Category Archives: A Canadian in New Basford

I suppose the thing I am still most famous for is my column at Leftlion Magazine. It is (still) responsible for most writing gigs I get these days and I still get the odd “Hey, you’re that Canadian guy” when I go back to Nottingham.

I hate Nick Clegg

LeftLion 39 cover. Funky photo of curved mirror
I hate Nick Clegg.

I hate his stupid side parting and his beady eyes. I hate his over-elaborate hand gestures and that horrible voice – you know, the one that sounds like a geography teacher talking through a trumpet mute. I hate his guts. I hate Nick Clegg more than I hate David Cameron. Turning the Tory logo into a happy little tree and spouting that buildingstrong-communities BS didn’t fool anyone; we knew before the election that he’d send thousands of people to the breadline and leave grannies out in the cold, because that’s what his people do. No-one was surprised when David Cameron proved to be an out-of-touch, banker-loving, public schoolboy dickhead. The man wears his out-of-touch banker-loving, public schoolboy dickheadedness on his sleeve.

Nick Clegg, on the other hand, was supposed to be different. He was new and exciting; he was saying new and exciting things! He’ll vote against tuition rises! He’ll make taxes fair! He’ll break up the banks and make sure that they pay for the damages they caused! He’ll keep his promises!

Since he’s become Deputy Prime Minister, he’s tripled the tuition cap, he’s let Vodafone and a number of other corporations get away with avoiding paying billions in tax, and he’s allowed the banks (including the ones now part-owned by us) to pay their executives millions of pounds in bonuses.

Drawing of human centipede by Rob White.

Most politicians are liars and all are guilty of straying from election promises, but it takes a special kind of prick to do the exact opposite of what you said you’d do. I’d almost be impressed at his cojones if it wasn’t so tragic. OK, I suppose I’m being a bit unfair, there is one promise he did keep, the promise that he’d make ‘Real Changes’. We just didn’t realise he was talking about his own policies. In a few short months, the coalition has managed to turn the nation into a giant human centipede with the bankers and CEOs at the front, then Cameron, then Clegg, then the rest of us, only somehow our mouths are stitched to everyone’s backsides.

There are many reasons to hate Nick Clegg, but I suppose the raising of the tuition cap winds me up the most. If there is one thing I’ve always loved about Britain, it’s the way people are educated in this country. Indulge me for a moment, while I tell you why I don’t have a university degree, because this is a little peek into the future for many kids in this country.

University in Canada is expensive and has been for ages – although not as expensive as it is in the UK now, mind – and most Canadian students need to get loans to pay for it. When I was accepted into uni, the government had pawned off their student loan services to the banks and they doled out money based on ‘financial need’. Despite the fact that my family didn’t have much money, the bank decided that they would only provide about half the money it would take to cover my tuition and books.

This meant my father had to pay for a large chunk (more than he could afford) and I had to work while I took classes. Not to mention the fact that I was now on my way to acquiring a massive amount of debt; debt that I would have to start paying back the minute I graduated.

What this does is change the question “What do I want to do with my life?” to “Which degree is going to give me the best chance of getting a job after I graduate?” The two things I was remotely good at (Fine Art and English) don’t pay very well, so I chose Commerce. Of course I’ll make money with a Commerce degree, it’s got money right in the name.

Unfortunately for me, I have the maths skills of a laboratory chimp and promptly started failing all my courses. Did you know that they sneak maths into every course in the first year of a Commerce degree? I knew Math 210 was going to have some maths in it, and I thought maybe Micro Economics 101 would have a touch, but even a course called Policy and Environment was crammed to the gills with maths. That’s false advertising, that is.

But it was too late to change – we’d already started paying all this money. I worked my night job, sat in lectures that might as well have been in Chinese, and took courses without the books I needed, because I was waiting for payday to get the money for them. I watched my savings disappear and my debt skyrocket.

I maxed out a credit card so I didn’t have to ask my parents for more money. I hid my grades from them. I spent most of my time feeling guilty and ashamed that they were wasting all of their money on their idiot son. It was the most depressing time of my life. When I finally did flunk out, it came as a relief for me and for them.

After that, I worked for a number of years on an assembly line, went to night school and ended up with a couple of college diplomas, but it’s not the same. No matter what Clegg tells you, there is nothing like a university degree. Not having one has been a hindrance to me my whole life; I will always wonder what it would’ve been like to have a degree and to do something that I truly loved rather than simply working to pay the bills.

