Wednesday, December 28, 2005

ITV's Cash Cab, A Moral Lesson on Greed. Here Beginneth the Lecture...

Being sat at home for Xmas, slumped on a sofa a good amount of the time, it provides the perfect opportunity to sample such television as ITV's 'Cash Cab'. The concept, for those of you who've eaten fewer boxes of biscuits this week than me (and therefore are able to escape the sofa more readily), is that an unsuspecting punter or punters flags down a black London taxi, and on getting in are confronted bythe cabbie/compere, who says he'll take them where they want to go or...

Or they can opt to embark on a low-budget mobile Millionaire, where they answer a series of progressively harder questions for increasing payouts. It even has lifelines and everything. I like to take it at face value and believe that it's all above board, legit and on the level, and in no way staged, fixed or otherwise interfered with, purely because I love the concept.

I would love to see someone turn down the offer of the competition and see ITV devoted 15 minutes of airtime to showing a woman with some heavy shopping's ride from Covent Garden to Muswell Hill, with occasional breaks in the silence while the cabbie swears at the otherdrivers he's in the process of cutting up.

In fact, the whole thing just by its very nature necessitates an horiffic car accident caused by a driver distracted by flashing lights as the happy passengers answer a £1000 question by using their third lifeline. Grim, but it's going to happen if this tragic, yet diverting, programme continues. Still, it'll make them a few bob in selling it to It'll Be Alright on the Night XXXIV.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Deadpan Conversations With Shop Assistants. Vol n

Scene: A hardware shop. The air is alive with Christmas spirit.

Shopkeeper: Hi.
Me: Hi. Have you got any mousetraps?
SK: (Points in the direction of the mousetraps and comes over to talk me through the purchase)
Me: Ah, 'The Little Nipper'. I'll take three of these, please. Hang on, what are these?
SK: Plastic ones; they don't kill 'em, see?
Me: No, I want them to die.
SK: (Shouting to teenage daughter who is chatting away on her mobile) Come and do the till!
Me: (To the shopkeeper's teenage daughter) That'll be 2.97.
SKTD: Aw, you've done the maths for me!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

On Getting Hit By A Motorbike; and Why That Isn't an Advisable Thing to Do

In a round-up of the most exciting things to happen to me over the last week, getting hit by a motorbike probably comes top. It views closely with receiving in the post an entirely unsolicited copy of the New Scientist's 'Does Anything Eat Wasps?' book, with no note in the handwritten envelope. It was postmarked 'Croydon' (I don't know anyone in Croydon). Getting hit by the motorbike is, however, probably more noteworthy and interesting than receiving a mysterious book. Both these things, were you a more suspensful and less cyncial and sarcastic writer than I, would make good starts to spooky-ooky ghost stories.

Anyway, I got hit by a motorbike last week. Fortunately, for me at least, not seriously. I've been left with a couple of cut up knees and a dodgy limp. It was on Seven Sisters Rd, the lights were red, I was crossing a few cars down from the crossing itself, failed to see the motorbike filtering down the middle of the road, and got hit. There was quite an interesting moment where time stretched out and everything went veeeerrrryyyyy sloooooowwwww, and I think i said 'fuck', which wouldn't quite have been the best last words. I must be more prepared. Anyway, once time had caught up with itself, I was on the floor, quite shaken, checking what was wrong with me. I'd got up, and then a tramp came and gave me a hug. This wasn't entirely appreciated, and added considerably to the unreality of the situation. Some kind Samaritan came and removed the tramp, and checked that I was ok. My main emotion at this time was embarassment, and as everything appeared to be in place, I limped slowly back home to check my bits. Fortunately, photos don't exist of the wound on my knee, but suffice to say: 'ugh'. On the phone to NHS direct, the nurse, trying to see how deep it was, asked if I could see white bits that looked like worms. Maybe? Ugh, my insides are disgusting.

I was eventually badgered by my long-suffering other half to go to the Walk-In Clinic at the Homerton, missing none of the irony that my walking wasn't my strong point. However, the surly receptionist said it was shut, which meant I had to go to A&E. I hate A&E. It's all people with pint glasses embedded in their heads and kids with their eyes superglued shut and waiting for ever and oh-god-the-boredom-amid-the-agony. My beligerent side was disappointed not to have to wait very long, and then I was whisked off, told to get into a gown (the sort of backless/bottomless number that I leant a certain effortless sexiness to, even under the less than ideal circumstances of bleeding everywhere), while a succession of good-natured doctors and nurses took turns to go 'ugh' at my knee, embark on a lengthy discussion about whether the inside of my knee should be quite that colour, jab me with a tetanus shot when I wasn't looking, and then when finished cleaning and poking me, let me hobble off to get a taxi.

The taxi driver, however, was rubbish. Good-naturedly rubbish, but rubbish all the same. He kept asking us for directions, which given that Homerton Hospital is hidden away in the most confusing part of Hackney possible, didn't inspire confidence in getting home ok. Fortunately we did, and the driver tried to haggle himself out of a fare, while we haggled him up.

Anyhow, the moral of this story is: don't get hit by motorbikes.

Hope you all have nice Christmasses or whatever, and hope you have a humbuggery-free time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shoes and the Drummer from Pink Floyd

I've just had a nasty shock. I've just been given back these trainers back. They're mine. I'd forgotten about them. The were a TK Maxx purchase, where glittering discounts distracted me from the trainers themselves. They're now only used when one of us goes to a fancy dress party as Jerry Seinfeld, which happens more regularly than you might think. I'm all sad now. I think I'll have to put these shoes away. I was in the Wood Green branch of TK Maxx last week though, and I avoided buying any ill-fitting and/or ill-looking clothes simply on the basis that they'd been on sale at a higher price somewhere else, so I think I'm learning.

I've managed to misplace the book I was reading, so I've started on the not-so-promising-sounding Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd by Nick Mason. The Drummer. Anyway, it's actually quite good, and he seems to have quite a good memory, especially for technical details. A typical sentance runs 'the studios boasted the then state-of-the-art Tannoy Red speakers, the definitive speaker of the era'. A caption for a photo reads 'I had a brief flirtation with a perspex drum-kit made by the American company Fibes. I was captivated by the idea of an 'invisible' kit, but in fact they were very difficult to record successfully'. Phew. Bet there was a bidding war about the tabloid serialisation.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Xmas CD

December, eh? Well, without further ado, it's time to get on with the tracklisting for what the chosen amongst you will be receiving over the next couple of days. It's my way of saying Merry Xmas and enforcing my musical tastes on you like a Führer Christmas.

Track One: Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl

Yay - pop! In which Ms Gwendoline denies that she is a girl who hollas back, and who, dear listener, are you to disbelieve her? Features some of the most breathtaking spelling of the word 'banana' in a pop record. Well, mis-spelling. It's best not to dwell on the line 'my shit is bananas', really. In fact, I think this may contain the most swearing of any record I've ever heard. Amazing.

Track Two: Beck - Go It Alone

Beck back with actually quite a good album - his best since his Prince-Shoulda-Sued-Like-A-Mad-Midget-With-Badass-Lawyers album, Midnite Vultures. Good dooting (as the noise is technically known).

Track Three: The White Stripes - Blue Orchid

Looking back, I'd forgotten that this was the taster for their new album. An important moral to the song too: don't go painting flowers colours that they aren't, or else you'll have pasty hat-wearer Jack White to answer to. This issue has previously only been dealt with in adverts for Simple soap, and never before in stomp-rock.

Track Four: Queens of the Stone Age - Little Sister

My one forray into Kerrang territory is testament to my high regard for the awkwardly shortened QOTSA. I don't often say this, but: nice solo.

Track Five: The Brakes - Ring A Ding Ding

A Brighton supergroup (featuring a man who once went to a British Sea Power gig, Electralaine's postman, and a man who's role in the band is to loudly declaim on the topic of why there's too many people down from London this weekend), which is utterly derivative. Utterly. There's no excuse. It's Roxy Music's debut single, Virginia Plain. They throw in the start from the Sex Pistol's Anarchy in the UK to try and put you and your copyright lawyer off the scent, but all the same. And it only lasts ninety seconds too. Refreshing.

Track Six: Goldfrapp - Lovely 2 C U

Characteristically good track from the woman/band described by me and my mate Tim when they were supporting some indie band somewhere in the late-Nineties as looking like the band formed by the science teachers of a secondary school in order to impress the sexy trainee art teacher who was with the school. While this remains one of the best pieces of description in music criticism, it needs to be noted that since then, the science teachers haven't got anywhere with the Miss Goldfrapp, who now has Qualified Teacher Status, although the Head has some concerns about the clothes she wears to school. And her spelling. It takes some gumption to out-Prince Prince with that title.

Track Seven: Gorillaz - Dare

It is hard to add anything to the simple joy of being able to go, 'It's coming up, it's coming up, it's coming up - it's DARE!'. The video gave me nightmares, and I'm surprised one or more government ministries weren't mobilised to the threat of giant pock-marked Shaun Ryder heads lurking in houses, taking up entire rooms, connected to all manner of gadgetry and barking away. Ugh.

Track Eight: Le Tigre - Nanny Nanny Boo Boo

Features mannered rapping, synth stabs and general greatness.

Track Nine: LCD Soundsystem - Tribulations

Continuing the 'get up and dance' section of the evening, we have this track, that fair motors along, while telling you to cheer up and stop moaning. It's over three times as long as The Brakes' track, for those who want quantitative comparisons instead of flimsy floaty whimsy.

Track Ten: Clor - Love+Pain

I have to confess that I don't know what a clor is, but this should be a track that sets indie disco floors alight, if such things exist any more. 2005 was the year of jerky angular music, wasn't it? I think 2006 will be feature more orchestras, and will have less skinny boys in shirts.

Track Eleven: The Kills - No Wow

What I was going to do here was have a track by The Black Keys as well, and make some clever point about bluesy two-person bands. It would have been brilliant. However, CDs are only 80 mins, so you can't have that. You'll just have to wait for the director's cut in 2015. On that topic, are there no directors who, on reflection, think their film should have been shorter? Christ knows I've sat through some three-hour piece of shit often enough, the only thing keeping me conscious being the hope that someday, a Director's Cut DVD would be released transforming the bloated gut monster of a movie I was sitting through into a lean punchy thrill-a-minute wonder. Yes, Lord of the Rings, I'm talking about you. Don't slouch at the back there - get on with some bloody work.

