29 May 2009

Homeward Bound

A beautiful summers day left me with an urge to leave work early, which I duly did (I will be making up the hours at home, but on laptop in the garden, rather than a dingy office).

Looking to maximise fresh air time, I decided to see if there was an alternative route to walk home from work that was a bit more countrified than the dull repetitiveness of Queen Ediths Way.

As I sometimes have to teach off site at a little training centre that's only about a mile from the hospital, and about a mile and a half from the Slippy Towers (as the crow flies.....), I thought I'd try to negotiate them both and see how long it takes. This would mean that if Mrsslippy's working early and I'm teaching, it means I don't have to drop her off at 7 o'clock, then debate whether to go back home for an hour, or go straight to Magog Court and work on my own in a soulless IT centre for a couple of hours. One day I'll take my Wii with me and make use of the 8 foot square interactive white board, but I might accidentally end up staying the night if I did...

A quick Google suggested that there was a road cutting along Magog Golf Course, then a bridleway through the quaintly named 'Beechwoods', then a track across the fields that Mrsslippy and I have walked across before, but in the other direction.

It would double my usual route, but as I said, the weather was nice, and then I'd know how long it took to walk to the the training centre at the roundabout if I got the bus to the hospital, and how long it would take to go straight there across the fields.

Twenty minutes to the golf club, then start walking along the road towards the woods.

It didn't say 'Private Road', but fuck me, the golfers looked at me as if it was....

I wasn't dressed for golf, but I was still in a shirt and trousers from work, but there were scornful looks as I crossed the car park, and looks of suspicion/derision as I strode out - a spring in my step and a smile on my face, enjoying the weather.

I've never been a fan of golf. I have friends who play, and I can understand why they do, but despite the increase in open courses, I find the whole private club, no women in the bar, old boys doing deals on the greens thing just a bit fucking elitist, and The Magogs strikes me as just one of those clubs.

As I approached the woods it appeared there was a bit of a flaw in my plan. As men stopped mid stroke to look at me walk past I came to a sign saying 'Access to Woods from Fulbourn Road Only'.


The club had done it's damnedest to prevent access. Presumably this was to stop people getting onto the course from the woods, and although I probably could have just scrambles and climbed my way through, I had too much dignity, so I did the next best thing - I faked a phone call.

"Yes, I'm on my way up there now.........what......the one by the club house?....I couldn't see your car so thought you meant the other one.....ok I'll come back down now...see you in a minute",

and I turned tail and walked back down the road, head held high. A cursory glance over my shoulder confirmed what I already knew. They were still watching...staring....cunts.

Back in the car park, I was faced with two choices. Double back to the hospital, or walk 200m up Lime Kiln Hill, and cut across to the woods and over the field to home.

Fields it was, and as I walked along the drive out the car park, more cars with rubber-neckers drove past, furious that scumbag me was walking near where they twat little white balls around.

I heard a car pull up alongside me, and drew a deep breath, expecting the 'What do you think you're doing?'

Instead, in a polite but not posh accent that I could not place, I got a 'Do you need a lift?'

'No thanks' said I to the two blokes inside 'I'm enjoying the sun and the fresh air -cheers anyway'.

They didn't even ask where I was going, or care that I clearly wasn't a golfer - just a couple of good Samaritans checking if I needed a hand.

My faith in the golfing fraternity restored!

For a nanosecond.

As the car drove off I clocked the plates and twigged the accent.


I've been mistaken for a German a few times on holiday. Did they think I was one of their own? Lost and car less on a balmy summers day?

I doubt it, I think they just don't do the whole class/private member thing that the English do so well, and just offered another human being a hand.

I followed the field edge up Lime Kiln Hill, conscious that the cars hurtling down it wouldn't think twice about knocking me down, and crossed over to the north side of Beechwoods, and into the field that would take me home.

Only last time we crossed it the corn wasn't 4 feet high, and what was once a path, was now just crops and very uneven soil. Unperturbed I walked on, enjoying the sunshine,and the rustle of the crops in the gentle breeze.

It took me about 90 minutes to get home, rather than 30, so I don't think it's a route I'll be using very often.

If I need to go anywhere that's too far to walk I'll just hang around in Lederhosen and wait for a passing German.

28 May 2009

Its a Good Life

I've just had a bit of a 'moment'.

An epiphany.

A realisation that the man I was is slipping away...

I've probably been living in Cambridge too long, and it's rubbed away all the rough edges.

It dawned on me while I was in the garden a few minutes ago.

I'd started cooking my dinner, and was just taking some rubbish out.

Or to be more precise, I was boiling some vegetables to make a healthy home made soup(curried carrot and parsnip thant you for asking), and was taking the peelings, wrapped in newspaper, out to the compost bin.

With half an eye on my watch so I didn't miss the start of Springwatch, I was inspecting my own crop of vegetables, which now consists of three types of potato, two types of carrot, savoy cabbages, lettuce, cauliflour, two types of peas, baby sweetcorn, onions, spring onions, two types of peppers, strawberries, and a host of herbs.

Content that they were fine, and none of the bird feeders needed topping up, I was crossing the lawn, taking care not to trip over my flip flops or sarong....yes sarong....it hit me.

My sarong is very comfortable. I bought it in Borneo as it was dress code in one of the lodges we stayed at, and I enjoyed the 'airyness' of it so much I bought my own. It stops me slobbing around in just a bath towel, which was a previous habit, and is really rather fetching.

But that does not alter the fact that I have become a soup cooking, recycling, vegetable growing, sandals and skirt wearing hippy.

