Friday, December 24, 2004

Some Interesting New Comments On My Blog

Normally I do not get many comments to this weblog. In fact, normally I don't get any comments. I am aware that this is because my many millions of readers are inhibited by my articulacy and wit from making their own remarks - lest they suffer by comparison - but sometimes this lack of feedback can leave me feeling, I have to say, like I am busking down a subway in Chernobyl.

Imagine, then, my glee when I discovered that I had got three new comments in one ten minute spell. Imagine also my feelings when I scrolled down to see what these comments actually were, and then read the following....

Here is the first comment. It was added to my very first blogpost, by 'Anonymous'.

'What the fuck is all this bullshit about? who the fuck is sean thomas. Is he a poor man's Toby Young or what? what a fucking loser. Who cares about any of this crap anyway. It's just depressing what people have become, especially that welsh rugby player, yayan evans


Interesting, no? For some reason my blog has been linked to an institute for potty-mouthed retards. Curious.

'Anonymous' then added a second comment; it was appended to the picture of me in the Utah mountains. Regular readers will know this photo well. Here's that second comment:

'how could a ludicrous fuckwit like this parade the ulgiest face ever known to man about the internet like it's COOL or something. It's just frightening that a little known cornish novelist with what appears to be a mini-nodule is allowed out in public like this. This photo could be hazardous to children!


An intriguing choice of words here. 'Mini-nodule'? 'Little known Cornish novelist'? I feel I have heard these phrases before somewhere. Perhaps during my last visit to the West Hollywood Residential Home for Football-Faced, Snaggle-Toothed, Metallica-Guitarist-Haired Kike Scriptwriters.

The final comment made by Anonymous appeared under the photo of me and Claire. Here is that comment:

'who is the cunt in the hat? Is this an out-take from a Joboxers video? Pathetic.'

Enough already. There's not a lot you can say to someone whose idea of a vivid and timely analogy is to compare something with a 'Joboxers video'. Actually, though, there is something you can say, and that something is:

Zyklon B! Zyklon B! Zyklon BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Happy Christmas everyone, and may God bless us, one and all!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I know, I know. She looks like a nice lady just doing a bit of washing up. In fact she is part of the scariest work of art that I have ever encountered. See the post below... if you can bear it... Posted by Hello

Truly, Truly Frightening

I have just been to see an art installation called 'die Familie Schneider'. It consists of two identical terraced houses, next door to each other, in dingy Whitechapel, in the East End of London.

Suffice to say I have not been so terrified since I snuck in to see the Exorcist, at the age of 16, on a school trip to the big city. In fact, die Familie Schneider is more frightening than the Exorcist, because I am now a hard-bitten, grown-up, cynical journalist: yet I still left this place shuddering with horror. Two hours later I feel like crying. And I don't quite know why.

The installation is deceptively simple. You walk in to the first house (alone, after being given the keys by the curators, Artangel). When the front door shut behind you, the first thing that hits is the silence. Then you see that you are confronted by a stifling, claustrophobic corridor, ending in a staircase. Of course it's just a hallway in a normal, rundown Victorian house - but it somehow feels different.

Step in to the kitchen at the end of the hallway, and you see a little dark-haired woman robotically cleaning her saucepans. Talk to the woman and she will not respond, she just keeps washing up, and staring into space. She doesn't seem to notice that her kitchen is pervaded with a weird, sickly-sweet smell.

To the right of the kitchen is a front room. But there is something odd about that, too. Piles of tins and biscits sit on the floor. A painting is propped on the grubby carpet with its face to the wall. This may all seem like small beer, but the eerie silence and the weird smell and the robotic woman make it all increasingly sinister. By now you are beginning to feel like a sick voyeur - peering into some dark domestic nightmare.

Upstairs it gets worse. A real live man wanks in the bathroom. You stand there, powerfully embarrassed, until you can't take it any more. In the next windowless bedroom a fan heater is switched on: the heat is oppressive. Taking in the odd, tacky decor of the room, you prepare to leave - with a feeling of relief - but then you notice the small body beyond the bed. The head of the body is covered in a bin bag. Yet you can hear the breathing. The body is alive.

