Monday, December 29, 2008

Lucky mascot

Yesterday I saw Shrewsbury scrape a 1-0 win over Bury, which stopped the rot after three league defeats on the bounce. It was a dire game with too many overhit passes, poor defending, and even poorer shooting. The goal itself was quite good, Town's top scorer Grant Holt heading home a Drogba-esque reverse header under pressure.

But overall there wasn't much to commend it. Bury seemed a dirty team, as was proven when their central defender elbowed one of the town player in the face, off the ball and under the nose of the referee. Usually an incident like that would enrage the fans. Instead we all just sat there slightly stunned. Personally, I've never seen anything like that in a football game. The ref had no hesitation and pulled out a red card and that was the end of his match.

Town are still in the play-off places, but realistically this team would get relegated straight away if they went up. They're weak in midfield and got caught in possession too many times - once almost leading to a goal. Fortunately Bury aren't that great at finishing either, otherwise it could have been an embarassing reverse against ten men.

Still scraping a scrappy win is still a win and my record at the new stadium is now 7 games, 6 wins and 1 loss. Not bad!

Friday, December 26, 2008

You've got to make your own fun, as I said to my friend the googly-eyed carrot.

Hope you had a good Christmas. I found a new friend.

Well, what else can you do when you find a carrot with a nose, but give him a pair of googly eyes too?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All because the lady loves... a generation gap

A couple of weeks ago it was the youth Christmas fancy dress party. I could have gone as a cowardly lion, but to be honest the thought of putting on that suit again so soon made me shudder.

So we raided the wardrobe. Cathy had a black polo neck jumper she'd bought in a sale at Next. I still have the black jacket from my wedding suit (and it still fits, amazingly). A pair of black trousers, gloves, and shoes, and a black scarf later and I was almost there. All I needed was the requisite box of chocolates and I was the Milk Tray Man

I should explain who the Milk Tray Man was in case you don't know, but frankly I'm not responsible for your cultural ignorance. Besides you can always click on the handy link I've provided.

The reactions I got to my amazing costume were two-fold. From the other leaders it was "You're the Milk Tray Man? That's awesome!" And from the kids it was "You're who?" "The Milk Tray Man." "The Milk Tray... who? What did he do?"

The thing is when I started to explain it they were even more mystified. "So, he used to ski down a mountain, break into a lady's bedroom and leave a box of chcolates by her bed? He sounds like a stalker." Well, yes, when you put it like that...

Anyway, I stand by my costume choice and I'm sure you'll agree I look very suave.

Er, except when I'm trying to be!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Territorial cheese

We went on a late night shoppping trip to Tesco last night (not recommended three days before Christmas), because we needed a few staples like milk, cheese and, er, gherkins.

Anyhoo, I got some Double Gloucester cheese. Two lots because it was on linksave.

After we paid I was checking the receipt to make sure the special offers had come off and there it was: "Territorial cheese - 2 for £x". Now I've heard it called 'Regional cheese' before now when it's lumped in with the Cheshire, Red Leicester and Wensleydale, but 'territorial' sounds so much worse.

I can imagine the scene in the fridge right now - the cheese is kicking the other perishable produce. "Get away from my cheese box, you! This is my territory! You're not allowed near it!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guitar Zero

So Cath and I have been given Guitar Hero for Christmas (yes, yes we opened it early, I know tut tut), and I've remembered why I've never actually stuck with playing the guitar despite a couple of attempts.

I have small hands. Now they hurt.

This Basic Instructions strip about said game is one of my favourites. The third panel *is* me. (Click on it to get a bigger version - don't squint.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wahey the car has heat.

So last Friday, I took the car into the garage for them to work out why the heater wasn't working. The basic problem, it appeared, was that the heater motor was dead, no more, gone to meet it's maker, shuffled off it's mortal coil etc. etc. And the really bad news was that new one would cost £158.

My mechanic, Phil, suggested I find a replacement online, which they'd then fit. He plucked a figure at random out of the air and said 'You'll probably find one for about £30'.

So, on Monday I went spare part hunting. I found a website which links into 2500 breaker's yards across the country. You type in what part you need and what car it's for, and your details, and then you get emailed quotes. I had about 9 people get in touch with me within about three hours, but I thought I'd wait and see if any came in overnight.

Sure enough, on thr Tuesday morning, there was a new quote in my inbox, from a place which only does VW and Audi spares and it was cheaper than all the others. The price including postage was... £30.

I rang them up. "Yeah, this is for a mark III," said the guy. "It came out of a P reg. Is that OK?" Well, as my car is a P reg, that was perfect. I gave him my credit card number and asked for him to send it to me at work.

On Wednesday, it arrived at work, wrapped up in bubble wrap and a bin liner. "Is that a severed head?" asked a colleague. "Yes," I said, "of the last person who asked me about my parcels." I rang the garage asking if they could fit me in. Phil told me to bring the car in the next day and leave it with them.

