Thursday, March 30, 2006


I ate lunch at a restuarant called "Ate O'clock" today. I thought it would be hilarious to tell someone that you were going to phone the speaking clock and then phone this restaurant instead and pass the phone across. Oh the confusion and hilarity that could ensue. Just imagine. They'd think it was eight o'clock when in reality it might only be half past six!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Payment Arrears

I've been bad. I haven't paid the management charges on my flat this year. I was sure I set up a standing order at the start of the year, but all the evidence says I didn't. And no money has left my account either. Anyway, I've sorted it all out now. No harm done. At least it's not like I'm a director of the management company who should be setting a good example or anything like that. *ahem*

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Each morning when I wake up and look out of my bedroom window, there is at least one large lorry parked just outside on the main road. They block my view of the day's weather. Later, when I leave for work, they are gone. I have never seen one of them arrive or leave. Just there or not there. I am guessing that they are to do with some nearby building works, but I can't prove this. It might just be my upstairs neighbours hanging a picture of a lorry out of their window every morning. Perhaps they have such a picture and it gets wet each night and needs drying out. Perhaps they have a lorry duvet, an incontinence problem and a desire to confuse me.

Wouldn't be the first time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

We could be diving for pearls

I got my annual performance bonus today (because I perform upon demand, like a trained seal). I had all sorts of plans as to what to spend it on: new computers, audiovisual equipment, rock bands, maybe a crack house in the country. But it's all gone a bit wrong.

When I had my appraisal my boss asked me to sign the completed form and also tick a box. I was a bit pissed at the time and so couldn't be bothered to read what it said by the box. What it said was that by ticking the box, I was consenting to opt in to the company's brand spanking new bonus scheme. I'd be a trailblazer! A trendsetter! A trainspotter! (Not the last one). Only today did I find out the full details of this new scheme.

Rather than being paid in English cash, I have instead been paid in land. Very wet land. The wettest land you can get. I've been awarded 7 hectares of the seabed, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. I'm told it's about two hundred miles west of Kilarney and that it's very nice at this time of the year.

Apparently this sort of scheme is all the rage these days and my company is just the latest in a long line of Blue Chips to do this. Apparently it can be very lucrative as that part of the ocean is full of oysters. Apparently there's a bull market for pearls at the moment. Apparently I'll be raking it in. There might even be sunken pirate ships, full of lost bullion! You never know.

All I have to do is buy a deep sea diving bathysphere and I'm away. But I have no money! All I have is my bonus which is somewhat inaccessible. If I had a couple of thousand quid, I could buy a bathysphere, descend into the deep dark depths, harvest the pearls, oysters and lost bullion, rise to the light once more and then hit Selby market on a Wednesday afternoon where I'll be able to offload all the stuff at a vast profit. It's nearly foolproof, apart from the bit which went "If I had a couple of thousand quid".

And this, gentle reader, is where you come in.

I'm looking for investment partners to help me claim my bonus. Just send me a few grand into my bank accy (details available on request) and I'll sort out the diving equipment, we'll hit the ocean at the weekend and by the following weekend you'll be repaid double what you gave me. It's a hell of an offer, never to be repeated (unless I'm daft enough to tick the same box next year).

Just give it a little thought is all I ask.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Daylight Running

I took advantage of the increased amount of afternoon delight, sorry, daylight to run in new places today. The sorts of places that don't have street lighting and hence are slightly inaccessible in the dark unless you run with a miner's helmet upon your head.

This today, meant a 10km run up Bishopthorpe Road, past the racecourse, along the back of said racecourse and then back past Tesco into town. I've never travelled to that Tesco entirely on foot before. I was very glad that I had already visited a supermarket earlier in the day and hence did not need to run the final couple of miles holding carrier bags full of wine.

My time for the (ever so slightly more than) 10km was one hour and five minutes which I was reasonably happy with. It also means I can set myself a new mini target of doing 10km in under an hour. I like targets.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I did these things! Me, it was me!

Here is a list of 10 things I have done today, to prove to you that I am one of the most exciting and interesting people in the world.

