Now incorporating the Sudbury Hill Times. Getting really wintry, isn't it? Well, autumnal to be more precise. So how are you anyway? ... Sheesh. ... Yeah. ... Oh dear. ... Well, take care. Good to see you. I hope you enjoy the show. And don't forget to turn off your mobile phone. ... Thanks. ... Ow! Bloody hell, that hurt! ... No, no, I'm fine. ... Cheers. Yeah, see ya.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

crotch rot is the ultimate



Fame at last.



Ossian
Councillor abandons sinking Tories, scurries to Liberals

Carol Shaw, a local conservative councillor for thirteen years, has defected to the Liberal Democrats and is now backing Sarah Teather's campaign in the forthcoming Brent East by-election. In a letter to all voters in the constituency, she says "... under Iain Duncan Smith's weak leadership the Conservatives have become more divided and extreme... the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can beat Labour here in Brent.... Labour seems to have drifted to the right ..."

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Go ahead, fire me



Sunset over King Edward VII park, Willesden, this evening.

Ossian Lennon
I like this Interview with Jonathan Miller. He hates continental philosophers. The last great one was Descartes, he says. "Heidegger is ghastly--he is like an elephant's fart."



The interviewer Shusha Guppy was adored in a previous life, not only by me, for her wonderful recordings simply as Shusha. Two of her albums are reissued on This is the Day, which is seldom far from my CD player. She is now the London editor of The Paris Review.



Ossian
Wot - no pear tree



Ed can we have a curtain or blind on the loo window now please?

Ossian Lennon

Friday, August 29, 2003

Famous people from Willesden, a short series. No. 3

Jayaben Desai

Mrs Desai led the strikers at Grunwick in their epic two-year picket from 1976 to 1978. She had a colourful way with words, for example her parting shot to the boss when she led the walkout: "What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager."

Ref: The Battles of Grunwick. Note: That page is no longer online. It has morphed into Grunwick Commemoration Discussion Board, which has a slideshow of superb pictures at the bottom (scroll down). It also contains a link to Moving Here (a short history of the strike).

Update Jan 2011: This post has been corrected as it incorrectly re-published a report from a local paper (I think, can't locate now) that Mrs Desai had passed away in 2003. In fact she lived till December 2010. Here is her obituary in the Guardian, written by union leader Jack Dromey and here is her page in Wikipedia. I am very sorry for the mistake and any distress that might have been caused. Ed.

Herald to sponsor candidate in Brent East by-election

The Herald candidate's priorities will be War, War, War. More resources will be found for bombing poor countries overseas, by selling off the NHS. We will also squeeze the council tax payers till their pips squeak to extract more money for the millions of beaureaucrats needed to measure the straightness of bananas and stop people parking in convenient spaces. We will ensure that most teachers are leaving the profession so that more money can be devoted to rises for MPs and huge pensions for defeated candidates at the next election, as well as pensions for life for ministers caught out in lies and financial fraud. We will encourage big business to invest in salaries for us as non-executive directors so that they can replace natural plants with sterile, proprietary variants, and encourage people to consider themselves ill and dependent on lifelong medications and other such innovative money-spinning schemes. We will give pensioners awards of the order of 75p so that we can give export grants for arms companies to flood the developing world with weapons, shackles, stun-guns etc in order to ensure that they are completely enervated and unable to get off their knees. We will guarantee to smirk and purr with satisfaction at our achievement of power, our ability to buy expensive wallpaper at £200 a roll, and we will also guarantee everyone we know a position of power in the legal system, so that when the time comes we can tell them what their verdicts in cases and inquiries should be. We will dispense with items such as a workable rail service, and instead invest in sending 45,000 troops, the entire navy and air force to Arabia to re-enact pageants and massacres from history on behalf of the Americans who desperately need our help in this their hour of bankruptcy. Remember the Falklands, after all, they nearly helped us that time - and they nearly didn't put import tariffs on our steel, and they nearly didn't pull out of the climate change treaty, and they nearly were about to support international justice via the ICC, if only for other countries. Considering all those things they nearly did, we believe that this country owes them every last penny we can scrape from our unduly sybaritic lifestyles in estates up and down the land to help them with their campaign of reprisals around the world. If we play our cards right, they might even still agree to base their nuclear defences here on the island of Britain - what a privilege! If you vote for the Herald candidate, you can be sure that the honour of having B52s loaded up with Cruise missiles and flying from runways here to destinations all over the world will not be jeopardised. That's what you will get if you vote for the Herald candidate.

Oh wait, there's no need. One of the candidates already offers the same commitments. Phew! We've saved our deposit.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The first day of autumn?

click to see how it changed the next day

"The leaves are dying. The roses are in despair. All that superabundance is in ruins, the windfall apples are dissolving, the wildflowers have gone to seed. Even the name of the late season is ash in my mouth." - Rainer Maria Bilko

Ossian
London blackout - update

"This is an unprecedented situation" - London Underground Spokesman. This power failure has struck during the evening rush hour. All power to the underground "third rail" is off over the whole network.

