Dead Pool 2011

We’re almost a couple of months into the new year, and the dust has well settled on my New Year’s eve trivial pursuit and bollinger-sponsored ushering in of 2011. A new year gives one the chance to take stock, to re-appraise, to set one’s priorities for the year ahead. These are very personal, specific, but above all, dull tasks to report, and hence it’s my dead pool that you really want to hear about, don’t you?

For the uninitiated, this is a marvellous parlour game for all the family. It’s not exactly fast-paced, bearing in mind that you’ll have to wait 365 days to find out who’s won. But it’s free, and you really do get out what you put in. Those who approach the game with a casual air of picking names out of a hat will rarely succeed, but those who spend hours engaged in careful research will find themselves richly rewarded.

So here’s how you play. Decide how many names you’re going to pick (everyone picks the same, and I’d suggest 8 for starters). This is the number of celebrities you are going to have to gamble that will die in the next year. You can pick them by order, and then you receive 8 points (on a sliding scale down to 1 point) for your number one choice. There’s no rules that apply re: celebrity ages and health conditions, but you should be aware that though no points are awarded for flair picks, the sense of satisfaction one gains when a real gamble pays off can’t be underestimated (think of the 15 year old Schoolboy Ben who picked out Freddie Mercury back in 1991, or those more up to date gamblers who went for Brittney Murphy a couple of years back).

I’ve posted my choices on twitter already, but this is my final selection. In case you feel that I’ve boobed by missing out a couple of obvious ones, I’ve refused to pick the following people:

Zsa Zsa Gabor: as much of a gimme as you can get; in fact, I’m not sure that she hasn’t croaked already. She seems to be losing limbs at a rate of knots, and she’ll have turned into some kind of OAP version of ‘boxing Helena’ well before the year is out. She’s the dead pool equivalent of the 1 yard open-goal tap in, and hence is not one to be celebrated.

Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Kim Jong-Il: they may well all already be dead. Even if they are, or if they pop off during 2011, we’ll never know about it, and as they get lowered into the ground, we’ll still be assured that it’s nothing more than a cold, and that it’s a mere percautionary measure.

The list:

1. Bruce Forsyth: rapidly becoming a liability, even on saturday night snooze-fest strictly, and makes Paddy McGuinness look like a master of the auto-cue. Undoubtedly a trooper, but looks to be on borrowed time.

2. Kerry Katona: the ‘I’ve got my life back on track’ mantra isn’t fooling me. You’re still doing ads for Iceland, and you’re only one batch of dodgy showbiz sherbert away from me being quids in.

3. Bob Dylan: this is more about gut-instinct. Health scares, limited output for the last few years and he must be getting on more than a bit. Still sings like he’s listening to one of his own songs on an ipod, but that’s not a reason to put him on the list on its own.

4. Gregg Wallace: sad to report this one, as no-one licks chocolate mousse from a spoon quite like Gregg. Have you seen him lately on Masterchef though? He looks like a barrow-boy who’s eaten all his produce, and the barrow too. He’s gaining weight in a hurry, and looks to be out like Atkins.

5. Terry Christian: can’t believe he’s still in work, but he also looks like a skeleton these days. Reminds me of the chap from the Stereo MCs.

6. Daphne Fowler: you know, the old one (oldest one?) from eggheads. Bit of a cheap pick, but can’t see her getting through the winter.

7. Margaret Thatcher: she almost made it into my Castro etc list, though I suspect there’ll be a few street parties when she heads up to the great trade union in the sky. Shame to see her go, but when you’re too ill to have a cup of horlicks at your own party, the next 12 months look a very long way away.

8. James Corden: I’m not sure that being fat and a shamelessly un-funny England footballer suck-up qualifies our James to be a victim of the grim reaper at any time in the next 300 days or so, but wouldn’t it be great? Wouldn’t it?

So there you have mine. Who’s in yours?

Beat the Budget

After my rantings about football and mindless TV, I thought it was high time that I started helping my fellow man, rather than use this particular medium merely to let off steam. Seeing as this is *emergency* budget day, which makes it sound all the more exciting, and there’s a whole lot of belt tightening in the air, I’ve decided to produce my five point plan to help all those people most affected by VAT increases and other such things. I assume that all people who are poor fall into this category, so it’s also my chance to feel good about myself by giving a few tips to those less fortunate than I (and you, because if you’re reading this, you must have a computer, or a friend that has one, or you’re in an internet cafe; hang on, that means you might be poor…)

Anyway, here goes:

1. Don’t smoke. Smoking was last cool in the 1990s, when I smoked (coincidentally), and back then cigarettes were also about £2 per pack. Hanging around outside a dingy office block with four other drones, trying to light up with one hand and hold an umbrella with another doesn’t make you look like the marlboro cowboy. Total saving: about a fiver a week.

2. Don’t buy a lottery ticket. When the BSE crisis was in full flow, the chances of you contracting it from diseased beefy spinal cord was about 1 in 11 million – Government tag line: you’ve nothign to worry about. When the lottery first came on the scene, the chance of winning the thing was estimated at about 1 in 14 million – tag line: ‘it could be you’. No it won’t be. And you’ve got to sit through 40 minutes of Nick Knowles just to get to the numbers. And there is just as much of a chance of 1,2,3,4,5,6 coming up as any other combination. Except you’ll only win about 75p even if these are your numbers. Total saving: a pound a week.

3. Don’t put flags on your car. Even if they are free, and you only do it every two years, any effort you make to support your country, whilst instead looking like a total tit and embarrassing said country in the process is a waste of time, money, effort and all those minutes your mother spend squeezing you out. Total saving: Coppers per two years.

4. Don’t buy ready meals/eat less food. Even the cheap readies from Iceland are relatively expensive for what crap goes into them. And incidentally, the way you do a dinner party is not to make five different frozen microwave meals, and then serve them all at once to your guests. ‘What’s for supper?’ ‘Well, you’re having chicken Korma, but Mandy’s having lasagne’. Even dinner party novices might smell a rat. If you do the cooking yourself, and don’t eat like a Texan expecting the nuclear winter, you should be able to scrape a few more pennies together each week. Total saving: about a tenner a week.

5. Radio over TV. It’s better, and you don’t need a license. Radio has TMS, 6 music, bbc 7, radio 4 and Milton Jones. TV has Jeremy Kyle, Jim Rosenthal, James Corden and live from studio 5. No contest. Total saving: about 3 pounds per week.

Right – I make that just under £20 you could save with my ‘beat the budget’ plan. Which equates to about 6 large bottles of white lightning. And go on, my son, you really deserve it.