Friday, February 28, 2014

bizarro books

hi there

despite the passing resemblance, accentuated by the pose, the chap here is not Adrian "Eddie" Edmondson. he's a chap called Carlton Mellick III, and i would seem to have read more of his books in the field of "bizarro" than those by any other writer. sort of accidental, sort of because i have liked his thus far. i have noticed, in passing, that a lot of bizarro writers quite like to have "III" at the end of their name. perhaps it's an accident, perhaps it's an indication that they all really liked Rocky III. or both.

i stumbled on the world of bizarro books by accident when looking around for something to read. i have found them to be wildly entertaining and have intended to do a blog post for a while now. however, in one of those "no fate but what we make" incidents, my Mr E-Reader thing decided to crash and factory reset itself through the means of an unsolicited update which it opted to do when i plugged it in to add books. you don't really get factory resets with real books, please note. anyway, this has left me bereft of my bizarro collection for now (i will find them and add again i guess), so this will all be from memory rather than better, recently researched and reminded. sorry.

from what i recall from the intro of one anthology (collection, if you like), a number of writers issued free or low priced short stories and novellas in return for readers who enjoyed them being so kind as to post a review on the likes of amazon. frankly, i am unwilling to do battle with the prolific number of fake and paid for reviews over there, but i am happy to link here to a search for bizarro books on the UK amazon site and indeed the American amazon site for them.

the first one of these bizarro books i read, then, was something called War S*** by this Carlton chap. the title there is edited for the benefit of filters and that which some people on the net of webs face. this book, short story, novella or what you would like to call it in many respects highlights just how awesome and, indeed, class these books can be.

discussing an 80 or so page "story" for ease of terminology reference is tricky as i would not want to give away plot points. in short, it's not as graphic nor as exploitative as the title suggests. it's a superior science fiction work, retaining a high sense of originality despite clearly being inspired by things like The Thing, that one set of enemies that the French one in that Star Trek thing battled with and lost to a degree, and to an extent something like I, Robot or I Am Legend, one of them Will Smith things that were quite good. and i am unsure as to how to comment on the book, novel, novella or whatever it is any more without giving plot points or the story entire away. if those film titles have caused you interest, however, then this is a fairly good start to the world of bizarro books. it was for me!

if you want, and perhaps i should have done this a bit earlier in the post, a bit of a fancy, literary theory interpretation of what this whole bizarro thing is all about, you can wander off to that fancy Wikipedia thing for their interpretation and posh words about it. my own view would be that it's by, and indeed for, people who grew reading that Fangoria magazine, enjoying the weird and wonderful, imaginative and creative horror and science fiction films of the 80s. or people who look back to that time and wish they were there, since similar films and indeed magazines all got dull from the 90s onwards.

back to the books that i have read (that i can remember) and one, in the interests of honesty and being a touch fair, that i did not read all the way through. despite the awesome, amazing title that is Razor Wire P**** Hair, i only managed to get 5 or 6 chapters into this before i gave up.

why did i give up? because i got bored. sorry and my apology to this Carlton chap, but i really didn't get into it at all. the plot, from what i recall, was about some sort of "sex device slave" that could be altered, adapted, changed and modified to the whims and ways wished for by the, for want of a better term, "owner".

the bits of the book i can remember, which i happily confess again to be not as much as i could if you were hoping for a good deal more detail, tended to emphasize the underlying trend of all bizarro books i have read (or tried to read) thus far, which would be that in a sexual and society sense most tend to put women in charge and have all the desire and determination in this regard. whether this is some sort of clever sociopolitical commentary or just that bizarro writers are possibly geeky, nerdy virginal types who believe that in the future the "chicks will lust after them, dude, fully" i leave to you. the truth perhaps lies somewhere in-between. maybe.

moving on then, and one i can most certainly remember reading is, by our chum Carlton once more, the book called The Cannibals Of Candyland. why yes, that is something of a special title. you would be forgiven, if the artists in the world of bizarro books went around seeking instances in which they could give out their forgiveness, for thinking "the whole story is there in the title", as was the case with something like Four Weddings And A Funeral. the book is, however, a little bit more than that. actually, possibly, much more.

this novel is the first, thus far only, one in the genre that i have read which lurches towards being explicitly exploitative or blatantly likely to cause offence, arguably in a deliberate way, when measured against the current norms and standards of most societies in the world where people read. child abduction, child murder, sexual assault and holding people prisoner to torture them are all here, presented as either a possibly accidental social commentary or just as a bizarre background for a really weird, yet oddly compelling, story. make no mistake, this book is far removed from being for everyone's tastes, if you will excuse the play on words with the candy title. or don't excuse it, up to you i guess.

the plot of The Cannibals Of Candyland? well, it was a short-ish book, so again i am reluctant to give too much away. the premise is that a myth or urban legend exists that children have, for years, been abducted and eaten by a hidden group of people who are made entirely out of candy. the story is more or less then somewhat less-than-successful efforts of one chap to prove they exist and stop them.

in my limited (and subject to my wonky memory, apologies on behalf of Mr E-Reader and his update) experience, bizarro books are not what you would expect in as far as they are nowhere near as trashy, explicit, exploitative or close to some form of pornography as one might expect from the titles of the books. they are certainly graphic, which is why i wouldn't write "they are for everyone" because they most certainly are not.

off to a book not by that Carlton chap, then, but one by someone as enthusiastic as Carlton about having "III" at the end of his name. quite an American thing that, even though you would kind of suspect it to be more and English aristocratic thing. although that's nothing to do with the book.

