28 December 2006

Christmas comes but once a year ...

thank feck for that.

The run up to Christmas was spent, as usual, wondering what the hell to get everyone. My ex has a large family and I'm crap with kids so I never know what they'll like. Every year I wrack my brains trying to come up with something good and, once again,
Hawkin's Bazaar came up trumps :o) Although I wasn't able to spend half as much as I usually do on them, I think I did OK. I got a message off Charlie, via Smurf, to say thanks for her prezzie and that she liked it (cheers hon). Dunno what the rest of his family thought of theirs cos I didn't get so much as a Christmas card off any of them. Hurt? Yes, actually, I am. Even a phone call, e-mail or text message would have been nice, but at least now I know where I stand.

I started with a mega-bad back on 20 December. It's now 28 December and it still hurts like hell :o( There have been days where I've been virtually unable to move. Round about the same time, I got the lurgy, which I'm sure was given to me by Freak in one of those nasty e-mail thingies, so I've been coughing my guts up (literally) for a week and no signs of it abating. To be honest, I'm bloody fed up of it. After coughing for several hours last night, and keeping Spike awake, I finally did the decent thing and tried to sleep on the sofa. I managed about 3 hours, which is about the longest yet.

OK, so I make it sound like the worst Christmas ever, but it wasn't. Despite me being ill, and feeling grumpy, I've actually had quite a good time. Spike and I went to my parents for Christmas dinner and had a lovely meal. Then we went off to spend the evening with Mad Dave, Jules, Pauline and Tony and had more food, lots of wine and a good laugh. Then on Boxing Day, Howard came over to see us and we drank lots of tea and put the world to rights. I even managed to drag myself out shopping yesterday and bought a few things for the house. Tonight, I'm off to a party with another bunch of mates in the Midlands, and then at weekend, health allowing, Spike and I are off on a New Year camping trip.

Right, time to eat. Again.

22 December 2006

I take it all back...



Father Christmas DOES exist! Yes, really, he does! I was so excited I nearly dropped me camera, but I managed to get this rare pic, just before he gave me a Vimto lollipop. Yay!

21 December 2006

Brightest blessings

and a very merry Yule to you all.

The picture below is from Amy Brown Fantasy Art, and I think it's just right for the Winter Solstice.

When is lying OK?

This article in the Manchester Evening News has made me quite annoyed and maybe not for the reason you'd think.

Parents are annoyed because a vicar has allegedly told kids that Father Christmas isn't real. Whether he did actually say that or not is a moot point. However, I truly believe that it is fundamentally wrong to lie to your kids and make them believe in a fictional character, only to tell them some years later that you made it all up. After all, most normal people bring their kids up to tell the truth, don't they? So what gives parents the right to lie to their kids? Some kids are so upset by the revelation that they cease to trust their parents, because if they've lied about that, what else have they lied about?

Surely a far more sensible approach would be to teach them from the outset that the Father Christmas portrayed by many people in this world, is not the real Father Christmas, and teach them about the story of St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, Christkind, or Kris Kringle, or whatever you happen to call him in your part of the world. Tell them that the original charitable gift-giver died many many years ago, and that people remember his kindness by dressing up and giving gifts to their loved ones. That way, they'll understand that the spirit of the deed is to be kind to one another, not to be money-grabbing little parasites.

Oops, sorry, got a bit carried away there. Um, er, Bah Humbug!

19 December 2006

Turkey and Tinsel

I've been a bit slow with my blogging recently, cos I've had a lot to do, what with Smurf moving out, and me trying to catch up with my work. However, I thought I really ought to tell you all about Lost Weekend's Turkey and Tinsel gig on 2 December at the Sportsman Inn in Halifax (bloody good pub!).

I had absolutely no idea where the pub was, but Spike and I set off to Halifax in good spirits. I pulled in at Sainsbury's and asked if they had any A-Z Maps. I got a blank look, and then someone suggested I try the petrol station. So I went over there and they had A-Zs of Bradford and Leeds, but not Halifax or the big West Yorkshire one. Spike and I tried several other places but they all had maps of anywhere except Halifax. Maybe they don't like foreigners from over the border...

Anyway, it was whilst we were looking for another shop that we suddenly came upon the pub and found there was a parking space right outside the door. Bonus! I grabbed my trusty camera from the car boot and went inside, to be greeted by the lovely Mike South, who'd come all the way from Southampton especially to see the band.

Whilst the band were doing their sound check, Spike, Mike and I had a few drinks and put the world to rights, and had a chat with
Ratty, the resident DJ.

The gig got going in grand style, and the whole pub was rocking. This was the first time I'd had the opportunity to listen to the material from the band's new album, Forever Moving On, and I was mightily impressed. In fact, since the gig, the album has been on 'repeat' on my CD play pretty much every day since. You can have a listen to some of their tracks on the Lost Weekend MySpace. My current favourites are 'Seize the Day' and 'High and Low', although I have to say I love all but one of the tracks.


During the gig, it became apparent that Robin had his own
fan club in attendance, given by the number of people yelling out his name, and the rapturous applause when he left the stage, shortly before getting mobbed.

Despite the tiny stage, the lads managed to put on a great show, and I even managed to get some rare pics of Jack, who is usually hidden in the dark and murky corners where no camera flash can penetrate. My photo-taking spree was interrupted temporarily by Paul trying to put his leg in front of the lens but I didn't mind, safe in the knowledge that I'll get my chance to leg him up eventually ;o)

Dave was in 'Guitar Face' mode again, to accompany his amazing riffs. I often wonder what would happen if the power went off mid-riff. Would he still pull the face, even with no sound?

Dave and Squiz weren't pissed at all after the gig. Oh no. Honourable mention should go to Jeff the Tech, cos he works really hard behind the scenes and never really gets any credit for it.

15 December 2006

Playing God...

When I get asked to go to fancy dress parties, I never have a clue what to wear. Woody always seems to be able to come up with something good, though (although his pimp costume was maybe a bit too 1970s). Maybe I should ask him for ideas. I think this latest costume, and photo is brilliant. He won't tell me if the Saviour goes commando though. Spoilsport.

14 December 2006

Wet

I've just seen on the news that the village of Milnathort in Perth & Kinross has been flooded. One of Cooldrums's mates, lives there and, if I recall correctly, lives pretty damn close to the river. Cooldrums, get some pictures, you never know, they might come in handy for an insurance claim. Failing that, you could sell them to the press.

Hazel, I hope that you and your stuff are OK.

Lonely T.O.G.

Tradgedy has struck in the Womble-mobile. The radio in my car has decided to die on me and I have been forced to travel to work Wogan-less. I've checked the fuses and it's not that, so that's about the limit of my expertise. Bugger.

12 December 2006

Mass medication

I am so fed up of the state trying to enforce medication on the citizens of the UK.

Some kids have bad teeth because their parents feed them on sugary food and don't make them clean their teeth properly, so the Government wants to mass medicate the water supplies with fluoride, even though most people neither need nor want it. Indeed, for some people it could prove fatal.

Now the Food Standards Agency has decided that because some young women don't get enough 'folates' (folic acid) in their diet when they're pregnant, that all flour and bread supplies should be doctored with the stuff. I realise that a folate deficiency when pregnant can lead to problems with the baby, such as Spina Bifida, but that is no reason to mass medicate the whole of the UK's bread supplies.