Am I getting old, or is it a midlife crisis. If it is a midlife crisis then I really am fucked. I'm not in middle age! I'm young! Vivavcious! I play hard and fast, or fast and loose, or something.....anyway, I still play!

Where is my pork pie?

Where is my chocolate milkshake?

Why, when Mrsslippy is on nights am I not down the pub, or gorging myself on a huge bloody steak?

I've got free reign of the tv, I should be watching cheesy horror, classic sci-fi, or just porn (although Kate Humble is looking very good on Springwatch, I shan't be shuffling one off).

I should have the Wii on, shooting Zombies, or Nazis, or Zombie Nazis.

That's it.

My soup should be ready to attack with the hand blender. I'll eat that, then open a tinny, and heads it's a classic DVD, tails it's Resident Evil.

After I've watered the hanging baskets and window boxes....

27 May 2009

Slippys Choice

Sometimes we all have to do things that we find distasteful, amoral, and just downright shameful.

I could list many, but tonight I stoop to an all time low on my social barometer of what is a VERY BAD THING as I find myself faced with a decision that I find thoroughly unpalatable.

I'm supporting Manchester United.

It's not really that I want them to win, it's that I don't want Barcelona to.

Just like Meryl Streep in Sophie's choice, neither going is not an option. It will only prolong the inevitability of a firing squad, so I must choose who to lose, and after weighing up the alternatives, with a heavy heart it is Manchester I cling to as Barcelona are dragged off crying for their mothers.

Eto for Barca. Bollocks.

It wasn't an easy choice, and I've mentally gone through the pro's and cons of a decision I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life.

Against Manchester United

  • They are Manchester United
  • Ronaldo is a slimy, cheating cunt
  • Winning two on the bounce will make them so smug
  • They are Manchester United
  • They've won enough this year already
  • They are Manchester United
For Manchester United
  • They are not Barcelona
  • They are an English team
  • They are not a Spanish team
  • I've got the teeniest amount of respect for Giggs, who maybe deserves it before he retires
  • I hate Puyol more than Ronaldo (he fucked up a potentially winning World Cup fantasy team for me, and I have never forgiven him. And he has shit hair.
  • Some of my friends are real Man Utd fans (ie never been there), and the philanthropist in me wouldn't begrudge them a little bit of pleasure.
Twenty five minutes in and it looks like Barcas goal was against the run of play...oh oh..Xavi free kick..........and safe....., so things may turn out right in the long run.

For now, I think I'd better go and get myself a stiff drink. It might make it a bit easier to cope with what I'm doing with a bit of dutch courage and beer goggles.

But when I wake up tomorrow, all bleary eyed and unsure of what I got up to the night before, I'll be able to look back on this blog, and all the shame will come flooding back.

Am I getting into bed with a stunner, or a munter?

Only time will tell.

Whisper it proud ....Come on Man U.......

26 May 2009

Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

To (mis)qoute Shakespeare, I am now suffering in a sling (no arrows involved), due to the outrageous fortune of being bitten by some terrible beastie that had obviously been gargling with raw effluent before sinking it's fangs into me.

It looked bad enough yesterday, so when it was even redder, more swollen, and creeping further up my arm, it seemed like a trip to the GP really was on order.

Unfortunately, due to availability issues, I couldn't get an appointment today, so trudged into work, vowing to keep an eye on it.

Eventually, after succumbing to much peer pressure, which as the name implies, involves a lot of peering and poking, I begrudgingly went to A&E.

I felt like such a fraud, apologising first to the nurse on Triage, then the receptionist that I had tried to get to the GP. Self diagnosis and 15 years of nursing told me that all I needed was a good dose of Flucloxacillin, and I'd be on my way and right as reign in no time, but with the rate the infection was creeping up my arm, I needed to start anti-biotics today, and with no joy with the GP, I'd have to come and sit with the rest of the walking wounded who really should have been at the GP surgery.

The waiting area of A&E is a fascinating, although sometimes uncomfortable place to people watch. I'd removed my ID badge, so there could be no accusations of queue jumping and favouritism should my infection prove more important than the man who'd had a lump on his foot for three weeks that gave him no pain, but today decided it was urgent enough to come straight to hospital.

There was a couple there who were clearly on a family day out, having brought flasks of tea, sandwiches, and several magazines. I have no idea which of them was waiting to be seen. They were there when I arrived, and there when I left.

I patiently watched as other people impatiently challenged any staff who accidentally made eye contact (which is quite hard when people walk up to them and put their face 6 inches in front of them), and demand to know why they have been waiting 2 hours. Or just walk straight into the treatment area to see 'just what all the staff are doing'.

Um....because it's busy? And you're not dying, whereas someone came in an hour ago that was, so we had to..you know..re-prioritise things a little bit.

Not that that's what the staff said. They were polite and courteous, without being patronising. How they get through the day without saying "Just fuck off and stop wasting our time with your insignificant little scratch, that I bet if it happened at home you'd do fuck all about, but because you're on work time you come here with your muddy boots and your 'I'm the center of the universe' attitude, demanding we stop everything to deal with you, you self centred little prick. Fuck off to Boots and buy a packet of plasters you insufferable cunt." I'll never know.

So I was seen after 90 minutes, which I thought was pretty good considering the triviality of my complaint, and now have a course of anti-biotics, and been told to keep my hand in a high sling.

Feeling a bit useless at work, I opted to come home, and being as Mrsslippy was nearly done, and her work was quiet, she nicked off too and will pay them back the hours.

She's gone to Tesco - I couldn't face going with her and enduring the cruel stares, nor would be much use with pushing the trolley, or pack and carry bags.

