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Monday, December 31, 2012


to friends and readers i wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2013.

whatever you do - make 2013 a good year for you and yours.
and why not try to make the world a slightly better place by the occasional random act of kindness, a good deed here and there.
it can't hurt and who knows it might even make a difference.

to the future.


i was going to do a review of the year but then it struck me that 2012 has to be in my top 5 worst years of my life, not so much for any one thing - but because it was persistently shit.
so no review - after all i have no wish to revisit the good creative ideas i had and left to wither and die because i did nothing with them.
i am not too keen to look back on a year where i pretty much did nothing, nor am i interested in looking at how full of self-pity i have been.

all in all a pretty wasted year.

the one thing that has struck me throughout the year has been the generosity and good will of my friend.
it has left me humbled.

here's to hoping that 2013 is more productive and more constructive than 2012 was.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


george osborne was happy to announce that he was capping the increase of benefit payments to 1% a year for the next three years, or it might even be six depending on who you listen to.

the sun newspaper, among others, greeted this with much applause and acclaim. that'll teach 'em seemed to be the basic gist of it. those feckless shirkers won't be able to keep living the life of luxury that is so out of the grasp of the heroic strivers.
as far as the sun is concerned: the cap fits..

as ever this ignores some inconvenient facts (but never let it be said that 'the sun' deals in fact).

the sun, who love to run stories of the feckless poor living in very large houses or with huge plasma screen tvs, have fallen foul of their own hype. they now believe that everyone on benefits is living it up on the sunny side of the street. in truth the large majority of people who are on benefits of one kind or another are struggling to make ends meet.

furthermore the majority of people on benefits are actually working. the real crime about benefits is the the large number of working poor. in effect the state is subsidising the low pay practices of many companies. so the cap will hit these families.
but you can't mention that there are all these working poor getting benefits because it undermines your baisc argument that these benefits are going to lazy shirkeers.

iain duncan smith, a man who seems to be losing the plot daily, has recently made an argument that if the benefits to the working poor are cut and restructured this will encourage companies to pay more than the minimum wage to the low paid staff.
quite why they would do that is not explained and frankly you have to wonder what ids has been smoking.

oh but hold on that 1% cap might just hit those who are leaving the armed forces and will be needing state benefits to get by on.
now the sun is complaining about the measure - as it will hit 'our heroes'.
that's what happens when you bring in such a policy. it also goes to show you should think before you run your stories praising it (to be fair you wouldn't have had to think too long or too hard to see the major flaw in it).

the sun is a bit upset. (such a fickle bunch).
now it seems the cap is too tight.


d'you remember when we were all told that privatisation would be good for us?
go on admit it: you do.

i think it is always good to remember it at this time of year.
we have had the energy companies up their prices (they must be cursing the fact that it hasn't been that cold a winter so far - so not going to have super profits. still on the plus side that means they can go cap in hand to the government for more handouts).

now we are on the cusp of increases in public transport.
efficiency won't have improved.
services won't have gotten much better.
prices will just go up.

here is my prediction for late 2013.
energy companies will announce price rises.
public transport companies will announce price rises.

i am a fucking psychic.

Friday, December 28, 2012


it is that time of year when the gongs are being handed out.
there was a time when i thought it might be fun to get a gong of one sort or another (and i would still be chuffed to bits if i were ever to get one) but i have realised that the chances of me getting one are very slim.
it's okay i won't be losing any sleep over it.

most of us realise that they are pretty worthless - they don't make the person any better than they already are and it is not like they only go to worthy people.
over the last several years the honours system has been tied up with a certain amount of cronyism and, for want of a better term, bribery: give the party enough cash and get an honour.this has served to debase the honours system (this isn't to ignore those who believe that there shouldn't be an honours system to begin with, but that is an argument for another time).

there are two things that annoy me about the gongs.
firstly there is the attention that is always paid to celebrities who get gongs - as if they need any more attention or publicity. according to the press release that accompanied the honours list just over 70% of recipients are not personalities, yet most of the coverage that will appear in the media will be all about those celebrities who have received a gong of some such.
here is one of the problems of modern culture: the adoration of celebrity.
david cameron still, very occasionally, mentions 'the big society' and if you ever wanted to promote such an idea then the gongs would be a perfect way of doing it. all those people who have been given an honour for the work they have done in their local communities or for charities, getting rewarded for their hard work. yet the media are just not interested in those people, so much easier to do a puff piece on a celebrity and their award.
it is an opportunity lost.

