Monday, October 29, 2012

Number 84

The Excitement Continues Unabated

We bought a new living room carpet. We got it from the second carpet shop we went to.

Did you know that Car Park backwards is Krap Rac?

Why does the council have mini bin waggons that are essentially cages on wheels? Why are they lockable? Do they put things in there that can escape? Or are maybe violent or otherworldly?

I can't burn all my rubbish as I still have beetroots.

Remember, if you click 'Like' on Facebook, their advertising algorithm will find anything remotely related to that like and target you with it. So, if you 'like' bananas, then expect an influx of yellow crescent shapes and possibly even Simpsons Porn.

She sells seashells by the sea shore. Why? I mean it can't be a very lucrative business, can it? Oh shall we go and buy some seashells from that nice lady or just go and find our own on this long stretch of sandy, shell-covered beach. D'oh.

It's really 2.15.

Gingers are dying out, apparently. This is a uniquely bad thing in my humble opinion.

There is stuff I should do in the garden, especially as it isn't raining...

But I didn't and waited on some bread instead. It was a gamble that in many ways paid off.

The only time my wife ever sounds petulant is whenever she sees someone else in a Fiat Doblo.

I'm going to deliver a lawn mower tomorrow, to Daventry. That should generate a line or two of interesting copy or maybe I can invent a story about a magical journey to the place that is so nice they named it thrice - Daventry Daventry Daventry.

We were in the carpet shop and I said to the wife if someone comes up to us and asks if we're looking for anything in particular I'm going to say 'a very small panda with big claws that mews' or possibly 'some Jerusalem Artichokes'.

After A Comes B

Musically speaking, the As are done with. A couple of Aqualung albums finished it off and I was on B before you knew it. The opening salvo was quite lugubrious with a double barrel of Kate Bush. The Red Shoes isn't an album that I'm as familiar with as I am the older ones, because I think, like So by Peter Gabriel it came out at a time when I was very much into a different thing. It's better than 50 Words for Snow.

I'm going to have to take crucifixion for this, I think. Try as hard as I have, I really can't find that much to get excited about with Jeff Buckley; he kinda reminds me of Kevin Rowlands singing the blues and I have really tried hard to like Grace but, you know, it doesn't give me the raging horn like it does some people; in fact, I really can't see a period in my future where I'm sitting around and I think, 'you know, I think I'll put on some Jeff Buckley.' I know, I should be mortified with my own poor taste, especially as I'm arguably more likely to think, 'hm, I think I'll put some Enya on...' I also think Hallelujah isn't the greatest song ever written; in fact Leonard Cohen probably should have his toenails removed with a vicious hoover for writing it.

Sorry. I know that will upset more people than me hating: The Clash, The Smiths, Muse or someone else that I'm supposed to like but don't, but thems the breaks with someone with such a nonsensical music taste as me. It isn't going to start a war and no one will be injured (unless the CD explodes in the fireplace).

Fortunately for me, straight after Buckley comes Blow Up Hollywood (my alphabetising is a bit random at times) and that means Collections.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Number 83

You Don't Get Nothing For Free

Der-dun dun dun. Woke up this morning. Der-dun-dun dun. Hating the world and everyone in it. Der-dun dun dun.

Actually, I woke up with another splitting headache. But as I said to the wife, I'm not sure its the steroids because one would have thought had it been then I would have had a headache for the last seven days and I've only had three fuck off and die headaches in the last seven days.

I'm not sure they've worked either and kind of wonder if just a week's worth of them is going to do anything. I mean, I do feel 'better', but 'better' is a relative word at the moment. I've forgotten what 'better' feels like or possibly I haven't and I just need reminding. I've also forgotten what it's like to have more than about 4 or 5 hours sleep (but that might be the tablets suggested the wife and as I can't remember 8 days ago, she might be right).

This week, apart from going ever so slightly mad, I attended the funeral of a woman I have known for nearly 38 years. She was the mother of three chaps I have known equally long - her sons - possibly three of the longest known people in my life with only a handful of relatives bettering that feat. I hadn't seen May for over 20 years, but I felt I needed to pay my respects. There were 7 of us at the funeral. It was a humanist one.

When I stopped smoking nearly 11 weeks ago I virtually stopped biting my nails. I'd never linked the two before, apart from whenever I've made an attempt to stop and my nails grew. However, I realised that the link is in fact quite tenuous and I have returned to biting my nails.

I am quite pleased with myself as I saw a smoking friend the other day and there was no temptation at all (and he wouldn't have let me smoke even if I'd asked him for one).

I was sitting in my office this morning at some fucking unGodly hour, because of the clocks, and I remembered something I was going to have a moan about a few weeks ago, but something more important obviously happened. This year's mushroom season has again been the piss-poor side of shit, but as September wibbled aimlessly into October, the wife and I with the hounds of the apocalypse took a trip over the Salcey Forest, always a great place to take dogs and a couple of times the place has yielded monstrous amounts of good eating mushrooms.

The first thing I realised was that it must have been a year since we were last there (and that is frightening, especially as I remember Halloween H2O coming out and that was 14 years ago and I would have thought it was maybe 8...); the second thing was that the place we usually park had been cordoned off with massive fuck off boulders. The main car park, now resembling a theme park, was heaving with cars and it costs £2 to park there. I turned around and headed back for a spot that wasn't crawling alive with people encouraged to spend more time in the woods.

The dogs were going frantic and I was growing incensed at yet another place to take the dogs that had been stolen from us in the name of conservation. Except I think this is a little more insidious than that; it's almost like an agenda against dog owners.

When I was at the county council, as an employee one of the perks of the job was access to things owned by the council at reduced rates - this stopped, but at the time it was useful, especially if I wanted to use swimming pool facilities, etc. One of the things that stopped was free parking at Country Parks. Now an arbitrary fee was placed on parking in these places back in 2005 and at the time it seemed like a kick in the teeth for the dog walkers - the good, honest, cleans-up-after-their-dog-walkers, the people who would patronise a country park, respect its rules and were also conscientious dog walkers in that they took their animals to interesting places. The fee charged seemed unfair, because the weekend warriors, the idiots who came to country parks in droves at weekends when the sun was shining, who didn't respect the park, treated it like a green disposable beach and generally used it and then left the wardens and volunteers to clear up after them.

When I said this to a warden I knew at Irchester Country Park his disagreed with me big time. "We need to encourage more people into the parks, even if its just a long education about how they should treat the place." But surely people like me are being penalised? "Not at all, you use the park regularly, don't you think you have to pay if you use it a lot?" Yes, but we don't cost you anything; you don't have to clean up after us! "But we need to attract more visitors or we'll lose funding." You'll lose funding despite the fact you charge now? "That's life in today's county council."

I do agree that we should pay something for the upkeep of parks, but actually a percentage of our council tax goes exactly to this department; so we are paying for it anyhow. I think and I've had some experience of this, that country parks actively try to prevent dogs from using their parks and more and more people who use these country parks are looking at dog walkers like they are social outcasts.

So it wasn't going to take a huge leap of understanding to expect the Forestry Commission to jump on this bandwagon. The Salcey Forest thing smacks of commercialism and I don't think having 2000 swarming fuckwits wandering round one of our forests is actually that good a thing. You can take the chav out of Shoesville but he's still just a chav, except this time in a forest. You literally cannot park anywhere near the main part of the forest now without either obstructing access or parking illegally; the main visitor centre is like Tesco's on Christmas Eve and suddenly Salcey Forest isn't a neat place to take the dogs, but a minefield of potential Marley disasters.

We are running out of places to take the dogs and I fully expect some of these places to start charging for parking, because someone can create a part time job patrolling these isolated car parks on industrial estates and ensuring that parking meters are fed and wheel clamps fixed, especially if you have a dog guard in the back of your car...

The Music Just Never Stops

I can see this running...

Still on A, but have thrown out two CDs this morning: Richard Ashcroft and the United Nations of Sound has been 'binned' - it's like watching your grandad dancing at a Beyonce concert. I have also dumped Tori Amos's Strange Little Girls because, frankly, I can't ever see me listening to it again.

I have sampled some Amplifier this morning (not likely to slip down my playlist too far at the moment) and Aqualung, who could be all manner of generic Coldplay styled bands, but retain something 'indie'. I am currently listening to All Saints and I don't have a problem with this. Do you?

I'm having a dilemma. I'm a huge fan of The Verve (or Verve as they were originally known), but I'm now onto Human Conditions another of Richard Ashcroft's solo ventures and it's really terribly meh and I think he's about to kill one of the last vestiges of my collector's mentality. I hate to admit this, but I downloaded the three Ashcroft solo efforts on the basis that I love the Verve like one of my favourite bands of all time (all based pretty much on their first album) and I think today is the first time I've listened to any of them. They've just been there, on the shelves, kept on the strength that it's Richard Ashcroft and he was in Verve.

