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Thursday, April 28, 2005


over the last few years i have come to realise that i have an addictive personality (which isn’t to say that once someone meets me they can never get enough of me) but more to do with the fact that i can get addicted to things very easily and that i find myself moving quickly from a case of just using something through indulging myself to outright abuse.
luckily must of my addictions are “harmless” and i can handle them (i can give it up tomorrow if i choose to – honest, just a touch of flu guv…..)
among my addictions i count chocolate, cream cakes, coffee and diet coke (my self love habits i do not regard as an addiction more an exercise regime),
a new recent addition to this role call of weakness is the return of a childhood favourite – nesquik.

i rediscovered nesquik in my local cinema, i tried a strawberry flavoured drink and was hooked. soon each trip to the cinema was accompanied by a large nesquik. each time i ordered i got funny looks. looks which reminded me of the time when me and my mate paul (hi paul!) went to cinema and we stacked up and several large bags of chocolate and then both asked for a diet coke each. well the withering look we got from the assistant there just lead to us (well maybe just me) saying in a whiney voice “but we prefer the taste of diet coke……”
so now the trip to the cinema is worthwhile not only because of the film but because there would be nesquik, ah be still my beating heart…. if only life were that simple and pleasure came that easily.
just as i had gotten into a routine with the nesquik the cinema dropped it.

but now i can have my fix of pink sugary milk at anytime as my local sainsburys now has nesquik on sale. i am fulfilled again – the aisles of the supermarket sing out their greetings to me each time i go in – dance merrily as i search out the nesquik pack.

so i have a new guilty pleasure and it’s name is nesquik.

visit the world of nesquik here


brian sedgemore was a long standing labour party backbencher. now after 27 years as an mp he is defecting to the liberal democrats.
why is he doing this?
because he wants to give blair “a bloody nose” at the polls and this was because sedgemore has had enough of blair’s “stomach turning lies”. (here)
as part of the story over sedgemore’s defection was the implication that more labour mps would defect before polling day. as reported in the independent “declaring that "enough is enough", mr sedgemore also reveals that a small group of unnamed fellow mps who are standing down are secretly planning to leave the labour party in protest at mr blair's leadership after the election.” (april 26th edition - here)

now my mate nick thinks that is a principled move and it sends a message to blair that he cannot get away with what he has done with regards to iraq.
i can see his point, but in all honesty what sedgemore (and perhaps some of his colleagues are doing) is so shallow and so hypocritical you wonder why he isn’t joining the conservative party.
true sedgemore has voted against the government on the subject of iraq (and several other key policies), but he has remained in the party and as part of the government. the timing of his defection is cynical – done to get as much publicity for himself as possible (perhaps he should be joining respect?) but also done at a time which does not disturb his career too much, because sedgemore is not fighting for his seat he is standing down at the end of this parliament.
so for all his criticisms of blair he managed to hold out as a labour politician long enough to retire.
if he felt that strongly he could have defect during the parliament and gone to the liberal democrats and called a bye election to allow the people to give blair “the bloody nose” that sedgemore believes he deserves.
the same go for all the others who are planning to defect once they have stood down at the end of this parliament….

with that kind of backbone in the labour party is it any wonder that blair and campbell got their way over iraq.

for me sedgemore comes out of this as a bit of cynical hypocrite who claims to be carrying out his actions for the noblest of reasons. not sure who he reminds me of most tony blair or george galloway.


the 2005 uk election – the handy guide to help you make up your mind.

1] iraq – yes or no?
2] immigration – yes or no?
3] tax cuts – some or more ?
4] everything else – we’ll talk about it later.

the manifestos
new labour – we’re not the conservatives (and remember blair will be gone soon).
conservative – we’re not new labour (but they have stolen our policies & and we hate w(censored).
liberal democrats – we’re not new labour and we’re not the conservatives. (that’s about it).

the others
respect – we care about iraq and palestine (well anything that will get us the ethnic vote and won’t have people asking us about being part of the swp).
ukip/veritas – keep england england (look old chap the rest of the world is a nice place to visit but we don’t want them here…)
bnp – we hate w(censored), we hate p(censored) and we hate y(censored) (we are just slightly right of the tory party and david blunkett).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


you have to laugh – no really you do – poor old sir ian blair (commissioner of the met police) has gotten himself in a pickle with his defence of id cards. he has said that the technology of id cards would be very helpful to his officers and that the concept of id cards should be given further consideration in the fight against terrorism.

