Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bring Me The Head Of Christopher Ecclestone

After the loss of Star Trek there comes a new blow to Science Fiction fans. Christopher Ecclestone has quit as Doctor Who after filming just one series. He is the most hated man in Science Fiction – simply because he was so good!

This has left me in a sulky mood today. I was really enjoying the new Who but the pessimist in me says its all over. Sure he can be replaced but will the Tenth Doctor be as good? I doubt it.

So who will save us from the Daleks now? After all they are a severe threat to our existence. “Don’t be stupid” I hear you cry – they can’t get upstairs*. Ah true but with last years disability act enforcing all public spaces to have disabled access where are the stairs to stop them? With wheelchair ramps in every shop, library and public building the UK is a prime site for the invasion of the pepperpot like beasties.

*Yes yes, I know an episode in the Sylvester McCoy era proved the Daleks could travel up stairs – just humour me for the purposes of this blog!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Best Website Ever...

I discovered this site the other day and haven't been able to log off since!

Addictive, fun, and makes your realise how hard drawing with a mouse is.

Pictionary - online!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Now That's What I Call Music III

2001: Zero 7 – Simple Things

It was my final year at University that I discovered this album. It was a stressful period of my life. The closest I’ve been to self-destruction. I’d been through a bad patch of my teacher training that I really hadn’t enjoyed and had begun to realise that my childhood dream of being a teacher wasn’t for me.

The month of May 2002 was frantic. University students out there will understand why when I say one word. Dissertation. Friday 10th of May was the hand in date. At 1.00am that morning I read my completed dissertation and the horror dawned on me that the last 3000 words or so were awful. With just hours until the hand in deadline I made a very, very stupid decision. I would re-write it.

The kettle boiled, the ‘Rocket Fuel Coffee’ made and computer switched on. I went for it. Typing at a frantic pace. My eyes heavy, my head dull but I knew it had to be done. I can’t work without music but I knew that putting my usual sing-along stuff – Dodgy, Queen, Robbie would be suicide – I’d get distracted. So I dug out a chillout album. Zero 7. Largely ignored since I’d bought it. Listening to it as I typed and typed it captivated me. Soothing, calming. It focused me full of lush string arrangements, meandering bass lines, gentle drums.

By 6am I had finished the mighty task and just had to await the printer to spit out the to copies of my work. As it did this I listened to the album a third time that morning. Dozing off as I did so, floating. That year was the year of chillout music for me. I had needed it back in January 2002 to clam me down from a stressful time – and in the culmination of that year I called up on chillout one more time. I really think that without Zero 7 I wouldn’t have got through that long morning.

I’d highly recommend this album to anyone – you’d probably recognise many of the tracks, they’ve since been over used on many home improvements type shows.

This wasn’t the final time Zero 7 helped calm me. Exactly a year ago their second album, “When It Falls” was released. I had another stressful time ahead – a flight to Spain, Flying is my greatest fear. Slipping it on as we glided over France the familiar sounds calmed me once more. So thank you to Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, I know they don’t like being labelled as Chill-Out, and it’s fair to say they are much, much more. Even so the two Zero 7 albums are rarely far from my CD players at those times when soothing sounds are needed!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

I’m started to get excited. It can’t have escaped you that in one hour and forty minutes one of Britian’s Pop culture icons is returning to television. Not that we have many pop culture icons, the US tend to dominate that field leaving us James Bond, Sooty and of course Doctor Who.

I’m not quite sure why I’m getting excited. Although I enjoyed Who as a kid (I was 10 when it was axed) I’ve never bought and merchandise or went out of my way to watch it.

There is also the fact that I have already seen tonight’s episode having downloaded it from the naughty leak. What’s the verdict? Well it’s great, great fun and a change from all the dreary crime/medical dramas that seem to bog down television. The effects are brilliant and Christopher Ecclestone’s performance while ‘cooler’ than previous ‘Whos’ still has enough oddness to stay loyal to the character. I couldn’t stand Billie Piper in her pop career and while I still think she looks like a monkey she gives a great performance as Rose and I’m eager to see how the companionship pans out. The dodgiest bit has to be Rose's boyfriend being eaten alive by a wheelie bin.

