Monday, 30 January 2012

Michael Ball... no, not the singer

Former Everton and Manchester City defender Michael Ball has been fined £6,000 by the Football Association for homophobic comments posted on Twitter. He has also been released by his club Leicester.
Ball messaged Coronation Street actor Antony Cotton, who is openly gay and plays Sean Tully in the soap. Cotton was appearing in I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! 

Ball wrote: "That ****ing queer. Get back to your sewing machine in Corrie you moaning bastard."
I have no sympathy for Ball. He is a sad little man, but I actually think the fine should have been more and the Police involved.

It wasn't a witty, silly throwaway comment; it was filled with hate. You don't call someone a f***ing anything and not mean something deeper. And he made it far worse by messaging the actor directly. What is his problem?!
If any public figure wrote something like this about any religious group, he would possibly have been arrested. Also, he should really have known that his "thoughts" would be seen by many people.
The topic of gay footballers is for another day, but immature, pathetic, bigoted fools are holding professional gay footballers back by promoting hatred. The man is a fool.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Coming soon...

An Instagram led idea...

Your help is required

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Edinburgh at night

I have been in Edinburgh for a couple of days, working hard of course.  I had a stinking headache when I finished on Thursday, so I decided to take a couple of painkillers and go for a walk in the cold evening air to clear my head. I took a few pictures en route...

Thursday, 26 January 2012


What if... some of the top films in recent years had actually been remakes? Artist Peter Stults has taken this thought and designed posters for movies that could have been made decades ago, but were not. Brilliant idea!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Fund managers... it's mainly guesswork

With the announcement today that economic growth in the UK has stalled badly, despite the experts forecasting and re-forcasting constantly that we were out of recession, here is a financial blog post.

The facts tell us that only a third of UK Equity fund managers will outperform the market.  That means, if you choose "active" investments (and many aren't that active), you have more chance of underperforming a low cost tracker than outperforming it. It makes you wonder why anyone would choose a fund manager and not go passive.  Anyway, that's a big topic and one for another day.

The reason for this posting is that, working in financial services, I like to look back sometimes and see what the so-called experts said in the past.  The FTSE 100 index finished 2011 at 5,572.  Have a look at the chart below of predictions printed in The Standard in December 2010.  100% of the experts were way out - the least wrong was still very wrong and UBS incredibly wrong!

So these highly paid people were poor in their predictions and have been wrong year after year after year. Amazing!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Answers on a postcard please

I was stuck in a jam on the M25 yesterday morning (in fact, every time I have been on the M25 this year). I was parked next to this truck and someone had written in the dirt on the rear doors.

Does anyone know what it means?!  It made me smile anyway.

Monday, 23 January 2012


Well the first posting of 'The Question' was more successful than I had expected. A varied group of contributors and comments flying about. It was interesting to read that some people answered with something personal, others with the aim of helping others and some a little strange!

Thanks for playing... we'll do it again this time next month. If you have any suggestions for the next Question, please leave a comment.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Q1 - January 2012

Welcome to 'The Question'... a single question to be answered by bloggers on the same day, with the aim of sparking some conversation, debate and shared experiences on various blogs around the world. If you choose to answer The Question, please add your link to my page and therefore, I hope that responses will then be compared.

The question this month is:

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

Although I am more than comfortable with my sexuality, I still have those moments where I am not totally honest about it. It's just easier to avoid 'that conversation' about being gay sometimes and that's wrong for many reasons. Whether at work or in a social setting, if I had no fear and knew that the outcome would be positive, I would be far more honest and open.
A far less serious situation would be... busking!  I can play the guitar to a sufficient amateur level and I am pretty sure my singing is (just about) listenable. So if I knew that no-one would judge me, I would play for the passing public. 

Both situations revolve around confidence of course. Some days I am low on confidence and much of that is about worrying what other people would think or say about me. There was a time when none of us cared what other people thought. Take the time when you were learning to walk. If you worried about people laughing when you fell, time and time again, you would have given up trying! So perhaps, it's time to take a risk - just imagine that you can't fail and try it anyway...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

360 from The Shard

The Shard, for those who don't know, is a stunning skyscraper that is currently emerging from the ground in London.  Not that long ago, it was a concrete tower surrounded by cranes.  It is now a glimmering construction that can be seen from 20+ miles away and is nearing completion.

