Monday, June 29, 2015

FIFA Under 20 match and Tauranga City United

hi there

just a quick update whilst i hang around in the hope of hot water being restored to the home, look you see.

as regular readers here are aware, images from New Zealand are a rare thing, despite the disproportionately high level of family i have that live in the place. i have always taken it as that the people of Aotearoa have a healthy distrust of digital images in general, and specifically about sending them by this new fangled "electronic mail" business.

still, every now and then one or two images come my way, and when it is appropriate to do so i take great pleasure, indeed delight, in sharing them here. like, for instance, this one.

that is indeed my Dad with the celebrated, widely respected referee Howard Webb. both were in Hamilton for the Under 20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Portugal.

football, or if you like soccer, is becoming an ever increasingly popular sport down in Aotearoa, which is impressive considering the nation's supremacy at rugby and outstanding qualities in the game of cricket.

New Zealand were, of course, famously the only team to finish the 2010 World Cup undefeated. the winners, Spain, lest we forget, managed to lose their first match to Switzerland, a game that the Swiss chap Sepp Blatter watched after having a "good luck" meeting with the various officials charged with ensuring that a fair result was achieved in the game.

those wishing to see and learn more of football in New Zealand could do a lot worse than visit the Tauranga City United website, which features some as excellent as usual photography by my Dad.  just click on the name of the team and off you go.

thanks for the update, Dad, and i hope you had a smart time at the match!

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

old english hunt

hi there

my goodness, dear reader. i must be very careful, look you see, as i type the name of this, the most recent marmalade from Fortnum & Mason i have had the privilege of tasting, lest an erroneous keystroke sees my blog being flagged for foul and obscene language.

i have completed my sample, taster or if you like specimen jar of Fortnum & Mason's lavish Sir Nigel's Orange Marmalade. it was a most splendid of thing, and made my breakfast on a weekend quite agreeable. the time, then, has dawned for me to proceed to the next, rather centrally positioned, style or fashion of marmalade from my superb three jar set which they let me purchased from them.

hurrah, dear reader, and hooray, for it seems that blogger has permitted these images from that Apple thing to be presented in their correct rotation. not even google, it would seem, would dare defy what Fortnum & Mason consider to be the correct presentation of their provisions.

i have only so far had two slices of toast with Old English Hunt marmalade on. they were, however, two of the finest slices of toast that i have ever indulged in. the taste sensation, which was instantaneous, allowed my senses to experience a higher class, if you like superior, form of existence in which much of my purpose in life was to ride upon a horse in a smart red jacket, commanding a pack of suitable dogs to pursue and dispose of an unruly fox.  the part of this life which is, to me, exciting, would be throwing a coin at a peasant and instructing them to fetch me a peasant at once.

the label upon the jar speaks precisely of this, stating that the recipe for Old English Hunt marmalade as presented here dates to the mid 17th Century, during which it was consumed as a provision by those who engaged in the Pytchley Hunt. a, if you will, pre-hunt treat. i am proud to have become part of this rich history.

an image of the Old English Hunt in Commodore 64 mode? i do not see why not, although i have observed that Commodore 64 mode camera does not work as well upon the iPhone as it does upon the iPod. that is possibly because, to this day, the iPod remains the only actual, proper and decent thing which Apple have sold to the world.

i have, as you can see, only a limited amount of Old English Hunt marmalade at my disposal. i shall, i assure you, cherish each moment i have with it. as for more provisions from Fortnum & Mason, well, i may travel to london once more, although now that i have been granted tacit permission from the proprietor to purchase items from them, i may well dabble with a spot of online request placement.

my Monday would seem to be all about getting hot water restored to the home. i trust that your Monday is a most splendid one, and that you are already plentiful and satisfied in the realm of reverse cold water.

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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

rock trumps

hello there

whilst out shopping today, which did indeed involve allowing a 9 year old to select a type of petrol and put it in the car, look you see (it's ok, he was not smoking at the time), i stumbled upon some most magnificent card based games. i purchased not one, not three, but two of the several i saw, and thought i would show off just the one for now.

i'd like to think that the intellectually gifted types which i attract to this blog have worked out already which one off of the title of this post.

yes, that's right - Rock Trumps is the card game i am showing off here. i paid £1 for the set, which i felt to be a bargain. that would certainly seem to be all the more of the case, looking at the £4.95 plus postage it costs over on amazon.

what is it? a, and i would be pretty sure this is all unauthorized, version of Top Trumps, only with rock stars rather than, say, tanks, planes or cars. basically, related things (in this case rock stars) are awarded points on factors. you deal the deck amongst all players, call a value and challenge others to say the one on the card in front of them. whoever has the highest number wins the cards.

rock stars here - 52 of them - are rated and ranked on : hit factor, output, legendary status, bad hair days (no me neither), volume and, of course, sex, drugs rock n roll.  that is the criteria, after all upon which rock legends are rated, discussed and ranked amongst us, the humble fans who idolise them. well, most of them.

indeed this picture has been taken with my shiny new iTwat phone, and with Commodore 64 camera mode well on. you may want to appreciate, dear reader, the rotation of this image. blogger clearly does not like apple, and so most of the pictures that follow have been flipped, turned or rotated.

it features many, many great rock stars and, as we shall sort of see, some crap ones too.  it does not, alas, feature the chap who recently declared himself to be "the greatest living rock star in the world", a declaration which could well be true, assuming some 150 to 200 better qualified actual rock stars all died last night and the press has not gotten around to reporting them all. but let's look at who we get.

first off, then, two of the more bizarre inclusions for "rock stars" in a set of 52 cards.

if i mention the fact that there's no Slash, no David Lee Roth, no Robert Plant and no one off of, say, Pink Floyd or Deep Purple in the deck, i think you get the gist of why these two are strange inclusions. as it happens, both rank fairly low in the important category of sex, drugs, rock n roll. both are under 10%, which is a shame considering that Bono owns (or owned) a club called Mr Pussy, and Sting is roundly celebrated for all that "tantric" business he gets to to with his apparently very difficult to please wife. 

sorry about the pics being upside down; blame it on the bad relationship between google and blogger.

now, then. i should be watching The Who right now, but the BBC have opted not to show them live. it seems such an honour as that was to be extended to Kanye this year. what a brilliant use of the budget. still, here two of The Who feature in the deck, with one of them still being alive.

space within a 52 card deck was limited, i suppose, and Keith Moon was a bit of a formality. but Pete? why him over Daltrey, who would happily down a bottle of brandy, start a fight and do a storming gig, or John Entwistle,  who granted was considered to be the most boring member of the band, right up until the point he was found dead in a Vegas hotel room, surrounded by hookers and coke.

with space limited you can understand that not all of great bands can feature. that does not, however, stop one from being somewhat baffled by certain representations of bands.

