26 December 2011

Put the needle back on the record…

As I sit here now as a pyjama clad thirty something it’s hard to imagine I was once considered cool. As ghastly a term as that is to describe yourself as at any level of maturity it was indeed true. At least it was to me at the time and I guess if you are going to consider yourself cool then that’s all that matters. What elevated my ego to bestow such a social status upon myself I hear you ask? Was it the clothes I wore? The people I socialised with? Or was it that Curtains style haircut complete with undercut and single gold hoop earring? Hell no, it was the music I chose to listen to, and ultimately play to crowds of likeminded individuals.

The year is 2000, I’ve a steady job and courtesy of living at home still (all the cool kids lived at home back then) few overheads. For years I’d been into dance music, mostly of the house and techno variety whilst most of my kick drum hating friends was into the Britpop scene. I’d record The Essential Selection every week, and catch as many Dj sets from the likes of Carl Cox and Jeremy Healy as my meagre cassette collection would allow. Finally I was in a position to buy my own set of decks and give mixing a try myself.

What followed were many hours of practice comprising galloping beats, clashing vocals and much swearing and frustration, all at high volume. Looking back my parents were quite laid back about the whole thing even though my dad insisted it was nothing more than “Boom Boom Boom” and not music of any sort.

I digress, I progressed from playing in my bedroom to myself and the cat, to bars and clubs dotted around the country and almost made it onto the professional scene. However the point of this article is that back then, the music I bought, practiced with and played to total strangers meant so so much to me. It defined who I was, where I wanted to go. It gave me confidence in myself, lifted my mood and the feeling you get of making a room “pop” with a killer record you love is just unstoppable. That was the greatest joy I had in my formative years, crafting  your set, reading the crowd and seeing them react to your song choices building and building until you drop a sonic bomb and the place goes crazy. They were good times indeed.

Do I miss it? Yes, but I’m no longer that man, indeed I was still really a boy as I’ve done a lot of growing up since I retired the 1’s and 2’s. My family and the choices I’ve made define me now. The only tinge of sadness I get is that the music that I once felt so deeply attached to, almost like it was a part of me has lost that connection we once shared. I guess that’s the ageing process, I wonder whether my daughter will follow in her dads’ footsteps or whether she’d be proud of her old dad for being an old skool vinyl dj. Probably not, I don’t look back at my great granddads gramophone and wonder if he rocked the fucking hut with it, but I bet he did.
Oh, and Underground will live forever baby!

22 December 2011

A (Far) cry for help!

My name is Dan and I'm a Steam-a-holic. Its been 17 hours and 23 minutes since my last purchase. (Stalker: Clear sky - well, i figured I needed the complete set and at £1.99 its a steal right?)

They say its gets easier after you stand up and admit you have a problem. I guess time will tell.

The thing is Steam are running a mammoth Christmas sale where everything is discounted, all 1409 games. I'm a video game junkie, and Steam is the pusher of digital heroin I cannot say no to.

I talk about Steam to my friends willing them into trying it, inevitably get hooked and become a desperate hoarder of virtual entertainment like I have become. I think about Steam constantly, counting the hours to the next 24 hour daily discounts waiting for my next fix. I talk about Steam to myself, persuading my guilty conscience that Lego Batman was a sensible investment as I'm bound to need to play a game based on a comic hero and plastic bricks at some point of my life, right?

Clearly I need some sort of help, and so as this festive season moves into full swing if any of you reading this feel touched enough by my plight to wish to land a helping hand, send me your contact details and I will pass you my pay pal information. Now whilst pay pal is my preferred method of payment for Steam, rest assured that your act of giving in my hour of need will be strength enough for me to (hurricane) kick this most intoxicating of habits. Possibly.

Merry Christmas.

9 November 2011

Asking for nothing but remembrance.

As time passes memories have a habit of losing their clarity. Once pristine images of occasions since passed seem cloudy and less defined. Ideas once exciting, bold and precisely outlined appear vague and as the years roll by it seems to become more and more of an effort to remember.

Some things should never be forgotten.

The 11th of November, Remembrance Day, a day dedicated to the memory of men and women who served their countries in the armed forces. A day to remember those that gave so much and asked for so little in return. A day to remember those who didn’t come home so that those they served alongside with could.

