Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Crate

On behalf of myself and my Romanian friend, I’d like to apologise to the passengers of the 8.32 express from London Euston to Bangor for the non-arrival of their train. Not that any of this is my fault, you understand. All I did was open the front door when the bell rang. The rest was merely the result of my being caught up in the maelstrom of history.

‘Delivery for Dale,’ said the thick set man from DHL. ‘You Dale?’

‘Big Chip Dale,’ I confirmed. ‘Thonglateer Extraordinaire, aka The Chipster.’

I only told him this because I’ve been expecting a large crate marked ‘THONGS’ to arrive from the manufacturer and I was already excited, anticipating an afternoon spent curing them. After a six hour soak in warm pineapple oil, each thong would have to be carefully beaten with a mallet until it became soft and pliable. Only then would I hang them up, still damp with oil, ready for the next performance. This, I think you’ll agree, is a detail of the stripper’s life that it’s rare to see portrayed in the media.

The delivery man’s eyes narrowed. Peas pressed beneath an iron heel came to mind. ‘This is for Gabriel Dale,’ he said.

‘There’s nobody here by that name,’ I replied, loudly enough to wake the sleeping Romanian, recently back from a night time commando training exercise in suburban England.

‘Wait, wait,’ came the excited squeal from the bedroom. The room shook and a door opened. ‘I Gabby,’ she said, racing to the door.

The delivery man looked down at her naked body and whistled.

‘I know what you’re thinking,’ I said. ‘Shark attack. Well it wasn’t. Those are the scars if battle and unless you want to add to them, you’d better hand over the package and stop keeping her waiting.’

He stuck his pencil behind his ear and turned back to the landing. He returned a minute later wheeling a large crate. By then, I’d persuaded Gabby to get dressed and I was alone to help the delivery man get the crate into the apartment. It was a huge box, with straw sticking out between the wooden lats. Across it were written words in Romanian that I could not interpret except they seemed to have some relevance to the big red skulls painted on each side. I tipped the guy fifty pence and he smiled the smile of a man who didn’t realise how close he had come to mortal danger.

‘Well?’ I asked Gabby as she arrived from the bedroom and began to circle the crate. ‘What is it? Please tell me that you’ve not ordered another goat.’

‘Gabby get samples from Romania,’ she said. ‘She so excited!’

‘Samples of what?’

She whipped the knife from the sheath she keeps strapped to her back and began to work the lid of the box open. Then she stuck her hand into the straw and retrieved something the size and shape of a thigh and tapered at one end.

‘Fireworks!’ she screamed and began to skip around the flat, cradling the explosive to her chest. ‘Gabby decide we have firework party so I email my friend. She have key to bunker.’

Has there ever been such an ominous word uttered by a Romanian dancing with a firework?

‘Bunker?’ I repeated. ‘What sort of bunker?’

‘It not matter. Fireworks here.’ She stopped skipping and her eyes went wide. ‘We try out now?’

‘Not here, you’re not,’ I said, leaping after her as she went to the drawer where we keep our box of matches.

‘Oh, but Gabby want to see if they work.’

‘Go out somewhere,’ I said as I tried to pull the matches from her fingers.

‘The park?’

‘It’s as good a place as any,’ I said, just happy to see her away from the flat.

‘And Chip come with me.’ She released the matched and grabbed my neck in a inverted-shoulder twist hug with added thigh grip. ‘Gabby and Chip go fireworking!’ she screamed as she let me go and began to start skipping with something I was sure was meant to be handled carefully.

Bangor’s park was cold, empty, and green. Gabby had found a place well away from the small play area set aside for toddlers and a row of trees separated us from the concrete bowl used by skateboarders. Not that either places were being used on a day when a man in thermal thong was still feeling the cold. My nipples were harder than pennies.

‘This is exciting,’ said Gabby as she worked a hole in the frozen grass. The rocket was to be supported by a thin piece of wood which Gabby was now pushing into the ground. ‘Gabby think this good fun.’

‘Are you sure that’s strong enough?’ I asked but Gabby wasn’t listening. She’d got the rocket pointing vertically, give or take then slight lean where the stick was bending under the weight of the big Romanian munition.

‘I think we should have a gantry for something that big,’ I said. But it was too late. Gabby was busy trying to light a match. ‘Look, Gabs, I don’t think…’

The match flared.

‘Ready!’ squealed Gabby as she applied the match to the fuse which immediately began to spit flames as it trailed across the ground. Gabby came running back to where I was hiding behind a tree. And not just a small tree. I think I’d chosen the biggest oak tree in Wales.

‘Gabby love fireworks,’ she said, her breath clouding in the cold air. For a moment, I was sure the condensation was in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

The rocket ignited with a magnificent rush of flames that immediately incinerated the feeble stick holding it upright. This accounted for it’s first movement, which was from the vertical and to the horizontal. Fortunately, it fell away from us and more towards the toddler’s swing area, towards which it immediately began to fly.

‘No!’ I mouthed as took a turn towards the shed used by the pensioners for their crown green bowling equipment. Only some change in the rocket’s altitude took it above the shed and it span around and began to sail harmlessly away from the park.

‘Wow,’ said Gabby.

I had no time for wows. I had just seen the rocket change direction yet again and it was now heading towards the rail tracks.

At any other time of the day, it would have sailed harmlessly over the embankment, clearing it by a good twelve feet. Unfortunately, with the 8.32 London Euston to Bangor Express sitting there, waiting for the signals to change, the rocket impacted at the mid point of the lead engine. The noise was like a dull thump. When the smoke cleared, I could see daylight through the mid section of the engine and beyond it, the trail of the rocket still climbing into the far distance.

‘It’s gone clean through it,’ I said.

Gabby clapped. ‘Armour tipped,’ she said with evident pride at the quality of Romanian fireworks.

We got home in time to hear the news of the explosion at the Army’s weapons dump outside Rhyl. No injuries have been reported at this time and the cause has yet to be determined. As for the hole in the 8.32 London Euston to Bangor Express, a migrating heron is thought to have been behind the mysterious hole. We all know quite different, of course, but for the sake of Welsh-Romanian relations, I’d think it best if we leave it there.

Gabby got home and ran straight to the crate to see if they’d sent another rocket. When it was evident they hadn’t, I sank into my armchair.

‘Let that be a lesson,’ I began.

‘Lesson? You mean bigger stick next time?’ asked Gabby standing up. In her arms was something three feet long with tail fins.

‘My God, what the hell is that?’

She hugged it to her breast. ‘This,’ she said, ‘is Romanian Strategic Cruise Roman Candle but I’m saving this for November fifth.’

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Take The Jeremy Clarkson Test


That’s for any of you who have already read this and having decided to test out my theory are reading it for a second time. But trying what out, do I hear you cry? Well, it’s my Jeremy Clarkson test, which I’m hoping to get approved by the great man as soon as I work out how to contact him.

I formed this theory when I noticed that Clarkson's books are hard avoid. They are in every shop, given away free with every bottle of Old Spice you buy from Boots, and you can’t have your breakfast without one falling out of a packet of ‘Oats Are A Bit Simple’. He is the nation’s most popular writer of non-fiction, unless you include Bill Bryson. But we don’t need to include Bill Bryson because we know that, all things being equal, it would come down to a fist fight and Clarkson wouldn’t play fair. Bryson would barely have time to strip off his comfortably warm woolly jumper before Clarkson would shoot him with an RPG he’s smuggled in from Afghanistan. Bryson would go the way of a Soviet helicopter high in the Hindu Kush.

It would leave Clarkson the winner and I could get on with explaining why I think he’s so popular. And it’s this:

Jeremy Clarkson is popular because it takes the same length of time to read one of his columns as it does to have a good bowel movement.

This is true. I encourage you to try is for yourself. This piece you're reading now is the perfect Clarkson length. The next time you feel yourself sliding towards a little relief, take this or any one of Clarkson’s witty rants about the French with you. You’ll find that from beginning to end, the column takes the same length of time to internalise as it does for you to, well, externalise.

Clarkson has mastered the lavatory read. He’s also adapted well to the unique requirements of this much misunderstood form of literature. Alfred Lord Tennyson was once the preferred choice of reading, with his long and slow moving poems the perfect thing for those low-fibre Victorians with fifty seven layers of britches and drawers. Have you not wondered why the nation has grown less intelligent as our dietary habits have improved? It is because we don’t spend as much time reading on the toilet. As everybody knows: it’s not what we learn in the classroom that improves us but what we read while we would otherwise be contemplating our knees.

Clarkson is the writer of the age. Humour is a proven relaxant, so his book, full of hair-brained schemes and slightly jingoistic looks at foreigners, are perfect for getting your insides moving. It’s certainly better than bouncing up and down for five minutes on the seat. He should really be prescribed on the national health instead of prunes, which as everybody knows, really are bad for you.

Okay. Now, I believe my time is up and those of you who have tried my little experiment will be wanting to pull up your trousers or skirts and be getting back to what you were doing. Those of you who haven’t finished, I really don’t know what to say. You’ve had all the time you needed…

Have you thought about eating more prunes?

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Back...

After a cold night and sombre morning spent at the local YMCA (it’s not a place you’d like to loiter wearing only a thong) the Chipster arrived home to find a contrite Romanian to greet him on the doorstep. It would appear that the embassy had sent staff to help her type up a forty two thousand word post about this year’s yeast harvest. Faced with such a grim demonstration of what blogging is really about, Gabby has decided to forgive me. As a sign of the new peace, I’ve promised her that whenever a new Rambo film comes out, I’ll allow her to blog about it in her new role as Military Advisor to Chip Dale’s Diary.

