I have made one of these blogs before, but messed it up when I tried to remap the domain. I decided it was easier to start over than try to sort out the mess, although really I decided to remake the site. I was going to keep a blog all by myself, but as soon as my wife saw what I was doing she wanted to be part of it. We do everything together. We have matching shell suits that we wear at the weekend. Mrs McMuffin wears pink, and mine is a lovely shade of blue, which is a boys colour, by the way. Don't make any mistake about this, I am all man. Anyway, enough of that...I am not sure what I am going to write about, but I am going to try to make at least one entry every day. Welcome to our blog...
I was surprised to finally find out what the latest royal scandal is all about from the front page of The Sun. I thought there was some kind of gagging order in place. Apparently Prince Charles was caught in a 'compromising position' with a manservant. I wonder what they mean? Prince Charles giving someone a blow job? Who really cares about this stuff? I suppose this is some kind of Princess Di backlash, which reminds me of the theory that my sister had when Natalie Wood died. Do you remember that Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood's husband, used to star in a detective series with Stephanie Powers in the 1970s, well my sister was convinced that Wagner and Powers conspired to murder their respective partners so that they could be together. She did not think it was a coincidence that shortly after Natalie Wood accidently drowned, Powers' long time partner, William Holden, also died, in some kind of accident involving a coffee table. Absolutely nothing we said could persuade her from her theory, she would merely nod sagely and say, "I think the facts speak for themselves."
me and my ipod
I am so excited. I woke up early today. I am going to the Mac Expo in London with my friend, Ms Victoria Sponge. That, of course, would be reason enough for excitement, a day off work and lots of Mac stuff. But, no, the real reason is that Mrs McMuffin has agreed that I should buy myself an iPod. She actually acted a bit like a pod person herself. Mrs McMuffin usually poo poos my techi-gadget desires, but this time, for some unfathomable reason, she readily agreed, and to confuse me even more, she suggested that I should get the 40GB version as it probably represented better value for money in the longer term! I did have to promise to love it and to feed it and to clean up after it and to take it for walks, but that shouldn't be too hard for me to do. What is going on? You think you know someone and then they do something you don't expect. Maybe it's some kind of test. Maybe I am supposed to decide not to buy one because I really don't need it. Maybe at some point in the future I will be able to point back to this day and say that is when our relationship ended, the day Mrs McMuffin agreed to me buying an iPod.
Who knows. All I know is that I am off for a hard day of all things Mac.
By the way, I also mentioned to Mrs McMuffin that Apple had released a 20" flat panel iMac, but she didn't seem to be very impressed.
oh, the fingerprints
I have now returned from Mac Expo. Ms Sponge and I had a great time. Lots of lovely stuff for us to see and play with. I did manage to get myself a good deal on an iPod and an iTrip too. I couldn't wait to get home so that I could play with them. I have now charged it up and have been playing with it while. It is truly lovely. The iTrip works fine, and the sound quality is about what I'd expected - FM radio quality. Not bad and certainly something you can listen to. The iPod is even better than I had expected. The usual ease of use that I have come to expect from Apple is certainly there, and, of course, the beautiful design. The remote control is a work of art. But, the fingerprints are already driving me to distraction. I have resolved only to handle it with gloves on...Which may sound a bit weird to someone who has never handled one of these things, but to have all that beauty marred by greasy fingerprints is a sin against the design gods...Fortunately, fingerprints do not affect the sound very much.
I have already been toying with the idea of hacking it so that I can remove the volume cap. However, I am going to play with it a bit longer before doing that, because I am sure that I will muck it all up at least once, and have to reset it all. That seems to be par for the course for me.
messing with his mind
Poor Mr McMuffin, can you sense the unease in his last post? As a dutiful wife I like to anticipate his needs and wants to make life as smooth for him as possible. However I'm not sure he truly understands this central plank of our relationship. Don't you think he sounded a little shocked that I encouraged him to get his little gadget thing? It almost seemed as if he expected me to have a say in the matter. This bothers me immensely. What kind of little woman would I be if I made him seem less of a man by expecting him to involve me in purchasing decisions? He is the head of the house, the provider and needs his techno thingies to relax, every good spouse should know this.
All this worried me so much that I gave the tupperware a good clean, and sewed some new gingham curtains. What is the world coming to if men ask women what they think? Before you know it women will be aping men-going out to work, earning their own money, having control of their own lives. I think that this is a greater threat than the axis of evil that nice Mr Bush talks about. Golly, I hope my children don't grow up thinking men and women can be equals. Anyway I must go now, I think Mr McMuffin needs me to gaze at him adoringly for the next ten minutes.
handy hints for homemakers
Every now and again I like to get in touch with my inner housewife, and thought I would share with you my hard won hints.
First of all, Quentin Crisp was right about dusting. Don't bother, it never gets any worse.
Second hint: Buy a big house so you can fill a couple of rooms up with rubbish. This gives the appearance of tidiness in the rest of the house. Remember to always keep the doors shut.
Third hint: Spray bleach rocks. It will clean anything. Don't use it on your fridge or radiators unless you like the rusty spot contrast. Just think, if it's doing that to metal, what is it doing to your lungs?
Finally, life is too short for housework unless you have people coming to visit. It concentrates your mind wonderfully and you can achieve results very quickly. If you don't want to die of botulism poisoning or collapse under the weight of bedbugs I can recommend inviting friends over weekly. You also get a reputation for being gregarious and hospitable, and they have no idea that you're just using them.
Just had Mr and Mrs Carrott-Cake round for dinner. We had a lovely time, it was good to see them. I cooked a great meal, even if I do say so myself. We started with individual onion and tomato tarts and a balsamic and butter syrup. We then had cod with pesto wrapped in Parma ham, with a cannelloni bean mash and asparagus. The pudding was a fantastic cake made from almonds and pine nuts. We had lots and lots to drink, and lots of chocolate too. I feel a little bit drunk right now, and I am not so sure that this entry will make much sense in the morning. Took round some of the cake to Mrs McMuffin's sister who lives a couple of doors away.
Had a bit of a shock when Ian asked me how my new iPod fitted in with the Zire 71 PDA that I have. Mrs McMuffin has always said that I need an IT strategy. I suddenly realised that I don't have one. The iPod seems to have many of the features of the Zire 71, although you can't write to it in the same way. Maybe it is true and I am just a gadget boy.
We have organised our New Year, and are now going to stay with Mr and Mrs Carrott-Cake. I think Mrs Carrott-Cake has some idea about hosting a murder mystery event, or something like that. But, that may have been the drink talking. In any event, it seems that we are going to stay with them on New Years eve. Last year Mrs McMuffin and I decded to stay in and have a quiet time. It was probably the most boring New Years we had ever had. At midnight, we had a half-hearted attempt to have drink to celebrate the new year, but we gave up and went to bed, slightly depressed. We swore that we would never try the quiet night in stuff again.