I write this now occasionally guilty in my own ignorance  for I know I have not given enough thought in my 32 years regarding this particular day. Whether it be fatherhood, my own blossoming maturity or the realisation that there are lives around me even now that are touched by the tragic loss of loved ones in the line of duty, others lost even after leaving Her Majesties armed forces, and more still left scarred by the horrors of modern warfare and enduring a lifetime of trying to forget. I am compelled to remember now, although words will never be enough.

Private Jim Weatherer  aged  23, A sheet metal worker before the outbreak of World War 2 served with the North Staffordshire regiment as a machine gunner.  He crossed the English channel as part of Operation Neptune (which was mobilised as part of Operation Overlord) and landed on Sword beach on June 6th 1944. The landing forces primary objective was to take the strategic stronghold of Caen. Having crossed the beach and scaled the French cliffs they met German resistance in the form of ground troops and the 21st Panzer division.

On August 2nd 1944 a telegram arrived at Joan Weatherers door informing her that sometime during the fighting her husband had being severely injured. The taking of Caen was taking a lot longer than the allied forces had at first thought and whilst taking heavy enemy fire a shell had exploded and blown a hole under Jims chin. Crawling away from the carnage and trying to avoid any further shelling he was then hit by a sniper in his left leg. Bleeding profusely he managed to roll into a ditch. After a time he heard a vehicle approaching his position. He’d seen his friend killed earlier that day and now he had a choice to make, does he lie in the ditch and bleed to death or does he try and attract their attention in the hope of finding aid? Knowing full well that if the passing vehicle was occupied by enemy forces he would be shot on the spot he raised an arm in an effort to be noticed . A Canadian infantry man appeared over the edge of the ditch.

The half track, part of the Pegasus Regiment stopped and hauled him aboard as the German shells continued to fall all around. Though the vehicle was hit and badly damaged they managed to get him to a field hospital where he was given immediate medical attention. His injuries sustained included a badly damaged arm and he would never be able to use it fully again and he spent the next twelve months recovering from his wounds in a hospital bed. For him the war was over.
                                                           Preparing to land on Sword Beach

He was one of the lucky ones, returning to a country fit for heroes, or so the politicians all said. Unable to return to his former profession and qualifying only for low level, low paid work he was granted a War Pensions Allowance to supplement his earnings. He got a job working in a local biscuit factory, and seeing as his employers provided him with a uniform  the War Pensions Department  declared he would not need an allowance that included clothing costs and reduced it accordingly. Every time his hard work earned him a raise, the War Pensions Allowance would diminish his payments. The country that he fought for, lost the use of his arm for and saw friends killed for was beginning to forget him. He was glad to be free of the system that seemed to  penalise him for making his own way in life, this after serving his country in its greatest hour of need, all because he earned a wage through honest hard work that they deemed no longer needed supplementing.
Whilst it is true that the media occasionally covers the efforts of our brave service men and women  in various hot spots around the world, it is all too easy to forget their daily endeavours as they slip further and further down the headlines in favour of the latest celebrity scandal.

Few ex-soldiers say they saw the things they witnessed, committed the acts they did for Queen and country, or for some political ideal that sounds great on paper in the warm halls of Parliament, but not so much in the arid deserts and mountains of somewhere like  Afghanistan. They say they fight for those around them, so that they may go back home to their families and loved ones. They say they fight for their brothers.

Jim Weatherers bravery that fateful day and the chance encounter with the Canadian infantry man that followed  means that approximately 37 people are alive today,  my father, myself and my daughter among them. It is an honour for me to share my Grandfathers  name in part.

                                     Dedicated to Private James Forrester Weatherer  (1920 – 1986)

22 October 2011

Its my party and I'll cry if I want to

 As a child birthdays were a monumental occasion, the anticipation for which began weeks, sometimes months before the big day as I would spend hours poring over the latest Argos catalogue picking the presents I’d like to mark the anniversary of my successful passing into existence. Admittedly most times I would not get the exact gift I’d asked for, but times were hard in the Weatherer household and we were grateful for whatever gift we received.