Track Twelve: Antony & The Johnsons - Fistful Of Love

Ah, I couldn't have undermined my point much better if I'd tried. This is the most overblown-with-knobs-on kind of tripe that normally falls heavily on its velvet-trousered arse, but seeing as it's here on this CD, you know it's actually as if the Memphis Horns were reformed by a group of talented mediums with ouiji-trumpets. I've saved you from having to go into a record shop and ask for a Fistful of Love, which is likely to put an end to your pleasant retail experience. I've also prevented you from needing to type 'fistful love' into a search engine, which I guess won't help your job security any, unless you're currently working for a gay porn mag. If so, what's the holiday entitlement like?

Track Thirteen: Ryan Adams - Easy Plateau

Right, Adams, I've got a bone to pick with you. Stop releasing albums. Yes. Just stop. I've bloody got enough on my plate, without having to listen to another one of your bloody records. Just go on holiday. Go and work in an office. Give me a break. The bugger has released three albums this year that I know of. There's no feeling of anticipation with a Ryan Adams album, because you've already got a backlog, which grows larger all the time. I think he receives massive EU subsidies through the Common Agricultural Policy to overproduce his country-inflected songs, while in the Third World there are families who don't have enough pedal steel guitars to feed their children. His record company even tried to help the situation, with a creditable attempt to supress the release of the Love is Hell album, but the best they could manage was to slow the tide while the album trickled out as two mini-albums. Many good record company men were lost in this battle, and it is in their memory that this compilation is dedicated.

Track Fourteen: Richard Hawley - The Ocean

Ah, now here's the lush smoky-voiced late night lushness I've been hankering after. He comes close to sounding like a British Johnny Cash or Scott Walker on the album, which is much less laughable than it sounds.

Track Fifteen: Madeleine Peyroux - You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

My mum says, and always has, that Bob Dylan was a great songwriter, and a rubbish singer. With this borne in mind, lots of people have covered Crouch End Bob's work, often passing over the option to include the sneering and screeching that Zimmerman favours. This, from the excellent Blood on the Tracks, is one of my favourites, and benefits from the slightly maudlin tone that only a breathy jazz cover can give it.

Track Sixteen: Lord Kitchener - London is The Place For Me

Erm, this was recorded in 2005, ok? You'll just have to take my word for it. It's great though.

Track Seventeen: The Decemberists - The Sporting Life

These, from Portland, Oregon, America, are a wordy bunch of buggers, and currently holders of my Album of the Year (although by the time I've closed these parentheses, this may well have changed several times and settled on being something else entirely). I've selected this track above others mainly because it effortlessly plagiarises Iggy Pop's Lust For Life, but with a little tale about sporting ineptitude. 'They condescend to fix on me a frown' is a great turn of phrase.

Track Eighteen: The Dresden Dolls - The Jeep Song

I've previously raved about this track. it's still great. And it's still 2005. So listen up, punks, and get an earful of when overly theatrical goths make brilliant music. Their live version of Black Sabbath's War Pigs is very good too.

Track Nineteen: Johnny Boy - You Are The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

OK, I'll freely admit that this was released in 2004. However, for sounding like a fight between the Supremes, the Manics many years before they went shit, Fireworks Night and Christmas, with a title that even the Manics would have rejected as too much like tubthumping, I let them slip into my 2005 cd, and we'll have nothing more said on the matter, eh? At least we will if you know what's good for you.

Track Twenty: Low - Just like christmas

As though the last few songs with their increasing use of sleighbells hadn't signposted where we're going, here's a proper Xmas song. Except it might well be about being disappointed by a lack of Xmas feeling. But what do lyrics mean, anyway? Stupid songwriting. More sleighbells, I say.

Well, that's that all wrapped up. Have good xmases!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mmm, Pasties

I am finally the picture of ruddy faced health that I've always longed to be. Now, I'm not sure what the RDA (as defined by the EC Nutrition Labelling Directive 90/496/EEC) for pasties is, but I can be fairly sure that in the last 24 hours I've exceeded the level of pasties necessary for general health purposes, having eaten the best part of 3 (three) pasties. Yes, I'm sure I've derived all of the important P vitamins a healthy body needs for a long, successful and tasty life. Mmm. I'm not averse to commercial sponsorship deals, Greggs and The Cornwall Pasty Co., you hear?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hangover, Posters from the Past and Hand-driers of the Future

Hangover Cure of the Year: Greggs Vegetable Pasty (85p). All the greasy stodge you need, and none of that pesky cutlery to faff about with. A winner.

While idly buggering about on the web while waiting for someone on the end of the phone line to look something up, I came across this site, which displays frankly alarming propaganda posters. Well worth a quick flick. However, Queen Mary's Army Auxillary Corps (slogan: 'The GIRL behind the man behind the gun') features a rather loutish young thing on the recruitment poster, who appears to be giving the 'wan-kah!' salute. Not quite sure what their role in the war was, exactly. I'm not going to dwell on it.

There is a trend for increasingly powerful handdriers in toilets. Really powerful. So powerful that they flatten and contort your skin while you hold them under the drier. I'm not sure they're entirely safe, but they are a minor thrill in my small, small world. Should you wish your life to reach the soaring peaks of mine, the ones I've used are at the fun factory otherwise known as Stansted Airport, and at Gordon's Wine Bar by Embankment. Run quickly!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Money-Saving Tips, Or; It Could Be You

As people who have noticed the shortening days and increasing levels of sparkly spangle in advertising, you can't but be aware that Christmas looms like the final roast potato that you are compelled to force down your gullet, despite being full already, you fat pig. Christmas, along with all that, is associate with the Traditional Seasonal Overdraft, and being short of money, because you're out being sociable.

Well, I can offer you a partial solution to this. It will save you upwards of the £1 a week you spend on the national lottery. It simulates precisely the feeling of the lottery, but with none of the cost. There are several steps:

  1. Go to The National Lottery's website.

  2. Choose your numbers and enter them (choose carefully - numbers that are imbued with personal meaning are sci-en-tif-ic-ally proven to be luckier than those chosen by an infinite number of monkeys).

  3. Extend the time to 180 days to maximise your fun!

  4. Click 'check results'.

  5. a) weep because you didn't win OR
    b) weep because you won, but failed to have the foresight to put those numbers on on Saturday, 20th August 2005, like an idiot

There you go. A quid saved, but with all the misery and let-down of the real lottery. You could even imagine Philip Scofield if you like. Laughing at you. All grey-haired and supercilious. Ugh.

Friday, November 25, 2005

When the Entire Metropolitan Police Force Interupted My Flossing

At about quarter-to-twelve last night I was disturbed from my flossing (yes. Flossing. Dental hygiene is important people. Be the best you can be.) by a ringing at the door. On answering it, there were four or so policemen standing outside. The confused converstation ran something like (surnames have been changed to protect the clearly innocent):

Massed Policemen: Do you live here?
Me (holding some flossing tape, with a towel slung over my shoulder): Er, yes.
MP: This is 52, yes?
Me: Yes.
MP: Do you live in flat A?
Me: I live on the ground floor; I don't think they're called flat A and B.
MP (more assertively): So that's flat A is it?
Me: Maybe?
MP (shifting tack): So who lives upstairs? Is he a black man?
Me: No. He's a white guy.
MP: What's his name?
Me: Er. Guy.
MP (unconvinced): What's his surname?
Me (names have been changed, but he does have a similarly implausible name): Snow. Dog. Guy Snowdog.
MP: How long has he lived here?
Me: Er, years.
MP: Mind if we ask him?
Me: Er, no.

The police file in up to the upstairs door, revealing that there's now about nine of them; the uglier, larger members of which had been hiding (actually, when they're that large, it's impossible to hide. They can only lurk being that size). When they've established that Guy The Improbably Named is actually caucasian, and has lived here for er, years, they troop off, disappointedly promising to update their computers.

It was very odd.

It is a month till Christmas. Just thought you should know.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Binge, Berlin, Binge

According to a report by the London Assembly, art galleries in the capital should open until 10pm at weekends, in order to provide an alternative form of nightlife to binge drinking. Doesn't prevent binge pretension, with police desperate for new legislation to help them deal with the predicted chaos when hordes of art-lovers spill out onto the streets at 10.15pm, full of loud opinions and looking for fights. Doesn't bear thinking about.

In happier news, I've just got back from Berlin, where I cycled round looking cool and went to a bar where a fire-breathing metal dragon looks down on you, breathing fire, and a Brazillian funk band, featuring at least one Mafia boss (on sax and 2nd percussion), played Brazillian funk. Also it was cold.
Wouldn't it be nice just to get through one day without someone talking about binge drinking? When they stop talking about it, I'll stop doing it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Headline What I Seed

The Islington Gazette at the moment has the faintly horrible headline on its boards:

Why I Killed Hooker
on lurid flourescent paper. Mmm. Nice.
The best one of those I've seen (headlines, that is, not dead hookers - I don't keep some kind of all-time mental top ten of murdered prostitutes - what kind of man do you think I am?) was one in Crouch End:
Crouch Enders Oppose Concrete Plans
"Let's go to the King's Head tonight, and we can watch the comedy. Meet you in the pub, table by the door at quarter past seven, no, tell you what, make it eight-ish, or should we meet earlier, perhaps at the clock tower? Tell you what, I'll give you a call, maybe." There's a possibility the headline was about a concrete factory and locals' response to it, but it doesn't seem very likely now, does it?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Surprising TV, Warband and Boxer Shorts

Now, it comes as much as a surprise to me as it does to you that the best comedy series I've seen recently was a) on ITV and b) Mike Bassett: Manager.

