Monday, January 31, 2005

Ramblings and Dead Funnymen

I was threatened with physical violence and being expelled from work today when in a discussion about dead comedians I said:

How did Tommy Cooper die? Just like that!

Which was very funny and made most of us fall about. They weren't really going to hit me, I could tell they were joking because they were laughing a lot as well. Really, it was much funnier at the time than it may seem written here.

I think my favourite comedian's death was that of the late, great Rod Hull. He fell off his roof whilst trying to fix his satellite dish in a gale. Or similar. At the time, it was a tragic loss for British comedy, but now I think with the benefit of retrovision, he can say that it's the way he would have wanted to go. Except he won't say that because of the deadness he suffered. Since Rod's death, his beloved Emu has been seen very rarely in public. I've heard rumours that Emu also died that day, but I am unable to confirm them.

I described Rod Hull there as being "late" ie dead. However, if I were talking about someone who died a longer time away (eg Isaac Newton, Benjamin Disraeli, or Errol Flynn) we don't describe them as "late". Euphemisms are not needed and we instead speak of them as being "dead", "rotting", "decayed" or "who?".

I therefore surmise that there must be a point at which a goner moves from being late to being just dead and gone. It's clearly a longer time than a year, but equally clearly it's less than 100 years. This gives quite a big grey area for me. John Peel is definitely still late. So is Douglas Adams. How about Kurt Cobain? He died over ten years ago and I'm not sure whether he's still late or not. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.

But enough of this morbidity!

I saw a fantastically placed apostrophe in a job application form today:
"Mathematic's Society"
I know I sometimes get them wrong too, if only through typing too fast and not properly reviewing what I've written, but that doesn't mean that I ca'nt take the piss out of others when they make bads :-)

Enough! Bye!

Australia: It won't go away

Bizarrely, I've just been invited to a second Australia party, exactly four weeks after the first one, but in a different city (London) with different people. Has this year been officially nominated as Australia Party Year or something? Did I not get the memo that announced this?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Dingbat, wombat, kiss a kangaroo

Apparently it was Australia Day earlier this week. I don't really know what the point of it is, but like St Patrick's Day, it's an excuse for a party. A party to which I was invited - my favourite kind.

To show just how Australian this party was, here's a photo of me with a real life actual kangaroo:

The start of a beautiful relationship

We actually got on really well, and after a brief conversation, I definitely pulled:

Dingbat, wombat, kiss a kangaroo

It's not something I've ever tried before, but for those of you that are interested, kangaroos are damn good kissers. However, they are not very faithful and later on I was frankly sickened and disturbed by the things I saw that roo do. There are photos, but I don't think I can publish them here. You'd be revolted off your dinner.

I will not be seeing her again.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

More (or possibly less) for my money

I went for a haircut at the haircutters today, and my hair has ended up slightly shorter than normal. They had also put the price up by a whole pound. However, since they are clearly cutting off more hair for this higher price, it is hard to complain too much about the situation.

Friday, January 28, 2005

See y'all tomorrow!

I try to build some discipline into myself. Write something everyday. Any old crap - nobody reads it. Just write something.

But sometimes it's nicer to not write something and just go to bed.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The trouble caused by four extra inches

I recently ordered some dining chairs from John Lewis so that I could sit at table and eat food like posh people do. Four chairs in total, which would allow me to have guests should I desire. I could have up to four guests if I put the ironing board away and sat somebody on my swivel office chair.

Yesterday a little man phoned me up and asked if it would be ok if they delivered them to me this morning. I enquired what time this might be, and was given the answer that it would be between eight and ten am. Not too bad - I might be a bit late for work, or I might not, but I'd have chairs, and would soon be able to dine at table like a posh person. So this morning, I made sure that I was ready to receive chairs from eight o'clock and I sat and waited for them until they arrived.

So here's a photo of my chairs:

Photo not available for technical reasons

Oh, hang on. The photo doesn't seem to be working. Why could that be? I know! It'll be because I don't have any chairs yet. Grrrrr.

Ten o'clock came and went and I was still waiting. Eleven o'clock came and went and I was still waiting. At around half eleven I received a call to tell me that they were on their way to me, and by the way, where on earth do I live? I was able to answer that question - I know where I live. Perhaps you do too! Shortly after that I received a second call from the delivery men saying that there might be a problem. They felt that the van might be too tall to successfully navigate the road tunnel that leads to my road. I said that I didn't think there would be a problem as big trucks go up and down the road all the time, and I've never had any problems before and by the way there's currently a rather huge removal van outside my front window.

They said that in that case, they'd have a go. But soon, I got a final call saying that they'd reached the tunnel and that the limit was 12'6" and their truck was 13'0". Too big by four inches. Darn. They offered me the option of driving down to their van to pick the chairs up in my car, but I had to turn this down since I don't have a car. And if I did have a car I wouldn't have been ordering chairs from the internet in the first place. And by the way, I have now wasted an entire morning for no reason at all. And yes, I think it would be a good idea if you did try and deliver them another day in a normal lorry rather than the Space Shuttle Transportation device that they had clearly tried to use today.

