Sunday, March 30, 2014

on venture capitalists

hi there

this is one of them infrequent posts that comes about as a request to do it. well, sort of. the request was "something about investment bankers", but i am sure you will agree with me - if with nothing else here - that venture capitalists sounds way, way cooler than investment bankers.

is there a difference, you may ask, between a venture capitalist and an investment banker? oh gosh blimey yes. from a fashion point of view, what with their "power ties" and eccentric coloured suits, a venture capitalist would get quite cross with the suggestion that a grey suited investment banker is in the same league as they. possibly.

this picture, as i suspect you need me not to tell you, is from the celebrated 'Merchant Banker' sketch off of Monty Python. for the most part through this post, it's best you keep this in mind as a frame of reference.

right, differences. basically an investment banker works for - yes - an investment bank. investment bankers are approached by entrepreneurs and businesses for - yes - investment. investment bankers grant this if the return on investment looks all but guaranteed to please the shareholders of the investment bank for which they - yes - work. risks of investing in a business that is likely to displease shareholders and the like seldom happen, unless somehow one of them "rouge trader" types gets to play with the investment banking train set.

a venture capitalist is the, if you like, antithesis of the investment banker. or vice versa. the venture capitalist is the one that acts instead of reacts. as in, a venture capitalist actively seeks businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in or buy out. whilst the investment banker looks for safe, sturdy things, the mind of a venture banker is to look for failing businesses that should not be failing, buy them cheap as a consequence and fix.

absolutely none of the above would in any way at all be enhanced by an image of a show called Lambing Live that i was recently encouraged to watch, but here is one anyway.

what have we learned so far? well, a venture capitalist has the more impressive sounding name and the more derring-do sort of lifestyle and day to day thing to do. this is enabled, as in the venture capitalist is proactive whereas the investment banker is reactive, by the fact that a venture capitalist has an awful lot of money at their disposal. either they are a wealthy sort of person or have people who have backed them to do "whatever they like" with an awful lot of money. an investment banker has a salary. they are obliged to perpetuate receipt of that salary by not displeasing those who pay it. theoretically an investment banker, if they obtained enough coins of money, could go off on their own and become a tally-ho venture capitalist, i suppose. it would be a bit like an accountant deciding that they wished to be a lion tamer.

it's not at all likely that a venture capitalist would turn into an investment banker, however. not unless, of course, the venture capitalist bought an investment bank. if a venture capitalist cocked up enough so that they required employment, it is stunningly unlikely that they would gain such employ with an investment bank.

the words "job and income stability" are ones that a venture capitalist, look you see, has nothing at all to do with. in the pursuit of millions if not billions they take extraordinary risks. even the most well thought out risks with a management plan carry the real threat of losing oodles of coins of money. are the investment bankers, with their reliable income, one up on them here? depends on your perspective. i am inclined to say yes myself, really, but it's all down to your own perception on the value of money.

so an investment banker has a dull yet stable life, whereas the venture capitalist has a lively existence which has no clue whatsoever that stability is an actual thing. how are we doing so far? time for some practical examples of how they operate? ok, i will try.

legend, and probably his autobiography, says that this chap started off his career flogging second hand records out of his Dad's car, aged but 15. this is a chap, then, we could call an entrepreneur. quite a few people have called him quite a few other things too, but we shall leave that aside for now.

he had some splendid ideas. ones that made him a good deal of money off his own work and entrepreneurial flair. thus this chap was able to go to investment bankers, show them some awfully exciting numbers, show them plans as to how he was going to generate even more, bigger if you like, exciting numbers and thus secure investment on the strong likelihood of a high, or at the least perfectly acceptable, rate of return on investment. that's how business works. and, i believe, how this chap's business has worked over the years. he does not look like he is short of brass, after all.

now, then. imagine if his brilliant ideas did not work - maybe because he was an actual twat or something; and there was no query at all that the idea was sound. in would come the venture capitalist, waving a cheque, taking the company, sacking staff, hiring new staff and presumably making a success of it. that's the theory, at the least.

that venture capitalists fire staff - in particular managers - from the businesses they buy is something that gives them the majority of their bad name and bad reputation. which is kind of weird, really. for them to be wrong to do so suggests a thinking that speaks of no manager has ever been bad-to-useless at all; that they are always the innocent victim of circumstance. a school of thought, one attended by venture capitalists, is that if the managers were doing the proper job with the sound idea, then the venture capitalist would have been able to get nowhere near the gates of their concern.

bashing a venture capitalist for firing managers that led a business or company to the point where it could be undervalued and bought cheap is a bit like the constant bashing of Pope Bono I for "not paying taxes". it's like, yeah, you have worked hard for decades, you have made millions off of your hard work - just how keen would you be to give as absolutely much of it away as you could in taxes?

the picture here is of one of them venture capitalists, the late Lord Hanson. i have selected him because i have memories from the mid-80s of that class, celebrated 'newspaper' The Sun running frequent attacks on him, his ideas and, well, more or less anything he did. this is sort of like the pic that The Sun ran of him; except for some reason i think they rather preferred to show images of him waving around a rather impressive fountain pen. why i know not, perhaps for the priapic value of such a thing, this being rather likely as then they also ran stories knacking Elton John for his preference for men and stories celebrating Gary Glitter for his deft skills in seducing schoolgirls. they, i believe, take different approaches to both of those topics these days.

why did they keep on knacking Lord Hanson? no idea, although i suspect it was down to The Sun seeing London (innit) as the centre of the known universe, and Lord Hanson having the audacity and nerve to be a success without hailing from London (innit).

an image or example of an investment banker? anyone you see heading to work in a grey suit. that's about it. either they are an actual investment banker or they aspire to be an investment banker.

the 1980s were, you hardly need me to tell you, the zenith or perhaps zeitgeist of the venture capitalist. those days are all gone, now, of course - too many rushed to be venture capitalists, too many lost money, too many woeful governments around the world ill-managed economies from the 90s onwards. venture capitalists, to a degree, exist today, but they are not as flamboyant, interesting or as public as they once were.

a bit like musicians, then. the early 90s were the last time interesting bands came along in any significant number. reason enough to beautify this blog post with an image of Donnington.

investment bankers? of course they are still around, and i pointed out above how to spot them. they shall forever be around, for business does not need the venture capitalist. remember that whole stability thing, and the example of the chap that sells records, yeah? when a chap grows tired of selling records and wishes to make the logical step of going into space travel, suggesting that they will be shotting in to space minor members of the British Royal Family, it is the investment banks that they consult for coins of moneys.

