Saturday, May 26, 2018


howdy pop pickers

well, this is something of a flashback, look you see. several months, or if you like 3 or so. 4, depending on how you count, really.

back then, to be sure, my (considerably) better half and i did something what we had not done since 2012. no, not that, although i suppose it was somewhat quasi Valentine related. what i speak of is going to a concert performance by an artist.

in 2012, it was, famously so, The Stone Roses at Heaton Park. this time around, i will have you know, it was the wonderful Toyah.

on my travels i caught a glimpse of a poster advertising that Toyah would be performing a concert quite near us; at the lovely Princess Alexandra Auditorium in Yarm, an area of the country celebrated for being really rather posh. when i saw the poster i knew two things - that my (considerably) better half really, really likes Toyah, and that by this point i had no idea what romantic gesture of offering i would get her for the previously mentioned Valentine's Day. later on in the week, i put them two things together and all of a sudden had an ideal solution.

my (considerably) better half grew up loving Toyah's music from thousands of miles away from her stomping ground, never once thinking that she would ever get to see her perform. how absolutely splendid, then, that i should be able to make this so.

as for me, well, i was always aware of Toyah, but not so much for her music. the first thing that comes to mind for me when i think of her, perhaps other than the striking artwork on her albums, is her film career. at a far too early age for it i saw Jubilee purely as it had Adam & The Ants in it, and she was of course also in the superb documentary Quadrophenia.

let it be said that Toyah, whether you are familiar with her music or like me not so much, gives a phenomenal, fantastic evening of entertainment. her passion and enthusiasm for performing would be enough, but as it happens she is also one truly fantastic singer.

it turned out, as the night progressed. that i was a lot more familiar with her music than i might have thought. various mists cloud my memories, but maybe the older sibling of a friend quite liked her back between 79 and 82, say, and i have abstract memories of hearing her music coming from their stereos and what have you.

Toyah invited the fans down, during an instrumental break, to come and take "selfies" and that. the above is one my (considerably) better half took. yes, quite. as you can see she is not quite so prolific as i am in terms of taking selfies, hence her neglecting to feature her fine self in the image. but, still, lovely picture.

would i go and see her again? Toyah, that is, not my (considerably) better half. most definitely.

but did my (considerably) better half enjoy it? as ostensibly it was a quasi Valentine's Day treat, as well as a curious self obtained birthday present for moi, going on the date, i would imagine some of that is important. yes, i believe, yes she did.

perhaps i should limit the words here and give way to the pictures, for those interested in them.

where were the boys whilst we engaged in such shenanigans? off having lots of fun, i believe, with the sensational Harlo gang. cheers for the babysitting services!

no, i don't know if it will be another six year gap between concerts. hopefully not, really. but as time goes on and responsibilities mount, one can't always get off to gigs. also, most are frightening costs. Toyah, i am delighted to say, was wonderfully priced. not that i would not have spent more so that my (considerably) better half may have seen one of her childhood heroes.

and that would be that, i guess. in a sense sorry that it took so long to add these pictures here, but what they hey, as of the day today here they are.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

when you don't know your own support

hello there

yes, cricket once again. a rather disturbing development surrounding it in the last week or so, to be sure. maybe it has been resolved by the time this gets published. and, by resolved, look you see, i mean that Colin Graves, with no small amount of disgrace, has done the decent thing and resigned from his position as Chair of the ECB.

for some reason, and no i cannot think how he got to this point, Colin Graves elected to defend the decision to create "100 ball cricket" by saying that "younger people are not attracted to cricket any more". full details can be found here, with the BBC being used for a link as it is about as close to impartial as you can get.

clearly the job is beyond Mr Graves, then. or he simply is no good at it. i would happily invite Mr Graves to our village on cricket practice night to see dozens of kids playing and enjoying this fine game. or, if we are a bit too north for him, i would suggest he goes around the hundreds of villages, towns even, just like ours where the same happens.

yes, that is some footage above, for those of you who can play the video, of James taking a single during a game. nice batting, son.

one of the fondest memories i have of the last cricket season has become one of my fondest ever. we were playing Skelton, in what was i think their first ever competitive game at that age level. in terms of the game, they had some very good players but our team won comfortably. what Skelton won, though, was hearts. it was astonishing - no, beautiful - to see just how happy and enthusiastic they were about taking part, being involved and simply playing.

i would like to think this country is full of stories identical to the one above. should Mr Graves really not understand that there is a whole lot of passion and enthusiasm for cricket at a younger age, he should leave now. his comments made me angry, and felt like a slap in the face to all of those who give up so much time and put in considerable effort to make youth cricket happen.

indeed, another video of James. in the above he is having a bowl, keeping a nice tidy line and making the batsman have to play a shot.

perhaps Graves thinks "the kids" are not attracted to cricket because of the lack of viewing figures on the tele. well, he and the ECB did that, did they not? a decision was taken to sacrifice audience - and exposure - for money. they sold the rights to Sky, meaning cricket was stripped from its natural home of free to air TV. you cannot complain about no one watching if you make it difficult and expensive to watch, chap.

to each and every person that is involved in coaching, playing or encouraging cricket - especially at youth level - a very big thank you. also, a plea to ignore what this patently poor choice for Chair of the ECB had to say. how very sad for someone in such a position not to understand the passion for the game.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

of spennymoor


it is said that the population of the UK is about 63 million. this is quite superficial, look you see. a far better, more informed way of saying this is that there are 62,980,000 people living in the UK who seek a much better life and 20,000 in the UK who already have it, for they live in Spennymoor.

