Wednesday, February 29, 2012

and i don't know if i'm ever coming home

every now and then the world gets someone in it whose vibrancy and sheer apparent love of life makes the whole place feel like a much better place to be in.

David "Davy" Jones was such a person.

what sad news today that he is no longer with us. i recall fondly watching re-run after re-run of The Monkees on TV whilst growing up in Australia, and indeed their film Head when i was somewhat older and able to (ahem) appreciate what was going on in it.

he never once, to my knowledge, expressed resentment or regret at being remembered as "the man from The Monkees". if anything i think he was disappointed that they never got the acclaim they deserved - beyond being talented musicans and producing great pop lyrics, such greats as Neil Diamond and Harry Nilsson were able to get on the stage themselves by writing fantastic songs for them.

let us not forget, too, his accidental contribution to the world of modern music - as he was already around and well known as Davy Jones, the other Davey Jones had to change his surname to avoid confusion, opting to record as David Bowie instead.

over the next few days no doubt the internet shall be awash with memories and tributes of this lad who just sought to entertain. the fact that little, indeed i expect none at all, slurs or "bad" stories will surface is a fine measure to be had of you.

remember, then, when you rise, and wipe the sleep from your eyes, do keep believing in those daydreams.

be excellent to each other.

4 things for February 29

hi there

well, as it is a "bonus" day today, depending on your perspective, i thought it a jolly good idea to throw out a few things related to this somewhat rare day of the year.

for those somehow unaware, February 29th only happens once every four years. it has something to do with synchronizing the calendar to the establish seasonal time shifts. it is more likely, however, that it is in fact nothing more than a ploy by the bourgeouis elite to further exploit the workers and solicit from them an extra day of work without any extra pay. the validity of this view rests on the idea that as it is apparently a necessary event, then why not just make this one extra required day a public holiday every four years?

moving swiftly on to the point then, and to celebrate this once every four years thing, here you go with four observations relevant to this date.

in respect of what happens to one born on the 29th February for the 3 years between the day cropping up, interestingly which day you celebrate your birthday instead is not down to personal choice or preference. it's something that has been legally established, and oddly different countries have different days for this.
if you were born on February 29 within the borders of the United Kingdom, then on non-leap years legally your birthday is March 1. this does not, however, extend to the Commonwealth countries or if you will the remnants of the Empire. in New Zealand, for instance, those born on February 29 instead legally celebrate their birthday on February 28. perhaps this has something to do with the variances of the international date line or something like that, but there you go - anyone in the UK trying to celebrate their birthday a day early would appear to be doing something rather naughty! i have no idea why someone in New Zealand would opt to try and celebrate a day late, but by the same rule they too would be strictly speaking breaking a law of sorts if they attempted this.

the first recorded death (that i can work out) on a February 29 was that of the celebrated Archbishop Of York, Oswald Of Worcester, back in those crazy days of 992. i am pretty sure that Monty Python And The Holy Grail was set in and around that year, but alas i have no knowledge as to if Oswald Of Worcester had any knowledge of coconuts. As he was of Danish origin, there is every chance that he did have some knowledge, but equally there is every chance that he did not.
one somewhat obviously tries not to favour one particular Archbishop Of York over another as the position is, strictly speaking, meant to be above such popular trivialities, but it has to be said that Oswald was of substantial involvement in the implementation of the calculations to work out as and when Easter should be marked on any particular year. this is of relevance, of course, to those who like four day weekends and chocolate eggs.

history has one or to incidents of people who have lived a life and died on the same date as which they were born. William Shakespeare is perhaps the most famous example, of course. to be born on February 29, live a life and then die on February 29 is, as you may guess, not a common thing to be recorded.
in fact, thus far only one such instance has been recorded, that of James Milne Wilson.
Scottish born Wilson was noted as being one of the greatest politicians in the history of Australia, or at least in the opinion of celebrated novelist Anthony Trollope. Wilson served as the Governor and eventually Premier of sadly often overlooked island-off-an-island Tasmania, and is credited with being the man who fought off the efforts of Australian State Victoria to simply annex this fine island and make it its own.

finally, as it is somewhat topical now, the once highly valued Oscars have been awarded on February 29 on at least two years. the most recent, i think, was in 2004, when the farcical decision was given to award nearly a dozen once coveted statutes to the third and final part of that series of films featuring dwarfs, midgets and other assorted short people walking over a field with a ring. for three hours in that specific case; nine torrid hours in total. Oscars were once, it is easy to forget, awarded on actual merit, and the ceremony on February 29 1940 stands as an example of this.
1940 was the year that celebrated film Gone With The Wind won more Oscars than it did not, of course, and one of them in particular was of note. in winning the best supporting actress award for this film, Hattie McDaniel became the first black actress to win at the Oscars. considering by just how much America was racially divided and segregated at this time, and indeed for decades thereafter no matter how many revisionist works try to imply otherwise, the significance of this should never be overlooked, and it is truly a celebration of how art is supposed to and indeed can transcend all barriers and divisions.

well, there you have it, i trust these slices have been of some interest. if you are one of those born on February 29 and have stumbled upon this post, may i thank you for reading, wish you a very happy birthday and suggest in the strongest possible terms that you go off and get on with celebrating.

