Nottingham’s Premier Cha-Mobile Enthusiast
Adam Mason was a child with a learning disability. He was taught that the world was a safe and indulgent place, by the girls who’d surround and protect him all playtime. He called himself Cha-Man, and not without reason: for the duration of his break periods, while I was doing handstands and staging daring worm rescues, Adam would say “cha” in a way that pleased him. As his pleasure grew, so too did the length of his chaaa. And as his pleasure and chaaaaaa grew, he would begin to run around, followed by all the girls in the year who weren’t making out with Jeremy Southgate.
The cha-mobile was born. A car for which cha was either the fuel, or the exhaust fumes. We simply didn’t know – all we knew was that Adam was running around the playground, shouting “chaaaaaaaaa”, and changing gears around corners.
This much is in the (stagnant, sorry) Law of the Playground. Adam Mason is the man I’ve always credited as the inspiration for the entire website. And, having found this photo, and thought a little bit more about it, I felt I should admit that I gave that utterly meaningless credit entirely out of guilt.
I wasn’t a benevolent observer, thinking “oho, this anecdote will serve me well from 1999-2008, in case E4.com need a soundbite”. When I wrote, on Law of the Playground, that he was tolerated by 200 other children, I should have said 198. As an irrational, passionate nine-year-old, I hated Adam. I hated the fact he wouldn’t say anything properly. I hated the effortless blanket approval he got from the girls. I felt that – for all my problems, and my inability to pull off a handstand that wasn’t against a wall – I was better than Adam, and deserved to be followed around the playground by a proportionately higher number of girls. Whether they were smelly or not.
Most of all, I hated the fact that in the end-of-year show, his “Mr Puniverse” sketch was more popularly received than “The B-Team”. The B-Team contained loads of proper jokes. We’d changed the names of the characters to Cannibal, Brace, Mr Coffee, and Gaymy. All Adam did for Mr Puniverse was get on stage – neither topless, nor oiled – and flex. The applause was incredible; Adam had stolen the show. We had stolen a dozen jokes from Blackadder, for nothing.
Once, I found a joke I thought was clever. It was presented as graffiti – “if you can’t read this, consult an optician”. Graffiti artists – quite a middle class bunch, they like a good chuckle. I thought this joke through a hundred times, worked out exactly why it was humourous. I realised that it was a joke that would only work in written form, and I realised I couldn’t really write it down and say “look, look at this joke I have wrote down”. So, I copied the graffiti format and defaced a school book with it. The very next day, I was firmly accused of writing it – the only evidence being “well, it’s just the kind of thing you’d say”. It felt obvious at the time, and I still think, that the teacher was calling me a cunt.
“This is the kind of thing a proper snotty cunt would write, and I honestly don’t think there are any other cunts in this school. And don’t try and say someone did it in a previous year – I’ve been at this school for twenty-three years, and you’re the first real cunt we’ve ever had. This is a dark day for Coppice Farm.”
So, I hated Adam. And I found someone else – another sunken man – who weren’t shared my hatred of Mason, and we’d brew and steam at his Impenetrable Convoy of Sympathy. We knew we could never hurt Adam, without looking like monsters. So we’d sit in a room, like a pair of cartoon coyotes, plotting the downfall of Adam. What if we swapped his Cha-Mobile for a real car? He’d drive into a hedge, or something.
He sucked his thumb, hooking his finger over the bridge of his nose. We invented a nail, which Adam could hammer into his face, allow him to hand his forefinger from it. Then we worried about the skin on his thumb, which would be like he’d been in the bath all day. So we put another nail in his temple for when he needed to dry it off. This was our stroke of genius – every invention was to help Adam, and cause him the maximum pain.
When it came to big school, I don’t remember Adam at all. Perhaps his parents realised that the girl’s bitch instinct was about to kick in, and Adam was about to start humping dustbins. But I’ve seen him once since, working in Tesco. Looking cheerful, productive, and slightly better paid than myself.
