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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

It took me years to write, will you take a look?

I'm now about 50 pages into the Da Vinci Code... and I'm thinking I should probably stop reading it. There are a couple of main reasons for this:

1) I have not been grabbed by the plot. I'm told that if you are not grabbed from the first page, you may as well not bother. At the moment I don't give a rat's arse who killed who or why.

2) Dan Brown's writing style is annoying me. He'd no doubt be flattered by the comparison, but I'm reacting to the way he writes in the same way as I react when I read Salman Rushdie. When I read Rushdie, it always irks me that the smug voice of the author is always far louder than the voices of any of his characters. For me, Brown is the same - except that his lumpen text has not so far shown a single trace of Rushdie's redeeming ability to write absolutely beautiful, floating prose. Here is an author who has read a couple of books on the Louvre and on minor Christian sects and is determined to browbeat his reader into mistaking him for someone with a genuine in-depth knowledge of the things he is writing about.

I'm not fooled.

I am less than impressed with the writing too. In the first paragraph - in fact in the first words of the book - we are introduced to a "renowned curator". He's not just a curator; he's a renowned curator. I know you have to cut an author a certain amount of slack and allow him some shorthand to allow his plot to move... but in the first two words? There's more: we are told that The Jardins de Tuileries "literally inspired the birth of the Impressionist movement". Really? Do you know what "literally" means, Dan Brown? He's also extremely rude and high-handed in his attitude to the French and to France, "a country reknowned for machismo, womanizing and diminutive insecure leaders like Napoleon and Pepin the Short".

I could go on, but I've only read 50 pages, and I wouldn't want to pre-judge....

I'm going to give it to the end of the weekend, and if the plot hasn't got interesting enough to drown out all this other stuff, I'm going to stop reading it.

Life's too short and I've got comics to read.

Friday, April 28, 2006

made a meal out of me and came back for more....

Evening all. Would you look at this! A Guest Editor two weeks running. It's almost as though it's some sort of a regular feature here. Who would have thought it?

I discovered this week's editor as a result of his love of music, and if you go and have a look at his blog - especially the links on the right-hand-side - you'll see exactly what I mean. So, Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, I will leave you in his capable hands.....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #38 - bedshaped from some guy on a journey

I feel honoured to add my little bit to the delights of this blog. Swiss asked me to do this a couple of weeks ago and within a couple of hours, I already had a list. The trouble was, this list of ‘Earworms’ was over 25 songs long. Too many by far. What followed was a lot of trimming down, some changes, some more trimming down, some more changes and when I had a list of just 10, it appeared that none of them were on the original list. Go figure.

So….without further ado….

“This week, I ‘ave been mostly listening to….”

Arcade Fire “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”

This is a band that I wanna love. I first caught them on MTV a while back, some live concert they did. I’d never heard of them before and initially I wasn’t struck’ by their music, but more so by their appearance. They look like the most unlikely band in the world and that’s why I liked them so much. Something different!

This song is a great example of how they pull everything together and somehow squeeze out something along the lines of a near perfect formation of a song…..The gentle opening…the slight build up…the crescendo of the chorus…then the deliverance of a great hook. His voice is nothing special, but the words are great and the way he compliments himself with the chord changes just gets my goat. It’s a great song to drive to. At 2 minutes 52 seconds, it hits the peak. This would be when you would see me pounding the steering wheel in time with the drums and singing my head off.

And if my parents are crying
then I'll dig a tunnel
from my window to yours

The Killers “All those things that I’ve done"

For me, this is the standout track on their album. The original video was great, then, they re-released the song and reshot the video into something that made the song appear crummy. It did the song no favours, that’s for sure. I caught The Killers at just the right time. They hadn’t had anything big, but I could see potential and stuck with them. 2 releases later and they were on every ‘hip kids’ lips. Just check out that major, major hook that digs in at 2 minutes, 31 seconds. I defy anybody to listen to this and not wanna sing along. The choir sound backing up, giving the emphasis it deserves.

