Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can't buy me lunch

After an impromptu three day weekend from the ole millstone that is the daily grind of the office, I enjoyed the relaxed pleasure of loafing about the flat, drawing, playing guitar, listening to records and drinking some recently acquired hippie type fruity tea.

I also acquired myself for the pricesly sum of £3.99 the DVD of ‘The Rutles- All You Need Is Cash’ from one of the more infuriating high street establishments. Being, as most people I know are, a Beatles aficionado, and a fan of parody (my dissertation was on this subject titled: ‘A Thin Line between Stupid and Clever’- Parody in films’ and I frequently quoted the film, despite never actually seeing it) Anyhow- at £3.99 it was too much of an opportunity for me to miss out on.

I was, to be honest, expecting the film to be a let down, but was greatly surprised just how well the film has dated, and just how well crafted Neil Innes’ song are. Obviously, there are many classic moments throughout and some beautifully observed Beatles-esque tunes (‘Go Home’ had me laughing out loud so much that I had to rewind this scene several times), however one particular song stood out- notably because I knew all the words. It didn’t take me long to remember that I had in fact heard a version of this song previously as a B-side to Teenage Fan Club’s ‘Mellowed Doubt’ CD single, and had featured it on many of the Mix Tapes I’d done for friends and family back in the mid nineties. Naturally I have since dug out this CD, which also features a version of ‘Have You ever Seen the Rain’ by
Creedence Clearwater Revival, and posted both of these tracks below:


Teenage Fan Club- Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Teenage Fan Club- Between Us

I also moseyed on down to the local monthly flea market in an attempt to purchase some cheap vinyl. Alas, it appears that increased Market for cheap old records has resulted in a price hike and beardy student types swarming around the record boxes so much so that despite spending at least half an hour in the smoke filled church hall I was unable to get any where near the table containing ‘the better records’ from the chap I usually buy from. Instead I was left to flick through reams of bilge, but spent a tenner on two albums that caught my eye; Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band’s 1954 ‘Good Time Jazz’ and Original Soundtrack Recording from Carl Foreman’s Victors. Both were disappointing beyond belief, partly because they were scratched to buggery and partly because they’re just a bit rubbish really.

The Kid Ory album, was a chance purchase because I liked the cover and because on the back of the cover had two recipes for Shrimp Jambalya and Creole Gumbo FilĂ© and needless to say that I have learned not to judge a record on it’s Deep South recipes.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Shock News!

My kind employees have decided to put a filter on our internet and, suffice to say, I can't gain access to any My Space site or any Blog site as they're deemed to be "inappropriate as per the terms and conditions blah blah blah".

Thankfully I can at least peruse my e-mail accounts and wikipedia, but this is scant concilation.
I have now got to find another way of using my time constructively whilst in the office, although it has certainly encouraged me to find employment elsewhere. It is a very sad day indeed.

It reminds mre of the dark ages when the only thing to keep me entertained whislt in the work pllace was communicating to my colleagues and working, occasionally spending weeks at a time using 'Paint Box' to amuse myself.

This will be my first ever blog from the dimly lit surroundings of my cold, cold spare room, where I find it too difficult to write anything, what with all the distractions I have littered about the place, and this computer is a big pile of tosh.

Dark times.

David Bowie - Sorrow

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pol Pot & Khmer Rouge 1- Media/Ugly Betty 0

Has Russell Brand been reading this blog? (Despite the obvious connection that Russell Brand and Miss Goody have the same agent, which somewhat confuses the issue, and the fact he uses the term 'silly' rather than 'fucking stupid' which as i think you'll agree is more apt given that she was well aware that there was some 5-8million viewers watching her...but anyway.)


Have the Indian Government/Channel 4 been reading this blog?


Word to the wise to Jade's Agent, would be not to visit India. Seriously, with the best intentions in the world she will at somepoint say something that will re-open the ‘racist debate/debacle’. I’ll give odds of 2:1 that she makes some remark about ‘it smelling like curry’ or something else equally as crass (or should I say 'silly'?)

Mp3Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy- Ain’t You Wealthy, Ain’t You Wise

In other exciting news: I forgot my glasses today and have noticed a stark contrast in the way I've been treated by colleagues and fellow commuters. Could it be that despite the years of progress, the wearing of glasses is still considered as something funny? C'mon surely those cliches don't exist anymore do they?

Consider this: As moderately enjoyable as 'Ugly Betty' is ,as far a high camp and sillyness before the last five minutes of American schmaltz that seems to be mandatory in any US comedy- she isn't really that ugly though is she? As quoted in the Simpsons : "I wanted TV ugly, not Ugly Ugly!"

America Ferrera (yes her real name is America!) who plays Ugly Betty seems to be some form of spokeswoman for the 'uglies' in US TV, and had already starred in the HBO show 'Real Women have Curves' where she tries "to balance her mother's traditional view of women with her own contemporary ideas while dealing with self-image issues and exploring a new romantic relationship" (The sound of puking and yawning at the same time). Also, international 'hottie' Salma Hayek (gratuitously pictured below) is the executive produer of the show- discrediting it somewhat. I'm sure she can relate and empathisie to the Betty's plight though can't you.

It's a bit like ole ''Plain Jane Superbrain' in Neighbours...put some glasses on her and some frumpy clothes and she's 'ugly' too (allegedly). Why is it most 'TV ugly' folks wear glasses? They're installing the thought to the Populus that if you're a 'specky' then you're ugly. Let's not forget how fickle Lousie Lane wouldn't look twice at Clark Kent, but got a wide-on every time Superman flew into the vicinity. "Down with their cynicism and cliches" I say. (Lazer Eye Sugery is the work of Satan etc etc)

(note/trivia: Jim Robinson is in Ugly Betty!!)