naturally enough new labour has jumped at this support for it’s (in my opinion madcap) scheme. so you have alan milburn opining that sir ian knows more about fighting terrorism than anyone else in britain (well where was he when the various wmd documents were being discussed, perhaps his insight could have been useful then!) and then going on to say "when he says we need id cards, we say he should be backed," while john reid chipped in with "we have said this all along - you cannot be serious about fighting terrorism, or for that matter fighting organised crime, unless you are prepared to support id cards,"
now interestingly both the conservatives and liberal democrats are accusing new labour of exploiting fear of terrorism in order to push their id card plans ahead of the election. it might be me but isn’t that the way they have always been promoting this asinine plan for id cards? so it is hardly earth shattering news that they are going to grasp each and every chance they get to promote the darned things.

shami chakrabarti (director of civil rights group liberty) was less than happy that sir ian had opened his mouth and said anything on the subject. chakrabarti warned the police commissioner to stay out of the political debate. going on to say “my biggest concern is that there is just a hint of the possibility of a very senior police officer attempting to influence the outcome of a general election. that's not how we do things in this country,"

let’s look at this again. sir ian seemed to say it was an idea worth looking at and that the technology might help his officers. in the past i have been very very sceptical of id cards, i still am, but i can see the sense in investigating whether or not the whole thing is feasible and beneficial. but look we don’t want a professional having an opinion on this we want to leave it to the politicians and various interest groups. surely if the head of the met cannot voice an opinion on this subject then surely the same is true of liberty? its ok we can leave this debate to those rational and balanced newspapers the sun and the daily mail.

both the conservatives and liberal democrats have other plans and both have suggested that id cards are not a practical short term solution.
the liberal democrats talk about putting 10,000 more bobbies on the street. a worthy aim, most of us want to see more plods on the beat. it’s also something that is going to take time, i have two mates who want to join the police and both have been waiting over 18 months to get on the training course at hendon.
the conservatives talk about how the id card might be a solution for the future, highlighting the fact that the scheme will not be up and running for 8 years. so what do the tory party suggest needs to be done in the fight against terrorism (and of course illegal immigration ?) well naturally it is action to secure the national borders by introducing a border police, reintroducing embarkation controls, removing those living her illegally (of course one of the “fears” of illegal immigration is that we don’t know who they are – hence new labour’s desire to have id cards – so just how the tories propose to find all these illegals is not spelt out) and the introduction of legislation to deal with acts preparatory to terrorism (ooh now that doesn’t seem like it will be too open to misunderstanding and abuse does it?)
it will be interesting to see how the tories plan on getting all that set up 1] quickly and 2] without cutting other services. simple answer is they can’t/

the tories are annoyed that new labour have stolen their thunder on law and order by becoming almost a draconian as the conservatives. not only that but as sir ian says under new labour crime has been falling….

is it any wonder that the tories are bleating about new labour exploiting id cards. and lets be fair here the conservatives have the moral high ground – it’s not like they have jumped on any fear bandwagons recently…

Sunday, April 17, 2005


if you have been to central london you have seen the tart-cards. if there is a phone box in central london there are three things you can almost guarantee 1] it will have these cards in them, 2] it will smell of very stale piss and 3] it will eat your money up and not work.
i have been interested in the tart-cards for many years now; i have been collecting them since the early 90s. i think the first one i picked up was even early than that, i got it as a joke for my ex as the she shared the name and hair colour of the girl on the card, (i have a sneaking suspicion that i never gave her the card – as i knew that 1] she wouldn’t find it funny 2] she would read something into it that was not there and 3] i wasn’t keen on spending another night on the couch.
so i have trudged the streets of london going from phone box to phone box collecting the tart-cards. i have walked along oxford street, up edgware road over to baker street in the hunt for new cards. i have been in thousands of phone boxes and probably walked hundreds of miles in my search for new cards. i have seen them go from simple black and white cards to glossy colour cards, i have seen dry informative cards and i have seen witty and clever cards that would thrill a copy writer working for saatchi (mind you it probably was a professional copywriter getting a discount for a pithy hook line). i have been a fan of this urban art form.
i remember being excited when i discovered that brighton also had a tart-card culture, sadly it only has a poor selection on display whenever i go there now. i was thrilled when i found 1 card in manchester, and when a friend sent me one from cardiff (cheers ms woods) and then there was the bonanza pack of cards and fliers from tokyo given me by a colleague (cheers rob).
over the years there have been a couple of books on the subject of the cards, there has been an exhibition of the card art, there have been fake cards and there has been merchandise based on the cards (postcards and t-shirts) but never something as wonderful as this.
frankly my words can’t do this card justice – the image may be from the abu garb torture sessions and it offers you “more of the same” and a number to call. the number is the labour party’s northern call centre… as the go here and see some of the places the card has been seen.

