Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Bubbles, No Troubles

Why can't we just admit it to ourselves?

I was in the bathroom shower this morning, just a few minutes ago as a matter of fact, humming a wee ditty to myself, and pondering some of life's mysteries. Such as - why is it that the only time an ingrown hair irritates me is when it's on my thigh and I'm wearing jeans? Why is that?

I was glancing at the bottle of 2-in-1Hair and Body Wash, and then it struck me... Hair AND Body Wash? So if this washes my body and my hair... then... surely...?

Then I looked at the ingredients list on all the bottles in the bathroom. And I have reached one inevitable conclusion, which most of you reached probably years before I did.

We are being conned by the manufacturers. It doesn't matter what it is, all shampoos, bath gel, bubble bath, body wash, shower gel... it's all the same. Same basic ingredients on the list, give or take a little glycerin. The only thing that is a wee bit different is conditioner. I'll grant you that. But the rest of it is all essentially the same, bar the fragrance and the packaging.

And here's what's really amazing. It has taken me almost 45 years to figure that out.

So now I'm confused. If it really all is the same stuff, then how come some of it is great and some of it sucks? How come people love Pantene but hate Alberto VO5, and vice versa? And why do I even think about this stuff? The world may never know....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


If there is one thing you can say about me, it is this: I like a lot of music. More to the point, I like a lot of different kinds of music. There are really only two or three musical genres that I find annoying, and they are, in no particular order, Contemporary Christian music, New (aka Young) Country, and Gospel. Oh, and weenie music, but that's really cross-genre, as it occurs in rock, pop, and country, too. I like jazz, but I am afraid that when it's the kind of experimental atonal jazz noodling that goes on without any sense of direction or purpose, I get wound up. It seems so pointless.

A few years ago while living in Georgia I started to listen to a new radio station called DaveFM which played some pretty cool stuff, such as Mike Doughty, Marc Broussard and Ray LaMontagne. They played a track called 'Get Your Way' by a young fella-me-lad called Jamie Cullum, which I thought was pretty cool. It was jazzy, hip, and kinda funky. I thought Mr. Cullum was pretty fab, based on what I had heard.

Jamie has a radio show on the BBC. It's on right now. In the show, he plays jazz records. Some are good. Some even have noodling, but the good kind (Sidney Bechet, for example). But just a few minutes ago he started playing a succession of the type of free, random, pointless, wandering noodles that makes you want to ladle pureed jalapenos into your eyes. Why? I cried. Why do this to me, you creatively-ruffled-hair, untucked-shirt-with-a-tie muso? You pinstripe-and-Chuck-Taylor-shoe-wearing-pimply-faced-wannabe-bank-clerk? You, Mr. Cullum, have just lost a customer.

See, the way I see it, there's three types of jazz.

There's jazz.

There's avant-garde jazz.

And there's avant-garde-a-clue jazz.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Yes, conkers.

What? I hear my American chums cry. I'm talking about the common horse chestnut, or Aeschulus hippocastanum, a member of the group of trees that include several varieties of the buckeye tree. In Britain the common horse chestnut is also known as the conker tree, and the nuts produced by it are known to British schoolchildren as conkers. There is a game of conkers which has probably been played by every British schoolkid for a good few centuries. The game involves:

  • Collecting a good few conkers that have fallen from the tree, the bigger the better;
  • Making a thin hole through them and threading them with string, making a knot at the bottom, one per string;
  • With another person who is armed with a conker, take turns striking each other's conkers with your conker, until one of them breaks.
  • If your conker destroys your opponent's conker, it becomes a 'one-er'. If it then destroys another, it becomes a 'two-er'. If your 'two-er' breaks another 'two-er', it becomes a 'four-er'. If that 'four-er' breaks a 'two hundred and seventy-sixer' then it becomes a 'two hundred and eighty-er' and so on.
Confused? well, never mind. That's not what this post is about. What it is about is that Autumn is well and truly here, and conkers are a full-on sign of that fact. Yesterday was the first day of that most wonderful of seasons, with its sights, sounds and smells, its pumpkins, apples, cinnamon, Halloween, harvest moons and mulled cider. I like Autumn a bit - can ya tell?

