31 Dec 2011

Who Stole The Good Vibe Potion?

I like to think of myself as a "glass half full" kinda guy, but 2011 has tried its damnedest to not only empty the glass, but send it crashing to the floor. Not necessarily on a personal level, although it has been a very poor year business-wise for me, as my income continues to shrink, but seeing close friends struggle with cut backs and redundancy while all around the Western World as we know it seemed to be heading down the plughole was enough to dent the cheeriness in adversity of even the most insanely optimistic loon, which I ain't.

Probably the low point of a thoroughly depressing year was the nationwide August riots, which still struggled to be explained in a cogent manner. Sure, the disenfranchised had every reason to take to the streets, but in search of a new pair of trainers or a flat screen telly while destroying their own backyard? England has a long history of riots, but they nearly always had an easily identifiable political objective. The only purpose of these uprisings seemed to be to acquire more tat that no-one actually needs.

The economic outlook here in Europe in 2012 does not really bare too much thinking about, as even the best case scenarios look pretty grim from where I'm standing. I can't recall a New Year's Eve where the future looks so uncertain, but let's hope we can make some success out of it!

If I expect my football teams to cheer me up, then I might as well give up now. Everton continue to struggle against the rising tide of avarice that is the Premier League, having been knocking on the door of top dining room only eighteen months ago, while even more worryingly the Cobblers end 2011 propping up the Football League. If they go down they could well go the way of Rushden & Diamonds....remember them? Ho-hum.

Going back to the personal if I may, my unpaid weird music scribbling has seen shelf loads of wilfully obscure CDs arriving chéz moi, much to B's disdain, and I commend her for putting up with what for her were some nigh on unlistenable rackets while I struggled to go beyond the usual five adjectives my shrinking grey matter usually comes up with when describing said noise. I also got my first "press pass" to a gig, which was quite a feather in my cap, albeit almost dislodged by the actions of some Neanderthals on the door of Camden Underworld. No doubt this is something I'll have to get used to!

I've also had two more operations on my gnarled digits this year, one successful, one less so. Hopefully no more calls will be made on the very wonderful NHS in 2012 in this respect, although I think it's probably time I availed myself of that licence to print money, the dentist. It has been fifteen years, possibly more, but I've always reckoned that teeth are like car engines - if they're working ok, leave them well alone. Yes, I know nothing about car engines I'll admit, and even less about teeth.

One thing I did in 2011 that I haven't done in decades is to sit down and write a letter - you know, pick up a pen and some paper and commit some strange hieroglyphics to parchment. A now ageing aunt always sends us a kind of personal year review with her Christmas card, hand written of course, so this year I thought I'd reciprocate. Like most folk I rarely actually write more than a couple of lines at a time, 99.99% of work and personal scribbling being done, as this is, on a keyboard sat in front of monitor.

By the time I had written about half a page of A4 I noticed two things. One, my handwriting now resembles that of drunk crab fighting a spider, and two, those twenty of so lines had given me writers' cramp! I persevered though, I hope she liked it.

Time passes like a runaway train, not that trains in the UK ever go that fast. My niece is well into her new working life and gets married in 2012, and my nephew is well into dissecting bodies or whatever it is that medical students get up to, all of which is kind of hard to believe when only yesterday they were knee high!

Whatever you do in 2012, I hope it brings you health wealth and happiness, and if you're lucky, all at once.

Keep on keepin' on.....

27 Dec 2011

Gazapacho Soup - Part Sevenish - Christmas at War

Sir Archibald Thrieves snuggled the butt of the blunderbuss into the crook of his shoulder, took aim and fired off several ounces of grapeshot after the retreating derriere of his nephew Ranulph as the latter attempted to scale the southern wall. Ranulph let out a yelp and then started whimpering like a chastised puppy as the lead shot settled nicely into the copious flesh of his more than ample arse.

"I told the inbred ingrates two days ago - if I invite the buggers to the annual Thrieves family Xmas excesses then any attempts at escape will be met with the severest punishment" said Sir Archie to no-one in particular. "Clegg, go get Ranulph and tie him to a tree so that Gloria can thrash 'im with a birch. She seems to take great pleasure from that, bless her prejudiced and diminished soul" spoke Sir Archie lovingly of his dear wife of 47 rain-soaked miserable summers.

Ranulph had earlier lost a bet with his cousin Piers that he couldn't get over the wall, make way to the village pub two miles down the lane, get completely bladdered and return from The Hairy Wench in time for breakfast. Piers was a peculiar cove, forever making eyes at his buxom if somewhat hirsute sister Nigella. It was quite unsettling the way he started dribbling whenever his sister got within six feet of him. Nigella professed to be a socialite with many friends but no-one had ever seen her with anyone that hadn't been paid to be there. It was also rumoured that she had vampire blood.

Archie's guests were his sister Pru's family, headed by The Hon. Rogers Wintington-Smythe MP, DSO & BOC, whose unwashed loins had brought forth Ranulph, now 27 both in age and in stone, Wisteria, his stick-thin and strange-smelling sister, 31 and untouched, and Hague, his stupid and dribbling older brother, 41, who had a job in Cabinet dreaming up new ways to persecute the proletariat for Gideon's newly elected Tory majority Government. Rogers always used to declaim in a perversely proud manner, that having had "trouser relations" as he put it with Prudence a mere five times in 35 years of trouble-free marriage, largely because they rarely met, that "three mewling and dribbling sprogs ain't a bad result, old bean." Indeed he often had to remind himself who this oddly proportioned female of the species was on the rare occasions they crossed paths at their sprawling pile of decay, Dalmellington Mansions, left them by Pru's barking mad and gratefully for all now departed father, Winston O'Bogie. He knew John Lennon you know, John never was godd at speling.

Christmas dinner had been interesting. Archie's loyal but sadly idiotic manservant Widdecombe had been well into his stride, plucking the goose ready to extract the shot from its massacred body, when he sneezed violently, the feathers and airborne pluckage irritating his sinuses to the point of no return. Having hardly any septum at all and a small but growing hole in the base of his skull just above where the diminshed septum hung, all this arising from decades of cocaine abuse, his nasal discharge also included parts of his frontal lobe, rendering him worse than useless for the duration. Archie locked him in the barn with the sick goat, sick ewe and sick cow where together they cooked up a virus so strong a team from Pilton Down had to be called out in the New Year to torch the place to the ground.

This unfortunate episode meant that Archie had to find another head servant to abuse, beat, and generally treat like a disenfranchised voter. This being Christmas Eve that was easier said than done, but luckily brother-in-law Rogers came to the rescue. "You can borrow the fawning and obsequious Clegg orf me if you want. I did give him Christmas Day off for the first time in 23 years so he could go visit his dying mother, but sod it, needs must." And so it was that Clegg saved the day, understandably an emotional mess, which added to the fawning and obsequiousness led to a sum of frankly unpleasant human characteristics, so much so that most of the inmates avoided his gaze whenever he was around, simultaneously rubbing his hands together, bowing, scraping and copiously blubbing, tears falling onto his ancient yellowing tux.

Next - Christmas dinner ends in a murder and a prolapse, not necessarily connected, and the entire Uruguayan nation go to Jamaica on holiday and shout the "N" word at the top of their collective voices in the middle of Kingston, claiming it is a cultural thing, you know, like. Luis Suarez is 13 and 3/4.

25 Dec 2011

Xmas Log, Stardate wibble wibble .157

When I got up today I vowed not to go near the 'pooter at all today, but alcohol has got the better of me and here I am while B watches Downton Abbey. Well, I lasted nearly 12 hours which is something of a record, and B was actually online before me, a rare thing in itself.

So, that's that over for another year then. It's remarkable how eating too much poultry'n'stuff at the wrong time of day, and after having watched too much naff TV one feels completely knackered by the time Dr Who comes on. Ah well, DW was always good for a snooze anyway, or so I thought, because the stream of bollocks that usually constitutes a DW script normally has a soporific effect on me. Not this time though, given that the supremely daft intro allowed one to suspend disbelief almost instantly as the good Doctor survives the vacuum of space, atmosphere re-entry burn up wearing nothing but a space suit he somehow put on in said vacuum, and to cap it all he survives an impact so hard he made six foot crater! After that it was really enjoyable and was actually a good fairy tale for the kids, which is exactly what it should be.

One of the other things I've been watching today while slightly drunk is the graduate University Challenge series. A recent episode had the Head of Music at Radio One, one George Ergatoudis on the Sheffield Uni team. He not only failed to guess Nashville from the clue Grand Ol' Opry, but also didn't recognise the fab Wake Up by The Boo Radleys. Obviously his job title is an oxymoron, or maybe it's because Radio One now plays wall-to-wall crap and wouldn't recognise proper pop culture or a decent tune if it was bit on its collective testicles by Paul McCartney? Me, I couldn't possibly comment.

