30 Nov 2010

Thanks a lot BBC

While I wait for the computer repair man to call, I just have to get this off my chest.

Did any of you watch the ultra sensationalist Panorama on BBC1 last night? The program as you will be aware, unless you live in a cave, rehashed some old bribery allegations aimed at FIFA and three members of its voting committee who in two days time will decide the location of the 2018 World Cup, for which England is (or was) a prominent bidder.

Rather than give the usual arguments against the program, I simply point you in the direction of David Bond's blog, which was written yesterday evening a few hours before the program went out:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/davidbond/2010/11/what_do_panaroma_allegations_m.html

I've got down to reply number 100, and I have never seen so many moderated replies - free speech for BBC journalists, but not for those who disagree - and all of the rest are against not so much the program, but its sensationalist timing. The first post wholly in support of the BBC doesn't arrive until no.131. At the time of writing there are 375 replies, and David Bond, perhaps unsurprisingly, has yet to respond to the avalanche of criticism aimed at his employers.

The most succinct reply is this, reply no.71 for WRIGHT_ALASTAIR:

'Is it helpful for an England bid already struggling? Probably not.'

What do you mean 'probably' - of course it's going to harm the bid, the BBC has just made serious allegations against the people who we need to support us for the bid!

Saying that it is in the publics' interest to reveal these allegations is insulting our intelligence - if you gave anybody living in England the choice of us hosting the World Cup or the BBC revealing some allegations against FIFA that may or may not be proved, 99% of us would choose the World Cup.

We have just come out of a recession and spirits are hardly at an all time high among the population. The World Cup would do so much to boost the morale of the country now, leading up to 2018 and 2018 itself.

So to say that it is in the publics' interest is rubbish, especially as the BBC has chosen to air these allegations three days before the vote.

Why three days before the vote? Because it will make the maximum impact and that is exactly what the BBC wants. If they really cared about the 'public interest' then they should have aired Panorama after the vote. Simple.

I thought the BBC had a bit more decency and integrity than to ruin something which the vast majority of the population would have been really looking forward to. I know many others feel the same as me and I hope their is a suitable backlash against the BBC.

'Will it lose England the bid?' Yes.

...and there's the fact it will lose the economy billions despite FIFA's tax concession demands.

I normally support the BBC, an organisation which comes in for a lot of unjustified criticism, especially when a right wing government is in power, but I cannot remember ever being so pissed off at our national broadcaster. "Public interest" my arse.

You may argue that the vote was already lost, but we can never know. One thing for sure, it certainly is now.

To end on a note of levity, any program that puts up David Mellor as a proponent of moral superiority cannot be taken seriously.

Outraged Licence Payer, Shoesville, UK

29 Nov 2010

48 Crash

I bet you don't back up all the essential gubbins that you have accumulated over the years on your dear old computer hard drive, either at all, or in enough depth, do you? I'd put money on it, as I discovered today that I certainly failed to properly back up some of my work files, after my office computer refused to boot up this morning, as it could not read the hard disk. It's currently with a man who (hopefully) knows, and I'm hoping he can retrieve the un-backed up data, or I will have an awful lot of back tracking to do.

You may have read a recent entry where I speculated on going a week without post-1980 technology as a charity event. Some kind of karma must be at work here, as it might happen earlier than expected!
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Cricket - I loved it and then rapidly lost interest, now it's enthralling again. Up and down like the Assyrian Empire...;)
Football is still mostly forgettable though. In a season where Liverpool are rubbish, my team contrive to be worse. I blame the FSW.
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Jeez it's cold. Yesterday, the temperature on the decking was -5C at 9am, and it never got above 0C all day, and they reckon it's going to get colder. The energy companies, led by British Gas, see fit to indulge in the worst kind of cynical profiteering by putting up their prices to coincide with the coldest early winter for 17 years. Apparently the average net profit per BG customer has increased from £65 to £90 as a result! Pity the the poor and the old, one wonders how they will cope. Someone please tell me what exactly is the point of Ofgem? The toothless quango has launched an enquiry into industry price fixing, but don't expect the results until next spring. That'll be too late for the poor unfortunates who in the meantime die of hypothermia because they can't afford to keep themselves warm.
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28 Nov 2010

Do It Yourself

Did you hear about the elderly German gent who bricked himself into his own cellar by mistake, only realising he was on the wrong side of the new wall when he had finished the job? He then camped out in the cellar for days, and eventually got out by deliberately demolishing his neighbour's wall rather than his own. The police were waiting for him. His neighbours had been in dispute with the old boy over DIY noise, and thought this was the latest and most excessive example, and so plod were called. The police described the man as "pretty stupid" which ranks as understatement of the year! You couldn't make it up.
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The French like to claim that when it comes to looking after their families and community they leave us trailing in their wake, as in France they say that there is still such a thing as society, unlike here where we are all totally self obsessed. A news report recently that in Paris a 69 year old woman was rescued after being trapped in her windowless bathroom for 20 days (!) rather puts paid to French superiority in matters communal.