not that venture capitalists have gone. they have evolved. quite a few successful entrepreneurs quite like the exciting sound of being a 'venture capitalist' and so have a go at it, look you see. example? that tv show Dragon's Den. yeah, that's right - they like to call themselves dragons, and go off on (ad)ventures. it sounds more exciting; less boring nerdy type.

as much as it is that investment bankers will stay around so long as their is business to invest in, their necessity and importance is being challenged by the thing that some call 'the internet'. in two mighty ways this 'internet' thing, which indeed is a thing you can get a man at the computer menders to put on a disc for you i fancy, has brought about new venture capitalists and new investment bankers.

what is this pretty picture i present you with? partially a work of genius; mostly the coming into being of the principles of the Merchant Banker sketch out of Monty Python.

it is the "million pixel project". a lad in England called Alex Tew decided, in 2005, to sell off one million pixels on a webpage - in minimum blocks of 100 - for US$1 each. result? the novelty factor and the viral ways in which word spread meant that he sold and thus made a million in a very short space of time. what need, then, of either venture capitalists or investment bankers if you can raise a million with such ease?

quite a bit, many would argue. efforts and attempts to replicate, mimic or just plain rip-off this idea have all failed. failed badly in some cases, with several sites trying to do the same thing showing off a mere dozen or so pixels sold off. a one off success, then. no investment banker is going to touch it since it's nothing long term, no venture capitalist is going to be interested as there's no business to take over as such.

something of the internet that both venture capitalists and investment bankers will both thrill to is this whole kickstarter / crowd funding thing. it's the Merchant Banker sketch off of Monty Python, that is the idea of people giving money for no particular return, multiplied by many, many numbers.

kickstarter or crowd funding things do what they say on the box. basically someone has an idea that they think is class, but can ill afford to bring into being all by their lonesome. they throw up a website, then, asking people to donate small amounts to make it all happen. frequently there is a reward for doing so - the amount you give translating into a bigger award. effectively it makes many people venture capitalists, or if they use their business head instead of their "that sounds cool let me give it money" brain, investment bankers.

some fail, some succeed in answer to your question about kickstarter and crowd funding things. just like real business in the real world, then, yeah. so does it provide a means and way to replace "traditional" venture capitalism and investment banking? oh hell no. the days of kickstarter and crowd funding being viable and - importantly - popular are drawing to a close. why?

this is the 'Oculus VR'. a virtual reality headset. yes, indeed, it does look stupid. it looks as dumb as it did when shown off in things like The Lawnmower Man in the 90s. it makes that Google Glass thing look sensible in comparison.

but loads and loads of computer types got all excited about virtual reality once again; in scenes somewhat reminiscent of everyone getting all excited about 3D cinema just because some fella remade Dances With Wolves with some Smurfs in it. and so it raised a whole load of coins of money from people very excited to see this become a real thing. it was hip, it was trendy, it was something that "the kids" wanted to see and were quite prepared to wave a few dollars at.

and what happened to the collective few dollars that were raised? the makers of Oculus VR tinkered away and researched, got a viable prototype ready, suggested that they might be ready to go ahead with manufacturing and selli....oh, look, a big company has just waved billions at us, let us sell it to them instead.

my view, as in the view of someone who didn't give money in the hope of one day having a box with flashing lights available to put on my head, is "nice one, them". the views of those who did throw money at that, enthusiastic as close proximity to flashing lights as they are, is slightly different. they are horrified that they have sold out to a corporate, even if it was a corporate that barely a decade ago was some dude in his bedroom setting up a site for his own amusement. are they likely to once again throw money at a dream if that dream is to be sold to a corporate? unlikely.

should this whole Oculus VR thing become an actual thing and the kids are satisfied with a box displaying flashing lights on their head, then the disgruntled ways above will soon be discarded. the kids will throw their PayPal details at other ideas that excite them, no matter who goes ahead and buys it up.

but what of the venture capitalist? will their kind ever be seen again? will Bono, instead of berating the "death" of the record industry, throw all that money he has saved on tax into a record label, believing he can fix and heal everything? might the nouveau bourgeois of Dragon's Den grow tired of sitting in a studio looking non-nerdy , opting instead to go out and actually look for opportunities instead of waiting to see which ones make it past auditions for their consideration? entirely possible, really. that tv show cannot go on forever, and soon Bono will tire of doing that thing on stage where millions worship him. well, maybe entirely possible is a touch optimistic.

so there, for the most part, you have it. is it a question, dear reader, if i would rather be a venture capitalist or an investment banker? if so, i would think that those who know me will know the answer. yes, if it had to be one of the two, an investment banker. i just don't have the entrepreneurial way of thinking about me, nor the inclination. i would rather be an investment banker, then, dreaming of one day being a lion tamer.

i can only hope and trust that what the person who requested this has got that for which they wished! for everyone else, if this has provided some mild amusement and accidental insight, so much the better!

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

a Mother's day

hello there

here in tropical England, and perhaps one or two other places around the world (maybe America), it is Mother's Day, it is, the day today. other than the standard comment that every day should be Mother's Day, for they are all special, it is not marked officially so on calendars as being today in certain countries. i know for certain that it is not in South Africa or New Zealand, yet also know that some cards arrived there anyway.

as for what one "does" on a Mother's Day, well, one should, could and invariably would do that which they feel is a suitable thing or variety of things to do. for us, it was time for a good, lovely stroll out and around. out indeed, as it were, as opposed to simply going for a stroll around our home.

why is it that Mother's Day is celebrated on different days around the world? no idea, really. perhaps it is something to do with stretching and spreading the income and revenue streams for the card producers of the world. that would be the cynics view, at the least. i suspect here in England it is when it is out of some sort of calendar relation to that whole Easter thing, but am not entirely certain. could be just seasonal more than it is calendar.