Today while walking along Appledore Road in Tenterden with its multitude of horse-chestnut trees lining the road like a green-yellow arbor, I noticed the amount of conkers on the ground and was transported back to the days of my youth when I walked that very thoroughfare daily to school and back, and to town to do the grocery shopping on a Saturday morning. Collecting conkers for the purposes of playing against and beating your school chums was the thing to do. The sky was cloudy, there was a slight breeze and a vague chill in the air. Yes indeed, the season is definitely upon us, I thought. 'I shall have to take some piccies on my way back', I mused, knowing that my dear children, raised in America, had never seen such delights as conkers.

Two conker trees at the top of the first entrance to Shrubcote.

Two others at the other entrance.

As I toddled back along the road some hours later, dusk was upon us and the light was fading. It was considerably colder and the street lamps were coming on. There was a beautiful evening sky too, so I did take a few pics, collecting some conkers as I did so, as I knew the shots of them on the ground would be too dark. I'll take a pic when I get in, I thought.

Well as I walked further and the light faded, my photographer's eye kicked in and I got a bit arty.

At the top of Beacon Oak Road, a lamppost merges with another tree.

On Silver Hill, moving traffic create a beautiful blur.
View from halfway down Silver Hill looking across towards Homewood School sports fields.

The Fat Ox looking all warm and welcoming on a chill autumnal night.
Even Shop Around The Clock cannot escape the arty treatment.

Top of Chalk Avenue looking towards Henley Fields.
Chalk Avenue with the spire of St. Michael and All Angels clearly visible on the horizon.

One feels autumnal again. At this time last year, this blog was in its infancy. This post marks my 231st entry. I feel certain that this Fall will hold much more enjoyment and love and security and warm apple cider and pumpkin pie than last year, which is a good thing, because this is my absolute favourite time of year. Bring on the falling leaves and here's to another good year for everyone. Cheers everybody, for reading and being my mates.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cruel And Unusual

Maybe I'm just cynical, but it seems to me that a man who sits on death row and tries to slit his wrists a mere day before he is scheduled to be executed ought to be left to die. The only reason that he wasn't is that the US Constitution is against what it calls 'cruel and unusual' punishment. Apparently if a man tries to slit his wrists, a question of his mental competency arises, because presumably would-be suicides are patently off their chump. Anytime somebody attempts to top themselves, they are shipped off to some mental facility. And killing a mental patient is cruel and unusual.

"Oh, you're suicidal, you must be bonkers. Why would anyone seriously want to kill themselves?"

There are plenty of reasons, but you don't have to be a loony to have a reason. All it takes is for a person to see no other way of easing their pain.

Things need to change, attitudes toward mental illness need to change. Maybe people who want to die are not mentally ill, but just fed up.

But this guy on death row... sorry, but if you try to end it all just hours before someone else ends it for you, then you are not really wanting to die, are you? You're just trying to delay things and pervert the system. You know they'll try to save your life, and then there'll possibly be a hearing to determine whether you are mentally capable. And who knows, paint a desperate enough picture and you might get to spend the rest of your naturals in a low-security facility for wingnuts. 24/7 hotel, baby. Jackass.

This 31-year old asshole who killed three people, two of them kids, in a burglary attempt in 1998, needed emergency resuscitation. The people who were his executioners had to revive him, so they could kill him later.
However, until the system changes, this sort of thing is likely to recur.

All of this happened in Georgia. I'm sure them good ole boys wuz mighty ticked off when their God-given right to exact revenge on a murderin' scumbag had been wrested from their grip just hours before the big moment. 'Taint right to kill, but sure as heck ain't right to stop 'em from killin' in the name of the Lord, and the law. No sirree. And now this guy has till 2pm on Thursday to prove he's a wack-job.

Here's the full story...

