King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Friday, January 30

Bits and bobs

Just thought I'd tidy up a few things that wouldn't require a full day by themselves.

First and foremost, BLS sent me a picture of her and Cynthia, which I thought I'd share with you.

I have been working on a PC for someone for nearly 2 weeks. To say it's been a nightmare is an understatement. It had viruses. I took it home, cleaned it up, and returned it. It then started BSDing and bleeping on startup. I took it home again, cleaned the main board, it was ok. I took it back, and it still did it. I got someone to sonically clean the nicotine from the board (the owner's a heavy smoker) and put it back together, and again all seemed well. It then started to do it again. I have now ordered a new board and RAM for the customer. All because I moved the sodding thing!

I have also been working on Macs. Don't let anyone tell you how easy these things are to use. Don't get me wrong, it's a lovely bit of kit. Basically a really high quality 21" flatscreen, with a CD slot in the side and a small white keyboard and mouse. The customer has his own company, and uses Autocad. Autocad, however, doesn't work on a Mac unless you have windows installed as well. I did a search on a few forums (I was on my way there, bdum tish), and the general consensus is don't use a Mac for CAD. This didn't help me, but I did find a program that allows the customer to open the drawings at least and print them.

I have been getting up too early this week. It hasn't been too bad, if it weren't for a couple of things. Firstly, IT'S STILL DARK. This is not natural. Secondly, the cat who sneezed on me this morning just before the alarm went off meant that getting up was a lot easier.

Finally, I'd like to welcome my new readers. You know who you are...

Thursday, January 29

20 things about me

Not much time today, so I thought I'd give you 20 things about me that you might or might not know.
  1. I was born 8 months after the decimal switchover in money in the UK. I have never spent a shilling.
  2. My family is a small one, consisting of my mother, my father, me and BLS. I have 2 aunts and an uncle on my mother's side, and 2 aunts on my father's side. I also have 2 cousins (one of each) on my mother's side, and 2 cousins (both female) on my father's side.
  3. I was the last male to carry my surname. John was the first of his generation in my family.
  4. I eat an apple a day, and have done for about 30 years. My doctor would disagree.
  5. I have three patents held in the UK patent office. 2 are European, one is worldwide.
  6. My middle name is Thomas. (stop sniggering at the back, or I'll reveal BLS's middle name.)
  7. I have an IQ of 144 (although I'll be damned if I can use it.)
  8. I have a mild astigmatism
  9. I am allergic to bananas and Imipramine.
  10. My favourite drink is white cider, but causes me panic attacks. I now drink red wine or lager.
  11. I use too many commas, and Capitalise to many wrong words.
  12. I have had an 18,000volt electric shock. (maybe that's where most of the IQ went?)
  13. I stand 5'8 on a good day.
  14. I have exceptionally good teeth, mainly due to a brace for two years as a teenager.
  15. I have qualifications in teaching and law (amongst others).
  16. My little finger on my right hand is attached via the knuckle to my ring finger, meaning I can't separate them very easily.
  17. I am immensely strong (as my father will testify to when it comes to hugs). I can easily carry more then my own bodyweight (and have, many times).
  18. I'm a dab hand with a scalpel.
  19. I have a photographic memory. (alcohol makes me forget to load film, however)
  20. My first ever job was in Burtons in Croydon, on the shoe concession.

Wednesday, January 28


I hate musicals. All that singing and dancing, I can't think of anything less entertaining. Don't get me wrong, I love a sing along in the car myself sometimes. This does not mean I want to go along to a cinema or theatre and join in on some well known songs bigging up some Dickens tale or commemorating a well known rock band.
Of course, there is an exception to the rule. 29 years ago, John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd (two well known singers!) teamed up with great singers like James Brown, Cab Callaway and Aretha Franklin to make the truly monumental film that is the Blues Brothers.
My favourite song is when they try to buy some instruments, and the shop owner is Ray Charles. They try to knock off some money from the price, and then he demonstrates that the equipment is working ok, in the only style he can.

Of course, this cult classic isn't only famous for it's music. It has one of the best car chases in history, right up there with Bullitt, the French Connection and the Italian Job.
Unfortunately, the whole chase isn't anywhere to be seen on the net, and so I found this instead.

Tuesday, January 27

Last week's quiz...

Here, for you to really dust off the cobwebs, are the answers to last week's quiz.
  1. The Wombles
  2. Mr. Benn
  3. Trumpton
  4. The Perishers (my favourite)
  5. Hong Kong Phooey
  6. Animal Kwackers ("Rory, Rory, tell us a story")
  7. Roobarb and Custard
  8. Paddington Bear
  9. Mr. Men
  10. Mary, Mungo and Midge
  11. Rupert the Bear
  12. Picture Box (Ok, hands up who hates me for that one?)
  13. Sooty (easy peasy)
  14. Magpie
  15. Screentest (Yes, I know it was hard!)
And for this week, how about another one?