So, Thursday I took the train into work (Grangetown station is right opposite the garage - handy!) and then returned after work to find the heater worked perfectly. Woo hoo! No more having to be a human demister with a wipey pad thing. In fact, it works so well I'm beginning to think the old heater motor was broken for the whole time I've had the car.

So, it took me about a week to get the heating sorted, but it saved me £128 and I felt very manly sourcing my own car parts and everything. (I've left out the part where I rang Phil and asked him what the difference was between a heater motor, a heater fan motor and a heater blower motor, only for him to laugh and say they were all the same thing, as that undermines my manly abilities.) So, yeah, it all worked out well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rom-coms are evil

Well, maybe not evil, but not very good for your love life - according to boffins.

This lends weight to my theory that most single chicks are single because they are waiting for a white knight/Hugh Grant/Mr Darcy to whisk them off their feet in a magical jamboree of odd coincidences, fated chance encounters and smouldering passion.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oliver Postgate RIP

I heard the sad news today that Oliver Postgate who created Bagpuss, the Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog, has passed away at the age of 83. He was a great story-teller and communicator, and in many ways a hero of mine. Not only did he create some of the greatest children's TV characters ever, he did it on a minimal budget, filming in a converted farm outbuilding.

He didn't use hi-tech computer wizardry, or marketing publicity overkill. He just told stories, which had real soul. Growing up I loved Bagpuss and looking at it now, the pure simplicity of the animation was part of it's charm. But the real power of Oliver Postgate's work was in his characters - the pompous Professor Yaffle, or the cheeky mice, or Tiny Clanger being scared of froglets, or Noggin taking on the evil Nogbad, or a little steam engine who wanted to sing in the choir. Or Bagpuss, with his ever-so-catching yawn.

A lot of people don't know this, but Oliver Postgate was a pacifist and toured the country in the early 1980s showing the episode of the Clangers which never got aired on the BBC, where the little pink aliens got involved in an arms race and ended up blowing up their little moon. Of course, the Clangers' moon was really our world, just seen through different eyes, and back then there was a real danger of it being blown to hell. It took real courage to stand up against the evil of nuclear weapons, and I admire him for doing that.

Of course, "children's TV" has moved on. It's become a huge industry in it's own right. But along the way it has lost something of itself and it's own innocence. And I'm sad that Oliver Postgate has died as he seemed to understand that innocence is the vital element of childhood and when we lose it we are no longer children. That when we lose the wonder of childhood, so often it is replaced by fear.

Oliver Postgate was a story-teller. He was a creator of magical worlds. And as he moves on out of this world, he takes a little bit of that magic with him. I never met him, but I feel like I know him, because I know his creations.

I'm glad he was willing to share them with me, and thousands of children like me.

Doing well thanks

One funny thing to come out of being ill was the email which asked "How's the virus?"

It's in a very healthy state, thanks. Me on the other hand...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Return to work (the aftermath)

Bit of a tiring day really, going back to work after just over two weeks off - with 8 days being sick leave. I had a clogged inbox to deal with, and a 'to do' list of mammoth proportions.

It's kind of funny that so many "urgent" emails sent to me two weeks ago don't seem so urgent now. Tomorrow I think I'll be phoning a few people asking 'do you still need this thing you were asking me for...?' With any luck the answer(s) will be 'No'.

I also got lots more praise for the panto and because we were having a 'goodbye' thing for our outgoing CEO this afternoon I got to see a few of my fellow panto stars on a social level, which was a bonus on an otherwise hard day. So far I think the only negative feedback any of us have had is that some of the characters were hard to see at the church shows because the stage isn't high enough. I guess in a way that's a positive - when people say they couldn't really see enough of what was going on.

And I got asked if I'd like to go on an Elvis-themed day trip on New Year's Day, which sounds intriguing. I guess the white jumpsuit outfit may see action again...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Road to recovery

In case people thought I'd abandoned my blogging - or died - the last two weeks I've been laid up with a very bad cold/cough. I actually had 10 days off work as a result. I was signed off right until my planned leave for the Glenwood panto, this week.

Being ill meant I missed a whole heap of things. Big thanks to Viv for filling in for me on the youth weekend away at such short notice.

Even now I've still got a bit of a cough. I seemed to spend most of my time onstage in the panto trying not to cough. For those who don't know, I was Elvis the Cowardly Lion in our own Cardiff-ised version of the Wizard of Oz. That meant I spent most of my time broiling in an all over fur suit, before changing into my Elvis garb, complete with massive quiff, for the final scene.

I lost so much water wearing my suit that for a couple of days I peed the darkest orange pee you ever did see. Thankfully now I'm rehydrated back to normal. Here are a couple of pictures, if you didn't get along to see me...


"Oh no I scared myself"

Elvis being menaced by Peggy Witchell (it's a long story) played by my fellow youth leader Emma D.