Surviving on warm tap water, she tried to alert her neighbours to her plight by banging on the pipes at night. So concerned were her neighbours that they even got up a petition to stop what they thought was late night DIY. Only after a few of the more aware realised they had not seen the woman for some time did they raise the alarm, and the woman was rescued by firefighters. If there was a French word for The Gallic Shrug, I'd use it now...
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Other people in the past have done this or similar, but I had the idea that at some point I would like to go a week without using any technology or services that have come into popular usage after 1980, as a fun way of raising money for charity. Can you imagine living for a week with three TV channels, and not being able to watch after midnight, no mobile phone, no computer, no dvd, even no VHS video (assuming anyone has any left to watch anyway), no microwave? Actually, that last one does not bother me in the slightest. To do this I would have to take a week off work too, as I simply could not do my job without a computer, so it will have to wait until next summer, when at least I can get out and about and go for walks. I plan to raise at least £5.50 for the MacMillan Cancer charity.

I mention this now, because unbeknownst to moi (must shake the French thing) I have, partly at least, been usurped by sundry American celebs, many of whom I am proud to say I have never heard of.

On Tuesday, which is World Aids Day, celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Usher (?), Serena Williams et al (damn) will be signing off from all social media for Alicia Keys' Aids charity Digital Life Sacrifice and will remain signed off until they raise over $1 million. Rather dwarfs my intended efforts! Good luck to them anyway.

Apparently Lady Gaga has nearly 24 million fans on Facebook. I'll bet a penny to a pinch of salt she doesn't read all the status updates.
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And finally....the stitches are to be removed from my now much less wonky finger on Wednesday next week, after which I will regale you with all the gory details.
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26 Nov 2010

Huge Big Massive

No. not an overweight rap crew, but pertinent to this nonsense.

There's an article on the BBC website entitled "Why do tall buildings have such silly names?" such as The Shard (the new London Bridge Tower soon to be constructed - will be the tallest building in the UK), The Gherkin, The Razor, The Filing Cabinet, The Cucumber, etc. Well obviously because they couldn't call them things like The Tremendous Tumescence Tower, Do One Tower, Phallus Pinnacle, Conquering Cock....hmm, I'd quite like to work in a building called Conquering Cock! :)




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In an almost certainly futile attempt to bolster England's chances ahead of the FIFA vote to see who gets to host the 2018 World Cup (Spain & Portugal), five former England internationals are to fly to Zurich ahead of Thursday's vote - Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole and John Barnes. Barnes is barrel scraping enough, but Andy Cole!!? I suggest most of the delegates will shake his hand followed by their heads as they wonder who was that man, and why did he need three attempts to grasp the right hand...
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"Hello, I'm Queen"



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Finally....such a shame....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11844613

24 Nov 2010

Dreadlock Holiday

Hands off, it's ours!

I don't like cricket, I love it, so naturally the start of the 2010/11 Ashes Series down under being nearly upon us I'm a-buzzin' like a mozzie down yer daks*. The first test starts midnight tonight UK time, and as usual the inaugural test will be played at the famous Gabba stadium in Brisbane, a hostile tropical hothouse of a place on Australia's north eastern coast. Checking it out on Google Maps, it's actual address is The Gabba, 411 Vulture Street, Woolloongabba QLD 4102, Australia. Great street names these convict descendants come up with don't you think? Situated at the southern end of the ground on Stanley Street is the rather off putting BellaDonna Bridal shop - My bet is it's run by a divorcee!

We have come out with no wins and only one draw at The Gabba since 1986, and indeed have only won three test matches on Australian soil since Mike Gatting's England team with Botham, Gower, Emburey, DeFreitas, etc came back with the urn after a 2-1 series win in 1986/87. That team were no doubt spurred on by the famous last words written by an Oz cricket journalist "There are only three things wrong with this team. They can't bat, they can't bowl and they can't field". Another classic like that this time round would go down a treat!

Our warm up games have gone really well, a highlight being Ian Bell's 192 against Australia A, and for once we do not have any injury worries going into the game. Meantime, Australia's first team squad members while playing for their districts have returned a series of lacklustre performances and are suffering numerous minor injury problems, so things are looking good. On the other hand, you only have to go back four years, when arriving down under having won the previous home series where both sides contributed to a thrilling summer in 2005, the over confident and some would say complacent England team, albeit depleted by a few key injuries, were roundly thrashed 5-0. Incidentally, this is the only time that the risible prediciton of choice of a certain Glenn McGrath came true. This man appears to be a "kangaroo loose in the top paddock" as he's yet again gone for 5-0 for the third series in succession!

The key men in our team are Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen. The former goes into the series with his ears ringing from plaudits landed on him by all and sundry, including Shane Warne no less. The Aussies will no doubt attempt to go after him in an effort to get him taken off, and how he handles that pressure will be crucial. As for KP, one hopes he rediscovers his mojo, and quick!

For the Baggy Greens, we can rely on Ricky Ponting to hit at least one match saving (or winning) innings. Coming towards the end of his career this Ashes series gives him the chance to avoid becoming the first Australian captain since P S McDonnell in the late 1880s to lose three little urns on the trot. Thrice skittled by Jimmy Anderson would be nice! Mike "Mr Cricket" Hussey has had a very indifferent time in front of the stumps of late, even more so than KP, but we know what he is capable of. Mitchell Johnson is fast turning into McGrath MkII, both with consistency and with the verbals. Needs shutting up.

The betting has been guarded from the off, but with their hugely impressive home record, Australia are slight favourites for the series going into this first game, but to suggest we are more than capable of winning an Ashes series down under is no longer the wildly optimistic shout it may have been a few years ago.

