Thursday, December 31, 2009

Me and Dave

I read a report recently about the ‘Integrated Processes Development Day’ which involved ‘the third sector’ (my speech marks for those who don’t talk like this) in the development of the ‘Children Leeds Workforce Development Strategy’. One of the follow-ups is to see what training people require ‘to enable engagement in workforce strategy development’. The evaluation will ‘contribute to the development of the Children Leeds Workforce Strategy and in particular evidence the position the sector is in with reference to the development of the Children Leeds Strategy and will be presented to the Directorate of Children’s Services and also to the Children’s Workforce Development Council’. Meanwhile the Council hasn’t got enough money to pay the binmen...

I wonder now if I’m a Tory because when I hear David Cameron going on about getting rid of useless quangos I say ‘right on Dave’ or perhaps I’m some sort of Maoist for wishing everyone involved in the ‘Integrated Processes Development Day’ had been forced at gunpoint to empty the bins when the bin workers were on strike.

Nearly all the conferences and meetings and stuff about strategies and partnerships that I have anything to do with all seem to be based on the concept that people are useless at their jobs and if they only signed up to ‘partnership working’ and whatever else the clever people who meet each other think is a good idea they would work much more efficiently. The trouble is that so many people are at meetings they can’t get any work done. There should be NO jobs in the world in my view that only involve meetings. People should either DO STUFF or BE PAID TO STAY AT HOME DOING WHAT THE HELL THEY LIKE!

It seems to me that if people ‘out there’ found out what their money was being spent on there’d be riots.

The 'Yorkshire and Humber Regional Active Citizenship Learning Alliance'

Sometimes the best way to express dismay, concern and perhaps a soupcon of scepticism is to simply state the name of something. For example, the 'Yorkshire and Humber Regional Active Citizenship Learning Alliance'. I assure you that this is not made up. It exists. And they were having a workshop! ‘Surely not’ you cry. Oh yes they were; the lathes went in yesterday and they produced 300 widgets last week. No, they didn’t. They had a ‘workshop’ for ‘Active citizens, people on learning programmes, Local Authority staff, learning providers’ and apparently ‘Take Part pathfinder projects’.

I present their draft programme below. I’m not picking on them but it is so typical of the sort of thing I occasionally go to where people collude in pretending they’re learning or doing some good for somebody. This is verbatim:

“Draft Programme

Brief Input from
• Learners stories
• The Radical Hillbillies – inspiring video from America

Story Tables
• Showcasing what has worked (and what hasn’t) from around the region using an accessible storytelling style – the chance to hear and discuss several ‘stories’

Inter-active Noticeboard
• The chance to ‘post’ your ideas and comments throughout the day via computers in the room linked to a big screen noticeboard – a rolling discussion forum open to all

Lunchtime Market place for stalls
• Bring and share information about your project

Put your Project on the Map – literally!
• A large map of the region will be on the wall – bring details of your project to pin on to the map

Contribute to RACLA development
• A fun exercise to collect your views about the Alliance – what you want and what you can contribute. Open session to agree outline programme and priorities for the next 6 months”

There you go, ‘the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Active Citizenship Learning Alliance as Harry Hill might say. They are a caution!
The Digital Activist Inclusion Network (DAIN) is "an exciting innovative transnational project which aims to develop, test and deliver approaches to challenge the digital divide, ultimately helping to widen participation in employment and learning."

Just so you know.

There was a conference to "explore practical approaches to challenging digital exclusion"

Just so as you know. The world is full of this stuff...

Degrees of madness

How does this all work then? I want my mileage in miles per gallon though I only know how much petrol costs per litre. I want my low temperatures in Celsius so I can say it’s ‘4 below zero’ or whatever but I want my high temperatures in Fahrenheit so I can say ‘it’s 85 degrees’. I want my big distances in miles but small ones are fine in centimetres. I would never of course consider measuring anyone’s penis – but if I did it would absolutely have to be in inches. Am I normal?


Here’s a simple question. Why is it that if you do something helpful for society like emptying the bins or wiping old people’s bottoms you get paid about £13,000 a year? If you sit in ‘strategy’ meetings deciding whether to put ‘resources’ into things you get about £30,000 a year. If you gamble with other people’s money, lose and then fleece the people who earn £13,000 a year when it all goes wrong you earn £100,000+ The less actual use people’s job is the more they seem to earn.

‘Ah yes, but what about doctors?’ I hear the annoying twat at the back ask. ‘They have to train for 7 years’ they go on. Here’s where you get into the argument about people being suited to things and where people somehow think you’re saying that everyone should be paid exactly the same whatever they do. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m suggesting that it would be good if pay related to how hard people worked and how useful what they do is – EVEN A TINY BIT! So there!

Eggs for Christmas

If you have a fantastically good memory you may recall me relating my scrambling egg hunting last Easter when I thought I might buy a couple of Easter eggs on the day before Easter (what a crazy guy eh!?) I found of course that capitalism had already moved on to the next consumer fest and it wasn’t allowed. Well, it’s happened again! Last time I was simply able to say ‘screw you Mr Tesco / Wilkinson / Sainsbury etc’ and decided to buy something a little more value for money. This time I was on a particular mission for a nine year old – for an Advent Calendar...

I thought I’d buy one on the 1st December and take it home in time for ‘window one’ to be opened that day. They’d been on the shelves in impossible quantities a couple of weeks before. I won’t go on but it was the same story – tour of supermarkets over 2 days (along with dozens of other people who seemed to be scouring the relevant section, looking disappointed and moving on), asking in supermarkets, staff shaking their heads in disbelief, disapproval and in some cases sympathy, with the words ‘you could try Wilkos’ issuing from the least judgemental. I would look round with my best screwed up teary toddler face and say ‘I’ve already tried there’ attempting to sound cheerful and hoping to find the strength to add a bright ‘but thanks anyway’.

Actually of course, I’d tried 3 branches of Wilkos first. Incidentally I still find it weird that if you added a separate record counter with surly teenager you could turn any Wilkos into an old school Woolies at the drop of a record counter featuring a surly teenager selling only the top 30. How anything actually got into the top 30 was a mystery too far for Woolies. Mm, ‘uses blog to slag off branches of Woollies from 30 years ago – discuss’

Anyway, I would now like to slide from vaguely pathetic to smug bastard – because here are your reactions (and my reactions to your answers!)

If you think ‘If you’re going to do something that stupid you get what you deserve’ you are clearly helplessly under the thumb of Mr Tesco and his billionaire mates and you think that you are there to service the shopping system.

If you think ‘Well there were loads of them where I was – and they were selling them off cheap’ not only are you smug and annoying but you’re JUST PLAIN WRONG!!! You got the dates wrong you idiot – you’re thinking of mid November so fuck off and die!

If you think ‘Everyone knows it’s like that, that’s capitalism, you shouldn’t be surprised’ then you’re one of those lefties whose leftie-dom consists of passing judgement in a self-satisfied ‘I told you so’ kind of way while doing precisely nothing to change anything. I bet you’re a college lecturer or something and earn £30 grand a year (which incidentally, in my world counts as a lot!)

Just to impart a nice circular logic, guess what’s now on sale in Tescos (on 31st December) That’s right – Easter eggs. Get ‘em while it’s still the wrong year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Selling half an idea

Anyone ever been on a training course? Did you (or your organisation) pay for it?

Here’s how it works. Somebody had an ‘insight’ or some other ‘good idea’ and realised that they could radically improve upon what everyone was doing before. Funnily enough this idea needed some jargon, acronyms and a book (for sale) to explain it. And some training courses.

You turn up to find the categories they use never quite work, the acronyms are just a leedle bit strained and the human behaviour explained is just a little bit too organised and simplified to be real. However, the descriptions ring true to the extent of raising a half smile of recognition as you sit there wondering who you fancy and what sort of biscuits they might have at break time. ‘Hey, people really are like this a bit aren’t they, when you think about it’ you think to yourself. ‘This guy really seems to have stumbled on something’.

Fact is he hasn’t. It’s a very slightly different way of looking at the ways that people behave. The sort of idea any of us might have over a pint. The difference is that this idea has been expanded into a book and sold. The sort of people who organise these sorts of things get really ‘excited’ and ‘passionate’ about the idea (and as everyone knows, only sex and music are worth the effort of excitement and passion). And before you know it you’re talking utter bollocks trying to put people into boxes and talking about the ‘kind’ of people they are and how to predict their behaviour or manage them. It’s like star signs really – and if you believe in them at all leave now.

You collect the notes, a copy of the PowerPoint show and nick a small packet of fruit shrewsburys on the way out after lying on the feedback form out of politeness to the hosts who were sort of OK, in the end. You put the notes in a drawer and put them in the bin when you leave that job. The information in your head disappeared before you’d got the bus home on the day. £300 a head or something. But it wasn’t the management theory from the 60’s. It was an update.

I'm going to write “The 7 life Changing Habits of Massive Wankers”. And "Discovering the Key to the Inner Self (of the Bloody Drone Office Worker)”.

Mind you, you got a day out of work. This course also adds to the Gross Domestic Product you know. And you could've at least spoken to the woman with the legs.