I'm 50, well past half way if I want to be honest. I could be on the last leg for all I know, especially the way I've been lately, so what is the point of having some of this. Like the comics I got rid of; sometimes some things in your life are never going to feature again, apart from when you look in the loft for something else, or the search for a CD by Aqualung or the B-52s and stumble across it, but don't play it anyhow. Richard Ashcroft's solo career is toothless and anodyne. He is no longer required in my house on his own. Fired!

What's next?

Oh Jesus, it's that affirmative mad bastard from Burnley again... Song of Seven is like rotting guano.

Can I just say that since writing the above I have no thrown out 5 CDs (All of Ashcroft now and that bloody rank Jon 'You'll Never Tek me Alive' Anderson) and I expect that number will increase by the time the week is up. I will of course attempt to give these CDs to either Roger or One El, but they won't know that until they've read this.

Extreme Bread Making

I have placed the bread making machine on the roof and I've hired a helicopter to suspend me over it while I make something I won't eat. Why hasn't a television company hired me as a head of programming yet?

Soon & Bullet Points 

  • Something might happen.
  • Marley will roll in shit.
  • I will become depressed by 4.45pm.
  • Ducks.
  • More As.
  • Today really is the worst day of every year...


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Number 82

Garden Of Geda
Life is just hell; don't argue because if you argue then you probably don't exist. People who are happy are programmes inserted into our brain while we're plugged into some Matrix type machine in a billion years, living someone's pathetic existence and all in the blink of an eye. This is what the future us do for entertainment; they live an entire lifetime in a second (time is after all relative) just to show how shit life was before we ascended into higher beings. Then you'll probably go to Nando's.
Regular viewers will have noticed that I got bored. Round of applause to the observant. The problem is today is a bad day. I have a very defined and arguably OCD approach to certain days. Here is my guide to Phil's Specific Days:

Today (date varies): the fucking clocks go back. Today is the only day of the year where I want Scotland to fall in the sea and everyone of them to die. Them and Tories. This is a bad day; me and my old man really hate today; it's shit and I'll fucking stab any cunt who says differently. Okay?
December 21st (ish): This is a really ambivalent day. I love it and hate it in equal measure. I love it because the nights are starting to draw out again and I hate it because a) it's the shortest day and b) it isn't fucking Christmas yet.
December 25th: lay-in day; do nothing, sit around and complain about the commercialism of the season while being an atheist. Huge waste of time, if it has to happen then it should be like the Olympics and held somewhere else 99% of the time. That would fucking make it special for kids, wouldn't it? If they knew they had to wait 54 years before the next one?
January 29th: Dichotomy Day - do we celebrate it or do we commiserate? The day I started seeing the wife; the day my mother died - bummer...
March 4th: the wife's birthday, causes as much consternation as Christmas. She's got me what else could she possibly want or need?
March Something (date varies, but earlier the better): It could be snowing, the temperature could be cold enough to make Jordan's nipples fall off, but this will always be the best day ever. The clocks go forward.
March 21st (ish): Another really good day; the sun changes; daylight becomes God again. The only downside is that in recent years this also tends to be the summer (for a couple of days). 
April 19th: surprisingly I find this day not much to get excited about any more.
June 6th: don't ask me why, but this has always been a favourite day of mine.
June 21st: Not my favourite if I want to be honest. It could be 25 degrees, sunny, warm and the promise of another 100 consecutive days of perfect weather and I would still have a tinge of sadness. It is the equinox and the night's start drawing in...
August 31st: Okay, that's an odd one I grant you, but to me this is a pivotal day. It is, according to those preening cocks the Met Office, the last day of summer, however it often tends to be the day before the first day of summer as September in Blighty over the last 30 years has tended to be the best month of the lot (this one excepted).
September 13th: Anniversary day.
September 21st (ish): Technically the equal worst day in the calendar. Like today this isn't a great day especially if the weather is nice. This year I almost missed this day but I still managed to get a few words in before it happened, just to tell summer what an utter cock it's been this summer and if it does it again I'm going to be really pissed off with it.
October 1st: a day we allow to go through without thinking too much about it.


Qoquaq Ën Transic
Cold as Jack the Ripper's clunge collection; or at least that's what we think at the moment, until we realise that in a couple of months we'll be praying for days like this. We were talking last night about whether the word 'stickle' exists. According to this blog it does as there is no red line under it yet. The wife cited Stickleback but I said it was one word and not two and she also suggested Stickle Brick and that's why I started doubting the existence of the word 'stickle'.

You could pay good money for this stuff you know?


Dance of Ranyart

So here we are back in the fantastically exciting world of bread making; over to Phil with an update on his dough-making activities. Phil?

Thanks Phil. Yesterday I made naan bread dough and went off piste with the bread-maker because it doesn't have a naan dough setting on it. There was a lot of tension but in the end the dough came out like something from a bad 1950s Steve McQueen B movie. I soon knocked the life out of it. Today I'm making bread rolls because I'm very rock and roll and a bit hard. I'm using some sunflower seeds because I'm just a wild and crazy guy. Phil?

Thanks Phil and now Phil with some stuff and nonsense! Phil!


Stun Fan Fonsensed
  • This is the score: having decided to play CDs over 5 years old, I changed that and decided to start playing everything I possess in alphabetical order starting with A and going down to Z. The rules are simple: I remove a stack of CDs from the A section (this will become B, then C, then D and so forth until we get down to Z) and then turn them upsides down so I can't see what they are, I then take the first one and place it in the CD player and play it. I cannot not play it. If I choose not to play it I have to dispose of it. The only exception to that rule is if it is an album I am already familiar with, have played in the last 12 months or is by a band or artist that I have just played. If it is the latter I place it on a different stack to be played after I've concluded my CD A-Z Odyssey. I bet you're glad you didn't ask? So what's been playing since I decided this and can I leave a one word review (even if I'm not going to list the album unless I can remember what it is). 
  • Aliens/Astronomy For Dogs - psychedelic
  • Arcade Fire/Suburbs - kept
  • A Shoreline Dream/Ulrich Schnauss - shoegazey
  • Alien Mutation - wibbly
  • Abigail's Ghost - confused
  • Adventures - dated
  • Adam & The Ants - bwah-ha-ha
  • Jon "You'll Never Tek Me Alive Copper, Not Without a Proper Shoot-Out" Anderson - Olias...
And that concludes this week's Tomorrow's World with James Burke, next on your TV sets is some Slovakian porn performed by the Mike Samms Singers...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Number 81


