Barry Barmcake - Ukulele Leg End and Marmite Lover!

The 'One Man Jedward' from Wigan, Lancashire!

MEEMAWS?

Okay then... "Memoirs". This is me going on about stuff I've done, and some of the cack that's happened in my life so far.

Random stuff, but hey, it's all true!

So...may I present to you:



The Life Of Pie (And Chips) - The Auto-Barmography

(Written in 'posh' so every bugger can understand - Wigan folk... subtitles available on SITHI-FAX, page 888)

THE SCHOOL TROUSERS

It was my first day at school, and like anyone going on a new venture I was frightened yet excited.

As we all stood there in the classroom I did something that I have never done since (that I'll admit too) - I wet myself, but instead of declaring this to my teacher I had formed a plan: I stared at the ceiling with such intensity that soon enough every other child there stared also.


'What are you all looking at?' asked the teacher.


'Please miss' I replied, 'please miss, I think the roof's leaking'.


I could have got away with it if I hadn't been wearing light grey trousers; for all around the crotch and inner thighs were sodden, and you didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out what had happened.


Thankfully she took me quietly away to the toilets to clean myself up.


'I'll wait outside' she said, aware of my shame and need for privacy. 'Leave your trousers and underpants where they are. Tell me when you've done and I'll give you another pair of trousers to wear. I cleaned myself up and called out and she opened the door slightly to hand me the trousers.


The School Trousers!


Nothing had prepared me for this sight: had some drunken or disgruntled sewing machine operator made these? The measurements may have been taken from a hippopotamus without street cred, they were wide-waisted, short legged and covered in hideous huge purple and grey checks.

Even worse was the discomfort I suffered once they were on.

I have never had to suffer the indignity of lice or flea infestation, but I'm sure that 'The School Trousers' had been made to simulate the sensation.

So out I went scratching and adjusting myself and trying the best I could to fit into the trousers.

There stood the teacher patiently waiting without a look of scorn or sympathy but one of understanding.


'Please Miss,' I ventured 'but me Mam'll go mad if I don't get my pants back'


'Don't worry' she said, ' they'll be washed and ironed before half-past three'


'And my underpants?'


'Yes, those too'.


I'd never had my underpants ironed before - a rare treat!


At that point, the only thought in my head was 'thank God I don't wear brown y-fronts like Brian Morrison' - Brian being the younger brother of my friend Colin: one day Colin pulled down his brother's shorts to show a gang of us the colour of his underwear - no that we requested this, but what are brothers for if not to cause embarrassment?


'Uugh look' he said as he pointed to the said garment 'brown they are. Do you know why he wears brown underkecks? So he never has to wipe his bum and nobody'll know!'


And from that moment on Brian was somehow distanced from the rest of us.

When he left school Brian joined the army and became a Paratrooper... I don't know what colour underkecks they were, but clearly the whole incident didn't do him any harm.

As for me?

I was well on the way to becoming a Professional Liar.

D-I-A-R-R-H-O-E-A

D-I-A-R-R-H-O-E-A

How can I describe my Granddad?

In my eyes he could do no wrong.

He had come to live with us when I was very young and always spoke to me as if I was an adult; I respected him and am grateful for two gifts that he gave to me - a unique (if slightly warped) sense of humour and the ability to become an exceptional speller.

An example: at the age of around three or four I had heard the word 'diarrhoea' used in a conversation somewhere and asked what it was.
Now whereas an adult might silence a child, he explained it and then taught me how to spell it.

And spell it I could, from memory at any given time.

Some children perform party tricks such as singing or dancing much to the delight (and sometimes prompting) of a parent - my particular skill however was an abhorrence.

"And what can you do lad?" I would be asked, and before my Mam or Dad could stop me, I would say proudly:

"I can spell diarrhoea... see... D-I-A-R-R-H-O-E-A.".

No one ever applauded.... perhaps they were scared I might follow through with a practical demonstration!

Granddad was also an avid reader and loved cowboy novels.

When I came home from school he would often shout me over to show me a passage that he had earmarked, usually it would involve breaking wind (I never knew why cowboys needed to fart so much), much to my delight.

I do remember however that Granddad had a cruel sense of humour, which I think passed over to me when he died.

An example: if I had a balloon as a child I would happily bounce it up and around the room (this was pre-Nintendo era you must understand).
He would sit with a cigarette in his hand and watch for a while before asking me to pass it over to him, and that he would send it back to me.
Now I knew for a fact that he loved to burst balloons with his lit cigarette, and was reluctant to do as he wished.

The conversation would go something like this - he would frown and say:

"Don't you trust me?"

"No" I'd reply, "you always say this, and you'll still pop my balloon!"

"Well that's nice" he'd sulk, "and after all I've given you" etc. etc.

