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Sunday, December 31, 2006


here is a goodbye to 2006.

here is to 2007 and lets hope that it is better, for everyone, than 2006.

sadly for you all there will be many many more blogs from me.

however you celebrate the passing of the old and the ushering in the new, whether you dance your tits off or as a grumpy old git (and no prizes for guessing how i will be doing it).

have a good one.


(for some unkown reason this has taken me ages to write - hence the parting comment at the end, it was not worth the wait.)

we all know the world is a dangerous place. from all sides we are assailed with danger whether it is on the global level in terms of terrorism, climate change, economic collapse (and more recently the fear of an asteroid hitting the earth). we can’t escape it on a personal level, doesn’t matter if we are man, woman or child there is something there for us to be afraid of. it could be an eating disorder, it could be gambling, and it could be sexual predators, obesity, home invasion, and identity threat.
the list is seemingly endless and getting longer.
no doubt sometime soon we will be told that solo reading of shakespeare causes obesity of the eyeball.

somehow we all go on living our lives and mostly our greatest worry is trying to work out what to eat that night or what to watch on the tv.

none of which is deny the potential of terrorist attacks, a city like london has had its fair share over the years thanks to the ira and recently the perpetrators of the 7/7 bombs. in the main these remain a background threat to us, just like we live with the chance that the tube system is going to grind to a halt while we are between stations or some idiot in a car is going to run us down because they are speeding. they remain no more than a background buzz to the workings of our daily lives.

i doubt many of us understand the difference between yellow and orange alert or defcom 1 or defcom 4. the truth is we probably don’t need to. why don’t we need to? because we know for one reason or another daily life is a minefield of real problems rather than conceptual worries.

so you have to wonder why sir ian blair thought that the christmas period was a good time to remind us all that the country faced a "level of unparalleled threat".
he continued by saying that "the threat of another terrorist attempt is ever-present.”
all pretty scary and all pretty much guaranteed to get the good copper a headline or two.

such a shame he takes the wind out of his own sails by then saying hat there was no specific intelligence that an attack was planned.

oh that changes thing a bit.
see how quickly we went from a holy shit put your head between your knees and whistle up your barcelona situation to carry on nothing to see here business as normal situation.

ian blair
ian blair also makes the rather large statement “that al-qa'eda poses a greater threat to civilian life than the nazis did during the second world war”. and in so doing he has jumped straight into the clash of civilization debate but added nothing to it other than a bold statement and the imagery of the world at war.

you have to ask about the timing of this announcement by blair. more than likely he was being bullish ahead of the reports of the various shootings that have occurred by officers under his watch.
perhaps this was ian blair’s way of saying you need me here, i am the steady hand that is guiding you through these moments of crisis, even if the crisis is one that i am making up.

the police and security forces face a lot of difficulties when they confront terrorism: it is hard for them to explain about their successes or their ongoing investigations without revealing their sources or, more cynically, facing a cynical public who wonder if they are telling the truth.

so when ian blair makes such a statement as he did you have to wonder why he did it. because if there are no attacks or examples of foiled plots then there is egg on blair’s face for crying out like chicken little. but it there is a successful attack then blair looks like a chump for saying there was no viable intelligence of an attack.
to me it looks like a lose-lose situation.

as i have mentioned this is more than likely blair’s way of “encouraging” a vote of confidence in ian blair’s leadership of the metropolitan police.
while i have no problems with public servants speaking their minds to the public, but there has to be a moment when some people should keep their thoughts to themselves, especially as it may lead to panic and it may lead to more antagonism towards the muslim community in the uk.

ian blair must be kicking himself that he didn’t wait until the hanging of saddam before he made his comments.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


it is that time of year when the gongs are handed out.
as ever there are the usual arguments about the value of them.
of course they are pointless - i have been given one. again!

so we have the tiresome arguments about it being a hangover from the days of empire and how in accepting a gong you are somehow validating the empire. even though most of us realise that the empire has long since gone. but it is a cheap political point to score.
then there are all the debates about who gets the gongs. why should sportsmen get them - surely they are rewarded for their efforts by the money, fame and acclaim they receive. the same could be said for actors, artists and musicians. not to mention civil servants and businessmen.
there never seems to be much of a hoohah about the lollipop lady who gets her gong for services to ushering kids across the road.

frankly who cares?
the only people who should care are those that get them. they get to go to buck house, meet the queen and probably have some bad food.
dickie bird, the ex cricket umpire, talked about his gong as being one of the most important things in his life. to him it was a validation of the good works he did. i am as happy for him as i could be for someone i don't know and don't care about.
to the best of my knowledge all the gongs give you is the right to put a few letters after your name. not that much really.

so i have no problems with the honours system - it doesn't affect my life and it brings a bit of happiness and pride to those who receive them. so i can't see what gets so many people exercised over them.

but the one thing that really irritates the tits off me is that when anyone who has received one is interviewed they feel duty bound to say that this gong is not for them alone, and in fact they are accepting it on behalf of all the people who helped them in the past or worked with them on the project, or happened to be in the room with them at the time they were told.
i bet they are not sharing the letters after their name, and i bet they are not letting the gong itself go anywhere other than the mantlepiece at home.
just once i wish they would all say - yup i deserve this. worked hard for it and it is mine and mine alone.

for the person who showed that degree of honesty i would give them an award...


so saddam has been hung.
the only thing that is surprising is the speed at which he swung.
should we be surprised? no not really.
did he deserve it? well if anyone did, saddam will be close to the top of the list. the british government were placed in an awkward position in that they (rightly) do not support capital punishment but the iraqi government does agree with capital punishment and they are now a "democracy".
will it make a difference in iraq? you would like to think it would do, but no one really expects it to.
on the radio there is a lot of talk about it being the end of a chapter in iraqi history, you get the feeling that this is said more in hope than expectation that tomorrow will be the start of a brand new iraq.

among the criticisms of the execution is that we will not get to hear about the other crimes of saddam and perhaps discover the complicity of the west and the arab world. i reckon there are a few world leaders who are breathing a sigh of relief that they will not be called to task.

Monday, December 25, 2006


happy christmas one and all.
however you celebrate it i hope it was as you wanted.

and a ho ho ho from me to you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


for as long as i have been going to the cinema one of the treats of the experience was the trailers. as a child the weeks of many happy summer holidays were counted down by watching the trailers counting through the films i would be seeing in the coming weeks. the picture palaces may have lost their grandeur, the double bill has come and gone, adverts have improved in quality but the trailer, ah the trailer remains.
the trailer served to get you in the mood for the main event and also gave you a promise of future treats. it teased you with cinematic delights to come, had you eagerly anticipating your next trip to the cinema. true they sometimes lied and the film that looked oh so good in the trailer turned out to be ooh so boring when you paid your money and took your seat (this aspect of the trailer is still the same…) back then the trailer also gave a glimpse into the world of what the adults were watching, films i was too young to see, many of which i wanted so desperately to see then and now can’t remember.
back then the key thing about the trailer was that when it said coming soon it meant in the next few weeks.

flash forward to today.
i still love the cinema.
i still love the trailers. they still hold out promises and they still (occasionally) lie.
however in this world of ever decreasing attention spans, in this world of almost instant gratification the trailer seems to have gone the other way and now it is more of a tease then it ever was.
now there is the teaser trailer, the short trailer, the long trailer and the longer trailer.
and they start showing months before the actual film is released.
this means that by the time the film is finally shown some of the trailers have become old friends and some have become so tiresome that you probably never want to see the film ever.
i am sure “the holiday” is a wonderful film but i have seen the trailer so many times i am pretty sure i know the film. while the “300” trailer with its over the top man-love imagery and shouting combined with stunning action shots make it a trailer i can watch time and time again.

call me a purist, call me sad, call me old fashioned (or call me the man with no broadband at home) but i prefer to watch trailers on the big screen, the only place you can get a true sense of their majesty…..
none of this watching them on the internet for me.

but there are times when you have no choice but to go to the computer and watch the trailer.

it should come as no surprise that i love (in a manly fashion) bruce (no not bruce “the brute” anderson of the independent – whose photo makes him look like he is sucking on a mouthful of wasps). i discovered bruce willis when i saw die hard 2 with a pal of mine emma w. when we left the prince charles cinema i knew i was hooked on bruce, and little did i know that my adoration of bruce would last longer than my friendship with emma w.
i have taken days off to go see bruce movies. i have the dvds and watched them many many times.
so when someone tells me that there is a die hard 4 trailer on (thanks jim, thanks kevin), well what is a man to do?
that’s right he goes and watches it. then watches it again and again and then one more time for good measure.
it’s bruce as john mcclane. it means dry quips and wisecracks, it means lots of shooting, there will be a vest , there will be action and with a yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker we will all know that the bad guys have been beaten and the innocent can sleep easy again!

