Friday 30 December 2016

A Musical 2016

In 2016, we lost several musical icons; Prince, David Bowie, Rick Parfitt, Greg Lake, Keith Emerson, Glen Frey, Leonard Cohen and even George Michael.

I hope they all rest in peace.

From a personal perspective,  I have consolidated my collection with new recordings by some of my favourite artists but have also discovered a new artist in the genre of Progressive Metal and he has blown me away with his raw talent.

The year started off with Steven Wilson releasing an extended player to keep fans ticking over while he works on new material. The album is called and contains previously unreleased songs that didn’t quite make it on his last two albums. The song Happiness III, in my previous post, appears on the album so I won’t repeat it again.

Next, Progressive Metal giants Dream Theater released a colossal new album called The Astonishing and it is truly astonishing because it is a huge rock opera featuring 34 songs lasting well over two hours. Here is something called The Gift Of Music, which even features a gospel choir:

Dutch Symphonic Metal band Delain also released a new album, with the strange title, Moonbathers. The final song on the album is a beautiful song called The Monarch that wouldn’t be out of place as part of a movie soundtrack:

I also revisited a Progressive Rock band from Poland, called Riverside. What is sad about this band is that now, just as I have completed my collection of their albums, I discovered that their guitarist Piotr Grudzinski  died of a cardiac arrest at the young age of just 40 years old – yet another sad loss from 2016. Here is a song called Egoist Hedonist:

And now to my discovery; Devin Townsend. I have actually seen him live once as lead vocals for the legendary guitarist Steve Vai way back in the late 1980s. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this fiery young Canadian is a prolific and extremely talented multi-instrumentalist with the ability to write a wide range of styles of music, from ambient rock to extreme Progressive Metal with everything in between including, bizarrely, country rock (which I’m not that keen on to be honest). Most of his songs are brilliant, weird, funny and epic.

Here are a couple of songs from some of his albums I have bought this year. First, March of the Poozers:

The next one is called War:

Devin also released a new album this year called Transcendence. Here is an amazing song called Stormbending:

However, there is one album that he released way back in 2009 that is my absolute favourite. I love every single song on the album. The album is called Addicted! and is amazing. Here are a couple of songs. first, the title track, an amazing heavy metal song:

Next, a wonderful song called Hyperdrive! Featuring the amazing Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals:

Devin Townsend’s back catalogue is immense and I shall be dipping into it more in 2017.

And if you didn’t believe me about country rock, here is an example:

I’m looking forward to 2017 and hope it is a great year musically as well as for everything else.

Happy New Year Everybody

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Goodbye 2016

I normally look back with at least some fondness on years as they go by but this year is an exception.

I won’t be sad to add 2016 to the annals of history. It’s not been all bad but certain things have happened that could affect our lives in the next few years.

As usual I will complete my annual goodbye meme and maybe all will become clear (though I am sure you can guess what I am talking about).

This could be a long one – so here goes – dive in with me:

1.What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I went to a Burns night celebration in January and found myself being flung around a dance floor by all manner of strange women as part of a ceilidh with a stomach full of haggis. It was great fun.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I was going to pursue more 30 day challenges but decided against it because I was a little too busy during the first few months of the year. I may have another go in 2017.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my uncle Paul died after suffering for a year with lung cancer. Also, my lovely little hellcat died suddenly.

5. What countries did you visit?

For holidays, this year, we stayed in Europe, visiting Barcelona and Malaga in Spain and Nice in France.

A famous cathedral in Barcelona that is still not finished.
A beautiful sunset in Malaga
Bastillle Day fireworks in Nice before tragedy struck

For work, I visited China again, this time to the beautiful city of Shanghai (though to be honest I didn’t see much of it).

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

I think I’d like to have a little more happiness and a little less rage. Due to the negative events in 2016, I spent a lot of time feeling angry and, unlike my usual self, slightly depressed with what’s been going on. There has been too much negativity so my main aim is to dismiss that and actively search for positivity in 2017.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

July 14th will remain etched in my mind because of the events that occurred in Nice while I was on holiday. You can read about it here.

