Saturday, April 30, 2011  

Tell me, what is my life without your love...

I’ve probably covered this here and here.

But, it’s worth mentioning again. 28 years today I married my sweetheart.

| posted by Simon | 12:33 am | 1 comments

Friday, April 29, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #21

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy - Rammstein - Du hast.

Wollen Sie einander lieben und achten und die Treue halten bis dass der Tod euch scheidet?

du hast mich gefragt, und ich hab nichts gesagt

| posted by Simon | 5:05 pm | 0 comments

Monday, April 25, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #20

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry - B52s - Love shack.

How can anyone fail to be lifted by this song, it puts a smile on my face and gets me tapping the steering wheel. This song should be mandatory for anyone with road rage, stress or depression. Click the link, crank the volume, sit back and let the big blue wave of music wash all the crap away.

Hop in my Chrysler, it's as big as a whale and it's about to set sail!

| posted by Simon | 3:06 pm | 0 comments

Sunday, April 24, 2011  

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy...

Just so you know…. The resurrection of Jesus was a sham, a politically motivated magic act designed to give the Jews their king and keep Rome happy. Oh, and god doesn’t exist anyway, heaven is just an illusion, invented by those who would control us, believed by those of us afraid of death. When we die there is nothing but an unending night, an eternal and infinite blackness, our atoms will be one with the universe for ever.

This post was brought to you by the combined effects of sloe rum, whisky and beer.

| posted by Simon | 10:53 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #19

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 19 - a song from your favoUrite album - The Stone Roses - Ten storey love song.

This is only my favourite album on hot sunny days like today....

There's no sure fire set solution, no short cut through the trees.

| posted by Simon | 9:29 pm | 0 comments

Saturday, April 23, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #18

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio - Pulp - Babies.

Great track, it reminds me of the 90s. Camping trips in an old VW camper van, Lamot pils, black cord carpets and black ash furniture, MTV being decent, German channels on Sky, Max Headroom, deciding whether to go for CD or stick with vinyl, walking to work, having a garden, not paying the poll tax, the school run, working nights, making ends meet.

It's funny how all the things I can remember are pretty superficial, not much depth to those memories.... maybe too much booze? Anyway, Pulp were great, this track was brilliant. Enjoy.

Well it happened years ago.....

| posted by Simon | 2:59 pm | 0 comments

Friday, April 22, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #17

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio - Sammy Davis jnr - The candyman.

This just seems to be on a lot lately, maybe coincidence but I'm not sure. It's a happy song anyway, so enjoy.

Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream.

| posted by Simon | 11:35 am | 0 comments

Thursday, April 21, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #16

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate - Shed 7 - Going for gold.

I'm not sure why I liked this group, maybe I was earching for something after the Stone Roses split. I didn't find it here, and every time I hear it now I turn it off.

You took the shine right out of my smile....

| posted by Simon | 3:19 pm | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 20, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #15

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 15 - a song that describes you - Devine comedy - Gin soaked boy.

Ok, I was going to go with The Smiths - Handsome devil, but I opted for self-deprecation instead. I love the lyrics to this song, very clever indeed. You don't hear enough of this group in my opinion. I'm not sure whether the song is a reference to Tom Waits song of the same name or not, I couldn’t find any information on what the song is about. This is a good thing I think, the truth would only spoil the illusion.

Here’s the Tom Waits version in case you were curious.

I’m the will you’ll not destroy, I’m the gin in the gin soaked boy

| posted by Simon | 12:02 am | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 19, 2011  

It's so lonesome by night and by day...

So, the reason we were in Melton Mowbray last week can now be revealed. I was at the headquarters of a company that has just given me a rather large contract with the makers of a very well-known international brand. I’m going to be on their site somewhere in the North West of England for three days a week till December. I will be teaching them things and hopefully they will be better for it.

This should be rich pickings for a blogger so watch this space. No names obviously, I want to keep the contract and stay out of the courts.

I’ve just got Rage against the machine’s discography, so I have plenty to listen to while I’m away.

| posted by Simon | 10:32 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #14

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love - Brook Benton - Fools rush in.