I remember only ever having one party, perhaps. It was tainted by the arrival of one such gift I defiantly did not ask for. Black, about 8 inches tall and loaded with batteries, that description alone is enough to chill most readers of this blog, but let me assure you that the makers insisted this particular model of Robo-Robbie  (I forget its actual name) was intended for ages 3+.

I swear to god that thing was possessed. All glowing eyes and loud abrasive noises, hell it even produced smoke somehow! Truly this was a toy ejected from hell by Satan himself, and it left an indelible mark on my psyche, and remains my only (tearful) memory of a childhood party that was my own.

Today I’ve hit the age of 32. Birthdays have lost that somewhat magical aura as the years have rolled by. Gifts get less exciting, but thankfully on the whole less menacing too. More significantly, birthdays remind me of my own mortality, each year hammering home the message a little bit harder that I am not immortal, and live is preciously short.

Depressing a thought though that maybe, I take a great deal of comfort knowing my little angel is my mark on the world, and that life so far although challenging in parts, has been a hell of a lot of fun.

I look forward to the next 32 years (plus) and all of the times I will share with my beautiful family. Getting old may not be all that bad after all.

14 October 2011

Moving the goalposts

Football, England's finest gift to the modern world has become a multi billion pound business with players, managers and agents alike commanding mega bucks in the name of kicking a spherical object into a big net. With the European championships nearing, and the Three Lions safely qualified, a wave of optimism should be sweeping the nation.

However all is not well, for one of the squads more enigmatic players went and got himself sent off in the last qualifier after aiming a petulant kick at an opposing player. Now while I will not use this entry as an exercise in character assassination, love him or loathe him, its better to have Wayne Rooney playing in his usual balls out style for you, rather than against you. Yes, the red card that followed the incident was pretty much a given. Playing under what one can guess as a certain amount of personal pressure regarding the exploits of certain members of his family and suspicious betting activity with his usual fiery temperament and desire to win, there was always the potential for fireworks. The kick was petulant, and deserved to be punished as such. The card wasn't disputed, he left the field with a fair amount of dignity, one could almost say he took his punishment like a man.

UEFA however see things a little differently. Despite the managers predictions of maybe missing his talismanic forward for one game, maybe two, despite referee Wolfgang Stark reporting how well Rooney accepted the decision, UEFA deemed the incident as "assault" and handed an automatic 3 match ban to the player. In layman's terms England's most dynamic and arguably best player will not be eligible to play again until the Quarter finals of the tournament. Sorry, If they make the quarter finals of the tournament.

England have 3 days to appeal the decision.

Now while I am not going to suggest any kind of conspiracy against the England team,I will be careful not to draw attention to the goal that never was against Germany in 2010, and definitely stay clear of the whole Mr Sepp "I will never give England anything ever whilst I still live and breath" Blatter and the Russian World cup bribe er sorry bid, I will present the following facts:

David Beckhams much vilified kick against Diego Simeone in 1998 received a one match ban

Goalkeeper Harold Schumachers flying hip challenge against Patrick Battiston, which knocked him unconscious and broke his jaw, was awarded a goal kick. No card.

There are plenty more examples like those above floating around on the net and in various footy fans memories, Our beloved sport is far from perfect, far from fair even, and gives spectators cause to moan and argue long after the last kick of the ball. As a football fan though, I don't think I'd love the sport as much as I do without all the controversy, bad decisions and drama that accompanies each. England will have to prepare for a tournament without Wayne Rooney, at least in the early stages, clearing the way for a potential new icon to lead us into a land of hope and (footballing) glory.

6 October 2011

I always wanted you to go into Space (man)

OK, so it seems the smartest man of the 20th century may have gotten it wrong. Don't fret it Al we all have the occasional bad day at the office, but what does this mean to the non white coat wearing masses?

Well, although when I proposed my theory orginally it was taken somewhat at face value. I will try and explain a little more than my canteen dwelling chums were willing to let.

The realisation that the speed of light is not by any means the speed limit of the universe opens up debate on the possibility of deep space exploration, inter dimensional and even time travel. Where once Einsteins theory stood shaking its headand wagging its finger in a stern "NO" motion, there remains only questions without any firm answers. The rules as we know it have crumbled and I believe we stand at the dawn of an exciting new age of discovery and enlightenment. And Aliens.

