Wednesday 22 December 2021

Heavy Metal Christmas

This will be my last post before Christmas so I thought I would resurrect a stupid idea from many years ago when I started to supply alternative lyrics to famous Christmas songs, ruining them completely. 
The one I have chosen to vandalise this year is the old “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”. 
Why? Because I spotted it and immediately thought of proper rock music – or more accurately heavy metal.
I apologise to anybody who loves the song, or anyone who loves Brenda Lee. 

Moshin’ around the Christmas tree
With a heavy metal song 
Air guitar playing noisily 
Grandma tells me this is wrong

Moshin’ around the Christmas tree
Turn the volume really loud
Later we’ll have a huge mince pie
And we’ll share it with the crowd

You will get a heavy metal feeling when you hear
Guitar, bass with drums and keyboard
Drink some beer, you’ll never feel bored

Moshing around the Christmas tree
Have a happy Christmas Day
Let’s start head banging merrily 
In a new and noisy way


You will get a heavy metal feeling when you hear
Guitar, bass with drums and keyboard
Drink some beer, you’ll never feel bored

Moshing around the Christmas tree
Have a happy Christmas Day
Let’s start head banging merrily 
In a new and noisy way

To be honest, I’m not the first to imagine traditional Christmas songs and add a touch of heavy metal to spice things up. Here are Megadeth having some fun:

And Motörhead:

And of course the Darkness:

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. 

Saturday 18 December 2021

Fauxklore, Part 2

Welcome to a sunny but chilly day in South Manchester. I am not going to chat about Omicron today because I have finished work for the year and can now relax for the holiday period and stay happy. I am looking forward to Christmas as are you all, I hope.

Without further ado, let’s dive into a continuation of last week’s sill questions from Sunday Stealing

16. Do you want any piercings?

Absolutely not. I am squeamish anyway and the thought of sticking a needle into my body is repulsive. This last year I have had four vaccinations (three Covid-19 and one flu) and that is four more than I can put up with. To voluntarily pierce my skin for a so-called aesthetic effect is a completely alien desire to me.

I struggle to imagine why anybody would do it. I have seen some really bizarre piercings in my life and I simply don’t get it – even simple ones like ear piercings.

It makes no sense.

17. What’s your mouse pad look like?

I have two mouse pads. The first is one that by youngest son gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago and is basically a picture of him looking like a maniac. The second is another gift, this time from a mate, but is the official mouse mat of my favourite football team, Walsall. Of course, as usual, when I say “football” I mean what Americans call soccer rather than the poor imitation of Rugby that Americans call football.

18. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?

No and I have no intention of ever doing so. I am sorry but I find all that kind of stuff to be nonsense (apologies to my blogging buddy Pandora who I know is very much into it).

19. How do you identify spiritually (do you follow a religion, what do you think about soul/spirit, etc.)?

My approach to spirituality has been through a few phases. As a child, I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and was indoctrinated from birth all the way through to the age of sixteen via school, family, friends and of course the church itself. At that age, I changed my view because of my ever increasing science background and I questioned religion and everything to do with it. For the next couple of years until university, I started to see what was happening with people who are, what I would describe as evangelical Christians, who told me that, as a Catholic, I wasn’t even a proper Christian.

That angered me, so I rebelled against them.

After that, I have mellowed. I am still a victim of indoctrination as my Catholic background vaguely resonates within but over the past few decades I have moved away from it. I don’t go to church and I ignore any and all attempts to bring me back into the fold, even when discussing with evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions. I respect their views and listen rather than arguing.

I do see now that religion provides comfort and hope for people so if you are a devoted member of any religion then, as long as you aren’t harming people, I am happy for you to embrace your chosen faith.

Am I spiritual in any way? Not really but I am fascinated with the scientific theory of what may happen to the essence of who I am when I finally pass on.

I guess I’ll find out then.

I would quite like to be a ghost actually as long as I had free reign over the planet. Maybe I can travel the world after death. That would be good.

20. Do you prefer your nails long or short?

Definitely short. I have very strong nails and they have to be trimmed on a regular basis.

