Michael J Phillips

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Tales from the Monkey House.

Here it comes!!!!!!!


August 3, 2011


Oh yes…and I cannot wait! The Footy Season is back!!!! Now, I have not blogged for a while and I can only put this down

to the fact that I have been suffering through the lack of football. Lovesick even. Sure, I could have substituted it for

Cricket, Wimbledon, Golf, Formula 1 even. I had a think about it. Cricket? Oh no! Far too slow a game and only

watchable with a vat of cider on hand. Wimbledon? Never! A little rich boy’s game. Still it’s nice they let the ‘ordinary

people’ sit on a hill to watch it. Golf? She can be a tempting side attraction, but no, not for me. As for Formula 1, well I

think we all need to be honest and say we only watch it in the hope of a crash or pile-up. No, nothing can replace my first

and only love, Football. But I know the beautiful game is going to break my heart, as it always does. All real football fans

know that once they pick their team that’s it for life. And once they have done that they have forfeited themselves to a life

long love affair mostly fraught with tears and heartache. Glory Hunters among us will never recognise this, for Glory

Hunters know nothing of love for their chosen Paramour. No, Glory Hunters have nothing more than a one night stand

with their Teams. Real football fans know that their football team is like the strongest drug. It’s an addiction that’s for

sure. I know the implications of loving my Team, I know of the frustrations of the past and expect more in the future. I

know the joys too (however few they may be!). I have been a slave to my football Mistress since the first time I saw her. It

was 1975. My Mistress blew me a kiss as I stood on the Bob Bank at Ninian Park. She managed a 2-2 draw with Bristol

Rovers. I was smitten. However, only weeks later she committed her first indiscretion by getting relegated. I should have

broken it off there and then. I should have said thanks but no thanks you harlot! But I didn’t. Many years later she still

taunts me and teases me, leads me to the brink of ecstasy and then spits in my face and laughs. Yet still I return for

more. She will seduce me every pre-season as she sexily parades her new Football strip, and I try and recall her

infidelities of the past 12 months. I wonder if I can trust her this time? And then I forgive her…why?…because I will

always love her..oh yes…Don't take me home!….for now.


The Shandy Bar Kid

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I’m a man..that’s M….A….N!


June 22, 2011

It was a bit fiddly, but I did it with the help of a friend. Yes, I put some shelves up. These weren’t any old shelves mind.

And that’s why Terry had to give me a hand. You see, my lovely Wife Karen bought the shelves without me being

present. She didn’t see the complexities involved in fitting the damn things! There were wires and brackets etc etc. Still,

upon completion of the job I felt something inside…..a strange stirring emotion…yes….I felt like a ‘bloke’. I couldn’t wait

to meet other guys and say that I’d been putting some shelves up. I knew I would get that nod of approval because they

knew how it felt when you stood back and admired your handy-work. Which led me onto thinking what else makes us

‘fellas’ feel manly. And so I made a list.

1 - Making a list of jobs to do – Now I know most guys would rather sever their own head off with a rusty hacksaw blade

than make a list of things to do. But there are benefits. Firstly, you need to do this in front of your Wife/Partner. This is

what we ‘guy’s’ call ‘winning brownie points’. It looks like we care, even though we’d rather be playing the XBOX,

watching the game, or drinking in a local lap dancing bar. Completion of the list is of course a far far away goal that will

probably never be reached.

2 –Poker Nights with the ‘guys’ – Firstly, I have to admit I know nothing about Poker and have never played it. But I have

some good friends who have Poker nights at their respective homes. And so I always join in their conversations about it

in the pub because it makes me feel like a ‘guy’. I love hearing how they ‘raised the ante’ and ‘folded’ whilst drinking

buckets full of JD. There’s a real ‘bloke-ish-ness’ about it. I draw the line at talk of ‘Stud Poker’ mind. That conjures up

some disturbing images if you ask me.

3 – Putting the rubbish out – A pretty obvious one really. But surely no man can dismiss the feeling when they put that

rubbish in the bin. It has to be remembered that there are complexities in putting out the rubbish in these modern times.

Faced with the dilemma of making sure we use the right bin for the right waste, a once simple task has now given us a

Krypton Factor type challenge. Therefore, successful completion of the task gives us a manly high.

