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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly . . .

Well that's it.
2009 has come and (almost) gone, and I for one will be glad to see the back of it, as it was easily the worst year of my life, but we'll get to that in a second.

The Good
It wasn't all tears, pain and anguish in 2009, there were some good times to be had as well.
I had, without a doubt, the best holiday I've ever been on when I took my mountain bike and my best friends off to Morzine in the French Alps in the middle of the summer. It was just perfect, and we're already booked up for a repeat adventure in 2010. Bring it on.
On the music front, Biffy Clyro stopped being 'that hairy band from Kilmarnock' and became 'that awesome band from Kilmarnock' and their album 'Only Revolutions' was the stand out of the year for me. It makes me want to grow a beard, 'Mon the Biff!
At the cinema, JJ Abrams 'Star Trek' made phasers cool again, but it was Neill Blomkamp's 'District 9' that floated my sci-fi boat. So good it almost could have been made specifically for me, yet so different to anything else out there.

The Bad
The death of a parent tends to put a bit of a downer on things. Losing my father to his long running cancer at the beginning of the year was a maelstrom of emotions, some of which still whirl around the inside of my head. We were never best friends, we didn't have that sort of relationship. We were just father and son, but he was still My Dad and I miss him.
Having to have my dog put down this year was just so hard. You always tell yourself that it was the humane thing to do, but it still feels like you just committed murder
They say "it comes in threes", but after being in the recruitment process for a job as a police constable for over a year, after passing everything that was thrown at me from long division and ratios to public speaking and a timed 2 mile run, to then be told on the night before I was due to pick up my uniform that I was being rejected because my hearing is a tad too low, was one kick in the bollocks I really could have done without.

The Ugly
My mate, Brian.
He's minging.


Suffice to say that I'm hoping that 2010 is a vast improvement on its predecessor, it certainly wouldn't be difficult, and besides, Arthur C Clarke is never wrong!
So if you've stumbled into my little corner of cyberspace whilst looking for a Wookie, or whether you're one of the small band of (misguided) regular visitors, may I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Precioussss

Once every 18 months or so, a gadget nerd early adopter like me spends hours and hours trawling the tinternet looking for the latest and greatest mobile phone deal.
My requirements were:
Unlimited text messaging,
Unlimited mobile internet use,
Some free anytime/any network minutes,
and an uberhandset.

Thanks to a rare and sensible recommendation from Mr Jaggy, I'm now a week into ownership of my shiny new Motorola Milestone laptop-shrank-to-the-size-of-a-phone phone, and it has already become the most precious thing in my life, including my girlfriend.
It's just so . . . tactile. I find it extremely difficult to be parted from it and all its little downloadable 'Android' applications. It handles text and emails with aplomb, it has a browser as good as a laptop, it plays music like an iPod, comes with an 8GB memory card and, apparently, you can even phone someone on it!
I have to admit that the battery life is 'compromised', but for something that is more laptop than phone, it's acceptable.

Androids are taking over the world, and I for one am totally fine with that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jim's Magnificent Octopus

$237, 000, 000.
$237 million dollars.
Two hundred and thirty seven million dollars.
It doesn't matter how you say it, it's an awful lot of money to make a movie.
James Cameron's magnum opus, Avatar, is the current uber movie doing the rounds this Christmas, and, if Mr C himself is to be believed, it will change movie making for ever.
So . . . what's it like?

Well, what I can tell you is that this weekend I've also watched Sam Rockwell in Moon, and I probably enjoyed that as much as Avatar, and it only cost $5 million to make.
Don't get me wrong, Avatar isn't a bad movie. Far from it, it's an excellent movie. The problem for me is that James Cameron claims that he wrote the story for the film after waking one morning from a dream, a dream that quite clearly featured Kevin Costner from Dances With Wolves or Christian Slater from Fern Gully, as the plots of those two movies is broadly identical to that of Avatar.

The film itself is only 40% live action, the other 60% being CGI and it's here that all that cash has been spent. The CGI portions of this movie are utterly convincing, especially planet Pandora's flora and fauna. In fact I think the only way that the plants, creatures and landscape of this planet could have been any more believable is if there had been a running commentary by Sir David Attenborough. It's that good.

But not perfect.
One or two scenes still look a bit comic book-ish, and the 3D is mercifully subtle and restrained, but overall Avatar is a really good movie, not a great one. A great film needs a great story.

So has it changed movies forever?
The answer for me is no, unless you happen to be a film director with $300 million dollars of someone else's cash in your back pocket.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scent Of A Woman

Sometimes, just sometimes, the level of disregard that some people show towards others simply beggars belief. Today, for example, I found myself stuck in my daily commuter rut home from work alongside a silver BMW X5 filled with Mum and the two kids, one looked around 5-6 ish and I could see the arms of a toddler waving from a kiddy seat in the back.
Nothing unusual in that of course, there are millions of mums doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, day in day out, but three things drew my attention to this car in particular:

1. Mommy was clearly babbling away in the middle of a phone call as I could see the blue LED of her Bluetooth headset twinkling at her ear.

2. First-born was un-belted in the rear of the car and doing that 'wave at cars following behind' thing that we all did as kids whenever we were on the back seat of a bus.

3. All the windows in the "car" were up and Mommy was happily puffing away on a fag.

I know that it's #2 that should be angering me the most, but #3 made me want give School-Run Mom some of my horn and the finger, and I don't mean that in a fun, stag-night sort of way.
Now I know that she was technically breaking the law twice, first by allowing her elder son to become an unguided missile waiting to be launched and second by smoking in what would be considered a public place, what with the kids there and all, but by her actions she just graphically displayed to me how little regard she holds her kids in.

Manky cow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Placebo Effect

Placebo don't really fit the mould of what you might call 'a conventional rock band'.
An androgynous bisexual lead singer, born in Belgium to a Scottish mother and an American father, growing up in Dundee before moving on to further education in Luxembourg and London, and a gay guitar hero who looks kinda like a skinny 7 foot tall version of that bloke Phil from 'Location, Location, Location'.

...but rock they most certainly do!

I've been a fan from 1996's 'Nancy Boy' [Jaggy: insert homophobic joke here] and have seen them live twice before, so when I saw that they were playing Glasgow's SECC on December 14th, I was more than happy* to blow £63.50 for two tickets.