That clinched it - emotional blackmail!

I'd feel guilty, launch the balloon and...

POP!

Followed by a fit of uncontrollable laughter from Granddad, and the realisation that I would never learn from this!

Granddad also told me some tales of when he was younger, most were humorous and I still laugh about them today.

Here is the one that most sticks out in my mind:

At one time he was a lorry driver, delivering heavy goods along the British motorways.

On one occasion his wagon broke down somewhere in Wales and he went to look for help: the roads were mostly deserted and he wandered a mile or two until he came upon a large farmhouse.

As is usually the case in these scenarios (like some second rate British horror movie) there was no telephone, and, as it was late, no-one in the farmhouse was prepared to drive out and summon help.

"I'll tell you what I'll do" said the farmer, "You can stay here for the night, I'll put you in baby's room - there's a bed by his cot, you're welcome to use it".

Granddad gratefully accepted the kind man's hospitality, and as a gesture he offered to take the farmer and his son's to a nearby pub where the drinks for the evening would be paid for by him.

All went swimmingly, and the revellers had such a good time that they made Oliver Reed look like a teetotaller.

All staggered back and Granddad found himself asleep in the bed in baby's room.

As many people know, the human bladder has a distaste for alcoholic drink, and Granddad's was no exception - at around two o'clock in the morning it told him that it needed emptying - urgently!

But what to do?

Granddad did not know the layout of the building, and was something the worse for wear.

His mind raced, and the need for relief pained him.

He wondered: where was the toilet?

Did they even have a toilet?

Even in his drunken state he hit on the perfect solution - take a pee in baby's cot!

Let the cherub take the blame... just one night in his own piddle wouldn't harm the little bugger, would it?

So cradling the child in his arms and careful not to wake him, Granddad gently placed him on the bed before unzipping his flies and getting rid of a good few pints of spent ale into baby's cot.

Heavenly relief!

Although ashamed of what he had just done, he felt so much better for it.

"Sorry little 'un" he said to baby "you're going to have to take the blame for this one!" and he went to pick baby up just as a noxious smell hit his nostrils.

To say that baby had been 'unwell' was an understatement - baby had been very unwell and had let loose the very stuff that Granddad was to teach me the correct spelling of many years later...

Baby had had diarrhoea.

This particular story ends with Granddad opening the window and disappearing away into the night, probably leaving the farmer and family wondering... 'who was that generous man with the bowel problem?' for many years to come.

aye aye

I’ve always had the ability to mix being ‘daft’ with being intelligent, to a point where it’s hard to know which is more predominant.

For example, the other week I must’ve suffered a brain-fart (an unusual and possibly spurious neurological disorder) because I said to my wife:

“Here… that Paul McCartney song ‘Live & Let Die’… which James Bond film was that the theme tune for?"

I shan’t tell you her reply.

An early example of my stupidity was when I was around seven or eight of age and had to have a standard eye examination whilst at school: it comprised of the usual wall charts and colour-blindness tests (the results of the latter then and still even now being dismal - how I can manoeuvre through traffic lights I'll never know!) - and then the big one!

The ophthalmoscope!

Sounds impressive, but isn't - it's the given name little hand held eye-examining thingie with a magnifier and light: no doubt available on eBay for a couple of quid nowadays).
So what was my problem?
Nothing at all, the doctor kept telling me to look at the light and I did.
A puzzled expression appeared on her face and she asked me again to look at the light.
And I did - again... and again... and... well, you get the general idea.

The upshot being that my Mam was called in and was informed by the doctor that I had a very bad squint which might possibly require surgery at some stage to be corrected.
My Mam became defensive and said there was nothing wrong with my eyes at all, then in the tradition of most Lancashire mothers, she grabbed hold of me and snarled:

"What the hell have you been playing at?"

"Nothing" I protested, "She told me to look at the light and I did, over and over again."

And what protected me from painful surgery?

The simplest of actions - a point from my finger...

At the lightbulb on the ceiling - the very light that I had been focusing on!

And did we all sit around and laugh at this simple misunderstanding, like on some sitcom?

Did we buggery! I got a smack round the legs and was dragged away.
And even now all these years later, I have regular eye examinations (as I wear contact lenses and glasses, for reading and seeing things) I still dread the "look at the light" part of the examination.

But conditioning and a good memory of slapped legs always prevent my eyes from veering towards the ceiling!

melton mowbray

I remember as a kid having a very posh friend.

What do I mean by posh?

Well his mother had a fruit bowl on the table in the living room or 'lounge' as they preferred to call it... but to me a lounge was just like a living room but without a fruit bowl on the table... or a table to have a fruit bowl on.

What was more impressive was the fact that it was filled with different types of fruit... they even had grapes in it despite no one in the house being ill.

