Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 122
Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e
‘Hmmm’ I looked at the instructions in my hands and then back down to the numerous pieces of plastic and metal spread out in front of me. Furrowing my brow I tried to match the pictures with the various bits and pieces strewn on the floor. After a couple of minutes of rummaging about I decided I probably had all the required components and surely they must check these things at the factory. ‘Ach everything seems to be here’ I mumbled, picking up a strange looking object; cylindrical in nature with what appeared to be a razor like attachments at each end. It did not match any of the diagrams but common sense said it must be in there for a reason.
Picking up a power drill I stood apprehensively in front of the door. The ‘first cut’ in DIY is always the worst, once you’ve pierced the surface or started to saw there’s no going back. It’s a bit late to wish you hadn’t commenced when you’ve already hacked one leg off the kitchen table. Every time I start a DIY job my brain is nagging at me ‘do you know what you’re doing?’, ’shouldn’t you find a grown up?’ it’s quite disconcerting. Oh and it’s probably best not to mention these voices if anyone asks, never goes down well, particularly when you’re holding a large power tool.
‘Shut it brain’ I growled before steeling myself for the job in hand ‘I’m going in’ Gingerly I placed the nose of the drill against my carefully measured pencil mark and pulled the trigger ‘Gnnnnrrssweeweeeweeemmpffff!wee.ee.ee.srnng’ …..
With the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have leant quite as hard on the drill, or possibly a pilot hole with an awl would have helped. Luckily I had to paint the door when I was finished anyway so a large diagonal score across the paintwork was a minor inconvenience. My broken nose was a tad more distressing ‘fgnnb.a.a.strd’ I cursed whilst inserting another wad of cotton wool up my swollen nostrils. Simple physics really, if you supporting arms suddenly disappear off to the left as you clutch grimly on to a rampaging drill then gravity will present its bill. I paid mine in blood, with a smidgen of cartilage
It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t had an audience ‘What the feck are you looking at’ I grumbled as four green eyes bored into me ‘this is for your benefit’ I shouted, waving a hand at the devastation in front of me. They stared impassively as I continued to rant and rave ‘ah’ve got ma own door ye know!’ nothing but a steady feline stare ‘I’m doing my best’ I mumbled, trailing off into silence.
Some people, and I say ‘people’ when I mean ‘loonies’, say they understand what their cats want by the way they look at them! Oh really? Listen pal, I’ll tell ye what yer cat wants; it wants fed, it wants petted and it wants you to pick it’s keech out of the litter tray. I don’t believe you can tell what they want by the way they look but I have to admit right at that moment in time mine were probably thinking ‘how the fuck did you get to the top of the evolutionary tree you retarded chimp’ Undeterred by their derisory stares I continued with the installation of the cat flap.
‘Okay Ham that’s holes drilled, tick’, ‘template marked, tick’ I turned over my checklist and continued reading ‘cut the aperture following the marked template’, ‘Ooookay let’s get the saw out!’
I have to confess my limited experience with jigsaws, both the 1000 piece and the powered variety. At least I can’t lop a finger off trying to assemble a 1000 piece montage of cardboard shapes, although you can never be sure, some of those edge pieces can give you a nasty paper cut if handled rashly.
The cats were either bored or had decided this was going to be too painful to watch so they ambled out into the garden to torture some small mammals as I plugged in the saw. ‘Okay Ham, just remember to take your time and maintain a smooth flowing technique throughout …rrrrrRRRRrrrrrrZzzzZZZZZweeeeweeeeeeZZZZZZ … thud!
