52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

we're the litter on the breeze....

Hello my lovelies. Auntie Swiss here.

Just to prove that there's a first time for everything.....I'm listening:

-> Charlie asked: "How often are you supposed to replace running shoes?"

Auntie Swiss says: Well Charlie, that's an interesting question. Let me ask you this: do they honk? are you forced to leave your fetid footwear outdoors? Do people run away screaming when they see you in the distance? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then they probably need changing. If that doesn't work, then you probably need to look more closely at your personal hygiene routines. Change them every 500 miles and don't buy Nikes. Asics, Saucony and Mizuno are worth a look. Also think about buying some sorbothane insoles. Don't forget to wash though, otherwise your new trainers will be of little help with your social life.

-> Smug of Westminster asked: "I am about to stand for leadership of the Conservative party. As one of my valued constituents, can you offer any advice on my campaign?"

Auntie Swiss says: Ah, Smug. Third time lucky, eh? I think you should play to your strengths: drink claret, smoke cigars, wear hush puppies. If you stick to what you know, your people will flood to your support. If they don't - sod'em. Head back to your nice cushy executive role at Imperial Tobacco and get back to flogging fags to the Third World. Nice to see you at the cricket the other day, by the way.

-> A Desperate Blogger asked: "I am so behind with my blog...I just can't keep up....please help"

Auntie Swiss says: Now then Desperate; I want you to think long and hard about your day. How much time do you spend washing? How much time eating? How much time sleeping? How much time is spent having an actual conversation with someone? Too much, I'll warrant. If you don't cut down on these pointless activities, then you are fated to always fall behind with your blog. If you carry on in this way, one day you will even begin to think that there might be more to your life than blogging.... You cannot continue to think of yourself as a blogger as long as you continue to have any semblance of a life. Don't think we won't notice.

-> Yoko asked: Can you please recommend me a suitable outfit for Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. I need the whole shooting match - head to toe.

Auntie Swiss says: Oh Yoko, simple. I don't think their dress code is too onerous these days:

All you'll need do is not shave for a few days, and you should be fine.


Thanks for your questions. I hope in my own small way I've been able to help you with your lives. I don't ask for payment... the satisfaction of knowing that I have made a difference to another's life is enough for me.

Auntie Swiss.


Come on then. Out with it.

Has Blogger been playing silly buggers, or is "Auntie Swiss" just a rubbish idea?

Hit me with it. I can take it. I may be a little bit hurt...but I can take it.

Yeah. Actually, you're probably right....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

if there was a problem yo I'll solve it

So. The public gets what the public wants.

I hereby declare the first "Auntie Swiss" session open for business.

You've probably noticed how I have an opinion for pretty much every occasion. This is quite a talent, I'm sure you'll agree, and I'd like to try and share some of that remarkable gift with you.

Here's the deal: you submit problems or issues for my consideration, and I give you the benefit of my wisdom in traditional agony aunt stylee. Should be pretty straightforward. I'll take on any problem of pretty much any size. Personal, local, national, international, global, intergalactic.... whatever.

If you're daft enough to ask, I'll give you an opinion on anything.

Auntie Swiss is listening.....

(**please note, as country_cat has so rightly pointed out, I'm a pompous, angst ridden clown, so I may not be in the best position to give anyone advice about anything..... this has never stopped me giving advice in the past, and it clearly shouldn't stop you asking for it now. Just don't come to me in the event that you foolishly decide to act on my ridiculous advice and it blows up in your sorry face. With that in mind, fire away!)

Monday, August 29, 2005

in your hand the birth of a new day

I think I'm going to get all interactive on you.

You've got 2 options here for my next post:

1) "Ask Swiss" - you know the drill: you ask, I answer

2) "Auntie Swiss" - something of a twist on the above.... I'll offer up the dubious benefit of my wisdom on any issues or problems that you might care to submit. Could be world peace, could be whether you should get a haircut or not (although given my hairstyle, I think my answer to the former would be the more useful)

Both of them are pretty lazy on my part, I know.... but it is a bank holiday.

What do you say?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

And if you try it you'll like it

We went to watch the 4th Test Match between England and Australia at Trent Bridge in Nottingham today. It's an absolutely massive sporting occasion, with the two oldest adversaries in international sport standing toe-to-toe and slugging it for the Ashes with the series poised at 1-1.

Tickets were at an absolute premium, and the match sold out in summer last year. £50 tickets have been changing hands for around £450. It's an event that demands your full attention.

So we went dressed as the Spanish Inquisition....

Team photo - just before heading off to the ground (left to right, Jamie, Bob, Poll Star, Luke, ST & Statue John on the floor)

The banner.


Let's Go To Work

Statue John has a moment of quiet reflection.

Mein Host

Anyone know what the score was?

Friday, August 26, 2005

we can't keep on living like this....

Hello. Me again, although you'll probably be pleased to hear that this post isn't all about me, or asking what you think of me. Not this time, anyway. Instead, it's the time of the week where we leave our shoes at the door, and pay homage to the all consuming, all seeing, all mighty God of Earworms.

Leading us in our worship this week is a particular favourite of mine: servant to Fucking Cat, colleague to Simon Clown, Tony Vile, Tania Cute and a cast of other brilliantly named incompetents at The Company.... He is also, of course, loving partner to Girl Person.

Ladies & Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #14 - Tom from Bad-Wolf


Hello All.

So, anyway, what is an Earworm? I dunno. I looked it up on Wikipedia and this is what it said.

"Earworm, a literal translation of the German Ohrwurm, is a term for a song stuck in one's head, particularly an annoying one."

I don't know if I like that definition very much. None of my choices annoy me. In fact I love all of my choices. My definition of Earworm would be

"Songs that Tom has sung at the bus stop."

And here they are, in reverse order.

10. The Sugababes - "Hole In The Head"

I've always loved The Sugababes, even after they kicked out their most attractive looking member (the foxy Siobhan Donaghy, growl.). I don't think that they have put a foot wrong with any of their single releases, and would go as far as to say that "Freak Like Me" was the best single of 2002 and was robbed at the Brits awards that year. I saw the video of this song this week when I was flicking through the music channels. Wonderful.

9. Jem - "Just A Ride"

It's a nursery rhyme of a song and as such is completely addictive. Terry Wogan used to play this practically every hour on his morning show. Like the previous song I saw the video on a music channel while flicking one night. The video is shit, the song isn't.

8. The Creation - "Makin' Time"

This band came out of the Mod/R'n'B scene of the early sixties. I think that this was their first single. I love it. Actually, so did Wes Anderson, director of the film "Rushmore". He used this track during the opening sequence of that film. Legend has it that in 1967 Pete Townsend asked Eddie Phillips to join the Who as second guitarist. Obviously Eddie Phillips turned it down. Great innovator was Eddie Phillips. He was the first guitarist to play his guitar with a violin bow, years before Jimmy Page. I heard this track this week on Mark Lamarr's Alternative Sixties show.

7. Roxette - "Joyride"

I know nothing about Roxette except that they did that ballad for the film "Pretty Woman". This is great, though. Another video I saw on a music channel. (Trust me. I hardly ever watch music channels.)

6. The Beatles and The Monkees - "Paperback Believer"

An illegal track (hush hush). This is a mash up that mixes together the Beatles vocals from "Paperback Writer" (the greatest single of all time TM) and the backing track from the Monkees "I'm A Believer". I found it a while ago when I was looking for the Madonna/Sex Pistols mix "Ray Of Gob". (Still not found, if anybody has any ideas...) It's a bit rough and ready, but I think that it is great. I listened to it again this week. You should be able to find it with no problems, if you are interested. If not... Just ask me.

5. K. T. Tunstall - "Suddenly I See"

Wogan has been playing this song this week. Every single day. I know nothing about this lady, but I liked her last single, I love this single and I read that she is playing Birmingham in October on a Saturday night. I might go. What do you think? Worth the effort?