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

Middlesbrough car sticker thing

hi there

with my car all fixed up rather nice-nice, i thought it a good idea to finally put my ace new Boro sticker on it. Colin, Angela, Christopher and Andrew sent it quite some time ago, and i can only say sorry for taking so long to get it on.

for those of you, presumably of good taste, with an interest in seeing it, here you go!

it is quite class to drive around with Tony Mowbray on display, really it is. i might even be compelled to not only clean the car but also look after it whilst i have this sticker on. i think that was perhaps the motivation behind sending it to me!

i am not sure how many cars south of the Boro, let alone south of the Equator, have one of these on display. it will be ace if i see one or two more around!

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lost by Jonny Guitar

hi there

"my bad" is what i believe the kids say these days when one has done something wrong. i got an advance copy of a superb album, was invited to review it prior to release and....well, here i am reviewing it the day after the release. whoops, and sorry.

i've been in the rather odd position, over the years, to have received numerous "advance" copies of works by artists, and this was all before your "leaked illegal download" business. i'm not sure how i got to such a position of trust, but it's a nice place to be, and i hope not to abuse it or let it down.

when one is given a work of art in advance of a general release one is usually expected to pass comment or otherwise review it. it is bloody handy, then, when the art in question is any good. it's exceptionally fortunate, then, that Lost by Jonny Guitar is, if not for all tastes, really rather good.

if we are in the business of honesty here, yes Jonny Guitar (the musical persona of Jonathan Granville) have known each other for, oh, 25+ years. well, known of each other i guess. we were at the same school but, alas in retrospect from our conversations of the last couple of years (the magic of social networks), moved in different circles. if for some reason you wish to proclaim or accuse me and this review of a sense of bias, well then so be it. it's unfortunate that anyone would think that, but if they do, off they go.

with that out of the way, on to the music. i shall describe it here, but as is the way of the world you can simply check it out for yourself, or moments from it at the least, as Jonny has done one of them streaming audio type things for your pleasure.

for those wishing to read what it sounds like prior to hearing, the best description i can come up with is that it sounds like a minimalist quasi-Giorgio Moroder production, taking a pyschedelic goth slant loaded with a sound that reflects an influence, though not obsession, with legendary 80s bands of our youth. still not clicking to hear it?

much of the album happens in if not a dark place then one where a brighter lightbulb is needed might be what crosses your mind. suggesting it is "doom and gloom" might be inclined to put people off, which would be a pity, as the resolution to most of the songs is, to borrow the name of one of the fine songs here, Perseverance.

a good deal of the songs, as is the case with the best of music, is borne from personal experience and to a degree frustration. whilst i am aware of the stories behind one or two of the tunes, i'm certainly not going to divulge them here. instead, i'll just stick with my reaction to them.

a good deal of this album speaks to me of the perhaps angst, but more confusion and to a degree frustration of our generation. born in the 70s meant that we weren't of the dreaming hopers of the 60s or the thrust into technology children born in the 80s. we are at a bit of a loss, really. we grew up with incredible events, discoveries and technological leaps, but the price tends to be the world is not quite how we imagined it would turn out. perhaps all generations are like that, i don't know, but staying on subject it feels like we're the generation to last experience the true excitement of music as social importance and life defining; these days it feels like it has become disposable and secondary.

not for Jonny Guitar, of course. he's one of the few out there that still believes in music, believes that it is important. as such, he really doesn't deliver "this will do" rubbish or things that might sound quite good as a ringtone.

sorry if this is more disjointed than my usual posts, but have to say i've got Break Down The Walls on the album on the stereo now, and man is it good. the bass is jus the business on it.

speaking of bass, if i had one complaint of the album, it's that i would usually prefer a more bass-heavy vocal on my vibes. Jonathan is certainly not your whiny rubbish, but not quite the gruff bass i tend to lean towards. a minor, obviously personal choice, grumble. i think, at least, let's see if he still speaks to me after reading that.