Once finished, it will house offices, a hotel, homes (for very rich people), restaurants and a viewing deck. I understand that it will cost £20 to get to the top.

In a year or so, the building will look something like this...

A brilliant photographer called Will Pearson has taken a 360 image from the top of The Shard. It's an amazing photo and well worth checking out HERE.  I am not sure exactly how he did it, though it was obviously multiple images, but I am glad he did! The image below is a very small part of the photo:

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Not safe for work

Clothes designer Andrew Christian has made a video to promote his underwear featuring some nice looking guys. It took me a while to track down the uncensored version, but here you go - definitely not safe for work!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


When I worked with Andrew, I used to write a lot of internal communications (which I am sure he loved to read). One "trick" that I used occasionally in longer emails/attachments was to put something in the text to see if people had read that far.  Sometimes I made an obvious error and waited for someone to spot it. At other times I would write something like "The first person who has read this far and emails me will win a prize!".

What I didn't realise was that there is a term for such entries; they are called Mountweazels.  The main reason that Mountweazels are added to text is to help spot plagiarism - i.e. a copyright trap.

There are lots of text Mountweazels but also some graphical ones too. Some street maps have rogue streets included to help with copyright control.

There are said to be many fictitious entries in various Encyclopaedias and books, including The New Columbia Encyclopedia from 1975 contains a fictitious entry on Lillian Virginia Mountweazel (1942-1973). Her biography claims she was a fountain designer and photographer, best known for Flags Up!, a collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes. It was all a lie!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Torres still rules

It's been a long time since I found an excuse to share some pictures of the super-sexy Fernando Torres. OK, I don't need an excuse... he cant score a goal these days, but he's still gorgeous. The second one looks like fun, but I particularly like the last one. :-)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Frosty morning walk

Yesterday in North Hertfordshire was a beautiful winter's day.  With deep blue skies and a frost overnight, we decided to go for a 7 mile walk across the fields and through the woods to Pete's Mum's house. We cheated and got a bus home as it got cold in the afternoon!

We stopped off in town for a coffee and to buy lunch and despite a couple of long hills, it was a fine walk. Here are a few images from the morning. If you look very carefully at the last picture, you will see a Stag in the woods.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Spot the difference

Pete's 85 year old uncle enjoys painting watercolours (and he's very good at it too) and for Christmas 2010, he gave us this original painting of a square in Paris.  At Christmas we tracked it down and I took a close(ish) picture to show him.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Question #1 - Due date: 22nd January

Welcome to 'The Question'... a single question to be answered by bloggers on the same day, with the aim of sparking some conversation, debate and shared experiences on various blogs around the world.

On Sunday 22nd of January, I will post 'The Question' along with my response. You can add your link to my page and therefore, I hope that responses will then be compared.

The question this month that you can post an answer to on the 22nd was suggested by Anon':

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

January movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on the IMDB.

Adventureland (2009) 7
Witty comedy with a great 80's soundtrack.
Son of the Bride (2001) 7
An Argentina comedy drama (don't we all just love a comedy from Argentina?!) that follows a stressed out restaurant owner who wants to escape the ratrace.

The Hangover Part II 2011 3
I found the first film mildly amusing, but this was awful. It's just a rehash and the fat character is simply annoying. Nobody would call him a friend. Very weak trash.

Bolt (2008) 8
Great animation and storyline that zips along. 

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) 6
It was OK, but ran out of ideas and drifted to a finale.

Orphan (2009) 7
A horror thriller that is quite disturbing. A 7.5 really.

New Year's Eve (2011) 6
We watched this in Paris on Christmas day. A bit too much rah rah American screaming - but watchable. Is the ball dropping in Times Square really that interesting?

Unknown (2011) 7
Thriller set in Berlin. If you can ignore mistakes with locations, you'll be drawn in.

