Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The past month - July 2012

The past month seems to have flown by as we have been so busy.
We started the month with news that Pete had been made redundant without warning. Bucking the trend and considering none of his colleagues have even found interviews, Pete starts a new job in a few weeks time.  He's been lucky, but it's great news.  There are plenty of people struggling to find work, so we appreciate how lucky we are.
I shared two more Olympic hopefuls in the days leading up to the opening of the games with Adam Gemeli and Sam Oldham featuring.
Sky Sports presenter Alex Payne featured showing off his newly acquired muscles.
I got a bit deep and shared a list of the items I thought can lead to happiness - I will be revisiting this shortly.  Your thoughts on this topic are gratefully received.  I opened up to you in other ways, such as coming clean that I am a music snob and proud of it!
Speaking of music, I kicked off my 8 Desert Island Discs choices this month - plenty more to follow on this topic over the next few weeks.

And more music... we went to the local World Music festival (day one and day two) and had a fun, but muddy, weekend.  We now know that numbers were well down on last year, but 21,000 still turned up to beat the weather.
We eventually saw the Olympic flame, as did thousands of others in a small town and millions around the UK. 
In the past weekend, we thoroughly enjoyed two Olympics events and today I am still feeling the effects of insufficient quality sleep!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic Games - Events 1 and 2

Pete and I spent the whole weekend at the Olympics.
The Opening ceremony on Friday night was stunning and I loved it (though the speeches at the end could have been shorter).  It's been covered well elsewhere, but I was surprised to read that some stupid people didn't get it (mainly Americans it seemed) - they missed the wit and technical splendour and the innovative use of film inserts. Without doubt, it puts every other show to shame, especially the overly self indulgent US openings.

On Saturday, we got up early to get to Wimbledon for the tennis despite not getting much sleep.  The journey was fine - though the train was packed. Wimbledon had been given an Olympics makeover (and to my surprise, there were few logos of the sponsors anywhere).  We sat on Henman Hill/Murray Mount in the sunshine for a while and then pumping music started and a flash mob started dancing amoung the thousands of spectators. An amazing start to the day!  Then it got better (especially for Pete, who is a fan), the Pet Shop Boys came on the stage and played 3 songs live!  And with Gethin Jones as main annoucer, we knew it was going to be a great day.
The tickets we had were a bargain - a whole day of tennis, mainly on Court 1, but the outer Courts could be accessed too.  We spent 10 hours there before heading for some food and then to a hotel in Bayswater.

Sunday morning, we headed to a transformed Horse Guards Parade for Beach Volleyball.  The park was buzzing and the arena, seating 15,000 people is huge!  The sport was great entertainment with supreme skill, pumping music, half naked dancers and even an artist on the roof painting the scene.
I must say that the volunteers have been brilliant. So happy, helpful and professional.   I was unexpecting mainly older volunteers, but most are teenagers, which was nice to see. The organisers have worked hard to have signs everywhere, so getting lost was not easy. It's not until you are there that you realise that the organisation of the games is highly complex. Every little things has been planned for the athletes and audience.
A comment on the empty seats.... yes there were some, but these are early rounds so I assume that sponsors and competitors are not using yet.  There are some tickets available, so people should stop moaning and try and get some.

An exhausting weekend, but a lot of fun.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Desert Island Discs - Song 2

Welcome to my Desert Island Discs. I have opted for a different approach to many people; I have divided my life roughly into 8 and picked a track for each period.
Here is song number two of my Desert Island Discs:
Far Far Away by Slade
I was so close to selecting Without You by Nilsson as my Mum loves that song.  It was a tough decision, but she will understand why I had to include some Slade.  It makes me think of her when I hear it anyway and especially of those times shortly after moving to Kent, where they still live today.
My memory of the mid 70's is all based around music - with Radio One always on in the kitchen and music coming through the walls from my Brother's bedrooms.  This track was one I played to death on my little yellow plastic record player and I would happily sing along to it.  I found the single a couple of years ago and it's almost smooth with hardly any grooves!
Unfairly lumped together with the glam rockers, Slade were highly accomplished musicians and songwriters.  Cum On Feel The Noize is a belting rock song and In For A Penny, a wonderful ballad.  I'd also recommend looking up a track that failed in the charts called How Does It Feel which is great.
Far Far Away is perfect for Noddy Holder's gravelly voice and it has hooks throughout. Play it loud!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Gay porn stars?