This song reminds me of growing up. The record player was in the living room and I had to take my turn. In between my grandmother playing Joseph Locke and Harry Secombe, my dad would play Ray Charles, Jim Reeves, some awful country music... and, a 20 greatest hits of Brook Benton. I loved every track, but this one has stayed with me and is never very far away from a playlist.

I have heard lots of versions of this track, but none comes close in my opinion, Mr Benton had a very distinctive voice, and this track is just brilliant.

When we met, I felt my life begin, so open up your heart and let this fool rush in...

| posted by Simon | 12:34 pm | 0 comments

Monday, April 18, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #13

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure - Will Young - All time love .

I can't abide the whole pop idle, x factor style shows, so consequently don't have a lot of time for those who "win". Although I think the only winner is the bloke that owns the rights to the show. However, I do appreciate good music, and this young man can sing. I'm not a fan of his because I don't think he has chosen the right music to compliment his voice yet... but hey, music is subjective.

This song is perfect though, he sings it well and I can listen to it any time it comes on the radio.

Some days you're too set in your ways...

| posted by Simon | 8:39 pm | 0 comments

The truth is in what you see - not what you read...

So I was mooching in my referrer stats and found this. I have a mention in the New York Times.

Ok, so it’s probably just an RSS feed, but I’ll take those where I can. I have now been reviewed in the Guardian and Web User, banned in China and have the NY Times on my referrer stats.


| posted by Simon | 8:23 pm | 0 comments

Sunday, April 17, 2011  

Modern Yoga for blokes #1

The Mantis.

Find a comfortable position, it doesn’t have to be the lotus. Reach out both arms and grasp the spam and egg butty with both hands. Stuff in gob. Repeat till you’re full, the butties are all gone, or your arms get tired.

Next in this award winning series… The big dipper.

| posted by Simon | 5:12 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #12

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 12 - a song from a band you hate - Arctic Monkeys - Dancing Shoes.

I don't know why I don't like them, they've done nothing wrong. They write catchy hooks, clever lyrics and seem pretty good live. As with most thing s first impressions counted, I decided quite quickly that they weren't for me. It could be that he sings with an accent, I can't put my finger on it. I just don't like them. Hate is maybe a strong word, I dislike them a lot. I do listen to music that I don't like, it's called radio. This group don't get that much airplay thankfully, but when they do it's either this one or Mardy bum, and that one does make me laugh, so dancing shoes is probably my pet hate at the moment. I suppose this song celebrates the diversity of music, they've done nothing wrong but I still don't like them.

Don't act like it's not happening.

| posted by Simon | 12:22 am | 0 comments

Saturday, April 16, 2011  

You heard me saying a prayer for...

Ok, my throat was sore from shouting at the telly during the fantastic match this evening. City are in a cup final for the first time since 1981. That day I had sneaked into to Hyde United whilst Paul Power scored an amazing injury time free kick to get us to a Wembley final against Spurs. Today Yaya Toure scored through Van Der Sar’s legs to set up a final against Bolton or Stoke.

So, I went downstairs for my cigar with a full moon looking down on me, and as the clouds scudded across its face, it seemed as blue as I’ve ever seen it. Anyway, the smoke and the drink. I opted for a Guantanamera decimos and a Jura superstition. The cigars are machine made and a bit rough around the edges, still a nice 40 minute smoke though. I think the delicate smoke and sweetness in the Jura was overwhelmed, I should have chosen something with a bigger taste, the cigar’s last third killed the drink completely. Maybe the big smoke of the Laphroaig quarter cask would have stood up to it. It wasn’t spoiled though, the night and the memories of today made it an excellent smoke.

Now I have to get ready for the 14th of May, it will be a year and seven days since my dad died, and when they sing abide with me I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold it together. For now, just getting there is good enough. Thank you Blues.

| posted by Simon | 11:35 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #11

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 11 - a song from your favourite band – The Beatles - I've Just Seen a Face.