It was an excellent gig. Placebo are a band clearly happy in their own music, and this came across in the show. Big Gay Stefan strode around the stage, and off it, like a tin-foil suit wearing colossus, trying to fornicate with his guitar at every opportunity, while Brian Molko sang his pretty little heart out, screaming and strumming in equal measure. They played a great mix of new material and old favourites, but it was the belting rock tracks like 'Song To Say Goodbye' and 'Every You Every Me' that really got the crowd baying for more.

One of the best live bands you'll ever see. Full stop.


*When I say "I was happy to pay £63.50 for two tickets", what I actually meant to say was that I was "fucking incandescent with rage" at having to pay £13.50 to fucking Ticketmaster over and above the £50 price for two tickets to cover the 'booking fee and delivery'.
I noted down my anger and queried the price in the "Please place any comments here" section of the booking page but as of yet I have received no reply.
Fuckers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa, if you're listening . . .

The winter nights are here, the weather is depressing and you probably had to scrape ice off of your car windscreen this morning. All in all, Christmas notwithstanding, December is a pretty miserable month.

But think how much better it would be if you had a brand new car made from stainless steel!

Yes, the DeLorean is back!
Like a phoenix from the flames, the DeLorean Motor Company has arisen, Lazarus like, from its own ashes and it's business as usual, only this time it's in Texas and not Dunmurray in Northern Ireland.

The DeLorean DMC-12 has to be one of the most iconic cars ever made, right up there with the VW Beetle and the original Mini. I've stumbled upon most supercars, Bugatti Veyron and McLaren F1 included, but I've never seen an original DMC-12 in the stainless steel flesh.
It's also one of the WORST cars ever made. It was heavy, it had no power steering and very little brakes, and it only had 137 horsepower from its Renault engine, so it was about as fast as a diesel Mondeo.

But who cares?!
It doesn't need to do 200mph, it only needs to do 88!

You can configure your brand new DMC-12 on the DeLorean website and mine worked out at $67,775.35, which is around £42K.
Considering that no other car will draw attention like a DeLorean, you'd have to say that's a bargain.

Time for a letter to Santa . . .

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Generation X

Things have improved a lot since the 70's.

I can't imagine living in a world without the Internet, without instantaneous worldwide communication, without cars that don't break down, without smoke-free pubs, without (much as it pains me to admit it) mobile phones with web access. Yes, Planet Earth: Version 2009 is vastly improved over Version 1970, albeit still riddled with bugs however.

One thing that doesn't appear to have got better is the quality of "entertainment" we are subjected to on the myriad tv channels that now govern our lives. This is most apparent (to me at least) on Saturday evenings.
If you're around the 40 mark like myself, then I'd imagine your Saturdays were spent in a similar fashion to my own. You'd have dinner somewhere around 6 o'clock, and then the whole family would sit down to watch that evening's shows.
For me, and indeed everyone in my house from what I remember, this culminated in what I consider to be one of the funniest and most entertaining tv shows ever made 'It's A Knockout'.

It was a perfect storm tv moment. Britain was ready for town vs town comedic rivalry and Stuart Hall had the most infectious laugh known to mankind. It ran from 1966 to 1982, an offshoot of the show 'Jeux Sans Frontières' which brought the nations of Europe together in friendly combat in 1965.
We never missed either show in my household when I was a kid, and even my father, Mr Bah Humbug himself, used to cackle with laughter at it. Genius.

It would never work nowadays however, which is a real shame. We're now too fixated on identi-kit "popstars" and Z list celebrities dancing or eating Rhino beetles to enjoy friendly competition for its own sake rather than for a reward.

More's the pity.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I feel the need . . . for speed

I'd like to ask a question:


Have you, or anyone you know, ever had a speeding fine from an Average Speed Camera?

I only ask because my 40 mile commute to work has a stretch of some 14 miles of the buggers and they're going to be there until September 2011!
It's sending my stress levels through the roof, sitting at a constant 40mph, eyes focused on the speedo, occasionally glancing at the road ahead, pulling out to overtake a car moving a 1/2mph slower than you, when the thought struck me:

I know no one who has ever had a ticket from these cameras, myself included.
The day they "went live" I hadn't heard the announcement on the radio and careered into the 40mph zone with my usual mix of 70mph+ abandon. This was now some weeks ago and, touch wood, no speeding ticket.

If it turns out that there is no one manning the cameras, or indeed no cameras in the boxes at all, then I'd actually have some respect for the authorities in charge of said cameras. Having said that, the temptation to take the numberplate off of my motorbike and scream through the 40 zone at 150+ is becoming harder to resist!

(For any members of the law enforcement community, this is clearly meant in jest . . . honest.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sonic Boom Boy

I don't know whether to call Wing Commander Andy Green a hero or a fool.

He's either one or the other, or perhaps both.
He's already the fastest man on earth at an official 763.035 mph (or Mach 1.016 which sounds much cooler), a speed he set in Thrust SSC back in 1997. He also holds the world Diesel speed record at 350.092mph, set in the JCB DieselMax in 2006. You'd think this would be enough for any Boy's Own hero . . .

. . . but you'd be wrong.

In three years time, Andy Green hopes to be the first man to drive a car at over 1000mph in his spiky new car, Bloodhound SSC.

Like any red bloodied young man, I was fascinated by the world land speed record from an early age, mostly thanks to Top Trumps it must be said. I remember, as a geeky 13yr old, Britain's Richard Noble in his car Thrust2 bringing the record home "for Britain and for the hell of it!" with a speed of 650mph. I remember being glued to the tv, my father snoring in the background, my dinner uneaten on the table, as John Craven showed Thrust2 screaming across Black Rock Desert in the USA, a huge plume of dust billowing behind it.

Fast forward to 1997, and I sat glued to a computer monitor at the Motorola factory where I worked at the time, surfing this new 'interweb' thing, desperate for any info on the rumoured sonic boom from Thrust SSC.

It's no surprise therefore, that I'm now completely hooked on the new challenge that awaits Wing Commander Green, so much so that I've paid my £10 to have my name on the side of the car when it makes its attempt in a few years time. Oh yes, got my certificate and everything!

Andy Green, the hopes and prayers of geeks, nerds and engineering students the world over, rest on your shoulders. Godspeed, my friend.


PS - Just in case you forgot what he gets up to in his spare time . . .

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kraftwerk

Boredom.

Sometimes it can make you quite productive.

The swine flu has come and gone, but it makes me feel warm inside to know that I shared it with at least three of my friends. I'm a very giving soul.

