Sunday, January 29, 2017

one hundred 100s

hello there

more fantastic times for me and the postal system, look you see. Spiros has been off on another one of his jolly adventures around the world. his reason for doing so is all probably to do with him being the greatest legal mind of his generation and as such in demand, for i don't think he ever travels beyond London to start fights with taxi drivers.

anyway, this most recent trip has meant that he has had some rather splendid access to the vagaries of duty free stores, and so has kindly purchased and furnished me with that most beloved and yet elusive item that my magpie eyes crave, Marlboro Red.

yes indeed, there are four of the five packets what Spiros set me, there for all to see on proud display in the glory of Commodore 64 mode.

traditionally yes, a carton of cigarettes does have some 200 in the form of ten packets in them. Spiros has, however, been rather busy, and for some reason could at this stage only locate one half of the present haul. which is, you know, absolutely better than no haul at all.

the eagle eyed, and indeed observant of titles, of you will have noted that these are not the straightforward Marlboro Red. no, far from it. these are them 100s, sometimes called "Super King Size" or "Super Kings". which in a practical sense means they are longer than the so-called regular ones.

the warning images on these, off of some place somewhere in Europe, are interesting. i believe, if we go from left to right, the first is suggesting that smoking can cause blindness. the second indicates that it can cause death, whereas the third implies one can expect to commence coughing up blood if they smoke. the final one is either yet another reference to the idea that smoking makes one infertile, or is otherwise suggesting that smoking causes harm to babies, perhaps fatally.

they are, of course, all perfectly valid and sound warnings. it's not for me to question the science behind them, because i know that smoking can cause no good. but, hey, i really rather enjoy it.

undoubtedly as he goes Spiros shall have reason to stumble upon the rest of the cigarettes. if he is of a mind to do so i would have every reason to suspect that with kindness he shall forward them on to me, after which i shall deal with them by the fairly conventional, set out means of use and disposal.

and now, as point of fact, off i go to address the ones i have, then.

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

thank you for your purchase


if all you bruces and shielas were reckoning i'd been a bit quiet on the writing stakes because i was off celebrating 'Stralia Day i recokn you'd be dead set right in the fair dinkum stakes. 'Stralia Day, known as Australia Day in other, lesser, non-'Stralia nations, was, is and always will be January 26, and is a day on which the day is spent celebrating all things 'Stralia.

other than that, look you see, i've been listening to some vibes. nothing quite unusual in this as such, except to say that they were some vibes off of arguably America's greatest musician, coming at me via the neighbour (every body needs good ones, according to a song i heard on Thursday that i had not heard for a while) of Australia.

yes, dear reader. as you can see quite clearly there above in the quality precision of Commodore 64 mode, three albums - made up of four digital compact discs - of the master of the guitar, Jimi Hendrix.

which albums? well, there's the compilation South Saturn Delta, which appears to contain alternate and slightly different versions of tunes such as Little Wing, All Along The Watchtower and The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice, among some other gems. then there is, which i am listening to now, Machine Gun, featuring as it does the complete set of Jimi and the Band of Gypsies at the Fillmore East, Dec 31 1969. finally, for now, there's the 2 CD set of Freedom, which is Jimi and the Experience at the Atlanta Pop Festival, July 1970.

indeed yes, they are all awesome recordings. provenance of my newly acquired copies of these recordings? Dad, off of next door to Australia.

cheers Dad.

i was speaking to him during the course of the week, as i am so prone to do thanks to the wonders of international telecommunications, and he asked if i was still at all partial to the sounds of James Marshall Hendrix. i assured him that yes, i most decidedly was. and so these discs, which he had come across, were sent to me as a gesture of support of this.

my understanding is that there are yet more discs of Jimi coming my way, but one can only play the hand they are dealt, and so for now i am just digging these. i shall dig the others as and when they come along.

