Thursday, April 28, 2005

Definitely Not Voting Labour

My voting choices have come down to:

1. I don't vote at all.

2. I vote Liberal Democrat.

I did phone my friend James in the end and he offered me quite a balanced opinion on why I should vote Liberal Democrat. But at the same time my disillusionment with the whole thing is growing so I may well not vote at all.

The reason I'm not voting Labour? Well there's several of them, but the straw that broke the camel's back was a this email that I received from John O'Farrell earlier today. It's the second one I've got from him about his support for the Labour Party, and it's by far the most obnoxious of the two.

I got a leaflet from the BNP through my door this morning and this email reads very similarly. It even has a photo of him looking kind of thuggish.

I think he particularly surpassed himself with the line:

Today's blame culture is all their fault.

Think about that one for a moment.

Anyway, everything can change in the Ready Money Round, and with 7 days to go there's everything to play for.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dogs That Go Woof


Even dogs touch each other on the nose.


Helloooooo!!!


Yes yes yes!


Well done, good observations, now if you'll take the 3rd exit at the next roundabout and pull over on the left when you feel it is safe to do so.


I love you, but I'll kill you.


Depth perception is for idiots.


I can make it on my own.


These aren't the toys you're looking for.

I really could do this all day. But to finish off here's an interesting book for you all, and here's what I want for Christmas.

But finally, here's a revolving hamster animated gif I found, for your delectation:

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Big Red Button

Going to See Derren Brown



Yep, I'm going to see Derren Brown on Sunday. Could it be more exciting?

My only concern is that it might be a little bit scary, and I'm not a great fan of scary. Fortunately I'm taking my friend Brian along so I can hold on to him and dive into his lap if I get spooked.

He's really clever I think (Derren that is, although Brian is as well), but sometimes I question his ethics a little. He does some absolutely amazing and unexplainable tricks, but sometimes he does things that really really freak people out. And I'm not sure that's right.

Still, I don't think I'm anywhere near the front row, so hopefully I won't get pulled up on stage. And when I say "hopefully I won't" I actually mean "I definitely won't" - with my history of mental hibbly jibblies, putting myself in a potentially freaky outy situation can only have baaad ramifications.

Ramifications - that sounds like it should be part of a castle - "My Lord, they're climbing up the ramifications!"

So I'll arrange with Brian that, if it looks like Derren Brown is looking at me Brian will go in my place. Sorted.

Anyhoo, I'm finishing this post now in a attempt to reduce my average post length a little.

Except to say that I'm going to see him in Oxford.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I'm Going to Be a Great-Uncle



Do you think I look like Great-Uncle Bulgaria? I've got the glasses, the big nose, and the steady yet authoritative demeanor.

So young Sherelle (or Ik of the Realm as I call her) is pregnant. She's 15 and will give birth when she's 16, which I suppose is slightly better than her Mother who was 14 when she got pregnant and gave birth at 15.

So, what to think then? Well part of me feels a little annoyed at her, as though she's done it on purpose. A small part of me wants to shake her and say 'you stupid stupid girl', but I think that's just the protective Uncle that doesn't want to see his niece cause irreparable damage to her life.

But then is it damaging her life? That's a hell of a judgement to make. I wouldn't say it's damaging her life, but she is a child and she still thinks like a child. I'm sure that anyone reading this over the age of, ooh, 21 will recognise how their outlook on the world in their teenage years is really quite far removed from how they see it now. And the decisions they make as an adult are greatly served by those years of experience.

Now I know that 15 year old girls, and younger, have children every day, and not just in the UK, but I really feel that parenthood is too heavy a responsiblity for the young. It's said that you just have to jump in and do your best; muddle through as it were, and this is true to an extent. But surely parenting classes, run by well-trained mature parents, would help. I have no doubt that their experiences would be really invaluable to young parents, not only teenage ones.

People could argue that parenting classes aren't necessary because that's what the extended family is for. Now that's true, but the extended family nowadays isn't what it was in the past. Saying that, I guess mine is. Sherelle is surrounded by loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents etc, but she's she's still effectively going to be tackling this on her own, along with her boyfriend, Izzy (wizzy get's a little too busy). Not only that but the independent-mindedness of people nowadays means that there's a tendency to reject 'interfering others', because no matter how wise and experienced those people are they nearly always succeed in overstepping the boundaries of allowing the parents to do things the way they want to.

