Monday 27 September 2010

The Mutants Are Coming

I accidentally caught an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show” the other day and it scared me half to death.

I saw three humanoids, two male and one female (although to be honest it was difficult to work out their sex AND their species) being baited by a crowd of crazy Americans to the chant:

“Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”

The two men were pissed off with each other. One said something like:

Mutant One: Ah protected you ‘cos you dun slept with other guys’ women!

Mutant Two: Yeah ah know! And ah thenk ya forrit!


The crowd chanted:


And a bell clanged and the two mutants hurled themselves at each other. I almost hurled myself.

I thought they were speaking English but then they uttered a kind of weird beeping sound, peppered with the odd English sounding word.

Mutant One screamed:


Obviously he reverted back to his primitive language when he became agitated. What amazed me though, was the fact that these two humanoid freaks were fighting over a woman who was possibly the ugliest thing on the entire planet. Were they blind? Were they MAD??

And then the ugly mutant woman turned to audience and said to the first mutant:

He wanted a piece of me! He wanted a piece of

before taking off what little clothing was covering her fat arse. The crowd loved it and whooped in delight as she paraded around the stage, showing her naughty bits.

Thankfully the TV producers, valuing the sanity of their TV audience, pixelated the exposed flesh, sparing me a trip to the toilet.

Did you know that some people think I am related to Jerry Springer?

Judge for yourself:

If it is true, what is a relative of mine doing presenting mutant after mutant on American TV to a baying crowd of weirdos?

It’s beyond belief.

It really is like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Sadly, the mutants aren’t just from America.

My home, the country of my birth, my small beautiful island, is also a breeding ground for invading mutants who want to wash their dirty laundry in public.

And Britain has its very own Jerry Springer – a hostile, arrogant ringmaster called Jeremy Kyle. Are all of these champions against the mutant race called Jerry or Jeremy?

Our own Jeremy Kyle fights injustice and weirdness like a man possessed.

But he doesn’t rely on the crowd to provoke them – he is quite happy to do that himself.

Jeremy Kyle (aka Mr Angry) spends most of his show bellowing at these British mutants, screaming:




We have a name for British mutants. We call them chavs.

Unlike my American uncle Jerry, Mr Angry doesn’t take any shit whatsoever from chavs.

Here is an example:

Can YOU tell what the chav is saying? I’m struggling and I’m British.

Here’s another clip. I can understand this guy but I’m sure you will agree that he is not of this Earth. And he has the audacity to challenge Mr Angry.

How dare he!!!

I am not a fan of Jeremy Kyle at all and the fact that he bellows at the mutants and chavs doesn’t help matters. To be perfectly honest I don’t want to see them on my tellybox any more.

So thank you, uncle Jerry and Mr Angry Kyle – but no thanks. Please get off the air and take all of these mutants with you.

One final note I have to add. I prefer the X-Men mutants myself (yes I know I am a hypocrite). Take a look at this:

I’m sure you agree – and I can safely say that blue IS my favorite colour.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Hell in a Metal Sausage

I hate flying but not because I am scared of it. I loathe being imprisoned in a metal sausage that is hurtling through the air at 35,000 feet.

I travel a lot, mainly through work but occasionally for pleasure and regrettably the mode of transport is usually an aircraft. I wouldn’t mind if it were a pleasant experience.

It is not.

A manager at work once said this to me when I complained about flying. I swear I am not making this up:

“What are you moaning about? A long haul flight is like being in a hotel; you get good food, you get a few films and you get the chance to sleep.”

I was so stunned by what he had said that I almost risked my career with the ensuing outburst.

Let’s analyse, for a second, what he said.

“You get good food.”

The food on a long haul flight can only be described as plastic food. It is not real and it is barely edible. Imagine, if you can, that you have been abducted by an alien space craft and are hurtling towards an alien planet at an impossible speed. The alien monstrosity that has imprisoned you sees that you require sustenance for the long journey so he analyses your dietary requirements using advanced science and concocts a dish of slimy crap that will provide the nourishment your body requires but looks and tastes like something the cat left in the garden. That’s exactly what airplane food tastes like.

“You get a few films.”

This is true; you do get a few movies. However, you have to watch them on a screen that is tiny with headphones that would make a nuclear explosion sound like a squeak. Add to that the screaming baby that is inevitably within earshot and the background droning roar of the engines, with the occasional ping when passengers require the stewardesses, you barely hear anything. And of course your movie gets interrupted when the captain speaks. And, if you time it badly, you end up missing the last hour of the movie because you either fall asleep or the captain decides to switch off the entertainment system a full thirty minutes before the aircraft lands.

“You get a chance to sleep.”

This is the biggest lie of all.


On a long haul flight?

Utter bollocks.

My company, as most companies these days, has adopted a policy of flying everywhere in economy class. The name for economy class varies from airline to airline and is usually given a name that implies importance, luxury or both. We are presented with names like:

World Explorer Class

Voyager Class

Ritz Class

Comfort Class

The names are horseshit and do not even remotely indicate the torture you are going to have to endure for twelve hours. More accurate names would be:

Pig Swill Class

Medieval Torture Class

Punishment Class

Torment Class

Hell Class

Although the name implies luxury, in reality you end up in the most uncomfortable place in the world. It is physically impossible to sleep in economy class unless you are so tired that you could sleep standing up, or the stewardesses puts you to sleep with a baseball bat.

How on earth can anybody sleep in such conditions? Let's have a look at the options:

If you end up next to the window you can possibly lean against the window. The problem is that there is no room for your legs because the seat in front is so far back that your knees are next to your ears for the entire flight. You can’t curl up into a foetal ball because your back grates against the armrest and the person next to you invariably doesn’t want to lift it up. You could sit up straight but your head ends up lolling forward, waking you up every ten seconds as you involuntarily do a poor impression of a nodding dog.