"Between 100,000 and 150,000 people trapped in trains underground." - Mayor Ken Livingstone. If there is no resumption of power soon, they are going to have to consider walking people from the trains along the tracks to stations. There is no indication of any foul play at this stage, just a failure of the National Grid.
Power cuts hit London

Power has gone off in the Underground and throughout parts of East London. According to reports it is due to a failure of part of the national grid. So if the Herald goes off the air, you'll know what happened. The cut coincides with the first rainfall for about a month. ("The wrong kind of rain?")
The Key *****

I promise I'll never touch another drop. I'm embarrassed by reports in secret websites known only to newspaper editors and top writers about my starstruck behaviour at a special screening last night. Here is the press pack about the new 3-part drama serial, to be broadcast on BBC2 in September: The Key. You can read it yourself and make up your own report, because my head is still not back to normal. I'm going to take the Father Matthew pledge, I swear, and become a Pioneer.

Full credit to the BBC for enabling this wonderful, life-affirming, re-invogorating production. Whatever we may have said about them in the Herald, they are still able to get some things very right.

Ed.
Books could be written about The Key, a new 3-part serial by Donna Franceschild. Having attended a special preview at BAFTA last night, I believe it will become a classic of television drama. In her introduction the author congratulated the BBC on supporting this project. Somebody from the BBC contacted the author by phone and asked if she would like to do a young girl coming of age story. She responded by saying something to the effect of, "How about if I do a three-part series covering the social and political background and the history of the 20th century, that explains the factors leading up to the story of the girl and her situation?" The producer said, "Ok, leave it with me." (That was the author's jocular paraphrase of the conversation.) The four years consisted of one year to get the go-ahead, one year of research, one year of writing, and one year of production.



The Key is a brilliant portrayal of the effects of politics on ordinary families, and the effect that ordinary people can have on policy when they stand "the gither." That is the accompaniment, the obligado, the orchestra (and there is a beautiful score played by the BBC Concert Orchestra) but the melody is the personal journey of Jessie, one of the two granddaughters, and her sister, played by Ronni Ancona who is about to become a New Labour MP, and in the process is put under pressure to quite literally betray her own grandmother and everything she stood for. Jessie is writing a story called The Key, about her grandmother, who always wore a key as a pendant on her neck. You'll have to watch BBC2 this September to find out why.



The Key (press release - pdf)

Ossian

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

There are two new poems by W. S. Merwin this month. I think these are wonderful. See what you think. I have never felt like linking any poems in the Atlantic Monthly until now.



To Smoke A poem by W. S. Merwin

To a Tortoiseshell Lyre A poem by W. S. Merwin



Ossian
If this were the BBC we would have to tell you about the other candidates.

Muhahahahahahahah!

Did you know the Labour Party's headquarters are in Old Queen Street?

Ed.

Ed! Cool it! Don't go there. You promised you'd behave after the munchkin incident. (Feargal)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Breaking News

Sarah Teather the soon-to-be Brent East Liberal Democrat MP has offered to look into the issue that Feargal Mooney reported about speeding on All Souls Avenue. See her letter in the comments on this article.

The proprietor, Mr Woodward, is so guilt-ridden over calling Ms Teather by a heightist name that he has locked himself in his office with a bottle of Glenmorangie and won't listen to anyone. Unfortunately he has been rather "tired and emotional" lately and I'm sure will agree that some of his contributions have not been up to his own patrician standard. He has been a bit unlucky in his Equine Futures dealings. He had inside knowledge of a 50 to 1 ringer that was a cast iron plunger, but has been very hard on himself for putting it on a double with another nag that is still running.

By the way, I had the Labour candidate from Surrey here at my door today. He looked very businesslike in a dark suit. I asked if I could take his picture for this website, and he was quite agreeable at first. Then we had a little chat about how I used to vote Labour but won't be voting for them again (as long as Mr Blair is in charge - I forgot to tell him that bit.) When I said I would support the Liberals from now on, he started telling me all the things they had voted against. He even mentioned something about pensions. Nyahahah! Foot, shooting, ouch, left, ouch, right. Lucky he didn't start me on Iraq.

He started to quiz me about what sort of website it was. "I have to be so careful," he said, and ran away. Okay I just made that bit up, he didn't run away. Let's just say he shook hands and took his leave with alacrity. I imagine he is back in Surrey tonight in a state not unlike that of our Mr Woodward. I don't think the people who sent him here have any idea what this constituency is about. This was Ken Livingstone's constituency. Helloooo!