Monday, January 26


This is my recollection of a story I’ve wanted to tell for 5 years. It is as accurate as I can make it, but there are bound to be things that aren’t right, but I explained to my sister this is my side of the story as I remember, not anything else told to me.

I must have been 5 when a new girl moved into our neighbourhood. Cynthia came from Durban, in South Africa, and was BLS’s junior to the tune of 6 months. Instantly they hit it off. Whilst Cynthia was born and brought up in South Africa, her parents were both of UK stock. Her mother had Scottish blood, and her father was originally from Ireland. This meant they had an interesting European/South African mix when it came to everyday life. I remember her father Kevin introducing me to shamrock leaves, which are almost like nature’s sour sweets. Her mother Val also introduced me to the South African delicacy of Bull Tongue, which is like eating someone’s shoe leather. When my sister stayed over, quite often I would get invited along as well. This meant I had my first experiences of sleepovers, and also gave my parents a break from me and BLS.

Things weren’t always rosy, kids being kids. I remember one evening having an argument between me and BLS, and Cynthia and my best mate Jonathon. I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember biting John and taking a chunk out of his arm. The argument spilled over to our parents, and Cynthia’s mum gave our mum a really hard time, which upset everyone. Like I said, I didn’t remember what it was about, but I do remember it was soon all water under the bridge. BLS and Cynthia soon became inseparable. One time BLS got lines in school, and Cynthia stayed to help her write them. We’d all walk to school together, and return home afterwards. When it came to starting secondary however, they were split up. This just meant the evenings and weekends were more precious as they grew together stronger.

As they developed into teenagers, they both had the same interests. At the time, Crystal Palace Park had a large skateboard ramp hidden underneath a concrete walkway, and this was a favourite haunt of them both. If they were missing, you could nearly always find them in the park, listening to the Sex Pistols or the Damned. The problem with the park was it shut at dusk, meaning in the evenings they’d go and see some of the ramp’s inhabitants. One particular evening this meant getting caught in a squat, where I was told how Cynthia was caught in bed with a guy. Susan was quite badly drunk, and both were sent home with their tales between their legs. This didn’t stop them seeing these undesirables (as my father called them) and being typical teenagers they both went slightly off the rails.

One of these friends committed suicide. Richard (I think that was his name) had hung himself, and had dated Cynthia a few times in the past. It was whilst she was at his funeral that she met Andy. Andy liked to think of himself as a bit of a David Bowie. He would wear one contact lens a different colour so that he had eyes like the man himself, and all three of them would sit and listen to Bowie’s albums. His father was quite wealthy, and lived in Westminster, but wasn’t prepared to put up with Andy’s moods, so kicked him out. He stayed with Cynthia for a few days, before getting his own bedsit a stone’s throw from the Crystal Palace Parade. He was a stock market trader, and would leave early every morning with BLS and Cynthia to Crystal Palace station where he and Cynthia would catch the train to London Bridge, whilst BLS went to her temping job over the summer in London’s West End. He’d always stop and talk to me, and I have to admit I did look up to him quite a bit. He got a Honda MX125 scrambler, and that weekend he took me for a ride on the back with him. He’d fallen out with Cynthia’s parents at the point, and I remember that evening as he dropped me off, Cynthia’s father came out to confront him about something, and they ended up having a punch up there and then in the street. I felt bad that Kevin had got so involved so I slunk off inside instead of helping him out, something I still feel guilty about today. Another time, Cynthia had gone away for the usual summer holiday to Kevin’s family in Ireland. BLS was spending a lot of time with Andy, and the inevitable happened. When Cynthia returned, BLS confessed all in the middle of an argument with Andy. This backfired and BLS and Cynthia wouldn’t talk to each other for weeks afterwards. Just like all good friendships however, they soon got back together. Andy, meanwhile, was still on the scene.

To my 15 year old mind, Andy was the epitome of cool. It was, however, not founded in anything that I remember, other then he had a girlfriend and a social life and I didn’t. There were a few chinks in his armour. I remember one evening the phone rang whilst he was in the bathroom. My sister called him, and after knocking on the bathroom door he came out to answer the phone, but his hand and arm was all covered in vomit. He was obviously making himself sick, but we didn’t know why. I now suspect he was bulimic. It was around this time that he started getting a little possessive of Cynthia, and no one, not even BLS would get in his way. Fortunately, Susan was in college, Cynthia was working for Nat West in the City, and they didn’t spend as much time with each other as they had done. The weekends however were all theirs and they’d spend as much time as possible together. This was when Andy started to become a little ‘unhinged.’
My last day of school was also Cynthia’s 18th birthday. When 5 of use all went to my house, we got in stocks of Thunderbirds and went over to Cynthia’s with Susan, and proceeded to all get merrily drunk. By 3 o’clock we we’re all well on our way. Andy appeared at the backdoor, red with anger, to find his girlfriend’s house full of “stupid little boys” and shouting at us all we left as quickly as we could. Unfortunately, one of my mates Simon was a little slower then the rest of us, and Andy laid into him in an almost unnecessary fashion. The rest of the guys had scarpered, whilst I grabbed a hold of Simon and dragged him away from Andy. I got about 4 doors down when Simon collapsed unconscious and started to vomit blood. Another neighbour, and my mate Jonathon’s mum, was an ex-nurse, and she started first aid to try and help him. Someone else called an ambulance, and whilst what seemed like forever, Simon laid there in the gutter, puking himself silly. When the ambulance did arrive, I went with him to hospital. As soon as he was there however, I got a lift home again and phoned his parents. They could have pressed charges on Andy, but seeing as Simon was so drunk, it would have been easy to blame the vomiting on the alcohol.