Please don't confuse the official Russian Olympic uniform with a troop of gay porn stars. It's so easily done.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A celebration

Enjoy the Olympics everyone.  Don't concern yourself with negative politicians, especially twats like Mitt Romney!  Embrace the games and enjoy the next few weeks.
And what better way to start the games, than to see ultra fit and bulging Tom...


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Desert Island Discs - Song 1

Welcome to my Desert Island Discs. I have opted for a different approach to many people; I have divided my life roughly into 8 and picked a track for each period.
Here is song number one of my Desert Island Discs:
American Pie by Don McLean.
In the early 70's, my Dad had 2 or possibly 3 cassettes in his car and played them on rotation.  One album was Jim Croce but the staple diet was American Pie.  I could easily have chosen Till Tomorrow or Vincent (the latter having one of the most perfect melodies ever in the line "But I could have told you Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you" at 2 mins 19 secs), but I have selected the title track.
You certainly get plenty for your money here, eight and a half minutes about the story of the death of Buddy Holly.  I makes me think of times in the car and of my Dad.  He still loves this song and sings along readily.  Never ever settle for the edited version, you need it all to appreciate the story and the quality of the melody.  Not only does this song evoke multiple memories, it's a cracking tune!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Desert Island Discs - introduction

Further to my previous posting, I am embarking on my own Desert Island Disc choices, complete with luxury and book!
With space for 8 tracks, I can only pick one Fleetwood Mac or Beatles song, possibly no Stevie Nicks if I pick Fleetwood Mac.  There is scant room for firm favourites such as Peter Gabriel, John Mayer, The Eagles, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Abba, Eurythmics, Blind Faith, David Bowie, Gin Blossoms, Jellyfish, Matchbox 20, REM, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Simon and Garfunkel or some classic blues or oldies like Buddy Holly or the Everley Brothers and... no space for a comedy record?!
This was always going to be a tough ask... wait and see what I will pick.
So after careful consideration, I have opted for a very different approach.  I have divided my life roughly into 8 and picked a track for each period. So I will not be sharing the best music in my collection, it's more about memories but most are fab anyway!  Tomorrow I will start with song number one and share a fresh song every few days.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

July movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from Lovefilm.com 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.
It's been a month of strange movies and not by design...
Carnage (2011) 2
Appalling. *Spoiler alert* It's about two couples arguing over a fight their kids have. One couple goes to leave, but stays, they argue some more, they go to leave again but don't, argue some more... repeat.
Shrek (2001) 8*
Classic film that still makes me laugh.
Like Crazy (2011) 7
A British student falls in love with her American boyfriend and stupidly outstays her visa. A love story which does make you think about relationships, especially long distance ones.
A Summer Day (2006) 6
French film about a teenager that dies during a football match and the effect it has on the community. Not many laughs!
Louise-Michel (2008) 4
A frustrating black comedy about a group of employees who try to kill their ex box after being laid off. Funny in places, but there were far too many unfunny parts.
Born in 68 (2008) 6
One weird and loooong film about a hippy commune over several generations. Best bit is the gay bit at the end with the very cute Theo Frilet. The movie overall doesn't work and there is way too much filler – could have been 45 minutes shorter!
Another strange movie about a girl escaping from a cult. Could have been good, but was lacking a compelling story.
The Muppets (2011) 8
Both Pete and I grinned all of the way through. Easy 8.5 here with nostalgia aplenty and plenty of wonderful one liners.
A boy and a girl each have a different mother, and those mothers are lovers.  The kids want to know who their sperm donating father was. Black comedy with some funny moments.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Desert Island Discs

I've enjoyed the radio programme Desert Island Discs since I was a child and have often mulled over my own potential choices.  When Pete and I started going out, I made a programme for him (it's on cassette somewhere!) based on a recording of me asking him questions, while drinking vodka.  It started well.
My challenge has always been to filter down the record choices to 8 tracks... an impossible task.  I've mentioned this before, but owned a Jukebox that played 7" singles many years ago and made a list of favourite singles I wanted to buy.  The list contained over 200 songs and if you add in the album tracks, my top tunes number many hundreds and with plenty of different styles.
So now, after all these years, have decided to share my 8 records, book and luxury with you later this week.
If you feel inspired to do the same, join in!

