Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Much has been said about the CCTV Cities on Wigan - it was bollocks really and it would have been just the same in any similar-sized town in the country prior to Christmas. At Mudhuts we wrote the following little piece some three years ago. That McIntyre might as well have used it for his script…

Jimmy Jazz was fucked. Big-style. Out all night watching modern day Britain at leisure.

It the old transit with Jimmy was Robbo and Sam Ahmed. Robbo had more or less been a permanent feature on Jimmy's teams for the last two years whilst WPC Ahmed was straight outta Bolton via the University of East Anglia.

It was now 6.30am and Robbo's notes show the following.

Midnight - Blonde bird dark-haired bloke - 3 minute knee trembler. Bloke sick immediately after. Kept cock out of trousers while he threw up.

12.22am 3 punches thrown. 18-year old missed twice 50-year old hit him once.

12.33am Ambulance arrives.

1.00am Very fat girl sat on very thin man's face.

1.23am Ambulance arrives.

1.43am Carol Doughty staggers passed. Pissed? Stoned? Who gives a monkeys? The whore will be dead in 6 months.

2.00am Huge kick off around the corner. At least 60 involved. Three objects hit the van.

2.33am Sally Johnson on knees sucking Councillor John Sedgwick's cock

2.44am Money changes hands.

3.38am Terry Robinson (Bouncer at Liquid) gives dark-haired girl a package in exchange for money.

5.05am Two "studenty-types" pushing Asda trolley full of something?

5.06am Establish they are pushing 3rd "studenty-type" around

6.05am Vicar opens church doors

6.10am Vicar clears up vomit, cum, urine and blood from church doorway.

Well another night in Wigan! Just a normal fucking Saturday night/Sunday morning in Wigan

"Easy like a Sunday Morning" - Indeed!

"Put your feet upon the water and play Jesus for the day"

Choccy was a twat. A successful twat albeit but still a twat. Mr John Soft shot him. Four fucking times. Bang, bang, bang and fucking bang. Put the body in the canal. Let it float down, or is that up to Wigan Pier. Wigan Pier the Proletariat's Disneyland. They all go. All the poxy George Orwell groupies! A leisure complex based on the good old days when everyone made money for the evil Lord of the Manor and then died.

Choccy made money for himself and then died. The corpse was spotted by two Japanese tourists. The water had cleaned the blood away but it was unmistakably a dead body. The female tourist, Kobi Anshe (aged 29 from Hiroshima) told the local cub reporter that "She knew immediately that it was a dead body and didn't panic". She simply called the police on her mobile and watched them lift it from the dirty water.

That night Kobi and her boyfriend stayed in the Quality Hotel on Riverway in Wigan and had the best sex they'd had in their eight-year relationship. A year later to the day Kobi shot her boyfriend four times. Bang, bang, bang and fucking bang. She pushed the body into the river and caught the first plane to Manchester to look for Mr John Soft. Best of luck. Her and the police.

Harry's Bar is the type of public house that normal people do not go to. It's a sea of cheap tracksuits, cheap perfume and cheap booze. Inhabited by the drunkest deadest white trash in town. A blow -job in the bogs from a trollop with liquorice roots costs a fiver. Squeak went there once. Never again! "Very unsatisfactory" were the words he uttered to himself as he wiped his cock against his Marks & Spencer Y-fronts. "Very unsatisfactory!"

It did, however, not prevent him visiting the said premises four times a week. He would arrive on Monday at 11.00am and leave on Thursday at 7.30 pm. He obviously went home each evening but it all sort of blurred in to one long booze-fest. The unusual thing about Squeak is that he would sit all on his own and talk to nobody. Unlike the others who would argue continuously, he would sit look straight ahead, moving only to visit the bar where he would order his usual Guinness with Jameson chaser or visit the toilets to relieve himself. The arseholes who frequented Harry's thought him odd but nothing more. Just odd! If only they knew.

Bubble, had during schooldays and late teens, been Squeak's best friend. That was until one woman took Squeak away from Bubble and Bubble made up for lost time by screwing half the half-decent females in town. Women had undoubtedly been his downfall. He was currently cheating on his fourth wife with his boss's youngest daughter. Blonde and beautiful his wife may be but, come on, the girl's young and impressionable and to use the current parlance "she takes it up the wrong un". See when I say Bubble and Squeak were best friends, their friendship was based almost solely on their mutual interest in hard core XXXX pornography. Bubble had a far too unhealthy interest in anal sex while Squeak, well Squeak was just Squeak and said very little.

This being Friday Bubble was "up town" chatting to the girls. He had had his eye on a girl called Paula for the last two weeks or so and tonight he would make his move. It would be easy. She was gagging for it. No problem! And quite right because by ten that evening he was back at Paula's neat terrace. The fucking had been marvellous for the two of them. All night long! She must have woken the whole street. Bubble particularly enjoyed her cry of "That's fucking wonderful big boy". Paula had obviously watched her fair share of pornographic videos because to the discerning viewer, if there had have been one, the fucking was not wonderful and Bubble was far from being a big boy.

In the cold light of morning Bubble still considered Paula attractive. For she was. Small with short fair hair, a well -toned sun bed tanned body. This could be difficult. A wife and two girlfriends could prove difficult but fuck it they don’t call me 'The Scholes Stallion for nothing' thought Bubble. What a fucking prick!

Bubble was desperate. He used to buy from Choccy and it was easy. Nice and clean but now he had been reduced to haggling with the scum from Coops Foyer. All would-be gangsters all fucking half-wits as far Bubble was concerned. He could nip to Harry's and buy from the cunt who runs the scene in there but he knew that Squeak would be in and he couldn't be bothered in conversation. Also it was his lunchtime and he was an accountant with the top firm in the town. There's no way he could go in there with all the down and outs. He needed the dope, not really for his own sake as - although he had what could be termed a marijuana habit - he had promised Emma, the bosses daughter, he could get her some.

He had managed to get a pass out from the wife on the premise that he was playing darts with the lads. The wife knew he'd never thrown a dart in his life but was beyond caring. With ten minutes of his lunch left he had no option but to go in Harry's find the man and grab what he could. The deal was done at the bar. " How fucking unprofessional" he thought. He nodded to Squeak who barely stirred from his Guinness and rushed out making it back three minutes late.

That evening Emma and him self smoked the dope and drank three bottles of wine between them. Bubble fell asleep for a short while. Emma looked at his ageing body, prodded him and through the dope and alcohol haze somehow ordered a cab that took him home. It was ten thirty when he left. Emma found some energy from somewhere, went to the bathroom showered and washed the fucking arsehole out of her life.

The next day at work she told him it was over. Bubble agreed it was for the best, thinking about his job should her father find out, and said "Well it was bloody good while it lasted".

"Well it was average", said Emma.

Police had estimated that Squeak had been dead for three and a half weeks when he was found dead. He had shot himself. Bang. The police also announced the gun that he used was almost certainly the one that was used to kill Anthony "Choccy" White some two years previously.

Bubble identified the body

To be continued…


Recently I began thinking about which was my favourite Latics trip and there was a clear winner. In my 25+ years (thinking about it, it's more like 30) watching Latics there was only one choice. It was not one of the trips to Wembley or the end of season trips to Torquay or Bournemouth. Nor was it Wrexham away in the FA Cup in the early 70's even though we lost 4-0. I still remember that game/trip like it was yesterday probably because it was my first away trip with Latics. Neither was it one of the many London trips over the years. No the one trip that I really enjoyed and is still my fave is the Pre-Season jaunt to the Isle of Man in July 1992.

Initially I had planned to go alone as I only wanted to go for the weekend and most that were making the trip were going for the week. But after airing my plans to the lads one Sunday lunchtime several more decided to go and come the day around 30 of us made the trip. The ferry tickets were booked and around 7.30pm on Friday 24th July 1992 the weekend began. Two minibuses were sorted to take us to Heysham for the night sailing to Douglas. After a night's drinking in 'The Springfield' we were on our way and it didn't take long for the fun to start. By the time we reached Heysham Beanie was well out of it. Apparently he drank a whole bottle of Ouzo during the 45-minute trip up the M6, and proceeded to fall headlong out of the van on arrival. He was in such a state that the Captain of the ship refused to sail with him on board. He wasn't so concerned with what happened to Beanie he just didn't want it to happen on his ship as he'd be well for it. However after much serious debating in which the captain and ferry staff were told no one else was missing the trip and Beanie would be left in their hands they decided to let him on board. They did insist that he had to stay on deck with one of us keeping an eye on him.

