Wednesday 27 April 2011

Another Royal Wedding

My beloved country has gone mad.

The rest of the world probably regards Britain as a bit of a weird place most of the time but for the past few weeks the eccentricity has reached new heights.

Why? It’s all because a man and a woman are getting married on Friday.

It’s not just ANY man or woman though; the couple in question are Prince William and Kate Middleton. 

They are driving me insane. That’s not quite true – the media are driving me insane.

 Every time I switch on the TV there is a reference to “Will and Kate”. The news is full of it.

“And now the latest on the wedding of the century!”

Allow me to just have a spontaneous micro-rant.


To me, the royal family are just one of many eccentric families in the British Isles. The only difference is that these guys are always on the news. It’s like most people are high on drugs. The entire country has gone bananas.

“What will she wear?”

“Who will be there?”

“Isn’t she beautiful?”

What they SHOULD be asking is:

“Will Prince Harry embarrass himself?”

“How many people will Prince Phillip offend?”

“Does anybody really care?”

I am an old cynic and I’ve seen this all before. Royalists in my country want to spend every second of the day absorbing every single trivial detail about the wedding. Even TV channels that have nothing to do with the news are cashing in on it.

I was flicking channels the other night and at least three music channels had used the wedding as an excuse to play all sorts of romantic drivel. I swear I am not making this up. We had:

“Kate’s Top 50 Hen Night Songs”

“Will and Kate: A Romantic Countdown”

It’s crazy. It’s as if everybody has taken their brains out.

I am totally neutral when it comes to royalty. I don’t love them and I don’t hate them. If the Queen were to come to Manchester I wouldn’t go out of my way to wave to her but I if she was passing I would say "Hello".

The problem is that the wedding coverage in this country is turning me against them. Sure, it is a reason for some to become excessively patriotic and run around the streets waving Union Jacks while wearing Union Jack shorts, Union Jack shirts and Union Jack underpants – and I’m happy for other people to do that.

I just don’t want to do it myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my country but, to be honest, I don’t know why so many people are getting worked up and excited. Just because I am not jumping around like a mad fool doesn’t mean that I am not patriotic.

I’ve seen it all before and that’s why I am cynical about it. Let’s face it; most of the last few royal weddings have ended up as total disasters.

Rewind to 1981 when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer.

It was lovely; it was romantic; it was gorgeous; they kissed; they loved each other more than any other couple had ever loved each other ever.

Look at what happened: bitterness and divorce.

Almost inevitably, this wedding is being compared to Charles and Diana’s wedding and Kate is being hailed as the new People’s Princess.

Poor Kate.

Let’s just hope for both their sakes that it doesn’t end up the same way.

And it’s not just Britain that’s going bonkers. Apparently coverage in America will rival our own. I’ve seen interviews with loads of American tourists (on the news of course) who are wetting themselves about it all.

“We don’t have a princess back home. This is every young girl’s dream.”

Thankfully (hopefully) times have changed in Britain so I won’t be hauled over the coals for daring to be cynical about Prince William and Kate’s big day. In days gone by I might have suffered extreme medieval torture for writing a post about the royal wedding that wasn’t full of sugary syrup and praise for the monarchy.

Can you imagine what Henry VIII might have said if I had posted:

Well the fat old loon is at it again. This time the dirty old goat is marrying a young girl. How many is that, Henry? Five? I’m losing count. I wonder whether she’ll lose her head?

My arse would have been hauled to the Tower of London faster than you could say “anarchist”.

Anyway, that’s enough moaning. I will end on a positive note.

I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton all the very best on their wedding day and I am happy for them both. I think Kate Middleton is a lovely woman and William is a very lucky man.

However, I regret to inform you both that I will not be watching the wedding on TV and I will do my very best to avoid any coverage whatsoever. Having said that I realise that at some point during the day I will almost certainly catch some of the media insanity.

And thanks for the day off. It’s a shame I’m on call and can’t get drunk at a street party.

By the way – what happened to my invitation? I assume it was lost in the post.

Monday 25 April 2011

An Interview With Captain Paranoia

Captain Paranoia is perched on my shoulder. He has been listening to the government, watching the news and reading the tabloids. He has agreed to an interview.

Plastic Mancunian: Hello, my evil little nemesis. Please introduce yourself.

