## Wednesday, 20 April 2011

### The Mystery of the Mousse - Chapter 4 - 'To the Victor, the Spoils......'

Chapter 4 - To the Victor go the spoils.....

There it was. Incontrovertible and indisputable. The 7 of clubs.

A quiet resignation swept over Mr G, and he slumped back into his chair. Defeated, he let out a sigh before placing his hands over his face.

The Victim leapt out of his chair and punched the air in triumph.

"I've done it!" he proclaimed jubilantly. "I've really done it!"

Mr G didn't reply. He simply stared at the floor. Mr C, still passed out on the floor, twitched suddenly, as if in acknowledgement of the result, but then resumed his drunken slumber.

"Where is it?" asked the Victim sternly. Mr G, without looking up, simply pointed across to the mantelpiece.

"There it is. Take it and leave this place!" Mr G barked at him.

"I will be doing exactly that G. The mousse is mine and I will use it for great things"

The Victim walked over to the great stone fireplace, where the Dairy Milk Chocolate Mousse was resting. He looked admiringly at it, almost in awe of it. Looking back across the room he saw Mr G staring blankly out of the window at the stormy night sky.

"Come now, G. No hard feelings" said the Victim compassionately. "All's fair in mousses and war! You needn't worry about it. It'll be safe with me"

"I know" replied G, "but it's going to be hard to part with it, that's all".

All the tension of the evening had rested heavily on the Victim. He suddenly felt the need for a smoke to ease his stress.

"Mr G!" proclaimed the Victim suddenly. "Why don't you join me out on the veranda for a cigarette. I don't know about you, but I could do with some air".

"No, you go on Victim. I think I'll wait here a while".

The Victim strolled out of the games room and back onto the veranda in the courtyard, where the challenge had originally been made. He took out a cigarette and lit it. As he drew the thick smoke into his lungs, he felt a sense of ease and his thoughts turned to the future.

He would use the mousse for great things. With it, he felt that he could achieve anything. Its power and influence would be sure to bring him much wealth and glory. A sense of euphoria enveloped him as he pictured this bright future.

Upon finishing the cigarette, he flicked it nonchalantly out into the middle of the courtyard and watched its orange glow perish as the rain fell on it.

Turning around, he walked back into the games room, where a strange site met him.

Mr C, who just moments ago seemed utterly incapacitated, was sitting bolt upright in one of the mahogany chairs.

"You recovered quickly" stated the victim, taken aback by this sudden change in circumstances.

Mr C just sniggered at him and looked to Mr G who had a mischievous grin on his face.

"What are you two up to?" asked the Victim, now rather perturbed by the expressions on the faces of his vanquished foes.

"Nothing. Nothing at all", chirped Mr G, sarcastically.

"Hmm, well I'll be going now I think" replied the Victim, cautiously. "Again, no hard feelings, eh?"

"Oh, none at all" responded Mr C. "None at all!"

The victim turned to the fireplace to go and collect his prize. As he approached it, he noticed the wondrous Dairy Milk Chocolate Mousse looked slightly different to before. Its lid was slightly torn. As he picked it up, he noticed that it felt unnaturally light in weight. He tentatively, peeled a fraction of the lid back to take a peek at the wondrous content that laid within.

What he saw at that moment would have driven any man to the edge of despair. What he saw would reverberate around his mind for the rest of his natural life. He saw....

Absolutely nothing.

The Dairy Milk Chocolate Mousse had been defiled. Its contents stripped bare and violated. The pot that once housed the sweet, light, chocolaty goodness was now barren and lifeless.

"Aaaaahhhhhh!!". The victim cried out painfully.

"Who did this? Where is it? What fucking happened?"

His gaze turned back towards Mr G and Mr C, who were both laughing like jackals.

"Which one of you...." shouted the Victim, struggling to form his words, "....did this??"

Mr G and Mr C both pointed at each other, and said, simultaneously.....

"Him!"

It was clear that in a fit of mad jealously and rage, one of the two had taken it upon themselves to desecrate the mousse and extinguish its power forever. Truly an act of selfish madness.

The victim ran screaming from the villa, out into the dark stormy night. His life would never again have meaning.

Mr G simply turned to Mr C and said.

"Stick the PlayStation on. I'll kick your arse at Pro-Evo".

