Monday, July 29, 2013


hi there

away from the civility of The Ashes for a moment, the madness of football transfer season would seem to dominate sports headlines. bonkers rumours and stranger actual bids are all over the place.

the most interesting, or from another perspective the most tiresome, is Gareth Bale moving to Real Madrid. the latest rumours have it as being that a bid of  £81 million (!) by Real has been rejected by Spurs, and an impossible to turn down £95 million (!!!) bid will be on the way from Madrid to Spurs in the next few days. i believe that will see him sold, since that will be a world record bid i believe. well, if successful - Manchester City famously waved £100 million (!!!!!) in the direction of Kaka but got turned down.

Gareth Bale has of course impressed many over the last two seasons. he is a fantastic player. he has not, however, always been seen that way. observe, if you will, this article from a mere 5 years ago.

yes, that's right, my beloved Boro nearly had the double whammy of signing Bale and getting rid of Downing for money in one go. that Harry Redknapp at any stage thought this to be a good idea tells you everything you need to know of why he is presently at QPR and not in the England job.

if that deal had gone through, just imagine how much Bale would be worth now after some brilliant tactical coaching from Gareth Southgate.

i'll leave you to ponder that one.

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

Friday, July 26, 2013


hi there

well, that was fun. today, much like the entire week, did not go either as i had intended nor as wildly as i could have possibly imagined. hey ho. i was today going to sort through the last of my books. i was doing this very thing, admiring the rather large volumes of The David Bowie Black Book and The Columbia Story, when Mr Washing Machine made a most peculiar noise. a peculiar, unfamiliar and certainly unhappy noise. off i went to investigate.

the washing machine, a Samsung no less (more later) (or just now), was flashing SE for some reason. it was also full of water which normally it would have drained. this has happened before, and the fix i learned was to switch it off, switch it on, select the "spin" cycle and the machine will do its thing and drain the water. except this time, alas, it did not.

regular readers will recall the simply amazing time i had the last timeneeded help off of Samsung. you can click and read that if you like, but the short version is it did not go at all well and Samsung were of very little help in that instance.  in this case, things went slightly better as, unlike with monitors, Samsung actually list their washing machines by the same make and model number as it written on the machine. what a novelty!

that said, fat lot of good that was. here, for your pleasure, is all that Samsung are prepared to offer for assistance in trying to work out what's wrong with the machine.

there are only two things that can go wrong with a washing machine itself, assuming that power and water are a constant. well, those two are not a constant in South Africa, but let's pretend. with the machine, either the belt and/or the motor goes or the drainage thing gets blocked. for all the fancy computer stuff, that's it for the machine.

the simplistic ways of a washing machine are expressed above by Samsung, so well done on that front. what is less than impressive is that Samsung's version of troubleshooting is "ask questions about what might be wrong and don't offer any solutions".

as water does not drain was the issue, i tried my best to work out what to do from Samsung's ace help. after a bit of psychoanalysis i established that the hose was not "down" as such, if anything it did have some pump and was quite chipper. also, and please do not see me as any expert in this regard, i established that it was not somehow frozen. i can only assume that in the world of Samsung they believe consumers of their products regularly take items off their devices, freeze them, put them back and then forget that they have done this. i am quite certain i would remember, but it does not hurt to check.

must be blocked, then, yeah? i took it apart to have a look and it did indeed seem to be somewhat blocked.

after taking the hose off, and using the first two of many towels to mop up the water which spewed out, i blasted the drainage hose as best as i could. this is to say it got blasted with a "power thrust" of water until it seemed all clear.

going back to the towels thing and water all over the floor, yes i did think to empty the washing machine out before taking off the drainage hose. i may not be Mr DIY, but i am not stupid. a good 30 minutes was spent gathering the water into a bucket to take it out and then, when the water level was below the bucket's reach, a cup. my that was fun.

anyway, having given the hose a ruddy good blast, i re-attached it, put some water into the washing machine and did that thing where you set it to spin to drain the excess fluid. i was confident that this would be cool, having eliminated depression and being frozen as reasons for it not draining.

alas, no. it was still not draining. it was making a rather sombre, bass-loaded grumble noise as it had a bash at draining. as it would usually make a high precision, sharp, sort of "Terminator of the washing machines" like noise as it drains who knows, perhaps it is a touch depressed.

hang on, what's that black circle thingie next to where the drainage pipe goes? let us consult the official Samsung manual for the WA13G7Q1 machine. helpfully this part is nowhere near the troubleshooting section of the manual, so one would not have spotted it if they were trying to solve a problem like mine.

you see how it makes references to being part of the drainage system of the machine, yeah? you will also note that at no point in their exhaustive list of suggestions for why the machine won't be draining do they suggest cleaning the filter for the drainage pump. cheers for that.

at this point, as i was increasingly looking at either an expensive repair type chap or lady or an uber-expensive replacement machine, i figured nothing ventured, nothing gained and had a go at cleaning this filter thing out.

sorry, didn't take any pictures, but there is nothing to see. there is no "mesh" or any sort of netting that you would normally associate with something that is called a filter. perhaps there was such a thing attached to it and Mum & Dad have it in New Zealand for some reason. what that black circle thing does unscrew to reveal is just a sort of plastic holder thing.

holder for what? something that, surprisingly, Samsung didn't mention. at all. as i unscrewed and took that part out, out popped a white, small four-bladed thingie that looks like a fan head or propeller. my apologies for not taking any pictures, but it is about the size of your thumb if that helps. if it also helps i have done some top level google work and found images that are quite similar to it.

perhaps this bit is what Samsung consider to be a filter? it just sort of pops on to a pin behind the black circle thing - doesn't screw on at all, so it's quite an art to put it back on and get the black circle thingie back in without it falling off and making a sort of "ding" noise on the bottom of the washing machine.

by the way, their "put a rug down" thing? yeah, do that. but put 3 or 4 towels down instead of a rug. no matter how well you think you have managed to get rid of the water inside the machine with the drainage system down (psychologically or otherwise), this machine seems to harvest and harbour water like nobody's business.

if for some reason you want another look at what a four bladed propeller fan head type thing in a Samsung WA13G7Q1 washing machine looks like, here you go.