At least the former policies of crackpot dictator Pol Pot suggested that all glasses wearers were intellectuals, which is not funny especially considering his regime had anyone wearing glasses executed, (well it kind of is funny I suppose - his hired goons waiting with big sticks with nails through them outside Specs Savers) but he never denounced them as Ugly (Pol Pot & Khmer Rouge 1- Media/Ugly Betty 0)

I actually went to have my eyes tested this week, and Lord be Praised! my right eye has improved marginally! Woot! I don't know how this is possible, perhaps I've used that eye less? Perhaps I've got moderatly prettier?

Whilst at the Opticians I was toying with the idea of purchasing a new pair of glasses, I noticed that the models in Glasses Advertisements don't look like 'proper' glasses wearers? i.e. people who wear glasses. This is difficult for me to explain succinctly, but they almost look like generic photos of models that someone has drawn a pair of 'bins' on them. I'm guessing that these models are too vain to wear glasses (I repeat 'Down with their cynicism and cliches!') and perhaps it's the image of beautiful man/woman with a pair of Hugo Boss angular glasses on his/her face that just looks out of place. I'm not sure how this could be resolved. By me suggesting that 'ugly' people should model the new range of designer glasses is essentially admitting that glasses wearers are, for the most part; ugly. It's a mystery, shrouded in an enigma, shrouded in a mystery for sure. My solution would be to re-cast the role of Ugly Betty with Kathy Burke playing the role- similar to that of her character
Linda La Hughes in the brilliant 'Gimme Gimme Gimme'. That'll learn em! (plus it will make the program infinately more viewable without having the sick bucket on hand)

Of course the way in which my colleagues are treating me could be down to the fact that I can't see them very clearly or that I in fact look worse without my glasses. On thing's for sure, there has been no presumptions that I am an expert on all IT matters and hence a little more time at work to concentrate on writing these 'ere blog rather than showing the same colleagues how to find their Word documents on their computer, how to change the toner and more annoyingly how to send an e-mail! (these are GENUINE requests I get on a daily basis, much to my discontent!)

MP3 The Annuals - Bleary Eyed

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bus hero no more (alas)

"What do I know, whom am I?
My two left feet my big dumb face.
I'd so the same if I had the chance; cheat the system, rig the race."
I awoke this morning with the discomfort of being absolutely freezing and waking up alone. I decided the only course of action to prevent myself from catching hypothermia was to fully submerge me body under the two duvets that were doing an especially poor job of keeping me warm. Sadly, this prevented me from hearing my alarm, and after clambering out of the duvet to breathe I heard the usual inane and unfunny rumblings of Chris Moyles and I knew I'd be pushing it to make it to work on time. I eventually mustered the will to get up, and a scolding hot shower eventually defrosted me.

I dashed about the flat like a loon determined to arrive at the office before 9.30 and rushed out in to the beautifully sunny and crisp Tuesday morning. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Teenage Fanclub kept my spirits up until I encountered the depressingly familiar sight of the Office clad walking away from the train station. One of the more friendly commuter types informed me that once again the trains were cancelled.

I looked at it pragmatically, as my MP3 despite having it set on the usually unreliable 'Random' selection was spitting out some great tunes. I'll just catch the 60, and if I'm lucky I'll make it to work before 10am I reasoned.

I caught the next available bus and sat near the front so I could feed my curiosity and pleasure at watching the bus driver waving to the other bus drivers. For the first 5 or so minutes I was in heaven. The MP3 random selections included The Fall's 'Groovin' with Mr. Blow/Green Eyed Loco Man' -Peel Session (which I played twice), Lift to Experience's 'These are the Days' (I skipped the 3 minutes of noise at the end though), and The Broken Family Band's 'Behind the Church'. It was turning into a good morning despite all the obvious set backs.

It wasn't long into the journey when some Scally lads got on the bus. This of course didn't bother me (why would it?) but about a minute after they had boarded the bus, the foul stench of cigarettes wafted its way towards me. I subtly looked around and could see that the smoke was coming from their direction. I thought about confronting them. I really did. Sadly I figured that this could be an unwise move. Usually my travels on public transport increase my blood pressure massively, and I have in the past shouted at conductors, staff, drivers and other passengers. However, after another dose of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci I was feeling at peace.

I looked around on the bus and it was mostly women with young children and a few elderly ladies and gentlemen. They gave me a look of "...well aren't you going to say something?". Shit I felt awkward. I stopped the music in my ears, and prepared myself for the oncoming barrage of abuse I would no doubt be inflicted to. Then, as luck would have it, an American (or possibly Canadian) woman boarded the bus. After paying the driver, she took a few steps-clocked the Scals and stormed up to the driver.

"Why are you letting them smoke on the bus!!?" she demanded.

I could see the driver looking in his rearview mirror in their direction.

"Come on, no smoking on the bus please" he said timidly. No doubt the vast amount of times he's been spat at and physically abused by little fuckers like these had taught him to turn a blind eye. I immediately felt a wave of sympathy for the driver. The woman was made of sterner stuff however.

She barked at them:

"What's the point in me showering and putting on perfume if as soon as I get on the bus I stink like an ashtray!! I don't mind you smoking but please not on the bus, its not fair!"

This was very noble and brave, and had her American accent not sounded so whiney I would have given her a slow respectful clap.

The little fuckers reply was not what I'd come to expect.

"Were not smoking" was their pathetic response.

"I can see you, please, just have some consideration for the other passengers who don't want to stink of smoke"

She took her seat and looked at them with scorn.

