10 May 2021

Bond, James Bond, Tha' Knows

Bond, James Bond, Tha' Knows

When the producers of the James Bond movies were looking to refresh the franchise in 2005 they wanted a grittier, more realistic portrayal of the secret agent. "We very much thought it was time for a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is Bond," said Chief Executive Associate Chief Producer Godfrey Cabbage. "That's very much what we wanted. And after considering a number of options, we very much decided that he should be a Yorkshireman."


Of course, Ian Fleming didn't make Bond a Yorkshireman in his original novels, but then he didn't give him an invisible car and fire him into space either, so there is a precedent for the film series taking liberties with the character. In fact, the decision was very much a reaction to some of the comic-book excesses of earlier movies, as Head Chief Top Associate Managing Executive Producer Godfrey Cabbage explains.

"It was the case, we very much thought, that modern audiences did not want to see the hero infiltrating an enemy stronghold disguised as a crocodile or spazzing around Venice in a hovercraft gondola. A Yorkshire Bond, we very much felt, would not allow himself to get involved in anything so absurd. Ask him to escape down a snow-capped mountain on a cello case and he'd waste no time in telling you where to get off."

However, there were clearly problems with the initial versions of the screenplay. Although the characterisation of Bond's new persona was certainly authentic, there were concerns that it was a little rough around the edges, as this early draft shows.

After knocking out the two sentries with a cricket bat, Bond penetrates the control centre of SPECTRE's underground lair. As he walks into the dimly lit room, a shadowy figure swivels his chair to meet him. He leans forward and the light falls on his face. It is Blofeld. He sits, contemplating Bond as he strokes the white cat on his lap.


How do. The name's Bond, James Bond, licenced t'kill, so think on. What's tha doin' wi that silly moggy? Tha wants to get thesen a ferret, tha knows.


Ah Mr Bond, we meet at last! May I congratulate you on your excellent disguise. A flat cap and a dufflecoat must be difficult for someone of your excellent sartorial sensibilities to countenance.


Aye well, it's reet parky outside. You don't expect me to catch pneumonia, does thee?


No Mr Bond, I expect you to die. But first, let us be civilised. A drink, Mr Bond - I believe you favour vodka martini, shaken not stirred?


Martini be blowed. Get a brew on, I'm spitting feathers here.


Hot burny fire

In the hope of developing a more sophisticated version of Bond, producers turned to Alan Bennett. Hailing from Yorkshire himself, it was felt that Bennett's mastery of idiom and dialogue would provide the franchise with a fully-rounded and believable character.

However, some of Bennett's ideas were questionable. For example, he was keen on creating a new villain, more rooted in real life. Bond's nemesis was to have been called Trevor Hardcastle and would have been the senior revenues officer for Calderdale Borough Council. The following excerpt is from the film's epic denouement, in which Bond finally stands face to face with his archenemy.

Bond, his arms firmly pinioned by two muscular gentlemen, is roughly escorted to Trevor Hardcastle's centre of operations. Mr Hardcastle is sat behind his desk, enjoying a cup of Earl Grey and a fondant fancy. He looks up as Bond enters and delivers an evil smile.

Mr Hardcastle:

Ah Mr Bond, we meet at last. I'm so glad you could find time in your busy schedule to visit me. Although I think that you will come to regret the intrusion. I'm afraid you owe me a debt and I believe that the day of reckoning has finally arrived.


I don't owe thee nowt, Hardcastle. Now tell these fellas to let us go, or I'll chin thee.

Mr Hardcastle:

Oh come now, Mr Bond. Can you have forgotten so quickly? You owe Calderdale Borough Council eight months' worth of council tax. It's no good struggling, there's no escape. We'll go to court and get a liability order if we have to.


You monster! You'll never get away with this! And what have you done with Gloria Chest?

Mr Hardcastle:

Ah, Miss Chest, your glamourous companion. I'm afraid you will never see the beautiful Miss Chest again.


Oh no, you don't mean -

Mr Hardcastle:

Yes, she's working for me in the accounts department.



Mr Hardcastle:

Ha, ha! Now, Mr Bond, sign this direct debit mandate.


Let's not beat about t'bush wi' all this 'direct debit mandate' nonsense. I know what you're really after - you want to take over the world.

Mr Hardcastle:

Take over the world! Good gracious, no. I really couldn't cope with all that bother. So much fuss and nonsense - and think of the admin. Oh no, no, no, I couldn't be doing with that, at all.


Oh no? Then what is it you really want?

Mr Hardcastle:

Well. I wouldn't say no to a slice of fruitcake. And there's many an occasion when I find myself yearning after a chocolate digestive. So, if you could just sign here and Julie will give you a receipt on your way out.