No it wasn’t a finger, or a hand; not even a leg. It was a perfectly cut piece of timber which fell out on to the floor in front of me ‘Ha Ha! A piece of cake’ I exclaimed with unabashed glee. Feeling rather smug with myself I picked up the instructions and read on ‘now attach the plastic frame onto the inside of the door using the four screws supplied’, ‘okay dokey’
Carefully I clipped together the housing frame and knelt down in front of the prepared opening. Four screws held firmly between my teeth and an electric screwdriver clutched under one arm. Gently I eased the structure into place with the meticulous care of a bomb disposal expert. You can therefore Imagine my deep joy and happiness when I actually let go of the frame and the whole shooting match fell all the way through and out in to the garden. Not a good sign I think you’ll agree. After desperately trying it from the other side and vainly rotating it in every direction I had to concede that I may have made an error at some point in the preceding process.
Snatching up the instructions I read them again, carefully this time ‘When marking out the template use side A for the 4-way deluxe cat flap and side B for the three way standard’. Tightwad that I am I’d only sprung for the three way standard. Halfwit that I am I’d omitted to turn the template over. Best read it again I thought, just to be sure; No point in giving yourself a stroke over a typo….. Nope, nope, no doubt about it, I’d marked and cut out the wrong sized hole ‘ok so I’ve just used the wrong template and my cat flap is useless, it’s a simple mistake, it’s not the end of the world’ I mumbled as a cold breeze whistled round my ankles.
‘Okay Ham, tears won’t help now, you have to think lateral …….’
‘Welcome to Blue Peter’, ’this week were going to be making a beaded door!’, ‘all you’ll need is a roll of green garden string, a needle, a large packet of salted peanuts and a case of Kronenberg’, ‘First cut your string to the required length’, ‘say five inches if it’s for a cat door’, ‘then carefully pierce each peanut with the needle; you might want to get a grown up to do that for you’, ‘then hastily thread plenty of peanuts on to the string whilst guzzling a shitload of beer’, ‘now attach each length of peanuts, sorry beads, over your door, using some sticky backed plastic’, ‘tan another couple of beers and finally push the reluctant felines through the door three or four times until they get the hang if it!’
‘Next week were going to be making something equally shite that needs a washing up bottle!’
Monday, March 26, 2007
Ham Shanks Flimsy Excuses
Due to technical difficulties outwith his control Ham has been unable to complete his diary in the allotted timescale. The board finds this unacceptable.
Readers may rest assured that the directors of HS Plc will be treating this matter very seriously indeed. As we speak a meeting request has been sent out to all the stakeholders involved and they will be meeting, sometime in the next quarter, to thrash out a proposed agenda for considering the possibility of instigating some form of disciplinary luncheon.
Assuming positive response to the concept in question, further bread rolls will be distributed in an effort to collate all relevant soup course options. In the unlikely event that Mr Shanks is found to be in breach of his main course then he will be roasted over hot coals, with a sprinkling of garlic and thyme.
Any suggestion that these disciplinary proceedings are some kind of flagrant abuse of company resources, or a jolly for fat cat executives, will be met with the full force of extra mature Stilton and robustly defended until the decanting of the late bottled vintage port has been completed.
We trust this public display of our gluttonous levity will restore confidence in the Ham Shanks brand and we look forward to slipping upstairs with our young 'niece's' to show them our fine collection of etchings....
Yours with simple and shallow contempt
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Ham Shnaks Secret Diary - Part 121
Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e
‘And the winner’ ……. put the kettle on, you know these things go on and on and on …….. ‘the act that will be representing
I understand why they announce these things in an exceptionally irritating staccato manner; they are making efforts to stoke up the tension. All I would say is; if it’s actually exciting and if it’s truly entertaining and if it does in fact have us on the edge of our seats then we don’t need to hear you announce the results as if you’ve just had a stroke. Although I think Sir Terry was party to a minor seizure when he realised he’d just gleefully announced the wrong name ….. CINDY! Its times like that you understand why they normally provide a golden envelope.
Terry displayed a vacant look as his brain tried to catch up with the urgent messages being passed to it by his ears; co-host Fearne Cotton had announced a different name. She was frantically waving her arms in the air and shouting ‘it’s Scooch’, Terry was a rabbit caught in the headlights ‘wait a minute’ she interrupted ‘it’s Scooch’, ‘it is Scooch’ El-Tel stared glassily into the middle distance before fifty years of show business experience finally came to his aid ‘it IS Scooch’ he screeched ‘it is it IS!’ as the unfortunate ‘Cindy’ was carried bodily off the stage by two burly men, one with his hand clamped firmly over her open mouth - I love live TV.