yes, no, yes. yes, this is about Spennymoor, no i am not going to do some sort of "tourist information" thing because yes, i know you already know how awesome it is. when it comes to tourism, Spennymoor outranks virtually all non-Royal related attractions in the UK, and even then beats most of the ones with a Royal link that is tenuous at best, such as anything to do with Prince Edward.

as i had the pleasure of recently being a guest within the grounds of Spennymoor i did, however, think that some of you might like some insights, observations and what have you. pictures, yes, to be sure.

oh, surely, yes, that is decidedly a drain. but not just any drain. no, this is a drain in Spennymoor, and thus it is of a calibre and nature superior to others.

to be honest i don't know all that much about the Spennymoor life, other than people in colloquial terms call the place "the Spenny" or "the S". but that picture does give every suggestion of an exciting life. one cannot but help wonder of the circumstances in which a pair of scuba style swimming goggles and a quaffed, emptied and distressed can of Fosters lager ended up down there.

would it be fair to refer to Spennym...the Spenny as "the inland Hartlepool of the Moors"? i am not sure. my observations suggest that the people of Spenny don't go around hanging people or members of the animal kingdom on the grounds of suspicion of being French. yet what they lack in that regard they would seem to make up for, most agreeably, in not randomly handing out parking tickets to anyone who dares visit their fine corner of the land.

yes, that's a mattress in the middle of a road, discarded by someone who has presumably found something more agreeable to sleep on. no, as point of fact, this was not taken in the Spenny. closeish to the place, i suppose, but not actually. i just really had nowhere else to add this picture.

but, that said, i have every confidence that the people of Spennymoor have mattresses on which to sleep and so forth. whereas i do not have first hand knowledge of this, surely it must be the case. the fact that i saw, so far as i can recall, no discarded mattresses during my time in the Spenny suggests that they have developed a more sophisticated means of disposing of unwanted ones. good for them, i say, good for them.

speaking of mattresses for sleeping and so forth, this.

ah, now then. strictly speaking no, this picture was not taken in the Spenny, and nor was it in the land of the abandoned mattress. somewhere central, or in between, the two, we shall say. if they look like what some might call "cock pills" to you, then that is precisely because they are such. two, so far as i could ascertain, empty packets discarded in a bathroom for the gentry. around midday, no less.

i must confess i am quite fascinated by the detail of the consumer, or consumers, of these. was it, i wonder, one gentleman who took both packets, or two gents who took one each, having met in the bathroom and further electing to form a slightly longer than usual short term yet mutually beneficial friendship.

these tablets, or pills, would appear to be called "ultimg" or "ultim8".  believe they are a variation on them famous viagra pills, the blue ones. someone i know, and please for legal reasons can we all just agree that i did not specify or state that it was Spiros, once took four times the prescribed amount of viagra, decking them with several cans of super strength cider. i know this because Spi...because the anonymous person what did it chose to phone me, declare himself the "w@nk!ng warlock" and claimed that for several days after he had been mistaken for a walking, somewhat horizontal version of Gibraltar by several passers by.

smoking in the Spenny? it is not frowned upon any more or less than it is in the rest of the country. a conspired effort, alas, has managed to distract all and sundry with the real evils of society by convincing the masses that cigarettes are to blame for everything.

yes, i really rather enjoyed smoking in Spennymoor. i mean, let's not get carried away. no, it was not "well, i was going to quit, right, but the pleasant experience of smoking in Spennymoor reaffirmed my love of doing it so now i shall not". cigarettes away from the Spenny have been just as enjoyable, let me assure you. but i shall always fondly remember the one or two, several, that i had whilst there.

that's the machine next to the sink where the empty pill packets were. at £3 a go, blimey. the gentleman who had two or gentlemen who had one each were clearly determined that expense should present nor provide any barrier to pleasure. and why not.

have i ever dabbled with such pills? not really, that i am aware of. although no David Lee Roth, my skills and prowess as a sexualist seem to be all natural. perhaps a time shall come when i feel that i require such to enhance or maintain my proclivities. as and when such a time comes, maybe i will rather consult a suitably trained physician or similar rather than relying on a vending machine located in a bathroom of a well known supermarket.

yes, go on then, a slightly closer look at the discarded mattress, to finish off. since, it seems, i took nowhere near as many pictures that i thought i had in The S. maybe i just had a dream, a juicy and succulent one, of taking lots and lots of pictures in the place.

and, well, there we have it. should you be considering a trip to Spennymoor, The Spenny, The S, and for some reason you are looking here for tips and advice, all i can really say is that there's no barrier that should prevent you from going. enjoy it; i did.

right, let me go and have a think or consideration about other matters to write of here.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

cricket is back

hello there

well, summer's nearly here, if not exactly all here, look you see. as part and parcel of the English way of doing things, it is of course a truth that the moment the weather allows for it to be, so it shall be that cricket is played.

yes. the reward we get, here in England and indeed an increasing number of corners of the wider UK and British Isles, for enduring a long, dark winter is plenty of lovely sunlight. one would really struggle to find a better use for long, sunny days than to spend them playing and watching cricket.

oh, great. i see once again that blogger, or google, or whoever, has elected to "auto rotate" my pictures again, meaning they are all sideways. hey ho. from what i can ascertain from the stats most of you read this on some sort of mobile device, so i guess you are good to go in terms of just tilting or rotating your phone or tablet or whatever to see the image the right way around. or, you know, don't. maybe they work for you sideways.

so, anyway, yes. James is very much part of the whole cricket thing once again. regular readers will recall his utter dislike for all that snow business, so to him summer (or spring, i suppose) is most welcome. it means, to be sure, that he can get out and about without freezing or getting wet or slipping.

