Saturday, December 30, 2006


...the foe have met their fate. And, in tribute to the mighty Blades and, in particular, messrs Morgan and Jagielka, so has my facial hair.

Altogether now...

"We all agree,
Jags is better than Lehmann.
Monty is better than Cesc Fabregas,
And Arsenal got what was coming."

I'm off to a New Year's Eve party tomorrow. And I am going like this.

There is no cause for either a rejoicing at a death or a celebration of a life this morning. All I can feel right now is a kind of despair. Both Margaret Beckett and Bush minor have added their wisdom on the event of early morning; a holding to account and an important milestone towards democracy apparently.

A serendipitous conjunction of opinion there certainly. It would appear that the more democratic one's system of governance, the less likely it is that anyone, anywhere will ever be held to account.

I feel sick.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


No 2

I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way.

Papa's definitely got a brand new bag.

Monday, December 11, 2006


No what hopefully, will be a very long series.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


You may have noticed, have you ever been of a mind to explore my sidebar, links to both Byker Sink and Wor Man in Hanoi, blogs produced by the one individual.

I very nearly wrote 'one and the same person' there but, always a stickler for factual accuracy, decided that although he might well still be one, he most definitely is not the same.

For the past two and a half years he has been a part of the KOTO (Know One, Teach One) project in Hanoi, Vietnam, a volunteer in an organisation dedicated to providing street kids with education and work skills. A future in other words.

For the same period he has blogged of his experiences. With honesty, humility, wit, humour, an inexplicable devotion to Newcastle United and an overwhelming sense of love. In this short time, he has probably achieved more than most of us will manage in a lifetime. A lot of us can talk the talk, as they say. He not only walked but took us with him every step of the way. And it was quite a journey. Tears and laughter. Always love. Love of the country and its people. And especially for the KOTO kids. Many of us hope to find our reward in heaven. He has only to look at this photo.

Thank you, Steve.

I am indeed, not worthy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006



Bugger This for a Lark

Or perhaps that should be SCREW YOUR COURAGE TO THE STICKING PLACE or Pull Thissen Together. Maybe STAND NOT UPON THE ORDER OF YOUR GOING or Fuck Off.

And maybe this marvellous passage of Aeschylus'...

Near the heart the pointed sword
Waits; when Justice gives the word,
Through and through, sour edged and strong,
Strikes the blade. For none can long
Scorn regard of right and wrong,
Break the holy laws of heaven,
And hope to find his deed forgiven.

Justice plants her anvil; Fate
Forges keen the brazen knife.
Murder still will propogate
Murder; life must fall for life,
So the avenging Fiend, renowned
For long resolve and guile profound,
Now the wheel has turned with time,
Pays in blood the ancient crime.

...could be rendered as 'what goes around, comes around'.

And certainly would, if various publishers have their way. I remember being jolted out of a P G Wodehouse inspired Blandings reverie or it may have been a wistful idling away in the world of Mike and Psmith...but anyway, the start might not have been enough to send the bathwater swishing over the sides of the porcelain, yet my rhapsody was rudely truncated by a sudden reference to the cricketers Truman and Compton.

I mean, what!

No doubt that in the most recent editions even these names will have been replaced by those of Harmison and Flintoff which, given this morning's abject performance, just goes to show that any attempt to add relevancy is almost bound to detract from the intended meaning.

Just what were these fellows thinking? That the world of aunts, personal gentlemen's gentlemen, the Drones club and country house breakfasts would be made more relevant and palatable to a modern audience simply by updating the sporting references? It would appear that Krispin and Jocanta have forsaken advertising for the world of publishing.

We've had the abominable Disneyfication of Winnie the Pooh, a computer generated Noddy and now it would appear that even the books of Enid Blyton are to be brought kicking and screaming into 21st century relevance.

"The current publishers, Hodder, made a number of changes to the text this year to reflect changed uses of language. "I say" was replaced by "hey", "queer" with "odd" and "biscuits" with "cookies" - the latter to appeal to American readers."
The Independent

Now, although as a child I read Blyton, I always found her the literary equivalent to the aural wallpaper of easy listening. An unchallenging way of passing the hours of a long car journey for example. I was more a Richmael Crompton and Kipling boy myself. I recently picked up a copy of Five Go off in a Caravan for 50p from Save the Children and, having read it, am content in the knowledge that I have saved at least one child from the bother.

But I stray from my point.

In our ratings driven world there is a desire to make the world of 'the Arts' accessible to a wider audience. So we have this random 'up-dating' of literature, the New English Bible as opposed to the wondrous prose of the King James' Version and classical symphonies recorded and arranged with a 'modern' drum beat.

Bollocks the lot of it. Every book, piece of music, fact, any work of art is of its time and place, a reflection of its creator and his or her environment. Wherein lies the magic of Shakespeare? In his insight into the human condition? In his story telling? No. It is in the language, purely and simply.

They have it, as so often, completely arse about tit. Instead of modifying the Arts to make them more accessible to a wider audience, here's a radical thought. Why not make a wider audience more succeptible to the Arts through education?

Even then, there are always going to be people for whom the Arts will remain, as it were, a closed book. So what? They will rarely be brought to a greater appreciation by adding a rock beat to a symphony, re-writing Shakespeare in the modern vernacular or by any other kind of dilution. Are their lives any the poorer for it? Who can say? The question would not even arise were the subject say, sport for example.

Oh, well.

Good night, good night; parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night, till it be morrow.

Ah'll sithee.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Now it is not my intention to turn this blog into some kind of YouTube Lite but, as I had never seen this before and was reduced to tears by the 'Surprise Deposit', I thought I'd share it with you.

No wonder Gilliam took up directing. He never could have made it as a straightman.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Puskás Ferenc (1927 - 2006)

Okay, so you did score 357 goals in 354 appearances for Kispest Honvéd and even 154 in 179 for Real Madrid. You might also have been the best inside left the world has ever seen. But, Öcsi, why the fuck did you have to leave Billy Wright sat on his arse in that 6-3 demolition of England at Wembley in 1953? Not only were you responsible for endless black and white re-runs of the exploits of your 'Golden Team' (running at least monthly up to this point and not including 'specials' whenever one of them was selected for the celestial XI) but you also gave the networks a perfect excuse for flying our Billy over whenever England ventured into Hungary to provide what should have been expert analysis. I shall never forgive you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Anybody gone for it yet?

Your new version of Blogger is ready!
The new version of Blogger now has all the original features you're used to, plus new post labels, drag-and-drop template editing, and privacy controls. And, it's a lot more reliable.

After you switch you'll need to sign in with your Google Account, but your blogs will stay the same. Their content and layout will not change.


Friday, November 10, 2006


There was a parents' evening at the Frog's nursery school yesterday and, as Idris was working, I was the designated responsible adult. So, I picked up Froggy, hared her off to her pre-school lesson and dashed back just in time to catch the start. There were upwards of 30 parents in the room, most shifting awkwardly on chairs made for the support of 5 year old bottoms. I, on the other hand, was advantageously and comfortably perched on a table at the back of the room. I had been here before and knew that comfort was all.

The headmistress(?) began proceedings by expressing the hope that we had all read the notice on the notice board.

I read it today. It invites parents who would like their children assessed/tested to make a prior appointment, in writing, with the Rainbow Foundation who are in town expressly for said purpose.