An album track for this one, it's off side 2 of Help. I always thought this was an underrated album, it was the transition between pop band and the great world changing leviathan that they became - Revolver came next. Help isn't my favourite Beatles album, but this track is class.

and I want all the world to see we've met

| posted by Simon | 2:57 pm | 0 comments

Friday, April 15, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #10

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep – Godot - The fragrance of dark coffee.

This tune would chill out a psychotic bull on pcp, it could put a Tasmanian devil into a coma in 3 micro seconds. it could turn the marauding hoards of Atilla the Hun into a snoozing pile of happiness. Let's face it, this tune could rid the world of stress and worry, allowing to us to become one with the universe, ending hunger and focus our efforts on exploring the stars together as one race.

Ok, maybe it isn't that good, but it knocks me out, land of nod in no time.

In the words of Louis Balfour - Niiice!

| posted by Simon | 12:34 pm | 0 comments

Thursday, April 14, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #9

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 09 - a song that you can dance to – The Gap band - Oops upside your head.

I can't dance, so I don't dance. I know this is a circular arguement and if I never have a go I'll never learn. I'm of the opinion that it's too late so I've given up. Although, I have an image of being in a nursing home in my 80s, and some snot nosed git getting all the codgers up in an attempt to loosen some aged muscles. I have a plan though, I'll just piss myself and shout "don't hit me Adolf" at the top of my lungs.... bed with drugs, no dancing for me.

Anyone who remembers discos or family weddings around the late 70s and most of the 80s will remember this band and the "dance" everyone did. It actually involved no dancing, but an ability to sit on the floor and waft from side to side. This action is actually very easy for someone who happens to be pissed as a fart, so it's the only one I would ever have a go at. The added bonus being, if you're that pissed you can barley maintain a vertical position, you don't have far to fall if it all goes peculiar.

Watch out, I think I like that groove.

| posted by Simon | 12:30 pm | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #8

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 08 - a song that you know all the words to Tom Waits - The ghosts of Saturday night.

I know the words to hundreds of songs, I know every pause and beat of every Beatles song, it's what happens when you listen to music for over 40 years. It's not like memorising poetry, there are musical cues... like in the Stone Roses' Love spreads, the chorus repeats at the end, then there's a little guitar riff that tells you that last line is coming. Everyone loves singing along, it's satisfying when you get it right.

I've chosen Tom Waits for this one because his lyrics are a work of genius, he paints pictures with words, puts images in my mind. Singing along to this song is an absolute pleasure. he dreams of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes and marmalade thighs with scrambled yellow hair...

| posted by Simon | 12:47 pm | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #7

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event Joy Division - Love will tear us apart.

At almost every stage of my life there has been a musical score in the background, it makes this question almost impossible to answer. There are so many songs that remind me of particular times that I'm going to pick a random one.

This Joy Division song reminds me of a two week period in 1980 when I bunked off school. I spent two weeks in Stockport, mooching round the Mersey Way and looking through record shops, this song was everywhere, shops, cafes, and market stalls.

Stockport is a different place now, last time I was there I couldn't smell that hot weetabix aroma of Robinson's brewery, no Spinx's pie shop or Victoria chippy.... and all those great record and book shops have gone too.

..and there's a taste in my mouth...

| posted by Simon | 12:25 pm | 0 comments

Monday, April 11, 2011  

Dragged a comb across my head...

I had my ears lowered today, it feels a lot better. I went to our local version on Tony & Guy and had my hair cut by a young lady. Surprisingly she didn’t once mention holidays. She was pleasingly quiet, I’ll go back there. Barbers are no better, all they talk about is sodding motorbikes, at least in a hairdressers the person cutting your hair smells pleasant.

On the way home I called for some petrol for tomorrow’s road trip, more on that in a minute. I’m going to add to my list of how to be a productive member of society:

When there’s a line of cars at the petrol station so long it reminds you of a Soviet bread queue, just amble back to your car, adjust your seat, eat a pork pie maybe, then casually start your car, remembering to set the temperature of the climate control and the volume of the radio. Only when you’re good and ready must you pull off. Don’t for one single fucking minute give a monkey’s toss about the poor sod in the queue behind you. He or she will relish the opportunity to sit and do nothing whilst every other pump becomes free and all those in the queue behind him or her get their fuel first. It’s a fantastic opportunity for that person to ponder the deeper questions of life, like why we’re here and why Kenny Rodgers is still breathing while Lennon has been dead thirty years.