Bring it on!

PS - For any Americans reading this - cricket is.......far too complicated to explain here!

*Oz slang courtesy of http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html One's wife is commonly referred to as "Cook" heheh ;)

22 Nov 2010

Merry Xmas Everybody!

This has already been published on my music blog, but fits here too, so here it is if you missed it....

...or not if you loathe reality shows, especially the lowest bland denominator X Factor. This showbiz behemoth has dominated Xmas music sales for what seems like forever with it's soulless tat. That strange beast the General Public, who watch this show in their millions and then buy the trash it churns out can't be all wrong can they? YES THEY CAN. I've just watched the Robert Plant Electric Prom that was broadcast on BBC4 last week. Now over 60 and exuding a calm authority coupled with an ongoing enthusiasm for searching out new ways to present some classic old countryfied material, with the odd Led Zeppelin classic thrown in for good measure, this guy has something that X Factor contestants will never have unless they have already "paid their dues" or if they go on to forge an extremely unlikely 40 odd year career in music - soul. Call it mojo, feeling, spirituality, it's something a game show contestant whose only experience in music is squawking along to the latest R&B (new meaning - to me The Stones are R&B, not Rhianna (sic) and her ilk) hit in front of the bathroom mirror before being plucked from deserved obscurity by the dreadful Mr Cowell and his cohorts will never have. It's also something that seems entirely absent in Cowell's persona, which is just as well, for how could he live with this shite otherwise?

I may come across as a snob, if so, tough. Most people who claim to like music have zero idea of what actually constitutes the artform in the first place. Right I'll stop ranting now. This year there are a number of campaigns for alternative Xmas no.1's to whatever tosh is churned out by X Factor, and these are some top picks:


Wagner Carrilho - song to be decided

A Facebook campaign is underway to get a Brazilian former PE teacher with a horrendous mullet, who is a contestant on this year's XF, but awful in a tuneless and leery Working Man's Club way, to win the damned thing, thereby getting him a contract and Xmas record release on Cowell's label. This would undoubtedly annoy Cowell no end, as it would usurp his plan to get this year's pretty boy/girl combo to the top slot, so it has to be approved! Wagner has allegedly said "the show stinks like a set up", so he's not as daft as his haircut might suggest.


John Cage - 4'33''

http://www.facebook.com/cageagainstthemachine

The Situationists and indeed my fave - the idea of having over four minutes of silence at No.1 for Xmas is full of delicious irony, and not just as a poke in the eye for XF. The Facebook campaign goes under the name Cage Against The Machine, no doubt in honour of the successful ruse from last year when Cowell was suitably humbled by being told "F*ck You I won't Do What You Tell Me". Marvellous!


The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fairytale-of-New-York-Christmas-Number-One-Mission/156649164374870?v=wall

In honour of the tenth anniversary of MacColl's untimely and sad demise. A pretty straight campaign this one, but you can't argue with one of the best Xmas No.1s ever (or No.2 depending on which chart you believe) making a return.


The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Get-The-trashmen-surfing-bird-to-christmas-number-1/155704341135932

The original 60s garage rock'n'roll classic, brought to prominence via the cartoon Family Guy. My first contact with this song was The Ramones' version from 1978, but this is better. Definitely the feelgood choice.


The Macc Ladds - Sweaty Betty

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Macc-Lads-to-Be-Xmas-No-1/155203041183142

Has no chance, but is very funny in an unreconstructed fashion - the lyrics have to be seen to be believed! Not for the faint hearted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNG7fgwrWBQ


Also ran....

The Wombles - A Wombling Merry Christmas Why?

Not a Facebook campaign, but in the running...

The Yeo Valley milk advert rap

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOHAUvbuV4o

According to right wing leave-your-brain-at-the-door rag, The Daily Mail, this in with a chance. Again, why? Bloody awful, but if it keeps Cowell's mits off the No.1 spot, all the better...


Bah, Humbug

21 Nov 2010

Islands In The Stream

By chance I happened across the wonderfully monickered Piss Pot Island near Romney, West Virginia, USA while mucking about on Google Maps.

One can only surmise it's the island in the Potomac River, not the field where Google Maps have helpfully placed the name tag! Unfortunately I can't find a pic of it, but if you find it on Google Maps you have to say it is bit piss pot is it not?

This prompted me to search out other quaintly named pieces of land surrounded by water. I tried to avoid the obvious double entendres, but the first two were unmissable....

West, East, and Middle Intercourse Island (Australia) - all positions covered!

Shag Islands (all over the planet)

Brisk Island, Dunk Island (both Australia)

Plane Crash Island, Punk Rock (Arizona, USA)

Island Number 25 - far better than Island Number 28,58,61,62,64,66,68,69 or the dreadful Island Number 71 (all in Arkansas, USA)

Samish Island (no distinguishing features), Lummi Island (unfortunately there's no Stapme Island to go with it) Baby Island & Lady Island (Washington, USA)

Mustapha Island........after all I've already got the mansion and the Veyron................(W Virginia, USA)

Whippoorwill Island....ahem... (US Virgin Islands)

Ono Island (Alabama, USA)

Drunk Uncle Islets, Castro Rocks - he's too old, surely? (California, USA)
Spanish Harbor Keys - hope there's a spare set in the hanging flowerpot over the porch.... (Florida, USA)

Isle of Wight (off S Carolina, USA - no, really!)

