Saturday, December 28, 2002

Get me a bucket, something that cuts plastic, tarpaulin, high tensile rubber and something to make a fire with

Yep, charades just wasn’t on the menu this year. Every year on Christmas night a small band of Crendonites get together for a party. As the kids grow older and have their own lives it’s become the only time in the year that the parents, kids, partners et al are together in one room. Traditionally the evening degenerates into noisy mayhem through a series of traditional Christmas games.

This year was a little different. The hosts, as always, were the Boultons; the Osbournes with the volume a little lower. Di is Sharon; the matriarchal driving force of the family, the kids Richard and Lucy are charmingly dysfunctional, and Ray is Ozzy. Di was struck with Winter Vomiting Disease and a question mark hung over the whole night. Ray decided he would take responsibility for laying on the food and drink whilst Di recuperated in bed. Whilst this doesn’t normally seem too hard a job, Ray is the person who has outdoor decorations powered by a cable wrapped in plastic bags and run through puddles and damp grass into the house. No wonder he goes to church every Sunday.

To his credit Ray did a sterling job with the food, but when it came to the games, nobody was there to act as the voice of reason. Every Christmas Ray has a new novelty that he gleefully shows off like a five year old, but normally Di is there to put it away when things get out of hand. This year it was a gun that fired air. When they hit, it felt like you had been hit by a soft ball, but it didn’t hurt. Basically it was a hollowed out bucket with a piece of tarpaulin stuck over the back, which could be pulled back and fired like a bow and arrow.

After a bout of left over Turkey and a few aimless shots from the gun, Ray decided it was time for something more organised. Normally the games involve everyone, but the ‘olds’ wisely stayed in the dining room whilst the youngsters (aged 18-30), plus Ray (aged 54 going on 6 and a half with a sugar rush) stayed in the living room.

The game was simple, somebody sat at one end of the living room with a lit candle on his head whilst the others sat on a stool and fired the bucket gun to blow out the candle. If you missed you were out, if you hit, you went through and the stool was moved back. The winner was the person left at the end, the winner was also granted the opportunity to enter the Hall of Fame, blowing out the candle from behind the settee.

The atmosphere was electric as the competition heated up, Matt cranked up the pressure with his Willy Banks style rabble rousing, inviting the crowd to clap a slow rhythm as he set himself for ever more ambitious shots. Needless to say, he entered the Hall of Fame with aplomb.

The second game was eventually was won by Emma. So wrapped in the competition were we there was genuine shock when Matt tumbled out in round two. Jo, not quintessentially Steppenwolf Jo, not Jo in Australia, not Jo who’s mum to Alice, another Jo, Matt’s girlfriend, and a legend in her own right, stepped up. She drew back the tarpaulin and took aim.

There was silence, deafening silence. I’m not talking about hush; I’m talking about 15 people unable to breath in anticipation of her shot. She had to abort the shot to tell everyone to calm down and stop taking it so seriously.

The failure of Richard to make an impression on either game lead to Ray publicly denouncing his son’s inability to shoot straight or “get a proper job”. He said he wanted Matt to be his son, and Matt accepted.

Upon completion of each game was the induction into the Hall of Fame, the shot from behind the settee. That completed, it was time for the gala, a bit of showboating. So Ray got a match, lit the candle with it, and then put it in his mouth. The idea was that the champion would try to blow out the candle and match before it burnt Ray’s face off.

I forgot to tell you that Ray has a big bushy moustache that seriously curtails the amount of burn time before we had to call an ambulance. He didn’t burn himself, but I don’t think Di’s going to be happy when she sees the carpet.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got, I’m just Ruffles on the blog

In terms of taste making, I am the second interview to fame. I’m not the first interview, I’ve never seen an unsigned band who went on to headline Glastonbury, nor am I the isometric test, I do miss more often than not – The Frank and Walters really should have done much better. But I can give a serious leg up to evolving fashions. If you get past me, fame is a short hop away. For example, I was into the Happy Mondays long before they charted, I saw Radiohead at Kingston University just after they released Creep for the first time (I thought they were noisy rubbish – I didn’t say that I could consciously spot a talent), I bought the first Oasis single before its official release and have been to an Oasis after party pre the days when the likes of Tony Blair turned up. I’d been ‘into’ Norman Cook long before Rockerfellar Skank went big. Likewise, I was rocking the football casual look years before Liverpool scallies started nicking La Coste; I’ve worn combat trousers since I was knee high to a grasshopper. My mum bought me a pair of Nike trainers when I was 11, which saved me from a beating from the school nutcase (my Nike’s were ‘cool’, and I taught him on how to make the tongues stick up – thinking now, that makes me proud, hopefully its subsequently saved him a few buggerings in the jailhouse ever since).

Luckily my hair has a natural sense of style too, without doing anything to it, during the football casual era, I had the hairstyle, and during ‘baggy’ I was effortlessly able to cultivate the ‘curtains’. And now inexplicably, my hair is growing into a Hoxton fin.

Others are not so lucky and this is becoming an increasing concern. The application of hair gel amongst men is, quite frankly, out of control. Male grooming is not something new but the democratisation of hair care products for men is a recent intervention in socio-economic terms. It’s also an example about how you shouldn’t just dish out power and responsibility to those without the mental capacity to cope with it or use it properly.

This Christmas period has brought it into stark contrast for me. The busy shops, coupled with my 6ft 3inch frame has seen me, on many occasions, gazing down on to the top of great lumps of greasy, sorry, “wet look” hair styles of teenage boys. The fashion it seems is a variation of the Bobby Charlton scrape-over: the Scrape Forward, with the liberal application of wet look hair gel is possible to mould your hair into about 7 matted strands, each of which is teased to run parallel to each other from the front to the back of the head. It is usually finished off with the fringe standing up vertically, like you’ve run into a door.

Firstly, where does the fashion come from? I don’t see So Solid Crew or Limp Bizkit having Scrape Forwards. Secondly hair gel is one of those things where the actual reason for its existence (to create stylish hairstyles) has become utterly detached from its reason to be consumed – teenage boys don’t want good hairstyles, they just want gel in their hair. Now what we have is an entire industry dedicated to selling hair gel to people who simply plop it on their heads and look like turds. It’s a bit like selling cigarettes; it’s not sold to people who want them, just to people who feel they need them. It’s morally corrupting; they should ban hair gel advertising like they have with cigarettes. There are people making millions from others’ misplaced perceptions.

Mind you, don’t tell everyone, the whole economy works like that. If anyone ever found out, we’d all be fucked.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Conduit to fiscal furnishment catastrophe

The one good thing about lunch times in London is the excessive number of lunch options available to the happy, hungry worker. My preference was always Benjy's, the cut price sandwich eaterie apparently run exclusively by Eastern Europeans. I was always pleased to see Berute serving at the shop near Victoria Station. I wasn't adverse to the odd Pret A Manger, but could never get the hang of your average London deli run by huge families of Turks. I couldn't decide my order in time and couldn't quite work out the process between getting your sandwich and paying for it, and if I'm honest, I was a little scared to ask. Instead I went for the easy to use Sandwich chains.

But I'm not in London anymore, I'm in High Wycombe which brings with its own problems, especially at lunch time. Wycombe's oppressive parking restrictions mean a quick jaunt into town is largely out of the question. There is a Shell garage across the road who do a neat Ploughmans sandwich, and our nearest pub has Exotic dancers every lunchtime. For true decadence, and free parking there is Tesco or Asda.

Yesterday I went with Asda, because it was near John Lewis and I had presents to buy. Before I went in I thought I'd check my balance at the cash machine. I popped my card in and plugged in 3-5-6-7, my pin number. Then the screen went blank and the lights dimmed. I had managed to time my query with a bloddy power cut, which is a bollocking stupid thing to do eight days before Christmas. The card (number 3545 9090 8933 0408 expiry 05/05) was stuck in the machine. I asked Mrs Asda what would happen when the power came back on, she said 'It'll probably just pop back out' which is the single thing I didn't want it to do. So I had to wait, and wait, and wait. Then the machine rebooted, and the card stayed in. I am now living on cash money only. I have bundles of £20's in my pockets, I feel like Del Boy Trotter.

Not to mention a little vulnerable.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Christmas shopping

“We haven’t done that section over there” said the woman waving her podgy finger across 200 square metres of prime Aylesbury retail. On Saturday we went into town in an attempt to spend half the GDP of Botswana on presents nobody wants for people who we don’t want to buy for. I’m generally avoiding the shops again this year by peddling the same ‘social experiment’ card I’ve used for the last three. There’s not much mileage left in the ‘I’m seeing if I can do all my Christmas shopping on the internet” but I’m giving it one last airing. Even I know internet shopping isn’t reliable enough to specify which Christmas day the presents are guaranteed to arrive by.

“Ooh look” said the over excited woman pointing at a plastic bowl divided into sections with a small portion of peanuts, Bombay mix, crisps, and Cheerio’s. The bowl was tastefully rapped in plastic and tied up with gold ribbon to make a delightful Christmas snack.

There’s a loud sigh as I drift upstairs to check out presents for Sophie. There’s a man with a shaven head and a gait like a bear sweating as he walks away from the cash desk holding a pack of ladies briefs, beyond him are hordes of men with haunted looks on their faces. The lingerie section is nearby.

They’ve lusted over the belle du jours; Melinda Messenger and Cat Deeley, they’ve seen the advert where Hermione Grainger flashes her knickers and resolved to furnish their beloved with the foxy blue lacy number she’s wearing to flick the switch of passion that hasn’t been fingered in an age. Then, in the shop, everything changes and the confidence just drains away.

“Right, this is it, the basque, g-string, and suspenders, no backing out now … or the bra and knickers… or the camisole… or that three pack of pants, or the silky nightdress, or that towling robe…. mind you that jumper looks alright.”

And bollocks, another Christmas with the wife dressed in brown underwear and a scowl.

Underwear isn’t made for men to buy. The labels are so small you can’t just grab and go, instead you have to finger you’re way through a rack of highly engineered balcony bras. One slip and you’re wearing it. It’s a living nightmare.

I’m finding out what it means to be thirty. It’s not a bad age, but you do have to accept that you’re more likely to see people you know from school in Early Learning Centre than in the pub.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Human achievements

Emma's passed her Head Teaching qualifications. Hurray, I can retire.


This, is my Granda, the fact we never gave him the final ‘d’ in his name didn’t hinder him from having rather significant impact on the world. He died just over a year ago, but enjoyed a long life and his career as a research scientist that enjoyed history-changing achievements that are noticeably lacking in every generation of our family since.