She continued by informing us that there was a foundation grant which nursery schools in the area had been invited to apply for and indeed that hers had made such an application. In order to comply with the terms and conditions of said application, children in their last year of nursery school had been subjected to approximately half an hour of assessment and testing.

Whoa. Run that one by me again would you? You had my child tested without my permission? By an outside organisation? Not government/Dept. of Education run?

So, with little consequent ado, she handed us over to the Foundation representative/soon to become a colleague, who would further elucidate.

She (a total female hegemony here, I briefly notice. Myself and Zoli are the only males in the room) began by stating that her foundation was set up in the interests of, blah, blah ,blah...development...blah, blah, blah...standards...blah, blah, blah...preparation for elementary school...blah, blah, fucking blah...and that she had tested/assessed all the 3rd year children the previous day.

"Did you know about this, Zoli?"
"No, but..."

She went on to explain that they had been tested under four main categories; knowledge of personal information (date of birth, address, names and occupations of parents etc.), motor skills (following physical instructions, left hand on right shoulder, thumb and four fingers into contact in sequence, hand/eye co-ordination etc.), intelligence and memory (symbolically, numerically and alphabetically, even though counting and letter recognition form no part of the nursery school syllabus) and finally, attentivity and understanding (knocking on the desk whenever a certain word is spoken, concept questions etc.)

Concept questions, eh? I know all about those from language teaching and would readily attest to their being wide open to interpretation

Anyway, points out of a hundred are given according to performance.

She continued by stating that she would personally come into the school twice a week for an hour to give remedial attention to those children that needed it. She adds, in response to a question, that the remedial work can be carried on in elementary school should the child 'need' improvement in their hand/eye co-ordination for example, and even in secondary school if need be.

"What the fuck?"

It is at this point that the red mist descends and I can feel a full blooded, assegai wielding, rampant fucking slaughter coming on.

"How's your memory, Zoli?"
"God knows."
"Shall we test it?"

I mean, what the fuck? Hand/eye co-ordination, for fuck's sake? Motor skills? What the hell is this any preparation for, visits to a china shop?

So, presentation over, we are led into seperate rooms where the nursery school teachers will consult with the parents of children of their own particular classes. Now, seeing as my own especial frog was born in July, we had the choice of starting her in elementary scholl (a form of pedicentric training, archly recommended) this September or keeping her in nursery school for another year. Inordinately fond of our childish adult, we decided on the latter. Christ, childhood is all too short and the Hungarian education system is such that attendance at any school beyond nursery signals the end of same. Anyway, this meant that the three 'sisters', Lorna, Laura and Izabella, mouseketeers all, were represented by father, father and mother in intimate congress with their two primary carers.

They began by stating that the marking of the tests was so strict that a failure to answer any one question correctly, or perform any exercise to the representative's satisfaction in any section, resulted in a zero mark for the whole section and, as a result, they would not be telling us, the parents, the mark achieved. Heaven help that we would become competitive and resent each others' child on the basis of some abitrarily awarded point.


They proceeded to go through the entire test in some detail, stage by stage. The questions asked..."Can you tell me the days of the week?" Do they understand that yesterday is past, today is present and tomorrow is yet to come, etc. etc. etc? Do they know their own telephone number?

*Fucked if I know my mobile number, I never use the fucker.*

Can they follow a simple 'Simon says' sequence, rapping on the table in front of five symbols in the order in which they were rapped by the assessor/tester?

"Er...excuse me. You said that you don't want to tell us the results, yeah? But just who will have access to these results?"

Cue great sniggering on the part of Laura and Izabella's parental representatives whose brains are obviously not fully engaged at this point.

"No. Wait a minute. Will elementary schools have access to these results and be able to refuse to accept a child simply because their hand/eye co-ordination isn't up to scratch?"

"And just who decides what is an acceptable level of performance in each section?"

"Oh, well, it's obviously an average." states father Laura although mother Izabella pricked up her ears noticably at the first question.

First answer is in the negative.

"But representative stated that the remedial work would/could/should (the exact modality escapes me) continue in elementary and secondary schools."

"Well, yes. But they wouldn't know the exact results."

*These guys should run for office.*

The second query remains unanswered.

They inform us that part of the test involved determining which part of the brain was the dominant. Left hemisphere, right handed and all that. They then went on to state that they, as nursery scholl tweachers (see above but with a tweak in their sobriety), would have to perform exercises designed to strengthen the weaker hemisphere; close strong eye and view the world through a toilet roll attached to the other etc.

*You are fucking kidding, right?*

I had to leave at this point as I had to go and collect the Frog from her pre-school class. As I was leaving, the primary carer informed me that Lorna was an entirely normal child.

*Fuck. Let me down again, the bitch.*

I came home and ranted profusely about the whole fucking rigmarole of such an assessment to Idris and her friend Kati. It transpired that Kati's son, Boti, a 5 year old turbo charged, charming bundle of sugar fuelled aggression is, and I quote, "catastrophic" according to his speech therapist/logopediatrician and was thusly informed in front of every parent of every child in his speech therapy class. He lisps and is lazy in his enunciation. Fucking charming to me. I understand him.

I go and pick the frog up today and am buttonheld by her primary carer.

"I didn't want to tell you yesterday in front of the others but Lorna was way ahead of the rest of her age group...wiped the floor with them, in fact. First in every category. Out of the whole year. 3rds and 4ths."

*You just don't fucking get it, do you?*

On the other hand..."Who's your daddy?"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Jamming on the brakes does have the rather wondrous effect of waking one up to one's surroundings even if the shopping in the boot does remain vertical and leak free, a state I often have trouble in attaining but that is by the by.

I was heading home post supermarket trip and decided to hit the main road route as opposed to the shorter in distance, through town trip. Leave town, over the flyover...screeeeeech. Zero forward mobility in a very short time indeed.

I ignore lane discipline in an attempt to ascertain the problem and espy a squad car some 500 metres away, an accident thinks I. Wrong. I approach the obstruction and it becomes all too clear that there is a tractor parked/abandoned on the oncoming lane. It is the work of but a moment for me to espy the rather large Hungarian flag flying from a pole inserted into its vertical exhaust system and my reactionary circuits hit overdrive.

The tractor is hauling, or would be if it wasn't parked, two trailers. They are both festooned with more Hungarian flaggage than I have seen wielded by a victorious water polo team and several and sundry cars are parked behind them. All of the cars bear banners. One reads, and I translate, "Gyurcsány, resign!" and another, I do not translate, "Justice for Hungary".

Now, being one of the very few who could possibly understand that last message and, in reaction to the waves of the demonstrators and the sounded horns of their supporters, I did only what I could in the circumstances.

I electronically wound down my window, mechanically raised my middle finger, left hand and mouthed, "Fuck off!"

Thuswise are the politics of the UK introduced into Hungary.

One likes to think one does one's bit.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Frank Lampard said: "I knew things were raining down but none of them hit me. There was a bit of banter with the Spanish fans and that was good."

Banter? Hmmmm. With? That would imply some sort of dialogue, Frank. And even if the Catalans were speaking Spanish entirely for your benefit, I wonder if you know what 'Concha tu madre, chanchito de mierda' means.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I’ve been thinking. Not, on the face of it, an unusually demanding activity you might surmise but if one pauses for a moment to consider, one would have to concede that, for most of us, it remains an ability almost entirely self taught and, though it pains me to admit it, tragically under utilised.

