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Monday, December 31, 2007


so ends 2007. it was a bit of a duff year. the only big events were crap ones. i shan’t be sad to see the end of it.
unfortunately 2008 opens with me having to make some stark choices about my future. a fact that makes me feel like a grown up, and i don’t like it. with luck and some thought what looks to be a less than pleasant situation might at least have some positive benefits. we shall see.
here is to you dear reader may 2008 grant some, if not all your wishes and desires. may it be a good one.

2008? bring it on.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


there i was in coffee@ having a nice relaxing coffee watching the world go by (oh alright i was ogling the ladies walking by). in-between sips and ogles i was glancing through one of the free sheets that festoon the coffee house. in the middle of one was a free year planner (well cheap calendar); one part of the planner was a listing of the various world and international days.
boy are there a lot of them, and most of them are so so worthy.

the year starts off with world braille day (january 4th) and finishes with international human solidarity day on december 20th.
if those two didn’t get you excited how about world religion day (january 20th)? or maybe international mother language day (february 21st) (a day when we all speak our mother tongues – well for me that is pretty much every day…) perhaps world water day (march 22nd) is more your speed? let us not forget may has world asthma day quickly followed by red cross crescent day. june and july don’t want to get left behind so they have world blood donor day, world oceans day, world population day and world youth day (among others).
and so it goes for the rest of the year when you can have international literacy day, international day of peace, world sight day, world food day, world diabetes day, universal children’s day.
phew that is a lot of days.
some even get whole weeks such as walk to school, national vegetarian week, recycle now week and national adoption week. national allergy week doesn’t quite make a full week – it maybe they all come out in spots mondays and tuesdays are concerned.
some get months there is a go veggie month (because a week isn’t really enough) and black history month.
as if that wasn’t enough 2008 will not only see liverpool as city of culture but will also see the international year of planet earth.
double phew.

all of the days are worthy, some more so than others. several seem to clash with similarly themed days. i am sure that there is a sensible reason why there is a black aids awareness day and a world aids day, but from the outside it seems divisive and could imply that that aids is more a problem for one section of society than another.
why the need for a world water day, an ocean day and a day about desertification and drought. why not bring all these pressing issues together and make a bigger (ahem) splash about the problems that we may face over drinking water shortages, the rising of the oceans, and the pollution of waterways?
why the need for a day to eliminate racial discrimination and a day for tolerance. well we know why there is a need to highlight the problems around racism and the lack of tolerance, but are they not part of the same problem? can they really be highlighted by a day in the calendar that no one pays attention to?
why a literacy day, a book day, a book and copyright day. again similar sorts of aims, make it all one day.

the probable reason for all the days is because it gives some administrator somewhere something to do, it creates work for fundraisers – much better to be a sponsor of a “day” than just a normal everyday sponsor. it isn’t that the day gets covered and the general public can go “oh never thought of that! what a good idea…” it is more that the various organizations involved can point to something that they have achieved in tangible terms. it gives the various experts in the field a pleasant junket where they can clap each other on the back in nice settings.

so i want to get in on the act. i want to start a series of days. it worked with international speak like a pirate day, so it must be able to work with other ones.
my first few days include:
international sits in the armchair snoring day.
international wear marigold gloves day.
world walk backwards day.
world do nothing much on monday day.
international sing celine dion hits day (i know i know but the canadians deserve something…)
world swear like a trooper day.
world day of no days.
national free pole dance day.
(feel free to contribute your own, but remember truth can be funnier then fiction as 2008 is also the year of the potato.)

if you want to find out more about the various days and the good work that is attached to them get on over to the united nations website ( and check them out.

putting aside all sarcastic quips and cynical commentary make 2008 a year when you did something of which you can say: in my own little way i made a difference.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


i love travelling by train, there is something civilised about it. if you wanted to you could make an analogy that trains show what is both good and bad with the country, well you could, i won’t…
on all my recent travels by train there has only been the one occasion that there has been a serious delay. for the most part it was handled professionally, until the crew of the train changed and then we were all left in the dark again.
in the main i have find the staff to be very helpful, except the bloke at crewe who directs passengers to the various replacement coaches who is the most miserable jobsworth that ever lived.
most of the time i travel by virgin trains.