Captain Paranoia: I’m Captain Paranoia – the only person who tells you the truth. You know that every word I say is true and that terrifies you. And so it should. Will anybody read this interview? I don’t think so – you usually write total crap.

Plastic Mancunian: Thanks for that. You’ve been watching lots of TV, reading lots of news and listening to the message from our government. How do you feel?

Captain Paranoia: You’re screwed.

Plastic Mancunian: Why?

Captain Paranoia: You’re clearly a moron. You’re sitting here talking to me and eating a cheese sandwich with a can of beer and you have no idea that you are screwed? No wonder everybody hates you.

Plastic Mancunian: What’s wrong with eating a cheese sandwich and drinking beer?

Captain Paranoia: You’re a BINGE drinker. The government says so – and the Daily Mail. And cheese is so bad for you they may as well redefine it as “POISON”.

Plastic Mancunian: Really? What should I be eating then?

Captain Paranoia: I’ve seen your fridge and your cupboards and you’re doomed. You cans of food are so full of E numbers that they may as well be labelled “POISON” too.

Plastic Mancunian: What’s an E number?

Captain Paranoia: Something that will turn you into a mutant. Hang on, you’ve must have eaten loads because you look like a mutant already. Everyone thinks so.

Plastic Mancunian: I’ll go to the shop and buy some more food then. What do you recommend?

Captain Paranoia: Not driving to the shop. You’ll be killing the planet with your oversized carbon footprint. I’ve seen you – travelling to China and other places in an aircraft and ruining the planet for the kids. You don’t care about future generations, do you? You are causing the planet to heat up. It’s all your fault. And that old banger of a car of yours is so bad for the environment it is killing pets every time you drive.

Plastic Mancunian: I’ll walk then.

Captain Paranoia: I wouldn’t do that. You’ll be mugged. Have you seen the crime statistics for this area? You live in one of the worst places in Britain. You may as well walk around with a neon sign saying “Mug me! I’m an idiot.”

Plastic Mancunian: The police will protect me.

Captain Paranoia: Na├»ve as well as stupid, eh? There won’t be any police because of the government cuts. The place will be filled with desperate anarchists, all with one plan – to mug you.

Plastic Mancunian: Well if it’s that bad, I’d better take protection.

Captain Paranoia: And then get arrested and jailed for assault no doubt. That’s if you don’t end up in hospital, in which case you will probably catch some dreadful virus. Swine flu’s still around, you know. And it’s not an epidemic – it’s a PANDEMIC. It will follow you wherever you go.

Plastic Mancunian: Maybe I should leave Britain – go somewhere else.

Captain Paranoia: You’ll have to fly there. So you clearly don’t care about the environment. Besides, if the bugs don’t get you before you leave the UK, the terrorists will. Or maybe you will be arrested at the airport because you look like a weirdo. Let’s hope so, eh?

Plastic Mancunian: You really don’t like me, do you?

Captain Paranoia: Nobody loves you more than I do and I HATE you. Having said that, I like you enough to tell you how it is, because you are too stupid to read the papers and watch the news. If, by lucky chance, you manage to get on a plane out of England, you will probably end up in a war torn state ruled by an evil dictator.

Plastic Mancunian: Nonsense. Anyway, I want to talk to you about statistics. What do you make of the statistics that we hear on the news?

Captain Paranoia: They prove that you are screwed. D’UH!!!!!

Plastic Mancunian: How?

Captain Paranoia: What a moron. The government is warning you that you are five times more likely to lose all of your teeth if you drink more than four cups of tea a day.

Plastic Mancunian: I drink six cups of tea on a good day.

Captain Paranoia: Then you’ll lose all of your teeth by the time you’re fifty – if you make it that far.

Plastic Mancunian: What are the chances of me losing my teeth if I drink less than four cups of tea a day?

Captain Paranoia: I dunno – maybe 1 in 500,000.

Plastic Mancunian: So if I drink more than four cups, my chances of losing all of my teeth are what? 1 in 100,000?

Captain Paranoia: Not necessarily.

Plastic Mancunian: Surely this is abuse of statistics. The chances of me winning the lottery jackpot are one in 14 million, approximately. They tell me that I can improve my chances of winning by, say, buying ten tickets. “Yes Mr PM. If you buy ten tickets then you are ten times more likely to win the lottery jackpot.” What they DON’T tell me is that I have just spent £10 but my chances of winning the jackpot are still 1 in a million. Of course I could win the other prizes, but that’s not the point. The point is that the government and newspapers mislead us using phrases like “you are 500 times more likely to explode if you drink more than two pints in a day”. The chances of me exploding are infinitesimal, making the chances of me exploding if I drink more than two pints in one go STILL infinitesimal.

