Saturday, March 31, 2007

Calendar boys- uncovered!

Despite pleadings from the regulars, I feel it is necessary to reveal the high resolution image of my charity stunt. However, I'm going to drag the other eleven down with me as well. So, between now and March next year, I will reveal each Calendar boy in all his pink, hairy glory. (Round Table year runs from April to March due to annual committee elections which you don't want to be doing in December).

I was going to hang on until the dates coincided with real-time, but unfortunately that won't happen until 2031 and as I'll have probably been dead three years by then I think it is only fair that I give the other guys a crack of the whip. April to January are usable in 2008/9, March in 2010 (But February is only 2031 as it is a leap year).

February is a short month of course (which is why I was Mr. February 2004) and you will have forgotten about me when you see March- it is a real Lulu!

(Any Batley Round Tablers who want to persuade me not to put up their pics- Morley Community Radio is looking for sponsors for the next broadcast. It has to be worth at least £100!)

Just to give you a teaser, here is the rear cover.

Another excellent 70s musician

I just found out that Roger Hodgson (of Supertramp fame) is doing six shows in Britain during early October. I've already booked, unsurprisingly.

See more about the tour here.

Best days of your lives?

You Are an Okay Student

You know how to get by school, but your heart isn't always in it.
Motivation is a problem for you. Maybe you need to study something more exciting!

(Answered with my College attitude thirty years ago...)

Hat tip- Thunderdragon.

Green fingers...

...or rather, green stains, chlorophyll hands from the first grass cut of the season. The front is looking OK, the back a little shaggy. It was a dry day, sometimes sunny but a bit chilly with a cold wind.

For the first time I cut the grass with my noise cancelling headphones on & hooked up to my dinky MP3 player. It relieved the monotony no end and I listened to various music tracks and an interesting talk by Brian Micklethwait.

There is a downside to the Bose wonder phones though- you cannot hear the lawn mower! I worked out that I could feel when it was running (& jammed up) from the vibration up the handles.

Another downside is that spouses can sneak up behind you and give you a shock by tapping you on the shoulder...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Calendar Girls

About four years ago I organised (and took part in) a charity Calendar for Batley Round Table. Twelve blokes got their trollies off and protected their modesty with only the tools of their trade.

Meet Mr. February 2004.

In case you are wondering, I'm holding a Buttinski.

(It is deliberately a very low res image, as I have no desire for it to become an unofficial Corporate IT Screensaver!)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing...

My blog is worth $62,099.40.
How much is your blog worth?

Used fivers please...

(Hat tip: Michelle Tempest).

Back in the ring...

Meet Brad. His purpose in life is to get beaten up.

(Brad is the one on the left, by the way!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Country houses

I'm a fan of country houses, both the architecture and the scale.

Just a few junctions up the M1 from us is Temple Newsam, now belonging to Leeds City Council.

It doesn't feel very lived in (unlike Chatsworth or Osterley) because it isn't at present and was a hospital for a period so much of the treasures were lost. However, the conservationists painstakingly preserve and recover this amazing big U-shaped house.

This is a view from the current south wing entrance to the north wing, only the centre floor of which is accessible (but is an enormous picture gallery nearly the full length of the house).

This is the south wing from the ornamental garden, which surprisingly is offset from the symmetry of the building, despite being Capability Brown. (Having said that, the grounds are extensive and roll over the countryside without the nearby motorway being obviously intrusive).

The west wing boasts a cupola, although the bell was in the lobby of the main staircase last year.

Photography was only by prior arrangement, but I did sneak a shot of the secondary stone staircase as I rather liked the geometry.

I also liked this weathercock on the very substantial stable block.

Down on the farm, this building held a surprise:-

It was the former Dovecote and was full of Perches!

The grounds are used extensively for events and one had just finished. There must have been a lot of people there...

(Daddy, are all of those toilets full of Poo?)

Petulant? Moi?

a local politician who should know better is having a go in the local rag. The irony is that she is contradicted by someone else in the previous letter...

for the joys of small town politics amble over to Morleygate.

Wasting time in a fruitless but enjoyable way...

You push the buttons and the contraption transfers water from the Canal to the tank. It then drains back to the Canal!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Death by chocolate...

David already has two eggs, one from each of us.

One of his Grandmas sent him a Fiver for a nice egg. After wanting to buy a £9 one (and being rebuffed by my refusing him an advance on next week's pocket money) he succombed to five £1 ones from the asda.

I'm trying to persuade him to donate some to our eggs for the needy collection at work, but he remains unswayed at the moment.

Good for him!

We'll ration him to one or two a week, so that lot should last through to May day.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The dreaded Council Tax bill arrives!

Our Council tax for 2007/8 has arrived and is a whopping £1,200.05. How is that money justified?

Well, let us delve more deeply into the numbers. First of all, our house is classed as a Band D, which is sort of ordinary. The bands are based on how much the house was worth in 1991, fifteen years ago. Now putting aside how realistic or fair it is to base the value of your house on what you contribute to local taxes (rather than what local services you consume) it does give a profile of people paying different amounts. For Leeds, the ratio is roughly as follows:

A 40.25%
B 20.65%
C 19.1%
D 9.2%
E 5.8%
F 2.8%
G 2.0%
H 0.2%

Now these households pay a ratio of the Band D amount in ninths, as follows:

A - 6/9
B - 7/9
C - 8/9
E - 11/9
F - 13/9
G - 15/9
H - 18/9

There is also a hidden bottom band which used to be called band W but is now referred to as Band A (5/9) where a disabilities discount is granted.

So for a £1,200 bill, the Band A's pay £800 and the Band H's pay £2,400. (Of course there are discounts and benefits to ease the bill for the needy).

So now you know.

The Leeds City Council amount is £1,182.20 and on top of that we pay £17.85 to Morley Town council. (Other Bands follow the ninths formula.)

The Leeds sum includes two specific precepts- for policing (£118.02) and Fire & Rescue (£48.02) so Leeds get to keep £1,016.16.

Expressing it weekly, we pay as follows:

Leeds £19.54
Police £2.27
Fire £0.92
MTC £0.34
TOTAL £23.07

It doesn't sound too much when expressed that way. However, it is grossly misleading as local taxes only make up a small amount of Local Council revenue- most of it comes from Central Government through a series of complex, arcane and readily manipulative (by the government) formulae. This is why larger than inflation increases in local tax don't have the same beneficial effect in Council budgets- the pips are getting squeezed by the men from the Ministry.

This is summarised by Leeds as follows:

Where does the money come from?
Service Specific Government Grants 46%
Fees and charges 14%
Council Tax 13%
Business Rates 13%
Rents 9%
General Government Grant 2%
Other 3%

Where does the money go?
Employees 49%
Supplies and transport 30%
Payment of benefits etc 12%
Paying debt and interest 5%
Premises 4%

These are the actual services:

Let us put this into big numbers context. What is the overall budget of the Council?

