Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Week That Was

Another week of working and running around like a headless chicken. Such is the life of being self-employed I guess. Mind you, I wouldn't go back to working in an office for all the tea in China (although I thought that tea mostly comes from India?). And on the subject of work, I was in Brixton earlier this week and noticed this...



This photo shows...

1 Truck
2 Vans
5 "Workmen" (1 asleep in the Truck)
8 Road Cones
1 Small Red Barrier
1 Small Hole In The Road

It never ceases to amaze me how easily our Great British Workforce manages to make the simplest of tasks into a major conference. Now, unless "A hole in the road" has turned into a serious catastrophe, I'm fairly sure that there was no need for the person in the Truck, or at least 2 of the others (smoking and talking about Hotmail!) to be there. Being in the trade that I am, I often hear English people moaning about people from other countries "taking their jobs" or generally doing fuck all. But I don't see how they can moan when they're getting up to this sort of stuff themselves.

We've also had a fantastic track record of generally being arse at building anything. Take our national stadium, Wembley. Originally it was supposed to cost £458m and was intended to open in time to host the 2006 FA Cup final. In the end, due to a plethora of delays, Wembley finally opened in time (just) to host the 2007 FA Cup Final and at a final cost of around £798m.

The Millennium Dome was another costly screw up. Originally conceived under John Major's Conservative Government, revamped plans for a bigger and more expensive project were proposed by Tony Blair. He reckoned that it was going to be "a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity". Yeah, right. Whatever you say Smilie. Crap content and a serious fuck up over proposed visitor numbers meant that when the New Millennium Experience Company went into liquidation in 2002, the total cost of The Dome was around £789m. National Lottery grants (£628m) and ticket sales (£189m) meant that, over costs, the full Lottery grant wasn't needed. But the £603m still meant that it was £204m over the proposed £399m. The Dome was left mostly unused (aside from some weird projects), costing an estimated £1m a month to maintain until acquired by O2. 8 years after the millennium debacle, it's actually not a bad place and has successfully hosted a wide range of gigs and events. Including Paul Weller at the smaller venue inside, the IndigO2.

Ok, neither of these examples are exactly a hole in the road. However, it might go some way to explaining how petrified I am at the thought of us hosting the Olympics in 2012. Aside from the World Cup Final, it's probably the most watched sporting event in the world. It's a chance for the hosting country to show off, to let the world know what they're capable of. Sydney did an amazing job of hosting in 2000 although, as with most recent hosts, have suffered financially from having the Olympics. Even with great organisational skills and excellent planning, it appears that the Olympics is a costly venture. But when it comes to "Great Britain", things could be significantly worse. We couldn't organise our way out of a paper bag, and our control over the purse strings seems to be totally non existent.

World, forgive us. For we know not what we do.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other news this week...my laptop is very nearly dead. Old age has settled in, the hamsters inside have arthritis, and it's being read its last rights. I didn't want to get "caught short" and be without access to the world so I decided to go and buy a new one. It's a financial hit that I really didn't need, but needs must and all that. So much of the stuff that I do is based around email and other forms of online contact and being without a laptop is a serious pain in the arse. Off I went into Central London, cash at the ready.

I ended up buying a Samsung R60plus (don't ask, I've no idea what it is either). All I know is that it's got loads of RAM, a VERY large Hard drive, has wireless, a DVD rewriter, a HUGE screen and is faster than rat up a drainpipe with a firework up its arse. I'm not going to go into the story about buying it, because I'll only end up getting angry again and it's such a nice day that I don't want to spoil it. All I am going to say is that I'm very happy I'm not the sort of person to just roll over and accept things when I know that someone is trying to shaft me. The people in the shop are praying that nothing goes wrong with my new laptop, because I'm fairly sure that they'll run for cover if I ever step foot into the shop again.

Other even more exciting news, especially if you're me (which you aren't, I'm me. Which means it's not as exciting as I'm making out!) is that I've been kindly given a ticket for the iTunes festival on Wednesday next week and that I'll be off to see Paul Weller again! SUCH a result! And I'll be meeting up with the guys from Koko again which I'm very much looking forward to. See back here afterwards for the inevitable photos and videos!