Commodore 64 mode? surely, for that can only make these two far, far cooler than they could ever hope to be in real life, despite their oddly high score in the world of rock trumps.

really? Ace Frehley being designated as the best choice to represent Kiss in this collection? are they sure that he's more rock than Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley? as for Eddie Van Halen, well, he's someone that gave his name to a great band and then patented something or other you stick on a guitar. when one thinks of Van Halen, one thinks David Lee Roth. who does not feature here.

here you go, here are these two in non-Commodore 64 mode so you can see how sad they are.

which two rock stars, you might ask, score the highest in the deck? well, Lemmy does not do too badly at all, but overall it would be, upside down thanks to that blogger / apple argument, these two. 

both are without question giants of all things rock, but methinks that some of the scoring is somewhat high. Ozzy Osborne 100% for sex, drugs, rock n roll, for instance? that means they consider him to be more rock and roll than, say, Keith Richards, and to have a better sex record than Prince. hmn. as for Axl, well, a timely reminder of what a great he could have been if only he had a manager to force him to work.

i'd like to think that the scoring and ratings in this game are deliberately bizarre and somewhat controversial. we had immense fun, my (considerably) better half and i, playing this, and a lot of the fun was drawn from a debate over certain ratings. some of them are certainly conversation starters.

well worth picking up if you can find it at the price i did or not far off of it, if you were wondering!

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

the kanye conundrum

hi there

i do, dear reader, wonder if there's any point at all to this post. over the years for some reason, look you see, anything i've written about the ways of Glastonbury seems to have been looked upon with interest (thanks), so i suppose it's apt that i have a gander at yesterday's talking point. i somehow doubt that anything i have to add, however, will win favour with either the lovers or haters of Saturday's headline act, but then again i suppose it's rather rare that i in favour with anyone.

booking Kanye West was, of course, the Glastonbury Festival organizers latest half-arsed, random attempt to project an image of being relevant, 'controversial' and embracing multiculturalism. in respect of the latter, every year now seems to feature a random black american act selected on the basis that one of the Eavis family has noticed them in Horse & Hound or some other such publication.

the backlash - online petitions and what have you - was well documented, and were based partially on the basis that this Kanye is not a particularly pleasant person (i know little of him so i have no idea) but mostly because his music is, shall we say, "not festival material".

well, he turned up, he "performed", and it's all over now. there was no no-show, there was no storming off, there were no mass protests visible in the crowd that turned up to see him.

of all the 'controversy' around his booking, i still feel the very worst came from the Eavis family in justifying his booking. they issued, as i've mentioned somewhere here before, an audacious right wing, Thatcher like statement in which they demanded everyone accept that they knew what was best and should be respected without question. the best, as in most amusing, part of their defence statement was "why can't everyone just say how amazing it is we have Kanye West coming to our farm in Somerset?". yes, brilliant - it must have been a tough sell, that. if you assume there are not many acts in the world that could be tempted with a fee of $250,000 for 90 minutes work, plus worldwide broadcasting (advertising) via the BBC. 

on to the set, or performance, then. the thing which surprised me the most, to be honest, was how many of his songs i had heard before - i think that's thanks to Ben at verk playing them.

the other surprise, more relevant to the actual show he did, was just what an astonishing lack of ability he has as a showman.

if you're going to walk out on a stage mostly alone, then best you have the courage of your convictions to be the centre of attention. Kanye talks like he has that, but his show says that he does not.

the set was a whole load of stage lights positioned ludicrously low, cutting the height of the stage lower than half of usual. masses of smoke generators more or less obscured him, but ultimately they were not necessary to hide him as he for the most part lurked as far back on the stage as he could. is he really that shy?

here's a little video of his act, then. a snippet in which, between the mumbles, he seems to go all potty mouthed. so you've been warned in advance before you click play.

i appreciate that, being over 40, a honky and quite English, i am not exactly the target or intended audience for Kanye. that said, with the BBC opting to offer this to me as entertainment paid for via the licence fee, and him booked for a festival most commonly associated with rock, i thought i had better have a watch and a listen to see what it was all about, then. and herein lies the problem with Kanye.

his music, and let's just for the sake of argument call it that, doesn't really ever do anything. instrumentally, or rather sampled, wise, it's unimaginative and far removed from what creativity is in fact possible, whether you use computers or traditional instruments. the lack of creativity stems into the lyrics, which for the most part seem to be about nothing at all. i mean, there's no anger, no social commentary, no humour, no entertainment, not real interest sparked by any of it.

it's not that his potty mouth ways are the problem, either. i am pretty sure i, and most music fans, can handle casual obscenities as and when they arise, but here they are just thrust in as if they mean something in themselves. his much vaunted, thanks to Johnnie Cochran for the way to word it, use of the "n word" isn't all that much either - it's not passive, dynamic, provocative or meaningful, instead just appearing as a sort of "oh yeah, i am a black american hip hop rap sort of thing, best i use the word" thing.

yes, the above is once again mostly what you saw on tv of Kanye's Glastonbury stage design. i am not at all sure if this is standard for him. as far as a festival goes, it's kind of hard for the many thousands of fans to see the stage as it is, so making it more compact and covered isn't really being fair to them.

a bit more video? sure, here he is doing whatever it is he does.

a great many people, and if we are honest i am included in that, were watching on the off chance that the whole thing did end in the massive trainwreck people were predicting. early on, it has to be said, it looked very close to happening.

a lot of the early stages of the set featured Kanye - or what you could see of him - looking confused, bewildered and baffled by one of the two earpieces he had in. one song needed to be restarted at least twice, perhaps three times, due to technical faults and, of course, due to some sort of stage invader bothering Mr West as he did his thing.

