Sunday 25 August 2019

Love Me Some Questions

This is the first blog post I have written on my new laptop. My old desktop was becoming far too slow and clunky – so now I have an amazing new laptop with go-faster stripes.

Sadly it won’t make my typing any faster.

Here are this week’s questions from Sunday Stealing.

1. Has anyone ever made fun of your taste in music?

Constantly. Mrs PM says that the music I like “isn’t music”. I have been called a musical fascist and a musical dinosaur. Worse I am accused of “preaching” when it comes to talking about music. I am not preaching, dear reader. What I am doing is trying to get people to open up their minds to new music, new styles of music and new artists, not the same old crap you have no choice to listen to on just about every radio station out there. To sum up, I like what I like but the categories covered are pop music, electropop, progressive rock, progressive metal, hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal, classical music (not opera), indie rock, classic disco music. Having said that – there is much more. If I like a song – I like it. I don’t care what style or genre it is.

Here is an amazing song by a band you have probably never heard of. You can thank me later.

2. Is anyone’s birthday coming up?

Yes. A good friend of mine has his birthday in just over a week. He is just over a month older than I am so I get that period of time to remind him to make fun of his age before I reach it myself in October.

3. Do you remember who you liked in grade eight?

I had to look up what Grade 8 was because, as you may have noticed, I live in the UK not the USA. I went to a boys only school and I hated it – the main reason being that there were no girls there and some of the kids were too far up their own arses. I did like girls I knew outside school but no particular girl leaps to mind from that period.

4. When was the last time you burned any part of your body?

I stupidly plunged my hand under the hot tap a month or two ago.

5. If I gave you ten dollars, what would you spend it on?

I would probably go to the pub and have a pint of ale. Cheers.

6. What are you most excited about right now?

I am going to Greece in just under a month’s time. We are going to Kefalonia to enjoy a last taste of summer before the weather turns to nastiness.

7. Does / did either of your parents serve in the military?

My dad was in the army in the late 1950’s. At that time the UK had national service so every fit young man had to serve at least 18 months in one of the armed forces. I think he stayed in for three years before finally quitting.

8. Are you somewhat of a perfectionist?

Yes  - I think I am. I try not to be because it means that some tasks take a lot longer as I try to iron out all of the imperfections. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, Dave!” is a mantra that I should recite over and over again.

9. Do you like sour candy?

I had to look up what sour candy is too. No – I don’t like it.

10. Are all nighters something you have grown used to?

I have had to work all night as part of my job on occasion. You would understand why if I told you what I do for a living. Suffice it to say it is unavoidable and, thankfully, as I edge towards the end of my career, I try to leave it up to the younger people to do it.

11. Do you usually wear sunglasses when you’re driving?

No. I wear glasses instead because if I were to wear sunglasses I would crash. I have lenses that automatically go dark in the sunshine but sadly they do not through glass. So I have to suffer.

12. Do you wear your shoes around the house?

Sometimes. I usually wear just socks or slippers but there are occasions when I wear shoes (usually when I haven’t got round to taking them off).

13. What clothes are you most comfortable in?

Jeans and a T-shirt. Today is 30 degrees so I am wearing shorts instead of jeans, which would be very uncomfortable in this heat.

14. Are you good at painting nails?

No. I have never painted my own or anybody else’s nails.

15. Smoothies or slushies?


Sunday 18 August 2019

Swap Bot

It’s Sunday so time for some questions from Sunday Stealing.

Let’s dive right in shall we?

1. What do you enjoy about summer?

Summer in the UK is usually a little hit and miss. It rains quite a lot but a lot of the time we have some beautiful sunny days that are very warm but not overly oppressive like some places I have been to. The temperature is generally in the range 20 to 30 degrees Centigrade with the odd day getting hotter (we achieved 32 in Manchester a week or two ago). The best days are those when the temperature is in the mid-20s and we can enjoy the beautiful British countryside. In fact, that’s exactly what we will be doing later.