I’m probably the only Grandson in the world who has a Granda who is also a resonance, and whilst that sounds like a plot line from a sixties Children’s Film Foundation film, it’s actually true, click to remind yourselves of the fundamentals his theory.

Some of his life sounds like a James Bond film. On top of his resonating, he received an OBE for being part of the team that invented radar, and Russian ‘officials’ often visited him during the cold war. Very Mish Moneypenny. In fact some of his work colleagues actually defected to Russia during the 60’s. My Granda was loyal to his country, or so I’ve always assumed.

For a man of his generation he was remarkable in more than just his professional career. For example he was a socialist and a liberal, consider that my Grandma used to refer to black people as “pygmies”, and you get a picture of how he stands out. Incidentally I once overheard two old ladies talking at a bus stop: -

“A man came to my door yesterday”
“Was he a postman?”
“No, he was a black man”

More than this he was a fine philosopher, with an excellent line in advice that both all my family and myself have benefited from over the years. It seems selfish to keep it under wraps.

“Agree with everything and do what you want, do whatever you want until someone tells you to stop”

I suppose it just says, be yourself and don’t impinge on others, it sounds simple, but it’s a great reliever of modern day angst.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The funniest joke in the world

As you know Monday night is 5-a-side night. It’s also supposed to be training for the St. Mary’s Church Team. They play in the Chiltern Church League, and are doing very well, as a matter of fact. The fact it’s a church team is irrelevant as barely two players attend regularly.

Every week I ask Gareth whom they’re playing, and he says, “Dunno Saint somebody or other”

Every. Damn. Week. And it’s not getting any less funny.

Gareth describes himself as “A bit homophobic, not a lot though”. Last night he smacked me in the mouth in a tackle, but probably not because I’m a woofter.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Andy King's a Homosexual, He ain't got no fucking testicles

Andy King's shag's his mother
Then his sister, then his brother
Then they all go shag each other
In the Swindon slums

Into the cauldron of hate entered an insane warrior with a maniacal look on his face, the tension that had hung over this fixture to exploded, spitting its venom across the stadium. Weeks of malice, weeks of fans exchanging abuse. Is this what we needed? This nutter sprinting unabated at the Swindon fans shaking his fists? A man hiding behind an allegiance to a football club, kissing the badge on his shirt, hollering his manic ramblings through his beak.

Did I say beak?

Ronny the rocking Robin is Swindon’s mascot, this big six foot three inch robin that sprints around, slides on his knees, bangs advertising hoardings and leads the Scum singing. Quite frankly, he pisses all over Ollie the Ox.

You've got to give them their victories when they deserve them, I suppose.

Three years ago I stood on the terraces at Oxford's rusting stadium, the Manor, and got chest pains as we narrowly avoided relegation. A year later we shipped 100 goals, were relegated by April and I was shrouded with a simple gloom. By the time last season came around I was just feeding the habit with an evermore dirty, diluted drug. Each time I used it I hoped for one of those old buzzes, each time I was left sullied and unfulfilled.

Ten minutes before yesterday’s kick-off the air was filled with Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, it was ear splitting. Then they put on some Euro pop and the stadium began to jump, the whole place began to sing, and wave, and dance. The stand shuddered under my feet, that used to happen at the Manor, but that was because it was about to fall down, but this was because there was a wall of noise enveloping the whole stadium.

A lump came to my throat.

I've watched Oxford since I was three, I've seen them at Wembley, seen them beat Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea but in the last four years I've watched the club die under the weight of crippling debt and piss poor karma. I've stood on the terraces seeing the sands of the club's life slip through my fingers. Then yesterday it woke up again, and I had no idea how much it meant to me.

We hadn't even kicked off.

1-0, Jefferson Louis, 65 minutes. They showed the dressing room during the draw for the 3rd round; when it came out as Arsenal at Highbury Jefferson ran around stark bollock naked live on TV. If only I'd had such foresight.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

How things have changed

So, there I was in the Golden Tulip, in Manchester, though it’s name suggests it’s a strip club, it’s actually a hotel opposite the Old Trafford football ground. I was there readying myself for a conference next day. Typically, we met for dinner, exchanged pleasantries, ate well, arranged what was happening in the morning, and retired to our bedrooms. It was 10.30.

My, how things have changed, this same week past has been Online. An exhibition I used to be involved in organising. The exhibition subsumed the whole company; it was so all encompassing nobody who worked on it thought about Christmas until it past. Katharine, or Kathaaaarrrine, told me once that somebody totally unrelated to the exhibition once suggested to her a big night out the week before the exhibition, with tears in her eyes she inadvertently blurted out “But it’s Online” perplexed at how the world carried on whilst the show was being put together. No wonder she was so obsessed, she was subject to many rumours about her sexual impropriety at the show. And that was just the start.

The run up to Online was manic, traditionally we lived off Satsumas and donuts, and if we managed to have lunch, it was five minutes huddled in the back of the warehouse with haunted thousand yard stares. The weekend before the show was all midnight finishes and takeaway food.

When the show happened something had to give. The week at Online had it all. One session, which ended with us being thrown out of a restaurant, was aggressively debated in subsequent board meetings. Dave had chosen his moment to embark on a passionate monologue about poor pay and poor conditions, whilst sinking a fourth bottle of hotel wine on the company tab.

Another had one of our party throwing up no less than sixteen times in one day after a robust session in the bar. She decided that she would have to bail the following night’s drinks, and then didn’t. Four years later, the same person ordered a round in the hotel bar that amounted to more than her week’s room bill. The thing was, she had no idea she’d done it until she was checking out.

Exhibitors have threatened to throw me down the stairs, and one year the Fire Marshall wouldn’t let the doors open on the first day because a car was parked in front of a fire exit. This caused my director to stand in front of a queue of eager visitors and bang on the door with her fist, yelling in her aggressive Irish brogue “GET THESE FUCKING DOORS OPEN”.

The mornings were early, the nights were late. One night, after a week of late night drinking I began hallucinating that all the lights in the bar were rushing at me, and I had to leave. I remember one conversation with Jo who’s quintessentially Steppenwolf which passed thus: -

“What time are we meeting tomorrow?”
“7am, but I don’t start to worry about the morning’s until it gets past 3am”
“It’s 4.15”

By Thursday we had to leave, partly because it was the last day, but mostly to save ourselves from ourselves. We all went back in a minibus and ate chips, got back to the office and went home, we had Friday’s off, and didn’t do anything productive until at least January.

And now my business trips are sober, tawdry affairs, I have no desire to go to the bar until 3am, I’d like to, but you need a decent gang for it to really kick off, and I’m thinking that those heady Oxford publishing days were a pretty unique, yet potent mix you can’t easily replace.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Remember folks

Oxford United Vs Swindon Town, Live on BBC1, 1pm.... look at the Oxford end directly behind the goal about two thirds of the way up, row V seat 85.

That's me.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Stories of the scum

On Sunday Oxford play The Scum (aka Swindon Town) in the 2nd round of the FA Cup. Oxford’s rivalry with The Scum is fearsome, and runs much more deeply than our rivalry with Wycscum Wankers (Wycombe Wanderers).

It’s going to be ugly, on Saturday we played Lincoln City, and some Swindon fans turned up for a ruckus. Get that, whilst their team played Peterborough at home, Swindon fans turned up at Oxford a week early for a fight. Oxford’s stadium has no segregation, and there is always trouble at these games. What’s more, the part of the ground where Scum and Oxford fans meet will be in full view of the main TV gantry, the game is being broadcast live on BBC1. Oh dear.

As if the flames needed more stoking, this is the first meeting for a few years, the first time we’ve met in the FA Cup, the first game at our brand spanking new stadium.

My first ever Scum derby was when I was quite small, I had no idea of the rivalry (I was in a duffle coat with gloves attached to a piece of string at the time) and we won 5-1. Afterwards both sets of fans rampaged onto the pitch; my lasting vision was of one Scum fan being chased by a hoard of Oxford nutters. Realising he had no hope of escape, he turned and ran at them, all on his own, and they scattered.

After that Oxford went up the leagues, whilst Swindon went down. Then the opposite happened, we played each other as we crossed over. Out the back of the Swindon ground is a big field where the police shepherd everyone out to so the fighting doesn’t disturb the neighbours. I’ve actually had to plead with Police to let me get to my car insisting I didn’t want to go and do any fighting with the rough boys.

The best time was in our promotion season five years ago. Charlie, dark and demonic, came to watch. We were in the middle of a 16 match unbeaten run which would see us promoted after getting to Christmas in 14th position. After about 20 minutes Matt Elliot volleyed in from 20 yards through a crowd of players. Everyone went beserk, I turned to see Charlie with his arms straight in the air being bounced up and down by an old bloke who was hugging him. Charlie was loving it, he had a big boyish grin on his face, we all were. We went onto win 3-0, Joey Beauchamp got the third in front of the Swindon fans, pure magic.

And so onto Sunday. On Football Focus they described it as a Pig’s Head Derby, after Barcelona fans threw a pigs head onto the pitch in a game against arch rivals Real Madrid. It’s going to be intimidating, ugly, violent, and disgraceful… I for one, can’t wait.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Ear worm

An ear worm is a song that gets stuck in your head according to Meg. Today I’ve had an ear worm all day it goes…

The Bear went over the mountain
The Bear went over the mountain
The Bear went over the mountain
To see what he could see
And all that he could see
And all that he could see
Waaassss (hold on until breath runs out)
The other side of the mountain
The other side of the mountain
The other side of the mountain
Was all that he could see

This is a song that my sister sings to Sophie. Kirsty has quite a mothering dilemma, she’s worried that Sophie (aged 5 months) thinks she’s boring… because she has Weetabix for breakfast every morning.

This would normally be considered an issue of whimsy, but Kirsty has started having toast to spice up her breakfast eating and win approval from her daughter.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Most sense she ever makes

Emma is the best sleep talker in the whole world, I can regularly come to bed and have 10-minute nonsense conversations with her about “moving mice”, or “leaving the, y’know, thing”. Last night she blurted out: -

“Catherine Edwards don’t stamp on the magic hat”

And was snoring loudly before I had the chance to sit bolt up in bed and say “Wha..?, Huh…? Who the fu…?”

It’s not her best performance. That was a few years ago. I was watching telly whilst she was in a deep sleep, suddenly she sat upright: -

“Are we doing indoor games?” she said

I ignored her, thinking she’ll just sink back into her slumber, she sat their for a moment.


