Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The (cautionary) Winter's Tale

Once a year, after our staff Christmas meal, I go clubbing. I don't like clubbing - I just go to remind myself why I don't like clubbing. Being teetotal as your colleagues get drunker and more argumentative usually means that you have to adopt a peacekeeping role as the night wears on and this year was no different but that's by the by. Going clubbing is not my reason for posting.

This year's foray took place last night, and I was running my usual taxi service (I dubbed it 'The Party Wagon', but this epithet somehow failed to capture my passengers' imagination was we piled into my Ford Fusion). Afterwards, while waiting for a couple of my tired and emotional colleagues to stop screaming at each other and bawling their eyes out so that I could take them home, I found myself standing on some compacted ice. Conscious as I was about the lack of traction offered by my shoes, it was still something of a shock to find myself hitting the deck so quickly and forcefully. With my hands buried deep in my pockets, I had no way of breaking my fall and landed with my full weight on my ribcage. If you've never had a serious rib injury, be thankful because it's one of the most uncomfortable things you can endure. By that I mean that it's fine so long as you don't breathe, laugh, cough or move. Having a nasty cold, then, doesn't help much. I sneezed earlier and needed five minutes to recover.

Consulting some online sources this morning, it appears that there's not much you can do except to take strong painkillers and ride it out. One site suggested that relief could be achieved by applying some ice. Oh, the irony.

It sounds trite, I know - but be careful out there.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas just got good

Some very clever people are saying some very stupid things about Rage Against The Machine claiming the Christmas No.1 slot. Some stupid people too, of course, but we aren't worried about them. Most of these comments centre around the supposed irony of asking people to download a song that includes the lyric fuck you I won't do what you tell me. Oh! You've got us all bang to rights there, haven't you? You're dead right and we should all cry ourselves to sleep with shame tonight.

Or, perhaps, you should go back and locate the point that you missed because you were looking the wrong way.

If you do something without really thinking about it just because someone tells you to, you're a sheep. Downloading a piece of music as part of a protest cannot possibly fall into that category. Nobody who downloaded KITN did it without realising what they were doing. No one is now thinking 'Gosh, I was coerced into buying a track that I don't even like! They must have slipped something into my cherryade! Please forgive me Joe, you're such a nice lad and I've ruined your life!' No: people bought it because they believed in seeing real music triumph over cynicism; a song about corruption and racism triumph over a song written to help propel the Hannah Montana commercial juggernaut and appropriated by the Simon Cowell commercial juggernaut. I don't think for a minute that charity was a factor in people's decision making, but that Shelter have also benefitted is a huge bonus.

Sadly, though, some people think it's cooler to just condemn the whole thing as petty, hypocritical, cruel, vindictive or just plain pointless. Come on, think. It's none of these things. It's a huge showing of collective sanity that is very rarely seen from the British public.

Not that it wasn't funny as hell. I laughed out loud when Zack de la Rocha said: "We would like to congratulate Joe and Simon on having the number two single for the Christmas chart!"

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Faith, Ignorance and talent

Earlier this year I signed up to Spotify, which means that I now have thousands of albums at my fingertips without having to pay a penny for the pleasure, or displeasure, of listening to them. This ought to have signalled a frenzy of indulgence as I immersed myself in the aural equivalent of a supermarket trolley dash, but it didn’t. I love Spotify, but I don’t use it very much. It’s a bit like the internet in general; we all have access to information that could change our lives but, largely speaking, we’d rather spend our time on Twitter and Facebook.

Anyway, my point is that I haven’t heard very many new albums this year and I’m a bit ashamed of myself for that. The LP, as a format, is something that needs to be preserved in the face of ‘pick and choose’ downloading and I feel as though I ought to be doing my bit. Give it an airing on Spotify, then buy it if it’s any good. Easy.

