Monday, August 28, 2006

Children's Names

If I'd been born a girl, I would have been called Claire Louise. So, fortunately, I was born a boy, because obviously my name is so much better than that...

I mention this because of the conversation I had with Steve Barkess at the weekend. It turns out that in the 20 years since I last saw him, he has, amongst other things, got married and had kids. And he's named his kids (both boys) Akira and Ulysses. Which I'm sure will delight them in later life.

Fabulous names. Not sure they'd be my choice, although I am warming to calling a child Akira, but fabulous names nonetheless. I think I'll stick with Jack & Edie should I ever have children.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Surprisingly Busy Week

It's the weekend already? Wow. So, I went to the quiz in the Mucky Pup on Wednesday with Hanson, his wife Ally (and their dog Rolex) and Jamie who'd been with us the previous week. Having only been in there once before I was surprised to be recognised by the barstaff (who remembered my love of Quavers) and the quiz hosts.

The quiz went okay - we came fifth, but finished strongly having been a long way back at half-time - but not as well as we'd hoped. The marathon round this week was the Top 30 Pub Names in England (not including chain pubs) and we did pretty badly in that, which hampered us overall. Next week, I'm assured, the photo round will return, so less chance of other people displaying their Google-Fu skills.

Thursday. Now what the hell happened on Thursday....oh yes, football. I half watched Newcastle draw nil-nil in the UEFA Cup Qualifying Round on Channel 5. The most one-sided goalless game I think you'd ever see. Still, Newcastle are now in the UEFA Cup "proper" and will be playing some side from the Baltic states in a couple of weeks.

Friday. After a day of demolishing walls at work, at least one of which was demolished accidentally - followed by a hasty rebuild of one of the servers and the network - I decided going to the pub would be a very good idea. So I met my flatmate Jane in our local and had a few pints. Then, just as we were leaving, Matt & Giles appeared, so I went back in for another pint.

I went back in - even though I was already on my way home - because Giles dropped the following bombshell on me: Sophia is pregnant! That man is having the most expensive 12months of his life. First he buys a house that needs lots of work doing to it, then he gets married, then his wife gets pregnant within 9 months of starting her new job so doesn't get more than statutory maternity pay. Still, congratulations.

Today, I'm off to Islington again, to meet up with a guy I used to go to school with, who I haven't seen for about 20 years. As we're males, we had a brief email conversation (one mail each) where we swapped numbers, and a text message conversation (two texts each) where we arranged to meet for beers. I have no single clue what he's been up to for the past two decades, and, by the end of this evening, I may still be none the wiser.

It will be interesting to see if I can recognise him when he walks in the bar, as I've failed to ask him if he looks much different (you know, bald, fat, lost a leg in a skiing accident, has tattoos of religious iconography all over his face, that sort of thing). I've looked back over some photos taken from 1987-8 and apart from being slightly fatter and more depressed looking, I don't think I've changed much, so let's see if he recognises me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So Childish. So Very Very Childish.

That made me snort coffee out of my nose.

Monday, August 21, 2006

This is me, hiding behind Ryan (who really doesn't look normal in this photo) the night before Rachel & Adam's wedding.

I look like Meatloaf. Or Silent Bob. Or Jack Black. Or a complete dick, depending on your point of view.

Please feel free to add your own suggestions of who I look like in the comments.

Oh, and I did shave before attending the wedding. Just so you know.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Farewell To Builders.

I *hope* that we've seen the last of the builders who have spent the past four weeks buggering about repairing/repainting our windows. It was driving us both mad. I hated not having curtains up - which meant I woke up when the sun came up - or not being able to get into my bed because I'd had to move everything else away from the windows. Jane hated, well, all of it, as she had to put up with the majority of it as I was at work.

The thing she hated most of all, however, was the omni-present landlady who is quite, quite mad. Now, tell me if you think this is odd. She came into the house while we were both out and while she was "inspecting the work", managed to break a glass that had been left on the floor, then rang the builders to shout at them ON OUR PHONE. So, at our expense, she's rung to shout at the builders, who now have our phone number should they want to ring back and shout at her.


At no point in the four weeks of disruption has she even mentioned giving us a bit of a discount on the rent, even though we've essentially been unable to fully use the flat for a month. I've tried talking to her about it, but she just ignores what I'm saying and then complains about how much of a disruption the builders have made to her life!