Samsung are the ones that ran an advert for their phones or iTwat variants that featured as a selling point you being able to draw a hotel on a beach coast as a business idea, are they not? they certainly have an interesting view on just what it is their consumers do with their time. how many hotels can you build on beaches, and do you really need a phone thingie to do it?

moving on, and after getting the propeller thing to stay on, i got the black circle thingie back in all nice. would it now work? i had my doubts, since there was very little indeed to clean out of that section of the machine. 

to my surprise, it worked! the machine drained and went on to do another was cycle! nice one! strange that, really. although i did find certain items on the floor that might have been in that filter thing and fell out when i took it apart. like, for instance, these two 10c coins, which are worth next to nothing anywhere else in the world but nearly cost me a new washing machine.

they were probably in the pocket of one of my cowboy look pants, or possibly even in a pair of William's strides, for he has taken quite a shine to having shiny things in his pockets. i am not too bothered about the who and the when to be honest, just glad to have seemingly fixed the problem without either consulting a professional or just buying a new one.

the above victory was very, very short lived. why? well, in the short term, the reality i thought i faced was washing several towels used in the mopping up of the "minimal" water Samsung reckoned would come out of the machine. i cannot imagine too many of you are either enthusiastic or excited about seeing a bath full of soaked towels, but if such a thing floats your boat, here you go.

yeah, i know the above it a bit blurred. in my defence, i was stood barefoot on a mildly damp surface next to some electric stuff, electric stuff that i thought i might not have disconnected as much as i perhaps should have.

the failure of the victory was complete when i started another small, simple load in the washing machine. yep, that's right, as per the below picture (the last you may be pleased to note) the machine did its thing again and flat refused to drain. bugger.

as the motor was clearly working and cleaning the filter and drainage pipe had initial succes, i figured there was probably just some more gunk or rubbish (or coins) stuck in it somewhere. as taking the entire machine apart seemed quite a job and one that would result in me not being able to put it back together again i took the approach of doing what i had done above with the filter thing and the drainage pipe a few times. this would surely "flush out" whatever was lurking in the machine.

this eventually, it seems, worked. i hooked the drainage pipe hose thingie to a bucket to test. at first the water just sort of trickled out as i put some in the machine and tried the spin trick. after 3 or 4 rounds of this it started blasting the water out, like it should. i gave it another 3 or 4 goes after that to make sure it would keep blasting out, and it did. covering with water the last remaining towels in our house, but never mind.

i have a rather full day of washing ahead of me tomorrow, then, since that which would have been done today has not been done. hopefully the machine holds out and does what it should!

what have we learned here? well, if you have a piece of equipment that is insolent and you are on the verge of either calling the menders or the shop for a new one, have a fiddle. don't go taking it apart or removing things that are clearly not meant to be removed, but have a muck around with the parts that you can. what is there to lose? if it's broken you cannot make it worse, so long as you stay within what i suggest. i mean, i did tilt the washing machine to have a look at the engine and electronics underneath, but one glance said "this is not for your eyes".

this is coming from someone who is of no use usually with DIY things. it's years of being told that i am no good at it, and thus going in to such tasks with a mind set on failure, if you like. that would be why all banal things i have shared here, be they installing a toilet flush or putting up a towel rack, get celebrated the way they do by your humble narrator. have a go, i guess, is what we have learned.

to all of you who have sought help from the internet and found this page, i can only hope this has helped and good luck with your efforts to fix the machine. to Samsung - thanks again for empowering me to try and sort out a problem with your devices by refusing to give much more than a basic acknowledgement that yes indeed you did make this product. a rough idea of what the bits are was most helpful.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013



a little while ago i presented a post about a mystery package that was being sent to, at the time, undisclosed recipients. as the package has now arrived, and most unusually i was presented with evidence of the arrival, disclosure can be made. you may wish to brace yourselves for a sense of deflation if you have in your own minds blown this up to be something out of the ordinary.

i spotted something in the shops that i thought Grant would really quite like. as i knew the postage for the item in itself would be considerably more than the value of the actual item i opted to bring a sense of balance to it all, and filled the parcel up with all sorts of things. this meant that in my own mind the cost of sending was justified.

as it turns out, the cost was all justified when i got this most splendid of videos showing Gillian, Katie and Daniel playing "pass the parcel" with the mystery package!

most happy day! thanks for sending that clip along! if there is a problem with that video clip, or you just prefer the still image to the moving one, here is an image of Gillian apparently winning the game of pass the parcel and opening it up, much to the delight of Katie and Daniel.

by the way, nice one Daniel on the excellent John Entwhistle skeleton suit!

and just what was the item that i saw that compelled me to put together a "mega package" for the benefit of aspects of the family in New Zealand. my brother-in-law Grant supports that rugby union outfit known most commonly as The Sharks. i saw a had and scarf set in a sale and thought that not only would Grant rather like that, but it is also unlikely that he would be able to sort himself out with such a splendid set in New Zealand. i have no concrete evidence behind this conclusion, but i am pretty sure SA based Super 15 team merchandise is not widely available in New Zealand, nice though the place is.

was i right in thinking that Grant would rather like it? apparently so!

erm, yes, the Musica catalogue in his hand is one i just shoved in the envelope as an extra bit of padding, to be honest. glad that Grant seems to have taken a shine to it, and if there's anything in it that he wants he has about 5 days before their "famous" sale is over.

as for the memory stick he is holding, well, i am sure it makes sense to him. i have never seen that memory stick in my life, ever, and i have no idea what the contents of it is. none of my business. although if i had seen that stick before and sent it, i probably just sent a brand new, unused blank one. not my fault if something ended up on it in transit.

not much else can be said of the rest of the package. here's Katie and Daniel sat in bed watching something or other, but i cannot imagine it was part of the contents of the parcel i sent, especially as i did not upload any pictures of the content beyond the above picture, and i am certainly not going to.

one thing extra in the package that i seem not to have a picture of (which is not a complaint, sis, just an observation), is a business card (laminated, no less) for some sort of cleaning business. some chap came up to me and handed it over as i was having breakfast in Wimpy. i had no idea what to do with it, for it seemed a shame to bin such a colourful, well crafted item, but it was something i had no use for. sending it to Gillian, then, makes it her problem whilst preserving the pretty ways of it as far as i could.

i am delighted to see that the package arrived in good order, and very happy that you are all happy with the contents. have fun!

