Thursday, 29 November 2012


While I was waiting for a bus on Tuesday morning, I spotted a guy in the station doing chalk drawings of various cartoon characters on the pavement. I rummaged around in my pocket for my last remaining change and threw it in his hat as a token of good will, and then asked if I could take some photos of him at work. He obliged and I got chatting to him. His name was Pebbles, and he'd been homeless for 10 years but managed to get by on the money he collected whilst doing his pavement chalk drawings. His nickname, so he told me, came about after he started creating drawings on the beaches of the south east with pebbles and other flotsam that had washed ashore. He was a really nice bloke and is a totally self-taught artist (his words were "I can't play the guitar so I bought some chalk and taught myself to draw"), so I thought I'd post a few images of his little display from Tuesday morning.

Incidentally, when I got to Birmingham coach station later on Tuesday morning, I was bursting for a piss. I found the toilets but there was a 30p levy for using them...and I'd given all my change to Pebbles before getting on the bus. I then had to wait 40 minutes on the brink of pissing my kecks until I got on my connecting coach, whereupon I made a bee line for the stinking chemical bog at the back and unleashed a torrent of piss more akin to a fire fighter's hose jet than a human widdle. Just so you know.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Fun With Ye Olde Photoshoppe

I've been fucking around with Photoshop. It's quite an old version (Photoshop 6.0) that I nicked from my sister a few years ago, but it does the job. Have a gander at some of the edits I've made to a few of my recent photos:

This is the original
Changed to black and white and added noise
Mucked around with the colour saturation and hue
With extra lens flare added 
So yeah. Hardly award-winning shots or edits, but I'm learning new shit. Christ - I've had serious man-flu since Saturday morning and the amount of snot that's been dripping from my nose has to bee seen to be believed. It looks like the River Exe has burst it's banks on my face...and it hasn't stopped for 3 days - where the fuck is all the moisture coming from? By rights, I should look like a fucking prune right now with all the fluid that's exiting my body through my schnoz. Going for a run along Bournemouth beach in 70mph wind and lashing rain probably didn't help, but meh. I've been taking shit loads of medicine (at proper intervals, naturally), but nothing seems to be able to get rid of this damn headache, sore throat or streaming nose. I hate colds. I'm dripping snot on the keyboard now so I'm going to stop typing. Urgh.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Images of Bournemouth

Went to see Frankie Boyle at Bournemouth BIC on Friday night. He was as acerbic and offensive as usual - which is why I like his comedy so much. I'll do a full blog post about the weekend over the next few days but in the meantime, here are a few pictures I took with my new camera:

I'm starting to get the hang of the HS30 EXR now I've had a few chances to get out and play with the maual settings, but I'm probably going to invest in a digital photography guidebook and maybe even a short course in the subject. Might put a full review of the camera up here too in the next few days.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


The Wii U comes out next Friday and I have to say that when it comes to hardware launches, this is the most apathetic I’ve ever been. I can pretty much recall every major hardware release since I first became interested in gaming, and only in recent years has my interest waned due to more important shit (like adult working life) getting in the way. I vaguely recall the Sega Saturn and PS1 launches, if only through the mags that I was reading at the time, but the N64 launch is particularly vivid in my mind simply because of the intense media activity, the queues in Manchester’s Market Street and the fact that one of my mates actually went and stood in line for one. His tales of fights breaking out and people being mugged for their newly acquired hardware just made me want one even more. Alas, being a broke schoolboy meant all I could do was go and play the demo machine in GAME. The next launch after that was the Dreamcast, a console that I still have a special place in my heart for, and then came the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox and then the current ones. Yadda yadda yadda. I’m not going to give you a history of gaming simply because it’s a fucking cliché and it’s been written about multiple times before by people better qualified than I to do so. What I will give you though, are my opinions on the Wii U console and the games that are launching with it. So here it is: I think the Wii U looks fucking terrible. 

The last Nintendo console I actually bought with real money (and not the glowing green rupees I pay for my grocery shopping with) was the Gamecube, and it was a fine machine that served its purpose well. After that I went towards the Xbox and 360 and have never looked back. The Wii never appealed to me simply because of the casual gamer image it assumed, and the odd ‘lifestyle’ adverts full of smiling, sockless idiots playing Wii Sports in neutrally coloured IKEA living rooms turned me completely off: was that the audience Nintendo were suddenly trying to attract after years of ‘proper’ gaming? It just alienated me is all, and my desire to own a Wii died before it even had a chance to draw a single breath. And in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t fork out for a Wii because there’s so little of any real value there for the serious, adult gamer. Sure, there are the Zelda games and a few decent Mario offerings but where are the Mass Effects and the Halos? The serious football games and driving simulators? I want to be blowing shit up in full HD, not waving a fucking Wiimote around trying to knock hats off statues of clowns. Jesus. 

