and obsessively watch the happy English across the channel, telling anyone who would listen what Nelson was doing and how much he hated the saintly admiral and those foul Ros bifs.

By 1815 Napoleon could no longer contain himself and set out with a fleet of twenty thousand warships to conquer the happiest land in the whole of the world.
But the French being the poor seamen that they are, got lost crossing the channel and ended up sailing in circles just off the Portuguese coast, pathetically asking passing fishing boats which way England was.

Upon hearing that the French fleet were at Trafalgar, Nelson was said to have declared 'They are already in the middle of London?'
Then after being told Trafalgar was not just a square in London but also a piece of Portuguese sea, he rushed down to his waiting ship and sailed her out towards his fateful date with history.
The French were said to have laughed when they saw Nelson's solitary ship sailing valiantly out to destroy their huge armada.
But Gallic laughter was soon to be replaced by panic as Nelson's ship the Victory, started to send cannon ball after cannon ball into the shocked French fleet.
In just under twenty minutes Nelson had sunk all but one of the twenty thousand French ships and as the Victory closed in for the final kill Napoleon was heard to cry 'Mon dieu, they'll kill us all!! Every homme for himself!!" before jumping over the side and swimming back towards France.

Nelson's heroic victory over the shambolic French fleet was to be a short lived joy for it was on the way back to a heroes welcome that Nelson decided to kill himself.
Many historians have speculated as to why Nelson would choose the moment of his greatest triumph to end his life, some say that now having saved England his work was done, some that he was so seasick he knew he would never reach England without vomiting. But sadly we can never know the true reason this great man decided to end it all at the peak of his greatest victory.
On hearing of the Admiral's suicide a heartbroken Queen Elizabeth the first, immediately ordered that the empty column in Trafalgar square be capped by a life size statue of England's greatest hero.
And to this very day The admiral looks out from his perch high above London and keeps a watchful eye on the French coast in case they ever try to resurrect their foul and dastardly plans.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The grapes of Ralph

Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.
Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Bordeaux- For more than eight thousand years man has cultivated Vinus Vinifera, the grape vine, and has through time, patience and painstaking effort managed to create a drink which can enthrall, enslave and delight even the most world weary and hardened of cynics.
From the free flowing bacchanalian orgies of ancient Rome to the rigid moral Christian altars of the bible belt, wine has become an essential and integral part of the human experience.

News direct decided to send me to the quiet Bordeaux village of La prix du St Ralph, to visit the world famous Chateau le chateau vineyard. My mission was to see if I could find out some of the ancient and closely guarded secrets of this most revered of beverages.

La prix du St Ralph sits quietly in a shady, almost forgotten, south western corner of France's beautiful Aquitane region.
The village is like any other village, in any other country in the world. People here live, love and fight, with the same degrees of success as anywhere else.
The thing that makes La prix du St Ralph special and altogether different from the countless uncounted hamlets worldwide, is the very ground that it's built on.
By an accident of fate, comparable to the Arabs great misfortune of living upon America's vast oil reserves, La prix du St Ralph happens to sit happily upon the best ten hectares of vine growing soil in the whole world.

On a hill overlooking the sleepy village sits the romantically turreted Chateau le chateau, the family home of France's premier wine maker Madame Severine de la Brut Counasse.
Madame Counasse has been making wine at Chateau le chateau since her legendary father died in the early nineteen sixties, she has been compared to Dom Perignon, Robert Parker and even George Best for the unrivaled contribution she has made to the advancement and popularity of wine worldwide.
Madame Counasse had graciously consented to be my guide for the day and as I slowly walked up the wide chalky drive towards the grand wooden doors of the Chateau, I got my first glimpse of the woman General De Gaulle called 'The most important French woman since those bastard Ros bifs burnt our Joan of arc.'
Madame Counasse is a small, precise looking woman and her hand offered limply in greeting was quickly dwarfed by my huge clumsy paw.
"Welcome to Le Chateau le chateau Monsieur."
"Merci madame, pour et vous.....canard."
"Pour et vous canard."
"I think it will be best if we speak in English."
"Non, moi Francais est tres, tres, tres bon madame."
"No it isn't, you sound like you are from Marseilles."
"I've been ill recently!"
"Please come in."
Madame Counasse gently dropped my hand and opened the door of the Chateau to reveal its grand hallway.
"Follow me please."
I watched as she disappeared across the cool stone floor and into a tapestry framed archway opposite, her severe hairstyle quickly reappeared and said "This way please Monsieur!"
I promptly followed her order by tracing her petite foot steps across the hall and into the large kitchen beyond the magnificent carved arch.