Yes I said it, and I shall elaborate further before you start thinking of me as the next David Ike. The most common argument against alien visitation to Earth before was based on the concept that nothing could travel faster than light, that the distance travelled by any alien race would be so insurmountable that it would not be possible in any given lifetime. If they existed, they were just to damn far away to pop by and say hello.

Well now the speed limit has become an unknown, technologies possessing speeds that make light speed look like Windows 98 trying to run two spreadsheets simultaneously could very well exist somewhere out there in the deep cosmos.

And what of mankind? Well, when Karl Benz invented the first car back in 1886, he didn't look at the London to Glasgow run and decide that 4.1 days was a respectable travelling time. No, he and many others strived to find ways to travel faster and faster. We are still at it today as car manufacturers try and out run the Bugatti Veyron with their latest creations.

This is precisely what will happen regarding this latest discovery. How? I know not, but what I do know is that the very essence of man demands looking for new ways of making shit blow up,fly higher or go faster. And its all in the name of getting laid.

God bless mankind.

3 October 2011

Do losers dream of Excel Spread sheets?

Do losers dream of Excel Spread sheets?

Dreams, the nightly retreat of the weary mind. So often used as an expression of one’s ultimate waking ambition and desires, yet in the majority of cases most appear nonsensical and downright weird. Journey with me as I explore the innermost workings of our daily biological back up process and realise that not all dreams are what we would happily call our ideal.

Now, before I begin I want to make it clear that I wish to take no credit for the recollection of the following dreams, as these were told across the break table the following morning by various work colleagues of mine.

Case study 1.

Subject A likes his women as much as the next man, (read that sentence how you will by the way) and was embarking on one of the favourite dreams of Heterosexual males everywhere;   Sleeping with a random bit of fluff.

Unless you are an oversexed hormone addled persistent chaser of the skirt or a Premiership footballer  frequent sex with random women is painfully rare, so a virtual bit of action while you sleep is something of a bonus. As you are not actually cheating on your partner, its also a bit like getting one in for free, or a win:win as I like call it. Indeed every male who has ever had one remembers them for years to come down to even the tiniest detail, Subject A is steadying himself for something of a nocturnal treat.

He finds himself stood in a nondescript hotel corridor, rooms’ line both walls as far as the eye can see. Subject A begins to walk , causally admiring the gold plated light fittings and numerous floral paintings that hang on the wall at regular intervals. The door to his right creaks open a little and a pair of blue eyes and a red lipstick coated mouth appear in the intervening gap:

“Hi there, I’m (enter Scandinavian name here as subject A was not paying attention to her name, but was marvelling at the short hotel issued towel and thanking the management for scrimping on the linen budget) and I’m here alone needing some male company, will you join me?”

Subject A is in the room like a shot. She wanders over to the sumptuous double bed, all white sheets, fluffy pillows and rose petals. Sitting on the bed, she slowly pours two glasses of champagne and makes the universal sign for let’s get right to it and pats the bed next to her.

Subject A can’t believe his luck, but suddenly feels the urge to freshen up and hastily locates the en suite. Noticing the shower, he decides it would be only proper he give himself a quick once over and then proceeds to spend the remainder of the dream soaping himself up with a huge yellow loafer.


Case Study 2.

Subject B is something of an IT marvel; he has a good head for figures and a welldeveloped business acumen. Only on this night, Subject B is Founder and owner of D.V.D.A. porn productions and business is very, very good.

Tonight’s shoot is to be the opening scene to the company’s latest big hitter U Ass Masters, the second in its alternative golf series of adult titles (the first of which , won several Woodys). The cameras are all in position, the models are oiled and de fluffed ,and shooting is set to begin.

Subject B suddenly realises the accounts for this month are a little disorganised and that they could do with some attention, after all a balanced book is a happy book. So off he trots spending the remainder of the dream analysing stock counts, ordering Baby Oil in bulk (it’s much cheaper by the gallon) and Googleing fine filter camera lenses.

