T shirts

Redbubble 1

Having been literally* inundated with requests for J.O.D T shirts which I either cannot be arsed or have point-blank refused to make (mother, I am NOT making you a t shirt with Adam Buxton’s willy on it), I’ve decided to outsource the legwork (and almost all the dollar) to a charming little website called Redbubble. They’ll buy all the raw materials, do all the printing, handle the postage and packing, and only take almost all the profits by way of recompense! Kapow.

Redbubble 2

What’s more – dauntless, profligate fools that they are – they’re prepared to take on my seemingly unassailable customer care promise of ‘delivery within 30 years or go fuck yourself.’ Bold business model if you ask me. Please ask me. Someone ask me SOMETHING.

Anyway, as with everything I do, I’ve put some serious market research into this. By which I mean I’ve immediately embarked upon the path of very least resistance and fist-flailingly refused to acknowledge any ‘facts’ threaten to block it. I’m suddenly reminded of a GCSE history essay in which I dealt with an untimely mental block by stubbornly declaring that, contrary to popular belief, the UK’s representative at the 1945 Potsdam Conference was not Clement Attlee but former Holland manager Dick Advocaat (born two years later). Who knew.

Redbubble 3

Still, I reckon I’m now fully across what ‘the market’ wants this season. But the market is an idiot.

‘The market,’ for instance, may seek to impress upon you that the time to sell a T shirt with Sir Alex Ferguson’s face on it would have been either in May 2013 (when he retired from football) or in October 2013 (when he published his autobiography) and not in December 2013 when he’s probably not going to do anything.

‘The market’ may also try to persuade you that, no matter what time of which year it might be, nobody ever wants a T shirt with Gordon Brown’s face on it. Ever.

Redbubble 4

Well UP YOURS, MARKET!

I MADE THEM ANYWAY!

*I use the word’ literally’ here in the same way that Jamie Redknapp uses it when he confidently declaims in his youth, Michael Owen was literally a greyhound.”

Willies (and Adam Buxton)

Buxton Background

I was wandering through my blog the other day, brushing off the cobwebs and tenderly restoring some of the more desiccated exhibits when a thought struck me. Struck me smartly across the face with a meaty, sovereign-clad wad of knuckles. My thoughts all wear bargain basement bling.

That thought was this thought: my blog doesn’t have nearly enough willies in it.

Like all great men (Edmund Blackadder*, the fat kid in Superbad,….Ghandi), I spent most of my scholastic career drawing willies on things.

In year 7, the schlongs I drew in my hapless chum (now housemate and lover) Al’s ‘general work book’ contributed in no small part (ha) to him getting suspended from school the following week. This was but one of many similar incidents which, some years later, prompted a particularly cold-blooded teacher to remark that, while I could be “tossed into a pile of manure and come up smelling of lavender,” young Al did not have the same luxury.

Year 8 and a singularly ill-conceived art lesson in which we were set to work on self-portraits. Naturally, as soon as hapless chum #2 Ando left the room to answer a call of nature, I seized my moment and scrawled a “tuberous cock and balls**” smack bang in the middle of his forehead. Well not his forehead….mind you, that’s a thought…. Got detention. Totally worth it.

Fast forward to year 11. I don’t know what the recommended way to spend the hour before an GCSE exam is but on this occasion, I spent it in McDonalds drawing willies on every page of hapless chum #3 Tim’s revision guide. To my mind, if you actually invest money in a Food Technology revision guide, you deserve to have it frescoed with phallus. I think the cosmos may disagree though because – resulting from what I can only assume was some sort of karmic cock-slapping – I got an E in that exam. Mercifully, I’d already done a really awesome piece of coursework about Battenberg cake which pulled the grade up.

At university, hapless chum #4 Spandex left his philosophy notes in my room. Said notes were returned with a beautiful watercolour rendering of me – not to put too fine a point on it – buggering him. Lots of willies there (well, one each).

And as recently as 2 weeks ago, a charming, button-nosed young lady named Hannah sent me a holiday snap which featured my name lovingly embossed in the Balinese sand. You can probably hazard a guess as to what was (equally lovingly) featured in my reply.