I will take me a few hours to get the house back in order. There’s a terrible smell of burnt chicken. I also have to fix the logo that Gabby has so foolishly defaced at the top of my blog. I don’t think I have a copy of the original so I can see I’ll have to nip to the photo booth in the local Post Office and pose for another picture of my buttocks.

Give me time and I’ll be back. I can’t say how good it is to be home, how much I’ve missed you all, and to thank you for the loyalty you showed during my absence. I also think that a certain gentleman with a liking for orange shirts came very close to committing to something he would have quickly regretted. What was he thinking? Doesn't he know that Gabby is the more well-balanced of the sisters?


‘I claim this blog on behalf of the people of the Republic of Romania.’

Gabby told by embassy people to type that. Now it mine and protected by laws of Romania and European Union. If Chip think he coming to post on here again he have Italian army on his ass.

Do you know what he tried to do tonight? He climbed ladder up to window. I leave window open on account of fire. It only little fire. Not worth mention. Then it caught curtain when chicken fly around room. Gabby put all fire out but room smells bad of burning feathers. Then Chippy tries to get in window. I tell him he’s sneaky and I hit his fingers with bucket. He goes like he hurt. I didn’t believe him. He always acting like he’s hurt. Even when he fell off ladder I knew there nothing wrong with him. I close window.

He now ring me to say he got to sleep in YCMA. I don’t know what YCMA is and I don’t care. Why he can’t sleep in park like Gabby and sister do when we first came here I do not know.

You might say Gabby being hard on Chip but what is beautiful sexy lady to do? I already have people saying how much they like me. Mrs. Baroque say she write me poem. Background Artist says he billionaire and he wants me and will hire hitman to sort out Chippy. But Gabby will say no. Gabby do own contracts than you very much.

I don’t know what to do with Chip. He such a handsome man and Gabby felt sorry for him when I watch him go limping into night. I hope YCMA are nice to man wearing only thong and cowboy boots. I hope they tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. Now Gabby feel lonely. Especial when Gabby’s sister very excited by man in orange but he play hard to get like Rambo in Rambo 3. But if he keep being cold sausage I ask Brucie Forsyth if he want to meet Gabby’s sister. And if Brucie say no, then I ask Elberry who likes tanks and keeps knifes in his bedroom.

Now Gabby crying and people at embassy say I must not cry. They say this is now biggest blog in Romania but Gabby troubled. I never wanted to be biggest blogger in Romania. They say I have to post story tomorrow about yeast harvest. I don’t care about yeast harvest.

I hope Chip having good sleep at YCMA. I hope he making new friends. I miss him like time I lost stone for sharpening knifes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gabby Likes Tanks

Chip angry. He goes out this morning and says he is not coming back. Well, I say we see if that is true. He gets so angry because I changed the password to his blog and I tell him that it is my blog now. I already get two comments. Two. On a Sunday! Whoo! Mrs. Baroque says she's my friend so I make a friend too which I say only proves that people want more Gabby and less Chippy always talking about his thongs and his wobbly bits.

I tell this to Chip and I never see Chip look so red. Then he turned white. I don’t like Chip when he gets angry and it makes me angry too. So what if I change password to this blog? Has he a right to get angry because I give it new exciting name? You like 'Gabby's Arms Dump'? I think it good title because it says that I dump all my thoughts and ideas here. I’m not letting him back until he promises to be nice to Gabriel.

Now this is my blog you can all look forward to more excellent posts by yours truly, Gabby. You can call be Gab, Gabs, or Sergeant Gabriel, is what I called back home in Romania where I trained recruits in rifles and explosives. I also did knife training but they stop me when I accidentally cut head off soldier.

You can see picture? It is a T55 battle tank used by Soviet Army. It is my favourite tank although I never get to try American tanks.

Today's question. What is your favourite tank?

Gabby Here...

Helo people. Gabby here. Chip gone bed. He asleep now and I just got in with good news. You can see vid? You as happy as me? I think so. Chip not know but I get tickets to film from friend who makes knifes. You all welcome to watch vid [Chip: I've removed the video because I'm sick of hearing the bloody Irish music every time I load the site. If you must, click the picture if you want to see knife porn]. If you want to come see film with Gabby, you tell me. I will be seeing it lots. Have plenty of room for Chippy's friends. I know who you all are and I want send presents to all. I won't say what presents is but it will make you strong and healthy if you cook and eat before it start to go off. And don't throw away feathers. I say no more. Spoil surprise.

I'm very glad I get chance to do nice thing for you all. Chip makes me sound like I'm very bad, which is very wrong of him. I'm lovely lady, kind, with good teets. I clean my teets with brush and Mcleans every morning for mints white. And when people annoy me, I don't hit them or get knife out. I usually talk to them and then get knife out. But not always to hurt them. A knife is good for many many uses... Many uses... Many many many uses... Okay, it usually to hurt people but not because I want to. But because Gabby is pushed. A bit like Rambo. He pushed. He not want go to war. He tell people 'I not fight for you'. But they push him like Gabby gets pushed. And then he runs around with big knife and big guns and makes bloody good films. A bit like Gabby only I make bloody good records like hokey cokey.

So people. Rambo is back and Gabby says you see it.




Saturday, October 27, 2007

Awoken: A Ghost Story

Yesterday is simply too complicated for me to go into great detail and I don’t think any of you really want to hear what happens when a stripper manages to offend the whole of Bangor’s unwed mothers with a silly little remark about the cooking times of buns in ovens. It took me some time and a free demonstration of my skills as Wales’ top stripper to bring them back on my side and by the time 2 o’clock came around, all was well with the world. The ladies loved me again.

I got home late and in a strangely relaxed mood. I sat down for an hour and penned the following little short story which I’m considering putting up on the Telegraph blog. I’m not a man to go in for these literary competitions, though I often take great delight in completing the entries. It’s not that I hate the idea of losing, but I do worry about winning. Not, I’ve ever won a thing for anything I’ve written, but for the highly esteemed Blogpower Most Literature Wordsmith award, which has since become enshrined in the form of a tattoo. Not that I have a tattoo, you understand, but Gabby volunteered to have it for me. I don't know why I'm telling you any of this given that I'm sure you've all heard the story of how James Higham’s portrait was recorded for immortality on the left cheek of the cheekier of the Cheeky Girls.

I’m off to soak in the bath while you enjoy or endure my weak attempt at supernatural fiction for Halloween.



I awoke to ghoulish laughter.

My mind strained against the lock of my eyelids, my neck against the numb hold of sweat that had soaked my hair into the pillow. My spirit was listless but my body awake, angry, confused, and when my eyes opened, they did so with an almost audible gasp that equated to vision.

The boy was standing at the bottom of the bed, his face contorted by laughter until he saw me wake and then it reformed itself into a look of calm bemusement. Ten years old, perhaps a little older, the boy was pale, fraught, nightmarish. I could hardly look on his face, marked as it was by sunken eyes like twin tender beds where dead bodies lay buried.

He was dressed for theatrics, wrapped inside a black cape and chewing on a set of plastic fangs, a grim totem of childish games and the role he had chosen to play. My attention seemed to change him and the teeth trailed saliva behind them as he spat them into his hand.

‘You’re awake,’ he said.

Just like that; bold and uncomplicated, as though a strange man waking up in his bed was nothing out of the ordinary.

I tried to speak but found nothing where I had last left my voice. Panic, fear, a sense of betrayal: they were coarse fibres, tangible like a noose around my throat.

‘I’m dreaming,’ I must have finally muttered.

‘You’re not afraid?’ he asked, looking down at the grin he held in his hand. ‘I guess you’re not. It’s not as though they’re like real teeth.’

‘I’m not afraid,’ I said. ‘But you need to tell me where I am.’

‘Lost,’ he said.

Lost? The question had to have been little more than a look in my eye but he seemed to know it by that alone.

‘This isn’t your place but I didn’t mind you resting a while,’ he answered. ‘You look sick. Mother always used to say that we help people who are sick or have lost their way.’

I could not bring myself to ask the easy questions. Where. How. Why. They sounded too direct when they formed in my mind. I feared that there might be an answer to each.

‘What is this place?’ I mouthed, feeling no better about the words I’d chosen.

‘This is where the undead make their home,’ he said in an assumed voice like that of a revenant spirit. Then he laughed and held up the teeth. ‘And you don’t belong here.’ He looked towards the door. ‘They’ll be here soon, so you’ll have to go back. They can’t see you. They can never see you.’

‘Go?’ I asked, raising myself. The movement sparked sensation in my body. I recognised it. Warm, languid, perhaps a touch of the opiate. For the first time, a thing made sense. There had been a time, a short time, when my problems had taken me by unawares. I had succumbed to temptation of the easy fix, the ten minute solution of the spoon and lighter. But that had been so long ago and a habit that I had formed and then unformed, even if I couldn’t remember how.

For the first time, I looked beyond the boy and at my surroundings. The room was familiar. I remembered that it had once been my bedroom. A toy aeroplane hung from the ceiling and twisted in an endless tailspin. The wallpaper, yellowed, had bubbled in places. Cold moisture saturated the corner of the room where I recognised the window, the recess where a seat overlooked what I knew was a garden, an apple tree, a place where a stream broke in a crooked line towards the house. In the recess sat a large pumpkin with a cruel razor slash of a mouth. Each, in a way, were the form if not the detail of something I remembered as my own childhood.

I wanted to ask if he thought he belonged to my world but he anticipated my question.

‘I’ll see you again,’ he said and before I could stop him he ran out of the room.

