The Mitch Symons Memorial Garden of Non-Hilarious Lists
You know how if your mum used to get the Mail on Sunday, or perhaps you were desperate for something to read at the dentists, there'd be that little magazine inside? "You" magazine, they called it, annoyingly. Well in the front bit the astonishingly foolish Mitch Symons would compile these lists of things like, 'Ten Film Titles That Sound a Bit Rude', featuring 'Turdminator 2', 'Bapman Returns', and 'Nine and a Half Cheeks', and so on. Inexcusably, he probably still does this, for all I know. I'm hardly likely to buy the Mail on Sunday to find out, am I?
Anyway as a sarcastic tribute to his brilliance, herewith a collection of unfunny lists I paid the eczema-scarred child next door 50p to write in his dinner hour.
- 10 things you don't want to hear
- 10 slightly worrying product disclaimers
- 10 things people would never say
- 10 things life's too short not to do
- 10 books to take on holidays
- 10 ways to get hold of women
- 10 things to do when you're bored to the point of taking suicidal risks with your own body
- 10 ways to economise
- 10 ways to make life the mirror of art
- 10 things to invent
- 10 ways to become a millionaire
- 10 things to do to liven up boring aeroplane journeys
- 10 things funnier than Chris Evans
- 10 ways to become a pariah
- 10 ways to lose a friend's trust
- 10 ways to wipe out endangered species
- 10 management techniques for winning power and influence at work
"We've done everything we can, but I'm afraid we're going to have to remove the left one."
"Darling, I - I've decided to become a gorilla."
"I'm delighted to be able to offer you a post in our Technical Support department."
"Ah, Mr Bond. I've been expecting you."
"So. You claim you were hoovering in the nude when the accident happened?"
"My government intends to swiftly introduce legislation to outlaw tortilla chips."
"Stay absolutely still. It's just crawled up your sleeve."
"Good morning, I'm from the TV licensing authority."
"Turn your head to the left and cough."
"I'd like to talk to you about something I found under your mattress."
- "Do not allow this product to come into contact with eyes or skin. If this happens, flush liberally with distilled water, seek medical attention and fill in the attached application for membership of 'Hideously Disfigured Freaks Anonymous'"
- "Danger: this product is poisonous. Pouring a small amount of it into your wife's tea every morning can cause confusion, fits and eventually death. So don't do that."
- "The manufacturer accepts no liability for death, injury or mass sterility caused by improper use of this product. Not after the last time."
- "Children should be supervised by a competent adult while using this personal rocket launcher."
- "The delicious meal shown on the front of this packet is a serving suggestion only. Chicken, sauce, rice and vegetables not included. We hope your small sprig of parsley reaches you in perfect condition."
- "This bottle of soy sauce may contain tiny crystals of salt. These are perfectly harmless and nothing to worry about - unlike the crystals of potassium cyanide that accidentally got into the stuff last year."
- "This product contains no user-serviceable parts. Removing the outer case may expose you to severe burns, lethal electric shock or zap your brain and turn you into a drooling vegetable with no personality and barely able to string together a coherent sentence. If this happens, we invite you to apply for a job as one of our qualified service engineers."
- "This is a Class A laser product. Do not look directly into the laser beam, or use it to blind passing motorists, or the dog. It should never be used for removing tattoos, not even from people you don't like."
- "The values of shares may go down as well as up. If you do not understand even this most basic of financial concepts, you should probably not be allowed out on your own. Contact a registered care provider immediately - after you've posted us your cheque, of course."
- "Light the blue touchpaper and retire to a safe distance. Keep pets indoors. Never return to your Cruise missile once the launch codes have been entered."
Students of comedy will readily admit that no funnier human has ever lived than the disc jockey Steve Wright. One of his most rib-fracturing turns was the 'Things People Would Never Say' feature. Now some satirical comedy bile magazines would take this rather jaded gag and put a hilarious 90's spin on it, perhaps making it a bit post-modern. We decided instead to just simply copy it.
- "Why don't you go in front of me in the checkout queue, I've got four trolleys full of Pampers and genetically modified Vesta Chow Mein, and you have only that rather manky-looking sponge finger."
- "The trouble with platinum-selling US rap outlaw Snoop Doggy Dogg is, his lyrics are simply too tame. Why can't he spice things up a bit, perhaps inserting the words 'yo bitch fuck yo mama' in between each sentence?"
- "Excuse me madam... would you mind not pressing yourself against my semi-turgid penis?"
- "Grandma, I've found a web site you might enjoy reading. It's called Moose Mansions."
- "I tell you. These modern comedians might think they're funny, but there isn't a man jack of 'em that's a patch on Steve Wright and his fawning posse of paid admirers. Except that Chris Evans."
- "God, those flares look terrific on you. I'm really jealous."
- "As an attractive young lady, I'd say my ideal partner would be a slightly overweight UNIX systems administrator whose interests include tortilla chips and being sarcastic."
- "It's so important to me that I get exactly the right mouse mat for my personal style of working. With the wrong one I'd be completely crippled."
- "Hmm, I find myself momentarily impotent. I wonder if drinking a potation distilled from ground-up leopard's testicles might help relieve the symptoms?"
- "You have to hand it to William Hague - whatever else you can say about the fellow, he's got charisma."
You're a long time dead, as they say, and we all have a mental to-do list of stuff we mean to do before leaving this vale of taxes. But what the hey. You could get hit by a bus conductor tomorrow. So why not see how many of these you can cross off today?
