Showing posts with label Suzuki Goose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suzuki Goose. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Circle

Hello. It's been a little while since I last updated, but it really hasn't been my fault – honest. Since I got the fuck out of that dump Gloucester, I've been relying on the free wi-fi offered in places like Wetherspoons and Starbucks to get online. I suppose I could have written blog posts about all the shit that's been going on in my little bubble and then uploaded it once I was connected, but to be brutally honest – I just couldn't be fucked. And to be fair, quite a lot has happened since I last posted just before Christmas.

As alluded to in a previous sentence and/or paragraph, I have indeed uprooted and moved away from Gloucester and back to my home town Manchester. It was a pretty simple move seeing as I only have a relatively small number of belongings – a few cases of old games consoles and a couple of black bags of clothes (most of which I've since chucked out due to never wearing more than about three or four different outfits) was all I lugged up the M5 with me. I was initially staying at my mum's house while I sorted out my apartment, and of course it was Christmas too, so I just kind of slobbed around for a few weeks and drank way too much. To counteract the less desirable effects of all the ale and gin (yes, gin) I was swigging, I also managed to crank out some fairly impressive long-distance runs over the festive period – which was nice. 

So Crimbo came and went, I somehow managed to co-erce a letting agent into letting me sign a tenancy agreement, and then I moved into the new gaff in mid January. In hindsight there was quite a bit of stress involved - lots of viewings, lots of cancelled viewings, some irate telephone exchanges (by which I refer to the conversations had over the telephone, not the actual telephone exchange building...can buildings be 'irate'?!), sleepless nights and a couple of pretty heated arguments too. It all seems to have come together in the end though, so I can't really grumble. One thing I do feel the need to grumble about is my employment status. 

Now, I don't want to go into it too much on here as I can't afford to upset anyone (yet), but when I left my job in Gloucester, I was assured that i'd be 'in post' by the end of January. It's now almost the end of February and I'm still waiting for a fucking start date. The recruitment department at my new place of work are blaming the delay on the return of my CRB (criminal records) check from some arcane and secretive government dept (The Laundry?), but I blame that age-old blight on progress: human laziness. Sigh. So life at the moment is pretty dull for me. Yes, I'm back home and yes I've got a whole flat to exist in (as opposed to just a room), but the novelty of being off work starts to wane after a few weeks. I'm keeping myself busy/sane by going for lengthy runs and cycling (and using the cross trainer I recently bought off ebay – more on that in a future post), getting busy with the HS30 EXR uber-camera, and reading books. And now I've got the internet back in my life (no thanks to Plusnet who kept me waiting for a goddamned MONTH to get it switched on) I'll be blogging again, too. Lucky you!

On a slightly depressing note, I had my motorbike stolen a few weeks ago and it sent me into a bit of a downward slump. The insurance cunts, sorry, company wouldn't pay out either because I hadn't updated my address details after moving so I was left with nowt but a snapped chain, a broken disk lock and an empty space where the Goose had once so proudly stood. Oh, and a fucking £1000 hole in my finances. The story doesn't end there though. 

When I discovered that the bike had been nicked, I obviously rang the police and reported it. To their credit, the cops turned up pretty soon after to take some details and stuff. And the day after another patrol car stopped off at the flat to let me know that they hadn't found the bike yet. It was nice to know that the cops were actually giving a toss, to be honest. And even if it was just for show, at least they were doing that. Anyway, a week went by and I just accepted that the Goose was long gone, either sold on or burnt out somewhere in a ditch (which, ironically, is the fate that befell my CG125 a few years ago). It was on the following Saturday that I took a bus ride to the near by town of Bolton (also the town of my birth, fact fans!). On the return journey, I was sat on the upper deck of the bus and messing with my Blackberry when I happened to look up and to my left. What do I see parked down a side street but my Suzuki Goose! I got off the bus at the next stop and went back to where I'd seen the bike, and there she was...albeit in pretty bad shape. 

