Thursday, 31 December 2009

It's NYE and Stephen is...

...wondering if it's wrong to find Taylor Lautner cute. He's legal (in the UK) at 17, but I'm sure some USA states would frown upon such things.

...confused as to why idiots in the UK would buy a Katie Price or Kerry Katona "novel" knowing that ghost writers were used. Kerry admitted to never having read the autobiography that she wrote! The nation is full of gullible fools.

...asking if we must perform a quirkafleeg?

...annoyed at how people don't know how to use the word "an". It's not from foreign speakers, it's from the British and it's even spread to the radio! It's really simple and something you learn when you are at primary school. On the news, she actually said "a awful day"!

...hoping that the weather improves so the running training can resume.

...considering what New Years resolutions should be made.

...reinstating his Twitter account ('sfchapman' if you are interested) and will be publishing Facebook updates on there.

...looking forward to lots more blogging in 2010. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Post Christmas lull

Christmas was fine, spending the day itself at Pete's brothers house - there were 7 of us and enough food for 17 I think. I made New York baked cheesecake and Pete made Tiramisu - I think the battle of the desserts was a draw. I have had a cold that doesn't seem to want to go away, so the festive period has been dulled for me.

Over the past few days, Pete and I have watched a couple of films and to enhance the experience, we bought a surround sound system in the sales. It's great! We should have done this long ago.

We went to Cambridge on Sunday and the whole city was packed with bargain hunters. I bought a couple of CDs but couldn't be bothered to queue in Gap for 30+ minutes to buy chinos. Sales seem to bring out the worst in people... actually the worst in women! They push and shove and say nothing when they barge into you. The number of times you let someone through a door and they fail to say "thank you" is increasing!

We are out tonight, in black tie dress, for a meal. New Years Eve is up in the air as plans have changed - not sure what will happen now.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The best of 2009

As the year draws to an end, here are some of my best moments of 2009...

Top holidays & events 2009

- In January we went to a concert in Paris and saw the French president and his wife.
-
Skiing
- Pete and I went to Holland twice, in May for a 40th party and again in September.
- The
cruise in June was far better than I expected it to be. We saw some amazing sights: Norway, Iceland and the Arctic circle. Some pictures here.
- And I started planning a holiday for my
40th.

Music 2009

- Seeing Fleetwood Mac at Wembley was a musical highlight.
- The
One Eskimo album finally saw the light of day and is very good indeed!
- The
Beatles remasters were a welcome reminder that they made the best music ever.
- Heard quite a lot of new music. More reviews in 2010.
- I shared some rare music on
these postings.
-
Pete was a slave to the rhythm in the summer.
- We went to a couple of festivals.

Top movies 2009

In no particular order:
Rudo y Cursi
The Man Who Wasn't There
Gran Torino
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
Man on Wire
The Departed
Juste une question d'amour
Vals Im Bashir
The Royal Tenenbaums
Lucky Number Slevin
The Darjeeling Limited

My Top 3 movies seen in 2009...
Milk
C.R.A.Z.Y.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Most read blog entries 2009

- Fleetwood Mac - The 200th blog post
-
Only a little bit gay (Man crush)
-
A letter to my 16 year old self
-
Three little words... I am gay
-
Demons
- 30 St Mary Axe
- This blog is pants!
- Stephen Gately RIP
- All Ha Ha Shock Wow entries

Predictions for 2010

- A hung Parliament
- Chelsea win the Premiership
- Crystal Palace sold

Top totty of 2009

Top row, left to right: Yoann Gourcuff, James Nichols, Roque Santa Cruz
Middle row, left to right:
Dino Gamecho, Kevin Zeegers, Christian Cooke, Robin Van Persie
Bottom row, left to right:
Alex Pettyfer, Edilson Nascimento, Julien Quevenne



Thursday, 24 December 2009

December movie update

It's been ages since my last movie update, so here are the films that Pete and I have received from Lovefilm.com and watched on TV and DVD over the past couple of months - with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on IMDB.

The Nightmare Before Christmas 8

Cowboys & Angels 7
A good(ish) gay film... wow!

The Hangover 7
Silly but funny.

In the Loop 7

Ha-Buah (The Bubble) 5
A poor gay film.

The Ballad of Jack and Rose 5
I don't think I like anything that Daniel Day-Lewis has been in!

17 Again 7
Pretty funny and nowhere near as bad as I thought it might be. Zac is so fit!

Coco avant Chanel 6

Is Anybody There? 7

Shi mian mai fu (House of Flying Daggers) 7

The Boat That Rocked 5
A wasted opportunity to make a funny film about pirate radio in the 1960's.

