Saturday, July 29, 2006

They don't make 'em like this anymore

As there seems to be a rash of this going on at the moment I thought I'd add my two penn'orth. Look around these pages and it's pretty obvious I don't think it gets much better than this.

The reason Rory Gallagher is by turns spoken of in terms of hushed reverence or sadly not even known of is because he never glorified drugs; never caused a drive-by shooting; never spawned a clothing fashion any more offensive than a plaid shirt and plimsols; never attacked anyone at an airport and I only once ever heard him swear (and even that was debatable). He gave out nothing more or less than pure enjoyment. You didn't go to a Rory show to make a political statement or to navel gaze; you went to tap your feet and clap your hands. And anyone who thinks he was Liam and Noel's dad deserves a contemptuous slap.


A couple of days ago I happened upon various family members enjoying a DVD.
"Cool Runnings" I said, eager to impress with my knowledge of early 90s comedy films. "Hmmg". Obviously not impressed. Oh well. It has been out since 1993 and blimey, John Candy died the year after it was released, was it that long ago? We are allowed to know these things. Sharon had never heard of it but then she lived in Norway at the time (her universal excuse for when our cultural references don't match).I did see it on release but I can't say I really remember much of it at all as it reminds me of a particularly unsavoury journey that try as I might, I cannot ever seem to forget.

I was working at 33 Cavendish Square, near Oxford Circus, for a well known French oil company. That's the big building next to John Lewis if you need a geographical scene setter. We were, quite frankly, bored. We knew we were going to be made redundant in the next year or so, so any excuse to escape for a few hours was gleefully siezed upon. My best buddy at the time was an ex-colleague, AJ. Now, AJ was (and presumably still is, for we haven't met for about 5 years because she's been living foreignly) a very attractive lady so this did not go down too well with she who was the then wife. And, as anyone of either sex who has a very good but also attractive friend of the opposite gender, the more you try to make an innocent relationship seem so, the less it impresses the spouse. It must be said at this point that our relationship was purely plationic and based largely upon a mutual appreciation of fags, beer and gossip. Nothing else, so don't even think it. We were both married and her old man was also a colleague and a mate and you don't do that to your mates, do you. Well, I don't.

It must have been around Easter because my wife was visiting her parents in parts abroad, so I could go out to play without getting the treatment when I got home. AJ had the afternoon off from her new job and I made an excuse that I was ill and we decamped to the Hog in the Pound behind Bond St tube. After a bit we decided to go to the pictures. I can't remember where we went but I think it was towards the Tottenham Court Rd end but I do remember "Cool Runnings" was playing. Halfway through the film I started to feel a bit cold and uncomfortable but I just put this down to the time of year and the effects of the liquid lunch. By the end I was feeling distinctly off-colour. I remember parts of the film but I also remember dozing off several times and it was something I wouldn't ordinarily do in the company of a friend. We came out and went for a coffee but I could barely drink it. I told AJ that I think I ought to go home but that I couldn't walk to Charing Cross even though it was only a few minutes away and I certainly wasn't taking the tube. She bundled me into a cab and I made it to CX without incident but feeling rougher by the minute. I certainly wasn't drunk because I'd only had two pints and I'd left nearly all of one of them because I didn't really feel like it. Very unusual.

I was by now dreading the journey home. 40 minutes on the train and 13 stops with a 3/4 mile walk at the other end. I got on the train, making careful note that I was actually near a working khazi. We pulled out across Hungerford Bridge and I immediately felt worse. I leant my head against the seat in front and said to the guy next to me that not to worry I wasn't pissed, I was unwell, wake me up at Belvedere. I must have gone for a bit because I woke up a few stations down the line feeling really ropey. Help! Someone went in the bog! Hurry, I need it. As soon as he vacated it I leapt in and slammed the door shut. Baaaaaaarrrrrffffff!!!

