Saturday, December 31, 2005

Time Is The Fire...

..In Which We Burn

So it’s New Year’s Eve.

I don’t like it.

I just don’t get it.

The thing is, time doesn’t exist – it’s merely a concept invented by our puny human brains to help us better understand the universe. Some of us are slaves to the clock. We set appointments and meetings and fear for our lives if we’re late. Some say its down right rude to be late.

I dunno I just think it’s a bit daft spending a whole night watching a clock counting down to a time which is only significant because someone says so. It’s normally an anti-climax anyway.

There’s one aspect to time that I like on New Years Eve – I get double it. As NYE mean’s nothing to me I’m happy to work it and be paid lots more for the privilege!

Oh well to those of you that do celebrate, Happy New Year. To others like me happy next pay cheque!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Top Score

I just scored a 204 at Tenpin Bowling! I’m very happy with that. I left two frames open and even got a five-bagger. My previous record was a four-bagger and 165! Record smashed!

P.S. How good was David Tennant as Who? The Christmas Invasion was pure excellence with Tennant a better Doctor in twenty minutes that Ecclestone managed in the whole first series. Bring on series two!

Monday, December 26, 2005

My Favourite Christmas Present

Thanks babe, a total suprise.

P.S. Sorry if you got annoyed by the cries of 'exterminate'...all afternoon...


Sunday, December 25, 2005

It's Midnight... Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

So Here It Is...

Well last night was my final Chrimbo gig. Once again December has been the busiest month of the year and once again Christmas Eve bringing on a feeling of tranquillity and a return to normality. Last year it was the come down from Hereford Local Radio, this year it’s the come down from my best series of gigs ever. I don’t know what I’ve being doing differently but the last few weeks have seen some amazing nights. Admittedly this week were probably the worst, but then again they have followed some of my best… so even average seems lacklustre.

Thursday the dance floor didn’t ignite as well as Xmas so far, until for the first time ever, in 7 years of jocking I tried a ‘swing set’. Me & My Shadow, Have You Met Miss Jones, I Get A Kick Out Of You. Stuff I like but would never dream of using for a gig suddenly had the dance floor thriving!

Last night again, not the spectacular that the first few weeks offered but it did see a bizarre spate of requests. Grown men, 30-40 year olds asking for Agadoo, Hokey Cokey & The Fast Food Song. Tracks I have never played. I was very, very hesitant decided what the hell. It worked.

So to anyone who came to one of my Xmas gigs this year, thanks for making it a such good season. My blog of worry at the start was unfounded and I’m glad to say that this year I can quite happily put Wham on without my ears bleeding.

Anyway, I’m off for a few festive beers let the holidays commence!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Spaced Out

So Space Cadets finished on Friday. I really enjoyed the set up and premise of the series however it has to be said that the last two shows were kind of disappointing. Instead of opting for a big shock reveal in the style of Beadles About the cadets were brought back down to Earth gently. Over the last 48hours inside the capsule the producers started sowing seeds of doubt. By the close of the final day the Cadets were pretty much guessing it was all a hoax.

Logically this was the only way the show could end. The whole set up and been so detailed and immersive that to do a shock reveal would, no doubt, have been quite psychologically damaging. I guess the producers had to do things that way to protect the Cadets mental health. For the viewer though the show lacked the big pay off expected. How funny would it have been to stage a problem with the shuttle? To have a UFO flyby? Or do simulate a docking with the ISS only to have Johnny Vaughan walk through the airlock?

In the days of sensationalism on TV you have to admit the producers did take the braver and more moral approach. You have to salute them for that. Still it was an enjoyable show and a shame that it didn’t become the talked about event Channel 4 were hoping for.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Simplest Pleasures

Breaking the seal on a new jar of coffee.
Bubble Wrap.
The smell of wet tarmac when it hasn’t rained for weeks.
An email from a friend.
The moment of anticipation just before you’re released from the lift hill on a rollercoaster.
A favourite record on the radio.
Cuddles with Miss Smeg in the morning.
The smell of coffee.
The cold side of the pillow.
Making someone else laugh.
94% of my work colleagues

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fulfilling Fantasies

No not those kind of fantasies you dirty minded individual… you know who you are. I’m on about childhood fantasies. Ones burning in your soul since you were single-figured. I’m lucky in that I’ve achieved most of mine. There is one, however, that lies unquenched. It did lie dormant until very recently when it was re-ignited in a pang of jealousy. It was ignited by a friend showing me his Blue Peter Badge.

I wanted one. I scratched my head many a time in my youth. What could I write to BP in order for them to separate with one of their priceless pieces of plastic? How could I amaze Mark Curry, Yvette Fielding or the late Karen Keating? Sadly a subject never came to pass and as I got older I became far more interested in Star Trek communicators than Blue Peter badges.

Still seeing that badge the other week got me thinking. I could, of course, bid for one of the horrendously overpriced badges on ebay but that would be cheating. I wanted to obtain a badge in the genuine way – a feat of achievement that could only be eclipsed by obtaining a Jim’ll Fix it medal or Bullseye Bendy Bully.

So today, as I showered, a spark of inspiration hit me. I now have two subjects I could write letters to BP about. Two letters which would both stand a good chance of getting a badge. But herein lies the problem. How do I go about it? Do I;

A: Write in, shamelessly admitting my age in the hope that the producers will find it amusing and award me some badgeness.
B: Write in under the guise of a 10 year old, using my wrong hand and weak grasp of grammar in the hope producers will see this as a genuine plea for the prize.
C: Stop being silly and grow up, I’m 25 for Christ’s sake.

I can see this is going to be a tough decision…

Saturday, December 10, 2005

2 Things

There are two things that I’m really enjoying at the moment.

A: Space Cadets.

There’s a lot of speculation that this is all one big hoax designed to fool the British TV public. So what if it is, I’m really enjoying the ride. Nine people fooled into thinking they’re in Russia and are about to go into Space. It’s also good to see Johnny Vaughan back on the box. One of the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV for ages – especially the lectures. Wonder if they will voyage to the ‘Honey Nut Cluster’.

B: The JCB song.
It shouldn’t be good, but, it’s delicious. In a time where the charts are full of dull, monotone, samey hip hop songs or worse bland middle-of-the-road male solo artists, or even worse glorified kareoke singing X-Factor winners it’s so refreshing to have a a really nice song. The lyrics stir positive memories in my child-of-the-80s mind but also give a real uplifting nice fuzzy feeling. The best candidate we’ve had for Xmas Number one in years.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Radio Ga Ga

Today marks the first anniversary of my inaugural appearance on radio. Since then I have hosted a daily morning show on Local radio for three weeks and done a weekly show on hospital radio for the last six months. It was something I’d been interested in doing since I was young, so what have I learnt?

Well I’ve only done about 80 hours on air so I’d be arrogant to say I can teach you how to be a radio DJ, however perhaps I can pass on some tips new comers might be interested in.

Firstly most of your creativity is stifled from the word go. Thanks to various laws and regulations you have to be careful about what you talk about. Then you have the radio stations identity to live up to - i.e. you can only run features they want you to run and only play records they want you to play. It is a limiting problem but sounding original under these conditions is what makes the best jocks shine.

Forget glamour. Most radio studios, especially local level are nothing more than portacabins or single grubby rooms in an office block. They will either be freezing cold or stuffy and hot and at times you will be left on your own with a full bladder and no one to talk to.

Forget morals. It is an industry centred on backstabbing and slagging people off - well that’s if you want to get anywhere. You also seem to have to shag around to make friends and get jobs. Slagging off and shagging around are two things that aren’t me so I’m resigned to not getting anywhere in radio but to be honest with these two things being your main credentials I’m not bothered.

That said when a station works - it works well. In just three weeks the local RSL I was involved in built up a very strong sense of being in a team - if it was full time we would have made a great station.

To this day people are shocked when they learn I’m not bothered about pursuing radio – despite having in interest for quite a while. About 9 months ago one jock thought I was out right lying and refused to believe me. She’s one person that is slowly making progress in the industry and I’m happy for her but to be honest I’ve found my niche in hospital radio. In the studios are a group of people that are genuinely doing radio shows for the love and passion of it. There’s no pay & no fame thus no egos and certainly no falseness.

That said my main tip is that content is key. I find it far easier to do a show when I arrive up with pages and pages of news stories, trivia and observations. Failing that if you’ve nothing to say then don’t. After all apart from the likes of Chris Moyles or Scott Mills the majority of people listen to radio to hear the music – not you. That’s one lesson a lot of jocks could learn.

P.S. Happy birthday mum!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dance To The Music

So how did the Chrimbo parties go this weekend? Well it has to be said it’s kind of depressing. Friday night went really well. From 10pm –12am, following a sumptuous 4-course meal for our guests, I had the dance floor packed. Then, suddenly, without warning the atmosphere fell flat and people left. This is better than previous years. Usually straightaway at 10pm crowds would leave and head out to the night-clubs. Of course the new drinking laws seem to be working in our favour with people staying until later thanks to later admittance into the clubs.

Then, however, came Saturday.

Oh my God.

Possibly the best Xmas party night I have ever done at this residency. I always look back at the University Of Gloucestershire’s 2000 Xmas Ball as one of my best gigs. This was up there. The atmosphere was electric and the dance floor was teeming all night. The best part was I got away with different music to normal on Xmas parties. Usually it’s Motown and Disco to keep the post-40 something happy. Nothing wrong with that it’s great music but when you’re using it at all your weddings and Xmas dos it gets a bit tiresome. Itching to play something different while a lady on table 3 insists you play Dancing In The Street for the 5th time that week. However Saturday I slipped in the likes of Reef: Place Your Hands, House Of Pain: Jump Around and I even fearlessly laid down Ant & Dec: Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble. I never dear play such cheese but it worked perfectly. The crowd were screaming, jumping, singing. I counter balanced these more unusual Xmas Party choices with a few classics, Summer Of 69, Livin’ On A Prayer, Brown Sugar and it led to a great night.

