Tag Archives: inventor

Slugs having sex, dogs high on drugs, sawing-up cars & comedy in cemeteries

The Bo Diddlers diddling last night (Photo by my eternally-un-named friend)

The Bo Diddlers last night via the comedian from Venus (Photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

Strange things are happening.

No change there, then.

Last night I saw Ewan Wardrop aka The Silver Peevil, the stand-up comedian from 1930s Venus – aka a George Formby one-man play – aka a former Matthew Bourne principal dancer – perform an astonishing hour-long dance show Stump! with his six-man morris dancing troupe The Bo Diddlers.

It is very rare to see a morris dance based on The Midwich Cuckoos book/Village of The Damned film nor another based on what appeared to be the Dawn of Man ape sequence from the movie 2001. Astonishingly original choreography.

“They are gorgeous,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “Captivating. They made me feel like dancing. You know the way boy bands have dolls they sell to fans? This group could have figurines. You could arrange them dancing on your mantlepiece.”

“Maybe,” I said.

The Bo Diddlers are repeating the show at The Place tonight.

Soiree in a Cemetery

A fully sold-out soirée in a Cemetery somewhere in London

Which clashes with the one-off Martin Soan/Adam Taffler event Soirée in a Cemetery in which comedian Stewart Lee, the British Humanist Association Choir and others perform a comedy show in a Victorian cemetery somewhere in London (it’s a secret until later today) – all accompanied by cake and hot spiced cider from the Women’s Institute. Tickets have sold out.

Slightly eccentric you might think. But only comparatively.

I have received an email from mad inventor John Ward, who designed the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards trophies. He lives in Lincolnshire. He tells me he is in a documentary being premiered next Wednesday at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

The film is called A Different Drummer after a quote from Walt Whitman: I step to the beat of a different drummer. Not surprisingly, as John Ward is featured, it is about eccentrics. There is a trailer on YouTube.

What is it about Vancouver? Is it becoming the world centre of eccentricity? Or has the entire world gone doolally?

This blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith lives in Vancouver. She spotted a notice:

Notice spotted by Anna Smith in Vancouver

Anna Smith spotted this in an educational Vancouver building

ATTN: Debriefing for the Porn & Genital Image Online Survey and the Romantic Relationships & Mindfulness Online Survey will now be held in room 1606.

Anna has also been watching TV and tells me:

“On the CBC, the big news is veterinary. Doctors are saying that far too many stoned dogs are showing up at clinics and they wish the owners would just be honest about the problem, because vets have to give the dogs expensive blood tests. The laboratories found that although, in a few dogs, traces of cocaine and heroin were detected, the overwhelming majority of the dogs had ingested too much marijuana. However, the veterinarians said that it is not lethal, not a reason to panic and the most common side effect is that – I quote – It gives the dogs the munchies…”

Without pause or link, Anna then asked me:

“Just wondering, have you ever taken a picture of slugs fucking?”

A reasonable enough question (it seemed to her) but I had to say I had not, although my eternally-un-named friend appears to be on a barely-controllable mission to eradicate slugs from Planet Earth. She was out in the dark again late last night.

Slugs mating with something coming out the bottom (Photo by Cathleen Smith, Anna's mother)

Slugs mating with something coming out (Photo by Cathleen Smith, Anna’s mum)

“My mum,” Anna Smith told me. “took pictures of slugs fucking. They created a thin string of slime about a metre long and were dangling from the roof all day, possibly for several days. I visited my mother whist this blessed event was taking place. I don’t know which slug was emitting the slime or if it was both of them or what that blob of goo is. We live in what is left of a rainforest. Slugs love it. People make fun of them.

“My grandmother used to wonder why there was so much fuss about slugs. She once asked: Why don’t people just eat them? They eat snails.

Anna had no answer to this. Neither do I.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, John Ward has started to tinker with motorised vehicles again.

John Ward with small but effective fire engine

John Ward with his small but effective fire-fighting engine

He was last heard-of in this blog arranging and supervising a charity cabbage-hurling event, but his last motorised effort was creating what is apparently the smallest fire engine in the world, based on the chassis of a 3-wheeled Robin Reliant car. He created it because the British government has been trying to save money and has closed various local fire stations. John Ward likes to help out.

He tells me his next effort involves stripping down another Robin Reliant to the chassis.

“I took the car apart,” he told me, “but what do you do with the body? It’s too big for our local rubbish tip. So I got a small bench saw and reduced it to a wheel barrow full of smaller bits before putting them into carrier bags – Tesco ones of course as every little helps. Then I took it to the tip.”