Breaded Icelandic Cod Fillets

Say it again! That’s right! Breaded. Icelandic. Cod. Fillets!

Ingredients: Cod (55%)! That’s right 55%.

If you or I took some cod and covered it in breadcrumbs (even supposing we were prepared to countenance use of the verb ‘to bread’) how many percent do you reckon you could get to? 2%? 5%? 10% even, at a push if you really piled 'em on?

The cod is of course ‘formed’. I suppose this means they get crappy bits and stick them together with gloop before covering them with orange dyed gloop. Funnily enough, when the ‘forming’ procedure is complete, the ‘cod’ comes out in the shape of erm, a cod fillet. ‘Fillet’ will of course have some legal definition negotiated by the food manufacturers. It will no doubt mean that the bones have been taken out and this will no doubt be technically correct. Anyone who sees the shape and assumes that the product is a piece of cod with some breadcrumbs on it is just asking for it really aren’t they? I mean, no-one is that that duh?

In the real world, put these ‘breaded Icelandic cod fillets’ in front of 100 people and how many people will think that it’s a piece of cod in breadcrumbs? The stupid 98% I reckon. And the other 2 of us are the kind of people with the inclination to read labels and complain. To a blog...

Why is there not a rebellion? And I don’t mean buying a whole a cod from Tescos for £38.50 or whatever. Not that kind of rebellion. I mean the boycott everything, storm the factory gates and start stringing people up kind of rebellion. Or I could write a letter. The reply would burble on about quality control and excellence and, yeah, waddever. Even I draw the line somewhere. At about 55%.

Ink again then ink for a third time

I hate printer ink manufacturers as much as I hate Firstbus. Basically they rip you off and there’s nothing you can do about it. We got a new computer and printer recently. We said we wanted a printer that was cheap on ink as the manufacturers are such rip-off bastards. The man in the shop (a proper computer shop) went on for a bit about how cheap this one was to run. So 2 weeks and half a dozen pages of printing later it’s running out of ink. Well, course it is, I should've known.

Luckily, Epson are on the case, sending emails offering us the opportunity to buy more. £9.79 a pop. That’s not for the full set of course, that’s for one. A tenner for a black ejaculation’s worth of ink. It’d have to be Michael Jackson spunk for me to pay that much (I wonder if his spunk was black? - ask one of the mothers of his dangly children I suppose - ha ha!) But hey, it’s only £33.57 for the full set – a tossing bargain.

Ironically they will have got my email address when I ‘registered the product’. I ‘registered the product’ because it mentioned asking for people’s opinions. I was going to tell them what I thought of their ink prices!
Hoist by my own consumerist, objecting, naively buying into the game bleedin’ petard. You can’t win.

Mmm, lovely green oven

We need a new oven. Boring, not very rock and roll but the old one is shagged out. We really do need a new oven. The door won’t close for a start and I can’t fix it.

But how ‘green’ can we be when we buy a new one? Excitingly, all the relevant ovens in the Homebase catalogue have a green rating of 'A' or 'B'. Brilliant, we can choose any one of ‘em and it’ll be at the top or next to the top of the green-ness tree! We can do our bit by buying more stuff. They’ve even got a nice logo and name ‘Ecohome products that don’t cost the earth’. ‘Don’t cost the earth!’ Wow, these marketing people are clever eh?

Well that’s nice. Clearly 'A' will be the most greenest oven ever. It’ll be a Greenpeace tree-loving oxygen- breathing friend of the earth - the ‘more you buy the longer the earth will survive’ oven. Course it will.

The truth of course is a little different. It turns out that rating ‘B’ is the second worst on the green rating shitometer. This is of course because the range goes not from 'A' to 'E' say. Oh no, that’s just what you unsophisticated uneducated types might expect. It actually goes from ‘A++’ through ‘A+’ and A and stops at C. So, even by the people who want to sell you stuff’s standards 'A' is middling at best and 'B' is a bit shit.

Maybe these ovens need building up due to low self-esteem? Either that or it’s a con. Just give everything a rating that sounds good or at least OK and carry on buying the planet to a crisp. A fan assisted one. In a handcart. A handcart made in natural woven flax in Indonesia by flooded out orphans. Just keep buying and we can all die quickly.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I like Top Gear!

Hate to admit it but I actually like Top Gear. Except when they talk about cars. Then its rubbish.

Charlie Brooker

I've just finished reading my rather out of date Charlie Brooker book - and it's brilliant. I think I said this a while ago but Charlie, you've clearly worked out how shite television is. May I humbly suggest that instead of just slagging it off in a truth pointing out, entertaining way, JUST STOP WATCHING IT! I should re-write this and make it funnier and easier to follow grammatically. But I'm not paid by the Guardian so I won't.

Incidentally, if you're chav scum you read about Jordon, Jade, Peter and the rest. If you're a Guardian reader, you read about the press reaction to Jordan, Jade, Peter and the rest. This means you're better than them. Apparently.


It’s interesting to see that the paedophile scare continues with the whole registering and checking up on everyone. A man on the radio yesterday pointed out that he was having to pay the government £64 for a piece of paper telling him he wasn’t a paedophile and why the hell should he. Clearly he had to be checked because as a man he is a potential rapist or paedophile. Or worse! We need to be watched, catalogued and controlled all the time because we are all potential criminals in one way or another. But who would be up for doing that? - Hey, it's New Labour!

I may have mentioned this previously but here are three small ways in which religion has let me down. What I mean is actually three ways in which religious words and phrases have turned out to be, well, very disappointing and generally nothing-ey now I’m an adult.

For example, when I was a kid 'holy water' was something that could dissolve vampires and protect people from possession and all kinds of cool stuff. You should, it would seem, always have a vial (and it would never be a Tupperware cup) on hand for when things get really heavy, supernatural wise. It turns out that Holy Water is actually just water that a priest has talked to, or to be fair, over. A bit like one might while doing the washing up. I suppose it's the ritual that makes the difference. That would be the thing that makes it worth crossing people’s heads with and the rest.

Similarly ‘the last rites’ (which of course are always ‘administered’, no-one talks about a priest ‘muttering’ the last rites which it seems to me would be at least as accurate). Once again, when I was a kid I thought that this was some sort of treat. It was so fantastic and so good that you had to get it once before you die and if you’d never had it a bloke would rush round to your death bed to make sure you didn’t miss out. I could only imagine that this would be like having one’s dying trouser pockets filled with sweets of such unimaginable quality you could die happy just imagining the treat that you were probably not going to get due to your imminent death. I wondered if the ‘last rites’ somehow got taken back if you actually managed to pull through and the shameful priest would have to beg you not to tell. Once again, seems that the last rites are (or is?) a prayer. I’m not a Catholic incidentally and I can’t be arsed to check.

Finally there’s ‘consecrated ground’. Don’t be bad enough to be buried in non-consecrated ground because God won’t tolerate ground that hasn’t had words spoken over it by a vicar. I wish I could consecrate things by talking. Or make them sacred. I guess I’m stuck with ‘defiling’ and ‘polluting’ (like some men do with their bodies so I hear...) Perhaps religion is not for me.

I'm off to 'harvest' some names of teenagers from the internet so I can 'groom' them for something wicked.


I wonder what would happen if someone conducted a proper survey into what sort of preventable things actually kill people? I mean as opposed to the things that people, the government and the Daily Mail think will kill them.

For example, my guess is that terrorism doesn’t kill very many people. Car crashes on the other hand kill people every day. So how about doing away with the entire anti-terrorist organisation and putting the money into getting people onto trams and trains? Could we get away from that earnest ‘tribute to our emergency / armed services’ thing too? That'd be a bonus.

You could maybe not have a war in Afganistan and put the money into predicting earthquakes, that sort of thing.

There is no hope

There were a few very weird sights at Lotherton Hall bird garden last weekend. Some of the birds were a bit odd too...Boom boom! Seriously though, I did wonder which side of the fence the exhibits were on. The big raven in particular seemed to make more sense than the idiots making weird noises at it. Just idiot people I suppose...

Bah bah, bah bah ba ba bah!

There are few records I really loathe. There's that Friends theme of course and My Sharona by the Knack. Top of the pile however, and my vote for the worst record ever made - ever - is The Final Countdown by Europe. The genre is 'soft metal' I believe. If you need me to explain why that particular genre is 'a bad idea' then leave immediately please. Spandex, poodle hair, strangled high vocals and of course worst of all, fake brass - on a keyboard. Used as a lead instrument! No No No!!

I could check out and then detail their other crimes against humanity (finding our which country they came from for one thing) but that'd mean new memories to add to the old ones from way back when. You don't forget these kinds of atrocities. So, no!

The reason I mention this is that 'Europe' are playing in Leeds soon! If you must go to a cheesy 'rock' gig then you can see Saxon supported by Anvil! But Europe? I bet there's some sort of promotional tie in with Magic FM and Mike's Carpets. Probably with the same DJ (do they still have DJs or does it all come down a pipe direct from corporate musical hell?) who helps judge battle of the bands competitions and ruins the fireworks displays at Roundhay Park by playing shite pop music over them on an inedequate PA system.