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


hi there

many, many thanks indeed to the takealot website for their assistance in reducing my bank balance a bit. there isn't as much sarcasm in that opening sentence as you might have thought, for they had an amazing special on recently that enabled me to in effect get two very smart things for the collection for the usual price of one of them. well, "smart" is qualified with the first one, but we will get there. i have no idea if they are still available at the prices i paid, but the general browser might be considering either anyway.

first up is the one i am least impressed with and, to tell the truth, could have had a happy life not owning, ever. my (considerably) better half, however, thinks different, so here it is - the extended (!) editions of The Lord Of The Rings in blu-ray (or however one writes blu-ray. bluray? Blu-ray? blu ray?) format. or mostly in that format.

yes, yes, very impressive films and an incredible achievement in cinema, most say. far be it from me to disrespect Peter Jackson (Bad Taste is king of films) but for me they are remarkable, accurate and astonishing film adaptations of books that were not all that impressive. the basic premise of the story, that of a gang of midgets or dwarfs walking across a field to throw a ring into a volcano and exploring their homoerotic tendencies as they did so, did not really require 3 books and it certainly did not require 9 hours of cinema. the mind boggles at just how much more homoerotic it all gets in 12 or so hours of extended dwarf action.

i am pretty sure anyone looking at this via google has little interest in my thoughts on the film, so let us move on. here's the back of the box so you can see what's in it, and you will note it is just a bit cheeky.

i am sure you have spotted it. if not, whilst it makes a lot of noise about being a blu-ray set and containing 15 discs, it's slightly less forthcoming in saying that 9 of the 15 are DVD rather than blu-ray. i suspect, then, than those 9 are not newly pressed as such, but rather hail from any of the large number of different re-issues of the films over the last ten years.

people with technical skills are far more time than me reckon that if you play a DVD through a blu ray HDMI cable the picture quality is "same difference" as an actual blu-ray disc anyway. maybe, maybe not is my view on that. all i know is that the film people are pushing us all to blu-ray by offering extras and the proper versions of films (notably Mad Max 2), increasingly offering just a basic film-only DVD, frequently on a single layer disc too.

what's it all like inside the box? no idea, it is still sealed and if i have my way it will remain so. i think my (considerably) better half will want to watch it again; i wish her luck in finding someone to sit through it all.

a happier, and for me much more impressive, purchase was this beauty.

yep, that's what it says on the box and what it looks like. the two disc blu-ray set of The Dark Knight Rises in a stunning as far as plasticy stuff can be stunning statue like box of the broken Bat-Mask. looks rather impressive, no? well, to me it looked very much like it was saying "please buy me".

i am almost certain that the two discs inside will contain the two discs from the Dark Knight Trilogy blu-ray set i already have, but as you can guess it did not get bought for the disc content. here, for your interest, is the back of the box, obscured somewhat by the flash of the camera. sorry.

i have no idea what that "ultraviolet" copy is, bar an idea that it's something to do with a digital or "streaming" copy of the film. lovely, whatever it turns out to be.

you wish to have a look at the front from another angle? no problem, i am much happier to post pictures of this set than i am the midget festival we started with.

there is a fine tradition that states the third film of any trilogy is going to be weak and disappointing. this is usually because they cram so much in to "resolve" whatever the story is it gets to be a mess. the biggest and best culprit of just how bad a 3rd film in a series can be is of course The Godfather Part III, a film that at no point does anything but desecrate the magnificence of the first two films. Superman III is often given as an example too, but i liked it. of relevance here is probably Spiderman 3, which busied itself with far, far too many villains and plot deviations. as that had two excellent first films and a brilliant director the comparison to The Dark Knight Rises is somewhat obvious.

happily, Christopher Nolan got the third film note perfect right. there was a great danger that this could have been a stupid chase film if it continued directly from The Dark Knight, with a lot of people for some peverse reason wanting to see a movie about Johnny Depp as The Riddler chasing down Batman. skipping eight years and creating a reason why Bruce Wayne would return as The Dark Knight was very wise.

a big part of getting it right was this chap on the side of the box.

there was, as much as fan boys may have cried for it, no way at all of replicating or mimicing The Joker from The Dark Knight. with Bane they went the very wise way of creating a threat that was entirely different, getting rid of the problem of comparisons being drawn for the rather more sensible film lover. one cannot say Bane was better or worse than The Joker with any sort of sensible evidence to back it up.

i very much indeed liked the character of Bane. for all the nonsense spoken in advance - you can't understand what he is saying, he always has the mask on, etc - he was a formidable, fearful character. well done Mr Tom Hardy indeed, and good luck with stepping up a level to play Mad Max just now.

and, for your pleasure, on the other side of the box is you know who....

much as was the case with Tom Hardy and everyone else involved in the film, Christian Bale was spot on casting. the part needed someone to be Bruce Wayne, as the Batman part was easy - it's a man in a suit, after all.

i hope that has helped out anyone considering buying either set, at whatever price. i am led to believe that Warner, usually more consumer friendly than this, are about to unleash yet another variant of a Dark Knight trilogy box set. they seem keen to milk it, but there's obviously a market for different versions so good luck to them.

righty-ho, let me sit and admire them!

