49 years and 11 months and three weeks and 7 days.

Yesterday I hit a milestone. It felt like a millstone but apparently it was a milestone. A half century. 49 years and 12 months old. five decades. Anything but that fi… no I cannot even force myself to see that number in print. I am no longer young. I am no longer youthful. I am in fact getting to the point where middle-aged is something I look back on.
How do I feel? well like many people I feel the same as the day before. I ache when I get out of bed, my knees crack and snap like old twigs and I start far too many conversations with the phrase “When I was their age..”. Getting old is something no-one can do about, even our best scientists are only able to theorise about time travel and until theory becomes practice I will have to accept that the chap with the scythe is starting to contemplate paying me a visit.
I can see the bright side to getting old. I read the papers and can remember the stories that start with “Thirty years ago today the ZX Spectrum was launched!”. Things that become collectible I now own and are in the attic. Of course, how valuable 8 tracks and betamax video recorders are is anybody`s guess.
I still say the dreadful thing that us oldies say, “The music was better in our day!” I still listen to the music I listened to when I was a spotty long-haired youth, Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and The Scorpions. In the last three years I have seen all these bands performing on stage and can be found recanting to a rapidly diminishing crowd “Well yes but you really should have seen them in the “ace up your sleeve” tour of 1980″. At this point it will be pointed out that non of the people I am talking to were born then. Wife tends to lead me away as I start to sob at this point.

Of course the main consolation to arthritis, failing eyes, memory loss and….well I forget the other stuff, is that I am actually financially slightly solvent. I get Wife`s money from a cash machine and seldom check the balance. The mortgage is a mere slap on the bottom compared to the knee in the groin that it once was. We have actually traded in the last few cars as opposed to normally having them towed to a scrap yard. Going out for a meal is a pleasant experience now that we no longer have to sweat just in case service charge is added to the bill.

I suppose the main thing is that I am comfortable with my age. I am a happy chappy, provided I can grumble when I feel like it, and can hobble to the pub without too much whinging.When a pretty young lady smiles, approaches me and offers me her seat I think I will be rapidly looking over my shoulder for a sign of the Grim Reaper!

Whose a nice man?

I recently watched John Major appear before the Leveson enquiry. He was always lampooned as a grey man who liked cricket and warm beer. His puppet on Spitting Image was devoid of colour and engrossed with the number of peas on his plate. One or two commentators at the time defended him as being a nice man. How to damn somebody with faint praise! A nice politician! Unheard of! He obviously had to go!
I actually thought he seemed like a decent sort of bloke. One of those who would be in a group at the pub joining in the laughter but not being at the fore-front of the conversation. We like our politicians with plenty of charisma and character, but we do not like anybody who might actually listen to anybody else. Changing your mind is a bad thing so does that mean that listening to the people who elected you is also a bad thing? A standard political insult is to say that they have performed a “u turn”. Does that mean we would have more respect if they had carried on and driven off the edge of the cliff rather than listen to the passengers screaming ” NOOOOOO!”
When Tony Blair was first elected as Prime Minister he smiled and exuded a confidence that won over millions of voters. Now he is regarded as the anti-christ and many people call for him to be tried as a war criminal. Is a politician like a boxer? supported by the masses on the way up and when he receives a knuckle sandwich he is to be removed from the ring surrounded by people all agreeing that they never thought much of him in the first place.
Do we want “nice” people to represent us? I suspect that we really want a bully who rides roughshod over everybody listens to nobody. Of course that has been tried…..several times!
I do have to give John Major one large pat on the back. He apparently had a bit of a thing with Edwina Curry. In that case he must be made of very stern stuff indeed!

That is enough politics for now, next week I will be back to moaning about the weather.

The Thoughts of Chairman Monkey.

Since I am just about to start my third pint, I have very generously decided to solve the UK`s financial,social and environmental crisis.

Housing. Houses are too expensive and people are spending too much time working merely to put a roof over their heads. To solve this problem I will immediately cancel all housing benefit and only allow banks to lend two-and-a-half times joint wages for a mortgage. This will force the house prices down and mean that rents too will fall.No longer will the government shell out loads of money to support huge rents. Landlords will have to adjust their rates according to what they can get and I suppose a few will take a bit of a loss. Since the value of your investment can go down as well as up, it’s a bit of bad luck for those who have decided to treat their house as an investment rather than a home.

Crime is the next thing to sort out. No more softly softly stuff. One warning and then your on your way to clink. Re-offending will not be a problem as very few crimes can be committed whilst the perpetrator is locked in a prison cell. Criminals who refuse to mend their ways will stay in prison and therefore pose no real problem. Human rights legislation will be scrapped, as will race-hate crimes. If somebody gets a punch up the hooter, it will only be necessary to prove that the punch was thrown and not thrown because of the other person skin colour,race,religion or gender. An example as follows. ” You hit the other person because he was gay?.” “No m`lud, I have many gay friends.” “case dismissed!” This will now change to ” You hit the other person?” “Yes m`lud” ” five years!” Simples! No need for new laws, just simple laws.