It is 3.20am and that is all for now. I must get to bed.
But, before I go, I note to Mrs Carrott-Cake: don't feel too bad about upending a full glass of red wine all over the white linen table cloth. Spray bleach and a boil wash has saved it.
I thought it was time that I introduced you to the bane of our life: Slinky. Slink is our neighbour's cat. He is a 10 years old Burmese. When we first moved in, he would timidly slink around us in that way that cats have, so we called him Slinky. That, of course, is not his real name. Now, he treats our house as an extension of his own and he seems to think that we belong to him. I don't know if you know much about Burmese but they have been bred to need the company of human beings. They are much more like dogs than cats. He insists on being as close to you at all times, regardless of what you are doing, and often this will involve him sitting on your shoulder or, as he did on one occasion, on the top of my head. Add to this a cry that sounds uncannily like a human baby crying for food, and he is impossible to resist. He can keep up a cry for as long as three hours until you finally crack under the pressure and let him have whatever he wants. Fortunately, all he usually wants is to sit on our lap.
A Slink story: one night Mrs McMuffin and I were sitting watching TV. We could hear Slink crying outside our window, but couldn't be bothered to get up to let him in. Suddenly there was a crash against the window. I went to the front door to see what had happened. There was Slink waiting, and as he trotted into the house it was clear he had a slight limp. I can only assume that he had thrown himself against the window in a desperate attempt to get into the house.
How could anyone resist that?
Mr McMuffin is normally not a fool. I was stunned to see that he had put the Slink's photo on our page. Is it not enough that the heartless cat has taken over our lives, he has clearly got Mr McMuffin involved in his plan for world domination. Don't look into his eyes. That's all I have to say on the matter.
I now feel a Morrissey quote coming on: Every day is like Sunday, every day is silent and grey....
It has been one of those days today. The great British Autumn has finally arrived and it's dull, wet and horrible. I haven't been outside at all. It reminds me of how Sundays were when the shops were closed, and going back to school never seemed as appalling as it did in the summer. Frankly it's very depressing.
I was listening to a radio program about happiness, and I think one caller got it almost right. Basically it was about loving and being loved, being concerned about others, and having something in the not too distant future to look forward too. He didn't mention the weather.
just another manic monday
But clearly Sunday isn't my fun day. What a day. Why does everyone seem to want to dump/abuse their children over the weekend? We're torn between telling parents that we don't want their children when they'll gladly offer them up, and trying to take battered kids away from parents who are concerned that their punchbag might not stay with them. Thank God for the vast majority of OK parents, and those that just need a little bit of support to get back on track.
As you may gather, this is a little stressful. I like to remind my own parents about how they failed me, making me beleive that public service was an honour, rather than advising me to enter the money markets. 6 years at university for this.
Anyway, Mr McMuffin makes it seem manageable, soothing my troubled brow and cooking me lovely food. Thank God for him and books to take my mind of it all. Have just re read "Flicker" by Theodore Roszak and am now re reading "The Second Angel' by Phillip Kerr. There's a bit of a book drought in the McMuffin household, must go shopping.
Was going to comment on music that I like. I don't really support his choices, only being able to bear "Time stand still" by Rush, although Queen don't make me boke too much. At some point will comment on the good live acts I've seen, although can't top Mr Mc Muffin's account of taking a dwarf with him!
dumping and thumping
Having read yesterday's post, I realise I sound a little jaded and cynical. I am, but I do wish to point out that I do beleive that people can make positive changes, or I wouldn't be doing my job. None of my clients will ever read this, but I did think about how they might feel about my description of 'dumping' their children. I have to say I felt a bit ashamed of myself. I really don't think anyone would want to hand their child to Social Services if they really beleived that they had other options, I guess it's my job to point those options out, and not judge too harshly. It is easy to blame people for not doing a good job, but my friends and family (who do a very good job with their children) still find it hard.
My sister and her husband have raised two wonderful children with love, firmness and a lot of soul searching! they also had the advantages of good enough parenting, good education and a decent standard of living. I am in no way minimising their achievements, but often think how much harder it must be to do this when your history has been characterised by abuse, physical and intellectual poverty. I realise that this seems a little sanctimonious and serious, but when the guilt hit, it hits me hard-of course that's nothing to do with my own pathological experiences!
Anyway, whatever. I am very much looking forward to my neice's 13th birthday party on Friday. I beleive that there will be a disco, and I very much want to disabuse her of her childish notion that I have any cool by strutting my funky stuff in the company of her other cool aunt. Love her! She's fantastic. She's been able to satirise and mock since she could talk. Her brother's very funny too, and they make quite a team. How can she be a teenager already? I could go on, but I don't think she would thank me for sharing any more of her life.
I think I just have to accept that while I don't mind getting older, it's still a shock to see that the children I love are getting older too. Sometimes I can convince myself that I'm still looking pretty good, but a couple of weeks ago I had an experience that foiled that feeble attempt at self delusion. I was sitting having lunch with my sister in a cafe, and two policemen stopped outside the window. I know you can see where this is going. Yes they did look like children, and yes, I did feel old. What did make it worse was the nice, elderly couple to my left who whispered conspiratorially 'Oooh, you feel it too, don't you, love? Makes you feel old when they look so young". Frankly I was not prepared for inclusion into their septugenarian world, so I shot them. Of course I didn't, I'm British, and I don't have a gun. I merely smiled sweetly and agreed. Ta for now.
i am a wednesday's child
and I am full of woe. Another shabby day at work. Enough of my 80 hour week, you must be as bored as I am. I do feel a responsibility to make daily posts as Mr McMuffin is shirking his duties. Thankyou to Single Cookie for her wise words. When are the rest of you gits going to take the time?
I had an interesting experience with Mr McMuffin yesterday when I picked him up from work. He had been on a course in central London and had a couple of pints afterwards. He is quite affected by alcohol, and it exacerbated his fear of my driving. Now let it be said I am not a bad driver. I am the proud owner of a full motorbike and car license and no points. From my mad days of screaming round on a Stan Stephens tuned 2 stroke (350LC for the afficionados) I have become a very sensible driver. However MrMcMuffin's anxiety reached new proportions and he started to fake brake about 100 yards before I needed to do anything, with a terrified expression on his face. I have found a new way to mess with his mind, and now plan to only take him out in my car if he's had enough alcohol not to feel sober and very slightly anxious. I am not naturally cruel, but sometimes it is too hard to resist.
she must really hate me...
