29 February 2008

Berthing Room

I have horrid non friends and one is sitting here betting me i cannot tell 2 jokes and keep it simple and stop faffing and just let the tale tell itself.

she is french and so are the two jokes, anti their silly frog accents ...

joke 1 - so im in hongkong and PR for this mega french construction company where no one emotes and its de rigueur to be cool and oozing sang froid.

I handle the groundbreaking ceremony of a port godown, meanwhile my wife is in hospital giving birth to our 2nd child.

I am back in the office going thru the press shots of the ceremony, the boss looks in and asks "How did the berth go?" and i assume in his ignorant frog-accented way he means how did the ceremony for the berth godowns go. I answer with macho calm that it went ok, no big deal ...

"And your wahf?"

My wife?? What on earth has she to do with it?

Mon Dieu you english and you call *us" chauvinist pigs!!

he meant of course how did the birth go. b'boum

Next joke please:

where i worked once for the greatest CS team ever, we set up a system of grading reps. I can't remember who came up with the grade - and i think i did since i wrote the first draft - but there was an ultra tactful score of "Room for Improvement".

As we grizzled QA types sat round grading emails and calls, we'd often growl "Room!" as abbreviated score.

I stole a few of those tricks for a company here in Greece who like the idea of QA and I introduced the Room for Improvement ploy. It's not a Greek company - heaven forfend that a Grik company should even know of QA - but a smart French hoteliers.

So we're sitting round judging some waiter skills and bar savoir-faire and the Food & Beverage manager is hacking and coughing away but suddenly scores an atrocious bit of ham-handed waiting as merely displaying 'room for improvement'.

"Mais tiens!, Vincent," I tiens, "that's very mild of you. I thought it was awful. You'll lose all your clients if your staff behave like that."

Quoi? Eez terrible peRRfoRRmonce ... for zee shurve, non?

Well why score it mere 'room'?

Quoi? What you talk about, you crazy?

Another 15 seconds of toing n froing franglais cross bating.

He had been complaining about his wretched cold and i picked up 'rheum' for Room.

ok, not so funny,i give you but i'm getting arch frogette eyebrows of approval for whizzing thru it so fast.

25 February 2008


Sarkozy on walkabout pressing the flesh.

Some berk refuses to shake hands: "But no - don't touch me!"

"Casse-toi, pauvre con," beams Sarky sans missing a beat.

From Cathay... with Love

1980 and I was newly wed to the most wonderful woman (she still is).

I'd been poached from worthy-but-penurious book publishing and whisked out to Hong Kong, there to promote my home island as part of the finest angelic tourism touters ever assembled on the head of a chopstick, I give you the Hong Kong Tourist Association.

Accommodation was paid, car was paid, it was hard to find entertainment that wasn't elegible for expenses.

Everyone was young and dynamic. *I* was young and dynamic, and wed to a woman everyone loved on sight.

*And*, with Cantonese learnt from birth at my amah's knee, I was totally, irrefutably, odiously bashably cool.

And all through those days, a background melody to our happiness, ran Barry White's Love Theme, the corporate jingle of our 'national' airline and partner company, Cathay Pacific.

I still can't hear it without my chest contracting.

23 February 2008

Cubicle Decor

For my Amazon buds, who will "relate". Decatur Redux.

The sleeping bag one will "resonate".

(Who says I've lost all my Merkan phrases?)

Dept of D'Oh!: One St Paddy's Day - March 17, get the green Guinness ready - I had been 'misled' by Julie's wing-gurl who secretly let me know that O'Vick was as Oirish a colleen as they come and v proud of her Emerald ancestry.

  • I festoon her cubicle in t' Green.
  • Enter that adorable dragon.
  • Bafflement.
  • She hadn't a drop of the Liffey coursing thru those Colorado veins.
  • Humiliated. Felt like slitting mine.
  • 20 February 2008


    24-hr dvd rental window

    See how brutalised I've become in the land of the Olive?

    Here *I* am under the impression of posting a *terribly* amusing tale of a lady from Pueblo, Colorado being incensed by the juxtaposition of posters in my local DVD family store.

    And there's you already chundering into the sick bag and vowing

    "Right that's it. He's gorn too far this time.