Girding yourself - by now you are seriously upset - you descend to the dark basement. Here there is one bare room with a swinging light. Nasty. Beyond it is another darker room with bulging bin bags, one of them seeping a viscous liquid. At the back of this scary cellar-space is a swinging bookshelf unit: behind it a dank passageway leads to a filthy little chamber containing a child's stained mattress. You stare at the little alcove, sensing its air of nameless menace. What the hell happened here?

After ten minutes (your allotted time) you leave the one house, and enter the other. Shockingly and bizarrely - this house is exactly the same. The artist has employed twins to enact his weird scenes - so the woman in the kitchen looks the same, the wanking man is just the same, the binbagged body in the bedroom is exactly the same. Even the cigarette butts in the ashtrays are arranged in an identical way.

You'd think this deja vu element would reduce the dread. Yet it doesn't. Because you know what you are going to see, the creepy effect is heightened. I found myself actively wanting to hurry the experience; my heart was pounding.

Instead I took a big gulp of stifling air, and went down to the second basement. Of course it was all horribly identical, except for one thing. The filthy chamber at the end of the passageway was locked, and faraway I could hear a child screaming.

At that point I have to confess I couldn't take it any more, and I ran out. Panting in the sour London air I considered the weird mind that could make such a terrible space. I was unable to reach a conclusion: the artist, Gregor Schneider, is either a psychopath or a genius. Or both.

The bagged body in 'die Familie Schneider'. Posted by Hello

The staircase in 'die Familie Schneider'. Posted by Hello

Here are some pictures to go with the piece below. This is Michael Heizer's City. Posted by Hello

Double Negative. Posted by Hello

Sun Tunnels. Posted by Hello

Roden Crater. Posted by Hello

Lightning Field. Posted by Hello

Star Axis - the Star Tunnel. Posted by Hello

Land Art

Just in case you missed it (what were you doing?!), here's my piece on Land Art, from yesterday's Guardian newspaper.


Is it a monumental way to adorn the planet - or just arrogant vandalism? Sean Thomas reports on the rise of 'land art'

Wednesday December 22, 2004
The Guardian

Some time next year, three enormous artworks, each constructed over several decades, will finally attain completion. The first is a strange, Aztec-like compound in southern Nevada. The second is a stone "observatory", sunk into a windy mesa near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The last is an entire remodelled volcano, in the Painted Desert in Arizona.

Disparate as they may seem, these artworks share some common features. They are all located in the vast, penny-an-acre spaces of the American southwest. And they are all examples of that quixotic, notorious and sometimes reviled art movement: land art.

To understand land art - how it is reaching its apotheosis at the same time as it nears its end - we have to trace its origins. This isn't easy: like many artistic movements, land art has several genealogies. None the less, most critics are content to point to an exhibition, held in late 1968 at the Dwan gallery in New York, as the true starting point for the movement. The exhibition was called Earthworks; the name, tellingly, came from a dystopian novel about ecological catastrophe. Featured in the gallery spaces were several artists working in a vaguely organic way - exhibiting mounds of pungent soil, photographs of scarred wheat fields, etc. All the artworks seemed to be saying something about our strained, filial relationship with Mother Earth.

Earthworks has a strong claim to being the true "ground zero" for land art, because of the many artists in its catalogue who later became significant figures in the movement. Chief among these was the curator, Robert Smithson. Soon after organising Earthworks, Smithson turned to the creation of his own land art masterpiece, the artwork that most people still see as the emblem of the genre. The piece was Spiral Jetty, a half-mile-long whorl of basalt blocks spiralling into the limpid waters of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The jetty was completed in 1970 after many months of back-breaking toil.

This extraordinary earthwork set the tone and style for much of the great land art to come. For a start, Jetty was imperious. Before Jetty, earthworks - works of art relating to the soil beneath us - had tended to be intimate, parochial, even chatty. Spiral Jetty, with its declamatory size, its grandiloquent setting in the desert, was in stark contrast. For the first time, a work of American art had tried to match the epic grandeur of the west itself.

Spiral Jetty was also key because of its remoteness. The piece established the principle that proper land art should be a long way away, and worthy of an arduous pilgrimage. In other words, the relationship of land art to its viewers should be a bit like that of a medieval cathedral to a medieval peasant.

Jetty had another quality that is characteristic of land art: transience. Despite its size, the piece has proved vulnerable to the whims of nature. Smithson built his piece (unwittingly, some say) on a lake whose levels rise and fall over time. This means the piece has spent many years underwater, invisible. At the moment, because of drought, it is landlocked and covered in a thick mantle of glittering salt crystals. In its mortality, Spiral Jetty established the principle that land art should rise, erode and eventually disappear, like the cliffs and beaches of nature.