Entre les murs (The Class) 7

The Elephant Man 8*

Bedazzled 4

JFK 8

Rudo y Cursi 8
Funny and features two cute actors.

When Harry Met Sally... 9*

Anvil! The Story of Anvil 5
Could have been good, but the joke ran out very quickly.

The Matrix Reloaded 4
Rubbish, padded out with overlong fighting scenes.

The Man Who Wasn't There 7

Carry on Screaming! 7
Classic British comedy. Harry H Corbett was a fine actor.

Bigga Than Ben 6
Not a great film, but Ben Barnes is gorgeous

* I've seen these films before, but thought I would include the ratings as I watched them again recently.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Worst journey

Last night was the worst travel experience of my life. I thought the journey back from Edinburgh last week was bad, but last night the snow and ice caused havoc.

I had to attend a 'speed awareness course' in Milton Keynes after being snapped by a speed camera a few months ago. It took me 4 and a half hours to get home - a journey that should take less than an hour. The motorway was slow, but getting across Luton was a nightmare - complete gridlock. I was so stressed as my car skidded on the ice (at the rare times I was actually moving). Then the main road to where I live was littered with broken down and dumped cars and was not safe to drive on. I was rather pleased to eventually get home as I thought I was going to have to leave the car and call Pete's brother to rescue me in his Land Rover.

The 'speed awareness course' was a little too long, but was surprisingly interesting. Here's a mobile phone stat for you:

Reaction times for drivers using a handheld phone are 30 per cent worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. You are also four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving.

So, due to the travel problems, I couldn't bring myself to start this blog entry with the line I was going to use, so here it is anyway: "I was running late for the speed awareness course, but I made it in time after putting my foot down".

And finally, let me end with something fun...



Saturday, 19 December 2009

A special friend

As I type this sitting at my dining room table using my work laptop, I should really be in France, full from the previous evening's meal and looking forward to Christmas shopping today. For the past 7 or 8 years, Pete and I have spent the weekend before Christmas in France buying food, drink and presents. But due to the bad weather in Kent and the Channel Tunnel problems, we are at home and now running dangerously low on wine. And I have a cold coming.

We received a Christmas card from my Mum and Dad yesterday and on the front is says "To our son and his partner". My Mum has taken the time to find a suitable card and that is great, but Pete and I did laugh at the wording a bit. I'm not sure what my parents call Pete: my boyfriend, significant other, the one who corrupted our son, etc?

An in-joke that we have is that Pete is my "special friend" and that comes from an early episode of 6 Feet Under when the mother is arranging a dinner party and asks her gay son:

Ruth: David, are you bringing a... special friend to dinner?
David: Why are my friends always special?

(Pause)
Ruth: Ok then, if you're having sex with anyone, is he coming to dinner?


So what should I call my special friend Pete?!

Following on from the army coming out story last week, the news in the UK broke yesterday that Gareth Thomas is gay. For those who don't know about rugby, Gareth is a former Wales and Lions captain, i.e. he reached the top of the game. Coming out in the army and professional sport takes some balls and make my past failures look really pathetic!

Tomorrow I am off to a speed awareness course, having been caught speeding a few months ago. It looks to me like I am going to lectured for 4 hours as to why I am so evil. Great!

Monochrome Weekly #5

My contribution to the latest Monochrome Weekly is the British Museum in London. It's made up of 3 pictures stitched together. If you have never visited the British Museum, you are missing out:




Friday, 18 December 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I travelled up to Edinburgh on Thursday (early) and we had a team meeting followed by a Christmas meal. The event went off without incident, though I did wimp out early as I knew I had to get up early today.

I slept very badly, partly due to a party downstairs in the hotel and was awake at 4am - I'm not sure why.

Due to the snow in the south, I decided to check teletext to confirm the flight was on time. On was not on time, it had been cancelled! Most flights within the UK had been cancelled but as the flight had been booked by a travel company, a colleague and myself had to get a taxi at 6.30am to the airport to try and arrange a new flight.

When we got to the airport, it was chaos. There must have been 300 people queuing to sort out new flights with Easyjet (I have no choice but to use them). A guy in the queue explained that many flights from the night before had been cancelled, so there was no chance at all that we would fly today or tomorrow!

So taxi number two took us back into Edinburgh and we paid £107 to get a train. We waited in the freezing cold for an hour and boarded the train, which promptly broke down (though it was fixed within 15 minutes). The rail journey was slow and when we encountered heavy snow, it got slower. We made it to Stevenage where we got taxi number 3 to Luton airport.

I then struggled to get my car out of the car park as the snow was about a foot deep and my car is a heavy brute.