If after visiting that lot, you'll no doubt have come over a trifle esurient, so why not visit the Bastard Restaurant, Malmo, Sweden? Probably doesn't cater for vegetarians though.....



Fork finds back of bacon...
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Saw a billboard advert today for a personal alarm:


Talk about reinforcing paranoia for profit, and what sort of message does it send out anyway? Why not say "Purse, phone, tazer", or for the blokes "Wallet, phone, retractable baseball bat". Lovely times we live in.

A bit further along the road....



Just wait until you see the show with Dead DJs...supporting The Zombies no doubt...
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Yesterday saw some highly entertaining games in the English Premier League, headed by the football rollercoaster that is Tottenham Hotspur. After ending the first half away to their recently more successful rivals Arsenal 2-0 down (and it could easily have been far worse), Spurs came back in the second half to win 3-2! Being a typical "Spud", Phill reckoned they would lose 3-0, didn't even bother listening to the game and went shopping instead. Wuss. Mind you, it has to be said that being a Spurs fan, especially this season, cannot be good for the blood pressure. Bloody entertaining though!

We also had an atypically thrilling Bolton Wanderers game, the 5-1 tonking of the highly unpredictable Newcastle Utd, Chelsea lost again, this time at Birmingham City, Stoke won 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion. A really good Match of The Day beckons. I forgot to record it - f*ck. Owing to the draconian restrictions placed on the BBC's showing of highlights by main contract holders Sky, the program is only repeated once, early on the following Sunday morning, which I didn't bother with, thinking it was recorded. And it's not available on catch up. Once again, bugger!

In the football news today, Manchester City defender Kolo Toure reckons the club should cut the wages of his team mates until they start working harder. Given that City players earn ludicrous amounts of dosh funded by oil billionaire Sheikh Mansour, and are the highest paid team in the world, that statement is pretty insensitive given what the rest of us have to put up with. If he's being genuine, why make the statement publicly? Given that possibly the highest paid footballer in England on a reported £200000 a week is Kolo's brother and teammate Yaya, Kolo's motivation is somewhat suspect!

Still on matters footy, Bolton forward Kevin Davies shows the world the intelligence level of yer average footballer. In a Tweet to friends, Kev was asking how to properly cook Pop Tarts, as he managed to keep burning them in his toaster! One fellow Twit advised him to lower the heat setting on his toaster, to which our hero replied, "who has a heat settings on a toaster!!?? My toaster just has a timer?!” Gawd help us! You'd think on his wages he could afford a toaster with a heat control. More likely, he's just not worked out what all those control knobs were for. Another Twit (if that's not what they're called, they should be) reckoned “Besides, have pop tarts any real place in the digestive tract of a top athlete? Have some broccoli instead.” A Spurs fan offered to buy Kev a new toaster if he promised to stop scoring against The Lillywhites! Wahey!....:0)
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I've always been fascinated by semantics, so skip this last bit if wordyrappinghood induces coma!

Great news that Aung San Suu Kyi has been released, but the way she carries for how long this time? You can only admire her integrity. Have you noticed how her country is now referred to again as Burma in news bulletins. In recent times it has been referred to as Myanmar, but has now reverted to the old version, which is a colloquial form of Myanmar in the Burmese language. This change is probably because Myanmar is the name preferred by the unpopular military dictatorship who decided in 1989 to change the English translations of the names of many Burmese towns and cities, and indeed the country itself.

This is similar to the renaming of some of their cities by the Indian government in the mid 1990s from the Anglicised versions to what are nearer approximations of the native pronunciations - Bombay to Mumbai, Madras to Chennai, Calcutta to Kolkata (not so radical that one). Strangely New Delhi (as opposed to Delhi, known locally as Dilli) remains unchanged to the world at large, presumably because it was constructed by the British Raj in the 1920s as a new capital, and remained as such after independence.
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20 Nov 2010

Hitchhike

Where would we be if Darwin had not invented the opposable thumb? Following my recent hand op, my right hand consists of a usable thumb with the other digits bandaged together, or, a thumb and a maw. Amazingly by utilising Darwin's handy (heheh) invention, I can still button shirts, pick up things, and hitch lifts. It's no wonder that before Darwin set sail on HMS Beagle in 1831, there was nothing but a black void peopled by ignorant cave dwellers who dropped stuff all over the place. After 1831 as every fule noes, came the Industrial Revolution, and life as we know it today. Lucky for us that Darwin discovered the opposable thumb under a rock during his famous visit to the Galapagos Islands, brought it home in a petri dish, and the rest as they say, is history.


This has been a short piece in the Creationist style. ;)

19 Nov 2010

Organise!

This is my follow up post on the David Bond blog. I fully expect it to get "modded" by the neo-Stalinist blog watchers at the BBC, an organisation that I normally have a lot of time for.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/davidbond/2010/11/fifa_act_tough_-_but_what_does.html#comments

Re my original post #16 - I note no-one from the BBC has been on here to justify the date of intended screening of the Panorama programme. I have no problem with the actual program, simply the stupid timing of its intended broadcast. Would it really make any difference to the so-called "public interest" if it was broadcast a fortnight later?

I see that there is now a Facebook petition to get the BBC to change the broadcast date. Anyone who has any interest in seeing the best sports tournament in the world held on these shores (and I'm not talking Olympics here!) should seek it out.