The little fucks who'd stolen her had ripped off the mirrors and indicators, prised open the petrol cap and pulled the body panels off the sides to (I presume) hot-wire it. Mecanically, the bike was still in good condition, and there was no other damage, but by that point I was sick of the whole incident so I resided to getting the bike back to the flat in the back of a mate's van and sleeping on it (the subject, not the bike). Next morning, I concluded that the damage done by the worthless scrotums who had pinched the bike was probably easily repairable by someone with the know-how and resources, so I sold it as 'spares or repair' to a motorcycle enthusiast for £300. Silver linings and all that. It didn't give me my transport or freedom back, but that money did go some way to softening the blow of having my vehicle stolen by some retarded, pathetic waste of human skin. I can only hope and pray to Cthulu that those responsible develop an extremely aggressive form of cancer and die a horrible painful death. Not now, but later in life. The circle will then be complete.

Next up - how laminate flooring and ignorant lesbians in the flat above can DESTROY your short-lived happiness.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Glow Your Own Way

Howdy. Been sorting out my big move back to the capital of the North over the last week hence the lack of updates. Took the Goose up the line on Friday morning and stashed it in my brother’s garage before getting the National Express back late last night. I set off at about 6.30am on Friday morning in an attempt to escape the biblical storm that was sweeping across the country and I almost made it – it was only in the last half hour of the journey that the rain finally caught up with me and soaked me to the bone. I know I’ve moaned about this many, many times over the last year – but Christ. Every single time I get on that fucking thing, the heavens open. All last week it was dry as a bone. Ridiculously cold, but dry. And then as soon as I decide to get on the bike and transport it, the rain starts. I’m not stupid enough to actually believe that some arcane rain god has it in for me, but it just always seems to be that no matter how nice the weather is, as soon as I get on my motorbike, it turns shitty.

Apart from the rainy (windy and dark) journey on Friday morning, the weekend was quite pleasant. Spent Friday night at my dad’s and Saturday night I went to a friend’s house party/Christmas do that eventually spilled out into a few pubs. It was in a place called Ramsbottom on the outskirts of Manchester and was a really good event, not least because the pubs around that area mostly seem to be proper ‘real ale’ pubs with good friendly atmospheres. I don’t really know Ramsbottom that well, but from the few times I’ve been there to visit this particular friend, I have quite a positive opinion of it. The place seems to be very ‘old fashioned,’ but not in a horrible, urban decay way – more in a ‘dry stone wall’ way, where a lot of the buildings are made of those grey odd-shaped bricks. There’s also a proper steam railway around there somewhere, so it gets a thumbs up from me. I fully intend to dress as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and ride that quaint fucker one day. 

I went to Minehead a few years ago and we went down to the station there to have a ride on the steam train, but the twat wasn’t running so we just went to the pub instead. So yeah, Saturday night was a bit of a blur involving lots of ale and party food. Earlier in the day I got lost on the ridiculous motorway network encircling Manchester and ended up somewhere near Liverpool when I was trying to get to Stockport (and predictably I also got piss wet through), but apart from that, it was a chilled weekend. 

I got the coach back from Chorlton Street in Manchester and discovered to my horror that it isn’t only Birmingham coach station that charges 30p for the pleasure of being able to have a piss or shit in their toilets. Personally, I think that this kind of thing is disgusting. Charging people to carry out essential bodily functions. I remember when I went to Hull a few months ago and was bursting for a piss, but the toilets in the train station were even more expensive than the two aforementioned coach stations! I can’t remember how much, but I’m pretty sure it was more than the already outrageous 30p levy at Brum and Manc. In case you were wondering, I didn’t use the bogs at Hull, I just emptied my effluent all over the main High Street instead – not that you could tell (this is a joke, by the way – I think Hull’s a pretty nice place, especially since they built that new shopping area). But anyway, enough of my boring life story. 

When I was in Manchester waiting for my coach, I stepped into a shop called Clas Ohlson, which to me at least, appears to be Ikea without the furniture. It’s full of all sorts of tat – from garden tools and kitchenware to electrical and computer accessories. I love it, and could spend ages wandering around just looking at stuff. One thing I did see was this: 

768 colour combinations apparently. Not sure about that.