Would I have a degree now had money not been a part of the equation at the start like it used to be in this country? Who knows. One thing’s for sure, I would have had a much better shot at it if I’d enrolled in something I enjoyed and wasn’t always worried about money. Post-secondary education is one of the few things left that the UK does better than anywhere else on the planet. Why would anyone want to mess with that?

New Years

LeftLion 38 cover. pic of Left Lion in front of council house.
I have been in exactly three proper fights in my life. I know that probably sounds like a lot to you, the average Nottinghamian, but I’m from a small Southern Alberta town and there’s not a lot to do out there. Caving each others faces in is outranked only by ‘designing beer bongs’ and ‘burning stuff’ in the list of top ten prairie pastimes. Growing up in Brooks and only being involved in three fights makes me a bit of a pantywaist by Albertan standards

My first fight was a result of a junior high intramural floor hockey kerfuffle with a kid named Mike. This is exactly how the fight went:

  1. Mike put me in a headlock, threw me to the ground, sat on top of me and asked; “Do you give up?”
  2. I said; “No!”
  3. He punched me in the face
  4. I said; “Yes!”
  5. He got off me and went back to his floor hockey game while I had a bit of a cry.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: I am truly crap at fighting. I swore I would never put myself through that again. It took a little thing called ‘New Year’s Eve’ to make me break that promise. Twice. I’ve never been much of a scrapper, even when I’ve had a few. On a normal night out when my body has decided I’ve had too much to drink, my stomach sends a signal to my brain that says, “Screw being social – fried chicken and bed are now more important than breathing.”

Thirty minutes later, I am tucked up in bed covered head-to-toe in the Colonel’s spices while my mates (and often my wife) are back at the bar wondering where I’ve gotten to. People who know me back home have long gotten used to my disappearing act and dubbed the phenomenon my ‘Robbie Auto-pilot’. Robbie Auto-pilot usually kicks in sometime around the fourth or fifth pint, which has saved me from making a dickhead of myself many times. I love Robbie Auto-pilot.

New Year’s Eve is Robbie Auto-pilot poison. Robbie Auto-pilot doesn’t understand why it’s so important to drink J-Bombs and champagne at midnight, or why no one will let him go home. What these people don’t understand is that if Robbie Auto-pilot is stopped from leaving and forced to carry on drinking past his limit, he becomes Robbie-Asshole. And the only way to get Robbie-Asshole back into his box is to punch him back in.

My second fight started at the end of the night on New Year’s Eve 1999. Robbie Auto-pilot had a foot out the door, but was stopped by my best mate, who turned him back in and bought him a bottle of champagne. Robbie-Asshole repaid him for his generosity by calling his girlfriend a whore. I have no recollection of what happened next; I do know that I woke up the next morning with a sore face and a distinct absence of fried chicken. My third fight happened two New Year’s Eve’s later; different guy, same insult, same result. (Who even says ‘whore’ anyway? It’s a ridiculous word. I don’t know where Robbie-asshole has picked this up; only 70s porn stars and saloon owners in spaghetti westerns say ‘whore’).

It goes without saying that NYE – like most things which involve copious amounts of alcohol – is taken more serious over here than it is back in Canada. For starters, my pals back home have learned that if Robbie Auto-pilot wants to go home – even if it’s ten to midnight on New Year’s Eve – it’s best to let him go. My English mates aren’t quite as enlightened; previous attempts to at that time were met with utter contempt. Also, you people have this horrible ritual called ‘rounds’, and on 31 December, these rounds are expensive. If I’ve bought a round of champagne for everyone, I can’t leave before I get my own back, because while Robbie Autopilot has my personal safety at heart, he’s not an idiot.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated in this city the same cack-handed way that every other holiday outside of Christmas is celebrated. It always starts with good intentions; Bands are booked, tickets are printed, champagne is chilled, party poppers are bought. But by half ten the champagne’s been quaffed, the poppers popped and the bar is a sweaty, steaming mass of shouting, slobbering faces, gyrating arms and legs and flying sparkly bits; Frankly, you’re lucky to get out alive. In my first New Year’s Eve over here, I was rugby-tackled by a massive guy dressed as Dennis the Menace. I escaped a severe humping by said man, but only just.

My second limey New Year’s Eve started with tequila shots and ended in me dislocating my shoulder wrestling a mate on the sidewalk. We actually counted down to 1am that night; everyone was so paralytic that no one noticed that midnight had passed. Oh, and last year my brother-in-law pulled me away from the bar before Robbie-Asshole got my face pounded in for calling a woman at the bar a, quote, “Whoring she-chav”.