18 Nov 2010

Agitate!

This is an entry of mine on a BBC blog today about FIFA supposedly acting tough on corruption:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/davidbond/2010/11/fifa_act_tough_-_but_what_does.html#comments

I would say that the most damaging event for England's bid is yet to come. Forget the alleged Iberian/Qatar collusion. A week (or less) before the all important FIFA vote, the BBC Panorama program still plans to broadcast it's ill-timed program on alleged corruption at FIFA. This could well put paid to any remaining chance we have of hosting the World Cup in 2018.

The BBC will say the program is in the public interest. That it may well be, but why not wait until after the vote, how is "public interest" served by potentially putting the kibosh on our much awaited and overlong chance to be hosts?

I'm 50, so I can only dimly remember 1966, and I would like to see it here again before I get too old!

As a licence payer, I am sure I am not alone in asking the BBC to delay the program until after the vote. If you do not and we lose the vote, you will not be popular, to say the least. Think on BBC.

Yes, FIFA may well be one of the most closed and self-serving world organisations I can think of, but why does our press and media only seem to go after them when we are in the running to host the World Cup?

I found a Facebook petition page which I've already sent some of you an invitation to, but the more people spread the word, the better:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Petition-to-stop-Panorama-BBC-wrecking-Englands-2018-World-cup-bid/125216384205713

It may well make little difference, but it's better than sitting on your arse moaning....

Bend Me shape ME (20

You may wonder at the strange nature of the heading - it's because I am typing this one handed, as part one of straightening out my wonky hands is over, and I intend to leave in all typos caused by being mono-manu for effect.

I was worried the night before my appointment that the operation may have to be cancelled because a bite given me by Molly, The World's Loudest Small Ginger Cat © which resulted in a sore red swelling to my left hand had obviously become infected. Luckily the consultant was not concerned as it was my right hand they were operating on. Penecillin was prescribed. The nurse also told me that the most infectious bite one can get from a common non-venomous animal was not from a cat as I thought, but from another human! I Would add here that Molly's bite was fully deserved as I tried for just a bit too long to remove a clump of matted fur from her during a grooming session. I  should know better after 14 years!

Apart from the seemingly interminable three and a half hour wait to be discharged, the whole thing went wonderfully well. The operation, under a local anaesthetic, was supervised by a consultant and his chief nurse and they distracted me from the cutting and splicing being done to my right hand by the surgeon and his assistant by talking about music and beer! The nurse, who I hAd met before and discovered back then that she had a liking for real ale, turned out to be a bit of a rock music fan too so we chatted about all things music, including Lemmy's incongruous appearance in beer ads, which the consultant found on his mobile for me.

MUSIC of my choice from her iPhone was played during the op, and it was quite surreal listening to Communication Breakdown while discussing the benefits of beer brewed in Oakham, all the while being lied flat on my back and vaguely feeling some tugging and manipulation of my right maw. As well as the local anaesthetic, a tourniquet is put round the arm to stem the flow of claret while the op is in progress. The op took half an hour, and when they removed the tourniquet there followed the most intense bout of paresthesia 9really getting into this medical malarkey now!) I've ever had - that's pins and needles to us laypeople. It felk like my hand would explode when touched, but it was also quite pleasurable after a strange fashion.


Club hand!
They gave me some strong painkillers to take, which as yet I've not touched. I figure I can put up with an intense ache without horse tranquilisers (co-codamol).

The cast stays on for about a week. I can already feel the improvement in the mobility of my right ring finger, even restricted as it is in the cast. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the NHS handiwork.

Not too many typosa (sic) considering.....

16 Nov 2010

"Difficulty sleeping? Try Dr Vettel's Formula One"

Being a fan of F1 I have to say that the final race of the season in the hi-tech high-monied setting of the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi was one of the most anti-climatic and sleep inducing ends to a Grand Prix season I can ever remember. For once, rather than watch the first and last 10 minutes of the race, I was determined to watch the lot in the vain hope that Alonso, Webber & Vettel all crashed out leaving the Swiss driver Lewis Hamilton to win. I actually nodded off about two thirds of the way in, so dull had it all become.

A procession from start to finish, the only small bit of excitement in the whole two hours being the Schumacher (why did he bother coming out of retirement?) Liuzzi crash on the first lap, where as a result of pit stops during the time the safety car was out, the vastly overrated Fernando Alonso (are all sportsmen called Fernando unlikeable?) found himself stuck behind a Renault for the rest of the race, and hardly ever threatened to pass, thereby waving goodbye to what would have been his third title. For the non fan, imagine the scene - M25 3pm absolutlely chocker, a Renault Espace is hogging the middle lane and stuck behind it is a Ferrari Testarossa (they knew how to name cars, these Italians!) or whatever the modern equivalent is, and despite gaps appearing in the third lane, in nearly two hours, it cannot get past -unlikely don't you think?

The Beeb, having paid big money for the UK TV rights, and as is the wont of all sports broadcasters, bigged up the race so much you'd think that Fangio, Senna & Graham Hill had come back from the dead and were battling it out with Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell for the crown.

