Sunday, 28 February 2010

28 days later

So after 28 days of blogging without a day off, I have reached the final day of the month and the end of this little project.

I've found it tough to come up with something every day, but I hope you've not been too bored! The content has been varied and the readership up a little, but that was never the aim of course.

Normal service has now been resumed.

So with this in mind, 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 March (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is... People (perhaps pictures of people you have met this week or even the first 5 people you see on the 5th?)

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.


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Four King fun

I've not been up to much this other than work. We had a team meeting in London on Thursday which was surprisingly "OK". That's what you call a non-committal view! Pete and I met up and went out for a meal after the meeting. Of course we used a 2-4-1 voucher courtesy of this site. It was absolutely bucketing down in London on Thursday night, so we had to run to the tube. We still got soaked.

The weekend also looks like it's going to be wet, so I cant see us doing much. We are going to a friends for dinner tonight and I am making the starter and I have opted for a Nigella Lawson recipe that I thought sounded interesting, but I've never made before. It's called a triple cheese and onion strata. We shall see how it turns out!

While listening to the radio in the car the other day, the presenter was talking about bad names for products and one really made me laugh. So here is the proof...


Friday, 26 February 2010

The importance of being English

A few months ago, I wrote a guest blog for my friend Andrew. I have decided to edit the text a little and, with Andrews agreement, republish here. It follows on from yesterday's posting and helps to meet my aim of posting 28 times this month! I warn you, it's long (as the actress said etc).
-----------------------------

I would like to discuss the silent majority in Britain… the English.

Andrew is from Scotland and could easily enlighten us why he has national pride without embarrassment or the need for justification. The majority of people living in Britain are English – a varied group of people with many originating from across the globe. Although most are white, a good proportion is of black and Asian origin, but if you look closer and go back just a few generations, the mix is remarkable.

Whatever the original roots, my perception is that the English almost have to apologise before showing any national pride and when they do, they must provide explanation that their views are not racist or against minorities. It’s ludicrous political correctness that benefits nobody and is killing traditions that go back centuries.

National pride can be as simple as celebrating religious and local festivals, supporting the village fete, being part of a local group, getting behind sporting heroes, reveling in our history or flying our nation’s flag. In my opinion, the flag of St George should be flying above every single public building alongside the Union flag, yet has racist connotations due to a small number of evil activists. Let’s take back the flag and connect it with the many many great English achievements that we should be truly proud of.

Having visited Scotland on dozens of occasions (mainly with work), you get a real sense of national pride. It is everywhere, from business names to shop window displays and from local and major events to what people actively say. I am a little jealous that it’s so natural and freely promoted without any PC analysis. It’s not done with a view to put another nation or group down, it’s just ingrained in the national psyche.

If you visit to Wales or Scotland, you can see how national pride can be a positive and inclusive thing – irrespective of race and religion. Take the loony councils who want to ban the word “Christmas” stating that it may offend minority groups… it offends no-one and simply divides communities! Being fully inclusive allows everyone to enjoy English traditions. And for religious festivals, appreciating what they stand for means that over time, other faiths will be naturally included as part of English tradition.

Minority groups, whether based on racial, religious, sexuality or any other type, actively promote and celebrate their individuality and we must not be afraid to campaign for Englishness despite the local councils only looking to support minorities. I would love to keep our ways alive and welcome all kinds of people into this wealth of history and tradition, but is it possible to engineer such a thing?

Scum like the BNP have got it completely wrong. Those that want to maintain traditions and observe Englishness don’t have to be English and anyone can make a contribution to society, so let me make it very clear: this rant is all about inclusion and celebration. It’s great to be British and it’s great to be English.

The English have an outstanding history and number of traditions that are being eroded by local councils, politically correct biased media, schools, racists and even embarrassment.
And to end, consider the words of Ray Davies in the Kinks song Village green preservation society

“Preserving the old ways from being abused,
Protecting the new ways for me and for you”

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Anyone but England

A company in Aberdeen is selling t-shirts with the slogan: "Anyone but England" as a souvenir for this year's football World Cup... that Scotland will not be attending.