Moments later the smoke had stopped.

'Shit' I thought; it worked! Why didn't I do that? I slumped back into my chair and put my MP3 back on. I had no right to refer to myself as a 'Bus Hero' as I had done since my altercation with a bus driver in town on the Friday before Christmas last. I was patted on the back by and applause from other commuters then. Granted I'd had a few pints in town prior to this, thus accelerating my bravery. I just won't tell any of the 50-60 people that I'd regaled that story to, about my recent act of cowardice.

Thank fuck my MP3 continued it's fine selections and I slowly began to cheer up.

I did, though see a rare treat in the 'bus drivers waving to each other' department. The driver, whilst maneuvering around the t Queen's Drive/Walton Church round-a-bout, proceed to flick the 'Vs' in a violent manner in the direction of another bus. I caught his face in the rear view mirror creased with juvenile pleasure.

BINGO! I thought.
I would have made it to work before 10am as I'd hoped, but chose to walk a longer way to listen to 'Blood of a Young Wolf' by Buck 65 a few more times with a sloppy grin on my face, eyes squinting from the bright sunshine. After all I’m sure they’ll be able to cope without me, after all the instructions about how to change the toner is etched onto the printer/fax and photocopier. I’m sure they’ll survive.

Oh, the Jade Goody debacle continues. Obviously humility isn't one of her strong points http://uk.news.yahoo.com/23012007/140/jade-goody-thugs-attacked-home.html

Buck 65- Blood of a Young Wolf
The Broken Family Band -Behind the Church
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci- This Summer's been good from the start
The Fall- Grooving with Mr. Blow/ Green Eyed Loco Man (Peel Sesh)
Lift to Experience- These Are the Days

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gee thanks gran!

After the entire country was embroiled in the most overblown media panic in recent times (need I mention it?) I was most optimistic that the conversation on the topic would be forgotten. That is not to say the overarching topic of racism and bullying ought to be forgotten, however the trail of Jade Goody and Channel Four ought to be today’s fish n’ chip wrapping. Sadly, I awoke to the exclusive news on Sunday that Miss Goody’s own grandmother has gone on record (no doubt for a princely sum) to sate that her Granddaughter IS a racist and IS a bully (Gee thanks gran!) and awoke to further more excuse making and grovelling this morning.

As a person whom in the past has enjoyed the public executions of BB contestants as they leave the house to a barrage of hate and venom, I found the whole deal quite scary on Friday’s show. Millions watched it all shaking their fists at the telly hoping that the usual sunny Davina McCall would somehow have transmogrified into Jeremy Paxman and give Jade a firm telling off, pointing out her ills-which without actually slapping her across the face she did okay, just leaving Jade with enough rope to hang herself and had Channel 4 persuaded her to model her hair for that night on Adolf Hitler? Conversely, there was a large portion of the public, who believe that it’s political correctness gone mad (the usual signal that someone is infact a bit of a
racist )

Anyway, instead of crawling under a rock to eat humble pie (which she ought to do to in order to give us a ‘effing break from her annoying face) she is now even more of a news story blubbering away on just about every TV station about her harsh upbringing being a young mother etc etc and admissions that she is a bully and she is a racist! I’m probably right in thinking there is some slimy money grabbing agent out there telling her to admit to everything, assuming the public will grant her forgiveness. I sincerely believe this will backfire massively as if she keeps harping on about how hard her life has been, and trying to excuse her way out of it- she’ll end up turning into Ron “I’m not a racist” Atkinson soon. No doubt a TV documentary where Jade visits India will be winging its way over to the TV in the not too distant future
“Oh I ‘fought tha Taj Mahal was a take away hehehehe”.

Above all, for me the worst part of the whole incident is the fact that Jade’s mother Jackiey (sic) repeatedly referred to Shilpa as “The Indian” in the weeks proceeding the media furore, when it was widely reported about the plummeting viewing figures the ‘show’ was receiving. This, for the most part was widely ignored by our sensitive and wizened cultural commentators- though from the snippets I saw, it made me feel extremely ill at ease that no one pulled her up about this.

The worst part is that the Nation, who as you should remember were petrified about Muslim women wearing veils in the months leading up to Christmas in a display of massive racial intolerance, now suddenly turned into moral guardians; are once again glued to trials and tribulations of a collection of irksome fame seekers confined into a house with no stimulation. Kudos to the folks at channel 4 for doubling their viewers so quickly – but the very worst of it is the conversation at work continues to revolve around the bloomin’ program. I arrived at the office in a poor mood after suffering at the hands of the cunts at Merseyrail once again. After I had taken my seat and looked depressingly at my screen saver, I was given some un-requested information regarding the relationship between Teddy Sheringham and “the scouse-one” off of the aforementioned TV program. A colleague reliably informed me that he’d dumped her.

Thanks for letting me know that.

Really though, who cares? What a start to the morning. What a start to the week.

Anyway, as the public get their pitchforks at the ready for another public lynching of the other two racist instigators to leave the BB house (whom have both obviously been made aware of the situation and decided to blame Jade for their actions) sit waiting for the inevitable public vote laughing themselves silly watching Borat, 24 and The Simpsons.

Dinosaur Jr - Repulsion
Spearhead – Television The Drug of a Nation
The Ramones-The KKK Took My Baby Away

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Give me hope Joanna

I had only my second "one to one" in three years with one of the many managers whom grace my hallowed work place.
I lied through what's left of my teeth on my "progress" "ambitions" and on how much work I have to do. I felt no remorse for the blatant porkies I told.