    Where's that unlisted number of the president of Blogger? I'll have Holmes de-listed if it's the last thing I do.

    No darling, no closer, I beg you ... yes it IS from Chris but nothing you'd want to see ..."

    Yes, indeed. This is our local friendly community DVD shop - akin to the Village Pump of old - where we gather to prattle and let the Ya-Yas (granny) get their babysitter fix as we compare notes on what's good ("Ooh! There's a poster for that Ratawotsit movie - that come in yet, luv?") and the sweet young thangs behind the desk field our questions and fix our probs with the automatic DVD provider.

    I must ask them if the 'wrong' movie ever popped out - like Monsignor Callaghan ordering some scriptural text from Amazon and receiving instead thru the mail - or worse, his rural dean opening it - some lascivious pamphlet ("Rats! It's the one number I've actually read!").

    Everyone just gets on with life and the kids giggle and gurgle and look at the pretty pics in the mags on the table in front of the sofa - porny catalogs.

    So there I was with this pulchritudina from Pueblo, and I said I just wanted to swing by and change my DVD - the not very good "Empire" spoof - and she said OK, I'll come in with you ... and she was SHOCKED.

    Aye, she could not get over the fact that there were mums and dads milling around and the children all nonchalant before this flesh.

    "But my gahd, look, they're right next to posters that are ... well, they're practically pornographic."

    "They are pornographic," I rumbled. "Why do you think that lion down there looks so panicked by the pneumatic chick massaging her embonpoint just behind his right ear?"

    "Well for heaven's sake!"

    All I could do was laugh at how brutalised and insensitive I must have become since leaving Seattle, to take it so for granted.

    As I said, *look* at me, posting these pics as if the whole thing was a joke.

    17 February 2008

    10 quid licence to smoke

    i can hardly get myself to pronounce the name of the wretched verminous country that manages to humiliate itself with idiot ideas like this - a required licence to smoke, deliberately complicated to complete, to boot.

    words fail me - which will be good news for most of my readers.

    Can't people like this slip on pavements or walk in front of buses or catch colds that get mysteriously worse or involved in that catch-all, a mugging 'that went badly wrong' (ie right) or look the wrong way or not mind the gap or be in the wrong place at any wrong time or ... surely the god of freak accidents can't be *that* busy not to be able to pop over to Legislation Hall and meddle with Fate.

    Honestly, this is a country doomed to mockery and contempt, or just doomed ....


    Ask Men

    Ha ha, I've just realised that this itself sounds like something out of the Askmen advice column: "Ladies love men who make an effort to find out how to woo them."

    Reading Askmen.com shows you care and will have them perching on your lap as you surf the pages. Oh, and why not go through letters from other lovelorns and answer them together?

    I'll probably take it down in a few days but here goes.top

    I'd come from another site (yeh, that's what they all say) and flipped thru the pages and scoped some of the beauties and then just left - no, it was in my History.

    Now, we live off the beaten track and are en route to town for a number of unwired types here, including wimmin who have taken to popping in and using my 'puter because I work upstairs and leave it on all day.

    The other day a lady came to look up some cookery thing and jokily said OK let's see what porn you've been surfing, and hit History. Boy did I bellow her out - I mean, supposing I *had* built up a wealth of hits, I would have looked a right lecher. Silence in the back row. As it is, I have been around young ladies long enough - I mean really young, I mean like 13, ok? - and I know the default action they perform when they visit each other (at least round Queen Anne and Ballard) is to have a giggle over respective Dads' visiting habits.

    Anyway, there was Ask Men and she raised an arch brow and said "You surprise me - why do you need to read this sort of thing?" which is terribly flattering if you think about it and also a bit of a come-on because she's basically saying you're cool. I mean, if she didnt think you were attractive she'd go like Yeah, that figures.

    So I did my pathetic moue thing and asked Whadyamean why do i read it? Because I get *nowhere* with the ladies and this has bags of good advice.

    "Oh poor diddums. Like what good advice?" so we went thru it and it was pretty dreadful advice and clearly aimed at *Americans* because no self-respecting Britisher (or Britette) would take it seriously.

    So this lady was critiquing the answers and telling me what would work for *her* and it got pretty intimate, except that we're not on those terms but it would be nice to be.