Drunken Pudsey image by Rob White

This year, the idea of going to a New Years party in fancy dress is being bandied about. Ordinarily, I despise fancy dress, but it might be a good idea for my own protection. I’ve decided to go either as Pudsey Bear or as George Osborne, the thinking being that no one can get angry at a giant Pudsey bear, no matter how sweary it gets, while if I go dressed as George Osborne, people would half expect me to call them ‘whores’. I could walk the streets kicking pensioners and disabled people in the balls with boots made from gold bullion and people would think it was part of the act. Oh, look at that crazy George Osborne; he’s set that guy in the wheelchair on fire, what a nut!

I will try to make sure Robbie Auto-pilot remains intact this year, but if you do happen to see a
bloodied Pudsey on the street this New Year’s Eve walking around aimlessly, don’t speak to him – just point him into the nearest SFC. He’ll take it from there.

Cack-handed British craftsmanship

notts town centre shot through fisheye camera to appear as a planet. Planet Notts scrawled underneath
I swear this column is cursed. Seriously, it’s not even funny anymore. I write about Jo and Twiggy, then they split up. I go to the Tales of Robin Hood, and it closes down weeks later. I write a piece about working in Nottingham, and then I get made redundant. Then I write a column about being made redundant and get a new job before it was published, making me look a right idiot.

I wrote a column last autumn on how amazing the beer festival was, only for it to run out of beer on the Saturday. My mate John doesn’t speak to me any more over my "Metal Karaoke" column and my Fantasy Football teams have been junk ever since I wrote about how easy Fantasy Football leagues are to win.

Want more examples? Take my last three columns; one about how good the Robin Hood movie was going to be (when it turned out to be a massive turd), a oh-isn’t-this-summer-amazing piece (which has brought about CrapWeatherGeddon 2010), and my World Cup column extolling the virtues of being an English footy fan (which…well, Christ on a bike, I can’t even finish that sentence).

So this month I’m going to go back to basics; I’m going to whinge about Limey builders. Why tempt fate, you ask? Two reasons: firstly because writing about builders is a safe bet and, short of blowing my house up with a bazooka, there isn’t anything more they could possibly do to make my life any worse than it already is.

I’ve had shocking luck with builders in this country. There were the plasterers who plastered over the damp-proofing, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage. There was the alarm fitter who simply didn’t show up. Ever. There were the bricklayers who buried the deposits from their Portaloo in my front garden, left tons of industrial rubbish in my back garden and slathered a retaining wall with indoor latex paint. Now my garden has a lovely prison yard feel; all it needs is a poster of Raquel Welch over the entrance to a tunnel dug with a rock hammer to finish it off. Get busy living or get busy dyin, I always say.

There were also the builders who installed pipework so close to the floorboards that simply walking on the floor caused them to burst and flood my downstairs living room. There was the painter who thought unpainted pieces of plywood made for quality skirting boards. Finally, there was the builder who thought a plastic bag was all it would take to hold two sewage pipes together. The pipes broke shortly after and flooded my front lawn with human excrement. Do you know how difficult it is to have a sociable conversation with your neighbour when you’re standing in a pool of your own filth? Bloody awkward, I can tell you. It consists mostly of asking him distracting, quick-fire questions about his family and feverish pointing over his shoulder.

However, these boys have nothing on the mental defectives who installed a new boiler while I was away in Canada over the summer: it just might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen since 2 Girls 1 Cup. Words simply cannot do it justice. Just look at it:

photo of my crooked boiler, annotations by Rob White

This photo is not doctored in any way (well other than Robs scribbles). This is the actual, final result. What kind of a person does this to a kitchen and thinks, "Yes, this is ok, I’m sure the client will be happy with this." A rabid monkey with hooks for hands and a haemorrhaging brain could’ve done a better job.

Let me just take you through that photo step by step, shall I?

  1. First of all, the boiler is crooked. You can’t really tell from the photo, but believe me, if they had put a spirit level on top of it, it would have exploded.
  2. You see that greyish/brown area around the top of the boiler? That’s where the wood that boxed the old boiler in used to be. You know, because (call me crazy) maybe the world doesn’t need to see that bit.
  3. The cupboard door. God, where do I start? Obviously, this boiler is bigger than the one that was in there before, but surely there is a better solution than this. Maybe using a tape measure beforehand and, oh I don’t know, suggest another boiler that would actually fit?

