Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Mandible War

For many years, the nation of Chequerfield (pop.1) had been a great and untroubled part of the world. Neighbouring nations were of a friendly sort, regularly offering up gifts such as free gardening equipment, advice on weed killing methods and cake.

For two whole years, peace reigned throughout the land (with the sole exceptions of the faulty smoke alarm incident and a mysterious, involuntary shattering of a window pane).

In 2011 though, a dark cloud passed over this peaceful place, and the shadow of war lurked over the horizon. Little did the residents (err, resident) realise the horrors that would soon unfold as........

......Pause for dramatic effect.....


The following is the account of the campaign fought by the Allied force (of me) against the merciless hordes of carpenter ants.

Summer 2011 - Border disputes

The first appearance of 'Charlie' went largely unnoticed. Occasional incursions from lone insurgents provoked little response from the Allied force. This was the first mistake. These seemingly random encounters were in actual fact, recon scouting missions by the Ants' front line grunts. The purpose - to establish a blueprint of the environment and to provide vital intel for Ant high command.

In retrospect, a display of force from the allies at this point may have put and end to the Ants' war campaign before it could even begin. Instead a treaty was proposed which would place heavy sanctions on the Ants should it be broken.

Unfortunately and predictably, the Ants did not send a representative to the treaty talks, further signalling their hostile intentions.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 0

Spring 2012 - Increased enemy activity

Following a mild winter, it was clear that the ants were starting to up the tempo of their campaign. Scouting missions became more frequent, involving up to three ants per incursion. This blatant disregard for sovereign borders had proven once and for all that the ants were readying for an imminent, full scale attack.

With few alternatives left on the table, the Allied force launched a preemptive counter strike on one of the scouting parties. The employment of the light artillery device known colloquially as 'the slipper' was used to literally crush the invaders.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 3

Early Summer 2012 - Short term armistice

Following the Allied 'slipper' strike and a prolonged period of unseasonably cold and wet weather, the Ants had gone into full retreat. No recon parties had been spotted for weeks. However, this lull in activity would prove to be the calm before the storm.

Allied casualties - 0 
Ant casualties - 3

Mid July 2012 - Military Production line

Unbeknownst to the Allied force, the Ants were now amassing in huge numbers right on the borderline of Chequerfield. With localised temperatures now increasing, the ant producing machine known as 'The Queen' ( or Allied target priority no1 - 'the Ace of Spades') was busy spawning an unassailably large army.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 3

22nd July 2012 - The Invasion and Allied retreat

Upon returning to Chequerfield following a brief international tour to the Republic of Willenhall, the Allied Force was horrified to find the Ant invasion had begun in earnest.

Two distinct entry points had been established and lines of Ant soldiers were now fortifying their positions along several metres of coaxial TV cable (no doubt they were trying to cut off the Allies communication with the outside world).

Shocked by the sneak attack, the Allied force had little provision for defence and were forced to use a substandard and largely untested biological weapon known as 'lynx deodorant' to deter the invaders.

Despite laying a handful of the invaders to waste, the deodorant attack proved to be thoroughly useless and only resulted in increasing the intensity of the attacking horde.

At this time, the Allies chose to fall back to the sanctuary of the as yet untouched land known as the 'bedroom' to utilise online resources in the hope of finding a suitable defence strategy.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties -35

23rd July 2012 - AM - Defensive strategy

Economic pressures (work) forced the Allied force to leave Chequerfield largely unguarded for the day, but gave a suitable opportunity for consultation with veterans of similar campaigns. A range of advice from military experts yielded some potential strategies
  1. Operation Glass Cleaner
  2. Operation cucumber peel
  3. Operation Vacuum
Taking all advice under due consideration, the Allied force opted to implement a combination of strategies 1 and 3.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties -35

23rd July 2012 - Evening - 1st Allied attack

Allied forces returned to Chequerfield to find that formerly neutral 'bedroom' was now under attack, but with a strategy in place, the Ants were about to get a swift and uncompromising reply.

In a sustained and heavy bombardment, the ant's entry points and main transport corridors were coated in vinegar based glass cleaner/ green napalm. Instant death greeted dozens of Ant soldiers.

This was followed swiftly by the emergence of the allied force's antiquated heavy artillery, a.k.a 'the ASDA brand bagless vacuum'.

However, clogged filters had left the artillery with little more suction power than would be required to ingest a grain of sand and the vacuum attack proved impotent, as the Ants merely lapped up the cooling breeze being provided by the failing machinery.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties -84

24th July 2012 - Airborne assault

The previous night's napalm (Mr Muscle glass cleaner) strike and follow up vac-attack had done nothing to halt the ant's campaign of terror.