I struggled to my feet, more rolling out of bed than standing, but I found myself balanced on legs weaker than straws. I was in no condition to go after him, no condition to go chasing a ghost around a house it had taken for its own. Yet that was what I did… in a fashion.

The bedroom door fell towards me then the world rolled around to a small landing, stuck with the pall of gloom, bad wallpaper, cheap carpet, the familiar taste of dog in the air.

The boy had paused at the stairs.

If he was a fiend, he was a minor fiend with a touch of the amateur dramatics. He held his arm across his face, speaking from behind elbow and cape.

‘You’ll never catch me,’ he said before he took flight down the steps two at a time.

An imbalance of wall, banister, vertigo followed and I was at the top of the staircase.

‘Wait,’ I whispered to the figure below me, ‘you must tell me. Do I know you?’

But he did not stop. One. Two. Three. Three steps took him across the hall and he was at the front door.

He waited as I slowly navigated my way into normality. After the semi coma of a sleep, I was beginning to find myself again. I recognised the hall, though not the modern hat stand dressed in a pair of black stilettos, a pink umbrella, and a navy blue overcoat with a folded copy of the Daily Telegraph standing proud in its pocket. I didn’t wait as I lumbered past that prop body. I wanted to reach the boy who had stepped to the threshold of the house. I don’t know how but I knew that if he escaped, I would never catch him.

‘You have to wait,’ I pleaded. ‘Your name. You have to tell me your name. Prove to me who you are. What are you doing here? What did you want?’

He shrugged. ‘I’ll see you again,’ he promised and returned the teeth to his mouth.

With a stroke of an arm, the cape caught the air and the vampire flew, the light exposing the thinness of the fabric that made up his cape and then the sun blazed as it touched him. Light evaporated his body as I too reached the door, swinging shut behind him.

I thought him gone until I then saw him running down the garden path, his cape flailing behind him as he played. But then I saw no more. The door closed despite my feeble attempts to stop it as wood and handle passed straight through my long dead immaterial hands.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Be Back Soon...

First thing in the morning, I’m off to give my talk to Bangor’s young unmarried mothers. I’ll be in the Civic Hall discussing blogging from nine thirty, so feel free to drop by if you’re that way inclined. It means, of course, that I haven’t got time this evening to finish what I’ve been written for you. It will have to wait until I get home around lunchtime. It might be later if the young unmarried mothers keep me for long, and longer still if it involves my having to provide urine samples. Rest assured, The Chipster will not be fathering any little Chipsters in Bangor’s Civic Hall and anything you might hear on that subject will be unproven allegations by lonely young women.

You might ask yourself why I’m going to put myself through this ordeal. ‘Chip,’ you might even now be saying, ‘a man of your healthy loins should not be putting himself in a compromising situation involving mothers breast feeding their nippers before your unguarded thong.’

And I would normally agree with you. I have indeed been warned to wear something that’s easily wiped down as the air will be thick with the breast milk from heavily lactating mothers . Yet that will be he least of my concerns when there are so many new babies in the room. I don’t even expect my voice to be heard above the crying, the puking, and the mother’s baby talk, which if you ask me if much worse than any noise an infant can produce.

The reason I'm determined to see it through is that I’m beginning to enjoy my role as doyen to unwed mothers, new bloggers, and the rest. Only yesterday, I emailed my support to one of the more junior members of our society, to encourage him to keep blogging despite his woeful readership.

I’m talking, of course, about Richard Madeley, over at The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society. Little did I expect my email to provoke so much activity.

If you feel anything for me at all, you’ll head over there now and see what happens when The Chipster provides a man with inspiration. If you care not a jot about Big CD, but you’re in the mood for a story about massage parlors and North Koreans, then you should still head over there.

It will at least keep you entertained until the thong is back in the building.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Search Terms

I think it's time for the top 10 search terms that brought people here in the last week:

10. Chip n Dale ferrets
9. Chipendale in Halifax
8. do Chip n Dale squirrels have penises

(To which I would have answered: no, that's why they squeak so much.)

7. Chip Dale ticklish testicles
6. Chinese chip n dale dancers
5. Cheap thongs wedding presents
4. Fixing broken chipendale chair (+fat woman)
3. i love men dancing in chip fat
2. big chipendales how much

But my favourite happened just a few hours ago and came from Turkey:

1. ‘Bigger underwear for attractive men’.

Need I say more?


For those of you who need a fix of Coleen McLoughlin (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), I’ve just posted a piece Coleen McLoughlin: From Goddess To Thinker on My Telegraph. If you notice any signs of my being a bit jaded (or perhaps evening having lost my mind), I ask you to forgive me. I’ve not been sleeping well. Despite Gabby's warning, the neighbour continues to do his DIY from 8AM to 10AM, and then go silent all day. Since I normally write until about three in the morning, it means I’m surviving on about five hours sleep when I’m more used to nine.

I’m now going to sit down and, if this addled old brain can cope, copy out the remaining part of chapter one of my autobiography. I made the foolish mistake of making the first chapter too long, but, once this piece is posted, I hope to be giving you more regular selections from what is sure to be the vanity publishing sensation of 2008: Thonglateer Extraordinaire!

Sleep. I just need a little more...

Zzzzzzz... dribble... munchkins with bicycle pumps...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Chipster's Book Review

Her fist. My jaw. The rattle of china.

Only then did I realise we don’t own any china. It was my teeth, clicking and clacking like a domino world record attempt going wrong. It ended in a firework display of pain somewhere around my groin. I fell to the floor, the dull nausea of crushed gonads beginning to spread through the lower half of my body. I wouldn’t have believed reviewing a book could be so hard, let alone produce so much thong trauma.

‘What is Chippy doing with this book?’ demanded The Gab, holding up the quality hardback.

‘Reviewing it,’ I groaned, nose buried deep in the shag pile.

‘Likely story,’ she answered and spat on her knuckles as she prepared to deliver one of her haymakers.

I waved her off me as I scampered back into my office and closed the door. From there, I explained how the man with the unfairly mistreated testicles had been asked to review the book based on the internet blogging sensation of the same name. Only the name seemed to be Gabby’s problem.

‘What next?’ she screamed. ‘Is Chippy thinking of writing “My Girlfriend is a ****”?’

‘Well it does have a certain ring to it,’ I replied.

‘Misogynist!’ she screamed as her fist splinted the door and connected with my jaw. More china rattled in my mouth and I felt a crown dislodge and try to flee down the back of my throat. I wanted to follow it to safety.

Romanians, it seems, have a unique and not wholly healthy attitude towards swear words whereas we men of the thong appreciate a bit of earthiness once in a while. Not that this book is full of that. What you get for your £9.99 is a surprisingly polite and light-hearted romp through relationships and Belgium. (I hope you noticed how professionally I did that: you always have to get the price of the book into a review and use the word ‘romp’ at least once when writing about a comedy). You might have noticed that I mentioned Belgium just then and you might be wondering why. Well, Belgium is one of God’s finest comic creations and it is the perfect backdrop to Zoe McCarthy’s amiable ramble around her life.

The eponymous hero is her boyfriend and the book is written as a manual for living with him. I’m sure no other book deals as comprehensively with the subject, though I have to take McCarthy to task for claiming that it’s a guide for living with all men. She believes that all men share the same faults while I say that the Chipster is quite unique in his sins. I do not break wind in front of my girlfriend. Nor did I seduce her with a packet Cumberland sausages. In fact, to slip you a well-greased slice of truth: I’m nothing like her boyfriend at all. ‘My Boyfriend is a Handsome Welshman With A Love For Thongs’ would be a more accurate title, should she decide to write a sequel and should we have hitched up by then.

‘Hitched up?’ screamed Gabby, looking over my shoulder as I typed that line.

‘Metaphorically speaking,’ I said, trying to move the cursor back to edit it out. Only it was too late and my fingers were already shaking like those of a First World War infantryman who had just survived ‘a big push’.

‘I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss about a gentle little book which would make an admirable Christmas gift for the figure in your life you like to call your “loved one”,’ I said.

‘Chip wants me to buy him this book for Christmas?’ she asked.

‘Well, I’ve already read it during a chuckle-heavy session last night,’ I answered. ‘Besides, I already have my heart set on a refurbished Thora Hird heated foot warmer. But I do recommend that everybody else goes out and buy it. Make it a number one in the charts and prove that we bloggers are every bit as worthy of people’s money as every Rowling, Archer, and Vikram Solanki.’

‘Vikram Solanki?’ she screamed.

‘Or Freddie Flintoff. It really doesn’t matter. Cut your cricketer as you will, you’ll still find a best selling story somewhere about their gory whites.’

Gabby dropped the book and winced as it landed on her toe. 288 pages of neatly packaged hardback proves that you always get your money’s worth when buying something published by the good people at The Friday Project. And that’s not to mention the wonderful illustrations by Lucy Pepper.

‘Sure to be a Christmas smash,’ I said as I typed that line down. ‘Now,’ I said, turning to Gabby, ‘are you going to let me finish this review without any more of your violent insurrections?’

‘My Boyfriend is a swot,’ she sniffed as she licked my blood from a knuckle and left the room.

It was all too much for me. I crumpled over the keyboard. After all that trouble, the words wouldn’t come. I’ll have to sit down some other time and recommend this book to you. Sometimes I don’t think I have it in me to write reviews. Not when I have to write them in blood.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two More Films For Your Lists...

It feels like I’m indulging myself by writing these film reviews every few days at the moment but my week started utterly miserably except in terms of my choice of viewing. These are two films that are just about perfect.