Apparently, the lead singer was voted best dressed male in some music awards thingy. I like them for their music personally. It’s a ‘feel good’ song, that’s for sure. There’s just something that this song sets off inside that makes me feel like a 14 year old kid that’s just had his first kiss from a girl behind the bikesheds.

I got soul, but I’m not a soldier

Fine Young Cannibals “Ever fallen in love”

For me, cover versions should be marked with a sound that pays homage to the original and yet has all the trademarks of the artist doing the cover. The FYC did exactly that when they covered this Buzzcocks classic. Almost the entire song is a hook for me. The drum beats, the bassline, the strumming guitar, his vocal patterns, the whole thing. This is the kind of song that comes on the radio and lifts your mood.

They did some shit, they did some good stuff, but for me, this…..yeah, ok a cover version, is the best thing The FYC ever did. His voice used to grate on me in their other songs. And even now, when I think back and try to imagine them….all I can vision is Lister, Rimmer and The Cat from Red Dwarf for some reason. No, I don’t know either! Exactly the kind of song that I don’t listen to for ages, then all of a sudden, it rears it’s head on some radio station and the hook just sinks right back in.

A classic!

Ever fallen in love, in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with.”

Kanye West “Gone”

This is without a shadow of a doubt the standout track on his latest album. The guy has a very clever ear and delivers something that is both quirky and interesting. Something other people in the ‘rap’ sector sadly lack nowadays. This would be a great song on a soundtrack for a movie, right at the point when the girl breaks up with the guy and he reflects…like a flashback of all the past times with her. And when you think the song is all done, the mood changes when the strings kick in and he carries on…continuing the story…

On the first listen to his album, this was the one track that I just couldn’t shake out of my head. I can remember a couple of days later, remembering part of the hook sample and it drove me nuts trying to think where it came from. Strings and rap???? You better believe it baby!

They claim you never know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”

Stevie Wonder "Superstition”

Wind the windows down, put your shades on and just soak up this song while driving in your car. The keyboard hook is amazing and gets under your skin like some huge pre-op needle. I’m not a Stevie wonder fan by any means, but this song never fails to get my vibes pulsating. A simple, yet annoyingly good drum pattern kicks it off in that ‘instantly recognisable way’ …..then the keyboard kicks in like a slapping bassline…then add a little “chicken grease” as Prince would call it and top it off with some horns that compliment the song like brown sauce compliments a bacon sandwich. The hook that drives the entire song is so good, I can’t believe that somebody hasn’t sampled it.

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

Chemical Brothers “The Golden Path”

I have a lot of time for these guys. A LOT of time. This particular song always comes to me when I feel like I wanna hear something that will lift my mood, even though the subject of the lyrics are far from an inspiring story. A wonderful collaboration with The Flaming Lips, that originally looked as good on paper as a duet between The KLF and Tammy Wynette, but of course some of us may remember how well they pulled that one off! A driving, thumping, hurling song, with subtle fiddly bits of electronica, melted with his unusual voice and vocal technique makes this a song that comes back to haunt again and again. That clever keyboard hook that compliments the vocals and bassline just melts this song into something way, way beyond the normal crap that gets pushed out but these kinds of artists.

Please forgive me. I never meant to hurt you.

The Bluetones “Slight Return”

Ever since I heard this song, way back when….It’s always stuck in my head as ‘one of those great pop songs’. I don’t even know what it is about this song that consistently pulls me in, whether it’s his vocal patterns, or the simple guitar, or just the nice feel of the song.
It’s a feel good song for me. The type that pops on the radio or cuts into the cd compilation somewhere and strikes a familiar chord, resulting in a tapping foot, some air guitar and a smile.

It can be one of those songs that gets mentioned in conversation and people will go, “Who?”. But after about 15 seconds of listening to it, they then say, “oh yeah…I LOVE this song!” Its status reminds me of The La’s “There she goes”. One of those songs by a band who continue to make half decent stuff, but will always be remembered for ‘that one song’.

