Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m with the band.

I’m not really. To be completely honest I never have been. I used to dream of being a famous rock star or heavy metal singer, I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way. The only problem was that I couldn’t (and still cant) sing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally tone deaf but I know that I am no Freddie Mercury or Prince. Many years ago (more than I would like to admit) I decided to give it a go. I was a typical drummer, hidden at the back, good at my job and never noticed because of it. I  was in a band fronted by my girlfriend at the time and, although she could carry a tune, she was not that great. I decided that if she could do it then so could I (that coupled with the fact that we had split up) and so I stepped out of the shadows and into the light. Now, although she was not a great singer, she did have something that I  didn’t…looks. I was a long haired Jay Kay (singer from Jamiroquai) wannabe. Not ugly, not good looking enough to sing the way I did and get away with it.

Why did I want to be a rock star? List time me thinks…

1) Free stuff. I wanted free clothes, food, drink but most of all I wanted free trainers. I wanted the worlds biggest collection of Adidas shell-toe trainers. I loved, and still love Adidas trainers. I had dreams of being sent pairs of trainers I hadn’t even ordered, prototypes, exclusive and of course having my very own pair made, Micheal Jordan style

2) No work. No job, playing music all the time, millions of pounds. Yes please.

3) Fans. I wanted to be adored by millions of fans. I had also just split up with my girlfriend so I wanted her to see me being adored by millions of fans (the female ‘come backstage’ kind). I wanted to go on stage, utter one word, and have the crowd screaming my name. My name, not the name of the band.

4) Not selling out. I was convinced that every band I ever listened to at that age sold out. The fact was that they got a bit older, mellowed out a bit and decided to go in a different direction. To me though it was as if they had taken my favourite pair of Adidas trainers and done a big number two in them.

We didn’t do bad as a band and even had a couple of gigs in London at respectable venues. To be honest, I was just glad to have 4 people who believed that I could sing enough to write and perform with me. Some of my friends who I used to play with (in various different bands with silly names) are still in bands.

One of them is an Acoustic, Folk, Country style band called splintered man. Follow this link to have a listen. They are truly brilliant.

The second is a metal band. Caution, this may make your ears bleed. To listen to carnage archive follow this link. I love em.

The Last is quite different (but no less brilliant). They are a new type of musical genre, they play drunkabilly – it’s a bit like rockabilly after one too many shandies. To listen to the God damn disasters follow this link. 

As for me? I’ll stick to the writing. Many of my friends and family will be glad to hear this!

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Can you feel the Christmas presence?

It’s finally upon us, Christmas day. Food, Presents, food, drink, food, music, food, games and food. It’s the time of year to eat ‘til you want to burst, have a sleep then eat some more. I love it.

It’s strange for me to see the most wanted Christmas toy list that they seem to have every year. I like to think that, being a teacher, I am relatively up to date with kids TV, music and toys. Every now and then though I am reminded how wrong and old I am. So here is the top 10. Recognise any?

Doggie Doo, John Adams, RRP £22.99

Fijit Friends, Mattel, RRP £54.99

Fireman Sam Pontypandy Rescue Set, Character, RRP £29.99

Kidizoom Twist, VTech, RRP £49.99

LeapPad Explorer, Leapfrog Toys, RRP £79.99

Lets Rock Elmo, Hasbro, RRP £69.99

Milky the Bunny, Flair, RRP £59.99

Monster High Lagoona’s Hydration Station, Mattel, RRP £39.99

Moshling Tree House, Vivid, RRP £18.99

Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, Hasbro, RRP £44.99

Me either!

So then, here are my top 5 Christmas gifts. Time for a festive list…

5) Kid size pool table. This was an unexpected present for both me and my sister. The problem with this gift was my curiosity, that coupled with the fact that I’d had an early night and was up way too early. Basically I’m making excuses for the fact that I peaked. The size of the thing meant that it couldn’t be wrapped so I saw it. Sorry Ma and Pa I had to do it.

4) Remote control car. I loved my car, it was awesome. It was red and fast, and that is all I remember. I do remember wanting one because my next door neighbour had one and I wanted my own. He was quite a bit older than me and infinitely more patient, so whereas mine was straight out of a box, he spent months building his. I do remember that when he finished it, he drove it straight down the drive, into the road and a car ran it over.

3) A Transformer. I never wanted Optimus prime, I was always after Megatron, something about turning into a gun I suppose. Looking back at the original transformers, and the new version I suppose, is how on Earth (or Cybertron for that matter) was it a good idea to turn into a car when you could be a plane. If I had to go to war I know which one I would prefer to be. Anyway, I was told not to let other kids play with it unless I knew them, I ignored this, it broke, I cried.

