Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Taking the piss

Oi you! Yes you with the piss stains on your beige flannel trousers! Wanna make some money?

Wanna use your skills and help with a massive enviable national iconic cultural event that will be heralded down through the ages as the true beginning of the end of civilisation? Sorry, what's that? You do? Oh good! Step this way then and simply do what you do best and urinate into this tiny cup for me, write your name and number on the outside and then PISS off!


Okay, i am not re-creating some filthy golden shower scene from Pantwetters 2 - the search for Olympic Gold (wee!), but merely writing about a new 'attraction' at Thorpe Park.

The organisers are holding wee auditions there on Friday. They are looking for the smelliest urine to accompany the decomposing meat and burning hair smell, thereby really topping off the senses available on SAW the ride, because having just your sense of direction and vision assaulted is apparently now not enough.

We need to know what it feels like to actually be openly tortured like a Guantanamo Bay terrorist cast down to the sewers with the sodomites for one final test of resolve. Add to this the fact that you are vibrated and electrocuted along the way and why else would you want to leave the country this summer. Just head on down to Thorpe Park (or should I say South Park). Maybe after you've been on Saw the ride and smelt the burning hair and smelt the piss, you could eat a turdburger for dinner and go sleep under a damp canal bridge for dessert.

So there we have it - the UK's recession summer holiday 2010. If you are sad to be missing events at Thorpe Park, try not to get too jealous. Just wait until 2011 when Drunken Rape the mini-cab ride and the horrifying corridor of Youf Nyph Cryme, where you actually feel the tickle of 1000 stabbing instruments on your gentle walk accompanied by crazy mirrors which show all your wounds in a funny way will be well and truly unleashed on the public.

See you there Friday then - well actually you won't as I'm saving my shits up for the inevitable Chessington World of Adventures backlash or stashing my most violent animal porn for the UK's Most Depraved helter-skelter at Alton Towers.

PS The winner of the piss competition not only gets the honour of getting up the public's nose, but also nets a cool £500, so if you're really broke get yourself down to Thorpe Park this Friday (11am-2pm) and donate to your fellow humankind the best way you know how. Actually you better get down there for 9am - the queues are expected to be huge. And rightly so - when was the last time someone gave you half a grand for anything, let alone a ruddy bladder-relieving slash just off the soul-crushing M25? Huh? Exactly!

Fuck it, maybe I will see you there! Better still, maybe I can get a second job as a judge, considering how much piss I've smelt in my time. Now where did I put that Salty Beer-Asparagus pickle? I got half a grand to win!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Murj & the End of Live Music

Despite okaying a merger between Live Nation (who run the majority of live gigs in the UK) and Ticketmaster (who have about a 70% Ticket market share) in December, thankfully (and its not often I thank the Germans for anything except Rammstein, beer and sausages) it has been shelved for who knows how long by the complaints of by CTS Eventim, a German-based ticket seller contracted by Live Nation to handle their UK ticketing.

Sean Micheals in The Guardian of 12 FEb 2010 wrote:

If this evokes some deja vu, it is because in October 2009, the Competition Commission ruled against the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, citing its impact on CTS Eventim, which is Europe's largest ticket broker. "[The merged company] will have every incentive to inhibit a significant potential rival from entering the UK market," an official explained at the time. "[This would put] CTS's future prospects in the UK in considerable doubt."

What is the world coming to? This is not okay in the slightest, because there are idiots out there that will pay £80 or whatever they want to charge to see Liza Minelli in some soul-less arena gig and again ruin music for everyone. Its bad enough that when I do find a gig I want to go to at a decent venue in London it sells out in 7 minutes. With most tickets being purchased through Ticketmaster my chances of going are increased possibly but at what cost to the consumer and other smaller ticket agencies that rely on phone sales and walk in geek customers who don't own nor could operate a PC, ones that have done us proud over the years like Stargreen box Office in Oxford Circus? What about them? - Ah fuck it, build a mini-Tesco there and let Ticketmaster do everything online with their phones re-routed via Bangalore and the Phillipines. Who cares, its only music after all! What did live music ever do for us! Viva la Resistance!