the second thing i really hate is the humblebrag of some people who are quick to tell you that they have not accepted their award. this time around one of those people is ken livingstone. he was offered a cbe (commander of the british empire), he refused it. no problem with that at all. it is a matter of principle for him, and good on him for sticking to his principles.
i just wish that he would have kept quiet about it rather than go on a bit of a media blitz to make sure that everyone knew that he had been offered one. he did say he had no problems with athletes getting them, as they have given up so much (and some, well me, would say that quite a lot of them hadn't done to bad out of their participation in sport), while those who had done good work in the community also deserved to be awarded.
perhaps it would have been better if ken had ceded centrestage and let some of those unsung heroes their moment in the spotlight. though that would have meant ken not being in the spotlight.

who knows maybe next time no celebrities will get one - that is sure to get people talking.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


right now my sleep patterns are not normal.
they are all out of kilter. every time i think i will get back to a normal mode of sleep i do something stupid and suddenly i am looking at 3am on the clock.
not good.
time for some drastic action.
time for less computer and more books (remember them - have pages and words and don't need batteries), maybe even less coffee (oh hold on - let's not be hasty).

so bed early. read. fall asleep. get up. run. and repeat. get a new habit going.
it will do me good.


there are several things that happen this time of year. people drink too much and spend a lot of time moaning about their hangovers and promising never ever to do it again; honest guv.
people eat too much and then spend days worrying about their weight and look around for quick solutions. january is a good month for those quick solutions: a lot of magazines and papers will be carrying their own surefire quick fix diet - drink brussel sprout shakes with a dash of horseradish and the pounds will melt off (and friends will leave), sort of thing will be everywhere. these will be aided by the every popular fitness dvd, for sure there are less of them now, but a celeb of some sort will have their fat burn muscle toning dvd out there for you to buy, watch once and never put back on - still that is £10 not spent of doughnuts.

jo swinson, a cabinet minister and a liberal democrat, has entered the fray and has written a letter to all magazine editors asking them not to promote fad diets.
the letter went out today, not the best of times to be telling magazines to change what they might be having in the january issues as most of them are already on the newsstand now - ready to be bought. still at least she tried.

ms. swinson makes the point that regulation isn't always the best way to get change to occur, this would be the famous 'nudge' technique beloved of david cameron, and at least this way she can avoid being accused of nanny statism.

still ms. swinson has a point. fad and crash diets work, if they truly do, only in the short term and have possible long term health consequences. much better to be sensible and make small changes for long term and permanent gains. exercise more, eat less and eat better. yet the helter-skelter nature of modern life almost precludes this, besides we all just want a quick fix.

jo swinson makes another valid point in her plea and that is that magazines and newspapers make an effort to "celebrate the beauty of diversity in body shape, skin colour, size and age",
fat chance of that happening

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


i guess i shouldn't push it. i really shouldn't jinx it; but what happened to winter.
yes it has been wet, very wet.
there have been a few days where it has even been chilly, nothing that i would call cold.
so much for 'the beast from the east' we were supposed to be getting.

goes to show that weather forecasters are just like economic forecasters - just holding a finger up in the air and guessing.
the love that americans have for their guns is bizarre. even more so when events such as the recent school massacre takes place, as then we see the odd twists and turns of logic that are used to defend gun culture. this is one of those moments where we have no touchstone to the debate, it is one of those moments that reminds that regardless of the all pervasive nature of american culture we are not like them.

i am still shocked when i see armed police rock up at my local beigel shop so that they can fill up on a salt beef with pickle beigel and a cake.
the day when i set the alarms off at downing street, a simple mistake to make i can tell you, and was approached by a machine gun wielding copper was a little tense. while his finger never left the trigger you could tell that all he was thinking was: 'stupid tourist'.

so, as much as i hate to say it, i agree with piers morgan (i know the shame of it), when he told the executive director of 'gun owners of america' "you're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?"

