Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 118

Hey Hey Hey Kids

Apologies fer the dreadful lateness of this weeks diary. Been trying to multitask, what was I thinking of, I just dont have the correct chromosomal make up (i.e. I'm a boy)

Hope ye enjoy

tara the noo


Ham Shanks secret Diary w/e 25th Feb 2007

I stood in front of a drab squat whitewashed building and examined the crumpled piece of paper in my hand, no doubt about it, the address was definitely correct ‘this must be the place dear’ I mumbled whilst thrusting the paper back into my pocket ‘of course it is dear, after you darling’ replied Mrs S. She didn’t look impressed. To be fair this was the fourth time I’d used the self same phrase that morning. Shrugging sheepishly I gripped the handle and stepped inside ‘Ding-a-ling’, ‘Ding-a-ling-a-ling

The interior was surprisingly bright and welcoming ‘Ding-a-ling’ Within a second of setting foot inside ‘Mr Benn’ popped up from behind a display of baskets ‘Can I help you sir?’, ‘yes we’ve come to see the cats?, ‘Ding-a-ling-a-ling’, ‘certainly sir if you just go through the arched window’ my gaze followed his pointing finger ‘eeer thank you very much’, ‘Ding-a-ling’, ‘you’re welcome sir, anything else I can help you with sir?’, ‘well you could stop saying ding-a-ling anytime you like?’ but he was already rowing his invisible boat across the floor so we hastily made for the proffered door.

Stepping through we emerged into the ‘cattery’; a long white corridor stretching away in either direction, numerous meshed doors could be seen on each side of the passageway. Several cheery looking middle aged women were bustling about, marigold clad and clutching a variety of household implements. They chattered away happily amid a cacophony of meows and purrs as an excited young girl helped them feed and water the feline residents. A happy scene but one that did smell distressingly of ammonia and fish by-products.

One of the matriarchs approached ‘Can I help you sir?’, ‘Yes I would like to adopt a couple of cats’ I replied as my nose shut down for the sake of self preservation ‘any preferences?’ I looked at her through watering eyes ‘Uuum Pussy cats?’ I replied hesitantly. She gave me the reassuring smile of one used to dealing with cretins ‘no I meant would you prefer male or female cats?’, ‘oh right, sorry sorry’ I mumbled whilst fishing out a handkerchief to tie over my face, when I’d finished fashioning my SARS mask the lady was still staring at me ‘well?’, ‘yes I’m fine thanks’, ‘No’ she replied curtly ‘are you looking for a boy or a girl?’ my brow wrinkled ‘I’m here for a cat?’ she rolled her eyes and stormed off with the slop bucket, cursing the idiocy of men.

We’ll just have a look around ourselves shall we dear?’ whispered Josie patting me on the shoulder and steering me down the far end of the corridor. Each of the mesh covered doors opened into a small six by four room with one or two cats inside, usually curled up on fleecy cat beds. It turned out that the clipboards contained basic information on the room occupant and notes of their ‘behaviour’ since being admitted to the shelter. The first one provided interesting reading.

‘Misty’, ‘female tortoiseshell, aged 3yrs, shy and quiet’ peering inside the cell there was no sign of the elusive Misty. ‘Where the hell is she? Scotch Misty would be more appropriate’ I quipped as my better half shook her head and pointed behind the bed. A pair of scruffy ears were just poking above the back of the bed, as we waited in hushed silence two iridescent grey eyes slowly appeared over the horizon and the timid owner gingerly peeked out from her hiding place ‘Yes I think that qualifies as shy’ I muttered whilst scanning the rest of the notes on the clipboard ‘Please note Misty only eats cooked chicken and fresh tuna …’, ‘fresh tuna!!’ I exclaimed noisily.

A sea of concerned faces turned to look at me. Quickly Jos elbowed me in the ribs and replaced the clipboard on the door ‘lets look at some of the other nice kitties’ she muttered through gritted teeth whilst gesturing with her eyes.

‘Oh right yes’ I muttered, swiftly putting on my smiley face and mugging happily at the anxious women. This seemed to do the trick and as the ladies settled back to their work we moved on to the next cubicle ‘Mindy and Molly, 3yr old female and 1yr old daughter’ I was about to glance inside when I felt something brush against my leg. Looking down I saw the most enormous tom cat in the world. Not fat you understand, just fecking big. Think the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the cat world.