while on a jokey political subject go


i am not much of a pet person, which is lucky considering the state of my flat as i am pretty sure that any pet would soon be lost amongst the junk.
most pet people i know are a little like parents it doesn’t take much to start them off on a tale of wonderment about their gorgeous bundle of fun. most of the time the story leaves me a nonplussed and i just smile and nod in an encouraging manner (but with the hope that the look abject fear that they will tell another story is apparent in my beginning to glaze over eyes).
mind you every now and again you hear a story that makes you laugh.
i was out having a curry with my pal joel the other night when he told me this great yarn. a little bit of background first has become a cat-sitter for one of his friends and this regular event has turned him from a “cat’s are ugh” to “it’s not a cat it’s a person “type of person.
so there we are having the curry (and a very good one it was too – soon i must start writing about the curries i have – i am pretty certain that now i have eaten in each of the curry houses in brick lane!) and he decides to tell me his cat story.
he had come back from a gig and gone to bed at some point in the night he was woken by the cat jumping up on to the bed and deciding to snuggle up against joel. past occurrence if this had been pleasant experiences – something warm furry and purry next to you as you sleep – better than a hotwater bottle and cheaper than an electric blanket! only problem was that this time the cat decided to snuggle past joel’s head and as it went brushed its tail against his mouth. said tail was still damp with cat’s piss. now that is what i call an effective alarm.
the closest i have come to that sort of thing was way back when i was living with my ex and we were having a long lazy snooze in bed on a sunday morning. her cat was purring away (no you smut monkeys her cat and not her pussy) making that noise that could have been either let me out or feed me. i was too tired to know which it was and i was too snugily & comfy to want to get out of bed to find out which it was. it was ok the cat had its own way of letting me know what it wanted. it went to the centre of the room, turned its arse in my direction and then proceeded to do a turd the size of a wedding cake in the middle of the carpet, but this thing that grew from the arse of the cat was not a solid rope of shit. oh no my girlie’s cat had decided to unleash the lava pooh, and in a pretty convincing impression of a cement mixer the cat deposited what seemed to be 3 times it’s bodyweight in shit on the carpet. once finished it gave a wiggle of its tail and walked out. me i turned over in bed and fell asleep again – luckily i didn’t dream.
so what has this got to do with anything you scream? both stories seemed relevant in light of this from the independent newspaper.

wisconsin is in the process of authorising hunters, farmers and anyone who owns a gung to take to the countryside and start shooting cats, no not the big game one the cute little tabby ones. apparently the state has a severe problem with feral cats, with estimates saying that there are some two million of the tabbys out there and they are killing between 47-139 million birds a year (nothing like a little accuracy in your stats is there…) this has led to fireman mark smith to proposal that the feral cats be treated like gophers and skunks and become the target of hunters. all cats not with a collar or not under the control of an owner would be fair game.

the governor of the state, jim doyle, should just be singing this bill and moving it into law however he is not so keen and will not put pen to paper as "i don't think wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," he said. "what it does is sort of hold us up as the state that everybody is laughing at right now."

unease has not been helped by mark smith’s comments that if you kick a cat out at night you change its status, which implies you make it a target.

while i am not sure that as a hunter i would be overly impressed with the challenge of taking out a cat, even a feral one, i can see that there might be a desire to get all the available breeds to have their heads stuffed and mounted on the wall of the den!

perhaps it is something that could be offered to the disgruntled hunters over here. we could pay for them to go to wisconsin to help in the hunt of the feral cats. or perhaps they could start to claim that there is such a problem in the uk and offer their services to help.

one thing i do know is that given the chance that sunday morning many years ago i do know a cat that i would have happily shot in a mr. shush kinda way. (enjoy that reference pop culture addicts!)