What else did my increasingly square eyes observe...oh yeah, we watched Ratatouille which was enjoyable, the restaurant critic's speech near the end being particularly pertinent. Also rather fun was a recording of the film The Boat That Rocked, a comedy drama centred on the days of pirate radio up to its demise. A stellar cast including Kenneth Branagh as a self-important Government minister given the task of shutting down "Radio Rock" (they could have come up with something better than that, surely?), his deputy played by Jack Davenport, the coolest DJ on the planet played by Rhys Ifans to name a few. Star of the show was the inevitably louche performance of the utterly brilliant Bill Nighy as the station owner. This man is a National Treasure and should be knighted, no question.
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Congrats to good friends Andy & Linzy who will become Grandparents in 2012. I will enjoy calling Andy "grandad!"
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Our friends Phil & Christine looked to be having a bit of a nightmare start to their Xmas holiday in Bruges. They were to have left on Thursday last, but due to a public sector strike in the land of Hercule Poirot over that seasonal chestnut cuts in public service pensions found that their Eurostar train was cancelled. Frantic phoning by by Phil finally got them two last minute bucket seats on different coaches on the early Friday train. If you've ever travelled on Eurostar you will know that their standard seats make London Midland look like the height of luxury, with a lack of per-passenger space that Michael O'Leary would be proud of, so God knows what the bucket seats were like.

Not that they ever found out, as I got a text from Phil this morning saying they had been upgraded to first class and their hotel rooms had been upgraded too! I still have to find out the details, but if that was all down to Eurostar it goes to show that the term "customer service" does sometimes actually mean what it says on the tin.
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Finally commiserations to Phill who seems to have had a really awful Xmas. I hope Mrs P has not suffered too much as a consequence, and B & I hope that you get better soon mate, we've got a date with a rather good curry house to look forward too after all!
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Finally finally, something for the lads..yep, I know I already put it on FB but it deserves to be heard again!



Wahey!

5 Dec 2011

Very Very Black Mirror

Spoiler alert - If you have not yet watched Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror and intend to, don't read on...

Remember Chris Morris, doyen of bizarre ultra-black comedy on Channel 4 some 10 and more years ago? Well, Charlie Brooker, he of the acerbic put down of pompous and asinine TV has claimed Mr Morris' mantle and some with his new comedy (?) drama series Black Mirror, the first episode of which showed on Sunday night. National Anthem it was called and "comedy" in the trad sense it wasn't. Satire yes, but there were no laughs here that your conscience did not flinch at, apart from the splendid denouement.

PM Michael Callow, a great bit of acting from Rory Kinnear, obviously in the style of David Cameron, is blackmailed by what turned out to be a Turner Prize winning artist into having full sex on live national TV with a pig in exchange for the life of "Princess Susannah", the nation's darling. No prizes for guessing who that was meant to be!

Brooker manages to take swipes at modern technology, social networking, the machinations of politics, the sheep-like nature of the general public, cynical journalism, and self-important amoral "art" all in the space of 45 minutes. Utterly brilliant!

If you're reading this and have no intention of watching it, you really should, as it is rare to have such an illuminating, horrible, and at the same time darkly comic piece of TV to rave about. I can't wait for the next episode - go Charlie!

3 Dec 2011

At least Morrisey's lyrics weren't inspired by a fascist writer and sung by a bloke who makes a noise like nails down a blackboard

Insolent, indolent, ignorant, aggressive, surly, arrogant, monosyllabic. These are just some of the more polite adjectives to describe London club doormen that Phil W and I have encountered on our recent trips to the nation's capital in search of musical entertainment.

PW's treatment at the hands of a real jobsworth of the species at the recent Steven Wilson gig you may have read about already, and last night it was my turn to suffer at the hands of a bloke with a thousand yard stare and a bad attitude. I had been given a press pass to go and take pics and compile a review of a gig by 70s obscure proggers Cressida (it's ok, I don't expect you to have heard of them), and I printed off a confirmation email from the band in anticipation of there being a right twat on the door. There was.

Arriving at the charming pit that is Camden Underworld I presented the email to Mr Vacant Eyes behind the reinforced glass of the ticket booth. The conversation went something like this:

Moi: Hi. I should be on the guest list, or there should be a ticket for me?

Mr Vacant Eyes: Giving a cursory glance both at my printed email and at his bit of paper with some names typed on it.."No mate, you're not on here"

Moi: Are you sure? Read the email, it says I've been granted a press pass.

Mr VE: Ignoring the email..."No, you ain't here"

Moi: Wanting to say "Read the bloody thing", but being aware I'm surrounded by three house goons sharing one brain cell and who are all built like brick outhouses, decide that discretion is the better side of being dumped on the pavement...."Can't you get one of the band or the promoter up here to sort it out?"

Mr VE: "No, we're the venue, don't have anything to do with the band, not my problem mate." By now another noob had appeared behind the glass, obviously Twatboy's immediate boss. He had the dead eyes of a killer. We'll call him Nutjob.

Nutjob: "We can't talk to the band." Followed by a hard stare.

Moi: "Right, I suppose I'll have to pay then. I'll be back"

Now inside the venue I seek the assistance of the promoter who was a good guy (thank God). "They made you pay? That's ridiculous, I put a small pile of tickets up there, one of them has your name on it." With that we both went back upstairs to the ticket office, the promo guy, after some nice dressing down of Twatboy and his boss points out the pile of tickets to Twatboy, who grunts something unintelligible, hands me my ticket and stares at me blankly.

Moi: "Well, let's have my money back then."

With an almost comical reluctance and more semi-audible grunting he hands me back my cash. In the interests of etiquette did I say "Thank you"? No, I didn't.
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Speaking of slack-jawed imbecility, I had to laugh at an incident on the way to office slavery the other day. Walking along the busy main road into town, where the traffic was crawling to a standstill, I see a youngish chavvy looking bloke crossing the road, weaving between the now almost stationery traffic, followed about ten yards behind by his naturally overweight girlfriend, who although giving the appearance of looking where she was going, walked straight into the side of a car. This was followed by her making a noise that may be similar to a gurgling Orangutan, not that I would want to insult the Asian ape species. I think this strange guttural noise was Britney laughing at her own dumbfuckery. I too was laughing, hopefully like a homosapien.......that's sapien, you at the back.
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Another quantum slice of life on my daily perambulation last week was hearing a dying example of local dialect. Now only spoken by those 50 years old upwards, a "real" Shoesville accent is a charming (non-sarcastic definition) mix of Yokel (East Anglian variety) and a soupçon of Midlands Brummy tinge, with liberal use of phrases like "me duck". They also "goo" to places.

Those younger than 50 born and raised here now talk in that ubiqui'ous Estuary English, glo''all stops aplenty. Listening to say, any 25 year old, who was born somewhere south of Leicester but outside of London, it's hard to pinpoint their birthplace as you can now barely tell from their accents. Is that good or bad? I've no idea.
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Jeremy Clarkson, professional oaf and a bit of a twat, but funny all the same, or the end of Western Civilisation as we know it? Depends whether or not the recipient of his wit and wisdom has had a complete sense of humour bypass. There was some woman from Unison on the news commenting on Mr C's controversial statements that had you turned on halfway into her diatribe you would have been under the impression that Clarkson had denied the Holocaust. And she had a face like a slapped camel's arse.
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Apparently Mr Hall can now hand out detentions. That's "Evil" that is....;)

17 Nov 2011

Terrine de bicyclette

Luvvly!
Am I possibly the only straight guy on the planet who watches Pan Am, the glossy and somewhat slightly camp soap opera set around the lives of five air stewardesses in the early 60s? If I am I don't care, because a) Karine Vanasse who plays stewardess Colette is the most exquisitely gorgeous thing I've seen on TV in a long time, and b) there may actually be a story in there somewhere beneath the layers of glitz and soap opera involving espionage and dried fruit...actually the script might also be crap, but at only two episodes in I'll give it a bit more time, if only to gaze wistfully at Karine.....
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They're going to make a film of Dr Who. Woop-di-do! Two and a half hours of garbled nonsense instead of fifty minutes. Actually if they got Matt Smith to slow down and talk normally they wouldn't have to write any more script than they do for the TV episodes. And Karen Gillan on a big screen must be worth seeing. Not all bad then, but pleeeease, no Daleks!.
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I've been a bit under the weather this week, which is probably why I ended up watching Pan Am with B last night. Also, in between bouts of...no you don't want to know, really...I've been attempting to wipe the hard disk (it's all that bonobo porn obviously) of an old computer before I scrap it as it's too old to give to charidee. What a bleedin' palaver that is I can tell you. Looking at various websites, I downloaded a piece of software that supposedly does the job. You have to burn the software onto a CD, and reboot the 'pooter using the CD and it blitzes C drive.

Except it took me ages to work out how to alter BIOS so that the 'pooter boots from D rather C drive, and even then the bloody thing doesn't work, it still boots up from C. This all took an inordinate amount of time as the 'pooter is very old and very slow, and umpteen restarts took forever. A waste of an entire afternoon.