I've become aware over the last couple of years of my own parental (or Uncular) feelings towards my nieces and nephews. I think it's probably an instictive part of the human psyche. After all, they're the closest thing I've got to children, and I feel protective over them. In fact I feel a part of that drive that nature gives parents to sacrifice themselves for their children; to give of yourself more than you'd give for anyone else, for the benefit of the next generation. I want all of my family's offspring to succeed. I want this selflessly. I want them to achieve all that they want for themselves, and I want to help them circumnavigate many of the obstacles that can appear on the way.

But then I'm not their parent, I don't know them the same way as a parent would, and I doubt they place the same trust in me as they would a parent. So it's tricky for me. How do I exercise my Uncular instincts, without just being boppy ever-so-slightly-strange Uncle Dave? My family aren't without their challenges, and indeed they can oft be frustrating and annoying. I suppose I'll have to sit tight and watch for opportunities to contribute when they arise, and remain available and accessible to each and every one child of shared blood.

So Sherelle's having a baby (NOT pronounced babby), and that's OK. Even if society "should" be such that no child should be put in the position that they are having children themselves, it's still OK. It's the way things are meant to be, always meant to have been. My job is to remain detached and loving, to offer good wishes and whatever else is needed, even if that is just a boppy Uncular strangeness, and to never ever dwell in the alternate possibilities of what might have happened if things had been different. Pretty soon I'll be a great-uncle (and Alison will be a Grandmother!!!), and I'll get to know a new person - someone else to call me Uncle Dave. And that'll be great.

I Am So a Floating Voter



Having watched all three of the Paxman interviews with Charles Kennedy, Tony Blair and Michael Howard, I've decided that I'm totally floating and could go in any direction(ish).

Allow me to summarise:

Labour - Don't know what to think about these guys. I think he came across the strongest on the Paxman interview. He seemed to get really quite angry, and it was nice to see him be able to do this. Of the three he seemed the strongest and most determined; that is, the most convincing Prime Minister candidate.

Conservative - The problem here is that I could never bring myself to vote for them. I've got to say, they were the party of the 80s. And the 80s was the decade of House music, childhood and computer games. Therefore they're the party of House music, childhood and computer games. Surely that can't be that bad?

The thing about the Tories (Tory, meaning robber or bandit) is that I don't want to not vote for them out of prejudice (prejudice, meaning to discriminate against based on assumed characteristics because of perceived belonging to a specific group). Is it possible that there will come a time when the staunch body of Labour supporters are able to make a choice of who to vote for based on policy and personality rather than historial ideology?

Liberal Democrats - Now I'd really like to vote for these guys. I can really 'get behind' most of their policies, but I'm really not all that inspired by Charles Kennedy. He's 'OK', but he doesn't feel like a Prime Minister.

Green - I was going to for vote these guys, for about 5 minutes. I'm not now. Not that I don't dig their environmental policies - I certainly do - but I just don't think they're going anywhere.

BNP - The comedy party, if only they were actually funny. I watched their manifesto launch the other day and downloaded their manifesto. In fact I've downloaded all of the parties' manifestos, but haven't read of them. They've got some of the most 'entertaining' policies, like compulsary National Service after which everyone has to keep an assault rifle in their home to use against a) burglars, b) invaders to the country(!!!), and c) the government, if it's perceived as turning against the people (!!!).

I don't know if you've ever watched any BNP member giving a speech or interview. All of them, without fail, come across as thugs.

Veritas - I read an article on the BBC site recently about celebrity endorsement of political parties. Veritas's comment was that they don't need celebrities to give them credibility. That's really interesting coming from a party who's entire existence is based around one celebrity figure-head.

I think I want to vote twice, once for Labour and once for the Liberal Democrats. I feel like phoning my friend James and having him explain to me why to vote Lib Dem, but then I'd feel bad about not voting Labour. But then if I just vote Labour then I'll feel like I'm being duped by a massive spin-machine.

Maybe I won't vote at all. That's always served me well in the past, and after all I'm not exactly represented by any of the parties out there.

Here's an interesting and entertaining BBC News article about a journalist who attended a speed-dating evening but would talk to the women he met about nothing other than politics.

Friday, April 22, 2005

You Make Me Feel...

So yesterday I got my letter confirming my place on the Diploma in Counselling course starting in October - exciting. All I need to do now is get all of the necessary essays done!!!



You might have picked up on the fact that I'm struggling with these at the moment, and to a degree they're taking up every minute of my time - mentally at least.

Still, I can and will get them done. In fact, this weekend I will do nothing but write essays.

Apparently student accommodation tends to be pretty messy and dirty. But apparently, around exam time, students avoiding doing their revision thoroughly clean their student accommodation, often at 3am in the morning. Interesting huh?

In fact I spent most of last weekend cleaning my flat, in amongst watching the startlingly impressive Derren Brown on my PC.