There, already seated at the long rustic table before a huge brass strewn fireplace, Madame Counasse had set out an array of bottles, two glasses and a large spittoon.
"Please sit down Monsieur."
I took the offered seat and also the opportunity to ask Madame Counasse, why Chateau le chateau is so special and isn't most wine the same anyway.
Her face became a mask of disgust "Are you serious? This is the greatest vineyard in the whole of France and therefore, the whole of the world. You English are so uncultured, this place is special because of the soil, you people should stick to your, How you call them? Alchopoppys? and leave the Oenaphilia to the more cultured peoples of the world."
"Oenaphilia? Isn't that an attraction to farmyard animals?"
"You really don't know what Oenaphilia is?"
"Course I do."
"What is it then?"
"It's what?"
"Something perverted that the French do to each other or something."
Her taunting eyes immediately took on a softer cast and as she stroked my hand she soothed "That's right, well done, I realise now that I will have to be on my guard with you monsieur, you are as sharp as a Camembert."
I stiffened in my chair, held my head high and bathed in her luxurious praise of me.
"Would you like to taste some of our wines now Monsieur?"
"Yes please madame."
She took a bottle from the table uncorked it and splashed a few drops into the glass before me.
I waited.
"What are you waiting for?"
"For you to finish pouring."
"That's it, this isn't an English BBQ, we are here to taste my vineyard's fine wines not get falling down drunk and sing 'Is this the way to Amarillo'."
Suitably chastened I lifted my glass and drained down her meager offering.
I put my glass quickly down onto the table "What??"
"You don't drink it, Mon Dieu!! Les Anglais!"
"You must not drink it, you must spit it out into this spittoon."
"Why? Is this not a good one?"
When Madame Counasse had finished rolling her eyes, she placed them carefully upon me and said "We spit so that we can continue tasting without feeling the effects of the alcohol."
I grinned "Do all French girls spit?"
"Monsieur, I find your attempt at humour, not only childish but also tedious in the extreme."
"Shall we continue?"
"Yes please."
She poured me another meager offering.
I waited, this time not for a more generous serving, but for some mysterious Gallic sign that I could proceed.
"Now before we drink, we must look at the wines colour."
I gazed into my glass "It's red."
"What kind of red?"
"Rouge red."
"So it's red red?
"No, rouge red."
"That's red red."
"Thought rouge meant deep red."
"No, It means red."
"Are you sure?"
"I was only asking."
"Mon dieu, vous etes aussi stupide qu'un chou!!"
"Can I drink it now?"
I sat quietly and looked at my shoes and waited for her to stop mumbling to herself in a language I guessed was French, or maybe German.
She breathed deeply, wiped a stray piece of fringe from her red face and said "Right now we swirl the wine round the glass to release the flavours and aromas trapped within, like so."
I watched intently as she swirled the wine around her glass, and then carefully copied her fluid motion.
"Non!! You imbecile, it has gone everywhere!"
"I think I swirled it too fast."
"Do you think so?"
"I haven't done this before."
"Well it isn't rocket science!! You just have to gently swirl the wine round the glass, not try to paint the room with it!!"
Madame Counasse refilled my proffered glass with a now shaking hand "Right now GENTLY swirl the wine round the glass.
I looked from her eyes to the gently swirling glass and copied her careful revolutions.
"Good Monsieur! Now put your...comment dit en anglais?? ahhh nose...put your nose in the glass."
I placed my nose deep into the glass and continued to move my head in circles with my now near perfect swirling technique.
"Mon Dieu! You can stop swirling now!"
I stopped swirling and once my head had come to a stop, I took a deep sniff of the throughly swirled wine.
"What can you smell."
"I don't want to say."
"Why not?"
"In case I'm wrong and you shout at me again."
"What do you smell you damn Ros bif!!!!!!"
My head, possibly intoxicated by wine fumes and terror, spun uncontrollably and I blurted out "WINE!!! I CAN SMELL WINE!!!!! RED WINE!!!!" before recoiling instinctively out of Madame Counasse's range.
"Good, well done."
Reassured by her measured tone, I carefully moved back into range.
"I was right?"
"Of course you were right, what did you expect to smell in a glass of wine?
"D'accord, now you can take the wine into you mouth. But don't swallow it!"
I drained the glass and sat fat cheeked looking warily at madame Counasse.
"Now swirl the wine slowly round your mouth, let it coat your curry deadened English taste buds with the elegant flavours of la belle France."
I swirled, carefully.
"Good, now spit."
Eyes closed, I spat, then gushed.
"That was amazing the flavours just burst out of the wine like some kind of atomic flavour blast! I could taste red berries, spice and liquorice, but also summer tarmac and wet dogs scratching themselves before an open fire! Did I do it right?

I slowly opened my eyes to reveal Madame Counasse's once white blouse doused in summer tarmac and wet itchy dogs, I gently put down my glass "I think it's about time I was making tracks, the ferry leaves soon and I don't really want to miss it. Or else I'll have to stay here the night!"
Madame Counasse stared blankly out at me from beneath her wine soaked fringe.
I stood.
"Rrrrright, anyway, thanks for the wine and everything.....suppose I better be off then..."
Madame Counasse stared.
"Don't wanna miss that ferry."
I backed carefully out the room, at the vaulted archway I stopped.
"Vive la France!, Vive la difference! Au revoir mon cherie!"
Madame Counasse stared.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

News direct meets Sharon Stone

News direct has done it again! Not content with bringing you exclusive interviews from the Beatles, Blair and Beckham, we have gone one better and moved on the s's. Well seventeen better, no fifteen, anyway it's better!

Hollywood superstar Sharon Stone actually rang us here at News direct and practically begged for us to interview her, being big fans of Sharon's work we agreed to let her give her first press interview in almost six years.