The X-ecution Factor

It seems one can't turn the TV on these days without being bombarded by some massive twat who used to be in Brookside ice-skating the foxtrot or an ex-sportsman doing pirouettes in shiny chaps and a frilly chimmon yellow shirt. I am, of course, talking about the spate of reality/talent competitions that spawned from Big Brother 10 years ago and changed a generation of fashion-conscience teens in to a nation of untalented pop idolising dickheads.

With the odd exception - Diversity, Su-Bo, John Sargeant, Evander Holyfield it all seems such a massive waste of time. Why do people enjoy watching other people failing, I suppose its the same with soap operas and trashy magazines. They make you feel better about yourself and you're own life because you're the outsider looking into the goldfish bowl and they are the ones trapped inside begging to be set free, which just unleashes a further tidal wave of press interest. No no please don't photograph me topless on a foreign beach praticing cellulite-busting lunges with a guy I just met of the set of Emmerdale two weeks ago. I normally do this all by myself in my lounge with the curtains drawn. Oh the indecency!

It is a sad time we are living in when teenagers really do believe that Simon Cowell is not in fact the anti-christ, but a pop genius who knows all about what 'real' music is! A colleague's 15 year old step-son is so enthused about the show he apparently sky plusses it even though he watches every episode, presumably so he can go back over it and enjoy the David Lynch-esque mis-en-scene whenever he begins to reach for his step-dad's Joy Division albums without ever really knowing why! His sub-conscience has been so infused with adverts and manufactured crap that he truly believes he is a part of the 'musical genius' he is withnessing, when really he is helping to plot the downfall of Western Civilisation by not getting up on a cold January saturday morning, running around a frozen park with ten of his teammates and then going home to have a fantasy wank about Billy the winger's MILF of a mum, like we all used to do at his age. He should be ashamed of himself!

Rage Against The Machine's Killing in the Name Of which got to Xmas number 1 ahead of one of Cowell's winning X Factor pricks (which was and will be the best thing to come from Facebook ever!) was a significant slap in the face to this kind of 'entertainment', but wait, what's this - Simon Cowell has a high percentage stake in Rage's record label and benefits anyway? What a win/win wanker! Where's the fun in that? As Jarvis Cocker so fondly says: Cunts are still running the world - and it ain't gonna change any time (while there are still people who queue to go see Gareth Gates in p...p...panto!) soon, so get used to it.

There is one way I would start watching these shows is that the contestants be sent out to former Soviet Siberian Gulag camps and be locked away in solitary confinement for 6 months with rival professionals (for example - Nancy Kerrigan's trainee Vs Tonya Harding's appraentice a la Rocky IV) to practice whatever competition it is they want to win. They are only allowed an hour of sunlight a day.

They will then be flown by private jet straight to a London studio as psychologically-vulnerable yet fine physical specimens ready to do battle to the death. Once they have performed the judges vote (50%) and then the public (50%). The loser (for example Paul Danan) has to work in ASDA, Milton Keynes for a year with no pay, or he's sent back to the gulag, while the winner (for example Dean Gaffney) goes on to the next stage (say a Wrestling competition with Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior as trainers).

But here is the twist, the winning coach (ie Kerrigan) gets to X-ecute the losing coach (ie Harding) before the credits roll LIVE on TV. Think of the ratings - and the audience, the crowd will be like a Rugby one all sitting together and having a beer and enjoying the spectacle because (unlike woofter modern football) all the violence happens on the pitch and thus everyone goes home happy, rather than meeting outside for a good old rumble!

Just think what Blind-er Date would be like if the public voted for the couple they least liked out of say three who went on televised dates and that couple was then actually BLINDED on live TV. The people who are more likely to commit crimes and thus like this kind of show would never go out again, which would keep the government happy as crime and depravity drops on their city's streets a la 1984, while the good folk who are abhorred by what they see will all go out for fear of going insane with depression and buy stuff to keep the economy going! Now talk about an idyll! Until this becomes reality I will shun reality/talent shows in favour of a good old five knuckle shuffle, just like when I was fifteen and enjoying my life, rather than sordidly revelling in someone else's!

