Friday, June 27, 2014

Motoring for Duffers

Your typical rear view of a Vauxhall Corsa

I drive a disturbing amount every year, and often find myself at the mercy of every slow-moving chicane and motoring halfwit on the road.

I'm not talking Audi and BMW drivers, whose lead-footed half-wittedness is well known, but the kind of person who is now looking to replace their ageing Rover.

You know: Sensible hat, travel blanket on the rear shelf, and the universal symbol of bad driving on the bumper. All at a steady 10-20mph under the speed limit no matter where they are, with random unexplained braking.

The universal symbol of bad driving
I'm possibly ten years away from becoming one of these people, so mark my words – if you know somebody like this, encourage them to take a bus.

But in the mean time, what car they driving? All the Rovers they bought in the fire sale ten years ago are now clapped out and doing laps of Aldershot Banger Racing Stadium, so what's the motor of choice for these non-maniacs?

And after weeks of slow moving observation, I am convinced that they have overlooked Kia cars completely and are now pottering about in Vauxhalls.

I repeat: Vauxhalls.

If you've got a Vauxhall, sell it now. You've got an arsehole car. This coming from a Nissan Micra driver.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A newcomer finds out about Game of Thrones

My interest is piqued:

"What you reading?"

"Game of Thrones"

"Who's winning?"

"Errr... no-one"

"Why don't they just all have a throne each?"

"They have. They just want more thrones."

"Why's that? Did one of them get a nice throne from John Lewis, while the other king got one from Ikea, read the instructions wrong and now he's got a wobbly leg? I'd kill for a decent John Lewis throne if that happened to me."


Two minutes later...

"What you reading?"

"Game of Thrones"

"Who's winning?"

You know - a Kindle up the bum hole REALLY hurts.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Musings from the Hart District Council Household Waste Recycling Centre

You know that you are a forty-something with a beard when you get up especially early on a Sunday morning, pack your car with garden waste and drive it to the local rubbish tip just in time for them to open. There is a certain smug satisfaction as you arrive at the gates with only a few cars in front of you, knowing that you have beaten the Sunday rush of stay-a-beds who will be queuing for hours later in the day.

You also know that you are a forty-something with a beard as you tut to yourself watching the recycling centre workers having to clear the gates of fly-tipped rubbish, left there by the kind of slacker who arrived too late for the previous night's more-than-reasonable 7 o'clock closing time, and damned if they're going to drive all the way home with a car full of rubbish.

Then you remember that some thirty years ago you were one of these people, leaving the gift of an old kitchen worktop outside the gates of the tip in Reading, and statute of limitations or something.

It was as I sat in the short queue to get in, slapping down the insects that invariably come with a car full of tree, that I mused on certain things.

I mused on the fact that I had shouted "Get out of the road, coffin dodger!" at a little old lady who had witlessly stepped out in front of me while driving through Hartley Wintney five minutes previously; and were it not for the fact that I am a forty-something with a beard driving a Nissan Micra at 10mph below the speed limit, I would have been contemplating which bin at the rubbish tip to dump her body.

It's a tough choice. There's no bin for dead bodies (an oversight that Hart District Council really ought to correct for the hard-pushed council tax payer with spare cadavers on their hands) so, it's either household waste or garden waste, neither of which fit the bill.

If there's a dead granny in your car boot, however, your best bet would probably be the metal cycling bin. Odds-on she's probably got a replacement hip or two, and the metal in those don't come cheap and they're crying out for that sort of quality scrap in the People's Republic of China.

Then I drove home feeling smug in the knowledge that the queue for the tip was already halfway back to Fleet, and that I had disposed of an unwanted skull in the garden waste skip.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Crunchy frog

Look into the eyes of a pitiless killer.

Being a dog of the terrier variety, of course Wilson Blue Rabbit was always going to dig up a tiny little frog in the garden and eat it. That’s what terriers do, because their name come from the French “terre”, and they have the most fun digging holes in the ground and eating small defenceless animals TO DEATH.

My only real objections came from the fact that he was drooling like Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons as he carried out his despicable act; not to mention the sickening pop-stroke-crunch as he finished off his slobber-drenched prey.





That sound will go with me to my grave, particularly if my grave is inside a particularly large and hungry dog.

We don’t like Wilson any more. He’s a frog-murdering git.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Product review: Nomad Chargekey / Chargecard

Yes officer, the bottle opener on my car keys IS an ironic statement

Every now and then (OK, quite often these days), people ask me to review their products, and in return I'm given free snizzle.

Declaration of interest: The very nice people at Nomad sent me a Chargekey and Chargecard for my iPhone. In return, I test them and review them. Here endeth the declaration of interest.

So, I was sceptical in the extreme when I was offered USB chargers for my phone that a) go on a key ring and b) fit in the credit card pocket of my wallet. And there's a very good reason for this: Things go into my pockets to die.

Put something in my pockets with two bunches of keys, and it will have fallen to pieces within a week. Similarly, my wallet is strewn with the litter of bank and membership cards which have not survived a reasonable period of 24/7 in the front pocket of a pair of jeans. So, I've not just opened the packet on my freebies and given a positive review. I've tried to kill them. TO DEATH.

Rabbit Labs, working hard on the case as usual
Sad to say, I tried my best. I put them through hell, and they came out the other side still working. OK, they can be a sod to use if your phone is in a case (you have to bend things this way and that in the limited space you have available), but these things appear to be made out of something rubbery yet indestructible, at least to my trousers.

And yes, they are a touch on the expensive side, but your money gets you something that's durable and also make you look aces in front of your colleagues when they says "Anyone happen to have a phone charger on them?" And office popularity, imaginary friends who live inside my laptop, is what it's all about.