Nor will I be able to make dinner, or wash up.

I will be able to drink coffee, watch and control the TV, and pootle on the computer (different to work, where a lot of actions involve using the mouse and the keyboard at the same time - not so here).

As long as I avoid doing anything too heavy, or that takes two hands I should be safe, so I hope Mrsslippy comes home soon.

I think I need the toilet.

25 May 2009

Uncomfortably Numb

Having hands like two balloons may have been the epitome of comfort and numbness to Messers. Waters and Gilmour, but to be honest, I think it's overrated.

Maybe it's because only one hand is affected, and I need both to be balloon like to experience the alleged pleasure it devolves.

Some fucking creature bit me yesterday morning. I don't know what, as I neither saw nor felt the assault. I just noticed a small white itchy lump as I was pootling around. It could have come from the garden - I'd been out for an hour doing a spot of watering and weeding. It could have been a stowaway from Brazil - I'd been poking around in the suitcases. It could have been just some double hard bastard mozzy that spiked me as I slept, and I just didn't notice the lump until I'd been up for a couple of hours.

All I know is, it has definitely disagreed with me. My hand has slowly ballooned, whilst getting redder and redder.

If I clench my fist (sort of - the skins too tight to do it properly), the skin blanches, and the surface looks blistered and burnt.

It even seems to be tracking up my arm. If it hasn't improved in the morning, I think a trip to the GP's might be in order.

I've seen too many (or not enough?) films to speculate on what might be bubbling away under my skin.

Whilst Alien chestbursters tend to grow in the chest, how fucking cool would it be to have one of them fly out the back of your hand? And I've not been in any teleporters recently, so the chances of me turning into Slippyfly are also a bit slim.

More likely it's just some mutant plague, or the larvae of some exotic insect that will consume me from the inside out.

Whatever it is, there's one thing that's certain, the top layer of skin is so fucked it's going to slide off in some sort of horrible mess during the next couple of days, and if I'm lucky, I'll get to keep my arm. I hope so, as I'm rather attached to it. I don't mind typing one handed, but I can't hit Ctrl-Alt-Del if the fucking laptop crashes.

24 May 2009

Doon Toon

Dear Newcastle United,

By the time you read this letter you will have hopefully had time to wake up and face the realisation that you no longer have a Premiership team.

For the first time in twenty years, you're in the second tier, and I'm sure there are plenty more tears in your Newckie Brown.

You gave Mr Shearer his millions, with the promise of more if he kept you up, but to what point? He may walk on water, but he can't polish a turd.

I'm glad Manchester beat Hull, despite me cheering for the Tigers all the way, because I know if you'd gone down due to Mr Ferguson playing his second team you'd have cried 'foul'.

But if Hull had won, it would not be because of a team of teenagers that you went down, it was simply that you weren't good enough.

Mr Ferguson had 38 league games to pick teams that would give him enough points to win the league, and get to the Champions League final with a fit, winning team.

He only needed 37 games.

You had the same opportunity, without the added pressure of Europe, and you fucked it up.....

Blame Mike Ashley.

Blame King Kev for walking.

Blame Owen for always being injured.

Blame whoever you like if it makes you feel better, but just face facts, you played shit all season.

Now you can stop telling us about how you're too big a club, and there's too much history, and you've got the best fans in the world, relegation could never happen.

Go ask Leeds, Norwich, or God forbid, Notts Forest.

Spend the next season with your heads down learning some humility. Don't expect to win every game. WANT to, then be grateful when you do.

Do not gloat when you wallop Scunthorpe 5-0 at home, because if you get complacent they might just return the favour on a cold December midweek game.

You still get to enjoy a local derby with Boro, but try not to get too nostalgic as you see the Macams team bus heading off to Manchester...

Now back to your bottle of dog to have a good hard think about what you've done(or rather not done) - I'm off to enjoy my moment of Zen.

Yours sincerely,


16 May 2009

Man Tax

On my travels this week I've noticed a distinct increase in the number of joggers.

But not your usual professionally attired, slim and speedy joggers, no - what I'm seeing is a lot of women of a 'certain age'. Overweight, unfit, and wearing ill fitting leggings.

To say the action they are performing is jogging, would be the very loosest definition of the word, since I'm pretty sure that if one foot is always in contact with the ground, then it's walking.

It might be red faced, sweaty and puffing walking, but walking it is. And that can only mean one thing, Race for Life is back upon us, or as I like to call it, Man Tax.

As a man the only way I can support Race for Life, is by sponsoring someone. Those sneaky women have prevented men from actually participating, thus guaranteeing that every race (rather than none) is won by a women.

And how many women do you know that are participating? I bet it's at least one, but more than likely several, and they'll all want your support. Not a pat on the back, or a 'Well done you'. They want you're cold hard cash.

Mrsslippy did it last year, so support I did.

Not only did I stump up cash (up front no less!), I drove her and some of our other female friends to the other side of Town, and agreed to pick them up again when the race was over. Traffic was shocking, so by the time I got home, it was pretty much time to go back out again to collect the team from the nearest pub to the venue.

So not only did I end up significantly out of pocket, I also wasted the best part of a day off.

Mrsslippy walked 5 miles, then went for a beer. That's what I do on most work days, and she got a fucking medal for it!

What did I get (other than a decreased risk of developing cancer)?

Diddly squat.

Apparently cancer is still not cured, hence they're doing the whole thing again this year, and no doubt once again I'll be expected to support...

And that how it will continue. Women will go for a stroll, men will 'support'.This Man Tax will go on and on until they get enough money to find a cure.