I feel more sorry for the guy who lives downstairs from us though, as in his contract it states that for up to two weeks a year he has to let her gain access to his flat to use the bathroom and the kitchen. Since January I'm fairly sure she's been here for 5 or 6 weeks, and at no point in that time has she offered him any money towards his bills - even though she's been using his kitchen.

The problem, it seems to me, is that she claims this used to be her family home but doesn't seem to realise that it now isn't. So she waltzes into our flat when she feels like it - despite our contract being the normal one where it says the landlord should inform you a day before etc - and now seems to feel justified in using our phone should she need to. I think I might put a bolt on the door, so we can stop her wandering in when we're here. Just need to work out a way of stopping her from coming in when we're out.

If anyone has any ideas, please tell me!

Shameful Taste In Music

I have a bit of an eclectic taste in music, but I am aware that some of the CDs I own I really shouldn't. Now some of these I can, justifiably, claim as having originally belonged to my ex-wife: Robbie Williams, I'm looking at you here.

Some were from a music club thing that sent the "Album of the Month" to you if you didn't tell them you didn't want it. I think that lets me off "Three Sides To Every Story" by Extreme, "Introspective" by the Pet Shop Boys and "Bat out of Hell II" by Meatloaf. I'm also going to claim "Journeyman" by Eric Clapton under this ruling, as it is from that time (1989-90) and I have no clue how or why I have it.

Which leaves me with the following worrying examples; Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut; Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love" and, depressingly; Deacon Blue's "When the Whole World Knows Your Name". I say depressingly as it's not even the "greatest" Deacon Blue album (surely "Raintown") and I have the "best" song off it ("Wages Day") as a CD Single anyway.

I think, however, that my secret shame, my guilty pleasure bought in the full knowledge that I knew what it was, is "Riptide" by Robert Palmer. Okay, I'll admit it: I like the album. I don't play it very often, but I do like it.

Please feel free to add your secret shame in the comments.

Friday, August 18, 2006

11 H & S in the CSR for FC

My friend Hanson (not his real name, just an unfortunate similarity) found a fantastic pub quiz in Islington. Handily, it's also in a fantastic pub, the "Mucky Pup" just off Essex Road. We like Islington as it's inconvenient for both of us.

There was a free jukebox the evening we were there, and there was the widest selection of music on it I think I've ever seen: John Otway, Captain Beefheart, Sex Pistols, Jam, modern stuff etc. The food was excellent, and there was a reasonably wide selection if you aren't vegetarian, and just the one if you are.

The quiz, however, was the highlight for us. Just the most bizarre rounds (the specialist rounds this week were "Ghosts" and "British Comedy") mixed in with the more usual "General Knowledge" and an infuriating "Music" round - where you get short clips of songs and have to identify them. There was also a "Marathon" round which is apparently a picture round that you have the whole length of the quiz to complete, but this week was slightly more obscure.

Basically, the first "question" was "13 L in a BD" and you had to work out this meant, 13 LOAVES in a BAKER'S DOZEN. There were more - 30 in all - but the one that took us the longest to work out was the title to this post, "11 H & S in the CSR for FC". Hanson, bless him, got it eventually - although I have no idea how. I'll put the answer on the comments page so you can have a think about that, without going mad for the lack of closure.

And, certain people (yes, you) may be interested to know that they don't have any TV screens, so they don't show any football, or indeed, anything. A round of two Guinnesses and two IPAs came to about £11, which I don't think is too bad. And the food, wow. I'll not go on about it, as I've noticed I have a tendancy to talk about food a lot.

So, if anyone is in the Islington area next week, may I suggest you come down and join the quizzers? There's a fair chance the picture round will be back, and it's guaranteed that the specialist rounds will have changed. Quiz starts 8.30pm.

Used To Be A Comedian, Now A Chef.

There used to be a time - about three or four years ago - when people I didn't know used to come up to me and ask me if I was a comedian. Most memorably, I was in a pub in Beckenham with Gee & Vix when a lady on the next table leaned over and said "Are you some sort of comedian", to which I replied "Where I come from, that's an invitation for a fight, but it's okay, I've moved". Hilarity then failed to ensue.

This happened about seven or eight times over the course of a year and initially I thought I must be amusing, then I thought, "maybe they think I'm a cross between Ross Noble and Johnny Vegas" (who, as an aside, was an answer in a pub quiz I went to on Wednesday).

