It’s Eurovision time, 2018 style!!

Oh yes, the time of year I await with baited breath. As with previous years, I’ll be going through and reviewing each entry, so this is a live post. Keep reloading, as I’ll be updating this through out the night, with the latest update first…

23:50
And here endeth the Aurovision for another year. A controversial night, and not a great winner. Reminds me too much of that “Bom Bom” song

22:07
ITALY: I’d probably like this one, but the suject martial’s put me right off. Thankfully this is the last one, I can go and get something to eat after this!

22:03
CYPRUS: This is supposed to be the favourite. Not sure why, it’s nothing special

21:58
IRELAND: Usuaully a fan favourite. Never realised they hadn’t been in it for five years though. That streetlight isn’t giving out much light though. The song wasn’t bad.

21:55
NETHERLANDS: Never a fan of country, and this one is no exception. Looks like he’s applying to be on the crystal maze.

21:50
ISRAEL: I genuintely don’t know what to make of that. She sounds like a dog choking on a chicken bone.

21:46
HUNGARY: Ha! this is more like it! The bloke singing it can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but it’s certainly more upbeat than some of the dreck on before it.

21:42
SWEDEN: I always like Sweden’s songs… unfortunately, this year isn’t one of their best. Bring back Carola, that’s what I say!

21:34
MOLDOVA: I’m not typing anything as I’m actually watching this one. It’s been the most eurovision-ny one so far.

21:34
BULGARIA: I take it we’re reaching the dreary stages, or the bit where I get bored… not sure which yet, but this one isn’t very good at all.

21:30
FINLAND: Redeeming features: 0. Not a fan of that one at all. Something about monsters being under the bed.

21:22
AUSTRALIA: I really fancy a dairy milk after seeing that dress. Very generic song.

21:18
DENMARK: I don’t think I can listen to anyone whose eyes are that close together. A bit unfair, however, as the song isn’t TOO bad. In fact, as it’s gone on, it’s grown on me. Not bad at all.

21:14
CZECH REPUBLIC: Cack. Absolute cack. Swing/Jazz is sooooo 1994.

21:11
FRANCE: It’s not great, is it? It’ll probably win.

21:06
ALBANIA: Oooh, this one isn’t bad. I do like the occasional acoustic guitar. He also looks like Photonicinduction. I keep expecting him to smash a lightbulb, then shout “I ain’t ‘avin’ it!” But yes, I do like this one very, very much.

21:02
GERMANY: It’s Ed Sheeran on a budget isn’t it? Totally ripping off every Adele Song.

21:00
SERBIA: Forgettable entry from a hipster, and someone wrapped in boiler cladding slapping fuck out of some oil drums. Nil points. Still trying to find out what that prick shouted

20:52
UNITED KINGDOM: SuRie – Storm. This is the only one I’ve actually heard (unsurprisingly), and I really like it.If politics weren’t involved, we might have had a chance of winning.

And someone ran on stage during our song. Sigh. I’m going to rewind that and see what happened.

Apparently, the intruder grabbed the mic, and shouted something foreign.

20:46
PORTUGAL: Oooh, I don’t mind this one. Pretty minimalist with just a piano in the background, but I do like it.

20:43
NORWAY: Yeah, this one isn’t great. Probably the catchiest one so far. Same lines over and over again. Nil points

20:39
Opera. Maybe this is a good a time as any to open my first can. It’s only uphill from here…. Clever dress though, that apparently cost €65,000. I wonder how many glasses just broke?

20:34
AUSTRIA: I think this is probably my favourite song so far. But please, enough of the crowd interaction. CErtainly my favourite so far.

20:30
LITHUANIA: Started off ever so slightly out of tune. Unless that’s just my ears. It’d probably be a good song, but she’s got a weird voice. Sounds a bit like her who just died out of The Cranberries. Have they banned snare drums from this years’ competition?

20:22
SLOVENIA: I doubt this one will do well at all, it’s pretty generic. I think I’d rather hear Spain’e entry again, and that almost put me in a coma. Some pointless crowd interaction there. You’re supposed to sing the song, petal, not them.

I thought these songs were only supposed to last three minutes? That felt like it went on for a fortnight.

20:22
SPAIN: Oh my god, I can’t stand this one already. I can’t understand the lyrics, but it’s setting my fucking diabetes off. NEXT! My predition is that it’ll do well. Really well.

20:18
UKRAINE: It’s slightly catchy, in a “Self Control – wo-oo-ooah” style way. The guy looks like if Declan Connelly became a vampire. And oh shit, the stairs are on fire!

I haven’t started drinking yet.

