Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's time to give it up now

I just got off a tube where I sat opposite a couple around my age with what I reckon must have been an 11 year old son and a 13 year old daughter, presumably on half term holiday.

The girl was sporting a Rolling Stones tour tee-shirt. Now if I'm correct the children's, grandparents would have been listening to Exile on Mainstreet for the first time around the time the parents were born.

Is it just me or is it really time for the Stones to just admit that, it's past mossy and moved into fungal territory. I mean I know they're the world's biggest tax evading rock whore's but there comes a time when everyone just has to have the good grace to realise that when you wrote these lines this may actually apply to you on stage:

When your spine is cracking and your hands, they shake,
heart is bursting and you butt's gonna break.
Your woman's cussing, you can hear her scream,
you feel like murder in the first degree.
Ain't nobody slowing down no way,
ev'rybody's stepping on their accelerator,
don't matter where you are,
ev'rybody's gonna need a ventilator.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Right I'm sick of this now

When the rain started in early September I was really pleased. What with the drought and the reservoirs being at record lows I knew it could only be a good thing. However, my bonhomie has all but run out now.

Normally when people go on about how it's raining all the time, it's crap. It's actually just a perception. I know this because I'm a commuter cyclist. Even when people percieve that it's raining a lot, you actually don't get caught in the rain very often when you're cycling in or out, maybe once every 7 or 8 cycles.

This autumn though it's more like 2 out of every 3 and it's been like that for about a month and a half and to add to that it's now dark and windy and cold. I can deal with dark and windy and cold, but dark, windy, cold and wet pisses you off after a while.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Say what you like about the Roonster, but the guys an athlete.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My lovely, sex obsessed grandmother

This post is somewhat inspired by Shy's.

My Grandma was the youngest of seven by some way she had three elder sisters and three elder brothers. Their house sounds somewhat bohemian. Her sister Kitty was a music hall star in the 1920s and 30s, her brother Wally a poet and four of the seven played concert standard piano. Their mother who sounded like a saint (sorry was a saint) regularly cooked 8 different evening meals for the different members of the household at anything from 6pm to 11.30pm depending on when they deigned to pitch up. She refused to cook anything beyond that though and anyone after that had to make do with whatever was left for them in the aga.

Winnie (my grandma) was 20 years younger than her oldest sister and only 2 years older than her first neice so she remained the baby of the family throughout her time at home until she married Jack (my grandfather), spoilt rotten, something she retained for her entire life.

She had the most rose-tinted view of the world it is possible to imagine, she hated conflict and simply couldn't understand why anyone would ever fall out. It's something that my father had a very hard time with. When my mother was very ill, he had a nervous breakdown and when he finally found the right counsellor they established that the breakdown was less about my mother's illness and more about his relationship with his mother ('typically fucking typical' as he succinctly put it).

There are two stories that I remember my Grandmother for. As she got older, she became increasingly frank about her sex life and I will always remember a particularly excrutiating visit with my dad and my brother, where we spent around 40 minutes explaining exactly what lesbians did, a conversation that spanned everything from double ended dildos to cunnilingus technique.

Anyway, the first was a conversation she had with a neighbour of 6 years. In the garden one afternoon with tea, her neighbour seemed slightly distracted and uncomfortable. My grandmother picked up on this (very unlike her) and asked why she was so uncomfortable and there proceed a ten minute back and fotrth

'no, no, no I'm fine'

'no go on what's wrong'

'it's really nothing, honestly'

'well there obviously is, go on you can tell me'

Finally the neighbour caved in and said 'well I just wanted to ask something really'

'yes what is it'

'Er well'

'Yes, go on you can ask'

'Well it's about you and Jack'


'Are you very happy?'

'Yes we're happy'. My Grandmother was somewhat puzzled by the question 'Why do you ask?'

'Well errr'

'Spit it out Maureen'

'Well do you and Jack have errr'

'Have what?'