Ossian Lennon

In regard to the incident when a dog got run over on All Souls Avenue, I am not saying that the car was speeding. It had no chance to stop in time because the dog just darted out in front of it. But All Souls Avenue is a long straight road with dense housing along both sides, so it is quite a dangerous road I think. Thanks to Sarah Teather of Brent Liberal Democrats for taking an interest. (Feargal)

Monday, August 25, 2003

Uncle Rupert has been out and taken some pictures that convey something of the sense of today's Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest annual street party in Europe. Getting on for a million people tend to materialise in and around Notting Hill.
Cult ends in mass suicide - World Exclusive

by Feargal Mooney

All the members of the Thisian cult have committed suicide. In an echo of the Heaven's Gate story, this group had a virtual basis, using online message boards and websites to communicate. They were followers of a mysterious guru Chichi, and believed in cryptic scriptures written in a so-far indecipherable code. It is not clear if all the leaders are really dead, as there was no identification on any of the bodies. The group conducted financial dealings and presented a rather bland front to the public via their public website, which is currently displaying the suicide notes and last words of some of the members, updated shortly before the horrific discoveries at various locations from Los Angeles to Baltimore, and a college campus in Maryland. It is believed they drank poison. Police sources hinted that the doors of the premises where they were discovered may have been locked from the outside. "It was pitiful," said Sgt. O'Malley of Baltimore P.D. "Why did they have to take the children with them?"

Sunday, August 24, 2003

It was a good summer



This is a picture of the sky over Roundwood Park a few weeks ago.

Ossian
From the desk of Mrs Haverty

On behalf of Mrs Haverty Global Enterprises™ International

It's a nice how-do-you-do when I have worked my fingers to the bone here since I joined, and what thanks do I get? More shitey photographs from that shit-head Ossian. I might as well be talking to the wall. I will not stay where I'm not wanted. I'm only in the way here. You don't have to tell me, I can take a hint.

Copyright © Mrs Haverty Global Enterprises. All rights reserved.
The moral right of Mrs Haverty has been inserted. Beware!
Image of Yogi Bear discovered on Mars

hello Boo-Boo

Willesden astronomers using a powerful optical telescope have discovered this amazing Yogi Bear like formation on the surface of Mars.

Science journals & all syndication enquiries welcome

This image was made possible by Mars currently passing closer to Earth than at any time since 56,000 B.C. Amateur astronomer Ossian Lennon was able to take this picture of its surface simply by zooming in with a paparazzo's telescopic lens on an ordinary camera. Ed.

The problem of speeding on Chamberlayne Road

look closely

Ossian
Dog man walking



Ossian

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Open letter to Ed.

Can you please get rid of that dismal political picture. It is vitiating my sunset with its unwanted proximity. In short, it's cramping my style.

Ossian

Friday, August 22, 2003

Correction

In a recent article, we inadvertently referred to Charles Kennedy as a "Deputy Dawg lookalike." Of course we meant Droopy. Sorry for any distress caused to Deputy Dawg fans.

The roadmap to peace

Aunt Flossie?

This is head on AudioBlagger [™ Voice Recognition.] Where are you, flour? I knead you in my office please.

Disconnected
Can we concentrate on the News, please?

I have taken the liberty of wiping the hard disks on the network in Herald House and binning the paperwork. This will give us a chance to start over with a clear focus on our mission, News, News, News!

Feargal! You are one of the worst offenders. I have changed your password. Please contact me to discuss getting back in.

Ossian! Enough sunsets already. Get out there and cover weddings and funerals. This is what our readers want.

Readers! Stop adding smutty comments to our stories or you will be deleted.

Ed! You are not giving leadership. Less time spent in Gigi's and Ladbrokes please!

Copyright © Mrs Haverty Global Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.
The moral right of Mrs Haverty has been asserted. This means you.
All off-colour messages will be deleted!!! You have been warned!!!!

Apology

The Herald wishes to apologise unreservedly for calling the Liberal Democrat candidate in next month's Brent East by-election a munchkin. We wish to make it clear that Sarah Teather is not a munchkin, nor does she suffer from Munchkin's Syndrome by Proxy through Charles Kennedy. It was purely a coincidence that they were photographed outside the Outpatients Department of the country's leading Munchkin's Syndrome by Proxy treatment centre in Willesden.

We would like to congratulate Ms Teather on drawing attention to the problem of speeding cars on Donnington Road, and ask that she also take All Souls Avenue into account. I had the misfortune to witness a small dog being run over by a speeding car on All Souls Avenue not so long ago. The poor animal was still able to raise its head. It never made a sound but its owner ran screaming into the road, calling its name. I'm deeply sorry to tell you that it had darted into the road on its way to get to the dog that I was walking at the time. I have omitted All Souls Avenue from our walk ever since.

It could have been a child. I have seen a toddler wander into the middle of Donnington Road from the gateless garden of a house on one side. Luckily somebody saved the child on this occasion. Shame on you speeding drivers.

Feargal Mooney

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Brent Liberal Democrats

Who are these people - I've never seen them before in my life, and suddenly they're all over me like a cheap suit. Incredible, the whole neighbourhood has turned bright yellow.



Speaking of cheap suits, who is this Deputy Dawg lookalike, with the Munchkin?

Dear oh Law, is there nobody else to vote for in the by-election? Our second-last MP went on to be Mayor, the last one died. Will the next one be famous for the biggest ever by-election upset?

Ed.
Another picture from July 9th



Ossian
Personal Ads.