Captain Paranoia: You’re talking bollocks as usual.

Plastic Mancunian: Well thanks for that. Can I post the interview on my blog?

Captain Paranoia: Absolutely not! Nobody will read it and if somebody does, by accident, I don’t want to be associated with you. Now bugger off!

Thank goodness I don’t listen to Captain Paranoia.

Don’t believe everything you read in the papers.

Or on this blog.

Ditch Captain Paranoia and make this your mantra.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

The World's Most Difficult Question (Part Two)

Way back in the summer of 2008 I wrote a post about the world’s most difficult question. That question was:

“How do I look in this?”

I answered incorrectly – totally and utterly incorrectly. My answer was so wrong that I still bear the scars. You can read about it here.

There are no questions more difficult than that – or so I thought.

A week or two ago, Mrs PM shocked me with a question that was even worse.

Picture the scene. It is a Friday night and, for once, I am not on call, which means that Mrs PM and I can venture to Didsbury Village for a pint or two. I am relaxed and chatting with her and enjoying watching the other patrons, laughing and unwinding after a week work.

Mrs PM turns to me and asks what has now become the world’s most difficult question.

“What do you think of those three young women over there?”

I thought she was joking.

“What women?” I asked.

“Those three women – DON’T LOOK!

But I did look, dear reader, and saw three young, attractive and very fashionable young ladies, chatting away and looking around at the other people in the pub. One of them looked me straight in the eye and I quickly turned back to Mrs PM who was glaring at me.

“I told you NOT to look.”

“I had to look,” I replied. “I haven’t got eyes in the back of my head you know. And even if I DID have eyes in the back of my head, I wouldn’t be able to see anything through the bloody mop that lives on my skull.”

“Well, now that they KNOW we’re talking about them, you may as well tell me what you think of them,” she replied, refusing to let the subject go.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what she expected me to say.

Was this a test?

I had made matters worse by openly turning around to stare at three young women who would undoubtedly wander over and say:

“What the bloody hell are you staring you dirty old git?”

I swallowed and smiled, waiting for the inevitable tap on the shoulder.

“Well?” said Mrs PM.

“Are they coming over?” I asked.

“Why would they do that?” she asked.

“No reason,” I replied, feeling mildly relieved.

“Anyway, what shall we do tomorrow?” I asked trying to change the subject.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked. “Can’t you answer a simple question?”

“Why do you want to know?” I countered.

“I want to know what you think of the clothes they’re wearing,” she asked. “Do you like them?”

“OOOOOHHHHH!!!!!” I said, feeling slightly relieved. “I thought … er never mind what I thought.”

The bottom line was that Mrs PM was considering buying a couple of items of clothing that the three ladies were wearing and she wanted my opinion, as a man, about whether they would suit her. That in itself is a difficult enough subject to contemplate but much better to negotiate than to comment on the appearance of a woman within ogling distance.

I had once stupidly been savaged by a very angry Mrs PM in a noisy pub for blurting arguably the most stupid and potentially fatal comment that has ever managed to make it from my brain to the outside world.

If I have told you about this before, I apologise. If not, enjoy my stupidity.

We were in another crowded and very noisy pub in Didsbury and I hated it. The music was loud and I could barely hear myself think. What’s more, the music was utterly dreadful.

I HATE IT HERE,” I shouted at Mrs PM as she was chatting with friends. “IT’S TOO NOISY!

I LOVE IT,” she replied – and so did our friends. That’s when it happened. That’s when my brain expelled a totally idiotic thought in the general direction of my loud gob. The beer I had consumed shutdown my mental firewall and let the thought escape – straight into Mrs PM’s ear via my stupid mouth.


WHAT'S THAT?” she replied.


I was dragged out of there before I could say “What’s the matter?” and I spent the next two weeks apologising. My claims of “It was a joke!” fell on deaf ears.

Back to the difficult question about the three women – this time, I managed to survive the incident unscathed. I managed to say the following (with my thoughts in red –thoughts that thankfully I didn’t utter).