£1,848,400,000 (to the nearest hundred thousand pounds).

That is a Gosh number. Nearly TWO BILLION POUNDS, nearly half of which goes on salaries for the 35,000 employees. It makes you think...

Making a splash

David is getting quite good at swimming now. He recently earned his Bronze (after the Leeds Dolphin 1-10 scheme) and is now going onto Silver after Easter.

Today, however, he went to the inflatable session at Morley leisure centre (as well as his regular morning lesson). A huge obstacle course three quarters the length of the pool is provided to bounce over, with a big slide into the deep end. It takes a leap of faith to get onto the thing and if you fall off along the way, you have to rejoin the queue.

We took David's cousin Robert there a long time ago (before David) and it was good to see David be able to navigate it with some difficulty but succeed, much to his personal satisfaction.

There is a school swimming gala on there on Monday and David will be going. He will look like a prune!

Friday, March 23, 2007

That budget speech in full...

18 Doughty Street having a go at Gordon Brown.

If you have a strong stomach, Guido's is even more difficult...

We're going on a bogie hunt!
We're gonna catch a big one!
I'm not afraid!
Are you?
Not me!

Here comes the gate
Now we're on a bogie hunt
We're gonna catch a big one
I'm not afraid
Are you?
Not me!

We're coming to a tall mountain
It sure is high
It sure is wide
Let's climb up it
Well, there's nothing over there
Nothing over there
Nothing back there
Hey! Wait! I think I see something
Quick! Everybody run down!

We're going on a bogie hunt!
We're gonna catch a big one!
I'm not afraid!
Are you?
Not me!

Seconds away- round one!

Last friday, I went with some work colleagues to a nearby Gym at lunchtime in order to work out. (One of them was an Instructor so he had the keys!).

It was a martial arts gym, specifically for Thai Boxing. It had the usual selection of workout machines, a considerable number of punchbags (two of which were on springs so they were very hard to hit), a large floor space- and a boxing ring.

The last time I saw a ring in the flesh was at a holiday camp wrestling night at Great Yarmouth. This was a particularly surreal night as the venue wasn't overly high and the wrestlers had to duck under the dance floor lighting truss as they cavorted around the ring. Also, strangely enough, the wimpiest entertainer managed to thrash the professional wrestlers in a sensational grudge match. Entertainment indeed!

The first time I ever saw a wrestling ring was my first time backstage at Newcastle City Hall, which I have blogged about before. It was erected in the stalls and I helped the custodian (a character named Moose) fit up the traditional four shade ring light which was hoisted into the air via a small winch (that had two hooks with enormous iron balls on them to give them weight), the purpose of which was actually for the original Cinema screen which rolled out from a recess under the stage. As the wire rope drop points weren't in the right place, the ring light was tied into place by ropes attached to the balcony slips handrails. It was plugged in to a stage lighting outlet above the stage (in the large roof void) and consequently it was on a dimmer, so we could fade the four 500 Watt lamps smoothly up and down to top and tail the show. The light fitting had been home made from lengths of conduit (probably by the Council Electricians) and it lived in a basement store front of house next to the bar, where the stage extension framework lived (and the seats that were removed were put as there wasn't really anywhere else for them). I think the ring was brought in for the day and it took several hours to set up, generally by the wrestlers. Even Brian Crabtree used to lend a hand, before he put his Ringmaster's jacket on.

Back at the gym, the ref was electronic- a series of coloured lights and beeps signified the rounds & rests. Another difference was that there were four ropes instead of three but the overhead flood lamps were still there.

I didn't go into the ring (to box), but did put on some gloves and gave the punchbags a good pounding. They all have names now!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cushy Butterfield

Banner seen around Morley-

Huge Wedding dress Sale

What about the petite girls though?

(Cushy Butterfield was a legendary big lass in Newcastle celebrated in song.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Free Museums? No Thanks!

When we visited the waterways museum, they gave us a leaflet about lobbying for free museum entry, funded by the Government. (Details here)

I don't agree with this. We already pay way too much in taxes for things we don't want on the assumption that a small amount from everyone equates to a big pot of money for good causes. Unfortunately, it isn't small amounts any more, it is nearly half of what you own.

They say it will secure financial stability, double visitor numbers and raise waterways to the national importance it deserves alongside coal, rail and maritime, all free to enter.

However, I think this is a cop-out. Getting given a bucket of taxpayer funding will make them complacent and stagnate. Having to work hard to get visitors to pay makes it worthwhile if they succeed. Those who want to come will pay anyway. There are lots of revenue streams related to the Inland Waterways for licensing, mooring fees and the like a lot closer to the interested parties than just all and sundry who happen to pay tax.

There is the risk, of course, that the museum could go bust without the funding. However, what is it that is causing it to be unprofitable, assuming it owns the freeholds? How about salary costs, compliance, health & safety, reluctance of volunteers because of bureaucratic hoops? The Government is the problem, not the solution.

Looking around the collections, it is apparent that the artefacts came together by the enormous efforts of a small band of passionate volunteers. Long may that prosper in all walks of life and I hope I'm doing my small bit to get a few more visitors along.

Roses and castles- Tea for the Tillerman

We managed to make it to the boat museum at Ellesmere Port the day after the Mayor's ball.

This is devoted to inland waterways and paints a fascinating picture of canal life over the last four hundred years. We learned who Toe-rags were, what Winding was, how horses could cross over the canal without unhitching and how it wasn't just Romans who had Aquaducts. We also had the chance to go on several vintage narrowboats as well as take a short cruise along the Shropshire Union Canal. There was also the chance to have a nice healthy lunch in their Restaurant (with Costa Coffee) and to make a home made string telephone as part of a science exhibition.

The museum is one of three devoted to Canals in Britain, the other two being in Gloucester and Towcester. Enjoy the snaps...

Monday, March 19, 2007


I rather enjoy the company of unusual people with two caveats- that they aren't nasty (or violent) and they aren't boring. Otherwise I'm pretty tolerant of all sorts of oddballs, whether whacko or just eccentric.

Karen will confirm that I'm still in touch with a few of them, particularly Cinema anoraks (architectural train spotters). There is something about the Telecoms industry that attracts obsessive people and many BT (& other) engineers would qualify as Asperger's Syndrome sufferers, a mild form of autism.

Now there is someone we see occasionally that sooner or later I will be on first name terms with. He is the oldest paperboy in town and is certainly getting on a bit. (You don't see many paperboys with beards and flat caps). Most of the time we see him ambling round the streets thoughtfully with occasional glances at his watch. However, one day when we were driving past, he looked at his watch then burst into a brief gallop and went back to his shuffling gait after a few steps. Both David and myself burst out laughing because it looked so ridiculous but I immediately had to discuss why it was inappropriate to to do because he may have been challenged in some way.

Despite this, he rapidly became nicknamed "Ernie" as in the fastest milkman in the west.