So, after leaving the hotel at dawn, I arrived home 9 hours later. I need sleep now.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

No cards thanks

I was in Edinburgh yesterday and was knackered by the time I got home last night. I wont be working too hard at home today. I am back there again on Thursday for a team meeting followed by a Christmas party. It will be awful. I saw the following in the horoscope in The Metro and will be waiting patiently today to be contacted!

The main reason for this blog posting is to tell you about my personal Christmas card decision.

Last year I decided not to send any Christmas cards and instead made a contribution to the Christies Young Oncology Unit which was being supported by Thomas Buckley. This brave young man was suffering from terminal cancer and sadly died in May this year aged only 24. He achieved his aim of walking from the east to the west coast of England and raised a huge amount of money in the process.

This year I be making a charitable contribution to Help For Heroes, a charity that aims to support our injured servicemen and women. Their projects include an £8m swimming pool complex at Headley Court, £3.5m to Combat Stress and now they are working hard to raise a further £20m to fund and build seven Recovery Houses across the Country.

I made this decision after reading about an 18 year old soldier called Craig Wood who lost his left arm and both legs in a bomb attack in Afghanistan. Craig will never get to do many of the things that we take for granted and has paid a huge price for simply wanting a career in the army. Whether you are for or against the war in Afghanistan, you will no doubt support the individuals who are doing a dangerous job and the ones that survive with horrific injuries deserve lifelong support. Craig's story is upsetting reading.

The environmental impact of sending Christmas cards is crazy anyway, so next year you may want to consider doing the same.

Monday, 14 December 2009

100 facts about me - 91 to 100

Here is the final part of the "100 facts about me" list - previous entries can be found here:

91. I don’t understand smokers who throw used ‘fag butts’ anywhere they want – do they think that they will disintegrate?
92. I spent a year carrying a camera everywhere I went. You can see the fruits of my labour here.
93. Camp gay guys scare me.
94. I believe self-hypnosis works.
95. I once painted famous album covers on my bedroom wall. Nearly 20 years later, they are still there and my mum wont paint over them.
96. I once drove a Ferrari at a little over 110mph.
97. I rarely sleep right through the night.
98. I can ask for the bill in Greek.
99. I think that the best view in London is from The Hilton in Rotherhithe looking across to Canary Wharf at dusk.
100. I am envious of the young and have a great fear of getting old and what it may bring.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A man in uniform

Two blog entries on one day! Whatever next?! I saw a news story on TV this morning and thought it was worth mentioning.

A 21 year old British soldier called Ben Rakestrow, serving in Afghanistan, is featured in a few newspapers today as the only Out gay guy in the region. I wanted to blog on this topic as I know it's tough to come out and even more so in the environment he is working. He is certainly a brave man in many ways. I love this part of his story...

He told his unit about his sexuality after a trip to a nightclub during pre-deployment training on Salisbury Plain. “The next morning I arrived for the exercise late because we’d had a bit to drink. The lads all asked if we’d had any luck, then at least our late arrival would have been worth it. I just said, ‘His name was Ryan’. Some of their faces dropped and they asked if I was serious. They couldn’t believe it.”

What is great to see is that the newspapers don't go overboard on his sexuality (even the Sun!). A few years ago, such stories would have been littered with innuendo and smutty comments (the Sun is still often guilty of this). The story his all about his courage and his friends. However, the fact that I am commenting on this article at all shows that we have some way to go yet

I hope he gets the support he deserves from his comrades and it appears that he is. He will get some "banter" from his unit, but hopefully in humour and no more than other guys receive. His mates even bought him a pink Zac Efron duvet cover! I somehow couldn't see this happening in the US amry and that concerns me.

To all of you that are coming out to friends and family, my advice is to get on with it. I am guilty of making excuses in the past and even recently but, without doubt, coming out makes life easier. If you are finding reasons not to come out or saying "I'll do it before I am 30" etc, you are never going to do it and you will find more reasons not do come out in the future. You need to make a plan and do it OR decide that you will never tell a specific person and just get on with your life. If you hide behind excuses or timelines, you are just going to stress yourself out. I am trying to be honest with people and I fail sometimes, but being out to my friends and family is more important than I ever thought it could be.

Have a look at this recent blog entry on Crawling Out Of The Closet and I wonder if you agree with me that this guy is very courageous.

Monochrome Weekly #4

My contribution to the latest Monochrome Weekly is a photo taken in London a couple of years ago a few days before Christmas. It was a misty morning and the Thames path was deserted:








Friday, 11 December 2009

Warning: Cute actor guys

Some light heared stuff after the heavy last posting...