So eventually I got to work around midday. Figured I'd better class the morning as holiday which was marginally annoying, but I had used the time to clear most of a big pile of ironing so it wasn't all bad. Every cloud can also be used as an ironing board, as the old saying goes.

Unfortunately I then had to go straight back home because I remembered I'd left my French windows unlocked (I had done this in preparation for the chairs arrival).

There's a moral to this story. It's either:
a) Remember to state that there is a height restriction in that box where you can specify special delivery instructions.

So I don't have any chairs yet. But I hope to have some one day. Soon. And then, I will eat my food like a poshy and all will be well with the world.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The subject exhibits further doofus behaviour:

So as my first eBay auction draws to a close, giving me a potential net profit of £5.50, I have learnt an important lesson. When the buyer has attempted to give you the money don't get all confused in PayPal and accidentally press the button that means you refuse to accept payment. Doh! Hopefully they'll resend it when they see my apologetic email apologising for me being such a doofus.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

1% Inspiration, 99% Rubbish

Since I'm currently labouring under a slight cold, I will stay well away from the screen whilst writing this lest you get my germs. If you were to get the germs, then all I can say is: "Ha! You've got the lurgy". It may not be sympathetic but it reflects a sad truth about modern life. What that truth is, I don't know. I think I may be rambling. That's what can happen when you start to write something and have absolutely no idea what you are writing about or why.

So yet another awards ceremony is looming upon us, and yet again I haven't been nominated for anything at all. Bloody Oscars. They are so obsessed with giving awards to people who've actually made films or starred in films or worked on films. They always forget the little people. I deserve an Oscar just as much as that Scorsese bloke. Really I do.

Incidentally, there is no link between the previous two paragraphs. Ah, sweet inspiration. Where did you go? Maybe I should have just drawn a graph of something.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Quotes. But not real ones. Possibly.

Here are some quotes that I made up:

"As an Englishman, it's my birthright to be miserable. Our misery is like a badge - it's how we identify each other at parties. That, and the inability to stand."
- Winston Churchill

"I am sick to death of those f**king reindeer. Elves! Make me reindeer pie, now!"
- Santa Claus

"I once walked along the Seine and saw a man painting. I said 'Young man - what are you painting?'. He said 'I paint the death of socialism in France'. To me, it looked like a mass of colours and shapes with no real form, but to him it was more than that - it was a foreshadow, a prophecy. He was totally wrong, of course."
- Roger Moore

"I hope one day that I'll be able to leave this job with my head held high. In someone else's hands, with blood running from my severed neck."
- King Charles I

"Right, the next leper comes near me is going to get a right kicking."
- Mother Teresa

Snow way to start a day

It's just started snowing outside. Since I haven't left for work yet, I have the option of taking an umbrella with me. I always feel a bit silly with an umbrella in the snow as it's quite easy to end up with an inch or so of snow covering the umbrella which will inevitably attempt to land on you when you close the thing. It's not snowing heavily though so I think I'll be ok. It may have even started to stop snowing whilst I've been writing this. Hey ho. I've written it now. May as well post it. Happy snow-day everyone!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Espresso making tips

My Espresso machine didn't get much use last year, what with me not drinking any coffee and all. It's not a hugely posh one, but it does the job and can make decent little coffees. Although normally you end up taking more time to clean the thing afterwards than it took to drink the coffee. Sometimes the results from it are better than others, and I've never really determined to my satisfaction exactly what combination of factors makes the perfect Espresso.

As I see it, I can change the following variables:

1. Fineness of ground coffee (since I grind it myself).
2. Amount of coffee put in the little metal thing.
3. Amount of compression applied to coffee when in the little metal thing.
4. Freshness of ground coffee (ie time since grinding).
5. Freshness of water in water compartment.
6. Amount of water in water compartment.

I'm not sure that 4 to 6 actually make much difference, so that leaves me with just the first three things to worry about. And I'm pretty sure that for Espresso, the beans are supposed to be ground quite fine.

So if anyone has any tips to enable to make a fantastic cup every time, please tell me! Do I leave the coffee loosely packed? Do I tightly squish it in? Do I put in as much as I can? Etc? Is there something really obvious that I might have not thought about?

In addition, I have observed that after making the Espresso, sometimes the coffee grounds are quite wet and sometimes they are almost totally dry (and sometimes they are inbetween). Why is this?

Your help is, as always, most appreciated.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Grrr! Darn video games

Bloomin typical. I take the time to actually play through a video game, right to the very end, for the first time in about a year, and it's a bally cliffhanger. Don't know why I bother. Halo 2: You have annoyed me.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Dreams in Disguise

This is quite disturbing. Don't read on unless you want to be disturbed.