Now it just so happens that he was passing my front door the other day as I came out of the house. Our eyes met and I thought I'd better say something. The conversation went like this...

Me: "Good Afternoon."


Now, it was a friendly noise, but a rather odd one. I've decided that I like him...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mental health

People who are not quite right are familiar to all of us, often related to travelling on public transport. Whether it is Jasper Carrott's nutter on the bus or Alexei Sayle's Do you like Sponge?, odd behaviour in social situations is awkward, particularly when children start asking straight questions (like why does that man keep shouting and sucking his thumb?).

Mental health is not an on/off thing- it is a continuum where the middle ground is not clearly defined. Some are born that way, some reach their development limits at a certain age and others drift into (and hopefully out of) it due to problems in life.

When I went on the Outward Bound City Challenge course, we had a stint in a mental hospital. Our first exposure was a big disco with all the City Challengers in the social hall when we met some of the more outgoing and entertaining residents. The sadder part was later that week when we found out how many were behind closed doors rocking their way through the day in anxiety, bewilderment or indifference. Of course, many of these were born that way (effectively brain or nervous system damage, although it is politely called special needs now).

Towards the end of our placement, one of the staff showed me the old patient records of some of the particular no-hopers who were never going to change. The medical terms were rather shocking, as they were common terms of abuse in the late 70s- This man is an imbecile, this woman is a cretin, this child is a retard. The staff member explained that they were all clearly defined, but such terms had now been retired from current use as they were regarded as offensive. However, she said that the newer system obfuscated the previous clarity in the name of PC (although that term wasn't quite in general use then).

At the hospital, apart from the disposessed who would never leave, we only really met long term mental health people who were being helped to cope if they were up to it in controlled circumstances (open wards, half way houses etc.) The others, we met in the hospice, the Geriatric Hospital, at home with carers, at the Sally Army shelter, at the Cyrenians (for the real bottom of the barrel vagrants who even Social Services gave up on).

We all aspire to the peak of Maslow's triangle but sometimes we slip down the slopes. How easy is it for regular people to develop mental health problems? All too easy. Stress, pressure, money problems, bereavement, rejection and being unable to cope can lead to being miserable and ultimately to depression. I have known people describe it to me as like a slow, relentless quicksand, pulling hope deeper and deeper down into the mire.

The first stage to recovery (as in many things) is in recognising the condition for what it is rather than denial or avoidance. One such blogger who has done exactly that is Tony from Cynical Chatter from the underworld. Tony has been blogging for about eighteen months and rose to the giddy heights of being an Iain Dale "A List" member with his insightful posts interspered with odd stuff about his whip obsession.
However, he came out about his struggle mid-February and despite lots of supportive posts, he has yet to post again.

I know how he feels, of course, and many of us will also. As soon as we go public with any big issue that rocks the boat, our few real friends are very supportive but the fair weather ones carefully edge away from us and go horribly quiet.

Keep your chin up Tony, we wish you well and look forward to you getting back online again.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Red Nose Day- Nick's Number One Haircut

(They are laughing at a little ponytail bit round the back still to go)

It's for charideee...

Today is Red Nose Day in the UK.

David wore baggy red clothes and bought some buns at school.

Karen didn't do anything specific as she is in a role where it isn't really possible.

I dressed down (my old favourite Eeyore T Shirt) and sponsored a couple of people to take part in stuff. I've also been tipping copper into a bucket for weeks now.

The first event was an inter-departmental one- a bun eating contest. The entrants had to eat as many as possible in five minutes.

The winner (with 22, a massive lead over the others) is at the far end of the table. He rushed off looking rather nauseous at the end and is reputed to have made call on the great white telephone as he was heard to be shouting for his friends Huey and Ralph.

The other event was Nick, who had agreed to have his head shaved if we sponsored him. We'd been bantering all week, as he normally has spiky hair.

Here he is complaining about how much it tickled!

I have a short video of Nick bubbling away over at YouTube, I'll post it up when it is cooked.

Police guide to Chav-speak

I came across this amusing post at Visions of Bradford.

It is a northern tweak of someone else's southern version but it still brought a wry smile as I occasionally meet people who talk like this.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Victorian Piles...

I've just spent the last three working days in the Great Victoria Hotel in Bradford, built as the Great Northern Victoria for the railway (GNR). It is owned by a private small chain, that also owns the Woodlands near Morley (and a third near Sheffield). You can go for a virtual tour here- click the red spot above the entrance on the photo to enter the lobby and click on the doorway to the right to enter the room I now know rather well. (I nicknamed the art piece Jackson Pollock's Dysentry).

The Great Victoria is a 19th Century station hotel in a style repeated around Britain in the larger towns and Cities during the Industrial revolution. It has been tastefully refurbished with a juxtaposition of designer furniture and modern art. The blurb speaks of relaxing surrounded by a persuasive blend of urban chic and Victorian grandeur.

It didn't strike me as too grand but it is rather elegant with lofty ceilings and subdued ornate pilasters atop the decorative plasterwork. After three days there, though, you start to notice the metaphorical coffee stains such as the cracked & peeling plaster, the faulty air conditioner and all of the faulty lamps in the light fittings.

The food was rather good, although I'm easing off on my consumption at the moment as I could do with being able to fit into quite a few tight trousers in the wardrobe. I took a snap of these mini-burgers today- they are really tiny at about two inches high (very tasty though).

The outside of the Hotel is pleasantly symmetrically formed, apart from a hideous cast iron emergency staircase sticking out like an eyesore. The hotel faces the (contemporary) law courts building on a public square so it is not as though it is down a back lane.

This shed-like structure at roof level particularly grates to this pair of eyes.

The nicest Hotel I ever stayed in was the Doha Sheraton in Qutar. The worst depends on the context, I suppose. Blackpool ones with clapped out matresses, the one in Manchester that took in DSS and had holes kicked in the doors, the luxury themed suite at Alton Towers where an early night was out of the question because of the noise of the lobby cabaret below, the Hotel I stayed in at Coventry for my first interview where they had rubber sheets...

I notice that this other website for the Hotel chain owners has the staircase much more low key. Either the lower levels have been airbrushed out or they have had to add extra exit routes since then.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Food glorious food

In our house, Karen mostly cooks, and I do everything else.*

Every now and then, SheWhoMustBeObeyed needs to be at an evening event or is on a brief stay away. On these occasions where I have had to reluctantly grant her a pass out, I need to be able to prepare my own food.

My Mum was a good cook. She used to make these lovely little pizzas with anchovies on the top and she could make a Vesta Chow Mein look like it had... er... come from admittedly well presented dehydrated ingredients.

My Gran was an excellent cook, or more accurately, she was an excellent boiler. She could sublime vegetables into slurry after 4-5 hours in the pressure cooker. The consequence of this was that everything had a similar constituency and we needed a lot of serving spoons.

Cabbage? Gloop. Carrots? Gloop. Potatoes? Gloop. Beef? Gloop.

