Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm Back and Bruised

The hammer injury was bad. The stomach upset was much worse. I’ve not had a good few days and I’ve barely written a thing.

But the important news is that I’m back, feeling a little worse for wear, but otherwise in good spirits. I can even type again, with both hands. My swollen thumb has returned to its normal proportions and doesn’t keep painfully hitting the spacebar.

I'm still at something of a loss to know how this whole disaster befell me. All I do know is that despite my inability to do any kind of manual work, Gabby asked me to help her put a new door on her allotment shed. That was on Friday morning. I put on my most hard-wearing denim thong and set to work. On Friday afternoon, I managed to smack the top of my thumb with a claw hammer.

It has at least taught me a lesson about life. Men who are trained to dance, should dance. Those trained to labour, should labour. I’ve commented often on the terrible injuries suffered by those untrained in thongaleering arts, so there should be little surprise when a man suffers from his total inability to hit a nail into a piece of wood.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Hand

The Chipster has been silent for the last two days for a very good reason. It's the same reason it's take me five minutes to type two lines. I had an accident with a hammer on Friday morning and ruined my left hand. For the sake of economy, I won't go into details. One handed typing is not easy.

The hand was terribly swollen on Friday, better yesterday, and should be usable tomorrow. For the moment, there's still some painful swelling. It has caused all kind of trouble with my thong and I've had to cancel all shows for the next week or so.

I had to type this, no matter how difficult it was, since I don't want you to think I've deserted you.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thonging On...

I’ll be away from home today but if any of you read this blog with the intention of trying to steal Wales’ largest thong collection, you needn’t bother... I’m leaving the flat fully armed with a detachment of Romanian girlfriend standing behind the door with a bread knife. You have been warned.

In order to cheer myself up after yesterday’s funeral, I’ll be spending the afternoon in a bookshop. So, if you see a sad figure sitting alone in the corner of a coffee shop and reading a book, then it might well be me.

The service was lovely. We had tributes from a few of Larry’s fans and having been reminded of Thom Gunn’s poetry yesterday by Ms. Baroque, I read these lines which seemed relevant to the moment.

Deeper into damper ground
Till the granules work their way
Down to unseen streams, and bound
Briskly into to water’s play

May you lastly reach the shore,
Joining tide without intent,
Only worried any more
By the currents’ argument.

It gives me great comfort to think of old Larry dancing on the waves like he’s in some great cosmic spin cycle. He was a good thong but I’m sure other thongs will soon fill the void he’s left behind him. I have a nice yellow thong that I’m thinking of promoting…

We’ll speak later…

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Book of Condolence

I’m opening a book of condolence for Larry. If you have any fond memories of him, please leave them here.

Larry RIPped

A bit of a disaster at Chipster Central and some sad news too.

Yesterday, our washing machine broke down. The engineer has been this morning and diagnosed the problem. He found Larry twisted, dead, and ruined at the back of the drum. He must have found his way there during a spin cycle and the poor little fellow couldn’t escape. It’s a sad loss.

Larry, should you not remember, was my favourite thong. He’s been with me years and has seen many a sight that would make a honest man blush with shame. It’s a terrible loss so I hope you’ll understand if my spirits are a bit low today. I'll post something more upbeat later in the day when my spirits have recovered.

In addition to having to attend Larry’s funeral later today (we’re planting him in an old walnut jewelry case in the communal garden) I’m also preoccupied by a visit from the BT engineer. We’re having our phone lines changed over to BT so those of you with my number, don’t try to call me until you’ve emailed me and got the new number.

Poor Larry. He never lived to see a Lib Dem government, the first thong on Mars, or even Gabby’s performance on Eurovision (it’s bound to happen). It's also sad that he didn't go, as I'd always hoped I'd see him go: while I had a smile on my face.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Anonymous Peril

‘Arses on toast…’

I came across that line, late last night, and I’ve been unable to shake it free from my brain. It just about summed up my Monday; the day when I finally learned that it’s not always wise to follow the advice of somebody who posts comments anonymously to a blog.

There’s some evil mastermind out there, possibly the very person reading this right now, who nearly cost the Chipster the contents of his thong. Their plan was fiendishly simple: suggest to a gullible well meaning sort of man that he might be able to serve the community by performing for the old folk. As you know, I’m always willing to ‘do my bits for the community’, as I described it to Gabby as I packed my duffel bag. You also can’t deny that I’m a less annoying version of Bono and, when push comes to shove, have tighter buttocks too.

The Beryl Reid Nursing Home is one of the better good causes. It has become Bangor’s premier resorts for the geriatrically inclined and was the first place I thought to contact when Anonymous put the proposition to me. After all my bitter posts of the last few days, I wanted to do something that might make you all love me a little more. That’s the only reason I hastily arranged to dish out a bit of free hip love. I rang up the home and asked them if they’d like me to go along and dance for the old ladies. It surprised me that they hadn’t immediately hung up.

‘What kind of dancing do you do, Mr. Dale?’ asked the matronly sounding woman on the other end.

‘Gyrations,’ I explained. ‘A few hip thrusts, lots of long-distance thonglateering, ending with the ladies having a brief one of one with the master of ceremonies before I stuff him into my hat and run naked from the room.’

The phone fell silent for a few moments. ‘Well, it’s jigsaw night but I don’t see why we can’t fit you in,’ she said. ‘How about seven o’clock?’

I arrived at ten to the hour.

‘Chip Dale?’ asked the woman who came out and met me in the car park. ‘My name’s Jenkins. Fiona Jenkins. I’m the staff nurse. We spoke on the phone…’

I shook the hand of the nurse who reminded me of a scaled down version of Dawn French. She didn’t so much have a bussom as forward firing artillery.

‘I was hoping we could have a word or two before you perform,’ she said. ‘There are certain things I should tell you.’

I held up my hand. ‘I’m fully aware of the special requirements,’ I told her.

‘You are?’ she asked. Her brows came together in one of those puzzled frowns which included giving me an inspection from head to toe that couldn’t have been less invasive if it had been a bed bath. I think it was my bright yellow leather jumpsuit as much as anything that had her confused.

‘Of course,’ I replied. ‘You’re going to tell me that some of your older patients are very frail and I shouldn’t get them too excited.’

‘That’s right,’ she said, unable to hide the appreciation from her voice.

I nodded. ‘I’m fully up to speed on the latest government guidelines on exotic dancing for the over seventy fives.’ I plunged my hand into my duffel bag and retrieved the pen I’d brought along for that very reason. ‘Here you go,’ I said.

She took the pen from me and inspected it with another confused look.

‘It’s a highlighter pen,’ I explained. ‘It glows bright yellow under an ultraviolet light.’ I delved again into the bag and pulled out the portable UV light I use for the gigs when I wear my luminous thongs. ‘All I want you to do is to go through my audience and give each lady a mark out of ten. One tells me to keep my hips away and ten means she could remove my thong with her knitting needles.’

‘You want me to do what?’ she spluttered.

‘Write the numbers on their foreheads!’ I said, growing a little infuriated at the woman’s lack of imagination. ‘That way, as I dance around the room, I’ll simply check out their number and give them the right amount of hip juice.’

She looked at me long and hard.

‘It’s a non-permanent marker,’ I added.

‘Oh, fair enough,’ she said and tucked it into a pocket.

There were twenty OAPs in the room and the whine of hearing aid feedback set my teeth on edge. It took me five minutes to clear an area, arrange the lighting, and for Nurse Jenkins to go around the room and mark foreheads. Then it was time for my dance.

I pressed play on my mobile concert system and the first bars of Tom Jones’ Delilah was met by the muttering complaints of twenty senior citizens turning down their hearing aids. Only then was there a smattering of applause, though even there, I can’t be certain it wasn’t dentures settling.

I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window
I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind
She was my woman
As she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind

I danced for fifteen minutes, Deliha making way to Sexbomb and then The Green Green Banks of Home. It was hot stuffy work, but never let it be said I shirk my duties, even when I’m working for nothing. I made my way along the lines of ladies who responded with the usual appreciation. The numbers glowed bright on their wrinkled brows. I don’t hold with anybody who argues that you have to be of a certain generation to enjoy a good thong show. Some of these ladies were well into their nineties and I’ve never been so pawed as I was last night.

Eventually, I was down to the thong and the business end of the strip, as you might say. So far I hadn’t gone through my usual routine of having ladies thrust legal tender down my tender areas. The numbers had all been low digits and I really thought that was too much. And to be honest, the whole evening was meant to be my bit for charity. I really didn’t want to rob them of their every farthing. That was the home’s job.

Only, as I was entering the final stages, the ladies started to complain. It seems that they were eager to see the whole show. Purses had appeared and a line of fivers were ready for the pouching.

As you know, I’m not a man who likes to disappoint his crowd. I reluctantly began to work my way down the line, receiving the money with my usual thanks and a thrust of the hips. Finally I reached the end of the line where the oldest of the residents was sitting in a wheelchair. A large number 1 shone in the middle of her forehead. I didn’t know if it was safe to approach. A number one is usually a no-thong zone. It’s actually a government rule punishable by heavy fines.

‘Come on over here sonny,’ said the woman, gesturing me over. I couldn’t say no, not to that woman with a kind look on her gaunt features. She grabbed my hips and stationed me before her wheelchair. ‘It’s for charity,’ I told myself as I looked up at the ceiling and waited for the deposit to be made in the First National Bank of Thongland.

