It feels wrong that by attempting to play a malformed ((not physically – I mean in terms of the data on it)) disc, it should be possible to crash your DVD player, to the point at which the on/off button does not work, and the only way to get the disc out is to pull the mains lead out the back and put it back in again.

However, I made a discovery this evening.

The mind boggles. Bring back mechanical on/off switches.


Not the evening that I had in mind

So, I’m a big old fool who broke his toe earlier and has subsequently spent the entire evening in the waiting room at the hospital, along with his poor long-suffering wife and child.

But I was witness to the best game of Snakes and Ladders ever, which I absolutely must tell you all about.

Two young boys, I presume brothers, approached the king-size S&L board painted on the floor in the waiting room. Well, technically the older one dragged the younger one by his sleeve, but that’s just a detail really.

The older brother announced “Right, I’m 11, so I move 11 squares. 1, 2, 3…” and so forth until he was stood on square 11. He then moved up the ladder to 14. “…and you’re 4, so you move to 4.”

He reached across to his brother, grabbed his sleeve, and manhandled him onto square number 4.

The game continued, each turn the older brother advancing by 11 and the younger brother by 4. I wasn’t paying heaps of attention, but I was aware of the older brother when he hit the final square and still had a few steps left to take, so he backed up a few squares.

Then it struck me – to get an exact landing on the final square from 11 paces, the older brother would have to be moving from square 11. And that square had a ladder on it that led to 14. It was absolutely impossible for the older brother to win.

My wry smile turned to a grin when I realised that his younger brother was currently 4 squares back from a ladder which led to square 18. In two moves, the younger brother would land exactly on the final square.

And so it came to pass. The younger brother couldn’t believe that he had won. The older brother couldn’t believe that he hadn’t. After all, the whole game was stacked so that he’d win, right? 11 against 4? How could it end up like this.

The Snakes are a fickle mistress, yes, but do not assume that the Ladders can do you no harm.


The Bathtime Routine

I usually walk through the door at about 6:15pm, and take a tired, miserable, drooling baby out of Karen’s arms. I bounce him for a few minutes, which usually is enough to give everyone in the house a little smile for a while. Then, at 6:30pm, it is time for Bernard’s bath.

I take him upstairs and deposit him in his cot while I start the bath filling. He amuses himself with a ladybird or flower while I do this. Then I return to his room, and transfer him to the changing table to undress him. He’s quite ticklish, so this usually degenerates into giggles.


Break The Peg (Diddle Iddle Iddle Um)

The band

The band in question, on the date in question.

I finally got round to replacing the broken tuning peg on my guitar. Five years, three months and seven days ago, when the band were round at the windmill jamming with the Hoff ((no, not David Hasselhoff. I’m talking about a guy who was the Hoff long before David H was a twinkle in his parents’ eyes)), my dad borrowed my guitar for a quick strum or eight. He turned round too quickly, bashed the headstock into a cymbal or something, and cracked the tuning peg which fell off its stalk.

I superglued it back together, but it never really gripped the stalk as tightly as it should, and had a tendency to fall off at most inopportune moments. It’s a miracle that I never lost it altogether.

Old tuning peg

I was in the music shop looking for guitar string polish, when I saw a pack of six Gibson-style tuning pegs on the wall ((you can’t buy them separately, which is probably one of the reasons why I never got round to replacing it before)) and decided that since I am no longer a poor student, I can probably afford £13.99 for the sake of getting it sorted out at long last.

See if you can tell which is the new one.

New tuning peg

Music Original Music


I’ve been feeling the distant aroma of inspiration for the first time in years.

This is a song that has been brewing over the last few evenings, and once Bernard was bathed, and Karen’s mug of camomile tea on her bedstand ((incidentally, dear, we’re out of camomile tea. I’ve left the box out on the side)), I hermitted my way into my new Man Cave and surrounded myself with a warm blanket of leads and plectra.

The quality of the end product betrays how little I’ve been practising lately. This one comes from the only-one-shot-allowed school of vocals, and it wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for a particularly windy ‘P’ that ruins everything. Mea cauliflower.