Last night, I had a dream. A dream about the giant alien robots that you and I know as Transformers. We were in the jungle, and I'd just had a moment with a girl before she had to leave (but to where?!). Then a load of huge robots turn up and start trashing things. For some reason, whilst the Autobots were all roughly human size, the nasty Decepticons were all huge buggers, towering over the treetops.

Later on, the Decepticons built a barracks. I'm not sure why. And I forget the point of the whole thing. There was some kind of definite narrative thread though.

I'm only telling you this because I know you won't hold it against me. Sleep well.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A dull post about shopping

If you spoke to me this evening, then you may have heard most of this before. Sorry, but to some extent that's unavoidable. I'll try and spice it up with some jokes.

Online supermarket shopping is on the whole great. You don't have to leave the house (great if you have no legs) and they always pack things in lots more plastic bags than you would yourself, which means that you end up in no danger of not having spare bags to put your rubbish in. Today I was using Sainsbury's. Let's see if I liked them or not.

They were supposed to deliver to me between the hours of seven pm and eight pm. If they are outside that time, I get a ten pound voucher to use on my next shop. At around six thirty, a nice man phoned me up to tell me that the van with my order in had packed up, broken and kaputted somewhere on a road. So they were unlikely to be on time. A bit annoying this, as the order contained my dinner for the evening and I was hungry. But at least they'd let me know what was going on.

Are you bored of this yet?

As it got towards nine, I was getting more hungry so decided to do something which I don't do often which is order from Dominos on the internet (just like doing it on the phone, but you don't need to dig out a menu and speak to a real person). They were doing any pizza, any size, £9.99. This of course means you have to order the largest possible size (which is called "large"). Even if you're on your own and don't want a large one. So I ordered a large one. The flavour is unimportant to this story.

As a small aside, they now let you pay online too, with a credit card. This is a bad thing because it means you can order pizza even if you have no cash in the house. The only excuse I sometimes have for not ordering in pizza is taken away from me. End of aside.

So I onlined in my order, and it arrived a bit later. I ate a good proportion of it, but not all of it, and felt a bit full. Darn large pizzas. Then eventually my shopping arrived too. And I got my ten pound voucher.

So, since I was not planning on going out tonight, essentially what has happened is thst Mr Sainsbury has delivered my shopping to me at my flat and bought me a free large pizza for my tea to boot. Plus I got lots of new plastic bags. It is hard to feel too let down by this.

Since we're back on the subject of plastic bags - I had one bag this evening which contained one pint of milk and nothing else. That is not efficient packing.

That is all I have to say about this exciting online shopping story. I hope you've enjoyed it. I think I forgot the jokes I promised. Sorry. Please call again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Perhaps around ten years ago there was a band called Pele, who had quite a few great songs - Megalomaina and Fat Black Heart spring to mind. Then they went away, I got older and they were consigned to the dustbin of rock history.

Last year (or maybe the one before?), I was listening to the late, lamented, John Peel and he played a fantastic track from a band called Amsterdam called Does this train stop on Merseyside. Upon investigating this band, it transpired that their lead singer was none other than the chap who used to be the singer in Pele. Cool! thinks I.

So some more time passes, and eventually Amsterdam (from Liverpool rather than Dutchland) come here to York to play Fibbers. And they're great. Upbeat poppy-rock songs and a small but enthusiastic crowd. When they played the song I remembered from Peel (which they dedicated to the man himself), it near brought tears to my eyes, as I had forgotten where it was I'd originally heard the band.

A strange thing: Of all the songs they played tonight, by far the weakest seemed to be their first proper single that's out on Monday. Go figure.

A decent night then. Though the first band on were perhaps one of the worst bands I've ever seen.

I believe Amsterdam are playing in Glasgow tomorrow (Thursday) night. If any of you happen to be in the area then why not risk a couple of quid and check them out? You might just have a good time.

Wouldn't this be cool...

Anyone with an iPod probably enjoys listening to it on random from time to time, or maybe even all the time. If nothing else, it removes all that worry that having to actually choose tracks causes. But even a top of the range 60Gb version only holds around 15000 songs. This is quite a lot less that the million (ish) available from the iTunes music store. I had an idea.

To download a tune normally costs 79p. Wouldn't it be cool, if for say 20p, you could get iTunes to download you a completely random song? The odds of it being one you already own are pretty low, probably a lot less than 1% for most people. You'd have no idea what you were going to get - rock, hip-hop, jazz, opera, jazz-hip-hop-rock-opera, anything!

It'd be like putting your money into one of those little toy dispensers where you get a little toy in a plastic ball. But with tunes.

And maybe every thousandth random download could be special - a whole album or something.

Apple, if you're listening, you know this is a great idea. Feel free to implement it and maybe give me 1p from each random download. Sound cool? Apple? Hello???

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Olympic Bid, 2012 (*)

It's a shame that only cities are allowed to make bids to hold the olympics. Individuals should be allowed to make bids too. I have every reason to believe that I, for example, could hold the 2012 Olympic games in my flat, here in York. The sporting facilities I have here are first class, world class, top class and the envy of all my neighbours. And their neighbours too.