The thing that annoys me most about the cupboard door is the fact that you can still see the pencil lines where they marked that cut. Let me say that again, They couldn’t even be bothered to erase the effing PENCIL MARKS. The pencil marks are an unnecessary slap in the face, like a burglar who robs your house only to come back a week later to wazz on your dog. See how perfectly the cuts follow the boiler; this means that the moronic douche made CROOKED cuts to allow for the CROOKED boiler. Then, because (obviously) the cupboard door is no longer functional, he’s used two tiny clamps to hold it in place.

cartoon drawing of gothic plumber by Rob White (

I had the audacity to walk past the cupboard too quickly, causing the clamps to give way and the door to come crashing down into the counter top and on to the floor. Only some seriously fancy footwork on my part (thank you Tae Kwon Do green belt) avoided my getting a toe-ectomy.

From now on, I am only writing articles on things that can’t possibly burn me later. The next one is entitled "Butterflies, Moonbeams and Unicorns", so watch out for that. (I should say that my gothic plumber, Tony Napleton had nothing to do with this boiler install. Tony is a great plumber, one I would recommend highly. If it weren’t for him, my house would be under twelve feet of water. He is a godsend).

The lovely British summer

Leftlion cover image issue 36

Writers note:  This column was written last July in preparation for the August issue of LeftLion.  Obviously, the beautiful hosepipe-ban-inducing weather we were having had (in true British fashion) gone to shit shortly after this article was written. Some day I will learn that writing about current events in a column that comes out bi-monthly is a stupid idea.  Just pretend you’re reading this last July. In fact, I’d recommend closing the curtains and reading it in front of a 1000 watt bulb.

Ah, Summertime. Jumping fish, high cotton, rich daddies and good-looking mommas. It’s been wonderful, hasn’t it? This summer has been so good that I can hardly believe I’m in England. Isn’t that cause to celebrate? Of course not, dummy – that just gives Brits more to moan about.

Just this minute, I have had a British woman complain to me about the heat. It is 25 degrees outside. Twenty five. How have you people survived this long? In other countries, if the temperature dips below fifteen, people put on a jacket. If it rises above 23, they wear shorts. In England, if the temperature rises or falls out of that range, people die.

A discussion on which factor sunscreen one should wear is a twenty-minute conversation in this country. Balancing ‘acquiring a tan’ with ‘not dying of skin cancer’ is a tricky business when you’re born with that pale blue British skin. It wouldn’t be so difficult to choose the right sunscreen if the weather forecasters could actually predict the weather more than fifteen minutes in advance.

I don’t know why they bother with a three-day forecast; they’d be more accurate if, from March to August, they said “sunny breaks, low to mid twenties with a chance of showers” every single day. They’d get it right more often than they do now with all their fancy weather-detecting equipment. Cameron should forget canning thousands of public sector workers to save some cash; he could just sell off a couple of BBC Doppler radars.

This summer has also changed my mind about chavs. They aren’t a pinheaded menace at all. They’re actually more evolved than the rest of us; higher beings who’ve developed a gene that makes them impervious to the heat. In June when we had that really hot spell (it actually got to twenty eight one day), I saw a chav standing at the train station dressed in heavy grey sweatpants, a massive grey hoodie and a black nylon jacket. He didn’t seem bothered at all – he just stood, cool as a cucumber, poking at his stolen mobile. I was in a t-shirt and shorts and was sweating like I had just ingested the Sun.

Drunken chav image by Rob White (

But it’s not just the young chavs; the old, tubby, bald-headed chavs who walk around town wearing nothing but pimp shades, England shorts and a pint of Carlsberg don’t feel the heat either. They don’t bother with sunscreen at all, and yet their bald heads and man-tits are both perfectly bronzed, without a hint of sunburn or melanoma. Aside from the slight leathery-ness of the man-tits and the beach ball paunches, you’d almost say they look healthy. Glowing, even.

Unfortunately for me, I seem to have adopted the (non-chav) British sensitivity to the heat. I actually caught myself on a particularly hot day saying to my wife; “Man, it’s hot outside, I think I prefer cycling in the rain than in this bloody heat”. Yes, I moaned about having to cycle on a sunny day. How good is my life that cycling on a sunny day is my biggest worry? It could have only been a more British move if I did it sporting a mitt full of sovs and scoffing a chip cob. After I said it, my wife and I stared at each other in silence for a few awkward moments before turning and walking away, pretending it had never happened.

The most important thing about Summer, however, it that it absolutely sucks if you’re a British sports fan. It’s not brilliant at any time of the year, really, but it’s especially crap between June and August. I’m not even going to get into the football – my God that was awful, but at least that pain is only inflicted on us every four years – but Wimbledon does it to us every year.

