Thursday, August 31, 2006


I hate September.

It all started in 1999. I went to university where I had some of the best times of my life.

It’s the first three months that really stick in my memory. A real whirlwind of madness, new friends, fun, laughter – lots of laughter, late nights and booze.

It’s because of this that I get quite upset this time of year. In fact I get positively jealous of all the freshers starting Uni and about to have some of the best experiences ever.

Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t swap what I have now for the world but the chance to relive those three months would be awesome. It would however have to be those exact three months. I get so nostalgic thinking back to that time.

The Halls – or ‘Villa’ as it was known, the kitchen, everything being yellow, Freshers ball, the costume hunting for the 70s night. Stupidly long bus rides, playing cricket with mugs, remote control cars, Halloween 1999, Blair Witch, moving the contents of the kitchen – including the fridges into various people’s rooms – and their rooms into the kitchen. There was the rugby initiation ritual that left one friend so wrecked we mounted an all night vigil to ensure he stayed alive. We had the banned union jack and the thieving of that flag by the villa opposite. I guess you had to be there but every day really did create memories.

The people were most important though.

Mark, Amy, Anna, Brizzle, Matt, Ruth, Sarah ‘Face’, Nicki, Will, Sarah 2, Cashy, Lise, Ed, Shandyboy, Cath, Tim & Lee

But herein lies one reason why I get mildly down. We never said goodbye properly.

Why? Because as the first term ended I did something very stupid. I hurt one of those people above. Not physically, just verbally – which was probably more painful. I was young & misguided and though after Xmas the group still socialised it was never quite the same. What comes around goes around and a year later a different one of the above hurt me.

Things changed and mid 2nd year I began hanging round with a completely different set of people:

Ian, Susie, Taffy, Rob, Justine, Ash, Chris, Matt, Cat, Rachel, Ed, Andy, Mars, Cath, Sarah M, Sarah 2 & Will.

You were all amazing and once again created many, many happy memories. The Bristol march, stealing a table from Bristol with Suzie, The Price Is Right, Bar Wars, all the Djing and Ents stuff, getting pissed and going one-on-one in the Sports Bar London, The Xmas Balls, the frog & fiddle nights, Djing at Cheltenham Film Studios, power cuts, late night shopping, the donut machine, pizza hut @ Xmas, the Frog – final night year 2 (the best night out ever!)

But somehow none of these are as vivid as those first three months.

So to the person I hurt, if you ever miraculously come across this blog, you know who you are, I’m truly sorry. To the person who hurt me, Bar Wars was never the same again. It’s a shame – it could have been so much more, as Bar Wars 2 is proving, but you’re forgiven say hi sometime.

To all you lucky gits about to start university, I’m so, so envious. Treasure it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Smoke Without Fire?

I doubt many of you know this but Tom & Jerry is my favourite cartoon. I absolutely love it and have all the 'shorts' on DVD. In my book it even outclasses the Simpsons (though not by much!).
For some years they've been subject to brutal editing and censorship that has largely gone unnoticed by the masses. Basically much of it revolved around 'Mammy Two Shoes', Tom's owner. In the 40s classics she was depicted as black and slightly lacking in the brain department. (Her speech was often incorrect and her spelling totally wrong etc.) In the 60s execs realised this could be offensive and had Chuck Jones re-animate many of her appearances so that she looked white and even her speech was re-dubbed & re-edited.

Also edited out were any occasion that something exploded in Tom or Jerry's faces leaving them 'blacked up' like a minstrel.

Now they're going one further and having any instance where smoking is 'glamourised' within a T&J cartoon edited out.

While I can sympathise with the reasons behind these cuts I do lament them. T&J are legendry. Especially the early Fred Quimby stuff. Most viewers have the intelligence to realise what is considered racist or un-PC now was, at the time, acceptable. If you’re viewing them in context as period animation there's nothing unacceptable whatsoever. Where does it end? Will health & safety freaks want every time Tom's whacked over the head with a frying pan edited out?

The more I think about it the more dumb this is. My favourite ever film is Ghostbusters. It features prominent smoking and I watched it hundreds of times as a kid. Same goes for Thunderbirds which often shows Lady P smoking. I have only ever had one puff of a cigarette and that was only to wind someone up.

Just shows how influential smoking in films & TV is…

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


When I was young I often used to go on cycle rides with my best mate D. They were great days out away from Mama & Papa Smeg. Off we’d ride into the countryside and discover many exciting places and hidey-holes; the forgotten Hereford to Gloucester canal, old barns, disused railway sidings and even an overgrown adventure playground.

There was one house which we never had the guts to explore, a true ‘haunted house’ if I ever saw one. Disused, with no power. It stood greying and fading at the end of a gloomy tree enclosed lane. Moth-eaten curtains would flutter out of the smashed windows and strange noises would be heard from the trees surrounding it.