Finally, I felt the slightly feeble fumbling around my thong come to an end and then a smart slap stunned my rump restarted my engines and I carried on dancing.

Or I would if something hadn’t sent an excruciating pain through my groin.

I collapsed on the floor, the agony being so great that my body was just convulsed. It was eye watering. The whole of my world was a fiery ball, pain and heat and agony… I managed to get a hand down my thong and felt something sharp bite into my fingers. Gently, I pulled the object away and felt the pain subside immediately.

I looked down to my hand where the upper set of a pair of dentures smiled at me.

‘Who did that?’ I screamed. Only the woman screamed even louder as they congratulated themselves on a job well done.

‘Do you know how dangerous that could have been?’ I asked, not letting it go. ‘Do you know what damage that can do to a man?’

‘Oh, don’t be such a cry baby,’ shouted one. ‘It was only a joke.’

‘It was a love bite,’ shouted another.

‘Come over here and I’ll kiss it better,’ should a third.

Finally, the woman in the wheelchair waved to me. ‘Give me those back,’ she said. ‘I only have two pair.’

Despite everything, I couldn’t rage at her. The number one glowed dangerously on her forehead. I handed her the teeth back and to my eternal revulsion, she slipped them back in my mouth where they then beamed at me a second time that evening.

‘Hmmm…’ she said, smacking her lips together. ‘Coconut oil.’

After that, I decided that the thong would stay on. I got quickly dressed and stormed out of the home, determined that I would never dance again for charity. Nor, might I add, will I ever take advice and suggestions from anybody who leaves anonymous comments on my blog. I’ve a good mind to disable anonymous comments. After all, anonymous comments nearly disabled me.

Thong on…

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Curious Itch

I had a curious itch around my loins this morning. One’s mind naturally suspects flea infestations but a quick inspection told me it was something much less severe. It was merely my English genes waving their flags and draping bunting around my hips.

It’s St. George’s Day! God Save The Queen! Now let’s say bad things about the French.

It probably also explains the ill-tempered rant I posted earlier and for which I sincerely apologise. I get hot under my shirtless collar with dickie-bow attachment whenever I become extraordinarily jealous. And a place on Dame Edna’s soft has always been one of my deepest held wishes, along with flashing any member of the Geldof houshold. Actually, I once caught a fleeting glance of Sir Bob on one of my visits to London, but I couldn’t get my trousers off quickly enough. However, now I’ve grown older, I’ve mellowed somewhat. I’d be quite happy to flash any of them: Trixie Geldof, Bumblebee Geldof, Dumbledore Geldof, or even John Dos Passos Geldof.

The point is: you must never abandon your dreams, no matter how crazy they sound.

Subjective, My Arse…

Fresh from watching the normally sublime Dame Edna give Rod Stewart’s daughter far too easy a time, I found myself fuming and stalking around the flat last night, looking for something to damage. I ended up hurling a bag of garden peas out of the Velux window. It was a full bag, bought from Sainbury’s, so it wasn’t cheap...

It wasn’t The Chipster at his best and if you’d been in the Bangor region, you might have heard him scream: ‘This, Kimberly Stewart… this is what you’ve reduced me to!’

Tossing petit pois out into the night is a kind of impotence, I know it is. The peas paid the price for my inability to function as a man. And I make that confession with a frankness that comes as something of a surprise. I’m not familiar with the sensation of being unable to go on the offensive in some meaningful way. I wanted to hit the West End with a shovel. Glitz had become anathema to me. I want to throw on my Herculean thong and cleanse the stables with my powerful hose.

The Chipster was feeling oddly mean. Now it’s morning, I’m still a monster in the making.

My twitchyness began with my last post. Rilly Super is right: intellectual content on this blog should (and now does) come with a warning. I should also avoid writing about art. Things just weren’t going right when I started to feel contrite after reading the comments you’d left. One, by Ms. Baroque, caught my attention, in which she admitted that ‘I think I'd be shy of making categorical pronouncements about whether someone "has talent" or whatever’. To which Jan Tregeagle replied and said that ‘I was probably rather too harsh on the wee Banksy, particularly when artistic talent is so subjective.’

How could I stay angry when there are such good people in the world? Guilt fell on my like Jove’s wrath. I felt bad that I’d been muttering horrible unnatural things about Rod Stewart’s daughter. I’d thought unflattering things about the poor girl, about her thighs, about her nose, and I’d destroyed a week’s supply of greens in the process. Poor Kimberly Stewart has as much right as anybody to be a model. If that’s what she wants to do, then it’s no concern of mine and I’m not going to make any rash judgments based on the irrelevant fact that she’s been blessed with her father’s good looks…

I should stop.

Just typing that last line felt like drumming my fingers on a cheese grater. There are flecks of skin dropping between the keys. My caps lock is stuck with congealed flesh and fingernail. I can't be as nice as that. I can't bite my lip. I feel a rant rising. It’s not something I can hold back. Later, I’ll regret every word I’m about to set down. The processed peas have good reason to fear me. They’re not safe, even at the bottom of the freezer, hidden under the oven chips. But I promise I won’t swear. Containing the rage is what gives a rant focus. Take the anger. Transform it into something good. Get ready. I can feel it rising.

It’s here… My thong of self-control has slipped.

We are unfortunate to have been born at a time when the world is owned by maggots. They burrow under our skin, they lay their eggs. The eggs hatch and immediately begin to consume the flesh that surrounds them. We have other names for this flesh. We call it fame, privilege, opportunity. It is like the Jedi’s force. It surrounds us, exists within us. Exists within all living things. It also exists within the Osbournes though we shouldn’t call that living. Maggots infest dead flesh too, remember. Dead heavy metal tattoo bearing flesh that goes by the name of Ozzy.

This is all relevant. Kimberley is a friend of Ozzy’s son, Jack; a man whose talents have yet to transcend the ordinary. She is an ‘it’ girl. He is an ‘it’ boy. They are part of the ‘it’ crowd which distinguishes itself from the rest of humanity by lacking that one critical component that hold many people back: self-awareness.

Self-awareness is a terrible thing to suffer. I can only imagine the life I would have led if I hadn’t been so aware of my limitations. I can’t hold a note so I never pursued that singing career. For the similar reasons, I’m not currently researching high energy nuclear fusion at CERN. Nor am I a Welsh International Prop Forward, play up front as a striker for Liverpool, nor do I hold the world for the longest ear hair.

This just sound sarcastic. But this is what comes of putting off the inevitable moment when I’m forced to say that Kimberley Stewart is as vacuous as she is talentless. And now you hate me. I know you do. You think that The Chipster’s a man who holds grudges, takes things too seriously. You want to hear takes of thongs but I subject you to one of my rants.

But why is this so wrong? I know Kimberly Stewart is insignificant, but doesn’t she represents every judgement we’re ever discouraged from making? Why do I receive hate emails whenever I suggest that the MacDonald Brothers make The Proclaimers look like Scotland’s most precious national treasure? Why should I feel hesitant to say that I consider Joseph Conrad to be a great novelist but I don’t feel the same way towards Zadie Smith? Is there anything wrong about saying you believe some has talent or decrying those you think have none? Have we reached a point where we must wrap our opinions up in crepe, wary of offending somebody?

To borrow the terms chosen by Ms. Baroque and Jan Tregeagle: being 'categorical' about our 'subjectivity' is what makes us function as human beings. I categorically believe in X and Y. I probably believe in Z. But I certainly don’t believe in a whole lot of other things I pass by each day. Of course, my judgements are subjective but this is no reason for me to believe in them or from expressing them with some conviction. I believe there are good artists and bad artists. There are good blogs and bad blogs. There are good poems and bad poems. If there’s not, then allow me to present you with my newest poem.

Hedge whistle starlings, buttonhole and pews,
Clairvoyant whisky glass tumblers screws,
Beer barrels and smokey bars, the smell of yeast,
And Red Leicester is the cheese I like the least.

And how would you know that I came up with that little gem in as many seconds as it took you to read it? Well, I did. Straight off the top of my head. And if you don’t like it, then you’re clearly…What?

Ignorant?
Opinionated?
Knowledgeable?
A rational functioning human being willing to take a stand as say that it’s jibberish?

Talent, skill, craftsmanship. Whatever you like to call it: people prove themselves by the things they do. These things take time. They take effort. Artists shape reality in a way that others find amusing, beautiful, accommodating. Yet it seems like we have forgotten what it means to like and dislike. Talent and celebrity have become confused under the pressure of PR companies busy lacing our cultural waters with cheap wine. Stars get contracts before they’ve proven their worth. It has become the case that, as Ms. Baroque says:

‘"talent" is a small part of what gets a person's work out there. The other factors are numerous and include being in the right place, hitting the Zeitgeist, being canny, knowing the right people - energy, application, doggedness, self-confidence, vision, a thick skin, etc etc.’