2. Do you like snow? Why?

Not at all. Snow is horrible; wet, cold and slippery. Whenever it snows in the UK things grind to a standstill. We usually get mild winters so it isn’t cost effective to prepare as they do in Russia for example. So when it snows we struggle. The only good thing about snow is that it can make the countryside look nice – as long as I don’t have to walk in it, I don’t mind.

3. What do you think about dogs?

I love dogs and I wish I had one. The problem is that working all day makes it difficult to look after one and I hate the idea that the poor thing would be cooped up in the house all day. No dog deserves such a prison sentence. However, I plan to reconsider when I retire which will be fun because Mrs PM is more of a cat person. We will have to think that one through.

4. Have you ever gotten lost?

Yes – but only because of Mrs PM who no sense of direction at all. The last place I was genuinely lost was in Shinjuku railway station in Tokyo – the biggest railway station I have ever seen. We were cutting through to avoid a massive detour and it seemed so simple. I didn’t anticipate it being a complete labyrinth. We asked a station employee how to find the exit we wanted and for about five minutes he struggled to guide us. Eventually, the next day, we escaped. Not really – but we were in there for about half an hour – it would have been quicker to walk around.

5. What are your favourite type of socks?

Socks that fit my feet.

6. What is your favourite style of shoes?

Anything that is comfortable. I particularly like trainers when going for a nice long walk.

7. What would you name your boat if you had one?

It would have to be Boaty McBoatface. What else?

8. What common misconception do you hate to hear repeated as fact?

As I get older I am becoming a total cynic. This is a healthy trait and I am proud of it. When politicians open their mouths, people tend to trust what comes out. I don’t believe a word any of them say. I think that they are all power-crazed malignant narcissists. When I hear the current clown in charge of the UK say “Brexit will be good for Britain” all I want to do is walk up to the man and punch him repeatedly until he tells us all the truth.

I hate these borderline psychopaths and the fact that people believe they have our interests at heart.

Liars - every single one of them!

9. What was the last shop you went into and what did you buy?

Mrs PM and I went to the local supermarket yesterday and bought everything we need for the coming week – a list far too long to bore you all with.

10. What's your favourite thing to do to pass the time?

There are a lot of things; writing drivel like this, listening to music, watching TV, going for a long walk, watching sport and reading a good book. There are lots more that I won’t list.

11. What is a way to die that scares you the most?

Falling off a tall building. People say it would be quick but I am terrified of heights and the plummet down to my death would be the most terrifying few seconds of my existence.

12. Travel or home body?

I love to travel and I escape to different countries whenever I get the opportunity to. This year alone I have been to Vietnam and Hong Kong and in the next month or two I am going to Greece and Spain.

13. Have you ever gone to a Bingo hall?

Yes – but not for decades.

14. What is the longest plane trip you have taken?

The longest single plane journey was 13 hours from Hong Kong to Manchester this year. The longest entire journey involving changes was 24 hours: Kunming in China to Manchester via Beijing and Amsterdam. It was terrible.

15. Do you text more or call more? Why?

I text more – but really it is WhatsApp that I use. I only rarely speak to people on the phone these days. Why? Texting/WhatsApp is far more convenient.

Sunday 11 August 2019

Friday Five

Don't be misled by the title, folks. It is Sunday today.

Here is this week’s selection from Sunday Stealing so let’s just hold our collective noses and jump right in.

1. Have you ever had a great conversation with a complete stranger?

I certainly have – but more so recently. In the dim and distant past I used to be painfully shy and then I decided to take on this affliction. I still am shy – I haven’t won by any means – but now I find I have a better ability to chat to complete strangers. I’ve had some interesting conversations, some disturbing conversations (perhaps a future blog post about those) and many that have led to friendship. I recommend it. As long as the person is friendly and responsive, why not?

2. Where did you go on the very first vacation of your life?

My first holiday was down to the south coast of England to the coastal town of Brighton for the first of three holidays. I have fond memories (through a child’s eye) and to be perfectly honest I haven’t been back there since I was around thirteen. We stayed at a hotel owned by a retired cockney couple called Harry and Hetty (I can’t believe that I still remember their names – it was probably in 1971). Hetty in particular loved my blond hair and at every opportunity she rubbed my hair, asking me to promise to give her a lock of it. I think I did to be honest. Why she would want a piece of my awful, self-aware mop I have no idea.

