About Me My Teenage Years

My Teenage Years: 11

When I was a kid, I used to fall in love with a different girl practically every week. In fact, I used to keep a frequently-updated list of all the girls at school that I fancied, ranked according to how much I fancied them at that particular moment in time.

Fortunately, such documentation was long ago lost to landfill. However, it would be a shame to forget that it had ever happened.


In my day, at least, when schoolchildren start secondary school at 11 years of age, they become different people overnight. They move from an environment where they are surrounded by 4-11 year olds to one where they are surrounded by 11-18 year olds. I am aware that in this modern world, children are exposed to bad influences at an increasingly early age, but back then sub-11 year olds were innocent and naive, and acted like, you know, children.

While all the other children were embracing this new, mature environment, for some reason I was at the back of the line. One reason may have been that I was resisting this change from “big fish/small pond” to “small fish/big pond” and assuming, in my naivety, that if I stayed still then the whole world would stay still around me. Dumbass.

Another reason could have been Stephen. Allow me to explain.

Meander Peril

Be glad that it wasn’t an earwig

A Shield bug flew into my dad’s ear today. At first he tried to broggle it out with his little finger, but upon examining it myself I told him that the thing was trying to get out, so he should just let it. Lo and behold, the shield bug found its own way out and plopped down onto the pavement, where we could examine it further.

However, there’s a reason why shield bugs are also known as “stink bugs”. When discombobulated, they release foul-smelling aldehydes from glands in their thorax. In this case, my dad was left with a fierce-smelling left ear.

Good times, good times.

Music Parenting

A Minor

It makes me proud, unhealthily so, that Bernard is absolutely enthralled by my guitar.

When I bring it into the room to play him a short gig, he noticeably perks up. As I play, he listens intently. And when I am finished, and I lean it against the coffee table, he keeps watching it.

The guitar seems to exert a curious magnetic force upon him too. If I pick him up and suspend him in the air, his body twists towards it, with his legs stuck out at funny angles for balance. He will also lunge towards the headstock if it is in ((the string of words “if it is in” looks funny)) (or near) grabbing distance, which is a move that needs blocking due to the existence of six sharp ends of wire.

Who knows what he’ll be interested in when he is older. I’m not going to deter him from doing what excites him, assuming that it’s legal and wholesome ((This word has all the wrong connotations, but I haven’t got any better ideas)). But I can’t deny that I have a vested interest in music.

Note to self: in future, if Bernard *does* show an interest in learning to play the, oooh, let’s say guitar, then bear in mind that he won’t be very good, initially. Be supportive, you big oaf. I suppose this applies to all of his endeavours.

*Other possible titles for this post:*

* *Off-White Room*
* *Crapping On Heaven’s Floor*
* *Baby Got Neck (ow, let go of my jugular you little scrote)*
* *My Baby Just Cares For Breasts*
* *While My Guitar Gently Pukes On Something*


Shaggy Blog Stories

Mike‘s plan to raise money for Red Nose Day is to compile a book (real thing, paper, once trees, ink on it) of funny blog entries. An anthology, if you will.

If you want to contribute, go here to be briefed.

I’m in. Are you?

About Me

Things that I did too much of, and too little of, at University

Too Little Radio

I got into Student Radio in the third year, and in retrospect I wish that I hadn’t left it so late. When I arrived at the University and was considering what societies to join, the radio station did cross my mind, but I decided against it for two reasons: firstly, I didn’t think I’d be any good at it (yeah, pathetic, I know) and secondly, my belief that playing the bass was all that I wanted to do. As a result, I only really got heavily involved in two societies: the one mentioned above, and the Band Society. Which I suppose should be:

Exactly The Right Amount Of Bass Playing

On a positive note, through the University’s Band Soc I joined a band called *Siamese*. Okay, we weren’t the greatest band on campus, but we weren’t bad at all. Over the course of our three years together we played 17 gigs and recorded a 3-song CD in a proper studio, and had a boatload of fun. My bandmates were thoroughly decent chaps, though our drummer Chris did get a bit violent when drunk. All in all, most satisfactory, and I wish that I’d immersed myself more deeply, rather than always pining for my band back home.

Maybe Too Much Time On The Computer

Though I had been on the Internet once or twice before, University was my first full-on exposure to it. I think I spent a lot more time on Usenet and IRC than I really had to, especially in the first year. At the time, it didn’t seem like a problem, but in retrospect it was basically time wasted. On the flipside, I do find myself wishing that I had started a blog back then.

