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Sunday, 30 December 2012

So, that was 2012

30 December 2012 – Okay, if you want to be pedantic. Yes, I know that there’s still a day and a few more hours until 2012 is officially put to bed. But this is my blog and if I want to do my review now I will. Stamps foot in a petulant manner Winking smile.

Very little has happened regarding my living arrangements, I’m still displaced with a third of my possessions in the UK another third in Italy and thanks to two break-ins at our place out there the remaining third has been either sold-on or sit in the home of the thieving scum, that saw fit to take them. We are hoping our situation is resolved in January 2013, so that progress can be made and I can continue to pursue my dreams.

I’ve had a good year regarding work and writing, I completed Willow and the Motorway Horses, had some more published features in magazines and in September I started my ‘grown up’ novel entitled 52. I’ve had  good year at my writers’ group Renegade Writers there’s been encouragement, honest critiques and much mirth and merriment.

The iPod has done its job splendidly this year, with the top three most shuffled songs of 2012 being. Israel - Siouxsie and the Banshees. La Differenza Tra Me E Te - Tiziano Ferro and Memory Lane – McFly. (That’s a surprise"). Talking about McFly,I’ve always thought that Harry was bit fit, but having seen them all grown-up on their Christmas special, I don’t think I’d say no to any of them should they knock on my bedroom door. – TMI saucy.

I ended the year with a nomination from another author in the Next Big Thing blog project, which has inspired me to continue tapping at those laptop keys, and I then added my thoughts to the project too. Next Big Thing (Barry)

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Sadly in 2012 we lost the disco diva Donna Summer, another Gibb brother and comedy legend Eric Sykes. Actor Clive Dunn gave up his fight against ‘the fuzzy-wuzzies’ and author Maeve Binchey put down her pen.

However I personally believe the saddest loss of the year was that of Winnie Johnson, who passed away without knowing where Ian Brady buried her beloved son, Keith Bennett. I hope the hunt for Keith continues.

A diminutive singer from S. Korea achieved the most viewed accolade on YouTube. Emmerdale celebrated its 40 years on TV with an advert that reprised the classic Untrue Unfaithful (that was you) by Nita Rossi and Girls Aloud celebrated ten years in the music business with another greatest hits album imaginatively titled Ten.

The world watched as we staged the Olympics and the Paralympics, successfully in my opinion. The only downside of the Olympics was the repeated TV appearances of Louis Smith and being subjected to Victoria Pendleton’s attempts at dancing on Strictly.

The apocalypse didn’t set the world on fire, to coin a phrase. The world failed to end as predicted so it looks like I’ll now have to return my library book and pay the 15p fine.

Before I publish my last blog entry for the year I must leave you with another spelling mistake in a sign I spotted inside the window of an estate agent.

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If you notice on the eighth line they have used the American spelling modernization with a ‘z’ then two words later they use the English modernise with an ‘s’ – I wonder if this was a deliberate case of someone trying to confuse a spell checking program?

I hope that every one of you that will be attending New Year celebrations have a good time and arrive home safely. Here’s to an exciting 2013 for us all.

And finally, this sign made me smile, for obvious reasons. I wonder how many prank calls they’ve received since the twins were on the X-Factor?

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The final song to shuffle forward as I complete this posting is The Man with the Golden Gun by Lulu which is ironic really considering 2012 saw Skyfall, what is hailed to be the best ‘Bond’ movie ever, and as another year ebbs away, I’ve still not watched one.

Enjoy

Take care, see you all on the other side. Baz x

Monday, 24 December 2012

Gifts at Christmas

Monday 24 December 2012 – Well here we are, Christmas Eve, just one more day and we’ll all be opening lovingly wrapped gifts. No doubt there’ll be a few new pairs of socks and maybe the odd bottle of gin waiting for me in my pile of presents, not to mention that odd gift that for some reason seems to sneak in and leaves me wondering why anyone would consider giving me something so strange. I’ll refrain from pointing out what odd ones I’ve received in the past for fear of upsetting the gift giver, although I still have no idea why someone gave me a Polish phrase book.

I think as the years stack up, it becomes increasingly difficult to find interesting gifts for people. Young people and kids are so easy to buy for, but what do you get fifty-something's who already seem to have everything?

Last week however, I received a simple gift that was both personal and interesting. My friend Tim, handed out at our last Renegade Writers’ meeting the modern Timequivalent of the 80’s mix-tape. He put together a compilation of tracks on a CD of songs that he had discovered and listened to throughout 2012. Obviously a CD cannot contain all the tracks listened to in the year, but it does contain twenty-one hand-picked gems and an amusing photo-shopped cover.

Tim’s website which includes some of his writing and films can be found at the following link: Tim's Website

 

Speaking of interesting gifts, what do you give a sophisticated gay writer with OCD and pencil fetish issues?Cuffs

Answer: These amazing pencil cufflinks which I was given by my young, talented friend Josh.

For some of Josh’s musings take a look at his site here: Josh's Website

This will be my last posting this side of Christmas, I’ll be back around the beginning of January with my thoughts on 2012. Until then enjoy the festive season and stay safe.

Oh, and finally the song on shuffle as I type this entry is, Manners by Icona Pop.