Of the few albums I have heard, I would nominate Paloma Faith’s Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? as my favourite. She’s an interesting character to say the least, and the album is a belter – especially the title track and New York. She’s one of these people whose speaking voice is so at odds with her singing voice that you wonder if she’s pulling off some insane ventriloquism act, but it works wonderfully. Another album I’ve been listening to a lot lately is Brand New Eyes by Paramore. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve tried my very hardest to hate Paramore because it seems like the right thing to do but it just isn’t working. They’re young, bible thumping Americans who have all the ingredients for being exceptionally annoying and yet they have a knack of writing very good pop songs. Ignorance and The Only Exception are just brilliant. So why do I feel so dirty?

I also have to mention the race for the Christmas number one single. I’m fully behind the Rage Against The Machine hijack campaign, and downloaded my copy on Monday, but I found myself wondering today why anyone cares what is number one at Christmas. We don’t care what’s topping the chart for the rest of the year, so why should the Christmas week be any different? Well, to be honest, it wouldn’t normally bother me that much but Simon Cowell’s outburst on the issue left me with no choice. What a complete arse that man is. If he came out and admitted that he doesn’t give a shit about his artists as long they’re making him money, I’d at least respect his honesty but pretending that The X Factor is anything but a puppet show is absurd. Along with Britain’s Got Talent he’s managed to corner the market in misnamed television phenomena. Still, moaning that no one on The X Factor has ever actually possessed said indefinable attribute is pointless because if they did have it they wouldn’t have applied for such a tacky competition in the first place. The real question is how such a show can attract 19 million viewers for its final. Why do so many people enjoy watching cabaret singers doing cover versions? When I was young I always thought famous people were a different species, somehow above the rest of us, and that was how I liked it. I wanted to be impressed by the things they could do. Nowadays people seem to prefer the idea that just about anyone has the potential to be famous. Perhaps it makes them feel like they might be next? Susan Boyle has sold over four million albums on the back of the fact that she used to look a bit rough. Okay, she can sing a bit, but if she was conventionally attractive in the first place she wouldn't have got anywhere. Being a good singer isn't that unusual, after all. John and Edward (inspired name) are famous for not being able to sing. They are famous for jumping around. Well, aren't they? Stavros Flatley plumb yet further depths.

I'm not saying anything new or interesting here and I'm not trying to, but it's all a bit sad. These programmes won't stop people with real ability from doing their thing of course, but it does rather devalue their achievements. And, if it's getting easier to be famous, what incentive is there for future generations to try any harder than they need to? I just have this chilling vision of parents in 40 years' time bemoaning the music of the day and harking back to when we had 'proper' artists like Girls Aloud and Take That. Or perhaps this is what every generation says. Is that what happens? Have I taken the cheese?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Further thoughts on Project 2010

I asked, in the preceding post, for your thoughts on my next project and I'm grateful for your comments. I wasn't expecting a consensus of course, but some ideas clearly have more potential than others.

I'm quite keen on doing part two of Creative Year. It irks me a little that I never finished it, although I know that I had to stop when I did. If I were to resume, therefore, it would have to be under less pressure. Perhaps there would only be five posts per week instead of seven, and I'd definitely want to build up a buffer to avoid pulling late nighters. The only sticking point is coming up with a sufficient stock of new ideas to ensure I don't end up rehashing old ones.

The letter writing idea interests me as well, because it really could lead anywhere. There's a series called The Timewaster Letters in which a guy assumes a false name and sends out all manner of daft correspondence, but I wasn't necessarily thinking along those lines. There could be a serious point to it, at least some of the time. I quite like the idea of writing to people who wouldn't normally expect to receive letters, just to bring some light into their lives.

Volunteer work is something I'd never considered until very recently. I've always been obsessed with making some kind of artistic impression to the exclusion of everything else, but it's becoming clearer every day that fulfilment doesn't reside there. Even if one achieves success, there's very likely to follow an undignified effort to maintain it. And for what? I can't imagine myself ever sitting back and feeling sated, so it's a very odd thing to pursue. I'm coming round to the fact that creative ambition should be a passenger to, and not a replacement for, personal relationships. I need to meet more people, make more friends, expand my experience. Volunteering for something, on the face of it, appears to be a good way of doing that.