1. I read a newspaper (Guardian)
2. I ate a sandwich (roast beef and red onion)
3. I watched an episode of 24 (5.14)
4. I read 3 chapters of a book (The Lightstone)
5. I played Shadow Of The Colossus on PS2 (killed 2 monsters)
6. I spoke to my sister on the phone (she's moving)
7. I ate a pizza (pepperoni, tandoori chicken and jalapenos)
8. I watched an episode of Lost (2.16)
9. I drank a single bottle of beer (Kronenburg 330ml)
10. I contemplated cleaning (I didn't)

They're not in order.

Just imagine the fun and excitement I might have in the remaining 3 hours!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No more darkness

I went running this evening and I realised that it would be the last time for about six months that I'll have to go out in the dark. Since the clocks are due to go back/forward/something at the weekend, from Sunday onwards it should be daylight at any time I'm likely to want to go out. Having never experienced this before, I'm not sure whether I'll like it or not. It'll probably get warmer and I'll have to wear less clothes too.

Total miles run so far this year is 115. This puts me just on target for the 500. I'd hoped to be a bit ahead by this point (indeed, I was before I went skiing) but as long as I don't actually get behind schedule I won't be too unhappy.

I don't think I entirely realised what I was committing myself to when I started this. It's really quite hard sometimes to find the time to go out three (or even two!) times a week. It will likely get even harder over the summer as the temptation to sit outside drinking lager in beer gardens grows ever larger. I shall have to be strong.

Willpower: yes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm back again. Did you miss me?

Ok, it didn't rain in Norwich. I was wrong. I did, however, end up spending excessive amounts of time in Peterborough station, whilst travelling in both directions. Nobody should be made to spend time there. It's cruel and unusual.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Not exactly a holiday

Tomorrow evening I have to go to Norwich. I will then stay in Norwich for a day and come home in the evening.

I don't think I really want to go though. It will probably just rain again.

Mind you, it'll probably rain here in York too.

It's a bit annoying because I effectively lose two whole evenings, one of which I could use for running and the other I could use for dancing. Instead I get to sit on a train one evening and then sit on another train the next evening.

Really not that exciting.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lessons in Pop

Listening to the radio earlier, I noticed that Girls Aloud seem to have a bit of a school lessons thing going on. Their current album, Chemistry features the singles Biology and Whole Lotta History. That's three subjects down straight away. I thought I'd help them out and finish a top 10 of Pop school subjects:

1. When a child is born - Johnny Maths
2. American English - Idlewild
3. Physics-al - Olivia Isaac-Newton John
4. Losing my Religious Studies - REM
5. Computer (Studies) World - Kraft(wood)-werk
6. French Kissing in the USA - Debbie Harry
7. Freak Show and Tell - Grass-Show and Tell
8. History - The Verve
9. BrEconomics Beacons - Supergrass
10. Politiks - Coldplay

Maybe cover versions of these could form the entirety of the next Girls Aloud album.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Authentic Irish Hat

It was St Patrick's Day in England yesterday. As normal, the pubs were giving away free crap when you buy Guinness. We got a lovely hat, as modelled here by Chris:


See how happy he is with his fine headwear? I really felt like I was in Ireland where everyone dresses that way.

Guinness is nice though. And good for you too.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Star Turn

I went to the Golden Lion last night (in a relatively unplanned way) to see Drew playing his guitar in their "Turn of the Year" competition. Four acts on, and all had got friends down to vote for them at the end. I think there may have been some normal voters there too, to be swayed by the actual quality of the music rather than pure loyalty.

Drew won the audience's vote, but not the judges' vote. I think this means he still gets through to the next round and his dream of being "Turn of the Year" is still alive. I'm not sure whether or not he really does dream of this or not. I'd like to think he does. When he met people he'd be able to say "Hi, I'm Drew. Believe it or not, I was Turn of the Year in 2006" and they'd be impressed by that fine award.

His main problem at the moment is being told by people that they really liked the cover versions that he's played. Recently for example, someone particularly liked his Johnny Cash number. I, myself told him a few months ago that I enjoyed the Boo Hewardine song that he played. Last night a girl I was with said she very much appreciated the two covers he played in the middle of the set.

The only problem is that not one of these have actually been covers - they're all originals. He's now not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm not sure either but I think it's quite funny.

One of the other turns did a cover of Sleazy Bed Track by The Bluetones. That definitely was a cover. It was good, but not as good as the orignal.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wombles: Real or Made-Up? Discuss...