2) A pack of tampons. OK so not you traditional gift for a man or boy. To be fair, not really a gift for anyone. Could you imagine on Christmas morning ‘here you are dear, I hope you like them’. Anyway, I digress. We had a secret Santa with the lads many years ago, the remit was under £5 and pointless. I couldn’t have chosen better myself.

1) A speeder bike (the one that works in the forest of Endor). This is a star wars based present and it rocked. Not only was it able to fit neatly in my hand, not only did it come with a full size Luke Skywalker (in full camo gear) but it also exploded when you pressed a button on the back. I still enjoy watching the video of that Christmas as everyone is sitting, eating and being merry and every now and again I would run past shouting (not singing) the Star Wars theme tune.

It’s a strange thing growing up as Christmas doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. If I really want something now then I can just buy it. If I wanted something then I would have to wait months and weeks to get it. What it does have though is the joy of being able to buy presents. I do love choosing stuff for other people in a way my younger self just wouldn’t understand. May the force be with you this festive season. Merry Christmas y’all.

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School dinners

Being a teacher, I have the opportunity to have free meal on a daily basis. If I wish, I can go down to the dinner hall (the same one we use for assemblies and PE when it’s raining), sit with my lovely class (no sarcasm there, they are an odd bunch but very lovely) and have a free hot meal. I never do this. Why? Here comes a list…

1) I get loads, they don’t. I get given enough to stuff me. I reckon it’s about 3 times as much as the kids. I know that they can’t all have massive lunches but it does at times seem a bit like Oliver Twist. “Please mrs meal time supervisor, I want more”.

2) the waste drives me nuts. Having said about the tiny portions, there are children who just don’t eat. They sit and pick at the food until no one is watching the quickly run up and chuck it into the overflowing food bin. My mum would have told them about the starving children across the world and then made them eat.

3) it’s not very nice. Sorry, and no offence intended, but it’s mass catering made with ingredients from the lowest bidder. If your looking for quality then you have to pay for it and no parent would pay £5 a day for school dinners, at least not in the area I work.

4) the custard hug. This is the worst! Basically it’s a big hug from one of the younger kids who have just finished their pudding. Your jumper, shirt or cardigan is then covered in whatever is still on their face. At that age they miss their mouth many times a meal. The worst part is though that they are so cute you can’t tell them off.

5) they don’t do coffee. I am a teacher. I need coffee.

I do feel that the dinner staff do a good job with the products they get. I do also feel that it is much healthier than when I was a kid. Long gone are the days of thick chocolate cake and pink custard (imagine that on Masterchef) or of Jamie Oliver’s nemesis, the turkey twizzler. So it is better, it’s just not that great.

My favourite at school was the arctic role. Ice cream wrapped in soggy sponge, but maybe the memory of it is better than the actual thing itself. What was yours?

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There’s no encouragement to drink less.

I went out the other night. A very rare treat as I have a young son and a demanding and time consuming job. I had a really good night and had a couple of drinks to boot. While in the bar I asked my wife what she would like, I went to the bar, ordered my drinks and was asked the killer question… Would you like an extra measure/shot for only 60 pence. I of course said yes. I went back and gave my wife a much larger drink than she had asked for, explaining that it wasn’t much more money. She turned to me, thanked me and said “they never encourage you to drink less”. It struck me that in our health conscious world surely they shouldn’t be promoting more alcohol. Surely they should make it harder to get drunk and hence damaging your organs not easier. This seems to me to be one of a long line of ‘more, more, more’ culture. Here are my others…

1) BOGOF. The ‘buy one get one free’ offer always gets me. I fall for it every time. Either I a) change what I was going to buy and get the deal or b) buy something I didn’t go in for in the first place. I once saw a man have an argument over cheese, he only wanted one block of cheese but it was on a BOGOF offer. The girl on the checkout was so perplexed that he only wanted one block she was insisting he go get another. The other problem is when there is only one left. Even though I would buy that product individually, and I really don’t need double the amount, I will still pick an alternative as I feel like I was being done out of free stuff if I bought just one.

2) cinema. The cinema meal deal is as expensive as a real meal. Seriously. Having been recently, I asked for a large coke and a small popcorn, the reply was ‘you can get a large coke and a large popcorn for only £8.75’. Only? Only? My dinner later that evening cost about £10.00. As an aside, I tried the popcorn, it was stale, I told the person behind the counter and she asked me, not her boss, If I thought she should do a fresh batch. Erm no thanks, I’ll eat the stale stuff.

3) Fast food: supersize anyone? Why should my blood have an easy job getting through my arteries? Bring it on.

I am yet to walk into a bar and be asked “for the sake of your liver, would you like to pay 60 pence less and get half the amount?” I suppose that wouldn’t make much business sense, just common sense. At this festive time of year I am reminded of Richard Attenborough in miracle on 34th street sending people to where they can get toys cheaper. The best we can hope for is an asda (Walmart) price promise. Come shop with us, go check every item on line and we might give you back 59 pence. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas.

