I just discovered the Star & Garter and now it has to close so I hope you’re happy you corporate bastards

SG - Building

From the outside, the Star & Garter on Fairfield Street in Manchester looks dark, dingy, rickety and slightly foreboding. It’s the sort of venue you could imagine yourself being thrown out of unconscious, straight back in to the gutter from which you erstwhile had crawled. It looks like a place of rich history and untold debauchery, the sort of place which causes you to vomit uncontrollably on your shoes just from looking at it. In short, it’s everything you want from an indie venue.

I’ve not actually lived in Manchester for that long, and despite a brief stint in a band back in the noughties during which I had the pleasure to play at many a similar venue, I had never actually been to this one until I booked some tickets to see a couple of bands one Thursday night. So myself and my good friend Tom met after work to begin a short tour of Manchester drinking establishments ending with the Star & Garter and a date with two fine US bands and Bad Tripe faves, Joyce Manor and Cheap Girls. We made sure that we drunkenly accosted every member of the bands for photos and we also forced them to read this esteemed blog, which I’m sure was a real treat for them.

As soon as we entered the venue I liked what I was seeing, it’s just a traditional boozer downstairs, so traditional in fact that it’s been used as a set for a number of TV shoots. Try to picture in your mind if you can; a pub without tastefully exposed iron girders wrapped in fairy lights, no blackboards displaying local handcrafted, artisanal delicacies and absolutely bereft of retro computer games or ping pong tables. Instead what you have is a pub, as (I’m told) pubs used to be, with a bar, a pool table, some normal tables and some seating. A small alcove at the back contained a trestle table which displayed the bands’ rider which consisted of ham, jam, crisps and bread, all the essentials apart from beer. It’s a pub though, as I keep saying so beer was available.

Rick&Tomphoto 5

Upstairs is where the live music happens and true to form and my expectations this was nothing more than a dark room with a small stage. The walls are completely black, although it’s impossible to tell whether they’ve been painted, papered, or whether they are in fact just made of black. For those of you who enjoy a slightly obscure literary reference the décor, or lack thereof brings to mind Mark Z Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves’ (look that one up you fuckers).  Slightly terrifying were it not for the friendly people, excellent live music and beer.

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Now during the course of the night we had learned via Twitter and from speaking with fellow punters within the venue that the Star & Garter is facing imminent closure, to make way for a planned extension to Manchester Piccadilly Train Station. This came as a blow as I already felt a connection to this place and I did not want my first visit to also be my last. By the end of the evening I had accosted the Licensee Andy Martin and was drunkenly slurring at him that I would be the one to tell the world about the plight of this historic venue via the medium of my excellent writing and surprisingly, he politely agreed to indulge me and gave me his number. I awoke the next day and immediately stayed in bed until 1pm and did not attend work. I called Andy though and got round to meeting up at the pub the following Monday.

Rick&Barry

The first thing we discuss is his view on social media, “I fucking hate Facebook” he tells me. He goes on to explain that he put up a post about an upcoming gig at the Star & Garter and it received about 20 likes and 3 shares. Later that day he posted a picture of what he had found whilst cleaning the car park at the rear of the venue; a used condom and an actual human shit, possibly the work of a “multi-tasking prostitute.” This tableau of bodily expulsions, he exasperatedly explains, received over 100 likes and a fuckload of shares . Point made I suppose.

Getting down to brass tacks and Andy begins to talk me through exactly what is going on at The Star & Garter. The pub stands on the site of the former Mayfield Train Station which is just over the road from Manchester Piccadilly. Mayfield has stood dormant since 1986 but the land on which it stands, and this includes the Star & Garter, is owned by shady, greased up corporate bastards London Continental Railways and after doing nothing with it for the last 30 years, they’ve now decided they want it back. This is all part of Network Rail’s proposed £560million Northern Hub wankathon which has been backed by Manchester City Council.

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There’s been a few different options presented in regards to work being carried out at the site but it looks like what will happen is that Fairfield Street will be closed for up to three years. This means that the Star & Garter would be forced to close down for the duration and then reopen right next to a dramatically redeveloped railway station, Hell they’ll pretty much be on the fucking tracks by the looks of things. Now at this point I was thinking, ok – just agree to close down, and wait while the real estate value of the place quadruples, then sell up and move to Tahiti. Unfortunately, Andy tells me, no dice because the building is Grade II listed, it’s stood for nearly 200 years and most of what the business makes goes back in to the upkeep of the building itself. The likelihood is that after 3 years the place will have gone to rack and ruin and London Continental could grasp it between their bony, mishapen corporate claws for next to nowt. If they did buy it now then the owners will not even break even on what they’ve put in over the years and to make matters even worse, Andy lives there! London Continental, the bastards, have yet to confirm if he would even be allowed to be a sit in tenant while the work was carried out so it’s bad news whichever way they turn.

Smile

Basically it looks like the place is destined to close, which is a terrible shame as it represents part of Manchester’s heritage which is rapidly disappearing. I recently attended, with my day job hat on, a conference called the Manchester Manifesto which was a debate on what the people of Manchester want to see now that Devolution has been granted. The panel included three MP’s all of whom, at one stage or another, started banging on about Manchester’s cultural contribution to the UK, specifically mentioning the Hacienda and Tony Wilson in a feeble and ill-advised attempt at gaining credibility. I know I play the “I used to be in a band I’ll have you know” card a lot but by Christ, watching politicians doing it fair turned my stomach. I put this to Andy and his response sums it all up perfectly, “The Hacienda’s been turned in to flats and Tony Wilson’s been dead for almost a decade, don’t get me wrong though, lovely fella.”

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The Star & Garter obviously means something to many people; it represents the hardest way up and the quickest way down with its DIY ethos, and spirit of independence. And there’s nowhere in the world more Indie than Manchester, or at least there didn’t used to be. The club is famous for its renowned Smiths Disco night, and also the Smile club night which used to be widely mentioned in NME and the like as one of the best nights to attend in Manchester. I think these days most people head to the Northern Quarter for such things and tend to avoid the faeces and hooker ridden back alley of Fairfield Street. It’s no coincidence that the Star & Garter has been a massive staple of the Punk scene over the years. Andy proudly tells me of the time Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks dropped in to catch the UK Subs show (who actually played in December I think). A quick online search throws up details of anti-BNP and anti-fascist meetings being held at the pub way back in 1987 which must have been the start of the relationship with the DIY punk scene. They also host a monthly LGBT night, the brilliantly named ‘Club Bollox’ which offers “something different to the usual security blanket of gay scene clubbing.” Not something which I’ve been actively searching for but hey, I’d give it a go. YOLO.

The reason that sub-cultures like these exist is really quite simple; not everyone likes the same stuff. Some people would actually rather look at a picture of a used condom and a human shit than yet another glass fronted Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, the author enjoys a nice latte on a long train journey but if there’s one thing I like more it’s getting drunk as fuck and watching awesome bands. Please let it continue.

@ricketywhite

https://www.facebook.com/StarAndGarterManchester

https://www.facebook.com/bolloxclub

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Things I miss about being in a band

spinal tap

Don Draper sums it up best in that awesome scene in Mad Men when he says that the word ‘nostalgia’ literally means a pain, associated with a memory. It’s an ache for a time you wish you could revisit, if only for a little while. Well played Don you really nailed that one.

That’s how I feel when I think about my band Boy Called Roy, possibly the greatest band ever to have lived on planet earth and definitely the most talented, sexiest and hardest group of young men ever to pick up an instrument, that’s a matter of historical fact.

On my way in to work this morning I was listening to the new record from a young band called Marmozets and by Christ, it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s hard to put in to words exactly what makes a record good. Good lyrics, good melodies, good production, good riffs all play a part but really what makes me love, rather than just appreciate a record is when you can hear the passion and the love that the band clearly have for their music and for each other. These kids are only 18 and they’ve put everything they have in to making this wonderful record, without letting anything stop them from doing what they want to do.

Now I’m not saying we could take Marmozets in a battle of the bands, no fucking way could we, but we did have that spark, that slightly chaotic energy that makes music fun and a little unpredictable. Listening to them really took me back. We made songs which we thought were amazing and it didn’t really matter to us what anyone else thought of them, which was probably for the best! Anyway here’s what I miss, starting with the boys in the band.

Nicky Kurs

Nick

Instrument: Guitar

Skills: Accents, hiding, fighting

Likes: A good cigar, colourful trainers, scrumpy jack

Weaknesses: Cushion based OCD

I first met Nick at the infamous Ballard Hall, halls of residence in Sheffield. He was wearing a Wu Tang Clan sleeveless hoodie and greeted me by calling me a “fucking northern monkey.” I assume he meant it as a term of endearment as we remain friends to this day 13 years later. Nick’s role in the band was primarily lead guitar. I enjoyed the fact that he steadfastly refused to learn the actual song as a whole and would only actually know his individual lead guitar part. He never played guitar purely for fun either, only when we were doing band stuff.

Adam Halvorsen

Ads

Instrument: Drums

Skills: Eating, choke-slamming, parenting

Likes: Chablis, pork, drum & bass

Weaknesses: Sink puker

Again, I met Adam in halls at the same time as I met Nick. When I first arrived at halls I was a bit disappointed because all the people I’d met seemed a little bit safe. Adam and Nick were sharing a room to begin with and I wandered past it one night and saw Adam spinning some D&B on his decks at a horrifically antisocial volume whilst swigging a clearly expensive Chablis straight out the bottle. I immediately decided that Adam and Nick would be my friends. Adam is really great at eating. One night at a party some poor fool had passed out and left an entire curry sitting out on the side, rice, naan, sides, the works, Adam was straight on that. The guys mate pathetically tried to stop him by saying, “don’t eat that, it’s his breakfast.” Adam’s response, “your breakfast? It’s my dinner sunshine, give it here.” Still makes me laugh to this day.