So let's nip it in the bud. Go sponsor someone big style, then maybe I won't have they to look at women in ill fitting leggings every spring, and we'll all be a bit less likely to get cancer, or at the very least ensure those affected get the care and treatment they deserve.

If you haven't got any female friends, you don't have to feel left out - Mrsslippy will be more than happy to take your money. She's promised to run this year, and that's got to be worth a few quid.

Please, give what you can to her and her motley crew, The Cambridge Stragglers.

For pities sake.

Think of the leggings....

14 May 2009

Meatus is murder

Last Saturday saw a trip to Ginger Towers with the express purpose of achieving three things.

1 ) Wishing the Ginger Ninja a happy birthday.
2) Consumption of BBQ as cooked by Gingerfeck.
3 ) Very heavy boozing.

All the safely accomplished, I am now just about back to the land of the living.

My limited bloggage output this week has probably been due to the fact that stage 3 of Saturday involved three bottles of wine, and the destruction of countless billions of defenseless little grey cells.

I've been running on autopilot all week, and unless I go to the boozer tomorrow after work (which is unlikely) then I will have been off the sauce for a week which can only be WIN of the highest order.

Saturday was great fun. It's always lovely to see the Gingers, as the Ninja is one of the finest bakers in the World, and Chinny knows how to spin a yarn. We were joined by the usual suspects, and as the booze flowed, so did the banter.

As is often the case at a BBQ, there was someone there who 'didn't do meat'. Each to their own - I dabbled with vegetarianism myself for a few years, until I remembered just how fucking lush a nice bloody steak is.

And as always, there was a little bit of the grill reserved for the soya sausages and bean burgers. When all had eaten save for Gingerfeck, I swapped places on the barbie with him so he could have a burger while I kept an eye on the remaining sausages. On seeking the location for the utensils for the veggie stuff, I was advised that he was just using the same flipper as for the meat. Fair enough. His gaffe, his rules. They would never know about the cross contamination.

This got dropped into the conversation on my return to the table (the veggie was sat on the lawn somewhere), with a small discussion on whether this was ok, then Elvis had to go and lower the tone and ask if vegetarians could give blow jobs.

Oooookaay, lower the tone and draw a line and I'm going to cross it. In fact after a couple of bottles of wine I'm going to take a running jump at that line, and hurl myself over it.

Because, as I'm sure I quite eloquently pointed out without being overly loud, repetitive or crude, it isn't as simple as just a can they or can't they.

A vegetarian will not eat meat that has been killed, but will consume animal by products. Sure, you don't see them flocking to Tesco looking for a gallon of bulls semen, but sure as eggs is eggs, if they'll eat one of them, then that's half the DNA of a new life. The spunk is just the vinegar stroke vinaigrette that completes the dish. A nice glossy Eggs Benedict.

So not only can a vegetarian gob you off, they can also swallow with a clean conscience (and chin).

But vegans are a completely different kettle of fish (or mung beans). Due to their very strict rules, they cannot 'do' any by products even if the animal is still alive, nor use the leftovers to make a nice handbag. No eggs, no dairy, no leather, and definitely no man-milk.

Yet this doesn't mean they can't put your cock in their mouth. As long as you don't shoot your load in there, they haven't broken any rules.

And you better be very careful where you do end up spraying your muck as you pull your tally whacker out. If they can't wear animal products, then you're probably not allowed to cum on their tits.

So - rules sorted, and next time your at a barbecue and some vegan checks that no meat products have come into contact with the vegan utensils, it's perfectly acceptable (and probably advisable), to check that her boyfriend hasn't spunked all over the ones reserved for the meat eaters.

13 May 2009

Babel Fish

Little sister has just returned from a weeks diving in (or rather off) Cuba, and appears to have developed a prodigious knack for the language, as all her Facebook statuses are now in perfect Spanish.

I suspect shenanigans. Sorry Bec, but I don't recall you being fluent in non-gringo lingo, and are using some kind of translating service to help you.

I've copied and pasted her statuses into Babel Fish, and they kind of make sense – I reckon the process of translating to Spanish and then back again fucks things up a little bit.

She suggested I had nothing better to do than translate her updates, when actually I should be blogging. Maybe I should be doing both? As a scientific experiment as to how good Babel Fish is at translating back and forth, I'll blog in English, have it Spanglified, then back to the mother tongue again...

So one more time from the top....

The small sister finishes returning as of the weeks that are plunged in (or something dull) Cuba, and appears to have developed a prodigious skill for the language, as all states of Facebook now are in perfect Spanish.

I suspect shenanigans. Grieved time, but I do not memory of you that is fluid in mazarota of the not-gringo, and is using a certain class to translate service to help him.

I' IT SEES it copied and it stuck his states in Babelfish, and class of story has sense - the process to again translate to the later behind lame Spanish and things for above a little.

It suggested better did not have anything to do than her updates, when I really must blogging. Perhaps I must do both? As scientific experiment as far as how good Babelfish is in translating forwards and backwards, I will blog of in English, has Spanglified, then again to the maternal language again…

This is taken for above, and clearly not working. It does probably the sense that a form only does, but it' s the return trip that does borked.

How on something of my favourite film dent? They must at least have an appearance of normaility to them, but you will be able to reconise they once they have been soiled around by Babelfish?