20:13
Apparently, in China, you can’t have tattoos on television, so it’s been banned. OH WELL.

20:09
Oh joy. There’s a flag ceremony.

UPDATE Dec 2018: Well, this post generated absolutely no interest, so this will be the last one of these you’ll ever see. Never mind, eh? I’m sure you’ll all sleep soundly in your beds knowing I’ll not waste any more time on these.

To the ones we’ve lost in 2017…

2017 has seen a lot of change. Normally, I’d do a review of the year, month by month, but seeing as the entire time between August and mid-December was lost to a foot problem, I don’t think there’s much point. Instead I’ll look back at some of the things that were around at the start of the year, but have now been confined to history.

First off, we’ll start off with a sad personal one of mine…

I found it too difficult to post about on here at the time, so I didn’t, but back in the summer, we lost Sam, or Samson go give him his full name. On the 19th July at the ripe old age of 18, he made his final journey “up the coast road”, to join his sister in Doggy Heaven, where she can once again try to mount him, and they can both hide rotting bits of meat under the sofa for the rest of eternity, and he can lie at the top of the stairs leading to the pearly…. dogflaps (?!), and wait for someone to trip over him in the dark. Six months have passed, and I still instinctively pause at the top of the stairs to make sure I’m not going to step on him!

BATCHELOR’S MILD CURRY SAVOURY RICE

I had intended to write a blog post addressing my dismay at the discontinuation of Mild Curry Savoury Rice, to be replaced with “Super Rice”, but I never got round to it. Although the two look very similar, to me, there was a world of difference.

I have been a fan of the Savoury Rice variety for as long as I can remember. In fact, here’s a photo of me, at Sandy Bay, demolishing a bowl of the afore-mentioned rice-based snack…

Judging by the look on my face, you can tell I was enjoying it. Or maybe I just looked that way as a kid, who knows. Anyway, this remained in the very small repertoire of foods I’d actually eat as a kid.It survived with me, throughout my teens, 20s, into my 30s. OK, there’d be times where I wouldn’t have it for months, even years, but at the back of my mind, it’d be there.

Unfortunately, it was a recipe that “Bachelors” tampered with from time to time, making a pouched “microwaveable” version, for example. These didn’t last long, and eventually went back to the dehydrated backet variety.

Fast forward a few years, and I noticed they’d changed the branding. It was now “Mild Curry Super Rice”, and instead of taking 15-20 minutes to cook, it took 5 minutes. Well, I’d be interested to see what it was like. Aaaaaaaaand, I hated it. The newly formed rice was stodgy, the flavouring stuck to the side of the pan and turned black. It was overall, a disappointing mush, and it contained the scourge of all these types of products… dried peas. Every time I see then I just have to ask why they even exist.

It turns out miracles happened, and I found a shop in the town centre that still stocked the “Savoury Rice” variety. It was still the old recipe. Longer cooking times, no dried peas. A tear of happiness rolled down my cheek. This remained the case for a good few months. Both varieties lived their separate lives.

Then, my foot happened, and I was unable to attend the town centre for a couple of months. I went to stock up, only to find… yes, you’ve guessed it… “Mild Curry Super Rice”. I fell to my knees, clutching my head. A part of me had died. A huge part of my culinary life was at an end. I hadn’t been this devastated since Birds Eye discontinued their “Boil In the Bag” curries some time in the mid 2000s.

All is not lost, however. There appears to be another change to the recipe, and dare I say, it’s “acceptable”. The rice isn’t at bad, and the flavour is adequate. If you put those two packets together though, you’ll notice the values in the health thing are different. Changed recipe, or smaller packet? I shall investigate further.

THE APPRENTICE

If, for some reason you haven’t watched it and intend to, then skip this secion as there’ll be spoilers.

Wow, what was that all about? This was by far the worst series I’ve seen it. Normally there’d be some people who you want to see do well, but no, not this year. I hated all of them. And then, that end? Both of them got the bloody money. A grand anti-climax to an utterly depressing 12 weeks of television. After this years’ disappointing show, I’d be interested to see if they completely reshuffle the way the show works, or even abandon it completely. Either way, I’m not sure I’ll bother watching.

I’d attempted to write more on this, but everything I typed just turned into a long, rambling post about nothing, so I’ll just leave with wishing you all the best for the last day of 2017, and if you have a birthday in 2018, then have a happy return.

See you in 2018!

I don’t feel like singing! Not without Fraulein Maria!

Oh, good-ee. Christmas is approaching us quicker than a speeding locomotive, blasting through the hills of Bavaria, and this year, every single advertisement break on TV has had an awfully twee advert about a mother and daughter who grow up watching “The Sound of Music” together, so the tune of “My Favourite Things”. The end of the advert sees the mother, alone, her daughter has clearly moved out, when all of a sudden, the daughter returns, and now has her own daughter, and the three of them are once again sat down to watch the Sound of Music, and I think I’ve just been sick.