“I like the colour coordination of the (shapely) blond and her dress really suits her (curvaceous) figure. The short skirt is possibly a little too short (though she has very nice legs) and the top is nice (but given the size of her chest she should DEFINITELY DEFINITELY show MUCH MORE cleavage). I like the outfit of the third (very, very, very pretty) girl and I think the boots she is wearing make her look taller (and MUCH MUCH sexier).”

I got away with it (unlike the previous difficult question).

I’m getting good at this.

Hang on a minute – Mrs PM reads this blog doesn’t she?

OH SHIT!!!!!!

Saturday 16 April 2011

The 65 Question Meme

It’s been a while since I had a go at a meme from Sunday Stealing so here goes with this week’s effort. Sadly it’s quite a big one. Here goes.

1. Tell us who the last person was that you showered with.

I don’t think I’ve ever showered with another person. What a boring answer.

2. Tell us about your favorite tee-shirt. Extra points if you show a pic. (We know. What can you do with freakin' extra points?)

My current favourite T shirt is an Ozzy Osborne one that I wore when I went to work dressed as Ozzy last year:

I claim my pointless prize.

3. Has anyone ever hit on you even though they knew you were taken?

Women adore me. I am sex on a stick.

No – though I have been chatted up by women who didn’t know I was taken (their guide dog’s liked me).

4. Do you plan what to wear the next day?

I am a man – of course I don’t.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Why?

I am happy because Mrs PM and I will be venturing out to the pub later.

6. What's the closest thing to you that's black?

The laptop I am answering these stupid questions on.

7. Tell me about an interesting dream you remember having.

The last one I recall was weird (as are most of my dreams). I was flying in a spaceship full of vampires, none of whom wanted to convert me. I was most upset.

8. Did you or might you meet anybody new today?

Not yet. But there might be some interesting people in the pub later.

9. If you could be doing anything right now (or perhaps after you finish this ridiculous meme)what would it be?

I am quite happy watching Manchester City v Manchester United on the TV.

10. Do you floss?

On my last visit to the dentist, I was severely bollocked by both the hygienist and the dentist for not flossing. Consequently I do now.

11. What comes to mind when I say China?

Chinese food. I visited China in February this year and the food was unbelievably wonderful - apart from the time when I accidentally ate jellyfish.

12. Are you overly emotional? 

I am emotional but I keep my emotions in a little box inside my head. Sometimes they escape though.

13. If you could listen to just one rock album (CD, vinyl or mp3) which one would you pick ?

At the moment that would have to be “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” by Dream Theater.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

I’m a licker.

15. Do you like your car?

I love my car but sadly it is very old and I don’t think it will pass its MOT in September. I will be replacing it within the next two months.

16. Do you like yourself?

I love myself. I am great.

17. Would you go out to eat with Charlie Sheen?

I reckon that would be a fabulously wild night out – so yes.

18. What was the last song that you listened to? 

“The Glass Prison” by Dream Theater.

19. Are (or were) your parents strict?

My mum used to be strict and we clashed quite a lot because I hate authority. My dad was laid back.

20. Have you ever wondered what attending a wild orgy (if only to watch or...) would be like?

Yes I have. However I’ve been to Amsterdam and seen things that would probably make such an orgy look like a tea party.

21. I say cottage cheese. You say:

I love cottage cheese. Can I have some?

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I’ve met Richard O’Brien the writer of the Rocky Horror Showand former presenter of the Crystal Maze.

23. What was the last movie that you watched at home?

It was a film called “Shelter” with Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?

No. Mrs PM is having a snooze.

25. What countries have you visited?

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, Australia, China, Singapore, Thailand, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, The Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, United States and Russia.

26. Have you ever made a phone call while you were drunk that you've regretted? If yes, do tell.

Yes. I rang my mum ten years ago when I was in Hong Kong to wish her a happy birthday. Due to the time difference it was midnight in Hong Kong and I inadvertently had a rant about something and used some very colourful language (having forgotten momentarily that I was talking to my mum).

She wasn’t happy.

27. Where were you going the last time that you were on a train?

I was heading to London to visit friends.

28. Bacon or sausage?

Sausage – every time.

29. How long have you had a cell-phone?

I think I bought my first mobile phone sometime in the 1990’s.

30. What other memes do you do regularly?

Only the ones I stumble across and steal.

31. Who is the craziest meme host? 

I have no idea – Baron Frankenstein?

32. Who invented chop sticks?

I would imagine that it was somebody from China.