Every week we’d pull up on our bikes daring each other to inch that little bit closer. A summer or two went by until we’d finally summoned up the courage to reach the front door. It was truly creepy. Through the window we could glimpse old décor – possibly not touched since the 20s. We felt it could have been an old farmhouse from when the whole area was farmland.

We’d been far too brave that week so cycled home to safety watching Knightmare and Fun House.

The next week was a different story, we were nearing the end of the summer holidays and our bike rides would soon be postponed to bad weather and schoolwork. We’d reached the front door but could we gather the courage to step inside?

I’ll always remember that day as long as I live. Upon arriving at the house the air seemed to go colder. I was nervous, feeling this was a truly bad idea but ‘D’ egged me on. We pulled the torch out of my rucksack (it was a birthday present back in March, I was secretly quite excited to use it for something other than reading The Beano under the bedclothes at night) and gripped the handle of the main door.

It swung open with a creak straight out of a Hollywood B-movie. We both stepped inside and our senses were instantly overpowered with that musty mouldy smell of old, damp buildings. The wallpaper was peeling away and many of the fixtures were smashed or broken. As we took more steps inwards the daylight faded behind the heavy living room curtains. We flashed the torch around noting an old fireplace, some bedding and modern magazines strewn around the floor. We were too young and innocent to think of druggies or squatters using the house so wondered if it was perhaps a tramp bedding down at night.

That was when we heard a clunking from deeper in the house – movement! Shining the torch over to D I could see he was nervous but he nodded that we should investigate. As we came out of the living room we noticed a door to the left that I swear wasn’t there before. Unlike the other, grander doors in the house it had a more temporary feel to it. It also had a bolt at the top.

“Probably to keep us out” D laughed.
“Or to keep something in?” I replied. I’d meant it as a joke but realising what I said scared my self. What if there was something locked inside? Should we open it?

To cut a story short we did and were confronted with rickety wooden steps down into darkness. Shining the torch into the gloom I could see the cold stone floor of a cellar. A rat, startled by the light scampered off into the dark. I took a few steps downwards and jumped as I heard that clunking again. I couldn’t pin where it was coming from but didn’t want to seem a wuss in front of D.

The cellar was stark, cold, damp. We could see our breath glistening in the torchlight which was starting to flicker – the battery running down. As we reached the back wall of the cellar we were rather unnerved to find two sets of rusty chains drilled into the wall.

“What the hell are those for?” I mumbled as the cellar door slammed shut. We froze. Too scared to turnaround for the fear of what we might discover. There was movement again, and that ominous feeling of someone in the room with us. Indeed now there was shuffling, barely audible over the thumping of my heart – we were way out of our depth.

My torch flickered again, as it did so I noticed another light source from above – it was very feint but it was daylight. As the shuffling grew closer I felt my temporary paralysis ease. Nudging D I inched closer to the light source. As my eyes grew more accustomed to the darkness I could make out a hatch – a hatch that led to freedom.

“Go!” I stammered.

D being more athletic than me leaped up. He made contact with the rotting wood of the hatch and somehow managed to push up and out of it. I saw his legs slide up into freedom and daylight. I reached forward and began to pull myself up, the fresh external air clearing my senses fro the dank below. Just as I thought I would make it something gripped my leg tight. Looking back I could see a hand strong, but pale. It had a vice like grip. Peering into the gloom I could make out a pair of eyes glistening. They were human, but filled with evil intent. I screamed out to D for help put the man with the demon eyes began tugging hard, pulling my leg – just like I’ve been pulling yours for the last five minutes….

Monday, August 21, 2006

Worth The Weight?

I apologise but from today you be charged to read this blog depending on the size of your screen resolution. I will be emailing a handy size guide to all readers to let you know the new charges.

I’m not doing for any real reason other than to rip you off and, perhaps, cash in on the growth of Ebay. If you’d like to complain please contact Royal Mail.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Nikki's Interview BB7 Final

While BB 7 was the last Big Brother I'll watch (I really feel it Jumped The Shark this year - too much producer interferrence...) the whole series was worth it just to see this clip.
Finally the dumb self obsessed bint got her just desserts. Hopefully we'll never hear from her again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cornwall | The Bridge On Wool

Our annual visits to Cornwall are centred around one town. Wadebridge. Wadbridge is the sort of town that makes my hometown of Hereford look like a sprawling metropolis. I have to be honest I could never live in Wadebridge, I’d get bored far too easily. Also, one problem I have with the town is that it’s an expensive place. Unlike most towns Wadebridge has yet to fall victim to High Street Cloning. Apart from it’s large Co-op & Lidl all of the shops are independent. Also there’s only one of each. One electronics shop, one bookshop (if you don’t cant the second hand bookshops) etc. While it means that as a whole the town has a lot of charm it also means there is no competition and thus the retailers don’t need to worry about attracting customers with discounts. Books are expensive, as are DVDs, clothes and electronics. Perhaps there’s something to be said for towns succumbing to the likes of Woolworths, WH Smith, Game and Starbucks.

