Thursday, 24 December 2009

Out With the Old

It’s a wonderful life, don’t get me wrong, but there can be no denying that it’s been a fusty old twat of a year. On the whole. If you don’t mind me saying. This is not a complaint, mind you. Heaven forfend. Just a mild and timely lament. End of the year. Looking back. Looking forward. All that.

I feel like it’s time for a change. You know? I’m bored with myself. I need a new direction and new things to occupy my time.

And what better time for embarking on a new direction than the beginning of a whole new decade? Sadly, however, it’s not as simple as that. Why are things never as simple as that?

The fact is, there are already some pretty exciting changes in the pipeline for the twenty-tens, but - alas - there are also already grumblings from concerned parties who don’t want me flapping my mandibles on the blog. Can you believe it? Can you believe I’m allowing other people to dictate what I choose to talk about? I find it difficult to believe. And monumentally frustrating. I just want to defy them. I want to follow my instincts, master my destiny, plough my own furrow and ride my own melt. But then I don’t want to fuck anything up. Or do I? Oh, it's so difficult to be sure.

One thing I do know for sure though, one way or the other there will be no more of this laborious doubletalk in 2010.

That's a promise.

Also, I’m pretty sure, 2010 is going to be smashing. Good years are like bald men – they skip a generation. 2008 was pretty great. 2009 was barely fine. 2010 will be great again. I feel it.

Last night I realised something quite shocking. I realised that I had drunk almost an entire litre of vodka in just two evenings. Alone. I consoled myself with the fact that I'd also gone through a bottle of Kahlua in the same time, but quickly and thankfully I realised that this was meagre consolation.

Things have definitely got to change.


My year.

You'll see.

Before we say goodbye for this year, however, I’d just like to share with you a couple of new year’s resolutions which I know I am destined to break almost before I have made them. But I want to make them anyway.

One, I resolve to stop reading film reviews on IMDb. This year I became a bit obsessed by them. Especially the bad ones. I would look up my favourite films and just read all the bad reviews. I'm not even sure why. Presumably I took some pleasure in the fury they gave rise to. On reflection, I don’t think that’s an enormously profitable way to spend one's time. Unless... unless I can make an unconscionably diverting quiz out of it all. Or even a marginally diverting quiz. Or even just a quiz, fuck it. Here it is.



1. 'I have no use for children porn and this is truly a disturbing film. The only remotely normal people are the Homosexuals who live next door. The three main family groups are all living on another planet. The acting is good but the story is a monument to the total meltdown of our culture.'

2. ‘I can't imagine how this could be more depressing. It has no forward momentum. It seems to lack the generous helping of wit that would push the material anywhere near the vicinity of "entertainment." Maybe you had to see it the moment it was released to have a fond recall of it. Maybe being a weed fiend would help. Maybe being British...’

3. ‘The performances here are lazy. The camera-work is not as good as Death Wish. Everything is sub par, including the awful soundtrack.’

4. ‘I mean the ending is so predictable and I guessed the ending of the movie since the beginning of the romance, breakup and welcome back and another (I will not mention the ending)... but you could have guessed.’


‘Now I am not one of those ignorami who hate movies made before 1970... While the work of [the leading actors] may have been good for it's time it is insufficient compared to todays advanced standards.’

5. ‘As a somewhat well read person, I thought this movie was a self indulgent poor imitation of a seinfeld episode.’


‘The movie crawls at a pace that would make operating heavy machinery while watching impossible’

6. ‘it is silly and immature and anyone who likes it must have the mind of a child. it is really stupid.please if your considering watching this please take caution.oh and if you were thinking of watching the other one please don't it is worse... the humor in it is just stupid i mean i see it on the screen and i just don't laugh it just not funny!!’

7. ‘None of the characters are likable or interesting and the whole experience is like someone being sick on your face.’

8. 'I watched this terribly long, boring, slow, bloody, gory, silly film several times. Why, or why was that so overestimated? What for? It has nothing, but too much blood, sex, more blood, more sex, child molesting, more blood, more child death, child sex, more blood, more slow talks, more long shots, more blood and more molesting. Raping, killing, talking, sex in a car, more fights, more sex... I am not a sick person. This film did make me feel sick. Why was it made?.'

