Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mind your makeup time

I keep seeing selfies of women without makeup.  It's a right state of affairs that women taking pictures of themselves without make-up is worthy of comment innit? 
I have some harrumphy male advice for women - Why not just save a few quid and never wear makeup ever?  It works for me!  I know it's for a good cause 'n all but do we really live in a world where that is a weird suggestion?

Sunday, March 02, 2014


Blimey, the Alumni are after me!  They seem to have got my address somehow.  Contrary to what you might think, the Alumni are not a secret religious sect somehow connected to the Knights Templar and conspiracies in the Catholic Church, but a sort of club for people who went to a particular college or university.  A bit like forming a club for people who went in a particular pub a few times I guess, or one for people who cross the road in the same place every day.  But posher – at least in their own heads.  It seems to be mainly about tapping people for money on the strength of them having some sort of imagined continuing attachment to a place they went to school.

So, out of the blue I receive a magazine from the Alumni people at the University of Leeds.  I have an Alumni number - and they know where I live!  But they don’t know that much about me it seems and would like to offer me the chance to update their records for them, presumably so they can send me more stuff suggesting I might like to provide them with a ‘career profile’ or to share my ‘career experiences’.  While I’m on I’ll do that now...I don’t have ‘a career’, jobs are shit and badly paid and mostly boring and all the money’s been stolen by the rich anyway.  And I wouldn’t want to hear anyone who’d had ‘a career’ talking about their ‘career’ anyway...

They’d like to know if I’d like to leave their rich institution money in my will (No!) If I’d like to offer a work placement or internship (er, No!) and a number of other questions partially alluded to above.

This is all based on a number of what seem to me to be strange notions:

1)    That people have a loyalty to the college / university they went to.

2)    That the people who went to that college / university have that loyalty to such a degree (no pun intended) that they’ll hand over money to prove it. 

3)    That because you attended that particular institution you're likely to be successful and rich enough to have spare cash to give away to an institution that is, to my mind, already quite well funded.

Well, what about us scumalumni?  Us feckless ones who don’t have ‘a career’ and don’t care for one and don’t really care very much about the college they ended up at as Liverpool seemed a bit far and they got bitten by a dog and lost their train ticket in Manchester - that’d be me folks and my scumalumni club of one!

Am I being unfair?  Nope, don’t think so.  Here’s a small piece of evidence which I consider crucial – the single strand of hair that has them bang to rights / stitched up like a kipper by forensics if you like...Section 1 on the ‘Update your details’ form they send is the bit for personal details.  After title, ‘given name’ (that’s first name to us scum) and ‘Family name’ the next question is... ‘Honours (e.g. OBE)...

Now isn’t that the clincher? – They’re writing to people who they think might have ‘honours’!  And if you don’t understand why that makes it inevitable that this form and the magazine is heading for the bin as soon as I’ve tossed off this little snotty diatribe then I’m afraid we have nothing in common...

For information, I did attend the University of Leeds – and I did finish.  Even back then if you wanted to dress up in a silly hired comedy hat and gown and whatnot it came to about £80 I think.  I had my degree ‘conferred in absentia’ which is bollocks-speak for ‘sent through the post’.  The rebellious youth of today queue up for the whole Adam Ant video palaver it seems to me – there must be some sulky bolshy types who still go for the ‘absentia’ option.  Which brings us back to ‘Alumni’ – I’d like to say here that they didn’t do Latin at my school (so far as I know).  It looked for a while a small number of decades ago that snobbery and class and general elitist nonsense was on the decline.  Then it all got corporate and the forces of class war were unleashed on the poor and we’ve been under the thumb without even really knowing it ever since. 

But, thanks to the Alumni I’ve been reminded.  By the way, I may be an Alumnus (pronounced ‘a numb nuts’) if my Latin serves (it serves ‘no purpose’! – Ha!)

As a postscript, I’ve just discovered in the small print that “anyone who pledges a legacy to the University of Leeds will be entitled to join the Brotherton Circle, our exclusive donor recognition society created to thank those who are supporting the University in this unique way”.  I assure you I’m not making this up btw.  It is good to see that you can still send off sixpence for exclusive membership of the Tufty Club though...Personally I’m still saving the Bazooka comics...They have a range of exclusive benefits too...
Enough already!

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's a bit obvious is a bit obvious with it being Friday 14th and all that.  I think you may still be able to download this for free from Bandcamp...

Fills the corporte tat and chocolate gap between Christmas and Easter...But hey, I did get a song out of it!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's not just goverment you know...

Here’s another belter of a question from a recent YouGov poll – “Do you think Special K having an exclusive partnership with Kylie Minogue where she helps promote their products would be a good thing for Special K?”
Well?!  C'mon...answer dammit!
Clearly I wanted to give them the full benefit of my opinion on this.  Just in case you were interested – my opinion is that Special K is cornflakes for the sort of people who go on diets and succumb to ‘marketing’.  Smaller box, less calories for your money, all that stuff - but lots of pictures of strawberries and thin women with floaty scarves...least that's how I remember it...
By the way, you could spend ages deconstructing that Kylie question – why for example should anyone waste a second of their time thinking what would be good for a ridiculous brand? – mine you, I still worry about Commander Black Cherry helping out the fruit starved Yogons...I might even make a list of ridiculous advertising stuff that I remember for no good reason.  But first I have to chat to my girlfriends about 'serum'. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In floods of private tears...