my first encounter, or if you will experience, with Jimi Hendrix came, oddly enough, in Australia. i'm not going to make any bold or brave claim to have discovering him at an early age, but i can recall, in our home in Sydney, Dad and his mate Albie having a listen to the celebrated Electric Ladyland album. well, a listen to the album and an observed appreciation of the somewhat controversial cover for it.

at that time it would still have been all Queen and Adam Ant on my walkman, of course, with a bit of Mental As Anything. after that followed Frankie Goes To Hollywood, but Jimi was someone i would ultimately gravitate towards. this was in particular true after so many references to him in the things that i liked in the 80s. like, for instance, the fact that Lemmy out of Motorhead was a Hendrix roadie, and Bad News frequently referenced Jimi as a reason why you didn't need O Levels to be a rock god.

the newly obtained Jimi Hendrix discs with a most fitting purple hue? of course. 

i'm usually reticent or reserved when it comes to declaring something or someone as "the greatest ever". whatever works best for you, in your own experience, as the best, is then the best for you and it doesn't matter what anyone else says. that said, it would be brave to suggest anyone did anything more for the rock guitar that we all adore than what Hendrix did. i would suggest most guitarists in the world today first picked up their weapon of choice after being inspired to do so from hearing what Hendrix did, and the amazing music they produce is all down to trying to create that sense of feeling Jimi oozed out of the strings.

right, well, obviously i have some top level Hendrix listening to be getting on with, so let me go off and do that.

i would appear to be a bit thin on the ground for things to post here, dear regular reader. well, i have been doing this for 12 or so years - more, maybe. it is inevitable that from time to time inspiration have i none. let's see what happens, and when it does i will be back.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

the most massivest strawberry in history

hello there

at a glance i know, look you see, that the title of this post has a ring to it which would suggest i have finally gotten around to getting the hang of all this writing business. no, alas, or alas no if you prefer. i cannot take credit for those words, or the title. that honour, if i may be so bold as to say it is an honour, must befall young William, who uttered the phrase in reference to the main crux of this post.

indeed the above is William with what he considers to be, until such time as evidence expressly says otherwise, the most massivest strawberry what has ever been grown in the world. and yes that is his brother in the background; a brother who kindly expressed a gesture of passing interest in this.

whilst i know you will all be keen to see, and indeed read, more of this, the most massivest strawberry in history, i thought it would be a good idea to mix it up some with other things. like, for instance, the growing interest Gran has in the art of selfies.

this was from a couple of weeks ago, on a day when i elected not to do anything with my hair. sorry for that, but one can't be going off and applying quality hair styling products every single day.

if you were to suggest that Gran's growing interest in selfies was due to me somehow coercing her i would say yes, very much so i suppose. she is rather fascinated and keen on this technology we all have today. what Gran likes most about my phone, however, is not so much the camera for selfies but the fact that it can retrieve information off of an "internet".

frequently in our conversations, you see, a name, face or place will crop up. perhaps it is one we are not sure of the details or specifics of, despite a shared experience in many cases. it is but the work of a moment for me to look it up, then. Princes Highway in Sydney was the most recent thing i looked up, for example, as we were discussing the time when i lived in Australia and Gran and Gramps came to visit.

as awesome as Australian highways are i suspect you would rather be more keen on more strawberry, less road at this stage. and so here you are.

what's the story behind this, the most massivest strawberry in history and our brief curatorship of it? pretty interesting, really. i believe my (considerably) better half bought the packet, or if you like punnet, of strawberries in which this was in, and placed it in the fridge. William, being of some appetite, was looking in the fridge for something to eat. he exclaimed merriment and did a little dance of joy when he saw how massive one of the strawberries was. he asked if he could have it, and i said yes, of course.

is there any provenance or substantiation to the claim that this strawberry is indeed factually verified as the most massivest in history? yes, in as far as William says that it is. as he has not been presented with a bigger one, then yes for him it is true that this is the largest, or if you like most massivest. and that is good enough for me.