## Tuesday, 19 April 2011

### Wolverhampton Blackjack

The arcane game of Wolverhampton Blackjack is not, as most people might assume, anything like the classic casino card game where players aim to make a total count of 21 from the cards that they are dealt.

In Wolverhampton Blackjack, a maximum of 7 players can participate. Each player is initially given 7 cards. The remaining deck is put to one side and will be used when players need to pick up further cards. One card is played face up as the communal card, which the next card laid down must follow on from.

The main aim is for players for them to get rid of their cards as quickly as possible by making sequences/runs of cards that follow on from the communal card.

For instance, if the communal card is a four of clubs, then the following player will need to place another four or another card of the same suit:

The forfeit for being unable to place a card is the requirement to pick up another card from the remainder of the deck. When the deck is emptied, the cards in the 'communal card' pile are turned over, with the exception of the current communal card, and they then become the new 'deck' from which players take their forfeit cards.

All cards put down by the player are placed face-up on top of the current communal card. The final card the player puts down will then become the next communal card.

Sequences allowing a player to place more than one card can be made by playing further cards of the same value, or by creating runs where you can place a card valued one number higher but matches the suit of the current communal card.

The first player to offload all of his/her cards will be declared the winner. The last will be known as the loser and forever mocked or made to complete a forfeit (such as putting a brew on)

To hamper opponents, certain cards have 'special' properties' which affect the state of play. Should a player lay one of these cards down as the final card of his turn, the following player may be adversely affected:

Special Cards:

2s - the following player must pick up two cards from the unused deck, which they must add to his existing hand.
8s - in a game with more than two people, 8 makes the following player miss a turn - unless they can produce another 8.
Black Jacks- Laying down the eponymous blackjack forces the following player to pick up 5 cards to add to their hand.
Red Jacks - Cancels out the requirement to pick cards up. A card to be kept for protection
Queens - In a game of two or more players, a queen reverses the direction of play
Kings - Allows the player to have another go before their turn is finished
Aces - Allows the player to change the suit that the following player needs to choose. Can be placed on any card.

The Blackjack Bust.

Blackjacks and 2s can be played together in sequence. In such cases the pickup amounts are added together. As there are two black-jacks and four 2s, a player could potentially be forced to pick up a maximum of 18 cards.

Should a player be facing a pick up, but has another 2 or another blackjack, they can pass on the pick up requirement to the next player along long with the added value of the card that they used too.

Red-Jacks are used to cancel out any pickups a player may be facing, so are worth hanging on to.

So that's Wolverhampton Blackjack 'in a nutshell'. If you can follow these rules, give it a go.

### The Mystery of the Mousse - Chapter 3 - 'Game on'

CHAPTER 3 - 'Game on'

Taking to their seats, the tension in the room was palpable. A bead of sweat trickled down the cheek of Mr C. The Victim's eyes darted to and fro, trying to sense any signs of weakness in his opponents. Mr G seemed calm, but his apparent resolve belied a rapidly beating heart and a feeling of intense fear.

"Shall we begin?" Mr G asked. "Or do you ladies need to powder your noses before we start?" he chortled mockingly, in an effort to appear cool and calm.

"Just get on with it G!" barked the Victim, clearly in no mood for such banter.

"Hang on a minute" interrupted Mr C. "We can't start without a drink!"

Mr C walked across to the bar and began to survey the stock. He was known to enjoy a good tipple, and wouldn't have felt comfortable carrying on the game without a stiff drink.

"Whiskey? I don't think so. Vodka? Not tonight. Tequila? Mayb.....Hang on! What's this??"

Mr C's gaze fell upon the strange looking bottle of red liquid labelled ' The Aftershock'

"Now this looks interesting!" he declared.

"That's dangerous stuff" shouted Mr G from across the room. "I've seen what that grog can do to people!"

Nevertheless, Mr C was already returning to the table with the bottle and three shot glasses.

He sat down and poured a thimbles worth of the bright liquid into each glass. Vapour swirled around the top of each glass.

"Thirty second challenge anyone?" challenged Mr C.