So why have I said it’s depressing? Well for the night to be so, so good I’m aware that none of the forthcoming gigs over the next few weeks will match it.

Still, there’s always next year.

Friday, December 02, 2005

And So It Begins

Tonight is my first Xmas gig of the year. For me this is when the countdown starts and Christmas seems just days away. Admittedly it now means I will slowly get sick of Wham!, Dexy’s Midnight Runners & Jeff Beck but hey it’s still fun. Lately I’ve had a good run of gigs. No stand out bad ones and one fantastic night where I couldn’t stop the crowd dancing if I tried however the Xmas gigs are harder. Mainly because they are comprised of groups of people that don’t know each other – different companies booking a table here & there meaning the guests don’t seem to relax quite as much as if it were a birthday party (by far the easiest night to do.)

Every year one song becomes stand out – a song that is requested every night without fail. Over the past few years Crazy In Love by Beyonce, Cheeky Girls & Where Is The Love by Black Eyed Peas have been the big ones. Last year it was Band Aid 20. This year I’m anticipating The Pussycat Dolls to be heavily requested along with Madonna & Hung Up.

The hardest part of the night is where to put the Xmas songs? Obviously at a Xmas party you want Slade, The Pogues and Wizzard but past experience has taught me just dropping them in to the set clears the dance floor. If you don’t play them people start moaning – “You haven’t done the Xmas songs yet, come on it’s our Xmas party” but then if you save them until the end of the night it seems to little to late. In almost seven years of Djing I’ve never quite sussed this one. This year I have a plan – we’ll wait and see if it works…

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Shop 'til You Drop

While visiting Cornwall the other month I had the most fantastic shopping experience. I’m a rare breed of male – I love shopping – it’s actually my girlfriend that loathes it. I used to love shopping with my housemate and her friends in Cheltenham. Voicing opinion on various dresses and shoes. But I also love ‘stuff shopping’ looking around for CDs, DVDs, gadgets and kitchen stuff… oh and the toy department of course.

The New Bullring is amazing, as is Cribbs Causeway but down in Cornwall they do things differently. (Of course this is well known but I didn’t realise it extended to shopping.)

Down past Bodmin exists a paradise by the name of Treago Mills. At first arrival it’s a strange building indeed. Surrounded by dense furs and plastic statues. It’s a huge architectural hotchpotch. I wasn’t sure if it was an original timer building or a modern building built to look old – it really is hard to tell.

Inside though it is a vast shopping mall of sheer randomness. No separate shops just separate department all bunged in together and shaken about. The music department was a sheer delight. Old stuff seemed to be proudly on display while new releases seemed to be shamefully buried at the back. Even more exciting was the fact that there was no order to the records. The latest Greenday album was next to an ancient release from Sinatra. The shelves contained Catatonia’s complete back catalogue long vanished from my local Virgin. I found Portishead’s second album on these crammed shelves along with Suede’s Coming Up (both quickly purchased!)

The rest of Treago Mills was just as chaotic. A food department next to linen with a lighting department just a few steps away. There also appeared to be a tack department lovingly displaying neon wall clocks and those pictures of waterfalls that light up and give the image that water is constantly moving (so that’s where my local kebab house got it!)

If you’re ever in the area I strongly recommend a visit even if you don’t buy anything it’s just interesting to see what shopping could be like if we hadn’t been so influenced by the glistening American Malls.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Winter's Tale

Just wanted to share with you this picture of a gorgeous evening sky I took the other day. Sadly I only had my camera phone but you get the gist of the lurvely colours. Still it shows why this is my favourite time of year. I love the brisk mornings that wake you up as you walk to work. I love the crisp chill in the air and wrapping myself up in my Gryffindor scarf. At night I enjoy snuggling up in the duvet with a good book (currently Dan Brown’s Deception Point) I also love the anticipation in the air of the countdown to the festive season – this is when it should start, not August as the shops seem to dictate. This time of year I actually feel Xmassy – a feeling that usually evaporates by Xmas Eve but I try to make the most of it. If you ever get a chance listen to 'A Winter's Tale' by Queen - a song that sums up perfectly how I feel this time of year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

MSN has, today, published an amusing list of things that have never happened on Star Trek. While it is funny I do wish researchers would check their facts, some of them have actually happened;

Uhura puts the Klingons on hold listening to Greensleeves for 10 minutes, causing them to destroy the Enterprise in sheer frustration.

Ok this has never happened as such, however in Star Trek VI Uhura does put the Klingons on hold while trying to impersonate other Klingons with the bridge crew hurrying to translate the langauge in the background.

Starfleet remove red jumpers from the uniform code, after which the mortality rate of senior crewmembers on away missions increases dramatically.

Red Jumpers were removed from the uniform code somewhere between 2269 and 2279. In The Next Generation era it’s actually command that wears red with security now wearing mustard.

There's a bizarre time-warp incident that has nothing whatsoever to do with the 20th century.

This has happened many times – most notably with Captain Braxton in Star Trek Voyager – he was from the 29th Century! Oh and don’t forget ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’ – another bizarre time-warp incident having nothing to do with the 20th Century, instead an era just decades ago and the previous Enterprise.

Doors on all Federation starships inexplicably stop going 'pssht'

It’s not inexplicable, no doubt the Enterprise doors are powered by some sort of hydrolics which would explain the ‘pssht’ noise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Points Of View

Just the other week I Blogged on how I feel the BBC is the most spectacular television and media establishment in the world. They’ve further proven that by personally replying to an email I wrote to them this weekend. An email that was, sadly, a complaint.

You see Saturday morning I settled down to my weekly dose of Dick & Dom In Da Bungalow. The former primary school teacher in me is ashamed by this. I hold a professional degree but I shamelessly watch the weekly antics of Dick & Dom as they get very messy and shout dumb catchphrases – and I love it! Don’t know why but I just find it one of the funniest programmes on television.

This week though I was angered. The last 15 mins vanished to be replaced by The Lord Mayor's show. WHY?! I live nowhere near London and as such feel that this has no relevance on my life. Why oh why is this dull ceremonial precession being beamed into my home on BBC1 – the mainstream channel? Shouldn’t it be on BBC 2 or 4? (Do you here that, it’s the Degree level ex-teacher in me screaming at my disregard for British culture!)

Anyway, they’ve replied and apologised but reassured me that as a recognised tradition the BBC feel duty bound to broadcast The Lord Mayor’s show. Which is fair enough I suppose. (They were, no doubt, sniggering at a 25 year old Dick & Dom fan as they typed the reply.)

The one slight gripe is that they announced that the 15 minutes transition to BBC2 was publicised in the Radio Times. Sorry to burst your bubble dear old aunty beeb but not everyone buys the RT, instead I rely on the free weekly listings in The Saturday Times – which I always go out to buy AFTER Dick & Dom, D’oh!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Baby On Board

No it’s not the number one international smash hit Grammy Award winning record by the B-Sharps but the signs that the record was based on. What is the point of them? Why do they exist? Forget 9/11. Forget Stonehenge, or the face on Mars. Baby On Board signs are the greatest mystery/conspiracy of our time. What function do they serve? Does displaying one on your car magically make you impervious to road accidents? Do you honestly expect the driver behind to read them and think ‘Oh they have a baby (or the more annoying version, a ‘young person’) on board in that case I’ll ease off them. In fact I’ll ensure if a tyre does suddenly blow or a cat stray into the road I’ll swerve anywhere but into them.’

I suspect these signs merely exist for new parents to gloat about the fruit of their loins. ‘Look at fellow me motorists, I’m fertile, I got a shag at least 9 months ago!’

It doesn’t work on me though. I hate babies. They shit, spew, eat and sleep. That’s it – that’s all they’re capable of. And they’re ugly. To top it off their puny brains can’t even hold a conversation. Instead you have to guess what they’re crying about. It’s like a real Tamagotchi and you know how annoying they were.

Why can’t new-borns start life around the age of two or three? They are much better looking and have better bowel control. They’re funnier and can – to a degree – talk. You can play with them and don’t have to spend a fortune on nappies, teething rings and clothes that will last just three months.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Customer Services Service

Over the last decade the service industry has grown in the UK exponentially. Leisure has been the fastest growing industry and with it has come the customer service training. Being in that industry I’ve had my fair share. ‘The Customer is always right’, they must come first etc etc.

Well it’s all soooo wrong. The customer is rarely right. The customer doesn’t read things they’re meant to then blame you because they got their head severed by the pool table - despite the big sign saying “Don’t Do It.”
They imagine things and rephrase things you’ve said to them. They tell you that ‘the person they spoke to on the phone last week said ‘this’ - when all along they didn’t because that mystery person on the phone was you.

Or the other classic line – “You used to do it this way…” Um no, we actually never have. I’ve been with this company every day for 8 years – I think I’m more familiar with how things have been done… or, perhaps we did used to do it ‘that way’ but have you ever considered that things change?

Isn’t it about time that Customers had service skills taught to them. We, the oh so smiley-ready-to-help staff are not punch bags, we’re humans too believe it or not. We do care when things go wrong for you but when you treat us like a piece of dirt that care will evaporate. We are usually just following policies set by higher staff so don’t get all demanding with us when we are powerless to help because stupid beaurcratic rule 1.5a won’t let us – we’re just as frustrated as you!

But it boils down to what is wrong with the country at the moment – the lack of repect. The Chav culture has mutated into the more menacing Hoody culture. But how do you expect these teens to have respect when they see their parent shouting and bawling at service staff with a lack of respect.

Or what about those thrown out of Labour Party conventions for merely voicing an opinion? Nice one Tony. When did Labour become so fascist?

