Wednesday, 23 January 2008

It’s good to talk, isn’t it?

Bob Hoskins’ famous catchphrase from the BT commercial told us it was good to talk. Well someone also said that unless you have something interesting to say it is best to keep quiet, I think the latter is more sound advice.

We all have problems in life but it is how we deal with those problems that make it bearable or unbearable for those around us. In the past I have been that shoulder to cry on or the friend to lean on in times of trouble and I have relied on friends and family to listen to my problems but I like to think that I haven’t overdone it and bored my listener to tears (although that is for them to say).

Currently a friend of mine is having some problems and I listen to him vent his frustrations and talk of the future and what he plans to do when all his problems are behind him.

But you see the frustration is that most of it is talk with very little action.

I am currently in the middle of a ‘career break’ and have spare time. As it happens my friend has time free too. We are both bored and so we try to amuse each other by going out for the day or just talking over a cup of tea. The problem is that he talks and I listen and that dynamic never changes.

I have some problems of my own but I don’t tell people, with the exception of my sister and my girlfriend. The reason is because I don’t want people to start giving me advice that I don’t want and because most people, friends and family don’t really understand me and wouldn’t be able to sympathise with my problems.

Maybe I should take it as a compliment that some people do confide in me, I do try and give sound advice and almost never condone immoral behaviour or suggest rash courses of action or quick fixes.

But the problem has another dimension in that some of my friends don’t listen to me. I never really share my problems but I don’t want to listen to other peopleS problems without a break. I really do try to change the subject but at every opportunity and even without warning sometimes he changes back to the same channel. The problem is confounded by the fact that the problem has a time frame and he really can’t do anything to sort it out, he has to wait for other things to happen before he can move on and in the mean time my ears are taking a battering.
I don’t mind listening to friends problems, that is what we are for but a bit of consideration coming back the other way would be greatly received.

They say a problem shared is a problem halved, well if that’s the case then this problem must be tiny as it is shared regularly. I don’t want to be a bad friend but there is some truth to the proverb ‘Speech is silver, but Silence is golden’.

Littlewoods - Well they will be little if they keep wasting paper.

I recently received a new catalogue from mail order company Littlewoods. This was something of a surprise to me as I had closed my account with them over 12 months ago. Or I thought I had. I was a bit pissed off with them for sending me a catalogue and a letter stating I had a credit level of ₤200 and for proudly proclaiming that their current catalogue had over 1200 pages. I closed my account because I no longer wanted the temptation of getting into debt at over inflated prices and for sometimes inferior products. I phoned them to find out why I had received this catalogue and when they would come and collect it.
After speaking to a young lady about it, she informed me that my account was dormant and not actually closed. She put me through to the department for ‘pretending to close accounts but secretly keeping them open in case you fall on hard times and want to shackle yourself to a ruthless mail order company’.

The conversation went something like this;

Littlewoods lady: Mr. McGovern, I have been told by my colleague that you would like to close your account.

Me: yes, I would like to close my account AGAIN.

Littlewoods lady: I also understand that you have received a catalogue from us and you’re not too happy about it.

Me: That’s right. Can you tell me why I have received this catalogue?

Littlewoods lady: Your account was not closed, it was just dormant and so you will still receive correspondence from us from time to time.

Me: OK, well I don’t want to receive anything else from Littlewoods, ever again.

Littlewoods lady: I will arrange that for you but I have to inform you that it will take 90 (N-I-N-T-E-Y) days to arrange this and to stop you receiving mail from us.

Me: Why does it take 90 days?

Littlewoods lady: That’s just how long it takes for the mail run to complete as we will already have printed letters for the next 90 days.

Me: Well, in the near future I will be moving from this address and so I won’t even be receiving them.

Littlewoods lady: Do you have a forwarding address for your letters?

Me: Yes, but I don’t want to give it to little woods because I don’t want any letters or catalogues!

Littlewoods lady: Um, OK.

Me: But you understand that you will be sending letters to someone else and not me.

Littlewoods lady: Yes

Me: Don’t you think that is a bit stupid?

Littlewoods lady: Well we can’t really do anything about it.

Me: I also want to know how you will collect this unused catalogue from me as I didn’t request it and obviously don’t want it.

Littlewoods lady: We don’t have the facility to collect or accept returns of catalogues.

Me: So you mean to say that the catalogue, which boasts a mammoth 1200 plus pages, will have to go straight in the bin?

Littlewoods lady: Maybe you could recycle it?