it's like the old test of how we see fact and how we see belief. many people accept the fact, for instance, that Australia exists. they, however, are acting on trust and belief alone, for if they have never been there themselves then they cannot know as absolute fact that it is real. people like me can reassure you all you want, but it's not fact for you unless you experience it.

yes, the above is an assortment, or if you will selection, of old school types of sweets, presented to me by Magic, my legendary occasional co-pilot. no, he was not in the car with me when the fan belt went knacked earlier in the week, and so he is ok and not with his neck all knacked like what happened to Goose out of Top Gun, but thank you for asking.

these sweets do look splendid, and look is all i can offer you, i fear. when the boys are not actively seeking out strawberries of various sizes they do really like sweets. in their wisdom they decided that this Magic bloke, who they like the sound of, must have intended them to be for him.

to this end, then, they elected to trouble themselves with eating them without going to the trouble or fuss of asking if they should or could.

other than being pertinently and perfectly true, the above is a most splendid item which my Gran found as she was sorting through some papers. she passed it over to me, thinking that i would like it. which i do. i thus thought it best to share it with you, so you may be reminded or you might know.

another look at the most massivest strawberry in history, and William's understandable pride in being able to hold and behold such a thing? of course.

and how was the strawberry, other than massivest? William assured me that it was a most fine and splendid thing to eat, and that he would welcome more such fruit being presented to him as and when he was of a mind to consume more of them.

no, by the way, i did not prompt these pictures - he requested that i take them. perhaps one day, when he is older and has a licence to use an "internet", he will discover this, and remember the day.

in realistic terms, i think that is just about all i could tell you of the most massivest strawberry in history. i certainly hope that this has been interesting and insightful for you all.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

new reading exploits

Howdy Doody

So it’s been an interesting couple of days, look you see. In between incidents involving what I am led to believe is called a fan belt and some minor adjustments to what and how I do things as I make my way through life, I have of course been reading. As I have recently finished reading two novels it would then be time to post if not quite reviews then comments on them.

Yes, these reviews have come around somewhat faster than I had expected. The two novels I selected, only I didn’t really select them, were fairly easy reads and so I positively whizzed through them, so to speak.

A quick look at the novels which I read? Certainly.

And a mostly spoiler-ish free at a glance look, in order to save you from reading all other comments that follow? Decidedly. Horse’s (ahem) Posterior off of Charlie Owen is a frequently enjoyable, sometimes amusing yet somewhat tired and cliché riddled look at how coppers (and criminals) used to get on with things back there then in the 70s. The Devil’s Kingdom off of Scott Mariani is the follow up, or better part two, to The Star Of Africa what I read last year. It is kind of OK, if somewhat going against the premise set up in part one but at least concluding the story.

Right, on to a look at both in some closer detail. Be advised, then, that one of them fancy, la-de-dah *** SPOILER WARNING *** things is now in place for the rest of this post. Also, as ever, links provided are for ease of use, and are not a form of endorsement or affiliation or recommendation from my good or bad self.

To start with, then, the novel that I shall just go ahead and keep referring to as Horse’s Posterior, for I do like to keep language control in check here. In the pictures of the cover and off the link you can see the proper title, so there you go.

Provenance of my copy? Spiros. He read it and really enjoyed it, and so ordered a copy off of one of them “internet” things to come straight to me, which was nice. He did the same thing last year with HHhH, and that turned out to be the best book what I read last year.

The plot? It’s set in a place called Handstead New Town, to the north of Manchester. All and sundry, however, call it by the name of the title of the novel. It’s a derelict town, with the residents bereft of anything but a bleak future with next to no jobs going now that industry has abandoned the area. The police could not care less for the area, and just want the lid kept on the significant criminal element by any means available. As such, the local nick has become the dumping ground for police officers who are either not particularly good or are just too damned violent or psychotic to serve anywhere else.

