Friday, January 30, 2004


It just doesn't snow like it used to. In the old days you'd get four feet of snow overnight and in the morning you'd wake up to it being bright and sunny. You'd get your wellies on and jump into the nearest snow drift, stand in it up to your neck for hours and not feel the cold at all.

Now snow is grey and slushy and icey, and you get stuck in your car for hours. It took me two hours to drive the half hour journey home on Wednesday night. My dad managed four and a half hours to do the 17 miles from High Wycombe to Thame.

My mum phoned us, clearly worried, at about 8.30. I knew she was worried, because she said "I'm not worried". She was pretty justified, Dad's somewhat demob happy as he careers towards the end of his career on into blissful retirement. He's usually at home by 4.30. His non-appearance was a bit out of character, to exacerbate things further, he didn't have his mobile phone.

Eventually, having trailed a host of websites trying to ascertain something more than 'all roads are hazardous and should be avoided' he appeared. Mum phoned to say he was back and put him on to tell the whole saga.

It had taken an hour to get out of the car park, he said. The traction control and ABS on the Mini is a winner, he said. The conditions were so bad, when he got to Sainsbury's to buy some cigars, the door froze up, he said.

The fact that a pack of cigars took priority over everything else (including my aged mother) didn't seem to strike him as in any way odd.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Ow you doin?

For no good reason yesterday I briefly watched a programme on CBBC called Crush. The show's presenter went to a school, picked out one of the children, David, and revealed to his class the name of the girl he fancied, Katie. David was then challenged take part in a gameshow where the prize was a date with Katie to Disneyland Paris.

OK, bypassing the fact that this is a hideous concept for a children's gameshow, the first round was called 'Getting to know you'. David and Katie went into a booth for three minutes. David had to think up a string of questions to ask Katie. He would then have to use the information he gleaned in the three minutes to answer some questions on Katie's favourite things (Lee from Blue and Ponies, obviously).

David followed up "What's your favourite school?" with "What's your favourite fish?". Oh well, Katie was a bit of a munter.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Mo money mo problems

According to Sara, The Last Samurai (or Last of the Summer Wine as it's hilariously known in our house) has Oscar buzz.

The film takes you to back to Japan (not China as stated in earlier editions) about 150 years ago. It's a country in flux; battling the implications of a modernisation programme. Japan's ancient social structures and traditions are being dismantled by a few greedy bureaucrats who see riches in an arms deal with the US. Agreeing to buy the modern weaponry not only secures a trade agreement but supplies the westernised bureaucrats with an arsenal powerful enough to destroy the arcane Samurai that stand in their way. US vets are brought in to train a ramshackle army of Japanese conscripts. Japan gets rich, destroying the samurai and losing its identity in the process. It's all very zeitgeisty, an imperialist regime imposes an ideology at odds with the natural law of a society, only to suffer a cataclysmic cultural kick back. Or something to that effect.

Sounds good doesn't it? Lavish sets, historical context, intricate plotlines; it's got Oscar buzz written all over it.

And then there's Tom Cruise, the westerner thrust into the lost culture, battling the language barrier, struggling to understand the customs played out around him. Is he the silent observer whose battles the contradictions in his head? Nah, he's the most powerful actor in Hollywood, no such understatement here, after all nobody says no to Tom Cruise.

• Nobody says no to the fact he has to become a samurai
• Nobody says no to the fact he's the last samurai
• Nobody says no to the fact he has to be the best samurai there ever was
• Nobody bothers to explain whether an attack by a gang of ninjas is a government backed assassination attempt on the village's powerful leader (BORING!) or a vehicle for Cruise to get cool with a sword.
• Nobody says no to Cruise bucking a thousand years of tradition by turning Japan's Emperor from a distant and impassive demi-god into a compassionate humanist by the power of one well constructed monologue
• Nobody says no to Cruiso endlessly winning mock training fights with other samurai whilst ignoring the sub plot of rampant westernisation happening in Yokahama
• Nobody says no to Cruise falling in love with the only young woman in the village
• Nobody says no to her falling in love with him despite the fact he killed her husband
• Nobody says no to Cruise turning her from the brink of suicide to unstinting love by saying he was 'sorry'
• Nobody says no to Cruise standing with a horse in the middle of a mountain range as the film closes
Nobody, presumably, will say no to him getting an Oscar for this pile of self indulgent shite. The nob.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The whole wide world

It may surpise you to hear that the picture on the left is not a close up of a skip outside the back of a hairdressers shop. It is, in fact, darts player Andy 'The Viking' Fordham. The woman on the right is UK Pop Idol 2003 winner Michelle McManus. Both had a good day last Sunday. They hit professional highs with Fordham winning the BDO World Darts Championship and McManus clocking her first UK number one.

Unless you were beginning to think my new site accommodated for the blind by automatically switching your browser to a magnified setting it won't have escaped you're attention that these people are larger than your average celebrity.

Being fat affects these two in different ways. For Fordham, it's a huge positive. Firstly, he's supposed to be like this and secondly he's more like this than anyone else in the darting fraternity. He weighs 30 stone and wears a couple of hundredweight of cheap jewellery on his non-throwing arm as a counterbalance. He's the quintessentially stereotyped darts player, which is much easier for the general public to comprehend.

McManus, on the other hand, is a square peg in a round hole and is not so fortunate. It's not that big people can't be successful singers, ask Aretha Franklin, Meatloaf, Luciano Pavarotti, Alison Moyet and Chubby Checker, it's just it's better that pop stars are thin. Let me explain.