Now I do not concern myself here with the processes involved in making the admittedly important and mood defining decision of, “I think I’ll go with the Bunnahabhain tonight” or even in reaching the conclusion that, “I think you’d look rather fetching with your knees somewhere in the vicinity of your ears” and nor that which would allow me to explain such important consequentialities as why men have nipples and quite how American Foreign Policy can best be meditated upon only with a thorough understanding of the theory of entropy. No. For these I give not a fruit of the ficus carica or wouldn’t even if I had one, which I don’t but I digress.

No, what concerns me mightily at the moment, has set the synapses abuzzing in an optimistic attempt to jump start cells either pickled or too long dormant is the ability for the kind of thought which would allow one to attain a state of true individuality and certainly not that long considered to have allowed us to attach the species sapiens , to our genus, homo . That after all is far too closely associated with knowledge and knowing which is a biscuit of an altogether different provenance. No. In short, the nub, kernel, central point or even G-spot of my cogitations is education.

Now maybe it’s the malt soaked old buffer in me coming to the fore but it would seem to me, even in my more sober moments, that the whole purpose of education is to teach one to think for oneself. To see through the assorted fripperies of advertising, received wisdom, newspaper editorials, state of the nation addresses and serving suggestions and actually reach informed conclusions and opinions of one’s own. A triumph over ovine ignorance in other words.

And it is in this respect that the education system of the UK certainly failed me and is quite demonstrably failing others even yet. I was told. I absorbed. I regurgitated. It was only after the passage of some fifteen or so years, during which I read widely and took far too many drugs, that when I returned to university as a mature(r) student, I was finally able to exchange the intellectual currency I possessed for anything more than face value.

We do not educate any longer. We train. We trammel. Like a vine trained along wires we are pruned and led. And to what? Our own little cubicle if we’re lucky but most will end up as wage slaves, mortgaged to the hilt and running the wheel ever faster and with increasing desperation.

Education, if it means anything, must surely mean freedom. Freedom from the ignorance and prejudices of our elders and yet freedom hardly informs the thinking of our governments today. Oh yes, the freedom to buy shares, to buy one’s council house...freedom to buy, to consume and be afraid. Afraid that one might somehow fall behind, catch bird flu or be rendered into one’s constituent molecules by terrace. Freedom to do all of this but the freedom to think, to challenge, to question, to change?

God help me, I am not perfect. I know nothing. I am hopelessly ignorant and prejudiced to the nth degree. All I would ask is that my daughter has at least a chance, however small, of being better than I am.

I know that if I leave it up to the education system here in Hungary, her knowledge will certainly exceed that of the average Brit but she will be programmed and inculcated all the same. There is so much to do and I am not sure if I am the man to do it.

And should I think about my motives? Am I looking for redemption through my child? Oh, fuck it. I think I’ll have another drink.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Having stirred Hungary into a couple of nights unrest by suggesting that their 6-3 win at Wembley was entirely down to the ideas of Jimmy Hogan, the English coach working with them at the time, and as it would appear to have settled down somewhat, I'm off to Croatia to see if I can't nick a few more of their vowels.

Back in a week. Play nicely now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


BBC report on violent demonstrations in Hungary.

Basically, what the report describes. The whole truth is a little more complicated.

Gyurcsány, the current socialist PM as a result of an election a couple months back, was addressing MPs in his party at a private meeting and made the basic political error of telling the truth in a situation where he could be surreptitiously recorded.

The background is that the election took place at a time when Hungary is basically up to its nostrils in the effluent...huge debts, no longer able to afford to subsidise gas and electricity prices etc...and, as people seemed to be of the opinion that 10 years since the change of regime was long enough to get the country and economy on track and end the years of austerity and belt tightening, there appeared to be an unspoken pact between all the parties contesting the election to not make waves. The political reality was such that any party who actually told the truth about the economy would not stand an Unsworth at left back's chance of being elected.

Also, two of the major reasons why 10 years has not been long enough are the usual post regime change corruption whereby state industries are sold and contracts awarded to cronies for respectively nominal and extortionate fees in exchange for bungs and backhanders to politicians and the fact that the black market here is larger than the legal one. In other words, every single person in Hungary is corrupt to some extent whether it be the housewife who accepts the plumber's offer of not issuing a bill for the work done and thus gets a cash discount, the teacher giving private lessons after school, the manager diverting company concrete to his patio or the politician abusing his position to stuff his back pocket. Fact is they're all at it. The only difference is in the amounts involved. And people being what they are, they do not equate their own, small financial scale corruption with that of the politicians and bureaucrats.

So, tax base therefore very small or at least smaller than it should be given the extent of the black economy and therefore, taxes themselves on a par with those of Scandinavia...very high.

Result of all this? A population not at all receptive to any notions of further belt-tightening and cuts in government expenditure. A simple political formula that telling the truth equals electoral suicide. Plus the fact that the sheer scale of the corruption makes it almost impossible to deal with. How is the guy with a small allotment style vineyard going to be persuaded to declare his earnings on a few litres of illicitly sold wine which will help him pay the increase in his utility bills when he is aware that people in higher positions have made billions at the same game?

Gyurcsány understands all this and attempted to tell his party a few home truths. The two most quoted parts of his speech, both in the BBC report, sound pretty damning but, without either the context of the whole speech or knowledge of the political situation here in Hungary, are succeptible to being used to manipulate those bears of little brain that make up the target audience of huckstering politicos.

The first, "Of course we lied to win the election" breaks the unspoken contract between any electorate and its politicians that 'we know you lie but we will accept this as long as you do not say so to our faces'. Hypocritical? Of course but a fact nonetheless. Home truth number 1 anyway.

The second refers to the Socialist's 4 years in office before the latest election. "We did nothing for four years. Nothing." Again, out of context, pretty damning.

But, if we take both in the context of an intelligent man talking privately to the members of his party doing what all voters profess they want their politicians to do, that is to tell it how it is and attempting to hold up a mirror to the MPs and shake them up enough to at least attempt to change the status quo, to say that this is how it has been and I am heartily sick of it, then they become something else entirely. That which should be a kick start for real political change, an acceptance of responsibility and a new contract with the electorate.

The cassette containing this speech was broadcast on Hungarian radio on the 18th of September. Gyurcsány himself published his entire speech on his blog on the 17th. Okay, he knew of the existence of the tape by then either, and here is the interesting bit, because he had been told of it or because the whole thing happened with his knowledge and approval. Either way, he is standing by his speech and will not apologise for nor retract one single word of it.

I have read this and, although my Hungarian is not up to understanding it in its entirity, the gist of it seems to be that 'the country is fucked, we have been content simply to be in power and in denial of the real situation and we have to try to break the culture of lies and actually do something to try and fix the problems'.

So, the tape is broadcast on the 18th. On the 19th, demonstrations break out simultaneously in all the major towns and cities in the country, including Nagykanizsa. The focus is on the 2 quotes above and there is a lot of Hungarian flaggage in evidence.