Well how about this? The UK has a massively high teenage pregnancy rate, so let's reduce it by adding contraceptive drugs to the water supply? Whilst we're at it, how about adding aspirin to the food supplies, so that people can avoid headaches and heart attacks? Hmm, I wonder if adding paracetamol to beer will help to prevent hangovers?

I've got a better idea. Why doesn't the Government let people take responsibility for themselves for a change. If you don't want your kids to have bad teeth, teach them proper nutrition and dental hygiene. If you want your baby to be healthy, make sure you eat properly during the pregnancy. Don't let the majority suffer for the stupidity/incompetence of the minority.

If you want to have your say on the folic acid debate, have a look at the Food Standards Agency website.

09 December 2006

The big cleanup

Smurf's in the process of moving out and I'm the process of cleaning up. Everything's going OK so far, except that I've cut my nose-picking finger which, to me, is a tragedy.

07 December 2006

ET has landed!

"Well not so much landed as spluttered his way here."

Yes, that's how my mate Debs announced the arrival of her first grandchild. From the text above, I'm guessing it's a boy, but we haven't been told if he's got a name yet.

Debs, please make Kelly give him a sensible name!

Congratulations Kelly, now the hard work really starts ;o)

05 December 2006

Pachelbel's Canon in D

Many many years ago, when I played in a Chamber Orchestra, my favourite piece was Pachelbel's Canon in D. Even now, saddo that I am, I will put the CD on and play along to it, reliving my former passion :o)

Anyway, I've had this bookmarked on my browser for bloody ages and it's about time I shared it with you all, cos this lad is the dog's bollocks.

29 November 2006

A miracle of modern medicine!

This bloke should have been sacked, IMO.

Copied from the BBC News website:

'Pregnant' man fined in SA court A South African man has been fined $140 for taking a week off work, telling his employers he was pregnant.

Charles Sibindana, 27, stole a certificate from a clinic during his pregnant girlfriend's checkup, a court near Johannesburg heard.

He then added his own details to the note and submitted it and took seven days off work, seemingly unaware that only women consult gynaecologists.

His employers became suspicious and investigated the matter.

On passing sentence Magistrate Bruno Van Eeden warned Mr Sibindana "not to walk around faking sick letters from gynaecologists" as if he was pregnant, the South African Press Association news agency reported.

26 November 2006

Boycott Walkabout

I don't go out drinking in Liverpool very often, seeing as it's a bit too far to stagger home. However, next time I go, I definitely won't be going to Walkabout in Concert Square because their dress code stinks.

The Liverpool Echo has reported that Walkabout refused entry to a group of Royal Marines who were in the area for the funeral of one of their comrades who was killed in Basra.

If this pub manager likes to judge people by the clothes they wear, then he should think about how these lads have been serving their country in the armed forces, whilst he's been sitting in his cosy little world. I bet he wouldn't allow bikers in either. Probably a good thing, it saves us from finding out how petty-minded he is. Wanker.

Printer installation woes

A little bit of help for people struggling to install the HP PSC 2510 Photosmart printer onto a wireless network.

Yesterday, I spent approximately seven hours trying to set a wireless connection between my dad's printer with his new computer. Every time I ran the installation program,it would get stuck in a loop and kept going back to the 'which type of connection do you require' screen. It was bloody annoying, so I decided to search the Internet. I was rather peeved to find that many people had had the same problem and no-one had posted a fix. Indeed, most people seemed to have given up and left it as a wired connection.

I tried the 'online help' chat thingy with a bloke from HP, and he did try very hard indeed, but even he was stumped, and then the damn connection dropped and 'Calvin' disappeared.
Anyway, in the end, I sussed it for myself, so here's how you do it.

First of all, this page is useful.
  1. Go to the HP website and download the latest installation software. The one on the CD supplied with dad's printer was way out of date.
  2. Go into the printer's networking menu using the keypad on the machine itself (setup >> networking) and then choose the option 'wireless radio', and set it to 'OFF'.
  3. Using the printer's setup menu, print out a network configuration report.
  4. Using your Internet browser, connect to your router using the gateway address. On the Belkin routers I use, it's 192.168.2.1 but if you use a router from another manufacturer, it'll probably be different. If you are on an ad-hoc network, it will show a channel number under your channel and SSID settings. Make a note of this number,and also of the IP addresses of any machines connected to the network, and the subnet mask.
  5. Connect your printer to your wireless router, using a CAT-5 ethernet cable. There should have been one supplied with the printer.
  6. Remove any wireless networking dongle from your PC, or disable your wireless card, as appropriate.
  7. Connect your computer to the router using another CAT-5 ethernet cable.
  8. Run the software installation program, selecting 'wireless network' at the appropriate place, entering the channel number when it asks for it. If you use WEP, you will also need to tell the printer the WEP key.
  9. Once the software is installed, remove the ethernet cables, reinstate your wireless dongle/card on the PC, go back into the printer setup menu and switch the 'wireless radio' back to 'ON' and get printing.

I hope this is of some use to someone out there, and saves them several hours of annoyance.

25 November 2006

Buy Nothing Day


Saturday November 25th 2006 is Buy Nothing Day (UK), It's a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!

This year the message is simple, shop less - live more! The challenge is to try simple living for a day, spend time with family and friends, rather than spend money on them.

Buy Nothing Day also exposes the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. The developed countries - only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth's natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and unfair distribution of wealth.

As consumers we need to question the products we buy and challenge the companies who produce them. What are the true risks to the environment and developing countries? The argument is infinite - while it continues we should be looking for simple solutions - Buy Nothing Day is a good place to start.

Of course, Buy Nothing Day isn't about changing your lifestyle for just one day - we want it to be a lasting relationship with you consumer conscience - maybe a life changing experience? We want people to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair. The supermarket or shopping mall might offer great choice, but this shouldn't be at the cost of the environment or developing countries.

Go and have a look at the website for more information.

Turkey and Tinsel Show !



Lost Weekend will be be playing at the Sportsman's Hotel in Halifax on Saturday 2 December. Entry is free and the band are due on stage at 9pm.

More info on the Lost Weekend website.

24 November 2006

A story to chill you to the bone

A nine month-old baby was severely scaulded when hot water pipes above her bedroom burst and sprayed her with almost-boiling water as she slept in her cot. Read the story here.

This sort of story makes me go cold. The family had only moved into their new home the day before and, if my own experience is anything to go by, they were probably very happy that they'd got their new place and could relax.

The little girl has suffered 85% burns and and is in intensive care. Doctors have said that it is still possible that she may die. My heart truly goes out to this family. The highest amount of compensation in the world cannot even begin to make this better.

23 November 2006

Muay Thai Fights

Ever wondered why there's never a copper around when you want one?

I know exactly why. This morning, I went to an inquest at the local Coroner's court. There were eight Police Officers in attendance. That's OK, they needed to be there.

However, the entire morning was wasted because a key witness couldn't be arsed to turn up (even though they'd said they would), so the eight coppers were sitting around for four hours, waiting for this dickhead to put in an appearance. In the meantime, several more Police Officers had to be sent off to try to find the aforementioned dickhead, only to discover he'd gone to the Lake District instead.