Watching TV and films in the last week and a couple of guys almost jumped out of the screen at me, so here are a couple of random pictures, yoinked from the net for your viewing pleasure. If you are a straight male, then focus on their acting skills!

1. Not my usual totty, but he's the fit and tall Takeshi Kaneshiro from The House of flying daggers.

2. There's a new comedy on the BBC called Miranda that is silly and funny and co-stars Tom Ellis who, in the programme, doesn't seem know how to shave.

3. OK, not quite an actor as this ones a porn star called James Nichols (though who knows what his real name is) - but he's gorgeous and I saw him on a screen!

4. I know Zac Efron is an obvious choice, but in 17 Again, he is very hot and the film is not as bad as I thought it might be!


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Random thoughts on life - challenges

In a recent email, my old pal Marco said that Pete and I live "am Arsch der Welt". He is suggesting that we live "out in the sticks" (if he and his lovely wife visited, he would think differently). Anyway... forgive him, he's German and witty, which is a dangerous combination.

He does have a point and it's linked to something that has been bothering me today. I have just realised why I don't like Twitter... I don't do enough interesting things in a day to tell people about. How depressing is that?! When I did my "photo a day" project, we were living in London and it was easy to do new things everyday. I am now officially lazy and not "growing as an individual" as the Americans might say. A lot of this stems from having a dull job.

Tonight I prepared the final installment of my "top 100 list" to be posted soon and #100 mentions being envious of the young and being afraid of getting old. It's true, but such thoughts are not at a dangerous level just yet. It's more than simple jealousy, it's all about regret. Regret that I haven't achieved enough and the worry that I never will (some would say I have achieved plenty, whereas I judge it differently as my glass isn't even a third full at the moment*). Even worse therefore is this combination of young people who have achieved. Take the actor we saw in a play last weekend, Steven Webb. He's not a big stage star, but he has confidence, making use of his talent, good looks, hair(!) and he's 25 years old. Is this the start of my midlife crisis?

Thinking and typing at the same time here, but do I need a major, if not MASSIVE new challenge in my life? Maybe I should try acting to challenge myself in a big way or even try and write a play... a radio play possibly. I could have a completely new career, start at the bottom again. I could try a new hobby or skill at nightschool. I've never played my guitar to a crowd - so maybe I should try busking. I know I can sing, but I couldn't perform to people, so anyone want to sing while I play? One thing that I am doing is running a 10k race in April - this may not sound too impressive, but consider that it will be the furthest I have even run as I have never been fit.

Something that bugs me about me, is that I make lists of things to do in life and rarely tick the items off. I will probably start making lists of lists soon. I know that without Pete to kick me, I doubt I would do that much. Thank heavens for nagging. I will post some objectives and you can all moan at me when I haven't ticked some off.

So where has this blog entry taken me (and you)? Well, it's littered with question marks so your views are welcome. Perhaps it's given a tiny insight into my mind at this moment in time? Perhaps a thought on your own life? I could type for hours, but wont - I will save such blog boredom for another day.

And as for things I have been putting off - this weekend, I intend getting very drunk on sloe gin with our neighbours who we never socialise with despite them being a great couple (though they are in their twenties, so I am just envious of course). Watch this space.

* My relationship with Pete is an achievement of course, I am thinking more about work and skills.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Public Property

Pete and I went to London on Saturday to shop and get some culture.

The day started well as it was sunny and not too cold. We got the train into the capital and walked to The Wellcome Collection to see a fascinating exhibition (which we heard reviewed on the radio a few days previously). The exhibition space was divided into 8 "rooms" and each had a topic relating to specific lives with art, artifacts, videos, belongings etc. It's well worth a visit - neither Pete or I had been there before and it's an impressive building.

After that, we ventured to the West End for some shopping as Regent Street and Oxford Street had been closed to traffic. Everywhere was packed, but we did manage to drink 3 glasses of Champagne in 2 Hackett stores. We met my friend Sonny for lunch (at the Itsu famous for dead Russian spies) and had a look around a few smaller shops.

Pete and I then went to see the matinee of a play called Public Property mainly because Nigel Harman was starring in it - see another blog post here for Pete's liking of Nigel. I knew nothing about the play as Pete had booked it, but it had a gay theme. It was staged at a tiny "theatre" and I use the term loosely. It's basically a room with 3 rows of benches around a central area. The three actors then do their thing right in front of you and actually within the audience at some points. In fact, Nigel Harman was standing right in front of me during some scenes! The play was a about a PR agent (Nigel) and his famous newsreader client (Roger Daws) - neither of whom are having the best of careers. Alert: Spoiler in next paragraph!