All this will fade away, so I’m coming home

The Blues Brothers “Everybody needs somebody to love”

I really have no idea where this song came from. I haven’t been listening to or watching The Blues Brothers lately, but as I was doing some jiggery pokery with the list, this song just found itself on the re-writes. How can anybody listen to this and not be reminded of the great scene from the film. Not seen it? How very dare you! Sung by the fantastic Dan Akroyd and John Belushi (God rest his soul), accompanied by a string of semi famous talent. It’s got everything. A catchy chorus, a great hook, choirs singing as back up vocals and a fantastic, easy on the ear blues feel.

The Vines “Homesick”

They’ve done something much better than this, but this song has something that repeats like a bad curry (So I’m told!). His meandering vocals and the simplicity of the tune makes this feel like a song you’ve heard a million times before, even on the first listen. And isn’t that how all great songs should sound? At 2 minutes and 41 seconds, the guitar solo kicks in. Such a simple riff, that I can’t help but finger and thumb over the steering wheel when I’m driving. At 3 minutes and 37 seconds, the song feels finished, but it carries on. And then becomes a song that I don’t want to end or am hovering over the ‘repeat’ button for. Songs should be just like that. So good, it’s instantly repeatable!

AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”

What can I say? This has a guitar riff that’s as instantly recognisable as “Sweet child o’ mine”.
I’ve always liked this song, but the time that moved it from being “a song I liked” to “A song I love”, was back in 2003. I was at the V festival and it was the time when everything wound down. The end of the night, the end of the music, the end of the festival, we found ourselves in the dance tent. It was heaving and some trance stuff was bleeding thru the speakers. People were lost in the moment.

We danced around as best we could and soaked up the final tunes, when the DJ mixed in this track. Completely out of nowhere! My brother and I looked at each other, smiled and danced our little socks off. The place went wild!

Just listen to that opening riff.
Just check out those driving drums.
Just check out when the second guitar kicks in.

This is being played by me a lot lately, because I’m looking forward to this years festival and this song helps me get in the mood. Fantastic riff, beating drums, sing a long chorus….I rest my case.

And there it is.
Now ask me again and the list will be completely different.


Ah beautiful. ladies and gentlemen... I give you bedshaped. An excellent list - and amply linked too. Thank you very much. Fingers crossed I'll have another Guest Editor next week.... Have an excellent long weekend y'all.

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold]

Thursday, April 27, 2006

everybody's got their dues in life to pay...

"Good morning......."

Turns out the last two years have all been a dream. In about 12 weeks time I expect to be back where I was until 1st May 2004.

*blows tiny party horn*

Yes, I am a bit pissed off about this. I have spent the last few months working on moving myself into a more generic role in my current company (i.e. one that is less tied to the outsource) with a view to moving onwards and upwards. This has apparently been a waste of time. On the other hand, I'm also choosing to look on this as an opportunity. From the moment this was announced this morning until the moment when I sign on the dotted line in July, I have a chance to shape my own destiny and the role that I will be going back to do. I intend to seize that chance.

It remains to be seen if this can be made worth my while.... but it might be. If it's not, then I'll be off.

I guess we'll see, eh?

(Oh God - re-reading that, I sound a touch like I've been in therapy. Perhaps I need to take some time to swim in lake 'me'.... )

* I'd like to stress that when I wake up from this dream, I do not expect to find myself married to Bobby Ewing, or to find him in my shower. Just so you know.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

in, out, in, out. Shake it all about....

[boring work talk]

We've got a big announcement at work tomorrow.

Maybe you need a bit of history. The company that I used to work for 'outsourced' its IT department a couple of years ago. The idea is that this enables them to get rid of a lot of fixed cost and gives them access to skills and expertise that will enable them to deliver things they could never have managed on their own. As part of the deal, I moved from the one company to the other. You don't actually have any choice in the matter: if your role is moved, you either accept the change in circumstances or you are deemed to have resigned. Actually I wasn't too bothered. I was leaving the IT department of a retailer and going into a proper IT company. In theory there ought to be greater opportunities for me to develop my career.