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?

I am going to be with Mrs PM and two cats.

34. Are you too forgiving?

Definitely. I like to see the positive aspects of people – even arseholes. I may forgive people but if they have done something particularly disgraceful I simply avoid them or treat them with zero respect.

35. When was the last time that you were in love?

About a second ago. About a second ago. About a second ago. About a second ago. About a second ago. About a second ago. About a second ago. About a second ago. Hang on – this is tedious.

36. Tell us about your best friend.

My best friend is Mrs PM. She is a woman and she is lovely.

37. What was the stupidest thing you learned in high school?

I learned that Latin for “werewolf” is “versipellis”. I am really going to use that in my life, aren’t I?

38. What was the last thing that you cried about?

I shed a tear when Spike, our third black cat, disappeared in 2009. Apart from that I can’t remember.

39. What was the last question you asked?

Which pub shall we go to later?

40. Favorite thing to do this time of the year?

Usually it is go away on holiday somewhere. Sadly this year I have to wait until the end of May when I go to Lisbon for a few days.

41. If you had to get a (or another) tattoo, what would it be? 

I would never get a tattoo. I can’t imagine anything worse than the pain other than seeing it mutate on my saggy skin when I reach my 80th birthday.

42. How would your best friend describe you?

She would say I am the greatest person on the planet – but sometimes a totally annoying child.

43. Have you ever seen all three Twilight films?

Sadly yes. As far as vampire films go they are dreadful. Vampires are meant to be scary – the ones in Twilight are about as scary as a mouse with a wooden leg.

44. Ever walked into a glass door?

No. My eyesight may be bad but I can distinguish glass from air.

45. Favorite color on that person that you are attracted to?


46. Have you ever slapped someone?

Yes – but not for many years.

47. What hair style (for you) would you like to see return?

The mullet. I used to have one and if they were to return I would become a dedicated follower of fashion just to have one again – and annoy Mrs PM in the process.

48. What was the last CD you bought?

“Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards” by Joe Satriani.

49. Do looks matter to you?

Not really. I go for intelligence and personality.

50. Could you ever forgive a liar?

It depends what the lie is.

51. What's the hardest bill to pay every month?

They are all hard. It means I have to part with cash.

52. Do you like your life right now?

I love my life. It could be better but I’m happy.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?

No – but I have fallen asleep in front of the TV.

54. Can you handle the truth?

Yes – but the truth rarely surfaces in this world.

55. Do you have good vision?

No – I am as blind as a mole. I am long sighted and short sighted and wear varifocals.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?

I don’t hate anybody but there are definitely more than three people that I dislike.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?

A few times a day at work. Not very often outside work.

58. What celeb would you like to come home to?

At the moment, Megan Fox.

59. What are you wearing?

A T-shirt and jeans – my normal non-work attire.

60. What is your favorite wild animal?

Big cats – lions and tigers.

61. Where was your facebook picture taken?

It was taken on board a cruise ship on the way to Alaska last year.

62. Can you waltz?

Strangely – yes I can. My mum taught me when I was a child. I have waltzed once or twice but not for many years.

63. Do you have a job?

Yes – and I won’t elaborate.

64. What was the most recent thing you stole?

This meme.

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?

Yes – as a child I locked myself out of the house and had to break in. I chose the bathroom window because it was smallest and therefore cheapest to replace. I got into a lot of trouble.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

300 Posts, 3 Years and 7 Deadly Sins

This blog has reached two milestones.

Firstly, in March, it was the 3rd anniversary of the creation of the Plastic Mancunian – a series of posts about gibberish.

Secondly, this is the 300th such post.

That’s an average of just about 100 posts of poppycock per year or around eight a month.

Scary isn’t it?

It’s hard to believe that I have managed to maintain this momentum, to be honest.

To celebrate (or commiserate from your perspective, dear reader) I thought I would attempt a meme, revisiting the seven deadly sins because it highlights some of the subjects I have been babbling about for the last three years.

I briefly contemplated them before (you can read about my wild musings) but this meme is a little different. And of course I have stolen it, adding to my reputation as a cyberthief.

Do I care? Not one jot! Here goes.

(1) Pride – Seven great things about yourself

My bum. From a female perspective, apparently I have a wonderful bum. I have never quite worked out why women are so drawn to men’s arses but that’s hardly surprising since I don’t understand women at all. I have been told on quite a few occasions that my bum is my best feature.