21. What are your favourite smells?

I think I may have answered this before:

•             Bacon

•             The smell of the English countryside on a summer’s day

•             Coffee being brewed

•             Baking bread

•             The smell of the ocean

22. Do you still use a radio or just use your phone/computer for music?

I use the radio to wake up in the morning but I don’t listen to music on it as, typically, they don’t play the music I like and the DJs are annoying shiny happy people. Instead I prefer to listen to Radio 4 and the news.

When I listen to music at home, it is either through the speakers connected to my laptop or using our Sonos speaker. When out and about, I use my iPod which has my entire CD collection stored on it.

In my car, I still use CDs.

23. What kind of socks do you prefer to wear?

The typical kind of sock you will see in a men’s clothes shop. There is one exception – I wear those small ones that just cover my feet when I wear shorts.

24. Do you have any family heirlooms?

I only have one – a leather bound Bible that my very strict Catholic grandfather had. It was created in 1950 and was passed down to my mum and then me. I will pass it down to my eldest lad – though what he will do I have no idea as he is definitely not religious in any way. TO be fair, I only keep it myself because of my grandad.

25. Are there any musicians you didn't like at first but grew on you?

I would say that Gary Numan falls into that category. At university a mate of mine tried to brainwash me into listening to him but I was into heavy metal at the time and absolutely refused to do it. However, a few years ago, I heard a song by him and I actually loved it. I have bought his last three albums and started to revisit his early catalogue. And in May 2022 (Omicron permitting) I am going to see him in Manchester.

Here is an oldie and a new one for you.

26. Is there anything you used to love but now dislike?

The only thing that leaps to mind is sugar. I don’t dislike sugar as such but I rarely use it now. For example, I used to drink really sweet coffee and tea each with about four spoons of sugar in them. These days I don’t have any sugar in either. What’s more, I drink my coffee black now too.  

27. Your favourite place to be aside from your home?

Travelling somewhere. I’ve forgotten what it is like to travel.

28. What is your favourite kind of tea?

I drink what Americans would call “English Breakfast” tea, the stronger the better. In fact, I’m going to have a cup right now.

29. Any old home remedies you use when you're sick?

I have been know to have a hot toddy when I have a bad cold.

What’s a hot toddy? I hear you cry?

It’s a hot whiskey based drink with lemon and honey. I’m not a fan of whiskey at all – nor honey in fact - but if I have a cold and can barely taste, it provides you with a soothing remedy for a sore throat and the warmth and burning of the whiskey really helps.

Usually I stick to scientifically proven remedies though.

30. What level of brightness do you usually keep your phone at?

My phone adjusts automatically depending on the external brightness. That’s good enough for me.

Saturday 11 December 2021


Welcome to a cold and wet South Manchester. Christmas is drawing ever nearer but, sadly, so are the short days. 

Our resident clown has surpassed himself this week and the good news is that his popularity is dropping like a stone.

First of all, last year we were all locked down for Christmas having a miserable time but it has since been revealed that there were several unlawful parties for various government departments, including one at Number 10 Downing Street itself. Somebody leaked this and Boris the hybrid clown scarecrow mutant creature denied it. And then a video was released that proved the party had taken place. 

It was one rule for the government and one rule for the rest of us and, as you can imagine, the people are livid.

What did our incompetent clown do? He still says that a party didn’t take place and that all rules were followed. How can that be?

Basically he is a liar. 

And then he announced that more restrictions would be imposed because of Omicron. We now have to wear masks in cinemas and theatres and you need to show proof of vaccination to enter places like night clubs.

Having been found out for being a total hypocrite last year when his people partied through the night while we were sitting in our homes locked down unable to see our loved ones, he now announces more restrictions – thinking that it will make us feel better and distract us from the lies.

I am loving watching him squirm and there are a few people calling for his resignation. Even members of his own party are starting to rise up and criticise him.

His resignation would be a great Christmas present.

Anyway, I don’t really like discussing politics as it is too divisive so I shall dive into some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. Have you ever been caught outdoors away from shelter during a thunderstorm?