The Brothers Crunk by William Pauley III is, in retrospect, a book that i should not have read. it seems to be part three (or maybe part two) of something called the 'doom magnetic trilogy'. whoops, i didn't notice.

anyway, this one features two cockney brothers who make all sorts of Istanbul inspired foods and sell them off the back of a van to various people in and around the world of Japan, since this is where i think the book is set. why Japan and why are two London (innit) lads there? why is it a post-apocalyptic world? i don't know, that was probably in the first two books. but they do like listening to David  Bowie, so there you go.

i don't, by the way, think that the named author of this novel is the William Pauley III, as in the one whose name is frequently mentioned in association with all that Edward Snowden, wikileaks and whistleblower stuff. if it is in fact the same one, well that would be amazing, man.

it was really a rather enjoyable, strange and odd story. i think i would have really appreciated it a good deal more if i had read all three parts and done so in order. i suspect i will go back and find the rest of it, but to an extent the experience will of course be tampered with.

on that note, is anyone else as fed up, or perhaps just frustrated as i am with trying to find new books to read? i mean, when one consults the sales lists and the books that have reasonable levels of promotion behind them, they all sound really good, right. then you find they are "book seven of the 'xyz' series", or "a Mr Character Name novel" or something like that. i know a few are sold on the premise that "oh you can read them without reading the other novels", but it rarely turns out that this is the case. if one read, for example, that masterpiece that was Inferno by Dan Brown without reading the other books to feature him in it that was played by Tom Hanks in the film, Robert Landgdon i think, it would have surely, strangely, appeared to be even more of a spaz story and novel than it was, which is saying something.

popular series of novels are nothing new, of course, but there was always a range of other, stand alone fiction on the go. this is not the case anymore. i just don't see me going through three or four books just because the forth or fifth looks quite class. i might well be inclined to read a series of books by someone if i had read a stand alone, all contained in one novel book by someone and rather enjoyed it, but i am not committing to a massive series of them just on the off chance that all turn out to be as good as one of them sounds.

back to bizarro, then, dear reader, and the last of the novels that i can clearly remember reading. i probably remember Warrior Wolf Women Of The Wasteland by our friend Carlton once more because, outside of the War Lady of Generous Accommodation one we started off with this is my favourite thus far, mindful of the fact that i have yet to get or read something called Satan Burger.

this book is just ace and amazing, man. it surely tests the patience of the lawyers of McDonalds in the face of "fair use" of publicly recognized products and brands, for the golden arches proprietors carry the blame for much of a wrecked world and the rather strange society created in the quasi-post-apocalyptic world in which the book is set. i kept reading and asking myself "just how exactly has this Carlton chap and his publishers got away with this". perhaps that "Streisand Effect" thing was mentioned and McDonalds simply did not want to draw attention to the book or, and this is rather more likely, perhaps McDonalds simply do not know that this novel exists.

a fair majority of this novel is in fact right there in the title, but oh my word there is so much more to it. i would be delighted to recommend this novel to anyone interested in bizarro, or indeed anyone with a taste for the strange, weird, slightly shocking and above all rather darkly funny things in the world of reading for entertainment.

and those are the books from the world of bizarro that i can recall reading. i might have read one or two other short novels or short stories, but cannot recall the names if that's the case.

on the whole these books do not display any sort of fine, superior crafting of words from language, but by no means are they badly or poorly written. i have, bar the points above, enjoyed what i have read, and shall no doubt be reading more as and when i locate where i downloaded them to and when Mr E-Reader will let me put them on it without threats of one of them factory reset things.

for the moment, however, i have for my reading pleasure this most peculiar book.

well, it isn't all that peculiar i suppose. the book, so far as i have read it, certainly relates to what the title suggests, at the least. my mate Spiros arranged for amazon to send this to me, which was a most kind gesture of him. Spiros has also been encouraging me to head down to wherever he is so a chap called Toni or Julian can cut my hair, just before he takes me off to a Turkish Baths establishment. sounds like it might be a fun weekend.

actually, i am really reading a recent John Grisham novel, one that is, in parts, a sequel to his (if i remember) his first novel. despite the series moan above, that would be two sequels that turned up over 25 years after the original that i have read of late. will there be a blog post about this? certainly, but let me finish the book i am reading first!

hope that this has been of some sort of interest or use to someone!

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

thursday's friday fire

hey there

well, what can i say. it's Thursday, which must mean it is time for the usual, standard, when i can remember to do it Friday fire thing.

you don't wish to read my words, so let me not trouble you with them any further. here you go, a picture of a lovely, lovely fire on the go.

splendid, that is. smashing, as Jim Bowen might even say.

paradoxically, if that's the right word, my old friends Duran Duran, who seem to be throwing a paywall thingie up in the direction of their site, decided to show off this picture for their "throwback Thursday" thing; something not to be confused with their "share it Friday" nonsense.

yes, that's John Taylor, looking all cold and stylish in the snow when he could be sat in one of at least two Limos, one truck thing or a plane. i bet at least one of the Limos was full of groupies, too. the other was probably just for Simon and thus would have been full of seamen.

if for some reason you were, by the way, wondering what happens when you try and do an old school style selfie in a mirror with a flash on, this is my experience of it.

and no, video enthusiasts, i have not forgotten about you. here is the usual, standard video of the friday fire thing for your entertainment. if you can hear music on this, well, as the child of the condiment phoenix will tell you, it is the music of Harry Nilsson.

that, by the way ladies and gentlemen, is Yorkshire wood bought form the Yorkshire Trading Store burning there. none of your fancy, poncy, designer southern muck for me, my friends.

and that's that for now! cheers for reading!

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

dapper dab docking device

hello there

those brave souls amongst you who read this blog on a frequent basis shall, no doubt, recall the trials and tribulations of my efforts in getting my beloved iTwat device to play via a docking station here.

you would be very welcome indeed to flick though the blog entries thus far for 2014, but for those of you who, somewhat understandably, cannot be bothered to recap i purchased a docking station that worked for a bit but then needed you to fiddle with the iTwat to make it work, and then i purchase a casing with an Apple gloryhole on it to see if that would "wedge" it a bit in the docking station.

annoying but manageable, really. except yesterday, right, i was doing some stuff upstairs (putting me threads away, strides and that, if you must know) and listening to the magnificent Excitable Boy album by Warren Zevon. and as i did this i clocked just how much i miss my vibes being on during the day.

motivation enough, then, to go off today for a browse. which is when i found and invested in this.

yep, a second docking station. or a third, really, since my original one is still somewhere on the high seas (i think), battling away against hopelessly lost Somalian pirates and quite possibly sharks with a rather poor sense of direction too.

this one was slightly cheaper than the first (second if you like) one i bought, and had the added benefit of this "DAB" radio i had heard of on it. but that is not what it was purchased for - it was posted to spread the vibes from the iTwat, a convenient device in the absence of a proper stag of a stereo.

does it perform that function? yes it does. as good as sound is possible off of an iTwat, too. and you just hoy the iTwat into the docking station and it does its thing. no fiddling or wedging required.

yes, indeed it is. those with a keen eye will no doubt have spotted that the iTwat is playing the Black & White album by The Stranglers. it is this funny thing i have, really - all new stereo and audio equipment gets tested with the sensational music of The Stranglers. just a habit that has stuck since my first tape deck in my first car.