the tune i am playing the most off the album thus far is one called Hope. i started playing this once or twice more than the rest of the tracks because he was considering dropping it; not long after i kept playing it purely because i dig it. it's somewhat lighter in tone than the remainder of the album but certainly not out of place at all. got it on right now, enjoying it but my efforts to sing along make my comments about the vocal bass level earlier are making me think of a pot, a kettle and a conversation.

other than drawing your attention to the excellence of The Bed You Burned, an anthem for broken relationships that speaks to anyone with a bad relationship experience (quite a few of us, i'd imagine), i would rather leave you, and indeed encourage you, to explore the album for yourself. which i would have thought you would have done before reading this far.

getting down to business, and you can purchase one of them "digital downloads" of the album by clicking here, and indeed you can, if you are a member of the grand social network, follow Jonny Guitar by clicking here.

this is all a bit win-win for me, really. i want to see all those i grew up with do well, and i want to once again live in a world where music matters and is made by people who craft it as an art instead of simply manufacturing it. the two coming together is quite excellent.

at the risk of overkill, i really do hope that those of you reading this at least try the stream thing of his music, and if you do like what you hear give serious consideration to a purchase.

thanks for reading, and indeed at the risk of going a touch Swedish, thank you for the music.

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

The Source by Michael Cordy

hi there

in my experience book reviews are tricky things to get "useful" ones of. they either give you nothing in the way of why you should or should not read, or give up far too much of the book, making finding and reading it a redundant exercise. wish me luck, then, in finding some sort of middle ground.

the easiest way to do that is to present a simple enough summary of my view here, leaving you to read on or not read on. put short, then, The Soruce by Michael Cordy turned out to be one of the most enjoyable books i have yet to read, and anyone wishing to read a partially plausible, not at all demanding ripping adventure tale could do a good deal worse than try this one.

for those of you who choose to read on after an image of the cover, thank you for taking the time to do so and i shall do my level best not to give away spoilers and such like.

the novel starts (sort of) with a presentation by what one assumes shall be the protagonist, Lauren Kelly. we find her just as she is about to present to the academic world something that had been thought impossible - a pretty comprehensive translation of the legendary Voynich Manuscript. this is no trivial thing, for the manuscript has existed for some 500 years and yet no one has been able to work out conclusively what is in it due to the peculiar text or code pattern it is written in.

the translation or interpretation attracts some interest from beyond academic circles. it transpires that a senior, somewhat secretive area of the Catholic Church has been well aware of what is contained in the manuscript, and they are rather concerned at the idea of an exact translation being available to the world.

cutting to the chase somewhat and doing all i can to avoid spoilers, events take a turn that mean it is left to Lauren's husband, geologist and "ancient oil" explorer Ross Kelly, to, with some assistance, "follow" the translation his wife produced to find, well, pretty much what the title suggests.

to get the bad out of the way and, as much as i enjoyed reading the book, there are a number of "flaws" with it. the narrative is prone to going all over the place, with spectacular skips in its own timeline to give preference to getting the story moving along. not particularly bad, i suppose, but it does every now and then give one the sense that they are reading a "fleshed out" screenplay treatment rather than a novel.

on top of that, some of the "twists" taken are so obvious that they might as well not be in the book - huge signposts are planted for some key dramatic turns that take away from the suspense a great deal.

leaving those aside, as i said this is a truly wonderful read. i struggled to put it down, and now feel somewhat disappointed that it has come to an end, wondering if the next book i select to read will keep me as interested.

there's also the bashing of the Catholic Church in the book. i owe no allegiance to any church and thus this really was not an issue for me, but be warned as this aspect is highly likely to offend certain readers.

whatever i do read, i suppose, shall be easier to follow than the actual Voynich Manuscript. if you have not seen it before, here you go.

i stumbled upon The Source whilst browsing a bookshop. it was the fact that the Voynich was mentioned on the back cover that nudged me towards giving it a try. i certainly do not have the skills or resources to have a go at my own interpretation of it, but the fact that this text has stumped many fine brains has always been of interest to me.

just how plausible this particular interpretation of what the mysterious text pertains to is of course for your discretion. it's an unlikely interpretation, but all the same not one that is too outlandish or difficult to accept within the premise of the context of this work of fiction.

the novel does, for the most part, rely more on interpreting the drawings in the Voynich rather than the text.

a bit of research on the author suggests that a few people are inclined to dismiss him and his work as a "poor Dan Brown cash in". this is rather unfortunate, really. it seems that Cordy's first few books were renamed to feature the word "code" in the title after the insane success of Dan Brown's books. this, however, seems to not be the idea of the author, and this novel would best be described as similar-but-vastly different when compared to something like The Da Vinci Code. besides, as Dan Brown's books sell by the millions, what exactly is so wrong with "similar" books being around? many people enjoy this kind of reading.

