Saturday, January 21, 2017

the economies of scale

hi there

a quite famous book, the name of which escapes me, commenced with the words it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. i can recall, quite fondly look you see, this opening causing some distress when the clever one out of Cheers attempted to read it to his fellow patrons in the bar what they were all always in; the name of which escapes me for the moment.

to use these opening words, that first sentence out of A Tale Of Two Cities off of Charles Dickens, has become something of a cliche over the years, then. which is why i have elected not to use them here, as appropriate as they are, except to use them in the way i did.

the inevitable has happened to me, alas. yes, my preferred (as in the cheapest available) brands of cigarettes, or if you like fags, have been blessed with the regulation change to the packaging and content.

with the world being absolutely perfect in every respect and their being virtually nothing else for them to do the politicians of our world have, but of course, set out to "do some good" in changing the laws around cigarettes. far be it from me to suggest that they do so as it is an easy target and a simplistic way to make it look like they do something for the benefit of people.

if they did do something to benefit we, the people, well, if they were all that bothered about the health of people and how that's affected by cigarettes they would simply ban tobacco products. ha, no, but of course not, for they quite like the tax revenue. also, if the people let the government ban fags, then who knows what licence that will give them to ban next. booze, probably.

for those of you who are not living in England, or for some reason are not smokers but have some sort of interest in cigarettes, the law was changed so that by May of this year (maybe March), all cigarettes had to be sold in plain, standard packets, and must contain at least 20 cigarettes. the latter point is of some relevance, but we will get to that.

the idea behind the change of packaging is a most splendid Australian idea, from Australia i think. some boffins, who no doubt got many hundreds of thousands of pounds to carry out research, decided that it was colourful, pretty and shiny packaging what caused people to smoke, rather than the nicotine in the cigarettes or the nice feeling some of us get from them.

to this extent, then, we now have a semi or if you like off brown colour to all cigarette packages, with a standard font being used for all brands. much, much more space on the packets has now been given over to some warnings.

my biggest concern with the changes was, as much as i love shiny things, the change which meant that packets needed to have at least 20 in them. this was something which i suspected would put the price of a packet up, which it has. or at least i thought it had. let me elaborate.

the majority of brands of cigarettes here in England, indeed probably the whole of the UK (except maybe Scotland, who seem determined to do their own thing), have for a few years been selling packets featuring 17, 18 or 19 cigarettes rather than the standard 20. i never bothered to investigate, but i just took it as a given that this was to somehow cut the sale cost to we, the people.

this theory of mine seemed more or less right, when you consider that, for example, a pack of 18 Chesterfield Red cost £5.99, whereas 20 B&H or Marlboro (sigh, how i miss Marlboro) cost north of £9.50.

so, how has the enforced increase in the number of cigarettes per packet affected my two brands? well, stats are awesome in this respect. here, if you will, is or are the mathematics of it all......

Chesterfield Red

was £5.99 for 18 - 33.3p per cigarette (ish)
now £6.99 for 20 - 35p per cigarette (ish)

B&H Sky Blue 

was £5.90 for 17 - 34.7p per cigarette (ish)
now £6.90 for 20 - 34.5p per cigarette (exact)

so, then, yes. somehow this rules and regulation change has managed to make one of my packets of cigarettes of choice cheaper. which means i have gone from the worst of times, thinking that i would from an economic point of view have to start taking quitting/cutting down considerably seriously, to the best of times, the government has managed to make smoking cheaper.

yes, i probably should be cutting down, quitting, etc. and perhaps i will, for despite the unit cost being cheaper the actual cost of a packet is now more. smoking is, as per the warnings here, not at all good for you. the main motivator for quitting, however, would always be economic. this latest measure to try and persuade me to stop has missed that point, some.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 20, 2017

and yet some more painty doodles


yes, good and kind reader. this post is indeed yet more adventures, or if you like exploits, look you see, into the realm of painty doodles which have been crafted by my (considerably) better half. should it be that relief could ever be so blessed, then i imagine that it is a blessed relief to you, the more regular sort of reader, that this is all more her formidable talents, less my nonsense.

and so, to that end, let me get on with the pictures, images or if you will painty doodles.....

quite splendid, i trust and indeed hope you agree. if not, never mind, for in all likelihood you're not reading this anyway, as you've headed off to some other place to inspect images that you do indeed care for somewhere else on the internet.

what's this image called? it is, after all, within the realm of rights of an artist to name or if you like christen their work with a title. to be honest about it, i was either told at a point of a sentence where i would normally stop listening, or i was told and have forgotten, or otherwise it was mentioned to me in passing when i was distracted by something; possibly a squirrel.

just call or refer to it as what you will, i suppose. electrolyte purple flower in space pretty much works for me, and if it does for you then go for it.

this one above, which i happen to really quite like a lot, probably also has a name, but see above in regards or indeed respect to my knowledge of what that name might be. stargazer  works for me as a name, as indeed does moonbeam, with the latter having the benefit of being a Nilsson reference.

yes, these images were indeed created on some form of "app" on one of them tablet computer things, but no i don't know the name of it, sorry.

indeed i could just ask her, and either make the effort to remember or write it down or something, but this would rob you of the fun of trying to find it yourself, would it not?

whilst i am hesitant, if not outright reluctant, to call or consider myself an expert in anything at all, i would suggest that this here picture above is from the same sessions as the first image. if, indeed, not just the same image but in a different light, or with some painty doodle fiddling going on.

