Category Archives: entertainment

Hello World

My blog today will be aimed at 2 groups of people, those who are new and those who have been here for a while. Allow me to explain.

To those new people who have found me through my article on Bucket List Publications I would like to say a big hello. Please feel free to sample the menu of topics on the blog. Here are a few of my recommended morsels…

1. A travel(ish) post. Up in the sky

I hate easyjet

2. A music blog. I’m with the band

the god damn disasters

3. A little geek chic. Why Star Trek is cool

spock massage

And for pudding, try a little rant. An open letter to my neighbors

If you still have a little room left, have a browse of the Squidge elf website. It’s all about the main character in my Christmas books and is filled with games, puzzles and even teaching ideas. www.squidgeelf.com

squidge elf

For those who are regulars in these parts, Howdy. I recently submitted an article to an online magazine with a pretty big readership. My article has been published and I’ve even been called a featured writer. Check it out whydon’tcha

My very clever article all about London link

East London the camel e2

I hope you liked the 2 for 1 ness of the blog today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Lazy picture blog (on an Olympic theme)

So here it is, after weeks of moaning I finally made it to the Olympic park. I took lots of pictures and enjoyed the day immensely.

We took in the sights, atmosphere and overall Olympicness of it all. Enjoy my lazy blog.

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Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Not very me

I bought some new shoes the other day, it took absolutely ages to find some I liked,  and even when I was walking away I wasn’t 100% about them. I got home, took out my new purchase (looking for some validation or confirmation about them) and my wife said that they were not very me. Why not? Yes, they are very different to my usual trainers, I admitted. I then decided on the only logical course of action.
Taking them back.

So what does my style mean? I don’t mean in a fashion sense, or even in an identity way. Why have I suddenly started buying the same stuff? I think the answer is simple… I haven’t. There was no sudden change, it’s a mixture of the following.

A) Laziness. I have developed my style over many years and via many massive fashion errors (massive). Why bother to try something new when my track record is that bad? I just go into the shop and look for Adidas shell toes or some form of chunky skate shoe, it’s what I’ve done for the last 10 years. I wear band T-shirts and baggy jeans, again something I’ve done for a good few years. It’s just…

B) Comfortable. Not just metaphorically but literally. Have you ever worn a pair of chunky skate shoes? It’s like wearing slippers. I also like to associate myself with great bands that I love to listen to, it’s what I do. Or maybe…

C) I’m unable to process anything new. I think Homer said it best,
“Every time I learn something new, it pushes something old out of my brain.”
I quite like what’s in my brain thanks, no need for a remake.

Does having a style mean you are one of a kind? Individual? Unique? I thought so when I purchased my new phone cover. It made the back of my iPhone look like a Gameboy. I went to the pub, proudly put it on the table and waited for the wonderful comments congratulating me on an awesome choice. What I got was my friend Rob pulling out his phone and waving the exact same cover at me, proving that I am not as individual as I would like to believe. I can also guarantee that most of my friends from home own a grey hoodie (as do I) and skate shoes. Myself and Rob even have the same hat preferences!

I wonder if I look like an old guy to the kids, if they look at me the same way I looked at the man in the denim jacket with band patches sewn on them? And do I, like that rock dude, care that much about it? Has my style defined my age or is my age defining my style?

heavy metal denim jackets

The other side of the coin would be what I would look like if I was 30 and followed every trend? Would that be better or worse? Would I be the guy in the room trying desperately to fit in? Hey kids, I’m one of you!

My main concern though is this… Will they still make my style of clothes and shoes in 20 years time? Will Marks and Spencer stock Etnes or DC’s? Will I be wearing baggy jeans with an elasticated waist band. Will I care by then?

Enjoy your weekend. I’m off to take my trainers back.

They are not very me.

Lots of questions this week.  Send any answers on a postcard to http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Clearing out my head

I had a clear out of my ideas today. This sounds a bit odd I know but hear me out and I shall explain.