Steve Dickey

steve

Instrument: Bass Guitar

Skills: Maths

Likes: Maths, cocktails, death metal

Weaknesses: Diabetes

Steve joined the band slightly later after Adam started working in a shoe shop with him. Steve is a clever little fuck and was doing maths at Sheffield Uni. He ended up not only getting a first but also getting the highest degree mark that anyone at Sheff Uni has ever actually got in maths. It took him a bit of time to settle in and he described the rest of us as, “a complete bunch of wasters.” It’s a good job we had Steve as he was definitely the most organised, both musically speaking and in general life.

Rick White

Rick

Instrument: Guitar, Vocals

Skills: Exceptionally gifted chef, ruggedly handsome but in a friendly accessible kind of way, musical genius

Likes: A good hearty stew and a pint of ale

Weaknesses: Lazy, moody, forgetful, can’t really sing

Me, the author, obvs. I started the band really. It was my idea and I found us a rehearsal room so we could get started so I take all the credit. I used to write the basic song structures just as chords on the guitar and then I’d take them to the boys and they’d become something different via a lengthy process of fighting and bickering. I wasn’t the original singer though, that role was thrust upon me due to a series of incidents and being the only band member who knew all the words to the songs (I can’t lie too much I still wanted to do it, I’m an incurable show off). The original singer was this guy :-

James Fairclough 

Jamie

Instrument: Vocals, harmonica

Skills: Talking at great length on any subject, lyrical genius

Likes: Political debate, whisky, pizza

Weaknesses: If you put him in a straight jacket in a padded cell he’d still manage to make a mess and get lost.

I don’t use the term ‘flawed genius’ lightly but here we have one. I met Jamie at a party and liked him immediately. He sounds like Boris Johnson and looks like a beat poet. We started talking and I said I was starting a band and he said he was a singer. So I picked up a guitar with only four strings and told him to sing something and to my surprise he just started, in front of everyone. Singing his own crazy, imaginative lyrics which were almost like spoken word. His confidence amazed me, once we were rehearsing above a kebab shop and the owner came upstairs to tell us to, “shut the fuck up.” Jamie was halfway down a bottle of Jameson and retorted with, “you can’t stifle the creative process man!” He ended up leaving the band after a series of musical differences, he was the archetypal lead singer.

One of my favourite memories of jamie was when we were on stage playing a gig and I looked over at him trying to smoke a cigarette, drink a beer, sing in to his microphone and take his jacket off all at the same time. Legend.

So that’s the boys, here’s what I actually miss!

Rehearsing at Kurs Manor

Kurs Manor

Nick’s parents, Paul and Marcella Kurs are originally from Czechoslovakia and came over to Britain in the 1960’s. Together they started the family wine business. They import great wine, mainly from France and Paul will also help collectors to put together a portfolio. They live in a big old awesome house in Hertfordshire, which has a number of out buildings which include two wine cellars and an old stables and this was where we used to rehearse. As you can imagine it was fucking brilliant. Marcel cooks like a fucking maniac and after a weekend of rehearsing it was a matter of principle that we all sit down for a four course meal on the Sunday, this would be accompanied by a range of fine wines and lively debate. If you’re going to sit around the Kurs table then you better fucking well learn to have an opinion and quick! If you go to bed early Paul will say, “OK, good night pussy.” Marcel always takes an interest in what you’re doing with your life and will tell you straight if you’re making a mess of it. Some of her one liners are incredible, a personal favourite was when she asked my ex-girlfriend if she was pregnant. She was just fat.

Rehearsing at Kurs Manor was always a pleasure. I’ve got so many great memories of that place and quite honestly Marcel and Paul basically kept me alive for a while by supporting both Nick and myself through his final year of Uni. I’ll never really be able to thank them enough.

Recording at 2Fly Studios

Smyth

This incredibly handsome man is Alan Smyth. He’s basically the Grand-Daddy of the Sheffield music scene, he’s recorded everything decent to come out of the city including Pulp, Long Blondes, Arctic Monkeys & 65 Days of Static. We recorded all of our demos at 2Fly studios which is basically just a very small shed on an industrial estate. Before we first went in to record with Smyth we were speculating as to what he might be like in person and for some reason Nick, having never actually met him, did an impression of him with a Scottish accent, introducing him thusly, “There’s 3 things Alan Smyth likes to do boys; drink Cinzano, eat pussy and make fucking fabulous music.” As it turned out he didn’t say anything like that and he wasn’t Scottish but he did come out with some belters. Every time we asked him to change something on the record he’d say something like, “I know. I’m five steps ahead of you, always.” To do our first demo we spent two 12 hour days in 2Fly studios during which time Alan didn’t eat any actual food, he just survived on black coffee, cigarettes and extra strong mints.

I don’t think he loved our music but I like to think he quite liked us. He told us that he’d never met a band with four egos the size of ours and that he didn’t actually produce our songs he just pressed record and then let us fight it out amongst ourselves. His exact words were, “You all think you’re the best, you all want to be in charge and you all want to be the lead singer.” He was dead right.

The last time we recorded at 2Fly we took a flip chart with us in a bid to be more organised and record our progress and note down what we still needed to do. By the end of day two the flip chart contained nothing except drawings of phalluses and a detailed sketch, drawn by Nick of a woman (he claimed it was my Mum) resting her tits on a tray.

Playing gigs

gig

To be quite honest, playing gigs was often more trouble than it was worth. It takes quite a large amount of organisation and man hours to get four people and a load of equipment to Derby on a Tuesday night to play to an audience of five people and an Alsation. If it weren’t for the cheap beer and two for one sambuca shots we might as well needn’t have bothered. BCR gigs were always quite unpredictable, someone would usually break a string or forget the whole song and we also had a habit of playing all of our material as fast as we possibly could. 1,2,3,4 GO!!! This, combined with the often terrible sound quality at small live music venues meant that sometimes it was just a slightly bewildering experience for the audience. Sometimes though, when it went right it was fucking amazing. We always had an energy and a good presence on stage. We always gave it everything and people seemed to like that we weren’t the most accomplished musicians in the world but  at least we didn’t just stand there trying to look cool.

The first gig we did with me as the singer was a good one and was summed up by this amazing reviewer :-

“The frontman drawls his way through a tight set of upbeat, catchy numbers which accompany his infectious and impossibly large grin. It’s a smile so ample that the guy’s head looks like a honeydew melon with a segment hacked out of it.”

– Gigwise 2005

http://www.gigwise.com/reviews/9048/friday-300905-a-cult-called-karrianna-a-boy-called-roy-@-in-the-city-dry-bar-manchester

I was quite pleased with this review even though Nick did call me Melon Head for about 2 years.

The Creative Process

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Generally speaking what happened was, one of us had an idea, a riff, a few chords, a bit of a song and would present it to the group, usually caveated with a small speech along the lines of, “It’s not finished, and I only wrote it in like 5 minutes and I haven’t really got any lyrics for it yet…”

Then we’d all have an argument about how the rest of it should go. This was usually accompanied by some top class bantz like this classic exchange:

Adam:  “Nick that guitar part is making me want to vomit everywhere whenever you play it.”

Nick: “Your face makes me want to vomit.”

And so on and so forth. You had to stand up for your ideas, especially if it was a song you’d written. What we’d usually do is try it one of two ways and try to reach a consensus on which sounded better and go with that, once a decision had been made it could never be changed!

Our other issue was that we got bored quite easily, this used to infuriate the hell out of Steve in particular. We’d write an amazing opening to a song, then we’d do the verse and then we’d cobble together a chorus and then we’d go, “I reckon that’s pretty much done! Verse, chorus, end. Job done.”

If we didn’t do this then we usually ended up complicating it beyond belief which usually involved Adam doing thirty different drum beats in one song, curated by Steve and his mathematical brain going, “OK, 4/4 beat for four bars then it’s double time for half a bar then it goes in to disco beat for eight bars then go on to the ride for 4 bars then back on to high hat for two bars then it’s half time for one bar then back to disco beat then the breakdown then the end.”

Pretty difficult to remember especially given the industrial volumes of cannabis we were fond of smoking.

drumming = not easy

drumming = not easy

Being your own gang

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This is what being in a band is really all about. It’s you lot versus the world. The best moments aren’t playing gigs and looking cool and pulling loads of groupies (‘cos that certainly NEVER happened). It’s the moment when you finally nail that new song you’ve been working on for ages and everyone gets it right all the way through for the first time. You feel a sense of triumph that you and your ragtag bunch of mates have managed to create something together out of nothing. When you reach a point where you feel confident playing together and you get your instruments sounding good, there really is no better feeling, it’s fucking magic! Then once you’ve done it, you don’t really care if anyone else hears it, just as long as you’ve managed to record a tinny version of it on to a CD which you can listen to over and over again for the rest of the night and enjoy.

I had a chat with Adam the other night and we both said how much we miss it and how we took it for granted at the time. You can’t go back though, it was a perfect little moment in time which none of us will ever forget. Nick used to record a lot of our rehearsals on his video camera but the footage has disappeared. Adam swears that some of it is on the hard drive of a now defunct computer which may or may not still be in his shed. What I wouldn’t give to sit down and watch a bit of that. Maybe in another 10 years.

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The Bad Tripe guide to the seven stages of life

FAMILY_GUY_DEATH

If, like me, you’ve never actually died then you will probably have found yourself in the unfortunate predicament of getting older with every passing year. This can be a tad depressing sometimes as the long never-ending conveyor belt of life transports you steadily and methodically towards the swinging industrial scythe at the end of it all. It doesn’t matter how health conscious  you are, how many marathons you run or how many acai berry and spirulina smoothies you force down your neck without retching, you are going to die eventually, maybe a lot sooner than you think so you better make the most of it. Of course this is a rather morose way of looking at it, life after all is to be lived. We live in a wonderful world full of good stuff to savour and enjoy; good friends, family and all of the experiences and events that enrich our lives and help us to develop as human beings and acquire deeper knowledge as we grow older. We’re also lucky to live in the developed world, everything might be ridiculously expensive and a bit of a ballache but if you’ve ever contracted dysentery from drinking the poisonous water that you had to walk 10 miles in the blazing sun to get then you probably wouldn’t be moaning about the state of public transport or the price of a pint of Stella, it’s all relative after all.

