Tuesday, September 26, 2006

So long, farewell...

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall...

In fact it's probably a relieved sound of sighing now that dreadful prime-time audition show has finally finished on a Saturday evening. Not that I watched a single episode; usually favouring some quality control (to excess) in the Tap or watching something more interesting on the other side. I enjoyed the film (especially at the cinema when I first saw it) and the songs are all classics, but stage auditions to not entertain me in the least. Okay, maybe I'd think differently if they were auditioning for Evita, but I digress.

Today's post shares the title of the song I expect to be singing to the remains of my social life for the foreseeable future following a video conference call I was involved in this afternoon. I've already successfully restricted social activities to Fridays and Saturdays, avoiding beer on school nights at all costs, but it seems even that may need trimming down further. Today I suddenly acquired a workload of epic proportions with a deadline of... oh, there it went.

So plenty of early starts and late finishes to look forward to and plenty more short notice to-ing and fro-ing across Europe, which always manages to sound a lot more glamorous than it is in reality.

Somewhere in between I have a Mum who's finishing work to enjoy a long overdue and much deserved retirement and a special little Niece who's about to turn seven. Obviously, these celebrations will remain at the top of the "to do" list because as far as I'm concerned, some things should always take priority over work.

Oh, and I'll try to update the blog as often as possible but for tonight, I ought to be getting an early night.

The sun has gone to bed and so must I...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Protein overdose...

Today's lunch has been brought to me by the words "tap", "meat draw", "George Foreman grill" and the sound "hmmm".

For the second week running, I've bagged the mixed grill prize in the pub meat draw and for the second time, I've greatly over-estimated the amount I can comfortably eat in one meal.

The prize itself consists of two rump steaks, pork steaks, gammon steaks, lamb chops, six linconlshire sausages and a couple of tomatoes, so I didn't think it unreasonable to freeze half and grill the other half with a couple of fried eggs. I'm pleased I didn't bother with any chips, mushrooms or onion rings as it was all I could do to eat the miniature farm that was laid out before me.

I really don't antipate much activity taking place this afternoon and can't remember feeling this disgracefully over-nourished since, erm..., last weekend...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What Friday nights are for...

Earlier this week I was invited to join the Tap football team.

Surely, you didn't even consider that I might actually play? No, they had a bowling night planned for last night and a few of us were invited to go along on the understanding that there could possibly be a beer or two along the way somewhere. Chances are, the younger ones would finish bowling and head of for a wild night in Cleethorpes and the "more responsible" among us would sneak off and get a meal somewhere.

Do you ever start reading a post and instantly know what's going to happen next?

It had all the elements of an excellent night out. I threw in a half decent game of bowls, there was the ancticipated high volume and variety of beers, visited a few bars I've never been in before, fish and chip supper, one of the guys anounced he's about to become a Dad, another celebrated his birthday, there was even a very attractive stripper amongst the proceedings.

It's surprising how many people have cameras on their mobile phones these days...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fair's fair...

I'm fully aware before I even start typing that I'm venturing into delicate subject matter, but what the hell, this is something that has been on my mind for several years now and I was reminded of it again this morning.

I spend a considerable amount of my working hours these days attending refresher courses or updates on employment law; usually as a result of amended legislation being introduced to actively discourage discrimination. Although our litigation-obsessed society is clearly here to stay (thanks Uncle Sam), I am genuinely in favour of any changes to make the working environment a fair one, albeit grounds of sex, race, religion, age, physical stature, or anything else you care to dream up.

Without getting competely on my holier-than-thou high horse, I think there is enough tension around this planet of ours as a result of someone feeling or being undermined by someone else.

So on to my case in point. Tonight at the Royal Albert Hall, London sees the 11th annual MOBO awards. MOBO in case you weren't aware stands for music of black origin. Please believe me when I say I am by no means racist and I am aware that the awards are open to musicians of any race performing music of black origin, but still, can this be seen as politically correct? Would the concept of a music of white origin awards be considered appropriate? Many would argue (maybe correctly) that the other major music awards ceremonies are already fulfilling that role.

Surely, the way forward is to open the minds of those selecting categories in non-discriminate awards ceremonies rather than creating these divides?

Idealistic? Maybe, but I thought it was worth a mention...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

'kin spiders...

Todays title is one of my favourite exclamations of recent times and often heard in the vicinty of a certain long-haired mate of mine.

However, my rationale for the phrase of choice this evening is not that I have been surprised by anything particularly, but simply that I am getting sick of 'kin spiders, although to be fair, it's not so much the little critters themselves.

Admittedly, I've never really been much of a fan and I deliberately searched for an arachnophobe-friendly illustration, but having spent a lot of money on a place of my own, I'm not about to give it up for some little eight legged intruders. As with the crane flies I've mentioned before, I'm not keen on killing them either, preferring wherever possible to perform the time honoured glass tumbler and postcard trick.