In the middle seats it is possibly worse because the people either side of you, in a futile attempt to get comfortable end up kicking you, elbowing you in the face or kidneys and possibly end up snoring directly into your face having just consumed enough wine to make them pass out.

The aisle seat may appear to be the most appealing but if you do manage to fall asleep you will be woken up constantly as people walk past and kick you, tread on you or drop things on you.

You cannot sleep in economy class on an aircraft unless the plane is empty, you are a child, you are a dwarf or you are so drunk that you cannot function.

Believe me, I have been drunk on a long haul flight and it is possibly my worst ever decision. On a business trip to Hong Kong, I decided to try to blag my way into business class for the trip home using all of my guile and charm. The problem is that I have no charm and I am about as cunning as a dead fox.

I failed to convince the woman at the check in desk that I needed an upgrade but she did offer me a carrot. I’m not suggesting that she thought I looked like the back end of a donkey (though she probably did). What she said was “There’s a possibility of an upgrade but you need to ask at the gate. I hope you are persuasive.”

I am not persuasive at all so I decided that I needed some Dutch courage. I sat in the bar on my own and drank more beer than I should have. I arrived at the gate and marched up to the gate staff with all of the arrogance of a drunk businessman but none of the charisma. I failed spectacularly to acquire an upgrade and, being drunk, my emotions were more dramatic; I slumped in a chair and, with tears of disappointment in my eyes, I started to moan and grumble to myself.

On the aircraft, I ended up in a window seat and that’s when the alcohol began to take its toll. I dozed off in the most uncomfortable position imaginable with my head jammed in the window indent, my mouth wide open, a snore rumbling from that massive open maw (the poor woman next to me later informed me of this) and my tongue lolling out accompanied by a torrent of dribble.

I missed my food, water and a film that I actually wanted to watch.

I awoke about three hours into the twelve hour flight. The aircraft was in total darkness and my cheek was stuck to the plastic window by a thin layer of my own saliva. For a second I had no clue who I was or where I was. And then, when the headache announced its presence, I remembered.

I was crammed into a seat that was meant for toddlers.

I had a banging headache.

My back was in agony because it had repeatedly scrapped and bashed the armrest.

My knees felt as if somebody had repeatedly hit them with a mallet.

I felt slightly nauseas from one too many beers and lack of food.

My bladder was quite literally about to explode.

I didn’t want to go to the toilet at all; I just wanted my own bed. Alas, I had no choice and had to negotiate my way past two strangers.

Next to me was a woman in her forties who was not too tall and could just about stretch out and sleep. She was snoring lightly.

Next to her, on the aisle seat was a big fat oaf of a man whose gut was so enormous that it scraped the seat in front. He required a seat belt extension to circumvent his monstrous belly. And he was fast asleep and snoring like a lion with a very bad cold.

I wondered how the woman next to me could cope with the noise of this Michelin man and then it was clear to me – she was wearing earplugs.

My humiliation was complete. I had to wake up this poor sleeping woman and the sack of blubber next to her in order to get past them both. Needless to say they were both angry; the woman because I had woken her up from a deep sleep and blubberman because he had to crowbar his huge mass out of the seat so that I could get past.

After the trip to the toilet I returned to my seat and remained awake for the rest of the flight with a headache, an aching body and a battered ego.

I will never board a plane again with too much beer in my system.

I wish I could say that I would never again fly long haul in economy class. Alas I will, in the next month or two on a business trip to China. I am looking forward to going back to China but the journey there and back will be Hell on Earth – or should I say Hell in a Metal Sausage.

I’m sure that the manager I mentioned at the beginning of the post, who incidentally is a very nice bloke, will compare my journey to a night in the Hilton.

He is right, of course, but only if he is comparing it to trying to sleep in a tiny shower stall, while trying to eat the shower curtain, in a room full to the brim of noisy fat people and snoring lions.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Painting the Town Extremely Red

My last post touched briefly on my exploits when out in Manchester with friends applying red paint liberally to the city centre.

And it got me thinking about how much this has changed over the years.

I thought I would present for your fun and enjoyment, dear reader, an account of the first time I had a tussle with alcohol while attempting to paint the town red.

If you are squeamish, stop reading now.

For the rest of you ...

My tussle with alcohol was hardly a fair fight - I lost!


Let this be a lesson to you if you are young and foolish as I was then.

Back in 1980 I was an eighteen year old spotty kid with long, bushy and unmanageable hair who was discovering for the first time that it was possible to venture out and, with the aid of alcohol, have a wonderful night of laughter and drunken debauchery.

I had sampled the delights of alcohol briefly and at that age I really didn’t like beer at all.

Despite this, I succumbed to peer pressure and along came that fateful day when I first got really, really drunk.

At the time, I was in my second year in the sixth form at school, preparing for university but my best mate at the time had left a year or so earlier and joined a building company.

To protect his identity I shall simply call him S.

Unfortunately for S, his job only lasted a year before he was made redundant with a few other mates, some of whom were in their early twenties. They decided to drown their sorrows with a pub crawl around Walsall town centre and I was invited along.

I had only ever had a couple of beers and I reasoned, foolishly in hindsight, that drinking was easy and it would be fun.

We started at 7 o’clock and aimed to move around the numerous pubs drinking half a pint in each. Because I hated beer, one of the lads suggested I try lager and lime. It was quite pleasant and I thought that this would become my drink of choice.