Sun image by Rob White (

Watching Wimbledon is like having a delicious steak dangled high over your head that’s lowered slightly every time Murray advances. At first the steak is so high that you can barely see it. You say to yourself; “Sure, steak would be fantastic, but there’s no point in even dreaming about it, just look how high it is; I’ll just have river trout and runner beans instead.” But then Murray beats some shmo in straight sets, the steak is lowered a bit and you think; “Hmm, I still don’t think I’m going to get that steak, but it does look pretty good”. Murray then beats someone you’ve actually heard of and the steak is lowered again. It wasn’t Federer he beat, mind, but it was someone with a number beside his name.

Murray wins a couple more times and the steak is lowered again and again until it’s at a level where you can smell it, and – if you stand on your tiptoes – you can just about touch it with your fingertips. The peppercorn sauce drips down onto your face, and it drives you mad. “Yes! I’m going to get that steak this time, and oh my God, just look at it, it’s more beautiful and succulent than I could have ever imagined!” And then, just as you’re about to bathe yourself in its delicious steaky goodness, it morphs into a giant turd and falls directly into your salivating, gaping mouth.

If that’s not horrible enough, there actually was a good sports story in this country over the summer – but because it happened at the same time as the World Cup, no one cared. England smoked the Aussies in their one day series, beating them in three straight matches. You just know that next summer when the Ashes have the British viewing public all to themselves, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood will double team Andrew Strauss’s missus the night before the First test, Shane Warne will come out of retirement six stones lighter with a new bionic arm and he’ll bowl the greatest match in the history of cricket knocking out the entire English side in the first over.

But there I’ll be, mouth agape, ready for another massive turd to be shovelled in, for by then I will be like the rest of you losers and have developed a taste for it.

Watching the World Cup in Engerland

Leftlion cover issue 35

When I worked at a petrol station in high school back home, we had a number of Maple Leaf flags dotted all around the forecourt. One day, an old fella came in, pointed at one of the flags and sneered, “That flag is a disgrace!”

“What do you mean?” I asked, thinking he must be some flag-hating, anti-government nut.

“What I mean is that young men died for that flag and you don’t have the decency to fly it properly. Just look at the state of it!”

You would’ve thought we’d lit the flag on fire and put it out by projectile vomiting on it. If you lowered the Hubble Telescope to gas pump level and pointed it straight at that flag, you’d only just make out the three threads flapping awry at the corner.

No matter how many times we replaced them, we always got complaints about the state of our flags. So I can only imagine what one of those geriatric Canuckian flag-spotters would say if we’d ever written ‘World Cup Special! Fish, Chips & Mushy Peas for £2.99!’ in scratchy black felt tip across the flag, like they do at my local chippy.

No true patriotic English footy fan is happy with the national flag as it is. It needs additions; accompaniments, if you will. The English flag is the tapas of national flags; the more added bits, the better. ‘Nottingham Forest Football Club’ is four words and there are four white rectangles on the English flag. Frankly, it would be an insult to maths not to fill them in.

Russell Brand shitting on the flag

Along with vandalising flags, people who love England grow potbellies and shave their heads. I assume this is homage to Churchill; He was morbidly obese, bald as a bean, and he really loved England, I hear. Obviously, tall, skinny, hairy people must hate England, like, say, Russell Brand. Just look at him – I bet he doesn’t even own a top hat. Kate Moss is obviously another rabid Blighty-despiser – not once have I ever seen her work a monocle into her ensemble. Osama Bin Laden, Jesus, Shaggy from Scooby Doo…the list of skinny, hairy anti-Anglos goes on and on.

Personally, I find most blatant displays of patriotism gag-inducing, especially during the World Cup, but it can be a good thing in small measures. The people I really don’t understand are the ones who don’t care about the England team at all. People who avoid watching the World Cup and who actually whinge about it taking up so much TV time – What is wrong with you? I don’t care if you’re depressed that England lose every time, or hooliganism makes you cringe, or if you hate Frank Lampard (who doesn’t?) – there is simply no excuse for not supporting your national side. Forget this community-volunteering BS Cameron keeps parping on about; watching England play in the World Cup with your mates should be required by law.

I actually had a mate of mine, a Manchester United fan, say to me, “I hope England lose.” He was more concerned about Rooney getting injured than England winning the biggest trophy on earth. Colonials will never understand this. You will never hear an American say; “Daggummit, what dang fool put all this dang track and field on my ding-dang picture box?” If the US had a decent Jai Alai team, Jai Alai fever would sweep the nation. Have you ever heard an Aussie sniveling about all the swimming on TV during the Olympics?