9. 'I was expecting a COMEDY for crying out loud. And I'm just waiting for a funny moment to arrive. All those stupid gags and dumb jokes and situations are so bland and tedious to watch. It gets too repetitive and uninteresting. I don't know, maybe its a European or American thing but this is not my idea of a funny movie. And what more can I say...even the makers of the movie knew that the jokes were so not funny that all those cameos had to be used...and still, to no good result. My recommendation...If u want a comedy movie on rock n roll watch "School of Rock".


'This is really not a good movie. I looked on IMDB and saw this movie on the top 250 and thought for sure it was one of the signs of the apocolypse... Please, oh please don't tell me "you must not have a good sense of humor" either, cause I know at least 50 people that have only met me once or twice that could tell you otherwise.'

10. 'This movie made absolutely no sense to me (and I'm not a stupid person...IQ in the 140's) until just before it ended...meaning I just sat there for about 90 minutes wondering what I was watching. '

11. 'I came to this movie expecting smart satire and cinematic invention. The first 30 minutes of this film offended me on every level possible! It is grotesque and perverse and sophomoric. I can't remember hating a film more. I never had the stomach to finish this disaster of a film, which is ugly to the eyes and the soul.'

12. 'The boxing scenes are very amateur in execution, none of them have the shocking realism of Rocky IV... Rocky movies make you sit up and take notice. They move you. [This film] moved me, too. Right out of the cinema.

Answers here.

Now tell me that wasn't fun. (Don't actually tell me. Unless you're that particularly unpleasant and embittered troll who keeps bothering me. You can tell me. And I shall ignore you.)

Secondly. No more pornography. It’s really vile. What reminded me of its vileness was reading the unspeakably rank Rock Her World by Seymore Butts. Do you know that despite the vastness of that review, there were still heaps of other quotes which, for one reason or another, made me shake my head. I wanted to share them with you, but there was no space. So, as a special Christmas treat, a stocking-filler, I present them here, as The Seymore Butts Guide to Life & Love & Whatnot...

Butts on sincerity: ‘Let’s face it, in order to bed over six hundred women you’ve got to be willing to say or do anything it takes to achieve your goal – whether you really mean it or not.’

Butts on feminine hygiene: ‘If you or anyone else are dumping loads of sperm into your partner and she’s letting them ferment inside of her instead of rinsing out after each deposit, you can expect her pussy to smell like the inside of a peep show booth.’

Butts on cunnilingus: ‘Let’s be honest, some of you guys approach pussy like a starving Indian would a tandoori chicken.’

Butts on the apparent non-existence of women experienced in anal: ‘You will encounter two types of women: those who are open to the idea of anal sex but inexperienced, and women who seem to be closed to the idea.’

Butts on bars and clubs: ‘These are what I call “sexually charged social environments” – places that, when I’m in a relationship, I avoid like I would being raped by Shaquille O’Neal as he sang, “Tell me how my ass tastes!”’

Butts on rejection, horses: ‘Get back on your horse and start looking for another filly to saddle up.’

Butts on successfully bribing a bouncer and getting into a night club ahead of a queue with a woman: ‘The next sound you hear should be that distinctive squish coming from between your date’s legs as she becomes turned on by your ability to take charge and get things handled.’

Butts on the embarrassment of being a woman: ‘Most of the potentially embarrassing situations that can and do happen during sex happen to women.’

Butts on Holly: ‘We might not have made it to the restaurant but that didn’t stop her from ordering up some stuffed sphincter with a side of ass à la mode or either of us from eating plenty of brown-eye pie. For our final course, it was hot loads of sweet cream in Holly’s hot buns as she screamed with delight.’

Butts on butter: ‘We wrapped after both girls lovingly snowballed Steven’s nut butter.’

Butts on the dangers of spicing things up: ‘No joke, you can very easily kill your partner by choking her. Don’t try telling me you know what you’re doing either; that’s what hundreds of guys say every year before they accidentally kill the women they are having sex with.’

And finally, Butts on life: ‘The proof is in the pudding.’

No, Butts. No, it isn’t.

So yes. That's that. Done with porn. It’s dirty. From now on, I shall devote myself to the works of Ellen von Unwerth. Thanks to the delightful piece of adorable that is ScruffyPanther, I came across Von Unwerth's photos only last week. (No porn intended.) And they're wicked.