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


hi there

the more frequent readers of this blog, and indeed those who had the pleasure of reading a rather foul-mouthed, exceptionally obscene post i made on my good friend Jonathan Granville's facebook thingie yesterday, will be aware that i am wrestling with a sort of cowboy look at the moment. it's something of a difficult path, or if you will trail, i am on with it, but i think i am getting there.

for what reason is it i am going for a cowboy look? because for some peverse reason the people who make my size 13 boots for me have ceased making them in black and now only do them in dark brown. i needed new boots, but i only have black pants. i am no expert in the world of the fashionista, but i have always been told that black pants and brown boots is a no-no. well, for normal people it is - if you click on this link right here you will see Mr Paul Rodgers of Free wearing all black bar brown shoes whilst at the Isle Of Wight festival and looking damned smart too. i am no Paul Rodgers, alas.

i saw an advert for something or other, the product on display escapes me sorry, which featured a chap wearing blue jeans and brown boots. not only did it look quite smart, it also looked like i could get away with it. so, for the first time since around 1983, i bought and started to wear blue jeans with the brown boots, as previous updates have shown.

earlier this week i found another pair of blue jeans in a store that were a different shade to the ones i had. i thus bought them and gave this developed, somewhat jazzed up cowboy look another go today.

i am not at all sure if it works well or not. i haven't really been out and about it public today, so i have no idea of any sort of reaction to it. i will probably take a stroll in this outfit tomorrow, see what kind of excitement it generates.

this idea of different shades of blue for blue jeans leaves me a bit baffled, really. black jeans are ace, as they are just black. they go very well with black boots, which are also just black. i now have to focus on exactly which shade of blue for blue jeans works best with these brown boots and go with that, thus perfecting the cowboy look.

at the risk of getting your hopes up about glimpses of my immense sexuality, i would like for a moment to take you on a journey inside these new different shade of blue jeans that are blue. there's a rather nice touch on the inside, so to speak.

it seems to me that it's more effort than it is worth to go ahead with an orange like trim or finish on the thread on the inside of the jeans, but it is a nice thought and was certainly a selling point. that and the fact that they had a pair in my size.

as this orange thread is not visible on the outside, so far as i am aware, i do wonder why they went with this colour. perhaps it was the cheapest, for i have yet to have a conversation with anyone where the importance of the colour of the thread inside an item of clothing carried any significance at all.

to enhance, or perhaps even complicate, my new-new cowboy look, i decided to invest in another belt. i can only hope that this belt is made from substantially different parts of the cow from the one i bought a while back which, as you may recall, broke after a mere one go with it.

on the off chance that it does break, i have included an "action shot" of it so if the belt itself does not last all that long at least the memories will.

i really do not at this stage have anything else to add except, since you are asking, yes i probably should come up with something of considerably more interest that this if i am going to post on this blog. i will have a little think and see if anything of that nature comes to mind.

in the mean time, many thanks for reading!

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

Monday, July 22, 2013


hi there

i decided to fiddle with my PC a bit, so i took some pictures to post here. you have been warned, if you don't like it then look away now. yes, JG, this intro is for you.

my PC stag is pretty nifty. i am not one of these that rushes off and upgrades or replaces every month just because some twat has made a way for silicon or whatever it is to operate a milisecond faster than usual. i keep it running and making sure it does the job i want, which so far it has.

the DVD/CD unit in it has, alas, annoyed me since day one. it has not written music CDs properly ever (bar a "fix" i found and posted somewhere on this blog) and when you did anything at all with an audio CD you had to restart the machine before it would read anything else. now that i read that, i am wondering why i have taken so long to replace it.

anyway, Matrix Computers had a rather decent special on writers, ace LG ones at that, so i bought one of them. here is the obligatory picture.

i really rather like LG. their customer service is everything that Sony and Samsung most certainly is not. LG go a different direction from those two, appreciating and actually helping customers who buy their equipment. search my blog for a rather popular post i did on the disaster area that is a Samsung monitor with a Windows 7 PC to read what sort of "help" they provide.

it has been a while since i have installed a new DVD or CD drive. what was once a simple task seems to be even easier these days, looking at the back of the new recorder.

that's it, two slots to put two cables in, two that you have no chance of getting the wrong way round. no chunky power thing, no annoying long gret "serial" thing with an insane amount of pins. i also note that teh days of a "jumper" pin to switch between "Master Drive" and "Slave Drive" are gone too. it looks like the computer, or rather the clever processor and Windows, work out all by themselves what's what in that regard. nice one for the kids of today.

for those into the realm of before and after pictures, pay attention and say goodbye to the drive that i used to have in. oh, surprise surprise, look at the make - no wonder it irked me so.

as tempting as it is to show you images of me taking out and putting in screws, as well as fiddling with the cable, let's rather skip to the new drive installed, armed and fully operational. i love all the names that it has, by the way.

to be honest, "LG Drive" would have worked for me, but i quite like how i can refer to it as either my "Modisc" or my "Super Multi". both are pretty cool names.

a test for any DVD or CD drive is if you can eject it off the My Computer screen. behold.

nice one. as a tester, i made a quick mp3 data disc of some recent albums i had ripped to the PC, in particular the Beady Eye record. the disc seems to have come out OK. i haven't tried any demanding audio work with it yet, but i will do soon. to recap, with the other drive when you tried to remove the 2 second gaps between songs you ended up either creating a CD that was one long track or getting it right if you used the "96" setting, or something like that. this is 2013, with Windows 7 and Nero 12. i expect to make a proper CD with no gaps between tracks without any excessive fiddling, thanks.

to that end, i believe something called "firmware" updates assist with making these drives work as they should and with the minimal of effort from the user. whereas Samsung took the approach of "well, the name on your product from us is not the name we call it. you cannot find the name we call it anywhere on your product and we are not going to tell you, it is a secret. find help somewhere else", LG give you an automatic firmware update program. here's a picture i took of the software installing; yes one i probably could have taken a screenshot of but there you go.

i included it only as i quite like that little picture of a CD or DVD being put in a toaster.

i have also used the drive to make a new DVD and that seemed to go just fine. what DVD? that would be telling. i intend to post it to someone as a gift.

