I'm not a grumpy old man, just an out of synch hippy

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Dancin’ the Night Away


Even the most ardently youthful Baby Boomer becomes painfully aware of one fact. You can’t dance like you used to. These days your Twist is a slight wobble, your Mashed Potato is barely crumbled and your Chicken is definitely less funky. But we still love the music! Whenever the first bar of “Land of 1,000 Dances” blasts out, baby boomers leap out onto the floor, clutch their back, groan, and dial their osteopath.

After extensive field research I’m happy to report that there are a number of dance steps currently performed by baby boomers which don’t normally result in injury, at least to the dancer.  They may not be pretty for the viewer, but they feel beautiful inside. They are:

The Flapping Scarecrow   Dangle your arms, keeping your feet still. Now move your body awkwardly from side to side while violently swinging your arms. A slightly dazed, ecstatic look is appropriate.

The Hijacked Airliner   Alternately lifting your feet, raise your arms till they are horizontal, and bend them in at the elbow till your hands brush your ears. Sway from side to side, eyes upwards. Advance threateningly to the other dancers.

The Air Traffic Controller   Raise your arm straight up from the shoulder. Mouth the words to the song. Whenever there’s a guitar lick, make a fist and punch the air.

The Apathy Shuffle  One hand in pocket, the other hanging limp, stay on the spot, treading as if you were walking through a gardenful of slugs. This step is often done by those who have been dragged out by enthusiastic partners.

The Jim Carrey Mince   Elbows in, wrists out, move your body in a barely noticeable pendulum motion. All your effort goes into your face, which makes extreme expressions ranging from beatific ecstasy to contorted anguish.

The Cow in a Tornado   Simply flail wildly, acting as if you had no bones. Stagger round the floor, as if you were out of control. Correction. You are out of control.

The Cringing Teenager  A chance for the younger generation to shine. This one’s easy. Crouch at the back of the room, hiding your eyes either with your iPhone, or, in the unlikely event you haven’t brought it, the curtains. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Covering Art
The Kings of Leon new one?
When I was a teenager I didn’t really do art. If you’d have asked me, I’d probably have said that Van Gogh played inside right for Ajax and wasn’t Monet that shabby detective who kept lighting his pipe on the wall? I liked Rubens but that was because he depicted naked women lying on cushions smiling at me.

What I did was LP covers. I didn’t even need to leave my room. All I had to do was flop on my bed and stare at them for hours. Why stress over the significance of the hand gesture of a Madonna or the beauty of Turner’s treatment of water? I had far more important things to consider. Such as, did the trees in the background of the photo on Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” make the shape of a man’s face? Everyone said they did. I’d worn the grooves flat before I came to the conclusion that they made the shape of trees. Lots of lousy art appreciation but some great music.

And did the turned-down cornet on the cover of “Sergeant Pepper” in front of Ringo’s waxwork cover up an opium poppy? Was that really Jackson Browne dressed up as a lawman on the inside sleeve of “Desperado”?  And was the woman lounging by the fireplace on “Bringin’ It All Back Home” Bob Dylan himself dragged up? If so, what was the significance?

These were the serious issues I faced in my teens. OK, the Vietnam war, poverty and racism were important in their own way, but you had to put them to one side when considering why Roger Dean had painted the alien moon green on the latest “Yes” album.

I like to think I’ve grown up. I do art now. I was looking at Gainsborough’s portrait of the Linley Sisters last week. I stood for twenty minutes. Was that an alien spaceship hidden in the tree trunk? Could that be a magic mushroom growing under her slipper? And that sheet of music she’s holding – it isn't Hendrix’s guitar solo from “Voodoo Chile – Slight Return?”, is it?

If so – why?

Thursday, 11 April 2013


Celebrity Love Dance

It’s that Reese Witherspoon. All day long she rings, tweets, facebooks me. Do I want to hang around over a Big Mac, do I fancy a movie….. it’s sort of nice, but I’m feeling smothered. I keep wanting to tell her, “Reese, honey, I’m already spoken for. I’ve been Julia Robert’s other half since 1992. If she was good enough for me then, she’s good enough for me now.”  The trouble is, Reese is a real sweetie and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

So I meet up with George and natter about it. George – sorry, I should have said my old pal George Clooney, don’t know if you know him – says, “Tony, it’s a job for another woman. Get one of Reese’s very best friends gently to put her in the picture about you and Julia.” For this I buy George a beer. He appreciates it. He’s been a bit on his uppers lately.

