Saturday, December 31, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
They're on a long road trip and can't find anywhere to stay the night. Finally they find a dodgy motel that has some space, but the proprietor tells them the only room left contains one single bed.
They agree that two of them will share the bed and the third will sleep outside in the barn.The Jew volunteers to sleep outside, and the Hindu and the Lancastrian settle down for the night - facing away from one another and trying very hard not to touch.
After a while, there's a knock at the door. It's the Jew."I'm sorry guys, but there's a pig in the barn. Pigs are regarded as unclean animals in my religion and I couldn't possibly share a room with it."
So, the Hindu heads out to the barn and the Jew and the Lancastrian settle down for the night - facing away from one another and trying very hard not to touch.
After a while, there's a knock at the door. It's the Hindu."I'm sorry, but there is a cow in the barn. Cows are regarded as sacred animals in my religion. I couldn't possibly desecrate it with my unholy presence."
So, the Lancastrian heads out to the barn and the Jew and the Hindu settle down for the night - facing away from one another and trying very hard not to touch. After a while, there's a knock at the door. It's the cow and the pig.
Candice, Liz and the present mountain.
Andy and Carol "Haggis ? I thought it was veggy stuffing!"
Joseph and Natalie being entertained by the bubble machine.
Who threw that ? The Wheeler clan bought me a chocolate fountain machine (pictures will follow), but I miised the clues and we ate all the strawberries and marshmallows before opening the machine, oops.
A fun time was had by all, especially this bloke......
Happy Christmas Dad!
Monday, December 26, 2005
.....turning up to the Christingle service in your Marilyn Manson t-shirt, and then being chosen by a Churchwarden with a sense of humour to go up to the front of the church and light the kiddies candles for them.
.....allowing your vegetarian lunch guest to munch through three of four mouthfuls of haggis before you tell them that it isn't actually vegetarian stuffing.
I had a perfect Christmas, how about you ?
So, you think you know Yorkshire Soul ?
And just to remind ourselves of where everybody stands....
Week 3 League
1) Eleanor 51
2) MR 45
3) Dr. P 36
4) Chez 31
5) Rachel 'O' 24
6) Dirk Thruster 22
7) Mandy 17
8) EvilBarSteward 15
9) Penny Farthing 14
10) Miss Fitty 13
11) Patricia 8
12) Ms B Haven 1
1) Yorkshire Soul dines out, which menu will he choose ?
a) Fresh oysters, roast wild salmon with sorrel butter, orange creme brulee
b) Pancetta and pig's cheek salad, venison fillet with haggis and whisky jus, chocolate tart
c) Grilled asparagus with parmesan shavings, caramelised red pepper tart, strawberry crepe with vanilla ice cream
2) And to drink ?
a) The house red
b) Russian River Pinot Noir
c) Filsell Old Vine Shiraz
3) And afterwards ?
a) A Rafael Gonzales Coronas cigar
b) The cheeseboard
c) A glass of Royal Tokay
4) A quiet night in front of the telly, what will I watch ?
a) Buffy The Vampire Slayer - T.A.T.U. The Inside Story - Constantine
b) Eastenders - The X Factor - Legally Blonde
c) Waking The Dead - CSI - Enemy At The Gate
5) A selection of books to while away a few hours with, which shall I choose ?
a) Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, the new Stephen Erikson tome and this months National Geographic
b) Mrs Beeton's Household Management, the new Tad Williams epic and this week's NME
c) LJ Hanneman's Patisserie, the new Neal Stephenson novel and this month's Leeds Life
6) I'm off to a gig, but all these are playing at different venues on the same night, which shall I choose ?
a) Girls Aloud - Steps - T.A.T.U.
b) The Mars Volta, Coheed & Cambria and InMe
c) Corpsegrinder, Three Inches Of Blood and Finntroll
7) A day off, what shall I do ?
a) Go and watch 3 movies back to back at the cinema, nice, cosy and warm
b) Hike up Pennyghent in the horizontal rain, muttering to myself all the way about the bloody awful weather
c) Spend the morning horse riding, and dry slope ski-ing in the afternoon
8) A chocie of holiday destinations, but I can only afford to visit one, which one ?
c) Ayia Napa
9) I'm going clothes shopping, which selection of trendy brands am I likely to come home with ?
a) River Island, Reebok and Burberry
b) Atticus, Scary Miss Mary and Lucky 13
c) New Rock, Marks and Sparks and something from the market
10) The shameless namedropping question, which of these people havn't I cooked for (1 point for each correct answer, -1 point for each incorrect answer) ?
