Last month I was swimming using one arm after having torn a bicep muscle. This week I’m swimming with one leg following the discovery of a torn medial knee ligament. It’s got to the stage now where I can’t remember the last time all my body parts were in working order, but it certainly wasn’t later than 1992.

And we’ll have no fnar-fnar from the stalls if you please. This is not a laughing matter. Laughing at my incapacities is ageist, and I would rush to sue anyone caught laughing about such things….were there any laws forbidding it. But as everyone like me (born in the first half of the last century) knows, there are no laws protecting the senior citizen from ageism.

Nor should there be. But look up all the laws to protect feminists, gays, trannies, Islamics, brats or ethnic minorities, and you will grasp that there are laws aplenty, Squire.

Mind you, there are no laws to protect bankers from criticism either. In that instance however, there are two things giving investment bankers unparalleled privilege. First, they’re insensitive wackos who lose trillions and no longer bankroll new businesses – preferring instead to defraud them; and second, they breezily admit their guilt but make no call on the legal system, because the authorities never actually send any of them to jail, as such. To be more precise – and let’s be clear about this, as Cammers would say – they don’t even bloody well threaten to send them to jail. Bankers do play monopoly on a daily basis, but they have no need of Get out of Jail Free cards, any more than I have need of tampons: I don’t have periods, and they don’t spend any period of time in jail. Ever.


I was struck the other day by the obvious evidence that lyricists entering the Eurovision Song Contest all have severe secondary cliché infections voraciously eating their brains. There’s nothing especially new in that observation, but with every year it gets more pronounced. Actually, most of it is in badly pronounced English, despite the fact that CDU fatneck Helmuts keep telling us that “today Europe iss German again speakink”.

The words to ESC entries are not so much escapist as mass breakoutist:

I look into the sky/ And get a little high/ Just thinking of the way/ We have so much today/ But now our love is real/ It’s easy just to feel/ A star is on my side/ And even oceans wide/ Will part to let us through/ and make…….once…more….new…

(Major strings buildup to chorus)

For we are born again/ and miracles transcend/ the bad things in the past/ and lies that never last/ the future bids us see/ that we’re forever free.

Nevertheless, for those of us short of breath and long of tooth, just as today everyone wants to escape from austerity drivel and Grant Shapps triumphalism, so too in the early 1950s, songwriters offered an altered reality in which there were no ration cards, drab fashions, smogs and generally dismal outlooks.

I wonder how many of my ilk now remember, for example, that memorable ditty I’m a pink toothbrush, you’re a blue toothbrush? The words went in this order:

I’m a pink toothbrush/ You’re a blue toothbrush/ Won’t you marry me in haste/ I’ll be true toothbrush just to you toothbrush/ and we’ll both use the same toothpaste.

Can any of you remember the words to Where will the baby’s dimple be?

On the baby’s knuckle on the baby’s knee/ Where will the baby’s dimple be/ Baby’s cheek or Baby’s chin/ Seems to me it’d be a sin/ If it’s always covered by a safety-pin/ Where will the dimple be?

It would be hard in 2015 to find similar rhymes describing the existential nature of idealised marriage given the mores of the time.

Finally, this next one is an ode to the passion for Calypso that typified the mid-century immigration of West indians into Britain. Entitled Who stole de ding-dong, it exemplifies the sunny optimism that occasionally broke through the slate grey of English summer cloud cover in the early Fifties:

Who’s got the ding dong who’s got the bell

Who’s got the ding dong who’s got the bell

Somebody know but nobody tell

Cause somebody bad stole de wedding bell

Tunneling out from the tedium of ‘real life’ is part of the human condition. Accidentally cursed with a large brain, Homo sapiens (as the name suggests) thinks too much about the global prat quotient – and obsesses about the past while becoming neurotic about the future. There will therefore, I suspect, always be a role for silly lyrics and puerile novelty tracks.


OK, this is it: I’m finally coming out. I shall stand up in any gathering of similarly afflicted folk and admit, “My name is John, and I’m a waterholic”.

I am in fact an NVE – a non-vintage echardist: that is, someone addicted to water in the soil that plants cannot reach. More ordinary mortals seek only the lagers that refresh the parts other beers cannot reach: but I am a human water-divining stick.

I think we NVEs should stop apologising for our minority addiction, and instead be ever so bold in admitting that we like to get one over plant life as opposed to one over the eight*. Did you know that NVEs can look at a bottle of beer for several minutes without being tempted? I myself can look at a bottle of Wolverhampton & Dudley mild without any sense of temptation whatsoever, forever. Such is the power of deep-background water.

You may think there is clarity in claret, and shattering truth in Chateau Neuf du Pape. Perhaps at times you find real life in Rioja, or get high on Hallgarten Hock. But only water wets the whistle like no other liquid on the planet.

For did not Hedda Hopper once say to W C Fields, “Mr Fields, you should drink more water and less alcohol”? And Fields replied, “Madam, strong alcohol is the perfect antiseptic, but I never drink water because fish fuck in it”.

Make what you will of such nonsense: I’m off to attend to the barbecue.

* One over the Eight: a Victorian term for pissed witless, still in regular use during the1960s, but now sadly no more.

Earlier at The Slog: Spiders, flies and the tangled Greece/EU web of deceit