'Have relations...errrr... you know errr... every night'

This somewhat floored my Grandmother. After all this was pre-sexual revolution in Wisteria Lane and their boys were all at the grammar school together, sex wasn't a regular topic of conversation.

'Why would you think that?'

'Well it's just that every night when we're in bed around the same time we hear you'

Already on the floor, my Grandmother had nowhere to go, but to let her jaw drop open. Her neighbour looked highly embarrassed by this point and the tea and cake started to look like the only way they were going to make their way out of this situation. Except the neighbour's trooper-like spirit carried on to her credit.

'Are you always ready Winnie?'


'Well that's what you say'

Grandma was suddenly perplexed.

'What do you mean?'

'Every night, it's what you say'

'I do?'

'Yes, every night we hear 'Jaaaaack. I'm ready''

My grandmother collapsed into uncontrollable giggles. It was the neighbour's turn to look perplexed. 'What have I said Winnie?'

'I should tell you something' she said through stifled laughs 'Every night when I go to bed, I go up around 20 minutes before Jack and get ready for bed. I have a wash, take my make up off and get my nightclothes on. When I'm finished I get into bed and shout down to Jack 'Jaaaaack. I'm ready' at which point he comes up to bed with me, bearing the cup of tea he prepares for me every night'

I don't think the two neighbours ever ventured in to that territory again.

After telling us that story however, she tagged on the information that actually she and Grandad did tend to go at it most days, but actually she was a bit of a morning person really. Apparently he was a very good lover. Thanks Grandma.

The story becomes even funnier in the context of the second tale.

Married in the late 30s and despite her rather bohemian background Grandma came to marriage with no knowledge of sexual relations whatsoever. After a year of a very happy marriage, her sisters started to become a little concerned. Various hints and half conversations had been completed that suggested that Grandma was getting a little frustrated at not getting pregnant. Fair enough concerns after a year, but something about her concerns didn't ring true and the sisters had an inkling what it may be. Dory her next sibling, at 7 years older was despatched to have a chat and they went for a walk in the park. During the walk Dory brought the conversation round to the delicate matter of pregnancy.

'How often are you trying Winnie?'

'Every night'

'Really' said Dory rather startled

'And are you comfortable with it?'

'Absolutely, why wouldn't I be'

'Well a man can often be a little forceful in these situations and I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable.'


'Not that I'm saying Jack is forceful'


'Oh Winnie I'm sorry i didn't mean to...offend'

'What do you mean?'

' Pardon?'

'What do you mean force himself on me?'

'Well you know, against your will'

'I have no idea what you're talking about'

This left things rather delicately balanced. Dory was caught in a maelstrom of emotion. She may have opened a can of worms. She may have forever offended her sister for suggesting her brother-in-law was a marital rapist.

'We just turn the lights off'


'And that's it'

'Riiiight and you're comfortable with that'

'It's what I've always done Dory. What are you on about?'

'Well it's not what you've always done is it Winnie'

'Yes it is, you know I hate the lights on'

'No, no. You know what I mean'

'No. I really don't'

After a great deal of toing and froing Dory finally established that in a year of marriage the newlyweds were yet to consumate it, which somewhat explained the lack of pregnancy. Dory explained the birds and the bees and after a deal of education my Grandmother exclaimed. 'How frightful'. I'm not sure what would have happened if they'd never had the conversation.

Anyway, the great sexual revolution occured that night by all accounts, however Grandma found the whole thing terribly disappointing. 'Is that it? I thought it went on all night'. Honestly women.

My randy grandma will always live on happily in my memory.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ku Klux Klan angry at call to remove hoods

Ok so it's just the Onion in disguise, but this from News Biscuit made me laugh.

Unknowing pescatarian

It suddenly struck me last night that in the past month I have only eaten meat 6 times and of those, 4 times it was chicken or poultry. I think this is a direct result of switching to an entirely organic diet. We suddenly realised exactly how expensive meat should be, if it's raised properly and as a result started to get more creative.