The press picked up on the story yesterday and some have labelled the t-shirts as racist. There is certainly an argument that negative statements, even in jest, perpetuate the often unfriendly feelings from north of the border.

I think that racist is too strong a word, but I wonder how a Scotsman would feel seeing something negative like this in London? Wouldn't the view be something like "typical English still mistreating the Scots" - but probably far wittier!

If only I knew a nice Scotsman to ask?

We all know that England wont win the World Cup, so the t-shirt is actually redundant anyway!



Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Zeitgeist

I came across the Google Zeitgeist the other day - it's a summary of the top searches made on this search engine/world power. These are the popular global searches in 2009:

1. michael jackson - Some say he was a weird little man, some say he was a genius.
2. facebook - Isn't everyone on there?!
3. tuenti - A Spanish version of facebook... sort of.

4. twitter - Random babble.
5. sanalika - A Turkish version of facebook... sort of. Wonder why it's in the top 10?
6. new moon - Those films.
7. lady gaga - Some singer who I would not recognise if I passed her in the High Street.
8. windows 7 - Ker-ching!
9. dantri.com.vn - An online newspaper from Vietnam! How very strange that it should appear.
10. torpedo gratis - A news service for IT professionals. Again... strange!


And here are the top 10 searches that brought people to my blog via google in 2009. The ones much lower down the list were really weird and I cant bring myself to share them!

1. 100 facts about me
2. edilson nascimento
3. stephen gately rip
4. stade francais calendar
5. letter to 16 year old self
6. corky and the juice pigs
7. thestateofthenationuk
8. moon state uk
9. man crush
10. gay questionnaire



Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ski Cross

The only sport that I have ever been good at is skiing. I really enjoy it and am pretty proficient - if I bothered to work at it, I think I could reach teaching standard.

I used to watch it on TV years ago, but I don't think that downhill works on TV and slalom is great to actually do, but a bit dull on TV.

But now I have found Ski Cross!

I haven't been watching much of the Olympics, but have really enjoyed the Ski Cross racing. It's got to be the most exciting sport at the Olympics.


It's the skiing equivelent to motorcross. Usually 4 competitors race down the course at the same time. The course includes both naturally occurring terrain and artificial features like jumps, rollers and banks.

Catch me at the 2014 Olympics representing Great Britain!





Monday, 22 February 2010

Jack

I was watching Match of the day* yesterday morning and saw the Everton v Man Ure game. I couldn't help but notice that the scorer of the excellent third Everton goal was a young guy called Jack Rodwell. After scoring the goal, he takes his shirt off and runs to hug the cheering fans. Lucky fans - though he was booked for celebrating.

He's no Torres, but he sure is a cute one! At 18, he is playing brilliant football and I think we will see him in a senior England shirt within a few years.

He likes taking his shirt off - on the pitch and at home. Wouldn't you if you were this fit!?!



* For non-UK readers,
Match of the day is a British TV institution - showing top football highlights since 1964.




Sunday, 21 February 2010

Reservoir dog

Yesterday Pete, Max (his brothers dog) and I travelled up the A1 to Grafham Water for a long walk in the warm winter sunshine.

Grafham Water is a reservoir near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire that was built in the 1960's and the 10 mile route was very muddy. There were loads of people out walking and cycling and plenty of little boats on the water.

Despite being a little terrier, Max trotted along quite happily and it was Pete and I moaning about the difficult paths and distance. It took us 4 hours to complete the circuit - which did include getting lost once.

When we got back, we had one very dirty dog, so Pete put him in the old tin bath in the garden. Max was not happy!

It was lucky we went yesterday because, as I type this, it's snowing again!

And finally.... it's worth noting that yesterday morning, I visited a "proper" running shop and their view was that my trainers have probably been a major contributor to my injuries.





Saturday, 20 February 2010

The g word

A while ago I had a comment left on an old blog entry that asked why I had not capitalised the word "God" in a sentence that ended with "thank god". I laughed out loud at this - I found it a bit sad.