Last night at college we did an exercise on immediacy and ownership. We had to think about people around who we experience positive or negative emotions. Then we had to express those feelings to those people, without them actually being there. And we had to take ownership of those feelings, instead of putting blame or control onto the other person. i.e. instead of...

When you refuse to take me to Asda in your car you make me feel annoyed.

... you put ...

When you refuse to take me to Asda in your car I'm aware that I feel annoyed.

It's important to never say "you make me feel" because it hands the power over your emotions so someone else. Of course I pointed out that you might say "you make me feel like a natural woman" and now the group I was working with, and teacher, are now going to visualise me singing that song every time they listen to it. Lovely, eh?

Anyhoo, I must work now, and need a wee.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Penny Lane

In penny lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know.
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello.

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
The little children laugh at him behind his back.
And the banker never wears a mack
In the pouring rain, very strange.

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

In penny lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the queen.
He likes to keep his fire engine clean,
It’s a clean machine.

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
A four of fish and finger pies
In summer, meanwhile back

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And tho’ she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway.

In penny lane the barber shaves another customer,
We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim.
And then the fireman rushes in
From the pouring rain, very strange.

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back.
Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
There beneath the blue suburban skies,
Penny lane.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

All You Need is Liverpool

So much for taking my camera to Liverpool to take lots of cool pictures to show you what I got up to. I forgot it.

Still, splendid day.

Heather and I caught the train at about 9.50am this morning and spent the journey chatting merrily. It was supposed to be a direct train but something happened that meant that we had to get of at Crewe and change. We eventually got into Liverpool Lime Street at about 12.30; 50 minutes late.

We then walked to the Albert Dock and tracked down The Beatles Story. We went round this until about ten past two. Now this really really could have been a lot better than it was. You walked round an exhibition (which was a little bit tacky I thought, though that could have been my mood) with basically an mp3 player with a pair of headphones. As you get to each section you play the track that corresponds with a number on the wall. This is assuming that you spot the numbers, many of which I didn't.

Unfortunately in some of the rooms there were videos playing or music playing which meant that it often clashed with what you were listening to. Also you were meant to read these long passages of text on placards, which naturally you couldn't do very well while listening to someone's voice.

The voices were John Lennon's sister, Brian Epstein, Alan Williams (their first manager), (Sir) Paul McCartney and George Martin.

A few highlights (for me) were the glasses that John Lennon wore throughout the Imagine recording sessions (which have a whole set of famous accompanying photographs). They were solid 14 carat gold and are worth over £1 million.

Also they had George Harrison's guitar from when he were just a wee whipper-snapper. And various other things; handwritten lyrics and stuff.

________________________________________________________

Anyhoo, we left there and, after Heather had had her 50th wee of the day, we tracked down the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour which we found consisted of a 30 year old bus (could have been older).

This was much more entertaining. The talky bloke at the front was pretty funny. He's an out of work actor (obviously) who played John Lennon's best friend in a film of his life (called "In His Life" I think). He also knows Paul McCartney quite well, and so could share a few entertaining anecdotes.

We then visited various interesting places. Some we drove past and had pointed out - Ringo's birth place, their schools etc. Some we got out of the bus and looked at - Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, George Harrison's house, John Lennon's house.

Now this was the bad bit for me: getting off a brightly coloured tour bus and staring like a group of plebs at a road sign (Penny Lane), a gate (Strawberry Fields), and two houses. All of this with local people walking around thinking that we're stupid tourists. So indeed I tried to look American - swagger and all.

Penny Lane was very cool. Not just looking at the road sign (which by the way was painted on the wall so it couldn't be stolen!), but driving past the landmarks from the song:

The bus shelter (behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout) - now a bar call Sargeant Pepper's
The barber shop (on Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs)
The bank (and the Banker never wears a mac in the pouring rain, very strange) now a Lloyds TSB, which means it would have been a Lloyds Bank back then - cool.



Strawberry Fields was nice and evocative, despite the words "John Lennon is a c***" written just above the sign.

We also drove past where John and Paul met at the summer fete in the late 50s. Interesting Story - in the graveyard of the church where they met is a gravestone for an Eleanor Rigby, but Paul didn't know this before writing the song. It was just a coincidence that was pointed out to him a few months after the song was released. I think, at the very least, it was planted in his subconscious because of the auspicious significance of that moment.

Other interesting stuff? Well the Magical Mystery Tour bus is in the Free as a Bird video from 1995, with our driver driving it.

____________________________________________________

After the Magical Mystery Tour we were dropped off at the Cavern Club (where the Beatles used to play), although it's been rebuilt since then, albeit near enough identical to how it was. We were then given a souvenir postcard (ooh exciting).