It’s a lamp. Not just any lamp though - its called 'Glow' and it comes with a remote control that lets you change the fucking colour! How insanely cool is that?! 

Each button changes the colour, the ones on the right adjust the brightness

Standard 'orange' mode

Probably should've tidied up before taking these pictures

As soon as I saw it I had to have it, so I shelled out £30 for it and transported it back halfway across the country with me. What else? Oh yeah – I sold my old iPod on Gumtree as well as my laptop in order to fund my latest ‘big’ purchase – an iPod Classic 160GB. It’s silver and matches the new MacBook Pro I got last week. I’m becoming everything I ever hated buying all this Apple stuff, but you know what? I think I can see why people desire Apple stuff: it just fucking works. It comes out of the box, you turn it on...and it just works. As simple as that. I’ve had no issues whatsoever with the MacBook, and the iPod is just the same. None of those stupid Windows dialogue boxes popping up with error messages accompanied by that stupid alert noise. Nothing but silky smooth performance. Sure, the MacBook is only a week old so that’s what you’d expect, but the OS is so much better than anything gaudy old Windows 8 could ever be, what with its hideous neon squares and incompatibility issues. Urgh. I played around with a Windows 8 PC in Curry’s last week and I was pretty horrified by how clunky it felt compared to Mountain Lion...and that was after using the Mac for about 3 days. Am I an Apple convert? Well, I was always slightly into Apple macs anyway (my first job after Uni was selling and demoing Apple G5 Powermacs), and I did all the online exams to gain ‘Apple Product Professional’ status (those RAID exams were fun, let me tell you), so I don’t think it’s a question of being a convert. More a case of ‘I ditched Windows because Mountain Lion kicks ass.’ Or something like that. In other iPod news, I’ve managed to download a piece of software that converts DVDs into mp4 movies that can be played on the iPod – so now I can watch movies on the cross trainer in the gym. Which, frankly, is awesome. Right, that’s enough from me for the moment. Until next time.

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.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Weekend Endevours

Went down to Bristol on Friday to collect my prize from the Heart FM competition I won after last week’s half marathon. The prize was £1000 in shopping vouchers for anywhere in Bristol city centre, and they could be split across five different stores. I did a little bit of research into which shops I might want to get vouchers for, but as I’m an indecisive twat at the best of times, I opted to get Cabot Circus vouchers. For those who don’t know, Cabot Circus is a new(ish) shopping mall in Bristol that is kind of like the Bristolian version of the Manchester Arndale, and is named after the famous Italian explorer Giovanni ‘John’ Cabot. He set sail from Bristol in the 1400s and is widely reputed to be one of the first Europeans to set foot on the American mainland. How thrilled his spirit must be to have a shopping centre named after him. So yeah, I got the vouchers as gift cards that could be used in any of the shops in the Cabot Circus complex. Before I could go off in search of 'stuff' though, I took part in a photo shoot for the local newspaper (The Bristol Post) and also for the Heart FM website where I had to hold a load of shopping bags stuffed with towels to simulate, er, shopping. Twas all very amicable, and I would like to thank the staff from Heart for the prize...even if the chance of any of them actually reading this dirge is miniscule. Off I popped then, to Cabot Circus. 

The first place I went to was H & M. I looked at the garishly hued men’s clothing department and quickly decided that I’d rather be tried as a 12th Century heretic than wear any of their clobber, although I did need some new socks so I picked up a pack of 12 and headed to the cash desk. I handed over my gift card and the girl behind the counter just stared blankly at it. She tried to process it as a normal debit card and it wouldn’t work, so she went off to speak to a manager. After about 5 minutes, she came back and declared that the shop didn’t accept Cabot Circus gift cards. A little confused, I left H & M and went into Next, which was next door, funnily enough. I tried to purchase a pair of jeans...only to be told that they didn’t accept gift cards. Onwards I went, to the Apple Store, where I found a rather nice iPod armband running thingy. Tried to buy it...couldn’t because the little mobile chip and pin things that the Apple ‘geniuses’ carry around with them don’t accept gift cards. 3 shops...3 times I’m told that my prize is useless. I almost fucking exploded with rage at the guy. 