I know I’m having a pop at a Knight of the Realm here so I better declare an interest; El-Tel is not really my cup of tea. National treasure though he is I’d rather listen to the sound of fingernails being pulled down a blackboard than tune into his radio two show in the morning. So I wasn’t too bothered to see him step on a banana skin in front of millions. ‘That’s Heresy’ I hear you cry, he’s had his own chat show, he’s done Blankety Blank and Aunties Bloomers, never mind Points of View. I’m sorry, what can I say? Irreverent chat and banal banter are just not my bag ….. eeer wait a minute, I might be painting myself into a corner here, pot and kettle spring to mind. Sorry did you say ‘Terry’ Wogan, ooooh him! He’s great! Loved his interview with the son of God, sorry I mean David Icke.
I don’t know if you remember that interview, it was a classic. Terry’s booked reasonably famous
By the way he’s still on the go and you must see his website. I think the tag line says it all; davidicke.com exposing the dreamworld we believe to be real. Now you have to think about that sentence. From his point of view it means ‘I am going to expose all the myths that you hold dear about society today and open your eyes’. To me it means he’s talking about the fantasy world in his head that he believes to be reality. However not wanting to be accused of narrow mindedness I pressed on into the site …..
I was genuinely surprised to see that he’s had quite a number of books and DVD’s published. Now I didn’t know if what he claimed had any basis in truth, and to be honest I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out as most of his DVD’s were between 4 and 7hrs long! This is him talking without a break I might add. So I thought I’d look at some of the reviews first……
These are in relation to his DVD ‘Freedom or Fascism: The Time to Choose’ Probably quite a good seller in parts of
Okaaaaaaay! A room with rubber walls might be of more use for you pal. Let’s assume, just for one minute, that the aliens or the government or whatever the smeg it is that supposed to be monitoring you actually exists. Are you seriously telling me that a thin layer of tinfoil is going to protect you? Hmmm? Come on! That’s like saying hiding under your duvet will protect you from the man-eating ravenous monsters you believe live under your bed at night; Get a f*cking grip!
Here’s some helpful advice for all your conspiracy theorists out there – Start Small. Convince us of a lesser fib; don’t go for the show stopper straight away. Warm us up, persuade us that giant alligators live in the sewers or something. That’s almost plausible. Don’t go diving in with ‘We are all descended from reptilian aliens! You can see it in our DNA’ don’t tell us the moon landings were faked or start screaming ‘The Royals are all Satanists’ from the rooftops …… actually you can probably go with the last one.
Dispelling long held beliefs takes a little time. People need a moment to adjust to new ideas. It’s just like courtship. You don’t start by thrusting your hand into her knickers and thrashing around for the G-spot. That’s only going to get you a kick in the happy sack. Start off with an invite for a drink, and then whilst chatting personably gradually introduce the concept of large reptiles in the drains. If not repulsed at this stage you have achieved the metaphoric equivalent of holding her hand. Assuming the poor sod you are talking to has not made a lame excuse and left you could now think about introducing some of your less conventional theories.
Remember and play it cool. Don’t start blabbering about antichrist conspiracies, just increment the nuttiness gently, you’re playing footsie now, talk about how Fanta was invented to sell in Nazi Germany. Your doing very well, your hand is on her thigh now. See how much easier it is if you pace yourself. Now if by some miracle you find they haven’t left after two hours of your insane dribbling, then I’m afraid you are probably looking in a mirror or you are David Icke. Does the person you see have an upturned colander on their head with a covering layer of tin foil? I thought so, that’s you! Whatever you do don’t step outside, they can see you everywhere! That’s right just stay at home and give the rest of us a break ye raving fecking maddy!