The thirty second challenge was a tradition amongst this group of friends. It involves the drinking of an alcoholic substance, with various stages involved in the consumption. The first stage, 'the hold' lasts ten seconds, and requires the drinker to keep perfectly still and retain the fiery liquid in their mouth. The second stage, 'the swill' demands that the drinker slosh their drink around their mouth to enhance the flavour - this too, lasts ten seconds. The final ten second stage, 'the shake' is the most rigorous, as the participant must shake their head violently for another 10 seconds before finally swallowing the whole lot.

Following these rules 'to the letter', each one of the three friends took a swig of the red firewater.

"Bloody Hell!" spluttered the Victim. "That's some strong shit!"

"You're telling me" replied Mr C, his face contorted by the bitter aftertaste of his drink.

"Are we rreeady then?" slurred Mr G, recoiling from his shot.

As the game of blackjack got underway, Mr C poured himself another glass of the demon drink. He figured his ability to out drink his opponents would give him a clear advantage.

"Pick up 5, ya fucker!" Shouted Mr C, as he casually threw down a black-jack prior to Mr G's turn. The drink was clearly making him aggressive.

"I don't think so!" snorted Mr G as he cancelled the move with a red-jack. "I'm too slick for your tricks, C!"

"Not for mine though, eh G?" taunted the Victim as he placed a queen (to reverse the direction of play) followed by another blackjack and a two, which meant Mr G needed to pick up a total of 7 cards.

"Damn, you nearly got me" said Mr G with a smirk on his face. "But I have one more move left!"

Mr G then confidently turned over another 2. The result of this move meant that Mr C was now facing the possibility of picking up 9 cards. The rouse he had created had backfired on him!

"You lot are a bunch of cheating bastards!" barked Mr C, angrily.

The others just smiled as Mr C began counting out the cards he needed to take.

"Make sure you pick them all up now C!", scoffed Mr G.

Fifteen minutes passed. The game was entering a critical stage now. The Victim had only 3 cards remaining and Mr G had only 4. Mr C, who was drinking heavily now, had over 25 cards in his hand and things were looking bleak for him.

"Yous lot are fuckin' cheatsss!" slurred Mr C. "I don't like this game annyymorrre!"

Mr C wobbled around on his chair and fell, the aftershock had taken full hold on him and his game was over.

Mr G placed a king down, which allowed him another turn. He followed this with and 2 and 3 of hearts (a perfectly legal move). This left him on the cusp of victory with just one card left in his hand. He rapped the table with his knuckle, as was customary in the game of blackjack to announce an intention to win on the next turn.

The world suddenly faded around the Victim. All that was left was his cards, the table and the intent stare of Mr G, seemingly willing him into making the wrong move.

The Victim's hand twitched nervously. He was about to play two 5's, but knew if he finished on the suit that matched Mr G's remaining card, it would all be over.

Cautiously, he placed the 5 of hearts followed by the 5 of clubs - and he too, knocked on the table with his hand. Mr G smiled. Was the game over?

"Well, well Victim", said Mr G scornfully. "What do you think is going to happen now?"

"You....win?" asked the Victim, slowly accepting the impending defeat.

"No. I bloody don't you lucky swine!" hissed Mr G, his confidence fading.

Mr G's last remaining card had been a heart. If the Victim had have placed his cards in a different order, the game may have ended in defeat for him.

But now a wry smile crept onto the face of the Victim. Suddenly he began to laugh hysterically.

For the briefest of moments, the world stopped turning. The patter of the rain outside ceased and the snores of the incapacitated Mr C faded into the background. Indeed, time itself stopped to observe the Victim's next move. Slowly and assuredly, the Victim reached for his final card. If it was a club, the game would be over.........

To be Continued.........

## Monday, 18 April 2011

### The Mystery of the Mousse - Chapter 2 - 'The Prize'

CHAPTER 2 - 'The prize'

While the others retired to the games room to take their seats at the blackjack table, Mr G took a lantern and headed towards to villa's basement.

The weather had started to turn, and a distant rumble of thunder warned of an approaching storm. The wind in the courtyard was rattling against the villa's exterior gate and a few drops of rain had started to fall.

After a short walk across the courtyard and down a spiral flight of stone steps, Mr G came upon the cavernous room that was the Casa Del Pertone basement floor. The room smelled damp and the air was stale. Mr G glanced around at vast emptiness of the basement. The room had long since been cleared of all but it's most prized possession. And there it stood, at the far wall, a beacon of light an in a ocean of darkness - the fridge.