anyway, yes, most likely a return to my nonsense in the next post.

many thanks again to my (considerably) better half for letting me show all of these classy images off here!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017



one of the more interesting aspects of modern life is the distinct and noticeable lack of sightings, look you see. we live in a time when the sights of yore should be free flowing and, frankly, all over the place.

for the last decade or so there's been a proliferation, to say the least, of phones what are mobile and what have cameras welded to them. this, combined with social media and the ability to share, stream and otherwise upload all that you do with a phone what has a camera welded to it, live and to a worldwide audience, means we should be awash with footage of alien abductions and scenes of The King, Elvis Presley going about his secret hiding life.

whilst the lack of footage of aliens, or people getting abducted by aliens to have all sorts of bum probes and what not done on them, is probably explained away by theorists as "proof of government control of the internet", the absence of scenes showing The King, Elvis Presley not so much. other than fearing his power, why would governments care what He was doing?

oh, and by the way, as an aside, if the theorists happen to be correct about complete government control of the internet, thank you very much indeed, governments, for all them mucky pictures you have put on it. well worth all the tax contributions; they are splendid.

it is very nice, then, and indeed a little exciting when news of a sighting of The King, Elvis Presley is brought forth to us, His humble acolytes, here in 2017.

no, the above is not the present sighting of The King, Elvis Presley in focus here. that just so happens to be four really smart discs of Him and His music which came in the post today off of Mum & Dad. nice one, much appreciated, and i am very much enjoying having a listen.

oh, theorists, look. them lot at the CIA, the ones that for some reason like wearing sunglasses and shooting people in strange lands, have released a whole load of documents out of their library. apparently some are UFO sighting and alien related.

anyway, The King, Elvis Presley and his recent sighting. at his own birthday blessing, no less, and at Graceland, apparently. here, via one of them social media things called Evidence Elvis Presley Is Alive, is the image of Him watching the evocation being administered.

yes, quite. i believe they mean He is the chap in the sort of central middle position, wearing some boss spectacles and sporting a beard. many thanks indeed to NME for alerting me to this.

whilst i firmly believe the world would be a better place if He, The King, Elvis Presley, were to be alive and well and living a life of seclusion, i am not so sure this image is proof. rather than looking like Him, this chap rather looks more like a salty sea dog. or an actor preparing for a revival of the Captain Birdseye character off of the documentaries about rectangular fish which were popular in the 70s. at a glance, it even looks quite suspiciously like a fat Gary Glitter, out and about free when he perhaps should not be.

oh well, if this image is indeed He, The King, Elvis Presley, the what a wonderful and amazing thing to be able to see.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

random bowie - black tie white noise


In recent days, perhaps weeks, I’ve been doing something that I have not done for a while. No, not that, you filthy minded types. I have, look you see, been listening to David Bowie albums.

For most of the last year my Bowie listening has been somewhat limited to Blackstar, with a trip to Tin Machine during November. It just didn’t feel right, or I didn’t feel up to it, going back to that which once was. One day, though, I said right, let’s get them all out and unpacked and enjoyed again. So I did, and so I have.

Once upon a time I did a series of posts called Listening To Who, in which I randomly wrote about a specific album off of The Who. As they tended to be rather well received, I figured why not do the same with my adventures with David Bowie records? If it is of interest to anyone great, and if it lets someone discover a record for the first time well then so much the better.

The starting point for this, then, is the one which I listened to most recently. That would be 1993’s Black Tie White Noise.

Some trivia and what not to commence? Sure. It was David’s first solo album of new material for about 6 years, with the last one being 1987’s Never Let Me Down. It has the honour of being the first ever David Bowie record to be declared as being “arguably his best and most important album since Scary Monsters”, a review which would be awarded to at least five of the next seven albums he would release. It was a UK number one album in a time when you had to sell a lot of records to even chart, knocking Suede’s debut off the top before being knocked off itself by Automatic For The People by REM. And, if that in itself does not illustrate what an amazing time it was for music back then, it’s also worth noting that Black Tie White Noise was only Bowie’s second best record of 1993.

Provenance of my copy of the record? An interesting story. I was approached by someone who worked at a record label to do a recording job for them, for making video to video copies was still quite an in-demand art back then. In return for this I could either be paid cash or I could select a couple of (then very expensive) CDs from their catalogue. I selected the new Bowie release, thanks, and a “best of” The Sweet.

How best to describe the feel and sound of this record. Hmn. I’ve always referred to it as a sort of funky jazz, or if you like jazz funk. This is mostly because David unleashes his rather unique approach to saxophone playing across a lot of the record. David himself, and producer Nile Rodgers, described it as an attempt to put melody and soul back into what was then coming to be called the “new R&B”, something which in 1993 was sounding very sterile and machine produced when compared to the raw emotion of R&B and soul in the 60s and 70s. A noble effort, and one that sadly seems to have failed when you listen to all the talentless sh!t that masquerades as “R&B” these days, but anyway.

Highlights? More now that it felt like at the time. There’s a kind of refined, I want to say melodramatic but it is wrong, mellow sense to the record. Despite the fact that he was this, when he recorded it he was far too young to be doing easy, middle of the road, elder statesman of rock stuff like this – hence, probably, the creative anger backlash that followed in the form of Outside and, in particular Earthling. If you imagine this record was made by Bowie in his 60s rather than his 40s then it sounds a great deal more better.