Now, I thankfully have never saw the afore-mentioned film, and only know of the song because it’s used more often than a randy tramp’s condom. I genuinely think it’s something I’d never be able to sit through without retching. It got me wondering, however, if I agree with the choices made in the song, and if some of the things really are my favourite things too?

Raindrops on roses

Naaah. Admittedly, they can be photogenic, if I’ve got a good camera on me, but I’m rarely in the vacinity of roses, and I wouldn’t go out of the way to see them. Next!

And whiskers on kittens

Well that’s pretty specific isn’t it? What about the rest of the kitten? And do you suddenly go off them when the cat reaches adolescence? Admittedly, I’m not a cat person anyway. You can’t trust cats. I’ve only ever liked a handful of cats. There was Dogmeat, a small grey cat from my childhood. There was a guy that lived at the end of the road named Carl, who built bikes. I’m not sure if she was his or just a stray, but after a few months of watching us play cricket in the street, she fell pregnant, had kittens and was never seen again. Sad times.

There’s also James’s cat, who I’ve mentioned before on here.

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

When I was a kid, we used to always go to Appleby, a small town in Cumbria, famed for its annual travellers’ fair, where people go to watch horses being led into a river. Takes all sorts. Anyway, there used to be a cafe called “The Copper Kettle”. They did lovely chips. Anyway, one year, we went and it had gone. This devastating news meant we never went back to Appleby.
Google tells me it still exists, so it appears it’s reopened in the same location. I doubt it’ll be the same, and their recipe for chips will likely be confined to the history books. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever return to Appleby anyway, so I guess I’ll never know. As for actual copper kettles… No. Not when electric kettles exist.

As for the mittens, absolutely not. I don’t like having my hands covered, and you’ll never see me with a pair of gloves on, or indeed, warm woolen mittens. That’s why coats have pockets.

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

In this day and age of terrorism, I’d be more wary of this, especially if it wasn’t expected. Anyway, cardboard boxes are more common these days. I wonder if anyone actually received packages like this any more…

These are a few of my favorite things

Zero from four. Not going good so far, is it?

Cream-colored ponies

I’ve never once looked at a pony of any colour and thought “That’s one of my favourite things”. I might have got slightly jealous, mind you….

and crisp apple strudels

You know, I went to Austria a few years ago, and never had strudel. I’m not a great fan of apple pie, so I don’t know whether I’d like it or not.

Doorbells and sleigh bells

Can’t stand the doorbell. It’s usually someone wanting money off me. Or, it’s one of the little local scruffians ringing the doorbell and running off. Unless I’m expecting someone, or expecting a package, I usually don’t answer the door. And sleigh bells usually signify Christmas, so you can get stuffed with those too.

And schnitzel with noodles

Ooooo! Finally! Going back to my trip to Austria, I DID have schnitzel, and really liked it. Not sure if I’d class it as one of my favourite things, but if I were to go to Vienna aagain, I’d definitely be ordering the schnitzel. I didn’t see it for sale with noodles though. Is that really a thing, or just more shoddy rhyming There can’t be many things that rhyme with “strudel”?

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

Right, I’m getting bored of this now, and I’m aware there’s another verse, but I can’t be arsed to do it. At this point, I think that they were just looking for words that rhymed with “things”, because I’ve never seen a moonlit goose. It’s also likely that I never will, as most of the time, I would be below the goose, and any moonlight reflecting off their wings would be pointed upwards. A poor show

These are a few of my favorite things

Well, as I expected, I disagreed with most of these, But, somewhere, in a Mexican jail, I bet there’ll be someone in a Mexican jail, with this going through their head, as Jose, the “cream coloured pony” enters the cell….

Repressed childhood memories #186

Picture if you will. The year is 1988. I sit in school, in Mrs. Dawson’s class, staring out of the window, paying very little to no attention to what is flowing from the afore-mentioned teachers’ mouth, instead he stars across the playground, watching two birds peck away at the remains of another dead bird, when all of a sudden, the classroom doors bang. It’s the caretaker, and behind him he’s pulling the school telly! Of course, it’s a Rumbelows one, on wheels. The class erupts with excitement as she pulls out an ancient VHS tape out of her desk drawer.

This will be the only time in the entire school day that the class will have her full undivided attention.

“If you’re good, I’ll let you hear the music”, she says, bribing the class into facing the front, as she struggles to get the sun visor across the top of the telly in place, as it collapses hilariously at least once. Of course, we’ll hear the music because Mrs Dawson only knew one button, and that was the Play button.