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 120
Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e
Hope – noun – ‘the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best’ Or if you are a Scottish rugby fan; Hope – noun – ‘the brief moment of deluded elation that precedes your team entering the field of play soon to be followed by feelings of deep despair and despondency’
Actually to be fair I didn’t think we had a hope before kick off, but other than ten minutes at the start,
Switching off the television I drew the curtains and pulled on my faded black armband. Lifting up my arm I smoothed down the worn cotton ‘need to get a new one of these soon I suppose’ I mumbled whilst cracking open another tinny and draining it in one long draught. Two more cans and the desired soporific effect kicked in, the final can slipping from my hands as I drifted off into a snorting slumber.
‘C’mon Ham get warmed up your going on’, ‘ww.w.what?’, ‘get warmed up, your going on for Parky in five’, ‘who the fu*ks Parky?’ I exclaimed as strong hands pushed me out of my seat and on to the running track. The noise was deafening ‘Oh fuuu-‘ last thing I could remember was drifting off to sleep with the comforting aroma of empty pizza boxes and beery flatulence. Now I appeared to be warming up to play for
‘Ready to go?’ enquired a voice above me, I glanced up to see an attractive young lady with what appeared to be a white sheet wrapped round her and an odd shaped wicker basket clutched in her hand. The garland of flowers round her head and the leather sandals suggested she wasn’t a local. This and the fact she was levitating in mid-air as she kept up with my laboured jogging ‘ah this must be a dream’ I mumbled as she waved a delicate hand in front of her rapidly wrinkling nose ‘Nervous?’ she enquired through streaming eyes ‘er yes, haven’t played rugby for a while’ I replied, speeding up slightly to leave the odour behind.
‘But I don’t need to worry do I? This is a dream isn’t it?’ the ferocious sounds of heavy collisions were audible over the noise of the crowd as I gawped at another bone crushing tackle in front of me ‘not exactly’ she replied sweetly ‘what do you mean not exactly’ I retorted hotly, ‘who the hell are you anyway?’, ‘Oh I’m the goddess of hope’, ‘but you can call me Elpis’ she replied brightly ‘Nice to meet you Elpis now what the smeging hell is going on’, ‘Well remember you really really really hoped Scotland would win today’, ‘yes’ I replied grudgingly as the Scotland trainer rushed past me to minister to yet another stricken player.
‘Well today’s your lucky day!’, ‘how so?’ I mumbled weakly as I saw the Scotland manager Frank Hadden gesture frantically for me to get my tracksuit off ‘Well you’re getting a chance to re-write history’ tears were welling up in my eyes ‘yes it is emotional getting capped isn’t it’, ‘b.bb.ut I haven’t played rugby for y.y.years’ I quavered in reply
‘Right Shanks I want you to replace Parky at fly-half and provide some dynamism in attack’, ‘mmm’, ‘I want to see you really take the game to the Irish and start running at their big men’ my eyes widened in horror ‘been a mm.istake t.t.errible mistake’ I whispered in abject terror, Frank didn’t seem to notice my wimpy trembling as he continued issuing a stream of what seemed like meaningless instructions. All the while Elpis was hovering behind him, mugging happily and giving the thumbs up ‘let’s get this game moving Shanks’ and I was on ...
They say the difference between club and international level rugby is the amount of time you have on the ball. At international level you don’t have any. They are not wrong. My initial relief at actually catching the first pass was short lived. The ball seemed to be attached to a rather large rhinoceros clad in a green shirt, at least I think that’s what it was, certainly felt like one as I was hammered into the ground, my front teeth digging a rather neat ‘dreel’ in the wet turf ‘oooommpfff!’ not content with splintering every bone in my body the gentleman in question then proceeded to give me a good shoeing for afters. The shrill sound of a whistle came to my ‘rescue’
The trainer ran on as I tried to balance shakily on my hands and knees, gingerly taking in lungfuls of air, waiting for one of my many fractured rubs to puncture a lung, it was only a matter of time. I could hear the ref chastising the Irish player ‘That’s dangerous use of the boot …’ meanwhile the trainer had opened a bottle of smelling salts under my nose and the acrid aroma was boring into my sinuses ‘jeeeesuschriiist’ I wailed as he practically inserted the phial up my nostril. Groggily I got to my feet and the crowd roared their appreciation ‘Well done Ham’ whispered the trainer, ‘Chris kicked the penalty and were two points ahead’, ‘Five minutes to go, keep at them’, ‘yeah right’ I mumbled through my remaining broken teeth.