I got distracted there somewhat. The lead single, Jump They Say, remains as strong a track now as it was then. The cover of Morrissey’s then fairly recent I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is inspired and witty. According to an interview with David himself, when he heard the Morrissey original he thought “cheeky” as it clearly borrowed from Rock N Roll Suicide off of Ziggy Stardust. As either revenge or, more likely, an acknowledgement, David describes his cover as “me doing a Morrissey impersonation of me”. Works now as it did then. You’ve Been Around is also a pretty decent tune. The edgy, somewhat raunchy nature of it tells you that it was probably intended for a third Tin Machine album.

The title track? Ostensibly a reaction to the racial violence which flared up in LA after the Rodney King “incident”. He and Iman happened to be in the area when it all kicked off looking for a new home, which is perhaps why they eventually settled in New York, and a number of Italian castles. There is more to the song than that, though, As part of the overriding aim of the record mentioned above, it was a song intended to reference, perhaps reconnect, with the black American blues music which had inspired him and so many other British musicians in the 50s and 60s.

Speaking of Iman, the record features some of the music which Bowie composed for their wedding. Wedding and Wedding Song are the somewhat obvious two, but Pallas Athena also.

Despite being a sizeable Bowie fan I would not call myself a world leading expert on him. I mean, I know bits of trivia, and this and that, but I wouldn’t say I have definitive or exhaustive knowledge. I know enough, however, to know that some who claim to do this have been saying all sorts of wrong things in the last year. Black Tie White Noise is a good example of why some so-called experts shouldn’t be saying what they are.

Firstly, there’s a lot of talk about how, as an artist and musician, David “never looked back”. Nonsense. Other than one of the remixes of Jump They Say featuring samples from the celebrated Cracked Actor documentary off of the 70s, Black Tie White Noise contains a cover of I Feel Free purely for his personal memories – something we will get to.

Other examples of David not “never looking back”? sure. The 1980 re-recordings of Space Oddity and Panic In Detroit, the 1990 re-recording of Fame, the early 2000s re-recordings of Conversation Piece and Rebel Rebel, just about all of the unreleased Toy album, etc, etc. He was, I would suggest, an artist that loved and cherished what was in the past, and enjoyed tinkering with it.

Also, musicians. On Black Tie White Noise he worked again with Mick Ronson, who he’d not recorded with since (if my memory is right) Aladdin Sane, Reeves Gabrels from Tin Machine and of course Nile Rodgers, who he created Let’s Dance with. In respect of the latter, “going back” to work with producers would see a reunion with Brian Eno on the next record, Outside.

The other thing which has been said of late is that what made Blackstar so astonishing was that it was rare, if not “never the case”, that Bowie let personal feelings, thoughts or emotions be expressed explicitly in his music. Really? Again, that’s his wedding music on the record – how much more explicitly personal are you looking for him to be? Also, he did not hide away from the fact that Jump They Say was him writing his feelings on his step-brother’s mental health problems and suicide. I Feel Free was covered on the basis of memories of attending a Cream concert with him.

In interviews and things like VH-1 Storytellers Bowie was great at being entertaining and informative without ever revealing all that much about his private life. Music, however, was a different matter. It would not have been as great as it was, is and always will be if he hadn't poured all that he had into it.

This was only Bowie’s second best record of 1993, then. First? What was ostensibly called the soundtrack for a TV adaptation of The Buddha Of Suburbia, despite very little of the music actually featuring in it. The nine original tracks on that record (the tenth is a different version of the title song with Lenny Kravitz on guitar) represent some of the finest work which Bowie ever gave to the world.

Somewhere in a box I will have the VHS of Black Tie White Noise. It features, from what I remember, 5 or 6 performances of songs from the album, along with some interviews. I think that’s where I heard him say all the stuff I mentioned above about the Morrissey cover. The video got a DVD release as and when DVD was invented, but I don’t think I upgraded.

Black Tie White Noise is no lost or forgotten masterpiece. It’s a very good album, but it would be a bit much to say it is one of his greatest. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it in full for, most likely, the first time since the year it came out. Well, I was more bothered about the other 1993 release from him.

Anyway, that shall do for that. If, as hoped for at the start, this has been of some interest to someone somewhere, most happy day.

Which Bowie album next? No idea. Let’s see what I end up listening to, and if I feel of a mind to write some thoughts about it.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

the bad shampoo

hi there

a little while ago i elected to, look you see, go full tilt Australian with some personal hygiene products. this is to say that i bought some body wash and shampoo what were 100%, if not 1,000%, Australian. except for the shampoo, which turned out to be off of Monaco or Morocco or something that began with Mo. i think.

whilst i appreciate that usually i go off on one about some products i have bought and never comment on how they performed - except certain deodorant brands - this time it shall no be so. i have been punished for not going 100% or 1,000% Australian with products of this nature by experiencing a truly awful, nay very bad, shampoo.

yes, there is the offending or if you like criminal shampoo. i would like to think that you can see clearly what it is, or otherwise recall from the Full Tilt Australian blog post i linked to in Australian gold up above, but for the sake of clarity it is the Ultimate Blends Argan and Camellia Oils one.

usually i have what i would call a perfectly functional, if not outright good, relationship with this 'ultimate blends' brand. if you can be bothered - and if you can you may want to consider looking for a hobby - you can crawl through some three years of posts here and see how i've gone from being perplexed by their "blended for Britain" slogan towards accepting the fact that they are just about the only game in town when it comes to shoving lemon in shampoo, like what Jason Donovan uses.