Thirdly - actually no. That's it.

Now I am out of here till Twenty-Ten, which sounds so far in the future as to be just silly. Will there be hover boards? Yes. Yes, there will. In the meantime, and for most of the rest of the decade, I'm back up here in the frozen North, where even skate boards still bring forth oohs and aahs of confused awe. I should be back in time to finish my vodka on New Year's Eve.


My year.

What about you? Anything special planned for the next decade?

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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Deal Or No Deal?

No deal.

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Seymore Butts :: Putting the Anal in Banal

About a month ago I received an interesting email, apropos of nothing, from a lady at Penguin – the publishers, not the wacky dildo people. She said she wanted to share a book with you, my discerning readers. She said she knew you’d love it. It was about sex. Everybody loves sex. So she sent it to me, hoping I’d devour it with alacrity and urge you all, with all of my heart, to rush out and buy it for Christmas. And I tried. Believe me, I spent hours trying to write a glowing review with a none-too subtle sardonic undertone, but it didn’t work. The fact is, this book is such a rancid, horrible mess that I couldn’t even pretend to like it.

In actual fact, if I’m completely honest, I think Rock Her World by Seymore Butts is probably the worst book I’ve ever read - and remember, I’ve read both Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. So, with apologies to Jenny Chun of Penguin, who I’m sure was just doing her job and is actually unutterably lovely, I forbid you, my discerning readers, I forbid you to buy this odious mound of literary effluent.

Really. The man makes Chris Moyles look like Vladimir Nabokov. (Don’t buy Chris Moyles either. VERBOTEN!)

Now, it’s safe to say that certain groups of people have a poor reputation for intellectual prowess. Models, for example. Football players, for another. Toilet attendants, boxers, BNP voters, people who work in Argos. And, of course, porn stars. Now I don’t know if Seymore Butts is considered a cerebral giant in the world of porn, but let me tell you, when he isn’t ball-deep in stretched rectum, or else pointing a camera at someone who is, Seymore Butts is a moron. And I neither use this term lightly, nor mean it as an insult. What I mean is that, having studied Butts and the language he uses to convey his ideas, I have concluded that he has the mental age of someone aged between 8 and 12 years old, and therefore, according to the original medical classification, he is, unequivocally, a moron. And that is nothing to be ashamed of. At least he’s not an imbecile. But should Penguin really be paying him good money to write horrible, rancid books? I’m not so sure.

‘This isn’t your ordinary book,’ says Butts at the offset. Of course, he’s flattering himself. This is barely a book at all. It’s more like a soiled bib around the neck of a retarded sex pest.

It could be, of course, that I am very wrong, and it’s actually more to do with the fact that I’m just not Butts’ target audience. I do use pornography, don’t get me wrong. I use it a lot these days. But also, I read, and Butts’ readers don’t read. Just as Butts himself does not write. In the opening chapter, in a touchingly honest exchange, non-writer addresses non-reader and lays it on the line:

‘I realize you may not be used to reading anything without a centrefold and may look at the number of word-filled pages ahead and say, “Who the fuck has the time to read all that?”’

This is a nice touch. It immediately puts the reader at his ease. Essentially, Butts is saying: ‘Fear not, my oafish friend. I too, am a moron. We’re all friends here. Stupid horny men friends. At ease.’

He goes on to allay his readers’ logophobia by promising lots of saucy cartoons (think Sun Fun circa 1975) and the following:

What do you think is on the following page? Can you guess? No, it’s not a bunch of poorly-drawn women promising sex with anyone who reads Butts’ book.

Oh, yes, sorry. It is.

I could stop there really, and I think you would agree that my loathing of this book is justified. But I'm not going to. Sadly, this is only just the beginning.

In the introduction to his book, Seymore Butts - real name Adam Glasser - lays himself bare in a brief biography of his sexual exploits and career highlights: porn star-cum-porn director-cum-reality TV (porn) star, all the while with the accent (maybe a bumlaut) on 'assplay'. He then embarks upon his first attempt to crystallise and clarify recent shifts in perceived gender roles which he maintains are responsible for the current socio-sexual environment, the very environment which he blames for necessitating the creation of this book.