Scott, if you read this......HELP!
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Isn't the whole point of email spamming to get the gullible to open emails so that all sorts of malicious software infects their computer allowing said spammer unfettered access to their hush hush collection of bonobo porn? In order to do that surely it has to be enticing in some way, and probably not advertising itself as coming from "Sophia Fink." Hoho.
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I quite like playing Mexican Standoff with pavement cyclists and so far I've not been hit, either by a bike or a cyclist's fist. Today, by sheer force of will, I made a young bylaw busting cyclist get off their bike by walking into the only remaining gap on the pavement, the same gap she was headed for, coming straight at me. As said cyclee pushed her bike past me on the road no less (wahey!), I asked her if she knew what a pavement was actually for. Cyclee completely blanked me, got back on the pavement and pedalled off. Strangely I resisted the urge to shout "Idiot" or stronger after the ignoramous. Perhaps it was Sophia Fink?

1 Nov 2011

Waiting for the end of the world

Last night a DJ saved my life....well actually it was a Chinsese vegetarian buffet restaurant, as raging hunger and rising impatience (who, moi? Surely not!) at a seemingly endless wandering about nearly got the better of me, but those who were there (and PW was just as peckish as me but kept quiet) had to admit that the grub was in fact, surprisingly good! So all was well in the end, even if it took me being a bit of an arse to arrive at said conclusion. Apologies to all concerned.

That intro may be a tad cryptic for some, but if you read Phill's blog, all will become clear! Suffice to say that karma reared its head today, and made me inwardly smile. Arriving at at 1:55pm at NGH for my post-op appointment with my consultant at 2pm, I checked in at reception and was told to go and wait in the usual place. Forty five minutes later folk who had arrived after me had been seen and I hadn't been called. Something odd here methinks, so I go to the nurses' station to find out why I had not been called. "Oh" says the nurse, looking at her computer screen, "We've got you down for 3pm. Didn't the receptionist tell you that?" "No" sez I, reiterating that the letter I was sent said 2pm, and that was what I had said to the reptionist. There not being a lot I could do about it, I figured I may as well go and wait some more as it's now nearly 3 anyway.

Some ten minutes later a different nurse pokes her head into the waiting area, a corridor with plastic seats either side that is now rammed full of people, sticks a piece of paper on the wall and walks off with out a word. The paper reads "Mr Scalpel's appointments are running at least 60 minutes late, so if you do not want to wait blah blah....". That would mean sitting around until at least 4pm, probably longer given the backlog. Sod that for a game of soldiers, so, most of an afternoon wasted I headed back to work.

That bit above is only part of the karma...arriving home I re-checked the appointment letter and find that the appointment was for 3pm after all, I'd entered it on my phone calendar incorrectly. Actually made me laugh out loud, that did! I've since found out that my phone, which has to be manually adjusted when the clocks change has the annoying side effect of altering calendar appointments at the same time. So, when I changed the time back an hour on Sunday morning, it also put my appointment with Mr Scalpel back an hour too, making me turn up an hour earlier than I needed to. Really useful that, doncha think!

This is the second time this has happened recently, the first being my 10am appointment to have my cast removed after the op. Another 45 minute wait and a chat with a nurse revealed that they had it down as 1pm! Someone had lost a zero somewhere. Luckily that time they managed to fit me in there and then, so no harm done.

I theorise that time acts differently when anything to do with Government services is concerned, you have to develop a thick skin and the patience of...well, maybe not a saint, but certainly someone holier than moi!

PS - Can anyone give me a tenner, I've lorst me wallet and five of me fifteen ankle biters haven't been to McDonalds since lunchtime....and my Granny needs a heart op....and the dog's got mange...

25 Oct 2011

Make me laugh, damn you....

Why are UK scriptwriters almost without exception incapable of creating even half decent sitcoms? It wasn't so long ago we had the bizarre genius of Black Books, Whites, and a while before that Spaced and The Office even further back, but those apart we have churned out reams of utter unfunny shite in the guise of situation comedy. Yes, I know some of you think The Office was poo too, but if you've worked in that environment I defy you not have laughed at it, albeit while viewing through the cracks between your fingers. The marvellous Green Wing doesn't count as it was a comedy drama.

The latest example being Sky 1's Spy, where Darren Boyd unwittingly finds himself working for MI5. Sounded like a good premise, they could have done anything with it, and given Boyd's rather fine CV, having been in Green Wing and Whites, and that recent semi-documentary on the Life Of Brian, playing Basil Fawlty/John Cleese to a tee, I thought I'd give it a go. Mistake. Spy is centred around Boyd's character's hugely annoying and precocious 10 year old son, who, each time he appears makes you wish that Boyd would tell him to shut the fuck up. I lasted two episodes before deleting the recorder's series link.

On the other hand, our American friends still know how to hit the old funny bone with Curb Your Enthusiasm. I never "got" Seinfeld, although I did watch it a few times, might be because I'm not a New York American Jew, but its creator Larry David came up with a real gem in CYE back in 1999, now in its eighth series. For those unaware of this show, buried very late on Sunday nights on E4 (or possibly More 4, I can't recall), LD plays a version of himself as a sort of over-moneyed LA version of Victor Meldrew with more attitude and mucho swearing, who always ends up on the wrong end of some obscure point of principle that no-one else agrees with.

LD and his mates all seem to have far too much money and time on their hands and spend their entire existence either on the golf course, eating in exclusive restaurants or going to premieres with their equally self-obsessed and horrible wives, Mrs LD excepted. There's a guy in it called Funkhouser (most of the primary characters are lapsed Jews) who has a voice like a bull elephant with a speech impediment and who is often at loggerheads with LD, but the biggest ongoing war is with best mate Jeff's wife Suzy who refers to our hero as "Larry Fucking David".

OK, you can see all the pratfalls coming but that doesn't spoil the enjoyment. Because of LD's past successes there have been a stream of guest star appearances, and the last episode featured Ricky Gervais playing a selfish arrogant total dickhead version of himself....so he wasn't acting at all then was he...:)

Favourite moment (from way back)...Larry was given the responsibility of placing an ad in the Obituary column of the local paper for his recently deceased aunt. The wording was to be something along the lines of "She was my favourite Aunt"...I'll bet you can guess what was printed!
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If you've not yet watched the last ever episode of Spooks....here be spoilers...

With a sad and poignant ending the best thriller Brit TV has come up with in aeons finished on Sunday night as Ruth expired in the arms of her unrequited love, good ol' Harry Pearce. The series was pulled by the makers Kudos while still at the height of its powers, and had this been an American show you can bet your bottom dollar it would have been extended beyond the point where there was any life left in it, à la 24.

There were a couple of pointers that may mean a resurrection or a follow up show at some point, one being the reappearance of Tom (Matthew McFadden) at the behest of Harry in order to dispatch the evil Russian who was ultimately responsible for Ruth's demise, and secondly the show ended with Harry back at his desk, not retired as might have been expected. We can but hope..

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Fades....if you've not started watching it yet, I wouldn't bother. It started well then slowly disappeared up its own whatnot. It's still OK, but only just.

20 Oct 2011

Room 101

The last remaining vestige of socialist utopia in our benighted isle as imagined by Atlee's post-war Labour Government is the very wonderful NHS, currently under threat of privatisation by stealth from out ghastly rulers. One of many nightmares fuelled by the current Tory led coalition is the end of the free at point of service NHS, something I dread should that ever happen.

Yesterday saw my third operation in just under a year on the wires and pulleys in my hands, or to use the technical term, correction of Dupuytren's Contracture. As this is my third time I now know exactly what to expect. While I cannot fault the excellent standards of the actual operation, the amount of attendant bureaucracy is mind-boggling.

When I got my first letter in early September informing me of the operation time, I noticed that they wanted me at the hospital on Wednesday 12th October by 7:15am! That would mean getting up by 6am at the latest, and those of you that know me will realise that this filled me with some dread. I am not and never have been a "mornings" person. I still regularly recall my dear old dad getting up at the rise of the sun, and wandering about the house whistling at some ungodly hour. The memory makes me smile and cringe at the same time. How can anyone be so cheerful so bloody early?!

Anyway, I digress. I phoned the appointments people and asked if they could find me a date later in the month at a slightly later time, say 9am - still quite early enough, thank you, but if not I'd take it anyway as I want the op over and done with. "OK" she said, "we'll see what we can do". A fortnight passed and no call or letter, so I ring again and was informed by answer-phone that the lady in charge of appointments was on holiday, and could I ring my consultant's secretary, which I duly did. Of course this meant explaining the situation again, and she told me that the reason the original slot was so early was so that the consultant could see me before the operation. I asked her what time he arrived in the morning, and she avoided the question - obviously a lot later than 7:15am I'll bet. I and the other patients would just end up sitting around for hours with the chill air conditioned breeze wafting through the gaps on those horrible do-up-at-the-back smock things they make you wear.