I really don't want to get into religion on this blog as it's a one-way rant and words can be easily misunderstood and I have no desire to offend anyone, but...

I am actually a little of envious of people with a belief as they have some written rules to follow, but I personally find religion to be absurd on many levels and amazingly hypocritical (don't get me started on creationism!).

Anyway, each to their own, so please enjoy your God(s) and don't hate other people because they may not agree with you. So my first and last blog comment on religion is partially gay based.

From my experience, Christians tend to ignore certain parts of the Bible, because the section doesn't quite suit them, whereas the famous words: 'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable' from Leviticus 18:22 are relied on as the true word.

Let's consider a certain Iris Robinson, the wife of Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland's first minister. She is a religious woman, believing that "just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual". Her views goes even further with such evil words as: "There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children."

So you would imagine that such a God fearing woman would be above sinning. This 59 year old woman found herself a 19 year old lover and lent him £50,000 which is potentially a criminal offence. For a start, the boy could do far better and if the Bible isn't just fiction, she's in for some trouble from the man upstairs!

In Deuteronomy, there are some great lines for cheating women:

Death punishment for adultery (Deuteronomy 22.22)

“If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman and the woman; so shalt thou put away evil from Israel."

It's also worth noting that 22.20 advocates stoning for non-virginal women when you marry them. Hmmmm.

All in all, I am not surprised at Mrs Robinsons two-faced life as other religious figures have been found out to be liars. But I cant help but think that religion seems to be more about hate and love?

And a friend sent me this great link that does a better job than I at showing how crazy the Bible is.




Friday, 19 February 2010

Speed

I should be running again following a plan that will allow me to run a 10k race in April, but the leg is still painful. It's rather depressing. I need to get back on the road or I wont be fit enough for the 10k, but I have no choice but to rest and carry on taking the pills the doctor gave me.

It's been a dull week, but we are dog sitting for 4 days now. We have Max, who belongs to Pete's brother to look after. We spoil him a bit too much and expect his weight to increase 50% over the next 4 days!

Anyway... I thought the £75 I paid to attend the speed awareness course before Christmas (thereby avoiding points on my licence) was quite a lot of money, until I read this:

In Switzerland, speeding fines are means tested and it's proved very costly for one millionaire driver. Clocked at 100km/h (62mph) driving through a Swiss village, the Ferrari Testarossa driving millionaire has been punished with a 299,000 Swiss Francs fine - the equivalent of about £180,408.

Ouch!



Thursday, 18 February 2010

Cover up

There was always going to be a cover up over the Daily Mail article about the death of Stephen Gately.

The press watchdog has decided not to uphold a complaint about a newspaper comment piece on the death last year of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately. The Irish star's civil partner Andrew Cowles complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about Jan Moir's article in the Daily Mail. The PCC received a record 25,000 complaints about the article, which was perceived by many to be homophobic.

It recognised there were flaws in the article but the price of freedom of expression was that columnists said things which other people might find offensive or inappropriate.


The article was clearly wrong and full of hatred. It highlighted the incompetence of the Daily Mail and it's bigoted views. Draw your own conclusions from knowing that the head of the Press Complaints Commission is also the Daily Mail editor.

It seems that the press can say what it wants and get away with it and any apology it has to give is hidden well away inside the newspaper. This whole episode stinks.

Andrew Gilliver from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation does make a good point: "What's really important about this is the public have said we don't like this, we're not happy with reading this kind of stuff, it isn't what we want to read about people," he said.

Those who buy the Daily Mail should rethink their decision - though they are probably beyond redemption.




Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ha, Ha, Shock, Wow #5

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

HA

HA

A woman gets on a bus with her baby.
The bus driver says: “That's the ugliest baby that I've ever seen. Ugh!”
The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming.
She says to a man next to her: “The driver just insulted me!”
The man says: “You go right up there and tell him off – go ahead, I'll hold your monkey for you.”