‘Women are now becoming empowered through their sexuality and it is up to you as a man to keep yourself in the game. Refining your sexual skills is certainly a step in the right direction, and I will go into great depth to help you achieve this. However, to me, the quickest way to become a “legitimate player” whom women are drawn to, whom women can give their respect and admiration to - something they naturally crave giving their man - is through the acquisition of knowledge. In my opinion, this is the only way for men to combat the change in sexual behaviour patterns (which is most certainly a psychological reaction by women to centuries of male dominance in and outside the bedroom, combined with the rise of the gay community and the recent emergence of the metrosexual.)’

Hmm. You see what I mean about words? Butts knows some, for sure, and probably even knows what some of them mean, but he has great difficulty amassing and amalgamating them into a coherent argument. Instead he just hammers away haphazardly, embarrassingly, achieving nothing, like a half-blind dog humping a dead man’s leg.

And so he continues, with pre-pubescent clarity, attempting to explain how his book had to be written, how the very survival of modern man - ‘in this new millennium filled with hypocrisy and contradiction and bound by a set of ambiguous new rules’ - depends upon it. He doesn’t really go into too much detail about the exact nature of the perceived hypocrisy, contradiction and ambiguity, but he knows it’s something to do with the media, and women. And probably the gays.

Once he’s established that his book is going to rescue the male species from... something or other, Butts gets stuck in, tackling the topics that other so-called sexperts just don’t have the cerebral retardation to address. Topics such as Is Assplay Gay? Just in case you were wondering, it isn’t: ‘I know I’m suggesting a rectal exam,’ says Butts, ‘but I can absolutely guarantee you won’t turn into a pickle smoocher.’

Ah, yes. ‘A pickle smoocher’. You might imagine that as a consequence of having slept with more than 600 women, Butts would at some stage have stopped guffawing about sex like a 10-year-old boy. Sadly, this is not the case, and moronic euphemisms are splashed across every page of this book like bukkake. Now I’m no psychologist, but let’s face it, you don’t have to be Emma Freud to wonder if perhaps Butts’ verbal moronia actually belies a deep-rooted shame over his feelings about the sexual act; shame which forces him to hide the physical reality of good honest genital contact behind a wall of infantile imagery, a veritable tsunami of bliss berries, love tunnels, clams, peaches, tushies, dipsticks, flagpoles, beanstalks and one-eyed monsters. Butts would probably argue that having a sense of humour about sex is a good thing. I would agree. Sense of humour is essential. However, referring to your genitals as your ‘twig and berries’ has nothing to do with humour. That’s just being a cock. And quite probably having something to hide.

Whether Butts is actually a giant prude in porn star’s clothing or a profoundly closeted, double-bluffing homosexual is a moot point, and not enormously relevant, but as he guides us through the labyrinthine anusphere of sexual relations like some brilliantine Venereal Virgil, his playground argot quickly becomes extremely tiresome.

The range of subjects covered by Butts, however, is impressive. In just 336 pages he covers everything from premature ejaculation to where to find virgins; from erectile dysfunction to what to do when your woman’s vagina stinks; from chat-up lines to controlling her gag reflex when you’re training her to deep-throat; from ‘how to properly fist a lady’ (presumably without splitting her infinitive) to how to spot if she’s trying to steal your sperm and trap you into marriage.


This by the way, is the same book that Lisa Scott was all over like genital warts just last week in the Metro. She couldn’t possibly have read it. Please, God.

At this point, it needs to be said that unfortunately, there is a broad seam of gender-related ugliness running through this book and you don’t have to be Andrea Dworkin to find yourself wincing in discomfort at certain points. The section entitled Conception Deception, for example, in the chapter Bun In The Oven, is particularly repugnant.

‘Some of the stories I’ve heard about women using deceptive methods to get pregnant,’ Butts begins, ‘simply astound me!’ I have no doubt that this happens, of course, but is Mr Butts really suggesting that this practice is common enough to warrant five pages on how to identify and thwart these nefarious, psychotic women? Ah, yes. Evidently he is.

Read this and despair.

Wow. What kind of world is this fucked-up man living in? A world where women have to be escorted to the bathroom after a blowjob and men have to keep a bottle of Tabasco by the bedroom bin. Just in case.

Then there’s the chapter entitled Something’s Fishy. Can you guess what that’s about? Yes. I’m afraid so.