We visited pub after pub and the more I drank the happier I became. I started chatting to complete strangers as my inhibitions were washed away in a tsunami of alcohol. I even recall kissing a girl at one stage to raucous cheers from the lads I was with.

I loved it and the fuzzy haze that was beginning to descend made me feel even better.

I was brave.

I was adorable.

I was loved by everybody.

I could conquer the world.

I was absolutely totally and utterly rat-arsed.

As you can imagine the inevitable happened. I recalled being in a certain pub at a certain time and then my mind went blank. It was as if God himself had erased part of my mind. One minute I was in a pub, the next I was in Hell.

I thought I was dying.

With the help of S, my irate mother and my irritated father, I was able to piece together the events of the previous evening.

S and I had walked home and at some point I had fallen over in a pile of mud – the evidence was there in front of me. My jeans were caked in filth and my shirt that had started the evening light blue had become a dirty brown.

I had arrived home and walked into the house where apparently I had said “Hi Mum, I’m off to bed.” Except it hadn’t translated that way – it came out as a drunken vocal splurge and my mum chose that moment to severely bollock me, an act that proved to be a catalyst to the inevitable consequence of drinking far too much.

My next words were “I feel sick!”

She understood that sentence and as I collapsed onto the floor she found a bucket and put my head in it – not one second too soon.

Ten minutes of puking later, my dad arrived home and saw my mum emptying the contents of the bucket down the toilet and cursing me with all of her venomous might.

My dad then made a fatal mistake. He uttered the words that would haunt him for the next 24 hours.

He said “That’s my boy,” and laughed as he carried me to bed.

My mum exploded in rage and had so much to distribute that she shared it equally between my father and me.

She was livid and sleep didn’t subdue the erupting volcano within her.

Next day she screamed at me from the moment I opened my eyes.

My head was pounding so much that I thought it was going to explode. I spent the entire morning retching over the toilet.

The phrase “Calling God on the great white telephone” had never been more apt.

My stomach was empty, yet I continued to puke air – this was a new and hellish experience for me and my stomach was in agony. My throat burned with fury and my headache was so bad that I thought my brain was trying to break out of my skull.

To make matters far worse, my mum continued to vent her spleen. There is nothing worse than being screamed at by an irate woman when you have hangover so evil that Satan himself would shy away from it.

I wasn’t the only target of her wrath. My poor innocent father was verbally ripped apart for laughing and uttering his ill-chosen words. He was a laid back guy but even he started shouting at me as he buckled under the onslaught.

“Look what you’ve done. You come home pissed and it’s ME who has to suffer.”

“But Dad – I’m dying here – and she’s screaming at me too.”

“I have NO sympathy!”

I stayed in bed being plied with water by my angry mum for the rest of the day and only surfaced in the evening. Thankfully, by this stage my mum had decided that she wasn’t going to speak to me any more (which was a major bonus).

My dad glared at me – because she hadn’t stopped haranguing him.

“It’s YOUR fault,” she hissed. “If you didn’t drink then he wouldn’t be copying you.”

I sat in silence, nursing a pint of water and struggling to eat some toast.

If you think my tale of woe is bad, you should hear what happened to S. Actually, allow me to tell you. His story is far worse than mine.

I heard about his exploits from his younger brother who laughed so much that he nearly had an accident.

S had arrived home, giggling like a baby. Unlike me, he had vague recollection of what had happened on the way home. We had decided in our drunken wisdom to take a short cut across a building site that was so far away from the street that it was absolutely pitch black.

I had been barely able to stand up let alone walk and soon the inevitable happened; I fell into a filthy and very muddy puddle.

The scary thing is that I honestly do not remember this at all.

When S arrived home, still laughing at my expense, his parents were alerted by what they thought was a maniac. They were convinced that a hellhound had arrived on their doorstep and was trying to break down the door. S could not manage to get his key in the door. His dad opened the door and S collapsed inside the house still laughing while trying to tell his parents about my fall. His words made no sense and eventually his irate father carried him upstairs and put him into bed where he fell asleep.

Mother Nature decided that she had to be cruel to be kind and the inevitable tsunami of vomit announced to S that he needed to get to his own great white telephone in the bathroom as quickly as possible. Sadly, he only made it as far as the window, which he somehow managed to open before chundering into the back garden all over his mother’s prized flower beds.

To make matters worse, he then decided to go to the toilet to relieve himself and somehow managed to stumble into his brother’s bedroom where he chose to urinate all over the floor.

His brother woke up and screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”, waking up his parents in the process. They rushed into the room, switched the light on and saw S standing in a puddle of urine with vomit dribbling down his chin and still holding his todger.

Needless to say, I didn’t see S for two days; neither of us felt well enough to hang out.

I very nearly became tee-total after that. I went to the pub with S and other mates a week or two late and they howled with laughter as they heard our stories.

I drank coke for six months before I plucked up the courage to try lager and lime once more.

I have been drunk since then (obviously) but that first time sticks in my memory because it was so painful.

I have learned my lesson, albeit slowly but have never since been in a situation where I cannot remember getting home. There have always been flashes of memory and the beer scooter has always been there for me.

I often wonder what would have happened had I become teetotal. I have encountered many people who don’t drink because of incidents with alcohol and based on that first experience I can’t say that I blame them.

Common sense now prevails and apart from a few lapses in judgement I tend not to go overboard any more.

Besides, at my age, even the mildest hangovers last for days and it takes a relatively small quantity to spark one into existence.

Added to that I simply cannot take the pain any more.

