Friday, 27 April 2012

When It Comes To Innuendo - Just Stick It In

Here's a song that I wrote recently in the style of George Formby.  The content reminds me of the time the woman walked into a bar and asked for a Double Entendre - so the Barman gave her one...

Anyway...please imagine a gawky, toothy Lancastrian grinning from ear to ear and chuckling "he he: turned owt nice again, 'ant it?" and you'll be there

With My Little Ukelele In My Hand


With my little Ukelele in my hand
All of the world seems grand
When I feel, I'm all out of luck
I get it out and have a quick pluck

The audience was moody and beginning to jeer
The show was running late and they had drunk too much beer
But when I popped it out, they just started to cheer
At the little Ukelele in my hand


An old Italian master had it hard for a while
The Mona Lisa flat refused to give him a smile
Then he handed her his instrument and showed her with style
The little Ukelele in his hand

With my little Ukelele in my hand
All of the world seems grand
I don't care what the lawyers may say
I get it out in public and have a quick play

All of the Dictators in the world today
Would cause a lot less bother and have much less to say
If they'd only quit their armies and sit down and play
With the little Ukelele
Little Ukelele
Little Ukelele in their hands

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Five Best Buys

Yes, it’s true that here we are again with another in the seemingly eternal list of endlessly fascinating things that I get obsessed with.

Today’s Bunch O’ Fives is a list of items, arranged in order of what I paid for them, that have – for whatever reason – turned out to be 100% solid investments and, as ever, you can expect the actual number of things spoken about herein to absolutely not add up to five.

So, going in order of cheapest first (but without stating the prices):

#1: Stay Wet Palette, circa 2004/5
There are many useful things that I have bought surrounding Arty things – my first proper art book “How To Draw Anything (So Long As You Like Sheep)”, the toolbox that I use for storing all my paint and most of my brushes – but I’ve plumped for this because, at the end of the day, I’m lazy and get bored easily.

How does this factor in?  Well every time I go to do a new painting I think “this time I will DEFINITELY use Oil colours.”  I much prefer the texture and look of oils to any other medium, but the same thing puts me off every time – and that is that they take about 12 years to dry and, as such, I simply don’t have the patience.

That may be a slight over-exaggeration, but when the alternative is Acrylics – a medium that dries in the time that it takes to listen to an average length song by Genesis (including the Inevitable Drum Solo) then in my book there’s never any contest.  Also with Acrylics you can wash your brushes in water rather than turpse – so there’s considerably less danger that when using them in a confined space you will be talking to the canvas within half an hour or so.

So the Stay Wet palette comes in very handy here, because you put an absorbent pad in the bottom and cover it with a thin sheet of special paper and then soak both before draining – you then squirt your acrylics onto the paper and you can continue to use them long after they would otherwise have turned to granite, and sometimes for several days if you cover them.

#2: Golf Umbrella, circa 1988
I’m with Mark Twain on the subject of golf – if you’re going to go for a walk leave the sticks and balls behind and just enjoy the walk, but then I’ve never mastered anything more than Municipal courses and Crazy Golf.  Still – the one thing it can be said to have supplied is sturdy umbrellas.

I bought this from a travel shop in the centre of a nearby city, which despite the fact that no one ever goes in seems to still be open and the thing that this rain protecting device has that most umbrellas don’t is a spring on the inside that stops it turning inside out in all but the strongest of winds.  This, I suspect, is the secret of it’s longevity over more flimsy items.  True the tip may be a bit twisted due to my habit of pacing it along the ground like a walking stick and getting it stuck in the cracks between the paving slabs – but at this rate it will probably out last me

#3: Ukelele, circa 2011
Don’t get me wrong – I love all my instruments: my guitar, saxophone…even the bass guitar that I only ever play when recording songs, but if anyone knows where you can get more fun on a regular basis for the one off price of paying so little then I really don’t want to know.  It is impossible to be miserable whilst playing the Ukelele – and ownership of one would have radically altered the careers of the Famously Morbid likes of Leonard Cohen, Morrissey/The Smiths and Pink Floyd to name but a few

#4: Trek 800 Mountain bike and assorted paraphernalia, circa 1999
When I passed my driving test I rather foolishly sold my bike and spent several years before I bought this in preparation for a charity bike ride across China in 2000 (and yes, I’m aware that I still haven’t told you that story)

The fact that the bike is still with me, albeit with a different saddle, different chain, different wheels, and still bringing me much pleasure (as well as taking me to work quicker than the bus will) is a testament to how much I’ve found that I enjoy cycling.  There’s nothing like heading out on a Sunday morning with nowhere much to go but find new roads.

I say “and assorted paraphernalia” with this one because at the same time I bought the bike I also bought a day-glo yellow cycling jacket and a pair of shimano cycling shoes (with hard soles and cleats) which are both still with me and in very good shape.  The price of these items was wildly variant – but both have more than earned their keep and the shoes, now coming up for 13 years old, must surely deserve a place in the Guinness Book of Records for Footwear Longevity.

#5: Three rings
I’m not going to say much about these items here, other than one was bought about two years previous to the other two and that the first one, presented without warning one Christmas morning, bought me the longest moment of shocked silence from Herself in the many years that we have known each other, and that all three have led, and will continue to lead, to much happiness.

And – inevitably, one item that is probably the WORST buy ever.

#6: Rover Maestro, circa 1996/7
To be fair my car ownership consists largely of cars that could be filed under “Scrap, Heap Thereof” but in the long line of Rover’s (that included an old Austin Allegro, Rover Metro and the above) the Maestro cost me the most amount of money and years from my life expectancy.