It never dawned on me that grapes could be accessible all the time, but I should imagine that to many people this is not unusual - for example people drink Lucozade any time they like nowadays, but back in the 1970s it was just administered to people who were ill in bed or in hospital; which in reality is idiotic to give someone infirm a high energy drink that would have them buzzing like a fly on amphetamines.

Anyhow I digress.

My friend Anthony Driscoll was PROPER posh.

He was one of those kids that could make a school uniform actually look smart, something that the majority of us strived for but ended up looking like Fungus the Bogeyman on a budget.

He also always had a perfectly knotted tie, this was something I would have envied but for the fact that he was a cheat - his dad fastened the tie onto himself perfectly every evening and then hung it over the banister rail ready for Anthony to put on in the morning.

How posh is that?

His own father was not only his butler but also his 'gentleman's gentleman'.

One thing that impressed and annoyed me at the same time was the food that his parents bought - from Marks & Spencer.

I'm a bit of a hypocrite when I think about it because I now buy from Marks & Spencer occasionally.

I've even eaten sushi but I try not to broadcast that because I don't want to steer away from my roots (I did have the sushi on a barmcake though so I think that's acceptable.

Anyhow as I say everything the Driscolls had came from Marks & Spencer (excluding clothing because Anthony would only work named brands such as 'Farah' and sports branded clothing... far too posh to wear the 'Hi-Tec' reject trainers and 'Le Shark' t-shirt copies the rest of us proles wore).

I'm aware that I may seem a tad ungrateful because Mrs Driscoll was kind enough to feed me, but I couldn't help but be suspicious of the food presented to me with its 'M&S' branded wrappings - sure, they may have looked and tasted like chocolate teacakes but they weren't the ubiquitous 'Tunnocks' brand, so I ate them with caution.

So whenever I went to Anthony's house I would look upon any meal kindly given with apprehension, caution, suspicion, and curiosity...
a mixed bag really.

But one day Anthony took this brand snobbery to a level which I could not forgive - the day he brought a posh Melton Mowbray pie to school.

Now I had never heard of Melton Mowbray, the place or the pie, but I saw the 'M&S' logo on the perfectly wrapped pork and pastry savoury.

It looked like something you would get in a Christmas hamper, not something for everyday use at school.

I looked at my own sandwiches with a mixture of contempt and a self-pitying 'feeling bloody sorry for myself, poor wee Tiny Tim poverty' thing - although there was nothing wrong with the corned beef and piccalilli sandwiches served bloody great door stop style served in tinfoil wrappings, but they were not in the same league as this unholy pie.

And the worst of it?

Well put it this way Anthony couldn't hold it in one hand because it was so big yet he troughed the lot!

He never offered me any, and despite my hypocrisy, I would have gladly taken a piece and wolfed it down!

At that point I decided to move away from him and sit on my own to eat my cheap Asda branded chocolate-style wafer biscuit before he further rubbed salt in my wounds ('M&S' finest salt no doubt) by producing and scoffing some superior delight.

And today more than 30 years later I still feel a lump in my throat every time I see a Melton Mowbray pie...

and that lump is not the ghost of some stuck meat or gristle, but a memory triggered that I could do without.

Still... not that it bothers me... except for when I occasionally cry out 'MELTON MOWBRAY' during the night, but thankfully that's happening less and less nowadays.

THINGS THAT GO ‘SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH’ IN THE NIGHT

I’ve always had an active if not overactive imagination, which is great for inspiration and creativity but bloody horrible for setting the mind racing, especially after watching a horror film.

Even today, if I watch something spooky late at night, I’ll take one of my dogs to the toilet with me if I need to nip for a pee… although what a Border Collie would do to protect me from a supernatural entity I have no idea, but like in the Vietnam films, I’m reassured to have a ‘buddy’ there for backup.

So let’s go back about 25 years when I still lived with my parents (someone had to) back in those far off days before texting and satnavs came into being… times were much simpler, and believe it or not back then we’d read these things called books. Now a book – they required no batteries but unfortunately didn’t have built in backlighting like these kindle thingies and the like, so one would have to read with a light on.

And that’s what I was doing one night in the wee hours (although I’d been for a wee earlier), reading the brilliant novel “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King.

I’d read this many times and loved it, and although it still sends shivers down my spine (it’s a medical complaint ‘spinal shiveryness’) I’ll probably give it another read soon (dog on standby for protection should I need a wee after dark).

I also enjoyed the t.v. movie of the same directed by Tobe Hooper, and there’s a scene that stands out more than any other and still looks remarkable today even though (shock horror) there are no CGI effects.

The scene is this.

A kid’s been bitten and turned into a vampire.