It begins thusly, with all the tact and common courtesy of a gang rape (please excuse my outraged daubs):

Gorgeous. Overwhelming sensitivity.

Then there’s Cherry Picking, the chapter on the best places to find virgins. ‘Personally, I don’t get it,’ he writes. Still he devotes five pages to advising men who do get it where to find them and what to do once they’ve found them. Thankfully, Butts does not apply the same logic to paedophilia, presumably because there's a law against it.

However, having said all that, there is more to Butts' book than brutish ignorance and deep-rooted misogyny. There is also excruciating embarrassment.

At regular intervals throughout this book I found myself looking away from the text, my face contorted in a rictus of physical embarrassment. Sometimes it was because he was trying to be funny when he clearly doesn’t have it in him. Sometimes it was when he put puerility to one side and weighed in with some heavyweight medical fact or other, such as this: ‘Our testicles, the oval masses that sit within a sack called the scrotum, actually produce our sperm.’ And sometimes it was when he was offering suggestions for what to say to a woman. And you just know, before you even get into it, that Butt’s lack of word-wisdom is going to let him down.

‘Send her a naughty text message during the day,’ he says, ‘telling her some of the things you are going to do to her later that night. The anticipation of it all will have her literally marinating in her own juices all day as she watches the clock and thinks about what awaits her when she gets home!’

Now, either Butts is unfamiliar with the definition of the word ‘marinate’ or he’s unfamiliar with the definition of the word ‘literally’. But I’m being pedantic; his meaning is quite clear. So, to the point: if you’re unsure quite what to text to your woman in order to persuade her to spend the day soaking her ‘hot box’ in a combination of oil, vinegar, spices and herbs, fear not, for Cyrano de Butts is on hand to give a few examples of the type of texts he sends to his long-term partner, Mirna. Spices at the ready, girls:

‘I’ll pick you up at eight / and take you out to dine / then back to my place / for some hot 69!’

‘Lips so soft / body so tight / can’t wait to see you / gonna fuck you all night!’

Or what about this for a slightly more subtle role-play-themed text:

‘This is a courtesy reminder that you have an appointment with Dr Feelgood at ten P.M. tonight.’

Oh, Seymore. Dr Feelsick more like.

Speaking of feeling sick, it's probably worth dwelling for one moment on the stories Seymore tells throughout the book. Whether he’s being thrown out of a brothel for asking for anal sex, or being sprayed head-to-foot with some woman’s shit after having anal sex in a public toilet, or coming face-to-face with Crystal, or as he sweetly dubs her, ‘Elephant Anus’, the porn star with the monstrous haemorrhoids, every last one of Butts’ stories is as sweet and subtle as a sledgehammer made of excrement. They also have an air of the utterly contrived. Which is not to say that Butts is making stories up, but rather that, because he has no idea how to tell a story, everything he says sounds artificial, unconvincing and banal to boot. Although, having implied that I’m not accusing him of making stuff up, he does clearly get carried away at times.

For example, there’s the anecdote which begins with a young Butts and a bunch of his ‘practical joker’ friends - who may or may not be named Mr Muffhound, Mr Porker, Mr Diggler and Young Master Glans - eating together at a local restaurant when one of their group excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Oh, here, I’ll let Mr Butts tell it. In his own inimitable style.

Hmmm. Enchanting.

However, as much as I despise Butts for the childishness, the ugliness, the crass bravado and wilful idiocy of his writing, I think - perhaps - the worst section of his book sees him recounting his brush with genital warts.

He tells of how he discovered a series of bumps a short while before a planned trip to Palm Springs, ‘the whole purpose of which was to get laid, and I thought the cauliflower growing on my dick might not go over too well with the ladies!’ (He loves his exclamation marks.)

He told his friend Kurt. Turns out Kurt had them too. They wondered where they might have contracted whatever it was. Then it came back to them: ‘Tanya, the girl we gangbanged with eight of our other friends!’ So the first thing they do is to inform all eight of their friends, then a couple of them go to the doctor. There is no mention of anyone informing Tanya.

Then, and this is the really mind-bogglingly dumb bit, Butts tells of how, rather than follow the doctor’s instructions and return to the clinic for intermittent treatment, he steals the ointment and, along with his friends, applies it over a period of four to six days instead of the recommended period of four to six weeks. Just so they can make the spring break. And get laid. Cool.