The hearing has had to be adjourned to another day now, so those eight coppers will have to turn up again and probably waste another morning. The Coroner was less than impressed too. I think that the missing witness is gonna get a serious bollocking over this.

So, don't blame the coppers, blame the idiots who think that their absence won't be noticed. As my old school teachers used to say, it's not just your time you're wasting, it's my time, and all these other peoples' time. Thanks a bloody bunch.

It's true, having babies makes you stupid

Honestly, how desperate is the Manchester Evening News for a real story? They've got a stupid article about how 12 women who all sat in the same chair on a supermarket checkout have had babies., so they are claiming that the chair has 'special powers'. One mum said "It was the last thing expected" Oh FFS! How thick do you have to be? If they don't know what's causing the babies by now, they need serious help. Get real!

Come on M.E.N., put some real stories in, please!

20 November 2006

Crüxshadows gig

Club Heresy is putting on a gig on 1 December, and for a measly £12 you get to see Crüxshadows and Trauma Pet. Bargain! Rumour has it that there's a bit of a party afterwards too...
The gig was originally scheduled to be at Edwards No. 8 in Birmingham, but some bugger burnt the place down, so it'll now be held at The Crew in Nuneaton. Not a venue I know, but what the hell, you go to see the bands, not the venue!

Buy a ticket and help keep Rob in schnapps :o)

Leave our Witchwood alone!

There is a shortage of good live music venues as it is, and the Witchwood is one of the best, so if 'Inventive Leisure' insist on selling it, I hope that the buyer is someone who cares about live music, and not some profiteering business person who wants to turn it into flats.

16 November 2006

Bad bogs

Beswick was asking about motorway service stations on his show this morning, and it led me to think about the one thing that really pisses me off, not just at service stations, but in any public place. Bad bogs.

You spend ages searching for a bog which has a working lock on the door, and then have to deal with loose or missing bog seats. Then you have to hunt for bog roll, or search your pockets for scraps of tissue. Then you try to flush it, but no matter how many times you punch the stupid plunger, it just won't co-operate. Some service stations have started using ones with a light sensor now, so you just waft your hand past it, and the bog will flush. These are great, unless you are wearing a hi-vis vest, like I do when I'm out on the bike sometimes. The hi-vis constantly triggers the flush which can be rather interesting when you're sat down.

And who designs the bloody cubicles? Do they not realise that when they make them so small that when you open the door it scrapes against the bog seat then it also means that you have nowhere to stand whilst you try to shut the door? I've taken to stepping up onto the bog so I can close the door. Perhaps that's why the seats are always broken... Then there's those nasty little sanitary waste bins. The cubicle is so narrow that the bin has to be rammed right up against the side of the bog, so that when you sit down, you have one thigh resting on the cold edge of the bin. It's not nice! Some places have started to use bins which are smaller in height that the bog, and that's great, but not many places have them yet.

OK, so why you've finally managed to use the bog and extricate yourself from the cubicle, without trapping your feet between the bog and the door, you have to negotiate the washing facilities. Whoever designs those stupid 'press to operate' taps, please have a rethink. You press the button and get a split second's worth of water and not enough time to get your hand from the top of the tap to the water flow, so you end up leaning on the tap with your arm whilst trying to contort your hands under the water. I understand that these taps are designed to prevent people from leaving the water running, but it would be nice to be able to get some water at all! If you're lucky, there will be someone else around to hold the button for you, whilst you wash your hands, and then you can return the favour.

Finally, there's those dreadful hand dryers which operate off a light sensor, so that you have to wave your hands around like an idiot to activate the damn things and then they switch off after 2 seconds so you end up doing a stupid John Cleese-style war dance to get the bloody thing to work. Bring back roller towels!

Designers of public bogs take note: Please make the cubicles a minimum of three feet wide and six feet long. It is better to have fewer, usable cubicles than to squash in as many as you can and make them damned awkward and uncomfortable to use. Sanitary waste bins are not nice to sit upon, please bear this in mind. Make sure the flushing mechanism is heavy-duty and actually works. This is a public bog, not a home one, and it will get a lot of use, so it needs to be up to the job. Please provide at least one cubicle which has a sink in the cubicle. Sometimes, one needs to wash things which one would prefer not to display in public.

10 November 2006

Just how shit is Orange Broadband?

Well, after making numerous complaints to Orange and having them ignore every single one, I took drastic action. I rang and obtained the MAC in order to transfer to another provider, and told them exactly why I was changing. After further complaints with no acknowledgement I thought 'Right, you buggers, I'm going to get your attention one way or another', so I cancelled the Direct Debit. Funnily enough, they rang me the very next day. Strange, that, innit?

Anyway, the girl was very nice, listened to all my complaints and said that as a gesture of goodwill, they would give us a free month's broadband. Great! or so I thought. Five days later, they cut us off. I have given up complaining now, because I am aware that Orange are completely and utterly useless and deserve to lose every bit of business they have. I hope they fold.

In the meantime, my new Internet connection should be sorted by Monday 20 November, so my apologies to anyone who e-mails me over the weekends because I won't be able to respond until I get back to work.

Vote for Mark Thomas!

Nominations are being taken for the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Awards 2006.

I could write you a 5000 word essay on why you should vote for Mark Thomas, but I really don't have time right now. So please, take my word for it that he really does deserve an award.

So go on, vote for Mark Thomas, you know it's right! Vote here.

27 October 2006

Faith School Fiasco

The BBC has reported that the Government has denied a 'climb down' over the faith school issue. Basically, the Government wanted all Faith Schools to be obliged to give up to 25% of their school places to children who did not subscribe to the designated faith of that school.

What I'd like to know is why people think that the state should fund faith schools anyway, either in whole or in part. If people want their children brought up in a particular faith, that's the job of the parents, not the state. Yes, by all means teach children about the basic precepts of each faith and the differences and similarities between faiths, so that they can learn about respect and tolerance for others, but the state should not be expected to fund their religious indoctrination.

If you want your child to go to a faith-specific school, then fine, pay for them to go to one. Otherwise, send them to a state school and let them get on with the National Curriculum, and teach them about their own faith (on in most cases the faith their parents have chosen for them, seeing as kids usually have no say in the matter) at home or at evening/weekend classes.

Many of my Muslim friends send their children to state schools and then to additional lessons at the local
Madrasah. Many of my Christian friends send their children to Sunday School at the local Church. That's their choice and I respect them for it.

Show Us Yer Ghoulies!



This weekend, I shall mostly be getting blown over and rained on in a field. Probably.

I'm off to the
Brickies Hallowe'en Rally to get disgracefully pissed. Again.

Intolerance of intolerance

Paul Routledge has got this spot on:

"TOLERANCE, the openmindedness that we show to each other, is what makes British society tick. "Live and let live" could easily be the nation's motto.

"That is the spirit in which I approach the row over Muslim veils, multiculturalism, integration, and all the other long words used about living together.

"Aishah Azmi, the Muslim teaching assistant suspended for refusing to take off her veil in her Dewsbury classroom has done us all a favour - by forcing us to confront the real issues.