I am not a delicate emeticist. I was legend among my family for the loud moans and bullfrog volume belchings that accompanied my occasional drink fuelled clearances. I can't help it, it's all to do with the plumbing. On the very few occasions I have been sick through illness, the result is the same. How on earth is a spectator to know the difference? I was, after all on a train in the mid afternoon. I had a very faint whiff of alcohol about me. I was now bowking my guts up in a train bog and, horror of horrors, the train had stopped mid-station. Everything was quiet as it invariably is on a stationary English train. Ssshhh. BAAAAARRRRRFFFFFF!!! BELCCHHHH!! YEUURGHHH!!!! Moan. Mmm. Finished. Better go and sit down then because I must be near my stop now. Open door. The English reserve had been broken as I was greeted by a faint smattering of applause from my fellow Network SouthEast customers before stumbling the few feet back to my seat. "Thank you" I said, bowing. "Show's over, no encore."

I got a taxi from the station, filled the cats' bowls up (and somehow emptied their litter tray) then fell into bed. I slept soundly for around 15 hours and dined royally on a digestive biscuit the next day. Gastric flu it was. The excuse I'd used to bunk off work had caught up with me. How salutory. I can only offer up thanks to whatever power controls these things that I only evacuated from one end. I had salmonella poisoning once and that was gruesome.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Guinness Genius wanted

We have a problem.

Sharon went away to London and now her laptop won't work properly. Nor will her spare one which is currently being used by visiting daughter. Rather unusual since neither were used while they were away except for Sharon's when I fetched her mail every day and wiped off all the Japanese spam in the vain hope this would gain me bedroom favours. Last time I'm doing that.

She can receive emails using Outlook Express but she cannot send. She cannot use MSN Messenger. In fact, anything that requires an outgoing signal, even posting a comment or a blog post, is out of the question. She couldn't even upload a file to a Yahoo mail account and ended up having to put everything on a memory stick and doing it from mine. My laptop seems to be working fine. We all use a wireless router (4 pcs in all and it usually works fairly well)

We are on Tiscali broadband so she contacted them via their website. She received an email that appeared ostensibly to be in English but isn't really and was to all intents and purposes unintelligible. When are these companies going to learn? Useless bunch of idiots (I am moderating my language here).

Does anyone out there have any idea what could possibly be wrong? We both need the interweb for work, she much more than I and this is becoming a right royal pain in the rear.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Warning: Please read the whole post before clicking the hyperlink

Can I urge all my regular readers (I've been to your blogs, you're all good sensible people) to go to this page and flag it as objectionable using the device in the top right hand corner (click on the "flag?" icon). This bastard turned up as a visitor to my pages yesterday and really does not deserve to share the same universe.

Please, and I really do mean this, if you are of a sensitive demeanour, do not scroll down past the first image of Khomeini. I have done it for you and while I am generally in favour of free speech, most of the images he has shown and the language he has used to annotate them serve no purpose whatsoever in the fight to remove sectarian terror from this planet. On the other hand, if you really wish to be shocked, go ahead. I do realise that by merely writing this post I will have excited curiosity but on balance, it is better to make these things known and get them removed before they influence somebody with the odd misfiring synapse to go out on the street and shoot anyone with a beard. While the images are truly shocking, they only serve to flag the poster up as being no better than the perpetrators of the foul deeds themselves. I suspect he has some deep perversions he is attempting to satisfy; he certainly does not seem the kind of person I would like to meet in any situation whatsoever. Indeed, however much we malign the government of this country, they have introduced laws preventing this kind of zealous incitement of religious hatred and he would be rightly incarcerated. That is a good thing. This though, really is the ugly side of the interweb.

Now go back and do my quiz.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My turn!

Everybody's doin' it so I thought I'd have a go. Where have you seen this lot of first lines before? There's only five on 'em so it shouldn't be too taxing but I think I've got them from suitably obscure sections of my record collection. I think they're easy but well, you know.

Special, never seen before prizes. Answers on Sunday. Here we go then...

1) The rains came and ev'ry drop, drowned my pain

2) Drove my car to the station, let you outta the door,
I drove my car to the station, let you outta that door...

3) If your body's feelin' bad and it's the only one you have

4) Orange lights are in my head, you put them there, I'm better off dead.

5) Curious Mr Sandwich, round the corner, made the train and butterflies roared

Good luck.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Save the Planet

If we all switched our televisions off during every news item about global warming we could reduce our carbon footprint by 27%.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What on earth next?