There are certain types of movies that will always get my attention but espionage movies are probably at the top of that list. I don’t mean Bond movies, or even Bourne movies. I like spy movies with a sense of realism. They are the films that Robert Redford made so well. Three Days of the Condor being one of the best, but also into that category I might add All The President’s Men. Breach is one of those old fashioned movies. Shot almost in monochrome in grey-walled rooms without windows, filled by men with slide rules in their pockets, it doesn’t rely on chases or gun fights. It relies on men keeping secrets.

The film is based on the real-life capture of American FBI agent, Robert Hanssen, who sold secrets to the Russians. It’s not quite as slow as something like Tinker Tailor but it has that kind of intensity with Chris Cooper giving a performance more than worthy of an Oscar. His Hanssen is a knot of Catholic dogma, obtuse reasoning, brilliant deduction, treacherous actions, and with layers of darkness you cannot hope to penetrate. It’s not a film that gives many answers, but leaves you with a glimpse of the great unexplored chasm in men’s souls. A great movie.


The night before, I managed to catch Ratatouille, of which Mark Kermode recently said he wished it a little less perfect. I wouldn’t go that far. It is just perfect. It’s the story of a rat with a gift for taste, but it’s actually a warm fable about the relationship between the artist and the critic. Beautifully written and with some of the most subtle CGI in recent years, it deserves an Oscar. It even makes me wonder why animated movies don’t get nominated for the main award categories. Recent years have given us Spirited Away and now Ratatouille, each of which would be worthy winners of the big prize.

Top Blogging Tips from Wales’ Top Blogger

I seem to have made an enemy. Or at least, I hope I have. I’m beginning to find that blogging at The Telegraph is like slipping unnoticed through the back door of an old folks’ home and settling yourself down in an armchair. Sooner or later, somebody turns to you and asks your opinion of ‘that lovely Judith Chalmers’. To which you respond: ‘Looks good for her age.’ ‘Oh, yes,’ says the resident. ‘A lovely woman. I once played bingo with her at New Milton's hospice.’ And so it goes...

My crime, if it was a crime, was registering the name A. Aaron Esq, which (apparently) put me unfairly at the top of some list of Telegraph bloggers. I felt moderately bad about the comment, left at the end of my piece on Alan Titchmarsh. It made me realise that perhaps not all Telegraph readers are in the mood for a serious deconstruction of the Titchmarsh myth:

I do like Alan... used to watch all his efforts with Tommo and Charlie, great stuff.... but what concerns me is the name of this Blogger, very cleverly slotting himself in the top most position of the "A"s...... makes you wonder about MyT [My Telegraph] .... makes you think.... Right, I am off to the snooker match now, we are away tonight, 38 mile round trip, and I am driving. See you all tomorrow !! from

Which led me to think about myself and what exactly I would claim to know about blogging. It made me think about an odd thing that happened today, which I didn’t blog about earlier because, to be honest, I don’t have time to write about every little incident in my daily life. Somewhere in this rambling mess of a brain of mine, I have the understanding that, when blogging, one has to be selective. There’s just the slightest chance that the world isn’t going to be interested in the news that the postman arrived five minutes earlier and wore a different pair of trousers than normal.

In my role as one of Wales’ most outspoken but prolific bloggers, I've been asked to give a speech to the local community’s Young Unwed Mothers Action Group, on the occasion of the launch of their new blog, ‘Banged Up in Bangor’. I was obviously as touched by the invite as I was keen to get out of it. I’ve not been a stripper for all these years without learning to keep well away from unwed mothers. They’re an overly fertile bunch. One minute you’re shaking them by the hand, the next you’re being asked to urinate into a test tube for a paternity test. It’s not that I’m worried about the outcome but they don’t make test tubes for a man like the Chipster. To be more blunt: I tend to end up with a wet hand and the sort of mopping up operation that usually qualifies for government disaster relief.

I would have explained all this to Gabby as we listened to the offer on the answer phone but since she’s started working as a traffic warden, she’s become big on local issues. Before I’d had chance to commit excuse to brain, she’d dialled 14713 and told them I’d be more than happy to go along and contribute a few words. She also gave them a verbal warning about the parking on Victoria Street and told them she knew where they live.

‘That’s so good,’ said Mrs. Morgan, the organiser of the local unmarrieds, as I took the phone from Gabs. ‘We hope you can tell us some interesting things about Westminster life and what it’s like supporting West Ham.’

I didn’t know how to tell her that I don’t support West Ham. I didn’t know how to explain that I wasn’t Iain Dale. It’s not the sort of new you like to break to unwed mothers. However, I took the phone from Gabby and thought to sort things out. Heavy on the honesty, light on the detail: that’s the Chipster’s way.

‘You do realise that I’m not actually…’ I began.

She wasn’t listening. ‘Of course, we’ll pay you sixty pounds for your trouble,’ she said.

‘I’ll be there at seven thirty, Mrs. Morgan,’ I said, saying a thank you to Saint Iain of Audi. ‘And what about that Craig Bellemy? We’ve got a handful there, haven’t we?’

‘We do indeed, Iain,’ she said. ‘We do indeed…’

I rang off and turned my mind to the speech I was meant to give. It was a matter of coming up with something intelligent to say about blogging, without letting on that they had the wrong Dale.

I’m rarely lost for words so I knocked the following together in half-an-hour last night. What it lacks in polish, I think it makes up for in wisdom. I’m thinking of offering it to the other bloke as an intro to his next guide to UK blogging. This is the version I’m considering posting to My Telegraph this afternoon.

New Media, Same Old Bull

Blogs were created in the belief that we all have something to say. And at that point, it all began to go terribly wrong. The problem is that we all do indeed have something to say. Unfortunately, so many of us decide to share it with the rest.

I have no doubt that the less generous among you might say that this piece should itself be added to the list of things that shouldn’t have been written on or about the internet. You might like to include it with every blog post informing us that Aunty Madge arrived this morning, had a wonderful time in Bournemouth, though the sand left her a little chapped around her thighs. Interesting news, indeed, as were the details of her jaunt to Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, and Sway. Yet bloggers are a determined bunch. We don’t like to stop there. We like to include pictures with our posts. So, we get Aunty Madge to raise her skirt, throw a leg on the kitchen table, and ask her to give our Nokia a flash of her seriously chapped thighs. It’s even better if Uncle Horace is in the shot, pointing at her thighs, pipe clenched between his dentures, and a look of inebriated joy on his face. Where is big thinking about serious subjects compared to the trivial delights of Aunt Madge and her thighs? Big thinking is out of the question as we are so busy indulging this collective fetishism of detail.

How we escape ‘detail’ may well become the philosophical dilemma of the early twenty first century. We have a surfeit of information and perspectives. Critics are held hostage by opinions, which, we are told, nobody should really have in this pluralistic network of stances. Facts are rarely accepted as facts, in the face of other apparent facts that contradict them. George W. Bush has apparently committed every sin possible for a human being to commit. Which is particularly impressive since he’s actually a Thuban lizard from Alpha Draconis. In a non-literal sense, every other blog lies somewhere between Aunt Madge’s thighs and Alpha Draconis. It’s a frightening thought.

Websites like MySpace and YouTube are supposed to free us from the old media. We can all be stars because we have the chance to reach a larger audience. Only, of course, they don’t. Or at least the great unwashed 'we' don't. Held up as a great example of the new media finding new talent, Lily Allen is the daughter of Keith Allen. Was it a sign that talent breeds talent, or that the old media merely use the excuse of the new media as a way of doing what they have always done: looking after their own?

And for the rest of us: the simple truth is that the more we are able to communicate, the more it appears that the majority of us have little of significance to say. Writing about our daily lives is the surest way of killing off the blogosphere. It will become the dumping ground of trivial observations. Blogs have already become synonymous with the worst kind of diarrhoea, produced by the fingertips and spewed unedited into the world.

The Leadership Test

‘You tend to see threats everywhere and always focus on worst case scenarios’!

Well, not normally, I don’t. Not unless I’ve just been compared to one of the most reviled figures of the twentieth century. I mean, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit upset at the outcome of this personality test.

I have to thank Steve at The Daily Referendum for bringing this little gem to my attention. I'm still as paranoid as ever, but now in a one-testicle kind of way. I honestly thought I'd emerge as a John Major figure, heavily into underpant usage and light on foreign policy. To say I'm a little disappointed is an understatement, though Gabby is telling me to take it as a omen of bigger things ahead.

‘Such as Poland?’ I asked.

She laughed. ‘You mustn’t always interpret these things as being negative. Try to see positive side of it.’

‘I’m trying,’ I said, looking down at my black leather thong and wondering if there was something more to my liking it than the comfort of feeling a fur lining against my loins. ‘You don’t think I look a little too Nazi in this?’

‘Thong good,' she replied, 'but I think boots don’t suit Chippy.'

I went and stood in front of the mirror. My knee high black leather boots were meant to keep my feet warm on these cold Bangor nights. ‘You do know that if I don’t wear these, I’ll have to bring out my big electric slipper?’ I explained.

She frowned at the idea. For those of you not in the know: my office is on the cold side of the flat and, after three hours writing, my feet can be like blocks of frozen anti-fungal cream. Gabby thinks my Scholl heated slipper is a bit too geriatric.

‘Look,’ I said. ‘I can look like Thora Hird or Adolf Hitler. It’s a hard decision but it’s one you have to make.’

She thought a moment or two longer than I expected given the moral equation she was trying to solve. ‘Thora Hird,’ she replied, finally. ‘Nice lady. Much missed by Gabby.’