The problem with getting older, and with life in general is that we all fall in to the trap of comparing ourselves to other people all the time. I think it was the Dalai Lama who said, “Don’t compare yourselves to all those cunts on Facebook cos those cunts probably aren’t having as great a time as they constantly make out.” That’s not the exact quote.

It’s not just social media though. We all have idols, people who we admire and look up to, people who have achieved things in life which we ourselves would like to emulate. When you’re young, all of these people are older than you so you can almost convince yourself that you could follow in their footsteps. As you get older though you slowly start passing all of these people by and realising that you’re never going to do what they’ve done, you’ve missed that window, so you start looking at people older than you and thinking well they’re five years older than me, there’s still time! Or, hell if I look like that when I’m fifty-five I’ll be pretty happy, just need to get a personal trainer and a nutritionist and stop smoking and eating domino’s pizza in bed and save up to get liposuction and a facelift and a hefty amount of cosmetic dental work and I should be fine. Thank God!

Anyway, I thought I’d have a look at people from different generations who I look up to just to try and come to terms with what I’ve missed and what I still have to aim for, maybe we can all take some comfort from what’s about to happen, here are the seven ages of man.

Below 20

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I literally cannot even think of a single person below the age of twenty. Hermione Grainger? Fuck knows. I think this proves that I am now old. If I, at the age of 31 feel completely out of touch with the youth of today then God knows what it must be like for parents with teenage children trying to understand the vacuous little fuckers. I do know that there’s a new breed of famous young people called Vloggers and that quite frankly, this phenomenon is too terrifying to delve in to fully. Just do a quick Google search and you’ll undoubtedly be just as horrified as me by what you see. These little fuckers basically film themselves talking absolute shite about girls or makeup or just any rubbish that comes in to their minds that they think is funny, they put it up on YouTube and they get a million likes and then they get advertising revenue as a result and someone hands them a book deal and their own TV show. It makes me physically sick. At my school this kind of behaviour would quite rightly have earned you a vicious changing room beating and guaranteed that whatever video you filmed of yourself would be replayed over and over again as a source of ridicule, these days it’s lauded as creative and innovative and people give them money! The selfie is bad enough, when slags first started putting pictures that they’d taken of themselves all over Facebook I used to think, “How do you think this is ok?” Then it became perfectly normal and acceptable. Now it’s gone a step further and it’s perfectly fine to film yourself talking about nothing or editing together videos of yourself doing some ridiculous “comedy” skit alone in your room!! And this is supposed to be ok? Well it’s not, it’s appalling and I for one am glad that I am nowhere near the age where people think this is cool. Teenagers should just stick to drinking cider, fingering each other and playing sega megadrive and inhaling cans of lynx deodorant through a sock, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

20 – 30 

Ronnie

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, age 29. Born and raised in the grease mines of Northern Portugal, Ronnie refused to talk until he was 17 years old and instead communicated using only his feet and the shame of his vanquished enemies. Some say he was raised by a family of Unicorns and that his hair has magical healing powers. As a youth he perfected his skills by swimming underwater for huge distances and diving to alarming depths, while he was submerged under the waves he would kick sea turtles right out of their shells, that’s how he got so good at free kicks. Ronnie came to Manchester at age 17 and was trained by an insane Scottish maniac in the fine art of staying on his feet, something which was always tricky in the grease mines and not required underwater or whilst gliding across the plains on a Unicorn. Once he’d mastered this new technique, Ronnie became the perfect physical specimen and the best football player the world has ever seen. Apparently only eight teams in Europe have scored more goals than Ronnie this season which basically means he could just start his own team with only him in it and he’d still probably win. I’ve watched him grow and destroy all in his path, and I know that he’s achieved more in the physical world than I ever will but there’s a sadness here. Ronnie has achieved all his dreams by a very young age and his career as a footballer will actually soon be over. What will he do then? It’s said that Alexander the Great once looked across his empire and wept as there were no more worlds left to conquer, I wonder if that’s how Ronnie feels when he’s bathing in Mazola and burning his money? Probably not. Still I won’t lose too much sleep that I’m never going to be as rich or as good at football as Ronnie.

Fun fact; I once sent a tweet to Ronnie when I was drunk which read, “Come back to Manchester Ronnie, everyone loves you we saw you at the airport and tries to finger you.” I only saw it a few days later and still have no idea what it meant, I’ve never seen him at an airport.

30-40

Ryan Jarman, formerly of the Cribs and now of Exclamation Pony

Ryan James Jarman, age 33. I absolutely love Ryan Jarman. The Cribs are one of my favourite bands and the one band I’ve seen live more than any other. 30 – 40 is my age range now and this is where it starts to get a bit tricky. You start desperately looking around for people who are older than you but are still cool. Once you’re past the age of 30 your physical condition starts to deteriorate, that’s just a fact of life, you’re past your physical peak, if you were a footballer you’d most probably have retired by the time you get to Ryan’s age which is a scary thought. By this age, youth and vitality is no longer your key attribute but you can still be cool I think. I know I’ll never be as cool as Ryan but I do believe that 30 is more like the new 20 these days (I have to believe that!) and that actually you can be at your coolest in your 30’s which is a comforting thought. As long as Ryan Jarman is still cool and older than me I’ll be quite comfortable with being in my early 30’s I think. Ryan is in a band which effectively grants anyone the gift of eternal youth. He can wear ripped jeans, converse and a vintage leather jacket for ever and ever and still look great as long as he’s got a guitar and still makes great songs. I work for an IT & Telecoms company specialising in cloud ready networks designed for growth. Slightly less cool and if I turned up to work wearing jeans and a ramones t-shirt instead of a navy blue suit and a tasteful overcoat and scarf combo I’d probably be fired but I can still try and be cool in my own time. Nowhere near as cool as Ryan Jarman but slightly edgier than Prince William. I’ll take that thanks.

40 – 50

john niven

John Niven, age 46. John Niven is my favourite writer, go and check out his books. Like me, John used to be in a band when he was younger, then (unlike me) he went on to become an A&R man and apparently turned down the chance to sign Muse and Coldplay before sacking it all off to become a novelist. Once you get to the age of 40 you really have entered a new stage of your life. You’re well past your physical best, some people will cling to youth and well being by sticking to a constant diet and cycling ridiculous distances week in week out but let’s face it what is the point? You’re never going to be that cool either unfortunately. You can no longer go around dressed as a scruffy drug addict and expect to look cool and edgy because you’ll actually just look like a sad old tramp (unless you’re in a band – remember band trumps age every time). Being poor is no longer romantic or funny, you’re expected to wear nice shoes and be able to pay for nice dinners and holidays and even children, you’re expected to be a man. So you’re not cool, you’re not fit, you’re a bit of a moody old Scottish bastard with a bit of a paunch, what can you do? Use your brain, that’s what. And work bloody hard to try and achieve something. You don’t have to be skinny and in a band to be creative and make interesting stuff, you can use your brain, or what’s left of it to really try and do something which matters to you, whatever that may be because this is make or break time really. Many people float through their twenties completely oblivious to everything and still clinging on to dreams that are never that likely to happen. Making it as backing dancer or a DJ or a footballer or a hand model or a visual artist, the list is endless and it ain’t going to happen for most of us! So we drift in to a career that does nothing for us except pay the bills and then we get pigeon holed in to doing that same thing forever. At some point you need to try and break that cycle and the only way to do this is to use your brain and do some work, that’s what the youth of today will never understand, your brain just can’t handle the concept until you get to at least 30, probably 35 I reckon.

50 – 60

brad-pitt-ftr

Brad Pitt is 50, thank fuck for that! He looks great, he’s totally awesome in every way and that makes me not have to worry because I’m way off being 50! I’ll have to live two thirds of my life again before I get to Brad Pitt’s age, it’s so far off I needn’t worry about it. Except for the one fact that every year seems to go by that little bit quicker until I imagine you get to the point where each year seems to go by in the equivalent of about a week in your twenties. I wonder how old Brad Pitt was when he couldn’t imagine himself being 50, bet it seems like not that long ago to him now. Fuck.

60 – 70

The Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese at 'Shine the Light' Movie Premiere

Keith Richards, age 70. Rock ‘n’ Roll’s very own zombie grandfather Keith Richards is obviously completely big time. Keith is actually 90% tar and survives by sleeping for only two hours, once a week in a vat of pickled gherkins. He keeps his youthful complexion by plastering the cracks in his face with crab paste and by keeping his heart rate down to only one beat every three minutes. Just look at Keith! Do you think Keith ever worries about his cholesterol? His internal organs? Dying? Does he fuck. Do you think Keith ever eats a superfood salad for lunch and goes for a walk with a goji berry and wheatgrass protein shake? Fuck off does he. He eats heroin for breakfast and smokes cigarettes in only one drag. He laughs at the youth of today with their M-Kat and their cocaine made from 95% washing powder and their skinny jeans and stupid haircuts and their atrocious identikit tattoos. He sits in an old leather wingback armchair all day with a telecaster and a pint of the finest scotch like a creepy stinking old wizard.

I’ve skipped a whole generation really by going from Pitt (50) to Keef (70), there’s a whole 20 years in there where all sorts of stuff is possible and that is where you should be kicking back and starting to really enjoy everything you’ve acheived in your life, maybe you’ve banked some cash, maybe you’ve had some kids, maybe you’ve made a decision to move to a different part of the world. Whatever it is, this is the time of life where you should just enjoy yourself and hopefully not have to struggle too much. We’re all given three score years and ten so technically Keith has had his time but if you can make it to this age then you’ve done well and might as well just continue to do whatever the fuck you want. I hope I can be like Keith when I’m 70 years old, I’d sooner trade places with him than some dickhead Vlogger any day of the week.

80 – 90

dame-edna-everage-barry-humphries-taking-over-adelaide-music-festival

Barry Humphries, age 80. Fuck it, you’re old. Just do whatever makes you happy. This will probably be me aged 80!