What a sorry old git I am.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Rockworld Manchester

In April 2010, the city of Manchester lost a piece of its musical soul. Jilly’s Rockworld (aka simply Rockworld), a nightclub that specialised in alternative music, closed its doors for the final time.

When I heard about this I simply didn’t believe it. Regrettably, the rumours were true and I am deeply saddened by this travesty.

When I first moved to Manchester in 1984 at the tender age of 22, I was keen to explore the city and sample all aspects of Mancunian life. I found myself in the same situation as other young professionals moving to the city for the first time and in order to become acquainted with the place, we found ourselves venturing into the city at weekends to appraise the nightlife.

Manchester has always been a thriving city and after the pubs closed there was always a fair choice of venues to carry on the festivities. Unfortunately, most of these places were traditional nightclubs with bouncers who wouldn’t let you in the place unless you were dressed in smart clothes with shoes, trousers and a shirt. Jeans, trainers and T-shirts were outlawed and the wearers of such garments were treated as pariahs; people like me had to dress up and pay a small fortune to enter these establishments only to discover that the music they played was absolute rubbish.

I was lost in a desert of bland, boring and banal music.

I was a young man who loved rock music, heavy metal and alternatives to the monotonous drivel that was infecting the spirits of people my age. In the 80’s, I considered the youth of that day to be sheep, following the rest of the flock and listening to chart music that was peddled by idiotic radio DJ’s who used words like “fashion” to entice others to buy the drivel on their playlists.

I rebelled and chose to move away from the bilge that they tried to force me to consume. The problem was, there was no outlet for my insurrection on a Saturday night.

I was forced to become a sheep for the night, wearing the conventional uniform that other partygoers wore. Bouncers were like regulators, making sure that everyone conformed to the rules laid down by peddlers of shit music. I entered nightclubs and drank to relieve the pain and numb my senses to the same old crap that the majority of sheep followed blindly.

There was no hope – only despair.

And then I discovered a shining beacon; an oasis of wonder in a desert of despondency.

On Oxford Road stood Rockworld – an alternative nightclub that spat in the face of convention, gave a wedgie to Mr Stock, Mr Aitken and Mr Waterman before hurling them into the gutter with all the other destroyers of modern music.

I had found a sanctuary - a place where rock guitars shattered the night, sticking two fingers up to Radio One and the establishment that tried to brainwash youth.

I had found hope.

With other like-minded friends, we planned a night out in this temple of rock.

“What should we wear?” I asked naively.

I needn’t have worried. The only thing that you couldn’t wear was the established uniform of the drones who sought mind-numbing dance music. Ties were taboo, shirts and trousers were beneath contempt. Denim, leather, and any alternative uniform were actively encouraged.
Even better, the bouncers on the doors of Rockworld actually refused entry to anybody who was dressed up for a night out with the sheep in a dance club. I remember laughing a mate of mine who was turned away for wearing the uniform of the dance club sheep.

"You're overdressed," said the bouncer, turning convention its head. He had to go home and I had no sympathy for him at all.

I loved Rockworld, from the moment I passed through the doors on that first night and heard an Ozzy Osbourne record played loudly to a dance floor full of adoring head bangers. I had found salvation. I was home.

Rockworld didn’t just play heavy metal; if it was taboo then it would be played. Lovers of heavy metal rubbed shoulders with Goths and punks. There were several rooms that played different genres; somebody like me who enjoyed classic rock could venture into a room and listen to Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. If I fancied something a bit more cutting edge I could stroll into the main room, where they played a variety of styles and listen to Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica and various other artists. A third room offered more alternatives such as Sisters of Mercy. If you liked alternative music the chances are that you would love the diversity of Rockworld.

In fact, that diversity made Rockworld more than just a venue for enjoying cool music; it actively encouraged people to dress to express.

Long haired heavy metal head bangers wearing leather trousers and black T-shirts would stand next to punk rockers with wildly coloured mohican hair and Goths wearing dog collars and painted white faces. There were pierced people, perforated with pins in the most unlikely places and caring not one jot what others thought of them.

It was a fascinating place and if you liked people watching then you were in paradise.

I have nothing but great memories of the place – well when I say “memories” I mean hazy recollections of incidents as seen through bleary eyes caused by a little too much alcohol. You see, the only times I ever visited the place were after I had been to a rock gig or when out for a night painting Manchester a deep shade of crimson with like-minded friends.

On that very first trip way back in the 80’s, I was awe-struck by the place, so much so, that I sat at a table watching the bizarre people who were enjoying the fantastic music. I had never seen anything like it. Goths walked past, chatting and drinking as if looking like a dead person was completely normal.

I was dressed in a concert T-shirt and scruffy jeans, sitting proudly in my legendary leather jacket. I was clutching a pint of beer and struggling to stop the room from spinning around. My mates were all on the dance floor moving haphazardly to the driving rock music.

A woman sat next to me. I almost dropped my pint. She was dressed in a white and very tight dress that left very little to the imagination and thigh high leather boots completed a dream image. Her hair was jet black and her eyes were so vividly made up that I could barely take my own eyes off them.

“Are you on your own?” she asked.

“Glerg blugruth splurge,” I said, before rediscovering where my tongue was.

“Sorry about that,” I clarified. “No – my mates are trying to dance over there.”

“That’s not what I meant,” she repeated. “Are you actually WITH anybody?”

I couldn’t believe it. I was being chatted up by a gorgeous rock-loving temptress. I think at this point I gurgled again.

“It’s just that my mate over there REALLY fancies you," she added.

“Over where?” I said straining my eyes in the direction she was pointing. The place was so smokey that I could barely make out the dance floor.

And then my conscience emerged from my alcohol-fuelled haze and informed me that I was married. My ego was wildly inflated but I did the right thing and let her down.