i am impressed that they can run four first class coaches that will have very few customers in them, but only run five standard class coaches on the same train that will be packed.
i am impressed by the ticket prices that are going to rise once more above the rate of inflation in 2008.

poor old tony blair wanted so desperately to leave an enduring legacy (it seems it is the done thing for politicians to want to leave something of note behind), his dream was partially scuppered by his involvement in iraq but it was also hampered by his blind loyalty to the thatcherite economic ideology of the market always being right. if he had been able to shake off the blinkers of thatcherism as easily as he has converted to catholicism he would have realised that one of the easiest ways of establishing a legacy would have been to renationalise the railways.

the point of privatising the railways was manifold: to break the power of the unions, to fill the public coffers and, of course, to prove that the market is the best way to do anything. the profit motive being the mainspring of innovation, entrepreneurial vision and efficiency.

well that was the plan. that was the spin.

for the railways it has meant a worsening service and increasing prices. there has been padding in the timetable in order to be able to say 95% of trains are now on schedule.

as it is christmas not only is it a time of deep religious belief it is also the time of bonuses. it is impressive to see that sir richard branson is about to trouser a £24 million dividend from virgin trains. all very nice for sir richard, who is a man of the people, well a man of the very rich people.
the dividend was defended as being a reflection of the companies “ success in attracting more customers”.
but hold your iron horses there pardner (see what i did there?) virgin have attracted more customers, so more customers means more money coming, means more profit. so by the rules of the profit motive and efficiency prices should come down! it just doesn’t work that way.
so virgin, whose service isn’t the best are about to put their prices up again. once more it will be above the rate of inflation. once more the reason will be to invest in the company.

lets not forget that for all the talk of the railways being private enterprises all the rail operators have their snouts in the public trough. virgin alone has had over £1 billion in public money to help subsidise their operation. frankly if sir richard can get that sort of money out of the treasury perhaps he does deserve is dividend.

even better people like sir richard get feted for being great businessmen when frankly even i could make a company work if i knew i was going to get public money, i knew i had a captive market and i know i could raise the prices when i wanted to.

today there were complaints that the rail system was going on a virtual shutdown for 50 hours, there were calls for the government to make sure there was a better service next year. the government said (rightly) it was for the train operators to make the decision.
we all know that private companies have not provided us with a better service, even the politicians. the political class do not want to invoke nationalisation for fear of upsetting “middle england”, meanwhile sir richard and his ilk are laughing all the way to the bank.

gordon brown do you want to have a legacy? well i tell you what you need to do and that is nationalise the rail. you will have your legacy, you will save money and you will be hailed a hero.

Monday, December 24, 2007


is out dropping off presents to all the good boys and girls. he is even being tracked by norad. there is peace and calm in the air. to my firends i wish a happy christmas and a prosperous new year. health and happiness to all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


i have a nice coffee. i am in brick lane. i have seen some good art. i will have another coffee. i will see a movie.
truly it is the simple things that make life worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


i hate amazon.
sitting here waiting for books that should have arrived by now.
i hate amazon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


red sky at night; shepherds delight,
red sky in the morning; shepherds warning.
(sometimes this is replaced by sailors.)

needless to say to comic fans it just means one thing....
crisis on infinite earths.

(right that is about 3 people who'll get it and the rest (another 3) scratching their heads.)


who is that man with spider-man?
is it santa in his empty grotto?
or me freezing in a very large, very cold warehouse.
(photo taken by lesley - not sure if i should thank her of not!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


“…if you put a rat up a drainpipe and he can't do anything to get out, what's he going to do?" so said david handley one of the fuel protesters.
the answer is pretty simple: the rat is going to be stuck in the drainpipe until it dies or is let out. not quite the rallying cry that mr. handley was after.