    So I got to thinking that it would be amusing to add 'Ask Men' as if I took it seriously (it's for a friend) and also casually leave it open from time to time to see who thinks "Aah the diddums, the guy needs help.

    Is true!

    13 February 2008

    World's Smallest Bodybuilder

    romeo dev

    I can't do more tastelessly than run this pitiful pic of Romeo, the mini-Arnie, and from his sad expression, nor can he.

    Hardly worth reading about - title and pic say it all - but here it is if you're determined to suffer.

    12 February 2008

    sir paul and lady M

    The Unsatiable Stump

    This blog has never skirted the tasteless route or detoured from delight in lack of decorum.

    The McCartney barney is a doozy.

    Former model, harridan Heather appeared Monday in the High Court to settle her whang-clang divorce battle with Sir Paul.

    I love the idea of the uni-limbed hottie being "insatiable" in bed and laughing about being "pursued" by Macca even while 'romancing' that tattle-tale film editor.

    Of course Ms Mills was an 'enthusiastic lover' - the gutter press allows of no other kind - and it's only natural that she showed off text messages from future tunesmith hubbie.

    I do hope the forthcoming grilling in court focuses with utmost energy on Heather's "unusual erogenous zone — her stump".

    Oh and do let's have high-definition Youtube sharing of that private home video of their time in India.

    But you know what's going to get Paul's goat more than anything and this whole sordid business going to the mat? Hearing himself dissed as an "old bloke" with whom Stumpy was only in love for what Paul could do for her.

    Let battle commence. This one has legs.

    "Truthful" Banner Ads

    Sad to say, I like this sort of thing, including the how-they-did-it exposés linked on the right.

    11 February 2008

    christophoulos in happier times


    And I was so hoping to keep it away from y'all and maintain the myth I've been peddling about lolling in the cradle of democracy and all things honest and good.

    Now it's #1 popular story on the Reuters site.

    Oh lawdy, we're all *over* the place. You name it, we've scandalised it.

    Let me go with the sex one and leave the dodgy stock sales for another day ...

    Lady sleeps with boss for government ministry job. Boss reneges (beeg mistake, Hell hathing no whatsit ...), lady tapes liaisons and commences blackmail proceedings.

    Goes to Greek media with the film but they show her the door, then one hack makes a copy and plonks it in the prime minister's office. Feydeau Moliere ain't in it.

    DVD arrives in PM Karamanlis' office, whereupon the official in question - General Secretary of our soi-disant Culture Ministry, hippo-sized Christos Zachopoulos - resigns and then chucks himself off a high (but not high enough) balcony. He is now recovering in hospital and my bet he is prolonging the recuperation.

    Read the rest for yourself ...

    10 February 2008

    pool at san luca

    Reviewer Blues

    I have been asked if I would "consider reviewing the occasional book" - a gloomy prospect given the low quality of prose that somehow finds print on this island.

    Never mind, I like being horrid and if I can discourage, offend or depress just one scribbler out there, I will have earned my meagre fee.

    Apart from free books, the other thing I like is reading other, skilled reviewers for ideas and phrases to pass off as my own.

    Look at this corker from the FT's Catherine Czerkawska on Carol Gilligan's Kyra.

    "It is a truth universally acknowledged among writers that every other professional seems to want to write a novel ... American feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan, celebrated for her 1982 'In A Different Voice', is no exception.

    The story is familiar: woman loves man, man leaves without saying why, woman goes into therapy at somewhat tedious length. They meet again. Can they resolve anything? Possibly. This is all very much like life and I enjoyed the novel's lack of neat resolution."

    Brilliant, concise. No need to even open the Gilligan tome.

    caption 'In case of an emergency, the person sitting next to you may act as a food source'"In case of an emergency, the person sitting next to you may act as a food source"
    cartoons from private eye

    08 February 2008

    Life in Six Words

    Have annoyed the heck out of scribbly pals by pointing out the Daily Telegraph piece on describing your life in six words.

    Outwardly scoffing, they have rushed off to meet the challenge which is of course consuming all their time.

    Tell someone to write their life story in no less than 25,000 words, they will tell you they don't have the time. Offer them just six words and they will sit down and take just as long honing their mini-autobiogs.