It made me jump and I asked her what she wanted.

“I SAID, are we doing indoor games?”

I said yes, and she went back to sleep.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Normal service is resumed

OK, so I got back to my average number of readers today
OK, so people I used to work with emailed today
OK, apparently the last week of pay from my old employer is in the post
OK, so I had a really good sing song to Coldplay in the car coming home
OK, so everyone emailed me to say they loved me

Well, nearly all those statements are true. Everything is, by and large, back to normal today, intriguingly complex aren’t I?

I’ve cut my finger. Not just little nick, it’s a hacking great chunk out of the top of my thumb. Apparently it’s the risk you take when you’re chopping peppers with a bread knife. The plaster slipped off whilst I was reading Hello (actually, for accuracy it was the supplement Hot Stars) on the toilet this morning, and I didn’t have time to find a replacement so I’ve had to look at it, with the bit carved out, all day. It’s not nice to look at, but Emma insists I give it some air.

It’s not the first time my hands have been subject to such torture. About three months ago I was trying to remove something jamming the draw, and felt the flesh on my finger pierce down the cold sharp edge of a carving knife blade. It was like when you cut raw chicken, only more painful. There was blood everywhere. When I was really small I managed to pick the wrong end of a sparkler up and burn my hand. The following year I did it again. When I was about ten I was pretending a glass bottle of pop was a machine gun. The pressure of the shaken 7Up got too great the top popped off it and I dropped the bottle. Instinctively I tried to catch it, but I was caught by the shards bouncing off the ground. I now have a 3cm scar in the palm of my hand. We were in France on holiday and the doctor couldn’t explain that the sugar cube he was soaked in alcohol and designed to numb the pain, so I just bit on some rope whilst he applied some magic formula. Much to my chagrin, the bloody mess in my hand had cleared up by the time I got back to school, and so I impressed nobody.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Sudden wave of introspection

I had planned to post a list of my favourite Teletext pages up today, but in a move that surprised even me, I’m feeling rather melancholy. I’m not really prone to bouts of paranoia, although it does wrack me occasionally, but though I’ve wanted post when I’ve felt like this before, but in the past, by the time I’ve got to a keyboard I’m always been feeling fine again.

Today is a bit different, and I can’t be sure why the cloud is lingering. A whole heap of little things have happened, none of which should cause even a blip on the Melancholy-o-meter but these things accumulated, plus the right wind direction and a combination of physiological elements, and hey presto, I’m feeling a bit gloomy. I’m regretting my regrets a little bit more today, cursing my mistakes with a little more venom, reliving them one by one and shuddering at the thought. I relive opportunities I missed 15 years ago, justify them, smile, and then feel stupid at what I passed up. I’ve been thinking about those moments when you wish you had clarity of thought to act properly but you didn’t and you acted like a tit. I’ve been stupid and thoughtless on countless occasions, and what glooms me is that I know that that’s me, that’s my demon, there’s nothing I can do about it. Much like people who wouldn’t hurt a soul will never hurt a soul. People like me, acerbic and caustic, will always be acerbic and caustic. And as a rule I like nice people, not nasty ones, so where does that leave me?

I don’t regret who I am; life certainly hasn’t treated me badly, on the absolute contrary. I great friends, a superb family, I have a moderately successful life, and by some people’s standards, a very successful life. But at times I question who’s adding value to whom in all these relationships. At work I constantly question how much value people are getting from me, but when it boils down to it, I don’t really care that much. But in my relationships with my friends, who is getting more from that relationship? Ideally it should be a balance, but it’s never going to be like that because life isn’t all straight lines and balance. There has to be an imbalance somewhere, but which way does it tip? I can’t really rationalise why the relationships I have with my friends would ever tip in their favour. What is it do they get from me? It’s difficult to tell. I guess the answer is that it fluctuates from one side to another, and that when the scores are totted up, it comes out just about equal. The thing is, when it’s balanced towards me, I don’t appreciate it or worse, I don’t say it, and when it’s balanced towards them, I can’t see it.

I’m well aware of who reads this site, and it’s mostly people who know me. And, I guess all this navel gazing and whinging is really rather self-pitying. Which it undoubtedly is. But I just thought I should post up how I’m feeling. It’s interesting, at least, trying to articulate it.

Oh, so what has caused the gloom? Well, very few people came to my site today, I finally got round to emailing the people I used to work with (not Clare and Meg, the others) and nobody replied. Then I found out that my last employer haven’t paid me my final week of salary, and now I’m thinking the title of my last post was a little risqué, after all there isn’t a friend of mine that hasn’t been sold up for a cheap gag in the past.

OK, you can all stop nodding now.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Snuggling up to the old log files

I got my latest log files through yesterday and I’m thrilled, I’ve had people clicking through from all over the shop: -

Jo, who’s quintessentially Steppenwolf’s Blog


Slut Wife Story, which is full of pretty girls.

It’s not the content I object to; it’s the train of thought.

Someone also found me through Google using the search phrase ‘boy pee campfire’. Which leads me finally to conclude that I shouldn’t be putting pictures of my niece Sophie up on this site.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Mo' pussy

In the tradition of bigging up my new readers, former pod buddies Clare and Meg, are now on board. Meg’s a bit showbiz and has stories to tell, one in particular is enough to get Hollywood lawyers on the phone and I’m only prepared to repeat it with proper legal representation. Anyway, she knows someone who’s been to an S Club Party and reports that it was crap. I quite like the idea of the literal interpretation of pop bands (stay with me on this). I’m watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party at the moment, and I think it would be worth seeing what happens when you set fire to the Blazing Squad.

Actually, this weekend, because of bad drainage at Kidderminster, I’ve watched too much telly. I was unfortunate enough to catch Blind Date last night. Some programmes are so bland they fly under the radar of criticism. As a result this utter detritus is allowed to return series after series pedalling its unadulterated evil, providing exposure to people who are so unutterably tedious, who are prepared to tow this evil line. This has serious cultural implications because it’s these people who are given exposure, who define the norm, a baseline upon which our culture is built, they are indirectly a responsible for Blazing Squad. I think a cultural cull is needed.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Meandering daze

One consequence of my new job is how much earlier I get home, sometimes early enough to see the tail end of Neighbours. It’s how I found out that Drew died falling off a horse. Emma doesn’t like this because after years of me coming home to find her toiling at the PC, I now come home to find the big piker snuggled up on the settee. When she was on the phone to Jo. Not ‘quintessentially Steppenwolf Jo’, nor the Jo who lives in Australia Jo, another Jo. When Jo phones you can easily write off an hour. She spends so much time on the phone her daughter Alice actually learnt to use the phone before she learnt to crawl. There are a few things I’ve made up on this site, but that’s not one of them. Anyway, when Jo last called Emma told her watching Neighbours was “her only pleasure”. Which was heartening.

I have many pleasures myself. After a night clubbing, there’s nothing like drinking coffee and reading tabloids on early morning weekend trains home. I love the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, and Sports Personality of the Year because it reminds me of the countdown to school Christmas holidays. It’s not something I do every week, but I love being at service stations on Saturday lunch times to see the nation’s football fans criss-crossing the country supporting their teams. I love being part of that pilgrimage, going to watch Oxford play away from home, especially if the journey’s long and pointless. It’s all about after the game, you see, being freezing cold, getting in the car, putting the heating on full blast and listening to Sports Report on the radio. On Saturday I planned to travel up to Kidderminster to see Oxford play on one of these deliciously pointless pilgrimages. Unfortunately, just as I was about to leave I checked Teletext (another great pleasure) and found the game was off because of a waterlogged pitch. Damn.

So I had a blank day, Emma was in London, so I had nothing to do. Saturday TV is mostly dreadful and I didn’t really want to traipse into town or anything. So I decided to watch the Rugby.

But I don’t get rugby, Simon is positively impassioned by it, and lots of people I know would cut their testicles off to go to a game at Twickenham. But, for me, though the prospect of watching an international is tempting, I sit down and can’t go more than 10 minutes before my mind begins to drift. When games reach their climactic finale, nothing burns in me.

On Saturday I decided to watch the game using my own rules. So I thought of it as a tussle between liberal men in touch with their feminine side and homophobes. I didn’t think it was such a bad pretence for a sport. The objective of the game was for all these big burly men to try and give big girly hugs to the man holding the ball and the objective of the man with the ball was to be the rampant homophobe i.e. that he had to avoid being hugged.

It worked, I watched for nearly 20 minutes before going upstairs and playing on my decks.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Vote Goldie

This blog is fundamentally a one-man forum, an opportunity for me to share my hopes, pains, desires and views with anyone who cares to read. I have introduced my friends, told stories of my past, but strangely rarely ventured into the world of current affairs.

Is Celebrity Big Brother the only arena where you’ll hear TV’s Anne Diamond ask TV’s Les Dennis to ‘Crack one off’ live on telly? Why is Les in the house? He’s clearly troubled; nervous and agitated. Why is he going through this pain? He has a beautiful wife, a good showbiz career, and doesn’t have too much trouble paying the bills - he should be content.

Of course, there is a dark side. It wasn’t so long ago his beautiful wife, TV’s Amanda Holden publicly humiliated him by having an affair with TV’s Neil Morrissey in full gaze of the tabloid press. Somehow their marriage survived, not that it did Les any good, he just came over as a simpering fool, desperate to keep her because he knew he could get no better, she, on the other hand, flitted between men at will. It was a slight on Les’ very manhood.

And here’s where the motivation for going into the house comes in. This is a house that broadcasts live and unedited throughout the day and night. The plan is to start to develop a close friendship with Anne Diamond. One night, whilst the drink is flowing, Les will begin reveal to Diamond the inner demons of his humiliation with Holden. She will undoubtedly respond, her ex-husband publicly humiliated her by running off with a woman 20 years his junior. Les may shed a tear, Anne will comfort him with a hug, Les will begin to kiss one of her chins and slip his hand up her jumper, the one that begins to billow at the shoulder and doesn’t taper until it hits her knees. Passions within Anne will be re-ignited. They will go to the bedroom, and begin to have drunken, passionate, filthy, animal sex. Anne will bellow like a bull seal, Les will swing like he’s riding a bucking bronco, then half way through whilst Les is banging away he will turn to the camera in the ceiling, stick his thumb in the air and scream: -


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

The longest night

Reading Festival 1993-ish, Saturday night, our usual festival brethren of me, Wiggaz, Choggaz, Glidder, Melissa and Kazza wander wearily back to our campsite. It's been a great night, B-Real of Cypress Hill lit a spliff so big it cast a shadow over Pangbourne, Perry Farrell's turgid post-grunge fire-eating stripping go-go girls show forced us to the second tent. Blur, a week after they were told they were about to be dropped by their record company, tear the roof off and subsequently save their careers. We're tired now, we'll probably go straight to bed, I want to see Collapsed Lung at lunch time tomorrow, and we'll be in the arena all day, The Gravediggaz and Goats are on and the Chilli Peppers are headlining.