- Start a conversation with that good-looking brunette who gets the same train as you every morning. Good lines include, "Hi! I couldn't help noticing you're reading Stendhal." Bad ones include, "What do you think of the new Pentium IIIs with the on-board pipeline burst cache?"
- The next time your boss makes you take the blame for something he ordered you to do (against your advice), why not get a friend to take a Polaroid of you defecating neatly into his in-tray? Send it to him recorded delivery and head for Brazil.
- Just for once why not try sticking with a new hobby for more than two or three days instead of sulking like a five-year-old because you're not brilliant at it straight away?
- Get a crappy magazine and fill in every single one of those Freepost reader reply coupons with a false name and address and send them off. This will cost the companies in question once to receive your fake details, and again for every pointless junk mail they send you. In addition, when they sell their mailing list to someone else, your made-up address will be passed on with it and will continue to waste the time and money of everyone involved in the junk mail industry. And hopefully put them out of business.
- The next time someone pulls that trick in the supermarket where they send their girlfriend up to the checkout with a single banana, so you chivalrously wave them in front of you in the queue, then they turn up with a fucking huge trolley crammed with convenience foods and slide in in front of you with a little self-deprecating wave, why not beat them to death with a frozen pizza?
- See how loud your stereo really does go.
- Mentally enumerate the ten most embarrassing occasions in your life so far. If this is working properly, you should now be bright pink, sweating, and have almost your whole fist jammed into your mouth. Now enjoy the enormous relief as you realise that you will never have to go through these ordeals again. (Probably because you'll never leave your house again.)
- Leave the country. (Not permanently. Just so that you can gain that bronzed, cynical look that travellers have, even if they've only been to an Oddbins thirty yards outside the ferryport at Calais.)
- If you love someone, tell them. (Unless this would mean breaking an injunction of any kind, which would be a Bad Thing.)
- Answer the door wearing a gorilla suit.
- "Postcards from the Edge" - the charming but poignant story of actress Carrie Fisher's romantic 10-year correspondence with the hat-wearing guitarist out of U2.
- "Rogue Herrings" - Hugh Walpole's great trilogy about the adventures of some escaped fish in the Cumberland hills
- "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" - a compelling tale from the ocean deeps about football competitions organised by bored plankton
- "The Selfish Gene" - Richard Dawkins' chilling biography of evil Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry
- "L'Etrangia" - Albert Camus is best remembered for his goalkeeping abilities, but how many of us know he was also the genius behind the world's favourite inexpensive meths-powered camping stove?
- "David Copperfield" - Charles Dickens' by turns amusing and startling study of America's greatest illusionist
- "The Forsytes' Aga" - the tragi-comic tale of a wealthy English family and their struggles to install a wood-burning oven
- "The Last of the Mohicans" - J. Fenimore Cooper's satirical look at ludicrous hairstyles through the ages, with an introduction by Vidal Sassoon
- "The Thirty-Nine Steps" - Top fitness instructor John Buchan shows you the way to firmer buttocks and lats in just thirty-nine easy lessons
- "Lady Chatterley's Plover" - Controversial in its day, Lawrence's earthy novel of a sex-starved English aristocrat and her ill-fated affair with a small bird of the family Charadriidae
- Why not try being a reeking old tramp? Most girls' sexual defences are keyed to activate on sight of a well-groomed man with nice hair and eau de cologne. They'll never be expecting you to lurch up with a bottle of turps and a rancid overcoat. With a bit of luck you can be on the short strokes by the time they've figured out your ingenious ruse.
- The law of natural selection means that any human beings who are alive today come from a long line of people who had sex. Probably quite a lot. Genes for not having sex tend not to be passed on through the generations, for obvious reasons. So after several million years of continuous evolution, mankind should be a race of insatiable sex maniacs. Unfortunately many women of my acquaintance seem woefully ignorant of such basic biological facts. Why not explain to the next attractive girl you meet exactly why it is that the so-called Modern Synthesis of Darwinian evolutionary thought makes it essential, nay an act of duty, for her to sleep with you?
- John Travolta seems to do all right with the ladies. So why not sneak into the Hollywood star's mansion one night, avoiding the savage guard dogs, and 'borrow' his face using an exceptionally sharp scalpel. Then go out on the town picking up women with his face, in a hilarious real-life 'Face/Off'-style incident that should make you the talk of California's penal institutions for many years to come.
- If you find yourself sitting next to a girl on the train who has a cold and keeps sniffling and putting you off your book, why not try gallantly offering her your sleeve to wipe her nose on. This has a profound effect on most women, although admittedly not always a positive one. Worth it for the crack though.
- Go to traditional places for picking up women, for example nightclubs. Most women's ideal partner would be someone desperate enough for a shag to expose themselves to ridicule and humiliation by approaching strange women in nightclubs.
- Your ability to attract women will be greatly enhanced by an understanding of their basic drives. The paramecium, a hairy single-celled being, has an extremely simple nervous system which directs it towards 'pleasurable' things - nutrient chemicals, for example - and makes it swim away from 'unpleasant' things: perhaps excessive heat or cold. Similarly, women are attracted by large amounts of chocolate, and will be drawn irresistibly towards it. Negative stimuli include excessive body hair, and talking too much about your car. So on this reckoning your best strategy is to brandish a giant box of luxury chocolates at the woman of your dreams, while standing nude and shaven in front of a large sign saying 'I'm not interested in cars'. Let me know if you have any practical success with this promising theory.