I can cook when required, but don't particularly enjoy it. I'm actually quite squeamish about eating food that has obviously come from a carcass- i.e. with bones, fat, sinew and those horrible little tubes that stick out at silly angles implying that this protein used to be self-sustaining. My idea of a Sunday Joint is something that has been shredded into slurry and squashed together again into a nondescript shape at high pressure by Bernard Matthews.

There are, however, people who love to Cook, and Welshcakes Limoncello is one of them. She upped sticks and moved to Sicily in her mid-fifties and has been blogging about life there ever since last April. Her output is well written, informative and entertaining reflecting her strong teaching skills as a former (or is it?) linguist in education. She is an entertaining read has a strong following.

Welshcakes also enjoys sharing photos of her food. Whilst I would struggle to compete with her capabilities and flair, I do offer one of my culinary creations to savour.

I call it Piccate speziato saporito cane da caccia salsicca

*apart from washing, ironing, putting away, sewing, gardening, cleaning out the guinea pig, making the beds, hoovering, dusting, attending to the water rooms and paying attention when she is talking. As I am a man I am obviously useless at these things.

I do a bit of D.I.Y. but draw the line at fixing carrier bags as I'm not an Engineer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Testing my new Camera

I recently bought a Kodak V705. It is actually small enough to slip into a pocket. It is also unusual in that it has two lenses- a regular zoom one (giving 39mm to 117mm) and an ultra-wide angle 23mm one. As I enjoy taking pictures of interesting buildings (particularly Theatres andCinemas), I thought I'd nip into town and try it out. I have to say that I'm very impressed, here are the results.

Our proudest civic asset is the Town Hall, opened in 1895 and now used by Morley Town Council.It is a Grade One listed building and the clock tower stands proudly 160 feet above the Town. This is ultra-wide angle mode (23mm equivalent)from directly opposite at street level.

This is widest on the normal lens, 39mm. This imposing Colonnade leads to the ceremonial entrance.

I've zoomed in to about 50mm. The pediment is graced by an entablature of Morley life from the 19th Century. It apparently includes Morley Train tunnel, although it is difficult to spot. let us examine it closer.

This is now at about 100mm. The individual figures can now be made out although we would get much finer detail with a monopod as it is a rather overcast day so the exposure time is overly long. Let us go to the full zoom range, 117mm.

Wow, that is impressive, detail I've never really noticed before. The carvings are an unexpected juxtaposition of nature amongst the man-made trades of mining, weaving and Engineering. (Allegorical, perhaps?). Well, from the road test I'm happy with it, although automatic settings result in some graininess and digital artifacts at lower light levels. I've now realised that exposure correction can be useful where lighting conditions have particular high light/shade contrast.A cautious but satisfied 7.5 out of 10 from me.

Shaggy Blog Stories

There is an interesting idea for raising money to Comic relief by contributing a funny blogpost towards a rapidly published book. This might be an opportunity for Blogpowerers to dig up something witty from their own archives.

The book will be called Shaggy Blog Stories: a collection of amusing tales from the UK blogosphere.

I'm a bit too (non-im)partial to pick one of my own posts as I feel that enjoyment of Shades requires a certain familiarity with my style, opinions and whackiness to pick up the humour. I'm also snowed under with work this week...

However, if anyone wants to suggest a post of mine that they regard as funny in its own right, I'd be delighted (and rather chuffed) to submit it for possible inclusion.

You can find out more about it here.

Before the brown stuff starts hitting the fan...

Posts will be light this week, I'm busy with work and Morleygate Matters.


Working in both IT and Telecommunications, the sight of an article entitled Call goes out for open source Teledildonics work caught my eye.

My first rather flippant thought was that this must be harnessing technology for the rather lonely hobby of onanism.

Surprisingly, I was right.

Hat tip: The Register, home of my weekly chuckle, The Bastard Operator from Hell

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sleeping Beauties

Ten times week, I pass the mouldering wreck that used to be the Bradford Odeon, or more accurately, the New Victoria.

There have been all sorts of shenanigans about this building and I have often wondered what state it is now like inside.

Well, some Urban explorers have sneaked in and sneaked out again after taking lots of photos. You can see them here.

Remarkably, it looks pretty much like the day after it was closed to the public.

More on the campaign to wake Vicky up again here. Be sure to go through all the pages as there are some other great shots of the place in its heyday. (A 76 year old swinger!)

That made my day...

I turned on the telly earlier on to catch the Teletext. (Yes I still use Teletext, sometimes the PC takes a while to boot up!) Whilst I was making a cup of Coffee, I suddenly heard a familiar name mentioned in the background- that of my Best Man. (My only Best man, I've only been married once). I wandered through, went back to picture, and there was my old mate doing strange things with giant pots.

I immediately reached for my Mobile to give him a ring- it is a long standing tradition that I have to try and catch him out live if I spot him on the box but of course I never do as he is too much of a consummate professional these days to fall for that. (or, more likely, he pays people to take care of it).

However, after I had finished taunting his voicemail, I noticed that he was talking to Richard and Judy. (Actually, it was Fern Britton and Philip Schofield but why let facts get in the way of a good story?) As I watched, he picked up a potted palm and said-

"Look at the nuts on that!"

at which point Fern said "so to speak" and Philip pulled a face as though he had just discovered (with some discomfort) where Gordon the Gopher had been hiding all these years.

Enough of this PC stuff- we want to hear about Lionel Blair stroking your leg!

I'm very conscious that Blogpowerers are probably thinking that I have turned into a political obsessive one-dimensional rabid fruitloop with all of this Morleygate business.

I'm pleased to report that I am moving all further local politics shenanigans into a companion blog as I am well aware that we don't want dirty tricks spilling over into our jolly comment fields in amongst the banter, thoughtful contribution and willie jokes.

So, to finish off, here are the final three Dan Browne PC purging points.

8. Don't do guilt by association. Judge people by what they are in themselves, not by their tenuous links to others.

9. Don't do zero tolerance. Humanity is not black and white, but many shades of grey. Thinking in absolutes is not thinking at all.

10. Don't indulge in self-loathing. If you thinks you should be proud of yourself, and your culture, then be so. Coming from a dominant culture doesn't make you bad.

Morleygate can be found in the other place.

Normal service has now been resumed. Now... where is that photo of me with a toilet on my head?

You Can Call Me Al

As I grow older disgracefully, I seem to be having rather a lot of "senior moments".

This has reached a point where David and Karen will refer to me as "curly hair- brushes his teeth".

Thankfully, the symptoms of Alzheimers are also the symptoms of middle age and I've always been a bit absent minded about things that are unimportant. (I was known as Prof at school and probably not just for my interest in science.)

I have always had a scarily sharp mind for attention to detail, however, it is getting duller as now I find that what used to be immediate insights into something being clear are now just distant quiet feelings of it being not quite right.