Cynthia wanted Andy out of her life. He was now more then a pest or a nuisance, he was writing death threats to Cynthia and Susan. He would phone in the middle of the night, reverse the charges, and then leave the phone off the hook meaning we couldn’t phone anyone else until someone put the phone down in the call box he’d call from. He’d also stand at the back of the house, by my bedroom window, and shout out obscenities about Cynthia and Susan for hours on end. The Police were no help whatsoever. They were unable to deal with him without evidence, and the death threats were just that, threats. They couldn’t arrest him for saying he’d kill them, they could only do something if he actually did it. Cynthia took out an injunction against Andy, and the judge had ruled in her favour, meaning that she could get him arrested if he was pestering her. This would have been great, if it weren’t for the fact that she kept going and meeting up with him. He’d charm her into believing he’d changed, and so she’d go and see him of her own free will. This made the court order worth nothing.

Susan had recently passed her driving test and gotten her first car, a 1974 purple and primer grey Mini. I’d gone away with my father up to the Lake District, and it was whilst I was away that Andy put sugar in the petrol tank. My father got in touch with his friend Dave, who lived at the end of our street, and he helped Susan get the car back on the road. A week or so later, on a Friday night, and I was woken up to Susan screaming hysterically. I glanced at the clock, 1:20am, and ran downstairs. She was stood in the lounge, completely incomprehensible, jibbering. I shook her, asking what the matter was, and I got the answer “c-c-car.” Spinning round to look out the front of the lounge window, I could make out the silhouette of the car as flames licked up the back end of it. I raced into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of towels, before running out the front and like Taz, went into a maddened frenzy as I patted out the flames around the back of the car and on it’s roof. Fortunately, the fire had yet to take hold, only burning the fuel that had been used in the original Molotov cocktail, and the car was out. A neighbour had seen the fire, and had called the fire brigade, so they turned up and dampened down the area around the car. Everyone knew it was Andy, but he had the perfect alibi. He’d gotten Cynthia to meet him for coffee in a cafĂ© just around the corner from his flat. Again, the Police couldn’t get any evidence. Whilst there was one witness, my mate Nick down the road, he’d seen two guys at the end of our road. One was sat in the car and the other ran down and got in, before they pulled away. Neither of them was Andy, however.

Susan left the area in October 1988 to start University in Cardiff. Cynthia was doing well in her job in Nat West, and whilst Andy was still around, she wasn’t at home that much so we didn’t see much of him either. Just after Christmas she passed her driving test, and her parents got her a small mark 2 Fiesta. I remember seeing her one weekend as I was heading on my way to a party in North London. It was the first time I’d seen her driving, and I waved at her but she didn’t see me.

20 years ago, this week, I got home on the Tuesday from college, and was sat in my room watching TV. Downstairs the phone rang, and 10 minutes later my mother came in.

“Cynthia’s been murdered,” she said.
“How?” was the only thing I could say.

She’d been strangled by Andy on the Monday night, in her car. He’d asked her to meet him, so he could give her her stuff back. He’d got a lift from his mate, to a car park behind his flat, and whilst he went over in Cynthia’s car, his mate fell asleep. He woke up a few minutes later and there was a fracas going on in Cynthia’s car. Going to help, he found Andy on top of her, pinning her to the back seat, hands around her throat. She was kicking and thrashing wildly, even kicking out the windscreen. Realising he couldn’t do much to help, he ran the 300 yards to Gipsy Hill Police station, where he hammered on the door. He told them his mate was murdering his ex-girlfriend down the road, but the Police didn’t take him seriously. 20 Minutes later they got someone to go with him, and when they returned to the car park, they found Andy walking aimlessly, with Cynthia’s limp body in his arms. She was dead.
2 weeks later, and we attended her funeral on a cold snowy day in West Norwood cemetery. There was standing room only at her church, and around the grave people I’d known most of my life stood there grieving. One of the other neighbourhood boys, now in his 20s, was also there. Paul had always been a stalwart. I think it was seeing him crying that brought it home to me how affected we all were.

Some 18 Months later and Lewis Andrew Woods was convicted of manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility at the Old Bailey. He was to serve a term of a minimum of 4 years in a secure mental facility whereupon his release would only be considered following in depth psychological reports.

He was back out after those 4 years.

Saturday, January 24

I was on my way...

... to Mountain Ash last night, when I spied a beautiful young hitchhiker. I gave her a lift, and when she announced she was a practising witch, it wasn't long until she touched me on the knee and I turned into a layby.