The music industry needs a high volume of hits to generate a steady income. The rare and unpredictable commodity of talent doesn't come in an even flow, nor is it available in high enough volumes to pay the bills. Mute records boss, Daniel Miller, recognises that he'll shed a heap of money on Luke Slater and Plastickman records in the four years between each multi-million selling Depeche Mode or Moby album - something he has to grin and bare. In the world of the corporate music industry, where there are investors to satisfy and staff to pay what is needed is a steady income. In order to keep selling records these companies have turned to things more tangible, immediate and predictable. By dancing, flashing cheeky chappy grins, and baring flesh, a good-looking pop star veils their limited musical talents. Kylie is a supreme pop star, but not because of her voice. A pop star's talent is totally different to the talent of Elvis or The Beatles.

The problem is that McManus can't tick many of the boxes a modern pop star should. She's not thin; she can't suggestively rotate her hips like Girls Aloud or do the clench fist of agony patented by Gareth Gates (or wear oversized cowboy boots - I can't find a picture, but you watch). In pop music terms she has nothing but her average voice. It's not a problem that most pop stars have to deal with, but she does. The Pop Idol public viewers vote inevitably chooses a winner who is the most average and with so little in her arsenal, you can't help thinking she's ultimately doomed.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The clincher

We were interviewing at work today. One of the candidates said "It's hard to build relationships over email... unless you're a paedophile of course".

We said: "Um".

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

My right foot

My left foot was forged on the playing fields of Thame and can shoot, pass, and dribble. My right, to use footballing parlance, is only useful for standing on. I didn’t think it could be more useless, until Boxing Day.

Boxing Day is my favourite day of the Christmas period. The pressures of present buying have gone, and you’re free to get that musty claustrophobic feeling of The Day itself out of your system. 

My Boxing Day is about football. In the morning I join The Men to wheeze my way around the local park for a couple of hours. Then it’s home, shower and off to the Boxing Day game at Oxford. 

This year’s morning game had a good turn out with a good-natured robust game of seven a side. I’d even bought a new pair of Diadora Contaccso Sg Football Boots from Brantano for fifteen quid. After an hour Gareth waltzed his way through our static defence and lined up to slot home his team’s eighth goal. I gallantly careered across to block and planted my right foot in preparation for my final lunge. Except it wasn’t my foot, but my ankle that took my full, and not inconsiderable, weight.

I felt a twisting crunching sensation in my leg and a shooting pain. Gareth suggested I “run it off”, but I could barely stand. By the time I got home swelling the size of a tennis ball began to appear around my ankle. By the time I’d foolishly hobbled to and from Oxford’s 2-1 win over Orient it was going purple.

This was my first proper sporting injury; a sprain, a proper ‘damaged ligaments’ sprain. Chicks dig sporting injuries, it was all “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” and “shouldn’t you go to the doctors”. I was tended to and waited on for, ooh, about four and a half minutes. What I didn’t realise is that Chicks don’t dig sporting injuries for very long, Lucy was so disinterested that about 2 minutes after seeing it she acted out a What’s My Line charade of a soldier clipping my elevated foot with one forceful downward swing of her arm. Everyone winced… then laughed like drains. I thought an injury would be cool, I hadn’t anticipated the weeks of nagging, dull pain that nobody is interested in. It’s getting back to a normal colour now but it’s going to take six weeks to heal and longer to fix. 

The blood from the sprain flooded into my foot causing it to swell. I wake up in agony as the veins become packed full of goop, the hairs on top of my foot feel like tree trunks. They just don’t tell you about this stuff.

An unforeseen aside of the injury was seeing Jules. I’ve known Jules for nearly twenty years she’s funny, silly, and sporty and bullies you about your posture. I don’t see any of my friends as the eloquent, trained, skilled professionals that they are so watching Jules acting out her role as my Physiotherapist was odd. She was professional, knowledgeable, impassive, and caring. She examined me, massaged my foot and gave me advice about treatment and exercises. She even ranked it as one of the top ten sprains she’d seen. I know she’s trained to do this stuff, but there was something very soothing about it. I can’t wait until I have a CRM web enabled database problem, then I can watch Spankee at work. 

Mind you, she also took away the beer I was drinking saying alcohol was bad for the healing. Then she drank it herself which I presume is some kind of homeopathic alternative treatment.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

New Year, new Ruffles

OK, so we’re just about there. I’ve been toying with changing things around for a while and New Year seemed a sensible time to do it. There’s still quite a lot of fiddling around to do, and I think the design needs tweaking (is the old school styling right? is Courier working? is it a little bright? do we want the old logo back?) anyway, I figure it’s time to throw it at the wall and see what sticks.

So what’s new? Not much, but you can make comments on my postings, so you will inevitably meet Barry, resident of Linhope and Spankee’s flatmate. I’m pretty sure he’ll be correcting my spelling and generally hurling abuse in response to each and every post within seconds of it going live.

You can still read about who I am, although it needs re-writing. You can still have free mix CD’s. There’s a load of new links. The decaying Wants list has been replaced by a less volatile list of CD’s, which should help you to get organised if you want to rob my house. I’ve added a cast list so you can put faces to names and there are a few new pictures.

Things look a little plain on the homepage at the moment, the page looks a lot better with pictures, so on the left is a few of the CD’s I’m currently listening to and my plan is to furnish more posts with pictures and links, it’ll look lovely, promise.

Normal service is about to resume, Christmas and New Year was eventful, so prepare yourselves for the story of The Foot and our New Year shindig in Derbyshire.

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