- Hone your chat-up technique. Lines like 'If I held you against me would you say I've got a beautiful body?' really work. Most women in pubs and other social areas are only pretending to converse with their friends, and are actually longing for a man to come up to them and recycle a half-understood witticism cribbed from a paperback.
- Be an exciting lover. Remember this has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with fitting mirrors on your bedroom ceiling and wearing posing pouches.
- Women appreciate small attentions. The next time you see a woman wiring up a plug, for example, politely stop her and say 'Here, let me do that for you. We don't want you electrocuting yourself, do we?' Similarly, if you see a woman trying to fill up a car with petrol, snatch the nozzle from her exasperatedly saying, 'Oh let me, we'll be here all day otherwise.'
- Playing professional snooker isn't the only thing women can't do. Be patient with your newly-acquired woman, and remember that you will not be able to train her overnight. Start small, perhaps by giving her a list of football players to memorise. After a while you will be able to move on to more complex ideas like what makes a car go, why Pink Floyd are good, or how to spend less than an hour at a time on the telephone.
- If you're still fired with penny-pinching gusto after last week's thrift tips, why not save money on expensive haircuts by simply getting out of a helicopter while wearing high-heeled shoes?
- Why not try drinking from random bottles in the medicine cabinet? You never know, you might come up with the one combination of drugs that definitively cures cancer or dandruff. On the other hand, you might find the combination of chemicals that turns your brain into Dairylea.
- Athletes spend a great deal of time and effort attempting to jump further and higher than anyone else. Wankers. Why didn't they think of simply giving themselves a petrol enema and then lighting their own farts?
- If you've ever left a coin in a glass of Coca-Cola overnight you'll have noticed the amazing cleaning effect. Well, why not use this to your advantage? Simply take a big mouthful of Coke before you go to bed and make sure you don't swallow it during the night. When you wake up your teeth will be pearly and shiny, with no tedious brushing! Admittedly there may not be quite as many of them as there were the night before...
- Jaded with your normal masturbatory routine? A 12-volt car battery and a pair of jump leads are available at any Halfords. The rest of this item has been removed at the request of the Metropolitan Police.
- Most headaches are actually caused by fluid pressure on the brain, and can be relieved by pushing a small skewer into your temple until you hear a gentle hissing sound. If you notice any side-effects such as memory loss, lack of concentration or facial spasms, what the fuck.
- Your own feet make delicious barbecue snacks.
- The African rhino's impressive horn is actually made out of hair, as twats insist on telling you at parties. So why not try making your own? Simply twist your hair up forward into a spiky quiff and apply a liberal handful of dangerous industrial contact adhesive. Within seconds the protruding horn will be set hard and you will be the possessor of a formidable ramming weapon. If you are bald, why not wait until a friend or partner is asleep and give them a hilariously unexpected night-time gift?
- Giving up smoking sucks, as anyone who's tried it will tell you - in between knifing you in the throat and shrieking 'Oh Jesus I need a fag!'. So perhaps an easier way is simply to cut down, while still achieving the same amount of nicotine intake. By rolling your own 8-foot cigarettes, you can confidently tell your friends, "Yes, I'm down to 5 a day now."
- Hard up? Garner cash fast by selling your body to the people who make industrial training films. You can make up to 20 pounds sticking your arm in a bacon slicer in a Norman Wisdom-ish sort of 'Oh what an interesting bit of wallpaper, whoops who put that bacon slicer there' way. Alternatively, there's pennies aplenty to be made in the 'Mr Johnson is about to learn why you should never get pissed and fuck about with a welding laser' industry.
Kudos to Jason Brazier for suggesting the topic of that list.
As Britain's economy slides inexorably into recession like a greased turd down a bobsled run, the thrifty features staff here at the Mansions smell an opportunity. Everyone likes to save money, especially mean people, so here's our hastily-cobbled-together guide to hoarding the pennies.
- Instead of drinking costly 'R. Whites' lemonade, why not experiment with home-made refreshments? A lamb, put through the food processor and mixed with some soda water, makes a marvellous thirst-quenching 'Lambonade' on a hot summer afternoon.
- It costs money to buy bags for your vacuum cleaner, unless you've got one of those wanky new kinds invented by Maggie Philbin off of Tomorrow's World, so here's a thought: make sure that your furniture, your clothes and everything else in your house is made of iron. All the dust created will thus be magnetised, so you can easily pick it up in a matter of hours with the hopelessly ineffective little horseshoe magnet you stole from your school Physics lab.
- Rather than pay expensive cowboy plumbers and electricians, simply train your tiny children to do their work. NVQ and HND plumbing textbooks are available from your local library, and children as young as 18 months can be taught to do simple repairs. If they refuse, withdrawing their food and nappy supplies should soon bring the little scamps to their senses.
- Is your husband a hard drinker? Does he piss away pounds of vital household cash in the pub? A pair of inexpensive leg irons will help. Manacled to the radiator, your hubby'll soon be laughing on the other side of his wasteful, lager-swilling face.
- Remember, the packaging on all the goods you buy in the supermarket adds to their cost. Use a craft knife to slash the weekly shopping bill by slitting open bags of rice and pouring the contents into your mouth. Explain to the astonished checkout assistant that you're entitled to 5p off because you didn't need the packaging. Similarly, ripping open and cramming a packet of frozen fishfingers into your mouth eliminates the wasteful packaging, and also saves you money on cooking!
