Monday, November 27, 2006


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 107

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 26th November 2006

I want you to brace yourselves, I have devastating news …… are you suitably braced? How would you feel if I told you that all our Christmas celebrations are a complete sham! (Queue sinister music and possibly a drum roll) ….. A small piece of tumbleweed blows gently over Hams’ shoe as most readers yawn and complete a leisurely examination of the underside of their fingernails. You don’t seem particularly phased by this bombshell? ‘Yes Ham that’s because we know that Christmas has been hijacked by big business and it’s all now a shameful attempt by the retail trade to empty our wallets, tell us something new’ I hear you mumble. Ok then, I will.

How far would your jaw drop if I told you why the bedrock of our current Christmas celebrations was a total sham? The reason it’s all a cruel charade is because it was the Christians that actually ripped them off from someone else! Ha ha, now yer interested. Yes it’s all true; forget all the righteous Holy Joes bumping their gums because the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas has been lost in the mire of a materialistic world. Tell them to dry their fecking eyes cos Christmas is a rebranded Pagan festival!

Dum dum dum dum duuuuuum (that was more sinister music by the way – keep up)

YES it’s the shocking truth; Christmas is a rebrand of northern European celebrations that predate Christianity by hundreds of years. All the things I mentioned yesterday, the yuletide log, hanging of boughs of holly and mistletoe. The slaughtering of a pig for Christmas ham were all unashamedly ripped off from the ancient Germans and Scandinavians (amongst others).

Basically the missionaries of the time where having a bit of a job convincing the locals that the one true God was big JC’s dad. They struggled to convey that the worshipping of multiple deities was really ‘bad form’ and likely to result in eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell. The locals however disagreed with this view. Disagreed to the point of filleting said missionaries with big knives and hanging their nadgers on pointy sticks. Unsurprisingly the brave apostles who were spreading the good word reasoned that perhaps a different tactic was required. After all the guarantee of eternal salvation at the right hand of the big man doesn’t seem quite as enticing when your going to have to spend it minus you love spuds as they have just been turned into impromptu Christmas decorations.

You can’t blame them really, cold steel waved round the nether regions is apt to make a man focus sharply on his current life and be slightly less dogmatic about the next ‘who this God you talk of? How he better than mighty Freyr!’ roars a large hairy Norseman as he rest a six foot broadsword on your cod piece ‘Fff.f.f Freyr .. oh no he’s my god too, Christ knows who that other one is, ahaa hah, some Johnny come lightly foreigner I expect’

So to get round a tricky situation they let the locals be and simply ‘rebranded’ the pagan festivals as Christian ones. It’s a genius idea. Mind you when you read about some of the Gods the Norse worshiped you can see why the bible seemed a bit stale to them.

Let’s compare the story of Norse god ‘Freyr’ to that of the bibles prodigal son.

Freyr "bestows peace and pleasure on mortals". He rules over the rain, the shining of the sun and the produce of the fields. That’s a pretty good CV already. Jesus on the other hand was sent to provide salvation and reconciliation with God by atoning for the sins of humanity. He’s already sounding a bit preachy. But let’s not be too quick to judge, lets give them both a fair hearing.

So Freyr is a Vanir, they are the gods of fertility, the sea and prosperity. He is the son of a sea god and the brother of a love goddess. So all the blokes want to be his best mate cos his sister is a total babe, and from his point of view, his sister is bound to have lots of fit pals cos she’s a love goddess and they don’t want to be seen surrounded by mingers.

Not only does he have a foxy sister but his ‘transport’ is a dwarf-made boar called Gullinbursti. I’m not quite sure how the dwarves ‘made’ a hairy pig but it was certainly a top of the range porker. Apparently it glowed in the dark and was able to ‘run through air and water better than any horse’ That’s right he drove a fluorescent flying pig! (look it up if you don’t believe me)

No self respecting sea god could be seen without a ship and Freyr had the daddy of them all. Another dwarf built wonder called Skídbladnir which was big enough to hold the whole of the host of Asgard (basically the realm of the gods) yet small enough to be folded like a cloth and carried in your pocket! (I swear I am not making this up) As if that wasn’t a nifty enough trick, whenever he raised the sails he was guaranteed a fair following wind and this vessel could travel over land and sea!

Add a magic sword (which surprisingly didn’t have a name) and Freyr is pretty well tooled up. He’s ticking a lot of boxes and there is obvious appeal for both genders. The product pretty much speaks for itself.