Needless to say he slept like a baby outside on deck for the whole journey and believe me it was freezing as I found out when it was my turn to sit with him. Onboard that night were around 20 Huddersfield guys going across for the tournament as well. There was no trouble and Wigan and Huddersfield got on well not only that night but for the whole weekend. Several people thought it would be a great laugh to shave Beanie's eyebrows with one of the Huddersfield guys carrying out the deed as we all waited for him to wake from his drunken stupor. The trip across went quietly and on arrival in Douglas early morning was woken. Imagine how you'd feel. But all was not well and the lad was in serious pain. So a couple of lads took him to hospital with the help of a luggage trolley while the rest of us had the craic with Norman Wisdom who was waiting for someone getting off the ferry. At the hospital it was discovered he had a broken leg (ouch). The fool had broken it falling out of the van at Heysham and was so out of it he didn't know or feel anything until waking 8/9 hours later. He had a broken leg, horrendous hangover and no eyebrows. I'm glad it wasn't me. As he was meant to be staying the week he was booked on the trip home on the Monday with the weekend boys under the name of Mr Bean. Very appropriate I thought. We all booked into our hotels, as the owners were genuinely glad of the custom. I booked into one room with Little Jimmy and Keef. We had a room on the seafront overlooking Douglas Bay. Very nice!
We arranged to meet at 12 noon in Bushy's and even though it was now around 9am everybody turned up. There were no games today so it was an all-day session ahead. We agreed to meet later for the night out and went different ways with me and Jimmy opting for a walk with Taylor to a pub he recommended at the opposite end of the bay. After about an hour's walk we arrived to find 2/3 people having a quiet drink. Top pub John! Anyway we stayed as it had by now started pissing down which resulted in us getting a tram back to meet the rest of the lads in the main area, grabbed some tea, a wash and a brush up and out again for the night. We again had a drink with Huddersfield who told us some Stoke had arrived in the afternoon and for some reason were panicking about it. Stoke seemed to have the Indian sign over Huddersfield and we couldn't understand it. A brilliant night was enjoyed by us with a good number ending up in some Rave Club where we were the only people drinking. Meanwhile the DJ kept referring to us as the "Wigan Posse in the House". Several were on the dancefloor but the rest not being ravers were on a balcony above the DJ. At this point young Fatboy Slim decides to piss from a great height onto the DJ. What a sight! Anyway I don't think any of these ravers (mostly kids anyway) fancied their chances with us, and nothing came of it. After leaving the club we talked a taxi driver into taking 8 of us back to the hotel in his taxi. He wasn't keen but we were very persuasive and 5 minutes later we were outside our hotel ready to turn in.

I awoke Sunday morning to a faint sound in my ears. Looking at the time it was around 6.30am and boy this bloody faint noise was annoying me. I thought that the room intercom had been left on but as I turned over there were Little Jimmy's legs dangling over the bunk (he was in the top bunk, me in the bottom) listening to his personal stereo. Keef was in the big double bed snoring his head off as usual. After showering and breakfast we swapped stories and back to the pub for Sunday lunchtime. Our game was an evening kick-off at 7.30pm against the Isle of Man team. The game was in Castletown and coaches were laid on to take the supporters from Douglas to the game. We again met Huddersfield who were playing Dutch team S.C. Cambur in the afternoon. After finding out that Sunday hours were a ridiculous 12.30pm - 2.00pm and 7.30pm - 10.00pm we were deflated as our evening game would take up most of the drinking time. We were delighted to hear that the hotel where Robbie and Dean were staying was prepared to serve as long as we wanted so that was sorted. As we had our afternoon drink, us in one corner and Huddersfield in the other laughing and joking about the previous night in walked Stoke, swaggering over to Huddersfield and then over to us. "Hi we're Stoke, you Wigan" to which we replied "Yeah so why don't you fuck off". We had seen Huddersfield all weekend and they were sound but these pricks really thought they were the Bees Knees. Anyway off they went and we never saw them again. When the bar shut we decided to go to the game with Huddersfield and spent the afternoon at the Douglas Bowl. Hudders won 1-0 and spent the whole game singing "You're just a bunch of poseurs" at us as the difference in dress was quite noticeable. Wigan in designer gear etc with Huddersfield in team shirts - you get the picture. Once again Wigan were showing others the way to dress. We went back to the hotel after the game and got ready for our match.

The coach dropped us at the ground in Castletown. This I remember was not as good as the Douglas Bowl earlier and consisted of a seated stand on one side and three, open un-terraced sides surrounded by open countryside. As it was so open it was too much of a temptation and not many of our lot paid to get on. Latics won the game 3-1 in front of a crowd consisting of lots of Wigan. By the time we got back to Douglas it was around 9.30pm and we managed to get a pint before last orders before we were back to Robbie's hotel. The girls were taken aback when 30 thirsty Wiganers virtually drank the bar dry. It was around 11.30pm when someone mentioned that the club around the corner was open so off we went to check it out. I knocked on the door and this little window opened and informed us that "yes it was open" and unbelievably served until 4am! Jackpot! In we went and had a great night. Hudderfield players, Latics players and fans all having a great laugh. And even after that back again to Robbie's hotel where we chilled before walking back along the prom to our hotel where the landlord couldn't believe we were just coming in. After packing and breakfast it was off to the boat for the trip home. More ale was ordered but guess what - the same pint was still on the table when we docked in Liverpool. I for one couldn't touch another pint after a mega weekend.

A couple of other memories from the weekend were Cainy 200 feet up on the roof of the hotel waving a Wigan Athletic flag and finding Keith Harrison under his bedcovers smoking a cig in a cloud of smoke. Loonies or what? Jimmy Meadows also spent the night sleeping in the bottom of the shower but that's nothing new.




This year the ITV network restored its News at Ten programme. It is presented by Sir Trevor McDonald and when announced cynicism was in the air, as the announcement happened to coincide with the latest phone line scandals to hit the network.

The once-highly-admired News of Ten was restored and it has been interesting to see how it fared against the BBC's 10pm bulletin. It has bombed! Where it's other news is highly influenced by celebrity material? In the main area where the two networks go head to head - over the cornflakes and coffee. The serious stuff at ten is not ITV's cup of espresso.

Celebrity news, red carpet events and reality television dominate GMTV's breakfast programme. There appear to be more 'Showbusiness Reporters' than 'War Correspondents'. Their argument will be that: they have recognised that the mass market is both influenced by and interested in celebrity and have chosen their editorial accordingly. Breakfast Time, meanwhile, tows the traditional BBC line and concentrates mainly on harder news. The final 30 minutes of the weekday show is usually given over to lighter news and entertainment items but in general it keeps to this agenda.

By looking, in depth, at both channels' viewers it would be easy to identify their core audiences and the differences therein. However the picture blurs and will undoubtedly change over coming years. It is also important to ask whether, indeed, GMTV has looked at the mass market and identified that their audience wants a celebrity-driven news show or whether the publicity arm of celebrity has compromised the news media by putting forward more and more celebrity news.

The effect of celebrity will continue to influence the news media but to what extent. Firstly there is the potential "ghettoising" of serious news programmes. It has recently been announced that billions of pounds need to be cut from the BBC's schedules with ten per cent of content to be slashed. This has led to fears that their 24-hour news channel BBC News 24 may suffer in favour of celebrity-led programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing. It may also lead to news being considered an elitist market as a small percentage of the market seek out the serious news programmes such as Newsnight and Channel 4 News. There may also be the case where the BBC decides that if you can't beat the dumbing-down then you may as well join them.

With 60-second news spots on BBC3 and it cannot escape anybody's notice that the BBC's recently-departed presenter Natasha Kaplinsky was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. This has brought up a number of conundrums.

Firstly her winning performance on the programme may now mean that she is known as "that woman that won the dancing thing" rather than the winner of the 'Newscaster of the Year' at the annual Television and Radio Industries Club awards.

The broadcaster Mark Lawson said: "Views within BBC News are strongly divided as to the wisdom of allowing - and indeed encouraging - news presenters to venture into non-news areas.

"Leaving aside professional jealousy, some BBC journalists feel a presenter's authority is diminished when they take on entertainment roles.

"Some cringe when they see Andrew Marr or Jeremy Vine donning fishnet tights or punk garb for the now seemingly obligatory newsroom turn for Children In Need.

"Others - including many viewers -see it as a highlight of the show and a sign that newsreaders are human after all."

Of course newsreaders carrying out a song and dance is nothing new as Angela Rippon galvanised the public's attention when she appeared on the institution that was the Morecambe and Wise Christmas show almost 30 years ago. Kaplinsky, Bill Turnbull and other newsreaders that have crossed over to entertainment may, in fact, have introduced a new generation to the more serious news format from the BBC.

There is also the question as to whether gossip and celebrity is simply not just another form of news. Who are we to say whether it is less important than so-called hard news? It has long been a part of print journalism as society pages were filled with the gossip of the upper echelons. Maybe the 3AM girls in The Mirror are simply the Nigel Dempster's of today. The celebrity - if they are only a Victoria Beckham lookalike from Doncaster - may be looked upon with the same awe that the readers once looked on the debutantes of the 1950's.