We then meandered for a while and caught the train home, on which we played muchus cards. I beat Heather at Poker and she whupped me at Gin Rummy.

Now I'm home.

Did you need to know all of this? No. Are you interested? Probably not.

Anyway, great day out especially thanks to the great company.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dunno What to Write About...



Well, yesterday I had my college interview, which went really well - I think.

It was a group interview. Five of us (who all knew each other) had to sit with the tutor (who we didn't know) and talk about ourselves, what we had learned on the course so far, and what we liked about counselling etc.

He told us near the end that he was judging us on how open we appeared and how willing to learn etc. I think we all came across well.

I'll get a letter within the next week or so I think confirming whether I'm on the course or not. If I am then all I need to do is ensure that I pass the current course(!), find £2000 to pay the course fees(!), and find approximately £100 per month to pay the ancillary costs (!), which are my own therapy (mandatory) and clinical supervision (mandatory and sounds pretty cool).

Those costs don't include things like books etc.

Early on in the course I have to find myself a placement, which will be fun / terrifying. This means that I'll have clients of my own and will be counselling them from here to kingdom come. Of course they'll know that I'm a trainee and so will forgive me when I shout at them, "shut up, shut up, why won't you shut up?!!!!"

____________________________________________________



On the morrow I'm going to Liverpool with young Heather. We're catching the train up. Then we'll go straight to the Beatles museum where we will wander for a couple of hours saying "ooh", then we're off on the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour where we're driven on a bus around various Beatles-related places, such as Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and some shed that Ringo pooed behind. Finally we end up at the Cavern Club where the Beatles played their early gigs. There we'll both be given a free postcard (woo hoo!!!!) that's only given to people who go on the Magical Mystery Tour.

It think I'll have to feign an American accent for the course of the day, because I expect that it will be extremely touristy and so I might look a little sad being English-touristy instead of American-touristy. Maybe I could go wild and be Japanese-touristy, though I don't think I could get Heather to play along.

Anyway, if I remember to get my digital camera from my parents' this evening then I'll take some cool pictures and post them here when I get in.

I'll also take a couple of photos of the special toy I bought from eBay the other day, which is also waiting for me at my parents.

Excited?

Friday, April 15, 2005

You Know What I Hate?

I hate it when people put apostrophes in plurals. For example instead of:

The dogs and cats smile at the helicopters.

They put:

The dog's and the cat's smile at the helicopter's.

These people must walk through their lives just never thinking about anything they're doing. And they all work at the same place as me.

Blimey, it didn't take long for me to get my enraged head on again did it?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Funniest Thing Ever

OK,

Seeing as I'm back on the scene and am cooler than ever I should do a post that people can really respond to.

I was sitting earlier thinking about the funniest things I've ever said or done, and actually couldn't come up with that many. However the one that always sticks in my mind I will recount now.

OK, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the humour will be lost in the retelling, and maybe it's just extremely funny to me. Or perhaps it just makes me feel clever. Anyway...

I was sitting in James' flat in town some months back with Paul and Graham. I think, erm yeah, Paul and Graham were playing chess. I think we were waiting for James to finish doing something, or something. Anyway we were conversing like the young intellectuals we are, and Paul and I were having a conversation and ... something...

OK, I can't remember all the details so I'll summarise, but there won't be quite as much context (oh this is all going wrong).

I said to Paul, "ah you're an Aristocrat" (note: there would have been a context at the time)
He said, "no I'm not"
I said, "yeah it's your French heritage"
He said, "no, my Mum's family were peasants"
I said, "Ooh, you called your Mum a peasant! I'm grassing!"
He said, "That's OK, you can tell her. She won't mind."

The conversation went on. A few minutes later.

I said (something like), "Are you ready for death?"
He said, "I think so."
I said, "What if your Mum died?"
He said, "I think I'm pretty much ready for that."
I said, "Ooh, you said you're ready for your Mum to die! I'm grassing!"
He said, "That's OK, you can tell her. She wouldn't mind."
I said (funny bit), "So you're saying that I can go to your Mum and say 'Paul says you're a peasant and he's ready for you to die.'"
He said, "No don't say that."

OK, if you missed the funniness it's because it was quite a complicated tale. However, I feel it could easily be fitted into a sitcom if placed right.

If you need proof that it's funny, it makes me laugh every time I think about it, and even then when I typed "Paul says you're a peasant and he's ready for you to die." That line is just soooo funny.

Anyway, you need to respond now with the funniest things you've ever said or done, or even better more funny things that I've said or done.

Not including, Heather, the thing about the sink...