The outsource has been difficult for all parties (I'm sure most of them are), and there has been talk for some time now that there would be a renegotiation of the terms of the outsource agreement. This speculation became reality a few weeks ago and the serious negotiation began. The announcement tomorrow is to tell everyone what has been decided.


The thing is that the renegotiated contract is likely to see some of the roles that were outsourced a couple of years ago being taken back in-house, and the people with them....


Initially I was only invited to a company-wide briefing for 2pm on Thursday. The point of this meeting would be to let us all know what was going on. Great. I've been getting bored of all the speculation and it would be good to finally know. I wasn't too worried: my gut feeling was that I would probably be okay and would stay where I was, which on balance I thought was a good thing. I figured that the people who would be personally affected by the change would have to be briefed earlier in the day than that and certainly before everyone else was told. I hadn't been invited to any other briefings, so I got on with my day.

....and then this evening I got an email telling me to make sure I attended a briefing at 09:30 tomorrow morning to discuss the future of my role. This is an almost certain sign that I am in scope for a move back to where I was two years ago.

I'll wait to see what they say, but at the moment I'm not too thrilled at the prospect. I feel a little bit like Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower and realising that the last two years had all been a dream....


[/boring work talk]

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When you see her, say a prayer and kiss your heart goodbye...

Blog of the Week #14 -
The American Mystery Deepens

"In reality, who am I?"

If you believe her profile, Liz's favourite film is "Flipper" and her favourite music is "Hanson". I don't believe her profile.

Well.... I don't believe it to be the whole truth anyway.

Who doesn't like "Mmmm bop"?


[Previous blogs of the week: Delrico Bandito, I have ordinary addictions, Girl With A One-Track Mind, Ditch Monkey, Skinny Legs and All, Wandering Scribe, Sarah, MC Hammer, Lisa Whiteman, Paul Daniels, 2012 Olympic Special, Some Guy On A Journey, The Art of Noise]

Monday, April 24, 2006

Silently closing her bedroom door

The BBC website has just published a feature on Wandering Scribe, and there is currently a link prominently featured on the BBC News homepage.

I've talked about WS here before, but I really think it is an excellent blog - it is beautifully written and often tremendously moving. More than that though, Wandering Scribe is a voice from a place where we don't often hear voices. I hope that the exposure will have at least two effects:

1) That it will help WS get back on her feet

2) That it casts the spotlight onto a whole group of people who are currently not doing so well in Blair's Britain.

Even if the blog is a fake (and I don't think it is) then the second point is surely worth making anyway, isn't it? After she was interviewed by the New York Times the other week, WS finally caved in and put a paypal button onto her blog to enable people to leave personal donations. This simple act put her in something of a dilemma: clearly any money that was donated could make a real difference to her quality of life and might set her on the way to escaping from her car and in to proper accommodation. On the other hand, WS clearly saw it as a personal defeat; an acceptance that she was in trouble and needed outside help. It was a big hit on her self-esteem, and you can see from her posts that the presence of that button is weighing on her mind.

That button also put me in something of a dilemma: I donate to the homeless charity Shelter every month directly out of my salary. Should I also give some money directly to Wandering Scribe? I'd clearly like to help her out, but I can't help everyone can I? Should I donate to WS simply because I read her blog?

It's something I'm still wrestling with.

You can see from the number of comments on her most recent post that the exposure on the BBC has already driven a huge amount of traffic to Wandering Scribe's blog (145 and counting). Sadly, the publicity seems to have been a double-edged sword, and lots of the comments are from trolls. It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach that idiots like these anonymously fire abuse at anyone, nevermind someone who may be vulnerable.

People can be such arseholes.

it gives me a sense of enormous well-being....

I had a night out at Nottingham Dog Track this evening, and it was great. It was a work outing (something to do with improving morale, so naturally about 10 people turned up). For £7 I got entry to the stadium and a race card, a pie and pea supper, two free drinks, and two free bets.

Not bad.