a) Gabby Yorath
b) Norman Hunter
c) Michael Vaughan
d) Andrew Flintoff
e) Geoffrey Boycott
f) Fred Trueman
h) Brian Blessed
i) Paul Jewell
j) Lemmy from Motorhead
11) Oh no, it's the shameless namedropping bonus question, which of these musical hero's / gibbering smackheads did I meet during my brief career as a rock journo ? (1 point for each correct, -1 point for each incorrect)
a) The Litle Angels
b) Ozzy Osbourne
c) Ian Dury
d) Ice Age
e) Uriah Heep
f) Deep Purple
h) Arch Enemy
j) Lemmy from Motorhead
Answers to Yorkshiresoul@gmail.com on/by Monday 2nd Jan, I'll make some effort to get the answers up on Tues 3rd Jan, probably.
No spoilers please.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
The Godlings have been delivered into my keeping for a couple of days, we have been on nature rambles to Swinsty reservoir and through the woods near Esholt. Everything was going quite well until I heard Ellie shout "Look Uncle Mikey ! Mud!"
I hope they weren't expensive gloves.
No, they're not the children, they're staff, Carol, Sarah, Clare and April looking all festive in their glittery bowler hats.
Thanks to all the staff who have worked so hard this year, I'll see you all at Saffron for next week's curry fest/piss up.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
(Something that happened when I was working at Ghyll Beck)
YS - "Yes, what is it?"
Waitress - "The lady says her creme brulee is burnt on top."
A pause, with rising steam from ears.
YS - "Would you please tell the lady she's too stupid to eat here again."
Great complaint, it's right up there with "These whitebait have still got their heads and tails on."
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I've made a few comments and minor articles on the blog before about my religion, and these often spark off some interesting theological debate amongst the regulars. I have never though really stated with any degree of preciseness just what I do and what I do not believe.
I believe in God, the Nativity story, the crucifixion and Resurrection. I believe and accept almost everything written in the Bible, I realise it's the 'almost' that's going to trip me up later but bear with me.
I believe in the Creation story. I believe in Darwinism. Crunch. Irresistible force meets immovable object. By placing yourself in one camp you should surely deny the position taken by the other ? Not necessarily.
The Bible wasn't written by God, it was written by men, in a piecemeal fashion. It was written from memory, dictated often from generation after generation of oral history passed from father to son, mother to daughter, priest to follower. It was written on clay tablets, carved into stone, inked onto papyrus, cloth and paper, and eventually, thanks to Herr Gutenberg, formed into one coherent book.
It's fairly safe to say that along the way, the message remains the same but some of the details may have been changed. It might even be fairer to say that the limited minds of men cannot fully comprehend some of the things that God has wrought.
Can you imagine and encompass the true concept of the infinite universe ? Of course not, we are finite beings requiring walls and boundaries. Thus if God appeared to a learned man of the age and said, "Look, it took me several billion years to get the Earth to this state" might not the learned man transcribe this as God created the world in 7 days ? The meaning is the same, it's just the details have been changed to allow us to understand the workings.
So, I believe in Creation. God created the universe, the Big Bang, then the Earth. The Earth evolved to a position in which two hominids were sufficiently advanced for God to furnish them with souls and names, Adam fell victim to temptation, you know the rest.
For me, there is no problem with accepting Creation and Evolution, they seem to be complimentary rather than opposing. The bible therefore remains a true historical text, it is not lessened by our advancement in knowledge and science.
It always seems to be this point, evolution, the fact that there are no dinosaurs in the Bible, that people bring up when they are trying to scientifically disprove the existence of God. Ask the same Darwinians what occurred just before the Big Bang, or why indeed the Big Bang occurred if it wasn't the moment of God's Creation.
I'll set out a few more things that I believe.
Most of the world's major religions are fundamentally very similar to Christianity in structure and form, I think that the Jews, Christians, Muslims and many others are all worshipping the same God, it's just that somewhere along the way men have scribed the great books slightly differently, the books have gradually evolved, and we have grown apart. That said, I believe that my lot are on the right track (but that's the very nature of belief after all), and, live and let live. I could be good friends with a Sikh, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, a Methodist, Catholic, Lancastrian or Labour voter. And if I can, then so could my church and my government, we don't have to be opposed just because we are different.
I believe in women priests.
I'm a bit tangled about homosexuality, I don't object to gay clergy, but I don't want to see gay marriages in church, civil services are fine though. This is a difficult point to explain, and even after much contemplation I can't explain my seemingly contradictory feelings on this issue.