Father's Day is different around the world, too. i am aware that they mark that particular day in September in the land of New Zealand, although i think in most places it hits, or if you like happens, in June. i am sure i will find out all about it as and when it does occur.

probably best for you to go to that google thing, or even an almanac or other form or oracle, if you wish a more precise answer to the mysteries of the date differentials. but i am happy with my best guess thing, and would encourage you to settle for it too.

onwards with our walks, or strolls if you like, and down to see Gran & Gramps.

yep, that's Gramps engaged in conversation with James. what is it they were discussing? cricket and football, as it happens. quite a time to do so, really, since the day before today, which would be 'yesterday', saw Boro pull off a spectacular surprise win and Newcastle, the team that Gramps rather prefers, did not, in any sort of way, fashion a win. oh dear.

our stroll took us that way, of course, to see Gran and Gramps equally, but mindful of the day today also Gran more. we had some cards and gifts for her, as you may have hoped or perhaps expected. can i give the details of the gifts? not particularly, alas. i have bought an identical one of them, you see, for someone else who has thus far not received it.

i can, of course, rather show off a picture of Gran. my pleasure to do so!

both James and indeed my (considerably) better half have a healthy interest in family history, so that's one of Gran's more special photo albums that they are going through. James in particular is interested in the military service members of our family have engaged in; an interest no doubt coming as a result of work done at school and indeed from watching and reading the magnificent Horrible History things.

i can't show the gifts, but i can at the least say that Gran was thrilled with her cards and delighted with her presents. they all looked really good!

would William and Gramps not have an interest in family history and pictures? i am pretty sure they very much indeed would, in truth. not, however, when there was a class Noddy book on offer, with buttons that you pressed to make the characters talk, along with a variety of other sounds and noises. although, yes, sounds are noises.

the two of them could have kept going for hours with the noises, to be honest. however, it was drawing rather close to the time of lunch (closer than usual, what with that clock change thing happening at some point during the night) and a radio show that Gran & Gramps both enjoy.

our stroll adventure continued then, noting as we did a sign for a road closure to fix that knacked bridge and indeed calling in to see Uncle Trevor. Uncle Trevor was, alas, not feeling at all well, so it was just the briefest of visits, with word that we would see him soon.

by contrast the ice cream place of some noble repute was in the rudest and most animated of health, and they were delighted to provide us with as many ice creams as we could carry. except that James did not want one.

can i, you wonder, if not ask, show off items that were given to my (considerably) better half under the consideration of it being Mother's Day? i cannot think of any specific reason as to why not, except perhaps that i got one of those bees in one of them bonnets and thus insisted on taking pictures at a less than opportune time to do so. hence, if you will, this picture.

yes, that's right - a t-shirt celebrating the band that is, or in a very real sense was, Nirvana. because nothing says "Mother's Day" quite like an item of merchandise for a band that stopped being a going concern some twenty or so years ago.

in the case of my (considerably) better half, it is quite true that nothing else really says that in the same way, since she loves the band. i was just thrilled to find an item of this nature, as previous efforts to get items celebrating the band usually end with getting something that has obscenities written on it too. quite a filthy mouth, that Kurt fellow had when it suited him.

other things? yes. yes i did, even though i was told i did not have to.

a massive book of logic puzzles, some class notebooks in the shape and look of cassettes (and featuring a date and time when MTV was ace, not the rubbish it is now), and a keyring effigy to homage to Animal out of The Muppets. that's just to clarify what all of that is should, for some reason, you not have been able to make out what was what in the picture above.

other than to mention that she loves all of the above (yes indeed, Andrea, especially the t-shirt), that's about it for now, although the day is far from done. next up should be one of those peculiar request type of blog posts i am asked to do from time to time. should be here "soon".

hope you have all had an excellent day with the day today, no matter if it is or is not officially a Mother's Day where in the world you are!

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

the tale of two sequels

hi there

some if you will recall how in a post on the, erm, bizarre world of bizarro books i kind of "went off on one" complaining and moaning about the world of "series" of books. you know, how one finds a novel that looks interesting, but turns out to be 'part seven of twelve' or 'book six' of a series of recurring characters.

series of books have always existed, but it just seems these days that's nearly all publishers are interested in. yes, a bit like the world of film i suppose. i understand it's with good, financial reason that they do this, but it gets a bit annoying that finding a good, interesting stand-alone novel these days is rather tricky.

in the light of that, then, it may be peculiar, but hopefully not hypocritical, that two of the best books i have read in the last year or so turned out to be sequels. hardly "series" books as they were sequels written decades after the originals, but still sort of the same rules apply in the minds of some i suppose.

the sequels in question are the novels Sycamore Row by John Grisham and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, or if you like 'the legendary' Stephen King. both were, for the most part, outstanding novels. to answer a relatively safe and obvious question up front - in respect of the Grisham novel no, absolutely not, you would not have had to read the first book to follow or get into this one. in regards of the work of Mr King, it would i imagine certainly help, but the lengthy opening kind of covers all that you need to know of the first if for some reason you wanted to read this but flat refused to read The Shining. incidentally, seeing Stanley Kubrick's film alone would make this novel rather confusing for you, so don't take that approach. but more on that later.

with that qualification and quick review out of the way, i hereby declare that a *** SPOILER WARNING *** is in place for the entire rest of this post. i will do all i can to avoid plot specifics, but rather skip if you have any intention of reading any of the four books mentioned from here on out. 

blogger has "upped" the cover for Sycamore Row first, so let us start there, then. it is a sequel to Grisham's first novel, A Time To Kill, although it really did not need to be. using the same characters was a nice touch, but he could have just as easily constructed all new lawyers and scenarios to tell the tale.

and that tale is one well worth reading. it's a superb blend of race relations, greed, family, law and violence - probably an oil baron or a "wake up and find him in the shower" away from being soap opera stuff, yes, but Grisham handles it all really well. a particularly impressive part was the reversal of the science-fiction trick. whereas some set their works "in the future" whereas the content really reflects the present day, Grisham has taken this story back to 1989. it highlights that issues then are issues now, as in nothing much ever changes, i suppose.

yes, there's a pic of Mr Grisham for you all. enjoy, and credit to the photographer, as per the picture.