I will watch tonight’s episode as It’ll be good to see it on a big screen with decent sound instead of a computer but I am worried. My appreciation of Star Trek has led to me to buying all the DVDs - not cheap but when you love it as much as I do it’s worth it. I’m just concerned that if I enjoy the rest of the new Who as much as the first episode it could lead to another Sci-Fi collection under my belt. My girlfriend already knows I’m a geek I don’t need more evidence!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Now That's What I Call Music II

1996: Dodgy, Free Peace Sweet.

Everyone remembers Good Enough. It was one of the sounds of the summer of 1996. That summer was simply gorgeous. Good weather and it seemed to stretch for an eternity. It was, in some ways, the last summer of my childhood. I had just completed my GCSE’s and was awaiting the start of Sixth Form. A 10-week (yes 10 – count ‘em) break with NOTHING to do! I didn’t have a job so I loafed. Cycled everywhere, read a lot and filmed dumb movies with my childhood best friend. Visited Alton Towers and got mildly drunk at a number of barbecues. It was also the year of my first ever DJ gig.

I remember watching Top Of The Pops (or TOTP as it was then) and being blown away by Dodgy’s performance of In A Room. I remember their earlier hit Stayin’ Out For The Summer but this sounded different. I bought the single but it wasn’t In A Room that got played and played – it was the B-Side, Self Doubt - a great sing-a-long song with a big bold sound. To this day to me that is the song I prefer to Good Enough. My dad bought me Free, Peace Sweet and it didn’t leave my CD player for months. The haunting ballads of If You’re Thinking Of Me. The great sound of UKRip and One of Those Rivers. I bought Dodgy back catalogue and while those CDs received a lot of attention it was always FPS that would be first choice. Sadly Dodgy disappeared. There was brief return with 2001’s self-funded ‘Real Estate’ which was a joy to listen to but didn’t capture me in the same way as FPS. To this day I rank Dodgy as a favourite band alongside Queen but I long for new material. Material I worry may never appear.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Now That’s What I Call Music

I have decided to delve into my music collection and review some of, what I think, are the most important albums of my life time. Albums I have bought that I played and played. This will be done in no particular order just as I pull them off my CD shelves!

1994 : Portishead, Dummy

This was a complete change in music for me. I’d made the transition from my misinformed Jive Bunny loving youth to teen years by listening to Queen. But I heard Portishead used as part of a Fortean Review of the Year on BBC 2. I loved it. The spooky and eerie sounds seemed to have its finger on the zeitgeist. Portishead: Dummy was the perfect soundtrack to my early teen years where I had become an X-Files/UFO obsessive and the music fitted the show better than Mark Snow’s original score. (As we all know X-Files went crap after a few years so I’ve since rediscovered Star Trek!)

From Mysterons through to Glory Box the echoing vocals of Beth Gibbons and rich bass sounds dispersed with gorgeous squeals of sound. I listened and listened to it, wearing out my original cassette tape (Yes – all you under 18s out there, cassette tape!) bought from Our Price and ended up replacing it with the much better CD. Strangely enough I have never purchased or even heard the follow up self-titled album. Perhaps I should seek it out, but I’m sure it’ll never match the deliciousness of Dummy.

Of course Portishead were sampled by the 411 late last year and with news of a new Portishead album on the way perhaps now is the time to catch up with their back catalogue.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Colour Changing Cars

Like crisps cars are subject to an ever-expanding variety. Back in the 80s I seem to remember every other car was red. You also had Blue, white and occasionally black but that was it – that was the full car colour spectrum. In the last few years these colours have become extinct, as everyone seems to opt for metallic hues, usually silver.

But there is one trend that concerns me. When did cars become yellow?

I first noticed it a few months ago. A bright yellow car pulled up next to my girlfriend with stickers of Tweety-Pie adorning the bonnet. Since then they seem to be everywhere. Bright yellow cars. Fiat seems to be leading the way in this shocking super mini colour trend. It sort of makes sense. I suppose high visibility cars would lead to fewer accidents. Heck why not make cars glow-in-the-dark if that’s what the manufacturers are after.

