Mack Nuggets

12Nov18

Here’s what I’ve been up to on Fix Radio lately, including;

Fancy Dress, The movie of your life, Mistaken Identity, Neighbours, Animal Attack, Blags and Scams.

Craic on!

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No one likes to be lied to, so it’s especially annoying when someone writes to you and there’s a lie in the first line.

I opened a letter today from Nick Lane, the Managing Director of Customer Care at BT. It said, “Hello Graham, You’re eligible for an ultrafast upgrade. It’s an exclusive deal we’ve made just for you”.

Just for me, really? Out of the 9.28 million UK retail broadband subscribers, Nick Lane has decided that only Graham Mack is eligible for this deal?

The letter goes on, “Get the UK’s first and only broadband with a 100Mb speed guarantee, even at peak times, for a monthly price of only £44.99”. We’re so confident in our connection that we’re putting our money where our mouth is. – if your speeds drop below 100mbps we’ll give you £20 back”.

I’m not sure you understand how basic business transactions work Nick. If I pay you £44.99 for something and you don’t give it to me, I would expect to get £44.99 back, not £20.

To answer the question you asked at the end of your letter, no, I’m not ready for life in the Ultrafast lane, especially when it’s sold to me in this way by the Ultra-dodgy Nick Lane.

If you’re going to send me any more letters like this, you should change the name of your company from B.T. to B.S..

Craic on!

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IMG_6142

I won’t be playing Britain’s favourite Christmas song on the radio.

“Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues is consistently voted Britain’s most popular Christmas song but thanks to a ruling by the broadcast regulator, Ofcom, I won’t be playing it on London’s Fix Radio, the radio station for builders and tradespeople.

In August this year, Ofcom upheld a complaint from a listener to my Breakfast Show on BOBfm from back in July. On the air, the operator of a speed camera was described as a ‘scumbag’ by a caller and as a ‘maggot’ by me.

BOBfm was found to be in breach of ‘Rule 2.3 of the broadcasting code which states, “Broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…Such material may include offensive language…[or] discriminatory treatment or language”.

By the time Ofcom upheld the listener complaint, I had left BOBfm and I’m now the Program Director at Fix Radio in London.

Ofcom have made it very clear that the words ‘scumbag’ and ‘maggot’ are offensive and not suitable for broadcast. As Programme Director, my first job is to protect the radio station’s licence. ‘Scumbag’ and ‘maggot’ are lyrics that can be clearly heard in ‘Fairytale of New York’. I don’t want to put Fix Radio’s licence in jeopardy so have been forced to remove the most popular song at Christmas time from our playlist. I would warn all other radio stations in Britain not to play ‘Fairytale of New York’ because Ofcom, as the UK’s communications regulator, has set a clear precedent about language that cannot be broadcast. As the exact same words are used in the song, Ofcom will be forced to take action, otherwise they will be seen as inconsistent or biased.”

Read about the original Ofcom ruling here

This morning I heard the DAB radio station, ‘Heart Extra Christmas’ play ‘Fairytale of New York’. Here are some of the lyrics that were broadcast at a time when children could have been listening,

“You’re a bum
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last”

The irony is that they played the song straight after a station ID that said, “Turn up the festive feel-good”. 

Someone should complain.

Craic on!

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Word Up

04Nov18

Words

“I woke up in a Soho doorway, a policeman knew my name”

That’s the opening line of the first verse of The Who song, ‘Who Are You’. It’s a great example of what radio consultants like to call “Word Economy”, the art of saying as much as you can with as few words as possible. It’s a story told in only twelve words.

Most radio presenters would use a lot more words to tell that story. It would go something like this, “I hope your weekend was better than mine. We all like a drink but just lately I think I’ve been overdoing it. I went out in Soho again on Saturday night and by the end of the evening I was a mess. I remember falling asleep in a doorway. I heard this voice calling my name and when I opened my eyes it was a policeman. It was the same policeman that I’ve had a run in with after other big nights out”.  – That’s 83 words to tell the exact same story. Some presenters could tell the story in fewer words but not many can match Pete Townshend’s twelve.

Loads of song lyrics paint a picture and tell a story.

The Beatles, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – “Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been”.
Paul McCartney doesn’t use the word ‘lonely’ till the chorus but it’s right there in the opening line without being said.

The Rolling Stones, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ – “I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis”.
You instantly get a mental picture of that honky tonk woman and the bar.

The Kinks – ‘Come Dancing’ – “He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week all for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek”.
Ray Davies tells you all you need to know about this bloke’s desperate love life.