Kanye's the one that likes going on stage and taking awards away from white people, saying they should have gone to black people that he likes, isn't he? if that's the one, then i suppose there's some wry, borderline irony to this comedian fella getting in on the act. although the whole thing looked and felt far too contrived not to be entirely staged.

a bit more of the smoke and shadows that Kanye hid behind? in a video? sure.

another thing which took me by surprise as i watched was his startling lack of interaction or engagement with his audience. other than trying to be as invisible as possible on stage, he didn't acknowledge the crowd at all. no hello, no cheers, no waves. the only dialogue between tracks was aimed at the stage crew, demanding (with profanities) that the lighting rigs be lowered or raised, and suggesting that certain songs be started again. in regards of the latter, i am unsure if it was technical faults or a more astonishing than anyone thought lack of talent and professionalism. as the songs were frequently out of synch with the lights and effects, however, i am going to assume technical.

here he is having a nice lie down. not sure why, certainly not from exhaustion.

when he did engage with the audience, however, it gave every sense of someone out of their depth. his musings and mumblings scream "little boy lost", lacking all of this confidence and supremacy i had been led to believe he oozed in abundance.

here, if you can make it out, is some of the mumbling he condescended to share with the audience.

from what i could work out he was saying that the next song would go on as long as it had to, and not the "two minutes" it usually gets on radio. he was also explaining how the song was the epic love poetry thing he phoned his now-wife with to swoon and seduce her. to that end, i had no idea that socialites were so easily swayed and now that i do know it makes little difference to me.

it was around about this point that i discovered Suede, one of several bands who perhaps should have been headlining the main stage instead, was on another channel, so i switched to them.

my experience of Kanye's music was that it relies far, far, far too much on that autotune, voice synthesiser thing that Cher used on her Believe single. it's as nauseating here as it can be, and the sharp, tinny sounds he generates with it ensure a headache is never far away from the audience. i very much doubt i shall be exploring the Kanye catalogue in the future, then.

here is a bit of him, and someone i have never heard of that Kanye reckons is "the coolest white guy in the music industry", channelling Cher with some annoying voice synthesiser tricks.

i am tired of this argument that people who object to Kanye, or protested against him being at Glastonbury, are somewhat racist as a consequence. no, they are not. black dudes that don't dig U2, or Springsteen, or even Motorhead, are not declared racist. people who don't like the music of Elton John or George Michael are not automatically homophobic. and on and on. the insane amount of money Kanye has made through album sales suggests there is a market for whatever he is doing. the point is, as his lack of charisma and wanting performance underlined, that he's not really effective on a stage at a festival.

i'm glad i saw what i did of him, as now i know. i am disappointed to find that there really is next to no value, interest or entertainment in what he does, alas. it would have been splendid if this had kicked open the door to some new vibes for me, but not to be. long may he speak to those who like to hear what he has to say, and congratulations to him for being a success at it.
i can't think who this post might be of interest or use to, but if the clips and pictures have been of interest then nice one, and thanks for reading.

for the record, yes i love The Who, yes i will probably watch them tonight and i really think that it's going to be a disappointment. hopefully i am wrong.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

bus book bonus

hi there

well, what do you know. do to the selections i made, look you see, i managed to finish two books in one week of bus travels to and from verk. no, journeys were not longer nor delayed in any way (except maybe Monday, on which trip the driver wished to argue with a patron as to what did and did not constitute as a £1 coin), it's just that these were fairly quick reading. apparently.

a quick look at them, followed by a spoiler free review? and why not.

in regards of a quick, spoiler free overview, Caedmon's Song is an ok read for people interested in seeing what Peter Robinson does with a novel that does not feature DCI Banks. Theodore Boone is marketed and intended for readers roughly a third of my age, but those of us who have enjoyed reading John Grisham for the last 25 or so years will not be let down too much.

onwards, then, and *** POSSIBLE SPOILERS *** lie ahead. you have been warned, continue with caution then. and links, as usual, are for ease of use, and not an endorsement or affiliation to a preferred supplier, thank you very much.

on to Caedmon's Song, which i bought for £2 off of Tesco recently. it was by about page 60 that i clocked his usual protagonist, or perhaps frequent antagonist, DCI Banks did not feature.

plot? two stories. one is of a student attacked by a maniac at the end of a term, the other is a mysterious lady who has turned up in Whitby, of all places, with a mysterious mission. are the tales interlinked? but of course they are. how far they are and why is, well, perhaps best for you to read, or work out after, again, 60 or so pages.

the most interesting thing about this novel, perhaps, is that absolutely no one involved with getting it as far as the shelves gave anything close to a good f*** about it. as far as i can work out it was only ever published in Canada for many years. in the clumsy notes from the author at the end, it seems that this was kicking about since the late 80s, but only published in England circa 2000 or so, presumably to cash in on the success of DCI Banks novels and TV adaptations. in his notes the author mentions that he "could have neatened up or edited" the novel before it eventually emerged, but more or less states that he could not be bothered, citing of all things nostalgia for Crocodile Dundee as a reason not to. the publisher was also less than bothered about effort, hence the spine having Caedmon' rather than Caedmon's Song as the title. and Tesco, pricing it at £2, are presumably not expecting this to produce epic profits for them.

as is the case with the other four novels i have read, Peter Robinson here insists on setting as much of this one in pubs as he can. the ending is ambiguous to the point of being not at all satisfactory, with no clear conclusion. and yet, dear reader, it's worth a go at the price it is on offer for.