People need to slow down, become more aware of their surroundings, read signs more and you might find tempers get less frayed and mutual respect grows…

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Back In The Red

Yesterday morning my Red Dwarf VII DVD arrived 48 hours early. After following the creation of this DVD at I had quite a high anticipation. A lost episode, Robert Llewellyn’s much publicised video diary, the commentaries and, of course, the deleted scenes.

So far the Red Dwarf DVD’s have been some of the most finely produced shiny disks I have ever bought – really crammed full of meaty goodness that any fan could get wet over. Red Dwarf VII as a series though, is a different kettle of fish.

After four years absence from the screens Red Dwarf VII aired in 1997 with very mixed reviews. While the press were finally realising what a golden nugget of television the series was the fans we unsure of the shows new direction. VII was shot more like a drama, Chris Barrie was departing as was Rob Grant. There was a new character and it featured new CG effects and a filmic look with dramatic lighting.

At the time I didn’t know what to think. It was Red Dwarf and for that I loved it but something just wasn’t right. Like most fans I agreed it was the weakest series ever. Some ripped it to shreds though I still believed there were very strong moments. The opening to Stoke Me A Clipper is one of my favourite Red Dwarf scenes.

Last night I curled up in front of the goggle box and pressed play. Without the 4 years of anticipation and sudden shock of a completely new look – do you know what? My verdict has changed. The filmic look seems much much better when viewed on DVD as apposed to VHS. The lighting is sumptuous – the scene in Starbug’s engine core in Tikka To Ride looks simply gorgeous. Sadly the CG effects look worse than ever but the new CG inserted into Tikka for the DVD shows, that with the budget, it could have been glorious. I only intended to watch one episode last night but ended up watching three. I loved every moment and wished that they’d done more Dwarf in this way. Perhaps in hindsight we fans didn’t know how lucky we were to get a series that looked that good on a BBC Sit-Com budget. Sure some of the gags were weaker but the SF premises were stronger than ever. I mean, JFK assassinating himself? A virus you can talk to that feels sorry it has to kill you but is ‘just doing his job.’ Being your own father to ensure the human race is never wiped out and debating if cottage cheese (with pineapple chunks) should be kept in the fridge or cupboard… these are issues that even Star Trek hasn’t touched!

Perhaps RDVII needs a second chance?

More from the Crimson Short one here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pixels & Power Ups

One blissful memory of my youth is that of computer games. Hours spent controlling Codemaster’s ‘Dizzy’ on his various quests across the Spectrum Sinclair +2a before upgrading to the adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog on the Megadrive. There was Tetris on my Gameboy, which for some reason, school decided was the spawn of satan leading my best friend and I to find clever hiding places from the dinner ladies so we could link up for two player battles.

I progressed to the N64 and spent one whole summer leading Mario on his amazing 64-bit adventure while spending the winter guiding 007 around the perils of Goldeneye.

It seems though that, as the graphics and consoles improve, the gameplay gets worse. The last game I was truly addicted to was the Gameboy Advanced Kuru Kuru Kirin (I think that’s how it was spelt) guiding a rotor blade around tricky mazes – simple but addictive and tucked away amongst the millions of movie tie-in games that now seem to clog up the shelves.

Thankfully the Gamecube did have all the classic Sonic The Hedgehog Games in one mega collection and a new incarnation of Mario in Super Mario Sunshine. The main problem with the current console games I find is that there is simply too much to do. You have to collect all 100 icons, as well as emeralds and all coins on all levels. You have to complete all levels in ‘x’ amount of time. Once you have done this you unlock more levels where you have to do it all over again before you then unlock a new character and have to do everything again in reverse… You just get fed up. I loved the old Sonic Games they were challenging but at the same time genuinely possible to complete. These days your are robbed of that feeling of completion simply because you can’t be arsed to go back to level 6 and find that missing statue.

The DS has now arrived and I’ve loved revisiting Mario 64 – I’d sold my N64 to fund my Gamecube, a decision I was regretting until Mario 64 DS came along. However the gem I’ve discovered is Wario Ware Touched. At first it seemed utter chaos. There are hideously long cut scenes which are extremely irritating but once you’ve braved those and got to the mini-games it’s sheer genius. The games take mere seconds to complete and its all about bettering your time/score – simplicity. This is what makes it so compelling. Have games developers finally learned the simpler the idea the more addictive it is? Doubt it. However I’m guessing this game, along with Mario 64 DS could be all I need until the revolution appears…. Though a Starfox or Pilotwings DS might be nice…

Relive classic game memories here, and classic game music here.

Monday, October 31, 2005


“You mean you can’t drive? How do you get around?!” is the oft cry I hear from many a people upon discovering my inability to control a motor vehicle. They seem shocked when I tell tales of walking or cycling everywhere.
“Walk?! But it’s up hill and it takes at least fifteen minutes!” Was one utterance of exasperation I’ve had when describing my journey home. Oh no, fifteen minutes – so inconvenient. I enjoy it though it’s like a buffer between work and home Time to gather thoughts, reflect, plan your evening meal or just hum along to the iPod.
Still this is nothing compared to the disgust I get when I tell people that I use (get ready for this) public transport…

“But you must always be late, it’s dirty, expensive, hot and now thanks to 7/7 it could even spell certain death.” To be honest I no longer use the public transport around town. That, I agree is ridiculously expensive for such comparatively short journeys. However people who rely on cars seem completely oblivious to the fact that public transport is actually relatively cheap and reliable, especially over long distance. In three years of travelling back and forth to university the bus was only late twice – once because it got stuck in a major traffic jam which would have effected me had I been in my own car anyway. I used to relish the 90 minutes journey – sheer escapism often to the sounds of Mark & Lard (when Radio 1 mid-afternoon was good) through gorgeous Herefordshire/Gloucestershire countryside.

Recently I travelled to Birmingham by train. The carriage was clean, comfortable I had a seat and the air con was lovely and refreshing. The train was bang on time through all its stops and I got to the centre of Brum without the hassle and expense of finding parking. On the way back however the train broke down – this lead to an hour delay. Cries of disgust from many a passenger. I shrugged it off and enjoyed an hour wandering around Worcester where we’d stopped. No big deal.

So next time you need to take a journey why not think twice about your own car. Help save pollution and fight the continuing price rise of oil by going on public transport – it’s not nearly as crap as its image would make believe.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Intensive Comments

When I started this blog I made an unwritten rule that I’d never respond to any comments left. Mainly because I didn’t think I’d get any but also because my blog is my chance to air my opinion and the comments box is the chance to air yours – if they’re different even better because that gives the reader something to ponder over. However the anonymous poster of the following message about my Robbie Williams album review has really angered me;

Think you are talking out your arse, this is such a personal album touching upon many a fan, almost taking a 360, his first album reflected so much, this does exactly the same, if you want the last album, go and buy it again... people like you should not try to criticise as you really can't accept change... this album is fucking amazing.... move on you drip!

What angers me is that this commenter has obviously not actually read my blog in full. The first part of the review was based solely on the first listen to the album – in all honesty I didn’t enjoy the album as much as first listens to other Robster albums.. however if the commenter had bothered to read on they would have seen that I argued exactly the points they have i.e;

Commenter: “people like you should not try to criticise as you really can't accept change”

My Review: “So to sum up this is a more challenging album for Robbie fans – but to be honest I’m glad. I’d rather he try out new sounds and new ideas, there are far too many bands that keep releasing the same stuff in the same key with the same chords.”

There – in black and white, (well black & grey) I said I’m glad Intensive Care had a different sound… It’s brave and the change is good.

Commenter: Think you are talking out your arse, this is such a personal album touching upon many a fan

My review: Verdict: I love it! Album of the year for me so far putting Kaiser Chiefs into second place. Even the covers tarot theme perfectly captures the thoughtful feel to Intensive Care.

So perhaps Mr Anonymous should read stuff properly before jumping to conclusions. If you must know Intensive Care is the only thing I have played on my iTunes this week apart from Zero 7 and the Chris Moyles Podcast… and only because that had an interview with Prince Of Pop himself.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Intensive Listening

Thanks to the wonder that is I received my copy of Robbie Williams’ new album, Intensive Care, 48 hours before its actual release. As a fan of the Robster I was delighted but is it any good?

Popular opinion on the first single ‘Tripping’ is divided. I’m in the ‘love it’ camp preferring it to last years ‘Radio’ so I was looking forward to the album. First play however was disappointing. It felt wishy-washy. Robbie’s albums always seem to consist of a fine balance of good upbeat singalongs and brilliant ballads. This album seemed to hover somewhere in the middle. But then came the final two tracks; ‘A Place To Crash’ is an extremely catchy rocky song more in the traditional Robbie vein – it’s followed up with ‘King Of Bloke of Bird’ which is a perfect balance and the last 30 seconds provide a gorgeous instrumental end to the album.

Hearing these two great tracks inspired me to have an immediate second listen. Straight away ‘Ghosts’ stood out much more but the song that really grabbed me was ‘Advertising Space’

After a few listens I’m finding ‘Make Me Pure’ a brilliant track, almost up there with ‘Better Man’

Robbie has this unusual ability to create ‘growers’ – tracks that take a number of airings to ‘click’. It was the same with ‘Rock DJ’ and ‘Come Undone’ but it is Intensive Care that demonstrates this ability more than ever before. I was Djing last night and I’m glad to say ‘A Place To Crash’ got the dance floor filled – a potential Robbie smash there.

This morning the first thing I did was put the album on – I can’t get the tunes out of my head though the only track that isn’t growing is ‘Spread Your Wings’ – the backing track sounds like one of the instrumentals from Channel 4’s Supernanny and the way Robbie speaks the lyrics it sounds like an attempt at recapturing Escapology’s brilliant ‘Me & My Monkey’.