The newsreader is photographed in a graphic sexual position with a 16 year old lad and the story progresses with all 3 of them at the PR agent's house trying to figure out how to put a positive spin on the situation with the teen getting to kiss both older actors.

The teenager was played by Steven Webb, who I thought performed the part brilliantly (he has been in The History Boys and some TV too). It's not until you are a few feet away from an actor that you realise just how good they are; every facial expression, every pause, every tiny laugh was timed to perfection. Steven is 25 but looks younger, so just about got away the role of a 16 year old. I think he has a great career ahead - and deservedly so.

It's a great black comedy that zips along with some funny one-liners and some dark moments too. Unfortunately the last performance was on Saturday evening, so you may have to catch it some other time. I have not enjoyed many plays lately (cramped seats, no aircon, overpriced etc), but this was well worth the money.

While I'm blogging... thanks to the 16 people that took part in "5 on the fifth" on Saturday. I'm aiming for 20 next month, so tell your friends!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Five on the fifth #6

Welcome to "5 on the fifth", a monthly posting that benefits from audience participation. You take 5 photographs on the 5th of the month (or the days leading up to the 5th) - post a comment here with your name, location and link to the site containing your photos and I will update the blog entry with your information. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog, so that your visitors get to see the other contributions. You can take 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme, which this month is: signs.

My own pictures are below the links of those who kindly contributed:

Made in Britain, Scotland
David, Brighton
Al, Philippines
Fredamans, Ontario, Canada
Marie, Stockholm
Made in Scotland, London
Deserts and Beyond, California
Gunsside, Vestfold, Norway
Howard, Clayton, USA
Juan, Colombia
Dit, Hollywood, California
Allhorsestuff, Oregon, USA

Andrew, Somerset
Sonny, London
Nantes daily photo, France
Pete, Hertfordshire

Mine:
1. A sign that Christmas is coming
2. A sign that Hackett is my favourite shop (they serve Champagne to customers!)
3. A sign that Sonny shouldn't select his own sunglasses
4. A sign of things to come
5. A sign!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Misfits

I've been watching a new comedy drama on E4 called Misfits. It's highly original and is definitely adult entertainment:

Misfits follows five outsiders on community service who get struck by a flash storm and lumbered with special powers. Hard as nails Kelly can suddenly hear people’s thoughts, shamed sporting hero Curtis discovers he has the ability to turn back time when he regrets something, and party girl Alisha can send people into a sexual frenzy when they touch her skin. Even painfully shy Simon can make himself invisible when he feels he’s being ignored, which makes it all the more hard to swallow for smart aleck Nathan, who seems to have been unaffected, much to his dismay. Unlike their more conventional counterparts, our misfits don’t swap their ankle tags and mobile phones for capes and tights. Instead, they discover what a pain in the arse life can be when you’re stuck with a super power you didn’t want.

The guy who plays Nathan has the cutest eyes and accent (he's played by Robert Sheehan who is a great actor). His character is super sarcastic and he managed to get a care home volunteer into bed. He had the best line of the episode after some premature action and orgasmic facial expressions, by asking his lady friend: "what is wrong with my cum face!?".

OK, the premise is silly, but the programme is funny and surprisingly dark. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, especially if Nathan gets naked again and would recommend catching up on previous episodes on 4OD.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

December already!

The next "5 on the fifth" is a few days away and you are very welcome to take part. You can either take 5 random pictures of anything that happens to you on the 5th of December (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is...

Signs

I hope that you will be inspired take part. If you are looking for a place to store your images, you can create photo folders on Hotmail or Google (called Picassa) for free.

Don't forget to add a comment to my blog with your name, location and link. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog so that your visitors get to see the other contributions.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Monochrome Weekly #3

My contribution to the latest Monochrome Weekly is another sea inspired photo:




If you have arrived at this blog and like taking photographs - you are welcome to take part in "5 on the fifth"... see below:


Saturday, 28 November 2009

When the customer doesn't matter

Yesterday was a crappy day. I had to take my car for a service and the closest centre I was allowed to use was in North London. So I set out at 7am and dropped the car off at 8.30, with the understanding that I would on my way before 11am.

So I found a Starbucks and caught up on some work reading before heading back at 11 only to find that the owners of the car (it's a lease hire car) had been arguing with the garage about what can and cant be done to the car and it hadn't been touched. It was meant to be a 48,000 mile service... simple!

This went on for a few hours, including the garage insisting that I needed new brake pads and the lease hire company not sure whether they wanted to pay for them.

I spent time looking in the local shops, then checking out the computers and home cinema setups in Comet, reading newspaper and eventually I left the garage at 4pm having read all the documents I had bought with me at least twice and written up my end of year report (the only good thing to come from the day). A complete waste of time.