On the subject of keyboards, I remember John Peel explaining (not in person, on his show) about how he did his record shopping. He'd pick up a record and look at the band line up. If they had a keyboard player he'd just not buy the record. Simple, classic, elegant and true. There's a man who knew stuff. There's too much prejudice and fundamentalism in the real world but not enough in music.

"99% is shit". True then, true now. The Final Countdown is 73% of the 99%.


They’ve finally got round to demolishing the Leeds International swimming pool. They could have kept it open a couple more years instead of closing it and leaving it to rot. They could have just not sold it off to property developers at all. They could have built a new city centre pool.

Public amenity vs the builders of the slums of the (near) future. Guess who wins – every time.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

They're taking my ideas and doing them better!

This is really depressing. I keep discovering people who do what I do but get paid for it. Now you might think I'm talking about music here - rubbish bands who are more successful than the one I'm in but not half as good. Well, yes, but I've known that for ages. But now I keep discovering that this applies to writing as well. A couple of Christmases ago someone bought me that book 'Is it just me or is everything shit', this is followed up by the whole 'Grumpy Old...' series and now I have a book by Charlie Brooker. They all do what I do on this blog but somehow have successfully hit the 'monetise' button.

Maybe they're just funnier than me. Charlie Brooker is. However, he is also as stupid as the telly he writes about. He obviously knows that telly is a complete waste of time but somehow hasn't worked out that the best course of action would be to stop watching it. Similarly, somebody Delingpole wrote a book called 'How to be Right'. This is a funny book but he appears to labour under the delusion that he's right-wing in some sort of anti left wing Guardian reader kind of way. He rants about things that are really annoying. And yet he somehow thinks that these things are 'left wing'. Nope, they're just things that are annoying. I think he works for the Telegraph - ha ha!

And the grumpy old men books are simply stories of reasonable, intelligent human beings being wound up by nonsense. Subsequently they're not very funny. And the Grumpy Old Women series is where somebody lost the plot completely.

Mind you, this is all out of date. I guess that finding that other people think the same (I only find out these things by accident as I don't read the papers or watch telly much) is being part of the zeitgeist or something? Am I part of the zeitgeist of 4 years ago?

More Bankers

A few weeks back I paid a cheque into the building society from my bank current account – Thinking that it takes a while for a cheque to go through I took a couple of days to get round to making an on-line transfer from one account to another (at the same branch) to cover the cheque. I went overdrawn and was charged £42! According to the subsequent paperwork the cheque was cashed on the same day and my transfer took 2 days (computers don’t work at the weekend it would seem) to go through. I complained at the bank and got some snotty attitude about it being ‘illegal’ to write a cheque when you haven’t got money in the account to cover it. Not that the sodding NatWest would ever commit itself to spending money it couldn’t cover eh?

The difference is that I did have the money – and at the same bank. To be fair to NatWest this is the first time they’ve really pissed me off in a very long time (and in the modern world where pissing customers off while banging on about ‘enhancing the customer experience’ and suchlike is a national pastime this is an achievement) so I didn’t immediately close my account with them. However, I’ve now moved all my money about and put it in building societies - and deprived NatWest of at least £42 in profit they would’ve made from me. I certainly hope so anyway. They enforced their rules and think they got away with it. But they didn’t. Better than burning the building down, if not quite as satisfying.

As an interesting (to me) aside, last week I got a leaflet from NatWest (‘Helpful Banking’ it says on it) explaining ‘The cheque clearing cycle’. Sounds like the cheque will sprout legs, pupate and become a butterfly cheque souring to the sun on wings of purest NatWest gossamer. What it actually says is that 6 days after ‘Transaction Day’ (when you pay the cheque in) ‘the customer can be sure that the money is theirs and it cannot be reclaimed’. That’s 6 days after the transaction day. Unless it a cheque to another financial institution it would seem, in which case they can do it in one. I heard a couple of years back that banks were going to speed up cheques. All that ‘3 days to clear’ would be a thing of the past. They obviously did change it – from 3 to 6 days. Capitalism is so efficient since the triumph of Thatcherism eh?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Double meanings / misunderstandings 2

I’m aware that people are into ringtones these days. I was intrigued therefore to discover old people apparently having them delivered in a small van.

I thought you called up or load-downed them from the interweb or something. Unfortunately the van turned out not to be selling ringtones but was actually from Ringtons (the tea and coffee delivery people). I should've known that ringtones don't get delivered in a 'traditional style' wicker basket.

Double meanings / misunderstandings 1

I rather liked the idea of Stanningley Road in Armley being dug up and repaired by Koalas. They could nip up to Town Street to see if the new shiny pie shop sells eucalyptus leaves.

Unfortunately, the people doing the road turned out to be a company called ‘Colas’ and not koalas at all (yes, we know they're not bears at all, actually...) Mind you, if one of the colas was Panda Cola...

Now I know for a fact that they are bears (or not, obviously)

More stuff with which to deal

I’m getting sick of being invited to enter talent competitions. The ‘Independent Music Awards’ for example. They say it could make you famous. I suppose it could. On the other hand it could just mean paying $30 to be 'judged' by Aimee Mann. Oh, and the bloke from the Smithereens (who’s roadie incidentally acted like a total arsehole when I was in a band that supported them many years ago – people don’t forget this kind of stuff).

There was another one that appears to be sponsored by Barclay’s Bank. They’re the people who know about cutting edge guitar and singer / schlongwriter music I suppose.

It’s easy to despair.

Friday, August 07, 2009

I am sooo cool

Hey, I'm cool! This is my cool summer holiday reading list - and it's cool. You may disagree...

The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories
The Baader Meinhof Complex by Stefan Aust
High Priests, Quantum Genes by Michael Hayes (subtitle: Science, Religion and the Theory of Everything’)
Holocaust – A History by D. Dwork & R Van Pelt
Archangel by Robert Harris

Either that or I'm reading the latest Katie Price and a three day old Daily Mail down at Alison and Dave's English fry-up bar in Majorca


You should read Paddington books for the social history. The Browns for example have a few quid (they have a live-in housekeeper...) but at Christmas they're staying in one room because there's no fire in the other room. They don't seem to have heating at all upstairs - and they use whitewash to paint. And so it goes on - ticket collectors on barriers. Well, as I say, it goes on.

If you've never heard of Paddington he's a Peruvian bear who speaks English and likes marmalade. Keep up.

Definitely a Dad!

I’d like to admit to some extremely ‘Dad-ish’ behaviour recently. This has been disputed by at least one person I know who told me that this behaviour had nothing in it inherent to being a Dad (there goes my grammar again…possibly) I disagree. Only Dads would do this.

So, here we go (swallows hard) – last Saturday morning I found myself pacing up and down, waiting, listening and looking at my watch because I wanted ‘a word with the binmen’. I’m sorry, but wanting a word with the binmen is just something that only a properly seasoned Dad would do.

Having a word with the binmen would normally involve a complaint, so for those who are interested I have to tell you that this ‘word’ was not a complaint – I was getting rid of bananas! I’m not going to explain that further just because its not very interesting.

I’m off to draw shapes round all my tools and hang them on the garage wall on individual hooks with labels.

Calling David Slade

Years ago I was in a band called Greenhouse and a bloke called David Slade did a video for us. I think he must’ve done it for free or certainly for very little so he’s certainly in my list of ‘good guys’. It featured lots of quick flashing Super-8 images and pretty good it was too – though didn’t actually feature the band very much at all which was a bit frustrating at the time. Turns out that he’s now pretty famous – he’s done videos for Stone Temple Pilots, Muse, Aphex Twin and Tori Amos apparently (incidentally I managed to persuade a colleague once that this was pronounced ‘Torremolinos’ but that’s another story…) as well as directing the film ‘Hard Candy’.

Well, I’ve dug out the video and had it transferred to DVD and I want to put in on youtube. Thing is, I don’t really want to do this without him saying it’s OK. The video starts with ‘Copyright David Slade 1991’ on it, though he gave us the copyright as a thank you / apology for some delay in finishing it off. I think we had that in writing and I may even have the letter (though that might be a bit of a long shot).

So, to cut a long story short should David himself read this (which I guess is unlikely!) or if anyone knows him maybe you’d put him in touch somehow. I’m sure Greenhouse do own the copyright and I can’t think of any circumstance which would make it worth money but if ‘copyright David Slade’ pops up on youtube there might be someone who’ll get upset. On the other hand it’d be a bit rubbish just to edit that bit off the beginning. I guess I should relax and just use it like everyone else seems to do and I’m sure he wouldn’t find his ‘early work’ embarrassing but I’m putting this on t’blog as a kind of public record that I was looking for him and wanted to ask if it was OK and if he remembers giving us the copyright. So David, if you’re out there I’d like to put the Greenhouse video on youtube and I’d like you to confirm that’s OK with you!

