Saturday, 31 July 2010

Ha, Ha, Shock, Wow #7

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



I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather.
Not screaming in terror like the passengers on his bus.


'Jedi' is an official religion, with over 70,000 followers, in Australia. 


England Cricketer Simon Jones

Thursday, 29 July 2010


This is a poem read at Rhythms Of The World at the weekend, by a crazy old couple from the southern states.  It made me laugh (and the others in the audience).
It's by Wallace McRae...
"What does reincarnation mean?" a cowpoke asked his friend.

His pal replied, "It happens when yer life has reached it's end.

They comb yer hair and wash yer neck and clean yer fingernails,
And lay you in a padded box away from life's travails.

The box and you goes in a hole, that's been dug into the ground.
Reincarnation starts in when you're planted 'neath the mound.

Them clods melt down, just like your box and you who is inside,
And then you're just beginnin' on yer tranformation ride.

In a while the grass will grow upon yer rendered mound.
Till some day on yer rendered grave a lonely flower is found.

And say a horse should wander by and gaze upon that flower

That once was you, but now's become yer vegetated bower.

The posey that the horse ate up, with his other feed,
Makes bone and fat and muscle, essential to the steed.

But some is left that he can't use and so it passes through,
And finally lays upon the ground, this thing that once was you.

Then say by chance, I wanders by and sees this on the ground
And I ponders and wonders at this object that I found.
I thinks of reincarnation of life, and death, and such
And comes away concluding: Slim, you ain't changed, all that much."

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Underground art at home

In our living room we have 3 wooden square frames with space for images around 18cm square.  My plan was to change the artwork on a regular basis, but have been a bit lax lately.  However, for the latest art show, I have taken an iconic image and amended it slightly to produced 3 new art forms.  I expect the copyright police to come-a-calling.

Many of you will know the Underground map, but without the place names and the Thames, can you spot the locations?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Rythyms 2010

Pete and I spent most of the last two days at the Rhythms Of The World festival in Hitchin.  It was a brilliant and tiring weekend!  The festival features dozens of artists from around the world and across the UK.  We witnessed some wonderful performances and I am sure we missed lots of good ones too as there was so much going on across the 6 stages.

As the weather was so nice, it brought out the fit lads (some very very fit) with their tops off.  Nice!  Last year saw 26,000 attend over the 2 days and I hope the same have turned out this year.  The people that come along are from every part of the community:  the rich, the poor, the kids, the oldies, the weirdos, etc.

Seeing some artists makes me regret not taking any musical instrument seriously.  Might treat myself to a banjo and a bongo.

Something that occurred to me today as was eyeing some really beautiful guys... good looking people flock together. Anyway, here are some pictures I took today.   By the way, last year's event was the start of
5 on the fifth.

1.  Weirdos

2.  Cute guy from The Bay Brothers
3.  Random teen dancing
4.  Random topless guy
5.  The Bay Brothers (anyone else think the one on the left is really cute but needs to lose the stupid long hair?)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

A challenge

This is an in-joke in our house but I have decided to share it with you and turn it into a bit of a challenge.  This is for UK readers only... sorry.

When Pete and I go into any charity shop (as it's important to support them) looking at the books, DVDs and CDs, we often see the same CD for sale. The album in question is "K" by Kula Shaker.  
I therefore challenge you to go into 3 charity shops in your town and I am confident that you will find the CD in one of them.  It really works!


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Gay Corrie

Years ago I used to watch the Soaps, but for a decade or more I've had no interest.  I watch Eastenders perhaps twice a year and never see the awful Hollyoaks (where the kids seem to have lots of money but will die before they leave college).  The longest running of the Soaps is Coronation Street of course - the little street where everyone goes to the pub for lunch every day and every evening and then complain that they have no money.

It was the last of the Soaps to introduce a gay character and the odd time I've seen him, I have cringed at how embarrassing the character is and been annoyed at how little thought the Coronation Street producers have invested into a quality gay storyline.

Actor Anthony Cotton plays Sean Tully and it surprised me that a gay man playing a gay man is happy to act the part of the worst stereotype I've seen on TV.  It seems that the writers referred to the TV from the 1970's for their inspiration.

The character is overtly camp, which helps to make him a letter less threatening for the viewing public I suppose.  He rarely makes a comment about men or gay lifestyle, you don't see a serious long term relationship develop (like others on The Street), by far the majority of his friends are women and he works on a sewing machine in a clothing factory!  The writers of Soaps are often a little lazy with storylines, but at least you can appreciate the care they take when building a character.  In this case, I see nothing but corner cutting and the need to use stereotypes to avoid having to do some serious thinking.  It's strange, because the Todd gay storyline from a few years back was imaginative and had real drama... without the camp overtones.

There are gay men around who are camp, but none who seem to exhibit all of the worst stereotypes the Corrie individual has.  This situation does nothing to help people see gay men and women as just everyday people.