this one, though, marks a low point in our relationship. this blend of argan and camellia oils, whatever the latter happens to actually be, just does not work. the bottle of it would be thrown away, to be honest, if i were not so cheap and if i didn't believe a UN task force would be required to make sure it was disposed of in a way that caused no harm to seals and other such animals what rights activists like to campaign to save because they look so cute.

why, all of a sudden is the Amazon listing for Thor The Dark World appearing on this discussion of less than satisfactory shampoo? well, figured i would add another rant in on the back of this one, to save you, the quality reader of quality stuff, having to read two whining posts.

in his wisdom William has elected to watch all of them Avengers films and related character "standalone" movies. we have all of them on that blu-ray thing, except one. yes, Thor The Dark World. i didn't bother getting it at the time as it was boring, but had a look around now that he has asked for it.

sadly i won't be buying it off of Amazon, then. although their face value price of the disc is reasonable, they want me to pay a penny south of £80 per year in order for me to spend a further £10 to buy this off them. yes, they've made selling some items on the internet an exclusive thing for "Prime" members.

let me rather just stick my head in HMV, then, or look at other places that sell on the web, and buy it off of someone that just charges the price displayed for it, and doesn't stick £79.99 on the price.

back to shampoo? surely, but first how about an AA joke off of my Dad? no, not that AA, the other one.

Dad's smart AA (no not that one the other one) joke

The AA have warned that anyone travelling in icy conditions should take with them - a shovel, blankets or a sleeping bag, extra clothing (including woolly hat, gloves and a scarf), 24 hour supply of food and water, de-icer, rock salt, torch, spare battery, petrol can, first aid kit, and jump leads. 

 I look a right tw@t on the bus. 

so, what exactly is wrong with this argan and camellia oil shampoo? it's very stringy. stringy as in it leaves your hair all stringy.

actually, that does not do it justice. what this shampoo does - to me, anyway - is leave your hair feeling like the frayed, dangling, well used discarded threads of steel wire from discarded trawl warp. everything about this makes your hair feel hardened by sea salt, oil, grease, fish blood and the sweat of salty sea dogs who have toiled to capture dolphins but vowed to tell everyone they are the less cute looking tuna, honest.

will i be buying this shampoo again? no. well, maybe. i mean, i got this for £2, which is about 50% or more off the usual price of this size bottle of ultimate blends. a bargain, so to speak. if i saw it that cheap again, or cheaper, then maybe. but hopefully not.

as ever, hopefully this information has been of use to someone somewhere!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

the Spiros ascension

greetings fellow citizens

happy news for all of the Spiros enthusiasts that check in here for the latest in his adventures for, look you see, he has indeed been off on another jolly adventure. of sorts.

Spiros, in his infinite wisdom and in his capacity as the greatest legal mind of his generation, elected to have one of them "DNA heritage" tests done. why? it's not for us, as mere humble recipients of the legalese ways in which he changes the world, to question or ask. but he did mention that he thought it would be quite class.

what was required for this test to be done was a sample, or if you like specimen, of the Spiros DNA. the people who reckoned they could work out his ancestry sent him a suitable vessel in which to send off the requisite bodily produced fluid from which they could determine all known history that led to the path to the glory of Spiros. this should have been rather straightforward.

the first sample Spiros sent resulted in a letter being sent back. the company what does this, whose name escapes me, said that whilst the specimen he gave them would indeed have his DNA in it, it was not what they had in mind and requested that he try again.

the second sample Spiros sent in resulted in a request for some clarification, as the resultant test was confusing and clouded, giving as it did over 1,000% of origin. when Spiros clarified the sample, the people what do the tests said that they were impressed with the number of short term mutually beneficial friendships which Spiros had formed that weekend, but requested that the next, hopefully correct, sample be sent some 24 - 48 hours after the remnants of a short term, mutually beneficial friendship with several other gents had happened, as that would lead to a clearer sample.

what's the above? it's a nice drink what Spiros had whilst he was on some travels recently. yes, them coins you can see in the background are a tip what he has left for the bartender what served him.

anyway, the forth sample what Spiros sent in resulted in a letter. the company said that yes, the sample would have had his DNA in, but no, it was not what they were expecting. there was the suggestion, or if you like insinuation, that the sample Spiros sent was illegal to send through the post, and if he did it again then they would refer his case, ancestry and all, to the constabulary.

and so it was to be that the fifth sample of the Spiros DNA was accepted and tested.

there is it, people. if for some reason you wished to know the ancestry of the Spiros, or his ethnicity origins, up above these words is that breakdown. according, at least, to them people what he paid money to.

for Spiros the most exciting part of this is the, in his words, substantial level of blood what he has that originates from Benin and Togo. it is his considered and learned opinion that this puts him quite high up on the heirs to the throne of both countries.

now, yes. at present Benin and Togo are at this stage two separate countries. also, by the standards of Africa, they are democratic nations with a President as Head of State rather than a monarch, be it hereditary or invited. these matters are, however, simple trivialities for Spiros.

Spiros, or if you like King Spiros I, is absolutely sure that once the people of Benin and Togo learn that science has discovered the location of their true king and supreme ruler, they shall convenience him by uniting the countries and preparing a most splendid throne for him. this is a throne upon which he shall sit and reign with fairness, but also exceptional brutality for those who displease him.

yes, that is a Cliff Richard record and no it has absolutely no relevance as such to the ascension of King Spiros I. it just happened to be on display in a bathroom what Spiros had used recently.