Baz x

Friday, 21 December 2012

Contains Adult Theme and Sweary words

Thursday 20 December 2012 - You know you’ve reached the depths of despair when you’d be willing to give a trampy old bloke oral sex, just for a mouthful of White Lightning cider.

I make no apologies for today’s lewd opening, as I was shocked, nay flabbergasted when I had the following experience.

I was walking through the edge of town, on the periphery where the populace tends to be at its lowest ebb and the niceties of social intercourse are neglected. Where grass gives way to dog shit and shop-fronts have bars. I was walking along, iPod turned off and hidden in pocket. Well you can’t be too careful here, I feel like Will Smith in I Am Legend, furtively scouring the shadows for trouble, the only trouble is I don’t have a German Shepherd. (Which reminds me of a Dave Spikey joke)

Every morning this week when I’ve got up there’s been a German shepherd having a shit on my front lawn. Today the dirty bastard brought his dog.

But I digress. I was walking past a derelict bus shelter where there was four dishevelled men sitting, all of varying ages but the ravages of alcohol had given them all a wizened look. Two men drank from cans and an older man was drinking from a bottle of cheap white cider, when the younger of the group asked him for a swig. The conversation went something like this:

Man 1:Give us a swig.

Man 2: Fuck off.

Man 1: Come on you mean bastard.

Man 2: Fuck off

Man 1: I’d give you some if I had a bottle.

Man 2: If you want some, suck my cock.

Man 1: Fuck off.

Man 2: Then you can’t have any.

Man 3: You’re not going to make him do that again are you?

Man 2: If he wants a drink he’s got to earn it.

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I scuttled away for fear of seeing the desperate man earn his mouthful (no pun intended) of cheap cider.

On a lighter note, it looks like the Mayan’s got it wrong, 11.00 am passed without the annihilation of the world. I did wait before posting today’s piece, as I didn’t want you all to go into oblivion with the thought of a trampy old bloke getting oral relief bouncing around inside your head.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Everything Must Go!

Wednesday 19 December 2012 – It’s sad that so close to Christmas the electrical retailer Comet has gone into administration leaving its workers with nothing but a bleak outlook and a new year of benefits and form-filling.

I saw the adverts on TV urging people to act fast if they want to secure a bargain, so like so many others I popped to our local store. Outside was a huge yellow sign that read: Everything Must Go!!! – Yes it had three exclamation marks, a tad excessive I know, but who cares about grammar when there’s the possibility of getting a blu-ray player for peanuts?

We strolled through the doors and it wasn’t a case of everything must go, but, everything has gone. When I say everything, I kid you not, the shelves had gone, the tills had all gone, bar one and they were reduced to selling what was left of the shops interior..

On a display stand was a box of electric plugs, 20p for five. A box full of random remote controls, £3.00 for the lot and a box of the stores lever arch files, for sale for the princely sum of £4.00. I strolled over and the label's on the files’ spines read things like, Absence Records, Orders and Delivery Notes. I had to secretly get a snap of the box, and here it is, apologies for the poor quality. I had to be quick as security was watching.

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I’m just wondering who would want to purchase a box of files from an electrical retailer?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Surreptitious Sniffing

Tuesday 18 December 2012 – I am about to own up to doing something today that I have never done before. It’s an odd furtive thing and I urge you not to judge me too harshly. Today I was out shopping. It was a usual shopping trip that consisted of queuing for parking spaces, queuing at tills and queuing at ATM machines. It was whilst I was queuing at a till; my goods moving slowly down the conveyor belt towards the bored looking boy at the end, who’s name badge told me he was called Jamie, that I committed myself to this bizarre act of absurdity.

Just before my goods reached Jamie, a woman in a purple sweater passed me, there was nothing peculiar about the woman that made her stand out Chanel-Perfume_1292338857visually, but she smelled lovely – obviously a very expensive perfume had been liberally applied. I was captivated by the scent that wafted across my nostrils as she passed by, so I grabbed my items off the conveyor, which made Jamie look up disdainfully and followed the woman down the aisle. Every time she stopped, so did I, just hanging back enough not to look like a weirdo stalker. I was surreptitiously sniffing this exquisite scent as she carried on shopping, non-the-wiser.

As we turned a corner it suddenly struck me that what I was doing was odd and as I broke away and made my way back to the till and Jamie, my OH asked me what I’d been doing. The look of horror on his face said it all and Jamie looked up as a bloke with curly hair called another one with sticky-up hair a blood weird freak.7067

On the plus-side, when I got home the postman had delivered my new bottle of man spray: Narciso Rodriguez, so if you want to follow me and sniff at it please form an orderly queue.

 

Now for something more serious – later this evening, it was dark outside and the streets were deserted when a feeble knock came on my front-door. I opened the door and looked down at two very small, very young girls who held out an open sweet tin that contained coins. Two pairs of eyes gazed up at me, two mouths parted and they began to sing We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, etc. I gave my stock response – “Bugger off.” and closed the door. Then I thought, bloody hell anything could happen to the little mites, how irresponsible to allow two small children at this time of night to go knocking on strangers’ doors.

