Barney and Barmy Traffic

Jazz Flute, wheels of cheese, sex panther and the gun show.  It can only mean one thing.  Yep, Anchorman is on, and it is one of those films that make me laugh no matter how many times I see it.

Every character is excellent, but I do have a soft spot for Brian Fantana, played by Paul Rudd.

Time to musk up

So forgive me if I’m a little distracted as I rattle this off.

Last week I forgot to plug something that I should have.  After a break of too long I finally penned something for the WDW Dads site, so please, if you haven’t already, pop over and have a read.

OK, so other than pointing you at day twelve of the trip report, I think we can begin.

The week just gone has been fairly ordinary, as it was filled with far too much work…roughly about five days worth.  I made the schoolboy error of arranging to be down south in Head Office on Thursday and Friday for some meetings.  As everyone knows, Friday afternoons is when the volume of traffic on the UK’s motorways doubles as everyone tends to be at the opposite end of the country that they need to be.

Thursday was a fancy dress day in the office.  How I enjoy these sorts of things!!  The theme was purple.  I could explain why, but really it wouldn’t make that much sense, so I won’t.  It may not surprise you to learn that my wardrobe does not contain a wide variety of purple garments, so this caused me an issue.  I dallied with the idea of going the whole hog and renting a proper costume, but

a) I’m tight

b) I would have felt like a giant tool

c) I left it too late so sort one out

So instead, with an impressive amount of forethought, I sent Louise a text at 5pm on Wednesday evening, asking if she’d call somewhere on her way home to get me some “purple clothes”.  The results were a purple polo shirt and a pair of purple jeans.  Yes, I now own purple jeans…skinny ones at that.

So I left the house at 5am the next day looking like an overweight bruise.  The day passed without too much to note, and I had guessed the level of effort correctly.  It is always a concern with these things, especially when new in a company, that you gauge this correctly.  You don’t want to turn up in a Barney costume only to find that everyone else has worn a purple hat.  Ironically, someone did turn up as Barney, but most were just in simple purple attire so that was OK.

After a busy couple of days, the end of the week approached and for the first time I had to do the drive north on a Friday.  The levels of fear and trepidation felt were totally justified, as the usual three and a half hour journey turned into five.

If it is possible to hate a section of tarmac then the M6 is it.  Listening to the radio, they seemed to gloss over the severity of the chaos that was taking place.  As I came off the M6 toll, the brake lights lit up in front of me, and pretty much stayed on until I left the M6 at Junction 22 several hours later.

It was pants.  The constant stop start brake nonsense was only surpassed in the aggravation stakes by those who felt the need to fill the couple of car’s lengths I was leaving between myself and the braker in front.  By Crewe my mood was black.  Never shall I meet anyone in Marlow again on a Friday!  Seriously, what happens to motorway traffic on a Friday?

Oh yes, and at the risk of generalising….if you drive a Mercedes Sprinter you are probably going too fast!

Once home, the weekend has been uneventful, due to post holiday insolvency and the fact that Emily and Louise have been buried in coursework.  Of course, Emily has been off all last week for half term but felt it better to wait until the weekend to get it all done!  Ironically once she had finished it about half an hour ago, she found out from a friend that it wasn’t due in until Wednesday.  Justice!

We’ve spotted Rebecca a couple of times for meals and bedtime as her hectic social calendar keeps her busy.  She’s started a YouTube channel with her friend, and on Saturday she went to Manchester for something called a YouTube gathering.  I don’t really understand what it was, but I think it was an event where all these internet phenom….phanom….fenome….people who have lots of people watching their videos went to meet their fans.

Anyway, I should do a push for Rebecca’s You Tube channel, and ask you to subscribe as her numbers are a little low right now.  Click this!  I hope that is the right link.  Go on subscribe, and make me a hero in her eyes!!

Next time I bump into her she may express her thanks if she gets a minute.

Who knows what next week will bring, but I can assure you it won’t see me on the M6 on Friday!

Till the next time……

It was 29 years ago today….

Well, not quite today, but close enough.  What is the anniversary to which I refer?  The last time I had to blow dry my hair?  The last time I wore a pair of pants with a waistline starting with a 2? The last time I had a positive bank balance?

No, none of the above.  It was in the autumn of 1983 that I attended my first ever gig.  I was fourteen at the time, and had to really convince my Mum to let me go with my brother, as it was at the Manchester Apollo, in Ardwick.  Trust me, she was right to be worried.

Now, a fourteen year old in 1983 had a smorgasbord of musical delights to choose from as my first gig choice.  A look at the charts of the time reads like a who’s who of big hair and pompous pop.