above is a scene quite early on from the first practice session of the year. well, that is not true. it is more honest to say first outdoor session of the year. for the first three months of the year some indoor training sessions were held, just to keep all and sundry on top of their game.

should you have a keen eye, or have a thing for games, in the above you can most certainly see my (considerably) better half. also, it might be that James and/or William are there somewhere. i can't really make them out, my eyes are not what they once were. if they ever were all that.

just like the first image the above picture of James is not from training but from the first match of the season. one which our team won, although as i have said before and will always say, it is important that the winner of any match of cricket is the spirit of the game itself. but, at time of writing, we have played two, won two, and we are all delighted with this.

yes, true. after the events of our winter, or if you like the summer of the southern hemisphere, we do indeed live in a time when there is a new dynamic to the game. but no, absolutely not, we have not introduced the whims and wonders of sandpaper to our game. it would be best to leave such nonsense to our friends in Australia, although i believe it would be fair to say that they too have now abandoned the use of rudimentary DIY or joinery applications in cricket.

no, William is not in a team for the cricket this year. he is a bit too young to be playing it competitively. but, as you can see above, he really rather enjoys going to the games so as to explore the different grounds. and, true, he too has enormous fun at the practice sessions.

do i still provide an unofficial worldwide coverage of the matches? yes, kind of. well, i take pictures and videos to send along to Dad, as well as giving him score updates. from what i can ascertain, our team now has a very, very healthy fan base down in New Zealand, thanks to my Dad sharing these updates with his chums.

some of the video i mentioned in that very last paragraph? sure.

that is one of the finer deliveries James bowled in his first competitive over of the season. no wickets, but from what i recall he also gave no runs away. certainly no extras, at the least. a most splendid and steady start. yes, his Grandad did indeed express approval for his performance.

what do i think of this new idea, "Cricket 100"? that thing where each team will face 100 balls, with the number of deliveries counting down? messy. it sounds like someone's clumsy, ill advised attempt to "Americanise" the game, what with American sports traditionally featuring a clock counting down. should the intention of this new format be to "sell" the game to our friends in America, then i am unsure how altering the game beyond all recognition would achieve that. should it be that our friends over the pond would wish to embrace cricket, then i would have thought that 20Twenty or T20 or whatever you call it would appeal.

unless i am very much mistaken, yes, that is the first selfie of my (considerably) better half and i this spring, moving into summer. quite difficult to get, too. she was quite busy helping and being involved with the practice and training, whereas i had some quite urgent business with the bar, and indeed a packet of Marlboro cigarettes.

would i have liked to play cricket myself? well, i kind of did in my younger days. some of my most important formulate years were spent in a pre-sandpaper Australia. there, if it was daylight and you had time, you played cricket. when i returned to England from there, it was a truth that they played football instead. honestly, i suspect i would have lacked the dedication and commitment to make it as a decent cricket player. did have fun playing rugger, though.

yes, an "in match" picture above. one that i used the "zoom" feature on the camera what i have, welded as it is to a phone for some reason.

for how long does the cricket season go on? my understanding is that it commences at the end of April and goes through to the early stages of August. so, then, for much of the time when England is open to the idea of having a spring and a summer, but of course the weather does not always agree.

and on that note, the above is why i qualified we are spring, not summer as such. by the last few overs of the first game the light, as you can observe, became a slight issue. that was some time after 8pm, so splendid that we had some sun. roll on, however, the days or rather nights when the sun is in the sky until well after 10pm.

well, that would be that for this for now. undoubtedly, dear reader, further cricket updates shall come here for those interested in a hopefully supportive way. but, for now, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 18, 2018

bowen tapes

now then

it would, look you see, seem that i am, perhaps more by default than design or if you will ipso facto, doing what i suspected might happen earlier this year. this would be at least one post per calendar month pertaining to Bullseye broadly and the greatly missed Jim Bowen specifically.

the latter is of relevance here. yes, i know it is hard to imagine Jim away from Bullseye, his chosen forum via which he did his thing. every now and then, though, he was persuaded to step away from the studio so as to perform his art by other means. undoubtedly the most famous of these instances was when he stepped in for "the italian job", so to speak, when the German incumbent could not handle the job, but we have covered that ground before here.

yes, quite. not one, not three, but indeed two recordings of Jim Bowen in action. two similar, but ultimately different ones, as we shall see if you stick this out and read on.

did i go and seek these items (remember, not one and not three but two, which you get nothing for if they were in a bed according to his holiness the most righteous Jim Bowen may he rest in eternal peace) as a tribute to the great one after his recent passing? no. well, partially. we will get to the specifics of provenance as we go on with this. assuming, of course, that you read on.

what i would say now, however, is that i got all of these items for bargain prices. less than £5 in total for the pair, i think. the final figure may well even be south of £4, i am having a look. going on market price indicators, one of them was then quite the bargain.

to start with the first purchase, then, although i believe this was the most recent or should you prefer last or indeed youngest of releases; the DVD Jim Bowen You Can't Tell These Anymore!

provenance of my copy? alas, one of my favourite shops, That's Entertainment, was closing down and had a sale. they are, i believe, moving all operations online, via the splendid Music Magpie website.

so, this disc was sat there as part of a deal, where you could have it for £1.99 or one of three for £5. as the closing down sale mean 75% off all stock, i got this for whatever 25% of £1.99 is. i suspect it is somewhere just slightly north or south of 49p.

having not heard of this DVD before, for if i had then i would have surely already owned it, i did some research. from what i can gather it seems a rare, scarce thing. the best price i saw it for online was, in a used condition (like my copy, for full disclosure), listed as north of £20 but just slightly south of £25. quite steep and exploitative,  really, unless the money from the sale goes to one of the many charities which the honourable Jim Bowen was a patron of. anyway, anyone not prepared to stump up that sort of money is clearly not a proper, committed, dedicated fan of Jim Bowen, or has otherwise discovered that the whole thing is online, for free, on that "you tube" thing.