Friday, 20 July 2012


I was "working from home" today and was a bit sneaky... I worked from my parents’ home in Kent so that we could go and see the Olympic torch in a small local town nearby.
The town is usually empty during the daytime, but today there were thousands of people out to see the 3 torchbearers. It was actually a lot of fun with Morris dancers, circus performers, a samba band and more all entertaining the crowds.  This was a local community coming together and the flame itself was almost irrelevant.
There have been so many negative news stories about the Olympics in recent days and it's starting to get on my nerves. This is a HUGE logistical event and mistakes WILL happen, yet the BBC especially is focusing on anything that isn't working.  The Chinese spent twice as much as we will and had their own problems, but do you hear about that?
The media has a tendency to forget that a wasteland in London has been transformed, tens of thousands of local jobs created, many thousands of which will remain after the games due to the new local infrastructure and this is putting Britain in the spotlight.  The bad news stories are not helping. It’s worth noting that the building was done on time and on budget – and the stories about the budgets ballooning are highly misleading.
They are so many good news stories from the Olympics and the legacy it will leave – we really should be concentrating on that.  And I’ve not even mentioned the athletes from all over the world who have been readying themselves for this summer (yes it’s summer, don’t let the weather confuse you).

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Finger plucking fun

I have a new toy to play with - it's called a Guitalele. Basically, it is a quarter size guitar, but with the full neck width so it mostly plays like a guitar but is bigger than a ukulele.  It's sound very different and a bit folky due to the higher nylon strings.
Hours of fun!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly #5

The good:
I have fallen madly in love with model Fransisco Lachowski. I cant get enough of his pictures. Don't be surprised if a couple of blog entries feature this guy! 
The Bad:
I am still disappointed that Scottish and Northern Irish Football Associations stopped young playing from representing Team GB football at the Olympics (the Welsh also wanted to be as petty). I think it's a narrow minded view and selfish from the men in grey suits. These young players could have experienced tournament football for the only time and they have been let down by their FA's in my opinion.

The Ugly:

Bob Diamond and Barclays.  Need I say any more about the underhand and probably illegal goings on?  And then you have HSBC actually helping to launder dirty money!  How do we crack down on the banks as they appear to have lost all self control?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Rhythms Of The World 2012 - Day 2

Yesterday was a brilliant day. We arrived at the site around midday and although the mud was cloggy, the sun was shining. We enjoyed a full day of diverse music and cultures including one of the local choirs, a drum based Brazilian troop, acoustic, soul, rap and Indian music. There was even a girl group who sung some very sweet harmonies and played guitar, ukulele and a bass ukulele (I’ve only seen one of these and that was in Paul Simon’s band).
A highlight was a performance by Blair Dunlop, a BBC young folk musician of the year who played some stunningly amazing guitar – the kind of playing that I dream of. For those that care, he had some wonderful finger picking skills, using some unusual tunings and a folkie vibe to his voice. He had some witty banter, is very talented and I think he will go very far indeed. He was also quite cute!
Given the diversity of instruments on show, I have been inspired to learn more guitar (it’s been a long long time since I practiced properly) and will start by seeing what challenging piece I can use as a basis for further knowledge. I also will be buying a new instrument to play around with, in addition to my mandolin, which I don’t really enjoy playing and the ukulele that I am starting to enjoy noodling about on a lot.
Next year I intend applying to be an official photographer, so I will need to pull together some ‘people shots’ I think to show them and hopefully I will pass their tests.
Here is my poor video of Blair...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Rhythms Of The World 2012 - Day 1