  • Paul Young
  • Mike Oldfield
  • Heaven 17
  • Elton John
  • The Police
  • David Bowie
  • Iron Maiden
  • and Bucks Fizz

I was not one of normal tastes to be honest, and even now I tend to not like the mainstream.  Adele, Coldplay, U2, and the likes do not and have never floated my raft.  I may have mentioned that a couple of times?

Back in 1983, influenced by my brother for sure, I liked a band not at this stage really troubling the charts.  They were cool, niche and under the radar, which is also known as skint and not famous.  Being vaguely musical, which means that I’d started playing bass about six months earlier, and my brother at the time being a drummer, we appreciated the muso-ness of bands, and none came more muso than…..Level 42.

At this time they still wrote jazz funk instrumentals, and had some distance to travel to get anywhere near the chart topping days of about four years later when they found a few hits and multi-million selling album or two.

So off I went to my first ever real gig, and was blown away.

1983 looks a long time ago!

Fast forward twenty-nine years, and on Friday, the same two of us sat in the same theatre, with a few more pounds and a lot less hair, to watch them all over again.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times we have seen them live in the intervening years, but it is a lot.  The line up has changed a bit, but in recent years with a settled line up, and a re-established following, they are back playing fairly large venues again, and despite their advancing years they still have it.

I know they will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and most folks will only be aware of a couple of singles, but that’s Ok.  I don’t need you to like them too!

In recent years the usually annual gig has become a chance for me to have a night out with my brother, which we don’t do often enough.  Now you will know that any night out involving me will involve food, and on Friday we met after work in Manchester and wandered up to the ever so trendy Northern Quarter.  A place full of grown men in cardigans and converse, meeting in pubs after a hard week creating mood boards at their inevitable agency.

We went to Trof.

It’s cool cos it’s spelt wrong

The music was too loud, it was jam-packed, and there was nowhere to sit, but we got a drink and persevered anyway, based on my brother’s previous dining experience here.

We took a table as one appeared, and despite a small hiccup where my brother tried to order from some girl who just happened to be wandering past our table, we were soon eating.

We had a Middle Eastern Sharing Platter to start.  It was your usual olives, feta, halloumi and falafel etc, and it was delicious.  By the time our mains came we were already filling up, but I somehow managed to neck all of my Pulled Pork Burger and Fries.  My God, I was stuffed, and we both had to leave fairly quickly to get some fresh air and try to walk off the impending cardiac arrest.

Thankfully we had a decent walk to the car, a short drive and then another walk to the theatre so we felt less like dying once we got there.

You may not believe me, but it was busy.  The queue for a drink was in need of a fast pass so we didn’t bother.  I couldn’t fit another ounce of liquid in my stomach anyway!

We took our seats, applauded politely for the support guy and waited for the main event.  So the lights dimmed and of course a dozen numpties came charging from the bar, as they had to have every last second in there didn’t they.  So this meant that they had to get to their seats in the dark, making the whole row stand up, and therefore blocking the view of half the theatre just as the show started.

These same folks then went for wees, more drinks, and inevitably more wees pretty much all the way through the show.  I almost wore my tut out.

I took a bit of video, all dodgy quality but here is the opening, until the row in front had to stand up for the aforementioned twonks came in from the bar.

The gig was great as ever.  We marveled at the musicianship, felt nostalgia for the video clips shown on the big screen behind them, and clapped a lot.

Mark King
Not the Levellers

They played a mix of some really old stuff, which had some of the less cool and hard-core fans than us a little bemused, along with all the hits….and there are quite a few.  Something About You, Hot Water, Lessons in Love, Running in The Family, are the most obvious ones, but they have shifted a load of records over the years.

They left us with ringing ears and a promise of a return in 2014 with a new album.  We wandered back to the car wondering what that would bring, and picking out examples of the fancy Dan musician-ship we’d just witnessed that separates them from mere mortals and Dire Straits.  Oh yes, I could never tolerate them either, despite that bloody Brothers in Arms CD being in every house in the 80s.

I hope you enjoyed the slightly different approach this week.  It still more or less took the form of a trip report, but I did forget to take photos of our food!  Mind you it was so bloody dark that us two old gits had to use the lights on our phones to read the menu!!  Once illuminated we then had to move it in and out of eye range until we got a fix on the microscopic text.

That wouldn’t have happened twenty-nine years ago!

Till the next time……

Not much to write about nothing.

Are you ready for another vitriolic both barrels attack on the shambolic state of the world?  Don’t worry, I don’t think I have another one in me so soon after the last one.  It takes me longer to recover in between these days you know.

