Saturday, July 31, 2004

The boundaries of bad taste and decency

Took the boy to the cinema last night. Got there to find my daughter Gemma, sitting on the grass outside with boyfriend. She was wondering how to get home as Matt (the boyfriend) only had one crash helmet for his motor bike. I said I'd take her home but only after the Jamie and I had seen the film so she might as well come with us and see it too. Stepford wives. Yes it was funny but not brilliant. Gemma was wearing this short blue dress and high heeled shoes. She is going to disown me if I tell you this, but she is not used to high heeled shoes and was tottering around. I couldn't help laughing. You see my Gemma is more a jeans, sweat shirt and training shoes type of girl. So to see her in a dress is unual. She was pleased because she almost made a car crash, the driver was paying more attention to her than the road as he drove past. Another couple of guys whistled and shouted at her. She said "I think I'd better wear this dress more often. I'm getting loads of attention."

After taking the kids home I went on to Dels. He was throwing a little soirée for the band in his back garden. He took great delight in playing a new song he'd found by a band call AC Dixy a country and western group that played heavy metal in a blue grass style. OK it sounds bizarre. But it works OK! One of the tracks was "Keeping your poop in a jar." It's a song about this guy who's girlfriend dumped him, and all that he had left to remind himself of her was a jar of ........ well you know the rest. Del said "We've got to do this one on stage." Stunned silence. "Come on it'll be great."

We already push the boundaries of bad taste and decency when we play Kevin Bloody Wilson songs on stage. "Do you fuck on first date?" and "Don't touch you sister she's mine." and "It was over before it began." But I might draw the line at "Keeping your poop in a Jar".

Tonight we play the Wheatsheaf for the charity family fun day and tomorrow we do the music festival in Folkesworth. So busy busy busy.

Here's a bit of useless information for you. If something happens only once in a blue moon then today is that day. Today is the blue moon day. Not because the moon is blue but because we have a full moon twice in one calendar month. The next time it happens will be in 2007.

My boy Jamie has a new organ. It's enormous. It's the biggest one I've ever seen. He's very pleased with it as you can imagine, and plays with it all the time. He used to have a smaller one which was OK, but this new one is amazing. His mother has a friend who collects organs of a particular type and in conversation discovered that Jamies old organ was a missing piece of his collection. He had to have it, so he did a trade. Jamies old organ for this new huge organ. It's like a wurlitzer organ with hundreds of buttons and knobs and dials, two keyboards and fills the entire sitting room.

Just had a mother with a little girl come in. The little girl who was about 4 years old said "Guess where we're going next?" I couldn't guess. "We're going to buy a new cat and a new dog and a new baby."

"Where do you buy babies?" I asked

"At the borning house of course, that's where daddies new girl friend is. She's choosing one right now. It must be hard to choose your new baby because you have to lie down in beds afterwards. It better to choose a new puppy or kitten even I don't get tired after that."

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

I received an Email tonight from a very old friend.  I don't mean he's very old, but that I've known him a long time. He gave me a brief synopsis of his life since last time we talked.
Fell in love with another woman, marriage in crisis, other woman dumped him, now other woman is best friends with wife.  How complex can that be?
My very old friend and I knew each other at school. We formed what we called the Athiest prayer group. It was a bit of a piss take of the Christians amongst us who were so devout, so intense, that they had to be brought down a peg or two.  The holier than thou brigade. The guys who said "We are Christians in a Christian school so we are better than you." Bollocks!!!!!!
One day in my shop a woman came in to pick up her vacuum cleaner that we'd repaired. She was a devout Christian. She went to church every Sunday and was a member of the church council. As she took out her credit card I saw a Donor card. I innocently  said "OH you've got a donor card. I've got one too."
"Yes but I have a rider on mine."
"What's that?" I ask in all innocence.
"It's to make sure that if I die that my organs are not given to any muslims or anyone who isn't Christian."
"That's not very Christian." I said laughing. But she was serious, and she launched into a tirade of abuse about those damned heathens. I've got to tell you I was shocked.
You may have already guessed that I don't give a shit about religion, any religion. But if I die I don't give a tinkers cuss who gets my body parts. If someone can benefit from my untimely death then it's got to be a good thing. My attitude to this customer, a white british female, took a dive. I was ashamed to be part of her world.
OK I don't believe in God or such like. But I do believe that what goes round comes round.  if you are bad then bad things come to you. If you are good then good things come to you. If you smile to someone and make them happy then they will smile at the next person and make them happy in turn and so it goes on until it gets back to you.
I have noticed that there are some days in the shop when almost everyone who comes in is in a bad mood. I've often wondered if that isn't something to do with atmospheric pressure. Or something that can be quantified. I've yet to figure it out. This is the scientist in me. I am a trained, but lapsed, scientist. A degree in Biology doesn't get you anywhere.  I'd love to finish on a funny note. But I don't feel funny right now.  Writing about this has made me want to just shut the fuck up and go to bed.

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When suicides go wrong!

I've just read in the Peterborough Evening telegraph this very interesting headline:

Man dies trying to kill himself 
 
I laughed when I read it. It seems a bizarre headline to have. But when you read the story it makes sense.  The victim suffered a heart attack whilst preparing to hang himself.   It wasn't suicide at all but death from natural causes.  Perhaps God didn't want his wife to miss out on the insurance claim. He had the flex round his neck, but hadn't managed to tie it off, before his heart failed.
Pete the grave digger was back today, waiting for Mrs Dakin.  He'd got it all lovely. The mound of red earth dug from the grave, was covered in a sheet of fake grass.  The sides of the grave were all boarded up with sheets of plywood. This gave the effect of the coffin going down like a lift, instead of going down into the ground. No creepy crawlies to be seen,  no tree roots poking out the sides to spoil the harmony. It was all sterile and clinical.  The mourners arrived in their black suits led by the vicar in his white cassock. The vicar said a few words and held out a little shovel of symbolic earth for the mourners to throw onto the coffin. Two minutes later they were gone. Off to the wake to down a few sherries.  This left Peter to shake off the mud from his fake grass. take out the boards, and start filling in. A small wooden cross was placed at the head of the grave, pending the arrival of the headstone. There was no wailing and gnashing of teeth, the mourners didn't beat their chests and throw themselves prostrate into the mud. It was all very civilised and sombre. Typically British. "Bloody good innings!"
It's all very different abroad. A friend of mines sister went to India on holiday. She went down with dysentry and died very quickly of dehydration.  My friends family were informed that their daughter was dead. By the time they had jumped on the next plane and got to india, all that was left was a pile of ashes.  In that heat there was no time for a post mortem as they had no refrigeration facility, so they did what was the custom; get rid of the body fast.
The most difficult thing for the family to comprehend  was that their daughter, who was a perfectly fit young lady, got ill, died, and was cremated all in the space of three days.
All this talk about death is getting me down so I'd better tell you a funny story. This same friend of mine was walking past my shop and she stopped to say "hello." Her name is Pervinda, as you may guess from her name she is a seikh.  We were chatting in the street and this guy said to Pervinda, "It's alright for you you must be used to this heat."
"Huh?"
"You know. Coming from where you come from.  This heat would be nothing to you."
"What Luton?"
"Aren't you from India?"
"No!" she said "I've never been to India I was born in Luton, been here all my life."
And finally a quote from the Peterborough evening telegraph of last week. Following disturbances at the weekends Anand Mela between Pakistanis and Kurds A pakistani was quoted to have said "These Kurds, they come over here taking our jobs, taking over our neighbourhood, why don't they go back to their own country?"  It's almost as funny as when, in a small town just outside Glasgow, I met an Indian shop keeper, who addressed me in the following fashion "A'right Jimmy." I was somewhat taken aback and when I thanked him for supplying a certain brand of coffee, he replied "Nae bother!" 

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Mike Da Hats Art Appreciation Masterclass

A local publican came to the shop today to see me.
"Hey Mike do you want to come to a barbecue I'm having.  I'm holding it on the roof of the pub and I'm inviting a select group of friends, so what are you doing on the 14th August.  You can bring your other half. Oh yes Del and Tony and there wives are invited too. Bring your guitars we'll have a bit of music a laugh and some good grub."
"So you want my band to come to your barbecue?"
"Yeah as mates, you know."
Cheeky sod! What he wants is for us to play for nothing all night and entertain his friends for him.
Anyway I had a look at our on-line diary and found...........
"Sorry mate we're playing  at The Swiss Cottage that night.  I'd have loved to have come."
Which is actually true. I really would have loved to play at his barbecue, even for nothing. But I know Tony and Del would not be so enthusiastic, for different reasons. Tony because he is a self confessed mercenary and Del because he is hard up for cash and would prefer to work for a wage rather than a beef burger.
That's not to say we don't ever play for nothing. We often do. I've lost count of the charity events we've played at. But even that isn't totally altruistic because doing favours for people has got us a fair bit of lucrative work.  This weekends music festival for one. We played for nothing as a favour one day and so now it's payback time the organiser is charging £5 a head entrance and ticket sales have been very good so we're going to get a generous pay off this time.  Especially as we're the headline act.

Just had a call from a musician friend  of mine who is a drummer. But he also plays keyboard.  He's converting some of his house into a recording studio.  His partner is a nationally famous clairvoyant working all round the country playing town halls and the like giving demonstrations of her uncanny powers.  He's going to be producing CD's of mood music and meditation music for her.  Needless to say I offered my services.  But somehow a chunky mandolin sound wont really work when someone is trying out self hypnosis.  Maybe we could fit in the gentle guitar stylings of Mike Da Hat.  GOD! Don't you just hate that phrase/ word "stylings".  I first came across it when I was going to art galleries working for Martine Cotten my french Artist friend.  Some French dude had a poster proclaining "the Artistic stylings of Jean Lagadec." But I suppose it's marginally better than having a  poster saying "come and look at these pix what I jus' done."
Another artist friend of mine David Holmes, God! I hope he doesn't read this, painted abstract pictures. I'd be walking past his gaff and he'd call me in. "Come and have a look in the studio Mike."
I'd go in and there'd be a load of canvasses all over the place on easels, leaning against the walls, on the floor and stacked in piles. To tease him I usually asked which were the ones that were finished.  I never could make head or tail of any of them. One I remember well was a four foot by three canvas mounted vertically on which was painted three circles two blue and one yellow and then a huge rectangle of brown.  I asked what it was supposed to be. "Isn't it obvious?"
"No not really."
"Well it's a birds eye view of a beach near St Ives in Cornwall. That blue circle represents the sky that one the sea and the yellow is the beach. Now do you see it?"
"I guess so the big brown rectangle is the cliffs?"
"Exactly I'll make an art lover of you yet."
I don't think I ever actually told him they were rubbish. But the scary thing is he actually sold this stuff and made quite a good living at it. So someone must have liked it.  Although I go by "The Emperors clothes" theory on art. If you're told often enough that something is good you'll end up believing it. Although personally I usually end up taking the part of the stupid boy in that story.  I don't care how often I'm told something is good if it's crap it stays crap in my eyes.  Here endeth Mike Da Hats master class on art appreciation

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

It takes a thief to catch a thief

Seems Mrs Dakin is going to be late.  She isn't arriving til Thursday.   So Pete the grave digger has had to temporarily board up the grave and put concrete slabs over the hole. I shall be leaning out my window tonight watching for  grave robbers and body snatchers.