3. Open the door of your refrigerator. What is the first thing you see?

A carton of apple juice.

4. What is your favourite place in your home.

It depends on the time of day and what I am doing. When I get up, it is the lounge, which we had redecorated last year, complete with new sofa and various other bits and bobs. The sun shines in all day so at the weekend in summer it is beautiful. I also love where I am now, in the back room, typing this post and listening to Rammstein’s new album. At night time, of course, it has to be the bedroom.

5. If you had wings to fly about the universe, where is the first place you’d land?

I would land on Mars and see if there are any tardigrades roaming about. Some people believe that there was once life on Mars, so I would look for evidence of that by searching for tardigrades. If you don’t know what they are, they are tiny almost indestructible creatures that live on Earth and have survived in space and, theoretically according to a recent article I read, actually live on the moon courtesy of Messrs Armstrong and Aldrin. I would love it if the theory were correct.

6. What is the first thing you do when you get in your car?

I close the door. It’s dangerous to drive with the doors open. That was the first thing my driving instructor told me.

7. What is special about the town you live in?

Manchester is a city and capital of the north of England. It is special because it is far friendlier than London (as are most UK places to be honest) and we have everything else you would ever need. Great food, great pubs, great things to do, great history and wonderful people.

8. What is the last thing you heard about your first love?

Not sure what you mean by “first love” so I will just mention my first serious girlfriend. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. She is probably still living in Walsall and married with kids. I have no desire to look her up but I would be friendly if I were to bump into her.

9. If you had created the world in seven days yourself, what would you have created on the First Day?

A decent rock band. That way I could get on with creating the rest of the world with some background music to entertain me.

10. How do you beat the summer heat?

I am quite lucky to live in Manchester because our summers are mild (as are our winters). We recently hit the heady heights of 32 degrees centigrade which is as hot as it ever gets. That is completely bearable so I sat in the garden under an umbrella enjoying the heat and chatting to Mrs PM over a glass of wine. When abroad, however, if it gets too hot, I just seek shelter. The hottest I have ever encountered is Oman at 46 degrees Centigrade. It was so hot that it hurt and I sought shelter in an air-conditioned office or my hotel room.

11. Did you enjoy your Senior Year in high school?

By “Senior Year” I am guessing that you mean my final year before I went to university. In short – not really. I hated my school, even though it helped me get where I am. Imagine being in an all-boys’ school when all of my hormones were screaming out for female company? No thanks.

12. Who is your favourite First Lady of all time?

I don’t have one to be honest. I find most politicians to be abhorrent human beings (especially in America) and I have no interest whatsoever in their spouses.

13. Post a link to your first blog post.

My very first blog post was about my favourite football team (soccer for Americans). Here it is. That was in March 2008. I felt old then – I feel REALLY old now.

14. When was the last time you needed First Aid?

I cut myself while chopping vegetables about a month ago. A plaster resolved the situation

15. Can you explain what a first down is in football?

There is no such thing in football. Ah – this is an American question so you must be talking about American Football (or rugby for wimps). I cannot explain the rules of that particular game. I watched the Super Bowl in the 1980’s for fun but it was anything but fun. It lasted for ages and there were adverts every five minutes. It was slow and dull and basically involved a bunch of big American guys wearing crash helmets and crashing into each other in a frenzied few seconds every minute of two. I got the gist of the game but for goodness sake, make it more exciting and take off all of that armour to make it interesting. Rugby Union and Rugby League are far more exciting.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Fewer Than 5000 Questions

Here are this week’s questions from Sunday Stealing.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

1. Have you read anything by C.S. Lewis?

Yes – two books actually and both as a child:

Out of the Silent Planet

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

2. What is your favourite movie with Jack Nicholson?

I’m going to cheat and say three because I simply cannot pick a favourite out of them:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Shining


3. What rhymes with 'orange'?

Blorenge. It is a mountain in Wales.