4 – Gambling - This one can manifest itself in many ways. From a simple each way bet on the Grand National to playing

Pool for money in a pub. I know someone who actually stood at a level crossing once with a mate. They decided to bet

on which way the train would come from. That’s an indictment on how much us guys love a punt; because it makes us

feel like a man. There is a cheeky blokey-ness about it. And we think that the women love it, that they can’t resist our

insistence on putting our shirt on some nag at Newmarket. They can’t resist it….can they?

5 – Answering the mobile in a witty way in front of people – Most men will be familiar with this one. You know the

scenario. You’re at a football match or in a pub (which us ‘guys’ affectionately call the Office) and your phone rings. You

can see it’s your mate Bazza or Gazza or Tel. You pick the phone up in front of everyone and greet them with some witty

acerbic phrase. Its manliness personified. And you don’t look or sound a prat at all…honest.

6 – Greeting other guys as ‘fella’ – A personal sin of mine. I can’t help it. I think it’s an overspill from my days of reading

FHM and Loaded (an avenue of blokey-ness I retired from long ago). But yes, I still do it. There are of course times when

its use is not appropriate. Examples: When being pulled over for speeding by a policeman, at a job interview and

possibly when meeting the vicar at a wedding.

7 – Changing a flat tyre – probably one of the prime tasks that make us feel like a proper man. It’s important to

remember to utter as many profanities as possible upon discovering the flat tyre. The task takes on new levels of

manliness if a woman is present, whereupon a typical bloke will substitute the swearing with a swagger that suggests

the problem is really no problem at all and will take moments to fix. Not always possible if the offending tyre had been

previously put on by a mechanic with one of those hydraulic type wheel brace thingies.

8 – Going to a football match – This one has it all. The sharing of witty comments about the referee with other guys, loud

berating of the linesman, singing songs and discussing whether that second goal was offside or not. The manliness of

attending a football match can never be underestimated. And of course there is the post-match inquest. This involves

going to the pub (see Number 9) with other guys to further debate that second goal, determine who was at fault for the

equaliser, and display outrage at the cost of the beer in the stadium.

9 – Buying a round – This is an imperative task if any man wants to be seen as ‘one of the lads’. We may not always like

it, but it has to be done to be accepted by our peers and contemporaries. There is also the added bonus of the way we

ask a ‘guy’ if he wants a drink. The most obvious example is simply nodding at a guy with a quizzical expression on your

face, whilst raising an imaginary glass to your lips. This is translated as ‘you want a beer?’ The same gesture can be

used when it’s someone else’s round of course. Only this time the expression changes from quizzical to a stern frown.

It’s a language of its own in all honesty.

10 – Opening a jar – No better feeling to be had really. This is obviously best done in the presence of females and

males who have all failed to open the jar. Any man will take on a Bear Grylls type stature upon successfully opening

such a stubborn item. It is important to remember not to grunt as you take hold of the offending article. Any type of

grunting or puffing will immediately lose you ‘man’ points in the eyes of your audience. It’s important to remember that

this is purely my opinion, and that other ‘guys’ out there may have a different view. It has to be said there are many other

things that make us feel ‘manly’. However here’s one thing that makes you feel ‘un-manly’. It’s when your Wife tells you

that those shelves you put up are in fact not level…..doh!!

Laters

The Shandy Bar kid

 

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Wagons Roll……..


June 3, 2011

 
The time had come to say goodbye. As I saddled up my trusty steed Stagger, I contemplated the journey ahead. I

couldn’t help but think I was going to miss this old town…OK OK!…ENOUGH!! I was clearly lying to myself. In all

fairness I have tried to find something good to say about this place but have failed miserably. One would think that I

might have discovered something of interest during my 8 week sentence here. But no, the place is bereft of anything

interesting at all. However I was determined not to give up. Therefore, as a final gesture, I decided to ‘Google’ Chorley

and see if I could unearth some amazing facts about the town referred to as the ‘undiscovered gem of the North West’.

Apart from the fact that Chorley is part of the Cotton Mill heritage of Lancashire, I found this:

• Chorley is most famous for its ‘Chorley Cake’ – Can’t say I tried one or even saw one in my time here to be honest, but

ok, I accepted that one begrudgingly.