Cambs constabulary has got this great system where they E-mail a load of people on their network about what's going on. Today it worked. I heard the "You've got mail" message on the PC. Had a look and it was a news flash from crime central. A car had been stolen just two minutes ago. We all got a description and told to look out for car.
Half an hour later "you've got mail" another message thanking everybody for their help and with everyones co-operation the bad boy was caught in possession of £80 worth of stolen meat from a  supermarket and with the car. The boy was in custody pending further investigations.

The scruffy undercover man from todays earlier posting is in fact a friend of the flower girl next door.  She told me he would have been  the least likely person to end up in the police force.  A bit of a rogue in his youth. She's known him and drank with him on many occassions.  I said it takes a rogue to catch a rogue.

Smashy has arrived we're going ot have another go at this recording studio software.

Ciaou bambinos

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Paranoia and the bad boys

Comment from customer just now regarding Hawaian shirt.
"Could you speak up a bit sonny, your shirt is a bit loud."
PC Jamie was outside earlier arresting some young yobbo who  looked sullen and surly, a bit of a curl to the lips and had the sneer.  But PC Jamie isn't one to be messed with. The yob could sneer as much as he liked, but a few minutes against the wall surrounding our car park,  sort of calmed him down a tad.  They all start off with a bit of fight in them, y'know the old total lack of respect and total disdain for the law. Then after a few minutes of been questioned in the street. Or in this case in my car park, with everybody crowding round to watch the collar, they start to look a bit sheepish and start shuffling their feet and being uncomfortable. They kick at little stones on the ground. And stand their staring intently at something on the ground while PC Jamie is on his two way checking name and address details and form.
Eventually the van turns up and the yob is put inside and made to wait some more.
When the van had gone PC Jamie came up to me.
"What's he done?" I ask.
"You know I can't tell you that." says PC Jamie
"Tell me what?"
"Tell you that he was caught shop lifting in Boots."
"You didn't."
"That's right.  So don't ask me again."
"And he made it all the way here."
"Oh he was followed by my colleague over there." he points to a tramp like figure with a baseball cap leaning on a wall across the road.
"No! I thought you were going to arrest him as well."
"No he's undercover that's why he looks like shit. Mind you there's room in the van for one more. It must be illegal to go out wearing a shirt like that. If I check my regs I think we can have you on being a public nuisance and  being a menace on a public highway." he laughed and wandered off. To chase more bad guys presumably.

Meanwhile Mr Dakin has been exposed to the world for the first time since 1988, well his coffin has anyway. Solid oak.  Quality stuff. Still looks good as new.  He's just waiting for Mrs Dakin now, she's late, and they can't leave him exposed all night. There's no telling what the crazy people will do. We have enough of them around here.
We have Wurzel for instance. He is delusional, completely convinced that THEY are out to get him. Unfortunately he's never put his finger on exactly who THEY are.  Anjim at the  corner shop habitually tells him that he's being watched and certain people have been asking about him. Thus adding fuel to his already rampant paranoia.  Late at night he can be seen in the street sometimes dressed in a long ladies evening gown and sometimes in pyjamas but always with a baseball cap on. Occassionally he can be seen hugging lamp posts and rubbing his body up and down it.  The explanation is that he is getting energy from the lamp post through the friction of his body.  Much in the way  you can impart static electricity into a balloon by rubbing it on your pullover.  Well that's what he says anyway he's revitalising his inner electricity by tapping into the council mains supply for free.

Better do some work I guess.  More later

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Digging up Mr Dakin

Here's todays exciting news.  Pete the grave digger is in the graveyard opposite, digging up Mr Dakin. Apparently they're making room for Mrs Dakin.  According to Pete, the records show that Mr Dakin is only three foot under, so they have to raise him from his slumbers, and dig another three foot deeper, so he'll then be six foot under. Mrs Dakin can then take her proper place in death, as in life, on top.

In an effort to celebrate what we laughingly call summer this year, in my shop I am sporting that lovely, but very loud hawaian shirt. It's blue and white with red bits on it. I've already drawn a few comments from passers by as I unlocked our boutique.  Good job I don't work for John Lewis, I'd be sent home.  Actually I'd have been sacked years ago. My ex loves to point out to me that "You're not all there are you Mikel? You should think seriously about getting some proffessional help." Yeah right!

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Dog water

I've got to tell you this. It wasn't a wind up. There really is in the US of A a company that bottles dog water. It's called the K9 water comany. They have four flavours.  Beef, Chicken, Liver and .... shit I can't remember the 4Th.  It's fortified with vitamins essential for your dogs well being.  The 4 flavours are called puddle water, gutter water, hose water and .... shit! I can't remember the 4th.  I tried to download the pictures from their website for you but it didn't work. Oh well you'd better look for yourself if you don't believe me.

 I never made it to my mates gig at The Cock Inn. My lift was working late that night and I never drink and drive.  So sorry guys. My licence is worth more than my support. I ended up seeing locally, walking distance, The Untamed.  "Prepare yourself for stadium rock" was their catch  phrase.  Well in this small  pub they had a stack of speakers eight foot high by four foot wide each side of the stage and the same again back of the stage. A bit of over kill I thought. The lead singer was tiny about four foot nothing in his stockinged feet. When they put on the smoke effect the whole pub was filled and no one could see any thing.  People were rushing out of the door with Asthma attacks reaching for their becotide inhalers. But they brought rent a crowd, all dressed up in leather, heavy rock gear, despite the heat.

Sunday was my pubs annual music fest in aid of a charity for the mentally challenged. God I hate this politically correct speak. Well it was a great day. We drank copious amounts of falling down water, bought raffle tickets and very loud shirts.  So guess what I'm wearing for this saturdays gig at the Wheatsheaf? Yep A very loud Hawiain shirt with "Fosters" all over it.  I tried it on tonight. The girls at the pub said I looked cute in it. I'm still not sure if they were taking the piss or what.

Tonight I had a house full of friends. You see I've got this new soft ware on my PC for recording music. It's a twenty four track recording studio.  With bolt ons it costs one and a half grand. The only problem is it's so professional, so complex, no one could figure out how to work it. Needless to say I didn't pay one and a half grand to acquire this amazing piece of soft ware. I wont go into details but it cost me zip. But with a whole team of computer experts on the case, we haven't got anywhere with it. So my new solo CD  is still on the back burner.  IN case you're wondering I left the team upstairs while I struggled with AOL. Occassionally they called me upstairs thinking they'd made a break through, for me to play some guitar. But it still didn't work so I spent the next few hour listening to my mates upstairs,  who can't play guitar, playing very odd chords here and there trying to create some music on the system.  Eventually they got pissed off and went home so I went to the pub to play pool. Played seven lost one.

I made this box. It's a music computer data interface box.  So I can plug my microphone and guitars into it and from there into my computer for recording. It cost me about £11 for the bits. Paul Smashy had it apart and spent an hour rewiring it with my soldering iron. Despite me telling him that it was OK. It still doesn't work. Danny reset the volume controls on my PC and Brian sat there drinking my coffee making useful comments like "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Well no shit Sherlock! Of course we don't know what we';re doing because we don't have the manual because we haven't actually paid for the software. And Jenny sat there saying "Don't look at me. I'm just a driver for Sainsburies home deliveries." Smashy made a really good attempt at making us think he knew what he was doing by opening and shutting windows at a remarkable rate. But the bloody thing still doesn't work.  Although I have made a recording of "Oh Lord wont you buy me a mercedes benz, my friends all drive Porsches and I must make amends, I worked hard all my life with no help from my friends, oh lord wont you buy me a Mercedes Benz." I'm sure it sounds better hear than on the recording. That was Janis Joplin if you must know.

So now the night is getting late. We've had the obligatory fight outside the fried chicken takeaway. Staff and customers spilt out onto the street.. I've fixed my floodlights outside the back door so maybe we'll get some more interesting video footage.  The roof man came to fix the bathroom roof. He was a long time doing it. Then later he told me he was scared of heights.  WHAT? So I had to go up on the roof to put the final touches to his good work while he recomposed himself at ground level. I think he must be in the wrong job. Well I thought that until he gave me the bill. Shit! I'd go up ladders for that amount.  Just tell me what to do and I'll bleedin well do it myself.  I think I'll buy one of those surfers T-shirts that say "No Fear", or "If it don't scare you, it aint worth doing!" Bring it on.

Rock on dudes and may your God be with you

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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Mineral water for dogs??

A customer came in earlier today with a large black dog, which sported a triangular yellow neckerchief. She picked up my coffee mug and said “Can I use this to give my dog some water?”
“That’s my coffee cup.”
“Sorry. What about this one?” she said pointing to Brians mug.
“That’s a coffee cup too.  Would you like me to fetch a bowl of water for your dog.”
“No just the bowl would be lovely I have the water already.” And she holds out a bottle of Volvic.
“You’re giving you dog Volvic?”
“Yes of course he loves it.” she insisted
“In this heat a dog will drink anything, even from a muddy puddle.”
“Not my dog. He only has the best.” and she pats the dog who is panting heavily.
“So why not Perrier?” I ask.
“Oh he doesn’t like the bubbles.”  Hmmm. Makes sense
So I got the bowl and she filled it with Volvic mineral water, totally convinced that the dog loved it. The dog had a  little then walked away, finally slumping in a cool corner of the shop.
“I’ll throw the rest over his head.” Says the girl.
“What?”
“Oh I’ll wait ‘til I get the dog outside of course.”
So she calls the dog over and takes it outside. “Sit!” The dog sat. And she pours the bowl of water over the dogs head.
I saw the dog looking just a little surprised at this and it looked at her sideways like as if to say “What the fuck was that all about? How would you like it?”

