84. Con-life

Brook Dancing

Brook Dancing

[insert usual lame excuse about not posting for months here]

The new life in Indiana is going well. My eldest daughter has moved down with me for the summer because Dad will pay her the most, not because she actually wants to be here. Soon the Summer will be over and she can scoot back of to Northern Michigan and freeze her butt off.

To make herself not be so bored with her surroundings she plays X-Box. She has one of those dancing games. I watched her the other day and I was convinced the Napoleon Dynamite had moved in. She also takes the dogs for walks, goes for bike rides, but does not mow the lawn.

She also bought a load of wool. And has been taking the scrap wire from work.

“What are you doing?” I asked when I finally ran out of beer and actually was ready to pretend to show an interest.
“Making a cos-play outfit.”

And then it hit me. My daughter was a nerd. One who wanted to dress up as a Pokémon.

I sighed and realized I had more beer so all was good.

We talked about the Sci-Fi conventions she went to. How everyone was really cool. How everyone liked giving hugs.

I shuddered.

Hugs? Conventions are not about Hugs! They are about catching up with your mates, getting drunk, doing stupid stuff.

So I told her about my Sci-fi con going days.

To start this out I feel like I should mention HG Wells “The Time Machine.” The young man who listens to the Time Travelers story mentions that in telling the story he feels inadequate and conveying the full splendor of the Travelers story. I too in telling my own tale feel inadequate at retelling the tales that are to follow. Mainly because I was drunk most of the time and/or hurt from some kind of injury sustained from me arsing about.
So as the Time Traveler said. “It’s true, all of it, take it as some kind of fantasy if you will, some ramblings of a deranged old man….ah, sod it, you don’t believe me then Tough S**T!”

It all started with a book. Not an ordinary book, a book that was a wonderful read and was so good I read it all while siting in the bath. As the water grew colder and things starting to shrivel and wrinkle I realized that this Author was a genius, a stark raving genius. Not since the ramblings of Spike had I been so impressed and I sought out more from this man….well after I got out of the bath anyway.

Robert Rankin

Robert Rankin

So what was this life changing book. Who was this writer of tales sublime?

The Book: Nostradamus Ate My Hamster
The Author: Robert Rankin

OK for my English readers, if you’ve not heard of him, shame on you.
For my American readers. You’ll have to order his books as Borders or Barnes and Nobel are bloody useless.

I read as much Rankin as I could lay my grubby hands on. His madness appealed to my not so straight sense of humour. Eventually I joined his fan club, “SPROUTLORE” a group of like minded individuals who weren’t the slightest bit worried about legal ramifications.

I'm in blue

I’m in blue

I think The first time I actually met Guru Rankin was on the infamous Riverboat Shuffle. What this entailed was around 50 or 60 drunks renting a largish boat and terrorizing the natives of the river Thames in London. All started well, then five minutes later the boat broke down underneath Tower Bridge. Luckily for everyone involved the ship had a bar. When the boat finally got moving again, we were all incredibly happy and just a tad sunburned. The boat meandered its way westward to the borough of Brentford. When 50 or 60 drunks followed His Highness Rankin around the Borough pointing at various building and posing for slightly wonky photos outside of places that appear in the books. Most of which are pubs!

That was kind of tame really. Then Next time got a little silly. I flew of to Dublin, crashing on the floor of my pal James Bacon, who really is to blame for everything that has happened in the world ever. This was Octocon X.

Again this was a little tame, drunk yes. I do remember jumping down a flight of stairs and doing a barrel roll into the parking lot.

poor little thing never stood a chance

poor little thing never stood a chance

Aliens Stole My Handbag was another great event, I spent my nights sleeping in a broom cupboard, my days fairly close to a bar. I also remember being naked and surround by smoke, baked beans and a game or Hurley. Invading Horshell Common too, or did I sleep through that?