Spiros is, he would like it to be known, open to the idea of ascending to the throne of any of the nations what his ethnicity test says he is entitled to. Scandinavia is pretty close to the top of his list should the Benin and Togo gig not work out, although if he went with the Iberian peninsula he already has the Admiral uniform sorted out for it.

how much did Spiros spend on finding out that he was someone who should be crowned king of a nation or two? north of £50, but somewhat south of £100.

more on the rule of Spiros, and other stuff, as and when it happens, dear reader.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

semi proper snow


yes, dear reader who is a fellow resident of the British Isles, i know. i am aware, look you see, that many millions have taken to this "internet thing" to say "ooooh, look at me, i am clever, i can take a picture of snow and share it". i would be further aware that you are well aware of the fact that we have indeed had some snow. proper snow, this time, at least compared to the last outing of recent times.

this post isn't really to show off what you know. it's more for family and friends who might not never ever see the snow, and also may well be concerned for our well being with the reports of "thundersnow" hitting our shores. if you're quite aware of the fact that it snowed then you are most welcome to stick around on this post anyhow, over to you.

and so to recap, then, as you look at William running around in the stuff, we had some snow here today, in England and beyond. actually, i believe a substantial amount in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. not that Scotland complains about it or even mentions it other than to despair at what a bunch of fannies they are in London when it snows; they rather just get on with it.

we did not, thankfully, get hit as hard as some areas of our nation or if you like nations did. that said, what snow did come our way came in a hurry, and settled in such a way that it was to cause certain decisions and delays. after a quite, quite, quite draining day yesterday that i would care not to discuss right now, i elected to see all of this as nature telling me to take something of a break today, and travel no more in it.

so yes, then, we are all ok, thanks. or at the least getting there.

the more enthusiastic if not regular readers of this blog will recall that as long ago as last week, or maybe the week before, the first snow of the year fell. that, however, was but fanny snow, and not the proper laying stuff you can see here above beautifying our garden.

and, indeed, our cars.

my family has somewhat different reactions to snow. when i see it i am all very much nostalgic for my time living in both Australia and South Africa, recalling how there was no snow. my (considerably) better half thinks it is absolutely amazing, so long as she may stay inside and look at it, save for a short stroll in three pairs of socks, massive boots and a sensible jacket.

how about the boys? when i told James it had snowed, he just said "no, that's not true, that's impossible" as if he and i were stood on some sort of air conditioning unit on a mining plant inexplicably well above the surface of any planet you would mine, and i had just chopped his hand off and told him that i were his dad and that. he pulled the covers over his head within bed and would not shift, then.

that's why, alas, James does not feature in this post, but William very much does.

William really does love the snow, and not just because i once told him of a special magic trick which boys and fairly dexterous girls can do what turns the snow from white to yellow. no, he, as you can see above, loves grabbing handfuls of it to either throw or store in a bowl and watch it melt.

more of the snow on the garden, looking all picturesque for the benefit of you in all hotter climes right now? sure.

no, William doesn't cheat - he does, as the first picture showed, love to be out and actually playing in the snow, and not just cowardly grabbing a handful for indoor experimentation. to that extent, here is a video of him doing one of those tres American things which seems to have caught on here in England, and beyond.


hopefully that video played back for you fine (as far as i can tell video plays just smart if you use Firefox, not so much other browsers). if not, then the best i can do is tell you that the clip is of William making one of them "snow angel" things, where you lay on your back in the snow and sort of sweep your arms and legs about.

did we, where i were lad, do snow angels during winter in the 70s and 80s? no. we built snowmen and had smart snowball fights. if i had gone along to my mates back then and said "hey, guys! let's make some snow angels, it will be cute", i would have instantly been called a gaylord and probably would still be called that to this day.

but, you know, times change. the appearance of the "snow angel" thing in various forms of American culture has made it acceptable and popular here, so that is now what the kids all want to do.

this was all somewhat early in the morning, by the way. when i woke, after a somewhat restless night peppered by sleep, at around 6 there was but a smidgen of snow. within 30 minutes, when i next looked oiut the window, we were as blanketed as you can see above. the term "thundersnow" is not as silly as the "weatherbomb" term they tried a couple of years ago.

by early evening here the snow we had has all but melted. there's the threat of more to fall upon us over the weekend. we shall see, for there is nothing we can do to either prevent or encourage that. much of the country is, however, stuck with it, and i trust that they - and our outstanding emergency services - are doing all possible to keep all safe.

a look at one of my most smart size 13 boot prints in the snow? surely. and yeah, sorry, i probably and perhaps should have placed an item next to it for scale. 

i've just been outside and my goodness, man, it is icy cold. it's as cold as you would imagine a carbon freezer chamber is, on a mining plant inexplicably well above the surface of any planet you would mine.

anyway, it is too cold to be sat here tapping away on all of this. let me head off and seek warmth in another part of our home, for my elevated shed is no winter retreat.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


hi there

it would, look you see, be something of a considered understatement to suggest that an awful lot of rubbish gets written and published about football in England. many business operations, be they newspapers or websites, base their model for success on the production of tosh being written and committed to publication. as there's a thriving, indeed robust market which consumes this, there you go. that's how commerce works.

normally one can quite happily stand aside from this junk and let them get on with it. there is, however, one bit of nonsense perpetuated by it which should be drawn to a close. that is the frequent derision and dismissal of the FA Cup, the contest i believe to be the oldest such organized sporting endeavour.

