Thursday, October 28, 2004

Blow Job

I'm after a dead man's koch. I couldn't resist it.

It's an organ don't you know, and I intend to put it in my mouth.

Lovely!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

John Peel

There was no greater champion of new music. Hundreds of bands must be indebted to him.

I loved his sense of humour.

Go well, John. I'll miss you.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I Did It

I completed the half-marathon yesterday in a time of 2 hours 45 minutes.

The longest run I had completed beforehand was 10.6 miles. I couldn't imagine running any further. My fears were well-founded. I ran (if you can call it running - barely catching up with the walkers) for just under 13 miles. I then collapsed, regained some strength and walked for about 200 yards, then somehow "jogged", legs buckling, face contorted, the final 200 yards across the line.

Today I am in a lot of pain.

Tomorrow will be better.

An Act of God

Friday was a blustery evening. There I was driving through the woods on my way to an evening meal with friends when WHAM!, a large lump of wood (a large tree branch) literally fell out of the sky into the bonnet of the car damaging both wings and the bonnet itself.

After the "What the f***?", the car stayed under control and I reached my destination safely.

"How unlucky was that?" I thought.

Apparently though, I was lucky. My friends tell me a fraction of a second later and it would have been through the windscreen and I might not have been here to tell the tale.

Now there's a funny thing.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Pedants of the World Unite

One thing I do for which I am not ashamed: if someone says to me

"I gave it one hundred and ten percent"

I always make a point of saying something like:

"Well in that case, you're not trying hard enough. So and so said he gave it two hundred percent".

I can't help myself.

I urge you to do the same. Banish sloppy language through sarcasm.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Room For Improvement

We're just outside the top 10 of the least corrupt countries in the world.

Some way to go to usurp the all-conquering Scandinavians, but still a whole lot better than the dodgy French, Spanish, Irish, Italians and even Germans.

At the other end of the scale: no surprises, except perhaps Russia in a disappointing 90th place.

Hypochondriac's Day?

On Sunday, I will be running in the Stroud half marathon.

Barely a year ago I was an overweight wreck. I couldn't run 50 yards without thinking I was going to die.

I've come a long way (literally) running hundreds of miles culminating in the highest pre-race distance of just under 11 miles last Saturday. I'm fit and my doctor loves me.

But now, I just ache. My bum; my knees; my legs. I can't see how I can possibly run over 13 miles in four days time. I'm thinking of jacking it in, but I can't do that either.

I've decided not to run again until Sunday hoping that things have improved by then.

I've painted myself into a corner. Why did I decide to do this in the first place?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Personal Hygiene

I shower twice a day. This may be about average. I don't know. It's certainly more than my teenage children, even the girls. As for the boy, he seems to think that covering himself in smelly stuff is a substitute for washing. His bedroom is, shall we say, fruity.

Mostly though, this washing business is probably overdone. It's the fear of smelling. You plunge your nose into your armpit, (because it's a handy place at nose-height), and take in a good whiff. Even though it smells ok, you never smell yourself as others smell you. You're never quite sure. So you shower.

When you do, you don't just stand there, with water cascading over your head. You have to rub yourself with some solvent substance to get rid of the grime (and the smell).

The most appropriate substance would be a solid block that hangs together until you rub it against your skin whereupon it releases a satisfactory film of cleansing agent.

In short, soap.

What is the point of those liquid trendy "shower gels" that get knocked off your hand (or body) as soon as you squirt out a gollop?

I've never figured that out.

I still cup my hand over my mouth to see if my breath smells though.

Monday, October 18, 2004

A Gradely Idea

They say that they are going to improve numeracy and literacy of our school leavers by tampering with the exam system. Brilliant!

The bloke whose idea this is (Tomlinson I think) was on the radio this morning walking the tricky tightrope of, on the one hand, denying that grade inflation exists, and on the other, proposing grades A, A+ and A++ at A'Level.

Why not get rid of grades A, B, C, D etc. completelely and replace them with A+, A++, A+++ etc. Then the employer only need count (if he's numerate enough) the number of plusses revealing grades 1, 2, 3 etc.

Didn't the French do something like this with their Franc years ago. It worked for them.

Friday, October 15, 2004

A Music Link

As promised, you can hear the six banjo and guitar tracks Phill and I recorded. Each track is about 2MB, so it may take some time if you don't have broadband.

A Load of Rubbish

What with Mrs TC's recent publicity for her Bags of Mass Destruction, I took some examples to work and sent an email asking them to contribute their used crisp packets.

What was the result? Two measly crisp packets; and these were on the day and from the people who sit next to me. From the rest was just stunned incredulity.

On to more satisfactory things, I recorded six tunes with Phill yesterday. I'll put one or two on a link on my website and point you to them (once I've figured out how). Phill reckons that a decent banjo to start on will cost me the best part of a grand.

I think a scan of eBay is called for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Tranjo

This evening I'm off to the Welsh Borders to meet with friends and record some more music. This time, I'm recording with Phill, a banjo player. Should be good.

Phil turned up at the club last week with his latest prized possession, a Tranjo (Travelling Banjo). The strings are "upside down" so the machine heads are buried inside the body of the banjo out of harms way, and the neck comes off with a single screw bolt so it can be folded up into a small bag. It's a brilliant design and a lovely thing.

