Sunday, 27 April 2008

Like "The Ring", only worse. And real.

Please don't say I haven't given you enough warning.

If you click the link I'm about to put here, you can't sue me for the psychological or emotional trauma you will undoubtedly suffer.

OK, here we go.

This is just plain wrong.

Christ on a bike, my poor retinas. I'm minded to gauge my eyes out with the spoon I keep handy for just such purposes.

And the comment underneath:

"I feel so naughty dressed up with my whip in my hand. I immediately felt so in

isn't exactly helping, either.

That's going to replace the giant one-eyed Sanskrit-speaking squirrel in all of my nightmares from now on.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

By George

Falling out of his Swedish bed, he pours milk over the Swiss breakfast cereal. Italian coffee is brewing in the German coffee maker.

Pulling on clothes made in Malaysia and China, he walks out of his house and drives his Japanese car to work. Eight hours of staring at a screen, punting zeroes and ones around using American software.

He comes home and eats a Bangladeshi meal washed down with Czech lager. Then he settles down in front of his Korean television to watch a football team containing Dutch, Croatian and French players (yet playing in the Premier league). A nice New Zealand Sauvignon completes the evening.

And he complains about all these bloody foreigners.

Happy St George's Day.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The secret is out

The draft of this post started out sounding like the beginning of an Irish folk song. Altogether now, 'As I was going over the Cork and Kerry mountains....'


As I was going over the Preseli Mountains, my mind was troubled. Questions were tumbling through my head, questions to which answers just could not be found.

What is the concept of 'self' and has it been eroded in this multimedia world?

Can boundaries ever be real, or are they merely imagined constructs?

At what point was Madonna ever actually Like a Virgin?

The landscape wasn't helping, to be honest. Dark and foreboding, mixed, as the cumulus allowed, with green and pleasant. In fact, it was pretty bloody spectacular. If I lived in one of those cottages, I would have little need of a telly. I'd just place a comfy chair right by a picture window and watch the seasons go by, hopefully with something suitably epic as a soundtrack. And high? Whilst not exactly Himalayan, from one point you can see Ireland, England and - less surprisingly - other bits of Wales. All of it daubed in green. In fact, to this city-dweller's jaded eye, GREEN.

But still my mind was troubled. Troubled, I tell you.

I drove on. In the barren land between more towns where vowels were clearly an optional extra, some standing stones caught my eye. I'd heard tale of how these hills were home originally to Iron Age tribes, who'd left their mark before farmers moved in 5,000 years ago. A hint of their ancient mysticism has never left these dark hills, the locals say.

Perhaps these stones still have the power to talk to us in this modern age? Maybe they could provide an answer even now? I stopped the car and went to commune with the wisdom of ages.

A gentle gust played around my ears. 'Baa,' commented a passing sheep. That's funny, I thought, as I noticed some letters on the largest stone. What could it be marking?

Well, I guess that's one question answered. And the answer is clearly, 'Under a stone in Pembrokeshire'. He was looking good for 67, though, I must say. Must be the striped hat and glasses that made him look younger.

And at the pub that evening, there was, indeed, whiskey in the jar. O.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Quite shameless levels of self-promotion


I am away for a week. So. Can I trust you all to not invite strangers back here and hold wild parties while I'm away? And keep the volume down, please. Last time I was away, the neighbours complained about someone playing the Kids from Fame soundtrack at maximum volume. Apparently, they weren't too keen on hearing 'Hi-Fidelity' at 2.00am on a school night. And I have to say, some of those marks on the sofa - they just don't make a Stain Devil that'll shift those.

So behave yourselves, you hear?

We're going to spend a week in west Wales. I'm hoping to find some of this 'rest' that's all the rage these days. You never know. For one thing, I'd like to clear my head a little so I can get back to writing about a wider range of things again. Quite frankly, there's been a little too much of 'bloke does stuff' and not enough 'an antelope walks into a mobile library and asks whether they've got any Hunter S Thompson' malarkey going on in here.

To remind you of the Good Times, when I didn't have the sensible filter, below are some choice things for you to look at. If you weren't here for the last 150-odd posts, go and look. Here is your brain on Redbush tea. If you have read them before, then, well, read them again, why don't you?

One out, all out

A long time ago.....

Your horoscope for the week

Crouching tiger, swimming squirrel

Man of letters

What's in a name?

Well, apparently you can get better

Don't leave home without it

My possessions are causing me suspicion

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Creativity is great, but plagiarism is quicker

Imagine the scene. You're a creative type at Fusker & Trot advertising agency. Your day is a merry whirlwind of brand development brainstorming happenings, where you pontificate on the personality of support bandaging and the relevance of spirit levels to the post-nuclear family.