So to some up this is a more challenging album for Robbie fans – but to be honest I’m glad. I’d rather he try out new sounds and new ideas, there are far too many bands that keep releasing the same stuff in the same key with the same chords. Robbie may loose some long time fans with Intensive Care but I think he’ll gain new ones too.

Verdict: I love it! Album of the year for me so far putting Kaiser Chiefs into second place. Even the covers tarot theme perfectly captures the thoughtful feel to Intensive Care. It’s a different sound but it’s not the disaster all the Guy Chambers fans were predicting – a success and I look forward to more Williams/Duffy collaborations.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More Crisp Talk

I’ve talked before about my love of salty potato based snacks or crisps as they’re more normally known. Pringles used to be the daddy for me. However the last few years have seen that respect eroded with the addition of dodgy flavours. Paprika and Smoky Bacon are both over-salty nightmares with a harsh aftertaste. Mexican Salsa was awful and the new Sweet Chilli taste very synthetic. The two new flavours I loved – Pizza & Curry were both withdrawn with only a years shelf life. The one success has been marvellous - Hot & Spicy flavour.

Luckily Walkers came into the frame with Sensations. I was suspicious at first but their superior taste and flavours have won me over. Balsamic Onion & Vinegar is gorgeous, as is the minted lamb. The new pork and mustard flavour is delicious and then, of course, there’s the don of Sensations. Thai Sweet Chilli. Far superior to Pringle’s offering no synthetic aftertaste instead there’s that lovely warm, sweet sensation over your tongue.

Last night though I was pleasantly surprised by a new addition to the Pringles Dippas range – Thai Green Curry. After the recent experience with their other Thai flavour I was suspicious but gladly it seems Pringles have finally produced a nice flavour – It is reminiscent of the old Curry flavour but with slightly more of a kick. Now all they have to do is bring back Cheese’Ums and I’ll be a happy man!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Why Do I Hoard?

While moving house I discovered a strange thing about myself. I keep a lot of crap. An oversized £10 note. A Friends mobile phone holder. The cinema tickets for every film I went to see between 1998 and 2003. My old student ID cards, birthday cards. Boxes for various Star Trek memorabilia. All the number 1 CD singles between 1997 and 2002 as well as a multitude of other singles despite now having them all again on various compilation albums. Tickets to see Robot Wars live and Star Trek Voyager Calendars from 1996-2002. I’ve got all the Comic Relief red noses ever, my school uniform. A CD rack I never use. Awful GCSE woodwork projects. Every issue of the Beano 1987-1999. Why? Most of it is sentimental, I can attach happy memories with many of these objects, people, places names and faces. I have the memories though so why do I need that physical attachment? My girlfriend oft describes me as sentimental and nostalgic. I still cherish my Ghostbusters toys and my Sega Megadrive. I still love my Voyager VHS collection despite now having the lot on far superior DVD. Now I am moving out of the parents into my own home it is time to cast of some of these possessions away. There’s a fortune to be made on ebay with a lot of it I’m sure but it’s just so hard to say goodbye.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hobbies & Not Having Any...

I haven’t got a hobby. I hate that. Sometimes I sit there on a boring evening and ponder what to do. I can spend hours showing Bowser what for on the Gamecube or DS. I can waste aeons browsing the web or reading a good book. Some evenings and afternoons I while away the hours volunteering my time to Hospital Radio. Then there’s the DVD collection – oooh how I love to sit in front of a glowing box watching the digital data on a shiny disk be translated for my pleasure. None of these though are proper hobbies. This came to my attention when updating my CV. What do I put under the title ‘Hobby’
I’d love something old school. Trainspotting? Hey I’m already a Trekker – that’s geeky enough. Stamp Collecting? Hmm costs money – now I have that oh-so-heavy mortgage hanging above my head the hobby has to be cheap. Model Building? Tried that when I was younger, my nose and the warp nacelle of the Enterprise-D became quite attached… no thanks.
It’s a man thing though isn’t it? I mean, Hobbies. You see very few women in the local Steam appreciation society. I was once told (I think I was told, It could, perhaps, have come from Wilson on ‘Home Improvement’) that the male need for a hobby, to be creative, is because of an unconscious jealousy of the females ability to create new life inside her. Sort of makes sense. I do a lot of stuff with my spare time – Roller Coaster appreciation is another thing I could count for myself but it all sounds so different. “Hobbies: Reading, Writing, Internet, Gaming and Rollercoasters..”

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Spectre of Entertainment

I have long believed that the BBC are the best producers of television in the world. While many independent media stations and publications often knock them I still automatically tune to News 24 or Radio 4 if there is a major breaking news story. Radio 2 contains some of the finest radio programming & presenters anywhere while Radio 1 promotes fresh new talent and sounds expertly. On TV the BBC have been responsible for many of the last decade’s most delicious shows. Recently Doctor Who, Spooks, Dick & Dom and Little Britain.

The fondest memory I have of the BBC is for making me the most scared I have ever been in my life. The other day I was walking through town where I saw a number of people wearing ‘Most Haunted Crew’ T-Shirts. I laughed at the thought of a local building appearing on this awful program. I’ve watched it a few times and I feel it is making a mockery of genuine investigation into a fascinating subject – ghosts. Derek & Yvette should be banned from coming anywhere near a camera for producing this dumb show. It is a pale imitation of possibly the greatest 90 minutes of television I’ve ever watched…

It was October 1992, I was excited as it was one of the first times I’d been left home alone. I tuned into BBC 1 for their live Ghostwatch. Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene & Mike Smith hosted a 90-minute investigation of the most haunted house in Britain while Craig Charles provided the light relief. The studio ghost expert was, bizarrely, the head-tutor from Channel 4’s ‘Teachers’ Of course it was all a sham – an expertly produced ‘what-if’ drama that wasn’t even live. On the night I didn’t know that. I sat watching fascinated by what the university investigators had discovered at this haunted house. Central heating banging, school textbooks being defaced, a girl being scratched and a spooky voice uttering ‘Round & round the mulberry bush.’ I sat terrified as the ‘live’ broadcast descended into chaos. Banging, crashing wailing felines and Sarah Greene being trapped in a ghastly ‘glory hole’ (ahem). The image of ‘Pipes’ the spectre behind the happenings haunted me for years.

I waited petrified for my parents to return, “Mum, mum they’ve proved ghosts exist, they’re real…”

Of course it wasn’t and the BBC got into all sorts of trouble. The broadcast even being linked to the suicide of one lad who got a tad too scared! It was never to be shown again… well until it got a DVD release a few years back.

It still sticks in my mind though – I was captivated in a way that no TV show has ever emulated. I doubt it could be done today, we’re too media savvy – but I’d love to see it attempted!

More on Ghostwatch here.
..and here...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Crackin' Gromit...

It looks like the film I most want to see this week is going to be a huge hit. Well at least that's what I think judging by the random drunk old guy out side my local Tesco a few minutes ago. There he was, in his late 50s at least, rosey red face swinging a carrier bag around proclaiming, "I love Wensleydale"

Wallace would be proud...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bigger On The Inside

I love my new house, it doesn’t feel like home yet but we’re getting there. In spring we plan to tackle the back yard – not that big but a lick of paint, a few pots and I’m sure it’ll do wonders. But for some dumb reason I’ve decided I’d love a TARDIS in it. You see it’s not big enough for a shed and although we have a huge cellar for storage it’d be a lot easier to have a small shed for storage of BBQ, plant stuff and patio furniture. How cool would it be to build a TARDIS?! Far more interesting than a shed. I’ve looked into plans and cost and reckon it could be done for around £400. (Self build obviously)

It’ll probably never happen, my girlfriend is doing her best to dissuade me. I’m amazed at how many people out there in interweb land have actually taken on such a project. Like this bloke for instance… oh and this one.

Hmmm. Should I do it? I can see it being a project I start with full gusto and enthusiasm and then after a month giving up leaving the cellar full of half finiashed 7ft high MDF Tardis doors! It’ll be like the Blue Peter Tracy Island all over again which spent 2 years on top of my wardrobe half finished! Besides, thinking about it I haven’t even got a Sonic Screwdriver and I’m sure a Phillips one would be no good….

Monday, October 10, 2005

How To Win A Pub Quiz

As a quiz master I’m often asked for tips on winning. My stock reply is don’t play to win - just enjoy it. That was always my mantra when taking part in a quiz myself though I guess £100 cash or some free beer is always a bonus.

So how do you win a quiz? Well here’s some tips. For a start a good knowledge of Bond or 007 is a must. Every single quiz I’ve been to there almost always seems to be a Bond question – even in the ones I write I seem to slip them in. It’s usually which bond girl, or who sang…. Though sometimes it’ll be ‘which Bond.’
Look for current events too. Last week Charlie & The Chocolate factory came out. Sure enough quizzes featured questions about the original movie or the book. Likewise back in March/April every quiz I went to was asking questions about Doctor Who – and it’ll almost always be lazy ones that don’t need research. What does TARDIS stand for being a prime example. Just looking logically at current events like that can definitely lead to good guesses at what any given weeks pub quiz will contain.

Finally big advice here is look for themes. This is something I’m guilty of when writing a quiz. If I find a good question I’ll milk it for everything it’s worth. Last year every week I asked a question about the Monopoly Board or Monopoly rules simply because the board was kept next to my computer. I had a run of weeks about dartboards – again it was opposite where I was sat when writing the quiz. If, at your local, you get asked a question like this then I will bet you the next week there will be another question – simply because it saves the quizmaster the hassle of doing research for a question. I’ve recently discovered a list of international vehicle registration numbers.. that’ll keep me going for months!

Of course If you ever do come to my pub quiz be warned, as a fan of pub quizzes myself I am aware of some of these tricks of the trade – and often try hard to go against them… well unless I’m having a lazy ‘Quiz by numbers’ week…

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bless Me Father Roddenbury, For I Have Sinned...