6:00     Breakfast with Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid’s underwear.
Bill & Susanna’s underwear are joined on the sofa with two famous DJs from the 1970s who are desperately hoping their passports have been renewed in time before the Jimmy Savile investigation leads the police to their doors. Carol Kirkwood presents the weather in dresses slightly too small for her and that Geordie lass, the one with the extremely long legs and face, she’ll be at a dildo manufacturer’s in Telford.
9:00     Ten Minutes of Television Crammed Into One Hour
You will experience déjà vu several times during the watching of this programme. Julian Thing, that black bird and pick one from several dozen with a programme about how to buy a house, clean it and then rent it out to amusing people while being filmed for a shoestring. You will experience déjà vu several times during the watching of this programme.
10:00   Crap in the Attic
During the night a famous celebrity broke into someone’s house and took a big dump in their loft; Noel Edmonds, Mr Blobby and Todd Carty challenge a team of specially picked C-list celebrities to try and work out, using clues, who the celebrity is and where the house he or she took a shit in is situated.
11:00   Some Shite with Dick Van Dyke
87-year-old private investigator Rusty Shovel, his beefy 62-year-old son, his handsome but possibly gay 30 year-old grandson and the Hispanic kid from down the block solve crimes in the geriatric ward of a Florida golf clinic.
12:00   The One O’clock News @ 12 O’clock
Huw Edwards and Alex Jones give the impression the BBC believes in Welsh equality with an in-depth look at today’s top news. The weather is presented either by Alex Deacon if it’s going to be horrid or that fucking annoying Sarah Keith Lucas if it’s going to be nice, just to help ruin your day.
13:00   The One O’clock News with Someone English or George Alagiah
            The news.
13:30   Regional News (in this instant Look East with Stewart White and some horse)
13:45   NEW Escape From the Countryside
Davina McCall presents a new series where townies are dropped in the middle of nowhere full of a cocktail of drugs and have to find their way back to a town or city within 6 hours or they will explode.
14:30   Vintage HIGNFY
Paul Merton shows clips from the earliest series of Have I Got News For You with copious references to people and things most people watching today will have no idea about at all. Will feature snippets of Angus Deayton.
15:00   Play For Today Classics
Every day the BBC will show an old Play for Today which means that on the HD channel it will look well weird and most of these will be in black and white or have dead actors in them. Warning there might be some nudity as a lot of these were made in the 1970s when even Blue Peter presenters used to be massaging their baps at ten past five on a Tuesday.
16:00   Four Over Fifty Pissheads
Whatshername with the teeth and glasses, one of the Nolans, an ex-journalist and someone you don’t know but might have considered sexy had she not been 67 and talks about her ex-lovers like some women play bingo discuss all manner of marginally racy subjects in front of a whooping live audience. Today’s guests: Cliff Richards, Keith Richards, Viv Richards, Denise Richards and Little Richard.
17:00   Utterly Pointless
Alexander and the tall bloke cram a twenty minute quiz show into almost an hour with lots of impromptu banter, innuendo and sly digs at the retardation of many of the contestants.
18:00   More News this time with Sophie Raworth or Fiona Bruce
            A recap on things you already knew.
18:30   More Regional News with Stewart White, the tall skinny weather girl and Mike Liggins
            Yadda yadda yadda.
19:00   The Bloody One Show
Matt Baker, fucking Alex Jones and the ugly food critic make sly jokes about Chris Evans while the guest gets sly looks down her low cut top. With Gyles Brandreth letching after whoever is on the show and the obligatory crew member who has been elevated to national hero status but will ;probably be exposed as a predatory paedophile at some point in the future, probably just after he dies inexplicably in Bognor Regis.
19:30   Eastenders
20:00   Waterville Taxi Hip Street Hustle
Rupert Penry Jones stars in this unbelievably bland thing about stuff that only seems to interest commissioning editors at the BBC and yet claims to be watched by 40 trillion people. With Denis Waterman, that bird of Waking the Dead and Billy Piper.
21:00   Bastard Black Cop
Idris Elba or Denzel Washington (depending on which version you’re watching) as a tough, uncompromising cop in a crazy world where nothing makes sense in a kind of making sense way and you don’t know if it’s true or not very true or a lie even and the hero is mad right, he’s mad and he’s got a bit of a drink problem, but is it that much of a problem or is it a red herring to make you think he’s got a problem while the real villain traffics children. With Ben Elton in a piece of inspired casting as his comedy racist sidekick Larry.
22:00   FFS More News Already with bloody Huw Edwards or Sian Thingy off Breakfast
                More bloody news.
22:25   Janine Machin Presents Look East Topless
                More regional news.
22:30   Who The Fuck Are You?
Now that the known celebrities have been used up it’s time to wheel out the D-listers for more mindless banalities about immigrants, fighting injustice and salacious accusations.
23:30   Dubious Single Male and Weird Female Friend
The sitcom with a man more famous for being an average stand-up comedian and his slightly Asberger’s girlfriend portrayed by an ex-Page 3 model’s daughter. This week Steve accidentally gets invited round David Cameron’s house and ends up sleeping with Samantha while Debbie tries to cut the Chancellor of the Exchequer out of her will.
0:00     FILM: The Postman Always Rings At 69 Letsbe Avenue
(1972) Robin Asquith, Miriam Margoyles, Anthony Perkins, Bella Emberg, Ray ‘The Streak’ Stevens, Fenella Fielding, Linda Bellingham, Benny Hill and Linda Lusardi.
Hilarious slapstick comedy about a postman who mistakes two spinster teachers for a couple of S&M lesbians with a penchant for drugs and violence with tragic results. Directed by Sam Pekinpah.
02:00   Weatherview
With Laura Tobin dressed as a bullfighter and discussion from Louise Lear (who will always be in the shadow of the more sexier BBC weather girls)
02:10-
06:00     Programmes for the deaf, dumb and blind (with subtitles)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Number 80

Hi there, you probably know me from this blog, or as that guy with the big nose; perhaps you remember me from my comics days, or just pop in to see what the opinionated twat is sounding off about today. The thing is I'm not as popular as I once was (which is a shame as I think some of my blogs are the queen's tits) and despite this I still burble on, entertaining two dozen people and occasionally a dog (speaking of which, my dogs have 11 more followers than I do on Tumblr...).
This is part of my leg and three of the dogs who are more popular than me (I couldn't find an image of the Queen's tits anywhere...
But there is now a way for all of this to change. Oh yes, there is and don't look at me like I'm just some glory hunting has-been desperately clinging to my last shreds of dignity. There is a perfectly easy way of me getting back up to 50 or 60 people looking at my blog, maybe even more and it's as effective as a coalition government and as tried and tested as attempting to claw back a £40 billion deficit by sweeping up the pennies dropped by imbeciles and cretins (or the disabled as non-Tories call them).

Yes, I'm talking about the brand new, all bells no bullshit PROMOTE button on your Facebook interface module page thing.

Have the power of a GOD!
God©0000  appears here courtesy of Microsoft and the US of A
For just £2.02 or £5.05 or $6.45 (I've seen all three so far) you can make sure that the post that is going up will feature prominently on all your friends News Feeds, maybe even to the public as an entirety. How fucking fantastic is that? I'm sitting here desperately trying to will away a massive erection... My life could be changed forever and all for just a few quid. Fuck me, Mark Zuckerberg and his floated company are as brilliant as a double-jointed 18-year-old virgin supermodel with a complete working knowledge of the Kama Sutra and eyes for YOU alone!!!
NB: Generic 18 year-old virgin supermodel used, other models might apply
Or Facebook haven't made anywhere near as much money from selling all those shares as they hoped, so they're now doing that sweeping up of pennies, because if you have 1 billion users (praps not, but hey we all listen and believe hyperbole), then if just 1% of them gives $5 then, if they wanted to, they could wipe out a nation's national debt in one fell swoop. Plus there's going to be 1% of people who will actually believe that by paying Facebook £5.05 to promote some worthless piece of shit that only their friends would be interested in in the first place it's going to make them popular and have more friends and if they're promoting something like a blog then they'll have more followers and all that money won't matter because their egos will have been masturbated into an orgasmic brain splurge of Express Dairy proportions!
Image shown the non-orgasmic version ©2012
Fucking hell I'm going to spend my entire wages promoting my blog about how fucking ill I am at times and what a whiny old git I am. I mean everyones fucking life is a bed of roses, isn't it, so they're all going to want to read about my woes because they have none of their own and Facebook will be the facilitator in this small but truly insidiously devious way towards world domination and having that 18-year-old virgin supermodel sit on my face with her legs wrapped around an elephant's arm, blah blah blah...

Then, once that is all over and you've settled back down, removed the cushion from your lap, think about this. Shouldn't anything you or your friends post just appear in other friends news feeds (if they choose to have you in them), at roughly the time you posted it (otherwise why have a post time)? I'd suggest that a lot of people don't go into their message settings, therefore get an arbitrary news feed including what Facebook regard as 'Top Stories', which actually should give you a clue as to what the promote button really is. How many people think to change the news feed display from Top Stories to Most Recent? Therefore you'd be seeing what Facebook believe is the most important - possibly selected because of the use of certain words with advertising connotations - which, especially if Facebook get rid of the Most Recent option, means that we'll all be seeing what Facebook wants us to see rather than what we want our Social Network of friends to see and suddenly what is the point of this social media if it isn't going to do what you want it to.
Trust me, you'll understand the reference in no time.
Seriously, I know anyone who reads this who is also on Facebook probably doesn't give a shit one way or the other, but really, we all spend far more time on these things than we did before they were invented; social networks have increased our time on-line by 50% (check it out via Google if you don't believe me, some people think it's more than 50%) and we pretty much all spent too much time on the Internet or on computers in general before Facebook or MySpace was invented.

This isn't going change anything; it'll be lost like a grain of sand (see what I did there?) in sea of universes, although I'm sure there will be others who will be pointing this out to their own groups of friends; but it's like when people don't like a change that Facebook implements, 2 million people complaining is a bit like an antelope wandering into a pride of lions and debating whether or not eating him is morally right. I could now insert (oo-er) an image of a bunch of lions ripping a gazelle to shreds, but I'm a vegetarian and I also don't want to alienate potential readers with images of an undesirable nature.

Just remember, you might think you're getting a blow job, but the only thing being extracted will be your cash! Don't do it - you know it makes sense!

Next time: How to stop people from being useless and 10 alternative uses for pigs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Number 79

Bring on the Girls
(A Review of Sorts)

I don't do girls. This must come as a relief in this post-Jimmy Saville world, especially as I work in a school and am now 50. Of course, what I mean is that I don't understand them particularly. I do, but I don't.

The majority of girls I come in contact with are aged between 11 and 17 and invariably we have two types of conversation: school and TMI. TMI or Too Much Information is usually a short conversation that begins with them telling me something I don't want to hear and me telling them TMI. Simple really, but it gives me little insight into how girls' minds work (and frankly, I'm not that sure I want to know).