For no reason there's time for one more drink round the campfire before bed. We're festy veterans, we have a six man tent, lilos and duvets, deck chairs and a bin full of beer. Glidder and Melissa retire to their snug two man which is so plush we suspect it's got an ensuite bathroom. It's just me, Choggaz, Wiggaz, and Kazza. Let's have a drink, Let's have another.

It's getting late, the site is beginning to quieten down, it always takes a couple of hours so we must be getting close to 1am. The lights that are strung up along the pathways are no longer bouncing up and down, that always happens, some gibbons think it's the funniest thing in the world to climb up onto the pylons, but it's just part of the Festival at night, blood curdling screams, distant beats, fire.

Wiggaz decides it's time to move onto something more warming and pulls out the bottle of Vodka. It's August, but it's cold and we're approaching 2am, I pull my Orb beanie down over my eyebrows and pull my hood up. Choggaz turns up Derek B's Bad Young Brother on the stereo, maybe too loud, are Melissa and Glidder are still awake? There’s no answer. Nobody’s going anywhere fast, and Derek B is one bad young brother, turn it up.

Wiggaz tries a party trick, he's spitting vodka onto the fire causing it to billow blue flames up round his eyebrows. Choggaz makes a low sweep with his leg and catches Wiggaz's ankle causing him to fall forwards into the flames. Just, only just, he misses burning his face off; he reaches for a can of Stella and slams it onto Choggaz's head. I take a picture; we actually capture the moment between the can being crushed into his skull and Choggaz yelling in agony. It's a great picture. They race off into the gloom, Choggaz lamps Wiggaz and with honours even, they disappear off for a piss against a car.

It must be 3am now, maybe closer to 4. ‘Do you think Melissa and Glidder are still awake’ we ask. There’s no answer. A bedraggled stranger appears from the gloom he has a blanket from Joe Banana's Illegal Rave Tent.

'Who’s here?' asks the man
'Three blokes and a cheap bird' says Kazza

We invite the tired traveller to join us, he takes a seat and is grateful for our hospitality, he has a beer, there's not enough vodka to go around.

'Tell us your lore old man'
'My mate's met a girl and he's kicked me out of the tent'
'What is your name and from whence you come?'
'Ryan, I'm from Rhyl'
'Is there not a sun centre in Rhyl?'
'There is, you can hide on the roof and wank off to the women on the sundeck, it was how I spent my teenage years, can I sleep in your tent, it's quite big'

We tell him we’re about to go to bed, a big three boy one cheap bird gang-bang, he leaves, the sun is peaking over the horizon, Kazza goes for a piss, being a girl she can't just pee up a car, she has to go to the toilet block so she'll be a while. More vodka, more beer, more asking whether Glidder and Melissa are still awake.

"Where's Kazza?" I ask
"Gone for a piss" says Wiggaz
"But that was a long time ago" says I

It was a long time ago, it's late, so late it's nearly early. Nasty things happen on festival sites. Drunk women on their own are attacked, raped, murdered even.

We have another drink.

She's still not back.

"Where's Kazza?" I ask
"Gone for a piss" says Wiggaz
"But that was a long time ago" says I

We have another drink. There's a golden haze in the air, Choggaz announces that bedtime is past, and we're to watch the sun come up. It's still very cold, through the tents we see someone coming. It's Kazza, she's been gone a long time.

"Kazza, where you been?" I ask
"I went for a piss" she says
"But that was a long time ago" says I
"Yeah, I came back, felt a bit pissed and fell asleep under that car over there" she says pointing towards a battered white metro not 15 feet away. "I heard everything you said, but I was paralysed so I couldn't move, thanks for coming to look for me"
"No problem" Says Wiggaz

The site is waking up, the sun is warming and the relief from the night is tangible. People appear from their tents scratching their heads and sniffing lager cans in the hope they'll find something to clear the fluff from their mouths. We go to bed.

At 10.30 we're awake, Melissa's making tea and scrambled eggs in their en-suite kitchen. Apparently they haven't slept either, three blokes and one cheap bird kept asking whether they were awake. Wiggaz sinks a cup of Resolve and throws up on the fire. He then goes for a walk, spotting some friends about 20 feet away. We watch as he ambles over, avoiding the guy ropes, stands briefly as they eat their cornflakes round the ashes of last night's campfire, and projectile vomits all over it. He comes back and goes to bed. We follow and sleep until 2pm. We miss Collapsed Lung.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Great soap deaths #64: Theo Falls Out Of His Anorak

The Holyoakes boys go on a potholing weekend, but their van is caught in a landslide leaving them hanging precariously over the side of a cliff. Theo, he of the no storylines, is left semi concious in the arms of OB, he of perpostrous mancunian accent.

As the cliffside erodes the van destablises and the back doors fling open. Theo slips out of his anorak, out the doors and to his death leaving OB with holding the cagoule.


Great tabloid phone polls #8: The Mirror

Who had the greatest scoop?

The Mirror for the Paul Burrell case
The Washington Post for Watergate

Phone now!

Sunday, November 17, 2002


Emma works in a school which has a number of children from the "Traveller Community", on Saturday we had stopped at the site's local supermarket. Emma doesn't like being near the school as she risks being spotted by children and parents. Me, I was on gypo-watch: -

"Are they gypos?"
"What about them, are they gypos?"

This went on right up until we got to the check-out when exasperated, I spotted a couple of people packing their shopping at the end of the check-out who I assumed had to be travellers, he had a shaven head and pierced ears, she had a shire horse and was selling lucky heather.

"What about them?"

Emma paused and contemplated them for a while, I was breathless with excitement, about to get an inside view on what constitutes a traveller...

"No" she said
"How can you tell?" said I, beginning to doubt her authority
"Well, for one thing, they're paying."

AND before you start on at me about my non-PC posting, let me just stress to you, its not the traveller lifestyle I object to, it's the violence and thuggery of some of their kin which makes Emma's life a misery on a daily basis that gets me.

Tie of the round

FA Cup Round 2: Oxford United Vs Scumdon Town. Too excited for words.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Hairy Porter

Last night we went to see Harry Potter, well, I say last night, we actually saw the 5.45 showing. 5.45 is well before bed time for the 5-12 target demographic this film is clearly aimed at. Walking into the cinema was like walking into a pack of rabid Muppets, or the scene from Gremlins when the little monsters infest the town’s cinema - they were hanging from the ceiling and tearing down the curtains.

Nobby did his patented Cinema blag, we were allocated Row B (at Star Wars we had Row A), seats so close to the screen it burns your retinas, so close, if you started looking at the left hand side of the screen, the film was finished before you got to the right, so close I was in danger of having an image of Ron Weasley etched on my eyeballs forever more. But with Nobby's Cinema Blag you simply tell the ushers that the seats are terrible and can we have better ones, they instantly lead you to the best seats in the house, the middle of the middle. It's like some kind of Jedi mind trick.

Its a great film, Much Better Than The Last One (™ every reviewer in the world), like in the first one a lot of detail is taken out, but its done to clarify the story, Quidditch, for example, is merely a side issue. You actually leave the Cinema tying up the loose ends going "Oh yeah, that's why such-and-such did that".

Watching it with the 5-12 demographic provided added dimensions to the experience. The predictive commentary is slightly annoying: -

'Hrrrrrmmmmmmiiiiinnnnneeeeee!' drifts across the cinema like a callow wind.

Here's Hermione


Oh, here's Errol.

"This is a great bit"

Cue: a great bit.

But they live it, they laugh like drains at the funny bits, scream at the scary bits and applaud at the end, and there should be no other way of watching it. Vic insisted we stay until after the credits for the added bit... make sure you do too, it's great.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Nosh and cheques

I've decided that we're posh, consider this: -

• We always eat at Pizza Express
• We buy Tesco blue stripe mature cheese, which is more expensive than mild
• Last Month we accidently paid our phone bill twice... how rich must we be?


Simon has told the story of last Thursday's night at Bedrock. It's the story of our vaguely odd return to his house. You'd better go and read the story, I'll wait here whilst you go have a look.

Good wasn't it? I was sleeping downstairs in Simon's deluxe sleeping bag on the sofa bed in the living room. In the morning at about 7am, 5 hours after I had gone to bed, Baz came downstairs, switched on the living room light, and turned on the telly at full volume to watch the cricket without an ounce of consideration for the six foot snoozing worm-cum-guest in the corner.

I can forgive Baz for this, because his abject disregard for others is more than compensated in his comic value. When Simon appeared at 7.25 their conversation went something like this: -

Simon: "Morning Baz, how are you?"
Baz: "Pissed off"
Simon: "What are you going to do today?"
Baz: "I'm going to phone the landlord about the fucking house falling down"
Simon: "What are you going to say to him"
Baz: "I'm going to say 'Why has is fucking house falling down?'"
Simon: "Haven't you got that girl coming over this weekend? Your bed isn't good for romancing ladies"
Baz: "I'll be alright I'm going to check into a suite at the Langham"
Simon: "How much would that cost?"
Baz: "I don't care, the fucking landlord is paying"

Actually, Simon makes an excellent Ernie Wise in moments like this.

Nobody links me

According to my log files I have a small but happy band of regular readers (you guys are the greatest). I'm not going to tell you how many because you'll laugh... a first for this site. If I was a girl, this probably wouldn't be important, but I'm a boy and I peruse my log files avidly and make Excel spreadsheets of what they tell me. Site activity is growing a little. This has come from telling my friends and putting up the Friendsreunited entry, but I'm still not happy. Nobby has had referrals from Google on everything from dreams about cooking dogs to cassoulet, whereas Simon is the world's number 1 site for Gay Beefeaters in Uniform (and Nobby is number 3). Me, I haven't had a single comedy Google referral. What is it about my site? Perhaps my readership is the limit of my niche market i.e. people whose jobs are unfulfilling enough to spend time checking my site, and who are vaguely interested in me.