i am most happy with it. i am also really well and truly impressed with this DAB thing, and this DAB+, whatever that is. i suspect the + part might be that the details of the station and what's playing comes up on the screen. or it might be a reference to the fact that the clever DAB radio picked up on the correct date and time for me, meaning no needless time wasted setting it by me.

when i asked a few friends about this DAB stuff they were rather dislocated about it, really. they mentioned it was all right, but nothing to go out of your way for. methinks my friends have become complacent, really, because it's ace. if you come from an area, like i have, with little in the way of choice on radio and what choices you have are often far from great (like, for instance, a dreadful little talk station i could mention), this DAB is a revelation. rather pleased to have it.

another look at the docking station business, but this time in Commodore 64 mode with scan lines on? sure, why not.

whilst i was messing about taking these Commodore 64 mode pictures off the iTwat, battling with the new "brilliant iOS system update", i noticed that i had taken some other pictures with it that i had not, as of yet and for no reason, shared with the world.

if for some reason you were wondering what my sister-in-law Tasha looks like on Skype via the magic of Commodore 64 mode with scan lines on, here you go!

i think she mentioned something in passing about either not taking this picture or not uploading it anywhere. can't remember which one, so i am pretty sure it is OK to put it here.

anyway, dapper dab docking device. if for some reason you look towards me for consumer device advice, well it was just shy of thirty notes and i picked it up at a store called, and i think i have the spelling right, B & M. for some reason a DAB thingie on its own was the same price as this with Mr Dock for Mr iTwat, which seems strange, but there you go.

to keep the momentum going on the consumer device advice thing, there's also a USB port on the back of it. for some reason, however, it was one of them "mini" USB ports, meaning that i don't think one could shove a traditional memory stick in to it. i shall have to consult the book for the purpose of it, but it's not like it is getting used any time soon anyhow.

for those of you hoping for a close up of the display on the new docking device, and a close up taken in Commodore 64 mode with scan lines on, well, you are in for a treat with this next picture, aren't you just.

and what is to be the fate of the other docking station? well, we do not have a vibes machine as such downstairs, so now downstairs it is. i can fiddle with the iTwat down here with it a bit and get it to play ok, meaning i can enjoy the vibes as i wish around the house.

i suppose with this being all 21st century and that i should "stream" around the house, but i just cannot be bothered with that sort of nonsense. i really, really like buttons.

here i am, then, with the initial docking station doing its thing.

at that time i was listening to the magnificent Nilsson Schmilsson album by, as you will no doubt be all too aware, Harry Nilsson. and then, to appease my (considerably) better half, that new, or at least most recent, album by that Pearl Jam lot. Lightning something. quite a good album it is, it is just not Harry. or Warren. or The Stranglers.

and that, i imagine, is all you would at best want to know of my new dock thing! 

with some good fortune more stuff of some interest soon!

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

five o'clock friday fire time

hello there

well, it's Sunday (as far as i can see), which means it is time for the usual Friday Fire share it thingie, a response to Duran Duran's sharing stuff on facebook (see previous posts).

this week saw Duran Duran post one of them arty-farty black and white type pictures of them, featuring all five original members of the band, with upwards of 40% of them playing pocket billiards as the picture was taken.

no such muck or art here, ladies and gents, just a heat generating fire for your viewing pleasure.

that is indeed, you may have noted, a different angle from usual. i thought i would make it a touch more relaxed and refined for you, lest anyone get bored with me posting images of fire here.

for those of you who quite like the more face on, ferocious fire, no of course i have not forgotten about you. not at all, here you go.

yes, look at it blaze. i did think, for a moment, that the blueberry phone might have melted as i took that one. so i trust that you appreciated the slight lack of sacrifice, since it did not melt.

now then. when Duran Duran want to show you a video they just bung a link to the first thing they find on youtube that might have something to do with them. i take a different approach, as regular readers will be aware.

here is a video for you, on this very site and of relevance to fire.

some of you, i appreciate, like the fact that i risk melting my phone to get these pictures and videos. some of you, i appreciate, think that i should be more concerned with safety around fire.

for you, then, here is a picture of the fire, surrounded as far as it can be by the fire guard.

and that's your lot for this Friday fire share thing. indeed, that is your lot for blog posts today - three this fine Sunday, i believe, more than i have been managing in a week!

hope you have enjoyed!

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

class Euro 2016 draw

hello there

this is the kind of blog post that tends to get thousands of hits for this humble blog of mine, so for the novelty factor, here you go.

the Euro 2016 qualifying draw, to be held in France thanks to a very interesting interpretation of what is a free and fair vote, was held today. well, held today if you are reading this on the Sunday that it all happened, or if you like kicked off.

the full draw, to save you reading much of my nonsense if you would care to avoid it. is :

Group A: Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan
Group B: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra
Group C: Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, Luxembourg
Group D: Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar
Group E: England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino
Group F: Greece, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands
Group G: Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein
Group H: Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta
Group I: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania

who qualifies for the new size 24 team tournament? the top two from each group, plus the best overall 3rd place team, and then four out of the other 8 3rd placed teams after a home and away thing.

France, who do not need to qualify due to a demonstration of democracy by Michel "money" Platini. France and Turkey were tied in the voting you see, so the French Platini illustrated the unbiased and honest approach you would expect of the UEFA President by conjuring up a deciding vote and awarding it to France. boy, he will be mega as FIFA President one day. France will, however, play "friendlies" against all them sensational sides in Group I, from which Portugal and Denmark will qualify automatically and Serbia will go through in that best 3rd place side overall slot.

a picture of the draw as it goes for England? whyever not, thanks to some chap from Sunderland who "upped" it to the net, and indeed with the greatest of thanks to Sky for showing it in the first place

England's draw is, as you hardly need me to tell you, very exciting and loaded with amazing, brilliant games. but i will illustrate a bit for you, since you are reading.

the highlight, without any shadow of anything even like doubt, is of course England vs Slovenia. Slovenia, the well known footballing powerhouse, will be looking for revenge and a return to respectability. Slovenia disgraced themselves, and indeed all the surrounding nations in their bit of Europe, by being the only team bad enough to actually lose to England in the 2010 World Cup.

otherwise England vs Switzerland throws up all sorts of exciting prospects. should Chelsea have any English players left by this time and any of them make it into the national side, the "big club" fans of Chelsea will delight in returning there to see if they can torment and intimidate another Swiss referee into retirement. the match, however, mostly represents a conflict of interest for Roy Hodgson.