I spent some time today explaining to a colleague that the Wombles (of Wimbledon Common), were not based on any real life animal called a womble, but were in fact just... Wombles.

I thought most people knew this. I don't recall ever seeing David Attenborough ever commentating on some real natural wombles in nature, mating, fighting and hibernating (and possibly tidying their local area). It is hard to mistake the TV programme, The Wombles, for a natural history programme because it is narrated by Bernard Cribbens and not David Attenborough. That should be a dead giveaway.

It was, however, an entertaining conversation. I laughed much and long. I'm not sure I convinced her 100% though that there are no real wombles out in the wild.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

FDH - Live! At Track! Singing and Signing!

A good excuse to leave work a little early today: Live music at the local independent record shop, followed by a signing session.

FDH - Track Records.jpg

Not the biggest venue for a gig ever, though I think I have been in smaller ones...

Today started off very snowy. As I walked to work I was cursing myself for having forgotten that I now owned ski-clothes which would have been much more sensible to wear than the things I had put on. By the time I arrived I was covered in snow and must have looked like the very image of the abominable snowman. And it was all settling on the ground too.

Thankfully by lunchtime, a combination of mild warrmth and a bit of rain had melted it all away. The streets were safe to walk on once more. No snow and no abominables. Huzzah!

Monday, March 13, 2006

And on the 13th of the month...

A long time ago, back in early 2005, I helped start a record label (financially if not creatively). Alamo Music was set up to initially record and get out to market, Four Day Hombre's debut album. Today, said album, Experiments in Living finally hit the shops. Quite exciting, really.

There's an article on the BBC website which is quite nice, even if it does mistakenly claim that we've bought shares in the band as opposed to the label. Oh well, the rest of the article seems reasonably accurate.

I've now heard the album all the way through for the first time and it's great. I realise I am somewhat biased here, but it is great all the same.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Currry Menu

On Friday night I went to a new curry house that's opened up in town. I think it might be called Spice Club. It has a menu with some fairly ridiculous (and unhelpful) descriptions of the food:

Spice Club Menu

My favourites are:

"Handi Lamb or Chicken
Relatively sophisticated dish developed for the Mongul emperors. Easy young meat such as calf or spring chicken always used for this dish, so its easy to break with your fingers avoiding the need of cutlery. Its knack of course aided greatly by using chapptti nan as a type of cutlery to carry it in your mouth. The once all powerful Shah of Asia said that eating with knife and fork was like making love through an interpreter."

"Nepalese Style Lamb or Chicken
Jinnah's frustration echo from around the world race religion age gender we are all united in our intention to eat well. Food can cause havoc with our psyches as well as our bodies, food is fuel we have to eat so it may as well be tasty .A little of what you fancy and lot of what you need is the way to go . So trust the chef."

Note that in neither of these descriptions do they even attempt to start to describe what it might taste like, or even what might be in it. It's either a carefully cultivated piss-take or possiblty just a work of minor genius.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Broken Whiteboard

Our whiteboard at work broke down the other day. An engineer came and he fixed it.

Broken Whiteboard

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rip it up and start again

Few things mark the passing of time more depressingly than the arrival of a new telephone directory at your door. Like birthdays and Christmas, it's an annual event. Unlike those times, there are no parties involved, no meeting up with friends, no food and no drinks.

So all you get is a feeling of "Oh, bugger: Is it that time of year again? I'm sure I got one of these last week".

But last week was actually last year, and... another year gone. And another telephone directory to dispose of.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Crisp-maker Golden Wonder went bust recently and it's become a bit harder to get hold of Nik-Naks. Apparently someone else will start to manufacture them soon, if they haven't already. I don't know the details.

Anyway, two nights ago I dreamt that Nik-Naks had been relaunched, but also redesigned. Rather than being long knobbly crisps, they were now long smooth crisps, rather like a baguette but way tinier. I was dubious at first, but when I tried them they were good. Actually better than the original version.

When I woke, the smoothing of the nik-naks was no more, since dream was all it had been.