SHOCK

If the population of China walked past you in single file,
the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

WOW

I like blond guys and I have always liked Mitch Hewer
(who we first saw in Skins).
His dark hair look is equally as sexy:




Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Computer art

Last night Pete and I visited his mum for a cuppa and a chat. It's typical of Pete that he hinted loudly that pancakes would be nice - and she made some! So we had pancakes last night and will probably have some tonight as it's Shrove Tuesday, i.e. pancake day.

Anyway, I was playing around with a paint package on my PC and came up with this piece of original modern computer art.

Copyright Stephen Chapman 2010 - as if you care! Hi-res versions are available for a small fee.


And it's been a long time since I produced a Wordle. So here is one using the ratings and reviews from "
The best and worst gay films... so far" blog entry.




Monday, 15 February 2010

Luke Guldan

Following on from my highly intellectual posting about Edilson Nascimento, here are some pictures of Luke Guldan. This guy is a little too perfect don't you think!?




Sunday, 14 February 2010

Catching up

Yesterday, Pete and I spent the day in London. We just walked and walked, taking in the sights and sounds. We ended the day with a tapas meal - with too much food of course.

I bought a couple of work shirts, 2 CD's (to complete my Beatles collection), a faux leather jacket, a book on sketching and a couple of coffees.

Walking back to the station, a slightly drunk homeless guy approached us and I thought, here we go again, but he started firing jokes at us - some of which were funny, so Pete gave him a pound. The only one I remember properly was...

- What do you give the paedophile that has everything?
- A bigger parish.


On the way home, we had 20 minutes to kill before the train at King's Cross, so we walked through St Pancras International station next door, that was emptying after its usual busy day and I took this photo balancing the camera on a railing:


Today is going to be a relaxing one: hopefully a run (after weeks of injury), plant some seeds, read the papers, watch some football and rugby on TV and a valentines meal this evening!

I am exactly halfway through the month of a blog entry every day. 14 down, 14 to go...



Saturday, 13 February 2010

The best and worst gay films... so far

Note:  There is an update to this post HERE.


I went through a phase of watching gay movies, hoping to find a classic and I think I found some great films. The downside of the excercise was I had to watch a few duds! However, you need to see all kinds of films to appreciate the good ones! This is my list, taken from my ratings on IMDB:

Presque rien 9
A brilliant film on so many levels with some great acting and it just happens that the lead characters are cute guys getting it on.

C.R.A.Z.Y. 9
This French Canadian film struck many chords with me as I identified with the lead character Zac - feeling like the odd one out in a family with older brothers.

Milk 9
So much has been said about this great film - it really makes you think.

Get Real 8
A feel good movie with some really funny lines. The lead actor, Ben Silverstone plays a great part.

Krámpack 8
One gay and one straight friend figure at who they are over one hot summer on the Spanish coast. "Krámpack" is their word for mutual masturbation.

La mala educación (Bad education) 8
From the Spanish film maker extraordinaire Almodovar - too complex to describe the plot! Stars Gael García Bernal.

Just a question of love 8
A tender gay love story. This one is unusual as the lead character is actually played by a gay actor (Cyrille Thouvenin).

À cause d'un garçon (You'll get over it) 7
Tough and touching coming out story.

Grande école 7
The cute Salim Kechiouche pursues a college student who is unsure of his sexuality.

Juste un peu de réconfort (A Little comfort) 7
Teens in lurve.
Les roseaux sauvages (The wild reeds) 7
Coming out story set in 1960's rural France.

Maurice 7
This would have been the first gay film most gay guys my age would have seen - and all would have fallen for Scudder.

Mysterious Skin 7
Drugs, violence and sex.

Beautiful Thing 7
Oh come on, everyone knows this one!

Shelter 7
A believable gay story set among surfer dudes.

Defying Gravity 6
A nice story, but it's a shame the main actors are so awful!

My Beautiful Laundrette 6
Not sure whether to include this - but it's a film that appears on Film 4 sometimes.

Cowboys & Angels 6
Sweet Irish film - worth a view.

Head On 6
Heavy stuff with drugs and violence, but worth checking out just to see Alex Dimitriades with a chubby!