I mentioned this before on this blog. I will reproduce it here for your enjoyment:

I was in Trinidad and staying at a hotel on the outskirts of Port of Spain. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was bored. I decided to go for a walk around a park. Dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and trainers, I started wondering around. In the distance I saw a huge black cloud approaching over the hills and figured that if I started heading back I would avoid the storm. Sadly, I was about two miles away from the hotel and I realized with horror that the cloud was part of a massive fast-moving thunderstorm. The rain came within about five minutes and with the thunder and lightning it looked like the end of the world was suddenly upon us. I stood sheltering under tree with a young Trinidadian lad and seriously contemplated allowing Jesus to enter my life. 

The rain was so heavy that all of the crap from the tree simply fell onto us. The young lad apologized to me because he thought that my day was being ruined by this bizarre apocalyptic storm. I told him that I was here with work so it didn’t matter. In the end, I sheltered under that tree for about 20 minutes and the rain continued and, if anything, started to get worse. I worked out that I was about Twenty minutes away from the hotel so I shook hands with the young lad, wished him luck and made the sacrifice of trying to get back to the hotel. He watched me as if I were a soldier embarking upon a suicide mission into no-man’s land.

The rain was probably the most intense I have ever been in. The temperature was still very warm, as you can imagine in the Caribbean, and my glasses let me down. Within minutes they were drenched and steaming up making it almost impossible to see. I felt like I was walking under Niagara Falls. 

Eventually I reached the hotel and walked into reception looking like a drowned rat. I walked up to the desk to ask for my key and the two female receptionists stared at me as if I were an alien that had just walked off a spaceship. 

“Can I have my key please?” I asked politely. 

They were struggling not to laugh as they handed over my key. 

“Oh by the way – it’s raining our there!” I said.

That was the catalyst. The two women howled with laughter, one of them gripping the reception desk so that she didn’t fall over. 

The other said “It’s not funny. I’m so sorry for laughing,” as she continued to roar with laughter.

I just smiled as the two women guffawed for Trinidad. 

When I got back to my room, it took me 10 minutes to peel my sodden T-shirt off my back and my trainers were so full of water that I had to empty them into the toilet. 

I looked at my face in the mirror and I was covered in dirt from the tree – I looked like I had had a swim in a swamp. No wonder the women were laughing at me.

I enjoyed that incident despite the trauma of the apocalyptic storm. I can still picture the laughter of the two wonderful receptionists, who were still struggling not to laugh when they apologised to me later in the day.

2. Did you ever build furniture forts as a child?

Yes. I lived near to a building site where they had demolished some old houses ready to build some brand new ones. There were lots of doors piled up from the demolished houses so we used to use them to build what we called “dens” rather than forts. Nevertheless we kind of used them as forts as we split into two groups and tried to conquer the other group.

3. Do you use any medicines daily? 

Not at all. I’ve had the odd prescription in my life but my only medicine at the moment is normal food.

4. When was the last time you used a disposable camera?

I think that would be at a wedding I went to quite a few years ago. Each table had about three disposable cameras with instructions on them to “take as many photos as you can”. I think it was a great idea and I can imagine there were some amazing photos of the guests and happy couple.

5. When was the last time you flew on a plane?

Oh dear – that is a depressing question. It was back in September 2019 when we were returning from the lovely Greek island of Kefalonia. I am determined to go abroad in 2022.

6. How many first cousins do you have?

I only have three first cousins, all of whom still live in Walsall, the town of my birth.

7. What’s the longest period of time you’ve gone without sleep?

The nature of my job means that I have, in the past, had to work overnight in some far off places, meaning that I have a combination of jet-lag and night-shift blues. I think my record, way back in the mid-2000s is about 30 hours. 

That was a one off, and I volunteered to do it to sort things out. I have never done it since – nor would I.

8. Did the house you grew up in have a big yard?

The house I lived in from the age of about 9 until 19 had a long back garden that my dad turned into a huge vegetable patch. He grew so many different vegetables that he had to give them away to friends. 