As mentioned yesterday, I went to see Joanna Newsom last night accompanied gracefully by the sublime Northern Symphonia- a 24 piece orchestra. Suffice to say I was humbled and inspired to witness it. The venue, Manchester's Bridgewater hall, certainly played a significant part and aided the experience. During the coda of 'Sawdust & Diamonds' my arms resembled a kiwi fruit, and despite the warmth of the theatre, I could prevent myself from shivering.

Awesome (in the truest sense- not Bill& Ted/Frat boy overkill sense)

I've tried to find some footage of last night's gig, but the best I could come up with was footage of her from the night before in Glasgow, though rather dissapointingly it doesn't show her performing with the orchestra (note- she did comment that she was quite tense the night before and although it was good she was enjoying/enjoyed last night so much more...bless). I tried up in the nose bleed section to record some footage but gave up after a few seconds as I knew it was futile- but have attached it none the less.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Tree Surgeon called Ashley

My most recent and enlightening career's advice came in the form of Michael J. Fox this weekend in his 80's aspirational film 'The Secret of My Success'. I'm all ready fixed in the lowly position within the hierarchy, all I need to do now is find an empty office and proceed to make bold and enigmatic decisions bowling over the upper echelons of management with my charm, wit and boyish good looks.

Funny ole film though. As likeable as Mr. Fox is, you can't help but shudder at the ideals of his dreams of wealth and decadence, and having successfully ousted his evil "coat tail" relative as the director of a major company, his first idea is to use the company jet to fly out to Kansas to show his girlfriend off to them. Surely this is a blatant mis use of his shareholder's money and should be in-dighted at the earliest opportunity and removed so ironically from his new acquired office. It also teaches us that without any experience at all, someone can get a job (providing a relative runs that company) and lie and blag your way up the ladder of achievement -providing you manage to be successfully seduced by your relative's wife. It gives hope to us all, it really does. Aside from, what now appear to be very dated aspirations of career success it was good to watch though.

I recall watching it in my teens and remembering a conversation which takes place in the early scenes of the film, something which I remembered throughout my early post-university days.

Whilst in a job interview:

Interviewer:"I'm sorry, we're looking for someone with some experience"
Brantley Foster: "I've got experience- I've got college experience!"
Interviewer: " Yes, but we're looking for someone with practical, real world experience. If you'd joined us as a junior when you left High School, you'd have the right amount of experience by now."
Brantley Foster: " So why did I go to College for?"
Interviewer: "You had fun didn't you?"

Knowing this, I ensured that I did have fun whilst at Uni- and for the most part I did. Sadly after proudly graduating from university my first job was working as a gardener for the local council. Okay, the term 'gardener' may be pushing my job description somewhat, but I didn't think the term 'Weed remover' would have looked so good on my C.V. Oddly enough this was without question the greatest job I have ever had. I loved every minute of it. The fresh air, summer time in the valley gardens and being at one with nature was sheer bliss. So much so, old folks used to walk up behind me as I was trimming the edges of the lawns and say "you must really love your job". This made me appreciate it more so. I also got to meet Johnny Ball, who actually told me to "clear off for a minute" whilst he demonstrated some fancy pants invention that assisted bin men in their carrying of wheelie bins up stairs-conjured up by some geeky looking local school kid. When I was told to clear off, it was said in a jocular manner, rather than a vicious manner which in writing it may appear. Though when I did decide (for those three months) that I wished to pursue a career in the arts, it was disconcerting to read on every advertisement "Minimum of Two Year Experience required".

I often think back to that job in the sweet summer of 99 with rose tinted specs, and recall how I would joyfully remove the contents from the dog shit bins, whilst dressed in my scruffiest attire; so we resembled members of some Southern American chain gang, how my supervisor called me Max by mistake for four weeks and I spent three days weeding a round-a-bout in on Leeds Road. I also was befriended by an odd fellow who was the new Tree Surgeon called Ashley (or as male Ashley's for some reason prefer: 'Ash'), who at weekends would find a forest and just climb and sit in a tree- at one with nature. He also told me how he goes out on his own on a weekend and that he see's no shame in procuring prostitute when he felt the need was required. Despite the picture I'm painting of him, he was a top fellow and when he was told (by way of punishment for his cheeky nature) to spend the day with me pruning a rather large thorn bush by Harrogate College, we spent most of the day chatting about films and music. I think I left an impression with him too: as we started work at 7am, we used to have a break at 9am where everyone would whip out their Thermos flasks and read their copies of the Daily Star/Sun etc (there was always someone who thought they were above reading the 'red tops' and because they had a NVQ in badger burning or something, they'd read the Express.) Anyhoo, I used to bring some cereal in a tupaware along with small bottle of milk, have my breakfast then. To my amazement, everyone there was shocked by this innovation of packed-breakfast. It was prbably akin to when the Earl of Sandwich brought out of his picnic hamper, a Sun Blessed bread bag containing some soggy cheese and marmite butties. Ash was genuinely stunned. He said that he'd being trying to figure a way of preserving breakfast for years. He said he'd tried toast, cold bacon, sausages, porroge in his thermos etc. I didn't know what to say really. I got the idea when I worked in a Mattress Factory, where the hours where the same, and everyone did it there. But seriously, and alarmingly Ash and the other gardeners were amazed. During my short time there, I saw this innovative method catch on and I felt something of a pioneer. I often think that they ought to have a statue of me eating some Weetabix from tupaware in my honour.

