Friday, 18 February 2011

We are Family

When the Tickles twins flew into the St Cake’s playground in floods of tears I first feared that Jamie Oliver had been at the School Dinners.  It transpired they’d been subjected to a barrage of taunts concerning their father’s armchair auditing antics. 

Worse still, lyrics such as ‘Fattycakes Fattycakes Vexer Man’ suggested their parents had put them up to it. This smarted. I was feeling increasingly ashamed of my mounting failures to get a decent answer from my chums at Eland House, having had section 14(1) of the FOI Act thrown at me again this week on the flimsiest of pretexts:

I have even spotted signs of the odd crack in the lady-wife’s usually solid support of my endeavours, with armchair sandwich deliveries ground to a virtual standstill. Mrs T, if you’re reading, please tell me you’re not for turning!

But in all this familial gloom, a recent ray of sunshine. I was delighted to see that a chap called Tony Maycock had submitted a most articulate and reasoned Freedom of Information request to DCLG.  He sensibly challenges the vexatious nature of my queries, and requests evidence of the irritation and distress they have allegedly caused. As well as probing the matter of the infamous seven- course Eland House breakfast

 May I thank you Mr Maycock, on behalf of both the Tickles family and my other kin-the growing family of armchair auditors. You are a true gentleman.

Mr Pickle’s bloated figures have, of course, been something of a media talking point this week. It’s clear that he requires our help with even the most basic information:

So come on brothers and sisters, it’s time get to work on your own FOI requests! Your Uncle Eric needs you! We are family! Blood is thicker than water ( erm...if somewhat thinner than Eland House black pudding)

Monday, 14 February 2011

Tickle Your Fancy

Today hard working Christian families up and down our fine land will celebrate the martyr of Valentine. A man who stood up for what he believed and cherished in. Yesteryear people gave theirs lives in pursuit of truth, now it seems it is enough just make stuff up and destroy the living of thousands and not bat an eyelid in pursuit of some hair brained political ideology. I suspect that when Uncle Eric has shuffled off this mortal coil he will not be sainted though. As for my plans today;  I will pop out a lunchtime and buy Mrs Tickles some sexy red nylon undies from Strutton Ground Market – yes Uncle Eric nylon, not rubber – calm down.

Before I do that I hastily penned some romantic messages for my favourites DCLG colleagues.

My first is in evidence but not in hunch
My second in corroborate but not in deny
My third in bright and also thick
And my last is in appreciated but not in hated.

And not to be forgotten…

Mr first is in grin but not in sincere
My second is in narcolepsy but not in awake
My third in vain and also vulgar
My third in struggling and not in competent
My last is in altogether but not in millionaire

Have a lovely day,
A not so secret admirer

Currant Bun Theft!

Hello Chums!

What a day! I nearly choked on my third breakfast on the 7.17 into Waterloo East while casting a sneaky peak at a fellow commuter's copy of popular daily rag 'The Sun'. My roving eyes immediately alighted on a glorious outdoor image of one of nature's beauties sporting a rather fetching blue two-piece. Yes, it really was none other than a be-suited Uncle Eric accompanied by the headline 'Exclusive-Minister puts a cap on pens'.

This seemed rather familiar. Snatching my own copy from the cleaner's clutches, my suspicions were soon confirmed. The 'exclusive' story by Tom Newton Dunn, about ballpoint pen restrictions at Eland House, was based largely on my recent Freedom of Information request and the response it elicited from the nice folk at DCLG. Either that or someone has been tapping my phone!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not averse to my odd moment the sun (generally having liberally basted the ever -expanding solar panel with factor fifty, and taken off the rubber knickers -geddit?) but I believe the old adage 'credit where credits due ' could have been written with the big (all-in-it-together) society in mind. So, I am looking forward to being paid handsomely for my contribution to this Sun 'exclusive'. So come on Mr Dominic Mohan! -render unto Derek that which is Derek’s! Or a certain armchair auditor will be sending a less fragrant scoop in your direction!

Yours exclusively

Derek Tickles

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Young Guns (Go For It!)

I am often telling my twins that there is a time to be funny and a time to be serious. Alas today's FoI request to Uncle Eric is very serious. I have tired to lighten the mood a little but the implications that his special boyz are interfering with the running of a government department are serious. Civil Servants have to to be able to discharge their duties without political influence. Have the Special Advisors at DCLG grown too powerful?

Dear Chums

Last week I happened to come across Grant Shapps in the gents. There he was looking at himself in the mirror combing his hair and humming a tune. That tune stayed with me all day and it took a while to recall it was actually “I’m Your Man” by Wham!  Great tune Grant, but I thought “‘Wake me up before you go-go” is more suitable given your fatigued state .

That night on the tube home I dug out my Sony Walkman from my bag and stuck in my favourite C90 cassette of Wham! hits. When I got to “Bad Boys” I had a cold shiver down my spine as a vision of Uncle Eric’s special advisors singing and dancing in rubber knickers clouded my mind. 

The reason for this horrendous apparition was due to a careless whisper that I heard concerning the activities of the Giles Kenningham and Nick Sheridan-Westlake. It appears they have been working hard but crossing boundaries and interfering with the sterling work of the civil servants in the department.

