Tag Archives: acting

Up in the sky…(or the Boutique and Bistro in the clouds)

I remember, many years ago, smoking on a flight to America. I was 16, away with a group of friends (most of them older than me but not all over 21 so the drinking thing wasn’t too awkward) and we had 3 smoking seats between 7 or 8 smokers. It was the longest game of musical chairs in history. I understand why they stopped smoking on planes, I also understand though that the air is recirculated less (due to the lack of smelly smokiness), and so the lack of smoking directly links to the increase in picking up coughs and colds while up in the sky (and why do they still have the no smoking signs?). The point is that flying has changed massively over the past 20 years.

I also remember when you got lots of free stuff. Nuts before take off, drinks throughout the flight, snacks as well as meals, headphones, ear plugs, eye blankets (I think the correct term is face mask but eye blankets sounds better to me). Now, you get food that tastes of plastic, the drinks cart comes round every couple of hours, you have to pay for headphones, you still get the nuts but they are now mixed in with pretzels. I think that flying has become like a long train journey. It’s so ordinary and everyday that you forget how good it used to be. The following things have happened to me in planes over the last few years…

1) I had a leaky seat. Well, it was the ceiling really. It still worried me and made me study my crash card more carefully.

2) My TV didn’t work. This was responded to with the utmost malaise. The promise of a DVD player that took 3 hours, and having to ask 10 times, to come. The film choices were pretty dire too.

3) They ran out of booze. This one was terrible. It was a morning flight, heading out to the crazy world of Vegas, and so I decided to wait until a decent hour to have a beer. At 11.30am they announced that the bar was closed due to lack of alcohol. I complained and was told that some people were very drunk and rowdy…

“Good for them, I’d like the same oppertunity”

“We are very sorry sir, but we can’t discriminate on who we serve alcohol to, so we can no longer give any out”

“So you haven’t run out?”

“No sir”

And try as I might, they didn’t give me a beer. They also have flights where they need to have enough for the round trip and so cut you off at a certain point. If they can fill up on fuel then they can fill up on beer.

But this isn’t the main point of my Blog today. The main point is that of the budget airline. They have really gone the extra mile in separating you from your money. They offer very small items (of the brands you know, so you think it will be bigger than it is) for a very big price. The can of beer that is the same size as a can of Coke, the packet of Pringles that is a third of the usual size, a bag of chocolate that has less than a handful of sweets. Grrrrrrrrrr, here comes the rant… The seats are too small. The leg room is rubbish. You have to fight and scramble to get aboard to sit together. You have to pay for your bags. They constantly use the intercom to try and sell you stuff. There is no entertainment. They all wear orange. And breathe. This is all nothing new, what has changed is the pretension of these airlines. While sat in my small seat, waiting for the trolley, the following announcement was made.

“If you would like something to eat or drink, or if you would like to purchase some of our special offers in perfume of spirits, then why not take advantage of the Boutique and Bistro”

I have heard some exaggeration in my time, I am a man so prone to it myself, but to call the food trolley a Bistro and the duty free a boutique? Words fail me, and that happens as often as a freebie on a budget flight.

I am flying home today with the orange airline, wish me luck.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Comments I’ve Made

I spend a great deal of time with my foot in mouth. So much so that I have been told I only open my mouth to change feet. I can be sarcastic, stupid, way off the mark and plain rude. This has become less over time (I once told the biggest and most aggressive kid at my school he had a big nose, he then decided to spread my nose across my face) but I am still fully capable of putting my mouth in motion before putting my brain in gear. This is in the real world. The world where don’t get to think for a few minutes before commenting. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always say the wrong thing, the times I do are when I don’t have time to reflect on the stupidity of what I’m saying. In cyber space I am afforded time to reflect before making a statement, on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and in emails I can be thoughtful, witty and above all, less dumb. So here it is folks, my occasional guide to commenting on other peoples thoughts.