With that, I marched off to the customer information desk within Cabot Circus and told them that no matter where I went, none of the shops were accepting my gift card. The staff there were actually pretty helpful and explained that every store within the mall had signed up to the scheme and that they should all take the cards. With that, one of them went back to H & M with me, verbally bitch-slapped the staff behind the counter and made them ring the socks through (that were still on the counter where I’d left them 20 minutes earlier). Lo and behold, the card suddenly worked! I had some new socks! I thanked the woman who had accompanied me and she assured me that if I had any further problems using the gift card, that she’d be back to help. I had more problems with staff who didn’t know how to process the gift card, but they were generally overcome after several calls for management staff etc. In the end, I managed to get a few useful items including a new rucksack (for next year’s expedition to Thailand), a Lonely Planet guide to Thailand, a few T-Shirts and a few birthday presents for my niece. I didn’t spend the lot – how could anyone spend £1000 in a day?! I just got a few things I actually needed and bought a few presents for people. I still didn’t manage to get anything from the goddamned Apple Store though, as they insisted that their payment machines weren’t compatible with the gift card. Which kind of figures really – Apple and ‘incompatible with the mainstream’ go hand in hand. The thing that struck me was how many of the stores in Cabot Circus gave me crap and treated me like some kind of criminal just because I was using a gift card. They really need to sort that shit out as I’ve no doubt I’ll be the first or last shopper who comes into contact with untrained shop staff only to be told that particular stores don’t accept them...when in fact, they do. 

Saturday I was kind of dreading slightly, as it heralded the first proper long-distance journey on the Suzuki Goose. As documented here, the previous times I have taken it onto the motorway, it’s died on me. Granted, both times it was down to either having the fuel tap on ‘reserve’ or simply having no fuel, but like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I had become accustomed to associating the M5 with the spluttering and eventual packing up of the bike’s engine. I needn’t have worried though, as Saturday’s early morning trip down to Dorset went without any hitches at all. In fact, it flew by with alarming rapidity, thanks to the extra 100cc I now have at my disposal. The only things that were slightly unwelcome were the extremely cold wind and the mildly uncomfortable riding position of the Goose – it’s not really the kind of bike you want to be doing 200 mile journeys on unless you’ve got a well-padded arse. I don’t, so I was walking like John Wayne on arrival at my destination. Apart from that though – no problems at all. The bike itself is fairly tatty (what can you expect from a 20 year old machine?), but when it’s got enough petrol in, it runs like a dream and goes like greased lightning. Here are a few pictures I took of the Goose over the weekend: 

Saturday night involved a wedding party during which I discovered a taste for Gin and Tonic and Sunday was spent recovering from the G&T tsunami from the night before. Also saw the new Liam Neeson film Taken 2 on Saturday afternoon – next up: my rambling thoughts.

Thursday, 27 September 2012


One of the things most car drivers take for granted is the fuel gauge on their dashboard. I don’t have one on my current bike, due to the no-frills nature of the instrument panel. All I’ve got is a speedo, a rev counter, indicators, neutral and hi-beam icons. That’s it. No fuel gauge, no oil temperature...nothing but the basics. It’ll probably come as no surprise to read then, that on Monday afternoon I ran out of petrol. On the M5. It wasn’t a particularly nice experience, especially as I was overtaking a lorry at the time. There I was, thundering along at 80mph when suddenly the bike started to lurch and grumble, lost all power and started to slow down. Luckily, the motorway was fairly quiet so I was able to indicate into the outside lane and then trundle to a halt on the hard shoulder. I wasn’t actually aware of the reason for the bike’s reluctance to start up again (I just thought it was a re-occurrence of the problems I had a few weeks ago) until I opened the fuel tank and shook the bike from side to side. Empty. Great. I was two miles from the junction I was planning on coming off at so I had no choice but to push the Suzuki up the hard shoulder and up the ramp and then negotiate a bridle path before finding a petrol station. I filled up, and she started first time. So, if you happened to see a bloke pushing a Suzuki Goose up the M5 on Monday afternoon – that was me! 