Although this season just finished at least produced a scenario where one of four drivers could have won the driver's title at the last race, and in the 9 months or so there were a few moments of genuine excitement, as ever the actuality was far exceeded by the hype. People rightly bemoan the stupid amounts of money paid to a few elite footballers, but compared to the automatons who "drive" (I use the word advisedly) their largely computer controlled tin boxes on wheels, Rooney et al are so poor they have to "lick street clean w'tongue" before being allowed to kick a ball.

One of the Beeb's articles on their F1 page laughingly reads "Could F1 2011 be even better?" Probably not, but, glutton for punishment that I am, I'll morgan (heheh) likely watch it anyway.
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14 Nov 2010

An authentic taste of India

My best friends are two of those visitors from planet veggie, and, as they will freely admit, fussy with it. I do have some sympathy, as why should they suffer the inevitable vegetable lasagne or mushroom stroganoff, while B & I have a veritable smorgasbord of deelites to chose from in comparison whenever we all visit eateries that supposedly also cater for the vegetarian?

So, whenever B & I and Phill & his "missus" go out as foursome to a restaurant we invariably end up at Pooja, an authentic Hindi vegetarian restaurant in Wellingborough. Run with an easy going charm by your host Majood (apologies for probable incorrect spelling), Pooja, meaning "worship", was originally and still does derive it's main income from a catering business, serving a substantial local Indian population, and supplying numerous curry houses in the area. The restaurant was started when the owners decided to recreate the home cooking that they missed over here, knowing a large Hindi community lived on their doorstep.

Upon arrival be prepared to be underwhelmed by the location - seemingly a room stuck on the end of the catering business as an afterthought, next to a car wash! The service is friendly, but can be a bit haphazard, and the larger your party, the more hit and miss it becomes. Don't be put off though, because the food is well worth any occasional gripes with the service. The restaurant is usually full of mainly Indian families and can get rather noisy, but that just lends to the atmosphere. You'll need to book at weekends.

Me and Phill usually share one starter, and our partners usually share another. Ours is the simply scrummy Chili Paneer (should be obvious) mopped up with Mogo Chips (wonderful chips made from cassava root). My main course now varies between three staples - in no particular order of preference, firstly we have Kadai Bengun Aloo, which actually does not appear on the online menu below, but I know it as "No.74" from the restaurant menu. It is essentially a potato & aubergine curry - exquisite! Those of you more familiar with the ubiquitous Anglicised curry houses that abound in our towns will probably be unfamiliar with at least some of the dishes. The cryptic descriptions do not give much away either. My favourite is "Indian cheese with mixed gravy" (Paneer Kadai). This is a derivative of "No.74" where the cheese replaces the potato. Their conception of "gravy" is not at all similar to ours!
My second "staple" is the less filling but still very tasty Rava Onion Masala Dhosa (onions and potatoes and spices in an Indian pancake). The Dhosa pancake in the South Indian section of the menu is a house speciality and needs to be tried. Thirdly comes Hakka Noodles from the China Gate fusion section of the menu. For once the description "Noodles with vegetables in sauce" is fairly accurate, but does not really do it justice.
We never have room for desserts, but Pooja is well known for its seemingly infinite variety of Indian sweets, which you can buy over the counter to take away.

This is the menu, also available on a takeaway basis. The prices maybe a bit out of date (Majood should be told!), but if you add 30p to everything, you're about there, and it sure is value for money:

http://www.poojacaterers.co.uk/menu.htm

If you love Indian food, try the real thing, not the Anglicised version, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the taste explosion that awaits your tongue. Pooja does not rely on making everything taste largely the same as is the case with the usual High Street curry house, nor does it assume that the English only think a curry is "real" if it's so chili hot it blows your tongue clean out of your head. It doesn't have to you see, because the majority of its clientele are Indian. The emphasis is on flavour, not chili heat, although of course some dishes are hotter than others.
All in all a thoroughly wonderful tastebud experience, well worth a visit even for us carnivores!

9 Nov 2010

Noddypeak Simpletons

I know a man, he has one ell
And but one dog, of that I can tell
I know a man, he has two ells
He has four dogs, and some ducks as well

J E Thribb, 50 and 323/365ths
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Haider, the Pakistani wicket keeper who scarpered after a match in Dubai after allegedly receiving death threats for not fixing a match has disappeared without trace. The only person who can possibly find him is his Indian mate Sikha......I'll get me coat.
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Some jokes for my nephew:

Q: How do you make a trombone sound like a French horn?



A: Put your hand in the bell and miss lots of notes.






Q: How many French horn players does it take to change a light bulb?


A: Just one, but he'll spend two hours checking the bulb for leaks and alignment problems.






Q: What do you get when you cross a French horn player with a goal post?


A: A goal post that can't march.

Actually, that last one's quite good...;)

..and another classical music joke:

Q: What's the difference between a cello and a viola?



A: The cello burns longer
 
Seems they're quite bitchy, these orchestral types
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In training for next year's Strictly...




 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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I don't know where this comes from but it's rather spiffing!


“ The bun-sellers or cake-makers were in nothing inclinable to their request; but, which was worse, did injure them most outrageously, called them prattling gabblers, lickorous gluttons, freckled bittors, mangy rascals, shite-a-bed scoundre...ls, drunken roysters, sly knaves, drowsy loiterers, slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubberly louts, cozening foxes, ruffian rogues, paltry customers, sycophant-varlets, drawlatch hoydens, flouting milksops, jeering companions, staring clowns, forlorn snakes, ninny lobcocks, scurvy sneaksbies, fondling fops, base loons, saucy coxcombs, idle lusks, scoffing braggarts, noddy meacocks, blockish grutnols, doddipol-joltheads, jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, flutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninny-hammer flycatchers, noddypeak simpletons, turdy gut, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets; saying further, that it was not for them to eat of these dainty cakes, but might very well content themselves with the coarse unranged bread, or to eat of the great brown household loaf.”