Me: I think that’s a good idea but I thought if you could take it back and recycle it by giving it to another customer, one who actually requests it then that would be even better than getting it pulped so it can be made into yet another catalogue.

Littlewoods lady: That would be better but we don’t have the facility to do that.

Me: Well, I can see I am fighting a losing battle and so as long as you can guarantee that I am removed from any and all future mailing lists that will have to do.

Littlewoods lady: I will sort that out for you right now.

Me: Thank you very much.

She thought she would get the last world in and possibly try to enrage me further by stating

"We will send you out a letter confirming that you have been fully removed, thank you and have a nice day."

So she didn’t understand at all what I was saying and now I will actually have an extra piece of junk mail.
Thanks Littlewoods.

Friendship and Facebook

I like to think I am quite popular and I know lots of people but I only see a handful with any regularity. You could say I have lots of friends and you could also say I only have 2 or 3 friends; it all depends on your definition of friendship.

There are many names we give to friends depending on where we know them from, how long we have known them and how well we know them, Friends, acquaintances, mates, pals, buddies etc etc. I am quite specific about these divisions and know exactly who falls into which category, that way I know who I can rely on and who I cant, who will turn up for my birthday and who will make an excuse.

Some people like to use friend but amend it with a succession of prefixes and suffixes, good friend, great friend, old friend, new friend, work friend, Uni friend blah blah blah.
A friend of mine uses an economic analogy and seeing as money is central to all of our lives it seems appropriate, especially as it can be a cause for "friendships" to break down or for new "friendships" to bloom. He says that if you were to win the lottery tomorrow (or the next Wednesday or Saturday, or is it everyday now?) which of your friends, acquaintances, mates, pals, buddies etc would you look after and which ones would you not. The ones you would are, by my definition your friends, the rest are acquaintances.

I have a very strong sense of just who my friends are, I know what they would do for me in a time of need and I know exactly what I would do for them if they asked me.
A few years ago I was stranded at Reading train station at 3am and with no way of getting home. I phoned a friend, my best friend and before I could explain how I got myself into the predicament I was in he was in his car and on his way to get me. He lived a good hour and a half away but didn't hesitate for a second.

In this increasing digital age where the Internet lets you communicate with people all over the world and make "friends" with people with the same interests, people who come from the same town as you or like the same colour, it is easy to build up a huge, global network of "friends". Bebo and Facebook seem to be the ones that are the current favourites but I’m sure they will soon fall by the wayside and we will all have to export all our contacts to the latest social networking site or maybe you will just start again and make new friends all over.

I have a Facebook account but I use it in strict accordance with some personal limitations, the most paramount of these rules is that I never add a person to my friends list that I have not actually met in the flesh, it’s just a quirk of mine but I don’t want to chat with someone called Lindy from Hawaii only to find out I have really been having steamy conversations with a builder called Barry from the Black country. The reason I even have a Facebook account is that due to my international exploits I have met people from all over the world and find Facebook slightly more convenient than e-mail.

I have around 100 people in my contacts list on Facebook and have met them all in the flesh, the adding to Facebook has been ratified by a personal meeting where they have proven themselves not to be a complete nutter, although some of them are part nutter, isn't that right Mel?
Most of these people are fleeting acquaintances; I had enjoyed spending time with them and keep in touch in case the opportunity arises for us to meet up again. I would expect they have similar thoughts about me. If anybody is reading this and thought we were best friends then I’m sorry but don’t phone me in the middle of the night if you’ve got a problem!

I know people who have hundreds, if not thousands of people in their Facebook contacts lists. This makes me feel a bit uneasy about having them as a friend. Firstly because my friendship can mean very little as I am a drop in a ocean of people and secondly because I am wary, nay scared of people who want to form friendships, however meaningless with complete strangers. Call me old fashioned but I like to have my fun the real world where hangovers hurt and money is something you can get from a hole in the wall, not a world where conversations consist of a weird kind of coded shorthand and money is spent on "cool" emoticons to impress your cyber buddies.

A friend is defined as a person you know well and like and so people added to your friends list because you share the same taste in underpants cannot be a friend. I think the definition of someone you have never met or seen before is called a STRANGER and my mum always told me to steer well clear of them.

If people want to collect names and add them to a list of so called friends then who cares?

Well I do actually.

When you get messages saying you have just been attacked by a whole collection of weirdoes because you are friends with their enemy in some juvenile game of Pirates V’s Ninjas or Nerds V’s Computer Geeks then that is crossing a cyber line. Give me strength. Strength to track down these people and strangle the life out of all of them.