Spontaneous eruption of public feeling? My arse. Just further evidence that the right is more organised than the left is all. They hardly needed their political antennae set to maximum sensitivity to recognise this as a perfect opportunity to make political capital. Firstly, just how many people would take the trouble to actually read the whole speech and not rely on the selected soundbites? Secondly, what party could resist such a golden opportunity to brand the opposition as congenital liars thereby keeping their part of the contract whereby we know they lie but they have not told us so to our faces and can therefore, be trusted?

It's the flaggage on display that gives it away really. I mean, what normal Hungarian voter would think, "In a whore's life! The PM lied to us. Now, where's my flag?"?

Again, a bit of background. Before the election, the main opposition party, FIDESZ, was running a tad short of policy ideas and, as afraid of telling the truth as the ruling socialists, decided that their best chance of victory was by playing the nationalist card. Thus, whenever they held rallies the faithful were instructed to turn up not with their party flags and colours but with Hungary's red, white and green.

Anyway, as demonstrations do, some turned pretty nasty, particularly the ones in the capital. Finding the parliament building closed and/or too well defended, they turned their attention to the State TV headquarters where they overpowered some 100 riot police and stormed the building. To what end? Ostensibly to have a petition read live on air but I doubt the majority were even aware of this. Most of the participants seemed to be the Hungarian equivalent of our own dearly beloved BNP supporters and were probably acting on some genetic memory from 1956 that storming the TV building is what one does on these occasions.

As ever with the really important political events, this one will play itself out on an emotive rather than rational level especially since the election was only narrowly won and the country split almost 50/50 between the Socialists, a kind of New Labour/Third Way lite and the right wing, nationalist FIDESZ. I can't help feeling that, despite his best intentions, Gyurcsány has handed the opposition a lethal weapon and that his days are probably numbered.

Which, for a lifelong socialist (champagne or otherwise) and rabid anti-nationalist such as myself is definitely...Not. Good. News.

Monday, September 18, 2006


The current prime minister of Hungary has been secretly recorded during what we might call an unguarded moment admitting that, "Of course we lied before the election" and an even more illuminating, "We did nothing during our previous 4 year administration, nothing."

Well, strap me to a tree and call me Brenda, says I. You were expecting something else, maybe?

Apparently they were.

There are increasingly violent demonstrations taking place in all the major cities and towns in Hungary including this one, as I type. A mob gathered outside the Hungarian TV building in Budapest momentarily overpowered 100 odd riot police to gain entry before being repelled with water cannon and tear gas. Watch this space.

It would seem we live in interesting times.

Roger is right, one could have hours of fun with this.

Well, maybe not hours exactly. That may have been a slight exaggeration. Okay, if I'm honest, five minutes tops. Unless, like me, one is desperately bored and looking for something to take the edge off a Blades induced mild weekend depression. Naah, it's back already. Plan B it is then.

Your very good health.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Okay, I've tried everything. Short of prostituting myself or mortgaging my future sperm count...a dodgy proposition given the general dissipation of the X chromosome in the human gene pool but fuck it (or not, as the case may well be), there are some things worth selling one's soul for.

Namely Mike Leigh's Naked and Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books.

Anyone with a more than negligible opportunity of putting either of these into my exceedingly grateful possession is encouraged to get in touch via the comments.

I love you all.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I always tune in to FM4 out of Vienna in the car to tickle the stamens of my musical curiosity but the chances of me ever getting any work done now I've found a live internet feed are minimal to totally non-existent.

Carlsberg don't do radio, but if they did...



I had the strangest dream last night.

I was having a deathbed revelation during which it was revealed to me that everything I had ever believed up to that point had been wrong.

It was then that I woke up.

Before I'd even had the chance to enquire about Piers Morgan.

Friday, September 08, 2006


If ever you should suffer a, shall we say, agricultural diversion when attempting to steer with your knee while rolling a cigarette, it would be wise to ensure that you are driving a Trabant at the time.

I was just performing said manouevre when a sudden jolt and the sight of tobacco parting company with paper caused me to look up and witness the perfect point perspective of a ploughed field which, on a closer inspection, I discovered to be some metre and a half below the level of and, on the other side of the road from, the lane from which I began said escapade.

Trabant...chassis like a tank and with limited moving parts, none of which could remotely be described as fragile...completely undamaged, an assumption at the time but confirmed on later inspection. I just rammed it into first...bumpity bumpity bump...tractor exit, back onto the blacktop, where did I put those cigarette papers?

The moral of the story time I'll take the Octavia. Much less of a tendency to veer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006



I have a feeling I might regret this but there is bile in the Amstelladagain liver which no amount of single Islay malt can flush away.

Wasn't it Spitting Image who first accused Israel of attempting to rewrite the Old Testament and improve on it a bit with respect to the smiting? Whoever it was, they got it pretty much spot on.

So, where shall I start? Talking about the who, why and what of the birth of the state of Israel will do me little good here...although it might be worth reminding the Israelis that, were it not for their own acts of terrorism, it would not have come into being at all.

Should I deal with the facts on the ground? Shit, there aren't any. If truth is indeed the first casualty, then it was stretchered off on a drip to the field hospital before I was even born.

Sod it then, I'll add my own take on events and the hell with it. If you think me ill-informed, I can only say that of course I am. Along with the rest of the world.

So, as I see it, the biggest problem is that you have a whole shedload of people, the Palestinians, who were kicked orf their land and are;

1. almost totally without any form of what we would recognise as representation and independence. Israel is in almost complete control over their water supply in the West Bank and Gaza, for example.

2. because of their lack of a viable state and their diaspora, subject to being used as pawns in other States' political machinations...most other Arab states look down on the Palestinians and yet this does not stop their using them as an emotive issue at home to demonstrate Arab solidarity and divert attention from other, more potentially dangerous domestic issues.

Hamas and particularly, Hezbollah arose in an attempt to solve these problems. The latter runs schools and hospitals in southern Lebanon and provides an infrastructure which includes social services, student grants, help with medical expenses...all those things which no state can provide for them. Hearts and minds? Maybe, but for a poor Palestinian refugee family it's manna from heaven. Even now, who is it that is ensuring a supply of food and bottled water to those suffering as a result of Israel's bombardment? Who is it that funds rebuilding programmes after the dust has settled? You got it. Hezbollah.

There are all the elements of statehood in the above and yet this exists within other states outside of the control of the host government...another problem but I'll skip that for why is it that we are surprised when such a state, demonstrably existing to serve its constituency, decides it needs a military to protect it?

And, by God, did it need protection. Just who else was going to look after their interests? The US? Britain? Syria? Who was Israel going to sit up and take notice of? The UN? Israel does what it damn well pleases and always has done and is still the subject of more ignored UN resolutions than all other countries combined. Who else was going to respond to Israel's acts of aggression?

Were any other country in the world to have followed the same actions as Israel's over the years, the Marines would have been sent in ages ago. So why haven't they?

Is it the Jewish lobby in the US? The fear of being thought anti-Semitic? A post WWII sympathy? Is it that we just hate/fear the fucking arabs? The fact that Israel's got the 'bomb'? Probably all the above, I don't know.

What I do know is that, if one were to look for examples of rank hypocrisy anywhere in the world, the ones of stupendous, off-the-scale magnitude will be found here and I, for one, am heartily sick of it.