My key marketing channel, my Friendsreunited entry, has caused another reader has made herself known, except this time its my sister. I'm not really sure why she has chosen me as a lost friend to catch up with because I saw her last Tuesday. Weirdo.

Key Marketing Channel? Niche markets? Excel Spreadsheets of site activity? Vicki thinks I'm turning into one of 'them'. Oh bugger, maybe I am.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002


"Col, Col, COL!"

2 days into my new job and things are going dandy thank you very much. It's a bit of a weird situation in that I am now The Expert, supposedly. I am the man now charged with turning this company into a slick professional organisation, yet I still feel like I'm about 13 inside.


The majestic upside of it means I leave for work half and hour later than before, and get home no less than 1.5 hours earlier. People keep asking me what I'm going to do with all my extra time. Well, so far I've managed to establish that both Izzy from Hollyoakes and Libby from Neighbours are back on the market after Tony agreed to marry Clare Buckfield, and Drew fell off a horse and died.


In other words, I'm spending my time really quite productively.


Also we've managed to arrange with the Nobscrubs to go and see Harry Potter on Friday at 5.45, which was practically lunch time in my old commuting world. I am finally civilised.

BAM! 1-0

...and after five weeks I finally scored at 5-a-side. An absolute sizzler from a free kick from the moaning Scottish fat bloke Colin. I also hit the bar and post, and ran about like a man posessed, I was so in the zone. Am I fit?

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Getting a bit T'annoid

As I have mentioned previously I used to work for a publishing company in Oxford. It was a small friendly place thriving in a world of corporate monsters. There was a nice mixture of young, talented graduates - affectionately known as The Kids, of which I was one, and Jo, who is quintessentially Steppenwolf, another. Also, there was a raft of older, more established and experienced kin, who were equally talented, dedicated, hard working and loyal. We worked in a large country house with swimming pool in the garden on the edge of Oxford and in the summer we'd sit in the dappled sunshine eating our lunch and chatting amiably. The gentle family atmosphere meant it was the happiest time of my working life.

Briony, however, was, in my entirely individual and humble opinion (thanks to goes to my legal advisor Ed) a poisonous witch. She was PA to the Managing Director, and assumed therefore that she was second in command. She drew organisational charts with her name above all the other directors. If coffee cups were left unwashed, Briony would bring it up in board meetings, which she attended to take the minutes. She hated The Kids. Liz, a particularly loved Kid, briefly became the MD's protégé causing Briony to blow a gasket, she responded by insisting that Liz made photocopies of anything she produced so Briony could have keep them on file. Briony also managed the receptionists, of whom Anne used to help the editorial team when deadlines approached. One particular press day, Anne was working for Charlie, a sub editor who was explosive under pressure. At the frenzied peak of trying to meet their deadlines, Briony walked into the office and insisted that Anne go back to reception. Charlie hit the roof bellowing at her in the reception area whilst the rest of the company watched over the stairwell like the Von Trapp Children at a grand reception. The man was a hero. Briony was evil.

She was also incompetent. She once distributed an all staff memo with a photocopy on the back of a job offer to a generally disliked temp which amounted to a promotion above already established members of staff. She also accidentally saved all the MD's confidential letters and memos, along with her WI coffee morning rotas, onto the company network for everyone to read.

The company had a public address system that was mostly used by the receptionists to ask people to get them coffee rather than anything important. However, it didn't have blanket coverage of the building and there were black spots where you couldn't hear anything. Briony was charged with putting this right. She distributed an email to the whole company announcing that in response to the problems that three additional "Tanoids" would be installed to ensure coverage.

Well, sometimes you've got to step up to the plate.

I opened a blank email and began to type: -

Dear Briony,
Thank you for your email regarding the installation of Tanoids around the building. I would just like to clarify a number of points regarding the said action. You will appreciate that for the good of company communications it is important to be accurate in cases like this.

Firstly, in referring to Tanoids, I assume you refer, in fact, to Tannoy, a popular make of public address system. Tannoy is in fact the brand name, not the system itself. This is an easy mistake to make, as there are many cases where brand and product names have become interchangeable in the psyche of the nation. For example, Hoover is used to mean vacuum cleaner, and in America a photocopy is often referred to as a Xerox.

Secondly, the Tannoy, or Public Address System is the system as a whole, as I am not aware of any major faults with the existing system, I assume that we are not have three more public address systems installed. If three new systems are to be installed I can foresee two principal problems. Firstly, announcements will become excessively loud and though I realise there are black spots in the current coverage, it is not necessary for us to make announcements across the whole of Oxfordshire. Secondly with three systems installed, this means that those on reception will need to have three microphones in order to talk into them, as you will appreciate these will become difficult to hold so you may need something akin to a baseball catcher mitt in order to use them all at the same time. I therefore assume you mean that three additional speakers are being installed.

These are my concerns, I would be delighted to talk them through with you should you need any further clarification.

My finger hovered over the send button, and then, oops, it was off. I forwarded it to people round the building to show how clever I'd been. The phone started ringing off the hook, people came visiting calling me a genius. Briony was preparing her written complaint to the MD.

I was dragged in to see my director and told to go to Briony and apologies, apparently I was being "diffident" rather than helpful. I said that it was never my intention to upset her. I reiterated that if she ever wanted help with these things, she just had to call. The charm offensive knocked her off balance... she thanked me.

But never called.

Holy crap that was quick - a new reader

I used to work with Jo at a publisher in Oxford, one of those soap opera type companies, with a plethora of stories that deserve a web site all on its own.

Jo pointed me towards a site that creates a profile of you from your name. Jo, for example, is 'quintessentially Steppenwolf' which may or may not be a compliment. Justin Ruffles fails to register, but my real name, er, which is, of course, Justin Ruffles, suggests I am optimistic that the season’s challenges can be overcome. Which I am.

I was surprised to find that Simon is not only a distinguished British journalist but is expected to leave for London by a flight on Tuesday morning and is a hero to many Bangladeshis. I don't know, you think you know someone.

Nobby, under his real name, which is Nobby of course, is the principle site operator for Envynews, which I didn't know, and is enchanting on Embraceable You, which I did. He is also a Mac zealot and is quite categorically 'right'.

I'm upset to hear that Penny was torpedoed and sunk, but it's nice to see that her husband Mike is my favourite psuedo celebrity and a doctoral candidate at Dalhousie University. I talked to Mike only recently but he didn't tell me that he is currently modelling and recording new material for release later this year. He's particularly modest, because he has never mentioned that he is one of the most respected saddle designers in the west and his natural talent for art brings his paintings to life.

I'm not sure why he has added to his line of "girl" kits but it's good to hear that he is encouraged by how his strained right pectoral muscle is healing, are these things related? Well known among radio listeners, he is an old soul in a young body and is required to download them... what's that? He’s required to download young bodies?

Despite this dark side, he will always be first up to give us a tight and rolling rendition of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 'Halley Came to Jackson'.

Jo in Australia, as opposed to Jo who is 'quintessentially Steppenwolf', is designed for the visualization and analysis of surfaces and, I'm stunned to say, a founding member of the Cure but is now working towards a doctorate in clinical psychology at Concordia University.

Willy is an astronomer and assistant to the director of the Canberra Planetarium and observatory, a textile illustrator, a research fellow at King's, a nursing officer, an experienced teacher, an editorial assistant at Australian Leisure Management and a third year leisure management student at university of technology, and just 21 years old. Well done Clare.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

A black belt in showing off

I've just updated my Friendsreunited entry in an attempt to boost readership on this site, I know, how bonkers mad am I? Clearly I'm going to impress all the people who thought I was a bit of turd at school. It's a painful experience your Friendsreunited entry, a therapy far too long to go into on this blog, so I've decided to elaborate here.

If you have just arrived on this site come in, make yourselves at home, do you want to see we've done to the spare bedroom? Oh god, could you put a coaster under that mug, it'll stain.

You can read this blog as a convenient distraction from getting on with your work, or look at some nice pictures from Penny’s wedding or our holiday. You can join my mix club, which is completely free - I do mixes from time to time, and if you send me your details, I can send you a CD whenever one is ready. There's a new mix that I'm listening to as I type, I call it House Music All Night Long and it rocks. If you want to book me to play at your party, just send me an email.

OK, advert over let's get on with talking nonsense.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Fashion (turn to the left)

Last year I was on the train into London. Sitting in the near empty carriage I was aware of a gang of teenagers talking behind me. I knew they were teenagers because they started each sentence with 'Yeah, it's like, y'know...' I couldn't see all of them from where I was sitting, so it wasn't until I got off at Marylebone that I saw the girl with pink dreadlocks, piercings and unfathomably big trousers. My first reaction was to think 'does your mother let you out like that.' My second was 'Wow doesn't she look amazing', in a 'as long as she doesn't move in next door to me' kind of way.

My destination that night was a hot London underground club, Chewing The Fat; the nation's tastemakers have decreed it to be one of the coolest clubs in the country. Whilst I am as influenced by the media as much as anyone I wasn't simply following fashion, this was my kind of club, groovy breaks music, and I was, through happenstance, being cool. The Kids, however, were going somewhere else; presumably they were going to where the revolution is happening.

You see the clubs I enjoy are emptying; The Punters are going elsewhere for their kicks. The solution, apparently, is to get back to the Acid House ideals of 1989. But, much as I like the principle, I know the revolution will not be based on 13 year old ideals, The Kids think clubbing is old fashioned and they are planning something people like me will simply not understand. And that's the way it should be.

Last night we went to Bedrock, which is a tried and tested good night out. It didn't quite take off as we hoped but as I simply like being in clubs with big sound systems, I had fun. However, whilst this is what I enjoy, I know the revolution involving teenagers in pink dreadlocks and unfeasibly big trousers is happening elsewhere.

Simon wanted to take the opportunity to check out the latest club land fashion in an attempt to inspire him out of his trainers, combat trousers and t-shirts. What we observed was that whilst men’s club fashions have stagnated, women’s fashions have gone into a shocking nosedive. The pixie boot was much in evidence, and those floaty tops which only look good on supermodels where floating along to the booming bass lines. Those pushing the envelope even went as far as donning the Ironic Mullet - a look like you've had your haircut by Stevie Wonder. All terrible 80's throw back horrors, yet perhaps, there are boys looking at these girls and saying PWHOAR, or whatever it is young people say these days. Y'see I just don't understand club fashion's.