My TSR-2 is finally finished, after a mammoth hunt for my little box of paints, and it now joins my fleet of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a B-58 Hustler and a Harrier GR-2, all built during various bouts of illness over the last 9 years or so.

If only I was this productive at work!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Darling Buds of May

Damn you James May!
And damn this flu that has kept me off work since last Friday!
Swine, bird or council flu, I don't really care which, it's painful, annoying and expensive.

Expensive?

Well sort of, let me explain.
Thanks to the wonder that is the BBC's iPlayer, I have today watched 3 hours of James May's Toy Stories, a series where the bloke's bloke May relives his childhood fantasies involving, so far, Meccano, Plasticine and my own favourite, Airfix.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr May's attempts to get a class of 13 year olds to build a full size "Airfix" kit of a Spitfire, probably because I loved Airfix kits myself when I was a nipper.
As I sat watching these modern iChildren struggle to grasp the concept of a model kit that you didn't download, I found myself reminiscing about days gone by where I would have mock battles using Lancaster bombers with glued solid propellers pursued by the dreaded Messershmitt Bf 109.

This was why I found myself in the "Craft 'N' Hobby" shop this afternoon after I'd been to the doctors, and why it made perfect sense to hand over £28 for a 1/48th scale model of a BAC TSR-2, one of the most beautiful aircraft of all time (damn you, Labour!).

I'm going to be stuck indoors until at least Friday, so let the build commence!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Woof

My wee dog had to get put to sleep today.
She'd been unwell for some time now and had her spleen, and the tumour that was attached to it, removed a couple of months ago, but the decline in her health was pretty rapid.

Tara was always a bit of a daft wee dog and she used to drive me crazy sometimes with her fascination for eating t shirts, usually cool expensive t shirts belonging to me!

People who don't 'get' dogs might find it strange that a grown man is reduced to a bubbling wreck, but a bubbling wreck I am. These people will never understand the bond that builds up between man and animal. She was a part of my family and I'm really going to miss her . . . although my wardrobe wont.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

October 18th.
Moby Dick was first published, Bob Beamon set an Olympic long jump record that stood for 23 years, the U.S. took possession of Alaska from Russia, Thomas Edison died, the shuttle Atlantis took off to deploy the Galileo space probe, the Jimi Hendrix Experience played its debut concert in Paris, East German leader Erich Honecker resigns, Jenson Button becomes world Formula 1 champion, Texas Instruments announces the worlds first transistor radio and in 1970 yours truly was born.

Yes, it's my 39th birthday today. An age that sounds old yet I still feel like a 20-something, in mind if not in body.

Other people born today include:
Chuck Berry
George C. Scott
Lee Harvey Oswald
Martina Navratilova
Tommy "Hitman" Hearns
Jean-Claude Van Damage
Michael Stich
Evelyn Waugh
Zac Efron
Freida Pinto


...although I must admit that I don't know who the last two are. Thank you Wikipedia.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Public Enemy #1

Well the time has come to say goodbye, folks.
Unfortunately I'm having to go on the run from the FBI. I don't know what I've done or how much time I have, but they are clearly onto me because I received this email today.
I've copied it out below, including all the same spelling and grammar. I'd also like to point out that it came with the subject line: FBI OFFICE. GET BACK TO US IMMEDIATELY IF YOU DONT WANT US TO ARREST YOU FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

ANTI-TERRORIST AND MONETARY CRIMES DIVISION
FBI HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
935 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, NW WASHINGTON,
D.C. 20535-0001
Attention Fund Beneficiary,
RE: FBI NOTICE WARNING TO FUND BENEFICIARY
This is an official advise from the FBI CRIME DEPARTMENT. It has come to our notice that the International Monetary Fund (IMF),Central Bank of Nigeria/world bank has released 10,5M US dollars into Federal Reserve Bank USA in your name as the beneficiary being for overdue Inheritant,Lottory,contract payment.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF),Central Bank of Nigeria/world bank knowing fully well that they do not have enough facilities to effect this payment to your account, so they used what is known as secret Diplomatic transit payment (S.T.D.P) to pay this fund through wire transfer in order to complete this payment.
They are still waiting for confirmation from you on the available Transferred funds which were made in direct transfer so that they can do final crediting to your account. Records which we have with this method of payment in the past has always been related to terrorist acts, we do not want you to get into trouble as soon as these funds reflect in your account in any part of the world. So it is our duty as a worldwide commission to correct this little problem before this fund will be credited into your personal account. Due to the increased difficulty and unnecessary security by the American authorities when funds come from Europe and the Middle East, the FBI bank commission stopped the transfer on its way to deliver
We have decided to contact you directly to acquire the proper Verifications and proof from you to show that you are the rightful person to receive this fund, because of the amount involve. Note that the fund is in your name with Federal Reserve Bank USA, but we ask them not to credit the fund to you yet, because we need a solid proof and Verifications from you before releasing the funds. In this regards, you are to re-assure and proof to us that the funds you are about to receive is a clean money by sending to us Diplomatic Immunity Seal Of Transfer (DIST) to satisfy the FBI that the money you are about to receive is legitimate.
You are advised to forward the DIST document to us immediately if you have it in your possession, if you don't then let us know so that we will direct and inform you where to obtain the DIST document and send it to us in order the Federal Reserve Bank USA to go ahead and release the money to you without any further delay. These Document is to be issued to you from our Authorized office.So get back to us immediately if you don’t have the DIST document so that we will inform you the particular place to obtain the DIST document, because we have come to realize that the fund was Authorized by (H.S.B.C) Bank in London.
An FBI Identification Record and Diplomatic Immunity Seal of Transfer (DIST) often referred to as a Criminal History. Record or Rap Sheet is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. These Condition Is Valid until 30th OCTOBER, 2009 After that, we shall take actions on Canceling the payment and then charge you for illegal funds transfer from Nigerian government.
GUARANTEE: funds will be released on confirmation of the document.
1. Credit payment instruction: irrevocable credit guarantee.
2. Beneficiary has full power when validation is cleared.
3. Beneficiaries bank in U.S.A., can only release funds.
4. Upon confirmation from the world bank / united nations.
5. Bearers must clear bank protocol and validation request.
NOTE: We have asked for the above documents to make available the most complete and up-to date records possible for the enhancement of public safety, welfare and security of Society while recognizing the importance of individual privacy rights. If you fail to provide the Documents to us, we will charge you with the FBI and take our proper action against you for not proofing to us the legitimate of the fund you are about to receive. The United States Department of Justice Order 556-73 establishes rules and regulations for the subject of an FBI Identification Record to obtain a copy of his or her own Record for review. The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division processes these requests to check illegal activities in U.S.A
We wait for your prompt response
Best Regards,
Robert Mueller, III
FBI Director

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

Yes, it's that time of year again, time for the 2009 Turner prize!