I remember when I was about 6. Messing about in the living room, mum in the kitchen I switched the TV channel from the boring news to BBC 2. I sat watching fascinated by two men in pyjamas attacking a lump of reddish brown rock with laser guns. Later wisdom would teach me that this was the Horta from Star Trek The Original Series episode “The Devil In The Dark”. It was my first experience of Star Trek and it wasn’t long before I sat and watched the Wrath Of Kahn. A few years later The Next Genration debuted and I was hooked – I was a Trekker.

Flash forward to 2001 and (Star Trek) Enterprise arrives. The very talented Scott Bakula is the perfect choice for captain and I’m looking forward to another crew and another exciting voyage…. Sadly the excitement never arrives. Apart from Captain Archer the characters all seem boring and 2D. T’pol is just plain annoying without any of the character strength that made Seven fascinating in Voyager. Worse still is that none of these characters really seem to be happy there. Gone are the bold brave explorers from the other Starfleet ships – instead we have a bunch of nervous tykes scared of what is around the next corner. These are meant to be heroes, role models even. Archer sometimes manages but the rest seem reluctant. I try and try to get into it reminding myself that TNG & DS9 took a while to hit their strides but it just doesn’t happen. The final nail in the coffin is Star Trek Nemesis. A weak remake of The Wrath Of Kahn where the writer & director seems to have failed to get a grasp of any of the characters I have loved for the last two decades.

It’s the first time a new TV season has started without any new Star Trek since 1987. A few years ago I’d have been devastated but now with my beloved Star Trek DVDs keeping me company (every single Star Trek ever… except Enterprise of course) I’m actually not bothered it’s actually woken me up to what else is out there. For starters we’ve had the excellent Doctor Who. Sheer brilliance and I’m eagerly awaiting David Tennant’s ‘Christmas Invasion’

There’s Lost on Channel 4 (well it seems more like an hour of adverts with a bit of Lost every now and then!) – and I’m hooked. What’s a polar bear doing on a tropical island. How does a wheelchair bound man suddenly develop the ability to walk? What’s that French radio broadcast? Who is the mysterious man in a suit that is being spotted?

I’ve also discovered Sci-Fi Channel’s excellent remake of Battlestar Galactica. I detested the original – far too garish but this is sheer genius. It’s how Enterprise should have been, gritty, realistic but above all engaging and intelligent. No dumb technobabble and genuine raw emotion the commander is not afraid to speak his mind and tell the crew how he feels (“Get out of my office while you still can…”) much more interesting that the reserved Starfleet officers.

This summer we’ve had Batman Begins and War Of The Worlds, two absolutely gripping SF films, not to mention Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, the forthcoming King Kong. And of course there’s the excellent Half Blood Prince Potter continuation.

So other Trekkers out there fear not. Take off your Federation Blinkers, stop the TNG DVD you’re playing and take a look at the hoards of new Science Fiction that is being produced. Perhaps life without Trek isn’t too bad after all…

Friday, October 07, 2005

House Hunting Stressful?

Back in February when I started house hunting I was told it’s the most stressful thing you’ll ever do. Countlessy, again and again. To be honest though I loved it. I was fascinating going around and viewing homes. Being nosy and seeing other peoples decors and ways of living. I loved mentally mapping out how I’d have the house. The solicitor bit didn’t seem stressful – just long. Like taking loads of little steps instead of just buying the damn house. I do have my girlfriend to thank there though – she’d been through the process before and did most of the paper work.
Taking the house on and decorating it has been great fun. Paint flying everywhere, picking colour schemes and taps. Using rollers, and yes lads…. Power tools! For every bit of work completed you do you find another niggly little bit of work to be done. No big jobs as such just lots of little ones.

It was only in the final few weeks that the annoyance set in. The house was ours, the moving in date was set but there was still so much to do. It was the limbo of being able to see the goal line but not reach it. Sooo frustrating. The knowing that the house was there, it was ours – we could move in tomorrow except there was no kitchen.. Finally we’re in though and, touch-beech-effect-coated-woodchip, no stress!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

When did I become a web junky?

It’s almost three months since I had to disconnect broadband for my house move. Talk Talk have been awfully slow at getting us reconnected – telling us different things at different times. SO much so that when my obligation to them runs out I will be terminating my contract with them. If they hadn’t have farted around so much and kept blaming it on BT (whom, I’ve discovered, had nothing to do with the problems) we could have been re-connected a month ago.

Anyway that’s not the point. What I want to know is when I became addicted to the internet. The first month offline was fine. I had a PDA to check my email and doing that once every few days was enough. By month two I was starting to miss the forums I post on, the film & sci-fi news sites and even browsing Ebay. But I could cope.

By month three and I really found it a pain that I couldn't get online. Everyday something cropped up that I wouldn’t have minded googling. The history of New Orleans, more info on Lost. Some research for a Halloween Party I’m organising.

It got worse and worse. I think of friends I’ve made on some forums, do they think I’m dead? What about other blogs I read, how are those people? Has Queen of the Skies successfully sued Delta Arlines? Is Diamond Geezer still expertly turning the most trivial East End London trivia into enthralling reading? It’s also quite worrying on how dependant I must be on the internet. For a start my music purchases are became lot more expensive. I’m amazed at how much more expensive the high street is for DVD & CDs than Play, Amazon or i-Tunes.

Back in 1996 when I first connected I never imagined the net would become such a big part of my life. Then it was just a good way of killing time for 10 mins looking up spoilers of the latest DS9 episodes. But now it really has become another community I’m part of. Now that the connection is back I’m going to have to apologise to my girlfriend and immerse myself for a few weeks to catch up. Looks like the kitchen walls will have to wait….

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sod's Law

At long last my web connection has been sorted from my new abode and I'm back to blogging!

It's typical though. The summer I don’t have access to my Blog is the summer loads happens. London Bombings, Harry Potter, Live Eight, Olympic decision, Lost and Big Brother. There’s me moving house, loads of cinema visits and films to talk about as well as my Djing dates and radio work. There’s the sad death of James Doohan and the tragedy in New Orleans. Not to mention a visit to Warwick Castle, Blackpool and Alton Towers to report on as well as a week’s break in Cornwall. Oh well guess I’ve got quite a bit to talk about over the next few weeks…

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sill Here

*Sigh* Well the move has gone as planned but web connection hasn't. I hope to be back online and blogging soon.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Farewell Flat Four

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So yesterday family, friends and I braved the heat of the hottest day in the world to empty the flat, my unofficial home since 2002. I’m always sad leaving properties full of happy memories. I’ve done it twice before though this time it is with the excitement of moving into a property I will actually own.

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It’s not going to be for a few weeks which also means this is probably my final post for the time being. I hope to brave a PDA or friends computer so that I may say Hi, but in case not – I’ll see you in the future!

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Favourite Bottle

So last night, under the cover of darkness the girlfriend and I sneaked to the local bottle bank and deposited all our empties. (We didn’t want to look like Alcoholics) There was a satisfying crunch and crash as we did our bit for the environment. One sad loss was this bottle.

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Chateau Spook. One of my favourite tipples has long been Bulmers Strongbow Cider. So I was chuffed to find this special Halloween edition a few years back. Sadly the contents were vile but the bottle was cool. I’m going to miss the view of the Bulmers factory from Flat 4’s window when we move out. I’m not going to miss the gorgeous smell it produces every autumn though – you see my new house is right next door the factory! One of the huge Strongbow vats being right at the end of my street!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gotta Lotta Bottle

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Moving house is a sad time. The main reason is it means closing my third ever wine diary. It was a tradition started back at University by Hall mates Ruth and Sarah. I never did discover the totals of my first year residence at halls. In second and third year we didn’t keep it as strict as we should. Barely scraping double figures our wine & spirits diary hardly filled the top of the kitchen cupboards. (Believe it or not Peter Stringfellow, that bloke with crap hair, also keeps a wine diary!)

Back in January 2002 my girlfriend started hers at her flat, the flat we’ll be leaving next week. So are we alchoholics? In three years… here are the totals..

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That’s a lot of Jesus Juice, but refreshingly not as much as I predicted. Now it’s off to the local bottle bank with the above products… will only take two trips!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Twenty years ago Michael Jackson was the self proclaimed King Of Pop. The music he churned out was some of the best in the world. Great original tunes like Beat It, Billie Jean and, of course, Thriller. But that was two decades ago. He hasn’t delivered anything of note for years. It is this reason why I dread his inevitable re-launch now he has been proven innocent. He will have a number one – I can guarantee that but will it be a number one down to talent, or simply a number one of pity and media hype? In the days where a blue frog can get to number one on the back a ring-tone an even weirder looking creature is bound to get to number one on the back of a world press dominating court case.

It’s a shame because the embarrassing spectacle of MJ releasing a snivelling song saying he was ‘innocent all along’ will further dilute the once great image he had. Of course If I’m wrong and we see a return to form from the Neverland One I will happily toast him a glass of Jesus Juice.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I was highly anticipating the opening of Subway in the city. I’d heard so many good things about the chain. Healthy, tasty and freshly made. I strode up to the counter awkwardly, not being familiar with the store I wasn’t quite sure of the procedure but was amazed by the five staff eagerly waiting to prepare my food. I chose Chicken & Bacon Ranch, Hearty Italian Bread and decided to go the whole hog for a ‘fat bastard’ foot-long. That’s when the first worrying thing happened. Rather than treating my baguette lovingly with TLC it was sliced and manhandled by each of the staff in turn. They were wearing gloves and I’m sure they adhered to the many food prep regulations but there was something off-putting by five pairs of hands roughly flattening the baguette open and shoving in the ingredients. It was like watching ER except the operation was faster. At one point I half expected the meat stuffer to scream for a scapel.