Anyhoo, it's been a while since anyone has accused me of being a comedian. Probably because I've stopped being funny or something. Increasingly though, I'm being accused of being a chef. This first happened at my brother's birthday BBQ and most recently at Adam & Rachel's wedding.

I don't think I have a chef's "look" - I don't wear checked trousers, white jacket or have a teatowel hanging from my belt loops - so I think it must be because I talk about food quite a lot: what I've cooked recently, what recipes I like, ways of cooking things that are a bit different etc. And I'm sure people look at me and think "he must be a chef, there's no other way he could know how to cook stuff like cous cous".

So, I'm wondering, does anyone else get asked/accused of working in a particular field? Do you look like a copper? Have you the voice of a teacher? Do you dress like the landed gentry? Do you smell of fish?

The Films Of Kevin Smith

If anyone is in the least bit interested - and I have a feeling Jim won't be - the "new edition" DVD of "Mallrats" is available in ASDA for £5. Which I think is a bit of a result. I got the 10th Anniversary double-DVD of "Clerks" from Fopp a couple of weeks back for £9, so I'm just looking for "Chasing Amy" at a similarly bargain rate and I'll be delighted.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another Erosion Of Liberty

Following on from previous posts, I'm "delighted" to report that the police are now pushing to seek the authority to punish people without going to court. One of the few "rights" of the people since the Magna Carta, now on the verge of being removed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's Nearly 2 Years.

In a week or so, it'll be the second anniversary of the murder of Tom Brown. As of writing, no one has been charged with his murder.

I'd known Tom since he first came into the bar I used to run, the Summer before he started University, over 10 years ago. Others have written more eloquent texts about Tom, and many, many others have been outraged that such a peaceable man would be murdered in cold blood within yards of his home - but these are my thoughts.

Tom was, without doubt, one of the most intelligent people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. It angers me intensely that as placid a man as Tom would be stabbed repeatedly and left to die alone on a pavement.

His lack of defensive wounds was not a surprise, as he used to walk with his hands in his pockets, and he would've tried to talk someone out of attacking him without raising his own hands. The fact that his mobile hadn't been stolen was a surprise however, as it makes the attack even more motiveless, even more random.

Despite the murder report being broadcast all over the BBC (where he worked) and the national newspapers on the day it happened - and on that month's "Crimewatch" - we are still waiting to find out who killed Tom, and why.

There are plans to keep Tom's birthday as a memorial day for him. We went out last year and celebrated it for him, and we shall be doing the same again this year. I'll post the exact details when I have them.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Not A Glorious Newcastle Win, But A Win.

Bit of a scary start to our UEFA Cup Qualifying, as we could have gone a goal or two down early in the first half, had the Latvians actually managed to convert their relatively easy chances. But we dragged it out to half time without conceding and did have a spell of overall authority where we should have scored ourselves.

Second half it was pretty much the same, but we did manage to grab a goal. Titus Bramble - the man who scored the goal against Chelsea on the last day of the season to guarantee us European football this season - popped up to hammer a header past the Latvian 'keeper from a Duff corner. A crucial away goal coupled with a clean sheet (which is always a novelty).

More interesting for me, no Jean-Alain Boumsong or Albert Luque. Which does mean that they're not cup-tied for European competition, and could mean that they're likely to be sold in the next couple of weeks. We really could do with another striker as a matter of some urgency and ideally a world class centre-half.

This Weekend.

Once again, I'll be out of London tonight and all day tomorrow. I'm off to Solihull for the wedding of Rachael and Adam. I'm then coming back down to London on Sunday and heading straight off to Lianna's birthday in Regents Park.

My phone, therefore, will be off during the day tomorrow, and as I'm currently out of credit, I won't be able to call or text back anyone who leaves me a message. I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't organised getting more credit.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Police Look For Human Remains

According to Radio 5 this morning, they were making a fingertip search. Why they're not looking for the rest of the body parts, I don't know.

Removing Freedom to Increase Security

Mr Reid said the "challenge to all of us" means "we may have to modify some of our freedoms in the short-term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy our freedoms and values in the long-term".

In short, Mr Reid is asking British society to start thinking about a new settlement where we "evolve" our thinking to deal with the increased terrorist threat, an evolution that leads to some of our freedoms being sacrificed.