And now we have the Wii U. What the fuck were they thinking? Releasing a console with an iPad for a controller? The design of the Wii U is retarded on so many levels I barely have enough words to describe how annoyed I am at the thing’s very existence. Great – you can keep playing if somebody wants to watch TV. Er, Nintendo? It isn’t 1979 anymore - most people have more than one TV these days. And if that’s what  Nintendo are pushing as the killer feature, I have a horrible feeling that the Wii U will bomb with disastrous results. But wait – there’s more:  the Wii U uses a proprietary Blu-ray format for its games, but can’t play Blu-ray movies or DVDs. The Wii U controller pad monstrosity has a battery life of about 3 hours before it needs to be recharged. Buying a second pad will require you taking out a bank loan, and the pro controller (the one that looks like a normal control pad) isn’t compatible with every game. The console needs a software update out of the box to enable a lot of the extra features (like backwards compatibility), so if you haven’t got broadband at’re fucked. These are just a few of the screw-ups I’ve been able to glean from new user reviews, and there seem to be more weird little problems everywhere you look...but the main one for me is that it just feels like a stop gap. A stop gap before the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony appear and basically redraw the console war battle lines. 

Where will Nintendo be then? I’ll wager they’ll be in exactly the same place Sega found they were in when the PS2 appeared, only without a console even half as good as the Dreamcast was compared to its rival. The Wii U does at least have HD graphics, but the two models available have pitifully small storage options (8GB and 32GB) and the technical specifications are likely to be dwarfed by the next generation Xbox and PlayStation. I don’t care that you can add external storage – the Wii U should have come with at least a 60GB hard drive and in one technical configuration. Different colours are fine, but the different versions thing is just insulting and confusing for people who aren’t really gamers (like parents buying Christmas presents, for example). 

Nintendo have really fucked up here, and I don’t think I’ll be proven wrong. The Wii U already boasts inferior visuals to most 360 games, and that’s worrying: all of the pre-release shots of ZombiU (the only game that really interested me) seem to have been mock-ups judging by footage I’ve seen in most of the video reviews flying around Youtube, and the other games that are ports of existing 360 and PS3 titles...well, opinions are mixed but who exactly are they trying to appeal to? PS3 and 360 owners who already played Mass Effect 3 and Arkham City a year ago? Quite. I want to make it clear that I’m not a Nintendo basher – I’ve owned every Nintendo console up until the Wii, but this new direction the company has taken infuriates me more than it probably should. Please Nintendo, drop the boring motion control shit, the odd controllers and the ‘we don’t care about technical specs...we care about fun’ holier-than-thou preachy bullshit. Just go back to making kick-ass, boundary-pushing games that run on a conventional, graphical ball-buster of a console. Or to put it more simply, go back to making N64s. Urgh. Just thinking about how much of a cock-up the Wii U is makes me want to punch something – why Nintendo? Why? It could have been so different. OK – you wanted to try something new with the original Wii and it paid off. Good work, but trying to draw it out and appeal to the same audience with a new hardware release that shares a name with the predecessor will only end badly. 

Confusion, poor sales and consumer alienation are probably the only things that will make Nintendo sit up and realise that actual gamers want a convention console from them. I really hope their next offering comes quickly, and there isn't a motion sensor or a tablet PC in sight.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Aperture Crazy

Was messing around with the HS30 at work this lunchtime. One of the guys I work with knows a little about photography and he gave me a 5-minute crash course in depth of field and aperture settings. The result of this uber-productive coffee break? Here:

Some are better than others, but I think you'll agree that the depth of field is pretty good in most of them. Also, I make no apologies for the really boring subject matter. It's an office...what dost thou expect?!

Check out the 'Photos' tab at the top for some examples of the HS30's night modes in action.


Last Thursday evening when I was riding my bike around in the dark looking for something to do (I didn’t find anything, incidentally), I discovered that my back tire was a little soft. It still had enough air in to allow me to pedal and it didn’t completely deflate so I figured that in the months that I’ve owned the bike, air had just naturally escaped leaving the inner tube a little saggy. Upon returning home, I chained the bike up and forgot about the soft tire, telling myself I’d deal with it at some unfixed time in the future when I could be arsed looking for my bike pump. 

Come Monday morning, the tire was completely flat and so it was deduced that I had indeed, contrary to earlier opinion, managed to get myself a puncture. I whipped out the repair kit on Monday evening after work and proceeded to set about patching my inner tube. What followed was the most drawn-out and labourious puncture repair saga I think I have ever endured. 