It wasn't all a laugh a minute though, there was a tragic story I learned about whist working there. Every morning for the previous 5 years, the Council workers/Gardeners etc removed from the same bin, a carrier bag full of sick. I too had to remove it and can testify to this- in fact I saw a younger colleague who was unfortunate enough to resemble footballer Peter Beardsley lifting this carrier bag and it bursting on him. At the time, witnessing this was one of the funniest things I've ever seen, but the origins of this vomit appear to be quite tragic. For years, the carrier bags where surrounded by those giant Diary Milk wrappers, but as time went on, the Dairy Milk wrappers became Morrison's own branded milk chocolate, but more recently, they were accompanied by bun cases. The general opinion was that some wretched soul would gorge themselves on chocolate then regurgitate it into a plastic bag, tie a knot in it and leave it in the bin. Clearly judging from the decline in quality of the food substances, money was running out to fuel this obsession and in desperation would bake his/her own cakes to gorge on. Harrogate Council (so I was told) was spending thousands of pounds to install CCTV cameras to catch this culprit. Perhaps ole Michael J. Fox could make a movie about this? Perhaps he could use his patented charm, wit and boyish good looks to get himself promoted from round-a-bout weeding duties to become the mayor? Certainly the supervisor who called me Max, was very much of the same kind of "I'll be watching you, you snot nosed punk" types, that makes films like that so much more enjoyable.

Off to see the delectable and fascinating Joanne Newsome tonight, jealous? You ought to be.

Dinosaur Jr. - Pebbles + Weeds
All Smiles - Pile of Burning Leaves
Mudhoney -Touch Me I'm Sick

Friday, January 12, 2007

beeping slag

This footage was discovered on my mobile last whilst I was bored waiting for our flight from Prague last week. It was a pleasant discovery indeed. I don’t remember recording it, but it has proved most insightful about what happened that night and why I felt so rough on Christmas Day. Granted, I’d only had 4 hours cat disturbed sleep on my brother’s living room floor in my beeping slag* (thanks again bro) after a long night of ales (including Oyster Stout) and waking up with a pizza in my pocket etc..

The footage is a little grainy and it is quite hard to make out what’s going on, but it appears Dom’s heavily tattooed ‘girlfriend’ (please note my use of irksomely ironic quotation marks used to highlight the fact he didn’t consider her to be). Anyway, this is footage of her trying to audition as a lap dancer- and as Lisa astutely observed “she’s not very good is she?”. I recall vaguely that she asked us all if we’d want her to perform a lap dance for us- most of us politely decline, however there was one amongst us who was asleep and therefore it seemed an appropriate way to wake him.

Unless something goes tits up next Christmas, I won’t be in Harrogate and will miss the annual ritualistic Christmas piss up and Chico’s Pizza. I shall miss it and is usually the highlight of the whole Christmas weekend. The best ever Christmas Eve involved me being carried out a pub by a bouncer holding my throat, Luke falling down a hill with his hands in his pockets and helping a guy start his car- giving us a lift then realising as he was swerving across the traffic that he was drunk and that the car was stolen. The year before that on Christmas Eve Eve (23rd) I puked on myself in Harrrogate’s reprehensibly bad night club Jimmy’s decided to stay and dance it off (a sure sign that I wasn’t at my best) then, unable to walk –collapsed in a gutter on King’s Road leaving friends incoherent phone messages on their answer phones- all of which were played back to me the next day.
Falling flat on my face but managing not to drop my pizza a few years back with my brother was another highlight.

Anyhoo- every now and then Pitchfork bring us news that is actually of interest rather than some tit bits and gossip about some band I’ve never heard of, and in all probability won’t like- instead they bring news of a new Smog…sorry Bill Callahan record!

There isn’t too many artists/musicians that I wait with genuine anticipation for, but Mr. Callahan is certainly top of that pile. His last outing ‘A River ain’t Too Much too Love’ was easily my favourite record of 2005 and ‘Supper’ was my favourite record of 2003 (see ‘Feather by Feather’ MP3 below) anyway as if this news wasn’t enough to wet ones appetite, SFA front man Gruff Rhys is going to be performing at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall to promote his new LP ‘Candilion’.
Should you never have been lucky enough to have stepped foot in this hallowed venue – it is really special-. We’ve seen, Gorky’s, Yo La Tengo, and Lambchop (including their amazing ‘Sunrise’ performance.

Judging from the other venues on his tour, he; or the people representing him, must be fairly confident of good turn out especially as the other city’s venues are so small we’ve played most of them!

Reasons to be cheerful indeed!

Gruff Rhys- Gwn Mi Wn

Smog - Feather by Feather

*"Beeping Slag" Copyright McParty 2005

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Suit yourself (I was nearly blown off my feet)

Once more the heavy dark clouds of discontent loom above my head. I feel like a prisoner passed up for parole, knowing that his destiny is to spend the remainder of his time in a torrid hell-hole such as this office. No doubt you may gather that I was "unsuccessful" in my job application.

It looked so positive though I thought to myself after receiving the call. Where did I go wrong? Upon reflection and regaling how it went with Lisa, I can perhaps spot a few errors of judgment on my part:

Firstly, putting my suit on yesterday morning it had become clear that I have perhaps put on a couple of extra pounds over the festive period- all that Goulash and Straropramen in Prague no doubt. The jacket was so tight that I could barely do the buttons up. No matter I thought, I just wouldn’t fasten it.

I arrived at work with my suit jacket concealed under my coat so my nosey colleagues wouldn't suspect anything. I craftily removed my coat and jacket simultaneously and hung it up. “He He - the perfect crime!" I muttered like an old style film villain twirling my beard manically.