Yay

This year we shall be treated to such artistic masterpieces like a chair with a letter under it, a sperm whale's skull, a big pile of dust and some paper mache weebles.
Can't say I'm particularly moved by any of the "works" I've mentioned above, indeed I can't imagine why a chair with a letter lying on the floor under it could be construed as art in the first place.
In fact, I'll go further.
Anything that happens randomly in households up and down the country negates any artistic value that a work of art has in my opinion. I throw my mail on a little table inside my front door, yet the artistic genius that I clearly have has so far escaped anyone and everyone who's been in my house, including myself.

I can just imagine The Demon's face if I told her that the muddy pile of mountain bike clothing currently residing in front of the washing machine wasn't actually for washing, but instead was a poignant comment on 21st century society.

I do believe she'd say "pish".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Edited Highlights

I've been a fan of Editors since I first heard their amazing début album The Back Room back in 2005, and the follow up An End Has A Start in 2007 just confirmed my belief that they are one of the most innovative bands around at the moment. So it was with some excitement that myself and The Demon headed off to the HMV Picturehouse in Edinburgh to see them last night.
Now it was always going to be a bit of a tricky gig given that the band's new album, In This Light and On This Evening, was released yesterday morning and the majority of the audience probably wouldn't have had time to hear it and also because it's such a radical departure from the kind of music that they've released before.

I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of bands getting all experimental, as by and large they then stop playing the kind of music that attracted you to them in the first place, but experimental it is. I hope it's just a phase they're going through.

The gig itself was great, as the other three Editors gigs I've been to have been, and the appreciative Edinburgh crowd went suitably bonkers for the bouncy classics like Bullets, Munich and The Racing Rats, and gave quiet, if tentative, approval to the new synth-based tracks like Papillon and the catchy titled Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool.

A top night out, despite experiencing the worlds worst kebab on the way home.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Bring It On, Ahmadinejad!

It's fast approaching Halloween again, party season is upon us.
This year it's the turn of Young Frap and Sarah Biscuits to host the evening's festivities, with the theme being the rather vague and enigmatic 'Dead Decade'.
Almost anything can be considered applicable to this theme, that's probably why they picked it I suppose, so I chose the 70's, or more specifically, I shall be going as 'The Cold War'.

Now before all you smarty pants history graduates pipe up with "Technically Inchy, the Cold War lasted for over 40 years", I've specifically chosen the 70's era because its when I was born, the world had the coolest military aircraft and spy films of the time always had crazy Russians as the bad guys.

As you can see from the above photo my outfit is complete, now that my genuine Finnish Army-surplus gas mask has arrived, complete with two BNIB charcoal filters. I think that it matches well with my British Army NBC suit that I found on ebay a few years ago (don't ask).
For those who are unfamiliar with the term NBC, it stands for Nuclear Biological Chemical.
Basically, these are Army combat fatigues made from reinforced nylon that are lined with charcoal impregnated felt and are designed to be quickly donned over regular combat fatigues prior to an attack utilising one or more of the above agents. They also have a radiation counter in one of the pockets, so should Kim Jong-il wake up one morning with a right arsehole of a hangover, I can rest easy knowing that I'm prepared for the worst.

Game on.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Keep Walking

I'm not the worlds greatest fan of whisky, but I'll be the first to admit that it most definitely has it's place. It's one of the handful of things in this world that will for evermore be inextricably linked with Scotland, and none more so than Johnnie Walker.

It is therefore a touch ironic that this fantastic 2009 advert for the brand comes as the Kilmarnock plant, home of Johnnie Walker whisky from day one, closes due to the traditional "business needs".

If you listen close, you can hear Mr Walker turning in his grave.

PS - Better quality version here.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Bubble Wrap

Great stuff bubble wrap.

It's in equal measure, a source of entertainment and a means to protect something from harm.

Something like a child for example.
You can laugh, but it would seem that this is the direction that society is heading as we reach the end of the first decade of the 21st century.
The recent case of the nursery worker who abused and took sexually explicit photos on her phone of children at the nursery where she worked has disgusted the nation, myself included, as pretty much any case of sexual assault involving children does, but there has been a knee-jerk reaction of epic proportions in the media.
"Should people who care for children be banned from using mobile phones?"

Oh yes, great idea.
How many children's lives do you think have been saved after a carer/teacher/group leader has called the emergency services when an accident has taken place for example?

Hang on, that nursery worker made contact with her other paedo chums via Facebook, so maybe we should stop carers from having access to the internet as well?
Hmmm, restricted communications and no access to the web? Sounds like we'd be treating them exactly the same as a convicted sex offender.

Yes this is a troubling story, but by all accounts she was well liked and trusted in the community and had passed a criminal background check, yet still the popular media and panic-monger websites like mumsnet.com continue to push for tighter and tighter restrictions on the rest of society, even though the overwhelming majority of children are entirely safe at their nurseries or primary schools. They continue to push their 'paedophile on every street corner' propaganda and claim that "yes, it's all worth it if we protect just one child".
So where do we stop? How far do we go to protect our kids? (speaking as someone who doesn't and never will have kids, I'm using the Royal 'our').
Ban cameras?
Ban pencils and sketch pads?
Random raids on childminders 'just in case'?
Only employ blind computer-illiterate mutes?

Also let me ask you this, dear reader.
If you've visited my little oasis of cyber tranquillity before then there's a good chance you have some idea of the kind of person I am. If I tell you that I too have recently passed a criminal background check in the last few weeks, would you then allow me to look after YOUR children?

I assume that your natural reaction is to say no, for one or more of possibly three reasons.
1. You don't know me, but did you know the person who minds your kids when you're at work?
2. I'm a man. When I was a kid I was looked after by lots of people. My gran, my cousins Liz & Ann, Charlie the old man next door. The problem now is that 21st century society has convinced you that a man, any man, cannot be trusted with children. Paedos on every corner, remember?
3. You're a regular visitor to my blog and the thought of your kids being looked after by me scares you more than a paranoid schizophrenic at a showing of The Blair Witch Project.