What about this from Ed Sheeran? The song is ‘Galway Girl’, instead of describing the kind of bar they were in and listing which brands of Irish whiskey, bourbon, stout, and scotch got her drunk and made her dance to Van Morrison, he just says,
She took Jamie as a chaser, Jack for the fun 
She got Arthur on the table with Johnny riding as a shotgun
Chatted some more, one more drink at the bar
Then put Van on the jukebox, got up to dance”

If you’re a radio presenter who plays music and you want to learn all about word economy, listen to the lyrics in the songs you’re playing.

If you still don’t believe you can tell a full and moving story without many words, how about this six word advertisement that was placed in the local newspaper, The Spokane Press, in 1910;

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

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Paris is the city of love, so where better for Julie and I to go and celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary? If you’re planning to visit the most romantic city on earth, I hope this blog will give you some ideas and inspiration for your trip.

After work on Friday night we got on the Eurostar at London St Pancras and two hours and fifteen minutes later we were at the Gare du Nord. We booked a hotel within walking distance of the railway station, so as soon as we got to Paris we could check in without needing transfers.

After breakfast the next morning we headed back to Gare du Nord and got on the Metro. Once you work out the colour coded maps, numbers of the lines and where to change trains, the Metro is really easy to use, and cheap. It costs €1.90 per trip and it’s cheaper if you buy multiple tickets. You can buy ten tickets for €14.90 and they’re on sale from vending machines in every station.image1

We made our way around the city on the Metro and did a lot of walking as well. Most parks in Paris don’t have paved footpaths, they’re more of a fine sandy gravel. If the weather is dry, you’ll notice it on your shoes. Here’s how my black suede boots looked half way through our first day…Shoes

There’s a lot to do in Paris, so you may want to have a plan. We found this to-do list which fluttered down from the Eiffel Tower. List

It’s a very photogenic city, almost every picture you take comes out like a postcard. Here’s an eyeful of the tower I took from Place du Trocadero.Eyefull

If you’re English, don’t make the mistake of ordering a cup of tea. The French can’t make tea. Here’s what we ended up with…Tea Picture

On our first day in town we went to Notre-Dame Cathedral. It’s free to get in but check what’s on that day. We couldn’t go inside because there was a big service going on. They take Catholicism very seriously in France, which is why they’d even booked a “Pope And The Cardinals” tribute act…Pope

Instead, we took a nice walk to the Musée de l’Orangerie and stood in front of “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet…Lillies

When you pay to go to the loo in Paris you don’t, “spend a penny” because they use Euros. What you’re actually doing is “Euro-nating”. These toilets in Paris are so popular they even have a gift shop!Toilet

We started our second day in Paris at the Musee National Picasso. It was free to go in because it was the first Sunday of the month. Inside it’s not just paintings by Picasso, there’s also work by the artists that influenced him like Matisse and Renoir. I couldn’t resist taking a selfie with Rembrandt’s selfie from 1660…Rembrant

The highlight of the trip was at Sainte Chapelle. We’d gone there to see the amazing stained glass windows.

Glass

A bloke in front of us got down on one knee and proposed to his girl. Well, they don’t call it the city of love for nothing!

I hope they’re as happy as we are in 31 years time.

Craic on!

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Hippy Dippy

23Sep18

Meditation

I don’t get yoga, more to the point, I don’t get people who “go to yoga”.

Hey, I like meditation, it’s better than sitting around and doing nothing. – That’s an old joke and I love the truth in it. One of the BEST things about meditation is that it IS sitting around doing nothing. It’s the main reason I like it and why I’m really good at it.

I also like meditation because I don’t need to buy any special equipment, dress a certain way, interact with anyone, show up at a specific place at a specific time, be told what to do by anyone and best of all, I don’t have to do anything physical.

It’s for these reasons that I am repulsed by yoga. Yoga has taken my favourite thing and turned it into everything I hate. To practice yoga you have to buy a special mat, wear ridiculous clothes, join a group, interact with people, bend, stretch and hurt yourself.

On top of that, they even call it a “class”. That brings back traumatic memories of an experience I had in my childhood, SCHOOL!

I don’t want some oddball who regards themselves as superior to me telling me I’m not doing something properly that I already know how to do. Yoga teachers actually tell you how to breath! And when it comes to meditation, which we’ve already established is, doing nothing, my ability in that area is unsurpassed. If doing nothing was a sport, I’d be the world champion.

It’s for these reasons that you will never find me learning how to improve my downward dog, while being told to breath into my right toe by a ponytailed, lentil-eating basket weaver.

Craic on!

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Phone

It’s amazing how some slogans perfectly fit the product or service they’re attached to.