the trailer is awesome (like i was going to say anything else) except for one thing: the july 4th date.
that is seven months away.
seven months.
i have to wait seven months.
it is the first date in my diary, the clock has started ticking and i am counting down.

i love trailers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


now i don't normally read the sun newspaper. the main reason being i do not agree with its bigotory.
but there are the occassional time when i am in the take away or i am in coffee@ and there is a copy lying around and i will flcik through the pages of the sun. the sun is very good at moral outrages and seems to be able to conjure up a new outrage every month or so.
as if their mock shock wasn't bad enough there are also the comment pieces by various opinionated writers that make my blood boil and have me clenching my teeth as i want to scream "cunt" at the top of voice (never a good thing to do in a take away or coffee shop).

the one constant in the sun is the page 3 girl. an institution many will say demeaning to women others will say. strangely i don't really care if the sun prints a topless picture or not as i am not a reader of the paper (for titilation i am always going to get the daily sport: the nipple count is much higher, the humour funnier and the news as accurate as the sun) but i don't see the harm in it.

however the arguement is being made that now is not the time to show nudity. nigel farndale over at the telegraph is at pains to explain why he buys both the sun and the guardian and why he hides the page 3 from his sun, who he encourages to read the sun.
he goes on to make the point that while there is a serial killer stalking prostitutes in ipswich perhaps now is not the time to show nipples. he describes the issue he is looking at the murders on the front page, becky and her nipples quickly following it. then comes more details on the murder and then a nude kate moss.
"phwoar!… sickening!… phwoar!… what it amounted to was a blurring of the nightmarish world of the suffolk strangler and the masturbatory fantasy that is becky, 24"

or does it really?

now this won't come as a surprise to many i have wanked over pictures of naked women. i know i know that is not a pretty sight to contemplate but when i am slapping the johnson and making monkey noises i am generally doing it to some sort of fantasy. sometimes i will use visual aids. now true i could jerk off to the works of the great master (baters... you knew i had to get it in there) or even the recent works of the old ybas of hirst, wearing and emin. to put it bluntly they don't cut the mustard when it comes to 5 knuckle shuffle.
so i might use a magazine or two.
i doubt if i am the only male who does this.
while andrew dworkin may think all men are potential predatory rapists. i don't.
nor do i believe having a wank turns you into a serial killer who preys on woman.

i don't believe that looking at page 3 of the sun is going to create a nation of perverts (i am scared that reading teh sun may create a nation of tory voters).

if you take page 3 out of the sun, should you also go around the national gallery and remove the nudes of artists such as valazquez, rubens and others. or is highbrow titilation (sorry i mean art) ok because only the educated view it?

to the best of my knowlwdge there is no conclusive link between viewing pornography or violence creating violent dangerous individuals.

and if you want to know why i think that the sun could be considered as demeaning to women it would be in the same way that much of the media is: in the creatioin and the constant pressure created for women to conform to a body type, to be told how they should look, to be criticised when they don't match that ideal only to be chided when they slip from the the straight and narrow as defined by the media.
not to mention the double standards applied to men and women. a boozy womaniser is seen as a lovable rogue. a boozy maniser is seen a a fallen harlot. you only have to look at the way the press deal with britney spears, lindsey lohan and paris hilton to see what i mean.
it is this sort of treatment that i find demeans women not the occassional nipple on page 3.

but then i am a man so what do i know.


in my time at work i have had to suffer to consultants working with me. in both cases they have done as their name suggests: they have conned us and insulted us.
in neither case have they provided value for money, in both cases they trousered an amount of cash that made them the highest paid earners in the company.

if there is one thing that new labour should be condemned for then it is its reliance on consultants. currently it is running at £2.8 billion a year. part of the reason for using consultants appears to be the continuation of the legacy of the thatcher years of wanting a small state and a belief that the private sector can do everything and anything better than the state itself.

what does seem to be the case is that consultants seem to be able to rack up tremondous fees and yet we, the people, see little benefit from it.

it is rare that i find myself agreeing with edward leigh but when he says that government departments must "kick their consultancy habit" i am in agreement with him.
the problem with consultants is that they get paid regardless of whether or not their advice is worthwhile or not. additionally they are not accountable to the voters and seemingly they are being asked to consultant on things that they have a vested interest in such as tax programmes, computer programmes and such like.

new labours inability to stop squandering the tax payers money on consultants and quangos is for me their biggest fault.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


now i have to confess that many many many years ago i had a crush on diana. i know i know what was i thinking.
(while in this confession mood i have to admit to sending marie osmond a love letter,she did reply to me and enclosed a paper rose, i still loved her after that even though she had spurned me....)

the investigation into diana's death is about to say that it was an accident.
no shit sherlock.
it has only taken 9 years and several million pounds for the obvious to have finally been stated.

i missed the tv programme about the conspiracy theories around her death, i am pretty sure that i would have ignored it even if my tv had been working. i am guessing that when they mentioned anything to do with assassination they did not cite the thoughts of the great one, david icke, who believed that diana (like the kennedys before her) was killed because she was in direct opposition to the babylonian brotherhood.
oddly in the independent newspaper mary dejevsky
says; "By breaking free from the Royal Family and behaving as indiscreetly as she did, Diana was subverting the monarchy, and thus the state.
The establishment may have underestimated the threat to the social order from her untimely death, but what of the destabilising effect had she lived?"


we'll leave aside the social turmoil that we have undergone since di died.
but can someone remind me when we were last so deferential to the royal family and monachy? sure we (mostly) like them. true their antics sell papers, books and tv shows, but really when did we last look up to them as being something special? (yes there might be a serious debate that perhaps the lack of such respect is it at teh heart of all that ails us, but that is for another time).

it seems icke was right diana was going to be the standard bearer in the forthcoming war of us versus them.
or perhaps she was just a vacuous spoilt little rich girl who slept around - a proto paris hilton.

you decide.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


samantha janus once described hell as being other people; true she was quoting jean-paul sartre (but lets be fair where would you rather get your french existentialist philosophy from? the lovely ms janus or the po-faced mr sartre … i rest my case).

janus used it to refer to her flatmates in the classic british comedy “game on”. sartre used it in his play “no exit” to refer to how people can torture each other by means of words. for janus hell was located in a shared house, for sartre it was a hotel.

let me tell you ladies and gentlemen that hell is a slow, packed train that goes from birmingham to london.
when in front of you there is a child who will not shut up but seems incapable of speech so all you get is a constant squeaks and squalls of gibberish and sing song sounds. all of which is accompanied by mum and gran going “shush”, “go to sleep”, and “naughty baby” ad nauseam ad infinitum.
while behind you there is the book reader who occasionally has to read passages aloud, but behind his hand. but he is not just reading aloud he is enacting the page. to him it is wonderful entertainment but to those around him it is the semi-audible hiss of the mad. made worse by the fact he wasn’t a constant whispering mutter, but would stop and start irregularly.

hell indeed is other people.

(annoyingly this is post 667)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


words of hope or words of wisdom ?

(and 2 pics today - i really am spoiling you...)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


cyber city, slightyl overexposed, but it gives it a nice feel.

Monday, November 27, 2006


two more.
i continue to spoil you.
these are from the wonderfully named kensington gore, where i was stuck in a queue waiting to buy my rca secret art postcards.


no no no not another 2 issues of dc's weekly, 52. (one for the comic fans out there.)

a report today says that on average we each have 54 friends. as in so many other things i am way below average.
i think that shep and ems have my share of friends.

so children if you do not want to grow up to be bitter, old and cynical make sure you have 54 friends.