Georgia Man Brandon Rhode Gets Temporary Stay of Execution After Suicide Attempt
By Alan Harten on September 22, 2010

As time runs out for Teresa Lewis, the Virginia woman scheduled for execution on Thursday despite worldwide controversy over her mental capacity, another death row inmate – this time in Georgia – has been granted a temporary stay of his execution, because he attempted suicide hours before he was scheduled to die.

Thirty one year old Brandon Joseph Rhode was due to be put to death by lethal injection at 7pm on Tuesday night. But, as first reported by the Associated Press, some hours before- either on Monday night or early Tuesday – he attempted to commit suicide and was transported to a hospital for treatment.

In light of the events the Georgia Supreme court granted a stay of execution until 2pm on Thursday, to allow Rhode access to counsel.

Rhode’s attorney filed a motion with the court that his client is incompetent and for him to be executed would violate Georgia’s standards for cruel and unusual punishment. If such an appeal fails the execution is likely to be rescheduled for 9 a.m on Monday.

Rhode and an accomplice, Daniel Lucas, were both sentenced to death for killing three members of the same family during a botched robbery attempt in 1998.

11-year-old Bryan Moss, 15-year-old Kristin Moss and their father, 37-year-old Steven Moss were all shot dead by the pair, one by one as they returned home from school and work interrupting Rhode and Lucas’ attempt to rob their home. They were discovered by wife and mother Gerri Lucas when she returned home sometime later, after the killers had fled the house.

Daniel Lucas has yet to exhaust his appeals and no date has been set for his execution as of yet.
Well, I've probably opened a big can of worms with this one. I'm a pacifist, but for some reason I want this guy to get what's coming to him. I am a dichotomy.

Mo' Oddness

Had to blow this up so you can read it. Just amazes me that proofreading seems to be a forgotten art. In one ad the Raja of Kent manages to refer to itself as The Raja of Indian, tells us that they would like dinners, not diners, to be more adventurous, and that people come from across the Kent, among other typos. And the event costs £55! You're having a gee-raffe.

Spotted in Cranbrook. Almost in apoplexy in the street.

At the intersection of Park St and North St in Ashford, Kent, sits what looks like a lump of modern sculpture, but is in fact an automatic public toilet. Open 24 hours a day, this contemporary crapper is equipped with a sliding Star Trek-style door which opens when you deposit the princely sum of 10p. When you exit, the door slides shut behind you and it cleans itself completely.

At Smallhythe Place, next to the plants for sale.

The Breakdown

Things I Did Today

  1. Got out of bed.
  2. Ate nutritionally sound breakfast of mushroom and tomato omelette topped with avocado, drank big glass of prune juice and a herkin' big mug of Nescafe Gold Blend.
  3. Managed to turn off Jeremy Kyle Show after only 15 minutes. Man, I really feel for Jezza sometimes. If I had people like that on my show day after day I'd go nuts.
  4. Bathed and dressed. I smell good.
  5. Went to the Asthma Clinic at the doc's to get myself checked out. Puffed and blew into various tubes and was told I needed a spacer for my inhaler. Should get it in a couple of days. Got weighed too. You don't wanna know. Not good. Have put on a few pounds. Back on the healthy food.
  6. Met my girlfriend Laura at Caffe Nero and ordered a fruit booster in order to be healthy. Friends Andrea and Rupert walked in, on their way to an anniversary lunch at Chapel Down. Good to see them.
  7. Went to Post Office, picked up my dole money. Won't be doing that too often as I got a new job yesterday. Picked up an application for a driving licence. Bought a mystery novel from the library sale for 30p.
  8. Went to Truffles and bought some, er, truffles.
  9. Went to The Cats Protection Society Shop. Bought a few books and CDs.
  10. Went to Tesco and paid a small fortune to sit in a booth and have ONE picture taken. Seriously, £5? Really? This for a pic to go on my provisional licence.
  11. Bought my girlfriend some flowers. Purple mums and roses.
  12. Ate a salad for lunch. Tuna steak niçoise. Nice.
  13. Went to Julian Graves, where everything is currently half price because they are selling everything to the bare walls. This fine establishment is being taken over by Holland & Barrett, who suck. Nothing I like ever lasts. Boo. Got some good bargains. Bittersweet.
  14. Sat in the  recreation ground and had a good old natter with Laura. Nice sunny afternoon. She then headed home and I took a few pix of the funfair with the trusty camera phone.
  15. Walked home, trying to be healthy and pick up the pace a bit.
  16. Got home, checked email and Facebook. 
  17. Decided with Sis we'd get some fish and chips for dinner. Bang goes the healthy eatin'. 
  18. Listened to Radcliffe & Maconie.
  19. More computer time, uploading pics, food blog, chatting on FB with Cecilia and Skype with Laura.
  20. Bed and blog.
  21. Zzzzzz...
Wow, busy day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Odd Stuff