So, It Would Appear That I'm Blogging Again...

I've no idea how that happened, but seeing as I'm here I may as well carry on.

Of course, you can still find my old blog posts here. I do find them entertaining reading.

Of course, our of everyone, Paul is the only one who hasn't noticed that my blog is back (and his Mum). Of course it probably helped Graham, Bob and my Mum that I told them I was blogging again, but that's no excuse.

After all Des(mondo) somehow noticed that I'd posted. It took him all of 2 minutes to notice the post. I then posted a comment and it took him about another 2 minutes to notice that. I think there might be technology at work here.

Anyway, maybe it'd be fairer to tell Paul that my blog's up again. Or maybe we could gather here to talk about him behind his back. For example, he gave me a lift to the tip the other day, and his hair was all sticky uppy at the back like he'd just been sleeping.

Anyone else got any dirt to dish?

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About

Right, we all have our favourite comedy things, don't we? The things that we absolutely adore for their comedy brilliance. Well some of mine are:

Homestarrunner
The Office *pleasureable sigh*
My Blog
and now Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About

Note: Little Britain is not on the list because it's good, but not that good.

Anyway, I find the site really quite amazing. It's got that rare ability of making my just smile and laugh all the way through reading it, even if I've read it before.

I've also bought the book by the same name by the same guy, although it's fictional whereas the website is factual. And I've started reading his column in The Guardian online (go to The Guardian website and search for 'Mil Millington' in the search field) - equally funny.

So there. I'm sure most of you have perused the site and read most if not all of it. But if you haven't then I really feel you should, including all the ancillary bits like the FAQ etc.

It's effectively a guy (who lives in Wolverhampton) writing about things that he and his girlfriend Margret have argued about. I think they're generally typical relationship niggles, although some of them have that mental quality that you only find in the most firey of relationships.

He gets lots of comment on his site saying that either she's a witch and he should leave her, or he's evil and she should leave him, or offering relationship advice. But you can tell that they're immensely in love and will probably be together forever, like two bulls with their horns inseperably locked.

Who to Vote For...?

(I've already typed this post once but had to close the browser window because my boss's boss came along. But then he went and I could have kept it open behind my Outlook window. Hmmph.)

Usually I don't vote, on the principle that I feel completely unrepresented by any party or group.

But, maybe because I read so much news nowadays, I feel compelled to vote in the upcoming election. But now I'm just not sure who to vote for.

Naturally there's one party I won't be voting for...



because it would feel like I was voting for the baddies.

As Paul said to me the other day: when he was younger, in his mind Margaret Thatcher was synonymous with Darth Vader, in that they were both the leaders of the baddies. Michael Howard just feels to me like the new leader of the baddies.

I was considering voting Liberal Democrat, but I watched Charles Kennedy do his manifesto speech this morning and didn't really warm to him. Sure I like their idea of a local income tax, but I don't think he's got the charisma to run the country.

I was also considering the Green Party. OK they're not ready to run a country by any means, in fact their barely ready to have their first MP in Westminster, but I like the idea of wind farms and seriously feel that more and more emphasis needs to be put on ethics and the environment, before there's no world left to save.

My final option, after disregarding the downright foul BNP and Veritas is Labour. (By the way, why don't you read this annoying and really quite poorly written article from the BNP website by one of their regular columnists, Cat. It's annoying.)

Now I have mixed feelings about Labour. Between the years of 1997 - 2003 I thoroughly supported Tony Blair. However since about 2003 I've started to lose trust in him (yeah I know I'm running a couple of years behind the rest of the country, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt).

If we disregard the Iraq war shenagagins then I think he's done a fair job of it. However he comes across to me as an image man. Honesty can go by the by as long as the image of himself, the cabinet, and the party in maintained. Now I know that that's going to be the case with any party leader, but with him it's been so visible, and the curtain of illusion has been so tangibly manufactured that I don't want to see him in office any longer.

Gordon Brown however I could live with. I still have a degree of faith in Labour's plans. They got into power in '97 and said that they had a long job ahead of them and to bear with them while they did it. I think they've done an OK job and are still on their way to getting somewhere. Therefore I want to give them the opportunity to finish the job they've started, but under the leadership of Gordon "seems to be OK" Brown.

Now I'm not a politically minded person, so if you disagree with me then I don't really care, because I'm not all that sure that I agree with me.

Waste ... Want



Here's an interesting article from the BBC site about waste. It really is a serious serious serious issue, with quite significant karmic repercussions I'm sure you'll agree.

Just think, when all of that wastage comes back to you, you'll be like totally wasted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Today I Went for a Walk

It was a beautiful day - most enjoyable.