Then In Birmingham there was the night that ended my dancing career, It may be a theme here but I had had a small sherry or two and a night of pointing at exploding things going OOH, AHHH, and RUN AWAY!
I ended up in a disco, something I hadn’t done since the 70s and was dancing like a nut job. In all honesty I cannot dance, I can however jump around and have a laugh. The level of my insane dancing is totally proportional to the amount of beer in my system. I was bouncing around to Baggy Trousers by Madness when something that had been well overdue happened. I twisted my ankle. Even the booze didn’t stop me wincing in pain. I stumbled back to whoevers room I was crashing in and ran my foot under the cold tap. Nope, that wasn’t gonna sober me up. So I put my sock and shoe back on and hobbled back to the bar.
For two days I limped around, stopping only to refill my glass and play human buckaroo with whoever had passed out. As all good things have to end, I caught the train back home. I have always been a walker – Its only since I moved the United States have I got lazy and started driving – So walking the two miles from the Railway station to my hovel was nothing. Even though I was carrying three very heavy bags it shouldn’t have been an issue. On a good day it would have taken me twenty minutes, today was not a good day. It took me two hours. I kept stopping because something was bothering me greatly. T’was me foot!

When I got home I removed my sock and shoe to reveal something quite unusual. Remember my foot had not seen daylight for two and a half days now (most people at cons fall asleep in their clothes for some reason) and to my surprise my foot was not it’s normal hue. Purple is more the word. A very dark purple. This I thought to myself if not normal. And after spending eight hours at the hospital the doctors agreed with me and decided that six weeks in a plaster cast should mend the broken foot that I had been walking around on. Apparently I should seek medical attention right away next time. Funny that.

Before ASMH came one of my proudest moments.

This is a quote from Ansible 154.

Mark’s Favourite 2Kon Moment: ‘A clump of Sproutlore/ZZ9/Aliens Stole My Handbag people were hanging out in the bar in the early hours of Sunday morning. One was wearing shorts and the others were merrily singeing the hairs on his legs. Just to pass the time, you understand. A barman came out to investigate the source of the strange burning smell, but was presumably content that there was no risk. “It’s all right,” he yelled back to a colleague. “They’re just setting fire to one another.”‘

Yes it was me who was on fire!

Good Old days..

I miss them.

I miss my pals, James, Stef, James, Lee, Elvis, Jim and the others.

I need a hug

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83. Here I Am.

Shhh. It’s all quiet here! Nothing to see, move along.

OK, sorry to my regular readers for the lack of posts but things have been a little busy in the real world.

Some of you may remember THIS post. Well it is happened again.

As you know for the last ten years I’ve lived just north of Detroit, well due to my company wanting to relocate I’m now in a different State. Indiana is now my home, just outside of Indianapolis a new city for me to explore, waste time and write about.

So what has happened in the weeks since my last entry.

Obviously quite a lot.

I got a new car.

Avenger

Avenger

 

I am building a new warehouse.

Bat Cave

Bat Cave

 

I bought a new house.

Baker Manor

Baker Manor

 

I found my long lost cousins.

Lost no more!

Lost no more!

I found out what really goes into Dominoes Pizza.

All true!

All true!

 

But most importantly I discovered the most amazing BBQ joint.

City Barbeque on Rockville Road, Avon, IN

The most amazing smoked meats you’ll find. I love all their foods, but their chicken just melts in your mouth.

Things are settling down now, so normal service will be resumed ASAP!

Keep stopping by, there are so many more things I have to tell you!

 

Posted in Cars, Detroit, Family, Food and Drink, Indianapolis, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

82. True Story.

Newcastle_United_Logo_svgI want to tell you a tale, possibly a short one, but true none the less. It is about the time I played for Newcastle United.

Being a lifelong Ipswich Town fan of course I would have loved to have played for them, but things never work out that way. And as Sir Bobby Robson once managed the Toon Army it seemed OK to wear the black and white stripes.

When I started my playing career I was a goalkeeper. But soon found that my skills as a forward were much-needed.

The day, I’m sure was a saturday. The location, St.James Park, the opponents Liverpool.

172298_NewcastleI don’t remember much of the game, it seemed to fly by. What I do remember is how close I came to scoring and winning the game.