He fails to mention which freedoms specifically will be sacrificed, or how long this "short-term" hardship will be for. Or whether this will lead to Tony Blair being installed as a permanent Head Of State, the other parties being disbanded and Muslims being barcoded, for, you know, "security reasons".

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Spam Of The Month (Thus Far)

Received today: "Enjoy the confidence of more explosive ejaculations"

I'm slightly confused about where the emphasis is on this statement. Am I going to have a greater number of explosive ejaculations, or am I to have ejaculations that will be more explosive? To be honest, I really don't want to find out.

But thank you,, for this offer. Interesting domain name you got there. Were all the ones you wanted taken?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Surprise Racists.

There's a guy I work with. Well, I work, he kinda sits around creating forms for us to fill in and then asking stupid questions. Anyway, he's relatively new to the company, so I didn't know that much about him until today - when I discovered he was a racist.

What I had already found out was that either his grandfather or great-grandfather was in the SS (I forget which). I found that out when I said "yeah, people probably said that about Hitler" in response to a comment about someone seeming a nice bloke. New boy (who ironically enough I'd dubbed the Ginger Hitler from when he started) then pipes up with "no, my nan told me that he had an evil presence". He then followed that up with the revelation about one of his ancestors being a Nazi.

Thinking about it, I shouldn't really have been surprised to discover he was a racist, but you'd like to think that in this day and age someone who is in his early 20's and had been to University wouldn't have those sort of opinions. Still, at least this means I can now think up ways of getting him sacked with a clear conscience.

Friday, August 04, 2006

In Related News

The much publicised e-passport - mentioned here in an earlier post - has already been hacked. Which does render it somewhat pointless, in my opinion, as it was supposed to be a more secure version of the current passport.,71521-0.html?tw=rss.index

I particularly like the description of the whole design being "totally brain damaged".

ID Cards.

I note that on here Tony Blair is quoted as saying that ID Cards will be "a major plank" of Labour's next election manifesto.

The major plank, I would suggest, is Tony Blair.

Instantly Disliking People.

A girl I knew many years ago had a theory that people you took an instant dislike to were people who had been unpleasant to you in a past life. Which is an interesting theory, but not one I'm necessarily going to subscribe to. I mention it only as an introduction to what happened to me last night.

I went to the CAMRA Beer Festival at Earl's Court to meet up with my flatmate and some people she'd gone with. By the time I'd got there - after work, and a 45min queue to get in - there was only her and this guy Steev. And yes, I have typed that right, he's called Steev. Not Steve. Steev.

Anyhoo, we meet up and it's obvious that they've been enjoying the festival for a while. No problem in that, and I would've been the same had they arrived after me. So we wander around looking for a couple of specific stands they wanted to check out. After we'd been to two of them, I realised that the stands were based on areas of the country and I mentioned I wanted to go and look for the Newcastle one - seeing as I'm from there.

Steev then tells me that it's probably not got it's own section, but it would probably be in either the North-West section or the Liverpool section.... I point out that Newcastle is on the East coast and nowhere near Liverpool. He then does the standard "well it's outside the M25, so who cares?" and tells me that his accent is "educated" unlike Northerners'. So educated that he's clueless about the geography of Great Britain apparently, but never mind, he has got "an IQ of 150". Also, handily, he mentions he hasn't seen any "Newky Brown".

As an aside, I HATE the phrase "Newky Brown" being used by anyone from outside of Newcastle - and I'm non too fond of people from Newcastle using it either. Newquay (the homonym) is in Cornwall, Newcastle isn't. We don't call London Pride "Lundy Pride" do we? No, and you know why? Lundy is somewhere fucking else, you geographically challenged bastards.

So, as you're probably guessing, I'm taking a dislike to him. While I'm thinking about pouring my beer over his head and glassing him in the neck, I decide that this would probably look like an over reaction, so decide to walk away from him. I inform Jane of this, and tell her I'm going to find the Newcastle beers.

About 20mins later I get a call from Steev asking me if I know where Jane is. I tell him when I left, he was standing right next to her. He then says "no, you were standing next to her when I left". At which point I begin to realise that he's probably taken a complete dislike of me and wandered off at pretty much exactly the same time.

Maybe we have both known each other in a previous life. Or maybe we're both as big a twat as each other.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Some Adverts I Have Issues With.