Drinking. There are many complicated ways of dealing with drunks. I will scrap them all and simple use the old-fashioned “drunk and disorderly” offence. It will be defined as being a bit of a nuisance. No need for anything else. First offence a week in gaol, second offence a month.

Driving. Any person failing to indicate at a junction or roundabout will be taken from their car, whipped by the side of the road and their car burned in front of their eyes. Second offence and we are talking electric chair time. Driving with no insurance will be punished by two years in prison and a fine of five time what it would have cost initially. Driving at below 60MPH on the motorway when it is clear will get you a two year driving ban.

Tax. VAT to be removed from real ale.Excise duty to be removed from real ale. Real ale to be tax deductible. ( No point being chairman if you cannot work a few perks in your own direction!). Since everybody suffers due to high fuel cost, a 50% reduction in fuel duty for a starter. Windmills to be scrapped as is all government feed-in tariff for solar panels. If they are worth doing, they should pay for themselves.This will then reduce everybody fuel bills.

Education. Exams to be made really really hard. Only the top 10% go to university. Everybody else to go to work.

Europe. Out.

Although my plans might seem a tad harsh (or even impracticable) I am sure the money saved would go a long way to ensure a happy and harmonious country with me as the glorious leader and my portrait on display at all public locations. Any minor technicalities I am sure can be overcome….Viva el Monkey!

comedy..it`s a funny old game.

There is a fair bit of criticism of Ricky Gervais on the news and internet at the moment. It all seems to involve the use of a word that used to be associated with disability but has fallen out of common usage. Comedy is a very difficult thing to define. “Edgy” comedians have pushed the envelope for many years, even in the 50`s and 60`s there was a push to shock or do something so unusual that would cause a ripple. I suppose that ripple was turned into a tidal wave by the likes of “Monty Python`s Flying circus” and a tsunami was set off by “Not The Nine`O` Clock news.”

I always liked the new breed of stand-up, Ben Elton was gobby enough to entertain and his “right-on” approach of Thatcher-bashing endeared him to thousands of students over the 80`s. Soon, however, it became more of an arms race about who could offend more. The swearing become more frequent and failed in that it no longer got a shocked laugh. Chubby Brown had a fairly old-fashioned comedy routine. He told fairly plain jokes but swore every other word. The humour was based on how many swear words could be fitted into a “knock-knock” joke. I lost interest.

I started enjoying sit-coms much more. I found that some were actually well written and actually funny! “Yes Minister” and ” Yes Prime Minister” featured such high quality writing that they stand the test of time. I still enjoy watching “Dad`s Army” re-runs, although I never cared much for Corporal Jones. I found his character just a shade over the top,spoiling slightly the wonderful belief that these people could have actually existed. I always liked the pompous ass of a bank manager who would bluster and brag his way through life but when the chips were down would actually display a stunning bravery and self-sacrifice that seemed so much out of character yet so expected.

American sit-coms seemed to suffer with an overload of saccharine. The formulaic family seemed to always come up trumps in the end with a nice moral message for the viewer just after the final advert break.The American`s biggest strength was always it `s biggest weakness. somebody would come up with an idea for a comedy and then would take a gang of writers to carry it on. To death and beyond in too many cases. “Roseanne” was a case in point to me. It followed the lives of an American working class family. The trials and tribulations of day-to-day life were documented with plenty of jokes and one-liners thrown in. I could believe that this family existed. The characters were exaggerated versions of people I knew so I could laugh throughout out. unfortunately the whole thing ran out of steam and instead of being taken out and shot, it`s lifeless corpse was filled with a lottery win to transform the family from working class to the idle rich in one advert break. Suddenly the empathy with the family went. The sarcastic daughter became a yummy mummy and the appeal of the series evaporated like the atmosphere  at a night club when the lights are turned back on.

My favourite comedy is a close run thing. I liked ” Yes, Minister” because I could appreciate the superb acting and could also believe in the characters. The hapless Hacker harried by Sir Humphry and the wonderful Bernard pedantically correcting every mixed metaphor, what was not to enjoy by this tale of political skulldugery?

The favourite has to be “Two and A Half Men”. The jokes that push the boundaries, the superb characterisation of the main players, the believability of the whole situation and the lack of a nice character makes it so funny. Nobody could admire any of the characters, yet the interplay makes the whole thing work. The character of Jake never gets to invoke the dreadful mawkishness of many American sit-coms  although it comes perilously close on or two occasions! The jokes that make me laugh are the double-entendres that mean that my nephews look a bit blank and all the adults laugh.

I watched “The Office”. I had no sympathy with the characters and found the whole thing too overblown.I failed to see the humour in a grotesque character who had no redeeming features. Mainwaring was a character who surreptitiously  ensured would be at the head of a dangerous mission, David Brent would be the character that would weasel his way out of it. I could laugh at Captain mainwaring, I merely cringe at David Brent.