1) Don’t make stupid responses when kids are involved (unless the initial comment is silly): I have friends with kids. As well as a sure fire sign of getting old, this also brings with it different types of parenting. These styles mean different types of comment, and the responses can very.

Exhibit A: The proud and doting parent. Example comment: I am so proud of little Timmy today, he told me how much he loved me.

Responses

Facebook: Hit the like button or ignore altogether.

Twitter: Smiley face or ignore altogether.

Email: Hope someone responds before you and hits the ‘respond to all’ category.

WordPress: Don’t read it in the first place (unless you know the person then follow the Facebook route – see above).

Exhibit B: The parent who has the same mental age as their child. Example comment: My daughter poured her potty on my wife, couldn’t stop laughing for an hour.

Responses

Facebook: Make a well thought out, puntastic comment and then make more as they occur. Take into account what others have put and add to their comments.

Twitter: Make a less funny, less wordy comment, due to the constraints of twitter.

Email: Scour the internet for a funny link or picture related to the topic. Reply with the attachment.

WordPress: Try as hard as possible to relate the topic to a blog you have written, add a link to that blog and check your stats and comment area. Check also that they have commented on your comment.

2) Never respond to those who seem needy. You can tell these people a mile away (especially when you can be one of them). The warning signs are as follows.

a) They constantly write questions. These are to elicit a response, to make you want to reply, and to fuel their ego. These could range from questions about food i.e who loves beans? To caparisons i.e who would win in a fight, superman or Batman? To musical preference i.e who doesn’t love Elvis? Yep, if you answer, they win, you lose.

b) They comment on everything topical, all the time, non stop. Did you see… I am just watching… Cant believe that… This band are about to… Put down the phone or computer, watch what you are watching, call someone (maybe your Granny), go out, have a beer. Just don’t tell me you are doing it.

c) They look for affirmation directly and unashamedly. This mainly applies to blogs. Blogs should be a chance to produce brain vomit as a kind of therapy. If people like it good, if not then screw ’em. Sometimes it can be the bloggers screen name that does it. I recently had someone like my post whose screen name was based around the topic of not circumcising boys. Seriously, that view is your choice, but if you need to make it your screen name, then I’m not convinced of your convictions. It also made me a little uncomfortable to have that on my ‘like’ area.

3) Try to be thoughtful. I like to read other peoples blogs, and love the fact that I now have a way of tracking the responses to comments I’ve made through the WordPress dashboard. I will only comment on a blog, status update or tweet if I like it. The difference with commenting on a blog is this: you don’t know the person. The great part is that you can get to know them through their words. I consider my blog a fair representation of who I am. I would like to think the same about others and their blogs. If I read a blog but have nothing to add, then I will hit the like button. But if I feel the writer might enjoy what I have to say, then I will tell them. If they don’t, well they can just moderate and delete my comment.

I will continue to comment on blogs, annoy my friends on twitter and Facebook and write silly emails with attachments of Darth Vader playing the harmonica. Above all this though, I shall continue to speak to real people and say really dumb and sometimes insulting things. My friends will always forgive me, or at least put up with me.

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London pub etiquette.

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I live in Bethnal Green, a lovely part of the world. It has a very diverse, cultural and great mix of people that consist of old cockneys, a large contingent of people from Bangladesh and an ever growing number of east Europeans. It’s the kind of area that celebrates its diversity and means that I can get a great curry, some wonderful Czech and polish beer and have a traditional east end market stall (2 in fact, one for fruit, the other for veg) out the front of my flat. All of this is great. What makes east London fantastic though is the range of pubs.

Within a 10 minute walk of my house I have 7 pubs that I enjoy going to. 7. And if I fancy going a bit further afield, central London has many excellent pubs too. I understand that this may make me sound like a bit of an alcoholic but I have lived in the area for much of my drinking life. But, as spiderman’s uncle once said “with great pubs, comes great responsibility” Pub etiquette is paramount. Here is my short survival guide.