Readers are advised to take precautions when responding to personal ads. Ensure someone knows where you are going, and only arrange to meet in a public place. Don't give out your details, even your name, age or sex before meeting people. We can't really recommend taking swordsticks or flick-knives, but a mace spray and personal alarm, and if you happen to find a a stun gun you'd forgotten about in your purse, it might come in handy. During the meeting if the other person says anything out of place, spray him (it will probably be a he) with the mace, activate the alarm, and apply whatever other weapons you have to hand, the more the merrier: stun gun, taser etc, and do not make another date with the same person.

Copyright © Mrs Haverty Global Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.
The moral right of Mrs Haverty has been asserted. This means you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The new Don Partridge

Here is a demo soundfile from a busker I met in the underground today: Johnny They Hardly Knew You. He gave me this on a floppy disk, when I told him I was from the Herald. He said his name was Not Important. I said, don't be silly, it is. He said, no, that's it, Not Important. My name is Not Important. He had a glue sniffing bag beside him so I thought it best not to argue, because glue sniffers can die if they get excited.

Feargal
Technical bulletin - virus senders intercepted

Some fool is bombarding The Old Geezers with dozens of virus-infected emails. They obviously don't understand the technology that our email provider has in place to ensure that they end up spitting into the wind. The Herald does not receive these infected emails, merely a notice from our service provider that they have detected them, and are taking appropriate measures.

Simon Moribund
Mrs Haverty is in the house

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that Mrs Haverty (or Aunt Flossie as I know her) has joined our roster of great columnists. Her contacts with the hierarchy are legend, and she will be giving us the low down from on high whenever she pops in. I want to emphasize that she is here strictly on merit, there was no nepotism or simony involved. If somebody called Mahal Kita or even Mrs Abanjo had applied they would have received the same hearing, if the position had been advertised.

Ed.
No time to waste

As you know, today is the feast day of St. Agnus, martyr; St. Bardulf, abbot; St. Calminius, duke of Aquitaine, confessor; St. Cumin, bishop; St. Donatus of Orléans, priest; St. Elaphius, bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne; St. Guennin, bishop of Vannes; St. John Eudes, priest; St. Louis, bishop of Toulouse, confessor; St. Magnus, martyr, confessor, bishop; St. Mochteus, bishop of Louth, Ireland; St. Renatus, bishop of Angers; St. Sebald, confessor; SS. Timothy, Agapius and Thecla, martyrs. You'll have your work cut out for you praying to that lot today.

In association with Mrs Haverty Promotions, International

The Herald is a non-discriminating employer. If you know of any saints' days, or gods' festivals that we have missed out, please write to The Old Geezers with full details, including martyrdom, miracles, mixed-animal, multiple-head etc. Ed.
Write to the Old Geezers

A prize of 2 weeks Plenary Indulgences for the writer of the best letter every week. Any philosophical apothegms, funny incidents, or household tips more than welcome.

The address for your letters is The Old Geezers. Letters may be edited to make them longer or, on rare occasions, shorter.

In association with Mrs Haverty Promotions

Monday, August 18, 2003

Letters

What is wrong with people? I am ashamed to be a member of this species.

Anon.
From Where is Raed? to this: Salam Pax - The Baghdad Blog, to be published by Guardian Books.



Update: Salam was at the scene of the UN bombing one hour afterwards and talks about it here.



Update (Aug. 29th): His house has been searched by the Americans, because an informer told them there were Sudanese people meeting in the house ever day. In fact they were two carpenters from Basra who were working on a fitted kitchen. Link.



Ossian

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Thoughts of a loose Canon

Every time we cross the road at traffic lights we act on faith. Every time we post a letter we act on faith. I presume that the last step on the stairs will still be in place when I go up to bed. You are probably not one of the monks who pray every evening for the sun to reappear tomorrow, and get up at dawn to celebrate when it does; you take it on faith. There is nothing I can do, no action I can take, and I can't even think without relying implicitly on the universe that supports my existence. For practical purposes, our whole world works on, and depends on faith, yet few of us believe in it. In practice we rely on faith, but in theory we don't believe in it. See you next week.

Rev. I. Draper

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Stop press

The Herald dispatched a cameraman to the scene as soon as we heard about the reappearance of the wolf-dog, and now we bring you this exclusive update, direct from our special correspondent.



The wolf-dog in a tree, contemplating how to break back in to our correspondent's garden.


Wolf at the Door - Update

I should have called the damn thing Cujo. I was woken this morning by scrabbling sounds at the bedroom door. "It's Cato," (our little terrier) said the wife. "It doesn't sound like him." I peeked out the door - you've guessed - Giant and Cato at the top of the stairs. It got in through the dog flap again. I went for another drive to the next street, and knocked on the neighbours' door - 9 a.m. They don't answer. Plan B: I gather some unused plastic covered wire shelving units, and some pieces of chicken - one in my hand and the rest in my pocket (yes, and the dog knew.) The devil of a job to get Cujo, as I'll call him now, to go back into his garden by throwing bits of chicken and hooshing him up over the fence. At one point he must have stepped on a thorn, because he put his mouth over my head and made a deafening sound that I would have to characterize as terrifying, a deafening, high pitched yelp or scream right into my ear. I thought he was going to bite the side of my head off. Eventually got him up onto the wall, and pushed him off the other side. Desperately piling plastic covered wire shelving grids into the gap, I held them there with my body and tore off twigs from the pear tree to weave through and hold the grids together, as well as connecting them with bits of the shelving twisted this way and that. Once that stood there, I hurried back inside and got a hammer and some nails. Cujo was back on the wall trying to pull the twigs away from my improvised barrier. I started a series of shouts at him, which became progressively more like dog barks. Picture "very angry and pissed off." I threatened him with the hammer. I nailed the shelving grids to the standing parts of the fence and got more old white laminated boards from under the house and stood them up, to block his view and his way some more. I believe as I type this at 11 a.m, the bloody animal is still picking at the barrier looking for a way back in. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Ruff!