Roy, you see, once managed the Swiss. he took the Swiss to World Cup 1994, that one that England skipped via having Graham Taylor as manager. the Swiss, so far as i know, didn't describe Roy as "wanker" or "Blackburn reject" during his time with them. possibly, in fairness, because he had not managed Blackburn by that stage.

otherwise, it's just ace that we, England, get to play San Marino again. one of the two goals San Marino have scored in their existence came against England - an English side that fielded no less a class player that Stuart Ripley - so they will no doubt be hoping to repeat the trick.

more comments, but first a picture of "Money" Platini; a picture in which he looks in no way like a total bellend and one in which he is not suggesting how if he had an actual penis on his forehead what size, roughly, it would be.

some of the most exciting games will, of course, be in Group D. before you all rush to print your "SFA" t-shirts again, don't be so sure they will fail to qualify. after all by this stage Scotland should be well on their way to being a proud Republic, independently having the Queen of the United Kingdom as their unelected Head of State and spending either English Pounds, reasonably stable Euros or some pebbles to keep the economy ticking over.

to this end, Scotland vs Gibraltar is all the more exciting. Gibraltar are not so much a nation seeking independence as they are a nation looking forward to some sort of war one day kicking off between England and Spain over who owns it. a war which, no doubt, will see fishermen arm themselves and the French surrender as soon as possible. when Scotland land and tell them stories of how they are going to be independent, following the dream of a semi-alcoholic, American born Australian sheep enthusiast, a whole new dynamic could be brought to bear.

i could go on, but i won't. bored? maybe. but it is more to do with me having no interest in looking for other pictures right now and also how we all have to hold on a bit. the Euro 2016 qualifiers will only start after England have humiliated and embarrassed themselves at the World Cup in Brazil this year.

as for Euro 2016 itself, already it is nothing short of a triumph. the 24 nation version is brilliant as it shows to football federations, advertisers and tv people that Michel "Money" Platini, despite his humble approach, is in fact all about milking as much money as he possibly can out of anything he happens to be President of and thus is perfect advertising for him to become President of FIFA one day. and what a great day that will be, for it will be the start of people actually missing Sepp "Bellend" Blatter.

enjoy the football!

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

back to birthday

hello there

righty-ho, time for me to go backwards a bit. a return to those halcyon days earlier this week when i had that class beard, and indeed when i had a birthday to mark. i write not to say "oh wow, look, i had a birthday, that makes me special, or specialier than you", for of course all life is special and surely everyone has a birthday to celebrate, whether they opt to or not.

i was reminded to post pics and stories by two, really - the child of the condiment phoenix mentioning that they would very much like to see them, and Payney at the match congratulating me on my birthday, although when he did it had slipped my mind that this event had passed. so many thanks to those two for the reminder; thanks from me and from those eager to see this!

to say that the weather was kind for my date of birth is to presume that the weather pays attention to what people of earth want. actually, that's all going off in a poncy, pretentious direction, isn't it, so let me say that as it was a lovely, beautiful day we decided to head off to what my (considerably) better half tells me is where i wanted to go for my birthday, Whitby.

this, adding some value to this blog post for those who have not been to the fine port, town or just amazing place that is Whitby for some time, is the new war memorial located there. it was unveiled, if i recall right, in 2012. a nice as place as any to get a picture of my dear family with vast swathes of Whitby in the background then!

i think the above picture also shows of sufficient of the sky to illustrate that it was indeed a lovely, why magnificent, day to be out and about!

walking on from there James spotted a narrow alley. now that i have written that i am not convinced there's such a thing as a wide alley or, for that matter, a standard measurement for what one would term a normal sized alley. anyway, it allowed me to have a go at taking one of them "arty" types of picture.

i remember that one album cover for a record by the Rolling Stones, before they became the Rolling $tone$, featured them in an alley (size to be determined). off the top of my head i think it might well have been December's Children (And Everybody's), but i could be mistaken. the Stones version features a good deal more visible Charlie Watts than my picture, if such things count, and was in black and white. i do, however, quite like the one i have taken there.

it is unlikely that the Stones, when they did a picture in an alley, did so in Whitby. it was probably somewhere down in London (innit), that place where "honest" John Terry who recently took full responsibility, credit and bonus payments for a goal despite not touching the ball at all. how very out of character.

now that i think of it, that Robert Palmer, him who used to dress like a lower division football manager, did a song about alleys, didn't he? Sneaking Sally Through The Alley, wasn't it? i must have a listen, see if Mr Palmer shared through lyrical rhyme what he believes to be the correct measurement of what does and does not constitute an alley. unless he was off on some sort of sexual reference, of course.

on we went then, for a spot of lunch. this blog is neither, so far as i am aware, facebook or twitter, so i shall not be sharing a picture of lunch itself. i can share, however, that we had some excellent fish and chips as we sat on the pier. a perfect excuse to get some further pictures of the boys, then.

that is indeed, you of astute observation skills, a chunk of battered and fried cod that William is clutching. he does like his food a fair bit, and does for some reason like walking about as he eats.

William was kind and gracious enough to stop eating it when i took the picture above, as you can see, and in the picture below, as you will see when you stop reading this sentence.

a highlight for the boys, arguably the main reason they went so willingly and with celebratory enthusiasm to Whitby, was a visit to the several lavish, luxury amusement arcades on offer. well, three i think, although it might be just the two and i thought one of them was split into two.

their great-grandma had given them each a bag of 2p coins and it was with, to my surprise, enthusiasm that they took to those "coin drop" games, cascades or waterfalls or whatever the proper name is for them. the one where you ostensibly drop a coin in and it theoretically pushes other coins down a level to presumably push further coins down and out for you to win.

both boys displayed a rather deft knack and skill for this, winning many coins and a number of prizes that were sat on top of the bottom level of coins. nice one, chaps!

it was not all high stakes gambling, however. the boys really liked this racing track and bombed around it a fair few times!

well, mostly went around it. William's sense of steering is not all that it could be, and the chap who was the manager of the establishment was most polite in expressing the view that these cars and bikes were not in fact "dodgem" ones and requested that they both please stop bashing each other and everything else. the boys, mostly, agreed with this expressed request of a wish.

after that we went for a stroll around the fine place of Whitby, stopping off at selected shops. particularly, i observed, ones that sold toys and sweets. great grandma had given the boys further pocket money to get treats at Whitby, money that the boys through the medium of the magic of daddy's wallet they managed to at least treble to secure what they wished for.

