Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just a thought

Viz Geoff's deconstruction of Sandi Thom and the resultant exposé of the cynical marketing behind her "success". And that Gnarls whossname stuff. And the Arctic Monkeys and others. I'm having trouble with all this people's music crap put about by the download companies. Who are the people this great march forward for technology is meant to be benefitting?

They rattle on about ease of accessibility and you only get what you want and you've got it all in a nice little box blah blah. It's all sweaty bottoms.

You need to buy a PC to download the tracks or copy your existing stuff with plus a decent broadband link that probably comes bundled with an attractive phone package that means you'll be tied up yakking when you should be in the garden cleaning the pond out. And then a horrendously expensive box of tricks to play your bunch of 1s and 0s on and probably a hi-fi with a docking unit and one for your car as well. And a cheap one for the kitchen. Or you don't have one at the moment, you soon will have because every other twat's got one. When your PC explodes or your iPod snaps in half you've lost your record collection again, unless of course you've had the foresight to sit and recode them onto a CD-ROM. That means you have another CD collection, but at a lower quality than the original. You won't ditch all your CDs, will you, because they're a slightly better quality than MP3s and after all, they cost you a fortune and it's nice to have the covers. Of course, you can go to one of those sites where you can download a cover for that album you've just downloaded from iTunes and print it out several times because it wasn't right the first time, using hugely expensive ink onto shitty paper. Not to mention the fact that you will probably be downloading loads of spyware and then when you can't afford the "official" stuff you'll be back on P2P sites meaning you'll soon have to go out and buy another PC because you've knackered the last one accidentally downloading a load of Russian granny porn instead of that old Mountain album because you didn't quite understand the software..

Oh, and anyone walking around with white "ear buds" in looks like the kid at primary school with the permanent ear infection. Showing my age.

You mugs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


This is my Dad. Nice man, isn't he.

This is a Webley Mk VI .455 Standard issue service revolver.

This is some blank ammunition; the kind he's been making himself for years and which he uses in any one of the three of the above he owns so he can carry out his hobby as a Southern Counties AAA's starter.

This is the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

It's where he will be tomorrow morning after spending the night in his local hospital in Ashford. The Queen Victoria Hospital are world leaders in reconstructive plastic surgery. Using bits of his thigh, they hope they will be able to replace the bit of his left hand he managed to pebbledash the kitchen table with this morning.

Honest guv, I was only cleaning it and it went off in me 'and. Yes, Dad. I know. In future remember to empty the chambers next time you leave the stadium in a hurry, even if it's catting it down.

Thing is, I can't stop laughing about it; am I being cruel? I think it was probably the way in which my Mum's "We lived through the blitz, so?" mentality showed in the rather nonchalent, "Jennie (my sister) went back and cleaned all the mess up. She didn't have to." (Did she have the kids with her, I wonder? "No, don't touch that Adam, that's Grandpa's hand"). Thank goodness the cat's no longer...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Nothing better to do

I'm writing this concealed under the coffee table as I've heard there are teams of Daily Mail hacks scouring South Cheshire seeking out examples of class violation with which to edify their dwindling readership.

Not wishing to betray my working class upbringing, albeit in a nice house in the home counties, I will be printing out a poster to pin on the front door listing some valuable class identifiers. Boxes ticked will include the fact that we buy all of our furniture from MFI and that yes, I will be purchasing some car flags for the MPV. I also promise to let my front garden overgrow and to argue out loud at three am in the middle of the street. Dropping litter all over my neighbour's front garden is mandatory as is drinking foul tasting lager straight from the bottle while letting my Staffordshire bull terrier shit in the park. I will dump my guitar based rock albums in favour of some migraine inducing drum 'n' bass crap that can loosen teeth from 50 yards courtesy of the 2000 watt power amp replacing the back seat of my Citroen Saxo. I also promise to buy a 48" television set in order to obscure all natural light through the living room front window.

Perish the thought that the lazy bastards who write the witless shite that passes for news in their paper should have ever spotted me playing croquet with my Mum and Dad on our back lawn when I was a kid. I'll never be able to show my face in the charity shops around here again.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Back home

Forget Embrace's turgid "World at Your Feet" because this is inspired.