News direct- Sharon It's an absolute pleasure to meet you. How long have you been a fan?
Sharon Stone- A fan of what?
Nd- News direct!
SS- Thats your website??
Nd- Yeah.
SS- To be honest with you I've never heard of it.
Nd- No need to be rude.
SS- I was told on the telephone you wanted to give me an award and I couldn't have it unless I came to the Hull Hilton, which by the way isn't a Hilton at all.
Nd- No it's a Hilmston, much nicer don't you think?
SS- It's certainly different, it's the first hotel I've ever stayed in that advises you to bring your own bedding.
Nd- That's because of the great crab outbreak of ninety seven, but anyway let's not dwell on the trivial, especially since you are not even paying for the hotel room. What was your favourite roll?
SS- Well I think I would have to say it was the film I made with Marty, Casino, it gave me a chance to stretch my artistic limits and really show the movie going public what I was capable of.
Nd- Pardon?
SS- I said Casino, the film I made with Martin Scorcese and Bobby De Niro, that would have to be my favourite role.
Nd- No, I think you have misunderstood me, I meant what was you favourite bread roll. They do a marvelous full English breakfast here, with a choice of four different rolls. I like the floury ones, baps I think they call them, really good to mop up the left over egg yolk when you have finished.
SS- I haven't had breakfast here.
Nd- Why not?
SS- I don't eat breakfast, I do an hour of advanced yoga before having a light lunch of fruit and water around one o' clock.
Nd- But we paid for your room with breakfast included.
SS- Sorry.
Nd- You should have said before we booked the room, that's an extra tenner we have paid for nothing.
SS- Sorry.
Nd- I would have just thought it would have been common courtesy, thats all. If you don't eat breakfast fine, just let people know.
SS- Well I would have thought it was common courtesy to not lure people to interviews on the false pretext of them receiving an award from the Prime Minister Lord Nelson for "acting abilities above and beyond the call of duty."
Nd- Well let's not get bogged down in recriminations of who said what and who didn't mention they were a fussy eater. Tell me about Basic Instinct.
SS- Well that was kind of a breakthrough part for me and I was lucky to be able to play against such a marvelous acting talent as Michael Douglas.
Nd- Did you do all your own sexual stunts or were you using stunt lesbians?
SS- Pardon?
Nd- Did you do all that dirty lezza stuff or did they pay more experienced lezzas to come in and do it for you?
SS- There is no such thing as a stunt lesbian and can you please take your hand off my knee?
Nd- Sorry
SS- And the other one.
Nd-Sorry, there is no such thing as a stunt lesbian? What would you do then if you had to do that thing where you lay opposite ends of the bed and rub your parts together in a scissor type motion?
SS- Well if the part called for that the actresses would do it. Your hand's on my leg again.
Nd- Is it?
SS- Yes.
Nd- Sorry, you'll be telling me next that wasn't your hairy vagina we all saw when you uncrossed your legs.
SS- It wasn't.
Nd- It wasn't?????
SS- Course not you cretin, we used a vagina double.
Nd- Well you or your film company, I don't know which owes me a new video player, I knackered mine trying to pause it at just the right moment and all for nothing.
SS- Do you honestly believe I would have shown my vagina in a film? I have an IQ of 157 and a doctorate in comparative religion from Yale.
Nd-Well it was your name in the credits so yes, I expected when I paid my money that any glimpsed vagina would be yours, Not some completely random vagina masquerading as yours.
SS- Your hand's on my thigh now.
Nd- Sorry.
SS- Is that it?
Nd-Errr...Hang on I'm trying to think of something else you have been in......No that's it.
SS- I'd like to say it was a pleasure....
Nd- Oh no my dear the pleasure was all mine.
SS- You didn't let me finish, I was going to say I'd like to say it's been a pleasure but I honestly can't.
Nd- Don't think we are paying for your mini bar bill.
SS- There isn't a mini bar.
Nd-Yes there is, at the end of the hallway next to the shared bathroom.
SS- That's a vending machine.
Nd- Well that's a type of bar, It sells cans of shandy.
Nd- I don't suppose there's any chance of getting your phone number is there?
SS- What do you think?
Nd- Brilliant!! Hang on I'll just go get a pen!

Shortly after this interview Miss Sharon Stone flew back to the United States and has declared through her agent that no future interviews will be granted to the gutter press.

Monday, 8 October 2007

The unbearable tightness of being

Wetwang- Among the twisting rural roads of east Yorkshire, nestled amid the flourishing cash crops sits the tiny hamlet of Wetwang.
It's to this tiny corner of rural England that News direct has come to meet one of Yorkshire's most famous residents.

Albert Spong has lived in Wetwang all of his adult life and takes immense pride in the fact that his twenty five year old shoes have never once left the boundaries of his cherished parish.
But it is not Mr Spong's aversion to travel that has made him Wetwang's most famous denizen, it's Mr Spong's aversion to spending pennies that has thrust him into the harsh light of village wide celebrity.

Sixty eight year old Albert met me at the gate of his ramshackle cottage and after making me wipe my feet four times he invited me into the small home he shares with a blind cat called Terry.
Upon first impressions Mr Spong casts an air of pitiful rural poverty, from his unkempt Grey hair to his badly patched trousers, one might be tempted to feel at least a shred of pity for the plight of the nation's forgotten poor.
But as the well worn cliche says, one should never judge a book by its cover, for amazingly Mr Spong is one of Yorkshire's richest men.