As some of you pointed out, there were other things on my list that can be dropped in here or there without necessarily turning them into a project. Or they could just be combined as part of something else. In any case, I feel rather more positive about things now which is a decent starting point.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Project 2010

I have decided that I would like to do something significant, interesting and fulfilling in 2010. Unfortunately I have left it rather late to start the decision making process, and I'm not very good at making decisions anyway, so I thought perhaps you guys could help me out. Come on, it'll be fun!

Some things I have ruled out:

  • Pasta collage (lacks scope)
  • Flower pressing (could go a bit flat)
  • Learning to play the harp (probably wouldn't work with offcuts of 4 x 2 and some fishing line)
  • Finding love (too ambitious)
  • Carving a miniature chess set from mice teeth (hard to source supplies)

Some things I am genuinely considering:

  • A visual (comic strip) journal
  • Poetry
  • A novel
  • A year long letter writing campaign with no particular agenda other than to see where it takes me
  • A year of doing kind things for people
  • Volunteer work
  • Changing my name and pretending I'm someone else in a futile attempt to escape the unbearable drudgery of being me
  • The New Trash Radio almanac of rare vinyl recordings
  • A series of short films
  • Actually using the camera equipment I spent £3,500 on
  • Finishing Creative Year

I think that covers the most plausible options. My problem is that I cannot make up my mind, sometimes relinquishing what previously felt like firm conviction at the drop of a hat. And I don't even own a hat. So, if anyone would care to offer an opinion I'd be very interested to hear it.

What the hell should I do next year? You decide!

[Applause. Fireworks. Everybody waving. Credits. Voiceover announcing that Songs of Praise is running five minutes later than scheduled.]

Friday, 4 December 2009

Emergency dialogue

I had to call an ambulance this morning for a work colleague. It was more of a precaution than anything else, and I should point out that he's going to be fine, but I'd never dialled 999 before. I naturally expected the operator to be helpful, because that is their job.

His first question was obvious. 'Can you give me the full address of where you are please?' Now, when you give someone an address over the phone in normal circumstances, you read it out one line at a time and wait for them to write it down or type it in. When they've done it, they give you an affirmative noise to indicate that you can continue. That's normal, right? I'm not just being stupid? So I told him the first line of the address and paused for his affirmation. It was a long pause. Bloody hell, I thought, they ought to employ faster typists for emergencies. Eventually he just repeated: 'Can you give me the full address of where you are please?' Ah. Perhaps he hadn't heard me. That would explain it. I gave him the first line again and paused once more. A couple of seconds later, he said: 'Can you give me the full address of where you are please?' At this point I just thought he was some kind of idiot so I said 'Would it help if I gave you the postcode?' Clearly not. His reply was: 'Can you give me the full address of where you are please?' So, as requested, I blurted it all out at once which seemed to work. But would it have killed him to engage in normal conversation? All he had to do was say 'yep' after I'd started telling him and I would have continued. Or he could have just told me there was no need to pause. Something to gently steer me into union with his needs. Am I not right about this? If it had been a more serious matter and I was stressed and agitated, I think I'd have found it very frustrating.

So, Mr Ambulance Man, I think you ought to realise that people only call you when they need help. It's not something they do everyday and they aren't necessarily familiar with your methods. It would therefore be quite useful if you could make it easy for them instead of reading through your list of questions like a fucking robot. Thanks.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Please don't label me

The British Humanist Association's 'Don't Label Me' campaign starts today. I have produced the artwork for a few billboards scattered around the country, including this one in central London (photo stolen from the Facebook group).

The eagle eyed among you may have spotted a passing resemblance to a certain bus advert. That's because I'm a mindless automaton and it's all I can do as I dribble into my lap and wildly wave my arms around. Anyhow, there's more information on the BHA's website if you're interested.

This year has seen my artwork adorn buses around the world, tube trains in London, T-shirts, car stickers, badges, giant animated screens, a book cover and now some 36m2 billboards - and yet the combined excitement that these events have generated within me is roughly equal to having a nice cup of tea. Which proves, to me at least, that if something has little creative value then it will always be unfulfilling, no matter how many people see it.