Too Much Time Chasing The Wrong Girls

I’m not sure whether this is relevant here, because it’s actually been a curse of my teenage years, rather than specifically my time at University. Basically, I didn’t have a very good idea what I wanted from a relationship, so I wasted too much time pursuing leads that were doomed from the beginning. Had I known then what I know now, perhaps I wouldn’t have been as lonely.

Too Much Computer Games

In my second year, I used to come home at lunchtime to play *Tomb Raider*. Even if I had just two hours between lectures, I’d get on the bus, come home, spend an hour playing, and then get back on the bus into campus. Tragic. Fortunately, this problem was localised to the latter part of the 2nd year, and I had the whole thing under much better control in the third year.

Too Much Time Spent On That Dead-End Society

I’ve mentioned this before, and I see no need to repeat myself here. It’s obvious that the time that I spent as President of that society was entirely wasted.

Too Much Ranting About My Housemates

In my first year, I lived next to a guy called Matt. We got on really well, and became the best of friends. Halfway through the first year, there is a frenzy when everyone makes their plans for accommodation for the next year. Matt and I decided that we’d get a place together, and we didn’t care if we ended up paying a little more than if we’d shared with more people, ‘cos it would be the most kick-ass bachelor pad ever.

However, there was one other chap on our corridor, called Henry, who was clearly struggling to find someone to live with. Foolishly, we took pity on him and invited him to live with us. However, this plan spiralled out of control, as he, in turn, took pity on a girl on his course who was struggling to find someone to live with.

Matt and I spent most of the second year complaining at eachother about Henry and Jenny. How his poor personal hygiene, coupled with the fact that he never opened his window, meant that a stream of warm, putrid air seeped out of his bedroom whenever the door was even slightly ajar. How when Matt walked through into the sitting room every morning, Jenny would be sat watching *The Big Breakfast*, and this doesn’t sound too bad but when it’s every single day and she’s always sat upright in the same chair and she’s silent and motionless, it starts to get creepy. How Henry had a tendency to make a lot of noise around the house late at night, banging doors and plugging things into wall sockets in a very loud and bangy way. Yeah, I know, it’s all really petty stuff, which is why I wish we’d spent a bit less time getting worked up by it.

Too Little Time In The Bath

In my third year, I discovered the joy of taking a pint of Guinness and a harmonica into the bath on Sunday afternoons. In retrospect, I wish that I’d discovered it sooner.


I think that I did a pretty good job of balancing time between work and play. However, I then pissed my play time up the wall. I came away with exactly the degree that I was looking for, though looking back on the relationships that I formed and the way that I developed as a person, I’m not sure that I achieved as much as I could have. Though, at the end of the day, I matured a lot as a person and I had a bloody good time (in years 1 and 3, at least), so maybe I got everything that I needed.

Music Music reviews

Recent Listening Episode IV

Here’s what I’ve been listening to since [23rd October 2006][].

[23rd october 2006]:

The Information **The Information** by *Beck*

I’m coming to the realisation that *Beck* was all about *Odelay* for me. Ever since then, I have listened to each subsequent album less and less. *Mutations*, *Midnite Vultures*, *Sea Change*, *Guero*… they taper off gradually. Not in terms of quality, necessarily, just in terms of how much attention I have given them.

I think it all dates back to when I was at school. I rewrote half a dozen of the songs off of *Odelay*, substituting his nonsensical lyrics with my own bat-shit crazy bollocks, probably about pencil cases and bunsen burners and something like that. This gained me some small amount of notoriety from three people. This directly led to Craig and I writing songs about masturbation and Santa Claus on my dad’s acoustic guitar, which led to us buying electric instruments, which led to us forming a band, which led to us recording an album and playing a gig, which led to more gigs, which led to… you get the picture.

Yeah, this is a very roundabout way of saying that I haven’t listened to this album much. Sorry.

Jarvis **Jarvis** by *Jarvis Cocker*

A bit disappointing really. Though some songs are superb (*Black Magic*, *Big Julie*, *From A To I* and *Fat Children* which bears a lot of resemblance to the work that he did with *Relaxed Muscle*), most of them fall into the category of being quite un-unmissable. The two songs that he wrote for Nancy Sinatra (*Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time* and *Baby’s Coming Back To Me*) also sounded much better on her album, and I don’t think he has done himself any favours by rerecording them here. Still, I’m glad that he’s back, releasing albums that I can listen to instead of faffing about with *Harry Fucking Potter* films and co-writing on obscure projects, which is admittedly probably very creatively satisfying for him but it flies beneath my radar a tad.