Then there is Facebook’s funwall, a place where, as the name suggests you can have fun by receiving (and posting if you are so inclined) a ridiculous amount of pictures and videos that really aren’t very funny at all. The one thing however that is worse than having funwall is not having funwall as you get bombarded with messages telling you someone has just sent you something on funwall and you can click here to install and see the really crap video of a baby kicking a man in the nuts that we’ve all seen before.

The only way to get rid of these messages? Install the f’ing thing.

Facebook is designed so it is incredibly easy to spread all sorts of shit all over the planet, advertising was presumably the initial reason but this opens it all up for all your friends to send you everything from stupid videos to pornographic images, like the one I received from a so called friend of 3 old gay men doing unspeakable things to each other. A few clicks and you can spread the latest release from your shit band to all corners of the globe, thank god for the Internet. And don’t get me started on those simpletons who compile those videos made up entirely of music and clips from the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s that tell you "You were born in the 80’s if you remember…" do these people not have jobs?

I use Facebook as a tool to communicate with people across the world, I find it convenient and more personal than e-mail, you can post photos and other things your friends may be interested in and you can limit access. Facebook is my interactive, online address book and I use it as such. I think people who use it to find friends really should try it the old fashioned way first, they might be pleasantly surprised.

For me friends online are friends and acquaintances, mates, pals and buddies but never strangers. If you have a lot of people in your friends list you have never met you might want to think about making a few real friends, after all if your ever stuck in Reading train station at 3am your digital buddies can’t get in their cyber car and race down the information super highway to help you can they?


Jamie Oliver and the rest of the cooking-showbiz-glitterati have been back on our screens recently chastising us about our eating and buying habits using a combination of pleading, crying and frightening.

The aforementioned Essex mockney has been joined on Channel 4’s Food fortnight by the wet but likable Hugh and the fiery but vocabulary deficient Mr. Ramsey.

In Jamie’s recent series, Jamie at home everything seems to have a personality and is afforded a title. Leek becomes Mr. Leek, squid becomes Mr. Squid and lamb becomes Mr. Lamb ad nauseam. Give me a break Jamie and don’t talk down to me, this isn’t Big Cook, Little Cook.

Some would say he is patronising but I don’t think he knows what it means. He is a grade-A prat, which is usually understood but I think he might be a genuine idiot. He feels the need to tell us that apparently fennel won’t stick to a grill whereas leeks will so you have to oil them. Where the fuck does he get it from?

From the 3 stooges channel 4 has fronting this healthy eating and buying drive he is without the doubt the simpleton of the gang, he seems to use the world shit a lot too which would seem to indicate a limited vocabulary as does his constant use of childish words to describe tastes and to highlight that he is ‘Passionate’, ‘Pukka’ does however seem to have been dropped, thank the Lord.

He does seem to care about the cause and you could say he has a heart of gold but I’m afraid he also has a head full of straw. Maybe the wizard will give him a brain if he ever gets to Oz.

Hugh is much better and his campaign involved very little cooking, which was refreshing as the cause isn’t about cooking but buying. To that end Hugh spent a lot of time in the supermarkets and speaking to people on the street. He did cry though.

Gordon Ramsey, when compared to ‘Jamo the cheeky mockney twerp’ is a breath of fresh air even if that air is filled with expletives. His frank, no-nonsense attitude really does seem to be the cutting lemon juice to Jamie’s Rich sauce.
That was until I watched channel 4’s Friday night ‘Cook along with Gordon’ where he bounced around a stage looking constipated and holding his one hand up in the air as if holding an imaginary stamp. The constipated, former "footballer" was joined by TV favourite Chris Moyles, sorry I mean former radio but recently fallen off the radar, Chris Moyles. The latter was there to compliment Gordon’s restaurant style with an idiot’s guide to cooking steak and chips, yes folks they spent the majority of the live stage time cooking steak and chips. One of his finer comedy moments came when Gordon explained that Crème fresh is basically sour cream, "Why don’t you use cream that is not so sour then?" – Nice one Moyles, without a script you really are fucked.
To make it worse they had a woman from Wales who apparently hadn’t eaten meat for 25 years but was lured out of veggie exile by Gordon, f’ing Ramsey, they usually let us down on TV and she did a good job. And the icing on the proverbial cake was Janet Street-Porter. She was the "Celeb-at-home" and the big brother house was thrown on for good measure, dumbing down or what!!