Now, in terms of young friends, we used to think we had lots, but in reality as we've got older so have they and they're not so young any more. There are a few girls we know who are under 30, but not that many. There's Jenny, Neil's fiancee. There's Katie, the daughter of Karen, but our conversations tend to be about how big she's grown and cakes (she's 19 now, but I've tended to see her once a year for the last 7 or 8). There's Lauren, but she's family. The Piper girls (Sian & Cleo) who we've watched grow up from tiny tiny things into wonderful young women, but we only tend to talk rock music. There's also Daniella, but apart from a two minute chat in the pub a few weeks ago I haven't really spoken to her for a couple of years. The only young person I've really got any insight from in recent years has been Harriet - I like Harriet, she's been a vital education over the last 3 or 4 years, but Harriet thinks she's getting old - she's 25.

Harriet has told me (and Roger) things that tend to be a mixture of excruciatingly embarrassing or strangely addictive but you're glad you're only hearing about it 3rd hand. She's made us laugh with her observations on fat girls, pubic hair, stupidity, dress sense and why young people seem to drink a million times more than we ever did [incidentally, I have woke up this morning with a headache to end all headaches; it's like a hangover, but I've not drunk anything for days - I am on the steroids so it could be them, but I hope not as I don't fancy 6 more days of this] Harriet is really useful as far as girly culture is concerned; she's also got a boyfriend who's almost as old as me so she can relate to the fact that most ageing men are modern cultural fucktards.

Anyhow, what's this got to do with anything? Well, I'm trying to fill my days with something useful (or if not useful then justifiable). So yesterday I downloaded the first two episodes of Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls, which has apparently been received like a thinking woman's SATC with twenty-somethings rather than slightly dried up older women. It was always going to be a difficult relationship; me and an intelligent program aimed at an age group way out of my league. I mean, I watch The Vampire Diaries and that's aimed at a different demographic, but it's also a bit vacuous. (By the way - there are spoilers coming)

I managed to watch most of all of the first episode and within five minutes I wanted to punch the hero's mother in the face and then Ms Dunham for being whiny and needy and sulky and more like a 15 year old than a 24 year old, but she was with her parents so we all regress when that happens. I then puzzled over a lot of the dialogue and subject matter - do girls really want to see other girls' boobs when they're not gay? It didn't even sound like a desire to compare, it was more like a 'I show you mine why do you never show me yours' and if 24 year old girls do this then... well, good on them, I suppose. Then there was the general dialogue; I could have been watching The West Wing for the amount that I understood or could see the relevance of.

Then there was the thing that I suppose has made it 'popular' and critically acclaimed: the-awkward-not-at-all-shot-with Vaseline-on-the-lens-sex-scenes. If it hadn't been so bloody awkward to watch it might have been funny or touching; instead I actually found myself fast forwarding through a sex scene! And that kind of set the scene and while I managed to watch the rest of the pilot, the second episode was watched on fast forward, which considering this is essentially a dialogue driven show proved to be a really pointless exercise.

I know it's set in New York and we've grown to expect quirky from NY since Woody Allen reinvented it, but I've never watched a program that seemed so utterly designed NOT for me. 

I can thoroughly recommend it to all the girls under 30 that I know, but not the ones under 16 (just yet, although I'm sure it will prove to be an education for many).

The Aside [above] Revisited

Have just discovered that one of the side effects of taking these steroids is severe headaches and blurred vision. That explains that then.

When the Music Is Over

So, I've been listening to things I've either not played for 5 years or have 'acquired' in the last five years and not listened to much/at all and in the last blog I made the mention of bands who produce a brilliant album, which in turn has you getting everything else by them and then you never play anything but the album that's really good. Well, for me that's a lot of things. Going through the racks today for a new stack of stuff to listen to and I noticed that I have about 15 Ozric Tentacles albums, yet Pungent Effulgent tends to be the one that I listen to. I know, just admitting to owning so many Ozrics albums is probably punishable by death, but in my defence, the wife is far more of a fan than me.

I have actually bought the back catalogue of a two-piece called It's Jo and Danny on the strength of the brilliant debut album Lank Haired Girl to Bearded Boy and after playing Thug's Lounge I'm not in any hurry to listen to But We Have the Music or Love Expression. I'm a bit annoyed that I actually bought these other albums at different times rather than all together. Bongwater is another band that might fall into this category; The Power of Pussy is one of my top 25 albums of all time, but the other 4 albums I have and solo projects have barely been touched. I think this might be because I'm scared they might be pooh, because Pussy could quite easily have been.

There's stuff I've downloaded - James, Manual, Erik Wollo, even fucking Snow Patrol, all manner of stuff downloaded/bought that there is a good chance I'll never play. Plus there's stuff I've downloaded that I've looked at over the last 48 hours that has had me scratching my head in total confusion as to why I've even bothered.

That said I'm listening to something at the moment that I probably shouldn't and I'm quite enjoying it. Remember Bruce Hornsby and the Range? I liked them and their style of music has been repeated numerous times over the years by as diverse people as Ben Folds, Train and the Spin Doctors. I've always kind of liked piano-based US AOR; it's a guilty pleasure, at least it isn't modern RnB (how can they have the audacity to suggest this shit has any relation to Rhythm & Blues, I will never know) or garage or some of the shit that girls in their 20s listen to. I found this album by Gran Bel Fisher and wondered who and what the fuck it was. I couldn't remember downloading it and from the look of the writing on the CD I wasn't even sure how to spell the guy's name. Here's the title track from his debut album http://youtu.be/GGtFdb-uGnM you will probably hate it; that's entirely up to you, but I'm kind of glad I found this album, even if the guy has a C&W background (Hey, I like Sheryl Crow and she's just essentially new C&W) and some of the tracks sound like the kind of stuff I imagine people with far worse music taste than me would enjoy.

It's a good job that I'm enjoying this, I have either the first or second Snow Patrol album on the stack in front of me...

Introducing a New Neighbour 

Except he isn't new, he's lived here a lot longer than I have and we have never exchanged so much as a pleasantry despite him living opposite and next to the Sexually-Explicit family. I just haven't ever really had to talk about him before. We have a mutual dislike of each other based solely on the fact that his old neighbour at #50 was a really good friend of his and he was best friends with the animal we bought this house from and because I dared to suggest that the former occupants were pigs, a man who barely knew the guy who lived here before us doesn't talk to me because I upset his mate who moved so long ago we're on the third family to live in that house since. People are weird.

So given that I want to stick with the insulting theme and call him something like Bald Cunt, I'll settle for Baldy Bloke because he's not really deserving of that nom-de-plume, just yet. 

Baldy Bloke has had an old cooker on his paved area/garden for about 4 days and my first thought was that he was leaving it out there hoping that some gypsies might come along and relieve him of it. Except that isn't why at all as evidenced this morning. After I finished the bit about albums, I went down and made myself a cup of coffee, hoping that the headache would go away with copious amounts of caffeine, when I noticed the scrap metal truck driving by, I had seen it the other day, so figured that was why Baldy Bloke had put the cooker there. By the time I got up here the van had pulled up in front of Fishwife's house and was standing on the path opposite eyeing up the old cooker (they can't take it without permission - just like you can't take things out of skips now). Suddenly Baldy appears out the front of the house, in a way that suggested he was expecting a fight, so I decided to open the window to see if I could hear anything. I couldn't really, but I got the gist of the conversation.

Scrap Metal Man was offering to take it away, Baldy Bloke was trying to sell it. I think Baldy wanted a tenner for it and I think he reckoned that the metal man could probably get two or three times that amount. Metal man wasn't having any of it and must have suggested that someone could just come along and take it at night, to which Baldy starts pointing at the side of his house, where one of his CCTV camera's was. Metal man walks off and gets in the car, Baldy goes inside, I continued to listen to Gran Bel Fisher and played a go on Scrabble, when the van returned and metal man got out and rang Baldy Bloke's doorbell. I watched as the gypsy handed over what looked like a tenner and two guys from the van proceeded to lift the cooker into the back of their van.

I've never liked the guy, purely based on his irrational dislike of me (I have been told by Fishwife's mother-in-law, because she's friends with Baldy's wife, that he thinks I'm a prat, which is his prerogative), but I now have a little bit of respect for him. He also proved that sometimes it's worth holding out for a few quid. I think he always intended to do that and must have known that as long as he didn't ask for too much he'd get one of these merchants to cut their profits with him.

Of course, if his house is vandalised, his car stolen and his daughter sold to Essex travellers  in the next few days then maybe not, but at the moment...

Nonsense & Stuff
  • The 2nd Snow Patrol album is head and shoulders the best thing they have ever done. That is not saying a lot, but this was before they became Coldplay Lite and it has a lot going for it.
  • It is so fucking dull - the weather not the 2nd Snow Patrol album.
  • shells
  • meh

Monday, October 22, 2012

Number 78

Fear?