First, upon removing the inner tube and pumping it up to find the hole, I was amazed to discover that there wasn’t one. I was doing all of this in the dimly-lit car park outside the block where I’m living so I didn’t have a bowl of water with which to locate any tell-tale air bubbles escaping from the tube – I was just holding the thing up to my ear to see if I could hear air escaping. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with the tube so I happily resigned that maybe the air had escaped through the valve, and just started putting it back into the tire ready for the wheel to be reattached to the bike. Reattaching the wheel turned out to be a task in itself seeing as the rest of the bike was still chained to a fence post (all in the name of convenience, you understand. In practice, it turned out to be anything but convenient), but I eventually got it on, tightened the quick-release nuts and then started to re-inflate. As soon as I plunged the pump handle down I heard hissing. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t coming from the wheel, but it blatantly was, so incredulously I once again removed the wheel, once again at great difficulty due to the bike being chained to a fence. I really do seem to enjoy making things more difficult than they need to be. 

Anyway, upon removing the inner tube from the tire, I pumped it up again and this time managed to find where the air was escaping from – a tiny pinprick of a hole on the outer side of the tube opposite the valve. I sanded the area, applied the rubber solution and stuck a patch on. I waited about 10 minutes in that cold, dark car park and then went about reinserting the tube into the tire and going through the hole rigmarole of reattaching the wheel (while the bike was still attached to the fence). I began to pump. Hissing. Again. Un-fucking-believable. So yet again I went through the whole process of taking the wheel off, removing the tube looking and listening for air escaping. It was coming from the same place I’d just stuck the was that possible? The patch was still there, bonded to the tube with rubber solution, yet the air was still pissing out. I figured that maybe I hadn’t stuck the patch down with enough glue, so with great difficulty I ripped the patch off and set about sticking another, bigger patch onto the area. After another 5 minutes of fumbling around in the half-light, cursing like Mutley and resisting the urge to throw the fucking wheel over a nearby shed, I got the wheel on. I went to make a quick phone call and came back, giving the glue time to cure and then I carefully started to pump the tire up. One pump, two hissing. So far so good. Three pumps, four pumps...HISSING! AAARGH! At that point I just gave up and left the damned thing to rot. And there it would have stayed until it were naught but a few rusty sprigs of metal, if I hadn’t had to rely on it to get me to work and back. 

I could use the Goose to commute daily if I so wished but that would be plain lazy, and the combination of continuously atrocious weather and the poor condition of most of the local roads (not to mention the ridiculous number of traffic lights) make riding around this town a pretty treacherous and arduous task. My quest to repair the existing inner tube had resulted in failure so I admitted defeat (ungraciously, you understand) and resigned to just buying a new one. That’s where the story becomes slightly more surreal – I went to four different places during my lunch hour yesterday to get an inner tube. None of them sold the right one for my bike. I would have expected this if I owned a penny farthing or some other arcane or unusual artefact from the history of cycling...but I don’t. It’s just a cheapo hybrid with standard wheels, yet none of the stores that I visited had the right size of inner tube. 

The last place I went to before I gave up did have some that were almost the right size and the salesman assured me that it would fit my wheel, so I bought it...but not before also having to also buy a puncture repair kit too because they wouldn’t take card payments of under £5 (that shit winds me up too...but that’s another post). So I left with my new inner tube and my new repair kit, happy in the knowledge that the next time I popped that fucking wheel off my bike, it would be going back on with a leak-free tube installed. So last night I went for it. I got the wheel off, ripped out the old tube, tried to insert the new one...and realised that the valve tube was too wide for the hole in the wheel rim. I stifled an anguished cry of anger and pain - the new tube had a Schrader valve instead of the one where you have to unscrew the little top bit and press it down, meaning the shaft was wider...and meaning that I couldn’t use the tube. 

Determined, I took the old tube back up to the flat and inspected it. I dug deep into my reserves of logical, methodical calmness. I removed the old patch from the day before. I filled the sink, pumped up the tube and then plunged it into the water, and lo -two columns of bubbles rose it’s the battle-scarred surface. Two. One on either side – that’s why the hole hadn’t been sealed; whatever had caused the puncture had pierced both sides of the tube and I’d been ignorantly trying to patch only one. That little mystery solved, I fixed two patches and waited for them to dry. Once dry, I pumped the tube up a second time and checked it in the water again, only to find yet another hole on the other side, adjacent to the two I’d just covered! Upon patching this one too, the tube stayed solid. Jubilantly, triumphantly, I put the tube back into the tire and wrestled the wheel back onto the bike (it was still chained to the fence) and then took it out for a little ride just to test the integrity of the repair. It held – by God it held! 

So I decided to have a ride down to the fairly well-lit docks area of Gloucester to take some night shots with my new camera. I chained the bike up and went off to snap away...and on returning to the bike discovered that some retarded member of the indigenous mono-brain celled population (also the kind of individual I like to refer to as a cunt) had stolen my lights.


While I was looking for an inner tube yesterday lunchtime, I tweeted about how disgusted I was at not being able to find what I was looking for:

"Reasons I hate Gloucester number 27 - even the most ubiquitous of items are impossible to get hold of. Example: a bicycle inner tube!"