Why would the woman that I love want to frighten me with her erratic driving? It is a mystery to me. Don't pay any attention to her claims of super-drivedom, she is nothing more than a girl-racer, with a death wish...apparently a wish for my death. I might as well admit the truth that sometimes I can fake-brake, but hey, who hasn't done that when they are facing certain death at the hands of a maniac driver. I think I need to say here that I was not drunk...I had only had two pints...I was completely compos mentis, and I think it was completely reasonable to be in fear of my life, under the circumstances.
have i mentioned...
Anyway, have I mentioned that I have a lovely new iPod? It is fantastic, and it has reawakened my love of music. I thought that I had grown out of it...But, I am suddenly excited by the music that I am playing. I have rigged up an old set of computer speakers...just a 2:1 Cambridge Sounds set...into the iPod dock and they sound fantastic. I have decided to get rid of my stereo proper. Who needs more...?
when i was a child
I think I am suffering from posting frenzy...just while dinner is cooking mind you...I know I can handle it...I just wanted to say something about my life as a child...something amusing, of course...Don't worry, it has never been my intention to bring you down...Oops...dinner is ready...
just another day
I have made what I hope are some subtle changes to the site, but html is a bugger and I am struggling to get to grips with it. I can easily make it do some things, but I cannot seem to work out why certain things don't work...Have another look at our lovely 'about us' page.
I really needed to have some time with my beloved imac this evening. What a day this has been. I am not sure many people really understands the emotional impact of managing a team of people. Today I had to manage a team meeting where I had to tell everyone off for the about of money they were spending, and threaten to put in place some pretty draconian measures. Fortunately, for them or maybe for me, they accepted what I had to say...It really is exhausting work. Added to this, I think I might be losing my job soon...Finding another job shouldn't be a problem, but who wants to be cast aside like a used condom?
Got to go now, but I am sure that my beloved, Mrs McMuffin will have some thing to add...
hah! that's a bad day?
Don't want to disparage MrMcMuffin's bad day, but that is small beer compared to my management problems. We are a small team of 9 within a much larger team. We have not had an overall team manager for about 6 months, and all the duties have fallen on Ms Ginger Cake and I. Add to this an unprecedented amount of child protection work, one social worker leaving tomorrow, two workers on the verge of a breakdown and stacks of illness, and we are a mess.
Thankfully other managers have taken this seriously, but there's not much they can do about the volume of work and the unwillingness of other qualified and suitable workers to get into or stay in this line of work. I fantasise about working on the deli counter at Tesco's. This has been a longstanding dream of mine from when I was in residential work, I used to love the idea of always going home at the end of the day. I get to do that now, but it's so late I might as well stay over! Ms Ginger Cake and I have joked about setting up hammocks in our new office, it's worth a thought, but what would I do without Mr McMuffin's contented little snores?
it's been a while...
It seems like ages since I last posted anything, but really it has only been a few days. I think this is indicative of my life at the moment. Everything seems to move past in a blur, unless, of course you are talking about my journey to work, which today took nearly two hours: 20 minutes for the first 10 miles and 1½ hours for the second 10 miles! I hate driving. The only thing that has provided me with some comfort is my iPod. I finally managed to find a clear FM radio frequency [96.1] and I was able to listen to my tunes the whole way to work without any interference. I have now removed all of my CDs from my car, having decided that I no longer need them. I am now engaged in the mammoth task of transferring all of my music on to my iPod. I didn't realise that I had so much. No wonder I have no money.
The weekend was lovely. Mrs McMuffin went to visit her niece overnight on Friday. Her niece was celebrating her 13th birthday. So, I had the house all to myself on Friday night, and, as much as I love Mrs McMuffin, it was great. I watched X-Men 2 for the second time and had roast chicken. Both things that Mrs McMuffin would have frowned at. She didn't think much of the film, and I think she is a bit fed up of my chicken obsession. God played a cruel trick on chickens. S/he made them so tasty, and yet gave them such small brains, so they couldn't escape the pan. Just imagine if they had bigger brains...so tasty and clever, they would rule the world...
I then spent all of Saturday cleaning the house and cooking. I think Mrs McMuffin has said something about this before, but the trick to having a clean house is to ensure that you invite people over every couple of weeks. This Saturday we were having Mr and Mrs Beuf-Burger for dinner. Mr Beuf-Burger is a butcher, and a good one at that...So, I decided that we should have fish for dinner. The meal was lovely. I gave them an shallot and tomato tart with goat's cheese and a basalmic and butter syrup. It was lovely. The main course was cod, smoked salmon and pesto wrapped in parma ham, which may seem over the top, but worked really well together. I thought the salmon would help keep the cod from becoming too dry, and it worked.
After pudding, which I have mentioned before, of Amandine, although I have now improved the pudding by adding Amareto to the apricot jam glaze, we had figs stuffed with ginger and orange peel and covered in dark chocolate. I used to buy these, but decided that I was being robbed...I was right. They are so easy to make and, in fact a million times better...
Mr Beuf-Burger did something that I have never seen before. He brought a fantastic boned and rolled joint of lamb as a gift. I am used to people bringing flowers or chocolates, but this was easily the best gift that I have been given. I have never had anyone bring tomorrow's dinner before. By the way, we did eat it the next day, and it was fantastic...I am not sure you can ever have too much lamb...
I had an interesting telephone call from my little brother, he who named us McMuffin, in fact. He was calling to see if it was okay for him to come to us for Christmas dinner. This was strange because I invite him all the time, and he is usually so busy with work, he has a high powered job bossing people around, that he is rarely able to visit us. I am looking forward to him coming. It will be great to see how him with our other friends and Mrs McMuffin's parents on Christmas day.
I don't think I can write anymore. I have to get dinner ready for Mrs McMuffin. We are having some more lamb...
Yes, it was a hectic weekend, but jolly good. My niece is very cool, as is my little nephew-but he's still a cuddle monkey, which is nice.
I have thought of lots of interesting things to write, some other time! Must go now as tv beckons me. We're watching another episode of 24 (part deux) on dvd before 'Little Britain'. I shall then sleep if I'm lucky, as have been plagued by insomnia-that means only sleeping 5-6 hours instead of my usual 10. No wonder I am such a delight to be with.
I don't normally go silly about tv, but I loved 'LittleBritain'. I have been driving everyone mad by going round saying, 'I am the ONLY Gay in the village' all day. If this makes me a sad figure, then so be it. I know what makes me laugh.
I am sitting here typing with the Slink on my lap. He seems to be under the mistaken impression that I can give him access to food, and was waiting on the doorstep for me. Do anti stalking laws apply to cats? Anyway he stops screaming if I pick him up or let him sit on me, so that's what he's doing.