The end result was encouraging. The baguette was stuffed with cucumber lettuce and some onion. It did indeed look tasty and fresh. Then came the shock.

“That’s £5.40 please.”

Wow. For one baguette, no extras, no drink no cookie. £5.40.

I don’t think I’ll be going to Subway again. Yes it was delicious. But for £5.40 I can buy three baguettes from Morrissons (which would be much more than a footl ong) and still have enough change for a drink. Also, two minutes walk away from Subway is our local Greggs. Baguettes there are as little as £1.50 for a gorgeous range of fillings. (And of course the freshly baked Sausage Rolls mmmm…) For £5.40 I’d at least expect a drink, or possibly gold plated cutlery and a side pot of caviar… Not asking much is it?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Oh so very very tired....

The 24-hour bowl night went really fast. We were playing Scrabble well into the early hours – frustratingly even a dictionary couldn’t help us in achieving many words longer than four letters – though I did manage ‘lockers’ at one point. At 4am we joined the charity bowlers for a game before moving to the pool area for a game of nine-ball. At seven we both started to lag. Stretching out listening to Chris Moyles. Those final two hours seemed longer than the previous six.

Still it was nice to see the sun rise and sit outside in the still of the dawn with barely a sound. Even at the edge of a dull trading estate the start of the day was as glorious as it could possibly be. Shame I missed the rest of the day by spending it in bed.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mr Sandman...

I have to stay awake.

I won’t be going to bed until exactly 24hours from now.

But how do I do it?

I’ve done ‘all nighters’ before. In 1998 I was up until 5am completing my design coursework. In 2000 I stayed up until 6am helping refit the bowling centre. In 2001 I got to bed about 8am after flying back from Cyprus. In 2002 I was up until 5am finishing my dissertation.

Tonight I am supervising the bowling centre from 11pm – 9am as a charity aims to complete a 24 hour bowl.

I did try ‘time shifting’ – going to bed later and later each night and getting up later each morning but by last night was knackard and went to be early. I’ll be fine until 4am but that’s where I’ll start to struggle. I have dug out my Rocket Fuel Coffee in preparation – it kept me going through dissertation day, and I have supplies of Red Bull ready but I really don’t know how I’m going to get through the twilight hours from 4 – 9am. This afternoon I will try going back to bed but I know, just know I won’t sleep. I never can in daylight.

Unlike D-Day and A Levels I will not be going it alone which is a bonus. There will be other staff sharing the ‘fun’ – we’ve already contemplated playing Monopoly, watching Big Brother and even bowling ourselves.

Perhaps I should give in – take a sleeping bag with me just in-case. Anyway, I’ll report back tomorrow and find out how I went!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Changing the tunes...

You may have noticed I’ve stopped logging my weekly Saturday night DJ gigs lately. No particular reason except that they’ve all been average. I haven’t had any disastrous nights in ages but like wise I haven’t has any exceptional nights. It’s not a bad thing, the clients have all been lovely as have the crowds but many have been simply ‘painting by numbers’.

Saturday was slightly different. It was a 60th birthday party which to some extent filled me with dread. Rock and Roll and 60s hits all night could get a bit dull. I like to play a bit of everything. The birthday girl surprised me though by asking for Green Day. Puzzled I played it. The dance floor got distinctly busier. I followed it up with James ‘Sit Down’, Feeder ‘Buck Rogers’ and The Dandy Warhols ‘Bohemian Like You’. They loved it. How far could I push it? I dared one of the ultimate Indie anthems; Reef ‘Place Your Hands’. They loved it more. It wasn’t the busiest night. Heck it wasn’t the best night I’ve done but being able to play something so different to the normal routines of Wham, Lulu and the B52s was very, very refreshing.

Big Brother Bit.
I’m fast realising that we have some of the most awful housemates in History. Kemal, Craig and Lesley in particular are vile. Constant bitching. Sure it’s the bitching that can make the show but you don’t want it 24/7. Some of the best bits in Big Bro are the moments the housemates bond and have a laugh. The wall painting in BB1 or the dancing task in BB2. The negativity in this year’s house is starting to grow tiresome. Normally during BB I don’t bother to even buy a TV guide knowing that it’ll make up much of my TV viewing. Today though the other channels may find their figures increase by one viewer.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Uniform Views

6 months ago the Safeways that’s 5 minutes walk from me became a Morrisons. I love it. The range is much better, as is the salad bar and selection of sandwich filling however there’s one thing that bugs me. The uniforms. They’re so ugly! It’s not just Morrisons though it’s all supermarkets.

It’s not fair. All the big high street retail giants carefully design their uniforms to represent their image. HMV and Starbucks have simple but nice polo shirts with company logo. The mobile phone giants have specially designed stylish suits. What do supermarkets get? Puffy boiler shirts in a range of vomit like colours. Morrisons is a hideous blend of purples and blacks made out of the same material as sleeping bags. The cut is hideously unfashionable looking very 60s like. Surely supermarkets are keen to promote a fresh clean image so why are the uniforms stuck in a timewarp. Sure they have to be practical but a stylish shirt with simple trousers is all I ask for. 90% of the staff wearing them look unhappy. Mr WM Morrison hear this. Making your staff happier by giving them better uniforms would give a much more positive image to us – the consumers!

So are there any other hideous uniforms out there? I’d love to hear the sickening details.

Big Brother Bit: When will we ever learn? Once again the nation has voted out the most interesting housemate meaning that Big Brother’s entertainment factor is going to suffer. Sure Mary was as mad as a box of frogs but she was different, a character we’d never seen in the show. Craig is a bitchy camp man -–we've seen plenty of those over the years of Big Brother, yet for some reason you’ve decided that you want another helping… zzzzzzz.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Summer of Bruv

Summer is finally here. It arrived yesterday in a gorgeous display of blue skies and muggy heat. Sadly I was stuck indoors on an 8-hour bar shift. Not to worry though because yesterday evening was another sure sign that summer was here. The annual event that now seems to define the summer (at least according to the tabloids and my TV viewing habits.) Yes Big Brother is back and I’m glad. I dislike most Reality TV choosing properly crafted dramas over Z List celebs desperately trying to resurrect their career.

Big Brother is different though. It’s huge. It can offer an insight into different lives. Last years was a parody of Big Brother of old, BB 6 seems to be continuing the trend. Originally the producers used to assemble a cross section of society under one roof but after the boring collection that was BB4 the producers have changed the direction. For the second year running we have a collection of misfits and polar opposites – and do you know what – I’m looking forward to it. We have an African Princess who despises swearing living with a Hairdresser than loves it. We have someone who hates racists living with some who “isn’t racist” but “hates immigrants.”

Let the games begin…

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Force Is Strong In This One

I wouldn’t call myself a Star Wars fan. My loyalties lie with the United Federation Of Planets and the USS Enterprise – not the Rebellion and the Millennium Falcon however being a general Science Fiction fan I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go to the local premiere of Revenge Of The Sith.

This morning we travelled the 45 miles to Cheltenham to get the first showing. (I live 5 minutes walk from Hereford’s cinema but believe me it’s so crap I’d rather go out of my way…)

So the verdict. It’s good to see a film that finally feels like a Star Wars movie. Let’s face Phantom Menace was crap, it really was. Clones while enjoyable is not on a par with the cinematic experience the original trilogy. Today really felt like I was finally watching the origins of the legendary SF icons that are Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The film is breathtaking. While the previous prequals made a point of showing off the CGI (the pointless podrace for instance) this film actually felt that the CG was justified. Yoda doesn’t feel like a glorified computer character like Jar Jar did – he seems just like an actor. There are dodgy moments. While Hayden Christensen’s acting hasn’t improved Ewan McGregor’s impersonation of Alec Guinness has. Lucas’s ability to write romance is still lousy but his direction has tightened. (Though this may be due to help from Steven Spielburg if rumours are true)

The Wookie scenes were crowd pleasers and Mace Windu’s final battle with the Chancellor was tense as we finally see the moment Annakin turns. The one bit that did stick out like a sore thumb was Darth Vader’s howl of “Nooooooooooooooo!” at the end, really doesn’t feel right - especially as the set exploding around him was more than enough to portray the struggle of Annakin’s emotions.

This is the film that will finally please the Star Wars fanboys and even have the more casual fans like myself excited about the Jedi… perhaps I may purchase the original Trilogy on DVD after all…

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Get Well Soon

I was shocked by this morning’s announcement that one of my idols has breast cancer. It was confirmed that Kylie Minogue is pulling out of her tour and Glastonbury due to this terrible news. I wish her the speediest of recoveries and hopes she gets through it as quickly as possible. It is terrible terrible news but I hope some good comes out of it. Kylie Minogue is incredibly high profile – if the news that even someone as seemingly immortal as her can be struck with cancer means that someone out there checks themselves and finds a lump then it can only be positive.

If she’s open about the condition she can influence thousands of fans to check themselves and potentially save lives. It’s weird as I was going to write a blog last week to say how I didn’t enjoy the Showgirl concert on Channel 4 – despite Kylie being one of my favourite ever pop stars. Glad I didn’t now!

Still I’m sure in the near future we will see another spectacular concert from Kylie showing why she’s one of the nations favourites.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Where Have All The UFO's Gone?

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It’s the mid-nineties. A young teen snuggles up in his duvet under the glow of his television ready for another exciting adventure of Mulder & Scully. Opposite him a poster bearing the words ‘ I Want To Believe’ with a fuzzy UFO in the background. On his bookcase are a number of volumes of the unexplained and case files of The X Files. If you hadn’t have guessed that young teen was me 11 or so years ago. In the brief period of time when the X-files replaced Star Trek & Red Dwarf in my heart. Of course we all know that after Season Three The X Files collapsed under the weight of it’s own mythology and turned from the interesting show it was to the confusing and rambling unwatchable show it became.