She went and the next customer came in and commented on the water all over the floor. “That’ll be the girl giving her dog mineral water. Can you believe it?” I said.
“Actually yes! I’ve just got back from the USA and Dog Water is a big thing there. Special bottled water just for dogs.”
“You’re kidding.”
“No it’s true. They’ve just started to introduce it into this country.”
So I guess now all the dog owners will be training their dogs to open screw top bottles instead of lifting the toilet seat for a drink. And that begs the question what’s the  difference between water and dog water. OK if we start with our basic H2O. Whats added? Or do we start by lifting the toilet seat and dipping the bottles destined for the doggy supermarket into the bowl.
I phoned a friend who is an animal lover and mentioned it. She said “Actually it’s cats that mostly drink from the toilet. Dogs don’t usually have the sense. They’ll drink anything. A cat knows the toilet water is “nice”, a dog doesn’t care.”
Me I don’t own a dog and I don’t have a cat that owns me. So I’m not an expert in this field. I just tell it as I find it. So any comments would be welcome.  Is this a wind up or is this life gone crazy?

 

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Baring all for rock and roll

Got a call yesterday from Mike Stewart, he’s a professional musician, unlike me, semi professional, which means I don’t give up the day job. He was in a panic. Big show that night, and his stage lights had failed. So 5:30 I dashed over to the venue in my car and after unloading a ton of equipment from the back of his transit, speakers, amplifiers etc I set about stripping the lights apart to find the faults. Got them all working in 45 minutes flat. Not bad.
Came back home had dinner and went back to venue with friends. Mike and his band were doing their “Rockology” show which is great, and very different. It is an anthology of rock music which  features audio  visuals on a big screen. It’s all computer controlled as are the lights and the backing tracks. Featured songs are from Led Zeppelin, Gary Moore, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Free, Black Sabbath,  Lynerd Skynerd, Deep Purple and lots more. It’s a great show and Mike is a great guitarist.
Standing behind me was this young girl with long brown hair and glasses with a crop top and jeans. She was dancing in front of what I thought was her boyfriend, very seductively even to the point of sucking her finger in front of him in a very suggestive manner. I say he was what I thought her boyfriend because ten minutes later he’s playing tonsil hockey with another girl. Meanwhile glasses girl was in the middle of the floor doing a solo turn much to the delight of various guys clutching pints of lager with both hands for fear of spilling anything in their excitement.
Leather skirt girl, had been sidling up to Mark the drummer and managed to blag a pair of drum sticks from him. She went back to her table and proceeded to drum along with the band, before she too joined glasses girl in the middle, shaking her booty. Fat girl decided to join in.  At which the various guys turned their attention back to the band and relaxed grips on pints of lager.
At the bar some teenagers were ordering drinks. Three thimble full shots of something blue. Six Quid!!!! They were downed in one hit. Then they decided to have another and queued for another ten minutes. Haven’t they learnt yet to double or even treble up on orders if a pub is busy?  Obviously they’ve never been to a festival. The youth of today. You are young grass hoppers you will learn.
Trevor phoned me. He’s in the band "Hooker" a heavy rock band. Excited? I should co-co. He’s just got a new PA system for his band. 3kw of amplification and quote “Fuck off bass bins…… it’s the dogs bollocks, come and listen tonight we’re playing The Cock Inn.” So that’s  what I’m doing tonight. Although 3kw pPA system for a small pub does seem a bit of overkill.  But it makes a change for me. Normally I don’t get to see my friends play because I’m usually playing myself. But this weekend we’ve got a clear diary. Next weekend though, we’re playing a charity fun day on Saturday and a music festival on Sunday. We’re the headline act. Whoopee!!
Last time I went to The Cock Inn, a young lady was intent on exposing herself to the band and by way of her ample size, to everyone else as well. My friend always seemed to be looking the other way when she did it. And I spent the whole evening saying “She’s done it again. Did you see this time?”
He was convinced I was pulling his leg until he noticed the drummer was wearing the girls bra over his head like a pair of ear muffs and tied under his chin and the girl who had leant over the wooden barrier a little too far had toppled over and was hanging upside down with her boobs round her face screaming for help. There was a rush to help her. It’s a wonderful life.
Keep the faith.
Mikel

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Rough or what?

I wont say I live in a rough area but to give you a clue I have 1/2" steel bars on every downstairs window of my place. I also have 3/8" steel plate covering my back door secured by a 4" Chubb "invincible" padlock. The police know our area like the back of their hands and regularly can be seen (and heard)  arriving at great speed, lights flashing and sirens blaring.  Followed quite often by ambulances. I also have a video security camera linked to my TV and a very friendly message to the bad boys painted onto my back door. It says "Smile for the camera." But that doesn't stop various couples giving me a free porn show at my back door, which is not visible from the main road. And as I habitually sit in the dark writing this crap. With only the light of the monitor. No one even suspects I'm here.  So I'm treated to grunts and groans and moans and "Give it to me big boy" not 6 feet from where I'm sitting.  I usually wait til the critical moment and turn on the flood lights. Cruel aren't I?
Now you may think it must be aweful to live here. Well don't. It may be a lot of things but it aint boring. I love it. Never a dull moment.  Even as I write this the police have sped past to the estate behind me.  The police helicopter is overhead, searchlight piercing through the darkness. It reminds me of "Apocalypse now". Except even Charlie Sheen wouldn't be seen dead here. 
I habitually stay up late. There's no point going to bed early. There's too much noise outside. People screaming  at each other, fights going on.  Drunks falling about and singing. Girls in tears because their psychopathic boyfriends have ditched them.  Sitting slumped on the pavement opposite, their stockings in a mess and mascara all down their faces The boyfriend with more testosterone than he can handle is is itching to land one on her.  Sometimes he does. But he's torn between been desperate for the  shag that he's incapable of, and wanting to hit someone very hard. I can see him fidgiting in the street.  All tensed up, stressed out, somethings gonna give, very soon. The girl is crying. He is frustrated. He hasn't the mental capacity to know why she's crying, all he knows is that it's fucking annoying him. He's done everything tonight, he's bought her drinks, got her pissed, and now she's crying. What the fuck is going on? A mate turns up. The boy's so wired up he wants to hit him but the mate is laughing and joshing with him. "Come on ditch the bitch. She's not worth it."
"But I love her." comes the plaintive cry.  Love? Two seconds ago he wanted to punch her lights out.
"go on just talk to her then."
So the boy goes to the girl slumped against the wall of the grave yard opposite my place. "Come on love. Let's go home."
"You bastard! I've had enough. I can't  take anymore."
He's  still trying to be nice. "Come on you can't stay there all night you'll die of cold. Let's go home."
"Leave me alone you bastard. I can't do this anymore."
"Think of the baby?" he tries.
"You think the baby is yours?" I'm not sure she means that. But it has the appropriate response.
"You fucking bitch." And the mate is holding him back while he tries to kick the girl on the pavement. She screams some more. The police arrive. Him and his mate walk nonchalantly off up the road. They don't even know her. By the time she's stopped crying they're long gone.
"Where do you live love?"
"Just up the road. I'll be alright."
A four by four screeches to a halt. "It's OK officer that's my daughter in law.I'll take her home."
"OK." 
They bundle her into the trooper and speed off up the road.
All is quiet and finally I can get to sleep.

Goodnight!

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Itdon't rain but it pours

Can you believe it? It’s bleedin’ well raining again. The roof man came today and fixed my kitchen roof, but it started raining, so he fucked off. Leaving me, still with a hole in the roof above my bathroom.
“What about my bathroom roof?”
“I’ll come back  when it’s not raining.”
“But it doesn’t leak when it’s not raining.”
So the buckets have to come out again. At least I can put away the bucket in the kitchen now. What happened to summer? Did I oversleep and miss it all? Apparently it was very nice one Sunday morning but that was probably the Sunday morning I had an enforced lie in due to exhaustion.
All this brings back memories of when I lived in Cyprus. All summer it would never rain then toward the end the small showers would start and we’d all run out into the street, arms outstretched,  faces pointing upwards, welcoming the rain. Which incidently, was warm. In fact during those days at the end of summer when it rained it was so hot that our faces would get wet and the heat from the ground evaporated the rain before it hit our feet. Weird. Then later on in the year, the heavy rain would start, with the rain drops big as dobbers, bouncing two foot off the road. Soaking us to our skin. Not that we wore much in the way of clothing. khaki t-shirts and khaki shorts and open top sandals, no socks. We were dry again in ten minutes after the rain stopped.
I was once visiting my sister in Kingston Jamaica. She had a swimming pool that everyone in their compound used. Every morning we’d wake up, the sky would be blue and the sun shone. By 10:00am it started clouding over, by 11:00am it was full cloud, then at midday it just chucked it down. I was in the swimming pool and it started raining. Everyone in the pool except me jumped out the water and ran to get their towels, hid under them and ran for cover. What the fuck was that all about? If you’re already in the pool you can’t get any wetter. OK if there was a thunderstorm to go with it I might make an exception. But there never was. Then it would stop raining and for the rest of the day it was beautiful again. Spookily enough on the north coast of Jamaica they didn’t seem to have the same daily weather pattern of midday rain. So guess where all the tourist resorts are?
I used to take to walking alone through Kingston. Went to see Bob Marley at Tough Gong Studios, But he was out. The studio is easily missed it’s just a bungalow in a row of bungalows. One day I asked a taxi driver to take me to Trench Town. A place spoken of frequently in Bob Marleys lyrics and I wanted to have a look.
The taxi driver almost had a coronary. “White boy don’ wan go dat place. Is bad fo’ white boy.”
“Just a quick look? I’ll stay in the taxi.”
“No I don’ take no white boy to Trench Town. I take white boy to museum irie?”
“Irie.”
So in a cloud of dust, the taxi lurched forward, throwing me back into my seat at the back. We sped off across town. The wheels screeched around every corner. Apparently they are so keen on American gangster shows that they deliberately run their tyres on very low pressure so they screech round the gentlest of corners. Fuck aweful handling but then this is Jamaica. We stopped at the museum and the driver got out the car to open my door. He had only one leg. It wasn’t an automatic. It was a stick shift. He used his crutch to operate the accelerator pedal. I wasn’t going in that taxi again. So I nipped into the museum and after a quick look round, high tailed out the back door and found a bus. I got on. I was the only white face on the bus and it all went disturbingly quiet. Eeeek! A big fat woman with a brightly coloured turban poked me in the ribs.
“Hey you whitey! What you doin’ boy?”
“Taking the bus back into Kingston. What you doin’ girl.”
She laughed out loud. “White boy don’ take no bus. What you  really doin’?”
“Well I am a white boy and I am on this bus, going to Kingston.”
Before I knew it everyone was asking me questions and being incredibly friendly.
I guess I must have been one of the first white boys they ever saw on the bus. They seemed to enjoy the fact as well. I  got up to get off the bus in Kingston central and the fat turbaned lady poked me again. “Hey White boy! You can ride MY bus any day you want.” And she looked round to the other passengers and laughed wickedly. They all laughed as well. I just felt myself going bright red. “anytime white boy!” and she laughed again.
Back on the streets I was stopped by a Rastafarian “You wan’ buy bag?”
“No thanks.”
“Twenty five dollar.”
“Best smoke on the island. Only twenty five dollar.” He showed me the bag. It was almost the size of half a standard carrier bag. Packed full of grass/weed/ganja, whatever you want to call it. There was enough to keep the whole of my university stoned for a week. I walked on. Time for a beer. I stepped into the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, into the bar, ordered a Red Stripe and picked up the Daily Gleaner. Really there is a paper called the Daily Gleaner. Also it has on the back page the British Daily Telegraph crossword from a month ago. Hmmm! At the time I was an avid crossword fanatic. So I bought a copy and took it back to the house. My brother in law, who fancies himself as a bit of a genius at crosswords had a go and got stuck.
“Can’t do it Phil? Sling it here I’ll help you out.”
It was just like filling in the blanks as I already knew all the answers from a month ago. I made a point of making comments like “Christ Phil didn’t you get this one?”
And “How did you miss that one?” To this day I have never let on about it to him.
 