I kicked off my jackboots as I went to search out the big slipper in the spare room.

‘Do you think I’m safe?’ I asked ten minutes later as I came hopping into the room in search of a spare plug socket. ‘You don’t suppose Steve at The Daily Referendum is going to tell me that Thora Hird was a war criminal and that the big slipper is a sign of my tacit approval of her zimmer frame policy of 1944? My feet couldn’t take another cold winter.’

Gabby helped plug me in. ‘Gabby sure Steve understands,’ she said. ‘In fact, I bet he has big Thora Hird slipper too.’

And do you know what, my kind readers: I bet he does. I bet he does...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Alan Titchmarsh: Man or Monster?

Thinking that I was in time for Top Gear, I turned to BBC2 a bit too early last night, forgetting that their highest rated show (and one of the few things the BBC are getting right at the moment) had been postponed in favour of the snooker. However, my disappointment was lessened a bit by the discovery that BBC2 were broadcasting a new wildlife series, The Nature of Britain, which has always been another of the things that they do well. In fact, saying that the BBC does wildlife well is like saying the Pope knows his Catholicism. In God’s great plan: the two were made for one another. And, after all these years, both are just as predictable. You know what to expect: great photography, good writing, a broadly conservative presentation, and the occasional day of judgement usually involving a rigged telephone poll.

I joined the show late, but, within a minute, cows were defecating in high definition in the corner of the room. Perfect viewing after my Sunday dinner, I thought, though not everybody else in the room was equally smitten. They made their excuses and left me to watch the rest of the show. I surprised myself that I made it to the end. Not because of the defecating cows, you understand, but because of the chap who provided the soundtrack.

David Attenborough’s announcement that he was retiring from making BBC wildlife documentaries caused much debate as to who was going to get his job. Last night, I witnessed the apparent winner. Alan Titchmarsh. I think the defecating cows were robbed.

I’m ashamed to say that I always had a soft spot for Titchmarsh back when he used to dig people’s gardens for a living. He was twee, cosy, comfortable, somewhat patronising, prissy, at times pretentious, but generally amiable. Ground Force was a terribly watchable show as Charlie Dimmock would stand, hands on hips, her unharnessed chest thrown out, leaving Titchmarsh to make some wry comment about the cold weather. It was the programme that always left me feeling the same towards him as I feel about Christians in general: that they do nobody any harm and have a comfortably line in knitwear.

Only, like my tolerance for Christians, I have a line across which men called Titchmarsh should not cross. Much as I don’t like to be woken on a Sunday morning to be asked if I believe that Christ is my redeemer, nor do I like to see men getting a bit big for their Wellington boots.

It all began when Titchmarsh started to turn up and stick his fingers in our whole cultural buffet. He began to write novels with dire gardening puns in the title (Trowel and Error). Then he did radio, his own talk show, and, more recently, turned up hosting the Proms for the BBC. He was even rumoured to be in running to take over Countdown after Des Lynam was run out of Leeds. Titchmarsh was clearly elbowing his way into anything that required a man of moderate intelligence, fiercely middle-class tastes, and a ‘nice’ personality for whom the oldies would happily make sponge cakes. He’s the sort of man that if Thora Hird wanted to send messages back from the other side, she’d channel through Alan. (And before you do it, I’ve already sent the BBC my idea for a show called ‘Channeling Through Alan’. I’m told they’re considering the idea.)

Now that he’s just settled for becoming the face of wildlife shows on the BBC, Titchmarsh is set to become ever present on our screens. But to me it’s like Ronald McDonald has been given charge of a petting zoo.

I don’t wish any harm to the man but I rarely find myself calm after any time in his company. His use of bathos is the most galling, in that he has this way of trying to sound martial, grand, and epic but ends up sounding like a tax inspector having an enema. It usually involves him quoting some poetry (he loves his poetry), his voice wallowing in the luxurious description of some great English scene, to which he then usually adds his own: ‘you bet…’ or ‘you can say that again…’

There’s a fun game I've invented which you can try to help make Titchmarsh more bearable in which you try to write your own Titchmarsh script. Take any lines of English poetry and complete them in the style of the great Alan. I’ll start you off with two examples. First, Wordsworth:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills

‘I bet you did. And while Bill Wordsworth was larking about on all those Lakeland hills, perhaps dropping in to see Mr. Norris’s excellent shop, selling original mint cake, he must have wondered what a cloud would think if it saw all the people flocking to the Lakes…’
Or Shakespeare, from Henry V:

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

'By heck! Bet he’s a lot of fun come a Monday. But, you know, perhaps old Bill Shakespeare has a point… This war business isn’t at all as messy as we’ve been told it is. A bit of victory here, a spot of honour there. And before you know it, a lovely field full of bright red poppies, luxuriating under a mid-summer sun.'

He was at it again last night, after the cows had stopped defecating. The BBC Wildlife department had strapped a camera to a swan or something with a similar wingspan, and sent it soaring up over the countryside. Alan had then added his own special flourish, by quoting Auden, or Byron, or Pam Ayres, for all I know... I can't say which. I was too busy strangling the life out of the sofa’s cushion.

It sounds very mean spirited of me to criticise a man who has made a virtue out of being pleasant but I say he’s a poor role model for a nation aspiring to make a name for itself in the twentieth century. While Titchmarsh fills our minds with ideas of lounging around in hammock in the garden, the Chinese are out there building warships and stockpiling germs. While Titchmarsh is encouraging us to reach for our copies of Milton and Shelley, the North Koreans are returning their copy of ‘Nuclear Fission for Dummies’ to the Iranians. While Titchmarsh rambles, the country sleeps. We should take this as a warning and put him back to doing what he does best. Digging deep bunkers in shrubberies.

Brief Update

Time for a brief update: I’m not wearing any…

So sorry about that. Terrible, I know, but I couldn’t resist a bad underwear joke to get the week started on a low hung note. I’m not intending to post much right now. I’m doing this partly out of spite, since my drunken piece of the weekend was greeted with such universal mockery. I’ve decided to be much more careful about the words I choose to make public. That’s why, today, I’m going to finish writing the last part of Chapter 1 of Thonglateer Extraordinaire, which I hope to post later today or tomorrow for any of you who have been following the life story of The Chipster. Chapters 2 and 3 are already written in note form, including my African odyssey, but just require me to sit down and give them some meat, if you’ll excuse the image.

My hope is to get the book finished for next year's Booker Prize. I figure that since they’ve chosen this year to reward a book which, to paraphrase the words of P.G. Wodehouse, you wouldn’t confuse with a ray of sunshine, next year they’ll probably award it to a book which makes you feel better about life. And what book can do that better than the Chip Dale story, full as is it about a young man's adventures as he becomes the most famous thong wearing Welshman?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two Film Reviews

It has often been said that Chip Dale is an intolerant man, quick to form hasty judgements about people. Which is why it’s so good to occasionally say that I’ve changed my mind or that I was wrong.

It explains the two film recommendations I have for you on this cold Sunday in Bangor. They go together so well because they’re full of actors I’ve previously found so irritating that I’ve been known to flick over and find something with plenty of Emma Thompson in it.

Seraphim Falls

This was not what I expected. The press and advertising had me believing it a slow moving western which ultimately fails to make a case for the rebirth of the genre. Instead, I found myself watching a slow moving western which ultimately makes a perfect case for the rebirth of the genre. I barely took my eyes from the screen in the whole of the two hours.

If ‘slow moving’ puts you off, don’t let it. This is slow moving in the same sense that ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ was slow moving. It’s a film that moves at the pace of riding horseback through the American landscape. It also happens to be the best westerns of recent years with Pierce Brosnan turning in another of the grizzled performances that have finally begun to win me over since the days I grew to dislike him for his prissy Bond. Last year, I saw him in a little known film called ‘Matador’, which failed in as much as it tried to be cleverer and quirkier than it was, but succeeded in giving him the freedom to play against type. Although ostensibly a killer with all of Bond’s characteristic vices, Brosnan revelled in the chance to give them all a capital ‘V’: violently alcoholic, insanely psychotic, and so promiscuous that you were left wondering if his character would keep within his species. While ‘Seraphim Falls’ is nowhere near as dark, the lank haired, older Brosnan is perfect in a film which is, for the first half, pure ‘First Blood’, as he tries to survive in the wilderness while pursued by men out to kill him. The motives are unclear until the end, when the film develops into a slightly less convincing morality tale, with overtones of Eastwood’s two metaphysical westerns, ‘Pale Rider’ and ‘High Plains Drifter’. In passing, it’s worth mentioning the other lead role. Liam Neeson is another actor who I’ve previously preferred to avoid. I thought he was terrible in the Star Wars movies, but like Jeremy Irons (previously one of my least favourite actors), leapt in my estimation after ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. Here, older and with a face that suits the moral tone of the film, he’s the perfect protagonist.

You Kill Me

I’m sure Gandhi did many great things. I’ve just never been drawn to watching a three hour film about his life. I feel pretty much the same way about Richard Attenborough. As much as I’ve always loved him as an actor (I think he’d have won an Oscar for ‘10 Rillington Place’ if only he’d made it now or audiences could have got past that film’s darkness back in 1971), I’ve never been convinced that he’s that good a director. It always struck me that his films always aspired to that same kind of epic cinema as perfected by David Lean. Attenborough’s films never had that same thematic depth. Every time I rewatch them, they strike me as being easier than I want them to be. This is probably why he has always reminded me of Ron Howard, who moved from ‘Happy Days’ to become one of the most mediocre big name directors in Hollywood. Enormous budgets, high concepts, low (or, at least with Attenborough, competent but workmanlike) delivery.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I’ve never been a fan of Sir Ben Kingsley. The stories of his demanding that even his wife’s poodles call him ‘Sir’ have perhaps played a part in my disliking him. Yet two films have recently turned me around. The first was ‘Lucky Number Slevin’, in which he played a rabbi who also happened to be the head of a gangster organisation. ‘You Kill Me’ is a smaller film, smaller than anything that Attenborough or Howard would have made, but shows that small films can have their own kind of big perfection.