The former television and radio producer Bob Meyrowitz said back in 2000. "It's interesting because gossip is a well-recognized and well-established form of journalism,

"We'd just like to see it get more respect."

As for the future it is hard to tell which way the news format will evolve. If we concede that the print industry preceded television with celebrity reporting it can now be seen that sales of celebrity magazines and hits on celebrity internet sites are slowing down and in some cases falling.

Whether falling magazine sales will translate into a less celebrity-led television news time alone will tell. In Britain it may just take an event like the (possible eventual) outcome of the Madeleine McCann case to test television's resolve. It began as a hard news story but has evolved into a real conundrum for some television companies and programmes that allowed themselves to be used by the McCanns as they encouraged the media to report their case and had people within the media (in some cases) funding their cause. Here were official suspects using PR to put across their counter defence in the British media. They are using and have been using publicity to put their point across in the same way that Victoria Beckham does when she wants the world to know about "her David".

It was reported by the likes of GMTV and SKY News in a breezy, celebrity way. Now as the messy affair grinds to a halt and the tragic disappearance of a little girl still remains unsolved, maybe certain news channels may look back and consider the way they report news and the content they use. If the unthinkable happens and the parents were in some way involved in their daughter's disappearance then the moment that "Kate and Gerry" became "The McCanns" in the news reports may have just been the moment when broadcasters ought to consider the implications of celebrity and celebrity culture dominating news bulletins.

However with the case being put on hold in Portugal and the McCanns having their arguido status removed they are back to being Kate and Gerry with their ringmaster Clarence Mitchell pulling the strings again. The messy affair continues. The blurred line of celebrity and news is as ever. As Big Brother dominates the pages of the Daily Star and David Beckham edges ever nearer to his 100th cap for England when a blind man can see he's not capable of playing at that level anymore it could be some time before news is reported in the way some of us would deem it acceptable.

Festival Fever

Well what a summer it's been with all the festivals, eh? Glasto, Reading, Leeds, V and all the others. It's the new "going to Spain for your hols". And I've seen most of it. Of course I haven't been. Just sat their in the chair with a brew and the red button. Great stuff.

Come Glastonbury and come all the discussions. "You go out last night?"

"Nah stayed in and watched Glastonbury"

And quite right as well. I was in the queue in Tesco listening to two middle-aged women discussing Neil Diamond at Glastonbury. I thought how ridiculous until I realised that I, as a middle-aged man, had spent a Sunday afternoon in front of the telly watching it. In fact with the BBC's red button I was flicking from Pyramid Stage to Main Stage and back to the studio area where I was shouting at the amateur talents of the likes of Lauren Laverne and Jo Whiley.

My phone was buzzing with texts: "Are you watching Verve? Fucking superb." I was and they were and then I watched highlights and shite and never once needed a pair of wellingtons.

Then there is somebody a bit good in the dance tent and the phone's going again and it's two in the morning and you retire your tent exhausted. Up next day - back on the red button, shouting at the presenters and revelling at the odd decent band. And after Glastonbury it's the other festivals. Never as good but still worth watching. Too old for actually going there - well apart from the Cambridge Folk Festival, maybe - but still loving and hating the music in equal measures. Still discussing and arguing like we did when we were teenagers and twentysomethings. Wondering whether Morrissey really is as fat in real life as he looks at Wireless and checking out the foxy posh birds in the audience.

Roll on next summer…

Fat Frank and football's new family

Fat Frank wandered over to the corner flag to a crescendo of boos at the JJB Stadium. Nothing new there as the fat one is booed wherever he goes. Also nothing new in that he had a smirk on his face as he walked over there. Fat Frank always has a smirk on his face. He's laughing at us all. His new contract at 160k a week - give or take a Rolex - securely in his pocket. It doesn't matter to him. We're just mere paupers to him. People he can take the piss out of. He loves it. His fuck off attitude that means people despise him like no other.

His own fans would probably despise him but for the fact that there are few genuine Chelsea fans left at "The Bridge" (nee Stamford Bridge). They were priced out long before the Russian arrived. They will never be able to return. There are no dodgy trips to West London when Chelsea are in town. Some may be pleased with this but give me watching my back above Loadsofmoney NEW football types any day. But those days are no more.

However that is not the argument here. This is football 2008/9 where average to good players like Fat Frank can earn that sort of money. That sort of money in a week that it would take Wiganers over ten years to earn! Can that be right? Can anybody honestly sit there, pay their hard-earned money to watch the likes of Fat Frank and be happy with that. I went to watch Latics in a friendly in Holland. We had 38 spectators in the ground. Ten years ago we would have had 380 there and we were crap then. That's how much football has changed and tells us how much the new lot don't understand football culture. But I digress - what I was about to say was that I watched Emile Heskey there - a player that I have previously defended whilst all around me have rallied against him - walk about for 17 minutes before deciding he was injured and hobbled off. Some said he's hobbled off the coach. Heskey must be on something like 60k a week! It's a cliché but I have seen better players pull the blue and white on when we were non-league.

Yet Heskey is considered a top player. Capello picks him for England and that shows you what a dearth of talent there is in England. Nobody cares enough. Chairman and managers say academies don't work. Spectators believe them and we take 38 to Holland. The power is in the hands of the players. The same players that spend all their spare time - and they have loads of that - talking about cars and money and bling and cars and money. And the new fans love this. The clubs that are caught up in all this are in the hands of the players. They sign contracts and then say they want to piss off. The clubs at the premier level cash the satellite television channels cheques and continue to bump up prices. Why? Because they can. West Brom charged Everton fans £40 and there didn't look to be a spare seat in the house. They can do it to Everton as Everton are one of the few teams that are still a proper club. Their old fans are still with them - just. If they move to Kirkby let's see what happens. Contrarily Chelsea fans have never sold out their allocation at the JJB with tickets sometimes being £15! It tells you everything.

The new fans don't get football. And what football really is. The old fans played it. Saturday and Sundays on muddy pitches. Not once a week down at the local JJB Soccerdome. They listened to the tales in the playgrounds and pubs. On the trains and the coaches. Nowadays the new fans don't bother with aways. And when they do go they moan that Goodison Park is a shithole while Pride Park is perfect. Fucking hell. And these are the people that pay money to watch Fat Frank and Deco and Ronaldo. No offence but I couldn't give a fuck about watching all these so-called world class players. I've always been to football to watch my team (hopefully) win. Win and have a laugh when watching them. Being part of the club. Part of the community. Who gives a fuck about watching world class players when your team is losing.

But that is what's happening. Wigan fans (and we are Wigan now rather than Latics if you listen to some of our new fans) stay and applaud the teams off. Us the gallant losers, Steeeeevieeee Geeeeee and the like the world-class players. When football mattered Steeeeevieeee Geeeeee would have been a Scouse bastard - world-class player or not. Now home fans take his photograph on their mobile phones.

The 200k-a-week footballer may soon be with us. If you are happy about that then fair enough but personally I'm too much of a class warrior to accept that. But like the true Chelsea fans, Geordies, Mancunians et al that have walked away from the game I'll be joining them. And modern football will be pleased. The clubs do not want the likes of me - and you. We don't buy a £4.00 programme and £2.60 pie. The new fans don't want the likes of us that dare moan and dare question the clubs and dare not accept that Marcus Bent is worth 30k a week. In fact the saddest thing I have read recently was on a Wigan messageboard during one of the many spats between the old and new Latics fans. Here some newbie said something like: "Accept it, we are the future of Wigan Athletic". Unfortunately they are right and if they are the future then Wigan Athletic Football Club as we have known and loved is fucked. And as their like are the future of football then football's fucked. But hey it doesn't matter because Fat Frank's getting his 160k a week, they can gurn at the SKY cameras, take their photos, be the big time internet Charlie's and let football and the clubs and players and administrators get away with anything they want.