Friday, November 24, 2006


these pylons will soon be gone so the olympics can take place.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


actually it is two today. i spoil you.

since it has been pedestrianised the trafalgar square is even more wonderful than before.


basically advertising is the art of selling (oops that should be informing) you of products and services that might fill a need that you have. generally it is non-personal (meaning that you do not have a salesman standing in front of you talking directly to you) and it is paid for by the advertiser in order to persuade you to buy something.

there are some wonderful ads out there. some make you think about the message they are trying to get across (often they are too clever by half and you wonder what on earth they are talking about), some just make you smile because they are funny, more often than not they do not make you buy something you didn’t already want, they serve more to remind you of what brands and models there are out there when you decide to buy that thing you wanted.

i would like to say i have not been persuaded to by something on the strength of the ad, i just can’t remember the last time i saw something advertised that made me go “oh i never knew one of those existed and i never really knew i had a use for it – i had better buy it…”
i have yet to rush out to check out the latest phone, car, booze, razor etc based on the advertisements i have seen in the magazines or at the cinema.
in fact we are going through the advertising versus editorial coverage argument at work. (a slight digression here. we have been placing more ads recently, and every time one of them appears one of our colleagues brings it into us to show us in a gosh wow look at this kind of way. he seems so surprised we have an ad in this or that magazine. it would be so bad but he booked the ads. go figure).

some of the worst ads are those that sell you financial and legal services, generally done cheap (think debt consolidation or personal injury claims) where they have a “star” and “staff members” hamming it up in front of the cameras. this is to show us (i think) that they are sensible with the money they have and that they are ordinary people: just like us.
then there are the slick ads from places like banks and building societies that get us all excited about this card, or that account but can never give us all the small print (and of course have to be taken with a pinch of salt (after all they are not going to say that their competitor is better than they are – that is for us the consumers to discover).

hopefully you can see where i am coming from here for products and services you know you want but are just not ready to buy advertising can be fun to watch and read (as an awful lot of creativity goes into them). for advertising for important once in a while type services the ads are generally not well done and the information given is at best minimal and very partial, leaving you with lots of work to do. buying a pension scheme is not like getting toilet rolls (mmm shall i get the one the puppy likes or the one the bear uses?)

yet somehow into the world of advertising we will soon see our local hospitals.
now i don’t know about you, but i know i do not want (or need) my local hospital (or any hospital) advertising on tv, radio or in print.
what i want is that my gp has an impartial knowledge of which hospital does the best work in whatever i need doing and that i can get treated there in the fullness of time.
in a conversation i had with emma about education she, rightly (but in a left leaning way) pointed out that the easiest way to remake the education system in the uk was not by adding faith schools and such like – but by making all schools state schools and place them on a level playing field (well for those where they have not sold the playing areas off to local developers…)
the principle of free at point of use is the one at work here.
it is the same with the national health service.
so often i hear that the state can’t run national sized industries, that it has to be cut down into local “markets”. such utter twaddle (but a different debate for a different night). both the tory and labour government have gotten hung up on having markets, competition and choice in the nhs that they seem to have spent most of their periods in charge making the service worse than before.
the nhs was one of the jewels in britain’s crown, it worked and delivered health to the nation.

now instead of worrying about making sure we are healthy it can worry about which ad agency it is going to use, and these will be headhunted for them by the financial consultants that they use. the process will mean money that should be going on patient care will go instead on a media presence.

now of course we all want choice, but hospitals are places i want to avoid,. if i live to be 150 and never go inside one i will be a happy man. when the times comes for me to go into hospital i will not have the necessary knowledge to know which one if going to be good for me, i am going to rely on an expert to tell me.
nor am i going to be dying of a heart attack and think better check the ads to see which hospital is the best for me… oh shit it is in scotland…. for the ads to work they are going to have to be national ads, so they are not going to be cheap. by their very nature they are not going to be able to tell you all you need to know about an operation or a procedure and just how long are you going to wait until you make up your mind? well i suppose it will depend on the pain you are in and how urgent it all is. the last times i went to hospital because i needed something check and dealt with my choice was based on one thing and one thing only: how close was it.

i don’t want to see the nhs throwing money away on a stupid sound bit idea. i want to see the nhs invested in, i want this done in a coherent sensible fashion. it shouldn’t be a case of hospitals competing to get patients through their doors, it should be a case of a high level of service and commitment throughout the whole of the nhs, with some hospitals specialising in some fields of medicine.

there should be no need for a hospital to advertise. this is just another way of there being less money for the service to provide the care it should.
but hey ho after the various public private funding and the various expensive consultants the new labour government have employed why should i think that they would shrug off their tory coats and put back on the coat that labour used to wear with pride.

still i am sure jonathon miller has already offered to direct the first of the hospital ads.


nadia eweida, a check-in staff worker for ba, has lost her case against british airways. a ba appeals panel have said ms eweida cannot return to work if she wishes to display her necklace and the cross upon it. for ba this is a question of a uniform code, which states that no jewellery can be displayed. for ms eweida it is about her religious freedom.

now i am a failed roman catholic (and there are a lot of us out there), and i wear a crucifix and i have been wearing it for more years than i can remember. so on this basis i should be very sympathetic to ms eweida’s case.
but i don’t.

well for a start this is about a dress policy that has clear rules about the appearance of the company uniform, and jewellery plays no part in it. they are not saying she cannot wear her necklace and cross, they are saying that she cannot have it on public show.
they are not making a judgement about religion; they are defining their corporate image. it is apparently a dress code that everyone who works for the company is aware of, it is a policy that all abide by.
brick lane curry house

except for nadia eweida. she says, "i am not politically motivated or minded, i just follow the ." biblical truth
and as we all know one of the best loved gospels of the bible, that of trinny and susannah, does have an extensive section on just when and where to wear the cross. ms eweida has also been offered a back room job, which would allow her to wear her cross openly, but this is not acceptable to nadia eweida, she believes that to accept this offer would be ”morally degrading.”

anne widdecombe, a devout catholic, tory mp and political icon, has argued that people should support ms eweida by boycotting ba. while the archbishop of york, dr john sentamu,
has argued the “ban” was based on flawed logic. he goes on to describe the cross as being "… not only a symbol of our hopes but also a responsibility to act and to live as christians. this symbol does not point only upwards but also outwards, it reminds us of our duties not only to god but also to one another.
he is right about the flawed logic of the ba argument (through necessity ba allow the wearing turbans and hajibs, both outward symbols of faith), but in his description of what the cross symbolizes he also points to a reason why nadia eweida appears to be jumping on a bandwagon.

for me what seems to be the heart of this debate is the question of a person’s strength of faith. i wear the crucifix because my mum gave it to me and because i believe. my faith and belief is not stronger when others can see that i am wearing the crucifix.
i would wager that people seeing her cross does not buoy up ms eweida’s faith, nor would it be diminished if she were to wear it underneath her company scarf.
it strikes me that people who have to display the signs of their faith, as an issue of faith, are more likely to be the ones who need to have affirmation of their beliefs.
if you believe, if you have faith then that is all you need. as dr. sentamu says christians have a responsibility to live and act as christians, not to spend your time worrying about the fact that others can or can’t see your cross.

ironically while this storm in a teacup was brewing (i am so clever) the various secular/ humanist societies were talking about whether or not they should have a symbol to proclaim that they were of a humanist/secularist bent.
so while they may be sniggering at the religious fanatics fighting the good fight to wear their crosses or whatever, give it a few years and we will be having the same sort of arguments over people being allowed to wear their symbol of secular belief.

my advice to the very religious is: check the dress code before you take the job.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


a picture from the disused corridors of power theat was once county hall.
the building remains magnificent even if it is no longer the seat of london's power.
for a while it was an art gallery, where saatchi was going to take on the might of the tate modern. a falling out with the landlords meant charlie was on his way (his new gallery which opens next year does look spectacular).
the event i was there to see was not the most exciting of occassions, but i loved walking around the place.


there are some things in life which are just there because they are there, thier whole reason for being is that they are there. think the appendix, does nothing and is just there.

jugglers, unicyclists and fire-breathers are also like that. if you ask the question why the only answer you can really get is: becuase they are there.
mimes are somehow even less useful and more annoying. i wouldn't find someone being stuck in a glass box interesting if i could see the glass box, have some bloke in make-up pretending it is there is yawntastic.

this isn't to say i have anything against street entertainers, most of them can play guitar better than i can, all of them can sing better than i can.

but my recent walk along the thames was somewhat ruined by the multitude of living statues that seem to have taken root. the skill of the living statue seems to be that they can paint themselves gold, silver or bronze wear a costume and stand very still. and that is about it.
stand still.
hey it looks good on the cv: i stand still. alot. and very well. (and i can do it in face paint). hell i would hire them in a new york minute (which i thinks means "like that"!)
some how or another the tourists flock to them. stare at them. give them money. yet all these statues do is nothing.
they stand. doing nothing. get money for it. amazing.
at least with mimes they are trying to do something, even if they end up looking like wacko jacko on a bad night.
but the statues they really get my goat.
what is worse they are not even like real statues as none of them have bird shit on them.

enjoy the action packed pics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


adam smith was a scottish political economist and moral philosopher, and would more than likely have supported celtic football club, if they had been in existence at the time.
he is best known for his work “the wealth of nations”.