She was actually very helpful and said she'd look into why I had not been contacted and get back to me. A few days later a revised appointment letter arrived..great, they've changed the slot... for Wednesday 19th October...at 7:15am. It made me laugh that did! So I rang up the secretary again and asked what was the point of changing the date if the time slot remained the same? "Oh" she says, "well, you should have explained yourself better". I smiled to myself and bit my tongue, "Never mind" sez I , "I'll take it anyway"..."Hold on" she replied, put the phone down and came back and said "How about 10am, same day? It'll mean you won't see the consultant beforehand"". "Great" sez I "He's seen me twice already, I'm sure he knows what he's doing". Just why they couldn't have done that first time round I don't know.

I arrived at the hospital yesterday and guess what, the consultant saw me anyway, and I was under the knife within an hour. When I got back to the ward the guy in the next bed who had been operated on directly before me was moaning about having to turn up at 7:15am and then sitting around for two hours while nothing happened. Wahey!

Bureaucracy addendum - In the short time between arriving at the hospital and being put under the lights (lovely reflection of my op to watch in the light cover by the the way!) I was asked the same pre-op questions by the ward nurse, the theatre nurse (who supplied The Stone Roses on her iPod as operation music - marvellous!), and the anaesthetist, who all filled in three different versions of exactly the same form. This doesn't really surprise me, having to deal with HMRC in my day job. Anything the Government get involved in is bound to be in at least triplicate!


The cuts affecting the NHS were in evidence in the ward after the op. The discharge nurse (in the sense of leaving the ward, not messy liquids..heheh) asked if I would need any painkillers. and as I have not used any of the co-codamol prescribed after the first op for that or the second op, I told her no thanks. A bit of soreness does not necessitate medication in my opinion, unless you're a complete wuss. Medications are handed out all too freely these days if you ask me. She told me that was just as well as they had run out of the "proper" stuff (co-codamol) and could only offer me paracetamol in any case.

Despite all the endless layers of officialdom and general waiting around, the NHS is a truly marvellous thing and the coalition will rue the day their pernicious and self-serving little Health Bill becomes law.

If the Evil Coalition get their way, which is depressingly likely, the first stages of creeping NHS privatisation will soon be upon us, enabling Dave's mates to set up phoney health companies in order to make vast profits out of the rest of us, and we will all be nostalgic for the old ways of endless paper shuffling related above. There's still time to sign 38 Degrees' petition to to stop the changes, so if you haven't already signed it, get off your arse (well, hit a few keys on your keyboard) and do it now! At nearly half a million signatures one can only hope, perhaps naively I'll admit, that some notice is taken in Westminster.

30 Sep 2011

WARNING - If you're sat down reading this, you're facing the wrong way...

Two "Victor Meldrew shouting at the telly" moments this morning on BBC Breakfast got the day off to a good start pour moi.

First up was an item introduced along the lines of "Health officials are concerned about the spread of e-coli through the handling of muddy vegetables". In best Meldrew fashion I grunt at the telly "Not if the fuckwits wash their spuds and then their hands before cooking the buggers". Sure enough a minute or so later a food safety expert informs the proletariat that it'll be ok if you remember to WASH YOUR HANDS. Keerist On A Bike! Sez me, "Can I have your job, you're probably paid at least six times what I earn". Then of course I remember that this country is full of drooling clodheads who need a warning sign to be told which way to sit on a toilet.

Later we had an item on the Welsh Assembly's sensible decision to slap a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags from tomorrow in a bid to reduce the huge number that end up slowly decomposing over hundreds of years in landfill sites. Off go the Breakfast team to ask some Joneses and Evanses what they think of this. One woman's comment was "5p? That's far too much. 2p yes, but 5p?". Cue Meldrew "THAT'S THE BLEEDIN' POINT YOU NOOB. It's supposed to scare you off from using the blighters". Another environmentally challenged leek follower reckoned it was "outrageous". Twat.
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Clothing/face mismatch of the day award - Walking to work this bootiful sunny morn, I espy a geezer wearing a green shirt, brown tie, sensible trousers and shoes. Nothing unusual about that, but what made me almost laugh out loud was the fact that he also sported a short but bright red Mohican haircut and enough facial accoutrements to start his own scrap metal business. Obviously on his way to work, one wonders what he does for a living - I would bet he isn't an accountant!
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Apparently the South West of the country has the highest proportion of folk defining themselves as bisexual (0.9% - watch out Mike!), according to the Annual Integrated Household Survey. People get paid taxpayers' cash to find out this stuff for us, and bloody grateful we are too. We all know how vital it is to be aware of how many bat for both sides, and where they live is, don't we?
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Keeping with the theme of all-round utter bollocks, you may have heard of the lg Nobel Prizes, a spoof alternative to the mainstream Nobels wherein awards are given to what seems to be completely pointless but genuine science. A comprehensive list of recent winners is here, including a study to find out why we sigh, and another to determine if a tortoise can "catch" a yawn from another, and my fave, a study that found out that "Dizziness in discus throwers is related to motion sickness generated while spinning". Really? Well I never. Essential work all of this of course!

On the other hand a fire alarm for the deaf based on the the expellation of Wasabi fumes seems, on the face of it, to be quite useful until one ponders that once awoken by the stinging odour of Wasabi (a very strong horseradish) the deaf person would probably be blinded by the tears in their eyes and end up walking straight into the fire! Marvellous...:)
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BBC website news headline of the day: "Fox attacks MoD as Navy cuts loom" - that fox has some balls, and how do financial restrictions "loom"? I want to know.
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This "summer" sure has been odd, bookended by April and September's sun, with barely a day over 20C in between. Ah, well, at least it's been drier than in recent years. Any of you who are moaning about the current unseasonal warm weather (yes, you) can shut up. After the coolest summer I can recall, which probably delighted the same people who are moaning now, surely you can have the good grace to allow the rest of us to enjoy a few days of decent weather before the floods followed by ten foot of snow descend on us?

Now what I need is a gratuitous pic of a bikini clad lovely or two......

There you go...Clapham Common apparently


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And finally....from our local rag, this prospective employer must be the only one advertising who receives a number of applicants exactly equalling the number of vacancies...

28 Sep 2011

Luke Rhinehart - The Dice Man

If you're over 30 but have not read this book, you've probably heard of it, so when I saw it on a market stall at a very reasonable £2.50 just prior to going away for a week, I thought it would make an ideal holiday read.

The basic premise concerns the author, a successful New York therapist, who, after years of living a "normal" indulgent suburban life and becoming bored shitless with it (we've all been there), decides to do something about it. He invents dice theory, where eventually all ones life choices are determined by the shake of one or more dice, the ostensible aim being to destroy the self, or ego.

Live your life at random by rule of the die - sounds mad but worth a try until you realise that the choices presented to our by now thoroughly unlikable hero are all his own in the first place. Surely a true random experience is only to be had by taking arbitrary choices that you haven't come up with yourself in the first instance?

It's a good theory, ruined by shoddy practice combined with a level of amorality that only a self-obsessed overpaid 1970s middle class American could come up with. Indeed there is an irony in attempting to destroy the self and replacing it with an existence that is the ultimate in selfism. A good half of his choices end up in some form of coitus, which after the second or third instance becomes predictable and boring.

If you get past the first expression of dice living where the protagonist decides by dice to rape his downstairs neighbour, who also happens to be his business partner's wife (and that is only the start of an amoral slide to depravity) then good luck to you, I wish I hadn't.

Oh, one other thing, this guy, who claims to be a shrink and therefore should know what he's talking about claims that the most difficult emotion to express is self-pity. Huh? That has to be a joke surely, although it's hard to tell to be honest.


Still gets 3 out of 5 for sheer brazenness!

26 Sep 2011

You win some, you lose some...

Brit TV is currently showing its usual mix of populist trash, but hidden away in there are some real gems. Spooks, sadly in its final series, continues to show that Brit writers can do complex thrillers without coming across as hackneyed or laughably cheap. The big question is will Harry and Ruth finally get it on, after tip-toeing round each other for years? Probably not - my guess is one or other will get to meet their maker, just as lips are about to touch. Why is it that in the US any old bollocks, and most of it is, gets season runs of twenty plus episodes, and if even slightly successful go on for ever and a day, while over here, a series (never have liked "season", a word that should only apply to the weather, cooking, or sports) is rarely more than six episodes? Bit of a rhetorical one that, it's money of course!

Warning - very minor spoiler alert...

Last night we caught up with episode one of The Fades which shows promise as BBC Three's next Being Human. All kinds of weird shit going down here, including a teenage schoolboy hero (it is BBC Three after all) Paul (the suitably angsty Iain De Caestecker) who can see the dead, and has nightmares of impending apocalypse, his mate, who is not troubled by those social hang-ups, zombie-like creatures (SFX - very good) who can move lightning fast (I've always wondered why zombies have to move sooooo slooowwwwlllyy, which in reality renders their threat negligible), gun toting female clergy, unfortunately killed off. Female interest is supplied Natalie Dormer who played Ann Boelyn in The Tudors, who although she dies, can of course be seen by our hero and his older mentor figure. She is (was) married to a history teacher who plys his trade at our hero's school, and will obviously get involved in the shenanigans at some point soon. The shenanigans appear to involve the impending apocalypse as seen in hero's nightmare (SFX - dodgy) which obviously the unresolved dead have something to do with. You see, some of the dead disappear, not "go to heaven", merely disappear when their soul-light envelops them, others stay on earth when instead that light merely goes out, the selection being purely random in a fitting dystopian fashion.