In between, you ingest impressive amounts of pharmaceuticals. (Actually, I don't know if this is bit is true of advertising types any more, I just copied and pasted it from

"Great news, Jonty," cries your colleague through an amphetamine-fuelled fug. "We got the Berocca account." (I must stop with the drug references now. They're a bit lame).

The commission alone has got to be worth a new set of granite worktops for your Hoxton apartment. But. They need you to come up with a new TV ad for this effervescent yellow gooey health tablet thingy. It's so unfair. (Oh, I got the trendy apartment thing in. Must. Stop. Generalising).

You remember when it was all so different. You were running and ripping, ducking and weaving. Your ideas were the currency. They were the firm's lifeblood. But too many expense-account lunches have dulled your senses. You sit in front of a blank Mac screen, willing the inspiration to come. But it doesn't.

That night, idly flipping through the channels, you come across some list show. "The Twenty Most Popular Internet Virals." Oh God no, make it stop. Talking heads with tyre-fitter haircuts postulating on How We're All Directors Now. But one of the clips perks your interest, one that's been doing the rounds for several years and is renowned as one of the better ones:

That's one to file away.

Several weeks later, the new ad - your new ad - airs for the first time:

Well done, Jonty. I'd go for the Swedish fitments with that worktop, if I were you.

Monday, 7 April 2008

My cousin the alien

My cousin Steve is going for the full deck. Having got married to Meg late last year, he's got a new job and they're moving house later this week. However, I don't think some bloke in a Transit van is going to be much use to them on this occasion, as they're moving to Boston. (The American one, if you're reading this in Lincolnshire).

I can't help singing "More Than a Feeling" whenever I read that back to myself. Is that wrong?

Meg, being originally from Pennsylvania, can flit across the Atlantic with nary a care. Steve, being very British, needs to complete some paperwork to live and work over there. Quite a bit of paperwork, as it turns out.

He's needed financial statements, references from employers, police checks, health checks and X-rays. X-rays? Wowsers. Meg is officially classed as his sponsor, which must bring all sorts of schemes into play:

M: Honey, can you do the washing up?
S: I'm a little busy right now.
M: Riiiight. What's the phone number for the immigration people again?
S: I'm right onto it.
Steve got various things in his passport and a sheaf of documents that must be handed to the immigration officers when they first arrive. This last set was in a hefty sealed manila envelope, with stern instructions that it could not, under pain of immediate deportation, be opened by Steve and Meg. So, when asked by airport security whether anyone's given him a sealed package to take on board the flight, Steve will have a bit of dilemma.

When telling me about this process, he was keen to mention his new status - Legal Immigrant. Alternatively, he said, he could be referred to as a Legal Alien.

And I'm sorry, but there's no choice, is there? Who wouldn't want to be an alien? So not only do I get two new readers in Massachusetts, I have a cousin with the glowing index finger and healing of pot plants and stuff.


Sunday, 6 April 2008

Older, wiser, and with more physical possessions

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a blog will, on the passing of his birthday, write all sorts of unadulterated guff about the ageing process and the gaining of wisdom.

But if he's a little less self-absorbed and in the lucky position of having an obscenely generous wife (no sniggering at the back there), he can sit back instead and bask in all the shiny goodness instead.

So this is what greeted me yesterday, on the occasion of my 38th birthday:

So I now have 32 gigs on which to fill up with music played by serious men with meaningful haircuts. And when I really want to annoy the neighbours:

Sorry in advance, Matt & Kate.

Add to this some gorgeous bite-the-back-of-your-hand solid silver cuff links from Charles Tyrwhitt and a beautiful book on cosmology (ask me about cepheid variable stars, go on) and I am a very lucky boy indeed. And Katie has officially won.

Sod the introspection. Stuff rules, every time.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Mutually Assured Retail Destruction

We're in the period between birthdays - Katie's was yesterday and mine is tomorrow - when we take a breather and wonder who's going to win the "I clearly love you more because I got you more stuff" award. Shallow, us?

I'm hoping that I did well - various items of a jewellery and smelly-based nature were winging there way to Katie yesterday. And as I was in London on a seminar I made a detour to Selfridges to pick up a little something extra.  She does deserve it - after all she has to put with me.

Not that I'm competitive or anything. But beat that, significant other. Hah!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Pick up a....

Well, I'm quite flabbergasted. After all, I'd seen the headlines.

But it wasn't until I got hold of the footage that I was truly convinced:


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