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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.

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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 Andaluc√≠a 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

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Offal

Wednesday 18 April 2012 - The other day I was standing at the butchers counter buying some pork chops, I asked the man  if he had any kidneys and the woman next to me wrinkled her nose, then said, “Ooh, I couldn’t eat those.” The butcher then responded by saying, “You don’t know what your missing; love.” (I did like the added patronising tag.) She then baulked at my request for liver too, saying “I’d never eat that”. - You should have seen her face when I asked for some black pudding; adding that I liked a bit of blood sausage.

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According to statistics, due to the current economic climate more people are enjoying offal again, with butchers takings going up with the sale of items that our grandparents would have been buying. Sadly the sale of offal declined in the 1970’s. I’ve always been partial to those things other kids turned their noses up at; I think I was the only kid in our school that looked forward to having liver on the lunch menu.

I recently read an article that claimed that over 80% of children have no concept of where the meat they eat comes from. Researchers believe that because they see it ready packaged, they have no concept of it once being a living creature. I think this may be in part correct, yes I can understand that kids see a sirloin steak on a supermarket shelf and don’t equate it with a cow, but surely they’re not as dim as the boffins think. I challenge anyone to suggest that kids are not aware that chicken nuggets derive from chickens; the clue is in the name.

The one thing about chicken nuggets that makes me smile is, despite it mostly being machine separated meat, it also contains offal meaning all those nose wrinkler's out there are getting their liver after all.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Tuesday 17 April 2012 – I’ve never really been too worried about people getting too close to me; in fact I’m quite a touchy-feely sort of person, so don’t really bother. Over the past few days however, I had the misfortune of understanding what is actually meant by, ‘Personal Space’.

Don’t Stand So Close

I was standing at the till in my local supermarket, my shopping is travelling slowly down the conveyor belt towards the cashier; when a girl; deep in conversation with her friend loads her items and stands behind me. When I say stands behind me, she’s actually touching me. I step forward, and so does she. I politely ask if she can move back, and she looks at me incredulously. “Why?” she says, completely unaware of my reason for asking her to move away. So I just turn away and step forward, she’s still yakking to her mate and unconsciously steps forward. I’m very tempted to say something rude like, “I usually ask for a glass of wine and maybe dinner before I allow someone up my arse.” But think better of it, so I pay and leave.

I suffer a further incident the following day, again in a shop. This time a woman leans on my shoulder using me for support, as she reaches around me to take something from the shelf.

Where will it end, will I be sharing my under-crackers with the man across the street whilst having his wife insert her arm in the left sleeve of my jacket. NO!

It’s my space – so do one.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Did he really say that?

Monday 16 April 2012 – It’s Saturday morning as I write this in preparation for Monday. I rose relatively early; must have had something to do with the fact I went to bed on the previous evening at 10.30, okay I read for a while, but it was still a tad early for me. (But you don’t need to know about my nocturnal habits – or do you?) Well actually I had a message from a follower in NY, who asked why I haven’t mentioned what music was shuffled on my iPod lately. So here’s what’s playing as I write this: ‘Small Town Psychopath’ by The Humans from their fantastic 2011 album, Sugar Rush.

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The Humans Official Website

I think my blog being called A Life on Shuffle can also apply to the various things that I blog about, no one can accuse me of consistency regarding topics.

Being a writer means I like words, that’s obviously a given. Sometimes though I feel because writers’ use words to earn a living, they do tend to hear sentences in a different way. I don’t mean they hear what’s been said in a different dialect or tongue; that’d be a stupid claim to make. What I’m trying to say in my hock-handed way,(did you see what I did there?), is writers’ maybe hear a sentence and they are instantly drawn to something there that others may miss.

An example of what I’m saying is this:

On the local evening news there was a discussion about the proposed election for a mayor of Birmingham. In the debate it was questioned whether politicians sitting in the house of commons should put themselves forward for the position. The news reader then innocently said: “Should sitting MP’s be able to stand?” I just liked the idea of all these men in suits sitting down, then unison standing up.

Another interesting sentence on the news caught my attention on Saturday morning. It was during the newspaper round up; you know, when the presenters have a guest on and they talk about what’s in the daily tabloids. During this segment of the show (BBC1), a guest (respected writer/presenter, who will remain nameless) was delving into the papers and giving his opinions. He started to talk about a news-feature about how men are unable to compliment their wives for fear of upsetting them. Now the content of the newspaper is of no real importance here, it was what he said, live on TV. When asked if he was fearful of complimenting his wife he said, “I’ve now been living for 35 years with my first wife and am still unable to get it right.”