So, tomorrow we’re off to Melton Mowbray, home of the famous pork pie. It’s a good four and half hour drive so it’s an early start, breakfast on the road and lunch, obviously, will be pie related. I’ll spill the beans on the reason for the trip after I learn of the outcome.

Quesadillas for tea, homemade of course, and very tasty they were. What was less than tasty was the performance by the Blues at Liverpool. Not happy. Poor tactics from Bobby tonight, more than one eye on Saturday, but in my opinion that’s taking the piss out of Liverpool, and we paid a hefty price. Fair play to the scousers. If we play like that on Saturday our season’s over.

| posted by Simon | 11:09 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #6

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere – Bob Marley - Three little birds.

Jamaica, Christmas 2008. Reggae was everywhere, the sun was shining and everything was Irie. This was the first holiday that I had an mp3 player and Marley featured on my playlist in a big way. The music and the feel of the songs goes so well with sitting in the sun. Jamaica is the friendliest place we have ever been, it was paradise. We watched the sun set at Rick's cafe. Every time I hear Bob Marley it takes me back, but this song in particular makes me feel warm and relaxed.

Rise up this mornin', smiled with the risin' sun.

| posted by Simon | 4:38 pm | 0 comments

Sunday, April 10, 2011  

If you hear something late at night...

This story starts in February 2010 with the death of our trusty old washing machine. It had been delivered on the day we moved in and had served us well for about 9 years, it had been used and abused but hadn’t complained once. Then one Sunday morning it emitted a strange grinding sound, issued a small puff of blue smoke and expired. It even had the decency to finish its final load before departing this realm.

We went to Currys to find a replacement and to arrange for the removal of the old one. We opted for a very shiny LG direct drive. The bloke in Currys was droning on about how you can balance a 20p on its end whilst the machine spins at 1200 rpm. We had it delivered and I plumbed it in. It played a tune when it had finished washing our clothes, and it made a good job of washing them too…. But that’s where the positive end. They were forgotten the moment the fucking thing started to spin, the house shook, glasses in the cupboard tinkled and pictures on the wall vibrated. It was traumatic.

I spoke to Currys who told me I shouldn’t have bought a direct drive washing machine for a third floor flat. I mentioned that when I paid for the infernal machine and gave the bloke in Currys our address I mentioned this fact as it affects who they send to deliver it. The Currys henchperson used the well-worn old chestnut of the call centre.. “well he should have mentioned it to you”.

I phoned LG and they told me that their most excellent machine would work on any type of floor, and in fact “I have that very machine and I live on the second floor”… I don’t think she was called Luka, but I do think she was lying.

I relayed this information to Currys, who then decided to send an engineer to fix, what in all probability was my inept installation of the infernal machine. He came and found nothing wrong, but did agree that the vibrations were strange, as he had that very machine, and lived on the second floor. He was called Dave, not Luka.

I bought some rubber feet off eBay, not in an attempt to introduce fetishism into our home, but for the infernal machine to sit on and hopefully dampen the shaking to a level we could live with. I also contacted Currys again and asked for a replacement under their “whatever happens” policy that had been sold to us in the store. “Oh it doesn’t cover that kind of thing” she said, without a hint of irony.. “but it’s called whatever happens” I said. “But that’s just what the policy is called, it doesn’t cover you for whatever happens” she informed me. I laughed and asked her to cancel the policy.

This had now been going on for a good few months and we were fed up. There were cracks appearing on some of our walls, and bottles had fallen off a bathroom shelf. I emailed the chief executives of Currys and LG, told them what a pile of shit there customer service was and told them in no uncertain terms that they should sort it out between themselves and inform me when they had reached a decision as to what course of action to take.

I was contacted by Currys CEO office who apologised and said they would fix it, the CEOs henchman informed me that he too had that very machine and he lived on the 2nd floor and had no problems with it at all. We then had a repeat engineer visit and some different rubber feet before they finally conceded defeat and told us we could exchange the piece of shit for a new one. We arranged collection, it was 12 months to the day we had it delivered, that they came and took it away. We then had to drag our arses through to Carlisle to get a refund, and then went about the process of buying a new one.