Back then the tabloids were littered daily with UFO sightings. ITN News filled a multitude of ‘And Finally’s’ with the latest flying saucer report. Usually featuring a Slack Jawed Yokel bliterhing on about his pigs being worried. There were endless articles over the secrets of Area 51 too.

It’s now the mid-naughties and, it seems, UFO sightings have all but ceased. But how? Since the UFO flap caused by the popularity of The X Files we have easier access to cameras. People have them on their phones and have more sophisticated digital cameras which were barely a twinkle in Kodak’s eyes back then. With more cameras around shouldn’t we be seeing more UFOs?

Is this proof that they didn’t exist in the first place? The X Files served as a catalyst for those who wanted to believe to mis-represent satellites, stars, planes and balloons as UFO’s. Or is it that we’ve moved on to a new stage in the UFO phenomenon.

Since Kenneth Arnold first saw his flying saucers in 1947 people have wanted the truth. It’s out there, I just hope we find it.

UFO News
UFO Resources

Friday, May 13, 2005

Big Black Oblivion Hood

Typical, the week I buy myself a nice new hoody (with the Oblivion logo on no less) shopping centres around the UK start to ban them. I feel like a criminal by just donning the 100% cotton garment. Anyway that's one urban menace that's starting to be dealt with but what of the other? I've written about the foul demons that are Chuggers a few times in this this blog but finally a website - from the makers of has arrived to promote getting rid of them.

If this was an election topic last week it would have got my vote.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Long Term Commitment

Back in February I hinted in my blog that I was about to make the biggest decision of my life. This decision will lead to the biggest commitment of my life – a 30-year mortgage. Yes I’m on the verge of buying a house. 30 years is a long time and it set me thinking about what, up until now, has been my biggest commitment.

My girlfriend? Nope. My longest relationship is the one I’m currently in. 3 years, 4 months and 1 day so far.

School? Nope. Primary school was 1985 – 1991. 6 years. Secondary school was 1991 – 1996, 5 years. Sixth Form a mere 2 years and university 3 years.

Work? Nope. I started at my present employer on April 2nd 1997. It’s now 2005 so that’s 8 years and 1 month.

So what is it then? The answer landed on my doormat this morning. Issue 131 of my favourite magazine is its tenth anniversary special. I have bought every issue, even subscribing for the last 5 years. 10 years of reading SFX magazine is the biggest commitment in my life. If it continues to be as well written, witty and entertaining as it has been for the last 10 years (except for a few years when there was far too much Buffy coverage for my liking) then no doubt in 2015 it’ll still be the longest commitment in my life. By that time though, I will need a much bigger bookcase to store them all on…

Happy Birthday SFX.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Wheelchair Wierdness

One thing that struck me yesterday about my visit to Alton Towers was this weird incident... click away.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Day Out...

I've been looking forward to today for the last two weeks. Why? Well I'm off to one of my favourite places in the world.

Alton Towers here we come!!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Traffic Island Dics

Throughout March and April I did a series of posts based on Album’s that have influenced my life (I will reprise this at some point.) But I have been asked what about a single track? What is my favourite song?

This is a tough one. I have many tracks I love, Wake Up Boo by The Boo Radlys, Eternity, Better Man and Feel are great songs from Robbie Williams. I love the chilling vocals from Freddie Mercury on Queen’s You Take My Breath Away. Dodgy’s Self Doubt and DB Boulavard’s Point Of View and Kylie Minogue’s I Did It Again are regular plays for me.

But the one track that I love, the one track that always makes me stop and listen is Groove Armada’s At The River. It’s a sample of Old Cape Cod by Patti Page. All it takes are the first two lines and repeats them;

“If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air,
Quaint little villages here and there,”

There’s a mellow accompaniment on the trumpet and a dreamy bass line which is the ultimate de stress and chill out track. As I’ve mentioned before I did have a brief period of life back in 2001/2002 where I struggled to get through things. In the evenings I used to return home and listen to chillout music to relax. It’s the sounds of At The River that helped the most.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Thanks for your great suggestions for tracks NOT to play on hospital radio. Made me chuckle. It also reminded me of one of the most humbling DJ gigs I had ever done which was about 18 months ago or so. I was booked to DJ a retirement party. But found it odd that the retiree was only 30. I was puzzled but to be honest thought nothing of it until I arrived at the gig. I was told that the lady had terminal cancer and wanted one last big party with all her friends, colleagues and family.

Wow, talk about putting the pressure on to perform! But I also started seeing hidden meanings in songs that I wouldn’t normally see. American Pie – the day the music died? Should I play it or is that a bit suggestive.

Luckily the lady in question turned out to be one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met. She showed no fear and partied like I’ve never seen. It was one of the best atmospheres at a party I’d seen in a long time with everyone on the dance floor. She made jokes gave a brilliant speech and got bit tipsy. What did she request as her last song? ‘Bay City Rollers, Bye Bye Baby’. Genius. At the end of the night the crowd did a big group hug in the middle of the dance floor which actually led me to tears.

If I ever have to face death and I’m able to show just a tiny bit of the courage she displayed I’d be a lucky man…

Monday, April 25, 2005

Ill Sounds

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing some voluntary DJ work at Hospital Radio. It’s good fun and to be honest I’m really enjoying it – hopefully it will become a permanent thing for me. But While bored the other day at work I decided to come up with a top 10 of records that, perhaps, I shouldn’t play…

Dead From The Waist Down – Catatonia
Keep Yourself Alive – Queen
Doctor’s Orders – Sunny
Anything by Dead Or Alive, especially ‘My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)’
Virus – Iron Maiden
Infected - Barthezz
Broken Bones - Love Inc
We Trying To Stay Alive - Wyclef Jean & The Refugee Allstars
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
How To Be Dead – Snow Patrol

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Behind The Sofa

The BBC received complaints last week that the new Doctor Who was too scary. What? It’s a dubious claim but perhaps I should try thinking how I’d react to it at the age of 6 or 7.

I'd love to experience horror & scary TV through the eyes of the less 'movie-wise.' Sadly there’s a problem. I'm really interested in filmmaking so I watch horror with the knowledge of 'how it was done' and the fact that there was 20+ crew members the other side of the camera at that time. While I still enjoy the stories told by the films they just don't scare me. What should do the job is a good physiological scare.

This is going to sound so dumb but the one film that did give me a sleepless night was Signs. When I was young I was never scared of ghosts or bogeymen - it was Aliens. Just really freaked me out the thought that we could be invaded at any time. (Statistically very unlikely but never say never!) Signs tapped into those childhood fears perfectly. While the film didn't scare me as such I got home and was thinking what I’d do in that situation. It really started to play on my mind. I even dreamt about the moment the alien walks past the window at the children’s birthday party. Had to wake up and put The Simpsons on just to settle my mind!

I bought the DVD but I've yet to watch it all the way though! It's the last section - the claustrophobia of it. Creepy. But much much better than the supposedly scary slasher, blood and guts films.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Devon Guide - Day Five

So what did we do on our final day in Devon? We had thoroughly enjoyed Plymouth at the start of the week despite a friend saying he hated it. He said Exeter was a far more exciting and interesting place. Well if we enjoyed Plymouth we were bound to enjoy Exeter. We decided to head up and around the M5 to spend a day shopping. We spent quite a while trying to find decent parking then more of a while fumbling for change. When we finally got to the city we were – well, disappointed. For a start there didn’t seem to be a central hub to the city. It just seemed to sprawl endlessly in a long strip. The Guildhall shopping centre was a depressing brick monstrosity that has completely boxed in the far more architecturally interesting St Pancreas Church.

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The saving grace Exeter had to offer was the underground passages. Sadly though due to my girlfriend’s claustrophobia we were advised not to visit them. It may turn out to be a missed opportunity, as these passages will close to the general public on 25th April 2005 at least until late 2007. The Cathedral was impressive to look at but lacking any interest in religion we didn’t really want to spend time there. Finally there was Parliament Street. This street is approximately 1220mm at its widest making it the world's narrowest street. But, because it’s not even sign posted, other than a small brass plaque we missed it!

By the time we left Exeter we decided we should have perhaps spent a second day in Plymouth. The city just didn’t appeal to us. Perhaps if we did more research before we went we could have found things worth looking at – then again shouldn’t a city make an effort to signpost points of interest? One aspect of Exeter we did enjoy was the bowling centre. Yes it was a busman’s visit but I do like a game of 10 Pin Bowling!

The next day we packed up our stuff and travelled home up the M5

A better guide to Exeter than I can offer.

The Complete Devon Guide:
Day 4
Day 3
Day 2
Day 1

Monday, April 11, 2005

Vote Smeg.

With the election looming what would I do if I was leader of a party?

Basically I'd address the balance where it seems to be the chavvy lowlifes that do nothing for the good of the country yet still seem to get all the rewards. To get dole money I would make it compulsory to do community service. Litter picking, cleaning graffiti, repairing vandalism etc. This would, hopefully start to put a stop to the chav society of scrounging of the state. It would also start to clean up Britain’s streets. Chavs would also have to do menial jobs like fruit picking and factory labour to earn their dole - this would mean companies wouldn't have to employ cheap eastern European labour thus easing the immigration 'crisis' we have. People would also be fined for wearing any article of Burberry. 50% more if its a baseball cap and even more if it's fake Burberry. (They’d be arrested if wearing fake bling or caught tucking tracksuit bottoms into white sports socks)

I'd drop education fees - these are people going to uni trying to better themselves, they should be rewarded with tax breaks not years of debt.

To encourage people to be more active I'd subsidise the leisure industry making it cheaper to play sports, visit theme parks etc this would be paid for by adding a tax on fast foods and foods high in fat content. (With the amount of this stuff bought it only would have to be an extra 5p on things.) (This would also help me lose weight and discourage me from eating the crap I currently eat.)

