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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trains and Automobiles

It is time for the 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy that is Trains, Planes and Automobiles. A couple of years ago I wrote about the joys of flying to work. Since then I have discovered that there are other ways to make that special enjoyable journey that you have to make 5 times a week. I live in Southampton and work in Hove, near Brighton. According to Google, they are 55 miles apart which, according to me, would take me about 45 minutes to drive if it was motorway or even a dual carriageway all the way. It isn’t and to cut a long story short, if you get there in an hour and a half then you are doing well.

You drive from Southampton to Chichester and it’s a motorway and you can get there in just over 20 minutes. So, you’ve done over half the journey ... and then it’s roundabout, roundabout, traffic lights, strategically placed money collection speed cameras etc etc ad infinitum. Traffic systems are a mystery to me – you have the A27, a major trunk road connecting major South Coast cities and you get some traffic lights on it that stop all the through traffic so the three cars in 500 that want to, can turn off for a shitty little village called Oving – bet you’ve never heard of it. At the Hove end of the journey you have Worthing which is the place where traffic goes to die. Two lanes of traffic moving a 70 mph goes into one lane with a roundabout in about 50 yards, followed by traffic lights, followed by a roundabout with traffic lights. It’s an abortion of a place. The light go green and you can’t move because the queue for the next set of lights hasn’t moved yet. You have the choice of opening the window and getting smogged to death or you can sit there and sweat and grimace with the onset of ‘clutch leg’. You turn on the radio and there’s always a song with a reference to summer, wide open space and maybe enjoying yourself. The last time I noticed this, it was Bill Withers singling ‘Lovely Day’, another time it was that stoned dude singing ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. Come to Worthing and sing that you tosser.

Worthing may be a very nice place but I guarantee that everyone who has to drive on that bloody road will just associate it with things that are on the wrong side of not very good. Aside from the roads you have to drive on, of course you have the issues that affect you in the car. You listen to the radio because you think you may miss some vital piece of traffic info if you don’t. It’s not as if you can actually go round any problem there may be but you still have to listen to local radio which will have some wanker for a DJ who is probably a failed children’s entertainer playing a selection from his ‘Shit Songs of the 70s’ CD. More modern people would of course have a Sat Nav which would hopefully get you round any problem by directing you to drive up a railway line or tell you that the quickest route was via the Isle of Wight. I’d like to re-programme them all so they say – “You are approaching Worthing, this is your last chance to give up and go home”.

The alternative to the car of course is to take the train, or let the train take the strain as the advert used to go. The implication of course is that you can lie back and enjoy the ride, arriving unstressed and on time at your destination. As I’m sure you know, this is a fucking lie. To be fair, getting to work is not a problem. I get up and twenty to fucking six and am out the door by ten past, at the station and on board for the one train that I can possibly get, the 06:27, which is emptyish. Getting up at a time when the clock says 5-something is just wrong. When I was a kid, I was told that the day starts at 6.30 and I still believe that getting up before that time is subhuman. There is one girl who gets the same train as me who is always done up like she’s going to a nightclub. The hair (big 80’s do) is done, the make-up is immaculate and she smells of shit perfume from 30 yards. She is also, a sour faced old bag but the point is – what time does she get up? So, it takes an hour and a half and it almost mirrors the car journey in that the journey to Chichester is quick and pain free but as you go further into Sussex.... you get to the boundaries of the Peoples Republic of Worthing. How many fucking stations do you need and why do we have to stop at nearly every one. There are 6 within two miles of eachother. Oh lets stop at this one, it’s called Bumblefuck – there’s a bloke with a fucking dog on a string waiting to get on. Everything stops at Ford, famous for the open prison where they put all the people who won’t fit in a proper prison. I reckon it’s a good idea for the train not to stop there as Peter Sutcliffe might get on. The morning trains will be full of kids whose parents don’t love them, hence they are going to a school far far away. The boys just want to go to sleep but the girls all want to sit at a table. This is so they can plonk the handbag on it and do their make-up. So, the 13 year old that gets on, ages about 4 years on the journey – much like myself.

Like I say though, in the morning it always runs to timetable and that’s as much as you can hope for. Now we come to the other end of the day. The train starts one stop before I get on and there are only 3 carriages which is just enough to ensure that there are no seats for anyone aside from people willing to go to the first station on the line and pick fights with old ladies with umbrellas. On I barge and if I’m lucky I’ll get standing room near the doors, catching my ankle on the pedal of some wankers bike. So, there’s no seats available until you get to ... you guessed it.... Worthing where all the inbreds who are not heading to Portsmouth, vacate the train, leaving behind a few seats, some of which do not have a half eaten bag of chips on them. We stop at Bumblefuck again and the man with the dog on a string gets off having completed his day of begging in Brighton. He’s probably made more money than I have today.

Invariably the train home loses time along the way and this can be for a number of reasons – it’s a different one every time. Signal failure, level crossing failure, vandalism, catching up with the even slower train in front, dead body on the track at Worthing. When the train has lost more than 10 minutes you get the announcement, “Due to the late running of this service caused by (insert excuse here), we regret to inform you that this train will terminate here. This is one stop before your scheduled stop so stick that up your arse. Please vacate the train and wait for a connecting service”. It is at this point that swearing starts in earnest, especially when this happened for the 3rd time in a row.