So, Adam Mason, this is my apology to you; I’m sorry for being the cunt that everyone obviously thought I was. I’m sorry I designed the cha-copter with the express purpose of having you collapse in a hyperventilating mess (although, to be fair, that was Paul’s idea, and he says he’s not sorry at all). And I’m sorry I just put a photo of you on the internet.
But most of all, I’m sorry I hated you. I’ve purged myself of the barbs of spite, and filled the abyss with pity. No longer will I stare at you, imagining a world in which you weren’t somehow beating me at things. Now, I’ll barely be able to glance at you.
That’s better, isn’t it? Nice bit of pity.
Now I’ve established Francis Gilbert as the nation’s most despicable curmudgeonly bore, I’d like to show you the first two entries on his blog. This is the man who is attempting to found a doomsaying empire around the fact that he got hit on the head by some children once, when he was on the bus.
TOP FIVE REACTIONS TO THE LONDON BOMBINGS
as featured on Family Fortunes’ Double Money round
- “Fucking hell.”
- “Did you feel that, darling? It felt like the chill of death.”
- “Well, that’s got that out of the way.”
- “Jesus, that could have been Francis Gilbert.”
- “They bombed a bus? Bit of an anti-climax. They’ll be bombing pedalos next.”
- “I hope Francis Gilbert gets through his period of therapeutic meditation soon, and starts a blog.”
From these blog entries, you can imagine him consoling the relatives of the bereaved.
“Yes, that must be terrible, your husband getting blown up on a bus. I got hit on the head by some atrocious yobs, once, and my faith in humanity died an equally messy death as your husband. I’m still grieving today, and my loss only ever gets more profound and agonising. Sometimes I think only my own brilliance gets me through the seemingly endless catalogue of days.”
I’ll leave you with one of his poems, taken from his wonderful website.
They stand haunch-shouldered, hands on hips
Skirted by rushing grass and foxglove
Like nannies, with angry pursed lips
Staring at us. Have they no love?
Is it a job and nothing more?
Beneath their metallic glare in June
We, the meadows, the deep forest, the blue air
Hide from them all afternoon.
WHY DON’T YOU LOVE FRANCIS, YOU STUPID PYLONS?
A year ago, they said they were going to show the Law of the Playground on the television. I had my mum propped up on a broomhandle in front of the telly, with utterly clear instructions that she wasn’t to move a muscle. My cousin’s daughters had told people in school, basking in the tertiary cool that comes from having a relative you don’t talk to that much being theoretically linked to a TV show. The publisher of the book became so excited that the static charge on his jumper defibrillated everyone in the room.
And then they didn’t show it. My mother slumped to one side in a crestfallen fashion, my cousin’s daughters were nailed to a creaky door for telling lies about the telly, and the publisher came out of his megavolt rage to see that he was surrounded by death, and his painting of an inspirational dolphin had been turned into a portal leading directly to hell. Perhaps I should say “transmuted”. Turned seems a bit lame, considering it was a portal to hell.
But now, it’s totally happening. And you do know why I know it’s totally happening? Because Vic Reeves was just on an advert for it, because it’s on the Radio Times website, and most of all, because a teacher has written an article in the newspaper saying it’s a miserable and moronic show, of which everyone in the world should be ashamed. And his name’s Francis Gilbert, which sounds pretty fucking clever if you ask me. So I feel I should engage him in ULTRA-SERIOUS DEBATE. What do you say about the TV show, Mr Gilbert?
It is based on Jonathan Blyth’s The Law of the Playground website (www.playgroundlaw.com) and book which has gathered a cult following on the internet because it is choc-a-bloc with supposedly amusing schoolyard anecdotes.
Cough! Splutter! Supposedly amusing? I could talk about his three books, which detail his experiences as a teacher in a world that’s quite literally falling apart around his awful head, and I could say that they are supposedly thought-provoking, or that “according to so-called conventional wisdom, they’re not written by a booby-hat“.