Right I'm off to meet Toni Terry for a pint and maybe more, so until next week take care of yourself...and each other, as we're all we have left!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The North / South Divide

Although geographically infinite and politically and socially at least traceable to the Industrial Revolution, it has been said that the North / South divide in England was truly and modernly exacerbated by the miner's strikes under Thatcher's Tory government of the 1970's and 80's. This is when the hard working masses north of the Watford Gap became known as Northern Monkeys (or on roadsigns as simply THE NORTH) and the gentrified class system of the south became Southern Shandy Warriors or Cockneys if they were from London (even if this shows a gap in the education - as this only apllies to people born within a mile of Bow Church in East London or post-modernly conceived at half-time at Upton park perhaps?). As i near my 30th birthday, I feel like my life is changing - gone are the serious drug-taking clubbing days and the cold beans from a can for dinner a week before pay day, replaced with a feeling of wanting to settle down, possibly get on the property ladder and being baking my own olive bread! Ok, so not exactly, but things have changed in the lat ten years and I want to figure out whether the next ten will be spent in London or is my future elsewhere, oop narth perhaps!?

That's right, this week i'm going to talk about London vs Manchester (South vs North) in terms of lifestyle, living conditions, culture etc and this could be a battle to the death. At this point, although born in London I did live in Manchester for 2 years and will try to be as unbiased as possible as I had a great time there.

Ok so first place to start would be rent/house prices and jobs:

In a decent part of London (and I'm not talking about wankers on holiday who tell you they are 'born and bred mate!' in ek-hem Orpington or Croydon) and by that I mean anywhere inside Zone 3 (and possibly Richmond) - nowhere north of Kilburn, east of Stratford, south of Balham or west of Ealing - a two bed flat would cost you £250,000+ to buy or £1000+ a month to rent. My parent's London house (although extended and renovated through the years) is now worth 8 times what they paid for it in 1983! But i'm more worried about being able to pay the bills than buying for the first time and getting my foot on the property ladder which I think is more viable in Manchester.

The National Housing Federation representing 1,200 housing associations, puts the average house price in London at £362,000, meaning as a single buyer I would require £93,000 to get a 90% mortgage at over 3.5 times my salary. The average London wage is only £4000 more than the average in Manchester, yet the 2 up-2 down terraced house in Manchester's Rusholme was worth £50k in 2005 and my rent was £225 a month including bills (a third of what you'd pay for a similar room in a Shepherd's Bush flat!) for a double room in a share house with 2 funny Welsh chefs. It was far from ideal - a few streets away from Man City's old Maine Road ground on the border with Moss Side, a 30 minute walk to the city centre. Now I live half an hour's walk to Notting Hill Gate or Paddington so pretty similar there. The problem is I don't earn 5 times what I was earning in Manchester, and I am pretty sure an administrator in manchester in 2010 isn't earning a fifth of what I earn and because of this and the fact I could rent 2 properties for the price of one oop narth, its...1-0 Manchester!

Travel and location:
Ok this is a tight one. You can get a weekly bus pass in Manchester from £5 - that's almost what it can cost you a day in London. This will get you to 70% of the places you need to go in and around the city centre and South Manchester, so not a huge outgoing. Also taxis seem cheaper too and the banter is usually better.

Manchester is within 90 mins of Birmingham, Wales, Lake District, Peak District, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and Blackpool which have some outstanding natural areas of beauty. Has good transport links including a tram. It is probably cheaper to get to Scotland too and Manchester Airport is not nearly as rammed as the London airports and is expanding all the time to serve further destinations. Also there must be less parking wardens which gives it the edge.

London is within 90 minutes of Wembley, Richmond Park, Brighton, Dover, Cotswolds, New Forest, Essex, Kent, Surrey Stamford and also some outstanding areas of natural beauty too and undoubtedly the location of Europe for low cost flights to europe and the world - however it has the dreaded M25 and can often take 90 minutes just to get in or out, especially during a bank holiday. As of now, despite constant threat Manchester has not invoked a congestion charge which I feel is just a tax on London's poorest, as congestion is as bad as ever in my opinion - thanks god for my push-bike and although expensive Public transport!

2-0 Manchester (just over the line - using a interactive and long awaited fourth official's replay!)

Ok, so Manchester has City and United (one of the best and biggest in t'world) but London has about 15 league teams, including the regime-driven QPR, the world's finest football team. Also, London has Wembley and Twickenham and Rugby Union is bigger than Rugby League (which can only be a good thing!) although this again shows the class divide! Also London has the Oval (where i was for Ashes 2005 win) and Lord's and numerous other stadia and choice which brings it out on top!