An interesting premise, with a fair bit of gore. Marvellous!

I was going to go on about Dr Who but Phill has said it all here. The sooner the modern DW is put back in his Tardis the better in my opinion. Utter bollocks enlivened by the occasional joke, and the luvvly River Song, who everyone else seems to hate - all the more for me then!

"Knit for me, or die..."
As for foreign TV, we await the new series of Forbrydelsen with mucho anticipation. The chunky sweaters! The constant gloom! The Scandinavian introspection! The minute detail! And Sofie Gråbøl's perfect jean clad bottom is always a joy!

15 Sep 2011

Heaveee

"Oh no...it's gone all heavy, maaan"
There would be no more appropriate title for this missive, for, ladies and gents we are going to be talking metaphysics, religion and....stuff.

Walking to work this morning, apropos of nowt at all, I got to thinking about the role religion has played in the shaping of the human race, and whether or not there is a God, as you do. Having been brought up in a conservative (small c) and religious family, whose church going antics ceased to appeal round about the age of fourteen, I feel have enough experience of organised religion to comment, so there!

Since time immemorial religion has been used as a cover for murder, rape and pillage in the name of a greater god, opposing sides fighting with equal conviction that their religion, or even more narrowly, their branch of it was better than the other lot's so only "we" can win. In the times Before Science (or BS) a complete and blind conviction in the preposterous teachings of one's favoured religious text was taken as a certain truth, no matter how unlikely those writings. In the case of The Bible writing about something of which there was no record hundreds of years after the supposed events being a case in point. There are people today who go under the oxymoronic banner of Creationists who still take every word literally in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary. In a way I admire their conviction, although it is utterly impossible to have any kind of debate with them.

With the advent of modern science when Copernicus discovered that the Earth went round the Sun and not vice-versa, small chinks in perceived tenets began to appear until, fast forwarding hundreds of years, we arrive at Darwin who proved conclusively that the human race evolved, and didn't fall out of an apple tree, modesty preserved by a fig leaf, or summat. The ridiculous nature of religious dogma was once comically summed up by Rowan Atkinson, waaay back in the Hell Sketch on Not The Nine O'Clock News where Rowan as The Devil is welcoming in the new intake to Hell..."Christians, ah yes, I'm afraid the Jews were right". Heehee.

Therefore one has to ask, is there or is there not God? It would be so easy to declare myself an atheist as there seems little evidence of a God, benign or malign, as stuff just happens, seemingly at random. Go ask the Japanese if you don't believe me. Being a "glass half full" type, I am a committed agnostic, or 100% ambivalent, who knows? I consider it is impossible to prove one way or t'other if there is, is not, or even was, however briefly, a God. Something sparked the Big Bang, maybe that was God, and it lasted for a quantum fraction of the smallest amount of time possible, but exist it did. Or not. And he certainly wasn't a bloke with a white beard sitting on a cloud.

It's fairly obvious to me that God and the Devil are simply metaphors for the two sides of human nature, a consciousness that has always strived to know why we are here and what is our purpose. Religion was born out of a need to put a framework on these unanswerable questions methinks.

Modern Christian religion seems at odds with the world it exists in and struggles for relevance, and seems to me to largely act as a salve for the conscience of those who believe. If I find a fiver in the street, or swear at a motorist it'll be ok after a few Hail Marys or whatever.

In the USA in particular there exists a small but vociferous minority of ultra right wing Christians, that bloody awful Palin woman among them, who if they ever attain the power they seek will cause havoc in the world, havoc to equal that already meted out by the equally slavering Muslim extremists and the ensuing chaos and carnage caused by the reply to their actions carried out in our names. Not that I know enough about it to comment, but there seem to be a lot of Muslim countries that still exist in a BS state, and some of the more manipulative and grudgeful religious leaders there have used that ignorance to their own black-hearted ends.

While all this was going through my head, I looked up, and lo the Wellingborough Road had parted, and Ed Milibrand was leading his people to freedom.....

8 Sep 2011

The Crack Of Dawn

A lovely thing it is too....

As you may know I am undergoing a series of operations adjusting the wonky wires and pulleys in my hands, or to use the technical term, corrective procedures for Dupuytrens Contracture. Operation No.3 has been in the pipeline for a while now, and I told those lovely people at Trauma & Orthopaedics that a date in September would not suit as I am somewhat busy this month.

The appointment letter arrived today, my date is now 12th October. On the 13th and 14th I have gigs scheduled, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem as I now know what pain and discomfort level to expect, and both concerts are "sit down" jobbies. No, what made me harrumph was the time of the appointment. They want me there at 7:15 am!!

Hairymofo of God, why so early? Mind you I know for a fact that the actual op could be up to two hours after this time, during which I'm given a five minute cross examination to see if I've contracted Beri-Beri or grown a second head, and the rest is an interminable wait. I'm a grumpy sod in the early morning at the best of times, but as well as having to put up with getting up with the sun, I will not have been allowed to eat anything from 2:30 am, and can only drink water from 6:30 am. Boy am I going to be in good mood. The taxi driver better know where he's going or I may well be up for murder.

6 Sep 2011

A Face That Says "Punch Me"

When discourse turns to televisual entertainments, my best mates delight in telling anyone who will listen that they have never watched ITV ever, unless by accident, as it is shite. I have to say that having sat through two thirds of Syco's latest offering "Red or Black" last night (I was knackered having returned home after four nights under canvas - that's my excuse anyway) that the Halls' somewhat extreme opinions on our oldest commercial channel are entirely justified, if a little on the understated side.

That Cowell fella has hit a new nadir with this, his latest so-called entertainment. Basically a quiz show with the quiz element removed so as not to over-tax the atrophied grey matter of the prole participants, Red or Black is a waste of an hour and half of anyone's life, even the fuckwits who bay and howl at it from the audience pit. Tarted up with all sorts of tacky razzmatazz and fronted by those icons of godawful barrel scraping TV, Ant & Dec, who managed to fill minute upon minute upon minute of nothing happening at all with their usual inane chimperings, and filmed in front of a an audience that gave the impression that they were all gonzoid on Angel Dust, a contestant could win a million quid if they could manage to make a correct 50/50 guess on red or black ten times on the trot. Never in my 51 years on this planet have I seen such a festering pile of fetid galloping brain death stinking shite masquerading as entertainment. Even Big Brother looks like Chekov next to this steaming heap of re-fried skunk vomit.

Apparently some guy who actually won the million quid last time turns out to have a criminal record for assault and burglary, similar methinks to the offences committed on the senses and wallets of the gullible by Cowell. Oh, the irony! There is a bit of a hoo-hah about whether or not ITV, who knew of the contestant's dodgy past, should have let him on the show. Well I reckon you get the participants and audience you deserve.

Simon Cowell, the man who is lowest common denominator TV made flesh, will doubtless be knighted at some point in the future for his services to exports and ludicrous trousers or somesuch, but if I were the lucky monarch with the sword I think I'd chop his self-satisfied grinning fizog to kingdom come. What a pointless little man he is.

Ah, that feels much better......
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While I'm in a Mr Angry frame of mind - those Murdochs are a tight fisted bunch of joyless fuckers, are they not? While I was away camping at the weekend I left B with the request to record the highlights of the England footy game against Bulgaria on Friday last. It turns out there were none on free to air TV, as clan Murdoch retained complete control over the TV rights, probably laughing manically as they rubbed their oleaginous hands together Uriah Heep stylee.

Put them all on a rocket ship with Cowell and the Gadhafis and fire it at the Sun I say......the celestial object, not Wapping I hasten to add, although come to think of it...
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After eulogising Doctor Who from a couple of weeks ago, Saturday's episode was back to "meh" territory for me, but I can see how the kiddies might have been scared by it. It is good to see that DW has not forgotten that it is after all essentially a children's TV program. That's why it's on at tea time on a Saturday evening you know.
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28 Aug 2011

A Damascene Conversion?

Some of you know that I find the modern DW all a bit meh, and this current series has struggled to maintain my interest. To say I've had a Road to Damascus conversion after last night's episode may be over-egging the pudding a tad, but boy it wuz good wuz it not?

Doctor Who last night, watched after returning from the pub in a semi-drunken haze at about midnight, not only and amazingly kept my interest to the extent that I watched it all before passing out, not only that, but it made a kind of sense too! The whole thing centred on the delightful River Song who got the best line in the show saying she was off to a ‘gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled’ in 1938 Nazi Germany Berlin. Heheh. Rory locking Hitler in a cupboard was a "lol" moment too.