Instead, I just stole the photo of him from his agent’s page. Now I don’t have a particular attachment to the Law of the Playground TV series, but this guy’s ragging on my book. And that’s like men in bio-suits from some shadowy government agency storming into my house and screaming “WHERE IS THE GODDAMN EXTRATERRESTRIAL WE’VE GOT PERMISSION FROM TONY BLAIR TO ROUGH UP YOUR DOG”. So allow me to put words into your mouth, Mr Glandpiss Bumsquirt.
“DOOOO! By dabe’s Fwancis Glibret. Look! I’m outraged! It just drives me so mad! I’m hopping mad, and I don’t care who knows it! You know what I’m going to do? if you don’t stop having children at me, I’m going to write book after book about how how my life has been ruined because a nation packed full of rapists and whores that won’t stop having children at me.”
What does he go on to say?
The website is much more successful because it can be dipped in and out of and it doesnâ€™t demand that you laugh: youâ€™ve got a moment to pause and reflect on each story.
Oh. Fair enough, I like you again now. In fact, I can quite imagine us being introduced at one of Madame Engadine’s wonderful parties.
SCENE SEVEN: MADAME ENGADINE’S DINNER PARTY
ENGADINE: Oh Mr Blyth, you absolutely must meet Francis. He simply abhors children, so I imagine he is gay. Perhaps you will fall in love.
BLYTH: Exquisite idea, Madam Engadine. It has been months since I fell in love properly. My last few encounters have been rather like getting soap out of a wall-mounted dispenser.
ENGADINE: Mr Gilbert sir, would you come over here? Is everything alright, my dear?
GILBERT: No. I’m utterly outraged. It’s the children, they’re just so hideous. Don’t you think?
BLYTH: Vile, quite vile. I hear that they trump, and then laugh at the trump.
GILBERT: That is not all. Sometimes they draw penises, for no reason at all. Then they laugh at the penises. Trumping and penises are not funny.
ENGADINE: I trumped on my dear husband’s penis last night, and I can assure you neither of us laughed. He said a bit of brown air went down his urethra.
GILBERT: I have vomited a million times.
[JONATHAN BLYTH (me) AND FRANCIS GILBERT MOVE INTO A BUNGALOW]
Of Francis Gilbert’s review of the LotP TV show, this is the paragraph I love most of all. I do, I love it, and it is what I’m going to make him say at our wedding.
I can testify from bitter personal experience that farting games are still very popular. In one of my classes, a troublesome boy emitted a loud fart while shouting at the top of his voice, â€œSafety!â€ â€“ the code word for this particular game. Immediately, there was a massed rush for the door as everyone tried to touch the door handle. A flurry of cussing ensued as the pupils screamed, â€œI touched the knob first! I touched it first! That means you get beats! Beats!â€ The boy who had done this, then turned to the rest of the gang and pummelled the arms of his peers. I learnt later the first one to touch the door knob was entitled to beat everyone else. I looked on in astonishment and dismay. My lesson on Shakespeareâ€™s language was ruined: another language had supplanted it, the school boy language of â€˜fartsâ€™ and â€˜knobsâ€™ and mayhem.
Farts and knobs! What IS this behaviour? It’s just so inexplicably childish! Gilbert goes on to say that this is distressing for everyone in the classroom, not just him. Distressing for the everyone running towards the door handle, Mr Gilbert? I put it to you – using the very evidence you have supplied me with, like the lawyer skillz I have gained playing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – that your children were having a great time, and you felt stupid because all you had was blank prose and diamic pentameter to tempt them away with. Like some anaemic Milky bar kid, trying to coax lions away from a deer corpse with lightly whipped nougat. You flimsy gondola of piss.
This very thing happened in my classroom about 18 years ago. I didn’t get involved, I was far too respectful of authority as a child for that. But it was fucking brilliant. Safety? Doorknob? Beats? Do you not find it funny at all, that one act could have such illogical but undisputed consequences? Do you not find it positively… Kafka-esque?
SCENE EIGHT: FRANCIS GILBERT’S BOOK PUBLISHER MEETING
PUBLISHER: So, Yob Nation. This is the third book you’ve written for us, Francis.