Robert Smithson died in 1972, in a plane crash, while working on his next earthwork, the Amarillo Ramp in Texas. But the baton had already been handed on. The California artist Walter de Maria had contributed an earth-filled room to the Dwan Gallery exhibition. It was one of the more celebrated pieces, but De Maria became truly famous only when, a few years later, he finished Lightning Field. This artwork comprised 400 stainless-steel javelins, stuck in the hostile wastes of New Mexico - like a tray of giant cocktail sticks. Designed to attract spectacular lightning in a storm-prone area, Lightning Field was widely praised for its precise beauty and shimmering cleverness. But it was also one of the first land art works to come in for criticism - as ecological vandalism. People were starting to ask questions about the validity of such huge and "arrogant" intrusions into precious wilderness.

Following Lightning Field - and perhaps as a consequence of it - there was a hiatus in land art. Despite other 1970s works such as Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels, the force seemed to leave the epic poets of the move ment. In time the newer land artists, such as Richard Long and Andrew Goldsworthy in England, turned once again to sweeter, humbler, more "sensitive" work.

Thirty years on, it is possible to argue that the bigger artists hadn't disappeared: they just went to ground, so as to fashion their enormous projects in peace. Take the Dwan gallery alumnus Michael Heizer. Soon after the exhibition closed, he finished Double Negative. This is a brutal and enormous incision across a valley near Mormon Mesa, Nevada. The construction of Double Negative involved the abstraction of 240,000 tonnes of blasted rock.

Impressive enough. But ever since Double Negative, Heizer has quietly been working on an even larger project, called City. This is the first of that trio of late, great land art edifices now nearing their completion.

A description of Heizer's crowning lifework is difficult: he jealously guards all access, and is deaf to most interview requests. However, some assistants at the Dia Foundation in New York (a wealthy arts trust that curates many important land art pieces) are willing to speak on his behalf. A handful of lucky invitees have even seen the work itself, locked away on Heizer's vast Nevada ranch. Combining their testimony, and viewing their photos, it is possible to gain an impression of City as it stands.

Heizer was inspired to build City after a 1970 visit to the ancient Mexican temple complex of Chichen Itza. Certainly, the truncated brown pyramids, sun-cracked ochre pavements and giant tilting stone slabs (each weighing 1,000 tonnes) capture some of the imposing and worshipful silence of the greatest Mexican ruins. Corners of the mile-wide site of City could be Mayan ballcourts straight from the Yucatan.

But there is another emotional analogy. Visitors to Mexican ruins such as Chichen Itza or Monte Alban know that these places are tragic in ambience: it is hard to forget that the pyramids were used for brutal human sacrifices, or that the ballcourts were arenas for a game that ended in decapitation for all players. Heizer's City echoes some of this melancholy. The artist has sacrificed half his life to this project, reportedly at a cost to his health. Some say the decades of unrewarded labour have unsettled the artist's mind: Heizer is alleged to fire his guns at anyone foolish enough to fly over the site.

City is scheduled to be finished in the next year or so. But that long-awaited event may depend on the whims of Heizer. Earlier this year, he threatened to tear the whole thing down in reaction to an intrusive road plan. The crisis passed, and Heizer is now back at work.

By all accounts, it's a strange existence he leads. His ranch-house is right next door to City. Every day, therefore, he steps from the front door of his home straight into the middle of his own lifelong artwork, where he spends the desert hours blasting away at his cinder blocks. Whether Heizer is a hero or a madman time will shortly tell. As he himself said recently: "If I screw up out here, I know it will be big time. I'm going to go down in flames."

Four hundred miles southwest of City, in the beautiful uplands of New Mexico, the second great land art work is simultaneously approaching the finish line. It's called Star Axis, and it's the work of yet another Dwan gallery luminary: Charles Ross.

Here is what Charles Ross says today about Star Axis: "Situated on a mesa 70 miles from Sante Fe, New Mexico, Star Axis was conceived and begun in 1971. This earthwork is on an Egyptian or pre-Columbian scale. It includes a Solar Pyramid, where from inside you can view an hour of the Earth's rotation. The central element of Star Axis, the Star Tunnel, is cut into the side of a mesa with an ascending 60m stairway in perfect alignment with the axis of the Earth. As visitors climb the stairs of the Star Tunnel, they pass through 26,000 years of Earth/star history, viewing past and future aspects of the Earth's shifting alignment with the stars."