A reassuring motivator.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

I think I know exactly what you mean

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Badge-wearers gallery

Well I asked for photos of you wearing your New Trash Radio badges, and boy did you step up to the plate. These past few days have been a little hectic while sorting through all the photo submissions but finally I can bring you the best received so far. Sorry if yours didn't make the cut, but I think you'll agree that the following people are far more important than you are. Keep 'em coming though!

First up is crazy go-getter Konnie Huq, pictured here at an envelope opening last week. Konnie was the only person to cut round her badge neatly, which probably isn't surprising. 'I asked an adult to help me!' quipped the often sparingly clothed ex-Blue Peter presenter.

The next photo is actually a 'spot' by reader Dorothy Wigg, who noticed Radio 2 star Terry Wogan wearing the badge as she was queuing to get her book signed in the Wakefield branch of Waterstone's. "I finally got to the front after waiting for six minutes and the first thing I did was mention the badge. 'Trash Radio!' I shouted, but I think he misunderstood and snapped: 'Well I doubt you could do any f***ing better.' It was a bit upsetting actually."

Following his party's conference in Brighton the other week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent me this snap taken backstage. 'Until my remaining eye packs in, I can assure you that I will remain a faithful reader. I trust, in return, that the Labour Party can count on your vote in next year's general election.' Er, sorry Gordon. Thanks for the pic, though.

Pint sized painted lady, popstrel and paparazzi magnet Cheryl Cole found time in her busy schedule of applying makeup and smiling to send in this photo. 'Me an wor Ashley love New Trash Radio and think it's dead canny like, LOL!' she enthused in her email.

Finally, an unexpected submission from exalted Nobel Peace Prize winner and, to a lesser extent, leader of the free world Barack Obama. 'It would make my day to be featured in your gallery,' he wrote. 'At least I know I'm in the running for that one.' Well Mr President, I'm happy to oblige. Peace out.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The must-have accessory of the autumn

Following barriejohn's request, here is a special badge that you can all print out and pin to your clothing with pride. If you wouldn't mind emailing me a picture of yourself wearing it, I'll put them all in a special gallery assuming that there is room on the server and that Blogger's bandwidth can sustain the heavy demand.

Close encounters of the turd kind

A bloke wandered into my office last week asking for directions to Bentwaters air base. I’m normally rubbish with directions (as I’ve explained before),  cheerfully sending people miles in the wrong direction before realising my mistake, but this time I was pretty confident given that this particular air base is, to use a hackneyed and often inaccurate term, a stone’s throw from where I live. I was sitting at my computer so I helpfully pulled up a Google map for the rather rotund chap who had a northern accent and clearly wasn’t from this carrot crunching part of the world. Then he got a bit weird.

“Can you zoom in on the airstrip?” he asked. I was confused, but humoured him. “I’m looking for the ridges in the tarmac,” he continued, “where the UFO shot out its laser beams.” Oh. He was one of them.

My home village of Rendlesham is the location of Britain’s most ‘credible’ UFO sighting in 1980, and tourists still come to look at the site. It has, of course, been fairly conclusively debunked but the conspiracy theories persist and countless books have been written on the subject. 

“I really don’t think you’ll find anything,” I said.
“Oh, the ridges are definitely there. The UFO created them to stop any other aircraft from taking off and pursuing them. I’ve been researching the Rendlesham UFO for months now and the whole thing has clearly been a massive government cover-up.”
“I take it they forgot to cover up the ridges then.”
“You shouldn’t doubt it,” he continued, with a look in his eyes that seemed to pity my naïveté. He then enthused: “I’ve driven over 200 miles just to see the place.”
“Well, let’s hope you didn’t have a wasted journey,” I offered charitably. He was about to leave but then stopped at the door.
“Did you say you live near where it happened?”
“I don’t suppose you’ve ever noticed anything strange, have you? Like feeling dizzy or being unable to account for long periods of time?”

I was going to make a crack about drugs or alcohol but chickened out. He was bigger than me. “No.” He seemed to realise at this point that he was flogging a dead alien.
“Just do yourself a favour and read the books,” he grinned, before stepping outside and being zapped skywards by a blinding shaft of light.