Super 8 (2011) 7
Another 7.5 - a bit of Spielberg alien fun with some great acting from the kids.
The Salt of Life (2011) 6
Italian comedy. 
I Am Number Four (2011) 7
Features the sexy and gorgeous Alex Pettyfer. 'nuff said. Actually, I enjoyed this film!

Magnum Force (1973) 8
Classic Clint Eastwood. Brilliant thriller.

Brick (2005) 7
Would have received an 8 if I could have understood what they were talking about.

Thor (2011) 4
A bit stupid and saturated in CGI which spoiled many scenes for me.
The Last Picture Show (1971) 7
Another classic film that I had not seen until now. I loved the atmosphere, though it was a little long. I cant understand how lead actor Timothy Bottoms (yes, a bad name!) did not become a huge star.

Life is a Long Quiet River (1988) 6
Babies are switched at birth - watch the outcome once it comes to light.

Same Time, Next Year 1978 3
Very obviously based on a play - too many long speeches. Alan Alder is a great actor but this film failed on many levels.

The Girl Cut in Two 2007 5
Very average French film.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

DIY 'n' stuff

Yesterday I spent much of the day finishing off the 'special' room that I have built at the end of the garage.  I have mentioned this room before and it was pretty much complete apart from the wall under the window.  So I built a wooden frame, added insolation, covered it and connected a windowsill!  And finally, I put up some blind. Not being a pro at DIY, it took most of the day.

The room could do with painting, but now it's a fully usable room with insolation better than a Norwegian ski lodge and has carpet, TV and some gym equipment.  I am very proud of building a new wall and false walls, ceiling, moving plugs and lights etc, but do realise that it's taken too long to finish and is a bit... errrrm... amateur in places!

I was aching this morning from all the manual labour! Even so, I had promised Pete that we would go for a bike ride. We cycled to his Mum's house and back (16 miles-ish). There are some horrible hills en route. I have figured out that, despite running a bit lately, cycling uses very different muscles!

I therefore think that it could be a good idea to cycle as well as run, to build up my leg muscles.  Anyway, I took a picture of this hairy chap while we were out.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


I was in London yesterday for work and it was a beautiful sunny day in The City. I was lucky with transport links, so I was a bit early and wandered around for 20 minutes taking some iPhone pics and putting them through Instagram and took a few on the way home too.  This was my day...


Coming soon to a blog near you...
The Question. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Amir's chest

I have little interest in boxing. I don't quite understand the thrill of watching 2 guys try to beat each other up. In fact, here's a quick fact for you: the boxing glove actually makes it easier for a guy to kill another guy, compared to bare knuckle fighting. When fighting without gloves, you have to be careful not break your hand so your don't punch as hard. Therefore, far more men were brain damaged and killed once gloves were invented.
Anyway... I may not like boxing, but I know a sexy boxer when I see one. For years I have fancied Amir Khan and as I saw him on TV last night, I thought I'd share some pictures. He has lovely eyes, obviously fit body and is always so polite when interviewed. However, I have noticed that someone sees fit to shave his chest sometimes - if he wants a volunteer, he just has to call!

And this image doesn't leave much to the imagination!


Coming soon to a blog near you...
The Question. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Hump day

It's Wednesday already and the start to the working year has been fine so far!  A new year tends to make me focus on the future. I have made the error of announcing resolutions on this blog before. Making very specific resolutions can sometime lead to stress and pressure when I don't fulfill them!  So let's keep it a bit more generic this year. I want to "do more" this year... as simple as that. In other words, I intend experiencing a few more things and stop procrastinating.

If I must specify one... it would have to be continue the process of "coming out" at work and be even more open out of work.

Good luck with your own resolutions!


Coming soon to a blog near you...
The Question. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Coming soon to a blog near you... The Question

The end of '5 on the fifth' meant that I am no longer part of a wider regular blogging community. Therefore, I propose a new monthly posting called 'The Question'.
I will post one single question (probably suggested by one of you) and if you want to take part, you can post your answer on your own blog. You can add your link to my page and therefore, I hope that responses will then be compared and spark some conversation, debate and shared experiences.

You could call it a limited meme, but I hope it will be more than that. Some questions may be simple, some indepth, some innocent, some reaching, some lighthearted. For example, the first question could have been Do you have any New Years resolutions and if you wont be making any, why not?