It's been a bad weather day - it was raining hard all morning and we had an event to go to!  As with previous years, once again we are attending the local world music festival, Rhythms Of The World.  The weather in the UK has played havoc with many major events and there were rumours that the 2 day event may not go ahead. Despite the site of the 7 stages (plus other stuff going on) being like a swamp before anyone set foot on it, the show went on.
There was a two hour delay in opening the gates due to the mud I assume, so the queues were huge, but we got in eventually and thankfully the rain held off until about 7.30pm, when we decided to go home and eat.
We saw lots of artists including rockers, soul, blues, acoustic, world music and even some comedy acts.  Here is a video I took of The Magic Tombolinos, who feature a very fit and cute saxophonist/singer.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I am a music snob

If you look at my Twitter feed, there are plenty of entries this week relating to the Stock Aitken & Waterman concert in London that was due to go ahead at the weekend, but was cancelled a few days ago and also far too many comments about Steps.
I do not like and have never liked Steps. There I said it, a gay man not liking this plastic pop shit.  Whatever next?!  The old PWL acts were bad enough (yes, even Kylie), but Steps were embarrassing to watch with their little-girlie type twee dance routines and songs that I assume had been Sonia rejects.  The songs were instantly forgettable.  The dancers (can any of them sing?) were just puppets with Pete Waterman pulling the strings.
The comparison made between PWL and Motown is just not acceptable.  And let's face it, the only person that perpetuates the comparison is Pete Waterman himself.  Yes, both "hit factories" had many hits, but Motown music was cool, PWL was never ever cool.  Motown was amazing, PWL had it's own PR machine telling everyone it was amazing. 
Motown had teams of highly skilled songwriters and some talented session musicians. The songs were crafted and classy - I admit not all of them, but we all make mistakes.  PWL on the other hand had Stock and Aitken throwing songs together with almost identical backing tracks (but Pete made sure he got his writing credit).  If you listen carefully, actually not that carefully, you can work out that the songs would have started life as a title, which became a "catchy" chorus. Verses were added to fill the 3 minutes.  Of the hundreds of songs they produced, only a couple have survived the ravages of time.  The rest deserve to be junked - they are simply low quality.
My musical tastes are varied and yes, there is some saccharine pop on my iPhone that I enjoy, but in the main it's proper music.  Someone somewhere has taken time and effort to mould the song and produce it (even the pop).  There is skill and judgement in action and for many artists I like, you know they have practised hard and stressed themselves trying to get the right sound.  One reason I dislike PWL is that they were happy to repeat the formula until it was almost dead.
The PWL concert that should have gone ahead this weekend would have been painful, but I don't doubt many would have enjoyed it despite themselves - and let's face it, we need variety in this world so I'm not saying that the PWL shit should be banned.  We need the bad stuff to make us appreciate the good stuff (and my good stuff will be another man's bad stuff).  I am sure that the weather played little part in the cancellation however - considering the heavy promotion by Pete Waterman over the past 7 days, it was obvious that it just hadn't sold enough, so perhaps a get out was required.
I honestly don't get the gay fascination with plastic electronic awful music and childish dance moves that Steps, Sonia, Jason Donovan (now there's a man who can't sing) have shared with us over the years.  I will never get it, I'm sure.

Olympic hopefuls #8 - Adam Gemili

In the latest of my series of fit and cute Olympic hopefuls for team GB, let me introduce you to 18 year old (though I think he looks older), Adam Gemili. Not only is this amazingly fit guy in the Olympics running in the 100 metres, he is also a professional footballer with Dagenham & Redbridge!  Don't you just hate him?! :-)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Alex returns

Many many moons ago, I mentioned that Pete had a crush on Sky Sports presenter Alex Payne.  Well, that crush has not subsided and has been heightened by the latest edition of Men's Health.  Alex and a few Sky Sports colleagues have buffed up following an intensive training regime.  Alex has gone from weed to muscle man...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Google fun

The people at Google seem to have too much time on their hands...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Ways to achieve happiness