I had to go back to the doctor's today. Last week he said he wanted to see me before signing me back to work. This was the first time this has ever happened and I wasn't sure if it had something to do with the new 'fit for work' certificates or if it was a genuine concern for my health. So I arrived, saw a different doctor, who seemed drawn to an odd mole I have on my chest - and basically heaped even more paranoid health thoughts on my shoulders - and was quick to sign me off for another week. This kind of worried me again, in my experience you usually have to work hard or be really ill to get proper time off work. So I asked.
"You work at a school," it was a statement not a question. I nodded. "Call it safeguarding." This doctor was nothing if not succinct.
"Then I have nothing to worry about?"
"There's always something to worry about," she said, half smiling. "I'd like to get to the bottom of this chest problem you have."
"So you're of the opinion that is still the same problem that first manifested itself on December 17th?"
"I'm of the opinion that antibiotics haven't been successful so we need to find out if there's another way of dealing with this."
"I had a chest x-ray and blood tests at the hospital at the start of July; everything was clear then."
"Are apples always ripe?" She asked rather enigmatically. I looked at her and she elucidated, "I'm not suggesting there's anything serious, but just because you had a blood test in July that was clear doesn't mean that it will be clear in October. People aren't always ill, they get ill - one day fine, the next not, so a blood test is only as good as the day it was taken. I'd like to be safer than sorry."
"So you're saying I might have something seriously wrong with me?"
"I'm saying that you were supposed to have a spirometry test last week but you couldn't because you had a chest infection; you were having this test because there's a chance you might have COPD or some form of pulmonary obstruction, that is serious and we still don't know. Let's get those out of the way first before we start worrying about the things you have going through your mind at the moment. Okay?" I nodded, but she obviously wasn't convinced I was convinced. "I'm putting you on steroids; I think you have inflamed airways which is making you feel bad and I'm hopeful that your stopping smoking has prevented you from doing any more damage to yourself, provided you can stick with it. From what you are telling me and your symptoms, I'd say that you are suffering from a severe and pretty much ongoing asthma attack [which is what another doctor told me back in July] so let's treat that first and worry about hypothetical things later." I nodded again and she seemed happier.

So I'm on Preds for a week, then it's back to the practice for blood and spirometry tests and then down NGH, if necessary, for another chest x-ray. It's all very harrowing; I'm concerned about work and obviously I have all manner of terminal thoughts going through my head; plus my peak flow has dropped back down and you know, I was thoroughly pissed off with 2009, 2010 and 2011 because of shoulder and back problems that were so bad they buggered up large parts of those years and now 2012 has been fucking wrecked by a two week case of something last Christmas that has doggedly stayed with me ever since.

I must have been really wicked in a former life...

No Rush (A sort of Review)

So, I finally got around to listening to Clockwork Angels properly and I'm still not completely whelmed either way - over or under. I was a bit ambivalent about it, but I can understand why some people think it is a return to form. The last two or three Rush albums have, in my humble opinion, tried to be more metal than rock. It was like the threesome decided that they were not the band everyone thought they were and were trying to reinvent themselves and in the process kind of alienated fans such as me.

The new album is far more accessible than the last few. You see I used to think that Rush banged out albums like teenage boys wanked; from the beginning to 1993 you could set your watch by a Rush release and, to be really critical, after the mid-1980s you started to get the law of diminishing returns. It was more of a case of finding the silk purses amongst all the sows' ears and in 1996 Test For Echo came out and I struggled to find one track on it that I was really impressed with (and subsequent live shows seemed to ignore this album as well). Vapor Trails was a real disappointment for old school Rush fans; Feedback was a bit unnecessary and Snakes and Arrows was played a couple of times and then put on the shelf and forgotten about. This was probably why I was so meh about Clockwork Angels.

The album is more immediate than anything the band has done since Counterparts and there is the rub; it's more commercial, the first Rush album for two nearly decades that has an obvious single on it. It is a touch too long at 66 minutes, because a few tracks seem like filler; but on the whole it is more like the Rush I used to love than the one I came to ignore. Roger suggested it peters out and I think that's a fair observation, but I can understand why a lot of reviewers (especially old school Rush fans) think it is a return to form. It's not, but it does a better impersonation of that than I do of Lady Gaga.

Kids, eh?

I've always said that there are two kinds of parents, those that do and those that don't - give a shit. I now think there's a third, who I shall call Parental Imbeciles or Morons.

I didn't get a job ten years ago because of my views on slapping children; my opinion being it never turned me or my peers into the damaged goods that CPOs and righteous parents seem to think. The problem there is that the group who believe that children should never be touched feel that is across the board; there should be no exceptions because a harmless slap on the legs is as bad as stubbing a cigarette out in a child's eye. Sorry, but it's not. I was slapped if I did something stupid, rude or dangerous; I think I turned out reasonable - there's no bodies buried anywhere, no harrowing buried secrets that manifest in some other way and to the best of my knowledge all those who had similar upbringings to me don't beat their children or abuse them in any way (apart from the fun ways - like the humiliation of showing them up to their boy/girl friend, which I believe is a parent's right and is probably one of the few regrets I have about not having kids).

Fishwife and Mrs Fishwife are of the school where reason works far better than punishment. Therefore, if your child is standing in front of you screaming its head off, having an apoplectic fit and isn't really listening to you because he/she wants something so bad they're almost shitting themselves; the best way to deal with this is to talk calmly to it. It always works and as a result the children turn into absolutely wonderful well-adjusted human beings. Or they turn into unbelievable monsters.

When I was a pre-teen policemen could clip you round the ear if you were cheeky to them. It was usually the shock that got you more than the cuff, but it kind of left me with a fear and grudging respect for the police force. Nowadays, I see kids abusing the police; using language that would curl your teeth and doing it in the knowledge that nothing will be done about it. I blame the parents.

TV Bit

The Walking Dead is back. Since I kind of decided that zombies were the least dangerous of any fictional monster and this series is actually more dislikeable than the comic it's based on, I entered it in the same frame of mind as I exited The Amazing Spider-Man. Nothing I saw made me think there was going to be anything redeeming about it whatsoever. I'm amazed it's popular amongst Americans because nothing good ever happens; there is no promise of a happy ending; in fact if all the zombies disappeared in the next episode, the world would be an incredibly dangerous place because of the living.

The wife likes TWD because she's freaked out by zombies and I think she quite likes Egg; I can't really tell you why I watch it; probably the same car crash reason as I persevered with the comic (read after downloading it, not buying it) for so long, to see how long the cast live for.

The new series is a little grubbier - a lot of time has passed since the last episode - and is back more in line with the comic - the prison, the samurai, the Governor (who appears next week); that means very few laughs for the next five years (because the survivors stayed in the prison for an eternity in the comic). I think my biggest problem with the entire premise is, as I've said before, I'd just move as far north as possible, where the zombies would be frozen or stuck to the ground and sit it out until they all decay away.

Stuff & Nonsense

  • Gomez, Rush, Massive Attack.
  • 3-lentil stew.
  • 14 mushrooms.
  • Anticipating Muriel's Departure.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Number 77

Bread, Man

I said I'd tell you about this a week or so ago, so...  The concept of a bread-making machine has always kind of not interested me. I always thought bread from one tasted a bit... you know... not quite right, and it was always square and I wanted my loaves to look uneven and bloomerish. Over the years things have improved and when we were given some money by mother-in-law for our wedding anniversary, we figured we might as well give one a go. So we bought the most expensive one we could. It's a Panasonic; don't ask anything else, it's not in front of me (and it has a loaf in it at the moment anyhow).

The first attempt was okay, but the strong white flour we used had just expired and while the wife reckoned that wouldn't have had any impact, I disagreed and was proved right when I did the same recipe with a bag of brand new flour - the freshness of your flour is vital, simple as. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th loaves all showed improvements over each other and yet we didn't appear to be doing anything other than what was instructed; it was loaf #5 where I started to fart about.

I mixed wholemeal with white, added sunflower seeds and honey instead of sugar and BANG! Suddenly the bread was taking on a new dimension; it was light, airy, spongy and tastier; the crust was splitting, giving it that actual bread oven cooked look and I have been experimenting ever since, but this recipe has been the favourite so far; 3 times 3 successes and, more importantly, we're saving money despite the cost of flour.

I did suggest growing our own wheat next year, but for some reason the wife didn't think this was a good idea.

Huzzah!

Neil and his now fiancee Jenny spent the weekend up here with us to celebrate their engagement, to eat excellent Chinese food and to watch The Amazing Spider-Man which wasn't amazing. Neil and I being comics fans from different generations both hated the film with a passion, despite it actually not being a bad film, it just wasn't a Spider-Man film and because Andie Murray was in it wearing a Spider-Man costume that didn't make it any easier to swallow or something like that...