I believe in free will and nature. Nature is the way the world works, it's physical machinery, there is no luck, fate or good fortune. Black cats, spilled salt and wood touching affect your life not one jot, but if it helps you through the day. Live and let live. Earthquakes, tsunami, mudslides, drought, flood, these are not punishments from God, they are just the physical workings of the world.
God made us to have free will, and then asked us to believe in him, love him, and follow some simple ground rules. Whatever happens in this world is the result of this free will (or of nature). I don't believe that God sent the tsunami for example, or that he chose certain people here and there to die or be saved. When a child gets cancer, I don't believe that God inflicted the disease, or if the child pulls through that God effected the cure in some direct intervention.
Actually, there are things here that I cannot explain, perhaps illness and disease are there to remind us of things we should be doing, maybe the Lord is pointing out that if we didn't waste so much money on guns and bombs, x-boxes and heavy metal, we could divert these resources into curing leukemia or AIDS.
I find God on the, often windswept, hills and moors of my home county. When I'm on the summit of Ingleborough in the freezing fog or sideways sleet (this being June), I am often moved by the magnificence of what the Lord has created, just for me (nobody else being daft enough to be up the mountains in this weather), "Thanks a lot Lord, it's bloody freezing up here". To be serious though, I find my church next to the cold, peaty streams, amidst the dappled, rustling woods and on the heather covered moor tops, in the places where God shows me the beauty of his creation, I'll often stop and say thanks.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
"In honour of this holy season," says Saint Peter,"You must each possess something that symbolises Christmas to get into heaven."
The first man goes through his pockets andpulls out a lighter, flicks it on,saying, "It represents a candle."
"You may pass through the pearly gates,"
The second man pulls out a set of keys, shakes them and says, "They're bells."
St Peter lets him pass.
The third man looks desperate and finally pulls a g-string from his pocket.
St. Peter looks quizzical and asks, "Just how do those symbolise Christmas?"
The man replies, "They're Carols."
Glen Matlock was shopping in Selfridges recently and bumped into Noel Gallagher, who was buying some shirts. They swapped pleasantries and went their separate ways. A few minutes later a fan approached Matlock, shook his hand and said it made his day to meet him. Matlock told the bloke that if he had been five minutes earlier he could have met Noel Gallagher.
The reply: "Well, who wants to meet that cunt?"
Friday, December 16, 2005
I wonder how long it will be before I get banned from The Pussycat Dolls website ?
Pussycat Doll Melody - "One show we have all been meaning to catch while on tour with him is Chris Brown. Ladies sixteen and under I know u have a crush on him, cuz I blush when I watch his videos and I'm 21. "
YS - "Is this just aiming at your target audience, or encouraging under age s** ? "
Pusstcat Doll Kimberly - ""We just found out that we are GOLD in the States and Double PLATINUM in the UK! Thank you so much, everyone, for supporting!!!"
YS - "Wow, you'll be able to buy all the charlie in Hollywood".
YS to Pussycat Doll Nicole - "My mate Rachel thinks you used to be a man, care to comment ?"
Enraged forum member Superwoman - "Today I learned that the dude below my comment is a doughnut..- Nicole is just pure tastyness! "
YS - "I'm a doughnut ? Sort of round, sweet and faintly greasy ? Ok, I can live with that. I didn't say Nicole wasn't tasty, I've nothing against ladyboys. "
But then, disaster strikes, as I opt for the same question plus some name play tomfoolery this happens.....
YS to Pussycat Doll Carmit - "Carmit ? Are you related to the green one that fronts the Muppets ?Anyway, my friend Rachel is of the opinion that you are a highly succesful trans gendered person, can this be true ? "
Forum member PortDavenport - "As the expression goes here in Australia:Yorkshiresoul, "Come on Mate, Fair Go!"That is really horrible comment to say... Completely Unfounded? And Hurtful.
You'll find that for every spiteful person at least 3 people will be ready to stand in defense of Carmit in her place - as I do now. I doubt you'll spark the response you were looking for, Carmit will be above that.
"Every women has her own unique beauty, particular & special & embracing to her. All anyone has to do is care enough to take a moment to look. A women's confidence is the center of her being, and it must be protected. Hence, I suggest it is what's on the inside that matters."
Maybe you ought to look inside yourself a little deeper to find something better to base your pride upon. Carmit & PCD especially work hard to bring a lot of joy to people in this world. The least you can do is read the forums to see how, and show some appreciation.