Sunday, April 10, 2005


well who would have thought it. how did we all miss this?
leave it to the un to point out the obvious as they accuse howard of:
"indulging in "political opportunism" and encouraging hatred of foreigners by dragging asylum-seekers into party politics."
this comes ahead of his first major speech since the election was called - and what was it going to be about - oh immigration and the fact he sees blair and co as "pussyfooting" around the issue.
according to the independent howard is due to say:
""For too many years immigration has been a no-go area for political debate. If you said you thought that too many people were coming here, you were branded a racist. Let's be clear: it's not racist to criticise the system. It's just common sense.
"If we don't speak up now and have a proper debate about immigration we'll only help the bigots who preach racial hatred and the people-smugglers who profit from other people's misery. Mr Blair may want to pussyfoot around this issue, but I don't."

in a sense howard is right a sensible debate does need to be conducted over immigration and asylum seekers. it should be a rational debate, a coherent debate and one that is conducted in the cold light of day and not in the heat of an election.

howard does not help his case by lying. howard's plan for offshore centres and that the eu and un had set them up was met with "It is not correct that overseas processing centres have been established.." from anne dawson-shepard the british representative of unhcr.
ooops thats ok, what do the facts have to do with anything as long as you can claim that you are not racist.

howard seems to ignore that by bringing this (non) issue to the fore he is in fact doing the work of groups such as the bnp for them. it legitimates them because they can now point to the the main parties who are in a tizzy about how hard they can appear to be before they go into goose-stepping territory. the bnp can now campaign on this issue and no one can accuse them of stirring up hate because howard has gotten there first.

as for people-smugglers what is it that howard is sniffing because it is sure powerful stuff. people smuggling isn't occurring because it is easy to get into the uk, it's happening because people are making lots of money out of some poor wretches who want to have a better life for themselves. making it harder for legitimate immigrants or asylum seekers to enter the uk is not going to worry the gangs who operate people smuggling rings, it is going to encourage them. they are going to be making more money out of the misery of others. but it will be ok because the official statistics will be down and howard and blair can say - look what we did.

the worst of it is that we will still go to all these countries and offer jobs to their best people so that we have doctors, nurses, teachers (and of course nannies for the great and good).

howard may not be a racist - he is something worse he is someone who will prey on the base fears of people, he will stoke imaginary fears and he will do it for one reason only to have a chance to be the prime minister.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


the sun does it again. intrepid sun journalists expose lax security at windsor castle. the two journos drove the sun “bomb van” into the grounds of the castle and near where the wedding of charles and camilla will be blessed. the journos had no paperwork, no appointment and a box clearly marked bomb – but they were waved through without a check or being searched.

this isn’t the first time the sun has done this – i suppose we should be thankful to them for showing us how unsafe we are and how useless the security forces are. but i am not.
why pat, why you cry.
well part of it is the fact it is the sun, it’s a paper that is not good enough to wipe my arse on (have used the evening standard though). and the fact that we all know that this isn’t about them doing a public service this is all about selling papers.

the current upshot of it is the two coppers who worked the detail have been relieved of duties.

but i have a number of questions.
1] did the journos really have a box marked bomb? we only have their word for it. and lets be honest it only takes a marker pen to write bomb on a box and you can do it pretty quickly.

2] the security forces must know that this sort of stunt if going to get played so do they let it get through in the hope that in the hue and cry after the event they can get more money (or get rid of the bods in charge – a humane version of the frag grenade in the officers latrine?) or are they so bad they can’t spot the unctuous sun journos?

3] as we never hear about these fake bombs being stopped we can only assume that the sun has a 100% record of success with these sort of things, which makes it an obvious place for bin laden and co to go to get training.

4] if we don’t hear about the failed attempts is that because the security forces have captured, tortured and sent the journos off to guantanamo bay (or gitmo) where they are forced to read good journalism and listen to the reith lectures?

5] given that in some respects this is a prank can the sun and the journos be taken to court for wasting everyone’s time. i believe that if you make a false 999 call you can end up with a potential prison sentence. so surely it’s time someone took the sun to task on this. go on charles, go on camilla take the sun to court on this – but them out of business. do that and i think you justify the monarchy’s existence in the uk for several more years.