the only problem is the fracas it has caused.
quite a few americans have started a petition to get piers morgan deported.
why do they want to do this? for them they see that he has made an attack on the constitution, specifically the second amendment. not that i want to defend mr. morgan - but surely in the land of the free that has an amendment that guarantees the right to free speech that is a little questionable.
or is it like all debates that involve free speech - at some point you are arguing that some speech isn't free, where in this case the gun lobby is picking which amendment to defend.

as i said at the start there is no point in me getting involved in a debate over gun culture in america. i don't understand it. i will never understand it. what i do know is: we don't want piers morgan back.

so please american gun lobby you need a stalking horse to win back support, surely you have someone among your ranks who can out debate piers. i am sure ted nugent isn't doing much next month or so (unless he makes good on his promise of what would happen if obabma was re-elected). look i don't care who you find to debate with piers morgan but find someone and keep piers in  the usa.

we don't want him.

he's yours now.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


there are reports that london is due to face its coldest winter in 20 years. they have even started calling it 'the beast from the east' as it is a weather pattern that is coming our way out of russia (i tell you those newspaper editors are clever guys).

talking about temperature's as low as -12 in some parts, and -5 in london.

the bbc's weather forecast for london is not quite as grim.
though the one thing we know about weather forecasting is that it could be done by the office for budget responsibility based on how reliable it tends to be.

however i can tell you this: no matter how accurate that forecast is the things we can guarantee is that airports and railway system will close down and suffer severe disruption at the first drop of snow. that local councils throughout the land will not have enough grit to cover their roads, and even if they do they will do it too late for it to be effective. that there will be lots of talking heads muttering about how places such as canada, switzerland and russia cope with these situations so much better than we do in the uk.boris will use it as further proof that there should be an estuary island airport, while baa will say it proves that heathrow needs to be expanded. the business community will demand that government does more to weather proof the infrastructure, while also complaining that taxes are just a bit too high.
to make matters worse someone somewhere will ask someone from the taxpayers alliance just what they think.

gotta love winter.


some things you just can’t deny: i am a comic geek, or more to the point i am a comic frother.  i get excited about comics. comics are fun. they have been the backbone of my reading habit.

along the way my love of comics sparked a love of toys and merchandise.
this is the curse of collectormania.

naturally enough i want some comic style goodies to populate my advent calendar. like all, well most, kids growing up i used to pretend that i was a superhero (i also wanted to be captain kirk, but that is, as they say, another story).

dress up is what i am talking about, well sort of. i am not talking about the full on tron guy style of dress just shows why men of my sort of size should avoid lycra at all costs. 

this would not be a good look for me

no i am talking about the sort of dress up that comes with having an accessory or two.
a few years back a new line in comic book related merchandise was released, high grade replica’s of superhero weapons. among the releases were captain america’s shield (yes please) and thor’s hammer (oh yes!), both were limited editions and both were expensive. i didn’t get either. in the world of cheap wishes it is time to correct that by adding both to my advent list.

thor’s hammer would have come in useful during the duller of the manager’s meetings i had to attend (that would have been most of them), it would have proved useful to *ahem* hammer home a point, or just to call the meeting to an end. while captain america’s shield would have been a blessing at retailer events providing protection against the mass of retailers trying to grab a goodie bag, or two (the scoundrels).
i would have wielded the hammer and shield justly.
(because i am a bit of a geek i have also added in thor’s helmet and the original, not used for long, captain america’s shield. 

the two shields of captain america, the modern one is better for throwing -i'll need to practice that.

what every hammer wielding pat would wear to work.

excelsior! pat assembled.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


spam was never a favourite food of mine. i think i was put off any meat that came in a can that had a key the day i was given tinned ham and it was covered in gelatinous gloop. yuck city.

i don't really like spam emails they clog up my system. it is not like i am ever going to accept the wonderful and various offers from winning untold amounts for any injuries i may have suffered or false insurance i have been sold. nor do i trust someone who sends me unsolicited mail to operate on my genitalia to make me hung like a horse. even though the russian girls who have sent me email introductions have been rather cute i have managed to resist temptation (though i may have kept their photos - well it would be rude not to).