We went to Comet.

The new one doesn’t play a tune, but it also doesn’t recreate the feeling of a jumbo jet landing on the fucking roof either. It washes our clothes with very little fuss, which is all we wanted.

During the last few weeks with the LG the vibrations actually cracked two of our windows. We have only just been paid for their replacement.

Never did get to speak to Luka.

| posted by Simon | 8:03 pm | 0 comments

When the moon is in the seventh house...

Aries – 21st March – 19th April.

The devil will send you a text message, you’re his minion – hooves and horns – come on keep up. You see that’s the thing with Arians, a bit slow. It all has to do with the Equinox and losing an hour in the first month of your life, it makes all the difference… you’re an hour behind everyone else on Earth.

Anyway, the devil’s text. He wants you to do his bidding. He has an intense dislike of Cauliflower and commands you to destroy them all, but only on a Wednesday. The other six days you must redress the balance of the brassica slaughter. For this you will need heroic quantities of cheese.

On a lighter note, God hates Cauliflower too, so you won’t be in any trouble when the rapture comes.

| posted by Simon | 3:05 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #5

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone – The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby.

I don't know why but this song reminds me of my Grandma. My first memories of her were at the old house, a two-up-two-down mill house in Manchester. It had a real fire and stone stairs, it had a yard and an outside toilet. The was a radio screwed to the window frame in the living room. She was 70 when I was born but I remember her being quite active until I was around 10. She lived with us after the old house was condemned and pulled down in 1973. It was that old house where this memory comes from, the image of a face in a jar by the door. After she died I found out that she had toured Europe with her friends in the 1920s. It was only when I was in my 20s that I found out... she was actually no relation to me.

Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.

| posted by Simon | 1:49 pm | 0 comments

Saturday, April 09, 2011  

As simple as it gets...

I’ve just been for a cigar without having to wear something warm. A tee shirt was enough, the wind has changed direction and is now travelling towards the sea. It was warm and I managed to light the stogie outside. It is a much more pleasant experience in more clement weather, to be enveloped in the blue veil, and not see it fuck off up the street at a rate of knots, is a far nicer thing.

I had a black Russian to drink, just vodka and Kahlua with ice and my smoke was a Romeo y Julietta puritos. It’s small like a Hamlet but a lot smoother. The coffee in the Russian was perfect. A 15 minute smoke with a short drink on the rocks was just right, but I could have stayed out there for hours. I wonder how a Cohiba would deal with a Russian? The Cigar was very nice, I smoked this one a lot further down than previous attempts, the humidor must be working because they are getting a bit milder.

I have the same cigar in number 2, it’s a big smoke so I think I would have to add coke and more ice to the Russian. I’m saving that for a long hot summer night.

| posted by Simon | 11:15 pm | 0 comments

Don't you remember you once knew a girl...

There’s a certain quality of light on a spring morning, it makes it seem wasteful to stay in bed. In the depths of winter, staying in bed all day seems like the right thing to do, but today there was something different, the tug of an unseen string.

Unfortunately that unseen string also tugs the smokers from the club’s doorway and deposits them on garden chairs in the car park. It wouldn’t be a big problem, but the further into the weekend we get, the more drunk they get and consequently the more cigarettes they smoke. The smoke rises and comes in through our windows. Cause and effect – sunny weather equals smoky house. This annoys me greatly, I smoke my cigars outside, away from people’s windows and our house still ends up smelling.

The upshot of being roused early from our slumbers was that we had our normal Saturday morning in reverse. We got up and went shopping, then made sausages for breakfast, then got back in bed and read the papers.

Now for the crossword.

| posted by Simon | 4:40 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #4

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 04 - a song that makes you sad – Elvis Costello - A good year for the roses.