Star Axis is already receiving visitors, though its official debut is a few months away. What the lucky travellers see is a kind of underground Stonehenge, a megalith by Nasa, a contemporary pharaoh's tomb whose artfully constructed apertures direct the gaze to various stars, constella tions and cosmic progressions in the black desert heavens. The place is cold and sombre, but somehow also enchanting. Although it is too early to be sure, it is a fairly safe bet that the serious playfulness of Star Axis will make it one of the most popular of all the land art masterpieces.

The final great land art creation - some say its apotheosis - is Roden Crater, an artwork conjured, over the past 20 years, from a bald volcano north of Flagstaff, Arizona. The artist is James Turrell, who was born in Los Angeles in 1943. Turrell is famous for "working with light" (witness his UK projects such as Night Rain - one of the few attractions in the egregious blob that was the Millennium Dome). In Roden Crater, Turrell has managed to sculpt and carve tunnels, staircases and viewing platforms from the living rock, turning the entire mountain into a kind of volcanic colosseum, a round and gobsmacked mouth staring in awe at the cloudless sky.

Roden Crater, guarded by Turrell's team, is as difficult to access as any of the land art works. Rumours abound of uninvited visitors, in search of the site, vainly trekking for days through the Painted Desert. But with a bit of determination (and a battery-powered GPS navigator) it is possible at least to approach this artwork, if not to enter its unfinished tunnels. What you see, when you finally get there, is a serene and mighty cone, chamfered into shape by one man. It is thus a colossal expression of human power - or of our footling vanity.

Looking at Roden, it is not hard to see why some people so fiercely object to the egotistic intrusions of land art - and why, in an era of ever-increasing environmental sensitivity, it is unlikely anything on this scale will ever be attempted again. Does the Arizona desert really need this? Does Roden adorn or insult the pristine desolation all around? These are troubling questions. And yet there is an undeniable majesty in Roden Crater, as there is in all the land art masterpieces. As we stand and stare at it, cowed into silence, it echoes the line in the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem: "What I do is me: for that I came."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Blog On

Hello to my many many readers. Or reader.

This is a quick note to let you all know that the toffeewomble will soon be expanding, and becoming a proper website. All about me! Yes! Huzzah! I'm not sure what to call the site yet, probably it will stay 'toffeewomble-esque'. Either way I think it's time to make the graduation to my own groovy and dedicated domain, not least because this blog has shown me that putting stuff on the Net is not as complex and daunting as I'd thought, indeed an autistic hamster would have little problem.

Be not afeared, tho, the isle will still be full of noises - you'll still get the same unique package of fun, insight, enlightenment, and horrible swearing here on Ye Olde Toffeewomble. I just fancy having even more space for shameless self-promotion. And swearing.

Chrimble, dudes!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A Christmas Quiz

Now that my blog has become so popular, I think it's time I rewarded my many loyal readers with an amusing quiz. But what kind of quiz? I know lots of people enjoy spelling bees, and others like those pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey type affairs. But I think they suck, so sorry, no.

Instead please enjoy a picture puzzle. The puzzle is, basically: what the F is in this photo, posted below? The only clue I am prepared to give is that I took the photo last summer.

The prize for guessing right is a brand new house. In London. Be warned, though, there is a catch to this quiz. To my mind, this puzzle is so hard, if you get it right, that means I must have already told you what the photo shows, so you have cheated. Therefore you are forbidden from taking part.

In other words the prize is unwinnable. But please don't let that put you off trying.

Go on, have a guess. What is this? Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Baddest Sex of All?