However, it was. Great performance from Ricky Tomlinson and supporting cast, very well produced with great attention to detail (Wirral County are a very believable team, their main sponsor being Wirral Rubbish), and a very sharp script (the scary Serbian war-criminal who is the team's goalkeeper being one highlight). All that, and it proved to be the one ITV programme this century not featuring Ant and/or Dec.

If you're in the general area of Brighton (that's the South East, you ignorant nerks) tonight, you may wish to go and see the peerless Warband who playing at the Pressure Point this eve, with a promised start time of 8.30pm. I, sadly, am double-booked to go to a drinks thing at the LSE, where I will cement my future in the upper firmament of Higher Education by sharing jokes and flirtatious banter with Sir Howard Davies, Director of the LSE . Why, Howard, you're looking particularly ravishing tonight...
The other day, I was woken by the barking of my neighbour, followed quickly by a ring at the doorbell. Not having time to dress, I answered in my vest and boxers, to find a postwoman with a parcel for next door. She then had to go back next door to leave them a note, but was chased there by the menacing wheelchair-bound neighbour, angry that she had parked in the sacred zone between the tree and the lamp-post. So, were you down my road at 8.30 on Tuesday morning, you'd have been confronted by the sight of a postwoman being chased by a barking (in both senses) man in a wheelchair, followed closely by a barefooted me in boxers and vest attempting to calm him down and assure him that the van would be gone from the precious, precious realm of no parking. I actually had the Benny Hill chase music going through my head, and were you recording it on a camcorder, you could speed it up and overdub it. I tried to choreograph a segment where we'd all be chasing each other round a big tree, and emerge in the wrong order, but I couldn't get all parties to agree to this. Shame.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

We Value Your Call and Will Answer As Soon As Possible

I write this entry while I am on hold. This in itself is bad enough. However, the song was some horribly icky bit of what we used to call swingbeat. Worse even than this, the song mocked me by having some tight-trousered man straining his vocal chords (and possibly his cords to, although he's more likely to be wearing a pair of leather trousers, isn't he) singing the main lyrical refrain of 'I'm waiting, I'm waiting, I'm wa-ai-ai-ting for YOU. FOR you. For yoo. I'm waiting. (Etc.)'

Oh, they've answered now. Hello? Hello? Oops, I should be speaking now, not writing. Sorry.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chores of a Domestic God

Hello internet. My main preoccupation at the moment is the Wahsing Mountain which has recently formed following the moving in together of two people who don't do their washing often enough, but still have the dignity to insist on fresh underwear every single day. Going through the various strata, I have found socks I had thought gone forever, which was a teary and emotional moment.

May just have been the smell though, ho ho ho.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Series of Poor Excuses for My Neglect of You, the Internet

This will come as no surprise to any of you who have ever taken any of the responsibilities thrust on you as an adult, but it really needs stating again: British Telecommunications PLC are exceedingly shit. They excel in the field of being crap. Their heavily paid directors are given bonuses based on the number of fuck-ups in the previous quarter. Bastards all, to a man. And I speak as the son of a (now-retired) BT worker of 30 years.

Attempting to pay the final bill from my previous flat, I was on the phone for half an hour, and my final words to the supervisor (who sounded no more in a position of power than a teeny kitten in a sack weighted with stones plummeting towards the canal-bed) were 'can you note that I will never, as long as I have breath left in my body, use BT again? And can you add swear-words to that as you see fit. I am very angry. Yes, thank you, goodbye.'

I think I'll punch my dad next time I see him.

Woo. I've just moved house. This explains the lack of posts recently. I now live in Brownswood Park, which is an area that exists only in the quasi-reality of the A-Z. It's actually Finsbury Park. There have been many things over the last couple of weeks, involving, in no particular order of precedence:
  • Estate agents. Hundreds of 'em. Each more cockroachesque than the last. There was one who was possibly redeemably human, but she had an unnerving ability to misnavigate any given route by heading, moth-to-a-flame, to the site of whatever traffic jam, roadworks, paperclip factory fire, serious road traffic accident, protest march of militant antidecimalisationalists or any other time-consuming road event happened to be in the vicinity.

  • A landlord who could out-fussy the princess in the story of the princess and the pea, even if the mattress were a thousand feet of lead and the pea were an atom's weedy cousin who can't catch a ball and bleeds too easily. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but we had to clean the house to his exacting standards. I can imagine him dressed in formal eveningwear and a monocle, running his begloved hand along a skirting board and tutting to himself while horribly tiny dogs yap at his ankles.

  • The tenants of the flat we were about to move into not - actually - moving - out. Argh.

  • Getting boxes. This is far more difficult than it sounds, and even now when I catch sight of something even slightly cardboard-coloured, my heartrate quickens and I look round furtively to see if anyone will notice me sneak off with it so that I can fill it with books/clothes/issues 1-724 of 'Build Yourself a Matchstick Galleon in only 725 issues (Issue one comes at a special price and includes a FREE matchbox)'

  • The ceiling in our new flat falling in shortly before we were about to move in.

  • Me almost getting into a fist-fight with a mentally ill man in a wheelchair. Really. Less fun than it sounds. I have a feeling that this is the sort of thing that Ricky Gervais has in mind for every episode of 'Extras'. Or Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. It doesn't reflect well on me.

  • God himself peeking out from between the clouds to mock me, in a deeply personal way.

  • Reading a lot about Hitler. That puts you in a bad mood. Stupid Hitler.

  • The futon smelling funny in the new house. Now we have nothing to sit on. Additionally, the whole house smelling a bit. Doesn't smell so bad now, I think.

  • British Telecom somehow being responsible for everything bad that has ever happened to me
All this, and I have to worry about the fact that I can no longer really be the angriest man in Crouch End any more. Hence the shamefaced slight change of title. Ah well. Such is life.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Cameron Jogs to Victory

One of the papers this morning, I forget which, had the headline

Cameron Jogs to Victory
on the board outside. When I got inside the newsagents, there it was, a picture of David Cameron, jogging. Really, the headline should have been
Cameron Jogs
or at the very most
Cameron Jogs to to the Shops
I don't know the intimate regulations surrounding the election of the new Tory leader, but I can be fairly confident that it doesn't involve a running race between the two leading contenders. This would, however, be preferable to the current system of Who's Taken the Least Cocaine?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Virtual Naffness

[Warning: Sports follows. You may want to look away if this offends you]
Want to know what it would be like if you were Luke Young in last night's England v Poland match and the ball was sailing over your head for the Poland goal (would you specifically like to know what it would be like if you were also very badly sighted, and were surrounded by less than convincing pixellated representations of all concerned, and the laws of physics were suspended for the day)? Yes? Or did the sentence just confuse you, and you said 'yes' because you were confused, and didn't want to seem rude?

In any case, you should look at this where the BBC represent the exciting moments from last night in glorious Shockwave-o-vision. It isn't actually as bad as all that. It is supremely pointless though. I suppose if you had someone who was scared of football stadiums (a formerly top-flight linesman who witnessed Wayne Rooney getting changed, the trauma of which gave him a breakdown), but was going through counselling, and had to be slowly introduced back to them, but Match of the Day was too upsetting, then I suppose it's of some use. Unlikely though.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My Birthday

It's not long until my birthday. This doesn't give you much time to buy me one of these. Or much time to save up for one. But I'm sure you'll find a way. Thanks.

Busy at work, so not doing much buggering about on the internet, hence lack of posts here. Oh well. The only thing I can think of recently of any importance that has happened to me was the other morning when I woke up, the radio was playing Britney Spear's 'Toxic'. I turned off the radio, and snoozed on. When I eventually woke up, I had in my head a fully formed version of it with alternative lyrics entitled 'Toksvig', in which all the lyrics were changed to be about Sandy Toksvig (pictured here, as the caption suggests 'sharing a passion for Europe'). I have deliberately forgotten all of the lyrics, fortunately, but I was massively disturbed, and this feeling remained for most of the day.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Not the Angriest Man in Crouch End for Much Longer

OK, a slightly maudlin post here. Get those hankies ready, people.

I will no longer be the angriest man in Crouch End. Dammit, I will no longer even be the angriest man in Haringey. The reasons for this are twofold: I'm moving out and Alan B McMurray has just moved into a flat on the Broadway, and he's a mean sonuvabitch when you get on the wrong side of him. Why, just yesterday I saw him punch square in the face fellow Crouch End luminary Bernard Butler for no reason than he was looking older and shorter than he used to. To be honest, I can't compete with the likes of that.

So, I'm moving in with L and swapping Crouch End for either Finsbury Park (for the realists amongst you), Highbury (for the elitists amongst you) or Brownswood Park (for the esotericists amongst you). Whichever way you look at it, we make out our council tax cheques to London Borough of Hackney.

Since you ask, yes, the flat's very nice, thanks. Email me if you want me to send you crap photos that the letting agency vampires took that are rubbish and make the place look like it's underwater when you're drunk and wearing glasses with marmalade on them.

I belive the pressure group Crouch End for People have arranged for a tickertape parade to accompany the transit van down Tottenham Parade, so if you want to come and help me lug boxes, please let me know. My important collection of shingle, stones, pebbles, granite, various igneous and sedimentary rocks, concrete slate and hardback books are all coming with me, you'll be pleased to know. Cheers.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Wassssuppp, internet? Sorry, I've been away for a while.

I feel like the king of kings at the moment. I've just cycled down Unlikelihood Rd, and all the lights were green and there was no dog shit or idiot pedestrians ambling about in the cycle lane. Today, I phoned up BT, and got them to remove a charge from my account. Yes, thank you, thank you. Through supreme use of logic, pertinent repetition, speaking loudly and clearly, and not getting pissed of and swearing, I managed to wear down the steely defence of the poor call-centre infinite-monkey-on-type-writer who had the misfortune to answer my call. Even the solid defence,'but Sir, it is BT policy to charge a reconnection fee of £10' fell before my steely sword of jusitice. And so, in conclusion: I'm the best.
I went to Berlin with L, which was fun. Germany is better than Britain for these following reasons:
  • Germans cycle everywhere, on the cute old-fashioned bikes, which makes everyone look sexy.
  • Germans patiently wait at traffic lights until they have turned green even if there is no traffic coming.
  • (and this is the clincher) When you are confronted by someone walking directly towards you, instead of doing that embarrassed shuffle where you both look like Allblacks doing that crazy war-dance before the stupid rugby match as you try and avoid each other, Germans always go to the right. Always. There hasn't been a collision on German pavements since, er, a certain difficult period in German history that perhaps I'd best not go into in this light-hearted page of frivolity. Ahem. Anyway, it's great.
Anyway, I'd best go. Stupid London.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Black Gold

I've been wondering, amidst this Crisis of Crises at the petrol pumps, how one purchases petrol without being one of the dreaded panic buyers of petrol that you hear so much about these days. Do you saunter casually, whistling, perhaps wearing carpet-slippers, fill your tank only half full, stop and glance at the newspapers, pick up some wilted roses and charcoal, pop your pasty in the microwave, and engage the attendant in conversation at the weather? I think THE GOVERNMENT should issue advice.