"A census taker once tried to try to me. I ate his liver with some beans of fava and an pleasant Chianti"
– Too easy

"It takes its legs that stink out of me, you you cursed the dirty monkey!"
- Probably still it improves, but a too easy small piece

"They listen to. Children at night. What music does"
- Grieved candle, now you sound rather paedo that the gentleman of the vampires

"The size concerns no. Míreme. Judge by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you do not have. For my ally it is the force, and a long-range ally that is. He creates it to the life, does that he grows. Its energy surrounds to us and it ties to us. The luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you; here, between you, I, the tree, the rock, throughout, yes. Even between the Earth and the ship."
- It sees, the sounds of mixed Yoda so for above before translate you it, who not more or less do not have sense that in the first place.

It could do this per hours, but probably shouldn' t. Fodder that the lesson is, that does not trust the translation in line

My following project will be to translate Rapsodia Bohemian to Chinese, later returns it to record once translated English again. It has probably then sense…

Or script the film following of Borat

07 May 2009

Clash of the Titans

I'm facing an almost exciting prospect. Cambridge United are through to the play off finals for promotion back to Division 2, and thanks to some end of the season heroics (and Luton starting the season on -30 points), Grimsby Town have somehow avoided the indignity of non-league football next year, and I could once again see the Mighty Mariners play at the Abbey Stadium.

You can call me a fair weather fan, because in all truth the weather's got to be a damn sight better than 'fair'. It's got to be abso-fucking-fabulous weather for me to drag myself any further than a couple of miles down the road.

I'll stand in the driving rain at the Abbey, safe in the knowledge that a hot bath is only 15 minutes away, but a cold Tuesday evening in Peterborough? Stevenage? Even Histon is an extra 20 minute drive away. Fuck that for a game of soldiers, I'll watch Grimsby if they come to see me, but not the other way round. Not until they buck their ideas up a bit and start playing some decent football anyway.

And because of this disparity of leagues, I'd not been to watch a game for a couple of years, and then all of a sudden, I get 2 games almost back to back, and they couldn't have been more dissimilar.

What did you do for Valentines day this year? I went on a stag do to London, and part of that Weekend jaunt was a trip to see AFC Wimbledon play Bath at Kingsmeadow.

I was stood at the back of the terrace - but not a problem, take 5 steps forward, and I was at the front. Most of the party were so bored by half time that they disappeared into the bar and never came back.

The half time entertainment consisted a keepy-uppy competition in which the Stag participated, but was beaten by a ringer who was ex pro.

His other excuse being, that in keeping with the Blue Square League, the ball was blue and square, which the pedant in me insisted was blue and cuboid. A square ball would not be a ball, it would be a 2 dimensional shape. I'm such a fucking geek.

They did serve some particularly lush bacon sandwiches, and the stall was a little shed in the ground so you would,'t have to miss any of the game. You can just about make it out just at the very left of shot, whilst Matt does a big fat FAIL.

The bar was pretty good too, and very organised for getting pints out swiftly. When with 5 minutes to go , and the score 1-1 following 2 shots all game, the brave few who stuck out the second half rejoined the wanderers in the bar for a swifty before heading out to find a titty bar/muff club, and to watch the rest of the days results stream through courtesy of Jeff Stelling on a big screen.

Turns our Wimbledon won 3-2. We must've missed a pretty exciting 5 minutes whilst getting pints, but I think the call for beer was the correct one at the end of the day.

Roll on 8 weeks and again I'm at a football match, but this time I'm still waiting for Matt, and we're a little out of our comfort zone.

Mrsslippy and I have caught a taxi to the Maracana in Rio to watch the semi-final of the Carioca Cup between arch rivals Flamengo and Fluminense.

Matt said he'd meet us at this statue at 3 o'clock.

If I look a bit hungover it's because I am. It's the day after the wedding and I suspect I drank at least a bottle of Scotch, and god knows how many ciaparinhas and how much champagne. At 6 in the morning I didn't think I'd ever be able to lift my head from my pillow, but then my gut forced my hand, or rather it's contents, in a glorious fountain that I only just managed to get to the bathroom on time for.

So half past three, still no sign of him. We'd positioned ourselves near some friendly looking policeman, and were thick in the Flamengo stronghold. We'd seen a few thousand all come running towards us, hemmed in by mounted police. I bit of pre match banter I'm sure, but still a bit daunting. They were also accompanied by the real police.

The ones we stood near had guns and batons, but these guys were in full body armour, and packing 5 foot bats, shotguns, automatic rifles, and grenade launchers (which I'm sure were just for tear gas canisters, not real grenades, but still pretty hardcore).

As we stood watching, mouths agape, the newly married Matt arrived, apologised for being late, and told us that we were probably standing around at the wrong area (despite it being his idea, what with him having all the local knowledge and that), as the Flamengo fans are 'fucking nutters'. So hyped up for aggro, if they haven't got any rival fans to fight with, they'll fight amongst themselves. If we went in the Fluminense end we'd be much safer,as they only fight other supporter...

....and Gringos....

Still, as the lesser of two evils, and with Whiggy for added security we went round to the other side and entered what is the most remarkable ground I've ever seen.

Built for the 1950 World Cup it held 200,000 before it went all seater, but now holds a rather more sedate 100,00 - and none of them were sitting today.

There were parades of gigantic flags, fireworks, smoke bombs, but not a single safety steward to tell you to stop blocking the aisle, sit down, and stop letting off rockets in peoples faces. The only security was those impressive policeman who had now formed a loose perimeter around the pitch (which in itself is protected by a dry moat). I got the distinct impression that they didn't really care what we did to each other, just as long as nobody got near the pitch or the players.