The program seems so contrived, right down to Gordon’s "surprise" at his beating 2 so called celebrities in a cooking competition. He lost one as well and his disappointment looked just as contrived.

Am I alone in feeling patronised by these professionally trained chefs? Maybe they are catering (forgive the pun) to the majority of the population but that doesn’t help me, I’m not a moron and because most of my countrymen are means I have to settle for the occasional program on BBC2 or late night channel 4 does it?

TV chefs really are beginning (rather continuing) to piss me off but I enjoy cooking and like watching the cooking but could do with a bit less of the personality. Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver are the worst of the culprits for ‘"creative "use of language but I could pick out at least one trait in every TV chef that I deplore.

More cooking and less talking please, oh and do try to keep the patronizing under wraps too.
Bring back Keith Floyd!

Oh and finally a small note about Ryvita minis. Fern Britton advertises them with the slogan "Britain loves Ryvita minis" but I must protest and respond by saying NO, fat salad dodgers who can’t be bothered to get off their bed sore ridden arses love Ryvita minis because they think it means they can lose weight by eating and not doing any exercise.

Deal or no Deal?

I love Noel Edmond’s come back game show Deal or no Deal. I think it is one of the best quiz shows on TV even though it isn’t a quiz show at all. I think, however I like it for a different reason than the usual fan.

I love seeing people’s dreams shattered, greedy people who want to open a box and get money for nothing. They openly parade themselves around on a stage in front of the nation telling us that they want money for nothing. Are they not just the TV world’s version of benefit frauds? I mean they want money for nothing too.

I am glad when the contestant gets what they deserve, nothing, or at least a greatly reduced amount than they could have had if they had more nerve. They are guaranteed at least ₤1 and every time I see the program this is what I hope each and every person gets but the best is reserved for when greed gets the better of them and they think they can outsmart the banker. They hold out and hold out for a better and better deal and either the banker calls their bluff or they can’t resist grabbing at an offer a round too soon and miss out on a big prize.

The most recent program I saw was a woman who was given a card from her daughter suggesting that box number 8 would bring wealth. She got near the end but finally accepted a deal for ₤6,500 (which is not a small amount of money) but had she waited another round and gone with her daughter’s choice she would have had ₤75,000.

Although she walked away with the huge sum of ₤6,500 it was still a victory for the banker, a man or woman I feel an affinity with in as much as I want these greedy contestants to get as little money as possible.

Long live the banker.

Does it pay to be greedy?

I love travelling and for me the perfect job would be writing about far flung destinations in all corners of the globe from Antarctica to Africa. Getting paid to do such things may be a few years off and so I would settle for just going to these places. I’m not alone in these desires either as the TV schedule will testify, there are literally hundreds of travel programs on the multitude of satellite channels.

One of the easiest ways to get to visit these amazing places nowadays seems to be to volunteer yourself for a reality TV show. Of those programs the ‘eat yourself to the brink of death’ type seems to be increasingly popular. We, as a nation are dangerously overweight and are fascinated by the weight loss process or possibly just the sight of greedy/lazy (delete as appropriate) people flopping around the Australian outback or the African bush in the deluded hope of losing weight but also changing their life for good by seeing how others live.

These people range from the common and garden variety obese right through morbidly obese and up to Mr. Creosote obese. Two such programs I have watched lately are ‘Can fat teens hunt?’ and ‘Fat men can’t hunt’, both BBC programs where these walking lard balls go to Borneo and Namibia respectively. They live with the indigenous peoples of these places and live their lives and hopefully lose some weight in the process. I watched with envy at the extraordinary things these people got to do, the very private lives of the natives they got to interact with and I thought all because the ladies (and men) loved milk tray (and a whole host of other artery clogging foods). I really do have a dilemma. Do I want to be in their rather large shoes? In these incredible places with a severely strained heart or at home with a healthy heart complaining about it?

I really do feel a sense of injustice in all this, I mean it’s not as if these people have had their medical conditions thrust upon them, they have actively gone about getting into their current state. I don’t put an unnecessary strain on the NHS, I don’t eat myself into a bed ridden state and what do you get for it, a pat on the back? I am not suggesting for a minute that people should be rewarded for being healthy but I am saying that we shouldn’t reward people for becoming overweight and then trying to get back to a healthy size, losing weight should be its own reward.

What we should give them are congratulations, education and encouragement but why do they get to experience once in a lifetime things?

