28 Sep 2013

Sowing The Seeds Of Obsession - A Beginning

He powered down the central hub for the weekend, locked the pod, and made his way down the long flight of stairs to the exit. By the street door and lying on the floor was a small envelope. He picked it up, turned it over to inspect it, but found no indication of its origin; indeed, there was no writing or typed text on it at all. He opened the envelope and inside was a small key and a handwritten note. "You will need this when you arrive home" was the sum of its content.

Deposited at the city transport hub at the top of his street, he walked on down to the entrance to his block. Taking the opportunity to forgo the lift he ascended the three flights of stairs at speed, the only exercise he got all day in the week, and, breathing hard he arrived at his door. He passed the keycard through the lock and stepped into the hallway.

When he walked into the living space, there it was. He approached it with a mild curiosity. Viewed from the left side it appeared to be orange. He noticed that changed as he looked at it from different angles. It spoke to him without a voice. He sat down cross-legged in front of it and stared deeply at it. He was aware that a passage of time had passed as a faintly gnawing hunger eventually forced him to leave it and make his way to the kitchen. As soon as he opened the fridge door he realised he was missing it already. Hurriedly, he grabbed a bottle of beer, opened it and threw together a cold meat sandwich, and then rushed back to the living space fearing it would be gone.

It was still there. He resumed his position of supplication, this time at a different angle, to see if another perspective would be illuminating. Again it tugged at his soul. He was compelled to pick it up, and passing it from one one hand to the other he noticed it was warm to the touch in one hand, icy cold in the other. After an indeterminate while he put it down and saw a slit in one face of it.

Then he remembered the key. He rushed to the coat stand by the front door where he had hung his jacket, seemingly in another era. He retrieved the envelope, tore it open and extracted the key, while running back to the living space. He sat back down in front of it. The slit was no longer there. Panic rose through the very core of his being. His heart rate was increasing alarmingly. He picked it up again in his left hand and it stung like a thousand wasps, but he could not let go. Shaking with the pain that had subsumed his fear, he discovered that simply by transferring it to his right hand, all the pain went away. He put it down and the slit was there again.

Gingerly, but knowing it had to be done, he inserted the key. He could not recall turning the key, but he was suddenly filled with a surge of joyous wonderment as everything was revealed in its stark beauty.

Days later, he told his psychepractor "I remember very little, but I know it took a long long time. And when it was over, it had really only just begun".

...there may be more...but then again, there may not...

9 Aug 2013

Anesthetise me, now...

Gawd, was 90s UK indie music dull, or what?

We found this out, or rather had long forgotten memories of "meh" rekindled last night. You remember the Malt Shovel Music Quiz on Monday, the quiz that never was? Well, The Fucktard Brothers and P went to the damn thing on the correct night last night.

The quiz is hosted by a shambling tribute to every Working Men's Club MC there ever was, and his soma-inducing style has in the past made us say that we would never go to one of his quizzes again. But that was General Knowledge, this is Music, so what have we got to lose? Three hours of our lives we'll never see again, that's what. To think we paid £2 per person for the privilege, too!

We started off well enough, playing our Joker (meaning double points) on the first round, a musical general knowledge thang where we got ten out of ten. The next round, a missing words from titles of tunes thing, we got eight out ten. So far so good, although we were already struggling to stay awake, to the point where round three, the place where our rapid decline started in earnest, has been entirely erased from our my memory already...ah...got it; food related song titles and artist names...or was that round two?

Anyway, this third round we scored a miserable four out of ten. Then....music, at last! The first of two rounds, played from a cassette deck (no, really) was name the musical from the tune. None of us know much about musicals, but I'm not complaining, specialist rounds are to be expected, and it gives teams lagging in other areas the chance to catch up. I believe we got four of them.

The last of the two actual music rounds was "Groups". That sounds a bit more like it we thought. It wasn't anything like it at all. Trying to identify a group from a too short snippet of a song, cut short before any hookline comes round, is difficult enough. This is compounded when all the groups concerned were taken from the same genre, and mostly from the same time period. My opening sentence says it all. One dreary Razorlight was followed by another ennui-inducing Starsailor, to the point where IT ALL SOUNDED THE SAME.

Two points illustrate the sheer anodyne whiny vapidity of it all. One - standing out like a stream of bat's piss when all around is dark was a song by The Verve, taken from their recent utterly forgettable Fourth album. At least this one ventured outside the 90s. Two - we failed to identify Bonio's dulcet tones on a U2 song near the end, because by then we wanted to bite the MC's face off.

And, yes, had the round been twenty second cut-outs of prog rock classics, I'd probably have got them all, but it would honestly give me no pleasure to watch everyone else in the room becoming more and more pissed off.