Bennett was confident that Mr Hardcastle could have been a recurring character, and even thought there was potential for him to have a spin off movie of his own. But although there were many things that producers liked about Bennett's take on the franchise, they ultimately decided that something was missing. "We very much agreed that the lack of car chases, stunt sequences and explosions left too great a vacuum," said Associate Head Executive Overlord Chief Executive Producer Executive Godfrey Cabbage. "We thought that the sequence where Bond gets off the bus at the wrong stop was wonderfully tense, very much so, but it wasn't enough to sustain audience interest for the duration of the movie."

Flaming dancer

What the film needed was a script that delivered blistering, fast-moving action sequences, and it became clear that there was only one man for the job. For thirty years the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine had delighted audiences with high-octane thrills and spills as it followed the adventures of three senile old men wandering around the hills and valleys of Yorkshire. Who can forget the classic 'Compo Careers Down a Hill on Tea Tray' episode, the thrilling 'Compo Careers Down a Hill in a Wheelbarrow', or the harrowing 'Nora Batty Gets Shot While Trying to Infiltrate a Secret Underground Missile Installation'.

Writer Roy Clarke was an obvious choice for the job, and he didn't disappoint. He turned in a script in which James Bond and his fellow spies, Foggy and Clegg, convert an old ice cream van into a submarine in order to penetrate a secret SPECTRE base at the bottom of Ogden Reservoir. They destroy it using plastic explosive hidden in Bond's wellies, then escape by surfing to the shore on bits of the wreckage.

Not only was the script replete with action sequences, it also managed the very difficult balancing act of grounding the film in day-to-day life. Take for example this scene, in which several of the spies' wives gather in Mrs Bond's kitchen for a coffee and a natter.

Mrs Tanner:

Where's your James today, then?

Mrs Bond:

Up to no good, I shouldn't wonder. You know what spies are like as soon as you let them out of your sight.

Mrs Leiter:

Ooh, you don't need to tell me. My Felix stops out till all hours, then sneaks home at night, covered in blood and with his trousers riddled with bullet holes. And they think we don't notice!

Mrs Tanner:

I should say so! Well, I've told my Bill that the next time some henchman lunges at him with a knife, he can darn his own shirt. I said to him, you watch the kind of people you're mixing with, I said. One of these days someone is going to get hurt, so you think on.

Mrs Bond:

My James is no different. Always coming home with his clothes torn.

Mrs Leiter:

Aye, well, there's torn and there's torn, isn't there?

Mrs Bond:

Now, just what do you mean by that, Myrtle Leiter?

Mrs Leiter:

Nothing. Only that we've all seen the way your James carries on with that Miss Moneypenny from the launderette. I'm not saying that there's anything improper in it but, well, happen there's no smoke without fire.

With the major obstacles overcome, the film was set to go into production. The movie had a working title, There's Nowt So Dead as Folk, Sean Bean had been cast as the new Bond and the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band were going to do the theme tune. Why the project didn't go ahead is not entirely clear, although it's thought that producers got cold feet.

"We very much feared that the whole movie might turn out to be a bit crap," intimated Top Whack Chief Executive Head Honcho Producer Godfrey Cabbage. So, There's Nowt So Dead as Folk, was shelved and we ended up with Casino Royale instead, although we can at least be grateful that the studio retained the scene where Daniel Craig escapes from Le Chiffre by careering down a hill in a bathtub.


There's Nowt so Dead as Folk


Really obvious list of films


Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

24 February 2021

A New Direction

Drivers Wanted

Why is it that we choose our politicians based on the values and principles that they espouse, rather than on the experience and abilities that they can demonstrate? You wouldn't trust a surgeon to remove your spleen because they really believed that they could do it, even though they'd never held a scalpel. You wouldn't trust an airline pilot who fervently, passionately believed that they could get you to your destination without flying into the side of a mountain, even though they had never sat in a cockpit. What would happen if we hired people to do every job using the same criteria that we use to select the people who govern us?

We find ourselves in a beige meeting room where Mr Wheeler, the depot manager, and Mr Tapper, from HR, are interviewing candidates for the position of train driver. Already this morning they've sat through fifteen carefully rehearsed recitations about having to act under pressure, and an equal number of monologues dealing with what the applicants felt were their greatest weaknesses. Still, Mr Tapper remains upbeat and irritatingly perky. Mr Wheeler, on the other hand, couldn't be any glummer.

Thankfully the final candidate is about to enter. This is him now, knocking at the door. It is Sir Malcolm Buffer, formerly the MP for Bassett South, and one time Minister for Transport.

Please come in and take a seat. Let me see now... it's Malcolm, isn't it? Sorry, Sir Malcolm.

Sir Malcolm:
Yes, yes, that's correct.

Well thank you for coming to see us today. My name is Mr Tapper, I'm head of HR. This gentleman is Mr Wheeler. If you are successful today, Mr Wheeler will be your line manager. This is just an informal chat so that we can get to know you. Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Sir Malcolm:
Certainly, yes. Well, as far as my education goes, I attended Eton, then Cambridge where I studied political science. Worked for my uncle in the city - investments, naturally - but always felt the need to serve my country in some way. Was elected to Parliament, where I served this constituency for twelve years, six of them as a member of the cabinet.