Total Anchors

It’s weird how whole rafts of apparently intelligent English speaking human beings can get the meaning of simple words wrong – or at least not realise that some words have more than one meaning. A few years back even Leeds City Council realised that the proposed ‘Community Regeneration and Planning’ department would be called CRAP…Actually, that’s spotting the acronym I guess. Anyway, through work I occasionally see mention of ‘Community Anchors’. The ‘Community Alliance’ (tag line: ‘transformation through community anchors’!) defines them as “independent community-led organisations. They are multi-purpose and provide holistic solutions to local problems and challenges, bringing out the best in people and agencies”. Nuff said...

Actually, I’ve probably mentioned this before – but here goes again…Thing is, most people know what an anchor is (leaving aside any rhymes that may spring to mind) – it’s something on a long heavy chain you throw overboard which then drags along the bottom slowing you down until finally you come to a complete stop. So who wants to be in an organisation described as a ‘community anchor? And I wonder where the money comes from for this?


This is a bit old now but here it is anyway -

I know having a pop at ITV is like shooting ducks in a barrel or something but the advert for a programme called ‘anonymous’ was indeed a wonder to behold. What you do is take a small group of people you don’t recognise and nobody has heard of; then you disguise them so no-one will know who they are. Finally you send them out into the street to see if anybody recognises them! Totally brilliant! If I remember rightly even the makers of this programme may it seems have spotted the fatal flaw (i.e. that no one recognises or has heard of their ‘celebrities’) by making them interact with friends and relatives to se if they recognise them. I was very disappointed to find the advert at the pictures featuring kids breaking up clouds was an advert for ITV – if only the programmes were as good…

Mind you, the BBC had a woman crawling round the floor eating dog food from a bowl so she could experience what it was like to be a dog - and a man in pigshit. It is good to know you're not missing anything on telly.

The ID Card

Hey folks, the government are still after you and Big Brother has not taken his beady eye off your balls. This is recent stuff from NO2ID. The whole anti ID thing is basically about not being catalogued and tracked by the state like you were one of their pets.

** The ID scheme has NOT been shelved, cancelled, or even significantlychanged **Once more government spin has triumphed and much of the media has got itwrong. The new Home Secretary Alan Johnson has not made any significant changes to the scheme. Compulsion by stealth is still the order of theday, just as it always was. Someone joining the ID scheme 'voluntarily'will still be placing control of their identity in the hands of the IPS for life.The Home Office line remains the same. No compulsion (as the Home Office defines it) was going to be applied until almost everyone had'volunteered' and then it was only a matter of rounding up a minority of resisters and marginalised people.The Home Office's idea of "voluntary" is not the same as yours and mine. Since 2004 the scheme was (and it still is) to proceed by "designating"one-by-one under the Identity Cards Act 2006 other documents issued by official bodies -- in the first place passports. Once a document has been designated, you won't be able to apply for one without also applying to be entered, for life, on the national identity register. If you don't agree to be registered it won't be that you are refused (say) a passport; you'd have voluntarily decided not to apply. There's no compulsion to have a passport. It is useful for travelling. But you aren't compelled to travel. Or (say) to drive. Or to work as a security guard. Or with children. Or in healthcare. To get parole from prison. To practice as a lawyer. ...Any official licence, registration certificate or permit can be designated, and -- in the home office's skewed logic -- handing control of your identity to the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service will still be entirely voluntary. That they were due for a confrontation with the airside worker's unions over designating new passes at Manchester and City Airports is an illustration of just how voluntary "voluntary" really is. But the fact they have now ducked that fight for political convenience suggests saying no does work - if you say it loudly enough.

So...(this is back to me now) Just say no - and watch out for the Community Support riot police...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bus Drivers

Well, who'd have thought? Within the last couple of weeks I have twice found myself running for a bus just as it was about to pull away. Guess what happened...On both of these occasions the bus driver stopped, opened the doors and actually let me on! This is First Bus! In Leeds!

Maybe they've had a training course or had rear view mirrors fitted. Perhaps I was just lucky. Maybe we'll reach a point when this will not be worthy of note. Anyway, good news for once.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Car Clock

Apologies if this has been posted before, I can't remember and I can't be bothered to check...

On our old car you changed the clock by grabbing a sticky - out bit and twiddling it until the clock showed the right time. It even had little buttons for making fine adjustment. Easy, intuitive, mechanical (even though it was electric – you know what I mean) – and no problem. Now we have a new car. It is not possible to change the time on the clock! Not possible. The manual even admits it might not be possible. The car does all kind of stuff automatically (to the extent that if it breaks down a mechanic is the last person you want around) but you cannot set the clock to the right time!

The person or people who dreamt this up are probably still working in the motor industry. Why is there not a rebellion? We also have a spare tyre that only goes at 60km or something. Oh, and all the useful boot / back space has been neatly walled in with plastic so the car is much bigger but doesn’t have actual usable room – presumably we’re only allowed to use the small square space because we’re not qualified to stick things into nooks and crannies. I’ll be wanting to just open the door with a ‘key’ or wanting to wind the window down myself at this rate. Too late, sorry! And yet it takes the manual 15 pages to explain all this convenient simplicity!

I found out after writing this that with 20 minutes reading, a copy of the manual and half a dozen people you can actually set the clock to the right time! You can feel very proud of yourself - until you turn the ignition off when the clock sets itself to the wrong time again! Hurray!

Hand-washing Hand-wringing and the BNP

People keep sending me links to the 'not in my name' petition about the BNP. What a horrible whinging liberal thing this is - 'oh, like I'm terribly sorry but like, I didn't, like vote for them'. Yeah, you sign to say 'I didn't vote for them'. Great, that'll show Nick and the lads eh?

Maybe you didn't vote for them, but do you think signing a hand-wringing hand-washing petition will make any difference? We all know that most BNP supporters are those grey, pinched ugly people with no dress sense who smell a bit looking for someone else to blame for their unhappiness and lack of success in life. However, due to the fact that there is a lot of social injustice about (thanks New Labour for widening that class and income gap!) there are more of these people and they're fucking ignorant. So, you have to actually talk to people and learn stuff and put it about - and if you actually put some effort in rather than whining to your Guardian reading friends you might just prevent some people with legitimate concerns about political correctness and equality etc voting for the BNP.

Incidentally, the BNP are wide open on what they probably see as their home turf - patriotism. There's no more fun to be had than chatting to a potential BNP supporter quoting stuff about our glorious boys sticking it to the Nazis and quoting Winston Churchill's proud defence of the English as a 'mongrel race'.

Having said all that there's a great bit in a Woody Allen film where someone is talking about taking on Nazis via a great letter to the New York Times, while Woody is more inclined to actually get down there with baseball bats.

Finally, it is difficult to convince anyone that the BNP are Nazis when they're not allowed to give the salute openly and be overtly racist and the rest. This means that they should either be allowed to be publically racist so people can see them for what they really are or you need to have arguements ready that concede that they may not all actually be racist at all - there's plently of madness to go at, you just have to find the right bits. In the end not that many people are really so stupid you can't talk to them.

So...uncle John says jaw jaw not bleat bleat - and have that baseball bat to hand if its needed. Mind how you go now...

Oh how I lurve Firstbus!

I got on a bendy bus in Leeds recently. Someone has decided that since we can’t have trams they can sell us buses that ‘look a bit like trams’ and we’ll all be happy. However, I got on just as the doors were closing and was told off by the conductor (conductress? – can you say that these days?) for getting on the ‘wrong door’.

It has ‘exit only’ printed on it in small letters apparently. For some reason I’d neglected to search for door signage when getting on the bus. She said that some drivers make you get off again and get on at the other door. She may have been joking but since I’d spoiled the Firstbus drivers’ favourite game of shutting the door in passengers faces and driving off perhaps they do get cross enough to do this. Oddly, when the bus stopped it was OK to get off at the entrance door. I did explain that I thought it worked like a tram and I nearly asked her for an explanation of what anyone gained by only allowing you to get on at one set of doors. I didn’t. This is probably best. I decide to murder all those that stopped us getting trams instead. At his rate that film with Micheal Douglas getting more and more wound up and more and more violent due to frustration at idiots and their ways will soon by my favourite thing ('Falling Down' I think its called).

Oh Lordy, its the Council again

I go swimming most Sunday mornings at a Leeds City Council Pool. I naively thought that a) they’d want people to actually use the pool and b) they were providing some kind of service (paid for by my Council Tax and income tax). However, they’ve come up with the perfect wheeze to keep people away, cause them maximum inconvenience, generally annoy them and presumably prepare the case for closing pools down. What they do on a Sunday is this – they open up in the morning for an hour and a half. Then they kick everyone out and close the place for half an hour. Then they open again for an hour and a half and then close again for half an hour kicking everyone out - and so on throughout the day!

So, realistically you can only get in to swim during a small number of periods of about ½ an hour (maybe 45 minutes) during the day. If you get this timing wrong the pool will either be closed or about to close before you’ve had chance to actually swim. Presumably staff are paid when there’s no-one in the pool to pay their wages – and everyone gets to the showers and changing rooms at the same time.

The only hint as to what twisted logic they’ve used to come up with this system was a comment by the receptionist about swimming being made free for children – I think it may be do with ‘managing demand’ (of which in real life there is precious little) by making sure people don’t turn up and swim for hours (like they do, obviously).