We find this out as his brother looks over to the window where there’s a build up of cloud and spooky violin music.

In the cloud there’s his brother doing this bonkers breast-stroke sort of action in mid-air, he approaches the window and scratches and scrapes at the glass, which squeals, ‘chalk on blackboard’ style.

Anyhow, his brother lets him in, gets chomped… later turns into a vampire himself and also has a go at this freestlyle vampiric air-swimming.

So although I was reading the book, I was immediately transported back to the scene from the film and had a ‘sly look’ at the window, before dismissing thoughts of anything spooky… besides, my bedroom was downstairs, and in the film the lad was mooching about outside an upstairs bedroom window.

I was safe.

Until I heard a scratching at the window.

Luckily, I’d emptied my bowels earlier, so no risk of accidents, but I definitely could hear scratching.

I got out of bed and walked over to the curtains – I didn’t have a crucifix but had numerous heavy metal albums… but not one of ‘em had a cross on the cover (ironic really, as many did, just not the ones in my collection).

I flung back the curtains dramatically… maybe I thought doing so would scare an undead creature or something (this based on NOTHING whatsoever).

There, outside the window was a face.

That face was attached to a head, which was in turn attached to… well, you see where this is going.

The face belonged to my mate Stey.

“It’s me!” he said, confirming that he was indeed himself.

What didn’t help was that there was blood around his mouth and nose – not because he was an engorged vampire, but because someone had whacked him one.

The ‘someone’ in question was his Mam I found out on letting him in (through the front door not the window – this wasn’t a vampire film) – she’d caught him smoking a joint in his bedroom (a cannabis cigarette I mean, not a cut of meat), gave him a smack and clod him out.

A bit harsh?

Not harsh enough?

I don’t know your views on drugs, but let’s not be hasty… the reason she’d ‘gone off on one’ was not because he was smoking an illicit substance, but because he’d sneaked off to his bedroom with it, instead of sharing it with his Dad!

His Dad was an avid fan of the stuff and would gladly share with Stey, so the selfish bugger was certainly not in favour with his mother!

So there was Stey needing somewhere to sleep for the night.

No worries.

At least I wasn’t being tormented by the undead.

And then at that point, my Mam burst in.

“I heard voices” she said… well she would, I was having a conversation – voices are often heard during these.

“I thought you were chanting or doing something ungodly!” she added always ready to combine religious zeal with stupidity.

“Why the heck would I be chanting?” I asked incredulously.

“Well I never know with you” she replied without even the hint of an apology for this slur (she never apologised for anything, as she’d decided she was always right a long time previously) “you’ve all them heavy metal albums, so I don’t know what you get up to.”

I’ll leave it at that for now, because what else can you add to a statement like that, other than I have not ever, nor will start chanting…

but I won’t sign to that effect because 'you never know with me' apparently(!)

“ME CABANA’S STUCK IN THE MACHINE!”

Not something that you hear every day admittedly, mind you, neither was something a work colleague said to me the other day:

“Oh WOW! I can’t believe the size of your gerbil!”

(All innocent I assure you, but there’s certainly scope for an ‘Are You Being Served?’ type joke there).

Anyhow… let me explain about the Cabana incident, because once you know what I’m on about, hopefully you’ll be able to piece together this rather bizarre literary jigsaw puzzle that I’m describing.

Once upon a time in a Galaxy (or was it a Dairy Milk?) far, far away…

Well, back in 1987 to be exact.

I was in the Sixth Form at school and was doing ‘staying on’ – i.e. instead of leaving school my Mam had decided that I was ‘far too clever to leave’ (this unsupported by trivialities such as evidence) and twisted my arm into staying on for further study.

So there was me one day recovering from a hypothetical ‘twisty arm’ in the sixth form recreation area.

In that room was a vending machine, and in that vending machine… was A CABANA!!!

Immediately attracted by the capital letters as seen above, I was over the moon!

Here was a chocolate bar that I thought no longer existed but absolutely bloody loved.

So what was a Cabana?

I say ‘was’ because this poor confectionary is now extinct like dial-up internet, the Dodo and white dog’s bizz.

The Cabana chocolate bar was sort of a ‘posh’ Bounty… it was sweetened shredded coconut covered in chocolate like the Bounty, but also had pieces of cherry and a caramel sauce filling.

From what I recall, this appeared in the early 1980s then was discontinued, but perhaps in catering or vending circles they still existed - and here was one!

Sod a trip to Willy Wonka’s factory!

I didn’t need a Golden Ticket – the confectionary in itself was a prize itself – plus I’d no desire to have Oompa Loompa’s singing at me thank you.

I’m bigging it up here, but believe me, my chocahoism was almost bordering on chocophilia where these buggers were concerned – this a result of years of health problems as a child in which I could not eat chocolate whatsoever (a lost childhood in this respect – all say “aaaw”).