My eyes. I have wonderful blue eyes. If you can stomach looking at my face for long enough to scrutinise my eyes, apparently you will see a couple of sexy blue orbs that are quite attractive. A word of warning – please focus on the eyes. If you drift towards the rest of my face you might just cough up a little vomit.

Intelligence. I have an honours degree and my job is to make sense of technology and the hardware that accommodates it. My head is also stuffed full of useless trivia that only becomes useful during quizzes.

Happiness. I may come across as a grumpy old git but I rant with a smile on my face and have the desire to grab a hold of life and ride along shouting “YEEHAHHH!!!!”

My love of kids. It’s a shame that my own two lads have almost grown up. I am childish by nature and therefore find it easy to cast away adult seriousness and play with kids of all ages (resulting usually in kids telling me off for being TOO childish).

Mr Nice Guy. There’s a saying that nice guys finish last. I hate offending people, hurting people’s feelings, abusing trust or just being nasty to people. Maybe that’s why I hate my job so much.

Self-deprecation. I don’t take myself seriously. Why would anybody do that? Nobody is perfect and I enjoy telling people just how imperfect I am (mainly on this blog).

(2) Envy – Seven things you lack and covet

Great hair. I absolutely hate the sentient mop of wiry fluff that resides on my head. I have been at war with it ever since I can remember – and the hair is winning.

Money. I am comfortable but still dependent on a salary. In the next six years I have to help my two lads to find their way through university with soaring fees, soaring cost of living and soaring accommodation costs. My house is getting there but Mrs PM’s plans have turned it into a money pit. It is like a monster gobbling up all of my spare cash. And I love to travel but cannot always find the cash to do so. I really need that winning lottery ticket.

Perfect vision. I am both short sighted and long sighted and have to wear glasses to do just about everything.

Freedom. I am chained to the man (that corporate arse) who dictates the direction of my life; the man who tells me how to live, what to do and how to breathe. I hate the man and I want to destroy the chains that bind.

Youthful body. I look young for my age but now my body is beginning to show the signs of age that irritate me; aches, pains, flab, droops, slightly greying hair. I need to deflate my body and invigorate it with the energy of my youth.

Guitar virtuosity. I love rock music and the ability to play a guitar like any of my axe wielding heroes would be magnificent.

A good singing voice. Wouldn’t it be great to pick up my guitar with my new found skills and then be able to sing with a voice that didn’t render cats unconscious?

(3) Wrath – Seven things that piss you off.

What? Only seven?????

Pointless celebrities. Celebrities who have absolutely no talent whatsoever and have an army of morons hooked on their every move. The news is full of these people whose shallow idiotic lives are played out in front of us like a real life soap opera. There are magazines dedicated to their pointless existence. Why are they famous? WHY????

Politicians. Most politicians are hypocritical liars and I hate hypocrisy and lies.

The state of modern music. I plan to write a separate blog post about this so I will elaborate in due course.

People who hurt others and enjoy it. There is so much violence and anti-social behaviour in the world that it seems to be the norm these days.

January and February. These two months are the worst months of the year. Christmas has gone and in the UK we languish in the depths of the winter blues with freezing cold and dreadful weather and daylight that lasts only a few hours. They are depressing and awful.

Pomposity. There are people in the world whose arrogance is breath-taking. I loathe violence but when confronted by such a self-important dickhead all I want to do is punch him in the face. And I hate myself for that.

Television programmes for morons. There is so much shit on the TV at the moment that if I catch some of it by accident I find my IQ dropping every second. Who watches this crap?

(4) Sloth – Seven things you neglect to do.

Write a book. I am still battling with this – and losing sadly.

Learn French. I want to find time to learn French with a view to possibly spending more time there in later years. My job and procrastination combine to steer me away from it.

Jobs around the house. I hate DIY and I hate housework and I fight a constant battle with Mrs PM who tries to shame me into doing things to her schedule rather than mine.

Cycle to work. I am really going to try to push myself to do this next week – or perhaps the week after.

Sort out my junk. I am a bit of a hoarder by nature and tend to keep stuff rather than throw it away. Mrs PM is always nagging me to get rid of my junk. Sadly, her definition of junk differs from mine. For example she regards CD’s as junk. How dare she!

