The age-old debate

Old bloke

‘You’re as old as you feel’
Some days you feel like a rotting corpse and other days you’re a veritable gay waiter skipping jauntily through a brasserie.

You have to accept that feeling old is a moving target and largely depends on how much alcohol you’ve drunk the night before.

Only stupid people say, ‘you’re as old as you feel’ whereas the galactically stupid say things like, ‘You’re only as young as the woman you feel’, which deserves nothing more than a shotgun aimed squarely at the face followed by a promise never ever to use such a moronic statement again.

Feeling old is a right and should not be underestimated, as is the right to feel young too. It’s ok to feel this way and even if you are 81 with testicles that are able to pick up carpet dust, you should not suppress a bout of Cocoon-style unexplained sprightliness that will compel you to sign up for the weekly legs, bums’n’tums classes at the local municipal gym.

I like feeling old sometimes: it means I get to shout ‘Who?’ regardless of what I have misheard and look at parking restriction road signs for extended periods.

‘Growing old with grace’
It simply doesn’t happen. Old people look horrendous, they have bad breath and their underarms are resting places for communities of bats.

Old people have stories that feature lifeloads of toil that we cannot fully comprehend. Don’t listen to them because you’ll only end up hanging yourself. Run away from old people, but y’know, do it with respect.

I think you can put old people into two distinct categories: rich ones and poor ones. Well-heeled old people get cosmetic surgery, become more self-centred and ultimately, unbearable, whereas poor old people become withered, self-centred and also, unbearable. If you do become an old person try to be a rich one because at least you’ll have a nice house that’s big enough to dilute the smell of urine and cabbage.

As you get old you can do only do your best to not end up bitter, bald and broken. You can eat well and do a bit of exercise, but really that’s just putting off an evil day. People who tell you that you have ‘grown old with such grace’ are serial liars, idiots or blind.

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‘Delicacies’

Fancy some harkarl? Thought not

Always be suspicious of so-called delicacies. ‘In far Eastern countries the sheep’s testicle is considered a delicacy,’ the cultured will tell you, but the thing is, with any kind of animal testicle do they siphon out the sperm beforehand?

I think we need to know.

Anyway, sperm siphon or not there are still all manner of horrors within the so-called ‘delicacy’ territory. Here are a few you might want to steer clear of:

Balut – Philippines
Filipinos are a rotten lot and if you order Balut you’ll get fertilised chicken or duck egg that’s been buried in the ground for a week. It’ll be served soft-boiled as half-formed chicklet and convention dictates that you eat it straight out of the shell with a spoon. Don’t worry, though, there is no need to fret about choking because the bones and feathers are only partially formed. Like all delicacies it’s touted as an aphrodisiac – a gossamer-thin marketing claim for anything that tastes disgusting.

Casu Marzu – Sardinia
Go to a Sardinian restaurant and the waiter, if he’s having a particularly bad day, will recommend Casu Marzu. Correctly translated, it means ‘rotten cheese’ and surprise surprise, it smells like it. But that’s not the real problem: that will be the live insect larvae inside. The larvae measure 8mm and can jump approximately six inches when you piss them off. Other than that, their primary role is to munch upon the fats in the cheese and make it softer. Sensible people remove the worms before eating but those without their full complement of mental faculties leave them in.
There’s another setback if you ‘mange tout’ – the worms can live in your intestines and severe lesions will result if their plan to escape through your intestinal walls is successful.  Yep, give the Casu Marzu a wide berth.

Harkarl – Iceland
Björk is mad, but that’s because she’s probably been tucking into Harkarl on a regular basis. This Icelandic delicacy is made from shark meat buried in the ground and topped off with manure. After six weeks of decomposition Harkarl farmers dig it up and sell it to normal people. On the plate, it’s presented cold and sliced. Diners who have feasted on this say it tastes like cheese.

Cobra blood – Indonesia
In selected regions of the world the cobra is regarded as a symbol of strength and virility so stupid people think that gives them licence to drink its blood. They think it’ll help sustain a decent erection and allow you to father many children. It’s usually served with a shot of alcohol and served as a shooter. It’s not for the faint-hearted – the waiter will behead the live cobra at your request and you will be invited to witness the process. If you like you can have the cobra’s heart as an accompaniment, which you can wash down with the blood. There is a sliding scale as far as pricing is concerned: a black and white cobra might set you back a fiver but the juice of a king cobra will cost around £70. Bargain.

Cibreo – Tuscany
The Cibreo is the wobbly bit of the cock, specifically, the red crown on the head of a rooster. It’s served in stew and tastes like old women’s ankles.

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Comic ‘relief’

Ricky Gervais - go get the noose

In the coming week you’ll have a job to do. It’ll be time to start scouring your home for a rigid, accessible beam that’ll hold your own body weight. Then you’ll need to go down to the nearest hardware store where you’ll need to purchase a strong enough piece of rope that’s long enough to make a hearty, reliable noose.

It’s vital that you do these preparations in time for Red Nose Day because if you do happen to tune into BBC1 on Friday night, the writing of a short note to your loved ones preceded by a determined attempt to end your life will be the only real option available to you.

Comic Relief will be on and if you are expecting something resembling entertainment you’ll be sorely disappointed. Never has there been a more inappropriate title for an evening that’ll consistently feature many laughter-free hours. There will be no relief and, I assure you, there’ll be absolutely no comedy.

News readers dancing about a bit, Ricky Gervais being Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Ross talking about himself, Steven Merchant and Stephen Fry being called Stephen with different spellings – this is what you can expect, and if you haven’t been afflicted by some sort of brain tumour you will find it all incredibly tiresome.

I’ve always thought charity is a noble principle based on the idea that you give of yourself – be it money or time – on the basis that you get nothing in return. Sadly, society hasn’t really got the hang of that yet: it needs an ‘event’ to induce generosity, and, with the help of the BBC, the joy of giving without return is undermined by a cynical transaction that says: ‘You give us cash, we’ll make you laugh’.

I’ve never laughed at anything featured in Comic Reliefs of the past. Each year comedians do their bit to further their careers on that basis that pouring baked beans down their underpants will prompt people to donate money. For a whole evening well-established comedy acts discard their trade and bore us all to death in hastily put-together sketches, fish-out-of-water stunts and cringe-inducing sequences while the supposed ‘hilarity’ will be put in perspective with intermittent images of disease and hunger designed to prick our consciences and reach for the credit card.

I think that if rational-thinking aliens landed on this ungodly planet they would doubtless ask, ‘Why not just give some money and forget all this utter utter nonsense?’

Unfortunately the British public hasn’t got any alien tendenceis: moreover it has the unbelievable capacity to absorb this televisual equivalent of excrement on that basis that ‘it’s all for a good cause’. The good cause is not the issue, the content is.

The strapline for the 2011 appeal is ‘Do something funny for money’, which is a gauntlet I’m happy to ignore. In fact, I’ve got a better, more direct challenge that I think gets to the heart of the principle of charity: ‘Do nothing for money – just give it away’.

Sooner or later we’ll understand that we can give on a regular basis and there’s no need for this pile of old crap that seems to last an eternity. When we do, Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, Michael MacIntyre and the like will be out of business and at that point it really will be a relief to us all.

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