1) If you can’t see the pub through the windows, don’t go in. These are local places for local people. I’m local but I still wouldn’t go in them. They are run, owned and frequented by the old east end guard. The only way to safely grab a drink is to a) go in the day or b) be related to one of the old school drinkers in the pub. That’s not to say that the clientele would do you bodily harm, more a case of the reaction the new cowboy in town would get in the old westerns. Music stops, people turn and stare, a pin drops and you can hear it. Uncomfortable would be the word.

2) Don’t ask to share a table. Even if it’s one person on their own. It’s not very British, it’s certainly not very London. This will mark you out as an outsider and the cowboy thing could happen. Propping up the bar (standing at the bar and leaning) is a much better option.

3) Wait your turn to be served (but don’t queue). This is a skill that develops over time. Even if the person serving the drinks has no idea of the order, you should. Walk to the bar, scan the people, place then in chronological order, wait to asked who is next then point the bar tender to that person. If it was you and someone fails to follow this rule then shout “sorry mate/love, I was next” and start your order before any argument can happen. Also, don’t queue in a straight line, spread out across the bar.

4) If you are a man then drink a pint. Bottles are ok, half pints are a big no no. You can get around this by ordering a pint, keeping the glass when finished and pouring your half pint into the pint glass. It’s much more manly, just make sure the glass collector doesn’t take your glass.

5) Always stand your round. If you are in a group (even if you don’t know half of them) ask if anyone would like a drink. Most people will quickly decline saying they will get their own. This is fine as long as the ground rules have been established. By the same token, never accept a drink if a) you are only staying for one or b) you have a nearly full drink. Forget this rule if you are with regular drinking buddies as this will generally work itself out over time.

6) The bells at 11 mean get another one in. Most pubs will try to kick you out just after last orders, this means you’ve got at least another half hour. Use it wisely to neck (chug, scull, down) your drink and stumble out to the fresh air.

A great deal to remember I’m sure you’ll agree. If you do then you will enjoy a hassle free night of drinking. Just remember to leave the pub quietly, show some respect for the neighbours.

Cheers.

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River Thames shark sanctuary

So it appears that the river Thames been selected to host “an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks.” I honestly can’t wait. I’m just a bit gutted that the water is so murky, less chance of seeing them.

So what’s it all about? Well, two thousand sharks are to be released into the river including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment is designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of London. The thinking behind it is to keep the tourist industry alive after the Olympics.

The government is said to be spending £1.3 million, but think the return could be 10 times that over the next 3 years. A representative from the Life and Inclusion Experiments organisation (L.I.E) was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the river because “the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older.”
I wonder if this means they will need to introduce more fish into the Thames? You could always do feeding sessions and make it an added tourist attraction. Scuba diving in the thames? Maybe another money spinner.

Mayor Boris Johnson is said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to tourists and riverboat cleaners, but his complaints had been ignored by the the coalition government, with Cameron claiming he is under pressure from the American government to use the Thames for such research. Randy Bumgardner, aide to president Obama said that America could follow suit with the Hudson.

Happy April fools day by the way. It may not have suckered you all in, if it did then hooray for silliness.

Here is my favourite top 3 April fool pranks of all time…

3) In 1965 BBC TV featured an interview with a professor who had just invented a device called “smellovision.” This new technology allowed viewers to experience aromas produced in the television studio. The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee. A number of viewers called in to confirm that they distinctly experienced these scents as if they were there in the studio with him. That’s the power of suggestion I suppose.

2) 2000: A news release sent to the media stated that the 15th annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade was scheduled to begin on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a “Beat ’em, Bust ’em, Book ’em” float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray “themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence.” The “Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism” float would feature John Rocker who would be “spewing racial epithets at the crowd.” CNN and the Fox sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realised they had been hoaxed.

1) On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.

Have a happy April fools day.

These stories were gathered from the Guardian, Independent and Times websites with special mention to the museum of hoaxes.