The end of a relationship is the stuff of thousands of songs, careers have been built on the tears of those who can relate to lost love. The downward spiral of self pity that settles in the soul when the person you love leaves a space there, is usually done badly, with the old cheese dial on the Acme Lyricomatic cranked up to 11. For me, this song is different, it looks at the little things, the unmade bed, the uncut grass... this is the real haunting beauty of a brilliant song, the everyday stuff that would kick you in the bollocks just when you thought you were over it.

This is a cover version but I prefer Elvis singing it.

After three full years of marriage, it's the first time that you haven't made the bed.

| posted by Simon | 12:35 pm | 0 comments

Friday, April 08, 2011  

New songs and blue songs #3

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 03 - a song that makes you happy – Paolo Nutini - Pencil Full Of Lead.

This whole album makes me smile, but this song in particular just shouts at me - Be happy, don't worry about all the shit in your life, you have what you need and you have love. It takes an Italian Glaswegian to put things so succinctly, but he's right.

There are a good few others that make me smile, most Bob Marley songs conjour images of sunny days and laid back ways, there are a few songs that make me laugh like Goldie looking chain or the Macc lads... but a smile is different, you can laugh when you're sad but you have to happy to smile. Paolo makes me smile

But best of all, I've got my baby.

| posted by Simon | 12:28 pm | 0 comments

Thursday, April 07, 2011  

I'm one step ahead of the shoe shine

I got a letter from the BBC. I haven’t been selected for the regional audience council. On the plus side, in the same post was a cheque for £268 to pay for new windows. It’s a long story that involves a washing machine and the chief executive of Currys. I will relay the whole sorry saga at some point over the next few days.

Then there’s Talk Talk. Another sorry tale that has dragged on from last December and is as yet unresolved.

Then there’s 3. This has been going on since January and is due to be resolved tomorrow.

Then there’s Thomson holidays who completely cocked up our Christmas holiday to Cuba. Those fuckers maybe in line for a class action… more on that later.

I’m getting complaint fatigue and a complex. I don’t feel like I’m turning into some kind of Northern Victor Meldrew, but the sheer volume of fuckwittery that I have to deal with on a weekly basis is increasing exponentially. I always maintained that we needed a recession to make sure our service industry pulled up its collective socks and started to give a fuck about customers. We are now in the middle of the worst recession I have ever experienced and the fuckers are getting worse. In a restaurant a few weeks ago and Tracy was given a fork… for a bowl of soup. I think the most annoying thing is the complete absence of any kind of apology or admission of fault. I might start taking a stick out with me, to punish cretinous behaviour with a sharp prod.

| posted by Simon | 9:30 pm | 0 comments

New songs and blue songs #2

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 02 - your least favourite song – James - Sit Down.

The question doesn't ask which song I hate, the list would be too long, it asks which is my least favourite, a far trickier question. If I were to make a list of my top 100 songs, I presume this question wants to know which is #100. With this in mind, my selection should still be a song I love.

A few years ago this would have been in my top ten, but I've heard it too many times and it's lost the shine. I could have picked a few in the same vein, but this one brings back fond memories too. The 90s, in the words of the now infamous tee shirt... top as fuck!

If I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor.

| posted by Simon | 11:55 am | 2 comments

Wednesday, April 06, 2011  

New songs and blue songs

The 30 day song challenge.

Day 1 – Your favourite song – Stranglers – Golden Brown.

This song reminds me so much of the summer after finishing school and before going to college. It was a massive summer holiday, I had finished my exams by the end of May and didn’t start college till late September. It was the summer of 82 and it was long and hot, or at least that’s how I remember it. I also remember Mike Sweeney playing the song on the old Piccadilly radio, on his afternoon show. Even after all these years that harpsichord takes me right back. I love it and could listen to it over and over.

Never a frown with Golden Brown.

| posted by Simon | 11:36 pm | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 05, 2011  

Claustrophobia there's too much paranoia

For quite a few years now we have taken our holidays on the shores of various other nations, and I don’t mean Wales. We both enjoy lounging on a sunbed on a beach, reading a book and sipping brightly coloured drinks that are provided at regular intervals by some unseen hand. It isn’t uncommon to sit in the shade of a palm tree in 40+ temperatures, punctuated by the occasional dip in the azure waters of a warm sea, for days on end. After a siesta we would shower and dress for dinner, and after feeding would retire to a bar somewhere and watch the entertainment whilst getting steadily wankered on cocktails.