It was a black moggie with white fur on its paws that made it look like it was wearing snow boots and a cute contrasting white patch round its nose. Purring nosily it started excitedly ‘biffing’ my jeans with its cheeks and wrapping it’s thick tail around my leg. A friendlier cat you could not meet ‘Aaaw look at the nice puttyca-ooowyaahbaaas!!’ Foolishly I’d lowered my hand to give the friendly feline a wee scratch behind the ears. It rewarded my welcoming gesture by lacerating three of my fingers ‘you fu-oomppff’ I’d pulled back my right leg, ready to launch the kitty into orbit, when I received another sharp nudge in the ribs and an urgent ‘Haaaaaam!

Sensing the icy glares from the far end of the room I reached back with my hand and pulled my foot up towards my buttock ‘just stretching the old quads’ I mumbled ‘had a long run this morning’ I continued, switching to stretch the other leg as well ‘what’s his name then?’ I enquired; pointing at the evil ball of fur that had just slashed my hand to ribbons ‘he’s a feisty lad isn’t he, ha ha ha…..’

Unfortunately in my efforts to keep up the charade of stretching my muscles I’d gone into auto pilot and leant forward to stretch my hammys, therby bringing my face in close proximity to the cats. A clear invitation for the satanic beast to launch another attack. Perhaps it was my ginger goatee that provoked the animal, whatever the reason it was now latched firmly on my face ‘Arrrghhh gerrit off gerrit off, killthefuuuucker’ I screamed as it sank it’s claws deeper into my soft flesh.

‘Forfucksakegerritooooff’ I shrieked hysterically, salty tears now mixing with the free flowing blood which already drenched my face. Fumbling blindly my fingers eventually grasped on to something solid. It was one of the metal clipboards and without hesitation or remorse I smacked the enraged feline. One swift blow was all that was required and it dropped to the floor suitably stunned. It wasn’t the only one, the ladies from the shelter were all staring open mouthed as I leant forward with my hands on my knees and sucked in huge lungfuls of air. Blood sweat and tears all dripping on top of the prone moggie.

‘I’ll have to think about it’ I slurred as my girlfreind sensibly ushered me towards the exit ‘I’m not sure if it’s really what I’m looking for’ I mumbled over my shoulder as they rushed past me to aid the dazed pussycat ‘I’ll give you a call yeah?’

Have you thought about a hamster?’ enquired Josie as we got back to the car


Sunday, February 18, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 117

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 18th Feb 2007

You will have gathered from my last couple of diaries that I’ve not been very well of late. My manflu progressed into a genuine illness; a chest infection. But fear not, the National Health Service provided me with some fast acting modern antibiotics. Unfortunately these did little to resolve my chest infection; they did however loosen my bowels in a disturbingly rapid and noisy fashion. This would have been lovely had I been constipated, but I wasn’t. After a week of hacking up my lungs and pebble dashing the cludge I decided it would be prudent to visit the Doctor again.

Ok Mr Shanks if you’d just like to lift up your shirt’ I obliged, wincing as the chilly metal stethoscope touched my skin ‘deep breath in ….. and out’ my head was starting to spin as I took several wheezy lungfuls of air ‘in …. and out’, ‘feeling a wee bit light headed now Doc’ I pleaded as he continued to scan my back and chest ‘and in …. and out’ the crackly noise from my lungs was audible without the use of a stethoscope so I wasn’t quite sure why he was making me hyperventilate to the point of collapse ‘Ok Mr Shanks you can sit down now’ I stumbled gratefully into a seat ‘well you’ve definitely got an infection

Had I been able to muster the power of speech I would have replied ‘Duh!’ but as it was I settled for clutching grimly on to the edge of his desk while I waited for the room to stop spinning ‘These new antibiotics should sort you out Mr Shanks’ he handed me another prescription, ‘but as a precaution we better get a sample’, ‘a sample?’, ‘yes’, ‘of what?’, ‘sputum’, ‘spu-what?’, ‘some of that gunge in your lungs Mr Shanks, cough and spit into this and then either return it to the front desk, or you can drop it off at the hospital lab, whatever is easier for yourself’ he labelled up a clear plastic phial and handed it to me ‘and make sure you provide the sample before you start taking the new antibiotics

