If this blog stands for anything, it is against lazy thinking. Oh dear, that sentence sounds a bit clumsy, perhaps I should rephrase is. How about, if this blog stands against anything, it is lazy thinking. No. That’s not much better. Look, I don’t like lazy thinking, right? But I’m also honest; or as honest as I need to be while writing a barely updated, rarely read and anonymous-ish blog. I’m not above reproach myself. Take Stanley knives. Like many I comfortably fell in with the stereotype that they are solely wielded by football hooligans and the like and used primarily in gangland disfigurings. But, apparently, not so. Since assisting in some recent d-i-y at our house I have discovered that your humble Stanley knife also doubles up as an incredibly useful implement when cutting carpets, scoring wall tiles and slicing-up plaster board. Why did nobody tell me this before? And their 4lb hammer makes a fantastic accompaniment to a chisel when you’ve got nothing better to do than spend a glorious Sunday afternoon hacking off set-solid kitchen floor tiles, one by precious one.
But that’s not the end of it. There’s more to Stanley products than tools, as we discovered when my son received as a present a set of their toys. Yes, toys! But not the obvious sort of toys that I think you’re thinking of. No, this was no mere collection of branded plasticy knives and hammers for my son to play with and pretend to be his dad; grunting, wheezing, shaking his head and occasionally exclaiming “What the FUCK! This bastard just won’t SHIFT!” No, these were boxes of little Meccano-like models for you to construct out of metal strips, joints, nuts and bolts, each packed with their own little screwdriver and spanner. With minimal assistance, mainly for the fiddly bits, my son soon despatched the “racing car”, and then the “fork lift truck”. But the best was yet to come.
Because the Stanley model “Spitfire” has to be the piece of the resistance. Oh yes; not content with simply offering you the chance to make a generic “aeroplane”, Stanley insist that this toy is a specific aircraft. And not just any old aircraft, but that legendary star of the Battle of Britain itself. Considering the simplistic materials provided, it must take great confidence to proclaim that your model is worthy of such an iconic description. But is this confidence justified? Well, just see for yourself…
Isn’t it impressive? Ignore, if you can, the fact that the model is resting on a chopping board*. Now look again. This could be a photograph taken at Biggin Hill in 1940, couldn’t it? You almost feel as if you are there, back in time. Shame Ginger bought it yesterday, the hun shot him to ribbons as he was watching your tail, and you nearly ended up in the drink yourself when you got one in the fuselage before making an emergency landing in that potato field; but you’re ready for the next sortie the minute those new-fangled RADAR boys spot Jerry heading back over the channel. For what other aircraft could this possibly be but the famed destroyer of so many Messerschmidt 109s and Junker bombers, the very RAF fighter that means we’re not forced to speak German to this day (unless it’s on your school’s curriculum)? Yes, the attention to detail is truly awe-smacking, the accuracy almost palpable.
Okay, it’s not quite perfect; I have spotted a couple of glitches. Those wings, for a start, look a teeny bit too rounded for my liking, more like those of the Tempest than the graceful elliptical wings you would find on the Spitfire (although I guess it’s possible they are trying to recreate the clipped-wing variant). And the nose doesn’t look quite right to me, more akin to the Hurricane perhaps? But these are minor complaints, and perhaps only noticeable if you’ve had my advanced-level training; those three years spent in the Air Training Corp weren’t wasted after all. Overall, though, the Stanley Spitfire is surely a major triumph, a worthy addition to the pantheon of really very good toys indeed.
* Ahh, that chopping board. We spotted it one day in Debenhams and bought it with some vouchers we’d received for our wedding. Only when we got it home did we notice a tiny label that stated “Warning, do not use sharp implements on this board”. A chopping board? Not for use with sharp implements? WTF? How else does one chop?
Happy 2010 everyone, and I hope you all had an enjoyable “Wintermezzo”. Let’s kick off the New Year with some handy advice gleaned from one of my son’s Christmas presents, a radio-controlled toy. Useful information on how to deal with any psychopathic megalomaniac, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Next Week: Is Pol Pot machine-washable?
Following weeks of speculation it has been announced that Phill Jupitus is to resign as a comedian. In a statement read out earlier today by his agent it was confirmed that Mr Jupitus is to wind-up all his comedic responsibilities by the end of the week.
While for years Mr Jupitus’s continued employment as a comedian has caused many people to shake their heads and shrug disconsolately at the bizarre workings of the universe, pressure had increased since the turn of the year and his truly woeful performance on the combined Christmas Collings and Herrin / Perfect 12 podcast. This intensified in recent weeks when the official statistics for the podcast were released which indicated that despite contributing a whopping 50% of all the professional comedic talent to the podcast, and while managing to hog the conversation for 38% of the time, he in fact provided a meagre 3% of all the funny lines, if you’re being generous, and this was by common consensus considered a miserable return all round.
In an emotional statement Mr Jupitus’s agent said that “The primary function of any comedian is to be funny, to make people laugh; and while a comedian need not be amusing all the time, the ability to at least raise a smile must be there somewhere within a comedian’s toolbox. This forms part of the unwritten contract between the comic and the audience, and was something that Phill felt he was increasingly failing to fulfil.”
To gauge reaction to this shock announcement we conducted a vox pop in a street somewhere. Of the people who didn’t just rudely brush past us, many quibbled at the use of the adverb “increasingly” in the agent’s final sentence, while others expressed surprise when discovering that Mr Jupitus had only just resigned, being under the impression he had “dispensed with comedy some time ago”. There was a general feeling of goodwill towards Mr Jupitus, a sense that here was an all too rare example of someone “doing the honourable thing in this day and age”, of taking “some responsibility and falling on his sword”. Others said they thought he had “jumped before he was pushed”, a reference to the government’s long awaited Davro Report which is expected to propose the making redundant of any comedian unable to prompt a chuckle. Only one interviewee professed to be saddened at the news, but on further questioning admitted that watching Mr Jupitus would average “little more than a smirk every half an hour, if I’m honest, which isn’t good enough really, is it? I mean, a professional comedian, it’s not enough just to be funny, you’ve got to be funnier than the average person at least, don’t you think? Phill’s alright, but I wouldn’t say he makes me laugh any more than, say, my dad does, you know? And he’s a milkman, my dad.”
It has been reported that Mr Jupitus had hoped that his recent appearances on QI would rehabilitate his non-existent reputation, but in fact they only compounded the matter, leaving him with little choice but to hand in his notice. His performance on the “France” episode was especially pitiful, described by some as an “utter waste of space” and “so poor I couldn’t bring myself to watch the extended ‘XL’ edition of the show on BBC 2”. And while his shouting “burn the witch” at a distorted photograph of Margaret Thatcher during a subsequent episode was appreciated by some because it managed to wind up Norman Tebbit and some other knobs over at the Daily Telegraph, in and of itself the comment was generally considered pretty lame.
Friends of Phill Jupitus are said to be rallying round, and speaking anonymously a source close to the former comedian told us that “at heart Phill is a lovely, very genuine and honest bloke, even if he isn’t all that funny. He just grew tired of looking back at old episodes of Never Mind The Buzzcocks where he would be introduced as a ‘comedian’, and he would feel that he really wasn’t doing anything to justify that title. It had become an embarrassment to him, and he felt he couldn’t continue with the charade any longer. So, he has requested that from now on he is referred to simply as a ‘broadcaster’, and then he can continue to rake it in, hand over fist, regardless.”