4. Have you ever swallowed an object by accident?

Yes. I accidentally swallowed a jellyfish.

Don’t panic, dear reader – it was cooked. I was in Hong Kong and I was chewing an unknown bit of food and I asked our host what it was. When he told me it was jellyfish, I meant to spit it out but in shock I accidentally swallowed it.

To be honest, it wasn’t that bad and I actually ate jellyfish again in Japan – this time voluntarily.

5. Is your eyesight 20/20?

Absolutely not. I wear glasses and without them I am as blind as the proverbial bat. I am Mr Magoo.

I am horrifically short-sighted and have worn glasses since the age of 8. And now I have to wear expensive varifocals.

People have said I have nice eyes. I would willingly swap them for ugly ones that worked properly.

6. Have you ever had insomnia?

Yes – most recently because I accidentally made a cup of monster-raving-loony , full-fat highly caffeinated coffee by mistake. I am almost totally decaffeinated now (including tea) so I ran around like a demented lunatic for two hours before bedtime and then spent the first four hour lying in bed with caffeine flooding through my veins and shaking me awake when my body threatened to succumb to slumber.

It was bloody awful.

7. Does it bother you when people touch you?

It depends who it is. If it is a friendly person then absolutely not.

If it is a mugger or a policeman arresting me for crimes against fashion then most definitely.

8. Is it better to get too much or too little sleep?

I think it’s better to get too much sleep. My body works like clockwork – seven and a half hours every night (unless I’ve accidentally drunk a caffeine bomb).

9. What gets your adrenaline pumping?

Anything that scares me – like tall buildings and public speaking.

10. Do you ever talk about yourself in the third person?

Only when I refer to the Plastic Mancunian, the persona I use for this blog. When I see something noteworthy or funny I say things like “The Plastic Mancunian needs to write about that!”.

Mrs PM thinks I am mad.

11. What's your favourite radio station? What kind of music do they play?

Please don’t get me started on radio stations because I will rant mercilessly.

Bugger it! I am going to anyway.

There are NO radio stations that play my kind of music and it annoys the hell out of me. All of the popular radio stations I try to tune into when driving, say, play inane pop music, old songs that were hits decades ago, terrible dance music, appalling rap music and other bilge.

I don’t want to turn on a radio station and hear songs from the 1980’s that I hated in the 1980’s.

I want to hear decent rock music – or some progressive rock.

For example, Iron Maiden are a huge British Heavy Metal band, you may have heard and have been around since the late 1970’s. They fill arenas when they go on tour and have millions of fans worldwide who love their music.

But can I find a radio station in the UK that plays even ONE of their songs? In a word NO!

Thank goodness for the internet.

Here is a beautiful rock song that you will never hear on a British radio station because the owners, producers and DJ’s only want to spoon feed you the latest bilge to come out of Simon Cowell’s bland music factory.

12. Do you believe there is anyplace still undiscovered in all the world?

I would like to think so and if so, I would love it to remain that way.

13. Ever caught a fish?

I have held a fishing rod for approximately five minutes before handing over to my friend who then caught a fish about ten minutes after that. Does that count?

14. Were you ever in the first row of a concert?

Yes – a couple of times. I was in the front row for a rock band called Dare and actually high-fived the singer.  It was in the late 1980’s and that band featured Professor Brian Cox (the famous phycisist – famous in Britain anyway). Here is a song from them at that time.

The biggest band I have been in the front row for is Deep Purple when they played the Manchester Arena. I wasn’t close enough to touch the band members (there was too much security in the way and a huge gap between the first row and the stage) but I almost caught a plectrum thrown by Steve Morse, the guitarist.

15. Do you have any autographs?

Yes – but you will never have heard of them. When I was a kid, my dad took me to Mansfield to see Walsall (my favourite football team) play away. As we walked outside the ground, the coach containing the Walsall players turned up and I managed to get most of the players to sign the football programme for me. One of them was my absolute hero at the time, a striker called Alan Buckley. I still have it upstairs in the loft and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

This is Alan Buckley – an absolute legend!