It was a goalmouth scramble, The ball hit the keeper and flew back, someone else hit the crossbar and that’s when my chance came. The ball was coming to me for that perfect once in a lifetime shot. My foot raised with speed and power and connected with the ball.  I watched it fly from my foot, but sadly just scoot by the top right hand corner and go out of play.

I put my hands to my head, and I heard the crowd say “ouch, what did you do that for?”

“eh?”

“You kicked me!”

“what?”

“You just kicked my in the ass!”

oh.

I awoke from my dream to find a very annoyed Wife. Apparently I kicked her several times.

True Story.

Moral of story….

Keep you knee over the ball and keep your shot down!

Posted in Family, Football/Soccer, Sports/Recreation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

81. New Years and Paperbags

Eat, Drink and be merry my friends. tis the season to be jolly.

And also the season to say to every Mayan you meet “Liar, Liar, pants on Fire.”

This year has been highly unproductive and I have wasted a lot of time doing very little. I have drunk many beers, eaten many, many chicken wings and done that one thing we all hate to do. Go to work.

It’s around this time of year I get all sentimental and remember all the great things of my youth. All the candy, all the beer.

When you have a lot of time to sit around with the family, and you get to learn what is most important to others.  My eldest daughter spends most of her time up at Northern Michigan University, terrorising the coast guard and trying to remove rocks with her head. (That of course is a story for another time) She has spent most of her time down here over christmas forgetting how to switch the lights off on the car and asking random strangers for a jump-start.

During one of her more awake moments she reminded me of some of the stuff we used to get when she was a kid. One of them was the paper bag trick.

The paper bag trick as it turns out is probably the most important bit of information I have to give to the world. Some know about nuclear science, others know how to balance an economy, me I know how to entertain someone for thirty seconds with a paper bag.

For this you will need.

A Paperbag

A Paperbag

One Hand

One Hand

and the hardest thing to find, an invisible ball.

and the hardest thing to find, an invisible ball.

We all have paperback, those sandwich bags you send your kids off to school with. A hand you should all have unless you come from one of the Southern States. The Invisible ball however you may have trouble finding. Mine was handed down to me by a long line of crazy people. I am however thinking of starting a website selling invisible balls. I think it is a winner of an idea, I see no-one else doing it on-line.  Just for the record I painted my Invisible ball red so I could tell it apart from the rest.

Now when you have located an invisible ball, what I hear you cry do you do with it?

Well I think there are no better people to tell you how to use an invisible ball than classic sketch from Morcombe and Wise. Enjoy, and have a great new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Family, games, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

80. Detroit 2 – Pics From Above. And others.

I’ve written about Detroit before but I thought I’d share with you a few pics I took.

My Mum and my Sister just come over for a visit and so we had a nose around the city. We decided to take a tour of the Renascence Center.  On the tour they tell you all the interesting facts about the building. But of course the bit everyone wants to do is go to the observation deck on the 72nd floor.

The glass elevator. just like willy wonka. thats Canada in the distance.

The glass elevator. just like willy wonka. that’s Canada in the distance.

 

we all know how big these things are! this is what it looks like from floor 72

we all know how big these things are! this is what it looks like from floor 72

normally you can only get up here to go to this resteraunt.....

normally you can only get up here to go to this restaurant …..

 

......a resteraunt I'd never be able to afford to eat in!

……a  restaurant I’d never be able to afford to eat in!

 

From the Laugh-in TV show the oversized chair Rita Ratner sat in,

From the Laugh-in TV show the oversized chair Rita Ratner sat in,

On a good day you can see 30 miles in any direction from the 72nd floor, you can even see the Pontiac Silverdome.

On a good day you can see 30 miles in any direction from the 72nd floor, you can even see the Pontiac Silverdome.

one of my favorite Detroit Buildings

one of my favorite Detroit Buildings

Cobo, Joe Louis Arena

Cobo, Joe Louis Arena

Deeeeeeetroit!

Deeeeeeetroit!

Did you know there were tennis courts on the roof of the Milender Center?

Did you know there were tennis courts on the roof of the Milender Center?

Comerica Park!

Comerica Park!

I bumped into this guy in the GM show room!

I bumped into this guy in the GM show room!