Friday, January 23

Being a percentage

As mentioned before, it's a well known fact I have big feet. This size 15 shoe size means that (I'm guessing) I'm in a very low percentage.

<- A size 15, compared to a size 6.

Maybe 1% of the populous. This got me thinking, is there anything else I could claim to be in the top, or bottom, 1% of everyone. Maybe I'm only 1 in 100 of teachers who's qualified to teach via the internet? Or maybe I'm a single percentile when it comes to programming, because I know I'm only one of 10 registered Forth (the language used on the Space Shuttle) programmers in the UK.

Do you have a claim to fame or misfortune? My father could be listed as one of the grumpiest men in Britain. My sister could be listed as a one-percenter for remembering everything her kid brother ever did wrong to her. Comment away.

More on Sky

I spent hours (literally) yesterday talking to technical services, who told me my dish was only working at 15% efficiency. They would repair it, for £65. They wouldn't waive the cost, because they didn't have that option. I then spoke to Customer Services, who also said there was nothing they could do, and after offering them loads of chances to back down and repair it for free, I had to hang up, to then call back to be put through to cancellations.

The guy in cancellations listened patiently for 10 minutes, whilst I sounded off about Sky's quality of service, failure of Ofcom guidelines, lack of communication and breach of contract. He then put his cards on the table, which is obviously where they'd been calling my bluff, and realised their hand was shit. He offered me a call out for free, involving (if need be) full replacement of all equipment, including reattaching the dish elsewhere on the house if need be. He also then offered me a £15 goodwill payment, refund of the past 6 month's worth of fees, and full premium package including Sky movies for a month for free.

This is all great, because in two months I will cancel anyway when Terrestrial Digital becomes available. I have also had it noted that if I'm not happy after that 2 months, I will get another two months refunded. I'm sure I can find something to bitch about. I might even move the dish slightly, just to justify it.

Free Sky, anyone?

Thursday, January 22

Sky are so called because they drive you up the walls, and put the prices through the roof.

Yes, it's time for a good rant. Here, in darkest deepest Wales, we don't have much in the way of a televisual feast. Normal aerials pick up 3.5 channels. I refer, of course, to the 0.5 of a channel as S4C, which if you've ever seen it, is a truly dreadful, low budget imitation of it's English partner.
Around the larger towns and cities, there exists cable. This is probably because one of the main call centres is in Swansea, and people working there can get a discount on their supposed service. We would get BT vision, but apparently this requires a broadband connection of upwards of 5Mb, and considering most exchanges around here are only on 3Mb sync rates, that's not going to happen. Plus, being BT, it's vastly overpriced, and crap.
That then leaves the multinational cess pool that is Murdoch's empire, Sky. We've had Sky 9 years. It's never worked properly. We started out paying £16 a month, for the basic package, which is all the channels except the premium ones, like the movies or the sport. About a month after Sky put in the equipment, our faulty box was replaced with a loan box, and the company that were repairing it went into liquidation. 18 months later, we get our box back, unrepaired. I have repeatedly had the sky engineer come here, spend literally 5 minutes realigning the dish, then leaving. This costs me (now) £65+vat, and 2 days later, the problem returns. I have so far replaced the box, dish, lnb and even cable, and yet the problem persists. In the last two days however, Sky have now excelled their previous levels of low quality. I now have 4 channels. Sky 1, 2, 3, and the welcome channel. The rest either work, but are very choppy and pixellated, or I just get "no signal is being received." I spent nearly two hours last night on the phone to them. The usual procedure of unplugging everything was adhered to, and when it didn't fix it, the engineer then hung up.
I was bouncing. I redialled, and got an extremely unpleasant young lady from India, and told her my woes. I was not abusive, I was also not impolite. I requested a conversation with a supervisor, and when she asked why, I told her. She then hung up.
Third time, and I get through to an exceptionally pleasant sounding Scotsman, who assures me something will be done, but I need to be put through to technical. I then get put on hold again for 10 minutes, only to then be told it's now closed (it was 11:05pm at this point) and to try again tomorrow. This must have meant they all went home whilst I was on hold.
Waining, I phoned again, and this time I got another Indian who told me I'd have to speak to technical, and to phone back in the morning. And so I shall.
But what really does me in is the fact Sky are happy to take your money, without providing any service whatsoever. So, think of me for the next hour, whilst I give them hell, or at least cancel (mind you, they don't care!).

Wednesday, January 21

Great pop videos

Pop videos were a very 80's thing. The ability to add video to the music meant that you could prove your 'art' on so many extra levels. This got me to thinking, which videos are my favourites?
Obviously, some of the greats like Michael Jackson's Thriller are going to be up there. I have recently got my hands on the best of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and in there is the superb Two Tribes. The video has the unforgettable fight between Reagan and Yeltsin, which added a comedic value to it.

Whilst researching for this video however, I found another which really is a true example of modern warfare. The only thing that lets it down is the added text all over the screen. I have it on as we speak, and much too loud.