Theodore Boone was one of those rare Grisham novels that i had not read within weeks of it being first published. it was aimed at "younger readers" so i gave it a miss. i, however, spotted it on sale down at the library, so thought yeah, why not.

plot? the thirteen year old son of two lawyers fancies himself as a lawyer in the making. to this end, he's quite familiar with fair bits of the law, and rather friendly with courtroom staff and so forth. the sleepy town in which he lives in has its first murder trial for years, and so he makes every effort to watch proceedings and follows. and then he is told a secret that could turn the course of events in what verdict is reached.....

it's a fast and sometimes flimsy read, but i would imagine that, aged 12 or so, i would have thought this to have an amazing amount of detail in it. there is certainly, be warned, no detail in the end, which sort of just happens rather than being reached. perhaps an actual conclusion to the events here comes up in one of the four books featuring the Theodore Boone character that have come along since. i don't know, but if i ever spot them in a sale or something i would imagine i would pick them up and find out.

if you have an early teens child that has an interest in reading, this would indeed be most boss for them. yes it involves references to crime, but there's a staggering lack of graphic details so fear not. Grisham's ace writing style, which makes even his dullest novels (The Last Juror, that one that was in Italy where it was all pasta eating and i can't remember the name of it) worth reading to the end, is present, so it's not like it is a total no-go for us all grown up, adult readers.

so there we go - two quick to read novels which could have been a great deal worse than they were, but fine for what entertainment and interest they presented.

what to read next? well, on friday i picked up something at WH Smith called Sister by Rosamund Lumpton. it looked interesting enough, but i was rather more intrigued by the pricing. if i bought it on its own, right, it would have cost be £8.99. if i bought it with another novel, the price would have dropped to £4.49. if, however, i bought it at the same time as i bought a 55p copy of the Daily Express, it came in at all of £1.

i was rather looking forward to starting the above on Monday, but it would appear that's out the window as i believe i will rather need to be around to oversee hot water being restored to the home. it is quite a handy thing to have, a cold shower this morning explained.

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

verk cuisine

hi there

some of you, it is entirely possible, may well wonder just what and how it is we all eat at verk as and when it is time to consume some food. conventionally, look you see, would be a pretty safe answer. as things stand, precisely no one has ever enquired on a general basis, although from time to time one or two have asked about a specific meal on a specific day.

should for some reason some of you wish to have a look, or if you prefer a bit of a gander, at some of the things eaten as and when, this post is for you. although, in fairness, do be warned, for there's probably more of what is drunk than what is eaten.

all week this week at verk i had been propositioned with an increasingly intricate fashions of green tea to try. today was friday, and my polite refusal was rejected, with it being made clear to me that my declining of the green teas was being taken offence to. i agreed, then, to try some of this mango & lychee green tea, although i was always led to believe it was spelt "litchi". unless they are two separate things.

who was it that made the requests that i rebuffed until such time as they took umbrage and exception to the point that i tried some? Chris. Chris declined the opportunity to be pictured with the tea, for he was having none of appearing on a blog he knew nothing of. also, i am pretty sure he wished to remain anonymous in his capacity as tea benefactor, so i shall mention him no more.

am i particularly interested or enthusiastic about green tea in general, or specifically green tea with hints, elements and gestures of random fruits thrown in to make it seem all post and fancy? not particularly, no. as point of fact i think this is only the second or third time i have drank the stuff, with this at least being fairly close to being by choice.

in order to best enjoy and appreciate the green tea with all that stuff in it, it was of course time to call upon an old friend that had been shoved in a cupboard at verk, used as and when someone needed to borrow a mug and absolutely no others were available.

yes, my smart 1D mug, celebrating 1D, my most favourite bestest, like totes awesome band ever. we have, not that you can see it here, modified it as far as putting a massive cross over the face of the one that quit. one of the cadets in the office pointed out to me which one had left, which was kind. they also told me the name of that one, but i have forgotten.

how was the tea? it was all right, i suppose. it did not cause offence, but it was not some sort of revelatory experience. i certainly shall not be giving up coffee, or proper tea, for it any time soon, put it that way. 

Chris, who i won't mention by name as i cannot recall his expressed wish on anonymity precisely, got rather excited about this business of me doing things and taking images of them, for the most part, simply to post here and write things about them. to this end he was rather insistent, in a sort of "break bread" sort of thing i suppose that i try some of these crisps.

what flavour are these crisps? a combination of smoked monterrery chilli and goats cheese, the packet says. indeed they do strike me as somewhat unnatural bedfellows, but there it is.

how were they? rather spicy for my liking, but i did manage to finish off a good percentage of the packaging.

as for a meal of more substance, if you wish to know i was able to secure a placement and order at McDonalds earlier today. i mention it as a fascinating thing happened, or if you like occurred, whilst i was there. as i sat to eat, a young lady with hair as splendid as it was varied in shade, sat four or five seats away from me, gave me a look that suggested she believed i had just p!ssed on her golden french fries, stood up, collected her meal and sat elsewhere. i am unsure if either my scent or appearance caused this, or the fact that i elected to sit so far away from her caused such distress. either way, my Big Mac was not too bad, thanks.

right, i am quite tire and, weirdly, presently without hot water. i shall call it quits for now, then, and see what matters compel me to write further over the weekend. most likely more book reviews, after that, well, at this stage i know not.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

train adventures

hello there

well, for some reason the train adventures i embarked upon during the mid-to-latter parts of 2013 were exceptionally popular with many of you. if that's the kind of thing you all want, look you see, let me then close the curtains on my recent foray into london with a a rather large post on my thoughts, feelings and experiences on the trains to and from london.

there will be a lot of pictures here, i think, possibly more than i have anything to write about. let's have a go all the same, dear reader, and see where it ends ups.

be warned, for there are a lot of selfies. apparently taking a selfie is the most homosexual thing a man can do, like, totes ever. to be honest, i dispute this, as several things that Spiros has told me sound rather more like what i would expect gents of that nature to do, but anyhow.

and no, i most certainly did not encourage or solicit Spiros to tell me of such exploits.

here we go, here's the start of the train journey to london. i took the bus earlier to this to get in the area of the train station itself, but did not take pictures.

yeah, that's pretty much a picture of a train pulling into one of the more cosmopolitan  stations you will find in England, dear reader. they only have shops on the one platform. in fairness, mind, on the other platform you are mere footsteps away from the Bongo.

this train went from where i was all the way to the glamour and pizazz of York, no less, where i would be expected to change to another train; one of them off of Sir Richard Branson, as it happens. i had all sorts of concerns about this, but for now here's a selfie of me - i think - at a station on the way to York, which one i do not recall, sorry.