FRANCIS: Yes, it is. It’s essentially the same thing, but with a title that’s more likely to make newspapers want to talk to me.
PUBLISHER: Good luck with that, Francis. Your joyless brand of adult-orientated outrage and the odd statistic will go down a storm in the Mail, I’m sure. But that’s not why we’re here.
FRANCIS: Oh? I was just going to recline in this chair and read Porphyria’s Lover. It’s my favourite poem in the world, it really is. It paved the way for Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town, in a very real sense.
PUBLISHER: Coughbendercough. Please, put the poetry down. As I say, this is your third book, and that means you have to kiss the next person who comes through that door. Unless you can say the alphabet backwards.
[FRANCIS LOOKS UTTERLY DESPONDANT AT THE LACK OF LOGICAL CAUSALITY, PULLS ALL HAIR OUT]
I’m quite certain I have no idea of the complexities of the classroom mechanic, but from the simplicities of that paragraph, you come across like a whimpering mound of tit-jelly. If we’re going to be married, Francis, you’re going to have to pull your socks up.
SCENE NINE: AT THE BUNGALOW OF LOVE
GILBERT: Oh, darling, it was terrible!
BLYTH: Tell me! I long to feel the sting of outrage!
GILBERT: One of the boys said “knob” today. He said it very loud.
BLYTH: In a reference to the male genitals, Francis?
GILBERT: No, it was about a doorknob.
[BLYTH SWOONS. GILBERT CRAWLS ONTO THE BALCONY AND PLAYS THE LUTE, WEEPING]
And Mr Gilbert – if someone says to you “this guy on the internet says you’re probably gay because you’ve made a living out of saying how awful it is to be a teacher”, don’t run off and write a piece in The Times, about how you’re absolutely certain that the internet is now the cause of children being right little cunts. Just turn around and say “what, that bloke on disappointment? He’s 100% gay, and he doesn’t even hide it. What the hell were you doing reading an openly homosexual man’s gay blog, you actual bummer?”. And if they protest, saying “I’m not gay,” tell them that they’re just repressed, and anyway it’s reverse-day, so they just came out to the class.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got three books on Amazon to review.
Unbelievably, some people have asked me what I’m talking about. What is IDST, they ask, before putting a slipper on their hands and saying “DID I DO RIGHT MNNNNGGGGG”.
So, Lesson Zero : IDST stands for If Destroyed, Still True. You add it to a written insult to ensure that the person you are insulting remains insulted long after they’ve scribbled over it and said “SHUP UP YOU’RE BULLYING ME”. What follows details the historical wranglings between the insultors and the insultees.
LESSON ONE : BASICS
The purple IDST uses the trusty arrows technique to apply its protection. Both are equally effective. Simon, suddenly, has no logical way to prove that he is not a bra. Should he remain aloof, and ignore it – allowing the allegation to go unchecked? Or should he take active steps to "destroy" the graffito, which amounts to a signed confession?
That is a matter for Simon.
Well, no. To be honest, INDST has the stench of insecurity about it. The very fact that you hate picnics is written on a wall, desk or bus seat, should be conclusive evidence that it is true; to be overly concerned about what should happen should someone NOT destroy your graffiti, is to be close to neurosis.
LESSON THREE : BASIC
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from writing your own reply – but negative graffiti, such as "my mum’s face doesn’t just taper off" occupies a strange area. In real life, people will believe you if you say "I’m gay" (unless you’re talking to an ugly woman). If you say "I’m not gay", however, they’ll say "alright, stop being so gay about it, you gay". The same applies to graffiti; negatively-phrased graffiti will be taken to mean the complete opposite of what it says.
LESSON FOUR : THE CHAIN IDST
Destroying (a) first activates (b), making (a), if anything, even truer than before. Now we have a similar situation as in Lesson Three – with IDST (a) now being the most true thing in the world, the main message will forever remain protected by it, and there’s nothing you can do about it, not now, not ever, not no way, uh-huh.