Sycamore Row is, thankfully, one of his better novels. it's up there, in my opinion and all that, with his best. what his best is would for me be things the The Chamber and Runaway Jury, if that's any sort of guide for you.

and there has been challenging times for fans of John Grisham. he wrote, let us not forget, some utter rubbish at times. who can forget The Last Juror, for instance - a book that promised much, but eventually delivered the adventures of a newspaper owner who went to several (many) church lunches. or that one set mostly in Italy, which was 90% Italian cuisine, 10% story.

the last two or three novels (certainly three including this) (might be the last four or five) have been a happy reminder of why his books sold and indeed sell in the millions. perhaps it's that, and presumably some sort of sense of satisfaction that he's hit the winning formula once more for engaging, interesting and not-all-about-eating novels, that inspired or pushed him to return to characters from his debut novel. whatever the reason doesn't matter, i suppose, especially as, as i indeed mentioned before, one does not have to read A Time To Kill to be able to tackle this one.

i don't really believe, though, that Sycamore Row started off life as a sequel to A Time To Kill. i would be pretty sure the ideas and what have you came to him, and for some reason to Mr Grisham it made "sense" to simply cast it all that way. if casting is the right way to describe setting up the characters and that in a novel. probably not, really, but that is the way i have said it now, so there.

it was not really a novel, or a set of characters for that matter, that ever really cried out for more story. part of me thinks it would have been better if it was all new characters, for the likelihood of a small town lawyer getting two "mega" cases as has now been the case with the protagonist does seem 'unlikely'.

i would think that if Mr Grisham were to deliberately plan a sequel to one of his novels, the likely candidate would be that one that people assume was his first, The Firm. that left a set of characters and events which would make a sequel rather good, to be honest. and to state the obvious, a certain ex of Nicole Kidman would probably relish the chance of returning to the character onscreen in an inevitable film adaptation.

onwards, then, to the world of Stephen King and Doctor Sleep. i kind of suspect that Mr King attracts the more passionate, easily angered fan in general and in particular on the net, so i should perhaps show caution here. except i will not.

although how else can i put this - Doctor Sleep is one of the finest novels i have ever read, let alone one of the best ones by Mr King. it is a brilliant, hard to put down tale of thrill and horror; if you like a big reminder of why the author is regarded of one of the greats, if not the greatest.

in similar ways to Sycamore Row, my suspicion is that this novel started off as its own thing, only for the author to clock that the story would "make sense" as a sequel to another book. in this instance, it was clearly and always more obvious as to which book a sequel was warranted. the original, of course, only showed two characters that had the ability and ways of 'shining'; it makes sense (being careful with plot points here) that others out there also had the same abilities or, if you like, powers. it was further unlikely, of course - and in particular in the world of Stephen King - that all would use the powers in a good, constructive way.

using power in a good, constructive way, Mr King. alas, you don't do it, do you? for over 30 years now Stephen has been at war with that film adaptation. Stanley Kubrick's interpretation of The Shining. Stephen did not and does not like it. he hates the changes to the ending. that the ending of the novel would have been impossible to film in 1980 does not matter to him.

Mr King brings up his resentment, anger and dislike over the film version in the opening of his author's notes. it is sad reading, really. Stevie-baby seems to think that if people dared to like the Kubrick film then they would automatically hate his original novel. this is not, and never has been, the case.

in Mr King's world it seems that there are two types of people - those that only like the film of The Shining and those that only like his novel. in my world and experience this has not been the case. all the people i have met who have read and seen the work consider both, in their own right, to be works of outright genius. which they very much are. i can only suspect that Mr King is - perhaps understandably - a tincy, wincy little bit jealous of the fact that people tend to associate The Shining more with the stunning Kubrick film rather than instantly with his original novel.

i, and i suspect many, would have thought that Mr King would have stopped his war on the Kubrick version around 1997 or 1998. that was when Stephen was given the freedom and the money to make his own version of The Shining. sure, it was more faithful to the novel, including the ending, but it was dull and boring. as in, for a film interpretation, Mr Kubrick had in fact got it right.

but, then again, if it is his bitterness, animosity and outright hatred of the Kubrick version that drove him to deliver a novel as superb as Doctor Sleep, it's not all that bad that he is that way.

i do not, however, buy his story that people have "forever" and "always" been asking him "what happened to Danny". i really would imagine and hope that anyone fortunate enough to meet Stephen King would have more interesting things to do that ask him what, in his imagination, happened to an imaginary character in an imaginary story. maybe not, but i still hope.

as mentioned and, if not clear enough, as you might guess, there is absolutely no way you could follow the story of Doctor Sleep without reading the novel The Shining. there's a decent stab at a refresher in the early stages of the book, but the references throughout the novel are, to my mind, too much to be able to "wing it". if your only experience of The Shining was the Kubrick film, go nowhere near this novel. you will be confused to hell and back, doubting you saw what you did.

i have not read all of the novels of Stephen King, far from it in fact. some of his more recent works are ones that i have started and not been able to finish because they haven't appealed. this one, as mentioned, was one i could barely put down on a night. compulsive reading Doctor Sleep most certainly was.

so there you go. sequels good, series bad when it comes to novels. i think. if the merits and success of these two novels sets either Mr Grisham or Mr King off on a sequel frenzy i suspect i might be a little disappointed, but then again, if they can do once more what they did with these novels, then bring it on.

hope this has been of some use to someone somewhere! yeah, i had reservations about reading either of them, but both turned out to be well and truly worth it.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

marlboro bright leaf

hello there

well, for reasons somewhat beyond my comprehension a post i did last year on marlboro premium black has been read/viewed over a thousand times in the last month or six weeks. that's pretty impressive for my humble blog, and if whoever it is that makes them wishes to hoy commission or gratitude my way (Philip Morris, isn't it?) for promotion and that, well so much the better. unlikely, that, is it not.

if for some reason quite a few of you want to read all about stuff that Marlboro sell, well then far be it from me to deny you some further musings. see it, if you like, as a thank you for reading all the other stuff that i put here. here you, we, us if you like go then into the world of a surprise discovery today, something called Marlboro Bright Leaf. although it might also be Marlboro Platinum, since it seems to have Platinum written on the side of the box.

just a disclaimer, clarification sort of thing. i assume you are hear reading this as you were mildly amused by me linking it on one of them social network things, or otherwise you googled your way here. quite class, that google thing is. anyway, presumably you then know that things like cigarettes have all sorts of health issues and warnings with them. this post is not telling you what to and what to not do with your life.

further, anyone who looks at anything that i do and thinks "that is class, i will model myself on that, i will" probably has several problems in need of resolving that are considerably more pressing than if they smoke or not. i suspect.

the increasing cost of cigarettes here, in particular in the face of limited income, has led to me exploring and investigating the cheapest possible way to obtain them before i (no doubt sooner rather than later) bow to the inevitable health, cost and socially acceptable realities. realities that are not to be spoken of just yet, but "soon". it was with some surprise, to put it mildly, that i discovered the cheapest on offer at present came from Marlboro.

yes, that warning above is indeed suggesting that if you smoke you will not be able to "do a sex" with any great ease. so please take note of that, sexually interested people. 