recently my blog has been spammed.
lots and lots of comments that make almost no sense at all, as if they had been written by monkeys on their way to creating shakespeare.
worst still the vast majority of them are for ugg boots.
i don't like ugg boots. i am never going to wear a pair. they don't make women attractive - all wearers of ugg boots look like they have come off the set of planet of the apes.

so no more ugg boots please.
thigh length pvc boots yes.
knee length leather stiletto boots yes.
ugg boots no.



libraries have always been special places for me.

from my  first visit to roxeth library to the most recent visit to the local idea store (a flash building with lots of activities but not as many books as you would expect) libraries have always been somewhere i could dip my toes into amazing worlds of fiction or paddle in the stream of human knowledge. 

i loved the thrill of looking for books, searching for that elusive title, the joy of locating it.
mastering the card index at roxeth, moving on to the microfiche and the dewey decimal system, as used by college. then it was the online system and the library of congress classification system (not as much fun as dewey that’s for sure).

libraries used to be places where people would shush you if you whispered too loud. college libraries were places where places where people only complained id you spoke loudly. the idea store seems to be a place where silence is rare.

the one thing that has remained constant throughout all my trips to libraries is they all have a copy of the encyclopaedia britannica.
i have always wanted a proper encyclopaedia.
and if you are going to have an encyclopaedia you may as well get the best one ever – the encyclopaedia britannica. sadly the encyclopaedia is no longer published and is only available online, for a subscription price.

as this is my fantasy advent calendar i am not going to settle for an online subscription and so will get the printed version. i could get the regular 32-volume edition £1195 or i could go for the limited edition renaissance bound version at £2495, only 500 copies available. however the publisher has sold out of both versions.
that’s not part of the plan.

so it looks like i am going to have to try amazon. they don’t have it, but one of their market place sellers does. they are offering the regular edition for the somewhat inflated price of £4341.52, plus £2.80 postage (yeah i think that will just about cover the cost of shipping the 32-volumes).

well it is only money – so i’ll add it to my list. 

the regular edition

the limited edition

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


have i told you i don't watch much tv?

i have this old big chunky tv that sits in the corner that rarely got turned on to watch tv programmes and now that the world of tv has gone digital it never gets turned on for anything other than watching dvds.

my main problem with tv is that much of what i wanted to watch was on channels i never had.
or that when there was something i wanted to watch i was never organised enough to actually get home in time to watch it.
there was a time when the only things i watched regularly were 'the teletubbies' and 'sunset beach'.

i know there is a lot of good tv out there and i would like to start watching some of it again. if i am going to do that i may as well get a new tv. something big, something fantastic.
if i could what i would love to have is one wall lined with multiple screens so i could flick between various programmes - a cross between a turner prize installation and the matrix.
for the purposes of this advent calendar i will skip over that and just settle for one tv screen.

so how about the samsung 9 series ue75es9000 full hd 75" led 3d tv?
it comes with freeview and freesat built in, and with the wonder of technology it eliminates nearly all flickers and produces almost lifelike viewing pleasure. a cinematic experience. no need to hunt for the remote as you can interact with this tv by talking or waving at it - that should make bbc's question time more interesting!
it doesn't stop there - through the wonder of the internet and apps there is more content available than you could care to shale a stick at. apparently it will never go out of date (the so called future proofing - that many tech companies are offering, which i am sure works until the next must have release comes along and tech envy kicks in). because it is 3d you get four pairs of glasses to watch it with - well you need to have something you can lose or else what would be the fun of it?

i tell you it is a winner and i want it (until apple tv comes along).

the wrestlers of the wwe will never look better.

according to pc world now is the time to get it as they have taken £500 off the suggested retail price and right now it is available for the knock down price of £7499, cheap at twice the price.

see how thin that is? i would probably lose it in the mess...

social media is a wonderful thing. sort of.

back in the day all we had was tv - and then just three channels, and then not all day coverage. or there was the radio. you could go and see a movie. you could read. you could go out adn chat to your mates.

that was all pre computers (i had a mate who built himself a computer, he also built himself a synthesizer and he looked a little like brains from thunderbirds), pre internet, pre smartphone pre social media.