I mean anything could happen – they could run into a supermarket sniffing stalker or worse.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Conclusive Proof

Monday 17 December 2012 – I sit at my laptop as the iPod shuffles and Sylvester, the king, (or queen of disco, depending on how you remember Mr James) begins to belt out Over and Over. His falsetto fills my front-room-cum-office coupled with the talented backing vocals of Two Tons of Fun: who will later become known as the Weather Girls, so I’m happy.
At the weekend I spotted a couple of signs that caught my attention, the first one is conclusive proof that there is a problem locally. It’s not drugs – although last week we did see police officers dismantling a cannabis factory that had been set up in a nearby street. It’s not truancy – although during term time the streets here are still full of kids, and it’s not car crime – although around the corner from me there’s a lady who owns a tangerine coloured Fiat, and that is criminal.
The problem is the inability to spell Wednesday correctly. My previous blog posting: http://intheflatfieldidogetbored.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/belated-news-about-bert-and-box-of-fufu.html featured what I thought was just a random act of mid-week misspelling, however I’ve spotted yet another one, again in the guise of a publicly posted sign. CAM00013
Whilst I’m on the subject of signs and misspelling, I was walking past a building that houses a solicitors and legal claims company – you know the kind: Have you had an accident that wasn’t your fault, and do you want to sue somebody for an inordinate amount of money, of which we shall claw back at least twelve per cent in commission?
I spotted this grammatical error in their range of services advertised in the front window of their office. Needless to say, it wouldn’t fill me with confidence should I ever need to sue my neighbour for leaving out an old stair-rod which I inadvertently  tripped over.
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I think I’ll go elsewhere should I have an accident.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Did I Just Say That Out Loud?

Wednesday12 December 2012 – You know when you’re distracted and a thought pops into your head, and you have that feeling that it wasn’t an internal comment but a verbal one, well that happened to me this evening.

On my way to my Wednesday writing group meeting, I stopped off at a cash machine in town. I was standing behind a small queue and as usual my iPod was playing. Morrissey was singing I Knew I Was Next, from the Swords album. A sort of off-cuts collection of tracks that never made the final cuts of studio albums.

Anyway I’m standing waiting my turn when the man at the front of the line completes his transaction and turns to leave. He’s about five-feet eleven, slender with a mop of dark hair. He’s dressed in a fitted checked jacket twinned with a pair of black skinny-jeans. As he starts to walk away, I think to myself,F*** me, he’s fit.

He falters and looks directly at me, as do several others in the queue and I think - internally this time. Oops, did I just say that out loud?

Morrissey

Mind you, when you think about it, back in the day, Morrissey was a bit fit too.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Never To Be Repeated Revelation

Tuesday 04 December 2012 – Today, I did something that is out of character. Something that’s just alien to me. Something that anyone close to me would know is so at odds with my make-up that they’d be shocked.

So what did I do, I didn’t commit a heinous crime. I wasn’t responsible for the hacking of a government mainframe and I didn’t swear my unwavering  allegiance to an African despot… Worse.

I wore a pair of trainers – Worse? I hear you say.

Okay so it’s not in the same league as the recent Jimmy Saville revelations. And I’m well aware that It’s nowhere near as bad as the televised, live episode of TOWIE or even as hard to swallow as the possibility that Jahmene Douglas the singing shelf stacker may win the X-Factor.

But, trainers are just not me. I’m a proper boot or shoe kind-of-guy, leaving the afore mentioned footwear to hip-hop artistes, athletes and burglars. So alien is the thought that I’d wear these, is no more a revelation to many than, that Christopher Maloney loves his nan.

Luckily, I’d only slipped them on to pop to the shop, just five-hundred or so yards away, so no real credibility damage has been sustained – that said, the lad three doors away who is always dressed in a tiger onesy did say hello as I walked back home. I just smiled and turned the volume up on my iPod and as Stooshe sang ‘Black Heart’ I shuffled away, hoping he didn’t notice what I had on my feet.
Stooshe–Black Heart

Monday, 3 December 2012

Belated News about Bert and a Box of Fufu

Monday 03 December 2012 – Okay, so I’ve been away for a while due to work commitments and the need to concentrate on my novel ‘52’, but today, so far has been so eventful I can’t help but share it with you all.

The first event occurred whilst I was walking past the local church. I was nipping into town to post some Christmas cards to friends in Italy and buy some of the incredible tasty naan breads that Abdul sells. As I walked past the church, which is on a main thoroughfare, I spotted an elderly gentleman, he sort of popped up from nowhere, and proceeded to undo his flies and pee up a tree. He was in full view of the passing traffic and myself, and suffice to say nothing was left hidden. A passing car horn honked, he waved then turned to me and said, “I was bostin’ for a pee.”

So I stood in a queue that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an Italian post office, endless elderly people had flocked with cards to withdraw their pension, and all I wanted was an airmail sticker, postage to Abruzzo and five second class stamps. This wait however gave me the perfect opportunity to do some people watching. A woman not far away spotted someone she knew and waved and said hello. Her friend asked how she was, she told her she was well, apart from some problems with her feet -  she didn’t go into detail. The friend then said, “I haven’t seen your Bert for a while.” her friend replied, “You wouldn’t, he’s been dead twelve years.”

“Oh,” was the reply, “Pointless asking how he is then?”

After purchasing my stamps and paying overseas postage costs, I’m walking back when I see a board outside the pub advertising something, on closer inspection I 100_5358noticed that they do midweek bingo at a reasonable price, sadly I cannot find this day on my calendar – or does Wednesday now have a new spelling?