It would be just as good here as say, London. Let's consider the facts:

1. Transport in London is a right pain. The roads are congested and the Underground system is busy enough at the moment as it is. Imagine how much worse things would be with the Olympics going on! My flat on the other hand is normally devoid of all traffic. The transport system is highly efficient - for example, to get from the living room to the bedroom, you open a door, go down the hallway, open another door and you're there. And you don't even have to pay! It's the easiest commute in the world.

2. After you've been to see sport in London, you may want to go for a drink. But how busy are the bars? Madness! You can queue for hours just to get a pint. In my flat this will not be a problem. Simply enter the kitchen, grab a beer from the fridge and then sit around and relax in a comfortable atmosphere with good music and good company (ie me). You are also guaranteed to not receive your change on a little metal plate. You may not even have to pay if I like you!

3. Normally TV coverage costs millions of pounds for the TV companies to set up and run. All that expense of cameramen, TV rights, vans and satellites. None of that would be an issue here! I am willing to take a couple of days off work and film everything on my digital camera. I can then download it to the laptop, and send it all over the world, instantly, on the InterWeb! Yes, I would do this for the world!

And that's just for starters. But I know what you're thinking. You're sold that I can offer the transport and the hospitality, but what are my sporting facilities like? They're great! Here's what I can offer:

Swimming: My bath is nearly a metre and a half long, and can be filled to a depth of nearly 18 inches. This compares well to most so called "Olympic Size" swimming pools. I can also offer warmer water than most other pools, though I would obviously do an "elbow test" before allowing athletes to enter the water. Safety first!

Athletics: The ideal place for most of the events will be the living room. The many square feet of space available will be fine for any of the standard events (eg 100m, Javelin or Triple Jump). There will be two exceptions here: the Marathon will likely need to extend into the hallway, due to the exceptional length of this race, and the Triathalon will need to make use of the swimming facilities in either the bathroom or the kitchen (if the bathroom is in use).

Gymnastics: The obvious location for this is the bedroom - the bed will make an excellent soft thing to land on, should one of the short, weirdly stunted, gymnasts fall to the floor in error. I think it would be possible to hang Rings from the ceiling, and a Horse could be installed by the wardrobe. The wardrobe itself would make an excellent spectator area, though I may have to clear out some boxes first.

Team Based Events Like Football: In the car park, obviously.

There are a lot of other events at the Olympics, but I hope that this gives an indication of how I could easily fit in most of the main events. I'm sure that some of the other locals might be persuaded to lend the use of their hallways too if required. I will say though, that if I'm honest, I haven't worked out where I'd hold the horse events.

The final thing I have to offer is a fine Olympic Village. I envisage that this could be set up in my spare room for minimal expense. And if the athletes asked nicely, I would even be willing to turn on the heating.

So I hope I've convinced you of my worth and ability in this matter. If you'd like to support my bid, then please email that Olympic Committee thing. Though I couldn't find their email address. It's like they're avoiding me...

* Please note that this bid is subject to me being allowed to shrink all the athletes to a tiny size using some equipment from the film Inner Space that I bought on eBay. It won't hurt them much.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Hugh Grant and Les Dennis

This evening I've been out to York's Grand Opera House. But not for Opera! No! For Comedy. Punt & Dennis were doing some stand up (and some sit down). If you don't know them, they are on Radio 2 and Radio 4 quite a lot with various shows. If this doesn't help you, a colleague at work described them today as "The two guys that used to make Jaspar Carrot look funny", which I don't think was meant as a compliment. But they were entertaining enough. And Hugh Dennis may be the funniest comedian with the surname "Dennis" currently working in the UK, beating Les Dennis into the proverbial cocked hat.

It occured to me during the interval that I was in a bar. And that the bar was within the city walls and so should maybe count towards Challenge #8: PUB. But that way madness lies. I'd end up having to include every theatre, every hotel and every licensed public toilet in the city. Best keep things under control. I collected a photo anyway, just in case.


I've set up a collection of these pub photos on Flickr. You can even view them as a slide show. Imagine how exciting it will be when there are over seventy of them!

A late one...

I think I was supposed to have gone to bed a while ago. But I didn't, so here I am.

Blogging. It's a strsnge thing. I've been here over a year now, posting every day, apart from a few times when I've been away from computers, and a couple of times when I cheated and lied about the day (sshhhh!). A year isn't a very long time, but it's strange how a blog can become so much an integral part of your life.

I think it's good to have that little bit of discipline that forces me to be mildly creative every day. Or sometimes not creative at all. Some questions that I can't answer:

Would I do this if nobody read it?
Is it all some odd bizarre attention seeking stunt?
Is the me that writes here the real me?
Is there a real me?
Should I try and avoid these late night slightly drunk posts?

If those questions can be answered, I'm not the one to do it.

I heard a good joke this afternoon. Sadly it's not really repeatable.

Am I still here? Yep. Still typing.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Now it's on record...