Now I’m not alone thinking both of these dreams are something of a missed opportunity. Why would our unconscious mind place us into the most desired of situations, only to yank us away and occupy us with such menial task as the construction of pivot tables or the washing of ones balls? Or is our own existence so mundane and uneventful that our psyches cannot even begin to process what a fantasy may entail and makes a run towards some kind of psychological comfort blanket at the last second in order to  spare its blushes at its woefully inadequate attempt to tantalise? Have we forgotten how to unleash our inner creative selves in our most relaxed and free state, and ultimately how to dream?

If getting chased through my hometown by marauding GCSE exam papers wearing nothing but a soiled pair of y-fronts is dreaming, then I for one wish sometimes that I could forget…

21 September 2011

Powder puff of disgruntlement

Most of you know where I work, indeed many of you toil away beside me so will know what I'm talking about when I ask what kind of sad, misguided moron thinks sending an envelope full of talcum powder to a company is going to solve anything?

Lets say you have an issue with the service you have received, is grinding the company to a halt going to get your issues sorted any quicker? Does the amount of time wasted by the emergency services away from possibly real life or death situations by your selfish and foolhardy actions keep you warm at night? Does the financial drain this puts on the local authority fuel your misplaced sense of bravado? I know going to work and occasionally fearing for my safety makes me a much more efficient and diligent worker, why I'll sort your issue out immediately now you have got my attention with your act of incredible testicular fortitude.

Muppet, the police will be at your door in no time, and your bill will be just as high when you finally get out of nick.


18 September 2011

Don't call me four eyes

31 years of my life I lived in ignorance regarding the difficulties encountered daily by a large selection of the population. Last weekend I picked up my first ever pair of glasses. No big deal, I hear you say, and indeed at first it wasn't. My sight had improved no end simply by attaching a pair of lenses to my face with a metal frame. I could see the leaves on the trees, the birds in the sky and the creases on the faces of the Longton Saturday morning shoppers. Glorious doesn't quite cover it.

However, as the hours turned into days, all was not as simple as it at first seemed. The glasses move about during the day, sliding down my nose which leaves me at times looking like an oversexed I.T student as the glasses have a habit of sitting across my nose slightly wonky. So, I'm constantly aware of the exact angle my glasses are perched just in case I come across as looking a little simple to people who are talking to me face to face.I guess the paranoia has already crept in.

Who knew that the bridge of your nose could sweat? Glasses wearers that's who. It seems a small piece of metal is enough of a stimulant to your noses pleasure/stress nerve endings to get them all hot and bothered. It feels as good as it sounds.My dreams are also conveniently viewed through lense-less frames now.

Then there is the image concerns. Those that know me wouldn't exactly call me a sharp dresser, but as long as my flesh is covered I don't tend to bother to much what I wear. Glasses are meant to make you look smarter, but what if you are already smart pre-specs? Does your perceived IQ get a slight increase when perceived by others? If not why the hell not? Don't I deserve that little extra imagined IQ even if secretly I'm too busy pondering my sweaty nose and making sure my glasses sit correctly with a spirit level? No, probably not.

While it is taking time for me to get used to my glasses, It is interesting to see the response I have had from people since I began to wear them. People I know generally seem to think they suit, people I have just met say they cannot imagine me without them, which I really found odd, but I guess first impressions of people we meet count for a lot, think of all the people you know who wear specs, they didn't always but that's the only way you know them. I dare not even contemplate going to a theme park and tackling whatever glasses etiquette applies there, (Nemesis, now glasses on or off???) can anyone tel me if theres some kind of handbook for instances when glasses are appropriate or not? For example is the ultimate mood killer "hold on duck, let me just put me glasses away, I dunno wanna get em all steamed up"? I think it may well be.

So, i apologise for living 31 years and not acknowledging the difficulties faced by specs offenders everywhere, I hope this blog entry goes someway to building bridges between us, and eventually I will accepted as one of you. Sweaty nose and all.

17 September 2011

Online gaming for Wusses link

Its here large and in charge!



Online gaming...for Wusses

Online gaming for Wusses

  First person shooters

Bruce Lee, William Wallace, and the army of Spartans that the movies 300 is based on would make excellent online gamers, able to look an impending beating right in the eye before handing one out tenfold themselves. As we are still some way short of overcoming the moral and ethical dilemmas that prevent the Battle Royale type weekly television show that most of us crave, online gaming is the place to flex your virtual guns and show the world just how badass one finance manager from Woking really can be. Gentlemen, welcome to the arena.