As you walk down your high street tomorrow, wear ear defenders. The noise from the rotor blades of all the helicopter parents is deafening.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Yer Bike!


S1jobs.com

Probably the worlds least helpful recruitment website, but as it turns out they appear to have someone of taste and culture within their marketing department. For their recent web advert they have acquired the services of one Danny MacAskill Esq.
Young Danny is currently the most famous Scotsman on planet Earth that you've never heard of, but I think you soon will.
Recent video clips of him performing on his trials bike have had views in the tens of millions on sites like youtube and this new one will, I'd imagine, be no different.
Combining Danny's ridiculously freakish level of skill, some fantastic cinematography, various parts of Glasgow's urban furniture and the beautiful 'Barriers' by Aereogramme leaves you with something that ends up being quite a bit more than the sum of its parts and an uncharacteristic departure for what is an otherwise shite website.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the full 4 minutes and 21 seconds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Say it isn't so?!

Can it be true?

Is there really a God?

Has he heard my prayers?

A quote from Lily Allen's own blog:
"Just so you know, I have not renegotiated my record contract and have no plans to make another record"
Please, don't tease me like this. Don't make me a promise and then reappear in six months with a new album.
Still, giving up music is just the tip of the iceberg, Lil. I still get all panicky when I consider a future where your tv show has it's contract renewed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We're in a Jam right enough!

War in the Middle East, financial markets going supernova, unemployment rising like John Holmes on Viagra, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Lulu, international terrorism, X factor is back and Robbie Williams is still alive. But just when you've lost hope, just when you can feel your fingers slipping from the mountain ledge, just when you're about to give in and watch Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer, Pearl Jam ride into town and save the day with their new album - Backspacer.

Eddie Vedder, you should wear a God damn cape.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mondays


No one likes a Monday, they suck. Everyone loves BigTrak however, so here he comes to say hello.

"Hello BigTrack!"
"Hello everyone! Bleep - bleep!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You're it


"Nostalgia. It's heroin for old people"
- Dara O'Briain

If this is true, then this morning I had an unexpected fix.
I was cleaning the interior of my car, as you do on a Saturday when you're forty-ish and have no children, when I overheard some of the kids who live on my street. They were playing some form of hide and seek derivative but what took me by surprise was the method that they used to decide who was to be first to play seeker.
They all stood in a circle, one foot placed in the middle, and one kid recited a rhyme whilst touching each shoe in turn, a rhyme that I haven't heard for nearly thirty years:

"There's a soldier in the grass, with a bullet up his arse, pull it out, pull it out, like a good boy scout"

This is exactly the same rhyme that my friends and I used whenever we wanted random chance to lend a hand in picking someone for a game, but when I think back I definitely cannot remember being taught the words, you just knew them. Perhaps it was osmosis, perhaps it was older kids passing on their knowledge, perhaps it was just because it had the word "arse" in it, but everyone used this rhyme.

Somehow the world seemed a slightly better place this morning and I'm not even sure why.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Thing

Having a directors name before a movie title is usually a sure fire sign that the movie in question is crap. "Wes Craven's this . . . " or "David Cronenberg Presents that . . " are the kind of things I'm on about, but "John Carpenter's The Thing" is one of the few exceptions to this rule.

If you've never seen it, the year is 1982 and it's the story of a group of American scientists stationed in the Antarctic. They discover that an alien that crash landed on earth thousands of years ago has awoken and infiltrated their camp due to its ability to absorb and imitate any living thing it touches.
This is definitely one of John Carpenter's finest films from a very long list of fine films.
He directs the cast on a downward spiral of mistrust, chaos and onwards to the eventual anarchic yet bleak ending. It's also one of the few films that Kurt Russell fits like a hand in a glove, given that he can only ever play one character, that being Snake Plisskin/Jack Burton.

It's also a bit special as it marks one of the last hurrahs for animatronics as the main special effects in a Hollywood movie. 'Tron' was released the same year and 'The Last Starfighter' was just around the corner. Soon all directors would be eager to find out what the new fangled digital CGI technology could do for them, but if you ever need reminding of just how good old fashioned fake blood and latex could be, look no further.

My local multiplex is showing a series of classic films and tonight it was a packed house for Mr Carpenter's dark sci-fi masterpiece. The sad thing is that there's probably a script for a CGI infected remake in a Hollywood producers in-tray as we speak. Which will be shite.

Not everything in the eighties was rubbish.
10/10

No Shit Sherlock

If you had passed me on the M74 this morning you might have wondered why I was talking to myself in the car on the way to work. Well it was due to a report on the news regarding a scheme in England that has just posted the results of a six month trial they had carried out with hardcore heroin addicts. Some of the 127 clinical addicts who took part in the programme were given heroin free from the organisers and at the end of the six months that the scheme ran for, this is what they deduced:

If you give drug addicts free drugs, they use less street drugs, ergo they commit less crime to fund their supply of said street drugs.

Wow.
I'm gobsmacked.
Really?
Giving someone something that they are addicted to for free means that they source less of that something elsewhere?
Who'd have thought it?


Well, me actually, and I'm sure you too.

So if I'm a confirmed sex addict and the government supplies me with a string of high class prostitutes there would be less chance of me logging on to www.cheapnostringsgangbang.com?

At £15,000 a head for this scheme, the eventual bill to the taxpayer is almost £2 million.
I could have told them the answer for half that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Frying Tonight

There's quite clearly something different about Stephen Fry. He has something that no other actor/writer/comedian/director/broadcaster that I can think of possesses, that being the gift of Universal Likeableness.
No one on Planet Earth dislikes Stephen Fry, no one, and even those who disagree with him on the various points of view that he has on topics as wide and varied as the environment, politics and the hell that is Twitter, do so politely and with a smile on their face. He has what I can only describe as an 'avuncular jocularity' (Miss Porteous, I bet you thought I wasn't paying attention in your English class!).