Last year we succumbed to family pressure and had a holiday in this country. I can almost hear your head shaking. Certain family members will not fly and so miss out on Caribbean islands and Egyptian wonders. Instead they opt for a caravan “down south”. Now don’t get me wrong, I like caravans, we used to spend all our early holidays in Towyn and had some really good times, before it turned into a Welsh Chechnya. We thought those days were gone, but they came back. It’s actually a great laugh with all the family with the caravans in a circle, but I can’t help thinking how good it would be in Jamaica or Mexico. Anyway, you apparently can’t get to Jamaica in a normal family saloon, so…

We decided to go to Devon Cliffs* and opted for a superior caravan. God knows what an ordinary one would have been like. The one we got was fucking awful and after a complaint and a website we got most of our money back and a free upgrade should we choose to book again.

We’ve booked again.

4 caravans, upgraded to prestige, but this time on a better site. I couldn’t mention down South without mentioning probably the best fish and chips in Cornwall. Rick Stein’s at Padstow. Not the arsey restaurant, the chippy just outside town. I can see a day out for fish and chips. On the other end of the scale is Jamie Oliver’s 15 just outside Newquay, very very nice. The Martini was stunning. Tracy asked the barman how he had made the amazing version of the famous cocktail. He said, in a fantastic French accent “put a small amount of ze vermouth on ze ice and mix gently, zen srow it away” he made a dismissive wave of his hand as if the vermouth was utter shit. “zen you put in ze gin and shake… zen a twist of lemon and voila”

Now we just need it not to fucking rain.

*This shit hole was featured on BBCs Watchdog.

| posted by Simon | 9:47 pm | 0 comments

Monday, April 04, 2011  

We skipped the light fandango

If you travel along the M6 to junction 40, or get on the West Coast main line, you’ll eventually find Penrith, a one horse town on the eastern edge of the Lake District. The very strange one-way system makes it seem three times bigger than it really is. If you manage to find a parking space, make sure you only put an hour on your ticket. In fact you’ll spend more time looking for the Penrith tea rooms than actual shopping… and you know what? You won’t find them, they don’t exist. In one of the biggest ever niche market failures, Penrith has failed to exploit Withnail fans. I was very much looking forward to threatening Miss Blennerhassett with the sack, and watching the eye rolling as they heard, for the umpteenth time.. “we want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now”.

There a couple of nice food shops, one of them is a very big deli in the main square, then there are a couple of little general stores that sell all the Lake District special foods, handmade chocolates, jam, pickles and a very nice damson Gin. There isn’t even a tobacconist and the paper shop didn’t sell cigar matches.

There is however one very good reason to get in your car or on the train and travel a ridiculous distance to get to Penrith. The Angel lane chippy. For an inland town the fish is top class and the pies are delicious. It’s worth the trip believe me. In the past we have been known to drive from Cumbria to Whitby just for fish and chips at the Magpie café, or to Conwy to the chippy just opposite the bakers that sells Vanilla slices the size of breezeblocks. We are connoisseurs of the fish and chip, so when I say go to Penrith just for the Angel chippy, I promise you it’s worth it.

We are not drunks, we are multimillionaires.

| posted by Simon | 11:12 pm | 0 comments

Sunday, April 03, 2011  

The constant promise of jam tomorrow

I remember bunting strung along the street like a red, white and blue snake. I remember everyone lining up their tables and chairs in the middle of Acresfield Road, and filling them with sandwiches, pies, crisps, trifle and as much pop as you get down your neck. I remember a huge barrel of beer in our shed, and all the dads wandering up our garden for a refill. I remember sneaking half a pint when no one was looking. I remember the games on the Bay Horse car park and the singing and dancing into the night. The Queen’s silver jubilee, I was eleven and I knew everyone on our road.