This is really most impressive. I have your CV here and your list of achievements is remarkable, wouldn't you agree, Mr Wheeler?

Mr Wheeler is silent, looking glum and unimpressed.

Well, Sir Malcolm, I expect you want to know a little more about the job. There are a number of aspects to the role, but primarily what we are looking for is someone to drive the mainline commuter express, Monday to Friday including a reduced service on Bank Holidays. So tell me, what first attracted you to the role of train driver?

Sir Malcolm:
Oh, I have always been very interested in trains. In fact, I think I went on one once, when I was younger. Trains are the long ones that run on rails, yes? Yes, thought so. Always loved trains, so when I left politics earlier this year, a career as a train driver seemed to be a natural choice.

Excellent, really excellent.

Tapper smiles at Wheeler. Wheeler scowls and leans forward to ask a question.

Right. So, can you give us some idea of what experience you have had driving locomotives?

Sir Malcolm:
That is an excellent question. Really excellent. I do believe that experience is essential, and that is something I always tried to stress during my time in government. However, it's important to realise that it's not the only consideration. There is no substitute for passion and enthusiasm. These are the qualities that I brought to my parliamentary career, and I am now very keen to put these same qualities at your disposal.

That's marvellous to hear, Sir Malcolm. Really marvellous.

Yes. But, returning to my question, what experience of train driving do you have?

Sir Malcolm:
I think the real question here is do I really believe in trains?

No it isn't. It's what experience of train driving do you have?

Sir Malcolm:
And the answer is yes, I really do passionately believe in trains. Not only are they an important factor is this country's history, but they will be a vital and, dare I say it, exciting part of its future.

I have to say, Sir Malcom, it is refreshing to hear someone speaking like this in this day and age.

Sir Malcolm, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you've never driven a train. Would I be right in that assumption?

Sir Malcolm:
Well, of course, you're free to draw whatever inference you see fit, and I respect your opinion. However, what I will say is this: sometimes we need to break away from tradition and adopt a new approach. It's all very well hiring a train driver to drive a train, but there are times when we need to cast the net a little wider. There is always a place for fresh blood and new ideas. I believe this is what I represent. I believe - I strongly believe - that in order to ensure that the railway industry thrives, we need to take trains in a new direction.

As opposed to the direction determined by the track?

Well, Sir Malcolm, you've certainly given us a great deal to think about. Thank you very much for coming; we'll be in touch in due course.

Sir Malcolm leaves and Tapper shuffles through the application forms in front of him.

Well, I don't think there's any doubt about who is the best candidate for the job.


Oh yes, Sir Malcolm is our man, all right.


You don't agree? I think he has all the qualities we are looking for.

He's never driven a train. He probably doesn't even know which end is which. Now, that bloke we saw second, what was his name? Here we go, Harry Ballast - he's been a train driver for thirty years. Incredibly experienced, blemish-free work record, excellent references.

But no passion. The man had no enthusiasm. Yes, I dare say he could drive a train but he doesn't inspire confidence. Sir Malcolm, on the other hand, really believes in trains. I trust him. I think he's good for trains and I'm happy for the future of our trains to be in his hands.

I disagree. I've worked in this industry all my life. I started out as a train driver, I've managed train drivers and I'm responsible for every train that goes out of my depot, and in my experience - which is considerable - I think the best person for the job of a train driver is someone who knows how to drive a train.

Yes, well I went to Cambridge and I'm head of HR, and ultimately it's my decision. Sir Malcolm is the man for us; Sir Malcolm gets the job. Right, if we're done here I need to make a move. I'm seeing the Duke of Cumberland this afternoon about an exciting new role in the staff canteen. I think we might just have found our Head of Sausages.


Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

13 January 2021

Welcome to Little Mungford

Welcome to Little Mungford

Anyone visiting the small and relatively obscure settlement of Little Mungford is in for a treat. The village boasts many attractions and wonders, including a theme park, museum, waxworks, medieval castle, the Eifel Tower, a valley of pyramids with two sphinxes and the Taj Mahal. Or at least is does according to the village's official website. Intrigued, we found the contact details for Little Mungford's chief tourism officer, Ian Balls, and decided to pay him a visit.

Mr Balls lives in a bungalow at the edge of the village and, if the signs displayed at his property and on the various vehicles parked outside are accurate, his main business is skip hire. He is a man in his fifties, impressively well-balanced for a gentleman of his excessive size. The top of his head is an arid plain on which little has grown for the past twenty years, but he compensates for this with a grey ponytail and a long goatee, this latter feature dripping with gravy as he opens his front door to us. He is part way through devouring a sausage speared on a fork clutched tightly in his pudgy hand, but he is no less welcoming for having his dinner interrupted. In fact, he generously offers us a nibble, which we politely decline.