4. Lobo - "Me And You And A Dog Named Boo"

Somebody requested this on Ed Stewart's Sunday Afternoon Request Show. It's country rock/pop, I suppose. Sentimental and reflective and drippy and I love it.

3. Joy Division - "Transmission"

I only know two Joy Division songs, this one and "Love Will Tear Us Apart". A couple of weeks ago a clip of Joy Division performing this song was shown on the BBC's "Sounds Of The Seventies" show. Ian Curtis performed this song like a man possessed. I suppose he was. Electrifying track. That's the perfect word. Electrifying.

2. Coldplay - "Fix You"

You cannot get away from this track on British radio at the moment. I have never been a massive Coldplay fan, but when they hit their stride ("Yellow", "The Scientist", this track) they are magnificent. I saw them at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas in September 2002, supported by Ash, and I enjoyed it very much. I may have the buy the new album. Is it any good?

1. Heaven 17 - "Temptation"

Everybody sing along!

"I've never been closer
I've tried to understand
That certain feeling
Carved by another's hand
But it's too late to hesitate
We can't keep on living like this"

And so on and so forth. I love this track. I saw Heaven 17 on some torpor of an 80's package tour, a couple of years back. I was merrily drifting off to sleep until they came on and kicked off their bit with this song. The video of this song was on one of the music channels this week. It was terrible (but it was the 80's), but that song... Oh, Wow! It's great.

Can I have a zero? Go on. Please? For my lady?

Girl Person's Earworm this week is

0. Otis Redding - "Dock Of The Bay"

I sometimes bore Girl Person (hard to believe it, but I do) with my thoughts on this song. I tell her that it was a basic demo, that Steve Cropper had to finish it, that he overdubbed the sound of the sea and the seagulls and that it would probably have been a very different track if Otis had lived. None of it matters. This song makes Girl Person cry, but she claims that she loves it. I love it as well.

That's your lot. Let the criticisms begin. Go for it. I love an argument.

Oh, and cheers Swiss Toni. You are indeed the man.


Thanks Tom. I'm not sure that you're going to get too many complaints about that sort of a list. Not from me, anyway.

Next week we head back Down Under to sunny Brisbane, as next week's Guest Editor is the absolutely lovely Di from Bo Peep's Sheep. She claims not to hang onto tunes in her head, but as Earworm Queen of this blog for the week, I guess we'll find out, eh?

Until next time then..... if you'll excuse me, I just off to put the finishing touches to my costume for my weekend at the Test Match. England are firmly in the driving seat, so should be a good weekend. I'll pop some pictures up at some point....

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie]

well, I left home just a week before, and I'd never ever seen a jedi before...

Right then. The results are of the "What Film Character is ST" competition are now in from the Lord Bargain jury:


"I have to say that a lot of you have proved to be accurate in quite a lot of instances. Either that means you are all extremely perceptive or that ST does actually tell you more about himself than he thinks he does. I suspect it is a combination of the two. And forgive me as I am not familiar with some of the characters to which you refer.

"There are a couple here I am not sure about. I think Qui Gon Jinn is too boring and impassionate and I think Elrond is too mardy and weedy. Leon is an odd but interesting choice, I am not sure ST is as dispassionate as Leon, but clearly has a sensitive side not everyone gets to see. I am fairly sure he is ambivalent about potted plants, though.

"Luke Skywalker? Too hot-headed, irrational and, well, dull.

"Niobe - feisty, dynamic and athletic with a smart remark is a pretty good call. All I would say is that ST knows what is morally correct, but perhaps doesn’t have the same black and white view on how to deal with these. Westley from the Princess Bride also a pretty good call.

"I think the nearest in terms of character traits, and the person who was on my shortlist of two, was Yoda. Wise, thoughtful, articulate. Always says only what needs to be said without waffle or decoration. Quiet, and so sometimes difficult to know what he is thinking. Yet loyal, brave, reliable, mature and with a hint of mischief (think the Dagobah swamp scenes in Empire Strikes Back).

"If it were me, I think I’d have gone for a young Obi-Wan. Similar to Yoda in the sense he is wise and thoughtful with a strong sense of right and wrong and of morals. Obi-Wan though is a good friend, always loyal and prepared to impart information and advice in a way that simply shows he cares. He is also prepared to do irresponsible things (he indulges Anakin in some of his escapades but I think secretly enjoys it) and has a dry and sometimes vaguely sarcastic sense of humour.

"I don't remember Obi-Wan ever glazing over with a face of complete disinterest when someone was talking to him about something he didn’t care about, though."


So there you have it. I thought that Fox and Spin were particularly perceptive, but the winner is Tom, with "Yoda" - someone I couldn't resemble less physically if I tried, I think. Still. Strong in the force he is. Backwards talks, he does. CD send you I will, if email me your address you do

... if you want it, that is...

God, it's all "me, me, me" round here, isn't it?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

i am un chien andalusia

Right then.

I don't really go in for these things much, but I'm going to make an exception for Ben from Silent Words Speak Loudest:

"List five songs that you are currently digging - it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions and the five songs (with artist) in your blog. Then tag five people to see what they're listening to."

The reason I'm going for this is because Ben tagged me "because he gets guests in for his Friday Earworms these days and doesn't reveal his own". That's so true....

So here you go then:

1. 'Debaser' - the Pixies. Nihilistic shrieking and references to surrealistic cinema? Yes please.

2. 'Helicopter' - Bloc Party. Mental drumming and a coruscating guitar riff. I'll have some of that on my drive into work thanks.

3. 'The Street Where You Live' - Vic Damone. It's been running round my head since my post the other day, and I was caught singing it in the office the other day.

4. 'My Lovely Horse' - Father Ted Crilly & Father Dougal McGuire. I was busted singing this one in the office today. I blame the Ultimate Olympian, who told me how he sang this to Neil Hannon at a Pixies gig in Dublin the other day (I was listening to 'Doolittle' before he told me that though, so the Pixies earworm IS ALL MINE, alright?).

5. 'The Dark of the Matinee' - Franz Ferdinand. Popped this album on in the car the other day, as it's perpetually in my CD holder (along with 'Final Straw'). Great album, but this is the one that stuck in my head.

And the five people I tag? Sorry about this in advance, but:

The Urban Fox
Red One

You don't have to play if you don't want to, but I have an earworm fetish, as you know....so....

Speaking of which, Tom's up tomorrow, so don't miss that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

how can I measure up to anyone now after such a love as this?

How much do you think you can really tell about someone from their blog? Do you think it is possible to get a real feeling for what someone is really like just by reading their posts?

I'm an introvert, which means that I generally derive my energy from within myself. I'm also analytical by nature, and I tend to keep my feelings more or less to myself. This means that when I get home from the evening, I am perfectly content to sit in near silence for hours, happily occupying myself with a book, the TV, my laptop...whatever. I like spending time with my girlfriend, and I find her presence very soothing, but I am happy for that time to be uninterrupted by conversation. I don't feel the need to make conversation to be comforted and relaxed in her company.

C. sometimes finds this difficult. She is an extrovert, in the sense that she derives her energy from other people; talking about her day to someone helps her to process that information. It must be very frustrating for her to be confronted with a partner who will obliviously spend hours without saying a word, apparently totally consumed in whatever task he is working on.

She reads this blog to find out what is going on in my head. I think she finds that a bit odd, but I do not. I see this blog as a place where I am able to externalise thoughts and emotions that I might not have had an outlet to express otherwise.

I don't think that I am the most confessional blogger in the world by any means. I worry a little bit that I don't talk about my feelings here as much as I might. I don't think I'm guarded by any means, but perhaps I am a bit reserved. Perhaps you deserve a bit more of me. I suppose it is inevitable that at least some element of my personality must come across here though. Apart from anything else, it would be bloody hard work trying to hide it all the time, wouldn't it?