Even gay Eastenders actor John Partridge has said that he doesn't want to come across as a stereotype and although there will be aspects of that I'm sure, it's refreshing to hear his opinion.
I miss the shock and eventual admiration that Queer Of Folk invoked all those years ago.  Maybe I'm just showing my age now.  Having said all this, John Inman in All You Being Served was so over the top, that it was funny!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A weird coincidence

For those that read the blog entry I posted on Sunday, you will recall that I mentioned that Pete and I went out on Saturday night and met a guy called Tom.  I do remember that he mentioned that he comes from near where I grew up in Kent but we didn't talk too much about work.

Well... my brother has been in touch to say a guy also called Tom, who is doing some decorating work for him, asked him yesterday if he had a brother living in Hertfordshire.  They pieced it together and found that by pure coincidence, I had been drinking with him on Saturday night!

Tom had figured that I looked just like my brother, but just without the thick black hair.

It's a weird small world sometimes.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Top tracks - Death Cab For Cutie

This is a new feature on my blog - the top tracks from a favourite artist of mine. This time around I have chosen a group that I only heard about a couple of years ago. Finding out about a group that has an existing catalogue is instantly rewarding as you don't have to wait around for new music! The group is Death Cab For Cutie.

Their main man is Ben Gibbard. He is a prolific songwriter and has written songs with and for a number of artists.  Some would describe their sound as 'alternative' and I would put them in a similar space to R.E.M. - making accessible pop and rock songs whilst throwing in some off-the-wall tracks.  They range from heavy indie-rock through to acoustic simplicity.

The band have released 6 albums, a number of EPs and have appeared on some soundtracks too.  The top 20 songs I have selected are mainly from their later albums.  The first couple should be approached with care.  All tracks except Couches In Alleyways can be found on iTunes and Amazon as it's a live bootleg.  I am sure that fans will have their own favourites and I welcome any comments on this blog.
  1. Soul Meets Body (Plans)
  2. I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Plans)
  3. Meet Me On The Equinox (Twilight Saga - New Moon Soundtrack)
  4. Crooked Teeth (Plans)
  5. A Lack of Color (Transatlanticism)
  6. I Will Possess Your Heart (Narrow Stairs)
  7. Your Heart Is an Empty Room (Plans)
  8. My Mirror Speaks (Open Door EP)
  9. Marching Bands of Manhattan (Plans)
  10. Couches In Alleys (Ben Gibbard Live bootleg)
  11. Someday You Will Be Loved (Plans)
  12. The Sound of Settling (Transatlanticism)
  13. Summer Skin (Plans)
  14. A Diamond and a Tether (Open Door EP)
  15. What Sarah Said (Plans)
  16. Brothers on a Hotel Bed (Plans)
  17. Title and Registration (Transatlanticism)
  18. Stable Song (Plans)
  19. Transatlanticism (Transatlanticism)
  20. Bend to Squares (Something About Airplanes) 
Here is a link to the iTunes mix, so you can hear snippets of the tracks (except number 10).

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Atop the Holmesdale

Yesterday was a long, but fun filled day.  I travelled to Southeast London by train, tube and train to see Crystal Palace play Premiership winners Chelsea in a friendly at Selhurst Park.  A good number of the Chapman clan turned up: 1 brother, sister-in-law, 3 nephews and a couple of their friends and my Dad.

For the first time I sat high up on the second tier of the Holmesdale stand.  The view of the football was great and you could see across South Norwood and Thornton Heath.  I pointed out the church where my Mum and Dad were married and he couldn't remember what the church was called!

The football was "OK" - a typical friendly with lots of substitutions and changes of playing style.  I think Palace could have played all day and wouldn't have scored with their lone striker.  A few trialists impressed, but it was the Chelsea players that looked stunningly fit and skillful.  It finished 1-0.

There was a crowd of over 21,000 which is unheard of for a Palace friendly, so thanks to Chelsea for agreeing to play and also bringing lots of fans along.  My ongoing concern about Palace is attracting bigger crowds and the obvious thing is that we have too many white boys.  The local community is Black and Asian and we need to welcome them into the club integrating into the community far better.  This year I am looking forward to the season, whatever it may bring.

I then travelled back on the rails and after a quick meal, Pete and I walked into the local town to have drinks with our newly engaged neighbours (who call us their gaybours as mentioned here) and their rather nice 23 year old friend Tom.  Wow.  I was dehydrated and the wine and beer have left a dull sensation in my head this morning.  It was a good night though.

Today we have to attend a picnic and musical gathering that Pete's Mum is part of.  One of those family things that you can't say no to... unfortunately.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Call centres

We've had some fun at home over the past few days.  The broadband has been playing up, so BT sent a man round who said the line is damaged outside.  Some workman turn up today and dig a hole and in the process cut through the electric power line.  So 4 vans from the electric company turn up, making a mess of the front garden before fixing it.  BT will be back tomorrow... maybe.