Moral: If you eat too many crisps you start to dream about them.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Problems I don't have

Whilst I was away on the skiing, my work colleagues held a bit of a guessing game as to what ailments and afflictions I might return to the office with. Here is their list:

Iced buns
Frozen assets
Fifth metatarsel
Strained love-muscle
Burnt finger (marshmallow toasting)
Sunburnt face, white goggle eyes
Achy breaky heart
Sunburnt finger
Achy Buttocks
Skewered by a (ski) pole
Blisters - mainly feet, but not exclusively
Knobbled knees

They were not able to declare any winner. If only someone had gone for "slightly chapped lips"...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bad Sweets

I brought some sweets back from holiday to take into the office. As normal, I tried to find the most unpleasant ones I could. What I found were some French bon bons which tasted vaguely lemony, and inside had some liquer made from Alpine Herbs.

I had one this morning and it gave me a headache. My friend felt sick. A lot of other people pulled faces.

I did well :-)

It was a more satisfactory outcome than the Cactus Candy I brought back from Arizona. That actually tasted pretty good.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

This is Planet Earth

On TV at the moment is part one of the BBC's big new Natural History programme, Planet Earth. Watching it has made me think of several things.

Firstly, a lot of animals are really stupid and live in daft, inhospitable places: Penguins and polar bears, for example, live in cold, snowy places and not nice warm places like my flat when I have the heating on.

Secondly, despite the programme being named after a Duran Duran song, the BBC have not used that music for the theme tune. They've used some big, important-sounding classical rubbish instead. Maybe the BBC are too tight to pay Simon LeBonBon any royalty fees. I hope that they will at least credit him for providing the title!

And finally, there must be a lot of frustrated natural history narrators at the BBC who are just waiting for David Attenborough to die so that they can have a shot at the big time. I think Attenborough has narrated every nature programme that the BBC has made for the last 50 years. He may even have narrated these programmes before we had television. He could have even been doing them back before we had animals (ie, either a few thousand years ago or many many millions of years ago - choice depending on whether you are a nutter or not).

Perhaps when he does die, it will be at the hands of one of the young potential narrators in waiting. Maybe they'll film him being chased across the tundra and ultimately attacked and killed by his successor. Maybe this film will form the basis of a whole new series (though not, obviously narrated by Attenborough himself). I think this would be a fitting way for him to go. I hope however it won't feature his mating rituals.

Strangely, as I write this, they are actually showing some slow motion shots of the production crew themselves, though sadly they are not being eaten by rivals.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Back from the piste

I have returned from my skiing trip to Meribel in one piece and unharmed. This is good. I have not lost any of my extremities to frostbite or polar bear attack. I was also not forced to rely on my emergency supply of sherbet lemons whilst trapped in a ten day blizzard. So that's all good.

Dressed to ski

I think I enjoyed the skiing itself overall. It was sometimes a bit hard to tell at the time due to it often being both scary and hard work, but in retrospect I think it was ok. I had ski lessons most mornings and found these to be much more useful than the ones I'd had on the Sheffield dry-slope. After the first couple of hours I had got the hang of turning and was able to keep my speed as low as I wanted, which is much more than I was able to do after eight hours in Sheffield!

Over the rest of the week I definitely improved lots (as one would hope!) and was confident enough to go out on my own one afternoon for a couple of hours without feeling I needed someone to look out for me. I also managed to make it to all of my lessons, unlike most of my friends. I did leave the last (four hour!) lesson half way through though due to being tired, aching and wanting to go home.

One way to measure my improving skills over the week is to measure how many small French children I knocked over. On day one and day two, I took out two of them each day - four in total. On the remaining days I managed to avoid knocking any of the little bastards over. This definitely represents an improvement in ski skills though possibly not an improvement in natural justice.

We stayed in a chalet in Meribel at about 1600m above sea level:

Fleur des Alpes

Our chalet hosts, Rachel and Rowan were excellent and cooked me bacon sandwiches nearly every morning. There was also copious free wine (of which the red, at least, was quite drinkable). Thanks guys!

I'll end with some skiing tips for first timers (like me):

1. Lip balm is good. Don't wait until the second to last day to get some.
2. Don't worry about having a hangover. Cold mountain air is a fantastic cure.
3. Falling over doesn't normally hurt you, but it could damage your expensive electronic equipment. Pack things carefully.
4. Wear warm clothes.
5. It's not easy to walk in ski boots. Stairs are even harder to traverse. Plan your routes to avoid stairs.
6. Make sure you have an emergency supply of boiled sweets.

That is all!