Hmm! It’s stopped raining. 

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The graveyard shift

Bizarre incident of the day. I had a knock at my back door. This guy stood there in a bright orange fleece and baggy trousers and dragging a blanket behind him. He said "Excuse me mate have you a piece of cardboard I could lie on?"
I gave him a large cardboard box he thanked me and wandered off across the road to the cemetary. The gate was locked so he threw his carrier bags and the card board box over the gate and climbed over.
He was last seen making a nest for himself behind a gravestone. I hope he has a peaceful night.

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They all knew except me.

I’ve changed the name of the blog again. I don’t mention vacuum cleaners that much, so it seems to be 1. A blessing and 2. More relevant. After all I don’t stand on stage with a Dyson slung over my shoulder.
Went to the music shop to pick up an XLR socket. That’s a socket that I can plug my microphone into.  Rick said “That’s £2.50.”
“What?  They’re only 26p in my catalogue.”
“Impossible. Tell you what, you have this one and fuck off!”
“I must pay you.”
“No need. Fuck off!”
“Thanks Rick.”
“Anytime. By the way I’ll do you a really good deal on an Ovation guitar.”
“How good a deal?”
“A really good deal. I’ll look after you.”
“What if I want to chop in my 6 string electric acoustic?”
“I’ll do you a good deal on that too.”
 
Our new website has music on it. It’s us playing the first few bars of “Stuck in the middle with you.” It’s looped to drive you crazy. You can sing along. There’s a picture of me there with baby. (That’s what we call my mandolin.) Pix of Del and Tony too so you’ll know who I’m talking about.
 
I used to work security at a rock club in Aylesbury. I say security with a laugh, because I was an eight stone weakling at the time. Now I’m a thirteen stone weakling.
The club was the famous “Friars Aylesbury”. One night I was stage left, watching Iggy and the Stooges. Iggy Pop was stripped to the waist leaping about the stage, when this guy came up to me in the darkness.
“Alright?” he said to me, standing at the bottom of the stage steps.
“Yeah great!” I said.
“Good group huh?”
“Yeah Great!”
“Well that’s my cue.” He said, “Love to stop and chat but I’ve got to go on stage.”
He walked up the steps and sat behind a keyboard, the lights went on and it was bleedin David Bowie. Fuck I’d been standing next to David Bowie and all I’d managed to say was “Yeah Great!”
I met quite a few famous artists over the years the ones that stick out in my mind, stick out for the strangest reason. Rick Wakeman and Steve Harley both  in the bar before the doors opened. They were a lot shorter than I expected. I still wonder why I remember them more than any of the others, perhaps it was simply because I was a lot taller than them.
I hada  great arrangement with this girl called Sue. Her father would drive From Stoke Mandeville to Wendover to pick me up and then drive the two of us to Friars. In return for this kindness I got Sue in for free every week as my guest. We’d sit and chat before the doors opened and she’d have great fun waving to her mates stuck outside in the cold and the rain. She’d even buy me drinks during the night and bring them to me where ever I was stationed at the time. Then at the end of the night her father would drive me the six miles home. It was perfect. Sue herself was gorgeous. But being very shy in them days (really) I didn’t dare make a move in case she got upset and I lost my free transport. Years later I was in Aylesbury and met a guy who asked me what ever happened to Sue.  I said I didn’t know.
“What? You were going out with her weren’t you? For years.”
“No. I never went out with Sue.”
“But she was with you all the time.”
“There was never anything going on.”
“That’s not what she was telling everyone else.”
So it appears everyone knew about me and Sue, except me. So this is another testament to that stuff at the top of this blog. I never had a mispent youth. Damn my shyness. Damn it to hell and back. The good news is I have cured myself of that.  
 
We’re doing “Local boy in the photograph” by the Stereophonics. So I’d better pick up the old guitar and practice a bit. Later dudes.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Being in a band

I've been to my pub to play pool tonight. A couple of travellers were there. How come they play pool so well? They were devastating against all comers. They have this look. A look that sees right through you. Then they thrash the arse off of you. Later on a couple of lads turned up, they were both deaf and dumb.  They were Ok. They both played well. And I'm sitting there having my drink wanting to go home because I am old and past it. And I get another drink put in front of me. Then another. Who's buying these drinks? Shit! I just want to come home. But years of drinking training has taught me that you never refuse a drink. I think I'd better start being strict with myself. Perhaps I can refuse the odd drink.  Even if I have to upset the donor. But it's not that easy. There's a free drink so take it.
That moved me on to another thought about being a musician.  I used to think  musicians were Gods. They were what I aspired to.  I used to sit in an audience and dream of doing what they did. But now I am the one one stage. I am the one playing the music. But I don't feel special.  Don't get me wrong I love to be the one on stage. But I'm not special. I'm just like you. Because I play guitar, that doesn't make me better than you.  I am now the person I wanted to be, the guy on stage. But I've found I admire so many people who don't play guitar like I do.   It doesn't matter that I can do what a lot of people can't. They can probably do something I can't. So I'm no better no worse .  It's just that I have the privelige of doing something I love to do. And people scream and shout for more. Try doing that as a civil servant as a tax collector as a salesman. I'll never be famous
but people see me in the street and say "Did I see you play at.........." You know that's a wonderful feeling. To have someone come up to you and say they have enjoyed the night. You've enjoyed it? What about me? I've had a great time. Entertaining you. It's been a privelige to be able to play guitar for you. I  would do this job for nothing. But if I get paid?  Holy shit!
Years ago I used to play in a folk rock band.  The leader of the band was so up his own arse that any mistake was a hienous crime. I was so paranoid about making a mistake that I got stage fright big time.  Eventually I was so paranoid that I was feeling sick every time we went on stage. I was going to throw up. I used to sit on my guitar stool and clench my legs round the legs sp people wouldn't see me shaking. Eventually it got so bad I said "I can't do this any more." And I stopped playing live for fifteen years.  Playing with my new band Ad Hock was a revelation to me.  I was allowed to make mistakes. Del and Tony made loads themselves but no one noticed. They were not on my case when I fucked up. I just got the odd glance. But we carried on.The crowd loved us, mistakes and all.  I can't believe how lucky I am to be playing music with two such great guys.
We are not like your usual band. We never rehearse.  If someone shouts out a song they want to hear we'll play it. One of us will know it.  I love Del to death. He is always late. We have a joke in the band that we are running on normal time or Del Time. Tony is English but was raised in the USA. He speaks with a vague Irish accent but can't explain why. He is the driving force behind the group. He is brilliant when he works the crowd with his radio mike. Then there's the girls in our group.Tony's girl friend Debs cannot take her drink. She will be smashed on half a pint of lager. God! You'd love her. Del's wife Dianne is such a trooper. She is command of the situation at all times. Without Dianne, Del would be lost. But Del throws the most amazing parties. Get yourself invited to one.   But we're just musicians. We are just like you. We aren't anything special. It's just that we've done something you lot couldn't be bothered to do.  We are human just like you. We have the same problems you have. We fuck up just like you do. But at the end of the day, we are the ones on stage. Don't feel intimidated. We have our faults.
 
May your God be with you.
 
Mike Da Hat

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Monday, July 19, 2004

Cynic or what?

Call me cynical but if you remember I was complaining about AOL crashing on me every two minutes since they've been bombarding me with pleas for me to upgrade to broadband. I often wondered if it was a coincedence or some cynical ploy to get more money out of me.
Well finally I relented and signed up for broadband.
Guess what? Since I signed up AOL has not crashed on me once and I haven't even installed the hardware yet I'm still on dial up at the moment.  I leave it to you to decide........ I personally have my suspicions.