Invest in town centre redevelopment so rather than building thousands more new homes and losing valuable countryside I'd use buildings that are already there but empty and in need of refitting to help ease the housing shortage the UK currently has. These new properties created by converting empty shops and warehouses etc into new flats would be sold off cheaply to first time buyers/young couples helping them onto the ladder. To discourage investors snapping up cheap homes to rent out and also making it harder for first time buyers I would charge 'Investors Duty' - they're gonna be making money out of their property so why not take a bit to help fund this redevelopment scheme.

I’d also make it compulsory that when the BBC signs up promising new talent for certain science fiction shows they would have to be locked in to at least three years, not to quit after one thus spoiling enjoyment for fans….

God help me, I sound like a Daily Mail reader.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Creative Ambitions

I started a novel last year. I’ve always had a creative side trying to get out. I guess it’s the combination of me being both a Pisces and left-handed (sadly this also means statistically I’ll die about 9 years younger than most - curse my writing preference.)

In my teens I wanted to be a cartoonist. I created a whole world for these two cartoon fellows – Ben ‘n’ Bill (NOT Bill & Ben – there’s a difference.) and they had many adventures to amuse a selection of my school friends. They were printed in the local paper and came on the top 200 of the Lloyds Bank Channel 4 Film Challenge. I still doodle them when bored but it’s been a good 10 years since they had a 40-page adventure.

The net has been the main vent for my creativity over the last 10 years. Numerous WebPages on Red Dwarf and the Big Breakfast.

But like Dave Gorman, there’s something inside me that longs to write a novel. Everyone was surprised when I announced it was a contemporary story set at a university. They all expected Science Fiction. I was really enjoying writing the story of Chris and his life at uni. His failed romance, his numerous visits to casualty and a number of drunken mishaps and quarrels. Then my hard drive died. I do have a back up but it’s 7000 words shorter than the lost 40,000 word hard drive version and the knowledge that I have to re-create a number of chapters had doused the flame that was fuelling the story.

I still have ideas for that novel and a number of others zooming around my head. I hope they see the light of day.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Devon Guide - Day Four

On our forth day in Devon we decided to do what we’d hoped to do on that holiday all along. Have a rest. With both of us working in retail/leisure industry and Xmas only weeks away we knew it’d be the last time we could have a lazy day for a few weeks.

In the morning we headed into Exmouth via a long walk down the beach and explored the town. We’d accidentally smashed a bowl in our hotel room so wandered around for a replacement and looked at all the shops. Poppies littered the war memorial in the centre of the town just a few steps away from the lovely “Powder Monkey” Wetherspoons pub. We bought rock, some Xmas presents and a few trinkets for friends back home. It’s weird how sometimes you visit towns that seem to be stuck a decade behind the rest of the country. Cornwall is the guiltiest of this but Exmouth seemed to be one of these places. Local shops outnumbered big brand shops though the redevelopment of Exmouth Marina seemed to be pulling the town into the twentieth century. The houses around the marina were fantastic and if it wasn’t for the town feeling so isolated from society I’d be tempted to live there.

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In the afternoon we spent our time in the Deer Leap seafront pub watching the land lord putting up Christmas decorations and having a tipsy game of pool. The evening was spent back at the Hotel playing Bingo and reading. At this point we both started to grow concerned about the amount of hideous Christmas decorations that were starting to appear throughout the hotel… more on these scary items soon!

See Exmouth Webcams - Live!

Devon Guides:
Day 3
Day 2
Day 1

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Devon Guide – Day Three

This was our busiest day. Following breakfast we headed down the A380 towards Torquay & Paignton once more. Our first stop was Babbacombe Model Village founded by T.F. Dobbins in the mid 60s this village is an idyllic miniature tribute to the English way of life. Everything is depicted from small villages to large city centres. There’s a football stadium and cricket pitch – there’s even a hydroelectric dam. The craftsman ship is wonderful and while it didn’t keep two twentysomethings occupied for long I’d love to revisit this attraction with children and see it through their eyes. We visited on a rainy day but as you can see from the website it seems a sunny day would further enhance the attraction.

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The second visit of the day was to Bygones – a life-size Victorian street. Sadly it was also the most disappointing. First off the street its self is amazing. Hand crafted and constructed in an old cinema it recreates a typical Victorian Street in just about every detail. But apart from this the exhibition doesn’t offer much. It has loads to look at but doesn’t actually tell you much about what you’re looking at. (Even the website offers a history of the museum its self on the second page - before offering visitor info!)

When you leave the street you progress into an exhibition of Railwayana, There’s fantasyland which doesn’t fit in at all with the rest of the museum and is a garish display of UV and kitsch. Finally there’s the WW1 display which was fascinating to look out but again lacked explanation. What was littered throughout Bygones was gushing self-tributes by the museum creators. While I have no doubt a lot of time and effort went into the project that’s not actually what I’m there to see. I wanted info about Victorian life, not how long it took to build the replica. I don’t want to know how wonderfully supportive your wife was throughout. I want to see accounts of real Victorians. Descriptions of what the items I’m look at actually are. When they were made etc…

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Our third visit was just down the road. Kents Cavern in Torquay. I’d never visited underground caves before. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect of wandering around some rocks for an hour. Thankfully I was blown away. The sheer magnitude of this natural exhibition was amazing. Yes there were tributes to the owners – The Powe family but unlike the Bygones Museum this seemed relevant and was balanced with a lot more info about the caves themselves. The caves served to truly awaken you to the insignificance of your time on earth. The fact they have been around for two and a half million years and are still developing is humbling. There was evidence of previous inhabitants both human and otherwise. The guide was enthusiastic yet explained complex theories in an easy to understand way – a gift shared by the best of teachers and Johnny Ball! I was stuck in with a group of Japanese tourists and while I loath blatant stereotyping I have to admit their constant taking of photos very annoying. Afterwards the guide even apologised for it saying he’s sorry but they took so long that he had to miss a bit out. He took time to tell us some extra info to make up for this. Out of our three trips I would recommend the Caverns the most.

After a tiring day we returned to our hotel to take part in a pub quiz hosted by a very miserable bloke who sounded like Joe Pasquale. I am ashamed to say, considering I’m a pub quiz host myself, we didn’t do well… Do’h!

Devon Guides:
Day 2
Day 1

Monday, April 04, 2005

Now That's What I Call Music IV

2000 – Robbie Williams: Sing When You’re Winning

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I hated Robbie Williams. I remember loathing Angels when it was released. Freedom was cack – it was the video that put me off more than anything, that untalented ex-boy band clown mugging down a camera lens. When I saw his albums in the bargain bin I laughed safe in the knowledge he’d soon be out of the public eye. 1998 rolled around and I remember hearing a great song over some football footage. To my horror I discovered who the artist was – Robbie Williams. The song, Let Me Entertain You.

I resisted for a while but I kept hearing the song. I started singing it, it got into my head I had to buy it. I even used it Djing.

Flash forward few months and there’s Millennium. Being a Bond fan I was lured in by the use of John Barry’s You Only Live Twice score. The song was great and followed up with such hummable wonders as No Regrets and the gorgeous Strong. I’d been converted. I started to see Williams for what he really was. He didn’t want to be an artist he wanted to be an Entertainer – which is how it should be. Look at the musical great like Elvis & Queen, they put on a show, wowed the audience. People would say Robbie was a big-headed fool but I saw it as an act.

By 2000 I’d bought both Robbie albums and had the good fortune to see him live at Wembley Stadium at Net Aid where he stole the show in an amazing performance. Then came Rock DJ. To this day it fills the floor when I DJ. I have a feeling it’s a song Robbie himself isn’t keen on but I love it. Sing When Your Winning is possibly my favourite Williams album. Kids, the duet with Kylie is one of my favourite songs and Better Man is a truly gorgeous ballad which I personally rank as far superior to Angels.

It angers me that the music snobs don’t take Robbie seriously. Sure he’s pop but at least he can write his own stuff unlike the kareoke singers like Westlife & Gareth Gates. His music is intelligent and carries far more meaning than the gangsta crap of some of the manufactured hip hop acts. He can vary his act from pop, to swing to ballads and even rock. Most bands find a sound they like and keep churning it out. Franz Ferdinand are great but listen to their album – it all sounds very similar.
Most importantly Robbie can truly entertain. Few artists could captivate an audience like he did at the Albert Hall or Knebworth.

Escapology showed a different sound to Sing, almost rawer. It took me a while to really get into but that just made me like it more. The fact that Robbie wasn’t scared of trying something different – highlighted by last years ‘Radio’.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Captain Picard of Galifrey...

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I Just had to snap this today at memorabilia at the NEC. It's like a fanboy's wet dream! Captain Picard about to set foot in Dr Who's Tardis - while being gaurded by a Dalek?! Considering the role of Doctor Who is currently up for grabs I couldn't think of a more suitable replacement.

"Number One... I mean Rose, set a course for Earth and get me some Tea, Earl  Make It SO!"

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Who Nose?

Remember when car noses used to grace the nation’s automobiles for months on end after Red Nose Day had passed? Every other car would sport a faded plastic red lump on their car radiator for weeks. Be it the plain one, the one with hands or one with the comic splatting effect. These days car noses seem to have lost popularity. Is it a sign that the UK is losing its good sense of humour or just that image is more important that charity?

Looking around Morrisons car park I was relieved to see one or two of this years air fresheners dangling from peoples rear view mirrors. It’s just a shame that not as many bought these charity-boosting noses as those that bought the awfully tacky St George window flags last summer. Comic Relief would have made a fortune – oh and yes my girlfriend's car (I can’t drive) does sport a red nose – oh and has a spare in the cupboard for when the lovely caramel smell runs out!

P.S. Is the Pope ill or something?