and indeed, so we can get it all out in the open and over and done with, here is some video off of the train on the way to York, or possibly from York off to london. i know it is one of the two from the direction it's moving, and the side of the train i was on.

my biggest concern about the whole trip was changing trains at York. i had, assuming everything ran on schedule, ten minutes to get from the train to York and on to the right platform for the one for london. i was worried that this might not be enough time, for York is massive and York train station is even more massive. i mean, as in Jamaica massive. no, i've not been to Jamaica and i have no idea how big it is, but that sounds like a really smart, awe inspiring comparison.

to settle my nerves, then, i took an image of the National Railway Museum, which is based in York, and which i took the presence of to be a sign that we would soon be in York. 

as it turned out, this particular concern of mine was put at ease very quickly. the train was on time, and it was the next platform to where we docked, or whatever a train does, that i needed to be on. plenty of time to stand around, have speaks with some people from California that for some reason thought Scotland was brilliant and that it was obscene that i had not been to london for 25 years and, of course, take a selfie to prove that i stood in York train station.

archaeologists  or similar who dig this up a thousand years from now and translate this text, you make of the above what you will.

on to the train that was to take me from York all the way to london, then. and the discovery that a lady had elected to sit in the seat which was reserved for me and marked as being reserved for me. she was most gracious, and indeed condescending, as she removed herself from my seat, doing only the merest of "tut tut" noises and commenting about how good she was letting me sit in the seat that i had paid for and was reserved for me. what a samaritan and a martyr; let us hope she has an honour off of the Queen soon.

also, i totes did not remove the reserved tag, one which i noted at the time says you get a £200 fine if you remove. i read that on it at the time and not after the fact.

despite having never previously been to the place before, i weirdly know of a great, great many excellent people who are based in the place they call Peterborough. i thought it would only be fair and appropriate for me to take a picture of me, or if you like moi, with the Peterborough train station sign visible.

how did i find riding the Virgin "express" train off of Sir Richard Branson to london from York? ok, really. on the way there i did not purchase anything to eat or drink, mostly as the steward that was doing the trolley just ran up and down the aisle thing as quick as he could, having little or no interest in serving the gentry or the ladies with any of the smart looking wares he had.

after a couple of ours or so, then (i read for most of it, although i was ready to hear more off of that wonderful woman if she wanted to further elaborate on how lucky i was) i was in london. well, King's Cross train station, which is essentially a massive train station in london, so same thing.

bloody packed it was, too. a very busy place, that london is, with the train stations in particular seeming to be some sort of magnet. a magnet, granted, mostly for people wishing to undertake travel by train.

it was particularly pleasing to me to be docking at Kings Cross, dear reader, as it allowed me to fulfil yet another london based ambition. for many, many years i have dreamed of visiting each and every single train station which has the same name as a song title off of the second album by the Pet Shop Boys.

yes, that is indeed another apparently gayboy selfie of me outside Kings Cross, and indeed yes that is me wearing the legendary, if not infamous Zama jacket, which my good friend Zama got for me off of the back of some taxi rank in downtown Johannesburg.

the jacket did not get worn too much after that, like, due to the insane levels of humidity that the city of london bestows upon all who walk in the place.

we are half way, as in that is all the journey to london. some practical advice for people heading towards london, in particular off of the train? certainly.

i, under recommendation, used that the train line lot to purchase my tickets with. this is despite their frankly bizarre approach to advertising which sees them focus mostly on things which they are crap at.

would i endorse them? yes, and i would certainly back up the comments everyone has said, which is book as soon as you can. my own fee went up some £20 - £30 pounds purely because i waited a week longer before booking.

the price you see on screen for your tickets, of course, is not the final price you pay. do you remember that smart film Carry On Camping? where that shifty looking campsite owner charged £1 extra for everything you asked for? that is the way of The Train Line. but still, the costs are fine. my trip to london and back cost just slightly north of £100, even with their £1 add ons.

as for london itself, for the tube and the buses, please make sure you order one of them smart looking oyster tourist and visitor cards before you go. your daily costs are capped with it. if you tried to pay for each trip separately, or at the rate that the people of london paid, and you did all the stuff what i did, the arse of your wallet will be bleeding for many months to come.

and then, after my adventures, it was time to return home. 

yeah, that's one of them nancy boy selfies of me before on of the many massive display board things that Kings Cross has to show you what train is docking where. massive and expensive looking, they are - probably bought with the royalties off of that Pet Shop Boys song.

Spiros very kindly kicked me out of his home at such a time that i had over an hour to kill at Kings Cross. what did i do? smoked, mostly. also went to Starbucks, and discovered that Starbucks is as much of a twat concept in london as it is anywhere else. they insist on writing your name on your cup instead of just serving you, and they somehow conspired to get "lee" wrong.

i also bought a cinnamon swirl off a lovely lad on the market outside Kings Cross, and indeed a jam donut. boss, they were, and so they want to be for a combined cost of £5.

further, i got to listen to, if not endure, the element of london which people loathe, despise and hate. yes, the privileged, spoilt and indulged toffee nosed offspring of the ruling elite. these terrible teens i were near and had to listen to for i was in a smoking spot were apparently due to fly somewhere. despite having arrived at the airport a good two hours before their flight, they got so busy shopping at the airport that they missed their flight, hence them being at the train station. shame. the cynical side of me might take comfort in the fact that all of them are merely one really good stock market crash away from becoming crack whores down Leicester Square.

what else did i do at Kings Cross? spent 30p to access their toilets, and was greeted by a Turkish gent who looked most enthusiastic to be a quasi-guard with his mop. also, i visited the shop for Platform 9 3/4, a celebration of where Harry Potter got the train in the books and films to his school. can't remember the names of the books or films that feature Harry Potter; i think it was Wizards or something.

and then it was time to get on the train to not York but Darlington, for that train line lot had decided that the trip back would be more efficient if i went via Darlo.

from here on out it is all selfies, so if that's going to upset you, or you have simply grown tired of shouting "gayboy" or similar at your screen every time you see one, you might well want to call it quits now, and thank you very much for making it this far.

and so, here i am.

i did indeed sample the wares of the Virgin Trains cuisine on the way home. what did i have? a plastic cup of Yorkshire Tea and a bag of crisps, traditional English cheese and onion flavour. the cost? £4, or just north of that. yes, the costs of food and drink on trains is as high as people speculate. you are welcome to take your own food and drink with you - as point of fact some people on the early train to York, now that i think, were washing down pork pies with what appeared to be neat vodka - and i would suggest you do that.

no, alas, dear reader, i did not have the benefit of a lady telling me how lucky i was to be sitting in the seat which was reserved for me. i did, however, have the dubious pleasure of experiencing what a total fanny and nancy boy Sir Richard Branson has become.