I've been on holiday. Berlin, if you didn't know already, is great. And that's that.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Out of Office

I'm going on holiday at the end of the week to Berlin. This is a good thing, and it will be fun going round the tourist attractions (The Stasi museum, the Holocaust memorial, the Berlin Wall, the bonfire of puppies, the hundred foot high Benny Hill statue, etc.), but as they insist on being foreign, this means that I've got to get some funny money. Being ever the sensible one, I'm getting Travellers Cheques (it's American Express who have omitted the apostrophe, the sods) to pay for the hostel. They're insured, they're accepted by my hostel, I thought, they sound so useful, convenient, why haven't I bought them every time I've been abroad? What an idiot I've been.

I discovered why I've never bought them before. It's because it's a task that is matched only in its difficulty to complete by the amount of time that it took. I would have thought that the fact that recently I've taken to dressing like a postman (sky-blue short-sleeved shirt, shorts, sandals, satchel, thousand-yard stare) would have meant that they'd've been more willing to help me as a fellow post-facilitator, but did they buggery.

In preparation for going on holiday I have removed my swiss army knife from my key-ring and left it at home. This means that now I won't get delayed, arrested or otherwise interfered with. More importantly, I won't lose my precious precisious knife, like I do every time I go on a plane. The down side is that I've not been able to open boxes at will, and have had to go to my desk to get a pair of scissors to do the job. Also, I will have increased difficulty with those nylon tags on new clothes, I'm quite sure.
The hostel we're staying in, and includes a handy guide to Berlin, also handily in English for us dumkopfs. It's even funny:

"GAY AND LESBIAN SECTION; well, that speaks for itself."

"Gay and no into house? That´s what we call a minority. Visit the alternative night at the Schwuz –"

Well, it displays a tolerant sense of humour to gays, at least. I sense that all german humour is the kind that were it British would be punctuated always by an exclamation mark! But it's nice to see the effort.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Me vs All Builders, Everywhere, For All Time

Right. You'll forgive me if I sound annoyed, but there is a man drilling holes into concrete directly over my head. This is loud, prevents me being able to answer any of the million phone calls I'm getting today, and occasionally causes plaster to drop from the ceiling, which doesn't improve the flavour of my coffee, despite what they might think upstairs. Gah.

Hmm. It's ok now. They've stopped. Only to take up frantic hammering. And bear-wrestling, to judge by the thudding and roaring. If only I had an inquisitive nature, I'd go upstairs and find out what they are actually doing. Instead, I'm going to sit here and waste my time and your time. My guess as to what they're actually doing upstairs is that they're botching something. Possibly quite badly. With uneven surfaces.

Friday, August 26, 2005


I'm up to 'Echoboy' now, thanks for asking.

Today, I feel like the King of Cool. I'm in the office on my own, and I've brought in my little 4 1/2" black & white telly, and I'm sat watching the cricket. No need for the over by over commentary on the Guardian, thank you very much.

Saw Nick Cave at Ally Pally last night, which was absolutely great, again. Probably among the top two gigs I've seen, and seeing as the other one in contention is Nick Cave at Brixton Academy last year, the boy's doing ok. The band came out and played very heavily and were just amazing. And there's not many fortysomething christians who can say that. Sadly, I wasn't able to add to the Nick Cave teatowel I bought at the last gig. The Nick Cave kitchenware range seems to have stalled somewhat.

Alexandra Palace itself was interesting. I've not been to a gig there before, but the place has been done up in a tribute to a shopping centre's homage to what a palace would look like. Very odd.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

File That Son-of-a-Bitch

Just to keep you up to date with what's happening in my exciting life. I'm an administrator by profession, but I've now turned this passion to my home life. I'm currently reorganising my CD collection. Radically. I've decided to get rid of all the plastic cases, and compact them all into a specially bought chest, which has hanging file dividers with dinky CD files in. Currently, two days into the project, I've made slow progress through A, B and C, and as I left it last night, I was hovering around the DJ Shadow mark. If anyone wants plastic cases, cd trays (both black placcy and the highly sought-after unbroken transparent trays), or the more esoteric cases available such as double/triple cds, slim jewel cases, a couple of natty orange semi-transparent trays, etc., you're more than welcome to them. Let me know. Also, I've got some (lots) CD towers that I no longer have any use for. Let me know also.

My life is so exciting that I took to wondering about Joe Pasquale. Presumably, having had a reasonable degree of success in his life - his VHS of the Live & Squeaky tour having grossed in excess of £1 million, Wikipedia informs me - he's in a position to employ other people. In fact, he owns a production company, so would have to. What manner of person, though, would be able to take him seriously as a boss? Could his voice ever convey the seriousness of intent, the nasty hard-edged quality that is needed to inspire loyalty and fear? Can you imagine him sacking someone? His face incandescent with rage as he rants away, only audible to bats, about unprofessionalism and how you owe him for all the trust he's put in you and is this how you repay him, you worthless nothing, you'll never work in this town again? I got so into this flight of fancy I nearly mis-filed a Leonard Cohen CD.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

On Being Gaffer-Taped to a Chair

I just need clarification over a point of etiquette:

When one of your housemates has you gaffer-taped to a chair, and then eventually you manage to free yourself, is it legitimate to complain that you're now in pain, have ripped all the hair off your arms and have broken blood vessels from getting free? Or was I just being sensitive?

Also at the weekend I went on some dodgems at the glamourously named Alexandra Palace Boating Lake Car Park Funfair, to which one whizzed around banging into bloodthirsty seven year-olds to the mournful strains of Hank Williams' 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry', the saddest song ever recorded. This didn't stop me ramming people, though.

Also went on the boating lake itself in a dilapidated rowing boat, where we chased ducks, avoided a family about to kick off in a pedalo, and listlessly circled until some undesirables and their dogs had left. Good old Alexandra Palace.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Keyring Dinky Things

I've come in for criticism from some quarters recently for mentioning sports recently. I'll try and keep this one free of such references.

I'm also mocked for the amount of gadgets I carry round on my keyring (a Swiss army knife and usb flash drive dongle - if you don't know what one is, you probably don't need one, but here's an explanation). Well, actually, I'm mainly mocked because every time I go through an airport I forget to take it off and have to hand it over to the Men in Grey. Every time. And then buy a new one. Also last time I also had a pair of scissors with me, which although about as dangerous as a biro, I had to hand over.. Anyway, it's all worth it for the sheer pleasure of being able to cut things that need cutting as and when I please, and being able to screw screws (either flathead or phillips) with great inefficiency. And I can't tell you the number of times that the ability to tweeze things with the tweezers has come in useful. OK, it's none, but you never know.

The usb dongle has also been useful to have on my person at all times on precisely one occasion, when my workmate needed to transfer a file to a laptop which didn't have a floppy drive and she needed to do it now. Averting this one nerdmergency has justified me in carrying my little geek gadgets around from here to eternity. I'm just wondering what else I could add to the collection to make me even more secure when out on the dangerous streets of N8, which are fraught with hazards, data transferral issues and screws that need tightening.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Just to get the general tone of how I'm feeling about work at the moment, yesterday I sent an email that finished:

worryingly indicitive of the institution's general problem of the right hand not knowing what the left hand's doing, or even that the left hand exists, while the right foot is actually doing all the work, unbeknownst to the hands.
Anyway, time for me to go back to the cricket.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cricket, Football, Stupids

I'm going to be ploughing a somewhat narrow furrow here, but, for those of you who have an interest in cricket, football, and laughing at stupid people, take a look at the Gruaniad's over-by-over analysis of the 3rd Test, where people have taken it upon themselves to relate (possibly apocryphal) anecdotes attesting to Jason McAteer's famed stupidity. You can find it here, and the McAteerisms start around the 58th over, with England 210-2 (Vaughan 103, Bell 18).

Feel free to also use the over-by-over analysis to enjoy the cricket. It's by far the best way to watch it when your office doesn't have a television, like mine doesn't. They were interviewed forningly in the Londonist, which is itself enjoyable more generally. Howzat?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fantasy Football

I've just signed up to do fantasy football leauge, against my better judgement. Not that my better judgement ever gets its way. It's not as good as my best judgement, nor as instant as my good judgement, so I tend to ignore it. Normally I just flip a coin to decide what I do. Anyway, fantasy football is against my better judgement because I don't actually know that much about football, or at least not as much as people who know who the West Ham reserve youth team goalkeeper's girlfriend is. Also, my interest wains very easily. I've now got to do this for a whole season. Well, unless I just stop and let my team drift slowly to the bottom. Unless it was already at the bottom, which is a definite possibility.

Also I don't know how I'm supposed to get the respect of my eleven highly paid and superbly gifted footballers, what with my background of university administration and tennis.

Anyone who wants to compete with me should let me know, and I'll see if you can join Allen's League of Allen.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Have You Ever Put a Banana in a Croissant?

I saw a middle-aged man, pushing a buggy, surrounded by small children, all of whom were horrifyingly probably born in the Nineties. The late Nineties at that. One of them pipes up, 'I'm SO hungry.' The Greggs bags swing from the buggy, and the man asks, 'Have you ever put a banana in a croissant?', with much of the vocal delivery of a presenter on Playbus. I'm torn by this: do I revel in the innuendo, or do I stand and wonder what this would taste like?