I think blogging is cathartic for this, as it is a handy way of putting down memories before they become to distorted by time and faulty recollection.

In the meantime, the family can call me Al...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Do you kiss your children with that potty-mouth?

Karen pointed out to me today that I had swore in front of two people I hardly knew at the Mayor's Ball last night.

The person was Widow Twanky who Karen recognised from the Morley Operatic performance of Aladdin last month.

I have to admit that I hadn't recognised her- my reasoning for this was that as she had grown a beard and decided to give up the Dame look to become the butch one in a lesbian relationship she was no longer quite so obvious.

Anyway, Karen suggested I go and check if I didn't believe her so I did and we were still chatting away merrily fourty minutes later when everyone else had gone home apart from the Caterers.

Anyway, our conversations were wide ranging on the theme of entertainment and I did try very hard to get them to buy the Morley Pavilion to turn it back into a live theatre, but unfortunately their society isn't quite that flush. (Indeed they seem to be behind in their account submissions, oh dear...)

Anyway, as well as me trying to sell them the idea of a community theatre, they were trying to sell me the idea of getting involved. I touched on my previous experiences, including my joining a very well known Am-Dram that was so disorganised that I'd moved away by the time they got round to contacting me. It was at that point that I used the term Fuckwitts.

in my defence, I used it as an adjective rather than a noun as part of an amusing story, and I also had the mitigating factor of having had a small tincture earlier in the evening (or as Karen put it- three shits to the wind).

Now I always know when i've had enough to drink- because I fall over, throw up and hit a policeman. (BUM BUM Tish!- copyright Alexei Sayle).

More seriously, I am conscious that I will occasinally profane in this blog. My view of this is that swearing isn't big or clever- unless done with impeccable comic timing. The Web is for consenting adults, however certain words can get blocked by content technology used by businesses and I don't want my reader to not be able to drop in over his lunchtime sandwiches from work because his office websweeper doesn't approve of my content.

To get round this, I will be tempering my language and introducing a dictionary section into the sidebar, similar in concept to the Viz Profanisaurus (but obviously nothing like it at all, for legal reasons).

I'd quite like a witty name for the swearing list that will enable me to retire after I flog off the copyright to Harry Hill and welcome suggestions from the commentariat below.

Go on, you know you want to.


Damn, it just slipped out. that'll be me blocked in the U.S. Bible Belt now...

The swindle... now online at Google Videos. The Media may be strangely silent on the matter but the Blogosphere will spread it where the papers fear to tread.

There are already 920 comments on Little Green Footballs although I haven't studied them.

Hat tip samizdata.

The election has started...

First pre-election flyer through the door today.

As is traditional, I will be Fisking what I receive as time permits.

More PC purging

6 Don't do cultural relativism: stick to a level playing field, and judge everyone by the same ethical standards. Just because someone is a "victim" or a "minority" doesn't excuse unethical behaviour that you wouldn't accept in an "oppressor" or a "majority".

7 Don't feel guilty for something you are not responsible for: if you weren't responsible for it, you can't be guilty. Visiting the sins of the fathers on the sons is a contravention of the UN convention on Human Rights.

A rant about raffles

Raffles are strange beasts. At social occasions, there are frequently far too many prizes and the process is often poorly planned. Consequently, the draw takes far too long, the punters get restless and it dampens the atmosphere of the proceedings.

Another thing that needs to be considered is the psychology of the punter. (I use the word punter accurately here, as a raffle is a form of wager and a punter is a UK colloquialism for either a Customer of a business or a gambler).

Raffles are nearly always for fund raising, sometimes charities, sometimes simply to bolster funds. However, the organisers often think that people will blithely hand over their money because it is for a good cause, when the truth is much more complex than that. Some people are too mean, opposed to gambling, uncomfortable with the cause or just plain disinterested to buy raffle tickets at all. Others will happily hand over a sum they are comfortable with and aren't too bothered how many tickets they end up with. Others will be influenced by the perceived value of the prizes and the chance they have of winning.

A cardinal sin at this point (in the Grey value system) is to sell strips of five then not actually seperate them in the tombola drum. This way, the punter feels cheated- they assume that they have five chances and could possibly win five prizes but the reality is that they only have one chance.

Another cardinal sin is not widely appreciated in the UK- it is illegal to offer volume discounts, i.e. 25p a ticket, £1 a strip of five. (Raffles will come under the Gambling Act 2005 as of 1st September this year & partially from last month, whatever that means. The rules now look much more complex!)

Society lotteries have a permissible maximum ticket price of £2 and many assume that this is the best price to set. (This is what happened last night, £2 a ticket, £10 a strip).

However, this isn't true in practice. Many people who are otherwise prepared to give a Fiver, decide to buy two tickets, so the raffle only gets £4. (Some will simply hand the fiver over anyway though). When you only get one bit of paper for your £2 coin, you pay much more attention to what the prizes are. Then you get awkward people like the Greys who say sod-it on principle and don't buy any at all, no matter how noble the cause. (This is much more honest than sneaking off to the bar or the toilets when the collectors come round to your table).

Raffle tickets are really, really, cheap. The best approach is to make the ticket price low as well, say 50p a strip. You maximise the sales and all it has cost you is a bit more time in dealing with more tickets into the tombola drum.

I once saw something rather amusing happen on-stage at a raffle during a Football benefit show at Newcastle City Hall. Jasper Carrott was the Star Turn and when he was asked to draw the raffle, he did the unexpected. He dipped his hand in the box, threw a couple of handfuls of tickets on the floor rather camply, scooped another handful up, threw them up into the air and grabbed one of them fluttering down to hand to the announcer. When some others panicked and started to crawl on the floor, he casually said "don't worry about those ones lads, they haven't won..."

Now this was a bit of a shock, but on reflection, it did make sense and was very, very funny. It is the job of the organisers to ensure every ticket gets into the drum at the start. The ones removed and abandoned are actually no worse than the ones left in the drum after the prizes have gone. No-one knew whether their tickets were in the drum or on the floor so it made no difference.

I've always fancied pulling this particular stunt myself but have never had the bottle to do so, or if I have been up for it, I have sensed that the mood of the audience wasn't right at the time. One day, though, it will happen. Whether it would get a big woof or go down like a lead balloon I don't know, but I'll blog about it when it happens!

I have in my wallet a piece of paper...

...which I took to the Mayor's Ball last night but had no reason to unfold.

It is page eight of the Morley Town Council current Standing Orders, Standing Order number 31.

At the end of any speech a member may, without comment, move “that the question now be put”, “that the debate now be adjourned” or “that the Council now do adjourn”. If such motion is seconded the Town Mayor shall put the motion but, in the case of a motion “to put the question”, only if he is of the opinion that the question before the Council has been sufficiently debated. If the motion “that the question now be put” is carried, he shall call upon the mover to exercise or waive his right of reply and shall put the question immediately after that right has been exercised or waived. The adjournment of a debate or of the Council shall not prejudice the mover’s right of reply at the resumption.