Take me, for example; I am not what one would call sporty. I’m a stumpy Canadian geek with the athleticism of a Teletubby and the coordination of a three-toed sloth on meow meow. I avoid playing sport like the plague, but that doesn’t stop me from watching Canada compete. In fact, when Canada won the ice hockey gold at the Winter games last February, I actually cried. Cried!

But perhaps it’s not that you don’t like watching England. Maybe you want to participate in the World Cup revelry and drunken pub conversations, but can’t, simply because know nothing of the England team. Let me give you a few pre-World Cup tips that will help get you up to speed:

  1. Peter Crouch is aptly named, as he’s the only player who needs to crouch down to head balls in. He’s the guy that disappears when he turns sideways, which is why he is able to sneak into the box without being seen by the defenders.
  2. David Beckham is the guy attending the World Cup in place of the WAGs. To keep the players from missing their wives too much, David’s going to orange his face up and stagger around the dressing room in high heels, pausing from his cocaine and G&T sessions just long enough to give John Terry a half-time hand-job.
  3. Lampard and Gerrard go together like polar bears and armadillos. Lamps and Stevie G are two creatures that cannot exist together in the natural world. The only place they have any business being within 100 feet of each other is in an artificial environment like the zoo. Or Benidorm.
  4. If you really do hate the England team and cannot watch them without booing, simply restrict your boos to whenever Ashley Cole touches the ball. No one will pay you any notice. In fact, it might get you laid.
  5. Wayne Bridge is the idiot watching the World Cup from his couch because he traded his England career for a big, pink diamond tiara awarded every year to the biggest drama queen on earth.

It really is a lot of fun to be involved, from the absurd hope at the beginning of the competition all the way to the communal whinging when England go out on penalties. Singing songs, binge drinking and spouting borderline racist banter in the office – what’s not to like? Sure, you will be doused in cheap lager at some point, you may be on the wrong end of a shouting match or two, you’ll be embarrassed by other drunken English footy fans and, yes, your town centre will be transformed into a 24-hour townie-barf hell, but believe me, it could be worse:

You could be supporting the Canadian soccer team.

The thought process of one undecided voter

It’s voting day tomorrow and I’m still not sure who I’m going to vote for. I’ve watched the debates, I’ve read the manifestos,  I’ve tweeted. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m not voting for the Tories or for any of the single-issue parties.

In the Tory manifesto, they mention freezing public sector pay and capping public sector pensions. They’re also in favour of cutting government contributions to Universities. Basically, voting Conservative would be voting for my own redundancy. I’ve already been made redundant once recently, it’s not fun. Plus, David Cameron’s face is all waxy and he hates gays.

The Greens, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the BNP et al all preach about having a robust platform, but seriously, how much do the Greens really care about fixing the economy? Broke people make great environmentalists because they can’t afford to be wasteful; The better off people are, the more likely they are to drive V12 Jags and turn their thermostats up to 100. A good economy means I don’t get made redundant again, see above paragraph.

UKIP want out of Europe, I don’t, The SNP and Plaid Cymru want out of Britain and I don’t want to let them go and the BNP want to kick out all the brown people. I have no desire to kick out the brown people; however, if the BNP offered that £50,000 to WHITE Britons to go back to their “countries of origin” that they say they’d offer to non-white Brits, I’d at least go “hmmm” for a second before slapping myself in the face. Fifty large will buy a lot of Kraft Dinner, and watching Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday again might be ni… *SLAP* *SLAP*. Whoa, that’s better, thanks slapping hand.

So that leaves Labour and the Lib Dems.

The environment

The Lib Dems are big on tackling climate change, but they don’t want to build nuclear power plants. This sounds great in theory, but I think we’ve already discovered how keen the British public are to make sacrifices in order to save the planet. The gas shortages Britain experienced last winter have proved that the days of “putting another sweater on” are well and truly dead. Also, you need look no further than the rooftops in your neighbourhood to see how committed we are to solar panels. Until they make Sky satellite dishes out of solar panel glass,  like it or not, nuclear power plants are the only way to quickly cut carbon emissions. Labour are (bravely) pro-nuclear and have made Britain the biggest user of offshore wind generated energy in Europe. They are also committed in their manifesto to making Britain carbon-neutral by 2020. That’s good enough for me.

Labour 1 – Lib Dems 0.

Family values and Community service

Both Labour and the Lib Dems parp on incessantly about more support for “the family” and encouraging people to get more involved in their communities. I am the lazy, male half of a DINK relationship who has no intention of helping the public with anything. Unless battering littering chavs with the cans of Tennants Super they toss on the ground counts as community service, the community can (in the words of Bart Simpson) get bent.