    Those fancying themselves as good on haikus are particularly prone to this one, and I'd hazard a guess that Wells sahib would try something on the sly - and be rather good at it. If Lord Sedition wasn't in purdah, and decided to toss something into the ring, he too would deliver the goods. But enough taunting the literary lions ...

    So ... your life in 6 words, and they quote Hemingway's bid to win a $10 bet:

    For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

    On being told this was the shortest poem, Muhammad Ali is said to have come up with, "Me? Wheeee!"

    I didn't really like any of the Telegraph's examples but these caught my eye:

  • Bad brakes discovered at high speed
  • Fancied self as haiku. Was clerihew
  • I still make coffee for two

    Anyway, I thought this might irritate or amuse, and hope it doesn't distract too many folks from their magnum opus.

    Speaking of which, I've remembered a Martin Amis quip that made me laugh. We were at some literary party and Martin was surveying the pack and asked me, as someone working within the book industry, wasn't I eternally bombarded with dud manuscripts? I said that, as a mere publicist, I didn't have much say on the front end editorial process, also none of my scribbling pals ever seemed to have anything to actually hand over.

    Amis nodded with grim satisfaction: "Whenever anyone tells me they're working on their Novel, I reply 'Yes, neither am I'"

    How about something between "Writing a novel? Neither am I" and "Working on that novel? Me neither".

  • 07 February 2008


    Dept of Just Desserts (pun intended)

    Holiday resort made to compensate for croc munching nine-year-old brat who:

  • Climbed fence
  • Fired at animals with catapults
  • Beat them with sticks
  • "One of the irritated animals caught Liu's clothes and dragged him into water, where he was eaten by a swarm of crocodiles".

    Bad luck on the zoo having to fork out but bloody good on you crocs.

    Bonzer munch, mate: Irwin'd be proud of you.

  • 06 February 2008

    St Heath

    I see everyone's treading with kid-glove eggshells over the hallowed halloo'd death of Heath Ledger.

    No one wants to catch it in the neck for being horrid to our latest candidate for canonisation.

    But what a relief! An accidental mix - that lets everyone off the hook.

    Whenever I'm being my hurtful hateful self, I try to give at least one other source fuelling my nastiness, and in this case it's that:

    The cause of death was acute intoxication by the combined effects of

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Diazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Alprazolam
  • Doxylamine

    All you poppers in the valley of the dolls will have recognised the generic names for painkiller OxyContin, anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, sleep aids Restoril and Unisom, and painkiller Hydrocodone.

  • These weasel get-outs are all the same - I once had a friend who was robbed as she fumbled for her door keys, fell and did severe damage to her head. When I was trying to get some coherent sense from the police, I was told that she seemed to have been the victim of "a mugging that went badly wrong".

    Exactly the sort of oily response that makes one want to grab these excuses for law enforcers and deliver a text-book mugging that goes gratifyingly right.


    Brilliant brilliant concept by the tantalising Brook Busey-Hunt:

    Porn Shui:
    The aspect of ones desk at work.
    Good porn shui allows surfing the net without being overlooked by colleagues.
    I just laughted and laughed: If only this had been around when I was in service with Lord Jeffrey of Bezosia! How it would have added to merry cubicle repartee.
    That is genius at Dilbertian level.
    For those looking puzzled, Ms Busey-Hunt is better known as lap dancer-turned-hot screenwriter, 'Diablo Cody' whose Juno is currently wowing one and all.

  • She has a current MySpace blog
  • And another one - understandably not updated since Dec 27 - The Pussy Ranch
  • She's hot
  • The Sunday Times dubbed her a she-devil.But for me, she will live forever as inventor of 'Porn Shui'.

  • I like living in Greece more than you

    Mooching around with not much to do, I check out the 'What's On' section in Kathimerini.

    It lists the hot goings-on in Athens and always makes me feel feeble for not including even one in my weekly schedule.

    It's a bit austere so I'm delighted to see the po-faced announcement for:


    ~ Athens until Sunday ~

    The Gagarin 205 Club is hosting the Second Berlin Porn Festival in Athens.