No, my raison de witter this evening is the very subject of the photo above - I've had enough of walking into their bloody webs. Anyone who's actually seen me would testify that it's an impressive web that would capture me long enough for Boris to come along and satisfy his appetite, but they can stop you in your tracks in a second, with a sudden need to flap and brush the miles of sticky silky thread from about your person.

I think things reached a head when I noticed one had spun a web across the entire width of my drive between the bungalow and the fence. There he was, sat in the middle of it, with a menacing grin [probably], watching me park the car on the other side of the gate and awaiting my countergambit. My crude response was to walk around the perimeter of the bungalow with an upturned brush, sending them all on their merry way to set up home elsewhere (hopefully still outside).

Of course, what I hadn't bargained on was that while I'd been busy at work all day, so had they. Like I said, 'kin spiders...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Calling time...

It's been a busy weekend, what with sampling the limited edition Hewitts Ale at the Tap (even more limited now I've had my fill) and re-aquainting myself with the regulars and my little friend the Hobgoblin, I hadn't had chance to ring Little Sis.

I know we now have the open forum of Blogger to hurl coments back and forth about who had it toughest as a kid (bikes, pianos, smoking mothers, blah, blah, blah), but we had the serious matter of the my niece's forthcoming birthday to discuss. Problem is, her reading is improving at such a pace that I daren't risk giving anything away on here. Come to think of it her daughter, Little Z is a pretty good reader too these days. Oh-oh, Seany's in trouble.

For once I remembered Jajah before I picked up the phone, so I took advantage of getting a free long distance phone call as I recently discovered that if you don't use their services for two weeks, you have to re-activate your account, which is a little inconvenient. I also discovered this evening that if you haven't said everything you wanted within an hour, they disconnect your call.

Still I'm not complaining, even with these limitations they are still providing you with a free telephone service and it's not like anyone talks on the phone for more than an hour. Except for me and Little Sis apparently.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I can assure you that I have no connection with this company at all and I'm not on any kind of commission arrangement with them, it just seems to good a deal to keep to myself...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Geek shame...

Way back in my BTEC Computer Study days at Grimsby "College of Nolledge" as it was affectionately known, we were let loose on the pinnacle of modern technology that was the Commodore Pet. (I'd probably better quickly brush aside the fact that I found that picture on a computer museum site). It was on one of those machines that I was first introduced to VisiCalc and the concept of spreadsheets; a fascination which I've been unable to shake off since.

Since evolving through SuperCalc on my BBC Model B and Lotus 1-2-3 on the office PC, I eventually settled down with Excel and despite my years of working with the things, I'm still fascinated by what you can get them to do and learning new tricks all the time.

I sat for a couple of minutes at work this afternoon feeling rather pleased with myself having just finished the testing on my latest creation. It is a veritable symphony of cross-references, control buttons with macros and nested logical formulae that would make the hairs on the back or your neck stand on end.

Did I mention I've not been to the pub for 4 weeks? Can you tell? Well, the weekend is almost here and I anticipate some serious priority re-alignment for a couple of days...

Fingers crossed...

I just wanted to send a quick "Good Luck" message to Little Sis who has been out today and will be out again tomorrow visiting schools on her quest for a teaching post.

Of course, it would have been nice to be able to leave a comment on her blog but Blogger won't let me in...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What a waste...

I've just finished watching a documentary on ITV - Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic and the same thought is going round in my mind - what a complete and utter waste.

I'm not referring to the great man himself, except that it still seems a dreadful waste that we were deprived of his talents so soon. However, I said my piece on that topic a few days ago. No, this is another swipe at our increasingly tabloid style of media (to be fair, not the BBC for a change) and their fascination with spending considerable time telling us absolutely nothing whatsoever.

In a 45 minute documentary, they had exclusive interviews with Freddie's mother, sister and an old schoolfriend during which you would have hoped they could give us a bit of an insight to the man behind the stage persona we all remember.

Unfortunately no - the entire documentary appeared to be obsessed with the fact that he was gay. Sure, it was undoubtedly a major facet of his personal life but this was hardly groundbreaking news to the world at large, let alone any Queen or Freddie fans.

I have to wonder whether his family would have been so keen to contribute had they known what utter drivel they were scheduled to be part of...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fun with Blogger...

I thought it would be fun to have a nose around the new Blogger Beta this morning and see what it had to offer. There are some nice new formatting facilities on there but unfortunately it doesn't transfer any customised features you've added so when you've made as many changes as I have, it's difficult to see why I would want to change just yet.

However, it looks like I am no longer able to leave comments using my Blogger ID and reading Delcatto's post this afternoon, it seems that there are problems leaving comments here too. Now that is certainly less than convenient.