oh yeah, the disc. this was filmed at a venue in Blackburn, and i am quietly confident that it was made post-Bullseye, pre-Vatican era. ostensibly, it is one of them "live stand up comedy" shows, but let me not accidentally cheapen it. because it is Jim Bowen doing it, this is the best thing ever.

as the title suggests, this is Jim Bowen lamenting the way the world has gone. everything in society went south precisely when ITV took Bullseye off of the tele. we lost our moral compass, with no guidance given to how we should live via his sermon on a Sunday tea time. to this end, Jim shares with us, his devout audience, jokes which are not offensive at all, for they laugh with people and not at their expense, and explores his sadness at how he is not supposed to tell them any more. also, he tells an absolutely brilliant story about an episode of Bullseye what ended up not being screened, due to the out of character drunken activities of two Irish contestants on the show.

much of the same is on offer in an audio form with the tape Jim Bowen Live! Super! Smashin! Great!. this i did quite deliberately purchase without actively looking for it. i was just searching the internet for things pertaining to Jim Bowen, and this cropped up for sale.

should the provenance be the internet, the cost? approx £2.50, as it happens. so both together did, assuming my skills with % are correct, cost me just south of £3.

in showing the dedication Jim had to cities and towns what start or should you prefer commence with the very same letter what his most excellent surname does or sadly rather did, this one was recorded in Blackpool, not Blackburn. or Bolton. or Basildon. also, not Basingstoke. i could go on with the list of places where this was not recorded. for the sake of less typing, i would ask you to just accept that i could do that, whilst we carry on with the actual point of this, if indeed there is much of any point.

mostly this is the same material on the DVD. there are, however, a few extras. highlights of the extras include referencing some contestants if Bullseye with casual obscenities vented in favour of their guilt of the sin of greed and the subsequent loss of prizes.

yes, by the way, one does hear Jim Bowen use what society deems to be offensive language in both recordings. in his defence - not that he needs me to defend him - this was all before he accepted the job of being Pope Francis, so as far as i am concerned he was not breaking any terms and conditions of employment. besides, if he was, well, look at the terms and conditions the pope before him broke.

the tape, alas, was not perfect. despite being brand new and factory sealed (it looked to be and the fella what sold it to me assured me that it was) there was some damage. the tape had one or two "folds" in it. whereas some fast forwarding and rewinding, or "fast backwarding", straightened it out (plus a bit of pencil magic), the sound was distorted as a consequence.

distracting, disappointing but not a failure. that's what i say of this. whereas it is not perfect, i all the same used my deft skills to convert this tape to that "mp3" format, so as i may be able to load or otherwise add it to that one decent device Apple made, the iPod. now i may listen to the voice of Jim Bowen on a night as i lay down to rest.

alas, no, the great Tony Green does not make a guest appearance on either of these recordings. he does get mentioned in the most respectful terms, though. someone called Hughie Green gets mentioned, mind, and not in particularly complimentary terms.

right, that's about that. yes, indeed i am happy with these purchases. surely, if i can, i will find something else to say of Jim Bowen and/or Bullseye next month, just to keep this regular thing going.

be super smashin great to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

hobbies my father taught me

hello there

for some time i have, look you see, thought that i should really do a follow up piece to this one, in which i explored a popular card game what i learned off my Mum, to be sure. to give some sort of fairness or balance, it strikes me as being so that i should have a gander here at something what i learned off of my Dad.

events have conspired, as in retrospect they always seem to do, to make today the day that is as good as any to do exactly or entirely that.

yes. with another edition of the FIFA World Cup looming, it is time for a sticker book album and countless stickers to go in it. although, in the latter respect, maybe not so much.

where this is a hobby my Dad taught me is relatively straightforward. he is, or maybe was for i am unsure if he remains so, quite fanatical about getting these albums and completing them. always was, apparently. Gran kindly gave me this album, as it came free with a newspaper and she had no use for it. when she handed it over to me, she recalled with some fondness my Dad's habit of collecting stickers, cigarette cards and so forth throughout his youth. and into adulthood.

i had done sticker books before my Dad introduced the path of doing football ones. from my own youth i can recall, with some fondness, doing ones for both ET and Return Of The Jedi; two films ostensibly aimed at the whole family from the early 80s. perhaps you have heard of them in passing, or maybe not. to various degrees, and as an aside, both have merit and are worth watching.

that there above is/are some initial stickers what came free with the album. alas, no, no Panama team stickers, and no sign of Messi or anyone like that. still, quite a nice gesture, made all the nicer as you will find when we get to the part where i moan about the cost of stickers for this album.

anyway, around the time of them sticker books what i spoke, i think my Dad clocked that he could rejuvenate his own interest in such and have a hobby with me by introducing me to the joys of the English & Scottish football sticker album collection thing. i am not sure when, but this will have been either the 83/84 season or maybe the 84/85 one.

as far as i can tell they don't do that "mega" album any more. but once, they did. you got, i think, all four top divisions in England (back then it was Division One down to Division Four; far easier than the current names) and then i think the three main divisions in Scotland. football divisions; obviously "Scottish divisions" as a general thing has a good deal more than three. but, anyway.

indeed, that is the England page or pages for Russia 2018. whereas i have two stickers in it now, don't recall who, this is blank. England were of course widely expected to host the 2018 edition of the World Cup, but [text removed due to FIFA having a love of lawyers], so Russia it is. and why not.