We're eating a hell of a lot of fish, lots of sardines and mackrel and salmon, far more pulses, chickpeas and lentils have come to the fore and generally a lot more vegetarian food. I have to say I feel better now than I have done for many a year, but that's a whole other blog (which I am working on incidentally).

But it's odd how you can quite unwittingly almost become vegetarian. I eat fish in my sandwiches every day, so it's pescatarian really.

Have to say though writing this I'm salivating for Roast lamb, I'm definitely not going to become a witting vegetarian.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sign of the times

Click on the picture to enlarge

Thursday, October 12, 2006

May you continue to rest in peace John

''Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don't have any surface noise. I said, "Listen, mate, *life* has surface noise."

If there's one thing that music lovers from 16 to 70 can agree on it's that John Peel was the greatest DJ ever to bestride the earth.

Universally deified by his colleagues, the music industry and his generation after generation of fans the man was a colossus. he fuelled the Beatlemania in the states, he broke punk in the UK, he gave the Smiths their first national airplay, as he did with Pulp, The Small Faces, The Sex Pistols, Orbital, Underworld, The Cure, The Clash, The Damned, New Order, The Cocteau Twins, The Pixies and on and on and on.

I discovered John in 1987, I was 14 . At the time I was listening to Pat Sharpe on Capital Radio in the evening and I think in a belligerent teenage strop I decided that i'd had enough of Rick Astley and switched to Radio 1. It wasn't a station I listened to. At the time it was in the depths of the Dave Lee Travis, Tony Blackburn, Steve Wright era. Mike Reid acted as moral arbiter of the station by getting 'Relax' banned from the BBC altogether and generally it was the antithesis of what it originally set out to be. Peel's view was thus:

''People like Mike Read and DLT would often complain that they couldn't go anywhere without being recognized, but of course would go everywhere in a tartan suit carrying a guitar, so they would have attracted attention in a lunatic asylum. In the streets of London, people would go, "Who the fuck is that? Isn't that that Mike Read bloke?"

However, I switched on to Radio 1 one evening and the first tune I heard him play was Nimrod's Son by the Pixies. Now oddly this was a band my Dad was involved with, but Dad tended to keep work as work so I had no idea - that was until I realised that actually he was working with 4AD, at which point I badgered him to bring home every record, t-shirt and gig ticket I could get my hands on - that's gone on now for just shy of 20 years.

Anyway that first show, as lots of Peel fans will tell you was magical. Undeniably it was hard work to listen to - on his Top of the Pops debut he opened the show with the line ''In case you're wondering who this funny old bloke is, I'm the one who comes on Radio 1 late at night and plays records made by sulky Belgian art students in basements dying of TB'' - that mix of death metal, bluegrass, New Orleans Jazz, Experimental electronic and everything else you could ever wish to hear made for an often confusing listen, but without fail each night he'd play an absolute gem, if not 8 or 9 gems. He's still the only DJ I know who'd play a whole album on one show if he thought it was good enough and also the only DJ I know who'd play what appeared to be 12 seconds of horrendous feedback and then cut in with the words 'that was three new tracks by Napalm Death'

Somehow he managed to stay at the cutting edge of every genre that made it's appearance, he was first into punk, new wave, acid house, hip hop. It's where I first heard NWA and Public Enemy, it's where I first heard Chime by Orbital, Shelia Take a Bow by The Smiths who by then were massive but who I hadn't yet been introduced to. However the tune that resonates for me most was French Kiss by Lil Louis. Now I was a South London boy right at the heart of the M25 rave scene, well the Clapham Common chill out scene anyway. There were dozens of pirate radio stations playing acid house and US Garage and pure House and early German and Dutch trance, yet it was Peel who I heard play French Kiss first. I remember being at a party a week or so later and someone else dropping it and I turned round to all my mates with that wide eyed excitement going 'listen to this, listen to this, this is fucking amazing' and of course it was and when you're 16 that orgasmic breakdown does wonders.