I'd like to say it was a great game, but sadly, it was pretty run of the mill. The Flamengo players were all very proficient at the dive that's fortunately rarely seen in the Premiership now (although Ronaldo used to try it on). You know the one I mean, the one where the defender doesn't make contact, but somehow manages to apply backspin onto the opposing player, so after rolling over three or four times in one direction, he suddenly reverses polarity and starts spinning back towards the defender again.

Both teams had a player called Everton, which left me pondering why anyone would choose that as a nickname. Presumably because they have a twin brother who plays more attractive football, and is far more successful.

Despite it being perhaps the widest pitch I've ever see (either that or the shortest - it's almost a perfect square), both team seemed to have forgotten about the 15 yards of grass either side of the central strip, and just hoofed and fell and rolled and protested all over the same little bit of real estate.

Flamengo's goal was lame; a tame shot that the Flu keeper pushed under his own arm and into the net as he fell to the ground. Very poor.

In the second half a shot that he managed to deflect, and was then cleared off the line by a defender was met wit such jubilation that the pair of them had this whole bromance thing going on for the next two minutes. Sorry to break up the love-in boys, but you've saved fuck all. You're still 1-0 down, and would be better advised to stop going down on each other and paying attention to whats happening elsewhere on the pitch. That equaliser isn't going to score itself - and it didn't....

It's pretty clear that although Brazil may produce some of the best footballers in the World, they don't play over there. We've got them all in Europe.

And for all the pomp and circumstance, posturing and bravado, fireworks and spectacle, the football itself is not a patch on the Premiership. We've got the best league in the World. Love it.

So hopefully next season I can again go and watch Grimsby play again. I can't say it'll be anything like the experience of 100,000 nutters at The Maracana, but the football might be of a similar standard, and certainly better than a Valentines Day watching AFC Wimbledon and Bath.

Come on you fishy men.

06 May 2009

Path rage

I was nearly knocked over by a cyclist this morning.

Not my fault, although she clearly thought it was, as she swerved to avoid me on the path just because I'd stopped and stepped sideways to get a clearer look at a little fluffy bird up a tree.

She lent round on her bike, and shouted "I rang my bell! Take your headphones out, or are you deaf?"

It was still too early to think of a witty response, so I just flipped the V's and carried on walking DOWN THE PATH. It was only as she peddled away that my morning brain started to rouse, and I considered the pointlessness of her question.

Why the fuck would I have headphones in if I was deaf? And if I was a deafer, would that really justify her shouting at me for not hearing her ring her bell as she charged towards me?

Can you imagine this women making her excuses to an ambulance crew if I actually had been deaf and she'd plowed into me? I doubt it. Maybe in her world deaf people should carry a big sign warning cyclists so they know to give them a wide berth.

It seems to be the general attitude of cyclists in Cambridge that they can do what the hell they like. Cyclists would maintain that it's car drivers that are to blame, and make the road so unsafe for use that they are forced to cycle on the pavements.

As I both drive and cycle (although much less of the latter these days), then I can say that they are both as bad as each other. I know if I'm in the car, I need to check all the mirrors constantly because they can come at you from anywhere, at anytime.

I firmly believe that if you hit a cyclist at who has not got lights on their bike, it is not only okay, it's perfectly acceptable to throw the car into reverse and back over the twat just to drive the point home that it is nigh on impossible to see them.

And if I'm on my bike, then the reverse applies. Assume every parked car is about to throw open it's door in your path. Always leave at least 2 feet of road to your left, so when someone overtakes you, but forgets he has wing mirrors, you've still got a bit of space to avoid bundling under the car when he nudges you of your bike.

But the one saving grace of motorists, is at least they stick to the bloody rules. They don't fly through pedestrian crossings because they think they can swerve round the poor souls on it.
They don't suddenly drive on the path if there's a traffic jam, or because it's safer because the road is full of big nasty lorries that are bigger than them.

But cyclists on the other hand (or the majority of at least) just do what they damn well please.

So tell me madam, if you're cycling like a lunatic on the path because the road is too dangerous, then where the hell am I supposed to go as a pedestrian?

Maybe I should just crawl in the gutter. It would probably be quite fitting.

05 May 2009

Can you hear me?

I nearly ended up with my first cybernetic implant today.

Well almost, I got a bit of wire mesh stuck in my ear.

And in fairness, it wasn't really stuck, as a bit of head tilt and a couple of bashes on the opposite side freed the offending article.

I'm not in the nature of sticking things in my ear, but this little bastard had managed to free itself from my headphones, and was intent on burrowing it's way into my head.

It's probably (definitely) my own fault, as I'd recently taken them apart and poked and scraped at them with the pointy end of my broken, yet still functional sunglasses (the plastic ear thingies have fallen off, but I'm not going to chuck away a pair of Ray Bans with intact lenses just because I've had to bend the arms a little bit to stop them falling off).

I've got a pair of in-ear headphones, and they have a little wire mesh in them to protect the speakery bit, that would be perfect for making the worlds smallest cup of tea, or sieving flour for a teeny weeny Victoria sponge. They'd got a bit clogged up with general ear debris, so I'd pulled them apart and removed said gunk, and in the process managed to dislodge one of the filters.

I pushed it back in, but was aware that it might not be completely stable, but love the sound they make, so didn't want the inconvenience and expense of having to replace them.

Because headphones are important, and should never be underestimated for the difference they make to a good tune.

Nothing, well few things, make me more irrationally annoyed than seeing some tosser with their ipod sat on the table in front of them, or held out in front of them, with a pair of shitty apple earphones that come supplied with them.

Yes you've got an ipod. Well done for that.

Even on the bus or out in town when the ipod is in the offenders pocket, I see those cheap nasty headphones and get the urge to rip them out their ears and shove them up their arse, because that is where they belong.