Kingsley plays an alcoholic hit man who begins to change his life around when he starts to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and work in a funeral home where he meets Téa Leoni. A dark comedy, full of stand-out performance (Dennis Farina steals every scene he’s in), it’s one of those left-of-centre films that remind me of Jonathan Demme’s work, which is no small compliment when it includes some of my favourite films of the 80s: Something Wild and Married to the Mob.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fear and Loathing in Bangor

Agonised flares dive skyward, falter, then blister; their innards breaking through in an eruption of incandescence. Bangor dims and falls silent again. Minutes pass. A solitary scream hints at violence, corruption, deceit, or ecstasy. A dog wakes, howls its own sterilised cry; a city cry, a backyard cry of chains, water bowls, and cold concrete nights. Nobody replies. There’s nobody awake but a man writing long into the night and with only a silk dressing gown and a thermal thong to warm him.

And whisky. There’s always whisky.

The man is achingly handsome. His skin radiates life, as though lit from within by a divine illumination. Composed, refined, he is something more than the city. Something more than human. He is godlike in his every move. He shifts in his chair, gazes at the ceiling, scratches himself, sniffs his fingers, and savours the smell of pineapple or ambrosia that taints his nails. Only then does he reach for a glass and pour himself a drink. Liquid tops the glass lip and drains to his desk; a gin-soaked desk, whisky-savoured wood, and absinth-bled knots and whorls. It has known many drunken nights and even more words slurred over by a numb tongue and blurred fingers. Only these words tonight are different. They are clear. They are precise. The man has come to a very great decision and whisky has played only a moderate part in his making it. And how do we know all this? Because it is I: Chip Dale. I’m describing myself.

I inhabit these calm moments when the day’s troubles are rolled up in bed and dreaming sweet Romanian dreams to the sound of small arms gunfire played to a Euro-pop beat. It makes me understand the opportunities I have before me. I am a somewhat humble man, gifted in places between the hips, and ably supported by buttocks that the good Lord himself might have whittled from walnut. Yet I realise now that my greatness is diminished by my unwillingness to recognise it as such. It is greatness and damn any of you if you can’t see it for what it is.

At some point, a man serious about his career in print journalism learns that there’s little to be gained by wearing a cutaway muscleman vest with ‘Top Stripper in Wales’ stitched in purple sequins. He realises that he needs something more appealing to the intelligentsia of Kensington and Chelsea. What is a man to do when surrounded by blogging luminaries? If such people are to believe in a man, then he needs something more to hang on his wall other than his poster of Samantha Fox, circa 1981.

And how does such a man achieve recognition? How does he announce his greatness to the world?

That is the easiest part. He applies to become the new visiting professor of stripping at Bangor University.

Only that won’t be my title. I will be Professor of Ecdysiastics, which, I think you’ll agree, immediately gives the idea merit. It perks up the pecks, stiffens the nipples, and tightens the rear. This is a new Chip Dale I've today proposed to the good people up there at the University. This is a Chip Dale on the move, family friendly, eligible for grants, and likely to sleep through a conference by day before getting monstrously drunk at night when two hundred pounds of sexually active tweed will come alive and give chase to the slowest of the nubile postgraduates.

And if, for some as yet unknown reason, I don’t manage to become Professor Chip Dale at a Welsh University, I’ll look further afield. Manchester is rapidly becoming the place to be if you want some upward mobility in your career. Only last month, the University of Manchester announced that Martin Amis has become a professor at their new school of Creative Writing. Today, Salford University announced that Johnny Marr, the Smiths guitarist, is to become a visiting music professor. I’m sure they could fit me in once they realise how much extra research funding I could generate in a university accredited thong.

After all, what is academia but a more socially acceptable form of lap-dancing? You shake your proposals in the faces of some funding body, who, if they like what they see, stuff a handful of cash down your pouch. There, you have in one easy to remember image, a metaphor for higher education in the UK.

As much as I’m looking forward to my rise to a Chair of Stripping Studies, I can see that there might be some of you who question the validity of my vocational qualifications. But celebrity professorships are nothing new. The only difference is that a person’s fame used to be incidental to their role within the academia. Professor Tolkien had a reputation as an expert in Anglo Saxon studies quite incidental to his authorship of The Lord of the Rings. The same is true of Professor Richard Dawkins, Professor Stephen Hawking, and so many more. Even Simon Schama was a Professor at Harvard, after a decade working at Cambridge and Oxford, before he gained intellectual credibility with his shows on the BBC after Gardener's World.

Some might scoff at those of us who call ourselves Professor, but does anybody really doubt the academic credibility of Dr. Raj Persaud who is ‘Professor for Public Understanding of Psychiatry’? I think not. People might point out that his professorship comes from Gresham College, but that college has been established for centuries and has an interesting history, even if it's not a university in the traditional sense of having students and awarding degrees. But look at what the man has achieved in curing people. This intellectual snobbery has gone on too long. Look at the relatively lowly Dr. Paul McKenna Ph.D. He hasn't even got a chair, though he's made many a man believe he was one. But even he was already the nation’s top hypnotist before he got his Ph.D. Are we to look down on a man just because he could make a woman bark like a dog?

And would you look down on that demi-God you will soon know as Professor Chip Dale from the School of Ecdysiastics, the University of Bangor? My thesis, ‘Hips, Ankles, Joined at the Knees: A Study in Leg Dynamics in Ecdysiastic Flexability’ will be published by Oxford University Press next month. I recommend you read it. It will be followed by a tour of the country’s universities afterwards, with full demonstrations, disco lights, and a chance to buy a thong with the crest of your favourite university printed on it.

Now just dim the lights, turn up the Barry White, and let the good Professor teach you a lesson...

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Romanian Gambit

Gabby had some interesting news for me yesterday afternoon.

‘Chip?’ she said, ‘I want to become a man.’

I dropped my lunch into my lap. ‘I beg your pardon?’

She put her hands on her hips, tears in her eyes. ‘Gabby wants operation to become man.’

‘Yes, yes, that’s what I thought you’d said,’ I replied when I came around in the ambulance twenty minutes later.

On the drive home from the hospital, the situation became more clear to me.

‘I read in paper that men have more chance to become rich and successful,’ she explained. ‘I thought, if I become man, I might become rich and successful.’

‘Rubbish,’ I scoffed. ‘This has more to do with your dream of getting into the SAS!’

She blushed and I knew I was closer to the truth. There have been recruitment brochures for the Parachute Regiment falling through the letterbox for days. It had got to the point that I’d been laying out smoke markers for them so they would know where to land.

‘So what if it is?’ she asked. ‘Can’t a girl have her dreams?’

‘But Gabs,’ I said, cradling her in my arms. ‘Do you really want to have your things altered just so you can be dropped deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan with a kit full of knifes, guns, and booby traps? Is that what you want?’

‘But Chip, I want to fulfill my potential.’

The poor girl had me there. What’s the point in being trained to the highest level of combat readiness without having chance to try it out for real? All the years she’s spend learning karate and judo, the knife fighting lessons, the years she spend in the Romanian commando school become proficient in light arms. It is all to be wasted?

‘I don’t know what to say,’ I said. ‘You are clearly cut out to inflict the severest punishment on our enemies. But you wouldn’t be happy just to record another Cheeky Girls album?’

She shrugged. ‘Will you still love me if I become a man?’

‘Ah,’ I said. ‘Well, now, you see… Of course, you know, live and let live. That’s my motto. I’m liberal, you know, and I believe that we should all have the right… you know, to… to you know… Ah…’

‘Is that a yes?’

‘Ah,’ I said, ‘well, now, you see… The thing is Gabby, much as I love you for yourself…’

‘Chip wouldn’t love me?’

‘Look,’ I said, trying to get my words out before the very unmanly tears began. I wasn't so sure they wouldn't be my own. ‘I’m certain there’s a way around this. There has to be a way to make you happy without the need for such drastic changes.’

It took the rest of the day, dozens of phone calls, and a last minute dash into town for an interview, but, before the sun set on a rather relieved Bangor, Gabby declared that she was happy to remain a woman.

‘This is wonderful,’ she said, coming to the breakfast bar this morning. ‘Do you like?’ she asked as she gave me a spin in her new uniform.

‘Without a doubt, you are the sexist traffic warden in Bangor,’ I said before I pushed a contented spoonful of Alpen into my mouth.

‘That’s good,’ she smiled. ‘I give you ticket for car parked on single yellow. You have twenty eight days or I come after you and I know where you live.’

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Day of Disappointments

The line of newly decapitated chickens left to drain over the bath tub told me that this was not going to be a day full of sunshine. I knew as much when I switched on my PC this morning. My attempts to lure Telegraph readers here with my newly launched blog had resulted in nice round figures. The round figure happened to be zero, which was also the number of people I'd managed to attract here after reading my post about Gordon Brown’s lack of humour.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that these Telegraph readers are a somewhat humourless bunch, conservative in their tastes, and the type of people who can’t appreciate a handsome Welshman in a thong. I also have another more sobering suspicion: that the Chipster has found his level. I shouldn’t post on anything other than generously proportioned underwear, genitals, and guide dogs for the blind. If recent comments are an indicator, I should also get drunk every night and go out on early morning raids to adjacent blogs where I should leave my badly types ramblings.