back then a lot of experiences were shared. you would go to school and talk about the tv programme you had watched as there would have been a good chance that your mates had seen it, or they had listened to the same music station on the radio.
now with so much content available in so many different ways such conversations don't happen as much (oh ok i am ignoring the reality tv phenomena - if only because i don't like it and i don't understand it).

strangely while social media has allowed us to find our own sources of entertainment and information - granting us a potentially unlimited access to what we want making us all very heterogeneous, social media such as facebook and twitter are treated as if they are homogeneous and that what a few people saying on one of these platforms is somehow a representation of what we all think.
while we are all hunting for that pithy comeback in a 140 characters or scouring youtube for that video that backs up our point of view or we spread post-truth propaganda via facebook these personal moments are now becoming used to prove that we are all alike - even if we are not.

the joy of broadcasting is that we are, often confronted with views we don't agree or don't like and we are asked to think why we don't like them.
social media allows us to narrowcast and choose only to listen to those we agree with.

the thing is with more and more forms of social media popping up we become even more fractured as we try to check out these new platforms to see if they are better than what has come before.
some of us are on facebook, myspace (which has been revamped) there is blogger, wordpress, tumblr, flcikr, glogster, pinterest, myjam, twitter and who knows how many others.
to this roll-call can now be added microsoft's

i'm on it.

the funny thing is i am not really that sociable a person.
the internet loves irony.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


it's not a big secret that i don't like the christmas period. this wasn't always the case. as i have gotten older i have become more cynical about the whole thing.

some of it is to with the unholy alliance between rampant commercialism and unbridled consumerism.
some of it is to do with the rubbish that is fobbed off as entertainment - from comedy books that are just not funny, songs that are so anodyne that they may as well be sleeping pills and films that are so syrupy that they will give you diabetes.
some of it is the false bonhomie that comes over people (mostly manic or pissed) or it's antithesis of people who rail against christmas but still indulge themselves.

as i have gotten older i have become more and more like the grinch.

but if there is one thing i really hate about christmas it is shops and such like playing christmas songs.
now i don't have a thing against christmas songs as such. there are great christmas carols and there are great christmas pop songs, and i have been known to sing along to a few of them (admittedly my contribution has never been warmly received).
no what i can't stand is muzak versions of christmas songs - where all personality, warmth and fun have been driven out of the song.
as bad as that is there is an even further torture for the music lover - the jazzy reinterpretation of christmas songs. i am not talking about making them swing, i am not talking about giving them a be-bob sound. no i am talking about slow low and elongated jazz vocal stylings that take a fairly upbeat song and contrive to turn it into an lengthy funeral dirge with a vocal warble hear and vocal trill there.

it's not real jazz.
it's no real music.
it's just cruel. 
it's utter fucking shit. 

it should be banned and if the european human rights act wants to prove its worth it could start with jazz christmas vocals.
the world will thank it.



in case you don't know it: i love coffee.
i don't drink quite as much as i used to.

it can be a straight black coffee. it can be a latte. maybe a white chocolate mocha with an extra shot of espresso. it is all about the caffeine. i can enjoy a coffee while sitting in front of the computer. i enjoy it when i am watching a movie. i can drink coffee alone in coffee shops and watch the world go by, or it can be with compnay (coffee is always improved by a good conversation).

i love coffee.

so it makes sense that on this advent list of advent list there should be a coffee making machine.

i give you the jura giga 5 one touch bean-to-cup coffee is very good when it comes to microfoaming (i am not even sure what that is), swiss engineered it is designed to deliver the perfect blend of coffee and milk. it is whisper quiet and can prepare the milk and coffee at the same time.comes with intuitive controls. also features thermoblock heating and venti ports - i mean what more can you say. 
oh swooping brushed aluminium. winner. i'm sold on it. 

best of all it is just £3,750. (or  1250 cups of coffee at my local, wonderful, coffee shop: street coffee at brick lane).