i shall certainly be seeking out Michael Cordy's earlier books on the basis of reading The Source - i am very pleased to have found a new author to follow.

if the worst this book has been described as is as being "Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code via hints of Heart Of Darkness" then that really is not a bad thing to be at all, considering how good, interesting and involving the story is. as hinted at above, both sensitive Catholics and those aloof types who only want to read serious, quality literature rather than just sheer enjoyment should perhaps steer well clear of this. to everyone else i say find a copy and enjoy!

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jack White, a man of the fans for the fans.

hi there

recently i received an expected yet unexpected item in the post. when i got notification of a parcel for me i was expecting it to be the Art Garfunkel Across America CD & DVD set that my cousin Andrew had kindly posted to me. whereas that turned up a few days later, what this parcel was took me by surprise, going on previous experiences with ordering things from America (more on that later).

it was the much anticipated debut solo single from Jack White.

here are a load of pictures of the single. i am not sure i have all that much to say about it, really, but i would suspect or imagine that collectors and music fans would like to see what one got when ordering this.

it is rather smart, although oddly the single is housed in a "fold over sheet" rather than a traditional single package. oh sure, it's in a white envelope inside, but one may accidentally "drop" the single, expecting the outer cover to be a standard sealed one. consider that a warning or advice!

and it would be a great shame for one to drop and damage this single, for as you can see it is rather smart looking!

i am assuming the colour scheme applied to the 7" relates to the colours of Jack's Third Man record label rather than any artistic statement?

as for the songs themselves, well, solid Jack White stuff really. to be honest the single itself leans more towards his country taste than it does his devastating rock sound as perfected with The White Stripes. not my first choice of music vibe to get down to if i am honest, but it is certainly not bad.

included in the single was something that i initially mistook for a postcard, presuming it to be some sort of odd promo flyer for other Third Man releases. well, it could be, but there is more to it than that.

the back of it seems to reflect a part of an email between Mr White and someone else, concerning an auction item - presumably the one on the front of the card. i am throwing it out here into the world on the off chance that others got a similar but different one; you never know.

i will, of course, be getting a second copy of this eventually - i am led to believe by the ways of electronic mail that my copy from the UK is on the way too. it will be interesting to see if it is the same.

as for the surprise at getting this, well, the surprise is that it arrived so quickly. it came to me from the States within 11 days of shipping. this is comparable to the times i experience for stuff from the UK, but unheard of from the States.

my only other experience with American orders has been, and those have been very limited. why? because whilst amazon America offers some great deals, they offer equally ridiculous shipping costs.

for the Jack White single i used the cheapest shipping option, which came in at less than US$5.00, not bad at all. for that i got the single in less than two weeks. take a different approach. here is the cheapest (most modest) shipping cost offer by them :

yep, a couple of cents shy of US$14 for one item, increasing by US$6.99 for every item added. add to that they state an "expected delivery time" of 18 to 30 days, and in my experience it never arrives in less than 30 days. what a shame that amazon, who apparently seek to dominate the online market, cannot offer better pricing and better delivery times.

ho hum, just don't use is the answer i guess. in the mean time, do not hesitate to order from Jack White and Third Man, great service and excellent product!

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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

decking New Zealand

hello there

well, time for a few more pictures from New Zealand, i believe. and what is it you would like to see? more images of my Dad doing non-essential DIY work early in the morning whilst wearing his pyjamas? of course you do.

most people would tend to go on holiday to have a bit of a rest, or at least to try and relax and do something different from the usual stuff. not so, as far as my Dad is concerned. i assure you this is the kind of thing he is prone to do anywhere in the world. i recall, and i am sure there is a post on it here somewhere, him deciding to bang nails in the doorway of South Fork just as we were trying to head home the once.

for those of you interested, in these pictures i can pretty much assure you that he is saying something like "get in there, you bastard" at the nails (or bolts, or whatever they are), much to the confusion of the neighbours (who presumably aren't used to such sights and sounds at daybreak) and to the assurance of my sister, who has presumably come to accept this all as some sort of sign of normal mental stability in him. we would worry if he stopped banging nails in things sporadically, i guess.

Grant has possibly got used to this sort of thing, him being in "the family" for a while now. he does seem particularly pleased, at least, that the "decking project" has expanded from modest routes in the back garden to being something which apparently extends all the way to the side of a river or some other body of water in the city.

nice work, Dad. i hesitated before writing that, fearing that compliments may just encourage him, but then again he doesn't really need encouraging to do this sort of thing.

i shall endeavour to share even more images of New Zealand eventually, but in the mean time i hope you all enjoyed these ones!