We have lived here for ten years and I’m 45, we only have friends in our flats, we only know other people just as nodding acquaintances. I can’t see our road having a party for the upcoming wedding. Not that I really give much of a toss about the nuptials, but the breakdown of our society is very sad. I actually started with another line from that song as the title, nostalgia is an opium and I’m aware I have probably just taken a fucking big toke, but I’m pretty sure we’ll never see that kind of community again. Don’t get me wrong, we had some great arguments on our street in those days, there were people who hated each other, but the kids weren’t affected and all was forgotten for the party.

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A E Housman.

| posted by Simon | 10:41 pm | 0 comments

I've found a paradise that's trouble proof

The lines have been drawn, it begins.

Here are the pictures.

I thought I should tell the club, I know the Crows won’t be too pleased but the damage will be expensive. I will post updates and photos of the ensuing war.

| posted by Simon | 12:54 pm | 0 comments

Saturday, April 02, 2011  

But I take delight in the juice of the barley

I think as you get older the palate become more refined, more open to individual flavours. I’m no Oz Clarke but I do appreciate a fine combination of flavours, and tonight I put two together.

Glenfarclas 10-year-old single malt

Monte Cristo #5

I know that booze and tobacco are frowned upon these days, but with moderation in all things in mind, I don’t think it’s a huge issue. I don’t drink on a school night and I only smoke a couple of cigars a month. I’m sure my doctor would disapprove, but there has to be some enjoyment in life or what’s the point?

Anyway, the combination. They complimented each other well. The cigar was strong but didn’t kill the sweetness of the scotch. The smoke got a little bitter towards the end, but I think there must be an accumulation around the cut end. The whisky stood up well and was the dominant flavour, which I prefer. A very enjoyable 25 minute smoke.

| posted by Simon | 11:23 pm | 0 comments

I'll break into your house and I'll smell your bed

Whilst I don’t altogether agree with the outcome of Kipling’s poem the betrothed, I can’t argue with his love for a good cigar. To be enveloped in the blue veil is an excellent way to relax. It’s very strange because I can’t abide cigarettes. To be fair I haven’t been smoking cigars that long. I had my first last year at my brother in law’s wedding. I had brought a few back from the Dominican Republic a few days before, and in the post wedding feast glow on a warm summer evening, I stood outside with my son and we smoked a particularly mild panatela, which is about 5 inches long and 34/64ths of an inch in diameter. It’s about a 40 minute smoke, which gives you ample time to drink a nice glass of brandy or a decent single malt. They both complement each other so well.

Between summer and Christmas I had about half a dozen more, including a Monte Cristo number 2 the night Movember finished. This cigar is widely considered to be one of the best in the world. I’m not sure I had enough experience to agree or disagree. A vile experience with a Hamlet didn’t put me off and I went to Cuba in December with a plan.

I brought back around 65 cigars, varying sizes and differing qualities of cigar, from Romeo Y Julietta handmade puritos to machine made Guantanamera. All of them excellent smokes. The number of cigars presented me with a problem; I had to make sure they didn’t dry out. I needed a humidor, so I trawled eBay for a couple of weeks and bought a really nice one from a German bloke.

So, after seasoning the Spanish Cedar, which is actually not Spanish and not Cedar, I charged the humidifier and put my collection in their new home. The best conditions for a cigar is around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and around 70% humidity. The humidor is set up perfectly and my cigars are now ageing, and will be improving over the next 10 years or so. Not that they’ll get the chance to live in there for that long.

My only regret is that a cigar would completely ruin a Martini, only the strong spirits or a black Russian can stand up to the flavour. Maybe a Martini made with Kahlua, but it wouldn’t be the same as a really good Gin and Lillet blanc with a twist of lime.

All this talk has made me want a smoke.

| posted by Simon | 9:02 pm | 0 comments

Friday, April 01, 2011  

Now what's that sound from under the door?

The Crows have found a new home. The Working men’s club at the back of our flat has an unused upstairs room. The Crows have lifted one of the roof tiles and sneaked into the roof space. They have been ferrying nesting materials all day. The Seagulls have been watching them with interest from their vantage point on a high chimney pot. There will be trouble.

I'll take some photos of the birds over the weekend, but for now... alcohol.

| posted by Simon | 10:54 pm | 2 comments
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