Last week saw day nine and ten posted in an absolute flurry of trip reportage.  I admit, day ten only went up today but that still counts.  Double figure days mean that we’re getting towards the end now, so for those not a fan of these things it shall soon be safe to return to the trip report section of the Dibb and read about Wizzo’s toilet troubles.

I must admit to finding the trippies a little bit of a chore.  A mixture of general busy-ness, a tiny touch of the post holiday blues and a slice of deja vu.  I have written about largely the same holiday for a decade now!!

Ignoring the complete lack of funds or the likelihood of having any, we have discussed next summer, and Louise can confirm that we have decided not to go to Orlando again.  It’s fair enough.  We do fancy the West Coast though.  I’m slowly catching up on Jakki’s twelve week long trip report, some of which includes the West Coast and it looks good.  We’ve also chatted to my brother and his wife as they have done it a couple of times and say it was their best holiday ever.

So if we find some funds then that would be the most likely place I think.  Although Louise has fallen in love with one of the islands in the Caribbean after seeing it on a TV programme recently.  I think it was St Lucia.  Both are equally beyond our fiscal reach so it hardly matters right now.

That is not to say that my fingers have not found their way to the odd Kayak or Skyscanner recently.  It is both a sort of hobby by now and a mild form of torture.

Domestic life is a blur of hectic busy stuff right now.  Work for both Louise and I is very time-consuming, Emily is battling her final year of A levels and Rebecca is caught up in a romance.  We know this, as we haven’t really seen her, at all, since it all began.  This happens, we’re used to it, and unfortunately, we are braced for what is most probably the painful and tearful conclusion, but, we shouldn’t pre-judge and she should of course enjoy it whist it lasts.  That is unless she proves me wrong and marries the bugger….in a decade or so.

rebecca and tome
Don’t know what the pouts about

He’s a nice enough young chap.  He’s polite at all the appropriate times, and has no visible tattoos or piercings.  So Rebecca is out a lot at the moment, and as much as she won’t admit it, Emily is missing her a bit.

So with all this busy stuff going on, it feels a little hamster wheelish.  So Louise has decided to outsource the ironing.  The amount of weekend being eaten up with it was getting out of hand so Louise has employed a young fairly willing employee to get it done.

Yes, Emily is now employed as our ironer, and she has done a great job for her fifteen quid.  It leaves Louise with lots of free time now to do her course assignments and other fun stuff like tidying  the house!

I would outsource the bulk of my weekend’s activity too, but I’m not paying someone else to sit and watch TV whilst occasionally blowing off.

I shall leave you in peace now as it is quite clear I have nothing but inane dross this week, and Emily is waiting for the laptop.  I secretly hope this is to complete some complex and detailed piece of coursework.  More likely, she needs to add some songs to her phone for lessons tomorrow!

I will try to be incensed about something again for next week to make for some more interesting reading.

Till the next time……

Nice guys, finishing last, Jimmy Saville and John Terry.

Right, let’s have the shameless plugs out of the way first.  Day 8 is up and almost worthy of a read, for no other reason that I spent some time writing it.

With that done, off we go.

They do say that nice guys finish last, and unless that is a reference to a male porn star, it is usually said with a certain amount of mocking disdain.  I would, if pushed, class myself as a nice guy, having not really done much that would fall into a bad or evil category. Apart from that poo in 1997 that was like a house martin’s nest on the back of the loo and I didn’t clean up.

Still, I think you’d agree that is small beer (unless you were the one cleaning it up).

So with that in mind, with recent events of the world, I do wonder if that adage is depressingly accurate?  The world does indeed seem content to be taking itself off to hell in a cart propelled by hand.

A non exhaustive list of proof?

The media is pretty much proven to be more or less entirely corrupt, hacking phones of dead teenagers, printing lies (Hillsborough) and being in close collusion with whatever politician has the most power at the time.  The recent findings around Hillsborough seem to demonstrate that the hierarchy of the police, the media and the government were intent on rewriting events for their own benefit.  It took 23 years to get anywhere near the truth and still no-one has gone to jail over it.

Politics.  Well, of course they all rig their expenses as their salaries, at more than twice the national average are not enough, and most weeks one of them is resigning for some indiscretion or other.  That of course is only the stuff we do know about.

Football, the national game is full of racist liars who can’t keep it in their pants, and that is just John Terry.  The others are just too stupid to live, such as Ashley Cole, a black man, lying to protect a team-mate who, that’s right, abused another black man, for being black.  Then, when the findings were published, showing how he had been found to be lying, along with this mate, he sends an obscene tweet expressing his displeasure.  This guy drives a car…on the road….with other people around.  He shouldn’t be allowed sharp objects in his house never mind behind the wheel of a car.