You commit acts of terrorism. We wage war.
You commit atrocities. We talk about collateral damage.
Your actions are wanton. We merely defend ourselves.
You fire one rocket. We drop 20 tons of ordnance.
You are non-people, refugees at best. We suffered a diaspora.
Your democratic government is illegitimate. We are exporting democracy.
You abduct and kidnap. We capture and arrest.
You are unlawful combatants. We are prisoners of war.
You can rot without trial in Guantanamo. We expect the Geneva convention.

Our state has the right to exist. Yours? Who gives a fuck?
We enter your territories with armour and uniforms and are therefore, within our rights to do so. You enter ours with explosive clothing and are therefore, not.
We have the right to protect ourselves. You can just get on your knees and assume the position.

And then you've got that fucking chimp, Georgie boy stating for the record on prime time Republican TV that he cannot in all conscience sanction stem cell research because of his regard for the sanctity of innocent life. 'Kinell.

And then all the political media machinery in the US oiling its cogs over the prospect of WWIII. Give me strength.

I realise that all this seems pretty one sided but hey, whaddaya know? Bush and Blair are hardly balancing the arguments, are they?

We're fucked. Absolutely and totally.

A patriarchal world, eh? I'm lovin' it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


The referee didn't see it, the assistant referee didn't see it, so how can FIFA's insistence that video evidence is inadmissable stand up after tonight?

I am in no way condoning the action of Zinedine Zidane, although I would love to know just what Materazzi said to him; there just remains a suspicion that the fourth official (whose verdict has so far in these championships been restricted to timekeeping) only decided to radio his opinion to the referee after Zidane's marvellously aggressive headbutt was relayed to the entire audience via the video screens in place at the stadium. (Whoops, according to eye-witness reports, the replay was not shown in the stadium but you're not telling me that the official did not have access to TV monitor replays).

Now, were similar evidence to have been admissible during the rest of the championships, Italy would probably not have progressed beyond Australia, whose fortune at this World Cup was determined by a decidedly dodgy penalty decision which would not, under any reasonably fair video scrutiny have stood up to even the most cursory examination.

I'm agog at the possibilities for FIFA to explain away this one, but I'm sure they'll find a politically acceptable press release, one which absolves Materazzi, as a World Cup winner, and the referee, as a FIFA appointment, of any wrong doing whatsoever.

But I have this nagging suspicion that Materazzi was extremely well briefed. Any lip readers aware of Algerian insults?

I guess advertising agencies have known for some time that there is nothing like alliteration when it comes to embedding marketing slogans into a consumer's psyche (P-p-p-pick up a Penguin) but it would appear that in the quest for fantastically effective fricatives...the 'voiceless' and 'labio-dental' both sacrificed here for their assonance...consonantal consonance has begun to take precedence over any semantic considerations to the extent that a manufacturer of bath and shower gel will accept a marketing presentation containing the words 'Family Friendly Formula' without instantly dismissing it as mere babble from the sick bed.

Given that even the less sentient among the populace would probably have among their expectations of such a gel the assumption that it would not corrode their epidermal layer to the extent of necessitating a visit to their local NHS provider, one wonders just how this formula can demonstrate its acclaimed chumminess.

This aside, what really grates is the ubiquitous shorthand of 'family'. The use of the word by advertisers, politicians and apostrophe unaware signboard writers has rendered it absolutely meaningless or, more accurately, to a state of such vagueness that it can safely be used by such masters of the art of saying absolutely nothing while sounding deeply profound as huckstering political candidates in the sure and certain knowledge that heads will nod among the electorate at any mention of the phrase, 'family values'.

Family holiday, family meal, family fun, family there's an image for car, family shampoo and family bloody values; all intent on conjuring an image as unreal as that of a nostalgic reminiscence of the supposedly halcyon days of the 1950s where fratricide, incest, spousal abuse and child battering all, no doubt, took place without the confines of the family and idyllic Sunday afternoon picnics formed the focus of a fun family weekend.

Would it were just a laziness abroad in the land but I fear it is but a symptom of a deeper malaise; a desire, especially on the part of politicians and the media, to reduce even the most complicated issues to an easily remembered soundbite using enough emotive language to trigger an emotional response among the intended audience in an attempt to stifle any rational debate on the subject. The word 'family' has already been hijacked, 'democracy' would appear to be going the same way. We are indeed, a civilisation in decline.

All I can say is that any family containing Warren Terrism and Laura Norder is not one among which I would wish to spread my genes, that's for sure.

I must go now. I think my family pizza is just about done.

Friday, July 07, 2006


"...and we'll be covering that two minutes silence live, as it happens, here on CNN."

I'll probably be joining in. Words fail me.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


"He should be put on the first plane back home" said Clive Thomas, a former referee. "They gave him two easy games to start with and the third was a tougher one. And, as ever, when the chips are down, he loses control - he goes berserk, he totally loses it. I could see something like this coming and the incident with the three yellow cards was a disaster for him - that was pathetic refereeing."
From the Independent

As wonderful an example of sticking the knife into a fellow professional as you're ever likely to see and, as I'm sure every Blade who witnessed his performance in our FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal will agree, absolutely on the button.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Just when you begin to think that, quite possibly, official statements have reached a zenith of ineptitude and that there is no more room in any major facial orifice for even the most dainty of feet, along comes evidence that things can, and probably will, get a whole sight worse.

A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention".

Mind you, there could be an upside. Both Bush and Blair have been doing rather badly in the polls recently...

Friday, May 05, 2006


It was a fairly uneventful trip although I have yet to experience what might be termed a perfect landing when flying EasyJet and the pilot was in fact sufficiently skilled to at least find the right airport, the wannabe London Luton...the name a triumph of marketing over any geographical factors that's for sure.

So, off to find the courtesy bus to the carhire centre and encounter the first evidence of the unease and incapability with which your average Brit deals with airports, the first staging post on the way to 'abroad'.

"Is this the bus for the Station?"

" That would be the one over there waiting next to the sign that says, 'Station'"

There were at least six variants on the above before the bus drew away which did give me the opportunity of tanking up the depleted nicotine levels. Step out of any airport these days or indeed, out of any building and your first intake of breath is no longer fresh air but rather a fug of cigarette smoke. Strange when in the quest for something decent to breathe, you have to open a window and stick your head inside.

Anyway, off to Avis...sorry, no interestingly buttocked Mégane and have to settle for a brand new silver VW Golf instead which took no time at all to remind me that there is nothing like automotive equipment to force one into taking several steps back along the evolutionary ladder. I was just glancing around for something with which to twat it one when I finally discovered that the switch to open the boot was operated by the VW logo itself...the badge being fitted with a dampened spring system that must have put at least 100 of the folding on the list price. So...load 'er up and climb in.

It was a little like 10 steps forward and 5 back. I was, it is true, feeling slightly less neanderthal after figuring out the boot mechanism but, faced with the array of bright lights and cabin controls, I morphed effortlessly into Dee-Dee mode.

"Oooooooooooooooo. What does this button do?"

There was even one marked 'ESP'. I mean, what? Of course I pressed it, concentrated very hard on sparking up the ignition...fuck all. So much for German engineering.