Seriously though keep your eyes peeled – I’m sure it’s a conspiracy. Yellow cars are out there see if you can spot some!

A Yellow Car Fan Club

P.S. Amusingly as I planned this blog yesterday I discovered one of my top DJ friends has just been given a company car - oh yes it's bright yellow oh and blue... oh and white. I possibly won't be accepting any lifts of her in the near future ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

So it finally happened. Yesterday I turned 25.

So far I’ve spent 3/5 of my life in education.

2/5 in employment (the same company for all of that time)

1/5 Writing and hosting Bar Wars

I’ve spent 1/7 of my life in my current relationship

I’ve achieved a degree, a level three NVQ, 3 Alevels, 8 GCSE’s and a green swimming badge. (Never my strength – I had to be rescued from the pool during my lifesaving award!)

I’ve hosted my own radio show & appeared on The Big Breakfast.

I’ve DJ’d for Timmy Mallet and been Atomic Kitten’s Warm Up act.

I’ve been best man and had one of my cartoons published in the local paper.

I’ve ridden Nemesis, Air, Colossus, Inferno & The Big One all at the front in the dark.

And thanks to my girlfriend I can now experience freshly ground Starbucks Coffee in my own living room – thanks to the Burr Coffee Bean Grinder she bought me. Yummy.

Not bad for 25 years

Friday, March 18, 2005


Personally I find there is nothing better than a really good book. A page-turner that you really can’t put down. One that is so vivid it comes alive in your mind and takes you on a thrilling journey really involving you with the characters. But then comes the completion. You turn the last page and it ends. Usually the better the book the poorer the ending, though sometimes they do have good resolutions.

I have just finished reading the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. According to the media it is the most exciting novel since Hogwarts School first opened its doors and I have to agree with them. The book is fantastic, a gripping Thriller that sees the two heroes on a race to evade capture from the French police for a crime they didn’t commit. Along the way they try and unravel the mystery of the Holy Grail and boy what a ride. Obviously the story and characters are fictional but if the research that Dan Brown has carried out into the Grail is true then it really could shatter the Catholic Faith. The problem is that the Davinci Code’s line between fact and fiction is very blurry.

It took me just two days to complete the novel – it was that good – but now I have a vacuum in my life. I hate it when you finish a great book. I was really enjoying getting stuck into it. Sure I’ve got plenty of other books to read but somehow they don’t seem as compelling. Part of me wants to trawl the net and see if I can find evidence for the conclusions in the Code. Try to find out if what elements of Brown’s tale is true but then what if I discover it really is all fiction, it would shatter the enjoyment of what I just read.

Anyway, trust me give into the media hype and find yourself a copy. It might just change the way you think…

The Mysterious Rosslyn Chapel - One of the key locations in the DaVinci Code

The Knights Templar - Guardians of The Grail?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Year Of Blogging, A Page of Thoughts...

Oh yes, this is a new look to my Blog. As tomorrow sees the 1st anniversary of creating this site I thought it was in need of a spruce up. I’ve gone for a nice fresh blue – you like? So in the 365 days since the creation of this Blog I’m ashamed to say I’ve only managed to make just over 100 posts. Is my life really that interesting that only one third of it needs documenting?

I created this Blog in honour of my 24th Birthday. On Saturday I will be 25 and proud to say that despite a few lapses over Xmas and during a Spanish vacation last year I’ve surprised myself by keeping the Blog going. On the first post one year ago I announced a sweepstake to see how long it’d last. I definitely wouldn’t have won.

I want to better my Blogging in the next 365 days but that remains to be seen.