To increase the desperation of the Allies, the Ants had now chosen to unleash their latest line of weaponry, the flying Ant soldier.
This airborne nightmare meant that the ants were now capable of encroaching in every region of Chequerfield, including the kitchen fortress, which had until this point had been untouched, despite the rich economic bounty (sugary stuff) that lay within near reach of the Ants' grasp.

Further glass cleaner napalm strikes followed in the evening, killing scores of Ants. A new disposable light artillery device known as 'the Wolverhampton Chronicle' was put into combat duty to deal with the more widely dispersed flying ants - a tactic which while moderately successful, unfortunately resulted in a photograph of a local politician and some school children being inadvertently smeared in ant corpses (Apologies to Councillor Mattu & the Yr5 students of Uplands Primary).

Yet still they came.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 185

24th July 2012 - Late Evening - The mercenary

In an act of sheer desperation, the Allied force sought to employ the services of a local special forces mercenary, known as Arachnia, codename: The Spider.

The Spider was reputed for her skills in battling ants, using a combination of imposing natural weaponry and stealth. In the dead of night, Arachnia was repositioned from her 'bathroom' hideout into the middle of the Ant's front line fortress. The ants wouldn't know what hit them....or so the Allies thought. 

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 185

25th July 2012 - 03:00hrs - The Dream

Perhaps haunted by the deaths of so many of the enemy, the Allied force experienced lucid dreams involving being carried on the backs of giant worker Ants into the heart of their colony to be executed without trial and ultimately fed to their bloated, ghastly queen.

Clearly,  the ants were starting to win the psychological battle.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 185

25th July 2012 Afternoon - Increased Military Spending

Following a fitful night's sleep , the Allied Forces were beginning to wain under the stress of the ongoing combat.

The hired mercenary, Arachnia, was no where to be seen, either as a result of being overwhelmed by ant forces, or simply because a more appealing assignment was presented to her.

Clearly though, the weaponry being employed was not sufficient to win this war. Without question, the tide needed to turn soon or the risk of defeat would be imminent.

With such a potentially fateful outcome approaching fast, the Allied Force made a decision which would prove to be the turning point in the war.  They would increase their spending on military equipment, even at the risk of incurring huge national debts that could result in a long period of austerity for the resident of Chequerfield.

Credit request in hand (MBNA Platinum Card), the Allied Force marched beyond the borders of Chequerfield to seek the expertise of military hardware specialists, 'Homebase'.

'Homebase' provided the Allied Force with an experimental biological weapon known as 'AntStop: Baitstation'.

This cutting edge device was heralded as a weapon so efficient, that it would completely eliminate the enemy threat. It is designed to provide with the ants with a irresistible treat within its container that it in reality is a slow acting poison. The unwitting Ants would supposedly take this tainted treat back to their troops and leaders who would consume it and subsequently 'bite the big one' within days.

For most military organisations this weapon would have been enough to continue the war with some optimism, but not for the Allied Force of Chequerfield. Further armament was sought from a neighbouring arms dealer known as Apollo 2000.
Apollo 2000's chosen military arms advisor was identified as Jane (45). Jane was an expert in the mechanics of the heavy artillery vacuum device and gave the top brass a full schooling in some cutting edge tech. The Miele 'Cat and Dog' was described as being the absolute pinnacle of vacuum technology, providing 1900wts of power (or put another way, enough 'uummph' to suck the beard off a Viking Chieftain's face).Unfortunately, the excessive price tag put this off of reach of the humble military budget available to the nation of Chequerfield.

All was not in vain though, as the Allies settled on the purchase of a reliable and suitably powerful piece of military hardware known as the Electrolux AEG ultrasilencer.

The key benefits of this choice were as follows
  • High power output - 1800wts
  • Versatility - multiple vacuum nozzle attachments
  • Stealth - The 'ultrasilencer' gets its name from its economic sound output range of 68-80 decibels.
With this overhaul of military equipment, the Allied Force returned to Chequerfield with new found hope.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 185

25th July 2012 - Evening - Allied Might

On returning once more to the war-zone, the Ants, perhaps sensing an inevitable victory, had chosen to mass in a single location. Clearly drunk with power and having taken an uncharacteristically amateur combat manoeuvre, the Ants had unwittingly placed themselves in a tactically compromised position and were ripe for total annihilation at the hands of the Allies' newly acquired high grade military hardware.

In their first offensive move for nearly 24 hours, the ANTSTOP: Baitstation was place directly in front of their main position. This would be the final solution, but would not have an instant effect.