Phil got his cheap for writing a review on the website. That's him in Greenland in the "Travel Pictures" section.

I've decided I'm going to learn the banjo. My finger picking guitar style and general ear for music should be a good start.

I hope Phill can help.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Bags of Mass Destruction

They came yesterday as promised. The TV camera crew turned up at our house and filmed Mrs C talking about the bags she makes from discarded junk and then sells at the local shop.

The five-minute feature was on ITV Central News. How much does a five minute TV advert cost? Absolutely bugger-all in our case.

They did "vox-pop" interviews outside the shop asking punters what they thought of the bags.

"What if they say they're rubbish" asked my wife (which coincidentally is exactly what they are).

"In that case, we won't show them" came the reply.

Surely this is blatant manipulation of the media? I think you should be told. I'm shocked. I believe everything on the telly.

I even believed the 45 minute claim.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Rubber Fish

I'm constantly amazed by the talent that is just around the corner.

This week, my wife has had articles published in two local newspapers. She makes belts, bags, books etc. from old or discarded scrap (bottle tops, crisp packets, beer mats etc.). She sells them in local shops, but mainly for beer money (well chocolate actually) as a hobby. The story has caught the attention of the local telly (ITV Central News) and they are sending a camera crew round our house on Monday for a "feature" on the telly.

We have not been paying this attention. We've always thought we could sell hundreds of these things on eBay but haven't because of lack of capacity. However, I think we should get the kids to develop our undeveloped website (as an IT project) with pictures and stuff.

Anyway, I was mentioning this to Serena at work, who sits next to me. She revealed that her sister is an arty type and produces animation. Her webiste rubberfish is worth a look.

See what you think. I'm gobsmacked.

Mistaken Diagnosis

The other morning I was getting the milk in from the doorstep and putting it in the fridge.

"Blimey, the milk on the doorstep is colder than the stuff in the fridge" I commented, thinking: "winter draws on" (so to speak).

It wasn't until the following day (and some nasty smells) that we realised the fridge was bust.

Grumpy Old Man

You know what it's like when something goes wrong at the start of the day. You end up feeling grumpy for hours afterwards and nothing, but nothing will shift it. I'm hoping my writing it down will prove cathartic (there, I'm feeling better already, having written such a nice long word. This is also excoriating - oops, I've done it again).

I was late driving my daughter to the bus stop. We arrived at the stop just ahead of the bus, but because there was nobody at the stop and Rosie hadn't got out of the car, the bus sailed by.

Bugger!

We set off after the bus; overtook it and stopped at the next stop. This time Rosie had got out of the car, but again, the bus sailed by.

Bugger bugger!

Again, we chased the bus. When it stopped to pick up passengers, I blocked the swine in ram-raid style, feeling road-rage coming on (what an alliterate load of aRs - ram raid road rage).

I then drove nine tenths of the way to work in Bristol before I realised I had left my mobile phone and work key at home and had to drive back to get them.

Bugger bugger bugger.

I realise this has no benefit for you whatsoever, but it's made me feel better. I reckon I could run an Anger Management course now.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Heavy Metal

A truck carrying 4.5 tonnes of enriched uranium was hit from behind by another truck near the French city of Orleans, AFP news agency reported.

"What the bleedin ell d'you think yer doin?. I've got bleedin uranium in 'ere. They reckon if it leaks out, it'll take 'em ten fausand effin years to clear the bleedin stuff up."

"Do us a bleedin favour"

Scuse my French.

Be Warned

I live in the sticks where there is currently no broadband access (roll on next February). I have been stung by the scam of unwittingly dialling premium rate numbers at £1.50 per minute. I know other readers have too.

I never got any money back from BT (nor did I ask for it), and I didn't bother pursuing the company that set up the premium rate number (not a chance of getting a penny).

According to this article, BT can bar premium rate numbers for free. Well that's not what they told me! I have to pay £1.75 a month for the privilege.

Be warned.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Memorable Day

On this day (5th October) five years ago, at about this time (8am ish), I was climbing out of an upturned railway carriage.

Being a survivor of the Paddington train crash suddenly caused me to be in demand by "The Media". I wouldn't be surprised if one of them called me today. As far as rail safety is concerned, I do believe things have improved.

That day was a landmark day in my life, for reasons not connected with the crash. It was my last day working in London in a job that I had been with for 26 years.

Until the crash, I hadn't realised that a friend was in the same carriage as me. It was a landmark day in his life too. After being married with children for some years, he decided that he should "come out" and let people know he is gay.

It is also my wife's birthday. She is 50 today.

Happy Birthday dear!

And the Winner is...

This year's crop of Ig Nobel prizes is one of the best. My particular favourite is the Economics Prize which goes to The Vatican outsourcing prayers to India. All are worth a read.

Monday, October 04, 2004

A True Story

I read from Nutgroist that Jack Straw mistakenly shook Mugabe's hand "because it was dark". This reminded me of a true story of mistaken intentions.

A long time ago, in the days of apartheid, my friend's mother went to buy some apples. Se was a politically aware and politically correct type of person.

"Where do those apples come from?" she asked.

"South Africa" came the reply.

"Oh, in that case, I won't have them".

"I can't say I blame you" was the response, "I don't like the idea of all those black fingers on my fruit either".