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Health Scare Alert: Be afraid, be very afraid February 6, 2014

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout.
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GOVERNMENT MEDICAL EXPERTS have today identified the number one cause of death amongst the human population: breathing. In short, the advice is: breathing kills and should be avoided wherever possible.

The evidence that breathing kills is said to be irrefutable: NHS health records show that every person who has died since records began used to breathe and research indicates that every person who died before records were kept also used to breathe. Observers have further noted that zombies, who don’t breathe, don’t die and in fact cannot be killed.

Responding to the news, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has pledged to take whatever action may be required to minimise risk to the general public: “The police, the military and all emergency services are on standby to offer whatever support the public need,” he said. “We have reviewed government policy on this matter and we will ensure that people who do the right thing, hardworking families and Conservative Party supporters, will be protected.”

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, threw his weight behind the Prime Minister’s stance: “People should be in no doubt about this,” he said. “Breathing kills and zombies are real. Look at me, look at the people around you next time you travel on the London Underground. Many may appear to be breathing but for most of us it’s an act as we attempt to blend in with the rest of the  human race. If you’re not sure, look us in the eye and you’ll see that dead look as we stare past you and through you. This is the reason we need to close down all the ticket offices: they force people to talk, talking requires breathing, and people who breathe, die.”

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, explained the Treasury’s response: “We are bringing in a new, fairer, tax regime and people who insist on breathing will pay the price through increased taxes and further benefit cuts. We are raising the age at which Housing Benefit can be claimed to 125 to ensure that no one who breathes can claim it. Furthermore, VAT and fuel duty will be levied at 200% on all purchases made by people who breathe.”

Iain Duncan-Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added his support:  “We will protect those who do the right thing, who work hard for low pay or no pay. We will also protect the wealthy and the wealth creators to ensure that they can carry on receiving their bonuses. But if you insist on breathing, if you do the wrong thing, you will be penalised. Alongside the Treasury’s actions outlined by my Right Honourable friend, the age at which the State Pension becomes available to people who breathe will also be increased to 125 and anyone who carries on breathing after this age will be automatically excluded from receiving the winter heating allowance. Disabled people or those who suffer with mental health problems, however, will be given all the help they need to stop breathing at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Business leaders applauded the government’s response: “Breathing kills. The medical evidence is clear: people who breathe take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide, using up their bodies’ resources. This forces them to eat, and to eat, they have to buy food, which means we have to pay them. Zombies, however, do not breathe and do not need to eat, which means they don’t have to be paid. This means that we don’t have to pay National Insurance and can keep all the money for ourselves instead of most of it.”

The Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to support those who do the right thing: “Do the right thing,” he said. “Stop breathing. Become a zombie. Support the Conservative Party.”


Weekend Knockabout: Sing a New Song: I am a malcontent, I am an aggressor October 1, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout.
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2 comments

I DEDICATE THIS SONG to all my friends in the Christian retail trade. If you, gentle reader, don’t understand it, don’t worry about it: it’s an inside joke and it really is terribly unfair of me to make a song out of it — just be grateful I’m not making a dance out of it too, given the recent relaunch of Strictly. Visit my Christian Bookshops blog if curiosity gets the better of you. Otherwise, just make up a tune, singalong, and enjoy, oh yeah.

Oh, but one more thing, the question every Christian songwriter must ask themselves: is it Spirit inspired? All I know for sure is that I dreamt it up whilst I was putting the laundry out; and being a washed-in-the-blood-of-the-lamb, hung-out-to-dry-in-the-wind-of-the-spirit kinda guy, what more can I say? Now let’s rock, baby!!

I am a malcontent,
I am an aggressor,
Come on and clap your hands,
Come on and sing with me:
I’m in the WC*
Bad books, bad books, oh yeah!

How can I be silent
When there’s a fire in my bones?
When I see injustice
And Christian hearts like stones?**

I see my former colleagues struggling
to make their budgets work,
I see a big established company
rejoice for all they’re worth,
I think that things could be done better
and wear my heart upon my shirt.