 

I decided that today would be a good day to use up yesterdays roast chicken left-overs and so popped into get some ingredients for a curry from Abduls. His supermarket is an olfactory spectacle, the aroma of spice permeates the air, and there’s always some funky smell around the section where strange looking vegetables lurk. I’m Fufu-Plantainwandering around, when I spot a product that makes me smile, it’s the name… and I’m aware it’s a tad immature but this product brought a smile to my face today… When I was growing up, I know what I was told a Fufu was, and it wasn’t flour.

So I’ll sign off from this, my first blog post in many months, and tell you that the tune that’s just shuffled to the fore is a Radio Shack Hi-Energy classic by Barbara Pennington called, ‘On a Crowded Street’… If you close your eyes, you can almost smell the mix of leather, poppers and Breaker.

Friday, 1 June 2012

It’s not the end, well it is, but maybe not

Friday 01 June 2012 – I have decided that looking after this blog is taking up too much of the time I could be using to send proposals out to editors, research new non-fiction features and finally editing Willow and the Motorway Horses.

So this will be my last post in A Life on Shuffle.

I’m not saying it is the end of my nonsense, random ramblings blog, and maybe one day It’ll be revived. (If it is I’ll make sure you know about it)

It’s been great compiling the posts, but I really need to use the energy in better ways.

Please feel free to look at my professional freelance blog at Freelance

Thanks to everyone who has logged in over the past few years.

I’ll leave you with a photo I took last year in Lanciano, a lovely town near us in Italy.

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For those interested, the song on shuffle as I write this last update is L’inverno all’improvviso by Nina Zilli.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Get Rid Of Your – What?

Thursday 31 May 2012 – Today is the day I get rid of my OH for a week as he’s off house and dog-sitting for friends. This will give me the opportunity to get some time to get some work done without interruption, and more space in the king size at night.

A few months ago I spotted a sign in town, and never been without may camera took this shot of it.

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Obviously, what the original banner was claiming you could get rid of has faded with time, and I wondered what I, or you for that matter may insert into the now vacant space between ‘your’ and ‘free’. So here’s a few ideas of mine. Do feel free to add your ideas in the comments box below.

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Or for those among you that have a mercenary bent:

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Here’s one for my writer friends:

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Place in the Spam

Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Today I rose, turned on the iPod and allowed Antony and the Johnson’s to welcome my day in with, ‘Paddy’s Gone’. I had my breakfast; toast with one of Jan’s wonderful eggs – When I say Jan’s, I mean from her chickens, I’m sure there’d be laws about harvesting human eggs for breakfast, not to mention it possibly being an invasive activity.

Talking about invasive activity; as we move ever forward in a digital world, there’s one thing that is the scourge of electronic communication, spam. Now you’d have to either have been sat on a rock just off the coast of Madagascar for the last fifteen years, or my dad, to think I’m referring to the tinned pork shoulder and ham. (It’s name by the way is a portmanteau: meaning a combination of two or spamRegmore words to make another, in this case, (sp)iced + ham = spam). Random fact over.

A few months ago I went to the NEC, for the overseas property fair organised by the magazine and production company, A Place in the Sun. A friend has an estate agency over in Italy and he sent me some free tickets. Being always on the look out for anything that may make an interesting magazine feature, I accepted the tickets graciously.

The day of the fair arrived, and with camera, notebook, pencil (steadtler of course) and tickets I drove down the M6; passing Willow and her chums, (sorry that’s an in-joke for those in the know), and made my way to the NEC. We navigated the car parks, paid a fiver for parking and went to spend the day collecting brochures, grabbing anything that was free and paying over the odds for food and beverages.

Before we could enter the halls we had to fill in a form and give an e-mail address, now I hear you all say, (well some of you, the unkind ones.) Smile “Idiot, you should have made up a fake one. You’ve only yourself to blame. Blah, blah, blah, etc.”

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Well, the fact of the matter was I thought, I’ll maybe find something of interest in the occasional newsletter, and maybe there’ll be an opportunity to sell them a feature in the future. The sad fact of the matter is that they have since my visit bombarded me with e-mails, every day. Now when I wake I no longer look forward to a place in the sun, I go straight to my spam folder and press delete.

Oh how soon the dream can sour.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Tent in the Trees.

Tuesday 29 May 2012 – The weather of late has been quite nice, this tends to lend itself to more physical activity, and time away from the laptop.

Lately I’ve been walking on the fringes of town, where the urban sprawl gives way to rough unkempt land; most of which was once commercial, but is now being reclaimed by nature. Isn’t good how the green seeps in slowly to envelop the broken glass of humanity.

On one such trek I was came across a tent in the trees, a reasonably new and expensive looking one. It was a long way from town, and there was signs of a fire with empty cans and bottles scattered around; evidence of life.

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I whipped out my camera and took a quick snap, thinking who would be living in the trees so far from other people?

I came up with the following assumptions:

Someone on the run.

Someone homeless, but with the funds to purchase a tent.

Someone who didn’t want to be found.