Last night, in a star-studded ceremony in London's glamorous West End, Tom Wolfe won the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex Award, for the most absurd or redundant description of sexual activity in any book published in the previous year. Here is the prize-winning passage:

(From My Name is Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe)

'Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth. She tried to make her lips move in sync with his. The next thing she knew, Hoyt had put his hand sort of under her thigh and hoisted her leg up over his thigh. What was she to do? Was this the point she should say, ‘Stop!’? No, she shouldn’t put it that way. It would be much cooler to say, ‘No, Hoyt,’ in an even voice, the way you would talk to a dog that insists on begging at the table…

Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns – oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest – no, the hand was cupping her entire right – Now! She must say ‘No, Hoyt’ and talk to him like a dog…’

Pretty bad, I think you will admit. Yet greater depths of absurdity and repellence have been plumbed, not least by me. I won the Bad Sex in Fiction Award three years ago, with a passage so obscene, bizarre and ourageous, I frankly believe I should win the award every year. Of course I might just be boasting - so here, for your delectation, are MY offending/award-winning paragraphs. I leave it to others to judge whose is the Baddest Sex of All.

(From Kissing England, Flamingo, 2002)

'In Katy's bedroom Katy is step-by-step taking her clothes off and Alex's heart is working so fast he feels endangered, overbuzzed, like a student on too much speed. Stuck with his addiction Alex watches, obsessing, as Katy undoes her jeans, he wants so much to strip the clothes off her quickly, he wants so much to take his time and do it slowly.
- We better be quick my mum will be home soon
Needing no more Alex rips off his strides; his shorts; showing her his erection he motions with a hand; she understands:
- You mean I have to put all of that in my mouth?
Oh God. Oh yes.
Hopeful, wistful, mouthful of spit, he watches her little hand around his cock and he waits for as long as he can; but then he can't: then he goes: down: to her rose of cunt, where he licks her between, smelling the scent of a St Malo restaurant on a winter's evening, lost in the thick soft furrier’s sample; lost in the young Czarina of her cunt. Oh yes.
Cunni. Cunniling. Cunnilinguling. Cunnilingulingilinguling
Gagging, enjoying, gagging; Alex licks, works, and considers the fact that Katy is the only women he enjoys licking out. He considers this: dismisses it. Dangerous, dangerous. Why shoud he enjoy cunnilingus with her and no-one else? Scientific, Alex lays off his tongue and considers the taste. It is, he feels, one of those very nearly disgusting lovely tastes that can so easily tip over into compete disgustingness. Like burnt charcoal peppers in oil. Like oysters. Olives. Anchovy butter. Like so much seafood. Like cunt. But because he loves her, Katy, he loves the taste.. the taste of the blood, from her warwound, from the scartissue, from where she was Islamically mutilated; ohyes he loves it, loves the kowtow, yes he loves the taste.
But not that much. It is time, time to fuck her. Now. Yes. Brupt, he rises, turns her over, flips her white body. Her smallwhite tidy body. She is so small and so compact, and yet she has all the necessary features... Shall I compare thee to a Sony Walkman, thou are more compact and more
She is his own Toshiba, his dinky little JVC, his sweet Aiwa
- Aiwa - She says, as he enters her slimy red-peppers-in-olive-oil cunt - Aiwa, aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwaaaaaaaaah

Friday, December 10, 2004


It's cold and grey here in London. The weather tomorrow is also expected to be cold and grey, with the possibility of it becoming chilly and grey later in the day. Sunday is anticipated to be grey and very cold, while medium range forecasts for next week indicate long periods of freezing greyness, interspersed with sleet. And fog.

Jesus. Sometimes it's hard to remember we have a summer. In that light I thought I'd post this heartwarming pic I took with my cellphone last July. I was on the South Bank, and when I looked over the parapet at the Thames I saw these two lovers, sitting on the foreshore. They were warmly embracing in the dappled sunshine.


That happy couple. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Which Is The Real Robbie Williams?

Pictured below is my good friend Dorian (hi Dorian!). Pictured underneath Dorian is the famous pop singer Robbie Williams.

Why am I juxtaposing these photos? For the last few years Dorian has been a professional Robbie Williams lookalike. This means he earns good money by opening small supermarkets in Stoke-on-Trent, etc, posing as Robbie Williams - even though everybody knows that he isn't actually Robbie Williams. I think Dorian has even 'met' a few girls that way. What a strange world it is.

The funny thing is, I also know the real Robbie Williams - through another friend, Sacha (hi Sacha!). In fact we once spent a weekend with Robbie, when the singer was on tour in Switzerland. At the end of the weekend, we all ended up playing cards in Robbie's hotel-suite. To this day, I am convinced that Robbie came on to me halfway through the evening. The singer certainly put his hand on my knee.