It was meant to be a public celebration of Bastille Day and instead, because of one psychopath it all turned to shit. If events had taken a different turn it could have been far worse.

June 23rd also stands out as the day that the United Kingdom took leave of its senses and voted to leave the EU. I have ranted mercilessly about this since that fateful day.

On a lighter note, I had another reunion with my old university friends on November 19th in London. It was great to see my old mates again.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Nothing leaps to mind, although I have kind of continued plugging away at my novel, which incidentally remains close to being finished but needs a massive amount of work for me to be happy with it. 

Also, I’ve plugged away at Spanish and managed to impress Mrs PM’s mother in Barcelona by actually having simple conversations with people. I am seriously thinking about going on a proper course this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My tolerance levels have been depleted and as a result my negativity, usually dormant, has been rampant. Even a week’s holiday in Malaga didn’t really help because around that time, my cat died.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully no. That would have been the last straw.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I revisited my childhood and invested in a PS4. As well as playing games, it serves as a backup for watching TV.

 12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

As usual, I award Plastic Mancunian Knighthoods to those heroes who dedicate their lives to helping others without wanting the plaudits that many more famous people crave.

I salute you all - you know who you are.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Oh my God! Where do I begin?

Donald Trump’s blatant lies and misogyny have been a particular low point but I am far angrier about the blatant lies that were told on both sides of the EU referendum debate. In particular, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage have totally pissed me off just hearing their outrageous lies.

What I want to see in 2017 is the total absence of Nigel Farage from my television and in the media. I don’t want to hear his opinions on anything anymore. I am trying my best not to swear as I type and in the interests of positivity I won’t.

I just hope he goes away and now he has conned the British public surely he can.

Pity I can’t say the same for Donald Trump.

What a couple of *******
 14. Where did most of your money go?

My house and holidays.

 15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Nothing overly excited me this year apart from going on holiday.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

It’s ironic that the song that reminds me of 2016 is called Happiness III by the brilliant Steven Wilson.

Still, I love the song and it is a massive earworm, with a really catchy chorus. I think you will like it too.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

Sadly I’m sadder, fatter but possibly slightly richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I’d written more to be honest. God knows there has been enough material this year. I will rectify that in 2017 as I am planning a 31 day blogathon in January and I aim to finish the first draft of my appalling novel.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I hadn’t been so angry with politicians and politics in general. The bastards aren’t worth it.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?

Exactly the same as last year and this time I shall kick 2016 in the nuts and welcome 2017 with open arms and a big sloppy kiss.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?

I am already in love – so yes.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

I think this year it has to be Sons of Anarchy, a box set that I watched throughout the year. 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I didn’t think it was possible to dislike Nigel Farage any more than I did at the start of 2016. But I do. He can add that to his list of dubious achievements this year.

This conceited, arrogant hypocritical liar is the personification for Brexit as far as I am concerned and, if I were unfortunate enough to ever cross his path, I would seriously consider abandoning my non-violent nature by punching him in his smug face.

He has overtaken Piers Morgan in my list of people I truly dislike – that is some achievement.

Kissed by the world's ugliest frog!!!
24. What was the best book you read?

I thoroughly enjoyed a two book series by Dan Simmons called Illium and Olympos that combined futuristic science fiction with the siege of Troy. A brilliant concept and an amazing read.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I will reveal all in a later post.

26. What did you want and get?

Nothing really. Madness prevailed in 2016 so I didn’t even fair that well mentally either.

27. What did you want and not get?

I wanted the UK to remain in the EU and we stupidly voted for Brexit.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I loved Captain America: Civil War. So, yes, another super hero movie.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Mrs PM took me to the Cotswolds for a lovely weekend break and much needed escape from reality for a couple of days.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Totally non-existent.

32. What kept you sane?

Mrs PM as usual.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Actually, I’ve developed quite a liking for Morena Baccarin. Fancy is too strong a word though.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Brexit by some distance... closely followed by the farcical US election.