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An informative or persuasive message (advertisements and how to avoid them)

A point of information: if you live outside of the U.K, please substitute the word ‘adverts’ for ‘commercials’ throughout. Cheers ears.
I am a sky customer (cable in the states) and I love it. I love the fact that I have hundreds of channels. I love the fact that even when there is nothing on I can waste half an hour flicking channels. I love the never ending repeats of shows I’ve seen many times (I am still looking for the holy grail in the form of a friends episode I haven’t seen yet). All of these things I love. But more than anything else, above all of these great advantages of seemingly endless channels, I love the fact that I can record shows straight onto my sky box and fast forward the adverts.
I have never been a great lover of adverts, but now I hate them. I am so unused to seeing them that when I watch live TV it drives me mad. When I was a kid I was happy enough to watch the adverts. The toy or chocolate or McDonald’s (they are no longer allowed to advertise to kids in the U.K so Ronald McDonald has forever left our screens) or breakfast cereal or the latest cartoon. Now they drive me nuts.
It’s not just the product adverts though, oh no no no. It’s the adverts they sneak in when you think the adverts are finished. The last ad plays, the stations logo pops up, you hit play, the show starts. Right? Wrong. The logo is followed by an advert for their latest show (only days after the states they boast), then another advert for another show. Then… THEN, they decide to let you know who is sponsoring the show you are watching (Which can lead to over zealous fast forwarding and going into the show). And it’s always so random. Luscious hair shampoo, proud sponsors of The Wire. Last long washing up liquid is the proud sponsor of CSI. Dave’s pest control, sponsor of the mickey mouse clubhouse. Maybe not the last one, not yet anyway.
The adverts themselves really get on my nerves as well. Here is a short list as to why…
1) Lip sync/dubbed adverts. I think this is now more common due to massive multinational companies making ‘universal adverts’. It’s an odd thing really. You sit and watch and realise something is off, something is not quite right. Then it hits you, the person talking is not actually the person talking. These are not as bad as the complete dub though. The kind that was made in Germany, spoken in German and then dubbed into English. It’s a bit like the old martial arts films where the villain talks for about 20 seconds and all the dubbed version says is “time to die”. It’s cheap, it’s annoying and if anything, would make me go out of my way not to buy the product.
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2) Am I getting old? I used to enjoy some adverts. Used to like the humour of them, used to go out and buy the products. They don’t seem to apply to me now though. It’s not that I don’t like most of them, it’s just that either a) I don’t notice them or b) what they’re selling, I ain’t buying. Don’t want or need it. Those that really annoy are on my radar though. Those that have the following…
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3) Catchy rubbish songs. Songs that have been designed to stick in your head, that have the same tag line or hook over and over. Quirky, fun, bouncy and suckingly bad all in one. Most of them just repeat the company name over and over and over and over over. Ones that make me want to kill are a) the one for the price comparison site b) the one that wants to take my car off my hands and c) the ones from the bank that loves to sing. The only thing that makes them worse is if it’s an animal singing or a child dancing.
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4) Voice over? I was unsure if I should put this one in or not. I think that I would do a voice over if I was famous. A few grand to read a couple of sentences? Most definitely. I probably wouldn’t care about how embarrassing the product either (as long as it was ethically and morally sound). I just can’t help squirming a bit when a star I admire does the Voice over for a toilet bleach or a large supermarket in the guise of a massive duck or a cute puppy.
What I think I hate most though is the fact that I have to pay a TV licence so that the BBC can remain advert free when I don’t ever have to watch them either way. I very rarely watch live TV and if I do I generally pause it, make a cuppa and fast forward the adverts anyway. I could always stop watching as much TV, but then I’d have to talk to real people and read and stuff.
A friend of mine thinks that the adverts will have to change to meet the changes in the way we watch TV. I can see product placement being the way forward, as long as the contestants on talent shows don’t start singing advert songs and they don’t name the main character in a gritty new law drama Pepsi I’m ok with it. You?
Please feel free to re blog, tweet or Facebook this post. Any ideas in this blog are steal-able by anyone who wants them.
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Why Star Trek is cool

So what makes being a Star Trek fan cool? Shame on you for saying nothing. We have been the fish in the barrel for far too long, being shot at by those who need to be educated in this trek through the stars. We are the red shirts.