I bet his missus is happy about being referred to as first wife; I wonder was it a Freudian slip or a cryptic missive to someone he’s been seeing on the side. Either way, I bet he’ll be spending the next few days grovelling.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Public Art

Friday 13 April 2012 – Whether we like it or not public art is out there, either the ludicrously expensive, waste of money types paid for with tax-payers money, or the  rebellious tags and aerosol images of disaffected youth. There’s also innocuous shop fronts that have the ability to become more than a point of sale and emerge as a pleasing high street installations.

However there is also some pieces of public art, that are just plain rubbish – okay I know out there someone is gnashing their teeth, and shouting at the laptop screen about art being subjective. Well all I can say is – This is my blog so I can say what’s shit and what’s not.

PrivilegeHere is Stoke on Trent we have our fair share, one of which is the Privilege statue at Etruria, in my opinion the most unsightly piece of aluminium ever erected. I understand it’s supposed to represent the steel and pottery industry; (obsolete now), it’s there to symbolise growth; (you’re having a laugh) and the national garden festival; (years ago and forgotten by many).

We’ve a few aluminium statues around the city, which leads me to believe that someone must have had a job lot going cheap. We do however have what must be the most 100_5042grotesque piece of public art in the country. Words fail me every time I pass this monstrosity, but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind: It’s made up of elements of the ceramics industry, however should we be visited by another life-form, they’d take one look at this and say, no wonder the potteries lost their ceramics heritage, if this is the best pot they could come up with.

But as art is subjective sometimes pleasure can come from the most unexpected places. Here’s a piece of advertising coupled with the interaction of a passing individual, it may not be a Damien Hirst, but it made me laugh. IMGA0389

IMGA0364But not all public art is abstract or aluminium, we’ve a fabulous piece of ceramic art that pays homage to one of the city’s great men, Reginald J. Mitchell. CBE,(1895 – 1937) – designer of the world famous Supermarine Spitfire. Sadly he died at the young age of just 42.

But what about art the isn’t intentional art? Well, take a quick look around any high street and you’ll uncover it lurking, minding its own business, unaware of it aesthetic persona. It’s surprising how pleasing theIMGA0401 frontage of a pie and pasty shop can be, and how it plays homage to the Bauhaus arts movement with even knowing it.

There’s also public art that looks worryingly sinister, I came across these hoardings that are protecting cleared land from invasion by travellers. I’m sure they’re not meant to look like a piece of pre-war German propaganda, but they do to me.

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Finally before I leave you with a photo album of other pieces of artwork in the city,P08-10-10_11.26[02] please let me share with you my favourite public art, it stands beside the A50 on the way to Uttoxeter, it symbolises the pottery industry perfectly; shaped like bottle-ovens it’s a poignant reminder of how the city of Stoke on Trent became one of the most important ceramic producers in the world.

Have a good weekend everyone, and if you’re out and about take notice of all those installations out there, and maybe look for those potential masterpieces that you’ve overlooked before.

 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

After all, we’re civilised aren’t we?

Thursday 12 April 2012 – I’m always up for justice being done, when someone commits a crime I’m a firm believer that given the proof justice must prevail. After all, we’re civilised; aren’t we? The news recently has been full of the ruling by the ECHR in Strasbourg to extradite to the U.S. people suspected of being involved with terrorism. One of these people being the outspoken cleric Abu Hamza; who has publicly vilified England and its people, so I guess there won’t be too many people here that will be sorry to see him leave for his incarceration in a U.S. prison.

We’ve all heard about people in other countries being taken against their will and being locked up for crimes they did not commit. Innocent people like Hana Shalabi, whose only crime is to be a Palestinian;  we sigh, sad isn’t it, and then give thanks that we live in an enlightened society where this could never happen. – Or can it?

One of the men named in the extradition press frenzy is, British Citizen, Babar Ahmad. Mr Ahmad is the longest detained without charge British detainee, who has thus far spent 2807 days in prison.