Marlboro Bright Leaf, as they appear to be called, cost (or at the least cost me) something like ₤5.41 for a packet of 20. that's like, wow. here, like around the world, Marlboro are usually associated with the more luxurious smoker, and thus have a higher price as a consequence. 

i am guessing, or if you like speculating, that them that make the Marlboro and that have grown tired of losing substantial market share due to higher prices and the general way in which smoking is frowned upon. that is, surely, the only reason they have introduced as low a cost as possible range. 

either that or Marlboro have for some inexplicable reason been following my plight with interest and, depressed at the thought of such a loyal customer as i have been being unable to throw yet more money at them, have decided to cut me some slack. this is, mindful of the way the world seems to work, as likely as it is unlikely, really.

"look", some executive at their office might have cried, "he is having to smoke things which are usually the preserve of salty sea dogs. let us fix this.". if some exec there read this blog saw that and then made it so with all this bright leaf business, well that's splendid, but offering me some sort of meaningful employment would have been an even better thing to do. just mentioning it, you know, for the next time.

no, as it happens, i did not merely purchase Marlboro thingies today. i also found a rather splendidly named book at a very splendid price. this purchase, as you can see, has for the most part been viewed as splendid by the splendid one who is my (considerably) better half.

i have not really done much but browse through it myself, but what i have seen of it suggests that the author really should include themselves in the list of fifty. they would appear to have taken quite a few liberties with certain events and facts in the conclusions i have spotted.

moving on then, and i am assuming you want to know if these Marlboro Bright Leaf, or Platinum as they might also be sort of called, are any good. are they like "normal" Marlboro, or are they something cheap and nasty, giving a taste and experience more usually associated with cigarettes manufactured for and aimed at the more salty sea dog type of chap?

the answer is that they are not too bad. if a salty sea dog was offered one it would probably feel a bit like the harsh, coarse ones that he normally has, but the overall experience of it might make him substantially less bitter, resentful and hopefully not inclined to engage in minor sexual proclivities with fellow sailors with a dubious level of consent present.

yeah, in that warning picture you can see there i also thought it was an image of some dude getting a tan on one of them sunbed things, but in retrospect i am pretty sure that's a picture of a chap in a morgue, probably there not out of direct choice but due to something or other to do with smoking.

as for the newspaper headline, oh dear. losses are likely to be the norm for quite some time, and i would be amazed if we recover to the glitzy world of the Premier League for another generation or so. unless we get a really class batch of younger players come through, at least. credit and thanks, of course, to Mr Gibson for having a substantially less negative approach to it than i.

no, not Mel, not that Mr Gibson. the one pictured on the front of the paper, i mean, "obvs".

back, then, to the sort of point, and oh look, they come in a rather fancy box that flips on the side rather than along the top. that's class, that is.

yeah, on the inner box, or inside flap if you like, there's some sort of fancy statement that speaks of the opulent, luxurious aspirations and ambitions of the purchaser of the cheapest packet presently on the shelves. nice touch, that.

seriously. this non-conventional box is usually reserved for "limited" ranges of cigarettes. not even them fancy premium black ones came in a box with a non-standard flip lid. well, except that sticky cover thing they had on the go.

how do the actual cigarettes perform? a mixed bag, to tell the truth. i have had, for research purposes, a couple. one was rather pleasant and fine, the other burned up in half the time. not an uncommon thing to happen with the more modest priced cigarette.

yeah, i know that last bit didn't tell you anything that was not in the reference to a salty sea dog, but i have uploaded far too many pics for the point of this post and i just couldn't bring myself to delete the excess.

if, as what i can see suggests, marlboro bright leaf are now the cheapest cigarettes on the market here, then the standard for cheap cigarettes has been raised considerably. these are decent enough, do the job, and are not, frankly, as wretched as some.

as i mentioned, up to you if you smoke in this life or not, but i feel an unusual obligation to point out to you the health warnings on the packets.

if, as was the case with the other one, over a thousand people opt to read this, well, i can only hope that the information or my opinion has been of some, even slight, use!

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

on being Welsh

hello there

well, in truth, a challenge of a day. a day that might also be described in other, more direct and less subtle ways, really. i am quite knacked, but let me try and do a blog post for you anyway.

why am i knacked? well, mostly it is because i have been playing box tetris. but surely, you say, all tetris is box tetris, as it is box like shapes that one twists, turns and juggles to make lines. well, yes, except i was playing it for real.

we needed something out of storage, look you see. urgently, apparently. what was it? i am glad you asked. we urgently needed a plastic truck that the plastic turtles of ninja training and teenage years drive around in. also bed parts, though. but they were at the front, the truck in a box at the back.

that required a good deal of "re-imagining" how all the boxes were stacked, it did, look you see. a lot of lifting mega-sized and mega-weighted boxes, making them all into nice lines which, happily, did not disappear once they were complete. but they did let me get to the box i needed to.

after that was done, it was back home in time to read a little bit of valid criticism from someone who is proud to be white and proud to have a black girlfriend because he says he is on his blog (bravo, chap) and onwards to a little bit of scientific research.

a good friend suggested that i try this 100% Scientific Welshometer to find out just who and what i am in this world, nay, this universe, look you see.

the result of this guaranteed and accurate scientific experiment, which appears to focus rather too much on footwear for my liking, were pretty astounding.

so there we have it. as Scotland contemplates a brave new world of independence, it seems i am Welsh. nice one.

historically, ancestrally or whatever i am indeed Welsh, but i suspect that in itself does not make me 100% Welsh, not looking at my birth certificate specifics at the least.

do i mind being declared 100% Welsh in this scientific and accurate test? not really, no. i have been called considerably worse in my days, and seldom better. the Welsh may well consider it offensive that i count amongst their number, mind, but that's up to them. do please take the test yourself and see if you are with me or not, look you see.

but you want to see more box tetris, do you not. you want to learn of my plight, my suffering, my triumphs and my setbacks. probably.

anyway, look you see, look what i found as i played tetris.