1. The Yellow Pages Adverts.

Well, it's mainly* just the one where while James Nesbitt is ringing up for car insurance on his 2-seater, his bird chips in and mentions the fact she's pregnant. After spending some time trying to fit a car seat in - and failing - he rings Yellow Pages back up and asks them for a quote on a people carrier.

Yeah, right. If he's so proud of his car as the advert makes out, surely he should have been ringing up and getting the number of a local abortionist?

(* That said, the one where his neice presses one button on his newly set-up PC and it magically comes on, connects to the internet and loads the Yellow Pages website instan-fucking-taneously also got right on my tits.)

2. Skittles - Taste The Rainbow.

This whole campaign is about taking LSD isn't it? Or am I missing something?

3. Picture Loans.

There's a bloke and his partner getting a loan off Picture. They own their own house and he's more bothered about what's happening with the weather than remembering how much the loan was supposed to be for. But the thing that bothers me isn't the acting or the forced dialogue.

No. It's the fact that she's videoing him. On the phone. To a loan company. I mean, why? How fucking sad would you have to be to video your own partner in your own house, while they're wearing clothes?

And, if you stopped buying shit like a video camera that you use exclusively for remembering what your partner looks like on the phone, then you wouldn't need the frigging loan in the first place.

4. Speed Limit Advert

The one where the kid starts coming back to life after being dead at the base of a tree. I actually like the rather graphic nature of the advert - especially the noise of her bones snapping back into place. The thing that gets me is the way the end of it sounds like a challenge:

"If you hit me at 30, there's an 80% chance I'll live."

Now them's good odds. So what you're saying is, if I happen to be going at 40mph when you step into the road, I don't actually have to stop or try to avoid you anymore? I just have to slow down to 30mph, plough straight into you and 4 times out of 5, the worst I can expect is a mild rebuke from the police? Brilliant! Cheers for that information.

5. Sky Scaremongering About Fake Sky Boxes.

I know that these are probably a scam, but that's not the reason I HATE these adverts. No. It's something about the very mentality of the adverts and how they choose where to show them that annoys me the most.

Firstly, if you hadn't seen the adverts, would you have known about the "fake box scam"? I would suggest you are unlikely to have heard anything about it. But now you ARE aware of the fact you can buy a box that might work and you don't have to pay Rupert Murdoch ANY MONEY WHATSOEVER, aren't you now just a bit more likely to hunt one down? I would suggest you are. Because there's nothing more enjoyable than depriving an Aussie billionaire of £50 a month, is there?

Secondly, even if you accept that Sky are right for warning people, would you think that having the advert on Sky's subscription channels was a good idea? Because if you've already got a real Sky box, then you're fairly unlikely to want a fake one. If you've got a fake one and can still see the adverts, then yours is working just fine and their advert is lying to you.

6. National Savings Bonds.

Sir Alan Sugar believes in them so much that he's donating his fee to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Which doesn't scan. In the same way that "I believe in the power of Cilit Bang so much, I'm chasing women with a cleaver" doesn't really work.

But anyway, that's not the problem. It's that he's giving money to a hospital by way of a charitable donation. Wasn't the idea of the NHS that hospitals would be funded centrally and didn't have to rely on charity? And, if people with as much money as Sir Alan Sugar were taxed effectively and at an appropriate (ie much higher) rate, the NHS could be funded properly.


Is it just me, or is "Is It Just Me, Or Is Everything Shit?" just a bit, well, shit?

There's lots of things in it, not looked into with much depth and done over in a reasonably funny style, but that's about it. In many ways, it's very similar to a blog - okay, very similar in style to my blog, and I know I'm dissing myself here - and that's kind of depressing.

It's like there's a presupposing that because you've bought the book you sort of agree that everything IS a bit shit now, so there's no real need to persuade you any further. And nothing at all to tell you that you're wrong. That, for me, would have been a better book. Some myths exposed, some reasons given, and a bit of ranting at celebrities/crap TV programmes just to keep the pretence up.

But no. And they've sold it by the skipload. So, in a similar vein, here's a post about adverts.

Sorry For The Lack Of New Posts Recently.

The builders are in at my flat doing something to the windows. It has taken 7 days so far and looks like continuing until at least the end of the week. During this time, all furniture that was near the windows is piled up in the middle of the room.

Which means my PC isn't terribly easy to get to and I really should get a laptop.

There will be more ranting at pointless things (like "Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit?", but with slightly less of a left-wing slant) when the builders have finished.

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