Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas y'all

I'm still in the communications bunker at the council, but I hope all you out there, especially my farflung fans in Pune and deepest Texas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

High Wiccan

My mum has a couple of friends, lets call them Philip and Fiona, who write a yearly newsletter on Publisher that always has us in stitches for its content. The introduction this year began: "Peter has spent the year learning Arabic and amuses all his friends by breaking into it at regular intervals..."

However, as I read out this year's missive, we found great amusement in their description of adventures at the High Wycombe Philosopher's Association. Only Dee thought it was Wiccan, and went into a long monologue about dancing naked through the forests, burning pigs and worshiping outlandish pagan gods. Would have been wonderful if this misconstruction had happened face-to-face, and that at the end of Dee's eight-minute retelling of the Wicker Man, my mum's friends would reveal, shocked, that they were more interested in Hegel and Kant.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Deciduously arty

Attempts to be arty in Barton's Baysgarth Park.

A pier through the mist

Bartistic license

Off to the shuggy shores of Barton for the inaugural location recce for 'Get Barton', mine and Nick's 15-minute short film being made by the wonderful Singlespan, Dave and Kate's production company. Sadly, a freezing fug had descended over north Lincolnshire, making any location further than five metres away completely pointless. No matter - we managed to get a look at the abandoned tileworks where Ted L envisaged that Jack Carter met his demise - before the gloom, and the urge to take cliched shots of Scunthorpe, took hold. The main shot shows our director delightedly clutching a tile. It was that kind of morning.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

It's a mans, mans, Mansfield world

It was always gonna be the case. He breaks a three week blog holiday with random posts taken at Mansfield bus station. Rosemary Lane is nothing like the name might suggest. Proudly built in, and untouched since, 1977, the year of punk. Key signposting of amenities like shops (Iceland, Dominos) and toilets (several, including one in an ominous looking subway). Waiting for a lift, I ducked into the fabulous Triple Eight bus station cafe, where you can get chocolate, coffee, chow-mein and something alien sounding called a cob. I took a photo of the menu and was asked by the waitress, 'are you a tourist?'. I replied that I'd just got off the Scunthorpe, via Doncaster, bus. 'Ah, Doncaster...' she replied, as if it was a place of impossible wonder. Where the people take pictures of menus.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Newcastle tale

This is the picture which has kick-started a whole project into life. You'll recognise the backdrop, perhaps even be able to name the film it was in. But do you know the person pictured here, and his story? That's something me and a co-writer will be trying to address through film, a doco and a book proper.

Presidential sweet

Monday, 20 October 2008

London 0 Hull 4

In 1986, this album came out, and everybody thought, ooh, those pranksters The Housemartins with their crazy offbeam album title titters. To imagine such a scoreline was as laughable as Paul Heaton's cream cardy. I loved the sentiment (and the jangly guitar pop sugared with some jaunty Marxism) but when I saw my first Tigers game in 2003, at home to Kidderminster, the possibilty of even League One football seemed a long way off. So after wins against the 'ammers, the Spurs, the 'snel and, er, the Fulham, it really is the ideal time to celebrate the city at the end of the line.

Monday, 13 October 2008

An old boiler

We've been without hot water for a week now due to our snazzyboiler* going on the blink as soon as we dared to think about turning it on. A plumber was duly called last Friday. "S'a problem with the heat exchange", he says, and we'll need a new one. So the boiler makers are informed, as luckily it's just within warranty. An appointment is made for this coming Friday. I tell them that the heat exchange is going to need replacing, just so the engineer can bring a new one on Friday. "We won't do that I'm afraid", says disinterested of Tamworth. "Our engineer will need to do his own tests... if it is the heat exchange has gone it'll take a week to order and then we'll have to book you in for it to be fitted.." "But I'm telling you what's wrong with it." "Are YOU a plumber, sir?". The upshot - no fancy bubbles for this newlywed for the whole of October.

LISTENING: Richard Thompson (his really depressed beardy early stuff - genius), Elbow, Fleet Foxes (when I was readying myself for marriage, their album finally clicked with me - beautiful soundtrack to all these autumnal colours)

READING: The amazing Homicide by Wire creator David Simon. Proper journalism and a happy way to ease the withdrawal symptoms; What Is The What - Dave Eggers; The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Spare a thought ...