After moving Terry from the chair by the cluttered fireside Mr Spong graciously offered me a seat and stood warming himself gently before the unlit fire, while eyeing me suspiciously.
"I suppose tha' want tea lad?"
"Thanks, tea would be lovely."
"Well I ain't got any! What you think this is? Some kind of free cafe? Somewhere you can just wander in off the street and fill your gut with free tea? You want tea there's a cafe two villages over."
"I will do without for now then thanks."
"Suit y'self lad, suit y'self."
Mr Spong continued to theoretically warm himself by the non existent fire that continued to roar ferociously in the empty grate like a lion with laryngitis, never once taking his eyes from mine "I suppose you'll be wanting to ask some questions won't tha' lad?"
"If that's okay with you?"
"Questions don't cost nowt lad."
"Tell me about your family."
"Not much to tell really."
"Your father was a farmer?"
"And that's were you acquired your huge fortune?"
His hand instinctively cupped his tattered pocket "Who said I had a huge fortune? Was it that old cow in the post office?? People in this village should mind their own business, folks have no right talking about a man's personal business to strangers from the south."
"I'm not from the south."
"Well you sound like you are."
"I've been ill!"
"Alright son, no need to get all aggravated."
"I wasn't."
"Yes you were."
"I was just making the point that I'm not from the south."
"There's nowt wrong with being from the south."
"No course not, some of my best friends are southerners."
"People is people, you'll learn that when you get to my age and there is no use in discriminating against folks who are disadvantaged in some way."
"No of course not, so your parents?"
"Father worked these fields dawn to dusk never once took a holiday in his whole life, mother she kept house and in all the years I knew her she never once complained or bought anything new at all."
"So it was your parent's hard work and thriftiness that brought you your immense wealth?"
"You worked your father's land and made your fortune from the foundations he laid?"
"You discovered you had a knack for the stock market and through careful investment steadily built up a fortune?"
"Well how did you become one of Yorkshire's richest men then?"
"Well it's the queerest thing one night about four years ago I was coming home from the pub, obviously I hadn't been drinking, cos the tight buggers in this village keep an eagle eye on their drinks and even though I was sat at the bar all night not one of the tight sods offered to buy me a drink. Anyway, I was coming down Clackett's lane there just behind Mrs Sykes house, you know near the postbox?"
"You sure your not from down south?"
"Yes! I've had a cold!"
"I believe you! Just checking! So I'm walking along and I see this pink thing in the road, now here Iam thinking brilliant! An Elastoplast! I bends down to pick it up sharpish and discovers it's not an Elastoplast at all."
"What was it?"
"It was a lottery ticket."
"How did that make you feel?"
"Well I was gutted! Have you seen the price of Elastoplasts nowadays? Shocking what they charge it really is."
"And so that's how you came by your huge fortune?"
"It wasn't a winning ticket."
"But you said you were going to tell me how you came by your immense wealth."
"And so I will lad if you give me a chance!!"
"I should think so!"
"I just thought.."
"Yeah well, you know what thought did don't you, that's the trouble with people nowadays they want everything now. They don't have the good sense to wait and see what patience will bring."
"Sorry, please go on."
"Where was I?"
"Clackett's lane just by the postbox."
"Oh you do know it?"
He eyed me again and suspicion became the child my denials had conceived.
"You sure your not from..."
"No!!! I've been ill!!"
"Alright! You can be very aggressive you know."
"Sorry, It's just that I have had a lot on lately and then getting the cold on top has made me a little edgy."
"Okay, it's forgotten, where was I?
"Clackett's lane behind Mrs Sykes, just by the post box."
"Oh you know it?"
"Are you just deliberately trying to wind me up now?"
Spong creased himself and forcing back a strangled giggle said "Aye!"
I sat unmoving in the tattered armchair and waited out his mirth. Ten minutes later when the tears and the giggles had subsided enough for him to continue I asked "Ready?"
He made a conscious effort to compose himself and suitably calmed he asked "Where was I?"
"Oh for fucks sake!!! Don't start that again!!!!"
"No I'm sorry son, I wont do it again honest."
"Well are you going to tell me or not?"
"About what?"
"About how you became so fucking rich!!!! you annoying old cunt!!!!"
"There's no need for that!"
"There is because ever since I walked into this fucking house all you have done is try to wind me up, didn't even get a cup of fucking tea."
"Oh you wanted tea?"
I stood.
"That's it I've had enough. I don't fucking care how you got your money, I told them I was too ill to work!! but no they made me come all the way up here.."
"Ahh so finally the truth emerges! You are a southerner!!!"
"Go fuck yourself!! You old miser."
With that I hurriedly left Mr Spong's house and made certain that I would be destined to be one more puzzled soul wandering the earth and forever wondering just how had Albert Spong become one of Yorkshire's richest men.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

If this is man

Hull-Sitting quietly alongside Hull's main dock road oblivious to the heavy traffic and the vagaries of time is the huge Gothic gargoyle that goes by the name of Her Majesty's prison Hull.
This cathedral of correction is to be the venue for one of News direct's most controversial and dangerous interviews, for we are here to meet Britain's most dangerous prisoner Alfie "The nutter" Dixon.
Dixon, the scourge of the country's prison service has been in every prison on the mainland UK since entering the system in 1974 on the relatively minor charge of littering.
His subsequent behaviour while serving at her majesty's pleasure has ensured a seemingly never ending sentence and an infamy that will surely live long after they carry his still dangerous corpse out through the prison gates.