Latter Days 6
L.A. gay guy who sleeps with anything falls for a surprisingly fit Mormon.

Brokeback Mountain 5
I think that I am meant to like this one, but I found it slow, dull and unbelievable.

Ha-Buah (The bubble) 5
Depressing.

Les chansons d'amour 5
I don't like musicals very much, so this was always going to suffer it terms of rating. A cute clip here though.

The Living End 4
Just not very good.

Love Is the Devil 3
Possibly Daniel Craigs only really bad film.


I've left a couple off the list as the films were not what I called a gay movie, it might just have a gay character or sub-plot, for example the excellent The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. You may have other views and films to share - so please leave a comment.



Friday, 12 February 2010

Pictures from Rutland

As promised in my post from Monday, here are some pictures I took during our visit to Oakham and Hambleton. Captions accepted for the first one!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Happy 18th birthday Taylor

He's legal in so many more places today...





Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Glee

Am I the only gay man in the world who doesn't like Glee?

Am I the only gay man that thinks it should appeal only to 13 year old girls?

Am I the only gay man who feels the "music" is poor and extremely twee?

Am I the only gay man that sees the characters are 2D stereotypes?

Am I the only gay man who questions why the footballing jock has a tattoo aged 16 and looks 26?
- well at least he (Cory Monteith) is sexy.

Am I the only gay man that finds it a bit embarrasing to watch?

Obviously I am!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Halifax and Nat West adverts

Has anyone in the UK seen that awful Halifax advert set in a radio studio? Who on earth thought that this was funny, let alone a good piece of marketing?! It looks like it was made by some film students high on skunk. To put it bluntly, when an advert is too embarrassing to watch, the advertisers have missed the point. Here is a link to it - there's no way I am embedding it into this blog!

And when bloggers (here and here) are slagging it off too, maybe it's time to drop it.

Another terrible financial advert is the one from Natwest which shows a financial adviser (who looks more like a used car salesman) visiting a lady who wants her kids to be savers. I have a major problem with this advert:

During the piece, the adviser says "That would look like bank accounts, it would look like investment bonds..."

NO it would not look like investment bonds!!! An investment bond is a lump sum product with relatively high minimum investment amounts. It would never be suitable for a child to save into given that you cant pay in regular amounts and anyway, the child would be a non-taxpayer so this plan could well be unsuitable anyway. How can this crap get past Natwest compliance and not piss off the FSA?!

I am not saying that Natwest advisers are doing a bad job, it's just that this advert does nothing to improve the image of financial professionals.



Monday, 8 February 2010

Out on the peninsular

Pete, his mum and I have spent the weekend in Oakham in the county of Rutland. We visited Pete's aunt and uncle and to give the oldies a chance to gossip, Pete and I explored the area (including a low walk on Sunday after breakfast) and the two of us stayed in a lovely hotel in Hambleton.

I find the location sadly interesting. Let me explain... once upon a time the village of Hambleton was surrounded by fields and had two small villages nearby called Nether Hambleton and Middle Hambleton. When the reservoir, which became Rutland Water was built, these two villages were demolished and the road to Normanton severed forever.

So now, Hambleton sits on a peninsular and is a beautiful ancient village with views across the lake. The village contains the 12th century church of St Andrew, a pub/hotel called The Finch's Arms, where we stayed and a hotel called Hambleton Hall.

The Finch's Arms was very impressive. A wonderful room with a stunning view, open fires and top notch food and service. If you want a great weekend away, I would recommend this whether you want a relaxing getaway or want to try out some watersports on the reservoir. I will post a few pictures later in the week.




Sunday, 7 February 2010

Fishy handjob

This entry has been pre-posted... Call me childish, but I laughed when I saw this headline on Yahoo!:

I really cant comment on the rights and wrongs of sexual relations with fish as I have no experience of such a fettish, but I suspect that the staff at Yahoo giggled as well when they wrote this.

An alternative scenario could be that a girl has a thing for one of the gang members in West Side Story, which would explain the girl getting down to business with a shark.

We will never know...