What’s slightly worrying, however, is what if – and I know it’s a long shot – but what if some of the people reading this are real easily-led, suggestible types who think that if they read it in a proper sex guide with a hardback cover, then it must be perfectly acceptable to ignore medical directions and recommended dosages and generally play fast and loose with potentially fatal sexually transmitted diseases, as long as you can get another fuck out of it. Eh? Eh, lads?

The irresponsibility is breathtaking. As is the very next page of the book, in which Butts writes: ‘I’m hoping that reading this book will help you avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made.’ Christ. The really depressing thing about this blithering fuckwit is that he's not even aware of most of the mistakes he’s making.

So, to sum up, I would have to say that as well as being very, very, very bad, this is also a morally reprehensible and socially irresponsible book. It taught me nothing I feel better or richer or happier for having learned and it made me frequently despair at the parlous, unevolved state of the human brain. And not in a good way.

The really bad news, however, is that no matter what I say, Butts' abhorrent book will definitely sell thousands and thousands and thousands more copies than my absolutely beautiful and infinitely sexier book, which would make a wonderful Christmas present for just about anyone and which, if you haven't already done so, you must buy immediately. And that means you too, Jenny Chun!

Incidentally, if you have a product would like me to review, please drop me a line at the usual address. It would be my pleasure.

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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Not Just For Christmas

I was out and about in central London yesterday and crikey. You forget. London at Christmas is insane. All that jostling and tension. All those angry shoppers and boozed-up Santas.

It reminded me of something I heard recently when I was listening – kind of by accident – to the audiobook of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. It apparently formed part of the Christmas advertising of a New York department store, back in the day. You may find it trite, tedious and a little bit sick-making. If so, you may bugger off. I find it rather special, and of course - really - it has nothing to do with Christmas.

The Value of A Smile At Christmas

It costs nothing but creates much.

It enriches those who receive without impoverishing those who give.

It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.

It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature's best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody until it is given away.

And if in the last minute rush of Christmas buying, some of our sales people should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours? For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give.

Eh? Eh? You see?

So - it's my birthday tomorrow. And the two-year anniversary of the blog on Tuesday. I was planning to do something pretty spectacular, but you know how it is, the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley. Added to which, there is family stuff afoot. My grandmother is going into hospital on Wednesday to have her arthritic foot sliced and scraped. My mum was going to be there to look after her, but for reasons which shall remain her own, she cannot. So I'm going up there. Not sure how yet. Thinking of something quite radical at the moment. Probably won't come to fruition though. You know how it is. Aft agley.

Anyway, if I don't see you for a while, be good.

32! How novel.

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Monday, 7 December 2009

Bad Friend

Out of sight, out of mind. That's what they say. And I hate to admit it, but except in the cases of romantic obsession, I fear they are right. In my case at least. But then maybe I'm just monumentally self-centred. What do you think? Oh, I don't care. Button it.

Anyway, the reason for this self-berating is that my very best friend since not long after I was born, also not known as Keith, posted something on his blog almost two weeks ago and I have only just now got round to looking at it. What a shit. To be honest, if this something hadn't been quite so spectacular, I might just have moved onto something else, forgotten all about my so-called best friend for another month and not even bothered berating myself. But it was. Spectacular, that is.


Isn't it? Wow. It really is a pleasure to have such talented friends. That I never see. Or let's face it, barely ever think about.

God, I'm cold.

Anyway, then he went on to do this:

Go to his site at once and reward him with your praise. Oh, and if you're in the market for an unusual and unique gift for the Christ day, then he's also selling his stuff. Think about it. I've got one of his pictures on my wall, next to a Kandinsky print, and I'm the coolest person in London.

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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A Perfectly Civilised Street Crime

Henry Chinaski - Charles Bukowski’s alter ego in Barfly - says, ‘I don’t hate the police… but I seem to feel better when they’re not around.’ That’s pretty much how I feel. Although sometimes, it has to be said, I hate them.