Sad, sad days…

21 Essential Items for the post-casual credit-crunch northern man's wardrobe. Autumn/Winter 2008

1. Six pairs of battered adidas trainers. Owt will do as long as they don't cry out 2008 reissue. And on the Sabbath God wore Wallabies
2. John Partridge waxed jacket. As Barbour becomes as ubiquitous as BHS Partridge is a good alternative
3. Oxford Cotton Buttoned-Down or the OCBD as it is known in trad circles. As usual M&S can be relied on with its less than £20 shirt
4. Baracuta G9 Harrington - nuff said
5. Primark socks. Seven pairs for a fiver or whatever and they last longer than many other far more expensive pairs
6. Ditto Champion sports socks from JJB. Great quality and surely the time is right for the white sock revival
7. Clarks desert boots. The more battered they get the better they look
8. Lee jeans. Find them at Matalan cheap and still better than any skinny-jean-designer-distressed bollocks you'll ever see
Le Tigre polos. Again the Skem Selfridges can supply - at certain stores any road
10. Fawn-coloured Wrangler cords: appearing in TK Maxx as we speak
11. The M&S lambswool sweater - for the 26th year on the trot
12. The old Stone Island jacket. You know the one - that which would now fetch a couple of ton on ebay and tells the world that you bought it back in 1987! Just don't wear it to the match
13. Six battered Lacoste polos. Any colour will do as long as they don't cry out Hurleys 2008. And on the Sabbath God wore Ralph
14. Waterproof jacket. Berghaus, Paramo, Mountain Equipment. Anything that says Lake District
15. A decent pair of boots in case the global warming decides to have a holiday. Anything will do. Shop around there are enough brands out there
16. Lumberjack-type shirts from the Skem supermarket that is Matalan. Summat like £4 a chuck. Just button them up to the top and pretend you're as skinny as you were back then.
17. A couple of thick plain sweatshirts with absolutely no label/writing on them
18. A couple of thick woolly hats with absolutely no label/writing on them
19. Nice pair of leather gloves - try TKs for some crackers
20. One big fuck off down-filled jacket with a hood, ski-gloves and pray for some snow to bring out the Eskimo in you
21. A scarf as an accessory tied in a certain way - only joking

Boris Johnson - the complete fucking buffoon

Oh and the Tories main weapon. Vote for them at your peril, maybe but the "only blonde Downs" Mayor of London will entice you in. See, Boris is witty and a fool. Disheveled and entertaining: "Ping Pong's coming home" and the posh bloke is the posh bloke that common man likes. Forget his privilege and his class. His aberrations and his downright stupidity. I mean he was right about the Scousers. Or so Basildon Barry believes. And who gives a fuck about them any way. Darling Margaret never visited Liverpool once and it did her no harm.

No rest assured this complete fucking lunatic is the Maggie of the noughties. Of course he won't screw the working class into the ground as his heroine has already done that but he'll make sure that David fucking Cameron and his Eton buddies get into power next time out. London 2012 will be Cameron's Falklands. Boris is Dave's Heseltine. Gaffs and guffaws. The party of the south will be back in government soon. Essex will rejoice. Surrey will be elated while inner London will be carving each other up. Wembley Stadium our national treasure. A new breed of Sloane Rangers. Cameron's chicks. Dylan Jones and his GQ brigade all cosied up in their cosy little world. Get ready it's coming. Now where's Dark Side of the Moon LP and that spliff I rolled earlier?

I hate ITV 1

On the odd occasion I stumble across an advert on one of the myriad of channels that now exist I simply haven't a clue what it's for or about. And frankly I don't care. Then again neither should the advertisers as a sad middle-aged with no money is not their target.

It did however get me thinking how little television I watch and how I never watch the main ITV channel. If I do it is to watch football - with the volume on mute as the commentators are awful - and that is it. The rest of the output is fucking appalling. The two main soaps - Emmerdale and Corrie are parodies of what they once were whilst it's comedy output is outrageously bad. Benidorm v Rising Damp anyone?

The Granada news output stinks amateur in comparison to the immaculate Ranvir Singh and imperious Gordon Burns whilst daytime telly sponsored by ITV Bingo tells you everything.

It was only a few years ago that Frost and Morse were being produced to a remarkably high standard but of course nobody is arsed about that as long as the Jeremy Kyle's and GMTV satisfy the remote clitoral hood of single-mum heaven.

Classic Corrie, The Sweeney, Minder, World in Action, Rising Damp et al are now a distant memory. It was good while it lasted but hey X-Factor is back - rejoice!

BTW I love ITV3: The reason why? Morse, Blood on the Wire, Poirot, The Sweeney, Minder, Rising Damp et al


As Britain edged it's way out of post-war austerity the Soho area of London danced to a sound of modern jazz as London teenagers mixed with black GI's from the American air bases in Cambridgeshire at clubs such as The Flamingo, The Mapleton and The Lyceum.

From these routes the modernist scene emerged developed into the early 60's and is still alive and well today. They were young men and women in various cities and towns throughout the country that were in love with the American style. They loved soul music and the Ivy League look of America. Wing-tip brogues, Sta Prest trousers and Brooks Brothers shirts. John Simons opened Clothesville in Hackney, East London and then The Ivy Shop in Richmond in the early sixties. They are arguably the most influential menswear shop this country has seen and continues to trade to this day at J. Simons in Covent Garden. During the early days of The Ivy Shop there was another scene that was developing in Carnaby Street.

The press and media eventually caught on to this as Simons said in February 2005: "It was Clothesville and the Ivy Shop that defined the mod look.
"We had working class guys coming down from the East End and West London who were influenced by American culture, clothes and music.
"By the time the Carnaby Street mods had hit the news the main characters had moved on."

As R&B bands such as The Who gave patronage to the Carnaby Street mods it was the events on Brighton Beach that alerted the media to this new trend amongst youngsters.

However there had been disturbances earlier at Clacton.

As the academic Cohen said in his seminal book Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers 30th Anniversary Edition: “The one that was to set the pattern for all the others and give the phenomenon its distinctive shape, was not Brighton, but Clacton, a small holiday resort on the east coast of England.

"It has never been as affluent and popular as Brighton and has traditionally become the gathering place for tougher adolescents from the East End and north-eastern suburbs of London."

Although the events at Clacton were recorded in the Daily Mirror of 30 March 1964 it had been ignored by most and it wasn’t until it entered the lives of the wealthy inhabitants of Brighton in May 1967 that it was reported in the mass media.

It may be argued that the reporting of these events was another case of the media introducing the concept of moral panic as they worked in collusion with the police and society to include moral panic in the general hegemony.

The press and television had no excuse for in 1959 Colin MacInnes published what was to become one of the greatest cult novels of our time: Absolute Beginners. MacInnes recorded events in the capital during 1958 through the eyes of a teenage photographer. From hence on it can be seen that people are chronicling events of teenagers - and nearly always working-class teenagers - but it is mainly from the left field. Few pick up on events at the time but are later embrace the music film and writing by which time as John Simons says: "The main characters had moved on."

By 1969 these "characters" had moved on as the lifestyle of this particular type of working class male had moved onto what the media were to christen skinheads. They again had been slow to jump onto the scene and again they only focused on the negative aspects of the latest cult. Skinheads were portrayed as racist thugs ignoring the fact that much of the image was taken from Jamaican immigrants and the music that was popular was the early reggae sounds emanating from that island.
Away from the press the movement was rarely chronicled in other areas of the media. The pulp books of Richard Allen: Skinhead, Suedehead and others were eagerly consumed by schoolboys but received no critical acclaim.
Ironically the books are now being reassessed and original copies are changing hands on auction sites for large sums.

By the end of the seventies and with the country in economic turmoil the musical revolution that was Punk Rock captured the media's attention. The movement was embraced by people from all classes yet away from this a new exclusively working class, exclusively male tribe emerged. And it emerged in Liverpool; that most political city that likes to stand apart from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Gangs of young men began travelling abroad to watch Liverpool Football Club in the European Cup competition and over the next few years began bringing items of European sportswear, especially training shoes, that were unavailable in the United Kingdom. A code of dressing developed as fashions changed on an almost weekly basis.

As this was the first youth movement that was exclusively based around football the various styles traversed the country as various football teams’ supporters visited other towns and cities. Styles differed between towns yet the defining factor was that, even though numbers were growing, many people including the media were unaware of what was happening under their noses as young men bought (or acquired) expensive sportswear and designer wear.

The eighties heralded a much more “savvy” media as magazines such as The Face, Blitz and ID emerged to commentate on the burgeoning New Romantic scene. The Face that was launched by Nick Logan’s Wagadon company in May 1980 is often looked upon as the “80s fashion bible” and while there is no doubt it was closer to the mindset of the youth it again fell short when reporting trends among working class males.

It wasn't until The Face's Issue 22 of 1983 that they addressed the topic: a full five years after the early stirrings on the streets of Liverpool and other towns and cities in the north west of England. The newspapers were unaware of this underground culture and were genuinely amazed when Millwall supporters in designer clothes attacked the police at Luton in 1985.

By then the early protagonists in Liverpool were listening to Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa and clothing wise had "scruffed down": denim shirts, desert boots, tweed and wax jackets. Money that a few years earlier was spent on clothes was now being spent on music and drugs - as Phil Thornton recalled in Casuals.

This cult - that has no name - continues to this day.

By looking at this particular strain of working class males over the last fifty years it can be seen that this never-ending, always changing world of clothes, music and an occasional penchant for violence passes from one generation to another. The dress codes are passed by word of mouth. To the outsider there is no logic on why skinheads wore Dr Marten boots or why the label-obsessed football fans appropriated old English clothing companies such as Aquascutum and Barbour. And there is no bigger outsider than the media!