Similarly – if you destroy (b), (c) promotes it to absolute truth, making (a) indestructable. The destruction of Chain IDSTs relies on the outermost IDST being unprotected by its own IDST; once you have an indestructible, non-conditional IDST in the chain you are destroying, you are lost.
Lesson 5 : The Gordian IDST
Lesson 6 : Gridlock
Destroy one IDST, and the other automatically becomes the "straight dope". You’re therefore trapped – there is literally nothing you can do but pay awed homage to the innovators of the Gridlock method. If you are James, you might also face-hug a Tunnock’s Tea Cake.
Lesson 7 : Arrow Destruction
It became clear that the third, double-ended arrow was an entity in its own right, and could therefore be destroyed independently, allowing each IDST to be destroyed afterwards with ease. So no longer must Claire have to put up with the insinuation that she makes sandwiches for the darts team on their fortnightly visits to the local pub.
Lesson 8 : IDST Arrows : The IDST H-Bomb?
To my knowledge, this has never been used in practice, and if you did employ an IDST arrow, people would probably say “fuck off, you gay”, which beats everything in these situations.
Video Week has been cut short! Why’s that? I’ll tell you for whys! I got really, really, distracted.
A) I was chatting to loads of people on MSN Messenger and they were all like “come on join the party” and I came back with “you better get this party started cos I’m the kinda guy who’ll never settle down”. Seriously, I am the most fun to party with. I say things like “Walla walla BONG” and crazy shit like that.
B) The second reason was that it’s been a truly magnificent day for my beast-colleague, Brenda. Who would have thought that Brenda’s most awful behaviour to date would revolve around the bereavement of a colleague? I shit you the fuck not, she was crying more than the woman whose dad had died.
C) We had a sad-face complaint from the Law of the Playground. I don’t have time to explain now, but the glorious upshot is that we made someone cry about her fat dead mum. I think we can probably step aside now, and say “mission accomplished”.
By way of apology, I’m going to go to Nottingham for four days, and come back on Sunday. Is that OK? Does a period of self-imposed Midlands sound fair enough to you? Or do you want more? Take a piece, I’ve got loads spare.
Before I go, though – if you want to see a photo of me murdering whores on the internet, then you really should probably go see Jekyll and Gingernuts. I’ve never looked dapperer, and frankly, you could have made more of an effort.
COMMENTS HOMEWORK FOR THE WEEKEND
Answer one or more of the following questions.
1. What do you bring to the party (bear in mind I’ve already brought the vodka and dancing honeys)?
2. Once I’ve wiped out all the whores, who should I murder next? Seems a shame to waste the momentum.
3. Should I take down this story from the Law of the Playground?
Mispronunciation of “My Keith”. Used primarily by the mother of [name removed], a gargantuan lumpy beast of a woman, who had a melted owl face and corned-beef arms. Her protective cry of “MAHR KEEF”, warped into a gigantic trumpet by her fatty fatty fatfat lungs of fat. She drove a car named “Cheese On Toast”, presumably because the idea of sitting inside of a huge piece of food made her wet her fat knickers in morbid glee.
If you’re here, chances are you’ll have been to the Law of the Playground, and you’ll obviously have bought the book. You’ll have marvelled at the highly-polished and consistently hilarious entries, and gone “awoo” at the adorably frank tales of mental and genital mutilation.
I’ve let my backlog of submissions grow again – this is a normal thing. Any time I sense anything enjoyable becoming a duty, I shit my pants and run a mile, fresh shit tumbling from my new flared cords. But I’m going in there, now. I’m going to have a crack at it. (I’m at work, which is a bigger duty. So editing Law of the Playground submissions wins.)
First up, the ancient and sacred act of sick, sic malestation!
- a boy i know called david kirby rapes dogs!!!!
This was submitted anonymously, so I can’t email the author to say “Wow, does David really rape dogs? I’m just checking ‘cos I’d hate to publicly accuse him of raping dogs if it’s just sexual assault. I mean, is there penetration? Or does he just tickle their balls?”