I call it “Man”, due to a little line that crept into my ear and demanded inclusion. I think the thought process that caused this was White Russian => Big Lebowski => line in question.

Uhm, what else? I think that’s about enough. Listen to it now.

(mp3 no longer online – email me if you are interested)


First gym visit in some time

I went to the gym tonight, for the first time in a while.

How long is a while, you ask? Well, here’s a clue. I approached the counter, and handed my card to the soulless zombie behind the counter. “Gym, please.” I polited. She swiped the card.

“Braains,” she responded. Not really, what she actually said was “Uhm, you do realise that your account has expired?”

I felt that a “no” was implicit, so I didn’t say it. However, I wasn’t really surprised. I had had an inkling. It had been a while, you see. And I keep promising to tell you how long a while, but I never do. Sorry. Hang on in there.

“When, exactly?” I thought about asking. So I did.

She looked at her screen briefly. “Eleven oh eight?” she asked. This is not normally a question, but on this occasion it was. I assume that this can be explained by the presence of a silent “wtf?”

Clearly she wasn’t talking about 11:08am this morning. I assure you, nor am I. Now you start to get a picture about roughly how long a while is.

“Ah,” I said. And for good measure, an “eeeh” and a “hmnmm” and a “braains.”

Paused for thinkage.

“I don’t actually have my credit card with me, so I can’t renew right now. How much would it cost me to go in as a non-member?”

Tippity tappity chrunk klakkata. “Six ninety five.”

“I don’t have that on me either. Is there any… way… kinda…”

“Give me five ten and renew next time you’re in.”

And we’re in.

Inside the gym, I hop on a bike and manage about eight minutes before combined boredom and exhaustion fell me, so I wander off to do some pumping of the old ferrous. At some stage, I find myself in a corner, many metres away from anyone else, with a small bubble worming around in my colon.

The coast is clear. I can get away with it. Gently, I allow the bubble to depart from between my buttock cheeks. It emerges stealthily, like a ninja. However, much like the Spanish Inquisition, it has the element of surprise on its side. What it lacks in volume or grand entrances, it more than makes up for in maliciousness. It is, in a word, ferocious.

At this point, I spot a fellow gym-goer coming my way. “Oh no,” I moan internally. My brain starts performing calculations that involve inverse square laws, not that it would make any difference to the outcome. I say a silent prayer for the poor woman who is walking into my cloud of doom.

My salvation arrives in the form of a couple of moderately well built yet hideously ugly young men, who also choose to patronise my corner at that moment. I play both sides against the other with deft use of facial expressions, making it clear that though they may be suffering, they have no idea what I myself am going through, being as I am much closer to the despicable perpetrator. My cunning ruse works, and the rest of the session passes without incident.

And then it is time to walk home. I realise that my favourite aspect of going to the gym is the walk there, and the walk back. It gives me an opportunity to be well and truly alone, that kind of solitude that can not be attained in a shared office or with someone in the bedroom upstairs. It gives me a chance to do some aimless thinking, which there hasn’t been enough of between these ears lately. My brain drafts this post, and delivers it with a wink.

In The News

Your Monday Challenge

> Police officers in Staffordshire have been working in shifts to pour 2,500 cans of beer and hundreds of bottles of spirits and champagne down a toilet.

Firstly, read all about it here.

Then, see if you can think of a better way of disposing of all these alcoholic beverages. Leave your ideas in the comments.


Woohoo! NaNoWriMo!

“Great,” thought the lonely mug tree, “just when I thought I’d got the measure of this kitchen, they go and mess it all up again.”

He paused.

“Fuck,” he added, to make sure that anyone reading his thoughts would garner the impression that he was mature enough to know how to swear, but not hoity toity enough not to. Plus, he wanted to court controversy, and secretly wanted his thoughts to be banned.

Just then, a very heavy lorry trundled down the small residential cul-de-sac, rattling the windows and agitating the neighbourhood pussycats. The mug tree was startled by the event, and found himself bounced millimetrewise closer to the edge of the formica.