9. What has been the most difficult class you’ve ever taken?

I think that honour goes to a pure maths course at university called “Rings and Modules”. My degree is in computer science and statistics and I was really keen to ditch all maths modules. Sadly I couldn’t and, because I was very good at maths, I was thrust into two courses that were quite hard. “Rings and Modules” made no sense to me, even when I was revising it for the exam. In the end, I managed to somehow scrape a pass – but it was so hard.

10. What’s something that’s much more difficult than a lot of people realise?

I would say creative writing. Some people have told me that “writing is easy” and writing a novel would be something that they could easily do. However, I disagree and having read some written work by these people, I think that they have discovered the hard way.

11. What are some things a house would need to have for you to purchase it?

That depends where I am living. In the UK I am quite happy with the house I have at the moment. It has three bedrooms, a lounge and reception room, kitchen, bathroom and garden. If I won the lottery I would want something bigger with more rooms available for specific things, like a games room, an office room and perhaps an extra bedroom. However, deep down, I know that I wouldn’t need that so I am quite happy to stay exactly where I am.

12. Would you ever go out in public wearing pyjamas?

No. I have answered the door in pyjamas but with a dressing gown on.

13. Have you ever had a lemonade stand?

No. We don’t do that in the UK.

14. Do you think you look older or younger than your real age?

I definitely look younger. Here is a recent photo so judge for yourself. I am 59 years old by the way.

15. Where have you lived throughout your life?

I sent the first nineteen years of my life in Walsall, followed by three years in Liverpool. I then moved to Manchester for a year and then the small town of Altrincham (about nine miles south of Manchester) for about fourteen years. I then moved back to Manchester and have lived here ever since.

Saturday 4 December 2021

Even More Penpals

Greetings from a rainy and miserable day here in South Manchester. December is upon us and with it all of the horrible weather that comes with it. The days are getting shorter and colder but at least we are approaching Christmas, a time of year that helps to haul me from the doldrums that winter usually inflicts upon me at this time of year. I only have nine more days at work before I can take a couple of weeks off. That too will raise my spirits.

Enough of those winter blues – shall we answer some silly questions from Sunday Stealing

1. What are your plans for December

As I said above, I have two more weeks of work, give or take a day or two, before I take a couple of weeks off. There are no official Christmas parties this year again but unlike last year, the annual work pub crawl will be taking place. Also, I will be out and about a few times with friends and pending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Blackpool with Mrs PM’s parents. I will see my two lads in between Christmas and New Year. I just need to get some Christmas Shopping done – something I don’t really like doing but has to be done. I also imagine that I will be overindulging on food and drink and putting on weight as a result. Finally, I will start to plan what I want to achieve in 2022 – that will be fun as I have big plans.

2. How do you celebrate your wins/success

I usually celebrate with a beer if I can. I’m not really a fan of wild celebrations these days because, as I get older, I prefer things to be more low-key. I still have fun though.

3. Are holiday movies only for the holiday season

Yes – definitely. Call me Scrooge McMancunian if you want but I am not really a fan of Christmas films. There are obviously a couple of exceptions like Die Hard and I quite like Bill Murray in Scrooged (until the gushy ending that is) and It’s a Wonderful Life but mostly I don’t watch them.

4. What would you consider a waste of money

I consider anything that is a normal item but has a colossally ridiculous price because it is a “brand” a complete waste of money. On our last trip to London this year, I took Mrs PM to Harrods because she had never been there and we walked around the shop gaping at the crazy prices of normal everyday objects. A lot of the goods on offer didn’t have any price tags on them – you had to ask. And to be honest I didn’t want to ask. Some things “on offer” were ridiculous. 

I know some people who splash out large sums of money for things like handbags. I’ve just asked Mr Google about overpriced items and it has come back with some that are just crazy:

£645 for Gucci trainers.

£1890 for a Gucci handbag.

£14,900 for a Hermès handbag.

£15,500 for a Pierpaolo Piccioli gown

And there are zillions more examples.

5. What do you like to eat for breakfast

It depends on the day. Monday to Friday I have fruit for breakfast, usually a banana, an apple and either a coupe of plums or a nectarine or peach. At the weekend, I usually have bacon and eggs with toast and it I am feeling like pushing the boat out a little, I have sausage too.