Greggs has sold out of croissants by the time I get there.

I've been telling a lot of people that I've been woken up by builders recently. What I really should say though is that I've been woken by the sound of builders. It's not as though I've been roused from sleep by an offer of a cup of tea by a sweaty man in overalls while his workmate opens the curtains to let the light in and turns on Radio Four.

I'm not sure whether this would be more pleasant than being woken by various loud drills and diggers and trucks and shouting, though.
I was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm last night, and I thought I'd share this with you. They are in a car on a long journey.

Larry: "I dunno. D'ya think we really needed Alaska and Hawaii? Ah, they gotta ruin everything. They ruined the continental United States. Ruined it! We have a beautiful Pacific coast, Atlantic coast; that's the United States. You don't need more states. We're not the British Empire. What, they're trying to turn us into the British Empire. [pause] What is Puerto Rico, anyway?"
Sheryl: "Larry, please. I am trying to drive."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Judge Dread

This story tickled me. It's the everyday tale of Judge Nicholas Medawar QC who's had some of his decisions quashed because he was having a bad day and taking it out on the defence lawyer. Actually, the thing that really tickled me was Judge Medawar being ticked off by Lord Justice Judge, the Deputy Chief Justice, a man whose absurdly literal approach to his own name has led him to become highly successful in the career area of his own name. Sadly for me, my parents didn't decide on marriage that they should double-barrel their own surnames (Mr & Mrs Paper invite you to the wedding of their beloved daughter, Elizabeth, to Mr John Shuffler...) or I'd be outstanding in my own chosen field.

This thought has put me in a bad mood now, so I'm going to take it out on the students, and no-one can stop me!

Except for my boss, Brian Tediousfunctionaryataformerpolytechnic.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mint Etiquette?

OK. I'm now reduced to worrying about such tangenital matters as:

It's polite when eating sweets to offer them to those you're with. This is an iron law, and I base most of my life around it. Except when I'm hungry. Or feeling mean. Or grumpy. Or don't like who I'm with. Or I know they're diabetic. Or etc. The recipient will no doubt get pleasure from the sweet sweet sugar. Offering chewing gum likewise. People gain pleasure from the act of chewing like some kind of ruminating animal (such as a cow or sheep, and it stops football managers from talking (cf Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce) or having heart attacks, so this too is something that you should offer others in your company. What I've taken to recently though, is those super-strength mints (Smint, say), which confer no benefit on the user in terms of pleasure, taste, texture, sugary sugar kick or anything of that nature. All they can possibly be used for it to make you smell less of onions. So, when I've been having one of these things, I've also been offering them round. Is this saying to the other person that I think their breath could do with smelling of mints rather than what it currently smells of? Perhaps when I'm having one too it's more of a communal thing, a shared experience, but what about when, as I have also been doing, I just whip them out of my pocket, offer them to someone, and then just put them back in my pocket, without taking one myself? Is this just the height of subtle rudeness that is likely to pique my refined and sensitive friends? Or am I being super-generous, offering round something that I'm not even going to be having myself? Or am I just trying to make people confused and paranoid?

Anyway, would you like a mint?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Etiquette Query

Right. I'm after some advice here. I'm going to go to a friend's book reading tonight [Plug begins - It's for a short story collection called 'Underwords' published by Maia Press, and it's got stories from Angela Small Island Levy and Hanif Budda of Suburbia Kureishi, both of whose parents gave them stupid middle names in the hope they'd become successful novelists. The star turn undoubtably is Paul Owen, reading from 'Gunfingers' at 6.30pm today, at Counting House (which to my understanding is a pub, 50 Cornhill, which is near Bank station) - plug ends] and I need your advice.

How should one behave at this event? I've never been to a book reading before. I'm going to treat it as a cross between a sporting event and a gig, on account of the performance and fandom aspects of the whole thing. By treating it as such, I of course mean that I'm going to turn up drunk, whoop, holler, shout abuse at the opposition (other authors), give my man a sporting nickname (Paulo? Too Portugese. Owensy? Too shit. I'll have to give this further consideration), and shout praise ("Oi! Great characterisation!" "Strong analogy, my son!" "He's the British Don DeLillo! He's the British Don DeLillo!"), and generally make a lot of noise. Is this what everyone else would do given the situation?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Scenes From My Lunch Hour

In a pub, watching the cricket, a group of postmen are sat, smoking cigars and debating heatedly the current Big Brother housemates and how, if you were to write your name on a letter with just 'London, N5' as the address, the postmen would somehow hunt you down and deliver the letter to you... A small boy in the street being shouted at by his mother: "Don't you touch your little sister!" "But she's not talking to me."... A note, slipped under the windscreen wiper of a car: "I can't even begin to tell you how inconsiderate you are by parking here."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Strike! | Roy Keane! | Deadpan Conversations!

Have just found out that the strike at my place of work has been called off. This is great news for me: I've started pronouncing it 'industeral action', which is quite embarassing, and I'll be glad to get rid of that.

Went bowling last night, which was good fun. I've not been for a long time, but managed to enjoy myself and play quite well. I came consistently second, which I would normally consider to be a good thing. However, infused as I am with the spirit of Roy Keane, I now consider this to be appalling. If I don't go out and win every time, I'm not fit to wear the red and black bowling shoes. I shouldn't even be playing this sport if I don't have the desire. I was playing in my comfort zone. I am disgusted at myself. I'm going to quit the sport.

Plus, I've got a hangover from drinking generic continental lager, which I think puts me in a Roy Keane frame of mind.
Scene: My doorstep, having answered the door to my next-door neighbour, who is clutching a parcel from Amazon.

Next-door Neighbour: Hi. I've got a parcel for you.
Me: Thanks.
NDN: We get a lot of your post.
Me: Oh.
NDN: You know you're 157B, don't you?
Me: No.
NDN: Well, you are.
Me: No, we're 157. It's on our contract and all the bills. It's the address the Royal Mail have got too.
NDN: Well, it's got to be 157B. We're 157A; it makes sense, doesn't it?
Me: Hmm.
NDN: We get a lot of your post, though.
Me: It might just be the things that don't fit through our letterbox. [Demonstrates by attempting to push the parcel through our miniscule letter box. It fails.] I could put up a sign to tell the postman that this is 157 and you're 157A though.
NDN: Yes, it is quite small.
Me: Thanks for the parcel.

This was a very strange conversation to have, and while I feel sorry for him that he sometimes gets some of our post, I think the telling someone else what their address is was an oddly intimate thing to do. Especially as he was wrong. Hmpf.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Keane: The Autobiography

I've been boring everyone I know half blind with my love for this book, but hell, the whole purpose of a blog as far as I can see is to fully hammer to death ideas that people would otherwise stop me talking about because I was boring them. I have really been enjoying Roy Keane's autobiography. It's very well written. The tone of his writing is good. Exciting. Short sentences as punchy as the man himself. He is introspective and broody, but tries to get away from the idea that he is a loner. He likes a drink as much as the next man. Sometimes too much. The season was tough. He is tougher. He owes it to the gafer. To the bosses who have shown faith in him. To Clough. To Ferguson. He is a pro. And he admires pros. There are too many players out there who thinnk that the game owes them a living. But not Keane.

(Sorry, it's quite addictive.)

Anyway, what I was going to say (and this is true of all autobiographies), is that you initially want to flick to the parts of the book that contain either the repudiation or the admission of the myths and rumours that have grown up around the celebrity. For Keane, these are his run-ins with Alfie Inge Haaland, (Leeds/Man City player who was never the same again after a Keane tackle) and his run-ins with Mick McCarthy (which legend has it that he quit the Irish team in the 2002 World Cup with the words 'Stick it up your bollocks. You're not even Irish you English cunt'). And in order to get this out of the way before you launch into reading the book proper, if indeed you ever do, you need a proper thematic index. I offer you here the thematic index to Keane: The Autobiography.

Cantona, Eric: aloofness of, 69; allrightness of in private, 71; unexpected talent for swearing, 72-8

Charlton, “Big Jackie” Jack: undeserved reputation as halfway able manager of, 86-90; truisms spouted by, 88; crapness of, 85-100; increased crapness of sidekick, see Setters, Maurice

Dalgliesh, Kenny: self-considered non-fuckability with of, 88; is fucked with, 89

Drinking: proficiency in, 12-13, 25, 32, 67-9, 78-82, 134, 176; fondness for, 13, 65, 79; retrospective regret for, 236

Facilities: annoyance at lack of, see Wembley, Landsowne Rd, USA, Etc.

Ferguson, Alex: drooling testimonials to the greatness of, 96-108, 110-301; powers of omnipotence attributed to, 265; overuse of the word ‘manage’ in relation to, 242; ability of to be one step ahead of the game, 183

Gladhandling: dislike of, 34, 37, 89, 190

Haaland, Alfie: tackles against, 99, 178; grievances nursed against, 100-176

Ireland, Republic of: woeful preparations, administration, facilities and management of, 13-23, 45, 78; the above in comparison to Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, 79, 101, 106-7

Late tackles: approval of, 52, 78; ability to commit, 49, 88

Living: dislike of players who consider the game owes them a, 15-18, 98-105

Neville, Gary: sinister assertion that he was never a kid, 154

Pearce, Stuart: idolisation of, 35-46, 48-9, 101, 134; professionalism of, 35-46, 48-9, 101, 134; hardness of 35-46, 48-9, 101, 134

Professionalism: approval of, 1-15, 17-60, 65-80, 98-253

Robson, Bryan: Steve Bruce almost as good as, 182

Schmeichel, Peter: dislike of, 109, 120-1; posing of, 115

Setters, Maurice: sound of an axe being ground against, 92-3, 147-9, 201

Small-talk: dislike of, 56, 82-3, 99, 103-4, 203

Solskjaer, Ole Gunnar: assertion that he is a baby-faced assassin, 153; literal assertion that both baby-faced and an assassin, 153; unspellability of, 153

Swearing: talent of Eric Cantona for, see Cantona, Eric; author’s gratuitous uses of, 1-156, 158-301

Third person: self referred to in, 2, 5, 8-25, 34, 44, 56-79, 92-100, 108-156, 180, 182, 223-256, 258-300

Tracksuits: incorrect size of in RoI training, 84

Violence: justifications for, 22, 35, 46-8, 66, 84, 91-3, 110-2, 115, 118, 164

Wembley: on failing to be turned on by, 170

And that's quite enough of that, except to sum up the book in the style of its author:

Blows were exchanged. I gave as good as I got.