I have no idea where any of this leads – neither the sawing-up of 3-wheeler cars nor taking photographs of slugs mating; neither trained ballet dancers doing morris dancing nor holding comedy shows in cemeteries.

I can only sit back and wait expectantly.

Strange things are happening.

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Filed under Comedy, Dance, Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, Nature

How not to become a millionaire by creating an original new product

John Ward told me he had had another crap idea

So near and yet so far from becoming a millionaire…

I got an e-mail this morning from mad inventor John Ward.

He has come up with a new idea – the James Bond personalised bog roll holder with incorporated gun rack. He has created it in a hand-carved cherry wood finish with gilt inlay numerals.

Like many of his ideas, there is the twinkle of a marketable commodity here.

I fondly remember his bicycle for window cleaners – the frame of the bike itself became a ladder.

As TV presenter Chris Tarrant once said: “Brilliant, but not quite all there.”

It was not clear if he meant John’s idea or John himself.

Much like writing a daily blog, John Ward has carved out a niche in an area where it is difficult to, in our American cousins’ phrase, ‘monetise the product’.

I am sure there is a market for personalised, hand-carved toilet roll holders, but where you would start to exploit it is another matter. Certainly, with gun included, there must be a market in certain parts of South East London.

As Chris Tarrant implied, John Ward’s ideas are usually brilliant but not yet quite in the Dyson millionaire-making class.

His mobile church font drew some interest from his local vicar… His musical frying pan (hum along while you fry) got some interest… And his bra-warmer received a lot of press attention.

John Ward with the main Malcolm Hardee Award

Marking time until the millions flow in, he designed and built the three annual and increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards… and he once designed a bullshit-detecting machine for me.

Unfortunately, there was so much of it in the air, the machine could not detect a single specific source.

John Ward still needs that one big breakthrough product or an offer to become prop maker to the stars.

All suggestions gratefully received.

Here is an Australian TV report:

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Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, Inventions

Mad inventor John Ward approached by African charity with a claw hammer

In yesterday’s blog, comedy critic Kate Copstick touched on corruption in Africa when she talked about potential problems her Mama Biashara charity faced in Kenya.

John Ward’s snow machine

Mad inventor John Ward tells me he had a strange meeting several years ago in Northamptonshire. He is, perhaps more accurately described as an eccentric creator of bizarre contraptions. The strange things he can do with his hands do not bear too much thinking about.

Because he occasionally appears in newspaper articles and TV items, he sometimes gets cold calls from people who have tracked him down.

“I had a phone call a while ago from a bod from some wonderful sounding mob,” he told me yesterday. “The bod said they did fund raising for Africa. After a  long phone call, I arranged to meet him for lunch in Northampton.

“I was curious, so I dialled 1471 to check his telephone number. But it was a ‘number withheld’ jobby… This could be a wind-up, I thought, but I needed to go shopping in Northampton anyway.

“So I met him as arranged outside the main shopping centre in town, close to the market, and we wandered off to a nearby eaterie. He was the usual charity-type bod wearing the standard issue slack, ill-fitting – or somebody else’s – suit with a shirt collar size about eight times what he really took and he had a very ‘wet fish’ handshake that reminded me how strong our pet rabbit was.

“The idea, it turned out, was to get me to go to a part of Africa where the locals were building things like sheds and wells… but they lacked the skills to build them in such a way that they would be still standing/workable weeks or hopefully, years on.

Why me? I enquired.

John Ward drives home in his self-constructed Wardmobile

“He then produced from his briefcase a claw hammer and put it on the table, much to the surprise of some punters sitting at other tables near us.

“I made a mental note not to order bread rolls in this eaterie if this was what you needed to cope with them.

“I told him I had got a similar one and I was in no hurry to buy another just yet, thank you very much.

“He said: You are looking at a £1,275 hammer.

Is it made of solid gold? I asked.

No, he said, It is just a normal standard Stanley hammer.

“He told me that money was raised by his group in the UK and was sent out to the Colonies and assorted equipment was bought with the money. But, on close inspection of the paperwork, it had turned out the cost of buying one hammer had been £1,275.

“Corrupt elements were syphoning off the loot and BMW and Mercedes were maybe on overtime to meet the demand from officials for their products over there.

“He told me the British fund raisers did not want to ‘make a fuss’ about it.

So why do you want to talk to me? I asked.

“He explained that one way around the local mafia getting their hands on the folding stuff was to send people out with an eye for building and with money that they had themselves.