But the question is are they losing weight for themselves or is it just to get at these opportunities? If the latter is true then what motivation will they have when they return to their normal lives?

I would sacrifice many things to be able to have similar opportunities but endangering my life isn’t one of them. In some respects these people are lucky, however they don't seem to realise they are making thousands of us viewers envious, they moan and complain about everything they can, from insects and sleeping arrangements to the most obvious target, the food.

A recent program on channel 4 highlighted a case in America. A country which seems to still be the world’s fat capital although I’m sure we are catching up. '40 ton Mum' followed the story of Rene Williams, a 29 year old who weighed 64 stone. She was from Austin, Texas and had 2 children and from what I can gather she has always been over weight. She was turned away from 12 hospitals for a stomach stapling operation because she was too overweight! When she was 18 she was diagnosed as being super-morbidly obese and at one point claimed that she wanted her life back, as if it had been wrongly taken away from her. I may seem harsh on her but her arrogance is unbelievable, it really sounds as if she blames everyone but herself. Rene did find a surgeon willing to operate but the risks were great and she died during recovery. It may be wrong to speak ill of the dead but the facts remain, she complained that she had to watch all her kids school events second hand on TV but I have to point out that it was her own fault she was bed ridden for 4 years.

Family members and friends really knew who was to blame even if Rene was in denial as they told the documentary team "There was nothing she wouldn’t eat" and "She liked the snack foods".

At the time there were 2 million people in the USA waiting for operations of the same kind, according to the program.

Rene Williams died 3 days after her daughters 13th birthday and her coffin had to be winched into the ground. The news of Rene’s death led to many other super-hyper-critically-obese people asking to be cut out of their houses in the hope of having life saving surgery, which is a positive thing.

One final question I would ask is that how can a woman who has been bed ridden for 4 years continue eating, she must have co-conspirators supplying a steady chain of food. I would imagine it must not take much food to maintain this weight as she obviously did little if no exercise but surely her ‘caring’ friends and family could have done more.

I know that these super sized reality stars are a small minority of over weight people but there are enough to make programs to fill schedules.

And It isn’t only overweight people who get ‘rewarded’ with these fantastic trips; asbo kids get similar treatment but that is a different story.

So does it pay to be ‘normal’, to not eat yourself into a position where you can’t get a job, to not terrify members of the public, happy slapping people or playing loud music as and when you feel with no regard for anybody else? Apparently it doesn’t. Where is the reward for obeying the rules or for being a good citizen, for looking after your body?

There is no reward apart from having a healthy heart and a clear conscience.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Tell Me Why I Don't Like The 2nd Of February?

As some of you may know the 2nd of February is Groundhog day. The day when Bill Murray's character wakes up in Punxatawny PA to find out his is living the same day over and over again in a monotonous cycle of pure hell, trapped in a small town filled with simpletons. Phil Conners finds his own hell on earth. I have a great fondness for the film and after watching it for the umpteenth time I realised why it seems so familiar to me.

I come from Punxsutawney. Punxsutawney S.Wales.

Of course my version isn't called Punxsutawney, it doesn't have the friendliness, the snow or of course the groundhog.

Phil Connors wakes up everyday to find he is living the same day over and over again and eventually does what any sane person would do and kills himself. Unfortunately for Phil he wakes up again and again and again to the sound of Sonny and Cher's 'Babe' and the cycle starts over again. My hometown has the same curse in that the residents are confronted by the same things every day, the same people, the same routine and the same outcomes. At least Punxsutawney had the groundhog!

Punxsutawny PA "The original weather capital of the world since 1887" is the bold and somewhat oxymoronic proclamation in the film for a place that has a real Christmas card feel to it, a place that does seem to represent the juvenile nature of the USA, after all the country is not yet 250 years old. My hometown, which is a lot younger seems a lot more cynical and by comparison could be said to have a 'sorry your terminally ill' card feel to it.

The willful suspension of disbelief is an essential tool that is employed and relied on by film makers in order for their films to work and be enjoyed, I sometimes lose the ability to willfully suspend my disbelief and end up looking too much into things, but bear with me.
With such eternal time on his hands Murray's character turns his hand to all kinds of things, from sculpting ice to playing the piano and eventually finds love and therefore breaks the cycle of monotony. In my town however we don't have eternal time, it just feels like it.

We also have Parkinson's Law.