I had already written to Southern Railways and asked how many times this service gets terminated before the final destination and was told 1.6%. I wrote back asking if there was any chance of a service that didn’t stop at 23 stations which could all be called “Worlds End” and also saying that their percentages were improving as it had been 100% over the last 3 days. I have as yet not had a reply. So, when I was turfed out again and had to wait for a connection, I decided to vent spleen to the Customer Helpline. I listened to the voice on the phone informing me that my call would be recorded for training purposes and for playing at loud volume to prisoners in Guantanemo Bay and selected options 6,4,7,9,3,5,7 and #. I eventually spoke to a sweet sounding girl who really didn’t deserve what she got.

“Why do you terminate the train here when it’s late”
“I don’t know Sir”
“Well it must be a policy because you do it every day”
“I can’t answer that Sir”
“What can you answer then?”
“I can talk about refunds”
“OK, how much am I owed, £17.80 a day, 4 days, late by 45 minutes, hour and a half, forty five minutes and three quarters of an hour”
“You’ll have to go on the website Sir”
“What.... so you can’t tell me anything really, you’re pretty useless in fact”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to go on the website”
“I would if I was at home where I’m supposed to fucking be, but I can’t because I’m on your shit station at Fareham with no internet connection but they do sell a packet of Fruit Gums for 73p here which cost 48p if you buy them in Hove.”
“Sorry Sir”
“So am I, I truly am”.

People on the platform were listening in and were laughing with me, or more likely, at me. It’s nice to be appreciated but I had lost horribly. All I managed to achieve in the end was to pick up a form to allow me to be reimbursed for Southern Railways ruining my life. I will receive about £4 compensation I think.

I will receive the full compensation for this next journey home which started with my normal train being cancelled and the next one also going the same way. To cut a long story short, I eventually got on a train at 7pm after arriving at the station at 5.15pm. Anyway – on the train now, what can possibly go wrong bearing in mind I’m on the same one as usual, the direct service to Southampton – time to fall asleep. I vaguely remember seeing all the shitty little Sussex stations and then Chichester and Havant and then.... hang on a minute I don’t recognize the scenery out of the window and it is of course, dark by now. I located a ticket inspector and asked what was going on, pulling my very best ‘what the fuck’ face.

“We’re diverting to Fratton”....
“Because we’re late”.
“Stand still a minute please”
“Why Sir?”
“Because I don’t want to miss”

There is nothing in the Southern Railway compensation leaflet about danger money for leaving you in Fratton. It’s like Helmand Province without the sun but it does have landmines everywhere and snipers in every caravan. Twenty minutes of dodging bullets and fat slags with blue legs and I’m back on a train heading for home – another change and about 20 minute wait, this time in the relative peace and tranquillity of Fareham and I get home, 2 and a half hours later than advertised.

Let the train take the strain and see how much quicker you die of a stress related illness.
So, trains, planes, automobiles.... you decide.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Nation Mourns

I wrote most of this straight after the event but thought better of publishing it straight away. Now I feel that enough time has passed…..

The title of this blog was the title the Hello magazine that was published immediately after the death of Jade Goody. We, as a nation, were apparently in mourning.

Jade had been in the public’s collective face non-stop for the past 7 years and over the most recent 6 months of that, she’s been in our faces more than ever because, as everyone on the planet knows, she’s battled cancer and passed on. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve felt sorry for Jade since the diagnosis and I especially feel sorry for her kids as you would with anyone who gets cut down at an early age. I also acknowledge that some good has come of it with the increased awareness and the very tangible increase in the amount of women going for smear tests. I should also feel sorry for her new husband as it’s terrible to have to love of your life cut down at such an early age. My last sentence has a big horrible wobbly dangly lie in it and more of that later.

The list of what I can’t stand about this whole situation is as long as your arm. Let us start with the hypocrisy of it all. I hated her to be honest… from the first moment I saw her (naked and embarrassing on a C4 ‘News’ ‘ Highlight’), right through Big Brother, the launch of her career as a celebrity, the Celebrity Big Brother Racist storm and the desperation to limit the damage. She was a horrible chav who personified many of the reasons why this country has gone down the shitter. I’m sure I’m not alone in this point of view because I can’t imagine anyone (aside from Nick Griffin of the BNP and the people who voted for him) who watched the whole Racism series of Big Brother would not at least be mildly horrified by her behaviour, which is why it makes me want to punch something when I see a magazine on the shelves with a tagline of ‘A Nation Mourns’. Princes Diana or the Queen Mother it is not. It’s all cynical marketing and let’s squeeze the last possible penny out of the cash cow…. I will not be a hypocrite and mourn – bollocks to that. If I was going to mourn the recent passing of a public figure, it would be the genuinely tragic (on all levels) fate that befell Natasha Richardson.