Cook. I hate cooking and I’ve somehow drifted into a rota with Mrs PM. I am always trying to avoid cooking (apart from when she’s not around – in which case I am deeply tempted to go to the chippy).

Ironing. Mrs PM hates ironing. She refuses to iron my clothes. I hate ironing. I refuse to iron Mrs PM's clothes. The result? A bedroom full of unironed clothes that only gets dealt with when it is physically impossible to get into the room.

(5) Greed. Seven worldly material desires.

A super car. I’m not a car person but I would LOVE to have a monster super car that made so much noise it woke the dead and then scared them back to death. One day I will drive like a lunatic around a disused airfield in a £500,000 rocket propelled super car. One day …

Gadgets. I love gadgets – even pointless ones. I would love to own every single gadget around at the moment, whether it is useless of not. It would keep me quiet for months.

First class travel. I want to travel the world in first class with my own private masseuse and champagne on tap. And when I get to my destination …

First class accommodation. I want to stay in the most expensive suites in the most expensive hotels – like the Peninsular in Hong Kong where for a few thousand a night you have your own butler.

Deluxe homes. Hotel accommodation can become tedious, even in the best suites, so I would like to own my own luxury house complete with pool and staff next to the beach in all the best places.

A football club. I am sick of Walsall being shit. I want to buy the club and inject obscene amounts of cash to buy the world’s greatest players and win absolutely everything.

Money. In order to get the above material delights I would of course require lots of cash – an endless supply of cash.

(6) Gluttony. Seven guilty pleasures.

Beer. I keep hearing bad things about beer and being a hypochondriac I struggle not to believe every word I am told. But then I sip that first pint after work on a Friday night and my worries are cast to the four winds.

Cheese. I am a slave to cheese. I absolutely love it (apart from Stilton and related rancid cheeses).

Bacon. Nothing beats the smell of bacon.

Steak. In South Africa I had a wonderful juicy medium rare T-Bone steak that was inches thick and the size of Johannesburg. I didn’t eat for days afterwards. But it was worth it.

Pork chops. Like Homer Simpson I love pork – to be honest its pork of any kind.

Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. I have been known to eat a whole tube of these in my stupid youth and I really suffered with bad indigestion. Still, it was worth it.

Fish and chips and mushy peas. Occasionally I wander down to my local chippy and order a large portion of fish and chips smothered with mushy peas and then devour them at home. Bliss.

(7) Lust. Seven love secrets.

This is easy – Mrs PM is the only one - and that's not exactly a secret. However, if we are talking pure lust then Mrs PM knows exactly what kind of woman makes my pupils dilate and turns me into a mutant dribbling puppy. But it is only lust – a pure and primeval desire that is never more than that.

And finally…

Please excuse the long post (I know I tend to go on a bit sometimes) but thanks for reading, even if you stumbled across this drivel for the first time.

The Plastic Mancunian will be back - sorry about that...

Friday 8 April 2011

Pilkington's Perspective

Allow me to introduce you to another Mancunian– a man named Karl Pilkington.

I don’t know him personally.

Ricky Gervais, the brains behind “The Office” and “Extras” regards Karl Pilkington as the funniest man on the planet and  a “round headed buffoon” and spends most of his time howling with laughter at him.

I first encountered Karl Pilkington on “The Ricky Gervais Show” which is an animated representation of radio podcasts involving Ricky Gervais, his writing partner Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. Basically, the basis of the show is Gervais and Merchant asking Karl Pilkington about his views on life and then roaring with laughter at the answers.

You see, Karl Pilkington has a weird perspective on life and, in many ways he really is one of the funniest men on the planet. I caught the show one Friday night having come back from the pub and I almost had a seizure laughing at this guy.

Here are a couple of examples.

In what seemed to be an expensive practical joke, they sent poor Pilkington to see the Seven Wonders of the World. You would have expected him to see the wonders in style, flying first class and staying in five star hotels. But no – they didn’t do that. They made him stay in hostels and organised all sorts of bizarre experiences for him.

It was hilarious.

And they called is “An Idiot Abroad”. Basically Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant threw Karl in at the deep end, well out of his comfort zone and howled with laughter from afar.

It was brilliant. Here is a clip of Karl struggling in China.

Finally, here are some of Karl’s best bits.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Hidden Gems

Over the years, artists have released songs that have mass appeal and it is these songs that we hear on the radio over and over again.