So I wanted that Cabana, and made my move on the bugger!

Coins in.

Button pressed.

And that metal ‘corkscrewy thing’ that held the chocolate turned… and pushed the Cabana forward…

And nothing.

The bugger was jammed!

Now this absolutely FREAKED me out!

Although unaware that the thing was there a few minutes earlier, EVERYTHING had changed – my life depended on getting that Cabana and nothing else was important!

I’ll spare you the details of my ranting and raving to anyone and everyone about this other than to say I was getting nowhere – no-one appreciated that this was now my raison d’etre (which is French I believe for ‘eating raisins’) – my sole purpose in life.

So I decided “sod ‘em”.

And I went to the head honcho… or Headmaster as was his official title.

Mr. Williams was his name (and no doubt still is) and he was a great chap – the fact that he tolerated me and my nonsense was a major bonus… but also perhaps his downfall, because I decided that being ‘chummy’ with the fellow entitled me to burst into his office and declare:

“Me Cabana’s stuck in the machine!”

There were others present there and were rather official looking – mind you, EVERYONE was official looking to me, because I was probably the only kid at the place wearing ripped jeans, denim jacket and sporting heavy metal badges, patches and studded belt and wristbands, so in comparison, even a vagrant looked like a higher authority than myself.

Poor Mr. Williams being too polite to have me ejected, smiled and explained to the others, “this is Barry… he’s one of our more… eccentric students”.

To be honest, I think that was a rather nice label as opposed to the one I usually was given – ‘Gobshite’.

In fact, up until around the age of 12 I thought my name was Gobshite because I was called it that much.

Anyhow… long story shortened by a few hundred words, Mr. Williams contacted the vendors who came out a.s.a.p. (who’d have thought they provided emergency cover?) and I was got said Cabana.

I was happy, and the issue had been resolved with the minimum of fuss.

Worth the effort?

Definitely.

I enjoyed it immensely, and never saw one again.

But by that time I’d moved on anyhow – my attention was focussed on other things.

Not sure what they were, but luckily they weren’t Cabana related!

the perve in the park

THE PERVE IN THE PARK

I'm sure that I have some kind of inbuilt magnet for attracting weirdos,perverts and other ner-do-wells of society.

One example being a few years ago when I made the mistake of asking a gentleman when the next bus was due.

For some bizarre reason after answering my question he then went on to tell me how his wife was having an affair... and that he had wired up two car b...atteries to the letterbox in order to exact revenge on the Lothario she was tuttling.

"Mind you" he added "I have to remember to switch it off in the morning otherwise the postman will get a nasty surprise!"

To be honest I knew the conversation was going to take an unusual turn when he said

"Bus'll be here in five minutes. I ask you. What would you do if you came home and found your life shagging another bloke in your bed?"

(I knew it wasn't going to be a chat about the weather you see).

More recently I have been accosted in the park in the early morning whilst walking my two dogs.

Bank holiday Monday.

Seven in the morning.

Surely that's a time when all the perves should be in bed or at least locked away somewhere?

Well not this particular day.

We'd seen this chap on numerous occasions... one of those blokes you immediately would have marked down as 'odd' or even 'seedy'...

He even looked like the stereotypical pervert...

Scrawny bloke in his 50s.

Glasses.

Thin moustache.

He said good morning.

I replied with the same.

He then commented on it being a bank holiday and asked wad I doing anything later?

"I haven't given it much thought" I replied.

Now really I should have run off into the distance from this point on given my track record of attracting these buggers via my 'weirdo magnet', but no... being something of a genial chap and a conversationalist I asked him was he doing anything.

"No" he said, "but when I was younger I'd have gone out ragging... not any more though - my dick's shrunk"

An unusual statement and my cue to exit, but at that point he produced a folded piece of glossy paper from his pocket.

I wasn't expecting him to be showing me a recipe or a train timetable, and I had some inkling of what was to come.

When unfolded it revealed a photograph of a rather well built gentlemen.

This poor gent unfortunately appeared to have lost all his clothes.

Despite not wearing any, he was also rather well endowed in the 'trouser department', and Mr. Seedy commented in this.

"Look at the size of that!" He exclaimed.

"Imagine having one as big as that! I nearly died of a shock when I saw it!"

"Yes, I can well imagine that you would have" I replied as nonchalantly as I could whilst I planned on making my escape.

The thing about me is even in the most extreme situations I can keep my cool... up to a point where I appear not to react in any way whatsoever, but I wanted to get away.

I said "Right I'm going now... my dogs need a walk" and then left.

Two hours later when I decided to finally react, it dawned on me.

I'd been mithered by a pervert in the local park!