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I count myself as a grade 3 Star Trek fan. I can quote the films but never really watched the original series that much. I am able to tell you what series of TNG (the next generation) it is by Rikers facial hair but I can’t name all of the actors (most but not all). I can speak a few Klingon phrases (love the fact that Klingon is in my spellcheck), but only those in the films. I would bet I have seen all DS9 (Deep Space 9) and Voyager episodes. I’ve seen most Enterprise episodes but I’m not a massive fan. For those of you losing the will to read, please keep with me.

I would say a grade 2 would be someone who can fill in the gaps I have. A grade 1 lives, eats and breaths Trek.

So what makes it cool? A list you say? Don’t mind if I do. This list is in order from 5 to 1, chart style.

5) The new film: I have mentioned previously in my blog that I wasn’t a big fan of it. What it has done though is make trek mainstream again. In fact, I would go further than that, it’s made it popular to a wider audience, made being a Trekkie less of a stigma and meant that the franchise can stay alive. As much as I hate to admit it, the film has done a lot of good. It also means I can bore people with the differences between the old and new, the timeline discrepancies and the nods from the writers to the real Star Trek fans.
4)You get to do the shatner voice: this is great fun. You… Canmake… Some… Of …yourwords… Mixtogether… And………. Leave…..gapsbetween…… Others. Did you just read it in the voice? Good. Shatner also released a few covers albums. Some of the songs are hilarious and all of them spoken in the voice. Check it out –Shatner sings rocket man

3)The recognition when you meet another fan: ok, maybe not overly cool but still a great thing. I have a friend who is also a grade 3 Trek fan and if we have a couple of beers, if the mood takes us and if we feel like being antisocial, we can enter the Star Trek universe and talk Trek for hours. It’s one of those thing that you don’t find out about a person straight away (so maybe being a fan is not as cool as I thought) but when you do, either by a quote or a laugh from them where no one usually understands what you’re talking about, it’s a beautiful thing. The film means I can chat to people about star trek, but meeting a real fan means discussion and conversation. A sharing of memories written by a script writer and said by someone else. A bit geeky? You bet. This brings me on to…

2)It’s so uncool it’s cool: yep, you heard it here first. Forget odd facial hair, skinny jeans and one of a kind vintage T-shirts. If you wanna be truly geek chic then become a Star Trek fan. It’s free, easy and fun. You can wear Starfleet academy T-shirts (like the one I have), you can go to conventions (I have been), you can read books about it and be seen on the London underground or New York subway thumbing through it. People will look at you and say “damn that geek is cool”. If they don’t then you can be smug in the knowledge that they just don’t understand the depths of your coolness.

1)George Takei: a face book phenomena. George played Sulu in the original films and series. He is an activist for gay rights, or any human rights to be honest, and his posts and photos are a dose of daily hilarity. This does now mean though that my Facebook thievery of his pictures is now out (and most of the pictures from his blog are from him). Go see his page, it’s fantastic. George Takei

I hope you stuck with it this week. Most people glaze over when I talk about my love of all things Star Trek. Last week over dinner, a friend asked me a Star Trek question and got up and walked off halfway through my answer. So if you made it to the end I shall bestow on you the title of honorary Trekkie.

Live long and prosper.

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The Queen’s English (and how not to speak it).

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I have a friend who, at the mere mention of toys r us goes into a full speech about how kids in his class write their r’s the wrong way round. It drives him mad. I feel the same about text speak. I recently marked a piece of writing that had both LOL and m8 in it. I was furious when marking it. I don’t think I was as mad with the child as much as society, the parents and a culture of laziness. Now I have never pretended to be the best speller, or that my grammar and punctuation is the best it could be. I just can’t see how you put text speak into school work.