Football

Talking to my chums Phil (One El) and Paul (landlord) t'other day and I admitted that for the first time since 1995 I feel utterly ambivalent towards football. Neil summed it up last night quite succinctly, he said, "It just never ends." How true. It doesn't. UEFA and FIFA do their utmost to ensure that football is played somewhere 365 days a year. This year the 'close season' didn't actually happen. Domestic seasons ended, international friendlies took place, then the Euros, then the preliminary rounds for the European competitions, then the Olympics, of which the final of that was played the day after the Charity Shield, the customary season opener. This year there was no break at all. Next year, as it is an odd year, there is very little football on during the summer (or should I say between the end of the June internationals and the start of pre-season friendlies (stand up Channel 5) at the beginning of July. If an English club gets a Europa League qualifier for fair play awards or by some weird fluke, then the first game is on June 26 and some channel (5) will be showing it. FIFA hold the Confederations Cup because they believe we need a pointless competition held every two years (a bit like the African Cup of Nations, the only national tournament that needs to be held bi-annually), but don't worry, the Home Countries never, ever get to play in it and Sky tends to show it.

I am rapidly falling foul of most web forums I engage in because of my complete and utter disliking of the Spurs manager and the indefatigable defence of the idiot by a large group of Spurs fans who don't seem to have any fucking ambition or have forgotten how good the team was just a year ago. Plus there's the joke that is the England team. Apparently 4th or 5th best in the world. Ha ha ha ha ha... See, told you they were a joke!

Football can go fuck itself at the moment.

Horses & Henry

A long time ago, a posh geezer called Henry Cecil helped me win over £1000 across a season. It was 1985. I'd got the horse racing bug from my brother a few years earlier and I was having a little bet here and there, but never really winning anything of note. I think I was just about breaking even, but I was enjoying it and two trainers had given me the most enjoyment - Henry Cecil and Michael Dickinson (one flat, one jumps - both brilliant at their sport).

I could have won a fortune with Dickinson when forecasting he would have the first 5 horses home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup - that would have won me a couple of grand, especially as I forecast the first 5 in the right order too ... Aah Wayward Lad, what a jumper! That alone would have won about £5k. Anyhow, I'd had this idea of having a Yankee (picking 5 horses) across the five classics and spoke to my local bookie in town. I picked horses for the two Guineas, the Derby and the Oaks, but the St Leger, held in September was always too far away to actually name a horse who would be guaranteed to run. I'd gone for Shadeed to win the 2,000 (A Michael Stoute horse) Slip Anchor to win the Derby (a Cecil horse) and Oh So Sharp (also a Cecil horse for the two fillies races), I figured I should go for another Cecil horse. My bookie offered me 28-1 on a Cecil horse winning the St Leger and as this bet was being placed in April, they seemed like excellent odds.

Oh So Sharp won the Fillies Triple Crown. She won on the day as a 4-6 favourite, not for me though. The 28-1 odds meant instead of winning about £60, I won £1078. It kept me and the wife very happy for a few months, because in 1985 that was a lot more money than it is today.

Watching Frankel win the Champions Stakes yesterday as an unbeaten 4-year-old trained by a man who I thought 27 years ago was this posh twat called Henry Cecil who I should have hated, but didn't, it made me extremely happy and very sad. The thing I always liked about Henry was that he never seemed to suffer fools gladly and spoke his mind rather than offer platitudes. Henry has battled cancer for 6 years and frankly he looks like he's losing. If he's still alive at Christmas I will be gobsmacked; but if he does shuffle off this mortal coil then he can die knowing that Frankel is the best fucking racehorse anyone has ever seen and he trained him. The man still has it and there's going to be a long wait before someone of his genius is seen again, in any sport.

Stuff & Nonsense

  • The most important thing is my can't be arsed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Number 76

Plebs, all of us

I wonder just what most LibDem party members must think on mornings like this? A party that over the last 10 years or so has seemed more like Old Labour than Labour has since 1995. On balance of things, disillusioned voters, such as me, would eventually come to view the Liberals as the only viable alternative, especially if you didn't want to vote for Blair or Brown. We all came in for truly justified criticism when the Libs got into bed with the Tories and most floating voters would never admit to voting for the LibDems, especially now, when it is obvious that the party is essentially there to make up the numbers and, at best, try and stop Cameron and his cronies from completely butt-fucking the country.

The reason why Cams, Osborne, Gove, Lansley, Shapps and co want to butt-fuck the country is because they can't fix it. Mervyn King might be a bit of a twat, but he was dead right when he forecast a year before the last general election that whoever won it would probably become unelectable for a generation. The smart money - because let's face it, the bookies tend to know what's going to happen - was on that general election being a good one to lose. If you read all the right things (even in the Nazigraph and Murdock papers), you would have seen a trend developing and I kind of think that Cameron fancied his chances of bucking that trend - it was a shame that none of his 'team' felt the same way and most of them realised that Dave was about as astute as a house brick.

What better way of ensuring that the prophecies prior to the election couldn't possibly come true? Well, you could have a go at fixing things, but that requires too much money and hard work; so instead you pussyfoot about making people think you're trying to fix things, but in reality you're just making sure that Mervyn King's forecast doesn't come true by ensuring that whoever gets into power in 2015 will inherit such a pus-filled poison chalice that only the most idiotically idealist people would want to have a go at sorting the mess out.

What we are seeing, my friends, is the beginning of the end for this country.

I know how melodramatic that sounds, but look at the facts. Despite protestations from the neutered LibDems, the Tories are fucking over the disabled, the poor, the hard working and the honest, while allowing all the people that good honest folk despise get away with fleecing the country. My mate, whose quote was used in a prior blog, summed it up perfectly - if Cameron or more precisely IDS was to actually do a full scale means test and review of the benefits system and focused as much energy into giving people what they're entitled to rather than attempt to lop a few million off the bill (a few million isn't close to a billion, by the way), then they would realise that poverty, deprivation, alienation, ignorance and a host of other descriptions was far more prevalent than the small percentage, like Fuckwit next door, who are screwing the system. Of course, the last thing a government wants is more dependency on the state, especially if you're a conservative; but that's the sad truth of this country in 2012.

I find it quite amusing that the Tories hate the government getting involved in the lives of the average pleb; they were always berating Labour for being too hands on and getting involved in areas they shouldn't be. Yet, has anyone noticed the amount of times Dave and his ministers have said we should be doing this or that or not doing the other? Ministers can't help telling us what we should be doing, while all they should be doing is sorting out whatever mess there is.

So Andrew Mitchell has finally resigned, but George Osborne can fare dodge, Grant Shapps can run businesses using an assumed name, Michael Gove wants to redevelop the education system and Jeremy Hunt can be a complete and utter cunt and yet will emerge in the next few years as a replacement for Dave - you mark my words.

There's a fantastic picture of Osborne and his 'aide' both having a good old laugh while sitting in first class on a train after paying standard fare tickets. There's a small furore about it in the press, but no one appears to have asked the question as to why Osborne bought standard fare tickets in the first place, especially if he couldn't be expected to sit with 'plebs'.

The current administration isn't interested in fixing any problems, they just want to exacerbate them; we are now more than ever living in a time when a government isn't looking towards a bright future, they're looking towards screwing up whoever gets in after them so that the situation will always get worse and the poorest people will suffer.

Obviously I'm just one of a few people who has the ability to realise this. Just remember, if you end up voting Tory it's your fault if everything goes to hell in a tatty hand basket.

Dog Blog

I briefly mentioned this t'other day, but my dogs are considerably more popular than me. The http://dogcalypse.tumblr.com/ thing I set up, more on a whim than anything else, is viewed far more than my own Tumblr page. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; dogs tend to be more popular than people at the best of times.

The Fuckwit and the Leylandii

Several weeks ago Fuckwit - he of the disability benefits who can afford gardeners, car valets and home delivery shopping - had the top of the fucking stupid conifer he planted on our side of his garden about 15 years ago (just before we moved here) cut off, leaving it looking like something that had been hit by a low flying plane. It really is an eyesore now rather than just a fucking nuisance.

Not the most perfect example, but you can see where the rest is missing
The thing is it was about 15 foot tall when we moved here, it's now about 50 (having been about 70 but the top 20 feet were lopped off) and as a result it looks like a dog's dinner (see above). Now I'd like it gone; I think many others would also like it gone, apart from Fuckwit (but even he must want it gone because he had the top chopped off). The major problem is its width. It's now a bit chode like, almost as wide as it is long and half of it's girth is invading my garden and throwing shade across parts that need as much sun as possible.

The big problem is I don't like talking to the man, let alone asking him anything, especially as I expect he'll say he can't afford it or would we like to contribute to its removal. That would lead to much expletives and me calling him all the worthless wankstains on the planet. Probably not a good idea, eh? We really need to replace the fence down his side of the garden, but it's actually his responsibility and he seems as reluctant about improving his garden as he does about getting a job. I also need to fix part of the big shed roof, but that would require me gaining access to it via his garden and, you know, that's just too much fucking hassle at the moment. I just want him to die or be found out by the benefits fraud squad and go to jail ...