The Milk-Eyed Mender **The Milk-Eyed Mender** by *Joanna Newsom*

On the basis of hearing *The Sprout And The Bean* I expected to like this album, but I guess I was wrong. However, this was actually a Christmas present to Karen, so my opinion isn’t really important.

No, hold on, this is my site and my review, so you could argue that my opinion is of paramount importance.

I think that some albums hit you straight away and some grow on you gradually, and this one has the potential to grow. However, I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm to listen to it.

The Pick Of Destiny **The Pick Of Destiny** by *Tenacious D*

Listened to it once, wasn’t paying attention. I think that my time for *Tenacious D* may have passed. In time, my enthusiasm for their debut album waned, and I think that the nature of their project means that a new album won’t necessarily restore it. What do I mean by “the nature of their project”? I mean that they seem to be more character-driven than plot-driven, and so when you are tired of Tenacious D it is because you are tired of the characters, not the music.

Still, I have a great deal of respect for what they do, crossing the boundary between music and cinema in a way that few achieve. I think that Jack Black is awesome, and I probably enjoyed Nacho Libre more than is healthy.

Real Life **Real Life** by *Joan As Police Woman*

I was almost certainly in love with *Joan Wasser* before you were. Back in Spring 2005, she was accompanying*Rufus Wainwright* on tour, both as a member of his band and as his support act. Without a doubt, I have never been more captivated by the support act in my entire life. It was a display of intimacy and intensity that made my heart bounce off the walls of my chest cavity. She made me forget about Rufus entirely. Anybody who knows how I feel about Rufus will understand the significance of that.

Though this is an exceptional album, sadly it does not inspire the same emotions in me as that concert did. For example, *We Don’t Own It* sounds like the same song that she played that night, but it clearly isn’t, because the song she played that night sent shivers down my spine.

But it’s a great album, especially *Eternal Flame* (no, not a cover of a fucking Bangles song) which is, in my opinion, perfect.

Gulag Orkestar **Gulag Orkestar** by *Beirut*

I first heard of *Beirut* [back in May][] and was most impressed. When this album made Hg’s [end of year chart][], I figured that they could no longer be ignored. I find it refreshing to listen to, because I’ve always considered Eastern European music to be too far removed from my comfort zone to be enjoyable. Yet this album seems to straddle the divide, presumably because of its heritage ((made by an American who travelled)), and so listening to it makes me feel like I am expanding my horizons without making me want to run for them. Unlike…

[end of year chart]:
[back in may]:

Life In Cartoon Motion **Life In Cartoon Motion** by *MIKA*

More like *Life In Satan’s Underpants*, and I don’t mean that in a *The Devil has the best tunes* sort of way. [See here][] for my earlier review of this album, in which I feel that I have said everything that needs saying. This CD has received a new lease of life as Bernard’s new shiny shiny toy. I passed it to him and said “Now take good care of that,” safe in the knowledge that it would be unplayable within no time at all. Breathe a sigh of relief.

[see here]:

Neon Bible **Neon Bible** by *Arcade Fire*

Not as instantly catchy as *Funeral*, but a worthy follow-up regardless. Surprisingly, the music seems to draw a lot of influence from *Bruce Springsteen* and *Echo And The Bunnymen*, which should illustrate that this isn’t just a cheap rehash of the songs on *Funeral*, but a fresh creation from a band who are clearly going somewhere. However, like *Funeral* there is a theme that recurs throughout this album, and that theme is religious fundamentalism, and those who use their religious beliefs to bully others into submission. It’s a bit of an *issue du jour*, and I wonder whether it will affect the longevity of this album, but then there will always be religious nutbags so I guess probably not much.


Naughty West

Everyone knows that credit card companies hate people (like me) who pay off their balance in full, every month.

Though I could set up a direct debit to pay my credit card bill, I’ve never got round to it. Instead, for the last few years I’ve been manually logging in to NatWest Online Banking once per month to do it manually.

Recently they’ve introduced a new feature ((perhaps it was there all along, I don’t know)) to simplify this process. Instead of having to remember how much your last statement was, there is now a new screen which prepopulates this data with the balance of your most recent statement, as well as giving you the following options:

Payment Amount And Date

Yep, the default option is “Pay the minimum amount”.