    Highlights include

    Gagarin 205 ~ 205 Liosion ~ Tel 210.854.7600

    05 February 2008


    It's probably really easy and any geek will explain how it's done - but I find this sort of thing rather cool.

    03 February 2008

    Strippin' Stewardess

    You mean there are *still* folks out there who haven't caught up with the cheery flight attendant with the buxom embonpoint?

    Don't say I don't spoil you.

    (Pssst - it only looks blank. You have to scroll down. Sneaky)

    Ryanair hot schoolgirl back to school


    Well, Woolworths shop girls and Ryanair travelers have certainly heard of the nymphet *now*.

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry over the plain pig ignorance that must exist over in Blighty if my countrymen don't even have the totem name for sexual precocity.

    You don't have to have read the book - I don't know anyone who has, save for Martin Amis - to know the name to pin on - er - Lolitas. And what about Humbert Humbert? How are they mocking us now, the dirty mac brigade as we peer furtively into the playground or communal swimming pool?

    As for Ryanair's back-to-school advert of a hot chick in faux schoolgirl gear, the airline's hated for so many other things I'm surprised anyone's got time to chase 'em for a mediocre snap of a rather lukewarm tottie.

    Mentioning Martin prompted me to look up his critique of the novel, and what a pleasure he is to read with his book learning and straight-faced prose:

    "Lolita herself is such an anthology piece by now that even non-readers of the novel can close their eyes and see her on the tennis court or in the swimming pool or curled up in the car seat or the motel twin bed with her 'ridiculous' comics. We tend to forget that this blinding creation remains just that: a creation, and a creation of Humbert Humbert's. We have only Humbert's word for her. And whatever it is that is wrong with Humbert, not even his short-lived mother would claim that her son was playing with a full deck.

    (Actually his personal pack may comprise the full fifty-two, but it is crammed with jokers and wild cards, pipless deuces, three-eyed queens.)

    A reliable narrator in the strict sense, Humbert is not otherwise reliable; and let us remember that Nabokov was capable of writing entire fictions - Despair, The Eye, Pale Fire - in which the narrators have no idea what is going on at all.

    Lolita, I believe, has been partly isolated and distorted by its celebrity. 'The greatest novel of rapture in modern fiction,' states the cover of the first Penguin, which also informs us, on the back, that Humbert is English."

    Bravo said, pearly-toothed Martin.

    Meanwhile, for vague acquaintance with the Lolita label and sloppiest possible use, look no further than the Torygraph's prurient slavering over a 34-year-old Italian's sexcapade with a 13-year-old girl, his sentence cut because the court sensed "real love" between them. Sapristi! They know how to do things over there.

    The Ancestor

    A painting I have always been fascinated by and which really should be viewed en personne to fully appreciate how Sargent has captured the 'to the manner born' aristo bearing of Lord Ribblesdale.

    Lord Ribblesdale by John Singer Sargent, National Gallery of Art, London. Oil on canvas

    Presented by Lord Ribblesdale in memory of Lady Ribblesdale and his sons, Captain the Hon. Thomas Lister and Lieutenant the Hon. Charles Lister.

    Lord Ribblesdale was Thomas Lister (1854-1925), 4th Baron Ribblesdale.

    He was Master of the Buckhounds from 1892 to 1895, Liberal Whip of the House of Lords, Lord-in-Waiting, and a Trustee of the National Gallery, London, from 1909 until his death.

    Sargent first met him at an Artists’ Benevolent Fund dinner then stayed with him at his house in the summer of 1899. This was an un-commissioned portrait and Sargent was trying to capture the archetype aristocratic and he fully succeeds.

    The painting was done in Sargent's Tite Street studio and you can see the parquet floor and how Sargent had him stand up against the classical molding of his wall which adds to regal feel -- a man fully in control of himself and his environment.

    01 February 2008

    "Not a factor"

    I'm all too aware of my track record for missing few opportunities to score points of the cheapest. I tread at my daintiest here.

    I have seen that face out east where I was raised, hardy old colonials out to pasture and nowhere but the club to head for. Mottled, brutal in its mapping of every tantrum and tincture. I see it here today in my new home where Ionian zephyrs make it all too easy for leisured ex-pats to be persuaded into "just the one" before the goat track home.