I have to admit, I'm slightly curious to know what you think of me....

You have probably already seen it over at Lord Bargain's place, but I have just revealed to the world the not-altogether-surprising news that The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite ever film. This probably says something about me in itself...

In the comments to that post, RedOne reveals that (s)he always had to be R2D2 when they played "Star Wars" in the playground at school, and that the scars ran deep. Not the character I would have picked for Red, but a funny anecdote anyway and it got me thinking....

Lord B is an old friend of mine, and he's quite a confessional blogger, but have you ever wondered what he was really like? Behind the legend, what of the man?

Well. Let me put it this way: if he was a Star Wars character, he would be C3PO. Definitely. Without a shadow of a doubt. I mentioned this to him, and he reluctantly agreed with me (and revealed that he had actually won a prize at a fancy dress party as a child by going as C3P0). We then tried to work out which character I would be, but couldn't think of one that worked.

So - that's your challenge. What do you reckon? Based upon what you know about me, which character from Star Wars do you think I would be, and why? (don't worry if you're not a fan of the films, you don't have to restrict yourself to Star Wars if you've got a better idea. The whole IMDB is at your mercy)

There's a prize! The best suggestion (or at least the one that Lord B and I decides rings the truest) will receive a CD compiled by me.

There's a boobie prize! The worst suggestion will receive a CD compiled by Lord B.... (boom boom!)

Over to you then.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I only wanted something else to do but hang around

It's been a little while since I had a wander down the road and had a peep in through the windows at what the rest of street is up to at the moment......

-> Over at Grey City Manifesto, fragrant Ka is still pining for her midget mexican medic (eminememinem?) but it looks like a neighbour will be popping round for with tea and sympathy in a few weeks time as Lord Bargain leaves his troubles behind him and heads out for a much needed holiday. Mind you, he's not leaving before he has inflicted a homemade compilation CD on Adem and Spin... now that's just cruel. In spite of my warnings (I've seen his record collection, remember), they both seem very pleased with themselves. Ah well. Perhaps Sonia is coming back into vogue?

-> Standing moodily by the bus shelter in his hoodie, Capt. Damo has been quietly tapping his foot to the new Supergrass album (although that is a terrible pun, isn't it?). Bee is nowhere to be seen - perhaps she got washed away on her way back from the V Festival, or maybe she just slipped into a coma during the headlining set by Oasis.

-> Outside the slightly scruffy looking house, Citizen Red has been busy waving banners and shouting slogans in support of the brave person who leaked the information that the police saw fit not to tell us about the shooting Jean Charles de Menezes outside Stockwell Tube station. In the quieter periods between anti-war slogans though, young Red seems to have an unfortunate penchant for Travis. Red tries to blame Lord B, but we know better....

-> Resident guru, the num num, has been offering his zen-like wisdom on comics and fountain pens, but even his gnomic calm has been breached by Ikea flat-pack furniture.

-> Lovely Jenni has been pondering the wall being erected by the Israelis in the West Bank and asking for her readers' opinions on the decision of the Lutheran Church of America to condemn it. I can't think of someone I would rather see going to law school, can you? I think the future of America is in safe hands.

-> Flash is being all mysterious, but if it's anything to do with football, I'm just not interested.

-> Di is pondering why she finds the world of online dating so distasteful. I hope she's thinking whilst she paints... I want to get me a Di Gallagher original.

-> Tom has been falling under the spell of a tricky Daisy Donovan-alike lady shrink and is showing signs of actually enjoying it. Who can blame him? I reckon I could use some therapy... ah, but you knew that.

-> Mark has been having a worse Monday than me, for which I can only be grateful. Coming back from holiday is always a kicker... but missing a plane and getting lost in the bowels of the airport? I'm feeling better about my day already.

-> Aravis has been getting ready to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary. You shouldn't worry though, it's not corny at all....Randy is a lucky guy.

-> I don't like these wheelie bins the council has given us. They may make the street look a lot tidier, but I quite liked waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of The Urban Fox rummaging around. I hope they come back soon. The street's not the same without them.

And with that, I think I'm going to end my constitutional and head back home for some sleep. It's a nice street to live in. Shame someone keeps bumping my car, but you can't have everything.....

pour misery down on me

It was almost dark outside when my alarm went off this morning at the usual time, and as I came too, I realised that it was absolutely pouring with rain. I had to drive to work with my headlights on, and then got my feet wet as I was forced to wade across a couple of small lakes in the car park.

This is terrible news. Not only is it the August Bank Holiday this weekend, meaning a three day weekend, but the Nottingham Test Match starts on Thursday.

Whatever happened to the summer?

It must be Monday.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Ev'rybody's talking about revolution, evolution, masturbation, flagellation, regulation, integrations, mediations, United Nations, congratulations....

Rather than risk getting too wrapped up in my own week, I've decided to lift my head up and have a look around the world. It turns out that there are plenty of people having a worse week than me. To pluck one example out of the headlines, it's been an especially bad week for Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip.

I'd guess that being forcibly evicted from your home by soldiers isn't going to be a happy day in your life. Hands up if you ever thought you would see Israeli troops storming synagogues - in this case to protestors making a stand against their eviction. Next week it's the turn of the West Bank, and I imagine we will see similar scenes.

So not a great week for Israeli settlers, but a potentially enormous week in the search for peace in the Middle East. I'm not an expert in this by any means, so I won't ramble on. Instead, if you'll forgive the lengthy quotation, I will leave you with someone else's words that seem apt:

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation....The Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life. Palestinian legislators and officials, humanitarian and international workers, must be allowed to go about the business of building a better future. And Israel should release frozen Palestinian revenues into honest, accountable hands.

....I can understand the deep anger and anguish of the Israeli people. You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offer at hand, and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life; you have a right to security; and I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security.

I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children.

....If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.

And so say all of us.

And who said these wise words? George W. Bush in 2002. Credit where credit is due, these words are at least a small part of the reason why we are watching the withdrawal on our TVs now. The settlers might not be thanking him at the moment, but it this helps bring stability to the region, then the rest of the world has good reason for some gratitude.

(but let's not go overboard, eh? He's still a brainless goon and one of the single biggest causes of the lack of stability in the rest of the world.... but it's a Sunday night, and I'm feeling generous)

busy, busy, busy scissors

Since I mentioned it the other day, you're all dying to know what I made of John Irving's latest book, aren't you? Well. I purchased it on Saturday and have spent the rest of the weekend shut away in my cave plouging through it's 800-something pages, oblivious to the decent weather, to the football, to C's visiting parents, to food, to drink.... and now it's done.

Only joking of course. I did buy it, but it is currently sitting next to the bed sort of looking at me funny. Instead of starting it, I chose to prioritise a few other tasks:
  • Reading "Batman: Hush" volumes 1 & 2
  • Reading "Round Ireland with a Fridge" by Tony Hawks. His style annoys me intensely, but it's mildly diverting and I've started so I'll finish
  • Having a curry with C's parents
  • Falling asleep in front of Match of the Day (new season, same old saturday evening routine)
  • buying hairpins (for the first and presumably only time in my life) and a pile of white cotton gloves to put the finishing touches to the fancy dress costumes we will be wearing at the Trent Bridge Test Match on Saturday
  • Picking up a new pair of glasses (and 24 hours later discovering the first scratch on the lenses.... grrr!)
  • Fixing the puncture on my bike & going out for a test ride
  • Watching "The Count Of Monte Cristo" on the telly, and marvelling at how it managed to squeeze a 600 page book into 90 minutes, and still apparently managed to find room for some "improvements" to the plot. Hmmmm.
John Irving will just have to wait, eh?

Friday, August 19, 2005

the best I ever did with my bucks

What a week!

I probably should have known it was going to turn out something like this when I realised that the thirteenth Guest Editor was entering the earworm hotseat...