By my reckoning, Stephen Fry should offend huge swathes of the worlds population, after all he is obese, extremely intelligent, very posh, homosexual, successful and rich, any one of which could quite easily be used against him in the court of popular opinion. But popular he is, and rightly so.
I first remember watching the sketches featuring a very young looking Fry & Laurie that featured on the eighties 'youth' show 'Friday Night Live'.
In recent years the world of TV documentaries and game shows has kept Stephen Fry busy, but it's 'Blackadder' that will always be his finest achievement in my opinion. 'Lord Melchett' was a character that was clearly written with Fry in mind, but it's his portrayal of the Duke of Wellington that still cracks me up.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Gravity Legend

Steve Peat (GBR)

UCI World Downhill Mountain Bike Champion 2009

We are most definitely not worthy.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

District 9

I am a huge fan of cinema. Myself and The Demon have unlimited cards for our local movie theater that we pay for monthly which allow us to see as many films as we like, as often as we like. I, therefore, see a lot of films, usually as soon as they open, so it takes a lot for a film to really impress me, to 'blow me away' as they say, but director Neill Blomkamp's 'District 9' is more than a little bit special.
The film has been described by many as E.T. meets Alien and by more than a few critics as racist in it's depiction of the alien 'Prawns' as a filthy, dangerous, second-class citizen. The film certainly does nothing to try and hide the fact that it's an apartheid allegory and I suppose that at its core the story is nothing particulary new to any sci-fi regulars out there. Man meets alien, man abuses alien, man helps alien. Nope, been there, done that. What certainly hasn't been done before, not successfully at any rate, is the delivery that Blomkamp uses. The film is shot in a semi-documentary style and is far better executed than last years 'Cloverfield'. It's brilliant, and I mean genuinely brilliant, due in no small part to the crop of South African actors that Blomkamp uses. The stand out is obviously Sharlto Copley who plays 'Wikus van de Merwe'. He's a sort of South African David Brent. The film is almost entirely carried by him and the special effects which, given that most of the cast are entirely digital, feel less intrusive than anything Hollywood has recently churned out.
Shot entirely in Chiawelo, Soweto, it's a breath of fresh air to sit down to a movie with no actors you recognise and that actually lives up to the hype.
I absolutely loved it.

10/10

Friday, September 04, 2009

Lufe God abufe al and yi nychtbour as yi self

It may look like I've had a bit much to drink when I typed the title of this post, but it's actually Early Scots language and is a quote that can be found adorning the outside wall of John Knox house in Edinburgh, built in 1490. What it says is:

"Love God above all and your neighbour as yourself"

The reason I'm mentioning this quote is that over the last couple of weeks Scotland has taken a bit of a bashing on the world stage, mostly from America it has to be said, but I suppose that globally we're looked upon by many at this moment in time a bit like something unsavoury that you may have stepped in.
It would be easy for me to partake in a bout of Yank-bashing in retaliation, God knows they give us plenty of ammunition, but instead I think I'd like to simply 'big-up' the wee nation that I'm part of.

Scotland to me is, was, and always shall be home. Which can be tricky sometimes when you have a girlfriend who has lived and worked all over the world and can tell you almost to the minute how long a flight to any major European city will take. But home it is and bizarre as this may sound, I'm not sure if I'd like to live anywhere else, I genuinely love it here.
Yes, we have pish weather, yes, we have binge drinking and teenage pregnancy, yes, we consider cholesterol to be a major food group, and yes, we have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the entire World, but at least we're good at something.
We have poverty, we have knife crime, we have unemployment, we have substance abuse and we have Alan fucking Hansen, who thankfully seems to be growing more English every day.
We've made some questionable decisions, the Scottish Parliament building at Hollyrood being one and the obvious case of Abdelbaset Al-Magrahi being another, but more of that later.

On the other hand let's look at a list, shamelessly ripped off from boycottscotland.co.uk, of just some of the things that my backward, drunken, uneducated, uncouth, aggressive, primitive but proud nation of around five million people has gifted the world:
The pneumatic tyre & tarmac.
Television
The telephone
Finger print identification
Ultrasound
MRI scanners
Insulin
The hypodermic needle
Beta blockers
The fridge
Hugh MacDiarmid
Simple Minds
Frankie Boyle
Irn Bru
Tunnocks Tea Cakes
...and on, and on.

But what of the people of Scotland, what are we like?
Well all I can tell you is that until recent events, everyone, and I mean everyone, that I've met on my travels around the globe with The Demon have had nothing but good things to say about the Scots men and women that they have met, and it's fucking true. We are a wonderfully warm, open, welcoming and friendly race. We genuinely love to meet people and talk, talk, talk, another of our inherited skills. Party? Oh yes, we can shake our booty with the best of them and if you need help and there's a Scot around then you can bet the mortgage that he or she will do all that they can to help you, while probably dipping your pockets at the same time.

If America wants to boycott all things Scottish then who am I to stop them, but I would caution them to take a peek in The Mirror Of Hypocrisy before condeming all Scots, lets not forget that Osama Bin-Laden was tucked up in bed with the CIA during 'Operation Cyclone', nudge nudge, wink wink.
In any case America, look at what you'll be missing out on. Rannoch Moor, Loch Lomond golf course, Edinboro Castle, Haggis, Whiskey and, of course, Tablet.
It may be 519 years old, but the words on John Knox house have never rung truer.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Own Worst Enemy


Some people, it would seem, are simply born to be bullied.
This kid is no doubt thoroughly enjoying himself, he has made over 50 videos of himself and posted them on YouTube after all, but I'd be prepared to bet that they'll come back to bite him in the arse one day.

Having said that, he's got dot.com millionaire written all over him.

There Is No Santa

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

2 years.
I can't believe that Punch It Chewie! has made it to the brink of its third year.
We've been through the tentative first kiss, the difficult second album and here we are 730 days later.

During the past two years there have been some ups and some downs, some visitors have come, more have gone, in a hurry usually, but there remains a small but loyal group of you who continue to come back and leave your tupence worth. You're like Herpes, I just can't seem to get rid of you!
I'm only joking, jeez-o, calm down!
Seriously though, thank you.


Now, where are my presents???

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just Say No

Brrring brrring . . .
Click!
"Hello?" (me)

"Hello, is that Mr Inch?"

"Yes"

"Hello Mr Inch, this is Debbie from ****** Security, how are you today Sir?"

Ding dong, alarm bell.

"Fine thanks"

"I'm sure you'll agree that there's been a rise in crime figures since the beggining of the recession, yes?"

"I suppose so . . . "

"Well you'll be glad to know that your property has been selected to receive a new alarm and monitoring system from us at absoulutely no charge to yourself!"

"Sorry, already got a house alarm thanks."