"There's big money in skips," he tells us as he urges us to take a seat and hands us a beer. He resumes his dinner, but is talented enough to continue speaking whilst simultaneously pushing chips into his face. "Although, a lot of people in the village didn't really approve," he dribbles. "They thought my line of business lowered the tone. They also didn't really like me very much - I wasn't their type, you see. A self-made man, me, not one of those snooty Oxbridge commuter-belt types. So, anyway, I had quite a bit of money to invest so I started buying up property and moving them all out. That's when I hit upon my idea."

Sign to Taj Mahal

Mr Balls' big scheme was to turn Little Mungford into a major tourist attraction. The village, we gather, already had a number of natural features and structures of historical interest to recommend it. Mr Balls invested in a programme of restoration and improvement. He also sought to expand the appeal of the village by purchasing new attractions from around the world, including, as we mentioned earlier, the Taj Mahal. This puzzles us since, as far as we are aware, the Taj Mahal is still in India.

"Well it wasn't easy," Mr Balls acknowledges as he ploughs through a steak and kidney pie like a ripsaw slicing through a tree trunk. "But I know a bloke. If you've got the right contacts and you're prepared to bung 'em a few quid, you can get pretty much anything you want. The one in India is just a copy made out of plasterboard and chicken wire. We've got the real thing here."

He wipes his grease-stained fingers on the tablecloth, reaches into his back pocket and hands us a small damp square of paper. We unfold it gingerly and find it is an illustrated brochure and map of the village, showing the many and varied attractions on offer.

"You can have that. For free," he says with a wink.

"Thanks," we reply with a reasonably convincing show of gratitude. "It says here," we say, after studying it for a moment, "that we can visit the Grand Canyon on the edge of the village."

"A Grand Canyon, not the Grand Canyon," Mr Balls corrects us. He rises and goes to the kitchen, returning moments later with a loaf of bread and a large tub of what appears to be lard. "I did express an interest in the original but moving a canyon presents certain logistical problems. Luckily, Little Mungford already had a canyon of its own."

We express surprise at this. Mr Balls acknowledges our reaction as he tears off a chunk of bread, dips it into the lard and explains.

"Well, I say 'canyon' but then one man's canyon is very much another man's trench. Anyhow, after a couple of day's work with a JCB, I reckon we've got a chasm that can rival anything you're likely to see in Arizona."

There is a sharp rap at the front door and Mr Balls springs to his feet. There is a gleam in his eye that looks very much like lust and the way that his tongue is hanging out is disturbing. "That must be the curry that I ordered," he drools. "Listen, it looks like I may be busy for some time. Why don't you take that map and go and look around the place for yourselves. I guarantee you won't be disappointed."

This seeming like an excellent idea, we leave Mr Balls to deal with his curry - and the four other takeaway deliveries that are standing in line at his front door - and proceed to the centre of the village, where the map tells us that we will find the Eifel Tower. Presumably the one in Paris is just a crude facsimile made out of pipe cleaners and Blu Tack. We can find no trace of it, which is a puzzle since our understanding is that it is really quite big and difficult to miss.

Sign to Giant Monkey

In search of answers, we step into a nearby pub. The place is empty and the bar is unattended. We rap politely on the counter and in response to our call the barman springs forth. To our surprise, he is immediately familiar.

"Mr Balls!"

"Who sir? Me sir? No sir, my name is Jenkins," says the barman. "Sidney Jenkins. Although one or two people have noted that I do seem to share a slight resemblance with Mr Balls."

More than slight, we'd say: the ponytail, the goatee, the sausage roll held securely in his fist, even the fact that his girth means that he is wedged so tightly behind the bar that he is unable to turn round - it all seems to point to Mr Balls. However, we take 'Mr Jenkins' at his word and ask him where the Eifel Tower has got to.

"The Tower sir? Why, it hasn't gone anywhere, sir. There it is sir." He points out of the window. We tell him we can see no sign of it, but he insists and suddenly it dawns on us that he is indicating an electricity pylon. Clearly he's very proud of the structure and we don't want to upset him, so we humour him, 'ooh-ing' and 'ahh-ing' appreciatively.

Aware that time is pressing, we study the map and decide our next visit will be to Great Mungford Falls, which - according to the description we have been given - 'cascade majestically into the sparkling azure pool of Mungford Water'. We check our directions with the barman and, this being nearly lunchtime, our thoughts turn to whether we can get some food to take with us. Sandwiches, perhaps?

"Oh yes, sir. Of course, sir," says the barman. "We do sandwiches, sir. What kind of sandwiches did you have in mind?"

"Ham?" we venture.

"All out of ham sir," the barman says. "But I'm sure we can find something for you?"

"Cheese, maybe?" we ask. "Tuna fish? Beef?"

"Sorry sir, all out?" says the barman. "If only you'd been here earlier."

"How about pork, or even... "

"Actually, I've just remembered, we're all out of sandwiches," the barman says. "All gone. Yum yum."

"A sausage roll, then? Or a pasty?"

"No pasties, sir," says the barman. "And I've just eaten the last of the sausage rolls. I've got a packet of salt and vinegar crisps."