Oh yeah, if you have a favourite video, let me know. I might do a special just compiling everything you all wanted.

Tuesday, January 20

More 70s TV

Following on from yesterday, here's a little quiz for you. I know some of you are stateside, so won't know the answers, but it's only for fun.

Name the theme tune.

As always, put your answers in the box below.

Monday, January 19

Kids TV in the 70s

In Memory of Tony Hart, 30 and 40-somethings all over Britain are mourning his passing today. This, along with the death of Oliver Postgate, had me thinking about how great kids TV was in the 70s.

Tony Hart, first with Vision On (which I have to admit I barely remember), then Take Hart and Hart Beat, inspired kids with the slightest inclination to do drawing to try new methods.

Johnny Ball, another great 70s stalwart, was also inspirational with Think of a Number, and Think Again later on. Both of these programs took maths, and then science, and turned them into entertainment.

Postgate's contributions were more pure entertainment value. Be it the demonically possessed train that was Ivor the Engine, teaching kids all over the world what Wales is like, the surreal, almost trippy Clangers, or the favourite cuddly toy of all 5 year old girls, Bagpuss.

We did have some let downs (things like Play away would always make me turn over to the ITV *gasp*), we did have some stuff that the parents didn't like (who can forget the uproar over some of the stories in Grange Hill?), and we did have some dreadful imports (Heidi, anyone?). The fact is, today what with our 30 channels of non-stop American/Japanese Cartoons, kids don't need to watch BBC1 to see kids stuff. The BBC know this, so they don't make any effort whatsoever. Sure, Blue Peter's still there, but that always will be as far as I can see. The stuff they do show now isn't going to inspire anyone. It starts too early, and finishes earlier as well.

When I was a child, putting your child down in front of the TV was considered bad form by a lot of parenting groups. Quite frankly, if the TV wasn't as good as it was, I'd be inclined to agree. But now, I'm sure it doesn't do anything more then make little Johnny want to go and play on his latest PS3 game.

Friday, January 16

Dreaming out loud

On the way home on Saturday, John and I started listening to Radio 2. It started with the comedy hour thingy at 1, but at 2 there was short-arse TV presenter Dermot O' Leary. He mentioned that recently he'd woken up and said "maybe if you file it next to the birds."

We don't half talk some drivel when we wake up suddenly. I have a few more examples, but I'd like it very much if you can suggest your own experiences...
  • You go that way, I'll head off the giraffes.
  • But the candles don't work without the music on.
  • Of course he knows what he's doing, can't you see the custard?

Thursday, January 15

The free arse

I'm incensed. No, not covered in nice smelling smoke, but spitting feathers. I read yesterday that an MP call Graham Stringer has gone on the record as saying that 'Dyslexia's a myth, created by education boards to cover up their own failings.'
Now, if you read this, you'll probably feel the same as me. Those that have met John know he's far from lazy. He's also far from thick, but he is however dyslexic. In fact, he's never going to be able to read or write properly, but this is not a reason for him to leave his special school early nor to spend the rest of his life in a dead end job. Some of the world's most famous sons have had dyslexia, including Winston Churchill (can you see him allowing an MP to say this??), Richard Branson and even Agatha Christie. Interestingly, this also highlights how a dyslexic can also be a visionary, seeing the bigger picture and making use of it.
The twunt known as Stringer has said that people diagnosed with it are just lazy, uneducated, uninspired and unable to work in a classroom environment without causing disruption. I have to admit, it is nice to have a label to pin on someone if they are disruptive to a class and this undoubtedly happens. But to tar everyone with the same brush is not only unneccessary, but also uncalled for, and untrue.
If I had my way, I'd hang him by his bits and make him recite the alphabet backwards and each time he gets it wrong a hole punch is to be used on his scrotum.
Waukre. That is all.

Wednesday, January 14

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

The comedy gold writing duo that is Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais came up with this series back in 1983. It was to be a launchpad for many well known actors, including Jimmy Nail (Crocodile Shoes), Kevin Whately (Inspector Morse/Lewis) and Timothy Spall (Harry Potter). Based around the time of a thoroughly unhappy and unemployed Thatcherite Britain, it's the tale of builders going to Germany to help rebuild, as Oz put it, "What we all knocked down in the first place." The pay was a lot better in Germany, and as such this meant that those who could leave, did. Some didn't have a choice, and ended up working away from home for months on end. I recently got a copy of the entire first series, and had in all honesty forgotten how much I really enjoy this fine piece of writing. Meanwhile, my sister remembers it because apparently I remind her of Barry.

The opening titles give you and idea what to expect

Oz (played superbly by Jimmy Nail) doesn't like the Germans. It is his character that most people would consider made this series what it was. And after much searching, I found a compilation showing his hard drinking, hard fighting, hard speaking undesirable character.


Tuesday, January 13

France? Best left to the French!

