I'm not a grumpy old man, just an out of synch hippy

Friday, 29 March 2013


Customer Questionnaire

To improve our services to you, this blog would appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to complete this questionnaire.

Your visit does really matter to us.

Your age                           Young and fresh             Old and fagged out      
Your gender                      Female              Male                   Undecided

How did you come across this blog?
            By sheer, pig-awful bad luck   
I was looking for a sausage cooking website called Burnt Baby Banger and miskeyed this one by mistake
Tony Kirwood owes me £10, 000 and I’m trying to trace the bastard

How useful do you find this blog ?
on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “It’s essential to my continuing ability to breathe” and 5 is “If I don’t quit this page now I’m going to slit my wrists.” ?

How do you think this blog can be improved?
It can’t. It should be taken down and put in some landfill
A bit of humour would help
By including something about cooking or cats. The last time I tried to fry my moggy she tasted dreadful. 

Which shoe do you put on first?
I thought it would be fun to know and I’m getting bored.

Why are you still doing this questionnaire?
Because you’re even more bored than me 
Because you’re stupider than I thought
Because if you leave the computer room your wife will ask you to clean the oven

Thank you for your time. Before you go, if you tick the box you consent to being sent details of our services and products. The latest one is a nifty little oven cleaner.

I’m hoping that selling these is going to be more lucrative than blogging about baby boomers.

Saturday, 23 March 2013


Skills We’ve Lost Over the Last 60 Years

DEFROSTING A SPITFIRE
You’re at 40,000 feet and the tanks have frozen. Suddenly you’re set upon by a squadron of Messerschmitts. What do you do? Today’s shiftless, apathetic youth would be at a loss, wouldn’t they, huh? HUH?

I felt ashamed writing the last paragraph. You see, I’m a baby boomer. Buzzing about in Spitfires wasn’t something we did. We caught a bus instead. But we did have some vital, manly skills which are in danger of being lost and which I’m anxious to pass on.

GAUGEING THE NUMBER OF 45 RPM SINGLES TO PUT ON A SPINDLE
Too few, and you keep having to get up and stick another batch onto the turntable. Too many, and the accumulated lack of friction will slow the disc down and make even Dusty Springfield  sound as she’s flaking out on Mandrax.

HOW TO CLEAN AN AFGHAN COAT
Put it in the launderette and it’ll come out like a wet Kleenex but dry into sheet metal. Dab at it and it’ll come up in blisters. The answer is don’t wash it! It’s supposed to smell! In a year’s time you can put it out in the garden and grow carrots on it.

HOW TO CATCH A ROUTEMASTER BUS
These vehicles had an open back with a pole to hang on to. The technique is to wait till the bus is nearly moving then dash up and lunge at the pole. Your arm will nearly be pulled out of its socket, which is very yogic. When the bus speeds, cling to the pole like a teenager to an iPhone. This is pretty well the only exercise we hippies ever get.

GETTING AN OLD-FASHIONED TV TO WORK
Back in the 60s, we TV watchers are real men. If technology goes wrong, no running blubbing to the support line for us. When the picture folds we just get up and kick the box. One kick for BBC , three kicks for ITV.

OPENING A CAN OF WATNEYS PARTY 7 BEER
My generation aren’t called upon to defuse unexploded German bombs in the streets. But we do have to tackle Watneys Party 7 cans. There are no guaranteed safe techniques. It’s a matter of levering up the pointed opener till it pierces the top and running like hell as the geyser spouts. But even that isn’t as dangerous as drinking the beer….

Monday, 18 March 2013


I Drink Therefore I Am


Beer goes with stuff. This is what writers are discovering.  British writer Pete Brown has entertainingly linked different beers with music. Stephen Beaumont rhapsodically matches ales and food. Never one to allow a bandwagon to remain unjumped-upon, here’s my contribution to this new genre: matching beers with Western philosophers. (And occasionally Eastern ones)

DESCARTES     Has to be Belgian Duvel beer. A glug of its mind-blowingly complex flavours and thumping 8.5% ABV strength induces delirium. Mutter “I think therefore I am” and you’ll regain consciousness quickly for glug no. 2.

GANDHI           A pint of refreshing Nethergate Umbel is ideal after a long hot dusty day’s trudge in your sandals. If yet another punter asks  “Please, Guru, let me sit at your feet while you explain to me your doctrine of non-violence” its moderate 3.9% ABV strength helps you resist the urge to punch them in the mouth.

KARL MARX     What else but Tetley’s Bitter, the ultimate working man’s beer? Medium strength, you’ll be able to knock back a few and still have the volition to storm a palace or two.