He had known that the fridge was in this room, but had not ventured in to see it for a while. However this time, he had a purpose. The time had arrived for him to lay his hands upon the most prized of all possessions.

Mr G approached the fridge reverently. His posture near a bow. The Fridge's power to corrupt was known to all who had layed eyes on it. The wonders that were kept inside have been plundered throughout history, but as always, when those wonders have been used and consumed, the thief is always driven to madness with the desire for more.

As he carefully opened the door, a ray of light fell upon him, blinding him momentarily. As his vision cleared, he saw the Dairy Milk chocolate mousse with his own eyes. A vision in purple plastic.

Slowly and carefully, he removed it from its chilled confines, defiantly slammed the fridge door shut and with purpose, he began to march back towards the staircase.

Meanwhile, in the games room, Mr C and 'the victim' had been relaxing in style. Like any good games room, the main lighting was dim, but the room was dotted with powerful lamps that illuminated key features in what was a hugely spacious area. The stuffed heads of deer and other game animals were mounted on every wall and a large, open stone fireplace provided the focal point of the entire room.

The bar in the corner was stocked with all manner of fine liquor, including a mysterious looking bottle of bright red liquid, known only as 'the aftershock'.

A full sized billiards table occupied the far wall and the card table, where the plot would unfold, was covered in the finest green felt and built of the sturdiest mahogany wood.

After much debate and discussion, Mr C was midway through a verbal demonstration of the correct use of the 'red-jack', when he was abruptly interrupted as the exterior games room door flung open.

The cold night air rushed in and a crack of lightning briefly illuminated the doorway to reveal Mr G, standing tall and holding aloft the Dairy Milk Chocolate Mousse.

"I have it!" announced Mr G. "Let us battle for the right to own it!"

The mantlepiece above the great open fireplace of the games room seemed like an appropriate location to house the prize in waiting, so Mr G set it down.

The others, who had not uttered a word since Mr G's arrival, stared longingly at the mousse, but knew that they would have to steel their nerves and focus their minds in order to possess it.

To be continued.......

### The Mystery of the Mousse - Chapter 1 - 'A lighthearted gathering'

In every society on Earth, great conspiracy theories arise from time to time. In recent history, in the US, questions have been raised regarding the truth behind the Kennedy assassination, Elvis' death and 9/11. Here in the UK, much cynicism ensued from the untimely demise of the Princess of Wales and we have long wondered, "what really happened to Shergar?"

In my own social circles, there lies a conspiracy that is now ten years in the making. It is known only as 'the mystery of the mousse'.

It is a simple tale, with just three protagonists. For the protection of those involved, no names will be disclosed, but mark my words - they know who they are! The following is a 'loose' adaptation of the events that unfolded on one fateful night back in the year 2000. It is a dark tale, of deceit, greed and betrayal.

CHAPTER 1 - 'A lighthearted gathering'

It had been an evening like many other. The enigmatic Mr G was hosting one his famous soirées at Casa del Pertone; a beautiful villa high up in the foothills of West Wolverhampton.

The first of the Mr G's guests, Mr C, was a wily character. A tall, heavyset gentleman, he was a man known for his love of fine cuisine and expensive wine. He had tendency to over indulge in the finer things and always enjoyed a good debate.

The second guest, known as the Victim, was a shorter man, but was a confident sort. He enjoyed these gatherings as the conversation was always diverse and engaging. He would often become very passionate when the topic steered towards matters of business and politics.

Mr G himself had lived in the Casa Del Pertone for several years. The grand villa had all the trappings a man could want. A large pool, several grand balconies and a full staff of cooks and cleaners and other servants.

Mr G enjoyed the lifestyle at the villa and would often stay awake until the early hours of the morning, smoking on the balcony and reflecting about the goings-on of the world. He shared the villa with his brother Mr D.

Mr D, who was presently away on business, had made a fortune investing in Billiard Halls. Mr G was never entirely sure where his brother could be found, but knew that he was most probably in the far flung reaches of Riley's Coast in Southern Wolverhampton, where his business' headquarters were located.

The night had gone unhindered thus far. An easy atmosphere and the sound of raucous laughter filled the rooms of the house. But unforeseen by all present, the mood was set to change and vile treachery would ensue.

Mr G and his guests decided to remove themselves to the veranda, to smoke fine cigars and discuss economic and political affairs.