This law states that "Work expands to fill the time for its completion", or in layman's terms, the longer you have to do something, the longer it takes to do it. If Conner's lived in my town and had an eternity to do all these things he would be wandering around for eternity deciding which pursuit to master first and get nothing done, ever.

Bill Murray seems to revel in these cynical, sarcastic characters. He plays them so well it seems certain that he is indeed one himself. I sympathise with Phil Connors and the other characters he plays, I really feel for them, I'm one of them. I'm bored and cynical and sarcastic and critical and I am seemingly never satisfied. That, in a stupid old useless nutshell seems to be the curse of Cwmbran.
The only way to break the curse is to leave. Go, run away and seek other things, other places, find a better life elsewhere and for God's sake don't go back. The ambition can be sucked out of you within minutes of crossing that imaginary line between the real world and the purgatory inspired, soul draining world that for so long was my home.

I did just that in August of 2006. I moved to South Korea for a year and absolutely loved it. I came back to the UK, back to Cwmbran for Christmas 2007 and quickly remembered why I had left.

I have already sorted out my return to Korea and have thought about where I want to travel when I finish my second year, where I want to live and what I want to do and Cwmbran doesn't feature heavily.

I want to live a budget flight away from home, somewhere in Europe probably. I am considering Dublin as the only English speaking capital city outside the UK, but we will see.

Time will tell what happens but the next time I watch Groundhog day I want to look back on it as if looking at how my life used to be, tedious, boring and predictable.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

The Before, During and After Sale.

The phenomena known as the January sales should, from now on be renamed 'The before, during and after Christmas sales'.

The January sales used to be a time when you, or more likely your parents could get a few bargains to use throughout the year, a blender or a new vacuum cleaner perhaps. at a time when money was tight the sales represented an opportunity to get something back from the retailers following a thrifty spending period.

Things have changed.

Families traditionally spend well beyond their means to lavish their loved ones with expensive but often useless or ill conceived presents (Golf clubs for the keen fisherman or a mobile phone for the technophobe pensioner). But thanks to the January sales being repackaged as the before, during and after Christmas sale you can get more rubbish for your Rubles or crap for your Cordoba ( Nicaragua).
The dangerous combination of bargain and spend thrift shoppers and marketing gurus eager to maximise profits have seen the sales pushed back, in some cases to before Christmas has even begun.
The majority of the shopping madness begins on the 27th of December and has been dubbed the post-Christmas sales by a number of newspapers. Next, the high street retailer opened it's Oxford street shop at 5am - that's five in the f'ing morning people- to huge queues. The story gets worse as a number of shops around the country had to hire security guards to quell the heaving masses and stop them from killing each other to get at that £2.50 halter neck. The Marble Arch branch of M&S had a queue of 300 people waiting for an hour for the shop to open.

But wait, there's more.

People (if you can call them that) were queuing outside Sheffield's Meadow Hall shopping centre at 3.30am.


The Next shop in Manchester's Trafford centre began it's sale on Boxing day. Apparently not able to wait one extra day they opened to queues of people going so far as to queue down the M62!
Last, but by no means least is the story of the 4 women in Birmingham who passed out while battling to grab bargains.

What is wrong with the world?

For a start, what is a bargain? To me it is something you want but cheaper than the normal price. Simple isn't it? Well not if you look at the way these maniacs grab at anything with a red sale tag on, surely they cannot want all those things, they are buying for the sake of buying, it is greed pure and simple. If you don't want it to start with then it isn't a bargain, no matter how much it costs. These desperate cheap skates are ready to hack down their own grandmothers to get at something with a 75% off label on it regardless of the size, colour or style!

My Father likes a bargain too, he is Scottish after all. There is a running joke amongst members of my family that he likes a bargain so much that he would buy dog food if it was reduced even though we haven't got a dog! This is an exaggeration but I bet there are people who make almost as ridiculous purchases when it comes to the post Christmas sales.

Apparently in 1977 the Labour government of the day recognised a threat from Peggy 'Milk Snatcher' Thatcher and it was that she had a "Highly populist appeal to individual materialism". Well the Iron Lady or as i call her -No, wait I cant tell you what we call her in my house- will be pleased to know that her legacy will live on with these sales and she would be pleased to see people getting heaved out of queues by security guards for trying to jump in front of other bargain hunters.

I don't think I am better than anyone else but i have however developed a kind of aversion to material possessions. I'm no Buddisht but I rarely spend money on things I don't need. I love a bargain too but it has to be a genuine bargain. A bit of weening the public off their dependency on material possessions wouldn't be a bad thing.

Now to end on a lighter note.

Barron Hilton, the Grandfather of the ridiculously named Paris has decided to donate all but a fraction of his considerable fortune to charity. He is reluctant to leave unearned wealth to his family members, including the aforementioned Paris, apparently he is unamused at her tabloid existence. Maybe in the future we will see Paris getting thrown out of a Next queue at 5am but then again maybe not.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Christmas for the football fan – Boxing Day 2007

Today is Boxing Day and at long last I will get my Christmas football fix. First up is Reading versus West Ham and while it wouldn’t be my first choice for a football match it will certainly do.

Yesterday, the culmination of (for some people) months of hard work shopping, spending, guessing what to buy and filling the house with all sorts of food that will be consumed with a gluttonous greed over the 3 or 4 days before and after the 25th of December, was Christmas day 2007.

I don’t mind Christmas the period, the festive season, the cold weather and the festive cheer (usually alcohol induced), but Christmas day itself is the daddy of all anti-climaxes, it’s a time when family come together and you realise why you haven’t really had much contact with most of them since last Christmas and why you will not talk much to them until next Christmas.

The saving grace for me about Christmas day is that you only have to wait until tomorrow for some football. The festive, football calendar is easily my favourite part of Christmas. No work, a fridge full of treats which can be consumed without guilt and a seemingly endless supply of alcohol, which can be consumed in the same way as the food. This year the aforementioned 1pm kick off will be followed by the majority of the day’s fixtures at 3pm (which can be watched live on the internet, although I don’t condone this flagrant law breaking!) with an evening game between Arsenal and Portsmouth. Following this the football calendar continues with games on the 27th, 29th and 30th of December as well as the 1st and 2nd of January before the normal weekend schedule resumes.

I’m not big on presents at Christmas, usually because I receive presents from family members that would be refused by Oxfam for their lack of imagination or that indicate I have a particular body odour problem. This year I told 3 of my 4 sisters that a new system of present giving would be implicated and that was that they were to buy nothing for me and I would buy nothing for them, they have kids and I don’t have the time or patience to buy a present for someone who spends less time thinking about what to buy me than they do on which turkey to buy. On hearing this I usually get given the chastising mantra of "it’s the thought that counts" and I couldn’t agree more. It is precisely the lack of thought that goes into buying a Gillette gift pack of shaving foam and shower gel that I hope to avoid in the future. I did receive some lovely presents however. Money and some nice aftershave from my mum, money and some lovely books from my dad and a Liverpool t-shirt and a leather wash bag from my one sister and her family as well as an ipod and some other lovely things from my girlfriend.

If anyone asked me what I really wanted for Christmas and we were talking fantastical or in an ideal world I would have to say 6 or 9 points from Liverpool’s festive fixtures ( 6 or 9 because I suppose it depends what you deem as the festive period). Gillette products come and go but a football team is indeed for life and not just for Christmas, those 6 or 9 points could well be the gift that keeps on giving. If they help you to win a championship, propel your team into Europe or the play offs or help you to avoid relegation then they will be remembered for ever.

Given the current spreading of live football over 2 satellite broadcasters (Sky and Setanta) an alternative Christmas present may well be a subscription to either of the two or more likely the one you don’t have, but then 6 or 9 points on the radio will always beat anything less than that live on TV.

Let’s hope that receiving a Gillette and Adidas gift pack (2 of the 3 sisters decided not to adhere to the new system) will not effect my main Christmas present of balls in the net and points on the board.