Frivolous Purchase

I've just bought a copy of PaRappa the Rapper 2. It's the everyday story of a small dog in a hat who has to rap in order to win the heart of a daisy in a dress, which is what floats the boats of small rapping dogs, according to the game's manufacturers. It is, as anyone who's played it will know, an inordinate amount of fun. The gameplay is based around trying to copy the rap another character does by pressing the correct button at the right time:

Altogether now: "Kick, punch, it's all in the mind/If you want to test me you're gonna find/The things I teach ya are sure to beat ya/So listen up and get a lesson from teacher now."

This will be my evening, and sad to say, I'll probably have a whale of a time.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday Jealousy

An unfortunate aspect of being a greased cog in the bureaucratic engine is that sometimes we have to send out hundreds of letters, and we lack a robotic envelope-stuffer or work experience drone to do it for us. However, I've hit upon the cunning plan of taking all the envelopes and letters down to the pub, and doing the operation with pint in hand. Please do not tell my boss.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

On the Reason For My Latest Lateness

Right. Let the trumpets blare and the tickertape drift down, for I was over two hours late today, making me the latest ever. I was actually so late that I passed a pub that was open on my journey in. I did consider popping in for a quick pre-work pint, but dismissed it as I was already carrying a cup of coffee, and because of the fearsome pricing of Upper Street pints (you need a drink after you've ordered a drink, if you see what I mean).

The bank manager turned down my loan request for my planned fair-trade kitchen appliances shop For the Grater Good, because apparently my business plan wasn't up to scratch. Given that my business plan was an A3 sheet with the name of the shop and an exclamation mark at the end, I fail to see his point. Anyway, having seen from Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares how easy it is to run a restaurant, I've decided to realise my lifelong dreams and set up a restaurant. I've got a nice little place on the outskirts of Bodmin in Cornwall in mind. I'll invite you all to the opening of The Bistro of Bodmin Moor just as soon as the ink is dry on the contract.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Deadpan Conversations, Vol. 13

Scene: Highbury fields. I'm on my lunch, relaxing away from the stresses of paper-shuffling. A schoolkid approaches.

Schoolkid: I've been dared by my friends; can I touch your bald head?
Me: No, I don't think so.
I felt like a killjoy, refusing such a childlike request, and letting the kid down in her important attempt to prove herself to her peer group, but then I thought, bollocks, I'm not having strangers come up and touch my bald head; it might set a precedent, and people would begin to attribute superstitious beliefs of good fortune that comes from touching my bald head. I'd be a bit like an inadvertant Jesus, curing lepers without really wanting to. And that's one of the last things I want to happen.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Defiant and Unbowed

In line with the Met's insistence on business as normal, I feel it my duty to continue to waste the time of both my employers and readers by continuing to ramble inconsequentially about matters of little import.

I was struck down with worry today that Fatman Scoop might actually be incapable of normal speech, and might conduct all his exchanges in the abrasive guttural bellow that has produced such hit records as 'Be Faithful' and 'Lose Control'. Singing his infant children to sleep with a gentle lullaby would be an experience likely to result in perforated eardrums and visits from social workers. Unable to hold down steady employment or a lasting relationship becuase of his inability to communicate at an appropriate volume, Scoop drifts, haunted by dreams of a normal life. Driven near-insane by such thoughts, he carries out a savage laryngectomy on Bob Harris, in the belief that this will give him the quiet he seeks. Sentenced to life imprisonment by an uncaring judge, Scoop fears that he will become the target of brutal prison bullying with his attention-drawing holler. Fortunately though, Scoop hides in the prison library and learns about the Trappist order of monks, and lives out the rest of his life in silent observance of the spirit of Jesus Christ and his teachings.
Today I received an exciting parcel in the post. It is a USB 2.0 PCI Host Controller Card. As if this were not incentive to dance about like a loon in joy enough, the manufacturers plaster the promise 'Extreme IO Experience' over the box. That's IO as in 'Input/Output'. I've yet to install the product, but should the experience fail to live up to the extremity promised, well, I'll just have to live with it, I suppose.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Yesterday in London

Well, it's been a pretty strange time in London recently. Fortunately, no-one I know has been hurt in any of the bombings yesterday, and everyone's pretty shocked and disbelieving of what happened yesterday.

Looking back today it all seems slightly unreal as I'm sat here. I felt a palpable level of fear which after the realisation that what was happening was bombing. Not really a fear for my own safety, but a kind of collective fear, which I've never felt before. As the afternoon wore on, and it brightened up, I was walking into town to meet up with L, and people released from their offices seemed pretty cheerful. Everyone was walking, following the bus routes, all walking on the left-hand side of the road, and the scene resembled the aftermath of some kind of giant office carnival. A couple men were propped up on the railings at Highbury Corner, watching events, and as I passed, one turned to the other and remarked, "Look, there goes Moby". I think the capital's ability to face its aversity in the only way it knows how (directing snide comments at me) is heartwarming. Actually, people did seem to be coping, knowing that the whole situation was out of everyone's control, and that there was little point in belly-aching about it, which is genuinely quite moving. Except for one guy who ran out of a building on Upper Street, dressed in a blue work-issue polo shirt, kicked a lamp-post with a cry of 'fucking cunts', and then ran off to kick another lamp-post with a similar outburst.

I've been overhearing a fair amount of wild pronouncements offered with great shows of authority from people about the events, using intelligence buzzwords, the most prevalant is 'chatter' or the lack of it. I'd cleverly refer to the dinner-party speculators as 'the chattering classes' if that didn't make a pun so dizzyingly brilliant as to be indistinuishable from the phrase itself that it makes your eyes water, that is.

Anyway, this hardly seems like the place to dwell on the issue, save to say that it's pretty sobering as the death toll continues to rise and people are still unaccounted for, and I hope that everyone you know is OK.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Ooh, look who's got the olympics! Us!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Some Magazines That I Found

Hi there. To make up for the near total lack of me posting on the blog for a long time, I've gone html-crazy, and put up this new mini-mini-site:

Yes, it's the title-says-it-all Some Magazines That I Found (ardent students of the future will note that I have also used the alternative title Some Magazines I Found and will no doubt wish to discuss the significance of this at great length in chat rooms). I'd advise you to go and check it out before SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS. Yes, live each moment as if it's your last and visit me discussing some old magazines I found. You'll die happy and your family will be proud.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Some Honey and Plenty of Money

You may or may not be interested in this; I can't predict your whims and tastes any more than man can hold back the tide. Except with dams, but they don't help me decide whether you'll be interested in what's about to follow, it just means that I've chosen a poor metaphor.

Anyway, if you've got thirteen minutes and forty-six seconds going spare, then you may like to listen to Stewart Lee be overly literal in trying to get to grips with Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by downloading this mp3. More info can be found here. It's very funny, but ultimately tragic.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reflections on Staring Out of a Train Window (Not Those Sort of Reflections, Smartarse)

[I jotted this down longhand on a train I took at the weekend. It's the most writing I've done since exams, probably.]

It's quite pleasurable to take the overland train out of Charing Cross. You soon see housing overhanging the tracks. It' can't be much fun in the file-filled rooms that are clearly offices, with only smudgy single-glazed windows dividing you from the snaking journey of the squealing 1106 from Charing Cross. Another of the things I have to be thankful for in my job is that my office isn't right on top of one of the major national rail networks. (I think I've just added an extra year to my eventual length of service with that piece of bright-side looking. Dammit!)

You also get to see advertising for long-extinct beers - Sharp, Double Diamond, Bovrilbrau - out of the window, and I'm left with the maudlin consideration that no-one will ever taste these drinks again (except for Bovrilbrau, of course; I made that one up because I need a third item for my list, following the Iron Law of Comma-Separated Lists:

If it be a list ye write,
three things mus show or else thee'll fright,
reader, writer, editor all,
and the cursed list shall be your downfall.
Just you try and avoid it - it's devilishly difficult). There must be a society dedicated to the preservation of the recipes of once popular alcoholic beverages (Two Dogs! Hooch! The old low alcoholic content Heineken!), much in the same way that Cecil Sharp did in the early 1900s, going round collecting and transcribing folk music. There's also four strains of Pimms that are no longer existent - the campaign starts here! The campaign for someone else to do something about it!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Boris Johnson & Wireless Festival

Morning. It's a bumper fun-packed edition of Angriest Man in Crouch End today. Huzzah!

I've just seen Boris Johnson on the way to work. He was walking his two little kids to school. If you think he's got blond hair, these kids are positively fluorescent. I was just lucky I was wearing sunglasses, otherwise I'd forever have their faces burnt on to my retinas, haunting me for eternity, or the rest of my life, whichever is shorter. Still, at least in these days of doubt and marital infidelity, there's no doubt over their paternity. Yay family values!
Went to the Wireless festival on Friday. Well, I say festival - it pales in comparison to Glastonbury, but hey, what are you going to do? - and the Dresden Dolls were very good, playing to an audience of about twelve people who'd sneaked off work early. I wouldn't like to meet the drummer in a dark street thought. Angry, angry young man. The scary clown face-paint didn't help either. Also saw New Order, who were very good, as ever, but I did notice that Bernard Sumner was wearing exactly the same t-shirt on Saturday when they played Glastonbury. Ugh.