I don’t know whether it will surprise you or not to know this, but over the years, and without meaning to over-egg it, I’ve had my fair share of police encounters. A small handful, let’s say. A Beadle handful. As both crime victim and alleged perpetrator. And when they’ve been on my side, they’ve generally been mostly very sympathetic and humane. But when they’ve not been on my side, they’ve generally been disrespectful, abusive and just awful. Until that is, last Thursday evening. Let me tell you what happened.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I'd met someone who had some excellent green stuff. Well, I met him again early on Thursday evening and he supplied me with some of said self-same stuff. He probably deserves a name at this stage. I might call him Danny, as if he were my very own offspring. Errant Danny. My wayward son. It is written. So I left Errant Danny in west London and made my way to Oxford Circus where I met up with my old friend, Shambling Luther. Luther bought me a drink and we went outside to sample Errant Danny’s wares. We crossed the street with our plastic glasses and found a little window ledge in an adjoining back street.

I set about rolling a one-skinner. As I did so, I noticed a couple of chaps up the street, maybe ten feet away, loitering on the corner. I saw one of them looking straight at me and I assumed that a) he knew what I was doing, and b) he was probably a little envious. I know that whenever I see people smoking joints in the street, that’s how I feel. I even briefly imagined him coming over and asking if he could have a little, as occasionally happens. Anyhow, I carried on chatting to Shambling Luther. As it happens, we were chatting about the inherent risk involved in carrying smelly green stuff around London, what with all the sniffer dogs about the place, and police everywhere.

I finished making the joint and put it in my mouth. This would be the first tobacco I’d smoked in almost two weeks. I inhaled, but the light hadn’t taken. I was about to light it again when I saw that the two chaps on the corner were no longer on the corner, but were coming over. Naïve fool that I am, I still imagined they were going to ask if they could maybe purchase a little green stuff for themselves. In fact, I thought that right up until the moment one of them took out his badge and said something about the Metropolitan Police.

‘You have to be joking,’ I said, meaning it. Like there was no way this could really be happening. Like I was determined to cling to the paradise of the past, the good old days before everything had become tarnished, before the universe had become the heinous, unholy, nonsensical place it now was. They simply had to be joking.

They weren’t joking.

The first officer – let’s call him Bryan – reached out and took the tiny unsmoked joint from my hand. I think he said something about ‘a controlled substance’ as he placed the offending item in a jiffy bag and asked me if I had any more about my person.

‘You know I have,’ I said, sadly, the realisation of what was happening sinking onto me like a poison.

‘Yes,’ he confessed. ‘I do.’

With a heart as heavy as a barrel of bricks, I reached into my pocket and handed over £50 worth of the finest green stuff I hadn’t smoked in a long time. It really hurt. It didn’t seem fair.

Meanwhile the other officer was performing a perfunctory search of Shambling Luther’s person. ‘He hasn’t got anything,’ I said. ‘It’s all here.’

I asked if I could see the first officer’s badge again, just on the off chance it was all an elaborate scam by London-Omar types, small-time rip-and-run merchants on the make. When he showed me the badge a second time, I asked if I could take a photo. I told him I wanted to write about it, fully expecting him to say no. Instead he placed his badge on the window-ledge, right there on Errant Danny’s wacky stash-purse.

I've blurred his number so that he doesn't get in trouble with his colleagues for showing humanity.

Then he wrote up the incident, which he also let me photograph - but not the face, which, for an undercover copper, is probably fair enough.

He began by explaining the recent changes in the law, including the latest reclassification and explained that I would be receiving a warning.

I probably asked Bryan three times during the interview if he might not bring himself to just, you know, give me the stuff back, or at least some of it, maybe just one of the two little bags. Or even just the mini-joint. It would be a gesture. ‘I wish I could,’ he said.

‘But you can,’ I coaxed. ‘Just say yes.’

‘No,’ he said.

He asked me how much I’d paid.

‘Fifty quid!’ I cried, scandalised.

He asked me my name.

I wanted to refuse. ‘I’m anonymous!’ I wanted to yell. 'I disclose my identity to no man!' I told him my name instead. He asked me where I’d purchased the drugs. I wanted to tell him. ‘I got it from Errant Danny, who resides at 420, London High Street.’ But instead I said, ‘You don’t really expect me to tell you, do you?’

He said, ‘No. Shall I just put “street”?’

I said yes and thanked him for his sensitivity.

It really was remarkably civilised. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that, essentially, I was being robbed, I would have counted it as one of the most heart-warming first impressions I’ve enjoyed for some time.