Labour 1 – Lib Dems 0


Nick Clegg owned Cameron’s and Brown’s asses in the debates, Brown has that creepy smile and that weird eye. Clegg is prettier, however, he has that really unpleasant voice like he’s speaking through a trumpet mute and his hand gestures are annoying. Brown bitched out that horrible woman in Rochdale which was a major plus, but then he went snivelling back to her. And smiled again.

Labour 1 – Lib Dems 1


Labour are rubbish at fighting crime. House break-ins are rampant, The Asbo program is a joke, and ID cards? Fuck. Right. Off. The Lib Dems say almost nothing in their manifesto about fighting crime, but they would have to give out free hand grenades to Abu Hamsa supporters and the IRA to do a worse job at fighting crime than Labour.

Labour 1 – Lib Dems 2

The Economy

This is a toughie. Everyone loves Vince Cable, and the Lib Dems are the only party who have published where they’ll make cuts and I agree with many of them, including ditching the Trident system. Brown’s bank-love definitely contributed to the recession, but take yourself back 5 years; remember when you got that dodgy mortgage by putting no money down? I do. There are many horror stories out there, but most of us still have those houses; had it not been so easy to get a mortgage, I’d probably have been renting this whole time and would now have nothing to show for it.

Gordon Brown got me on the property ladder, and really, has the recession been that bad? Yes, I do go on a bit about being made redundant, but to be perfectly honest, I got another job fairly soon after. In fact, my life has changed very little as a result of this recession and that is because of Brown’s bailouts. Fact.

Labour 2 – Lib Dems 2


Nick Clegg’s wife is really hot and she wants nothing to do with politics.

Labour 2 – Lib Dems 3


I hate Yellow.

Labour 3 – Lib Dems 3

The Lib Dems are exciting and new, but Labour have experience, Nick Clegg is youthful and energetic, Brown is thoughtful and pragmatic, Clegg has better hair, Brown has better suits. I could go on and on, but I cannot decide between the two. Do I plump for old faithful, or do I go for radical change?

Frankly, I wish they’d just hurry up and form that coalition, it’d be one less thing to worry myself with.

More hood would be good

Leftlion 34 cover

The LeftLion version (including Al Needham’s rebuttal can be found HERE

Oh God – an entire LeftLion dedicated to Robin Hood? I’m surprised you bothered to pick it up. I’m even more surprised LeftLion have done it in the first place, I didn’t think Robin Hood was cool enough for this magazine. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ‘Robin Hood issue’ is just an ironic piss-take. There’s probably a nasty drawing of Robin Hood on the cover, strung out on heroin, selling Big Issues with his cock out.

I don’t care; I’m pro-Robin Hood and proud of it. Yes, man-tights aren’t cool and yes, there have been some truly crap Robin Hood-related tourist attractions in this town but does that mean Nottingham should shut out Robin Hood completely? Frankly, you’d be positively mad to say ‘yes’.

giant perogy on a fork

Do you know what other cities would do to have Robin Hood? There is a Canadian town whose biggest draw is that it sounds like a planet from Star Trek and another that houses the world’s largest perogy. Let me say that again; the world’s largest perogy.

I’m sure it draws Ukrainians in by the truckload, but damn – how bad does Glendon, Alberta have to suck that a giant statue of a meat dumpling (on a fork!) is its main landmark? If the Mayor of Glendon found out that the guy who played Kevin Costner’s butt double in Prince of Thieves once stopped there to have a dump, Glendon would now be known as Robinhoodland.

I’m not saying Nottingham needs to put every penny of arts spending into Robin Hood-related festivities, but how about changing the name of the Goose Fair to Robin Hood Fair and tacking on a medieval market and international archery competition? You would have little Korean kids peeing their pants in excitement at the prospect of coming to Nottingham.

Nottinghamian apathy towards Robin Hood has not just lost you a tourism buck or two, it’s done something far worse—it’s lost you Sherwood Forest—the desecration of which is a national disgrace. I remember how excited I was to see it and how disappointed I was when I got there. Whenever friends of mine from back home come to visit me, that’s the first thing they want to see, and the first thing they whinge about when they go back home.

Nottingham is a very cool town; easily one of my favourite places in the UK even in its current Hood-less state. Does that mean adding Robin Hood back into the mix to attract tourism would be such a bad thing? Definitely not. The world loves Robin Hood – why not make a buck or ten off of those suckers? Maybe then the Sherwood Forest Trust wouldn’t have to rely on donations and failed lottery bids to continue with the very good (and extremely important) work they are doing now to save Sherwood Forest. That can only be a good thing.

