Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The only bad thing so far about deciding to piss off abroad travelling like a selfish swine is the fact that you feel the need to be a tiny bit more considerate to family members in the run up to the period in which you can pretty much forget all about them, and their birthdays.
Hence my visit north - not proper Piggy, Sniffy, Spennal or Garfer north, just north to the Midlands. I'm not sure if I'm north or south of MJ, I assume MJ is somewhere quite filthy and nicely rude judging by the blog.
Both my Mother and Sister (representing almost 50% of my entire family) live in a small, small, tiny, horrible, no-horse, can't even spell horse, or know what one looks like (does it look like a sheep?) town called Bromyard.
Here's a link to the wikipedia page which is both brief and uninspiring.
The bit about the Christmas lights is great, unlike the lights themselves which are okay at best. Lets face it, they are only of note because none of the surrounding towns can be arsed with lights; the main offender being Great Malvern, another small town, but of a much higher reputation which hosts a particularly shoddy display each year, honestly, it really is woeful.
Stuffed full of booze
Apparently there are 60 thousand pubs in the UK for around 60 million people, which roughly means that there is 1 pub for every thousand people. Bromyard has a population of around 4 thousand, but about 20 pubs. That pretty much sums the place up.
It was also the scene of the now infamous 2006 gollywog scandal, which even made national news. The general populace of Bromyard refused to bow down to 'Political correctness gone mad TM', and stood firm that the stuffed childrens doll in question which dipicits black people as generally having thick curly hair and big ruby red lips was absolutely nothing but a bit of fun and certainly not a highly offence throw back to a time of slaverly and general ignorance.
In Bromyard there is no throw back to ignorance, they live with it every day.
London is considered by the average Bromyardian as a place, 'I ain't ne'ver bun to, b'hut I knows it ain't all thart. I can gets to 'ereford on the buzz, so why bozza with Lun'un?'
Quiet and Safe
Saying that though, it is generally far safer than anywhere else I've been this year and much much quieter.
Places to visit when here
For the meat scoffer, Neil Gladwins the local butcher is fantastic; stacks of great cuts, terrific pies (the steak and kidney is particularly delicious) and the tastiest Lamb chops around for many a mile.
For the non-meat scoffer? Probably give Gladwins a miss.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Better still, just watching The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. Seriously, this man is a fucking genius, and he is one of the only 'celebrity' self helpers that doesn't talk absolute shite; this is probably why when Trey Parker and Matt Stone had an episode which featured Cesar they were unusually respectful of his techniques, and like everyone else that watches the show realised that his training methods would work perfectly on problem children (also known as 'children').
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It’s very tempting when writing about travel to give the impression that you are a worldly-wise right little know-it-all. This is the reason the majority of travel writing is so infuriatingly smug;
“As a seasoned traveller I was certain that the earthy and indigenous gentle folk of Clacton-on-Sea would welcome me into their midst as long as I got totally ratted on Friday night and tried to frisk up an over weight slapper…”
I am not the least bit worldly wise and consider myself to be fundamentally thick and/ or naïve when it comes to places other than Worcestershire and East Sussex (and I’m not much of an expert on East Sussex).
Despite all the information I have read I do still have a lot of odd/ ignorant/ ridiculous pre-conceived ideas about the places I am about to travel to. And despite telling everyone I knew that I was going without any expectations I actually had some crazy ideas about both Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, both of which proved to be entirely inaccurate.
Typically, I would keep these daft ideas to myself for fear of ridicule, however, that really wouldn’t be much fun would it?
So here they are:
(I may at a later date return to these ideas and compare them to my actual experiences thus proving what is already highly suspected, I am a nobber).
The freighter – I am a bit worried about getting held hostage by pirates
Malaysia – Nice, but junglely (not Roni Size)
Singapore – Very western and clean. No chewing gum.
Vietnam – Lots of paddy fields and a bit scary.