So there you go. I don’t think getting older is that bad as long as you enjoy it as much as you can. I think the trick is to just keep doing stuff. As soon as you start doing nothing then that’s when you’ve become old. Of course I don’t consider myself to be old at all, hopefully I’ll have lots of experiences to come both good and bad but most importantly I hope they’ll be interesting and help me to learn more stuff. I never realised until very recently that working hard on something is actually a good thing and I’ve only just let go of the belief I held for much of my life which was that the world owes me a massive favour, it does not. I’ve already been granted that favour by being born, I may get run over by an elephant or crushed by a falling piano tomorrow or any of the days to come but until that happens (and that is how I’d like to go) I’ll continue to try and enjoy life even with all of it’s ball breaking drudgery and criminally over-priced pints of Stella.

Cheers

prom ibiza wedding

Getting older = Not that bad

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How to quit your miserable job and become a dolphin trainer in six easy steps

dolphin-main

This is a subject that’s concerned me for a number of years now; how exactly do you train a dolphin? I know that a lot of people think it’s quite cruel to take one of Mother Earth’s most beautiful and fascinating creatures, remove it from its natural habitat, confine it to a woefully inadequate approximation of the great ocean from whence it came and force it to do tricks for the amusement of obnoxious tourists but let’s just park that debate for a second, that’s not what this post is about. This is about how to take an unfortunate anthropological development and exploit it for your own personal gain which is a far nobler topic of discussion I’m sure you’ll all agree.

I once witnessed a dolphin display first hand at a sea life centre in Valencia and I was stunned beyond belief as well as a little bit scared if I’m honest by how clever these friendly marine mammalia were. How do they know when to jump? How do you get them to do it in the first place? What if they get it wrong? Can any dolphin make it on to the team or are there some that just don’t get it? As far as I can work out they do it for the fish, it doesn’t seem too difficult for them, they’re clearly very intelligent and as long as they get a fish they seem really happy. If dolphins ever extend their collective ambitions beyond the immediate consumption of fish and decide to branch out in to something more tyrannical like the subjugation of the entire human race then we’re all fucked let me assure you.

I pictured in my mind a scenario whereby a new dolphin has been picked to join the team, how does the trainer begin to approach this task?

“OK Keith, got a job for you, look alive.”

“Fish please.”

“No Keith, if you remember you had fish this morning, this is something we need you to do for us.”

“Fish?”

“No Keith you’ve already had fish!!! Listen, you know Chris the captain of the display team? Well he’s out of action for six weeks, done his hamstring. Jason is going to fill in as captain during that time but we need a sixth man otherwise we can’t do the show so you’re going to have to step up.”

“And then will I get fish?”

“Damn it Keith yes you’ll get some fish now get your shit together!”

That seems like roughly how it would go but then how do you begin the task of actually teaching him the routine? It’s not like they just swim about a bit or just do the one where they carry the trainer along on their beak, it’s properly choreographed and complicated as balls. Swim round this way, take a sharp left, then jump out of the water through the small hoop then back out, two flips then around then out with three flips then back round again and then a big jump out of the water through the two hoops at the far end of the pool then all six of you need to do two flips each but stagger it so it’s one by one not all at the same time and then…

“Damn it Keith!!!”

“Fish?”

“No. No fish for you, what the fuck was that? I said turn left and then do two flips, you went right and did three flips in pike position you fucking moron. Jesus Christ anyone would think I’m not even speaking Dolphin!!!! Wait……..come back Keith I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you, I’m just under a lot of pressure with the show and everything. The doctors say that Chris could be out for as long as three months, could be his cruciate ligament. It’s not just his presence in the routine, he was the voice of the dressing room really, the lads all looked up to him. Look don’t worry we’ll get there, here have some fish.”

“Fish please.”

“Yes I just said you could have some fish. Here you go.”

In all honesty I reckon it’s probably quite a difficult job but it must be rewarding and given the demanding nature of the role and the pressure I estimate the starting salary must be at least £250K so why can’t I do it? As many of you know, the author has a natural affinity with all of God’s creatures as well as an outstanding work ethic so I googled ‘how to become a dolphin trainer’ and found a very helpful guide. I didn’t bother to read the words but the pictures are fairly self explanatory so I thought I’d share them with you all just in case you share my dream! Here we go :-

Become-a-Dolphin-Trainer-Step-1

Step 1: Get a cat

Obvs.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me, after all if you can train a cat, you can train a dolphin as it’s basically just a big fishy cat. Now obviously we all know that no-one has ever successfully trained a cat, that’s impossible, like trying to elbow yourself in the face or achieve your monthly sales targets, it can’t be done. However, if you’ve ever attempted to train a cat, or even been arsed to live with one for any period of time then you’re probably more than qualified to tackle a dolphin, they’re nowhere near as fighty, that beak looks like it could do some damage but they don’t have claws and as far as I can see they’re far less predisposed to random spontaneous outbursts of horrific violence so I’m OK with this one. Tick!

Become-a-Dolphin-Trainer-Step-2

Step 2: Get a degree

Not a problem, I’d assumed that a degree of some sort would be required, at least a 2:2 in any subject will probably suffice. That’s fine. I studied for three years to obtain my BA (Hons) in English Studies and I scraped a 2:1 so I’m probably, if anything, overqualified for the job. It’s probably safe to assume that my English degree is about as useful for a job in a dolphinquarium as it is for any other profession, which is to say absolutely no fucking use at all unless I want to be a teacher and bitch please I would rather teach sharks to eat fish off my scrotum than teach a classroom full of children thank you very much. The point though is that I do have a degree and like with most job interviews I’ve been on this will appear to count for something even though I will never, ever, ever be required to prove that I actually have it. Next!

Become-a-Dolphin-Trainer-Step-3

Step 3: Befriend a dolphin trainer

I’m assuming this guy is a dolphin trainer as he is wearing a wetsuit, the guy on the left is me. Seems a fairly logical step. I’ve got the necessary qualifications as detailed in steps 1 & 2 but at the end of the day it’s not what you know is it? It’s who you know and if you have a friend who is already a dolphin trainer then they will be able to fast track your application and show you the ropes. It can’t be too hard to befriend one of these people if you hang around the dolphin area long enough a situation like this is bound to occur :-

“What this? Actually it’s called a Fairisle knit, not Tartan. You’re thinking of checks, Tartan is check.”

“Oh of course, you’re right. It’s still a nice jumper though.”

“Thanks man. Hey I like your wetsuit.”

“Oh thanks, yeah it’s what I wear to maintain body temperature while I’m in the pool training the dolphins, I don’t wear it out.”

“Right, guess not. Hey I’ve always wanted to be a dolphin trainer, I’ve got my own degree and I have a cat.”

“Why didn’t you say so? Step in to my office, let’s talk.”

Something like that.

Become-a-Dolphin-Trainer-Step-4

Step 4: Make love to a dolphin

Have to admit I was a bit confused by this one at first but I suppose it does make logical sense. You have to really love dolphins in order to spend your whole life with them and really it’s about gaining their trust as well. You have to commit fully to the task at hand and ‘become one’ with the dolphins both physically and metaphorically. The guy in the picture looks like he’s finding it a bit tricky but the dolphin appears to be loving it. All seems fine to me, I’m in.

Become-a-Dolphin-Trainer-Step-5

Step 5: Learn to swim and improve your public speaking

Seems a bit strange to me that they would put this after step 4 in the guide but as I can already swim it’s not going to be a problem. It doesn’t specify whether you should be speaking English or Dolphin but I’d imagine it’s very much like teaching English as a foreign language where you’re expected to know the basics of Dolphin but you don’t need to be fluent as you’ll pick most of it up as you go along. I was quite good at languages at school and, following the one and only piece of practical life advice I ever got from either of my parents I took German at A-Level and was awarded the grade of D so I reckon I should be fine with this. I’m quite used to public speaking and they do say that what people react to is 70% how you look, 20% how you sound and only 10% what you actually say so as long as you’re confident you’ll be alright. I’m guessing this applies to dolphins as well and to be fair once I’ve made love to them all they’ll be putty in my hands.

Become-a-Dolphin-Trainer-Step-6

Step 6: Buy your own wetsuit

This is it! You’ve got the qualifications, you’ve successfully infiltrated the dolphin training community, you’ve experienced the delight and tenderness of sexual union betwixt man and dolphin and now you sir, are ready to take your place as a fully fledged commander of dolphins. It’s time to buy your own wetsuit! Look at this guy, standing tall and proud, the outline of his rippling physique just visible beneath the thin layer of neoprene. His chiselled features and tanned complexion radiating health and vitality. He’s got a picture on the wall there of his favourite dolphin which he’ll treasure always. This could be me! From the on-line guide it’s clear that I have all of the attributes required to succeed in this noble profession. So many jobs these days are just a means to an end, that’s why it’s so important to find your true calling, your vocation and I reckon this is mine.

Doubtless you will have found this career advice to be both useful and practical and if you too would like to pursue a career in bossing dolphins about for fish then get in line behind me.

Cheers

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Badtripe story time

I recently entered this short story in to a competition. It didn’t win unfortunately, probably because the stuffed shirts in ‘the establishment’ were too intimidated and threatened by my fierce literary thrusting but hey-ho such is life. I thought I may as well put it on here instead. As usual any offers of ‘constructive criticism’ will gain you a place on my list of people to shank once society unravels. Enjoy!

Satan_(South_Park)

Unholy Matrimony – by Rick White (short story competition loser)

“Doris!” Came the cry from the living room. “Cup of tea for Baal, milk and eighteen sugars, and be quick about it woman.” Doris gave a long sigh. Which one of them was it this time? She wondered. What dreadful, hellish abomination was sat in her living room, which she’d only just that morning hoovered? Staining her upholstery with blood and charcoal and God knows what kind of filth and likely to destroy the whole house and drag her off to eternal damnation at so much as a misheard sentence, good Lord the tension.

“George?” Doris called back. “Could I have a quick word with you in the Kitchen please?”

“What is it woman, where’s that tea?”

“Just come in to the kitchen George!”

George poked his bald head round the kitchen door, “Well?”

“George Mason you’ve become positively insufferable since you opened that gateway to Hell.”

“Me? I’m just trying to make our guest feel welcome Doris. He’s one of the seven princes of Hell for Pete’s sake woman, right hand man to Lucifer himself, if he wants a cup of tea just make him one and be quick about it!”