we also of course, at the behest of William, stopped off at an element of beach for a walk around and to try to skim stones into the water.

this is not, of course, the fanciest strip of beach on offer in Whitby. that is the bit over on the other side, where we did not walk on account of a lack of sweet shops, arcades and toy shops in that direction. perhaps one day we will walk in that direction, though. i would certainly hope so, at least.

time doesn't exist you know. hours, minutes, seconds and all that are man made inventions, simplistic terms of reference in which all seem to believe to make efforts in the world easier. well, when i say all, not Peter Fonda. there was that class bit in Easy Rider when he threw his watch away. there is not, nor shall there ever be, a scientific proof of time existing. this is particularly interesting when you get one of them lippy, obnoxious and immensely, intensely shallow sort of atheists. you know the kind, the one that just can't get on with it. the sort that have to show how clever they are because someone posted a Richard Dawkins thing on their facebook once. the kind that go around saying that those who believe in any religion are lesser, indeed "stupid", because they choose to believe in something that science cannot prove exists. if you get one, ask them the time. if they answer with a gesture of hours and minutes "passed", you are welcome to instantly mock them for believing in something that science cannot prove exists. calling them a double standard bearing, idiotic, charlatan bullsh!t artists is entirely at your own discretion.

we had to encourage the boys to stop throwing stones, or bricks in the case of William, into the water as a vessel of the seas went by. it was unlikely, of course, that they would have either hit this majestic vessel or caused waves to a variation that would have affected the travels of it thereof, but you never know. butterfly effect and chaos theory and all that.

did we go along to the famous steps, of a number that escapes me for the moment, to the Abbey? yes we did. we did not, however, much to the disappointment of James, head up them. we had simply run out of, ha ha, time, in accordance with the amount of parking one is allowed to do with a car in Whitby. four hours, that's all they allow you to do.

we then just had a quick sit down at them, taking a brief picture and then heading back, homeward bound as it were.

of all the questions you have of our time in Whitby i would suggest that "did i get some kippers for Gramps" would be the most frequent one and the one you would most like me to answer. that answer is yes, of course, i did, but i did not take a picture of them. i instead walked down to him and Gran to deliver them. Gramps assures me that they were lovely, with most of the skin and all of the bones gone, and that he really enjoyed them. i got them at the Magpie, if such information is of use to anyone, and no doubt i shall be heading back at some stage to get him some more.

before heading off for yet more birthday celebrations we had the delight and pleasure of Aunty Susan calling in to visit. Susan had earlier in the day "arranged" for a birthday card to be put through our letterbox. she had wisely, however, decided that putting a magnificent cake that she had baked through the letterbox would not work in any traditional sense of maintaining the integrity of the cake.

and what a magnificent, beautiful cake it was too! i say was because we have, of course, eaten it all now. to heck and back with you, diet that i am not on.

yes, that is indeed me, back in those days of when i had the beard, stood with Aunty Susan. there is indeed a lack of pictures of me on my birthday here, you are right. sorry for that, i was too busy taking the pictures and even busier just having a good day. great day, really. i am not someone who demands that pictures be taken of myself on a frequent basis, not with my deft skills in the ways of the selfie.

i mentioned cards and letterbox, did i not. here are some, but certainly not all, of the ones i got. a few were hand delivered or passed on, but a number also came via the miracle of a postal system, one between countries where post is not delayed or destroyed via strikes, or simply stolen. i like very much living in a place with a safe, honest, reliable postal system.

the saucy, provocative "sex sheep" one was indeed from Gillian over in New Zealand, but you just know that Grant picked that one and was probably very reluctant to give it away.

after that detour, created mostly by the order in which blogger has taken a shine to uploading pictures, back to the magnificent cake from Aunty Susan. and indeed, ladies and gentlemen, the discovery of a very interesting trend here at home in England. that trend would be to beautify cakes and selected confectioneries with pyrotechnic things, mostly fireworks.

yes, that's some sparklers there, going off in flames and, erm, sparkles, giving it loads in that direction. ace that is, that people here, with their smoke detectors and fire alarms in their homes almost as if it were some sort of default by low, now feel they have the freedom and security to let off flammable and combustible devices in the comfort of their own home, so long as they are attached to a caked or other, similar baked product. i like it, a lot.

for those of you wishing to see the cake with just conventional candles on the go and not the fire of the flames of a firework or two, this picture is then for you.

paradoxically, on the other side of the magic mirror, there are probably some people who do not care for cake at all, even the magnificent ones made by my Aunty Susan, but do get all excited and hot under the collar about seeing exhausted, or if you will spent, pyrotechnic based fireworks. well, maybe not all that excited, but they do like seeing them.

i could not profess to understand such an interest in that kind of firework, to be honest, but far be it for me, as far away as you like, to not share an image or two of fireworks in such a, frankly, done state.

yes, that is indeed another picture of me here for you to see. sorry about that. also sorry for the one picture here of me holding up the numbers the wrong way around; i have no interest in battling with blogger to find the correct one and load it instead so this one will, i feel, do.

James, for some reason, found the idea of holding used firework things for the benefit of a picture to be quite a class thing. i was happy to agree to let him have a try at such a picture.

returning, as it were, to our trip to Whitby and yeah, why not show off a picture of my (considerably) better half showing off some of the items purchased that underline, apparently, why i like Whitby so much. yes, the Dracula connection.

what a happy accident that my (considerably) better half really, really likes Dracula, and is on hand to remind me that i like it/him too.