Wherever I go, stuff that doesn't make sense just jumps out at me. I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame, whether it be bad spelling and punctuation (a major pet peeve) or anything that just strikes me as odd or funny. Of course, being armed with a camera phone makes these moments a good sight easier to record for posterity. With that in mind, then, here are some recent examples of stuff that I spotted, with comments, of course.
This is a Chevy model available in the UK called a Kalos. Daewoo makes them too, apparently Chevy and Daewoo are somehow intertwined in the UK. But Kalos? Come on, Chevrolet. I would have thought one of your execs would have caught that. Kalos, pronounced 'Car-loss'. Brilliant.

Not entirely sure how one is meant to 'step loose'. Is this perhaps an amalgam of 'step lively' and 'hang loose'? Spotted at the Ashford JobCentre.

'Visit us Enjoy'? What? And, reading on, it seems like a good idea to pay based on the time, until you realise this offer is only valid from 6:30pm onwards, so £6.30 is the minimum amount you can pay. Add to that that this is the kind of restaurant where reservations are necessary and that people will doubtless be clamouring for a 6:30 reservation, and it turns out this offer is not as good as it really seems.

Seriously bad parking.

Tigger, who sits like this most of the time.

These two signs are right next to each other in the same window. Come on, you're not even trying. Apostrophe abuse.

I rather feel that this should read "SLOW WORKFORCE IN ROAD".

Would you like learning Chinese Mandarin. Please come in ask details.

Why does the child have boiling water anyway? What kind of irresponsible parenting is that?
And finally...
Excuse me? ESCORTING gentlemen??

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

100 Records That Shook The World, # 61

Revolver (LP)

The Beatles
This is my favourite Beatles album, and not just because my Mum played it when I was little and I used to gurgle to 'Eleanor Rigby' in my pram. To me, this represents the pinnacle of the Fab Four's studio work. I like their other stuff, don't get me wrong, but I love this one the best. I know I'm not alone in this. Rolling Stone magazine placed it at #3 in their list of 500 greatest albums of all time, just below Sgt. Pepper's  and the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds.

Released in 1966, before their last tour, during which they didn't play any of the Revolver songs, due to the impossibility of replicating any of the multi-layered overdubs and complex arrangements on stage, particularly the stark compressed sound of the string octet in Rigby  and the reverse guitar, processed vocals and looped tape effects of Tomorrow Never Knows.

The album contains many of their classics, such as Got To Get You Into My Life, Good Day Sunshine, Taxman and Yellow Submarine. It is certainly one of the greatest studio achievements in rock history. 


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Beer And Food And Rock'n'Roll

Hi folks, finally getting here after approximately 12 hours without internet (no, nothing to do with the bill, several friends and family reported theirs being out as well), which was frustrating. Ah well. We soldier on.