this would be the best England team to feature in a sticker book for many years - perhaps 18, as point of fact. why? well, no Wayne Rooney. although i am not sure why they call him that, going on what the fans and all those who are aware of things like [text removed due to legal advice] shout at him, you would be forgiven for thinking his name is actually Wayne Carr or Wayne Kerr, depending on your provincial accent. anyway, i do not have to see him, and that is a good thing.

no, i am not sure why they don't do the football stickers every season for the divisions in England and Scotland any more. should i be called on to guess, i would say in these hedonistic "Premier League" days, royalties and "image rights" payments to some players would make it too expensive. also, with the kids having so much to spend their money on these days, maybe there is just no demand.

speaking of demand and cost, i was horrified when i went off to purchase some stickers for this album. i had, reasonably, expected a price of 50p per packet. no, it turned out to be 80p a packet. and for that you only got 5 (five) stickers in the packet, making a cost of 16p per sticker. interestingly if you write off to Panini and purchase any numbers you are missing, they charge you 22p per sticker.

whereas i thought i might buy 5 packets for 30 stickers for £2.50, i instead ended up spending £3.20 for 4 packets and got 20 stickers out of the deal. and none of them were, quite frankly, all that interesting. well, maybe one.

is my Dad having a similar torment with all of this? not sure. the last time i was with him and World Cup stickers were on the go it was the 2010 edition, the one celebrated with the vuvuzelas. he and Richard lost the plot somewhat with the stickers for that, buying many hundreds of packets and ending up with thousands of duplicates. this i know, as for some reason i ended up with all the duplicates. i think i still have them here somewhere, in a box.

that's five stickers for 80p on display, then. no, i am not all that sure who all of them players are, or indeed if any of them have any chance of glory.

one thing perhaps lost with no mega massive sticker book each season is an unsolicited knowledge of teams from far away. mindful of the fact, of course, that there was no internet thing back then. to this day i still have a thing for one Scottish team, Morton. i attribute this purely to the fact that, whenever that album came out was that me and Dad done, i did seem to get a disproportionately high number of stickers for Morton, be it the team or individual players.

as for the actual World Cup, will i be shouting on England? well, yes, no, maybe, perhaps, kind of. it would be nice if we could give a decent account of ourselves in the tournament and not leave it in disgrace, really, and that's all. i don't have any expectations or hopes of us winning; i suspect few do. we have some decent players and that, as well as a respected gentleman for a manager, but there's a hefty list of national teams which easily outclass us out there on the pitch.

Panama would be my team of choice, really. it's their first World Cup, i think, so i hope they enjoy. and yes, my enthusiasm for them is purely down to the song Panama off of Van Halen, or at least Van Halen when they were decent due to David Lee Roth being in the band.

what i particularly like about the above page for Panama in the World Cup 2018 sticker album is that it lists the spelling of Panama in various different languages. nearly all of them spell it, oddly, "Panama". which means the above looks like it is just the lyrics for the song Panama.

indeed, yes, it would be awesome if Panama won the World Cup, and to celebrate David Lee Roth was respectfully invited to come along and sing Panama to a worldwide, if not global, audience. one really suspects that Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, etc might get in the way of this dream. but man, what a beautiful dream.

above is the one and only "shiny" i got, the emblem or logo for the Costa Rica team on a partially silver background. the player stickers are dull and bland, and the shiny stickers just are not as shiny as they once were. perhaps they now use eco friendly materials to print them on, or cheaper ones. what they charge more for to sell.

the astronomical costs involved in attempting to complete a 2018 World Cup sticker album have been covered on other corners of the internet. whilst i don't remember exactly, i think someone calculated that you would have to spend somewhere north of £500 or £700 on stickers to do it. that is, if you did it the fair and square way, which would of course be curious, since [text removed on legal advice] awarded to Russia.

i am sure, however, that if you and your mates did "swapsies" with doubles then you could get it done cheaper. perhaps you would only need to spend just north of £375 to fill the album.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2018

promise not to stare too long


and so yet another "throwback" thing, look you see, even though this is not being written on a Thursday as such. no, in this instance it is not yet another look at "the beast from the east" or "storm emma", as that would be boring. instead, then, it is a look at the brief, maybe all too, return of the "beast from the east" what happened a week or so after we thought all the snow had gone.

the stability and strength of the Welsh is, i think you will find, illustrated by them plucky daffodils in the image above. for them it was spring, or if you will Spring, and so they were going to bloom no matter what the weather. indeed, quite, they are still going strong now that the snow has gone again.

exactly when did all this happen? it is easy to forget March, here in May, but still. i think, or as i recall, it was about a week after the first wave of snow and that. but, for precision, i am sure if you do one of them google things you will find more information.

why did it happen? according to them soothsayers, charlatans, warlocks and wizards who claim to be able to foresee the future down at the "met" weather office, it came off of Russia. this, of course, let to many columnists, humorists and other such socially inept types creating hysterical jokes along the lines of "well, at least it makes a change from Russia sending deadly poisons to kill traitors!!!". such jokes were met, in relatively equal measure, with contempt, slight chortle sounds, manic laughter from the deranged and a trifle of bemusement.

oh, indeed, William was thrilled with the return of the lovely, thick, fluffy, crisp (hello, Faye) snow. his new found passion and enthusiasm for sledging was kindled like a phoenix. unfortunately, indeed regrettably, he had not quite put the sledge away as we had instructed him to, hence the picture above being possible. so, then, no sledge action this time.

the biggest problem, or if you like gauntlet, thrown down by this if not unexpected then not particularly welcome, return of "the beast from the east" was what to call it. many elected for "the sequel". so, to this extent, this second wave of quasi spring or if you insist Spring snow got called things like.....