Branson, dear reader, likes to project himself as some sort of rebel; a wild card that breaks the rules and inspires others to think freely and follow their dreams. the only barrier on this, apparently, is your imagination and a spot of signal failure.

the train had to stop a couple of times on the way out of london due to signal failures. i would expect the driver of a train of Sir Richard Branson to follow his lead, say "f*** you i am going" and accelerate, not slow down, for rules are there to be broken if you want to be a billionaire and own an island the size of Jamaica, or similar. that was not the case, hence the stops.

as a result, i missed my connecting train home by about a minute, and thus got to spend more time in Darlington train station that i would have particularly chosen to.

as it is colder in the north - or if you like proper England - than it is in london, here's a selfie of me in Darlington train station wearing the fabled Zama jacket.

it was only 20 minutes or so that i had to wait for the next train, but that's not the point. due to the nature and structure of my train tickets i was unable to leave the station, and it was only outside of the station that a chap could smoke. so i had to spend 20 minutes in Darlington station smoke free.

the WH Smith in Darlington train station, i observed, sold porn, which i briefly considered buying as a replacement for smoking. i do not get why they sell that at a train station, yet not at their standard retail branches in, for example, Middlesbrough.

after 20 porn and smoke free minutes, then, it was on the train home.

and that's pretty much that. phew, that's a lot of writing. hopefully some if not all of it is interesting, and not just mindless waffle.

yes, dear reader, yes i do very much look forward to my next train adventure. it would be smart to get down to london again, of course, but who knows where next the tracks will take me?

thanks as ever for reading.

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

spider, spew and cyclist

hello there

yes, yes, look you see, if i am of a mind to i will finish off the london story later tonight; its completion dependent on me releasing images and video of the train ride to and from the place. just make do with all of this, if you will, and i will get to the train when i can.

it was during a reasonably hard earned break at verk, when i was indeed enjoying a cigarette, that i noticed something i had seen before and considered taking some images of. so here we go.

on the wall near verk, every now and then we get these little, red dot like spider things roaming around. they could be infant ladybird things, i suppose, but it's more impressive and far sexier to suggest that they are spiders.

i do indeed appreciate that the quality is not so great in this image. yeah, i probably should start using the itwat, and taking the best ever pictures of little red insects, or whatever spiders are (arachno or something) that have been taken in commodore 64 mode.

what are these insects? beats me. my best guess is that they are some sort of infant things - cubs, if you like - that shall grow and change colour so they are not all bright so red as they go off and do whatever it is that they do.

actually, they are based quite close to that class expression of love graffiti that so many of you were all excited by. it could be that they are all some sort of sex crabs things then, or perhaps another form of socially unacceptable life that passes between lovers or those overwhelmed with impulsive urges.

that video of them which i mentioned? now? surely.

if they are some sort of "sex spiders", then i doubt very much that they came from our verk. we are a moral, almost puritan, clean living bunch, and would not abide by such things. mostly.

what's this image? it's of london. Spiros, bless him, sent it on to me earlier today.

oh yes, if you are thinking that this image looks like a load of spew, that would be because it is. and it was, it looks, jettisoned by someone with some fury and passion.

who does, or perhaps did,belong to? not Spiros. as far as Spiros could work out there were several cans (empty) of an unspecified fruit cider quite close to the spew. it could be, then, that this is the handy work of that smart bloke who really likes flowerbeds and is employed in some capacity by the leading transport company operating for london, the name of which escapes me for the moment.

now, then, a bit of controversy, and sort of linked to london. in my time in the city last week, i read in the many free papers they have of a bloke that went around on his bicycle taking pictures of people who ate cereal as they drove. unsurprisingly, the week ended with a report of someone being knocked off their bicycle by someone who was eating cereal as they drove. by all accounts, the cyclist was attempting to take a picture of what the driver was doing.

there is this impression, then, that cyclists are all perfect, have some holier than thou status and can just do as they please. in actual fact, many, many cyclists are complete twats.

like, for instance, mister weave and wave you can see here, who delayed my bus journey by north of ten minutes.

i am not sure how well you can make it out, but he's busy talking away on his phone as he cycles, despite a big massive bus behind him.

my point, i guess, is that if it were the driver of a car i had pictured doing the above, everyone would be all at it, demanding they be arrested and possibly exiled to the colonies. not all cyclists are perfect, then, just as not all drivers are bad. twats are, and always will be, twats, no matter what sort of vehicle they command.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

itwat progress

hello there

well, what can i say. my foray into the world of the itwat device has caused, look you see, some excitement around the world. some have very kindly and graciously welcomed me to the 21st century as a consequence, and a number have said that i will "love it" as and when it works. others, perhaps not with as much grace as you may think, have declared me to be a class traitor, a sell out, a hypocrite and someone that they will sh!t in the face of if they ever saw again, but i kind of think they'd want to do that no matter what sort of phone i happened to use.

as it happens i am still very much on the blueberry. it is, after all, a proper phone, as it has buttons. but sill, i shall do my best to get the iphone that Spiros kindly gave me up and running, and perhaps might even use at some stage.

in respect of the former, it does now seem to be up and running at the least, hence the update.

yes. it merely took setting up an older version of itwat on a 64 bit windows driven machine to convince samsung or whoever to let me download the very latest in ios excellence to run on this particular device. an inexpensive, perfectly normal and every day thing to expect you to do really - all other phone makers are missing a trick with all their fast, efficient "plug and play" nonsense.