This week's Guest Editor is the owner of the first blog I ever found by hitting on the "next blog" button on the top right-hand corner of the browser. I must have been very lucky indeed, as I'm still reading regularly, and I don't think I've found another blog worth reading using that technique ever since.

Yup, this blogger was one of the first to provide me with my weekly insight into everyday America. So similar in so many ways, but also strangely alien. I still don't know what a slurpee is, although I could hazard a guess....

Anyway. Ladies & Gentlemen, without further ado....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #13 - Charlie from Late Night Radio

Being a longtime regular reader of ST's blog, I've been a fan of the earworm column for quite some time. It indulges the music geek in me, and sometimes gives me some new tunes to check out. I never thought it'd actually be me, especially given the recent series of authors and the fact that I'm male. Anyway, I'm glad to be here.


10. The Soggy Bottom Boys- "I am a Man of Constant Sorrow"

I jumped on this one five years after O Brother and the corresponding soundtrack hit the big time. This tune strikes me as having much more of a tasty groove than your average pickin' tune, and makes me really, really want to ride a horse. I don't know--it just does.

9. David Gray- "The One I Love"

Are all you Englanders sick of DG? Is he big over there? Is he big over here? All I can tell you is that while I routinely list this cat as one of my favorite artists, I only listen to him in very concentrated doses every six months or so. I guess it's been long enough, and this single just gleams with pop-rock shine.

8. Ryan Adams- "1974"

I'm the Ryan Adams fan none of the other RA fans would play with at recess, since the atypical Rock N Roll is my favorite disc of his, but do me a favor and put your windows down, hit an interstate, and bellow "it's 1974--just like the day i was born!" It'll be fun--I promise.

7. Notorious B.I.G.- "Warning"

This ends my brief streak of white guys with guitars. Checking out the two B.I.G. records used for cheap has been quite fun, as Biggie proves to be a pretty captivating storyteller. Ready to Die includes a nostalgic look at this one--"damn, why they wanna stick me for my paper?"

6. Andrew Winn- "Goodbye Yesterday"

Back to a white guy with a guitar. However, not just any white guy with a guitar--if I could play any instrument like anyone, it'd be guitar like Andrew Winn--and I'm a saxophonist. This list will be notable for me in the absence of any actual Agents of Good Roots (ST:: Coldplay, Charlie::AGR) songs, but the chorus from this original from Winn's solo record proves to be one of those sunshiney things you can't dislodge. I saw it performed at an AGR show in April, and it's been getting sporadically stuck in my head ever since.

5. Norah Jones- "Ruler of My Heart"

The presence of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band makes this one more of a foot-tapper than the typical Norah dinner-jazz type balladry. I'll admit two things right now: a, I love Norah's voice, and b, she's one of my biggest celebrity crushes. That nice, wholesome, talented-yet-still attractive thing is top-notch. I dig.

4. Modern Groove Syndicate- "Big Business"

Another appearance by an ex-member of Agents, this time saxman JC Kuhl. Not quite jazz, not quite funk,this instrumental number is guaranteed to make your soul stir and your ass shake. The MGS guys opened with this track the first time I ever saw them, and I was hooked from the moment the band kicked in. Check these guys out if like jazzy-type stuff and you need something fresh to bob your head to: right here

3. Kelly Clarkson- "Since U Been Gone"

Yeah, I know Kelly supposedly has some other single that is the new Tyrannosaur of the airwaves, but I'm still scraping this one out of the recesses of my brain. You know catchy when three mid-20s males are riding home from a Wilco concert with the windows down singing along to this tune at the top of their lungs. It may be a guilty pleasure, but it's a damn fine pop song. Might I add that this young woman is the only worthwhile performer to emerge from four years of American Idol.

2. Weezer- "Beverly Hills"

Boom-boom chick beat. Slow, spoken-wordish lyrics. A cheesy talkbox guitar solo from the wrong decade. Definitely not the best song off of the record. Yet, I can't get this one out of my head as many as five months after I first heard it. Maybe it's the thunderous chorus, maybe it's the nostalgia of the Weez being one of my favorite bands, but it's something, and it hasn't shown any signs of leaving.

1. Mike Doughty- "Ways and Means"

Chances are, if any of you have ventured from the worldly relevant talk of ST's place over to my collection of random anecdotes, you've noticed that I have a tendency to frequently mention Doughty, or use lines from this song titles as post titles. I think if I made an earworms list every week, nary a week would go by without a Doughty tune on it. I find that I enjoy Doughty's work much more post-Soul Coughing and post-drugs. This one's a funky little guitar/synth/drum machine track that is a money-back guaranteed head-nodder.

Thanks Charlie. Apologies in advance, but I just can't resist this:

[fast show reference]

Mmm Jazz.


[/fast show reference]

Next week: Tom from Bad-Wolf.... same time, same relative dimensions in space.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee]

Oh go and tell the king that the sky is falling in when it's not...

Over at Angry Chimp, Herge has been running an "Over to You Friday", where some of his readers have contributed some posts in the house style. It's very funny and you should go and check it out, not least because Lord Bargain has contributed a very funny "Dalek and Borg" sketch as well as a "Never Trust A Dalek"..... Somewhat inevitably, I myself have contributed a "Missing Scene From Star Wars".

As you know, I'm incredibly vain, so (with apologies to Herge) I'm going to double post my contribution over here.

Now get over to Herge's place to check out the others - very funny.

If you'll excuse me for a while, I have to disappear off to watch my favourite film as I have a deadline for submitting a post on it to Lord B. It's no great hardship though...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

We didn’t get wet, we didn’t dare

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that one of my favourite authors, John Irving, has just published a new book: "Until I Find You". It's a nice juicy big one too, coming in at over 800 pages.

Usually this would be cause for a great celebration and a period of withdrawal as I retreat from society to read this book in a single sitting.

Alas, then that the bad news is that it has universally been hailed as crap.

"Whoever first told John Irving that he was the Dickens of his day did him great damage. His talent isn't a torrent but a stream which needs careful damming if it is to build up the proper pressure. When it meanders as sluggishly as this, his limitations bob up becalmed." [the Guardian]

"Subtlety of every sort is abolished; if there is the remotest chance of the reader not following an insinuation or plot turn, Irving will devote the subsequent paragraph to its explication. That most reliable indicator of crudeness of thought, the exclamation mark, is to be found in abundance....one sobs with despair at the thought of a sequel" [The Sunday Times]

Truth be told, I've not been overly impressed with his last two books. "A Widow For One Year" took me a long while to get hooked, and "The Fourth Hand" (lacrosse playing, frozen dog turd flicker aside) left me cold. Some of his books are majestic though. If you haven't read any, I would heartily recommend that you immerse yourself into something like "The Cider House Rules" (although don't bother with the film), "A Son of the Circus" or (my favourite) "A Prayer for Owen Meany".

So yes, I will be buying this doorstopper of a book at the weekend and giving it a go based entirely on the author's past glories and a desire to make up my own mind about it. Look out for a review within a week if it's any good, and in about 12 months if it's not.

Actually, it's pouring with rain here tonight, and I'm filled with a desire to curl up in bed and read a book, so I think that's just what I'm going to do.

nighty-night kids.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

a vacation in a foreign land

Never mind the thousands of lives and the billions of pounds thrown away in all of those pointless conflicts across the world, I’m worried about the amount of money that the British Armed Forces have thrown away in advertising over the years. Newspapers, magazines, cinemas, magazines.... no medium is too expensive to be used. Be like Frank, we are told, join the army. Travel the world. Meet lots of interesting people. Go windsurfing. Go skiing. Make great friends. Slaughter innocent civilians in a war with no objectives and no clear enemy. Oh hang on, they don’t use that one in the adverts. I must be reading between the lines.