there is a slight "fault" with this new drive, i must confess. on the back of the box it proclaims that it is an artist in the genre of something called "silent running". well, it wasn't exactly loud, but i could hear it do its thing. that, to my mind, does not make it silent. a small gripe.

since i had the PC open i figured i might aswell shove some more of that RAM stuff in there, just to see what it did. when i got the machine it had 2GB of RAM anyway, which was plenty and pretty much the upper end of practical use at the time.

buying RAM, alas, is not as simple as buying a new CD / DVD drive. there are different types of RAM, all being some variant of DDR or DDM or something like that. when i went to the computer shop and asked for some more RAM, the chap asked what sort of motherboard i had. when i informed him that it was one that was in a nice black box tower he frowned a bit, so i returned with a picture of the existing RAM and the details of my Intel Chip and all that.

as it turns out i required the "3" one of DDR or DDM, whichever it is. DDR3, according to the receipt. i already had 2 in and Windows 7 on 32-Bit (whatever the hell that means, all i know is that you get program compatability issues with 64-Bit and so i leave it well alone), so i read, will only ever use a maximum of 4GB. the price of a 4GB RAM "stick" or whatever it is was a nice price, though, so i got one.

that's 6GB of RAM on the go, then. i am sure Windows will eventually work out what to do with the extra 2.

i clean forgot to take any pictures of me putting the new RAM in, taking as it does mere seconds to do. i did, however, take a picture of it in its rather fetching box beforehand, so here you go.

iu have included cigarettes in this picture as my chum Jonathan said he rather likes it when i do that. i have no idea why, but there you go. i have also included the cassette of the superb soundtrack for the superb film Starstruck, just so i can mention it and state what a crime it is that this album never got a CD release.

evidence of it installed and working, you request? this would be about the best i can do.

you will have to take my word for it that this is my PC, i suppose. the Windows Experience Index tells me that my computer scores 4.8 because i don't have a fancy graphics card in. i have not seen the need to - i don't play all that many games on the machine.

righty-ho, let me go and test the patience of all this new RAM (whatever it does, i think it is speed related) and the DVD drive! hope this has been of some interest, even if only passing!

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013


hi there

before we headed off to my most beloved of mother-in-laws today we should, of course, have been getting ready. getting ready with a sensational degree of speed, guile and vim, so exciting is such a visit.

so excited and in a rush were William and my (considerably) better half in regards of the excursion today that, at the time i was expecting them to get dressed, they decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies.

i am partially responsible for this, of course. not the precision of timing, but the means to bake such things. i had picked up a packet of chocolate chip cookie mix during the week and, as recently as yesterday, indeed bought the electronic mixing or whisking thing. the instructions that came with the chocolate chip cookie things (i would shorten it to ccc but someone illiterate might think i am promoting a certain racial enthusiasts organization) insisted we needed an "electronic beater". as we were pretty sure they meant an electronic whisk or mixer, that was what i was promptly sent off to obtain.

my (considerably) better half was most impressed with my choice of electronic blender/mixer/whisk, so that can be written off as an anniversary gift or something then. William thought it was the best thing ever, and was rather keen to stick his hand in to the mechanisms of it all as it did its thing. we, for the most part, were able to stop him. at least, truth be told, stop him before he did any significant damage.

was it a pricey bit of equipment? yes, sort of. in relation to the cheap mix for chocolate chip cookies, certainly. i could have probably bought about 30 boxes of already made cookies for the same fiscal outlay.

but then these two would not have had quite so much fun as they did when they were messing around with it when we should have been getting ready to go and visit the mother of my (considerably) better half.

how did the cookies taste? my (considerably) better half really only does exotic, so to make it seem like they were exotic chocolate chip cookies she left them to bake for a bit longer than was perhaps required, giving a sort of tropical overcooked if not quite burned feel to them. they are lovely, and probably worth the financial damage.

i trust you have all had an interesting weekend!!

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


hi there

frequent readers of this blog may recall, fondly perhaps, that i recently purchased some outstanding sounding books for my mother-in-law, beloved or otherwise. i remain particularly excited about one of the books, the one with the splendid name Welcome Home, Cowboy.

with some luck, indeed good fortune, we should all have a review of it soon. i am delighted to advise that i handed her the books today. look if you do not believe me!

i was asked if i had read it first and i said no.

as soon as Monica sends a review along i will be sure to share it here! in the mean time, you may want to try and locate your own copy of the book. happy reading!

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


hi there

i am of the generation that grew up seeing the development and subsequent daily use of all this wonderful computers and internets technology we have today. this is a generation that had the delight of seeing their parents be baffled by such things existing that were once the exclusive realm of preposterous science fiction shows.

a number of us have parents that have bravely ventured into the world of computers and internets, despite things like recording that nice Michael Aspel fellow off the TV being a bridge too far for them in the 80s. some, like my Dad, have even bravely stepped onto the planet of facebook on the internets, posting things as frequently as once or twice a month.

this means that, every now and then, i get something like this appearing on my facebook page thing.

it's that in-between Michael Vaughn (My Lord) and TFM Radio that is of interest here. Dad is very rarely on the internet, and when he is it is usually to suggest a less offensive picture from me as my profile of what have you. it was interesting to see, then, that he had popped on to announce that he went to an event in Redcar from a few days earlier. despite his being several thousand miles away from it.

the picture for the event looked a bit "rave" too, really. concerned that he might have decided to give this ecstacy business or similar a go, i thought i had best go and investigate what it was all about.

it actually turned out to look like an innocent enough night out, with a good sounding band called The Fallen doing a gig. not some sort of rave thing, then, so i stopped worrying about my Dad getting it into his head that now was as good a time as any to start popping pills and getting totally out of control.

i was still more than a little baffled as to why he was clicking on something like this, though. i had a brief concern that he had got a knock on the head or something and had woken from that, losing 40 or so years, and was under the impression that he was once again heading to the Redcar Jazz Club.

as you can see in the below exchange, the above is almost not the case.

so there you go. i can only guess that John Betts has something to do with the band The Fallen, but one cannot take it as a given just because my Dad clicked on this to "catch up". he does frequently do things a rather funny way round, to be honest.

as he frequently does not do things like this on facebook or anywhere else on the internets, i do not have to worry all that much about his antics. happily for the most part he busies himself with his cameras and his gallery. 

and on that note, for those of you in or near Mount Maunganui, in New Zealand or around the world with a better grasp of how to use the internet than my Dad, he has just launched his 2014 series of calendars, as you can see below!


for more information on the calendars, not to mention everything else he does, you can always go along to the Old Grumpys' website and have a look around. if you are truly brave and feel as if fortune favours you then you are welcome to hit the facebook page for Old Grumpy's Gallery too!