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The customer is sometimes right

The band Saturday night was brilliant. A local band called Citizen Smiffy. Fronted by Colin Smith, who does a great impression of Sting, from “The Police”. So as you can imagine they do a fair few Police covcrs. There were a couple of surprise guest artists on stage. Giz Butt, who was the lead guitarist from The Prodigy, and now has another band whose name I don’t recall, and the drummer from The Damned and Morrissey. Both played brilliantly. Giz or Graham teaches guitar here in Peterborough, so if you’ve got a spare £20 a lesson, you too can be taught guitar by the great Giz Butt. No he didn’t ask me to plug his guitar school. It’s just that another friend of mine who also teaches guitar, was moaning that he can only get away with charging £14 a lesson.
“yeah but you aint Giz Butt.” I  told him.
We’ve got a new website for my band. There’s not much on it right now. Some of the photo’s are loaded, not the blurb, just the titles. But for what it’s worth the link is on the right.
It’s a beautiful morning the sky is blue and all is quiet. It  reminds me of when I used to live in Cyprus. First thing in the morning the sea was very calm. Hardly any waves just a gentle shushing on the pebbles of the beach. Our school didn’t have a swimming pool so early in the morning we’d all take a coach down to the beach for our swimming lessons.  We’d all jump into the sea and start splashing about. No life guards, just the teacher walking up and down the beach watching us. I can’t imagine that happening now. All this health and safety regulations stuff.
Another thing that probably wouldn’t happen is the annual trip to the cliff edge to watch the Red Arrows.  As you guessed we lived on the coast at RAF Episkopi. Every year the Red Arrows would come over and do a few practice shows so we’d all go to the cliff top and watch. Now this is a million times better than going to an air show. Because they’d come in from over the  sea skimming the waves. So we’d be actually looking down on them, then they’d pull up sharply and zoom over our heads. They got quite close the sound was incredible. Kids would be screaming especially the younger ones. Great fun.
I noticed in the paper yesterday that yet another army recruit had died after a one and a half mile run. Hmmm yet another enquiry.  OK I’m sorry for the guys family and friends and especially sorry for the guy himself having died so young. But this is life. This is the army, they have to train their people to be tough, fit, capable. The training has to be hard if it wasn’t there’d be no point. We might as well send in a platoon of hairdressers to knock out an enemy position. We are being protected too much. Protected to a ridiculous degree, where people are now automatically looking to blame someone else when something goes wrong, going straight to a lawyer for comensation because they’ve been daft enough to hurt themselves.
One of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in a long time was this guy in the USA who bought an RV he was driving down a long straight road and decided to make himself a coffee so he got out the driving seat and went to the back of the RV. Meanwhile the RV carried on down the road until it left the road and turned over a few times.  It was a right off. The RV’s owner sued the company for not telling him that the vehicle would not drive it self. No where in the manual does it say that he mustn’t let the vehicle drive it self. Believe it or not he won his case.  I bought a guitar lead no where in the instructions does it say I mustn’t wrap it round my neck or round the neck of anyone else in case they choked. So if I did could I sue the company who made the lead because they hadn’t told me that I shouldn’t in the instructions? It’s common sense. People are not allowed to have common sense anymore, they’re not expected to have it, because we have all these rules and regulations that protect us from our own stupidity. Eventually people will no longer be able to think for themselves. In Sainsburys I saw a packet of Peanuts. On it was written a warning “This product contains nuts” No shit!
Here’s another thing that pisses me off. “The customer is always right”. Well not in my shop they aint. Who the hell thought that one up? The customer is usually wrong. They start shouting to you about going to trading standards and getting a lawyer etc etc So you open the phone book and give them the number of the trading standards office and say “Off you go. Give them a call.” And they just stand there unable to say a word because they know they’re wrong and they know they were just try to pull a fast one on you. They know it, you know it but there’s always this “Customer is always right” thing that makes people believe they can get away with murder. I am very tolerant, very fair and I’ll bend over backward to put right something I know to be my fault. But I wont let customers take the piss. I don’t care how loudly they shout the customer is NOT always right. 
 

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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Talent spotting????

Went to see a band last night. I can’t begin to describe how aweful they were. The lead singer, dressed in spray on leather trousers, sported a matching leather cap reminiscent of those leather caps favoured by our homosexual friends. She couldn’t sing. The band member with the most talent was wheeled on stage in his wheel chair. Now he was good. But as this was his first appearance with the band he hadn’t yet learnt all the songs.
Well we sat there listening to them destroy song after song, and watching the crowd disappear out the back door. No doubt Steve the landlord, next week, will try to tell me they were brilliant, and he’s definitely going to  book them again. He seems to have an uncanny knack of  talent spotting. If there’s a crap band to discover he’ll be the first to discover them and pay them good money to empty his pub for him.  
I went to the bar. A friend came up to me “What do you think of the band?” he says swaying a little.
“You want my honest opinion?”
“Yes as a fellow musician.”
“Rubbish.”
“There you go.” and he turns to the guy standing next to him. “If he thinks it’s crap then they must be.”
“Well I think they’re great.”
“have you had new batteries in your hearing aid this week?”
My friends turns to me to shake my hand. “I’m pleased I’m not the only one to recognise sheer total incompetence. I’d rather watch my own Grandmother falling down the stairs, than watch this lot.”
I left very shortly after that. I had to cut my toe nails or something equally interesting.
Actually I got home and started practicing a song by Puddle of mud “Blurry” hit the first chord and thought “Hey that’s also the first chord of Nickelbacks “How you remind me”.” So I tried to work out the rest. Got half the song nailed. I’ll speak to Tony and see if he’s got the other half.
Just had an asian guy come in “You got butch?” he asks.
“What?”
“Butch, you got butch?”
“I can’t understand what you’re saying.”
“Butch for clinner.”
“Butch? Clinner?”
“I got in car I show you.”
“Great.”
He brought in a brush for his vacuum cleaner. “Oh you want a brush for your cleaner.”
“Swot I sed, butch for clinner.”
Gotta go I must lie down before I go to this wedding reception tonight. OH God! It’s another 3 piece suit event. And they won’t let me bring my guitar. “We’ve got the music covered.”they said. “We’ve a Spanish guitarist going to be playing.”
Hells teeth! I think I might be leaving early.

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Friday, July 16, 2004

How to kill people! Eeek!

I haven’t always been an electrician and musician and writer. The crazy thing is when I was young I had absolutely no interest in music. Even less interest in writing. All I wanted to do was be a scientist. So I became a biologist. Went to university etc, landed a job working for the government, watching lapwings on an airfield. Lasham if you must know, it’s in Hampshire. But I was paid a pittance £47 a week. Scandalous. My mate who I shared a house with said “Why don’t you work for me as a landscape gardener?”
“How much will you pay me?”
“£80 a week.” It was a done deal.
Within three weeks that was upped to £100, because I became a worker /driver. Then three months later a job as foreman came up. The boss Bob went round the whole company asking everybody if they wanted to be the next foreman. There was me jumping up and down saying “Me Me Me! I’ll do it. I can be foreman.”
“Fuck off Mikel! You’ve only been here three months what do you know about being foreman?” he walked away. Everybody laughed at me. I was only twenty one.
So Bob asked Steve who had been in the building trade man and boy for the last thirty years. He refused. So he went to the next guy twenty years experience. Not interested. They didn’t want the responsibility. And I’m still shouting “Me Me Me!”
Eventually Bob struck out no one was interested and he wandered back to his office.
I turned to the guys and said “I’m gonna get that job.” They almost wet themselves laughing at me. But I went to the office anyway. Bob was sitting behind his desk.
“Yes?” he said impatiently.
“I want that job.”
“Fuck off!”
“no wait a minute here’s the deal. You already pay me £100. As a foreman you’ll pay me £140. So you only have to find another £40. Now if you advertise that’s going to cost you. Then when you get your man you’re gonna have to pay him £140. So if you give me the job you save the money on advertising and the time and effort of interviewing and it’ll only cost you an extra £40 a week instead of £140 so in the year you’ll save over £5,000. Money you’d rather have in your own pocket I bet.”
He sat silent for a while. I could tell he was going through the figures in his head.
I went on. “If it doesn’t work out I’ll go back to what I was doing. And you’ll have lost nothing. But if I do the job which I know I can. Hey you’re on a winner.”
He was softening. Eventually he leant back in his chair and said “I know I’m going to regret this but you’ve got the job.”
“Thanks Bob I wont let you down.”
I walked out of his office back into the yard and all the guys were there. I had my head held low and shuffled my feet a bit for maximum effect. They all started taking the piss and laughing at me. I just stood there and said “Right, you can call me Sir now.”
Dead silence.
“You got the fucking job?”
“Believe it. I’m now your boss.” And I still didn’t know the first thing about being a landscape gardener.
It was the middle of winter and my first job was to lay a concrete path through the middle of a customers garden. I had my team. Steve the guy who had worked in building man and boy for thirty years was working for me.
“What do you reckon Steve?”
“well it’s frosty so the concrete could crack in this cold, so we’d better use some Febspeed”
“What’s that?”
“It’s a plasticizer stops the cement cracking, makes it more pliable in cold conditions.”
“Good thinking. What mix do we use?”
“Oh five to one obviously. …. Hey! I’m not saying that. It’s not my decision.”
“Of course not.”
“I never said anything to you alright?”
“What ever you want.”
“Right then.”
I turned to the rest of the team. “OK boys we’re going with a five to one mix and put a dab of Febspeed in it to stop the cracking. Let’s do it.”
And so it went on.
The next job I had to lay a patio at the back of this rich guys house. When we got there it’s was raining very hard and the patio area was a quagmire. We couldn’t work in those conditions. Steve wanted to go back to the yard to check with Bob but that was an hours drive away. Then an hours drive back. We didn’t have mobile phones in them days. I looked at the situation and decided that it would be better to do next weeks work this week. That was build the concrete path down the hill leading to the patio. So I gave the order to start work. The guys were obviously worried about this because we were suppose to be laying a patio. “Bob will kill us if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do.”
“But we can’t so we’d better do something useful.”
“no we’ve got to go back to the yard.”
“no I’m not wasting Bob’s money. We’re going to lay this path.”
The customer was looking through his window at us and saw we’d started work other than what was on his schedule. He phoned Bob to complain.
Forty five minutes later I heard Bobs car screach to a halt outside the front of the house. The guys all had smug grins on their faces, knowing I was in for a pasting. Or even better the sack.
Bob came round the back red faced and ready for an argument. “What the fuck is going on?”
“See for yourself Bob. It’s a quagmire here. We can’t lay a patio on this it’ll sink as soon as it dries out.”
“So why didn’t you check with me as to what to do next.”
“Because Bob you are paying me to make decisions. So I made the decision. We’re laying the path first where it’s drier. That way, later we can use the path to get the materials to the patio easier. Rather than struggle through the mud. And also so we don’t waste all this money you pay us to do nothing.”
Bob was desperate to bluster some more but he could see the sense of it. “I’ll go and speak to the customer. Explain what’s going on.”
“Ok we’ll just get on with what we’re doing then?”
After that I never had trouble with my team ever again. They respected my decisions.
I still didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. But I had logic and common sense on my side. And that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you have a fucking good excuse for doing it. You can fuck up big style but if you have a good reason for doing what you have done then the world is your oyster.