The depreciation of talent worries me. But what worries me more are the ways that criticism has waned in importance. ‘What do critics know?’ is a trite question, which usually implies that something they champion isn’t worth a look. Critics perhaps deserve our scorn. At some point, it became less a matter of celebrating accomplishment in favour of something that’s obtuse, archaic, ‘intellectually challenging’. And that really worries me. It makes me worry as much as the peas worry about meeting the starry skies of North Wales. It worries me because we’re losing our critical faculties. Children in school aren’t taught to make educated judgements because ‘everybody should be allowed their opinion’. Teachers are encouraged to mark positively, rarely ‘correcting’ a child’s problems because this might given them a complex. Conversely, people are encouraged to express themselves without fear of criticism since 'every voice is just as important as the next'.

Well, my thong quivers with anger when I hear these arguments. I’m a professional. I believe in my art. I know what it is to create something wonderful. I know what it means to create something beautiful. And I know what it is to fail.

There should be achievement. There should be failure. There should be the right of a thong wearing man – let us all him ‘Aggravated from Bangor’ – to throw bags of peas to the night and say that Kimberley Stewart is a talentless, yet-to-be has been, without a single quality that raises her above the multitudes, and who squanders the real opportunities that life has afforded her to make a complete fool of herself in the public eye.

And if you don’t like that subjective judgement, then tough bloody luck.

The Chipster is off to dig another packet of peas from out of the freezer.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Good Riddance To Bansky Rubbish

I’ve had it on good authority that the Romanians have a hard time understanding our art and culture. You can hardly blame them. I seem to be the only person who thinks that Banksy is overrated. I had to stop Gabby running off this morning with a pot of white paint. She had the misguided intention of painting a large mural of my loins on the end of the Post Office. I hardly had the nerve to tell her that the wall was simply too small for a task of that size.


It did, however, get me thinking about my project for my English class. I’ve been asked to ‘write an opinion piece about two or more current events’. This is where my afternoon has gone me…

As a self-publicist, an agent provocateur, or even as somebody specialising in art parody, Banksy has no current equal, though you could perhaps make a case for Gilbert and George or any number of wittier examples found on the web. Banksy’s elevation to one of the UK's most high profile artists has just a bit of the noble savage about it. It's not far distant from the enlightenment practice of taking some poor tribesman from one newly conquered dominion and presenting him at court dressed as a gentleman. Even the cheery mateyness of the ‘Banksy’ name epitomizes so much. It’s that same game as ‘The Wife in the North’ plays with class and the north. It’s the Patty Hearst story retold to a new audience, where the rich kid hangs around the poor in order to look and feel cool. The whole thing has a patronising air about it, even before we get to the problem of people preferring a shallow fabrication to the real thing.

Quite evidently, the British media care little about understanding art. Today they report with some shock, though tinged with an oddly paradoxical delight, that a famous mural by Bansky has now been whitewashed over by council workers.

There is a thong splittingly funny moment in the piece in the form of the council’s response: ‘We recognise that there are those who view Banksy's work as legitimate art, but sadly our graffiti removal teams are staffed by professional cleaners not professional art critics.’ What makes it additionally funny is the notion that professional critics of any worth have promoted his work as genuine art. I thought Banksy’s celebrated doodles are the result of their being spotted by Angelina Jolie, that eminent critic of anything and everything.

Of course, it hardly matters if the newspapers get these things wrong. Nothing matters but readership. Certainly not facts. It doesn’t matter that Bryan Ferry studied art at University of Newcastle. It’s one of the little details ignored by the media so busy castigating him in broad strokes for having admitted to admiring the Nazi's sense of spectacle.

Ferry undoubtedly made a stupid remark. He stupidly assumed that the British tabloids would play fair. He made the remarks to a German newspaper, perhaps assuming that a more knowledgeable continental audience would understand his point. Perhaps they did as it only appear to be here in the UK that he’s held up as a Nazi sympathiser and there are calls for him to lose his M&S card. There’s no attempt to contextualise his comments, nor explain the extent to which Hitler’s regime was intimately concerned with art.

Over at The Baullieu Blog, Danvers argues that the Nazi regime oppressed the art in favour of 'sterile neo-classical works of muscular figures doing heroic things' and that Ferry's mistaken championing of Nazi projects is enough to warrant the criticism. Yet this seems to me to be an argument based on taste, a preference for (jazz, Brecht, 'modern art') and not morality. There is something about that sterile neo-classicism which Ferry apparently admires. It is to take one side in an age old debate about form and the formless. As contemptible as the regime and its methods, the Nazi master plan was wrapped up with questions of aesthetics. Nazi art and architecture is alienating in its scale, chilling in its assumptions. It rises from the absolute belief in form and reflects the Nazi certainty that Germanic archetypes are to be found in nature and history.

'Triumph of the Will', the 1934 propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl, currently has a rank of 7.9 on the Internet Movie Database. It is seen as one of the most important documentaries ever made. It redefined propaganda and Riefenstahl broke new ground in developing an aesthetic for cinema. Are those that followed her Nazis sympathisers too? What about George Lucas, whose Star Wars films are full of the kind of imagery pioneered by Riefenstahl?

Art reflects human passions, habits, doubts, ambitions. It is often bound up with moral judgements, but sometimes moral judgements that are wrong. Sometimes they are staggeringly wrong. Sometimes they are so wrong that no right minded person would argue otherwise. Yet their rightness or wrongness does not change their power of real art to affect its viewer. In this limited way, art transcends morality. We cannot divest ourselves from our immediate response to it. Art literally takes the breath away before we’ve had chance to intellectualise our response to it. I’d be surprised if anybody responds in that way to Banksy’s work. How many hearts have missed a beat on first seeing one of his pieces on a wall? Yet I’m sure thousands of people are still moved, often unknowingly, by art whose genesis lay in vilest era of the last century. Of course, this does not condone, in any way, the regime that allowed and in some cases encouraged this art to exist, but it does highlight that art is different to politics.

We face the same problem now that the media have linked the Virginia Tech campus murders to 'Oldboy', the Korean film that won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes a couple of years ago.

Before the events of the last few days, I had considered 'Oldboy' one of the finest films of the last decade. It’s Shakespearean in that it is one of the few modern stories I could imagine written by a sixteenth century revenge tragedian. The last half hour is as disturbingly brilliant as storytelling gets these days. Yet it’s less bloody that 'Titus Andronicus'; much less bloody than many American films whose whole premise is gore. Where most action and horror films laud the grotesque, 'Oldboy' lauds the tragedy of forbidden love. The few moments of violence play out more in the mind than they do the screen, such as the one brief scene in which the lead character eats a live squid. It’s not pleasant to watch but it’s part of the film’s culture and significant to its themes.

The media will never care to discuss this sort of thing. Art is reduced to the simple morality of good versus evil when described by the tabloids. Simple judgements overrun the complexity of the issues that still surround Cho Seung-Hui's actions. Two still images from a Korean film seem to match photographs taken by a Korean killer. One easy association that makes for big headlines.

A New Vista

I’m not a geek. I haven’t got the time. I haven’t got the halitosis. And there’s simply not enough room in my life for computers, Romanian girlfriends, and my ongoing quest to find the perfect thong. But I do like a good writing environment. I have a Mac sitting in my office for that very reason. I want easy to use machines that don’t answer back. I like sleek lines too. I want to oil up my machine late at night as though it’s an extension of Chipster central.

However, when it came to buying a laptop recently, I had to go for the PC. You don’t know how many times I’d have to fill my pouch with fivers before I could afford to buy a PowerBook. And Apple just won't extend their discounts to strippers, even though we're technically educating people as much as a teachers. That’s why I bought myself a Sony Vaio. A geek wouldn’t buy a Vaio. They’re probably more style than substance. But I don’t care. What I want in a machine is not what others want.

Which is why last night I installed my nice new shiny copy of Windows Vista and it doesn't matter to me about all the bad press it’s been getting. I simply love it like no man should love an operating system.

There will be some who say I’m a twisted deviant who also likes to steal the ice cream from children or push old people under tractors. But the truth is that I love my new Vista. I love it for one reason and one reason alone. My laptop goes from standby to work mode in seconds. In fact, it’s probably less than that. I open the lid and my desktop is ready for me. It’s as quick as that.
I don’t care about games, graphics, desktop publishing, or any of that rubbish. From standby to wordprocessor in milliseconds. I can’t ask for better. It allows me to pick up my laptop and jot down my latest though before I’ve had chance to forget it. If Microsoft could now only turn their attention to designing the perfect thong, I’d be a very happy man.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Love Me, Love My Thong

Hot damn! The Chipster got up this morning and looked in the mirror. Jealous already? Of course you are… Not for the first time lately, I thought to myself: my God, Chip old son, you’re looking bloody handsome today! And you can’t deny it. Those of you who have seen me in the flesh recently will know I’m hotter than a rabid Spice Girl. I bring tears to the eyes quicker than a well lubricated onion. I put the triple X back into sexxxy.

I’m beginning to think that aging suits me. It’s giving me that unmistakable bearing of breeding, which I’m told is more attractive to the ladies than a midget millionaire. Age seems to be suiting me like it seems to suit my lookalike, the Lib Dem’s Welsh spokesman. You might have caught a glimpse of Lembit in the paper the other day, playing ping pong with his own less sexy version of Gabby Romanian. (I should add that the picture to your right is not the one showing Lembit playing ping pong. Or if it is, it's a strange Romanian version not well known to those of us new to the sport.)