Please suggest a question for the first posting later this month by adding a comment. I am really looking forward to hearing your ideas. I thought I would run this for a couple of months and get your feedback.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

55 amazing facts

To start 2012, here is the longest blog posting I have ever published! I yoinked it (and edited) from the BBC...  Happy New Year!

1. Birds binge drink - birds that were thought to have died from avian flu in Romania instead apparently drank themselves to death on grape waste.

2. Women's tears reduce sexual desire in men.

3. Princess Diana had two wedding dresses - one a back-up design in case her first choice was revealed before the big day.

4. Huskies can smell thin ice. 

5. Good cops are better at getting confessions than bad cops.

6. The average hug lasts three seconds.

7. Elton John has no mobile phone. 

8. Incan brides had to peel a potato to prove they would be a good wife.

9. UK postal workers get through two million red rubber bands a day.

10. The ransom paid to release Richard the Lionheart, captured in 1192 on his return from the Crusades, was the equivalent of about £2bn in today's money.

11. People with full bladders make better decisions.

12. About 40% of skyscrapers due to be completed in the next six years will be in China.

13. YouTube's first video was called "Me at the zoo".

14. The average person uses 20,000 words, with another 40,000 in reserve. [The average chav uses 100 words]

15. One in six people live in India.

16. The word "loo" dates from medieval times, thought to have derived from the warning shout of "gardez l'eau!" given by those tipping chamber pots out the window.

17. Seat belts are banned on some roads in Estonia that cross frozen lakes and rivers.

18. Male humpback whales play "Chinese whispers" across 6,000km. 

19. Swearing relieves pain.

20. A rare version of God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols is the most valuable record of all time. 

21. French police are currently allowed 25cl of wine or a small beer with their lunch while on duty.

22. The perfect nap lasts 26 minutes. 

23. New York taxis used to be red and green, but in 1907 were all repainted yellow to be visible from a distance. 

24. It costs $60,000 to train a Navy Seal dog - like the one that accompanied US special forces on the Bin Laden operation.

25. Humans stare longer at people with bad reputations.

26. There are only two beret factories left in France. 

27. It is illegal to sell moon rocks in the US. 

28. Vultures are better than sniffer dogs at searching large, overgrown areas for dead bodies. 

29. The odds of scoring two hole-in-ones in the same round of golf are 67 million-to-one.

30. Chimps can outperform eight-year-olds in solving problems. 

31. Sonic the Hedgehog's shoes are based on Michael Jackson's footwear in the Bad video. 

32. Half of Britons have German blood.

33. The US only got its first roundabout in 1990, in Nevada. 

34. The male water boatman insect sings with its penis. 

35. California has drawn up a legal definition for the hot dog.

36. Cows have best friends.

37. Apple has more cash than the US government. 

38. Uganda's national anthem is the world's shortest.

39. Singing sparrows are actually trading insults.

40. Asda Illustrated is the UK's top-selling magazine. 

41. The average Briton suffers 726 hangovers in a lifetime.

42. The world's atmosphere is worth £4.3 quadrillion, going by the air we breathe in and the price of CO2.

43. Women remember men with a deep voice more than those with a high voice.

44. Australians have a third choice when describing their gender on passport applications. 

45. Yawning cools down the brain.

46. Letters addressed to Kabul include directions - there are few street names and numbers, and no postcodes. 

47. Preston bus station is on this year's list of at-risk cultural heritage sites, along with the Nazca Lines in Peru and a Greek cemetery.

48. One in six mobile phones in Britain is contaminated with poo. 

49. Rival rugby teams face a fine if they stray over the half-way line while the All Blacks perform the haka.

50. Thierville in Normandy did not lose any service personnel in France's last five major wars. 

51. Until 1912 there was no set design for the Stars and Stripes. 

52. In the fifth and sixth decades of life, you are less likely to die over the coming year than at any other time in your life. 

53. Wasps recognise each other's faces.

54. The girl on the classic British road sign "children going to or from school" is based on a school photo of its designer Margaret Calvert.

55. Alcohol tastes sweeter when loud music is playing.