Spending a week in Wadebridge is nice. The cinema is fantastic – making Hereford’s look pathetic. The sound quality is far superior there are actually two screens (despite a local population being a quarter of the size) and the seats are extremely comfy.

Wadebridge is also famous for its two bridges.

A footbridge called ‘Challenge Bridge’ links the Egloshayle playing fields to the Jubilee fields on the other side of the river. The bridge was constructed by Anneka Rice on "Challenge Anneka". The scary thing is upon cycling past this bridge I could clearly remember the show. Instant childhood memories and a day spent whistling the Challenge Anneka theme.

On a more serious note is the original bridge – “The Bridge On Wool

No one is actually sure if this means that the bridge is actually physically built on sacks of wool as a foundation. What is much more likely is that the bridge was built on the profits of the wool trade. However when the bridge was extended in 1963 some wool was found in one of the core samples taken. The bridge was to become a strategic position in the English Civil War as in 1646 Oliver Cromwell himself came with 500 Dragoons and 1000 horsemen to take the bridge.

I’d recommend a day or two in the town, just wear something florecent as we noticed that the locals do seem to have a bizzare habit of walking into you, or just generally ignoring you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cornwall | Shifting Sands

It’s weird how we humans sometimes just don’t notice things. I’ve now been visiting the Camel Estuary area of Cornwall for the last three years – it’s been the annual holiday destination of my girlfriend since she was young.

Part of the holiday routine is for my girlfriend’s parents to play golf almost daily on the St Enodoc Golf course. Although I have little interest in golf I do admire the stunning scenery in which the course is set. This year as we walked towards the 10th tee I noticed something I have missed on the previous two years visits. There’s a church slap bang in the middle of the course.

OK, that’s not amazing really – but it’s what the ‘mum-in-law’ said that in intrigued me.

“Oh yes, that’s St Enodoc church. It used to buried under the sand.”

What?! Was this part of North Cornwall once ruled by the pharaohs?

Anyway it turns out that in the 18th and 19th century the church fell into disrepair and became almost buried in the sand dunes surrounding it. At that time services were performed once a year only, and the clergyman had to gain entrance through a skylight, made especially for that task.

The building was renovated in 1853 - 1864 The vicar, the Rev. Hart Smith was responsible for restoring the chapel. Prior to restoration, the sands were up to the eastern gable, the building was wet, the pews were covered in mould and worm eaten, bats lived in the belfry.

St Enodoc Church has another claim to fame. It is where John Betjeman, the former poet laureate is buried. Betjeman died in Trebetherick on 19 May, 1984.

So there you go, a small church but a lot of history.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Saviour Of Fistral Beach?

So I’m back from Cornwall. I have lots to write about. Quaint harbour towns, scruffy surfing towns, bridges made from wool and my 2nd favourite UK attraction. My first post vacation blog however, was going to be a rant. You see on Saturday I made the 20 mile trip to Fistral Beach, Newquay to see one of my favourite icons.

Chris Moyles has been a part of my regular day since he first took on the Radio 1 afternoon show in 1998. As a keen hospital radio DJ I admire his knowledge of the industry and the way he broadcasts. As I rarely miss a show I was immensely chuffed to learn he’d be live in Newquay when I was so close. I wasn’t naïve, I knew I wouldn’t get to personally meet him but I had visions of at least being able to see him and hear him. I got neither. The live broadcast was done from a private restaurant – Fistral Blu. (Very nice Noodles in there!) While punters had accesses to downstairs only VIPs could get past the heavies on the stairs to where Moyles was actually broadcasting from.

We got right up close to the building, we could even see the mixing desk and a blurry shadow of Moyles through the window but unless you had a Walkman you couldn’t hear the show. So much for ‘joining Moyles live on the beach’ the week-long advertising blitz had promised.

We left barely 15 mins into the show when we realised that we’d been conned. Today though, Aled Jones one of the producers at Radio 1 (whom we did see!) released this statement.

I've started to see some of the comments coming in talking about the way the
show was done on Saturday. To anyone who wasn't there, we did the show (as
planned) inside a restaurant which meant the beach weren't able to hear us and
we've had some comments from the people waiting outside that they were
disappointed that they couldn't hear the show. If you were there on Saturday and
wanted to hear the show - I'd like to apologise on behalf of the show. This is
what happened. Like you, we assumed we would be able to put some speakers
outside the restaurant so that if you were on the beach you'd hear the show.
When we got there the organisers asked us not to do this saying it would
conflict with the tannoy system they were using as a way of communicating with
the surfers taking part in the competition. We had SUCH a good time in Newquay
that we would love to go back some day. If we do, we'll definitely co-ordinate
things better with the organisers so that the beach will be able to hear the
show next time.

It makes a refreshing change to have an open apology. Obviously there were a lot of disappointed fans. Still it was worth it to see some great surfboarding (even though the waves were tiny) and to be able to picture the scene Moyles sets when I finally got to hear the show…