35. Who did you miss?

I miss my uncle Paul.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve met a few new people this year and most of them were and are very nice people.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Never ever, ever, ever believe a single word that comes out of the fetid mouth of any politician.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more

Friday 16 December 2016

Thank God It's Christmas

Let’s go forward in time to a history lesson at school, say in the year 2066. The conversation will be:

Teacher: Johnny. Can you tell me when …

Johnny: 2016.

Teacher: But I hadn’t finished.

Johnny: I know. But it happened in 2016 – that was the year that everything happened.

Here’s something else I heard.

FACT: 2016 will be one second longer than 2015.


I will not look back on 2016 with fondness at all. There are many reasons for this most of which are political. We have all witnessed a new trend in political debate on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, where lies abound and post-truth politics is rampaging across the world like a mad beast.

And let’s not forget the legendary people who have died this year, people like David Bowie and Prince amongst others.

Also, I lost my uncle this year as well as my hellcat Liquorice who suddenly dropped dead in the summer. I miss them both.

However, as we approach the end of the year, and since its Christmas, I think it’s time to be more positive, generally. I have finished work for 2016 now and I want to enjoy the last couple of weeks with an optimistic outlook. Of course, I will be reviewing the year just after Christmas but I can let you into a secret – my resolution this year is to try to cut down on ranting and have a much more enjoyable year next year, whatever the hell Brexit throws at me or whatever trouble ensues when Donald Trump finally gets his hands on the Presidential seal.

The first thing I am going to do is consign the following people to Room 101, where everything hellish lives:

David Cameron, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson from the UK, all of whom have made me rant mercilessly this year and who I hold personally responsible for Brexit.

And from the other side of the Atlantic, I would like to also put the following people into Room 101 for equally pissing me off:

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Kanye West.

I don’t know how the US will cope with their president elect suffering Piers Morgan in Room 101 but I am sure you will cope, my friends.

Anyway, no more negativity.

It’s Christmas and we should all rejoice in a time of good year to all men (apart from those I have just locked away forever).

In the past, I have written alternative lyrics for famous Christmas songs so this year I will do the same again. Here are my past efforts:

Jingle Bells

Twelve Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas Everybody 

This time my victim is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Dave, the Mancunian blogger, 
Had a giant monkey's nose
And if you ever saw him
You’d laugh at his choice of clothes

He had a Christmas jumper
And a very silly hat
And, thanks to all the turkey,
He was looking very fat

Then one rainy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say:
“Dave your belly’s such a sight
Won’t you drive my sleigh tonight?”

Dave is now the new Santa
With a giant bushy beard
Delivering all your presents
Most of which are very weird

This may not be my last post before Christmas but I think now is a good time to wish you all:

Merry Christmas

May Father Christmas (Santa Claus if you are American) bring you all the gifts you want.

By the way, kids, the above lyrics are not true, just a figment of my warped imagination.

Imagine seeing a fat monkey with a beard in your house on Christmas Eve.

Stranger things gave happened.

Friday 9 December 2016


One of the more common phrases I’ve started using in the past few years is “You’re a child”

I am not talking to children when I say this, nor am I insulting the person to whom I am speaking; it is all to do with relativity, i.e. our relative ages.

My oldest friends are all around my age or older. The rest are mostly younger. At work recently, one lad was beating himself up about his age and younger colleagues, sensing blood in the water, did their best to pour flames on his despair.

As I watched this from afar, I found myself starting to feel the inner frustration that only age can bring until finally I had to act.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” I yelled across the office. "When you’re over 50, sure, you can start contemplating what life is like for an older man. But until then, stop whining. You’re still in your thirties; YOU'RE A BLOODY CHILD.”

Laughter erupted and insults were hurled my way about my own age, deflecting attention from this youngster so that he could wallow in self-pity at the prospect of entering his forties.