“I’m really sorry, but I am married," I said proudly.

“Oh,” she said, looking disappointed herself. “That’s a real shame. He’s really good in bed.”

“What?” I asked. “Did you say HE?”

“Yes – my friend over there.”

And then I saw him – a tall leather clad Goth guy, waving at me.

That was a shock but it didn’t put me off the place. Rockworld was full of people who refused to conform.

One time, I persuaded Mrs PM to visit the place. This was in the honeymoon period of our blossoming relationship in the late 90’s when we were pushed aside our intolerance of each other’s musical tastes.

Mrs PM wore jeans, a tight T-shirt and boots. She looked fabulous. However, she was unprepared for the sight of an older couple who were oblivious to their surroundings.

The guy was in his fifties with long black hair streaked with grey cascading down his back. He was receding badly and had no hair on his crown at all. He was a drinker – his enormous beer gut gave that away. He wore a black leather jacket and tight jeans. His cavernous belly hung over his belt.

His woman was in her fifties too but she was a Goth. Her hair was jet black and her clothes matched her hair. Her face gave her age away and her bounteous bosom was surpassed only by her own gut that hinted to an equal love of beer. The two were drinking Newcastle Brown Ale, which was a favourite tipple in Rockworld.

They were a bizarre couple, make no mistake, and Mrs PM stared at them in disbelief. And just as she was about to scream her comments in my ear above the loud heavy metal music, the couple shocked her one last time. They embraced in a massive snog that you only normally see in people in their twenties. And they really went for it, hugging each other with such ferocity that I thought they were going to burst. It was mesmerising in a weird kind of way and I smiled because that one act of passion illustrated exactly what Rockworld was – a place where people didn’t care about their appearence or their behaviour.

Mrs PM was appalled and yelled something incomprehensible to me before walking away in disgust. She still talks about them today.

Every night club has a dance floor and Rockworld is no exception. I have danced to my favourite music, completely oblivious to the opinions of others. Where else could I have danced to Nine Inch Nails and Deep Purple?

I have stood opposite stunning long haired and beautiful women, swinging their luscious locks around, wafting my face. I have played air guitar to numerous rock songs, along with other head bangers who stepped out of reality for the duration of these songs to become Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett, Ritchie Blackmore or Angus Young.

One friend of mine, was so drunk one night that he was falling asleep slumped in his chair. I asked him if he was alright when a Metallica song exploded out of the speakers. He loved Metallica and leapt up almost knocking me out of the way to get to the dance floor. As he danced to the song, it became clear that the mind was willing but the flesh was weak.

He slowly but surely backed up against the wall as he danced.

And then he leaned against the wall.

And then he closed his eyes.

And then he fell asleep.

To this day he is the only person I have ever met who has managed to fall asleep while dancing.

The staff were equally rebellious. Of course, it was their duty to look after us all, serve drinks, play music etc. but that didn’t stop them from expressing themselves. In many cases the bar staff dressed more outrageously than the punters. I still vividly recall one guy who had a metal moustache. He had pierced his entire upper lip about fifteen times and meticulously inserted a stud in each hole. He looked amazing.

Rockworld also had its legendary “Friday Night All-Nighter” where you could party until 7am. I never managed to stay later than 2am sadly.

As well as being a night club, Rockworld also held concerts. I managed to get to see four gigs there.

I saw a band called Dare in the 80’s, a melodic rock band fronted by Thin Lizzy’s Darren Wharton. The place was so cosy that it was the only gig I’ve ever been to where I have stood on the front row not more than a foot away from the band; I even shook hands with Darren Wharton as he was singing.

I also saw Ten, a local Manchester band who I love but have only ever been famous in Japan. It is a travesty but alas that is the case. It is the only time I have seen them live.

Another mate persuaded me to see a metal band called 3 Inches of Blood where they sang about swords and crusades and fighting. It was weird but different.

And finally I saw a band called Slunt, fronted by a wonderfully sexy female lead singer.

Unfortunately, as I got older, my ability to stay up, drink and dance the night away faded. My last really big party night at Rockworld occurred in the last century (apart from two of the gigs above), although I did revisit Rockworld sometime after 2000 for a brief nostalgia trip. I stood in the classic rock room and watched young people dancing to old favourites and nodded my head in approval as I gently sipped a pint of bitter. I left at around 12:30 am and only returned for a gig.

Had I known that Rockworld was in danger of closing I might have been persuaded to dig out my old leather jacket for one last night to celebrate the joy of Rockworld. Alas, it shall never be.

The good news is that Rockworld’s legacy lives on and there are other places that spit in the eye of convention.

I shall leave you with a couple of songs by the bands I have seen at Rockworld. They sure bring back memories.

Dare – We Don’t Need A Reason

Ten – The Name Of The Rose

Slunt – The Best Thing

Saturday 4 September 2010

The Majorly Personal Meme

I thought I would have a go at another Sunday Stealing meme and, as usual, I stumbled into a three part monster.


Nevertheless, I am determined to have a go at it so here for your enjoyment is the entire Majority Personal Meme.

Wish me luck!

1. Are you happier now than you were five months ago?

I reckon I am about the same. I am genuinely happy at the moment and have been for a while now - though I could be happier I suppose if I won the lottery.

2. Have you ever slept in the same bed with anyone that you shouldn't have?

Cripes - yes. But I'm not going to go into any more detail about it.

3. Can you sleep in total darkness?

Absolutely - in fact it's the only time I can sleep. I am a very light sleeper and if there is any light of any kind I ping awake. It's a right pain in the arse.