I arrived at the prison at eight AM sharp to meet my guide for the day, Senior prison officer Sandra Mcpander, the huge woman stood unsmiling before the open door set into the massive locked gates and thrust out a huge paw in a bad imitation of welcome "You were supposed to be here at eight."
"It is eight isn't it?"
"No, it is not eight Sir, it's precisely six minutes past the hour of eight."
"Near enough."
Officer Mcpander's huge flat face turned a deeper shade of what I presumed was her normal purple pallor and said "No Sir, it's not near enough, it's six minutes past! Near enough is not good enough, this isn't Jazz, it's Her majesty's prison service."
She stood stock still and eyed me up and down while I looked at my shoes.
"Right Sir, shall we go in?"
She stopped midway through her turn towards the door and I just about stopped my forward motion in time to avoid her huge bulk that was now blocking the tiny door.
"Don't you use manners in that there London?"
"I'm not from London."
"You sound like you are."
"I'm not."
"You sure?"
"Theres a definite southern edge in your accent."
"I've been unwell recently."
She seemed happy with my denials, but continued to block the door while I looked nervously at my familiar shoes and wondered why.
Several uneasy and quiet moments slipped past until I suddenly realised what she wanted and stuttered "Can we go in now please Officer Mcpander?
She gave me an imitation of a smile "That wasn't so hard was it Sir?
"No Officer Mcpander."
"Manners don't cost anything, do they?"
"No Officer Mcpander."
"So in the future will we remember this?"
"Yes officer Mcpander."
"Now Sir, if you'd like to walk this way we can get started."
She Squeezed her huge frame through the tiny door and motioned for me to follow her.

Just inside the gate there was a small reception area brightly lit and sanitised from the outside world by three inches of bullet proof glass.
Officer Mcpander marched up to the speaker set squarely into the glass and shouted into it "Mcpander and guest to see prisoner 4826 Dixon."
The officer behind the glass looked quickly up from his paper work and seemingly drained of colour, he squeaked through the tinny speaker "Dixon?"
Mcpander nodded towards me and Mouthed through the glass "He's from London, reporter."
The officer in his glass cocoon laughed and pressed a button under his desk that noisily opened a thick door.
After filling out copious forms and liability chits, Officer Mcpander led me into the main body of the prison, through sterile institutional corridors, until we came to a small room marked 'Interview room'.

Officer Mcpander opened the hefty door "If you will be so kind as to take a seat sir."
I walked into the bare room, sat behind the lonely wooden table and nervously awaited the arrival of Britain's most dangerous man.
Ten long minutes later the door swung open to reveal a man who appeared to be the spitting image of Charles Hawtry.
I was at first shocked, then relieved at the sight of Alfie 'The nutter' Dixon as he appeared to have muscles of a young girl suffering from polio and looked as dangerous as a plastic butter knife.
Officer Mcpander carefully pushed Dixon into the room and lowered his handcuffed frame onto the chair before me.
As he placed his almost feminine hands upon the table Officer Mcpander said "I will be leaving him cuffed, there is a button located just under table. If the prisoner makes any sudden moves or lewd suggestions, just press it and we will have the emergency response unit in here quicker than you can say 'Help!! Dangerous prisoner 4826 Dixon is attacking me and I urgently require immediate assistance from Her majesty's emergency response team'."
"Right you are officer, but I'm sure that won't be necessary."
"I will be leaving the door open as a safety precaution."

So here I was alone with Britain's most dangerous man, the air seemed charged with anticipation as we both sat in absolute silence and weighed the other man up.
Dixon seemed the antithesis of the man I heard so much about, his thin frame and delicate hands seemed more suited to light clerical work than kidnap and murder.
It seemed incongruous that this was the same man who had killed fourteen fellow prisoners and two guards all with his bare hands. Was this really the man who had eaten the prison chaplain in just under an hour?
We sat in silence.

"Why have you come to see me?" the sudden feminine voice shocked me and I scrambled quickly for a response.
"I'm from the world famous News direct."
"Never heard of it."
"Yeah you have."
"No I haven't."
"Yeah you must have!"
"No, I haven't."
"Surely you have, Hitler's ladyboy's, Panda sex expose, Giant squids?"
"I've been in prison since 1974."
"Oh right, and you don't get the internet?"
"Oh ok, anyway your original sentence was for a week and a day, for the offence of littering, I believe?"
"Yes that was my original crime but I..."
"You've really never heard of News direct?"
"Mouse club, Blair infamy, Sex change dogs."
"Does this disconnection with the world in some way fuel your barbarism?"
"In what sense?"
"Well in the sense that if you had maybe had access to quality publications such as... ohhh I don't know, lets say News direct for arguments sake, would you have still felt the same sense of anger and violence towards the world?"
"I killed my first man three hours after arriving in prison so I don't think so no."
"But could the lack of access to News direct have been a contributing factor in your later murders?"
"I don't know."
"But you do concede that it could have been a contributing factor?"
"Well I suppose so."
"So what you are basically saying is that if you had had access to News direct thirteen people could still be alive?"
"That's what I think you are meaning to say, but don't let me put words in your mouth, our readers want to hear what you think."
"Are you from London?"
"No! I've had a cold recently."
"I was only asking, you sound like you have a southern twang."
"No, It's the lingering vestiges of a cold."
"The chaplain I ate was a southerner, Kent I think."
"Do southerners taste differently to northerners?"
"Oh yeah they are tastier, northerners are very fatty, I'd much rather eat a southerner they taste quite like veal."
"Yeah, I think it's the diet."
"Yeah you're probably right they don't eat proper food, I once knew a girl from Reading and all she ever ate was salads."
"Did she taste like Veal?"
"No not really, more like Tuna."
"Well I personally prefer them, they are tastier they are more like free range produce, where as your northerners are like something Bernard Matthews would try to feed your kids."
"That's interesting, if you'd have had more time would you have added, I don't know, maybe some some thyme and a little garlic?"
"Oh yeah that would have been lovely, maybe a splash of red wine and some rosemary too."
"Yeah I would have thought that a nice piece of meat like that deserves it, me personally I would cook it slowly."
"Yeah but I didn't really have the time, I had to eat him raw before the guards could kick the chapel door down, gave me terrible indigestion."