Babar was initially arrested back in December 2003, but was released six days later without charge, during this time of detention he suffered 73 forensically recorded injuries. (Remember I asked the question – After all, we’re civilised aren’t we?) Despite being awarded £60,000 in compensation and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson making a statement, admitting that Mr Ahmad had been the victim of a ‘serious, gratuitous and prolonged attack.’ Did Mr Ahmad get justice? Sadly, not in my opinion, as during a trial the officers accused of attacking Mr Ahmad were acquitted after just 45 minutes of deliberation by a jury: a jury that requested permission after to shake the hands of the policemen accused. (Remember I asked the question – After all, we’re civilised aren’t we?) Just who are these people asking to shake the hands of men obviously guilty of inflicting abuse?

Now any quick search of the internet will bring up a plethora of information about Babar Ahmad and the case, and I’m not here to bang on about the intricacies of said case; my point is, after all, we’re civilised aren’t we? So let’s set an example to the rest of the world where incarceration without charge takes place, and charge Mr Ahmad or release him.

Come on British justice isn’t it about time you ‘Put Up, or Shut Up'?’ After all, we’re civilised aren’t we?

I make no apologies for my feelings on this issue. I firmly believe that if Babar Ahmad is guilty of the crimes he is believed to have committed, then he should be punished in accordance with the law. What I don’t believe is that Britain can keep a man detained without charge, yet condemn other countries for doing the same thing – when did the dictionary definition of ‘British’ become ‘hypocrite?’

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Bargain Calendars?

Wednesday 11 April 2012 – Yesterday I stumbled across one of those; ‘We Sell Everything Imaginable’ shops; You know the kind, with rows of shelves selling everything from tea pots to towel rails, air fresheners to air guns and sugar bowls to shovels.

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I ventured into the depths of the shop, passing cleaning products, then cutlery; the next aisle had light bulbs and after this one, it was packet soup. This shop really was an Aladdin’s cave; sadly not full of jewels though; this one was full of crap; even the ‘poundstores’ would shudder before they sold much of the merchandise here.

But amidst all of this retail detritus I found a gem, a box Enrique-Iglesias-2004-Calendar-256054which had a sign saying ‘Bargain Calendars’, expecting half price offers on the current year’s calendar I was surprised to see one for 2007, another for 2003 and a couple of 2002 ones; there were even a handful of Enrique Iglesias ones, some from 2004, another from 2001 and a bunch dating back to 1999. I wonder why there’s so many Enrique ones left over? Could it be, the Spanish pop star isn’t very popular in this urban backwater?

But more importantly:

Who would want to buy an out of date calendar, and  surely wouldn’t it make more sense to dump them and use the space to display more goods?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bank Holiday Bin Men

Tuesday 10 April 2012 – As regular readers of my blog, you’ll already know that I’m here in the UK temporarily; so to speak. I’m staying in a short term rental property, in a part of the city that I’ve never had much association with previously. I have thought long and hard about how I can sum of this area in a few words and sadly kept coming back to: – It’s dog rough.

Having had the good fortune to have always lived in semi rural areas, just edging suburbia, life in a built up urban area takes some getting used to. When out in the street, locals here tend to conduct  their conversations a few decibels higher than normal. It’s a common practice during the hours of darkness, for car doors to open and close noisily, not to mention the hoot of taxi horns.

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But nothing could prepare me for the unheard of custom of sending in the bin men on a bank holiday. Yesterday, the cockerel down the road had crowed, and I was enjoying a little post sleep repose, when a bin lorry with very vocal bin men came down the road. I looked at the clock, it was 07.15.

Now having, as I said had the good fortune of living in less urban areas, I am used to not having a refuse collection if it fell on a bank holiday, the operation always taking place the next day. So why did we have one yesterday?

I can but assume that the natives may not cope with an extra day of a filled bin and could resort to burning its contents, or is it because they need the routine, so that they don’t forget what day they are due to sign on?

Guess who woke up grumpy today?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Going Commando and Pie in a Tin

Monday 9 April 2012 – Today I’m talking chav, it’s all about pikey lads and chav grub. But fear not I’m not about to tuck my track-suit bottoms into my socks and buy a Staffordshire bull terrier.

I have been known to go commando myself, in fact I don’t think I wore any underwear throughout the 1980’s. It can be liberating not to mention cooler to be sans boxers, but why doesn’t anyone point out to the pikey public, that walking around without pants while wearing fleecy trackie bottoms isn’t a good look. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen a youth walking towards me with hisnovak-djokovic-tennis-bulge tackle silhouetted through the fabric. There’s nothing more off putting when you’re subjected to swinging appendages on the high street.