What I love most about Greyhound racing is that the racecard contains an incredibly detailed guide to the form for every single race. For each of the six dogs running you get to see the details of their last 5 races (their starting position, where they finished, what happened to them during the race, their time, how far they were behind the winner, the winner's name and time...). You also get to find out the parentage of each dog, how old they are, how many times they have won. Loads and loads of information. Some people also swear blind that you should watch the dogs as they are led out towards the traps to see which dog...er...unloads itself before the race. The theory presumably being that this makes it lighter and less distracted and thus more likely to win the race.

As best I could tell, all of this information is useless and the whole thing comes down to blind chance. If your dog is sniffing its arse when the trap opens and the race starts, then it won't win. Full stop.


I actually finished the night having picked three winners and in credit, so you won't hear me complaining too much.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

to dream the impossible dream....

After many years of resisting it as a tax on greed and stupidity, I have somehow fallen into the trap of buying lottery tickets. I think it was the £100m jackpot on the Euro Millions draw that suckered me in. C. and I had a little discussion about what a ridiculously large sum of money that would be, and after a tiny bit of hand-wringing, I bought a couple of tickets. We were on holiday in France the week of the draw itself, and whilst we were there, I discovered what millions of people have known all along: that buying a ticket enables you to dream.

As we skiied down into Courchevel 1850, we watched the planes coming in to land at the airport carved into the side of a mountain. As we watched these little planes pulling to a stop on the runway, the passengers would hop out, skis in hand, walk to the edge of the piste and ski away. Bollocks to a 3 hour coach journey from Lyons - that's the way to arrive on the mountain. We would carry on skiing down to L'Elegante (as Courchevel 1850 is called) and would gawp at the expensive looking chalets just off the edge of the piste. Our hotel was nice enough, but it was nothing like these. If we won £100m.....

And so it began. You end up having ridiculous theoretical conversations, going into absurd detail about what you would do with the money if you won. Well, obviously, if I won I would give £1m to each of my family. Ah, but are my younger brother and his wife really able to handle that kind of cash? Perhaps it would be better if we tied that up in a set of conditions that only released a certain amount each year, to prevent them from blowing it on hare-brained schemes all at once. This is money, remember, that we haven't won... and here we are practically getting the lawyers involved and making judgements on each family member's character.

Nobody won the jackpot that week, and so it rolled on to the following week with a top prize of £125m, and I bought another ticket. I've also discovered the National Lottery website. Now you can set up an account and buy your tickets painlessly, without having to queue with the great unwashed. So I set up an account, and when I remember to, I buy a couple of tickets to the Euro Millions (tickets at £1.50 each; draw on a Friday night; jackpot usually starting at £10m), and a couple of tickets to the main Lotto draw (tickets at £1 each; draw on a Saturday night; jackpot starting at around £5m). Always Luck Dip, mind you. I'm not getting into that whole business of always picking the same numbers.

Yes, the chances of winning are miniscule. Yes, it's pretty much a way of pouring money down the toilet. But you know what? I buy the tickets, and I dream. I dream in a low-key, off-hand kind of way, but I dream nonetheless.

So imagine my excitement when I got this email this morning:

"Dear Swiss,

We have some exciting news about the ticket that you bought for the Friday 21 April draw. Please Sign In to your Account at the National Lottery website for more details.

Kind Regards
Interactive Customer Care

I controlled my excitement for about a second and then breathlessly logged onto my account as quickly as I could.

I won! I won!

I won..... £7.30


You have to look on the bright side, don't you? What are the odds of even winning that much? About 1,000,000 to 1?

Next stop the jackpot! I'm on a roll now!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding!

And lo! we come at last unto the final day of the working week. Verily a respite from our toils is almost within our grasp. Before the revelry can begin, we must first give up of our homage to the God of the Earworm who has sustained us through our labours.

Before us today is a man who heard my call from the wilderness and is here now to lead us in our devotions.

Ladies and gentleworms....without further ado.... allow me to present for your earworming pleasure..........