“He said he had seen some of my ‘stuff’ and felt that, even though I was not a trades person as such – as in bricklayer, carpenter etc – he realised I could think on my feet and felt that was what was really wanted… I would get results.

“I had a reasonable meal with him which did not involve bread rolls and use of the claw hammer but I pointed out I was not all that interested as they wanted me to be away for about six months. The financial side was not that bad, I have to say, but six months of my life? – As I was not that passionate about the ’cause’, it was a No-No in my book.

“After about an hour or so, we shook hands and parted.

“On the way home, I realised that the business card he was going to give me had not materialised, so I did not know exactly who or what he represented other than the stuff he told me vaguely about the ‘fund raisers’ in general.

“I suspect that it was somehow connected with HMG.

“It is all,” said John Ward, “part of life’s rich pastry.”

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Filed under Africa, Charity, Eccentrics, Inventions

The dangers when a TV programme researcher approaches a mad inventor

John Ward – a man out standing in his field

I first met mad inventor John Ward when I was a television researcher on Chris Tarrant’s sadly forgotten series Prove It!

Time-Life called him “possibly the best English eccentric inventor living today.” He designed and makes the annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award trophies and is currently creating a trebuchet – a giant catapult based on medieval siege engines – for next year’s World Egg Throwing Championships

John Ward thinks the standard of TV researcher may have fallen over the years. Yesterday he told me this story…

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The trebuchet – John Ward is building one for egg throwing

It was a nice day to start off with, being Tuesday, and so I loaded up and headed down the road to see Roger in Cleethorpes to try out the Egg Throwing Trebuchet Mark II as Roger’s field is quite large and should anything get out of hand, it won’t effect anybody (hopefully..)

So there I was setting it up and loading said device… and the mobile throbs away… and the day takes on a new meaning…

“Are you John Ward? – the John Ward?”

“Yes,” I said, “or, at least, one of them.”

“I am Tamara Hyphen Whatever and I am a television researcher…”

And then a deathly hush was heard and, not knowing if I should bow and kiss the earth beneath me, I replied: “Oh yes…?”

Miss Hyphen continued: “Yes, I am working on a new television programme and came across your web site and I have to say its very impressive. I could not believe the sheer amount of things on there that you have done. What a trove of fun it is!”

“Thank you for that,” I said, “and…?”

Then Miss Hyphen explained the format and I replied that it sounded – once again – like Scrapheap Challenge with the contrived supposed items made in a scrap yard but all the ‘bits’ are spread over a yard area in order for them to be picked up and slung together at the end of the show and it’s not the people on camera that are the builders but the list of Production Assistants at the end of the show credits that give the game away although I had sussed it about twenty minutes in when I saw the first ever episode because can you think of where you would find a scrap yard that has a turn the key and its works Land Rover on hand…

To which Miss Hyphen replied: “Yeessss, I see…”

She then wondered if it would be worth her while to come down to see me at some stage and I pointed out that the local cinema still – I believe – had a stage but any cafe would perhaps be better, moreso if they were showing a film projected onto the said portion of the stage quoted..

By now, I was thinking there was an intellectual barrier between us but I could be wrong of course – Time will tell, I thought..

After various useless questions and answers that I got the impression she at the other end was scribbling notes down to, the Gifted One then asked the usual clunker thus:

“By any chance, have you appeared on television at all?…” and I parried this by asking:

“You’ve not been working at the BBC for long?”

She then asked how I could possibly know? and I said I was shit hot at reading tea leaves as well.

I then put it to her, as best I could, having brought up children of my own you understand, that if she had indeed ‘seen’ my web site, she would know the answer to that question without being so brain dead as to enquire.

After all this and going to Roger’s field and getting back home, another bit arrived via e-mail.

“I have just seen you online with a bird table. Could we come and see you and film you for an interview?”

…to which I replied I was not that bothered but whom shall I say is coming along? And the nice man said he was a ‘field researcher’ for CBS Factual in the US of A.

How odd.

On the one hand, somebody was ‘wondering’ about coming to see me from about a hundred miles away and, on the other hand, a crew of four were going to get onto a plane and come from the Colonies to film an interview some three thousand miles away.

Thus we are to arrange a date in the next week or so.

So today – so far – I have found out our Trebuchet can hurl half a house brick a distance of 230 yards and I have found out people with strange three barreled names seem to be lacking in the thinking department.

Ah! The simple joys of the (allegedly) eccentric inventor.

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Here is John Ward demonstrating a new type of television to presenter Chris Tarrant on the sadly forgotten ITV series Prove It!