"Kirklees Council says she cannot do her job properly. Mrs Azmi says she is the victim of religious discrimination.

"I do not envy the Employment Tribunal members who had to rule which of the two is right, but they would have done well to consider the words of philosopher Karl Popper, who wrote The Open Society And Its Enemies.

"He said: "We should claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant."
"To my mind, it is intolerant to refuse to show your face to children. And we should not tolerate this intolerance. "

26 October 2006

Supergran



OK, it's not that one. But it is about knitting. Innocent are trying to raise money for Age Concern by getting people to knit cute little hats for their drinks bottles. Yes, really.

So if you can knit, and you have some spare wool and time, why not give it a bash. I can't knit; I've tried and I was crap at it. I did, however, manage to make a pretty good Dr. Who scarf on mum's knitting machine. I never did wear it, I was too embarrassed.

Let's start again, shall we?

Those closest to me will know that I've been having a pretty shitty time really, workwise. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but there's just so much work to do at the moment that I'm getting really stressed out trying to wade through this mountain of paper. I can't even dole it out to someone else, because by the time I've sorted out the stuff to give them, I could have done it!

Anyway, the lads in the office next door have started a petition to cancel 2006 and start again. I think that's a damn fine idea, and I've said I'll happily put my name to it.

Bigger beer?

I had a little chat with my pal Martin today. Martin is the Shop Steward at our local Sainsbury's. I told him it might be a good idea if he were to ask for the replacement of the sign in the beer aisle before they are prosecuted under the trade descriptions act, purporting to sell 'Beer and Larger'.

20 October 2006

The Masterplan

Oasis's 'The Masterplan' is just about the best video I have ever seen. If it doesn't win awards, I'll eat my monitor.

Oh yeah, but it only works in Internet Explorer :o(

19 October 2006

Tarland Mad House Blog

I've been peeking at this blog for a few months now and there are some stunning photos on it. Go and have a look. There's more photos from the same folk here.

18 October 2006

Why???

Who on earth comes up with this shit? (GROSS WARNING!)

Orange Problems



Seems like the snowball is gathering momentum. I just found this site: Orange Problems.

Hmmm, I think I might do a bit of reading.

Orange: the future is even dimmer

Smurf made a very good point this morning. Orange advertises its broadband service as 'always on', when clearly it isn't. Is this a breach of contract?

I bet they have a line in their terms and conditions which says that equipment failure doesn't count.

Orange sent out a mass e-mail yesterday apologising for the outages. Smurf sent a very snotty reply telling them that their service has been shit since they took over from Wanadoo and their customer service is appalling. He also pointed out that they still haven't replied to his complaint from several weeks ago. I wonder if they'll bother to reply to this one?

17 October 2006

From one ranter to another


Don't you just hate it when you go and see something so good, that when you try to recall it to tell someone else, your mind just goes blank? I've got that problem right now.

I saw Mark Thomas at Bolton Octagon Theatre tonight. He's as funny as fuck, but he also makes some very serious points.

I loved his tale of how his mate Sian presented an application for a licence to protest outside Parliament to the Police by icing it onto a huge cake. "Well the law doesn't say it has to be on paper!" I think that the copper who deals with all of Mark's protest applications deserves a medal too. He sounds like he has managed to combine a sense of humour with the patience of a saint. Congratulations to Mark, though for getting into the Guinness Book of Records for the most number of demonstrations (I think).

Mark made some very astute comments about my MP, Ruth Kelly, too. Mark, you were absolutely spot on, but you forgot to mention that she had her personality and sense of humour surgically removed at birth.

Anyway, I'm not going to tell you what he said, cos I really think that you should go and see him for yourself. Trust me, you won't regret it. His tour dates are on his website.

Oh yeah, and read this too. It's all about dodgy arms deals, and makes very interesting reading.

See, I was right!

Remember this rant about how shit my Orange broadband service is? Well, it seems that I'm not the only one.

The BBC Technology website has reported that Orange has a major outage at the moment, and you should read some of the comments from readers. I have, of course, added mine, but I don't know if the moderators will let them through - they're a bit caustic.

12 October 2006

and speaking of saving lives

Some people are just too modest. Big clap on the back for Oz, for preventing a death by drowning yesterday.

Well done mate :o)

The 10 Commandments of Dialling 999

Have you ever watched TV dramas, where someone dials 999 and shouts "We need an ambulance, now! High Street!" and then hangs up? Annoying, isn't it?

Have you ever stopped to consider how many 'High Streets' there are in the UK? How the hell is the call-taker supposed to know where you are? OK, if you ring from a landline, they can trace the location, but if it's a mobile phone, the patient will probably be dead before they figure out where you are. How is the call taker supposed to know what's wrong with the patient? Is it a broken leg, or a severed jugular with claret pumping all over the place?

That jolly nice chap, Mark Myers, over at the Nee Naw Blog has come up with ten commandments for people ringing the emergency services, and I strongly suggest that you read, digest and attempt to remember them. It might just save someone's life.

11 October 2006

Bikers take note

OK, the summer months are over now, and people are dressing more appropriately to the weather. But what will you do next summer? Discard your leathers and pull on your jeans? Forget the leather jacket, surely a denim or a sweatshirt will do?

Or will it?

Read this, enlarge the photos, and have a damn serious think about why bikers wear leathers.

People have taken the piss out of me for wearing leathers on even the hottest of summer days. I bet this lass won't.

10 October 2006

I must be mad

I just worked out that I do more than 300 hours of unpaid overtime each year.

"Ay! Boss! A word...!

09 October 2006

Amir on the way out already?

I thought that people wrote autobiographies when they had actually had a life to write about. However, nineteen year-old Amir Khan has written his already. Does this mean he thinks it's all over, already?

Don't get me wrong, Amir Khan has made some wonderful achievements in his short boxing career, and I'm dead chuffed for the lad, but surely there's a lot more to come?

The postman always knocks twice...

Unless he's my postman, that is.

I've been sat in my office since 8am. The post arrived at 11:00am; I heard it drop through the letterbox, along with a little red card saying"Sorry you were out" and notifying me that there is a parcel which has to be signed for, but I have to wait 48 hours before I can go and collect it.

So why the hell didn't the postie trying knocking on the door, or ringing the bell? Stupid idiot.

It's even more annoying because I know what the parcel is, and I know that it says "No Signature Required" in huge blue letters on the front, but the people who sent it to me will have attached a 'Special Delivery Sticker' on the front, which does require the postie to ask for a signature.

So who's more stupid, the people who sent it, or the postie who can't be bothered to knock?

06 October 2006

No safe place to hide...

Local residents are protesting about plans to build a womens' refuge in Farnworth. This Story has made me rather angry, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I thought that the whole point of a refuge is that it is a safe place for people to go. The location of the refuge has to be kept secret, in order to protect the residents. Surely, by broadcasting the proposed location of a new refuge, the protestors have already defeated the primary purpose of that refuge and another location would need to be chosen. If the development were to go ahead, the protesters have potentially put those in need at further risk.

How did they find out about the proposed use? I suppose our stupid planning laws meant that the Council was obliged to write to everyone and tell them.

Secondly, do these people not realise how desperate some people have to be before they take that massive step of deciding to seek help?