Stephen

Friday, August 15, 2003

The Wolf at the Door

We have a very small terrier that comes and goes freely through a dog-flap. My wife and son walked into the kitchen this morning to find, standing there, a huge, long-haired, black and tan German Shepherd dog. It bounced up, put its paws on my son's shoulders and proceeded to lick his face.

They shouted up the stairs and woke me to deal with this most unexpected visitor, who was very happy to be prancing around indoors and kept running back in despite of my son's attempts to lead him out into the garden. This is a creature that can do exactly as it pleases, remember. (I'm referring to the dog in this case.)

When I arrived downstairs they had managed to shut the dog into the small porch, hardly worthy of the name "mudroom," between the kitchen and the outer back door. I could see him behind the frosted glass. It was the dog that often used to stand up on the fence at the bottom of our garden looking over at us from the other side, causing our terrier to get very excited, bark and jump up repeatedly without any chance of reaching him.

We were all flabbergasted that such a huge creature had managed to get in through our dog's small dog-flap. The German Shepherd's head alone is almost the size of our small dog. Our dog was far from thrilled with the new company and harried and bothered it with foolhardy verve. I had to lock him in another room. Fortunately, this visiting wolf-like beast was affectionate and playful. He managed to get out of his own garden through a breach in the fence caused by a newly fallen pear tree limb.

It was a warm morning. I lead the hairy wolf out of the kitchen with an old ice-cream tub full of water. He rapidly gulped (wolfed?) up about a litre when I set the water down for him in the garden. I called him down to the broken fence and tried to encourage him to climb back into his own garden. He seemed to think I wanted to play and kept biting off thick twigs from the fallen pear tree trunk to play fetch with. It did not escape my notice how easily he ripped small branches off the tree.

I spotted a dog tag on a collar under his long fur, and after several attempts managed to read his name - Giant (I have changed the name for this story) - from one side, and a phone number from the other. Giant was trying to be obedient, to "Go" and "Stay" as I tried to get back inside and shut him out, but his genial nature would not let him stay long without jumping on me and worrying me with his affection. Some manoeuvre enabled me at last to shut him out, and lock the dog flap - and the door, which he was about to open with his big paws leaning on the handle.

So I phoned the number. It was a mobile, and the number was out of date. I had to add another digit before getting through.

"Do you own a dog called Giant?"

"Huh. Yes." (Sleepily.)

There followed a slightly bewildered conversation. I got your number off the tag... I'm your neighbour... He's got into my garden and he can't get back...

"Uh. Well there's not much I can do about it - I'm in America."

I had woken him at 3 a.m. He gave me another number to phone, for somebody he assumed was looking after the dog. I got through to the second number and told the story.

"Well there's not much I can do. I'm in Liverpool."

"You're kidding."

"The owner is in America - on his honeymoon. If you go and knock on the door and ask for Eddie (not the real name), I think he's looking after Giant."

So I slipped on some shoes over bare feet and, forgetting all else, with hair uncombed and teeth unbrushed I drove around to the next road. I thought I might have to ferry somebody back to get Giant. The house was neat, but the grounds (and I use the word deliberately - the house has a huge plot) were in a state of dereliction with half-built structures and scrapped hardware strewn around. I was going to say there was half a pear tree just thrown there across the wall, but that would not be fair.

I went up some steps to the door, which had two doorbells. I tried both of them without response before knocking with the letter box flap. After five minutes or so, I thought I heard the footsteps of somebody getting up. It was about 10 a.m.

A postman leaned over the wall from next door, and offered me some letters. Just as I was declining, a young woman in a dressing gown opened the front door and the postman handed her the letters, before continuing on his way, stepping over the small walls between the stoops of these large Victorian terraced houses. It crossed my mind how civilian he looked for a postman - no uniform.

The young woman was - ah, what do you care, you're more interested in the postman - oh okay, she was comely - oh never mind. She had a foreign accent and knew nothing about the dog. I mentioned Eddie, who was supposed to be looking after Giant. She said, "Just a moment" and I heard her go upstairs and knock on a door. "I'm sorry it's early, it's about the dog." After a while Eddie appeared, a tall Irish bloke, efficient and helpful without being talkative. He knew about the falling pear tree incident, from a note that I had put through their letter box the previous week when it happened.