Shakily I got back into position ‘Having fun?’ enquired the ethereal Elpis as she popped up on my shoulder ‘feck off!’, ‘Now now, I’m only giving you hope, that’s what you wanted wasn’t it?’ I stared at her through my one good eye ‘do we win now?’ I mumbled ‘lets hope so eh’ she winked before disappearing. Cursing the fickleness of gods I lined up for the restart. The Irish took a sneaky one, quickly changing direction for the drop out. With mounting horror I realised the ball was heading straight for me. I could hear the thunder of hooves as I kept my eye fixed on the descending the ball. I’m fairly sure I shouted ‘mine’ before the pain arrived.
Waking up I found myself in a hospital bed ‘feeling better?’ enquired Elpis from the end of the bed. My jaw was wired shut ‘mngfmm’, ‘yes you took a bit of a blow to the coupon, broken jaw they say’ She was munching on a bunch of grapes, my grapes by the look of it ‘let’s hope you’re feeling better soon eh’ I raised my good hand, slowly extending the middle finger with exaggerated care. She chose to ignore my efforts at non-verbal communication ‘well much as I’d like to I cant hang around here all day, I’ve got some Welsh fans to kick in the balls’, ‘see you next week for the French game then?’, ‘fgnckoff..mmyouffn..witch’
She swallowed the last grape, picked up her cornucopia and waved a hand dismissively ‘Don’t be so tetchy, I’ve been doing the English football gig for over forty years and they never seem to learn!’
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Ham Shanks Secret Diary - Part 119
Ham Shanks Secret Diary w/e
I’ve noticed that most people get rather set in their ways as they get older, there seems to be a direct correlation between escalating years and increased resistance to change. This is perfectly understandable; if you’ve been used to picking up a bakelite handset and asking the operator to connect you to Mavis over in the next village, without having to mention her surname or indeed the number you actually require, then being handed a modern mobile phone and asked to send her a text message instead would be akin to attempting to make first contact with aliens from Mars.
Now before you start I’m not having a pop at the crumblies, sorry I mean ‘my elders and betters’. The reason I mention it at all is I seem to be starting down the same route myself. It’s a well known fact that you can’t halt progress. And if we were talking about scientific or medical advances then I’d have to agree that’s a good thing, but I was somewhat dismayed at my ignorance of recent advances when I visited the local pet shop to stock up on supplies for the imminent arrival of my new pussycats. Feline care seems to have taken some quantum leaps in the last ten years.
I say my ‘local’ pet shop, but it’s not really a shop, it’s a vast warehouse, and it’s not really local, it’s sited on one of these soulless retail parks on the outskirts of town. ‘Pets R’nt Us we only want your money’ I think it’s called? Anyway it’s crammed from floor to roof with everything you might ever need to feed, water and accommodate any variety of beasts from a woodlouse to a Shire horse.
Much as I dislike the place I have to admit it does come out on top when compared with the only other option in the vicinity; A tiny wee shop run by a dotty old biddy in the centre of town. Unlike the bursting at the seams mega store the ‘local’ option seems to stock a grand total of one item. This is kept on a remote shelf that requires the careful erection of an ancient two step ‘ladder’ for access. Clearly this is to deter any hoodies who might be thinking of a quick smash and grab then legging it into town to fence some ‘hot’ hamster wheels. Sorry I mean a hot hamster wheel.