Buy or not buy? BUY

Comes with the Scaryduck Seal of Approval

Monday, June 16, 2014

On not having a robot arm

I know that I sometimes weird people out with my sense of humour. It's rare that the boot ends up on the other foot.

It was at the doctor's surgery, where I turned up bright, fresh and starving first thing in the morning for a fasting blood test. Not a thing had touched my lips for 12 hours, and the weird factor was high.

After prodding around at my left arm, the nurse declared that she couldn't find a vein (not for the first time, either), and would move to the right.

"That's because it's my robot arm," I said, apropos of a quick laugh.

"Like Luke Skywalker?" she asked, "Lose it in a light sabre accident? I see that a lot."

I agreed that bizarre light sabre accidents were An Actual Thing in Fleet as I ignored the fact that she was removing a quantity of blood from my body.

"And have you brought a urine sample?"

"Why yes," I replied, "Although I cut out the middle man. That's just lager."

"I'll look forward to drinking it later."

Excuses, fled.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Throwing Snow - The Tempest

This is the most extraordinary video, and I urge you to click through and watch in the highest definition possible.

From Throwing Snow's cracking new album Mosaic, the author also recommends the opening track Avarice.

Friday, June 13, 2014

World Cup FACTS

It's the planet's premier footballing competition presided over money-grabbing lizard people. But did you know...?

In all the excitement at the end of the 1966 World Cup final, the referee forgot to blow for full time meaning that the game is effectively still in progress. This means that all following World Cups are null and void and England will be crowned World Champions the second somebody finds a whistle.

The shortest ever World Cup match is Brazil v Guam, in which the island state surrendered an hour before kick-off.

"Fédération Internationale de Football Association" is anagram of "Soulless money-grabbing lizard men".

Nobody ever checks anagrams

The longest list on Wikipedia is "Pictures of World Cup players' genitals" with over 50,000 entries and its own army of moderators.

Gazza's famous tears during the 1990 semi-final against Germany weren't the result of his yellow card which meant he'd miss the final – he had accidentally nipped his scrotum on a tight gentleman's support.

Football legend Pele puts his prodigious scoring feats down to one simple strategy: "Kick the round white thing really hard in the square netty thing". Sound advice, indeed.

England's 2014 World Cup slogan is "Back soon."

FIFA denies any wrongdoing in the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Also, that money was just resting in their account.

Chris Waddle's infamous 1990 penalty miss is now classed as "orbital debris" by NASA

Due to Sepp Blatter forgetting to set the video, nobody knows who won the last World Cup, or even where it was held

Germany are the only country to have won the World Cup with a team that featured more than 50% mullets.

Antarctica's World Cup bid finished early when their only ball slid off the edge of the pitch and into a ravine. Nobody thought to bring a spare, and penguins-for-goalposts are not in the official FIFA manual.

Let's hear it for the World Cup!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Your Face In Space

Those jolly nice chaps at Emerge energy drinks tell me they haven't got the squillions of pounds to send a mad bloke to parachute from the edge of space like those minted devils at Red Bull, so would they mind me giving their own space project a little boost?

Being the kind of person open to that sort of offer (for eg: free stuff), I answered in the positive, almost ripping their arms off into the bargain. Honestly, I'd sell my dog on these pages given half the chance.

So. Emerge are taking a lo-fi approach to space travel, and the good news is that hardly anybody's going to end up killed or working in a slave mine while watching C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All they want to do is send (painlessly) Your Face In Space. Go to their app, upload a selfie, and your mug could end up voyaging among the stars. Possibly before crashing painfully back to Earth again.

I'm all for maniacs doing maniacal things, so – corporate or otherwise – this is my cup of tea budget energy drink.

Here endeth the promotional post.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Signal research like a boss

Prodded in my direction by one of my learned colleagues comes this video from 1993, showing the old console area at BBC Monitoring where I was once employed in a techie capacity. Now completely digitised, it's nothing like that now. The carpet's a different set of shades altogether, for a start.

Slapping in the tapes is my old supervisor Dave (incidentally one of the finest chaps I have ever known), while my late pal Trevor Davies is in the background.We all look industrious because it was clearly for some sort of promotional film.

And hammering away at the typewriter and doing a bit of the old radio signal research is your author, The Boy Operator, cleanly shaven and sporting an early-90s crime against fashion.

And yes, I do remember this being shot. And yes, I was deliberately trying to look like I knew what I was doing.

And - man - there's nothing like the sound of a typewriter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I could quote The Young Ones at you until the cows come home, but the one I've probably (over)used the most is "Ah-ha! Missed both my legs".

Oh yes: "I don't know, ask Vanessa Redgrave."

Poor, dead Rik.

Monday, June 09, 2014

The 'Oh My God, I've Got A Poster' Post

I've been delivering my lecture on North Korea - unpaid, I might add - for a little over a year now, and this is the first time I've had an actual poster for it.

So, if you're in Sussex in three weeks' time, pop in and see me. There will be Choco Pie.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Delgados - No Danger: Glasgow neds, line-dancing nuns

Back in the days when I was depressed - really, REALLY depressed to a point where I could barely function, I fell into an ablum by Scots band The Delgados called The Great Eastern.

It remains one of my favourite discs of all time, and the song American Trilogy truly called out to me in a way that mirrored the way my depression was heading In the end, and to paraphrase the lyrics, I decided not to give up breathing.

Now that the Black Dog's not so bad these days, I can turn to No Danger from the same album. Still a bit dark, still a bit skewed, but it's uptempo and the video has dancing nuns. What's not to like?

From the video's own blurb: Classic, though rarely seen, video from cult Glasgow band The Delgados featuring Glasgow neds, cameos from the band members and, most notably, a raft of line-dancing nuns. Tremendous.