• Urban Legend has it that King James I knighted the Sirloin Steak in Chorley (Arise Sir-Loin) – OK, let’s slow down a

cotton picking (nice reference – Ed.) moment here! Now, I know I have done a few crazy things after a drink. There was

that time when me and a few of the boys broke into a zoo, nicked a penguin, and then took it to the pictures. And we’ll

say no more about the bucket of fish and the Peacock at the Hartwood Hall Hotel in Chorley, but this guy (Sorry…I mean

King) knighted a Piece of Steak!! Firstly, I wanted to know if he managed to get garlic mushrooms with his Steak? – well

did he??..mm??!!..mm??!!..mm??!! There is a shortage in these parts – take it from me!!!. Secondly, had old James

been at the Absinthe before dinner?

• Sir Henry Tate was one of Chorley’s most famous Son’s. Celebrated for his for his merger with Abram Lyle, together

they gave the world the renowned Tate and Lyle brand. The Sugar Mogul went on to fund the creation of the Tate Gallery

in London. Now I liked this one. I like to think of myself as a bit of a culture vulture (no I do….honest…I stopped eating

peas off my knife ages ago), and so I appreciated the Tate angle. Maybe all wasnt lost in my quest for a more

interesting Chorley!!.

Alas, that was it unfortunately. This really was a one horse town, and in keeping with that, I slowly rode out of this town

on my faithful horse Stagger. Despite the best efforts of the locals, my Compadres and I hadn’t been run out of town.

Even on the night they surrounded us in a Berni Inn we wouldn’t be beat. We just formed a circle and defended

ourselves by throwing wine menus and chicken nuggets back at them. They even tried other tactics like refusing to

serve food or show football matches in some of their saloons. But we always knew we had to drink upstream from the

herd to survive. And now I looked back as I rode down the A6, as careful as a naked man climbing a barbed wire fence. I

shook a fist at the Chorley Accordion Club, its windows all dusty and black. I laughed in defiance at the elderly man on

the door of ‘Shagger’s Nightclub’. Yes Chorley, I still didn’t know how you were (and apparently are) the undiscovered

jewel in the crown of the Wild Wild North-West? But someone somewhere loves you, I know I don’t. The only reason we

survived you was because real cowboys dont run….they just slowly ride out of town.

Until next time….

The Shandy Bar Kid

 

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The End Of The World


May 27, 2011


And so it’s here again…Friday. It’s been a while since I have been here. To be honest I didn’t expect to see today at all.

Last week I was busy preparing for the end of the World. It had been a bit of a week in all honesty. I wanted to do all the

things I needed to before the Four Horsemen appeared. So I caught up with the excellent TV series House and soaps

Corrie and Enders. I have to say I thought the Apocalypse had already hit Albert Square judging by the large amount of

Zombies walking around Walford. I listened to my favourite music at maximum volume, learned how to play a complete

set of Bob Dylan tunes on my guitar (easy as long as you know the chords G, C and D), and hired a Ford Mustang for a

day. There wasn’t much time left for the rest of my ‘Bucket-List’ (Kylie would have probably been a nightmare to get hold

of anyway). Finally, on Saturday I cleaned the Apartment (bearing in mind my mother’s insistence when I was young that

I wore clean underwear, in case I got run over by a car or bus!). I checked the clock, Nemesis was fast approaching; I

needed a beer. I went to my local pub at around 2pm. The End of the world was due at 6pm apparently. I had plenty of

time, so I shot some Pool with a few people, and bet on a couple of horses (making sure that the races finished in

ample time for me to collect any winnings before 6pm) and asked the Bar-Man to put some Cristal Brut 1990 on ice for

around 5.30pm. They obviously didn’t stock anything as fine as that, so two bottles of Lambrini were ordered instead. I

won the Pool games and my horses had started to win. This was unheard of; anyone who knows me will confirm I have

as much luck with the Horses as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest. I felt good. I was ready for it; in the

immortal words of REM, it was the end of the world as we knew it and I felt fine. I popped open the champagne (ok…

fizzy wine!) and started counting the clock down; it was now 5.45pm…just 15 minutes left. I wondered how the end of the

world would manifest itself?…massive explosions? …everything just disappearing in a flash?….the ground just quietly

opening up beneath my feet???…I wasn’t sure, but the Lambrini was tasting damn good now! A friend ran in and

screamed for a round of Jagemeister shots for everyone…the clock was getting closer to 6pm…I felt no fear, in fact I

was quite excited! I’d never seen the end of the world before (unless you include Cardiff City’s play-off debacle against