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

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ringo 2012, or Beatle Bashing Made Easy

"The Beatles are dying in the wrong order."
-Victor Lewis-Smith

no, i have no idea who or what a Victor Lewis-Smith is either, but he, as do most of the world, knows of The Beatles. he is also aware that a negative, semi-witty comment about them is likely to get remembered and quoted too.

as the two Beatles who died have gained some sort of legendary, mythical status, it is increasingly the case that bashing the other two has become an acceptable form of entertainment. the Knighted one, of course, tends to get a bit bashed simply because of his lovelife and you would have thought simple wish to not be alone and indeed to be happy.

and then there is Ringo Starr.

Ringo tends to actively encourage being bashed, really. he is as arrogant, obnoxious and oblivious to anyone as, well, as you or i would perhaps be if we had been part of one of, if not the, single biggest and most influential band in the history of modern music.

his stance on interviews is legendary. you are warned up front not to ask a single question about The Beatles. if you dare to, then you never get access to Ringo again, and neither will the media you represent. there's also a heavily veiled threat with that warning that it will mean "no access to Paul" in the future. and then, if you go and read interviews he does, Ringo has no problem at all with lines like "did i mention i was in The Beatles?".

beyond that, there was of course his infamous and ill-advised press release that he "will not sign anything anymore". he was roundly mocked for this, and perhaps rightly - why not just stop signing things, why make such a fuss?

but he does, of course, want the fans to keep buying his product. bringing that and The Beatles thing above together, he of course had no issue with flogging some sort of video game to the world.

and now, of course, he wishes for "the fans", the ones who cannot ask him of his illustrious past or have a memento if they are fortunate enough to meet him, to buy his latest album, Ringo 2012.

that really is the album cover, by the way. i am not sure i have ever seen such a cheap, shoddy, quickly put together work of "art" before.

to call this an album is, honestly, only to abide by the record industry's guidelines about lengths. at all of 28 minutes long, even if one tries the statement "quality over quantity", this all screams "this will do".

going back to any sort of quality over quantity argument, forget it. of the poor sales for this album (more on that just now), the first track, Anthem, starts with the lines "this is an anthem for peace and love". oh dear! is he trying to show off how far removed from the world he is yet still feels compelled if not obliged to "comment", or is this an effort to try and attract Sir Paul to appear at one of his All Starr Band gigs?

i am not really going to dwell on the specifics of the rest of the album. i would guess that a few got halfway through the first track there, pulled the disc out and lamented their purchasing mistake. everyone else will find a few tracks that personify the term "average effort" and find out just what it is that Ringo Starr thinks will do. they are not bad tunes, but there are no classics here. some, granted, will sound like great fun to a sauced audience at one of his celebrated "All Starr Band" gigs. but then leave them there, don't go recording and releasing them.

overall, then, it is fair to say that Ringo 2012 succeeds only in its efforts to be the single biggest vanity project ever thrust on the world.

and just how has the world taken to the release of Ringo 2012? not at all well. sales in the US on the first week of release were 6300. in the UK, it sold precisely 752 copies. to put that in some sort of perspective, the 2001 Mick Jagger solo album, Goddess In The Doorway. got lashed for "only" selling about 950 copies in the UK on the week of release, despite it coming out at a time when CD-R copies and illegal downloads were something of a free-for-all. Jagger's album at the least eventually climbed into the Top 50 in the US and UK, something that Ringo is unlikely to do as it fell out of the chart on the 2nd week of release.

being aware of the extravagance that Ringo Starr is partial to, there's a case to suggest that it might well have been cheaper for the record label to simply fly everyone who wanted to hear this album to one venue and just play the tape rather than going to the trouble of pressing and releasing it. one can only assume that Universal Music agreed to release this as some sort of "sweetener" for Ringo, really. Universal have just bought the EMI catalogue, which means they effectively own the releases to the works of The Beatles. perhaps they feel that being nice to Ringo and keeping him on side will mean he will agree to promote and be involved with future release that will sell a great deal better.

if that makes sense to Universal, and it does indeed for this is how business works, then it does not really make all that much sense for Ringo to bother with all of this. you would assume he does not need the money and quite frankly if he did then surely he is coining it in with his - apparently rightly - celebrated and successful All Starr Band concerts. one would hope that he's done this as he is "old school" and believes one needs a new album out before going on tour. either that or he just wishes to try and be the Beatle to release the most solo albums.

for whatever reason this got released, all it has done is open the door to more Beatle, obviously specifically Ringo, bashing. this, honestly, is a shame. i'm not saying that any ex-Beatle should be automatically revered and worshipped, but they have earned a distinctly high level of respect by any standard. some people enjoy knocking them, and it's a shame to see them themselves feeding it by releasing things like this.

there is no reason on earth to purchase this album, but that's a rather academic thing to say since the sales figures scream that the world has already got to this conclusion. stick to the tours and celebrity appearances, Ringo.