Basically the only people who can go are the organized compliant types who don’t mind being pushed around by Leeds City Council for its own convenience and who can get themselves and the kids up and out on a Sunday morning without any time slipping by in any nonsense ‘let’s try and relax its Sunday morning’ kind of way. The toilets still stink by the way.

Can you imagine Tescos pulling this sort of stunt? Presumably they could do with some catch-up time and shelf stocking time if they got busy, but would they just close the shop for random half hours during the day? Actually no, I guess not. Mind you they probably don’t close their cafes at 3.30 on a Sunday afternoon when everyone wants a cup of tea either – that’s the Council again. To be fair, it’s a bit later in the summer – ‘bout 9 o’clock any good for you? Nah, 4 I think. Everyone’s back home 7 hours before it gets dark in June obviously.

It has occurred to me that I could and should write letters and phone councilors and whatnot. Unfortunately I have stuff to do so won’t get round to it. I shall just continue to harbour hate and contempt for the Council and Firstbus and the rest of them.


I ordered something off ebay recently and its delivery was delayed. I got a note of apology from the seller. It said:

"Hi, I went to the post office today to post the cd and unfortunately they had a power cut and were unable to accept any parcels. Please accept my apologies for this..."

Now in what kind of a world can a post office not accept a CD in an envelope because of a power cut? Do they only have android counter staff who all shut off when there's no power? Do they not have a 'non electric space' where they can put stuff down? Do they not have stamps and weighing scales? What would they do in a real emergency? Actually because they're all so swish and modern these days they don't have stamps (they print out labels) and the scales are all digital - presumably because the old ones could be used and understood by customers. So when the power goes off the whole thing stops - not exactly the spirit of the blitz.

Mind you there's virtually nothing these days that doesn't need a computer and electricity to work (except it doesn't actually work very well of course). I say bring back hand cranking and scales with weights and clockwork, erm, clocks and cars that will start with a handle and all the rest of it. We could even have back up card index systems. One big bang or disease or weird computer bug and everone will starve to death for no good reason because nothing works. Doors won't open and cars won't move and all the rest. We are so totally dependent on this stuff that we would have no idea what to do if anything big went wrong. Everyone would be bleating for the 'emergency services' or 'the government' to come and sort everything out for them and we'd all starve for want of a battery for our digital tin openers.

Bus stop paranoia

There used to be a bus shelter in the middle of the Headrow in Leeds where you can get the 49 and 50 buses. It disappeared. At about the same time the massive new Argos 'Extra' opened just where the shelter used to be. As a miserable amateur conspiracy buff I started to convince myself that Argos probably had the power to object to bus shelters and get them removed due to them covering up Argos logos and their wonderful shop front. Then I saw a sticker on the bus stop saying that there would soon be a new shelter - what a silly paranoid little man I am eh?

However, this was weeks ago now and still no bus shelter. Maybe I am not mad. If it were Tescos I could be sure...I'll wait and see.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Scritti Politti 'White Bread Black Beer'

When I set this blog up I thought I would do more of this. Anyway, I bought another copy of White Bread Black Beer by Scritti Politti to give away as a present. I wrote this lot out in the time it took to write it (if you see what I mean - i.e. I did it quickly, straight off the top of me head) so the grammar and tenses sway a bit. However, it does convey some enthusiasm I think...

To be honest this album deserves proper research and information and putting into context and all that blather. However, I don’t have time for that. What I would like to tell you is that this is a GREAT, GREAT RECORD. I define that by the number of times I listen to it over time. This is one of those records that you like when you first hear it and have a little niggling urge to play again. Thing is that that urge didn’t start to fade until I got to about 60 complete listens. I put it on my MP3 player (a thing I’m a bit ambivalent about by the way) and just kept playing it – and I still want to keep listening to it! This puts it up there with the GREAT RECORDS that I’ve really loved over the years, Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, various Beatles albums – the really great records of all time. More recently only the Shins Wincing the Night Away has done anything like this for me.

I remember reading years ago that Joni Mitchell album took a year to sink in and another year to appreciate. I think that this album also has some of that quality. Now it doesn’t actually sound like any of the people I’ve listed but it does mean that you don’t have to buy into any historical 1980s or Scritti Politti ‘place in pop history’ stuff to appreciate it - it just means it’s a great, great record.

OK, so after that some hints as to what it’s actually like. Well for a start you get a really gorgeous voice. High, even slightly androgynous, caressing even, smooth and perfect recorded to hear lip sounds (close to mike and compressed fact fans) and just great to listen to. The words are pop in a slightly twisted and fascinating way. You may not know exactly what a song is about but it’ll certainly sound like it’s about something - and its something interesting and pop but slightly dark, perhaps even very dark. Blood features a few times – feeding something or other blood from a spoon, a flag of blood and lipstick – and is that ‘bellywash blood’? – yuk! – But fabulous too. Darkness in pop is a very special thing when it’s done well – I mean what can ‘Touch me again and I’ll tell Mrs Hughes’ possibly be about? This is followed later in the song by ‘Tell me again and I’ll touch Mrs Hughes’. Thing is, I think I know what this might be about but can’t quite put it into words and it’s private so I’m not telling you anyway. If I knew exactly what it was about it might spoil it. The whole album allows you to interpret lyrics for yourself and kind of develop your own relationship with it - you only need the album – no photos of artist or interviews or context to persuade you why you like it, just the record itself in a world of its own and you in a world of your own with the record.

The songs are all great but often a bit fragmented (this is not a bad thing though it normally would be). One will start with some gorgeous Beach Boys like harmony which will stop and reappear later as if its part of the next song - which it actually might be – who cares!? The result is that 13 tracks sounds like around 30 – and for once this is a GOOD THING – there’s always another favourite moment coming up and the bit you’re listening to is likely to be a new favourite bit in another few listens. The music is home recorded. Again, this sounds like it might be a horrible amateur thing, but in fact it just means it’s a single unique vision. A lot of time must’ve been put into this. Like my Grandma’s buns – perfectly risen, perfectly mixed and with icing and a cherry on top. I haven’t really analysed the instrumentation but things occur as you go along – there are certainly acoustic guitars on there and there’s bass and some beat box type drums and probably a lot of the songs have no drums at all but who cares – if you’re eating the perfect bar of bitter sweet chocolate why bother to notice the exact percentage of cocoa butter?

So, this is pop – YEAH YEAH as XTC once said. Do yourself a favour and buy this record and listen to it a 1,000 times before you die. Put it up there with yer Beatles and Dylans and Mitchells if you’re me or alongside your own particular life enhancing / changing records.

I came to this record after hearing Stuart Maconie play a track on Radio 2. It was the single Snow in Sun and it sounded like slightly trippy, slightly fey modern psychedelia on first hearing. I thought I’d be buying something slightly twee but fun. In fact I got one of the best records I’ve hear in years.

This is an achingly good record. I’ve bought 3 copies so far so I can give them to people I know who deserve them and might appreciate them. A strange and beautiful thing!

Friday, April 10, 2009

That last post

That last post reminded me that comedians still do routines about buying Christmas presents at the last minute - I say 'Catch up'! - Christmas Eve is Easter egg time and you're not allowed to buy stuff except when its advertised. Follow the shops' agenda or get the hell out!

I don't understand shopping any more (in so far as I ever did) and I don't know why shops don't like me, my money or my attitude. Probably because I don't thank them for watching me and stuff.

If only people were paranoid snitches willing to shop anyone with a swarthy complexion and do what the government told them a bit more we could all be happy eh?! I love New Labour and all they've done. Sorry, I'm thinking posters again.

Easter Shopping!

It’s Good Friday today. Thought I’d buy an Easter egg, with it being Easter and all. I’d also read there were a lot about due to Woolworth’s going out of business. I was in town so I popped into Boots. No sign. Oh well, never mind, on to Tescos. Nope – no Easter eggs in Tescos either. Ok, Wilkinson’s – now if ever there was a shop (or am I only allowed to say ‘store’ these days) that would sell Easter eggs it would be the big Wilko’s in town. Nope - nothing there but an advert for ‘em in the window. No actual Easter eggs. The penny finally dropped – they’ve been selling them since Christmas and they think to themselves, what kind of idiot would buy an Easter egg only 2 days before Easter? Presumably I should have been looking for Father’s day cards (don’t get me started on that one) – Easter eggs at Easter? – What kind of loser am I?

This is actually good news as it saves money. It’s like the fact that telly is rubbish means there’s loads more time to do ‘other stuff’ – the result is the opposite of what ‘they’ presumably want - but I gain.

Eventually, I actually I found some Easter eggs in Sainsbury’s (the Headrow, Leeds if you were wondering). However this was not a particularly pleasant experience. You get into the shop at the front where the escalators are like gleaming white evangelical teeth. When they’ve got your money they kick you out into the alley at the arse-end of the shop (sorry, store). Not only that, but when you have done your shopping they make you line up to follow a queue to 400 serve-yourself checkouts in rows - looks like the biggest urinal in history. With dozens of attendants to make sure you’re doing their job correctly for them They had a single till where someone took your money and of course this had a massive queue.