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

Saturday, July 20, 2013


hi there

i recently had a request from a friend to present a picture of me holding something that was paper. this relates, to a degree, to my scissors incident from a day or so ago. that, or some bizarre Kurtz type thing. anyway, the only really interesting paper thing close to hand was a four year old edition of that most celebrated of newspapers, the Sunday Sport.

why would i have a four year old copy of that, or any copy at all? well, it's wildly amusing for a start, and has lots (and lots) of saucy pictures in it. whenever someone heads over to England i always request a copy of it to be brought back.

anyway, here is the picture as it was requested, and there were two rather interesting things to note. one of them relates to why i have kept this paper.

the first thing i noticed was that i seem able to do a rather good Kubrick impersonation with the current state of my beard. having most of my face obscured helps it look a bit like the great one, too!

the other thing is the headline there. no, not the Tina (whoever she is) thing, but the thing about Jack Tweed, or more importantly his apparently randy new prison "pal". it is for the article that goes with that headline that has seen me keep this copy of the newspaper, for it is priceless.

as the article was too big for an A4 scanner, i had to use all my MS Paint skills to try and bring the article to you. i really hope you can read it. 

this story enchanted an entire office, and just about everyone i know who i have shown it to. for a start, the "Bum" thing looks added in at the last minute. i think we can guess what word was supposed to be there.

when we read this we were all really impressed with the story of Al "Randy" Lomax. he sounded truly awesome, far better than anything ever created for the TV series Oz or any other prison thing. sadly, Lomax appears to be just as fictional as any character on Oz. it would seem that James Crisp just made him up, if even James Crisp is real.

hang on, let me upload better segments of the article here.

hopefully that allows for clearer reading, i think if you click on it then it might go even bigger. 

we have conducted extensive google searched on Al Lomax and, to date, we have found no such person anywhere at all in the world. well, we have found people called that, but none look like this picture and certainly none of them have been described as any sort of "bummer", let alone an apparently prize winning one. i am not sure how they judge that, really.

as it happens, on a confidential and secret level my very good friend Spiros is registered on just about every "man for man" dating site in the world. he reliably informs me that the picture above looks typical of the "bear" type of gent, and that kind of picture would not look out of place on such a site. the newspaper probably borrowed this picture, then. to try and find Lomax Spiros has kindly met and had an interlude with one or two such "bear" gents, but none have turned out to be him. 

i have no doubt at all that there are chaps like him in prison, but i raise an eyebrow at "non-consensual bum crime" being given as the reason for his conviction. i am no expert, but i suspect that is not quite the actual legal term for whatever he did.

it is debatable, of course, as to which is the most twisted mind - the writer who created this clearly fabricated tale, or me and several others for finding the wording incredibly amusing. it's very much like a Viz article, really.

my knowledge of the gent who Randy Lomax took such a shine to is limited, really. i think he was involved with that "reality" TV woman, the one that everyone seemed to absolutely hate and mock right up until the point she was diagnosed with cancer and then all of a sudden everyone loved her. i suppose one could try and contact him off of that twitter thing or what have you and ask if he met any gents like Lomax whilst in prison. feel free, i really cannot be bothered. i have a nagging suspicion that i read in Private Eye that a certain Max Clifford "represents" him. it could be worth asking him for comment, although i suspect he would be reluctant, for reasons that escape me, to discuss any such prison shenanigans presently.

if you have been midly amused by this newspaper article (or whatever you would like to call it) then nice one, if you have been offended, well, sorry about that.

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

Friday, July 19, 2013


hi there

and so hot on the heels of those 2001 pictures comes a whole batch from 2002! i was reminded of some of these in particular after an exchange of sorts with a friend over on that facebook thingie. there are two rather interesting stories amongst these pictures. well, i hope all of them are interesting, but two may appeal beyond the borders of those who simply know me and the people pictured here. in the grand scheme of things it might all add up to one larger story, but you can decide on that.

some background for you, then. somewhere (i think) between our trip to England in 2001 and December 2002 my now (considerably) better half and i got engaged. yes, this does indeed go against all advice i give to single gents in the world, and thus you can call and accuse me of what you will. my (considerably) better half assures me, however, that i am happy.

we were due to wed in 2003, but an opportunity came up which suggested that we should do that whole honeymoon thing before then. in Middlesbrough, in the December of 2002. no, Middlesbrough is not what one would call a natural holiday destination at the best of times, let alone December. however, it is where i am from, and so is always home. it was also very close indeed to Newcastle, where it just so happened that in that month of that year the Manic Street Preachers were doing a gig, supported by no lesser a being than Ian Brown. a double bill of two of our most favourite music acts was not to be turned down. off we went, then.

no trip home would be complete without a visit to the Buck in Great Ayton, and so it came to be that we visited this fine establishment. happily, it was at a time convenient for us to be in the company of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mike.

oh yes, clearing all those ale glasses and indeed the fine dinner served was hard work. nope, i have no idea what sort of pose we were trying to do there. probably a partially philosophical thing, party proud of all we had consumed.

