Month: March 2018

Ode To Mumsie

Sunday 11th March is Mothers’ Day in the UK, originally a celebration falling on the fourth Sunday of Lent when Catholics and Protestants would visit their ‘mother’ church but now hijacked for commercial purposes of selling greetings cards and charging over the odds for a pub lunch. Nonetheless, it is a nice opportunity to celebrate mothers and motherhood and be thankful for the tireless patience of those special women who brought us into the world.

All mums are special and I am no different from anyone in thinking that mine is the best. She is the actual best. Regular readers will know of Mumsie; not only is she the butler-seducing star of Who Shot Tony Blair? but she pops up in many of my adventures and even has a lecture hall named after her in The Vanishing Lord. Being a mother isn’t a walk in the park for anyone, but Mumsie has had a particularly trying time of it.


My entrance into this world almost killed her. After an endless labour, she ended up in intensive care and I was nipped out through the emergency hatch in the nick of time. Being the stubborn little tiger that she is, this episode did not put her off and she kindly popped out a little brother for me eighteen months later. For many years, I didn’t see this as much of a favour, quite frankly, but I’ve got used to him over time and, if pressed, will confess to loving him very much. Our father left not long after and from then on it was just the three of us, with Mumsie taking on the additional role of dad with typical aplomb.


Families come in all shapes and sizes these days, but in the early 80s, attitudes were different. Being a single mother was met with an unpalatable mix of consolation and revulsion and even as a child I was all too aware of the pitying looks bestowed upon us with underlying judgement. There was never much money about and sometimes we were cold, but love, fun and laughter were abundant. With quiet dignity, a stiff upper lip and mindless optimism, Mumsie showed us and the world that there was no cause for shame and nothing to fear.


Mumsie is fearless. With only herself to depend upon, she turned her hand to anything and everything. Fixing cars, cutting down hedges, putting up fences – she just got on and did it. She taught us, through her own example, the importance of being able to stand on our own two feet and not have to rely on anyone for anything. Of course, knowing that she is there waiting in the wings plays a huge part in having unshakable confidence in my own independence. And she is still the first person I turn to in times of crisis, achievement or just plain oddity. She has never been much of a cook, sadly, but luckily I had my Nan to instruct me in the revered kitchen arts.


Bringing up teenagers is not for the faint of heart – a teenaged Lucy was certainly a handful. I ran away from school, cut off all my hair, had unsuitable boyfriends, dressed like Tank Girl for a couple of years and got my nose pierced whilst waiting at the bar in The Racehorse after being expressly forbidden from pursuing this course of body modification. I was horrendous for a time and Mumsie must have gone through Hell, but she artfully managed to navigate the lines of guidance and interference – always giving me space to make my own mistakes whilst being close enough to rush in and pick up the inevitable shattered pieces of my numerous poor life choices. She told me that she never worried too much about me, however, as she says ‘the Devil looks after his own’. I like to think that instead it is her influence in my upbringing keeping me from deviating too far from the straight and narrow. Throughout these fractious years she never let me feel that she wasn’t proud of who I was and supported my boisterous explorations of finding my place in the world. Now, I try to live my life in a way that will make her proud and show my true and deep appreciation for her exceptional fortitude during this time.


Mumsie is sort of a mythical creature. I have only seen her cry once, only heard her fart once. This latter occurrence filled me with such delight and surprise that I immediately rang my brother, and told everyone at work about it the next day. I hope the times I see her cry are few and far between, but I await further outbreaks of flatulence with gleeful anticipation.

So here’s to all the mums! The women who gave us life, show us the way, never let us down. To the mums near and far, to the mums watching over us in the everafter. My mum is tiny in stature but her heart and spirit are enormous and I am proud to share her with you all. If I can become even half the woman she is, I’ll be doing alright.

Who Shot Tony Blair? – Meanwhile, In Oxford…

In a post-Brexit, pre-dystopian Britain, the traditional political system has collapsed and Oxford and Cambridge are on the verge of war. Cambridge have captured ex-Prime Minister and notorious warmonger Tony Blair and tied him to a chair in the kitchen. Door-to-door duster salesman and occasional spy Nigel Farage has just returned from his mission to gain information on Cambridge’s plan, to report back to his master Boris, King of Oxford…

Trenton Babbage & The Bacon Smugglers – Part Five

Here we rejoin guest writer Trenton Babbage for the next part of his epic bacon smuggling adventure…

Part Four can be found HERE

muroidal anus about the price of champagne; I can concoct my own insipid libation for free by making bubbles in the bath; nor do I care for your diamonds and pearls and pretty little trinkets, please attach whatever price-tag a healthy conscious would balk at.

But I do care about bacon.

A wise woman once said, ‘I strongly believe that it is through bacon that world peace will finally be achieved’, and I’m inclined to agree; but I also believe that quality bacon should not just be restricted to the elite – they can have gout and like it – it should be available to the masses, and that is what we intend to achieve. We are not interested in supplying the aforementioned quality butchers; they already have quality bacon. We are on a quest to supply the Spars of the world, the Premiers – not the co-ops; they’re bastards – for the bacon in these places is crap; cheap and crap, and we think it should be cheap and excellent. That is all.