Now for Jack, Jack the Lad, Jack the horrible little berk, currently serving time at Her Majesty’s Chain of reinforced Guesthouses for laying into a kid with a golf club. All this piece of shit has ever done is been the Joint most Unworthy contestant on Celebrity Big Brother which is some achievement when you think about it. He shares the title with Jade’s mum, the truly abominable Jackkyieieyyey (she can’t spell her own name and nor can I). Jack the Twat was on for being Jade’s boyfriend at the time. Oh yeah, he mumbled something about being a Football Agent in his monosyllabic way. Yeah right Jack, a Football Agent spending time in Celebrity Big Brother during the transfer window…. get out and earn some money you bell end. Of course, his career as a football agent has really taken off since BB ended hasn't it. Never off of Sky Sports Football News is our Jack.... bollocks!

Anyway, so, Jade and Jack were going to get married and they brought it forward because she was dieing. Nice. Bollocks. They’d split up about a year ago as far as I’m aware and if she hadn’t been diagnosed they would never have got married in a million years. All of a sudden it’s ‘poor sweet man’ and ‘let him out of prison so he can go to the rehearsal / wedding / funeral’. Sorry Sunshine but you gave up the right to liberty when you tried to play golf where you shouldn’t have. Of course, he got his wish because after all, Max Clifford runs the fucking country. Jack has probably made some money out of it and the only good I see in that is that it’ll make him more of a target in the Cell block showers. All he’s ever done is ride on the coat-tails of Jade Goody which is completely desperate and it’s also completely desperate that he’s been able to do this in the public eye. Wait for it…’Jack’s Despair at life without Jade’…'She talks to me in my Dreams'....

Back to the death for a moment. Surely there’s a point where we have to have some sort of decency and say that enough is enough. Have some privacy, have some dignity. I understand that she was making as much money as she could for her kids but the cynic in me knows she’d have done exactly the same things even if she’d not had any kids. The industry is vile and you know that as soon as her sons are old enough, there will be Celeb Mags all over them trying to get exclusives and if not, making them up. Hopefully, their dad will have a better grip on things and keep them away from all that. Hopefully he’ll have more influence than Jack the Twat. Regardless, the media will find a new angle as they have already with ‘Jade speaks to Jackieyieyeeyyey’. I do wonder what the vision was supposed to have said to her mother. I expect it was profound and meaningful.

It has always galled me how people with no ability in any particular area can become famous but in good old Britain (and we’re not alone) we make an artform out of it. The way it should work is that you go on Big Brother, you have your 15 minutes of fame and then you fuck off and go and get a proper job. Not in Dear Old Blighty however where you go on Big Brother, you sign up with Max Clifford and somehow, you are made. These people stay famous thanks to the apparent ‘Cult of Celebrity’ that we have now. I consider myself to be a normal sort of guy and I am interested in reading about Angelina Jolie for example…. I am also interested in the pictures, I’m shallow like that…. but at the end of the day, she is a talented, Oscar winning actress so in my book, that’s fine. I am not interested in a thick chav (take your pick) who is not remotely talented in any area.

I just don’t get it. I mean…. Kerry Katona… fuck off… a career founded mainly on being absolutely shit at I’m a Fucking Moron, Get Me Out of Here. She was fucking hopeless and shit at every challenge but the great British voting public ensured the bubbly blonde with the happy personality and the big boobs was in our faces from then to kingdom come…. And what a fucking shock, she couldn’t handle spiders within 10 yards of her and she can’t handle life in the public eye. A complete train wreck but every time I turn on the box or click on the news on the web, there she fucking well is. Just piss off. MTV Special, fuck off, another shit advert for Iceland, fuck off. Iceland, OK Magazine and MTV – hang your heads in shame – you fund the train wreck. Just maybe if she didn’t have people throwing money at her, she’d actually be forced to confront her demons and stop being such a fucking disaster. ‘There’s a public demand for it’ they say in their defence, to which I bring out the ‘Televised Skiing’ argument, which is…. People watch televised downhill skiing for no other reason other than the off chance that someone will make an almighty balls up and crash horribly. It’s all people want to see… just the hope of a spectacular wipe out is enough to keep them watching, even though the non-crashing action is piss boring.

The Celeb section of the press just appals me. I saw a front cover on a shelf last week which had 4 ‘stars’ on the front who were Fern Britton, Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham and Jordan. So we had Too Fat, Too Thin, Past It and Lost It. What have all those 4 got in common? Do you think any of them are happy even though they all have more money than I can ever dream of? I don’t…. and to me, they all look to me like they cry themselves to sleep at night. It’s as if they wanted to get to ‘Rich and Famous’ but when they got there, they realised that they didn’t like it and wanted to get off the ride, which of course you can’t do until Max Clifford tells you that you can. Still, Jordan and Pete want their privacy at this difficult time…. You really couldn’t make it up… and here’s another exclusive interview with Katie Price where she will complain at her lack of privacy.

Going back to Angelina (as is my want)…. Does anyone honestly reckon that Brad is having ‘Hotel Hook Ups’ with Jen. Personally, I think it’s a complete crock of made up shite but if he can handle Angelina and 6 kids and still have the time and energy to do Jen as well then he’s my hero. If I worked in Celeb Media I’d be making up a story about ‘Angelina furious at Brad threesome with Jen and Jackieyeiey whilst Peter Andre snorts Kerry Katona’s stash off of Fern Britton’.

Of course this media shite is nothing new but the difference now is that there’s so much of it. It used to be just the Red Top newspapers, now it’s thousands of cable channels, internet, magazines etc. More media means more stories, more celebs required and more made up bullshit to try and keep it all sensational, exclusive and interesting. Hateful!!!