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Here comes Santa Claus 2

He screamed! We didn’t even get in the door. The poor Santa and elf didn’t know what to do. At least we still got the present.

He was a really good Santa as well.

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A piece of cake

April is my friend. April the person, not April the month (all though I quite like that too).  A very simple statement, but one that took a lot of thinking about. It’s not that I had to think about whether or not I like April. She is a very lovely lady who I have never heard say a bad word about anyone. Even further than that really, as she always seems to find the positive. If I say that someone is a horrid person she will respond with a ‘yeah I suppose,  but maybe they were just having a bad day’ or ‘maybe they would be nicer if…’
A very wonderful quality that I most certainly don’t possess.

It’s  just that she was my friends girlfriend for a while before she became my friend as well.  Let me try to explain what I mean, in list form of course.

1) up to 1 month. You meet the person once or twice and have a very quick ‘aren’t they nice’ or ‘what the hell is he doin with her?’ if you get the first comment then phase 2 comes in

2) 1 month to 6 months. How do they get on with your partner? You rely on the judgement and opinions of the significant other in your life because, let’s face it, you chat with your mate and leave the girls to it. Sexist? You bet. I didn’t make the rules though.

3) 6 months to 1 year. You end up in a one on one conversation with them. This may have happened before but this conversation is much longer. Do you have much to talk about other than your mate, their boyfriend. If so then that leads us to…

4)1 year and on.  would you meet them for a coffee/drink, email/text them or chat on the phone with them without you, them or your respective partners thinking it is a bit weird or odd or awkward?

If you can get through all of these, and April and I have, then you can call them YOUR friend and not ‘my friends girlfriend/wife’.  So yes, April is my friend.

Anyway, on to the real reason for chatting about my friend April. She is an author. She has a book. You can buy it on amazon and in various good bookshops. April is a cake magician.

I don’t mean that she makes cakes disappear , quite the opposite in fact. April makes cake pops. She takes a piece of chocolate cake, puts it on a stick and then makes it look like anything you want. Bride and groom cake pops, celebrity cake pops, you name it, she can do it. My favourite by far though is the one that looks like a bag of popcorn you get at the cinema. The other great thing about them is that they taste as good as they look.

 

So if you have the time, and if you are so inclined, go check her and her book out.

Top of the cakepops

Aprils website

 

 

 

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Bestselling Author?

Strange as it may seem, and odd as it may feel, I am charting in both IBooks and Amazon Kindle and actually selling my books.

Let explain the oddness of this. Last year I had 1 book out, a publisher, an editor and an illustrator. This to me was odd. How could I, a hyperactive teacher, have all of these things? The book did really well, but that, I told myself, was because we were giving it away. Still, it did 50,000 or so and I felt a real pride of accomplishment.

Fast forward to this year. I was out with the lads yesterday (a very stereotypical gathering of men whose wives, girlfriends etc… had gone to a baby shower) and they asked me how the book was doing. A very simple question, but I froze in answering. What I should have done is go on a 10 minute sales pitch about the http://www.squidgeelf.com, or this website with all the links to the books, the kind of ‘tell all your friends and tell them all to tell their friends’ thing, but I didn’t. I told them that it was doing well, asked if they had read it, answered any questions, and left it there.

I think that because the book is selling, because it seems to be doing well, and because they are my mates from way back when, I was worried about sounding a little up my own backside!

I am very proud of what I and the proving house team have done but I do find it difficult to see myself as an author.

Andrew Thomas

Author?

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A week of poems

We have been writing poetry all this week using the Sharon Creech book ‘love that dog’. It’s so easy to get lessons from and introduces children to classic poets in a fun way. In the book, we learn how to write poetry with a boy who believes that poetry is for girls. Anyway, here is my poem about someone who inspires me. It’s the kids turn later. Hope you like it.

Inspired by Roald Dahl.

An author I love who goes the extra mile, the fabulous, wonderful, great mr Dahl.

Squishy things wriggling that look just like pasta, enormous peaches and kids who learn faster. Orange men dancing while making their sweets, children called George concocting his treats. Giants that take away all your bad dreams and foxes fantastic with eyes all a gleam. Stories to listen to over again, with characters funny and some round the bend.

An author I love who goes the extra mile, the fabulous, wonderful great, mr Dahl.

With so many books it’s hard to chose which, the one about tortoises, no let me switch. The one about chocolate, yes that’s the one. Whichever you read it’s guaranteed fun. No wait, I can’t make up my mind let me switch. Ah yes, the best one, all about the high witch.

An author I love who goes the extra mile, the fabulous, wonderful, great mr Dahl.

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