Basically what you get is a series of incidents – some of them funny, some of them serious, some flat out horrifying – revolving around one main story of a particularly violent robbery raid on a pub.

A lot of it is, as I mentioned, very familiar and cliché riddled. The thing with clichés, though, is that they all started off by being something which actually was. Countless reviews and comments out there from people who were officially on either side of the law in the 70s describe the characters and events as remarkably accurate. It is not for me to question that aspect, then.

With that being the case, them really were some pretty bleak times, then. There are many who will say that there are places across the UK where this is all still very much a reality sort of thing. But, I am here to comment on the novel.

My most abiding memory of the novel is that Bear Grylls missed a trick in not being a copper or a criminal in the 70s. Both sides of the fence seemed, going on the book, to have a curious fascination with urinating on or in food stuffs served to each other. Considering Mr Grylls’ renowned love of all things urine consumption, he would absolutely have been in his element.

Would I recommend or suggest reading this novel to anyone? Yes, there is most certainly a wide market for this. Fans of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, not to mention Snatch, would have happy days here. As would those who loved boss shows such as The Sweeny and The Professionals. And anyone who likes to see coppers being given the freedom to stitch up the clearly guilty. And them that like to read the exploits of criminals.

Yeah, no, what, that above there is an early morning selfie, before I had tended to my hair and that. Sorry, I just thought I would break up the text for you a little bit. Also, some of you might quite like me early morning, wearing as I am a most splendid yellow t-shirt. 

I believe that Charlie Owen has done a number (possibly three) of other novels which, from what I can work out, exist in the same universe as this one. Let me see if Spiros is as impressed with any of them as he was with this, and maybe I shall join him in reading further. Although, I suspect at least, I won’t be reading them down in some sort of Turkish Bath like what Spiros does.

On, then, to The Devil’s Kingdom, a novel I was effectively forced to read in order to get the conclusion to a novel I read last year, The Star Of Africa.

Provenance of my copy? Morrsions, but not off of cigarette counter. For some reason they don’t have many, if any, novels at cigarette counter in Morrisons any more, but from time to time they do have some available for sale in the store. Like this one.

Plot? Picks up pretty much where Star Of Africa left off. Psychopathic African warlord Khoza is hold regular Mariani hero Ben Hope hostage, with plans to force him to train his army in the ways of the British SAS. Failure to do so will result in a painful, torturous death for what friends of his survived the shipwreck, and in particular for his son, Jude. Khoza, or maybe it is spelt Khosa now that I think, is still holding on to the huge diamond that caused all the fuss in the first novel. He’s also hatched a rather ingenious way to profit from it and retain ownership.

Quite a lot of this novel is disturbing. It does not hold back in showing just how brutal, and I mean in a barbaric, sickening and horrifying way, African warlords, or indeed just plain African criminals, can be and often are. It does, however, hold back on inflicting a great deal of this on (most) of the main characters of the novel, of course. Our hero must get roughed up, but not much damage gets done. In this sense, then, the realistic portrayal of just what goes on when you hear in passing on the news of a “military incident” in Africa somewhere gets undermined by an unrealistic portrayal of what would happen to those unwelcome to be transgressing on it all.

Overall, these two books could have been combined and edited into one 600 or so page novel rather than two 450 page ones. There are far too many red herrings and irrelevancies in it. Off the top of my head, Ben Hope never actually trains any troops, and nor would there be any point in him doing so when you see Khoza’s sickening (and accurate) way of recruiting troops. Also, there’s a whole load of references to Chinese intervention in Africa, but that plot path simply gets forgotten about.

Whilst many, many unbelievable things happen across the novels, there is a complete suspension of disbelief required to accept the resolution to the whole thing. Contrived, to say the least, is how I found the finale.

In the past I have sworn off any further Scott Mariani novels, and yet I keep ending up reading them when I spot them. Another is promised at the end of this one, Babylon Idol I think, watch me end up reading it.