After the Ren Cen we took the people mover for a tour. well worth 75 cents

After the Ren Cen we took the people mover for a tour. well worth 75 cents

Detroit has some wonderful buildings.

Detroit has some wonderful buildings.

And some wonderful artwork.

And some wonderful artwork.

My sister in Greektown, three seconds after she was checking to see if the statue is anotomically correct.

My sister in Greektown, three seconds after she was checking to see if the statue is anatomically correct.

OK this isn't Detroit, its the christmas lights at partridge creek.

OK this isn’t Detroit, it’s the christmas lights at partridge creek.

And finally as I have nowhere else to put this pic. I was at my favorite breakfast haunt, Andarys in Clinton Township and I spotted a hidden face on the menu!

And finally as I have nowhere else to put this pic. I was at my favorite breakfast haunt, Andarys in Clinton Township and I spotted a hidden face on the menu!

 

Posted in Detroit, Family, Holidays/Vacations | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

79. American-English

happy birthday

A year ago I started this blog with no expectations. I just wanted to write about nothing and make people laugh at some silly stuff. I’ve been amazed how well it has been received and love all the great comments. I’ve read back over the first couple of posts I made a few years ago and realise that a couple of the entries I didn’t do them enough justice, so at some point I may have to revisit those entries.

So before we get started with this birthday blog entry I have a quick thing to say.

हेल्लो एंड वेल्चोमे तो मी ओने एंड ओन्ली रेअदर फ्रोम नेपाल

There.

That by the way was for my only reader from Nepal.

AMERICAN-ENGLISH.

I have been living in the States for a little over ten years now and it never ceases to amaze me. Not the fact that I live in the States. I am used to living here now and can moan about $4.00 a gallon  gas like a native (that’s £2.51 a gallon!)

What I am amazed at is some of the things that come out of you crazy Americans.  For the most part there are a few sane Americans. The ones who read this blog, you are all O.K.  It’s the ones who I meet at random times in public that get to me.  These are people who I shall never meet again, but will always stay with me because of what they say to me.

Most conversations start with the word “Oh, I love your accent.”

No harm, no foul there, I do have a great accent.

It is what follows that makes me wonder how some people actually graduated high school.

These are genuinely things that people have said to me.

1) Oh, I love your accent. Are you from Canada?

2) Oh, I love your accent. Are you from Australia?

3) Scotland?

4) South Africa?

5) My cousins from Holland, do you get home much?

6) Wales?

7) Oh, I love your accent. Where are you from?

   I’m From England.

(disappointed) Oh, I thought you were British or something.

8) Oh cool you’re English, I love England, Do you know any of the Beatles?

9) Oh, I love your accent. Where are you from?

I’m from England.

Cool, what language do they speak there?

John Lemon!

That last one happened at a hairdressers that I have not been back to. No one should be that dumb and carry sharp objects. As for the Beatles one, I told the lady in question that “John Lennon hadn’t talked to me in a while.”  I also told her that they were making a sequel to Titanic and they were just going to show the movie backwards so it had a happy ending.  Look, if people are going to be gullible, it is only right that I take advantage of it.

Like the fact that my TH’s sound like F’s. So thank you sounds like Fank You. Of something close to Fank. I’ve often had a horrified look from cashiers who think I’m saying Fuck You………Or maybe I am ;-)

People who I talk to know very little about what goes on outside of Michigan, and even less about what happens outside of America. In a recent poll 45.6% of Americans thought Afghanistan was a breed of Dog.  O.K. I made that statistic up, but you get the picture.

If you ask the Average American to draw a picture of England, this is what you would probably get.

Then when you tell them that there is a little more to the British Isle some might be able to come up with this.

You may think I’m being over the top, but we all remember this.

Why am I ragging on Americans today? After all I did marry one. Partly because of the popularity of the last post, but secondly there’s a deep emotional bond between an Englishman and his country.  So why am I not British?  Englishman become British at one time only and that is when a sports team from Scotland, Wales or Ireland actually look like they are going to win something. At that point they cease to be Scottish, Welsh or Irish they become British. The moment they lose they return to their own nationality.  English sports teams when they do well, do not become British, they stay English and were proud of it.