While Amy Pond undoubtedly does things to the heterosexual male libido, and I may be showing my age I know, but River Song could do things to me involving cream and probably leather....stop that now. What a woman! Apparently actress Alex Kingston once bit a fellow actor's tongue when she felt he was taking too long over a stage kiss - feisty stuff!

The question is can DW keep it up? We shall see.
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Tonight sees the sublime Bill Nighy starring in spy thriller Page Eight. Should be good.
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Now that Hurricane Irene has been down-graded to tropical storm, all of us over here in the UK are hopeful that all our friends on the eastern seaboard of the USA have got through the worst ok.

15 Aug 2011

The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strnen

First impressions are nearly always defining, nowhere more so than in business, be they from face to face meetings or from written communication. We received this magnificently mangled email at work today from the Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank:

Hi There,

I am the new business development manager for the Yorkshire and Clydesdale bank covering Northamptonshire,

As your aware over the last couple of years small business's have felt the brunt of the recession effects and in this time most SME customer have felt that they literally have not had adequate support from there bankers, That's not the case with the Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks, We have increased the level of investment in this sector ranging money being available to lend to increased staff count to service our current and perspective clients.

I would like the opportunity if possible to be able to come out and explain our proposition further, This will cost nothing but your time and hopefully you will find it worthwhile as most of the accountants i have had the pleasure to present to have.

Please contact me to arrange a time/date.

Johnny Badgramerr
Business Development Manager

That second paragraph is priceless, and if anyone can tell me what the last sentence actually means I'd be amazed. The message is so bad I thought it was spam, but no, it actually came from the Yorkshire and Clydesdale bank (sic). Would I entrust my clients to someone who shouldn't be allowed to have a word processor on their computer? What do you think?!
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A heartening example of language being used for good occurred on Facebook at lunchtime today, with me and young black rapper engaging in a great conversation on the BBC Breakfast page about respect (all typos left untouched, it is only Facebook after all):

Me
Respect is a much misunderstood word, particularly amongst the kind who went looting, who when they talk about respect actually mean fear. Respect is often an instant thing on meeting someone for the first time. If they behave in a civilised and courteous manner towards you, and you to them, respect is given and taken. On the other hand if the newcomer comes across as aggressive, arrogant, foul mouthed, or obviously has a chip on their shoulder, or deliberately speaks in a manner they know you won't understand, then I for one will not respect that person. I may fear them, but I will not respect them.

MC Jay-Zed (not his actual pseudonym, obviously!)
What type of behavious would you call "civilised and courteous "

And are you suggesting that "aggressive, arrogant, foul mouthed, or obviously has a chip on their shoulder" type behavour is only to be found in the 'streets'...? Or would you agree you can also find these behaviours in offices up and down the country?

Finally, what makes you think people go around deliberately speaking in a manor they know you won't understand?

Me
"Civilised & courteous" behaviour - isn't that self-explanatory?

"Agressive" etc - No of course not. Anyone from any walk of life can be disrespectful.

Last bit - I've had it happen, that's how I know!

JZ
I'm asking for your definition of "Civilised & courteous", I didn't ask if it was self explanitory

Middle part - ok cool...

And does an incidence provide enough grounds for generalization?

Me
Ok "Civilised & courteous" to me means acting in a manner that will engender a pleasant experience for both on a first meeting. Or, to put it another way "do unto others as you would have do unto you". Some people (and I don't just mean the young) barge into initial meetings like they have a point to prove even if they have never met the person before. If I meet someone, and they are polite and listen to what I say, even if they disagree with it, and I do the same to them, and instant respect is formed.

OK I may be making a generalisation, but I can only base my thoughts on my experience. And how do you know it's not happened more than once?

JZ
cool, we're generally on the same page.

And at least you're a lot more reasonable than a lot of the other people on here posting comments

Me
Thanks for that. We are obviously from entirely different backgrounds, but have ended up respecting one another, which is what it's all about really. Have a good day :)

JZ
and yourself, good sir.


I now seem to be down wid da kidz - who'da thunk it! After all the shit that has gone down recently, that little "chat" made me realise that the world isn't completely full of fuckwits and arseholes after all. There is hope!
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And finally......the Monday daily award for Mental Deficiency In The Face Of Domesticity is claimed by......yours truly.

Our office is above a restaurant, which although it has a state of the art air conditioning system cannot but help leave lingering cooking smells in our workplace, particularly after a weekend.

So, about eighteen months ago I bought one of those plug in air freshener things, got it out of the packaging, inserted the three perfume bottles, plugged it in and left it. I was always a bit underwhelmed by its effect, for although you could faintly smell its perfumed fragrances, the cooking smells usually won.

I also wondered why, when it said on the packet that the refills should last an average of three months, it was still working after a year, and indeed today! I thought "this is rubbish, I'll get a different brand". So I took it apart to find that the top of one of the three bottles had split and it was nearly empty, while the other two were almost full. Closer investigation revealed that the tops unscrewed, and lo, for they did issue forth smells of pleasantness. I had inserted the bottles but omitted to take the tops off! What a plank!
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12 Aug 2011

"Rah Rah Rah, We'll Smash The Oiks"

Boy, what sickener that week was, compounded by the populist knee-jerk reactions of our glorious leaders.

First up was Mr Eton Rifles with his ill-considered comments that convicted looters should have their benefits stopped. Yeah, right, let's deprive the lovable scum of the little income they have and make them even more pre-disposed to thieving and sticking metaphorical middle fingers up at authority in the form of bricks, fire bombs and worse. Great idea Dave. What's more, quite a few of the looters (I refuse to use the word "rioters" as it lends them undeserved political kudos) had jobs, so what about them?

Tonight on the news Labour leader and panda lookey-likey Ed Milibrand showed himself to be completely out of his depth when confronted with the articulate and righteous anger of one of his own supporters outside Brixton tube station on a walkabout. The 40 something lady was imploring her party's leader to do something about the youth who have nothing and feel completely disenfranchised by our laissez-faire capitalist society, and his reply was something along the lines of "Thank you, and it's been good to meet you" accompanied by a false smile and a thousand yard stare, after which he moved on, surrounded by party minders. That actually doesn't come across half as awful in print as the totally cringeworthy scene it proved to be on TV. The man has all the gravitas of a smelly day old damp flannel. If any Americans read this, he's a douche bag!

As for Corporal Clegg, has he said anything at all? If he has I've missed it.

I repeat what I said last time - withdraw all our armed forces from everywhere abroad and use the billions saved to set up a Government sponsored Community National Service for all 16 to 21 year olds not in education or employment. Even better, what about setting up a National Apprenticeship Program, for we've all heard countless times about the skills shortage.

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Despite having done this blog thing for a while now, my keyboard dyslexia shows no signs of improving. My most common error seems to be the words "with the" which usually come out as withe, as my fingers obviously cannot keep up with my amazing speed of thought. I decided to type this bit without correcting any erors and because as a result I'm probably concentrating harder there will be none...possibbly...let's see...oh, well, nearly.
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9 Aug 2011

London's Burning

I should be working, not writing this, but after seeing the news this morning I am a mass of negative emotion ranging from frustration to fear to anger, as I am sure you are too. I need to get this off my chest before I can even begin to think straight enough to work, so here goes. Written through a red mist this may well be riddled with typos and inconsistencies, but hopefully you'll get my general drift.

The continuing rioting and looting in London, now spread to Liverpool, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol, and on to God knows where else tonight, shows what a thin and flimsy veneer civilisation actually is. The ensuing chaos also shows up our rulers for the ineffective bunch of self-serving mealy mouthed stuffed shirts and blouses that they are.

Before Labour supporters jump on the Tories and their reckless cutting as being behind this, I consider that had the catalyst for all this happened before May 2010 the end result would have been exactly the same. The Metropolitan Police and the Tory politicians are all far too quick to blame all this on what they call "criminal gangs" out on a stealing spree, but we all know it goes much deeper than that. There must have been thousands involved in the eight or nine different looting locations in London last night; are you telling me that they were all part of "criminal gangs"? Yes, probably a hardcore element were organised crime, but the vast majority of these vile scum were teenage to mid-twenties chancers, out for a new pair of trainers or iPhone or HDTV, or whatever they could get their worthless hands on.

The reaction of Home Secretary Theresa May and London MP Dianne Abbott on this morning's BBC Breakfast was a bit of eye opener too. first we had Ms Abbot, who is mainly known for her left wing liberal (to put it mildly) viewpoint, saying that the riots cannot be allowed to continue, and any means should be deployed to stop them breaking out again. This of course implies a curfew and sending in the Army to enforce it, a view that I certainly agree with. May on the other hand sat there metaphorically wringing her hands and blathering on about consensual policing, and asking the parents of the scum to make sure that they know where there precious kiddywinks are. They already know, and what's more, you daft bitch, I'll bet some of them joined in too! Abbott/May in role reversal indeed.