6] do the police and security forces when they catch these pranksters give them an extra special kicking for their time. it’s not like the sun can complain – after all it’s the sort of treatment they want to be doled out to potential terrorists.

7] or is it that rebekah wade has photos of everyone doing something rude and lewd so in the end she has a free hand.

on a serious note what the sun has done really doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than to heighten the feelings of anxiety that many people suffer about the country not being a safe place (even though most reports and surveys say the opposite) but that then allows the sun to maintain it’s campaigns against travellers and asylum seekers because they can become the “target” for the unspecified feelings of fear we feel.

it’s a tawdry rag and its influence on the country is too much.
i drink a toast, in advance, to the security force team that catches the next sun bomb van and treats them to a bit of heavy handed policing…..


say what you like about the man – but he sure knows how to get a handshake. mugabe is fast becoming the dennis pennis of the diplomatic world. up he pops, gets his handshake, goes back to zimbabwe with the photo opportunity he wanted. meanwhile the unsuspecting target has to suffer the wrath of the press for their mistake.
prince charles has now followed in jack straw’s footsteps.
charlie was sat one seat away from mugabe (which has to go down as one of the best seating arrangements in the history of diplomacy given mugabe’s attitude to the uk. or perhaps these events work on the same principle that seats in the cinema work – you rush in get the one you want and bugger the rest of the people, i can see the various ushers standing in the middle of it all saying please fill up the seats in the middle of the rows while people such as clinton, chirac, blair all sitting on the aisle seats just glare).

clarence house on behalf of charles said he "caught by surprise”. which is better than jack straw’s “….the fact that there is serious disagreement between zimbabwe and the uk does not mean we should be discourteous or rude." (here) (and it’s that kind of polite attitude that would mean I would never make it as a politician – rude and discourteous is best some of the people I work with can expect from me – ain’t that right kenny).

meps glynnis kinnock and richard corbett have criticised the prince. corbett said this was a golden opportunity to deliberately and very visibly refuse to shake hands with this man.
"to fail to do so was, frankly, stupid." (here) which while is fair comment ignores the fact that charlie has been trained from birth to shake hands…. (it’s a trait the political class have to go to special classes for – as well as kissing babies..) so it’s a little harsh that in the heat of the moment that a hand is thrust in his direction that he ends up shaking it almost instinctively.
while you would have liked charlie to have reacted properly the fault must lie with the people who
1] arranged the seating.
2] who advise and protect the prince for not spotting this potential gaffe and either moving him or warning him.
3] the spineless officials who have let mugabe enter europe despite an eu ban on him entering europe.
4] whoever wrote out the invite to him in the first place.

when mugabe isn’t rigging elections it looks like he is blagging his way into the best parties in the world.


i went to see the crumb exhibition at the whitechapel gallery the other day. have to say the exhibition is a little bit disappointing – not so much in that crumb’s art is not well represented but because there was not enough of his non underground comix work there.

i have to admit that i was never a big fan of the underground comix scene – a little like punk i was there, but it just passed me by (while my school contemporaries were going to see the sex pistols and stranglers i was listening to elp (still am) while they were reading the likes of weirdo and zap i was reading superman (still am). so i never developed a love or an appreciation of crumb and his ilk, while my love of “superhero” comics (and prog) has stayed with me to this day.

that isn’t to say i am not fully aware of the works of crumb (how could i avoid crumb, we share an interest in certain types of women!) having leafed through various copies of weirdo, zap and the collected works published by fantagraphics.

it’s that familiarity that has meant that the show is not as exciting as i would have liked it to be.
for me the problem is that the vast bulk of the material that is on offer are comix pages – while they may show the range of interests and obsessions that inhabit crumb’s work, there is a sense of looking at reproduced work and not originals. (in fact in some cases it does look like they have just removed pages from the comics to put in the frames – however as i do not know enough about crumb it may be that his working method is such that his completed page is pretty near perfect).
as i have said i love comics and i love the comic art form – but it’s not a form that translates well to being hung on the wall of galleries. what makes comics a unique and wonderful art form is the interplay between the words and pictures and it’s all those pesky word balloons and captions that makes it a less than thrilling experience in a gallery (especially if you are like me and read comics on a regular basis). it also means that people can’t appreciate the art from a distance as they need to read the words….

where the show comes into its own is in the few, sadly, sketches that adorn the walls. part of the reason these are so interesting is that they are not as refined as the work that was published – they are looser, more intimate but still concerned with the topics that appeal to crumb. these sketches give fresh insight into the published work.

judging by the number of people who were at the show, it looks likely that crumb has captured himself a new audience.
although a little disappointed with the content of the show, the work on view is great so i know i will be dusting off a few copies of the crumb books and looking again at his work.
go see it – it’s on at the whitechapel until may 22nd 2005.