This section of the general public is rarely reported at the time and each era is only generally reported favourably when the participants at the time have entered their 30s or 40s and themselves have positions within the media. It is almost exclusively reported retrospectively. If it isn't then it is always the negative aspects that are reported. Hence mods - in the mainstream media's view - will always be seen fighting rockers on the beach at Brighton, skinheads will be racist thugs and football casuals - as they are known - will always be hooligans. The fact that many men - now in their 60s continue to live a modernist lifestyle with no ill-effects is ignored. Rare Jamaican reggae and northern soul vinyl exchange hands for extortionate amounts and the person stood next to you in the pub is probably wearing at least one item of designer clothing.

As for the future with the advent of the internet the reporting may be more instant. Whether it will be accurately reported is up to question. With hoodies and ASBOs being the latest folk devils and Shameless a television ratings success it may appear that things are merging together a little quicker. However Shameless first hit the screens in 2004 while the critically-acclaimed novel - that hugely influences Shameless creator Paul Abbott - Low Life by Mike Duff was published in 2000.

The film of Low Life is currently in development. It will be interesting to see when it is completed and how the book will be covered.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Excuse me, can I just have two minutes of your time Sir?

Now as you may or may not know, I got married during the close season (that’s the bit in-between last season and this season). As a result of this I’ve made a pledge to my fellow writers/sellers/ne’er do wells at Mudhuts Towers. I’ve made the same promise to my close friends and family, and it’s this. It’s that I will spend less time getting bent out of shape about the activities of others. No more will I get hypertensive and tachycardic at fucking idiots whose mere existence is seemingly set to serve one purpose and one purpose alone. That being to make my life in-fucking-tolerable!

You can drop your chewing gum on the pavement, I care not a jot. Be my guest and slurp your coffee and chomp your food like a scruffy dick, not a problem. You can even let me hold the door open in the local chemist whilst putting the pram with my daughter in it to one side to allow you in with your pram. Then, as I expect a return of the compliment or even a simple thanks, you can just walk through, letting the door shut on me and my daughter as you saunter away, unaware of my kindness let alone my existence.

You know what? I’m okay with it all, I am unfazed by anything that life has to throw at me. Why would I be? I’m a newly wed and the new season is here, what more could I want?

However, whilst walking through town the other day this do-gooder felt the need to ask me a question. Now it wasn’t something offensive, or for that matter was it something that I hadn’t been asked before. In fact I’ve grown all too accustomed to being asked the same bastard question over and over.

“Excuse me, can I just have two minutes of your time please Sir?”

“No you fucking well can’t as it happens!” I retorted in my mind, as I deftly manoeuvred myself away with all the grace of a young Rudolf Nureyev to get to Wigan Wallgate and on my train.

The only two minutes you’ll be getting sunny jim will be the two minutes needed to put my fucking size 12’s on your head in Wigan baths and end your constant questioning. What is it with these people that they feel the need to assault me every time I try to get from A to B across my own town?

You see my friends I’m not a mean spirited man. Moi? Non! I’m all for charity but not when I get hassled to involve myself in it every fucking day. Not only that, but the whoppers who are trying to acquire my business are reason enough not to give to charity again. If it’s not some idiot being whacky in a fucking rubber suit, then it’s some scruffy student with fuck all better to do. Only maybe getting a job would be a good idea eh you work shy fop? But why would you bother to do that when you can get me to pay taxes to fund your fucking fees, whilst you sit up the student bar supping bitter that I have paid for whilst you slag me off for not signing up to the charity you’re representing in a piss poor manner!!
Standing there with your “MIND” t-shirt on with no fucking knowledge about what you’re talking about. I would fucking love to say “here pal, MIND this” as I throw your tub of natural yoghurt and cucumber in your scabby, bum fluffed bearded fucking face. THAT I’M FUCKING PAYING FOR!

And it doesn’t stop there. No my friends, that’s only the beginning, the real fun starts when you get to work. It’s “I’m collecting for this. . . .” or “I’m doing a sponsored shitathon for the fluoridisation of Zimbabwean political prisoners of conscience fucking teeth”. It never, ever, ends. . . and how enthused we all are that we can do our bit, whether we want to or not. Like I said I have nothing against charity. . . . . . . .

On the theme of work I must mention the fucking collection. Some bastards will collect for anything. You’ve hurt your leg playing football? Let’s start a collection. You’ve just become a parent? Let’s start a collection. You’ve trapped your cock in your zip? Let’s start a fucking collection! I’ve recently stopped collecting my wages and have asked for them to be divided equally between my colleagues, so they can pay for presents for the sufferers of broken nails and for a fresh water well in Leigh.

I shouldn’t complain though. The collection they got together at work for my wedding gift netted me £200 and I’m sat wearing most of it whilst I’m typing this. Well they do say charity begins at home.

Dirrrrty “the honeymoon’s over” Old Man

Harry Pearson Interview

“The Far Corner” by Harry Pearson is in my top ten favourite football books, a very funny affectionate look at North East football from the Premiership to the non league minnows. The lower league chapters are a real joy and Harry as a wonderful eye for the characters that punctuate these little grounds.
It was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in 1995 and is still a popular choice for the discerning reader today. Harry Pearson is a columnist for the Guardian newspaper and has contributed to the magazine When Saturday Comes for 20yrs. He has written six books “Achtung Schweinehund”, “Dribble”, Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows” A Tall Man in a Low Land”, “Around the World by Mouse” and of course “The Far Corner”
His hobbies include supporting Middlesborough, collecting board games and war gaming.
I managed to get in touch with Harry and he very kindly agreed to be interviewed despite being snowed under with work. Still what’s the Beijing Olympics when you have an exclusive with the world famous Mudhutter?

How old were you when you first starting watching Middlesbrough?
I was six. My Uncle Les took me to see Boro v Carlisle. It was Boxing Day and all the seats were sold so we had to stand in the Holgate End. I was a truly appalling whinger as a child and by half-time my complaints that my legs were aching and that I couldn’t see and was cold were so pitiful and irritating that my uncle took me home.

Do you miss Ayresome Park?
Yes. It’s an odd thing that having spent most of the late-1980s campaigning for better grounds and facilities for fans I now miss a ramshackle shed and a chance to wade through ankle deep urine. Oh and the bloody PA at the Riverside is too loud an’ all.

Who was your favourite player?
When I was a child Big John Hickton the Boro centre-forward. His penalty run up started from the centre circle.

Have you ever been to Wigan ?
Well, yes, because my partner Catherine’s family – the Gaskells - are all from Ince or thereabouts. They’re more rugby league though, and any time a stranger turns up immediately start haranguing them about how much better Wigan are than St Helens.

What are your thoughts on the current Premier League, do you think that eventually one of the bigger teams will go bust?
Like pretty much everybody else over 40 I think its bloated and over-hyped and pompous and arrogant and full of its own importance and (continues on page 94). It’s got out of control really. As to a big club going bust I can’t see that happening. Let’s hope I’m wrong, eh?

Do you still go to watch non league football?
Yes, I try and go to a couple of matches a season at least. It always restores my faith in football. Last season I took a German friend of mine to watch Blyth Spartans. He’s a doctor and at halftime said, “These guys are incredible. There were four times in the first fifteen minutes when I thought, “After that tackle that man will never walk again” and yet 30 seconds later he was running around as if nothing had happened. They are the true heroes not the superstars.” And I agree with that. Plus the abuse is generally of a more eccentric standard. And there’s a raffle for meat.

Did your writing career start off with the club fanzine?
No, I started off writing for When Saturday Comes in about 1988.

Were you approached by the Guardian or did you apply to them?
They approached me. It was when Juninho and Ravanelli were at Boro and they wanted an article about the effect it had had on Teesside. That was actually a very busy time for Boro fans mediawise. I remember I even got phoned up for an interview by a bloke from the Wall Street Journal – not something that would have happened in the days of Stuart Boam.

The Far Corner is one of my favourite football books, did it take long to write?

It was written over the course of the season and I think had to be delivered on something like 30th May, so all told it was about ten months from start to finish. In those days I still wrote on an automatic typewriter, so I used to write it all out in pencil first and then type it.

How many copies has it sold?
I’m not sure. I guess around 30,000. It’s been in print now for 13 years and it still sells about 5-600 copies a year.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Once I realised my dreams of being a footballer, racing driver and astronaut were not going to come to anything, yes.

When did you first become interested in wargaming?
I guess when I was about thirteen. About the time I should have been taking my first tentative steps towards romance. Airfix was less scary.

How many soldiers etc do you have?
Oh, not many. Certainly no more than 10,000.

Do you have huge battlefields as well?
You have to have, otherwise you wouldn’t fit them all on. Last Christmas we fought the Battle of the Granicus which was Alexander the Great’s first encounter with the Persians. We had a table that was thirteen feet long and the Persian army stretched from one end of it all the way to the other. Sadly, it’s the only area of my life where I’ve actually realised all my youthful dreams.