yes, the speakers from my stag. big, massive speakers. the last thing to be played through them before they were packed up was most likely Rickett's Theme. hopefully i will play it again through the stag and speakers soon. not, alas, today. we just do not have space in our home to unpack the stag.

i believe, with my apologies, this blog post is messy,  cumbersome and poorly written. pretty much, then, like the 2,000+ plus posts before it i suppose. sorry, i just had to exert a lot of energy to lift some of them boxes and it has taken its toll on me.

anyhow, plastic truck and that retrieved, out of a box at the bottom of a pile at the back of all the boxes. the boys are thrilled, so well worth the groans and strains on my side.

as you would expect, it was in a clearly marked box. observe.

because everyone, surely, stores plastic trucks for plastic turtles that are ace ninjas in their bathroom, no? look, you see, we did.

i am sure there is a major news story about at the moment that features a bathroom, but the details of it escape me. please put your own bland, banal or brilliant joke reference here. if you like, look you see.

yes, i think bed and a little cry about how sore i am is in order.

if you have reason to play box tetris yourself at any point in the near or distant future, my wishes of solidarity and strength.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

the humble fiver

hi there

the fiver. the simple, humble fiver. for some thirty years it has been the lowest denomination banknote one can get in (as far as i know) all of the United Kingdom. once upon a time this was the standard fee for a new album on vinyl, i think the tape cost 49p or so more. celebrated and somewhat altruistic periodical Viz once claimed that a since-deceased member of the Royal Family had sex for a fiver with a tramp; in a phone box no less. far be it from me to say which member, but it was something that Elton, perhaps in his wisdom, did not mention in his song.

what can one do with a fiver these days? buy five pounds sterling worth of something is the rather obvious answer there. you needed to read this blog to find that out? well, happy to help. as for what i did with a fiver, or a variation of fivers, well, if you have an interest, do read on. go on, you might as well, you are here now anyway.

a super duper happy use of a fiver (or 1p below, pedantic types) was around obtaining this.

yes, that's the 2xCD "book" deluxe of Rewind The Film by the Manics. when it came out last year (September, i think?) i was in SA, and there was no release of the album there. no imported copies either; not even of the single "regular" CD. indeed, regular readers will recall my adventures on trains and such to record stores to see if i could find it. nope.

this would be the third time in a row that i have got the "super" version of one of their albums for a fiver. the other two were Journal For Plague Lovers, which is awesome, and Postcards From A Young Man, which has some really decent tunes on it - mostly the ones they didn't put out as singles. without fail it seems the 2xCD version of their album drops to the cost of the humble fiver when a new album is imminent. to this end, something or other called Futurology is due by them soon-ish. i am too old to read NME so i do not know the specific release date. sorry.

my travels around music shops here are, then, on the whole much better. people in shops appear to have heard of the bands that i like, which is very nice. the little things one takes for granted another cherishes, trust me. my travels also, with much delight, saw me cross the path of two very, very, exceptionally dear friends. quite by chance.

for those that do not know, the above is Andrea, whom my dear friend Mr Norman Bastard has the distinct honour, privilege and pride in referring to as his better half. a wonderful lady who has been a good friend to me and my (considerably) better half over the years. yes, Andrea, yes, we will all get together soon.

a particular highlight of meeting Andrea was that she alerted me to another interesting way i could dispose of a fiver. or two, as it happened. the club shop for that team we were born to support, you seen, had a jolly sale on.

a jolly sale that turned out to make the boys rather happy indeed.

to the cries of "no, serious, really?", yes, i can confirm that both shirts above cost a fiver each. that's down from somewhere over thirty, usually. crazy for kids shirts.

you would have thought, right, that they would make the kits for children a bit (a lot) cheaper, even if it meant bumping the cost of the adult ones up. teaching a child that just the shirt of the team they were born to support is too expensive is a rather brave, bold and dangerous lesson; one unlikely to help with match day attendance figures. not that i am an expert.

the next day (not Bowie album but calendar) was meant to feature all dreadful and ill weather. as you can see from the pic of the boys it was not the case, hence them being pictured outside. we went off for a stroll to the "secret" play park, since having football shirts meant it was appropriate to have a runaround and a kickabout.

yes indeed, Uncle Sinbad and Aunty Maria, that's the football, the one you got for James when he was barely a week old and one that has never been out of his possession. it was enormous fun in the suitcase, believe me.

William has all of a sudden got an interest in football. it came about the moment he got the shirt, which is an interesting precedent. i will be off to the shops once more, then, looking for a "putting away toys is class" t-shirt, or perhaps even one that says "listening to Mummy & Daddy is ace".

what's that? you want to go back to my "anything so long as it is a fiver" exploits and see a picture of me with the legendary Norman Bastard? certainly.

Norman, for the most part, does them marathon things. he is quite selective, though, as he will only do them in cities where David Bowie has a residence, or if they have what he considers to be a "quality airport". i think i will probably go along to one of them with him. he reckons he does one in about five hours. in that time i am really, really confident i can find a nice coffee shop near the start, followed by taking any suitable means of public transport to find another coffee shop, or maybe even a nice bistro, near the end of it all.

yes, probably time for another image of the boys kicking the ball around, "zoomed" as best i could with the magical ways of the blueberry camera.

i probably should have taken the iTwat thingie with me, sorry. these shirts and the football would look even more awesome in Commodore 64 mode. the perfect excuse, then, for another trip soon.

the blueberry, at least, offers a perfectly useable video camera function, which allowed me to make this rather class video of William doing his thing.


do feel free to insert your own "lad in Boro shirt running around in circles" joke here.

as for who William was calling, well, for the first time since we arrived we did not have the park to ourselves. which was a most excellent change. a number of friends and classmates of the boys came along, and they all had a splendid time running themselves ragged. that is, after all, what it is to be young.

so yes, as to what you can do with a fiver, but a deluxe version of a superb Manics album and buy a soon to be out of date football shirt are just two possible answers for you..

the inevitable, cliched conclusion, however, is of course that some thing and some views are just priceless.

aaaah, indeed, dear reader, aaaah.

righty-ho, that will do it for now then! more sooner or later!