The utter failure of my posts at My Telegraph has been an ever greater disappointment because I’ve been giving more thought to trying to find a little work in freelance writing. I’m not sure what I could write, where I could sell it, nor who would buy it, but I have been reflecting on how stupid it was to turn down the chance to write for Britain’s best known publisher of hardcore pornography. I might not have known many of the words but, as Gabby pointed out, what are dictionaries for if not for looking up all the filthy synonyms for parts of the body?

The second big disappointment was Gabby’s announcement that she and her sister intend to record a third Cheeky Girls album. It was the reason for the chickens. She claims that white meat helps her vocal chords. Help them do what, is what I’d like to know. I’ve hidden this news here in the body of the post because I don’t want to unduly alert the media. The last time the Cheeky Girls got back together, the government stuck a military cordon around Bangor. It might not mean much to you but the people of Bangor suffer when those girls start to sing. They’re already talking about guest vocalists including Charlotte Church. I don’t think I need to say any more.

The third disappointing thing I’ve discovered today is that a good friend of mine, an honourary thonglateer and second most handsome man on the planet, will no longer be the head of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The good news is that he’s hoping to become chairman of the Lib Dems next year. I wish him well with that. I really do. If more men were like Lembit Opik, this world of ours would be a better place.

The last disappointment to come along was the news that Richard Madeley is considering giving up blogging. Yes, you heard me right: it is a disappointment. I feel sorry for the man. I really do. We’ve had our public fallings out but we all know that they were only for the cameras. It was done in the best possible taste. I like reading his blog and I want him to reconsider. Come on Dick. Chin up. All three of them.

This has been an odd bitty post but I’m a bit of an odd man. I’m now off to write something intellectual for My Telegraph. I might even wear a cravat.

A Question Nuance

Today I blatantly stole an idea from Dave Hill (and now a picture from The Spine).* I opened a blog over at The Telegraph.

Actually, I didn’t steal the idea as much as I went back and posted on the blog I’d registered earlier this year. I’m A. Aaron Esq, which as you’ll no doubt know is the name of my grandfather. I didn’t expect any replies to the small piece I wrote about Gordon Brown. Nor did I expect people to misunderstand me and actually accuse me of liking the man. So, in response, I wrote the following, which I’m also posting here so as to bore you all with yet more of my wise words about the great man himself: Mr. Bernie Clifton.

I opened a blog here at The Telegraph and people immediately misunderstood me. Did I really say I liked Gordon Brown? It seems that I did. Or I didn’t, depending on which comment you read in response to my original post. I don’t know where I went wrong. Things are never this difficult on my own blog. But there I’m usually writing about sling-backed thongs, stripping, and the North Wales exotic dance circuit. Do I really smell of pineapples and am I really the owner of the largest collection of thongs in Wales? Well, yes and yes. Do I like Gordon Brown? Of course I don’t. It’s a foolish thing to ask of a man who is often mistaken for Lembit Opik. It was a question of a nuance that some people just didn’t pick up.

Nuance. Can’t live with it. Can’t bash it on the back of a head with a spade.

Miscommunication has to be one of the less enjoyable novelties of trying to communicate on the internet. Irony doesn’t tend to work without a fat smiley at the end. Nor does sarcasm or anything that isn’t as blatant as: ‘I dislike Gordon Brown and wasn’t so hot on Blair.’ Yet out of it comes at least one interesting question. Who do I like? There’s so much negativity around, shouldn’t I begin by saying who and what I like? If we’re all going around castigating Brown, isn’t it good to know who we’d like to see in his place?

I don’t know if I have the answer to that question, but I do like Bernie Clifton.

I’ve been thinking a lot about him in recent days. Last week, I bumped into him in the local shopping centre where he was collecting money for charity. I’ve written about this elsewhere so I won’t go into too much length about him here, but things seemed simpler in the days of Crackerjack. Even now, people seemed to have so much faith in an old comedian with bad knees and dressed in a faded yellow ostrich suit. Yet it’s hardly surprising when we’re led by a man whose personality hasn’t been bypassed as much as it has had a ring road built around it.

It’s not that I want my politicians to act the buffoon, but I don’t seen buffoonery as being anathema to being serious. It’s a lesson that politicians simply fail to heed. Churchill recently came fifth in a poll of great wits. Does anybody think him a lesser politician because of it? The same is true of Einstein who once stuck out his tongue and it became one of the iconic pictures of the century. Groucho Marx’s aphorisms are routinely quoted as if wisdom and Chaplin is seen as a great artist making significant political films.

Gordon Brown would never countenance an ostrich outfit. I don’t imagine at any point in his life he’s ever donned a pair of yellow stockings and feathered shoes. But then, can we imagine him sticking out his tongue, saying anything witty, or even making a significant political point on anything? I don’t suppose it means I should dislike him any more than I already do but it certainly doesn’t make me trust him.

And that’s why I like Bernie Clifton. It’s all a question nuance and seeing the absurdities in ourselves. Life seems so much more healthy that way.

*Thanks to David at The Spine for letting me use the picture.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chip Dale's Underwear Tips, Volume 28

‘Underwear for big genitals’!

Doesn’t that just say it all? Months or writing this blog and it has become the top search destination for people unnaturally blessed below the belt line. There are days when I seriously consider abandoning this blogging lark. Days when I think there aren’t enough people reading. There are days when I wonder if the people who are reading are quite understanding what they’re reading. But never have I imagined that I’d become the authority on surgical supports, trusses, and ‘underwear for big genitals’. Do I really want to be read by a person who’d type that into Google? What can I say except I hope they found what they were looking for?

As worrying as this development is, it does raise an important questions. Does this blog really cater to those of us who keep more in our pockets than our car keys and a rolled up copy of the Exchange and Mart? I think it's only right for every prospective leader of the Liberal Democrats to say where they stand on these important issues. Is a thong big enough? Where can the larger man (or indeed lady) purchase generously proportioned thongs? What kind of tonnage can a thong take and does it put unnatural stresses on the buttocks? Clearly, Sir Ming could never answer any of these questions and that’s why he had to go. I can, so perhaps I should stay.

We should begin with the basics. The well-stressed pouch applies a force of forty two Newtons per square inch of silk across the buttocks on a normally sized man. It's a key figure in the mathematics that follow. Times that by the square root of your droop and you'll have the coefficient I like to call Mildred. Mildred to the power of ten is approximately the right width of your pouch, which, when raised to the power of twelve, tells you how much stretch you will require in your downward bounce.

In the larger gentleman, the droop figure tends to be a multiple of seven. So, for every additional centimeter you must times it by two, add pi, drop it down a deep well, leave for a month, and then sprinkle with crushed black pepper. You then have your thong adjustment ratio, which you can take to any licensed thong maker and they will be able to make you a thong that won’t unduly stress your hips, nor indeed your buttocks. Thong makers are listed in your Yellow Pages, but due to government legislation which we thong wearers are still trying to get overturned, they are listed under Surgical Supports.

Now, beat that Chris Huhne.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chip Dale's Leadership Promise No. 1: On The Professionalism of Dentists

The first day of the Lib Dem leadership election campaign didn’t begin well for the early front runner.

Gabby had her knee on my chest and was using her elbow to keep my head still. I could only try my best to keep my mouth shut as the scream of the Black & Decker cracked the tiles which came raining free from the bathroom walls like a scene in The Matrix. I was only glad when the extension cable came loose. Because of some EU ruling regarding electrical sockets in bathrooms, Gabby had been forced to plug in her 2400W power tool by the front door. The cable was an inch too short. As the drill slowed and Gabby spit a curse, I wriggled free of her grip and told her how I was having second thoughts. I might need my teeth fixing ready for all those close ups on Sky News, but saving a hundred pounds by fixing them at home hadn’t been my best idea.

But that’s the problem with real dentists. They’re like the American Army at times of international crisis. You want help but you don’t necessarily want their help. But who else is there to turn to? A Romanian with an indifference to suffering and a huge collection of diamond tipped drills? The Russians? The Chinese? Dentists know that we can’t go elsewhere. It means they have a market with almost untapped potential and it’s there job to tap into it as deep as your teeth run. They’d polish your ankles if they could prove they were a major cause of tooth decay.

They are the most visible part of the creep of professionalism that it ruining this once proudly amateur country of ours. That’s why I’m making this my first manifesto policy. I want to change the way we do things in this country.

A Liberal Democratic party led by The Chipster would be nothing but amateur and I want to reintroduce amatuerism into everything we do.

There are simply no amateurs these days, none of those madcap inventors who changed the world from their garden shed. What has happened to the crazy Englishmen who try to fly to Iceland by pigeon power? At one time, British amateurism was better than anything professional coming out of American, Europe, or Japan. A man with a yard or twine, a few bottle caps, and a steely determination could rule the world. Yet to be described as amateur these days amounts to an insult. I’m not saying that I want to be treated by amateur dentists but what’s wrong with going to see a man in tweed suit, a few hairs up his nostrils, and a dog sitting sniffing its testicles in the corner of the room?

Where have all the unique looks gone? Where is this nation’s personality and our enjoyment of work? With professionalism comes a need to look the part, a growing hegemony of listlessness in everything we do and wear. Newer whiter surgeries, bluer smocks, and eye protectors you’d think would stop a .44 magnum bullet, let alone an errant flake of tooth enamel. Where once the dentist had a receptionist who worked the odd few hours to do his paperwork, they are now assisted by teams of nubile young women whose whole purpose in life is to distract you from the crimes being committed in your mouth. I’m not complaining but, at the same time, why do I feel so dirty?