It’s not just the text speak though, it’s not even the dropping of h’s or replacing the th with an f (ello instead of hello or fanks instead of thanks) it’s the complete lack of understanding that this in not the correct way to speak.

The newest one though is the dreaded D. This D finds itself at the start of words it has no place being. There becomes dere. “It’s over dere bruv” can be heard or “I didn’t do dat dough”. And worse than this, it’s started to creep into their writing. Not just in sentences (although that’s pretty bad) but in word exercises. I was doing a class activity based on homophones (homophones are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings. e.g. to, too and two) and a child said “I have a good one, dare and dere”. I asked him to repeat himself as I thought it was just a word mix up, maybe he meant dare and dear. He said exactly the same thing. I finally asked him to put the words in context for me. This is what he said…

“I dare you to go and jump over the road”. And then “look at that dog, it’s over dere”.

What hope do I have trying to teach if this is what I’m up against.

I do understand that many of the children I teach don’t speak English as a first language at home. I also get the fact that that’s why they might not be able to write as well as other children of the same age. It’s not a race thing. I am sure though that they don’t communicate via text when speaking with whoever is at home. It’s not that they have a strong accent other than that of the street. White, black, Filipino, Vietnamese, African, Bangladeshi, Caribbean etc. They all speak with accent of the street, it’s universal (well londonversal). I would love to know if it’s the same in all big cities.

I shall continue to try to right the wrongs, pick up on the mistakes and correct the spelling. After all, dere is no one else to do it.

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Soundtrack to my life…

Ben Folds wrote the story of my life. Sounds a bit odd I know but the more I look into it, the more it makes sense to me. For those of you who don’t know who Ben folds is, here is a very short biography.

Ben Folds is an American singer/songwriter who has been around for ages. He started his career in a band called Ben Folds Five and released lots of albums. All of them, in my humble opinion, excellent. The songs are a mix of thoughtful ballads and thumping (funny) piano songs. It’s the kind of music that can fit whatever mood you are in and it speaks to me on many levels. I have grown up listening to Ben Folds and liked his music even before I knew it was his.

He was the kind of singer I wanted to be, wrote about the kind of things that I would have written about (if I was self aware enough when I was writing songs), was admired by the people I admired and above all else, he seemed to have a song for each part of my life. In fact, he still does. So, true to form, here is my list of Ben Folds songs that explain my life…

Underground: this is a song that is about the rock/metal/industrial/goth scene that I found myself in. It is a song about belonging. To contextualise this I must first admit to being a townie in my younger years.
Definition of a townie (according to me): someone who listens to a specific type of dance music, has a severe French crop hair cut, wears a MASSIVE gold hoop earring (men only, left ear), wears a bomber jacket (nylon, preferably with a record label logo on the back, must be green, blue or black), smokes benson and hedges (but only buys ten packs) and thinks they are ‘well wicked’. That was me. I was that bomber jacket wearing idiot.

The problem was that I did not fit in. For starters I was in a marching band (I still prefer to call it a drum corp but my wife tells me that doesn’t make it any cooler) and secondly, I never really liked the music. I would sneak off on my own and listen to prince. Then it happened. I got sat next to a metaller in class.
Definition of a metaller (according to me): someone who listens to heavy metal and rock eg korn, pantera etc.., long hair, band tshirts and a massive album collection.
I soon realised that this was what I wanted to be. I wanted the cool hair, the band tshirts and I wanted to jump around screaming lyrics. This is pretty much what the song is about. Going to a metal club and moshing makes you someone else, someone cool. At least I thought so.