I hope that all of those people who are protesting never find themselves in need of such a refuge. How horrible it would be, to be fleeing a situation, perhaps in fear of your life, only to be told "Sorry love, there's no refuges because the neighbours didn't want your sort there."

05 October 2006

Colouring in

Otter has been exploring his creative side and has kindly coloured in our new Tory logo. I wonder if he clocked Chris and me singing The Red Flag outside the marquee the other weekend; the marquee inside which the local Conservative Party meeting was in progress ...


04 October 2006

The light at the end of the tunnel...

has been switched off until further notice.

My boss has announced he intends to retire, which means that when he goes, I'm redundant.

In the meantime, my colleague is leaving on Friday and although I'd never tell her this to her face, she's been a bloody good friend and I'm gonna miss her. She's good at her job and I have a suspicion that everything is going to fall apart, probably on Monday morning.

I've got over 100 job applications to wade through to select a replacement. About 80 of those applicants are wholly unsuitable :o(

Oh yeah, and I've just sent out 5 letters calling people to interview for the position of part-time assistant - to me! I hope none of them read this blog, cos they'll be too scared to come!

01 October 2006

More on The Hamster

I never thought I'd ever pay Clarkson a compliment, but his article in The Sun is a bloody cracker. Fair play to the man.

28 September 2006

A few lessons in life

Whether or not it is true that Bill Gates said the following, is doubtful However, they are damn good point about how feel-good,politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

  1. Life is not fair - get used to it!
  2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  3. You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
  4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
  6. If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
  10. Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

New Tory Logo

I thought that Beau Bo D'or's new Tory logo was good, but Smurf has come up with another one which I think is better. Sadly, I don't have a colour scanner, but hey, you get the idea.

27 September 2006

Trout Pout

Oh Mikey! You are so cruel, and yet so right: the new face of Nivea Lip Care

25 September 2006

Social Exclusion

The Labour Party is hosting an evening reception at the Party Conference in Manchester, and have very kindly invited the staff who work for Labour MPs.

However, the reception is within the security cordon, which means that all those hard-working constituency staff who are still slaving away in their offices whilst their bosses are listening to the drivel from the dais, are not able to go because they don't have conference passes.

Gee, thanks.

Bitter? Me? Why yes, I am, funnily enough. Once again, those who actually do the work are excluded, or perhaps it's just another money-saving exercise - invite people who can't actually get near the venue and save a fortune on nibbles.

Have a nice time, without us, and don't spend too much time wondering why your workers are so disaffected. If you haven't figured it out by now, you never will.

Heart in Mouth

This morning, as I was driving to work, I heard a police car coming up behind me. The whole queue of traffic pulled over to the left to let the vehicle through and I was pleasantly surprised to see the message 'Thank You' being flashed on the LED screen in the rear windscreen. 'Nice touch' I thought.

A few moments later, a car stopped about four cars in front of me, indicating to turn right. I glanced in my mirror and saw a bike coming up the outside of the traffic and he didn't appear to be slowing down. The car turned right, the bike slammed on, I held my breath and was relieved when the bike did actually manage to stop under control, about 2 feet away from the car.

Observation. It's a very useful technique, better used well in advance...

21 September 2006

No shit!

A certain large organisation has written to my boss, to express their concerns about a funding defecate of £1.4m.

For that price, my friends and I will be more than happy to supply!

I wonder if we should tell them to stop using 'autocorrect' on their wordprocessor? It took me about two hours to stop laughing.

Flying hamster

Get well soon Richard, your fans are missing you already.

not such a smart move

OK, I admit it. A tube of smarties (or these days, a hexatube, since they ditched the tube last year), doesn't last very long in my hands, and I'm not averse to eating more than one packet at a time. However, now that Nestlé have decided to switch production from York to Hamburg, I have decided to stop buying them. My little boycott may not make much difference in the grand scale of things, but I think it's another great loss to UK industry.

Nestlé is a Swiss company which bought out Rowntree's of York in 1988, so what did we expect? It's about time that UK employment law was tightened up to the same levels as it is in Europe, and make it more difficult for these foreign companies to come in, buy out and make our workers redundant.

20 September 2006

the state of the country

The Extra Special PC has hit the nail right on the head with this one. Work hard, get nowt. Skive hard, get everything.

19 September 2006

An ode to Steve Irwin

A bright & brash Australian,
the Hunter was his name.
All those slimy reptiles
brought him wealth and fame.

Some say he was a looker,
to girls he was a dish.
He knew everything about Crocodiles,
but fuck all about fish!

Back to Skool

OK, so most places have stopped mis-spelling 'school' now, after numerous complaints. However, one wonders who this promotion was aimed at, the teachers, or the kids (seeing as 1 in 4 apparently hit the bottle).

Thanks to Kurt for this one :o)

Yaaaaarrrggghhhh!



'tis Talk Like a Pirate Day!





Lost Weekend at Z-Rock Fest

Get yer arses down to Dudley on Sunday for the Z-Rock Fest and have a listen to Lost Weekend. Or else. Besides, you can get a copy of their new album 'Forever Moving On', which promises to be another good 'un.

best news website yet

OK, I thought that the Burning Times was fantastic, but I've found an even better one. Newsbiscuit! Woo hoo!

stolen bike alert

Red and black Ducati Monster Mob (very rare in the UK)
Reg number : HF 04 LKY
VIN number : ZDMH500AD4B007370
Stolen from Tyldesley, nr. Atherton, Greater Manchester at 2pm on Wednesday 13 September 2006

Any info, please contact wizardslair7@hotmail.com




18 September 2006

Scuba-diving cat

Cashpoint cripples

The cashpoint at most supermarkets is usually less than 20 yards away from normal parking bays, and yet some people are so lazy and bone-idle that they can't be bothered to park up in a bay and walk for the extra five seconds to get to the machine. Instead, they park up on double-yellow lines, or in bays marked for use by disabled people and seem to be oblivious to the havoc they can cause.

Get off your fat arses and walk the extra few yards, and leave the disabled bays for people who really need them.

15 September 2006

incontinence

Smurf's GT had a bit of an accident in the night and pissed petrol all over the garage floor; it would appear that the breather in the fuel cap was blocked. It stinks. Anyway, he's swept out as much as he can and put the offending machine in the garden to think about what it's done.

14 September 2006

more BB woes

Oh what a fucking surprise! My broadband connection has been down again, all evening apparently. Not that I'd know if I hadn't been told, seeing as I've just worked 13 hours without a break.

I wonder what their excuse is this time? Oh, sorry, Orange don't give excuses, do they? Just platitudes and just lies, then tell you they're fixing it.

Now that it's back on, it's slower than dialup.

addendum

Orange's 'contact us' page is shite too, it's not compatible with Firefox. Magnifying glass, anyone?

The future's not so bright...

I am utterly fed up with my current broadband provider. Yes, Orange, that's you. Ever since Orange took over from Wanadoo, the service has been terrible. There have been several outages, lasting hours and even days at a time with no explanation or so much as a 'by your leave'. When you ring the service status line, they tell you everything is hunky dory, so you ring the helpline, get kept on hold for over half an hour and then speak to some pre-programmed robot who reads from a script which says:

"I'm sorry, we are aware that some customers are experiencing problems, but we are working hard to fix it."