Amongst the many things it did to try and kill me we must include the time that the brakes utterly failed without warning, the constant drinking of oil and the time that the cam-belt failed 300 miles from home leading me and Our Kid to run at full pace away from the car in full expectation of a loud “foom” noise and then wait 3hrs in the freezing cold night by the side of the motorway for a pick up.

I would pause here to issue the advice that no matter what else you do you should never, ever buy any car made by Rover – only they have gone out of business, thankfully relieving anyone from the stress of ever owning one again (NB there may be a few vintage ones out there on the road that haven’t spontaneously turned to rust or else killed the poor souls that owned them, but I seriously doubt it)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Two Recent Movies I Have Seen (the sokiguess experience)

Well, in leiu of anything intelligent to say I thought that this week I would bring you a review of the two films I have seen recently at the cinema.

I should begin by saying that going to the movies is something of an unusual experience for me these days - the last film I saw prior to these, The Ghost, was nearly 12 months ago.

When I DO go I generally go to the local arts cinema rather than the multiplex.  Herein you can enjoy (or not) the wonders of world cinema - odd Bavarian animations where people are endlessly chased by buildings, French road movies about the grimness of existence and other little delights that, for whatever reason, passed the bigger screens by.

Sadly it seems that the cinema is showing much less of the French ROad Movies About the Grimness of Existence (surely there's a new genre there - FROMAGE films??) and much more of the mainstream - no doubt in some ludicrous attempt to start making a profit.

So what films did I see then?

#1: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Plot Summary (I will do my best not to give spoilers here, but look away now if you don't even want to know the basics)

A small group of elderly Brits all see an advert for a new retirement home in India and decide, for various reasons, to up sticks to a new country.

OK so when I saw the adverts for this film I really wasn't sure that I was going to enjoy it.  I got the impression from the clips that it was going to play on the old stereotypes of the Elderly (slightly racist) Brit Abroad and the Helpful But Slightly Backwards locals that often appear - and yes, there was a certain amount of that, but thankfully the film cleverly played on the perceptions of the characters and allowed them the experience to learn by their experience and allowing us to realize, along with them, just how wrong their initial ideas may have been.

True - you could argue that the cast seem to walk quite easily through their roles - but when you have a cast that includes Dame Judy Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie and Bill Nighy you don't expect to see the strings being pulled

On the plus side this is a beautifully shot film and makes much use of the sights and sounds of India - to the point where i was ready to pick my passport straight out of the drawer when i got home - and as far as feel good films go I can't remember the last time I came out of a cinema feeling so cheered up by a film

My one criticism then, would be the arrival of all the main characters at the same time, even on the same plane (don't worry - this happens so early in the film that it spoils nothing) - and i kinda felt it would have been better to have one or two people already there

#2: The Artist

Plot: A silent black and white film about the silent black and white era of film making, told via the relationship between a fading star of the silent era, and an upcoming one of the "talkies"

There are films that you come out of loving, or hating and those films that you come out of sokiguessing - IE shrugging one's shoulders and indifferently saying 'S OK I guess.

For me at least The Artist, despite all of its awards, was one of the latter.  It was all very nice, and quite enjoyable - but I came out of the cinema with no strong feelings either way.

The film was quite enjoyable, but I guess the problem is with a film like this that you either buy into the central conceit or you don't and when a film succeeds or fails largely on that idea - the idea to make a silent film when you could equally make one with sound - you either enjoy that idea or not.

For me I found that towards the end I was a bit tired of the silent movie approach and slightly frustrated when certain aspects of the film relied on reactions to things that had been said, but for which we had been given no word card.

Still, as an example of someone trying to do a bit of back to basics storytelling and film making, as opposed to just relying on spectacular 3D effects, even if that plot is more than reminiscent of Singin' In The Rain, it is definately worth a watch - just wait for it to come on telly and see it in the comfort of your own home.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Chocolate Egg Ick Factor

"Oh no, not again"

I look down at the silver foil, aware that I'm echoing the sentiments of the only known Geranium to have its thoughts recorded (1) and realise that my fingers are already covered with goo.

Herself looks over and shakes her head as she spots the piece of silver as it catches the light, sees the gunk on my hands, "How come you always get it?"

It's true - we've eaten more than our fair share of chocolate eggs this Easter and every time we go to unwrap one I find that it's always me that gets the egg that has leaked.

The idea is simple: a chocolate egg with a mixture of white and yellow sugary contents (I won't name the product, as they don't actually pay me anything for advertising and, much like the BBC of old, we prefer to remain product free here at DFTP).  However, whatever sealing technique they use (probably yet another form of sugar) it always seems to be me that gets the one that has leaked: meaning that I spend the first five minutes of the eating experience peeling every last trace of silver paper from the egg and covering my hands in see-through goop.

Herself looks at her pristine, leak-free egg and shrugs, 'Always you' she says, 'How come I always get the one that's ok'

Sometime later, and I'm not going to say exactly how much later - as that would reveal the extent of our combined gluttony over Easter, Herself returns to the slowly diminishing stockpile (imagine the size of one of those mountains of butter that the European Union used to create when we over-produced and they were forced to store the excess and you'll be on the right lines) and selects two more eggs.  I go to shake my hand and say "enough chocolate today dear", as is my traditional feeble attempt to pretend that I'm not going to eat it, before grudgingly accepting.

Half-way to her seat Herself looks at the egg that she has chosen for herself and has an epiphany.  She reaches over and swaps the egg in my hand for hers: and surely there was never a more pertinent exhibition of love than attempting to stop one's other half from getting icky fingers??

She unwraps her egg.  It is, of course, pristine.

I unwrap mine

"Oh no, not again!"

1) see the Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy