Tag Archives: facebook

The art of the quote

A good quote can be so many things. When I was younger it could mean the difference between a grade in an English literacy test, a better percentage in my sociology course work and, most important of all, it could really make my friends laugh. I may not write coursework or do tests anymore but the art of the quote still lives on.
She's your queen to be
This weeks blog is inspired by a friend of mine who placed a quote from Coming to America on Facebook. The response was huge and I partook with a big smile on my face. “I was Joan of Arc in a former life.” This may not be the most famous quote from the film but those who know the film well (I used to watch it once every other day over one summer while my friend and I stole his parents Cointreau and filled up the bottle with squash, hoping they wouldn’t notice) know it. I still reckon I could say about half the lines before the Mr Murphy and Mr Hall.
mam name him clay, i'm a call him clay
Facebook though has changed the rules a bit. No longer do you have to rely on your brain for a quote, you can research it. Here’s my mini guide for quoting Facebook style.
1) Try and remember the quote and respond quickly. If it has a small flaw in the repeating of the line then it seems more organic.
2) If you do have to research it then add a small mistake. See second line of number 1.
3) Make sure the quote you use is from the same film. Nothing worse than being ridiculed in cyberspace.
4) Don’t include the character name at the start. If the quote is good then people should know.
5) Not too big. If the quote is too long then it is a dead giveaway. You may as well leave the hyperlinks in.
i assumed you had sex with your bathers
Quotes don’t need to be famous though. A friend of mine was exceeding drunk at a party. He decided to run for the door, presumably to throw up, whilst shouting, “abandon ship.” The quote was used more than once. Private quotes can be great fun but can also exclude many. If I were to write, “swinging from a tree!” Then it would mean a great deal to few people and nothing to most. The private club can be great fun but needs a have to be there pass.
I have never tried to pass a quite off as my own knowingly. I will always state my source (csi quote there) so people don’t think I’m smarter than I am. The problem I have is that there are times when I don’t even realise I’m quoting, times when I’ve said what I’m saying so many times that the origin of it is lost somewhere. This can be highly embarrassing when you get called on it. I do however have some favourite quotes. Some are funny, some witty and some odd. Here’s my top five.
Live forever or die in the attempt.
1) “Live forever or die in the attempt.”
-Yossarian – Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day
2) “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”
-Frank Sinatra
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
3) “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
-Oscar Wilde
My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
4) “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”
-Michael Corleone – The Godfather
every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.
5)”How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?”
-Homer – The Simpsons
There are so many that I could have done a top 50. I would love to hear any you think I have overlooked.
squidge andrew thomas
I hope that one day, when I am a famous author, I might find my own words quoted somewhere. Maybe.
Enjoy your weekend.
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Comic book geek?

The dark knight returns comic
I have recently been inspired. Not often do I see or hear something that actually inspires me to do something about it. I have been inspired by Kevin Smith and Bruce Wayne. I think I might want to get into comics!
Don’t get me wrong, loads of things have inspired me over the last few years. The Olympics inspired me to watch it but not to go out and kayak (to be fair I don’t think I was the target audience for the inspire a generation campaign), great art can inspire me but that doesn’t mean I can draw and music definitely inspires me but I still (after 16 years of owning it) can’t play more than 6 chords on my guitar. Comics though… Now there’s something I can do.
kevin smith the green arrow
What Kevin has done has shared his infectious love of Batman and all things DC. Kevin Smith, for those who don’t know, is an actor and a director. He is Silent Bob in Clerks, Mall Rats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma. He also directed all of those and more. If you’ve seen any of those then you know his love for comics. He has also written for DC for both Batman and The Green Arrow.
Let me take you back quite a few years, not to my childhood, to when me and the wife, then girlfriend, were looking for people to share our flat. We had rented a big place and had only one income at the time due to one of us studying. We put out an advert on gumtree and waited. We didn’t have to wait long as about half an hour later we had a couple wanting to come round. They came, they were extremely odd and we ushered them out the door with a promise to let them know. We had a couple of phone calls of the same ilk until finally a normal sounding Aussie called. She said that her and her bloke were interested, they came over and they were normal (ish). And so they stayed for a few years. Why am I telling you this? Because the guy half of the couple was a comic book nut.
gumtree aussie rooms
Jimmy was a funny guy who was constantly hungry. He loved computers and comic books. When I look back now I regret not tapping into his knowledge and, at the very least, getting a comic book 101 lesson. Why? Here comes the list.
1) I don’t want to look like a newbie or get ripped off. I need to get knowledgeable about comics without looking like I need the knowledge. This is where the Internet comes in. I can research them in the comfort of my own home and can also buy them and store them on my iPad. I know it’s not the same as owning the actual books but you gotta start somewhere.
Apple iPad Comic Books
2) I want to know the best arc to follow. It seems it’s not just about which character to follow but also about which version or arc. Do I go for the new Batman reboot (the 52’s) or some other timeline? This is what confuses me the most. If I was 10 I’d take whatever I could get. Maybe having money and an ability to over think things is doing me no favours.
3) I don’t have enough time for crap. Seriously. All I want is someone to tell me what to do. Where do I start and where do I go after that. I’m beginning to think that I may have the wrong comic book attitude.
If you don’t feel the need to get into comics at least have a listen to Fatman on Batman. It’s a podcast (available free in iTunes and smodcast) where Mr Smith has various guests on from the world of Batman. The first episode is all about Mark Hamill (yes, that one) who voices the joker on the animated show. It’s funny stuff, even if you’re not into comics.
fatman on batman kevin smith
Maybe I’m having a pre-second baby panic or at the very least a mid life crisis. I do know that I have started to watch Batman cartoons on TV and that my 2 and a half year old doesn’t like them. I try to tell my wife, and myself, that it’s to keep up with what the kids at school like so I can relate to them. The problem is that she can see through me and read my like a graphic novel.
Enjoy your weekend.
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My 12th annual 21st birthday