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Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, Inventions, Television

Duck! The dangers of Chinese subtitles, kidnap and Rupert Murdoch’s flying bus

Yesterday, I went to see a movie The Beginning of the Great Revival (aka The Founding of a Party), which was screening in London as part of the China Image Film Festival. It seemed to be very good film. A sumptuously made movie. Of course, if you work for the state film company, have a virtually limitless budget and you are making a movie about the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, this could help. But I thought I espied a director who had been influenced by Sergio Leone’s historical epics.

I say The Beginning of the Great Revival “seemed” to be a very good film because, alas, despite opening and closing titles with English translations, the actual two-hour long historical epic turned out to be in Chinese with Chinese subtitles.

This reminded me of the time I sat through Sholay at the National Film Theatre when they had accidentally rented a print of the epic Indian language movie with French sub-titles.

I speak neither French nor Hindi but you cannot fail to enjoy an all-stops-pulled-out Bollywood film where (as always) people randomly burst into song and the hero has both his arms cut off yet continues to fight in true action man style. (Both Sholay and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were released in 1975 so I doubt if either ripped off the idea of an armless hero; it must have been the spirit of the times.)

I also do not speak Mandarin nor read Chinese script and my knowledge of Chinese history 1910-1921 is a tad hazy, but The Beginning of the Great Revival was never less than interesting. You can see why in the (subtitled) trailer on YouTube:

I was brought back to some form of reality when I came out of the cinema and read Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper The Daily. The front page story was:

DUCK! – Anyone’s guess where 13,000-pound satellite will hit

sub-headed as:

READY TO TUMBLE! Satellite hurtles toward Earth – and scientists can’t say when or where it will hit

This was a story I had never heard of before – and I had seen the lunchtime news on BBC TV yesterday.

“NASA scientists,” The Daily said, “are shrugging their shoulders with little or no idea when – or where – a satellite the size of a bus will fall to Earth. The latest projections last night were that the defunct NASA satellite would tumble to Earth from space sometime this afternoon, but because the satellite is free-falling, the space agency and the U.S. Air Force cannot make a precise prediction about when and where it will hit.”

According to the article, NASA claimed the chances of someone being hit by a piece of falling debris was 1 in 3,200 and the debris would fall along a 500-mile path.

Those odds of 1 in 3,200 seemed surprisingly low to me.

“The only confirmed case of a person being hit by space junk,” The Daily told me, “was in 1997 when Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was grazed on the shoulder by a small piece of a Delta rocket.”

NASA has apparently warned people against touching any part of the satellite they might find lying around on the ground.

“While it contains no hazardous chemicals,” The Daily reported, “the space agency said people could potentially be hurt by sharp edges.”

Apparently what NASA calls “medium-sized junk” falls back to earth about once a week. Debris the size of a bus falls about once a year. When bits of the Skylab space station (the size of a house) fell onto parts of Western Australia in July 1979, local authorities fined NASA $400 for littering.

I thought I should perhaps check if anything the size of a bus had fallen on London while I was in the cinema watching the glorious founding of the Chinese Communist Party in The Beginning of the Great Revival so I got a London Evening Standard (which is now owned, like the Independent newspaper, by an ex-KGB man).

Its front page news was a story about a boy who had been encouraged to read by the Duchess of Cornwall. I could not find any story anywhere about anyone being killed by a bus from outer space falling on their head so, when I got home, I checked the BBC News channel (no unusual deaths; no mention of death from above) and then checked my e-mails to find one from mad inventor John Ward – designer and fabricator of the highly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards for comedy.

He told me he had been booked by the University of Lincoln to appear on 12th October at something entitled An Eccentric Symposium – Tomato Tomäto.

Among other billed events and speakers at this academic symposium are ‘Project Pigeon’ (“an art and education project that works with pigeons as a vehicle to bring people together”), the World Egg Throwing Championships and a talk on Gender, Exercise and Art by Anthony Schrag, an artist now living in Scotland whose work, according to the University of Lincoln, “focuses on blowing things up, climbing on things and occasionally kidnapping people”.

I could take no more.

I went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, the BBC News channel was reporting that the NASA spacecraft could not be found, but it had passed over the UK twice during the night and was now “the size of a refrigerator”.

They also reported Prime Minister David Cameron’s warning to the world that we live in dangerous economic times.

Fuck the economy. Where is the fridge?

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Filed under China, Eccentrics, Movies, Newspapers, Science

The unforgettable eccentric mad inventor John Ward… almost

I like to know interesting people.