It's Joel Veitch and his pussies again. Will Fender be issuing a Custom Shop Kitten Strat? Oh, yes please.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


My wit has just been featured on the national wireless.

I'm listening to Janice Long on R2 and she mentioned an email from some woman in Croatia who thought that Morrissey ought to represent the UK at Eurovision. Oh yeah, right. She probably was being serious, too.

Janice then asks what on earth he could sing. With amazing alacrity I shot off an email during "Pause for Thought" and she's just read it out:

"Richard in Crewe suggests Morrissey should sing 'Boom Bang a Bang, My Girlfriend was the First to Die.' Ooh...Dark."

Did you see what I did there? Gosh, I'm sharp.

(You will of course be able to listen to my moment of glory on the "Listen Again" feature on the R2 website. It'll be about halfway through, around 1.30am)

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I do try and keep the pottymouth stuff off here. I can and do use base language at times and I can also be quite creative with my oathing if called upon to be. Of course, if I make it too coarse, google will stop me putting adverts on the site and I'll never be able to become rich otherwise. I really am trying so please, use your imagination to fill in the spaces below:

To the ____ing _____ ____ ____who drove his car into mine while I was in Morrisons an hour ago without leaving a note to at least apologise. You're a ____. If I could find them to remove them, I wouldn't even feed your testicles to the dog. I hope you get caught by every speed camera in Cheshire doing 1 mph over the limit.I hope your dog gets fleas and that you're allergic to them and that they make you sterile. I wish the satnav in that the pile of _____ ____ you drive around in and call a car steers you repeatedly down dead ends and into rivers and that your Bluetooth headset explodes when you try and call the AA out. When you're surfing those hobbysites tonight I wish that you will see pictures of your parents dogging. Just as you get to the vinegar strokes. Am I upset? So would you be if it meant that the last week's work has been for nothing.

In short, I hate you. You're a _____ and _____ and a ____.



It all goes round in circles

Yesterday I had one of those odd coincidental experiences that cause me to ask questions about the nature of things such as the existence of fate. And all that.

Again it came out of a little bit of research I was doing for Tony's book. He promoted wrestling for a while after the war and I was checking names and dates on teh interwebs. I found a specialist site and emailed the owner in London, a guy called Mike H. We struck up a brief conversation and he was very helpful. Then I happened to mention that when I lived in London I knew a bus driver out of Plumstead Garage called Mick H and that he was the ex-husband of an old work colleague. I knew him quite well back in the late 80s and through the 90s and passed a couple of jokey asides about him. I last saw Mick purely by chance about 5 years ago. Despite the identical name, I knew he wasn't the same guy but it was enough to maybe ask if they were perhaps related as their shared name wasn't particularly common.

I was stunned to receive Mike's next mail informing me that no, he wasn't Mick H. Sadly, Mick H had been killed a week before Christmas. He was taking his bendy-bus to the start of his route early in the morning, got out of it in Greenwich for some reason and was crushed by another bus coming the other way. It was big news in London, as is anything involving the dreaded bendies, and also made the nationals. Mike, sharing the same name, had obviously been the recipient of rather too many "I thought you were dead" jokes to have erased it from his memory. I do remember that I had actually been in London and Kent the day before the accident delivering Christmas presents and would have driven back north the next day. I probably would have heard about it on the wireless but I'm assuming they never released his name immediately.

The bizarre thing for me is I would never have known this had I not been trying to find out something about a well-known wrestler by the name of Bert Assirati. It wasn't as if I really needed the information either, I just felt I needed to ask a question or two in order to jog Tony's memory and it wasn't until I'd sent the email off to Mike that I realised the similar name.

I am constantly being reminded of how small this planet can sometimes be and I just dread to think what the next bit of research will throw up.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I'm watching The Money Programme. It's about the online music revolution and I've just made a shocking discovery. Favourite place of all teenagers and home of viral marketing, Myspace, is owned by arch-slug and waste of oxygen, Rupert Murdoch. Cost him $350 million mind. Is there anything he hasn't got his podgy fingers dipped into? I wonder if he's liable for all the pirate music the place is playing.