Jesus on the other hand was a chippy. He walked everywhere and wore sandals.

Okay he could knock you up a book case or a set of shelves and he was a diva with a loaf of bread and a tin of sardines but it’s not quite in the same league for me. Water into wine is a pretty cool trick I’ll grant you but I’m more of a beer man. Another worrying fact was JC’s wife, he didn’t have one. Freyr on the other hand married a giantess called Gerdur, she was all woman, her arms apparently illuminated air and sea (what for purpose I cant be sure) Jesus however only had male friends, so no girls then, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

So I guess it was hardly surprising that Christianity plagiarized some of these exciting pagan traditions and called them their own. It’s a bit like VHS and betamax, everyone knew which one was the superior format but in the end VHS had the better marketing …..


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Ham Shanks Excuses

Hello valued readers (yes you)

Did you know that Charles Babbage invented a mechanical computing machine in 1820? Or that John Mauchley, an American physicist constructed the first successful digital computer? No? What about Grace Hopper? She produced the first computer compiler? Any of this ring a bell with you?

No me either

I have to say I dont find any of that interesting at all. So how in the name of Holy Fuuuuuucking Chriiiist did I end up as a computer programmer? Hmmmm? Anyone? C'mon I need an answer, in fact I demand one!

I must have been veeeeeeeeeery bad in a past life, perhaps I was Hitler?

Anyway after an entire (yes ENTIRE) weekend wrestling with the piece of excrement that is the Common Business Oriented Language I feel I am not in the best disposition to spend another few hours on my laptop.

Apologies for the lack of diary and the vitriolic bile I just spewed forth but I've had a trying couple of days.

I shall endevour to write my diary sometime this week. Although I cant promise anything as I have 'Going Postal' penciled in my diary for tuesday morning

Kindest Regards


Sunday, November 12, 2006


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 106

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 12th November 2006

What must the first man have thought when he created fire? Other than ‘oooyah oow oow oow it burn oooow!’ (Of course he probably didn’t have a word for ‘burn’ as he’d just discovered the concept of combustion) However even after dousing his recently flambéed facial hair he must have been pretty impressed with his discovery. A quantum leap in technology for the time you would have to agree? ‘What’s for dinner tonight dear?’ enquires our hero as he strolls into the cave, his hand held surreptitiously behind his back and a wide grin fixed on his face ‘raw furry mammal with dirty roots again dear’, ‘not tonight my sweet, tonight we have hot furry mammal and braised roots’ he declares whilst presenting his beloved with a flaming stick. We’ll gloss over the lack of adequate ventilation in the cave and their subsequent deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s just natural selection.

Anyway I feel I was similarly impressed when I borrowed my elder brother’s car. The current bucket of rust I was driving needed some running repairs at the local garage and my brother had kindly provided me with a rather modern ‘courtesy car’. It was indeed a quantum leap forward in technology. It talked to me!

Welcome inside the vehicle, please fasten your safety belt’, ‘Ooooh seeeexy voice’ I mumbled whilst complying with the computers request. The car started first time, another novelty for a vehicle of mine ‘please enter your destination’, ‘help ma bob it’s like the Starship Enterprise!’ I exclaimed as the dashboard lit up in front of me. There were buttons everywhere, I felt like a fighter pilot as I punched in my destination. A few seconds later it flashed up the distance I had to travel, an estimated arrival time, and how many litres of fuel I would require ‘Oh fit funcy’ I gasped.

After enjoying the complimentary cappuccino and nutty wafer biscuit which had emerged from the centre consol, I set off. I was in rather good spirits, it’s amazing how relaxing it is driving a vehicle which doesn’t rattle and squeak all the time. There’s no need to hide shamefaced behind the steering wheel as clouds of black smoke spew out when you press the accelerator. No need to wince as James Bond type oil slicks constantly trail behind you from the incontinent sump. It was bliss, sheer bliss.

It was about ten miles in to the journey and I had been enjoying the in flight movie on my heads up display when I sensed a slight vibration coming through the steering wheel ‘that’s strange?’ I thought. It only lasted a few seconds so I put it down to a change in the road surface. A few minutes later it returned but with much more force. The steering wheel was shuddering in my hands and a series of warning lights lit up as the computer barked out ‘There is a problem with the front offside wheel pull over immediately!’ Popcorn sprayed across the dashboard ‘Ho…oly f.u…ck’ and I wrestled the car on to the hard shoulder. An examination of the wheel revealed a missing nut ‘Oh for fu-‘ A swift rummage in the boot did not uncover any spares ‘bloody marvellous’ I was mulling over my options before giving the tyre a few hefty kicks and a good shoogle. It seemed to be well secured and I reasoned that as it wasn’t actually my car it would probably be ok.