Song for the dumped: This is a wonderful song with even better lyrics. It’s about a guy who gets dumped and is still owed money (and one of his tshirts) by his ex. This song spoke to me for a few reasons 1)i’d lent some money to my ex girlfriend and she had not paid me back. 2) she had some of my clothing. 3) she decided that she would only give me back the money on the day I was going out on a date with a new girl. Now it’s not important who dumped who (although I did dump her) but I found it a massive coincidence that I had been asking for my cash back for ages and she wants to see me the day I off on a date. It wasn’t loads of money, as a student it seemed like a huge sum though. Anyway, I feel I must say that I got the money back (not the clothes) and the girl I was going on a date with is now my wife. Altogether now one, two three ahhhhhhhh.

Sports and wine: This is me now. I love the idea that I am sophisticated enough to watch sports and drink good wine. In the UK there is a lager culture when watching football (soccer) and an ale culture when watching rugby (rugby). If you watch any other sports then any kind of drink is fair game. It had never really occurred to me that drinking wine and watching football would be odd, not until Ben Folds pointed it out. I suppose I always new it was a bit strange as I would only ever behave do that at home, I would never have gone to watch a match with the boys and ask for a nice, well rounded Merlot or a full bodied Cabernet. This last one is a recent addition playlist due to me getting old.

Just as an aside, the inspiration for this blog is a book by Nick Hornby (a subject I will cover more fully in another blog) and his book 39 songs. This book includes the Ben Folds song Smoke and appears to speak to Nick in the same way the above songs speak to me. They have also collaborated on a book/album which is well worth a purchase.

To sign off with I would like to leave you with a couple of Ben Folds covers. They dont mean a great deal to me other than the fact that I love them and would possibly have chosen to cover them myself.

Dre – Bitches ain’t s**t

The Darkness – Get your hands off my woman

The Cure – In between days
For someone who has never met me, I feel Ben knows me very well indeed. I suppose that’s the mark of a great songwriter. All the links I have added are from YouTube, the albums and discography is here Ben Folds and here Ben Folds Five

Who wrote the soundtrack to your life?

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Kidification (an idiots ramblings on parenthood)

Many things changed when I had my son. I had never believed those naysayers who told me that life as I knew it was over, that my lifestyle would be unrecognisable, that sleep would become a drug I craved. I didn’t believe them because I didn’t want to. Then the boy came along.
For the first few days I watched him constantly. I watched him sleep, eat and I watched him watching me. I didn’t really sleep that much but that was ok, it was all very exciting. Then it started to happen. The house began to turn into a baby house. What had started as the babies room began to spill into the living room and other areas of the house. Kidification had begun. And not just in the house, it was spilling out into other parts of my life. Here’s what happened, in list form of course.
Bathroom stickers: my bathroom is no longer my bathroom. Yes, I can still use it for the essentials that bathrooms are used for, but that is now its secondary function. The first thing to come was the changing table. A lovely storage area with a soft mat on the top, bought from mamas and papas and put together with love and lots of swearing. My bathroom smells of baby poo constantly. It doesn’t matter what device you use to put the nappies in, how many bags you wrap them in, how scented your bin liners are, the smell remains. Then there’s the toys, the babies towel (which looks like a hand towel with a hood) and worst of all the stickers. I know, I know I was the one that put them up. I think the point is this: he doesn’t even notice them! I spent ages getting them in all the right places, spacing them out in just the right way, and for what? Take a look, a job well done I’m sure you’ll agree.
One of those people who talks about his kids: I have now come to the conclusion that it is inevitable. I used to go out with a ‘I won’t bore my friends with stories and pictures’ attitude. The problem with this is that I have very little else to talk about. When out with friends at the weekend (friends with kids) they admitted to showing a 7 minute video of their kid eating breakfast on a night out. These things just happen. My new attitude is this: show them pictures, talk about it non stop, run out of steam, get on with my night and hope my friends will forgive me when they have kids of their own. Risky business but what choice do I have! (it’s even filtering into the blog now).
Understands what he says even if it’s nonsense: this is one of the funnier ones. My son will run up to me, speak a load of rubbish, point at something with a wave of his arm and I will know exactly what he is saying, what he is pointing at and what he wants. How? I don’t really know myself to be honest. It’s a bit like those kids tv presenters with puppets that don’t speak (they usually squeak or quack or something, or like professor Bunsen burner understanding beaker in the muppets) you just know what they want. The bad times come when you don’t understand. My son spent a week or two at dinner pointing and asking for ‘bish’. He would scream the word at the top of his lungs and point. I finally took him over to where he was pointing and it turns out he had no clue what he wanted either. Didn’t stop it happening next time though!
Appearance: kidification happens to your clothes as well as your house. Cuddles are nice but the residue is not so much. It starts small (mainly because he was small) but it soon grows. The point of no return is when you know your shoulder is covered in snot but you go out anyway. The Worst though is when you’re halfway somewhere and you notice. You can either draw attention to it straight away and talk about the boy or just hope everyone is polite enough not to say anything. Unfortunately, of all the wonderful qualities my friends have, politeness is not among them.
Would I change any of it? Of course not.