- Video tapes are cripplingly expensive, especially if you regularly record quality dramas like ITV's 'Heartbeat'. But all they are is plastic tape with a magnetised ferrite coating - just like the strips on the back of debit cards and season tickets. So save up all your expired plastic cards, cut the strips off carefully with scissors (ask an adult to help you with this) and glue them together with school Gloy paste into a wonky, improvised reel of video tape.
- If you write and publish a semi-popular humorous Internet magazine, you'll find artistic integrity doesn't come cheap. So why not consider selling out and contributing to the relentless commercialisation of the Net by placing banner adverts for booksellers, ISPs and porn sites on your pages? You'll soon be coining it in via click-throughs, residuals and net page impressions, and it'll be goodbye to those troublesome moral principles!
- While you're waiting to read our next money-saving tip, why not take a moment to consider the advantages of 'Juster Multimedia' hi-fi stereo loudspeakers? They're compatible with any PC and sound card that have an ordinary jack plug on the end, and what's more they deliver a full 0.5 watts of thumping 'RMS music power'.
- Anyone with a cartridge pen knows the constant expense of buying new ink cartridges. It's time to put one over on the bread-head ink manufacturers. An adult Pacific squid costs only a few pounds from responsible pet shops, and can be comfortably housed in an old tin bath in the cellar. Whenever you need a refill, simply go downstairs and poke your squid with a kebab skewer. The angry denizen of the depths will respond with several squirts of high-quality ink - and it won't cost you a penny! Note that the practice of keeping and milking squids for their ink has recently been banned by the Department of Agriculture. The twats.
- We're all aware that cruelly keeping a specially-bred attack dog like a Rottweiler cooped up in a cramped council flat is every man's inalienable right. But dogs cost a fortune to feed, as many people have mused on the drive back from the quarry. Don't pay through the muzzle for brand-name dog foods like Chum, Pal and Guv'nor. Koreans make an ideal substitute - ground up and mixed with gelatin they provide 100% of most dogs' recommended daily intake of vitamins. So don't delay - invite that nice new Korean family next door for dinner today!
- Instead of letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would', like th' poor cat in the adage, why not simply murder anyone who gets in the way of your career? This does require you to have a manipulative sleepwalking wife and the ability to pretend not to notice when a bloody great army wearing small bushes on their helmets sneaks up to your front door. A good dramatic manner is required for this one, particularly as you will be using phrases like 'Fleance is scaped."
- If you're fed up with the same old humdrum life in your council semi, try building an enormous submarine. You can cruise around the world's oceans undetected ramming into ships occasionally, and growing a beard. Remember to look out for marauding Canadian harpooners and Burgess Meredith.
- Why not buy an inexpensive cubic zirconium ring from H. Samuel's and pretend it has mystical powers? You can then embark on a series of amazing adventures, and eventually destroy the ring in the mighty furnace of your local kebab shop.
- Here's one for the younger folk. Consider pretending to be a bit stupid, and affect a convincing limp everywhere you go. While you wait for your family to kill each other with poison and assassins, write a large number of insightful and well-researched history books. Then, when the last two members of your family have simultaneously stabbed each other, you can become Emperor and introduce various improvements in basic sanitation and human rights. Watch out for your wife. She's up to something.
- If you're the thoughtful type of individual, why not travel across America on a motorbike, stopping every few miles to sit down and talk for about four days about certain rarefied aspects of philosophy and ethics? Keen practitioners will be able to go mad in under a fortnight, and enjoy free electro-convulsive therapy, after which time they will forget about the philosophical crap and become very good at repairing motorbikes.
- Like rabbits? I bet you hadn't thought of becoming one. Yes, you too could roam around the countryside munching carrots and getting exterminated with gas. Make sure your party includes one clever sensible one, one young stupid psychic one, and a double-hard bastard for getting you out of scrapes.
- If you're a tough but cunning Greek person, this is probably the one for you. Go off on a big war, which you win by some jiggery-pokery and carpentry, but then spend about twenty years coming back. You will need to be waylaid by various nymphs, goddesses and sirens, and be nearly drowned or stabbed about a hundred times. When you finally arrive home, think up an ingenious excuse like 'I was stuck for half an hour at the Ogygia Roundabout, you just wouldn't believe the traffic."
- Speak French? Have you thought of moving to Algiers, wandering about on a beach for a bit being rigorously honest about your feelings, then killing some Arabs and being sentenced to death? Be sure to toss around phrases like 'la porte de malheur'.
- If your house is a bit large and rambling, and your family all either mad or dysfunctional in some savagely comic way, why not imagine you're the heir of an enormous bizarre castle about which you wander from day to day, spying on the machinations of the evil Steerpike. Don't bother buying any birthday presents for your aunts, by the way - unless it's a hamper of food.
- Speaking of dysfunctional families, if you have an extremely attractive elder sister, two dotty younger ones and another one who spends her whole time reading books and making censorious comments about people, why not become involved with a handsome man but spend twenty-six chapters slagging him off and turning him down before suddenly allowing him to sweep you into his arms and off into a glorious BBC2 adaptation. Tip: avoid the rector. He's just in it for laughs.
- Make your fortune by inventing a computerised traffic warden database to even up the battle between the motorist and the wardens. You see, a traffic warden just needs to write down your registration number, and he can later find out who owns the car and where you live, and so on. Now all the hapless driver has to do is take the traffic warden's number; the computer then prints out the warden's name, where they live, and what insect they are most frightened of. The rest follows with an elegant inevitability.