Anyway enough of that crap, John Peel was a legend and quite rightly Radio 1 appear to have given over the anniversary of his final broadcast to an annual John Peel day.

I cried good and hard when I heard of his death. He gave me a love of a music that will never leave me. He should have lived longer, however if you're going to go early, dropping down dead on your dream Peruvian holiday is not a bad way to go. As John may well have said himself "Sorry - that was supposed to go on another 20 years, according to the timings I have here".

RIP John.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Girls and karaoke

Question - Does anyone know a straight bloke who'd ever suggest a karaoke night.

No, exactly.

A quiz night's acceptable, that can be done with minimal interference. It can also help to boost your reputation for the unbelievable retention of utter trivia. Manly qualities all. But karaoke, hell no it gets in the way of the drinking..

One of the girls in the office is leaving to go back to Oz and her chosen venue is a karaoke bar. I wouldn't mind if I wasn't likely to pick up the bill, but I am, so I'm grumpy.

I was talking to Nicky the other night about the demise of TOTP. As I've mentioned before it wasn't a big feature of my life, however it turns out that she and her sister used to spend Thursday night glued to the telly and then running upstairs when a new song came on to dress up as the pop star. They would then run down again and belt out the lyrics into a hair brush together. God know what they did when Marillion came on. I think I was trying to get more than a foot off the ground doing a jump on my 'Raleigh Whateveritwascalled' at the time.

And that's probably the cruxt of it, blokes tended not to stand in front of the mirror miming along to Holiday. Bit of Living on a Prayer air guitar maybe, but never dance moves. Nope dance moves were for girls, as is karaoke.

If you ever go to a karaoke bar, the evening will pan out thus. The first hour and a half is characterised by female group medleys. It'll normally be 4 girls singing along to Like a Virgin. Every once in a while, the male office junior in his ill fitting suit will get dragged up to sing with the typing pool and he'll get pointed and laughed at every time the chorus comes round 'Like a Virgin, touched for the very first time'. Note, at the end of the night he will be defiled by Debbie in accounts who uses her vast experience to steal his cherry while he tries to stay awake in a drunken stupor. The benefit of this is he gets to avoid Like a Virgin next time it comes on.

The next hour and a half is characterised by warblers. 80% of these are girls who think they can sing. They've sat there for an hour and a half scoffing at the groups, sniffily thinking 'I'll show them how to sing'. Typically they'll get up and sing massively challenging rangey tunes, like R Kelly's 'I believe I can fly'. Inevitably they'll miss all the high notes and wobble about in that annoying R&B warble and generally be absolutely shit, but think they're great. They'll then go back to all their mates who congratulate her for a fabulous rendition. You can't call these people true mates. If they were true mates they'd tell her it was shite and to give up not only R Kelly tunes, but any thought of attempting something by Mariah Carey and to sit down and shut up and stop going on about the upcoming X-Factor auditions.

Oddly during this time there will be two or three, blokes with long Bon Jovi c. 1987 hair and leather trousers who appear out of nowhere and more than likely sing one of three songs 'More than Words' by Extreme, 'Back in Black' by ACDC, or 'The Final Countdown' by Europe. They will then disappear from wherever they came not to be seen again for the rest of the evening.

The three hour mark is the point at which the blokes make their entrance. They're 6 pints, 2 aftershocks and 4 Smirnoff Ice's down and now is the time to 'Fight for your Right to paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarty' and generally jump about and pull the mic out of the karaoke machine and be ushered out by security. Normally the group shouting hour will end with 'Jump Around' by House of Pain at which point management stop allowing any group of lads who look like they've seen alcohol in the past month putting their name down.

The fourth hour however, will have simply fuelled Tracy from the typing pool's loathing of men and she's first in to the wailing hour. And so proceeds the rest of the night with 'I will survive' and 'R.E.S.P.E.C.T' . shouted by increasingly angry, befuddled and drunk looking women, until it gets to a point where you know you should really leave before you get lynched for just being a man at all.