This shows poor customer service in action, not necessarily from the garage - though they could have been a bit more helpful, but more from the lease hire firm who took around an hour to make a decision each time they were asked a question! And there's nothing I can do about it.

Bad mood now.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Poetry in lyrics

I was listening to my ipod the other day and a song that I had heard hundreds of times came on and I noticed that one of the verses could be classed as more than just a lyric, it could almost be poetry:

Well it was kind of cold, that night she stood alone on the balcony,
She could hear the cars roll by out on 441, like waves crashing on the beach,
And for one desperate moment there, he crept back in her memory,
God it's so painful, when something that's so close, is still so far out of reach.


It may surprise you to learn that those words are from American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Masters of poetic lyric writing, according to those that know are: Bob Dylan, Sting, John Lennon etc. One other example comes from Death Cab For Cutie (who I mentioned in this blog entry) and a song called Crooked Teeth, although I could have chosen a number of their tracks:

It was one hundred degrees, as we sat beneath a willow tree,
Whose tears didn't care, they just hung in the air and refused to fall.
I knew I'd made horrible call and now the state line felt like the Berlin wall,
And there was no doubt about which side I was on.
'Cause I built you a home in my heart, with rotten wood it decayed from the start.
'Cause you can find nothing at all, if there was nothing there all along.


I wouldn't include some lyrics that are well known as to me, they seem to try too hard to be poetic and whistful. But I'm no poetry expert on any level - I even decided to leave "Awop-bop-a-loo-bop-awop-bam-boom" off the list.

And what of today's musicians? - I am sure that there are many examples. Over to you readers - does anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Stade Francais calendar 2010

Wow!

The tenth Calendrier Dieux Du Stade (or
Stade Francais calendar to you and me) has been delivered to our home and it's a great one (after a couple of years of maybe being a little too arty). Some images are subtle and some not so!

This marketing ploy by the French rugby club has certainly paid off and despite having the
worst rugby tops in history, they attracted a lot of woman and gay guys to start watching rugby. Although I doubt all attendees at the stadium were there for the game.

As with previous years, they have some non Stade Francais players making up the numbers including a few English players. Here's a small taster, with no dangly bits on show...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Pasta pride

The weather in the UK has been awful in recent days with a lot of rain. On a rainy day like yesterday, there's not much to do other than watch TV, clean the house, surf the net and cook. So I made pasta for the first time and used my mum's pasta machine (which hasn't been used in a decade or more) to roll it into suitably thin strips. There is definitely a skill involved in the consistency and amount you put through the rollers. After making the dough and letting it rest, it then took me about an hour and a half to produce some noodles and cheesy ravioli!

Top: Noodles drying in the garage. Bottom: Experimental ravioli.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Monochrome Weekly #2

My contribution to the latest Monochrome Weekly shows the pier that divides the beach and the port in Calais which is inhabited mainly by men fishing...



Thursday, 19 November 2009

Dreams

I spent the day in London yesterday with a meeting at lunchtime and an early finish. I even managed to plan a whole training day over a latte in a coffee bar after my meeting. The West End seemed to be packed with people (especially the Apple store on Regent Street) - it's strange how you can forget how busy the city can be. I met Pete and we went for a couple of drinks and then a bento box at a Japanese restaurant. We walked along Old Compton Street, i.e. the gay part of Soho - but I am not a fan of most of the bars, so it was an All Bar One pint as they have a wide choice of beers. I don't do "the scene" very often - I don't have any need to be with "my kind".

I tried the new pedestrian crossing at Oxford Circus - how very exciting!.. yep, I need to get out more.

I had a dream the other night and it only came back to me yesterday when Pete and I went into The Vintage Magazine Shop in Brewer Street which sells old magazines (obviously!) and movie memorabilia. Some back story first... my first job (when I was 18) was at a Cable TV company based in Sittingbourne in Kent which managed 4 Cable TV networks across the north of the county. We had a small shop on the premises and it was my idea to fill one wall with images from the movies and I bought 8"x10" black and white photographs from this very shop in the early 1990's!

Back to my dream - in which I am employed once again at the Cable TV office with the same colleagues and it's highly stressful and very unpleasant - as it was all those years ago. I have the same desk, same huge computer and same posters around the walls of the TV channels on offer.

So I looked online this morning and very little is mentioned about the business I worked at - it's been replaced by a bigger and better Cable TV network and Sky satellite dishes everywhere. But I did find this image of my old office (I don't quite understand why someone would take such a photograph) and it really depresses me. The run down building and faded signs are so unlike the busy office and workshop downstairs that I remember.