Once you’ve patiently waited for her to return from the expedition to conquer the
Dressed in a trench coat, trilby and dark shades I snuck in the side entrance of the store and headed quickly for the ‘Cat’ aisle. ‘Right Ham, get the grub first, then the cludge material’ Slipping my glasses off I started scanning the various brands, picking up a can at random I read ‘From the Ocean Menu’, ‘Line caught organic Atlantic cod in a rich nourishing jelly’ wrinkling my brow I dropped it back on the shelf and picked another ‘succulent cuts of chicken and lamb blended into a mouth watering terrine-’, ‘what the fu-‘ The last time I had a cat the labels on the tins said things like ‘*Brand Name – Fish or Meat’ Your choice was based on which one honked least when you opened the can.
It would seem that now they were trying to appeal to my taste buds? Quite why I don’t know? I had no intention of eating the stuff. Plumping for the cheapest non-fish variety I ticked ‘food’ off my list and looked for signs indicating the direction to the litter trays.
It was at this point the salesman appeared. Too much to hope I could escape unmolested I suppose. However I would have appreciated it if he had arrived with slightly less stealth. Perhaps it was because we were in the feline section, but he arrived without making a sound ‘Can I help you sir?’ whispered a voice in my ear, ‘Jeeeesuschriiist’ I shrieked as I jumped out of my skin ‘Eeeer it’s ok, I’m just looking for a litter tray’ I replied awkwardly, gingerly clutching the back of my jeans, concerned that I might now need one myself ‘what type sir?’ I gave him a blank look ‘uuum what do you mean? They are all the same aren’t they?’ he smiled a predatory grin ‘if you’d like to follow me sir’
After several minutes brisk walking, and a bewildering number of left and right turns, we pitched up in front of the ‘feline hygiene’ section ‘What the hell are they?’ I asked pointing at the odd looking objects stacked up in front of me ‘this, my friend, is the Omega 19 self cleaning litter tray with integral hood, built in carbon filter for extra odour control, smoked glass entrance flap and of course a sieving double bottom-’, ‘a what?’, ‘a sieving double bottom sir, this helps reduce the need for removing solid waste-‘, ‘whoa whoa Tiger’ I waved him into silence ‘all I want is a fecking litter tray’, ‘there are more bells and whistles on that than there are in my own cludge’ I exclaimed in disbelief.
‘How much is this …thing anyway?’ I jabbed a finger at the plastic behemoth ‘The Omega 19 retails at £79.99’ he replied eagerly. Raising my eyebrows I gestured towards the far end of the aisle which was shrouded in partial darkness, one flickering light occasionally illuminating the dusty merchandise ‘lets have a look in your economy section shall we’, ‘as you wish sir ‘ he replied, fishing a torch out of his inside pocket.
Having selected the flimsiest cheapest plastic tray on display I was about to depart when he foolishly enquired whether I would be interested in a ‘Privacy tent’ to go with that. I looked at him askance ‘a privacy tent?’ I repeated incredulously ‘yes sir so your cat can carry out its business in private’ the word business was enunciated with particular care, as one does with a distasteful word. It was a bridge too far, I wasn’t coping well with the new ‘step change’ in ‘feline technology’.
‘Oh that’s a good idea’ I replied sarcastically ‘perhaps we could put a lock on the door as well and maybe install a magazine rack?’, ‘there’s no need -‘ ‘do you sell special cat toilet roll then?’, ‘Wha-‘, ‘Well presumably it will want me to wipe it’s arse as well?’, ‘really sir-‘, ‘ooooh right, maybe I could install a bidet then?’ he was about to retort once more when I grabbed him by the lapels, pulled his face up to mine and roared ‘IT’S-A-F-U-C-K-I-N-G-C-A-T!’ drenching his face in a foamy spittle.
So you can understand why I am concerned that I may not be ‘embracing change’ in a positive manner and why I’m worried that I am galloping into old age prematurely. Although I’m not galloping nealry as fast as that salesman went when I let him go – Like a whippet he was.