Just turned 13, I was let off my lead and taken with the school to a suburb of Paris to play. The town of Dourdan had a large complex for visiting tourists, mostly made up of chalets but also with a central building with large restaurant, games room, bar, and loads and loads of conference rooms. And this particular week had about 40 kids with dodgy cockney accents roaming in it's halls.
The usual mischief of a teenage boy ensued, including breaking the sliding back door, so that it was hanging from one corner for the whole week. One of the other boys, my fellow rugby prop, was a large Indian boy called Dharinder. Dharinder had a tendency to sleep like a log, and this freaked out another of the boys called Richard. Richard had a distinctive feature, where his chin was pointy and long, so he become (and as far as I know still is) known as Toblerone. He was also the weird kid, the one everyone made fun of. At night he was convinced Dharinder was dead, and in a moment of mischief, we told him he was. We then proceeded to convince him that seeing him the following morning, walking around, he was only a spirit. This meant poor Richard genuinely thought he was seeing poor dead Dharinder walking around, playing pool or Pole Position in the games room. Eventually he told one of the teachers, who scalded us on a monumental scale.
The site organisers had quite wisely put us kids all in one corner of the site, where we had to pass the teacher's chalets to get anywhere else. This meant that a) we didn't stray off site, looking for a pint and an evening with the local madame, and b) we did however go looking for talent in the girl's chalets. I must point out something at this point. The boys were outnumbered substantially.
There were 6 of us. And 36 girls.
During the day, we'd spend being driven from one tourist haven to another. We took in the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, even the palace at Fontainebleau. But at night we'd become sex crazed maniacs. We'd dress up in our best hoodies, trying to look like ninjas, so we could get into other girls chalets. What we'd do once we got there, we had no idea (well one idea, but THAT wasn't going to happen), but we tried anyway.
On the last night we all had a party. We had to entertain the teachers, who were sat in a conference room corner, sampling the local vino far too much. Some of the kids had also smuggled some of the local produce in, and were now getting drunk. We, meanwhile, weren't. But we were overflowing with testosterone, and seeing how relaxed the girls had now become, were convinced that if we could just get into their room, we'd get laid. That night, we were caught 4 times, trying to sneak two blocks down, to Michelle's (blonde, as busty as a 13 year old can be) room. In fact, we were caught all 4 times, by the same teacher. I remember being caught the fourth time, playing my best game of Statues. I would have succeeded if it weren't for the fact I had my black hoodie on, and the wall behind me was white. Stealthy, I was not.
Monsieur Dickie (I kid you not), was most unimpressed, and proceeded to not only literally kick my arse all the way back too the chalet, but to then lock us all in. I ended up losing my cherry and all my other fruit to a pair of fours in a game of poker.

Monday, January 12

For everyone that came on Friday, or those that wanted to

The absentee additions are unfortunately a lot clearer then the original picture, so if you're a dab hand at Photoshop then please modify it and send me the changed result, and I'll replace it on here.

Clicky to embiggen.
From left to right, in the mirror; B.L.S., Huge Alex, Mr. Pseudonymph
Left to right, along the wall; Misty's E.P.I.C., Scaryduck, Misty, Johnaitch, Pseudonymph, Pseudonymphette 1 and 2, Debi, Mr Pseudonymph (again).
Left to right, in the foreground; JJ, Debster Snr, Debster Jnr, TRT

I also wanted to include my favourite picture of the day, but forgot. So here it is.

Saturday, January 10

Finally Home

And so, after driving for 7 hours, I'm home. I have my beer, I have my new laptop, and I have loads of pictures to play with. I also have a video, especially for Scaryduck, courtesy of everyone who came.

Take a bow:
  • Pseudonymph (the reason well all congregated there in the first place) and family
  • Misty (and EPIC) My hosts for a couple of days, and taker of loads of clickage
  • Debster (and Mum) who provided loads of clickage as well
  • Audrey (with or without the hat), and his clickage
  • JJ. another most excellent clickage member
  • My father, who actually got a few drinks in.

Friday, January 9

The world's shortest blogpost

See you all in the pub!!

Thursday, January 8

15 hours to go...

And so, another day, another dollar. Today is going to be one of those days that everyone dreads. One of those days that no one wants. One of those days where a person should just stay in bed. I have to fit 5Gb of data onto a 4.7Gb DVD, get fuel and check the car, get tax for it, sort out a virus on a pc, pick up John, sort out someone's broadband, drop off the DVD, drive 150 miles, pick up my new laptop (a positive), and drive another 50 miles. And to cap it all, I had a customer who I recently upgraded his PC. He went from a celeron 900 to a P3 1400, 256Mb RAM to 1Gb, 20GB drive to 80Gb, and now he phones me and says his skype no longer works, youtube no longer works, in fact nothing works very well any more.
And so, if you're coming tomorrow, I'll be the one asleep in the corner.