the adam smith
adam smith institute describes this book as a stinging critique of the crippling regulations that afflicted trade and commerce, but then they would wouldn’t they.
but over at wikipedia the view is slightly more rounded but essentially the same, good old adam didn’t want the government interfering in the economy.
adam smith believed in self-interest and that left alone the self-interest of the individual will have socially beneficial outcomes. this happens because of the “invisible hand” of the free market. although the market may appear to be chaotic it is guided to produce the right amount and variety of goods so if there is a shortage of something then producers will step in to make that good and more enter the arena of production prices will drop. the shortage is cured and the prices are brought to a market level. everyone is happy and the market has prevailed where governments would fail.
to be sure i am skipping over a lot of stuff here about division of labour, smith’s critiques of previous views of economics, but go and look at the book – it is a big bugger and you don’t want me waffling on about that….

suffice to say that adam smith can be credited with founding the discipline of economics. his work is built on by writers such as malthus and ricardo, in what is now called classical economics. his view is criticised by marx in “das kapital”, and between them smith and marx have (it could be argued) laid the foundation for all the debates that take place in politics and economics today.

naturally enough the adam smith institute
, founded in 1977, is most interested in the areas of deregulation and smaller government. it was a favourite of margaret thatcher (which alone is enough to condemn it to the lowest pits of hell). their own website describes them as a “do-tank” (though not as they should be called a “dog-do tank” – see political satire is alive and well….)

in short the adam smith institute loves laissez faire capitalism.
but they have no fashion sense.

lets have a peek at their merchandise page . and what do we have but the adam smith hoodie, complete with graffiti style adam smith name tag.

it is just what the local radical conservative is wearing. indeed all those city whiz kids, come out of their offices don their adam smith hoodie so they can hang out with their pound posse or their capitalist crew as they be illin’ and chillin’ while they be billing by the hour. they are phat and down with their (wall)street cred.
or not as the case may be.
perhaps it was seeing this elegant hoodie that caused cameron to want to hug a hoodie, as he wanted to give respec’ to his peeps.

it is billed as being the ultimate in street cred think tank wear, not only is this an oxymoron but i think the idea it will draw admiring glances as you walk down the street is cause for them to be taken before the trading standards.

they would have been better off letting their members buy a nice tank top knitted by some of the ladies from the wi.

given their idea of dress sense would you let these people influence the way the country is run?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


one of the weapons in the marketer’s armoury is rebranding. this is the sneaky practice of taking something familiar and changing the look, the name and the mission statement of the familiar thing and before you know it you have something new.
marathon bar becomes snickers. opal fruits become starbursts. labour becomes new labour. jif becomes cif. and so on.
sometimes it works wonders and other times it fails spectacularly. think of british airways “global” rebranding and how that was quietly withdrawn. the post office’s attempt was as successful. while the conservative’s recent attempt they still remain tories and all that stood for.

now the other day i was reading some reviews of books devoted to the apple computers phenomenon.
the next morning i had an idea for a great new rebrand.
the thing that saved apple was a design ethic that made their products desirable, regardless of the quality of performance. you wanted an apple computer, laptop or ipod because they were things of beauty. the fact that they did what they said they did was almost a bonus.
look at the sleek lines, feel the smooth contours. elegant functionality. pretty performance. the coloured casings of the imac’s became ubiquitous as other manufacturers stole the look. the white computer housing reminded designers that computers didn’t have to be an ugly washed out colour. when you see a mac, whatever the product, you can’t help but “ooh” and “aah”.
there is another product in the world that gets the same response: the humble vibrator. sure there are lots of them out there from the non-doctor (never found out why it was called that) to the popular rabbit.
but i think that there is still room to produce another one. i would look to the boys at apple and steal the quality of their designs – it has to be practical, it has to be easy to use but most of all it has to look like something you could leave on the coffee table and people would congratulate you on your aesthetic tastes. initially there would be a “family” of these new vibrators – they would be different sizes and, of course, different strengths. they would be united by a common, beautiful, sleek organic look. available in two colours white and black, though as the success of the line grew i would be looking to a brand extension where i would add more colours.

all that is need now is the name of this rebrand of the vibrator.
ladies and gentlemen i give you (and i know some of you saw this cumming): the iprod.

Monday, November 13, 2006


so after a short break i am back. relaxed and refreshed from the purging of the countdown confessional.
have no fear peerless reader you will once again be treated to political polemic, relevant rants, cultural critiques, powerful photography, chucklesome cockney chirpiness, topical talk and stuff about bowel movements.

as the french say the more things change the more that stay the same.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


no not the band, though they were awesome. what is more there is apparently a lot of "rainbow rising" 30th anniversary stuff coming out. makes me happy.

no not the tv show, though it was fab too.

it is a real one.


words fail me.
no they really do.

have fun.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


mostly i remember my friends.
i remember the people who have made a difference to my life, either through kindness, through humour, through advice or for just being there when it mattered.

on this my day of days i thank you all.

here is to the next 45 years.

- 1

i remember: my parents.

i have always envied those of my friends who have warm loving families.
mine wasn’t like that.
don’t worry this isn’t going to be and doom and gloom piece about how i was mentally or physically abused.
the space between me and my parents happened as i got older, both my parents were alcoholics, it is one of the prices you pay for being publicans. the booze brought out the worst in them. dad was a quiet drunk and for the last 10 years or so of his life i doubt there was a day he was sober. mum was a binge drinker and when she decided to hit the bottle she would down it greedily and guiltily, hiding her scotch in a cup and pretending she was drinking tea. when mum had a skinful she would turn on dad and the litany of wrongs would issue forth. mostly dad would soak it up as payment for any wrongs he had committed, occasionally he would enter the battle.
the next day it was as if nothing had happened.
it put a strain on my relationship with them.

i know they loved me. i know they did everything they could for me.
i loved them as well.

i fell out with dad one night when he drunkenly made his way over to annemarie’s flat. we got into an argument about something stupid and he walked out. we never repaired the damage of that evening.

my mum came over to england back in the 50s and there she experienced the racism of the time: no dogs and no irish. later on she would be a mild (if there is such a thing) racist herself. she studied to be a nurse but ended up working in hotels. where she met dad.
dad was the son of a docker, who fought in the battle of cable street. dad was in the leisure industry all his life. either in pubs, clubs or hotels.

they were both very intelligent, but with only a moderate amount of schooling. they encouraged me to be as good as student as i could be. they made sure i could go to polytechnic, i am sure they would have preferred to have a lawyer or a doctor for a son, but they didn’t care as long as i was doing what i wanted.

they encouraged my silly dreams of being a rugby star. dad turned up to all the school games shouting from the touchline, much to my embarrassment. he tried to get me a schoolboy trial with wasps. mum on the other hand made sure my kit was clean, and took me out to get the right boots and such like.

they made sure there were books in the house. true they may have encouraged me to read the wrong things, but i have never looked back on my crime novel and sf reading habits. they taught me a love of books.

they appreciated my feeble attempts at writing. they smiled at my photos. they made it seem worthwhile and something that had merit.

mum never quite understood why i wanted to have long hair and a beard and nagged me from my teenage year right through until she died. once even saying i should have a haircut like the nice mr griffths who played snooker (it was a foul mullet lite affair). she never gave up on her quest to have me suited and booted.
dad never understood why i never became a publican. the truth was twofold. i had seen what the booze and pressure had done to them and i never had dad’s ease with people.
if my parents were genetically predisposed to create one type of child it was one who had the gift of the gab. both of them could talk for england. i have inherited the ability to talk constantly but not their skills with the storytelling. both of them could spin a yarn or three. in that list of long regrets i have: one of them is that i never wrote their tall tales down.

they both had full laughs. they both had the ability to find a lot to laugh at.

i got my first tattoo after my dad had died. i could never told my mum i had one (and then 4), the one time i tried she told me that if god had intended us to have tattoos he would have painted us. there was a night i was staying over at mum’s, as was my wont i had a late night bath, went back to the living room to watch some tv and then fell asleep naked on the floor. around 2am mum comes into the room to find out what was going on – i wasn’t sure what to cover up my family jewels or the tattoos.

they both smoked a tremendous amount, on average 40 a day. towards the end of her life mum had cut down to a few a day. the only reason i didn’t smoke was because i couldn’t get the fags to light, i doubt either of my parents would have told me it was a bad thing to do.
the rules they gave me to live buy were the ones they lived by, so there was little of the do as i say and not do as i do, school of parenting.