"Ah, but that's not a monitoring one that informs the police of a break in, it just makes a noise"

"Yip, and I'm happy with it"

"But we're offering you a free upgrade"

"Well that's very nice, but I'm not interested"
"Can I ask why?"
"I've just told you, I'm happy with the one I've got"
"But this is a free upgrade!"
"Not interested"
"Can I ask why?"

Repeat this last part a further twice.
"I can't believe you're not interested in this totally free offer!?"

"Believe"
"Ok, bye then!"

That's 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back, thank you Debbie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Watch yer bike for a fiver, mister?

Lance Armstrong in Paisley.

I know, that just doesn't compute!

1. World famous multiple Tour De France winner, global celebrity, sporting legend and all-round top bloke who's made the greatest comeback from the jaws of death since Lazarus.

And

2. Paisley.
Erm . . .


. . . birthplace of Gerard Butler!

Now I don't know if you've ever been in Paisley, but it has no redeeming features. Nope, not one.
It does have a University however, but the disappointment faced by fresh students when they first arrive must lead to a great many drink related suicides.

Much like Lance, I've driven through Paisley with my mountain bike strapped to the roof of my car, but the truth is that you have to drive everywhere at 40mph because the kids can all run at 30 and they'll strip your bike like a chicken dipped in a piranha tank!

I think Paisley is best summed up with an old Scottish joke:

A man parks his luxury Mercedes in a Paisley side street. As he gets out of the car, a young boy shouts:
"I'll watch yer car fur a fiver, mate!"
"No thanks," came the reply with a smirk, "that's what the rottweiler in the back seat's for."
"Oh aye." said the lad, "Is it good at pittin' oot fires?"
PS - Good to see Graeme Obree joining in the fun.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Where's Charlie Fairhead when you need him?!

In my opinion, there is no place on earth that I'd rather fall ill than the good ole' US of A . . .

. . . if I was a multi millionaire that is.

The bile, lies, propaganda, vitriol and general misinformation that I've read, heard and watched over the last week regarding the UK's National Health Service simply beggars belief!

"Ted Kennedy, 77, would not be treated for his brain tumour if he was in Britain because he is too old." – Charles Grassley, Republican senator from Iowa.

"Government health officials in England have decided that $22,750 (£14,000) is what six months' life is worth. Under their socialised system, if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck." - Club for Growth

And my own personal favourite:
"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance if he were British, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless." - Investors Business Daily
Now I'm not about to launch into a bout of Yank-bashing, although it is extremely tempting, but it strikes me that should you be asked for your opinion on such an important matter as health reform then surely it behooves you to actually read some facts first?
Real facts though, not the made up ones that the American healthcare industry have just randomly invented.

I spent seven years working in the NHS in my mid twenties and I know, not think, know that it's probably the best thing that ANY government that this country has had has ever done, and, like any public service, it's definitely not perfect, but it's pretty damn good nonetheless.
When my father was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, in 2007 his treatment began less than a week later. He recieved the best of care that the staff at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow could give him, and although ultimately unsuccessful, I can't imagine what more could have been done for him.
My mother, throughout the period of time my father was ill, received help, both financial and social care, all from the NHS.
All done as and when my mother and father needed it, not when they could afford it.

According to America's National Coalition on Health Care:
"About 1.5 million families lose their homes to foreclosure every year due to unaffordable medical costs"
and that

"A recent study by Harvard University researchers found that the average out-of-pocket medical debt for those who filed for bankruptcy was $12,000. The study noted that 68 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance. In addition, the study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses. Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem."

As I said earlier, the NHS definitely isn't perfect, but what would YOU rather have, in imperfect service or a flawed one?

Answers on a postcard . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

"Put him on the game grid!"

Oh happy day!
If you were a fan of the Disney film TRON when you were a kid, and lets face it, who wasn't, then this should float your boat bigtime.
This is the trailer for next years 'Tron Legacy' which looks simply stunning.
Bring on the light cycles!

Check it out here.

Scenes From A Happier Time #3

You can keep your Atari console, because in 1982 I had the coolest games console around, The Vectrex!


The Vectrex saved you the hassle of taking over your parents tv by having a built in screen, and in the early eighties vector graphics were too cool for school!

After a drunken discussion in the pub last week I swore blind that the old girl was in my parents loft, so today, armed with the torch and the ladders, Operation Console Freedom swung smoothly into action.
She may be a bit manky, but the buttons all work, the sound is suitably screechy and the gameplay is still outstanding.
So excuse me, I have asteroids to destroy . . .


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Down Boy!

I've been very tired over the last week. Nothing unusual there you might think, but I become even more lazy than normal when I'm tired, at least that's the reason I'm giving for watching nearly two hours of 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' on Sunday.
Now part of me hopes that some of you have seen this show as you'll know where I'm coming from when I say that it is car-crash television of the highest order. The other part of me will be disgusted that you've admitted to being a viewer and I'll therefore form an opinion of you that will probably never be cleansed.

In case you've never seen this show, and I sincerely hope you haven't, let me summarise.
It is loosely described as a "reality" tv series, although clearly an alternate reality at that, based around Duane Lee "Dog" Chapman (above), a Honolulu bounty hunter and a man who can only be described as a cross between Chuck Norris and Peter Stringfellow, who has an unhealthy obsession with Native Americans and God, his wife Beth, a BBW, although in reality she only accomplishes two of the three prerequisites of that term, his sons Leland and Duane Lee and a host of other ingrates and hangers-on.

Now the term 'bounty hunter' conjures up images of muscle-bound action heroes who can take on a whole SWAT team and win, and on first glance Dog would seem to fit that image rather well. Here he is above with his trademark Oakley 'Thumps', his 'rippling' muscles, badge and holsters, which by law are only allowed to be filled with pepper spray and not Desert Eagles.
Unfortunately none of the 'perps' that Dog and his crack team of offspring seem to go after appear to be a threat to peace and quiet, let alone life and limb.
On Sunday's episode they apprehended a woman who was blissfully asleep when Team Dog "took her down" and escorted her bony ass straight back to jail.
Jail though was the least of her worries, for the good Reverend Dog has now taken to pointing out to these hardened criminals, once they are safely ensconced in the tiny space in the back seat of the SUV between him and the humongously breasted Beth, exactly where they have went wrong in life. This seems to have the desired effect on the villainous scum who invariably break down in tears at the realisation that they'll be getting no crack cocaine that evening. They're then comforted by words of wisdom from the mighty Dog who, as he is often keen to point out, has "been there man, and God got me through".