Sorry guys, but it won't let me change back again so if you are leaving a comment on here, please make sure you use the "Other" option when choosing an identity or make a sneaky copy of your comment somewhere before posting just to ensure you don't lose it.

Isn't progress a wonderful thing...

A sense of patriotism...

I'm not sure where I'm heading with this one as I'm not exactly sure if I'm supposed to be proud to be English or British or perhaps both. What are the English are supposed to be good at exactly to make me feel proud? When the British are good at something, it seems that any individual responsible is seldom English. As an English nation, we don't have a national anthem or parliament to ourselves, but those are maybe points for discussion another time.

We certainly seem to have a bit of a mixed identity where sport is involved. As English, we were happy to gloat and support our football team in the recent world cup, but as Mr Henman has failed to achieve a Wimbledon tennis final once again, future hopes are now pinned on the young Brit, Andrew Murray.

Seany epiphany alert.

I was lucky enough to catch the second half of the Last Night of the Proms and it's the first time for years I remember taking time out to watch it. My attention was initially caught by Nicola Benedetti, not for her physical appearance (delightful though it is), but for her performance of Meditation by Thais; one of my all time favourite pieces of music. In short, it was beautiful. However, the fact that this enormously talented 19 year old hails from Scotland, or Great Britain if you prefer, wasn't the motivation behind this post.

It was soon time for the big finale and as sure as Queen would always finish with "We are the Champions", we heard the traditional choruses of Land of Hope & Glory, Rule Britannia and Jerusalem.

Now in recent years, and I'm guessing as a result of overwhelming demand for "Last Night" tickets, they have held simultaneous outdoor Proms in the Park concerts. So in addition to the 6000 or so in the Royal Albert Hall, massive crowds were also assembled outside in London, Swansea, Glasgow and Belfast (oh, and Manchester) and all were united in frantic flag waving and singing their hearts out.

For a fleeting moment I actually felt an overwhelming sense of national pride. I'm not exactly sure for what nation; English, British, or whatever, the point is that it really doesn't matter. As individual countries or as a United Kingdom, we certainly know how to have a bloody good sing-song...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thoughts of Faraway...

While I had a little time to spare this afternoon, I finally got around to adding the moon phase panel to my collection of links down the left hand side of the blog.

My wandering mind being what it is, I suddenly found myself thinking about Moon Face from Enid Blyton's Enchanted Wood and Magic Faraway Tree stories and how incredible it is that my little niece is now enjoying the stories every bit as much as her Mum and Uncle Seany did when they were her age. When Little Sis told me they were reading the book with Curious Connie, I found I could easily recall the various characters who lived in the magical tree and some of the lands that used to visit the top of it.

Curious myself to see if the stories had much of an internet presence, I surfed around and was shocked amongst my searching to discover that apparently, the characters have had to undergo a few changes. The three children have now changed names from Jo, Bessie and Fanny to Joe, Beth and Frannie. Even Cousin Dick is now Cousin Rick. All in the name of bringing them up to date and reducing the possibility of offence. Political correctness gone mad!

Anyway, for those who are interested, you can read the Wikipedia entry here and there is a great site here full of pictures and links.

I really must get back out to the pub again next weekend...

Friday, September 08, 2006

The right to reply...

Or more accurately, the reluctance to reply - yes it's the next episode in the "Auntie" story.

You may recall from a couple of posts back that I had entered into correspondance with the BBC trying to track down a TV series "Songwriter's Circle". To save you looking back I'll quickly recap:

I sent them an e-mail (when I eventually found a "general enquiry" form)
They replied saying they can't guarantee a reply to all e-mails
They replied again saying they couldn't me help without further detail
I replied to that message with more detail
They replied saying that they couldn't access my reply on their e-mail address
I re-sent the reply using their their enquiry form

They have since replied again. Firstly to remind me that due to the volume of enquiries they receive, they cannot guarantee a reply. They then replied once more to say there were no plans to repeat the programme but if they did, it would be included in TV listings such as "Radio Times".

I suspect the latter was another standard reply as it referred to a programme rather than a series and they clearly couldn't pass up the chance of advertising their listings magazine of choice.

Furthermore, they went on to say that if I wanted to suggest the "programme" be commercially released, then I should put my request in writing. I suspect rather like the two written requests I've just sent then?

Do I pursue it further, or just give up? Should I be typically insenced at the fact that they've rattled through my enquiry without paying any attention whatsoever to the content? Quite frankly, I'm a little disappointed but I just can't be arsed.

Conversely, perhaps I should feel honoured that despite the large volumes of enquiries they have to deal with, I was fortunate enough to have them reply to two of mine in a row...

Afterthought: If you have reached this post by Googling for Songwriter's Circle, please leave me a comment if you have more success with the beeb than I have...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

There can be only one...