Ten minutes later I was parked in the car park of the hospital laboratory staring at the small plastic container in my hands ‘c’mon Ham, get it over and done with and then you’ll feel better’ My problem was that the natural reaction after a cough is to swallow not spit (are you listening ladies) so every time I hacked up a ‘sample’ I kept swallowing it ‘och for fuuuucksaaaake’ I muttered after devouring yet another excellent specimen ‘ok Ham cough and spit, cough and spit, concentrate man!’ the tickling sensation started building up in my chest and I could feel a good cough shaping up ‘cough..hhh..hhhc.cough..hoooaargchhspiiiit!’ …….

‘Well that could have gone better’ I mumbled whilst gingerly wiping the dashboard clean. The small plastic container having remained completely spotless throughout my expectoration ‘Second time lucky Ham’ …….

Twenty minutes later I knocked on the door of the laboratory, it was answered by a prim middle aged woman in a white lab coat ‘Can I help you sir?’, ‘yes I’ve got a specimen to drop off for analysis’ she looked blankly at my empty hands ‘what specimen?’, ‘over there’ I replied, gesturing over my shoulder and dropping my car keys into her unresisting hand ‘just take a swab anywhere from the windscreen or dashboard and you’ll be fine’, ‘it’s the burgundy coloured Peugeot 106’ I continued as she stared at me in slack jawed disbelief ‘don’t worry about me, I’ll get a bus home’

Popping into the chemist on my way home I picked up the new prescription plus some lemsip and three boxes of man-size soft andrex tissues (enriched with balsam) whatever the smeg balsam is. My runny nose was positively streaming now and I had learnt the hard way the folly of ‘economy’ tissues. Might as well have blown my nose with a piece of sandpaper, it certainly looked like it had been rubbed down with a black and decker. Distress flares aren’t as red.

Not only did I look like a famous reindeer but I had also lost my sense of smell and taste as a result of contracting the dreaded manflu. This was particularly galling for a fatboy like me who enjoys his food. Even strong pungent aromas like garlic, ginger and curry were totally odourless to me. It’s only when you’ve lost your sense of smell that you appreciate how much it contributes to flavour.

Fed up with eating bland food I made an effort to spice up my dinner by spreading liberal quantities of horseradish and hot English mustard on top of everything. Warily I tucked in, I needn’t have been so cautious, not so much as a hint of heat or flavour ‘Hmm interesting’ rummaging in the fridge I found an old jar of ‘sambal’ This is an Indonesian condiment made from very hot chillies and, eeeer, well that’s it really. I added a thick layer on top of the mustard and sank my teeth in for a second time, still nary a trace of flavour, although my eyes did begin to water somewhat.

‘Hold on’ I thought ‘this could actually be a blessing’, ‘what the feck are you on about Ham?’ I hear you mumble. Think about it, large amounts of vitamin C are alleged to have beneficial effects when you’re suffering a cold as do ‘medicinal amounts’ of garlic. What is an extremely rich source of vitamin C? Onions that’s what! Six times as much vitamin C as an orange, or so they say. If that’s the case then surely a garlic and onion smoothie should be of great benefit?

After much trial and error my recommended recipe for the optimum smoothie would be; a pound of onions, three bulbs of garlic and a litre of grapefruit juice. Mmmmm delicious, or should I say tasteless, what a winner. I was just gulping down my third smoothie when the doorbell rang ‘who can that be?’ I wondered.