It's important to enjoy what you enjoy, and I enjoy going to clubs and listening to dance music but, as 60's, 70's and 80's nostalgia tours thrive in the face of clubland's collapse, I know that those I consider underground artists will soon be producing albums for Shania Twain and that I'm a short trip from embarrassing my kids at Acid House Tribute Tours featuring The Austrian Chemical Brothers.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Shameless attempt at improving my position on search engines

On Channel 4's More Sex Tips For Girls on Wednesday night, a couple discuss their humdrum sex life: -

"It's always the same, he plays with me, I give him a blow job, I go on top, he flips me over and we end up on all fours. You could set your watch by it"

Oxford United 0 Aston Villa 3

Oxford didn't threaten much, but the result flattered Villa who were little better. Tip for Oxford goalkeeper Andy Woodman, don't throw the ball in your own net twice in 3 minutes and you'll have a chance.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

How deep is my love?

Supporting Oxford over the years has seen me travel from Scotland to see us play Wolves, and from Boston (USA) to see us play Southend, both games ended in 0-1 defeats but by making the effort I feel, in some way, superior to your average Man Utd stay-at-home. On Saturday we travelled up to Carlisle, we lost 0-1, again. People ask whether it's worth it, I say yes, the result doesn't matter; it's the effort that's important. Probably.

Luckily for us, we didn't have to drive straight back afterwards. The game represented a good opportunity to stay with Nobby and Vicky Dobscrub at Vicky's parents. There are many things to enjoy when being entertained by the Dobscrub's. One in particular is triggering Nobby's overactive imagination. For instance, after this weekend, I look forward to the Year 6 end of term play about World War 2 Nobby's going to write for Emma. From what Nobby came up with on Saturday, it could end up being a real time re-enactment of the whole five years. It's likely to start with the invasion of Poland (which will be situated in the playground near the swings) and end with Hiroshima (stink bombs in the Year 3 toilets). The thing is, Nobby has exams to study for, and you just know he won't be able to concentrate until he's hired a couple of Spitfires for Act 2.

Also I find that Cumbria is, more than almost anywhere else in the UK, the most calming environment in which to spend a weekend. The other part of the experience is enjoying the Dobscrub's undoubted culinary excellence. It's a delight to eat, of course, the Meat and Potato pie before the grand Carlisle fireworks was delicious. But there is more than just cooking involved in these things, it was fun to watch Nobby 'save' the fried eggs on Sunday morning. Especially when Vic stood bemused in the middle of the kitchen waiting for some kind of adjudication from the referee, having been, rather violently, shoulder barged out the way. Nobby followed this up by turning on Vicky's mum and chastising her for letting her daughter cook two eggs in a such a small frying pan. Class.

All in all, I could spend a week up there quite happily, but we needed to get back. After a pleasant 4 hour journey up there, we had to endure 6.5 hours back getting stuck at all the traffic black spots up the M6. Luckily, you won't have to cultivate a 22-year friendship (yes, Vic that's how long it's been) to enjoy the delights of Cumbria, as very soon you'll be able to pay for the pleasure and hire out the cottages at the back of Vic's parents' pile. It'll be worth it believe me.

Friday, November 01, 2002


After 1752 days of continuous employment with the same people I've finally left for new pastures. As I had hoped, it was a quiet and dignified departure. I didn't get an exit interview, my P45 nor asked for the £2700 train ticket money I borrowed off them last month. When I told our pensions person I was leaving she said "By choice?". It was like I've never been employed.

My final day was spent placing useful clues as to what I do so I can't be accused of sabotaging my work. The people who should be interested simply aren't, that's their perogative, either my work has been worthless, or they are incompetent. Fundamentally, I know which of the two it is, and I'm not concerned.

Though deprived of two goodbyes because of holidays and pneumonia, and at least another two because people had left, I did rather well with around 15-20 people stopping by to say goodbye. I felt good.

I was pretty much the last person to leave, so the offices were eerily quiet as I said my silent farewells to fixtures and fittings. Finally I walked out onto the street and into a feeling of almost overwhelming relief. Away from commuting, away from a chore and a trial, from an organisation which batters peoples' spirits, and undermines their confidence. More than that, I walk away into something infinitely better. I don't like change, and perhaps in a few weeks I'll look back with rose tinted glasses, but I look forward to the unknown with excitement.

I have nearly two weeks holiday before I start my new job. I shall do some writing, sort out my web site, go to the Gym, play football, and have a mix. Mostly I shall enjoy being free.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Ain't that sweet?

Ed’s getting married to the lovely Bey next week, what with it being on the other side of the world, unfortunately we’re not going to make it. We were only invited to the evening do anyway, and 23 hours on a plane and 12,000 miles seemed a hell of a long way to go for a bit of YMCA and the Grease Megamix. He’s an avid reader of my Rufflin’ ways so here’s a touching opportunity to say: -

Good luck old bean, and to your fragrant wife to be. May your Turkish/Germanic/Anglo/Australian futures be furnished with all the happiness you deserve.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Leaving doo

People have started to realise I'm leaving. I am not senior enough to have it announced officially, nor do I consider myself popular enough to announce it myself - that is usually the domain of people in the post room or call centre or people who have been with the company for less than six weeks, for some reason. Nor have I been here long enough to deserve an official doo, nor short enough to sneak out with noone knowing. Inevitably people are asking about my leaving doo. I hate leaving doos, it's like cashing in your chips at the end of a night in the casino. You could invite half the organisation thinking they might be interested in seeing you off and then three turn up. These three people ultimately represent the net gain from your endeavours. Barman, one 'half empty' glass of lager please.

I've weighed up my options, and come to the conclusion that whilst I've probably worked with a good 40-50 people in the organisation. I'm likely to keep in touch with no more than two or three as friends, I may email another 5 or 6 with my new contact details. The rest I will largely forget, and they'll forget me. So my leaving doo is to be low key with people I want to spend time with, is that too much to ask? This strategy brings its own pitfalls, then people start asking why you're not hiring the Millenium Dome and inviting the whole world and asking if I have no friends. If you say you have got friends you sound desperate, if you say you haven't got friends, you sound desperate. You're not allowed to do low key things.

There are many complicated dynamics surrounding my leaving doo, not least that I moved jobs internally just three weeks ago, and I have been told categorically by my old department boss that there won't be another collection or card from them. I'm not looking for a present or even a card, but to categorically tell me that no more generousity (that's a £2 and sign a card type of generousity) will be given is a little disheartening. And, of course, though I really like my new Pod Buddies I've barely got to know my new department so I don't expect them to be interested.

This leaves the people I have aquainted with only from time to time, at arms length. The people who will come if they have nothing better to do. These people will be busy. So I see no point in disheartening myself with leaving doos, I don't think I can handle that kind of rejection.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Made me laugh anyway

From: DJ Yoda's How To Cut And Paste

Number 1: The Star Wars pastiche

"My name is Oobedoo Skedoobee, I have the silliest name in the galaxy."

"What's your middle name?"

"Scooby Doo"

"Oobedoo Scooby Doo Skedoodee?"

Number 2: The Jimmy Cricket Gag

"So there I was having my breakfast, Snap Crackle and Pop... which was strange because it was kippers"

Wednesday, October 16, 2002


When I was about 12 we used to play cricket on the “Helicopter Pad”, a circular clearing in an overgrown bramble on the edge of our estate. It was hardly, if ever, used to land helicopters as far as I could tell. Possibly because there weren’t any multimillionaire helicopter owners living on our estate of family sized new builds and maisonettes. With the distinct lack of chopper activity we used it because its edges served as convenient, though rather short, boundaries.

During one particular game, as I reached my quadruple century with my 37th consecutive six Jeremy, a kind of Gonch Gardner character produced from his pocket the last of the highly illegal French bangers he had brought back from a family holiday.

The application of these bangers had become more elaborate and ambitious as time went on. A loud bang in the middle of a field was no longer enough of a rush; we needed more ‘edge’. For example one time we lit one and rolled it down an alleyway making the bang louder and also offered, if we were really lucky, the chance to mutilate an unsuspecting dog walker coming up from the other end. Another time we embedded a couple of bangers in a cowpat. It was cool.

It was only a matter of time before we moved to blowing up wild animals.

Jeremy found a slug making it’s way to the boundary. Matthew, a chubby lad who became anorexic when he discovered girls, sensed the fun and gave up his bamboozling spin attack to watch. I stood from afar with the bat, patting down bumps like the pros do. A banger was lit, they both ran and BANG! Mud, stones, and presumably slug parts went everywhere.

“Did you hear it scream?” said Matthew.

Today, eighteen years later, thinking about this episode, it has only just struck me that he was perhaps making that bit up.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Goal drought... old pro

After three goals in three games I fired a blank at 5-a-side last night. I’m trying not to let it effect me as all strikers rely on confidence. I probably need one in off my backside, and I’m sure the goals will flow again. My list of ailments doesn’t help. Whilst my slight groin strain is merely uncomfortable, the soles of my feet are very sore - I now realise that having different trainers for different sports is not actually a sports manufacturers scam, (I include fashion as a sport in this particular instance). Oh, and cramp resulting from eating Spaghetti Bolognese too quickly didn’t help.

To compensate for my poor performance, I’m startled for find myself using ‘experience’ to compete during games. I don’t have the fitness or speed to throw myself around the pitch like others do, but I’m finding I do know a few little tricks which help me keep up. I make sure my positioning is good, and that I always pass to feet. But a big problem is stopping the ubiquitous 18-year-old tricky little winger. In events like this I’ve learnt to employ ‘the touch’ – rather than try to scythe his legs off and see myself humiliated by his quick Cruyff turn with double drag back, it’s far more effective to jog up behind him and put my hand on his back. This is enough to panic him into a wild cross-field pass into a melee of players. Job done, that’s what experience does for you. I guess psychologically, the reason for his panic is that he’s thinking that I’m about to inflict a jarring tackle on him, or give him a good bumming, either way, for him it’s preferable to concede possession.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Pod buddies

Having recently moved onto the second floor I am sitting with at a new pod (i.e. four desks facing each other). To my left is Meg and my right is Claire. Nobody sits opposite. Like most people here, they run a scheme with a three-letter acronym.

They are quietly efficient and refreshingly devoid of pretence - thoroughly normal, nice people. Meg has a picture of Robbie Williams on her desk and saw Savage Garden’s singer live at the Weekend. Claire spent last Friday with ‘a bottle of Doctor Pepper, two bags of jelly beans and Fame Academy’ and is going to see Grease the musical with Lee from Steps.