I heard a twig behind me snap, so I put away my camera, popped the ear-buds in and strolled away as my iPod shuffled and Gary Numan played ‘Beserker’.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Trips on the Dream Express

Monday 28 May 2012 – Well the Eurovision is over for another year, but I’m still in cheesy camp music mode. Having downloaded the tracks I liked, they’re on the iPod on repeat. You cannot beat lyrics like – ‘this trumpet makes you mine, girl’.

This trumpet makes you mine, girl

I know I’ve been away from, A Life on Shuffle lately, this is because I’ve been working and also trying desperately not to lose my Italian language skills: it’s amazing how much seeps into obscurity when you’re not using it on a daily basis.

Just lately I’ve been having quite vivid dreams at night, usually they are short and I wake thinking, what the f… But it’s like I’ve purchased a ticket and climbed aboard the dream express. I’m having lots of mini movies playing in my head.

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In one I was in a hot air balloon with Alan Halsall, (Tyrone from Corrie). In another I was sitting in a hole with a polar bear and oddly in another I was pasting €500 notes onto a wall.

I have been having one recurring one each night; usually before I wake at 06.30. (oh my, I’ve become a creature of habit). In this one I’m in a semi derelict house in Italy, and there’s a room I must get to. Every time I try to get to this room a (demonic) force wraps cord around me and swings me around. The odd thing is I have the opportunity to escape, but keep trying to get into the room, and end up tangled up and being almost hanged.

The worst part of the dream is, as soon as I manage to get to the door, I wake up.

Ah well, maybe tonight I’ll discover what’s behind that door.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Eurovision 2012

For those who have been reading my blog for the past few years will have noticed my Eurovision reviews and predictions. However this year I didn’t have time to look at all the entries and write reviews prior to the competition. So I wrote this review as I watched the competition live last night, and have attempted to keep my comments as short as possible.

Last night’s show seemed to be a Euro-tribute to David Guetta, there were a handful of songs, including the winning entry by Sweden, that wouldn’t look out of place on a Guetta album – thankfully as the bass boomed, Kelly Rowland didn’t show up.

Eurovision Song Contest 2012 logo poster

So here’s my review of last nights show:

United Kingdom: Boring.

Hungary: Upbeat but forgetful.

Albania: The Marmite song. (I love it though, the song, not Marmite).

Lithuania: Lost in the 1980’s

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Homage to a L'Oreal advert, great hair poor song.

Russia: Fun song, but won’t win. Boom boom lyrics.

Iceland: Gaelic sounding and melodramatic.

Cyprus: Lady-Boys do Beyoncé dance moves.

France: Oh do stop wittering on.

Italy: My favourite love it. another song with boom boom lyrics.

Estonia: Passionate but with dancing eyebrows.

Norway: If a song could be a million clichés this would be it.

Azerbaijan: Nice voice but no substance.

Romania: Have never won, I can see why.

Denmark: As interesting as cottage cheese.

Greece: Sexy fun song. (I always like the Greek entries.)

Sweden: Pure theatre; Patti Smith/Guetta amalgam. Winner written all over it.

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Turkey: Borat has stolen the hotel bed sheets.

Spain: Great pipes on the singer, as usual dull song.

Germany: Didn’t hear the song as was transfixed by tattoo on chest.

Malta: Wobbly vocals and pronunciation, liked the line ‘I’m into (you) Hugh’. They’ve obviously watched too many Olly Murs videos; hence the Olly dancing and vocals that go eh eh eh eh eh eh eh.

FYR Macedonia: Love child of Jodie Marsh and Carla Connor (Corrie) rocks out.

Ireland: Bored with the twins now, please get your hair cut and work in Tesco.

Serbia: First impression of singer is a bloke that arrives to plaster your extension. Song is as interesting as watching jelly set.

Ukraine: Why is X-Factor runner up Rebecca Ferguson singing with a wreath on her head?

Moldova: His fourth attempt, do they only have one singer in the country? Love this one, fun with a capital F.

So there it is, my run down of last nights contest. The finance minister in Greece has woken up without a sweat on for the first day in ages, Italy will be cursing, Albania will be happy, and the Hump will be packing his case and heading back to Leicester Angeles later.

People applaud during the Second Semi-Final of the Eurovision 2012 song contest in the Azerbaijan's capital Baku

Friday, 11 May 2012

Who Has All of these Ailments?

Friday 11 May 2012 - Yesterday during an evenings television viewing there were five commercials that advertised remedies for mouth ulcers, warts and verruca's. Now I remember a kid having a wart in school, but have no recollection of ever having, or ever knowing anyone who has had a verruca. I also haven’t known of anyone having a mouth ulcer for many years. So who has all of these ailments and are they so prolific to warrant so many repeats of these adverts?

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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lost in Translation–it should be

Thursday 10 May 2012 – Language is a wonderful thing, words can start wars and bring peace. The art of communication is a wonderful thing, whether it’s between humans using phrases and carefully structured sentences, or honey bees, dancing to let workers know where there’s a good patch of pollen rich flowers. It is believed that Geese have a vocabulary of thirteen sounds that enable them to communicate with each other; Hyena have recently been discovered to have a complex language that scientists are only just beginning to decipher.

(Hyena are not related to the dog genus as many people think, but are actually related to meerkats – Now there’s a whole new advertising spin off for a clever marketing whizz-kid).