When I was still at school I got a job as a refrigeration engineer for during the holidays. Mother didn’t like me sitting around moaning I was bored. One day we had to go to fix the fridge in a mortuary. We got there and it was this ramshackle building with a corrugated iron roof. The mortuary attendant showed us to the cooling unit and we got to work. After a while he asked us if we wanted a coffee or tea. Fred, the guy I worked for, said that would be great. The kettle was boiled cups prepared and and tea served. Then the mortuary attendant said to me “Fetch the milk boy. It’s in that drawer over there. Second on the left.”
So I went to the drawer second on the left and pulled it open. Sitting in between a pair of toe tagged feet was a bottle of milk and a plastic bag of sandwhiches. Eeeek! I kept my cool. I wanted to be sick. But I knew it was a wind up. I wasn’t going to let him have the satisfaction of getting one over on me. So with my back to the attendant I said to the body “Oh pass me that bottle of milk will you………Thanks awefully.”
I didn’t have milk in my coffee.

My children are not normal children. I’ve already told you this. Tonight I was talking to my boy Jamie. The conversation was all about contract killers and their methods. We sat in the sitting room and he said “we need to carry on this conversation somewhere else to get a new perspective on it.”
“Ok where do you want to go?”
“To the pub.” That’s my boy. So we drove to the pub. And discussed how to kill people. Really, I kid you not. Jamie is the least violent boy you will ever meet. But in the interests of research for HIS stories he wanted to thrash out a few ideas. I hope no one overheard us talking about how to kill people.
On the way home he asked me “How do you know all about killing people like that?”
“I’ve looked into it for my own stories. Accuracy is the key. Research. It’s got to be believeable.”
We even discussed making a Monty python quiz the first question was going to be What were the knights that said Ni formally known as? But that sort of fizzled out as we went on to other stuff. Gemmalah meanwhile was having a playstation night with her friends. My ex is in Scotland on a freebie holiday. I’m really pleased she told me the kids were going to be all by themselves this week. Not! Cause she didn’t tell me.
Am I allowed irony here?

That’s it. May your god be with you.

Mikel

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Thursday, July 15, 2004

AOL The spawn of Satan.

I just spent the last two hours writing the most incredibly funny blog and fucking AOL crashed on me. I may be a cynic but AOL used to be pretty good until they started bombarding me with messages asking me to go to broadband. From that moment AOL has crashed on me so many times I have lost count. Is this deliberate? Are they deliberately making my service crap so I can not continue without paying them more for broadband? I'm not the only person to have noticed this. Is there a conspiracy? A hidden agenda. Am I becoming a member of the conspiracy theory set? I'm too tired to write it all again. So you'll have to imagine the funniest thing you've ever read. Post a comment. Tell me how funny this is.
I'm going to bed. Before I fall head first into my waste bin. Sorry Zoe.

May your God be with you

Mikel

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

That's what it's like in the electrical trade.

Tonight is my slobbing night. I got really ill a few weeks ago because I was doing too much. Burning the candle at both ends and then in the middle. Thursday we played Geneva's and stayed til 03:00am next night I was up til 02:00 the next night we played the Fox at Folkesworth played until 02:30. Sunday I went to bed early and a friend phoned me at Midnight. Couldn't get back to sleep. So by Monday I was a zombie. So due to old age I have decided that at least one night a week I've got to ease up. OK it's a token gesture. My doctor will hate me for it. I daren't tell him about my real lifestyle he'd lock me up, for my own good. But I can't sit still. I've got to be doing something.
So tonight I've been playing guitar. Practicing a few things Tony wants to do in the band.
We're playing a mini music festival on the 1st August. Our band is the headline act. There's going to be six bands throughout the afternoon.
Well it's official Simon has sold his Lotus Esprit and bought a J200 guitar and Pete Townsends old guitar or was it John Entwhistles? A J200 for the uninitiated is the guitar of choice of Elvis. he wont tell me exactly what it cost but it was in four figures.
Meanwhile Tony last night told me he was buying an Ovation guitar. You may have seen themthey are those guitasrs that have the rounded plastic backs. many years ago I was delivering a cooker to a guy and as I walked through his front room I noticed a fender stratocaster leaning against the sofa.
"You play guitar? " I asked
"No I just buy and sell them I'm selling this one for £80."
"What? I'll buy it."
"Sorry I've already sold it."
"Have you any more?"
"Not this second I had a crappy plastic backed one last week."
"what sort?"
"I dunno.It began with an O."
"Ovation perhaps?"
"yeah that's right. Fucking useless piece of shit. I got rid of it for £20. Who wants a plastic guitar?"
Well me for one. The twat didn't know what he'd got.
I almost died. £20 for an Ovation? I console myself now that they were probably stolen.
Delivering cookers is an entertaining line of work. One day the DHSS asked me to deliver a cooker to an old man. I got to the house and knocked on the door.
"Fuck off!" shouted this voice.
"I've come to deliver a cooker."
"Fuck off!"
"The DHSS sent me."
"Fuck off! Before I call the police."
So I went to the kitchen window and looked in to show him my I.D.
I was looking down the barrel of a second world war Luger. Shit! They don't pay me enough for this.
Another time I was sent by the DHSS to deliver a cooker to a house and as I got there the "Meals on Wheels" guy was handing a dinner through the kitchen window. He turned to me and said "You're not going in there are you?"
"Yes I've got to fit this new cooker."
"Well wipe your feet on the way out then.I wouldn't go in there if they paid me double or even treble wages."
I stood at the door and it was opened by this really scruffy guy. I was knocked back by the smell. The old guy said "the kitchens this way." and walked down an uncarpeted hallway.
"Shit!" he said. He'd trodden in something. Yep it was dog shit."'scuse me" he said as he opened a door and wiped his shoe on the carpet of his living room. I was almost gagging by now. I looked about me there was dog shit everywhere. The smell was incredible it crept into your clothes, your nose, everything.
"would you like a cup of tea?"
"no thanks." I said, perhaps a little too quickly.
I just wanted to get out and at that moment knew why the "meals on wheels" guy handed him the meal through his kitchen window. It was hell on earth.
I had to drag the cooker throughthe living room. In the middle was a single tub washing machine. It was on a boil wash. The water was grey and fetid. The air was steamy and gut wrenching. God what was he boiling? Body parts? The kitchen was horrendous. Mould everywhere and bottles of rancid milk on the window sill. The floor cluttered with empty cartons and rubbish. Every surface was covered with a layer of filth and grease. The dogs sniffed around my legs. Two german shepherds who had never seen the light of day in years. Crapping and pissing where ever they stood. It was obvious that this guy was never going to use this cooker at all. So why the hell was I here? Perhaps to provide him with another surface to cover with his filth. Perhaps so the DHSS could say they did their best. They've done their duty. How can people live like this? Until you've been there you will never know how fabulous fresh air is. Just to stand outside this house and breathe deeply, suck in that beautiful air. Cleanse yourself. I had to change my clothes and have a shower after that job.
The DHSS has a lot to answer for. one time they sent me to deliver a cooke to this woman who was having a nervous breakdown. She lived in a second floor flat with no lift. I had to haul that cooker up thirteen stairs. At the top I encountered and empty flat. Absolutley nothing in it apart from a bed roll and a "Goblin teasmade". The woman was painfully thin and had black teeth. She asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. Standard question in this country. I said "OK" even though I didn't really want one.
"I've got no milk." she said.
"That's OK I have mine black anyway."
"I've got no sugar either."
"oh well perhaps I can do without."
"I'm fresh out of tea as well." she said, "I can do a nice cup of hot water."
"That's OK I'll do without." And I got on with fitting the cooker.
Suddenly she slinked up to me and said "You've worked hard perhaps you'd like to lie down a while." And she lay down on her bed roll and patted it waiting for me to join her. Flashing her black teeth at me. Eeeek! I said " this is a little more difficult than I thought I better get our other engineer onto the case." I ran out the flat.
Back at our shop I went to John and said "I've got an important job for you. You've got to fit a cooker. her's the address."
John said "OK" and disappeared he was gone two hours. When he got back he came up to me and said "You bastard. You knew she was a nutter. She tried to rape me. She had me down on the floor and I had to fight her off. You'll pay for this."
I must admit I had to laugh. But then that's what it's like being in the electrical trade.

May your god be with you

Mikel

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

New story from the trade? Hmmm!

God I wish you guys reading this would leave a comment sometimes. I only to say "Hi"

I was sent a story which in itself is very funny but I'm sure it's an urban myth. It's one of those stories "from the trade" this time from a computer help line. So, for what it's worth here's the story.
Customer: Hello my computer doesn't work.
Help line: OK in what way doesn't it work?
Cust: It's completely dead my screan has gone blank.
Help: Have you tried switching it off and then switching it back on again?
Cust: Yes but nothing happened.
Help: So there's no lights on the computer at all?
Cust: no nothing.
Help: then we'd better check the mains lead is plugged in properly at the back of your computer.
Cust: OK where is it?
Help: it's the cable that goes fromt he plug in your wall to the computer. Have a look at the back and make sure it hasn't come loose.
Cust: I can't see it.
Help: It's right there at the back.
Cust: But I can't see it, it's too dark.
Help: Well turn on a light then.
Cust: I can't there's a power cut.

As I said it's a great story but I'm sure it's an urban myth.So that won't make it into my book. Or is it? If you've got better call me. You know where I am.

I've got to tell you to read "My boyfriend is a twat". It's a really great web site. The link is to the right of this. I laughed til I stopped. I haven't laughed so much since the cat died.

Zoe. I once had a girl friend called Zoe. She wont speak to me any more. Seems I did the most cardinal sin and dumped her. Even though she was the best thing that had ever happened to me at the time. But then I was young and stupid. The only difference is that now I am old and stupid. Most of the girls I speak to say the same thing. That it doesn't matter how old a boy gets, he's still a boy. I'd like to think that now I am my age I am more mature, more responsible, I have connected with my inner self and am more in tune with the world.But really I'm just a kid looking to have fun. My children read this so I perhaps I should say something more mature. Sorry kids, your dad is just like you. I do my best, but sometimes my best isn't good enough. I hope you understand. We are all fallible. No one is perfect. And because of that I don't expect you to be perfect. All I ask is that you do your best. That's good enough for me. You'd love my kids. They're great. Bizarre admittedly. But great. Hey kids! Do you mind me calling you bizarre? I'm sure they'd be proud to be bizarre. Given permission from the sproglets themselves I'll tell you more about them. But I have to check with them first. So until then it's

Hasta la vista

and all that

may your god be with you

Mikel

1 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

Hi!