But, you know, that could have been anything.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Chris de Burgh ate my bandwidth

Lately, as you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit reticent about writing anything of substance on this blog. (Graham, you’ve never written anything of substance on this blog.  Sincerely yours, The World.) Mainly it’s through fear of saying something ridiculous, which these days isn’t so much a risk as a given, but now that my neglectful behaviour has shaken my readership down to about four people, I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter what I say anymore. This page gets fewer hits than Chris de Burgh these days, and doesn’t even have the halcyon era of Missing You to dine out on.

This post, of course, won’t break the ‘substance’ barrier either. I still have nothing to say. I could plug The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, out on October 1st, but I’m guessing that anyone looking at this already knows about it. Probably more than I do, since I haven’t got round to reading it yet. But, just in case you don’t, it’s a compendium of 41 contributions written by intelligent and prominent atheists, and one fairly dull contribution written by a lanky dullard. The dextrous application of a craft knife on page 277, however, will remove the latter and turn a tainted tome into a perfect present. Order it now for the valuetastic price of £8.44 from a quaint little online retailer called Amazon.

In other news, I have been writing my Last Will and Testament. I have no particular reason to expect my life to conclude in the near future, but it’s one of those things you can keep putting off and then regret when you’re being clubbed to death by a well meaning but overly officious car park attendant. I can recommend it, it’s fun – deciding how much money to give people, which of your manky possessions to bestow upon bewildered new guardians, and stipulating non-religious funeral directions in bold upper case to avoid embarrassing choruses of How Great Thou Art as your cardboard coffin awaits interment. I’m not sure how specific you’re allowed to be, though. Would it be inappropriate, for example, to insist that everyone wears a clown wig?

“Look, I’m not wearing the fucking wig. End of story. He was only joking.”
“It’s his dying wish!”
“Do they make them in black?”
“No, it clearly states that fluorescent pink, orange or green are the only admissible colours.”
“Whatever. I’m only wearing mine for the shortest time possible.”
“So is this a bad time to mention the make-up?”

I’ve been pretty busy with other stuff too, but nothing that warrants a mention.

Incidentally, if you’re only reading this because you searched for Chris de Burgh, I’m sorry that you’ve been misguided. In both senses.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Maintain radio silence

Friday, 18 September 2009

It is all new and it is all good

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Making a neat pile of my teeth

This booklet was floating around at work which reminded me that I really ought to update this blog. So here I am, updating with scans from the very same booklet. It's genius, but inconveniently happens to bear a striking resemblance to laziness. But I do not need to worry about these things - you are intelligent people and can tell the difference.

I may have supplemented the dialogue in a few moments of boredom.

Anyway, sorry for being a slacker with my updates. My excuse is that I've been busy trying to figure out what to do with the remainder of my life, a problem I've been wrestling with for some time now. This is my current shortlist:

  • Do something really great

The eagle-eyed reader might have spotted [snip!]

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Making a mess of things

I had a complaint in the office yesterday that one of our workmen had made a mess of a carpet in one or our client’s rental properties. “You may care to train your operatives to use dustsheets!” said the customer, haughtily. By way of placation he was assured that the matter would be investigated fully and that those responsible would pay with their lives. Or possibly something a bit milder; I forget.

I later collared the employee in question but as I was berating him he pointed out that the culprit was in fact a tiler who had been in over the weekend. My man had left the place spotless on Friday afternoon and found the floors covered in dried tile adhesive when he got there on Monday. Aha! A perfect ‘pass the buck’ scenario, since the tiler had clearly been employed separately by the client and was nothing to do with us.

The client was called. “In fact,” he was told in Columbo style exposition, “the blame appears to lie with the tiler you had in over the weekend. He must have been a really sloppy worker because he’s made a hell of a mess and, according to my man on site, his workmanship leaves an awful lot to be desired.” Bingo! Blame apportioned, other tradesman denigrated, my firm’s reputation restored. We’re the good guys.