6. How do you feel about poetry

Bizarrely I just wrote a terrible poem as part of my daily freewriting routine and, no, I am not going to share it with you. I wrote a blog post about poetry once and in that post, I kind of half-criticised poetry, which is perhaps unfair. I love song lyrics and they are a form of poetry but I hate pseudo-intellectual poems that are meaningless. I love funny poems though. I will reproduce a couple of poems from that post that I actually wrote.

The first was for a birthday card for an old friend of mine who had turned 50:

A new decade's upon you; it's your 50th today.

The little hair that you have left will soon be turning grey.

You still play squash and cycle, to cling onto your youth.

But soon your muscles will give way, along with every tooth.

And when your gums are toothless (and chewing is a chore)

The only food you'll manage will be sucked up through a straw.

You take your lady dancing (Mimi is her name)

But believe me, waltzing's tricky when you use a zimmer frame.

Your pension is approaching more quickly than you think.

But forget that for the moment - we'll buy you lots of drink

To wish you HAPPY BIRTHDAY and, if I may be so bold,

To make sure you remember, Bill, that you are VERY OLD.

The next one is a pseudo intellectual piece of crap called The Loquacious Figment:

I contemplated the torso of a despondent galactic masterpiece

And my heart thanked my voracious sight.

I hastened my swiftness, disoriented by my awareness

Yet somehow did not submit to fright.

The final piece of crap is another pseudo-intellectual’s dream called The Enigmatic Equation:

The imperceptible formula, cloaked in derangement,

Struggles to reveal its worth.

Yet the analyst blindly persists in frustration

Anticipating its Caesarian birth 

I hope you agree that they are absolute garbage.

7. Are you shy

Yes. I am shy. You wouldn’t think so if you were to meet me because I am in a constant war with inner shyness and these days I take it on charging in like a man possessed. What you would experience from me would be a smiling, happy and inquisitive chap who will ask you lots of questions about how you are, trying his best to keep the conversation flowing. Underneath that façade is a man who is in constant fear of asking the wrong question, worried about offending you and nervous about what you will ultimately think of him.

It is a constant battle dear reader – but at least on the outside I am winning.

8. Do you take time to reflect on your goals

Yes – usually at this time of year. I will, as usual, write a summary of 2021 in a couple of weeks and you will see what I wanted to achieve this year – whether I failed or not. I do okay though.

9. Something you are curious to know more about

I am naturally a curious person (in both senses of the word) and I want to know more about anything that I am not an expert in. To be fair, I am not an expert in a lot of things, which makes me keen to learn about a lot of things. If something grabs my interest, I will pursue it in order to find out more.

10. Something that makes you feel fancy

I guess wearing a penguin suit – like this one take in 2010.

11. How you’re still handling the pandemic

In the UK we are largely restriction free although with the arrival of Omicron we now have to wear masks on public transport and in shops. I am enjoying the relative freedom compared to this time last year when we were fully locked down. Also, I have had three Covid-19 jabs (Pfizer) so the hypochondriac within me is asleep for now. 

I am missing travelling though and we have started making tentative plans for 2022. I just hope that Omicron doesn’t spoil the party.

12. A close friend you’ve never met in person

I have met all my close friends. I have encountered many people online via the blog and various places I frequent – I would be quite happy to meet them in person, subject to the limitations of my answer in question 7 of course. 

13. Do you get in on trends early or later

Usually later because I think some trends fizzle out. This is particularly true of electronic devices. I am a huge technophile but you will never find me queuing for the latest devices. I prefer to let them bed in and become established because I know that sometimes the first versions are poor and you have to wait for all the wrinkles to be ironed out.

14. What is something you do on a regular basis

I go for a walk every day if I can, I write jibberish in my freewriting journal, I try to learn a little Spanish every day and I try to learn something new every day.

15. Do you enjoy spending time with family

Yes. In fact I am going to the city centre to go for a meal with my eldest lad and his girlfriend. I don’t see my youngest son that often but I will be seeing them both over the Christmas period.