He beckoned me in and we went through the house. Downstairs was empty. He told me the dog’s owner was on honeymoon in America (I knew that) and the landlord was in Ireland for family reasons. We went out back and down through the garden / wilderness to the fallen tree limb, and called Giant. For a big dog he was surprisingly cautious about climbing through the not very high broken gap in the fence, onto the waist high wall behind it. Once onto the wall - a thick wall, say 18 inches - Giant was reluctant to jump down because of the way the space was cramped by the fallen branches. I kept repeating some useless suggestion. Eddie helped him down using his own method.

Giant is back in his own garden now, being looked after by the tenants of the house where he lives, and waiting for the owner to return. I'm hoping he stays there and does not reappear for breakfast tomorrow.

Stephen Moran

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Letters

I just left a comment about your Willesden sunsets and then realised you might never find it. Anyway, the essence was; great website. I go back to the US in September and it will stop me from getting homesick.

God bless Willesden etc,

Zadie Smith

Thank you so much for your kind words, deeply appreciated by all the hacks here at the Herald. Ossian in particular would like to thank you for your comment on his sunsets. I couldn't make out exactly what he said (he was being carried by two attendants, one at each shoulder and his legs bicycling in the air while I tried to apprise him of what you said) but I'm sure he will be greatly reassured. Your comment is here on Park Sky. (Mona)

The cult of Write This has ended like the Solar Temple - mass suicide.

Ossian
Advertising

You've seen the pictures, now buy the mousemat in the Herald's unrepeatable, everything-must-go Dog Days of Summer sale at Cafe Press. Also special offer - see Ed's Big Ugly Mug.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003



I was just looking at some clouds behind a rooftop at the back of Willesden Herald House, when like flicking a switch the sun turned on this light show for me.

Ossian

More sunsets. Will it never end? Where's the news? Ed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Monday, August 11, 2003

Letters

DEAR WILLESDEN,

COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON, MY NAME IS MR.AUGUST.OSAGIE THE MANAGING DIECTOR OF ALL STATE TRUST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC. I AM WRITING IN RESPECT OF A FOREIGN CUSTOMER OF MY BANK(MR.WAHAB DANIEL)WITH ACCOUNT NUMBER ATS1022002-109 WHO PERISHED WITH HIS FAMILY IN AN AUTO CRASH IN ABUJA EXPRESWAY,IN NIGERIA, ON THE 17TH OF JUNE 1999.

SINCE THE DEMISE OF MR DANIEL,I PERSONALLY HAVE WATCHED WITH KEEN INTEREST TO SEE THE NEXT OF KIN BUT ALL HAS PROVED ABORTIVE AS NO ONE HAS COME TO CLAIM HIS FUNDS OF USD6.23M,SIX MILLION,TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS]HAS BEEN WITH OUR BANK HERE FOR A VERY LONG TIME, WHICH HAS ACCUMULATED SOME INTEREST.

ON THIS NOTE I DECIDED TO SEEK FOR YOU, YOUR NAME SHALL BE USED AS THE NEXT OF KIN,AS NO ONE HAS COME UP TO PUT CLAIM AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO THIS FUNDS AND THE BANKING ETHICS HERE DOES NOT ALLOW SUCH MONEY TO STAY MORE THAN FOUR YEARS,BECUASE AFTER FOUR YEARS THE MONEY WILL BE CALLED BACK TO THE BANK TREASURY AS UNCLAIMED BILL.

I AM CONVINCED IN MY MIND THAT YOUR NAME COULD BE USED AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO THIS CLAIM.THE REQUEST OF THE FOREIGNER AS A NEXT OF KIN IN THIS BUSINESS IS OCCASIONED BY THE FACT THAT THE CUSTOMER WAS A FOREIGNER AND A NIGERIAN CANNOT STAND AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO A FOREIGNER.

I HAVE AGREED TO SHARE THIS MONEY WITH YOU IN THE MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING OF 80%/20%.YOU KEEP 20% WHILE I KEEP 80%, THEREAFTER I WILL VISIT YOUR COUNTRY, FOR DISBURSEMENT AS I AM ALMOST DUE FOR RETIREMENT.

THEREFORE TO ENDEAVOUR THE IMMEDIATE TRANSFER OF THIS FUNDS TO YOUR ACCOUNT,YOU HAVE TO APPLY FIRST TO THE BANK AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO THE DESEASED INDICATING BY SENDING AN APPLICATION AND LOCATION WHERE THE MONEY WILL BE REMITTED.

I WILL NOT FAIL TO BRING TO YOUR NOTICE THAT THIS BUSINESS IS HITCH FREE AND THAT YOU SHOULD NOT ENTERTAIN ANY FEAR AS THE WHOLE REQUIRED ARRANGEMENT AS BEEN PERFECTED FOR THE TRANSFER. THIS IS MY PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS [email address supplied]

KIND REGARDS,

MR.AUGUST.OSAGIE

There are certainly some marvellous offers from thepostmaster.net this week. Ed.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Pear tree incident

Almost half of the 30-40 ft. old pear tree behind Willesden Herald House has crashed to the ground, destroying a fence. Luckily nobody was injured. It hasn't even been windy lately. The collapse was not noticed till one of our reporters went for a stroll round the grounds today.