Whitby is of course strongly associated with Dracula, on account of the Bram Stoker novel. the celebrated film version of the book by Francis Ford Coppola, featuring Gary "Gaz" Oldman in the title or if you like titular role, skipped and bypassed the Whitby segments of the novel, instead just moving everything to London (innit). this is a shame, as i know of quite a few who would get excited about Gaz in Whitby. excited to the levels of, say, me, when someone remixed the theme to the original Battlestar Galactica with InterGalactic by the Beastie Boys. which was very.

never mind, Coppola made his vision of Dracula after he had announced his effective retirement from the world of cinema by releasing Godfather Part III, also known as Godfather The Lesser, a film in which he proudly urinated all over the legacy of the two original, superior films via the unusual channel of Andy Garcia and George Hamilton.

oh yeah, here is a picture i took on a day that was not my birthday, but for some reason felt the need to share here.

i am intrigued by the complexities of this, really. at one level it goes for a high level of sophistication and class, insisting on referring to humble porridge as "oats". on another, though, it seeks to undermine the intelligence of those that would refer to porridge by a posh word like oats by asking them, in an unapologetic way, if they consider their oats/porridge to be far too simple for their consumption. the fix, it seems, to make them operate on a higher level of intelligence is to bung crunchy things into them, like nuts, granola, muesli or whatever it is they are trying to sell.

crunchy things make stuff less simple, then. i don't know, i like shiny things.

onwards, at last as it were, to the other birthday celebrations that i was kind and fortunate to receive, so it is with delight that i say it was onwards to House Harlo.

these pictures have all been loaded wildly out of order (as in the wrong way around, not in the dissenting behaviour way that one would associate with that phrase if you are a cockney or EastEnders enthusiast), so i can only ask that you please bear with me and do not stop bearing with me, ever.

so first, then, a picture from towards the end of the evening, in which we see Colin and Angela showing William some fine family pictures that William took quite a shine to.

William does get fascinated with pictures and portraits of people. well, William gets fascinated with everything, really, which is excellent.

soon i will be taking a stroll to the village to buy, amongst other things, the newspaper. i will with some enthusiasm read the match report on Middlesbrough vs Leeds. if i see any reference at all to Boro being "unlucky", i shall correspond with the journalist, either through a letter or that twitter thing, to tell them the word they meant to use was "incompetent" and then use the page on which the match report features to start a rather nice fire for the evening.

meanwhile, my Uncle Colin has one of them iPad things, and tends to veer well away from the world of iTwat by actually using the product instead of just waving it around and saying "hey, look what i have". although it does get waved around a bit when being used to play some rather class games. that's the case here, as James and my (considerably) better half show it off by playing some sort of guessing game.

methinks we will have to get one of them things for the boys at some point. they are somewhat expensive, sure, but when actually used properly, they are almost worth the hourly update, or if you like iupdate, the machines seem to require and insist on.

onwards it was, then, to the traditional running of the plastic horses, a key part of any notable birthday celebrations. the trick, of course, is that the horses do not actually run on the track. it is very much like one of them Koobayashi like tests (there you go, Trekkies, i have not forgotten you), favoured in part by all them class managerial courses, in which the result is evaluated on the basis of what you did as part of a challenge that could not generate success rather than overall success. fail to plan / plan to fail and all that sort of thing.

the whole thing did look magnificent, however. and if we don't get it to work at some stage we are all agreed that we will just send it to a certain gent in New Zealand who will love it when he is not out dogging.

before the traditional running of the plastic horses we had a most magnificent tea, and indeed more magnificent cake. a cake which, once again, paid tribute to the god of fire and the god of firework.

here you can see Uncle Trevor, who arrived fashionably late and left superstar like early, sat with James, watching with generous levels of amazement and awe as Angela ignited the altar to the previously mentioned gods.

was there more pyrotechnic like stuff on the go on this cake? oh my word, yes there was, believe me. you can see shortly too, but again blogger has messed a bit with how these pictures are appearing here, so first an image for the technical and engineering enthusiasts who no doubt flock to this site for technical and engineering sort of things.

one of the candles, or rather the candle holder as such, pedantic types, featured a base that performed the song "Happy Birthday" in an unspecified key, but all the same in an unmistakable, unforgettable, techno-electronica-jazz-funk style. it played it so well, in fact, that it seemed all too self-aware that it played the song well and refused all efforts to shut it down.

a few of us had a go before handing it over to the resident technical and engineering expert, which of course would be Uncle Colin.

stopping the candle base making the music, and thus averting a time-space continuum incident which would see a naked Austrian appear and knack anyone called Sarah, proved very easy and straightforward for Colin, since he worked out what all the buttons on the back did in a way far better than we could.

so simple and easy was it for Colin, as point of fact, that he even located the button that switched it on to let it do its thing with the intention of, with ease, switching it off again. the second attempt to switch it off did not, alas, go as well as the first, and thus to the best of my knowledge the device remains in a state in which it performs the song, safely shut away in one of the many drawers one can find in House Harlo.

but you do not want to know of this. you want to know if the gods of pyrotechnic stuff were pleased and indeed appeased with the offering made to them. the answer, looking at this next picture, would be yes. well it should be yes, if they are not pleased with this then they are impossible to please.

yes, look at that. an amazing fountain of fire jettisoning out of the centre of the cake. ace, that was, and i really loved it - thank you! James loved it too, as you can see there in the background!

i would not wish an accusation of playing favourites to be levelled against my Aunty Angela - in fact anyone doing so will get a slap off of me and others - but i did notice that she suggested everyone step back a bit, retiring to a safe distance before this offering were launched. everyone, that is, except moi, your unassuming, humble narrator, someone who Angela suggested get as close as possible to the offering. i take it as this was done with the intention of ensuring i derived maximum, closest enjoyment and appreciation of it (which i did), whilst also playing on the inevitable variable that, at times, i am always the one most inclined to experience damage from such things, so if i did it in a planned way i would thus avoid the unplanned nature of it happening.

i was, however, unharmed. i was also thrilled and delighted with it! so many thanks!

for a behind the scenes, sort of prequel to that, here is Angela lighting it all, and also Colin getting ready to film it, on the off chance it did damage me and thus he could show a video to the attending medical staff of what happened. with him obviously not in the shot or video, strengthening a cause of plausible deniable responsibility should the constabulary want to know more of this business of letting fireworks off in a house.

on that note, has this thing of setting off fireworks in houses come about in England just because that class footballer did it? Mario was/is his name, no? that lad with the class hair that was at Manchester City for a bit? if the legacy he left when he, sadly, left English football, then that makes doing this all the more better, and i will be off to get some fireworks to light in the house daily.

almost done with this lengthy blog post, you may be pleased or saddened to read. just one more picture for you - James, assisted by William, decided to make a special birthday message for me. it was and is lovely, and made me smile. it also helped the House Harlo residents get rid of a surplus of paper!

i am uncertain that House Harlo were bothered by a surplus of paper, but i dare say none would have argued with this amazing, brilliant gesture! yes, i have kept all the paper!

and with that, dear reader, just about time for me to head off towards the shop to get the newspaper i mentioned.

my deepest thanks to all who sent on messages for my birthday. it does not and will not cease to amaze me that so many out there think so well and so kindly of me. i can only hope, trust and express the wish that you all had excellent days too, always.

many thanks for reading, or at the least skipping past my nonsense and looking at the pictures.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014


hello again

further today, with apologies to those wishing for a look back at some birthday things!