I want to know what I get from the supermarkets for doing their job for them. This whole ‘come on, come on, we’ve let you buy stuff so hurry up and fuck off and don’t you dare ask any of our staff to do anything for you’ attitude really sucks, to use the Americanism.

Looking on the bright side though, if all shopping experiences are depressing and rubbish I’ll save a load of money. Still paid £290 for new glasses though – it were free when I were a lad – NHS and all that. It were all free you know. What happened to that?

Meanwhile Argos have staff with badges saying they’re ‘colleagues’. They make sure that you don’t have to talk to them at all though. Where are all the people they used to employ in shops to do stuff?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

CD Reviews! Coming soon - maybe

As you may know I hardly ever go on about music. However, sometimes a CD is just sooo good you have to go on about it. So after a quick mention of the Shins (Wincing the Night Away) which I'm still playing months and months after I got it and a quick nod to Oasis (the latest album is actually 'pretty good') I need to thank Mr Maconie on Wunnerful Radio 2 for directing me in the direction of White Bread Black Beer by Scritti Politti (have I even spelt that right). Came out in 2006 apparently. Thing is it's absolutely fab - I've played it about 50 times now and really don't want to turn it off when I start - it's a giddy delight of pop confection in the slightly off kilter non-rubbish vein of pop. I shall be going on about it again - and I have the chance to review it on ebay!

I don't know if anyone actually does these reviews on ebay and if anyone reads them but I will do one for this one. I bought a copy to give to someone in a kind of 'here's one of the best records you're likely to hear in a very long time' kind of way. The last record felt strong enough about to 'review' on ebay was New Model Army - who were always so much better than most right thinking people thought and I will always defend. So there.

More on this at some point I expect.

An example of my email thang

If you should sign up for the JP 'newsletter / occasional email' this is an example of what you get. I'm not saying its any good it just IS OK? Just send an email and I'll put you on the list. Or take you off if you want.

Hello, and to the show, Well...come!

Welcome to the thankfully rare JP / Wholesky Monitor update.

...And the computer is back at AAZ / FR Records HQ after what might be described as 'quite a long time' being repaired. It stopped working. We took it to a shop and said 'make it work'. They kept it for ages but then they made it work. So now it works. Simple these computers really.

So, the evenings of singing hymns with the family around the pianoforte, playing cribbage with the curate from the village, crocheting harpsichords and generally doing 'other stuff' are gone and we can get back to deleting messages from myspace, Facebook, a million and one bands, suppliers to bands, websites that make you famous, magazines, ebay, gig adverts, record adverts, spam and friends stranded in Nigeria / open mic nights and all the other fab internet nonsense that wastes your life like 'other stuff' used to.

So, instead its time for us to clog up your inbox with stuff about a gig. Here are a list of 'desirables' at a gig:

1. A good day of the week - how about a Friday then? That any good? Yes, Friday is good, no school in the morning, can stay out late etc.
2. Decent time - how about 10pm? You could go on to a club, even a pub or just get a bus, train or pre-midnight taxi home. Or simply have sex in an alley near the venue and sunrise won't expose the depths of your iniquity.
3. Decent venue - how about the Elbow Rooms in Leeds? Call Lane, just down the hill from the Corn Exchange.
4. Not too expensive - how about £2 for 4 bands? That's TWO POUNDS - that is not a lot of money even for you tight wads, come on now.

So...(and congrats to those of you who spotted this one coming...)

Whole Sky Monitor are playing at the Elbow Rooms, Call Lane, Leeds on Friday 27th March. That's a week or so away, plenty of time to not forget. On about 10pm though its OK to turn up earlier and watch the other bands. If its actually Room plural you knew what I meant, I just didn't bother, I thought you'd know OK?

So we're on 4 out of 4 so far. So, yeah, the music might be a bit dodgy but 4 out of 5 isn't bad and you can't have everything eh? Boom Boom! (I'm so glad Basil Brush was re-invented pretty much on the old model by the way - and the latest book I'm reading mentions Kunzel cakes - see the blog via for details...I'll do that at some point soon)

This is the first WSM gig for ages and it'll be the last for a while and we'll be 'previewing' (this is a word that means 'playing') some of the songs that we're recording for the new album which will probably not have the word Fritzl in its title though it could be a close run thing. If you need reminding or would like to see the poster or want something to forward to your nephew in Colchester here's a link: You can get tickets in advance from band members if you like too. You hand over £2 and they give you a ticket - easy!

Right, that's enough of them. Here's some advance notice of a JP gig what I am doing. I'll send more details nearer the time. This one is 'for cheriddy' (I do fuck all for charity and love to talk about it etc...and I own shares in BT - actually I don't, that was Bernard Manning and not me there for a second)

It's Friday 8th May at the West Indian Centre in Chapeltown off Chapeltown Road starting at 7pm (see most of the above re good things to have at a gig). It's for a thing called the 'Whiterose Initiative'. This is a charity dedicated to supporting and promoting out of town shopping centres during the recession and concentrates on the White Rose Centre off Dewsbury Road. Actually, I just checked and it's not. It looks like a bunch of pinko do-gooders who are merely postponing the workers revolution by their naive capitalist liberal do-gooding (see, I told you they were do-gooders - for those who aren't sure, do you really prefer do-badders?) Find out more at The website was last updated in December 2006 so they're my kind of people.

It's getting late so if I have to go, I'd better go now, or else I'll have to stay all night.

Just come to the gigs eh? Then I wouldn't have to write this stuff which wastes the foam of the best blood (if anyone gets this reference you are very clever indeed with a very good memory)

Good night to one and all and see you at the gigzz


Saturday, March 28, 2009

New key sir?

Guess how much a new key is for a Vauxhall Vivaro van. A fiver? Ten? Surely not £20? Nope, its £145. Really!

He was looking at the camera officer

This is all getting too predictable. They spend our taxes on adverts telling poor people that they'd better not work on the side for an extra few quid or the law will be after them. It's the usual thing - steal £20 and they're after you, steal £20 million and you'll be invited to advise the government. But now they're inviting people to inform on people looking at security cameras.

Occasionally I look at security cameras and wonder why they're watching the poor areas. Actually it seems pretty clear, they're there to direct the vans when the plebs start rioting. But now, according to the posters we're all paying for, lives will be saved by people reporting other people for looking at the cameras. The posters have been produced for or by our friends the British Transport Police (why?!) You'd think the cameras would be recordng the people examining them wouldn't you? I wonder how this works? Maybe its that the average nutjob terrorist so desperate for sex with a string of virgins he'll blow himself to pieces doesn't want any pictures afterwards? The same kind of people who make those terrific videos showing off their big holy guns?

Anyway the message is clear - they're telling us not to dare question being watched all the time because its for our own good. Then with find Orwellian irony they'll tell us that our way of life and 'freedoms' must be protected. By watching everyone. And torture. Not that this country has ever had any involvment in any of that. Obviously.

Point proven I think

Well! Within seconds of posting all that stuff about "large introduction and embedding of systematic approaches to commissioning and provision of services to facilitate and enable lifestyle and behaviour change" from the NHS and I get a message from the blog people saying that my blog is probably spam and will be deleted! It would appear they have a detector which recognises spam by its "irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text"! I guess this is all that minced up Dickens and stuff that comes with your penis enlargement opportunities.

I reckon all official 'information' should be scanned for spam. If it comes up as spam (and it surely will) delete the lot, sack 'em all and put the kettle on - job done!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Even more changing room behaviour

Who’d have thought that swimming pool showers and changing rooms would continue to produce new observations. Today’s is the simple statement that watching a small boy wee in the shower is actually not the funniest thing ever in the history of the world as his Dad and the bloke next to him seemed to think. Not that I’m particularly objecting I hasten to add, just not worth the belly laughs that’s all.

Then there's the bloke drying his bald head under the hand dryer in the same way one might if one had hair. Which he didn't. As he was bald.

"Behaviour Change Workforce Competence Framework"!

Via work I receive a booklet (a proper, printed, full colour booklet mind) from ‘Yorkshire and the Humber NHS’ (the Humber being a river containing, so far as I know, no hospitals) about something called ‘Healthy Ambitions’.

A thing called the ‘Yorkshire and the Humber Public Health Workforce Advisory Group’ (i.e. a bunch of people who go to meetings) have analysed this and developed a ‘multi-partner approach with human resources at the core’. All very heartwarming I’m sure though anyone who has ever worked in a large organisation will know the value of HR (i.e. none at all). But anyway, I digress…It says “Language like ‘industrialisation’ has been used to describe this imperative. What this means is a large introduction and embedding of systematic approaches to commissioning and provision of services to facilitate and enable lifestyle and behaviour change”. Even better, ‘a behaviour change workforce competence framework’ has been commissioned from Sheffield Hallam University. Now we all know that nobody speaks like this. We also know that no-one in their right mind can read this stuff. So are the people who produce this sort of language all freaks and weirdos? I suspect not. I suspect that they just learn to pretend that they understand this and that this kind of language is ‘academic’ and using it makes them somehow as clever as all the other people who can’t get an idea across without talking nonsense. We are of course paying for this stuff. I think its about telling people that things like smoking are bad for them. I think the idea is that the people at Sheffield Hallam University (that’s Sheffield Poly to you and me) will think of clever ‘industrialised’ ways of telling people that smoking is bad for them. You could just tell them I suppose but there are no middle class jobs in that.