We've also had a change over in the house. The Aussies have moved out and a new couple have moved in. They seem ok...but don't they all when they first arrive? Only time will tell!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Paul Weller Photo Post

A post that does exactly what it says on the tin, for a change. After last weeks fantastic gig at Koko I came back and obviously (to me it's an obvious thing to do anyway) started searching for photos of the event that were better than mine. I came across THIS site and asked if John would possibly be able to send across some photos. And being the gent that he is, he sent me over the photos below, and they're fantastic!




This one is my desktop background. Not essential information, just thought I'd share it!





Many thanks to John Rahim (the photographer) for sending me these photos. If you decide to take any of these and use them anywhere, please be sure to credit John. And be sure to drop by his website and check out all the other tasty stuff he has on there!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

XFM All Day Breakfast

Another weekend, another Weller gig! Well, I wish it was every weekend. The more and more I see of Weller, the better he gets as far as I'm concerned. This was the last gig in what was a small series of winning tickets. And like the last one, I was pretty close to the stage again. Unfortunately the photos I got this time weren't anywhere near as good as the last time.

The Viking was supposed to be coming with me but due to a last minute hitch, he couldn't make it. In his place was Damon (obviously, his name has been changed...and because of the striking resemblance to Mr Albarn of Blur fame...he shall always be known as Damon). See photo for evidence.

As with all the venues that I've seen Weller, it was another new one. The Koko in Camden. And like the IndigO2, it's an "intimate" place and really does add something extra to the whole experience. We weaved our way as close as we could to the front of the stage, only about 20ft away from where Weller was to stand. The event was played live over the radio (XFM 104.9fm) and was part of the larger "All Day Breakfast" where gigs started at 6am on the Saturday and went through until 6am on the Sunday. The live feed was played into the venue over the speakers, and at 3pm introduced Weller! We were treated to a fantastic array of songs including Push It Along, Come On/Let's Go, Eaton Rifles, Peacock Suit, and a new one on me, Wild Blue Yonder. Thankfully it was incredibly loud so nobody could hear me letting out a sound like a cat being slowly murdered (AMC singing).

I wish I could put into words the feeling I get when I've seen him live. Whether it's been an acoustic gig, or full on, I have been so immersed in watching and listening to the music that I can hardly remember anything else going on around me. People I know have asked me if I'll ever get bored of going to see him. In short, no. And I'm very much looking forward to going to see him again in Germany (with Linda, and in her town too!) and then again in Brixton (with the Viking, his Missus, and my other best mate that I'll refer to as Tinker). And if at all possible, I wouldn't mind getting hold of a ticket to Amsterdam.

After the gig we met up with a couple of people the Viking and I met at the IndigO2 (I'd given one of them, Glen, my spare ticket). Glen and Paddy are great guys, both of them having seen Weller more times than I can count, and memorabilia collectors extraordinaire (I managed to get a set list! see below photo). Going to Weller gigs is becoming more than just going to watch the show. It's like being part of a little "group", most of us standing out because of the way we dress or our haircuts. Familiar faces are beginning to pop up, every one of them friendly. I feel like an 8 year old kid and I'm joining my first "gang". The music is the cornerstone of the whole thing, but around that is so much more. We have a drink, exchange email addresses so that I can send on some photos, and go our separate ways. I've no doubt we'll meet them again at another gig soon.

Here's a few photos, including Damon, some of the gig, and my small but VERY precious "collection" of Weller stuff. Everyone's got to start somewhere right?

Damon!





Please note the signed ticket!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

U S Alright?



USA JAIL - SOME INTERESTING READING
TO THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR WITH JOE ARPAIO, HE IS THE MARICOPA
COUNTY SHERIFF (ARIZONA ) AND HE KEEPS GETTING ELECTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.


These are some of the reasons why:




Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the 'tent city jail' to save Arizona from spending tens of millions of dollars on another expensive prison complex.

He has jail meals down to 20 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.

He banned smoking and pornographic magazines in the jails, and took away
their weightlifting equipment and cut off all but 'G' movies. He says:
'They're in jail to pay a debt to society not to build muscles so they can assault
innocent people when they leave.'



He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and city projects and save taxpayer's money.




Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for
discrimination.

He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only allows the Disney channel and the weather channel.

When asked why the weather channel
, he replied: 'So these morons will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.'
He cut off coffee because it has zero nutritional value and is therefore a waste of taxpayer money. When the inmates complained, he told
them, 'This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back.'
He also bought the Newt Gingrich lecture series on US history that he pipes into the jails. When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series that actually tells the truth for a change would be welcome and that it might even explain why 95% of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record for June 2nd
2007), the Associated Press reported: About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed wire surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.



On the
Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing pink boxer shorts were overheard chatting in the tents, where temperatures reached 128 degrees.
'This is hell. It feels like we live in a furnace,' said Ernesto Gonzales, an inmate for 2
years with 10 more to go. 'It's inhumane.'
Joe Arpaio, who makes his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. 'Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for parole, only to go out and commit more crimes so they can come back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things many taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.'

The same day he told all the inmates who were complaining of the heat in the tents: 'It's between 120 to 130 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to walk all day in the sun, wearing full battle gear and get shot at, and they have not committed any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!'

Way to go, Sheriff! If all prisons were like yours there would be a lot less crime and we would not be in the current position of running out of prison spaces.

If you agree, pass this on.
If not, just delete it.

Sheriff Joe was just re-elected
as Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona



This was an email that I was sent a little while ago. Never has so much sense come out of America (no offence!). I only wish that every prison was run like Joe's. But with this poxy "Human Rights" shit, it's never likely to happen. As far as I'm concerned, you commit a crime you then give up your rights. Yeah yeah, I know...there are always miscarriages of justice and when that happens, it's awful. Nobody's justice system is perfect. However, does this mean that we should have "soft" prisons? Does that mean that we should give prisoners a better standard of living that millions of law abiding citizens have? I, for one, think not. Make prisons a living hell.

I'd even go so far as to say "Let the punishment fit the crime". But that's a while different issue and one that I may just leave for another post.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Choo Choo...

Yes, that was indeed a mad week or so. Time has been in rather short supply, other than to work. Although I'm not complaining about being busy, I'd rather be that than sitting around with nowt to do.

I've amassed a somewhat large number of posts on Google Reader to get through, but get through them I will and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone. And that definitely includes the 25 posts I've yet to read from Toasts epic journey! If you don't read his blog, see your way to checking it out from the sidebar link.

Firstly...Canada Decision. Due to visa SHIT...and the fact that I'm a mere 4 weeks away from the cut off date of being 31 *groan*...I have decided that I am going to continue saving like a beast for the next few months, delay my intended leaving date until February 2009 and arrive on a 6 month holiday visa. If I happen across any "work" whilst I'm out there, then so be it (shhh...don't tell anyone because I'm pretty sure than I'm not allowed to do this!), and it will also give me a chance to check out the country and make some contacts. If everything goes well, and I really like it, then I'll come back here and start applying for residency. If not...well, the world is my oyster I guess! But come flood or high water, I'll 100% definitely be arriving in Canada in February. Sweeeeet.

Also had a fairly busy weekend. Went to the Science Museum again, and the Natural History Museum, and Portobello Road, and some "festival" thing in Marylabone High Street. All rather funky things, but most enjoyable. Having made my Canada decision, I'm now able to go out and have a bit of a social life. And it's been great.

The Natural History Museum is a great favorite for All Mod Cons. Most educational! And they've got some pretty top drawer models of animals (life size Blue Whale, freaking MASSIVE!) AND they've got dinosaurs. Brilliant! Took the video below...of a T-Rex they've got there. It's 3/4's of the size of a fully grown T-Rex, but still fairly damn large, and incredibly life like. Scared the hell out of some kids anyway.



There's also a section that's holding competition to put some "art" of one of the ceilings to be dedicated to Darwin & his theory of evolution. In this little room are 2 white walls that have a bare tree painted on them. Inbetween these 2 walls is a desk with green paper on. Leaving it up to the visitors to write what it is that they "think".



One of the pieces of paper really impressed me. Although I'm not sure what I "took" from it was the intended "message". If it was, then it was pretty clever. If not, it was a simply a word and a fish. Here's the picture...