Do you have any favourite troops?
I like the ancient world. The Carthaginians are my favourites. Who doesn’t like Hannibal?

How often do you take part in the games?
Once a month. Wargaming is like cricket. It takes a lot of organising and it goes on for a long time (and most people find it incredibly boring/pointless).

How long have you been collecting football board games?
Only for about five or six years. Unfortunately eBay makes collecting anything rather too easy…

What’s the most you have paid for one?
I paid £48 for a copy of TAF 4-2-4 which is a bit like Subutteo only the players are mounted on wedge shaped bases and the tackling is done with dice. It came out in the sixties and I remember the adverts in Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.

Do you have any favourites?
I like the German game Tipp Kick quite a lot and Tomy Supercup is brilliant if a bit noisy. In terms of genuine boardgames –a opposed to dexterity games – all the best known ones are pretty useless. Wembley and Soccerboss have nice graphics but the games are just dice rolling. There’s no skill and not much decision making either.

Which one do you consider to be the best?The best actual boardgame is probably a game from Holland called Street Soccer. It has a chess like quality as you might expect from the Dutch. There’s a rugby game from South Africa called Crash Tackle, which is the best boardgame about a non-racing sport I’ve played.

Do you play the games with your friends/family?
We have a board game group that meets once a month and we play various games. Our favourite is Blood Feud In New York, which is a bit like Risk only with the Mafia. There’s something uplifting about watching a local GP battling for control of the drug trade in Queens with a piano teacher.

What does your wife think of your collection?
As long as it never comes out of my office she doesn’t mind. Actually she can see the practical side of it. A couple of years ago when we needed a new car I sold 3,000 Napoleonic soldiers and – hey presto - we had enough to buy a VW Golf.

Any more books in the pipeline?
I’ve got a book about taking the dog for a walk – Hound Dog Days – coming out on September 4th.

Thanks to Harry Pearson for agreeing to the interview, top bloke and a great writer. As for me I’m off to buy “Tipp Kick” and “Blood Feud in New York” anyone up for a game?

Tony Topping


It’s not often we praise the French at Mudhuts (K21 Excepted) but we have to say Coup de Grace’s tee shirts are the best we’ve seen this summer. In a sea of Henleys and Gio Goi shite they are set to drop their latest collection of tees which carry the same strong imagery which has made the brand so revered and respected. Among the topics making their way into the t-shirt are Notorious B.I.G., Brazilian underwear model Lima, the Civil Rights movement, Miami and Paris. Available now for pre-order at

Here are some more detailed images and the official blurb. Magnifique!

Coup De Grace - pronounced [kuh-de-grah], means "blow of mercy" in French. The term is used to describe the deathblow intended to end suffering of a mortally wounded creature and is figuratively used to describe the act which brings about the end of some entity.
Coup De Grace offers diverse ways of thinking through visual design in apparel. Music, media, sports and individualism around daily issues inspire the team behind CDG. Coup De Grace is a lifestyle brand that is dedicated to unique views to everyday situations.

Cool runnings and a natural mystic blowing

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just apart of it
We’ve got to fulfil the book
Won’t you help me sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause they all I ever had Redemption songs Redemption songs
Redemption songs

It was his last appearance In the United Kingdom. Unbeknown to the crowd Bob Marley was suffering from cancer that he famously contracted while playing football. Marley In his adidas playing the game he loved In a country that loved him. But on that warm June day In South London the crowd - that had to endure Q-Tips led by a Paul Young that would later become a big star, shuffle to Joe Jackson and then dance to the AWB - took Marley and his Wailers Into their hearts. A great, great gig where the ganja floated through the air as Bob sang: "There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air”, and then when he stood alone with his guitar, the park hushed and Marley started the glorious Redemption Song - religious (almost) majestic definitely


NO. 76: B*WITCHED First there was the Spice Girls, who spawned the loathsome, evil Posh Spice, who made her fella get shit tattoos and wear a gypsy pensioner’s clothes, to be copied by a million wankers in pub beer gardens up and down the country and now lives in LA whoring around events with film stars. But there were many many others, some of which may have had some genuine talent, but suffered because they weren’t fronted by a load of mouthy crack whores.

Let’s not kid ourselves, they had fuck all talent but were capable of generating a lower half twitch when you were lying in bed on a Sunday morning watching The Box – music television you control.

B*witched were Irish, probably still are for that matter. They hit the charts in 1998 with a top ten smash ‘C’est la vie!’ – Wow they’re Irish – yet they speak français as well!! You couldn’t say that any of them were stunners, the blonde one obviously worth a slice, the curly haired one: well obv but she looked more Albanian than from Dublin’s fair city. The two hogging all the action were indeed the band’s redeeming grace: TWINS!! Even though they had the misfortune to be sister to ex-Boyzone ‘star’ Shane Lynch and had chins that you could balance pint pots on, the fact that they were twins more than made up for it. Before you knew it, the pair of them were in bed with you, one either side saying ‘What are you like!’ in their cheeky Irish brogue as they were wont to do in their effervescent, flowery videos.

After a succession of mid chart hits, the girls got dropped by their record company, although according to Wikipedia, the sisters re-formed as a duo and can now be found playing the pub, clubs and student unions of their native Ireland. Tough times no doubt but I’m sure the feisty Dublin duo will manage to ‘stand up and fight like their da’!!


Every year there is some light humoured tabloid article about the colloquialisms which have found their way into every day speak and into the stuffy old Oxford English dictionary. From chavs to wheelies to no doubt donkey punch and dogging, it must be with a heavy heart that the old dodderers of Oxbridge are forced to tow the line with the 21st century greed and speed generation. What is lesser known is that there is also a visual equivalent to cover the field of human motion and activities, commonly referred to as the JUG’s (Journal of Unknown Gyrations) as here is a sample of the most recent entries:

The Mobile Walk
Keep still you bastard! I got disciplined for shouting this out of an office window last year to a gentlemen who I had watched pace around and around in a circle whilst on his mobile phone one fine summer’s day last year. There’s also another bald Brummie who constantly yaps away on his phone a few yards away from me and as soon as his moby goes he gets up from his desk and walks and talks in circular motion and like one of those submarine sensors he comes in and out of my radar and how I long to leave my own desk and fly at him with the mother of all haymakers and a verbal assault along the lines of ‘Can you not just sit at your desk while you make that fucking phone call, it’s hardly confidential as half the office can hear you? Some of us are trying to surf the internet in peace!’ Also found on trains and outside public houses.

Blackberry Flick

Usually found at airports or on the tube, these things never beep or bleep despite all the incessant fucking fiddling it’s owner is doing mainly because they aren’t really that important. But hey don’t they feel the big man or woman when waving it around. The Blackberry is a status symbol every Office Ted aspires to whereas most decent folk who have the misfortune to own one prefer to turn the fucker off and read the free Metro paper on their way home instead of constantly whirring away on this piece of shit whilst pretending to be a big cheese. Nob cheese more like, put it away – you’re only playing the bloody games half the time away. So you’ve got an email, no-one died – get a life. Ideal for the boss who fucks off from the office at 5 every day and can then by seen as conscientiously ‘working late’ by his bosses and team as he sends some random emails while sat on the bog in his local pub at 10pm.

Satnav juggle
Aren’t Satnav’s great, some sexy female voice telling people exactly where to go, erm well no, they’re not much use at all really by the time you get close to where you need to get to the battery normally goes and the driver, far from concentrating on the road, is fiddling like mad with the fucker as it’s gone on the blink again as their hands undertake a movement first seen in Black Lace’s Agadoo video accompanied by a pair of Maracas.

The Eyetie eyeball
Usually spotted on motorways, this is the bulging eyed action one motorist bestows upon another who has dared to pull into his space. Usually this was involve some pinstripe suited twat who is clearly speeding in his company beamer and a 78 gentlemen has pulled into the fast lane after having spent the last 20 miles indicating to take over a milk float. This brings on the wild, rabid eyes, fists banging on the steering wheel, arms flailing up and down and cut-throat gestures to the poor bewildered pensioner who has dared to make the cunt of a salesman twenty seconds later for his conference in Coventry.

The Scissor sister sashay
Performed by metrosexuals in offices and shopping centres everywhere, they are usually carrying a coffee carton and wearing a scarf. They don’t walk like normal people do, oh no their walk says ‘I’m smart, I’m confident, my body language tells you exactly who’s boss and I’m officially of the smugometer scale. I’ve been on courses to perfect this you know and it’s what makes me better than you. Common cure for this behaviour is a pint glass in the face but the power walkers rarely drink anywhere which serves drinks in anything above 250ml measures.