- Are you a computer games company? Why not invent the idea of saving money on expensive game design, by making all your games exactly the same as DOOM, but with slightly different monsters. Or maybe a different kind of gun. Children will not know any better, and your coffers will be bulging in double-quick time. If you are iD Software, the manufacturers of DOOM, why not try making all your subsequent games exactly the same as DOOM, in a clever double irony? Just change the name to 'Quake', or something similar.
- Everyone hates rain - it gets you wet, and it can even dirty posh clothes. The shrewder inventor would do well to turn hir mind towards a solution. Specifically, a solution of household detergent which can be added to clouds by leaning precariously out of a helicopter with a large bucket. The resultant rain will be foamy and cleansing, giving everyone caught out in it a free service wash.
- Those who dedicate their lives to the mastery of brass or woodwind instruments will know that such study is rarely well received by neighbours. Some attempt to alleviate the noise problem by using practice mutes, or socks. But if you're an inventor looking for a killer idea, why not manufacture a new kind of saxophone or trumpet which eliminates the problem entirely? Instead of flaring out gently as normal, the instrument simply curves around and up to enclose the player's whole head in the bell. A simple rubber seal around the edges fits around the neck and neatly encloses all sound. Now musicians can practise that tricky passage in 'Begin the Beguine' all night long if necessary, without arousing the homicidal rage of proximate householders.
- Birthday and Christmas cards are a heavy and vexing expense, particularly for people who don't really care about their so-called friends and embarrassing family. So why not invent a laminated plastic greeting card which can be wiped clean and used again? Simply write in your greeting with the special felt-tip marker pen and send the card, adding instructions to kindly return the card after reading. When your insulted friend sends the card back, wipe over with a clean, damp cloth and send it to someone else... and so on! It really is that easy. As a follow-up, invent a generic present which doesn't really resemble anything, and which the recipient will be too ashamed to admit shhe doesn't know what it is. Claim it's non-representational art if you like - just make sure you get it back in time for next Christmas.
- If you're a bit of a Chris Evans, but less of an egotistical insufferable talentless toss-pot, why not consider inventing a new kind of radio station? You could come up, for example, with a national jazz station. But to save money, make sure you only play really shite music. Eager listeners, tuning in hoping to hear music at the cutting edge of melodic invention from the likes of Coltrane and Coleman, will instead find themselves subjected to a constant barrage of thinly-veiled 'easy listening' music. You can borrow records from Norfolk's 'Radio Broadland' if you like.
Stop Press: It appears someone's had this idea already. Sorry.
- Most security-conscious people these days have a little spy-hole in their front doors, which enables them to detect Jehovah's Witnesses (or, if you live in Peckham, Jamaica's Witnesses). But why not take this idea one step further and mount a small automatic pistol in the door just underneath the spy-hole. A simple squeeze of the trigger will then enable you to be rid of salespersons, evangelists, and TV licensing goons without even the trouble of opening the door to tell them to fuck off. (Note: this device will probably appeal most to those who live in fairly hard areas, like Peckham or Stratford, where the presence of shot bodies lying in the street is unlikely to arouse alarm or even surprise.)
- If you're Nigel Rees, why not invent the idea of endlessly recycling the same old bits of graffiti and quotations with doubtful provenance? You can publish up to five books a year based on exactly the same material - all you have to invent is a different title for each.
- Dire gadget catalogues like 'Innovations' have been flogging 'computer critters' for many years - annoying fluffy animals which drape over your desk or attach to the sides of your monitor - and making a pretty penny out of them, too. But molto cash could be yours, if you're the first person to bring real animal mascots to market. A live iguana makes an attractive desk-mate, and will bask in the warmth on top of your 17-inch monitor all day long. Even better, a South American condor perching on your multimedia speakers can keep you cool in summer with its gigantic wings, and is a boon to copy typists as it can hold up to 20 pages of documents in its cruel, curved beak.
- We've all seen children rushing around full of zip and vigour and seemingly boundless physical endurance, and winced to ourselves thinking 'Where do they get the energy from?'. Nowadays scientists know that all children secrete a form of natural amphetamine from the hypothalamus gland in their brains. Not everyone knows, however, that this amphetamine can be harvested for profit, using only a osteopath's bone saw, a pair of sharp scissors and a lemon squeezer. With the right marketing and distribution contacts, you can clear significant margins in the nightclub market alone.
- Find a market and corner it by becoming the only person in the neighbourhood to sell something, for example beer at 7am, decent TV programmes on Sundays, or personal flame throwers in Portobello Market.
- Make your pile by selling expensive TV shows composed entirely of footage from CCTV cameras, or the ones they have in police patrol cars. Or has this one been done?
- Become immensely rich by launching a new satellite channel which simply shows old repeats from the early classic days of 'UK Gold', before they started showing all this trashy modern rubbish.
- If you're a precocious 12-year-old with a PC and a copy of Microsoft FrontPage, why not set up your own incompetent Web site design company?
- Invent a new self-hoovering carpet using tiny genetically engineered woodlice designed to live on dust, hairs, empty pizza boxes, Mars bar wrappers, and aluminium lager cans.