There might be a few years between us and poor Lembit hasn’t got my body – though who has? – but he still looks pretty damn sexy. How the man’s not landed a modelling contract with M&S, I really can’t fathom. Perhaps they can use him instead of Bryan ‘The Fuhrer’ Ferry. If only the man could train his body, he'd be the perfect human: looks, brains, as well as brawn. The others photos I saw of him playing around the pool left me feeling quite jealous. It perhaps accounts for my having just come back from the local Argos where I bought myself a ping pong table.

Ping pong. Don’t you just love saying those words? Ping pong. Ping pong. Ping pong. And wouldn’t the world be a better place if we left it to the Chinese to name everything? Running out and buying the table was a bit rash. This flat wasn’t built for a ping pong. I mean, why do you think China’s so big in the first place? Gabby also had a fit when she saw me with a ping pong paddle in my hand. She thought I’d taken a job taxiing aircraft. After all was calm, we spent half an hour dabbling in the finer arts of spin and ball control. I managed to grind her weak forehand into the dirt for all its worth.

I’m now taking a breather before I dismantle the table and take it back to the shop. Romania has never been a great ping pong playing nation. Neither has Wales. I've come the conclusion that both of our peoples should just stick to what we’re so good at: and that’s looking so hot and bloody sexy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Letter From Mrs. Arafat

'With God all things are possible.'

I thought it a rather nice sentiment, coming, as it did, from the widow of the gentleman to your right. I like to think that God is laid back, flexible, and doesn't mind if we make the odd mistake.

I also thought it an admirable phrase, coming as it did in an email from an unexpected fan. It turns out that Mrs. Yasser Arafat reads my blog and is a huge admirer of Welsh thongdom. She also recommends that I visit Dublin and asks that I allow her to deposit $18 million dollars in my bank account. What can a man say? I've accepted, naturally...

I can tell you’re just a little bit suspicious. You’re wondering why Mrs. Arafat wants to symbolically thrust $18 dollars down the Chipster’s thong? That’s nearly nine million pounds, or 1, 800, 000 five pound notes. I have a pretty room thongs but to be honest, I think that even I would find it all a rather tight fit. Where would I put my spare set of keys? Well, to put your suspicions at rest, read the following, my thong-loving friends. Then admit that the Chipster moves in some rarefied company.

mrs.suha1122@yahoo.co.uk has sent this email to you to recommend the following page from visitdublin.com, the official tourist information web site for Dublin: http://www.visitdublin.com/contact/default.aspx.

Dear Friend,
I am Mrs.Suha Arafat Yasser from Palestinian. I am married to the late formal head of state of Palestinian for several years before he died in France after a brief illness. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only few days. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $18m (eighteen million U.S.Dollars)with a BANK in London. Presently, I have carefully moved this funds out of the bank in London and deposit it with a private company in Europe as a photo material for family use for safe keeping so that my govern we not know about this funds as they have already seized and freeze all the bank account belonging to my late husband both home and abroad. In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, hence my desire for a foreign assistance. You can visit the BBC news broadcast below for better understanding of what I am talking about.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3479937.stm

It is on this note that I'm asking your partnership to keep this fund to your account. I took this decision because my government is not in good terms with me; I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of the presence of my government agents around me always. I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of my lawyer who is base in London Uk to finalize this transaction with you. You are to contact my lawyr through this email address (barrchrischamber@yahoo.co.uk )
Best Regards,
Mrs. Suha Arafat Yasser
The poor woman is obviously no typist as there are just a few typos here and there, but I expect she’s still feeling the grief at losing dear old Yasser. But it’s nice to see that she’s making her independent way in the world.

Gabby thinks it's a wonderful offer and has insisted that tomorrow I nip down to my BANK (the capitals are how Mrs. Arafat seems to like them) and see what can be arranged.

I only have one question for you. Should I reply? How to you respond to the ex-wife of a powerful power broker? What should I say? Do you think she’d be interested in free tickets to one of my shows?

Very Funny...

Yesterday, I mentioned facetiously in the comments to my previous post that somebody would need a good arm to get a daffodil to land on the window to our Velux windows. This morning, I was sitting here replying to an email when I heard something hit the window. I look up and see this:


Whichever one of you is the joker, I'd like to shake your hand. You made me laugh so hard, I burst the seam on my thong.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Forest Gump Moment

Sitting here, feeling a bit bored and not a little glum, I look up at the Velux window we have in the ceiling. At that moment, a petal of blossom lands on it. I just managed to catch this snapshot of it before a gust of wind carried it away. I think it was telling me that I've read too much Wordsworth today.

Thongs of Excellence

Scientists have long argued that rap music incites people to commit violence. One explanation suggests that the rhythms of rap correspond with those of the heart, causing blood pressure to rise and increase a person’s aggression. It must be true. I’m feeling really aggressive today and I’ve been listening to rap.

I feel so mean, I could strangle a squirrel.

A big red squirrel.

If there’s a dumber idea than producing a rap version of Wordsworth’s Daffodils, I’d love to hear it. Actually, I’d prefer listening to just about anything rather than the version of the dullest of all the nation’s favourite poems. I suggest that you don't visit Cumbria's tourism website.

Ms. Baroque and Arthur Clewley drew my attention to this little atrocity and each receive one of my new shining awards; or the Thong of Excellence as I like to call it.

Wear the badge with pride, fellow Thonglateers. Commemorative posing pouches are winging their way to you with tomorrow's morning post.

Ms. Baroque imagines ‘poor William Wordsworth, trying to do his bit so that we could have our bicentenary of the publication of "Daffodils," when all at once he spies a host, a crowd of rude boys outside his window...’ The problem with Wordsworth is I think people forget that he himself was something of a rude boy in his youth. The Lyrical Ballads were something new. He and his friend Coleridge were radical, revolutionary. Only now is Wordsworth plagued with problem daffodils and Coleridge is troubled by an albatross. It’s like Peter Cook only being remembered for his role in Bedazzled. People might get the wrong idea and think of him as a gentle comedian from the school of Barry Took.

Wordsworth needs to be remembered for something other than daffodils. Which is why I propose we begin to celebrate the eleventh book of his Prelude.

This last opprobrium, when we see a people,
That once looked up in faith, as if to Heaven
For manna, take a lesson from the dog
Returning to his vomit.

How about marking that with a special day of making dogs vomit around Windermere? The tourists are sure to love it.

Mr. Clewley has a point when he argues that ‘If we can ban Snoop Dog from coming across the Atlantic then surely we can ban a giant hip hop Squirrel Nutkin from crossing the Pennines and doing a break dancing Remains of Elmet.’

Here, however, I have to take issue with what is an otherwise admirable sentiment. I wouldn’t be so quick to ban the little fellow. Across England, the red squirrel is facing extinction because of the spread of the grey. It can’t be long before the grey squirrels make it as far north as Cumbria. We should then let nature take its course. We should stand back and watch, with great satisfaction, as the grey take over Nutkin’s hood in a spay of bullets from their Mac-10 submachine guns. Then we hear no more about these bloody daffodils.

Eight Thirty

Eight thirty this morning, I was in my study typing away. Kurt Vonnegut's death had a profound effect on me last week. It's made me reassess what I do. I've come to the conclusion that it's about time I used my energies more productively and began to write up my experiences in Welsh thongdom. You needn’t worry. I’m not going to bore you with them here. They’re going into the novel I’ve decided to write. It’s why I’ve been quiet for the last week. I’ve written fifteen thousand words that would Jackie Collins blush. It’s been quite liberating, chronicling my early on the stripping circuit. I see it as the ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ of exotic dancing.

Since I’ve decided to direct all my storytelling energies into that private work, I’ve decided to be less long winded here. I’m still struggling to understand what blogging is about. I know I should limit myself to four hundred words for every post. It’s about as much as I can write in one sitting and probably as much as you can read.

Later today, I’ll also be beginning what I hope will be a regular feature. I’ll be awarding my 'Thong of Excellence' to a blog, blogger, or blog post, that has caught my eye this week. It’s my way of saying thank you to some of the blogs I enjoy reading and which give me some pleasure during the long hours between performances.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Farmer Part I

This is the true story of a man who smells of pigs.

If the truth be told, he also smells of cows but that’s hardly pertinent to the story I’m about to tell. Nor does the news that he shares a close working relationship with sheep have any bearing on what follows. It would be as well if I hadn’t mentioned any of this at all as the only thing that should concern you as you read my account of the last few days is that the odour of the pig clings to the man. He goes nowhere without it.

The man’s full name is Randy Lewis Dale but we all call him The Farmer. That alone should tell you so much about him. My cousin is a man stuck somewhere at the tail end of his thirties and deep in his farmyard ways. He keeps pigs, sheep, and cows down there on the south east coast, though I’ve never been too sure where you should look for his estate. I haven’t been inclined to ask. He’s the sort of person who wouldn’t be satisfied if he merely told you his address. He’d have to invite you over for a few days among the hooves and horns and that’s something you’d be best advised to avoid. The Farmer is an odd man. He’s the oddest man ever to have churned milk into butter or chew a straw in a vaguely thoughtful way.

He arrived on my doorstep on Wednesday evening. I can’t say I was surprised. We’d had enough of an advance warning.

Half-way though Emmerdale, the breeze had shifted and had begun to blow from the direction of the station. That’s when Gabby mentioned a strange smell. I naturally checked all the usual suspects. I went to the fridge and tested the milk. I poked the goldfish to make sure it wasn’t gills up to the ceiling. Then I looked down the back of the sofa to see if any stray thongs had been abandoned there, as they so often are. Finally, I caught a touch of that fateful breeze and immediately recognised the smell of pigs. That’s when I knew my cousin was in town.