Sorry, am behind on my reading, but keep it up. Liked the stories about the Luger and the dogshit. Keep going...

9:57 pm  

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Monday, July 12, 2004

Cute bum or what?

I've got to tell you this. Last night I was sitting here in the dark, as is my norm, and I heard a noise at my backdoor. So I got up and tried to openthe door there was a little resistance so I gave a big push. It was a young girl in leather trousers down round her ankles. There she was bum in the air on all fours after the push. She screamed a bit then burst into hysterical laughter pulled up her trousers and ran off down the road.With her boyfriend following her all tensed up ready for a fight shouting "what the fuck........?"
This is what happens when you live on a busy main road that's half way between the night clubs and the housing estate. Yeah but cute bum or what? So it's not all bad.
Before that my darling daughter had phoned me because she wanted a lift home from the "Busted" concert. So I got out the car and went to open the gate of our yard. Sitting on my door step were two young girls. Carrying "Busted" posters and "busted" flags. I thought they look familiar. It was Roz and Caz my neices. They have proper names of course. But their young society mean they have to lose their proper names and resort to these shortened versions. For years my brother in law has fought hard against this, insisting on calling them by their given names Rosalind and Caroline. But even he has given up now and calls them Roz and Caz. Gemma was full of her self "Charly waved to me." She gushed. Well I'm sure that's true. Fifty rows back and in a crowd of ten thousand. But she can have her dream. Now I mentioned before that my children are bizarre. Well Gemma true to form hasn't changed her name to be shorter like Gem or Juh, she's made her name longer. So now she's called Gemmalah. Apparently I'm called daddylah and her best friend June is now Junelah. Obviously my ex-wife is mummylah and my two sons are Jamielah and Joshlah. Jamielah is really James.But he hates the name so much he renamed himself Jamie virtually from the day he could speak. My wife changed her name from Victoria to Vikki. Although somtimes the change is from Vikki to Ex. as in "Hello Ex how you doing?" to which she will reply "Can't stop I'm off out."
"Oh where're you going?"
"Nowhere you need to know about."
"I just wondered."
And she skips off in her leather trousers and crop top jacket to a car parked strategically half a mile away from the house driven by Sales Rep guy or was it insurance salesman guy. I can never tell. Seems a nice guy though. But what do I know? He could be an axe murderer for all I know.
Our gig diary is pretty empty right now. No gigs until August 1st. So if anyone wants to book a really entertaining band, we're available. Weddings and barmitzvas, birthday parties and pub gigs no problem.

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Sunday, July 11, 2004


This is the legendary hat. It's been digitally enhanced and stuff to take out the person wearing it, which at the time wasn't me but some young lady who tooka shine to it. Sometimes I think my hat is more famous than I am  Posted by Hello

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My friend Smashy started off by just wanting a set of bongos. Then he got a stand for it. Then a bolt on tambourine, a cow bell, a cymbal and that yellow thing in the middle which is actually made of plastic but sounds like a hollow wooden block. He tells me he's getting ready for his world tour. I'd better teach him some more guitar first before the tour bus arrives. We've been going over a couple of U2 songs recently. With or without you and All I want is you. He'll be kicking guitar butt soon. Posted by Hello

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More stories from the trade

Another story from my friend who mans the Hotpoint customer help line.
Cust: I've just taken delivery of my brand new Hotpoint washing machine. And it's bouncing around the kitchen.
Help: Yes that may be because you haven't removed the transit bolts from the machine>
Cust: Excuse me but I've just spent the last three hours removing the transit bolts.
Help: Three hours? It should only take three minutes.
Cust: well if your people hadn't tightened the bolts so tight I wouldn't have had to spend three hours chipping away at that concrete block to get the bolts out.

From my friend who runs an Electrical shop.
Little old lady walks in with leather handbag. "Can you fix this leather bag for me?
"I'm afraid not we don't do leather repairs this is an electrical shop. The shop you want is the shop next door. The shoe repair shop."
"I know that. But they're closed."

This is one of my own stories. I was called out to look at a single tub washing machine. It wouldn't wash. I lifted the lid and looked inside. It was full of concrete. Hmmm I turned to lady customer and asked.
"Is your husband doing any building work at the moment?"
"Yes as a matter of fact he was doing our new patio yesterday."
"Well he's been using your washer to mix his concrete."
"Wha.........? !?&@!! Wait til he gets home."

That's similar to the time a customer brought in her Braun Multipractic Food processor it was jammed. but only jammed because hubby had used it to mix two part epoxy resin.
Then there was the guy who took his electric shaver back to currys because "it was useless". The store assistant looked at it and plugged it in switched it on and the customer immediately said "What's that noise?"
Or the guy who came in with his shaver and a face all cut and scratched. he'd read the instructions that said removed cover before shaving. Well he didn't have a cover so he removed the foil. Ouch!

As I said before you can never underestimate the stupidity of people.

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Saturday, July 10, 2004

THE (ALMOST) DARWIN AWARDS

I’ve been collecting stories for a book I was going to write. The book is a look at life from my side of the counter. Everyone complains about how they’ve been ripped off by shops and businesses and how many cowboys there are in this world. But no one ever mentions what we in the trade have to put up with. How stupid the general public can be. Many business spend millions on testing products in various rigs like they have a rig to push an appliance forward and backward a million times just to prove it was up to the job. Well I have a much better way of quality testing. Select a hundred households at ramdom and give them all your product to play with. You can bet your life if something can be broken it will be. If anything can be fucked up beyond repair you can rely on the general public to find a way. Anyway here’s a selection of daft stories from the trade for your amusement

A friend of mine in the trade fixes CD players and Hi-fi stuff. The other week a woman brought in her CD player. It wasn’t working. So Hif-fi boy had a look. He phoned her next day to tell her there was nothing wrong with her CD player. She came to pick it up and went away. That afternoon she’s on the phone screaming abuse at him. Her CD player was still not working. Apologising profusely Hi-fi boy told her to bring it back he’d have another look at it but this time in more detail. So she brought it back and he did every test he could with it. It worked perfectly. She took it away again and then almost kicked down his door the next day with CD player under her arm saying it was still useless and did he really know what he was doing?
He put it on his counter and plugged it in, Took out a test CD and played it perfectly.
The lady was gobsmacked. “Well it doesn’t play my CD’s!”
“Perhaps you’d better bring in your CD’s and we’ll try with them.”
Twenty minutes later she’s back with an armful of CD’s. Hi-fi boy takes one opens it up and the whole of the surface of the CD is scratched. With a little self satisfied smugness he tells the lady. “looks like this is your fault, your CD is scratched what’s the others like?”
She shows him the others which are all equally scratched.
“How did you manage to scratch all these CD’s like this?” he asked.
“Oh I used sand paper.”
“Why?”
“Because my ex-husband said it would make the player grip them better and so play better.”
Hmmmm

An old, but posh, lady brought a vacuum to our shop many years ago. It was an “Electrolux Automatic”. It had stopped sucking. I had a look. The bag was full. I mean so full I had to use a big screwdriver to dig it out of the machine.
When she came back she asked if I’d fixed the cleaner.
“There was nothing to fix really. You just needed to change the bag.”
“Young man!” she said in her posh voice “One doesn’t buy an automatic vacuum cleaner and then have to change the bag oneself.”

Carpet man told me this one. He sold a lady a brand new front room carpet and had it fitted by his team of carpet fitters. A few days later she’s on the phone.
“Are you sure that my new carpet has been stain guarded.”
“Yes madam it’s certified protected with Scotchguard ©. Why is there a problem?”
“Yes I spilt a glass of red wine on the carpet last night and it’s still there this morning.”

Here’s one from a help line of a major washing machine company. My friend who told me this said “ For God’s sake don’t tell anyone I work for Hotpoint.” (Well it’s OK I wont because no one reads this)
A customer phones the help line”I need an engineer to come out it’s an emergency.”
“Well I’m afraid it’s too late for today it’s already nearly five o’clock, but we can get an engineer out first thing in the morning.”
“You must be joking that’s no good this is an emergency. I need an engineer today. NOW!”
“Surely you can manage until first thing tomorrow? All our engineers have finished for the day.”
“Well bring one of them back I need an engineer right now.”
“OK What seems to be your problem?”
“I can’t get into my house.”
“Why not?”
“I can’t open the door.”
“Well surely you would be better off calling a locksmith.”
“No it’s your fault.”
“Our fault that you can’t open your door?”
“Yes if it wasn’t for your washing machine bouncing around the kitchen and jamming against my back door shut I could have been inside getting my tea by now.”

Washing machine man went to a customers house to investigate a very noisy washing machine. When he got there he looked inside the drum and found it was so badly dented inside it looked like someone had taken a club hammer to it. Seems the lady of the house had taken to putting the cast iron trivets off her gas cooker into the washing machine to clean them. It was a right off.
The next week the same lady called out washing machine man to look at her tumble dryer as thick black smoke was coming out of it. HE WENT OVER STRAIGHT WAY TO FIND…….. black molten plastic all over the clothes and the drum. Seems her children had been to Grandmas. Grandma had washed their clothes for them, handed over the black dustbin liner full of wet clothes to the kids mum saying “Just put this in the tumble dryer they’re already washed………….”

One of my favourite websites is “The Darwin awards”. This is full of stories of people who manage to take themselves out of the gene pool, by being incredibly stupid.

Just this morning an Asian chap came into the shop picked up a 60watt spotlight and gave me 60p. “No that’s £.140.” I tell him.
“No it say 60. I give you 60.”
“No that says 60 watts not sixty pence.”
“I want two more dozen of these…. is good price.”
“You can have two more dozen at £1.40 each.”
“No it say 60 I give you cash. You keep for me I come back later with my brothers, we pay you cash… 60p good price.”

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 Comments:

Blogger zoe said...

tell me that these aren't true and that you found them in a book or somewhere ????

7:45 pm  
Blogger MIKE DA HAT said...

Absolutely true. There's loads more even more bizarre but there's no accounting for the insanity or stupidity of the human race. I swear it's all true. It all happened to personal friends of mine and myself. Thanks for dropping by Zoe.