The huge frame of Officer Mcpander filled the doorway and then disappeared quietly back into the institutional walls.
Dixon sighed "Thats the worst thing about prison they are always watching you."
"But you do have a tendency to eat people when they don't Alfie, I can call you Alfie can't I?"
From a myriad of chuckles he said "That's true I do!! Yeah you can call me Alfie."
"Do you ever wish your life had turned out differently Alfie?"
"Sometimes I wish I hadn't done the things I've done, but you can't continue to look backwards all your life you must concentrate on the future."
"On tomorrows tasty victims."
He laughed uproariously and using his manacled hands to wipe away a stray tear he said "That's right, I always say that at the end of every key chain theres a pot of meat."
"Do you think you would have read News direct if those bastards had have given you access?"
"What's it about?"
"People like you Alfie."
"Sounds fascinating, is it very popular?"
"Oh yeah."
"What kind of readership do you get?"
"Well we don't like to judge our success on reader numbers but more on the quality of our readership."
"So it's not doing well then?"
"Shame it sounds brilliant and you are obviously not only a very handsome man, but also a very talented one."
"Yeah I can't understand it, I feel like I'm throwing pearls at pigs Alfie."
"It must be very frustrating."
"Oh it is, you cannot imagine the sheer loneliness of ceaseless creativity. Some nights I'm so depressed about it I will not be able to cook and have to order a takeaway."
"Sounds horrible."
"It is, the only half decent takeaway is a Japanese one about five miles away, so the sushi is always cold when it arrives, have you ever eaten a Japanese?"
"No we don't get many foreigners in here."
"It's not good mate, and it tends to make me more depressed."
"You just have to stick at it and keep going."
"But I get so low Alfie."
"You're better than that, come on wipe your eyes. Don't let the bastards grind you down"
"Yeah, you're right."
"Yeah things will pick up, I'm sure in a few years time Story news will be the biggest site on the whole interwebby thing."
"It's News direct."
"Yeah, News direct will be huge."
"You really think so Alfie? You're not just saying that?"
"No, I believe you can do it."
Officer Mcpander then arrived and lifted Alfie's slight frame from his seat.
I protested "That's never an hour!!"
She ignored me and continued to guide Alfie through the open door, I stood quickly and leaned over the desk "Thanks Alfie!"
Alfie looked over his shoulder "Keep going and don't get discouraged, I know you can do it!"
"Thanks Alfie, I will, I'll make News direct the best site on the whole damn web!!!! I'll write to you Alfie!!"
And with a handcuffed wave and a smile Britain's most dangerous prisoner was gone.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

On the trail of the Giant Squid

Arrrgghh mon Kapitan, dis iz what we call le squiddly gigantique. Regardez vous iz deadly tentacles!!! Dis deadly fish can snapez un homme like a petit femme!
Jules Verne- Twenty thousand leagues under the sea.

New Zealand- Ever since man first gazed across the endless blue expanse of the world's oceans, he has been both enthralled and disturbed by the fathomless mysteries contained deep within its salty heart.
When mans thirst for adventure and unquenchable curiosity eventually pushed him out from the relative safety of the land and on to the world's oceans he was reluctantly forced to come face to face with his most ancient and deep seated of fears.
The unknown creatures of the deep.
Today we laugh at the notion of supernatural sea monsters but ever since the earliest times, returning sea voyagers have gathered the land loving around flickering fires and told them the heart stopping tales of the giant calamari known to sailors since the days of ancient Greece as the Kraaken!!

News direct decided to send me to New Zealand's southern most island to meet a man who not only claims to have seen the legendary Kraaken, but also to have had endured a fifteen day life and death struggle to avoid being its unwilling prey.
Oban is a pretty little harbour town nestled on tiny island of Stewart, at first glance one might suspect that incest and casual buggery were its main preoccupations but a short walk along the noisy quayside soon dispels one's worst fears and replaces them with an admiration that you are obliged to feel for any man who willingly braves the inhospitable southern oceans in order to feed his family.