1. The broken fence

2. The fallen trunk

3. The torn stump

4. Still standing / fruiting

Cloning Shergar

The ultimate ringer

I thought of this before reading about "My Little Cloney" in the broadsheets this week. Dick Francis has said he won't write any more of his horse-racing thrillers, but how about this for an idea: cloning a champion racehorse. They could train it secretly, and assuming it appeared to have the ability, pull off a huge betting coup by letting it run properly after letting it lose a few times. Horses race from two-year-old. So with DNA from, say, Shergar (now there would be another interesting twist, Shergar was kidnapped and held to ransom, but never seen again) you could have a champion horse running within three years.

Ed.
Why were none of these on the BBC's "I love 1975"

Vietnam War ends
Communist troops capture Saigon
Khmer Rouge take control in Cambodia
Civil war begins in Lebanon
The Spanish monarchy is restored after the death of general Franco
IRA terrorists holdout for six days in Balcombe street siege
Britains first North Sea oil piped ashore
Dutch Elm disease devastates trees across UK
Domestic video cassette recorders introduced
41 people killed in Tube crash at Moorgate, London
West Indies win the first Cricket World Cup

BBC revisionism tells us that 1975 was all about Spacehoppers, The Sweeney, The Bay City Rollers and ... (I turned off at this point.) There is a systematic attempt being made to brainwash the general public that nothing is of any consequence, or that it is all under control. The reality is that we are still valued only as wage slaves and potential cannon fodder for the hereditary rich.

Malachy Dunhill

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Letters

Dear Mr/Mrs Herald,

I have been instructed by my colleagues to look for partners who can assist us execute an urgent business transaction involving huge profits and international cooperation.

We are interested in the importation of Solar Panels, Agricultural equipment and computer accessories.We need a foreign partner who can assist us with the transaction involving US$31, 000 000.00, which has been set-aside in an escrow account.

We have resolved that a negotiable percentage will be your commission for participating in this transaction on our behalf and any other assistance you may give in this deal. A percentage will also be set aside from the entire sum to settle any expenses we may incur in the cause on these transactions.

My colleagues and I are civil servants and as such, it is not possible for any of us to operate a foreign account directly, hence we are soliciting your support. We propose to finalize the transaction in ten working days.

If this proposal is accepted please respond to us via e-mail to enable us provide you with the detailed modalities for the successful completion of the project. I would also suppose you'd prefer a voice contact which requires sending your telephone and fax numbers to facilitate the various processes.

There is no risk involved we just need an international contact. Moreso, it will be of great importance you provide me with your telephone/fax details, so we can have a more detailed conversation regarding the whole project. This is my private email address [email address supplied] which i will like you to reply me.

Finally, if you are not interested in this proposal, I apologize on behalf of myself and my colleagues for any inconvenience.

Yours Sincerely,

David Okolo (Dr)

Not at all - no apologies necessary, Dr Okolo. Thank you for emailing your letter to The Willesden Herald. We're always glad to show our readers the kind of unbelievable offers that are out there. Ed.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Thoughts of a loose Canon

The truth is something known to everyone except the honest.

Rev. I. Draper

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Classified


Exercise bicycle £35 o.n.o. Bereavement forces sale. Box WH0004.

____________

You only see fat people drinking diet colas. Why? Because diet colas are fattening. Don't fall for it.

Drink May-Gwok Jiu Slimmimg Tea instead. Local stockists required.

____________

French lessons - your place or mine. No fuss, no rush.

Mimette. mobile - 0909099078, early till late.

____________

Many thanks to St Jude. God bless.

____________

Immigration problems?

Are you having trouble getting permission to stay in the UK? Do you know anyone seeking refugee status? We pay a reward for each immigration case introduced to us. Claim yours.

Scuttle and Smith - Solictors.

____________

Injured at Work? Hurt whilst out shopping? Why not sue. No win, no fee.

Smith and Scuttle - Solicitors.

____________

Today in Court

Gregory Abbott - Court Reporter

Man's lock-up an 'Aladdin's cave' say police.


Yusef Choudhury, 36, travelled across North London to Willesden to sell home-made CD's of unlicensed music outside Willesden Green tube station. When police searched his van they discovered 412 copies of a home-produced CD called Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs - Volume 3. When a search warrant was executed at Choudhury's lock-up a treasure trove of goods was found for which Mr Choudhury was unable to produce receipts. Among the odder items in the lock-up were several boxes of pubic wigs, many sporting a Stars and Stripes design across which was stitched "Fuck the USA". Choudhury claimed that he was a supplier of such items to the adult movie industry in the USA.

Also found were 3700 empty half-litre mineral water bottles and cap sealers. Mr Donald Justice representing the Crown said that the problem of counterfeit mineral water in the capital was enormous. Some estimates suggest that 87% of bottled water sold in London is in fact tap water. Recent reports have linked the Albanian mafia with the scam. Choudhury said that he was looking after the bottles for a friend and had no idea that they might be used to misrepresent their contents.