... for the poor couples who had to stay at one of Barton's less salubrious establishments on the weekend of our wedding. This is an email from a friend who stayed at the pub (let's call it the George), just in case any of you were thinking it was the official Michelin review lifted straight from t'guidebook.

The "George" was an experience I hope not to be repeating again in this was straight out of a Peter kay sketch. I mean I have stayed in some grotty places in my time - but that takes the biscuit. Including my travels round Africa. On the plus side, the room was large, the breakfast decent and the water was hot. On the minus side, the beds were saggy, I've thrown cleaner carpets in the skip, the bathroom contained a set of SIO (stains of indeterminate origin), and best of all, you could smell the fag smoke from the staff/customers coming up the stairway and under the bedroom door at all times of the day and night. Pete reported the car park was covered in broken glass when he went down (he left early as he was going to the football). Staff Highlights: miserable landlord about to go bankrupt. Toothless chainsmoking wizened old bloke who seemed to do all the cooking and general work. Fat chav single mum fagging it in the back lobby over the kid's buggy - role unknown - maybe some of kind of maitre d'???!! Anyway, it was OK as we were so knackered we just went stright to sleep once we hit the pillow, despite the efforts of Mick's disco.
Here's a tip for you - if it doesn't work out with Danielle you can be sure of pulling a stunna on a Friday night down there! Anyway, it was all hilairious and you would have found it highly amusing...but only because it was only for one night!!

Monday, 6 October 2008

President Boosh

Over to Sheffield's wonderful City Hall for an evening with the Mighty Boosh. Not the biggest fan of season three, crack fox aside, I have to say that the show, all honey monster decapitation, nanageddon space rock wig outs and the 'Itcher, was excellent. Our house has been a Boosh free zone since the last series ended, so I liked the Mighty Boosh band and thought the material was spangly and not too flabby.

Cut Price?

Saw a fat woman in departures, coming to the end of a Katie Price novel. It seemed to be a good fit for her features. But when she got to the end, she waltzed over to an airport bin and slung it in. Didn't even leave it for some poor Cuban to read. Either it was a selfless act to stop people from reading such twaddle, or this woman disposes of all the books she's read. All two of them, judging by her disposition, but a thought-provoker, none the less.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Not in Cleethorpes ...

Honeymoon Reading

The most amazing day ever

Forgive me for using the blog for such purposes, but our wedding was so amazing - and the people who were there were what really did it for us! See if you can spot bloggers StoneFee and Dave Windass in the assembled shot! The astute will notice that I've included links to their reportage blogs on the big day here. So overwhelmed by it all still, and always will be, really, truly. Sterling show from our rookie Priest, a great plot arc featuring an ill child, a late arrival by a nonogenarian and a blowout on the A1, a superb organist with comedy beard who wouldn't be out of place on Phoenix Nights, some interesting singing, awesome food, drink and disco - all in all, truly amazing. But it was these guys what done it for me!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Gustav, liebling

I have become rooted to this website, indicating the current hurricanes affecting Cuba. We're off there in two weeks for the honeymoon, laughing, as always, in the face of natural disasters. We've already chortled as a giant fireball hit Peru shortly after we left, then guffawed at the floods of last summer. Hurricanes - pah - especially with such lovely names as Gustav and Fay.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

I'll have the steak, mother's having dementia

Thanks to Mr Windass for giving me the biggest laugh of the day, this New York Times article about Margaret Thatcher's dementia which means she can no longer distinguish between the wars and heartache she created in the 80s (although distinguishing between proud northern cities was never her strong pint - she tended to view them all the same). It was this line that really floored me though ...

Carol Thatcher, 55, said that it was during a lunch at a London hotel in 2000 when she realized her mother was mentally slipping. They began discussing the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s when, to Carol Thatcher’s dismay, it became clear her mother was confusing that crisis with the Falklands war of the 1980s.

Typical, eh, discussing those Bosnians while waiting for your greek and feta potato skins to arrive, eh? 'This steak's tough, but how are those poor Argentinians doing, I wonder?'