First up, in order to strike fear into your opponents’ hearts before the game has even begun, the aspiring broadband battler needs a suitably brutal gamer tag. JoHnNy5izAlive, SnuGGlez69, and Mr_Pacifist are out a complete non-starter. A good gamer tag needs to slap the eyeballs of your competition  and make them sit up and question why their ass is suddenly twitching, not ponder whether you like fluffy ickle kittens playing with woollen balls or rainy days under the duvet  in front of Dawsons Creek the most. Tags such as P'wnan _the_Barbarian, I_do_UR_MUM_daily and Mr_PaciFIST are a good start (feel free to use these if still available).

In the words of Rage against the Machine (which incidentally you should play at full volume during every online play session)” know your enemy”. The majority of game lobbies seem to be populated by loud, abrasive American teens, they come in two flavours. One is long in shrill nasal annoying voices, short on gaming skills, the other likes to thrust upon the lobby his poor taste in Hip Hop and Rnb in the futile attempt to prove how gangsta he is. Easy to pick off in large numbers due to their short attention spans and lack of testicular fortitude,  not quite a satisfying enough kill  for a gamer of your elite status yet just the appetiser needed before we move on to the prize kills further up the online gaming food chain.

Next up is your casual gamer. It is a fool who thinks this gamer is easy pickings, as casual gamers usually stay off the mike and don’t draw attention to themselves. They usually work alone, picking off strays in game to rack up the kills, but having the foundations of a basic game plan. The casual gamer’s one weakness is that once their game plan is sussed by an opposing player (i.e. you) they become predictable, and yet another easy kill to add to your ever growing tally. Good knowledge of the map layouts/game scoring mechanics and game physics will help you dominate this class of player until they inevitably rage quit and run to mommy.

In game stats/rankings etc. should not always be used to assess a players actual skills. As in real battle, being a bit of a sneaky bastard can not only save your own skin, but can also be an effective technique to help rack up the kills. There is a type of gamer who will enter the lobby as a very low rank, and to all intents and purposes screams “I’m a noob, please shoot me repeatedly as I look at the floor and continuously walk into walls”. However when the game begins, I_c_ded_people74 becomes some kind of whirling dervish of automatic gun fire and wanton carnage. When the dust settles and all is said and done, he’ll find himself sat atop of the scoreboard, and although the jig is well and truly up, the damage has been done and he exits the lobby sharply looking for fresh meat to fool. While I applaud this type of cyber subterfuge, there is really no other way to guard against this type of foe other than to regard every player you meet as a potential John Rambo.

This brings us on to the clan player, and the toughest foe of all to best, but we didn’t come this far to brick it now and that shiny new gamer tag you are just breaking in needs a bit of experienced blood spilt over it. Clan players like to think they are the elite. If they made a film about online gamers, these would be the tossers who high five each other after each kill, shower together and ultimately get taken apart by the ballsy up and comer whom they beat savagely somewhere in act 1. There real strength lies in numbers, as clan players’ work together in game to effectively control the match. They alternate game plans switching from a map mop up technique to all outs stand-off dictating the flow of the round. The key is to try and isolate a clan member and take him out, several times if necessary. This should have a similar result that punching a hornets nest usually has, as the clan will abandon their current game plan and more than likely come after you either individually or collectively. Now the playing field becomes slightly more even and using the skills honed from reading this article and plenty of in game practice, clan players should be as just as easy to pick off as the rest of the player types discussed.

An honourable mention must go to a friend of mine Sir_Rinse_A_Lot (psn) whom has developed a technique that not only generates him a shed load of kills, but an inbox full of hate mail. If an opposing player kills him, he will mercilessly hunting down said player and melee kill him whenever possible, over and over again until the game ends or they end up quitting and having a good cry. Not only does this technique ensure a steady flow of kills, but the effect of psychologically dominating your opponent and the satisfaction that it brings make it an extremely effective technique battle technique.  Sir_Rinse_a_Lot, we salute you.

So, are you ready to graduate from noob 101 and kick it up a notch, are you ready to go toe to toe with the modern day equivalent of Rome’s gladiators? Fire up your console/PC and look me up… I’m the p’wn collector (Steam) and don_vennuchi (psn) I’ll be the one standing atop of a pile of smoking corpses bringing the noise.