But the conversation grew tiresome after a while, for such topics did not seem fitting for surroundings as serene and tranquil as those at Casa del Pertone.

Being men though, the talk soon turned to sport and competition. Tales of sporting conquests and past victories were exchanged, as each one of the three friends sought to outdo the next with bolder and more impressive stories.

Reaching a stalemate in their verbal battle, 'the victim' decided to make a suggestion that the friends should indulge in a touch of sport on that very eve.

"But what should sport would suffice for sophisticated gentleman such as ourselves?" asked the always etiquette conscious Mr C.

"Wolverhampton Blackjack!" retorted Mr G - for he considered himself a dab-hand at this game.

"A fine and suitable choice" stated Mr C.

Then it's agreed" replied 'the victim'. "Blackjack** it is".

"But we can't have a proper sport without a worthy prize!" proclaimed Mr C, insistently.

The banter paused momentarily, as the group stopped to consider what could make a worthwhile trophy for this sporting event.

"I have it!" shouted the victim excitedly. "You have here the ultimate prize right here at the Casa, G!"

"What is it?" replied Mr G, forgetting momentarily of the grand wonder that he knew resided deep in the catacombs of his very dwelling.

"Think about it!" said 'the victim' mockingly. "You know what I speak of. It is that which transcends money and power. It is beyond glory itself."

Mr C suddenly cried out, "No! Surely not the......"

"Yes!!" declared 'the victim', sensing his friend had realised the truth.

"But that's madness!!" said Mr G, who by now had also been confronted by the truth of the matter.

"Gentleman", 'the victim' interjected. "Fate has already decided it".

Nervous glances were exchanged between the others.

"We shall play for the Dairy Milk Chocolate Mousse!!!!"

To be continued....................

## Tuesday, 12 April 2011

### Choc-Finger

What I am about to tell you is not a new story, but it is one that has been largely removed from public attention - most probably due to the sheer panic that would be caused. As such, you may not be aware of it and I feel compelled to spread the word.

Now, you've all probably seen a James Bond film at some point. Perhaps you've mocked the pantomime villains and scoffed at their convoluted schemes of world domination.

You will surely have been comfortable in the knowledge that it is all merely a work of fiction.....That is until now!

Last year a dastardly plot was uncovered documenting one man's effort to join the ranks of the maniacal Bond villains.

What was the dastardly scheme of this scoundrel you ask? Only a trivial little matter of........

****cue dramatic pause****

Stealing the world's supply of chocolate!!!!!

*****cue evil laughter*******

But who would perpetrate such a heinous scheme? Show me the face of this vile rogue, I hear you cry:

NAME: Anthony Ward

A.K.A - Chocolate-Finger (seriously!)

Armajaro Holdings (CC+ Hedge Fund Manager)

DASTARDLY SCHEME:
To steal the world's supply of chocolate

The Plot

Anthony 'Chocolate-Finger' Ward had been slowly putting his plan together over the course of twelve years. Up until last year, his strategy seemed quite 'flaky', with several large trading losses incurred. However, there was a growing 'wispa' amongst the trading community that his plans for domination were about to get set for a 'boost'. Apparently, no amount of 'riesen' would have dissuaded 'Chocolate-Finger' from doing what he did next.

In July 2010, he bought 241,000 tonnes of cocoa beans at a total cost of £658 million.

Chris Skinner, chairman of the Financial Services Club said this represented "the whole supply of Europe's cocoa" - enough to fill "five Titanics"

This is enough cocoa to produce a whopping 5.3 billion chocolate bars - or put another way, enough to feed Vanessa Feltz for an entire week.

So what sort of a man plots to capture the World's supply of chocolate? In short, greedy bastards.

When I say greedy bastard, I don't mean that 'Chocolate-Finger' is literally going to produce and eat all of the chocolate in Europe himself. No, he is merely going to store the cocoa beans in an unspecified location until such a time as he can sell them for profit. Or is he?

I've considered this motive and come to the conclusion that everything may not appear to be as it seems. It is true that Choc-Finger (as I shall now call him), may attempt to manipulate the soft commodity market to amass a small fortune. But he is already ridiculously wealthy anyway, so why should he care?

The Real Truth!