NEITZSCHE      The proponent of the Superman deserves nothing less than the world’s strongest beer, Schorschbock 57. If you want to shed your meek Clark Kent persona and turn into the Man of Steel, a stein of this, at atom-splitting 57.5% ABV, is better than popping into a phone booth.

HEGEL             His big idea was the dialectic – a clash of crazy opposites (thesis and antithesis). His beer has to be Belgian Kriek which merges beer and cherries. And leads to the satisfying synthesis of getting you pissed.

ADAM SMITH   the theorist of capitalism with “The Wealth of Nations.” His beer must be         Budweiser. The Busche family, who brew it, maybe aren’t a nation but have   become richer than one.

What do you mean, you’re not a philosopher? Drink more beer! 

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Corporate Blues
An Allegory

I felt like a beer last night and went into a pub. Pouring my pint, the barmaid said

“Wannanysnax? Peennuscristwillets?”

“No snacks thanks”

Then she handed me a receipt. A receipt - in a pub. I then noticed she was wearing a uniform. A logo on her tunic generously told me the company was Oakdene Leisure Inc.

The pub had been corporatized.

As I sat down a young man materialised with a clipboard. “Customer satisfaction survey, sir” he said. “On a scale of 1 to 5,” he said, pointing his pencil between my eyes, “where 1 is ecstatic and 5 is utter despair, how do you rate your Oakdene experience?”

“The woman behind me has a very annoying laugh. So 4.”

“And how do you rate your Oakdene beer?”

“I’m getting some great satirical ideas which probably are nothing like as funny as I think they are. So it’s working fine.”

“I’d like to ask you to rate your Oakdene beer on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is….”

“I know. A minute ago it was 2. Now it’s 5. That’s beer for you.”

A smart woman appeared behind the clipboard man.

“Hello sir, I’m your Oakdene manager. Just to let you know that while you’re relaxing with your beer we have a range of mid-drink entertainment experiences for you. Justin Bieber is available on the muzak, or if you’d prefer smooth classics….”

My response dripped with sarcasm. “Why don’t you just offer me your mid drink swimming pool experience so I can go and drown myself?”

“I was just going to mention the pool, sir. Or perhaps you prefer to take advantage of our executive sauna. And after that, have a drink at our Caribbean themed bar”

“I thought this was a bar!”

Just then a wrecking ball crashed through the wall.  An earthmover cleared away the rubble and an army of workers moved in under a sign “Oakdene Leisure Centre under construction.”

The woman triumphantly ticked a box on her clipboard.

“Not any more it isn’t!”

Friday, 8 March 2013


Me - Living Legend

I am history.

This dawned on me recently, on reading that London’s Geffrye Museum of domestic history now features a 1960s Room. If it’s anything like my boyhood home it’ll be an environmental health hazard, with my mother’s 40 a day Embassy cigarette habit and the noise of me playing Jimi Hendrix LPs at 40 decibels and my dad shouting “Turn that bloody racket down!!”

The V&A museum are displaying David Bowie’s costumes. And a 1970s retro shop has opened in my neighbourhood. I keep popping in hoping they’ll have the Beatles’ second LP which was nicked from my student flat  (if you ever come across it, it has a Kilroy Was Here scribble on the back and 1” ripped out from the cover to act as a butt).

If I am history, I’m not making the most of it. It’s time to capitalise on this. I’m a living resource. I’m going to hire myself out at 60s revival nights, museums, reconstructed 60s streets – anywhere that screams out “This is the way we were then!!”

I’ll sit on a stool outside dressed in a kaftan and buttonhole people as they go in. I’ve already written my script. Here it is:

“Ooooh arrrgh” (This makes no sense but it’s what the punters want) “I remember them days as if it were yesterday. We made our own amusements. We’d sit round the TV watching “Call My Bluff”.  Times were hard but my parents shared tasks: my mum would get up to change the channel and my dad’d kick the set when the picture folded.

I remember when Queen Victoria came to visit…. Hang on, wasn’t it another Queen? My memory  ain’t what it used to be, I’ll need a little refreshment to revive it . Thank you! And if you could stuff a little more into this chillum…..

Where was I? Every Sunday we’d have a little family ritual, sticking on the Co-op Green Shield stamps. After that my mum would dish out the family meal, a great big pan full of Alphabetti Spaghetti. It’s how I learnt how to read. Trouble is , I can only write if I can squidge the letters around.

Off then are you? Before you go, take a blast of this….” 

I put on “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” at full blast on the stereo behind me. Inside, an actor playing my dad yells “Turn that bloody racket down!!!”