But there are times when language can let us down, we’ve all heard of phrases that once literally translated become humourous: When Coca-Cola was translated for the Chinese market it became, ‘female horse stuffed with wax’; no wonder they needed a quick name change to get sales moving.

Sometimes mistranslation may say what we’re really thinking. Madonna’s, 1992 famous coffee table entitled ‘Sex’ suffered in translation when it was published in Hungary, and once printed was newly titled, ‘Slut’.

But there’s a book on the market that has caught my eye, it’s by a well renowned Thai cook, and it uses her name very clearly, and I’m not sure there’s an English equivalent that would make this publication more appealing. It’s called – well here’s the cover of the book, so you can see for yourselves.

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Ci vediamo domani

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Lemon Drop Song……I Give Up

Wednesday 9 May 2012 - Sometimes I despair when it comes to my other half. Occasionally he says something that has me laughing like a train. Sometimes he imparts a nugget of information that intrigues me. However, more often than not, I’m privy to the minutiae of his day; so I have adopted the practice of looking as if I’m listening when I’m actually doing something much more interesting like algebra or long division.

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Yesterday though we’re watching TV when he says; and this is an actual conversation. “Who sang the lemon drop song?”

“The lemon drop song?” I replied.

“Was it, Barbra Streisand?”

“I don’t know any lemon drop song?”

“You know the one, lemon drop, da da da da da da da da.”

“I’m sorry, but you’ve got me there.” I’m now beginning the lose the will to live.

“I know, “ he says with a flourish. “It was Bette Midler, wasn’t it?”

“I don’t know, I’ve never heard of the lemon drop song!” 

He thinks for a while, with eyes screwed up and a forehead with more furrows than Lincolnshire field full of cabbages. “It goes - troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops.”

“You plank. It’s not the lemon drop song, it’s Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

“Oh yeah, Liza Minnelli.”

I give up.

Rainbow

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Pointless Piles and Cat Confection

Tuesday 8 May 2012 - Today I began sorting through some boxes that had been packed up months ago. These boxes contain odds and ends that I felt I could live without until I was finally settled in Italy. So as Earth, Wind and Fire play ‘Magic Wind’, I sift through books, trinkets and random electronic items. I have a pile of items I call, ‘didn’t miss these’ – these items are destined for the charity shop; there’s also the ‘want these’ pile – items here will go back into the box and finally there’s the ‘forgot I had these’ pile.

100_5163I crack open a beer and sit on the floor sorting through everything, however the beer makes me start to chill out, the iPod shuffles and Billie Holiday sings, ‘Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer’. The only problem now is; I can’t be arsed to do anything with the piles and everything gets packed away again; with me sighing and saying, “I’ll sort it out in Italy.” Looks like there could be a big bonfire in Guarenna in the future.

I find yobbish behaviour and criminal damage abhorrent; however today I did see an act of vandalism that made me smile. I was walking across a car park when I spotted a red Mini; it had self adhesive strip of lettering across the top of the windscreen. The original lettering would have read, ‘Mini’s and Oatcakes’: Oatcakes being a North Staffordshire delicacy – go Google for more information. Someone had obviously taken the edge of a coin to the self adhesive letters and the strip now read, ’Mini’s and Catcakes’.

I typed catcake into Google, and this is what came up:

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Data Protection and the Pastry Brush

Monday 7 May 2012 - I received a telephone call yesterday from a large corporation, they were calling in the hope of selling me something. Usually I have no time for cold calls, today though I had a shock. The girl at first addressed me by my full name, and asked if she could check some details of my account. I responded by giving her a solitary, ‘Yes.’

The girl speaking to me then went on to read out my address and postcode, my telephone number and also my e-mail address. Shocked I said nothing and she then said, can I confirm that you have just set up a new direct debit agreement and your bank account and sort code is………………………. She actually read this information out….. So much for data protection.

I stopped her and pointed out that I could be anyone, she said, “Why would you be someone else, this is your phone number isn’t it?” I point out that she hasn’t bothered to do any security checks to confirm my identity; at this point she starts to go through security……Pointless now, so I asked for her name and department and she then told me “I’m sorry sir, but I’m not at liberty to give you that information, as I’ve no guarantee that you are who you say you are.

Needless to say, this is one company that has received short shrift from me and cancellation of my custom.

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Lately I’ve been a bit of a domestic goblin and noticed, that as most of my kitchen equipment now resides in Italy, that I was lacking in the pastry brush department. So I head off into town to purchase one in the local shops. Several shops later, and no luck, I head into the last place that may house the object of my search. I search through the kitchenware department, but to no avail. I ask the shop assistant, who looks a tad nonplussed by my request; after a few minutes of thought she says, “No one ‘round here bothers with ‘em, they just go (to) the pie shop.”…………. Class!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Voice Verdict

Sunday 29 April 2012 – I don’t blog at the weekend usually, but as I’ve not done a review blog for a while, I thought I’d review the first live show from the BBC show - The Voice. Televised last night, this review is my opinion and others may not agree; also I am not here just to be mean to the contestants, I just give my first impression, and hope others enjoy my critique.

the-voice1So here’s how it works, each team has five contestants, they sing (hopefully) and the public vote. Three will be safe, and the two with the lowest scores are put before their judge who chooses who stays.