The whole day I was trying to mentally prepare myself for it i.e. doing bugger all at work. I did sadly have a rather unexpected nose bleed which alarmed me somewhat, especially as I was wearing a white shirt for the first time in an age as opposed to my usual rotation of black and dark grey shirts. This change of clothing was picked up on by one of my more astute colleagues, I explained that all my dark shirts were "in the wash". The wool was indeed over their eyes! Anyway, I rushed to the toilet and discovered that I had several large drops of blood on my shirt on my stomach. Considering the situation I remained fairly calm reassuring myself that as long as I buttoned up my suit jacket I would be fine. Going home to get a new shirt was not an option.

I sat at my desk with tissue up my right nostril for 15 minutes to ensure that the bleeding had ceased. “You’ve spilled some blood on your shirt” was a comment needless to say that I could have done without.

As I'd pre booked the afternoon off, so no one was suspicious when I fled out of the back door at 1pm. I stepped out into the middle of a hurricane- I mean Holy shit the wind was strong, proper strong! I struggled the few hundred meters to the Offices whereupon the interview was being held and did the ole, sit down and wait thing; which I did patiently- chatting to the receptionist on fairly trivial matters-mostly how windy it was “I was nearly blown off my feet I said”.

There was something a miss though. My usual confidence, which I rely upon in these situations, had deserted me and I was actually feeling nervous. Realising this made me more nervous and I could feel my palms getting sweaty- very sweaty!

When I was beckoned, I followed up some bored office clerk with 4 earrings up the stairs making polite chit chat regarding the strong winds “I was nearly blown off my feet” I said. I was asked to wait in a different office which was deserted except for a secretary and repeated the same conversation regarding the weather as I had done previously with the receptionist and the bored office clerk “(sigh)I was nearly blown off my feet”. I could hear laughter from the other side of the door which I took as a good sign until another interviewee came out of the room laughing and giving the thumbs up sign to the secretary who gave him a beaming smile. Fuck.

The secretary asked me if I wanted to take off my coat, I stood up to do so and remembered the blood so I suspiciously turned my back on her to remove my coat and quickly fasten up my suit jacket. Zoot Alores! I'd forgotten that I was a fat(ter) bastard and that my jacket was too small! I sucked in my gut the best I could and fumbled with the buttons the jacket eventually succeeding. I turned around, sweaty and resembling Penfold from Dangermouse and sat down cautiously knowing that any sudden movements would no doubt cause irreparable damage to my beloved suit. “As long as I don’t bed over or breathe I’ll be okay I thought.”

It wasn't took long that before I was invited into the "interview room".

In the office/makeshift interview room there was three managerial types sat behind a desk. Not wishing to lean over and shake hands because of the sweatiness and the jacket situation I sat down slowly and craftily undid my buttons safe in the knowledge that the blood stains would be out of sight under the desk. Flop- my belly popped out. I knew the 'non handshakingness' was an error, as they immediately started scribbling notes down whilst the chap in the centre of the three of them waffled on about what was instore for me for the afternoon (AFTERNOON!??).

Sadly my nerves got the better of me, and was unable to string a succinct sentence together. I ummed and erred and digressed majorly but I think I'd managed to answer the questions to their liking, so I still felt I was in with a chance. Alas, the next question about Equality Impact Assessment (a buzz word in the Council at the moment) caused me some discomfort. Having already brought the matter up myself in a previous question- the interviewer asked me why it was important and to give an example. Now having listened to an esteemed colleague moan non stop about having to go on a days' training about learning Muslim customs (in case he ever inspects their property- which he wouldn't and of course there are no Muslim households/families in our area- hence his "this is madness" bemoaning). I went on to answer this question the following way:

"Well...ummmm, it's naturally important to not exclude any members of the community as we want a erm... unified borough and community...and harmony - I'm mean I know everyone moans about Equality Impact Assessment, saying "why do we need to know about the Muslims blah blah blah" ....not me though of course, you know? As I think it's very important, but erm...it's important to know their customs and respect them for urm...their beliefs and errr....diet..... like taking your shoes off before you enter their property apparently and this will go a long way in building bridges and not exclude anyone from our community....creating harmony etc."

Bugger, I knew I'd blown it! I was on the ropes big time but that was thankfully the last question. He then went on to go over Council policy- all of which I knew already; that took twenty minutes. Then the time came for me to ask any questions I may have in regards to the position. Now, as I didn't know what exactly the job I was applying for was I tried to get around this by asking what the day to day tasks would be. The proceeded to waffle and go on about how good their team was, what I'd be doing and essentially I would be processing Licensing Applications. Oh joys. But was the money was far better and it was only for a year, it sounded pretty darned sweet to me.

They then went on about the new gambling regulations, which will be coming into effect soon. The chap said "We are all having to under take training on gambling which should be fun".

As soon as he said it, I could feel an obvious joke shooting it's way from my crap gag file in my brain to my dry mouth. There was little I could do to stop myself from saying it....."I bet you'll be no good at that". There it was, I said it. As at the last second I tried to stop myself I managed to keep the volume of this "joke" down- but all it did was make it sound like I was making a snide comment about him. There was a pause and a confused look on all their faces...without thinking (again) I said "Apologies I lied about having a sense of humour on my application" which was met by an even awkward silence. I could feel myself blushing and sweating. I'm pretty sure I saw the woman interviewer mouth "cock head" to me.