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I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night (this could be because of bad dreams, my wife kicking me or my son falling out of bed) and I will have an idea for a blog. At this point I have two options a) think about it and stay awake or b) write it down and go to sleep. Easy choice right? Wrong. If I do go for option b then the chances are I will wake my wife with the glow of my iPhone (I don’t actually write, I type it down) or I have to go and sit in the en-suite on the cold loo lid. I panic though that my idea will be forgotten by the morning and so generally do the second option and risk the wrath.

So my drafts folder was pretty chockablock with ideas and I figured it was time for a clear out. I found the majority fit into one or all of the following categories, here in lost form for a change.

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1) Completed, yet over the line. Things like the blog I wrote having a go at people for telling me what’s best for me. I wrote a ranty (not a real word I know) blog about people who had told us it was better not to find out the sex of our unborn child. The problems I had were that a) we wanted to know and b) we didn’t get to know. It was very frustrating and was compounded by the, “it’s better not to find out” ers. My blog was a little over the line and so deleted. Some people who said that would have seen the comedy in it, others not so much. I have written and deleted many blogs of this type. I am a grumpy old (before my time) man. Grrrrr.

2) Stupid ideas. Sometimes I come up with a genius idea for a blog (at 4 in the morning) and then read it back and wonder what on earth I was talking about. I ramble enough at you guys without inflicting upon you my really weird stuff. Other times they just go off on a tangent so wide that I spend half the time explaining what I mean. That is neither entertaining nor funny. To be fair though I am a big believer that there are two types of stupid ideas 1) those that benefit from being stupid and are intelligent because of it and 2) those that are just stupid. I leave that judgement in your hands most days but do try to employ some sort of filtering system.

homers brain bart simpson
3)Time specific. Mine are mostly about sport or current London events. The problem is the lack of ideas about such a thing or things. One good line does not a blog make. Other times I just get bored with what I am writing. I wrote a really great one about the Euro 2012 and then got despondent because we (England) got knocked out, I just didn’t have the heart to finish it. By the time I came back to it, it was about as relevant as a referencing a contestant from any reality TV show that finished more than a month ago. No one cares about it or wants to remember it.

big brother ex stars

I feel a little sad every time I delete one. I wonder what they could have been. Maybe one held the key to immortality by being picked up by the national press, one could have been seen by a famous big wig and started something that helped promote my books or maybe, just maybe, it could have made someone smile or giggle.

Maybe I should start a website for discarded blogs. Somewhere that they can go to good use. Somewhere that might make a person’s lips curl up and eyes widen in that glorious way. Maybe.

As always, feel free to share the blog. If you put this www.andrewauthor.com as your Facebook status it comes with a nifty little picture. It also helps a fairy get it wings.

Enjoy your weekend.
tinkerbell hook julia robertsDisclaimer: Andrew Thomas is in no way affiliated with the fairy society, the fraternity of fairy wings nor the school for fairy flight. The views in this blog are the authors alone and not those of any fairy or fairy based club, society or group. Sharing this website will in no way help a fairy get its wings.

 

 

 

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London 2012 and all that

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I would have loved to have done a blog all about the Olympic village, the amazing atmosphere and the buzz of the events, but I can’t. I didn’t go. I did a few very silly things in the long and arduous run up to the Olympics and so guaranteed myself zero tickets. A fact that I now regret and thought that I was over, until this morning. Here we go…

1) I didn’t go in for the draw. Way back when, the Olympics seemed to be a real pain in the bum for those of us who live in East London. Our tax would have to fund (and continue to fund long after the flame had moved on) the new stadia of various shapes and sizes. These stadia were also under scrutiny around who would get them after. The ticketing system seemed unfair and the general feeling amongst us was that they would never sell all the tickets and they would eventually go for cheap. That was mistake number 1. The ticketing was a nightmare, and I really didn’t want to end up with synchronised swimming tickets. What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that it got me onto the village or that the village tickets would disappear the day they came out. As I said, mistake number 1.

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2) I booked a holiday in the first week of the Olympics. So the tickets did go back on sale thanks to the media coverage of empty seats. The problem with this was that I was in a caravan in Great Yarmouth (check out last week’s blog if you’re interested; don’t bother if you’re not). The tickets were still on sale when I got back but they were now in huge demand as the quarter finals and up had already started by this point so they were a) in demand and b) bloody expensive. I did try to get tickets, but all for nothing.