The other thing that is bothering me about this article is that they are featuring Mick Hucknall's manager saying that the Ginger Minger's share of sales from his conventional label releases was £20 million but that it should have been better. Look, Mick. If you're upset at only getting £20m then just let me look after it for you. I'll obviously find owning it a damn site more rewarding than you do.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My friend Andy has been in touch. As he reads this blog, permit me a few moments while I say hello otherwise I feel I would be talking behind his back and that would be rude: hello Andy.

Andy is an ex-colleague of mine, a fellow student of the human condition as demonstrated by the 50 million or so motorists who annually use the world's premier toll road, the Dartford River Crossing or, as it has been known for the last three years or so, Le Crossing. For the ignorant, we used to charge people for entering Kent and then fine them for leaving. Andy isn't the most excitable of chaps, he's solid and dependable and is a good man. He is an efficient worker and was there when I joined in 96 and is still there, day in and day out, come sun, rain or snow, bravely putting up with the evil and ignorant beast that is the British motorist. He has also corresponded with me regularly since I left in 2002.

This time he had disturbing news. During my time there, the management of the crossing was never known for its outstanding generosity and there was an uneasy distrust between white and blue collar. In the 80s, the Tunnel (as it was then before the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge was completed in 1991) had a dreadful local reputation and there were many toll booth operators doubling their salaries illegally. A purge was undertaken, new equipment installed and a human bloodhound called Bill set loose who knew every scam possible. The upshot of this commercial dilligence was the place was a license to print money and the loan taken out to build the bridge (the Thatcher government's first PFI project) was paid off several years early. We were fairly well, but not brilliantly, paid.

Apart from the lengthy holidays we were able to take because of the strange shift pattern we worked, we had one other perk - we could use the crossing for free. You'd expect that, wouldn't you. After all, railwaymen and their families get free travel and I dare say bus drivers get to use buses for free. Tesco employees get discounts and my next door neighbour works as a lowly night porter at a local hotel and gets to use their golf course for free. The free trips were a little concession they made for whenever the employees from Kent wanted to go to Ikea in Thurrock or the Essex lads wanted to take their children to see people who could eat with their mouths closed. In the great big scheme of things it probably deprived the company of no more than a few thousand quid a year. Notice I said deprive - it doesn't cost them anything unless they cause an accident. Wear and tear is negligible. The number of free company trips taken annually could be fed through one bore of the tunnel in less than an hour.

I'm sure you've guessed. Yes, Andy tells me that the bastards have started to charge employees to use the crossing. Such overwhelming generosity will, I'm sure, be met with a reciprocal gesture from the troops. I'd add half an hour on your journey on busy days if I were you.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Google don't know nuffink

No, it doesn't. It likes to think that one day it will and one day that may well be the case but for the time being, don't bet your life on it.

We've become so conditioned in our blind acceptance of the primacy of the internet as the largest repository of information that we tend to forget there's a huge and largely untapped resource of knowledge out there, namely libraries. It used to be the case that the library was the first place you went when you didn't know anything (or you didn't trust the kid who thought he did) and I remember many hours sat in the reference library in Ashford as a kid wrapped in the Brittanica or rapt, sauntering through Kent with Charles Igglesden.

Yesterday I was reminded of the superiority of the printed word because I wanted to look something up and I couldn't find it from the comfort of my chair. The biography I'm writing threw up the name of Carroll Levis, who probably won't be familiar to anyone younger than myself and is probably forgotten by many older. For 20 years surrounding the last war he was the country's proxy talent scout. He hosted a radio and then TV show called "Carroll Levis Discoveries," a format later copied by Opportunity Knocks, and my client once appeared on it. Trouble is, he couldn't remember when. Not wishing to waste a huge amount of effort on listening to old, and un-indexed, recordings at the British Library for a mere aside, we compromised on trying to find out when the programmes were roughly transmitted. It became a little bit of a grail, more so as the more we searched, the less important the outcome actually became; the search becoming the important thing. For someone who was a big figure in radio, there is precious little known about him and we didn't even know when the programmes were broadcast.