I guess that from reading this, you may be asking how the hell I know all this when I obviously hate it all. In my defence, I don’t think you can avoid it and that in itself really pisses me off. It pisses me off that I even know who Jade Goody, Jack the Twat and Kerry Katona are as there are millions of others I’d rather know about.

Anyroad, RIP Jade but does a Nation Mourn ? I think not.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Got a light ?

It has been a while.....
If I wanted to kill myself then I’d go for something quick. I’m not sure what as yet as the need has yet to arise but it would definitely be something quick and as pain free (for myself and others) as possible. Consequently, I would not choose smoking, a method of suicide that usually gives you a very slow horrible painful death and whilst you’re waiting for that to happen you can piss off as many people as possible.

I don’t like smoking and I’m an intolerant non-smoker. Given my natural sunny disposition, you may wonder why. A lot of people who are severely anti-smoking, are so because they have watched a loved one suffer the consequences of the addiction but there are others like me who don’t like it because:

  • it fucking stinks,
  • it makes me fucking cough my ring up when I get caught downwind of one,
  • it makes me want to reach when I have to talk to a heavy smoker whose clothes and breath stink,
  • it makes me get out of a lift at an earlier floor because I can’t stand the fucking smell any more,
  • it pisses me off that smokers don’t see fag butts as litter and just chuck them on the floor
  • loads of young people smoke – it costs a fortune and you know the dangers… what the fuck are you doing?
  • it makes me severely lose my rag when I get burnt by a lit fag in someone’s hand

I will expand on this last one. I was walking along the street in Dublin, heading towards Stephens Green and a smoker appeared from the left and walked in front of me. The first fumes appear over her shoulder and smack me in the face. “Cheers then!!!”, I silently shouted and I made my mind up to get in front of her. Good plan and off I went, one step to the side, overtaking now…..WHAT THE FUCK !!!

She, the bitch, was carrying said instrument of slow painful death in her right hand, the same right hand that was swinging backwards at the precise time my left hand was in the way as I went to overtake. In effect, the cig was stubbed out on the back of my hand and guess what… the fucking bitch actually looked at the butt in a sad sort of way because it had gone out before she enquired about my hand. I then went all Reservoir Dogs on her. I get these visions in my mind from time to time.... 'episodes' my therapist calls them.

It is funny though when you hear of smoking related injuries to the smoker him/herself. I had a friend called Matt who arrived at work one day with a small hole burnt into the back of his shirt, just below the collar. Upon enquiry, it turned out that he’d been smoking in the car whilst driving, went to flick the butt out of the window and said butt blew back in the car and down the back of his shirt, lodging near the said collar. He said that at 40mph he struggled to get the smouldering butt out of his shirt as he couldn’t reach it. He did however, manage to dislodge the butt when he hit his head on the ceiling of his car and this had made the butt fall right down the back of his shirt where, due to his shirt being tucked in, he’d burnt his lower back. Thinking about this 15 years on is still making me smile…. It does make a mockery though of the rules whereby you can smoke in a car but you can’t officially do anything that means you don’t have two hands on the wheel…. like eat a sandwich, inject drugs, drink a bottle of vodka, have sex etc…. stupid rules!!

I have to admit that I have had a moment of weakness, once, for about ten seconds. I was ten pints into an evening on a stag night and on a downward spiral that would ultimately end with the calling off a wedding at which I was to be the Groom (a story for another day when the 30 year embargo has passed). Said evening was going downhill and I got offered a cigarette. Being in a bad mood, pissed off and extremely pissed, 26 years old and never having smoked at all…. I had two drags and immediately got the feeling that all was not well. I ran to the bogs but the vertical upward movement of stomach contents had already started… I ran in and a little escaped through the gap in my teeth and landed on a suit who was coming out (he didn’t notice)… empty cubicle… much shouting at Huey and Ralph and then I said something like, “ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARY…”

Was it the ten pints or was it the two drags? All I can say is that after the hangover had gone about two days later, I could still taste the nicotine, despite scrubbing my mouth with toothpaste, soap, drain cleaner and a wire brush. Not good. I will never smoke again, of this we can be quite certain.

That evening had an interesting post script in that Matt (he of the blow back story earlier), managed to get us thrown out of the nightclub. He took some speed and starting running laps of the dancefloor. It was funny as you like watching the Flatheads try and catch him but eventually they did and we all got chucked out.

And now, some giving up smoking success stories….