Reading – it was the end of my world that night I can tell you!). Drinks were being thrown down everyone’s throats, there

were 5 minutes to go before the pub became nothing, an empty void…I ran outside for my final cigarette, armed with a

pint of the finest Bourbon..the Party had started….I finished both the drink and cigarette and ran back in for a refill…there

were 90 seconds to go….everyone became quiet…then a countdown was started…10…9…8…and then we got to zero!

Nothing happened…The place was silent…and then I heard a cough from behind the bar, the Flat Screen TV on the

wall flicked on…and there it was..this was how the end of the world was going to manifest itself…’So you think you can

dance’ had just begun on BBC1…..I left the pub downhearted…the consolation was that at least I had time to try and get

hold of Kylie now…..I also needed the number of that Harold Camping guy…he owed me big, my bar tab was huge!

Laters


The Shandy Bar Kid

 

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Life in a one horse town


May 5, 2011


I never thought I’d experience it myself. I had certainly seen it on the TV as a kid. Those early Western Movies, the

camera staring down the new face as he rode into town. People would hide behind windows taking a peek at the

stranger as he strolled down the street. Tumbleweed would roll across the ground as the newbie spat out his cheroot

to the floor. The place seemed deserted, and all our hero wanted was a beer and some food. Well, after my last few

days here, I am getting deja vu…welcome to Tuesday night in Nowheresville, Lancashire, twinned with Dodge City. All I

wanted was some hot food, a drink, and a pub showing the Barca V Real Madrid game. Not a tall order you’d think. So I

saddled up my faithful horse Stagger and rode into town. I stopped at the first pub, it looked promising. The sign on the

door said ‘home-made food served 7 days a week’. I could feel my taste buds start to stir. I tied up my horse and walked

through the door. The place was empty except for a lone Bar man stood with his arms folded, staring at the TV (which

was switched off). I just got that sinking feeling. ‘Are you serving food’ I asked. He paused for a second and then said

‘Nah, not today’. I waited for him to add ‘not much call for it around here mate’. I ordered a beer anyway. It came in a

glass that carried an aroma of dog’s crap. I walked out, untied my trusty steed and moved to the next pub. It had just re-

opened after a refurb. Hope filled me as I walked in, only to be told there was ‘no food for the next two weeks’. I moved

on, now beginning to wish I had brought Yul Brynner, Clint Eastwood and various other outlaws with me. This could be

a tough town to break. I stopped at the next pub. It had food a-plenty, and beer…but no football. This was getting difficult

to say the least. Stagger was getting thirsty, as indeed was I. I pulled up at the next pub. I entered to find it had beer, it

had food, it had football,…..but it didnt have the garlic mushrooms I wanted as a starter. I persevered. I ate and drank

and watched the first half of the game. As it progressed I found myself getting surrounded by locals, who clearly didn't

have a hearty welcome for ‘my kind’.I decided to move on to the next pub for the second half of the game. Stagger could

only manage a slow trot now as this town almost broken him (as it had me too). We pulled up at the last chance saloon

bar. It was empty, but the football was being shown. I walked in and ordered one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer. I

took my stool at the bar, took a shot at the spitoon (and missed) and looked up at the TV. The screen froze. The Barmaid

apologised and said that the TV ‘did that sometimes’. I asked when it would come back on, to which she replied ‘who

knows?’. Enough was enough, I pulled out my Smith & Wesson and began to shoot out the bottles behind the

bar.People (well, the Bar Maid that is) ran screaming. I blew the smoke from the end of the gun’s barrel. I then drank my

beer and decided to get on my horse and head back to my wig-wam….but when I got outside…… Stagger had been

frigging clamped!

Later Y’all!

The Shandy Bar Kid