There was a pause. Clearly he was swallowing his pride in preparation for making a deserved apology.

Actually,” he growled, “I did the tiling myself.”

Sunday, 9 August 2009


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Get out of hell free

Look what I found!

Don't worry, I have hastily applied for my Heathen Certificate to annul it, but it did set me wondering about what the purpose of this document might be. Are people supposed to carry them around just in case they're ever accused of not partaking in a pointless ritual when they were too young to have any opinion on the matter? Do you have to flash them at the door before they let you into church on a Sunday, with the vicar playing the part of the sarcastic policeman?

"Left it at home, did you sir? How many times do you think I've heard that excuse? Step out of the building please and keep your hands where I can see them."

But really, what's the point of it? If I had died in my cot the following day were my parents supposed to wave it in the air like a winning lottery ticket exclaiming: "It's okay! It's fine! We got a deluded man to splash water on his head so he's not going to hell!"

Sorry you wasted your time, Edgar.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A post post post

Back in 1997 I was convinced that the World Wide Web was a very nasty thing indeed. If it were a person, it would be the kind of person who would pull wings off butterflies and microwave gerbils just for the hell of it. I foresaw only negative consequences for what was then a small but growing force and decided that I was going to remain haughtily aloof and have nothing to do with it. As its momentum built, and URLs started to accompany mainstream advertising, I feared for a world that would depend on interaction with VDUs and felt that personal relationships would suffer irrevocably.

I had over 20 penpals at the time. I'd return home from school and spend almost every evening fashioning endless ambitious epistles to my gathered group of faceless friends. I never asked for photographs; it wasn't important. A few were sent unsolicited, but for the most part the appearance and demeanour of my chosen communicants was revealed only by their hand written words over time, like the door to a beautiful walled garden slowly creaking open in a summer breeze.

Without a computer or the desire to own one, I filled pages of A4 refill pads as my biro struggled to keep pace with all the thoughts and questions that my stimulated mind was suggesting. I used carbon paper to make copies of each missive, carefully cataloguing them to keep track of what I was saying to whom in order to avoid repeating myself. A loner then as I am now, it was a way of escaping the walls of my bedroom and tracing my fingertips over the seams of these people's lives, looking for ideas and presenting my own.

There was a news story at the time about the rise of email and how fewer letters were being posted. It was suggested that to counteract this, emails should require virtual stamps before they could be sent, or that a daily limit should be imposed. Good, I thought. Make them suffer. Make it as inconvenient as possible. The internet advocates scoffed at the idea. They had nicknamed the postal service Snail Mail, which made me seethe. I mean, you could post a letter in Plymouth and have it arrive in Edinburgh the following morning - as far as I was concerned that was miraculous. And it wasn't a digital facsimile, fragmented into binary code and impersonally reconstructed at the other end; it was the actual paper I used, embossed with the tactile strokes of my fervent pen. It was thoughtful. It required more effort, which afforded it greater value. I vowed that I would never send a email as long as I lived. Do you remember those reply cards that they used to put in CDs? You filled in your details and they sent you information about forthcoming releases from the artist in question. Most of them asked for an email address in addition to the other information and I took great pleasure in writing NEVER across the space provided. It was a feeble stand, but I enjoyed taking it.

I can't remember what changed my mind, but over the months the number of penpals began to drop. We had shared what needed to be shared and the time span between letters eventually turned into realisations that I would never hear from an individual again. No fanfare, no eulogy, just silent divergence. I purchased my first PC, a Pentium II behemoth with 64Mb of RAM and a 10Gb hard drive that the retailer assured me I would never fill. He was right. I just used it to type up a novel I had written in longhand. I could see the benefit in that. However, a couple of years later curiosity got the better of me and I purchased a modem. Wise men examine both sides of the coin before assessing its value, I reasoned, but soon I saw that my misgivings were an embarrassing misjudgement that I would have to bury and pretend I never held. Ahem.