I made reference yesterday to some interesting things I could write, but I have reconsidered this. Surely the point of a blog is to let your friends know about the inconsequential trivia of your life? In any case if I wrote something really good one time, it would raise expectations and I would be forced to try and repeat it. That sounds like a very bad idea. For example if Mr Rock (sexydancingpornoboy) Cake was to write about his kayaking in Nepal then my life would seem even more dull. Anyway, reading something boring by me is a public service-you should feel inspired to be creative or do something interesting.
eating and sleeping
Single cookie is right. All we do is eat and sleep. Even our eating is becomong predictable, have you noticed that Mr McMuffin's last two menus are the same? I have mentioned the weather before (I am so British) and I do beleive that it has a massive effect on our moods and energy. The cold and dark over the winter is great for a few weeks, and then it just drags and grags, and I get more and more depressed.
I really thought I'd hit on something last year by having such light curtains that I got as much light as possible in the mornings to help. It did help a bit, but then comes the time when there is no light before you get to work, and it's pointless. Thank God I don't live any further north, I'd take my own life or go postal.
Driving up North on Friday was awful, I swear the sun set an hour earlier, and I got an extra hour on the way back. The Neice's aunt (Dad's side) felt the same way, we mocked the North mercilessly. I particularly liked her description of it as smelling of coal dust.
We also thought they talked funny, weren't very friendly, and were jealous of us sunny natured southerners. I am reminded of Mr McMuffin's fine observation that hailing from as far north in Scotland as is possible before you turn into a Shetland pony, my northeners are in fact softy southerners to him. No wonder he is so miserable, and finds anything over 24 degrees unbearably hot.
In fact my own sister is a Northener by birth, although we are usually far too tactful to mention it. My other one is an Hampshire Hog, me a Berkshire Bump. Add to this being raised by Welsh parents, who spoke their own unique version of that ancient language and we have a recipe for identity issues! Was I the only person who was upset when England won the rugby and made such a fuss of that boy's foot? Neil Jenkins, now he had a boot..... Even Mr McMuffin confessed that he never supported England, possibly because his family would hang him, but more likely because he hates all forms of sport and was trying not to upset me.
In fact the great Mr McMuffin has been a good husband who has kept his word to me. He got an ipod on condition he fed it and took it for walks, and so he has. That poor little thing is stuffed to the gills with
MP3's (AAC's) and has gone everywhere with him recently. I'm beginning to think he loves it too much.
I am sitting here at 7am trying to motivate myself to get ready for work. I have already missed my traffic slot, and now my journey will take ages. I have just looked at my work email, and I have answered an odd email from admin who have told me that I and my team have been filling in our timesheets wrong, for over two years! Apparently we have got to record our lunch hour, even though we do not get paid for it. This is why I hate my job. At least I am going out tonight with the team for an early Christmas meal. That should be fun.
Ah well, must get ready...
Guess who's got an extra long weekend? I have. When I finally left work at 8.30 tonight, it was with a sense of achievement, not because I have done so much, but because I won't be back until Tuesday. I am so looking forward to having some time to myself. i might have the space to think about something else to write about, I notice my posts are a bit work/weather/food obsessed. I did get two heartfelt thankyou's today, and a card last week, so at least 3 clients think I'm doing ok. It helps offset the others (mostly other professionals) who think we are scum, and stops me thinking about all the other lives I haven't interferd in enough. Hurrah, it's over now for a few more days.
I do think it's important to mention a few posting etiquette points; no swearing, nastiness or real stupidity. I mention this, not because anyone has done this to me, but because I have been guilty. Some weeks ago I had two glasses of wine and went on a blogging frenzy. I found a really interesting blog with lots of debate on current policy in Iraq. It was clearly written by well meaning and well educated people in the US, and I really wanted to comment. I wrote what I thought was a very interesting piece on the differences between the USA and UK reaction to the war/genocide and linked this to the fundamental differences in our conceptions of what being Liberal costituted.
After posting, I realised that I had gone off at a bit of a tangent. I then wrote a new response to apologise for my stupidity, and then made some unwarranted comments about Blair being misguided, but Bush being a thick wanker. When I read the calm and measured response (and I had even said that I wondered if the USA jingoism that we observed was linked to the workings of a relatively immature democracy) I felt very ashamed. What gave me the right to be so rude to these nice people? It's not their fault that their country's foreign policy (like ours) is fundamentally flawed. They were openly and honestly debating this, and I was just rude. I would never be so crude in person, and they were largely anti-war. I shall never do this again, and in fact I wore a hairshirt for the next week, and self flagellated regularly. Let my penance be a warning to you all, a cautionary tale.
I'm so frightened of them I can't even put the word in properly. We have been found by the google arachnid, and namechecked on a couple of blogs. This is very small beer to a lot of committed bloggers, but I have to confess it made me feel a little strange.
It does make me reconsider why we do this. I think we both got a little carried away with the idea that we could. Then, in the original version (now gone forever) it all felt a bit too personal and as if we had exposed too much of ourselves. We did decide to anonymise it further, and that we could look on this a bit like a diary, which neither of us have ever kept. The weirdness is people we don't know seeing this. Not that I think that they are any different to us, I like to check out other blogs, but that's me reading them! I'm in control! Not sure how to feel about this. I know blogging is public, but it felt private! I shall have to think a little bit more about this, obviously.
On a different subject, I am reading "All quiet on the western front" for the first time. I was convinced that I had read this before, even knew it was all about war being hell and changing the young forever, having an experience which those not sharing it never able to understand etc etc. But I had NEVER read it. I'm beginning to worry now about what I actually have read. I read so much I always thought it was more likely that I would forget I had read a book, not remember a book I hadn't read. Anyway, It's good and very short. Not really value for money. Give me Peter F Hamilton's space operas (and I mean that in a good way) and I'll show you value.
I have noticed this disturbing tendency quite a lot as I get older. Theoretically, I understand a little about how memory operates, but it's not nice being your own subject. My Hampshire Hog sister (Treacle Tart as she prefers to be known) and I have both experienced stealing each other's best anecdotes and really thinking that they are our experiences. With such a small age gap between us, we often think we had a twinnish time, but this stuff does give us the creeps.
If I start relaying a fascinating account of my night on the tiles in Kirkwall at some later date, you'll know I've begun stealing from Mr McMuffin and to disbeleive everything I say. (That doesn't look right, please make allowances for my poor spelling, but I really am too lazy to spell check.)
Goodnight everyone, friends and friends I haven't met yet alike.
PS What's even more strange is that I never call myself Mrs, always Ms, since I was 15. What's more is I really don't mind on this blog.
i had a strange experience today...