If you're going to do a Groups round, by all means bung in one or two highly eclectic tunes to sort the men from the boys, but making most of it unrecognisable by leaving out hooklines of songs unknown to most in the room is pointless. Vary the genre for fucks sake, and throw in a few popular things that most will know, otherwise folk will just lose interest and not come back again. More than one team left before the end.

This may read like sour grapes because we didn't win, but coming third in an enjoyable and involving quiz would have been no problem at all, believe me. This was about as enjoyable as being forced to listen to an endless loop tape of prosaic and dishwater-grey UK indie....err...

Out of the eight or so teams present only half got more than half marks. We came third with 80 points out of a possible 120, there being two points per correct answer. The winners got 86.

Wombat Omnishambles will not be returning to a Malt Shovel quiz of any variety while it is hosted by this sack of lard who is to quizzes what Hot Spot is proving to be to cricket. Worse than useless.

6 Aug 2013

Wastes Of Space in Time Travelling Omnishambles

A 30 minute programme to announce the new Dr Who? I know TV schedules are poor in the summer, but come on; this makes Countryfile look like must-see TV. Good result though!

This was inevitable, and you've probably seen it already, but it's worth repeating: .

Ooh...sweary! I have often thought of hanging a sign in my office that reads "Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off" :)

Spam scams from Nigeria, land the morally suspect opportunist, have not really changed much over the years, but "Harry Black wants to give you part of his Lottery winnings as charity" did make me laugh. If anyone falls for that, they deserve to have their bank account raided until it is sore.

Butterflies are magnificent and beautiful creatures as well as performing an important role as pollinators. Apparently due to a combination of successive appalling summers and the increase in pesticides they have been suffering a rapid decline in recent years. This year however, the budlea outside my office window has been swarming with large and small whites, peacocks and tortoiseshells in particular. It must be down to the glorious summer we are having, for once.

There is a National Butterfly Count here in the UK this year, so my stats have been winged (ouch) off. However, holding a count in a rare example of a "proper" summer may well give skewed results, methinks.

Talking of wastes of space...

Last Thursday while stood in the bar of the very fine drinking establishment that is The Malt Shovel, Phill and I cast our eyes over an advert for their Music Quiz the following week. We thought we'd give it a go, having never experienced a quiz of the musical variety in this venue, and so this Monday, Phill, P and I turned up all expectant, and probably wassname.

Monday was the 5th of August. On reading the same advert again, it said, clearly too, the quiz was on Thursday 8th of August. Considering I'm an accountant (allegedly) it seems I can no longer read numbers. Phill has just set up a publishing company where he is, amongst other things, editor-in-chief. It seems he can't read words.

The conclusion is that we are each 50% of an idiot. P was by turns exasperated and amused at our thorough uselessness. :)

I met a record collecting legend today. Back in the late 60s and early 70s there were many UK bands without record labels who made private pressings of albums that were either given away or sold to their usually very localised and very small fan bases. The print runs were never more than 99 copies to avoid Purchase Tax, the forerunner of VAT. All of these have been collectable over the years, but the jewel in the crown, for no discernable logical reason, other than it looked and sounded great, is Dark Round The Edges by Shoesville's very own Dark.

The album has recently been given a deluxe reissue, and Dark's guitarist Steve Giles, who some of you who reside in these parts may remember as the Giles in Giles Photography of years gone by, visited my office today and loaned me some examples of the new lavishly tooled reissue for a soon come review by moi in my other guise as the very pale reflection of Lester Bangs. Steve's a lovely bloke; we chatted about all things Dark, and I even managed to correctly guess the street name from the photograph on the front cover (see above), taken in Steve's then living room. First guess, too! A prize of an unripened banana to any Shoesville residents who can do the same.

The review will either be on DPRP or Astounded by Sound! in the hopefully not too distant future, if any of you read that nonsense.

England 2 English weather 1 Aussies 0 - Ashes retained. Wahey!

25 Jul 2013

"No, it's my pet bishop"

Some pictures...

Is it my grubby little mind, or...how the blazes did this get past Advertising Standards? Mucky girl!

On the day of the birth of Prince George Anaconda Flange-Triptych D'Steel Wheels Windsor-Battenburgcake or whatever the tyke's name is, I along with what I suspect was actually a majority of the populace were more than slightly annoyed at the meeja feeding frenzy over this non-event, and took little or no notice. I did laugh when they referred to "The crowds outside Buckingham Palace", which must have numbered...ooh...tens.

Entering into the spirit of the occasion, starting early in the morning on the day of the Second Coming, I posted a trio of bon mots informing the world (well, my 14 friends on Farcebook, at any rate) that there was a "Woman, Pregnant", and later a "Woman still pregnant", and when finally the Goddamn Miracle Of The Gilded Getoutofmyfuckingsightyouuselesswasteofspace Shouting At Husband Spectacular happeneth; "Woman gives birth", elaborated with "Ginger afterbirth eats nurse!" This is of course essential information that everyone must be endlessly informed of until they die of ennui....zzzz....