There’s little or no point in me recommending this novel to anyone other than those what also read The Star Of Africa. I would imagine more than a few share my frustration that the first novel was “part one” with no warning given that it was, but for what it is worth this second part is a pretty reasonable conclusion to it all.

As a bonus you get a short, 20 or so page story featuring Ben Hope at the end of the novel. Well, featuring Ben Hope and yet another conspiracy theory about a rather well documented death which happened in 1997. In Paris. And the short story is called, I think, The Tunnel.

And there we have it. As ever I have no idea if these book review things add any value to the world. I suspect not in the case of the latter one here, for that surely has a set audience locked in, it being a second part and all.

Hopefully, and there is always hope, this has all be of use to someone somewhere!

Be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

pension payout progress


one of the more interesting aspects of this "internet" thing is just how many financial experts have taken quite a shine to it. several, often for a small if not modest fee, offer to show you how to be solvent for eternity by means of teaching you their skill and prowess when it comes to attaining cash.

quite often some of these financial wizards are, look you see, declared charlatans and fraudsters. whilst i find it difficult to fathom that someone should take the time and resources required to display falsehoods on the internet for something as trivial as the purpose of gaining money, i should nonetheless suggest all of you express exceptional caution and care when soliciting financial advice from this "internet".

thankfully, though, this blog post is not offering financial advice or guidance, solicited or otherwise. no, instead it is something of a brief celebration of, at last, some success coming into being with regards to my pretty standard, if not conventional, pension plans.

not once have i ever claimed to or clutched at the idea of having some sort of special formula or plan in respect of pension provisions. no, thank you, i have always been quite content to take the approach of the majority of people in this regard. which is to invest in the curiously named "national lottery" pension fund.

the name of a pension fund does not, i suppose, matter as much as whether or not it performs. up to now, of course, i have not experienced it performing as such, as i seldom get a notification that any of my investments have matured. that, as you can see above, changed. the pension fund administrators informed me that i had a dividend due to the extent of £25.

granted, this sum is not quite one which would put me in the "no longer need to earn funds" bracket of life, and nor is it an amount that would see yacht sellers actively seek me out in the hope of persuading me to part with coins of money for some form of boat. it is, however, a nice return on investment. so long as one does not tally up how much one has invested over the years to gain this return, but rather focuses on the smaller amount set aside in the short term which led to this immediate return.

what did i do with this most generous and elaborate pension payout? diversified my investments someone. a substantial portion of it was invested in telecommunications, whereas a smaller portion was invested in another form of national lottery pension fund scheme, known rather colloquially as the "scratchie". the scratchie is something that my (considerably) better half administers on my behalf.

the investment in that pension fund system was modest, yes, but as point of fact produced another, modest return. which was nice. this return was then re-invested back into the primary national lottery pension fund system. sadly this investment has not gone quite so well.

again, i am quite keen to point out that i am not by any stretch offering any form of financial advice for you or to you, reader of this. i'm just sharing what i am doing in respect of my pension fund plans so you can use it as some sort of comparison, i guess, to see how your own plans are going.

that said, yes i most certainly shall be continuing to pursue this form of pension fund investment. other than being the most popular form of pension plan here in the country, it also has the added benefit of not having to deal with some smarmy, sycophantic bstard in a shiny suit to invest.

now if you will excuse me, man flu has once again befallen me. i must take to my bed of illness in the hope that the gods, whoever they may be, grant me recovery.

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

the economies of scale

hi there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chesterfield Red

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

B&H Sky Blue 

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

and yet some more painty doodles


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

random bowie - black tie white noise


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

the bad shampoo

hi there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 I look a right tw@t on the bus. 

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

the Spiros ascension

greetings fellow citizens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

semi proper snow


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

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

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

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

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

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

and, indeed, our cars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


hi there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

my thanks, as ever, to you for reading.

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