i shall liberally pepper this blog with comments about the fallacy of saying the FA Cup isn't important as we go, but for now, yes. yes indeed, the above picture shows the boys in the vicinity of the Riverside stadium, eagerly awaiting to go in and experience the magic of the Cup.

for those unfamiliar with it, for many of you around the world for some reason read this blog, the FA Cup is a football club knockout contest. The magic stems from the fact that any registered club in England may compete. the first weekend of January sees the 3rd Round take place, which for many is the first round of it proper. this is the stage at which the teams of the top two divisions in England enter. Middlesbrough is, of course, one of them.

yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, or if you like dear readers, there before you, or if you like above these words, are and is the 75% of my family that you all like a great deal more than you like me. which is totes fair enough, i cannot fault you.

in terms of entering tradition, this was William's first ever football match and thus first ever entrance into the legacy and tradition of the Cup. in respect of the latter, it was also the first for my (considerably) better half. she had of course been to see the Boro before - as recently as December 2002, in fact, when she and i, along with some dear friends (hello Norman and Andrea) witnessed Middlesbrough record a triumphant 2-2 draw of a victory over West Ham.

James? this was his third taste of the magic of the Cup. previously i had taken him to see us record a sensational 0-2 home defeat to Hull, and then a hard fought, well earned 1-2 home defeat to Burnley. and yes if you click on the coloured text you will be whisked back to the past to see those magic experiences.

needless to say, James was rather hoping to a better result this time around, but was somewhat resigned to the idea that Boro just might be something of a "3rd round specialist" team.

that's a shot of the players warming up a bit, and indeed of the ground filling up, some ten or so minutes before the scheduled kick off. and fill up the ground did - attendance was just slightly north of 23,000, which was most splendid to see.

a lot of that attendance is in thanks to our guests and opponents that day. in that far corner where you can see an awful lot of blue are, is or were the fans the team we played against, Sheffield Wednesday, brought along with them. it was magnificent to see so many of them travel up, and for large chunks of the game they were in good voice. i won't apologise or say sorry for the result, but i am somewhat saddened that the team did not at the least give up a performance worthy of such loyal and dedicated fans. 

in terms of tradition, legacy, heritage, etc, it was not just the FA Cup in that regard for us. no, far from it. on our travels to the stadium, to rewind a bit, we went passed one of South Africa's finest exports.

yes, Nando's. there is one very special, other, dear friend i think of as and when Nando's comes to mind.

no, we didn't eat there, the boys wanted McDonald's. Nando's is quite strange in England, anyway. whereas in South Africa it's mostly known for being a quite fancy takeaway, here they've turned it into some sort of fancy, if you like bespoke restaurant. as in they give you a knife and fork to eat with, which goes against the tradition of how Nando's should be enjoyed. also, the chickens they serve here are far too scrawny.

of course i followed the Boro whilst i was living in South Africa. they were, are, and always shall be, my team. one of the things about following them so far away from home was, if you shall please forgive the sentimental hygiene, that i could always picture friends of mine at the match. aaah.

nice, then, to be at the match with them, rather than listening on the radio or watching on tv some several thousand miles away.

yes, people, that is indeed the legend who is Payney. we, to my joy, bumped into him as we exited the Boro club shop, in which William purchased a fancy hat that you shall see shortly.

whilst i have my rather celebrated new "Thug Life" beanie on, that is indeed an Aerosmith branded baseball cap Payney is wearing. when i quizzed him about since when was he a fan of Steve Tyler and co, he just looked at me blankly, said he had no idea that that's who the cap was of, and had it only because it was going cheap. if he'd nosed around he probably would have found an even cheaper Sammy Hagar one, then, but just as well he did not.

the FA gets a lot of stick and criticism for many things. some of it quite rightly. in many cases, though, they do things right. like, for instance, encouraging families to get to the FA Cup games by capping the cost of tickets for the early round games.

for this match, as non-season ticket holders, the cost of tickets was £15 per adult and £5 per child. for perspective, to attend a league game the cost is normally between £30 and £37 for adults, £17 to £20 for under 18s. hence us not going to many league games. 

indeed the above is a family selfie, and indeed it is done with the camera facing in such a way that you get a reversed or if you like mirror image. i could have flipped it but i quite like the way this has come out. that we are in the wrong order here is important to remember for a little later in the blog.

back to the rubbish written and spoken of the FA Cup? sure. some have an agenda to belittle it, to say that it's not important for "big" clubs and should even be scrapped. in this day and age of Champions League football, some commentators - and a couple of clubs - believe the mediocrity of  battling to finish 4th in the league is more important than trying to win the FA Cup. financially it no doubt is. but for fans and footballers it decidedly isn't.

let's look at this, shall we. some have an idea that certain clubs "try to lose" in the early rounds of the FA Cup, so that they may free their schedule to concentrate on the league. i would say concentrating on the league after elimination is a bonus, but nothing more. if anyone at all associated with a football club, be it a player, manager or member of staff, believes anything other than their team should be out to win every game they play, they should get out of the sport, now.

i am reminded of an interview with Roy "Boom Boom" Keane, i believe at the time when he managed Sunderland. a journalist asked him if the next match was a "must win" game. Roy looked at him angrily and said "what other sort of game is there? must lose? must draw?". there speaks a man of football.

a picture of me and the boys, the right way round, taken by my (considerably) better half? sure.