2 September 2011

Decisions maketh the man

Last week I made one of those decisions that although was not the most significant a man can make, will have long lasting consequences. Possibly for the rest of my working life.
I had a good job, in a prospering company which would lead to new and better opportunities for myself, and my family. Yet I decided to leave it, and go back to work for my old employer. The money is worse, opportunity developments are few and far between and the freedoms and status I had in my present job will soon be replaced with tedium and routine.

So why did I make the decision? The simple truth is I hardly see my little girl, and the little time I spent with her was spent with my head still in the job. My daughter deserves better from me than that, and indeed it is my inability to switch the pressures of the job off in my mind and spend what little time we had together as daddy and daughter.

The financial implications weigh heaviest on my mind. Questions such as am I short changing my daughters future by turning my back on a a well paid job? Will I be able to provide her with all the things she needs, all the things she likes? Will she be proud of me when shes older if I'm still an administrator, and all the non importance that entails?

I know deep down that money, status, respect etc, it doesn't mean a thing if you are all of those things and alone, or emotionally detached from those around you. My daughter needs her dad to be happy, she needs him to be around when shes taking her first steps, or speaking her first words, not with his head in a spreadsheet.

Many of you will probably think I'm mad to make the choice I made, and it was by no means an easy decision to make. However, I know I choose right every time I see her smile, and I look forward to seeing that smile a whole lot more.

24 August 2011

It was bound to happen...

Someone out there in netland has recognised my obvious talent for the written word and given me a weekly column in which to shoot my virtual mouth off. Or maybe they are desperate for filler. Either way i hope you'll join me at fightapathyordont.com whenever possible, I really gonna need those clicks people!

I'll keep the blog going, I'm sure it will provide the fertile ground to nurture various ideas into article form, I just hope I manage to entertain at least one of you every now and again. I'd take thats as a win.

11 August 2011

Alton Towers: Better in the good old days?

I'm willing to guess the most common answer being yelled at the screen right now is "NO, OF COURSE NOT YOU MISGUIDED FOOL, WHAT WITH THE VERTICAL DROPS, 0 TO 62 MPH IN 2.2 SECONDS AND THE FREAKIN TRACK BREAKING FROM UNDER YOU...WITCHCRAFT I TELL YOU ) or something along those lines...

However some of Alton Towers greatest ever rides are no longer at the park, or even exist anymore!. Journey with me if you will to a time when Henry Hound called the ever derelict Towers his kennel, entrance fees were still affordable without needing to re mortgage, and health and safety wasn't the over-bearing parent figure it is today.

The closest many of us could get to aristocracy in the 80's.

Thunderlooper (1990-1996)

Lets start with the big one. The most fondly remembered of all who rode her, the basic formula of "go real fast from a standstill into a big loop, then back again" was a sure fire winner, especially in the wet when the speed of the ride was vastly increased. RITA may claim to be the queen of speed, but back in the day this gravity powered coaster launched from 0-60 in about the same time. It was a sad day when they dismantled the coaster allegedly due to the height of the ride (Alton Towers is governed by strict guidelines stating all rides must be obscured by the naturally surrounding trees) and the daily score of terror sung out by its many brave riders. Take a ride below if you reckon you've got the minerals...

Fear on steel rails. And then again. Backwards.

                             The Mississippi Showboat (1985-1991)

Health and Safety would have a field day with this. Billed as a "Fun house" (fun if you like getting your ankle mangled 3 times over before you find the exit) it was a walk through attraction that included moving plank floors, rotating floors and trying to kill you floors. All of this had to be contended with in the dark, and with a brass band fanfareing every trip to the park First Aid department.

Mississippi Deathtrap in all her "I wont really claim your foot as my own" glory 

                                  The Alton Mouse  (1988-1991)

Fairly common around the country Alton Towers version was no different. Spinal trauma, whiplash and a fear of tightly knit tracks, cheaply knocked together roller coasters were all to be expected.

Although actors, the fear in their eyes that they might exit the track on the next corner is very real.