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

somali pirates 0 me 1

hi there

well, it is not every day one gets to hear of a story of someone taking on Somalian pirates and winning. indeed, technically, and in terms of the law governing what can and what cannot be passed of as "non-fiction", this is not such a day nor such a tale. but also it is, really.

yesterday, by my word, featured some barmy windy weather. nearly took the door off the wheels, it did, and kicked up a whole lot of dust and stuff into my eyes and that. a bitter sense of frostbite seemed to come around my fingers too; all of that combined made writing, and indeed holding some paper, quite a challenge.

why did i not just stay inside, then, instead of staying out in it and subsequently moaning and whining here? well, if i had done that, i would not have seen this.

what are we, ladies and gentlemen, looking at here. what do we see? ostensibly, nay pedantically, we merely see a trick on a road as it makes its way across the most beautiful part of the world; a beauty not alas accentuated or reflected by the weather that day.

in a very real sense, though, what we see here is conquest. a conquest like that Greek or Roman fella with the flying horse. a conquest like them monkeys in that film with that guy in it. the conquest, of course, is over trial by wave, trial by shark and trial by Somali pirate. most impressive.

yes, the basics here is that our stuffs has landeds, hasn't it just. and, alas, gone straight into storage.

two fantastic blokes came along with it all in a truck and we put it all into storage for now. as much as i miss several of my shiny things - in particular my proper computer as i struggle with this child's toy - we do not have the infrastructure nor space to take all that much out right now.

in truth i did, as the concerned sort of look thing i have on the go here may reveal, have some concerns that it would not all fit into the storage we had arranged with a top bloke from an outstanding family. we had, i fear, packed and brought far too much with us; some feat considering we gave roughly half of our estate away. hey ho, done now.

just how close was i, or were we, to losing some if not all of our things that are things to Somali pirates? well, some try to say "not at all close", considering the geography of the world where Somalian pirates dwell and where ships conventionally go. but those some are just not thinking properly.

pirates, ladies and gents, use the seas and oceans as their canvas to craft a most elegant painting of enthusiastic and frequently violent theft. just as the sea refuses no river, so no pirate would surely refuse mucking about in any sort of sea or water in order to obtain all they desire. so stuff at sea, anywhere at sea, is fair game for them, i argue. and well done to the sailor chap in charge of our boat for evading them, or simply just shooting or harpooning any that tried it on.

to illustrate, here is a map of the world for you. note how easy it would have been for Somali pirates to come and have a go at the ship our stuff was on. it is not like at that stage they were looking for planes or anything.

if the Somali pirates had learned of my class stuff being on a ship so close to them, it would have been but the work of a moment for them to bomb it down whatever sea or ocean it is they are on there (Indian, maybe) and get to it. and learn of it they nearly did. some total b@stards who i do not want to name, except for Martin or "Sharpie" as he is known in some circles, made it their mission in life to try and befriend Somalian pirates and tell them all about it. fair do's i suppose, it's like that thing we all do, you know, when you have a mate flying somewhere so you for a laugh phone the airport authorities and advise them of your friend's details and explain that they probably have a formidable amount of narcotics stuck up their backside.

you never really stop contemplating, considering or thinking of entirely random things that happen as you live through this life, i think. i recall a story we were told in school. it was about some lonely looking fella that went into a bakery each day and bought old bread from the day before. eventually the lady working in the shop took pity on him and sneakily gave him fresh bread, with butter spread inside it, instead. the chap came back in furious, explaining that he used the old bread as an eraser (no idea if that works) for some architectural plans he was doing and the buttered bread had destroyed it. what is, i wonder, the lesson we were being given? that if you think someone needs help assume in fact that they don't and carry on? that women should not be allowed to make decisions? that bread somehow works on paper to remove pencil marks, so long as it is butter free and a day old? no, i have no idea why that one just "popped in there" earlier today, but it did so i thought best to throw it out here so any part-time analysts and that can work away on it. fill your boots.

back on land, and my word the space was soon being taken up with lots of stuffs.

as point of fact, i recall one letter in Viz being from someone in Australia (G'day, please put the Starstruck soundtrack out on CD) reckoning that his newsagent reckoned the shipment of a then most recent edition of the magazine had been delayed due to pirates. so they do indeed, it seems, get around a bit.

would it have been all that bad if Somali pirates had taken a shine to the ship our stuff was on? mostly yest but partially no. them two great blokes would have been bringing me a large-ish, insurance cheque rather than loads of boxes, really. and i would in some way have contributed to the Somali, indeed the African, economy from afar; something that might be appreciated as i gather a dam is about to absolutely knack, displacing and/or drowning millions of people. if stealing and selling my class boots, for example, would avert that, well then that is the sort of thing that puts any woes i have into some sort of perspective, if not a practical path to follow to fix them.

here you go, here's one of them selfie things of me looking somewhat woe concerned about all the space in all of the storage area being filled up.

did it all fit in? yeah, sure. if it did not i would not be here writing this. i would have been sent off to "fix" somehow, to do something or anything to store or dispose of the stuff. sorry if you were looking forward to some sort of dramatic twist here. none, really. except i think i knacked the door on the wheels a bit in the wind, but i am sure i mentioned or at least thought about that earlier on.

quite like that selfie above, really. is "poignant" the right word?

this one is OK, i guess, i think it is me looking at the list with nerves and relief as i see it is all but done.

and so all the stuffs have arrived safe and sound to be locked up safe and sound for the foreseeable future. so is life, "fml" and all that.. a great relief it is too, really, even if i am left momentarily despondent and down that it's all here and yet i cannot really do anything with it or use much of it.

if for some reason you are in a similar position to that which i was and believe i can give advice, it would be this. cash in on or simply give away pretty much everything before you haul yourself and your family across the world.

except, of course, you can't. sometimes there are some things you just cannot give up of your own free will, and no one should ever ask you to.

like, for instance, two things that James holds very, very dear and has missed a great deal. almost as much as William has missed all his Batman and Power Ranger things.

it took some doing, that did, finding those two in the box, getting them out and then sort of re-sealing and re-taping the box. but absolutely worth it, and by it i mean it all.

oh goodness me, yes of course there will be whining and moaning posts about not getting stuff set up, to one day be followed by a right royal moaning and whining post about actually getting it all out and set up. that goes without saying so you don't need this warning really.

time for bed, i think.......