I should have guessed, middle of the day, middle of the week ‘Good afternoon sir, have you thought about letting Jesus enter your life?’ I rolled my eyes ‘No thank you’ I replied in an exasperated sigh. As usual he continued on regardless ‘God gave Jesus for y-‘ well he continued up until the wave of garlicky onion hit him full in the face. Eyes watering and face draining to a pale green colour he tried to compose himself. Fair play to him though, his faith must have been strong to soldier on in the face of my vitamin onslaught ‘our saviour chhgnff he died on t.t.hggm’, I leaned forward till out noses nearly touched ‘On the whaaaaat?’ I enquired, making sure to exhale for as long as possible

He leaned back grimacing as his cheeks puffed out like Dizzy Gillespie’s, but without the trumpet. I know it’s cruel but I had to carry on. Taking a fresh swig of my smoothie I leant forward again and breathed ‘Was that on the cross or the crotch you said?’, ‘Oh sweegnnfffmmmt Jeeeeesuooaarrghhh’ he turned and ran. I waved happily after him before shutting the door and grinning ‘I’m going to have to patent this stuff’


Sunday, February 11, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 116

Ham Shanks Secret Diary – w/e 11th Feb 2007

Had an accident in the last three years that wasn’t your fault?’, ‘Need a personal Injury lawyer to fight your corner?’, ‘Struggling with debt? Want a convenient homeowner loan?’, ‘Is shopping for car insurance driving you mad?’, ‘No, No, No and Nooooo it fecking isn’t, but listening to these wretched adverts most certainly is driving me crazy!’

Convalescing at home can be quite difficult, well it can be if you are stupid enough to switch the television on. Now I know what you’re thinking ‘well switch it off then Ham, nobody is making you watch’ and you’d be right, up to a point. I did try listening to the radio but there are just as many adverts on most radio stations. It’s no better if you pick a BBC station, they spend as much time advertising their own shows as the commercial stations do advertising Cillet fecking bang or attempting to convince us of the merits of wings on sanitary towels.

I tried reading a book, but as I was regularly hacking up large claggy lumps of sputum from my respiratory tract the pages tended to stick together in a rather unpleasant manner. Yes I know, you really didn’t want to hear that, but I’m just explaining why I reverted to torturing myself with television.

I know I’ve ranted about adverts before but there has been a definite change in the target demographic for daytime television ads. It used to be young mothers that were pursued, lots of ads for nappies, baby food and the likes. A strong emphasis on the right type of coffee bean required for that ‘richer, smoother taste’ at your next coffee morning. Ironic really, considering flavour is so palpably absent from all instant coffees. Even the sight of some dishy male actor is only going to work for a limited period of time, once the customer has tasted the product they know that it’s piss.

However, times are a changing. Advertisers finally realised that most mothers are far too busy looking after their kids to actually watch telly. They’ve no time to be sitting on the sofa with a cup of rank brown sludge watching crappy TV ads when there are nappies to be changed, vomit to be cleaned up, bottles to be sterilised, clothes to be washed and of course children to be watched. It’s never ending with bairns; clearly the Muppets who thought up the ads overlooked this minor detail.

So now it would appear they are targeting unemployed, accident prone, debt ridden homeowners. Particularly those who require personal injury lawyers and cheap car insurance (as long as they have four years or more no claims bonus) It would seem that being marooned on a desert island is also a prerequisite for certain companies?

Fed up and confused I flicked aimlessly until I happened to stumble on to the ‘Parliament’ channel, yes I know, but I was unwell and running a fever. Mercifully there were no adverts, however my relief was short-lived. Ten minutes of watching our much vaunted democracy in action, and I was ready to cry.

Where was the cut and thrust of debate we had been led to believe sets our democracy apart from cruel regimes like Saddam Hussein’s and George Bush’s? The place was fecking empty! Acres and acres of plush green leather seating and nary a person to be seen. There was one spindly, sad, grey looking individual standing at the despatch box reciting a dreary monologue with all the panache of a tin of pilchards.

The camera panned across the chamber and I took the time to count everyone that was present. This didn’t take long as there were only six members in total. That’s including the Speaker and the member for Dullsville talking at the despatch box. The remainder appeared to be suffering from Narcolepsy. Not bad work if you can get it. I’d love to be paid to snooze all day, I did actually try that once, I painted ‘eyes’ on the inside of my glasses so I could have a sneaky kip at work. Sadly I didn’t get a £56k salary and an expense account, I got a written warning.

I was about the switch off and get started on my ‘Dear MP you are a lazy bastard’ letter when I noticed the seats were suddenly disappearing very fast ‘Oh aye what’s happening here then?’ I mumbled as the chamber filled to bursting point in about sixty seconds flat. Pilchard man still appeared to be nattering away, unaware of the sudden increase in audience. You couldn’t here him though as the whole place was filled with noisy chatter, it sounded like a school playground.