I have to say that I'm really glad
To be of an age when I can deal with something like this... joking apart this would have been very damaging had I have been a kid... bot maybe I have been safe.

Perhaps this oily bugger only goes for people in their forties.

Still it's just one of those events I can add to my long list of bizarre experiences.

I can however only hope that the poor gentleman in the magazine got some clothing after the photo shoot... I'd hate for him to have caught a cold!

As for Mr Seedy - I've avoided him since.

I hope he can find someone else to share his interests... alas it won't be me though.

If he'd shown me a photo of a ukelele are some marmite things could have turned out a whole lot differently!

"HAVE ANY OF YE HEARD OF ME?"

Imagine if you will, a private 'do' that a fan has requested you attend and 'do your thing'. Champion! Now picture this... you're stood waiting for the DJs to finish setting up, and you notice everyone smartly dressed... full dinner suits for the chaps, smartly tailored frocks for the ladies...

Well I don't need to imagine - that was me at a recent gig.
There I was, stood like a dog-turd's poor relation... bobcap, specs, t-shirt and jeans... all well and good when that's your 'act', but in a posh gaff one feel most decidedly scruffy!

Anyhow, whilst waiting, I was told by the chap organising the event to "give this man anything he asks for" and there's times like that I wish I wasn't tee-total, because I could have cleaned the ruddy bar out and cost a small fortune... but no, a couple of pints of coke did the job nicely - all very snazzy too - a REAL slice of lemon in each - none of this 'Jif' rubbish!

So there I am, thinking about picking my noise and imagining someone saying "Hey... none of that, we've just had that carpet done, and we're not getting the Ewbank out again!" - for those who don't know, a 'Ewbank' was a manually operated cleaning thing... a vacuum-less cleaner that picked up dirt smartly and efficiently, only to randomly deposit the lot at a moment's notice. Ewbank daydreaming over, I'm told that I'm on!

So I get a big introduction... "just got back from a world tour... Los Angeles... Paris..." and I chip in with "Tyldesley" (quite a few laughs)... I get a round of applause and then go into my routine, and ask:

"Heyup. Now has any of ye heard of me?" to a resounding no.

Which I was made up with!!!

You see, I joke at times about my love of Marmite... but then again, a chap who's done songs/vids etc. and has a Marmite tattoo clearly must have some interest in the stuff.

For some time, I've referred to myself as 'Mr. Marmite' - reason: because I generally find people either really enjoy what I do, or really hate it - there's no kind of 'middle ground' for the thing, but hey, it's all good... or bad!

Now if people had heard of me, they'd know what to expect... but this... well, I knew in advance it'd be a mixed reaction - I mean... a gormless looking chap playing 'The Ace Of Spades' on a ukulele whilst singing badly - it's going to get a reaction.
The look on people's faces was priceless to me - and it really did seem to be 50/50 or 60/60, as there were approximately 120 people... all sat letting their fine meal go down and being 'entertained' by me before they could have a crack at some dancing (apparently this is something that people used to do before texting or updating their 'Facebook' statuses every few minutes).

Anyhow - half of 'em - tittering away and having a jolly time, and the other half... well...

Imagine a bunch of Victorian Ministers having a day out at the zoo and going into the Primate House... on entering, all the inhabitants spontaneously decide to 'enjoy themselves' in that certain way that might result in them going blind (or at least ensuring their being made to go to bed wearing boxing gloves from hence forward) - imagine the look on the Ministers faces!
Yep. That's the look I was met with.

And as I said - priceless. I'm not just saying that to put a 'brave face' on, I've done live stuff many times, but this is the kind of thing I love... I admit, I'm quite an accomplished ukulele player (no point being modest, I've put the hours in), and I can sing properly too - it's just I choose to do the 'daft' version because it's more entertaining for me, and for other people to it seems.

Not everyone's taste though... again, like Marmite! Here's to the next gig - fingers crossed that no-one knows me yet again, just for the pure hell of seeing that reaction once more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I've been thinking..."

I hate it when people say "have you got the right time?" why do they have to say the RIGHT time? Scared I'll make something up or just 'hazard a guess'? 

What's with all this "cheeky" business? "Cheeky" vimto and stuff... alcoholic vimto... or when someone has a "cheeky" drink... meaning they've sneaked one or summat - load of nonsense! Now... mor apt would be a "cheeky cack" - you know... when ye sneak off to the lavvy for a good thrutch, and ye stink the place out... then the next person who goes in ends up heaving whilst ye've fooked off!!! Now THAT is cheeky!!!