In Monocle magazine this month, they had a list of "Things to improve your life".  Now, being Monocle, they included silly things like: An island, a prosciutto slicer, good posture, special fancy blankets and a meal at some restaurant in Japan.  The list is just a bit too aspirational and unrealistic apart from a few items, so I thought I would start my own and ask for your comments to add to it.
Having thought of a few things, it appears to me that many of mine would fall into the category of: things I can have confidence in.  So here is my first take on a list of "Things to improve your life":
1.   Really appreciate good health when you have it.
2.   A favourite restaurant and/or bar you can almost feel at home at.
3.   A song or album that you love and no-one else you know has ever heard of it.
4.   Perfectly fitting pants.
5.   A favourite joke to share.
6.   A porn star that you can rely on.
7.   Truly local and fresh fruit and vegetables.
8.   At least 3 meals you can cook brilliantly.
9.   A readily available snack in the cupboard.
10. Do a regular clear out and give to charity.
11. A local place to buy freshly baked bread.
12. BBC Radio 4.
13. Ability to play one entertaining and impressive thing on a musical instrument.
14. An easy interesting route that you can walk anytime to clear your mind.
15. A good coffee maker.
16. Change your routine regularly, especially the route to work.
17. Three months salary saved for an emergency.
18. Turning off the television and having a conversation.
19. Quality shirts that fit well.
20. Write down 3 things at the end of every day that were simply good that day.
Your comments and feedback are especially welcome on this posting.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Good news hidden

I spent a good hour on Wednesday night trying to book rail tickets for 3 of the 4 Olympics events we are attending.  The site is pretty awful, which is sad because there is a flexible and very clever site just under the surface.  Also, there are some great deals to be had.
It's such poor PR!  The train companies are selling cheap rail tickets for those with Olympics events to attend - they are not even charging a peak rate in the week.  They've been very clever and said, it you book in advance, you get a massive discount but you cant travel on just any train - which means that commuters still have a chance to get a train free of people dressed in team GB colours.
Our London office had a visit from Transport For London who basically said, if you think London is busy some days, the Olympics will be many multiples of that!  So, staff who can work from home are being encouraged to do so.  I wonder how many companies haven't quite figured this out?
London is going to be bonkers... in a good way though.
In other Olympics news, we have the flame going past on Sunday - well, just up the road in the next town.  I hope to see if, but we have a BBQ on Saturday, so I may not be up to it!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Olympic hopefuls #7 - Sam Oldham

In the latest of my series of fit and cute Olympic hopefuls for team GB, let me introduce you to 19 year old, Sam Oldham. This very normal looking guy has a body of steel! He is a triple junior European champion and won the men's horizontal bar event at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Huge erection

I am sure that every person that has the chance to go up the Empire State building in New York is both impressed with the view and the structure itself.  The building really is huge, especially compared to minnows like the Gherkin or Canary Wharf.  It amazes me that it was finished in 1931 and so much work was done by hand.
The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Instead of taking 18 months as anticipated, the construction took just under fifteen. Due to reduced costs during the Depression, the final costs totaled only $24.7 million (372.8 million 2012 dollars) instead of the estimated $43 million.
Some images have just been released by the NYPL Digital library and they are very impressive - though not if you suffer from a fear of heights.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


So Pete was made redundant today... by email.  The whole company has gone into administration and closed with immediate effect.  At least we don't have debts and people to support - some of his colleagues are the main breadwinners.  It's all very sad.  The email hinted that there wasn't enough money to pay their redundancy, outstanding pay and expenses.  It really stinks.
Looking on the bright side, Pete can do far better than a company that doesn't appreciate his hard work and hopefully something far better will come along. This may be a good thing in the long run.
In other news... it's still ****ing raining!  How I long for some sunshine...

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Kinsey scale

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A test

Try this puzzle: 
This maths sequence can predict your favorite film... mine was Star Wars. 
Not sure how it works but it does!! 
Pick a number between 1-9 
Multiply by 3 
Add 3 to that number
Multiply again by 3
Add the two digits together 
The answers:
3. Oliver Twist 
4. Star Wars 
5. Forrest Gump 
6. Saving Private Ryan 
7. Jaws 
8. Grease 
9. The joy of anal sex with male goats and leather clad, oiled up lady boys
10.Mary Poppins