the fuel protests of this weekend met with little success with the number of protesters in the tens and not the thousands.
oddly while they were not succeeding in getting their message across (and it seems to be “we don’t want to pay taxes mr. brown and can you persuade the oil companies to settle for just super profits and not outrageous profits?”) the usa was succeeding in their scuppering (once again) of any chance of their being any targets in the quest to stop climate change. the american’s preferred approach is one where countries assume a voluntary stance to cutting their emissions.
hey i believe it will work!
we can see it in the attitude of the chinese and indian states: hey you can’t stop us from industrialising; you did it so we are going to as well.

as for the fuel protesters they will no doubt be back, they will complain that their industry and their livelihoods are under attack (as they are the only people that has ever happened to) they will appeal to the self-interest of drivers everywhere and sometime soon we can watch the spectacle of cars queuing up at petrol stations to fill up because a few truckers and farmers will have blockaded a fuel depot somewhere.
showing that where the environment is concerned self-interest rules the roost.


been doing a lot of walking. it is the easiest way to get to work. as far as the journey goes it is pretty much a straight line, well one that has some bends in it. oh bugger it! all you need to know is it is an easy to navigate walk.
so most mornings there i am doing something that is a cross between an amble and a stride, enjoying the sounds the pipe through the earphones (and let me tell you there are times when you want a 26 minute acid mothers temple wig out, but walking down a loooooong road is not one of them, what is needed is a rock solid beat that trips away like a jackhammer tearing up the road) just minding my own business.
one of the joys of the walk is you rarely see anyone, and depending on the time i set out i might not even see that many cars.
the corollary of this is that i am one of the few people around which means that i become the de facto local expert. so now as i stramble down the road i am getting cars stopping me and asking me how to get to x or y. not once has any of them asked to be pointed in the direction i am going so i can say “shift over and follow my directions”. then in hope they will show me some half baked map that they have been sent and while map making techniques have come on in leaps and bounds these scratching that the drivers hold in their hands look like something ptolemy may have drawn – all that is missing is “here be monsters” warnings.
as i say the route i walk is pretty easy and there is a reason for it being so: it is a long big road that runs through a large industrial park. curiously it never appears on any of their maps, even though it can probably be seen from space.
it confuses me, and loses them.
all i can offer is a desultory “i think you need to go back the way you came”.
you would have thought the fact i was walking was a big clue to my possible inability to direct them to where they wanted to go. any port in a storm, as they say.

still not the strangest question i have been asked all week, that prize goes to emma. though being a gentleman i am not going to tell what it was, but it did make me smile.

Monday, December 10, 2007


me looking like a very bad ghost or extra from star trek.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


now i have never made any claims to be the happiest bunny on the planet. nor can i claim to be the most miserable man to stride the streets. if you consider the happy miserable continuum then you would have to place me closer to the miserable end.
for various reasons i get even more miserable at christmas. truly i become the grinch.

i suppose it shouldn’t be a shock to me but for some odd reason the sight of a long haired man with a big beard seems to bring out the joker in people. add that to the time of year and you get santa comments a go-go.
what i like about all the comments is the fact that each person thinks it is the first time it has even been said. how clever they sound, how smug they look, especially those somewhat merry men who spill out of pubs with their pals. each thinking that they are the next jimmy carr when really all they can muster is a poor impression of syd little.
truly if looks could kill i would be a mass murderer.

so there i am out with a friend (hi hebe!) we are off to a gallery (what can i say it is what i do) when some one shouts out “merry christmas”. i greet it with my usual stony fuck off and die attitude, while hebe giggles her wellies off (yes she was wearing wellington boots). to her it was funny.
which again goes to prove i am miserable.
but there is a moral to this story (well sort of).
put your hand down cliff i am going to tell you the moral without being asked.
it is a simple moral: “if you can’t beat them join them!”
so the next time some drunken fuck says “hello santa” he is going to get a “ho ho ho” and i will have done my bit to spread good cheer.

(and just to show there is a little bit of joy in the world a rather attractive punk lass referred to me as saint nikolai – see a little originality there, ok ok even if she had called me santa i still wanted to fill her stockings….)

(see what i did there? sometimes i am fucking great…)

(enough it is late and i am rambling…)

Friday, December 07, 2007


brick lane. good coffee. good music. pretty ladies.
life is good.