Doris sighed again, “Fine.” She got on with making the tea. She peeked in to the living room and saw Baal sitting on her white three seater sofa, sure enough staining it with gore and viscera of all kinds not to mention dirt from the flower beds. Baal had three heads; a man, a toad and a cat all placed curiously on top of eight hideously large spider’s legs. It was no wonder none of the neighbours wanted to attend Doris’s coffee mornings any more.

Two weeks it had been since George had dug up the entrance to Hell, whilst tending to his petunias in the garden. He was always tending to his petunias these days, more so than he ever tended to her anyway; it’d been a long while since he even came near her. Men in their late fifties tended to go one of two ways, they either stood up and fought vigorously against the inevitable onset of old age, they bought sports cars, took up yoga or started fencing or cycling some ridiculous distance for charity. Or they simply rolled over and accepted it meekly, like a once intrepid explorer who has given up all hope and quietly lies down to welcome in the cold as it gently saps the life from his bones, the unbearable aching gradually giving way to the first warm comfortable lapping waves of death. This was all rather dramatic of course, but Doris could forgive herself a little drama when she had the commander of sixty hellish legions in her living room, crunching up her best bone china in his man teeth while his other heads chattered and screeched terrifyingly. And besides, the explorer in this particular analogy, George, had never even explored anywhere. He’d most likely curl up and die on an expedition to the Co-op in slightly inclement weather.

For some strange reason though, Doris had rarely seen George more alive than these last two weeks while he had been, quite literally, staring in to the abyss. The fact that his rosebushes and flower beds were never as well pruned as Mr Brown’s next door had ceased to matter to him now that he had breached the door to the underworld. “It’s the entrance to Hades!” George had exclaimed. “Let’s see who’s got the best garden this year you bunch of jammy sods, try and top that.” His excitement had waned somewhat when no-one came to see his prize discovery and all of the neighbours gave their house a wide berth. George had come running in with a bible one day, which he had been furiously studying; “Here it is Doris, thou shalt not covet.” They’re all scared to admit that they’re coveting the gateway, just in case Old Nick hears about it. That’s why the Gazette won’t come round and do an article on it, that’s why Malcolm Brown started crying when I saw him in the post office yesterday; they’re terrified of my malevolent power!”

“Your malevolent power, George Mason? I’ve seen more malevolence from next door’s cocker spaniel and you’ve about as much power as a 30 watt light bulb at the best of times. You should read that book a bit more, it also says pride comes before a fall, I think. Maybe you should stop showing off about that stupid entrance to Hell because no-one cares!”

Doris had to admit that she had been secretly impressed with it to begin with, an entrance to another world, a portal to another plane of existence right there in their back garden! Well it was a little bit exciting even if they did have various evil demons popping in for tea uninvited at all hours, although she had to admit they really hadn’t been as much trouble as she’d expected all things considered. Dagon, the baker of Hell had even bought up some shortbread which Doris had to admit was delicious. Doris could only surmise that the inhabitants of Hell were generally more polite and pleasant company than the inhabitants of mortal earth to which she was currently bound. And certainly she had enjoyed wiping the smile off Christine Chang’s face the other day, always talking about her Pilates and her husband’s promotion at work and the fact they were going to the Maldives for Christmas. “Well actually George has uncovered an entrance to the Netherworld in our back garden.” That shut her up.

Just then Doris was stirred back to reality as Baal disappeared with a sharp crack! Leaving a nasty brown and red stain all over the formerly white sofa. George quickly scurried away out of sight as well and Doris began the task of stripping the covers off the sofa to take them, where? Where on God’s green earth was she going to find a dry cleaners that could do anything about this mess? She should probably just cast the sofa in to the fiery pit and be done with it. Thirty eight years. Thirty eight years she’d been married to George. For twenty five of those years they’d lived right here in this same house in this small suburban cul-de-sac desperately trying to ignore the metaphorical implications of their chosen locale as they became painfully obvious to anyone and everyone except George, who wouldn’t recognise a metaphor if one hog tied him to a spit and roasted him over an open fire until he damn well recognised it. Maybe that’s what Hell really is; the mundane. The crippling dullness and sameness of everyday life building and building to the point where your only thoughts are daydreams and even your daydreams are disappointing and lack the basic elements of even the most pedestrian story telling. Actually no that’s not what Hell is at all, Hell is an actual real place that’s as hot as it is unpleasant if the foul, sulphurous odours and ear splitting screams emanating from Doris’s back garden were anything to go by. No point dwelling on that now though, this could all still turn out for the best.

George re-entered the room looking slightly more crestfallen than usual. “Still not heard back from our Sophie.”

“Well what do you expect George? That girl’s got her own life to lead and she doesn’t want to hear about Asmodeus the lust demon any more than the rest of us do! Next door’s rabbit still hasn’t recovered from his little visit, just stares at her own foot and won’t even touch her lettuce!”

“No one regrets that more than me but Asmodeus has certain proclivities that we all should have been more aware of and, well all I’m saying is it won’t happen again… hopefully.”

Doris had to admit that their daughter had been, even by her standards, very unmoved by the events concerning the gateway. Doris had always harboured a concern that the younger generation were becoming increasingly desensitised with their violent computer games, their iPads and their You Tube’s, gang warfare on the streets and vulgar television commercials and if anything, this proved her point. If their own daughter didn’t even so much as bat an eyelid at her father’s account of the lust demon of Hell making “unwanted advances” towards Trudy the Dwarf Lop then what hope was there for her or her generation? This is what the Devil wants, thought Doris. Actually it’s probably not, if anything he craves attention, he’s a great big show off.

“George?” said Doris, now elbow deep in a grotesque melange of sofa covers.

“Yes” said George now fiddling with a bit of lint which was occupying space on his cardigan and evidently his mind.

“Do you remember my nineteenth birthday?”

“Not really. Why?”

“You booked the afternoon off from work and you rode your bike for ten miles to my house with a picnic basket to take me out for the afternoon.”

“Yes that’s right. It was sunny all morning and then it absolutely hammered it down with rain all afternoon, bloody disaster.”

“No George, it was lovely that you came to see me. We just sat at the kitchen table and ate pork pie and sandwiches and drank your awful home brewed cider. We played a game of draughts, which I won and we listened to the radio until it started going dark outside, and we chatted George. We just talked about nothing in particular.”

“We still chat about nothing in particular.”

“You chat about nothing in particular George Mason. Sometimes I don’t know whether you’re talking to me or just mumbling to yourself. I want us to share a conversation and not just about that stupid gateway to Hell.”

“But I thought you liked the gateway. I just thought it would be something which we could both enjoy together.”

“Enjoy together?” And what exactly do you enjoy about it George?”

“Well it’s interesting isn’t it? You’re always saying how you wish we had more going on well that’s pretty interesting isn’t it? The demons can be a little on the strange side I admit and the screaming and the flames and the constant heavy metal music do seem a bit much at times  and maybe it is a bit…what’s the word? You know….a bit…but anyway I just thought you liked it.”

“What have I ever said or done to give you that impression George Mason? I didn’t like it when you got me a microwave for Christmas, I wasn’t excited when we got the new boiler and I don’t like that ridiculous gateway to Hell in our back garden!”

“Well I’m trying my best Doris. I swear I don’t know what you want.”

“I want you George. You stupid man. Sophie’s flown the nest, we’ll both soon be retired and I want to make the most of our lives together. I don’t want to be condemned to an eternity of suffering like those poor souls in the back garden. Just go and cover up that gateway and build a shed like you were going to and spend all of your time in there.”

“Well now hang on a minute. I know I said I was going to build a shed but I could always put up a summer house. That way we could enjoy the garden together. The rosebushes are almost in flower but the soot and the charcoal and the blood isn’t so good for them so perhaps you’re right. I could put up some decking as well and we could have the neighbours round for barbecues when the weather’s nice. And when it’s raining we can still sit out under the porch and have a game of draughts. It’ll even have under floor heating free of charge!.”

Doris smiled in spite of herself. When she originally offered to sell her soul for a slightly more attentive husband she’d assumed the process would be slightly more expedient but never mind. The Devil takes his time and relishes his tasks but as long as the crafty old bugger got the job done one way or another who was she to argue with that?

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Badtripe Critical Essay #1: Katy Perry Lyrics – Why are they so weird and fighty?

perry2

Now please understand all of you that the author of this tremendous blog does not listen to pop music. No way. I’m cool in case you hadn’t already realised. I listen to bands that you’ve never ever heard of and definitely wouldn’t like. And if by some bizarre happenstance you actually heard one of these super unknown bands and liked them then that would mean that I would not be able to like them any more and I would immediately denounce them as ‘mainstream’, that’s how awesome I am. I can tell you’re impressed.

Sometimes though I do listen to the radio because I just like to know what’s going on with the kids. The author is not getting any younger and I like to keep up to date with the saccharin tainted, ethnically confused, dead eyed puppets who the younger generation are forced to look up to in order to shape their horribly distorted view of the world. Plus we have the radio on at work sometimes, as a treat.

I think what strikes me the most when listening to pop music is that it is actually quite clever, in a way. Pretty much all pop songs are played at the same speed, which is about 128 BPM (that’s Beats per Minute if you’re a fucking moron). This is because the human brain and body respond positively to a 4/4 beat at about this speed, it’s invigorating yet comfortable. It’s just the right speed for activities such as running or dancing, it feels good. Then there’s the hooks, just a memorable line or two in the chorus, doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it is easy to remember and to sing along to. That’s why most people when they’re singing in a car or in their bedroom will mumble along to three quarters of a song and then just blast out the three lines that they do know, we’ve all done it. It’s genius really. This simple formula works time and time again and it’s brilliant because whoever writes the lyrics is free to put just about any words they so wish in to the song and it really wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. If One Direction were to recite an algebra textbook or a Shakespearean soliloquy over a cheery tune then their fans wouldn’t be in the least bit perturbed as long as they still had a catchy chorus like, “Ooh girl, cup my balls, every day and night!” I actually might pick up the old six string when I get home and write that badboy and send it to Simon Cowell.