It seems no less than lawyer's friend Mr Ian Hislop has nicked my joke, judging by this billboard, snapped yesterday.

As someone has already said to me; try and sue him, just try! :)

Now, let's be clear on this, I'm no Republican, as it is fairly self-evident that The Royle Family bring in more in tourist income alone than the £40m or so they cost the public purse every year. Just ask any Japanese or American tourist, at least those over 40, or in other words, the ones with the money, why they're in London, and I guarantee you one of the items on The Itinerary is to go and gawp at Jim Royle in Buck House so they can send the pics home of Uncle Jim-Bob keeping his over-stuffed gut out of profile in front of said Victorian pile. I will admit there probably aren't many Japanese blokes called Jim-Bob, and why they seem equally obsessed with our bunch of undeserving privileged Germans is beyond me, given that they have their own version of royalty and attendant daft outmoded class system back home.

Digression is my middle name...no, I ain't no Republican, but the saturation coverage given to this rather common natural phenomenon was enough to get me to seriously consider joining the ranks of the revolutionaries, until some bloke fronting a Republican group appeared on BBC Breakfast to rightly criticise the Beeb's OTT coverage. I have never seen such a determined miserablist, well, not since I saw Joy Division at a wrist slicing ceremony in Accrington in 1978, at any rate. What do these dour sods do for fun one wonders?

It's a summer of sporting triumph for Team GB (especially the Siff Iffricun branch). Dull Scottish bloke wins tennis match, which was actually rather good considering how he stuffed the favourite against probably even his own expectations. The British & Irish Lions won a dwarf-throwing competition Down Under. It's always good to stuff the Aussies, especially on their own turf, but I paid no attention, as Rugger is a sport that breeds indifference in me like no other.

Then we had another Afro-Brit, this time Kenyan by way of a Siff Iffricun education, winning Le Tour in spectacular fashion. And, he did it on a bicycle, would you believe!

Of course, the real action is ongoing with our stolen Siff Iffricuns showing those Aussies how it's done (again) in the crikit. Having appropriated some of South Africa's finest sporting talent as our own, it is ironic that the real tests of how good we are both at rugby and cricket will probably come when we play...South Africa!

Oh, and we didn't win The Open Golf wassname, but golf is merely a right wing talking shop and an excuse for a piss up that is only played by odious salesmen and middle management types, masquerading as a sport, and of course a waste of good countryside, so I care not a jot.

It's no longer unbearably hot, so I'm off to put some clothes on and clean that nasty stain off the carpet.

Finally, finally...I know most of you consider, perhaps rightly, who knows, that most of the music I bang on about in my other list of scribblings is akin to a choir of Ornette Colemans playing kazoos, but if you like yer rawk, you cannot fail to like this righteous racket. If you do find this unpleasant you really need to take your ears to the doctors...


18 May 2013

Hops are good for the brain

Last night the light switch in our kitchen broke, it had been on its way out for some time. After purchasing the replacement double switch from the local DIY emporium I struggled to make any sense of the minimalistic wiring diagram included. You see, the switch that fell apart was archaic, and probably made of bakelite. And its internal structure was completely different to that of the new replacement.

After much head scratching i managed to get one of the two sets of kitchen lights working, and figured I'd have to take up the offer from my upstanding next door neighbour, qualified spark, and all-round decent bloke that he is, to fit the thing for me.

However before that a trip to the pub was in the offing to watch the Cobblers get utterly humiliated at Wemberlee by Bratft City FC. Two pints later and half way through the second half we leave the Cobblers 3-0 down and without a prayer.

On arriving home I looked at the cryptic wiring diagram again and had a "What if?" moment. Whereas pre-beer I would have been loathe to try it in case I fused the house, post-beer it was no problem. The "What if?" moment proved to be the solution and now both sets of kitchen lights work fine (he says, touching wood and looking for black cats).

Proof, if any were needed, that beer is good.

On the way to our local independent DIY shop, that goes by the name of "24 hour party people DIY" (not), as I shambled along the residential street that runs parallel to the main drag where said emporium is located, walking towards me were two very smartly dressed young men, probably in their twenties, one of whom was holding a bunch of leaflets.

Yes, they were indeed Jehova's Witnesses, and as we met one says to me "Good morning sir, have you heard the word of the Lord?" Now, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer where instant repartee is concerned, I normally would have said "No", and walked off.

But, apropos of nowt at all I quipped "What? Jon Lord has given rise to a religion already? Well, in that case all I can say is I much prefer the Mark 2 version, and In Rock was a classic album." The two chaps look at each other nonplussed, and crossed the road to avoid me as fast as their little legs would carry them without actually running.