I have dreamed about this a couple of times and each time I remember my bullying boss and the smoke filled office. It was a truly crap job and I stayed there at least 3 years too long before going back to college and then into financial services.

Dreams are strange things.

This morning, the nice Amazon delivery man has brought us the 2010
Stade Francais calendar. What a rather sexy start to a dull Thursday! A full review will follow in due course.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Ha, Ha, Shock, Wow #4

Following on from these previous postings, here are four more random items from the 'net for your pleasure and entertainment...

Ha


Ha
A Mafia Godfather finds out that his bookkeeper has cheated him out of $10 million bucks. His bookkeeper is deaf. That was the reason he got the job in the first place. It was assumed that a deaf bookkeeper would not hear anything that he might have to testify about in court.

When the Godfather goes to confront the bookkeeper about his missing $10 million, he brings along his attorney, who knows sign language. The Godfather tells the lawyer 'Ask him where the $10 million bucks he embezzled from me is.'

The attorney, using sign language, asks the bookkeeper where the money is. The bookkeeper signs back: 'I don't know what you are talking about.'

The attorney tells the Godfather: 'He says he doesn't know what you're talking about.' The Godfather pulls out a pistol, puts it to the bookkeeper's temple and says, 'Ask him again!' The attorney signs to the bookkeeper: 'He'll kill you if you don't tell him!'

The bookkeeper signs back: 'OK! OK! You win! The money is in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed in my cousin Enzo's backyard in Queens!'

The Godfather asks the attorney: 'Well, what'd he say?'

The attorney replies: 'He says you don't have the balls to pull the trigger.'

Don't you just love lawyers?!


Shock
More than 2,500 left-handed people are killed each year using products that were made for right-handed people.


Wow
Alex Pettyfer (has grown up rather well!)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Lille weekend

Pete and I spent the weekend in Lille enjoying the French food and drink and the French guys too.

We travelled by Eurostar, which is always fun and I would recommend a visit to the city as it's only 1 hour and 20 minutes from London. We found a great market on Sunday lunchtime and sat drinking some wine and listening to a band play to the hoards of people looking at the stalls of organic everything.

Not much more to report at the moment so I will leave you with a picture of some graffiti I saw in Lille. I have no idea what it's about!


Saturday, 14 November 2009

100 facts about me - 81 to 90

Here is the next part of the "100 facts about me" list - previous entries can be found here:

81. I will keep trying to play the riff to "Message in a bottle" by The Police on the guitar until I get it right.
82. I regret not having learned another language... it's not too late though.
83. I could happily live without a mobile phone.
84. I once had a loving cat called Gnasher.
85. The art of Escher fascinates me.
86. I had my tonsils out when I was 10 years old.
87. I need at least 8 hours sleep a night to function properly.
88. I think that drinking espresso looks cool and hate is when people say "expresso"
89. I am angry at local councils for giving land to gypsies and may even write to my MP.
90. I go through stages of being addicted to checking my email inbox.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Success

The Christmas weekend was fun and despite it being a pseudo-festival, I still ate and drank plenty to keep up the pretence. For my Dad's 70th we (my brothers and I) bought him tickets to see Don McLean at the Royal Albert Hall next year. When I was very young, my Dad would play the album "American Pie" on rotation in the car, so it's ingrained in my brain. Pete and I will accompany my Mum and Dad to the concert.

A few of the family watched the Festival of Remembrance on the BBC on Saturday night. It's always a touching programme and I was surprised that two of my nephews watched it, when computers and iphones were an alternative. One nephew who is 13 understood the history behind the First World War in particular, but I was surprised that he had never been taught the Lords Prayer at school and didn't know the words to the National Anthem! Our schools appear to be actively avoiding anything too British and traditional and didn't even have a poppy sale. This is not acceptable in my view.

I also feel that all radio and TV channels and public buildings should take part in the 2 minutes silence on Remembrance Sunday. It's not too much to ask for 2 minutes of the nations time.

Also on the topic of teaching, a friend of Pete's has two children who go to a school in Milton Keynes where the children call the teachers by their first names. I think that this sets a dangerous precedent for children - you need the divide between teachers and pupils to install respect. The comment "Dave was OK when I said my homework would be in a day late" just didn't sound right. Pete's friend said it's great because the teachers are more like friends! They are not friends, they are teachers that should be respected and obeyed. The trouble that they have had in their school with children answering back, swearing at teachers and even violence has to be partly attributed to this laid back approach in my opinion.

On a lighter note, I heard that
Fernando Torres has a groin injury. I have emailed Liverpool FC to see if they need someone to apply ointment to the affected area.