To demonstrate my point here’s a picture of the tennis player Novac Djokovic, although his bulge is because of his balls; Steady on! his spare tennis balls that is.

I’d now like to move on to Chav food if I may. A few weeks ago when walking through a supermarket with my OH, I pointed to a tinned pie and explained that I’d never had one. Laughingly OH said, “You don’t know what you’re missing.” So I dropped the said food item into my trolley and continued shopping. The tinned baked product has since languished in a kitchen cupboard; overlooked every day.

A couple of nights ago, possibly during a momentary lapse in taste I decided it was time to try the pie in a tin. The cooking instructions were quite simple, remove lid first; (obviously, unless you want it to explode in the oven) then bake for twenty-five minutes. The blurb on the side of the tin makes it look very appealing, phrases like 100_5123crisp, flaky pastry and juicy, tender steak are really selling it to me. I wait for the required cooking time to elapse, then remove the tin. The pastry top has risen as promised.

Within seconds the inflated crust collapses, so I cut into it in anticipation of the juicy, tender steak, and lo and behold there it is, six cubes, each one being one centimetre squared.The taste experience is one I’ll 100_5125never forget, the gravy is salty, the meagre meat portions are devoid of any flavour and the underside of the pastry has the consistency of phlegm. The only thing missing from this gourmet experience is a can of cheaply produced energy drink and a dollop of red sauce.

Friday, 6 April 2012

When Too Hot is Not Hot

Friday 6 April 2012 – I like to keep abreast of the times, what’s on trend and what’s hot and what’s not. I know that in the fashion stakes it’s bold colours and geometric lines for summer 2012, and that Tanya Jagger is the new hot model, and the book of the moment is A Street Cat Named Bob, I’m even aware that cream is the nail colour of the moment.

There is one thing I recently came across, that was most definitely not hot; metaphorically speaking, was a spicy pizza. Yes it was hot, as in off the scoville scale, but not hot as on-trend. I’m partial to a hot spicy meal: regular readers will know all about my own Italian sun-dried chillies. But this pizza was so hot it was just uncomfortable to eat.

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Finally, to end this week, is another sign seen out and about. This time it’s a poster in the window of Ryman’s the stationers. It features an employee named Nathan from Holborn, and all I’m asking is just what is Nathan trying to tell us here?

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Is Nathan bragging about the size of his cock? Answers on a postcard to:               26 Phallus House, Dicksville, PE N15.

Have a good Easter weekend everyone.

Per i miei amici italiani - Buona Pasqua. Baz xx

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Curry Spell-Checker

Thursday 5 April 2012 – Today I was sat re-drafting an article I’ve recently been working on, in the background at a discrete volume Public Image Ltd are playing ‘Careering’. (PiL at a discreet volume, it is possible). My attention is grabbed by the clatter of my letterbox, I look up and see three brown fingers and a multi-coloured flyer appear.

I retrieve the flyer; anything to take me away from working, and see it’s for a fast food outlet. Hurrah! a wonderful distraction. Without sounding like a pedantic old git, I love sifting through these flyers for spelling mistakes, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The tagline; the most important part of any advertising reads:

Taste 1

Staying on the front cover we then get: Taste 4

Surely this should read ‘Now Order Curry’ – or if the owner thinks the public will purchase more than one dish, the it should read ‘Now Order Curries’. (One could argue however that this is a ‘straightforward’ plural therefore is correct. But nonetheless it’s confusing). Inside more errors jump out in glorious colour, this time it’s the ‘there’ and ‘their’ confusion:

Taste 2

And finally we come to the misspelling of the Italian city Milano:

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I believe that if you are promoting your business, then at least get the advertising correct before you spend money on printing. You may argue that these are easy mistakes to make if English is not your native language; I agree, but these flyers are designed by people who have passed through the English education system, and are now running their own businesses.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I Love a Bit of Cock in the Morning

Own up, who started to read this because of its provocative title?

Wednesday 4 April 2012 – I have always lived in a semi rural community, I grew up with fields to play in and farms to help out on: for help out, read – annoy a farmer on. I’m used to the fact that smaller rural communities have a different focus than towns and cities, and despite having the kind of personality that you’d expect is better suited to the hustle and bustle of a metropolis, I’m actually much happier tucked away in a pocket of green.