Tony, my client, lives in London. I had given him a link to a very nice lady at the BBC archives in Reading. Tony is a natural with the ladies and he came away with a reference to the sound recordings at the British Library. Bad news. There were loads and all unindexed. However a friendly cove there pointed him at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and he came away with the first decent biography of Carroll Levis and that at least gave us something to work with.

This is where the revelation starts. On the phone Tony had mentioned something about sending me the link for it. I didn't quite understand because he's a bit of a numpty when it comes to things digital (when he uses his Blackberry for instance, I can't email him. Not worked out why yet) but I said I was going to Crewe Library later anyway so I'd have a look myself. When I did and looked in the rather small edition of the ODNB they had there I couldn't find the biography of Levis. Stumped, I came home and looked on teh interwebs for the ODNB and lo! they done very genius things with it.

As of the end of April, you've been able to read it, online and for FREE! Not only that but also the authoritative Grove dictionaries of art and music, the OED and the Oxford Reference Online. There is a catch though; normally one would pay £150 a year or £50 a quarter to get these online but the Oxford University Press and the Museums and Libraries Archive have reached an agreement whereby libraries can subscribe and their members can access the data for free for the next couple of years using their library membership number. Nearly all library authorities have subscribed to all or part of the scheme so far and all you need to do is go to your library website and look for the Online Reference Library links (this is what mine looks like but unless you live in Cheshire don't use this otherwise you'll look foolish) For goodness sakes don't try and work this out from the ODNB site either as it's been designed by zebras. Reading the Cheshire site it's apparent that they are taking this initiative very seriously indeed and have subscribed to even more reference databases. There are worse places to live.

Can you see what an excellent thing this is? Not only have you got access to the world's greatest reference works, stuff that Google hasn't managed to subscribe to yet, but they've made it so you have to join your library to do it. This is a very good thing indeed because libraries are very good things, especially when it's raining, and have to be kept open at all costs because civilisation would collapse otherwise. Now go and tell your children.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lies; damn lies and site meters

I changed the site meter on this blog because the Bravenet one was boring. This one just gives me far too much information and it's preventing me from functioning properly. Today it has told me that I have had a referral from this page.

As you can see, there is no conceivable link to any blog, let alone this one. I would be delighted to feature on the French Canadian Zwarowski optics front page(accessed from Paris - it deepens) but I fear we have little in common. My mother has a large collection of their sparkly animals which, because of the dearth of display surfaces in the ancestral seat, she keeps away from prying eyes under the bath, behind the removable panel. Here I feel obliged to post the following note to potential opportunists - this may be old information because they may well have been moved, in which case my father will have constructed some vicious booby trap along the lines of the twelve bore cartridge caps on trip wires he has occasionally strung about the property. He has increased security ever since one of Kent's more notorious ne'r do wells moved in next door. Getting coal out of the bunker at night to charge the Aga is like negotiating a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Needless to say, Mum won't be inviting the neighbour round for one of her salads. Dad will still sell him courgettes though, because he'll sell anyone courgettes. I tell him, "Dad, if you call them zucchini, you could charge double. They still taste like shit but then people pay good money to eat crap. Lollo rosso and cauliflowers - case proven." This is not my dad playing with his zucchini.

Can you see how easily I digress? Beats me why I sometimes find writing so difficult. Apologies, I've been in the sun.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

You just can't get the staff

I have been listening to the wireless again.

For those too lazy to click links, the item reported the threatening letter sent by animal rights activists to 50 shareholders in Glaxo telling them to sell their shares, or they'll tell on them on teh interwebs!

Can anyone spot the rather abundant Clarkson fuel in this argument?

Answer? Read the comments, it's in there.

World gone wrong

I'm just listening to the wireless before I retire and the rather forgettable song that just finished was apparently by the possessor of possibly the most divine voice in all of popular music, Kate Rusby. And Ronan Keating. Getaway.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

That thing

Sharon tells me that Peter Kay will be appearing in an episode of Dr. Who next month. I'll start:

"Time travel? Time...and travel? It's the future, I've been there."