I don't know how or why, but the local newspaper (The Citizen) seems to have dredged it from the depths of obscurity with some kind of search algorithm that recognises the word 'Gloucester' and printed the thing on the letters page of today's edition:

Fame/Infamy await. I'm guessing there'll be pitchforks and flaming torches waiting for me when I get home tonight. Excellent.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Tale of Yore

I mentioned a few posts ago the issue I have with my landlord/housemate’s toileting habits. Smearing faecal matter all over the toilet seat and bog roll just isn’t the type of thing somebody in their late 20s should be doing this side of a mental asylum’s front door. Nevertheless, I got back from my weekend in Dorset to discover that the bloke had yet again managed to pebble dash the entire toilet bowl and underside of the seat with slurry. I really don’t know how to approach this awkward issue with him – I mean, what do I say? “Excuse me mate, would you mind not leaving your shit all over the place?” See my point? Hopefully I’ll have moved out before long...but that’s another post (coming soon, maybe). 

I also mentioned in the recent past how I’m really looking forward to having my own crib, and that isn’t something that’s likely to change whilst I’m living under the same roof as poo boy. It’s not until you live in a shared flat or house that you can really appreciate just how fucking annoying other people can be, and just how inconsiderate too. Case in point – not only does Hong Kong Pooey (as he shall henceforth be referred to) do the scat thing, he also has several other endearing properties. Like, for example, doing the washing up at any time after 10:30pm every night of the week. Not the biggest sin in Christendom, you may think – until you understand that the kitchen backs onto my bedroom and so every slammed cupboard door and every clanging pan, pot, cup and plate comes echoing through the paper-thin plasterboard like a freight train passing the window. Why at such a late hour? Every night? Why not at, say, 7.30? or 8? Why is it after 10.30 that the cacophony starts up? I’ve been on the edge of storming into the kitchen and smashing every plate and cup in the fucking flat on more than one occasion. Gah! Seriously, it’s not until you’ve experienced it 5 nights on the trot that your sanity starts to seep out through your ears. 

Another treat is the guy’s penchant for slamming doors. Early AM? BOOM! Late PM? BOOM! The guy walks around in a self-consuming daze and just slams doors like Thor slams heads. I’m surprised there are any left on their hinges in the damned place with the amount of slamming that goes on. And then there’s me trying to be quiet (whilst trying to avoid touching the shit-encrusted toilet seat) if I need a piss in the middle of the night like some kind of bitch. Upon re-reading what I’ve just written, I think I’ll start laying the slam-down myself next time I need to drain the main vein at 3am. See how Hong Kong Pooey likes them shit-stained apples. 

So as you can probably tell, not only am I not overly enamoured with this pathetic excuse for a town (I refuse to call it a city), my current accommodation setup is pretty undesirable too. This isn’t the first time I’ve lived in such intolerable circumstances. When I graduated back in 2003, I moved back to my mother’s house in a bid to save some money. I found it unbearable and when a friend of a friend mentioned he was looking for some housemates to rent rooms in his newly-acquired rental property, I jumped at the chance. After about a week, I and another friend (let’s call him...erm...Frank (?!) moved in and I was all set for it to turn into a real-life episode of Friends. 

After about a month, however, I realised that living in a house with two blokes who don’t really get on was less like an episode of Friends and more like an episode of Bottom. Plus, I also discovered that the ‘landlord’ (he wasn’t, although he claimed to be because his name was on the tenancy agreement) was a complete weirdo who constantly complained about ‘cross contaminating’ the dish cloths and refused to have any dairy products near his shelf in the fridge. Also, he had the ability to drink two pints of Guinness and then projectile vomit all over the carpet. After a further couple of months, Frank had decided he’d had enough and left to live with his girlfriend. That really bummed me out because I was left living alone with ‘landlord,’ who we shall now refer to as Mr Strange. We continued as a party of two for a couple of weeks and I rarely saw the bloke unless he was in the kitchen complaining about the dish cloths or cooking up his non-dairy rice-pudding with prawns slop. And then McRae happened. McRae was a random bloke that Mr Strange had recruited from his office as a third housemate, partly (I’d wager) as a way of obtaining an ally in the house (did I mention things had gone a bit sour between us?!), and partly as a way of once again splitting the rent three ways. When I first met McRae, It was on a Sunday night after I’d got back from visiting my dad in outer Lancashire. He was sat in the living room loudly bleating some clichéd political view whilst clutching a can of lager. Mr Strange sat there nodding and laughing falsely – it was like David Brent fawning after Finchy in an episode of the Office. So in I went, introduced myself, made small talk, had a few beers with the pair of them...and left thinking that maybe the guy was alright and that I shouldn’t be so quick to make assumptions based merely on association. These impressions quickly faded after it transpired that McRae was the smelliest, scruffiest man alive. 

