Wednesday 31 October 2012

A Music Meme

It’s been a while since I have had a go at a meme, so here is one about something close to my heart: music. If you are interested in hearing the songs I mention below, just follow the links.

Note – regular readers will know that I am a fan of rock music – but not all of the songs featured below are rock songs.

I may just surprise you.

(1) Name a favourite political track.

I tend to switch off when it comes to politics, or political messages in songs. That said, I do have in my collections quite a few songs of a political persuasion - like this one:

American Idiot - Green Day 

(2) Name one of those tracks that will make you dance on the dance floor no matter what.

There have been a few songs over the years that have made me dance but these days I don’t tend to go to places where I am inclined to strut my funky stuff. Having said that, if we end up at a wedding or party with a dance floor, Mrs PM will almost certainly drag me up to the dance floor for one of her favourite songs, which I invariably will hate. My revenge is usually to drag her up when the token rock song comes on. Sadly, it is usually a token rock song that I am utterly sick of, which results in both of us dancing away to something we're not too keen on.

However, I will give you a pop song from my past that usually enticed me onto the floor, when it was played – and I would probably dance to it now:

Ant Music –  Adam and the Ants 

(3) Name the song you’d use to tell someone you love them.

The difference between my musical taste and that of Mrs PM would make this extremely difficult. I would go for the middle ground and select a song that we both like that positively oozed romance. This is such a song and Mrs PM and I both love it. See - there is some romance in my blood:

You Make It Easy – Air 

By the way, in case you were wondering, Beth Hirsch is the singer – and she has an absolutely wonderful voice.

(4) A song you know would sell lots of VWs (or ipods, or whatever) if they paid for it. (One that hasn’t already been used).

I’m not sure whether this song has been used but it would fit perfectly:

Redshift Riders – Joe Satriani 

(5) A song that forced you to sit down and analyze its lyrics.

I love songs that have meaningful lyrics. To me, the lyrics can be as important as the melody. Consequently, there are simply too many such songs in my collection to list here. I will select one from my favourite band, Rush. The drummer, Neil Peart, is the lyricist and a fine job he does too:

Territories – Rush

(6) A song you like that a 2 year old would like too.

There are none – unless it is the theme to a kids show. How about the theme to the 60’s puppet show, Stingray? I loved that as a child:

Theme From Stingray - Barry Gray

(7) A song that makes you drive too fast.

I’ve read somewhere that certain songs do make people put their foot down a little too much. I’m not a bad driver, though I have been known to exceed the speed limit on occasion (though not by too much).  Actually, I can think of one song that definitely makes me go for it (in it my own small way):

All My Life – Foo Fighters 

(8) A song that makes you feel like kicking someone’s arse.

I’m not normally inclined to kick anybody’s bottom and I doubt that any song in my collection would turn me into a violent human being. However, there are certain songs that I use to dispel any anger that has built up within, songs that are angry songs and allow me to rant the anger out of me. Songs like this one:

Whiplash – Metallica 

(9) A song that both you and your grandparents (would probably) like.

My grandparents and I had absolutely nothing in common musically – even my parents hated my music. I would have to delve into my collection of classical music to find something that they might actually like. How about:

Bolero – Ravel 

(10) A song you would send to somebody you hated.

I don’t hate anybody – so if somebody annoyed me I would send them a song that let them know in no uncertain terms that they had seriously pissed me off – a song like this one:

Kick In The Teeth – Papa Roach 

(11) A sad instrumental song that would be in the soundtrack to a movie about your life.

One of my favourite albums is Shepherd Moons by Enya and most of the songs on that album would feature on the soundtrack of my life. I particularly like this beautiful tune which may or may not be sad:

Lothlórien – Enya 

(12) The peppy song that would start the opening credits in the soundtrack to a movie about your life.

That’s difficult but it would be hard not to choose a song by the Electric Light Orchestra, a band I loved as a kid. How about:

Mr Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra 

(13) An a cappella song.

My favourite a capella song is this one - a great little tune.

Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

(14) A good song from a genre of music that no one could guess that you liked.

I have often stated that country music is a style that leaves me stone cold. My dad liked many genres and sadly country music was one of them. I had to endure artists like Johnny Cash – who only performed a good song not long before he died, with a cover of a song by Nine Inch Nails.