7 Nov 2010

Aerie Faerie Nonsense

I've always been a fan of medieval sword and sorcery numbers, so last night we had a themed evening of Middle Ages viewing. Unplanned I hasten to add, as the Wallander episode we were going to watch was a repeat from the over produced Brannagh version of the marvellous and moody Swedish original.

First off was Merlin, now an early Saturday night staple and great fun. Better than Dr Who in my 'umble (ducks under parapet to avoid flying brickbats). Yes, it has deux ex machina twists but unlike Dr Who they are not delivered by a bloke talkingsofastallhiswordsrunintooneanotherandyouhavenoideawhatisgoingon#*^&!##@@. Only criticisms are that Richard Wilson's comic acting talents are under used, at the expense of the somewhat wooden eye candy for the ladies, one Bradley James as Prince Arthur.
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Next up after discovering we had already seen the Wallander episode was Pillocks, sorry Pillars Of The Earth based on Ken Follett's novel. This load of old tosh is basically a Middle Ages version of that other historical romp Rome, and is a rambling soap opera centered around the construction of a cathedral in a fictional town in Medieval England and the political shenanigans surrounding it.

A good cast of Brit TV regulars is headed by Ian McShane camping it up by the shedload as Bishop Waleran Bigod (great name!), a man whose scheming ambition to be Archbishop of Canterbury is matched by his need to self-flagellate as a penance.

Sarah Parish stars as a scarred aging courtier Regan Hamleigh who schemes with Waleran on behalf of herself and her horrible son William, who is of course a coward and a bully and a misogynist to boot. She also kills her own husband after he has served his purpose, so that they all constantly remain on whichever is the current winning side in the ongoing civil war between factions of the royal family, and it's more than hinted at that William and his mum have some heavy Oedipal action going on.

The man charged with building the cathedral, the imaginatively named Tom Builder (Rufus Sewell) is constantly running off to a local cave where his lover Ellen, a witch on the lam played the rather sexy Natalia W├Ârner, whose clothes conveniently fall off every time her lover appears.
The female lead is Hayley Atwell as Aliena, a usurped princess whose brother Richard is the rightful heir to the throne of England. Both have to hide their identity, so she is working as the only female wool merchant in England, and the brother is a trusted knight in King Stephen's army. The same Stephen who is on the throne at Richard's expense. And of course Aliena has a doomed love affair with Ellen's son, who when he first appeared in the series seemed to be some kind of idiot savant, but then learned to express himself in more ways than verbally very quickly indeed.

It's full of holes and lurches about like a drunk peasant in a tavern, but it's fun!

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We rounded off the evening with the 1981 film Excalibur. What qualifies a film as a B movie? If it's awful acting, by a distinctly second division cast (with three "before they were famous" exceptions), and a script so pretentious it's funny, then this film certainly is.
 
Nigel Terry (?) plays an Arthur so wooden you could build a good fence out of him, and he is at the centre of the action, which for its 200 minutes largely consists of lots of blokes wearing half ton metal suits clanging and clanking into each other with swords, axes, cudgels, crowbars (possibly not).
 
Merlin is the laughably over acting Nicol Williamson, whose thespian pomposity is suggested by the fact he has two surnames. You can tell he's a proper ac-tor and he ain't afraid to give Merlin a Bard like flourish now and then. He wears a sort of sci-fi shiny metal head covering throughout the film for reasons known only to the scriptwriters.
 
Directed by John Boorman, who ropes in two of his kids in minor roles, you can't fault the scenery and cinematography. Every scene would make a good poster, but the leaden script would lead someone unfamiliar with the King Arthur legend to wonder what on earth is going on. Plot devices like Arthur's near instantaneous transformation from bumbling squire into regal fortitude once he had extracted Excalibur from the rock, and Morganna's (Helen Mirren wearing slightly more clothes than she did in Caligula) seduction of her half-brother Arthur leading to instant famine and pestilence across the land, are particularly clumsy, a bit like that last sentence! The Holy Grail quest is also clunky as it is not even partly explained why this relic of biblical times is in England, or why finding it will bring times of plenty back to Camelot and the Kingdom.
 
Guinevere is played with a twinkle in her eye by the lovely Cherie Lunghi. If Felicity Kendall in her prime was the epitome of the English Rose, then Cherie was certainly number two with a bullet. Her clothes fall off too - a brief redeeming feature of this overlong tedious portentous twaddle.

PS - the third "before they were famous" actor was Liam Neeson!
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So, it turns out that those f#ckers letting bangers off at half past midnight this morning were Eastern European - Phill must have been closer to them than me. They should all be blindfolded, tied to tress and have chavs set off bangers at their feet - see how they like it!

Dreammare

Dreams - wonderful things, it's just that I very rarely remember mine. This morning was an exception, as I awoke with surreal visage a-swirling around my noggin.