A presenters voice, hushed and reverent, indicated that Prime Ministers Questions were about to start. The Speaker raised his hands in a weary manner ‘Ooordaaaah OOOOrdaaah’ the rabble settled down and Swiss Toni got to his feet ‘ho ho this should be a bit more entertaining’ I chuckled, rubbing my hands together in anticipation. It didn’t start well, the first few questions seemed to be Labour MP’s sucking up to ‘Daddy’ and I was about to flick over when David Cameron got to his feet.

He launched into a tirade about fuel prices or something like that; to be honest I can’t remember exactly what because it all descended into complete farce anyway. Big Toni completely dodged the question, bizarrely responding by having a pop at the leader of the oppositions hairstyle? Citing greasiness and dandruff as the major issues of the day. Druggy Dave wasn’t going to take this lying down and after forcefully pointing out that his dreds were part of his Rastafaria faith he once again pressed Toni to ‘answer the fucking question maaaan’.

Swiss skilfully dodged for a second time, on this occasion citing the good work his government had done in eliminating dandruff since 1997 and how the ‘party opposite’ had an exceptionally poor record on hair care. He invited the honourable gentleman to ‘come and have a go if he thought he was hard enough’ before giving him the finger, bending over and baring his backside. Pandemonium ensued.

Ok so I’m exaggerating, but it might as well have been like that. It certainly seemed like two spotty teenagers having a stand up barney in front of their pals. Ok they were using phrases like ‘right honourable gentleman’ instead of ‘bawbag’ but it was still basically handbags at twenty paces.

I just hope that none of the dictators in these countries where democracy movements are oppressed ever tune in to this keech. They don’t need thumbscrews, just show the aspiring freedom fighter PMQ’s and they will give up anyway! ‘Ok my friend, you waaant democracee, heere eet ees’ sound of betamax video player cranking up, swiftly followed by agonised screams ……

Don’t worry; I’m back to work next week, no more political commentry.

Citizen Shanks

Monday, February 05, 2007


Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 115

Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e 4th Feb 2007

You know the worst thing about being stuck at home with the flu? Other than the thumping headaches, nausea, cold sweats, wobbly legs and raging fever, which lets be honest aren’t much fun. But no, the worst thing is the television! Well not the television itself that would be harsh. The television is simply an innocent bystander, it’s just an electrical device that receives the incoming broadcast and dumbly converts it into the appropriate sound and picture for our enjoyment. Having a pop at the telly would be like shooting the messenger. It’s what’s contained in that incoming signal that does my napper in. The most banal drivel attempting to masquerade as quality programming that’s what dismays me.

Is it not bad enough that I feel like I’ve been locked in a sauna and beaten about the head and body with a large salmon, or another heavy fish of your choosing, pike would do for instance, or tuna if you’re feeling exotic. Anyway that’s not important, what matters is I’m clearly not well and don’t need to be further tortured when I finally manage to muster the strength to watch television. Those matchsticks don’t prop themselves under your eyelids you know! It takes a big effort to push them in, and then reach for that remote control, then press the button. And for what? Celebrity Tudor fecking Wedding…..

Honest to god I thought I was hallucinating. I feared I’d overdosed on night nurse and benylin. Just when I thought the depths of televisual ‘entertainment’ could plunge no further I fell into the abyss that is ‘Celebrity Tudor Wedding’ .. Why? Why? WHY?

Quick synopsis for you lucky ignorant people out there: Three celebrities are given the task of arranging a wedding for some gullible couple that have obviously been totally suckered by the prospect of a TV company splashing the cash for their wedding day. The celebs have to host a ‘Tudor style’ wedding using only 16th century resources. Am I missing something? What does this prove? Other than the fact that television producers have clearly lost the plot or are all having a bet on who can get the biggest pile of excrement aired on national television. Whoever thought up this nuggety log is definitely in pole position.