Now, what I took from this was that Darwinism and the theory of evolution came about at a time when pretty much everyone believed that God made everything, decided everything, controlled everything...ALL THE TIME. So to suggest that it was all mere chance that we're here, and that it's all a bit more random and "lucky" was a pretty revolutionary thing to say. So to have the name Darwin written inside the Christian fish symbol was cleverly ironic. At least, that's what I got from it. I'm not, however, quite sure where the feet come in to the idea. Any ideas?


Next week promises to be slightly busier, but the most important event is on Saturday when I shall be going to see Paul Weller at the Koko in Camden courtesy of XFM and having won more tickets. Lovely Jubbly! The Viking has also assured me that he can/has obtained tickets to see him at his FINAL gig of the year in Brixton. AND the lovely Linda will shortly be purchasing tickets for us to see him in Heidelberg no less! Gig scheduled for October I think. Can't wait for that one either...as I plan on FINALLY obtaining a photo that includes All Mod Cons and Paul Weller standing next to each other. Oh ye gods...what a quality result that would be!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And On Today's Agenda...

Well...here's a right mixed bag of stuff. Several different things to divulge today, especially as I've been absent for a while.

First up...I'll get the "aggression" out of the way...had yet another UNWANTED visit. Enough is enough. How can I put this in plain English? How about...erm...FUCK OFF! DO NOT DROP BY AGAIN!!!

Cool, got that out of the way.

Next up...the last post. I'd like to say thanks for the comments, especially to those people that contacted me out of Blogging World with ideas & suggestions & generally kind words. You know who you are & thanks. It's appreciated. Viking, you're fat and have Moobs (see his comment on the last post).

My plans for Canada have been somewhat scuppered. Basically, the visa that I'm after comes with an age cut off...namely, the end of my 30th year. Which is in July. In order to get this visa, I have to have a job organised in Vancouver, an offer letter of employment, and have paid for my flights (there and back). And I also have to have all of this sorted out and landed IN Canada BEFORE I'm 31. 6 weeks to do all this? I don't think so. Anyway, I'm going to keep trying and I'm going to give it a go by going straight to the Canadian High Commission in town. Maybe I can work something out to get the specific visa I want. Failing that, I'm going to save a little longer & get a holiday type visa and leave in Feb of next year. Which is significantly later than I wanted, but needs must and all that. Anyway, I'm not giving up, so keep checking in and I'll give updates as and when they happen.

Next on the Agenda is the MIGHTY Paul Weller! Again! A couple of posts ago I revealed I won tickets via XFM to see Weller at the Koko in Camden. Well, a few days after winning those I woke up to XFM again and at the ungodly hour of 7am I heard that they were doing another competition for a gig at the IndigO2 (the O2 arena, formerly the Millennium Dome). The first 5 people to text in would win 2 tickets each...needless to say, my Golden Fingers raced across my phones buttons. They said they'd notify the winners by phone around 9am. Well, no call. And this was the same gig that the Viking said he was going to try and get tickets for.

Later that day I get a message from the Viking saying that he'd come good for tickets! Sweeeet! Yet another Weller gig! 20 minutes later, I get a call from the record company saying that I'd won tickets too! So now we had 4 (2 of which we kindly gave away to Weller fans that hadn't been able to get them, because we're bloody nice like that).

Well, neither of us had been to the IndigO2 before, and didn't realise just how small the venue was. Intimate doesn't even begin to describe it. We arrived, and I headed straight to the front, no more than 12 feet from the microphone stand!! I could hardly believe it.

I could go on to say how utterly brilliant the gig was, describing it in every detail, but I won't bore you that much as I'm sure there's going to be more opportunities to do so...especially in 3 weeks time when I head off to the Koko. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a couple of photos that I managed to get...




Monday, June 2, 2008

Away

I have been absent. Things are happening, well, actually they're not happening. Which is more to the point.

I'm currently standing on precipice of the Dream Abyss. The harder I grip the edge, the more of the Dream falls away beneath me. 4 years worth of Dream, 18 months of serious hard work and NO social life. And for what?

To be told that, at 30, I am too damn old.

I'm looking for my Obi Wan. My one last hope.