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #37 - Alan from Kaptain Kobold

I've never written for someone else's blog, so I'm not totally sure of the etiquette here. I suppose an introduction is in order really. For those that havan't ever visited my blog (which I would guess is most of you) I'm Alan Saunders, a forty-something IT type of person, married, two children, a few pets and into wargaming and creationist-baiting. My musical tatstes allegedly remain trapped somewhere around 1980. Swiss Toni asked for volunteers to fill this slot a few weeks ago, and I took him up on his offer. I may live to regret it.

In no particular order, here are the current tunes doing the rounds as ear-worms:

Hoppípolla - Sigur Rós

This has cropped up here before, but I blame the BBC. To be fair, though, this had been going around in my head before they started using it as trailer music, so I feel quite justified in including it here again. Judging by the number of posts asking about this piece on the BBC messageboards it would appear that Sigur Rós have managed to do a good job expanding their audience by allowing its use in the Planet Earth trailer. It's ear-worm nature has not been helped by my using it as part of a music compilation Catherine needed done for her school-stuff - the idea of Sigur Ros being used for Year 1 music and movement appeals to me.

The Current - Blue Man Group (with Gavin Rossdale)

It's now over two months since we went to see the Blue Man Group in London, and we're still enjoying their music at home. Although this tune didn't appear in their show, with it's opening guitar riff it's become a persistent ear-worm. You can see the video for it here.

I Feel Love - Blue Man Group (with venus Hum)

I'm old enough to remember this song the first time it came around. Disco lends itself well to ear-worms, and this is one of those tunes that lurks at the back of the back of the mind the whole time waiting to leap out and surprise you. Listening to this version has merely pushed it out into the open where it can strut its stuff. A favourite track at the moment, and notable for the original synthsisied arpeggios (I think that's what they are) being played on BMG's trademark vinyl tube percussion, to good effect. Video here.

Music For A Found Harmonium - The Penguin Cafe Orchestra

Quite possibly one of the catchiest tunes ever written, and an instant ear-worm. The Penguin Cafe Orchestra are a kind of acoustic Kraftwerk, and this was their only real 'hit', aside from the music to an old Orange ad (which you'd know if you heard it).

Thunderbirds Are Go! - Busted

This used to be the most played song on my iPod, partially because the chidren like it and (I confess) partially because I like it too. Although it no longer holds that dubious honour, it has popped itself into my consciousness this week because my son Has decided that he wants to learn to play it on his guitar. We've dropped the acoustic version onto a CD and given it to his music teacher, who's happy to give it a go, so this tune's going to be an ear-worm for a while yet, I guess. Download it here (MP3).

Doctor Who Theme - Various

The Doctor is back and, for the next 13 weeks, our house will be in the grip of 'Doctor Who' fever. This, of course, means that the theme is playing through my head. The reason I haven't pinpointed a specific track here is that I have rathe a lot of versions of the theme to listen to. As well as the six or seven official TV versions, I have loads of remixes from the excellent Whomix site. Indeed that last time I checked I had something like sixty versions of the theme on my iPod. It takes about 3 hours to listen to them all - I know, because Cei and I did it the other week. Whomix recommendations - for a piece linking all of the theme versions over the years try 'Regenerations'. And for something totally different try Dancing Rat's 'Toxic Adventurer'.

Something Wicked This Way Comes - The Enid

This always hangs around for a while after I listen to it, as it has a strong memory attached to it. Owing to its presence on a compilation tape I had, it was the piece of music that was playing at the precise moment my daughter was born. Thus far the title does not appear to be a prediction.

Theme from 'New Tricks' - Sung by Dennis Waterman

We like TV detective series, and 'New Tricks' is one of our favourites at the moment. Predictable BBC fare, I admit, but the cast work well together, and James Bolam and Alun Armstrong in particular are great in it. I can't say that I like the theme, though, but it is catchy. Too catchy. [ST's note: so Dennis wrote the feem toon and sings the feem toon then?]