Sounds great though, doesn’t it? But what kind of skills does one need to join the army? What kind of person are they looking for? Well, from what I can gather from the advertising, the ability to take off your sunglasses when you are roundly patronising some generic African villagers is highly prized. You’re officer material if you can pull that trick off, I’m told. Prince Harry is currently working on this particular exercise at Sandhurst as we speak, although I’ve heard that he’s really struggling to grasp it, but he has scored very highly in his classes on misogyny and casual racism, and should pass out with flying colours. Perhaps top of the class.

Maybe I should consider a career change?

Or perhaps I’d rather pull out my own intestines with chopsticks and stir-fry my sweetmeats to serve as a starter.

Why all the advertising though? Are they running dangerously low on cannon fodder or something? Is the average IQ of the survivors running dangerously high and in need of dilution by some new blood?

Why do we have an army again?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

don't slow down you're gonna crash

I had a little accident this morning.

I had just got into my car, and as it was facing the wrong way, I backed it into the neighbouring street to turn it around and head into work. As I was reversing my car, I bumped into a stationary car which was parked (badly) across the apex of the corner. I wasn't driving fast, but there was a definite impact. My initial reaction was that I couldn't have done any damage at that speed, and mindful of the fact that all the cars in my street have the little nicks and scratches associated with on-road parking, including mine, I drove on to work. As I pulled away though, I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw a yellow flash on the otherwise blue bumper. This played on my mind. Had I hit the car harder than I thought? I stopped a few streets further away and got out to have a look at the back of my car. Nothing. Barely a scratch. I shrugged, and rationalised that whatever I saw on the other car must already have been there.

Of course, me being me, I couldn't leave it at that, and this has preyed on my mind all day. When I got home, pretty much the first thing that I did was to surreptitiously wander down the street to have a look at the other car (which had been moved). It's an Escort, and it looked as though the bumper had some kind of crumple zone filled with foam to absorb impact, and this had collapsed, leaving a hole.


That must have been me.

I immediately rang Lord B and C and asked them what I should do. Both of them had the same advice. Do nothing. The world is full of terrible people and you will only be exploited if you try to be nice. Not last week, someone in a white car had bumped into me in the car park at work and left a little dink in the bodywork and a whole lot of white paint. I had been mildly annoyed but left it at that.

I felt terrible about this, but I knew what I had to do. A dink is one thing, but a hole in the bumper is something else. I had to do what I would hope that someone else would do if they had dented my car. Mindful of C's advice to admit nothing, I wrote a note saying something like "Call me regarding your car" and my number. The plan was to screen the call and see what they had to say. If they rang me immediately and knew what it was about, then it probably was me and we could just move on to getting quotes or something. If they didn't ring me, then they may just have thought it was about their bad parking or something.

I immediately felt better. This would cost me a few hundred quid, but I would be doing the right thing, and would be able to live with myself. I wandered out to the car, and slipped the envelope under the windscreen wiper. Now I was out in the open, I wandered to the back bumper to have a closer look. The bumper had definitely caved in, but actually there was some more damage on the body work around the side of the car, and a splash of blue paint on the bumper as though someone had touched up the bodywork. As I looked at it, I started to think how this would be more expensive than I thought, but that it looked like a hell of a lot of damage to have caused by touching bumpers. In fact, hang on, close up, this car looks a bit crappy. I started having misgivings. Did I really do all that?

I wandered back round to the front of the car to retrieve my envelope. As I did so, I could see that the tax had expired at the end of May. No tax. Probably no insurance. Surely more extensive damage than I could have caused. I walked.

I did carelessly reverse into that car, regardless of how badly it was parked, and I really wanted to do the right thing; to do what I would like to believe all decent people would do in the same position. Instead, I have assumed that the owner of this car would have tried to exploit me for damage that I probably didn't cause.

Why can't I believe that this person would just smile and tell me not to worry and that it wasn't anything to do with me? Why have I assumed the worst about someone to protect myself? I feel like a total shit, and I think a little bit worse of myself than I did this morning.

(I also hope no one saw me).

don't think, don't worry. everything's just fine. just fine.

Finally, my neurologist called me this evening (the back story to this is in here somewhere)

My scans have revealed a patch of inflammation on my cervical cord. This confirms the intial diagnosis of myelitis. The scans have ruled out a whole pile of other things though. Nasty things, like fluid on the brain, tumours and stuff like that. Clearly this is good news, although it leaves us no further forward in understanding what has caused this inflammation.

I have three options:

1) Do nothing, and wait for the inflammation to subside

2) Have a course of intravenous steroids to try to accelerate the healing

3) Have lumbar punctures to try and understand the underlying cause of the myelitis.

The lumbar punctures would not be very likely to tell us much more than we already know, apparently, and the steroids are pretty serious drugs and may trigger something else (and would also rule me out of international sport for the forseeable future). So waiting it is. I'll leave it another week, then talk to the neurologist again to see if my symptoms have turned the corner, and then probably go and see him for another consultation the week after that. In the meantime "gentle exercise" must be my reluctant watchword (the neurologist pointed out that this was a relative term: what is gentle exercise for me, would be very strenuous for him. I took this as a gentle nudge that I should take things easier).

Frustrating, but I suppose it's a step forwards.


À propos nothing, except that I saw someone wearing a pair when I was leaving work, I feel that I need to tell you that I really, really hate this kind of shoe. I think they are hideous. I'm not really sure why I think like this, but somehow I feel the need to share that piece of information with you.

If you happen to own a pair of these (or their ilk), I can only apologise, but it's the way I feel.

Phew. Glad I got that off my chest!

Monday, August 15, 2005

We'll drink beyond the boundaries of sense

The British government want to relax the licensing laws so that it could become possible to buy an alcoholic drink 24 hours a day. The government's big plan behind this is to try to create more 'continental' drinking habits in Britain, where people apparently go out for a long leisurely drink over a number of hours. This would presumably mean a move away from the 'binge drinking' culture we currently have, where a closing time of 11pm encourages people to drink relentlessly for a few short hours in an attempt to get skulled as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This has sparked off quite a bit of controversy, and last week a report from the Council of Her Majesty's Circuit Judges outlined fears that violent crime would soar. In some ways, I find this entirely believable. To have a continental style drinking culture requires continental style drinkers, and last time I was out in Paris, I didn't see too many people drinking Bacardi Breezers in a 2 for 1 promotion whilst wobbling down the high street shouting. You would have to assume that extended opening times would just see the Great British public drink more, not the same amount over a longer time.

Mind you, if everyone is like me, then there probably isn't all that much to fear. I was in Manchester this weekend to watch the cricket with my mates. On Saturday, rain delayed the start of the game, so we went to a sports bar for a spot of breakfast and to kill some time. I had my first pint at about 10:30 and we stayed in the bar until about 15:30 when we headed over to the ground and more beer. In the end we saw about 14 overs of cricket, and I was asleep in my seat for about half of that. At the close of play, we went to the pub for another pint, then on to Curry Mile for a Jalfrezi and some more beer. Then back to the hotel for a quick Glenmorangie and to fall asleep in front of match of the day and then bed.

I suppose in terms of units of alcohol consumed it was a classic binge drinking session. It didn't exactly make me violent though.... oh no. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I was in bed by 11pm.

I didn't shout abuse at anyone in the street. I didn't letch at any passing women. I didn't start a fight. I didn't chuck my guts up. Nothing. I just drank a pint of water and went to bed.

In fact, I'm actually a little bit ashamed to call myself a binge drinker. What kind of man am I?

It's a bit pathetic really, isn't it? I think I find the idea of 24 hour opening more frightening a prospect than the Council of Her Majesty's Circuit Judges.... far too tiring.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?

I'm absolutely shattered at the moment, but there's no lie-in for me tomorrow, I'm afraid to say. Oh no. I'm up at some ungodly hour to catch a train to Manchester. Why? Because I'm off to watch me some cricket!