I have recently come into possession of some rather interesting documents (real actual paper documents found in a stereotypical wooden chest in a stereotypical wooden attic; anyone who says it was originally written as a blog is a lying poo poo head) detailing the exploits of a young explorer searching for the mythical land of Shangri-La. This in itself is obviously fascinating and worthy of much deliberation and discussion; however, what intrigued me immediately was his mention, in a transcribed radio interview, of a man referred to under various monikers as ‘the map maker’, ‘the crazy canadian cartographer’; an ethereal being by the name of Winter Lent. This man has been recommended to both Perl and me as someone we must visit if we’ve any intention of finding that which is not of the common conscious; something that this young explorer was certainly looking for.


The following is that transcribed radio interview conducted by a person called Sacha Inchi (gender unknown; possibly irrelevant):

SI: Welcome back listeners and thank you for staying with us for what will be a most fascinating interview I’m sure. Today I have great pleasure in introducing to you all, the explorer and Shangri-La expert, Thatch Herringbone.

TH: Thank you for having me.

SI: Thatch’s primary, nay solitary, exploratative purpose is that of the discovery of Shangri-La; it has taken him to such far-flung places as Sheffield, Hampstead Heath, and soon the sight of his latest expedition, Upper Tooting Road, specifically the junction where Moffat Road meets Kellino Street, just down from the Tooting Islamic Centre. But Thatch will give us more details about that in a minute; first let us get to know the man; Thatch, tell us a little bit about yourself.

TH: Thank you again, Sacha, for having me on your show. Well, my name is Thatch Herringbone and I’m a twenty-three year-old explorer living in Lubumbashi, the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A place that as you may or may not know, is steeped in superstition, myth and folklore; undoubted influences on my subsequent infatuation with Shangri-La.

SI: So when did you first have this seed planted within you?

TH: Really as young as I remember I’ve always been fascinated with the notion of a mythical place that could actually exist if people only knew where to look.

SI: As I’ve mentioned, you’ve explored various places but have been unsuccessful in finding Shangri-La. What makes you think that Upper Tooting Road will be any different?

TH: Well, the ‘Crazy Canadian Cartographer’ not to put too fine a point on it!

SI: And who is he?

TH: A man recommended to me as someone I must visit if I’ve any intention of finding that which is not of the common conscious. He provides maps of the soul you could say; a most enlightening experience.

[Here the transcriber got bored, and doodles a picture of a frog.]

SI: That is one of the most fascinating things I think I’ve ever heard. So tell us about your latest venture!

TH: Upper Tooting Road! Yes, I’m extremely confident about this; I am aware of course that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants for this one. The original exploration by the Monty Python team climbing up the north face of the Uxbridge Road was groundbreaking in its discoveries and methodology, and gave a whole new idea as to how to view these places you were aiming to discover.

SI: So tell us a little bit about your plan of action.

TH: We shall be parachuted in to ‘Harringtons’, the pie and mash shop; this is the closest I can get because of the permanent no-fly zone in operation, and of course we’ll probably be a bit peckish. We shall head south east along Selkirk Road until we reach the junction with Upper Tooting Road itself – should I realise that we’ve forgotten anything, I can just nip in to ‘The Travel Shop’ for supplies; I hear they do a fine line in crampons.

Our first camp is intended to be outside ‘Tooting Dental Care’ – we’re still waiting for written permission but the conversations we’ve had have fillinged us with nothing but confidence.

SI: Was that a dentist joke?

TH: ……..No…………… anyway, we’ve no real idea as to the local costs but by the time we reach ‘Tooting Dental Care’ we hope to have a good idea of how much we’ll need to travel the rest of the way, and whether we’ll need to pay VAT on anything in ‘Greggs’ [This gives an idea of the date of this expedition.]. We’d rather not go in to the fiscally volatile bank of ‘Santander’ so we’ll opt for the far more trusted and reliable firm of ‘Habib Bank AG Zürich’ opposite our base on the corner of Upper Tooting and Gatton.

At the end of the second day we aim to arrive at ‘Greggs’ for our evening meal. Our intelligence suggests that this is a relatively quiet and simple stretch of road to navigate and traverse so we may get to pop in to ‘Oxfam’ for a bad lampshade and some pornography on VHS.

The third day should see us reach our goal of the ‘Sajna Hair and Beauty Institute’ where, I believe, we will find Shangri-La, and hopefully enter it. We’d like to have a look at how buoyant the local property market is at ‘Bernard Marcus Estate Agents’ but our head cameraman’s new house has dry rot, which he is suing the Estate Agents through whom he bought it for not telling him, and he’s subsequently developed a mortal hatred of all their kind – we wish to avoid conflict at all costs. We’ll stop for a coffee of course at ‘Coffee Max’ and most probably a bun or two depending on our finances, and should anyone require any drugs, plasters, ointments or pointlessly small nail clippers, then a trip to ‘Barkers Chemists Tooting’ will be forthcoming.

SI: Well that all sounds extremely interesting and exciting; please come back and tell us all about it as soon as you can.

TH: Thank you I will.

SI: And the very best of luck to you.

Now I don’t know about you, but I