So I dared to ask a question,
what their RRPs are for,
but their boss said that was naughty,
I really shouldn’t ask the score.***

I am a malcontent,
I am an aggressor,
Come on and clap your hands,
Come on and sing with me:
I’m in the WC*
Bad books, bad books, oh yeah!

I am a malcontent,
I am an aggressor,
I just love finding fault
If I can find a flaw…
(repeat to fade…)

*WC = Worship Central. Seriously: go there.
**They’re not really, it’s just one guy throwing a temper tantrum.
***OK, OK: what he really said was I should’ve asked him personally rather than post an opinion piece on my blog. But I’m a blogger, y’know? I prefer conversations out in the open.

Breaking News: UK Government to Cut Time by One Third November 17, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout, Life.
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6 comments

IN ANOTHER DAZZLING DISPLAY OF BRILLIANCE the UK Government has announced plans for a new round of cuts, this time to time itself. To help reduce the economic deficit, hours will be reduced by one third to only 40 minutes. In order to ensure that most people don’t realise that they’re being short-changed, minutes will also be reduced by one third to only 40 seconds, whilst — by an amazing feat of quantum mechanics — seconds will be lengthened by one half.

At a Press Conference held earlier today, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, explained how the new time system will be brought into play:

This is something that we as Liberal Democrats have long anticipated. It’s a sophisticated calculation but can actually be explained quite simply: if you take a second and add another half-second you end up with a time span that’s one third longer than the original. You then apply the temporal dilation principle to squeeze the extended second into the original temporal space and that space expands to accommodate it in much the same way that we Liberal Democrats keep expanding our manifesto to give the Tories everything they want without actually compromising any of our core commitments. It’s a very elegant solution which means that I get to remain as Deputy Prime Minister for twice as long as the Coalition itself exists whilst David triples his power base and eventually takes up residence in Buckingham Palace leaving me to run the country. We can, as David has said, be immensely proud of how far we have come — and with time even shorter for you but longer for me, we’ll be going even further.

Speaking more specifically about the cuts, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

By shortening hours to only 40 minutes, more people will be able to work more hours whilst still taking home the same pay. This will reduce unemployment at the same time as reducing the need for employers to give their workers breaks. Paying people the same for working shorter days will be offset by devaluing the pound by 50%, which means people will be able to buy less for the same money and will thus be incentivised to work harder, faster and longer in order to earn more. To offset the currency devaluation the British economy will be floated on the international stock exchange. We expect China to make a successful bid and should therefore be able to introduce greater levels of poverty and slave labour within a very short time frame, shortened even further by the shortened hours. I think we can call that a result, don’t you?

Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, elaborated:

This is a very far-reaching policy that will impact upon all of our lives to ensure that the rich continue to get richer whilst the poor get poorer until they are so poor that they simply vanish from the face of the earth, apart from a few who will still be needed for cleaning duties. We have worked out that people will work, on average, twice as fast as they do now in order to achieve the same amount in a reduced time span. This will lead to increased stress levels, heart attacks and premature death which will represent considerable savings on the pensions bill. At the same time we expect the elderly to degenerate faster as they simply won’t know what’s hit them: you get to a certain age and time flies by anyway; this system will make time fly even faster and they’ll age faster without noticing. Within half their anticipated pensionable lifespan most of them will be dead. The ramifications are enormous, almost as big as my ego, and I am therefore delighted to be changing my name — officially — to Iain Bunkum Smith. If anyone argues with me I’ll tell them they’re speaking absolute bunkum and that will be the end of it, especially if they’re a BBC Today Programme presenter attempting to ask searching questions. If you’re my friend you can call me IBS.

George Osborne continued:

IBS is quite right. Even eternity will be affected because it will arrive sooner than expected for most people, especially asylum seekers, the homeless, poor, weak, vulnerable, anyone on benefits and anyone who is mentally ill or whom we, for whatever arbitrary reason, simply do not like. We have further ascertained that due to the quantum mechanics involved even God cannot escape: his job title will be reduced by one third. We gave him the choice of becoming known as Od or Go and he explained that since most people think he’s pretty odd anyway, he’d prefer to go for Go — which also happens to be my initials. Unfortunately because of the time dilation effect we don’t have time for any questions but you may now worship at my feet and a mandatory collection will be taken as we all sing a rousing hymn.