Alan Sugar finger

Me mum always told me it’s rude to point but point people do and all the frigging time. It seems that courtesy is a scarce commodity and pointing is now the new speaking for lazy bastards everywhere. I just pity the poor bird somewhere whom during the Apprentice found herself on the receiving end of her wacky wayward boyfriend who doubt thought it’d be funny to dump her by pointing the finger and saying ‘I’m sorry Shazza, I’ve made my decision and you’re fired!’


Welcome to the first in a new series where your correspondent drives around dogshit estates with the petrol light flashing on his car and cacks himself in the process….
This month: Wythenshawe

I get bored when stuck in traffic so sometimes I just end up driving somewhere. Anywhere for that matter. I don’t like big posh houses with finely manicured lawns or faceless industrial estates and I really fucking loathe the block after block of soul-less apartments clogging our country up. What I like to see is ropey pubs and boarded up houses on rough as fuck council estates. Don’t ask me why I just do.

South Manchester is a fair old mish mash of the above. Centred around the sprawling Manchester Airport, there are prosperous areas such as Wilmslow, Cheadle and Alderley Edge (NB WAG Wannabes Brazingamens is currently boarded up and states that it will be opening ‘Summer 2008??’ as Panacea) but it was the riot torn shithole that is Wythenshawe that attracted me on this current date. The biggest council estate in Europe wasn’t it once so claimed? Like most people I have seen Wythenshawe from the air and I’d also been here once before for a job interview at the Co-Op and can recall the concrete jungle shopping centre. Why would any town have to emblazon in massive letters the words ‘TOWN CENTRE’ on a building??

On arrival into Wythenshawe from the Southern side, I am greeted with pleasant leafy suburbs and a massive Brewers Fayre type establishment, followed by a big school and some respectable semi’s. As I pass the town centre on my right, it is a monstrosity but looks to be clean and functional if not spectacular. The standard of neighbourhood thus far looks highly respectable with one or two locals possessing the gormless ‘Shameless’ demeanour but overall quite pleasing on the eye, especially some young student bird at the pedestrian crossing listening to her Ipod.

I them start to espy to my left a few council type houses, several of which appear to have been boarded up and/or burnt down, there is also a mid-tier tower block on my right. Not quite Jasmine Allen on The Bill standards of degradation but one of those ‘ex local authority’ types they try to flog to young professionals and end up full of Albanian waiters. However, upon passing through the town, I reach a T-junction and take a right into Newall Green. Green implies pastures, cricket stumps and children rolling around and enduring play flights on balmy summer’s days and nights.

Fuck me, it’s bad. Newall Green is one scary place. It starts when you approach the Newall Green pub (think Flam in it’s pomp) with it’s metal railings over the windows and every single shop at just gone Friday teatime is covered over with shutters to stop the Shameless doppelgangers climbing in. The road dips down past some bright yellow council houses with horrendous corrugated roofs, like the old upside down houses in Scholes and to my right there are massive sprawling flats which are known as the Parkway Green Housing Trust. There’s no way I’d trust any fcker who lives on here looking at some of the shady looking residents. You wouldn’t put your dog in one of these houses and as I cruise past I sneakily push the lock on my car door as I am forced to slow down as I pass row after row of corrugated iron maisonettes all with callow youths loitering outside. I can’t speed up as there is a backlog of cars in front of me, a couple of nice shiny Meganes are getting slowed up by a gang of lads on bikes. They are cycling in front of the cars and weaving in and out of the traffic. They’re grabbing hold of the cars and banging on the roofs and scaring the shit out of the drivers. They might know them I tell myself and might just be having a laugh with the driver. Then the hoods go up and the seven or so ride in formation behind their leader, flanking the cars as they snake their way past the shitty housing. They are whooping and hollering and before I know it I’ve got an ugly mug grinning at my car window wittering some illegible Manc gibberish as my sphincter tightens up even further and you’ve guessed it – on comes the petrol light. I’ve got my flashiest work suit on and it’s fair to say my arse would be mincemeat if I had to walk through this parish with a petrol can in me hand.

I reach a parade of shops (sun bed shop, offy, the rest boarded up) and there are a mob of lads and girls enjoying this ceremony of intimidation, the hoodies take up position again giving abuse and hitching rides on the first car and one does the ‘smoking gun in the air’ gesture. My ordeal is over I think as I approach another T junction I can see an even more shitty estate up ahead and the BMX terrors fire off through it along a path way.

I am now completely lost and the signs give me no idea as to whether left or right will guide me to sanctuary. I turn right and see a sign for an industrial estate. Shit, everyone knows that there’s only one way in and out of industrial estates. The likelihood of adding my name to Britain’s knife victim statistics might be low in a welding firm but as the night draws in it probably means I’m going to have to re-trace my steps just in time for the hoodies to play their game again going back the other way with me at the front this time!! There’s also more cream painted tower blocks on my right and bugger all sign of any civilisation, let alone a petrol station. Thankfully, I spot a bus up ahead. That’s the one good thing around buses: they’re always going somewhere and soon I find myself edging closer towards the comparatively sedate area of Northern Moor and I see a signpost for Timperley and Altrincham, places where I believe there may be less of a chance that I might get dragged out of the car at any point in time and stabbed to death for not being local. I then spot the bastion of all civilisation, a 24 hour Tesco. There is quite honestly the biggest mob of scrotes I have ever seen congregating on the forecourt of Tesco and a massive queue for petrol like people cannot wait the get away from the dump I have just passed through.

So through Altrincham, I spot a cracking looking Holts boozer and am back amongst the shiny office blocks and retail parks with my trousers only moderately soiled. Wythenshawe did meet my expectations of being a shithole, I was slightly disappointed as to not have dropped on Benchill which is where a young un got caught on camera making gun gestures to David Cameron. There is always next time though as I ponder whereabouts in the North West I meander through the next time I wish to view some socially deprived housing and risk getting dragged out of my car and getting my head stamped on by some ASBO and his bird.

Fucked off with the place?

Wigan is a large town in Greater Manchester (wiki) Full of junk, high on speed, fucked on beak and zonked on weed. Fucking hell, what a town I live in. I pass a kiddo every morning with his bottle of cider and a mixture. Stood looking into the canal. Used to say “hello” to me but not now. That was a month or so back. But now he’s gone. Away with fairies. Away with the scrotes. Found some woman crashed out in a hedge down that canal path one morning. Asleep to the world with just the nettles for company. Picked up her bag. It was heavy with three bottles of cider. Cheap at half the price. Three for the price of one. Does the math work out? Who cares – she didn’t.

Pass the scrotes on mountain bikes at three in the morning, screaming and shouting and hustling and jibbing. Outside the Wigan Substance misuse drop-in centre. A centre that is housed in the old red brick building that once housed the mining and technical college. The mines are gone - the technicians with them. Kids get record results but it doesn’t show. Maybe it’s just the peacock parade around this town and it’s new shopping centre. And the fucks and blinds that come from such young lips and their appalling fashion sense – of a fashion. And those that are genuinely clever fuck off to university never to return. For there is no reason to return. This and other towns that are on their arse. And as the councilors and bigwigs and football chairman and industry do’ers and givers and “all is well” report the press that is in their pocket and the police toil away or so we are told as we never see them. Whilst in their bedrooms the young and not so young communicate in a language unknown to man if not msn and facebook their mate’s mum and threaten and bully and act the Mr Big and they are not big.

This town isn’t big. It is small. Small-minded and sad. There are worse places we are told. Are there?

Lon Chaney: Man of a thousand faces

Lon Chaney was born on the 1st of April 1886 in Colorado; he went on to become one of the greatest character actors the silver screen has ever seen. He was the definite Phantom of the Opera and played the hunchback Quasimodo to perfection. He did his own stage makeup and earned the nickname “The man of a thousand faces."

This is his story.

Lon Chaney was born to deaf and dumb parents and was only able to communicate with them by sign language. The other children in the neighbourhood mocked Lon’s parents and he was so distressed by his parents suffering that he refused to speak until he was 8yrs old. For the rest of his life he sympathised with the downtrodden and afflicted and he was at his best portraying misfits and outcasts. At around 10yrs old he quit school to care for his bed ridden mother and to pass the time he would do pantomime to entertain her. His ability to mimic other people stood him in good stead throughout the rest of his life.

He got a job as a tourist guide taking people around Pikes Peak a local landmark. He went on to work in a variety of others roles including decorator, draper and cowboy!

He eventually got a job in theatre albeit painting stage scenery after his older brother had pulled some strings at the Colorado Springs Opera House where he worked.
Inspired by the many acts he saw he eventually went on tour as an actor in a play he had co-written with his brother, he was 19-years-old.
Three years later he fell head over heels in love and married 16yr old Cleva Creighton a singer with the troupe. In 1906, their only child Creighton Chaney was born; he also enjoyed success in the movies in later life under the screen name Lon Chaney Jnr.
The next few years were really tough for the family and the marriage began to fall apart. It all came to a head in a dramatic fashion when Cleva attempted suicide on stage, drinking the poisonous mercury bio chloride. She survived the attempt but her vocal chords were so badly damaged that she would never sing again.