And the letter “U” we love the letter “U” and I am convinced that the only reason Americans dropped the “U” was because they wanted to save on ink.

And while I’m moaning, you didn’t win the revolution. We gave up and went to Australia as it has better beach front property.

Then there are problems with words. Theres things I can’t say here without getting funny looks. So to educate I shall give you a list of words, phrases and things and their meanings.

Football = Football. Not soccer, what you play is handegg.

Trunk = what elephants have not cars, cars have boots.

Hood = What Robin had, cars have Bonnets.

Fag = Its a cigarette, get over it.

Wanker = Justin Bieber

Apples and Pairs = A stair case

Big Ben = It’s a bell, not a tower.

Ale = Real beer

Copper = Policeman

Bobby = Policeman

Plod = Policeman

Filth = Policeman

A Monkey = five hundred pounds

O.K. to save me typing out a million of the ones I remember, just go here http://www.aldertons.com/english-.htm

Well I’m totally cream crackered so I’m off pigs ear and a sooty and sweep.

Lets see if next year will be even more crazy!?

 

Posted in American/ English, Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

78. A Message to America

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN

To the citizens of the United States of America from

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

———————–

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

————————

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

——————-

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

—————–

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

———————-

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

———————-

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

——————-

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

——————-

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

———————

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

———————

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

———————

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

——————–

13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

—————–

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

—————–

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

__

footnote

I wish I could take credit for this but I “borrowed” it from Just for laughs.

Please watch out for a future entry entitled plagiarism!

Posted in American/ English | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

77. All That Jazz.

O.K. it is going to be one of those days. I just spent a couple of minutes trying to delete a full stop (period) that wouldn’t disappear. Back and forth I went with the cursor and the little bugger wouldn’t move. I slapped myself in the head when I got rid of the annoying punctuation by rubbing the dirt off the computer screen.  Genius I am not!

I am no super genius, or are I?

So where have the damn posts been? Those of you who are keen observers of such things will know that I coach soccer, and for a couple of months in the spring and a couple of months in the Fall and the odd tournament here or there I do tend to get busy. So blog entries run a little thin. Which is  a shame because I love to write and I love all the comments and love seeing my hit counter spin ever upwards like the U.S. financial debt.

One of the pictures I took and didn’t know where else to post it!

Regular readers will remember not so long ago I got my first smart phone. I love my phone, though I shouldn’t really call it a phone. I very rarely use it for talking on. I use the video chat with the folks back in England and I use it to trawl the internet, play Temple Run,  check email and such.  The apps you can get can be very handy. I enjoy using twitter, and facebook and instagram (Twitter for people who can’t read) and the app called Tunein Radio.

Tunein allows you to listen to pretty much any radio station anywhere in the world. So I love listening to BBC Five Live, Bury St.Edmunds Heart Radio, which a long time ago used to be a good radio station called Saxon Radio now its just your generic rubbish. I listen to a couple of the Detroit stations 101.1 WRIF, 97.1fm the Ticket and News Radio 950, but the station I have loved for years and have been listening to the most is BBC Radio Two.  I’ve always been a big Steve Wright fan and Simon Mayo always makes me laugh, but here’s the kicker. The show I like the most is the Alex Lester show.  Alex Lester has the graveyard shift and has done for many year. I used to listen to him when I worked night shift back in 1997 at the Sugar Beet Factory in Bury St Edmunds, so when I found Radio Two on the app I was over the moon to find that Alex was still doing a show. Whats even better is that although the show is in the middle of the night in the UK, it’s a late evening show here in the US!

Alex Lester, check him out on BBC Radio 2

Alex always plays some great music and the banter is funny and entertaining and you should all check out his show either through the Tunein app or on the BBC website.

It was Alex Lesters show where I first heard of Shawn Colvin and I’m sure over the years he turned me on to plenty of other artists.

I’m glad things never change. Within two days of re-finding Alex on the interwaves he did it again, he turned me on to a great singer and re-lit a love for a style of music that was always there, but never understood.