Today marks the birthday of Freddie Mercury who would have been 60 today.

I have always had a huge respect for Queen, who were one of the few bands prepared to venture into unchartered musical territory and pursue what they wanted to play rather than following the mainstream chart fodder. That said, they certainly had their fair share of success.

When he died (an unbelievable 15 years ago), it was to become one of my great regrets that I'd passed up the chance twice to see them play live. The nearest I got was the following year when, thanks to my brother-in-law being in the fan club, we managed to get tickets for the tribute concert at Wembley Stadium. To this day, it remains one of the most amazing concerts I've seen with a whole array of musical heroes assembling from all corners of the globe to join the remaining band members and 72,000 fans to pay their respects to the great entertainer. Possibly the only time I've been so happy and yet so sad at the same time.

I read today that the government in Zanzibar (Freddie's birth place) have received numerous objections from the local Muslim community calling for a celebratory gala party to be cancelled on the grounds that it is tantamount to promoting homosexuality. That's an argument I'll leave with them, but I think we all know that wherever he is, Freddie will be partying like a good 'un, pleased to know that he is still uppermost in so many peoples thoughts today and that indeed, the show does go on...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Back to square one...

I've never actually been to the Old Kent Road so I can't really go back, but the point is, I'm back where I started just over a week ago, having missed the opportunity to pass go and pick up my obligatory 200 notes.

In a nutshell, it was the first day back to work today, the holiday now a distant memory and the return every bit the non-event that I had anticipated. Only 47 e-mails waiting in the inbox which isn't bad for four days; many of which weren't worthy of reading and 9 of which were requests for me to complete the new 360 degree appraisals for my colleagues. That's this weeks work taken care of then.

On the subject of getting nowhere fast, I wrote to the BBC this weekend. Not to pass comment on the "skills" of our evening news reader, or even to state my almost honourable intentions for his female colleagues on the breakfast news. I'm trying to track down some information on one of their programmes.

About 6 years ago, BBc2 broadcast a series of programmes called "Songwriters Circle" where two or three singer-songwriters would take to the stage, tell us a little about some of the songs they had written and throughout, perform live acoustic versions of the songs in question. Aside from the fact that they would provide a valuable insight to the somewhat lesser talented boys and girls occupying the airwaves of late, I thought they were genuinely interesting and entertaining programmes.

Unable to find any trace of them on the BBC website (or even Google for that matter), I decided to drop Auntie a quick line and ask whether they were ever likely to be repeated, or if not, whether I could in fact buy the series on DVD or video. I should have taken heed of the fact that the BBC seem reluctant for you to e-mail them through their own site for "general" enquiries. Having waded through pages of FAQ's and attempts to answer my question before I'd asked it, I finally reached the hallowed enquiry form and sent my message.

Almost immediately, I received a reply stating that the BBC receive lots of e-mails and it is unlikely that I would receive a personal reply. Keen start there then.

I was delighted tonight to find amongst my e-mails a message from the BBC until I read "I understand you wish to obtain a BBC recording of your father-in law". Well that would be a nice surprise for him, not to mention the wife. Assuming of course that either actually existed.

I hit the reply button, explained politely that I was short in the father-in-law department to the tune of one and repeated my original request with a few more dates and details I'd discovered in the meantime. Another immediate response followed stating that they no longer monitor the e-mail address that had written to me and that I may find it useful to visit their website and use one of their pre-designed forms.

Let the games commence: ctrl a, ctrl c (copy whole e-mail), ctrl v (dump the entire contents in their enquiry form) and sit back waiting for the next e-mail explaining why they don't want to help one of their exorbitant license fee payers...

Friday, September 01, 2006

The great escape...

I'm pleased to report that although it looked unlikely at the beginning of the week, I managed to get away to visit Little Sis and family for a couple of days after all. I should also set the record straight that this was purely as a result of winning over the cold rather than the threats that have been alledged elsewhere. OK, maybe a bit of both, but a guy's got to keep some sort of self respect.

Anyway, I'm glad I made the effort as we managed cram a lot of fun in over two and a half days:
~ surprised my little nephew by meeting him from nursery
~ trip to the beach where same little chap enticed me into the sea (except his Mum was ready with a change of clothing)
~ watched little niece (who is decreasingly little every time I see her) honing her cycling skills while her brother had a rather less enjoyable attempt at stunt riding
~ singalong/playalong-a-Seany where we sang every nursery rhyme and song that Uncle Seany could rustle together with three chords
~ quick guitar and chess lessons for Little Sis (no, not simultaneous)
~ playing the board games where they don't usually have enough people to play with
~ the obligatory pub lunch to give the chef a day off
~ loads of other good food at home including a hugely excessive (but delicious all the same) ice-cream sundae last night

All in all, a great week off, despite the slow start, which finally had the desired effect of getting work off the brain for a few days...