not that we were done, of course. the fact that i had plugged in, verified and added the itwat phone to the computer and confirmed or if you like authorised it on the computer was not quite good enough for them people in California that hire Chinese children to do most of the work. no, i was required to press something on the phone that said i trusted the computer.

unfortunately, at the time it asked for all of this stuff to be done, the itwat handset was busy showing off a smart, shiny apple logo and an oh so slow progress line to indicate how it was making it all better by updating. i had to wait a couple of cigarettes before i could go ahead.

i quite like this next bit. Apple requesting a display or a gesture of trust is highly amusing on practically every level you care to name, is it not?

this whole idea of the phone asking if i trust the computer i've just plugged it into is stupid. what are the alternates here? that someone stole the phone, right, plugged it into the computer and then when got confronted with this had a change of heart? or that after i had plugged it in i got a blast of short term memory loss, couldn't remember doing so, got scared and confused by the mystery computer all of a sudden in front of me and thus got thankful that Apple saved me the trouble of blindly trusting it by their question?

i bought one of them 3, or if you like three, pay as you go sim cards for this handset, by the way. there was no way i was going to start using my regular number on it straight off the bat, and besides i thought it would allow me the opportunity to test another network provider here in England. my thoughts so far? i really want to like 3, or if you like three, because they sponsor the cricket and that. so far, however, my thoughts are that they are called what they are due to the fact that there are three words in the phrase "really sh!t signal". service and coverage where i am is truly awful.

i also thought that it might be a good idea to set up a shiny new email address on the off chance that i wanted to set up email on the itwat. i was well impressed with the email address that i was able to create to this end. i appreciate putting it here, even in picture form, opens the door to spam, but it's not like i will be using it all that often.

what is the password for that email account? truthfully, i haven't got a f*****g clue. i just hit a whole load of keys on the keyboard, cut, paste and pressed send. if for some reason i ever need to know what the password is i will just get in touch with them people at yahoo or wherever; i am certain if not confident that they will have absolutely nothing better to do than see if they can't work it out and let me know what it is as and when they get the chance to do so. 

so, we are getting there. the latest and greatest ios from huwaei or whoever is installed, and so i can now run bbm on the device. bbm remains the only decent mobile messaging package that i am aware of, and being able to add it to one of them itwat things allows one to make the itwat a worthwhile, almost non-toy like sort of phone, i suppose.

also, as you can see, i have that smart commodore 64 mode camera thing on. well, that's one of two commodore 64 mode camera things that i have installed. if three were available, right, i would have three on. and all three would be, presumably, a lot better than the network i am using. boom boom.

that i will be able to take pictures in commodore 64 mode with this itwat is the one thing that shall see me use this device from time to time as i go out and about. i like commodore 64 mode pictures and, going on the stats for this site, you all like them too. perhaps next week, then, i shall take the itwat with me on my travels and take some pictures in commodore 64 mode to show off here for us all to admire and possibly appreciate.

has anything other than the potential for class commodore 64 mode pictures impressed me about life with an itwat? why yes, weirdly. the battery life.

i was always led to believe that Apple hated fossil fuel almost as much as they hate Chinese children and consumers. my understanding was that the itwat, even if just left on standby, was packed with a battery that would not last a single day.

today's wednesday. this itwat has been sat in a drawer since monday night. behold how much battery it has.

yes, half. so in theory, it would last four days on standby. that's actually pretty good, and i would imagine would compare well to other phones. except, of course, that phone that Bauer has on 24, which never ever runs out of battery. and always has signal, barring plot twists, so presumably he does not use 3 or Three.

it is the case, at least, that i think the phone has simply been sat in a suitable drawer on standby. it is my most earnest hope that my (considerably) better half is not quite so retarded that she has, for no apparent reason, been sneaking it out of the drawer and charging it up for a laugh.

more on the itwat, i would imagine, as and when i actually use it for something.

cheers again, Spiros, and best of luck with that chap and the meat!

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

cow down

hello there

yeah, i know, i am still one story of london short here, in regards of my train exploits to and from the place. i shall, look you see, tell that particular tale at some point. i have, like, totes loads of pictures and a video to go with it. i just thought that all of you cow enthusiasts might quite appreciate an update on the crusades of the cows for a change.

cows, and their rather ambitious, presumed plans for world domination, have not been on here for a while. that is, for the most part, to do with the fact that i have not spotted them in the fields near to where my travels take me. that all changed this week, hence this post.

yes, there they are in the distance. and yes, this was taken on my fancy blueberry camera phone thing in the light purple pouch, hence the occasional light  purple shading. there has been some progress with me and the world of the itwat, but that's another post for another day.

a video of the cows in action? showing off the fancy, la-de-dah zoom capabilities of the video camera on a blueberry camera phone thing? surely.

unless i am very much mistaken, and in all likelihood there's an equal chance that i am and indeed am not, the cows are still engaged in ambitious plan to climb the trees, presumably so that they may taste the leaves which are normally the preserve of birds and the odd giraffe.

meanwhile, i am sure that body volt enthusiasts are just as optimistic about an update here as those who had so hoped for news on the cows. far be it from me to be the one who causes you disappointment, then. here, here you go, feast your eyes upon these.

these are an exciting new variant of Body Volt, ones that one swallows or chews rather than consuming via dissolving in water or some other such suitable liquid.

are they any good? i am afraid i have no idea at all. i did not purchase them for me, but rather for young Ben. he's off to that whole Glastonbury thing, he is. not, as it happens, to see either a presumably screechy sort of woman that has replaced an american what has knacked his leg, an apparently very angry and tres rich black american who is a genius because he says he is a genius or a band who i love dearly but, with 50% of them dead and 50% getting ever closer to it should perhaps consider a graceful retirement. no, he's off to stand in a tent the whole time, listening to some kid that is good at plugging his ipod into speakers and, presumably, even better at selecting some bangin' vibes off of his ipod to play for the kids.

to that end, Ben has sacrificed some of his precious battery time to send me this image. twice, no less.

no, i don't get it either, but if the above makes sense to you then i am very happy that you got to see it here. i think it's some sort of dig at people who don't like rave music. that would be since the overwhelming majority of music made would involve electricity at some point, and is thus electronic.