Stuff & Nonsense

  • My decision to play CDs I haven't played for at least 5 years has yielded some great hours so far. Frizzle Fry by Primus is such a bonkers album it was a real pleasure to sing along to it after so long. It's one of these strange albums, a bit like The Power of Pussy by Bongwater, I love it to bits, I bought (or downloaded) everything else but only ever seem to play the album that got me into them. I listened to Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty - hard to believe that it is 23 years old or that Jeff Lynne co-wrote most of the tracks. This morning I am grooving to Mercury Rev's All is Dream making me realise that there's another awesome band that I have neglected, although to be fair Deserter's Songs is played at least a couple of times a year. On the stack for the rest of today is Gomez's Split the Difference and (cough) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road which I reckon I haven't listened to since the 1980s. I've just put it on, as it happens, and, well, it is a bit of a classic. I also have the new Rush album to try and listen to again.
  • Taking the newly engaged couple out for a meal tonight, provided I feel human - as it stands, I feel worse now than I did last Monday when I was initially told I was ill.
  • Tinned sprouts?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Number 75

Not My Bag

Porn.

It's Friday. I've not enjoyed this last few days. It's been a bit fraught to be honest. Plus, because this latest chest infection's symptoms have been coming in waves, I'm still feeling, at times, like I'm a fraud. Once upon a time the way I've felt at times during this week wouldn't even have had me considering having time off work; but to be fair, when I went to the doctors on Monday, the last thing I expected was to be told I had a chest infection, again. What was even more strange was when I saw the doctor, he just signed me off for a week; no questions asked. He just said, go home, take it easy, let the antibiotics work, don't worry. Obviously when a doctor says don't worry, you treat it just the same as when one says 'this won't hurt'.

My experience of 'this won't hurt' was kind of polarised in 1987 when I had my tonsils out. Doctors saying 'this won't hurt' had always been regarded as one of the great lies of the 20th century (a bit like that old joke about not coming in your mouth...) So when I had my tonsils removed and the surgeon said 'this will hurt a bit' I knew that it wasn't going to hurt a bit at all, it was going to be Spanish Inquisition styled pain. It was. I was also one of the first people whose post-op treatment didn't involve ice cream. I was told to eat toast, gargle with shrapnel and stop whining like a girl.

What this has to do with porn I have no idea, but I'm sure I'll work in a feasible link before too long.

The thing is I can't help but worry, except not about my health (I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that not looking after myself has made my impending dotage an NHS burden), more about the fact this is the 3rd time I've been off for a week since I've been at the new job and every time has been for the same thing (and you would have thought it would have been my back if it was going to be anything). The thing is, I'm pretty ambivalent about it. While the government is bleating about taking more disabled people off of benefits and screwing the poor even more (because that's going to make so much difference to the National Debt), if I lost my job because of my health, I wouldn't feel that bad about it. I mean, it's my fault, but it isn't. You know? 

That said, even if the worst was to happen, the packing up smoking has been eventful. It was a bit boring for the first 7½ weeks, but then the chest infection reared its familiar head again and for the last two days I have been coughing up all that stuff that I really thought I would have coughed up by now. The word 'productive' is apt now; for the last 8 weeks there's been bugger all coughing apart from the dwindling remnants of a smoker's hack and I really thought there would be something to marvel at in the bottom of a handkerchief, so, because there is evidence there's a wee bit of feeling like I'm really here for a reason. The last 36 hours have seen me go through the usual dance of not quite believing that so much shit could possibly be sitting on my chest and/or thinking that there's some kind of phlegm generator next to my lungs, pumping stuff out like a demented snow-making machine.

And then I saw the bin overflowing with tissues; full of sticky stuff...

Hold that thought, I know it's potentially decidedly unpleasant, but it's essential because I'm going off in a different direction...

As my constant reader is aware, I have been flirting with Tumblr and mucking about with my blog(s). Since joining Tumblr I have been pretty amazed at the diversity of stuff that exists on there. It is eye-opening even for someone who thinks he's seen everything the Internet can offer; but I forget that person existed in 1999, not 2012. When I was Comics International's Internet go-get guy, I spent a lot of time on it, in the name of research and figured I was experienced. I might have been, but that was over a decade ago and things really have advanced and they've done it with me taking whatever I use for granted.

One area of the Internet that has never appealed to me is porn. Honestly. I had my flirtations with porn magazines when I was a teenager, but by the time the Internet came along I had pretty much done everything I'd ever wanted, was married with all the benefits and being quite a right-on person I found porn a bit degrading, even if the person indulging in it was a willing participant and believed she was doing her own bit for her own interpretation of women's liberation.

I proudly tell people that they can go through my house with a fine tooth comb and the closest thing they would find to porn is the Wicked Weasel swimsuit website bookmark on my PC. They would find no magazines, comics, videos, DVDs, books or images of any kind that could be construed as erotic let alone pornographic. I'm proud of that fact and I don't feel like a Victorian one bit. Except, that isn't strictly true, not as of October 2012 and in a Pete Townsend kind of way I've sort of only made things worse...

Tumblr, remember I mentioned it? Well, I've subscribed to about 6 pages that don't belong to friends of mine and some of these have rather rude images on them from time to time and these would, ahem, pop up in my Tumblr dashboard and I'd be like 'what?' Seriously; despite a wonderful appreciation of the naked female body, sometimes having a beaver shot staring at you is a little off putting. 

Now, the wife has shown a strangely odd interest in the Dogcalypse blog I started, which basically shows pics of every dog I've ever owned (and a few more), therefore, because she's promoting it, she wants to see it. I'm not going to go into huge detail, but essentially she walks into the office asks about what dog pic I've put up and I go to Tumblr, to my dashboard and what is staring us both in the face? A woman, with no clothes on, in a provocative pose. There is a bin full of tissues...

Obviously, if I were a teenager I'd have died of embarrassment by now; but I'm not and I would have been prepared to dissect one of the offending tissues, in front of the wife, to prove that is doesn't contain a teaspoon of my sterilised jizzum, but a far more nauseous and noxious substance. However, this peaked my interest. I haven't been to a porn site in years, possibly as many as 20. I have, occasionally, been redirected to a porn site because I've clicked on the wrong link, but I haven't actually gone in search of any. Until the other day...

On Tumblr, there are so many pages that are choc-a-block full of porn that you wonder what on earth a porn site can get in this odd Internet world of free against pay. If you go to any of the porn sites where you have to pay you get a dazzling (or possibly vajazzling) array of porn, most of which features dodgy looking women, like the Wank Woman from over the road; men with unfeasibly large schlongs or some dodgy bint who probably gives £2 blow jobs behind Pizza Hut on a Saturday night. If you want to see a man with a big willy banging some ugly bint like he's grinding some meat for sausages, then porn sites are right up your street - there is absolutely nothing aesthetically pleasing about any of the three I allowed Google to take me to. There is nothing on these sites that would interest me, not even a casual nod, let alone an erection. However, go to 100,000 blogs which all have erotic or pretty much honest to God porn and you'll see things that will positively make your hair curl (or stand on end, depending on exactly where you want this to go...)

It's like The Times charges subscribers to read their pages, but all of the people that do could get any of the news from anywhere else. There are even a few websites that reproduce The Times paid for content for free, if you want to look hard enough. It makes me wonder how porn sites actually make any money, especially as nothing they offer is 'worse' than stuff you can find for free. But, the old prude in me can't understand why even the most frustrated of wannabe wankers would want to fork over money for anything these sites offer. The logical alternatives would be: get a girlfriend/boyfriend, find some of these unbelievably rude blogs or download porn from a torrent site for free - two are more obtainable than the other, but the outcome (ahem) will be the same... 

Other stuff at the weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Number 74

Exposure

Once upon a time we were friends, then I wouldn't give him houseroom. However, this chap sometimes speaks a lot of sense (I will give him that) and as far as using the Internet for his own self-promotion, he is a past master. Read this to see just how effective Facebook and Google+ are if you are a professional, and then work out just how many of your 'friends' actually know about anything you post.
http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=14404
I've always said that Facebook would be stupid to try and charge people to use their portal - mainly because they fuck too many people off too often and if you paid for it you'd have the right to reply, which, because it is free, you haven't got now. But, if you want to promote something, that's a different matter entirely. It also suggests to me that all of this 'settings' gubbins you are offered by Facebook is all a load of twaddle. I have something like 225 'friends' on Facebook and a large percentage of those I have in my news feed never actually appear. Take Roger or Will for instance, both are constant in my news feed, yet if I go to their own pages, they've actually posted a lot more than I've seen and therefore someone or some thing arbitrarily decides for me what I should see and that seems a bit wrong to me...