However, I am not going to use that one.

There is a country song that I have always liked and I have it on my iPod. I openly admit that I like it – it is a great song and beautiful song. I present to you a song that nobody who knows me would predict that I like. Mock me if you like - I don't care:

Witchita Lineman – Glenn Campbell

(15) A song you think should have been playing when you were born.

My name is Dave - so it has to be:

Davy’s On The Road Again – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band 

(16) A favourite artist duo collaboration.

I’m a huge fan of Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and early David Bowie. This collaboration is therefore an absolute favourite:

I’m Afraid Of Americans – David Bowie (featuring Nine Inch Nails) 

(17) A favourite song you completely disagree with (politically, morally, commonsensically, religiously, etc).

Are you asking somebody who loves rock music about controversy and lyrical depravity? There are so many songs to choose from, so I will pick a song about drugs (because I have never taken any – apart from alcohol). The lyrics are purely drug related – just the names of the drugs:

Feel Good Hit Of The Summer – Queens Of The Stone Age

(18) The song that you love despite the fact that your IQ level drops several points every time you listen to it.

Here’s a great example of a dumb rock song that is just brilliant. I have loved it for years and it is a great song to play when you just feel like shouting. In fact – most songs by the band are the same.

Bomber -  Motörhead

(19) Your smooth song, for relaxing.

I’m going to give you two. The first is a beautiful song by Air:

Mayfair Song – Air

The second is a mellow masterpiece from Steven Wilson, the man behind Porcupine Tree. This is a solo effort and a really beautiful piece:

Significant Other – Steven Wilson 

(20) A song that you like but would play loud to annoy the neighbours.

That’s easy – I have thousands to choose from. Ah – but which one to choose? I think a loud bombastic eardrum splitter:

Links 2-3-4 – Rammstein 

(21) A favourite song that’s about a sport or sports.

Sport songs are generally dreadful but there is one that I genuinely like. It was the unofficial anthem of the European National Football Tournament in England in 1996 (Euro 1996). The crowd at the England games adopted the song and the words rang out on the terraces – until the bloody Germans beat us on penalties in the semi-final!:

Three Lions – Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds

(22) A favourite track from an outfit considered a “super group”.

What is a super group? It is a group made up of artists who are famous in their own right.
And my current favourite are Black Country Communion comprising:

Glenn Hughes - ex Deep Purple bassist and vocalist
Joe Bonamassa – legendary solo blues guitarist
Derek Sherinian – ex Dream Theater keyboard player
Jason Bonham – legendary drummer and son of the even more legendary John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

They have a new album just out – their third – and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Here is a superb blues number – it is simply beautiful:

Song of Yesterday – Black Country Communion

(23) The song that makes you want to drink more beer.

Many songs make me want to drink more beer. How about this one?

Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC 

(24) One of the songs you want played at your funeral.

I thought about this and I could be corny and suggest Stairway To Heaven but I think I will opt for a song that is not exactly what people would expect me to choose – a lovely little tune by Depeche Mode. It’s a bit sad – but it has a beautiful chorus:

Home – Depeche Mode 

(25) Favourite Dylan track.

I’m not a huge fan of Bob Dylan, but there is one song of his, covered by Scottish rockers, Nazareth, that I quite like. It is a pretty depressing song but made even more so by Dan McCafferty’s screeching vocals. Here is the original version:

Ballad of Hollis Brown – Bob Dylan

Here is Nazareth’s much better version:

Ballad of Hollis Brown – Nazareth 


Please feel free to steal the meme. The one proviso is that you let me know your answers. I am always on the look out for new music.