I went to see my psychotherapy supervisor today. I am a member of a small supervision group. The group started a couple of months ago, and this was the first time that everyone had attended the group at the same time. One of the people in the group is the spitting image of my friend. They look alike, sound alike, and what was even stranger, they had some of the same mannerisms too. I warmed to him immediately and he to me. I think part of what was going on had something to do with the fact that we are both Scottish. This never ceases to amaze me. Whenever I meet Scottish people we seem to share an immediate understanding about something that seems to be outside of my awareness. I guess you could call it culture. Over the years, and I have now been in England for 22 years, I have become aware that I share a common experience of being Scottish in England. Whenever, I meet other Scottish people our conversation inevitably turns to talking about the English and our experiences of being in England. The most notable thing that we all seem to have in common is the way in which we have had to alter the way we speak to fit in with the English. The Scottish, epecially urban Scottish, speak very fast, whereas the English, especially in the South, speak very slowly, although I am sure they do not realise this. I have lost track of the number of occasions when I first came down here that I have had to repeat myself over and over again to be understood. In fact, on one very memorable occasion, it still sticks in my mind even after 22 years, one very kind man said, "I can't understand a fucking word you're saying", and walked away from me.
The other experience that we have all had at one time or another, is to be accused of being aggressive. Now, I am happy to own the fact that on occasion, like everyone else, I can be aggressive, but this is different...What is being suggested is that we are all aggressive all of the time. Again, I think this has something to do with the differences in the way in which we speak. There is a certain, what can only be described as, bluntness in Scottish speech, which jarres with the English art of subtle understatement. I can only assume that it is this that is often confused with aggression.
It has been a long process for me, but I am slowly coming to the realisation that I am Scottish, and that this means that I am different from the English that surround me. I am very reluctant to mark my difference with flags and other Scottish tourist tat, but this difference is becoming important to me.
he's scottish alright
Mr MrMuffin is Scottish. That's no surprise to anyone that meets him, although in Scotland they tend to assume he's English due to his diluted accent. It is also true that a huge number of assumptions are made about how he behaves, and I include myself in that. I hadn't really known many Scottish people before, or ever visited Scotland, so I just thought he was a little different. Then I thought it was just his family, then I thought it was just the West of Scotland, then I realised it was pretty much all of them.
I mentioned the Welsh stuff before, but sometimes I wonder if that's a part of why we decided to be together. Not because I understand what it is like to be Scottish, but because he isn't English, and I do get that outsider stuff, having seen my parents go through it here. While they were relatively insulated by their race and class (they dragged us up to Middle), they were different, and people made assumptions about them based solely on their Welshness. They never complained, and let's face it they didn't have to cope with racist abuse or attacks, or the more subtle things like clutching your bag tighter when a Black man walks towards you, but they were different.
We're actually very good at doing this in Britain. For such a small bunch of countries we have so many ideas about each other, for example Scousers steal, Yorkshire people are miserable etc. So many of us have this as such a part of our identity that it gets fascinating. I had a friend who was of African Caribbean (Jamaican)/Polish Jewish heritage. Of course she was Black, but a big part of her identity was being Scottish, and more specifically Glaswegian. Funnily enough, she said people thought she was aggressive.
Segue to my day off yesterday, what did I do with that precious time? I got sick and spent the whole day drifting in and out of sleep. Slink thought he was in heaven as I was too weak to throw him out. I woke up to find him curled up next to me with the duvet over him, and his head on the pillow. I think he has problems with his identity. Too many years in close contact with people has convinced him he is some strange human-cat hybrid. he hasn't tried taking a bath yet, but he does like to be invited to dinner parties, and will scream until he is let in and allowed to take a lap. Obviously our chairs are too low for him.
Tomorow we are going to see my littlest bridesmaid and her lovely Mum. We haven't seen them for ages (our fault) and I'm very much looking forward to it. Slinky will no doubt be around, he also likes them, and didn't even flinch when the littlest bridesmaid misheard his name and called him Stinky.
Well I am going to bed now, it is quite late enough. I obviously need my rest as I think I am beginning to look a lot like a bag lady. I arranged a hair appointment today, and the friendly junior was keen to take my booking, but seemed very concerned with how much it was going to cost. She asked me how much I wanted to pay, and seemed very uncomfortable when I told her whatever it took. I wasn't really being reckless, it's a good salon but not pricey. By the time she'd booked me in with the second best stylist and given me a discount it came in at the £30 mark. She asked me again if it was ok. Now, I'm not a flashy dresser, but the long cardigan I was wearing cost £130 (not in the sale it didn't!) and nothing else about me looked wildly different, so I didn't quite get this concern with my wallet. Maybe she was just very nice, I hope so.
me and my ipod...an update
I am still very much loving my iPod. Since the 20 November I have spent every day feeding it new music and it is still not satisfied. I have given it 4518 songs, or 12 days of continuous music, and yet it wants more. Will it never end? I still have a couple of boxes of CDs upstairs, but what then? I have worked out that I will be able to get my entire music collection onto 8 DVDs. I love the future.
The only problem for me is that I have discovered the joys of iTunes, and all of it's organising capabilities. It is an anal dream come true. I will now have to spend the next year cataloguing my collection and ensuring that I have all of the album artwork etc...I think I might have to give up work if I am going to do it properly. I haven't mentioned this idea yet to Mrs McMuffin, but I am sure she will understand why it is necessary.
I've never really trusted them, although they do come number 3 in my list of least favourite activities, no.1 is seeing the dentist and no.2 being a cervical smear. however, I bit the bullet and had my hair cut yesterday by a lovely woman who proceeded to give me the exact cut I had told her that I didn't want but always seemed to end up getting. She also removed a foot of hair in the process from the length and very heavily layered the last 6 inches of my hair.
Why is it that there are only 2 types of hairdressers when you have long hair? The first type treat your hair as a national treasure and grade 3 list it, the second see it as a personal affront and try to remove it. Forget Steve Martin in 'Little Shop of Horrors', to make him truly evil he'd have to have a speculum and a pair of scissors.
Mr McMuffin has come up trumps and booked me in for some expensive repair work with the style director at Toni and Guy. Wonder which of the two camps they'll fall into? If I lose another foot it will almost be as short as his. I am beginning to feel very jealous of a friend with lovely low maintenance locks. She just gets them twisted every few weeks and never has to cut them. I shan't reveal her identity, but she had an early history as a jealous hair cutter, managing to persuade everyone that her cousin had cut her own hair off in the night. We are very good friends, but I secretly feared she would cut my hair off when we shared an appartment in Barcelona, and other long haired friends were also very anxious, even considering wearing bathing hats to bed. I guess I don't have anything to fear any more from her.... (If you're reading this haircutting one, you know I'm only joking, we weren't that frightened really)
mr mcmuffin is a bit non-plussed
I really am a bit non-plussed by all this hair-cutting thing. Two hair cuts in one week, and Mrs McMuffin doesn't seem in the least bit upset by the dogs dinner that has been made of her hair. I think really that she wanted to cut her hair short, and now she has the perfect, responsibility free, excuse to do that..."I had to have it done..." Ah well, at least now I won't find long hair in my pants when I go for a pee, which has got to be some kind of result.