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3) Every other person seemed to go. Facebook and texts have been mocking me. Not in a horrible way but due to the fact that many of my friends status updates and messages have been about how great the park is and all the different coloured Olympic flags they have had the time to wander round and take. Even my Dad got a free ticket from his company, a company he retired from months ago! Just when I thought it was safe someone else would pop up with a, “lovin the park, it’s the most amazing thing in the world ever!!!!”

This though was to be topped by something far worse…

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4) I don’t have a Visa Barclay card. Just when I thought that was it, when no more needles could be inserted into my now paper thin skin, one of my old university friends posted that he had won tickets to the games. It looks to be VIP and all that (I haven’t been able to ask as he is in the middle of it) and he has amazing seats for all the events he gets to see. The problem is that he is a nice guy so I can’t begrudge him his good fortune. This is him below by the way, smug so and so.

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So that’s it. Gutted. I tried to get tickets most nights and early mornings this week but the website is a joke. Why did I think I was over it until this morning? As I came into the living room this morning my wife greeted me with an email from the borough (one of those blanket sign up for thingies) saying that they were giving away free park passes to residents. They had a thousand to give out and would do so at 9am. I chucked on some clothes, jumped in the car, parked very illegally and ran to get in the queue. 6 tickets per household, who would I ask? The queue went from the council building all the way round the block. I counted at least 800 folks queuing and I don’t reckon on any of them asking for less than the full quota of 6. As I walked past the front of the queue back to my car some horrid chav of a women (surrounded by all her chavy mates) shouted, “Look another casualty of the queue, hospitals up the road darling.” I did the only thing I could, the thing that I have been doing on face book and texts the last two weeks… I walked away without a word.

NB. It has come to my attention that I might be able to get Paralympic tickets. The nice bloke who won the tickets told me. What a nice bloke.

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Carry on camping

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So I’m staying in a caravan this week. A caravan on a caravan park. This is one reason why I’d never make a good travel writer, my lack of travel.

It’s our annual week away with the family (usually spent in centre parcs) and we have decided to come to Great Yarmouth.

I must admit to being a bit trepidatious about doing the caravan thing. It was partly to do with a change of scenery and partly to save money for the imminent arrival of child number 2. We also liked the idea of doing whatever we wanted and being allowed off site, as Center Parcs is harder to leave than a maximum security prison and harder to get into than the Olympic village. When there last year we asked some friends if they wanted to come and visit. Center Parcs wanted 50 quid for the pleasure. I’m not saying its not worth the money, but I am saying we wanted the same as Mel Gibson in Braveheart… Freedom!

So me, my son, my wife, her sister, her sisters husband and her sister and her husbands 2 kids are all sharing the same caravan. It’s one of those massive static ones, but space is still at a premium. So far, so good. Why so good? Here comes the list…

1) We are all together. Every year our family come over from Saudi Arabia. They live there in the ex-pat community and get the summer off to visit with their various families. Before the birth of our boy they used to stay with us, since then we don’t really have the space. It’s nice to all be together for a prolonged period of time, sitting around, doing as little or as much as we want. Its trying to make up for a year of not seeing each other by having a concentrated dose. Potent but effective (in the nicest possible way).

2) We have the big room. The upside to this is all the storage, the down side is we have to share it with the boy. The small rooms hardly have enough space to walk between the beds, let alone put a ready bed (a blow up mini bed with the duvet attached) between them. No one has complained yet, I think they are worries that we might give them the big room, 2 year old child included!

3) My nieces look after my son. This one speaks for itself. They chase after, get ordered around by, play with and generally entertain him. It’s a 2 way street though as they get some great video footage of his antics to show their friends back home. He loves it, they love it, me and my wife LOVE it!

4) The facilities. They have a bar and a pizza place. And some stuff for the kids I ‘spose. Soft play and a pool if it rains, a park and the beach if not. They are all in good working order and have all been enjoyed by the younger among us. To be honest, I absolutely love the ball pool and will jump in it whenever it is quiet and empty enough to stop me squashing a small child. My son thinks this is hilarious (my nieces have footage of this as well).