The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells - The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think-tank (Project)

I got this as a free download from the band's website. Download it yourself, and make it an ear-worm all of your very own. Can anyone in this day and age hear the phrase 'Bishop of Bath and Wells' without menatally sticking the words 'Baby-Eating' in front of them?

Drive My Car - The Beatles

'Baby You Can Drive My Car' is one of the categories in this month's list on the Monthly Scavenger Hunt group on Flickr. And ever since the list was published I've had this bloody song going through my head. Needless to say this was my entry. And here are the rest.


Sigur Ros, Thunderbirds, Dr. Who, The baby-eating bishop of Bath & Wells and a Dennis Waterman sung theme tune. I think it's the eclecticism of these lists that I love the most!

Good work Alan!

All being well, I should have another Guest Editor for you all next week.... it's almost like a regular feature, isn't it?

Have a good weekend, y'all.

[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Another day in June, we’ll pick eleven for football

ST & ZZ - but who can say which is which and who is who?

Zinedine Zidane is one of the greatest footballers ever to grace the game. He has won the World Cup and the European Championship with France. He has been the FIFA World Player of the Year on three separate occasions and has won the Ballon D'Or as European Footballer of the Year. He is one of the most cultured ball-players there has ever been. He is a magician. He is a ballet dancer. He is mesmerising.

My football career has been a little less glittering. I played a bit at school, but we mainly played rugby. I played a bit of sunday league football at University, but we were a hopeless side and I was a defender who never headed the ball. I play 5-a-side football most weeks, and although I score the odd goal, I would never be so bold as to suggest that I have any talent - I have very little. I run around a lot, but achieve very little.

And yet I have been compared to Zidane.

This has happened a few times now, but the first time was by far and away the most memorable: Zidane transferred from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001 for a then world record transfer fee of £47m. In the September of that year, C and I spent a few days in Madrid and were lucky enough to take in a game at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Real were playing Malaga. I have always admired Zidane as a player, and was very much looking forward to seeing him playing in the flesh. Before the game, I paid a visit to the stadium's ridiculously small club shop and bought myself a replica shirt with Zidane's name and number on the back. I put the shirt on immediately. Killing time before the game, we wandered around the supermarket underneath the main stadium looking to pick up a couple of bottles of water. As we were wandering around the aisles, I was accosted by some excited looking spaniards who were convinced that I actually was Zidane. Quite why they thought that Zizou would be wandering around a supermarket in his club strip on the evening of a game is beyond me -- I'm guessing that Real Madrid provide their players with water before a game -- but I was quite happy to take the compliment.

I mention this because over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking part in an 11-a-side football tournament. One of the guys I play 5-a-side football with is emigrating to Australia in the summer. Before he departs, he has organised a mini-tournament between the 4 teams he has played for since he moved to Nottingham, including my Thursday night 5-a-side team, with all the profits from the games being donated to Amnesty International. We're a social side, and most of us haven't played 11-a-side football in years (in my case, about 10 years), so we're pretty hopeless... but it hardly matters.

We've been playing in white shirts, and so I've been wearing my long-sleeved Real Madrid shirt. It's not the same shirt as I bought in September 2001, but it still has Zidane's name and number on it...... because most of the people I've been playing against have no idea who I am, they have been identifying me as Zidane. I therefore spend every game floating around being addressed as though I was one of the greatest players in the world. They shout out that someone should "mark Zidane" and they're talking about me! It's brilliant.

Some of my own side have started calling me Zidane too. "Oi. Zidane. Get to right back and head the fu*@ing ball!"

I bet the great man hears the same thing most games as well.

....and coincidentally we also seem to have a similar haircut.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

my heart wants to sing every song it hears....

totally stolen from Mandy... but how on earth was I ever going to resist this?

Here's a flashing insight into some of the things that have floated across my brain at one point or another. I've made no attempt to make this at all definitive, and I'm not even sure if it's 100% representative.... it's just a snapshot.

It was also a whole lot of fun to put together.

Create your own Music List @ HotFreeLayouts!

Pretty cool, huh? Unless maybe you happen to be reading this on a dial-up connection.... in which case I can only apologise.