(Note: Where a meeting is adjourned the subsequent proceedings are part of the original meeting and no new notices or agendas need to be issued except a notification to members not present of the date of the continuation of the meeting.)

The language is rather arcane but note the bit I have emphasised. If the Chairman of the meeting has colluded in the move towards stifling debate at meetings behind closed doors rather than genuinely believing that the motion has been sufficiently debated, then he is not chairing the meeting impartially and is probably guilty of misconduct.

If, on the other hand, he thinks the motion has been sufficiently debated after 71 seconds of comments and with a Councillor still wishing to make a speech, he is probably guilty of a serious error of judgement.

On the other, other hand, he may have simply forgotten that he had this authority in which case he is guilty of being rather unlucky...

If you haven't got a clue what this post is about, type "Morleygate" into the search box at the top left.

Phoneyness in contemporary culture

Like all bloggers, I am curious as to who stops on by and what it was that interested them on my site (if anything). Mybloglog recent readers is useful in this regard and just now, I noticed a new face in the box. Mediocracy is the name of the visitor's blog and the strapline is the article title above.

I thought I'd share this postof his on Consultation

How very odd...

Whilst putting away my Dinner Jacket towards the back of the wardrobe, I checked my pockets as I knew I had a couple of spare camera batteries there.

I also pulled out a leaflet for the main band last night, a four-piece called Savannah. (I'd link to them, but the given Website URL is broken).

The Band has two female vocalists, a male keyboards player and a male percussionist. All four of them sing.

Whilst we were on the dance floor, one of them introduced a song and became momentarily nonplussed as he admitted he couldn't remember what key it was in, but they just got on with it anyway. However, it was the drummer wot said it! I did go and have a look at his kit to try and work out how he told it what key he was going to drum in.

Now, his drums were electronics, so it is possible that they could be tuned to presets on the fly between songs. Ringo Starr never had that problem though!


More on purging PC from The Retreat of Reason..

4 Stick to rational, evidence-based arguments, not discussions of emotionally difficult cases.

5 Feel compassion for "victims", but don't defer to them. If their victimhood is self-inflicted, deferring to them will only entrench their victimhood, rather than help them.

Having a Ball

Mayor Bob hosted a cracking event in Morley Town Hall last evening, to a sell-out and appreciative audience.

The evening started with a candlelit Champagne reception in the Civic Suite and guests arriving by Taxi or approaching from Queen Street had the rare treat of being able to ascend the stone steps to the portico and enter through the ceremonial entrance.

The room had been dressed up for the occasion with balloons on the tables and four large figurines dressing the stage. You can just about see them in this photo below which was taken whilst people were still taking their places before the announcement of the Mayor's party.

It was a black tie do, which means Dinner-jackets and ballgowns. I translated this to someone beforehand as "Bow Ties and posh frocks" but he must have misunderstood me as I failed to impress on him that the Posh Frocks only needed to apply to the ladies...

The event stopped at Midnight. As we were finishing our drinks, someone snaffled one of the table programmes, gave us a wink and said he would add it to his collection. He then dug out old ones from 1974 and 1961!

I took some snapshots and here is the ticket for the 1974 version, the last event of Morley Borough Council. Note the ticket price- also he informed us that it was a free bar all evening but that is another story...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Silly signs...

As seen in a Morley Butcher today:

"All pies must be served with tongs."

I prefer peas myself!

PC Cold turkey

More steps on how to eradicate the PC devils from within:

2.Be open to self-criticism, and criticism from others.

3. Don't psychologise those you disagree with: judge what they say at face value, rather than believing there are hidden, dark motives that entitle you to dismiss what they say without thinking about it.

Oops- can I have a dispensation for politicians with step four ;->

Hat tip: Civitas

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

I've watched about twenty minutes of it so far. I've been a skeptic ever since people who expressed doubts started to become pilloried as it had all the classic symptoms of PC- death to the heretic.

When Bjorn Lomborg changed his green views and the ad hominem attacks started I knew that there was more to this than meets the eye.

It strikes me that if it is a big swindle (and the indications are strong that it is) then our MP Colin Challen is going to look a bit of a fool.

(When searching for the phrase Fool and Colin Challen together in Google just to see if anyone already thought he was one, I found something very foolish about American High School Puritanism, worth a look.)

Purging without laxatives

A guide to purging the political correctness within is the epilogue to The retreat of Reason, some chapters of which are available online.

The author makes ten points which he sources as being originally from the essay of an American philosepher, Sidney Hook. Hook also said:

The cardinal sin, when we are looking for truth of fact or wisdom of policy, is refusal to discuss, or action which blocks discussion.

Does that remind you of some recent posts?Repent, Morley Town Council, repent!

Here is Anthony Browne's first suggestion for the purge.

1. When you say something in public, ask yourself are you saying it because it is politically correct, or because you know it to be factually correct? Are you choosing intellectual laziness over emotional discomfort?

Blogpower review number one- An insomniac

As part of that loose collective called Blogpower, we are encouraged to review other participant sites, so here goes.

In deciding which ones to choose, I had a dilemma. Blogpower is a broad church and there are some that leave me cold because they talk about stuff that goes over my head such as religion and Classics. If you click on the RSS feed button to the right, you will find An Insomniac all by itself under the left of centre subset.

Now many people assume I am a Tory Boy. I'm not, I believe in both personal and economic freedom. Torys generally are big on economic freedom but are all too keen to interfere in how we live our lives (although there are Libertarian Tories around, if they haven't defected to UKIP).

Traditional Labour, however, believe in freedom of the individual, but want to control the economy on the basis that business is evil.

NeuArbeit, as we know, is big on personal and economic lack of freedom with all of their authoritarian ways. They disguise it by appearing to be big on personal choice (drugs, sex lifestyle, civil partnerships etc.) but they give the game away with ID cards, surveillence, bans on smoking, foxhunting and punitive taxation.

An Insomniac is written by Matt Murell and we don't immediately know too much about him other than he may have a beard and spiky hair. Rooting through the blog archive, he reveals that he is an English Grad, a libertarian left and an atheist. I'm fine with that, I put up with practically everything apart from ignorance, malice and boredom.

His posts are well structured (you'd expect that from an English Graduate!), his topics are broad and he gets good comments, always the sign of a good blog. However, he had a bit of trouble with Blogspot, that classified his content last year as spam-can be recognised by their irrelevant, repetitive or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.

I hope he has got over this unfounded automatic insult!

lucky stars

One day, the real video featuring the very talented Denise Marsa will appear on YouTube. In the meantime, here is a silly spoof with that song.

herbie hancock's rockit

I heard a snippet of this tune on the Simpsons tonight. I suddenly remembered it had a very strange robotic video that I had only ever seen once. Here it is again, nearly everything is on the Interweb these days!