there are some fans of some clubs who also believe that their side should strive to be knocked out of competitions such as the FA Cup. this can be to concentrate on the league, either to the end of qualifying for some European tournament or for league survival. whilst i respect that everyone can have an opinion, i would suggest they move to Japan. in Japan the culture dictates that the perfect result for a sporting contest is a draw, so all is fair.

if you do not want your team to win every single game they play, no matter how unlikely or unrealistic it is from time to time, then you might want to give yourself an easier life via stopping supporting them.

comment on the match itself? after a decidedly dodgy, and rather dull, first half, Middlesbrough beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. with us having but 10 men for a lot of the second half thanks to a reckless challenge and a justified red card. this meant that, at last, after 3 years of going to select games, James saw Boro win for real. and William's first game was a win. 

the second goal was special for all sorts of reasons. the biggest reason, no doubt, was the fact that the BBC's coverage of it on Match Of The Day meant that images of me in my yellow shirt and "Thug Life" beanie celebrating the goal were broadcast to the nation and beyond. 

that's just class, that is! i, and as you can sort of make out my family, have been on Match Of The Day! normally you have to be a very talented player or coherent former player to get that honour.

the goal we were celebrating was just sheer comedy gold. it was nearly as funny an incident as that classic Peter Enckelman incident in the match between Aston Villa and Birmingham. that one you can see by simply searching for the name of the goalkeeper, or by clicking here.

here, for those of you who can play video on this blog, is the rather amusing goal we scored and what you can see all of us celebrating with some passion.


yes, we all make mistakes, i guess. but not all of us get paid several thousand pounds a week to make mistakes, and nor do we have them broadcast to the nation.

the 3rd round of the FA Cup is not the only defining characteristic of the first weekend of January. no, far from it. another one is that it is cold. as such, we availed ourselves of some items which were available to purchase from the concessionary stands within the ground. 

a bit of a rundown on what we bought, and the costs involved? certainly.

unspecified brown liquid labelled hot chocolate - £2
one half of one small potato worth of chips - £2
unspecified murky, stringy liquid labelled as tea - £2
very lovely bar of clotted cream fudge - £2

there are all sorts of patterns to be read in the above. i will let you weave whatever images you so wish to do so from the above information.

an image from the end of the match, then. with the Boro players huddled in congratulations and celebrations for winning a game that, perhaps perversely, some commentators and critics suggested they should try and lose in order to focus on Premier League survival.

and so into the hat our name went for the 4th round draw. and for our troubles in the next round we have drawn Accrington Stanley, a team more famous for a couple of Scouse lads referencing them in a milk advert in the 80s more than anything else, really.

will we go to the next game? don't know. maybe. we surely had an absolutely mega ace totes amazing day out of it at this one, to be sure.

once again a round of applause for the Sheffield Wednesday fans who made the journey up to come and watch. what a wonderful bunch, and i do hope your team delivers better than that for you more often than not. 

and to all those who say that the romance and the magic of the FA Cup should be seen as an irrelevant thing of the past, rather just don't go, don't comment and get on with your life. or, you know, remember what football is all about, go along, cheer on your team and enjoy it.

my thanks, as ever, to you for reading.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boba Wrist


i am quite aware, look you see, that for some reason the appearance of any and all merchandise related to Boba Fett off of them Space Battles films draws, if not attracts, a most splendid sized audience to this blog. that is, of course, if you define splendid as being big in the large sense. i'm happy to give you more, then, as showcasing what latest commercial exploitation of a character Disney has made to be thrown my way gives me some semblance of justification in making such purchases.

what is this? well, it's Boba Fett. or at least his head, or if you like helmet. with little sticking out aerial thing on too. what this likeness, presented for your satisfaction in Commodore 64 mode, is attached to is a sort of rubber wrist band thing.

i say sort of, when as point of fact it is a rubber wrist band. one that is red, and one which seems to have Star Wars written on it. in respect of the latter point, i am assuming that one of the "chapters" of the sequence of Space Battles was called this. i am not sure; i think one of them was called Voyage Home or something.

there you go, a somewhat non-Commodore 64 mode look at it, if for some reason this type of thing is more your sort of thing. if it is, you probably won't like much of my blog, but anyhow thanks for visiting.

provenance of this latest Boba Fett bit of merchandise? W H Smith, or is it W H Smiths, for the princely sum of £1 as you can see above; reduced from £2.50. no, i didn't go looking for this specifically or any other such merchandising. i just happened to spot it as i went to get the latest edition of The Viz. good edition too, well worth getting.

indeed the above is not Boba Fett, bit it is Space Battles or if you like Star Wars related. it's a new calendar for my shed, and seems to feature "pre-production artwork" or whatever they call it. £3 it cost. it isn't bad, but sadly for it it's just noth the 2016 Greek Erectus Homo calendar what Spiros got me for, erm, last year.