mum put up with me becoming a veggie. she put up with me going back on meat.
she worried when i lost too much weight, then worried when i put a lot back on.

they provided me with my moral compass, although i didn’t follow their support of small c conservatism.

i never got a chance to say goodbye to either of them. dad worked, drank and smoked right up until the day he was taken into hospital. a week later her was dead. mum had dressed him for the hospital and when she was going through his stuff at the hospital she found enough money for a cab fare home and a half bottle of gin. he had planned to come home in his own way and in his own time. he died the way he wanted to.

mum died at home, she died in her sleep. when i found her she was asleep on the couch, the tv on. she looked like she did so many other evenings. finding her like that was the closest i have ever come to drinking, well she wouldn’t have wanted me wasting the scotch she had in the kitchen.

i found gallows humour in their funerals. dad’s funeral director was frank black. mum’s priest had trouble with her full name.

i was proud to know them. all the good things about me came from them. i doubt i have been the son that they wanted, but there is still time. all in all i miss them, and i wish they were still here. i remember my dad talking about some trees he saw on his way to work. there were just three of them in a field. to him they represented his family. whatever their differences they loved each other, and i know they loved me. i guess that all any of us can ask.

mum, dad wherever you are i hope that you are both raising a glass (or two) in celebration. i thank you and i miss you,


i remember: the break up.

there are several points about the break up.
1] it was a protracted affair. annemaire and i had broken up earlier in the year. i went to warwick patched it up (my mistake). in order to carry out this mission of reconciliation i had to contact work and call in a sickie, it remains the only time i have faked illness at work.
2] both times it happened it came out of the blue and caught me by surprise. i am a man with his finger on the pulse.
3] there was no reason given for the break up. it seemed to boil down to “i’m bored of you, it is not your fault”. oh well that was fine then.
4] i took it very very very badly. to say i was childish about it would have been an understatement.
5] it was made worse because we lived together for a few weeks after she dumped me, once she told the kid that was when i left. (when he found out we had some hugs and tears and he utter the words that took what was left of my broken heart and crushed it a little more “i love you more than my real dad….” right there you have your field of dreams moment. it is the reason i will blub every time i see that film.

but in a sense this isn’t about the break up as such, it is about why i hate gareth.

the second time annemarie dumped me i knew there was no saving it, oh i tried but it was very much a tilting at windmills moment. so unlike the first time i fessed up and let everyone know i was no longer part of a happy couple.
i got some sympathy, i got lots of questions about the whys and the hows, and i got advice.
i was not just a bear with a sore head, i was a bear who had a sore head, toothache and dodgy joints. i was the most miserable fucker in the world.
but i had a plan.
it was a doozy.
it was a plan that sun tzu and wellington would have been proud of. what was my plan? friday night i was going to go to the pub, the beehive, straight after work. no i wasn’t going to get drunk, but as the boys poured booze down their throats i was going to pour out my heart. as they got drunker i could get more purple in my prose and i could exorcise the demon of annemarie.
see plan of pure genius.

but not even general montgomery could have prepared for gareth.

gareth was one of the people i worked with. he was also one of the most intensely boring people you are ever likely to meet. i worked with people who could tell a taut, tight funny story. i worked with people who would embellish that story and tell it as if it were their own, but they managed to keep the humour. i worked with people who could tell the same story in the director’s cut version, it was longer but not as good, but still mildly amusing. on the other hand gareth would take the story and stretch it to breaking point and in the process he would lose all the humour.
gareth was the betamax of comedy.

friday night arrives i am off to the pub. i am ready to get all kurt cobain and trent reznor on people. i am full of woe. i am full of self-pity. i am ready. i was born ready for this moment.

but no. i get stuck with gareth.
i am in the start of the “she’s a bitch, but i love her.”, “she’s a cow, but i want her” riff. the i love her i hate her line. the i did everything for her song and dance. i am ready to spit bile, i am ready to hurl verbal volcanoes in her direction. i will spill venom and get the poison out of my system.
i am going to get all jazzy and bluesy with a touch of goth grunge.
i am a ready for this cleansing.

but no. no sooner had i started than gareth interrupts and tells me that he had it worse. and suddenly i am wile e coyote outmanoeuvred by the roadrunner.
instead of me pouring out my woes, i am listening to his. worse still i can’t escape, the pub is full and i can’t get away, even worse i am like a bunny in his headlights and i am trapped listening to him.
he tells me how his wife left him.
how his wife took the house.
how he had given up his job to look after the kid while the wife worked.
how the wife took the kid.
how he was prevented from having access to the kid.
how the lawyers screwed him over.
then he told me it all again, but this time in detail.
then by fuck he told me again, this time we were in the minutiae of it all (i swear he gave me details on the shoe sizes of the lawyers).
in-between all this he gave me the “i hate her, i love her, i did everything for her” riff.
the bastard was stealing all my lines.
my suffering was compounded because i was sober.
i confess i did have some admiration for the fact he was relentless in his retelling of his tale. he had a campaign worked out and nothing was going to deter him, no obstacle, no objection, nothing was going to prevent him telling me his misery memoir.
all the while i have a gut full of self-pity boiling away, festering poisoning every fibre in my body.

the end of the night couldn’t come fast enough.
not one of my so-called mates came to rescue me.
that week i suffered annemarie dumping me, that night i suffered gareth. in that moment i knew my life was shit.

the upshot was i never got to pour it all out, i never exorcised it. i got to carry it around with me forever.
the break up scarred me for life. in truth i let it and i have spent many a night thinking about what i could have done to have made sure annemarie stayed in love with me.

every now and then i remember that night in the beehive pub and i know in my heart of heart if it wasn’t for gareth i would have gotten it out of my system and i would have been a much happier person in the years that followed.
i confess i have never really gotten over annemarie, but as billy bragg says i am a big boy now and i can sleep without the light on.

buy by jiminy i still hate gareth.

Friday, October 27, 2006

- 3

i remember: northolt.

the most important years of my life were spent in northolt. it was not much of a place, it was not a hive of activity but it was pleasant. it was where i spent my teenaged years.
in northolt i learnt the value of friendship. i also learnt that friendships could be shattered by jealousy. i learnt the value of creativity, ok i abused that creativity by some truly horrid poetry. it was in northolt that i indulged in teenaged angst. in northolt i dreamed the big dreams of youth.
mostly northolt was a place where i was content the biggest worry i had was would i get my homework done.
for various reasons i think i will always consider it to be my home.

at the time i was there northolt itself had little in the way of attractions. a few pubs, a bunch of shops and that was it. but a bus ride (the 140 i believe) would take us into harrow and we could go to two cinemas, the abc or the granada. the granada was where i saw my first x movie (a double bill of the mean machine, starring burt reynolds, and death wish, with charles bronson). the granada was where adam and i saw star wars.
i saw hundreds of films in those cinemas. it was where lifetime passion of going to the cinema started.
most saturdays we would see a film and then we might get a pizza and then walk over harrow hill to get back to northolt. the journey would take us past harrow boys’ school, my dad was always upset he could never send me there. though the connections i might have made there would have meant i was better off than i am now, i have to say i was always glad he could never get it sorted to have me go there.

it was in northolt i was introduced to music. most of my school contemporaries were already fully immersed in music. several of them following punk bands and being avid readers of such music papers as melody maker, sounds and nme. me the last record i had bought was probably an osmonds single.
it was probably adam or andy corsham who showed me the jewel in northolt’s crown: the record shop selanby (adam will correct the spelling, if it is wrong). just as the name sounds it was a new and used record shop.
it was a treasure trove of music. thousands of new and used lps to look through.
it was in these hallowed halls a new obsession was born.
now i could add music to my collecting habit. comics and books had a new rival.

pretty much each week we would make the trip up to selanby to see what we could find. we would look through all the used lps hoping to find a new treat, a new treasure. rarely did we come out of there with nothing in our grubby paws. most of the time the problem was making the choices over which one we could buy.
i remember the yes 12-inch blue vinyl release of going for the one, i remember being told that coloured vinyl was rare. i remember how excited andy corsham was that he had gotten it the day it was released. over the following weeks loads of copies of it would turn up at selanby and we would tease him mercilessly over it.

it was in selanby i discover king crimson, i bought “the young person’s guide to king crimson” i liked the cover, it was a double lp and i had heard someone mention them in conversation. i loved it. have never looked back. same with frank zappa, i liked the cover of “one size fits all”, within a listen i was hooked and the man fz became a staple of my musical life. the same with bands like rainbow, blue oyster cult, rush, cheap trick, genesis, yes and many many more.
here i found live lps, gatefold lps, concept lps, double live concept lps, and they are still the cornerstone of my music taste.
the majority of the vinyl i have was bought from there.
selanby granted me the chance to explore the world of music, and i jumped right in and haven’t looked back since.