The apple earphones are just a wanky status symbol that says 'No, I haven't got a generic mp3 player, mines an ipod, because I'm really cool'

Everyone's got one. Get over yourselves and learn to appreciate it for what it actually does, rather than just using it as a status symbol.

Wake up call. The headphones that came with your ipod are cheap and nasty, and that's exactly why they came with it. If there were none supplied, there would be an outcry because you wouldn't be able to use it, so Steve Jobs has tried to please everyone, by supplying a pair that are functional, and yet so cheap they are disposable.

They don't fit in your ears properly, so all the noise (which is tinny and bassless) goes straight into the skin below your ear, rather than the ear canal itself. Even if you do manage to get them balanced, if you so much as blink one of them will shift and the balance is shot to bits. And because they don't deliver the sound into your ear, you end up having to turn the volume up even louder, which fucks your battery life, increases distortion, and forces everyone else to listen to what you are, which is not necessarily a good thing if your ipod is having a hissy fit, and is also just plain rude. If I want to listen to something, I'm polite enough to realise that not everyone else will too, so please do me the courtesy of reciprocating the civilities.

Decent headphones come in a range from as little as £20 for a vast improvement on the freebies, to several hundred pounds for some noise cancelling, gold plated contacts, sweet, sweet 'phones.

Rather than bundling in a £20 pair, that the aficionado will have to pay the extra on the price of their ipod for, but still not use, you get the shit pair, then you, the consumer decides how much extra you want to pay for the listening experience, keeping the price of the ipod itself as low as possible.

I don't know what else works on a similar principle. Dress shirts perhaps? Blokes (and women who shop for their blokes because we are a bit shit at clothes shopping) will know that sometimes when you buy a double cuffed shirt, it comes with these knotted bits of string on the cuffs enabling you to do them up. Purely functional. Nobody in their right mind would go out with these pseudo cufflinks, but there are people with wrong minds that do, just as there are people with wrong minds that listen to music through the abominations that they got free with their ipod.

No, instead of bundling in an expensive pair of cufflinks, you get just enough to make the shirt work if your too stupid to realise that what your supposed to do is decide whether you want to get an attractive, and perfectly usable pair from Next, or spend a months wages on some that you swear make all the difference, but still look like the Next ones to everyone else.

So what I'm really advocating is you don't need to spend hundreds on a pair of headphones, but please spend at least £20. Mine were £30 - and I'd never pay more than that, and I don't want to have to replace them for the sake of a little bit of metal that could potentially get stuck in my brain.

But if I catch you with a pair of the one's that were bundled in the box, I'm going to cut them off, and you know where they're going. I bet the acoustics are great up there, but you know what? I bet you still wouldn't appreciate them.

04 May 2009

May the Fourth be with you

A Happy Star Wars Day to one and all!

It may come as a bit of a shock to some of you, but I'm actually a bit of a Star Wars fan.

There were a few clues if I'm honest. There are several Star Wars toys (yes toys - not 'collectibles' - they are for uber geeks and never get out the packet. Mine are for playing with) dotted around the living room.

I own somewhere in the region of 20 t-shirts that are in some way Star Wars related, possibly even more. I don't want to think to hard about it, let alone count them for fear it is actually much, much higher.

There is an 18" Darth Vader guarding my desk at work.

Even the web forum I use for work related activities has a Yoda avatar.

The more alert of you will have noticed I sport a tattoo on my right shoulder, which is normally hidden beneath clothing, but is now clear for all to see on my profile picture.

This too, is from Star Wars. I've never regretted having it done, but since 1999 have sometimes felt the urge to explain exactly when I had it done, because this makes a world of difference.

Because once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away.....there were two types of Star Wars fan, those who followed the Rebel Alliance, and those who sided with the Empire.

If you don't know your Star Wars, then maybe being in the Rebel Alliance appeals to you? It sounds..you know..kind of rebellious.

Guess again! It's not. The rebellion are the good guys, and whereas they will ultimately win out, they're not rebellious. They're a crowd of goodie goodies with a semi-Buddhist mantra, and a penchant for brown hooded capes.

But the Empire...now you're talking. They get the best spaceships, best outfits, and a complete disregard for entire planets.

So when I decided I wanted a tattoo, first rule had to be, it should be significant to me. No Celtic Band, or Oriental symbol that had no bearing on my beliefs. It had to be Star Wars, and it had to be Empire.

Considering that a picture of Darth Vader or a TIE fighter might be just a wee bit shit, I looked for something that an unbeliever wouldn't recognise, but would be clocked by a fellow geek.

Now the Empire does have an insignia, but it's not plastered all over everything. You can see it on some of the Stormtroopers uniforms, most noticeably on TIE fighter pilot helmets. So that's what I had.

But then something terrible happened.

The Phantom Menace came along, with it's silly characters, cod mysticism, and plot holes so large you could hid a Death Star in them. There was no Rebellion, no Empire, just a Republic and a Trade Federation.

The Trade Federation were the baddies, with their Droid Army, so in order to protect themselves, the Republic (with Jedi's as their guardians), decided they needed an army of their own.

This didn't arrive until the next film, with Jedi's investigating who actually ordered an army of clones, as unbeknown to them, they were actually part of an Evil plot by the head of the Republic to turn it into an Empire.

So come the end of Attack of the Clones, this Clone Army arrives, and they look suspiciously like Stormtroopers. We know that they are eventually going to be the best baddies in the universe, but for the time being they are the dogsbodies of the Republic, and general goodie goodies.

And they all have my tattoo on them.