I made some pickled grapes yesterday. There is still time to do this for Christmas. They only need to sit for a couple of weeks. This is what you need:
500gms of seedless black grapes
500ml of white wine vinegar
500gms of brown sugar
The rind of one lemon
two star anises
one vanilla pod
one stick of cinnamon
three juniper berries
And a 1 litre kilner jar, or other sealable jar to store the grapes in.
Wash and pat dry the grapes. Leave them on the stalks, but cut them into small bunches of four or five grapes. Place the grapes in the jar. Put all the other ingredients into a pot and bring to the boil. Boil for a couple of minutes, and then remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Pour the syrup into the jar, over the grapes, and seal.
The grapes can be eaten the next day, but they will be better if you store them in a cool place for a couple of weeks. They will last unopened for about 6 months, but once you open them you must eat them within four weeks. The perfect accompaniment to cheese.
I had what occured to me afterwards as a strange experience today at work. I was telling one of my male colleagues about my attempts to pickle grapes, and he was so taken with this that he asked for the recipe. I printed him off a copy from this site, and I told him that if he had any trouble getting juniper berries then I could let him have some. Now the strange bit of this whole thing was that I do not believe for one second, and I am having trouble even imaging it, that our fathers ever exchanged recipes at work. Maybe the world really is changing...
I got dragged into a meeting today. I knew about it, but had 'forgotten' to go. About an hour after the meeting had started, just as I was thinking that I had got away with it, the chair came and got me. What could I do but give in gracefully and go along with him. It was another strange experience, this room full of professionals all acting as if they could do nothing without me. They all seemed pathetically grateful for the morsel of information that I was able to give them. It would be too boring for you if I went into what it was all about...After the meeting I was cornered by a oddly intense American woman who wanted to try to put right any 'miscommunication' that may have occured between us. Again I was gracious to her, but really what I was thinking was, "why don't you just do your job..."
Sometimes being nice to people in this job is just too much effort. I think Hugh Grant put it best, "FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK..." Mrs McMuffin will be appalled at my outburst, but I am sure that after I expain it all to her, she will forgive me.
look at this
I was browsing some other people's blogs and found a link to this site. It is worth checking out. It features the most amazing photographs of Japanese city skylines.
I just can't seem to get this site to look the way I want it to. I am still figuring out how to do things with the design. So, occasionally some of the pictures look crap and the links don't work, but I will get there eventually...
Had an interesting experience today with a very nice lady from another part of the divison. My team is moving offices, and because we are so so important, there has to be emergency cover while we do this, the nice lady and another nice man are going to deal with emergencies during the day. We got chatting and it turns out that she went to college with and briefly worked with Mr McMuffin. I mentioned his name and that he was my 'husband' (still trying to use that word without sniggering) and her reply was "oh.....you're so lovely'.
I don't think they hit it off. She hasn't seen him for many years, and I'm sure she'd really like him now, but what do we do when we're not keen on partners of people we like? Being a bit of a Pollyanna, I try to find some redeeming feature, but I have to admit that some relationships have foundered because I just don't like the people they love. I can't help questioning their judgement, and judging them right back. Now that's really lovely.
I just love it.
what a day
Today has been a bit of trial for me and my beloved Mac. I got up this morning, switched on my machine, hoping to look at my emails, do a bit of surfing and the like, and I found that my machine had decided to scrap all of my preferences, my keychain, and god knows what else. I just couldn't get the thing to work properly. I was able to get on line, and on one of the forums found out that OSX has a nasty habit of scraping everything if you fill the hard drive. By coincidence, I received a warning telling me I had no space left last night. It has taken me a year, but finally I have found out how to break OSX. I have spent the day saving what I could, and have now completely reloaded the operating system. Unfortunately, I have not been able to save my bookmarks. I had automatically synced with .mac before I knew what was going on, and all I was left with was an empty file. It also did the same thing with my diary and address book, but I have them saved somewhere else. It has taken me a couple of years to build up those bookmarks and to organise them just how I liked. And to think, I was getting so good at backing things up too...A hard lesson, but one I am taking to heart. I am going to get myself an external hard drive and backing up everything from now on. The .mac automation is excellent, but is no good to me if it can't tell the difference between an empty file and one with data in it. My machine is running lovely now. Still a lot of work to do though. I still have to load on all of my apps again. But, for now, I am going to bed.
christmas is over
I love Christmas but I am always glad when it is over. It has been a hectic couple of weeks, but yesterday we lay around watching tv and now I feel able to leave the house in search of bargains. We had a full house for Christmas dinner. My brother did arrive bringing with him a Christmas cake that must weigh about 10LBs. He had a chef at one of his hotels make it for us. I like fruit cake, but what am I going to do with a thing this size. The dinner was a great success, even the pickled grapes. It all came together very nicely, although at one point I thought I was going to have to give them some crisps to tide them over between course because the meat just wouldn't cook. This sort of thing often happens to me. I have to do much of the preparation before we sit down because my capacity to organise and cook deteriorates with every glass of wine I drink. The only downer came when Mrs McMuffin's father, who hardly touches alcohol managed to get himself drunk enough to fall over in the bathroom and give himself a black eye. He didn't feel too good after this, and left a bit earlier than planned. I could see disaster looming when I gave him a bottle of fine single malt whisky. He decided that he didn't need another glass and poured a very generous shot into his empty wine glass. Mrs McMuffin then helped him on his way by accidently topping up his glass with some wine. He decided the whisky was too good to waste and drank the lot. He is 70 years old so you would have thought he would have learnt that kind of lesson before now. Apart from that, it was a lovely day, good company, nice food and drink, and lots of presents...
I have been neglecting my blog recently, but I am now trying to make up for that. I have spent the morning trying to make it look lovely again, but I have just messed it up some more, and have had to return it to its orginal state. Never fear, I will try again later. I am determined to get this site looking right.
i am done...
I forgot to mention that I have now put all of my music onto my iPod. It took me over a month. I have 7300 songs which is quite a nice little collection. I am now doing the sad computer boy thing of working out how to publish my collection on the internet. I never thought I would ever stoop so low. I could never see the point of putting lists of songs on the internet, but now that I have all my music in digital form and have put away my CDs, I find that I need some way of easily keeping track of the music that I have. It might as well be online as anywhere else, I guess. I have found this fantastic little app called iTunes Catalogue which does the job in a stylish way.