it has been a while since i have been back to northolt. to be honest there is nothing there for me now, aside from the memories. i am not sure i will ever go back, but the carefree days of northolt will live on in my memory.

and i have to admit i do miss walking through the green gates. (sorry only adam is going to understand that one…)

- 4

i remember: coffee.

i love coffee. i would go as far as to say i am addicted to it. luckily for me i do not have to get my fix from a strange dude who cuts my dowe and egberts with birds coffee no i can get my drug of choice pure from any supermarket or coffee shop in the country. life is good.

a day isn’t a good day until i have had a cup of joe, and frankly i am not at my best until i have had at least two.

i can remember where the addiction took hold of me.
it was when i was working at the bbc. no i wasn’t anyone famous or important at the bbc. i was a humble kitchen porter. so i spent my days fetching and washing the cups and plates the great and the good of the bbc used.

it was a summer job; my dad got it for me. i can’t remember what it was he was doing there, but i am sure it was a variation of doorman, a career he took on in the last years of his life. with a word in the right ear i was employed. while not quite worked to the bone in a dickensian way it was bloody hard. the lunchtime traffic at the beeb was huge and the lunch hour was more like three.
so there i was either running between tables getting the finished plates off the tables or i was elbow deep in hot water scrubbing to make the crockery fit for use again.

true the job had it’s compensations: good money (i was a student, so i didn’t pay tax on my earnings), free food (always a bonus) and lots of lovely ladies to look at (i even made a total fool of myself over some lovely posh blonde – oh well at least i got to use my sixth form poetry skills on her…)

most importantly it was here i discovered coffee.
while i was having my lunch (normally fresh thickly cut turkey on still warm fresh made rolls) i was introduced to coffee: black and strong.
even better it was free and on tap.
now i am the first to admit i am a bit of a pig, and in this case i was and i wolfed (see that – clever huh!) the coffee down. cups and cups of it.
lovely jubbly.

it took me a couple of weeks to realise why i wasn’t sleeping as much as i used to, but by then i was hooked.
years later i am still drinking far too much coffee, it no longer keeps me awake. coffee has sustained me through long nights when i have been revising for exams. i have had times when i have had a detox from coffee. i become even more grouchy than normal, but it is worth it for the taste of that first cup once i go back on to the java.

for the population of the uk the bbc is an important institution it helps educate, it helps inform and it entertains. if you needed one reason to be proud to be british then the bbc could make a strong claim to be top of the list.

for me it was where i fell in love with coffee. it’s one of the few love affairs that has last.


i remember: the isle of wight.

all epics have their basis in the small things in life. well our trip to the isle of wight was indeed a small thing, that in the eyes of the paticipants now matches homer's iliad for breath, scope and adventure.

one of our friends, bluey, had moved into his new house on the isle of wight. we had been invited over to celebrate this fantastic achievement. there were four of us: monty, yorkie, he who can't be named (more commonly known as joel)and me.

(now i have to pause here and admit to another aspect about epics: there is a chance that this story will include strands from several adventures, but they all happened in a house owned by bluey and they all occurred on the isle of wight, but as with epic and myth the truth should never stand in the way of a good story. or in this case a bad story).

this would be one of the last times that i would see monty, but to his credit he provided us with material that has kept us going for years and years.
his first impressions of the isle of wight were prophetic and accurate and destined to endear him to bluey who was about to make his life there: "it's a shithole" was the mont's immortal words.
and to be fair little i saw that weekend would make me want to spend too much time there.

bluey is one of the few friends i still have from school. he is an amazing man. very intelligent but able to be very silly at the same time a cross between stephen hawkings and spike milligan - but with none of their problems. he is one of the most decent people i have ever known.
we were all there to support him in his new adventure.

we were all going to be bunking in the same room. but that was not a problem. we were mates. this was a boys weekend out.

the weekend started off right when monty saw bluey had some weights, so there he was in his neat cap sleeved t-shirt pumping iron. his cute cherubic (almost hobbit) face scrunched in effort. the rest of us just laughing.
then there was marco. he was a mate of bluey's from college. he was now making a fortune in the concert lighting business. sadly we got no tales of rock star debauchery, but we did hear about the latest bulbs that were being used and the kit car he was building. proving that it isn't just everyone who can live the rock and roll lifestyle to the fullest. so lets raise a toast to jimi and keith for doing it right.
true marco scored some cred points when he joined in the victimisation of yorkie. i have no idea why we picked on yorkie as much as we did, but we did. if yorkie had been born into a titled family he would be seen as a national treasure. as it is he is one of the true eccentrics i know. he can go from being serious to surreal in a heartbeat and not know it. he has held down super responsible jobs but seems incapable of ordering a coffee in a coffee shop. his humour is juvenile in that he delights in the jokes that have kids giggling like drains. he is in a word: odd.
this particular weekend we decided that the one thing we need to do was to tie phil up. so we did. he did struggle, but there were 6 of us. we left him at the top of the stairs like a trussed chicken, crying out for his mum.

yorkie got his own back on us all later on when he kept annoying bluey's girlfriend's dog. this meant the dog kept barking and it meant we all kept getting horrid looks from the gf.
the gf was giving up teaching for accountancy, yorkie was an accountant. so he managed to annoy her hy pointing out her exams and course was for accounting divs. she took umbrage at me because i defended sociology against maths and accountancy.

because most of the people who were at the party were the isle of wight contingent it had to be said that we didn't fit. he who can't be named (or joel) was an arty type designer, i was a humanities student, monty was on the pull (more on this later). only yorkie as an accountant could fit in (but he does have an ability to fit in everywhere).
we knew monty was on the pull because of the effort he had put in to get ready including his speedo style red pants - whcih elcited a cry of "they are so tight" from all us, echoing monty's description of every band he liked.
we had to suffer his aftershave and his manly perfume, all of which made the room we were in smell like a knocking shop.
he was mightly upset when none of the ladies of the isle matched his standards (or said yes), so the only people who got to see the pants were those of us in that room. it is a sight that has scarred some of us for life.

the party was so so, but then i am not a party person (bet you never guessed that).

the trying to sleep was a nightmare as yokie and monty bitched at each other (yorkie winning the verbal battles), while he who can't be named (or joel) didn't so much as join in, but kept baiting them. sleep was fitful that night.
i am sure bluey's girlfriend was less that impressed with us.

still it was a nice house.

the isle of wight is due for another visit sometime soon.


i remember: enemas.

(author’s note: this is probably not for those of a weak disposition.)

freud, jung and klein all banged on about how our formative years are so important to our future personalities. to an extent these concerns of psychoanalysis are mirrored over in sociology in the nature vs nurture debate.
i can hear you thinking what does this have to do with enemas?
to be honest i am not sure, but if freud et al are to be believed then my early experiences will have had an outcome on the person that i am today. they may be right, but then perhaps that cigar is just a cigar.

anyway back to the story. when i was kid i went through a period when i had real trouble controlling my bowel movements. there were weeks when i wouldn’t shit, and then there were times when: oh my lord i have just erupted and filled my pants (luckily i only got caught short a couple of times, but i am sure that sort of public humiliation scars a chap). oddly this wasn’t what caused the concern of my parents and doctors, it was my persistent inability to have a regular dump.
not having a regular movement is dangerous kiddies; always make sure you go when the urge strikes.

so off to the doctors i went. at this time i was living in a very large pub in greenford and the doctor was just across the road. now like my trip to the dentist, this may have been the moment where i decided: doctors are a necessary evil and you should only see them if you really need to.
mum explained to the doc what she thought the problem was. he nodded sagely. next thing i know i am on the examination table with my shorts down, the doctor is slapping on some rubber gloves, applying lube and starting to play “hunt the turd”. now i am pretty sure that this private humiliation also scars a chap. given the doc was trying to be gentle i am pretty sure i never want to experience an alien probe.
if the finger probe wasn’t bad enough i had to walk home with the lube still coating my arse, so i had a slippy slidey feeling as i walked.

next stop was the hospital where armed with the prescription from the doctor my mum picks up the copious quantities of meds that were going to cure me of the bowel problems.
the pharmacist happily pointed out that if this little lot didn’t work they would have to use explosives.