On a small promontory over looking Oban harbour sits the legendary seaman's pub, The wary cabin boy, where I am to meet Captain Nate Skidby, ex master of the Tuna boat the Lucky penguin.
I entered the Wary cabin boy cautiously, aware of its reputation as rough house and a place where a man could be violently shanghaied and sold to white slavers before he had even reached the bar.
After accustoming my eyes to the gloom I was surprised when a spotty teenager in a striped shirt and eye patch sidled up to me and shakily asked "Will you be eating a hearty pirate's lunch with us today matey? Our lunch specials are salty sea pork with Pacific rice or Barbary chicken served with Bluebeard's fries."
I politely declined his offer, still unsure as to whether this was one of the old white slaver tricks they used to lure unsuspecting men into their foul trade, and told the suspicious looking lad that I was here to meet the Captain of the Lucky penguin.
He eyed me nervously and no doubt figuring I was wise to his dastardly plans, he changed tack and said "Can I get you a drink while you wait?"
I ordered rum just to make sure he knew I wasn't some soft handed, martini drinking land lubber itching for five year trip on his brine cursed slave schooner to hell.
After he had told me it was company policy not to serve straight rum in the afternoons and I had changed my order to a dry white wine he showed me to a small corner table and told me he would inform me when the captain arrived.

Two hours later I was still sat at the gingham covered table playing with the ship shaped salt cellar and watching the savage bar staff sing "Happy piratey birthday" to a fat young Asian lad who was too busy hoovering up shrimp to notice their tuneless rendition.
I was just about to give up the hope of ever meeting Captain Skidby when a ominous Captain shaped shadow cast its self across my table and a wind flaked voice said "Arrr be you the one that seeks knowledge of deadly beast some call..... the KRAAKEN!!!!?"
I turned quickly, to see before me the Captain of the Lucky penguin and the only man alive to duel with the parrot faced beast of the deep and live to tell the tale.
The captain took a seat beside me and pulled out a weather beaten old pipe and after the suspicious stripy shirted teenager had told him he couldn't smoke, because we were apparently seated in a non smoking section of the Wary cabin boy, he began to tell me his amazing tale "Arrrr the sea, she be a cruel mistress, one minute playful and the next a foul enchantress hoping to take your briney soul to the depths of Davy jones locker arrrr."
At this point the suspicious kid had returned and told the Captain if he didn't put his pipe away he would have to ask us to leave.
The Captain cried indignantly "It's not even lit!! I must say this really is appalling, if I have to suffer another unwarranted interruption from you, I will have to have a word with your supervisor, it's really not on!"
After the acne incubating lad had slinked away into the nearby kitchens the Captain returned to his salty tale of doom "Where was I?"
"The sea is a cruel mistress."
"Oh yeah,thats right, arrrrr that she be. Now lad, I had been the master of the Lucky penguin for more years than that old rust bucket had rivets."
"How long was that?"
The Captain looked in to the far distance and mentally counted the number of years he had navigated the old girl through the cruelest of seas.
"About five years, no tell a lie, about three and a half years. Anyway, arrrrrrr she was a good ship but the crew were the scurviest set of dogs you would ever 'ave the misfortune to meet. Every man jack of 'em would sell their mothers for the price of a keg of grog or the latest mobile phone. They were wanted in every port from the Barbary coast to the straits of Malacca, but they were my crew and together we worked that old ship like she was a ten dollar Filipino whore."

Before the Captain could continue, a new stripy shirt had arrived at the table trailing the young stripey shirt behind him "Excuse me Sir, Gavin says you have a problem with our non smoking policy for this area of the Wary cabin boy bistro and bar."
"Jesus Christ!! I took my pipe out, not to smoke, but to give a little bit of atmosphere to my tale and this kid runs over and tells me I can't smoke here!!! I wasn't smoking it, I don't even smoke! I'm not even sure this is a real pipe, I got it from that souvenir shop on the front there."
The new stripey shirt apologised to the captain and said "I'm so sorry sir, Gavin can be a little over zealous because he is new and wants to impress me. I hope this hasn't spoiled your authentic pirate experience here at the Wary cabin boy Bistro and bar."
The captain sighed "No it's fine honestly."
"You're sure?"
"Yeah, dont worry about."
"Can I give you a complimentary dish of salty pirate nuts?"
"No honestly its fine."
"You're sure?"
"And this minor inconvenience wouldn't stop you from returning to the Wary cabin boy Bistro and bar on future occasions to sample our authentic piratey family atmosphere?"
The Captain watched the striped shirts depart shook his head and resumed his tale of watery doom "Where was I? Ohhh yeah, arrrrrr we were five hours out from Oban on the oily trail of the elusive Tuna shoals, when things began to take a turn for the mutinous. I was in my cabin teaching the new cabin boy the ways of the sea and how to swallow "Oysters" without gagging, when the door to my cabin was kicked open and there stood before me was the blood thirstiest set of cut throats you ever did see!
I quickly pulled my pants up and asked what was wrong. The leader, black hearted Jake Mcoy, told me the crew were bored of fishing and had decided to take over the ship so they could take it further south and do some whale watching. I said "This is mutiny Mr Mcoy and you'll not take the Lucky penguin from me without a fight."
When I came to I was alone and cast adrift in the Lucky penguin's only lifeboat. No man can know the desolation of the open ocean until he has found him self adrift with nought but a compass and fishing line.
Four days and nights I was tossed about that small wooden boat, just waiting for the storms to calm so I could cast my line and try to catch something to save me from the starvation that was creeping silently into my hollow belly.
On the fifth day I awoke to a glass calm sea and quickly set about trying to catch me some dinner, if I had known now what trouble it would lead me into I would have lain down right there and then and let the cursed fingers of hunger drag me to my final rest."