It’s my birthday today (only if you’re reading it on the 15th) and I’m actually quite excited. The thing that’s exciting me this year is the fact that my little boy knows what’s going on. A bit sad? You bet.
It got me thinking about how my view of birthdays has changed over the years and what birthdays mean at different ages. A list you say? A list with a twist.
Early years – early birthdays are all about the chaos and confusion of it. A house full of family, as much cake and sweets as you can eat and a conveyor belt of presents. It’s the presents that I remember (maybe its a false memory as I’ve seen, and am lucky enough to have, video tapes of those early years) and the fact that they kept on coming. A conveyer belt of ripping, shaking and discarding before moving on to the next item. The other side to the coin was if you got the one you really wanted early on then the others waited for a long time to be opened. I love the start of ‘Toy Story’ when you see it from the perspective of the toy, the panic that new toys bring, “pull my string the birthday party’s today!” a shocked Woody exclaims. One of the best openings to a film I’ve seen.
woody the cowboy toy story
Primary school age (4-11) – This is now more about the party and a little less about the presents. At this age you get to invite your whole class and run around like nutter, high on sugar, for a few hours. The doorbell has never been such an amazing noise. The party food and spread is also very important. This is something I tried to capture in the second Squidge book. I wanted to write about Christmas but not all totally about it. I came up with the idea of the big elf celebration (they were far to busy and then exhausted to celebrate Christmas) being a birthday party, and who better than Santa to throw the biggest party of the year. Here’s a little excerpt.

Now, if you are an elf, then Santa’s birthday party is the best time of the year. Elves don’t really celebrate Christmas like us because they have no time to prepare. Christmas takes a lot of hard work to make great and the elves are too busy making toys. Santa knows this and so makes sure that all of the elves get to have a great big party on his birthday. To give you an idea of how big a party it was, here is one page of Santa’s party preparation list:

 

Jelly and ice cream

Crisps (all flavours, shapes and sizes)

Donuts (jam and chocolate)

Fizzy drinks

Sweets (soft, hard and chewy and all the colours of the rainbow)

Sausage rolls

Pizza (one of each topping and 2 pepperoni as its Santa’s favourite)

Jam sandwiches (with the crusts cut off)

Ham sandwiches (with the crusts left on)

Balloons (the ones that float)

Streamers

A Piñata (full of marshmallows so they don’t hurt you when they fall out)

A gigantic birthday cake (must be chocolate sponge with chocolate icing and chocolate buttons)

 

And there are 20 more pages just like this one. I bet if you can think of something you would like to have at a party, you would find it on Santa’s party list.

squidge Christmas elf

Teenage years – as you get a bit older the party at your house, with the cake and cliche, just won’t cut it. It’s a time in your life when it’s all about you. I want this, I want that, and so on. You want one big present (usually very expensive) and a cool party at the bowling ally, swimming pool, fast food restaurant, quasar (look it up kids) or cinema. What you don’t realise is the expense. Your parents have to pay for the lot. At 13 or 14 though you don’t really care or consider it.
Early 20’s – clothes and a pub. It really is that simple. You can legally drink and you wanna look good doing it. The choice of pub though is very important. You want somewhere cheap, and that usually means a chain, but you also you want somewhere with atmosphere and that means expensive. Do you go to the local or somewhere different. These decisions are very important in your early 20’s and the clothes choices infinitely embarrassing when you look back.
the chequers billericay
Early 30’s – my 30th was a massive event. Bouncy castle, fancy dress (I went as a Jedi), old school sweets, shed loads of beer and pumping 90’s tunes. Everything from the Chillies to MC Hammer and all that is in between. This birthday though will be as the last couple have been, very low key affairs. A couple of friends, a couple of kegs of beer and laugh or two.
adnams broadside and bitter in my fridge
I’m off for a swim with my son now (partly so he’ll have a good nap and not be grumpy when my friends show up later) and then maybe out to lunch to line my stomach for the beer ahead.
I envisage a Sunday morning hangover followed by a fry up and many cups of coffee. Enjoy your weekend people. I know I will.
The final picture is of me and my dad at my 30th. He says he’s meant to be John Wayne, I think he looks Like Woody. You decide.
me and my dad peter
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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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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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