I'm sure the sacrifice will all be worthwhile when I take my seat in the stands at Old Trafford and my personal involvement in the 2005 Ashes series begins..... judging by the close of play score today, it should be a fantastic day. I appreciate that cricket is something of a minority interest, but I'd be pleased if you could all humour me over the next few weeks. The series is delicately poised at 1-1 and England have a great chance of making it 2-1 over the next couple of days. This is pretty exciting news. England have not won the Ashes since 1986/7, and have barely won a single meaningful game against the Aussies since then. In fact, in all my years of attending cricket matches, I don't think I have ever actually seen England beat Australia, and certainly not when the Ashes were still at stake.

The Premiership football season also starts tomorrow, but as I've said elsewhere, when the cricket is as good as this, who cares? If England can win the game at Old Trafford, that means they will begin the Trent Bridge Test with a chance of taking a 3-1 lead in a 5 Test series and actually winning that stupid bloody urn.

Trent Bridge! That's my home ground - it's barely 5 minutes' walk from my front door. That would be brilliant.

And the fancy dress costumes arrived this week.... This is something of a tradition. Over the past few years I have variously attended the Saturday of the Trent Bridge Test dressed as Obi Wan Kenobi, Fred Flintstone & Santa (that year was especially memorable actually: there were 9 of us in all, all dressed up with full-on beards & hats and everything - the hottest day of the year). This year's costume is still a secret, but let me give you a clue by saying that Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....

....But that's not for another couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I'm just getting excited about the prospect of England maybe winning this game....

I leave you with this: if you thought that Juan Carlos was the King of Spain, then you are very much mistaken.... and that's all I'm saying.


Tunnels leading to empty rooms

Morning. After yesterday's non-post, I feel somewhat obliged to get you something decent to read as quickly as I can..... so it's an early posting for this week's Earworms.

The Guest Editor this week used to be a Wombat, you know.... she's also a very talented poet, writer, artist, amateur photographer, statue standee & I suspect a pretty mean model/actress.

ladies & gentlemen...without further ado:

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #12 - Bee from Life in the B .

Here they are then, Mr Swiss - the Bee's Earworms of the Week! I have to tell you, I had a difficult job keeping it down to 10, as I seem to have an in-head DJ on full-time duty playing a (to say the least) very eclectic range of tunes, but the following 10 have been the most enduring


10. Ash - "Envy"

Having reclaimed a lot of CDs from storage in Damo's house at the weekend, this 2002 single was one of the first things I refreshed my ears with as soon as I got home. An absolutely stomping pop tune about wanting to, you know, do it with a lady. And what with the lovely Tim Wheeler's cries of "I am getting trigger-happy but it doesn't help at all" and "Too much, too much!", alternating with the infuriatingly gorgeous Charlotte Hatherley's "Ooooooh-ooooooohs" ... well, let's just say it has a little something for everyone.

9. Luther Vandross - "Never Too Much"

This was played on the radio as I was being given a lift to work the other day, and it has stuck in my head ever since. I've always loved this song - and it was with untold joy that I found myself dancing to it at Num Num's and Icy Chick's wedding a couple of months back. Luther Vandross just had the most beautiful voice. RIP Luther.

8. Clearlake - "Finally Free"

I swear to you this isn't just yet another shameless plug for the excellent official Clearlake site run by Damo. Can I help it if it's a classic earworm of the first order and has hardly left my head since I first heard the demo version? It kind of sounds like the Kinks, too, which is generally a Good Thing.

7. Magic Numbers - "Love Me Like You"

Hammered into my head from being heard a grand total of four times yesterday, since it appears to be playlisted to buggery by Radio 2 (which my work colleague listens to in the office). I like the Magic Numbers. Not only do they make a good sound, they also (apparently) walked out on their debut Top of the Pops appearance because Richard Bacon made "derogatory, unfunny remarks" about their weight. Good for them! Richard Bacon is an idiot.

6. Van Halen - "Why Can't This Be Love?"

Blame VH1 Classic for this one. Actually, no ... "blame" is not quite the right word. "Thank" would be more appropriate, I think. It's a fantastic song. Air guitars out for the lads!

5. XTC - "Mayor of Simpleton"

If I'm ever at a loss as to what to listen to, I find that "Fossil Fuel: XTC Singles 1977-92" usually tends to be a good bet, and on a good day this song, which is one of my favourite songs ever, will follow me around all day like a sweetly-scented cloud of perfume. Andy Partridge is one of the best lyricists I know of. "If depth of feeling is a currency / Then I'm the man who grew the money tree" ... perfect.

4. Joy Zipper - "1"

I haven't heard very many songs by Joy Zipper, but I keep hearing this on 6 Music and it makes me (a) very happy and (b) want to seek out more of their stuff.

3. Kid Carpet - "Nelson Street Space Invaders"

A song about signing on at the Nelson Street job centre in Bristol, which I pass every day on the bus on my way to work, hence the earworm. Kid Carpet is a highly entertaining chap - one of the finer products of Bristol, along with sherry, hot air balloons, Concorde (alas), and the BBC's wide range of splendid natural history programmes - and this particular song rocks like a bastard: "Don't line me up a job with every other joe / 'Cause I just can't say no / Oh please have mercy on my soul" ...

2. Editors - "Bullets"

This infuriated me by being stuck in my head without me knowing what it was. I just had the "you don't need this disease you don't you don't need this disease you don't" bit going round and round in my head for days, and it was only just recently that (with the help of Damo) I discovered what it was. Not that I have anything against the song, mind - it's a good song - it's just that I think it was a bit churlish to barge its way into my head like that without even introducing itself.

1. Brendan Benson - "Life in the D"

OK, so this one's my own fault for paraphrasing a Brendan Benson song when renaming my blog, so that every time I look at my blog title I get the song stuck in my head. Still, I'm not complaining. And it is quite appropriate for a blog really: "My life in the D / Is a tragicomedy / A poetic verse..."


Oh ... and sorry there is a tiny bit of html in there. It snuck in while I wasn't looking ... :/


Thanks Bee!

Our with that, our unbroken run of female Guest Editors comes to an end. I'm hoping that next week's Editor will be Charlie from Late Night Radio... but he hasn't replied yet, so don't be too surprised if it turns out to be someone totally different!

(I'm still tired, mind you)

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee]

Thursday, August 11, 2005

And I need to get some rest...

So tired.




Wednesday, August 10, 2005

change your ways while you're young

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that leave you with a smile on your face and a spring in your step. As I drove into work this morning, I decided that the Foo FIghters were perhaps not the best soundtrack for my mood, and I reached into my glovebox and pulled out the CD lying on the top of the pile. A couple of seconds later, 'Square One' began and I started to sing along as I pulled up at a set of traffic lights to turn left. The lights began to change, but as I started to move, I glanced to my right and saw that the driver of the car next to me had just glanced over at me. As our eyes met, she shot me a lovely warm, innocent smile. I didn't really have any time to respond, as by now I was moving off round the corner, but it's really lifted my mood.

I'm going to try smiling at people more often. I'm sure most of them will think I'm mental, but if it can brighten just one person's day in the way that this girl has brightened mine, then it has got to be worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in...

In the interests of science, I have just tried hopi ear candling. In case you aren't up to speed with alternative therapies, this is where you take a hollow tube made from unbleached natural cotton coated with beeswax, you stick it into your ear and light it. Apparently this then creates a mild vacuum, or has some sort of chimney effect on your ear that draws the earwax out. They are also supposed to have 'profound metaphysical implications' and draw out bad energy.

Well, I don't know about that, but the effect wasn't unpleasant, and there was an awful lot of wax left in the cone when the candle had burnt down.... I don't know if this was cerumen or just a natural by-product of burning the candle, but the end result is quite pleasing.