Morleygate update

The Morley Observer & Advertiser have been on the phone, asking if I would mind if they turned my letter into an article as it was a bit too long for the letters page. (They normally attend Full Council but Erica the reporter couldn't make it this time.)

I'd be delighted, I said. I look forward to Wednesday's paper with interest...

We have the Mayor's Ball tomorrow night, it will be interesting to see if news has spread about the cat loose amongst the pidgeons.

I make a great friend but a terrible enemy!

Light the blue touchpaper...

I have composed a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about Morleygate. It will appear on Wednesday if the Editor chooses it for publication.

I have enhanced it slightly here by embedding Hypertext links. I believe it is self-explanatory...

Although I am a Town Councillor, I generally refrain from joining in with the tedious party-political tittle-tattle that graces your letters pages. However, on this occasion, I feel the need to speak out.

I regard myself as a libertarian, a value system based on freedom, liberty and property, the basis of the American Constitution. (This is also often known as Classical Liberal in the UK). A year or two back, I read a book called "The retreat of reason" which argued against what it described as "Political correctness and corruption of public debate in modern Britain". I am disappointed to have to report that Morley Town Council appears to have fallen victim to this insidious creeping doctrine that demonises non-believers and stifles freedom of expression.

Last Wednesday at full Council, I realised with a shock how PC we had become. During the meeting, two Councillors were challenged for their choice of innocuous phrases during discussions, where the challenger had chosen to take offence at perceived slights to others unspecified. This is classic PC- attack the heretics for what you think they are rather than what they say.

The climax of this virtuous PC vacuum was the debate on Colin Challen's "Morley Together" campaign, which I understand from your pages includes some sort of pledge. The Motion was submitted without any supporting paperwork saying what we were actually signing up to, proposed without even mentioning what Morley Together was about, debated for one minute eleven seconds and then curtailed by a move to the vote. (This is procedural motion intended for the purposes of speeding up turgid long-winded debates where the arguments are becoming circular. In layman's terms, a move to the vote means "We have heard enough, let us vote on it now rather than talk further.")

When this happened I was absolutely incredulous. I was just about to speak and made it clear that I still wished to do so. Council, however, preferred to move to the vote and the motion was quickly passed with a majority. I personally voted against- not because of the sentiments of Morley Together but because what I considered to be a seriously flawed and contradictory Motion was rushed through with inadequate debate by a herd mentality.

I am genuinely of the opinion that the Council has brought itself into disrepute. It didn't do anything wrong legally but has exposed itself as morally weak by this rather shabby behaviour. My colleagues who voted to curtail discussion should reflect on their actions which I regard as no less than shameful. I shudder to think what members of the public present that night thought of this new low in local democracy and suspect that some of them wouldn't trust some of us to sit on a toilet the right way round...
I decided a while back not to re-stand for Morley Town Council and was naturally disappointed to not have had the opportunity to make my Valedictory speech. However, I will put it on my online Blog in due course.

Finally, I'd like to thank the people of Morley who have contacted me on Council business over the last three years and hope that my small efforts to assist were helpful. It has been a pleasure to serve the Town and it is such a shame that it had to end this way.

Cllr. Ian Grey

Thursday, March 08, 2007


The reason I was so grumpy last night was that I was denied an opportunity to speak on a resolution by what I regarded as a rather untimely move to the vote after minimal discussion. I made it perfectly clear that I wished to speak but the majority of councillors voted in order to prevent me doing so.

The motion was carried with I believe two against- I voted against it because I regarded the motion as seriously flawed, contradictory, inadequately documented, inadequately proposed and hastily disposed of. It also would have been my valedictory speech and I had prepared a real humdinger.

On reflection after a night's sleep, I don't think the rebuttal was aimed at me personally. I imagine the decision to rush to the vote had been made behind closed doors and some of the participants were too foolish to realise that their actions backfired rather spectacularly to the public as it would have looked as though they were trying to freeze me out.

I was ready to resign in disgust last night but Mayor Bob persuaded me to sleep on it. Normally, in the cold light of dawn, the fancy plans of retribution made mentally in the early hours look somewhat over the top but I woke up this morning still angry.

There is an obligation on all Councillors to report any breaches of the Code of Conduct so I carefully read the documentation to see if this had been the case.

Had I been treated with respect? Not in my opinion, no.
Had the council brought itself into disrepute? Probably, in the eyes of the general public present.

As I waded through the turgid website, I realised what a particularly unpleasant quango the Standards Board is, how long-winded their procedures were and how much I don't actually like what they stand for. (It has become a party political pillowcase to include in the armoury of childish point scoring).

Eventually, I found an escape clause- they cannot investigate complaints about the way in which the authority conducts and records its meetings.

At this point, I felt relieved, I didn't have to report anyone at all. I still feel like a bear with a sore head though!

Eight weeks before I'm no longer a Councillor. I can then speak a lot more openly...

Tonight on telly:

Channel 4, 9pm: The great global warming swindle

Watch it before the man-made climate change denial laws get introduced...

Settings tweak...

Comments no longer open in a pop-up window. it shouldn't make a great deal of difference.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Only a brief post tonight

I've not long been back from a rather disappointing Town Council Meeting.

I'll blog further after sleeping on it, as they say.

Mentioned in dispatches...

I was surprised to see my name mentioned here on UKIPhome, an unofficial site of the supposedly libertarian fringe of the UK Independence Party.

I haven't entirely made my mind up about UKIP yet- if their views lined up with the home site they would be very plausible but political parties are never as straight-forward as that. I have to say though, that if there was a credible candidate in Morley, I'd probably vote for him. (or maybe one of the various the "none of the above" parties, there are a few around...)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It shouldn't be allowed...

Our Town Mayor, Mayor Bob, has announced recently that he is intending to stand for election as a City Councillor. Since then, there have been letters in the Morley Obtiser suggesting that this is unprecedented and that he should stand down & let the deputy Mayor fill in for him. The suggestion is that as the first Citizen of Morley, he is in a position to obtain the electoral equivalent of pecuniary advantage by being so well known etc.

Excuse me? Bob is a pillar of the community, a well respected retired head teacher, a Justice of the Peace and a man with integrity in his blood. He isn't some sleazy party politician and others shouldn't judge him on their own low standards.

Let us look it this slightly more objectively. Despite all the hype of Morley Mayorship, behind the fancy chains and colourful robes the role is simply the Chairman of Morley Parish Council, a minor authority that has chosen to use the words Town and Mayor as they sound a lot better and hark back to the glory years before 1974 when Morley was proud of what it had become. All Town Councillors finish their term of office on May 3rd, as do two of the Morley Councillors on Leeds City Council. The hustings haven't opened yet so it is by no means certain who will manage to fill their forms in correctly, let alone get elected.