I eventually got out of the car park having resolved, for safety reasons, not to even look at any of the LCDs...I mean, adept as I am at rolling cigarettes on the roll as it were, trying to decipher and understand merely half of what the thing was trying to tell me would have involved severe lane indiscipline at best and several pedestrian fatalities at worst.

Whoever decided that six fucking gears might just be a whizzo idea had obviously never driven through Luton on the A505 to Hitchin and Letchworth. Used, as I am, to changing gear both with the right hand and rarely, and once I had given up trying to change gear with the seat adjuster lever, it took me precisely not very long to develop RSI in the left arm. Obviously a marketing ploy to encourage up-grading to the automatic version and parting with even more of the folding.

Onto the A1 and a chance to play with the cruise control, something I had often wished for on my journeys across Europe back to the UK. Complete waste of time. Two questions naturally occur almost immediately on return to Blighty. The first, 'Where did all the drop-dead gorgeous women go?' is irrelevant here but the second, 'Where did all these fucking cars come from?' is germane to our discussion. I mean, I defy anyone to find a stretch of road anywhere in England where a constant speed is attainable and/or advisable and just what is the use of a cruise control that is de-activated not only by use of the clutch and brake but also the bleeding accelerator?

Oh well...home and the first Stella session catching up with my brother. We had both had the same idea and arrived home at different times, I with 8 Stellas and he with 8 Tesco bitters that I wouldn't brush my teeth with. Very much a case of each to his own that evening I can tell you.

Captain Blade

I got to Sheffield about 11 o'clock on the Saturday and headed down to BDTBL and the Blades' Superstore, the name again an attempt to market-morph reality I'm afaid. I was under orders to purchase two Captain Blade dolls for two Frogs of my acqaint but was informed that they had sold out yet they might have some left at Streetwise on the Moor. Half way there and it occured to me that I had walked further this day than on the previous god knows how many but I soldiered on anyway. Past several open pubs it must be said but I was a man on a mission. Streetwise was happy to impart the news that the dolls were such slow movers that the line had been discontinued and none were to be had for love nor money. Bollocks. I was in such a bad mood that I completely forgot about the proposed ram-raid on Tongey's opticians and headed back to Shoreham Street where I consoled myself with a greasy chip butty before heading off for the hotel. Check in and tootle off out immediately for a trip to Tesco. Henderson's, only three bottles, sheeyit...check, Colman's...check, malt vinegar...check, Cheddar cheese...check, giant fuck-off block of Cadbury's Dairy Milk...only mildly amused to note the Made in France label...check, fajitas for lunch on the morrow...check. On the way back I stopped at a newsagent's on Wostenholme Road for more bottles of Henderson's, climbed back into the car and pulled away. There was a loud metallic clang from somewhere under the car and an almost complete lack of power. Stall. Bugger. By keeping the revs up at extraordinary levels, I managed to limp back to the hotel where I called Avis. The RAC chappie arrived promptly and we went for a wee drive. Naturally, everything was fine and we parted company. Hmmm.

Sheaf, Sheaf, Sheaf

Sunday began well. I woke up early, had a shower, a short walk for a paper and first into the dining room for breakfast...indeed a first, this will probably never happen again as long as I live. I made off with the entire stock of bacon before any other guests arrived...after all, this was going to be a very liquid day and I needed all the fat I could get. Then, "TAXI!" over to the Sheaf View which turned out to be closer than I remembered it being and led to my arriving there 10 minutes before it was due to open at 11. A white minivan pulled up and several and sundry Blades disembarked. One walked over to the pub door and read the opening hours, was bereft to read the 12:30 Sundays and turned back to impart the bad news. Having had the foresight to actually phone from Hungary before I left, it was for me the work of but a moment to pour oil on troubled waters and receive a cold can of Stella for my trouble. A contingent of Welsh Blades they were and it transpired that we had a common acqaintance, none other than the only man I have ever kissed full on the tongues though...Weggie himself. Small world. Anyway, first into the pub...not, as you will no doubt have supposed, a first in any way this time...and, being faced with as fine an array of strange and wonderful beers as you could wish for, asked the disturbingly young looking barmen for a recommendation. Quetzlcoatl it was then. They did rather venture out of their own particular field of expertise when they attempted to enlighten me about the differences of language and geography between the Aztecs and the Incas but I am sure they were grateful for the information that the Incas did in fact speak Cechua, a language quite unrelated to some of the 'click' languages found on another continent entirely. One always tries to help out, don't you know?

Anyroad, out to the beer garden and wait for the rest of the Euro-Blades. Hamburg actually arrived on the button at 11:30 but it was another half hour before we recognised each other...he going on the basis of my blogger profile picture, which he insisted was misleading in the extreme...obviously, I'm much better looking in the flesh...and I relying entirely on a rather grainy, hand held video of him performing the Greasy Chip Butty on a German train back from a St Pauli match. So, an eventual hail and well met to Mrs Hamburg, Ams, Mrs Ams, Ams Jr, Trigger, Hague, Mrs Hague, Barca, Froggy and, quite possibly several others who have unfortunately been Quetzlcoatled out of the memory banks. A meeting spoiled only by my half hour wait to get served at the bar. Despicably understaffed if I may say so.


Off to t'match and a pleasant surprise to see just how splendid the Lane is looking these days with the new corner stand...shame about the different cambers but an improvement nevertheless. Only a little out of place...I had inexplicably quite neglected to pack my Burberry baseball cap...I enjoyed the match immensely, the highlight for me being Kozzy's Robert Pires swan dive impersonation near the end and the chance to abuse Király Gábor in his native language did not go unwasted. Quite an optimistic attempt from the back of the kop but there you go.

This is not Derek Dooley

The retirement of the Chairman of the Football Club whose duties would seem to have been doddering and wittering on to an almost embarrassing degree was marked by a post match presentation during which said retiree was persuaded by that bastard son of a bastard 70s DJ, Gary Bastard Sinclair to regale those present with a rendition of Sinatra's 'New York, New York'. We will swiftly skim over this episode only pausing to remark that one wishing to perform in front of nigh on 28,000 people could at least have taken the trouble to learn the lyrics if not actually rehearse.

Coke adds...

A promotional (in both senses) afterthought, the Blades were awarded a silver salver and medals by Coca Cola representatives which admittedly did provide some sort of logical conclusion to the celebrations which would otherwise have been unfocussed and maybe more anti-climactic than they already were. Warnock took the mic and once again just wouldn't let it lie, would he? Yet another reference to the doubters and glass half empty brigade and this on a day when all Blades were in a forgive and forget celebratory mood. Just deal with it, Neil. Okay?


A short walk to the Nelly and copious quantities of Chav Juice in the company of the clique or should that be the BOM squad? I shall name no names here but preserve internet alias anonymity to protect the guilty. Here's Raul looking inordinately pleased with himself at having found someone even shorter than he and the powers of Stones' bitter are best demonstrated by Keef's beaming grin even in the face of an impending triumph of hope over experience second marriage.

Big Mart was looking as Top Shop as ever which rather goes against has great difficulty in imagining anything other than distance, projectile warfare when considering the tiresome bother of trying to remove blood spatter patterns from Stone Island threads. He did have a lovely cardy on though. Shame I didn't get a picture. Now then, Ped. There are several words that spring to mind when thinking of Ped, 'bollox' and 'bladdered' being two of the most common but I am always struck by how such a model of lugubriousness as he can be so much fun to be with. Imagine a six foot version of Droopy Dog with a ready wink, an awesome thirst and...naah, not even close.