The computer did not seem so sure as I restarted the engine and pulled away ‘Warning! Warning! There is a problem with the front wheel’, ’aye I’ve had a look, it’s fine though, nae need tae fash’, ‘WARNING! This vehicle is unsafe’, ‘it’s ok I’m going to drive slowly’, ‘WARNING WARN-‘ I punched the mute button ‘ach dry yer eyes lassy’. Even though the voice was silent, warning messages continued to be displayed on the dashboard in ever increasing font sizes and varying shades of red.

The vibration was getting quite severe now and I was struggling to keep hold of the wheel as it shook in my hands. ‘Bb.b.better ..s.sslow d.d.ddown a.a.a bbb.bit’ I mumbled through my juddering teeth. Easing off to eighty five seemed to alleviate some of the shuddering ‘ iit’s f.f.f.ffine n.n.nno..w’ I lied to myself as the lactic acid started to build up in my arms and shoulders. I was considering pulling over again when there was a loud crunching noise and the front wheel sailed down the road in front of me. Clearly I had been holding it up as it overtook a couple of other vehicles before hurdling the crash barrier and bounding off across some fields.

This net result was a slight reduction in shuddering but a sharp pitch to starboard. There were now a large number of orange sparks flashing past my side window ‘oh that’s pretty’ I thought as the dashboard also lit up like a winning pinball machine and the computer burst back into life! ‘Computer initiated Audio Override - STOP IMMEDIATELY! REPEAT STOP IMMEDIATELY!’ I noticed that the previously sensual voice now had a distinct panicky note to it.

The offside front wheel was the next to disappear; it too vaulted the crash barrier and headed after its mate. At least my vehicle was now level, albeit it had a distinct dragster feel to it. And of course I was still skiting down the motorway at 70mph with no discernible means of control. The computer was now in full blown hysterics, ‘Engaging Escape Protocol’ it sobbed as a police car pulled alongside with blue lights flashing. The officer gestured that I should pull over. I pointed at myself and gave a quizzical look to suggest that perhaps he’d made a mistake and it was a completely different flaming Citroen that he wanted to pull over. He glared and pointed again. Smiling weakly I indicated left, not quite sure how I was going to manage to pull over. Thankfully we were approaching a gentle right hand bend and friction gradually slowed me down. My fiery shuttle headed straight on to the hard shoulder grinding to a halt halfway up the grass embankment.

Before I could flee the two policemen arrived at my vehicle and tapped on the driver’s window ‘Can I help you officers?’ I enquired as I would down the glass. Just then a small hatch opened in the front of the car and a black rocket shot out. All three of us watched in silence as it powered into the air, reaching about 100m before the engine cut out and a small white parachute was deployed. The separated nose cone drifted lazily down into a corn field about a mile away. Both men turned to look at me

‘I can explain …. You see it’s my brother’s car ……’


Sunday, November 05, 2006


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 105

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 5th November

The 5th November, as I’m sure you know, is the anniversary of the ‘Gunpowder plot’. Guido (‘Guy’) Fawkes heinous plan to blow up the houses of parliament during the state opening in 1605 and kill James the 1st of Engerland and lots of aristocrats. Actually if were going to be correct it was Robert Catesby that was the mastermind. Fawkes was just the explosives expert. Given that a) he didn’t actually succeed and b) there were no actual explosions, I am somewhat at a loss to explain why there are a group of hooded wee neds setting off sh*tloads of fireworks in my street tonight. Can someone explain? Hmmm?

Mr Fawkes was caught bang to rights with a swan vesta in his hand! Shouldn’t we all be going around dressed as Sir Thomas Knyvet (the copper who nicked him) collaring people with big hats, dodgy beards and with lit matches in there hands? Surely if we are to celebrate correctly we should shout ‘your f*cking nicked me old china plate’ before carting them off for a bit of a kicking and some miscellaneous torture in a dark dank dungeon. If that’s not enough to satiate your bloodlust we could also hang draw and quarter them as per the conspirator’s fate.