My wife used to smoke. At its worst it was probably a 20 a day habit but by the time we hooked up she’d dropped to about 5 a day. They say that love is blind and you turn a blind eye to the little things about your partner that annoy you. Not when you share a fucking wardrobe and all your clothes fucking stink when they’re clean. For a while she just used to sneak the odd one and not within a 50 mile radius of me and then, first pregnancy… stopped completely. I am dead proud of her that she managed that and made a complete break from it. I have to say though, the party smoker returned once about a year ago. At a 40th birthday BBQ, da wife and her mates wanted to have a few puffs. She actually tried to sneak off into the garage which was funny and in some small way, kind of sad because I knew exactly what she was up to. So anyway, did I let it go and not worry about it like a nice husband should really?…. Did I bollocks, I threatened to tell the kids. I was half joking…

I have another mate called Boris, who I have known since I was 15. I have changed his name to protect him though his real name is Dave. Oh fuck it. Anyroad… Dave is in the Guinness Book or Records for ‘Largest Number of Insincere Attempts at Giving Up Smoking’. I believe his record is over 500. He has a minor record as well for ‘Most Attempts in 24 Hours’. In his 20s he didn’t really give a shit and every year made a New Years Resolution to smoke more. By the time he’d reached 35 he was beginning to think more seriously about it and he was managing to go longer and longer before falling off the (Tar) Wagon….. and then he met a girl who smoked even more than he did. Fucking hopeless. Happy endings all round though as they managed to give up together and he’s even managed to pork out and then lose all the weight and look better than at any time for years. I never ever thought for a second that Dave would ever give up but he has and has made it work. Smoking is bad for his health as I will kill him if he starts again.

The other smoker in my life was my Granddad. His smoking story started at Age 14 on 40 a day and he smoked until he was 84. So, 40 fags a day, multiplied by 365 days a year, multiplied by 70 years = a lot. You’re probably assuming at this point that he died at 84, not a bad innings for a heavy smoker and why am I telling you this. The kicker was that at 84, he announced that he was giving up smoking. His logic was faultless… he realised that he had to give up as it was bad for him. He had not been told to give up by a Doctor, he just decided on his own. He died at 89 having not smoked a single fag from that point on. Would he have lived longer if he’d carried on smoking ? Who knows…

My kids are anti-smoking for now though I’m not na├»ve enough to think that they won’t try it at some point. I just hope that when they do, they are violently ill on it and don’t do it again. This is not a terribly nice thing to wish on your kids but ‘tough love’ is an extremely underrated concept in my book so I hope that come the day, they are shouting at Huey, Ralph and Rory as well.

If you have been touched or affected by any of the issues raised in this blog then contact an expert in confidence at

Sunday, May 10, 2009 vs iPod, iTunes, iTwats

The Clash - Know Your Rights

This entry is not in the style of my usual blog entry as it’s really more of a service to you, dear reader. It was however brought on by my intolerance of iTunes. When MP3 players suddenly because as essential a part of your everyday life, on a par with your liver and oxygen, the one everyone had heard of was of course the Apple iPod which because the most popular and was generally held to be the best, mainly because it shouted loudest and it shouted first. Like a parasitic twin that you have to have as part of the deal, you got iTunes which you have to fucking use if you want to load music onto your iPod. I admit that the sound and features on iPod's are amazing but in my considered opinion, iTunes is an absolute beast because of reasons to be explained later. On iTunes you can of course, convert CD's you already own or you can buy tracks from the iTunes store and this is the area I find particularly abominable.

I actually have a bit of a problem with music downloads from an ‘art’ point of view. As we moved through time I could see that cassettes might be better than vinyl because they were less prone to damage so there was an advantage. I could see that CD’s were better than cassettes because the sound was so much better and they were more durable so again, an obvious advantage. Downloads are not as good as CD’s in any respect: - the sound quality is less, there is nothing ‘physical’ to look at / hold / read. The only advantage of having something of inferior quality is if it is cheaper, which it can be as long as you don’t use fucking iTunes.

I do not own an iPod as when I made my choice, I refused on the grounds that iTunes was a steaming pile of dung. The verbalising of this opinion to the shop assistant in Curry's was an amusing moment. So, I bought a player that didn't require iTunes to put their totally unnecessary encoding over the mp3's... I ripped all my CDs to it using bog standard Windowns Media Player and happy days. Economic realities meant though that I was idly Google-ing 'Cheap Legal MP3' one day and after following a couple of links I stumbled upon...

mp3 music download

Yes, it's Russian... but read on.... the good points of this site are that...

  1. Each track only costs 10cents (Euro is the currency), iTunes costs a scandalous 79p. Recently iTunes has added a new pricing ‘feature’. If it’s an eagerly awaited release like a Green Day or a U2 album, each track will be 99p.
  2. Each album costs (number of tracks multiplied by 10c) – 10% so for a ten track album, that’s 90c so it’s great for normal albums but not if you want to download Short Music for Short People which is 50 tracks long.
  3. Each download has none of that Digital Rights Management shit that you find on iTunes downloads so you can do anything you want with it after you’ve downloaded: burn it, put it straight onto your mp3 player etc. You download something off of iTunes and you have to burn it onto a CD (costing you more money) and then convert it back to MP3 format if you want to stick it on a non-Ipod Mp3 player.
  4. The quality of the file is actually better than iTunes in most cases
  5. The catalogue is staggeringly large
  6. When logged in you can listen to track snippets which is always good news
  7. You can request albums for them to put on the site.

Bad points....

  1. It’s difficult but not impossible to put money on your account. I started off very sceptical and tried to put a tenner on the account, thinking that if I lost it then no worries really. However, everything worked fine and I’ve had no issues at all.
  2. Though it says it’s legal and there is a Russian copyright law quoted on the site, you still wonder…
  3. You can only download 2 tracks at a time which is a bit of a minor irritation as opposed to a bad point.

