Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

Things you can’t do, according to Leviticus

19 Dec

After President Jed Bartlet’s epic Biblical put-down of a thinly disguised Anne Coulter clone in the West Wing, I read a blog somewhere which had a long, long list of  things forbidden according to Leviticus.

Having done some (frankly, cursory) research, here are  my top twenty sins, followed by commentary.

Enjoy, sinners!


1. Eating fat (3:17) – that’s all of us heading for the Big Bad Fire then, Scotland and the USA leading the charge.

2. Carelessly making an oath (5:4) – ‘I swear I left my keys here’ Zap!!! You’re gone.

3. Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6) – Quite right too.

4. Tearing your clothes (10:6) – Not sure if it needs to be deliberate or not…..

5 Eating – or touching the carcass of – eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19)  Not a lot of wiggle room left for those who like their birds of prey. No mention of the Bengal Eagle Owl though, and they’re massive, so plenty to eat if you can catch one of them – and it doesn’t eat you first. Did they have ospreys in Palestine?

6. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5) Seriously? You don’t want ‘em baptized?

7. Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4) One for us Judas Priest fans. We’re all damned to hell, apparently.

8. Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (19:13) – Proof that the lord is a union man.

9. Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14) – Yet it took us until 1985 to pass the Disability Discrimination Act?

10. Spreading slander (19:16) – Good to know that the tabloid press will roast eternally in the Lake of Fire

11. Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18) – Oh come on, give us a chance here…

12. Cross-breeding animals (19:19) – Anyone in the pedigree dog business better get moving.

13. Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23) – Eh? So why plant it then?

14. Trimming your beard (19:27) – Sexist. But I’m Ok, since I haven’t got a beard, ergo I can’t trim it.

15. Cutting your hair at the sides (19:27) – Only Bradley Wiggins escapes damnation.

16. Getting tattoos (19:28) – Shit. That’s me gone.

17. Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32) That’s only good manners, that is. I’ll be 50 next year, so show some respect.

18. Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34) – Hah! That’s this country’s favourite hobby stopped in an instant.

19. Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36) – Presumably this includes lying about your weight?

20. Selling land permanently (25:23) – the Land Registry and Estate Agents of this country are doomed, I tell you, doomed!

Seriously, the next time you want to quote the Bible in opposition to women’s equality or same sex marriage – read Leviticus, ask yourself how many sins you’ve committed and then feel entirely at liberty to – how can I put this? – shut the fuck up.

Swearing at Police officers then lying about it: a normal day in Downing Street

25 Sep

Normally, swearing at a police officer gets you arrested. In previous arguments or confrontations with the Police I’ve made great efforts not to swear, knowing that to do so invites trouble and allows them to ignore what you’re saying. I’ve been polite, respectful and insistent.

So I obviously missed the meeting where using the ‘f’ word was deemed OK in the vicinity of 10 Downing Street: presumably if you’re a bike-riding ex-public schoolboy with delusions of grandeur.

I wasn’t going to address ‘Gategate’ but this last two days has transformed a relatively minor matter – spoilt brat spitting the dummy because he couldn’t ride his little bike out of the big gate – into a zero sum game.

Either Andrew Mitchell is lying; or the Police officers who reported his behaviour and words are.

Cards on the table here: I am always ready to hear tales of misdeeds and troubles for the Conservative Party. But entrenched prejudices aside, I’m judging Mitchell guilty for one simple reason – five days on and at no stage has he told us what he said.

Any of us wrongly accused of something would immediately recount the correct and factual version. All Mitchell has said is ‘I didn’t use those words’.

That kind of snide political sophistry might be acceptable to a Prime Minister in deep electoral trouble who probably understands the crass stupidity of abusing police officers the day after two of their colleagues were murdered in cold blood, but it won’t wash with the rest of us.

Yvette Cooper is right to ask for an enquiry and the Labour Opposition are right to keep on at this.

Put simply, if Andrew Mitchell wants us to believe he didn’t call police officers ‘f*cking plebs’ and tell them ‘best you learn your f*cking place’, then he can kill this stone dead by telling us what he did say.

Go on Andrew, you know you want to…..

Friday’s foam-flecked fulmination: people who sing at gigs

10 Aug

I was going to write a short blog about five pet hates today but realized I have more than 3 decades of unresolved bile stored on one issue, which I will now publicly unburden: people who sing too loudly at gigs.

I can hear the intakes of breath already, but bear with me, I don’t mean everybody.

In 1977 I was 14 years old and given special parental permission to go to the Glasgow Apollo to see Status Quo. At the time, Quo were easily the loudest live act on the circuit and Donald Campbell, Kenny Murray and I were camped four rows from the front, agog. For days after, I had a loud ringing in my ears and as I approach my 50th birthday with 35 years of going to gigs behind me my hearing is, shall we say, not what it was. Thankfully these days many bands have substituted clarity and balance for raw volume and made going to live gigs a more interesting and less health-threatening experience.