When I arrive at the DIY shop I am greeted with the sight of marketing genius at work. In order to compete with the DIY superstores the small local shop has to be a bit creative.

Your average DIYer in the UK is a bloke, and probably over 40. What do 40 plus year-old blokes like? No, not that you dirty minded reprobates...beer! To the left of the counter is a display showing evety type of bottled ale currently produced by local micro brewery Nobbys. Of course I bought some, but only the one bottle. I was only buying a light switch after all, and as I said to the man behind the counter it would probably be unwise to go home to the wife having spent more on beer than on the object of the shopping trip!

Marketing genius though, don't you think?

On the way home from the shop I passed a Polish couple obviously in love, holding hands and talking animatedly to each other of their nuptial plans...or not, as I couldn't understand a word. The thing that made me notice them was that he was wafer thin, almost translucent, whereas she was really quite fat. It was almost as if she had siphoned all the phat out of him.

I'll get me coat...

This has been brought to you by the sheer power of believing really hard...and Harvest Pale and Copper Dragon, and as such may well be full of grammar and spelling errors. So be it.

16 May 2013

Universally Challenged

Things we learned at the Lamplighter pub quiz last night:

1. "Stinkfoot" is not a brand of camel.
2. The collective noun for arseholes could well be "a pucker".
3. Adopting a thick Yorkshire accent and regaling the nearest young lady with "Ey-oop darlin'...are you into t'Canterbury scene?" might not work as a chat-up line.
4. Daft Punk are terrible, gay or not.
5. £41 - see, those doubts and misgivings were entirely wrong.
6. This morning, a slight headache.

"It's no use getting haughty with me Alan, your feet do smell baaad...and tell Steve to get his head out of yer arse"

This has been brought to you while munching on a crab paste sandwich.

8 May 2013

Ridiculous notions of superiority

Last night I watched episode 1 of series 9 (Jeez, that's about 7 too many!) of The Apprentice. Not because I wanted to, but because I read that the Radio Times would publish a review of it from the pile sent in by midday the following day (today) by us obsessive viewers.

So while it was on I banged out this nonsense: 

The Apprentice has become a tad stale and predictable over the last couple of series, as year on year the contestants have become more and more clichéd, and these days seem to be mere ciphers rather than real people.

The repulsively shark-like Stella English and her failed bid to part Lord Sugar (to me he is still mere “Srallan”) from some more of his loose change in return for no discernible effort on her part summed up how self-serving these attention-seeking meeja whore wannabes had become.

The franchise has gone from being comedy gold to veering between either repulsive or boring TV, and as a result I found myself not lasting more than a few episodes of the last series. Of course, what drives this show is the contestants, and whether or not we like or loathe them enough to continue watching to the finale, and to that end, what does the line-up for this new 9th series promise?

Will Srallan’s bullshit detector pick up on gems like “I take inspiration from Napoleon”, or “I’m half machine, half biscuit” or "I have plastic tits and the brain of Einstein" or "I will do felching, if he wants" or “I will do anything to win; cheating, manipulating, mass killing, I will do it”? Predictably enough he told the guy who came up with the Napoleon line that he would be his Wellington. (Ed's (that's me, too) note - some of these quotes may have been embellished slightly, and one of them may well be entirely fictitious) 

Watching this new preening bunch of neatly tailored and over manicured products of the system striding across the Millennium Bridge like so many surplus catalogue models one could almost smell the pungent aroma of too much shower gel wafting across the Thames, and out of the TV. Yeuch, I’m feeling queasy already.

And so to the first task; split into two teams each have a shipping container full of “imported goods” (low end consumer goods and tat) to shift, the one who sells the most wins. All a bit Del Boy, doncha think? The boys’ team leader is Jason, who describes himself as having an intelligence “like a machete in the jungle”, my first LOL moment of the programme. The too quick by half to volunteer Jaz is the girls’ leader, who seems so effervescent she’s in danger of going off at any moment like an over-excited bottle of Bolly.

A lot of the girls this time look more like hairdressers or failed models than business women, although I’m sure they’d bite my head off for suggesting that they may, at some point in their careers, use their sexuality to get on in life. There's folk in here with real jobs, too, believe it or not; we have Jaz the teacher, Leah is a doctor (what of I know not, but I assume medicine) who unfortunately is cursed with a really annoying adenoidal nasal voice, and yes, she looks like a hairdresser. Imagine being told you've got 5 days to live by a female Donald Duck with hair extensions. Jaz does not look like a hairdresser, she just looks like she needs one, with a pile of wild corkscrew hair flailing about, wild and untamed, a bit like its owner, Scary Spice reinvented. 