Spiros didn't go to Greece this year. yes, normally he would indeed make a pilgrimage there once a year or if you like annually, so that he may be with like minded men. on leap years, however, he rather likes going to Turkey. although he went to several Turkish Baths none of them sold calendars, which is a bit of a lost marketing opportunity. besides, as he pointed out, he wouldn't have been to get me one as he had no money in his pockets as he wasn't wearing any pants or trousers most of the time.

more Spiros soon, i promise, including an unspecified liquid specimen. but back to thingie for now.

the luxuriant packaging, you may have observed, encourages you to "collect them all" in respect of the various Fighting In Space characters they have bunged onto rubber bands and packaged.

you may well have noted, or further observed, that there's something decidedly in common with the nine, as indeed there is with all marketing. yes, quite right - no human faces are used for marketing. if they used the likeness of people - say Han, Apollo, Starbuck, Luke, Spock or Buzz Lightyear or whatever - then they would have to pay royalties to the actor to whom the appearance by birth belonged.

the idea that they "just use the popular iconic characters and images" from the films is some very clever marketing bullsh!t, then. but well done to them on that front; the day that i have set up as successful and popular business as Disney is the day i shall cast more stones of criticism. 

that said, it still of course remains truly baffling that Boba Fett did not make a guest appearance in Rogue One, or Renegade Ten as it should have been called, as there were (probably) ten of them and they were far more renegade than they were rogue. in terms of the whole Star Wars timeline, he would have fitted in perfectly. also, it would have explained how come Boba Fett and Darth Vader knew each other prior to their first released on-screen meeting. also also, i would totes hire a bounty hunter to track someone down, rather than send a poor general and some thick stormtroopers.

i would say that i trust this has been of interest to fellow Boba Fett enthusiasts, but as it probably has been i in all fairness should most likely not bother.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


hello there

yeah, it's one of them posts again. the kind that you can, look you see, count on certain things being a given. i can assure you, for a start that it's the music of one band in particular that i shall be listening to. my favourite band, like totes ever? when all is said and done, without no doubt or even the shadow of it, of course, to be sure.

thirty years ago today, then. Saturday January 10 1987. Manchester G-Mex Arena. Frankie Goes To Hollywood started their second, and as it turned out final, tour. and i was there.

the above represents what remains of the tour jumper that i got at the gig. the t-shirts are all long since gone, but at least one of the other jumpers off of it (ordered at a later date) survived, as we shall see.the front of the jumper had the colourful fists off of the Rage Hard cover on display, with the name of the band as you can see at the top running down the side of it.

my Gran did indeed add the back part and the name front part off of what was left of the jumper onto my boss black denim jacket for me. the skulls were added, somewhat painstakingly, by me after i bought them off of a sort of goth store down town; the name of which escapes me.

why the skulls? well, they looked very Bad News, and so very metal and very smart. but we are not here to discuss the wonders of Bad News as such.

i would suspect i don't need to say as such, but the above is indeed a smart word search sort of thing you are welcome to save, print and complete. it is out of some suspiciously unofficial looking Frankie Goes To Hollywood annual off of 1985, no less.

another thing off it is to come just now, and the answers if you can't be bothered to do it yet for some reason wish to have the solution. more memorabilia first, though.

that's the other jumper, then, the one that i ordered. if i may say so, it's held up rather well over the years, considering it has travelled the world a couple of times and i did, in my more slender days, wear it very frequently.

this jumper has featured on this blog before, and indeed i have been approached with an offer to purchase. no, just no. whilst i like to be generous, and have parted with items such as my Wild At Heart poster, i can't part with this. it's not terminology i would often use, but there's no other way - parting with this would be to carve up and cast aside some of my soul, it would be to give away some of the essence of what made me.

yeah, i know, less of me would be a very good thing for some of you out there, but hey ho.

cor, blimey, the fun and excitement in activities just do not stop on this particular post, do they? sorry that there's no interactive element and that you'd have to answer to yourself or print or what have you; i would not have a clue as to how to "code" or add an actual game you can play here on the blog.

yeah, some of those questions are a doddle, some are tricky. answers in a bit

as is customary on this day, once again a big, big thanks to Uncle Colin for taking me along, all the way to Manchester on a bus, to see my most beloved band. whereas i suspect he probably does not celebrate the anniversary as much as i do, one can but hope he retains fond memories of it.

for Frankie were, no matter what certain parties say, an absolutely amazing proper band, and really well and true "kicked it" live.

yes, that is the front of the jumper. looking rather more faded than the back, and to the right (or maybe the left) there's some sort of streak of a red paint stain on it. can't remember where or when exactly i picked that up, but i do recall being most annoyed by it.

no, i am not going to run through the whole gig again, done that enough times here. i can't even single out highlights for you, because every single damned moment of it is one that i have, evidently, treasured ever since.

well, OK, Ped's laser red light drumsticks on the go for Lunar Bay. doing one of my favourite non-single tracks, The Only Star In Heaven, early on (i think 2nd or 3rd in the set). Paul Rutherford feeling like he was staring straight at me. the heat off of the flame throwers that went off during War. and, well, on and on and on.....

answers? answers.

the annual also featured a competition. you had to draw a Frankie picture and post it in to stand a chance of winning a copy of their album. an album the annual called The Pleasure Dome, which is why i remain somewhat sceptical about just how official the book was. but still, nice puzzles and lovely pictures in it.

by the way, "Frankie Say" is correct. "Frankie Says" is not. Frankie was the group, i.e. a collective, which is to say that the pluralised version was spot on. you could always spot a bootleg t-shirt as it said "says" rather than "say".

a look at my denim jacket in my preferred Commodore 64 mode? of course.

thanks again Gran. i love and look after the jacket, even if it's unlikely that it fits me any longer. no, i have not dared try it on for a while, probably not since the early 90s.

i wish the world still loved Frankie Goes To Hollywood as much as i continue to. they made the world a better, more interesting place. that said, i hope that all of you out there have a band or musician gave you all that which the Frankies gave me.

switch off your shield, switch off and feel...................