There was a rather dimly remembered arm wrestling debate as both for and against Akinbiye massives squared off against each other. My opponent was Big Rods who, I can only assume, has a collection of oversized American custom cars, and I am sorry to say...on the basis of eye-witness evidence only as my memory tells me the opposite...I lost. To Rods, I can only say that thou art a short-arsed little runt and I'll get thee next time, ya bugger. Brownie...fount of some of the ropiest celebratory cigars I have ever tasted. In fact, if I relax my concentration for but a moment, I can still taste 'em. Yodelmeister. How anyone with such an above average liquid content can have a humour so dry is beyond my powers to explain. All I can say here is that he who drinks with the Sponge cannot expect to have more than a partial memory of the journey back to the hotel.

In fact, now that I come to think about it, there were among our number two company chairmen and a sales director. One can only hope that we're all thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.

Oh, and by the way, the Golf switched into Limp Home Mode on the way back from Sheffield which involved a trip to Lincoln in a tow truck and a brand spanking new Peugeot 407. Yummy.

I also set a new record of 2 hours exactly from Budapest to Nagykanizsa which represents an average speed of over 100 kph. Hire cars. Who needs 'em?

We are Premier League, say...

Friday, April 28, 2006


It's 3:15 in the morning here and, as somewhat of a departure for me I must admit, I have already been to bed.

The road to Budapest awaits...the first port of call on the journey to BDTBL and the last match of the season on Sunday.

A pre-match EuroBlades convention in the Sheaf View...a post-match BOM shindig in the Lord Nelson with a possible detour into the Sportsman and a ram raid on Sam's opticians.

Bloody long way to go for a party. And this really is an ungodly hour to be getting out of, as opposed to into, bed.

Now, what was the plan again? Oh yes...throw up on Hamburg, goose Barca and run off with Ams' wife. Now there's a bit of reverse psychology for you. One can only pray it works.

Hey ho and off we go.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


It's hard to say what it's really like, this thread that runs through my life. It was anchored there by my father and has spooled out behind me ever since, one of only a very few constants.

I could maybe liken it to a hunger, a thirst but then it is one that can never be fully assuaged. One feeds off scraps for the most part with only the occasional feast to remind one of the delights of the high table. And am I the consumer or the consumed? The gnawing inside reminds me of who I am and where I came from, the tug on the thread recalls a father's hand.

As it plays out horizontally into my past, the vertical movements trace highs and lows, more troughs than peaks it must be said and only rarely constant.

A love affair, then? Of a kind, maybe. But there is a certain lack of sudden intensity, of infatuation, it is certainly more comfy, old slippers than fuck me shoes. They share a lack of perspective even though, in this respect, they are polar opposites. One looks at a lover and is blind to their faults or, measuring them in the balance, finds they are out-weighed. This thread though is more a fault line, limned with disappointment, treachery and betrayal. Drawn with mostly honest endeavour and on a shoe-string budget.

Do the highs and lows follow my mood or do they define it? More the latter I would suspect. Even though my life is to a large extent independent of it, the thread forms a backdrop, an undercurrent, the base from which all other peaks and troughs must be measured.

A sad indictment maybe but right now, I find I do not care in the slightest. My senses are filled and today I shall dine on greasy chip butties.

The Blades are back.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Flight EJ2582 will, no doubt, be inordinately pleased to whisk me away from home and hearth and I am sure the hired car with the dodgy bottom (apologies to Soapy but this is one Leopard who has indeed changed his spots)...that is, the cross between a VW Beetle and a Ford Anglia, the splendidly callipygian Renault Megane will quite spectacularly fail to breakdown as it transports me back oop to t'grim and I am equally confident that seat 116 on row WW of the Shoreham Street end of beautiful downtown Bramall Lane will be graced with a gift wrapped complimentary chocolate (and, quite possibly, an intimate wipe for my personal convenience and enjoyment), is with a heavy heart that I have to impart the grave and, it must be said, quite stupefyingly depressing news that my favourite hotel in Sheffield, the quite splendidly named Lindrick, has obviously been taken over by some absolutely hideous cohort of Bush, Rumsfeldt and Kinda Leezer and is henceforth to be known as 'Globe Line'.

And may the Lord have mercy on us all.

Friday, March 31, 2006


It has been brought home to me today, rather forcibly impinging itself upon my consciousness in fact, that Friday afternoon is not the most opportune time to be teaching teachers.

I am afraid I lost it.


We were 'doing' prices, to which end I had given them a café style menu with which to practice.

The menu had pictures of all the items on offer and the first task was to match the pictures to the words. One wouldn't have thought that Hamburger & Chips would have caused too much concern but I had reckoned without the headmaster.

"Simon, what does 'chips' mean?"

Oh. My. God.

"Well, how do you say 'hamburger' in Hungarian?"


"And can you see a picture of a hamburger on your menu?"


"And that pile of potatoey things next to it?"


"Okay then. So what's the problem?"

"What does 'chips' mean?"

I had also, to save time and add a touch of verisimilitude, used the ampersand (&) on the menu. I had not gone so far as to use the aberrant apostrophe but even this small touch of shall we say, expediency on my part proved too much for the headmaster's henchman who wanted to know whether or not the '&' was universally interchangeable with 'and'.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.

I gave them 10 minutes to ask each other how much any combination of menu items was and was pleasantly surprised to hear there were very few problems. Minor errors of pronunciation maybe, but this was not the focus so I let them go. I brought the activity to a halt and, rather foolishly I must admit, asked if there were any questions. Cue the Head of Textile Technology.

"Simon, what does 'pound' mean?"

At this point I must confess that it was rather difficult for me to restrain from demonstrating its alternative meaning by repeatedly bringing into close conjunction a hard-back book and the top of her skull but...what?

What is it about a foreign language that drives normally rational and intelligent people to lose all sense of reason and logic? To fail to apply their intelligence to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of a text?

Why is it that when the focus of the next lesson was the Present Simple and they knew the following words, " lives...Australia...small town...Alice Springs...not ordinary doctor...flying doctor", that they couldn't be satisfied with what might be termed a global understanding and had to spend at least 10 minutes in fervent Hungarian discussion of just what the phrase 'in the small town of Alice Springs' might mean? Lack of comprehension? Hardly.

"Where does Bob live?"

"In Australia."

"Where in Australia?"

"In Alice Springs."

"What is Alice Springs?"

"It's a small town."

"So, what's the problem?"

"What does 'in the small town of Alice Springs' mean?"

They crunch me on Fridays.

Monday, March 06, 2006


A Balance of Payments


A question I am still asked with alarming frequency and one to which I am still tempted to respond with a sharp left hook and an instep to the groin. It is as if I have broken some natural law, removing myself from my native environment and replanting in alien soil. The fact is that all I was really doing was pedalling my bicycle a little further than that nice Mr Tebbit had in mind when giving his awfully considerate 'Words of Advice for Unemployed People' some many moons and no few blindingly boisterous benders ago. That would not, in itself have been enough. What really tipped it for me was the fact that I realised with absolute certainty that I was among those whom he would personally have escorted to the airport. Shipped out. Passage paid. Chattering class.