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

Friday, February 24, 2012

Japanese swimming

hi there

well, this is one of those updates that has less to do with me and much more to do with a specific request. the request this time comes from my Dad, who took these images and has expressed an interest in seeing them on this very blog. to that end, here are two of the pictures of the dozen or so he sent.

Japanese swimming is not, it has to be said, a subject that holds much in the way of particular interest for me. a quick bit of research suggests that the finest swimmer Japan produced was probably Hironoshin Furuhashi, but alas the matter of a World War prevented him from being exposed to the international area or, if you will, pool. along those lines, though, there was gold medal winner Daichi Suzuki, and of course Masaru Furukawa.

my apologies in advance, or just plain right now, for those of you reading this on the basis of those names featuring here, as that is all i have to say about them. instead of anything on those swimmers, here are some pictures my Dad took of a Japanese lady swimming at an unspecified location in New Zealand.

if you ever wondered about the specifics of the thousands of pictures that my Dad takes whilst on his travels but do not always end up here i can only imagine these ease your query somewhat. yes, this is the kind of thing i get sent to me.

as far as i can work out these pictures were taken and sent off as part of some "voyeuristic twist" he has decided to take. this is perhaps as a consequence, or just part of, the fact that i am led to believe he has now clocked exactly what "dogging" is after a chance glance inside a van parked somewhere in New Zealand; something he felt it best to invite my Mum to come and have a look at. Grant, it seems, has been very keen to go along to the same venue on a daily basis.

i am assuming for the moment that the lady in these pictures had absolutely nothing to do with either this "dogging" business my Dad has taken a shine to, and is probably quite unaware of these images existing.

i have a further 11 pictures of this moment in time and propose to put here no further ones unless there is a high level of demand for them. let me know, which means i kind of expect the comments section of this post to remain rather quiet.

there you go Dad, hope this is kind of what you wanted to see! there are other, dare i say more suitable, pictures from New Zealand that i need to post here, i will do them sooner or later!

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

new mug time

hi there

well, as regular readers will be all too aware, a visit to the fine land of New Zealand by my Mum & Dad usually means that i get a class new mug to use at verk. this most recent trip of theirs was certainly no exception, and a most splendid one was indeed brought back for your humble narrator to use.

it is rather standard, too, for me to have images of me using it at verk and placed upon this site for your entertainment. myself and Trigger, my personal photographer, would not wish to let you down in this regard, so here are the images of the new mug in action. my apologies if there are not quite as many pictures as usual this time.

to get the most curious, if not the most interesting, one out of the way first, ladies and gentlement i give you Zama.

Zama, for some reason, has got it into his head that places like New Zealand and England do not, and there is no way to dress this up, "have any black people". he is then very eager to get to either of those places so that they may admire him. it is best not to disillusion him too much in respect of his views, although he does like appearing here so that people in NZ and beyond can "see what he looks like".

the design of the mug, featuring one black sheep, has led to Zama believing that the mug has been designed as some sort of tribute to him and the day that he lands in the country. it is proving to be rather difficult to just have a nice cup of team without him playing "where's Zama?" with it, but i am managing thus far.

somewhat (as in greatly) easier on the eye is Siphokazi.

i did briefly contemplate asking her to do a "foxy" pose for this picture, but as she always looks foxy there would have been little point; it would have rather been like asking the sun to shine.

next up is Sandy, who has a somewhat dogged history in association with my ace mugs from New Zealand.

the handle broke off one of my many fine mugs, i think it was the one from 2 or so years ago. this was probably down to over use, but as Sandy was close to me when it happened i accused her of breaking it. wisely or unwisely a number of people have accepted this as plain fact. i shall say no more.

onwards, then, to my dear friend Ronel. as she is, and i do not know why she or anyone should carry this burden, responsible and accountable for exactly what it is i do at verk it is very good ideed of her to take the time to pose for this picture instead of instructing myself and Trigger to stop taking pictures.