Contacting BT has been a challenge.  Many companies have outsourced customer "support" services to the Indian subcontinent and to be honest, I avoid these companies wherever possible.  I have to be careful here, so as not to be accused of being racist.  It doesn't matter to me where in the world I am put through to, as long as I receive a certain standard of service.  Unfortunately, from bitter experience I find remote centres fail on too many counts.  When will these businesses see that the costs they save are offset by constantly bad service for the customer who will vote with their feet.

Three real experiences...

I called a major fund house for some information and the call went like this:

Me:  "I am looking for a prospectus on your XXXX fund"
Call Centre:  "We don't have a fund called XXXX"

Me:  "It's your best selling fund!"
CC:  "That's right"
Me:  "So you have found the fund now?"
CC:  "XXXX is our best selling fund"
Me:  "I know, I just told you that!  So can you email me the information?"
CC:  "What fund would you like information on?"
Me:  "XXXX fund, like I said"

It was a long call and I received zero information anyway!

National rail enquiries outsourced half of it's calls abroad.  I called a while back before the automated voice recognition system that is far better was introduced:

Me:  "Can you please tell me the next train leaving Victoria for West Malling?"

CC:  "There is no such place as West Malling"
Me:  "I believe there is"   I spelled it out.
CC:  "The computer doesn't recognise such a station"
Me:   I spell it out again.
CC:  "Is it near Manchester"
Me:  "No, it's in Kent'.   Long pause.
CC:  "Oh, you mean Weeeest Mearline"
Me:  "Hmmmm"

And the main reason for this posting was Pete's call with BT today that went something like this:

Pete:  "I want to make a complaint about your telephone workmen cutting off our electric supply and the disruption caused today"

CC:    "You want to move home?"
Pete:  "No, I want speak to someone about making a complaint"
CC:    "You want to move home?"

The call went on for a while with Pete getting nowhere and then asking to speak to someone else. The person repeatedly apologised until promising to get someone else to call him back.  After 3 hours, no-one has.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The big smoke

It is 8.15am and I am typing this on my Blackberry sitting opposite the new Louis Vuitton store on New Bond Street here in the west end of London. It's the most bling shop I have ever seen - if that is actually English.

As I am a little early for a meeting,  I thought I would sit and watch the world go by and blog.  I am in London today for an all day meeting with some colleagues and thankfully I am not presenting, though I have had to lug my ancient and heavy work laptop to run the Powerpoint slides on. At what point did we become so reliant on Powerpoint?!

I love coming to London but every time I do I am reminded that commuting is stressful (the blackberry auto text took my mistyping of commuting and turned it into vomiting which made me laugh). The train was too warm and the underground too hot. I have arrived tired and hot.

A couple of days ago I heard an interesting comment about London. I heard this city described as being "like another country" rather than part of England and the UK. The reasoning was that the culture is unique with an amazing mix of people. It is unlike any other place in the UK with the widest swing of wealth in the country, a super-fast pace of life and over a hundred languages being spoken. This has led to the area within the M25 feeling and actually being different to the rest of the country.  Having lived and worked in London, I think that they could well be right.

Monday, 12 July 2010

France pour le weekend

As mentioned in my last blog post, Pete and I went to France on Saturday early and stayed overnight.  We stayed in Calais that despite it's awful 1950's architecture, has some great bars and restaurants mostly missed by the English.  That's fine by me.

We did some shopping on Saturday, followed by a long walk along the beach.  We had a great meal in the evening before walking back to the beach to watch a stunning sunset and chatting to a Swedish guy who spoke perfect English and lives in Calais.

On Sunday we drove down the coast and spent the day relaxing and trying not get get burnt by the summer sun.  We made it back to my parents house in time to watch the World Cup final.  What an awful match! I cant recall a game where petty (and not so petty) violence was part of the tactics. The Dutch were the main culprits, but the diving and play-acting by the Spaniards also leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Not a good end to the tournament, though I believe that the best team won.  I am not sure that our English ref' could have done much more, though he should have sent off Nigel de Jong earlier in the game for a crazy kick in the chest to Xabi Alonso.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the weekend including the view back to the Cliffs of Dover that were incredibly clear on Sunday morning.

Friday, 9 July 2010


I’ve spent the past few days in Edinburgh working with representatives from one of our clients. It’s been a couple of long heavy days.

On Wednesday evening we went to a fantastic restaurant that sits at the top of a building off George Street with views across the city. It was very expensive, but I wasn’t paying so enjoyed an impressive meal. The restaurant was called Oloroso, which a Facebook buddy from Colombia reliably informs me translates as “smelly” in Spanish. I did look it up and thought it translated more as “odour”, but I was corrected and told that he would never eat in a place with such a name!