 I went to The Smallhythe Beer and Music Festival yesterday and wanted to report on the food, the beer, and of course, the music. The gates were open at 11am, and it continued on till midnight or thereabouts, so my companion Laura and I didn't get there till about 2pm, which is probably just as well, since it was still pretty quiet when we arrived at Smallhythe Place, which was the home of Dame Ellen Terry, who was quite possibly Victorian and Edwardian England's most famous actress (click her name to be taken to the Wikipedia entry about her). Behind Smallhythe Place lies the Barn Theatre, which is the venue for many Shakespearian productions (I once saw a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor there). At the Beer and Music fest, though, it was one of the two stages for the various bands and performers. The other was a marquee in the field behind it, and after getting ourselves a beer... oh, the beer. There were easily 30 beers and ciders to choose from, and I first tried one from Empire Brewing (based in Slaithwaite, Huddersfield) called Strikes Back... Empire Strikes Back, geddit?.. Then, I chose this little beauty.
This is Breconshire Rambler's Ruin - great name, and at 5% ABV, quite apt.
Laura's first pick was a lovely amber brew called Blonde Moment. Interesting, she said it was.Then we settled down to watch a band called Tener Duende, who are awesome. Their music draws on Flamenco, Jazz, Afro-Cuban... wonderful.
Tener Duende givin' it what for.

After the boys finished we grabbed some yummy food, cooked up by my old work buddies at Sissinghurst Castle, Alistair and Clemie...

I think it's referred to as "mugging gamely for the camera".

Clemie plays with fire.
I had a lovely big sausage in a roll, Laura plumped for the burger... thick and juicy! 

The next beer I tried was a brew called Nethergate Old Growler, a nice porter with a 5% ABV, and with this in hand, and Laura with her half-pint of Blushing Old Wife cider (cider with 10% raspberries - unusual, and strong, too - kinda made her a bit tipsy for a moment), we tottered to the barn to see the next band, The Dealers, a three-piece from Deal (where else?) who were so good, we hung around after the show to buy their CD Provenance. 

Here's where the limitations of the camera phone showed themselves badly. The theatre lighting just made the faces blurry. Sorry folks. Anyway, Left to right, Gemma Gayner - violin, Pierre Vincent - guitar & vocals, Malcolm Gayner, percussion. In the pic, he's playing a Djembe and sitting on his other instrument, a Trejon. Here's a link to a YouTube video of The Dealers in action:

So after we bought our CD, getting it signed by Pierre as we did so, we watched a band on the outside stage called Blair, who were a very tight combo that I unfortunately can find no info about. They played, let's face it, party music, with a bent towards reggae and Afro-Caribbean, and also some old-school hip-hop, but with some clever twists. At one point in their set they were joined by a young red-haired fella who could not have been more than 12 or so. They launched into a cover of Gorillaz' "Clint Eastwood", and the young boy knew the entire thing - and was it good! They then covered House Of Pain's "Jump Around" with the lad taking the lead. I was drinking a pint of Tasty Old Wife at the time, a cider with a honeyed sweetness tempered by a hint of smoke, and an ABV of 7.9%. Suffice to say I was now in a party mood.

Next we entered the barn again for a good 30 minutes of Shakespearian quotes and anecdotes, accompanied by a man playing dulcimer and singing some apropos 'hey-nonny-nonny's. Nice bit of culture.

The afternoon carried on with the self-titled "honorary Deptford Mexican and longtime perpetrator of goodtime gumbo grooves and Zydeco mayhem", Flaky Jake

whose set woulda made ya wanna slap ya mama, I guar-on-tee.

 After another beer, Palmers Dorset Gold, I was ready for the next band in the barn, T-Chest Blues, whose Sun Records-inspired set (Mystery Train, Crawdad Hole, Bucket's Got A Hole In It, Folsom Prison Blues etc.) had everyone in the front row, pensioners included, up and shaking, despite Colin Gibson's repeated problems with his snare drum falling off its stand, eventually resulting in him kicking the stand away, and putting the drum on his lap. Never missed a beat, though.
T-Chest Blues: Jon Hildreth, Diamond Jem Turpin, T-Chest Marco, Colin Gibson. Not sure of the identity of the other guitarist, but he's dang good!

By now it was dark and a tad chilly, but that did not stop anyone from enjoying punk-funk purveyors Origami Dinosaur on the outside stage as the day's festivities drew to a close. Their eclectic set included covers of The Bees' "Chicken Payback" and Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Mellowship Slinky In B Major", to name just two. You can hear more of them on their MySpace page (just click the link).

Mmmm. Beer....
Well folks, talk at ya later.

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