William is, frankly, far too young to expose to the theatrics of Middlesbrough Football Club. his mind is far to inquisitive, too, and i would have absolutely no answer for him as to why it would be wise to spend money on watching them not score instead of investing the coins in some class Ben 10 or Turtles, of the Mutated Ninja-like Teenage variety, toys instead.  

his mummy, my (considerably) better half, is just plain far too wise to fall for that "come to the match, we will win, honest" line. she is quite clever and that, really, which makes it all the more surprising that she married who she did.

the two of them, then, waved James and i off. they instead stayed at home and constructed this 

oh yes, it is what you think. it is a monster, carved from the finest green and purple mirror paper known to man, beautified with partially glittered pom poms. it's excellent that is.

the wobbly, googly eye things are also a nice touch!

it seems that the two of them had as much fun as we did, only they didn't spend 90 or so minutes watching people not score goals, instead just checking for updates every now and then.

other people dear to me also did things that did not involve throwing money at Middlesbrough in the hope that they had clocked what this football business is all about. my mate Jonathan, for instance, took and sent me a picture from Belgium. or Berlin. or wherever it is he lives these days, somewhere that i am almost certain begins with a B. or has a "b" in it somewhere. probably.

nice one mate, i very much look forward to going there with you one fine day!

right, my back is really sore! enough for now, more later, rather than earlier.

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

another match

hello there

well, that was interesting. off, on account of my dear mate Payney getting tickets at a reasonable price, James and i went to once again bear witness to Middlesbrough Football Club have a go at this playing football business. against Leeds United, no less. you will, no doubt, be all too aware of the result by the time you read this, but mention shall be made later.

the match kicked off, so to speak, a good deal earlier than usual - 12:15pm instead of the traditional 3pm. this was mostly for the benefit of the cameras of Sky, who were broadcasting the match to a no doubt enthralled United Kingdom and quite possibly around the world too. partially, though, i would imagine that the constabulary "encouraged" an earlier kick off for this match, lest a few too many fans got tanked up in the pub and had some fisticuffs later.

we went off to catch an early bus to town, then, since faffing with a car in town on matchdays is not all that wise. getting a bus was quite a tactically challenge, to be honest, but in the mean time here's a picture of James waiting for a bus, hoping i had worked out the new timetable correctly.

the people who do the buses and that, you see, have had a brilliant idea. they have cut down the buses from where we live to town to one an hour instead of one every half-hour. they have also issued a bewildering, difficult to interpret timetable (which me with my two degrees has struggled with) as well as a new route, going well away from where people might want to go to stop at places where no one seems to either get on or get off the bus.

if they don't want us going into town then they should just say so, really. this confusing us into just giving up on the buses is not nice, and many people rely on it. as things stand with the new timetable, well, if i have read it correctly, we can no longer get the bus home after a regular kick-off time match, so that's probably us not going - not if it means messing with the car and the inevitable traffic.

hey ho, the bus turned up at more or less a time that looked a bit like what was suggested in one element of the timetable, so we were on our way!

James, much like i, really enjoys the bus ride, so it is a shame they are trying to take it away. commerce, i suppose, although why the bus companies think having less buses equals more money would beyond my basic, rudimentary understanding of economics. perhaps they saw Jerry Maguire and thought that the "less is more" approach would get some nice big black dude shouting "show me the money" at them.

a bonus on the bus, for a reasonable percentage of the journey, was the presence of what one would call a "racist Nan" sat behind us. she regaled the stranger she sat next to, and us as a consequence, with her thoughts on Bulgarians (or "whatever they are") getting new kitchens and a "Paki" shop that rips her off and never has what she needs for baking in stock. there are some rather easy solutions to her plight, but far be it from me to trouble her with them.

in town, then, and we met up with Payney and his lads and made our way to the hallowed turf of the Riverside Stadium. as an absolute bonus, we arrived at the same time as a team bus did.

however, it was full of Leeds United players, so they boys lost interest and walked off.

we needed to wait for a few people to come and get tickets off, as James insists he should be called and he quite likes it so there you go, Payney. the perfect time to grab a few pictures, then!

here is James with the one he calls Payney, very much in endearment, as he likes him a lot. well, we all do. who doesn't?

is there a picture of me and Payney together? no, sadly. why not? medical reasons. we have this one friend, who we agreed not to reveal the name of, who would have an unfortunate reaction if he saw the picture. i mean, if me and Payney took a picture together and shared it with the world, Alex Brown would probably have such an erection that he would hemorrhage or something. it may well even set off his scurvy again. so it's best that we do not.

but there are, obviously, no problems at all showing off a picture of James, Elijah and Archie, all very keen and excited to get in the ground and watch the match!

well, they were sort of excited to be in the ground. they were also enjoying playing "tag" outside the stadium too, so there you go.

into the ground we went, then, and if for some reason you wished to see a picture of me in amongst all of this, James and i did have a go at one of them selfie things. actually several goes, as i kept pressing the wrong button, but here's just about the best of them. as in, this is probably as good as it gets for how i look!

if it looks like a nice, sunny day that is probably because it was a nice, sunny day. warm, you ask? not at all, dear reader, not at all. a ferocious, bitter cold wind drifted across the stadium from the Tees the whole match. James was in about 4 layers of clothes, and i was not, which led to James asked me why i was shaking and shivering so much!

perhaps if i had done some sort of warm ups or something before sitting down i may have been warmer. i mention that idea purely to link in to the next picture, showing the Boro team "warming up" as it were. one must be prepared, after all, if they are going to score absolutely no goals all afternoon.

not long after the above picture was taken we had the distinct and great pleasure of seeing one of the greats of the game. Jack Charlton, the World Cup winning, former Leeds player and former Middlesbrough manager, was guest of honour.

the Americans are welcome to their tales of that Chuck Norris bloke and all his invincible skills. we have Jack Charlton, thanks. he doesn't need to exert energy like Chuck does to impress. if you displease him, he just gives you a look that tells you to just basically punch yourself in the face and do not stop punching yourself in the face until Jack appears satisfied that you understand that you have displeased him. you can google all you want, you will never find a trace of those who did not obey with Jack's look.

i am not sure if my mate Fraser reads this blog at all. i kind of hope he does, really, as this video i took and uploaded here was done mostly with him in mind. anyone else interested is, of course, very welcome to watch it. although not many people that i know of get quite as emotionally involved or all worked up as Fraser does when the subject of Jonathan Woodgate crops up.