He’s submitted malesting a number of times, too. He appears to be on an Erin-Brocknovich style crusade to bring David Kirby to justice. Anonymous user – send me video evidence and I will help you. Until then, please go fuck yourself.
- I WOZ ERE (a cautionary tale about letting your children near Nigel Rees books)
- (name) was here
Now I’m gone
Left my name
To turn you on
I’m not initially keen on this. However, after wincing and umming, I reckon I do like the idea that the writer left their name in the belief that it would turn people on. So I’m going to have to rewrite this one.
Ah. There you go. Just one more, as someone’s given me some of that kind of work that shows up if you don’t do it.
- gerbil trousers
- I never once got to the top of the rope in P.E. I could have done, but I’d have never heard the last of it when I came back down…
I think I almost know what the author means. But so many questions spring to mind. Why would you never have heard the last of it? Were your genitals all funny, and weren’t you wearing knickers? Did anyone else who climbed the rope ever hear the last of it? Are you a girl? They don’t make girls climb ropes in skirts, do they? More importantly, what’s your point? WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS? IS THIS A STORY ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD, OR ARE YOU JUST SLYLY WINKING AT THE CAMERA? SHOW ME YOUR FUNNY GENITALS!
Most importantly of all, why did you see fit to put this story under gerbil trousers, the delightful tale of girls putting rodents near their fannies?
I understand we’ve probably done childhood to death by now. Perhaps we should move on to angsty teenagers and The Smiths posters and innovative jokes about students’ fridges with the milk labelling already. Alternatively, I could open my face with a knife.
Sports Days, for those of us who didn’t like running, were simply a collection of innovative new ways to make us look clumsy, fat, and laughable. It wasn’t good enough that we kicked the space above the ball in football, flipping ourselves onto our backs. It wasn’t enough that our feeble grips allowed any racquet to fly from our hands. And it certainly wasn’t enough that we had to endure the 1500 metres whilst desperately feeding ourselves Mars Bars, just to provide enough energy to finish.
No! We had to be shit at the Egg & Spoon race, too. And jump around in sacks, which would be a war crime if you made Muslims do it.
So what better way to celebrate the summer than with a growed-up Sports Day? I suggested it last year at the Law of the Playground forums (Belmsford123), and twelve months later, some other people put the effort in, and it happened.
Here’s The Invitation
And here’s The Fact Sheet
23rd JULY 2005
Douglas Bader Football
This could really have done with a trial run. It soon became obvious that running around and playing football without bending your legs isn’t (a) fun or (b) possible. Any attempts to referee by shouting “you just bent your legs” were quickly met with “fuck off”.
People were jumping. You can’t jump without bending your knees – you’re not Manic Miner. “Is anyone here Manic Miner?” I wanted to shout. “Does anyone here need to collect five keys to progress to the next level? NO. I THOUGHT NOT.”
In summary, this turned out to be nothing more than a really short game of awkward football.
Based on the original mongster, Joey Deacon, the Shoe-Putt was a tribute to the day that Joey kicked his shoe off the side of a boat. “Why tie his shoelaces properly?” the nurses had said that morning. “It’s not like he’ll be doing anything at all with his body. Just hang the shoes off the end of his toes.” What the nurses didn’t count on was a colossal spasm sending the shoe into orbit (The Thames).
To that end, I bring you… the Shoe Putt, as performed by residents of Belmsford.
Speedwolf / The 16th Nicholas / Ponky / Exxon Valdex
The Grand Belm-Off
It was a cosmopolitan day. There was a Japanese girl (who got hit by a football), and a Spanish gay, who didn’t. They were united by their ignorance of wonderful, British belming. If you’re not entirely sure what belming is, perhaps you should watch this;
Belm Off, Round 1 – Sears House vs Carr House
Then it rained, so we went to the pub. Which was probably lucky, as no-one wanted to play the Douglas Bader final, and there was no way the other games could match up to six adult males making spaz flippers.