what can i say of Mike that has not been said on these pages before? wherever or whatever i am in the world, he has always been there. i consider his skills and talents at whatever he wishes to do in this world as somewhere quite beyond the level of genius, and he has over the years been astonishingly generous in helping me as i bumble through things, always trying to assure that whatever damage i do to myself or whatever it is i am giving a whirl never goes from wildly amusing to harmful. well, mostly. there was this one time, right, but bloody Tudor Lodge should never have sold us the fireworks to begin with. best i leave that there, and say that anyone who is fortunate enough to know Mike then knows what a good friend really is.

speaking of fortunate to know, how about my (considerably) better half in a picture with my awesome Uncle Trevor? sure, no problem!

ah, Trevor. Uncle Travelling Trev. Trevor Tinsel in certain circles. there's never a dull moment when Trev is around, there's always something to be having a good laugh about. and his taste in music is simply formidable!

i did mention that we went in December, which means of course that Christmas decorations were for the most part the order of the day. one reads in the papers an awful lot of silly nonsense about Christmas celebrations being "banned" in England in case it offends minorities, but it simply is not true. allowing for the fact that you get a blend of the ultra-sensitive and the extreme-nut job everywhere in the world, for the most part England is a land of respect and understanding. besides, Christmas in England is simply magnificent. 

and, with that introduction, here i am by the magnificent Christmas tree up on the High Green in Great Ayton!

in case you are wondering, yes that is a big green jacket i have on but no it is not, alas, the one i so dearly miss from the pictures you saw of 2001. part of the deal for going to England in 2002 was getting rid of that one and getting a new one. i, with reluctance, agreed.

i look at the skyline in these pictures and am aware all too much of how i miss home. it's really weird, but once you take family and friends out of it, what i miss is the feeling of those autumn and winter late afternoons. yes, even beyond the magnificent long, summer days. as annoying as it is at the time, that cold, bitter wind and speckles of the suggestion of rain hitting your partially covered face is something you don't get anywhere else in the world. it just carries that distinct scent of being home for me. as and when i am home, i like to go walking as often as possible, for miles at a time, just to feel it all once again.

that's probably why i took loads of pictures of Roseberry in the midst of a December sky like the one i speak of, but i shall only trouble you with two images.

why only the two? the rest were a bit blurry, to be honest, and i don't need an earful or two from my Dad about how i should have taken pictures. this next one, as it is, has elements of what you might call being blurred to it anyway!

hang on, you say? didn't Mike institute that well known law that stipulates obscene gestures must be made in certainly company any time your humble narrator has a camera? why, yes indeed he did as a point of fact. it was in Switzerland, no less, that such a law was decreed by Mike. that was, what, 1983 i think. i had one of those new, state of the art disc cameras (google just what that meant in the 80s) and so it was to be that fingers would be flicked at that and every camera i ever owned.

lovely. now that i think on to the inception of that law, there were some exceptional pictures taken in Switzerland. if we still had them we could probably sell them to Gary Glitter for an not inconsiderable sum, but i don't think any of our parents were at all happy with them and destroyed them all. oh well, what bad luck for our bank accounts and indeed for Mr Glitter.

now that i mention disc camera, just about all of these were taken with the then brand new technology of digital cameras, which recorded the images to a disc as the kids of the day understand it. i think ours was one of those really advanced ones, as it had a whopping 256MB memory space. that was nearly half a blank CD!

i did not, as it happens, take the camera to the gig with us. far too expensive a thing to get confiscated by an over eager bouncer. i did, happily, take one of them disposable ones and got some amazing pictures of Ian Brown and the Manics. slightly less happy news is that i have never scanned them, and the pictures are sat in a box in what i call the South Wing of our property. ho hum.

i will dig them out and scan eventually, but in the mean time here's a copy of the setlist for the Manics from the gig. forgive me, i do not recall who provided me with this picture, but once again big, big thanks to whoever sent it on!

if phase one of our in advance honeymoon was to see Ian Brown and the Manics, phase two was to visit Whitby. this time it was not just because my (considerably) better half loves the place, but with a most important other purpose. we took the decision, you see, to try and get that most famous of things from Whitby, Jet, to see if a jeweller chap couldn't somehow incorporate it into our wedding rings.

the above relates to the really interesting stories i promised, but first, if you will, indulge the surprise of my (considerably) better half discovering that seaside attractions, such as the Dracula musem, tend not to be open in December.

a pity that it was closed, as it is magnificent. most places in Whitby were closed for the winter, as it happens. the lady at the B & B we stayed at the year before was most surprised to have us knock on the door of her premises, but was happy to open up for a night to let us stay.

not surprisingly, a number of the touristy stores were closed too. we did find one or two Jet stores open, at the least, and were able to get some of this fine stone, stones which to this day sit in our wedding rings. as we browsed, i was messing about with that massive amount of storage space i had on the camera, randomly taking pictures like the one below.

and indeed this next one, which is interesting to say the least. now, i understand that truth is often departed from on this blog, but honesty never is. to that end, all i can say is that i have not tampered with or edited this picture at all. i didn't even notice this; someone else did when we showed the pictures to them on our return.

see if you can spot it.

no? well, here is an edited and enlarged look. just what on earth is going on next to Michele, towards the middle of the picture?

did my shiny new digital camera catch a ghost? do i believe in such a thing as ghosts existing? i really don't know on either front.

there is of course the possibility that there is an entirely reasonable way to explain what the above image is, but i am unaware of it. it could well be a fault in the camera, but it is most strange that it was a fault that never repeated or manifested in any other images.

here's an image that was taken either moments before or after the above one. it is entirely possible that the ghostly image somehow belongs to the person now stood by the lady in the purple coat. i don't think so as the pants on the "ghostly" image look much, much lighter to me, but i do not claim to be an expert.

what if i were to tell you that this was not the strangest episode of our trip to Whitby? well, it isn't, so i have told you that.

buying the Jet was an interesting experience. we had the choice of two stores. one was modern, one looked slightly rustic and traditional. we went with the latter, then. as we walked in, we admired the range of jewellery on display, and indeed the rather large, clearly old and loved polishing machine. the chap in the store was busy serving someone else, so we had a few moments to take all of this in.