So if keeping a diary was my 24th Birthday ambition how will I improve my self to mark my 25th year? To be honest I’d love to possess more drive. I wouldn’t call myself lazy – just laid back. When I get into habits I find them very easy to keep – perhaps why I rarely rise before 10am and perhaps why I’m still doing the same job I’ve had since 17. (Well – I do have a bit more responsibility!) For instance I know – if I wanted to – I could break into radio. Problem is it involves travelling and promoting yourself and I just can’t find the time to do it. I loved my time on Hereford Local Radio and, if they’ll have me, can’t wait for a second stab later this year. I kid myself that two or three years down the line they’ll go full time and I’ll walk into a job there. Well this is possible and I hope it does become true but there is of course the small fact they have to obtain a full license from Ofcom – which others could also bid for and win. There’s also the fact that if they did go full time they’d want tried and tested jocks rather than some geezer who’s had a few RSL experiences.

A good friend of mine was at pains a few weeks ago to motivate me but it just didn’t work. I tend to shut off when people compliment me, I just consider myself an average guy and nothing special. There is a pang of jealousy that she’s made it but that jealousy is coated in a large amount of happiness for her. But if I know I could be there too why don’t I do it?

Well that’s what I want to do for the next year. Try out a second RSL, get some experience at hospital radio and then, perhaps in 365 days I could be writing blogs in a cosy little radio studio. Then again this computer chair is soooo comfy…

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Gourmet Salty Snacks

When did crisps become posh? When I was little I remember summer evenings in beer gardens with my parents and the choice being simple – red green or blue (and if the pub stocked Walkers you’d end up with Salt ‘N’ Vinegar instead of the preferred Cheese ‘n’ Onion.)
Today I walked into the local paper shop to purchase said paper and lunchtime potato based snack. The choice was overwhelming. Not only did you have a choice of flavours but you also had the choice of a multitude of brands within brands. Pringles isn’t good enough you now have Pringles Dippas or Pringles Minis. Walkers aren’t good enough – you have to pick from regular, Max, Stax, Sensations, Potato Heads or now the new Nobby’s Chip Shop Range. There’s McCoys and McCoys specials – not mention McCoy’s Spice.
That’s just the brands – what about the flavours. Three simple ones isn’t good enough these days. In the 80s flavours diversified with Prawn Cocktail and Beef & Onion. In the 00’s you have Balsamic Vinegar, Rib-Eye Steak & Pepper, Thai Green Grass & Beansprout(!?) and Lamb & Mint Sauce. Where will this lunacy end? I’ve already seen Vanilla Flavour Monster Munch and have heard rumours of Chocolate flavour crisps.

Crisps are by far my favourite food products, if it wasn’t for them I’d be at least two stone lighter but please, oh please can this flavour lunacy end. I dread the day Walkers release Roast Llama and Pringles proudly display their Spicy Triceratops range…

Check out new flavours here!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Talking B*llocks

I was given the all clear today over the small lump that has decided to set up home in my scrotum. It is a weight off my mind as although you reassure yourself it won’t be serious you then start to ask yourself ‘why won’t it be serious.’ After all I’m not special, I’m just another human being why should I be immune to cancer just because I’m me? It is a human tendency to think ‘Oh it’ll never happen to me’ whether it is about illness, burglary, car accident etc. But why shouldn’t it? Even so I was happy to be told it was nothing harmless and I can, if I wish, have it removed. To be honest I quite fancy just leaving it – me and my lump. I’ll be like the opposite of Hitler.

What did make me laugh was the doctors comment as I left the clinic. He told me once again that it was up to me if I wanted it removed. “The ball is in your court,” he said, without even smirking. Was it unintentional? I don’t know but it had me giggling for the next half-hour.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Thirst Quenching

I had a Panda Pops today, remember those? Neon coloured drinks that only your school tuck shop seemed to sell. Weird flavours like bubble gum or blueberry. Today’s sample was “Grape & Apple” Th Nostalgic out there will be pleased to hear that in the 15 or so years since Panda Pops last passed my lips things haven’t changed – they still taste like shit.

Monday, March 07, 2005

My Life Is A Hollyoaks plot line.

It really is. Actually found it funny last week when one of the characters discovered the same thing I discovered before Christmas it’s just annoying that his Health service seems a lot quicker than mine!

While the Hollyoaks character seems to be taking things bad, I’m not. I have my test next week then I’m sure there will be more waiting which is the worst bit really.