254567_10150200691607187_539852186_7462448_4975296_nWhen we bought our place in Italy people said, “It’s quite remote, you’ll be bored.'” Yes we’re a small house overlooking a valley, with just a rabbit farm, olive trees and three other houses in the immediate vicinity. But how can you be bored? There’s the local (aged) farmers that pass through on tractors that were probably supplied by Mussolini’s regime, locals who stop to pass the time of day as buzzards fly overhead and there’s the satisfaction of cultivating your own produce; nothing can beat the olive harvest followed by a dozen 5litre tins of extra virgin oil; a fine recompense for your toil.

One of the things that I love about being in the country is the sound of a cockerel welcoming the day with his crowing. These past few mornings, my day has cockerelstarted with just that, and I discovered yesterday that my neighbours a few doors down have chickens and a haughty looking cock.

Sadly today though due to the bad weather, there was no welcoming call from him, to softly rouse me from my slumber. So today I wasn't;t fooled into thinking I was over in Italy on our hillside, just shaken awake to face reality of being in a side street outside the city centre.

So as I sit here and type up today’s blog posting, and Marilyn Manson sings (sings?) ‘Into The Fire’, I’m reminded that life can be shit sometimes, so keep those fragrant times close.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Daytime TV

Tuesday 3 April 2012 – Yesterday I turned off the iPod and settled down to watch a little daytime TV, I managed to swallow a little of Daybreak, I even watched a morsel of Lorraine; but it was the hard core shows I was interested in, those stalwarts of the programming schedule.

jeremy_kyle_show2007aI allowed my senses to be assaulted by Jeremy Kyle, and the assorted brain dead morons that come on his show to be patronised, shouted at and derided by this dreadful man.

Then I tuned into an episode of Bargain Hunt the only show where you win by losing, it’s an odd concept; lose money to win theGeneral2009_1792 show, surely if you want to encourage people to buy and sell crap (oops antiques), show them making a profit.

And don't get me started on Cash in the Attic, how many people have one of George Formby's ukelele's in the loft, and a sketch by Dali in the kitchen draw?

Following a quick breather to escape this televisual self inflicted Alzheimer's, I decided to give Loose Women a go. Having sat through this drivel dressed up as entertainment, I think it needs to re-branded, the reason being; it has no content, it’s format is so loose it’s positively slack, so Loose Women logomaybe it should be called Slack Women, to give a clear indication of what the show’s like and possibly one or two of its presenters.

My early afternoon is taken up with Midsomer Murders, a crime show that I believe is in its fifteenth series. Despite being a well made show, I’m sure there can’t be many people left alive in theMidsomer_murders_logo Midsomer villages, as the sensible villagers have surely moved out after the constant killing sprees that occur.

As the closing credits roll, I realise my brain now resembles semifreddo and my backside is a numb as a polar bear’s nose. There’s only one thing for it, a quick stroll to get the blood flowing, and a few deep breaths of fresh air. Sadly I can’t do this as it’s now time for Come Dine With Me.

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Monday, 2 April 2012

Sauce from the Dark Side

Monday 2 April 2012 – My first blog entry of April is accompanied by one of those songs that always has the ability to take you back in time. Today the iPod has shuffled and Michael Sembello takes over with the 80’s classic, Maniac’ from the movie Flashdance.

So here’s another posting of signs out and about that made me smile, those spelling mistakes that are posted publicly. My first is from the local chip shop, there on its A-board it proudly states that it sells a foodstuff from the other side. Could I get a side order of ectoplasm with mine please.

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It makes me wonder why the people who manufactured the sign for them didn’t point out the spelling mistake.

Sticking with food based errors, this sign appeared in a bread shop just along the road. (The owner accosted me as I was taking the photo…oops). The price has been obviously altered, suggesting the sign has been there for a while. Maybe I’ll pop a note under the door detailing the misspelling of the plural of loaf.

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I pick up my iPod out of its dock as Siobhan Donaghy starts to sing ‘Ghosts’. (I hear Siobhan and the other two original Sugababes members; Mutya and Keisha , have signed a one million pound deal with Polydor – Good luck to them). I take a trip into town and am passing a newly opened barber shop; in the window is a list of charges, and one of the treatments offered is: Threading eyebrowse & full face £4. I photograph the spelling mistake, when I ponder ‘full face’, what is the shop offering epilation for werewolves?

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My final sign is one of complete stupidity, one that some design department and re-branding company have been paid a fortune to come up with. It’s the name for the new shopping complex being built in town: No explanation necessary.

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