Also, let this be a lesson to you: never underestimate the power of the petrol gauge. To be fair, I’ve had the bike for a few weeks now, and the only time I’d actually put any fuel in it was when I put a fiver’s worth in...erm...a few weeks ago. So I’ve only got myself to blame really. Small engine bikes are so fuel efficient, you almost forget that they actually require fuel, and without the gauge on the dash screaming ‘put some petrol in you dick!,’ it’s easy to forget. Furthermore - Suzuki Gooses (Geese?) are heavier than they look, so pay attention to your petrol level, fellow non-gaugers.

It wasn’t all bad though – my faith in humanity was restored slightly by the number of other bikers who pulled over to ask if they could help. When I told them I was out of fuel, most of them offered to take me to the nearest petrol station...but then we realised I had no petrol can and that it would require going back down the motorway to the next junction and coming back up on the other side in order to get back to the Suzuki. So I just resided to push it. But to those helpful fellow motorcyclists, I say thank you: you just don’t get that kind of assistance when you drive a car. 

I went to see the new Judge Dredd film the other day. I had high hopes for it, seeing as I’m quite familiar with the comic-based version of Dredd. Back in my early teens, 2000AD was one of the many periodicals I would waste my mum’s child benefit money on (or, if I happened to have a paper round for that particular month, my own money), so the Dredd character is one I have a particular interest in. When I actually sit and think about it, 2000AD and the various ‘Tharg’s Future Shocks’ spin-off comics were probably my first real exposure so science fiction, so you can see why I was really rooting for this new movie to be kick ass. I love the whole setting of the franchise – the huge, dirty mega cities, the idea of a no-man’s land outside the city walls, the dystopian lifestyle depicted within said walls. It’s like Blade Runner and 1984 rolled together, but with a bit of dark humour thrown in for good measure. 

The first Dredd movie didn’t do particularly well at the box office, but I still think it’s a pretty decent film (even if Dredd/Stallone does take his helmet off). I reckon the reason for that film’s lack of success was that the whole Judge Dredd thing was/is a British comic strip and American knowledge of it in the early 1990s was pretty limited. I’m guessing most people in the US had no idea what the fuck Judge Dredd was meant to be when the Stallone version launched. What? It’s a courtroom drama? Set in the future? With Rambo in it? I’ll pass, thanks. 

So the latest take on the Dredd universe? Well, it’s pretty fucking good to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard that Karl Urban had been cast as the main man, but his performance was outstanding. And his chin/grimace is more ‘Dredd’ than Stallone’s could ever be. The storyline is fairly basic – Dredd and a new recruit (Anderson) get called to a homicide in one of the city’s vast tower blocks (remember the ‘block wars’?) and discover a massive drug manufacturing plot. The drug lord behind the operation then locks the block down and orders her gangsters to flush the Judges out before they can shut her down. It’s a simple story, but set in this world, it’s enough to power an entire movie. I don’t know what it is about Karl Urban, but he just ‘does’ Dredd so fucking well, and the gore and slow-motion effects blend perfectly with the firefights and humour. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a comedy, but there are a few laugh-out-loud moments along the way. 

The only slight criticisms I have of the movie are the lack of character exploration of Dredd himself and the lack of exploration of Mega City One. Remember in the previous movie how the whole thing kind of hinged on Dredd’s past – the way he was cloned, had a long-lost brother and all that shit? And then there were the sections with the flying Lawmasters that showed you more of the city? There just isn’t any of that in this new one. I suppose this just sets up the possibility of a sequel where we get to see more about Dredd’s past and more of the city, so it’s not all bad...but I was left wanting more from the storyline. Also – where was the fucking ABC warrior?! More ABC warriors in the sequel, please. 