It is now widely known by those interested in Morley local politics (probably about fifty people!) that I have decided not to stand for re-election on the Town Council. I won't comment on this too much whilst I am still a Member because the standards in public life rules are rather overbearing. This is the standard stitch-up when the parties play politics as vexatious litigants:

Allegation: A member failed to treat others with respect, brought his office or authority into disrepute, misused the authority’s resources, failed to declare personal interests, failed to withdraw from meetings when matters in which he had prejudicial interests were discussed and improperly sought to influence decisions on the matters.

Often followed by:

SBE Outcome: The Ethical Standards Officer found that no action needs to be taken.

Don't believe me? Surf the Standards Board for England!

This song gets in your head!

She sang Jazz in the 50’s,
wrote songs in the 60’s
and acted in 75.
When she crashed in Paris
and died for a minute
she was full of herself
and full of the future.

And she was beautiful.
She was radiant but broken.
For she knew her soul had gone ahead
to hold the right door open.

Oh, she kept on singin’
and dancin’ and ringin’
the same bells that she rang before
but she wasn’t looking for beauty now
she was lookin’ for the door.
And we all looked for it in darkness together
and we looked for it in light
and we looked for it in worlds that
only existed at night.

Then one day she went to pieces
with the whole world lookin’ on
and now she’s just another loser

So the world kept turnin’
and we got into learnin’
how to be all grown up and tough
and we all turned into doctors
and lawyers and stuff.
But it was good to know she was out there
being free for everyone
while someone bad was dreaming up

She was beautiful.
She was radiant but broken.
For she knew her soul had gone ahead
to hold the right door open.

Now she’s back in the business
with a smaller apartment
and a whole new set of dreams
and a small time agent who’s
guaranteeing to get her face
on a million screens.
So she went to a few auditions
but she couldn’t get a part.
They were always after a younger woman
someone full of herself
and full of the future.

But this weird little kid he kept coming around
and banging on her door sayin’
“Lady I work for this web site
I know you’d be perfect for.
But they won’t care about your redemption
and they don’t allow wounds to heal.
The customers like you broken.
It’s a take it or leave it deal.”

Now she lies in the shadows
and dies for the camera
and she’ll do what you want her to do
whilst tryin’ to hang onto
the memory of a young girl
so full of herself
and full of the future.

And she was beautiful.
She was radiant but broken
‘cause she knew her soul was up ahead
holding the right door open.

So she filled her room with flowers
and she wrote to everyone
but she never said a single word
She said she was living in India
where the air was clear and still
and every soul’s got a private door
that you can pass through at will.

Then she took down all her mirrors
and broke ‘em one by one
while I was busy getting rich

And her heart was achin’
her hands were shakin’
and she knew her soul was out there waitin’.
So with the whole world lookin’ on
she put a shotgun in her mouth

And she was beautiful.
She was beautiful.
She was beautiful.
Oh so beautiful.
She was beautiful.
She was beautiful.
She was beautiful.

© Godley / Gouldman

Hear a snip here then buy it!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Devil of the North...

Marital disharmony

My new tagline briefly said "Autobiography of a fat bastard and his dysfunctional family".

My Darling Wife*
, Karen wanted to know why we were dysfunctional. Well, I pointed out, we aren't like everyone else we know, i.e. we are happily married, child born in wedlock, married to first partners, no instant families, injunctions or ASBOs.

Anyway, it has now been revised to the rather Stoutist one above. She let the first bit stay...

*subject to contract

The Angel of the North...

(as lifted from YouTube)

Beautiful people don't wear headphones...

I've been reading Chip Dale's Diary for a while now, led there by MyBloglog and Corporate Presenter, Jeremy Jacobs.

Chip is a larger than life character- this is his mini-bio:

About Chippy
24, swinger, jiggler, gyrator, gigolo, greasy hipster, babe magnet, blogger, Norse God, Bangor fan, codpiece collector, devout Christian, ex-leper, debt-collector, ab man, purveyor of posing pouches, cowboy, impresario, lead vocalist, meat grinder, leprechaun, Romanian refugee aid worker, load-bearing member.

When you look at his photos, he has the body of a weight lifter, the face of a bank manager and the ponytail of a Unix Guru. His tales are highly entertaining and I really have no idea if he is a persona or is for real.

Anyway, he has been categorising Myblogloggers here but when I remonstrated that I was probably a beautiful person in all but looks, style, image and fatbastardry he has suggested that the headphones have to go. Instead, I have dug out a holiday snapshot taken on a beach in acapulco on the deck of my 40' cutter. Unfortunately, the photo is a little cropped so you can't see Felicity Kendal and Joe Pasquale sunbathing alongside. Sorry about that...

(It is at the bottom of the sidebar, by the way. Technorati can still have the tiny presenter though).

Mentos from Bilbao...

Ok, so it isn't Eepybird, but when we saw the fabled Mentos sweets in Spain we just had to try them out in some fizzy drink...

(Since then, I've seen Mentos in Bradford. Apparently you can do it with Polos as well!)

Welcome to the Machine

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves how much the world is changing, and yet how much it appears to stay the same...

Hat tip- The England Project

Another contrived 10CC posting...

Godley and Creme from 10CC pioneered a device called a Gizmo.

Here is our own Gizmo. The only musical sounds it makes are of the "wheek wheek" variety though.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On the way out of the 10CC gig...

...the staff were handing out leaflets for Dr. Hook. I enjoyed them in 1975, but I got paid to at the time.

I remember they did Sylvia's Mother with an extra verse:-

Sylvia's Father said

"If you *&%$£@#* phone here again I'll £$ kill you, you *&^%$£(@#**!

The Temple of Mammon

We set out today to visit the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port as we were dropping a Grandma and Cousin off in West manchester after a 40th meal last night. However, once we got over the Pennines, the weather went very horrible so we decided to go somewhere indoors instead.

We ended up at the Trafford Centre, a vast Mall development near the Manchester Ship Canal. I saw this complex take shape during the period I spent commuting to Galway and the beacon light in the oculus of the dome was a welcome sight on the way to and from Manchester airport in the early morning or late evening.

The Trafford Centre is a private development and everything about it is on a monumental scale. Despite the fact that it has the same shops and eateries as everywhere else, it is a delightful architectural whimsy reminiscent of the Movie Palaces of old. I've taken a few snapshots to set the scene.
This is the exterior of the large food court area known as the Orient. Building works are taking place to enlarge the area and it is nearly complete. Note the date on the portico- MMVI, 2006.

The portico in more detail. The motto is HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD which I believe was attributed to Milton. A more modern wording might be hold fast onto your wallets and purses...

A decorative fountain in one of the malls. Every now and then... squirts a jet high into the air, way up into the dome. (This isn't the big dome, just one of the smaller ones.) If you click on the picture, you can just about see the after-effects of a large squirt tumbling down through the air.

This is the Orient, which has an Ocean liner theme. Note the detail of the chairs and tables.

This is a corridor leading to some toilets. Even the Coke machines have heiroglyphics.

This is the new bit that is almost finished.

This is one big mother of a chandelier. Phantom of the Opera, eat your heart out!