Having hid the booze and removed my priceless collection of posing pouches from the spare room, I was just about ready when Gabby mentioned that the smell had got so much stronger. That’s when the doorbell rang.

I opened the door to find The Farmer looking and smelling like a true rural Dale. Even I was a little taken aback by the sheer scale of my English relative. He’s a big haystack of a man; rosy cheeked, calloused hands, coarse hair piled up like bails of well seasoned straw. I welcomed him in and introduced him to Gabby who was good enough to ignore the odours of the countryside and give him a welcoming peck on the cheek. Only, no sooner had these pleasantries been delivered than my normally hearty relative collapsed on the sofa and began to weep big rolling puddles of tears. They were tears so big you could dip sheep in them.

‘Oh Chip!’ wailed The Farmer through the sobs that sounded like an aspirating diesel engine, ‘I’m a man left broken my the buxom brigade! The world of the nubiles has deserted me. No longer will I roll in the hay with Glenda! The days of trysts in my tractor have come to an end! She’s left me, Chip. She’s left me for another man!’

That’s how he talks. Full of buxom wenches and assignations in barns. It made it even harder to know what to say. Instinctively I knew that his wife could only have left him for a man who didn’t smell of so many harvests and that could only be a good thing. Not that I thought it sensible to share this conclusion with The Farmer. In the maelstrom of his tears, he’d begun to gnaw at the arm of the sofa and, as you know, that’s a delicate emotional state for both man and chair.

‘What am I to do Chip?’ he asked after he spat out a mouthful of stuffing. ‘Am I to ever tend again to a nymph on a bail of hay? Is the land of totty beyond me forever?’

‘Have you tried boxes of chocolates?’ I offered.

‘Chocolates!’ spat Gabby. ‘You! she said, prodding The Farmer. ‘Chip’s cousin! Are you man or mouse? Have you tried punching man? You tell him leave woman or you put him in thresher.’

The Farmer patted her hand kindly. ‘If only it was as easy as a simple case of violence,’ he said. ‘She left me so suddenly I don’t even know where she’s gone.’

‘But surely you had some signs,’ I noted. ‘You must have seen that the romance had gone off the boil.’

‘Signs?’ sighed The Farmer. ‘I suppose I should have known it was all over when she refused to help me birth Gloria.’

‘Gloria?’ asked Gabby who was clearly in touch with this rustic tale. I admit that I was casually indifferent to any answer he could possibly give. Once you’ve seen a man try to chew a sofa’s fabric, you tend not to hold out much hope for what he has to say.

‘Gloria is a sow!’ he answered. ‘She’s the most glorious sow in existence. Took top prize at the Hartford Country Fair last year. Specially commended by the judges for having the best teats they’d ever seen.’

I’ve done some odd things as a stripper but I had to admit that I’d yet to judge a sow by its teats. Somehow, once you’ve been enlightened to the fact that grown men run competitions for that sort of thing, you tend to look at the world a little differently. You really do. However, rather than press the teat issue, I thought it best to get to the nub of the matrimonial dispute. In that direction, at least, I knew I might find an explanation for The Farmer’s arrival in Bangor.

‘So, you’re saying that Glenda left you because you asked her to act as a midwife to your pigs?’

‘You make it sound strange,’ said The Farmer. ‘You make it sound unreasonable.’

Personally, I thought ‘unreasonable’ sounded like a word that summed up the whole affair. I’d begun to feel in absolute agreement with the poor woman’s predicament. To be sure, if The Chipster’s ever found in the room with a heavily pregnant sow, you can bet your last dollar that the sow will have to tend to her own needs, and I care little that my well oiled arms are so suitably fit for birthing.

The Farmer’s cheeks billowed out as though he reminded himself of the irrational fear his wife had towards a pig in labour.

‘She said it made her feel ill,’ he sighed and indignantly rubbed the back of his hand across his nose. In the process he picked up something sleek and long. Images of Gloria birthing came to mind.

‘It is unfortunately hard to understand the female mind,’ I agreed, casting a quick glance at Gabby who was listening with a scowl draped like a velvet curtain across the blank recess of her features . ‘They have the oddest dislikes and some of the strangest moods.’

It was the wrong thing to say. Gabby is ever alert to even the slightest criticism. As soon as she felt my eyes on her, she responded like Romanian air defences.

‘Nothing odd or strange,’ she protested. ‘I help birth animals many times in old country.’ And with that, she was up from her chair. ‘I show you,’ she said. ’I show you. I have photo in room of me with hands up a…’

‘Thank you, Gabby,’ I quickly interjected. ‘We can do without the instruction manual.’

But it was too late. My Romanian princess was off to search her albums for the photo of her elbow deep into some animal.

‘Good woman you’ve got there,’ said my cousin with a fixed smile. ‘She reminds me of Glenda in so many ways.’ And just like that, The Farmer opened act two of his story of marital woe. ‘It’s a shame I can’t find a woman as good as that,’ he said. ‘If only I could find somebody to love me. Some place where I can stay for just a few days…’

I knew he was fishing for an invite but I wanted to see how far his lure ran.

‘If only there was somebody who could help me. Some member of the family who believes that a family must stick together. If only I knew generous relative in Wales who wouldn’t see me without a roof over my head…’ He looked at me with his eyes welling up with more tears. ‘Oh, don’t make me ask, Chip,’ he gasped. ‘I had nowhere else to go. You just have to say I can stay a few days. Just until I get my act together.’

‘But what about the farm?’ I asked. ‘What about the animals?’

‘All gone,’ he said. ‘I’ve sold everything.’

‘Everything?’

‘Everything.’

‘But what about Gloria and her prizewinning teats?’

‘She’s gone too. They’re now the property of to Tesco. That’s if she’s still around... She’s probably in a hotdog right now.’

This was all a bit too much to stomach. I looked uncomfortably towards the kitchen and my deep freeze. I buy all my hotdogs from Tesco. The wouldn’t taste any better knowing about teats.

‘When exactly did Glenda leave you?’ I asked, trying to regain a grip on the situation and find a reasonable excuse for denying my cousin sanctuary in my home.

‘Last June,’ he said. ‘It’s been a horrible few months.’

‘Months? But that’s nearly a year ago,’ I said, as sharp as that and mentally twice as quick. ‘Why come bothering us now?’

He fell back into his seat and turned his eyes to the ceiling. ‘Let me think… She left me in June. The divorce was finalised in November. I had to sell up in February. I finally moved out today. Only I have nowhere else to go. At least, not until the accountants sort out our finances. Divide the money…’

‘Yes,’ I spluttered, searching for a way out. ‘But, but… Haven’t you even organised yourself a new home?’

He never had chance to answer. Gabby was suddenly back in the room. In her hand she held a colour blow up you really don’t want me to describe.

‘Of course you can stay here, Chippy’s cousin,’ she said. ‘You welcome here. Chip will give you room. You sort out troubles. Stay as long as you want.’

And with that the issue was decided.

We chatted some more and Gabby forced me to inspect the photograph for a second and third time before I managed to calm the situation. The Farmer went off with Gabby to help tend her chickens and as soon as they’d left the apartment, Gabby’s photograph mysteriously had an accident with the paper shredder in my office. A man never needs to be reminded of the many places in the world where he never wishes to see his girlfriend’s elbows. And I’m sure it’s a sentiment I share with the world’s population of donkeys.

All this happened on Thursday evening but it was only later that night that the full extent of The Farmer’s problems came to light.

I began to suspect things when he began to ready himself for bed.

‘Anybody using the bathroom?’ he asked about ten thirty.

‘No, no,’ I replied, halfway through another of my Japanese films on DVD. ‘We don’t go to bed until late.’ I might have muttered something about his taking his time and running a bath but I really can’t remember. Gabby gave me a sharp look and I carried on watching Beat Takashi gazing enigmatically out to sea as a woman danced on the beach with a football.

‘Fair enough,’ said The Farmer and I heard the bathroom door close. As I’ve said before: the whole thing had passed beyond my caring. I was too intrigued in my film to thing about my cousin until about ten minutes later when I heard the bathroom door open.

‘Goodnight all,’ said The Farmer.

‘Night,’ I replied, my eyes still fixed on the TV screen.

And that’s when I heard Gabby gasp and I had to look up.

Nothing in my life had prepared me to see what I saw that night. Even as I sit here, the sun cooking my flesh on this pleasant Saturday afternoon with Bangor feeling like an enormously generous place to be, I cannot begin to understand the inner workings of my cousin’s mind. I like to think I’m about as liberal as liberals get, accepting all sorts in this world of ours. But never have I felt so utterly lost for words as when I looked up and saw my cousin standing there.

I didn’t so much mind that he had crammed the wild growth that covered his head into a hair net. What I found distracting was the rest of his body squeezed into a pink lace nightie. It was tied with pink ribbons over pinker nipples that gleamed with pinkness through the thin pink fabric. They resembled pink door fittings on a pink door. There was absolutely nothing prize winning about these teats.

‘What you looking at?’ he asked as I continued to stare at him.

‘What you’re wearing,’ I finally said, suddenly overcome with honesty.