The show opens with a performance by the four judges, it’s a lacklustre rendition of ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2; the staging is haphazard, the judges look like four punters in a karaoke bar, not knowing where to stand, or where their audience are sitting. Danny O’Donoghue leaps around like a kid with ADHD, who’s dose of Ritalin has worn off, and Will.i.am looks lost. The song is wrong, it sounds disjointed and just does not work, a poor start to the first live show. The only thing that makes me smile is Danny’s, back to school haircut. No doubt it won’t be long before we hear Will.i.am say, ‘dope’, his I’m down with the ‘yoot’ standard. Come on man, you’re thirty seven, get a grip.

So the contestants take to the stage:

joelle-moses1. Joele - The show opens with a song by Mary J. Blige, sadly it’s delivered in a random fashion, losing the melody in places and lacking in any real personality. Shame really as Joele gives the impression she can sing well.

2. Sam – Oh dear, he appears looking like a small planet that’s sam-butterybeen dressed by Marilyn Manson; what’s with the skulls. Sam comes over as the male equivalent of Beth Ditto (The Gossip) in oversized spectacles. His performance is flat at the start and pitchy throughout and the dreadful final note must have set the nation’s dogs teeth on edge. The judges heap undeserved praise making me wonder if they were watching the same performance. Jessie J, criticises the use of dancers, saying they distract from the singing. Thank goodness, for the distraction.

3. Frances – After a nasally start the girl is dwarfed by the backing track, and thefrances-wood constant BV’s mean we don’t get to hear her. Sadly Frances has a thin voice and no amount of guttural growling will beef it up. After her performance Holly (Willoughby) says, “You risk taker, you walked down the stairs.” Come on she’s eighteen years of age not eighteen months, I’m sure she mastered the art of walking long ago. I did like how at the end Frances ‘bigged’ up her mentor Will.i.am saying,-- “ He can even sing.” Oops.

4. Adam – looking like Russell Howard’s younger brother adam-isaacand sporting a guitar, Adam gives an impressive performance, okay he’s hardly Joe Strummer, but he gives a confident performance, and I’m sure girlies up and down the UK are squirming with glee.He looks comfortable on stage and dare I say it – looks like a pop star. Sadly though he suffers from, ‘The Beckham Effect’, nice to look at but shouldn’t talk. Sadly he comes over rather beige when he speaks and has me shouting, SHUT UP! at the TV.

5. Jaz – Wearing a trilby at a jaunty angle making him look like he’s just stepped off42bcdc514f9cd8b78a42eb2534c0dfea348a8777-Jaz-Ellington-At-Last-The-Voice-UK-Live-Show-1 the set of a St. Trinian’s movie he delivers a competent performance. He throws in a few tricks, using ten notes when one would have done, but there’s nothing special about this performance. Since his first appearance on the show, he’s gathered a multitude of verbal accolades from the press; however, only Danny tells it like it is tonight, calling it, middle of the road. A good voice wasted tonight.

6. Leanne – I can’t look at Leanne without thinking she’s a grown up Tracy Beaker. The-Voice-2012-Leanne-Mit-008Looking fabulous in black and white, she has a confident start that builds to a powerhouse performance. At last someone who can sing a song by P!nk and lose the original faux angst and put some class into it. She looks confident on stage and despite not really looking like a pop star, in comparison to today's manufactured industry, she’s a breath of fresh air, ending her spot with the Empire State of high notes.

7. Sophie – The youngest contestant gives a ‘Cathedral City’ performance; strongsophie-griffin1 and mature. With an accomplished falsetto she switches from chest to head voice with ease, however the BV’s are a tad off-putting.My only criticism is the way she looks; she’s just turned eighteen, and needs a style that reflects her age, tonight she’d not look out of place in a working man’s club back in the 1970’s.

Talking of clothes, it’s nice to see Holly in a dress befitting her years, so much better than the over stuffed, banger shelves she wore on Dancing on Ice. And just a quick point, I notice Will.i.am has his name across the back of all of his outfits, including over his logo over the left breast, is it because he has a tendency to forget his own name?

8. Matt & Sueleen – the only duo in the competition, a couple in a long term the-voice-matt-fletcher-sueleen-2relationship that say they’ve progressed to separate bedrooms. Considering this show is about the voice and not appearance, it’s odd that the BBC, allegedly asked Matt to shave off his beard before the live show. Looking like a ‘Hairy Biker’ and a geisha, this couple look like they’ve been styled by two different people. Their separate bedroom situation is apparent in their performance, they just didn’t come together as a unit tonight. It looked a little bit like a haphazard Japanese tea ceremony. To be frank, I cannot see where these two would fit into today’s music industry; it was a bit ‘Opportunity Knocks’.

9. Tyler – For goodness sake stop harping on about your friendship with Amy Winehouse. With a quiff of epic proportions, I worry that if a rogue gust of wind tyler-jamescaught it he’d look like Jedward’s older brother. Dreadful styling once again, his trousers are too short and his skinny ankle unappealing. He has a pleasing voice, but there’s nothing original about it. He looks the most experienced in the backstage clips, but needs to rethink his look. The arched eyebrows and mini Catweasle beard, mean than when he screws his eyes up to hit the falsetto, he looks like a constipated goat. Notwithstanding the obligatory round of mutual arse licking, once the performance was over, it was forgotten I’m afraid.

