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Let's get ready to GRUMBLE.


I LIKE to think that in writing this column I provide a necessary pubic service, in a similar way to a doctor or fireman.

Although I'm not so much a fireman as the IREman - a geezer paid to get nasty by ranting on a range of topical subjects.

And let's admit it, without me venting my spleen in this way, you lot would have no idea who you're meant to hate each week.

But what worries me is who will be the focus of your fury when I'm away? After all, even someone as important as me needs a holiday now and then.

To solve this problem I've come up with a guide to writing your very own column.

These are the rules of the game. Use them responsibly, my disciples.

1. Know Stuff - But Don't Get Bogged Down By Boring Facts

Before becoming a playwright, Tom Stoppard was interviewed for a job as a journalist. In his CV, he claimed to take an interest in politics. So during the interview, the paper's editor asked him if he knew who was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Stoppard replied: "I said I was interested in politics - not obsessed."

He didn't get the job.

Personally I'd have made him a columnist. Clearly, Tom was a man with his eye on the big picture, not pesky details.

Saying that, I, of course, DO know who is the current Chancellor.

Norman Lamont, right?

2. Be Ruthless In Your Rudeness

Once upon a time I was the sort of bloke who was kind, considerate and polite.

But no more, 'cos, honey, that don't pay my bills. These days I cause offence whenever I can.

For instance, in the past I'd have said that Prince Charles was a sincere sort of bloke, who had a deep sense of duty towards the nation, and struggled to retain his dignity and poise while navigating the pitfalls prevalent in the public arena.

Now I say he's a flap-eared, philandering doofus, who likes to yak to plants.

3. Make Every Word Count

Words are your warriors. When you conscript them to fight in your battalion, make sure you haven't accidentally press-ganged a ragtaggle bunch of pacifists.

That means dumping wussy words and phrases like: 'perhaps', 'allegedly', and 'on-the-other-hand'.

Replace these losers with killers like: 'damn right', 'that's just the way it is' and 'tough t*tty, buddy'.

And if you're looking for added emphasis, why not try a few of these?

'Deviant', 'shameless', 'scumbucket', 'maniac', 'maniacal', and - a personal favourite - 'maniacal maniac'.

4. Don't Get Involved In Debate - One-Sided Rants Are Better

In the pub, I win every argument. That's because I shout the loudest.

Of course, you can't yell in a column, but you can use CAPITAL LETTERS and italics to devastating effect.

Sweeping generalisations are also good. Personally I can't get through a day without one.

Of course, what other scribblers write doesn't matter. However, sometimes you may accidentally stumble across a rival argument to your own, which is coherent, logical and persuasive. Ignore the argument, while making pointed remarks about the author's depraved sexual predilections and debased mental state.

5. Never Leave The House... Unless In Disguise

Once you've done all of the above, you're ready to rumble - and grumble for a living.

There's just one problem.

Most people are going to think you're a nasty piece of work. And they'll also know what you look like, thanks to that giveaway photo at the top of your column.

Luckily there are solutions. Either permanently stay in the house, or sneak round town wearing a cunning disguise. (You can buy one of those plastic Groucho Marx masks for a few quid in most novelty shops.)

So there you are. You've now become a public grouch and private Groucho - who says being a maniacal maniac SCUMBUCKET isn't a piece of cake?
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Title Annotation:Leaders
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 29, 2007
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