[whisper - you don't think perhaps there might be too much coverage of Glastonbury in the media? Radio One haven't shut up about it for months, and if I read one more article about wellies or how to look chic in the mud I - might - kill - again. Just a thought.]
Got lots more I need to type from the weekend, but the pressure of occasionally needing to do some work prevents me at the moment. Lets have it tomorrow, eh?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dresden Dolls

OK. I'm quite excited today. On a whim I've bought tickets to go to the Wireless Festival, the Poor Man's Glastonbury as the organisers are strangely refusing to call it, from (now only £25 with £0 booking fee). Now, the excitement derives only in small part from the fact I've paid £25 to stand in Hyde Park. The rest of the excitement is a strange co-mingling of: coffee; Friday; a lessening of existential worries that comes from my new-found belief that, Copernicus be damned, the world revolves around me; coffee; and the fact that my vagary of the moment, The Dresden Dolls, will be playing.

If you hear a better song this year than The Jeep Song, please let me know, because it would be a very good song indeed. It manages to soar, ache earnestly and be witty and angry. It really is very very good. Plus, they look funny. I suspect I'm in for some performance art this afternoon. Goody!

In other news, I've given up my dreams of owning a fair-trade kitchen gadgets shop. It was stupid. It'd never work. I'm instead going to move into the more lucrative market of fantasy & role-playing games, orcs and elves, witches and wizards, that sort of thing. I'm going to call it 'Everybody's Tolkein At Me'.

Monday, June 20, 2005

How Judy out of Richard and Judy Visciously Beat Me With Her Fists and Assorted Weapons That Came to Hand

This week, my main excuse for not doing any work will be:

A buzzy bee comed in fru the winder

Yes, I'm back from holiday. I've not turned off my out of office message, because I want to let people know subtly that mother, I can never come home again 'cause I seem to have left an important part of my enthusiasm somewhere somewhere in East Devon. Really nice holiday, and feels genuinely strange to be back in London.
This next bit is really to keep myself in check. It's to mitigate against the all-too-human tendency of Inevitable Exponential Anecdote Inflation, whereby each telling of an anecdote contains a rapidly decreasing proportion of truth.

Yesterday, Judy out of Richard and Judy elbowed me.

OK, that's already slightly blown up; yesterday, Judy out of Richard and Judy brushed past me. Quite roughly, to be fair, as she was moving at quite a lick.

Fairly soon, I think, the natural tendency for these things to grow in the telling will mean that both Richard and Judy will be raining down savage punches and kicks to my poor broken body, while their daytime TV faces are rent by evil grimaces and shout nonsensically agressive phrases like 'Wooha, how do you like me now?' (Richard) and 'Who's the daddy? Who's the daddy?' (Judy). The Queen and Gyles Brandeth stood round the edge of the scene, their inaction a tacit approval of the brutality of the Richard and Judy team bashing.

How, you might well ask, did Judy come to be in a position to mete out this vengence? It was at a screening of The Wedding Crashers that P was reviewing and took me along to. I'd seen Richard and Judy come in as I was waiting for P - Richard's quite tall, Judy's quite short, but you can tell their relative heights on the telly, so I'm not giving much away there. When inside, everyone had to hand over their phones and ipods. Phones and ipods! In case anyone was going to record it in abysmally low resolution and size for pirates. Ha. I got around that anyway by using the enormous power of my brain which I used to memorise the dialogue of the whole film. I then went straight to a dodgy East Asian criminal gang, and recited it verbatim so they could record it. They then just needed to get the visuals on which to overlay my faithful rendition of the film. I suggested they just paste it on top of the visuals of 'Meet the Parents'. No one would notice the difference (Ha! Take that, major Hollywood film!). Anyway, while the plebs were handing over their valable consumer electronics, Richard and Judy were being whisked behind us, and that's when Judy errupted into her orgy of violence. Hold on, I've just checked the start of this post. When I say 'errupted into her orgy of violence', I mean 'brushed past me'. Anyway, the film was three stars. There'll be a much more detailed review in the quality press soon (by quality press, I mean none other than the Times/Chronicle series published in Northwest London, obviously).

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I am away from my desk

Right. I'm buggering off on holiday, so my rarely updated blog will languish once more like the homepage of a Buffy fanatic in some cobwebbed corner of the internet for a bit longer.

I did the funnest thing that you can do at work without punching someone or stealing stationery - I set my out of office message. Even typing 'out of office' gives me a watered-down secondary thrill. Typing it again just made me sad, so I won't be typing it again for a while. Anyway, I got a bit carried away, and rather than the standard text that says something like 'I will not be reading my emails for a while', I wanted to really rub it in, and say that I would be away from my office and unable to read my mail, but such was my giddy excitement that I ended up with:

I will not be away from the office and unable to read my mail until my return on 21st June.

I realised this when I got the message back from myself, but not before some sarcastic bugger had emailed me. I had to tell him that I'd not not noticed it, and wouldn't be unchanging it. This didn't stop me enjoying my out of office message - it just made it all the sweeter.

Damn. I've just remembered the first rule of writing: know your audience. If I know you at all, it's because you're the slack office-bound, desperate for escape from emails that read 'for your soonest attention' and end in 'best regards', and who long not to be reminded of the drudgery that overwhelms them for eight hours a day.

Oh well, I'm on holiday. Ha!
In other news, I've had to abandon my dream of owning a pub called the Tequila Mockingbird, because I've seen the pun used too many times now. Chastened, I've decided to put my talents to more altruistic ends, and I'm going to open up the country's first fair-trade kitchen appliances shop. I'm going to call it For The Grater Good.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Nerd's the Word

Right. A semi-comprehensive list of the nerdy things that I did yesterday:

1. Thought that the film Sin City which is being advertised on the radio a lot was actually Sim City when I heard it once. Sim City being the computer game below. I then went off into a whimsical reverie, imagining how great a film about an ambitious mayor of a town who spends decades building up a beatiful community with all the work, amenities and leisure opportunities a town could want, keeping it free of crime and social problems, and then summoning Godzilla, earthquakes and tidal waves to smash it into tiny pieces, just for yucks.
2. I was wearing a badge. Yes, that's pretty nerdy, but the badge was a nice little drawing of a BBC B Micro , which is about as nerdy as a badge can be, except for a badge that says 'nerd'. Which I used to have.
3. I watched the entire first series of the Leauge of Gentlemen. That's quite nerdy.
4. I discussed audio leads.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Fifteen Storeys High and Swearing: Both Big and Clever

Now, I'm sure most of you are still reeling from the news that the Crazy Frog beat Coldplay in the already irrelevent contest of the Top 40. This is either the death of serious music, a great victory over self-important music, or a piece of news ranked somewhere in the grand scheme of importance between John Inman's autobiography and a list of the hors d'oeuvres available at Prince Charles' wedding (which is quite a way down the grand scheme of importance).

The Coldplay thing made me laugh a little bit as I read it in the paper, but the thing that made me laugh the most spittle-slutteringly embarassingly recently was when G played me the unbelivably NSFW Explicit Content Only remix of NWA's Straight Outta Compton, where some clever bugger has gone through and in the opposite to a radio-friendly edit where one edits out all the profanities, this guy has edited out everything but the profanities, which goes to show how much swearing there is on the one-time controversial album. It works surprisingly well. If you're as puerile as me and believe that swearing is big and clever, you can click here to go to the homepage.

In more public spririted enterprise, I hereby announce, simply because the BBC haven't done, that the second series of the inestimably fine Fifteen Storeys High is being reshown on BBC3. I'd advise you to catch it at the brainscramblingly infuriating time of 2.35am on Sunday morning, mainly because that's the time they're showing it. Actually, I'm going to change my advice and tell you to set your videos to do it, because that's a stupid time to put something on, isn't it?

I seem to remember they didn't do a brilliant job of promoting it the first time round either, which is the eternal complaint levelled at the BBC's scheduling of comedy programmes (cf The Great Seinfeld Scandal), but if you're just really confused about what I'm talking about (and it's unlikely to be the first time, is it?), then I've ranted about how great it was before. Needless to say, it's one of the funniest things to have been hidden away on digital-only channels at Jesus-Christ-what-time-is-it hours in recent years.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Best Name

Occasionally some things should be presented as simply as possible, so that their beauty can't be sullied by me talking - here's the name of an actor who's in Millions, Danny Boyle's new kids movie:

Pearce Quigley

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Maltesers Ice Cream

I've just bought myself an ice cream in a nod to the nice weather. Actually, I'm wearing sandals, sunglasses and a t-shirt and spent the lunch-hour sunbathing, so I'm doing as much nodding as that dog in the adverts that used to have the voice of Vic Reeves but stopped having his voice when Vic Reeves was found guilty of killing a bulldog and then leaving the scene of the crime. It's a Maltesers-based ice cream, but rather than go for the brave step of a giant spherical lump of honeycomb covered in rapidly melting icecream that you have no means of holding without getting covered in ice cream, instead they've gone for what amounts to a choc-ice on a stick. I'm disappointed, to be frank, but impotent in my rage. I'm not going to complain to Masterfoods, because their name intimidates me, so I'll rage impotently here, thank you very much.

In contrast to me, the man in front of me in Londis was buying ten loaves of white bread and ten packets of sausages. I wanted to ask him whether he was hosting a sausage sandwich party, or whether he was buying his week's ration of food, but then the thought that this man might only ever eat sausage sandwiches made me feel sad, and I didn't. Also I'd just got Axel F stuck in my head thanks to that stupid frog, which was quite distracting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Quite Interesting

Hey, I'm giving something back to you today. If your appetite for smugitude was whetted by my reference to Just a Minute earlier this week, then prepare for your lucky day, because it's coming up soon. There's tickets to filmings of QI, the Stephen Fry-helmed quiz, at here. Anyone fancies it, I'm giving consideration to the 9th.

[Adopts excited tone] I saw a cyclist crash into the back of a car today! He was embarassed, but ok. And you'll be pleased to know that the BMW escaped without injury.

Business As Usual & Deadpan Conversations With Shop Staff vol 12

Well, the Today programme was back on the air this morning, the only difference being instead of shouting at politicians they were shouting at the bosses and trade union representatives in the BBC dispute.

This morning, Greggs, getting breakfast.

Me: Pain au chocolat, please.
Woman: [Confused look] Pardon?
Me: Pain au chocolat, please.
Woman: Oh, ok.