- If you own an Internet Service Provider company whose subscribers pay to download their email, why not scam yourself a fortune by starting a raft of Internet virus hoaxes, email chain letters, and requests to send cards to dying American children? This will completely clog up the net with pointless emails and generate dough for you. Reduce your users' bandwidth further by giving them enormous 15-minute MPEG videos of people smashing up computers, or girls taking their clothes off, to send to each other. Bundles of lucre will soon be yours. Hang on I think this one's gone as well.
- Following in the footsteps of many supermarkets' successful campaigns to sell ice cubes, pre-peeled oranges and pre-grated cheese, make your fortune marketing pre-opened TetraPak (R) (TM) milk cartons, pre-masticated sausages, and pre-eaten bags of crisps.
- Garner enormous profits from selling discarded Windows '95 CDs painted with charming, if ingenuous, water-colour scenes of Dorset fishing villages.
- Buskers certainly coin it in on our streets and in Tube stations, sometimes taking home as much as three or four pounds a day. But there is now a throbbing market for busker murdering. You simply need to take a chisel or other sharp instrument, find a busker bellowing 'Scarborough Fair' in a cracked, unmusical voice, and dispatch them with efficiency and compassion. The sheer generosity of onlookers will surprise you. Bring an old army surplus kit bag to carry the extra cash home.
- Play a flight simulation game on your laptop computer, and terrify your fellow passengers by suddenly shrieking out "We're hit! We're hit! We're losing height!"
- Ask the infuriating small child sitting in the seat behind you who keeps kicking the seat back if he'd like to come up and see the cockpit. Then lead him to one of the emergency exit doors, flip back the safety cover, pull the release lever and push him out. Explain to his anxious parents that he just suddenly vanished, a bit like in Stephen King's 'The Langoliers'.
- Talk loudly to your travelling companion about the airline's disappointing safety record. Unless you're flying Qantas, in which case talk loudly about the wing mounting bolt problems they've just discovered on 747s.
- Wait until the middle-aged lady in front of you abruptly cranks her seat back right onto your knees, making you hunch up like a monkey, and then push a size 6 knitting needle through the back of her seat into her pancreas.
- If you're the steward in charge of showing the in-flight movie, bring along a crate of suitable videos such as 'Passenger 57', the 'Airport' series, 'The Langoliers', 'World's Most Horrifying Air Disasters', and that type of thing. Hide in the galley and chortle with glee as the hysterics break out.
- Lean over to the businessman sitting next to you doing the crossword and offer to lend him your fountain pen. Watch his astonished face as he discovers that the pressure differential at 35,000 feet makes fountain pens suddenly go splatch all over the newspaper. And his trousers.
- When descending towards the airport, if you find yourself going a bit deaf as the pressure in your ear canals equalises, start rubbing your ears, swallowing, making ridiculous faces, shouting at your companion instead of speaking normally, jumping up and down in your seat and trying to burp. None of these will help the deafness, but they will cause your fellow passengers to edge as far away from you as possible, believing you to be a maniac of sorts. Remember to wander vaguely about the airport for hours afterwards, shouting and gesturing and pressing your palms against your ears.
- During the takeoff run, when everyone else is gripping the arms of their seats with whitened knuckles and an expression of sheer terror, cross your legs casually, adjust your immaculate spats, whistle an aria and start a game of Connect 4 with your nearest seat neighbour. The feeling of smugness generated by this little ploy will last you easily until the plane reaches cruising altitude.
- Arrange for a professional chef to prepare you a sumptuous eight-course meal with three wines and brandy, which you then package carefully into a large suitcase. When your fellow passengers start hesitantly tucking into small plastic sausages served in a small plastic box with cardboard mashed potatoes, simply unpack the suitcase feast and watch their amazed yet envious faces as you stuff yourself with lobster aux crevettes and quail's kidneys in creme brulee.
- On the pretext of going to the toilet, sneak into the maintenance area just aft of business class and sabotage the wiring loom. In just five minutes with a screwdriver and a copy of 'Long-Haul Airliner Maintenance for Dummies', you can arrange it so that the passengers are listening to the soundtrack of 'Beverly Hills Cop' while watching 'Braveheart', the emergency oxygen masks dispense piping hot coffee, and flushing the toilet empties the plane's fuel tanks over Brentford.
- Finding a colony of silverfish in your waste paper basket.
- Stubbing your toe in the dark when you've forgotten to cut your toenails, and it drives the nail right up into your foot. Ow.
- Queueing for hours at the checkout in Iceland to buy a single packet of Everyday Sausage Rolls, only to discover that the knavish fellow in front of you keeps shouting to his wife to get some more mango juice, or a packet of spaghetti, and you have to wait while she puffs up and down the aisles to obey his whims. Then when he's finally assembled his shopping, he wants to pay by credit card. But the till decides to do a random authorisation check and demands the appearance of the manager. By this time you're simmering with fury and decide to move into the next queue along - just as the woman puts a 'Till Closed' sign up. Looking over at the queue you've just left and realising that the annoying man has finally paid and left, but you've lost your place to a stupendously fat woman with a trolley full of cat food and pizzas.
- Preparing a delicious feast of soft fluffy rice, only to discover you've not put quite enough water in, and it's turned into a burnt mess of hard semi-cooked grains, and you know if you put some more water in and try and cook it further, you'll get a pan full of Ambrosia Devon Creamy Rice Pudding.
- Tuning a recalcitrant 12-string guitar, and finding that when you get one string in tune the minute changes in tension across the neck have made all the others go ever so slightly out. And finally when everything's in tune except one of the high E strings, gently tightening it and tightening it to bring it up to pitch - when suddenly the whole guitar explodes in a mass of wire and plywood, lashing your face to ribbons with broken strings.