To end todays blog entry, I thought I would provide some definitions for success:

At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants.
At age 12 success is having friends.
At age 16 success is having a drivers license.
At age 20 success is having sex.
At age 35 success is having money.
At age 50 success is having money.
At age 60 success is having sex.
At age 70 success is having a drivers license.
At age 75 success is having friends.
At age 80 success is not peeing in your pants

Monday, 9 November 2009

Songs you might like #3

This is the third post that highlights some rarely heard music - the other entries can be found here. These are songs that you probably won't know but I would like to recommend them. You may love them, you may hate them - the choice is yours, but at least you had the chance to hear them...

"Big Store" by The Devils

Pete is a big Duran Duran fan and this track is related to that band. The Devils was formed by Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy in 2002. Rhodes founded (and is still in) Duran Duran and Stephen Duffy was their singer before they were famous. The album features songs that Duran Duran recorded as demo's, but never recorded professionally (before Simon Le Bon came along).

"For What It's Worth" by The Cardigans

When I was on holiday a few years ago, I bought some dodgy random CDs including the album "Long Gone Before Daylight". Although it can appear a little lightweight at the first listen, this song is really catchy and has some great lyrics about the word love: "The four letter word got stuck in my head, the dirtiest word that I've ever said".

"Satellite" by Guster

I heard about Guster via the website of one of my favourite bands: Barenaked Ladies. So I took a punt on their album "Ganging Up On The Sun" and this standout track has an acoustic feel that I really like.

"Fuzzy" by Grant Lee Buffalo

I can't recall where I first heard this song, but I love its lolloping atmospheric style. It's a well produced track and one of those songs that is great to play at night with the lights down low. The band were close to one of my favourite bands, R.E.M. and toured with them a few times.

"Glastonbury Song" by The Waterboys

I'm not really much of a Waterboys fan and think that "Whole Of The Moon" is an annoying song! That being said, I like this track and it is also worth checking out the song "Fishermans Blues".

Here are some short samples of the tracks:

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Seasons greetings!

Happy Christmas to you all!

Has Stephen gone mad? Well, quite possibly, but not in this case.

As my Mum and Dad are off to their house in Cyprus for a few months, this weekend I am in Kent celebrating Christmas with the family - including a full Christmas lunch shortly! Not all of the family are here unfortunately, as Pete has taken his Mum to Montpelier for a long weekend for her birthday (you can see some pictures he took via "5 on the fifth #5").

I arrived last night for a small party to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday (which is actually at the end of the month) and we also watched the fireworks at the local pub. The village pub was packed last night, which was good to see and there was a band playing too. I thought the band was excellent, but my Dad said that they were far too loud!

Talking of all things Christmas… At the moment, adverts are being shown for Disney’s A Christmas Carol. Now, I am no literary expert, but I’m pretty sure that the Exec’s at Disney did not write this fine tale and it was, in fact, the great Charles Dickens. It annoys me to hear such artistic deception.

The last posting “5 on the fifth for November” was pretty successful with the number of contributors creeping into double figures and providing some highly entertaining photographs. Hopefully next month I can get a few more people involved. A couple of names were missing this month - you know who you are!


I watched The Boat That Rocked the other night and was very disappointed. UK Pirate radio of the 1960's is an fascinating topic to base a film around and it could have made a classic comedy. However, it failed on so many levels, not least the fact that it was way too long and not actually very funny. The only good point was that one of the main characters was played by the rather-cute-posh-totty-actor Tom Sturridge. The radio stations back then had real personalities and played every type of music to an eager nation. I appreciate that music is now more readily available, but our radio stations are bland, with the same lacklustre playlist and derivative DJs. I wont start on this again as I mentioned this in a blog posting ages ago.

I am preparing another "Songs you might like" entry today, so watch this space.

So finally... seasons greetings to all my readers!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Five on the fifth #5

Welcome to "Five on the fifth", a monthly posting that benefits from audience participation. You take 5 photographs on the fifth of the month and post them somewhere on the net - then post a comment here with your name, location and link to the blog/picasa/flickr site containing your photos and I will update the blog entry with your information. This month you can take your own 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme of colour.

My own pictures are below the links of those who kindly contributed:

Made in Britain, Scotland
Marie, Stockholm, Sweden
Pete, on a TGV heading south in France
Stevie B, USA
Dit, Los Angeles, USA
David, Brighton, UK
Mannanan's Cloak , Isle of Man

Here are my own colourful choices:

1. Duck
2. Travel books
3. Leaves from the playing field
4. My computer screen
5. An autumn flower