The interview was over, and I was informed that I would be required to partake in a typing test. "Great" or should I say "fiddle dee dee" (see previous post http://dogsbodydreadnought.blogspot.com/2006/11/fiddledeedee-im-fucked.html). I stood up and just tried to pull me jacket (which I was sure was shrinking by the minute) over the blood stain with my right hand. They stood up too and offered me their hands. I had to switch hands so that my left hand was pulling the jacket over the blood so I could shake their hands. It must have looked weird. The first guy's handshake I missed and ended up with him shaking my fingers (wet hand shake that I loathe- will write about this at some point) the second guy was a wet hand shaker anyway and I ended up crushing the woman's hand- and she did 'ouch' hand movement after I let go. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Anyhow I walked out of the office with my chin up and proceeded to take the typing test in another room. This was a piece of piss and I breezed them both exceeding the required 30 WPM and attaining my P.B of 42 WPM (small victory), however farting in this small room didn't exactly help, especially as it hadn't cleared by the time the secretary had come back to the office. –she said she’d check back on me in 15 minutes- but came back after 5!
I think it must have been the typing test success that gave me that glimmer of false hope. I honestly punched the air when I saw my score. After I’d said goodbye and collected my coat I went straight to the toilet as I was effing bursting. At the point I noticed that the bleedin’ winds had done something quite unusual to my hair! I let out a sorrowful whimper and my truly awful and bizarre hair.

Four hours later when I received the confirmation phone call I’d actually convinced myself that I was definitely going to get the job- and was a bit shocked with the "bad luck" phone call. Hilariously he said "we all enjoyed your interview but there was- on the day- a better suited applicant". Blown off my feet I was.

I am Kloot -Storm Warning
The Pernice Brothers- Crestfallen
Billy Bragg -Sulk

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


(pic- busker's on St Charles' bridge- Czech Blues Band)

Lubos was the name of our Puffa jacket clad taxi driver in his early forties who picked Lisa and I up from the airport in Prague. He approached us as I was persusing a map of the city trying to locate where our Hotel was. Naturally both Lisa and I were extremely dubious as we clearly looked like tourists and felt especially vulnerable to be hoodwinked by such crafty local types. He seemed genuine enough to me though and more importantly Lisa thought so too. We shrugged our shoulders and let him push our luggage trolley to his taxi.

Despite everything appearing Kosha with Lubos, as we drove towards the city I felt increasingly uncomfortable. This anxiety was heightened when his mobile phone started to ring. His ringtone was the theme to Kill Bill (the whistled tune) and he laughed heavily as he conversed via his speaker phone in Czech. Despite learning some key phrases in Czech, these proved useless in trying to ascertain what he was talking about. I convinced myself that he was explaining that he had two stupid English types in the back of his cab and he was on route to ritualistically rape and violate us, or sell us as meat or sex slaves perhaps on the black market. I mulled over the idea of being a sex slave for several minutes- and decided it would be a poor career choice.

After his conversation he apologised for having to take the call. Nervously and perhaps foolishly I whistled his ringtone theme (I have always excelled in whistling like an old man) and he went to answer it and realised the rouse. He proceeded to look back at us both with his phone in his hand and play the irritating theme back to us- raising his eyebrows and smiling inanely as if we should be impressed- a little like jangling keys to an infant or early American settlers giving the Native Americans shiny objects to pacify them. We politiely pretended we found it amusing- raising our eyebrows in feigned interest. He then continued to play his other theme song, some dodgy Czech White Metal nodding his head from side to side in time with the music. At that moment the rape and violation seemed a decent alternative.

Lubos, kept the conversation going throughout the journey pointing out key buildings in the city and explaining the historical significance to boot- I started to relax. No sooner as I had begun to lighten up Lubos stopped the car down some dimly lit back street on the city's outskirts. My sphincter closed as tight as a drum. I contemplated fleeing the car and leaving him and Lisa- of course this would mean sacrificing Lisa, but I figured she would distract him and this would give me a nifty head start.
He kept the engine running and leaned back and asked us what time our return flight was- offering to collect us should we wish.
"what no rape" I thought to myself somewhat disappointed.

I felt it rude to decline him and proceeded to give him my phone number and arrange a time for him to pick us up from the hotel but again I was dubious of his motive. I figured that if it had transpired that he'd overcharged us- which I would ascertain once in the safety of our Hotel, I'd give him one of my patented bad lies/excuses and then destroy my phone to prevent any threatening phone calls. He insited on calling me then- to see if I had given him a false number no doubt.

After him telling us about his love for Ice Hockey and his pride that his son played in the 2nd Division National league we soon arrived at our Hotel. Like a pro, he insited on lifting the bags into the Hotel for us and shook both of our hands before driving off into the busy traffic. After asking around it transpired that he'd charged us fairly and I felt a modicum of guilt as I thought of the way I was fairly cautious- but at least my sphincter opened up again.
I thought about Lubos quite a lot over the next few days. Not in a sexual manner of course- why would you even think that? but rather in an inquisitive way. I knew little about him except he loved to play Ice Hockey and his English was way better than he thought it was. Also he said to us that "Budvar" was his favourite beer.

When it came for us to go home and the end of the week, a weary Lisa and I waited with our luggage in the Hotel reception chatting to hairy lipped but thoroughly pleasant receptionist. We made small talk and she clarified some of our observations on the Russian WAGS we'd seen and both she and her colleagues had both commended me on my Czech- notably my pronunciation. Granted I only learned several polite phrases but showed them off to her as if I was the first Englishman to ever try his hand at the lingo. As ever,during our conversation I spoke to her in a Allo Allo-Czech accent, and as ever was ridiculed by my better half. I was slightly worried that Lubos may not collect us, but Lubos seemed a man of his word. Our rendez vous with him was at 6.30pm and low and behold he called me at 6.35pm- no doubt wanting to double check to see if we were actually there.