Cambodia – A bit depressing and scary.
Laos – Basic, bad toilet facilities, lots of mozzies.
Thailand – Touristy, like Blackpool but with more convincing transsexuals.
Philippines – Very scary.
Indonesia – Packed, like Oxford Street on xmas eve, less stabby though, I hope.
East Timor – Scary, war torn, people with arms off and stuff.
Papua New Guinea – Junglely.
Australia – Noice, noice, different, unusual.
New Zealand – Hobbitty.
Hmm… this really demonstrate what a total ignoramus I am.
Let’s hope travel does broaden the mind, at least a bit.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It’s shocking isn’t it, Art Fraud?
Hubristic people and institutions with too much money and desire to own envied art being scammed by unscrupulous blaggers, typically more talented and ingenious than those they scam.
Ripping off old geezers and regular twits like me is one thing, and extremely distasteful too, but when these bigwigs with stuffed wallets get taken for a ride it doesn’t seem so bad, in fact it’s often seen as oddly heroic.
I have no problem with art being copied, as long as the artist doesn’t lose out. If for example, Mr Spleenal was being ripped off and his work sold for a fortune to the Tate or some such bods I’d have a problem with it, as would Mr Spleenal no doubt. But generally Art Fraud is almost a victimless crime, with only these daft sods who place such ridiculous stock in artwork feeling hard done by. Typically the artist that’s being copied is dead/ and or the piece of art lost anyway so that doesn’t matter, and if those that are scammed never find out, then so what?
On the other had, I have an original piece by Spleenal so I’m very keen for him to get real famous so I can flog it to some nonce for a stack of dosh – actually I’ll flog a badly photocopied version to the nonce and keep the original just for myself.
And on the subject of great art...
This fab picture was emailed to me by edwaado - any guesses why this appeals?
Sadly, they do shoot the biker scouts if they break a leg; the winning dachshund gets a Dentafresh chew (most need 'em after a heavy pant).
Saturday, May 17, 2008
This is how it works. Everyone is forced to look after a random child for at least a couple of weeks a year.
Technically, no one will be allowed to own any more than 1/26th of a child – again a great way to prevent us hitting the 9 billion mark in 50 years time
Now don’t start jumping up and down about there being no way you’ll lend out your kids, or your indignation at having to look after someone else brats, just bear with me…
This could be good –
1. It will socialize the child early in life.
2. It will put a lot of potential parents off, slowing the impending population crisis.
3. After a couple of weeks with a screaming child, the remaining weeks of the year will seem so much more enjoyable.
4. No parent will ever again be able to say, ‘You’ve never had children so you can’t possible comment on how they should be raised.’
5. It’ll bring us together as a society.
6. The child will be passed around a real mix of socio-economic and religious backgrounds, thus grounding it and (hopefully) preventing pig ignorant views in the future.
I think we should at least give it a try, could be a laugh right? AND if you sign up now I’ll do my best to make sure you’re last on the list to get one.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Yes, but which one will make me look like a twat?
Spent the evening in the basement of a Thai Restaurant just off Trafalgar Square in the company of ‘Travel Indochina’, a tour operator who, for exorbitant fees, take lazy (mostly aging) bastards who can’t be arsed to organize their own trips round Asia – booking them into the best accommodation and generally making sure they don’t ‘rough it’ in any way whatsoever.
We initially had a slide show presentation on Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, which simply whetted the appetite even more for the impeding trip. After which we stuffed ourselves on the platter of absolutely yummy assorted Thai starters. The second half of the evening was dedicated to China.
We’ve not really planned to visit China, but seeing the presentation there are definitely a few parts of the country we’d like to go to, in particular the Silk Road, (east to west China) and Shanghai – which looks absolutely amazing.
The only reason we sat through the slide show was to get some additional ideas on places to check out and to see what accommodation they recommended – obviously it’ll be significantly cheaper to dead the tour operator and book everything directly.