4. Your phone is ringing. It’s the person you fell hardest for, the one who got away, what do you say?

Why the bloody hell did you humiliate me in front of all my friends? Why did you plunge your hand into my chest and tear my heart apart? OK - I realise it was about thirty years ago so - I forgive you. Never ring me again.

5. What do you think about the weather this summer?

As is typical in England, May and June were quite pleasant but July and August were a disappointing - rainy and miserable. September has started off nicely though. It was 22 degrees today.

6. How many people do you trust with everything?

Not many to be honest.

7. What was the last thing you drank?

I am currently drinking a cup of coffee, so I guess that's the answer.

8. Is there anyone you want to come see you?

Megan Fox? No - Mrs PM would kill me.

9. Name one thing you love about winter?

Apart from the end of it, I would have to say Christmas.

10. Have you ever dated a Goth?

No but I would have loved to have done so. Our musical tastes would have matched almost perfectly.

11. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

I'm looking forward to a lie in (it's Sunday) and, if the weather is pleasant, a walk in the sunshine.

12. Name something you dislike about the day you’re having?

Nothing - I'm having a pretty good day to be honest. I am typing this meme on my brand new desktop computer that I have paistakingly set up today. I am such a geek.

13. What's the longest that you have committed to one person and one person only?

I would have to say Mrs PM - we are into our twelfth year together, surpassing my previous relationship with W, my ex wife.

14. What’s the first thing you did when you opened your eyes today?

Closed them again.

15. Has anyone ever told you they never want to ever lose you?

Yes - Mrs PM has uttered those words on several occasions.

16. Is there anybody that you wish you could fix your relationship with?

Not really. Everybody I want to have a relationship with gets on with me fine.

17. Could you go out in public, looking like you do now?

Absolutely - although my hair is a bit of a mess at the moment. It is in that weird state when it is just a little too long and is exploding on my head. I need a lorry load of gunk to calm it down. But I'm used to it.

18. Do you think things will change in the next 3 months? How?

I will be 48 in October - but apart from that I don't think so.

19. Do you believe that you never know what you got until you lose it?

I think I do to be fair.

20. Do you have a friend of the opposite sex you can talk to?

I have several friends of the opposite sex I can talk to.

21. If you were to live your life without your best friend, what would change?

I would almost certainly find a new best friend.

22. Tell us about a era of your life that you really miss.

I loved my time at university: it was such an exciting time for me, relishing freedom for the first time. I had such a wonderful social life and the only worries were exams (which I could have done without). It was my first real taste of life and I was utterly free from the dreadful rat race that I am desperate to escape from.

23. Have you ever been betrayed by someone that came as a complete surprise? Without revealing the person, if yes, tell us about it.

Yes but I can't tell you about it without you being able to guess who it is.

24. Do you ever think that is a good idea to hide your feelings?

Absolutely, though I find it difficult as I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can do it if the circumstances demand it.

25. Tell us about your favorite year when you were a student.

My third year at university was magnificent. As I said above I had a fabulous time, acquired a woman crazy enough to go out with me and managed to come out of it with a degree.

25. When was the last time you were in a very good mood? What caused it?

I guess that would be earlier today when I was setting up my new desktop. I am a sad geek as I said above.

26. Have you ever had a romantic relationship with a sibling of a good friend?

I tried once when I was a kid. She simply wasn't interested in me though.

27. Tell us about the last thing that you did that you truly regret.

I can't remember to be perfectly honest - probably having that extra beer last night.

28. When did you laughed today?

I watched "Would I Lie To You?" this morning over breakfast (recorded from last night) and that was amusing enough to make me chuckle.

29. Do you trust easily?

Not unless it is somebody I know well. I certainly don't trust strangers or anybody who claims to offer something that I can't refuse.

30. What do you care about that you wish more people would?

There is too much injustice in the world. It seems to me that the planet is run by people who shout the loudest and demand that everybody follows their lead, even though in the majority of cases these people are incompetent buffoons or power hungry arseholes.

31. Is it easier for you to go without food or go without sleep?

For me it is easier to go without sleep.

32. What non-alcohol beverage do you enjoy drinking the most?

That's difficult but I reckon that it has to be a lovely cup of tea.

33. When you walk into a room full of strangers, generally how is your confidence?

If you had asked me this twenty years ago I would have said that my confidence was extremely low and I would just stood in a corner praying that somebody took pity on me and started chatting. Nowadays, my confidence is a lot higher and I can talk to people a lot more easily.

34. Does talking about sex with anyone but your lover make you uncomfortable?

Totally. As I have said before, when others start talking about sex I become extremely embarrassed - unless it is banter with a few mates. Certainly when women start talking about sex, I just want to leave.

35. Do you tend to believe members of the opposite sex mostly behave the same way?

Not at all. Men are predictable and women are totally the opposite. I simply do not understand women.

36. Did you drink any alcohol this week? If yes, what?

Yes - I was out with Mrs PM and a couple of friends last night, drinking Deuchars IPA.

37. Would you ever consider being a vegetarian?

No - I love meat too much. What's more, I hate vegetarians who claim that "Meat is Murder" and try to shame me into eating stuffed peppers. It's my life - I will choose to eat what I want - even if it is a lamb.

38. Do you believe that there’s always room in your heart for someone?

Why not? Mrs PM owns my heart but others rent the place too.

39. Do you believe in the concept of soul mates?

Absolutely. Mrs PM is my soul mate.

40. Last week, we had a few players criticize our victim’s question. Which is fine to do and we value your opinion. Would you ever consider writing questions for Bud and me to post on a Sunday Stealing?

Yes - would that me a victim of theft when Bud stole it?