"Well that will have to do," we tell him.

Sign to Pyramids

The barman opens the packet, tips the contents down his throat, scrunches up the bag and throws it over his shoulder. "Sorry sir, all gone."

We tell him not to worry. He isn't worried. He thanks us for our custom, such as it was, and we depart on our way to the Great Falls. The path takes us round the back of a row of semi-detached houses, across some scrubland littered with builders' rubble and though a scraggy copse of rotting trees. Where Mungford Water ought to be, there is a muddy pond surrounded by rusted barbed wire, on which there floats a solitary duck that fixes us with one evil eye and issues a single, contemptuous quack.

There is a fellow lying on the bank with his hat over his eyes, and from the noises he's making he's either snoring or having an asthma attack. We attract his attention and he lazily removes the hat and props himself up on his elbows, revealing himself to be either Mr Balls or somebody else who looks remarkably like him. The noise we had heard had been the sound of him gnawing on a chicken leg.

"How do, my dearies," he says, spitting out a lump of gristle.

"Sorry to disturb you, Mr... Balls?"

"Ah, now then, many folk makes that there mistake, my dearies," he responds. "People do tell as I look remarkably like that there Mr Balls. I couldn't rightly tell you whether they is right or wrong about that, but what I can say is that my name is Isaac Wurzel, so it is."

"Please beg our pardon," we entreat him. "Well, Mr Wurzel, we were - "

"Yes, I is a Wurzel, just like my pa was a Wurzel, and his pa before him, right back to Gascoigne de Wurzel, who came over with William the Conqueror - although people do say as how that was a mistake, and that he only got on the boat because he thought it was a day trip to Boulogne."

"Ah, right. Well, we came to see - "

"Of course, I be a Wurzel on my pa's side. T'other side of my family are Murgatroyds. You ever heard of the Lincolnshire, Murgatroyds? No, neither have I, I don't know why I brought them up. Now, the Murgatroyds was once very big in beetroots. There was a time, not so very long ago, my dearies, when t'other side of the hill was all beetroots right down to the river. Course, it's a shopping centre now. You can get all sorts of stuff there: televisions, carpets, picture frames, packets of fruit gums... You can probably get beetroot, as well. You wanted to ask me something, dearies?"

Sign to Grand Canyon

He suddenly falls silent and it takes us by surprise. We quickly gather our wits and ask him where we can find Mungford Water. We'd found it, he tells us. And the Great Mungford Falls? He points to a trickle of rusty brown water dribbling from a pipe, and we realise with a sigh that we should have expected something like that.

"Course, what you should really be interested in is the monster!" he informs us in a hushed voice. Monster, we ask? "Oh yes, my dearies," he continues. "It lives in the deep dark depths, rising to the surface only occasionally. They've had all sorts of scientific people here, hunting for it, but it's eluded them, so it has. They reckon as how it's some ancient prehistoric beastie."

He suddenly jumps up and points excitedly. "Look! Look! There it is! You're in luck - few people have ever seen it. See how it rises majestically from the waters, the spray cascading from it scaly back, before it crashes back into the foam, and dives down, down, down into the obsidian blackness of its underwater lair."

He is pointing at the duck. We leave him to it. Consulting the map once more we set off to find the Taj Mahal. Mr Balls had assured us that it was the real thing. We didn't believe this for a moment, but we hoped at least that he'd made an effort. We discover that the building is surrounded by a high fence and that we have to pay a small charge for entry. Fumbling in our pockets for change, we approach the ticket booth and find it occupied by a large middle-aged woman with platinum blond hair, long gaudily-coloured earrings and plastered in so much makeup that it appears to form some sort of protective shell. 'She' also has a long goatee beard, is struggling gamely to chomp her way through a giant Toblerone and is clearly Mr Balls in drag.

"I'm not Mr Balls," is the first thing she says to us.

"We never said you were," we reply wearily.

"My name is Patty Grinder, and I'll have you know I'm a respectable woman, so none of your coarse language and nonsense."

We have no idea what nonsense she is referring to and we haven't used any coarse language - although by now our patience is wearing thin and there is every chance that we might let rip at any second. We hold our tongues long enough to purchase our tickets, and are told that they also allow us entry to see the Giant Monkey. We start to ask about the Giant Monkey, realise that there is probably no percentage in it, and silently pass through the turnstile.

The Taj Mahal turns out to be a shed. An actual shed. They haven't even bothered painting it. We turn around, walk straight out and keep going until we reach our car. It's time to call it a day, but Little Mungford does have a final treat for us. On the way out of the village we pass a sign for the Giant Monkey, and since we have the tickets we decide to stop off and have a look. And we're glad that we have, since the Giant Monkey is a twenty-foot high animatronic gorilla that dances whilst performing a surprisingly emotional version of Elvis Presley's 'All Shook Up'. It is easily the most impressive thing we've seen all day and for this reason and this reason only we heartily recommend that you consider paying Little Mungford a visit.