A lovely label cloud

korea (45) Rob McGovern (34) jeonju (24) robguv (24) jeonbuk ilbo (15) KOREAN FOOD (11) australia (7) Liverpool FC (6) Hong Kong (4) Jeonbuk (4) football (4) sydney (4) taekwondo (4) Cwmbran (3) Lantau (3) Life On Lantau (3) bibimbap (3) japan (3) seoul (3) wales (3) Accor (2) Americans and language (2) CSR (2) Citygate (2) English football (2) G20 (2) JIFF (2) Novotel (2) Premier League (2) Rob Guv (2) Travel (2) Tung Chung (2) australians (2) corporate social responsibility (2) facebook (2) hagwon (2) japanese food (2) korean cinema (2) korean film (2) korean spiders (2) kpop (2) malaysia (2) man yoo (2) manchester united (2) monday (2) obama (2) old age (2) park ji sung (2) phillipines (2) police brutality (2) prison (2) snow (2) tasmania (2) 2010 (1) 44 (1) America (1) American football (1) American. (1) Art (1) Barca (1) Beer (1) Beijing (1) Bill Murray (1) Bob Dylan (1) Borneo (1) British (1) Buzz magazine (1) Charles Curtis (1) Chelsea (1) Christmas TV (1) Colorado (1) EPL (1) Emma Hack (1) Florence Broadhurst (1) France French (1) Goyte (1) Groundhog (1) Hwang-Sa (1) Ian Tomlinson (1) Ireland (1) Jeollabukdo (1) Korea pizzaschool emart dogmeat norebang jjimjilbang pcbang dmz familymart seoul busan jeju dokdo (1) LFC (1) MW (1) Macao (1) Macau (1) Master of Wine (1) McGovern (1) Michael Jackson (1) Mickey Mouse (1) Montrose (1) November 2009 (1) OLYMPICS (1) SCMP (1) SNL (1) Snakes (1) South China Morning Post (1) St David's day (1) St partick (1) THE YEAR OF EATING DANGEROUSLY (1) TOM PARKER BOWLES (1) TV (1) Vancouver (1) Veruschka (1) What's on (1) Wine (1) abortion (1) acdc (1) africa (1) america north korea (1) animals (1) arizona cardinals (1) balls (1) bath (1) bbc (1) beckham (1) being tall (1) birdicide (1) birmingham (1) body parts (1) bodypaint (1) boris the spider (1) box (1) bread (1) britains got talent (1) building (1) busan (1) carlos tevez (1) cass (1) catholic (1) champions league (1) childbirth (1) chloroform (1) chocolate (1) chuarumi (1) climate change (1) cocaine (1) coffee (1) corryong (1) cote divoire (1) cremation (1) crime (1) crunky (1) cuckoo (1) curry (1) cutting things in half (1) daejeon (1) david jason (1) dick (1) dog (1) eating dog (1) exercise (1) family names (1) fat frank (1) fathers (1) fear (1) figure skating (1) fire chicken (1) fish and chips (1) flies (1) footprints (1) franks lampard (1) funeral (1) funny (1) gambling (1) gimje (1) golden orb spider (1) google map (1) graffiti (1) groovekoreamagazine (1) haemil (1) haeundade (1) haiku (1) hanok village (1) health (1) height (1) heroes (1) hippocrates (1) hobart (1) home (1) iphone (1) itaewon (1) jackson (1) james simpson (1) jan 2010 (1) japanese (1) japanese baseball (1) jeondong cathedral (1) jjimjilbang (1) k league (1) kendo (1) kim chang wan band (1) kim jong il (1) korea beat (1) korean football (1) korean martial arts (1) kumdo (1) lazy people (1) le petit france (1) love (1) mahatma (1) mail (1) marathon (1) medicine (1) melbourne (1) mikado (1) mouth (1) movember (1) movie bars (1) music (1) music history (1) naha (1) negative (1) nepal (1) nepali food (1) north korea (1) november (1) nude (1) nunchuka (1) october (1) okinawa (1) orphanage (1) pancakes (1) parents (1) partice evra (1) patriotism (1) pepero (1) phone pictures (1) piano (1) pocky (1) poem (1) prmiership (1) queen vctoria (1) racism (1) revolution (1) rock (1) rubbish (1) rushing star sausage club (1) sandwich (1) satellite (1) sauna (1) scam (1) scotland (1) (1) shamwow (1) shrove (1) simpsons (1) smoking (1) sorry sorry sorry (1) spider (1) spiders (1) spring (1) st andrew's cross spider (1) stabbing (1) stairs (1) star wars (1) stupid people (1) sue son (1) sunrise (1) supermarkets (1) surnames (1) swelling (1) sword (1) tampat do aman (1) tea (1) temple (1) test messages (1) thailand (1) the who (1) thriller (1) thumbs (1) to do (1) toast (1) toilet (1) tom jones (1) travelling (1) treasure (1) turtle ship (1) uk (1) uvula (1) vader (1) violin (1) visit britain (1) volunteering (1) war zone (1) weather (1) weight (1) welsh language (1) what's new pussycat (1) what's on? (1) whats on (1) wonder girls (1) work (1) yellow dust (1) yeosu (1) yudu (1) 김창완밴드 (1) 누구 (1) 불나방 스타 쏘세지 클럽 (1) 장기하와 얼굴들 (1)