We also got that ace free Thai nosh, which to be honest I’d have sat through a presentation on Eastbourne for.
The Travel Indochina bods proudly stated that the area of the Great Wall they would take you to would be far away from the tourists.
Far away from the tourists… wha wha hat? Aren’t we all bloody tourists?
I don’t know if it’s just Asia that elicits such travel snobbery but it seems to be rife. All the books I’ve read and all the websites I’ve visited constantly say ‘don’t go here, full of tourists – you really need to go to this unspoilt area’ – not unspoilt for long I think if you’re recommending to all and sundry. I guess this is why if you take a rucksack anywhere round the world you instantly have to refer to yourself as a backpacker and not ‘god forbid’ a tourist – imagine how dreadful that would be! You would be just the same as ‘those’ that haven’t tried to enjoy their ‘holiday’ as much as you have.
I understand that certain sections of the Great Wall now have McDonalds and Starbucks along with the usual array of postcard and tat peddlers which is ironic, as I was under the impression that the Wall was built to keep the barbarians out.
Hmm… perhaps I’m already a travel snob.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Captain America juice
I’ve just had the first round of vaccinations for my trip. The nurse at my conveniently placed local practice (literally 30 seconds from where I live) has given me an extensive list of potential hazardous illness I will need to be protected from if I’m to emerge at all from my hermetically sealed suit whilst in South East Asia.
This feels like the first real step to going traveling, before it was all talk, now I’m getting dosed up with drugs – yeah!
So, today I had Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio in one arm and one of three syringe full of Hepatitis B in the other, presumably both arms were used so that I don’t become unbalanced with all the extra fluid in each arm – not sure you can tell, but I’ve had no formal medical training.
I now have the following to look forward to over the next two months –
More Hepatitis B
Japanese B encephalitis (I asked for the British one but it wasn’t available)
Malaria (actually just tablets)
Yellow Fever (an absolute must and a pre-requisite for freighter travel through the Suez Canal)
And good old Rabies
Had a discussion with my Girlfriend, Loulou, who suggests that we give Rabies and Japanese B a miss on the basis that it would cost us to get the jabs despite the fact that we probably don’t need them and in the event of a bite from a rabid beastie (you’re okay-ish if you can get medical treatment within the first 24 hours of a mauling) the Rabies jab would only give us an additional 24 hrs to get help.
I had a think about it then I pointed out that we rarely if ever complain about the cost of stuff we routinely waste our money on, like over priced meals, ridiculous hotel rooms or indeed socks (more on socks another time), so to give the jabs a miss - these things that would potentially protect us from illness and death, due to the cost was a bit daft.
“Hmm…” was the reply.
It’s so rare that I’m this logical or rational, think maybe the DIP/TET/IPV + Hep B are having an effect already.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There was another reason I liked this movie...
Of course, Haneke’s films are as far from the type of zombie/ action/ comedy/ violence that Planet Terror represents as it is possible to get, and I’m obviously not comparing the two, but they are both movies and they are both designed to be in equal measures art and entertainment (although in both cases Haneke and Planet Terror director Robert Rodriguez miss balance the art/entertainment to varying degrees).
It is also interesting to note that the depiction of violence in Haneke’s movies is far more disturbing than anything Rodriguez has ever and will likely ever come up, him and Grindhouse mate Tarantino.
Here is a brief synopsis for each Haneke film I’ve seen –
Middle class man is (not really) terrorised by videotapes left at his home demonstrating that he is under some sort of surveillance – the purpose of which is never fully disclosed. Middle class man miss appropriates and blame and spirals into guilt ridden introspection.
Recently remade in the US with Naomi Watts – Middle class family is terrorised by two young politely spoken psychopaths who murder them one by one, child first. Very nasty and very uncomfortable viewing.
5 or 6 different story lines, only vaguely connected for a few minutes, progress throughout the running time of the film with little or no resolution.