when it was our turn, we asked if it was possible to buy, for want of a better term, "raw Jet". he said yes, and asked us what we were after it for. we explained that we were getting married, and hoped that it would be possible to set some of the Jet into a ring. when we mentioned that we were heading back to South Africa, he commented that South Africa has the finest, most gifted jewellers in the world, and it would be no bother for one of them to do that for us.

in what to this day i consider an astonishing act of kindness, after we had selected the larger chunks of raw Jet to buy he decided to give us at least double the amount we had bought for free, and wished us many happy years together. see, being excellent to each other does exist in this world beyond my regular sign off on this blog.

a picture of you to build up some suspense, but it is important to note not of the shop we bought and got a great gift from. i will explain.

after that, will all that we wanted to do on this trip done, we sat and have a lovely, lovely pint. we got talking and both of us agreed that as the chap was so astonishingly kind we would return to his store and buy some random gifts for people. after supping up, we walked back to the store was. or at least where we thought it was.

should you suspect alcohol has some bearing here, i promise you it was just the one pint each, and trust me it takes more than one to floor my (considerably) better half. the store was in a straight line from the pub anyway. or at least it should have been.

we walked. and we kept on walking. eventually, we stopped. we looked at each other and were thinking the same thing. obviously we had gotten distracted or something as we had walked too far and missed it. we walked back and could not see the store. we walked again, the whole length, and we could not find it.

we walked, for there were not that many, every street of that side of Whitby and could not find it. then, for one last shot, we went back to the street we originally "knew" it to be on, and we found it. maybe.

the store we were convinced was it was empty. no polishing machine, no jewellery on display, nothing. it looked, without embellishing things with tales of cobwebs, like it had been empty for quite some time. there was little else for the two of us to do but look at each other, look in the bag to check the Jet was there (it was) and simply accept either we were greatly mistaken or something at least peculiar if not special had happened.

which is why, to break things up with some pictures, we may or may not look somewhat spooked in the pictures we took after!

yes, that is indeed my (considerably) better half stood on the famous steps to Whitby Abbey. oh, for more than 256MB of space and i would have taken pictures of her on every step!

otherwise, make what you will of those two stories, or possibly one larger tale i am not connecting. i can only say i have recalled everything as well as i can remember. i assure you, if i were to fabricate something, it would involve a hotel room that has mirrors on the ceiling, some Swedish air hostesses, some lubricant of Scandinavian origin and a few nuns. from my side, i cannot either dismiss or accept anything "supernatural" happened to us in Whitby. we are just happy with our wedding rings. if my ring makes me immortal or something as a consequence of the above tales, well then so much the better.

onwards, then, and for your pleasure, how about a picture of me on the steps? sure, no problem!

you know that green jacket i have on there is not too bad at all, but it is still not as class as the one i had and was required to give up. i appreciate you are all rather looking at the scenery behind me, but i thought i would have a little moan about my lost jacket again once more. i can only hope that it is presently keeping someone warm somewhere.

a picture of Michele at the bottom of the steps, then. or the "base" or "foot" or "ground zero" if you like, i am not really down with this mountaineering business and thus do not know the right term. i did read an interesting article about shifting bodies off of Everest in a recent edition of National Geographic, but alas it made no mention of what the proper term is for the start or bottom of a set of stairs. does that mean that National Geographic is not all that it fancies itself to be? perhaps.

oh yeah, the picture.

as beautiful as my (considerably) better half looks, i would agree that the above picture does not perhaps warrant the pointless "dissing" of National Geographic i did in the introduction to it. but i do have a point, if National Geographic think they are so f****** brilliant then why do they not mention what the bottom, starting point of some steps are in a sort of related article?

never mind, off for a look at the grounds of the Abbey, with Whitby and the North Sea off in the distance.

and, if such a thing should interest you, a look across Whitby itself. not sure why i took this next picture, but it looks rather good to me. i think i may have taken it as i am sure that's the Dracula museum thing sort of in the middle of it.

moving on towards the end of this post and one thing i have noticed in the pictures from our 2002 adventure is a lack of images of myself and my (considerably) better half together. perhaps she simply did not wish to be photographed with me, or perhaps i was reluctant to let anyone else mess about with my state of the art, 256MB sized digital camera.

there are one or two pictures of us together. like, for instance, this super duper fascinating one of us with young Christopher and the young-ish Andrew.

the weird thing is that the boys in this picture were of the same age that our very own William and James are now. i would suggest that we recreate the picture now with the boys, but our visit to Chez Harlo last year revealed that both the couch and the wallpaper you can see are long since gone. at least i think they have different wallpaper, i do not spend time staring at wall as much as you would think.

speaking of Chez Harlo, a lovely picture of our dear Aunt Angela and Uncle Colin. kids - those things in the background are called "video tapes". they were the single best way to watch German porno on and as an added bonus you had to do something called "rewind" them before you could watch.

a magnificent picture of a magnificent couple! looking at them there then and at the pictures of last year, they just do not seem to show signs of getting older. they would probably suggest it is because of their healthy, smoke free lifestyle, but i suspect it is down to some sort of mystical, Dorain Gray like powers. it is not like we were ever invited into their loft to have a gander at any portraits stashed up there.

speaking of lifestyles, in my 2001 post i might have quite accidentally, by means of using considered and deliberate wording, suggested that way back then my cousin Andrew was one of them hooded jacket type glue snowballers, or whatever it is they do. it is probably the right thing to do to reluctantly state that he is not, was not and never has been any such sort of thing.

here is a picture of him from 2002 to confirm that, for he looks nothing like Renton in the below. as a point of fact he has recently claimed to still look like this. that would be bullshit, but far be it from me to point this out to anyone. except just then.

looking at his t-shirt, does the Hard Rock Cafe thing still even exist?

and that's that, so phew! as some might say. many thanks indeed for reading and sharing a memory or two. if the spooky-ish stories of Whitby entertained, well then so much the better!

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