If I hear that line one more time, I shall scream. I asked the last one "when will it be fixed" and was told "soon, probably". It was out for two days.

I'm fed up of them saying 'sorry' too. I don't give a flying fk how sorry they are, I want it fixed and I want it to stop collapsing on me every time I have a bloody deadline to meet.

I don't just use the Internet for leisure purposes, I need it for my work too, and it really is unacceptable. I'm paying £28 a month for a shite service, which is flaky at the best of times. I have a little network of friends now, all using Orange, and we text each other each time we can't connect, to make sure it is Orange's fault and not ours. One friend has been unable to gain access for two weeks and Orange refuse to talk to her because the account is in her boyfriend's name, even though he has given them authority to deal with her and she pays the damn bill.

Orange seriously needs to get its act together.

In the meantime, I am investigating other ISPs. So if anyone has any recommendations, please do let me know. I don't want e-mail addresses, I don't want a free modem (I've got three already, thanks), I don't want free webspace or flashy add-ons, anti-spam or anti-virus software.

All I want to do it connect to the Internet on a reliable service with no download limits. Is that too much to ask for?

Ban on skinny models

Well done, the organisers of Madrid's Fashion Week, for banning overly-skinny models from appearing on the catwalk.

It's about time that the fashion world realised that in the real world, most women don't look like anorexic stick-insects.

As for the comment that the ban is discriminating against the model and the freedom of the designer - get a life. If the model can't get a job as a clothes horse, she could get one as a xylophone instead, and if a designer can't design something for someone with a bit of meat, they should realise that they are crap and get a different job too.

11 September 2006

red means STOP

Another Constable has declared war on cyclists who think that traffic lights don't apply to them. Exellent! Perhaps all the other coppers could do the same. I, for one, am very pissed off with cyclists who just barrel on through red lights and then glare at any driver who happens to be trying to cross their path.

Well done, AC, more power to your elbow!

10 September 2006

oh poo!

We were having a lovely time at the Autumn M'NABD'ness rally at Cornbury Park. The sun was shining, the beer was flowing and the company was fantastic. We had to leave on Saturday afternoon to get home for Spike's mum's 60th birthday party, so we packed up, got on the bike and managed just over a mile before disaster struck. My throttle cable had snapped.

So there we were, at the side of the road, scratching our heads, when the lovely Bonehead happened to pass by, saw us and came back to ask if he could help. He then zoomed off to the site for backup. Ten minutes later, my knights in shining armour (well, in a white van anyway), Bob and Chris arrived, loaded the bike into the back of the van and took us back to the site.

It was clear that the cable wasn't broken at the handlebar end, so we took off the tank to get a better look at the other end, but that was intact too. It was then that Smurf came along, had a poke here and a pull there, and pulled out about a foot of cable from the sleeve. It hadn't just snapped, it was completely knackered. It was rusted and falling apart in several places. Not bad for only 2 years old :o( Anyway, Eddie and Smurf had a good look and decided that the only way to get a new cable on would be to drop the carbs. Not a job I really wanted to carry out with few tools and in the middle of a field so, for the first time in my life, I rang for the nice man in the big truck with the flashing lights. He really was a nice man too. Kevin the recovery bloke explained to me how he was going to put the bike on the back of the trailer whilst I watched anxiously as he winched my pride and joy up the ramp, and we were soon on our way. When we got back to Spike's we realised that there was no way that the truck would get up his street, so he dropped off the bike at the end of the road, and I fired it up on choke and used the choke as a throttle to get it up the back street to the garage, when it now sits, all lonely and forlorn.

I've tried ringing a few places today, but there are no Kawasaki dealers in Coventry, apparently, and not many other places are open on a Sunday. I may have to put an emergency cable kit on it to get me home and then go to a dealer nearer home. It may even come to using a bit of string yet. Oh what fun I have. I think it might be a good idea to replace the return cable at the same time, given the state that this one was in. It would save having to drop the carbs twice.

Big thanks to everyone who tried to help, though. Bonehead, you are, as always, a star :o)

05 September 2006

knackered

OK, I know I've not blogged for ages. It's cos I'm too bloody busy and too knackered, so sorry but I'll get round to posting something constructive soon.

25 August 2006

experiments in the kitchen

I decided to try summat new tonight, and made kung-po pork with noodles. It was bloody lovely, but about ten minutes later, my tongue was on fire, so I put it out with some Shahi Kulfi.

I think I'll put a bog roll in the freezer, just in case.

23 August 2006

Quotation of the day

"Only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realise that we cannot eat money."

18 August 2006

17 August 2006

The worst mother in the world?

31 year-old Emma Kelly has been sent to jail for getting her nine year-old son hooked on heroin and crack cocaine.

What sort of a sick, twisted person could do that to their own child? In my opinion she isn't fit to be a mother and when she does eventually get out of prison, she should never, ever be allowed to work with or have unsupervised access to children. I wonder what the other women will think of her, in the jail she ends up in?

15 August 2006

Get well soon, Chi

Poor Chi, Bolton Mountain Rescue Team's rescue dog, has had a bit of a mishap with a strimmer and has a very poorly leg.

Get well soon, Chi, and they'll have you chasing cans again soon :o)

Oh yeah, and whilst you're looking at their website, remember that the Mountain Rescue Team is funded entirely from donations, so you might want to bung a few quid their way to support the excellent work that they do, supporting the other emergency services who get proper Government funding.

14 August 2006

Blood, Sweat and Tea

Come on folks, only a few hours left before this rare tome, signed by the author, goes under the hammer.

It's all in the name of charity, folks, and it'll be a damn good read too!

07 August 2006

Bushmoot

I wrote this ages ago, intending to give the full story of the Bushmoot, but I never had time to finish it, so I thought 'stuff it', and I'll just post what I've got so far. I might even finish it one day.

On Thursday 27 July, Mad Dave, Spike and I rode to South Wales in order to attend the Bushmoot - a five-day
bushcraft event. Somewhere near Swindon, Spike's ratty old Honda decided to eject its clutch cable and adjuster, forcing him to crash the gearbox until we could get out of the roadworks and onto a side road. Although he was carrying an emergency cable kit, it took over an hour to get it fixed because the bike was just too damn hot to touch. I rang the campsite to warn them that we were going to be arriving somewhat later than we expected.



When we eventually got to the
Acorn campsite, at Llantwit Major, the site owners couldn't have been more helpful. It was nearly 9pm, but they'd reserved us a really nice pitch, and then told us that although the pubs would have stopped serving food, the local Chinese were more than happy to deliver to the site. So we ordered a six-course banquet, and jolly nice it was too. That night, Dave slept like the dead, in the porch of the tent. Spike couldn't sleep and kept me awake too, so in the end he got up to make a brew. Despite walking over Dave three or four times, he didn't stir at all. Sometimes I wish I could sleep like that.