Caro Emeralds – A Night Like This, is awesome. A blend of 60’s big band, modern beats, and a smooth sexy voice that is like a box of chocolates, each chocolate leaving you wanting another bite. If you haven’t watch the video yet, I shall pause now so that you can go enjoy the song………….

I’m assuming you are back now after enjoying the video. If you didn’t watch it, then I assume once more that you have already heard the wonderful tones of Caro Emerald. If you didn’t watch it then shame one you and the rest of us will wait for you to leave……………

Caro Emerald

When you hear a track like that it sends something around your system that kick starts memories, senses, moments in time.  Taken from the album, Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor, A Night Like This is just one of a whole host of gorgeousness. Back It Up, That Man, Dr. Wanna Do, Stuck, Just One Dance all these tracks are ones you want to play over and over.

I plugged Caro Emeralds name into my Pandora account and it was as if I’d opened up something that had been hidden deep inside. Let me explain.

When I was a young lad Sundays were a very predictable day. We would have a superb sunday roast dinner (Mum you still do the best roast potatoes) and sandwiches and crisps and angel cake for tea in the evening followed by usually bad Sunday Evening TV which normally meant Songs of Praise and Antiques Roadshow.

state of the art sound system

Mornings were a different matter. If we hadn’t wandered off to see Granddad and Nanna then the morning would go something like this. Breakfast followed by music. There was always music on a sunday. And not just any music. It was the best music according to my Father. And now I know he was right. I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong. Although I didn’t know it these singers and their songs were being buried deep into my subconscious to be awoken later. I believe I mentioned in one of my entries that one of my bucket list items is to sing in front of a Big Band and as practice when I go to a karaoke bar I always do “It Had to Be you,” the Harry Connick Jnr. Version.

Pandora started kicking up Frank, Bing, Nat and the others, but it also awoke that deep filing cabinet of memories I have that had got all dusty. Boom, there was Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Percy Sledge ,Isham Jones,  The Penguins who sang Earth Angel. Then there are the songs, C’est Le Bon, Sway, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Unforgettable, Jump In The Line…..You get the picture.  Go to Pandora and type in Caro Emerald and you will see what I mean!

Posted in Computers, Family, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

76. Splish Splash.

There comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to make the decision. Sink or swim.

I’m not talking about the struggles of life, I’m talking about the day when you get thrown in a swimming pool and splash about and hope you stay on the surface.


I’m not sure if it still happens in England but when I was in primary school the weekly school swimming lessons would begin.  Or in my case the weakly swimming lessons.

Bury St. Edmunds Leisure Centre

Our lessons took place at Bury St. Edmunds Leisure Centre. A great place for sports that has only burned down twice. You can go there and do Karate, play basketball, football, badminton, do zumba (whatever the hell that is) and of course swimming. When I was a youngster there were two pools, the big scary one that was cold, and the small one where the little kids swam which was warmed by the urine of small babies so the legend went.  And while I remember the little pool I would just like to say to the group of girls who were in there and 1976 and tried to pull my swim shorts off, I still remember and one day I will have my revenge!

David Atkins – Les the Barman and his goodbye ghurkins

The day came when I had to stop splashing and start swimming. No more arm bands for me. No more warm water. Those from my school will remember our mode of transport to the pool. The school bus was nothing special. What looked like an ex-armed forces troop transporter was grey and bland and had an over friendly bus driver who looked like Les from Men Behaving Badly. He was very proud of his school bus and decorated it with Panini football stickers. As I was a kid I thought it was cool as I collected those stickers and was always looking to see what new ones were stuck to his bus. Nowadays I think people would be calling to get a background check!

Just like something out of Men In Black

Now two things happened when I went to the swimming pool. 1) I swam about in the shallow end freezing my butt off and 2) I came home minus one sock.

Each week I would lose a sock. I have a theory that the lockers at the sports centre would eat stray socks. Well my socks anyway. That would mean spending the rest of the day at school with one foot feeling awkward.  The local sock merchants must have loved me, well my Mothers money anyway. I’m sure that when the sport centre burned down it was because of my smouldering sock somewhere.