10. Ruth – Just a couple of points; could someone please take that metal out of her face and stop talking about her father dying two weeks prior to her first appearance, she does not need the sympathy vote. Dressed in the dark? Wearing what looks like a lemon coloured lampshade, she gives the evening’s best performance. She has a voice like a bottle of vintage, Barolo; dark, rich and heady.

The-Voice-live-show-1-Ruth-Brown

The phrase ‘leaving the best till last’ couldn’t be more appropriate, using just enough licks and tricks she effortlessly sails through her version of Oleta Adams’ ‘Get Here’, and the audience agree, she gets a standing ovation and the applause just keep coming – how much of the ‘green eyed monster’ was there backstage in the aptly named ‘green room’ at this point, I wonder.

So here’s my prediction for the outcome of this episode:

The two lowest voted for performers in Sir Tom’s team will be:

Sam and Matt & Sueleen.

The two lowest voted for performers in Will.i.am’s team will be:

Sophie and Frances.

The two to leave IMO will be: Frances and Matt & Sueleen.

I’ll tune in tonight to see if I’m right.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Too busy…..

Saturday 28 April 2012 -  I’ve had a few people ask why there was no blog posts last week. The reason is, at the moment I’m snowed under with writing work, and although at times it’s easier to sit and surf the net and interact with Facebook, I really must knuckle down and get this work done.

A Life on Shuffle, will return in a week or so, until then I’ll leave you with another spelling mistake I spotted, this one on a mass-produced aerosol product – you’d think they’d know better.

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Friday, 20 April 2012

Is it a Solitary Life?

Friday 20 April 2012 – Goodness me I can’t believe we’re twenty days into April already. We’ve all heard people say that as we get older, time passes by quicker. Perhaps it’s true; mine seems to slip by at an alarming rate, and today as if to prove this, my iPod is playing mostly songs from the eighties. I’ve lost track of how many, Stock, Aitken and Waterman, sampled and pop pulverised tracks have been blurted out this morning. At the moment Donna Summer is playing ‘When Love Takes Over You’.

As usual I’m sat at my desk writing. and having my morning espresso before I tackle the word count for the day. Unlike some writers’, I don’t  have a set amount 100_5064of words I feel the need to achieve daily, yesterday I was happy with 2,155 and the day before just 853. (this posting has 423).

The life of a writer can be a solitary one. Some need total silence and no outside stimulation to perfect their craft: I once chatted to an author from Andalucía who moved her desk away from the window, so it faced a blank wall. She told me the view, although beautiful, was so distracting that she couldn’t focus.

I also know two writer’s that share the same space; both work alone on separate projects, but bounce ideas off each other during the day, and don’t seem to find the sharing of a workspace off-putting.

For me I have music playing, okay it’s at a discrete volume so as not to invade my thought process too much. I have spoken about this with other writers’ all of whom said they’d be unable to concentrate. For me it’s the opposite, I find silence crushing; almost physical. I do however edit without any music playing.

As I mostly write non-fiction for magazines, and therefore spend a lot of time doing research, so a musical backdrop can enhance a somewhat dull few hours of web browsing. I guess whatever job we do, we all have our personal preferences when it comes to our work space. I guess I just like to share mine with Kate Bush, John Lydon, Toyah Willcox, Tiziano Ferro, Jessie J, Peter Murphy et al.

So with the weekend approaching, and No Doubt shuffling with ‘Waiting Room’, to break the eighties cycle I’ll leave you with another photograph, I spotted this sign in a restaurant window, and had to question the use of the uppercase D and R.

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Have a good weekend, see you next week.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Nothing Ventured

Thursday 19 April 2012 – I’m sitting listening to music before my day at the laptop begins; it shuffles and Giusy Ferreri sings Rossi Papaveri; I love her husky voice it’s so full of character, and a change from the auto-tuned, computer enhanced singers of the British/American mainstream music scene.

Outside I can hear some raised voices, so being a nosey scrote, I open my front door and take a look. A man has just reversed out of the alley between two houses further up the street. Oops! his brand new Mercedes van has two deep, long scratches down the side. It appears he thought he could cut through to the next street; rather than take the thirty second trip to the top and turn left, then right. The opening of the alley is wide enough for a van, however the alley gets narrower and sharply turns left. I guess he thought, ‘nothing ventured…’

Those of you who were here a week ago, will have read about my experience, with 100_5153a pie in a tin. Well I was walking through a shop and spotted something else that I’ve seen many times, but never had the opportunity to try.

Despite having reservations, I thought the offer of ‘3 for a £1’ merited trying the item:

The instructions were pretty straightforward; well actually, a single cell organism could prepare this. I open the tin, saying to myself, “This must be good, it’s been on sale for years, so people must buy it.” – Am I trying too hard to convince myself?

The flavour says it’s cheese and ham, and it looks like something that has passed through the digestive tract of a baby with radiation sickness. There’s an odd synthetic aroma of  brined pork about it too, but does this stop me – No.

It’s spread upon the toast, heated under the grill and removed. Again I’m trying to convince myself, “Maybe it’ll taste better than it looks.” Sadly no, it tastes exactly as it looks.

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The iPod shuffles and the B-52’s start to play ‘Tell it like it-T-I-IS’.

So I will – It was shite Thumbs down