The thing that makes me mad is that the spongers, timewasters, talkers, meeting junkies and verbal diarrhoea monkeys would all get very cross and defensive if you told them that they were a bunch of sponging layabouts being kept in jobs by the tax paid by the smokers crowding round the hospital gates. Can’t we pay people just to stay at home reading the Guardian? At least that way there’d be no-one who took ‘industrialising behaviour change’ loose on the streets.

At some point in the not too distant I will have to find a new job and the people with the jobs could be these self-same NHS freaks. What am I going to do?


Never have anything to do with 'Mums'. They have Mamma Mia parties and go to see that bloke who used to be in Wet Wet Wet in cabaret in Skegness. This cannot be forgiven. There really is a limit to how Liberal you can be. Lines must be drawn. Get off with an old punk or Goth. Even if they are a Mum...

The last CD I bought

The last CD I bought was (wait for it…) ABBA Gold! I should explain though that this is not one of my guilty pleasures (of which there are a few…) but a present for an 8 year old. Mind you, I did feel like Alan Partridge. But I still know that Mamma Mia is the worst film ever. I know this from the advert on the side of buses. Nothing else needs to be said. I will not be going to see it (actually, it was on a while ago wasn’t it?) and I will treat any man (or any straight man at least) who went to see it with ridicule and distain whatever the excuse.

On a similar subject, that song by the Pussycat Girls or whatever definitely has the words in it that the 8 year olds think it has, namely 'I wanna have boobies'. Search on t'internet and it'll say 'groupies'. Nah.

I do find it reassuring though to find that pop music that I've always thought was written for 8 year olds is actually consumed by 8 year olds.

Comfort Cameras

Wilkinson's (the cheap shop that's just like Woollies used to be but with no pick 'n' mix or music section) have a notice that says customers are being watched by CCTV for their 'comfort and safety'. Could I just ask in what way am I made more comfortable by their CCTV?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

History changes before your eyes

Funny how history changes quickly. Gordon Brown was in Iraq recently congratulating British troops on overthrowing a dictatorship etc. He didn’t bother to add ‘sorry about the weapons of mass destruction we previously said you’d come here for lads’. It’s a rum old world eh?

In another example, when Nelson Mandela visited Leeds a few years back he said that he was very pleased to be 'in Liverpool' and a lot of the rest of what he had to say was lost because the sound system wasn't working. This will not be mentioned in the official records. Not that the mistake was a big deal - 'old bloke says wrong word shock' is not news. Mind you, I'm glad I was there...


This is a bit out of date now but If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his ‘four co-defendents’ 'masterminded the September 11th attacks' then what is it exactly that Osama Bin Laden is wanted for? Just thought I’d ask…

More recently people have been getting very cross on discovering that human rights apply to unpleasant people who support terrorism. No doubt the Nazis got very cross discovering that some people thought human rights should apply to Jews. Presumably we should have human rights for 'nice people' and people you don't like can be banged up without trial before being deported to be tortured by dodgy foreign regimes.

Killing your children

We took a massive bag of popcorn to the cinema – cost £1.18 from the supermarket. Loads between three. Another family at the same cinema bought popcorn at the cinema for their 3 kids. This will have cost them approximately 12 quid – Mind you, each carton of popcorn was the size of the child’s head. I wanted to ask the parents when they last ate a portion of food the size of their head and what they thought the chances were of their children doing so – and next time could I buy them a bag of popcorn enough for three and pocket the £11 change.

It’s also worth mentioning that every item on the menu was an utter shite concoction of fat and sugar and flavourings.

Then it’s over to a restaurant where the adult menu is quite varied and once again the kiddie menu is chips and fried orange things. This is supposedly what kids eat. Ours pinches bits of our food because she gets bored of fried orange stuff with no variety (and she’s not exactly a health nut it has to be said.

So, if anyone whines about being told what to do by ‘health people’ it’s a good idea to bear in mind that the real conspiracy is being perpetrated by the outlets and producers of orange coated fat and sugar balls. Go out to eat and you’re virtually forced to buy this stuff (or starve the kids I suppose). Thing is I don’t want to go to the sushi and muesli bar with the middle class people, I want to go mainstream – I just don’t want mainstream food to be shit.

Note to self – it’s a mistake to try giving money to these idiots. Stay at home.

The limits of helpful advice 2

On the bus there was a conspiracy of silence over a wet seat. A woman got on, sat down and quickly sprang up again saying ‘urrghh, this seat is all wet’. When someone else got on and went to sit in the same seat everyone remained silent. The possible reasons for this (in my head at least) are:

1. We thought the first woman was probably a bit mad and there was nothing wrong with the seat
2. The seat wasn’t really wet but perhaps just felt a bit cold or something, so the woman wasn’t mad but mistaken
3. We all really wanted to see a stranger get a wet bottom
4. We were all too embarrassed to say ‘excuse me, but I wouldn’t sit there if I were you as a women who has just moved from there thought it was wet
5. No-one understood what the woman had said
6. No-one was confident that if they did say anything it would be understood as you never know what languages might be understood on the 49 (there are a lot of ‘em – languages, not number 49s)
7. Everyone was expecting someone else to say something
8. Everyone thought the woman who had moved should take responsibility for telling everyone the seat was wet.

As for myself, I go for 4, 6, 7 and 8. Someone else did sit on the seat and didn’t say or do anything to indicate that the seat was wet. After they got off I gave it a feel – it was really quite wet. I left a Metro on it. Least I could do.

I begin to understand how those stories of people being murdered in public with everyone watching without doing anything work.

More changing room behaviour

One thing I do like to see at the swimming pool is the unselfconsciousness of changing room behaviour on reaching a ‘certain age’. The older man with a 2 foot long scrubbing brush for doing his back for instance, the liberal use of odd smelling talc and the lack of embarrassment about nudity should be encouraged I reckon.

In contrast a younger man stood in the shower with his legs about 4 feet apart (actually his feet I suppose rather than his legs...) and proceeded to wash his private parts by swinging them backwards and forwards. This is not to be encouraged.

The limits of helpful advice 1

Post Christmas and I've been back to the swimming pool. Early morning too - I’ve been swimming with the pensioners. This is considerably cheaper than swimming with dolphins, though unlike dolphins you do have to share a changing room.

First thing is a piece of advice…blokes over 65 please note: Tiny tiny tight trunks seldom look good on anyone… I also note the limits of my cheerful helpfulness (see also the bus seat story).

I was faced with an uncomfortable dilemma. Thing is, what can one say to an older gentleman drying himself in the changing room? How does one broach the subject of the soapy scrotum? The poorly rinsed foamy scrotum isn’t an easy subject to broach. Can you say ‘Excuse me mate, I wouldn’t put your pants on just yet as I’m pretty sure the back of your scrotum could do with a rinse, it’s still really soapy – might get a bit itchy later’? Maybe this man, being an older gentleman, would have seen enough of the world to not worry about this. But which way would he call it? Would he say ‘cheers mate, thanks for telling me, there’s not that many blokes who would be brave enough to mention a soapy scrotum to a stranger, you’ve really saved me a lot of uncomfortableness there’ or perhaps ‘thanks for mentioning it, but the thing is that dried soap suds protect it from drying out’. He might even have a young friend with a big cane inspecting his private parts post-swim as part of a kinky sex game. He may be embarrassed and give it a rinse and thereby lose his kinky punishment.

Of course I shall never know as I didn’t have the balls (or scrotum?) to say anything. What a wimp.

Please do not add a W

The following arrived through work. I offer it up without further comment. Certainly no thought of adding a ‘W’ anywhere at all.

This is publicity for a ‘Self-assessment workshop’ on ‘Community Builders and Community Anchors’. For those of you playing 'bullshit bingo' I have put some words in italics. There are a few!

I quote:

Community anchors are independent community led organisations. They are multi purpose and provide holistic solutions to local problems and challenges, bringing out the best in people and agencies. They are there for the long term and are often the driving force in community renewal.

A series of workshops is being delivered throughout Yorkshire & the Humber in the months up to March. They are funded by the Regional Empowerment Partnership and delivered by members of the regional Community Alliance team to enable organisations to identify for themselves whether or not they are community anchors”.

So there you go kids. If you hear a gaggle of people whooping and hollering in the street they may have been given the thumbs up by the Community Alliance Team and be out on the piss celebrating.

I know the situation in Gaza has been bad recently, but can you imagine the grief and pain if the Regional Empowerment Partnership should one day stop empowering us? Doesn’t bear thinking about does it?

Friday, January 23, 2009

More prices

Thought we’d go to the pictures recently but as it was school holidays and coming up to Christmas we thought it’d be a good idea to book in advance. So I go to the ‘myvue’ website and follow the links.