I hope you like my choices.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Autumn In Didsbury

We’ve had a pretty dreadful summer, here in the UK in terms of weather, with torrential rain, floods and a generally depressing outlook that drove me abroad for my summer break. 
And now the summer has gone, all we have to look forward to is cold weather, more rain and short days.
However, occasionally, the weather surprises me.  Autumn in the UK can be beautiful particularly on a bright day. Today has been such a day. I opened the curtains this morning and saw a clear blue cloud free sky with sunshine all around.
Mrs PM and I decided to go for a walk to make the most of this beautiful day. The temperature was agreeable too – a pleasant 15 °C, nice enough to resurrect my summer coat, possibly for the last time this year.
The leaves are now changing colour shortly before the trees shed them for the winter and the sunshine enhances the tones making a pleasant walk just that bit more special.
I would like to share that with you, dear reader, to prove that sometimes, on the odd occasion, we can have a delightful day in England.
Care to join us for a walk around Didsbury? Come on then - let's go.
First of all, here is proof that autumn is indeed upon us:

The squirrels are out in force in Didsbury Park, collecting nuts for winter - even checking the bins:

The colours of the trees in Fletcher Moss are wonderful:

Here's a nice path through the woods:

It's still a bit wet from the summer rain, but the reflections in the water are nice:

More beautiful trees by the River Mersey:

It really is sunny - and my shadow makes me look a lot taller:

Time for a pint before getting home?  

Sadly - no! I'm on call. 
Oh well, maybe next time.

Monday 15 October 2012

Despicable Dave

I am going to be very regarded as very brave – or very stupid.

Why? Because I am going to hurl two posts into the blogosphere about myself.

This is the first and it describes the negative version of the Plastic Mancunian – aka Despicable Dave. I will try to address the balance with my next post – the positive version.

The idea was inspired by a song I heard recently where singer referred to his own negative version. I started thinking about how complex humans are and how our daily lives are a constant internal battle between our various personalities and flaws as they strive to reach the pinnacle and take over our bodies for a period of time.

As with other people I am a smorgasbord of weirdness; but rather than trying to identify and describe all of my weird traits, I thought I would focus on the good bits and the bad bits.

Here are the bad bits and, as you might expect if asked “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” at an interview, I will try to turn them into positives – maybe.


As regular readers may have guessed, I can be the personification of Marvin the Paranoid Android. I have attempted to make light of this negative trait by personifying my paranoia as an imaginary nemesis called Captain Paranoia, a nasty person who is a constant thorn in my side, telling me how useless, ugly, thick, despicable and hated I am. The sad thing is that while I may have given the impression that I ignore him, the truth is that I don’t – and he is responsible for some of my worst decisions, my lack of bravery and giving strength to my shyness (see later).

The good news is that with age, I genuinely care less, so Captain Paranoia’s voice is weaker and I do ignore him more and more.

Nevertheless, he still catches me me out sometimes and I kick myself for my weakness.


I may have given regular readers the impression that I have taken my shyness by the scruff of its neck, shaken it about a bit, and kicked it into the middle of next week.

The truth is that deep down I am still painfully shy and every day is a battle to force myself to be brave. I have techniques that do genuinely work when I feel courageous; the problem is that more often than not I will walk away rather than talking to a stranger and, when faced with the prospect of, say, walking into a pub full of strangers, the “fight or flight” reflex turns into “flight” – and I run away.

I am deeply aware that had I been a rampant extrovert, who could waltz into a room full of strangers and charm each and every one of them, my life would have taken a very different path.

In retrospect, I can’t imagine what that would have been like. Shyness has made me what I am today – and it’s not all bad. I am quite content despite this flaw in my personality, perhaps because over the years having extrovert friends and a little bravery have steered me somewhere in that general direction.

Also, my job, as much as I curse it sometimes, has helped me considerably – an ally against shyness.

Who would have though it?


While I thrive on my ability to have a good rant and entertain the troops, I am aware that this self-indulgent desire to put the world to rights is not everybody’s cup of tea.

I ignore that and carry on regardless. People who know me well are often entertained – at first. Yet sometimes I don’t know when to stop and start to become annoying. Mrs PM has pointed this out on a couple of occasions.

I know that sometimes I can be a stubborn arsehole and when I am stubborn AND grumpy I can be infuriating, particularly when the target of my wrath is a subject that somebody who is listening feels strongly about, and when I get carried away, one or two people have started disagreeing and I have noticed that the grumpy rant becomes an embryonic argument.

I like to get things off my chest; I wear my heart on my sleeve and while a grumpy rant may be therapeutic (and it really is, dear reader), I sometimes need to step back from the precipice and turn it into a joke.