He slept on top of a bare mattress in a sleeping bag and lived exclusively on takeaways. But he invariably didn’t finish said fast food and just left the wrappers and food remains all over his bedroom floor or on the kitchen worktop. He never washed his clothes (at least as far as I could tell) and as with the takeaway cartons and kebab foil, just left stinking socks and underpants lying all over the place. I recall one incident when I was walking up the stairs; a gust of wind must have blown in through his open bedroom window, collected the stench from within and then forced its way through the gap under the door. It hit me full in the face as I walked up the stairs and it nearly knocked me back down them again: sweat, shit, feet, rot and decay, all combined in one demonic sucker punch to the nasal cavity.

It later transpired that he’d also run up a fucking huge phone bill talking to some toothless ‘girlfriend’ on her mobile (this was 2003 remember). The phone line was in my name so the bill came out of my account...and McRae valiantly offered to repay me £5 a month until the debt was honoured. I told him to get fucked and angrily demanded the sum of the bill...which he then suddenly happened to have. I moved out not long after, and not long after that I joined the navy. Upon which I endured a further 6 years of smelling other people’s unwashed bodies and putting up with their abhorrent ‘ways.’ After that came the ‘house of the bathroom-floor period blood,’ as described in another recent post...and now we’re bang up to date.  So it’s either been shit on the toilet seat, period blood on the bathroom floor or stinking, unwashed socks and takeaway cartons blocking the hallways. Yes, my experiences in shared accommodation have been ‘interesting’ to say the least.

This will be the last.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Friday evening’s ride into the heart of the wilderness (well, Dorset) was probably the most ventricle-threatening trip I’ve yet to have on a motorbike. I set off from work at 4pm and as soon as I got on the M5 the fog just started rolling in like something out of a zombie film. Either that, or an N64 racing game. And that, dear reader, is an oblique reference to said hardware’s inability to cope with scenery ‘pop-up,’ forcing racing game developers to mask trackside detail just ‘appearing’ in the middle-distance by blanketing everything in grey mist. See San Francisco Rush for further details. Once I hit Bristol (and that damned 50mph zone that has been there, seemingly, forever...even though no road works appear to be taking place), the fog was truly enveloping and it stayed that way all the way down to my exit at Taunton. It didn’t stop most of my fellow road users driving like fucking maniacs though – and people still act amazed when there’s a report of a major crash on our highways. Driving at 100mph+ on a fairly clear day is (probably) dicing with death...doing it when you can barely see the next vehicle’s back lights is just asking for the Grim Reaper to get out of his comfy chair and put his cloak on. I opted to spend most of the journey in the outside lane, letting the idiots race past into the fog with abandon knowing that even if a fireball did suddenly erupt in the distance and illuminate the grey dreariness, I’d have ample time to pull over onto the hard shoulder, stop the bike and guffaw heartily to myself. Callous? Yes.

Once I left the relatively well illuminated motorway, I was forced to use the badly maintained, narrow and downright scary back roads of Somerset and Dorset in order to reach my destination. I find these roads hair-raising at the best of times, what with their winding nature, framed with thick hedgerows and usually strewn with clods of mud from the frequent tractors that use them to get from field to field. I’m sure there’s something in the Highway Code about depositing mud on public roads, and how it’s illegal (and fucking dangerous)...but the bumpkins who are guilty of the action don’t really seem to give a toss. Throw in darkness, fog and an Audi driving right up behind you and the experience becomes extremely undesirable. It’s these kinds of trips that can either make you a better rider...or kill you. Obviously, by the way you’re reading these words, you can hopefully tell that I didn’t die that night (unless I’m dead and don’t actually realise, ala The Others...), but I didn’t enjoy the journey one iota. Hopefully, once sunnier times return the experiences of 2012’s pretty shocking weather will put me in good stead and make me an even safer motorcyclist. Unfortunately, no matter how good a rider I am, it won’t stop people in cars being fucking arseholes. I think I’ve spent enough time berating other non-motorcycling road-users in recent months though, so for now I’ll let the subject rest. Well, until some other prick almost kills me through arrogance and over-confidence in his/her own driving ability.