This blog will be read completely differently by the two groups of society. Those who have kids will relate to it. Those who don’t will treat it as a cautionary tale. Heed the warnings single kidless folk. Stay up late, get drunk, spend Saturdays in bed, go out straight from work and come home at 2am, wear your snot free clothes with pride and above all else; tell yourself it will be different when you have kids!
Enjoy your weekend, however you spend it.
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Reasons to be cheerful

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It has occurred to me that my blogs are critical, scathing and somewhat negative. So instead of telling you what bugs me, I shall attempt to write a list of things I love. I shall consider you my therapist. I shall stop rambling and get on with it.

1) My car. I recently bought a new car (not new but new to me) and I love it. The purchase was filled with trepidation as my last car was within my comfort zone. My last car was an ageing ford with a very big engine and a couple of Knocks in it. It was bought primarily with the idea of having a crash in it, not in an insurance right off kind of way but more in a haven’t driven in London before and it’ll be inevitable kind of way. The thing I love about the new car is that it is automatic. This surprised me really as I have always driven a manual (stick shift if you’re American) and thought that it somehow made me more manly. When you combine the automaticness (not a real word I know) with the cruise control it makes my car as close to a computer game as you can get. All I need to do is steer and push the plus button to go faster and the minus button to slow down. The only down side comes in the form of the bruises on my hand where I go to change gear and whack it on the plastic interior.

2) football (soccer if you’re not from these parts). I won’t go into the club I support as they are doing badly at the moment. Football makes me happy. It’s a time when I can switch off my brain and veg. In fact, most sports give me this lazy brain numbing feeling. I am happy watching rugby, football, snooker, athletics, cycling (I am fascinated by the tour de France), curling, volleyball, tennis. Anything but cricket and baseball. The first I find boring and the second I don’t understand. I’m not a sports nut, I just get drawn into it. So much so that I have stayed up till 2 in the morning watching golf. It drives my wife mad!

3) ale. Not beer, ale. I love the stuff and consider myself an authority on it. I love ale festivals. I love ale drinkers. When you go to an ale festival you get those like me (part time enthusiasts) and the other kind of ale drinker. The other kind are those that live for it, those that are members of ale associations, those that would rather die of thirst than drink lager. You can tell them by the long beards, ill fitting T-shirts of very old rock bands, pot bellies (hence the ill fitting ness of the T-shirt) and the fact they bring their own pint glass to festivals in the form of a big metal tankard. My love for ale has developed over the years and with a few more years practice I hope to join the ranks of the experts.

So there you go. A short list today but I am off to see the rugby with some friends. I will also have a couple of ales, and seeing as I drove to my parents today to drop off my son I reckon that’s a pretty good day for me. All 3 of my fave things.

Of course my family and friends should have been on the list but I figure that kind of goes without saying.

Have a happy Saturday. The photo below is my friend and publisher hoping for a Wales victory today. I’m just hoping for some good beer!

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