And I do – usually at my own expense – which helps matters considerably.


A year or two ago I declared war on procrastination. I am losing the war. For a while I actually started to arrange my days so that I could somehow schedule the writing of a novel.

I failed.

I know why I failed – writing fiction is hard – extremely hard. I can sit here at my desktop and write utter gibberish to post on a pathetic blog but trying to invent a story that is captivating, interesting and compelling with colourful characters, a wonderful plot with subtle twists and turns, that finishes leaving the reader wanting more, is very difficult.

I tried sitting there and writing it – but then I found myself doing other stuff like surfing the internet, listening to music – even doing the washing and ironing or hoovering to avoid the pain of trying to get some fiction on paper.

Sadly, the tendrils of procrastination have invaded other parts of my life too and I have on occasion simply ignored things that I have set myself to do – like writing a blog post.

I know I can beat this; at work I am very meticulous, planning everything I do, setting myself targets and generally achieving them.

So why can’t I do this at home?

The war continues.


A standing joke between Mrs PM and me is that I am a Libran and therefore totally indecisive.

To a certain extent she is right and sometimes for her, a woman who is impulsive and slightly impatient, giving thought to decisions can be infuriating.

Whether it really is a negative trait is something I debate about. I am very careful and will generally not leap into something without first considering the pros and cons of it. The problem arises when I take too long to come to a decision.

Usually, however, the decision I make is the right one but that is little consolation if it has taken me over a week to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

I can’t ever see myself improving either, because I simply cannot just do something that appears to be right at first glance, without considering the possible outcomes.

Any More?

The answer is, of course, a resounding YES.

As humans, none of us are perfect. Some people think they are but they are wrong. We all have a bad side and I think that if you accept that negativity then you can go some way to improving yourself.

I have listed five of my negative traits but there are many more. I’m sure that if you asked my friends and family, or spent an hour discussing my bad points with Mrs PM, you would have enough notes to be able to write a book what a despicable person I am.

The truth is I am not despicable at all. My next post will hopefully provide some balance because, when I think about it, I am quite happy and content with myself – despite my flaws.

So there!

Over to you dear reader.

What are your negative traits? 

Are you prepared to admit to them in a comment on a blog written by a mad arsehole who lives in Manchester? 

I hope so – go on – be a devil!

Saturday 13 October 2012

What Women Want

I don’t read women’s magazines. I need to state that at the beginning of this post.

Occasionally, however, Mrs PM does buy such magazines and leaves them within reach (perhaps on purpose).

Regular readers will know that I simply do not understand women, but strive to do so. And in order to research what makes women tick, I sometimes take the bait and pick up one of Mrs PM’s magazines to see if I can get inside the female brain in my quest to discover the key to the secret.

On Sunday I picked up such a magazine and found an article that made me laugh.

It was entitled: The Good Husband Guide and it listed 10 things that men have supposedly learnt to keep their women happy. I thought it would be a bit of fun for me to comment on each and every point – from a male perspective.

Feel fancied

According to the author, women want their husbands to fancy them. Even though they may feel under the weather, bloated, bad time of the month etc., apparently nothing makes a woman more happy then the knowledge that her man is like a coiled spring, fighting a constant battle with himself not to tear his clothes off and ravage her because she is so utterly attractive.

While this may be something that can keep a woman happy, the phrase “No – I’m too tired” or “No – I’m not in the mood” or “Put your clothes back on, you arse; my mum’s coming round in 10 minutes” do make a man feel rather inadequate.

Talking Is Important

This highlights for me one of the main differences between men and women. Women love to talk, to analyse every nuance, every small piece of information available, every scrap of insignificant news and every aspect of every feeling that is going around inside a man’s brain.

Men don’t talk. Men don’t like talking.

To a man, such conversations are pointless.

If you want a man to have a decent conversation, try talking about sport, cars or books – and not about why Susan’s been feeling low this week.

Never criticise

When shopping with Mrs PM, she sweeps out of the changing room with a new dress and says “What do you think? I want you to be brutally honest!” 

I am under pressure because there are other women present and watching with interest as well as other men, also suffering from my predicament, who are chuckling inside knowing that there is no correct answer to the question.