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Congratulations, Mr Hayes, happy birthday ... wait, oh dear

From today's Grimsby Telegraph. The injustice is not necessarily that they got it wrong, but the knowledge that no-one on the GTs subs desk knows their funk and soul. That'd never happen in my day etc etc.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

A note to communications officers everywhere ... make sure you know what your city looks like

Take A Chance On Me? Not likely

So the US presidential hopefuls have revealed their top 10 songs of all time. Barack, unsurprisngly, goes for yer classic choices - bit of Marvin and Nina, some Kanye West, classic Sinatra. McCain, on the other hand, likes Abba so much he's picked two - Voulez Vous and Take A Chance On Me. Somehow the idea of this pro-war vet parading round the Oval office to disco and Merle Haggard in between speeches is just too scary to contemplate, even for middle America?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Some feat

My mum has rediscovered her love of festivals in recent years. Doesn't matter where - she's there with her campervan, beanie and box of wine. Cornbury. Rutland. Wallingford. All the greats. Last weekend, she was at Cropredy. My auntie, bless her, knows nothing of such things as festivals. She thought my mum was at Chiropody. Or the colostomy festival. Which given the age and hoary old folkie nature of such things, might well prove to be accurate.
Isaac Hayes tribute: I imagined I was singing Shaft as I did lengths at the local swimming pool. Shaft was surprisingly effective when doing a poor version of the front crawl.
Bands seen at Chiropody: Little Feat, Canned Feat, Veruca Salt, Korn etc

Friday, 8 August 2008

Good morning Baltimore...

I wouldn't normally recommend watching cracker trash musical remakes featuring John Travolta in a dress. But as Dee delighted her way through Hairspray last night, I delighted in the fact that the 60s wholesome Baltimore terraces where fat girls dance in sequins would soon enough be populated by the likes of the Wire's Avon Barksdale, Omar Little and Prop Joe. It added a certain amount of depth to John Traversty's raunchy dancing with Chris Walken, knowing that caps would almost certainly have been busted in all of their ass's once the Barksdale boys moved in.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Fantastic marrahs

Plucked from the allotment just yesterday.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The happy couple

Betraying no hint of wedding nerves balanced on the edge of a giant hole near Whitby, North Yorkshire (the hole of Horcum, hole fans)

What a cropper

Monday, 7 July 2008

Hello, Hazaribag, Jharkhand

My LiveFeed in the right hand column of this blog reveals who in blue blazes would want to read this nonsense. Quite a few from overseas, it seems. Today, amid the customary Grimsbys and Barnsleys, I have a blog friend in Hazaribag, Jharkhand. Maybe I should investigate twinning myself with Hazaribag, wherever it is.

PS: Hazaribag Note - it's a remote part of India, apparently. Turn left at Bihar. But before Mahabalipuram.

Pre-wedding nerves? The ideal solution

The eve of a wedding, as many of my 'regulars' will know, is a time for much last minute nerve-jangling and trying-to-hold-it-togethering. Not for me and Dee, though. Today, we are both invited to, through work,

"I would like to invite you to the next Multi-Agency Hate Crime Sub-Group. This is to highlight the good practice and initatiatives that we are progressing. As this is a partnership it would be appropriate for you both to attend."

Partnerships are one thing. I mean we're getting married fer crissakes. But not sure if a hate crimes partnership, even one chaired by Neil from the Young Ones, is quite how I want to be spending my last hours of bachelordom.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

New career

I just phoned up the gifts department at John Lewis in Sheffield about our wedding list. The casual, none-more Sheffield bloke at the other end told me just to "come into the store and do the biz, young man." Five minutes later, my mobile rings - here's the conversation.
JLB: "Is that Danielle?"
L: "No, it's Laurie."
JLB. "Alright Loz (a bit informal, but let it ride). It's about your wedding list. Do you want to come in the store?"
L: "I just spoke to you and sorted it out."
JLB: "Oh yeah, so you did. At least you're on the ball - unlike me."
L: "Why, are you getting married too?"
JLB: "Nah, no chance. I've been divorced twice - I'd rather hang myself."
L: "Do you think you should be working in a wedding gifts department.
JLB: "Spose not, I guess I should work on me sales pitch. Thanks."