- Finally deciding to go legit and pay your council tax, and sending off a cheque for a month's tax, only to find that the council promptly send you a bill for the last nine years calculated on the basis of you living in a 15-storey mansion.
- That Will bloke with the glasses who comes on 'TFI Friday' to do lame pub tricks. Or in fact anyone at all.
- Having a giant red-hot poker pushed up your arse. Although actually. No, forget it. That wouldn't be any fun at all.
- Going a bit cracked trying to write several pages of gags and quips every week, getting up from your computer and dancing round and round your flat in the nude spraying yourself with shaving foam and shrieking "I can't go on! I can't go on!", then realising your neighbours have been watching your antics with interest through your inadequately drawn curtains.
- Realising you've completely miscalculated your finances this month, as a result of which you have to live on grilled silverfish for the next three weeks.
- Accidentally reveal that you own the Riverdance album.
- Forward an Internet chain letter to all your friends telling them that unless they pass it on a tiny girl in Kentucky will die of necrotic kidneys.
- Go round telling everyone that Mel and Sue out of Mel and Sue are lesbians.
- Admit that the thought of watching the hit British comedy 'The Full Monty' makes your guts go into uncontrollable spasms.
- Invite everyone round to your house to see your new sofa luxuriously covered in dolphin skin.
- Offer to buy a round for all your mates, then completely ignore all their orders and bring back eleven halves of lager top.
- Be Chris Evans.
- Keep watch on your friends' houses with a powerful telescope, and then continually telephone them just as they sit down to eat. A one-way ticket to Coventry will soon be yours.
- Start becoming incredibly poncy and saying you prefer sun-dried tomatoes, and being loud in restaurants, and always asking for a receipt in pubs, and calling chicken 'pollo', and gradually alienate your former friends by constantly telling them about smart little bistros off the Haymarket and asking them if they have sea salt instead of ordinary.
- Go to the pub across the road from the theatre where Agatha Christie's 'The Mousetrap' has been showing for three hundred years. Wait until some twenty minutes before the performance, when lots of excited playgoers will be congregating and downing Perriers in a frenzy of anticipation, and then run around the pub shrieking out the person who did it. They'll thank you later when they realise you've saved them from watching the world's least thrilling play. But at the time they will savagely rend your flesh.
- Speak to anyone at all on public transport. Especially the Tube. Even if you know the person, you'll still get tuts and frowns from your fellow prisoners. Oh crikey, that's eleven, isn't it? God, I'm generous.
- Persuade her to sign up for one of those CD clubs you get on the back of TV listing magazines, saying 'Look, you can get these great Robson & Jerome CDs for only 25p! And you're under no obligation to buy anything more for at least a year!" Watch her disappointed face when she finds out that the reason the company can afford to knock this stuff out so cheaply is that they've sold her address to 1,809 junk mail firms who will cram her letterbox with useless brightly-printed envelopes from now until the end of Time.
- Borrow her really really smart white jacket that cost eighty-five pounds and that she only wears to job interviews and Royal garden parties, and go on a wild, lager-fuelled rampage through the trees and fields of Essex. This should include hanging on behind a tractor spraying muck, crawling on your stomach through heavy underbrush, going through a car wash in a convertible with the top down, being copiously sick over yourself and six friends after several failed attempts at a yard of ale, and finally rounding it off with a lengthy session of paintball.
- Let her find out through some other friends that you only hang around with her so you can be the tall sexy one.
- Spend several years and a great deal of effort slowly enmeshing her in a gigantic and complicated confidence trick involving the Millenium Dome, some shares in a Puerto Rican silver mine, a suitcase of marked tenners, and Ian McShane from TV's 'Lovejoy'. Then escape with her life savings to Mexico, having scrawled 'Ha ha ha, see how you like this you gullible bitch' in crimson lipstick across her bathroom mirror.
- Promise to fix her up on a date with vain self-centred actor Robson out of Robson and Jerome. Then watch her crestfallen face as she discovers you've signed her up for an evening with inoffensive TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh.
- Persuade him to buy one of those abdominable exerciser things advertised on late-night TV. Lure him in by showing him glossy pictures of male models with unnatural stomachs. Then watch his dismay when he realises he won't actually use it for more than four days until the novelty wears off, and will then hide it in the airing cupboard in case anyone sees it and laughs at his swelling beer gut.
- Borrow his treasured copy of Brylcreemed obscurantist poet T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets' and spend the weekend alternately using it to prop up the table, skinning up on it and swatting about twenty big bluebottles with it. Then before you return it, make sure to crack the spine, distribute biscuit crumbs all the way through 'Burnt Norton', and place a large and suspicious-looking gravy stain right in the middle of 'The Dry Salvages'.
- Let him find out through some other friends that you had it off with his girlfriend when he was in hospital with severe gastric flu in 1987.
- Spend several years and a great deal of effort slowly enmeshing him in a gigantic and complicated confidence trick involving a CD club, Robson out of Robson and Jerome, a substantial cheque made out to a non-existent Brazilian children's charity, and inoffensive TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh. Then escape with his life savings to Tiverton, having sprayed 'Take that you sneaky bastard, I never liked you anyway' in shaving foam across his astonished face.