As is so often the case, I knew I shouldn't have looked this up on T'internet though.... apparently I have just run the risk of burns, a perforated eardrum, wax dripping into my ear and no doubt certain death. There are pictures.

What the hell was I thinking? I'm probably going to wake up deaf.

I see those sensible folk from Canada have banned them. Very wise, eh?

Down with that sort of thing.

Careful now.


I went for a 20km bike ride this evening & I got a puncture 10km from home and a call home revealed that C. wasn't in. It wasn't all bad new though: it happened just outside a pub.... and I had popped £10 into my bag. Hurray!

Given that John was using this bike on Sunday, I suppose it's lucky this didn't happen then...

Monday, August 08, 2005

And who knows which is which and who is who

I see that Tony Blair has announced a whole pile of new proposals to rid this country of extremists. I'm glad I'm one of 'Us' and not one of 'Them'. It sounds like 'They' are in for a whole world of trouble and that 'Their' easy ride is over as 'We' fight back. I hear that 'We' may even be amending the bill of Human Rights to allow 'Us' to deport 'Them' back to countries where 'They' may face imprisonment, torture or death.

I hope that 'We' are able to confidently and accurately identify who 'They' are, otherwise this whole plan is a nonsense, isn't it?

'We' can do that, can't 'We'?

Death sanitised through credit

I've long hated the National Westminster Bank's most recent advertising campaign: "There Is Another Way" - the one that bemoans the fact that banking seems to have been taken online, that you can't speak to anyone directly anymore, that bank buildings were being turned into wine bars... you know the kind of thing. It always struck me as being targeted at the worst kind of people.

Now I'm sure of it.

Their most recent advert makes reference to the fact that all their call centres are based in the UK. What are we to make of this? That they are creating jobs in this great country?


That's not it at all. What they are trying to say is that their call centres aren't based in India. That when you ring up you won't have to run the risk that will have to listen to an Indian voice that you might not understand (although in my opinion, no harder to interpret than brummie or scouse). Oh yes, bank with the NatWest and you'll deal exclusively with white people....

Turns out the Manics were right all along:

'Mein Kampf for beginners'

who gave the leopard spots and taught the birds to sing?

I really enjoyed myself at the London Triathlon yesterday, which was nice because, all things considered, I wasn't really expecting to. I think John did fantastically well, and I'm really pleased that I was there to support him and to take a few photos. I won't go on about it too much here because there will be a full run down on the Ultimate Olympian pretty soon.... suffice it to say that I have nothing but admiration for the fact that our man hauled himself around one of the most punishing events in the Olympic calendar with a smile on his face.

Triathlon is a fantastic sport, and you see so many people of all ages and all different shapes and sizes taking part. It is quite an equipment intensive sport (you need a bike and a wetsuit, for starters) so it's easy to be intimidated by people who have really expensive looking kit and think that they must be brilliant and that you don't belong. The great thing about an event like the London Tri is that it is so big, and has so many participants, that you see plenty of people hauling themselves around on really ancient and heavy looking mountain bikes, wearing scabby old trainers and antique, moth-eaten wetsuits. The swim takes place in the Albert Docks, and as you look down across the water, the 1500m looks like a very long way indeed. Competitors set out in waves, 30 minutes apart from each other, and quite often the fastest swimmers in each heat will comfortably overtake the slowest swimmers in the heat in front - you can tell as they get out because the swimmers in each heat wear different coloured swimming caps. It is the slower swimmers, the ones who have taken 50 minutes to drag themselves through the water, who have been overtaken by these sleek-shouldered athletes, who have to be helped up the ramp and out of the water to stagger towards their bikes - these are the ones who get the biggest cheers from the crowd and who best represent what triathlon is all about. As they sweep past you on the bike or on the run, the faster athletes will often find a word of encouragement for you. It's nice. It's inclusive. It's bloody hard work.

Whilst I was waiting for John to finish his swim, I watched as Men's Olympic 30-34 heat 3 set off at 13:40. That was the heat that I was supposed to be in, and for a moment I felt a bit sad. The feeling didn't last long though, as John came bursting through the time check at the end of the swim, interrupted an interview that the BBC's Craig Doyle was trying to have with the World number 2, Tim Don (Doyle had interviewed John for Grandstand the day before) and then started to chat up the girl who was telling him where to take off his wetsuit. Who wouldn't be distracted by a force of nature like that?

I'll be there for 2006. There's no way I'm missing out on this. I couldn't have done it this year if I had tried. A month ago I could have done an Olympic distance triathlon. At the moment, I could not. I went to the pool for a swim last week and managed 26 lengths before I had to stop. That's 576m - some way short of 1500m. This evening I struggled to complete a 4km run inside 30 minutes. Now I need to take things easy and let my body recover. But I will bloody well be on that starting line in 2006.

I have 363 days to get myself ready. There's no rush.... but knowing that doesn't make it any less frustrating!

Well done John. Huge achievement. See you at the marathon.

that's the magic number

Congratulations, respect and big up to the Ultimate Olympian, who completed the London Triathlon yesterday.

More later, but in the meantime, well done John!

Friday, August 05, 2005

got books to spend with every weekend

This week, like some kind of technically literate BA Baracus, I ain't got time for no introductions, fool!

Without further ado, therefore...

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #11 - Yoko from YokoSpungeon's Diary Dungeon and Bookcrossing

Dear Tone.
Thanks for inviting me to your beautiful home. I'd like to play you a few of the tunes that have been echoing around the cavernous recesses of Yokospungeon's Diary Dungeon.

Who knows, I could start an epidemic?

Cue the guitar riff for 'Whole lotta love' for the countdown a la TOTP of yesteryear, and away we go:

10. Feelgood Inc. - Gorillaz
I adore Damon Albarn and this is a great tune. My house backs onto Brixton Windmill, and I have been involved in the campaign to save the Windmill Allotments adjacent to it, including creating the website for the campaign. Obviously, the lyrics have acquired a hefty significance for me:

"Windmill, Windmill for the land
Turn forever hand in hand
Take it all in on your stride
It is sinking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let's turn forever you and me..."

9. Willy Mason - Oxygen
Things have been mighty unusual in my neck of the woods for the last few weeks. I can't explain how much more zesty life suddenly becomes when you're suddenly dodging vaporising citizens in addition to the usual muggers. This has undoubtedly been influencing the breed of earworms I am suffering from just now. I am finding myself singing this a lot as the moment.

"We can be stronger than bombs
if you're singing along and you know that you really believe
We can be richer than industry
as long as we know that there's things that we don't really need
We can speak louder than ignorance
'cause we speak in silence every time our eyes meet..."

If you do nothing else today, check some Willy out.

8. The Editors - Blood
I was very excited last week to be recommended a band 'The Editors' by my pal from Bookcrossing and Livejournal Bruised_Heel. Apart from the fact that they sound like an exciting hybrid of Depeche Mode and The Bravery, and have a wicked jangly guitar riff that you end up humming to yourself all day long, the following lyrics have been persistent of late:

"This wicked city has dragged you down,
You're with the red lights your side of town
Don't say it's easy to follow a process
There's nothing harder than keeping a promise
Blood runs through your veins, that's where our similarity ends..."

But perhaps you need to hear it to see what I mean

7. Kaiser Chiefs - I predict a riot
A friend of mine once remarked that I have a 'Music Hall sense of humour'. Humph! I would concede that my subconscious is easily pleased, because this phrasing will not leave me alone at the moment:

"Watching the people get lairy, is not very pretty I tell thee
Walking through town is quite scary, and not very sensible either"

In fact, you don't have to be Nostradamus to prophesy civil unrest in London. There was a big fat hint outside Stockwell Tube Station onThursday night when I was going into town to meet some mates. A large crowd had fixed a Brazilian flag to the concertina shutters of the station and a hand written sign had been erected which said 'SHOOT TO KILL IS TERRORISM'.