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

on commerce

hi there

a blog post born out of absolutely nothing else better to write, really. my apologies then, if this turns out to be all tedious and dull, although in fairness i think there are some spectacularly colourful pictures included.

despite having no proper income as such, and finding myself in the situation where no one even wants to speak to me about giving me some sort of employment or even saying why they have no interest in doing so, my family and to a lesser extent i need to eat. this requires me, then, to do some rather modest shopping. this is, as you may have guessed, what i did today.

previously i have indicated that they seem to not like people randomly taking pictures here, but for some reason i had vast swathes of the shops to myself today. this allowed me to snap away without feeling like i was being looked at with tut-tutting and that which means i can bring you pictures like this, even though it was taken mostly with my chum Sinbad in mind.

yes, that is Scouse in a tin. or rather it is signature collection Scouse in a tin. what is Scouse? for those of you not aware of the ways of Liverpool the bestest broadest definition i can give you is stew. a stew, like all things which are connected to their place of origin via name, which tastes much better when made in the fine city by the Mersey. i imagine the tinned version is OK, but i was not prepared to try it. a picture will suffice, really, for me.

i am sure many of you clock why Sinbad is called Sinbad; if not there are enough clues in the above to work out why. as for Spiros, well, i suspect he has not had tinned or genuine Scouse, not as he minces around Tooting, Grantham, Watford and other places that are to do of London (innit) in either real or theoretical terms. he has, i believe, attempted to try Bubble & Squeak, but i suspect this was not out of a tin.

i would like nothing more to post a tin of Scouse to my chum Sinbad, or indeed our mutual friend Jason Van Der Something, the renowned hard drive enthusiast. alas, the excessive weight cost and probable prohibitions of tinned food mostly precludes me doing so, as indeed does the most recent of post office strikes in South Africa, or if you like the Africa of the South.

this is a massive bloody shame, really, as i would also like to post some of the below in the same direction, although not to Sinbad or Jason. such items as these would scare, confuse and to a degree bewilder them.

yes shelf after shelf, row after row, book after book of the kind of classy titled tales that i so loved giving to my most beloved mother-in-law. how i would wish to be able to hand over, or at least post, some of these gems to her. 

why can i not? well, actually i could probably get a reasonable "printed matter" rate for sending them, but alas they just would not get to her. the South African Post Office, you see, are on one of their regular lengthy strikes. no, not the one i mentioned earlier in the year, another one. although they are related. i am reliably informed that as soon as the last strike was resolved they decided to go on strike again due to the "unfair" requirement that they sort and deliver the backlog of mail from the strike.

yes, that's right, they are currently on strike protesting about doing the job for which they have been employed and paid for. and here i sit unemployed. what's that, you say? you say that it sounds like the SA Post Office is, in some areas, populated by greedy, selfish, lazy, ignorant b@stards? well, that's a little strong, dear reader, but seeing none of my post delivered means i cannot be critical of you. heaven forbid that any misfortune should befall the ringleader of the strikes; i in particular hope, of course, none of them ever require a bathroom facility in the vicinity of a disabled athlete. 

on athletes, if you respect that i did not purchase any or either of the above, onwards to things that i did. i tend to find myself intrinsically (or whatever) drawn to foods which are endorsed by professional sports people. well, who isn't? it is a logical step, it is - a degree of success in a chosen sporting code leads to excellence in consumable goods. 

which is why i ended up buying not one, not four, close to three but actually two different types of pasta sauce (if it is in fact pasta sauce) endorsed by a Rugby Union player that the exact specifics of name escape me for the moment but it is something like Larrybaby. 

what is Larrybaby's pasta sauce like? at this stage i have no idea, but i am assuming to presume that it is excellent from a Rugby pasta sauce perspective. they for some reason sell mince here in rather hefty, large and somewhat close to bulk quantities, whereas this sauce is of a small scope and ambition in regards of bottle size and content thereof. the ratio of pasta sauce to mince would barely glaze the mince in a conventional packet here.

so i will wait until we do a "pasta surprise' and use it then, or at the least my (considerably) better half will; for she is a more gifted and talented one in this and indeed thousands of other regards. we may have it with some pasta and a dish that is not mince; be it cow, horse or dangerously "unspecified".

i am not sure that celebrated sports people should limit their ambition to endorsing food, really. a number of footballers, for instance, would do well in the world of medical endorsements. Wayne Rooney, for instance, doing that big, Shrek-like grin on packets of penicillin would be something some would be inclined to suggest is a worthwhile endorsement. that would be true, in particular, if he wrote a little note to go in each box, explaining what he had just done and for how much. in regards of apt, few would say anything other than "none more apt" if Mr Ambassador, John Terry, were employed to endorse a particular type of sanitary product. few who it was intended for would chose to use it, i suppose, but you get the general idea here.

Larrybaby's pasta sauce was, of course, immensely cheap, hence the purchase. as was, as point of fact, this next item. the wording on the bottle drew me in. like a tractor beam. yes, like that tractor beam. the one that sucked in the carpenter, the nancy boy, that massive dog, the tin man, the bin and the respected actor.

the phrase, the concept and the idea of 'natural instant coffee' is one that i have existed without experiencing before, truth be told. i was unaware that a brand of coffee that is instant grew as one with nature in this world of ours. my understanding was it was all beans and plants and that which got crushed, knacked and otherwise "processed" into the instant coffee we all know and love. yes, indeed, dear reader, i also have had one or two friends, let us call them of a quite p!ssy nature, that have argued instant coffee should not be called "coffee" as it has not been plucked by virgins, crushed in accordance with some sort of tradition and ritual then shoved in a filter. well, f*** them. it's coffee.

this natural instant coffee is indeed very much a thing that i have tried since purchase. and it is one that i would not wish to taste again. instant coffee, in its natural state, appears to taste of chicory and all sorts of other such rubbish. horrid stuff it is. a bit like a low class version of "Ace" coffee that one could at one stage get on the shelves in stores in South Africa.

the jar has been moved more or less out of harm's way, then. it is not getting thrown out, however. not a chance. i paid 99p for it in good faith and i thus intend to make use of it. i suspect people that visit who i wish to leave may be offered a cup of it. or i might work out a way to send it to Spiros in London (innit). if it does not get to him it means some sort of constabulary or authority has seized it to examine it for dodgy things and then maybe they can tell me what it actually is. if it makes it to him, well, so much the better, the chaps in Grantham or wherever might think it tastes really, really nice. fhaaaakkin laverly, innit, or something like that.

oh yeah, i bought other things too, but of a practical, non-directly sports endorsed nature. things that are, i have been so bold as to presume, unlikely to been of any immediate or remote interest to you, dear reader. bread is, after all, bread.

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