Once this frankly terrifying outbreak of social unrest has died down, what you may well ask, can be done to stop it? Well for one, pull ALL our troops out of foreign climes now, and use the huge amount of money saved to set up a form of Community National Service for all 16 to 21 year olds not in work or education. The first six months of the no doubt paltry sentences that will be handed down to the few looters who get caught and convicted should be served repairing the damage they caused to their own communities on a 12 hour day basis, supervised by coppers with whips. OK maybe that last bit is going a bit far, I'm not after a job with the Daily Mail, honest! Ah, I see I seem to have found my battered sense of humour so now maybe it's time to stop.
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Oh, and while all this has been kicking off' our private pensions, already lying whimpering on the ground after several body blows in the last two trading days, are now being given a further kicking, and are heading for intensive care as we speak. Isn't life grand?
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7 Aug 2011

Forever And Ever

i have just spent what feels like the 17th consecutive weekend day re-painting the cast iron gates to Burwood Towers. Actually it's the 7th, which is long enough. Days 1 to 4 were spent stripping the bloody things of accumulated paint and exposed rust, days 5 & 6 applying two coats of rust repellent zinc undercoat, and today was coat one of two of black Hammerite. If anybody else suggests I should have sent them to be sand-blasted and dipped I will shout obscenities at the moon...when it's up.

Mind you, compared to my mate Geoff that was nothing. He's had to put up with four months of having his house turned upside down after blocked drains in his street caused some foul smelling flooding to six houses. As it was an insurance claim, and as is the way with these things, the job was characterised by delay and buck passing, with so many firms sub-contracting it sounds like Carry On Bob The Builder to me. No doubt the initial flood was caused by some cretins shoving all kinds of inappropriate waste down their loos, and no doubt these numpties are the ones who are complaining the loudest.
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Are you enjoying the collapse of the economies of the Western World? You are? Then you need your noggin replaced, especially if you are one the unfortunate millions who do not enjoy the largesse of a Government pension. I've just seen eighteen months of small gains on my measly private pension, that brought it almost back to the level it was at the start of 2008, wiped out in the last two days of last week. And it ain't over yet.

Aside from that, when the world's biggest economy loses its AAA credit rating for the first time ever, we should all be seriously worried. The higher interest rates this entails will eventually be borne by those at the bottom of the economic pile, ie, you and me people. So anyone who takes delight in the downfall of the USA should be very careful what they wish for, or put their brain in gear before a gloatfest, or preferably move to China.
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TV - it's all a bit shite isn't it?
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Man City 2 - Man Utd 3...The most loathed club in the land get narrowly beaten by the most envied...I'll bet some misguided souls didn't know who to boo! It made me laugh though. Scarf Man really has got no idea has he? Oh, hang on, didn't I tip Citeh for the title (again).....ho-hum
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Anybody want to know about the beginnings of Prog Rock in the UK? No? Well sod you then ;). If you did, it's here
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You remember Bag Lady? Well the environmental health people have been in touch with her (no, it wasn't me) and as if by magic her 703 dogs have shut up. Doesn't stop Bag Lady from letting one of them crap on the pavement though. If I catch the blameless mutt at it, a charming mobile phone video will be made for future leverage.
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Right, the paint has been scraped of my gnarled mitts and now I'm off to cook a no doubt wonderful sweet'n'sour.


Scrummy!

29 Jul 2011

Miserable Lie

When The Smiths took indie rock by storm in the mid 80s I was one of thousands of fans who loved their music, and found Stephen Patrick Morrissey's lyrics witty and intelligent.

I am sad to say that since the demise of the band Morrissey's personality has become more and more self-obsessed and narcissistic to the point where every utterance from the increasingly isolated former icon's mouth merely shows him up to be, as he would have said all those years ago to be "Half A Person", and that's being generous.

His latest ill-considered piece of spotlight hunting had him saying to his equally deluded fans from a Warsaw stage that he thought the tragic deaths in Norway were less than equivalent of animal slaughter for fast food. Turn away now if you're already feeling queasy...

“We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown, with 97 dead. Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried sh*t every day.”

Jaysus Christ on a bike! If Morrissey had a shred of decency or humanity in his bloated crypto-fascist body he would realise that making such a comparison is wrong on so many levels, and idiotically simplistic to boot. One of these days these desperate attempts to drag himself back from artistic irrelevance will backfire spectacularly, if this isn't that instance as it fully deserves to be.

Morrissey has since tried to justify his nasty rhetoric, but I won't bore you with that. Read about it here if you have to.

A Facebook friend highlighted Morrissey's idiocy followed by a suitable put-down and after over thirty replies, some of which included rambling non-sensical justification for their hero's drivel, sensibly deleted the thread after this piece of crap:


"100,000s have been died at the hands of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, many innocent of any crime and some who's only crime was to defend the sovereignty of their nation. We spare them no thought, even praise the work of "our boys and girls over there" as if it's all a big game. A few dozen white people die and suddenly we're all treading on egg shells." 

Talk about missing the point, this man is so far off he's on another planet entirely. Connecting the Norway tragedy to any other moral outrage is as irrelevant as it is tenuous. Yes you may well be right about our wars in hot dusty places, but right now the comparison is crass and stupid. Think about the families of all those who died in Norway before you go off on a moral outrage trip, please!

I shall withhold the guy's name to protect the "hit keyboard before engaging brain". If this was a piece of trolling then it sure got me going, but from its tone it seems to be serious. Un-fuckin'-believable.

22 Jul 2011

Fear Of Music

Torchwood - an anagram of Doctor Who or utter bollocks? Or both?
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There's 5 dogs in there somewhere...
About six months ago a new resident arrived on our street, a scruffy woman who has the appearance of a Bag Lady who has come into enough money to buy a house, and luckily for us she chose one two down from chez nous. With her came a number of dogs, at first thought to number three or four, but later confirmed as five. Almost as soon as she arrived with her own kennel club, said mutts were climbing over the fence and mucking about in neighbouring gardens. D, who has the misfortune to live next door to Bag Lady frequently found her mutts in his garden, who it seems were pretty much allowed to wander about untended whenever she was away from the house. Although not a problem to us, D & my neighbour had to put up with garden invasion and incessant barking as soon as one of the pack heard one of us in our gardens. Although fences have been strengthened since, and garden invasion is no longer a problem, one mutt in particular who looks like some kind of poodle/hound cross is frequently to be seen wandering about in the road outside. When asked about this Bag Lady's response is "Oh, he'll come back" and then to continue her conversation with a friend stood in her doorway. She won't get any sympathy when it gets run over, I'll tell you.

Bag Lady's lackadaisical attitude was in evidence again recently when she held a party for some young kids in her back garden. They camped in the garden overnight, and again, we were not disturbed, but L who has D between him and Bag Lady said they were kept awake by the noisy little blighters until 4 in the morning. Obviously Bag Lady had just left them to it, and probably sleeping in the front of the house did not hear the cacophony from her garden.

I hope her lazy outlook on life is not reflected in her personal hygiene!
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The impatience of some car drivers is well known and illustrated yet again the other day. Approaching a young woman crossing a road, admittedly at a fashionable dawdle, a middle aged bloke in some kind of sports car of the type Clarkson and co would describe as being favoured by "cocks", doing no more than 5 mph decides to parp his horn loudly as he got close to her. Jeez, it's not as if he didn't see her and making her move a tad faster would have saved him all of 3 seconds. Fair play to the woman, she ignored him completely, which made him even angrier. Catching my eye he glowered at me as I looked straight back at him slowly shaking my head. He took off from the junction with a roar and a tyre squeal. Clarkson is right, his kind are indeed "cocks".
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I am used to Phill's missus regaling me with tales of woe regarding the over-stretched HM Revenue & Customs staff and the ludicrous management dictats they have to put up with, but this takes the biscuit. Due to a tax worker's tiredness (Friday post-lunch perchance?) a client of mine had her limited company accidentally liquidated. This could have had serious consequences were it not spotted early, both by me and the client. The tax worker admitted that he had erroneously got my client's company name mixed up with a similar sounding company that was in liquidation and in his "tiredness" accidentally attached the two sets of records together. Sad but true.
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It's our annual family BBQ on Sunday and so far, touch laminated chipboard (can't afford wood furniture these days), the weather forecast is looking quite good. Watch while I feign ignorance and let Robert take over the BBQ (I'm buggered if he reads this!)
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Aggressive begging is a thing that I thought only happened in documentaries, but I was a target for it the other day. My view on begging is never give them anything, for although this country is broke, there is still a safety net, stretched to breaking point as it may be. No-one need starve here, they can just go without Diamond White instead. And they make the place look untidy.