The Code of conduct for Special Advisors is very clear about what SpAds can and cannot do (see:

So can you please supply me with the following information?

1)      Has an instruction be given to DCLG staff that responses to Freedom of Information requests should be checked by SpAds before publication?
2)      Any emails, minutes or notes concerning SpAds involvement with the process, quality assurance or publication of responses to freedom of information requests
3)      Confirmation that SpAds and Minister are fully aware of the Special Advisers’ Code of Conduct.
4)      Policy documents relating to responding to Freedom of Information requests.

This has serious implications and I look forward to your objective response.

I’ve gotta have faith,

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Uncle Eric and his rubber knickers

A massive thanks to BrownhillsBob ( who pointed me to this fascinating Uncle Eric Pickles interview ( This is the inspiration for the latest bike related freedom of information request to DCLG. I must state categorically that I am not interested in Uncle Eric in rubber knickers at all. No. Never. No.

[  I was going to include an image of rubber knickers but after searching through 15 pages of google images I could not find anything suitable  ]

Dear Chums

Please please help me.

I am in real trouble with Mrs Tickles. Whilst she was upstairs last night bathing the twins I decided to do a bit of surfing on her iPhone. Sadly I did not hear her come back downstairs and she looked over my shoulder to see a rather unpleasant sight (or actually site). I tried to explain what I was doing and she was having none of it. So after a rather uncomfortable night on the sofa I thought I should try to resolve this marital impasse and contact you.

I guess you want to know what I was looking at? Well I will tell you but please dear reader do not enter this into google and make the mistake I made.  I had entered into google the words “rubber knickers”.

Yes there you go. Think what you like but I can assure you that I have not developed a kinky fetish. I was simply trying to understand what Uncle Eric was blabbering on about the other day.

Recently on a wonderful podcast ( ) Uncle Eric was interviewed about cycling. He said:

Well I mean, I’m a fat guy and me on a bicycle is not a pretty sight….Well, not everybody can pedal in rubber knickers up and down the place to go to work.”

I possibly agree with the first statement even without the reference to being on a bike but I am baffled why he wanted to mention rubber knickers. I am sorry but I am scared…

My request relates to cycling. As the coalition is keen to promote a healthy, green image I am hoping that DCLG are encouraging staff to make more use of bikes and this is being ridden from the top. It is wonderful way to keep healthy, reduce carbon emission and keep alert. It may even help poor Grant Shapps keep awake during the day.

1)      Can you provide details of any DCLG bikes that are available for staff to use for journeys between Departments?

2)      Number of ‘Boris bike’ account keys that have been bought to allow staff to make the short journeys between departments?

3)      Details of secure bicycle parking so that staff can lock up bikes and the young SpAds can lock up their BMXs?

4)      Is DCLG a member of the cycle to work scheme? If so how many staff took advantage of this offer for the latest year?

And finally can we please have no more mention of rubber knickers.

On your bike …


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Update on Cheesy Winterval

Just a quick update on two requests.

On Christmas Day, I told the kids that Daddy Tickles had some armchair auditing to do before they could open their presents. Can you imagine their sad little faces as I spent the morning typing my FoI request to DCLG? What is most sad about this sordid tale is that the request was subsequently declared vexatious.

But please, my chums, dry your eyes as this story ends with a happy ending. A good Samaritan has turned up and his name is Dean Halford, he has taken up the baton and submitted a follow up request. I salute you my friend.
You can see the original request here:

My second response from DCLG ended happily. They have supplied some beautiful photographs of our fav Ministers. The photos come with nice clean backgrounds, so lots of opportunity to produce some interesting photoshopped images?

The request can be seen here:

And my responses are below: -

Hark Martin

On the 25th day of December, in the two thousandth and tenth year of our Lord, I put finger to keyboard to seek wisdom and wise words from our spiritual leader (soon to be Lord?) Eric Pickles.

In Tickles’ letter to The Philistines, chapter 1 verses 2 to 3 his word was commanded vexatious. I was greatly lamented by this outcome. But in the valley of shadow of Eland House I shall fear no evil. I will not be tempted to give up and I will continue to tread the righteous path in the hope that others will follow and join my crusade.

And behold today, a disciple has been born.  I praise the work of Dean Halford and pray others will follow:  (
 I look forward to your response to his request.

Peace upon you


And the 2nd response...

Dear Martin

Thank you for the reply and the beautiful photographs. I am going to have fun with those in making my calendar.

I was surprised that Ministers dug into their own pockets to pay for these official photos. We well and truly really are all-in-this-together aren’t we?  Is this a new precedent where they will start paying for other things such as their own cars, overnight accommodation, lunches, off shore taxes?

I must say that Simon Wright has taken some wonderful snaps that really capture the character of each Minister. I am surprised that Uncle Eric could not even be bothered to straighten is collar – simply sloppy in my view. Weirdly Greg Clark seems to resemble a ventriloquist’s dummy with a rictus smirk.  Baroness Hanham is trying to blend into the background and nearly succeeding.
My favourite photo though has to be Grant Shapps. The poor bloke looks knackered. Surely they could have touched up the image to remove the spots and bags under his eyes. He really is struggling with the long commute to Watford as well as sleeping in his Commons office.  Give the lad a rest.

Yours in praise