I was gutted the other day... I'd left my mobile phone at home... and in this day and age, that's like having a ruddy swastika tattooed on your head! Anyroad, what I did so as not to be left out... I nipped into a Charity Shop and bought a Shirley Bassey album on cassette (remember them?) - I then walked round holding that to my ear! Fooled everyone, 'cos you don't see cassette tapes now, and folk thought it was a designer 'skin' for me phone! Result!

 Getting a bit panicky here... I've a yoghurt in the fridge at home, and it goes out of date today... but it doesn't say what time - so when have I got 'til? I'd like to think that I've got 'til one minute to 12 tonight, but who wants to be eating a yoghurt that late anyhow?

That there song by THE MONKEES was on before... you know, it starts with "I could hide 'neath the wings of the blue bird as she sings"... and I was thinking - FRIG ME! How big was that bird at all? I know that the feller singing wasn't so tall but he weren't one of the bloody Borrowers was he?

I'm getting sick of Lady Gaga... the other day, she says "No one ever phones me up" so I said, "well... when anyone does, you start all this 'stop telephoning me' business - you were a bit off with me when I called the other day". "Aye well," she says, "I was creosoting the shed at the time, and you were only phoning to see if I wanted owt from Tesco - hardly a big issue" - she's a snotty mare!

Here... who decided that the noise a duck makes is "Quack"? I mean... listen to 'em... sorry to be rude folks, but it sounds more like "W*nk w*nk" than "Quack Quack"... mind you, cats sound like they go "rrrrryaaaaaaw" - I've NEVER heard one say "Mee-ow" like they do on telly! Like cows... "errrrrrn" they go - not "moo" - you have to pucker your lips to do that - you ever seen a cow do the same? No - I didn't think so - that's why cows don't go in McDonalds for coke... they can't get the straws to work properly!

I'll tell you what... I'm not going to try inhaling tabasco sauce ever again! "Oh Barry" says Lady Gaga, "it works... trust me, Justin Timberlake told me about it - best thing for unblocking your sinuses!" JEE-ZUSS!!! If this is whaat hell's like, I'm going to say me prayers tonite!

Peanuts are belting aren't they? (unless you're allergic, then they're not a favourite) I mean... they go well with sweet stuff AND savoury stuff - how do they know? Is there a switch on 'em that you need to set for each? Mind you... it's like bananas... they're supposed to be good for constipation AND diarrhoea... gawd help ye if you'd got the bloody thing set wrong though!

Lady Gaga's sulking wi' me... again! She went to a fancy dress part on Saturday and won second prize as a 'Sixties table lamp'. I was surprised to come first as a tramp... especially seeing that I'd only nipped in to say I'd come with the car to give her a lift home! Time to get some new threads from Tesco I reckon!

Darth Vader! More like "Darth Inhaler" - I knew I shouldn't have watched Star Wars the other day until them antibionics had kicked in... ye get out of breath just listening to that Sith b*gger when ye've got a chest infection!

You know them there apes, right? Well, if they ever lose their temper and go off on one, do their mates say something like "flipping heck, I see Frank's just gone HUMAN*SHIT again!"

Lady Gaga's been out all night, the derty stopout and I couldn't lock up proper and put the bolt on the door! I tried to ring her but she'd not got her phone switched on... the automatic message goes "Hello, it's me, Lady G - I'm probably p*ssed as a f*rt right now so ring me in a few days when I come round - and don't leave a message 'cos I can't be *rsed listening to it!" - huh! She don't sing THAT in the song eh?

Here... you know them their 'conjoined twins? What would you do if one was guilty of a crime? And how would you go on for 'Solitary Confinement'?

And speaking of twins... them two twins known as "Jedward" - top act and all that... but their names are John and Edward... now - why don't Ben and Jerry do the same thing and change to "Benje"... or "Benjy" to make it easier? Would mean less letters on the packaging and would be therefore more environmentally friendly!!!

If I'd've had a Death Star I reckon I woudn't have called it that... I mean... it's not going to be good for the morale of the folk working there... how about the "Thunder Ball" instead? Implies power and is a cool name... you'd be happier working there eh?

Just been thinking... if I had a time machine and went back in time and saw myself... and then killed the 'other me' - would it be suicide or murder?

The derty cow!!! I've just gone to use the lavatory and Lady Gaga has YET AGAIN not flushed... Jaysus, I had to look twice - I thought that an Otter had drowned!!! She's always doing that trick... yet I get her having her 'nasty head' should I not screw the lid back on the mayo jar! Double standards if you ask me!!!

Here, you know if you go to a music gig, they nearly always bugger off and then come back out again for an encore (even if you don't want them too) - it's almost a 'given' these days.Well - I was wondering - why don't you get that in a theatre - surely if you clap loud enough, they should come back out and do a monologue or a dirty limerick ot two?