If at this point you are starting to question Choc-Finger's bond villain credentials and you think that he is, as he would have you believe, just a greedy speculator, I have compiled the following evidence to eliminate all doubt you may have of his Bond villainy:

The footage is from a very rare interview with the 'master of the malteser' himself.

Bond Villain Checklist

1) A Bond Villain must possess the means to imprison all us in a global web of fear, lies, deceit and, er, chocolate:

2) All forward thinking Bond villains must also have access to top scientists and scientific resources such as 'global weather stations' (which as we all know, usually turn out to be disguised missile launch sites):

3) Any self-respecting Bond villain will usually have one of those cool table top maps of the world - probably located in a underground bunker somewhere! (n.b - i make no apologies for repeating this clip to add dramatic emphasis and to highlight his unusually evil sounding voice):

4) Finally, Bond villains must belong to organisations that have scary looking logos:

EXHIBIT 1: Dr No - SPECTRE

EXHIBIT 2: Auric Goldfinger - Auric Enterprises

EXHIBIT 3: Anthony 'Chocolate-Finger' Ward - Armajaro Holdings Ltd

(n.b - quite odd how similar the Armajaro logo is to that of Auric Enterprises, don't you think?)

Convinced? Yeah, I thought you might be!

So, like all villains, we can assume that Choc-Finger has an insatiable appetite for power (and mars bars probably). This appetite can be temporarily appeased through the acquisition of material wealth, but it is no substitute for real power - namely the ability to strike fear into the hearts of your fellow man.

In this case, the man who owns the world's supply of cocoa, can hold chocolate lovers of the world to ransom.

A popular conspiracy is that powerful individuals have previously used substance addiction to control and subjugate the masses to further their own interests. It is believed by some, that dark forces connected to the U.S government were responsible for crack-cocaine hitting the streets of U.S cities in the 1950s, in order to derail the momentum for change that was growing amongst African Americans:

So what better way to gain control over the masses than through the use of the world's most widely used addictive substance...Chocolate!

It is my theory that Choc-Finger will begin to amass an army of chocoholics who will be totally subservient to him and him alone. He will no doubt maintain control of his army by using a promise of the occasional dairy-milk.

This army will be spearheaded by a phalanx of unstoppable, relentless PMS suffering women who without chocolate to calm their hormonal rage, will literally tear the heads off their enemies and eat them for breakfast.

With his army established Chocolate-Finger will seek to crush the nations of this world one by one.

"Join me, and together we will eat all the galaxies".

Now for an uncharacteristically serious bit

Armies of chocoholics and world domination aside, Anthony 'Chocolate-finger' Ward is one of many of the world's wealthy speculators who are indirectly contributing to increasing levels of global poverty. This wholesale manipulation of global commodity markets result in increasingly erratic patterns in global food prices.

Even the farmers of cocoa who may initially benefit from these price spikes are ultimately worse off due to the parallel rises in the price of food in their country. They will become worse off still when the speculators dump their stock and their crop prices plummet.

"Cocoa farmers are in a precarious situation when one or two speculators can hold their futures in their hands", says Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation. "The wild fluctuations in the cocoa market make life extremely unstable for farmers. It is very difficult for them to build their organisations and plan their lives," say Harriet. "In our experience, whatever the current upturn in prices, little will go back to the farmers who could soon be once again at the mercy of low prices".

Worryingly, Choc-Finger has signalled his belief that our planet's very 'life-blood' may be the next big commodity market due to decreasing supply and an increasing global population. Alarming to say the least:

On a final note, i would like to make a plea to Mr Ward himself:

Choc-Finger. If you're reading this (and I would imagine that your international network of spies will inform you of its existence), I'd like to ask you to re-consider your plans for world domination.

Lets face it. You are obviously already very wealthy. You surely can't need to make any more money! Why don't you use your powers for good purposes? Here's an idea for you:

You could open a factory and use your cocoa beans to make free chocolate for the world. You could employ a labour force of orange faced dwarfs who like to sing a lot and are generally very productive. I believe that such people are happy to be paid in the cocoa beans themselves, so you'd save a fortune in salary costs!

You could increase your philanthropy by having an occasional 'prize-draw' involving golden tickets. Winners of such a competition could potentially get a free day-tour of your factory and compete for a life-time supply of chocolate. What do you think?