Ronel was somewhat concerned by the lack of time she had to prepare for this picture, so i once again had to assure her that natural beauty needs no time to "get ready".

happily, i was able to get a picture with some of my team here at verk. Viv was, alas, unavailable (she was busy with actual verk), but here i am with Leslie and Lance.

it was by pure chance that Lance was wearing his celebratory New Zealand shirt today, a happy accident if you will. it is rather strange, however, that Leslie is not wearing a shirt celebrating the red half of Manchester.

speaking of chance, Prudence came strutting down the passage as we were taking these pictures, and thus we were able to get a shot of her; a shot which for some reason Trigger thinks she has her eyes closed in.

i do keep meaning to play the fine song Dear Prudence by The Beatles for her, but just do not get around to it. i suppose i could try and sing it for her, but alas i dare say it would not sound as fine a song as it is. and yes, that is who you think it is in the background, but we shall get to Mr Glitter Vampire later.

who else should happen to be wandering down the corridor than my dear friend Nedine too, and thus she got roped in for a picture.

a very fortunate meeting, especially as she and i seem to spend a good deal of time in meetings together these days. for what? you are better off not knowing, to be honest.

what's that you say? you want a picture of me using a pregnant lady as a sort of table to rest my tea on? no problem, her is Michelle.

i must say that ever since she got pregnant she has been a considerably more stable table to rest a cup of tea on. this will come to an end soon, alas, as she is due to give birth to little Jose Ronaldo Figo Jorge Franco quite soon. i have no doubt that Leslie shall be able to arrange for another pregnancy soon so that i may place my tea on a most interesting resting spot.

since i mentioned the name, here is Ronaldo, the one who isn't me wearing spectacles, and Hedge, the dude in the middle, celebrating the new mug.

i am not quite as "down" on the "gangsta signs" the two of them are making, but they assure me that these gestures are positive ones about the mug. my apologies, though, if they are not and have quite by accident triggered a gang war or signalled a drive by shooting.

up next is the delightful Melissa, who very kindly cleans or otherwise polishes my glasses for me. on that note, they are a touch misty - will be back in a moment.

ah, much better - many thanks, Melissa, you clean them better than i could ever do! Melissa is quite the fan of that whole Twilight business, of course, but not quite as big a fan of it all as this next chap. here is a familiar face for you regulars, yes it is Medicine himself, Stefan.

Stefan does like his Twilight stuff, and presumably goes to watch the films in exceptionally comfortable shoes. i have no idea when the next one of them films is due to be out, but i would place a hefty wager on him knowing the specifics.

next up is dear Lungi, clearly fighting back the elation and pain of seeing me back at verk .

my day at verk is simply not complete without her good, heartfelt wishes being given as and when it is time to leave for the day.

of the people in the background there, both wearing red, one is Shaun and the other is Colin. Shaun declined the option to appear in these pictures directly, but you do get a couple of glimpses of him as he does managerial things. as for Colin, he was delighted to pose for a picture, on the condition that he could do his "sex face".

i am not at all well versed in what counts as a good "sex face", but i have no reason at all to doubt that Colin is doing a most excellent one here. nice one mate, the effort is much appreciated.

onto the more mature and sophisticated, and here's another dear friend in the shape of Knox.

Knox and i engage in many interesting conversations, often featuring matters such as mermaids and their affect on water filters, and indeed the complex problems posed by having to face Sunderland in the FA Cup. conversations with Knox daily means that one does as they should and invariably learns something new every day.

which all brings us to the desk of one of the dearest and oldest friends i have at verk, Iggy.

Iggy's desk has become exceptionally popular with the gentry here over the last few weeks. this has little or nothing to do with Iggy's charms, personality or striking conversation. it has, rather, has a good deal to do with the fact that the window behind her allows one the best view from our office of a certain group of ladies who appear to work in a freelance capacity on short term contracts with gents that have an urge to get something done, as it were.

moving right along and we get to Iggy's delightful sister, Cecilia, who is usually happier to see me than either Iggy or than Iggy is, if that makes sense.

much like Iggy Cecilia was at that thing which my dear wife informs me was the best and happiest day of my life, my wedding day. they were there, presumably, to make sure that i went through with it all. yay, thanks for that.

i did not, alas, know and work with the wonderful Claudia at the time i engaged in what apparently was the best day of my life, but if i did she surely would have been invited too.

in the mean time, though, having her consider me a friend and being happy to pose for pictures like this does my heart a great deal of good.

and in making a nice bookend for this update, no update could be complete without Trigger himself, with your humble narrator, doing out usual trademark pose.

this picture was taken by Zama, who was very excited by it for some reason and has asked to keep a copy of it. knock yourself out, lad.

and speaking of Zama, well, Gillian or Mum & Dad might be wondering what exactly happened to the excellent box that my shiny new mug came in. well, Zama is convinced that this Where's Zama? game has got "legs" as they say in the world of commerce, and is pretty sure he can make millions from it. to this end, then, he has taken the box and turned it into a sort of prototype packaging design for his class new game.

good luck there, mate, i hope it turns out to be a big seller!

well, there we have it. no doubt at some point in the future i shall get another excellent mug from New Zealand, but for the time being i am happy to celebrate this fine one!