1d

As well as all of this though, the folk who write the lyrics to these songs are always desperate to convey some kind of message, something that unites the fans of these artists in to a common frame of mind and a shared sense of togetherness. It’s usually something along the lines of “We don’t care what our parents say, we do what we want.” See Billie Piper’s seminal masterpiece ‘Because we want to’ (1998) for further reading on the subject. Or it’s usually some scantily clad lady who hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that she’s being horribly manipulated by a phalanx of cigar smoking, Asian hooker wielding, despicable old men piping up with something along the lines of “I’m an independent woman I don’t need no man to pay my bills but I do have to grease myself up and gyrate in this bikini or I’ll be dropped by my label and working at Poundland before the week’s out.” (Beyonce – ‘Grease me Up Mister’ 2009).

beyonce

The thing I’ve noticed though is that some of the lyrics are just downright peculiar. We’ve all heard the lyrics of crazed Columbian gakhead Shakira “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains” (Shakira – ‘Finest Columbian Chang’ 1991) but even these frankly insane lyrics do actually kind of make logical sense if you think about it. If her breasts were the size of mountains then you might actually think that they were two mountains which could have disastrous consequences so it’s lucky that they’re small and humble. Fine. Some lyrics though just seem to miss their own point entirely and end up constructing ideas and images which must be confusing for all of the impressionable tweenies out there. Let’s analyse one of the weirdest ones I’ve heard recently :-

1: Katy Perry ‘Dark Horse’

Perry

I really do not understand this song at all. It starts off with a fairly sinister tone;

I knew you were
You were gonna come to me
And here you are
But you better choose carefully
‘Cause I, I’m capable of anything
Of anything and everything

So here we have the character of a young man, drawn to Katy Perry like a moth to a flame, or like Frodo walking straight in to Mordor. Katy has a warning for our lovestruck young fool, beware young man, beware because, “I’m capable of anything and everything.” Ok, could be that she’s talking about breaking your heart, could be murder. Either way you may want to give Katy Perry a wide berth. Then we have the chorus;

Baby do you dare to do this?
Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse

Right…….I’m not sure Katy has fully understood the metaphor she is attempting to use here. “She’s a bit of a dark horse.” Fine, we all know this to mean that she has hidden and unexpected qualities that may be surprising to those who seek to underestimate her, we can relate to this. However, “I’m coming at you like a dark horse” is just a frightening image. If I was being charged down by a horse, dark or otherwise I’d be pretty frightened and I’d run in the opposite direction for sure. 

The second verse is just nonsense;

Mark my words
This love will make you levitate
Like a bird
Like a bird without a cage

Yeah most people call that ‘flying’ Katy. You rarely hear people say, “Look at that bird levitating out of its cage.”

Then the next bit;

But down to earth
If you choose to walk away, don’t walk away

What? It’s like some sort of cryptic riddle.

What K-Pay alludes to in the first half of this song, Juicy-J states explicitly in his third verse rap. Hold on a sec, Juicy-J? (Hi I’m Juicy-J!) Christ on a bike.

Uh
She’s a beast
I call her Karma
She eats your heart out
Like Jeffrey Dahmer

While Katy is confused by the use of metaphor in her verse, at least J has made an effective use of simile in his rap. Remember back to your English classes at school it’s not that he’s saying she is Jeffrey Dahmer it’s that she’ll eat your heart like Jeffrey Dahmer. I think when you’re using poetic license and literary techniques in song writing it’s usually best to try and create interesting, thought provoking imagery within the lyrics, there’s no reason why you can’t be a bit obscure, in fact the weirder the better, you can get away with it after all. In my opinion the essential flaw in J’s line is that it’s a touch too direct, a little on the nose. Obviously eating people’s hearts (as well as other body parts) is exactly what Dahmer did and so it kind of defeats the point of drawing the simile in the first place. It just leaves us with an image of a demented Katy Perry feasting on the congealing organs of her unwitting male prey. Man that girl has been hurt, hurt I tell you!

So the overall message of this song? Don’t fall in love with Katy Perry or she will kill you and eat your corpse. Brilliant.

I can’t even be bothered to go in to a full blown analysis of Juicy-J’s rap, it’d take too long but special mention has to go to the line;

She can be my Sleeping Beauty
I’m gon’ put her in a coma
Woo!

So I guess the overall theme of killing/eating/permanently incapacitating the object of your affection works both ways in this song. It’s definitely one for all of the confused, hormonal, potential murderers out there to enjoy! I personally enjoyed it very much and give it a strong 6 out of 10.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

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L-Baz Quotes Part.1

rickandsarah

 

Here is a picture of my girlfriend and I in Ibiza, as you can see the author is punching well above his weight! Sarah Leatherbarrow, also known as L-Baz, Bazza or simply ‘The Barrow’ has been putting up with me for almost 3 and a half years now and in May of next year I’m very happy to say that we’ll be getting married. On the big day I will be expected to give a speech, which is something I very much enjoy. I was co-best man at my mate Nick’s wedding last year and although I was so nervous that I felt as though I had lost sensation in all of my limbs, it was great fun and the speech went down really well. Now for my own wedding I keep having to remind myself that giving a groom’s speech is very different to giving a best man’s speech, basically I can’t just stand up and take the piss out of my wife for 15 minutes! Instead I’ll be saying lots of nice things about her as I’m not a Neanderthal but I wanted to share some funny stuff on here, especially the many quotes from L-Baz which have enriched my life. I’ll probably add to this over time but here are a few of my faves (and bear in mind that these are off the cuff and not actually meant as humorous remarks, which is why I love them).

An important cooking questionI told Sarah I was making crab linguine for tea which immediately made her panic as I knew she would be picturing a pile of linguine with a live crab sitting on top of it.

“LB: How do you know he’s dead?

Me: Who?

LB: The crab, you boil them from live don’t you? So you might just be giving him a hot bath, you don’t know with a fish.

Me: It’s not a fish, it’s a crustacean.

LB: It’s not a crusty Asian, it’s a fish.”

Whilst watching a TV documentary on Peter SutcliffeWe’d been watching it for a good half an hour…

“Sutcliffe. Is that Myra Hindley?”

Giving me a lesson on how to use Dolmio sauce in cooking;

“Don’t put any salt in it Rick, there’s salt already in the sauce, they mix all of the ingredients up in a jar for you, you see. Do you understand?”

Trying to insult me;

“Me: You’re as bent as a nine-bob note.

LB: You’re as bent as a broom.

Me: Straight then?

LB: A curly broom.”

On the subject of eating chicken off the bone (in conversation with her mother);

“I’ve eaten bone from Rick before.”

A food review;

“Venison’s shit, I’ve never had it.”

Whilst recovering from minor keyhole surgery (to my brother);

“Tell Stevie I’ve got 3 holes in me!”

On the subject of work and managing her assistant;

“I’ve been really tired so I just made my minion give me back rubs all day.”

To the cat;

“Hey get out of here you filthy vermin!”

Whilst watching a documentary on African Albinos (to be fair it was confusing);

“LB: Why’s he white?

Me: He’s an Albino, but if he wasn’t an Albino he’d be black.

LB: So he’s white?

Me: Well yes but that’s just because his skin has no pigment even though he’s of African descent. Do you understand?

LB: I think so.

Me: Do you?

LB: No.”

A review of  the film ‘Shutter Island’;

“It’s rubbish, he gets eaten by rats.”

A debate on whether or not we should book an all-inclusive hotel;

“LB: I like to go out and find nice places to eat and drink.”

Me: So do I but if you fancy a beer or something to eat at the hotel, it’s free.

LB: But normally if I want a drink I just put it on the tab.

Me: And who exactly do you think pays the tab???

LB: Dad?”

After being taken to hospital following a car crash;

“Rick! They strapped me to a board and ruined my make-up.”

After 2 days on an aloe vera detox diet (in tears);

“Do you hate me because of my fat thighs? I just want cookies!”

On the subject of her favourite greetings card (this used to be her job);

“I’ve thought it was funny for ages even though I didn’t actually understand the joke and then someone explained it to me and I still don’t really get it but it’s made it even funnier.”

 

And finally, here is one which she claimed she actually meant….

Encouraging my brother to smoke less cannabis;

“You’ll be better at golf if you stop smoking it Stevie, you don’t want to be playing with a handicap!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

sarah and ellie

and then I said….

 

 

 

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Unscrupulous Bastards #1 – Vehicle Control Services Ltd

vcslogo

Complete set of bastards

Ok – the author hates injustice and despises poor customer service and the general lack of respect which is constantly shown to him by corporate organisations.

I’ll probably be using this blog every once in a while to have a good rant about some shadowy organisation who has wronged me in some way. I don’t want to do it too much as it will inevitably become boring and samey and I do tend to have at least one meltdown per week due to an incorrect bill or a botched delivery or something along those lines. I don’t want to get on my high horse too much but it really does frustrate the life out of me when organisations just want to take my money but seem to make it as difficult as possible for me to hand it over. One example is British Gas, they’ve sent three different ‘Final’ bills recently and every time I try to call them to find out how much I actually owe they keep me on hold for half an hour before putting me through to someone who, let’s be honest, doesn’t really understand English so I just get nowhere, in the meantime they merrily send my completely made up final bill amount to a debt collection agency so they can threaten me in my home on a regular basis. I’m already getting myself worked up but Jesus Methamphetamine Christ it really is annoying.

The above organisation though really do top the list of the most satanic companies operating on this mortal plain. It all started back in August 2013 when I received a letter from them saying that they were issuing me with a fine of £100 for parking in my local Tesco’s car park for seven and a half hours. Now, my first reaction was to think, “Am I guilty?” I used to use this Tesco’s regularly and the letter featured two pictures of my car, one entering the car park about 10 in the morning and one of me leaving it at about 5ish. It seems unlikely that I would have just sat in Tesco’s car park all day when I was supposed to be working from home but could it actually have happened??? I couldn’t remember the day at all, could I just have driven in to the car park and just sat there, staring in to space for almost 8 hours, occasionally replying to an email on my blackberry? Had I just lost a day completely? If I hadn’t had my car would I just have been found wandering round Tesco’s in my pants with no recollection of how I got there whatsoever? Who knows, stranger things have happened and I was genuinely worried.