first a course of medicine that was supposed to make me want to sit and crap. no luck. then a stronger oral laxative was used. no luck. finally it was the enema.
having an enema meant having a district nurse visit to administer the solution. if you have never seen an enema, imagine a small hot water bottle filled with a liquid, which will be forced through a small nozzle. the nozzle is inserted into the anus; the liquid is squirted up the nozzle and into the bowel.
the district nurse is there to make sure the temperature is right on the liquid before it gets to go into the bowel. she is there to calm my mum down, she is there to insert that nozzle and flush that water into my bowel.
i am on my bed, once again my shorts are down and my arsehole is being invaded, but this time it is an inanimate object.
ooh in goes the first wave of liquid. give the district nurse credit she kept up a steady flow.
now you have to remember i haven’t shit for a while, so i am pretty full already. now i have a lot of sloshing fluid in my guts. i am feeling a little bit off. but my moaning gets me nowhere; the district nurse is going to give me it all.
i know what you are thinking – if this is being done on your bed how do you get to the toilet. i’ll tell you: with great speed but with very tight clenched buttocks.
now during all the chit and chat that went before no one bothered to tell me the secret of having an enema. this meant that once i got to the toilet i let out a sigh of relief as i let loose with all the liquid that had been hosed into my guts. it was a mini niagara coming out of my arse.
ah bliss. i felt normal again, no distended tummy, no sloshing around.
all i have to do is wait and i will pooh.
now the secret to an enema is you keep the water in as long as you can, because while it is in there it is softening up the backlog (see, now that was clever…) before it has to exit. how i wish someone had told me that.

i sat on the toilet waiting and waiting. i wasn’t bored because i had a pile of comics to read. one after the other a comic would be read and placed in another pile.
no movement. another comic. still no movement. another comic. was that a twinge? no false alarm. another comic. oh no that was a rumble. here it comes the start of the rock slide. except i don’t have a few rocks what i have is a very large boulder and it wants to get out of a hole that is so much smaller than it is. ok, it hurts, but there is no stopping it. the enema has done its job and this thing isn’t going to stop until it has escaped. this is an alien moment but we have an arseburster in the house. ok now this is pain. it feels like i am having my arse split in two. i am doing some muscle tension things trying to squeeze this boulder into an arsehole-sized log. squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze, squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze, squeeeeeeeeeeeeze. i can see a red mist before my eyes. the veins in my neck are bunched in effort. my forehead throbs. i would scream out in pain, but it hurts too much. the battle between the turd boulder and the arsehole continues. i have my arms out to the side pushing against the wall, there are stars in my eyes, and my breath is coming in strained gasps as i try to expel this evil thing from my body.
a splash. some has broken off, but there is still so much left inside.
concentrate, concentrate. another hard squeeze. come on come on.
another splash.
i can smell something, it is not victory, but the hint of it.
my fingers are digging into the walls. this is as much agony as i ever want to feel, the worst is yet to come, i know this but i also know it will be over very quickly when it happens. pushing and squeezing now. get this thing out of me. expel. void. evacuate. clear the area the turd is coming out and nothing is going to stop it.
nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo it hurts, far too painful.
do it get it out, finish it.
and then like a runaway freight train exiting a tunnel a whoosh and splash and it was all over. tears of pain mingle with tears of relief. i feel 20 pounds lighter.
i am calling for my mum to come and see what i have done.
a certain sense of pride over a job well done.
over. relief. joy.

sadly in a few months i have to have a course of smaller enemas, but this time i know the secret. i am prepared. but that’s a story for another day.

on that day i produced a log to be proud of.


i remember: the date

i met annemarie when i was at poly. we occasionally spoke to each other, but we were not friends or mates. i remember she wore a large duffel coat and always appeared to be shy. she never completed the course; unusually for me i did indeed finish the course.
i met her again when she was working as a sales assistant at a comic shop i frequented. it was there that we developed a friendship: she was pretty, she liked comics, she was into sociology and she gave me a great discount: what wasn’t there to like. as i went to the shop each week we got quite friendly, we went out a couple of times for drinks.
one christmas she invited me over to her place. i said no (hey i never said i was good at reading the signs).

it was several months later when we next met. i am not sure how i ended up in highbury but there i was and as i walked over to holloway road i met annmarie. we talked; we went back to her flat. had tea, and i told her how i had fallen for a girl at the london school of economics. naomi was an american student who was exceptionally cute, and ferociously clever (and is probably running the world right now). there may have been chemistry between us, but as ever i missed the signals and fluffed my chance and naomi remained no more than a dream. my tale of self-pity was accompanied with sympathetic cups of tea from annemarie.
after a few hours i left and she went to pick up her kid.

in the way of such things i didn’t think much more about it.
a few months later i am in my bedroom, i had just come back from a run and i was still in my sweaty sweats lying on my bed when the door opens and in walks annemarie. to say i was shocked was a bit of an understatement.
i was also impressed she found where my mum’s place was.
we chatted for a couple of hours and then i took her home (which meant catching a tube from south harrow to holloway road – or pretty much all the way across london, but i am a gentleman).
i realised then i was smitten.

when she called and asked if i wanted to meet up after christmas i said yes (i am slow but not that slow). date and time arranged. countdown began, christmas dragged, and then off i went over to holloway road for the date that would change my life.

strangely i arrived early, a rare feat for me, as most will testify to. now i will be the first to confess that i am not the most socially functional person in the world, that plus the fact i realised that i was very keen on annemarie, made me incredibly nervous. i wasn’t quite shitting my pants nervous, but i wouldn’t have chanced a fart at that very moment for fear of kissing cotton.
she lived on the fourth floor of a set of flats. i climbed the stairs in eager anticipation and mounting dread. i know what film we were going to see, even knew where the cinema was, all was set. i arrived at her door. knocked. waited. knocked again. waited. mmm the tendrils of mounting panic were climbing up my spine. knocked. waited. joy, i had been stood up. oh one last knock. an answer. annemarie’s flatmate let me and told me she had gone out to do some shopping.
we watched a little tv in embarrassed silence.
double relief when annemarie returned.

we went to see “back to the future” at the screen on the green. we both enjoyed the movie. it was now officially our movie (and to this day i haven’t watched it since she dumped me – hey i am not spoiling the happy ending you knew this already). we walked back to her place. we told each other we had a good time and we should do it again. i caught the tube home, the journey seemed to be over in a flash but then i was as happy as a pig in shit.
i went back over the new year and shared the new year coming in with annemarie and some canadian girls she knew. i slept on a rickety camp bed that night, somewhat in fear that it would collapse.
we spent the next day talking and talking. we talked through the next night.
i went back to my parents.
then went back to annemarie’s, and we admitted to each other we wanted to be an item.
in that instance i was as happy as i think i have ever been, to misquote calvin and hobbes: it was my pony moment.
in hindsight i wish i had known how quickly things go wrong, as i would have savoured it much more than i did.

but in that wonderful fleeting moment i was living a technicolor musical and i sang and danced like fred and gene combined.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


worry not fair reader i haven't given up on political posturing.
although i have refrained from having pops at blunkett and short, two very principled politicians who seem to be doing their best to make sure that the one party who might do some good for the general public does not get re-elected.
david cameron and his tory friends do not need to campaign against new labour, by the time the election comes around they will not need to as new labour will have committed political suicide.

but i couldn’t let this story go. greg barker is one of the tory shadow front benchers. he has recently ended his 14-year marriage, leaving his wife for another man. he is asking that the press respect his privacy. i agree with him, he should be allowed to get on with his life without the public knowing every last little detail of his private life. my one caveat to this is we are entitled to know the broad brushstrokes of an mp’s life as we entrusting them to make laws on our behalf.
we may not know the full details of david cameron’s use of drugs, but we know that when he speaks on drugs or when there is a tory drug policy we can view it in light of the fact that david cameron has been cagey about his use of drugs.

i don’t expect mps to live perfect lives, but all i want from them is that they are not hypocrites about the way they live their lives and the way they expect us to live ours.
so i hope greg barker is afforded the privacy he seeks.

though i couldn’t go without mentioning how carefully the bbc worded their reporting of cameron’s support of barker

“newspaper reports suggest mr cameron will stand by mr barker, who was elected to the house of commons in 2001. “
cameron isn’t behind barker as that would just lead to too many chortles, at least from those of us who are fans of carry on movies…

- 8

i remember: ireland

there are a few things you need to know about me: not a great traveller, not a great family person and i am a klutz.