Respect other people's feelings and be kind. You never know when you might need to rely on somebody. So remember, it's never too late to admit fault and say you're sorry... D M C a.k.a Portdavenport(PCD Fanclub Member)
PS. The Muppets was a great show :) Maybe you should hire it out, and try singing and dancing to the tunes to lighten up... "
Oh good grief, I've touched on a raw nerve there then. Can you imagine me waddling around to the Muppets ?
The Pussycat Dolls that is, Rachel says you should look for the Adam's Apples. If of course you were a particularly sick and twisted type, you might notice that the girls each have a blog on the website, so you could in theory log in and ask this question direct, who would be so evil ?
Amongst the usual amount of requests for more celebrity porn comes this.....
Lisa Hallet writes......"Hi there,
I have a question for you which is quite urgent! I saw a picture of Pete Doherty on your blog with his eyes all rolled up into his head, I don't suppose you remember where you got that from do you? I urgently need to get hold of it for the programme I'm working on....
Yorkshiresoul responds......"Dear Lisa,
Here it is (picture enclosed), I don't remember where I got it from either, I'll have just done a search on Google for Pete Doherty and/or smackhead ;-)
I notice that you're working a TV company, therefore please note, if this contribution makes me famous I am willing to shag Charlotte Church, I am not willing to be seen in public with George Michael, for the right money (well, any money really) I would appear on telly making disparaging remarks about Paris Hilton.
Hope this helps, Yorkshiresoul"
Fame and fortune await.......
There was only one thing bothering me, very much indeed, and that one thing was her younger sister. My prospective sister-in-law was twenty years of age, wore tight mini skirts and low cut blouses. She would regularly bend down when near me and I got many a pleasant view of her underwear. It had to be deliberate. She never did it when she was near anyone else.
One day little sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived. She whispered to me that soon I was to be married, and she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome and didn't really want to overcome. She told me that she wanted to make love to me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister.
I was in total shock and couldn't say a word. She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want to go ahead with it just come up and get me." I was stunned. I was frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. When she reached the top she pulled down her panties and threw them down the stairs at me.
I stood there for a moment, then turned and went straight to the front door. I opened the door and stepped out of the house. I walked straight towards my car. My future father-in-law was standing outside.
With tears in his eyes he hugged me and said, "We are very happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family.
The moral of this story is: "Always keep your condoms in your car"
(Thanks to Tamsco)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I bought this because I am a big fan of Stephenson's brilliant and funny science-fiction works, this novel then, the first in the Baroque Cycle trilogy, has been a complete change of pace and style from the writing I am used to Stephenson producing.
It seems to have taken me an age to read Quicksilver, it is one of the densest, low dialogue books I have ever read. Even where there is dialogue, the dozens of principal charcters speak in the flowery, highly descriptive and over embellished language of the age. Never a word is spoken when a couple of dozen will do.
I feel I have lived the Seventeenth Century, immersed in this fabulously detailed work I have survived smallpox and the Great Fire of London, European wars and the Black Death. I have seen kings come and go, often hurried on their way by syphillis, I have witnessed the religious fervour of the nation boiling over at the political machinations of Puritans and Papists. I have travelled large parts of the known world as a Vagabond - Soldier - Thief - Whore, but most of all, I have witnessed the birth of science.
Natural Philosophy, or science as we would understand it, brings us one character that we follow through this mighty tome, Daniel Waterhouse, Puritan, revolutionary and Natural Philospher, friend of the great Isaac Newton.
Two other main characters appear, Half Cocked Jack Shaftoe, mercenary soldier and Vagabond extraordinaire, and Eliza, harem girl to the Janissary leaders, posessed of a sound mind and quick wit.
The stories weave together, as we watch Daniel progressing through college, watching the bloody minded genius of Newton unfold and begin to make his own way as a man, we also follow Half Cocked Jack in his adventures across Europe, to his meeting on an Austrian battlefield with Eliza, and thence Eliza's rise into the ranks of petty European nobility.
Quicksilver is really too complex to review easily, it's like having a thousand page history lesson which is at the same time a poltical thriller, a love story, a theological text and a boys own adventure. It isn't easy going, if you tried 'Jonathan Strange' and disliked that, then this isn't any easier. I have had to force myself at times to pick the book up and continue reading. People often use the term rewarding to describe books like this, what they mean is that it is bloody hard work to get through (there's an eight page dramatis personae for a start), and this is, but it is rich and fascinating at the same time.