I guess the bottom line is that it's up to you... click the link and have a browse...

mp3 music download

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

40 plus

There’s a film out currently called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. I’ve not seen it as I have no desire to sit in a cinema of damp women watching the ever youthful looking Brad Pitt being born as an 80 year old and then getting younger as he gets older. Life doesn’t really imitate art in this case but on a similar theme, your mind and your body do age at different rates. I am 40. I repeat this and similar statements to myself to remind myself of the fact. I am 40 years old… I was born 40 years ago… I was born in 1968. This means that Body is 40 and Mind is 40, or does it.

It’s tough to remember sometimes because in my case, physically my age is progressing, mentally it is not – in fact it may be going backwards. If someone asks you how old you are, I believe you should take your Body age and your Mind age and quote the average. At the moment I think my score is roughly Body 40 Mind 17, average of 28 and a half, sounds good to me!!!. In my mind, I have my whole life in front of me and I can make loads of mistakes and it doesn’t matter because I have youth on my side and I don’t have to worry about a poor pension projection and all that stuff, for I am young… oh, hang on a minute.

The imbalance between my two ages means that I think I can do all the things I could do when I was younger and have no problem…. Yeah, right!!.

In the time honoured tradition of office 5-a-sides we have an old team and a young team that play against each other. I remember being comfortably part of Team Young as if it were yesterday. Now, I am the most experienced (oldest) player in Team Old, in fact I’m more or less in a team of my own. Last week there were 5 players under 28 who made up the younger team and the ages of the players in the Team Old were 29,30,30,32 and you know the rest. You feel a bit self conscious because you warm up before a game and no one else does and then you feel positively ridiculous afterwards as you are the only one warming down and the others are all in the pub by the time you’ve finished. A classic example of your head telling you one thing and your body another is that in your mind, you’re just as competitive as you always were and you want to win at almost any cost… so you run about like an idiot until you realise that 15 stone plus pounding about has meant that you can no longer feel your feet. This means that it’s time to go in goal for a rest for 10 minutes. So, you go in goal and unlike most, your competitive instinct means that you try. A shot comes flying towards you and instead of waving it goodbye like most people, you actually dive which is a good practice for a keeper but not for a 40 year old lump of a goalkeeper on Astroturf. You hit the ground in an ungraceful kind of way and your mind tells you to get up and save the rebound. That’s where body kicks in and you realise that the hip, knee, elbow and ankle that you’ve just landed on are not about to let you spring back up in a co-ordinated fashion. To make matters worse – you were too slow and you didn’t save the original shot anyway.

It has to be done though and once a week I try and forget my age and flog myself around the pitch. A wise man (who is the same age as me) once said “I play once a week and it takes 8 days to recover”. The wise man is correct, unlike Lennon and McCartney because if there were in fact “Eight Days a Week”, this wouldn’t be an issue. I have a goal of playing in a proper adults football match on the same side as my son who is 35 years my junior… this means that I will be 52. Maybe I’ll be in goal.

Another thing I used to do all the time when Body was younger was going to lot of gigs. Not poncy boring, stand-around-and-clap-politely-boring-Snow-Patrol type gigs but proper Rock-deafening-moshpit-headbanging gigs. Going to a gig now is a strange experience… the lights go down, roar goes up, band comes on, band starts first song and you know you shouldn’t but your mind is telling you that you can … go down the front in the mosh. Up and down, sweaty bodies, a stray elbow here and some student fatty jumping on your toe there… it’s fun and the fact that you’re twice the age of anyone else in the mosh is irrelevant… for about 2 minutes. When Body was 17-22 I could do two hours in the mosh at an Iron Maiden gig and no problem. Also, I did this without a drink and without needing to leave for a pee cos the ultimate sin in gig behaviour was losing your place at the front. The steam that rises from the front few rows at a gig is people who don’t actually leave for a pee. I have just had an idea for eliminating ‘old before their time’ people but as it involves sub-machine guns being trained on people leaving a Coldplay gig, I don’t think it’s very likely to be a runner.

So, maybe I should grow up. Maybe I should be a respectable man of 40, with a wife, three kids and a mortgage. I think about this a lot and sometimes I decide that that’s what I’m going to do but before I actually get round to making any decisions that may actually result in a more grown up lifestyle, I go and find myself amused by something incredibly purile and hilarious and realise that it isn’t going to happen. Just last week I found this and am still laughing every time I see it now. Not for kids or work…

Another reason for me having no chance is that I have no positive role models to help me grow up. When he was 60, I put together a presentation, a kind of “This is Your Life” for my Dad and when you arranged the photographs in chronological order there was something immediately obvious. Up until his mid-30s, all the photos with him and his mates were of the sensible, posed, smile-for-the-camera-and-say-cheese type. Fast forward 10 years and you had no photos not in fancy dress and a disturbing one involving an inflatable sheep (the wonderfully named ‘Love Ewe’) which I can’t show my children. Oh look, Grandad’s playing with the sheep. No chance for me then.

In conclusion then, I think you should be duty bound to delay the signs of growing up and getting older as long as possible. I’m not talking Bobby Charlton combovers to convince the world you still have hair but I am saying think young and act young even if it means that you will have some embarrassing photographs of yourself to deal with later and you will attract disapproving looks from people at extended family gatherings when you’re behaving in a way that you would not expect a 40+ year old to do.