when i was a kid we didn’t have too many family holidays. at one point it was because my parents were too busy being publicans and then it was because they were too poor (though in hindsight i suspect it was more to do with the fact that they liked to have their barneys* in places they were comfortable). to be fair i can’t remember ever feeling deprived by the lack of holiday trips, but i suspect it has meant that the lust for travel isn’t in my bones.

one year i went with my mum to visit her family in ireland. her dad had a farm on the west coast of ireland. in it he had raised 14 children and countless cows. the farmhouse was old and traditional and to my young eyes it was going to be hell: no tv.

i didn’t fit in with the local kids and i didn’t really get on with my cousins. i was in the middle of nowhere.

there was a night we went into town; on the long walk back down the dark country lanes my granddad told horror stories. i didn’t sleep that night.
then there was mad uncle peter (big families always have the mad uncles), one night he stayed in the farmhouse to baby-sit me, he told more horror stories, but some how being next to the roaring fire it didn’t seem so bad. when i fell asleep he put me to bed fully dressed, including my dirty shoes. this went down well with my mum when she came back from her night on the town.
mad uncle peter also took me to the coast, a few minutes walk across the fields or a longer hike if you went exploring. we went exploring and ended up going through nettles and brambles. no problems for him, but i was in shorts… mind you he made a phenomenal mashed potato dinner with plenty of butter and fresh from the cow milk.

ah the cows. there i was in my little converse ankle high trainers (they may not have been converse but of that style) running around the fields. running like the wind, galloping freely (alright i wasn’t going that fast) and then bish bosh one foot goes into a cowpat. cow shit all over the trainer and down inside of it. i am not ashamed to say i cried. it was horrid.

still it was when i was over there i learnt of my uncle mick, he was blind but didn’t play the blues, however he did catch a leprechaun and kept hold of the little fella all night long. his reward for this amazing feat was the golden shoes of the leprechaun. which he wore proudly on his watch chain.

i only met the granddad the once. when he died the place just became a home for the family. i never went back; i never kept in touch with that side of the family. i don’t really miss it.

but that one trip allows me to say musha musha wira wira and mean it.

*for the american readers a barney is an argument and not a dinosaur.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

- 9

i remember: violins.

when it came to being a musician i sucked, and sadly there are few instruments that involved sucking. i tried to bass, i could barely keep a plodding 4/4l, ask for frills and i was in danger in breaking my fingers.
no chance of a rock star career for me.

when i was with annemarie one of the important lessons i learnt was: parents want the best for their kids (true both of mine told me this time and time again, but i just thought at was parental propaganda).
the other lesson i learnt (and perhaps a subsidiary) of the first lesson is that parents want to live vicariously through their kids.

hence the violin.
no it wasn’t my idea.
annemarie was a scouser (i am guessing she still is) and they think music is in their blood. matching me for having no musical talent it became the task of the kid to become a musician.
hence the violin.

now you have to remember that i was a surrogate guardian to the kid, which meant i didn’t get consulted about stuff, but i was expected to be supportive of what annemarie wanted to do. i entered the kid’s life when he was 4 so i missed his first words (also missed the shitty nappies: yay!) now was a chance to hear his first perfect note.
given the nature of my relationship with annemarie and the kid i need to explain the very special demarcation of tasks that annemarie had developed: i got the shitty tasks.
it soon became apparent that supervising the violin practice was a shitty task, and guess who got to take the nightly practice. yup that would be me. now practice was just 10 minutes, 10 minutes of doing scales and going over what he had learnt in his lesson the week before. 10 minutes. not much time at all. well that is the case if you happen to be an adult, if you are a 9-year old 10 minutes is an eternity.
so we would sit there. i would ask him to practice, he would say no, i would explain that if he didn’t practice it didn’t mean that i would read to him or play with him. i would explain that if he did the 10 minutes that he was supposed to do he would have the rest of the evening to play, to read, to visit friends. i would badger, cajole, hector and harangue. it all fell on deaf ears.
sure he would tease with a few lazy pulls and pushes of the bow across the strings until eventually he had done enough to qualify for 10 minutes. except that it would take anywhere between an hour or two to get done.
i wasn’t adverse to listening to the screeching of his violin (hell i have cds based around looped screechy noises) what i resented was the fact i was having to give up so much time to something that i wasn’t keen on.

but i tried my best. i tried to show the kid that the violin was cool. look at how the violin player of horslips rocks out, check out the violin licks from david cross on king crimson records. tried to amaze him with jean luc ponty’s playing on zappa records. it was all met with a stony silence….
i was encouraging, i was enthusiastic i was the energiser bunny of violin practice, but you have no idea how painful it is to listen to someone scratching their way through “baa baa black sheep” or “twinkle twinkle little star” (both of which are so similar as to be almost indistinguishable if the player has little talent…)

many years after annemarie had booted me out i got a call from her. she wanted to borrow some money from me (it made me all warm inside to feel so needed). it was the kid’s 18th and as part of the reward of loaning her the cash i could meet up with him if i wanted to. i did. i was gratified to discover that i still loved him (i am not ashamed to admit i teared up at the meeting), that i had cursed him with the love of star trek and that he was a guitarist in a rock and roll band.

but i will never forgive him for those hours wasted with the violin.


i remember: farting

i have been a decent farter throughout my life, true i was no la petomane and never saw a career as a fartist, but i could let rip with the best of them. alas as with all things bodily as age draws on physical abilities wane and now i enjoy the farts but they are no longer humdingers.

there was the time at the london school of economics when after a particularly bad lunch that involved a salmon sandwich i was searching out an obscure article on sociology in the library. searching out the journals i was bending down to pick up a copy of the american journal of sociology i felt a rumble. standing up to check the contents page i felt the explosion and as i turned to the article i needed i puckered up my arse and let slip a note that miles davis would have been proud of. long, low and piercing.
pressure removed.
time to get back to the journal and the assignment in question.
oh my fucking good googly moogly what is that smell. it was like all the demons in hell had defecated on to a giant george foreman lean mean grilling machine and let is sizzle….
it was the most foul smell i had ever smelt, and there was a fleeting shame that this smell had come from me.
now the library was quite busy, and for anyone approaching the journals it would be so obvious that i had just let fly with eu du sewage. i did the only thing a sensible man could do: i legged it. the problem was it meant that i had to walk through the miasma that was my fart.
i went to the second floor and waited the smell out.

the next fart i did that was of a similar potency was years later when i was working in the warehouse. thanks to the interference of her majesty’s customs we would sometimes have to work a long night and have an early start. the joy of working late was the company stumped up for food. that meant a late night curry.
the next day was always a succession of lads letting fly with farts of varying sounds and smells. we were living in a benny hill show.
this particular day i was packing.
and i was farting.
all around me the lads were wilting and complaining. oh well i had to suffer their house music they had endure my arse music.

now i will have a little digression here. at this time our general manager was a posh rotund chap, who gave the impression that he was a captain of industry rather than the jumped up used car salesman that he had been (ok they had been classic used cars). aside from the bellowing blustering voice, the other thing that jd was noted for was his large hooter. jd was affectionately known as bnfc or big nosed fat cunt.

so there i was packing away. as soon as i packed a box i would slip a parp out. a few gasps from my fellow workers. their exclamations of horror would be met by an apologetic smile from me. slowly the lads either side of me moved as far as way from me as they could.
i continued packing.
another box was finished, at that point i let rip with a killer fart, it wasn’t loud but it did announce itself. it wafted out as a shock wave of smell. even as it exited me i felt a sense of pride. imagine my surprise as i heard the voice of bnfc wailing “good god what is that smell.” jd had walked straight into the slipstream of the fart his hooter had hoovered up more than a lungful of the pat perfume.
his normally ruddy face had taken on a little green sheen.
it was a moment of pure triumph for me.

it was also at the warehouse where i met maybank. he was one of the young lads who got the job because one of his mates also worked there. now maybank was notable for many things (i will forever be in his debt for the term “wankbank”) but he was probably most famous for his ability to drop farts that hans blik would have described as weapons of mass destruction. if saddam had known of the existence of maybank he would have kidnapped him and used him in experiments in order to discover to the ultimate in toxic warfare.
judging by what came out of his arse one could only believe that maybank was fed ripe road kill. he was at his worst in the early morning when he would just drop farts as if he was a b52 unloading over vietnam.
he once told a story of how he felt sorry for his mum who would wake him up in the morning by lifting up his duvet to catch a full face of his morning guffs.
just hearing that brought tears to my eyes.
as good as i was at farting i had to take my hat off to maybank (mainly to cover my nose).

but i can’t complain i have had many good years of cutting the cheese.