There’s some odd looking fellas too, Alex from Cardiff having been christened Dracula by a teammate, and not unfairly it has to be said. Fair play to the guy, he does make the first sale, and before breakfast, too. That's what the undead can do nowadays, beat you to closing a deal. There's another guy whose name escapes me who looks like he has a Mr Whippy (that's an ice cream, ya mucky pups) on his head.

Amongst the tat to sell was a job lot of loo roll, which Alex helpfully informed a potential customer was "not used", my second and final LOL interlude. After the usual bout of rushing about, shouting over one another and wielding large mobiles like light sabres, and some comically poor leadership and infighting from both sides it’s time to head back to The Boardroom, which, as we all know, is as fake as Uzma’s tan. The girls have called themselves “Salon”, the guys “Spanner”...if only, No, it was the more prosaic “Evolve” for the girls and “Endeavour” for the blokes.

The guys go straight for each other’s throats, probably not advisable when Alex is in the room. Jason was hopelessly ineffectual though, and deserved to be slapped down. The girls were slightly more united. 

The guys won the task by £58, and the gals retired to the greasy spoon to swap lipstick tips. I had hoped Srallan wouldn’t fire Jaz as she seemed to have more personality than about half the rest of her team combined, and she has very scary hair, as I may have mentioned. However, as a leader she didn’t have much clue, including starting off with a cliché ridden motivational speech, her charges staring at her gormlessly. She even took her part of the team to Chinatown to sell the ornamental lucky cat, the sort you see in Chinese restaurants up and down the land, at 9am. It was of course, closed - priceless.

Sugar homes in on the hopeless sellers in the team, and eventually Jaz brings back Sophie and Uzma. The leader attempts to steamroller the other two who seem to be the female equivalent of all mouth and no trousers, particularly Sophie who sold nowt, but looks cute, so Srallan kept her. Uzma did enough in the task to save herself, which meant the chop (suey) for Jaz...boo, hiss...so one good character and one good reason to watch again is already gone. Ho-hum. 

Will I stick with it? Possibly, particularly as in tonight's episode the teams have to come up with a new flavoured beer and sell it to pubs, guaranteed to get me shouting at the TV I reckon. However I very much doubt I’ll watch the whole series on this showing. It’s high time this tired old series is given its golden carriage clock if you ask me.

After re-reading that I was aware it would need a bit of editing before I could send it to the Radio Times, but not to the extent I realised upon finding out that they wanted 150 words max! 150 words! Blimey, some of my convoluted sentences are longer than that. Anyway I somehow manged it and a severely truncated and toned down version winged its way off late last night, no doubt to be ignored by the powers that be at RT. The things I do for this writing lark!


23 Apr 2013

Behind you!

My conspiracy radar went into maximum twitch mode this morning when the news on BBC Breakfast informed me that Canadian authorities had arrested two guys who were planning to bomb a passenger train en route from Toronto to New York. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the image of bomb-waving terrorists being arrested by some blokes in bright red on horseback crosses my mind and makes me smile) admitted that their plan, such as it was, had barely got beyond the "What if?" stage, or at least that's the impression you got from reading between the lines. Good on the Canucks, you may rightly think, they've shown the FBI how it's done and actually nipped an atrocity in the bud.

Then they have to go and spoil it by suggesting connections to that handy terrorist suspect coverall, Al and his Quaedas, an not just that, but the I-ran branch. I have long suspected that while there may be an organisation of that name, the word "organisation" is in itself highly questionable. More like a bunch of extremists who all like the idea of blowing up a few Westerners now and then, who occasionally meet in cafés to drink very strong green tea and smoke the pipe and rant at each other about the Yankee infidel through their beards.

Back in the USA the FBI are, or it seems were, as they've gone very quiet on the subject, desperately trying to link those two bastards in Boston to AQ, or at least they were before they were caught. Once it turned out their suspects were a) beardless and b) white they knew that they were probably looking at home-grown nutcases. The gnarled old cynic in me would suggest that the Yanks are praying that the suspect who survived pegs it in hospital, for, once both of them are brown bread, they can link them to whoever they please with no comeback.

Also, have you noticed how American nutjobs who gun down school children are never linked to AQ, oh no, they're just lone wolves that no amount of gun control would stop, at least not while the NRA are paying for the Senators' holidays. On the other hand as soon as anything explosive and larger than a bullet is involved, it must be the fault of those pesky Islamists.

Anyway, I've drifted off topic slightly. Not only do the Mounties link it to AQ, but AQ "in Iran", a country with no known connections to AQ, and a country where the Yankee military-industrial complex sees the next killing, literal and metaphorical, being made. Yeah, let's leave North Korea alone, they might actually cause us some damage should we invade, but I-ran? Bring it on! Yeah, right, whoop, whoop. It's called "preparing the ground" and if they repeat these spurious allegations enough times they'll convince themselves it's true. It worked in I-raq, did it not?