It is like being asked: “Do you want me to stab you in the chest or shoot you in the nether regions?”

Each answer involves extreme pain.

I trust Mrs PM and have foolishly been brutally honest:

“It makes you look like an old woman. It is more like a sack than a dress. You are in your early 40’s not early 60’s. Put it back.”

The fact that I am still here today typing this is due to the fact that I can run faster than Mrs PM and I have threatened to sell the cats to our local Cruella De Ville if she hurts me in any way.

Don’t back us into a corner

The question in the previous list item is a superb example of women backing men into a corner. Why shouldn’t we do it back?

The author’s point here is that men shouldn’t be flippant over serious issues. I use humour to dissolve tense situations generally but apparently I should stop doing this. And under no circumstances should I say something like “Calm down. It was only a vase!”

That is a sure fire way to pain.

Don’t be a total pushover

Men should fight back and not let women completely dominate them – at least that is what the author is saying.

To me, this seems a difficult thing to achieve, particularly since women are unpredictable – at least that’s what I think (yes – I am that stupid). Mrs PM is very sure of herself and extremely confident. I, on the other hand, am a stubborn, grumpy old git and for the past 20 years or so I have never let anybody push me around.

I think Mrs PM knows how far she can push before I get my soapbox out. The prize of getting her own way sometimes comes at too high a price, particularly when I mutate into a ranting leviathan.

Some things are just not worth it.

If you can’t be romantic, don’t be unromantic

What is it with women and romance? I am romantic but my definition of romance simply does not match the definition of the word in a woman’s dictionary. If Mrs PM wants some romance in the middle of the big game on TV – what should I do? Should I switch off the TV, put on some romantic music and cuddle her, whispering sweet nothings into her ear?

I don’t want to appear selfish but there is a time and a place for everything.

Romance, in my view, is fine, but when the urge for such activities clashes with man stuff – we need a bit of give and take.

Balance is the key ... except some women don’t always see it that way.

Have the same attitude to money as we do

Excuse me but no. I am very careful with money and even though I occasionally go out and buy a gadget, I don’t own more than four pairs of shoes, have a wardrobe full of clothes that I will only wear once, or a room full of cuddly toys that are “too cute to resist so I had to buy them all”.

I will spend money on Mrs PM – but I won’t break the bank. That would be stupid. Thankfully, Mrs PM is also fairly sensible with money.

Be prepared to play the “Daddy” role

What? WHAT?? WHAT?????? 

When I first read this I thought the author was a pervert – but it means that women expect men to take control when it suits them.

This is a bit rich. What it means really is that women want to be in control – until they say we can have a bit of power.

It’s like saying “I have your spine – you can borrow it to sort out the mortgage – and then I want it back - IMMEDIATELY.”

Again – balance is the key.

I am in charge of my relationship with Mrs PM – as long as she says I can be.

Be the sort of bloke who can shop in Ikea and watch the Twilight Movies

My punishment for dragging Mrs PM to see The Avengers earlier this year, is to accompany her to see the fifth and final Twilight film. I haven’t seen the fourth one yet – which means that I have to go the DVD rental shop, rent it out ON MY OWN, watch it ON MY OWN and then go to the pictures with her to see it.

I HATE the Twilight films. They make vampires look like fluffy declawed kittens that have had their teeth removed.

But I will do this because I am a man of my word – and there are a few other movies I want to inflict upon my beloved Mrs PM.

As for shopping at Ikea – FORGET IT!!

Be Reliable

My name is Plastic Reliable Mancunian. I will never ever let my beloved Mrs PM down. She knows that.

And that is all that counts.


What I found incredible about this article was that it appeared in a women’s magazine. Surely, if women want their men to change, to be more romantic, to be a reliable “daddy” who never criticises and gushes over toothless vampires while shopping at Ikea, surely the best thing to do would be to publish it in a men’s magazine between an article on the latest super car and the latest must have gadget.

Men might actually take notice.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

The Power of Dave

You may think that my name is Plastic – it isn’t. I’m not sure that I could go through life with the name Plastic Mancunian – people would think that I am as weird as my name.

What do you mean "You are!"?

My real name is Dave.