Choudhury claimed that the CD was full of Jamaican music and that the purpose of the CD was to highlight the fact that Jamaican recording artists had, for the most part, been 'ripped off' by the local record producers. Many had received only token payments for their performances from whose sales the producers have ever since profited. Caroline Edwardes-Hall, the magistrate, applauded Choudhury's activism and suggested that he should retain all receipts for purchases made in future. She found him not guilty of counterfeiting charges and found that there was no case to answer in respect of the contents of his lock-up.

Classified

Music

Eugene Ionesco's "The Chairs - Volume 3" featuring 17 great tracks, only £5.

Box: WH0002

Pets

Rare tropical parrots, from £700. Other songbirds going cheep. Puppies and kittens in the backroom. No questions asked. Local petshop.

Box: WH0003

Relaxation

Nefertiti Sauna - Cricklewood. Relax in our spa pool and let our attendants cater for your every whim. All new girls, 18 years, Hindi, Nigerian, Bengali, Russian, English Rose. New girls wanted, any age, no experience necessary.

Cruella DeMille will correct errors strictly in her fully equipped studio. What are you waiting for, you snivelling wretch? 01999 069 069

Cooling off as London sizzles at nearly 100 F.



"Keep a lookout while I splash about."




"How long are you going to be in there?"




"Oy - there's hardly any water left!"

The Ballad of Lord Archer

Air: Monto

Lord Archer felt a little sick.
The hacks were up to all his tricks.
He had to put away his prick
Or he was toast.

And so he bid his whore depart
Along with two kay for a start,
Not knowing that the hacks were smart:
They paid the most.

Take him up to Whitehall. Whitehall? Right all.
Take him up to Whitehall. Langaroo.
To you.

Lord Archer's in the court. All rise!
He swears not guilty on his life.
The judge admires his fragrant wife
And al-i-bi.

Five hundred grand against the Press.
You'll pay to slight our noble guest.
The whore, not fragrant, all oppressed
And made to cry.

Take him up to Whitehall. Whitehall? Right all.
Take him up to Whitehall. Langaroo.
To you.

To follow Whittington our player
Decided to be London's mayor
But then his alibi unfair
Was undone.

A four year sentence is decreed
In open prison he proceeds
To write his own biography,
Noble Con.

Take him up to Whitehall. Whitehall? Shitehall.
Take him up to Whitehall. Langaroo.
To you.


Ganache

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Monday, August 04, 2003

boo hoo

We've been bumped off the Guardian's Top Blog spot. That was quick. We're not even in the list of blogs they like now! Like a balloonist said to somebody who was trying to recreate a man-powered flying machine, on television recently, "Don't go any higher than you're prepared to fall."

STOP PRESS:
We're back! Under UK blogs.
The West Cork Festival - Summer 2003

Our reporter tries his hand at Short Story writing




Acclaimed American writer David Means taught our special correspondent everything he knew. Get the lowdown here: Full report >>

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Shake-up at the Herald

Things have been going to the dogs around here lately. I'm sorry, but let's be blunt. Too often the writing is lack-lustre and cliche-ridden. I've noticed a certain amount of ill-feeling. I will hold my hand up and say that I didn't even recongise [check that spelling for me, Feargal] some of the people around the office this week. Women have been bombarding me for separate sex toilets, and to be frank, I still don't even know what "sex toilets" are. I'm wringing [check that spelling, Feargal] the changes. Over the next few weeks Willesden Herald House will be wired for sound, and a program of soothing music will be played to soothe the savage breasts. I will personally select a range of Mantovani, Joe Loss and his Orchestra as well as a few exotics just to spice things up - Manuel and his Music of the Mountains, for example, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66 (or whatever number they lived up) to and their ilk. This idea came to me this afternoon, while listening to the great Desmond Carrington on Radio 2 ("Yes, we have no bananas" was the track that inspired me.)

Ed.

It's not my job to check your spelling. Feargal

The dog days of summer

1. Let's catch this!

2. Ha, it's spinning.

3. This is tricky.

4. I'm tired now.


Ossian Lennon

Saturday, August 02, 2003

I'm honoured to accept this award [We've been bumped. Ed] from the Guardian, not just for myself but for all the little people who work here.

I haven't been able to look in as often as I would like, but I'm sure they're doing a wonderful job. (Watch out for those typos, chaps - and chapesses.) Most of my time these days is taken up ensuring the paper remains buoyant financially, through our diversified investments in the equine futures market.

I'm just off to another business meeting now, in the Spotted Dog. These things are sent to try us.

Ed.
The Guardian continues to give us some real writing, bless them.



A short summer

Read exclusive* new short fiction from Dave Eggers, Ali Smith, Haruki Murakami, AM Homes, Julie Myerson, Michel Faber, Arthur Miller, Jackie Kay and Alan Warner.

More summer reading




*That's not strictly true - I've read the Arthur Miller and Haruki Murakami ones elsewhere.



Ossian

Friday, August 01, 2003

They drive pretty fast in Willesden High Road sometimes, but this is ridiculous.

Let's hope the people here are on standby.