Having an odd lump in an odd place is weird. You’d think you’d shit your self like Mr Hollyoaks is. (I don’t know the characters name as I can’t stand soaps but it is the one my girlfriend likes and to be fair there are attractive women in it so I find it easier to sit through than the disgrace to television that is Eastenders.) But I’m not scared. There’s no point worrying unless your GP says it’s serious which they haven’t yet. It could be a dozen other things so I’m not getting stressed yet. Even if the worst does come to the worst it has the highest success rate with, I believe, 95% of Testicular Cancer cases treatable.

Still, men if you’re reading this you must takes these things seriously. My doctor was actually thankful that I’d come as soon as I found it. She said how most blokes would ignore it until it did get serious then it could be too late. There's nothing to be embarassed about, they're doctors they've seen it all before!

Anyway I highly recommend this site;

Answers all your questions in a straight to the point no bollocks way. Which is funny as bollocks is exactly is what it’s about!

Oh well what's the life changing event from last week I hear you cry? Well I would love to have announced it today but it seems the deals off. So might have to wait a few weeks... *Evil Laugh*

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Vinyl Envy

I envy my father. He comes from an era where a record collection was truely a record collection. Stacks and stacks of vinyl from 7-inch to 12-inch leading to the impressive display in the living room that I used to thumb through in my youth. Back then the names were unfamiliar, silly and strange. Now though I recognise them as music greats. The Temptaions, Howard Jones, Bee Gees, Taj Mahal. Gorgeous covers with a slightly musty smell.

Now record collections run the risk of being nothing more than a track list on your computer hard drive. A little grey (or pink or green) box you carry around with those oh so stylish white headphones. ( I refuse to wear those head phones. They’re actually very tinny and say quite freely to potential muggers ‘ohhh look I have an iPod.’)

A lot of my friends say I have an amazing record collection. “Wow you name it, you’ve got it.” At a gig last night a customer was really impressed saying he’d never seen such a variety. I am, however, reminded of the saying quality not quantity. This is where dad-envy comes in. You see my dad’s collection was a proper collection, artist albums. These days most collection are made up of compilation albums. It is often the easiest way to get music you want. Gone are the works of art that used to grace the cover, sure the covers are a lot smaller these days but now lack the striking collages of Sgt Pepper or the simple striking imagery of Dark Side Of The Moon. Instead you see the easy way out – photos of the artists and that’s about it.

When I’m older I will have, and already have, a very large CD collection. But I doubt it’ll evoke the same nostalgia as that of my dad’s.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Don't Go Changing....

The last week in February always seems fated to be life changing for me.

In 2000 it was the week that I first hosted my pub quiz. Five years ago I never imagined that I’d still be hosting it in 2005. It’s become part of my life now, out growing its ‘bit-of-fun-to-earn-me-money-while-I-complete-university’ and actually becoming something I look forward to weekly. Its my baby. Awww.

Also in the final week of February 2000 I was diagnosed with glandular fever – it hit me hard. I had to leave uni for two months and it took me a year to fully recover. It changed the way I looked on life. The night of March 1st 2000 was – to this day – the longest night I’ve experienced. I suffered an allergic reaction to the medication and had to put up with 24 hours of vomiting, sleeplessness (for some reason I became insomniac for that month) as well as three times during the night the Halls fire bell ringing. The entire population of 30 students had to evacuate each and every time. My the third time I was really in no fit state and was physically carried out by some friends – good job I was about 2 stone lighter in those days.

In February 2002 the final week brought the decision to quit teaching. I just knew I had to. It saw me returning to my old job, old city and old life – but also new happiness.

February 2004 saw me ready to quit the above job. I filled out an application for assistant manager of a new record/music shop. Something I’ve always fancied doing. I got to the front door of the shop ready to hand the form in but something told me the time wasn’t right. I did go into the shop – but chose to purchase a box set of the Toy Story films rather than attempt a change of career. I don’t why I made that decision but I’m gald I have – my current job will be getting a lot more interesting in the next 12 months.

So what did the final week of February 2005 bring? Well it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever made in my life. A decision I will inform you of another time….