You can almost smell the testosterone from here, and that's just Hilary Clinton. Thank gawd for John Kerry that's all I can say.

I have a t-shirt that bears the legend "Twatter - because no-one wants to know what you had for breakfast", an article of clothing I can no longer wear in public as I've joined the ranks of Twits, hypocrite that I am! Purely for promotional purposes you understand, as it is indeed true that folk do seem to like telling each other what they had for breakfast. What is that all about?

The promo thing is for my music scribblings and I'll hold my hands up and admit it actually seems to work.

Do not feed the animal

7 Apr 2013

Sorry about yesterday, let's start again...

Firstly apologies for yesterday's dull nonsense! This is what I should have written about...

On the eve of Good Friday, Phill and I ventured to The Lamplighter for their Easter Beer Festival. Phill has already described this in great detail, but, like him, as soon as we arrived a righteous need to get really quite drunk descended on this ne'er-do-well.

If you've not read Phill's report, and you really should, three pints in the charming Zoe joined us. She would have liked to have joined us physically too, as her description to me in French of what she would like to see happen to us made all too clear.

Me, I understand enough Français to glean the words "wet", "lick", "hard" and a few others depicting various states of moisture and erectness. The fact the plural form of "you" was used made it obvious that she wanted us both at once.

Flattering as it may have been to have been on the receiving end of some "draguer par une nanette" who was less than half my age, it was also mildly terrifying for this settled old boy! Appropriately given the language used, and despite having no desire to go for a pee, having a bladder the size of a small planet, I took the French option, and ran away...to the loo.

Being somewhat inebriated, after a few seconds of standing in front of the urinal with nowt happening, I momentarily forgot why I was in the gents, wondering why I was standing there, JT in hand with diddly happening. A lovely visage, I'm sure!

Then I remembered so I stood there some more. Phill claims I was in there for three hours, but, if you know him, he is somewhat prone to exaggeration. It was probably only two.

He's older than me, you know...

Of course, the best bit of the evening was Zoe thinking I was three years younger than him, and that he looked like Rick Mayall. Deny it as he might, he does, although less so as he gets older I'll admit, he's more like Albert Steptoe now.

" 'Arrold, do I keep me teeth in?"

Pished though I may have been, I kept my wits about me enough to stop Zoe having Phill taking any pics of me and her!

It was all rather a good laugh, I have to say. :)

6 Apr 2013

Mowing for Colbert

Today I mowed the lawns of Burwood Towers for the first time this year, as, for the first time in what seems like forever the freezing Easterly wind that has sent temperatures plummeting to well below average for ages finally abated to become merely a chill breeze.

After the mow came a lounge about in the sun, sat on the bench at the bottom of the garden. When the breeze slowed to barely perceptible levels the temperature in the sun was, ooh, all of 14C, a good 10C higher than it's been for a long time, and very welcome, too.

While sitting there basking something felt wrong, and I soon realised that it was up there, in the sky. The prevailing wind direction in this country is from the South West, which means that while sat on said bench you can gaze up at the clouds and mostly watch them going straight up the garden towards the house. Sitting as we are under this interminable region of high pressure that was centred over Scanddinavia and now sits on top of us results in looking up at the sky and seeing clouds coming at you from the North. All quite odd indeed.

It's all down to that pesky jetstream buggering off to Spain for the winter. No doubt it will be sat over us in a couple of months, or the monsoon season as it is now known. Can we have our summers back, please?

Today is also Grand National day, and those nice people at Sky gave me a free £10 bet which I invested wisely/wasted each way on Colbert Station, ridden by AP McCoy. That's £58.20/£10 to spend on beer/I never missed in the first place, then. Delete as appropriate after the race is run.

Our council, the glorious institution that is the NBC, or No Bollocks Continuously, has entered into a PFI with Balfour Beatty in order to erect some rather groovy new street lighting in out area. This probably means we will all be paying for it for many years through our Council Tax. But, looking on the bright (arf!) side, gone are those scourges of all urban areas that illuminate with that awful palid orange glow, and in their place are some low energy white light monsters, twice the height of the previous incumbents.

B and I have been watching the progress of their construction with increased bewilderment. Work started in the week before Easter and in the first two or three days, all the holes were dug, the new poles erected, the old ones dug out...and then nothing until yesterday, when the old ones were switched off and the new ones switched on.

There is no sign yet of the old ones being taken away, we will wait to see if this happens as indeed it should, strange working patterns notwithstanding.

There's a County Council election coming up. As I get older I have become increasingly alienated from mainstream politics, as all three main parties pay lip service to the electorate, seeing only power as the goal. This sad state of affairs is probably even more pronounced at local level, as councils of all sizes have always attracted little Napoleons in droves. Suffice to say I will be voting Independent if there is one or Green if there isn't. We're all going to die.