The point I was going to make, and from which I have meandered quite a distance, is that communicating is a lot harder for me these days because it's easier to do it. I still have the copies of those old letters and if I flick through them now I'm surprised at how vibrant and inventive I was. I still keep in touch with three of those old penpals, two of them exclusively by post, but the letters I write now don't have the same sparkle that the old ones have because I've fallen out of the habit. All the effort I put in back then is what makes it appear so effortless when reading now. That feeling of reaching outside my bedroom that I used to get has become so accessible and commonplace that of course it is taken for granted, but it would be nice to get it back.

Obviously I'm a fully paid up advocate of the internet these days. Somehow I fragmented my luddite self and reconstructed my code into something more nerdlike. But I'm glad to have grown up in a time when the only common forms of communication were landlines and letters; it gives me a sense of purpose and deliberation to remember, acknowledge and aspire to.

Monday, 3 August 2009


I drew this last week and, since it's often nice to share things, I thought I'd post it.

What has she seen? I don't know. Any ideas?

Sunday, 2 August 2009


You may be aware of the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. Between 6 July and 14 October it is playing host to Antony Gormley's One & Other project, where successful applicants can spend an hour being a living exhibit.

One such applicant was Andrew West, who today took the atheist message to the masses by teaching them the moves to Michael Jackson's Thriller. I took these screengrabs from the webcast.

As you can see, Ariane was leading the dancers and it was all very enjoyable until the dreaded cherry picker arrived to take him away. I haven't seen any of the other 'exhibits', but clearly this has made the entire project worthwhile. Good work, Andrew!

Edit: I have subsequently realised that the whole thing is archived here, which rather trumps my screengrabs.

Bobby Robson

I went to Portman Road yesterday to see the tributes to Bobby Robson. I didn't start supporting Ipswich Town until after his departure - I was only five when he left to manage England - but a glance at the history books is all that's required to see what an incredible job he did for us. There have been a few good times since but nothing to compare with the decade under his command when we were right up there with the best.

It didn't start well though. In his first three full seasons we finished 18th, 19th and 13th in a 22 team top flight. Fans called for him to be sacked but the board gave him their backing. Would this have happened in the modern game? Probably not, but such is the value of patience. Over the next ten seasons we finished 4th, 4th, 3rd, 6th, 3rd, 18th, 6th, 3rd, 2nd and 2nd. And while the 18th place was an aberration, winning the FA Cup that season was pretty good compensation! The UEFA Cup followed in 1981 (back then a more prestigious competition), and but for an unjust FA Cup semi final defeat and a paper thin squad required to play 66 games, we could have carried home the treble. Those were, indeed, the days.

So it's no surprise that the people of Ipswich have such great love and respect for Bobby Robson. He earned every bit of it by making a small town club into a genuine force in European football.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

This is New Trash Radio

Oh dear. He's done it again. Why must he tinker so?

It's okay. I think I've settled now. There are a couple of reasons why I decided to start again (again). The chief of these is that I am now officially a New Man. Not in the sense of wearing pink shirts and waxing my chest, but in my general outlook and specifically the way in which I think of myself. It was pointed out to me that in my former blog I was getting increasingly self-deprecating to the point of enormous tedium. This will no longer happen because, all things considered, I've realised that I'm not so bad. And if you're reading this you probably agree with that to some extent and so there's no need for any gratuitous negativity. I thought it might be hard to adopt this new outlook but in fact it has been effortless, which just makes me wonder why I resisted it for so long.

The other reason for starting again is that the old blog was rubbish. Before you raise your hand, that's not needless self-deprecation - it's just a fact. I had no inclination to update it because it looked so bad, but I think you'll agree that this is a great improvement. I might even risk blowing my own brass instrument by saying that it kicks arse. Modifying Blogger templates isn't easy or enjoyable, but it's worth the effort.

Finally you may be wondering why it's called New Trash Radio. Will it primarily contain posts about trashy radio? Or trash and radio? No and no, but you shouldn't let relevance get in the way of a good title. Especially when it took three days to come up with it. That said, with its more welcoming appearance, I hope that I will feel inclined to improve the frequency of my updates. (Frequency. Geddit?)

Don't touch that dial!