    As I sit here, no one to monitor me, a mansion stacked with every type of booze, I want to drink. I want a cigarette.

    I have music to play, loud as I want, and witty emails to compose. I have a blog in which to primp and preen and weave self-serving tales.

    Don't hold me to self-discipline - who would know? Give me that Icarus draught and throat-tickling dopamine.

    This is the most extroadinary report I have read in a long while and I have walked round the garden after the first reading and talked to Sam and asked him to bite my goblet hand to the bone if he so much as glimpses me eyeing the drinks cabinet. To sink his canines deep into my wedding tackle if he scents even a whiff of that sweet Karelia 'baccy.

  • A bloke keels over close to death and a close pal comments,
    "He was at the pub when he collapsed. I was not there - I have a number of other businesses."

    Excuse me? Of what relevance is it that you have "other businesses"? We all have other calls on our time that save us from frequenting boozers 24/7. No. You have one business, to lead a healthy life. Your responsibility is not to be at your compadre's side to push or validate a dram too far. "I was not there." Period. Say no more, chief.

  • The tippler collapsed "after spending a week drinking whisky following the breakdown of his marriage."
    Save me the marriage bit - a week drinking whisky? A week? A marriage doesn't disintegrate on hot chocolate every night and then you decide, 'Soddez cela pour une alouette, I'm trying the hard stuff.'
  • Not alcohol-related. Exhaustion from "six weeks' work at his restaurant in Thailand".
  • Everyone knew he 'liked a drink' (weasel euphemism). Favourite tipple, Scotch.

    But hold - despite that, it's never been a problem ... doubts are firmly expressed that it was ever "a factor in his collapse."

  • Further down the news report we find the poor wretch was "banned from driving for 32 months after being involved in a car crash ... three and a half times over the legal drink-drive limit when breath-tested."

    Not a factor? To quote my favourite Kris, "Oh puleez."

  • It gets worse. The sort of tasteless tragedy Tom Lehrer could have latched on to for a cruelly hilarious anthem for AA:

    The poor blighter is "believed to have been staying at the pub to help launch a newly-refurbished bar."

    Believed? A celebrity of this standing, undoubtedly wired and celled for 24-hr contact, and the newshounds can only guess?

    And is 'flamboyant' Fleet Street's current euphemism for someone who enjoys a noggin? Inclined to end up 'tired and emotional'? Or did the journo know they were going with the rubicund Falstaffian visage and slip in a pun on flambé'd?

    Oopah! I've helped 'launch' umpteen booze-oukia and the only one I effectively bade bon voyage to was myself, on an ocean of Mine generous Host's gratis mead.

    This posting sounds like the most vicious gratuitous attack on a decent hard-working man who managed to put it back *and* head a serious department. His pals will be on me and I will bite the dust and retract until the nails on my guitar-picking fingers are down to useless pads.

    It is not a comment. God knows I'm the last to cast the first ice cube, and I will do penance this evening when I read this out to the local Al-Anon.

    What a sad revealing exposé this news item is - laid out for all to see.

    And me? Just trying to pick a sensitive way thru unblaming vocab has banished thoughts of bottle or baccy.

  • Miles Kington RIP

    My good pal Miles Kington is dead. At 66, which bodes no boot for my turning 62 on Monday.

    I met him when we worked together on a miniaturist-painting book (he'd've approved of that defining hyphen) for which he'd contributed the dry captions and background.

    More famous than the author, he got a bit fed up with me phoning to set up another interview to sell a book for which he got no royalties.

    He had a splendid technique for keeping correspondence down: from wherever I wrote to keep him up to date or hoping to hear, he would reply promptly, "No one could possibly live in a place called Baguio. I demand further proof ... no one could possibly live in 'Wanchai' ... on Bainbridge Island ..."

    As long as I venture into 'Company', I shall remember his observation on Smiles:

    "There are so many kinds, especially at parties:

  • There's the kind that says: 'I remember your name, but I bet you don't remember mine.'
  • There's the kind that says: 'Excuse me, I want to squeeze past you, but I don't want to talk to you.'
  • Or 'I have a much funnier story than yours, which I will tell you as soon as you've finished'."