The Beast From The East 2 : Electric Boogaloo
Beast From The East II : Attack Of The Clones
Beast From The East 2 : Their First Assignment
The Dark Knight
The Beast From The East 2 : The Sequel
The Return Of The Beast From The East
Beast From The East II : The Wrath Of Khan
The Beast From The East : Age Of Ultron
Beast From The East 2 : Judgement Day

and other such nonsense. me, personally, i think, just called it "oh bother", or "oh dear me", or words to that effect. probably with a few vulgarities involved, to be honest.

yes, of course i sent Richard some images of the return of the snow. his response to that was, well, i think that you would be able to work that out in the above image. he was of course in another land; one which did not have any snow as such. quite pleasant weather, by the looks of it, and i am absolutely sure he was only having the one beer as it was the only thing to cool down with.

most of you will be here partially for a Richard picture, true, but also for some video. let me not disappoint, then, and give you some video of this second wave of snow.

how was driving in this seminal return of the snow? not so bad. we had some decent street clearances off of councils, which i am sure is not related to the fact that local elections are on the horizon and all down to them wanting to do the public service they are paid at a premium for. also, the snow seemed keenest to settle just on lands and grass rather than tarmac based roads.

for those wanting an illustration of this, well then, here you go, one image at random what i took on my travels.

does this post represent the last "throwback" to the snow of March? i would certainly hope so. if fortune smiles upon us all, then perhaps we can get on with some quality spring and summer, cheers. it would be most splendid not to see the snow for quite a while again, at least several months.

well, then, that's that. until the next post, i suppose.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

a new calendar for the newish month


this, i know, look you see, is probably a little too late into the month to be of any considered, practical use. but, we are here now, it is done now, to be sure. yes, for those who for some reason use my blog for their calendar consultation requirements, here it is. at least, here it is for the month of May. in 2018.

indeed yes, for those following this story so far this year, i have elected to switch over to the Minecraft one, which i paid a quite reasonable 12p for. the "Babes" one off of Poundland was pleasant, like, but the corners kept curling in. cheap paper, cheap tat, perhaps.

am i a big fan of Minecraft? not especially. the boys seem to like it; from what i can gather it's sort of a quasi Lego computer game. please note, though, that i have no quarrel or issue with the game despite not being a fan; rather i just don't know all that much of it. except one can obtain cheap, branded calendars featuring it.

elsewhere in the house we have this magnificent Stonehenge calendar on display, what William made at school. i thought i would add this too, since the date information may not be all that clear for some of you on the Minecraft one.

certainly i was excited when William came home and informed us that he had a school project to do on Stonehenge. and yes, this excitement turned into disappointment when it turned out to be the other Stonehenge, which is to say the rocks and that rather than the classic song by Spinal Tap. nonetheless, i took this as an opportunity to show William a video recording of Spinal Tap performing Stonehenge, and he liked what he saw for he saw that it was good.

right, i will try and remember to a calendar update for you in June, too.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 11, 2018

lynx gold something something under review


an apparent mid-life crisis would appear to continue, look you see. despite me being 3 times the median age for the proposed, assumed or intended users, i do indeed use that there Lynx (or Axe, depending where you are in the world) deodorant. also, nay further, i do like to dabble and experiment as and when they launch or otherwise unleash a new, for want of a better term, fragrance.

which brings us to here. the here and now. and what is the here and now is an exciting new tin (two, then) labelled or branded "gold oud wood and dark vanilla". no, i have no idea what "oud" wood is, and to me dark vanilla is not vanilla - should it not be pale, white or opaque, then surely it is not?

yes, of course i purchased some of this new stuff. my deep rooted, passionate commitment to buying Lynx deodorant as and when it is on special really came to the fore. i think i got this one off of Tesco for about £2.33 a tin, which is a peculiar price but anyway. everywhere else had it for a price north of this; i think the next best i saw was £3.50 at Morrisons (no relation to Jim).

no, i don't really shop all that often at Morrisons any more, i suppose. much of the glitz and glamour of doing so went when they removed a large selection of books from nearby the cigarette counter. it made purchasing cigarettes boring, if not rather mundane. but essential. also, by the by, i have found some places what sell the fags for 2p a packet cheaper than what Morrisons does. trust me, in volume that adds up.

but we are here for Lynx Gold Something Something, not the fags. so to speak. and on that note, let us celebrate the balls out move to call it "gold". whereas in these more enlightened terms we understand gold to be not the rarest, most desirable or most expensive thing, but it is shiny and so we associate anything being called "gold" as meaning "the best" or similar.

i can tell you now, for those eager to get to the business end, that this one falls into the formidable, overbearing harsh musky / chloroform scent of the Lynx spectrum. the fragrance, the aroma and the ambience generated is quite what one would expect to get a sense of if they were ever in a proper, real or if you like hardcore Turkish Bath, in Istanbul, in the presence of some rather friendly Turkish gentlemen. yes, with big bushy moustaches and classical proclivities in terms of male bonding.

strangely, despite the somewhat scary scenario evoked by the scent, this is not half bad. which, i hasten to draw your attention to, means it is also not half good. in its favour, sure, is the fact that the "all day" claim on the tin would appear quite correct. a very brief insight into my personal hygiene habits would be that i'd normally spray some deodorant on north of 7:15am but south of 7:20am; or if you will when Nick Ferrari is just about ready to do his first bit of shouting at someone for being absurd over on LBC. by 4 in the afternoon or so i still smell - not unpleasantly - like i've been hanging around with Mehmet, Deniz Arsla, Haluk and several other big butch Turkish men with lovely bushy moustaches down at Ağa hamamı.