Monday, 23 June 2008

Happy happy joy joy

Reading Mark Oliver Everett's Things The Grandchildren Should Know. A macabre recollection of the Eels frontman's life, the plot arc goes something like - meet person, person does lovely thing involves cats or jokes or bizarre dress, person dies, E writes song, meets people, people die in freak lawnmower/ski/cat/binocular accident. Wonderful, feel-good stuff, obviously. The maudlin never scanned so good.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Monarco Musing

Could you get more quintessentially English seaside resort? Although full marks to Monarco, this billboard could almost carry itself off as northern soul poster. But check the price of that Pensioners' Special!!

Father Abram

Went to the delightful Cleethorpes to interview jazz dude Abram Wilson this week. This cat has played with Dr John and Soweto Kinch, but I challenge the most diligent shorthand perfectionist to try and keep up with his 180mph New Orleans scat. And what is the shortform for "skiddly-nee-ba-be-bop"? A mess, is what.

Kel Surprise (to be delivered in French accent)

So Kelvin McKenzie is hotly tipped to join the by-election caused by David Davis' Magna Carta (personally I thought they did a decent curry) protests. I like Kelvin - expecially his TV work bringing such inspirational characters as Newsey Bunny to the information gathering super highway (admittedly more of a B-road back in them Cable days). But, interviewed by Peter Levy for BBC's Look North this lunchtime he urged: "the people of Hull to get out and vote in Haltemprice and Howden". Which of course they can't, seeing as they have three MPs of their own and Howden is actually 30 miles away.

Secondly, supermac said he didn't know where Howden actually was and had never been there. Why Kelvin, it's only the headquarters of the Press Association, surely one of your biggest sources of news during your days as a darling at Wapping Wharf?

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Happy birthday, purple fella

He's been a symbol, a slave, Victor, a basketball whizz, purple trouseured funk god, actor, musician and Mail-on-Sunday fan. But for today, at least, Prince Rodgers Nelson is an astonishing 50. Looking good on it, as well, Princey-baby. Better than he did in '79, arguably.

Mood: Raspberry Beret
Funk: Housequake
Film: A toss-up between Under The Cherry Moon and Batman

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Juke Box Ju-Ju

Below are three videos, feel free to rate your favourites while I wait for the rain to stop.

Oh, Jeremy ...

Anyone spot a squelcy northern nautical theme (back to proper words and sentences next...)?

Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers/ Crawled Out Of The Sea

Part two of my Saturday music trilogy, waiting at the computer by my window waiting for the rain to end

Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down

Wonderful extra marks for the eightiestasticness. Beats the Freshley Squeezed presenters into an insipid cocked hat.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Wedding wind-up/blues

So far, the wedding plans have gone splendidly, only for two rather major hurdles to crop up over the weekend. For a start, our jeweller/rock n' roller Thai Paul announces that his volatile 50s wok n' wollas have split up, at the exact same venue where the Cyclones played their last gig almost two years previously. Spooky, huh? Lessons for all weddingy couples: don't trust yer jeweller with yer rock n' roll. Secondly, there's the small matter of our wedding reception being taken to the High Court by the Inland Revenue! Suggestions/ideas on a blogcard, please!

Strim when you're winning

As far as I know there isn't a verse in T-Rex's "Whatever Happened To The Teenage Dream" that says 'bought a strimmer from B and Q, so I could sort out my suicidal verges'. There should be. It feels awfully grown up to be spending cash on such things, with the only rock n' roll element being my schoolboy like refusal to read the instructions. Took the new toy down the allotment on Sunday, where, by the time we'd figured out how to use it, it ran out of battery. Undeterred, we charged the mutha-sucka and returned yesterday, only for the spool to run out just seconds after making some paltry headway. Spools out for summer. I may put a picture of Thatcher's head on the base to motivate future grassy encounters.

In positive plot news, the crowd of people who normally stand at the end of our plot pointing and laughing has diminished.

Listening: Laura Marling, Hawkwind, Marlena Shaw

Watching: The Wire (recording it off the telly means one episode a week, which means the pleasure ain't gonna stop til at least October! Hurrah!)

Barton Radar: Barton Beer Festival has just been and gone, but Barton Bike Night is only three weeks away!