Now at the cinema itself they pay someone to take money, so you might assume that they would pay someone to take a card payment on-line (not even a credit card, just a debit card by the way). Or maybe they’ll give you a discount because they can just let the computer take the payment. Or the fatheads can wind you up by trying to charge extra for saving their time and using up yours instead. £1.80 extra to be precise!

So, having decided that I do not give companies extra money simply to save them time (and money - the tickets are expensive enough) I thought I'd phone instead. Luckily they have a telephone number on the website. I’m a bit suspicious that it might be an expensive phone number but I call anyway. I eventually get through to a real person (result!). They ask me if I’ve thought of booking on-line. I say I have but I was put off by the £1.80 charge. I give them all the details of the film and the time its on etc. and they tell me how much it’s going to cost.

It sounds a lot so I say 'that sounds a lot is that right'? They then have some news for me – it’s going to cost £2.70 extra for them to sell me 3 tickets over the phone. I rapidly end the conversation ('I'm afraid I'm going to have to put the phone down now'). I add myvue and their stupid name to my hate list.

Why is it that any businesses connected with ‘entertainment’ think they can simply add money to the bill just for selling you stuff (yes, I am thinking of the infamous 'booking fee'). You wouldn’t take a Mars bar to a shop counter and expect the shop to charge you 50p for the Mars bar and another 10p for selling it to you, so why do myvue do it? To extort more money from you for the already overpriced tickets of course. However, due to ‘free market economics’ (the system that stifles competition) myvue have a virtual monopoly on cinemas in Leeds so its not easy to just go somewhere else.

Could I also just mention their automated phone system which can’t differentiate between their two cinemas in Leeds. They obviously have some sort of voice recognition software. 'Leeds the Light' and 'Leeds Kirkstall' obviously sound the same to it.

So, I suggest avoiding 'myvue' and their stupid name if at all possible.

Even He's at it!

I watched the Barack Obama inauguration speech (in bits) on youtube. The comments people leave. Oh dear - Illiterate weirdness that you’d scarcely believe. Not particularly racist or whatever, just weird. And badly miss-spelled. Like most liberal pinko nancies I actually feel that the world grew up a bit by electing him. In fact someone called it a ‘man on the moon moment’ – when America did something for itself that was probably at least as significant for the world as a whole. So there. Let’s have a moment of positivity or positiveness or whatever the word would be to us illiterates.

Having said that, I then I had an argument about whether he used an autocue (I’m pretty sure he did) and whether the speech was written by a speechwriter (I think it was). Oddly enough I take this as just reality rather than just a cheat. So there - again. Then he ordered the closure of secret ‘interrogation centres’. They can’t have been that secret I suppose. Governments do get away with a staggering amount of hypocrisy though don't they? - lecturing the Chinese or whoever on 'human rights abuses'. What is this thing that governments do that normal people wouldn't dream of doing? Politicians are disfunctional weirdos I suppose - but so are proper rock stars and they're great!

Rapping Wrapping

There are a couple of birthdays coming up. I went into a card shop. I bought 2 cards (folded pieces of thick paper with some printing on. £2.79 each) and thought I’d buy some wrapping paper. So how much does a piece of coloured silvery paper about 2 feet square cost? £1.25! That’s one pound and 25 pence. What is the maximum I would pay I wonder? I reckon 20p would be OK though 30-35p might do. If pushed and it was really important and I’d run out of time then I might pay 60-70p. This would really piss me off though. However, I’ll rather see Clinton Cards and their unfriendly staff burn in rip-off Hell before I’ll give them £1.25 for a small piece of pink shiny paper.

So if you get a package from me covered with Izal medicated you'll know why. Or I might go down the market.

There's a chocolate shop in town 'the Chocolate Dog Hotel' or something - could be 'otel de Chien chocolate' or something. I think they're in league with 'Lush' across the road. Both cater for the same sort of customers I suspect. The sort of people who can be conned into thinking that packaging and / or an 'original name' makes it worth spending a benefit claimant's weekly subsistence money on a few choccies - or more bizarrely some bits of soap made to smell and look like choccies. In fact everything in lush is designed to look like you can eat it - but it's actually for washing the sweat out of your pubes. Or perhaps my use of soap for kind of like, 'keeping clean' is dreadfully old fashioned. Roll on a big recession eh?! Toodle pip...

Note to drivers of the number 88 bus

Dear number 88 bus drivers in Leeds, please note the following:

Those little red window-ey house things at the side of the road with a little pole next to them are bus shelters. This is where buses stop to pick up passengers. The bus is the thing you're paid to drive. If you see a person holding their arm out into the road as you drive past, this is likely to be someone who wants to 'catch' the bus. That means that that person or 'passenger' wants to get on the bus. They are also known as 'the poor sod who pays your fucking wages'.

Please also note that different buses have different 'routes'. That means they drive along different roads in a different order. This in turn means that even if there's a bus already at the stop you're passing, not everyone standing there waving their arms at you will want to get on the bus that's at the stop already. They may wish to get on the bus you're driving. If it looks like they're waving at you they may really be waving at you - yes you! Driving the bus. They may want you to stop the bus you're driving so they can get on it or 'catch' your bus. It may even be that your bus only runs once every half an hour. This means that if you ignore the people at the stop and carry on driving past the stop quite fast they'll think you're a FUCKING MORON BUS DRIVER WHO'S TOO STUPID OR JUST TOO MUCH OF A BASTARD TO STOP AND PICK PEOPLE UP!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I love you, you love me

I saw Barney the big purple gay dinosaur! At Butlins! In a show! For free! (apart from the £400 for the weekend) OK, now you may think it was just some poor sap in a suit dancing around to some horrible corporate trademarked to death tape, but I still say I SAW BARNEY THE DINOSAUR! And he's as shit in real life as he is on the telly. So there.

Mind you, Chico from X Factor was on too. No idea who he is but he said that he's played Wembley and all kinds of places but Bognor was his favourite. Course it is. Panto in Skeggie next year then £200 from Chat magazine in a couple of years for a confessional piece about his boob job and alcoholism. Then back to the panel beating or whatever. Makes me feel quite famous.

And there was a panto too. Oh no there wasn't. No, really there was.

There were also shows involving redcoats. You could catch one while walking past in the morning at 10am and find the same people still on stage at 8pm when you walked past again. I wonder whether being a redcoat helps your CV for your big career as a kids TV presenter on cable having photos taken in your pants for lads mags?

A money making machine

Butlins (in Bognor, though I guess its the same everywhere) has a big top like tent affair that you can see for miles around. In this is a massive money making machine. Every ten paces is an opportunity to spend. So, buy a hot chocolate and marshmallows before paying £4 to have your face painted, another three to have your photo taken in a booth before going on the bandits on the way to the bowling just past Burger King (I fondly hope there's a Muslim dress shop for women called Burkha King but I suspect that's wishful thinking). There's the sweetshop (and 100% of the items on sale are 100% sugar apart from the colouring) and the pool tables and the bar and Costa Coffee (the only one I've been to where they give you milk in those little containers which I found out relatively recently are called 'jiggers's, a piece of information I'm still not sure whether to quite believe). They have a toy shop a 'designer outlet' (another modern euphamism for shop, 'store' being the one I hate most for being the most often used) and even a recording studio - record your own Karaoke nightmare from £35.

Oh, and you can pay £8 to have your photo taken with an animatronic polar bear. But you'd guessed that too I guess.

Velcome to Butlitz

I was upset by several things at Butlins in Bognor as those of you who know me may have guessed. First up was the security tag. Yup, that's right, when you check in you are issued with a wrist band which you are expected to put on and not take off for the duration of your stay. When you do take it off it has to be cut off with scissors. This is, of course, for 'security reasons'. What they actually mean is that they want to spot people sneaking in for free gos on the merry go round that comes with the ironically titled £70 'freedom pass'. Shades of the ID card of course. There is a difference in that no-one is forced to stay at Butlins (except the spineless types like me) and the tag doesn't seem to have any electronics in it. Still a bit weird though, tagging your customers.

I also noticed that they say that Redcoats are specifically chosen for their 'sunny personalities' (or, as I interpret it, 'we only employ halfwits'). Slightly annoyingly by the end of a few days I felt I'd mellowed. The staff actually seemed keen to help and friendly, loathe as I am to admit it. There were also enought staff about and they seemed to have procedures to deal with things. And the hotel was good in lots of ways too. Expensive though - and you wouldn't believe how full the place was.

Bloody Bognor

I'd never been to Bognor Regis before. Turns out it has a shopping street almost identical to Castleford, Scunthorpe and well, you know, almost everywhere else. I thought it might be a bit different. Disappointed. Top model shop though. My growing urge for a train set was done no good at all.

Ghost of Christmas Presents?

Not that I want to be ungrateful or anything but do charity shops take unwanted presents with the wrapping paper still on?

And on the subject of Christmas, if anyone was wondering what international folk acoustic songer - singwriter stars do for Christmas the answer in this case was (you've probably already guessed)...visit to Romford followed by Butlins at Bognor. Always a treat to hear Christmas hits piped through all communal areas (including hotel corridors) at ice cream van fidelity. And great to hear non-original artists too. Much nicer to hear somebody pretending to be Wham than the original obviously...