I love being called Dave. It is a great name, a wonderful name – a bloke’s name.

My mum and sisters, and indeed my aunts and cousins, all insist on calling me David, despite my insistence that Dave is the name I prefer to be known by. I guess in my mum’s case, she would argue that David was the name she chose, the name she fought over with my dad, and the name that is on my birth certificate.

My dad was called George, as was his dad and his dad’s dad. He wanted to prolong the family name by making me George IV; thankfully my mum won that particular argument. She didn’t get it all her own way, sadly, because I am stuck with George as a middle name, something I only rarely admit.

I can therefore understand why my mum insists that my name is David, and has drummed it into my sisters, my aunts and any other family members that, despite my protestations, I am David.

I’m not David – I am Dave.

Whenever I introduce myself to new people I say

“Hi, I’m Dave.”

That says it all for me.

Such is the power of Dave that there is a feeling amongst non-Daves that we are taking over the planet. And maybe we are.

For starters, in the UK, all Daves have our own TV channel named after us. I am not making this up.

Dave TV was named such because “Everybody knows somebody called Dave”.

And from my experience that is true. The channel also sells itself as “The Home of Witty Banter” and shows a constant stream of old favourite comedy shows. Such is the power of Dave TV that they have produced, exclusively, two new series of Red Dwarf, one of my favourite all time comedy shows.

Here is the trailer for the brand new series, Red Dwarf X, which started on Dave last Thursday:

And, of course, the hero of Red Dwarf is another Dave – Dave Lister.

This is the power of Dave. Of course, Dave TV was first mentioned by another Dave (David Lee Roth) in his video for Just a Gigolo:

Conspiracy theorists, who consider the Power of Dave to be an evil cult bent of taking over the world, may actually have a point.

Here is the evidence:

As well as having a logo on the moon, here in the UK, our Prime Minister is a Dave – David Cameron. That is just the beginning. It won’t be long before we have a Dave in the White House, the Parliament of Australia and the Government of Canada.

Getting a Dave into the Kremlin or the Government of the People’s Republic of China might be tricky though. I’m sure that there are Daves in Russia (Dave in Russian is Дэйв) and China (Dave in Chinese is 戴夫). There must be somebody with those names in those countries.

Here are one or two interesting facts about the name David:

David is a really old name, originating from ancient Mesapotamia.

St David is the patron saint of Wales.

Variants of David are Dave, Davey, Davie, Davy, Dafydd, Dewi, Dai, Daf, Dovi and Dof.

The female equivalent is Davina.

David means “Beloved”

As much as I love my name, I wouldn’t want every other bloke in the world to be called Dave – imagine the confusion and chaos that would ensue.

Dave is such a popular name at the moment that I know quite a few other Dave’s. On one project I worked on a few years ago, there were no fewer than four Dave’s all sitting on the same table. People would come into the office and say “Where’s Dave?”

Four people would look around and say “Here I am – are you blind?”

It was a tough project but a fun one, and while we were all working really hard, things went wrong, so much so that we created an “Excuses Register”. There were some classic in-house excuses that we all used but my particular favourites, given that there were four Dave’s, were:

“Dave asked me to do that.”

“Dave wrote that.”

“I thought Dave was meant to do that.”

Also, can you imagine being called Dave and married to a Davina?

“Dave and Davina” doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it? Or is that just me?

It just sounds – well – SILLY.

Thankfully Mrs PM is not called Davina, although if she were, I would still love her (though I may try to persuade her to change her name).

In conclusion, I would like to thank my mum for fighting to have me called Dave. I have my own TV channel and I share the name of a boy who slew a giant called Goliath armed only with a sling. If only I could do something similar.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes from a fellow Dave from America, a very funny guy called Dave Barry, a man who surely, like me, embraces the Power of Dave.

Violence and smut are of course everywhere on the airwaves. You cannot turn on your television without seeing them, although sometimes you have to hunt around.

Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.

You can only be young once. But you can always be immature.

Never assume that the guy understands that you and he have a relationship. 

Life is anything that dies when you stomp on it. 

'Escargot' is French for 'fat crawling bag of phlegm'. 

If God had wanted us to be concerned for the plight of the toads, he would have made them cute and furry.