Well, a couple of days ago I wrote a tribute to the now defunct Busted. This evening, in a fit of boredom, I recorded it (very quickly) with actual guitars and singing. If you'd like to hear it, email me and I'll send you a copy.

I'm especially proud of the guitar solo where I just kind of hit any strings I can find.

I've only gone and bought a record label...

I think it might be time to make a confession. So far I've not mentioned this here, but everthing has now gone live and I think I can talk about things without causing a jinxy effect.

I've just helped found a record label.

Yes, an actual record label, to get music made and recorded and out there. It's a little mad. The venture has been initiated by Four Day Hombre, a rather fantastic Leeds based band, and we signed them to the label yesterday afternoon. Then we drank some champagne and went out and got a little sloshed. Which given that it's not everyday you either sign a band, or are in a band being signed, is pretty acceptable.

I was out drinking with an actual real signed band. Cool!

Today, they were playing an afternoon gig out in Harrogate, so I took the train over and turned up. Very small venue - the Blues Bar. But it was packed out and here's the proof:

Blues Bar - FDH

Afterwards, they let me pretend to be a roady and help them carry their stuff out to the van. It's incredible how much equipment they actually have... I have no idea what most of it does. I can recognise guitars and drums, but there's a lot of random boxed nonsensed that seems to be very important.

And finally, Simon Hombre let me have my photo taken with him, like a proper groupy:


I think you can see how happy he was to do this.

A special hello goes out to everyone I've met over the last couple of days. We are making a difference :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Punkle me

Last night was a trip to Fibbers to seem some Germans. More of them later. Sixty6 were first on. I saw them many times last year, but this was, by quite a long way, the best performance I've seen them give. It was like someone had stuck a rocket up them. Very good. But... please, please stop introducing Sometimes as your "pop song". It's starting to get annoying.

The on to Wasted. I don't know anything about them, but they sounded very like Green Day. If you closed your eyes... There was one big difference though. The singer was a big chap - big to the extent that he made those around him look small. It was like looking at Willy Wonka surrounded by munchkins, or Gandalf walking through The Shire. Except he looked nothing like Messers Wonka or Dalf.

Headlining tonight, were The Punkles. A band of Germans whose set is entirely comprised of Beatles songs in the style of Punk. Here they are:

The Punkles

There is no possible way in the world that you could not be entertained by this.

Friday, January 14, 2005

My small tribute to Busted

The world mourned today upon hearing the news that top UK rock band, Busted were to split up. I mourned also, and was moved to write the following song - my tribute to their majestic style, in their majestic style. The tune is a standard Busted one. Possibly a cross between Thunderbirds Are Go and Crashed The Wedding. But they all sound the same, so it doesn't really matter which one. Lyrically it may actually be slightly better than them, but you can judge that yourself.

Busted Are Dusted

Verse 1
Busted were the greatest band,
To ever walk upon this land,
And sing songs with their own fantastic voices.
They rode around in big fast cars,
And even played their own guitars,
And with their chords they had just the three choices.

Pre Chorus
But, today, total dismay,
The boys have said they'll go away,
And no more songs to us they'll play,
There's just one thing that's left to say:

The pop charts without Busted,
Will be like pie without the custard,
Or roast beef without the mustard,
It's so unfair, I'm totally gutted.
We'll all miss their spiky hai-air,
And their songs about underwear,
How'll we cope with this despai-air,
At my posters I will stare-are.

Verse 2
Charlie's focused on Fightstar,
In that band, he is the main star,
And Matt and James no longer share the li-imelight.
If next time they're over France,
They once again do mess their pants,
The air hostess will kick their asses off the fli-ight.

Pre Chorus
But, today, total dismay,
The boys have said they'll go away,
And no more songs to us they'll play,
There's just one thing that's left to say:

The pop charts without Busted,
Will be like pie without the custard,
Or roast beef without the mustard,
It's so unfair, I'm totally gutted.
We'll all miss their spiky hai-air,
And their songs about underwear,
How'll we cope with this despai-air,
At my posters I will stare-are.

Guitar Solo

Repeat Chorus to fade, possibly with some slight changes that I can't be arsed to write

Bye Bye Busted!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A little blue man

It's strange how in the right light, and from the right angle, the lump of blu-tac on top of your monitor can look just like a little man...


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Beware the Banana

Bananas are an evil fruit. They smell nasty, they taste nasty, they look ridiculous.

The producers of TV programmes clearly understand how nasty a banana is. On programmes like Survivor, contestants are regularly forced to eat horrible insects and maggots and other "food" that a sane person would not normally consider eating. But they've never been forced to eat... a banana. They know that this would just be going too far. The public would not stomach it.

Nothing ruins a fruit salad more than banana.

They are also grossly overrated in the comedy stakes. For years, people have been slipping on banana skins and falling over hilariously. Everyone loves to see somebody slip on banana skin. Except it's all a big lie. It's a conspiracy. Nobody in real life has ever encountered a lone banana skin on the floor, stepped on it and gone flying. It just doesn't happen.