Wednesday, January 7

Saturday night TV

This early evening slot was always a favourite when I was a kid. Basil Brush, Jim'll fix it, Noel's House Party. Over the years there has been a wealth of great TV, until the new millennium. Then it became trendy to either sing or dance, and whilst one channel has some talent competition with singing, the other has a talent competition with dancing. We had Come Dancing on the BBC for decades, and it was never that popular, so why is it now???
Meanwhile, we still get a few gems. Ant and Dec shine as the new saviours of Saturday Nights, what with their tomfoolery and dodgy phone-ins. Only being the new year, the BBC decided to try something new to their schedules.
I have always said that Takeshi's Castle (See Mad Japanese game show sponsored by was always entertaining. Unfortunately, it was filmed 20 years ago, before the Health and Safety Nazis got their hands on it. There have been copies, but they have been pale immitations. Until Saturday.
Total Wipeout, amazingly, is filmed in Argentina. I'm guessing this is for a few reasons; Hardly any health and safety, or personal injury lawyers, sun, and the Argies still hate us for the Falklands thing, so are happy for us to kill each other on their land. This means we get a hugely entertaining show, where people fall off things with bone crushing efficiency.
And this leads me on to today's clip. The slightly chubby chav Maria, fan of Chesney Hawkes, who thinks she can take on the initial assualt course. She can't.

Tuesday, January 6

The Definition of Pain III

This story was relayed to me last night, by poor Barry. He'd recently been diagnosed with the worst nightmare that is the big C, but with the added consolation that it was his prostrate and of all the cancers to get, this is probably the most successfully cured. In his case, off he went for a 4 hour operation to have it removed.
(You just know this is going to hurt...)
The operation involves a large incision, made from below the belly button down to the waist. Once opened up, the surgeon prods and pokes all the bowel to one side, apparently tying it back (not with bungee cord like I'd imagined), before reaching the offending organ. He then, with a deft snip and a couple of clamps, removes it, sews anything that should be sewn shut back into place, and then returns everything back to order before closing up the patient.
(not that painful, but the worst is yet to come...)
The problem was the following days afterwards. The large intestine doesn't like being poked around, settling into the gaps between the other organs. If it's moved, it has a tendency to 'solidify', sort of becoming hard and uncooperative. This in turn means that poor Barry is constipated. Things back up, after each and every meal provides more fuel for the (now not unsubstantial) fire that was waiting in the bowels of hell. The problem was the gases were getting through, that each movement would produce another large bubble of noxious gas, that could pass through the small openings. Each time, this would press against the inside of the scar tissue, meaning poor Barry would yelp in pain as the gas tried to exit between the stitches and half sealed skin. Or it would exit with gusto in a sound akin to a large rumbling thunderstorm in the distance.
(You think that's bad? Here come worse.)
He'd been taking laxatives. They didn't work. He'd also been taking industrial strength fibrogel, up to 3 times a day, but this was just making the gas worse. Each fart would be precluded by crippling pain as the bowel again moved out the way to let it pass through, and so he spoke to his doc. The doctor asked how many sachets of fibrogel he had left, and when he told him he had about a dozen left, the doc told him to put 8 (yes, 8!) sachets into one pint glass of water and to drink it (with a spoon presumably) over the next hour.
(here it comes)
3 hours later, and after a lot of belching, farting, coughing and sneezing, things started to move. It started with diarrhea. Just a small squirt, but accompanied with the usual cramps. Then, as he described it, a small nuclear submarine. Tearing, twisting, all hell broke loose. Holding onto his stomach (so that the scar didn't burst), he pushed with all his might. Congratulations, it's a long brown boy, as he filled the toilet. As he sat there, sweating profusely, he realised that he'd not finished. The tailback was now moving, and moving pretty fluidly. He reckons he didn't stop again for 15 minutes, but I would have gone on for a lot longer. He also reckoned he had to flush 4 times.
So the next time anyone tells you this prostrate cancer's easy to beat, Barry begs to differ. And I'm inclined to agree.

Monday, January 5

A meme in 99 parts

I've been tagged by Debi and Ricardipus, so it's my turn. Then it's your turn...


1. Everyone uses this same list of 99 Things.

2. Feel free to add editorial comments (mine are in square brackets).

3. Change the font of each item according to the legend below.

4. That's it! Simple, really.

Things I’ve already done: boldface
Things I want to do: italics
Things I haven’t done and don’t want to: plain text

99 Things

1. started your own blog [obviously]

2. slept under the stars [Although I don't remember any stars. It was too cold.]

3. played in a band [just not very well]

4. visited Hawaii

5. watched a meteor shower [R'pus comments on the Perseids, which I also saw last year]

6. given more than you can afford to charity

7. been to Disneyland/world [no thanks]

8. climbed a mountain [Snowdon, in Wales; and took a bus up the Gross Glockner in Austria amongst others.]

9. held a praying mantis [seen one up close, though]

10. sang a solo [Does Karaoke count?]

11. bungee jumped [no thanks]

12. visited Paris [There's a tale of woe waiting to be written.]

13. watched a lightning storm at sea [from Southend Seafront]

14. taught yourself an art from scratch [depends on your definition of Art. Working on PCs can be an art]

15. adopted a child [One's enough!]