Now here comes the truth, I am not a good swimmer. I never have been. And swimming lessons really proved the point to me that I was meant to be a land creature. Fortunately Michigan is above sea level by about 900 feet on average so that helps. I’m quite happy to stay in shallow water. In fact if I can touch the bottom then I’m really happy (and no sniggering at the double entendre)

When you learn to swim at a young age you get certificates. My swimming certificate (I only ever got the one) was my proudest sporting achievement until 1995. Nearly twenty years of being in the sporting wilderness. Being the kid who got picked last!  So to end let me show you one of my sporting treasures. This comes right from the Gaylord Focker wall of fame. Have a great day and Learn to swim!

My 8 Metre Swimming Certificate

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75. Knowing Me, Knowing you!

Christmas of 1980 was a good one.

No T.V. Dinner turkey.  (I’ll save that one for another day)

The sisters had moved out of the house, so I had all the presents for myself! I got the usual Beano annual, assorted chocolates etc. But the one thing I got that I still love to this day is the ABBA greatest hits Vol 2.

Still A great song!

Before I ramble on about ABBA let me just mention another record I got that year. Jona Lewie’s Stop the Cavalry was not meant to be a Christmas song. That’s just the way it turned out. I think it was the Christmas bells and tubas playing that gave that impression, oh and the line “Wish I was at home for Christmas.”

It was meant to be a protest song against war, but everyone just remembers it as a great song that was held off the number one spot by a School Choir and the sympathy for John Lennon after he got shot on December 8th, Way to ruin my Birthday Mark David Chapman.

best greatest hits record EVER

So back to ABBA, Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid formed the Swedish mega group. Or was it Alfred, Betty, Boris and Angela as Alexi Sayle called them in the Young Ones.

ABBA ruled the 70s and early 80s and I loved the melodic wonderfully catchy tunes, and I still do. My love of ABBA ditties has never gone away. So when the ABBA revival kicked off recently I was all ears. The revival being of course the stage musical Mamma Mia and the same titled movie.  The Stage show I haven’t seen but the movie is great.

But hold up!

Wait right there!

Mamma Mia wasn’t where the revival started folks, and if you think it did the you are wrong so ner, ner, ne, ner, ner!

Shooby Do wah

The Revival started with the brilliant 1994 Australian smash hit Muriel’s Wedding starring Toni Collette. If you have never seen this film it is one that you need to own, not just rent, or borrow. If you rent it you probably wont want to give it back anyway. The story of Muriel is one of the ugly duckling who tries her hardest to escape the drudgery of her life and to one day have that big white wedding. Muriel, when depressed has a habit of listening to ABBA tunes.  I do have to say there is actually one of my favorite songs of all time in this movie, and it is not an ABBA song.  It’s a type of song that I call an “Oh cool,” song.  I have a list of “Oh cool,” songs that I shall have to blog about at some time.  Why is it called an “Oh cool” song?  It’s because when it comes on the radio you say “Oh Cool,” and turn the radio up as loud as it will go. One of those songs is Sugar Baby Love by the Rubettes. I’ve always loved the start of this song, a great opening to a tune, which only comes second to Cars by Gary Numan by a hair!

Muriel’s Wedding (1994)

Muriel’s wedding is one of my go to movies whenever I’ve got nothing to watch or there is nothing on T.V.  Theres a couple of other things I go to. Almost Famous, The Princess Bride and Lilo and Stitch. All classic movies.

Mamma Mia is by no means a classic, it does however have some great songs. What removes it from classic status is that it has Julie Walters in it, who played Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. It’s not the Harry Potter role that holds the movie back. It is that I remember Julie Walters from the old Victoria Wood T.V. show where she played a character called Mrs Overall. And whenever I see her on the screen that’s who I think of.

Mamma Mia

I’ve been getting a lot of grief lately from the Wifey that I like ABBA songs. So what if I have an ABBA station on my Pandora account. So what if I have a fondness for show tunes. Don’t read anything in to it.

If you don’t love ABBA songs there has to be something wrong with you. How can you not dig the Dancing Queen.

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