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

new handle

hi there

my car has been away on a bit of a holiday for the last week or so. well, when i say "holiday" i mean "service", and indeed to have one or two minor things fixed on it.

a major issue for everyone but me, it has to be said, was that the window handle winding thing broke off a while ago. well, a few months ago. i have been managing perfectly well putting the window up and down with a pair of pliers, but apparently this was "not safe". under much duress i agreed to have a new one installed, and here it is for your viewing pleasure.

in the above picture you can also see the new door handle thing, too. that broke quite some time ago, but i had no issue with just putting my hand out the window and opening the car from the outside. after i had got the window down with the pliers, of course.

in other matters, the windscreen wiper blades that i had fixed up with my pair of pliers got replaced, and something called the "cv joints" were replaced as the ones on were falling off. i am led to believe that the "cv" part there stands for "constant velocity", which is a very cool name. i am not 100% sure where these cool sounding things are bar somewhere in or near the wheels, but i suppose it does not matter as they do not sound like things one can fix with a pair of pliers.

anyway, the beast is back on the road, and appears not to be making any more funny or strange noises. driving, in fact, feels rather pleasant in it at the moment, even with the "element of surprise" removed from going about my business in it. it's taking some getting used to, opening the window and door in a more conventional manner, but no doubt i shall soon master this fine art.

i do, as you may expect, have the pliers in the car still, just in case.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a weekend away

hi there

apologies for the lack of updates, etc, etc, moving on......

as someone was celebrating their birthday last weekend (not my dear wife, obviously, as apparently she does not age) we went away for the weekend. where did we go? same place as usual, Sun City. well, we love it up there. although i do promise for the next holiday we shall go somewhere different, maybe.

anyway, a weekend suggests a short holiday, but this in no way stopped the boys from doing all that they would normally do in a week within the given time. it was somewhat hectic, then!

a request James made was for us to go to the monster trucks. i must confess this puzzled me for a while, and then i clocked what it was that he wished to go see and do!

well, they seem like monster trucks to him, i suppose! they are pretty cool, and James does love riding around. he can almost now even park one without crashing, which makes him at least one better than me.

William was rather frustrated that he was too small to go on one of them, but was somewhat at peace when he found one parked that he could sit on and "rev", as it were.

oddly, we went back to where that was parked the next day and it was gone, much to the confusion and disappointment of William!

one of the things that both boys could indeed do together, at least, was play golf. well, not quite the golf that Sun City is famous for, but a version that is perfect for the two of them!

what impressed me the most about the round of mini / crazy golf they played was that they actually did it properly (of sorts) in respect of the conventional use of the sticks. or clubs, or whatever they are called. golf things. i half expected them to, at about the 2nd or 3rd hole, just start using them as lightsabers and commence clattering each other, for that is their way with anything that looks remotely like the weapon of a Jedi.

there have been a number of changes at Sun City in the 6 or so months since we were last at the place, it has to be said. one of the changes was that all rooms now have them flat LCD TV sets in them, so it was handy that James had brought along all the Star Wars films. another change was the complete revamp of the children's play area down by the massive breakfast place. this took the boys somewhat by surprise.

i think for the most part they approved of the changes, although James said it was smaller than the old one and thus not as much of a challenge to climb. he also was not at all taken with the "string bridge" connecting it together.

for the most part they played just fine on it, though, with particular emphasis on the ace helter-skelter like slides. as in the fairground ride, not the Beatles song / Manson incident thing.

whereas the place may not now have the height to it that James has a preference for climbing, there were still lots of places for him to perform this fine art, even if they did not always look like things built or designed for climbing on.

William just enjoyed doing everything really, in particular having a close look at Daddy's camera to see just what exactly was going on with it!

and for a final picture, a rare family portrait with us all looking pretty much the same way, kindly taken by the nice chap who did the train ride.

well, there you have an update! a very short, exceptionally busy and indeed very sweet weekend away!

i will do my sort of best to do a few decent updates over the next couple of days. i still have a stack from New Zealand to put here for a start, amongst other images and musings!

in the mean time, though,

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