16. had food poisoning [more then once]

17. walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. grown your own vegetables

19. seen the Mona Lisa in France [That involves spending time in Paris. Yuck!]

20. slept on an overnight train [maybe stateside, not the UK]

21. had a pillow fight [at least once a week]

22. hitch hiked [many many times.]

23. taken a sick day when you’re not ill [many many times!]

24. built a snow fort [a what?]

25. held a lamb [no comment]

26. gone skinny dipping [no chance]

27. run a marathon [no chance]

28. ridden a gondola in Venice

29. seen a total eclipse [does 99.6% count?]

30. watched a sunrise or sunset [too many times]

31. hit a home run [Can you see me playing baseball? No. exactly.]

32. been on a cruise [I can't think of anything worse!]

33. seen Niagara Falls in person

34. visited the birthplace of your ancestors [Many times. In Anglesey, it's easy!]

35. seen an Amish community [only in 'Witness']

36. taught yourself a new language [Many, when it comes to programming]

37. had enough money to be truly satisfied [I'm getting there...]

38. seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. gone rock climbing [with my school when I was 11]

40. seen Michelangelo’s David in person

41. sung karaoke [To the point where I was in the Guinness Books of Records...]

42. seen Old Faithful geyser erupt in person

43. bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. visited Africa

45. walked on a beach by moonlight

46. been transported in an ambulance [more then once]

47. had your portrait painted

48. gone deep sea fishing [I can't think of anything more boring!]

49. seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris [guaranteed to make me puke.]

51. gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. kissed in the rain [almost certainly, although I can't pinpoint a specific occasion]

53. played in the mud

54. gone to a drive-in theatre [not many of them in the UK!]

55. been in a movie [a couple filmed on Southend Seafront]

56. visited the Great Wall of China

57. started a business [the only way to make your million...]

58. taken a martial arts class

59. visited Russia

60. served at a soup kitchen

61. sold girl scout cookies [Do I look like a girl scout???]

62. gone whale watching

63. gotten flowers for no reason

64. donated blood [right up until Wales decided that I can't, even though I gave in England!]

65. gone sky diving [no thanks]

66. visited a Nazi concentration camp [I'd be too emotional]

67. bounced a cheque [many many times! You say it like it's a bad thing!]

68. flown in a helicopter [I'd like to fly one as well]

69. saved a favourite childhood toy

70. visited the Lincoln memorial [no thanks]

71. eaten caviar [it tastes like salty gritty jam]

72. pieced a quilt

73. stood in Times Square

74. toured the Everglades

75. been fired from a job [Too many...]

76. seen the changing of the guard in London [how touristy?]

77. broken a bone [again, too many!]

78. been on a speeding motorcycle [my first speeding offence was on a motorbike.]

79. seen the Grand Canyon in person [Just so I can stand there and say "Gee Whizz"]

80. published a book [not yet]

81. visited the Vatican

82. bought a brand new car [I never will. Too much depreciation]

83. walked in Jerusalem [with Gaza bombing it? I doubt it.]

84. had your picture in the newspaper [more then once.]

85. read the entire Bible [I don't have the attention span]

86. visited the White House

87. killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. had chickenpox [twice :(]

89. saved someone’s life [a couple of times]

90. sat on a jury [I can't wait...]

91. met someone famous [I still have Chas and Dave's Autographs]

92. joined a book club [when I was 6]

93. lost a loved one [I checked down the back of the sofa...]

94. had a baby

95. seen the Alamo in person

96. swum in the Great Salt Lake

97. been involved in a law suit [Only in the US... I have however testified on cases against computer shops.]

98. owned a cell phone [Currently on year 11 of owning one]

99. been stung by a bee [probably; wasps, certainly]

So that gives us totals of:

41 Things I have done

8 Things I would like to do

51 Things I have not done, and could do without.

Friday, January 2


Can I offer anyone a free drink?

Not that I'm bribing you.



And so, it came to pass

This time next week, I shall be an Englishman for a couple of nights. The plan of attack would seem to be meeting Friday Lunchtime at the aforementioned Blue Post, Mayfair (map here) on the corner of Bennett Street and Arlington Street, hopefully by 1 o'clock, but this will be flexible on account of people travelling from far and wide. I shall be present all afternoon, and will probably be accompanied by Misty and definitely with Johnaitch in tow. My father will be there some of the time, (he's travelling down on the train, the poor soul) but unfortunately the duck won't. He will be boring, and be working. I offered him 50 virgins if he came, but it would appear that is not enough to tempt him away from his main income.
Please if you can say you will be able or not to come. I shall also politely request those that can't, please to add your name to the list with regards to being photoshopped into the group photo. If this is required, then please email me a picture to do the jobby with. Those that are coming, please email me here, so that I can return the email with my phone number so if any of you get stuck. I would publish it on here, but I really don't want all and sundry knowing it so they can spam me with offers of cheap mobile upgrades.
I look forward to seeing some of you next week, and once we're there, look out for a toast made on youtube, and the biggest single photo of bloggers in history.