Such songs become anthems for fans of artists and when they release albums we tend to focus on those songs, choosing to treat the remainder of the tracks as fillers.

Some of the best work by pop and rock stars never get played on the radio and in many cases this is the best material.

I think it is a real shame.

I thought I would try to redress the balance and expose some of the better but less well known songs that I have enjoyed over the years.
These are mainly from the 70’s and 80’s. If you haven’t heard the songs before, let me know what you think.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Maximum Joy (from the album "Liverpool")

Frankie Goes To Hollywood were huge in 1984, the year I left university. Their first three singles all reached number one , a feat unheard of in those days before mass marketing and people like Simon Cowell ruined pop music. Sadly, their second album bombed massively, thankfully after I bought it. I actually think it is quite good and the song “Maximum Joy” is a fabulous little song that could potentially have been a single.

A-ha – Soft Rains of April (from the album "Scoundrel Days")

A-ha are one of my guilty pleasures and their second album, “Scoundrel Days” is my favourite. We all know the singles from that album but the final track is a haunting and fitting finale to a great album. I love this song.

Depeche Mode – Clean (from the album "Violator")

“Violator” is one of my favourite pop albums of all time and is an absolute triumph. Depeche Mode became much darker towards the end of the eighties and “Clean” demonstrates this perfectly. It is a fitting finale to a fine album. It is also my favourite song from “Violator” that is no mean feat against some pretty stiff competition.

ELO – Do Ya (from the album "A New World Record")

“A New World Record” was the second album I ever bought. I won’t tell you the first – it is too embarrassing. Nevertheless I am proud to admit that I played this record so much that I almost wore it out. The singles from this album are famous of course, but “Do Ya” is a gem that stands up with them and perhaps ought to have graced the charts.

Enya – No Holly For Miss Quinn (from the album "Shepherd Moons")

Let’s get mellow for a moment and enjoy a haunting piano masterpiece. I shocked Mrs PM when I played “No Holly For Miss Quinn” to her the first time during a romantic meal at home. “You actually like this?” she asked incredulously. “Yes,” I replied. “It is simply beautiful.” And it is – I hope you agree.

U2 – One Tree Hill (from the album "The Joshua Tree")

I think everybody in the world owns “The Joshua Tree” but I wonder how many of the other songs from the album people play. I am not a huge fan of U2 but they have peppered their back catalogue with quite a few gems. In my opinion, this is the best song on the album.

Whitesnake – Blindman (from the album "Ready and Willing")

I was very much into Whitesnake before David Coverdale left his original band behind and became huge in America with a whole new bunch of musicians. In my opinion, the earlier material is by far the best. It is bluesy and soulful and emotional (well some of it anyway). “Blindman” is a diamond that most Whitesnake fans will never have heard. I urge you to listen to this because it shows off just how great David Coverdale’s voice was in the late 70’s. I love this song – it is beautiful.

Genesis – Domino (from the album "Invisible Touch")

“Domino” is really two songs in one; a mellow first part that gradually draws you in followed by a more upbeat and progressive second part. As is typical with progressive rock, the song lasts for over ten minutes – probably a bit too long to be a single I guess. A great tune.

Chris Rea – Looking for a Rainbow (from the album "The Road to Hell")

I bought “The Road to Hell” because I liked the title track. Sadly, it is a little bit hit and miss (but that might be because I am not a huge fan of Chris Rea) but I do like “Looking for a Rainbow”. Coming in at a cool eight minutes, it is up there with the title track and “Working On It” as Chris Rea’s best songs.

ABC – 4 Eva 2 Gether (from the album "The Lexicon of Love")

ABC irritated the hell out of me in the early 80’s. Everybody raved about Martin Fry’s so-called wonderful lyrics. I found them cheesy and desperate. “The Lexicon of Love” was a huge album spawning a few well known songs that were at best okay. A few people I knew liked ABC and tried to convert me. And they almost managed it. Nestling towards the end of the album is “4 Eva 2 Gether” and I think it is a cracking little pop song (despite the lyrics). I saw Rush for the first time in 1982 and the band played various rock songs to entertain the crowd. And unbelievably, they also played this. It was like a cuckoo in a rock nest. And even more unbelievably it worked – that’s why I think it is a hidden gem (perhaps their only hidden gem).

That’s enough for now. I may return with a few more in future from my rock collection.

And now, dear reader, over to you. Have you got any hidden and unknown gems by famous artists?