Friday, 23 May 2008

C'mon you City

First it was my adopted home. And then I could only see it (and occasionally shout at it) from across the river. Funnily enough I've been to both Bristol and Hull this year, but just cos the southerners have got funky-coloured houses and trip hop don't make them my favourites. I'll be cheering them on at Wemberley tomorrow as they aim for the splendours of the Prem after 104 years aiming for the prize. And then doing the whole thing again on Sunday watching the Donny game with my future father-in-law. I'm hoping that after such a hardcore footie weekend, Dee'll finally start liking the game. If you want a first person view on City v City, Mr W is going and he'll post about it, I should think.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

A guy like you

Best documentary in ages, apart from the Artful Codgers, was the wonderful Home Again about former Orange Juice troubadour Edwyn Collins and his battle to regain his faculties after suffering two strokes, a brain haemmorage and contracting MRSA in 2005. The programme showed Edwyn's battle to regain speech and movement, to the point where he was able to play his first show - faltering at first, then triumphant. It was heartbreaking and hopeful in equal measure, showing the power of love and belief. Great as well that such a literate and lucid guy is able to perform in front of an audience again. Watch it!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Virtually Yours

The modern newsroom has had to re-invent itself in recent years - into a multi-media hub, a podcasting delight, a video-jizz paradise. Amid all the blogs and Diggs and Delicious's comes the Grimsby Telegraph's concession to modern news gathering. Kate Parker is their new 'virtual reporter' or 'newsbot' as she's known, where she reads the news in a voice not dissimilar to Simple Text, that silly office programme that made us all laugh for about seven minutes in 1995/6. She didn't actually read the news, as a technical fault meant she just blathered on about the weather for several hours. Is it just me, or is this newsbot more like a badly-animated Holly from Red Dwarf?

Monday, 12 May 2008


After a hard day picking out flowers for our wedding, I like nothing more than a relaxing drink in Schnapps Bar followed by some tasty fish n' chips.

Lozandee - Sky's The Limit

Maybe I'm A-Mazed

Alkbrough, five miles from Scunny town, couldn't be more removed. This is where the Humber merges into the Trent and Ouse, although, unlike the Ganges, there ain't an annual pilgrimage where its rivers meet. Instead, there's an 11th century turf maze. And after a gander round that, the pilgrims retire to the Alkbrough Constitutional Club for some pilgrimesque constitutionals.

BOC Gases

From Scun to Stallone

Jack's Return Home, the book that became Get Carter (a superb Britflick starring Michael Caine and John Osborne) was set not in Newcastle, but in Scunthorpe. The film-makers changed it because, I guess, Scunny was just too sleazy and obscure. The gripping climax at the end of GC was also originally set at the mudflats close to the Humber Bridge in Barton, and Ted Lewis, the writer, lived there when he wasn't penning episodes of Z-Cars. If you pick up a copy of Jack's Return Home, you can see that Scunny hasn't changed much since 1970. Rows of terrace streets still improbably close to the town centre. The smell of steel. I took some pictures.
The Mancunian-born writer Ted Lewis, who lived in nearby Barton-upon-Humber, featured the town in some of his novels about low-life 1960s gangster Jack Carter. The most famous of these books, Jack's Return Home saw the main character return from London to his home-town of Scunthorpe to avenge his brother's death. The story itself was based on the background to the real-life murder of Newcastle businessman Angus Sibbet in 1967, in what was known as the Fruit Machine Murder.
The film rights to this book where purchased by
MGM who ironically transferred the setting from Scunthorpe to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and released the film in 1971 as the cult British crime thriller Get Carter, starring Michael Caine in the lead role. However none of the production was shot in the area, it being filmed entirely on location on Tyneside.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Sir Alan Cumming

Laugh of the day so far from Alan Cumming in the Observer Magazine's This Much I Know column...

"There used to be a man's name above my pubes. It was tattoed there for six months before I had it removed. It was an intense relationship. He still has his. But instead of saying 'Alan' it now says 'Balance'. So we might tend to think he's not the most balanced person."

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

On the Fidel

For the first time in ages, we walked into a travel agent with a bally good reason - to book our honeymoon. In recent years, I've been asked to leave when entering such premises - quite clearly not the sort of person who books a two-week all inclusive break or a pleasure cruise. But this time it's different - me and the then-wife will be off to Cuba - me to indulge my love of salsa, Dee her love of cigars. Hurrah!