The time was right for a non combat first test of the Electrolux AEG Ultrasilencer. The Allies chose to use the device for a environmentally sound dust removal experiment. To say that the results were impressive would have been an understatement.

On its minimum power setting, the Ultrasilencer nearly pulled the carpets from the floor of the Chequerfield bedroom. On its maximium power setting, it would have set off nearby car alarms if the power hadn't have been hastily pulled. The device was now green lit for combat exercise.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties - 185

25th July 2012 - Late Evening - Nuclear Strike

With the Ultrasilencer now assembled to military grade capability (open hose - all cleaning nozzles removed), the time for an assault of unprecedented aggression was right.

The Ultrasilencer was repositioned to the site of the swollen troops of the unwitting ants. The allies watched them briefly, somewhat saddened in the knowledge that despite their unprovoked act of war, they would soon encounter the unparallelled might of human aggression, born in the form of a whirling cyclone of death and destruction.

Switch on. Power setting - MAXIMUM.

Time slowed. The vacuum's innards whirred into life and the hose was manoeuvred over the Ant horde.

An intense burst of power exploded from the nozzle with all the 1800wts of  energy that the device was capable of producing, and in an instant hundreds of Ants were heading directly to that giant sugar pile in the sky. Flying ants, soldiers, workers, random bits of dust and loose carpet filaments were all stripped from the earth in a tornado of relentless carnage.

Then I went and put a brew on.

Allied casualties - 0
Ant casualties -1327

 26th July 2012 and beyond - The Aftermath: "I love the smell of ant powder in the morning"

On waking the resident of Chequerfield found a handful of disorientated Ants wandering the scorched site of the previous night's carnage. It was unclear as to whether the Ace of Spades herself (The Queen Ant) had been eliminated in the devastation, but the sheer numbers of the fallen suggested so.

The Baitstation remained in location, and some of the remaining Ants were observed to be entering and leaving it, suggesting it would be an effective longer term measure. Further low intensity Ultrasilencer strikes have been used to eradicate stray ants, but the maximum setting has not been used again, and unilateral disarmament (sticking it back in the cupboard) has been considered by the Allies.

Nevertheless, the Allied Force went on to toast their victory, but whether it would herald the true end of the Mandible War would only be revealed with the passing of time.

Final Casualties:

Allied Force - 0
Ants - 1352


To all the souls taken in the great Mandible War of July 2012, we salute you. Your sacrifice reminds us of the true cost of war (but please, for f*cks sake, stay in the effing garden next time).

Thursday, 24 May 2012


The following log is intended for inclusion in the British medical journal, in the hope that future professors of dihydrotestosterone induced facial hair growth can benefit from the contents therein:


Patient: Steven James Cartwright
Gender: Male
Age: 31
Blood Group: B Negative

Symptoms: Unkempt appearance, severe wispiness, slight ginger tones, observable food particles (possibly Wotsits):

Diagnosis: Confirmed case of untidy-bearditis

Prognosis: If untreated, the symptoms will persist and may result in a prolonged presence of nesting sparrows and/or a possible call up to ZZ-Top.

Proposed Treatment: The patient is deemed to be a suitable candidate for a beardosectomy


The beardosectomy is a complex surgical procedure involving 3 distinct phases of operation:
  1. The Lemmy/Easy Rider
  2. The Magnum P.I
  3. The Hitler/Chaplin
The patient does not require the administering of a general anaesthetic for the procedure, but the infected area will need to be moistened and covered in a cooling foam or gel in order to achieve safe removal of the beard.

Each phase must be undertaken in the exact chronological order detailed above. Depending on the methods undertaken, observable 'sub-phases' may also be necessary. This should not cause concern, as any sub-phase is merely to be considered as a safe part of the transition between the three major surgical phases.


A successful and unproblematic beardosectomy begins with the organised arrangement of the key surgical tools:

In chronological order of use:

Gillette Thermal Scrub (5).

This solution increases in temperature when applied to skin, which provides a surface heat sufficient to relax stubborn facial hair follicles

Instant hydration moisturiser (4)

Following the application of the thermal scrub, instant hydration moisturiser continues to soften the surrounding area in preparation for the removal process

Precision clippers (2)

A quick but thorough usage of the precision clippers is recommended to eliminate some of the top beard layer, which can often be particularly coarse and difficult to remove with the primary surgical tool - the razor.

Gillette Shaving Foam (7)

Shaving foam (or gel) is the second most important tool of the beardosectomy. An even application across the infected area provides a barrier for the skin which allows the razor to do its work safely and with optimum efficiency.