The following day, we managed to get about five miles when Dave came hareing up behind me, indicating that I should pull over. Spike's bike had broken again. This time, however, it wasn't the clutch cable - it was the engine, and it was really broken. It appeared to have thrown a valve. We decided that Dave and I would continue to the Bushmoot site at Merthyr Mawr, offload the gear and go back for Spike's stuff. When I was on the way back to Spike, I had a flash of inspiration.
Para cord! What self-respecting bushcrafter would be without it? We braided a 50 metre length of cord down to about 15 metres, and then I towed Spike the remaining 2 miles to the site. No problemo :o) Sadly, when we got to the site, I stalled the Kwak whilst trying to get up the hill and after two more failed attempts, I decided I didn't want to burn out my clutch and told Spike he'd have to push the bike. A nice chap in a Volvo (yes, a Volvo!) offered to tow him, but it went wrong and Spike dropped the bike, so the lovely Scruff helped him to push it to where Dave had started to set up our camp. Spike and Dave were in hammocks, I had my nice big tent and airbed. OK, so I'm a softie, but I didn't have the dosh to buy a hammock and made do with what I already had. Nice, comfy airbed...


We were joined at our camp by two nice young chaps called Rob and Alex, who brought one small tent and a hammock, and they swapped over each night. Soon after, Nick arrived on his trusty BMW and slung up his hammock about 20 yards away and then came over for a chat. There wasn't any designated camping area, everyone just found a nice tree or a bit of flat ground and set up there.

The first evening was spent meeting up with our fellow Bushmooters and generally socialising. We met
Mors Kochanski, who had come all the way from Canada, just for us! He started an impromptu workshop on shelter-building and kept us entertained for quite some time. He really is a fascinating, knowledgable and friendly bloke, and I felt quite priviledged to meet him.



At some point, we were summoned to the hut by the sounding of a large metal
triangle, and it was only then that I realised that there was a hell of a lot of us in attendance. We were told that the triangle would be sounded each morning, to call us to the hut to listen to the notices and find out what workshops would be running each day.

I slept like a log on Friday night but I still felt tired on Saturday morning, and was rather dismayed, when the triangle sounded, to find it was already 10am. We hauled ourselves over to the hut and had a look at what was on offer. We decided to have a go at the 'fire by friction' workshop in the morning, and the knife-making demonstration in the afternoon.

The fire-by-friction workshop was really interesting. We learned about various fire-lighting techniques, including using fire-steels, flint and (gasp) matches! Then we moved on to the best types of punk and kindling to get an ember going, and then finally moved on to constructing and using bow-drills. Whilst I didn't have any trouble in making my bow-drill, I did have trouble in using it, because I found kneeling down just too painful for my knackered knees. I think I'll stick to my fire-steel.



On Saturday afternoon, we went off to the knife-making workshop. Although Stuart was very informative, I never realised just how long it takes to make a knife by hand and after three hours, the audience was wilting somewhat. Stuart realised that it was dragging on and called it to a halt, saying that he'd finish it off the following day, for those who were interested. I felt a bit guilty because I kept yawning. It wasn't because of the subject matter, it was because Thursday's sleepless night was catching up with me and I just wanted to crawl into my sleeping bag and fall into a coma.



Saturday evening, there was a new arrival to our little camp, in the form of Cap'n Badger. He took one look at us and the bikes and decided that was the place for him. It was soon after that, that our area became known as 'the naughty corner'. I can't think for a minute why...



On Sunday morning, Dave went off flint-knapping whilst Spike and I opted for the trapping workshop, and I nearly melted whilst watching the demonstration. I felt really ill because of the heat and I sought refuge under a tree for a while, but I still managed to make my trap support and trigger :) I was quite chuffed with the end result, but we weren't allowed to leave them set up, so no bunny for tea that night.





On Sunday afternoon, whilst Dave was still knapping away, Spike and I went to the knife-sharpening workshop. I suppose I had to go, really, since it was me who asked for it... I certainly learned a lot from the workshop, and I know I can now sharpen my knife well - cos I promptly cut myself on it, but at least it was a nice clean cut and healed very quickly.

Sunday evening was spent around the fire, singing and talking bollocks - just what I'm good at!
On Monday morning, we all mucked in to help construct the
hangi. Dave helped to collect rocks, whilst Spike and I chopped logs. I'd never used an axe before and got a bit pissed off with a few unhelpful folk (Spike) who kept telling me I was doing it wrong. Then a couple of nice cha.ps came over and showed me how to do it properly, rather than just criticising, and I was soon chopping away merrily. I think Spike had the right idea by getting out of my way, cos I was on a mission.

Once the hangi was lit, Dave, Spike Cap'n Badger and I decided to go for a walk to the beach. Walking over the sand dunes was really hard work and it was only a matter of minutes before my calf muscles were screaming for mercy. Once we made it to the river, the going was much flatter and easier. Spike and Badger stopped to skim pebbles for a while, and insisted on having their photo taken with a decapitated Father Christmas, and then we set off again towards the beach. There was a shocking amount of litter which had washed up with the flotsam and jetsam, including sharps and other nasty objects, and it did dampen our spirits a little. However, they were soon lifted when we got to the beach, and I got my little kite out. It was the first time I'd flown it, so I was rather annoyed that the line appeared to have been cut into one foot lengths, but Spike donated a hand-fishing line and my little kite was soon fluttering away above my head. Not to be outdone, Badger found a broken kite abandoned on the sand, repaired it and then got it flying nicely.



The walk back to the forest was worse than the walk out there. Spike kept collecting rabbit skulls, and I developed huge blisters on each heel, which are not fully healed now, over a month later, and I when I got back to my tent, all I wanted to do was lie down and take the weight off my poor feet. However, I thought it would be a good idea to make some food, as we were getting very hungry by then, and the hangi was showing no signs of being ready. When the call to the hangi was eventually heard, people came scrurrying out of the forest like ants. Despite my valiant efforts, I completely failed to get anything at all; it was all gone in seconds. I was glad I'd decided to cook beforehand.



The remainder of Monday night was spent sword-fighting wih Badgers rather impressive weapons, chatting, singing, talking more bollocks, finishing off whatever alcohol we had left and then we went to bed and passed out.



Tuesday morning was somewhat strange. I really didn't want to leave the forest and I'd have quite happily stayed a few more days. We said our goodbyes to all the new friends we'd made, and I was particularly touched that Alex had carved me a spoon, as a thankyou for feeding him and Rob with my endless supply of bacon butties (cooked on our ace campfire) and biscuits. The spoon is now hanging on my wall to remind me of the fantastic time we had there.



We took our time striking camp, and Dave set off home, whilst Spike telephoned for the big truck with the orange flashing lights. The big truck arrived soon after he'd called, and the driver kindly offered to take my heavy luggage, so I set off home. Unfortunately, I made two major cockups on the way back. First of all, not having a map, I took just about the longest route possible to get back to the M5, and then I missed my turning off the M5 and ended up going 40 more miles out of my way, which meant that Spike actually got home 10 minutes before I did. Shame that I had his housekeys, like. Good job it wasn't raining, cos he was sat outside waiting for me.

We got in the house, ate, showered and then fell asleep. Dunno about him, but I slept like a bloody log.


A huge thank-you to Tony and all the others from Bushcraft UK who worked really hard to make sure that everything went right. We had a bloody fine time and can't wait for the next one.

Broke it!

My office PC decided that I was working it too hard, and this morning, without so much as a 'by your leave', it went pop, leaving just a blank screen and a funny smell.