Considering that the longest it didn't rain continously for in the two years I was in Manchester was 4 days, this is a no brainer! It also once rained for 4 days straight from the Sunday evening to a Wednesday evening and I nearly got trenchfoot! London's weather can also be infuriating but it is a few degrees warmer (thanks to all the congregated bodies) than oop narth!


Culture - Ray Winstone vs Brian Potter:
Manchester has a great music scene that you feel a part of (it tranfuses the whole city) and going out is cheaper, easier and less pretentious (half of people don't even remove their parkas when they go clubbing, just like Liam and Ian Brown!). My favourite club is Sankey Soaps in Ancoats and the beer (real ale) and lyrical banter is better for what comes out of your wallet I feel! The sheer poetry of the Manchester accent does it for me. Go on Ironside you can take Winstone, ya dickhead!

However this is where it all changes and depends on your social/class viewpoint. Some would vote for London because it has unrivalled clubbing, opera, musicals, theatre, dance, ballet, comedy, gastro-pubs, concerts, museums.

You may be able to get a better and cheaper pint (3 for £4.80 in Sinclair's Oyster Bar) up north, but it's down south that you can truly do almost anything you like (money permitting) 7 days a week. In London it seems I have to put up or keep up with people's fads more - fashion, technology, dog-eat-dog, but in Manchester I feel its easier to be who you are without going out and buying the latest gadget to prove what a great guy you are - there is more a sense of community and not a keeping up with the Lord Farthrington-Joneses. Of course this is only an opinion and experience and London is a massive and diverse city so its hard to pigeon-hole. A person addicted to facebook is as sad as the next person addicted, i just feel one in London is sadder as there are literally so many other things one can spend their time more constructively on. Whether you can afford it is another thing and like most things this debate comes down to money and how you view its importance. It also comes down to whether you find having drugs delivered to your door disgusting or fantastic or whether you enjoy the smell of a stranger's armpit on a sweltering packed London tube carriage more than the smell of weed emanating from the top of the Wythenshawe to Piccadilly Finglands bus on your daily commute.

Full time whistle: 2-2 (Extra Time to be played after this commercial break)

Ok, so in conclusion then, however much you ham it up each city, each compass direction (North and South) has its pros and cons and its down to individual tastes and wallets making this exercise as pointless as our very existence in the universe!

One last thing before I go mind and regardless of where I live I ordered a CD online for my brother in law's birthday on the 28th Jan from and it arrived today, 3 days after his actual birthday. Now I know they are based in Jersey (an island of the United Queendom of course), but come on...if it's in stock, how long does it take to pluck from the warehouse, cover in cardboard and send? Certainly not a week anyway! To top it all off, they sent the wrong CD and after an arduous 10 minute phone call in the rain - partly to do with her poor spoken English and shocking reception on my/O2's behalf - it turns out I have to wait 2 weeks for another copy.

Now that's customer service...wherever you live in the UK!

When (the less of two evils) i decided to get a refund, despite todays new fangled technology etc, I received an email with a return address but no return postage. I will not receive my refund until I pay for the postage to get Biffy sodding Clyro (a band I detest and ironically wouldn't pay the price of a stamp to go see!) back to and my refund. Serve me right for being a lazy twat and not going to the shops like normal people and purchasing a copy with my bare hands I hear you cry and touche! But what has the world come to when you have to pay for other people's mistakes that you've already paid once for!

I'm such a sucker, like the number of 'last chances' I have given to Satan... sorry RyanAir because of their stupidly low fares. My point is it doesn't matter where you live in the UK, you are still going to get rode and get shoddy customer service where you are expected to bend over and take it in the arse just for wanting to be nice abn dbuy someone deserving a gift, but not wanting to go down Westfield as its full of pretentious or pyjama infested yoofs and sad orange fashonista wannabe types hanging around the Bulgari shops with their John Terry look-a-like footballer HABS (Husbands and Boyfs innit!) updating their facebook mobile pages to their celebrity doppelgangers. - you have a lot to answer for.

And as for the rest of you sorry people, leave now, go live your life (wherever that may be) and stop bothering me!

Until next time Dear reader:-)