Time of the Wolf
Middle class family flee an undisclosed potentially apocalyptic event, are initially terrorised (for the first five minutes) but slowly become part of an adhoc (although benevolent) community of refugees waiting for supplies and a train. Again, no resolution offered.
The Piano Teacher
Uptight middle-aged and middle class Piano Professor, lives with her mother and spends her days chastising her pupils and visiting peepshows where she views hardcore porn and sniffs the used tissues of the previous booth occupants. She also cuts her vagina (I think) with a razor blade and pisses on the ground next to a car in which a young couple is frisking about. She ends up having a torrid relationship with a youthful and eager to please student but freaks him out with her list (literally a list) of sado-masochistic demands.
This scene, not as erotic as it looks.
Hmm… I still have the Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance and I will have done his entire film oeuvre, more or less.
There are two important questions I am asking at this point –
- What is the point of his movies?
I think Haneke is trying to portray extraordinary events and people with as much attention to the ordinary as possible, hence no music, little in the way of close ups, long takes and no heightened sense of reality. This isn’t to say his films are either boring or un-cinematic, typically they are neither, with Funny Games and Time of the Wolf out standing as both great visual pieces and dramatic gut-wrenchers.
All of them end with no real conclusion or resolution for the characters (other than Funny Games in a twisted way) and their messages are somewhat oblique to say the least.
Funny Games is probably his most notable and well known, yet it is almost the most detestable simply because the message is clearer and than the rest and for that is much more shallow – the message being ‘Hollywood movies are unrealistic and your vapid desire to see violence and revenge driven satisfying conclusion to these films is pathetic’.
Definitely the best way to shut the kids up
- Why am I bothering to watch them?
I think partly because I have a bit of time on my hands with the run up to disappearing to SE Asia, I also have this ‘Lovefilm’ 3 month free rental thing and partly because I’m curious when it comes to movies – I’m just twisted right?
I’m like ‘The Piano Teacher’, except I’m not taking a razor blade to any part of my genitals, well not again, anyway, genital mutilation is so passé.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Just what have I done in the last 12 months that has kept me from writing anything longer than my address?
I sold my house (just before all the selling house issues started).
Drove a Ford Mustang from the west coast to the east coast of America including spending a week in Death Valley during the summer where the temperature was circa 50 degrees C (makes the weather this week seem mild).
Moved to lovely lovely Dog Poo, erm... I mean Brighton.
Went to Paris for a bit (très bien).
Went to the US again, this time to work in Pittsburgh (PA) for a bit.
Quit my job (about the 3rd time in 2 years).
Visited Dublin – was okay.
Got the worst flu ever at Christmas (the 4th or 5th time in recent memory that I’ve had flu at Christmas - no turk or stuffing for me).
Went to a bunch of gigs (including the Breeders – Pod, Trump - Pod).
Sat next to Gillian Anderson during a performance of Glengarry Glen Ross in London.
Stood next to Harold Pinter in the lobby of an Anthony Gormley exhibition (actually I stood, Pinter was sitting in his wheelchair, lazy bastard) - actually that's something I hadn't noticed before, where's my avatar thingy gone?
Went to South Africa for a bit (Cape Town lovely, Johannesburg a bit scary - stayed at a guesthouse in Johannesburg which had a smooth miniature dachshund running about.
Completed more videogames than a man of my age should have any right to do (not going to list them, frankly it would shameful).
Became a Pro at bowling, boxing AND tennis on Wii Sports.
Bought a MacBook – Yes, a MacBook.
Read a stack of J G Ballard - Crash, pure filth.
Visited Cambridge, Oxford, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Reading and others.
Spent a small fortune on hotels, am now a Malmaison expert.
Went to a lot of restaurants - the best was in Manchester.
Think that’s about it.
I’ll go into more detail on some of the places I been during the past 12 months later, obviously makes sense now that this is a *cough* travel blog.