Monday, April 04, 2005


its a trying time for us catholics - waiting and wondering who the next pontiff is going to be.
its at moments like these we look on high for a sign that shows that there is a divine purpose to the world, that in the gloom there is light, that the clouds do have a silver lining. we look to the things that will bring a smile to our faces.

and bless his cotton socks mark thatcher has stepped up to the challenge and has shown that he can indeed be a bringer of joy. mark, you may remember, was (“nudge nudge wink wink”) slightly involved in a fail coup in africa when he paid for a helicopter that he “suspected” of being used in mercenary activities.
it was.
they were unsuccessful.
the finger got pointed at mark.
he got caught.
in true fashion he toughed it out, it was stiff upper lip time, take me medicine like a man, play on a straight wicket... oh no that’s right he squealed like a stuck pig and plea bargained.

the plea bargain got him out of south africa, where i am sure he has lots of friends just wanting to pop round to “congratulate” him on his result. next stop england to spend time with his mum, the formidable mrs thatcher, no doubt proud of what mark has achieved. the plan was to go and join his anxiously waiting family in texas.

it was a nice plan, but the american authorities hadn’t read the script and his visa application has been turned down.
instant smile on my face.
yes as one of my mates has pointed out, he will get a chance to try again in two years time, and yes he is rich beyond my wildest dream – but for a few hours today he is nothing more than a common criminal, excluded from american because he had links to terrorist activities. (here and
here ).

a close second in the cheer up pat stakes was jonathon king (our very own low rent michael jackson). he has just been released from jail for serving part of his sentence for abusing underage boys. although he has gotten his freedom back he has just lost his bid to claim back some of the costs of one of his other cases that saw him being acquitted of abuse.
but as the judge said he had "brought suspicion on himself".
so king is out of pocket.
like thatcher he is probably wealthy enough not to miss the money, but for a short period of time he has lost again!
though he may just have the last laugh as he is talking about entering the music biz again.
what’s the chances of king, jackson and townsend forming a trio. suggestions for their name on a postcard please – but lets keep fiddling out of it. (go here for the king story)

Sunday, April 03, 2005


farewell john paul II. rest in peace.

in just over 2 weeks the fun begins as we see who the next pope will be.

although there are favourites for the position there is a saying that "he who goes into the conclave a pope invariably comes out a cardinal".

jpII set up some new rules as to how a new pope is to be chosen (so no phone-ins after seeing how all the candidate perform in a series of "tests") among one of the questions as to the process is whether or not the signal of smoke, to announce if a pope has been chosen, will be used. i hope so there is something to be said for tradition.

it'll be interesting to see what george w bush has to say about it all, as according to jack chick of chick tract fame we catholics are just one step shy of being the servants of hell as far as christian fundamentalists are concerned.
(if you do want to have a read that will raise the hair on the back of your neck, but also give you an insight to the workings of the fundamentalist mind go here - be warned though it is not for the faint hearted.)

Friday, April 01, 2005


there was a story in the paper the other day (and i confess it was the sun and i confess i was reading it in the local pizza place, rocket pizza where i was ordering an extra large country feast thin pan – it should feed 2 to 4 people but just about does me) about the funniest joke in the world.
strangely the winner this time was not the one that won last time.
neither of the two previous winners can i remember, not that means they weren’t funny just i have a bad memory.

so for your edification here is pat’s nominations for the 3 funniest jokes in the world and for all time. but to make it more fun i will give you just the punch lines…
(why just the punch line you ask? well because these jokes are so funny all i need to do is remember the punch line and i am smiling and giggling like a goon.)

so in no particular order here they are

“your granny is on the roof”
“yes it does doesn’t it”
“my mate was collecting coconuts”

i thank you.