Worse still, George Lucas then makes a cartoon series based around the Clone Wars, so the symbol becomes more and more synonymous with Clones not Stormtroopers.

Why oh why oh why when the Emperors plans paid off did he not have a rethink on the insignia? A change of regime always leads to a bit of rebranding, or did they not have PR companies on Coruscant?

As these are set before the first three films, this would of course mean that I get to keep my tattoo, and the designers really should have come up with something different for the clones.

So if strangers recognise my tattoo as being from Star Wars, I am very quick to quantify just when I had it done.

I should say it was pre Phantom Menace, or pre 1999, but if I want to check for myself just how geeky they are too?

I say it's post Order 66

03 May 2009

My Greatest Adventure

I've climbed The Old Man of Coniston, trekked through the Jungles of Borneo and Brazil, and even slept rough in a bivouac in West Runton, but today I reached a pinnacle in the realms of human achievement and exploration.

Armed only with the cheapest strimmer Argos sell, and a crappy old pair of sunnies, I set out after lunch with the express intention of reaching the back end of the garden by sundown.

With Mrsslippy offering able assistance, we worked in shifts, cutting swathes through the dense foliage.

By three o'clock we had reached Camp Bird Feeder 1. This was reachable on foot previously, but only by experienced guides who knew the terrain, and were properly dressed, It was once possible to reach Camp Bird Feeder 1 wearing slippers and shorts if you happened to look out the bedroom window before work and notice that the pigeons had stripped it bare again, but in recent times it had become so treacherous that it could really only be safely done in proper shoes and long trousers.

Now Camp Bird Feeder 1 could be reached not only from the east, but also from it's notorious north face. Visitors to Camp Bird Feeder 2 ( a slightly safer climb) could see the north approach from there, but to try the crossing would be sheer lunacy, and even the most resolute of travellers would find themselves trudging the path back to Base Camp Garden Bench to collect more peanuts before doubling back again to take the fork for the eastern ascent.

From there, it was a short, but very arduous strim, to connect up Camp Bird Feeder 1 to Camp Bird Feeder 3, thus removing the need for the direct path to it, that was less treacherous underfoot, but remained hazardous to to encroaching conifers that could be full of dew and cobwebs on a damp spring morning.

Base Camp Garden Bench, and the 3 Camp Birdfeeders all clear, left only the big push to the back fence.

Wielding the strimmer like Leatherface at the end of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original - it's not as bad as the video nasty brigade claimed, and far superior to the shitty, and completely unnecessary remake), I sliced and diced, and pushed on.

This was dangerous stuff. The brambles under the 4 feet of grass were so long and wiry, that even as you hacked at stuff a couple of feet in front, you could feel it tugging at the ground underneath you, and the whole garden seemed to move.

Having shards of bramble flung around at high speed is always great fun, but unperturbed, I battled on, and after years of neglect and inaccessibility, man can once again touch our fence.

Although I don't know why he would want to.

My arms are now shot to peices. Shredded and bloody, and thanks to the constant vibration of the strimmer, I've developed an awful tremor that made cleaning up the meat for dinner a slightly dangerous task (Pork tenderloin thank's for asking. Some Gloucester Old Spot from the local Farm shop that I'm going to do in the tagine with apricots, honey, wholegrain mustard and a couple of glasses of Chardonnay. Served with a couple of slow roasted romano peppers, stuffed with wild rice).

We may even go to the pub tonight to celebrate our endeavours (planted more veg too - peas, red cabbage, carrots, and spring onions), but drinking might prove difficult if I can't stop my hands from shaking.

And I'd better be careful if I end up stood next to anyone else at the urinals at the pub. They might think I'm doing a George Michael .

Either that or Michael J Fox has grown......

02 May 2009

Surviving the Apocalypse

My favourite post apocalyptic society has always been one overrun with Zombies.

Whether brought about by mutated viruses (28 Days Later, I am Legend, Last Man on Earth), nuclear fallout (Return of the Living Dead, Class of Nuke'em High), or just....because....(Shaun of The Dead, Night of the Living/Dawn/Day of the Dead), nothing keeps the average man more occupied in a society bereft of citizens, that a few walking dead getting in the way and generally making an inconvenience of themselves.

But it looks like I'm going to have to make do with a Mad Max style post apocalypse, where there are a few less people, everything is a bit shit, and mullets are mandatory.

Sadly, no Zombies to keep as pets, or take pot shots at from the vantage of a shopping centre roof.

Get scared people, because it WILL happen.

I just heard on the radio that sneaky Mexican flu is now hiding on lift buttons. Just typical. Any good old fashioned English flu would have taken the stairs, but you know Mexicans.....

And apparently it can kill you TO DEATH. I may have jacked in nursing for the moment, but I recall enough from my training to remember that this is generally a very bad thing that it is quite hard to get better from.

So before you end up in a Burrito Bodybag, get prepared!

Mrsslippy and I have spent the day ensuring that when the country goes into meltdown (because they are too lazy to take the stairs), we can be completely self sufficient.

For today we gave mostly been in the garden, and will not be caught out when the world suddenly can't get hold of a decent Mexican Meal.

Planted out we have onions, tomatoes, jalapeno and romano peppers, and a selection of herbs and spices that should keep us sorted until the fuss dies down.

And strawberries for dessert. Yum.

I've already filled the fridge with sausages, so I just need to buy about twelvety bottles of Tequila, then the rest of the world can go rot, and then Mrsslippy and I will walk downstairs and rule whatever remains.

Oh, and the advert on the telly also says, phones are Tijuana Toxic too.

Thank fuck I will be safe.