Once I was able to see all of my music together, I was shocked to find that it is all white rock. I have always prided myself on having a fairly catholic taste in music, but I was clearly deluding myself. Oh, sure, I have the odd hip hop album, some classic soul and a bit of classical, but none of this can hide the fact that I am a victim of my upbringing. I really am white rock boy. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it was a bit of a surprise...
me at home, again
I went back to work yesterday after the Christmas break. Didn't want to go, but had to I suppose. The masters in their wisdom had shut down the switchboard, so we received no calls at all during the day. I just pottered around trying to pass the time. I have a few things to do, but just couldn't seem to work up any enthusiasm for any of it. Today I decided to do some work from home, but it has been a funny day so far. Haven't been able to do anything, but mess around on my computer. I am still sitting in my dressing gown, but I think I am going to get dressed and go shopping. Got some cash at Christmas and I want to buy a Bluetooth headset for my phone. It has recently become illegal in the UK to use your mobile phone while driving, in fact it is illegal even to hold your phone while driving. What is the world coming to when governments think they have to intervene to stop stupid people killing themselves and other, perhaps less stupid, people?
It always takes me a while to get back into working after Christmas and I suppose this year will be no different. Ah, well...
the west wing
I have just seen my first episode of The West Wing. For some reason we have never been able to get our act together enough to watch it when it has been on TV. However, we bought the first two series on DVD in the sales after Christmas. It really is fantastic. I would vote for President Bartlett, in fact I am thinking of starting up a campaign to get him elected here in the UK. What a wonderful humane man he is. It got me thinking about George Bush. Is there a side to Mr Bush that we don't see in the UK, a side that is more apparent to those who live in the US? I have been looking at some blogs and it seems there are Americans who love Mr Bush and think he is doing a good job. My first thought when I see these is that they are poor deluded fools, but perhaps I am missing something...Anyway, I can't wait to return to the White House...
Talking of sales...I also got four series, all but the first, of Sex and The City on DVD today. They only cost £15 a series, which was too cheap for me to leave. Can't wait to watch them all again.
My viewing cup runneth over...
Just have a look at this. Someone has gone to a lot of bother to produce this great advert for the NS-5 'the world's first fully automated domestic assistant'. And it is fully three laws safe, for those of us who understand these things.
top 10 albums...ever
I have just finished reading Nick Hornby's new book 31 Songs. This is a lovely book made up of one of those lists that he usually suggests that laddish men like to make. Well, it worked, because it got me thinking about what my top 10 albums of all time were. I set myself some ground rules before I began. I decided that I would not include any compilation albums or greatest hits collections, although there have been a few of these over the years that I have played to death, and still play. There is one greatest hits collection that I return to time and time again. Does anyone remember a British group called Smokie, who had a whole series of hits in the seventies and early eighties with Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman penned songs. Smokie were never cool, but I loved their hits album, which if memory serves was really a best of culled from their first three albums. I did buy a couple of their albums over the years, but they could never sustain the momentum of their singles. I think part of the reason Smokie hold a special place in my heart, even though I can't include them on my list, is because I was introduced to them by the son of some friends of my parents. Billie came to stay with us for a while in 1975. We had just moved from Glasgow to live on some isolated islands in the north of Scotland. Billie had had a rough life. Both of his parents were alcoholics, and he used to talk about sleeping in an upturned wardrobe which he pushed up against the bedroom door to make sure noone could get into his room at night. Sadly he wasn't able to settle into island life and returned to his family in Glasgow after only a couple of months. I often wonder what happened to him. I don't imagine that it ever was anything good. By the way, Smokie are still going. I did a Google search and found that they are touring in South Africa this year.
This is my list of top 10 albums...ever. I haven't put them in any particular order. That would have been a hellish task. It was hard enough getting the list down to just 10 albums. I was going to write about my top 10 albums in one post, but I think that this would be too long, so I will write separate posts for each album.
It's been a long time since I wrote anything, but I have been busy. Between festivities and work, I haven't had much time for my favourite activities of reading and watcching TV, so have made up for lost time. I too have become completely obsessed by 'The West Wing', and making lists of my favourite films, books and albums.
My poor father has recovered well from his tangle with scotch, and we celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday. It was a bit low key as we're going to have a proper celebration soon when restaurant food returns to decent quality after Christmas.
Every year the arrangements get more difficult. This year I had a complicated set of New Year celebrations to consider. We planned to go to Mr and Mrs Carrot Cake but I was feeling a bit guilty about this as my sister and family were going to be down for New Year. As it happened I decided that we should keep our word to the lovely Carrot Cakes. Then they cancelled! We were then invited to the lovely Helen's but poor Mr Rock Cake was sick, so we gave up and stayed in. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda alright.
Am sort of looking forward to Rome (we're going on Thursday), my hesitation is around flying. My fears grow every time, and I am anxious for so long before, I wonder if it's worth it. I have also had dreams about planes, and really need to get a grip of this or I'll only be able to visit places I can reach by train. Eurostar is so good..... I suppose we could travel by boat, but I'm not very keen on them either. Gypst tart recommends 'Kalms', but I wonder if old fashioned Valium might be better. I took some about 10 years ago and made such a spectacle of myself at the airport that they pulled my luggage. They didn't repack it properly either, and I had to cope with crumpled linen clothes for a fortnight.
Well after an early night, I have found myself unable to stay asleep. I never had any problems until the last year, and have discovered that the advice is right, don't stay in bed under these circumstances, get up. One night I did this and never did get back to sleep. Having got up, I just thought I'd check our emails and found some comments from the lovely Single Cookie and Norah. Thankyou for your comments, i may try the Benylin approach-If it aids sleep following what I assume to be a night of heavy chemical consuption, then who am I to argue?
I found Norah's comment quite thought provoking-it seems we both have flying fears quite unrelated to terrorist activity, but I wondered if some North Americans have now developed a fear of flying because of this. After the terrible shock of the enormity of what happened, the terrifying speculation about what shape Bush's retaliation might take and the very real sympathy for the victims of this attack, most of us got on with our lives.
Most people of my generation have parents who lived through World War II and we also grew up fearing nuclear annihilation (spelt right?) and were used to bomb threats and attacks by the IRA. We knew that bad things could happen as we went about our daily lives, but I felt the threat reduce from the time of the reunification of Germany until the collapse of the USSR. Following the 11th September the threat seemed to increase hugely, but the biggest threat seemed to me to come from the need for the USA to do something to appear strong and unafraid.