I was wearing my v-neck jumper back to front, which I hope accounts for the slightly startled look on her face. Not a great start to the day, but it was only fifteen minutes of wandering around idiot-style.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Just a Minute

This morning I woke up, as usual, to my radio alarm. Radio Four though, instead of John Humphreys and co verbally duffing up politicians, was playing an episode of Just a Minute, the oh-so-clever panel-show of smugitude. Several thoughts went through my head: one, that I'd made a mistake and should just stay in bed and see how things pan out (my favourite course of action in such situations); two, that it was actually Sunday again, and should just stay in bed; three, that there was something terribly, terribly wrong. I mean, really wrong. Like a nuclear strike, or the Houses of Parliament being on fire, or David Jason being ill. The more I thought about it, fearfully staring at the ceiling, the more I thought it was this last one. What other possible reason would they be playing such a warm reassuring cardigan of a show as Just a Minute, when really James Naughtie ought to be savaging a spin doctor? If this really is the apocalypse, I thought, well, at least it's going to be quite witty. I've had a good innings. Life's been good to me. And I've got a good excuse for not going to work. Louis Armstrong struck up inside my head with What a Wonderful World - "I see trees of green, red roses too..."

It was all spoiled by the scab continuity announcer badly reading the headlines, and telling us that there was a one day strike by BBC journalists and technicians. Damn. Bugger. I was so looking forward to the end of the world too.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Science, comrades

Finally, conclusive scientific (well, social scienceproof of why Chelsea won the league, Brazil won the World Cup, England won a rugby game, Carlisle beat Stevenage Boro, and why all tennis players and cricket teams down the ages won. I mainly like the name of the quoted academic - he sounds like he's got a never-say-die attitude to his work.

Has anyone bought (or borrowed, or stolen or stood outside a record shop looking at the cover of) the new Ryan Adams album Cold Roses yet? It's brilliant.
That is all. Do some work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


I drowned my sorrows from Saturday by going out in the evening and drinking lots of cheap vodka and dancing. This compounded my sorrows on Sunday morning. We went to Blow Up at the Metro on Saturday, the rarest of things - a club that actually plays the sort of music listed on the flyers, rather than just treating them as a series of aspirations to be acheived in the fullness of time, parliamentary majority allowing.

And talking of music, Coldplay-disdaining comment-leaver and fellow blogger Trixie DJs at this club with this playlist (my linking arm is hurting and turning blue) which looks just brilliant, as any night that allows me to dance to Annie's Chewing Gum while drinking cut-price vodka must be. The only trouble is the club has a 'gay and lesbian majority door policy', which I like to imagine has Peter Snow, desperate to avoid the post-election depression he normally succumbs to, lurking outside the club with his swingometer, estimating what the queue outside will do to the sexuality configuration inside. Sounds like good fun though.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Oh bollocks. Well, having shafted pretty much all of my friends in order to watch the Conference playoff final on Saturday, we went out to a better team playing more attractive and more skillful football to a much larger fanbase with a better ground and more glorious history. Like I said, oh bollocks.

Friday, May 13, 2005

What You're Doing on 20th May

Using my sinister Derren Brown-like powers, I know in advance that you'll choose to spend your evening of Friday 20th May here watching these, who are Bison, who are so much more enjoyable to watch than Coldplay that it's not possible to convey in words. Actually, it is possible to convey in words, but these words would have to be carved in the finest marble and stand one hundred feet tall with neon edging and fireworks, and I just haven't got the funds at the moment.

Really, go and see them, they're great fun.

And while I'm telling you what you're doing: Don't forget to glue your eyeballs to the box to watch the impudent underdogs Stevenage Boro play the evil cackling ex-league Carlisle to see who gets the second promotion slot for League Football. Carlisle were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, assault the homeless with their silver canes and play in top hats and monocles in front of huge home attendances of fans who consider that it's their blood-right to play in the league, boo.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I’ve made the mistake recently of having put comedy on my ipod. In a way, this is great, because it’s Sean Lock, and he’s absolutely hilarious. It’s also bad, because I end up sat on the bus, staring into space, guffawing like a halfwit every time anything strikes me as funny. It’s compounded by my attempts to suppress the laughter, because every time I do that something sneaks up behind that joke and catches me unawares, making me do that mad spluttered snort that makes au pairs shield their young charges’ eyes and makes decent people concentrate on the horoscopes in the Metro really intently.

In less amusing fashion, we went to the comedy night at the Camden Head in Islington. All I can say is there’s nothing less conducive to laughter than a sparsely filled well-lit room on a Wednesday evening. Actually, there is, and it’s a sparsely filled well-lit room on a Wednesday evening watching unfunny, underprepared comedians die on their arses. Well, that was the first couple of acts – a nerd doing jokes about batman and sly references to obscure science fiction being among the highlights. I enjoy going to the comedy, but I don’t think there’s an experience comparable to the anguish of seeing a comedian floundering around desperately trying to remember something funny while an all-too-visible audience examines its shoes. I went out to get drinks, and L got the biggest laugh (before the post-interval arrival of the competent comedians) for suggesting that my anguish was down to discovering that there wasn’t a bar upstairs. That was only partially true.

I did hear the best breakfast cereal-based heckler putdown of my life last night, though. I don’t expect to hear a better one any time soon either.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Boro, Freemasons & Bouncers

Well, obviously you sports fans won't need reminding, but for the record:

Come on Boro!

That's 7.30 on Saturday on Sky 1, or for the more intrepid of you, in Stoke. League football and increased ticket prices, here we come!
Yesterday, at the pub (The Ship Tavern, to be precise), the upstairs room was booked for a private function. Eventually, a load of identically dressed dark suited fat blokes, all carrying black leather briefcases marched in. They were sinister Freemasons out on the piss. I wish I was the member of some shadowy back-scratching organisation. I was a member of the Woodcraft Folk, but it doesn't have the same cachet.
On a similar tip, I wondered if there was a Worldwide Bouncers' Convention held, who would work the doors?
Also also, while reading Word Magazine, the following sentence popped out at me during a Stuart Maconie article:
This was what distinguished Cream from more stolid hard rock peers like Vanilla Fudge.
Mmm. This actually makes sense on both levels. Vanilla fudge is more stolid than cream.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Stop Living Like You're In a Coma

Doctor Dictionary today was brought to me by the following message:

In less than 1 hr. I can train you to easily and instantly enter your
own ultimate peak performance state any time you want - just like
Olympic and professional athletes. Stop living like you're in a coma.
Quickly learn to "turn it on" like the champions in life do at will.
F*R*E'E online demo.
Oh that I could.
In unrelated news, as you'll no doubt be more than aware of, what with the blanket media coverage and overwpowering hype, the second leg of the Conference play-off semifinals is tonight. Come on Boro!

The referee for the match is somewhat card-happy, though: in the last match he refereed, he gave nine yellow cards, one red and two penalties... Sounds like a fun game in the offing, esp considering our centreback spent most of the match thwacking people with his elbow.
Oh, and Michael Howard's only gone and quit, hasn't he? The big quitter! How will they shoot themselves in the foot this time? Elect the ghost of Anthony Eden to head the party?
And I know I've nagged you before, but go and join Mil Millington's Mailing List. If you're bored on this Friday afternoon, and the Man won't let you out to frolick, you can just waste his time by reading a large selection of his previous writing. Ha!

Elections & Breadpan Conversations vol 11

Well, another election down. Didn't see much to raise the pulse as was in bed by a reasonable hour. Just the mockery of democracy in Sunderland where they were racing to get the result out in less than forty-three minutes. Whichever Dimbleby it was who was presenting the BBC's coverage didn't look like he'd be able to make it to 11:00, confused by everything that was going on around him. I suspect they keep him in suspended animation, and only unfreeze him when the election is called, which would account for his befuddlement. Dimbleby had a few patronising things to say about Sunderland, implying that it was a different country up there in the North-East, and then a very plummy BBC lady went out on the banks of the Tyne in Gateshead and conducted a demeaning Oiks Speak Their Minds piece. I think she would have patted them on the head if she wasn't fearful of having her hand bitten off.

In other news, again I was in Greggs getting some hard-earned breakfast, and there was a weirdo in front of me, unable to contain his enthusiasm for pastries, who kept shouting to the staff to tell him how much each of the cakes were when they were serving other people, nipping behind the counter and pointing at buns, worrying about getting a ticket, etc. Eventually waiting his turn, he turned to me:

Nutter: Are you a copper?
Me: Why should I be a copper?
N: No, well, are you?
Me: No. Why should I be a copper?
N: No need to take any offence, it's just I thought I recognised you.
Me: [Sighs]

It's almost as good as when a guy turned to me in a club and asked me if I was a bouncer. One look at me would have told him I couldn't even be a bouncer at a nursery for tranquilised children. As the dead, fat, talentless junkie Jim Morrisson put it - people are strange.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Breakfast, Boro and Breaking News

Just been in Greggs getting breakfast, and the mother in front of me was trying to control a cycle-helmeted toddler called Ludwig. Poor kid - he's definitely going to get bullied. Hell, if I wasn't so intent on buying pastries, I'd've taken time out of my day to bully him.

On Monday, stood in glorious sunshine watching Stevenage Boro in the oh-so-exciting-I-might-burst first leg of the Conference play-offs semi, I was reminded what's so great about non-league football. It's the collecting of large numbers of people together for a single purpose. This purpose isn't cheering your team on, or anything so communal. It's all about crotchety individual old men shouting abuse at the players for ninety long, long minutes. Each of these old men should be spread equally round the ground to ensure maximum coverage, and each should have his own particular hobby-horse that he's flogging to death. One wizened old man would repeatedly shout (at not entirely appropriate points) 'GERRINVERBOX! GERRINVERBOX!', while others would comment loudly on the gingerness of certain players, the need to switch it and get it out wide, play it along the ground, for-god's-sake-clear-the-bloody-thing, etc. I was stood next to a pipe-smoker, who kept switching which side of his mouth the pipe was in according to the direction of play.
And while we're on the subject, Sky have chosen the Boro game to be the one they show on Friday evening. That's my Friday evening sorted then. The only chance of getting me to go out would be if Jesus is coming to the pub. And he brings his dad.