Ashley Cole
Possibly the most stupid millionaire on earth

The church.  Not one of my favourite past times or institutions, but that is a whole other rant altogether.  The men of God seem to think this gives them a free pass to kiddy fiddle whilst preaching to their flock that they are all sinners, encouraging guilt and saying we should aspire to be like them.

Banks.  Well, I used to work for one, but the nearest I got to corruption was taking a quid out of the till to buy my dinner as I had no change.  Others it seems, as we all know, were above the law up there in their penthouses.  We are still battling through the financial mire, and may be forever more.

And now, it seems the entire world of light entertainment is guilty of the biggest cover up since the bloke on the grassy knoll.  Half of the BBC’s stars of the 70s and 80s appear to have been guilty of crimes against puberty, which is bad enough to find out many years later.  What is completely intolerable is the parade of has been know it alls who have been grabbing their last five minutes of fame by claiming that everyone knew about it.  Yep, that makes you look great!  Enjoy the cheques for your stories, they may be the last.

I haven’t even mentioned the tragic case in Wales, which looks like it will turn out for the worst.  That is not a subject for a pithy moany rant of a blog, it is just too tragic.

Is there an institution that is actually what it purports to be?  Is everything in society rank and rotten? Is the only way to really get ahead to be either a conscienceless buffoon in a football shirt, a scheming politician or a greedy amoral banker?

I’m none of the above, and don’t really have the ambition, drive, ruthlessness or skullduggery to be.  And I must admit, I am losing my sense of humour over all this.  For us mugs that play by the rules, pay our taxes, and if we had forelocks, tugged them, it seems the spoils of war are less.  I know, I know, I am doing fine.  Despite the economic Armageddon and everyone else’s best attempts recently, I have never been out of work, and yes I too earn more than the national average, but that, I think, is through hard work and being half decent at what I do.

Perhaps it works the other way?  Maybe when you get to be excessively successful and/or rich you begin to think you are charmed and not bound by the laws and morals of everyone else.  That might well explain to some extent Saville and Terry.  I acknowledge the former is innocent till proven guilty but I’ll take my chances and apologise if he is found to be innocent.  I am not too concerned!

The latter is one of the vilest human beings I have encountered.  A liar, a cheat, a racist and a thug. Still, he’s good old JT, an English Lion, a good geezer, and apparently is going to keep his job when certainly had I called someone in my line of business a “fbc”, I would be very quickly dismissed.

Mind you had I already been involved in a nightclub brawl (many have forgotten about that caught on CCTV), slept with my best friend (and colleague’s) wife, and assaulted a member of staff from a competitor in front of everyone (the Champions League semi final knee to the back episode, which of course he denied till he saw the replay) then I wouldn’t have been around to get sacked for racial abuse.

I know I am singling him out, and yes all teams have idiots.  Barton, Suarez, Merson, Adams, Giggs and countless others have indiscretions they will not be proud of, but I am tired of the blind eye that seems to be thrown to this loathsome character.

I don’t rant often, but I do admit to it in my summary at the top of this blog.  Call this a vent of the spleen.  When I was growing up, if I had any ailment, from a sore toe to a raging fever to a missing limb my Mum would tell me it was because I was tired.  I suspect this out of character rant may be down to the same issue.  I feel pooped with busy work weeks, lots of travelling and equally busy weekends, so maybe my body is exorcising this in the form of severe grumpiness.

Still, this is my blog and if I can’t rant here where can I?  It’s either this or some sort of Falling Down Michael Douglas episode on the M602 of a morning.

Falling Down
Try to cut in at the cones will you????

I may need a holiday?  What do you think?

My grumpiness was not helped last week as I tried to get Emily insured for our raging beast of a 1.0 litre Peugeot 107, so that we can go out and help her learn to drive.

Quotes ranged from £3500 to £9000, and they all went up as soon as she eventually passes. Still, one silver lining was that I vented my rantage to Simon Mayo on Radio 2 for his “Wisdom of the Day” feature.  I was amazed that he actually read it out.

mayo tweet
Wisdom of the Day!

I think I should go immediately to bed to catch up on some much-needed rest.  I’m up at 4am tomorrow for another journey south (weren’t they a crap North East duo from X Factor?) so I think it is for the best.

How long till Christmas?  Don’t tell me, it will only start another rant, and nobody wants that.

Till the next time…..