Part of me would LOVE to be his age again; yet, paradoxically, the other part is absolutely delighted that I am sitting comfortably in my mid-fifties. Now that may sound strange to youngsters (and by that I mean those under fifty), but it’s true.

I have wandered this planet for fifty four years, some of it on my hands and knees, when I was a toddler or inebriated in my twenties, and loved almost all of it. My brain is full of experiences that youngsters today cannot really appreciate. However, despite the jokes, they do actually appreciate it, I think.

Here is an example.

A couple of really young colleagues from work have formed a quiz team at a local pub. My own son is also part of that quiz team. All of them are in their twenties. Until recently, they weren’t doing very well at all. At the end of the quiz, the quiz master usually announces the top three only and they had not featured in that lofty position.

The next day at work, I walked into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and two of them were discussing the previous night’s defeat. One of them went to university with my son, hence the reason my son comes to the quiz too.

“Those questions were really hard,” one of them said. “How are we supposed to know who was a Prime Minister in the 1970’s or who starred in a film in 1956!”

I asked what the questions were and then, to their amazement, answered them.

“You should come to the quiz and join our team,” said one of them.

“Nah,” I replied.

Soon afterwards, I got a text from my son, asking me to be part of the team.

“Come on,” he said. “Show us how much you know!”

Reluctantly I agreed to go and found myself sitting around a table with people who were half my age and younger. On that first week, we finished one point outside the top three – a lofty position for them.

The next week we tied for first place – and I won the tie-break question meaning that we had WON! Our prize was a certificate giving us money off food and drink on our next visit. I have now turned up four times to the quiz and we have won TWICE now, the most recent victory coming on Wednesday of this week. Since I have been part of the team we have a 50% success rate,

They are now almost begging me to turn up every week.

To be fair, it isn’t just me; it is the age range. I have no idea about some of the question being asked, particularly questions about celebrities, pop music of the 2000’s onwards and knowledge about the latest crazes. However, my brain is full of golden knowledge nuggets that I have collected over the years and I am very strong on older stuff.

One thing saddened and amazed me the other week at the quiz. The question was:

“Which comedian released a song called “Funky Moped” in 1975?

I immediately said “Jasper Carrott”.

Now I appreciate that foreign readers may not have heard of him, but he was a very famous comedian from Birmingham from the early 1970’s, probably until the mid to late 1990’s. I’m originally from Walsall, near Birmingham, so I know Jasper Carrott very well and have actually seen him live. He is very funny and his Birmingham accent reminds me of my home town.

Not one of the other members of my quiz team had heard of him.

“WHAT???” I said incredulously. Aware that I might give the answer away, I starting hissing at them like a snake with a frustrated whisper.


“SSSSHHHH!!” they implored. “You’ll give the answer away.”

I didn’t care. I ranted in a silent hissing whisper for about five minutes, almost causing us to miss the next question.

The other teams must have thought that we were impersonating a group of deranged anacondas!

I was appalled, so much so that I have mentioned it to people my age who are equally amazed that the youngsters of today have forgotten or never heard of one of the best British comedians of the past few decades.

To be fair, they have also been amazed that I have never heard of various other modern celebrities, comedians included.

It’s all relative you see.

Never mind, at least between us we stand a great chance of winning on quiz night.

Mind you, that doesn’t stop my own 23 year old son hurling ageist abuse at me. Last week we were in Liverpool, where I went to university. We passed a pub called The Swan Inn that I and fellow rock music lovers had frequented in the early 1980’s because it had great beer and a jukebox that played heavy metal classics.

“Look at that!”  I exclaimed. “I was in there drinking beer and listening to Iron Maiden in my youth.”

“Really,” he said, looking at the sign. “It was founded in 1898. Were you there for the first opening night?”

This is what I have to put up with, dear reader. I don’t really mind. What I do mind, is that Jasper Carrott is lost on the youth of today.

He is still around today so I would like to make sure that my quiz team know who he is. Here he is discussing, coincidentally, growing old in the 1990s.

I hope you can understand his accent.