So I take Scarlett Johansson out for a coffee to speak to Reese as they’re very friendly with each other. I’ve just told her about Reese's stalking when I notice Scarlett is gazing up at me with her head in her hands. She’s not listening. “I’d love another coffee” she says.

Next day I’m getting tweeted, rang and facebooked by Scarlett as well as by Reese. Every quarter of an hour my phone bleeps. I call up George for some more good buddy advice. He brings along Shailene Woodley – a sweet girl, they seem to be thick. I tell him how I’m not getting a moment’s peace from Reece and Scarlett and, frankly, it’s got to stop.

“Tony, you seem to get all this unwanted attention from lovely women” says George, “it never seems to happen to me!” Shailene is looking up at me with her big eyes. “I can see why” she murmurs.

 Next day I get tweeted, rang, facebooked and emailed every five minutes by Shailene, Scartlett and Reese. Julia’s beginning to notice something. Maybe it’s my blush when I get one of their fizzier messages. Something’s got to be done. Time for George again, who, although edgy about losing Shailene, always appreciates it when you buy him a beer.

I tell him that my life is being wrecked by the harassment I’m getting from beautiful people who don’t understand that I just want to be left alone. I break up mid-sentence and rest my head in my arms, sobbing. I control it and sit up, trying to smile.

“It's the first time I’ve looked at a guy this way,” says George, “Fancy giving it a go?” 

So now I'm being tweeted, rang, facebooked and emailed by Reese, Scarlett, Sheilene....and George.....

Friday, 29 March 2013


Customer Questionnaire

To improve our services to you, this blog would appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to complete this questionnaire.

Your visit does really matter to us.

Your age                           Young and fresh             Old and fagged out      
Your gender                      Female              Male                   Undecided

How did you come across this blog?
            By sheer, pig-awful bad luck   
I was looking for a sausage cooking website called Burnt Baby Banger and miskeyed this one by mistake
Tony Kirwood owes me £10, 000 and I’m trying to trace the bastard

How useful do you find this blog ?
on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “It’s essential to my continuing ability to breathe” and 5 is “If I don’t quit this page now I’m going to slit my wrists.” ?

How do you think this blog can be improved?
It can’t. It should be taken down and put in some landfill
A bit of humour would help
By including something about cooking or cats. The last time I tried to fry my moggy she tasted dreadful. 

Which shoe do you put on first?
I thought it would be fun to know and I’m getting bored.

Why are you still doing this questionnaire?
Because you’re even more bored than me 
Because you’re stupider than I thought
Because if you leave the computer room your wife will ask you to clean the oven

Thank you for your time. Before you go, if you tick the box you consent to being sent details of our services and products. The latest one is a nifty little oven cleaner.

I’m hoping that selling these is going to be more lucrative than blogging about baby boomers.

Saturday, 23 March 2013


Skills We’ve Lost Over the Last 60 Years

DEFROSTING A SPITFIRE
You’re at 40,000 feet and the tanks have frozen. Suddenly you’re set upon by a squadron of Messerschmitts. What do you do? Today’s shiftless, apathetic youth would be at a loss, wouldn’t they, huh? HUH?

I felt ashamed writing the last paragraph. You see, I’m a baby boomer. Buzzing about in Spitfires wasn’t something we did. We caught a bus instead. But we did have some vital, manly skills which are in danger of being lost and which I’m anxious to pass on.

GAUGEING THE NUMBER OF 45 RPM SINGLES TO PUT ON A SPINDLE
Too few, and you keep having to get up and stick another batch onto the turntable. Too many, and the accumulated lack of friction will slow the disc down and make even Dusty Springfield  sound as she’s flaking out on Mandrax.

HOW TO CLEAN AN AFGHAN COAT
Put it in the launderette and it’ll come out like a wet Kleenex but dry into sheet metal. Dab at it and it’ll come up in blisters. The answer is don’t wash it! It’s supposed to smell! In a year’s time you can put it out in the garden and grow carrots on it.

HOW TO CATCH A ROUTEMASTER BUS
These vehicles had an open back with a pole to hang on to. The technique is to wait till the bus is nearly moving then dash up and lunge at the pole. Your arm will nearly be pulled out of its socket, which is very yogic. When the bus speeds, cling to the pole like a teenager to an iPhone. This is pretty well the only exercise we hippies ever get.