I’m on a sim only deal with my phone and pay £20 a month for 20 gigabytes of data. I only use 6 gigabytes. My current contract is coming to an end so I called and asked for a deal with a lower limit.

The only deals they have, range from 5GB (too small) to 18 GB (too large) and even if I switched to 18GB I would only save £1 a month.

I told the person on the phone that after 10 years with this company, I was going to shop around and see what other providers could offer. I was amazed when he said, “OK” and did NOTHING to try to make me stay.

This mobile phone provider has a new slogan. It is, “The future is exciting. Ready?”

I am excited because I know I’ll find a better deal somewhere else and yes, I AM ready!

Craic on!

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The King And I

25Aug18

Hand

When you get to a certain level of wealth and power you must think you can control everything and everyone around you.

I was driving along the King’s Road, Chelsea the other day. A bloke holding a shopping bag was stood on the painted broken line in the middle of the road. As I got closer to him, he took half a step forward into my lane and held his hand up with his palm facing me as if he was a policeman ordering me to stop. He wanted to finish crossing the road.

There was no one behind me, all he had to do was wait till I went by. I gave him a wide berth but there was no way I was going to stop for him.

After I went past him, I noticed in my rear-view mirror that he did cross the road and walked to a parked Rolls Royce on the other side. A chauffeur wearing a cap had got out and was holding the back door open for him.

It was at that moment that I didn’t feel so bad about driving past him a moment earlier, especially as I’d given him a hand signal of my own.

Craic on!

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Nothing Is Real

19Aug18

Everything is not as it seems.

You get to do some interesting stuff when you’re the Program Director of Fix Radio, the Commercial Radio Station in London for builders. Saturday morning, I was invited to the filming of a commercial for one of our advertisers Hitachi, who make power tools, as they are changing their name to HiKOKE.

Five professional dancers where hired and dressed as builders. It was really interesting watching as they learned their moves for various choreographed routines.

The shoot took place on a building site in Battersea. Three apartment blocks are going up. Some people have already moved into one of the blocks, so right now they live on the building site.

I feel sorry for one bleary-eyed resident who had clearly just woken up. When they opened the curtains, they saw a team of men in hard hats and hi-viz jackets dancing in unison.

They must have thought, what are they putting in the builder’s tea?

Craic on!

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Radio newsreaders are rubbish when it comes to reporting about Space.

Yesterday I heard a news presenter on a commercial station say, “It’s back to the drawing board for Nasa”. Immediately I thought that something catastrophic had happened to the rocket that was due to carry the Parker Solar Probe into space. It turned out the launch was cancelled due to a glitch. It eventually lifted off on its mission to the sun less than 24 hours later, hardly “back to the drawing board”. It’s no different than any vehicle that doesn’t leave on time, it just leaves at a different time. When a train is cancelled, Thameslink don’t get a team of engineers in to redesign the train from scratch!

It’s not the first time I’ve heard a confusing news report on the radio about a launch. A few months ago I heard that a rocket had lifted off from “The Kennedy Centre”. I thought that’s odd, I didn’t know that they fired rockets into space from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Why would NASA move it’s launch site 866 miles to a theatre complex in Washington DC from their usual launch facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida, (The Kennedy Space Centre)?

Another time, I heard a BBC radio newsreader explain that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic was going to “blast space tourists into orbit”. A quick check on Wikipedia and she would have found out that Virgin Galactic, “aims to provide SUBORBITAL flights to space tourists”.

I was once told by a senior news person at the BBC that the reason why science is reported so badly in the media is that most people who go into journalism are arts graduates.

I just hope that the news presenter I heard reporting on the launch of the probe to the sun realises that it will still make it, even though it was launched at night.

Craic on!

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Carmageddon

28Jul18

No Parking

My brain has a strange way of embellishing things to make me feel better.

Up until recently I’ve been spending most of my weekends on the road. After a week of doing Breakfast Shows on BOBfm in Hertfordshire, I’ve been getting up at 3am on Sundays, driving up the M1, M6 and M62 to present Sunday mornings at BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool, then at noon I’d drive south again and get home at about 6pm. It’s a round trip of almost 400 miles.

A couple of Sundays ago, I made it home after my epic journey but couldn’t park because someone was in my allocated parking space outside our block of flats.

Just as I was about to start pushing the intercom of every flat, a bloke came out of the front door. I said to him, “You wouldn’t happen to know whose car that is, would you?” He said, “Yes, it belongs to my mother, I’ll call her”. Then he left in his car.