Then I pulled myself together and thought, come on, this is clearly a mistake. So I completed the ‘I would like to appeal’ section of their website just so everything would be recorded and done via the official channels, I just wrote something like, “Hey there. Thank you for your recent £100 fine sent to my house for the alleged offence on the 8th of August 2013. Unfortunately I think what you have here is two pictures of my car, taken at different times of day, and taken during separate visits to the store in question. I regularly use this store more than once a day so please check your records and you will see you are mistaken. Cheers.” Obviously no part of me thought that this would bring the matter to a logical conclusion as companies like this do not deal in logic, common sense or any version of the truth other than that which they conjure out of their imagination, so I waited.

Sure enough I received a response stating that I needed to prove that I wasn’t there. Interesting, I thought. How exactly do I prove where I wasn’t on that day? I can’t for the life of me remember what I did and I don’t normally take pictures of myself with a dated newspaper at every destination I visit during any given day so this is going to be tricky. I emailed them back saying something along the lines of, “You’re wrong, you haven’t reviewed your footage and the emphasis is on you to provide proof so go fuck yourselves.” This didn’t work either. They just emailed back saying that they had proof in the form of the pictures (even if they’d drawn these pictures themselves they would still have stood by them as proof) and, accordingly they had transferred the £100 fine over to a local debt collection agency who had been instructed to come round to my house and take my belongings or, failing that, rape me and my entire family as a down payment on part of the outstanding amount which would be collected in the form of cash or vicious atrocities to be carried out at the start of every week for the rest of my life, and what is more, carried out with the fullest sense of righteousness and in the name of the good people of Tesco so that they might finally be able to rest easy in the knowledge that I would not be defiling their customer car park with my insidious, cancerous parking activities now or in the future and thus securing the well-being of the local community for this and future generations to come.

I quickly realised that this was simply a shake down, an extortion attempt. They had obviously made no attempt to check any of their own records or footage, they probably wouldn’t even know how to do it, probably don’t even keep records or ever look at any footage whatsoever. They’d sent me this fine and as far as they were concerned that was the end of the matter.

So, I had one option left which was to appeal to POPLA, Parking on Private Land Appeals, who are supposedly an independent body set up to arbitrate in these kind of disputes. In reality these guys are about as impartial as a Japanese whaling fleet at a Greenpeace convention as I would soon find out much to my own detriment. This is well illustrated in this article from the Telegraph :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/10219403/Private-parking-ombudsman-advising-enforcement-companies.html

It’s worth pointing out here that it’s not advisable to ignore these parking fines as many people will tell you to do. They will keep sending threatening letters and eventually one of them will be a court summons and if you don’t respond to that then they will carry out a hearing without you present and you’ll be fined and made to pay costs.

So, in a continuing effort to follow the correct procedure I explained to POPLA that VCS had got this one wrong, they had two pictures of me from different times of day and had failed to capture me leaving and then coming back later and I asked if they could please, please, please JUST LOOK AT THE FOOTAGE FROM THAT DAY!!! I was still foolishly clinging on to a belief that all of this could be sorted out if they would just look at the evidence that they were charging me with, such was my naivety.

I explained the situation to POPLA and the response I received was quite honestly staggering, the “Assessor”, Marina Kapour states, and I quote, “Although it seems possible that the cameras may miss the Appellant’s vehicle registration
number once, I am not minded to find that it is likely that the cameras would have missed both the Appellant’s first exit, and second entrance. On the balance of probabilities, I am minded to accept the Operator’s evidence.” I’M SORRY??? You’re not minded?? The balance of probabilities??? So basically Marina what you are saying is that, in your sole opinion, you don’t think it’s that likely that I’m right and therefore I should have to pay a £100 fine. Now I can’t be the only person who was genuinely staggered by this response. First of all there’s a direct admission that a mistake could have been made. Oh but hang on, they could have made one mistake but there’s no way on God’s green earth that they could have made the same mistake twice, that’s never been done. Simply not possible. Secondly this is just an admission that they have not looked at the god damn butt-fucking tapes like I asked them to do in the first place!!! Just look at the tape! I’m presuming they don’t have a copy of the tape, either that or they just couldn’t be arsed, either way the outcome is the same for them.

I nearly gave up at this point and just paid the fine just to get them off my back but first I called my lawyer, who’s not really my lawyer but actually my friend Jonny who works as Crown Prosecutor (the youngest CP in the country fuck you very much)! And he came up with a genius idea which had not occurred to me previously despite being actually fairly obvious and probably the first thing which most people would do, check your bank statement. Sure enough it showed 3 payments to Tesco’s all at different times of day, within the time period on the ticket and furthermore the payments were separated by another payment which I made at a petrol station in between my visits to Tesco. Now it was clear to me. Unless I had been sat in Tesco’s car park all day, replying to emails on my blackberry, periodically going in to make purchases and at one point walking about a mile with a jerry can to get some diesel, coming back and pouring it in to my stationary car, I was sure I was right!

I immediately took a screen shot of my bank statement and sent it to Vehicle Control Services along with a very long email which, as you can probably imagine contained enough sarcasm that by the end of writing it I could no longer even carry on an inner monologue with myself without being sarcastic and I was unable to give a serious response, or even speak normally to anyone, including myself for about a week. Predictably, having not been bothered to look at their own ‘evidence’ they subsequently completely ignored the proper evidence which I had provided to them. Or if they did look at it they probably agreed with POPLA that it was “unlikely” that a mistake had been made and quite frankly anyone with a mobile phone can hack in to and manipulate bank records these days, it’s that credit crunch isn’t it, and that 4G, and the rest of that witchcraft and devilry. No, no we’re fine for ‘evidence’ thanks, we’ll stick with what we know, thank you very much.

After receiving no response from this email I then sent an email saying “Still awaiting a response on this”, once a day, every day for 4 months. During this time VCS continued to send me threatening letters through the post from various debt collection agencies and continued to do an impression of an unruly toddler sticking their fingers in their ears and crying until I eventually started copying in the BBC’s Watchdog email address in to all of my email correspondence. Finally, at the end of May, almost 9 months after receiving the initial fine I received a letter from Vehicle Control Services stating that the matter, “was now dropped.” That was it, literally one sentence. No explanation whatsoever and definitely not even the merest hint of an apology and certainly not an admission of guilt. I suppose they can’t admit to being wrong because if they do it once then who knows who else would come forward after receiving one of their bogus fines through the post. Then again, as the gospel according to POPLA tells us, it is physically, spiritually and logically impossible for a mistake to occur twice so they’ll probably be all right.

So there it is. Sorry for ranting but life is hard enough these days when every piece of mail that drops through your letterbox is just various organisations demanding varying amounts of your money the last thing you need is companies like VCS sending you completely made up fines through the post and threatening to drag the author through the courts and besmirch his good name and upstanding reputation within the community. It doesn’t wash. Then it’s the fact that in order to defend yourself you have to go to great lengths just to prove something which they should easily have been able to check in 2 minutes. Fucking 9 months of my life that took and not even an apology! Much of modern life is automated and does not rely on human input or judgement and so I can understand that mistakes do happen but when the people who work at these companies start behaving like robots themselves then where does that leave us? Computer says no, basically. Forever and ever. Fuck off.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bad Tripe clinical study – Is my cat a psychopath?

Cat

The author, with cat.

 

 

This is my cat, George or to give her her full title, Georgia Elizabeth Katzenberg-White. She is five years old (I’m pretty sure) and she was born in Sheffield. Although I think she may have just come in to existence via some dreadful portal of pure evil. When I first got her I thought she was a boy, hence the name which just stuck. Maybe she’s always known deep down that I wanted a boy, I have told her this on many occasions so it is possible and maybe this has lead to her hatred of the human race in general. Looking back though I think her general misanthropy stems back to when she was just a young cat, barely more than a kitten really and a team of vets tried to give her an injection and failed, she wasn’t having that, no siree, she fought like Gerard Butler in that film. I’d love to tell you George fought the good fight and the vets left her alone, I wish I could tell you that, but the vets is no fairy-tale place, plus I’d paid for the operation I wasn’t just going to let the stupid bee-yatch run around and get pregnant, I’m a responsible fucking pet owner thank you very much. And so the vets gassed her out, in an actual gas chamber and then ripped out her ovaries. George woke up with a cone on her head and with half her body shaved and stitched up I mean I reckon it’d piss anyone off really. After that she gained a shit load of weight, I’m told it’s the hormones and I’ve had her on a diet ever since although up until very recently she’s always been a house cat so a lack of exercise didn’t help, at her heaviest she weighed just over seven kilos which I’m told is the size of two cats. Despite her weight (which is actually improving thank Christ) the vet assures me that she is in perfect health, which backs up my theory that she is pure malevolent evil and will never die. George is lazy, massively disobedient, prone to spontaneous and unprovoked outbursts of violence, spiteful, unhygienic, devious, annoying, distrustful and aggressive towards strangers (and people she knows), greedy, mean and homophobic (probably). She is probably the worst behaved cat in the world and she seems to do it deliberately but is she actually a psychopath? Let’s find out using the Hare Test to determine Psychopathy (as it applies to our furry feline friends).

There are 20 different elements on the Hare Test which are used to characterise Psychopathic tendencies in individuals, starting with :-

  1. Glibness/Superficial Charm

According to the Hare Test, all Psychopaths are ostensibly charming individuals when you first meet them, this is how they are able to manipulate others successfully, George actually scores well on this one. Like all cats she can appear to be friendly, she’ll come up to you and rub her face on your leg and purr and when I’m sat on the sofa she’ll come and sit on me and she actually seems quite friendly but SHE JUST WANTS FOOD! That’s all that motivates her, once she realises you’re not going to feed her she will become angry and aggressive and often bitey. She’s not really clever enough to really appear friendly, her displays of affection usually just come off as creepy and weird but she probably is capable of fooling an amateur in to giving her some tuna so I’ll give her a tick for this one.