Lady Gaga's gone too far this time!!! She went an put a potato in the exhaust pipe of the Ice Cream van... all because she didn't like the 'Greensleeves' chime and the feller told her he wouldn't consider changing it to 'Poker face' - the thing exploded... it were like summat out of The Simpsons only not as yellow! So ...the Bacon Brigade have just been round to caution her!

I laugh when people say "You'll never guess who I've just seen" - that's utter CACK!!! COURSE you can guess, no matter how daft, it's a GUESS!!! Lady G said it to me and I was trying to be witty, so I said "Gary Wilmott?" Surprisingly I was right... mad!

title

 


Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my mind.Uncle Rhubarb...

Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my mind.Uncle Rhubarb...

Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my mind.Uncle Rhubarb...

Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my mind.

Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my min

Who WAS UNCLE RHUBARB?

Uncle Rhubarb...

Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my mind. 
eUncle Rhubarb...

Every year we went away to a holiday camp, and at the age of twelve I was incarcerated at a well-known Butlins Detention Centre in Skegness, Lincolnshire. 

How best to explain a Butlins Holiday Camp? 

Well, it was like a small town built up out of apartments and entertainment centres, and had a huge fence around it with security guards at various points to prevent the general public from entering (and maybe the holidaymakers from escaping - I can't be sure, I never tried to bust out!)

It offered a cheap holiday where meals would be provided in a dining hall and all entertainment laid on as part of the package. Not as idyllic as 'The Village' in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner', but I must confess, it was only marginally better than the huge cess-pit that New York became in 'Escape From New York'. 

So me and my parents all got off the train, bundled onto a coach with our suitcases and bags and were taken to the gates of the camp, where Dad had to produce various documents of authenticity; it was like some horrible pastiche of a Nazi death camp, but the irony was lost on me at the time - to me it was simply a holiday and I was going to enjoy myself! 

Another thing that failed my attention at the time were the amusing titles given to the camp entertainers - they were called 'Redcoats' as each wore the obligatory red blazer as a uniform, and were known as 'uncle' or 'auntie' which was followed by their Christian names.

How odd it seems now! 

To be a child and go up to a complete stranger and address him as uncle would be abhorrent in these times of child molestation and abduction, but back then in the early eighties no-one batted an eyelid. 

So there I was locked in a bizarre brightly-coloured prison for seven days, and I loved it! 

I went swimming, drove go-karts, went to the cinema and best of all to the kids theatre where I found the genius of comedy that television had lost out on... 

Uncle Rhubarb. 

Uncle Rhubarb was an unusual name for a man with red curly hair, freckles, a huge red tartan cap and a red-clown nose - I always thought that a rhubarb plant was either green or purple but here was a red one! 

He'd entertain us with low-class entertainment: poor quality jokes and second-class magic tricks were followed by bumblings and stumblings on stage plus the traditional 'look out behind you' routines of pantomime. 

I had made a few friends and we all loved this Caledonian Clown: we were like some fools enjoying the antics of a juggler or ventriloquist heard performing on the radio, we were naive and used to rubbish like this - so we applauded everything and cried out for more. 

Later in the week I went along with my new found friends to get an autograph from our idol. We merrily trotted of to hunt down his apartment (commonly known as a 'chalet'), and like amateur Columbos, we could not be deterred from our investigation. 

We eventually found the chalet. It was away from the rest of the camp around the back of the kitchens and looked... well, kind of 'lived in'. There was rubbish cast over the front lawn and a rusted deckchair stood on sentry by the open door. Music blared out from within. We were mortified! How could they give such a hovel to this great man? Surely he should be in some mansion, not this pigsty. 

Urged on by my new friends I shouted in through the door: 

"Uncle Rhubarb, Uncle Rhubarb! We think you're great. Can we have your autograph?" 

There was a growl then nothing. This was too much like 'Red Riding Hood'!

Had he been eaten by a wolf? 

We hoped not and I called again. This time there came the strangest of responses: 

"Hawaayenfackyersellz! Hahmnocumminoot, yerweesheytz!". 

Which was followed by an empty whisky bottle landing near our feet. 

We concluded that Uncle Rhubarb had not been eaten by a wolf (perhaps the whisky fumes had driven it away) and beat a hasty retreat.
 
And so we carried on with our holiday, all remaining friends and having a good laugh together, although we had mixed feelings about comedy and clowns from then on, and we didn't go to see Uncle Rhubarb again. 

And even today so many years later I can only watch slapstick being performed if it is in black and white (such as Laurel and Hardy - particular favourites of mine) - if I saw any of the genre shown in colour I might see red somewhere along the line which would bring Uncle Rhubarb back to mind! 

Even though the man was utterly rubbish he still lives on in my memories all these years later.

Good or bad, it's just another piece of junk cluttering up the attic of my mind.