- Promise to fix him up on a date with sexy Sue out of Mel and Sue from TV's 'Late Lunch'. Then enjoy his shame and confusion as he realises you've condemned him to an evening with that brainless laughing silicone fool Melinda Messenger. This has the added charm that he will spend the whole night vainly trying to get off with someone who would lose a battle of wits with a bucket of distemper.
- Try new tiger-skin toilet paper. It's kitten-soft, and what's more, when you run out you can use your mum's prize rug.
- Track down all existing scientific records of dodo DNA, and destroy them using petrol. This will ensure that the dodo can never be revived in a bizarre, futuristic Lost World-style scenario involving rampaging killer dodos loose in Los Angeles.
- Write to the head office of McDonald's Food Corporation in Polystyrene, New Jersey and suggest a brilliant new recipe: the White Rhino Happy Meal.
- Allow a foolish inclination towards mysticism and superstition to lead you into believing that eating ground-up lion's testicles will somehow cure your impotence, rather than making you violently sick.
- Make a fortune from selling kidnapped koalas by stuffing a small battery-operated tape recorder up their arses and taking them round to Hamleys claiming they're cuddly soft bears who say 'Will you be my friend?', and running away before the manager discovers they're actually evil little fuckers with a eucalyptus fixation and claws like razors.
- Invent a way to turn ordinary household cockroaches into five-pound notes. I realise cockroaches aren't actually an endangered species, but if you can crack this one they soon will be.
- Modern fashions for skiwear and mountaineering clobber boast lots of bright, colourful fabrics. These are quite expensive to produce using synthetic materials, so why not try using birds of paradise instead? You will need a Kenwood Chef and a large hydraulic press for this.
- Convince your friends to save money on slippers this Christmas by simply hollowing out some red squirrels.
- Discover the Loch Ness Monster and give it a life membership of the Scottish Conservative Party. (Before anyone writes in, I realise the Loch Ness Monster isn't endangered, or a species. It's not easy writing this stuff you know. I've got O levels, I have. I could have been Sting if I wanted to.)
- Using a complicated and expensive array of synthesizers and digital audio equipment, create a realistic humpback whale mating song. Go to the seaside and play your song underwater until some humpback whales come along. Then give them a series of painful and incapacitating Chinese burns, gibbering and laughing insanely all the while.
- Keep an eye on everyone around you to see that they are doing their job properly, even people in other departments and jobs unrelated to yours. If you see someone's standards slipping, send them a constructively critical memo about their disappointing work performance, cc'ed to their manager and their immediate subordinates. Believe me, they'll thank you for it.
- Schedule team outings and company events, in your employees' spare time. This way, you can enhance staff morale without cutting into those all-important productivity figures!
- When about to attend a meeting, ring round all the other attendees five minutes beforehand to remind them about it. You look on the ball, and even if everyone else was already aware of the meeting, they will feel in some mysterious way one-down before they even get into the conference room.
- Use Powerpoint for every document, even a note to the cleaners, or a compliments slip. It looks more professional, and you can do a beautifully graduated background in shades of blue. If challenged why you don't use a pen and paper, or a simple word processor, claim that you 'really are an absolute fool about all that secretarial stuff'. Your interlocutor will think you must have been promoted. Be careful not to go over the top and feign inability to dress yourself or use the telephone - no one will believe you've been promoted to Chief Executive.
- Surf the web all day looking at pictures of inappropriately clad young women in the name of 'monitoring industry trends', but come down like a ton of bricks on anyone caught reading a paper in the office. Especially if it's the Financial Times. The last thing you want is for the people below you to start understanding business, for heaven's sake.
- Using readily available electronic components, wire up a small telephone bell to a battery and a switch and conceal it on your desk. When speaking on the real telephone, press the switch to create a brrr-brrr... brrr-brrr... noise and say "I'm sorry I'm going to have to put you on hold... there's a call on the other line." Your caller will feel awed and, yes, grateful that you have spared them even a small amount of your obviously valuable time.
- Be the first to raise doubts about anyone else's idea. Practise saying, "I think there are some potentially serious issues here", "Have we thought through all the implications?", and "I think Neil's proposal is marvellous. It's going to take a lot of money, and a lot of time, and of course we're going to have hell's own job getting it past the Board and the AGM, but it's something we have to do, and I think Neil is just the man to push this one all the way. Even if it puts his job on the line."
- If this technique fails to squash an idea, endeavour to suggest that it is in some way unoriginal, or old hat. "Refinancing the buyout with stock from the Mitsutomi merger? They tried that one back in the 70's. And we all know how that panned out." Nobody will have a clue who 'they' are, of course, or how it panned out, but nobody wants to look ignorant, so they'll keep shtumm, and somehow the idea's original proponent will find himself the object of pitying glances, and sad little shakes of the head. "Poor old Morris," they'll whisper. "Not what he was, you know."
- Make good use of your secretary. She's not just there for helping you with company business, she's an all-purpose beverage maker, gift-buyer and personal skivvy. Next time you burst a button on your trousers, clumsily erase all your contacts from your PalmPilot, or need some tiles grouting, whistle for your secretary to sort it out. It'll be worth it just to see the pleased look on her face.
- If you are a senior manager or director, be sure to treat everyone you meet with the same peremptory self-importance you would bestow on a junior member of your staff. Cab drivers... waitresses... people in Sainsburys... all are your inferiors and respond best to the smack of firm management. After all, you're someone's boss, and they're someone, so you are effectively their boss. Try to cultivate a loud hectoring voice to use when berating someone for their tardy service.