Sunday, December 02, 2012


i am a keen photographer. (many would say i am not a good photographer).
i have often maintained that the art of photography isn't about the kit you use but the way you compose your photos.
you can have a pretty basic camera and be able to produce fantastic photos because you know how to frame an image. if you do not know what makes an interesting shot having the world's most expensive camera isn't going to help you one iota.

not that in my advent calendar of desire that makes any difference.
i am sure my photos of graffiti strewn walls and rubbish in the street will be immensely improved by me owning a hasselblad h5d-200ms. a snip at £35,874. as it comes with no lens i might as well add a full set of hasselbald lenses - which will add another £44,000 to the price.
cheap at twice the price.

just looking at it makes we want to rush out into the street to find a crushed can of coke or a stray shoe to photograph.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


the recent by-election has been trumpeted as a victory for the labour party. which is a bit odd as they were the sitting party in all three seats. if they couldn't ensure they stayed in those seats then there would have been something drastically wrong with them.

as it turned out labour could be smug.

the conservatives and the liberal democrats both had to fall back on the 'mid-term by election' excuse for their poor performances. for the liberals this is new ground for them as they would normally be the ones getting victories at by-elections, problem for them now is that they are a party in power and that means they are being held to account not only for what they say, but also for what they do.
(the one thing they are being crucified over is the broken promise of no tuition fees increase, even though the terms of the loans are more generous than previous the government has been hit by the fact that pretty much every university hiked up their prices as much as they possibly could. oh dear, who would have thought it?)

ukip appeared to be the party that did the best out of the night, yet for all that the best they did was come second. it is doubtful that this is going to happen to them when it really matters. pretty much in the same way that the british national party is described as a threat to parliamentary democracy every time there is a general election and every time the votes are counted they are nowhere, i suspect that the same will happen with ukip. come the big day they will revert to being a fringe party.

one of the big losers of the night were gorgeous george galloway's party, respect. nowhere did they even come close to repeating his success in bradford west, and no matter what they say on their site ("respect is increasingly well placed to be the credible progressive left alternative when labour comes back into government") it is hard to see them getting much success anywhere that 3g isn't standing.
(and it wouldn't surprise me if george and his team decided that the best way forward for him and respect would be for him to stand as mayor of london when boris makes his move to become the leader of the conservatives).

the main result of the by elections was to leave some of us with hope that at the general election we might just avoid seeing an outright conservative victory.
well it is better than nothing.


with christmas just around the corner and advent calendars springing up i thought i would join in the spirit of the whole thing with my very own advent want list.
it is a want list so very much different from a needs list, or a 'well i would really like that as i can use it'. or even 'hey that's a cool thing to have'.

this is a list of things that well i just desire. some of them i know i would never use to begin with but still want. some i know i would never use to their full potential but hey who cares - this is my wants list and i will do what i want with it.

i love rock music.
of all the dream professions i wanted (policeman, fireman, astronaut - to name a few) being in a rock band was right up there. everyone wants to be the singer, it's a cool role, you are the front man, you are the star, the focus is on you. plus all you have to carry around with you is a microphone. how easy is that? however that wasn't for me as i couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.
that also meant being a drummer was out of the question - stuck at the back and all that gear to carry around. no thanks.
that left guitar or bass.
i quickly discovered that my fingers were too fat for guitar - pesky six strings. bass it was, just four strings on a big chunky neck. easy.

now it is not like i was running to the bass because it was easy. no some of my favourite musicians are bass guitarists. players such as geddy lee of rush or chris squire of yes. the bass plays an important part in rock - it helps drive the song along, it is the backbone of the sound. so i was going to be a bass player.
i could play bass. write epic lyrics. rock the world.

well that was until i discovered that i was pretty shit at keeping time. (this will come as no surprise to anyone who has agreed to meet up with me - i have a fluid concept of time). malcolm gladwell talks of the 10,000-hour rule to become an expert at something, i may have devoted that much time to air guitar but i never quite got that close to spending a 100 hundred hours practicing on the bass.

that doesn't mean i don't still lust after a bass guitar.
when i occasionally wander down denmark street i still look in the windows of the music shops and drool.

so as my first lust item i have chosen a bass, but i have gone for a stand-up electric bass. for no other reason than it looks pretty sweet.

i want the slb200 silent bass (though i do hope it isn't silent as i might as well just stick to air guitar), it has a retail of just £2669. 

oddly as my music taste has broadened over the years i can now think about making ambient noise or drone. maybe i can get away without having 10,000 hours behind me?