Personally I could hang draw and quarter the wee ba*stards that are running amok through my estate just now. Even if ‘Guido’ had succeeded I’m quietly confident he wouldn’t have sniggered ‘aaaaw man look at that! That’s pure f*cking mental man’ as the houses of parliament were reduced to dust. Mind you he did have loftier ambitions than trying to launch an empty Buckie bottle into the neighbours’ garden using an Astra rocket and smoking a spliff.

Oh by the way did you know that Mr Fawkes deliberately jumped from the Gallows to break his neck and avoid the drawing and quartering? Well he did so there. And once you’ve found out what was actually involved were you were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered you’ll understand. I did a wee search on the t’interweb and it’s more gruesome than you can possibly imagine.

First of all you would be dragged to the site of your hanging on a wooden hurdle, a decent 17th century hardwood one mind, none of your cheap sh*te MDF from Homebase. Having been dragged through the streets you were hung by your neck until you were nearly dead. You could get in a lot of trouble if you were an executioner and you overdid the hanging ‘for pities sake Norman this ones dead! How many times have I told ye? Nearly dead, Nearly you ham-fisted idiot’

So anyway, now you’ve got scraped knees from being dragged across the poorly maintained road surface (The council weren’t any better in those days) splinters from the roughly hewn wood and assuming it’s not Normans shift a nasty rope burn on your neck. At this point it’s safe to say you’d be having a bit of a bad hair day. Then they really get Medieval on your sorry ass.

My initial assumptions were that you were then ‘just’ disembowelled were inaccurate. ‘Dear god Ham is that not bad enough’ I hear you cry. I know, but it’s actually worse. The exact description of their sentence was that ‘their privy-members be cut off and bowels ‘taken out to be burnt before their faces’. ‘WHAAAAAAT!!!! I’m fairly sure we didn’t see Mel Gibsons bell end get dangled afore his face in Braveheart! Did we? Maybe it’s just a wee one and we missed it in amongst all the pieces of his small intestine?

Anyway if he’d known that his crown jewels were going to be lopped off I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t have refused the offer of drugs from the Princess Isabella ‘ah cannay take it ma love I must have ma wits aboot me’ he pleads in a rich Aussie brogue ‘I mustn’t cry out’ he replies stoically as she tries to pour a vial of some opiate derivative into his mouth ‘okay, fair enough sweetheart but you do know they are going to cut yer todger off?’, ‘gies the drugs woman!’ glug glug glug ‘more, more, MOOORE!’glug glug glug.

I don’t think the rallying cry of ‘you can take oor lives but you cannay take oor tooooodgers!’ would have been quite as inspiring. Having said that the original wasnay much better. It seems to me that having your freedom whilst being a corpse isn’t exactly a winning scenario? Lets be honest if your ‘leader’ had just bellowed ‘They can take oor lives but they will never take our FREEEDOOOM!’ and galloped off towards the enemy you’d have a quick glance at your mate, do an about turn, and sidle off home.

If you happened to be spotted by any of the enemy as you exited the battle field you’d just shrug and blag it ‘Battle?’ What Battle?’, ‘Not me squire I’m just out gathering mushrooms in the woods’, ‘This? No this isn’t a sword, it’s a mushroom extractor’, ‘I saw one of them blue faced bastards run that way if yer interested?’ ….

But let’s not dwell on the historical inaccuracies of a multi Oscar winning film. After all it’s a minor detail that Princess Isabella was nine years old and living in France when Willy Wallace was getting his jewels filleted at Smithfield in London. So she couldn’t possibly have offered him some smack to relieve the pain, let alone be the mother of his unborn child. The fact that the next monarch, Edward the III, was also born seven years after Wallace’s death doesn’t suggest an unfeasible length for gestation at all. Of course the entire lineage of the English Monarchy is descended from Wallace….. Aye right. Although if any of that was true it would have meant he was fichering with a nine year old lassy and deserved to have his goolies cut off!

‘Lighten up Ham it’s the movies’ I hear you mumble. And your right, I should chill out and not get worked up about these things. After all I’m sure the Americans really did board fictional submarine U-571 and discover the secret of the enigma naval code. It’s a total slur to suggest that it was actually the British Navy who boarded U-110 in May 1941 six months before the gun toting septics even entered the fuuuuuuucking war!

And relax ……..

Hope yer having a firework-tastic 5th November folks, I’m off to remover the nadgers from a few modern Guy Fawkes before they set fire to my car.


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