It was a terrible scandal and it ended in divorce in 1915, sadly little Creighton was taken away and put into a home “The Home for Children of Divorce & Disaster”
Lon turned away from the theatre and sought work in the fast growing world of silent movies. A friend got him a job as a bit part actor at Universal Studios and a legend was born. In those days bit part players would hang around waiting for work in a “bullpen” Assistant directors would come to these pens and ask if anybody could play a particular role. Lon quickly learned to adapt to different roles and guarantee himself more work; his legendary makeup box enabled him to change like a chameleon.

His son Lon Chaney Jnr explained how this came about “He used to sit in this bullpen and they would come and shout `Anybody here play a college boy? ` and Dad would say `Yeah I can play a college kid` sometimes they would shout `Anybody play a Chinaman?` and nobody ever could so Dad got together a makeup kit and the next time they asked for a Chinaman he would shout `Yeah I can do it` and he would use his makeup box. That way he got to appear in three or four pictures a day”

Lon also got married again in November 1915 to a chorus girl Hazel Hastings and Chaney Jnr left the children’s home to live with them. Over the next three years he appeared in over a hundred films but he was only being paid $5 a day. Eventually he approached the studio manager, William Sistrom, and asked for a raise of $125 a week and a five year contract. Sistrom looked at Chaney and said “I know a good actor when I see one but looking at you I only see a washout” Understandably upset Chaney walked off the set and the family struggled over the next few months. Chaney returned to menial jobs to make ends meet and that could have been the end of his film career but for the intervention of western actor William S. Hart who cast Chaney as a villain in one of his pictures. Chaney’s career really took off after this and in 1919 he excelled in the film “The Miracle Man” when he played a cripple. His next major success came with “The Penalty” in which Chaney played a legless criminal. It was in this film that Chaney displayed his almost masochistic approach to acting but it wouldn’t be his last. In order to portray the amputee Chaney designed a leather harness which bound his feet against his thighs and enabled him to walk on his knees. The pain was excruciating and cut circulation to his legs resulting in broken blood vessels.

Then in 1923 came the part that would propel Chaney to worldwide fame, Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” For this role Chaney wore a rubber hump weighing 70lbs. This was attached to a harness that made it impossible to stand erect. Doctors warned him not to wear the harness for more than a few minutes as it would cause irreparable damage but he often wore it for over an hour at a time. He suffered with back pain for the rest of his life. He also wore a flesh covered rubber suit covered with animal hair and the heat was almost unbearable, Chaney was again suffering for his art.

Phantom of the Opera
Arguably his greatest ever role was as the terrifying Erik in “The Phantom of the Opera”(1925) He took makeup artistry to a new level and created a monster that had women fainting in the cinema aisles. The scene where the girl (Mary Philbin) creeps up behind the phantom and removes his mask is one of the most terrifying moments in movie history. Chaney pushed hairpins up his nose to widen his nostrils, wore false teeth that cut his gums and had wires protruding to pull back his lips. He also had celluloid discs in his mouth to distort his cheekbones. His place in movie immortality was secured.

In 1927 in appeared in a film that would be the Holy Grail to film enthusiasts throughout the world “London after Midnight” the most sought after lost classic of all time. All we have today are a few stills which give a tantalising glimpse of what may have been Chaney’s finest hour. Enthusiasts still search for a copy of this film today.
He was now a superstar and was up there with the other stars of the 1920s Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford, Valentino & Swanson. A popular saying of the day was “Don’t step on it, it may be Lon Chaney!”

London after Midnight

He had the world at his feet but he remained a shy quiet man who shunned publicity and liked the simple things in life like cooking and photography. He always kept his makeup secrets to himself and even had bodyguards watch over his makeup box while he was on set. Sadly it was all to end a mere three years later. Chaney began to have trouble with his throat in 1929 and whilst filming “Thunder” he got a piece of artificial snow stuck in his throat and this aggravated the condition. Chaney had an operation to remove his tonsils but it continued to trouble him. Then in 1930 he was given a part in his first talking picture. He was filled with dread as were many other silent stars, not surprising given the amount of careers that were ended by the “talkies” He needn’t have worried he was a success and he even imitated five other speaking parts in the movie, an old woman, a ventriloquist and his dummy, a girl and even a parrot! It was to be his last film.
His throat was getting worse and he saw specialists who discovered that he had bronchial cancer. He found it increasingly difficult to talk and his last spoken words were to ask for a cigarette. In a bizarre twist he spent the last days of his life as he had begun it, communicating by sign language. On the 6th of August 1930 he indicated to his nurse that he was going and died from a throat haemorrhage. He was 47yrs old.
MGM studios stopped production and a period of silence was ordered. Fans all over the world mourned his passing. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in California and his crypt to this day remains unmarked.

Lon Chaney Man of a Thousand Faces

Tony Topping


Threw a lucky 7
and it blew you off your feet
who would have guessed two 7’s
wins a prize to God, to meet.

Such a fucking waste
such a fucking crime
such a pointless way to die
away ahead of time.

Just on the way to work
to earn an honest crust
now just a mere statistic
of politically spun dust.

Where there’s muck…..

Brass bands, just what is the point? I could never work it out but finding myself holed up in Kirkby Lonsdale on a Sunday afternoon I found the constant parping and oompahing strangely soothing. How very British: the walking day, the smiling policeman and the furtive traffic wardens, the chippy, the dodgy burger van and the kaleidoscope of umbrellas going up and then down as the briefest glimpse of sunshine appears.

I can see why Father Jack likes it but it must be an old person’s domain. Plus brass bands must almost exclusively be a Northern thing. You can’t imagine hordes of pensioners descending on say Swindon or Basingstoke to listen to a load of ruddy faced gentlemen and big bosomed, frilly knickered fat girls puffing and blowing away into a piece of metal. And as we retired to the pub we got the full SP as to the kind of person who performs in a brass band, as they sat there in their team huddle on the next table nursing their lemonades. They always wear their official band blazers as well which only come in three fetching colours: maroon, brown or green. Eurgh! Anyway, let’s meet the band….

1) Middle aged Mable. Chubby ‘girl’ with long hair in pig tails and wears glasses but has gone beyond that age where women should have long hair. Think that horrible Bunty off the appalling Catherine Tate Show. Has never blown anything other than an instrument and would have no life if it wasn’t for the band. Wears mid-length skirts coupled with hideous tights and it’s just as well you can’t see all the way up as David Bellamy appears to be living in there. Excessively loud and has extensive knowledge as to the standard of buffet pork pies at Wetherby summer fete.

2) The Sergeant Major. The main man, nobody told him the war was over. Treats every performance like a military operation and a victory and bitches incessantly about those buffoons from the next village. Fond of real ale and possess a surfeit of facial hair which has been groomed since birth. Has a wife twice as fat as him but never lets her out, she spends all her time in the kitchen making cheese from her own breast milk.

3) The Clark Kent. Every band must have one, a clean bespectacled fresh faced (well OK them in possession of an ample expanse of facial acne) youth who has somehow got roped into it while the rest of his class mates at school are out happy slapping and bumming teenage mums. Wanks incessantly, usually over 1) above. He will probably turn into a decent boozy, football loving when his voice finally breaks, at which point he’ll be 32.

4)The DS Kid. I can’t possibly reveal what DS stands for, you’ll have to work it out but again a staple member of each troop, looking smart as fuck grinning anyway in his full band regalia.

5) The fat controller. Senile benefactor who spends all week by wandering around his country estate making ‘pom pom pom pom’ noises in anticipation of watching a load of oddballs wearing shit ties invade market squares on a Sunday afternoon when most sane people are in the pub

Let it Fry

The planet’s over heating
and I couldn’t give a shit
I’m sick of don’t do that,
fed up of must do this.

I’m tired of recycling
and your different fucking bins
Don’t put it in that one,
separate the glass from tins.

Turn your heating down,
fuck you I’ve turned mine up
and I’ve left on all my lighting
just to piss you off.

So save your fucking preaching
cause I’ve bigger fish to fry
The planets fine and so am I
fuck off, curl up and die.


Pointless endings

You could talk about it
but you’d rather knife him first.
Is it due to ignorance,
or is it unquenched thirst?

To see his life’s blood spill away
and run into the drain,
another pointless slaughter,
another Mothers pain.

Another young life ended
before it had begun.
One more headline story,
soon forgotten and soon gone.

The miracle of life
so needlessly cut down,
because you chose to end it
and slash life to the ground.

Too late to talk about it
too late to put it right.
Another young soul lost,
to his final sleep of life.