Now go read about the impact this government’s cuts are having in real life:

Tears of Joy in Northwood as Deranged Christian Bookshop Manager’s Ten Year Reign of Terror Draws to a Close August 18, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout, News.
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11 comments

From the Northwood and Pinner Herald:

TEARS OF JOY were shed in Northwood yesterday as news broke that Phil Groom, Bookshop Manager at London School of Theology, had handed in his notice. Hearing the noise from the street outside, our undercover reporter sneaked in to interview staff and students who were celebrating raucously in the corridors.

“He’s definitely insane,” said one student, who did not wish to be named. “He entices people into the shop with special offers then sells them something completely different. I came to LST with a healthy bank balance but by the time I’d visited his shop I had a massive overdraft and was walking with a limp caused by the weight of the books I ended up carrying. And that was just after the first day!”

“He’s a heretic,” said another. “I asked him a question about the Bible and he said, ‘It’s all true apart from the bits they made up.’ Then I asked him to to help me choose a book about the parables and he recommended Hans Christian Andersen. I said, ‘But that’s a book of fairy tales,’ and he told me to read between the lines. Then I asked him about the resurrection and he said, ‘Which resurrection?’ Finally I asked him about the story of Creation and he said, ‘That’s right, it’s a story.’ Every question I asked him, he dodged.”

“He was the biggest source of temptation in my life,” said a member of staff, who also requested anonymity. “It was terrible: I’d walk into the shop, planning to offer him some words of encouragement, but I’m sure he saw me coming because as I approached the counter he’d whip out a newly published book that was exactly what I’d been looking for. It was impossible to leave without buying it!”

“It was his jokes that were the killer,” explained another staff member. “Him and that other guy, Nick Aston, they sparked off one another. It was worse than the two Ronnies. You couldn’t hold a sensible conversation with them when they were on duty together.”

So why did he quit? No one knows, but rumour has it that he’s going to be working in a supermarket part-time terrorising the general public in much the same way as he used to terrorise the LST community, and when he isn’t in the supermarket he’ll be drinking coffee and working on some top secret web development projects.

Oh dear, I think I’ve died July 2, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Death, Knockabout.
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2 comments

Sorry, couldn’t resist posting this one:

From: Mrs. Elizabeth Clara <elizabethclara85@yahoo.com>
Subject: GOOD DAY!!!!!!
Date: 1 July 2010 22:42:23 GMT+01:00
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Reply-To: barr_jamesmadukachamber@yahoo.cn

Dear Beneficiary,

We receive an email that you are dead and you ask one Mr. John Richard to come and claim your cheque worth $2.5million united state dollars,and he has also agreed to pay for the fee which is $100 so I am writing you to know if you are DEAD OR ALIVE, if you do not reply back before 12hrs we will have no other alternative than to believe that you are truly dead according to Mr. John Richard And if you are still alive you can get back to me as fast as you can.

Take note that every thing has been paid for it is just for the shiping fee that this Mr. John Richard has agreed to pay for if you refuse to get back to us am afraid we shall give him the cheque and collect the money from him that means that he is right that you are dead and you ask him to come and claim the cheque on your behalf.

Please take note that you have been given just two days to get back to us so that we can know if you are alive, and fill the Information Below.

Name:
Driver License:
House Address:
Phone Number:

We await your swift response in regard of this email we have received from Mr. John Richard

Regards,
Barrister James Maduka
barr_jamesmadukachamber@yahoo.cn

And the answer is YES! Yes, yes, yes: I AM DEAD. Now please send your spam elsewhere, take your cheque and use it to wipe your backside. Thank you.

Is anyone out there really stupid enough to fall for this sort of scam? It’s a sad, bad, crazy mixed up world we live in…

Planet BB Needs You February 25, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Books, Knockabout, Watching.
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5 comments
Planet BB

Planet BB - The Boys' Brigade Around The World

I confess that I know next to nothing about the Boys’ Brigade. I know that it exists and the odd snippets I hear tell me that it does a lot of great work with young people all around the world.

