Reading the words “Iggy Pop’s cockatoo ‘Biggy Pop’”, you do fear the worst. What has Twitter come to, to make such a crude suggestion? Isn’t Twitter a safe place of kindness and encouragement, free of such base immaturities? But no, Iggy Pop’s Biggy Pop has a beak. It is a magnificent creature – a pink mane not seen since Toyah Willcox and the best name on the cocktaoo block. We glimpsed it briefly in Iggy’s Christmas Greetings video in 2013, larking about on its owner’s bare chest, but now it’s gone full millennial and got its own Instagram account.
And what an account it is: a touching tale of beast and bird. Biggy lovingly nibbles Iggy as they listen to his namesake’s gansta rap; he snuggles into his shoulder nook; and he twirls gracefully like a ballet dancer when Iggy serenades him with the blues. I haven’t seen such an adorable display of animal affection since Ross and his monkey Marcel in Friends. If TV commissioners know what’s good for them they’ll reprise One Man And His Dog for Iggy and Biggy – a worldwide smash awaits about One Man And His Co… On second thoughts, they might need to give the title some thought.
Let’s get the obvious question out of the way: is Alex Michu talking about toy hamsters or toys for hamsters? The answer will have a substantial impact on the tone of this review. If it’s the latter, we’re talking high marks, and high praise. The former, not so much. Because ultimately, there are few rodents more anodyne than hamsters. Dark rumours of cannibalism aside, hamsters have very little personality. They lack the preposterous squeaks and amusing heft of guinea pigs, aren’t as cute as mice, have a less interesting name than gerbils, and can never hope to match the badassery of the rodent world’s true bogeyman, the rat. There’s a reason no one’s written a series of books about the adventures of a plucky hamster: no sod would read them. So why any child or adult would want a toy that mimics the behaviour of a hamster, I can’t quite fathom. You may as well ask for a toy brick or a toy Stephen Mulhern.
But toys for hamsters: that is something I can get behind. Truly, some of the most imaginative minds around today are working in hamster toy construction. Recognising the utter tedium of the hamster, these pioneers have spent the past half-century devising more and more elaborate equipment for them: vast assemblages of multicoloured tubes and half-pipes and loop-the-loops designed to make them seem more interesting than they actually are. The hamster wheel, the hamster ball, the… whatever this thing is: hamster playtime is a riot of colour and adventure. In other words, the complete opposite of the creatures themselves.
Toy hamsters: 2/10
Toys for hamsters: 9/10
This sign must have become dislodged in the wind, you think. It’s fallen, and it’s just tipped arse-over-elbow on its nail axis. But then you look closer. It’s been nailed that way, upside down, on purpose. You realise this. And then the questions come.
Who does that? Who nails in that sign? The way I see it there are only three possibilities. The first is that the sign was quite innocently put up that way by a well-meaning yet disastrously vacant idiot. The second it that this is your classic practical jape, possibly played by a pair of shirtless American frat jocks called Brad and Blaine, after a couple of those minuscule, piss-weak beers in cups that Americans insist get them drunk enough to act like spanners. The third is that the sign is the work of a true, soulless, Machiavellian genius.
Think about it. What’s the perfect booby trap? One that leaves no evidence of wrongdoing, is apparently a freak, natural accident, and one the Health and Safety Executive can’t touch. There is a sign, technically, so the HSE is happy. But by the time you’ve turned your head upside down to read it, and spent 30 brow-creasing seconds furiously remembering what a “frond” is, one of those two arboreal bludgeons is hurtling towards your bonce, soon to knock you out colder than a Cheryl Fernandez-Versini X Factor cuddle.
You wake up, your shoes and your cash are gone, and you’ve learned a valuable lesson. In the inexplicable lexicon of Rio Ferdinand, you’ve been merced. Well done, sign genius. Well done indeed.
I begin at the beginning with my employment as the chief unguent applicator to the Pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai. It looked good on the CV and my hands have never been softer. But all in all the work was repetitive and I didn’t find myself ideally suited to the conditions of slavery. 6/10
As an eternal being I have enjoyed any number of exciting posts that have matched my skillset but, let me tell you, I’ve endured a few “dark ages” as well! One of these came during the “dark ages”, where I worked as a manure weaver for 50 years. 3/10
At some point in your life a change becomes as good as a rest, and so it was that in 1458 I moved to Florence and became a polymath. During my time in the kingdom I invented the hoverboard (an idea unfortunately ahead of its time), designed buildings that were the envy of the world (and sadly collapsed on their occupants) and completed the world’s first Magic Eye painting. 8/10
The Victorian era was a great time for getting rich, unless you were a colonial subject which, due to an unfortunate administrative mix-up, I was. As a result I was systematically deprived of my land, my legal rights and my status as a human being. I was also forced to grow a massive moustache. 1/10
And so to today, where I became a journalist at precisely the time that newspapers stopped making money. Fortunately I have other skills, such as inspiring in strangers the urge to write “did you get paid for writing this?”. These skills are currently well used. 5/10