So there you have it. Would I caravan again? Probably not. Not that it’s not fun but we’ve had our break from the maximum security wonderment that is Center Parcs and am eager to go back. It’s like ordering Chinese food, you may try something new every now and again but you always go back to your favourite. Haven holiday park and campsite has been a nice bit of lemon chicken, but next time I’ll order the sweet and sour.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and feel free to share this post.

All pictures were taken on site at Haven, Caister-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth.

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He’s just a rascal.

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In true British fashion I expected the opening ceremony to be awful. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong. The ceremony was funny, interesting, spectacular and above all else culturally relevant. Where did this cultural relevance come? One man, Mr Dizzee Rascal.

Before the ceremony began the BBC did a very lengthy build up. Veeeery lengthy. It included a picture/video montage, another look at the torch relay, a chat to Olympic champions, yet another look at the torch relay and lots of pundits filling time. All of this was nice. What was great was the Dizzee Rascal segment.

Mr Rascal took us around east London and spoke very passionately about the area. He shared where he grew up (a council estate in Bow) and chatted to the people he met, some young and some old. It felt very real, not contrived or a show. He spoke about the diversity of London with pride and actually brought a lump to my throat.

Having lived in Bethnal Green and Bow for the better part of a decade I also agree that the Olympics has gone to a part of London that really needs it. The regeneration of the area has been huge and the investment by the council massive. I may not agree with where all the money has gone but it has gone on the local area.

I’ll put up with the Olympic lanes, the closing off of my local park, the massive influx of tourists and not being able to use the public transport system, all because of the words of a grime rapper from Bow. His pride in this area (the jacket he wore onstage at the opening ceremony had E3 stitched on it, our local postal code), the way he speaks about London and his love of all things ethically and culturally diverse in our great city.

London has an effect on people. I was not born here but I feel that it is my city and I couldn’t be prouder. I know loads of people who feel the same.

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A God Damn Disaster?

It had all the makings of a great night.

1) Son dropped off at parents. Check.
2) Meeting friends and Sis at a pub. Check
3) Friends band playing an awesome venue. Check.
4) Bowling alley booked. Check.
5) karaoke booth NOT booked. Check.

And it didn’t disappoint.

The first sign of a good night in the making was that we walked into the pub about 20 seconds before our friends Alex and April. We sat, we chatted, we had drinks and we waited for my little sister to show. This was the second sign of a good night as my sister was only 15 minutes late. So we sat drinking, chatting and having a laugh without having to do that sly looking out of the corner of your eye thing, while hoping the person you are talking to doesn’t notice,  while waiting for someone who hasn’t shown up yet to show.

We strolled up to Bloomsbury bowling and walked straight in. No cover charge for us (as we were bowling), no queue and it was the same story at the bar. The fun part was walking past the karaoke booths and trying to guess what the drunken groups of girls (stereotypical I know, but true) were singing and watching the dance moves. Some of them were really going for it.

So far, so good.

We then went to the diner part and ordered food and then the band we had come to see started to play. Bad. The diner table had a direct view of the stage and the audio was being pumped throughout the venue, Back on track! Even better than that was the fact that the bowling alley we had booked was as close to the stage as you could get.

The band themselves were great. A mixture of guitar twanging, drum thumping, bass pounding Rockabilly originals and unique covers.   The lead singer interacted well with the audience through both his banter and rockabilly growling tones, the double bass filled the stage with both its size and sound (and was expertly played), the rhythm guitar was driving and didn’t falter and the drums were a skillful mix of background metronome and foreground fills (and even a solo).

Better than all this though was the fact that I was winning the bowling.

Next on stage was a burlesque act. I shall say very little about them due to the fact that some of my students may read this. They did what all burlesque acts do and did it very well.