Map of Little Mungford


Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

23 December 2020

Very Disappointing. Avoid.

Because he knows how important it is that the world has access to his opinions, Garth Vazio has invested a great deal of time in posting reviews of pretty much everything online. All his reviews are negative, naturally, because Garth is a fellow of exacting standards and therefore extremely difficult to please...

Shepton Bassett Memorial Gardens

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

Go to Shepton Bassett Memorial Gardens and you will find a big stone obelisk with a plaque attached. And I hope you're a big fan of big stone obelisks, because you'll find precious little else to amuse you. Big stone obelisks do nothing for me, I'm afraid, and neither do flowerbeds and oddly shaped patches of turf. I even failed be amused by the park benches, which is unusual because outdoor seating is something I usually take an inordinately keen interest in. There were some ducks, but they didn't do anything interesting - just sat and looked at me with beady eyes, smug grins all over their smarmy beaks. I suppose if you're really into grass then this is the place for you, but I won't be returning. Very disappointing. Avoid.

500g Pack of Munchy Flakes Breakfast Cereal

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

I was really looking forward to receiving these and when they arrived I couldn't wait to open the parcel. But, oh dear, what a let-down. Let's start with the packaging: drab cardboard with a photo of a bowl of Munchy Flakes on the front. Very imaginative, I don't think! Come on Munchy Flakes, how about making an effort? Perhaps a gatefold front with a cut-out window, or a lenticular 3d image, or, I don't know, a hologram or something?

Never mind, I was sure the real treat would be waiting for me inside the pack. I had to tear open the top to get in - not very clever. What if I wanted to send them back? Anyway, I tipped the contents onto the table in front of me and spread them out, looking for the free gift. Nothing! No little plastic toy, no collector's cards, no stickers - it was just the Munchy Flakes. And they were nothing special either, just cheap knock-off cornflakes. Very disappointing. Avoid.

Dr K Scapula, River Walk Surgery

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

Suspecting that I was suffering from a bad case of repetitive strain injury following a heavy evening writing reviews, I visited my local GP surgery. It had been a while since I last visited my doctor, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. The first shock came when I was told by the grumpy receptionist that, because I didn't have an appointment, I might have to wait for up to ten minutes. Ten minutes! Is this what our health service has come to?

What made it worse was that the waiting room was very poorly equipped. There were no video games, the only TV was showing a programme about washing your hands and when I tried to order a coffee from the receptionist she gave me a very sour look. In the end I was only kept waiting for six minutes, but it was six minutes of sheer hell.

Anyway, eventually I got to see the doctor. She seemed very nice, but clearly she wasn't properly qualified. I told her all about my symptoms and gave her my diagnosis, carefully researched on the internet, and instructed her to write me a prescription for antibiotics, painkillers and, just to be on the safe side, an inhaler. She refused. Can you believe it? I thought the customer was always right. All she did was smile politely, examine my hands and tell me there was nothing to worry about.

So, all in all, it was a completely wasted trip and I came out with nothing. Very disappointing. Avoid.

The Mopey Ricards Maxi-Press 4000 Steam Iron

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

I'm quite a gadget buff and I had high hopes for this item, having read some of the previous reviews. But guess what - it really doesn't live up to the hype. Granted, the Maxi-Press 4000 makes a decent enough job of flattening clothes but that's all it does. It can't handle mowing the lawn, it makes a right hash of toasting bread and you can't get the internet on it. Hardly 'a fantastic little stream iron that helps make your daily chores a joy' as one reviewer wrote. Very disappointing. Avoid.

Geoff Pickles: My Story, The Autobiography

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

I've been a big fan of Geoff Pickles for many years. I have all his records, seen every film he's made and was lucky enough to watch him score three goals for Arsenal when they played Sheffield Wednesday in the 1989 quarter finals. I even met the great man in person, in a chip shop in Bolton in 2002, and still have the scar from when he threw a chair at me and told me to piss off. Gets a bit touchy when you try to pinch his chips, does Geoff, but we love him all the same.

Anyhow, it was inevitable that I would rush out and get this book as soon as it was published, but oh dear - just because people are writing about themselves, is it really any reason to be so self-obsessed? Geoff just goes on and on about stuff that he did and stuff that happened to him: in 1978 I did this, then in 1982 I did that, in 1988 this happened to me, then in 1996 someone gave me an award for doing this that and the other. Give it a rest mate! Couldn't we have a few car chases, a bit of intrigue, maybe a daring escape from a perilous situation? I gather he is currently writing a second volume covering the last twenty years. Well, I hope he bucks his ideas up and makes his life story a bit more exciting, that's all I can say. Very disappointing. Avoid.


Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

Gravity is one of the four fundamental forces of nature and has been with us since the beginning of the universe. Now, I'm as keen as the next reviewer to respect tradition, but I do think there is a case to be made for modernisation. And, as we all know, gravity if far from perfect. Sure, it's great for keeping things on the ground. I for one certainly wouldn't want to go floating off into space, but then the same force that keeps me rooted to the spot is also responsible for making things fall off the top of my wardrobe. Surely with all the modern technology at our disposal we could have gravity that was a little more discriminating? So, sorry, but it's a big thumbs down for gravity. Very disappointing, avoid.

The Merchant of Venice, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

Nice ice cream, but the scoops are very, very small and two scoops in a pot for £3.75 is expensive. Scoops need to be bigger. Very disappointing, avoid.

The River Bassett, Herbickshire

Reviewed by Garth Vazio

Stars 1 ½ Stars

Well, what you get here, of course, is your standard river - not too big, not too small. Personally I found it a little too wet - I know some people like that in a river but I don't think I'm being unreasonable if I say that, in this day and age, we should be offered a choice about how wet or dry we want our rivers to be. I mean, this isn't the dark ages!

The River Bassett has some nice meanders, there's the odd bridge to lighten the mood but the local fish are very unhelpful and standoffish. In conclusion, very disappointing. Avoid.

...But Garth has recently had something of a shock. He has discovered that he himself is the subject of numerous reviews, and has been alarmed to read some less than glowing comments about his petty and unfounded criticisms, his lack of knowledge of his subject matter and his misplaced and moronic verdicts...

Garth Vazio, Reviewer

Reviewed by Peter Shepherd

Stars 1 ½ Stars

I've been a keen follower of Garth's reviews for some time now. In an age when we all need a little help to decide what we really feel about stuff, Garth's pithy unsolicited views about everything and anything give us a welcome respite from the demanding business of having to form our own opinions. Additionally, the fact that he is overwhelmingly negative about everything is both comforting and reassuring.

However, I have noticed that some of Garth's recent reviews have lost their edge. Gone is the sharp wit and spikey commentary and instead we get the same familiar, plodding parade of regurgitated clichés. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid Mr Vazio just doesn't do it for me anymore. Disappointing, avoid.

...Garth currently has an average rating of 'Poor', the same score as a mini golf course in Norfolk.


Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

22 December 2020

The Yeovil Centre for Sharp Practice


The Yeovil Centre for Sharp Practice

That great industrialist Henry Ford once said that no one could ever hope to succeed in business without the right qualifications. In fact, he said no such thing, but falsely attributing made-up quotations to notable business leaders can help you to carve out a successful career path and is, incidentally, just one of the many courses we offer here at Yeovil.

It is most certainly the case that employers seek and reward skills, experience and accomplishment, and by exhibiting these qualities you can climb the corporate ladder. But getting to the top is a lengthy process and takes a great deal of hard work. Demonstrating that you have the aptitude and ability is the long way round - far better to have a certificate which says, quite clearly, in black and white, that you've got what it takes. Why spend years persuading your employer that you are reliable and capable when you could have a recognised qualification in Reliability and Capability that will fast-track you straight to the boardroom?

And that's where we can help.

Here at the Yeovil Centre for Sharp Practice, we offer a complete range of courses tailored to the requirements of today's budding managers, executives and high-performing deal-makers. Concerned that you don't have the academic aptitude to complete the course? There's no need to worry. If you're paying for a certificate, we don't expect you to have to earn it. As long as all fees have been settled, then a pass is guaranteed. If you do find that you're struggling, have a quiet word with one of our highly trained team of cashiers and we're sure we'll be able to sort something out.

These are just some of the most popular courses available for the current academic year.

Modules LM301-303

Levels 1-3 Infiltration and Entrenchment

This course shows you how to guarantee job security by becoming an irreplaceable member of the team. In Level 1, we teach you how to ensure that you are the only person with the passwords for social media accounts and essential corporate software. We also explore techniques to monopolise lines of communication between major suppliers, customers and other key contacts.

Level 2 deals with the development of complex systems and processes that only you will be able to understand, making it impossible for any other member of staff to effectively operate in these areas, and ensuring that all decisions and requests must be referred to you.

Level 3 takes you into the area of advanced blackmail techniques. We show you how you can obtain sensitive and embarrassing information about senior members of the company, and how best you can leverage this intelligence to advance your interests.

Module LQ105

Legal Compliance

All companies, large or small, have certain legal obligations that must be met. These are many, varied and often complex, and it is difficult for one individual to maintain a comprehensive understanding. However, the key to successfully manipulating a company's legal obligations is realising that you don't have to know everything - you only have to know, or appear to know, more than anybody else.

In this course you will learn to quote the names of a number of intimidating regulations and statutes, and bluff your way through their major implications without anyone suspecting that you haven't got a clue what you're talking about. Many graduates who successfully completed this course have gone on to land cushy jobs such as 'Equality Lead', 'Head of Environmental Compliance' and 'Wellbeing Officer' on the strength of misinterpreting and misrepresenting the requirements of various Acts of Parliament.