Listen up, Nottingham: you need to bring Robin Hood back into your massive immediately. The poor, neglected bastard is in the Thurland on his own and a dirty Yorkshireman has just roofied his drink…

Why Omari Roberts should never have seen the inside of a courtroom.

omari roberts drawing Copyright 2010 Robert Cutforth

Yesterday, the charges against  Omari Roberts, the man who stabbed two teenagers who were burglarising his mother’s home, have finally been dropped.

The charges were dropped not because the Crown had taken a second look at the case and decided that Omari had in fact acted lawfully; no, they were dropped because their entire case hinged on the lies of a teenaged burglar.

According to reports on the BBC news site and others,  the second burglar changed his testimony by telling social workers three things that differed from his original statement:

  1. He was, in fact, carrying a knife at the time of the burglary. He originally said he wasn’t carrying a weapon.
  2. He “would have killed” Omari if he had the chance
  3. Omari did not chase him down the street as he had originally stated.

However, if you read the CPS’s own definition of “reasonable force”, Omari should not have been charged with murder, even if this boy’s original statement was in fact true.

According to the CPS’s joint public statement on reasonable force:

“Anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime. You are not expected to make fine judgements over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment. So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and in self-defence. This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon.

[You do] not [have to wait to be attacked] if you are in your own home and in fear for yourself or others. In those circumstances the law does not require you to wait to be attacked before using defensive force yourself.

If you have acted in reasonable self-defence, as described above, and the intruder dies you will still have acted lawfully.”

So even if the boy was telling the truth, and he wasn’t carrying a knife, Omari could still lawfully use a weapon to defend his mother’s home. But what if he had chased the boy out of the home?

“[Chasing a burglar] is different as you are no longer acting in self-defence and so the same degree of force may not be reasonable. However, you are still allowed to use reasonable force to recover your property and make a citizen’s arrest. You should consider your own safety and, for example, whether the police have been called. A rugby tackle or a single blow would probably be reasonable. Acting out of malice and revenge with the intent of inflicting punishment through injury or death would not.”

This is the bit the CPS used to bring a charge of murder on Omari. The boy’s original statement said that Omari chased him down the street; The Crown’s argument is that the time spent chasing the boy could’ve been used to call the police. But hang on, the boy he allegedly chased and attacked lived. The boy Omari killed never left the house, so how can the chasing of the second boy result in a murder charge? If the chasing of the second boy is the part the CPS used to bring charges, then surely the only charge that could be laid is GBH, is it not?

But this is not the biggest problem with this case. The biggest problem is that the prosecution’s entire argument revolved around a teenaged burglar’s testimony; a teenaged burglar with an Asbo and a number of previous convictions. Why is a burglar’s testimony given more consideration by the prosecution than the victim’s statement? With whom does the burden of proof lie?

It’s just another case that illustrates what a grey area “reasonable force” is under UK law. This law needs to be strengthened so when a situation arises where it’s one’s word against another’s, the victim’s statement is considered to be at least on par with the attacker’s statement. The word of a teenaged delinquent should  simply not be  enough to bring charges.

Life would be easier if all burglars told the truth and had the good sense to run away when confronted by a homeowner, but it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes the bad guys lie and sometimes they have no intention of leaving without a fight. Sometimes they’re just kids.

However, Burglary is not a petty crime even if it is perpetrated by kids. It’s a very serious crime; one in which split-second decisions are required by the homeowner if he’s going to get out of it alive. Omari Roberts made remarkable split-second decisions. He protected his home and his family by attacking two burglars, he ignored the urge to chase a burglar down the street and he even had the mental wherewithal to refrain from stabbing the boys in obviously lethal areas.  He stabbed the boy twice in the knee and Juett once in the shoulder; if he really wanted to kill them, he could’ve gone for their necks or chests. Then, once both boys were incapacitated, he stopped attacking them and called the police. In short, he did absolutely nothing wrong.

The death of Tyler Juett is an unfortunate and a very sad thing, but if Omari Roberts had received a life sentence for murder, that would’ve been the real tragedy in this case. Frankly, it should never have seen the inside of a courtroom.

The CPS now need to step up and do the honourable thing. They need to compensate Omari for his court costs, apologise to him and his family for all the hurt and distress they’ve caused and above all, change the law so another innocent man does not get charged with murder for simply defending himself and his home.