Our great night ended with 2 wonderful things. A) we caught the last train home and B) there was still a slice of pizza left in the fridge. Spot on.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Never have I ever…

When at university I used to play a game. This game was called Never Have I Ever. It was a simple game that allowed you to stitch your mates up and find out embarrassing secrets about the people at your table. It never occurred to me to lie in this game, I would lay all my sins out on the table, face down, waiting for someone to say a never have I ever that would make me lift my metaphorical cards and show them. The rules of the game are as follows…

1) Someone says something like, “never have I ever blamed someone for something that I did.”

2) If you have done that then you need to drink.

3) If you don’t drink and someone at the table can give you an instance when you have done it then you finish your drink.

This memory came flooding back this week with the kids I teach. Don’t worry, we weren’t playing drinking games (something frowned upon when in charge of a class of 30 ten year olds) but instead it has been a week of lies and omissions.

It struck me that I put a great deal of trust in my kids, with the hope of fostering a happy and truthful classroom. Most of the time it works. When things go pear shaped though I feel the need to remind myself of the golden rule of teaching.

Kids lie if they think they can a) get away with it and b) stay out of trouble.

What makes my job great though is when they do learn the value of honesty. Owning up, in some of their eyes, is the grown up thing to do. They will come and put their name on the board (standard teacher warning style) without being asked. It’s their version of raising a cup to their lips and admitting that they have (ever) done it.

As the last few days with my class whittle away I find myself very glad to be going on a much needed break. I also feel very sad about my class going to another teacher. Its like a friend who has moved far away. You still see them, just not as often and for shorter periods of time.

I will miss this group of 30 kids. The jokes, fun, growing up, problems, drama and even some of the back chat. I take consolation in the fact that I will feel the same this time next year.

In spite of all the crap and stress that comes with it,  I can honestly say that I love my job. I’ll love it even more with 6 weeks off.

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My friend Alex came over yesterday. We watched Blade. Alex had never seen it.

What makes a film timeless and what makes it of its time? Last night while watching Blade I noticed that it felt a bit dated. It was very much A 90’s film ( a fact that I IMDBed. Maybe I should try and get that into the urban dictionary.”I wanted to know what other films Kris Kristofferson had been in so I IMDBed it.” By the way he hasn’t been in as many films as you think, check it out. Oops, digression).
So what makes a film of its time and what makes it timeless?

1) A film set in a certain time that is filmed at the time. Some films are set in the fifties and filmed in the 80’s. This seems to work as there is an effort to make the film authentic to the era. Blade was filmed in the 90’s and really feels like it. The clothes, the back drop the 90’s ness of it. I also think its one of those had to see it at the time films. If you saw it at the time you don’t notice the fact that it’s dated. Prime examples of this are a) The Goonies b) Ferris Buellers Day off and c) Mall Rats.
Some films can escape this trap but not many.

2) Sayings and phrases. As if! Cha-Ching! Bonus! Granted most of these are 90’s slang but that’s my comfort zone. It’s funny when you watch stuff back and have that ‘I used to say that all the time’ feeling. You can also tell the language is of it’s time when the older generation start using it 10 or 20 years later. My parents tell me they are having a chill out day quite often. I can’t remember the last time I put the out at the end of chill. What I also find amusing is that the current generation of kids laugh at me for my miss use of current slang (innit fam).

3) Technology. Will anyone watch the social network in 20 years time? Will any 20 year old even know what it is about? My 2 year old will never know a world without the Internet or the global domination of fruit named companies such as Apple and Blackberry. Give me an example I hear you shout. Fine, no need for that tone.

The Net
Angela Bennett’s a software engineer type who works from home and has few friends outside of cyberspace. Taking her first vacation in years she becomes embroiled in a web of computer espionage.

I just IMDBed that.

It’s not just that though, it’s the fact that they put a cassette tape in the tape deck in ‘White Men Can’t Jump’. A kid in my class found a tape in the stock room the other day and asked me what it was.

4) Special effects. Just go look at ‘The Last Starfighter’ and ‘Flight of the Navigator’.

Alex enjoyed the film by the way. I think it was more in a cheesy 90’s nostalgia way though.

All pictures in the blog today are from IMDB. I IMDBed them all.

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