Module LQ130

Social Media and Digital Marketing

Social media has become a major factor in building corporate identity, and it offers a unique advancement opportunity for employees. We show you how to use your personal social media to wheedle your way into your boss's' good books by adopting the company branding, endorsing all its self-congratulatory posts and gushing unrelentingly about what a wonderful organisation it is to work for. You will learn how to post messages about 'how great it was to meet so-and-so' or 'how wonderful it was to attend such-and-such a meeting' without sounding like you're being sarcastic. By the end of this course you will understand exactly what it takes to give the impression that you are on message, and be able to effectively utilise your social media presence to brown-nose your way to the top.

Module L010

Effective Management

There are two schools of thought when it comes to management. The first is that it is necessary for a manager to be able to do the jobs of all the people they manage, or at least to have enough of an understanding to recognise the requirements and challenges. The second is that it isn't. We very much subscribe to this second line of thought.

Indeed, having no understanding of the work and responsibilities of employees being managed is key to our approach. We believe that the real skill of management lies in being able to allow other people to shoulder the burden when things are going well, and for those same people to take the blame when it goes wrong. In this course we show you how to ensure that you remain strictly hands-off, remaining visible and available when you aren't actually required, but able to recognise when the shit is about to hit the fan so that you can make yourself scarce when you need to.

Module L095

Basic Business Communication

If we were to say that this course will help you to modify your output expectations through the prism of a person-focussed approach to phased individualisation vectors, would you know what we meant? We guarantee that after completing this course, you still won't know what it means, but you will find it far less intimidating.

Becoming fluent in business speak is really about mastering the art of obfuscation. It's a sleight of hand technique where the quickness of the tongue deceives the mind of the listener. If you were to report that you had failed to meet your monthly targets, you are inevitably creating an unfavourable impression. However, if you were to report that a programme of systematic assessment had determined that due to an unforeseen combination of market, environmental and regulatory factors, the accomplishment threshold had been fixed at a level in excess of the maximum real-world achievement plateau, then everyone would be so glad by the time you reached the end of the sentence that they would completely fail to notice that you'd missed your targets again.

Module LG400

Advanced Embezzlement

Truly successful people know that day one in any job is just the first step that will ultimately take them to the upper reaches of senior management. Really truly successful people know that upper management is just the first step in squirreling away stolen cash for their retirement.

Once you get a say in how the company spends its money, you will finally get an opportunity to make sure some of it comes your way. This course covers all the basic techniques: kickbacks, handing out contracts to friends and families, and setting up phony companies and schemes. We'll also show you how to make sure you have a scapegoat in place, so that if things turn sour you can be sure that some other poor bastard ends up doing time while you're sailing round the Mediterranean in your shiny new yacht.


A satisfied customer writes:


"I am happy to admit that I am a know-nothing dipshit who can't even open a door without smacking myself in the face. And yet, here I am holding down a senior position with a highly successful company. I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing, but whatever it is I am paid a ridiculous amount of money to do it. None of this would have been possible were it not for a qualification from the Yeovil Centre for Sharp Practice. And the certificate looks really fancy, as well."

Horace Clump
Senior Head of Retrogressive Statistical Acquiescence
Frisbee Digitally Tracked Logistical Interface Solutions


Membership logo

The Yeovil Centre for Sharp Practice

683 Station Road
BA20 1SW

Dir. Dr A Bongo. All fees are non-refundable



Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

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The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2021

Blog Index

Archive 1

February 2001
- July 2003


"Torching the National Gallery..."

Vicars on the Job

"Doing the Lord's work..."

Recipe Corner

"This week: Chilli Con Carne..."

Anti-Assertiveness Classes

"Put a lid on it..."




Wanted: Chip-Eater

"Wreham seek new chip control warden..."

Speed Dating

"Dating at 150mph..."

Evening Classes

"Get a certificate in a made up courses..."

The Detangulator

"Unlock the hidden power of tangled wires..."


What Do Your Keys Say About You?

Keyreading for beginners

Quality Service at Pooley's

A full range of snacks

Skippy's Opera

The sound of fury

Is Your Tortoise Roadworthy?


Piffin: A Mediterrean Paradise

Roly Coconut pays a visit


The art of folding furniture.

  Today on the Dog Exchange

Labradors are performing well

Fields of Gold

Fergus farms financiers

Exploding Trousers



Poor little fishys

Jehovahs Cleaners
Arty Tomatoes
Kicking and Screaming

Prologue: Peanuts

You Don't Have to be Mad to Work Here...

Machiavelli Management Solutions

The Bleeding Obvious

Exploding Dogs

Baby's First Swear

Scrufty's Magic Juju Shop


Empire of the Flowers


Mrs Wilberforce and the River

Epilogue: Persons Unknown

Golfing bird
The Hedgehog King Board Meeting Goldilocks and the Free Bears Death Doom and Disaster Tall Story in a Short Glass Venus by Catapult Barry Buys a Broom
The History of Rock
Extreme DinosaursTeaching Carrots to FlyStandard British NunsExtreme Dinosaurs
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All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2021, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.


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