So. Next Tuesday we're there. I'm not singing bloody 'Like a Virgin' again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

TV 'personality' 43 has mid-life crisis

The rumoured to be gay, fading TV personlity Graham Norton yesterday awoke and realised he was in fact 43.

In an interview with 'Down with the kids' magazine, Norton said that 'he takes loads of drugs with his coolest friends and they all do as well'. Whilst sniffing furiously he went on to say 'Ecstacy has done wonderful things for me. I go clubbing a lot. Not just a bit, I mean I'm out pretty much every weekend, yes at least two or three times a month and everyones doing 'tabs' it's great, a real conversation piece'

Norton furiously denied reports that he had recently put down a deposit on a 1000cc Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Razorlight release 'pop tune of the year' shock

Ok so I've learnt how to embed You Tube videos and thought I'd add this one. It's one of those songs that gets right under your skin. I have to say when I first heard it I was sure they must be an American band. Anyway looks like it's No.1 this week.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New toy evil

If there's one thing I think everyone can agree on, it is that the production team behind the Venga Boys should be hunted down and assassinated. That Euro Trash scum has managed to infiltrate our house, by covert means and captivate my eldest son. Bastards.

Two weeks before Eben's birthday came around, we had a very excited call from his great-grandmother, otherwise known as Gaga (she doesn't mind).

'I've found the most wonderful present for Eben. It's a helicopter and a police car and two police outriders'

'That sounds fantastic Pat' came Nicky's response.

'And guess what? We found it on holiday in Spain'

'What and you bought it all the way home?'

'Yes and do you know what?'


'When we got to the airport, they had all these blasted security check-ins and we weren't allowed on to our flight with hand luggage more than a hand bag's size'


'So I unpacked all the vehicles from the box, wrapped them all individually in towels, put them in our cases and then put them in the hold along with the flattened box'

'Was this all at the check-in desk Pat'


'Didn't that take an awfully long time'

'Oh yes. And we did hold things up rather'

'Yes I'm sure you did'

'Anyway. We're back now and I've unwrapped them all and put them back in the box and it all looks as good as new.'

'Well that's fabulous'

'When you come down can you take it back with you'

'Of course I can, bye bye'


Christ this had better be good.

We picked up the huge wrapped parcel a week later and last week presented it to Eben on his birthday.

After the unwrapping ceremo... who am I kidding... after the feverish ripping off of paper. Behold, a helicopter, a police car and police outriders. Ok so it was a bit plasticey, but it was all pretty robust and Eben absolutely loved it. He's a complete helicopter obsessive. At our place down in Devon there's a family who travel down by helicopter most weekends and the balcony welcome and departure ritual has become as much an integral part of the holiday as going to the beach. There's little else he goes on about for days after, every time we leave.

So it was all good, we could understand why it was transported all the way from Spain. Kind of.




'Yes Eben'


'Eben I'm looking at you'

'Daddy. There's batteries'

'Oh yes, where do they go?'

'In there'


A closer exmaination reveals lights, stiff mechanical looking rotor baldes and a kind of rotating wheelie thing on the bottom. Oh good electronic hell.

Little could we be prepared for exactly what level of electronic hell we were about to encounter.

'Daddy can you put them in'

'Maybe we can put them in later'

'No, now'

'Eben, how do you ask nicely?'

'Put them in NOW PLEASE'

Fabulous. I can't wait for the chocolate birthday cake, he just isn't quite hyper enough yet.

'OK, I'll put them in'

Click, click.

'Can you turn it on Daddy?'

OK, click, whirrrrrr.

Oh for the love of God, who's sick and twisted idea was this? The flashing, gyrating, rotating toy helicopter, was blasting out 'We Like to Party' by the Venga Boys.

Someone has actually sat down, designed and manufactured a Euro-disco helicopter.

Just in case you don't quite remember the Venga Boys 'dance' classic here's a little reminder. I suggest you leave it playing while you read the rest of the post to get a little flavour of the next few moments.