3 Mar 2013


B bought some oranges t'other day. Well, I say "oranges", but I reckon it could be the start of another food mis-labelling scenario. Fair enough, from the outside they look like oranges, but once the skin has been peeled and you bite into the flesh of a suspiciously pale looking segment...Cheeereeest on beeeek (no idea if they're Siff Iffrikin, jist gissin) are they tart, or what?

Methinks they are actually lemons. Some cunning fruit wholesaler has seen the increasing disparity in the orange/lemon futures market in favour of the former and got his slaves to stuff lemons inside orange skins. You think I'm joking...Actually, I do like it tart, and once I've got over the shock they are rather fun in a citrus-masochistic stylee, although the wince stays with you for a good half hour after consumption.

I have a friend who, while we were discussing the lead actor's performance in the cult classic The Wicker Man did not understand my referring to the guy as Ewar Woowar. I'll let him off for he is young, and I am old.

While we're on thesps, I've a joke about Anna Hathaway, but it's a bit rude... ;)

Mathematically, it was Spring on 1st March, but since when did the weather pay any attention to that? It's not really spring up here until the sun heads northwards over the Equator on 21st March (or 20th depending where you check it). Anyway, the last couple of days have indeed been Spring-like and in the direct sun it actually felt warm for the first time in ages. Marvellous!

I took advantage of this by having a roaring fire in the grounds of Burwood Towers this afternoon, combusting old bits of branches that have fallen from our 100+ year-old pine trees. You could've melted steel in it, such was the heat.

We're off to London tomorrow to see Phill's current least-favoured musician Steven Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall. Bet you're glad I didn't get you a ticket now, eh?

Anyway, apart from the gig itself, highlight of the day will be meeting up with two DPRP colleagues who up to now have been mere ciphers at the end of email or Facebook messages. 

Jez is the mad fool who volunteered for the Editor's job at DPRP and as such is the poor sod who has to unmangle my garbled syntax, and Alison is the polar opposite of me in the prog style of choice department. Mr Wilson is probably one of very very few musos who could have brought us together. It's going to be interesting chewing the fat. Bring it on!

Those Siff Iffrikins...they're all a bit mad, are they not?

21 Feb 2013

Horse Mythology

In the words of Robert Plant, it's been a long, been a long lonely lonely time for my two readers as this is my first nonsense of 2013. so, HAPPY NEW YEAR to ya!

Of course most of you will know that just over 4 weeks ago we lost Molly to the great back garden in the sky. Molly, The World's Loudest Small Ginger Cat had been in charge at our house for over sixteen years, and we miss her badly. Our house and garden is still infused with her spirit, and we both talk to her every day, a habit I can't see changing for some time.

In the world of pub quizzing, Team Squonk has switched allegiances from The Vic to The Lamplighter, and to be honest about it, the main reason is money. Our place in an almost guaranteed top 2 every week at The Vic had slipped somewhat over the tail end of last year, and our decision to switch pubs was made all the easier by the increasingly down-at-heel vibe of The Vic.

At The Lamplighter, a pub where things don't run out and the loos are clean - not something that should be a plus point, but sadly in this case it is, not to mention an actual choice in the beer department -  after last night's victory we have so far entered 11 quizzes, winning 8, second in 2 and fourth once. Nay bad at all!

The only drawback is that the quizmeister is not the redoubtable Mr Hollis, but you can't have everything now, can you?

The bulging Team Squonk kitty was reduced on Saturday by a team meal at the rather wonderful Golden China restaurant, and that is what it's all about after the fat lady sings at the end of day...or summat.

Best quiz team name from last night: "Taking The Pistorius" - Marvellous!

The world of work, especially for my closest friends is just too depressing to talk about, so I won't.

Before entering the dystopian nightmare of the daily work grind, we are woken by my alarm, and to keep me awake I instantly switch on the TV and BBC Breakfast. It's depressing enough to be no longer greeted of a morn by Molly demanding food followed by the delectable smile of Sian Williams, demanding...whoops, daydreaming again...but on Monday morning the misery was compounded by discovering that Bill & Co were on strike over proposed BBC staff cuts.

As I refuse to indulge in any news channel that the dreadful Australian-American and his godawful family have anything to do with, it meant dipping toes into the celeb-infested waters of ITV's Daybreak. I have to say that the 20 minutes or so that we endured that morning had to be some of the dumbest lowest common denominator and low-brow  shite passing itself off as news it has been my misfortune to view since...well forever, really.

OK, I'll admit that BBC Breakfast has its celeb slots too, but they keep theirs back until about 8:45 when all but the pro-slackers have already left the house for the office/factory/callcentre/whatever. Damn you, NUJ, let Bill go back to work, now!