‘Tudor’ wedding? Ok as far as I recall the Tudor period is best remembered for the return of the black death, always a popular guest at a wedding, a sequence of tyrannical Kings and Queens who changed their religions more often than their underwear. So you start the wedding with a priest and by the end of the service a ‘minister’ is pronouncing you man and wife as the remains of the now obsolete padre swing gently on a gibbet behind the pulpit. Open sewers provided a fragrant backdrop to proceedings, not that you’ll notice because having baths were frowned upon in Tudor times and you now use rat turds as deodorant. Your honeymoon would consist of not being flogged by your master for the day ‘gawrd bless ya kind sir, your too good to me sah’

But assuming for a minute I was deranged enough to want a Tudor wedding; why the feck would I need a celebrity to organise it for me? Hmmm? Would I not be better contacting a professional wedding planner rather than some washed up publicity junky?

Here’s a tip to all aspiring TV producers; Try engaging your cerebrum and having an original idea rather than flogging an existing one to death. Or at least have the balls to deal with these vapid celebrities whose egos require massaging every five minutes. When a z-list celeb next throws their rattles out of their pram and exclaims ‘Do you know who I am’ just reply ‘No? Have you checked your wallet for ID?’ or direct them to the local A&E department with a written note explaining their amnesia.

And don’t change the titles of programs to further shield these sad gits from reality. Celebrity fit club? I think you mean Celebrity fat bastard don’t you? I’m pretty sure few, if any, of the punters down the local weight watchers club can afford a private operation to fit a gastric band round their stomach in lieu of easing up on the pies. So why should Miss Diamond be excused having one? Now if they had fitted the band round her neck I might have watched. Seeing her face go purple and watching her slip slowly into unconsciousness would have been far more entertaining, and as a desiccating corpse she might have actually lost some weight.

I propose we have one final ‘Celebrity’ series. Not only will it hammer the death nail in to these god awful shows but if my idea is a winner it will help out our cash strapped aristocracy as well. These destitute knobs have been crying their eyes out since they were stopped from slaughtering small furry mammals in the name of sport. Some of the poor sods are down to their last five Bentley’s you know and that’s why I think we should have ‘Celebrity Hunting’

All the celebs will be held underground in a network of dark tunnels. Each week a celebrity will be voted out of the ‘Den’ by the public. Once evicted several men in brown coats and bowler hats will forcibly strip them of their current attire before dressing them in a fluffy red fox outfit. As they scream and plead for mercy Davina will throw their skid marked undies into a pen of foaming mouthed hounds to give them the scent.

The quavering celeb will then have to answer three questions which will determine the length of head start they get, five, ten or fifteen minutes. Once this has been determined Davina will start the hunt by blowing a horn and then slapping the unfortunate celebrity on the rump as they scamper off into the distance. If they make it to civilisation before the hounds rip them to shreds they get to live.

Queue Peter O’Sullevan with the commentary ‘And it’s Jade Goody on the outside, she’s galloping down the hill and approaching the first fence, oh my word she’s leapt it in one bound, she’s got quite a jump for a fat burd’ Pan across to the dogs as the heavy metal gate is opened and they all come streaming out ‘and there go the hounds’, ‘thirty five majestic animals, no sorry make that thirty four’ Camera focuses on the days first casualty, the poor mutt who caught Jades smalls square on the muzzle and is now convulsing helplessly on the floor. But there is no time to linger; the red jackets are now off in hot pursuit as Miss Goodies silhouette disappears over the horizon…..

Ok so perhaps I am mixing too many metaphors/medications, or not enough, who knows. But I predicted celebrity show jumping and it happened! You heard it here first just remember that!


Sunday, February 04, 2007


Kiss me Hardy

Hello valued readers

I'd like to apologise for the non-appearance of this weeks diary. I dont want to lie to you, or give you some lame old excuse, so I'll come straight to the point and say, I have Man Flu!

It's like Avian flu, only much worse.

I have been very stoic in my efforts to complete this weeks diatribe, however the raging fever, severe encephalitis and pulmonary oedema that has plagued me all week is simply too much to bear. I'm not sure if I'll make it through the night (cough cough splutter etc) but if I do I will endevour to complete this weeks diary as soon as is humanly possible.

If not, then goodbye cruel world. It's a far better thing I do now than I have ever done before ya de ya ya etc etc

Yes ok so we all know the truth, I have a minor sniffle and I'm a lazy bastard

Dry yer eyes, ye'll get it when ye get it!

Kindest Regards


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