The Razor Blade (3)

The razor blade is the primary surgical tool involved in the beardosectomy. The choice of a suitable implement can make all the difference between the completion of a safe and successful operation and an unsuccesful and painful one. It should be emphasised that the selection of a sub-standard (cheap corner shop shite) blade, or well used (blunt & rusty shite) blade may result in severe side effects such as blotchiness, nicks and cuts, chafed neck and any number of other irritated skin conditions.

For the purpose of this procedure, the surgeon will be using a Gillette Fusion Power shaver with an un-used detachable fusion power blade attachment. Notable features of this device include:
  • 5 tightly grouped titanium blades, each capable of circumcising a flea.
  • An additional precision titantium blade - rumoured to be able to tear through the very fabric of space-time.
  • A vibration control switch (powered by 1 x Duracell AAA battery). The enablement of this feature allows the surgeon not only to remove the beard, but also gives them enough precision to write the works of shakespeare into the patient's chin if they so wish.
  • An on-board microchip to monitor power usage. This will at some point inevitably result in human decisions being removed from strategic shaving defence. At such a point, the shaver will begin to learn at a geometric rate and will become self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, we will try to pull out the Duracell AAA battery, but the Gillette Fusion Power Shaver will fight back.
Nivea for Men Sensitive Moisturiser (1)

 Following the successful beardosectomy, the irritated skin should be fully coated in a cooling post-shave moisturiser in order to soothe the surgical area and conclude the operation with a 'smooth as a babies arse' texture.


To begin, the surrounding facial hair was removed to ensure a sterile, clearly visible beard frame in which the surgeon could safely operate:

 The surgeon then proceeded immediately to move the patient into phase 1 (the lemmy/easy rider) prep. This step involves the removal of the lower part of the beard:

The resulting entry into phase 1 left the patient in a heightened state of ROCK!!

Sensing a potential risk of 'rock out', the surgeon acted quickly to undertake a sub-phase with the aim of ensuring a safe transition to phase 2. This previously untested phase of the operation has been christened as the Hulk Hogan sub-phase:

Unfortunately, this sub-phase did little to relax the patient into a suitable state for phase 2, and merely resulted in further agitation, during which the patient continuously repreated the phrase "and I'll tell you something else, Mean Gene!".

Drastic action was required to ensure that the patient resumed more civilised conduct. The surgeon consulted the existing beardosectomy handbook and opted to experiment with the controversial 'victorian gentleman' sub phase:

This sub-phase proved to be the correct step for the surgeon. The patient was sufficiently calmed and started to repeatedly murmur the phrases "jolly good, old chap", "hear, hear" and "anyone for a spot of croquet?".

At this point though distaster struck, as it became clear that a minor slip of the Gillette Fusion Power razor attachment had occured, which resulted in a potentially life-threatening shaving cut:

Working tirelessly, the dedicated team of surgeons used their skilled hands to stem the massive blood loss by using a tried and trusted technique known as 'blotting the bastard with bog roll'. This proved adequate to stop the bleed and prevent the need for a transfusion.

With the shaving cut attended, and the patient's mood now stable, phase 2 (the Magnum P.I) was completed quickly and with no further complications:

With the operation nearing completion, the surgeons began work on the final stage, phase 3 (the Hitler/Chaplin). The results of this phase can often be volatile, with the patient sometimes experiencing bouts of charming tomfoolery (the Chaplin) or alternatively, a disturbing display of fascist dictatorship tendency syndrome (FDTS aka the Hitler). During this phase, the surgeons were unclear as to which phase 3 outcome was presented by the patient. We have opted to allow the readers of this British Medical Journal entry to determine for themselves:

With the patient having undergone this traumatic operation for nearly 15 minutes, the procedure required a speedy conclusion. Fortunately, the steady nerves of those in attendance were able to wrap up proceedings with a tidy and efficient final piece of surgery:

With the cooling post shave moisturiser applied liberally and the beardosectomy procedure proving to be a complete success, the patient has since entered into full recovery and has donated several pounds to the campaign for beard awareness. He has however stated that he can't be confident that  his face furniture won't return someday soon .

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Operation Get Steamed: Mission Overview

Despite heavy casualties and an outbreak of post traumatic lightweight syndrome (PTLS), the recent completion of Operation 'Dry Roasted', and the unscheduled follow up; Operation 'Exceedingly Good Friday', has led O.A.P (Occasional Afternoon Pisshead) command to declare that West Wolverhampton has now been totally conquered. Congratulations, soldiers, you've done your country proud.

However, a soldier's work is never done as they say, and the top brass has now set a new target for invasion - The Severn Valley.