However, when I mentioned this theory to Sacha, he was not impressed. In fact he laughed for an hour, then pointed out that Robbie Williams is a globally famous pop star who has thousands of young women begging to sleep with him on a daily basis; in that light, Sacha went on, it was surely rather unlikely that Robbie Williams would 'come on' to a 'drunk, little-known, hairy-arsed Cornish novelist pushing forty'. Thanks Sacha.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I am telling this tale is to note that I know Robbie Williams, and I also know the world's top professional Robbie Williams lookalike. And somehow the lookalike Robbie Williams looks more like Robbie Williams than Robbie Williams.

Weird, huh?

Here is my friend Dorian. Hi Dorian! Posted by Hello

And here's Robbie. Or Dorian. Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 04, 2004

All The Drugs I've Ever Done

Here is a list of all the drugs I have ever done. The sole criterion for inclusion on this list is that I should have tried these substances with the intention of getting high. Whether they worked or not is a different matter.

Crack Cocaine
Freebase Cocaine
Magic Mushrooms
Morning Glory Seeds
Morphine Sulphate
Gee's Linctus
Chanel Perfume
Amyl Nitrate

Perhaps some explanations are needed. 'Speed' is amphetamine sulphate. Qat is a mildly stimulating leaf from Arabia - eating it is a bit like eating a hedge. 'Magic mushrooms' refers to the Psilocybin mushroom, specifically Psilocybin Semilanceata. Morning Glory Seeds, Nutmeg and Cinnamon are allegedly psychedelic (they didn't work with me). DMT is a strong hallucinogenic gel - you inhale the fumes, as with crack cocaine, and you get wildly high for about ten minutes (hence the nickname: 'businessman's acid'). Gee's Linctus is a cough medicine containing 'opiate squill linctus'. Captagon is a pharmaceutical stimulant from Thailand. And Tippex is a solvent-based fluid used for correcting typescripts. I tried it for the same reason I tried sniffing my mum's Chanel perfume. All I got was a headache.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Let's Give Heroin To Old People!

A Modest Proposal.

The other day I was on the phone with a mate, and he was telling me about his sadly homebound mum. In this, he was just the latest in a long line: right now a number of my friends have parents who are falling ill, and encountering the miseries of old age.

Normally I nod in empathy when I hear these stories - and think nothing more of it. But as this latest friend told me about his poor old dear a puzzling thought struck me: nature has provided a sovereign remedy for the nastier affects of age, yet we ignore or abjure this remedy - until it is too late. The remedy, of course, is heroin. AKA Smack. AKA Horse, Brown, Skag, Boy, 'The beige', H, Uncle Harry, Gear, Scratch, Hammer, Jive, Nanoo, Easy, Caca, Pure, Dooly, Dirt, Scat, Downtown, Skid, Antifreeze, Life Saver, Aunt Hazel, Junk.

I speak with some authority because, as you probably have guessed by now, I am a one time heroin addict. The mistake I made with heroin was to do it when I was too young. Heroin is wasted on the young. Heroin kills your sex drive, dulls your looks, removes all ambition and makes you easily tolerate extreme boredom. These are not affects you need when you are 25 or 45. But at 75 or 85...? Who needs a sex drive then? And ambition can only be irksome at 80, surely? Likewise, I imagine good-looks are at a premium, anyway, when you're over ninety. And as for tolerating extreme boredom - frankly when I'm a doddery old wreck I'd welcome something to brighten up the day in the Happy Valley Retirement Home.

There are other factors to consider. Heroin is the best painkiller we have. Not a bad thing when you are gouty and rheumatic. Also, giving heroin to old people would give everyone a reason to look forward to old age; at the moment all the good stuff comes earlier in life, and the back nine holes are rather repetitive and drab. But if we promise everyone a painfree, smacked up, blissed out old age, it would surely balance things a bit. No?

So convinced am I by this argument I've actually thought of acting on it - by seting up my own pension plan, the Thomas-Randall Pension Plan (I came up with the idea with a mate). The Thomas Randall Pension Plan consists of a kilo of pure heroin, and a bungalow in Benidorm. We aim to take up the Plan when we are 75.

I jest, natch. But there is a serious point here. What is it that stops us easing the pains and boredoms of old age with such a natural cure? Some twisted morality that says you have to be fully compos mentis to enjoy the indignities of infirmity?

Actually, I reckon this might make a nice article. In the Sunday Telegraph, perhaps. Or Saga magazine.