Mad inventor John Ward, who designed the three annual Malcolm Hardee Awards for me (see him with the awards here and here)  read my blog yesterday – about how getting publicity does not necessarily lead on to getting extra work – and he has written to me explaining how he has recently got work from not getting publicity.

John has been occasionally described as an ‘eccentric’ and, indeed, has appeared in many magazines, TV shows and even academic medical books on the subject. Here is his story in his own inimitable words:

In the last few weeks, I have had a sudden surge of enquiries as to my availability for giving talks – one for a University! – and after the first couple, I decided to enquire as to why this sudden ‘surge’ – oooh, I do so like a good surge… and it boils down to this…

It would seem that a book has come out – from what I can gather, the third one or, rather, an updated re-cobbled effort of the first two – called Eccentric Britain – by one Benedict le Vay – yes, that’s his name by all accounts. It features ‘Britain’s eccentrics’ although I would stress I am not included though I have never lost any sleep over this mere trifle..

By a quirk of whatever, I came across Edition 2 at a car boot sale a few weeks ago for a modest 10 pence (yes, I know – robbed again..) and read it through and it’s basically a travel brochure in all but name as might be gathered when you see it is published by Brandt Travel Guides.

On asking one of those who was enquiring about my availability why they wanted me, I was told – I quote ‘ere – “If this bloke does not realise you are who you are, the book is incomplete as all I had to do was to put ‘eccentric inventor’ into Google and you are plainly there and if I can find you, why could not this tit? So I thought I would book you.”

Oddly I also heard from another bod who heard one of our local radio station’s presenters mention the book on air. He reviewed it as “lacklustre as it leaves out our own local/internationally known mad inventor John Ward”.

Based on all this excitement, I decided to write a letter to Benny boy at Brandt books, with a Thank You card enclosed, for all the efforts he had put into ignoring me – not that I wanted to be in it anyway – and to point out I was in numerous other, real books on the subject and all he had to do was look up my web site and the list is there complete with their respective ISBN numbers and to thank him for his recent effort where I was also not included and the effect of this was for people to look for me on the net as I was ‘left out’.

After five weeks, the lad has not been taken enough to reply.

So being left out of a supposed book on a subject does have its ‘rewards’.

John Ward is available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, universities and television shows if they pay enough.

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Filed under Books, Comedy, Psychology

Comedy complications and a classic new Christmas song…?

We awarded two Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe last week.

Immediately before the Awards Show, fellow judge Kate Copstick and I decided to give an additional award to Bob Slayer as well as to Kunt and the Gang.

This was possible because, while packing for Edinburgh at the beginning of August, I realised that, mysteriously, I had had an extra Cunning Stunt Award made – I have no idea why.

I had awards made by mad inventor John Ward for every year up to and including 2017. Only the exact number required.

I have no idea why there was an extra award made.

But, as a result, we were able to give the extra award to Bob Slayer because I knew there was an extra trophy.

Except that, when I returned home two days ago, I found I did NOT have a spare Cunning Stunt Award. The spare trophy I have is actually an ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award.

These trophies are one-offs, which is why they were all made together in advance. They can’t be duplicated because the materials would not be the same.

So John Ward is off to his back shed with his thinking cap and his template of what he made to see if he can make a new one to give to Bob Slayer.

As I blogged a couple of days ago, this was not the only gremlin which emerged on my return home.

My MacBook Pro laptop has now been taken in for repair – Apple are doing it for free because it is a known fault on the graphic card supplied by a third-party manufacturer for Apple, Dell and Acer computers. But my Hoover still does not work. The faulty washing machine pipe which partially flooded the kitchen during my four weeks in Edinburgh, despite the fact the water supply was turned off, has been repaired. But now my toilet has sprung a leak.

Life.

But – hey! – it’s now 1st September, so it is Christmas, right?

Well it seems to be.

Driving home three nights ago, I saw two houses with twinkling exterior Christmas light decorations.

Shortly afterwards, as someone had given me a CD of Roy Wood’s singles for my birthday at the end of July, I was listening to Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday on the car stereo and yesterday, even more bizarrely, I heard someone singing Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody in the street.

This made me think, inevitably, that the Malcolm Hardee Award winning Kunt and the Gang, in a bid to prove we actually should have given him an ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award, should write and sharpish record a Christmas ditty for festive download. It could be a classic.

Equally strange things have happened.

It used to be that Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was the ultimate Christmas song. Who on earth could have ever imagined that the Pogues’ amazingly un-festive Fairytale of New York would one day replace it?

Kunt for Christmas, anyone?

In the wonderful new world of downloads, anything is possible.

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