Job done.

I really don't know why people want to see this show, but want they do. Dog was filmed making racist comments in 2007 and the show was axed, only to return in 2008 after, bizarrely, an appeal by black leaders and after Dog had said sorry.

I think the real reason I watched almost two hours of this . . . stuff is that throughout it all I kept reminding myself that no matter how badly my life may or may not have turned out, at least I'm not like Dog The Bounty Hunter.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Don't Call It A Comeback . . . "


Don't call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear
Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon
Listen to the bass go BOOM
Explosion, overpowerin
Over the competition, I'm towerin
Wreckin shop, when I drop these lyrics that'll make you call the cops
Don't you dare stare, you betta move
Don't ever compare
Me to the rest that'll all get sliced and diced
Competition's payin the price

I'm gonna knock you out [HUUUH!!!]
Mama said knock you out [HUUUH!!!]

Don't u call this a regular jam
I'm gonna rock this land
I'm gonna take this itty bitty world by storm
And I'm just gettin warm
Just like Muhummad Ali they called him Cassius
Watch me bash this beat like a skull
Cuz u know I had beef wit
Why do u riff with me, the maniac psycho
And when I pull out my jammy get ready cuz it might go
BLAAAAW, how ya like me now?
The river will not allow
U to get with, Mr. Smith, dont riff
Listen to my gear shiftI'm blastin, outlastin
Kinda like Shaft, so u could say I'm shaftin
Old English filled my mind
And I came up with a funky rhyme

I'm gonna knock you out!


Suddenly things in the world of Formula 1 have become interesting again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Enforcer

We've all been there.
You're on the motorway. In the distance you can see that the outside lane is about to close, cars are merging into the inside lane, left hand indicators flashing, but there are always some 'individuals' who elect to hold off on joining the inside lane as long as possible. They shoot off at full speed hoping that some kind hearted soul will let them in, which invariably they do.
I hate these people . . .


. . . but not as much as The Enforcer.
You've seen The Enforcer.
Some of you may even be The Enforcer.
This hero has decided that he has to make a stand for the common man, for the man in the street, for Joe 'Goddammit' Average, his wife and his 2.4.
Quite often The Enforcer will be found behind the wheel of a large automobile (isn't that from a song?) but his natural weapon of choice is the HGV.
This afternoon he was in a rather nice black 2002 BMW 535i Sport, and I had the misfortune to be his chosen sidekick.
He pulls alongside me with easily half a mile to go until the lane he's in closes and matches speed with the Vengabus, at which point he glances in my direction and gives an almost imperceptible nod, but I saw it.
I saw it and I know what it meant.

"Yes, I, The Equalizer, have controlled the flow of traffic, my young apprentice. I have taken my ex company car that I bought at trade price when my manager received his new E-Class upgrade and I have placed it where no Vectra dares to go, and all for you, my young friend. No longer will you have to suffer the indignity of being overtaken by cars that will surely be allowed to join the queue ahead of you. I say to them 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS!' "

I hate this old man and I despise his wife who smiles beatifically at me from the passengers seat.
I can't stand his thought process that has given him the belief that I somehow care that a handful of cars have overtaken me and that I'm crying out for some bus pass wielding Road Warrior to jump to my rescue.
For the past 8 years I've driven 40 miles to work and 40 miles back again and if I've learned one thing it's that a successful car commute is all about chilling out and that we all get home at roughly the same time, no matter how fast we drive.

Ok, that's 2 things actually, but lets be clear, we don't need another hero.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"The drink made me do it!"

Last night was the first night in ages that I've been out for a good piss up with the boys and, at some indeterminate time, I found myself meandering home from the pub, kebab in hand.
What is it about the combination of male psyche and beer that turns something that looks like it was found on the floor into the most wonderful, most tasty, most desirable ambrosia known to man?

The humble kebab, like many originally ethnic foods, is completely bastardised by us Brits. Ask for a kebeb in Turkey, it's spiritual home, and the product you will be handed will bear little or no resemblance to the accident-in-polystyrene that you get here in Olde Falkirk Towne.

The kebab isn't alone in morphing to suit its target audience. Stroll into an Indian restaurant in downtown Mumbai and ask for a Vindaloo and you'll be met with blank stares, and god forbid you order a deep-pan pizza in Rome!

It never ceases to amaze me just how much better these foods are in their native lands, served as they are supposed to be and not in the "reasonably English" style.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Drugs Definitely Worked


At the time I just thought that kids tv was amazing, but as I've got older I've come to realise that there must have been a shitload of drugs being done by childrens tv executives here in the UK in the late 70's and early 80's.

How else do you explain shows like Chorlton And The Wheelies, the story of a Yorkshire dragon who lives in a world populated by heads on wheels and a witch who lives in a giant tea pot.

Willo The Wisp, where a camp spirit informs us of the daily goings on in Doily Wood of Arthur the catterpillar, Carwash the cat, a fat fairy called Mavis, an evil television set and a creature called 'The Moog', which I never quite understood.

Who can forget Jaime And The Magic Torch, wherein a young boy called Jaime seemed able to live without any sleep whatsoever, given that every night he and his faithfull dog Wordsworth would slide down the helterskelter to cuckoo land.

And lets not even mention Bod, I was a kid and I still thought "WTF?" whenever he appeared on our screens, lackadasically strolling towards me out of the screen, whistling as he went.

Chocadoobie indeed!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Inchy's Alpine Adventure: Epilogue

It's strange, on every other holiday I've been on I've always been glad to get home. I've always reached a point where I've thought "okay, had a good time, now lets just go", but as our minibus started the slow meander from the hotel I found myself accutely envious of the guys we passed who were making their way with their bikes up to the cable cars. That's a new experience for me.

I now fully realise just how lucky I am, not just that I've had one of the best and most memorable times in my life, but after speaking to James, an english chap staying in our hotel, I also realise just how much better things are when you have friends who enjoy the same things.
This poor guy had to drive 8 hours from Surrey just to meet up with a friend who is into mountain bikes as much as he is, whereas I know that on any given weekend I can simply pick up the phone and have at least 6 possible names to pick from.

Having said all that, I can't be arsed even taking the bike out of it's bag right now, let alone ride the bugger . . . .


. . . . but I really wouldn't mind one more run down Les Gets!