Anyway, I rang our IT helpdesk in London and explained that the power supply unit had given up the ghost, and the helpful chappie there said he would arrange for a new machine to be brought to me. Whilst he was still on the phone to me, giving me a call reference, my mobile rang. It was the engineer asking what time my office was open in the morning so they could drop off the new machine. How good is that, eh? I'm well impressed. Well done PICT!

a good reason to boycott Selfridges?

Apparently, in response to 'high demand from customers', Selfridges have decided to launch their Christmas range this week.

High demand? Yeah right, what a load of tosh. Well, I won't be going in there, that's for sure. I don't even celebrate Christmas, so why the hell should I have it rammed down my throat in the shops? It's August, for Pete's sake! Christmas is still 140 days away. That's 21 weeks. Almost 5 month.

Selfridges, you are pathetic if you think we believe your excuse for pushing this cynical marketing ploy upon us.

03 August 2006

if Cooldrums can do it, then so can I !

OK, so I was jealous. So I went and bought myself a new camera. I'm still learning how to use it, but I like it already. It's a Pentax ist DL2, digital SLR.

So, here's one for starters:

27 July 2006

Look out for smoke signals

OK, today I am setting off on what sounds like it's going to be a great break away from the rat race. I'm off to the wild jungles of South Wales, to learn all about Bushcraft.

This will include forging knives, flintknapping, long bow making, deadfalls and snares, shelter building, knots, cordage, fire by friction with bowdrill and handrill, bamboo workshop, plant walk, tracking and making hobo stoves/reflector ovens.

It sounds great doesn't it. In reality, I suspect I'm gonna starve to death. If I'm not back by Wednesday, please arrange for a parcel-drop of wine and chocolate, and a consignment of aromatic crispy duck with spring onions, cucumber and pancakes. TVM.

Now, has anyone got any Kendal Mint Cake? Brandy?

Getting a buzz












The TotalRock newsletter is a wonderful source of information. This morning's missive includes this gem:

A LETTER FROM ANTIPRODUCT

"The Members of AntiProduct, on their recent return from recording and networking with the Rich and Powerful in Los Angeles, were stopped on their arrival into Heathrow Int'l Airport by Customs Agents in the 'Nothing To Declare' lane. What the band had failed to mention in their arrival documents were the 600 red and black striped Jungle Rocket vibrators they were carrying in their suitcases, courtesy of their good friends at www.goodvibes.com, sponsors of the First Official Masturbate-a-thon in London on August 5, promoting Safe Sex. The airport all but came to a standstill when the customs dude got to suitcase number three with all the vibrators in it, like in that Western when the bad guys ride into town. It took all of singer A. Product's Chicago bullshitting skills to talk the band's way outta the mess. But more than that, the looks on the tourists passing us by were priceless, with all these vibrators and their attachments spilling like little hand grenades. One Japanese couple actually threw themselves on the floor, screaming! Using the desperate ploy of telling the absolute truth, the band were eventually able to make clear that the vibrators are part of a upcoming promotional campaign , heralding the release of the AntiProduct's version of the Beach Boys' classic 'Good Vibrations', and not the weaponry of terrorism either through violence or the sale of black market sex toys. After the band's release it was reported that several of the vibrators had gone walkies, and one female and two male Customs Agents were seen with knowing grins!"

For similar wonderful stories, why not sign up to the TotalRock newsletter yourself? You can listen to the station live on the Internet too, which is great for me, cos most of the 'terrestrial' radio is pish. At least this station plays proper music, ands knows that Kylie does not come under the banner of 'rock'!

26 July 2006

Hot weather makes people stupid

I've just had a brief walk round Bolton town centre and seen a few things that made me wonder just how stupid/weird people can be. I was only out 15 mins! Oh yeah, and it's 30 degrees, so most people are wearing shorts and t-shirts. So here's what I saw:
  1. a teenage girl wearing furry boots and a furry anorak
  2. an old man wearing a dufflecoat and trilby
  3. an emaciated woman walking round in flip flops and a grey satin slip which barely covered her assets (or lack thereof), and smoking a cigar
  4. a chav bloke yelling at a crying baby to try to make it shut up. FFS! It's 30 degrees out there, take the fkin duvet off the kid! No wonder it was crying, I think I'd be crying too.

Sometimes, I despair :o(

24 July 2006

A grand day out

On Sunday, Spike and I went to the Black Country Living Museum near Dudley. We had a fantastic day, and I only wish that we'd gone for 10am, when it opened, instead of leaving it until noon.

I can highly recommend the BCLM as a great day out for young and old. The staff were really friendly and helpful and the site is pretty much disabled friendly. There is some rough ground and a few steps, but they have portable ramps which they'll go and get for you. They'll even provide wheelchairs for those who may not be able to walk so far.

There is a lot of walking involved, but there are trolley buses which travel up and down the site all day.




There were three bits of the site we didn't get to see; the Oliver Shop, which was closed whilst they were working on it, the cinema, because it was just too bloody hot in there, and the Canal Tunnel Trip. At first, I thought that £4.25 was a bit steep, but then I found out that the trip lasts more than three quarters of an hour, so I reckon it's damn good value for money. I intend to go back and do the Canal Tunnel Trip again. I think you can do the trip in isolation from the rest of the museum.

So, which bits did I enjoy the most? Well, I think the coal mine has to come top of my list. We were given hard hats and purposely-dim torches and then guided underground into the pitch blackness. The roof was very low in some places, so a lot of ducking was required, but it really did bring it home to me what appalling conditions the miners worked in. The tour guide was very knowledgeable, having worked at a colliery himself, albeit above ground.

Return of the Village People

The guide who took us around the Anchor Forge and Rolling Mill will never forgive me if I don't give a mention to his hero, Henry Cort, who was the inventor of the steel rolling mill. The rolling mill at the museum is a bit rusty because, obviously it's not in use, but the guide did explain quite comprehensively how it worked.

The Anchor Forge was pretty impressive too. Just look at the size of the anchors! I wouldn't like to have one of those dropped on me toe!



I think Spike was particularly fascinated with the Trap Shop - a small factory dedicated to the production of animal traps. The factory closed down overnight when trapping was made illegal.

The guide at Pitt's Cott was a cracking bloke. He seemed to have an unlimited store of knowledge which he was willing to share with all-comers. I felt quite sorry for him because the range was lit and the cott was stiflingly hot, but he didn't actually seem to notice. He told me that his good lady cooks their dinner on the range, and that it roasts meat beautifully. I felt quite hungry after that visit and set off towards the village chippy, where the chips are cooked in beef dripping. Yum! Oh yeah, and they have little piggies at the cott too!

Happy as a pig in ...

I've always been a fan of steam power, so I really wanted to see the Newcomen Steam Pump. Sadly it wasn't in steam, but it was damned impressive all the same.

The museum is currently working on the relocation of the Workers' Institute, and are asking for people to 'sponsor a brick'. Go on, it's only a tenner, and it's worth it to save this wonderful piece of Labour history.

There really is too much there to mention everything, but it really was a damn good day out. So here's a couple more photos, just to whet your appetite.





because I liked it.

Lest we forget...