Anyway, not to put too bell-shaped a point on it, mine is a rich heritage of willy etchings and it is one which I now realise it has been remiss of me not to have shared with you earlier.

Today, the willy in question belongs to Adam Buxton who is a very funny bloke. Check out his series of Country Man vignettes as soon as you possibly can.

*“…if only I’d paid attention in nursery art class instead of spending my entire time manufacturing papier-mâché willies to frighten Sarah Wallace.”

**hats off to Philip Larkin for that sparkling turn of phrase.

Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie 2 backgroundLook what a sexy dishcloth Hugh Laurie has become. That bristling, tufted thatch, aloof to the emasculating strictures of shaping mousse*. That care-lined garage door of a forehead unfurling a jutting brow from beneath the furrowed awnings of which two bulging, blue eyes, at once prone and puckish, squint out at an inscrutably glib and Instagrammy world as if to say: “stop it you appalling cretin, you don’t need to take a photograph of that, that’s just food.” The sweeping, sinuous slopes of that languid upper lip – slopes now clad in bulletproof iron-grey gorse. Also there’s a chin and some other stuff and sometimes a stick.

*Though devastatingly, the House directors did apparently apply a substance Laurie calls “head pepper” to conceal a creeping bald spot.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry Background TTT

I don’t really have anything to say about Stephen Fry right now, I just felt like drawing his wonderfully wonky face.

Now that I’ve done that though – and as always entirely for my own amusement – I’d like to share with you what I’m sure he’d agree is his most seminal and enduring contribution to the zeitgeist. It is a sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie in which the eponymous heroes play a pair of tweedy sports commentators who bring each other to orgasm by … basically just saying things about England.

Of course transcribing the script would be an invidious and artless exercise which can only succeed in rendering the sketch sterile and prosaic, stripping it of all the charm conveyed by Fry’s plums and custard tone, Laurie’s frantic bug-eyed blithery, their comic timing and effortless on-screen chemistry.

So here it is:

Stephen Fry: A glorious July afternoon, what a splendid sight it is.
Hugh Laurie: It’s an absolute picture isn’t it? The sun beating down now.
SF: Wonderful day.
HL: The crowds… not a seat to be had anywhere
SF: Packed house.
HL: Absolutely packed. And the grass looking so lovely.
SF: Green as anything.
HL: Green as you like, absolutely as green as can be, yes.
SF: Grass has never looked greener.
HL: What a scene, what a scene.
SF: Maaaarvellous scene.
HL: Oh, I say look, there’s a bus!
SF: Oh yes look, there’s a beautiful old English – what is that, is that the number 29?
HL: It’s the 29 bus, yes.
SF: Beautiful English 29 bus, yes what a marvellous scene – grass, sun, bus, marvellous.
HL: Yes, yes, that bus making it’s way now along the Garboldisham Road.
SF: Garboldisham, beautiful village, lovely.
HL: Oh an absolutely delightful village, yes.
SF: GarBOLDisham, what a lovely name.
HL: Oh, lovely name. Lovely, English name.
SF: Hullo! Hullo, there’s some people getting off the bus!
HL: Oh look out!
SF: They’re off to enjoy good old English strawberries and cream.
HL: Oh, English, yes, yes. Watch out for those German strawberries!
SF: Yes, not the same.
HL: No, not the same thing at all. English strawberries and cream, 29 bus going down the Garboldisham Road.
SF: Graaaass…
HL: Cream…
SF: Garboldisham…
HL: Crowds…
SF: The South Downs…
HL: Ovaltine…
SF: Creeeeaam…
HL: Heaps of … cream; cream and lawnmowers…
SF: Ohh, summer holidays in creamy Cromer…
HL: Vaulting over a stile in a country lane…
SF: Catching sticklebacks in an old tin can..
HL: Honestly, nanny, I never touched them!
SF: Piano lessons! With Mrs Duckworth!
HL: Father’s hands on the steering wheel…
SF: Sit up straight!
HL: Oh going faster and faster!
SF: Locked in the Cupboard!
HL: Oh, for being rude to Mrs Howlett!
SF: Take the Wolseley for a run!
HL: Oh England! Elgar!
SF: South Downs!
HL: Bath Olivers!
SF: Oh, play the game!
HL: Elbows off the table!
SF: Who’s a brave soldier then?
HL: Oh, nanny’s hands all steamy and starched…
SF: England and cream…
HL: Creamy old England!
SF: Custard cream!
HL: STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM!
SF: STRAWBERRIES!
HL: ENGLISH CREAM!
SF: CREAMY ENGLAND!
HL: ENGLAAAAANNND!!!
SF: CREEEEEAAAM!!!
HL: THE ROAST CREAM OF OLD ENGLAAAAND!!!
*Moans of orgasmic euphoria*
SF: … and Eric Bristow steps onto the oche now….