Whatever you decide to do, please try to think of others and put own your selfish impulses aside. You could do so much good in this world if only you'd change your wicked ways.

And if you won't listen to me, i think I know someone who might be able to convince you.......

and if that didn't work, well........

Let's be honest, I couldn't really finish this post without........

Given that Chocolate-Finger has clearly sealed his place amongst the likes of Ernst Blofeld, Dr No, Auric Goldfinger and other notable Bond Villains, I would like to make some suggestions for upcoming Bond movies:
• YOU ONLY LIVE TWIX
• DIMEBARS ARE FOREVER
• A VIEW TO A KIT-KAT
• THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN CRUMBLE
• MARS-RAKER
I'll get my coat..........

## Sunday, 10 April 2011

### Bloody Brilliant Britain: An Ode to the morning saviour

On mornings bleak with darkened skies,

With fog and mist that blurs your way

There is, but one, recourse to take

To spur you mind and ease your aches

It comes in boiling, liquid form

Its sweet release will bring you warmth

The choice is yours on how it comes

One or two spoons, milk or none?

Its vessel strong, with handle firm

Its colour rich in shades of brown

Its touch will warm your frozen palm,

A sip will lift your sullen frown

That’s right, you’ve guessed, it must be true

It is non-other than A BREW......

There are few words that can be uttered prior to nine o' clock in the morning and be as gladly received as "fancy a brew?"

Tea drinking in Britain is not just a matter of quaffing a hot beverage. It's much more than that. There are numerous rituals and sociological nuances that must be adhered to in order for the tea gods to be appeased.

"But who shall rise to the challenge"?

There are several ideological models that can be applied to the process of 'putting a brew on'. The model selected will generally be determined by the local environment and the status of the people involved.

1) The Socialist model of tea-making:

This model usually exists in more formal arenas such as offices and communal staff-rooms. Tea-making duties are defined by the use of a rota system and supplies are purchased by means of a shared monetary fund. All potential recipients of a brew are placed on a list. In turn, each member of the list will prepare a cuppa for every other member. The process is repeated 'ad infinitum' thus ensuring that everyone has an equal turn in the tea-making stakes. There is usually no particular order to the list, but upon completion of a round - the contributing member will put a tick against his/her name.

An even spread of ticks on the list ensures that everybody has contributed equally to the tea-making rota.....or does it?

Although this sounds like a fair and equitable model for tea-making duties, there are some flaws in this system. For one, as the size of the round depends on how many people are present at the time of the making, a canny member of the list might wait until a quieter moment before they offer their services and earn their mark on the rota. These people are known as 'crafty fuckers'.

Also as there is a requirement for the efficient administration of this process, both in terms of collecting supplies and managing the monetary fund, there is often one or more person(s) who holds much more power and control than is permissible in a truly equal society.

2) The fascist model

This model is more prominent in environments where a clear hierarchy of status has been formed. The Alpha-person, or 'the boss', will never be required to participate in the tea-making, but is able to fully benefit from it.

The mid-tier individual will sometimes complete a round for his/her seniors and contemporaries, but will rarely 'brew up' for those seen as beneath them in the social stratosphere.

In this system, what will commonly happen is that persons of lower social significance (such as work placement students and idiots) will be delegated total responsibility for all tea-making activity:

This tea making labour force will be held completely accountable and usually chastised heavily should there be a lack of adequate brewing. Typical mockery of such a person is likely to take the following form:

"Get a move on Kevin; we're dying of thirst over here!"

A potential problem inherent in this system is the threat of social uprising. The ill-treated tea-making labour force may rebel and begin to introduce bodily fluids to the mugs of their brutal tea guzzling overlords.

3) The Capitalist Model

The capitalist model of tea-making is perhaps the most prevalent in British society. Tea making is undertaken by the individual, for the individual. Those with the necessary means will generally benefit from a superior cuppa, will drink from a superior mug and will brew up using superior ingredients and equipment:

Those with no means will either go without completely or be consigned to a life of drinking piss-weak tea made with UHT or powdered milk.

These poor people will eye the superior brew with ever increasing envy and may one day rise up and shoplift supplies from Waitrose.

4) The non-conformist model.

This system usually applies to informal groups where the socialist model is too rigid, the fascist model is not applicable (due to supposed equality of status) and the capitalist model would rupture the solidarity of the group.