So Dredd then. Worth a watch if you’re a fan of the subject matter, but also worth a watch if you’re a fan of the science fiction genre in general, as the pickings at the cinema are a bit thin on the ground at the moment...apart from Looper, which everyone is raving about. It looks intriguing from the trailers I’ve seen thus far...I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be Inception or The Adjustment Bureau all over again. Two films which looked fucking awesome...but turned out to be either incomprehensible bullshit (Inception), or a totally wasted opportunity (Bureau). 

I only really go to the cinema if there’s a film on that I really, really want to see (I think the last thing I saw was Prometheus The Dark Knight Rises), mainly because it’s so fucking expensive. Dredd was only showing in 3D so I had to pay for the glasses too, and even though Cineworld advertise Tuesdays as ‘bargain Tuesdays,’ I still ended up forking out nearly £9 for the pleasure. When I got into the theatre after all the fucking weirdoes watching Anna Karenina had cleared out, I found that I was pretty much on my own and had the entire cinema to pick a seat from. So I sat right in the middle so I could get the best view of the screen and optimum 3D viewing angle. No sooner had I sat down than these two fuckwits came in and sat right behind me. As soon as their asses touched the seats, they cracked open cans of coke, started rustling crisp bags and began a full-blown conversation at the tops of their voices. Fair enough, I thought – they’ll shut up as soon as the trailers start. They didn’t. They carried on talking – at full volume – right through the start of the movie and beyond. When one of them started kicking the row of chairs I was sat in, I turned around and looked at them. This was enough to shut them up...for about 5 minutes, and then they started again. I just got up and moved to another aisle, and even though I was far enough away from the pricks to enjoy the rest of the movie, I could still hear them from the other side of the auditorium during quiet moments in the film. Who does that? Who pays nearly ten quid to go to the cinema and then talk through the whole fucking movie? I was determined to find out. 

After the credits started to roll, I went outside and waited for these two fucktards to emerge from the cinema. Because of the lateness of the hour and the small number of people watching the film, I easily spotted them after about 3 minutes of loitering, and I approached. “Thanks for the running commentary,” I began, “I really enjoyed paying £9 to listen to you talk through the entire film.” One of them was quite big and I was expecting trouble, but he stepped closer to me and apologised. I didn’t want his fucking apology at that point, but I was glad I’d given them a piece of my mind, as most people today just let shit like this slide because they’re scared to open their mouths in case they get shanked. Not me. If someone threatens to shank me, I’ll shank the fucker first – in the eye. But that’s just how I roll. Anyway, this bloke started apologising whilst the other one was suddenly quiet. Turns out it was a dad with his mentally handicapped son. The son is on medication for his extreme ADHD and other mental issues and that’s why they were talking – it’s the only way to keep the son’s attention and stop him wandering off etc. I did feel a bit bad about jumping to conclusions and having a go at them without knowing the facts, but how the hell was I supposed to know? I can totally see why the guy took his son to the cinema at 9.30 if he has to talk to him through a showing...but why sit right behind the only other person in there?! Jesus. 

Last bit of overly geeky horse shit: I’ve finally discovered why I can’t play original Xbox games in my 360: the hard drive. You see, my 360 is one of the slim ones, but it’s the matte black 4GB version. I discovered, much to my dismay mere weeks after I’d bought it, that 4GBs of memory simply aren’t enough if you want to install games and demos etc on your system. So off I went to eBay and I got an unbranded HDD for peanuts, whacked it in, and hey presto – more space than I’m ever likely to fill! Winner! Alas, I’ve since discovered that due to the lack of a partition for the saving of original Xbox game files, this unofficial hard drive renders the console unable to load original Xbox no Halo 2 or Outrun 2 unless I go and give Microsoft even more of my hard-earned for an official hard drive. And to that I stick two fingers up. 

It’s the Bristol half marathon this Sunday and I’ve already got my race number and timing tag etc. This’ll be the first race I’ve taken part in this year where I haven’t been totally smashed the night before, so I’ll be sure to divulge on here how I get on. Bearing in mind that all of the previous post night-out races have resulted in either personal bests (Sturminster Newton ½ Marathon) or podium finishes (Puddletown 3rd and East Manchester 2nd), I reckon it’ll be interesting to see how I get on.