This mission will test our troops to their very limits as the planned assault will take place over a wide ranging terrain, occupied by suspicious country hicks, slightly inbred looking locals and a diverse mix of real ale hostelries.

Due to the distances involved in this mission, tackling the proposed route will involve the use of the rail network - known locally as the Severn Valley Railway. The steam powered locomotives will be transporting troops to three distinct destinations, before finally arriving in the stronghold fortress known as Bridgenorth. Due to the heavy reliance on this antiquated rail system, the mission has been christened Operation 'Get Steamed'

Mission parameters are as per usual - navigate the designated route, incorporating a brief skirmish in every selected incursion zone and make it to the ex-filtration point in one piece. Failure is not an option.

As ever, your mission command will be as follows:

Maj. S.Cartwright - Callsign: 'The Beard'

 Maj. R.Bladon- Callsign: 'The Blade'

Maj. J.Hickens - Callsign: 'Chest-night'

Maj. J.McFarland - Callsign: 'Boat-man'

Maj. P.Dutton - Callsign: 'the Metal'

In addition, an effective recruitment drive has now led to a surge in new O.A.P officers, who will shortly be joining the esteemed ranks of the OAP senior command. New officers include:
    1. Cpt L.Dutton - Callsign: 'The JagerBomber'
    2. Cpt K.Stoten - Callsign 'Cupcake'
    3. Cpt C.Sambrook - Callsign 'Safehands'
      The ranks of the OAPs have been further swelled by a large intake of one mission grunts. Truly the military might of the OAPs is more fearsome than ever before

    The Route


    Aerial Flyover (plugin required)

    Checkpoint list:

    Further intel on checkpoints 1-9 can be obtained here:

    View Operation Get Steamed in a larger map
    1. The Red Lion Bewdley
    2. The Harbour Inn
    3. The Ship Inn
    4. The Railwayman's Arms
    5. The Old Castle
    6. The White Lion
    7. The Black Boy Inn
    8. The Black Horse
    9. The Vine
    Rations detail -  Many of the checkpoints offer a fine range of local cuisine, but the delicacies found at checkpoint 3 appear to stand out from the rest in terms of quality and unit cost per troop member.

    Unlike previous missions, due to the heavy reliance of vehicular transportation, timing will be all important while traversing the first 4 checkpoints. Although some slippage should be expected due to effects ranging from extensive banter, quiz machine lock in and SDS (slow drinking syndrome), failure to adhere to the mission schedule would result in extensive periods of walking up hills, beer fatigue and probable bouts of vomiting. As such OAP command has issued the following timetable:

    As the proposed 16 skirmish onslaught involved in Operation Dry Roasted, proved to be logistically unsound, mission command has scaled back operations to an optimum engagement quota, hence the new checkpoint total of 9. Nevertheless, the distance to be covered, coupled with the fact that the relative safety of Fortress Wolverhampton will be unreachable during the mission will make Operation Get Steamed a potentially deadly undertaking. In addition, the wide variety of transportation methods required to ensure the success of this mission and the necessity to interact with local civilians will surely test the wits of our troops to their very limits.

    Have no doubt about it. We're gonna be going dark on this one. We're gonna be deep in the heart of Charlie's stronghold and if the shit hits the fan, we're going to need to be goddamn prepared for anything!

    • No of Checkpoints - 9
    • Total Mission Distance - 17.2miles
    • Average Distance between checkpoints - 1.72miles
    • Maximum Distance between any two checkpoints - 7.32miles (cp3 -cp4)
    • 17.2 mile distance
    • Missing trains
    • Broken down trains
    • Getting thrown off trains
    • Getting hit by trains
    • Falling out of trains
    • Losing train tickets
    • Trains
    • Boatman's bladder
    • COD-eye affliction
    • The beer sniper (continues to be the scourge of the Occasional Afternoon Piss-heads)
    • U.D.I's (Unidentified Drunken Injuries)
    • Disgruntled locals
    • Kidney Failure
    • Crossing roads 
    Finally, at the request of Maj Mcfarland, troops are be equipped with a new technology known as the C-RAIL (Can for the Rail). Our R&D unit in Brinsford has designed the device which is strikingly similar to the already tried and tested C-ROAD (Can for the Road). The C-RAIL is an liquid-incendiary device, akin to a fragmentation grenade. A simple pin located on top of the device will need to be operated via the 'pull technique' (explained below) to activate the device. Please note that once 'live' the C-RAIL may excrete fizzy liquid, which is harmful to those in the immediate vicinity.

    All mission intel is still to be sanctioned by O.A.P command. For validation of mission dates and confirmation of troop participation, please contact Mission HQ

    'Beard' out.