41. What are your plans for this weekend?

It's almost over!

42. Do you think someone might be thinking poorly about you? Why might that be?

I would imagine so - I'm not perfect by any means. I would guess that people want to be in my company but I can't please everyone.

42. What features don't you have that you would like on your cell?

I have a crappy old mobile phone and I want an HTC Desire - so that will be changing in the next couple of months. Anything on that particular model would be a bonus - because mine is so archaic that cavemen could probably use it.

43. How many people can comfortably sleep in your bed?

Two people and two cats.

44. What are you hoping happens by the end of 2010?

I hope that I win the lottery or somebody pays me megabucks to write a novel.

45. What was the last video you watched on YouTube?

I watched a high definition trailer this afternoon to see how much better my new desktop is than my old one. I was pelasantly surprised.

46. Would you ever agree to an open relationship with someone?

No! I don't believe in them.

47. Is there something that you could never give up?

Beer, music and football. And reading a good book.

48. Would you, (or did you) prefer a small, intimate wedding reception, or a big-scale, over-the-top reception?

My wedding was huge and cost a fortune. It was good but so tiring. If I were to marry Mrs PM I would prefer a much smaller reception with family and close friends.

49. What’s bothering you right now?


50. Do you hate anyone?

No! I moan about a lot of people but I wouldn't say that I hate anybody.

51. What were you doing at 12 am last night?

Wobbling upstairs to bed with a pint of water.

52. Was this summer a good one? How warm was it where you live?

Deja vu? It was mixed. Highs were about 25 degrees centigrade (though it may have crept up a little).

52. Is the last person you kissed before your current situation mad at you?

No. Why would she be?

53. Can a man and woman be friends without having feelings for each other?

Absolutely. I have several female friends and my feelings are plutonic. Besides, none of them would touch me with a barge pole.

54. Do you think long distance relationships work? If you’ve had one, tell us about it.

They can do but they are difficult. My early relationship with W was a long distance one and we almost split up. In the end we chatted about it and W agreed to move.

55. Do you know why it’s called “Random Boredom“?


56. Do you thing that it’s always the man’s responsibility to initiate sex?

Not at all. It's nice when a woman fancies it.

57. Have you ever made love while you were in the same room with another couple?

How embarrassing would that be?

58. Tell us the best thing about your current or most recent S/O.

By S/O I assume you mean "significant other". If not then my answer will be embarrassing. The best thing about Mrs PM is that despite my flaws she still loves me and she makes me very happy.

59. Tell us the worst thing about your current or most recent S/O.

That's easy - her taste in music is utterly dreadful.

60. Would you write one question in today’s comments so that we could have our followers allow us to steal their questions? We’ll need at least 15.

If you could write a novel, what would it be about?

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Female Fashion (And Other Impossible Subjects)

I want to return to a favourite topic of mine: women.

Regular readers will know that I love women; I love watching them and talking to them. They fascinate me with their beauty, personality and charm.

My problem is that I simply do not understand them. The women in my life have tried to explain to me how their minds work but, just as I think I have grasped the mechanism that makes them tick, they astound me with behaviour that contradicts everything I thought I had learned.

If you didn’t already know, dear reader, I am forty seven years old and I STILL cannot fathom the machinations of the female psyche.

I would like to discuss an imponderable topic in the world of women: fashion.

I am a man and I know what I like when it comes to women. Physical appearance is important but I am also very fond of intelligent, strong and funny women. Most men are the same. Men are initially attracted to the looks but will only form a lasting relationship if she has intelligence and depth.

I couldn’t, for example, fall for a woman who looked like Megan Fox if she had the IQ of a dung beetle.

Yet sometimes, even the most intelligent women on the planet can fall foul of expectations driven by fashion and beauty magazines. I don’t understand it. I have overheard beautiful women chatting about their problems in this area and my perception is that their IQ drops several points when discussing clothes, makeup and the shape and size of their bodies.

Now that may sound chauvinistic and insulting but that’s the way it appears to me.

Am I wrong?

It’s as if some women simply switch off part of their brains when it comes to decisions in this area and sometimes make terrible choices based on their assessment of what men want, what other women want and what the fashion and beauty industry tells them they ought to want.

To balance things out, men are equally guilty of switching off their brains and allowing their penis to take control of their bodies but that it something for another post.

Women love buying clothes. As a man, I only buy clothes when the rags I am wearing have so many holes that I appear naked when viewed from a distance. Mrs PM steps in way before that happens thankfully, otherwise Manchester would be a city in turmoil: I would become the Mancunian equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster.

There are several things that puzzle me when it comes to female clothing.

Firstly, can somebody explain to me what is going on when it comes to sizes?

When I go into a shop to buy a pair of trousers, I have a rough idea of the size of my waist (34 inches), the size of my leg (30 or 31 inches) and can stroll over to the trouser rack and be pretty sure that the 34 inch regular length trousers will fit me. Similarly, I can stroll to the shirts and deduce that the 16 inch collared shirts will not strangle me and that the 38 inch chest jacket will almost certainly be a perfect fit.

Women have a major problem in this area. They have to go for a size 8,10,12,14,16,18,20 in absolutely every item they want with the exception of shoes.

What the hell is a “size 12”?

12 what exactly?

Inches? Feet? Broom handles? Elephants?

You may mock those latter two units of size but some of the variations in items of clothing vary so much from shop to shop that a size 12 in one shop may be tiny enough to fit a baby chimpanzee while in another shop a size 12 could accommodate a rhinoceros.

What is going on? Can somebody explain this to me?