About ten minutes later, nothing had happened and another bloke come out of the front door. I asked him if he knew anything about the car in my space and it turned out he was the brother of the first fella and said his mother would be down in half an hour. I said, “Half an hour? Tell her to move it right now, she’s in my space, which according to the deeds to the flat, I own!”

He went back inside, another ten minutes went by, so I parked my car right in front of the car that was in my space, so she wouldn’t be able to get out. I left a note under the windscreen wiper with my mobile number on it.

I went upstairs to our flat and started work on a shelf Julie and I were putting up. About twenty minutes later, my phone went. It was the bloke from downstairs asking me to move my car. I said, “I’ll be down in half an hour” and hung up.

He rang straight back. He said, “If you don’t move your car right now, I’m going to call the police”. I carried on fitting the shelf but Julie had had enough, grabbed her keys and went down to move the car.

When she got down there, the bloke WAS on the phone to the police. Julie moved the car and he ranted about me being passive aggressive (trust me, I may have been calm but there was nothing passive about it).

Last night, I had a really weird dream about the whole thing. In the dream, a policeman actually showed up and made me move my car.

I was really annoyed that the cop was having a go at me and didn’t have the guts to arrest the lady for trespassing on my property. So I made him say out loud, what I wanted to say to him. I said, “Excuse me officer, how do I get a ticket to the next Policeman’s Ball?” and he said, “I’m sorry, the police don’t have any balls”.

Craic on!

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Radio Geek

Radio people who are interested in what other radio stations and other presenters have done call themselves, “geeks”, why is that?

Singers who study other artists don’t call themselves geeks. Guitarists who are inspired by other great players don’t call themselves geeks. Comedians who study the comedy of other great comics never refer to themselves as geeks, it’s only radio people.

True geeks are people that study an industry from the outside. A bloke who works in a library but knows every detail of the running of a railway is a geek, not the bloke who drives the train.

Someone who goes out of their way to learn more about the business they’re in and gets inspired by what other people have done isn’t a geek, they’re a professional and an asset to their employer.

What’s weird is that people outside of radio don’t call radio people geeks, radio people call THEMSELVES geeks. Some non-radio people actually think we’re cool!

Maybe people outside of radio, understand something that the self-identified geeks don’t, that this is show business and we are performers.

It’s been said that all performers are insecure. Maybe radio performers are the most insecure of all because they don’t even want to be seen.

Maybe they don’t want to be seen because they see themselves as geeks.

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London Calling

22Jul18

London Calling

In the latest episode of my show for America, Kim Wilde and Jeff Wayne talk about the space aliens that inspired their musical work. For Kim it was a close encounter and for Jeff it was H.G. Wells, The War Of The Worlds. They both chat about their amazing lives and careers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Listen to London Calling, Episode 68, here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-68-kim-wilde-and-jeff-wayne/

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Stop And Rob

Our new flat is in a great location. The block is right next door to a convenience store. I call that kind of shop a “Stop and Rob”. I’ve mentioned it on the radio a couple of times.

I went in there today, picked up a few things, said hello to the bloke behind the counter and asked if they sell non-alcoholic beer. He said, “No, we don’t get much call for it, don’t you drink at all then?” We got into a conversation about how I gave up drinking years ago because I did breakfast radio and when you get up before 4am and have to be at your best as early as you can, drinking the night before doesn’t help.

That’s when he stopped, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Wait, are you that geezer that’s been calling this place a Stop and Rob?” I sheepishly admitted that it was me and told him that if it bothered him, I wouldn’t call it that anymore.

I can’t face going back in there again so now I’ll have to find a new convenience store. Shame it won’t be as convenient.

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Mack Nuggets

14Jul18

Here’s what I’ve been up to on BOBfm lately, including:

Harry Kane; Stormy Daniels; Disaster at Titanic the Musical; A stuck story; The ultimate protest song; Miscommunication; What was on the roof of the car?; The gender bender; Why you should pee on your tomatoes; Andy Summers from The Police; Skiving; Neighbour from hell; Siri doesn’t work; A school trip story; A left behind story; The talking whale; The truth about the childhood obesity crisis; The lady shaving her legs in a public pool; The workplace toboggan team; Israel wins the Eurovision song contest; Why Britain is the greatest country on earth; Minimum pricing for booze in Scotland; Wolf whistling banned in France; The Ikea wardrobe disaster; Saying, “I love you” to a customer; the sinister truth about lego; A special birthday request; The vomit comet; The nickname misunderstanding; Expensive photographs; The truth about World Cup pundits; The camel beauty contest.