what i perhaps don't quite get is why exactly the makers - Lynx, or Axe, or whatever - believe that this is suitable or otherwise ideal for their target market. as per previous "under review" editions, the demographics of Lynx / Axe users is 98% feral, uneducated teenagers, with the spray being used as some sort of territorial thing, so as the female may be attracted to the male wearer for what i suppose you could call or consider breeding properties; normally in or around bush shelters or in the vicinity of seldom used alleys down the back of shops. oh, make no mistake, i am firmly in the 2% demographic which has no wish to be involved in any such shenanigans, thank you very much.

just why, then, do they feel that the average female variant of the feral teenager would be attracted to the purely masculine preserve of the Turkish Bath scent? i mean, sure, i could understand why a young lad in this day and age would crave such a scent. my heterosexual, married life has taught me many things, and one of those was indeed that perhaps i was a little hasty in ruling out a more homosexual approach to it all early doors. but why would the feral teenage girls of today find this scent so alluring?

it's possible, i suppose, that Lynx / Axe are jumping on the "gender identity" bandwagon. maybe, to them, the idea that getting men to find other men attractive is the long term money maker. should this be the case, and if it catches on, then we may have problems meeting our requisite quota of single teenage mothers populating council estates across the land.

no. as part of the 2% of demographics, neither scenario has happened. i have not had oddball feral teenage girls flock to me, and so far as i am aware i have not garnered the attraction or attention of any gentlemen, with big bushy moustaches or not, further than would be normal for me. sadly i cannot say if this is a success or failure, as i have absolutely no idea exactly what they are trying to achieve with this.

so, is Lynx Gold Something Something worth your time? yes, and no. if you have ever speculated about using one of their rather more brutal, musky, sweaty man, used prophylactic and uber priapic fragrances but not had the courage to do so, consider this to be a slight stepping stone towards it.

to be honest, i think i will stick with their Black Night, which of course is a tribute to the song Black Night White Light by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and is a fitting and respectful tribute at that. otherwise, maybe a bit of Excite, and some Apollo too. this one has been an OK diversion or deviation, but nothing in the fragrance or results of wearing it says "buy a third tin".

as ever, hope this has been of some use or interest to someone somewhere!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

random bowie - young americans

Howdy Pop Pickers

And so here we are again, look you see. By my reckoning this is edition or if you like episode 17 of Random Bowie, although including this one there's only been 16 "officially recognised" solo Bowie albums done. In this instance it's Young Americans that's the topic; the ninth or if you like 9th solo studio album off of David Bowie as per the commonly agreed methodology of counting such.

Some fantastic facts to start off with? No. Instead, then, two wonderful bits of "trivia", or urban legend, or myths, that have always floated around inside this head of mine. Let me record them here for posterity, or if you like so should anything occur to me and this blog survive, well then my worthwhile knowledge is saved. These are stories which have probably / possibly been widely circled in Bowie fan, erm, circles, so apologies if there is nothing new.

First off, the titular track, Young Americans. Legend has it that Bowie felt he had "nailed" contemporary 'Americana' in terms of folksy bluesy storytelling rock. And so he proudly played it to, depending on which variation you believe, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan or Neil Young, expecting praise. Instead he was laughed at by whichever and told it was awful. Reports of the "I know someone who was there and saw it, swear down, no word of a lie" variety state Bowie ran away in tears, locking himself in a room for hours.

How plausible is the above? Oddly, partially. We do, after all, know that he went off in a sulk and shaved his eyebrows off purely to have a go at Ian Hunter when Mott The Hoople rejected the chance to record Drive-In Saturday. Also, if it was the Springsteen variation what was true, that would go some way to explaining why exactly the two superb Bruce covers Bowie recorded - Growin' Up and It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City - remained unreleased until the 1990s.

Secondly, when looking for musicians to record this album David Bowie supposedly "discovered" Luther Vandross as a homeless busker, and was so impressed with him he put him on the album and then all of a sudden Luther became a star. No, not quite. True, this was the first big break the wonderful Luther got, but at that stage he was not quite so destitute as the legend says, and solo fame in his own right only came a fair few years after providing backing vocals here.

A look at the album itself, you say? OK, why not, with that trivia done. If you know nothing else of this record then you perhaps might have heard of it spoken as the "David Bowie plastic soul album". That's how he referred to it, pretty much as a constant. All this and yet the two best known songs from the album, the singles Young Americans and Fame, are more rock and funk respectively than they are flat out soul, plastic or otherwise.

Motivation for the album? Producer Tony Visconti is quoted, presumably at the time for one is not allowed to speak such honesty in this day and age, as saying of it "every British musician has a hidden desire to be black.". This, of the time, was true. When British musicians of the 60s and 70s made it big enough to go to America, they did so not so much to sell records as to go and pay homage to the Blues, Soul and (proper use of the term not the modern variant) R n B artists who had inspired them in the first place. The most visible or pronounced examples of this would be The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, but the same rang true for Bowie.

Quite a few people, and I don't think it's as a consequence of the above, don't like this album. Or, at the least, consider it the "weak link" in Bowie's otherwise formidable 70s musical output. To be honest, it was perhaps the album I'd played the least in my time, as in my petulant youth I tended to find it "a bit boring". Having given it a spin several times in advance of writing this, well, lo and behold older me appreciates it some, and it's nowhere near as bad as I had thought.