Correct me if I am wrong but most human beings are completely different shapes and sizes. Thankfully men do not wear all in one outfits like dresses (although some do I suppose). Women are different shapes both at the top half of their bodies and the lower regions.

So how can a dress be a size 12?

This is a constant source of frustration for Mrs PM, for example, and she is definitely not alone.

She can, say, fit into a size 14 top and a size 12 skirt but struggles with dresses because the size 12 may suffocate her while the size 14 can look like a Bedouin tent. I’ve known her to try on a size 14 dress and then beg for me to call search and rescue because she can’t find her way out of it.

I can only surmise that the sizing scale for women’s clothes was conceived by a sadistic madman who did so for a drunken bet.

Fashion magazines haven’t helped matters. I think that shops vary their sizes to make women believe that they are smaller than they are in order to appeal to their vanity or perception of how others see them. A large lady will be delighted if she can go to a shop and squeeze into a size 14 and I imagine will boast to her friends that she is slim enough to do so, even though in that particular shop, a size 14 would fit a horse.

I cannot think of a reason why a shop would design a size 14 that would barely fit a stick insect – perhaps somebody can enlighten me.

One thing is for sure, from my experience of shopping with both W and Mrs PM, the clothes for women that are on sale in your average shopping centre are designed for women who appear only in fashion magazines, i.e. are average height and are built like scarecrows.

All of which leads me nicely on to my next topic – the portrayal of women in fashion magazines and similar female oriented rags.

Quite frankly I am astounded. Lots of models for these magazines are very pretty but, and let’s be fair to them here, are thinner than my garden rake. And these women are portrayed as the quintessential image of womankind and therefore a target for young impressionable women and girls. I have seen pictures of women who look as if they do not eat and impressionable girls are led to believe that all women should look like this.

I have read about the “quest for size zero”, which I believe is encouraging women to diet beyond the realms that nature intended in order to become the perfect woman.

However, I have a revelation for you: it is utter bollocks and complete horseshit.

I have a message for any ladies out there who strive for size zero under the misguided belief that men (or indeed other sensible women) may find them attractive:

Don’t do it! Be yourself!

Obviously, don't eat so much that you resemble a beached whale. You can still be curvy and attractive without having to pander to the requirements of fashion gurus.

Most men prefer women who are sizes 12 to 16. I love cuddling a woman who, as my dad used to say, “has a bit of meat on her”.

Take Beyoncé for example. I believe she is a size 12 (UK size that is) and she looks fabulous. She is curvy in all the right places.

Louise Redknapp attempted to diet to fit herself into a size zero dress as part of an investigative documentary. Here are the before and after photos. I know which I prefer.

There is a lot of pressure on women and it comes from the cult of celebrity and fashion media and quite frankly it stinks. I am beginning to understand why it is so difficult for women to shop for clothes and also why they have so much difficulty trying to fit the image the faceless so-called gurus and self-obsessed arseholes try to force them into.

My advice, for what it is worth, is to adopt the mantra that I and most normal men live by: be yourself and be normal.

I don’t care too much about my appearance (that much is obvious)!

The only thing that irritates me is my hair (but only because people laugh at it). I strive to be a normal bloke, wearing clothes that I like (not those that fashion gurus tell me I should wear) and I try to maintain an average shaped body. Yes, my stomach is expanding and yes, my body looks nothing like that of Brad Pitt. But I am not a freak (despite my self-deprecating posts saying otherwise). I eat a balanced diet but I don't feel bad about eating chocolate and crisps (although I don't eat them to excess).

I could have spent hours at the gym trying to sculpt my body into the shape of Arnold Schwarzenengger but it would have been pointless. My life wouldn’t have improved and I would have ended up a fat bloater by now.

Women should not strive to be as thin as a rake – adopt the middle ground. Don’t overeat and become too fat but equally don't starve yourself – just be who you are. Men love a cuddle but they don’t like to hug a bag of sticks made of skin.

Crikey – I’m beginning to sound like an agony aunt aren’t I?

I apologise for that – I can only give you the benefit of my thoughts, opinions and desires.

As for the actual clothes that women buy – I simply cannot have an opinion other than it should show off all the greatest assets of the woman’s body.

However, I have one more question: why would a woman wear a skirt?

I am not complaining because a woman with fantastic legs can send my pulse racing like a formula one racing car on speed – and that’s probably why they do it – well not for me personally (I think most women would prefer to cover themselves up in a suit of armour when faced by the prospect of meeting me).

The weather in Great Britain is nothing if not unpredictable and towards the end of September the temperatures plummet. Yet you can guarantee that there will be young women wandering around wearing short skirts exposing their legs to the bitterly cold winds.

In winter, I am very pleased that I wear thick jeans to protect my legs from the cold. Yet what do even sensible women wear? Skirts with only tights for protection against the elements.

And then they complain about being cold.


Am I missing something here?

I’m sure that there are guys who wear skirts – David Beckham famously popped out in a sarong but he was probably enjoying life in a warm place like Madrid or Los Angeles. Also, he is so famous that he could get away with anything (and frequently does).

Of course, there are my fellow island-dwellers, the Scots, who claim to be so hard that they wear big woolly skirts (or as they prefer to call them “kilts”), sporting absolutely nothing underneath the protect their tallywhackers.

No wonder they like the term “Braveheart”. You’d have to be brave to wear a bloody kilt, especially in the middle of a Scottish winter.

Anyway, I’d better stop now before Mad Jack McMad crosses the border to kick seven shades of crap out of me.

I might try interviewing Mrs PM to see if she can shed any light on women and fashion. On second thoughts, perhaps not – she might drag me out shopping illustrate her answers.