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London Calling

20Jun18

download

In the latest episode of my show for America;
A communication breakdown with Jane, why British kids are so fat, cheerless pop songs, stuff learned on a train, the cheap watch, the stupidity of the clean air day, the bike and neighbourhood disputes.

Listen to Episode 67 of London Calling here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-67/

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Atom

I heard a couple of powerful things on a train this week. Both of them relate to radio.

The first was a lady I overheard talking to her friend. She said, “I’m reading a book about the people who first split the atom. It’s getting boring now, it’s all about the science, not the people”.

I thought, wow, if only all radio programmers could hear that. I settled back into my seat, put my earbuds in and started listening to the excellent Brandwidth On Demand podcast by David Martin and Kipper McGee. They were paying tribute to Nick Michaels, the voice actor, writer, producer and narrator who passed away recently.

They played a clip from an interview they’d done with him. They asked, what separates a great radio station from a mediocre one? His answer was, “One word, humanity. How human is it?” He went on to point out that radio is rushing in the other direction, trying to automate and take every human out of the equation. Nick said, “It’s only the humanity of a radio station that makes people stick to it”.

Nick was right, great radio stations are programmed using a combination of art, craft and science. Why do so many radio stations sound like they’re programmed using science alone? The science of broadcasting is important but once you become totally obsessed with quarter hour maintenance, horizontal promotion, positioning and music research, you take all of the humanity out. I’ve worked for program directors whose approach is so clinical they should be wearing white coats.

Apart from talk stations, how many commercial music stations have callers on the air for anything other than contests? Where’s the interaction, the banter?

Just like the lady on the train said, if it’s all about the science not the people, it’s getting boring.

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London Calling

06Jun18

Magnus

In the latest episode of my show for America; Part two of my chat with Magnus Walker, the Urban Outlaw talks about his Porsches, his book and how to get into the fashion industry.

As well as that, should men fight back against a ban on wolf whistling? No more cheap booze in Scotland and lost cars.

Listen to Episode 66 of London Calling, here;
http://www.talkers.com/talkersradio/london-calling/london-calling-with-graham-mack-episode-66-magnus-walker-part-2/

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On the 40th anniversary of the double album, War Of The Worlds, Jeff Wayne talks about how the project came about, his life, moving from the USA to the UK, working with David Essex and Richard Burton and how Paul Rodgers missed out on being on the original recording. He also talks about the new live show.

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Blame Storming

02Jun18

Fat kid

Why are your kids so fat?

Before I reveal the answer, let me just put your mind at rest, it’s not YOUR fault because this is Britain. Britain is the greatest country on earth because when you live here, NOTHING is your fault.

If you can’t find a job, it’s because of immigration, if you can’t give up smoking it’s because the National Health Service stop smoking services is rubbish and if you’re fat, well you’re spoilt for choice there.

According to the media, you’re fat for lots of reasons including, two-for-one offers at the supermarket, junk food commercial, labels on food and my favourite, you’re fat because your doctor is fat.

Don’t worry, it’s got nothing to do with you eating too much and not getting enough exercise. This is Britain remember, where NOTHING is YOUR fault.

This week, we were told why your kids are so fat. It’s got nothing to do with you feeding them too much fatty food and sugary drinks and driving them everywhere. No, they’re fat because of Tony the Tiger, the Milky Bar Kid and the Honey Monster.

The health and social care select committee has called for a ban on “brand-generated characters or licensed TV and film characters” in attempt the tackle childhood obesity.

The TV chef, Jamie Oliver, told the committee that cartoons and superheroes should not be used to “peddle rubbish” and warned Theresa May to act now as “the future of the NHS is at stake”.

Now just wait a minute Jamie! Why are you so keen to blame cartoon characters?

I grew up with the Milky Bar Kid, Tony The Tiger and the Honey Monster and when I was a kid, we were all skinny. There were two reasons for this. First of all, none of our mothers knew how to cook. We ate brown chips, fried in oil that had been re-used in the same pan for years. We changed the oil in the cortina more often than we changed the oil in the chip pan. These chips would be served up with something as unappetising as cold corned beef. It was cold because it had come out of a tin days earlier and had been stored between two plates in the fridge.

The second reason we were all skinny was school meals. We were served liver that looked like it was made by Dunlop, peas that could have been used as ammunition followed by a desert of frogspawn.

When the food you’re given is almost inedible you don’t tend to eat much.

Around twenty years ago, along came Jamie Oliver. With his TV show and books, he’s taught young mums how to cook meals that are actually tasty. And he didn’t stop there, he went on to campaign for better school meals.

Now, according to official figures, school meals are so good that a third of children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school!

Jamie Oliver is the reason your kids are so fat!

Craic on!

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