still, nice to see that Ben has his alarm set, presumably for the time when the best kid at plugging his ipod in is due to take to what counts as a stage inside one of them smart rave tents.

a super close up zoom image of the cows to finish? sure, why not.

do i still consider that these cows are a threat to our way of life at best, our entire existence at worst? perhaps. i was rather glad that they were quite some distance from me, so that i did not feel threatened or at risk form their ambitions.

more as and when, dear reader; more as and when.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

bus vibes #23 - the doors

hi there

and, going back to the friday that has just gone, rather than the one just ahead of us, look you see, some more vibes musings for you. as mentioned in the last episode of bus vibes, for those of you who are for some reason following all of this, i was in the mood for some west coast of America, if i've got the right side of the country where the LA (man) is.

of the recognized six official albums that The Doors released with their original, pretty much alive line up, selecting one as a favourite is a tricky thing. they are all full of merit, with perhaps only The Soft Parade suffering moments of directionless filler. if for some reason i simply had to select an all time favourite album off of the band, though, LA Woman would take some beating. as this is the most re-issued of the albums from the band, i can only guess i am not alone in thinking this.

why this album above the others? because it brings together all of the elements that made the band great perfectly. Morrison's inherently dark lyrics are off-set by a swathe of love imbued in the psychedelia of the time; the brooding blues of the band takes a moment to drink in the ocean and lets melancholy be washed away for a bit, all whilst retaining the scent of hardness, or if you like harshness.

it is the title track that is, for me, the greatest. maybe that's a little predictable, or perhaps not - most i know would favour the rainswept and interesting sound and vibe of Riders On The Storm. in truth, there's not a bad moment across the whole album, but since this is my blog, here you go, indulge in a few low quality recorded moments of LA Woman.

oh good lord yes, that is Val Kilmer you are looking at; making a very welcome return to this blog. i have grow tired of plugging the ipod into a docking station just to record a few seconds of music for you, so you will please excuse me just using that media player thing off of windows for this.

LA Woman is like Electric Ladyland by Hendrix, the Pearl album off of Janis and, for a slightly more modern comparison, the song You Know You're Right by Nirvana. that is to say, no matter what great heights the artists had reached, all indications of their last work spoke of even more awesome stuff to come.

listening to LA Woman took up all of the journey to verk and some of the way home. on the way home, then, i needed some more vibes. i stuck with The Doors, and played highlights from Waiting For The Sun.

this album contains the song that was, in all likelihood, probably my first encounter with the band, although i would have been unaware of it. Adam Ant, on his debut solo album (Friend Or Foe i think?), did a cover of Hello, I Love You.

One of the more interesting elements to this album is that the title track doesn't appear. i wouldn't state this as fact, but i seem to recall the story was that they decided Waiting For The Sun would be the title, and then the band didn't have the song itself ready in time. it turned up on the next one, i think.

troubling ourselves more with what is, rather than is not, on the album, and it's all pretty much good. far be it from me to speak ill of The Unknown Soldier, or the weird promo film they made for it. beyond that, Love Street, Not To Touch The Earth and Five To One would be my top selections of what is, overall, a great but strangely disjointed sounding record.

sorry for the lack of a poor quality recording of a snippet off of Waiting For The Sun, but do feel free to have a listen to that section or if you like segment from LA Woman once more.

i am, in truth, presently knee deep in books for the bus. i have no idea when i shall next be indulging in the vibes, then, but i hope soon, as i got a rather smart 80s set for father's day, and indeed i found a spiffy film music collection on sale for £2 at  cigarette counter off of Morrisons.

Monday, June 22, 2015

boba fett rules

hi there

i do appreciate, look you see, that it would be all the more correct for me to state that i have a measuring instrument which is emblazoned with an image of boba fett, dear reader. however, that would not nearly be as catchy or as intriguing a title as the one i have elected, if not opted, to use.

my travels today took me to that most splendid store known as Boyes, for i was in need of yet another belt as the buckle had snapped off on one of the few i have. Boyes was not my first choice, i confess, but it was the closest place from where i could purchase a belt in relation to verk, and it was raining.

i did indeed get a new belt - two, actually, so that nothing may be left to chance - and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some of that Star Trek branded stationery in stock.

the above was purchased for the princely sum of £1.99, and was purchased as part of my commitment to paying good money for any item Disney cares to beautify with an image of Boba Fett.

i know there are many out there who do not at all care for the Boba. they would, one presumes, have preferred it if that lizard one, Bossk, had traced Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, or maybe that spaz looking thin robot thing. however, it is Boba that did, and thus Boba that is celebrated.

leaving Boba Fett and Battlestar Galactica merchandise aside for the moment, a number of you were particularly interested in the tale of the lost shoe.

rather strangely today, after the weekend, on my return to verk i was, as you can see, i was greeted by the sight of the shoe being pretty much where i left it.

i didn't really expect that the owner of the shoe, and bonus points if her name is Cinderella, to come and collect it. she was, presumably, in such a state of disarray due to alcohol consumed that she probably has no idea at all where she lost it. it is even possible, of course, that at this stage she is unaware of having lost a shoe. i did thing, however, that someone somewhere might have elected to remove or relocate it.

but you probably want a better look at that Boba Fett ruler, either to see how smart it is or simply to pour scorn all over it and tut tut a bit at it all. here you go, either way.

i have, frankly, more of these 15cm rulers than i could ever possibly use. i've got one, off the top of my head, with One Direction on it, and i think i've got one with Spiderman and Thor and all them off of the DC comics things too. also, i am pretty sure i have another one off of Star Whatever, only it has someone crap like Stormtroopers on it.

there are, dear reader, only so many things that i need to measure on a day to day basis that would not exceed the 15cm boundary of these rulers.

leaving measurements aside, then, for the centimetres are nowhere near as interesting as the picture on the ruler, here you go - another look at the abandoned shoe.

am i not at all tempted to collect, take, remove or relocate the shoe myself? not really. for as long as it stands where it is, it gives one something to look at and ponder as they have a cigarette during an allocated break at verk, really.

should anything exciting happen in regards of the shoe, or should i find yet more Boba Fett stuff, i will almost certainly do my best to remember to take some pictures and put them here.

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