Do you think it uncharitable to suggest that the floods are suddenly like, really important since they started affecting the Home Counties and the Thames Valley? 

I trust the very well off Thames Valley types who read and write for the Daily Mail et al have been investing the tax cuts they’ve had over recent years in fantastically efficient private sector solutions to flooding – or will they be wanting help from the public services they don’t think are worth paying for?  I exclude the small number of non Tory voters in the Home Counties from this sneer of course...
They could get Barclays round with wads of cash from bonuses to soak up the water couldn't they? 
Incidentally, why don't those who employ people in actual useful jobs like emptying the bins and turning people over in bed to prevent bed sores have to attract 'the very best' by paying 6 figure bonuses?  The answer is that they have to attract very special people I guess - and there aren't enough ambitious, greedy criminal incompetents to go round...    

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Oooh, Leeds! Callahan and Bramwell

Sometimes Leeds is a good place.  And here's to 2 of Leeds' medium sized venues, namely the Irish Centre and the Brudenell Social Club!  Why? the space of 3 days I've seen 2 of the world's current songwriting geniuses (geniei?) in venues where I could hear and see 'em properly.

Wednesday was Bill Callahan at the Irish Centre - a man who tells stories that both ring true and are clearly (sometimes) made up.  A man who can twist a song's meaning around with a single pause or a single word.  A man who gets better and better who's latest album is a work of genius (there's that word again).

I may write more later but for now you really should buy his latest album followed by his back catalogue.  His band is ace too - everything perfectly chosen, tasteful in a proper rock and roll way...

And last night John Bramwell (from I am Kloot) doing a solo set at the Brudenell Social Club (the venue where everyone you love was on 6 months ago and you missed them...) - tales of love, the stars, the meaning of everyday life, the moon and ordinary things from a romantic poet who owns a van.  The man is a staggeringly good guitar player - I don't mean in the diddly diddly look how fast he can play way but in the clever subtle choice of chords, runs, backing bits...but most of all brilliant, brilliant songs.

To explain the 'van' comment...I Am Kloot have a song that includes the line 'put your (or 'the' can't remember) suitcase in the van'.  And this sums up to me where his songs come from - He is indeed a romantic poet but he's the sort of romantic poet that, were you to run away with, you'd do it in a Transit and not in a horse and carriage or a limo.

So, two blindingly great singer / songwriters.  Both over 30 (and more!) and at the absolute top of their game.  AND I GOT TO SEE THEM LIVE, IN PERSON, IN THE FLESH IN THE SPACE OF 3 DAYS IN LEEDS!  This is a bit like stumbling across Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan playing at your local pub in the same week...

Point is that you can see songwriting geniuses in Leeds at good venues (and £1.98 for a pint of Theakston's at the Brudenell people!) and you really should do it.  100 years after they're dead they'll be hailed by the whole world (well, possibly) and they're out and about now...

OK, I promise to get miserable again soon...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is the Neeews!

I was watching the lunchtime news on BBC1 just now.  Top story was DLT (the ‘Hairy Cornflake’ fact fans!) allegedly touching up a girl on Top of the Pops in the 1970s.  The jury are invited to decide his guilt on the basis of the change of expression of the girl in a video clip of TOTP apparently.  The old ‘hide your crime away by doing it live on TV in front of an audience' trick eh?

Then we move on to an interview with someone who might know the French president’s wife for some speculation on how unhappy she may be to hear that her husband might be having an affair.

Then there’s an advert for live coverage of the press conference on French economic policy that may be ‘overshadowed’ by the fact that a French man might be having an affair with a French woman.

Then it’s back to sex with an explanation that Bill Roche is an actor and not actually Ken Barlow from Corrie (thanks for that BBC) - and a sex case from 50 years ago.

Then it’s over to a YouTube clip of an elephant overturning a car (I promise you I am not making this up!)...But it’s relevant because there was a British person involved.

After that lot we were finally rescued from this tosh torrent by Look North - who were featuring the man writing the official song of the Tour de France...

I decided to ask the BBC if we could have some like, you know, news at some point.  I went to the BBC website and found there was ‘have your say’ section.  I rather hoped for an email address or a ‘complaints’ button or something.  Maybe even a postal address for Lord Reith?  Instead you can send them a text or ‘send us your videos, pictures and stories’ to which I am tempted to say – 'employ some bloody journalists and find your own videos, pictures and stories BBC’  Thank goodness there was a link to ‘boiling water to snow web craze’ to prove they’re not afraid of the serious matters of the day.

For completeness here’s the text of the er, text I sent them (since I couldn’t be bothered searching for an email address).

“Dear BBC, what happened to the lunchtime news?  We had a DJ touching up a girl on Top of the Pops, an ‘expert’ telling us about a French woman who may be unhappy and a YouTube clip of an elephant turning over a car!  I look forward to all the goss from the BB house at 10 o’clock.  Could we have some news and / or journalism at some point please?  Or if you’re short I have some video of cats falling off things?  Yours sincerely John Parkes (in Leeds)”
I don't suppose I can expect a reply in the whizzy have your say interactive multi-platform modern world...