I mention them only because this brief sojourn on the second floor has been thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a shame that within a week of moving I was offered a new job and will be leaving. I will miss Claire and Meg, little do they know how much I’ve enjoyed being their pod buddy.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002


Whilst idly exchanging emails with George, he suggested that I buy Uncut magazine this month for its Lennon tribute CD. He meant to say: -

“Ike and Tina Turner do Come Together, do you like Morcheeba?”

But something got confused between his brain and his fingers and it came out as and I quote: -

“Ike and Tina do me together. Do you like come?”

What was going through his sick and perverted mind to get it so, so wrong?

Monday, October 07, 2002

The bloke behind me

Backstory #1: - This season Oxford United have a home form like an away team, and away form like a home team. The scene: Oxford 0 Scunthorpe 1….

Bloke 1: - We should just ask the FA if we can play all our games away from home. Dump the ground, just play everyone away twice.

TBBM: - Yeah, but that would mean the fans would have to pay more to get to games.

JR suggests: This was probably an attempt at humour rather than a serious suggestion.

Backstory #2: - If, in the objective opinion of the crowd the referee’s performance is below expected levels of quality, a quaint old folk song called ‘The Referee’s a wanker’ it is sung thus:

The referee’s a wanker
The referee’s a wanker
The referee’s a wanker
The referee’s a wanker (repeat to fade)

During a rousing rendition, TBBM sings: -

The referee’s a wanker
The referee’s a wanker
The referee’s a wanker
The referee’s a bastard

JR suggests: Perhaps they should print the lyrics in the programme.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Scaryduck story

The winner of the Guardian's best UK blog competition was, an excellent blog and well worth a read. Now although I am still relying on my traumatic testicles in ribcage problem to trigger significant growth in my readership, I fear the scaryduck approach may be more my style. It seems Mr Scary's strategy for a good blog is to tell largely unrelated stories about himself, so here's one that all my friends seem to love.

About 3 years ago my tortuous commute used to take in Amersham, Chorleywood, Chalfont and Latimer, Rickmansworth, Moor Park, then a long hop to Harrow on the Hill, Finchley Road, and finally Baker Street. It took an hour to travel about 30 miles, but I was able to enjoy a seat and a long read in the process.

One night Emma and I had an argument. I don't recall what it was about, but it was significant enough for us to cook our own tea. I raided the fridge to find a cooked chicken breast from the night before so I bunged it in the microwave with some beans and a potato, naturally slamming the door loudly enough for Emma to hear what I was doing.

The following morning, I was back on the commuter treadmill. I jumped on the 7.53 Met line train from Amersham as usual but after an uneventful 10 minutes we were ordered off at Rickmansworth because of a defect. I know that London Underground gets a slating for their inefficiencies but this was unusual. We were expected to wait for the next train into London, one which had a completely different set of stations on its route. Once re-trained, our journey continued. We passed Moor Park, and entered what was on my normal train a non-stop run right through to Finchley Road. I began to feel a touch unwell. This is not unusual, commuting generally does nothing for my health, I always feel tired and run down and anyway I occasionally suffer from an irritable bowel which requires me to sit on the toilet with a copy of Heat waiting for it to pass, quite literally, through my ringpiece... Something you maybe didn't want to know, but believe me, that's the trailor for Andy Pandy The Movie before the main feature of Scum starts.

Expecting the discomfort to pass I shifted in my seat. I stopped reading and stared out the window, hoping perhaps to enjoy the healing powers of the morning sun. But it got worse, I began to cramp up, we passed another station and the pain intensified. I stood up to try to alleviate it but it wouldn't go away, I began to bend double with the cramps, I started to break out in a cold sweat. I was panicking, not only about the pain, but the fact I was stuck on a train... a train that, to me, had a completely random set of stops. If my original train had not broken down at Rickmansworth and I had continued on my normal route my next stop would have been no less than 15 minutes away, I had to hope, nay prey, there was a stop. The train trundled on, and the discomfort and pain increased, the previous night's chicken was having its revenge. My body was rejecting its Salmonella based poisons through the only orifice it knew. At that moment, my body had no truck with petty social niceties and so I began to work out how I could discretely crap myself whilst standing on the train, how I could disguise the smell, and how I could walk with a vaguely normal gait once I got to Finchley Road.

Tube commuters have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to detecting the brakes being applied. It allows them to kick and push people out the way in good time to see them off the train. The brakes were being applied, we were stopping.

Now my panic turned to what kind of station we were pulling into, Tube stations, particularly the smaller ones are not known for their facilities, very few have Duty Free, for example. Chances are that there would be no toilet, moreover, there may not be any Underground staff to point me in the right direction. The cramping was so acute I'd decided along time ago that if I could get to an inspector I wouldn't hesitate to go against my natural reticence to ask to use the staff facilities. Critically, though I needed to find a toilet.

We pulled into Wembley, and Wembley, was good. It's a large station with lots of people working at it, perhaps I'd be saved. I jumped off the tube and ran up the stairs towards the exit. The cramping seemed less intense, but that was because my adrenalin was pumping. My strategy was that by heading for the exit I was more likely to bump into a staff member, and if I didn't, I would be at the ticket office where I could ask directions, and if that failed I'd be near the exit and hopefully close to a café or flowershop with the requisite facilities. At the top of the stairs I saw an Underground worker. I asked him the way to the nearest toilet.

By some small miracle there was a customer toilet, situated under the stairs I had just run up. I ran back down, and if it were at all possible, began to relax. My muscles were exhausted with having to 'hold it in'. I was nearly there, NEARLY THERE.

At the bottom of the stairs I spied the toilets, I went in. I was about to blow, there was no holding it in, not a second longer. I opened the door and looked for the cubicle.... The cubicle.... The cubicle.

Where was the fucking cubicle? This was a toilet with two urinals and a hand basin. The only public convenience in the whole world without the facility to crap. And I needed a crap, in fact, there was no need, there was no want, I was having a crap. And if I didn't make a quick decision it was going straight in my pants.

So I was standing in the middle of a small deserted station toilet during rush hour. At any second someone could walk in. Making its way down my bowel was a package of poisons rejected by my body and, against all normal conventions I didn't have my trousers off in preparation for the impending evacuation. Without immediate action I was, for the first time in some 25 years, about to poo myself. What's more, I was about to poo myself with the sloppiest poo imaginable. Choices had to be made and risks had to be taken....

Urinal or basin, urinal or basin. One of them was about to get it.

I don't remember the rationale, but urinal it was, in one swift movement I undid my trousers, pulled them down, pumped into the urinal, lifted my trousers and walked out of the toilet. One. Swift. Movement. Five seconds after I had shat in the urinal of a public toilet I was standing waiting for a Met line train into Baker Street like nothing had happened.

I joined a busy train and had to stand. I was paranoid that people could smell me, but no one seemed concerned. My paranoia was soon surpassed.

By the cramps...

It was happening again it was like I was having unexpected twins. No sooner had I recovered from the first then I had to go through it all again. As it happens an Indian lady was standing in front of me, I'm not sure what her height was in conventional measures, but she came right up to my nostrils. Moreover, she had enjoyed a curry the night before. This was perfect in bringing on the symptoms in double quick time.

I was cramping, I was doubling up.

We pulled into Baker Street. On the South Side of Baker Street there is a toilet, but we pulled into the North side. I needed to go south, before, once again my innards reached their southernly destination. Adopting a face like I was late for an important meeting I bustled past people and ran to the toilet. I got into a cubicle, ahhh a cubicle, and bombed Dresden swimming baths once again.

I sat, exhausted, I was sweating, drained and more than anything looking down at my boxer shorts. I hadn't crapped myself, but the lack of facilities at Wembley followed by the running around at Baker Street had caused my buttocks to exercise what I can only describe at "The Cream Puff" effect.

The pants were to only victim of the horror, discarded in a skip outside the toilet. I vowed I would take a trip to Marks and Spencer at lunchtime. My torture was over.

But I never took a Metropolitan Line train again.

Friday, October 04, 2002

I am resource

I’ve just moved into a department that seems utterly disinterested in what I do, or where I fit in. This would be disheartening if it weren’t for the fact that I am largely in control of my destiny at the moment and the fact that when my boss introduced me to the rest of his department, he didn’t know everybody’s name.

Monday was 5-a-side. I notched again, making my tally two in two. I scored the first goal of the night, which made me hope for a hatful, but despite much showboating and shooting on sight I wasn’t able to improve on the tally. Despite also going to the gym on Sunday, I felt good on Tuesday morning. The only downside is that because I perceive warming up as uncool I subsequently pulled muscles in my groin with my first attempted sprint. Also, whilst in goal I took a ball in the goolies, and I now have a testicle rattling around my rib cage.

Perhaps it has become fully detached, and unbeknown to me I am about to embark on a painful realisation that I face life of impotence and sterility and that my burning desire for children is to go unfulfilled.

To which the resulting emotional pain would undoubtedly do wonders for the quality and level of interest in this blog.

As read in The Chap Manifesto

It is vulgar to know how the car works, but if you breakdown with a companion then you must express your ignorance with panache. When asked what's wrong reply "The engine has gone" then wave a finger in the general direction of the bonnet before saying "which I believe is in there somewhere".

Thursday, October 03, 2002

As heard on bargain hunt

Bargain Hunt presenter David Dickinson, the bastard child of Antiques Roadshow introducing a couple of contestants on today’s show: -

DD "And you're a full time mum?"
Contestant "That's right David, I've got Jessica, whose eight, and beautiful, and Paul whose six and autistic."

I believe David replied by saying “Isn’t that lovely!”

Wednesday, September 25, 2002


In an attempt to move away from the theorising of my recent posts I thought I'd add that I played 5-a-side for the first time in a million years on Monday. Although my muscles began to tire quite quickly my stamina is much better than it was and I was still running at the end, clearly my sporadic trips to the gym are doing some good. I played well too, my passing was crisp, and at one point I did a fantastic double Cruyff turn to get out of a melee of players, you never lose that kind of class. I even got on the end of a neat passing move to notch on my debut. Good finish it was to, It would have been two but for me hitting both posts with a strike during "next goal wins".

I can barely walk today, mind.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Domesticated cows

One thing I learnt from my years of Sociology and Geography at University is that you can’t domesticate cows. It wasn’t part of the course, but something that was told to us by our physical geography lecturer on one field trip. I don’t mean that you can’t get them to do the washing up, because that’s silly. What I mean is that you can’t have cows as pets. Their size not withstanding, a domesticated cow will become surly, big-headed, and ultimately destructive.