Anyway, I was walking home the other day when a slightly deranged looking young guy mumbled something incoherent as I passed him in the street. As is my policy I ignored him and walked on. Next thing I know he's shouting at me "Oi, I'm fuckin' talkin' to you". Idiot that I am, I turned round. Once he got my attention he started a rambling nonsensical diatribe that possibly included drivel about me going home to feed the wife and baby, or maybe his wife and baby, I couldn't tell. He wasn't drunk, and didn't look stoned, and although his teeth all seemed to be pointing in different directions I just think he was a maybe a Murdoch or two short of an obfuscation of liars. After a couple of minutes of this crap I told him "Cut the bullshit, you want money, right?" "Er yeah, can I have 40p?" he mumbled. I almost laughed. All that for 40p? Have some ambition, man. "No, you can fuck off" I replied, turned and walked off, instantly regretting it as although he wasn't a big bloke, he was definitely a bit mad. As I walked away I could hear a stream of half-hearted abuse being shouted at me, which quickly petered away. I looked round and he was already talking to his next victim/punter.

You may think my views on begging a bit harsh, but face it, if you give these pests money what are they going to spend it on? A nice cheese roll and a tub of macro-biotic yoghurt? No, I don't think so either!
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Some of you may know I do a music blog, and a few weeks ago I did a brief line about Steven Wilson (he of prog rock kings Porcupine Tree for the uninitiated) and his soon come new solo album Grace For Drowning, and included a video clip from his website. On Blogger one is able to see where traffic coming to your blog has come from, and this piece has had hundreds of hits directed from file sharing sites in the vain and frankly idiotic hope that I have uploaded an album that hasn't even been finished yet. Prescience is a great thing, but unfortunately I am not yet privy to time travel.
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That's all folks, such is the exciting life I lead. In the words of David Byrne "Heaven...heaven is a place...a place where nothing...nothing ever happens", ergo Shoesville must be Heaven! Aren't I a lucky boy?

8 Jul 2011

Notting Hill 2 (og, Grant) - Wapping 0

Did anyone see Hugh Grant on Question Time last night? What a fella! He's certainly gone up in my estimation, and is anything but the wet liberal wine quaffing proto-toff he comes across as in his films. Within seconds of the program starting he was off, rightly describing News International's decision to axe NotW as "A cynical managerial manoeuvre which has put several hundred...(innocent) not editorial staff out of work...(while keeping) the editor while Milly Dowler was hacked in a job". Mrs Brooks'  position is looking increasingly untenable and by the time I publish this she may well have gone, and good riddance.

Moving on to Cameron's stooge on the panel Chris Grayling's refusal to say how the enquiry into the sordid goings on at NotW would be set up, Hugh said that he "smells a rat" in that "Cameron is still thinking "do I stay in bed with Murdoch or do I cut him loose...and finally become my own man"...he's squirming" And for balance he also laid into Labour's Douglas Alexander, agreeing with him that the whole thing is obscene, etc, etc "but is not a fact that you (Alexander) were at Rupert Murdoch's party (full of Westminster politicos by all accounts) a few weeks ago?" He later interrupted a spat between Grayling and Alexander with "..you're  quarreling over who was the most in bed with Murdoch, I would say it seems a pretty even match to me".

Commenting on the fear in which Murdoch is held by UK politicians, Grant made a link between the then Mrs Ross Kemp's confessional gaffe before a Select Committee of MPs re paying bribes to police, and the MP who asked the question (Chris Bryant) being outed as gay in The Sun some weeks later, and MPs getting the message that if they were to be too inquisitive their personal lives would be destroyed  Powerful stuff indeed.

Grant projected more gravitas in his pinky than the two indistinguishable grey politicians put together. Oh, Shirley Williams was there too dispensing her usual common sense, and  former Sun journalist Jon Gaunt, who was a little too fond of the sound of his own strident and whiny voice for my liking. Gaunt rather shot himself in the foot by asking Grant "who are you to tell us who we should or shouldn't watch" in response to Grant's fear of Fox News rearing its ugly head on a fully Murdoch controlled BSkyB. Grant's instant and obvious response, which got a big round of applause was "and who is Murdoch to tell us who we should or shouldn't vote for". Marvellous!

The NotW issue took up nearly all the program, but there was time for a last question on the frankly idiotic decision to award the Thames Link train contract to a German company forcing the only UK train maker to lay off most of its workforce. Jon Gaunt redeemed himself answering the audience member's question of how the Germans and the French can still manage to build all their rolling stock in their own countries thus apparently circumventing the same EU legislation that the Tories would have you believe was responsible for the UK contract going abroad. David Dimbleby asked Gaunt how the Germans and the French "get away with it" and in the best traditions of tabloid journalism, Gaunt said they got away with it because "they stick two fingers up to the stupid legislation". Sad, but essentially true. Regardless of the macro economic reasons for sending the contract across the channel, which ultimately saves jobs over here (another debate that one, but Shirley Williams nailed it), as Hugh Grant said it is a morally depressing state of affairs that we are no longer competitive on the manufacturing front. In all too predictable fashion, Grayling and Alexander then proceeded to blame each other. Sad but inevitable.

QT can sometimes be very dull, and it is a long time since I've watched the entire show, but last night's edition was a gem.

Murdoch's clumsy ploy in crushing NotW out of existence is so obviously a ruse to sweeten the way to him taking full control of BSkyB, which I'd be amazed if it is not approved, if not now, at some later date. One can only hope the Government have the balls to tell this horrible embodiment of everything that's wrong with global capitalism to go do one, but I do not hold out much hope while politicians of all colours are afraid of Murdoch's power and influence. If Murdoch is "a fit and proper person" Then I am Tamsin Egerton's bikini line waxer. Further developments tonight indicate that Ofcom will put a big obstacle in the way of Murdoch's takeover ambitions by launching a "fit & proper" enquiry after the police have concluded their investigations, leading to a big fall in BSkyB's share price, so hopefully my inital view is wrong!

Back to the furore surrounding the hacking scandal - we should all be very careful what we wish for. Remember that countless scandals, lies, and tales of corruption in high places have been exposed by the press over the years, doubtless more than once involving legally dubious methods. Whilst surely no-one can argue, that for example, uncovering the obvious endemic corruption encompassing football mandarins using whatever method comes to hand is to be applauded, hacking into the phones of murder victims is plainly wrong. What the press in general and News International in particular is in need of is not legal censure but a moral compass. Quite how this is done is another debate, but placing restrictions on the ability of the press to uncover wrongdoing by the not-so-great and the not-so-good is the start of a slippery slope to a world where the amoral rich and powerful get away with their questionable practices with even more ease than they do at present.

7 Jul 2011

The Wizard Blew His Horn

Hairy has aged a bit since
the first film...
Today's shocking revelation that the vile Australian's Sunday rag may have hacked into the mobile phone of Hairy Porter in order to find out the details of the long overdue dénouement of the seventy one part film franchise in advance of its world premier tonight at the Doon Cinema, Dalmellington has sent a whole generation of 30-somethings, who, lest we forget, were only lustful urgings in their parents' loins when the first film came out, into a scweaming fit of gusset ripping knicker wetting. J R Hartley would only say "No comment" when asked if this would spoil the filmoid experience for the hordes of childlike adults in thrall to Hairy's every utterance, while all the time counting through a seemingly never ending wad of £50 notes in a Uriah Heep like fashion.


"You're my wife, now"
Seriously though, can the powers that be let the moral vacuum that is the vile Australian and his cronies take full ownership of BSkyB at a time when he is more loathed than ever before? Unfortunately, probably yes, for after a short delay for expediency Murdoch's evil magick will cast a spell of fear over the powers that be leaving him to stride on in his quest for worldwide media domination without hinderance.


"Mmm I'd like you to lick that too, but sssshhh,
...you never know who might be listening"

Meanwhile, the flame haired woman with the pretentious parents who carnt spel Rebecca is going through all sorts of semantic twists and turns in the course of desperately attempting to put new spins on her admission back in 2003, while sat alongside former Cameron employee Coulson before a Parliamentary committee, that the NoTW paid police officers for story information, or to put it another way, paid bribes. More interesting methinks is the fact that the coppers have sat on the list of potential phone hacking victims now causing all sorts of moral outrage and indignation since 2006. Why, one has to ask? I think the answer will turn out to be what we may all suspect, but me, I couldn't possibly comment!

One wonders how many folk currently expressing righteous indignation and threatening boycotts of the NoTW, a paper they probably don't read anyway, regularly buy The Times or pay a Sky TV sub? You can excuse Sun readers for they are not supposed to know any better, but the rest should stop paying into Murdoch's evil empire if they had any chutzpah. Of course since writing this Murdoch thinks he's got round the shit & fan scenario by closing down NoTW, no doubt to soon re-open as Norks on Sunday or somesuch. He really is a reptilian little sod that man.

Now then Hairy, where did I put that copy of Mr Norrell's Book of Darstardly Machinations and that potent mix of dandelion, elderflower, deadly nightshade and frogs' gizzards?...I've a cunning plan to turn £50 million pounds into a useless prancing over-gelled footballer. What do you mean, Roman's done that already?.....Oh well, I'll have to settle for £30 million pounds and a lummox........that's been done too? Damn!