This brings me nicely to something I've cut and pasted into a text note the other day because I figured I could moan about it.
Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first sportsman to receive over 50m 'Likes' on social networking site Facebook. The 27-year-old boasts 10m more fans than his great adversary on the football field, Barcelona's Lionel Messi. The figure also means 5% of everyone who uses Facebook is a fan of the former Manchester United player.
50 million? Really? I'm not denying it. It suggests that all but about 9 million people in this country like him. I am aware that in Spain, Portugal, east Asia and Croydon he's a massive hero and 50 million 'likes' is small fry when you consider Farcebook has 1billion users (well, one billion accounts, whether they're all unique has already been proven to be a fallacy).

There is a Phil Hall Facebook page (lifted from the Wikipedia entry that Dan Black put up years ago) It's here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Hall/112245568790842 I have 15 fans (14 if you discount me, and 13 if you discount my other alias). At this rate I shall be as popular as Ronaldo in 3247AD...

Odd Spam

I've been getting at least 3 emails a day from David Steel. He's selling some form of insurance now and is offering me a 200% discount on something that involves me giving my personal details on line. Presumably a 200% discount means they'll give me my money back with a 100% bonus?

Maths probably isn't my strong point.


Sick

The food chain. Someone buys a bag of chips; eats half of them and then throws them away (not in a bin). Marley finds them, eats them and then throws up in the back of the car. The vomit is then dumped onto the road and crows come along and eat it (if it was spring they might even take it back to feed their young). Who would have thought that the humble spud would feed so many?


Personality Wins

Despite feeling like shit last night, I accompanied RnB and the Wife to the Lamplighter public house to spend the £10 drink voucher we won for coming second in the weekly quiz last time out. Going to this quiz has caused some consternation amongst Team Squonk...

I think it would be fair to say that we have a split in the ranks. Two of the team like the Lamplighter, it is clean, the toilets are very nice, there's a kitty to be won every week (£40 last night) it has a genuine choice of ales and the quiz finishes before 10.45, which means that we're all home long before 11 o'clock and on a school night that extra ½ an hour is really important. However, the team captain and frankly the brains of the outfit (the reason we win so often), likes the Vic quiz. She accepts that the toilets are horrid; the place could do with a really good clean, there is no choice of beer, they run out of essentials so often it's stopped being a joke and smacks of incompetence and we rarely get home before 11.15pm most nights. But, the Captain is a huge fan of One El, our intrepid quizmaster and close friend. More of him in a few seconds.

The other two members of Team Squonk (Me and Colin) don't really care where we do our quizzes, we just want to win. I'd rather go to a pub that sells beer I drink and both the Vic and the Lamplighter tick those boxes; I rarely use the toilets in pubs anyhow as I have a bladder the size of our Captain's brain and if we had the time and the money I'd be inclined to do both of them. This isn't really practical.

We decided to give the Vic a hiatus - One El was going to Cuba for a fortnight; RnB were 'quizzed out' and the kitty was in the red for the first time in 5 years. We weren't winning at the Vic after being the most consistent team there for four years. we weren't winning because some weeks our two biggest rival teams were merging into one mega team and trouncing us and the poor schlubs who make up the numbers. My gut feeling, mainly because it was how I felt at the time, was it wasn't worth going to the quiz to maybe win £5 a week and not get a chance at the Envelope Challenge. The irony of this is that B has always said if we dominate a quiz the chances are that lesser teams would stop going, reducing the possible winnings and pissing off all the people who do it for fun but fancy their chances of winning it once in a while. These fears have never been realised.

Our first week at the Lamplighter we won the quiz by 8½ points and pocketed £22. Those fears again were raised. Team members suggesting, in a conceited way I believe, that our presence would kill the pub quiz and we'd be playing for £10 if we were lucky. The following week the place was heaving, the kitty was £50 and we lost... So much for that idea.

I think it's safe to say that the Captain (my wife) doesn't mind the Lamplighter quiz, she just finds the quizmaster about as inspiring as David Cameron (but much fatter) and misses the camaraderie and sense that we're all just a bunch of competitive friends. There is a mutual respect at the Vic - winners are applauded, the quizmaster is applauded, even beer leg winners are applauded. Last night the person that one their version of the beer leg walked up to collect his prize and Team Squonk started to applaud, but stopped quickly when it was obvious we were the only people doing it. When we won the £40 (dropping only 8 points), there was more of a slightly grudging groan than witty banter. We can go to the shitty Vic, lose and have a really fun time; the Lamplighter wins in all categories apart from the fact that it doesn't seem like a fun night out, it seems like two hours of working (with beer).

Which brings us back to One El, a consummate professional, thoroughly decent chap and one of my best friends. His quizzes are excellent, even if I personally would just prefer to win rather than go through an envelope challenge; but that's the way his quizzes are and we've accepted that for nearly 5 years. He is personable, jovial, an excellent comedian and mimic and yes, I am blowing huge quantities of smoke up his arse, but as a quizmaster he has no peers. It's just a shame he plies his trade in some dodgy establishments. And therein lies the rub - the Lamplighter might piss all over the Vic (and that might explain the strange smell in the Vic most nights) in just about every department, but their quizmaster is rubbish and he brings nothing to the evening apart from questions and he got one of them wrong last week and admitted he didn't check his facts, which suggests to me he doesn't create his questions, he steals them off the Internet... Boo and indeed Hoo. That way lies acrimony and arguments from knowledgeable contestants. If One El gets it wrong - it's happened once if memory serves and even then he wasn't wrong as such, he just wasn't as right - he's gracious, jovial and bows to someone with a greater knowledge (Stand up the pretty girl from the much-missed Who Is Margaret Thatcher team). Team Squonk have taken a break from the Vic, next week we're going back. We've decided that we should do the Lamplighter at least once in a while (probably the week after the jackpot has been won at the Vic), because we stand a better than good chance of bolstering the kitty; but that's the only reason. The Vic is a shit place, but every Tuesday there's a star there who makes it better. It's just a shame that One El doesn't do the Lamplighter quiz - that would be a match made in heaven...

On A Serious Note

I want you to read this. I want you to read it and then think about reblogging it, using part of it as a status update, or just cutting and pasting it and sending it to as many people you think would benefit from reading it. This is something a very good friend of mine had to say about the benefits system. He works, essentially, as a debt collector for a Housing Association - not the best job, especially as he has one of the most acute social consciences I have ever seen.
Having held two benefits surgeries over two weeks I've dealt with a few people who should get benefits or should get more benefits. I'm making a generalisation but if Cameron put as much effort into finding who is entitled as opposed to who isn't entitled - the benefits bill could increase. It's a lot of codswallop to suggest we can make any dent in the [National] debt by trimming benefits. The situation regarding Housing Benefits and over-occupancy is also going to mess up a lot of vulnerable people if today is any indication. I had a 48 year old woman with mental health issues willing to give up her keys to her flat and live fuck knows where due to misinformation and stress. Things will start to get very nasty come next April. 
I have highlighted the key sentence. Oddly enough it's the sentence before the highlighted one that says more and obviously is the main reason why the Tories are targeting benefits rather than tax dodgers. They don't want people dependent on the State because the poor and underprivileged are obviously there because they want to be and not because of their circumstances. The Tories also seem to think that disabled people shouldn't be treated any different to able bodied people. That isn't a bad thing if you're talking about parking charges or queue jumping, but when it's applied to things such as working and living...

Stuff & Nonsense

  • The Killers, Primus, Tom Petty, Psychedelic Furs and Nikka Costa.
  • I continue to be non-plussed by some friends' aversion to A Feast For Crows, I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, especially as an interlude away from all the main stories and as a bridge to understand a lot of the politics and brief references the author makes during the earlier novels.
  • Today I am experimenting with the breadmaker. Usually it's just a recipe that is followed, today I'm dicing with defeat as I try my own recipe (involving a mix of flours, sunflower seeds, honey and a small lamb. (I lied about the lamb)
  • Did any of you know that the inventor of Velcro lives (lived) in a really nice house between Stoke Goldington and Salcey Forest? I wonder if ZZ Top ever visited him there?
  • The last of my garden harvest - the plum tomatoes - are rotting on the vines. I'm not surprised we're all going to starve to death over the winter or need mortgages to pay for Sunday dinner.
  • Having just run the Blogger spell checker on this, apparently the word 'proven' still doesn't exist and that oft used word 'prize' (you know, what you get if you win something) also doesn't exist. It is also telling me that the term 'a while' should be written as 'awhile' but when I do put that down it tells me it should be 'a while'. Fucking useless piece of shit...
  • Congratulations to my brother-in-law and his girlfriend on the announcement of their engagement. It's about bloody time!!!