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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.


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.


Or for those among you that have a mercenary bent:


Here’s one for my writer friends:


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.”


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.


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.

soapawardsoutside 240907

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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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!