The alternative is to grow old gracefully and listen to Coldplay cd’s, drink in moderation and behave. Fuck that.

My current age is Body 40, Mind 16. Average of 28… sounds good to me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The name's Shit, Dog Shit

I work in Dublin which is universally renowned as being a pretty cool city. Unfortunately, for me anyway, it would be a lot cooler if it was about 20 miles from Southampton where I live.

When I first started work in Dublin I knew that there were going to be differences nd there would be things I would have to get used to but I thought that these would be fairly obvious. For example, I knew in advance that beer was more expensive, the currency was different and I knew I’d struggle with the accents of the locals. I knew that there was a smoking ban and there wasn’t in the UK (at the time) and I knew that the Irish language was completely unpronounceable. As always though… it’s the little things that surprise you, though for this particular thing, the shapes and sizes are very varied. I first really noticed this problem when I was out walking and the heel of my shoe suddenly shot forward about a foot, causing me to instinctively throw my arms up for balance and chuck my shopping up into the air.

I’m talking about Dog shit.

It’s not ‘mess’ or ‘poo’ or any other sanitized term – it’s shit or shite because that’s what it is – especially if you or one of your kids has walked in it or cycled through it. It’s not “I have trodden in some dog mess” because that really doesn’t convey the anger. It’s “I’ve trodden in some fucking dog shit because some twatbastard doesn’t fucking clear up after their fucking shitty fucking dog”. So from here on in – shit(e) is the word.

The message of the ‘pick it up’ brigade has been broadcast loud and clear in the UK for ten years or more now and as a rule, dog owners have got the message. Consequently, you don’t see much shite on the pavement or on paths. What you do see it dog walkers armed with cheap Tesco blue and white stripey nappy sacks for the brave and the more expensive thicker nappy sack for the not so brave. If it was down to me I’d be spending more and applying the bog roll theory as you do not want your finger going though it. The chain of events is well established now – here’s the English version
  1. Dog shits
  2. Hand in bag,
  3. Scoop it up,
  4. Pull bag inside out (don't get this bit wrong!)
  5. Tie the bag
  6. Put in specially provided bin - it will have a flip top lid and a swarm of flies round it
OK, the bins can ming a bit but at least the smell is concentrated in one place and the bin is big and red and you can spot it a mile off.

Back in Dublin meanwhile – if you take an average 50 yard stretch of pavement – there will be at least 10 different types of dog shite ranging from the small terrier shite to the fucking great elephant horse dog shite. I’m sure it would be more but that default Dublin weather (pissing rain) naturally washes away part of the problem, or at least makes it more runny.

From where I live in Dublin, I have to walk along a footpath to get to work and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Dog owner is walking along with a fucking great Labrador…

  1. Labrador stops, assumes the position
  2. Owner keeps walking
  3. Labrador gives birth to swamp monster in middle of the path
  4. Owner turns round and calls dog
  5. Owner and dog eyeball steaming Vesuvius with pride
  6. Owner and dog fuck off
Meanwhile, I’ve reached the obstruction and am wondering whether I need to indicate to go round it or call the council to install temporary traffic lights.

Another issue is that that particular dog shat right in the middle of the path and everywhere you look there is shit right in the middle of the pavement. I was pretty sure that by instinct, dogs didn’t do that. I thought they headed off to the side of the path to shite on the grass. OK, that’s bad enough but at least it’s not right in the way. If it is an instinct then Dublin dogs don’t have it. They must be trained at an early age …. “Right Bruno, you do not shit at the edge of the path, you shit right in the middle so that it’s easier for your owner to pick it up”. You can kind of see the logic in that but of course, it doesn’t get picked up.

What’s the answer ? The Government would say we should fine the owners, name and shame or somesuch bollocks. How about an agency that follows the beast round, picks up the shite and then sends it to the owners through the post. Don’t fuck about. How’s that for a nice job for someone? There you go Mr Cowen, two birds with one stone - I’m solving any unemployment problem you may have and cleaning up the streets. You know it makes sense.

When I first arrived I thought that everyone walked with their head down because they were unfriendly or because they were shy or something. Oh no… it’s because of the shit problem and you have to give yourself a semi-decent chance of coming home with clean shoes. Take your eye of the path for a second and you know that a squelch is coming. I wonder if there’s a statistic somewhere that says the Dubliners replace their shoes twice as much as EU average. Must look that up.

I’ve made this sound like it’s a Dublin problem and not one that affects cities in the UK. This is of course not true as anyone who lives in Salisbury will testify. The bottom line is that wherever you are – fucking pick it up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Believe I Can Fly

I fly to work. Sounds good doesn't it. My son who is 4 thinks his dad is a pilot which is amusing (unless of course he actually is).

The airline who I 'choose' to fly with (their words not mine) is Flybe who have a monopoly on the route from Southampton (my hometown) to Dublin (where I work). So - it isn't a choice I make in preference to any other airline. If I hear the term "operational reasons" once more I feel I may punch someone and that someone will be smug faced bitch of a Flybe employee, sitting behind the desk, offering you a £6 breakfast voucher in the belief that it makes up for your plane being 4 hours late and you missing half a days work when you're self employed. Newsflash - I'm down on the deal so don't patronise me you bitch.