There has been a rush (5) of visitors to my door today seeking information on "Jose Mourinho haircut". I sincerely hope that they have been all tremendously disappointed as I can guarantee there is absolutely nothing there about the cheating (he's Portuguese isn't he?) bugger's greasy mane. I have had the television and wireless off most of the day so pardon me if I missed any breaking news.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tales from the Middle. No 2 in an occasional series

I alluded back here to a car ride. The scores of you (Dyna) requesting details of this little episode have finally convinced me to relate it, such as it is.

I was, I think, around 17 and still playing the purest form of cricket there is, Kentish village cricket, with nothing at stake but local rivalry and the honour of getting the beers in after the game. Some of the grounds in Kent are picture postcard perfick, like the one of our local rivals, Woodchurch below:

Others were almost county seconds standard such as at Meopham (where I didn't play until I was in my 30s):

And others were just the stuff of some bizarre twisted imagination, like Alkham:

The original caption for this picture states that it is from the "top" of the cricket green. Note you can see the roof of the pavillion on the left of the picture. Even the most reluctant student of geometry will be able to detect the presence of a quite notable gradient. Indeed such is this gradient at one point on the ground that a fiercely driven straight drive will fail to reach the boundary at its highest point. You'll be equally as lucky to reach it at the the other end of the ground for a different reason as it is exceedingly long at the lowest part. Also the narrowness of the ground meant that there were no sixes awarded square of the wicket. The Alkham ground nests deep in the North Downs behind Dover. As you can probably guess, it's in a valley and regularly floods, partly due to the presence of a nailbourne, a seasonal spring that wells up in times of heavy rainfall and quite common in the area. In fact that pavillion looks new to me and in a slightly less hazardous place than the old one so maybe they'd had enough by the time the picture was taken.

All this is by way of scene setting. We had played the game and, as is usual on these occasions, retired to the local hostelry. Several hours later it was time to leave. Now, I can't remember how I got down there but I can certainly remember how I got back. Robin, clutch burning star of the previous post, offered me a lift. Fair dos, he lived in the same road so no bother. Except that there was because his fiancée, Marina had turned up and also wanted a lift back. Readers of the last post will recall that Robin drove an Escort. Not when this event took place he didn't; he'd bought Jim Nick's MG Midget. This was a game little beast and one in which I'd already spent quite a few journeys being ferried home by Jim with my head lolling out the window and my feet frying under the engine block. I also think it had been tweaked as a Midget's top speed was around 85-90mph and Dob's was definitely faster ("Dobbin" being Robin's nickname, if you haven't read the other post yet).

Again, those in the know may well be ahead here. Dob, myself and Marina equals three bodies; the MG Midget is designed for two. It's not even a two plus. There is a ledge behind the seats but this is not designed for the transport of flesh unless the meat is already slaughtered and in a Tesco's bag.

Not to worry, my ruddy-cheeked comrade assured me that if I wanted to squeeze along the shelf, he'd get back me home quickly. We were only about 20 miles from home and it was only about 11pm. It had only just started to rain. Heavily. Nothing really seemed to phase Dobbin.

So I threw my kit in the boot and squeezed myself transversely behind the two seats, at the same time wondering whether I ought to change places with my kit bag. It wasn't comfortable. Off we went. This is deepest backwoods Kent. And Kentish folk are The Invicta; it means "never conquered". There is then, no such thing as a speed limit on a country road. I watched as the needle pressed unhindered towards the 100mph mark and all the while it was raining, the Midget's wipers straining against the combined forces of water and wind. This was also nearly 30 years ago and the Channel Tunnel hadn't yet been built (it had been started but abandoned) so the local roads were still in the B class until we hit the M20. What is more, the Midget's flimsy canopy was starting to pull loose.

"Rob, the rain's getting in"

"Just hold it down, Tricky. Lean on it" (Being a Richard, this was the de riguer nickname post-Nixon).

We are now pelting along a wet and undulating B road at close to warp speed, barely able to see where we're going because it's raining and the headlights only give out about 20 candle-power and with a pissed teenager trying to hold the roof on. Boy was I having fun. I wouldn't have minded so much but earlier on, the short boundary at square leg had held such an allure that I'd holed out going for it with barely a contribution to the score.