My option of smashing it in to a thousand tiny pieces with the police car is immediately negated by Eben's unbelievable excitement. If he wasn't hyper before he now had Euro-disco induced ADHD.

What to do, what to do. Nic's eyes were pleading. A heart rending look that screamed 'make it stop, please make it stop, you're the man, please just take control, MAKE IT STOP'

'Eben, look you need to put batteries in here as well' I said, pointing at the bottom of the police car.

'I'm not sure that's a particularly good idea, just at the moment babe' Nic spat at me through her teeth.

'We may as well give it a go though eh?' I responded a little too cheerily

'Ok then, LET'S GIVE IT A GO'

'Eben. let's take the batteries out of the helicopter'

'Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo dadddyyyyyyyyyyyyyy'

'But if we don't take the batteries out of the helicopter the police car won't work'


'Well I tell you what. Why don't we just turn the helicopter off for a bit and look at the the police car'


'We like to party, we like to party, we like to party, we like to pa....'

It was at this point I noticed the screaming in my head.

'Come on Ebs, let's just swap them over. Maybe the police car plays a tune as well' Please God don't let the police car play a tune.


Blimey, result. Finally the helicopter got turned off. Silence, blessed silence.

'Put the batteries in, put the batteries in, put the batteries in Daddy'

'Ok, ok'

I look at Nic, she was laughing her tits off. You know one of those maniacal laughs that says - when you come home tonight the boys may be outside, dead in a bin .

Tentatively I transfered the batteries from helicopter to police car.

'Switch it on daddy, switch it on'

I hovered over the switch.

'Switch it on daddy, switch it on daddy'


'Fire, fire. Fire, fire. Fire, fire ratatatatatatatatatata, fire, fire, ratatatatatatatatata'

The doors to the car opened up and the previously unnoticed semi-automatic pistol toting Spanish cops emerge, with the intent of shooting the shit out of the Euro-disco helicopter.

Nic and I entered a strange whirl of emotion. Utter relief at the lack of another Venga Boys classic, tempered by the utter horror at the exposure of our once innocent cherubic child to cop related ultra-violence.

On balance, we're going with the ultra-violence though. I mean they've got a bloody good point haven't they. Shooting down the helicopter was one of my first thoughts after all. We somehow managed to explain that the policemen had managed to get to a blaze before the fire engines and they'd started without them. I think he believed us.

I can only assume that the toy is some sort of hilarious Spanish joke.

'How do you stop a gyrating, runaway euro-disco helicopter?'

'Shoot the bastard down'

Anyway the thank you letter is going out to Gaga today. I should add that it was the 4th rendition.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Random fact of the day

17% of all cranes in the world are currently operating on construction sites in and around Dubai.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Now the trouble really begins

Louis's crawling. Aaaahhhhhh. No, not aaaahhhhhh (well for the first few hours it was I admit).

There's plenty to say aaaahhhhhhh about with Louis. He's an absolutely joyful, little, snuffley animal is our Lou, but boy is he a determined little sod.

He's been trying to crawl for weeks now. If you've ever watched Terminator II you'll remember the scene, where they've pretty much destroyed the android. Blown it's legs off, stripped it of all it's outer flesh and still it drags it's torso along by it's robotic arms to reach it's objective. Bit like Lou, that is. He's a Thursday's child you see and therefore has far to go - well that's what Nic says - I just think he's a determined little sod.

So now we have two moving little missiles, both with random trajectories, one with the capacity to choke on small objects and one that has just started playing with an awful lot of small chokeable objects. Goodo.

What's worse is Nic says they're already starting to show signs of ganging up on her. By all accounts when she was at the sink washing up yesterday the two of them were sat eating tea and she suddenly realised they were both absolutely pissing themselves laughing at each other. She has no idea what they were laughing about and when she asked Eben, he responded with 'Nothing'. WHAT DO YOU MEAN NOTHING, YOU'RE THREE.

Ah well, only another 25 years to go.