At one point – in a moment of desperation – I tried something outlandish. I held the gaze of the second officer - let's call him Ross - and I told him, earnestly, ‘These are not the drugs you’re looking for.’

He rewarded me with a slightly indulgent laugh, for which I was grateful, but it was not my greatest Jedi mind moment, it has to be said. I was like a poor man’s Derren Brown tribute act. I was like Dan Brown. Dan Beige even.

‘What about a bribe?’ I ventured. ‘What if I was to offer you the single ten-pound note in my pocket?’

To which Ross replied, ‘A couple of pints of Kronenberg would probably do the job.’

My eyes lit up. ‘Really?’

He shook his head. ‘No. not really,’ he said.

At the beginning of the exchange, Bryan had asked me if I had any photo ID, but then amidst all the bonhomie, he seemed to have forgotten about it. I reminded him and asked if he still needed to see any. I could be anyone, after all. He said it wasn’t necessary, as I was clearly being cooperative and civil. He said if I had been uncooperative, he would have had me against the wall and searched me properly. I imagined plastic, powdery gloves and enemas. I was touched that it wasn't happening.

‘You two are going to get so wrecked later,’ I said. ‘That’s really good stuff.’

‘Nah,’ said Bryan. ‘I don’t smoke.’

‘You used to though,’ I said, ‘before you were a policeman. I bet. Eh?’

He looked at me, smiled and paused long enough to clearly indicate that the answer was a resounding 'hell, yeah!'

‘No,’ he said. How we laughed.

‘Oh, this is ridiculous!’ I said, politely exasperated. ‘Isn’t it?’

He agreed. ‘It’s the system,’ he said.

‘The system’s an arse,’ I said.

‘Yep,’ he said.

I asked him how come they happened to have been hanging around. ‘We’re everywhere,’ he said. He said they were particularly concentrated around Oxford Street because it’s a bit of a crime black-spot. A veritable street theft jamboree. I pointed out the irony. ‘You’re here to stop street crime!’ I hooted. ‘And here you are mugging me!’

He laughed generously. I’ve been mugged a few times, but this was by far the most humane. And as police experiences go, nothing could be further than my last experience. They asked me what had happened. I told them, mentioning that the arresting officer in particular had been a bad egg of the highest order. ‘With all due respect,’ I said, ‘he was an enormous cunt.’ I wondered as I said it whether I might have crossed a line.

Ross replied without pause. ‘About 90% of them are,’ he said, matter-of-factly. ‘And we have to work with them.’

It was very refreshing, and almost worth a pair of lost ponies for the insight into a different side of policing.

But not quite.

‘You do know I’m just going to have to go straight back and get some more, don’t you?’ I said at some stage.

‘That’s what everyone says,’ replied Bryan. ‘“I’m not gonna stop doing it.”’

I shrugged.

We are a nation of children.

The next morning Errant Danny became Healing Danny and helped me out with some of his own supply, which was very kind and much appreciated. He understands, you see. Restless souls have needs.

I left Danny’s around 1pm on Friday and wrote the following in lovely big note book:

The sun is out. You can smell it. It is a striking day. I’m gliding along the broad bright platform of an unfamiliar train station luxuriating in a five-minute break, chewing over recent events as I wait for my connection. Loud dramatic pop is emoting for all it’s worth in my ears, transporting me to a slightly more cinematic universe. The train appears on cue and transforms itself gradually, gracefully, from a glinting pin-prick of light on the horizon to a perfectly ordinary full-sized train. That’s physics.

Through the glass of scratched train-windows, I smell the sun through my eyes. It reminds me of holidays, and I feel right with the world and right with myself for the rest of the afternoon. And I get a hell of a lot done.

It’s a highly beneficent treatment, this green stuff, and personally I consider it a symptom of a rather terrible administration, and a rather backward nation, that the use of it is a criminal offence. I’m insulted. And occasionally indignant.

Anyhow, now I’m off to the countryside to eat lots of hand-picked, purely organic, naturally occurring and wholly illegal mushrooms.

Good old nature. Silly old system.

All in all then, an expensive, but interesting and somehow slightly gratifying learning experience. Don't smoke dope in the streets, kids.

Let that be a warning to you...

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