In the non-conformist model, tea making duties generally arise from an individual's failure to win a pre-determined competitive event:

i.e. Dave was unable to balance a pen on the bridge of his nose for 20 seconds. "Aaah, you're shit! Get the brews on"

Alternatively, subtle mind games are played amongst group members, with any faux-pas punishable by a requirement to put the brews on:

TONY: "Dave, what's that thing called that you put a golf ball on?

DAVE: "Err? A tee?"

TONY: "Yes thanks mate; I'll have two sugars in mine!"

Ultimately, the non-conformist model can only work in well established and informal groups. It is not a viable solution in a official and formal environment at all, as seen here:

TONY:" Dave, what's that thing called that you put a golf ball on?

SUPREME CHANCELLOR DAVE: "Err? A tee?"

TONY: "Yes thanks mate; I'll have two sugars in mine!"

SUPREME CHANCELLOR DAVE: "No you won't. In fact, you're fired with immediate effect. And stop calling me Dave"

The all important form

The first thing to consider in the preparation of a good cuppa is the tea-bag itself. Technically, a proper brew comes from a variety of 'blended tea' known as 'English Breakfast tea'. This is a tea-bag that contains several different varieties of black tea-leaf.

Common commercial makes of English Breakfast tea bag that would be acceptable for use in a 'brew' include:

• PG Tips
• Tetleys
• Yorkshire Tea
The bags themselves have evolved significantly in the last few years. Up until fairly recently, tea bags were generally flat and square and needed to be left to stew for a good while before the bag had fully done its work.

More recently though, circular bags came to prominence. Still flat, but somehow able to infuse boiling water with the power of the brew in a shorter time.

The most recent variation is the truly inspiring PG Tips pyramid bag. This three dimensional wonder possesses the greatest powers of infusion currently available from a tea bag and makes for one hell of a flavoursome brew.

I would now like to propose and patent my own invention. The
dodeca-t-bag (c) 2011 :

$r_u = \frac{\sqrt{3}}{2} \phi \, a$
$r_i = \frac{\phi^2}{2 \sqrt{3-\phi}} \, a \,\!$
$r_m = \frac{\phi^2}{2} a$

Utilising the unique properties of a twelve sided, pentagon faceted dodecahedron, this creation would ensure the finest brew known to man and would mark the pinnacle of the modern tea-bag. I may be getting carried away, but its realisation would only be equalled by the discovery of an infinitely renewable supply of energy for mankind. Remember, you heard it here first - dodeca-t-bag (c) 2011.

Following the selection of an adequate bag, there are three questions that must be posed before continuing with the preparation of any brew:

1) How many sugars?
2) Milk?

3) How strong do you have it?

Once this information has been gathered, the brew making may commence.

How do you take it?

Any good brew will fall into one of four categories once prepared:

All colour charts courtesy of mycuppatea

A)

The 'Classic British' is your most common kind of brew. Medium level infusion governed by a short brewing span. A modest amount of milk. Sugar optional.

B)

The 'Milky Tea' is similar to the 'Classic British. Again, mid-level infusion, short brewing time, but in this case, a good amount of milk to give it a paler complexion and a slightly creamier consistency. Once again, sugar is optional.

C)

'Just tea' or 'naked tea', is nothing more than a tea bag and water. Some may opt for sugar to sweeten the taste, but a true 'naked tea' would be bereft of all additional elements beyond the tea and the water. This type of tea brewing is the most common, globally speaking.

D)

The 'builders brew' or 'builders tea' is not just a brew - it is arguably THE BREW. It takes all the elements required to make a nice cup of tea, and "turns them up to 11":

Tea Bag - Maximum infusion. Often left to stew until the bag becomes so dense it collapses in on itself and causes a supernova.

Milk - Present, but requiring an electron-microscope to be detected.

Sugar - Enough to bankrupt Willy Wonka.

It is a popular theory that unlike the other types of brew, 'builders brews' are not made in the traditional way, but are actually mined directly from the Earth and extracted in full form, ready for consumption. Well, either that or sourced from 'Sheila's Greasy Spoon'.

The final great debate of brew making is one, I suspect, that will never be conclusively won:

How do you make a brew?

Opinions are varied here, but I believe that the following is the best method:

1. Tea bag and sugar added to cup