GETTING AN OLD-FASHIONED TV TO WORK
Back in the 60s, we TV watchers are real men. If technology goes wrong, no running blubbing to the support line for us. When the picture folds we just get up and kick the box. One kick for BBC , three kicks for ITV.

OPENING A CAN OF WATNEYS PARTY 7 BEER
My generation aren’t called upon to defuse unexploded German bombs in the streets. But we do have to tackle Watneys Party 7 cans. There are no guaranteed safe techniques. It’s a matter of levering up the pointed opener till it pierces the top and running like hell as the geyser spouts. But even that isn’t as dangerous as drinking the beer….

Monday, 18 March 2013


I Drink Therefore I Am


Beer goes with stuff. This is what writers are discovering.  British writer Pete Brown has entertainingly linked different beers with music. Stephen Beaumont rhapsodically matches ales and food. Never one to allow a bandwagon to remain unjumped-upon, here’s my contribution to this new genre: matching beers with Western philosophers. (And occasionally Eastern ones)

DESCARTES     Has to be Belgian Duvel beer. A glug of its mind-blowingly complex flavours and thumping 8.5% ABV strength induces delirium. Mutter “I think therefore I am” and you’ll regain consciousness quickly for glug no. 2.

GANDHI           A pint of refreshing Nethergate Umbel is ideal after a long hot dusty day’s trudge in your sandals. If yet another punter asks  “Please, Guru, let me sit at your feet while you explain to me your doctrine of non-violence” its moderate 3.9% ABV strength helps you resist the urge to punch them in the mouth.

KARL MARX     What else but Tetley’s Bitter, the ultimate working man’s beer? Medium strength, you’ll be able to knock back a few and still have the volition to storm a palace or two.

NEITZSCHE      The proponent of the Superman deserves nothing less than the world’s strongest beer, Schorschbock 57. If you want to shed your meek Clark Kent persona and turn into the Man of Steel, a stein of this, at atom-splitting 57.5% ABV, is better than popping into a phone booth.

HEGEL             His big idea was the dialectic – a clash of crazy opposites (thesis and antithesis). His beer has to be Belgian Kriek which merges beer and cherries. And leads to the satisfying synthesis of getting you pissed.

ADAM SMITH   the theorist of capitalism with “The Wealth of Nations.” His beer must be         Budweiser. The Busche family, who brew it, maybe aren’t a nation but have   become richer than one.

What do you mean, you’re not a philosopher? Drink more beer! 

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Corporate Blues
An Allegory

I felt like a beer last night and went into a pub. Pouring my pint, the barmaid said

“Wannanysnax? Peennuscristwillets?”

“No snacks thanks”

Then she handed me a receipt. A receipt - in a pub. I then noticed she was wearing a uniform. A logo on her tunic generously told me the company was Oakdene Leisure Inc.

The pub had been corporatized.

As I sat down a young man materialised with a clipboard. “Customer satisfaction survey, sir” he said. “On a scale of 1 to 5,” he said, pointing his pencil between my eyes, “where 1 is ecstatic and 5 is utter despair, how do you rate your Oakdene experience?”

“The woman behind me has a very annoying laugh. So 4.”

“And how do you rate your Oakdene beer?”

“I’m getting some great satirical ideas which probably are nothing like as funny as I think they are. So it’s working fine.”

“I’d like to ask you to rate your Oakdene beer on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is….”

“I know. A minute ago it was 2. Now it’s 5. That’s beer for you.”

A smart woman appeared behind the clipboard man.

“Hello sir, I’m your Oakdene manager. Just to let you know that while you’re relaxing with your beer we have a range of mid-drink entertainment experiences for you. Justin Bieber is available on the muzak, or if you’d prefer smooth classics….”

My response dripped with sarcasm. “Why don’t you just offer me your mid drink swimming pool experience so I can go and drown myself?”

“I was just going to mention the pool, sir. Or perhaps you prefer to take advantage of our executive sauna. And after that, have a drink at our Caribbean themed bar”

“I thought this was a bar!”

Just then a wrecking ball crashed through the wall.  An earthmover cleared away the rubble and an army of workers moved in under a sign “Oakdene Leisure Centre under construction.”

The woman triumphantly ticked a box on her clipboard.

“Not any more it isn’t!”