yep, that was four or so seconds of Jonathan "Woody" Woodgate warming up. if there is any cheering on the soundtrack for the video it was to do with the announcement of Jack Charlton being at the ground and nothing to do with "Woody" showing off his skill and prowess with hitting a ball on his somewhat surprisingly undamaged knee.

sadly i was a bit too far away and a bit too only had my blueberry phone on me in respect of the next picture. but it was a magnificent gesture that i tried to get an image of and here is that image.

that's the Red Faction corner, the ultra-loyalist Boro fans, holding up flags of the starting 11, in formation of the team that won Boro the league cup nearly 10 years ago. a reminder of hedonistic, brilliant times - many thanks again to Southgate and Strachan for ensuring the club will take another generation or two before we see the likes of that success again.

yes, they are watering the pitch. they were watering it when we arrived, and were watering it mere seconds before kick off. why? certainly not because of the tropical heat up here in our corner of the world, believe me. watering down a football pitch is usually one of them tricks you do when you don't want a faster, flair-loaded team running wild on the day. that Boro were so paranoid about the Leeds attack and pace tells you much of just how well my team is doing at the moment.

but anyway, another picture of James, possibly with Payney lurking in it? sure, why not!

we had some interesting commentary from behind us during the match. not quite along the lines of "racist nan" on the bus, i must say, but from gents of a similar age all the same. it was wonderful hearing well thought out criticism like "i don't know what his name is but i think he is probably rubbish whenever he plays", to be followed by "ayes" of approval of the review. hey ho, if you are going to knock someone, at least know their name.

although in fairness it was not like Boro were all that impressive. i think it now must be close to 10 (ten) match hours (!) since Boro last scored a goal. in this game there was no excuse for them not scoring, really. some of the misses - and i believe we had eight shots "on target" - looked far more difficult to engineer than simply scoring would have been.

Leeds were, frankly, there for the taking. for some reason they looked exceptionally nervy, making mistakes all over the field. we kept the ball, won it with ease of Leeds and got forward frequently, but for some reason just couldn't bury it in the back of the net. frustrating to watch, frankly.

well, when i say we won the ball "with ease" off of Leeds, they were of course prone to being the dirty bastards they have a proud record of being. there was a claw to the face here, an elbow in the back there and of course a right royal hack festival when they couldn't get the ball. only one yellow card, of course, as it "was only Boro" they were doing this against. hey ho, it's not meant to be an entirely non-contact sport, and nor is it meant to be played by pansies. well, not only pansies.

the match was, strangely, entertaining when it should not be. there is such a thing as a good, entertaining, well contested 0-0 draw, but this was not one. Boro were so dominant we should have won this one at least 2-0, or perhaps 2-1 with the greatest respect to the one or two swift counter attacks Leeds had. evidently they had not watered down the pitch quite enough to stop that.

at an attendance figure of around 20,200 the ground was fuller than it has been for a while - i think that's about 5,000 more than was at the FA Cup game we went to earlier this year. applause to the Leeds fans, too, who brought about 3,000 of that number. and despite their reputation of sometimes being a bit physical with expressing their sentiments, it was 3,000 very decent fans too. i had a chat with one or two outside the ground, they were all hoping for a good game, just like us, and just like none of us, in truth, did not really get.

still, what the game lacked in goals it more than made up for in songs about Jimmy Savile from both sets of fans. the lyrics are, alas, something i suspect that from a legal sense i cannot repeat here.

i think the above picture was one i took of a balloon that floated around the ground and eventually ended up in the back of the net. an unexpected and exciting thing to have seen, that. didn't inspire the players to "balloon the ball", but maybe next time. although, having now stumped up close to sixty notes on tickets alone and having been treated to 3 (three) hours of no scoring, i shall not rush to be back at the ground, sadly.

oh yeah, here's a linesman bravely signalling for a free kick, throw in or goal kick for Leeds before the ball has even gone out of play. it was this linesman's special move, that, just awarding everything to Leeds whenever he could see the ball. the Boro fans were enthralled by this and treated him to a rather moving serenade, expressing their passion about him doing this.

and that's that for match pictures. if i recall the signs right you are not supposed to be taking pictures in the ground except for "personal use". as this blog is not really for commercial things, although feel free to throw either money, a job or both at me, i suspect i am not transgressing this rule all that much. by a couple of toes, at best.

anyway, if they don't like it, that's fine. the new bus thing makes going to games all but impossible as mentioned above, and i don't particularly like throwing money at the club to watch a side throw away chance after chance to score.

at the end of the match there was not too much of the boos and jibes you would expect after such a match. instead there was applause and thanks for Shay Given, a gent and a great of the game, who has been at Boro on loan for a few months. this was the last time he would appear for us now that the loan spell has ended, he is returning back to Aston Villa or wherever it is he usually plays.

with Given no longer in goal for us, there is every chance that Boro fans at the next game will see a goal or two, but perhaps not goals scored quite as much by Boro as they might have hoped.

hey ho, here's the best that my blueberry phone could do with zooming in on the players after the match, with one or two of them presumably being interviewed by Sky.

i wonder if the Sky people asked the Boro players why didn't they rather just score instead of belting the ball into the stands. i suspect they take a rather more subtle and respectful approach with the line of questions.

anyway, after that, it was time to bid farewell until the next time to Payney and his lads. we then made our way to town to do a bit of shopping, as was promised to James, and indeed, as he wanted to, off to Burger King for a late lunch / early tea.

and then, with some deft decrypting of the complexities of the new style bus timetable, it was back on to a bus and back on our way home!

the game was disappointing, of course, but the day out was brilliant, amazing and just a general, all around example of excellence. perhaps, depending on what they do next to the buses (and i do not rule out them cutting it down to one a day at some point. buses should note that they always have a train tapping on their shoulder), we should actually just go for a wander and mooch around town without troubling the turnstiles of the Riverside. that would at least be a thirty note saving and would also mean a vast reduction in not seeing goals scored.

oh go on then, on the off chance that my mate Fraser is reading, a look at Woodgate in the match programme.

yes, that is me hiding behind it.

as i am getting on it years (yes, birthday pics post to come here eventually), i have a rather bad back and am somewhat sort of knackered from today's adventures. i am off, then, to have a nice sit down that does not involve typing much of anything!

cheers, as ever, for reading!

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