Doom and Sons (1981-1992)

A personal favourite of mine, this makes the latest incarnation of the classic ghost house (Duel) look like a pixie picnic. In Wonderland. With the cast of "in the night garden". With a free bar and no hangovers. It. Was. that. Brutal. Another walk through attraction (though many ran) it scared the bejesus out of countless visitors until it was removed (possibly via exorcism) in 1992.

                 This was brown trouser time to an 8 year old Don Venucchi.

                             Around the World in 80 days (1981-1993)

The best geography lesson I ever had. You traversed the globe in your boat, meeting every racial stereo type imaginable all in the time it takes to boil an egg (or to tweet your shock at seeing racial slurs as a major theme park attraction LOL). Possibly removed to avoid the lawsuits that were looming menacingly on the 90's horizon.

                                        Such naive times the 80's...

                                        Alton Beast (1988-1997)

One time the steepest drop in Britain. It hit you with 4G in the first corner (as does Nemesis) oh and at the time I was riding it (towards the end of its days) there were no seat belts. Yep, I'm that hardcore.

                                            Where I got "Core"

                                     The Blackhole (1984-2005)

Another personal favourite with myself and the many others and not just because it was how they got their first awkward fumble with a girl whilst queuing in the dark, the "Blackhole" was a simply awesome experience. Sometimes lit, sometimes ridden in pitch black and sometimes ridden where you seemingly follow nought but a red line (my favourite) you careered around a similar track layout as the Beast, but indoors (where science somehow increases the illusion of top speed). I said similar though, as its a common misconception the the "Blackhole" and the "Beast" are the same ride. This is untrue they are indeed very similar as they were made by the same company (Schwarzkopf - not the hair product company, though that would be awesome!)but the "Blackhole" was the older, somewhat smaller of the two rides. Still it kicked huge amounts of ass and is sadly missed. The tent holding the old ride remains, possibly in homage to a true coaster legend.

                                I can feel the tears welling up...sob...

                                   The Corkscrew (1980-2008)

The original money maker, at the time Alton Towers killer ride and Europe's only double helix looping coaster. Fondly remembered by cosater aficionados as being "a bit rough", never the less the ride buttered the bread of the Towers for many years and helped shape the park the way it is today. The Famed double helix is proudly displayed at the main entrance to the park, a reminder of a fallen patriarch to all who visit today.

                      Pictured: many peoples first ever roller coaster ride

Granted I haven't covered all of the past greats, 1001 nights, the energizer, gravitron and the Swan boat ride are all in the heart, but alas did not make the final cut. So, Is Alton Towers better now than it ever has been? I'm not so sure, a mix of past and present rides would for me, make it the ultimate theme park. Doesn't hurt that its local either eh?


10 August 2011

Kaiser Chiefs do you feel smug now???

Ok, my first ever blog was never intended to be angry, but watching the hoodlums tear apart some of our finest cities for the latest FILA shellsuit or L A Gear lace tie really angered up my sense of community (which until this time I never knew I even had).

The media made a bit of a boo boo calling these morons rioters in the first place. What are they rioting against? The waiting list for the Jeremy Kyle show a tad too long? Not enough parks to vandalise? Happy slapping finally got boring for you mugs?

                       You know, I swear I recognise one of th....Sanders, you evil grining bastard!

I'm not an avid Daily Mail reader but hell, I'm going to ask it anyway...where are the parents in all of this? While little Jonny cotton socks is supposedly volunteering at the local OAP care home or studying a cure for cancer with his bessie "Spudder", how come he comes in at One in the morning with a load of Diesel  Tshirts stuffed into his trackie bottoms?

I for one want the Police to start cracking some skulls, and i applaud all who have stood to protect their local neighbourhood from this rampaging dickwads. Listen up, you ain't impressing no-one...the decent tax paying folk of this country are angry, not frowning disappointingly angry, but-tear-your -head-off-for-smashing-up-M&S-where-the-hell-am-I-going-to-shop-now angry.

Nobodies in your corner. All the "we get a hard time cuz we are young"campaigning you see on TV when it seems the youth of today get an unfairly hard time...well that's gone to shit.

usually when violent mobs roam the streets looting and burning property to the ground, its pretty much the start of a massive collapse in society. Not this time. This has brought communities together in a way I've not seen before in this country. If any good can come of this, its that simple fact.