Well, not actually of that coterie of playwrights, dons, television producers et al so derided by the tories of the time but certainly among an audience prepared to give as much time to them as to that other gang of playwrights, dons, television producers et al, not a chatterer among them obviously, who never earned the wrath of the grammar school classless by the simple expedient of agreeing with them. I doubt Roger Scruton, Alan Walters, Roger Ordish or Sir Alec Guinness would have made it onto the passenger list but I digress.

Anyway, the country had somehow survived the eighties but had emerged divided and quite suddenly, it didn't feel like home anymore. It wasn't that I was on the wrong side of the chasm, more that trying to straddle it while retaining my balance was becoming almost impossible.

Personally and professionally, my life had stalled and I was in need of a fresh start. England had little appeal at the time, the country was going to hell and there was bugger all I could do about it. Being there only involved me in its decline due to the simple fact that it was impossible to ignore. Can't beat 'em, leave 'em.

Now, it's a spectator sport only. I can watch the ovine being led by the bovine and all I feel is amusement and relief. Not that any of you would fall into either of those two categories, I'm sure...but viewed from afar and en masse? Leave. Abandon ship. I'm an intelligent, get me out of here.

I am now twice removed. From the blight of my native land and from my country of domicile...I will never truly belong here or be affected by it in the same way as the natives. I am indeed an island and I find I enjoy it. I have pruned my responsibilities down to the bare minimum of family and friends and have removed myself as far as possible from any...what?, I suppose. Whatever anyone, anywhere is doing, I can quite honestly and categorically state that it is not being done in my name. Whatever happens to me is almost entirely down to me and me alone.

I have a daughter now. Five and a half years old. Intelligent, generous of spirit and equally at home with the en point and the forearm smash. Do you honestly think I'd entrust her to the English education system? Naah, I ain't coming home.

Maybe not quite what you had in mind, Doc...I might be able to come up with something a little if you give me a day or two but for now my advice is of the Nike variety.

Just do it, girl.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


reproduced with permission

Saturday, February 04, 2006



Back and Here Again

He was walking now. Head bent back and tilted to one side. Whether or not he had volunteered or had been lifted out and set down is not clear.

They had been shopping. A short walk down the hill to the grocer's. Inside, as in any building that was not home, he had watched that other world, the one which existed just a few feet above his head and which occasionally dipped down for a brief moment of inclusion.

They were approaching the old farm and he could hear the chatter of the chickens above the noise of the cars changing up a gear as they crested the steepest section of the hill.

They stopped. She stooped slightly over the handles of the pram, her breathing shallow and urgent. She placed one hand on her swollen belly and with the other, reached down for his.


He was walking again. Head down. Watching the early morning sun catch the shine on each alternate new shoe and concentrating on the cadence of their fall.

Her grip was tight and the pull, forward. He wondered what the badge on his jacket pocket meant and tried his best, at first, to keep up. He knew instinctively that the tempo was not born out of any excited anticipation but out of a need to be on the other side of something, to be beyond and the event, behind.

The gravity of home was stronger the further away it became and yet the rubber of his new shoes could not slow their progress towards the gates. There, a woman was waiting, both stern of face and of dress. Hard edged. No solace to be found in her cold embrace.

The woman took his other hand and, for a moment, he had a hand in both worlds. He looked up at the old, familiar one and saw heartbreak over-ridden by a grim determination. She let go his hand and turned away.


He was sat on the bed. Her hand was in his. It had been a long time now since she had last walked and her physical frailty seemed to him somehow to be unfair. A poor reward. He saw the same heartbreak and determination as she asked him not to drag it out. He kissed her. Let go her hand and turned away.


He was walking again. Head bent down and tilted to one side.

"Daddy, you know that cartoon, 'the Magic Pencil'? The one where everything you draw comes to life?"

He said that he did.

"If you had one of those, what would you draw?"

"I don't know, sweetheart. Lots of ice-creams, I guess. How about you? What would you draw?"

"Your family."

He reached down and took her hand.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


For those of you who may be interested, we arrived okay. Easyjet rocks.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Off to England. Back Thursday.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Word of the day: Furkle (v) intrans. Part. about/around: That which hands should be getting up to under the covers during the watches of the night.

Drink of the day: Lagavulin

You remind me, gently prompt me even. You nudge me towards the inescapable truth that this blog has been in cryogenic suspension for far too long.

You are respectfully hesitant and choose your register with care. You retreat when my written response is terse to the point at which, were I to be charitable to myself, it could be interpreted as rudeness, an impolitesse to which I should, in all honesty, admit.

So. Wherefore was I thus stung? I draw the toxin ere it has time to burrow deep and realise that it came not from your arrows but from mine own. I am, therefore, doubly wounded; once by the mirror and again by the ice cold stab of consequent self judgement.

Don't you just love it when you can work a semi-colon into the narrative?

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. The hiatus. The pause. The blank page which has been my life since the first snowfall. And that, my dear, is a serious underestimation if ever there was. I could plead the mitigating circumstances of the dearth of gainful employment that has led to my spending the majority of my time at home which, were I to take David Byrne's definition of 'a place where nothing ever happens' could accurately be described as Heaven, and the attendant minutae of everyday life being insufficient to provide enough material for bloggage but I am not so sure.

When I started this blog, it was as an opportunity for me to communicate with an English speaking audience, to use my language freely and with abandon, released from the constraints of the classroom and the knowledge of my Hungarian interlocutors. In short, it was as unfocussed as the attention of a lecher in a whorehouse. To rant, to entertain, to focus my thoughts and explore my feelings, my life, my adoption, my daughter, my creed. The fact that it hasn't led to the revelation of Jeeves' recipe for the mid-morning restorative is neither here nor there. But that very lack of focus seems to have dissipated my energies somewhat.

And then, with time, all these options became exhausted and I was forced into the acceptance of that which I had known all along. That my character and all my creative abilities are, in essence, reactive. Kan does not do creation. Or, that which he is capable of has, by now, been done and done to death. Psychologists among you may note at this point, the shift into the third person but I care not a jot. Yah boo and sucks to you.

Even as a musician, I react to others' creative input. I can refine, improve and extrapolate in an infinite number of ways but to ask me to create that spark, that flash of inspiration, would be a fruitless endeavour.

My mind works quickly. Be my straight man, or woman, and I will give you the gags. Just don't ask me to write the script. I am drawn more to forums, chat rooms and comments these days than to this blog. The immediacy and opportunity for a witty riposte attract and yet fail to completely satisfy due to their transient nature. Here today, gone today. Posterity? I've sat it.

As a writer, I am a fraud. Yes, I can sling words together with a certain rythmn and cadence and I realise that I am at my most effective when I choose to forget my influences. I could tell a story, maybe. Invent one? Well, not for you lot anyway. My daughter remains the sole recipient of Kan the Man Storylines Inc. and, as yet, she isn't telling. Although the tale of the wedding of Miss Fartpants and Mr Burpalot may well last as long as my lineage and be among the most requested at bedtime, I doubt I shall be mortaring the publishers at my gate.

And my life in comparison to yours, my friend? A breeze, I believe, is the expression, although whether or not it could be described as being in any way current is debatable to say the least.

But, then again, I am approaching senility and will soon begin to dribble.