Once again, Luton airport was a nightmare. I can’t believe how poorly the airport is managed with huge traffic problems and delays getting to car parks all down to amateurish traffic control and the greed of charging people drop passengers off.

Today I am travelling to my parents house in Kent where Pete and I will meet and stay overnight before going to France for the weekend. We may have to go up the pub tonight of course! There’s nothing like a beer or two sitting outside a beautiful 14th Century Inn in the summer.

It’s been around 5 weeks since we had rain and the countryside is more like our “brown and pleasant land” in the southeast of England and it’s going to be another scorcher this weekend. It has been a long while since we have been to France, which we used to do every 6 weeks or so. We are both looking forward to some food, drink, relaxation and shopping. I’ll take a few pictures and post them next week.

Have a fine weekend.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I read a book

I don't read much these days.  When I used to commute, I read lots of books and studied too. I just cant sit at home and read, there are too many distractions and there is Pete...

But, I heard a brief review of a book nominated for the Man Booker prize in 2008 and I just had to buy it.  Amazon says that it's "a witty 700-page romp that has cult written all over it".
The book I have just finished is called A Fraction Of The Whole by Steve Toltz and it's his first novel and it is excellent.  Now for me to read a 700 page book is unheard of but this is something very different.  I cant quite recall something written in this style.  Although the word "witty" is used in many reviews, it's actually more of a black comedy that follows the lives of several generations of a family in Australia (and beyond).

I give it 8 out of 10. It would have been more, but it was a little laboured in the last quarter.  I recommend it as a read for the whole holiday at 700 pages!  Here is the Amazon spiel.

Martin Dean spent his entire life analysing absolutely everything; from the benefits of suicide to the virtues of strip clubs  and passing on his self-taught knowledge to his son, Jasper.  Jasper reflects on the man who raised him in intellectual captivity, and the irony is this: theirs was a great adventure. As he recollects the extraordinary events that led to his father's demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries about his infamous criminal uncle, his mysteriously absent mother, and Martin's constant battle to leave his mark on the world.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Five on the fifth #13

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 - this month it is: "This past weekend" or "I don't like Mondays".

You can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page here.

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

David, Brighton, UK
Pete, Herts, UK
Sonny, London, UK (in New York at the moment)
Biki, Alaska, USA
My time, Dublin, Ireland
New Leaf, Arizona, USA
Dennis, UK
Daniel, Sweden
Michael, Minneapolis, USA
Howard, Delaware, USA
Andrew, Bristol, UK
Scousewemboy, Shropshire, UK
James, Greenwich, UK
I am witness, Washington DC, USA
WannabeeVirginia W, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Brighton rocks

On Friday evening, Pete and I were discussing what to do on Saturday and we decided to do something different.  Pete had seen a voucher for half price entrance to London Zoo, so that was settled... but not quite.  We also added that we should go to the "posh" charity shops in Fulham and Chelsea too.  And maybe go to Jermyn Street as Pete wanted to look at a jacket he'd seen.  But then again, neither of us wanted to get tied up in the Gay Pride crowds (not our scene at all).  Then Pete came up with the idea of going to Brighton for the day, something we had said we would do for years.

So we got an early train into London, a tube journey, then another train to Brighton.  We would have considered getting a hotel, but from experience, Brighton is an expensive place to stay.  Also with the idiotic way that our train tickets are charged, it makes a weekend even more expensive.

On the train were a group of chav lads ages around 20, all with their uniform polo top buttoned up to the top.  Why do idiots need to copy each other?

The sun was shining and Brighton was buzzing.  I have not been there for many years and we had a fantastic day exploring the small independent shops, having a coffee and cake, a beer in a trendy beach bar, sitting on the beach with Fish 'n' Chips and  - a great day all round.

I took a few more pictures and will share them with you tomorrow - d
on't forget that tomorrow is the 5th of the month, so take some pictures and share them with the world.  You can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page here.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Blurb

When I produced my first photobooks, I tried a couple of companies before settling on  I am happy with the software they provide, the print and paper quality* and since they started printing in Europe, the cost is acceptable too.

At the start of each year, I collect the best of my photographs from the previous year and construct the "Holidays & Events" year book.  I've also produced a macro photobook and have just completed the 280 page epic that will become the holiday in the USA.

So... what's my point here?!   Well yesterday I received an email from offering a 20% discount and I want to share that with my readers.  Order your book by July 31 and type in the appropriate promo code at checkout:

USD $ coupon code: LIBERATION
GBP £ coupon code: LIBERATION1
EUR € coupon code: LIBERATION2
AUD $ coupon code: LIBERATION3

If you are interested in perhaps collecting some of your favourite images together in a book, now is the time to do it!

* The print can come out a little dark, so make sure that photographs are not underexposed already.