But what you can say about banana skins, is that with a few important exceptions (such as dead birds, sulphur factories and phials of pure ammonia), they are the smelliest thing that you'll find in a bin. If some git has eaten a banana and disposed of the wrapper in a bin near you at work, then every time that bin is opened a huge, horrendous whiff will escape and overpower you, causing you to gag, and wretch, and possibly pass out. And then your colleagues have to revive you with smelling salts and it's all quite embarrassing.

Final thought: It's impossible to eat a banana without looking like a monkey.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Challenge #1: LIGHT - Complete!

It's only day 11 of the new year, and I've just completed my first challenge, which also happens to be #1.

On Sunday, I bought one lightshade. Yesterday, I bought two lightshades. Today I bought three lightshades. I'm worried I may now be addicted to buying lightshades. This would be a problem, since I now have all the ones I need. I have no more bare bulbs.

It's hard to express how much this has pleased me. I feel like I've actually achieved something. I've made the world a marginally better place. Very marginally.

Installing a lightshade proved easier than I anticipated. It's one of those things I don't think I've ever done before, so I was unsure whether I'd manage. But I did manage, it was easy. Mainly because I didn't do anything stupid like buy shades that would require me to do hard electrical things with wires. I'd probably have killed myself by now if I had.

Do you fancy an update on some of the remaining challenges? Do you? Well, it's kind of on the sidebar somwhere.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tips for filling in a job application form

I was looking through some graduate CVs today at work, to determine which ones we wanted to invite to interview. I can't really go into specific details, but if you are a graduate, here are 10 general tips if you're writing a CV or filling in an application form:

1. The word "simply" never has an "x" in it. Ever. Similarly, if you have done a mathematics degree, you really should learn to spell "mathematics".

2. It is not impressive if the email address you give is something like or This just makes you look silly. It's not as if it's hard to set up a new one.

3. If you are planning to claim that your greatest achievement is having managed to leave your home town of Preston, or Swindon, or Scunthorpe or wherever else, I suggest you thing of a better achievement. Lie if you have to.

4. When filling in the section on previous jobs, I really don't give a s**t about a job you had 6 years ago for four days. Even if you were Prime Minister.

5. If English is not your first language, it's ok to get someone else to check over what you've written. Really, it is. Then you'll avoid sentences like "I really like company yes. I am most suitable for position because I suit the skills need. My experience is back not from the previous jobs - I don't know the jelly!". Having said that, a lot of the applicants who don't have English as a first language are able to write much more coherently than some of those who do.

6. If you are planning to use a sentence such as "I have excellent communication skills.", then it looks really, really stupid if you have a spelling or grammatical error in that sentence. I know I sometimes make mistakes, but I already have a job.

7. If you are applying for a job as an actuary, LEARN HOW TO USE THE WORD "ACTUARY". It is not correct to state that you are "looking for a job in actuary", or you "want to be actuary". This is pretty basic, and really makes you look like you have done NO research if you get it wrong.

8. If you're going to list the areas covered by your degree, please do not go into detail. You're wasting your time and you're wasting my time. I do not need to know your entire lecture schedule and the marks you've had for every assignment.

9. Pretend on your application form that you are a young, single, female, whether you are or not. Even if you are a 40 year old fat man, just pretend. It won't actually improve your chances though. It's just funny.

10. Apply for a job with us about seven or eight years ago. It was much easier to get in then. Trust me on this one.

I'm doing this to help you. Read and Learn. And be grateful it's all done electronically so I don't have to see your no doubt ludicrous handwriting.

Smiles, everyone.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Lashings of ginger beer

I was in the supermarket earlier, and I bought myself a bottle of ginger beer. Not your cheap rubbish fizzy ginger beer that's bazically, ginger-ade, but proper brewed stuff made my the fantastic Fentimans. I never used to like ginger beer much, as I'm not a huge fan of ginger, but I'm currently drinking quite a lot of it. I'm nearly at the point where I actually enjoy it rather than just thinking "Euurggh".

The young chap working on the checkout looked to be approximately 10 years old - I guess his real age may have been higher, but he was certainly under 18 for reasons which will become clear. He scanned my items through, one by one until he reached the ginger beer and at this point he became slightly confused. U18s are allowed to sell alcohol to people in the supermarket, but they need to get a supervisor to ok it (and verify that I look over 18, which I do).

The look of confusion on his face made me suspect that he may not have come across ginger beer before, and was unaware that it is a soft drink that you could give to children such as the Famous Five. They pretty much lived off the stuff, at least when they were out having an adventure.

So the lad asked me "Is this alcoholic?". What I should have said in reply, to save time, was "No! It's fine! Stick it through, young master!" and that would have been the end of it. But, what I actually said was "It's got a little bit of alcohol in it - 0.5%". This is true - the brewing process used does cause it to have a slight (but pretty negligible) alcohol content. He didn't appear to be understand, possibly because I'd used the word "percent", so he repeated the question, and I repeated my answer. He still looked a little confused, so he rang his little bell to get a supervisor over, just in case.