Would it be fair to consider Young Americans something of a "transitional" album? It is a rather peculiar, catching audiences at the time by surprise turn on the road that went from the character driven Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, not to mention the nightmarish, 1984 (mostly) inspired Diamond Dogs towards the brave, the bold and the audacious era which delivered Station To Station and Low. Mostly, I think, I would say that Tony Visconti was on the money, really. Bowie just found himself in a position where he could make the music he wanted with the musicians he wished to assemble (with, among others, Carlos Alomar pretty much staying with him from here to the end), singing whatever his heart so felt to as it was likely to sell and find an audience no matter what.

So, the music. As mentioned this record gets called "plastic soul", mostly because that's what Bowie called it. For a soul album made of any material however, it sure lacks a dominant soul element. Perhaps it is just me, but of the 8 songs which comprise the album, only 2 - Win and Right are of a predominant soul sound. Even then, both lurch towards elements of jazz. But then again, every form of music was ultimately inspired or influenced by all other forms.

In terms of the above, Win is a track I don't like so much - bit too repetitive (dare I say monotonous) and sounds like it goes on for hours. David disagreed, somewhat. He included this track on that I Select set, where he was invited (and paid, you would hope) to put together his own "best of".

For an album routinely overlooked, dismissed or not held up as one of his best, well, it contains two track that one would have to call huge and significant staples of Bowie's career. They would be the titular track, or if you like Young Americans, with which the album starts, and Fame, which closes the album.

Should that myth or urban legend at the start of this post be true of the song Young Americans, well then maybe which celebrated American rocker what said it was either short sighted or jealous. Whilst the song is not one of my favourites, the genius (sorry, Charlie Watts) or brilliance is undeniable. A free flowing, linear storytelling narrative, it is, to be sure. Telling a complete story with some depth in the space of a pop or rock song is an art. You need to say a lot with as few words as possible. Here Bowie gives us "She took his ring, took his babies, it took him minutes, took her nowhere, Heaven knows, she'd have taken anything", giving you the entire story of a young relationship of default rather than design in less words that I need to use to describe it.

As for Fame, well, I used to feel the same about it as I felt of Win. Having said that, now that I have played it a few times ahead of writing this, I've found myself humming and singing it at random. The term is "earworming", or similar, isn't it? Anyway, yes. Fame is less plastic soul, more outrageous, catchy funk. A good many musicians - they know who they are - have borrowed from the hypnotic rhythm of this tune, with James Brown never hiding how much he loved it. When James Brown is giving you praise you, I guess, know you've done OK for a skinny pale white boy out of London.

Since we are on Fame, a frequently pointed out issue in these "random Bowie" posts is the one thing biographers, obituary writers and other such acolytes get wrong. There is something of a "myth" that it is OK or cool or right to say Bowie "never looked back". Not true. We know, just by going through the music, that at times Bowie was left frustrated that a particular song, every now and then, did not get the audience he felt it should. He would not hesitate to rework or reissue or revamp a song, as we've seen with overlooked 80s tunes like Loving The Alien and Time Will Crawl. So, when it came time to promote the SoundAndVision greatest hits shenanigans of 1990, it was not so much of a surprise to find a remix / reworked version of Fame, Fame 90, was issued.

The video for Fame 90 is well worth a watch. Here is a link for you good people to that there You Tube thing. Once I knew a lady that looked exactly like the lady in this video. No, alas, not intimately. Indeed I did not ask if it was her; my life has been better for, oh, 28 years, in just assuming that it was her.

No, Fame has never been much of a favourite of mine as mentioned. I suspect maybe some of that was the fact that it featured no less than John Lennon. To my mind, the coming together of Bowie and Lennon should have been instantly mindblowing, and when it wasn't instantly this I was left disappointed. It has grown on me, though.

Lennon also appears on Across The Universe, the album's one cover song and originally of course by The Beatles. You might want to let that sink in. To the best of my knowledge, in the 70s Lennon barely acknowledged The Beatles (Instant Karma and Come Together were done at one concert and that was it), much like the "other three". To me it seems strange that not as much fuss has been made of Lennon appearing on a Beatles cover that perhaps should. Maybe that's because not too many people like it, but I do.

Indeed, I do wonder. Yes, as my regular non-just-random-Bowie readers will know, I am a huge fan of Harry Nilsson. Lennon and Nilsson were mates. Not got any clue if Harry popped into the studio, or if David and John went out on the lash with him during recording sessions. It would be ace if they did.

Otherwise, I really love the guitar on Can You Hear Me, man. I am not convinced the rest of the song is as good as the guitar part, but still, worth it for that.

Yes, I have the fancy, early 90s re-issue of Young Americans with bonus tracks. Of the three, the most curious is John, I'm Only Dancing Again. This was recorded in 1974, around the time of Young Americans, but not released until 1979. Which is weird, if you have heard it. Basically the song is solid, up front and awesome disco, all made a couple of years before disco went mainstream thanks to the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever. And yet it only got released in 1979, as I said. So, basically, Bowie could have pre-empted the hugeness of disco a couple of years before it happened, instead he released it a couple of years after, when as far as most were concerned disco had had its day and was gone.

So, does Young Americans have a requirement to be in the collection of you, if you are the more casual, just coming to Bowie sort of appreciator? Difficult to say. It's not a bad album, but not essential. Should you have any of the "greatest hits" sets, then its likely you have Fame and Young Americans. The other six (nine if you include the bonus tracks) are OK to good, but you can get on with your life if you don't have them.

This album perhaps belongs to a time we no longer have. Once, we here in England, indeed the UK, had all of four channels to watch on the tele, and if we were lucky a VHS or a Beta video, with a couple of tapes. Should nothing across those appeal, one would switch the stereo on and spend the evening listening to vibes, rather than having music just as background wallpaper. Young Americans is an album which suited such occasions.

 Until the next edition or if you like episode, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!