The captain stopped for a moment and watched Gavin walk past "You little prick!"
Gavin pretended not to hear and the Captain wiped his sweating brow and ploughed on "Arrr so there I be, dangling my line into those fathomless depths when all of a sudden the line tightened and my stomach churned in anticipation of its first meal in days. I pulled on that line with all the strength I had left in my weary limbs, as I pulled and pulled I could feel my meal pulling back and knew that it was to be a life and death struggle."
Gavin's boss suddenly appeared at the table, notebook in hand and asked the Captain if he was now ready to order.
The Captain wearily placed his head in his hands and then looked up exasperated at Gavin's boss and said "No."
"Are you sure? Today's chef's specials are Long John Silver's jubilee shrimp platter and our most popular dish, Captain Morgan's mussel surprise."
The Captain framed his face in puzzlement and asked "Why is it a mussel surprise?"
"There's no mussels in it, it's a Moroccan lamb dish."
The Captain looked at me open mouthed, then back to Gavin's boss "We won't be eating."
"Are you sure?"
"No need to be aggressive sir!"
"Look, I'm sorry, but we won't be eating thank you."
"Is this because of your earlier difficulties with Gavin?"
"No, I'm just not hungry."
"I can recommend the Sardine mariachi, the chef takes fresh Sardines and marinates them in Tequila and chili while playing a specially chosen mix of traditional Mexican folk music."
"And your refusal to eat with us at his present moment in time wouldn't stop you from choosing the Wary cabin boy on any future occasion you decided to turn your meal into a piratey adventure?"
Gavin's boss seemed happy with the Captain's assurances and seamlessly merged into the Wary cabin boy's nautical decor.
"Right, as I was saying, I pulled on that line with every last ounce of strength I had left in my hunger ravaged body and as my prize neared the surface it was then that the full horror of my impending situation hit home.
There it was!!! I was eye to inky eye with the KRAAKEN!!!! As I stared horrified into the mammoth eye of the great slippery beast I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and turned to see one of its great tentacles poised to attach its suckers to the side of my shocked head.
Terror has a name and its name is KRAAKEN!!!!
Thinking quickly, I grabbed an oar from the floor of the boat and plunged it sharply into that dinner plate eye, the beast let out a blood curdling shriek and uncoiled its self from my tiny boat and slipped gently back into the foul depths from whence it had emerged.
I was in shock!! Of course I had heard the tales of the Kraaken but assumed they were an old sea dog's tale, but let me tell you my friend the Kraaken was as real as hemorrhoids and now it knew that there was a ready packed lunch floating just above its salty domain!
I knew that great fish would be back so I resolved I wouldnt sleep until I was either rescued or made land fall.
By day seven lack of sleep and hunger had taken their toll and I was convinced I was a young Judy Garland floating on a marshmallow sea in a boat made of silver pennies, those were my darkest hours and until a man travels into the dark night of the soul he can never know the terrors that lie in wait there.
It was the morning of day eight when the great beast made his second attempt on my life, I had just finished an obviously acapella version of "Don't rain on my parade" when I saw from the corner of my eye a heavily tentacled limb creeping over the bow.
In my delirious state, I at first thought it was Mickey Rooney climbing aboard so we could go over our new dance routines.
As it reached out and grabbed my ankle I remembered it was the dastardly Kraaken and began to beat it mercilessly with the oar I had luckily been using as a cane during my last song and dance routine.
It seemed like an eternity of hours passed as we danced that fateful samba of death and just as it seemed my last reserves of strength were gone, my slippery foe gave up and slinked back down into the cold deep pastures some men like to call the sea.
I never saw him again after that, I think he realised that I was his equal in all things, except obviously arm numbers. My guess is he had decided to try his luck with easier prey, maybe a sea sick porpoise or a disorientated whale, I just don't know.
Six days later I was picked up by the Lucky penguin on their way back from whale watching and I have never seen the great beast again."

The Captain leaned back in his chair, looked round him to make sure Gavin was watching, and stuck his pipe firmly between is teeth.
Gavin hovered nearby and covertly sniffed the air around him in the hopes of smelling some telltale evidence of the Captain's rough shag.
"That's some story Captain, did you go back to sea after your ordeal at the hands of the Kraaken?"
"Arrrr I never did lad, I never did, I figured the old woman of the sea had given me fair warning. Now I sell insurance door to door, are you covered?"
"Yeah, fully thank you."
"We do a very good home and contents policy, or there is a life and fire insurance that we only offer to specially deserving clients like your good self."
"No thanks, really I'm fine honest."
"We can comprehensively insure you and all your loved ones for an unbeatable price of five hundred NZ dollars a month."
"Pet insurance?"
"Window insurance?"
"Insurance insurance?"
"No....what is that anyway?"
"It's a policy I devised whereby you can insure yourself against the future cost of any insurance policy you may take out in the future."
I shook hands with the Captain and after refusing six more policies made my way out onto the terrace and looked across the unforgiving southern ocean and shuddered at the thought of that elusive beast lurking mysteriously somewhere beneath its white capped waves.