She duly came over, and looked at the bottle of ginger beer, and then appeared to be confused herself as to why this was being queried. so she nodded it through. And that was that. I paid and left.

The moral of this slightly weak story is: Sometimes you can save a little time by telling white lies to supermarket checkout assistants.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

I may be off my dot

This is the earliest I've been up on a Saturday morning for a looooong time - I left the bed at 7am. The outside world isn't hugely tempting me into it, since there appears to be some rather heavy wind, and possibly rain too.

I might have a... coffee!

Yes, that is now an option that I can take. As I've said before, I stopped the old coffee for the duration of 2004, and had my first cup in over a year on the 2nd this year. Since then, I've had a few cups, but nowhere near as many as I would have done before my break. When it comes down to it, I prefer the taste of tea (and fruit tea).

Drinking coffee seems to give me more of a buzz than it used to. I think I used to drink so much that I just became immune to the effects. I was always seeking that stronger high. First filter coffee. Then I'd move onto Espressos. Then Double Espressos. Then pure beans. Then heroin and cocaine (in a mix with water, no milk or sugar).

Now, having kicked the habit, I think I can manage things better. Limit my coffee. Savour it. Wish it hadn't given me a headache.

And avoid instant coffee wherever possible, due to its innate rubbishness.

The thing that really surprised me about giving up coffee was how easy it was. One day I drank loads, the next I just... stopped. Just like that. The only times it was particularly (though not hugely) hard was in restaurants after meals when everyone else had coffees or liqueur coffees. Sometimes I'd join in by just having a straight whisky. Actually, I think I may have had the better deal there.

The disappointing thing was that I never at any time felt actually better for not drinking coffee. I didn't start to sleep better and there were no other noticeable good effects. Except now I notice bad effects when I do drink it. Darn.

I'm glad I have started again though, because I was fed up of having to explain to people why I wasn't drinking coffee. When you do something for no good reason, other than to see if you can, people can look at you funny.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Twelfth Day

Today marks the twelfth day of Christmas, and yet again, my True Love has let me down. I expectantly opened my curtains and looked outside this morning, and what do I see? Sod all. I'd forgotten to open the blinds.

So I expectantly opened the blinds and looked outside, and what do I see? Still sod all. Where I expect to see pipers, drummers, geese and French maids, all I see are some cars and an office supplies shop. Neither of which are meant as presents for me.

"Where's my partridge, you BITCH?" I shouted. "I want my FUCKING LEAPING LORDS!". But it was to no use, she couldn't hear me.

And you know why she couldn't hear me? Was it

a) She was still locked in the trunk in the wardrobe? (go to page 28)
b) I'd lopped off her ears with a carving knife last Christmas? (go to page 103)
c) She is purely a pigment of my eye-magination? (go to page 323)
d) She lives in the next village and I don't really love her but I like to stalk her sometimes. She likes going down the market on a Thursday morning. I watch her buy vegetables and honey... ? (go to page 4)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Message for Mr Cadbury

Now here's a thought.

To the makers of Cadburys' Roses (Um.. I guess that's Cadburys?). I quite enjoy your boxed and tinned chocolates. It's lovely that each one is individually wrapped in a different wrapper.

So why not write the name of each chocolate on the wrapper? They wouldn't cost any more to print, and it would be so much easier to work out which chocolate is which. No silly losable bit of cardboard needed anymore for identification. Good idea, yes?

And while you're at it, stop making so many caramel ones. They're rank.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Books Read in 2004

Time to tidy the sidebar a little. For the record, here are the books I read in 2004. I had aimed to get through 24. I managed 25.

Selected Poems - Simon Armitage
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Fugitives and Refugees - Chuck Palahniuk
Newton's Wake - Ken Macleod
The System of the World - Neal Stephenson
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The War of the Flowers - Tad Williams
The Witches of Chiswick - Robert Rankin
The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Endymion - Dan Simmons
Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
Dude, where's my country? - Michael Moore
The Confusion - Neal Stephenson
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
The Fall Of Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Absolution Gap - Alastair Reynolds
Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days - Alastair Reynolds
Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Choke - Chuck Palahniuk
Soul Made Flesh - Carl Zimmer
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson

Final List of Challenges For 2005

After some deliberation, here are the final 12 challenges I intend to undertake, with some additional information.

Challenge #1: LIGHT:
Currently there are 6 bare bulbs in my flat. I've been meaning to put lightshades on them for years, but have never got round to it. It's about time I sorted this out. I'll have to think about colours... and shapes...

Challenge #2: BED:
My flat has two bedrooms. The main bedroom is where I sleep and has a bed and wardrobes and other bedroomy type things. My second bedroom is where I have dumped loads of old books, CDs, videos and other assorted rubbish. I'm going to make an effort to make it tidier, get rid of some stuff and get a bed or futon in there. This will make my parents happy, but will hopefully not encourage them to come and stay too often :-)

Challenge #3: DATE:
Potentially a tricky one... the challenge is to find a girl and go on an actual Date with her. For dinner, for a film, or for any of the other things that two people can do on a Date. The first part of this challenge will involve finding a suitable girl...