Fin.

The day the commentary stopped

Commentators censored

I found this in an old notebook the other day, apparently written after playing football some 7 years ago.

Automatically ingrained among the formative aspirations of every standard-issue English boy (until it is rotted away by reality’s relentless onslaught on the maturing mind) is the desire to one day become a professional footballer.

When I say “standard-issue”, I am, of course, excusing those rather fey, bookish types for whom the consolation of group showers doesn’t quite justify getting dirty enough to occasion them. Also those wheezy, fat and flat-footed whelps from whose notice not even the wildest of youthful imaginations can obscure their various physical shortcomings. Don’t feel sorry for these guys; they’re the lucky ones. Just one look in the mirror will tell them to apply their talents elsewhere before they squander innumerable winter weekends on some god-forsaken piece of mud getting yelled at by dads with linesman flags. The rest of us have to learn the hard way.

In any case, for those of us not sidelined at the outset by nature’s twisted designs, football stardom is the only career guidance we need or will heed. Only once the dream has been summarily dashed do we shuffle off to spend the rest of our unfulfilled lives lying to ourselves that whatever we end up doing was what we really wanted.

My unrequited love affair with the beautiful game began with the exploits of Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona. Most weekends in the early 90s I could be found glued to the television in febrile anticipation of flamboyant goal celebrations which would be slavishly re-enacted in the school yard that week. The playground was teeming with us – budding egotists each completely oblivious to anyone else on the pitch, each with the obligatory internal monologue of running commentary playing in our solipsistic little brains. I remember on one or two occasions actually being so cringe-makingly self-absorbed as to commentate out loud while in possession. While in the throes of this reverie, the other players were purely incidental; mobile slabs of ballast to bamboozle, like the faceless mobs of cannon-fodder who obligingly dive in front of bullets to make Arnie and Sly look more heroic. All just props in a meticulously choreographed celebration of you as the star. [It just occurred to me that this is probably what Cristiano Ronaldo thinks life is. The first time he watched The Truman Show he was probably like “what, you mean we don’t live in a CR7-centric universe? That Galileo chump was onto something.”]

Aaaaaanyway, as the years stack up and the magic begins to ebb, the commentary becomes more selective and increasingly laden with charitable euphemisms but it still carries on. Even for middle-aged men, dignity discreetly tucked away in the boot bag, lolloping about on some beleaguered astro-turf pitch, the pundits continue to croon their dutiful chorus of praise.

Well the other night, my commentary stopped. All of a sudden and without warning, the team hung up their microphones.

I’ve never exactly been a prodigy but this was the first time I stepped out onto the pitch and was so shit that no amount of cosmetic propaganda could disguise it. Gone were the relative deftness of touch and subtlety of movement which had attended my game in days passed. The acceleration, the speed, the strength were still there – after all I am still only 22 – but the ball was not. I played the entire game half a second in arrears, hacking hapless midfielders and positively flattening a succession of goal-bound strikers. I would still retain the optimism to run at players, only recalling when I got there that I was now painfully shorn of the trickery which had once given me licence to do so in the first place. It was like I was in possession of another body – one with the hip dexterity of an arthritic rhino and the turning circle of the Q.E .II.

My only recourse (having recently beefed up to play rugby) was just to foul people so needless to say the opposition weren’t exactly queueing up to buy me drinks in the pub afterwards. A sobering experience (in more ways than one) and another dream squelched. Adulthood smothers me.

Wowser.

In case you’re wondering, I still haven’t adjusted to manhood very well But I don’t play football any more.

Also posted on the Huffington Post.