But….reductions in volume mean I can now hear dickheads who think they need to sing along to every word and note. And I do mean every word. If you’re one of those people – and if you are, I despise you – just tell me why having paid for a ticket, you are not listening to the artist you bought the ticket for?

For absolute clarity, I’m not for a single second saying ‘stop enjoying the gig’.

I love live music, I truly do, and have enjoyed many great evenings, inspiring times and moments of sheer joy. By all means dance, pogo, headbang, nod your head, cheer, yell, punch the air and sing along with the chorus or lines that inspire you, or when asked to by the artist – but other than that, kindly shut the fuck up.

I already know the lyrics, you’re not a good singer – really, you’re not – it doesn’t make you an uber-fan to sing every word and even if you are, I don’t care and I’d like to hear the music please.

I’d like to end by listing all the annoying dicks here, hoping for some sort of catharsis, but that list would be endless. I’ll just settle for telling you about one guy I was near at a Springsteen gig in Sunderland in June 2012.

Bruce and the E Street Band started up ‘Point Blank’, a quiet, poignant, broke- hearted love song and a guy near to me, hearing the sublime and wistful piano intro told his mate and girlfriend: ‘Point Blank’ – as if identifying a new species of turtle on the Galapagos islands.

He knew some but not all the words, got about one in four correct, and thought he was showing off to his peeps, but after the gig I wondered why he didn’t just do what everyone else around him were doing: listen to a rare and wonderful song?

Five things that annoy you and won’t ever go back to the way they were. Ever.

23 Apr

Yes, it reads like archetypal grumpy old man musings, but here they are all the same. Inspired by having the misfortune to be sat behind 2 Oxford undergraduates in ‘Eat’ yesterday lunchtime, trying to have a conversation with the lovely Cherry and being distracted by the loud and vapid wittering going on in my vicinity. Meh.

How many strike a chord?

1.The use of ‘like’ in a totally inappropriate way.

‘Well, like, I, like, spoke to him, yeah, and he, like, was totally distant with me?’

Someday, somewhere, blood will be spilled if this goes on.

2.The pointless inflection at the end of sentence.

A legitimate linguistic approach if you speak Spanish, Italian or English and are American or Australian.  In all other circumstances, especially if you are posh and sat near me, it is strictly forbidden.

‘Like, I went to Subway? To get a sandwich? And, like, they didn’t have any hearty Italian bread? And, you know, no mayo either?’

Honestly, this would give an asprin a headache. Speak normally, or I may well do you harm and then explain to a sympathetic jury how your actions justified me twisting your head clean off and kicking it down the street shouting ‘I can’t take this any more!”. A jury of my peers would have me free and clear inside an hour.

3.The replacement of ‘have’ and the phrase ‘please have’, with the word ‘get’.

Symptomatic of linguistic dumbing down, a deterioration in politeness or a negative Americanisation. Take your pick.

‘Can I get a latte with milk?’ ‘Can I get a capuccino?’ Of course you can, you halfwit, you are in a coffee shop asking for coffee. And just because the person serving you earns £5 an hour, doesn’t mean they don’t merit ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.

4. People on mobile phones trying to do two things and failing, badly.

It grinds my gears to watch oxygen-thieves who stand in line at a supermarket or board a bus and absolutely must carry on their oh-so-interesting conversation, without acknowledging or speaking to the assistant/driver/HUMAN BEING they are handing money to.

Unless your call is life or death – and in which case why are you stood in Sainsbury’s and not jumping quickly into a taxi? – put the frackin’ phone down. Or try these words: ‘I’ll call you back in two minutes’. Go on, give it a bash. How would you like it if you went to pay at a till and the shop assistant scanned your items, didn’t look at you, whilst yammering their pointless drivel into his/her phone?

5. People who talk too loudly on their mobile phone.

Dear halfwit, the phone you hold so close to your ear has this device called an amplifying microphone. That means it will pick up your voice IF YOU SPEAK IN A NORMAL TONE AND AT A NORMAL VOLUME. If you think your mate or your sister will hear you better if you shout, you are a moron, Yes, you. No, I’m serious.

I’m not the only person within a fifty yard radius with minimal interest in who is picking Darren and Kylie up from school, even less interest in whether you ‘got that email’, and I am deeply and profoundly unimpressed if you think your life so important that you need to share the pointless, mind-numbing tedium of your working day or social life with me. Speak quieter, text or just better still shut up and let me read my book.

I’m aware this sounds like futile railing against modern life, but I don’t care. The older I get, the less inclined I am to just put up with sh*t and the more inclined I am to accept the wisdom of Jean-Paul Sartre’s observation that ‘Hell is other people’.

It’s not that I’m turning into a sociopath, it’s just that my Mother taught me basic manners and mutual respect should always be my starting point. Just as you sow, so shall ye reap, it says in some book or other……



Stephen Smith: writer

Rants, rambles and other assorted thoughts

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