Challenge #4: COUNTRY:
Here I have to visit at least one country that I've never been to before. Should actually be quite easy if I go on holiday, which I fully intend to do. But there might be other shorter opportunities too.

Challenge #5: PROMOTE:
In the old days, I'd have qualified as an actuary and then been pretty much automatically promoted after two or three years. This doesn't seem to happen so much now, so in which case I will have to be more proactive in looking for opportunities. Or it might just happpen on its own in which case this challenge is a gimmee.

Challenge #6: SKILL:
My task here is simply to learn a new skill to a minimum level of competence. Not really sure what this is going to be, but it's one that I should start sooner rather than later to give me sufficient time to get ok at it.

Challenge #7: RADIO:
A friend of mine recently won a pile of albums from Dermot O'Leary's Saturday afternoon Radio 2 show. This made me think... I can do that too! My challenge is actually slightly easier than winning something though. All I have to do is get my name read out on any national radio station. If I happen to win something at the same time, then that's a bonus.

Challenge #8: PUB:
This is quite a fun challenge. There are about 50-70 pubs within the city walls of York. I intend to obtain photos of me having a drink in every single one of them during the course of the year. This is one that shouldn't be too hard unless I leave it until the last minute: One to two pubs a week is more than achievable. 50 in one week is a little more ambitious. There is a small task to do first, and that's get a list of all the relevant establishments so that I can tick off places I've been to. I think there is one from the last pub treasure hunt that should be an adequate starting point.

Challenge #9: COOK:
I'm not too bad at cooking if I can be arsed to do it, but generally I'm too lazy and easily tempted by pizza. Since I have Resolved to cook more this year, then it makes sense to take it to the next step and cook for someone else too. But not just anybody else, no, that would be too easy. It has to be somebody that as of the start of 2005, I had not met. This might be easier if Challenge #3: DATE goes well. I think there's an implicit condition that if I give someone food poisoning then that attempt at the challenge is failed.

Challenge #10: SOBER:
This is quite an easy one, despite what certain of you may think. Seven consecutive days with no alcohol at all.

Challenge #11: EBAY
I've never used eBay to buy or sell anything. But I do have a lot of old stuff I don't want - old CDs, DVDs, other random junk. A lot of it is the rubbish cluttering my second bedroom and hindering Challenge #2: BED. So I intend to start auctioning off some of it. This challenge is to make a £200 profit before the end of the year from various sales. I have absolutely no idea whether this will be easy or hard.

Challenge #12: SONGS
My final challenge for the year is music related. In 2004 I had intended to write a pile of songs. For one reason and another, I only managed one and a half. In 2005, I will write and record on the laptop 10 whole songs. One of them has to be upbeat.

I'll put a list of the challenges in the sidebar to be ticked off as I complete them. One nice thing, is that these potentially give me at least 12 easy posts later in the year! Good luck to me!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year Pics

Thought I'd post up a couple of photos from New Year's Eve. It's nice to have a bit of colour occasionally.

First: Singing Auld Lang Syne outside my flat in the car park at midnight. I'd actually done an element of planning and printed out some song sheets.

Auld Lang Syne

Second: The Boys Team in the middle of losing at SingStar. The other three really let the team down.

SingStar Party

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A resolution

It's 2005. I can tell this by my tiredness.

For the whole of 2004 (plus a couple of days at the end of 2003) I have not been drinking any coffee. It wasn't actually a new year's resolution as such, it just happened to coincide with the end of the year.

In that time, I have not drunk well over a thousand cups of coffee.

Now I think I will start on coffee again. It is quite tasty, after all, and it's a bit silly to deprive yourself of something for only the slightest of reasons. I don't really fancy one today though. Maybe tomorrow.

I am going to make an actual Resolution this year, and my writing it here maybe I'll be more committed to it than normal. Here it is, in bold capital letters to make it look important:


This shouldn't be too hard since More than slightly zero is not a large amount. I know targets should be SMART, but this isn't a target, it's a resolution and different rules apply.

Welcome... to a new number

Happy New Year everybody!

Is it wrong to get out of bed at four in the afternoon? It seems a bit late to me. I don't really have the energy to do anything.

I should start the year on a positive note though...

Alternatively, sod that :-) I had a party last night, and I have lots of cleaning up to do. Unfortunately, it's absolutely pissing it down with rain outside, and that's where my bins are. I am going to get wet.

New things that I own after last night (or at least temporarily have):
1. A car
2. A girl's scarf
3. 2 chairs
4. Some chocolates
5. 2 Baking trays
6. A box of wine glasses
7. Some Tupperware
8. A Barbie badge
9. Another scarf
10. A pad of paper from the game Cranium

On a down side, IT'S STILL PISSING OUTSIDE. And it's dark too. I won't see daylight today.