Is it just me or do you find that reading articles online, in blogs mostly, where the writer has opted for white text on a black background, nigh on impossible? After a few sentences I find it becomes increasingly hard to focus and I give up. On the rare occasion that the I read the thing through to the end, when I look away I can still see the lines of text before me, imprinted on my retina.

White (or sometimes yellow - slightly, but not much better) text on a black background might look "cool" or whatever, but what's the point if it's unreadable?

It is just me? OK, it's been two years since my last eye test, so I'd better get it checked out, then.

Most of you will know that I'm one of those weird chaps who DOESN'T DRIVE. If cars had been around in the Middle Ages I would probably have been burnt at the stake, the fire lit by a ranting Jeremy Clarkson lookeylikey, playing The Firth Of Fifth on a lute. Anyway, being a permanent passenger has meant that over the years I have experienced the driving of many of my friends, family and colleagues as they ferry me about, lucky people that they are. I've probably sat next to more drivers in, say, the last 5 years alone than most drivers sit next to in a lifetime.

Therefore, I reckon that gives me a unique position from which to judge the driving standards of others, more so than drivers, whose actual close observation of other drivers is probably limited to only that of their partner.

About twenty five or so years ago my regular gig going companion was a guy called Padraig (name changed to protect the hopeless) who back then qualified as the worst driver I'd ever come across. Not only did he appear to have a need to drive ascloseasthis to the car in front's tailpipe, regardless of speed, but he had an annoying habit of setting out on journeys with an inadequately filled tank. This last folly once caused us to run out of petrol in the arse end of nowhere somewhere near Norwich. Idiot.

Having many moons ago lost touch with Padraig, nowadays the title of Worst Driver In Shoesville has long been in the grasp of my business partner. Again a name change to protect the blind is needed, so we'll call him Hale (see what I did there, those of you that know?). Hale passed his driving test in Ceylon. Yes, I know it's not called that now but he passed it so long ago it probably was still a colonial outpost when he paid the "examiner" the bribe...err...test fee.

Hale tootles along at 25mph everywhere without seeming to be the slightest bit aware of other road users. I've lost count of the number of near misses at road junctions suffered while sitting next to him, the latest of which happened late yesterday afternoon.

Approaching a fairly large junction near one of Shoesville's few remaining jewels in its crown, the rather nice Abington Park, there are clearly painted instructions on the road. The left hand lane is marked for ahead and left, the right hand lane for bearing right only, towards Wellingborough. The left hand lane always has a longish queue approaching the junction, and Hale always pulls out to the right hand lane to creep to the front, later to cut in to the left as we're going straight on. I always assumed he was aware that what he was doing was technically wrong and somewhat discourteous, but yesterday proved that seems unaware of this obvious instruction, too.

As he nonchalantly pulled in to the left, a loud "PAAARRRRP" from the driver he'd just cut up made Hale, a religious man not given to swearing, come as close as I've ever heard him in over twenty years to cursing. Although clearly in the wrong, he dissed the guy for blowing his horn! I knew if I had pointed out the error of his ways it would have been like shouting at Lemmy in a wind tunnel, so I didn't bother, but the Worst Driver In Shoesville gong shows no signs of changing hands anytime soon.

If you had really planned to murder someone, would it not be a good idea to wait until you could actually see your intended victim before pulling the trigger? Just saying...

While we are on the subject of dubious legal shenanigans, where the gorblimey did they find that jury for the Vicky Pryce trial? You know her, surely? The LSE educated leading economist, later to become head number-juggler honcho at such minor institutions as KPMG, the DTI, and Exxon, to name a few, who claims she was cowed by her stuffed-shirt of a hubby into accepting his speeding points...alledgedly, with knobs on.

Anyway, you're probably all aware of the mind-bogglingly dumb 10 questions those twelve model citizens asked the judge, but the published list omits No.11: "Dear Mr Judge - If I eat too much at lunch and have a desperate need for a number two, once in the facilities do I sit facing the cistern or facing outwards?"

A mini-feature on that parade of the instantly forgettable that is the Brit Awards this morning informed us all that Johnny-come-lately Robbie Williams, who won a Lifetime Pie Eating award or somesuch, had won his first Brit before most of One Direction had progressed beyond a sperm/egg collision scenario. Made me feel quite old, that did...

Also, it has to be said that if Emilé Sande, Ben Howard and Mumford & Sons are the best of British popular music, we may as well give up now. At least, as far as I can tell, none of those bland examples of stunning mediocrity use Autotune, and they do write their own choons, mostly. Me, I'm furiously ambivalent about the whole shebang. Time for a new punk revolution, methinks. Fangyewandgudnite...