My £6 voucher will buy me a coffee and three quarters of a bacon roll from the 'more expensive than London' Coffee Shop Deli thing at the end of the departures lounge. "Operational Reasons" in case you were wondering means that "this fuck up is our fault". It means there is no plane or there is no pilot. I've had a flight delayed for one other reason and that was because the airport was closed due to fog - fair enough. Nothing operational about that and we got told that straight away.

Four hours late we are off and the pilot gives the game away by saying that he woke up this morning in Guernsey thinking he was having a day off and now finds himself summoned to Southampton to fly us to Dublin. He's not happy and despite the training he has no doubt received to manage our expectations, he's on fire and telling it how it is. Fair play to that man.

The planes themslves are little things with a seating capacity of about 80. I dunno why they have to do this but the planes seem to come into land very fast and then really slam the brakes on so all passengers end up in the foetal position before the plane comes to a halt.

The flights themselves are usually fine. There are some things that can go wrong - not of the "plane falls out the sky" variety but the kind of things that just generally piss you off.

1 Fatty sitting next to you. It's that awful sinking feeling when you've located your seat and are settling in and down the aisle of the plane, coming towards you, you spot the King or Queen of the Salad Dodgers. They approach and stop beside you and point the fat finger of fate at the seat next to you. Hang on a minute wide load - this is my seat so stay the fuck out of it. I am referring to your side of pork on the armrest and also to you fat arse which is under the armrest and claiming squatters rights on my seat. It has no rights so get it away from me. You want a piece of my seat then give me some money.

2 Blackberry Twat. It's a one hour flight for fucks sake so you can do without the Blackberry can't you. I know it's unnecessary and not a security risk but they've asked you to turn it off so turn the fucker off. There is nothing you have to do that can't wait an hour. You are not that important. You only have a Blackberry in the first place to make you feel important and you probably have a small penis (this bit doesn't apply to female Blackberry owners). Oh for the day when mobile phone are allowed on planes and we can listen to the self important twats make their business calls all flight. Can't wait.

3 Chatty happy people. It's a 7am flight and people have therefore got up between 4am and 5am to catch the flight. They want to sleep. They do not want to listen to you taking absolute shite about your life or about the important meeting you want to schedule on your Blackberry.

4 Lazy Inconsiderate twat. Picture this if you will - It's a half empty flight and you are sat by the window with a bloke in the adjacent seat. He can move if he likes - there are at least 10 empty pairs of seats in view. He doesn't though - the bastard. Then the seatbelt light goes on and you know he's not going to move. Maybe however, he's scared of the stewardesses. I was that man in the aisle seat once and I got up to move and was told by a stewardess (it was a bloke but he was still a stewardess, if you catch my drift) that I couldn't move from the back half to the front half of the plane as I would unbalance it. What complete shite. Do they weigh everyone on the way in and decide to balance the plane accordingly ? Course they sodding don't. Jobsworths doing what jobsworths do.

5 Hand Luggage Bandits - Did that fit in the measuring device at the check in - I don't think so cos if it did, then it would fit in the overhead thingy wouldn't it.

6 Premature Ejectors. These are the bastards who as soon as they can, throw open the overhead thingy door without first looking to see if anyone's head is in the way of it as it opens outwards. The head in question was mine on a couple of occasions so I shot the Ejector and withering look only he didn't see it as he was looking at his Blackberry at the time. now I've got wise to it I don't mind the Premature Ejectors so much as it's fun watching them get other people.

7 Nervous flyers. I was sat next to a girl once who was mid twenties and nice looking - things had turned out well. Then I noticed that she was clutching some Rosary Beads and muttering under her breath as we taxied around the airport. She kept grabbing me all flight every time we hit one of those cloud things. It was tough I tell you.

8 Patronising Airline Bullshit. The aforementioned "thankyou for choosing Flybe" which is annoying but the single most irritating BS is in the form of the sandwiches. Not only are they the price of an decent pub meal but this is justified by explaining that they were designed "just for you by Celebrity Chef James Martin". It's a fucking BLT. How do you design that? Bread, butter, bacon, lettuce, tomato. Thanks James. There's one called "Simply Chicken". Which individualistic touch did he put on that one then? Simply Bollocks more like.

9 Ground Staff. How difficult is it to see that a plane has landed and you have to push some steps out to it so people can get off. It's not rocket science is it?

10 Southampton Buses. We land, the plane parks up ten yards from the terminal. We can't get off and the reason is because we have to get a bus from the plane to the terminal. I shit ye not and the bus isn't here. Bus arrives and it isn't big enough. Well it is but only just and you have someone's bag in your face or knee up your ass. the crush is good for stopping you falling over when the driver stops.

11 Dublin Pier D. It's new you see and I don't reckon they could get planning permission for it so as a result they've had to build it in a different post code. It is fucking miles from the main airport. It is however served with about 20 yards of working travelators so you don't have to walk the whole way. There's plenty of room for the plane to park at Pier A but Pier D is new so we'd better justify it.

I should balance this all out by saying that the planes run more of less on time on most occasions and without it I couldn't work here and would probably be very skint indeed as opposed to just marginally so. So thankyou Flybe, keep up the good work....