I remember a lot of conversations about how it might remove the USA from what was seen as increasingly isolationist foreign policy and connect them to the rest of the world-we don't live on different planets-I don't think that this did happen in the best way at all. I suppose what I'm rambling on about is that in that essentially British way, we just got on with it. Within a month of the attacks on the USA Gypsy Tart and I went to Prague and I don't remember being any more frightened of getting on the plane than usual. I have flown many times since then, and apart from idle speculation about whether my destination increases any risk of terrorist attack (eg Spain were pro war, so a flight between the UK and Spain would have the dubious distinction of hitting two birds with one stone) it hasn't felt any worse. I am quite worried about the idea of armed air marshalls. I hate the thought of anyone being armed, and hate seeing foreign police with guns, it does not make me feel safer at all. I can't really imagine what they might do in the event of a hijack. I think we all know now that we're probably not getting off the plane under these circumstances, so there's a strong motivation to fight back and not allow access to the cockpit. The idea that they blend with other passengers is a bit stupid, they're ex army and Police, right? What are they going to do as a disguise? Scuff their shoes and put long wigs on? It's not a good idea is it? fortunately for me, my fear of flying prevents me from going long haul, and I think transatlantic flights count, so it's not really an issue at the moment.
I am trying to focus on the positives of flying as a means to an end, after all I get to see Rome and spend time with my lovely friends (not you, Single Cookie, promise to look the other way if I see you with your beau on your romantic weekend). I may also see Pompeii with Ms Carrot Cake and Mr Rock Cake, if they're up for it. I am also a bit scared of volcanoes, especially after Gypsy Tart told me it was ready to blow again, and you don't get any warning with this one.
Anyway, am going to try to sleep again. Night all.
top 10 albums hole: live through this 
By the end of the eighties I had decided that modern rock music was crap and I just stopped listening to it. My musical heroes were proper musicians and even though they didn't really make albums anymore I still had their back catalogues. It wasn't until I got together with Mrs McMuffin in 1994 and she introduced me to Nirvana that I began to suspect that maybe modern music did have some merit after all. It is hard to talk about Courtney Love and her band, Hole, without making some reference to her famous husband, Curt Cobain, and his band, Nirvana. There are many similarities between the two bands. Certainly they came out of the same developing music scene and share a common approach to making musical noise. Both are furious and rageful at the hurt that has been done to them in their lives and they are able to express this eloquently in their music. It occurs to me as I write this that maybe the two bands, and their leaders, need to be compared. In many ways, it seems to me that Nirvana represents a male approach to dealing with emotional pain, all outward turning rage and fury. While, Hole, on the other hand, seem to offer a more stereotypical female approach, where their rage and fury are turned inwards. Courtney Love brings a depth of emotional range which seems to be beyond her male counterparts in rock music at that time, with the possible exception of Billy Corgan and his band, The Smashing Pumpkins, although he has never been able to sustain this across a full album. I wonder if in part this helps to explain the way in which Courtney Love is reviled by the media. She doesn't seem to behave any worse or better than other, male, rock stars but she is often held up for ridicule in ways that they are not and her essential femaleness is often attacked: she is a slut or she is a bad mother. It is easier perhaps to ignore the way in which Curt Cobain expressed his pain, after all he killed himself, and after the initial shock, it is relatively easy to forget about him. Courtney Love is far more troublesome, she hasn't killed herself, and she continues to challenge people by confronting them with her pain and she has the talent and skill to articulate this through her music. Hole's last album, Celebrity Skin, was not particularly successful because, in their efforts to court public acceptance, they moved away from what they do best and they seemed to forget that their strength lies in Courtney Love's capacity to communicate what is important to her. It is this that separates Hole from the other mass produced bands that are around. I think Live Through This is the perfect example of Courtney Love's craft: it is rock music with soul. But, perhaps more than anything else, it is important to remember that this album needs to be played loud!
top 10 albums dolly parton, linda ronstadt & emmylou harris: trio 
There is not much to say about this album other than it is beautiful. It is a tribute to their talents as singers that these three long-established solo artists were able to get together to produce perfect three part harmonies devoid of grandstanding. There is nothing in the music which suggests that this is anything other than a group. The three voices gracefully entwine one another to produce a breathtakingly soulful sound. This is the work of people who like and respect each other and their joy at being able to make music together shines through every song. This is country music which transcends the genre, any genre for that matter.
top 10 albums david bowie: ziggy stardust 
I discovered David Bowie when I was about 16 or 17 years old. Sure, I had heard a few singles, it is kind of hard not to hear Bowie at some point. But it wasn't until I saw a rerun of the BBC Omnibus documentary 'Cracked Actor' that he suddenly came into focus for me. I know that it is a cliche to describe Bowie as 'other worldly' but that is exactly how he appeared to me at the time. He wasn't like anyone I had seen before. I don't think it was just his physical appearance, long and thin with different coloured eyes, it was probably more to do with his confidence in his own artistic vision. As I have grown older, and perhaps a bit wiser, I can now see some of the pompous pretension in what Bowie does, and his sometimes pathetic attempts to cover his own apparent feelings of inferiority by talking in solemn riddles. This doesn't stop me from still buying all of his albums. I think I am still trying to recreate the sense of wonder and belief in rock and roll that my first hearing of Ziggy Stardust raised in me. From the opening beats of Five Years to the pained wails of Rock 'N' Roll Suicide, all dressed up in glam rock clothes, music would never be the same again for me. I really didn't have any idea that music could be used to express feelings, other than the sickly sentimentality of some of the country music my parents listened to at the time. It really is a pointless excercise trying to analyse Bowie's lyrics, after all these were produced using cut and paste, rather our time is better spent 'wallowing in the mire' of emotions expressed through these songs. This is ART...I think Bowie has struggled ever since to articulate what he does.
top 10 albums AC/DC: Back in Black 
This is the sound of a band revitalised after the sudden death of their lead singer, Bon Scott, a couple of years before. Forget the somewhat dubious lyrics, this is bone-crunching rock with sing along choruses at its best. You will not find any sensitive ballads on this album, in fact, I don't think you'll find them on any AC/DC album. This really is music that is meant to be played loud.
pickled grapes again
I just thought it was important that you should know that I just found out that nearly all of my Christmas dinner guests, including my very own wife, lied to me about how much they had enjoyed the pickled grapes. It appears that no-one liked them except for me and my brother, and now I am beginning to doubt whether he liked them either...I will have to check it out with him. The grapes did look a bit funny, but I thought they tasted good. Ah well, back to the drawing board.
top 10 albums bruce springsteen: tunnel of love 
I always knew that Bruce Springsteen had something to say. I remember listening to Darkness on the Edge of Town, knowing that the lyrics meant something but not being able to understand his mumbled delivery. With Tunnel of Love, Bruce finally realised his potential. It is an album filled with stuff to say about men and their inability to articulate how they feel, not that this is something that Bruce ever suffers from. This is an album about ordinary men and the relationships that they have, with women, and perhaps most eloquently with their fathers. There is a sense of melancholy running through the album, a sense of lost opportunity. Forget all of the throw away power pop hit singles that Bruce has had over the years, this is the album that people will point to in the future as the one that proves Bruce really did have something to say.