On Saturday I bit the bullet and bought something I’ve been coveting for quite some time. I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to make it into a hobby but never really had the equipment to do so. I have my Lumix point and click digital camera, which is an amazing piece of equipment...but it isn’t really designed to take photos of the kind I want. It’s fine for taking snaps of friends on nights out, or of family occasions...but of stunning sunsets or majestic vistas? Well, no. The quality is sublime – what would you expect from a 16 megapixel compact? It’s just that depth of field is nonexistent and manual focus isn’t an option. As for the zoom...well it’s pretty pointless. The Lumix is a great camera for the intended purpose yes, but not really a ‘photographers’ camera. So I went to Curry’s and bought a Fujifilm HS30 EXR digital bridge camera. It cost a small fortune (just under £300), but by God does it take nice photos:

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to photography, but the numerous settings are so beginner friendly that even the biggest idiot can get the thing out of the box and start taking great photos immediately. If you are an expert though, there are enough settings that you can (more than likely) produce some simply stunning pictures. The main attraction of the HS30 for me was the manual zoom and focus rings around the zoom lens. Most cameras in this class have motorised zooms (where you press a button or switch to zoom in and out), but the HS30 lets you rotate the rings to do it. It does make you look very professional and also lends a look of a proper DSLR to the thing. The only drawback is when you’re filming video and the zoom is manual so unless you’ve got robotic wrists the zoom can be a little jerky. To be fair though, I didn’t buy it to make films (even though it does shoot in 1080 full HD and has several high-speed modes allowing for rather impressive slow motion recording). The number of shooting modes and special features is a little overwhelming at first, but one I got my head around the basic functions and how to just point, zoom and focus I was away. I took the camera out (well, my girlfriend drove me) into the hills of Dorset and we managed to get some pretty spectacular shots of the surrounding countryside and late afternoon sun. Most of the following were taken in the vicinity of Hardy’s Monument overlooking the seaside resort of Weymouth and the town of Dorchester:

Hardy's Monument
This was actually taken from a moving car...but it still looks good.
The English Channel (I think...)
Some Swans. Erm.
Hardy’s Monument was erected in honour of Vice-Admiral Hardy – the bloke who Admiral Nelson famously asked to be kissed by on his deathbed, and the setting is very picturesque with views (on a clear day) that go all the way along the south coast towards Lulworth Cove in one direction and Burton Bradstock and Golden Cap in the other, whilst the island of Portland looms directly ahead. It’s a really nice place to visit when the weather is good simply because of the vistas available...what isn't so good though is the situation with the monument and the surrounding land. There’s a fairly large gravel car park around the base of the monument that you used to be able to park in, and on nice days there was a little van selling proper ice cream and drinks...but for some reason the gimps who own the land have decided to close that car park (why??) so now you have to park either in a lay bye along the main (narrow as hell) road or in one of the makeshift car parks at the bottom of the hill and walk up. I believe it’s due to some form of disagreement between the private land-owner and the National Trust (who own the monument)...but all it’s really doing is putting visitors off.

Anyhow, that’s enough from me today. Over the next few days, weeks and months I shall be getting to grips with the new camera and posting the results here (I’m going to add a new section, and I’d appreciate any comments either positive or negative. Negative! Geddit?! Haha...oh.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Wye Not?

Took the Goose out for a run today. It's been sat looking forlorn and unwanted for the past two weeks, and it hasn't so much as been turned over in that time as I've had no inclination whatsoever to get on it in this blistering cold. But the sun decided to show itself today, and even though it's still cold enough to make an Eskimo think twice about popping out to the shop, I fired her up and went for a ride. I intended to go into Wales and have a bit of a ride around the Brecon Beacons National Park, but on reflection it seemed like a bit of a I ended up terminating my trip in a little place called Ross-on-Wye. Never been there before, and I probably won't go again, but it's a nice enough little place. Look:

I bought a pork & apple pasty from a farmer's market and had a lavender-flavoured scone (sounds odd, I know, but it was quite nice) and then went home. The ride was actually quite enjoyable - no dick heads riding right up my arse and some excellent scenery. Plenty of bikers out giving each other nods too, which is good to see. Not really much else to report, other than there was a crash two cars behind me in the traffic jam heading back into Gloucester. Exciting stuff.

On the subject of the Goose, I'm having a new back brake disk and pads fitted on Thursday. I was chatting to the mechanic about it on the phone and I just happened to mention that I thought the bike could do with a tidy up, and he put me in touch with a bloke who does that sort of thing as a hobby. So on Monday this bloke is going to stop by and have a look at the Goose and tell me what he thinks it'll cost to have all the panels and tank resprayed. I'm a little bit excited about this (sad, I know), because by all accounts this bloke is a bit tasty with his respraying, and does all sorts of funky designs on scooters and Lambrettas. I'd be interested to see what he can do with my old Goose - just a spruce up is what I'm after, but if he can make it look awesome with Suzuki graphics and shit...well, that'd Just got to see what kind of price he quotes first. If it's reasonable, this particular Goose could be on the way to looking totally unique. The Suzuki Goose is a pretty rare bike as it is - one with bespoke graphics would be even rarer...meaning it'll be even more sought after. Which means profit when I eventually sell it. Interesting.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