The only people who are losing their professional status are the very people who at one time you would consider – nay, insist – were professionals. Teachers are making way for teaching assistants and you’re lucky to find a doctor who knows a few words of English. Lawyers are no longer highly esteemed but are injury claims specialists who pop up in the ads during the Bill. Nurses no longer have our respect given they are paid half the yearly income you can expect to earn if you’re a second-rate plumber. University education has become an extension of Further Education, and has less to do with educating a small number of people to a high degree, and more to do with keeping huge numbers of layabout teenagers off the streets and away from the unemployment figures.

If the rise of the dentist marks the decay of our society, it will be left to us amateur revolutionaries in the Liberal Democrats to cleanse the nation’s gums. Cheap modern housing estates surrounded by leisure communities, fast food restaurants, out-of-town shopping centres, multi-screen cinemas, ten pin bowling, Laser Quest: it all adds up to a faux-recreation of 1950s suburban America which those of us with any sense will have to destroy in the next ten years. Pitched battles will be fought in depressingly manicured cul-de-sacs in new towns where we’ll fashion crude bludgeons from plastic fencing, solar garden lamps, decking, outdoor furniture, and barbecues stands.

Our war cry will be heard from one end of the country to the other:

‘Chip Dale is proud to declare himself an amateur in everything he does and he asks that you do the same!’

The Campaign Starts Here...

While I get my mind together over a cup of coffee, here's the official Chip Dale For Leader desktop. Send it to all Lib Dems you know, install in on every computer you can, and we'll see if we can get my leadership campaign off to a flying start. With the right organisation, some tasteful thong sponsorship, and a prevailing wind, I might yet win this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Chipster's Mini Reviews

Fido – Touching story of your boy growing up in 1950s America and his love for his dog. Only the dog is actually a zombie played by Billy Connolly. Very funny, equally as smart, but very dark. Excellent.
The Host – disappointing Korean horror. Despite some excellent vignettes, typically good music, there’s little else to recommend it.
Surf’s Up – CGI pseudo-documentary about surfing penguins. Sassy. I enjoyed it.
3.10 to Yuma – classic western, now remade, based on Elmore Leonard story, full of the subtle nuances that make Westerns one of the most flexible and undervalued genres.
The Shining (TV Series) – less good as a film but better as a story, characters engage in a totally different way. Worthwhile.
Frequency – woefully underrated, time-twist story despite cheesy power ballad in the last minute and credits.
Planet Terror – spectacularly gory, cheap, tacky, often dire, but entertaining example of what Grindhouse could have been if Tarantino had tried less hard to be Tarantino.
Convoy – Sam Pekinpah film, generally lambasted but Kris Kristoffesen saves it and some touches where you might think it could have been so much better.
Cars – somewhat overlooked Pixar film, smart, sweet, and enjoyably funny.
Pirates of the Caribbean 3: too much story, too much story, and just when you think it’s over, too much story. Did I mention that there’s too much story? A slightly more deranged that usual Depp just manages to save it from too much story.

My Birthday by Chip Dale: An Account of The Missing Six Hours Compiled From Contemporary Sources, Friends, Family, and Police Records

Sharp. There’s no other word that adequately describes myself early on the evening of the 13th October, 2007. Freshly oiled, shaved, and with the anti-fungal cream still damp between my toes, I was in no mood to take any fashion prisoners. This was going to be a seek and destroy mission against the entrenched sticks and squares at the heart of Bangor town centre. From my vast wardrobe, I’d picked out the right clothes for the job. My killer lime green suit was to be assisted by a bright blue t-shirt with a large luminous lemon on the front and a mission to pacify the opposition. The logo beneath the lemon read, ‘Well Wrinkled’, as indeed was I down below where, hidden from view but not from mind, my loins were wrapped in my favourite thong, cut in silk with a single diamond sewn onto the front of the pouch with my name beneath it. It’s a Grenva, which means, as you probably know, it was made by Europe’s premier thong makers. Some people say they are pouch makers to Prince Philip, himself, though nobody has been able to prove as much.

With the star dressed for the evening, the secondary cast were also doing their best to look good for such a special occasion. Gabby wore a little figure hugging dress that did little to hide her womanly assets nor the razor-sharp stilleto strapped SAS-style between her buttocks. My agent for six years, Danny Piles, turned up at seven thirty, dressed in a full tuxedo with a tasteful purple cummerbund. Ten minutes, the three of us walked into Rotters.

I’d chosen to celebrate my birthday at the local nightclub in the belief that most of my friends would make it. I was not to be disappointed, but as soon as I appeared at the door to the disco, the room erupted with cheers from people I’d never before met. Apparently, the news had gone around Bangor about my open invitation to celebrate my birthday and scores of people thought they’d come along to press the Chipster’s flesh and get that most pious of individuals monstrously drunk.

Deluged with offers to buy me a drink, I was soon necking bottles of spirits with more enthusiasm than the not inconsiderable alcoholic community of Bangor. Men with purple noses and stains on their trousers would have been unable to keep up with me as I sucked Bangor dry of the liquid hard stuff. Soon I was overcome by the emotion of the evening and things began to get hazy. Luckily, Danny was on hand so we might now put the last minutes of my sobriety at around eight o’clock:

You were out of your skull by nine, Chip. That’s when you began to call yourself the best blogger in Wales and threatened to beat up anybody who said differently. We all laughed but then you turned nasty when a stranger called you Iain. Gabby managed to calm you down but I think you weren’t yourself after that. The rest of the evening was tainted by that incident.

As easy as it is to take Danny’s account as the truth, Andrew Morris, the barman at Rotters, tells a quite different story.

I’d say you were already blotto by eight thirty. I’ve never seen a man pour so much vodka down his throat in such a short space of time. You told me you were the best stripper in Wales but you were disappointed that people always think you are Lembit Opik. You said you’d always wanted to meet the man just to see how handsome he is. Then you began to ramble on about the state of Korean rubber and how you once taught Chuck Norris to throw a thong with his big toe. I just thought you were pretty far gone and I didn’t think you were going to last the night.

You might have noticed that the two accounts don’t add up. Or, at least, they don’t until we get to one important detail: both Danny and Andrew confirm that I’d begun to take my clothes off by nine thirty.

‘You were dancing topless with all the ladies around nine forty five,’ says Danny.

Andrew puts it a little earlier than that. ‘You didn’t have your shirt on when I saw you around nine thirty and it wasn’t much later than that when somebody told me that you’d got completely naked and were asking people to rub ice cubes on your lemons.’

However, Gabby tells a different story.

Chip, you embarrass me for last time. No more drink. You take clothes off for money and not for hobby. I’m just amazed you lasted until ten o’clock before you get naked. Those girls are just cheap. I don’t know what you see in them, with their big fake boobies. I saw you dancing with them. Hands all over them. You lucky I didn’t come over and cut it off. But it was your birthday…

Victoria Niles was my dance partner, so I thought perhaps it would be best to ask her the time I disrobed. I only know this because I was lucky to find her phone number written in lipstick on the inside of my thigh. She managed to confirm Gabby’s part of the story.

You were pretty drunk, Chip, but we all were. I can never say no to a hot body and a gorgeous face. And you were so naked. And it was kind of sweet the way you were drooling over me and kept asking me if I thought newts were fish or reptiles. It was your way of connecting, I guess.

Eleven o’clock seems to be the point when the action moved outside the club. A notice from the local police station asking me to drop in this morning to pick up some items of lost property gave me chance to talk to the two officers who stopped me around that time. Said PC Smalls:

We were responding to a report that somebody was standing naked on the end of Bangor Pier playing the trombone. We were too late to catch you there, but we did find you later standing in a fountain outside The Royal Tandoori Restaurant. You were wearing noodles on your head and were telling everybody you were Tommy Dorsey but, to be honest, sir, you weren’t doing a very good job with the trombone. You were much closer to Tommy Ball.

His partner, PC Timbleby, has five more years on the job and is a grade 4 pianist. His version sounds much closer to the truth.

It was definitely Angels by Robbie Williams and for a beginner on the trombone, you were doing a first class job. It was a shame about your being naked in a public place, otherwise we could have left you alone. You put your thong back on and that was the last we saw of you.

What happened to me after that is harder to explain. I apparently rang Danny on his mobile at twelve o’clock to ask him about seaweed. Again, the details elude me but Danny seems to think there was some method to my madness. ‘You were not alone but I have no idea who you were with,’ he says. ‘You were insistent that you needed to eat seaweed, though I could here voices in the background that sounded Chinese.’

I’ve rang around the local Chinese restaurants and none of them serve seaweed. Gabby too is at a loss as to my whereabouts.

I go home at eleven o’clock when you didn’t come back from club. I in bed and first thing I know if finding you on computer this morning. There is mess in hall, which Gabby clean up and Mr. Morris from downstairs says you sick on his decking. That is all Gabby know except Chip is stupid stupid man.

Even though my thong has been returned to me and I remember a few more facts about the evening, I have failed to fill in a few missing gaps. I don’t know who the trombone belongs to or how it came into my possession. My enigmatic mention of seaweed at the end of my last post of the evening is also unexplained. I’m beginning to think I should leave it like that. Perhaps I don’t want to know the truth, in case I discover the police are investigating a man seen swimming with Bangor’s dolphins with the hope of finding romance.