But the reason for this post is that my friend and fellow bookseller, David Chant, has this book coming out fairly soon. It tells the story of the Boys’ Brigade around the world and its aim is to help raise funds  for the BB in parts of the world where things are somewhat tougher than we have them in the UK: places like Africa, where organisations like the BB are a real God-send to young people.

Trouble is, David’s in a bit a trouble. He’s just celebrated his 100th birthday (born 23rd Feb 1910, according to his facebook profile, and I always believe what people write on their facebook profiles) so you’d think with that wealth of life experience he’d have life sorted. Maybe he has; but his publishers haven’t and they’re getting a tad nervous about demand for the book. Which means if you don’t put in an order for it, instead of it raising funds for the BB, David’s going to end up subsidising it. That’s gonna take a hefty chunk out of his pension, and he’s already having to subsidise his day job out of it; rumour has it the Aussies have made him take his hammock down from in the office and are expecting him to work for a living.

So do yourself, David and the world of the Boys’ Brigade a favour, please: if you’re a BB member or a fan, or know someone else who is, head on over to your nearest bookshop — ideally your nearest Christian bookshop — and order a copy.

Find Planet BB on facebook Follow Planet BB on twitter

Planet BB: The Boys’ Brigade Around The World
Compiled and edited by David Chant
9781858583334 | £12.95
Brewin Books Ltd

Wesley Owen and the Mystery of the Missing Bookshop December 22, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Bookshop Ramblings, Knockabout.
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11 comments

Yesterday evening I decided I’d better get on with updating UKCBD with details of the new shop ownerships that have emerged over the last few days. It proved a tad more complicated than I’d expected because, despite counting and re-counting, I couldn’t get the list of branches to tally.

Here’s where I’ve got to:

Branches in Administration
(or status uncertain)
Aberdeen
Bedford
Belfast
Brighton
Carlisle
Cheltenham
Chester
Croydon
Dundee
Edinburgh
Falkirk
Harrogate
Harrow
Inverness
Leeds
Liverpool
Macclesfield
Manchester
Nottingham
Southampton
South Woodford
Sutton
Walsall
Watford
Weston-Super-Mare
Woking
Worthing
Branches Taken Over
by CLC

Bolton
Cambridge
Coventry
Guildford
Kingston-Upon-Thames
Stockport
Branches Taken Over
by Koorong

Bath
Birmingham
Bristol
Bromley
Coleraine
Derby
Glasgow
York

Looks fairly straightforward, doesn’t it? Until you start counting … and discover not 40 but 41 branches, not 26 but 27 either in administration or status uncertain (I say ‘status uncertain’ advisedly because one, presumably, isn’t in administration).

I went back to the press releases, to November and yesterday: definitely 40 branches, 14 sold and 26 remaining — evidently, I’d miscounted: Biblica’s senior management surely know how many branches of Wesley Owen they’ve been trying to dispose of.

I checked my copy of the Booksellers Association Directory of Members: 41 branches there too. Must be out of date, even though the online version concurs (screenshot of search result). Where better to check, then, than Wesley Owen’s own shop finder? Alas, too late: they’d beat me to it and removed all the non-Koorang acquired branches. No worries, mate: Google cache to the rescue – as cached 11th Dec 2009 (pdf, 258kb):

Wesley Owen Store Finder, as at 11 Dec 2009

Wesley Owen Store Finder, as at 11 Dec 2009

With apologies to the good folks from Oz, but tie me kangaroo down, sport — would you look at that: 41 branches!

So if there’s anyone out there who can tell me which of the 27 remaining branches has somehow quietly disappeared during the last couple of weeks, please, I’d be most grateful so that I can update my records…

Now, what was that someone said about getting the facts right?? In all seriousness: is it any wonder that an organisation that can’t keep track of its own shops can’t manage its finances?

Of course, I could be wrong: maybe a branch really did close down and we all managed to miss it, in which case I apologise to the branch staff concerned for not updating UKCBD at the time… but in the meantime: don’t tell the administrators: someone might be about to acquire a shop free of charge!

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