I was in a far better mood to converse with Lubos this time around, and infact received several nudges from Lisa in a way that would make me believe that I was talking to him a bit too much. I asked him about his games of ice hockey, the weather and driving conditions and rules of the road over there. He seemed distant this time round. It was clear to me that he hadn't pondered my existence as i had with him, this, pragmatically speaking, was fair enough I thought. On route to the airport he pointed out his home town- a set of lights on the horizon. It looked fairly industrial and fairly unpleasant- no doubt he was happy with it as long as he has his ice hockey and Budvar.

Once again, arriving at our destination he insisted on taking our luggage out of his car's boot and I noticed an ice hockey stick was there and his full name was written on his car's door proudly. Once more he shook our hands and felt like giving him a hug. I didn't though- we had a plane to catch.

Oddly enough once we'd collected our baggage from the respective carousel in Manchester airport we were due to be picked up by a taxi that I'd pre- arranged. I couldn't see him anywhere, and wasn't sure how he'd identify me? I called the taxi company- simply noted as 'Taxi' in my phone and asked embarrassingly what the name of the taxi company was. "Penny Lane Taxis? really?". I spotted a silver Astra sporting this company logo and the driver was on his phone having a fag. He watched Lisa and I struggle in the heavy rain getting our bags in the car and didn't help. This made me think of Lubos- king of the taxi drivers. A small tear was shed in his honour.

This cabbie turned out to be a decent chap though, and it wasn't long before I'd forgotten about Lubos and his Puffa Jacket, however every time I see my tattoo declaring my love for him that I got whilst over in Prague, and the subsequent treatment for hepatitis I got whilst having it done will always somehow remind me of him. sigh.

Anyway, my job interview (the one which I don't know what the job's for) is in a few hours. I must mentally prepare myself. Adieu!

Pavement - Transport is Arranged (live)
Pearl Jam -Rearviewmirror

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So long 2006; glad to see the back of you and hello 2007!

The Christmas lights may well be shining still, however the festive period is well and truly over. I return to the office this morning and despite the obligatory handshakes and pats on backs it is business as usual.
Customarily, this time of the year leaves one feeling low, depressed and disenchanted with the working world, as no matter how bleak ones Christmas was, sat on your arse watching TV and eating chocolate orange is far superior way of spending one's time than sat in this miserable old office. I however feel neither as I was here at work between Christmas and New year's, so naturally I felt low, depressed and disenchanted then, also more importantly, Lisa and I are going to Prague for a few days tomorrow. More uplifting than this is my impending job interview on the 10th- though due a surge of recently applied job positions, I regret that I chose not to keep the job specifications list provided for me and sadly I don't actually know what the job entails. No matter- hopefully I may be able to answer questions posed to be in a vague but convincing manner. Having been Council employee for some time, this should not be too hard an task to undertake. But seriously, I don't have a clue what this job is about. I don't feel for a minute that I have a snowball's chance in hell - but it ought to be a laugh!

Another reason to be cheerful is the new graffiti that I noticed for the first time on route to the office today:

"Kate Smith is a grass on her fella.
Mony (sic) grabber"

I find the thousands of vicious graffiti messages with spelling mistakes across this fine city hilarious. The band and I found the slogan " Kenny is a supper(sic) grass!" to be the best thus far as we used to pass it on route to our old rehearsal room.

Better that these handwritten musings was a piece of festive graffiti that I spotted on the Friday before Christmas. I was in fairly high spirits on that day. The majority of my shopping had been completed and I was looking forward to enjoying a couple of quiet ales in the evening. It wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that I had a spring in my step.
I had to do a double take as I strode towards my office when I first cast my eyes upon it. Naturally I had to stop and take a photo of it- as perhaps I could craft it into a Christmas card for next year.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm not going to bore you with the details of my Christmas but it was a good one despite my early reservations, suffice to say that I am exhausted and I am especially looking forward to getting some much need kip over in Prague. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I didn't see any television on 23-26th December. I don't think I missed too much, though I was a bit gutted that I didn't get to see the two Ricky Gervais Meets... with Christopher Guest and Garry Shandling. I did though see a few moments of the Garry Shandling episode, however as Lisa and I returned from our respective parents, and as we hadn't seen each other over the festive period I thought it may be a tad rude of me to gawp at the television whilst we talk. (like the other 364 days of the year) . From what I saw, Gervais was his usual funny self and Shandling appeared to be as rude and grumpy as his Larry Sander's alter-ego. I did see the bit where Shandling returns with a mug of coffee without offering Gervais one- who took offense at this.

Of course nothing quite highlights the Christmas spirit than the cast of Friends/other generic second rate US sitcom (Will & Grace et al) wishing you all the best and thank fuck almighty I missed that.
I did, much to my dismay see the Christmas edition of Bad Girls. It was utter crap with the exception of the Costa Cons having to deliver Janine's baby in their cell as the joyless Wing Gov.Body Bag refused to answer their distress alarm and watching her gruesomely and graphically give birth a dead baby- though after the adverts the baby had somehow regained consciousness and after a couple of hours was perfectly okay - thus proving to myself that I have outgrown the hilariously cheesy TV programmes that I used to love so. The writing was on the wall when i stopped watching Heartbeat after I became deeply cynical once Claude Greengrass' replacement; Vernon Scripps left the show- thus removing the only good performer and shattering my love of it's A-Team/Dukes of Hazzard type formulaic storyline. Plus it's been the nineteen sixties for the past 13 years. There's only so many times you can listen to 'Itchy Coo Park' whilst watching a lame car chase through the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside.

Anyhow, work to be done before I go etc.

The New Year -Disease

The Small Faces -Itchycoo Park