‘Oh this,’ he smiled and ran a finger down the transparent pink gown. ‘It’s one of Glenda’s old favourites. It always reminds me of her.’ And with that, he waved a self-conscious goodbye and disappeared into the spare bedroom.

Even the TV had fallen into silence – a heavily subtitled Japanese silence at that – and I just sat staring at the closed bedroom door. Finally, with her typical resilience, Gabby came around from the shock the first.

‘Your cousin is a very very very odd man,’ she said slowly before she picked up the remote control and flicked the TV over to the Romanian News channel on satellite. ‘We have words for men like that but I don’t say them because I try to be English lady.’

Which was perceptive, in its way, as that appeared to be the problem with my cousin: he too was trying to act like an English lady. However, that was a problem for another time. I left Gabby watching an hour long special on the Romanian grain harvest. Sleep might not hold all the solutions but I knew that I'd had enough agriculture for one day.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Bunday Times

I'd like to make it clear to everyone that the Chipster's buns are not pictured on page 46 of today's Sunday Times magazine (below). Great GranPapaPat is to be thanked for warning me about this potential confusion.

I'm now contacting my many sources inside the Welsh stripping community to see if we can identify this mysterious thongman. It's our sworn duty to protect such amateurs from themselves. No respected stripper would every be so bold as to stand on a table white attempting the asymmetrical hip gyration. And I can tell you that the position of his right leg is dangerously wrong. Such blatant disregard for stripping theory increases the chances of his developing serious hip injury later in his career.



I'd also like to apologise for not posting a thing yesterday. I fell asleep in the garden and what time I spent awake, I used to write out a full and proper account of my cousin's visit. I'll post it when it's done, possibly later today.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Bangor Sun God

It’s gloriously hot and sunny here in North Wales. I’m just back from the newsagent, where I went clad only in my thonged Speedos and flip flops to buy the day’s outpourings of Fleet Street. I’ll be soon tanning myself in the communal garden we have attached to the flats.

If I’ve been a little quite for a day or two, then you have to just forgive me. The tax forms have been giving me serious trouble, but now I’m back in the groove and full of determination to advance the Chipster cause in the coming weeks. I’m encouraged by the fact that with the British sailors unable to tell them their tales, the newspapers will find themselves with a few column inches left to fill. I intend on contacting them later on to sell them the full story of my time in solitary. I can see the headlines now: ‘A Easter in Tax Hell’.

My cousin also arrived last night. Bags on the doorstep. The smell of the farmyard lingering in the hall. I’m going to write up the details of The Farmer’s visit but I just want to get some suncream on this skin of mine. Give me an hour or two to let these fingers hammer the keyboard and I’ll deliver you a full account of The Farmer and why I say that North Wales must take his threats seriously.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

I've just seen the news that Kurt Vonnegut has died. It will be left to more worthy voices than my own to make a long eloquent tribute to the man, but I wanted to just say that he was one of my favourite writers. He was always pessimistic, even when optimism was in vogue. I liked that. I appreciated it. He was darkly funny, but always with a point more serious than the so called 'serious' writers. He proved that comedy could be a force of real intellect.

There will be more eloquent tributes I'm sure, but I just wanted to say that I'll miss his sombre, gruff, depressing but disquietingly human voice. He could always make me laugh those deep painful belly laughs. There are so few people who can do that. He was also another of those very few people I will now always regret never having met, at least once to say thank you.

And so it goes...

Tax Woes

I've been a bit quite the last 24 hours and it might continue for a little longer. My tax form has caused all sorts of freakish bad luck. There are missing receipts for boxes of performance thongs that needed finding. Then there are frantic phone calls to the tax office to ask if I can reclaim the tax on the body oil I buy by the vat. I hate doing my taxes. I hate doing them so much that I have to get them done and out of the way as soon as they drop onto the mat. Should anybody choose to live the life of an accountant, I think they should seek psychological help.

Gabby doesn't have any of these problems. Still holding a Romanian passport, she lives by different rules of taxation. Once a year, she goes down to the local meat market and buys the carcass of a sheep she posts to a mysterious address in Bucharest.

To add to my problems, I had a phone call from my English cousin. He lives over on the east coast, where he farms the land and grows his right wing politics. Randy's an odd beast. Which is why I wasn't too happy to hear that he's coming to visit. I tried to put him off but he's got more push than an column of German tanks.

So, that's me. Doing my taxes, mocked in Romanian, and awaiting the arrival of The Farmer later today. It should be an interesting few days. I'll post as soon as he's settled in.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Taxman Cometh

So, they've given me six months to fill it in but I want to have it done before the end of the June. It will take me that long to work everything out. From what I understand, there's very little for me to tick, let alone worry myself about the additional form where they give detailed instructions on how to write out sums greater than one million. I'll be lucky if I'm taxed at all. Stripping isn't as profitable as it used to be...

Now, do thongs count as plant and/or machinery?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

75 Today

Continuing in the spirit of posting the odd things I've found on the web, I've discovered that Cheeta, the chimpanzee from the original Tarzan films turns 75 today. And if this isn't the best news story of the day, I'll eat my thong.

Incidental fact: I actually auditioned for a Tarzan film many moons ago. And when I say many moons, you can be sure I don't mean the satellite. I lost out due to my irrational fear of bamboo and an inability to yodel.

Walter Murch

I don't do much of the usual blogging thing of linking to other blog posts, but thanks to Max at Not Really A Diary, I found this interview with Walter Murch. Murch's accomplishments are just too long to note (read about them here) but the interview is full of the kind of anecdotes that keep this old stripper happy. The links that Murch has discovered between Copernicus and the Pantheon I found fascinating but it's the stuff about the place of sound in films that, for me, makes it well worth the click.

And in case you worry: you needn't count this as part of the two days of pointless surfing we British are meant to do each month. Nor is it that self-important political blogging for a minority. This is valuable life enhancing stuff which comes with the Chipster's full money back guarantee.

I love the smell of sound editing anecdotes in the morning...

Back From Solitary

Feeling refreshed after my break from blogging yesterday, I’m now back in the groove and full of determination to advance the Chipster cause in the coming weeks. I’m encouraged by the fact that with the British sailors unable to tell them their tales, the newspapers will find themselves with a few column inches left to fill. I intend to contact them later today and to sell them the full story of my day in solitary. I can see the headlines now: ‘A Easter Bank Holiday in Hell’.

And I don’t intend on skimping on the gory details. This will be the full inside story of how I spent hours sitting on a recliner before the TV. I’ll recall the terrible conditions I experienced when I visited the refrigerator and discovered we’d run low on the wine. I expect it’s the sort of stuff that people will want to read about. It's the stuff that has won many a reporter a Pulitzer in the past.

It means, I suppose, that I’m really quite grateful to the government for last night’s remarkable climb down. Lesser climb downs have been made by teams of army commandoes abseiling the face of Ben Nevis. Des Browne deserves a medal for admitting that he was wrong. If only the rest of the cabinet could be so honest. We’d have the most highly decorated government in history. Stocks of copper, bronze, silver, and gold, would soon be depleted, and silk ribbon would carry a high market price.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Golf Moobs

I was watching the coverage of the Masters from Augusta when Gabby got back from the off license. After she’d finished emptying her crates of brown ale and arranging her bottles in the refrigerator, she threw herself down onto the sofa and together we admired Tiger Wood’s putting strokes. I was too wrapped up in the ebb and flow of the competition to notice that Gabby’s eyebrows were slowly coming together like two squirrels set to begin a reluctant joust. The first thing I knew of her quizzical look was when she turned to me and asked, ever so earnestly, why ‘Big Jugs Monty’ wasn’t playing.

I admit that I was a little big taken aback. ‘Big Jugs Monty’? I don’t know where she hears these things but she certainly doesn’t hear them from me. Man breasts – or ‘moobs’ as I think they’re now called – are no laughing matter. Being blessed with perfectly formed pectorals, myself, I don’t see any point in making fun of men who are cursed with that form of buxomness deemed unacceptable in this age of the plastically pert nipple.

Or at least that’s what I told Gabby who proceeded to lecture me at even greater length that in Romania male breasts are considered a sigh of great virility and that she was only watching the golf in order to catch Colin Montgomery in action. Apparently, the reason he’s so sexy to Romanian eyes is linked to the reason why Norman Wisdom is considered big in Albania. There, shortness of stature is considered sexy, as are clumsiness and flat caps worn askance.

I had no reply. I carried on watching the golf, left slightly subdued by the knowledge that my well oiled flat chest actually stands for nothing in the land of the magnificent moob.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Natural World

After finishing my big Easter Sunday meal, I say down and turned on the TV. I waited a few moments as the tube came to life and found myself watching BBC2. Simon King was already some way into a wildlife programme about cheetahs. The man has a gift, both for TV and for handling big cats. Or, at least, that's what I thought just before one of those magnificent beasts walked up to a tree and began to eject some juice from a gland beneath its tail.

Now, I've seen some things on the stripping circuit that could turn you grey overnight, I've seen the underworld of exotic dancing: the midget strippers, the obese strippers, and even the strippers of a pensionable age. Yet of all the terrible things I've seen, I've never seen them just after my tea on an Easter Sunday. It strikes me as a perverse bit of programming by the BBC. Why do they choose Sunday teatime for wildlife programmes? Are there people across the land who, feeling full after a big meal, want to watch an cheetah chewing an antelope’s carcass? ‘Tell you what love, that sponge pudding was a real treat but what I’d love now is to see some anal juices being fired from a leopard’s arse.’