We got home and I gibbered my hellos with relief. My Mum greeted me in her usual fashion:

"Tsk. Been drinking again"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Going Global - reprise

I have done it. A day later than planned but I have recorded the interview for transmission tomorrow morning at 9.15 on Cork's RedFM. It will also be broadcast on their Best Of on Saturday morning and on the "Green on Red" show on Sunday after 7pm. Just in case you missed it the first time.

I am also now the proud owner of a spangly new MP3 file - 5.72mb's worth of nasal stuttering that will be uploaded somewhere on my website later on when Sharon can do it for me (just in case you miss the replays). Anything involving the black arts of FTP and other witchcraft with which I'm unfamiliar is best left to her. One day I'll crack it but it suffices to say for the moment that I started an OU foundation course on IT two years ago and left after 6 months (and because I never got around to withdrawing, I actually failed. Now there's a thing).

I didn't swear once and only managed one sentence that was so long I'd forgotten what I was originally talking about by the time I attempted to finish it (with "I think you'd better edit that bit because I don't know what I'm on about."). Well, they did say treat it like you were down the pub with your mates.

All good fun.

Reprise Coda and a PS:
Here it is in super clear audio streaming quality.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Going Global

I am going to be on the wireless again.

Unlike last time, on this occasion I shall be using my voice as I attempt to sneak effortlessly (and hopefully largely unnoticed) onto the treadmill of international movage and shakery. On Monday I am being interviewed by this gentleman for the breakfast show on Cork's Red FM. In order that I can get up in time, fill myself with tea and beta-blockers then lock the dog in the garden so she doesn't go looney tunes when the postman comes, the interview is being pre-recorded for transmission sometime on Tuesday morning between the hours of 7am and 10 am. They will also have nearly a day to whittle down my unintelligible burblings and off-topic ramblings into something remotely approaching broadcast quality. If you can be bothered, you will be able to listen to it via the wonder of teh interwebs through the Red FM website.

Why me? Some of you will know this bit already but I have been for close on the past 30 years or so, a devotee of the music of the late and very much missed Irish guitarist, Rory Gallagher. I don't make a huge deal out of it; I'm no scary über fan and you won't see me wearing t-shirts or having tattoos of battered Stratocasters etched into my epidermis. I don't even own all his recorded output. I like the music pure and simple and Rory was a supreme entertainer, the best live act I've ever seen and a fantastically humble human being to boot. Then, a few months back I did something wholly out of character.

Irritated by some unwarranted criticism from the keyboard of a Rory impersonator with a fragile ego who said that the only people doing anything to preserve the man's legacy were those like him, i.e. actively on the circuit playing his music (not those paying to hear it, obviously), I vowed one day to do something a little more long-lasting. But what though? Then George Best died and Belfast announced they were renaming the City Airport (that's the small commuter airport, not the big one that used to be Aldergrove). Liverpool has John Lennon Airport (bearing the legend "Above us only sky" - not if you go into the terminal building; there's an impressive layer of filth and dust up above on the high paintwork. And no towels in the bogs either. And it costs £8 for 2h 8mins in the car park. How's that for working class heroics for you) and Cork has an unnamed airport. Although he wasn't born there, Rory grew up in Cork, bought the Strat there and lived there for years, often using the airport himself as he spread his music across the world (even though he latterly became scared of flying). He's even buried there. So, why not? After putting the idea to a few friends on a message board to see what they had to say,I started this very much in order to gauge public opinion more than anything. I hadn't a clue what to do afterwards. I more or less forgot about it, becoming pre-occupied with other things.

It's been rumbling on in the background, steadily gaining signatures and it's now well over 1100 names in length. Last week Lenny from Red FM emailed me saying he thought it was a great idea and could we do something. Er...yes, I said.

I'm a trifle worried. Cork is very much Irish, independent and proud of it. Dublin's the capital? Get away, not to a Corkman it isn't. And here I am, a foreigner who's never set foot in Ireland let alone Cork, who has started a ball rolling in their city. I wouldn't blame them in the least for not being particularly welcoming toward me. I can only suck it and see. I'm rather hoping it will just become an interwebs viral thing with a life of its own, generating its own momentum and public feeling. Although my name's on the petition, I am only the petition's progenitor and the idea is an international one. It's even been attempted before but failed for reasons I know nothing about although I'm attempting to find out. Maybe this new modern method will succeed but it will be interesting finding out.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This Week

Two stories catch my eye in the news this week, one as joyous as the other is disturbing.