First, a bit of back story, otherwise what little sense that may be made from my soma-synapse sparkings will be entirely lost. Back in the very early eighties I lived in a shared flat in a communal block known locally as "The Pyramids", an only slightly less strange epithet than the the actual name of the place, "Quartercroft". A thatched door in the midst of Scottish moorland perhaps?


Quartercroft?

Anyway, it was called "The Pyramids" for the obvious reason:

Gorgeous, isn't it?
The place was and probably still is run by a housing association, and was populated by people who were "first timers" in the rented housing market. Most were, like me young early 20s types, but there was a smattering of older divorcees, and a few newly released former inhabitants of state institutions, medications in hand. Despite looking dreadful, it was actually a jolly good laugh, and we all felt like one big gang. There was even a communal bar, and the parties held there were legendary!

So, the point of this drivel was originally The Dream, in which I had got together five of the old Pyramid crew to film a remake of a "Comic Strip Presents...." type comedy drama we had made back in the day. Obviously this film doesn't exist, it was a dream after all. So there I am telling Dek, Kate, Stephanie, and Hayden (one of the ex-patients I mentioned, and a very odd chap) and a load of other familiar faces whooping and hollering in the background, that the remake would be different because this time the script would be entirely improvised, but loosely based on a story whereby we had to spend the £10000 I had just won on a one-armed bandit before we were caught by "two ex-members of The Jam"...."What, Paul Weller is after us?" asks Dek. "No, it's Bruce & Rick" sez me.....

Then I am woken by Molly, The World's Loudest Small Ginger Cat ©. It's a shame we don't have the equivalent of a hard disk recorder in the head, so we can start a dream off from where it left off the night before!

By the way, nobody beats Phill's missus for odd dreams, which usually involve alligators doing the soft shoe shuffle, and jumping through hoops, or somesuch weirdness.
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Some tosser near us decided to start letting off very loud bangers at half past midnight. I hope he or she gets suitable karmic retribution. Earlier in the night our Molly insisted on being let out so she could sit on the decking watching fireworks, but these late night bangs freaked her out. Ban anyone wearing tracky bottoms and/or hoodies from buying the bloody things I say. Like I've said before, only people over 70 should be allowed to buy fireworks, as a concession to the industry!
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5 Nov 2010

Strike!

Woke up this morning (da-da-deeda) to find that the BBC journos were all on strike over changes to their pension rules. The poor dears are faced with having to work for longer, contributing more while they're working, and receiving less than before once retired, and their final salary schemes are all going in the dumper. Welcome to the real world guys!

Anyway, this presented B & I with a dilemma - do we come round from the land of slumber to the BBC News channel where they have no news to report on, or decent presenters to look at as even Charlie & Susanna were on the picket line (not), or do we switch to Daybreak on ITV? Dilemmas dilemmas.

After sleepily watching an interview with a couple of sports psychologists, the next item was about F1 drivers being trained using games technology. At least ITV might have some actual news on methinks, so I switched over to Daybreak starring Adrian Chiles & Christine Bleakley. Are these two a couple? I ask because she's sitting so close to him she's practically sitting on his lap, and simpering with it. Mrs Chiles should be told.

In the half hour or so it was on we saw about 8 minutes of actual news, 5 minutes of adverts, and the rest featured an "interview" with that complete waste of space and talent-free zone that is Peter F*cking Andre (possibly not his real middle name) waffling on about nothing in particular, another in-depth grilling of the very annoying TV naturalist Nigel Marvin on the subject of cute baby pandas, and an item on the re-unification of the cast of The Sound Of Music. Have you seen Julie Andrews lately? She looks like she's wearing someone else's face.

What made me switch off was a musical number by Four Poofs Without A Piano or whatever they're called now, rounding up the week's news. J Harry Christ on spoons - this makes The Daily Mail look intelligent!

Talk about inanity, or vacuosity, this lot have it down pat. At least Breakfast waits until about 8:45 before wheeling out the celebrity nonsense, when most of us have left for work.

Note to BBC journalists - don't you dare carry on striking when Bill & Sian are due on, or I'll have to put Sky Fictional News on!

The Last Temptation Of Elvis

For those of you who are interested, and because this blogthing has become too unwieldy, all Music related wibblings are now on Astounded by Sound!

As well as the link in this note, there should be a permanent link somewhere to the right....yeah, over there...it may be offline while I iron out blips etc...Thanks! :-)

2 Nov 2010

A Nice Pair

A lovely pair of tits
That got your attention!
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News in today that one of the coppers in the inquiry into the shooting of a barrister in London last year is in trouble for peppering (ahem) his evidence with song titles, and for including a few choice Anglo Saxon words into the bargain. What he said probably wasn't anything like this...

"Well m'lud, fuck me if didn't feel like I wuz walking on the moon, I mean everything happened like poetry in motion. I thought the bleedin' perp had all the guns of brixton in his pocket, he coulda bin a bankrobber. I lost complete control, so I said to my mate, I said hey joe, let's shoot out the lights...."

It seems The Clash fit in nicely in the middle eight!
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Guy Fawkes night (or season, as it seems to go on forever) is upon us. What with up to 800,000 people facing imminent unemployment due to our wonderful toffs at the top cutting hither & thither with gay abandon, I hope the proportion of the imminent work shy scrounging scumbags as they will be henceforth be labelled who hold or attend firework parties are aware that we are celebrating Guido Fawkes' failure to blow up Parliament!
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