I don’t think so.

So, God bless The Simpsons. At least I can watch this, safe in knowledge that there’s no chance of my seeing juices squirting from…

Oh, I spoke too soon. That crazy Grandpa Simpson!

The Smell of Bangor Bangers

I thought I’d take some time off blogging but this Easter has turned into a nightmare. Somebody has lit a barbecue in the garden beneath my apartment and they’re now playing the new Take That album for the fifth time this morning. Say what you like about religion’s part in world conflicts, human suffering, and the oppression of billions of people, but at least it’s a force for peace and quiet on holy days.

I’m afraid I’m not filled with much faith in human beings today. I bought Gabby an expensive Thornton’s chocolate egg and got something hand painted and hard boiled in return. It’s wonderfully authentic and traditional and all that, but it’s hardly Black Magic. It was a terrible thing to think. Now I look on it, I can see the care that Gabby has put into it. It’s a one of kind.

In his Easter service, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor accuses us of living in a ‘now’ culture, where we expect things ‘almost instantaneously’. The problem with instantaneous is that it tends to forgo the pleasure of depth. We don’t appreciate depth, these days.

I’ve also been stuck reading the Sunday papers and the news that the British sailors are to sell their stories. It fills me with mild curiosity. What in their stories is worth reading? Where is the depth? A hostage crisis that lasts a few days lack all the psychological interest of those that lasted years. How is Faye Turney altered by her time in captivity? If, as they’ve told us so far, they were kept in solitary confinement, what is there left to say? One hundred thousand pounds seems a bit much, even for heart-warming tales of how they befriended their jail cell’s resident cockroach and called it Barney.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Chipster's Film Review: Casino Royale

Mutterings & Meanderings suggested in the comments that I might just be a woman given yesterday’s posting about my eating chocolate and reading books. At first I felt insulted. Then I had a warm flush and had an unbearable desire to do some ironing. Such an assault on my masculinity called for immediate action. I settled down in front of the TV and watched the latest James Bond film.

None of the reviews I’ve read do ‘Casino Royale’ justice. This is a total makeover of the Bond franchise, with the producers cutting away every ounce of flab that it had gained up over the years. It lost the love of bad gags it found during Roger Moore's tenure, and also move away from the GQ magazine Bond that Brosnon brought to the series. It even lost Connery’s superhuman toughness.

What it introduced was violence towards Bond. Some say it’s too violent, but Bond has always been about violence. And masochistic violence at that. It was Roger Moore who seemed to turn them into camp comedies. Everything here feels loyal to the source material. Even the changes are true to the tone. The torture scene is far less violent than Fleming wrote it but it shows enough of Bond’s willingness to absorb pain to make us begin to understand the what drives him. This is a lean Bond, with more of an edge of realism than it’s ever had before. The stunts are as crazy as ever, but are kept within the realms of what’s possible. There is nothing that defies reason, or detaches us from what’s happening on screen. Even Judy Dench works better as M. She’s more cold hearted, meaner, yet more in keeping with the original M of Fleming’s imagination. Her relationship with Bond is an intriguing one as she’s the person who facilitates his apparent death wish and yet is the closest thing he has to a friend on screen. It’s a relationship I finally look forward to watch its develop.

The only criticisms I have are minor ones. At the end, Bond remarks to M that ‘The bitch is dead’ (the last line of Fleming’s novel). It leads Dame Judy to give a small speech reminding Bond why his cold heartedness is uncalled for. The speech coming howling from the vacuous cavity of some screenwriter’s liberal conscience. It is so clearly directed to the slower members of the audience who can’t see that this line as one of Bond’s stock defences and that, internally, he’s emotionally flatlining.

I’m also unsure about Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. I might well come to love her character the more times I watch the film, but for the first hour of the film her accent grated on my nerves. If she was attempting to portray a gratingly overconfident member of David Cameron’s inner circle, then she did a good job.

Daniel Craig is better than I could imagine at portraying this vulnerable Bond. He’s built like a gibbon, as though he’s spent too much time building his upper body strength. It has left him looking oddly top heavy. However, his bruises, cuts, and hurts are real enough and that, in the end, is what makes this the best Bond I think I’ve ever seen. And by the time I finished watching it, I was determined to buy myself a new tuxedo and learn some unarmed combat. I felt like a man again.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter

The Chipster has broken down. It happened yesterday but has carried on into this Good Friday. It’s a peculiar kind of break down involving the consumption of large quantities of chocolate and doing nothing but reading books, watching films, and sleeping. I have no idea how long this will last but I’m think it would be miraculous if it didn’t carry on over the weekend.

All I can suggest is that you go and hang up your thongs for the weekend too. Have a great Easter and I so we all meet up here next week.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bye Bye G4

Gabby’s in the bedroom crying into her pillow. She’s just heard that G4 are to split up. I’m sitting in my den with a huge grin on my face and listening to Kris Kristofferson growl his way through ‘Beat the Devil’.

One of Gabby’s ambitions since arriving in the country had been to terrorise the nation with a duet with G4, bless her poor little perverted Romanian heart. I hear the reason for the split is 'creative differences'. Two of G4 wanted to create something evil and the others only wanted to create something mildly demonic.

News like this makes a man's thong swell with delight!

I ain't sayin' I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Security Thong

It has taken me a day or two to get my head around the events of last weekend. I made allusions to them yesterday, but only now have I found enough slack in my storytelling thong to tell you all about a dire episode full of lust and lethargy.

If you recall the start of last week, The Chipster had suffered a miserable few days. His spirits bottomed out around Tuesday, but then recovered enough to expend the last of his energy in one mad night of exotic dancing for the ladies of Bangor. The weekend had meant to be one of rest. You might say I was in the mood for contemplation not gyration, but that’s no excuse for what a happened.

Yet in order to understand everything, you must first understand a thing or two about thongs. You must know, for example, that I have two types of underwear: I have my everyday thongs and my performance thongs. Even if you’ve got a trained eye, you’d be hard pressed to tell much difference between the two types of underwear in my drawer. My everyday thongs hang a little lower and have stronger stitching. Performance thongs are delicate things, meant to fly with precision. They’re the Cruise missiles of thongs: they can take out a target to a degree of accuracy measured by the inch.

Now, among the many types of everyday underwear I own, I also possess a few pairs of what I call my ‘security thongs’. Think of a money belt but in the form of a posing pouch and you’ll have the idea. They have a pocket sewn into the crotch, allowing me to keep my valuables next to my valuables. I rarely wear them but, with Gabby up in Birmingham, I had been feeling a little anxious about getting locked out of the apartment. That’s why I’d been wearing my security thongs all week with the spare front door key tucked into the gusset.

Now bear all this mind when I tell you about Friday night.

I had decided to make an early return to the Green Dragon Tavern. My back was feeling stronger so that by Wednesday, I’d even been dancing around my apartment, throwing off my clothes every time I heard a tune with a 4/4 beat. When Friday night came around, I bounced up onto stage at nine o’clock sharp and began to do an effortless routine. Rarely has my dancing been greeted with so many gasps and whistles. It took me twenty minutes to go from business suit to birthday suit. The only problem I’d had was earlier in the day when I’d forgot to pack a pair of performance thongs in my bag. When it came time to dance, I’d been forced to do my act wearing my everyday underwear. It’s not the first time and I doubt if it will be the last.

At the finale of my ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’ routine, I turned to the crowd and shouted ‘get ready!’ The room was immediately filled with female voices shouting ‘fire!’ and in one effortless motion, I dropped my thong, caught it on my foot, and launched it out into the darkness where it grabbed by a pair of welcoming hands. Before you could hear the gasp of astonishment from the crowd, I was off the stage, back in my dressing room and relaxing with a fruit juice and Kit Kat.

Unfortunately the thong had cleared the building by the time I remembered about the spare front door key still stuck in its hidden pocket.

That’s why I made my appeal on Saturday afternoon. And that was my fateful mistake.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, I was awoken by the front door opening. I groggily assumed that it was Gabby, home early after worrying herself silly about the hens I’d cruelly disturbed when I selfishly protected my heterosexual credentials by rejecting the offer of doped tomato soup from the poultry salesman who come onto me in a potting shed in the middle of the night.

I staggered from bed and opened the bedroom door, noticing through bleary sleep-soaked eyes that the clock said two thirty and that Amy Winehouse was standing in the hall.

Of course it wasn’t Amy Winehouse. It was the woman who looked very much like Amy Winehouse I’d met in the coffee shop a fortnight ago. Back then, she’d confessed to having a crush on Lembit Opik and seeing some resemblance, promised that she would be setting her sights on me. At the time, I’d run off, hoping to never see her again.

‘Hello lover!’ she said, and before I knew it, ran up to me and threw her arms around my neck. A metal tongue stud cracked into my teeth and something wet and wilful begin to thrash around my gums like a freshly landed trout.

‘Oh, Chip! I’ve missed you!’ she gasped as I applied leverage to her arms and slipped beyond her grasp. I couldn’t say a word. Tiredness clung to my body as I stumbled my way to the living room.