At work the other day I heard someone crying because a customer had yelled down the phone at her. It got me thinking, what is the process by which people feel it is right and acceptable to yell down the phone at someone just because they are in a working environment? Someone somewhere along the line decreed that this was acceptable, and it probably wasn’t their parents.

Simon expounds a convincing theory whereby your career begins to plateau around your early 30’s when you are no longer the bright star of the corporation, but a competent if uneventful employee. This leads to a degree of anomie, and forces you to fulfil your ambitions through other activities; i.e. children, marriage etc.

I would add to the list the concept of ‘Corporate Mothering’. In your thirties your experience and confidence no longer provides pay rises and promotions, so you look for a channel where your outputs can be rewarded. Children and marriage will take you so far, but it is work values you the least but occupies your time the most. At work, for many, the channel to continued vicarious success is a protégé. They willingly follow you, because they need a leg up the career ladder. You instil your values and beliefs into this person, you take great joy in their progress, and lay their successes down to your mentoring. Inevitably you also promote your prejudices and weaknesses whilst ignoring theirs, after all you are creating someone in your image you’re unlikely to be objective enough to withhold your more erratic traits whilst pushing all your best practice. In becoming a Corporate Mother, you are corporatising your protégé, instilling an arrogance which overstates their worth. When they are finally let off the lead they have been socialised to assume they are better than anyone else, providing them with licence to be rude and aggressive if they don’t get their own way.

Like the domesticated cow the corporatised protégé should be unacceptable because it’s obstructive and arrogant, yet it is allowed to continue its unpleasantness to all concerned.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

The futility of success

Whilst I don’t work in the world’s largest company, I work in one that acts like it is. We are currently going through a business process re-engineering project and a new IT system implementation. We’ve employed a recently re-branded expensive management consultancy and huge software vendor to build the systems we need to support the processes that drive our core business.

Jesus, I’m boring myself writing this stuff.

Re-engineering a business process is fundamentally about the manipulation of people, and the reconstruction of their values. It is therefore morally corrupt, business is morally corrupt, but this is morally corrupter. It is designed to change the way people think. Business in general does the same, but at least as a customer you can choose not to think in the way you are told to. In companies, if you don’t play the game, you’re fired. The members of the project team are at the sharp end of this corruption, acting as the faceless mouthpiece of the corporate ideal. Anarchists, opportunists and independent spirits need not apply.

Whilst I accept that it pays the mortgage and looks great on the CV, is this what they really wanted? Did they want to re-engineer business processes when they were teenagers. Did their hopes, dreams, ambitions and desires centre on the opportunity to “Reduced Unit Cost Delivery Processes”?

I’m sure they are all decent people, all immaculately turned out in their crisp suits droning on in front of their slick PowerPoint presentations about “Out of the Box IT solutions” and “To Be Business Processes”. But do they get home, drop their slim line laptops onto the settee, kick-off their polished uncomfortable shoes, sink to their knees and sob “It was never supposed to be like this”?

What is it like to succeed in something you never wanted to succeed in?

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Do you see what I did there?

So, Bush and Blair continue to swim against the tide of public opinion to push on with a series of please-ignore-the-state-of-the-economy air strikes on Iraqi in the name of the ongoing war against leading Progressive Rock band The Al Queda Network, who if I’m not mistaken toured with Yes in the 70’s.

Never the less, my concerns are not with the dubious value of these air strikes, but the recent reports that Tube strikes are also planned. Not withstanding that Tube trains are slow and limited vehicles to unleash hell with, the press are openly reporting when these tube strikes are due.

End this insanity now.

Friday, September 13, 2002

A whole new value system

For many years I have conformed to the conventions of commerce, Product A has value equalling monetary value X – the value is determined by “The Market”. I’ve always accepted that The Market was always better at determining value than myself. I am therefore happy to spend £12.99 on a CD and £250 on car repairs even if the former gives me overwhelmingly more pleasure than the latter. It doesn’t seem right, but it’s the way I’ve always accepted.

On Wednesday Emma was on a training course, meaning for me another walk to the station, on the way whilst staring blankly at the pavement I happened upon a crisp £10. There was not a soul in sight, what with it being 7.30 in the morning so I thought for a second about picking it up. I didn’t… partly fearing I would find it nailed to the ground and then bundled to the floor by Johnny Knoxville or Dom Jolly, but mostly because I didn’t think it was right to benefit from some others’ misfortune. I was tempted, but I walked on by. I felt a bit stupid, because the next person along would whip it into their pocket and blow it all on fizzy pop and sweeties. But I did feel, slightly, spiritually and morally enriched, pleased that my moral value exceeded £10.

On the way home, as the train pulled into the station, I stuffed my copy of Tony Hawks’ slightly inferior One Hit Wonderland – disappointing after Around Ireland with a Fridge and Playing the Moldovans at Tennis - into my rucksack. When I looked up there was a copy of this week’s Heat Magazine left on the seat. Spying it I actually held back and let everyone get off the train before scooping it up and stuffing it into my rucksack.

I am therefore happy to forego a free £10 note but not a free copy of Heat magazine, so if we lived in an economic environment whereby product value = pleasurable utility, a copy of Heat magazine, to me, is valued greater than £10. This troubles me.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Messy business

The Messyan conspiracy, which basically says that the US Government caused or knew of the September 11th attack, has made Messyan a hugely rich man.

I’m not particularly au fait with the details about his theory having just caught a bit of a TV programme about it. But he alleges amongst other things that a plane didn’t hit the Pentagon because a doorway is clearly intact in one photo. A ballistics expert claimed that the thickness of the Pentagon walls, coupled with the relative softness of the plane’s aluminium frame meant it was entirely possible for the plane to crash, disintegrate and the walls to remain intact. The explosion came from the ignited aviation fuel.

When this was put to him, he was asked to explain how, as he claimed, a US missile hit the Pentagon, he replied “It is not my place to explain this” and that “It’s up to the US government to explain what happened”.

Of course it is you silly sod, it’s your conspiracy theory, and the US government have explained… the Pentagon was hit by an aeroplane, haven’t you heard? it was in all the newspapers.

Furthermore, the planes that hit the Twin Towers, were remote controlled by the US Government because they were the only people who had the technology to do it.

Fuck me, what an annoying little prick he is.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Back to the future

We were recently asked to DJ at a wedding but the bride and groom wanted to know what kind of music we would play. As it happened, I had a mix on CD, which I had put together for Penny and Mike’s wedding. The CD put the kibosh on the gig for the following reason; the mix was, apparently, too modern. It wasn’t a mix of Gabber Jungle Trance (vocal or dub), it had 8 number 1’s and not one record that failed to break the top 10. Nor was it particularly ‘modern’ the average record was six years old.

It seems they wanted 60’s and 70’s stuff, which is, by my calculations 30-40 years old. Put into context, if my parents listened to 40-year-old music at their wedding reception, they’d be dancing to the Charleston, and I’ve checked, they didn’t.

Last night we went to see the Ralph Little Show recorded for the BBC. No real reason other than it’s a kind of fun thing to do. As we walked into the Auditorium they were playing Parklife by Blur, followed by a stream of mid nineties Britpop classics. McCalmont and Butler, a duo whose brief peak was at least four years ago, played out the show. Ralph Little’s dire questioning of Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan asking how “Mad” things were, or, fawning over Ronny O’Sullivan’s Loaded style laddism, very 1997.

When we got home, the Stereophonics were on telly, and the drummer looked like he was some really bad 70’s rock cliché. As opposed to a really bad 21st Century rock cliché.

What I’m saying is that is the world moving too quickly for people? It seems to me that people began falling off the treadmill in about 1995 unable to keep up with changing music and fashion trends. It’s not my age, Ralph Little can only be 22-23 yet ever he is stuck in 1994. Is it not time that we stopped modernising for a bit to let us all catch up. Give me six months to master Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation, then I’ll buy a Playstation 2.... I'm coming, I'm coming.

Like hiking in the hills, modernisers should sit on a rock with their sandwiches and enjoy the view, whilst others’ catch up. Me, I’m stuck around 1998 and I admit I enjoy it, maybe I don’t want to modernise, and therefore maybe none of us do. Maybe it’s just time to stop.

Yep, let's stop being modern.

Monday, August 26, 2002

America's Pastime

I'm not ripping up any anthropological trees by saying that Americans are fat. They are a race of monstrously obese people, and whilst as a visitor it is fun to gasp at the portions, indulge a little and laugh at the backsides, it is not an understatement to say the obsession is killing America.

But food isn't America's pastime, Baseball is, it's a charmingly archaic sport apparently untouched by the ugly corporate monster. That's how it feels at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Redsox and the oldest ballpark in America. The game is a series of time honoured and wholesome rituals. Boys in their late teens dress in Red Sox Uniforms, complete with balls, bats and gloves . Each game begins with a ceremonial first pitch from some esteemed guest and is followed by the gratingly patriotic singing of the national anthem. The preamble is completed when a small brat announces...


Even during the game the rituals keep coming - Christ, in the 7th innings everyone stands up for The Stretch and sings a song accompanied by a live organist. This is a sport that still negotiates player's wages through trade unions. It's like it's been ring fenced off from the modern world and that America needs it in order to take a break from rampant modernisation once in a while.

It took me three pitches to realise we'd started - and I was concentrating. The other 31,998 spent the first five innings buying and consuming a bewildering variety of concessions from wandering hawkers. So complicit was the consumption of Crackerjack, hot dogs, peanuts, cotton candy and Coke at $4 a bottle that it is easy to consider baseball as less of a sport and more an imaginative way of consuming junk food.

During this opening feast the Red Sox players minds' were clearly on what The Sausage King was selling outside as the Texas Rangers raced to a 3-0 lead. The crowd greeted this with a general disinterest, probably because they had spied a lemon slush seller making their way up the terrace. The only acknowledgement of the game was when a fly ball hurtled into the crowd and everyone scrambled to grab the ball. The winner held it aloft and everyone around applauded politely before returning to their food.

In the 6th the Sox pulled one back, and in the 7th they tied the game up at 3... or made it 3-3. And then, at this point, as it approached it's exciting climax, with the game balanced finely between the resurgent Sox and the dominant but wilting Texans... people started going home. Perhaps through indigestion, or maybe because people wanted to avoid the rush at Wendy Burger, but about 1/3 of the crowd chose to forgo the final two innings, in which Boston notched 2 more runs for an exciting victory. Weird.

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