As alluded to in recent posts, I rent a room in a house share. Actually, it's more a flat share. The landlord also lives here - he has the rest of the flat, I have my little room. We share the kitchen, but I generally don't have any presence in the rest of the place, and rightly so. I'm renting a room. When I go, there will be no evidence that I was ever here. I'm basically a shadow, an echo of every other poor bastard who couldn't afford his or her own place. And apart from the shit smears that get left on the bogroll and/or toilet seat every time he goes into the bathroom, I have no problem with the bloke. One thing I've only recently noticed though, is that he locks the door every time he goes in there. Even at, say, 4 in in the morning. Not that I lie there listening for the guy to go for a piss or (messy) shit at 4am...I just noticed it this week when I was lying awake at 4am. And now I've noticed it, I've noticed that it's every single time. Every. Single. Time. Why is that? Why? I go to drain the main vein and leave the fucking door open. It's not something that bothers me...yet my house mate feels he must lock the door at 4am. Does he think I'm going to spring out of my bed, naked and fully erect, and seduce him like some rampant Nosferatu while he's in the throes of spreading shit all over the Armitage Shanks like a tractor spreading muck down a deserted lane? The answer is, rather boringly, no. If I was to attack him, it'd be with something rather more offensive than my cock...just makes me wonder is all. Should I be offended by this tiny action - the clicking of a lock at 4am...or has the solitude of living in this swamp town finally made me go mad?

Just a thought(s). Interestingly:

Other thoughts: do I buy an upgrade to Windows 8? I just don't know. Nobody can tell me if I should. So-called computer 'experts' who work in computer 'shops' can't tell me. Experts who don't know, when asked, what Direct X is. I weep.

Lastly, I'm writing this on the night of the US election. I'm literally watching BBC News psychophants foam at the fucking mouth, live from just outside (or at least, up't road) from t'white thouse. Listen, I really couldn't care less who wins it but I'm going to guess Obama. Of the two, he's (probably) the least likely to press the red flashing button that reduces the whole planet to something that resembles a pebble, and I can only hope the yank public have the sense to re-elect the guy. Which makes me slightly hypocritical, after saying I couldn't care less...but no fucker reads this crap anyway, so I reckon I'm pretty safe. Heil Hitler. See? Case rested.

Friday, 2 November 2012

House Share of Leaves

Started reading House of Leaves last night. Well, started from were I got to in the Amazon preview before it inexplicably jumped forward about 9 chapters, rendering the whole point...well, pointless. God damn Amazon not giving free books away. Who do they think they are? I must say that it's a good read though, if a little unorthodox in the layout department. There are about three different narratives going on at once, two of which take place solely in the footnotes of this report about a guy who's house seems to be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It's pretty fucked up, and the page layouts are all over the place – sometimes the footnotes start mid-paragraph in one narative and then you have to read that (and the following pages) before going back to the original passage you were reading. Sounds pretty confusing, and it is to be fair, but if you're used to reading several books concurrently (which is also what I'm doing now, the other two being Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks and The A303: Highway to the Sun by Tom Fort), then it's fairly easy to get your head around. I started reading at around 8pm last night and was still going well past midnight, so that kinda gives an indication of how easy it is to get carried away by this story (stories?).

The multiple narrative thing isn't the only slightly unusual aspect of  House of Leaves' design. The way the text is actually presented on some (most) of the pages is really weird - sometimes it's in red and struck through, other times there are just a few words on the page. Some of the pages have the text arranged in bizarre ways, like all lop-sided or just in one corner - I've honestly never read anything like it, and I'm guessing that as the layouts get more muddled the further you read, it must be some kind of mechanic used to illustrate madness or something? I don't know, but it looks freaking cool. Any fucker tries to read this badboy over my shoulder on the train and they'll probably vomit. Which is nice.

Apparently, there are two versions of the book - one in full colour, and one in greyscale. I've got the full colour version (complete with white crease down the black front cover - see the last post), and this is important (apparently) because the word 'house' always appears in blue type, as I've illustrated for your delight, dear reader; while other words appear in red, or red with a strikethrough. But the strikethrough is black. Which I can't illustrate because Blogger just don't do that fancy highfalutin shit. I don't know why yet (in the book, I mean), but I'm sure it'll be revealed. Or not. It's certainly trippy literature. Litripture. And just like that, I add another word to the English language. Maybe Lonely Planet would like to offer me a wad of cash for that one? Email me, guys.

I can see now, just flicking through the various chapters why this book could probably never be reproduced for Kindle (other e-readers are available) - I doubt it'd be able to handle the retarded (inspired) page layouts. Well, the normal black and white e-paper version couldn't, anyway. I mean, look at this shit:

is this a copyright infringement?!

That's not to say I'm not enjoying it - I wouldn't have been up till stupid o'clock this morning if I wasn't. I think it's a totally refreshing and completely unique book and I'm just stunned I'd never heard of it before last weekend. A true literary oddity, is House of Leaves. Or House of Leaves, as it should be typed.