‘What are you doing here?’ I finally managed to ask, my mind still clogged with dreams trying hard to merge intimately with this nightmare.

‘Call me lover!’ she said and held up a hand. The spare key to the front door glinted in the darkness. ‘Don’t tell me you forgot about me! Oh, I only found the key this morning after you mentioned it on your blog. I’ve waited all day to surprise you. You are surprised aren’t you, Chippy, my love?’


‘Would you mind terribly if I asked you to leave?’

‘But I’m here for a night of lust!’ she cried and threw herself down on the sofa. ‘You promised me!’

I began to cry but they were the tears of a long yawn. ‘Well, that’s really quite wonderful but I really need sleep,’ I explained, thinking it better to avoid the issue of her sanity. ‘Lust is totally out of the question, I’m afraid.’ I nearly added ‘I only do it with the sane’ but I thought better of it and, besides, didn’t know if it was true.

‘You don’t like me?’

‘I’d like you if you left,’ I said, trying to smile.

My guest went pale but it could have just been the blood rushing to her hands which bunched into fists. ‘Leave?’ she howled. ‘Why would you want me to leave, lover? I’m here for you. All these years and we can finally consummate our love tonight.’

‘But I don’t even know you name,’ I said, turning on the lamp standing in the corner of the room. It pained my eyes buy cleared my brain. The weirdness of the dream levelled out to the normality of my reality.

‘Call me Esther,’ she said and peeled off her top. Lembit Opik gazed at me from the back of the snake tattoo that trailed across her shoulder and up her neck.

‘Well Esther,’ I said, thinking quickly, ‘if you’re so determined, who could say no? Perhaps we could have a drink before we get started. Loosen us up a bit?’

She followed me into the kitchen where I was searching out a bottle from the refrigerator. ‘Do you like wine?’ I asked, grabbing one of the narrow necked bottles we keep hidden behind the veg.

‘Oh, I love wine, lover!’ she said, wrapping her arms around my waist as I struggled with the cork to the bottle.

Five minutes later, she was back on the sofa and had already downed three glasses of the clear stuff with barely a drop touching her taste buds. I’d put on some music, if only to waste a few extra minutes, and the whole place was looking quite romantic.

‘What exactly is this stuff?’ she asked, finishing a fourth glass with a smack of her lips. Before I answered, I poured her another which was soon gone.

‘It’s potato gin,’ I explained as she finished.

‘Very good,’ she said.

‘It’s strong enough to take off your tattoos,’ I replied. ‘My girlfriend brews it.’

‘Your girlfriend?’ She laughed. ‘You have a girlfriend?’

‘She’s Romanian. Prone to terrible violence when crossed. You’re lucky she’s in Birmingham.’

‘Otherwise you wouldn’t be getting me drunk?’ asked Esther.

‘Oh, you’re beyond drunk,’ I assured her and stood up. ‘Are you coming to the bedroom?’ I asked. This was the moment when I would see if my gamble would pay off.

He eyes flared and she rocked in her seat. Then she just sat staring at her legs.

‘Why won’t they move!’ she moaned.

I said a silent prayer to Romanian moonshine.

‘You’ll be like that until the morning,’ I said, throwing her a cushion. ‘Just lie back and try to sleep. I’ll ring the police in the morning and we can sort this whole mess out then.’

‘You bastard!’ she screamed. Her eyes crossed and then closed. ‘You absolute…’

‘And God bless potato gin,’ I said to the shape, now unconscious on the sofa before I turned and walked merrily back to the bedroom.

In the morning, I made good my promise and rang the police who took a good hour to arrive but less than five minutes to take my guest away. They seemed to know her quite well and told me that they’ve arrested her countless times for causing a public nuisance by stalking celebrities in Bangor to appear in pantomime. I explained about the key, about her quite understandable fixation on Lembit Opik, and why she’d decided to sneak into my apartment. I also explained about the potato gin and how she would regain use of her legs in another twelve hours.

Gabby got back on Monday and I told her the whole story. She laughed about the whole thing over a glass of her moonshine. I even took a sip or two myself until my lips began to go numb. I really can’t remember much that happened after that, but as I always say: forgetfulness can sometimes be a virtue. I have the vaguest recollection that it involved Gabby singing her latest single.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Chipster’s Film Review: 'Pom Poko'


Gabby got back from Birmingham last night so we settled down the for the night and watched a DVD I’ve had sitting under my TV for months. It made for the most surreal night of film viewing I’ve experienced in a long time. It also made me realise what a odd world we live in. An odd and sometimes woefully thongless world.

The film was called ‘Pom Poko’ and, as you might imagine from its title, it doesn’t come from any Hollywood studio. It’s actually a Japanese animated feature by Studio Ghibli, whose films I’ve been collecting for a number of years.

I’m quite the fan of Hayao Miyazaki or Mister Miyazaki as I insist he’s called in this house. Miyazaki was the mind behind ‘Spirited Away’, the film that won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars in 2003. Many claim that ‘Spirited Away’ is his greatest film, though it’s really only the work that brought him worldwide acclaim. His most recent feature is 'Howl's Moving Castle', but if, like me, you’ve had an interest in Japanese cinema stretched back before that time, then you’re likely to have great affection for his earlier films. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ is just about perfect. It’s a small film, with the briefest of stories, but has an simple emotional depth that’s hard to convey. Also recommended are those films where Mister Mizazaki’s love of exotic flying machines come to the fore; with ‘Porco Rosso’ and ‘Castle in the Sky’ two of my favourites. And if you want a film perfect for the children, there’s ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’, the everyday story of a child witch.

At some thematic level, all these films share Mister Miyazaki’s obsession with nature. It’s also to be found at the heart of his two most environmentally aware films: ‘NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Winds’ and ‘Princess Mononoke’. It was also at the centre of last night’s film.

‘Pom Poko’ isn’t actually a Hayao Miyazaki film. It’s directed and written by Isao Takahata, who made the monumentally depressing film, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, set in World War 2 Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear strikes. ‘Pom Poko’ is based on an idea by Miyazaki and is another film that sets nature against man.

It tells the story of a super cute troop of raccoons whose habitat is being destroyed by developers building an extension to Tokyo. The raccoons have a magical ability that allows them to shape shift and become any person or object they wish to be. It's a power they find useful when it comes to disrupting the building work, which makes this the perfect Miyazaki fare, with nature fighting back against human industry.

I imported most of my Ghibli DVDs from Japan, which means they lose the Hollywood soundtrack, though this is never a problem. I only watch them in Japanese with an English subtitles anyway. One of the few I’ve not imported was ‘Pom Poko’, which is perhaps a reason it’s taken me so long to get around to watching it. Another reason is the film’s cuteness, which always reminds me of The Care Bears Movie. How much more wrong could I be…


Only, five minutes into the film, Gabby turned to me and asked rather quizzically: ‘Chippy, is it me, or do all these raccoons have bollocks?’

You have to forgive her the odd vulgar phrase but I can’t deny how perceptive she is. I hadn’t noticed but it was true: every one of the male raccoons was blessed with, how shall I say, a couple of generously sized love orbs. This picture really doesn't do them any justice and after half an hour of watching, I began to think the film really needed an emergency supply of thongs. Only much later, after the film had finished, did I discover all about Tanuki folklore and its unusual emphasis on testicles.


It might have more useful to know a bit about this before I sat through two hours of film with my jaw sitting in my lap. It might have been helpful to understand what was happening when a group of raccoons sat down on a large rug before the grand master teaching them the ancient are of turning their bodies into other objects. He asked them, ‘what do you think you’re sitting on?’ To which he quickly and impressively answered: ‘my testicles!’ He had, you see, shape-shifted his testicles into a large square rug. Now, I've watched my fair share of films involving shape-shifting, including X Men and Star Trek, but I've never seen testicles turned into Axminster before. It makes 'Pom Poko', in my opinion, much more impressive.

Indeed, testicles played a very large part in the next two hours as the raccoons went to war with the developers. Waves of raccoons surged forward, swinging their magically swollen testicles around their heads like maces. Then they were flying through the sky, using their testicles as parachutes, before dropping onto the developers, their hugely grotesque undercarriage now the size of boulders. It really was the oddest children’s film I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and I can’t recommend it more highly.


A final word about how you choose to watch this film. I'd go for the Japanese audio track and the English subtitles. At the end, I rewound in order to listen to how the dour American narrator described the action. To be honest, it was quite a disappointment. The translation lost all the colour of the Japanese, with one line changed from:

Master Tazaburo Hage, last surviving witness of the battle of Yashima, was 999 years old. But now he had seen enough, and we decided to big the world farewell. With a song of triumph, the raccoons stretched his vast testicles into a fabulous treasure ship with fittings of lacquer and gold.

Had become

Master Tazaburo Hage, the last surviving witness of the age of the samurai, was 999 years old. Over the years he had earned many honours and seen many fascinating sights. But now he had seen enough and decided to bid the world farewell. With a song of triumph, the raccoons stretched Master Hage’s pouch to the limit and into a fabulous treasure ship.


I’m searched everywhere but I can’t confirm that raccoons even have pouches. I'd really like to know, because if you ask this old gyrator, it's a bit of a liberty that ruins an otherwise enormously fun film for all the family. I’d recommend you go out and rent or buy this film immediately. There are far too few films in which raccoons get to play conkers with their magical love sacks.