In goes the tape, and she presses play. There they are. For me, the highlight of computer animation at the time. Yes, four spinning ITV logos.

We could have been waiting for a programme on making cardboard boxes (to be honest, we probably were), but as long as I got to see (and hear) that, I was content.

These “Schools” TV shows were always broadcast in the morning, so when you were off poorly, it’d be a special treat to actually see that animation on your own telly. And, of course, I’d be sat there with the tape recorder, grabbing as much as I could.. Sometimes you’d get more of the track than before, as the gap in between each program was different

At the time, we thought that this music and countdown clock was there to help teachers queue the programme up for the class. While this may be partially right, there was also a much more mundane reason. These were the days before the national curriculum, and different areas were allowed to show different programmes, meaning that one region could show a 14-minute programme, and the rest of the country could be watching a 12-minute programme, so for that extra two minutes, the rest of the country will see an extra two minutes of the spinning ITVs while they wait for that region to catch up. On very rare occasions, they would play the full track, if there was an especially long wait between regions.

I remember getting this on audio tape, and I played it that much, the tape snapped. The music was surely lost to obscurity. This animation ran every school morning from 1987 until 1993. By then, the national curriculum was fully in place, and eventually there was no need for long breaks between programmes.

In 2002, I made a brief post about this animation and a site I’d discovered which had far too much technical detail about this. Sadly, the site no longer exists.

However, I did manage to find out who did the music. It was by someone named James Aldenham. Except it wasn’t, because that name was a pseudonym for Brian Bennett, the bloke out of The Shadows. It turns out that both of the pieces of music were released on CD, and due to their rarity, were stupidly expensive. They were on the “Music House” label.

“The Journey”, which is the long bit of music was released on “Atmosphere 12 MHA-!2)” and “Just a Minute”, unsurprisingly, the countdown clock music was on “That’s Entertainment (MHE-15)”

And, thanks to eBay, at under a fiver each, I have them both. Another part of my musical journey (pardon the pun) over.

EDIT 5/7/17: Here’s a little bit of extra information for those playing along at home. For the entirety of its run, both tracks were only ever aired in mono. During the initial introduction when the schools broadcast started for that day, the first minute of “The Journey” would always be played, before fading out to the clock. This recording was of a fixed length, and the audio was taken from the left channel track, and every other broadcast would be played from the right.

The reason for this, is that the left channel had slightly less instrumentation around the intro, so it could be made to sound more “peaceful” to start the day.

Sky News made a seagull eat my chips

SO, with the date of the most important referendum any of us will have endured for the past 6 months only a couple of hours away, the media has been in overdrive about it. It’s rather like my house and CDs. YOu can’t turn hour head without either an opinion on Brexit (I absulutely hate the phrase) or someone spouting why my little tick on a piece of paper would CHANGE the face OF THE WORLD.

Anyway, enough about that, and about what was my most memorable part of this whole election debarcle. I just happened to be at work, after dragging myself from my man-flu laden pit, and glanced at one of the tellies that constantly show Sky News (except for that brief period where England had an afternoon game, and they were switched over to the footy), and noticed something familiar. Kay ” As Coarse As Sandpaper Undies” Burley.

Well, yes, she’s familar. But it was the background that caught my attention, and the fact it said “Hartlepool”, in the top right corner sort-of gave it away. Yes, Sky News had invaded my little home town. And, not only that, they were on the Marina about 10 minutes away from where I worked.

I headed off in the general direction of where they were broadcasting from, and a big old satellite truck gave their exact location away. Of course, the first stop off would be some dinner, and off I popped to get some chips. Bloody hell. £2 Two English Pounds. Apparently, this was a temporary price rise due to the price of potatoes going up. Oddly, I hadn’t seen anywhere else putting their prices up, but never mind. I got a portion of chips, and slowly walked around wh were the camera crew were.

I make no screts about me having an interest in television, and I love to take a good old photo of a telly camera whenever possible, and today was no exception. Unafortunately, I couldn’t get *really* close as they were broadcasting from a pontoon behind a 6 foot gate.

DSC_1348

In order to document the whole experience in digital form (a.k.a. take that photo), I had to put my chips down. That’s when an enterprising little twat known as Steven Seagull grabbed the bloody tray of chips from me, drag it just enough distance to save them from being hygenically rescued, and began to tear the tray open in front of my eyes.

DSC_1345

Yeah, thanks Sky News. You cost me my dinner.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I did deflatedly pick the mangled tray/fork up and put it in a bin. I can’t stand litter.)