Been torturing myself by looking at flats to rent in Manchester. It seems like such a stupid/petty dream to have, but I've never actually had my own place - I mean totally to myself. Since I left University, I've lived exclusively in either house shares or military accommodation. And these have meant that I have lived exclusively in a single room for the majority of my adult life (with the odd 2/4/16/32 man mess or dilapidated barrack thrown in). One room or locker with all my shit stuffed into it. 

So you can see why the very thought of having a kitchen or a separate living room fills me with the kind of excitement usually reserved for that point where you reach the zenith of a roller coaster's climb, teeter precariously for a microsecond and then plunge back earthward. Just the thought of having my stuff in separate rooms. A bookshelf. A fridge with stuff in it that I know won't go missing. Somewhere to put a desktop computer (it'll probably be a used Powermac G5 - oh yes). A desk. A couch! Fuck me, a couch. Personal space to do what I want, without someone else also being there. Without someone else leaving shit all over the toilet bowl, slamming doors at midnight, ploughing their boyfriend/girlfriend in the next room, just being there all the fucking time. My own place to have some relaxing time in, but also the freedom to invite people round whenever I want without the fear of a housemate or live-in landlord coming back and ruining it. Sigh. I'm babbling again. Some time soon(ish) though. And guess what? I'll be sharing it all here! Lucky reader(s?)!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nooks & Trannies

My book finally arrived at Waterstones and they promptly called me when it was ready for collection. Sadly, it appears that it's been used as a rugby ball. These probably sound like the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic, but I'm guessing the fact that I complained about the delay has played some part in this. The cover is all bent (with a massive crease down the front of the book) and the spine and back cover are scuffed to hell. Yes, I'm a little annoyed that a company as large and reputable as Waterstones can allow this sort of thing, but then again maybe it just got like this in transit. Either way, Waterstones have lost a customer in me - when you spend £20 on a book (a fucking book!), you expect to get it on time and in an acceptable condition. By God, what has happened to customer service? I've seen books on car boot sales in better condition that this supposedly new copy of House of Leaves. Bah! At least it's here though - which is the main thing.

I shall be delving into it later on this evening and imparting my thoughts on this very blog in due course. On the subject of books and bookstores though, I noticed an advert on TV t'other day for the Barnes & Noble Nook. Does this mean B&N are finally launching in the UK? If they do, they won't have to try very hard to kick Waterstones' arse judging by my recent experience - all they'll have to do is not send orders to wrong parts of the country, and then deliver said orders in a condition vaguely approaching 'new.' Oh, and maybe employ staff that don't have massive tattoos of the Batman symbol on their forearms (with matching batarang earrings) or look like Hagrid stunt doubles. Seriously, I'm all for people being individuals and shit - but at least try to make yourself look presentable whilst being 'individual.' There are certain shops where it seems to be a prerequisite that you've got bright blue hair and a luminous nose ring in order to get a job there. Gamestation is one such place. Why? I'm a gamer. I'm probably the biggest games geek I know, but it doesn't make me want to walk around wearing a ripped tablecloth and have a gravestone tattooed on my neck.

HMV is another one. Actually - wait an fucking minute, there's a trend developing here (I think). Gamestation. HMV. Waterstones. All shops I've been in recently where at least one member of staff has had black lipstick on (and their sex didn't seem to matter). Curious. There's definitely some kind of link or correlation going on here...but I really can't deduce what it is. I suppose all of these stores sell electronics of some form...maybe that's it? I don't know, but it seems to be the de rigueur for somebody whose job it is to stand around offering (usually incorrect) music or games or book advice to middle aged people in beige trousers and brown NHS spectacles.

I seem to have gone off on quite an unexpected tangent there...but speaking of the Nook, it looks like quite a nice e-reader/tablet thingy. But seeing as I've already got both a Kindle and a BlackBerry Playbook (a device which also allows you, I don't think I've got much need for one. Maybe I'll go and ask the steampunk goth working in Rumbelows for his/her advice.

I recently bought The Click Five's second album Modern Minds and Pastimes. If anyone in the UK knew who The Click Five were, I'd probably get kicked to death and then set alight, but thanks to their total lack of presence here, I'm good (for now). Basically, TCV (as they shall henceforth be referred to) are what would be produced if Rivers Cuomo ass-raped any one of McFly. They're a band who sing ever-so-catchy pseudo indie/pop and sing it fucking well. I've had their first album for ages (can't remember where I even got it from) and most of the tracks are pretty hummable, but then a few weeks ago I bought their third album off iTunes. My god - what a record. So on Monday night I paid another £7.99 for their second album...and it's easily as good. Want three albums of toe-tapping power pop? TCV should be your first port of call.

Other recent media-related good shit I've encountered: Seasick Steve (music), Moneyball (film), Warehouse 13 (TV series). Seek them all and thou shalt be rewarded.