2.  Grandiose sense of self worth

Tick. She is a cat after all so was always going to score highly here.

3.  Pathological lying

Absolutely. She plays my girlfriend and I off against each other in order to get extra meals. Mrs Bad-Tripe will come home early and feed George, George knows that I know that Mrs BT doesn’t always feed her when she comes home so when I come home she will come up to me frantically meowing like she hasn’t been fed in weeks so that I feed her again! To be fair this has worked on numerous occasions so well done George but there is no doubt that she is incapable of honest behaviour, big tick for this one.

4.  Cunning/Manipulative

See above. Tick. Another example would be meowing at 4am to try and convince me that it’s time to get up and feed her, this has also worked on a few occasions.

5.  Lack of remorse or guilt

Interestingly George, like all cats, cannot be trained but she also does not respond to punitive measures. I have one of those little water sprayers that people use to give their plants a spritzing and when George is nagging me for food or meowing at 4am or scratching my sofa to bits I give her a little spray to let her know that this is naughty. All that’s happened is that she’s managed to train herself to not fear water, she knows it won’t hurt her, and although she certainly doesn’t like it, she now will not show even a flicker of emotion when I spray her and she will never let the threat of a dowsing stop her from going about her evil business, so yes a tick for this one.

george2

I’m going to kill you one day

6.  Emotionally shallow

Definitely. George’s emotional range is basically just; hungry-sleepy-hateful.

7.  Callous/Lack of empathy

If I died, she would probably wait about 10 seconds before feasting gleefully on my corpse, so yeah, tick for this one.

8.  Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

She once pounced on my girlfriend while she was crossing the living room with a well steeped bowl of muesli. George swiped at Mrs BT’s foot, eliciting a scream and a stumble which sent the semi-firm, cement like cereal mixture flying all over the sofa and the wall. If you’ve ever tried to clean a full bowl of milk and congealed muesli off a fabric sofa you will know it’s no easy task. George just flounced off with a look that said, “Bitch should learn how to handle her bowl properly.”  The Prosecution rests.

9.  Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

Interesting one this. I do try to play with George all the time, she particularly likes fighting and to be fair she is actually really good at catching, that’s her one skill. I flick her cuddly bunny toy with my foot and she can catch it from a surprising range of angles and distances. This doesn’t hold her interest for very long though because if I’m the one initiating the game then she just thinks it’s some sort of trick or that I’m subversively mocking her and then she disengages. George’s need for stimulation seems to manifest itself in obnoxious, attention seeking behaviour. If her requests for food have been repeatedly rebuked then she will go and start scratching the sofa or flinging her cat litter all over the room just to get a reaction. Basically she thrives on drama and she gains much more satisfaction from causing trouble and pissing me off rather than just mutually enjoyable frolics, so yeah, tick.

10.  Parasitic lifestyle

Contributes absolutely nothing to the household so yes.

george3

This owl belongs to me now

11.  Lack of realistic long term goals

She plans to get food, but that is obviously short term. I’ve no idea what her long term goals may be but if she has any I’ll bet they’re not in the least bit realistic. Probably something along the lines of “Kill my oppressive overlords and start my own dictatorship where all my subjects must pay daily homage to me with offerings of roast chicken which is of course my favourite food.” So basically she’s living in a dream world.

12.  Impulsivity

She knows that if she attacks my girlfriend that she is in for an absolute rollicking but she literally cannot stop herself from doing it. The missus was walking with a drink once and I could actually see the cogs moving in George’s brain as she lay in wait on the rug thinking, “She’s got bare feet and she’s carrying a drink I have to swipe at her foot, I have to, but they might drown me in the shower like they’ve previously threatened, I need to swipe her foot, she’ll spill the drink, she might catch me, oh fuck I’ve done it.” Then she tried to run away but had actually moved on to the laminate wood flooring which is slippery and so as fast as her legs tried to move, she went nowhere. Then the wife threw a clothes airer at her for some reason?

13.  Irresponsibility

Yes, she’s completely irresponsible with no respect for anyone.

14.  Poor behavioural controls

Don’t think this needs any further clarification.

15.  Early behavioural problems

When I first got George, I got her from a bit of a dodgy area of Sheffield. The author is not a snob but there are certain parts of the city where it’s generally best not to venture alone but I wanted a cat so I went. I picked George because of all the cats that were there she actually seemed the most docile. When I got her home she slept for like two days and was really chilled out. Then it dawned on me that the cat sellers had been openly smoking weed in the living room when I went round so actually George was just stoned. When she eventually came round she must’ve been craving some monster munch and a cheese and onion pasty and when these weren’t forthcoming she definitely became way more of a handful. In all honesty though I think George’s early behaviour was just pretty standard kitten behaviour so I may have to let her off this one. She’s always been quite weird though.

george

hey you! go to the 24 hour petrol station and get me some food and rizla

16.  Juvenile Delinquency

She’s always been a bit of a delinquent and it was definitely her early teens (in cat years) where she really started to hit her stride and test the boundaries of common decency and my patience so I think this definitely applies.

17.  Revocation of conditional release

Erm…..kind of. I used to live in a top floor flat so George has always been a house cat. When I first got her I did live in a house and tried to make her go outside but she seemed to show no interest whatsoever and would just cling to the sofa like a drowninig victim on a piece of driftwood so I sacked it off. Recently I moved in to a ground floor flat and decided to let her go outside and she took to it quite well. I couldn’t believe that George was going outside and having adventures like a real cat, or so I thought. I was chatting to my neighbour who owns the basement flat downstairs (the brilliantly named, Ekow) and I said keep an eye out for my cat, to which he replied “Oh George and I are already well acquainted.” It turns out that on her first trip out she’d managed to get downstairs (squeezing through a very tight fence in the process which you wouldn’t have said was physically possible if you saw it) and entered the basement flat via the French doors. Ekow received a phonecall from his girlfriend who said she thought there was an animal in the flat. Ekow got home, looked around and couldn’t find anything so he sat down on the bed in consternation. Then, all of a sudden the bed covers moved and made a noise, lo and behold it was George!! All she’d done instead of going out and exploring the great wide world was to infiltrate the nearest bed she could find. A stand-off ensued with George having claimed the bed as her own and Ekow was unable to get her to move. Eventually he managed to get her out somehow but not without “A lot of hissing and growling.” Naturally I was mortified as, if anything is guaranteed to give your new neighbours a bad impression of you, it’s George. So I very nearly revoked her conditional release but not quite ‘cos I need her out the house.

george4

Supervised exercise time

18.  Criminal Versatility

She’s the size of a fucking rugby ball and managed to squeeze herself through a fence gap no bigger than an iPhone, she can also leap like a salmon to get up on the kitchen counter to eat my leftover curry so yeah I’d say she is pretty versatile in her criminality. Kudos George.

19.  Many short term marital relationships

As far as I know George has never been married.

20.  Promiscuous sexual behaviour

I absolutely shudder to think.

So there you go. I think we can categorically conclude that George is indeed a certifiable psychopath and should probably be locked up in a secure institution somewhere. However, I feel that this clinical study raises more questions than it answers. Are animals aware of their own behaviour? Do they have the ability to draw distinction between right and wrong or are they operating purely on instinct? At what point does the need for survival give way to greed or self indulgent behaviour? Are all psychopaths a product of their environment or are they hardwired to behave in a certain way? Who the fuck knows. These existential dilemmas will keep for another day.

I should tell you all that I would not change George for the world, she’s the funniest animal ever and I love her dearly and do my best to care for her properly and responsibly despite never getting even so much as a crumb of gratitude from the beastly little swine. She may be a psychopath, but she’s my psychopath.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

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Bad Tripe Album Review – Joyce Manor ‘Never Hungover Again’

joycemanor

Now, let me start by saying that this isn’t really a review as such, it’s not a critical essay and it’s certainly not objective. It’s hard to be that objective about a band that you ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LOVE!!! There’s no point denying it, I’ve just been listening to this at work and even through the tinny speakers of my shitty laptop which render even the most perfectly produced pieces of music basically unlistenable this still sounds immense. I don’t know what any of the tracks are called just yet and I haven’t had much of a chance to catch the lyrics properly but they’re very good, really simple but brilliantly put together, quite poignant at times actually. I also can’t really draw lots of comparisons with other bands, nor would I want to because that’s how YouTube arguments frequently start and what’s the point anyway? I read an Amazon review of the new Cloud Nothings album where this fucking asshole just compared them at great length to Interpol and their first album. I suspect that the cretinous fool had only ever bought two albums in his life and for him they represented the complete pantheon of available music so it was only right that they be inextricably linked, but anyway I digress….

I bought the first album and loved it, second album is a little more tricky to get in to but still brilliant, this one is off the chain. I don’t know whether the title refers to the fact that they’ve all gone sober and more focussed and I couldn’t care less as long as they keep making this awesome music. They’ve signed to Epitaph and obviously decided to just fucking go for it with some of the catchiest songs Bad Tripe has ever heard. Really amazing melodies which literally grip you by the scrotum for about two minutes, and then release it, and then grab it again. Amazing. I’m not the first person to say that there’s a strong Pop-Punk Smiths-like quality to the songs on this album which I’ve certainly never picked up on before, I think it’s some of the lyrics, Barry Johnson’s vocals, and also the picking melodies of the guitars which do sound quite like Johnny Marr. Listen to ‘In the Army Now’ where I think this is most present. **Hey turns out I do know the names of the songs and I’ve gone back on my promise to not compare to other bands, what a douche I hear myself cry**

Here’s why I like Joyce Manor. They convey real emotion without sounding generically emo. They have also mastered the genre of pop punk, managing to be as catchy as 90’s Blink 182 without sounding in the least bit cheesy. They have that ‘we’re not really trying that hard’ vibe without just sounding lame, perfectly disaffected and yet straight from the heart at the same time. This is immediately my favourite album as I knew it would be. I’ve never got bored of their first two albums and, at only 19 minutes long I will definitely be listening to this about 75 times a day.

I don’t know if they’ve got a UK tour planned but I look forward to getting balls deep in to them (metaphorically of course) when they do decide to come over.

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