6.Candi Staton - You got the love
"Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air" and I'm sure you do too. Times when you can't get a song out of your head, for example. There's something about the nonchalant independence of the baseline of this song and the slightly spooky chord change at the bridge that just sticks and makes you want to listen to it again to try to purge your brain of it. But brain won't have any of that, because brain and Candi Staton are sitting in the tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G. See what I mean?

5.U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
I'm not a big fan of Bono - he gets my back up something chronic with his gigantic ego, his Wonderbra shades and his nauseating mullet. That said, credit where it's due - the man has honked out a few good tunes in his time. Ah, I love the smell of zeitgeist in the morning...

"I can’t believe the news today,
oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away
How long...how long must we sing this song?
How long? how long...?"

Watch it. Go ahn, you will you will you will you will you will you will.

4. Bodyrockers - I like the way
There are some things a lady ought not confess tickle her fancy in politecompany. Examples that would fall within this category are 'Brut 33' aftershave and Mickey Rourke. Nonetheless, it would be churlish to deny that these, and the next song, possess what in the era of Tupperware was referred to as 'real man appeal'. Drums, high hats, a muffled disco baseline and a husky voice and I'm in danger of peaking too early.

3. Basement Jaxx - Oh My Gosh!
Listen darling. Until you have heard the following lyrics issue from the wrinkled mouths of the bodypopping aged, your life remains incomplete.

"To tell you the truth he was just a lil bit fresh
He said he liked the way I put my lipstick on
He said how many sugars do you like in your tea?
I said forget about the sugar have a spoonful of me, cuz I taste so sweet"

Keep your eyes peeled for my girl, the old white haired chick that does the "Yeah-yah!". Priceless. Watch it. Do it. DO IT!

2.Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell - Drop it like it's hot
If The Neptunes produce it, it'll be fresh as the moment when the pod went "Pop click pop pop pop, click pop click click".

1. Jamiroquai - Feels just like it should
It was a toss up between this one and the Scissor Sisters' 'Filthy Gorgeous' but Jay Kay calls heads and heads it is. This is because
(a) he is one of my nominated name drops because I once met him on the stairs of his house, and (b) because of the way he sings "Cause you said it would feel that good - and it does..."which makes my legs turn to jelly like a silly teenage girl.

0. M Ward - Fuel for Fire
Late nights on the gin. Melancholy sigh.

"Got 45's to play at night
Got books to spend with every weekend
The story's always the same
Got lonesome fuel for fire"

It's been lovely to meet you all, and thanks Tone for the Tune-er-oppity. I will probably be on holiday when you all read this, but if anyone wants to read my Livejournal, 'friend' me and I will reciprocate on my return.

Any friend of Swiss' is a friend of mine.


Thanks Yoko - have a nice holiday!

Next week we will be graced by the presence of the inestimable Bee (or, if you prefer, The Artist Formerly Known As Serena Wombat) from Life in the B .

I ain't gonna fly, sucka! Mmm milk and a cookie....Zzzzzzzzzzzz

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko]

Defend and Attack....

With the new season almost upon us, Lord Bargain has started up a football blog, and I’m afraid to say that I’m a contributor (and Flash will be too, I'm told)

If you like that kind of thing, then please head over to Cheer Up Alan Shearer and get stuck into meaningless ramblings on inconsequential subjects.

It’s a lot like here, in that respect….

Thursday, August 04, 2005

you are only coming though in waves

There's nothing like knowing that you must lie absolutely still for making you want to scratch you nose, to adjust the position of your arms, to cross and uncross your legs, to discover that there is something in your eye and desperately want to rub it.... to shout and sing and scream my name out! Hava Nagila! Hava Nagila, ha ha ha! Oh, I'm alive! Look out. Oh, I'm alive! I'm alive! Hello birds! Hello trees! I'm alive!

....and after 75 minutes it was all over, just as I reached 'OHMSS' on the CD, which was nice.

Results next week, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

we all know you're soft 'cos we've all seen you dancing

Thanks for all your suggestions, but I have now finally decided which CD I am going to take with me for my MRI scan tomorrow. Well, I say I decided, but actually what I did was move the goalposts a little and decide that I would create my own:

1. Don't Panic - Coldplay
2. Hope There's Someone - Antony & the Johnsons
3. Blood - Editors
4. Painkiller - Turin Breaks
5. I Have Forgiven Jesus - Morrissey
6. Dosed - Red Hot Chili Peppers
7. If You Go Away - Dusty Springfield
8. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
9. Fire - Jimi Hendrix
10. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
11. White Shadows - Coldplay
12. Piazza, New York Catcher - Belle & Sebastian
13. Rockin' the Suburbs - Ben Folds
14. Let Me Kiss You - Nancy Sinatra
15. Rock & Roll Suicide - Seu Jorge
16. Going Missing - Maximo Park
17. Death Of A Disco Dancer - The Smiths
18. You Get What You Give - New Radicals
19. On Her Majesty's Secret Service - John Barry Orchestra

1 hour and 16 minutes worth squeezed onto one CD to help pass the 90 minutes I'll be squeezed into the tube (my original first choice was 'Parachutes' by Coldplay, and then I remembered that it's barely 40 minutes long)

I think that ought to just about do the trick.

Not **too** much danger of dancing to much of that stuff either, eh?

** today's post title was chosen by John, the Ultimate Olympian, thanks to his winning entry in the Coldplay lyric competition way back in the mists of time. John is, of course, taking part in the London Triathlon this weekend, and I will be there to cheer him on. I'm sure if any of you want to make a pledge, he'll be happy to receive you over at his place....

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

My only friend, the end...

So much for my early night.

England prevails.

in her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat...

I've cheered up considerably.

It's amazing how restorative the simple things can be. In this case, balance was found with a little help from:

Ah..... bisto.


I still can't think of my 5 favourite records of the last 10 years though, nevermind come up with a list of 5 that will go down as the "great" records of the same period. Every time I think of a song I really like (say "Common People" or "Sparky's Dream" to pick a couple nominated by Lord B and Damo respectively), I think of other songs by the same artist that I like more (in this case, "Underwear" and "Ain't That Enough").

Who came up with this stupid idea anyway?

I like "Hey Ya!" though, so I'm sticking that in my classics list. I'll mull on this whilst I'm stuck in the tube on Thursday


There have been lots of songs written that namecheck the days of the week. Some do it better than others, but this is my absolute favourite, bar none:

"Monday - humiliation
Tuesday - suffocation
Wednesday - condescension
Thursday - is pathetic
By Friday life has killed me
By Friday life has killed me."

Only Morrissey could play this game and manage to have killed himself before the end of the week! 'Friday I'm In Love' it is not. Old Mozzer really is a barrel of laughs, isn't he? Cheers me up everytime. Seriously.


and with that motley assortment of barely formed thoughts.... bed!

Monday, August 01, 2005

and the vision that was planted in my brain still remains

I rang the hospital this morning, and my scan is booked for Thursday this week. The nice lady who made the appointment with me told me that the whole thing will take at least 90 minutes and that I was allowed to bring a CD with me to listen to as I was trapped in the tube.

"What kind?"
"Oh anything you like, as long as it doesn't make you dance"

And with that, ladies & gentlemen, I am open to all suggestions.

Blood runs through your veins. That's where our similarity ends

As I mentioned yesterday, I bought 'The Back Room' by Editors when I was out shopping. Flash asked what it was like as he'd heard a lot about them....

Let me put it this way: if you like Interpol, then you will like the Editors. They sound exactly the same. Well alright, maybe not exactly the same - perhaps the singers sound a bit different: Interpol have a guy who sounds like an undertaker and the Editors have a guy who sounds like a pathologist.

Don't get me wrong: I love Interpol and this album sounds pretty good as well. It's just that the similarity is really striking. Still, as Interpol nicked their whole act from Joy Division, the Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen and the like, I suppose they can't complain too much.