First, the creepy one. Would you let your child near any head of state who looks like Max Schreck?

Hello, young man, I'm the President.
Do you want to see the fluffy kittens?

Second one: The twat still owes £700,000 in tax. That's the salaries of about 30 soldiers by my reckoning. Must be hard out there in Dubai, eh Jim? Probably can't afford to come back and work then.

Jim: Big Issue, mate?
Chalkie: Take 20p for it?
HM C & E: Nick Nick

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Frederick Sewards Trueman passed away today from cancer, aged 75.

He was a bloody-minded and arrogant professional Yorkshireman who seemingly had very little time for the nancy-boy preenings of modern day sportsmen. He was too curmudgeonly for his own good and was frequently dropped by England as a result. He upset fellow cricketers, the MCC, the BBC and many listeners with his forthright views on the game of cricket and its administrators. However, none of this stopped him becoming the first bowler to 300 test wickets when his great friend Colin Cowdrey caught Neil Hawke at first slip during the Oval test of 1964. Neither did it stop him forming one of the greatest new-ball partnerships in cricket with Brian Statham. Fred was genuinely fast and aggressive, with a classic fluid action that could control outswing almost at will and he would bowl all day if needed. His average of 21.57 and strike rate of one wicket every 49 balls remain among the best in test cricket.With over 9000 first class runs and three centuries to boot, he was also a talented tail end batsman. He spoke about the game not out of arrogance but as one who had been there and done it all. He was one of cricket's genuine characters and the game will be poorer for his passing. He believed he was "T'Greatest Fast Bowler Who Ever Drew Breath" and whether you believed it or not, it was that unassailable confidence in himself and his abilities that made him great.

F.S Trueman 1931 - 2006

That's it.

Penalties, eh?

What on earth were Motty and Lawrenson going on about when they insisted that England should play for penalties? England have never won a penalty shoot-out so why should this be any different? What law of averages says that this time they'd win it? My fat, beardy bloke law of probability says that if you've never won one, you're going to be so bloody hexed about this one you haven't a hope in hell's chance. Why on earth take Theo Walcott as your fourth striker and not even use him? Why put so much store on someone with such a fragile temperament? Why does Stephen Gerrard even bother turning up? Bar one goal, he's been ineffectual for England. He invariably is and when I saw him walk up for a penalty my heart sank because either it was going over the bar like he usually does in internationals or it was going straight at the keeper. Yet another player who can't do it at international level. Was Frank Lampard on drugs? And look - I know shit-all about football tactics but again, fat, beardy bloke logic says that when the opposition knows you're very obviously playing with one man up front, they'll have two men on him, especially when you insist on feeding him with long balls that take ages to arrive. That's exactly what Portugal did as every time Rooney turned round from receiving the long ball, there were two bodies in front of him. Crouch was better at keeping it than Rooney was in that situation but by then he had no support - where was Walcott? Fresh legs and speed? Need I go on?

They've been calling for TV referees for ages now. Go for it, Fifa. Not to help in line decisions or offside rulings but to stop cheating arseholes like Figo and Maniche. If a camera is watching you, you're not going to go down clutching your face when a stray hand hits you in your chest (like Maniche) because the penalty will be a red card for play acting awarded by the 2nd ref. And my final whinge, let's stop this ridiculous nonsense about being "sporting" and kicking the ball into touch. It's being taken to extremes and it's being used cynically. That all started when a player had gone down and not got up for a while as a courtesy to get a stretcher on quickly; now it's expected to happen every time a player goes down and doesn't get up for 5 seconds. It's being exploited by teams who've lost territory or are being hit on the counter attack so they can timewaste. It's not sportsmanship, it's gamesmanship. Or cheating. It doesn't fit easily in a game that is riddled with cheats - when did you last see a player stick his hand up and tell the ref he handled by accident or hear "yes ref, I really did mean to tread on his nuts, you'd better send me off"? Football is meant to be a contact sport, if you go down hurt, that's part and parcel of the game.

Owen Hargreaves was mustard.

(That was my 100th post. That went quickly)