9:21 pm  

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Thursday, July 08, 2004

New games for old

My children and I have invented a new game of “Scrabble” ©. It’s called “Call my scrabble bluff”. The idea of the game is to invent new words, words actually found in the dictionary are not allowed. But the twist is you have to not only come up with a new word but have a plausible explanation of the words meaning. For instance, “Scafilli”; a form of pasta. Or Poondog, from old naval usage. On a whaling vessel the Poondog was the guy who had to load the harpoon gun. A very dangerous occupation. Each of the other players then try and come up with an alternative explanation of the word. Players then vote on the best definition. If your explanation was voted best then you get the points however if you placed the word and got best explanation it’s double points. Variations on scoring can be made by using the double words scores etc. It’s a lot of fun and as a sidenote is useful to teach the kids to think of meanings of words and their derivations from the latin greek etc So it’s not such a stupid idea.
My blog friend Quink of Hackney lookout has given me an idea for a sort of game based on blogs and the adverts that appear at the top. The idea is to control the advert by putting in key words that generate the most inappropriate advert for your blog. Not sure how it’s going to work but if you’re reading this B let me know what you think cause it’s you who gave me the idea. All I have to do is write the word mandolin a few times. Mandolin or mandolin strings, or mandolin music and see what sort of ad comes up when I log on again. The next stage would be to find out what the key words are they are using and try to avoid them so no advert is generated at all. I wonder if that could work.
lets try it.........

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Just when you think............

Just when you think it can't rain any harder, it does. The weather men warned us of this earlier but said it would happen like six hours ago. OK they're six hours too late. But that's weathermen for you.
Anyone know of any legal way to make loads of money? I want to retire. I guess not.Perhaps if everyone in the world gave me a penny?????? I loved the idea in that film where this guy programmed a banks computer to round up every cent and put the diference in his bank account. No one would ever notice a fraction of a cent.But with the amount of financial transactions going on those fractions mounted up. I need an idea like that. Come on share with me. I need some input here. Let me have enough to live a quiet life somewhere in the country. I don't want to be rich. Just have enough to live comfortably.

2 Comments:

Blogger Vous ne me connaissez pas... said...

Alway happy to read you, I had perhaps an idea for you... Just play music again with your friends, and one day a producer will sell your music all other the world !
Perhaps you are the future Boss bruce springsteen Ouhhaaa !!!! Hey! Question, have you a place somewere where I can listen to your music ?
Have a nice day ;)

1:50 pm  
Blogger MIKE DA HAT said...

Great idea but unfortunately the producers are already selling the music all over the world because it's not our music. We do covers not original stuff.
But saying that we do have a CD you can buy. It's a mere £5. £6.20 inc post and packing it's worth it just for Dels famous chicken song lasting 30 seconds.

8:30 am  

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Pissing down with rain

It's pissing down with rain and my bathroom ceiling is leaking. So I've had to put buckets to catch the water before it leaks downstairs. It's funny but my ceiling only leaks when it rains. So I'm sitting downstairs in the dark with the back door wide open so I can listen to the rain. The perfection to this moment would be one of two things. One that there was a thundestorm as well. Because I love those. And two, I was with my best friend watching and listening to a thunderstorm.
I must tell you I often sit in the dark to write with only the light of my monitor. My friends tell me they write with music blaring from their stereos. That distracts me. Yeah You know I'm a musician so I should be listening to music all the time.But that aint so. I love the quiet solitude of the night. I love the early mornings of summer when everyone is still asleep and I am all alone and the world is mine just for a short while. And you can watch the sun rise and listen to the insects waking up. The birds singing their early morning chorus. You are the only person alive on this earth. The only other time that gets close is a Sunday afternoon when a normally busy road is dead quiet and all you can here is the faint sound of the wind rustling the leaves in the trees. Maybe in the distance you can hear children playing. But that's all, for that moment it's just you in a big big world. And it's great.
The rain is falling heavier now. Out of my window I can see the gutters filling up; The drains can't take it and cars hiss by my window (The doors). I'm all alone and I love it. No one to tell me to go to bed. No one to tell me I've drunk too much. (not that I have)NO one to moan at me that I'm spending too much time on this computer. I have no one to answer too. I can do everything in my own time. It's pissing down with rain my bathroom ceiling is leaking and everything is alright with the world.
That's how it should be. Maybe one day I can share this with my best friend.
May your God be with you
Mikel

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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Charly

Tonight I had my music club and invited a guy to join us. He phoned me earlier yesterday after speaking to Richard and Abi. He wanted to play one of my showcase nights. So Charly turned up and we jammed a while. Then he started playing his own stuff. Well I must tell you he is good. His music is very good on the ears. He also told me he’d never had any lessons, which explains why he plays such strange chords which spookily enough work very well. He certainly has potential. He’s young, has a slightly operatic voice, not exactly rock and roll, but great to listen to. I’ll let you know what develops. I’m not sure you’ll see him on TV, but he has potential as a working musician. I think I’m going to have to book him as a new talent act.

I'm going to watch "The blues brothers" now. Great film.
May your God be with you.

Mikel

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

We know where you live!

My microwave engineer had a phone call today from his wife. Their next door neighbours had police vans in their yard. The door was broken down and articles removed. Most importantly a plastic bag full of white powder. The police waited for them to return and surprise surprise they were taken to the police station for questioning. Now the amazing thing is that their neighbour is a plantsman. He grows herbs and shrubs for his garden centre. Hardly the image of a major drug dealer. I asked microwave man if he had ever suspected anything. He said “No they’re regular people they have garden parties and everything. Solid citizens.”
Well it’s obvious that not is all it seems. Your own neighbour could be a pillar of society and yet be a child molester, drug dealer or criminal. Makes you think doesn’t it? It’s always the last person you suspect. It’s a scary world out there. Behind closed doors anything can happen. Fred and Rosemary West spring to mind.
Another crazy could be living next door to you and you wouldn’t know it. Peter Sutcliffes wife never suspected a thing and he was “The Yorkshire ripper”.
You don’t know about me. I could be anything. I only tell you what I want you to know. I could have some dark secrets. I could have another life and just give you this veneer of a life. I play the part of a really nice guy but do you really know? What sort of dark deeds lurk in between the lines? Perhaps you should lock your doors because I know where you live. Everyone has secrets. Even you, and you know I’m talking about you…………you know who you are, and so do I.

But I’m a musician so that’s alright then. I can’t be bad. How many musicians do you know who have turned out to be mass murderers? None. So that’s me in the clear. I will give you the exception of Gary Glitter who has a penchant for little boys, and Pete Townsend who was cleared of all allegations. Being as he was just doing “research into child abuse”.

I’ve been trying to master U2’s “With or without you”. Actually it’s an easy song. But try singing it in the key they play it. I croak. So to sing it successfully I’ve had to detune my guitar by one tone. Then play it in C. So effectively I’m singing it in B. Bono sings it in D. Although if you listen to the live version even he drops it down to C#. Here’s another thing you music lovers might not have realised. When these boy bands play, the producer almost always puts it up a key or two so the boys are singing higher than normal. This is because they will then sing more like girls. The girls love this and they tend to scream more the higher the boys sing. It’s all psychological but the powers that be have noticed this and taken advantage of the fact. It was first noticed when the Beatles sang really high, the girls screamed fit to bust. It took them a while to figure it out but now it’s common practice. So now the live version is nothing like the album version. They can’t possibly sing that high in real life. It’s all digitally enhanced. My daughter is going to see “Busted” next weekend. I will bet a weeks pay that they will be singing a couple of semi tones lower than the cd.

One day I might tell you my dark secrets. But I promise you they aren’t that dark. I’m not a mass murderer or a child molester. I don’t deal in drugs and although I’m an atheist I believe in the Christian code of life. What goes round comes round. Be nice to people and they will be nice to you. Well it sometimes works. There’s always the mad bastard who fucks it up for everyone. But that’s what you have to live with. The only trouble is you never know who the mad bastards are. Until it’s too late.

May your God be with you. Keep the faith.
Mikel


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Sunday, July 04, 2004

.....and I get paid to do this!

We arrived at the pub just as they were making the speeches, all dressed in our finest, except I was still wearing my hat. Before anyone could say anything I said “The hat stays.” How can I be Mike da hat without my hat? I guess it must have looked odd me dressed in my three piece suit and still wearing my brown leather hat. We got drinks and set about eating the sandwiches, vol au vonts, sausage rolls, chicken legs, quiche, cheese squares with pineapple chunks on sticks etc.
The groom was dressed in full Scottish rig complete with kilt and sporran. The bride in an ivory coloured flouncy bouncy wedding dress that competed for space in the small room. After setting up we retired to the beer garden to plan our attack.
“Thank you for the days” followed by “Brown eyed girl”, “love of the common people” and the REM medley. That’s as far as our plan went. We decided to wing from then. So that’s new. We actually planned the first four songs. Normally we haven’t a clue what we’re going to play until we play it. The groom came up to me and said “My best man Anton, he plays a bit of guitar, do you think he could do a couple sometime.” Oh God! You know my heart always sinks when someone says that or similar.
“I’m a bit of a musician myself.” They say in that God awful tone which doesn’t seem to have any accent at all except that it’s obvious they come from the land of dork.
Well to humour the people paying us we agreed straight away. “Of course Anton can play. He can open the second set.”
He opened the second set. Brilliant. He played two by himself. We were impressed so we kept him on stage for a few more, Eddie Cochran and Mustang Sally. Finally to rapturous applause he came off stage to be reunited with a large drink waiting for him at his table. By now I was in my normal stage gear, I was totally pissed off with the three piece suit motif, it’s just so not me. Back to jeans, shirt, boots and leather waistcoat. WE bounced through the rest of the night. Well I certainly did. At one point Tony just stopped and looked at me as I was bouncing around with my 12 string, he threw a nod to Del and grinned. Mikes off on one. Tony picked up the radio mike and started doing what he is best at. Working the crowd. He is brilliant at it. That leaves Del and I on stage playing guitars. So we’re playing and Tony disappears. He’s singing into his radio Mike but we can’t see him. Then he comes in through the back door, then out the front going round the pub I see him in the street through the window and he’s still singing, then in the back door again. He loves it. We played until gone midnight, working our way through loads of songs Irish folk songs Wild Rover, Fields of Athone rye (Yeah I’m not sure how to spell that OK) to 500 Miles and the beatles. Great night. I love it. Especially when you get paid to do something you’d quite happily do for nothing. But being paid is better. Thank you.

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