I havn't rated Quicksilver as a five star review because of it's sheer denseness, because it does make reading it feel like work rather then pleasure in parts. When I finally finished Quicksilver I breathed a small sigh of relief, then scanning my 'to read' shelf, thinking I might indulge in a quick work of sci-fi before plunging headlong back into part two, but I found my hand drawn towards The Confusion. It might be like homework, but I need to know what happens to Eliza, has Half Cocked Jack been captured and killed by Barbary pirates ? What will Daniel do now after the revolution and downfall of King James II ?
Expect the review of part two in a month or so!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Monday, December 12, 2005
3 Favourite songs to....
Sing To: Oh dear, I sing along to everything while working, all done in the same tuneless, monotone dirge that is my singing voice, current top three though......
Hazel Eyes - The Darkness (One Way Ticket)
Once Upon Your Dead Body - Coheed and Cambria (Good Apollo Stage IV)
Also, I'll grunt along in mock German to anything from Rammstein's Rosenrot
Dance To: Hmm, I'm more of a mosher, so the dancing/fighting part of the meme could be one and the same for me, that said....
Motherfucker From Hell - The Datsuns (The Datsuns)
Hit Me With Your Rythym Stick - Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Red Hot Moon - Rancid (Indestructible)
Romance To: I don't really do romantic music either, er,
Punch and Judy - Marillion (Fugazi)
Let Me Put MY Love Into You - AC/DC (Back In Black)
Loveshit - The Wildhearts (Earth vs. The Wildhearts)
Fight To: The Fight Song - Marilyn Manson (Holywood)
Caffeine Bomb - The Wildhearts (Earth vs. The Wildhearts)
Holiday - Green Day (American Idiot)
Smile To: Even though I listen to a lot of hard, fast, sometimes death and violence obsessed bands, that's what makes me smile.....
Boston - Walk On Medley (4th Stage)
Brighton Rock - Queen (Live Killers)
Asteroid - Killing Joke (killing Joke)
Cry To: When The Tigers Broke Free - Pink Floyd
Watching TV - Roger Waters
Anything at all by Blue or that appears on the X Factor
(Thanks to Rachel, I know it's been a while)
I posted some pictures to my Flickr account last week , I was trying to upload a batch of foody stuff for the Food Porn group (don't panic, it's worksafe) when I accidently slipped another picture into the upload batch.
See if you can guess which picture got the most hits last week ?
I thought the whole point of the photo-sharing service Flickr was to showcase your own photography so you can say "Look at me, I'm a clever so and so" to the world, but whilst perusing a Flickr group on yesterdays oil depot explosion I see that a number of pictures have been posted by different users.
Come on then, own up, who deserves a credit for this apocalyptic vision ?
"What are you so happy about?" Asks the barman.
"Well, I'll tell you," replies Attu.
"You know, I live by the railway.
Well, on my way home last night, I noticed a young woman tied to the tracks, you know, just like in the movies. I, of course, went and cut her free and took her back to my place.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I scored big time! We made love all night, all over the house. We did everything, me on top, sometimes her on top, every position imaginable!"
"Fantastic!" exclaimed the barman. "You lucky guy. Was she pretty?"
"I dunno...Never found the head"
(Thanks to Attu)
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I thought that if I was going to try and piss of a major (or minor) religious sect / group / thrill kill cult, I may as well pick on one that won't fight back, thus I'm having a pop at the pacifist Buddhists.
What is it with you people ? Do you think the world owes you a living ? Or are you just too bloody lazy to cook your own dinner?
Lookit that tangerine clown, mugging that poor little girl for her sweeties, has he no shame ? Maybe amongst the 84,000 teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni (Shake yer money ?) it says "Thou shalt wear clothing rejected even by Boy George at his most smack addled, sit on the floor staring into space for hours on end, then go and steal food from the honest, hardworking folk in town."
Run, RUN! It's the Anarchist Street Performers and Mime Artiste's Collective. Bloke with the pink fan - love it, it goes so well with your stubbly pink bonce.
Lads, get a job. I'm sure there's chimneys to be swept and dangerous, fast running looms to risk your little fingers in. The lad on the right has just spotted one of his mates fromthe village footy team and is thinking "Oh shite, I'm gonna get murdered in the changing room if the lads see me dressed like this."
Right then, that's offended my Chefling Steve, who witters on about Buddhism like it's the next best thing to sliced bread.
Who's next ? Catholicism ? The Kirk (James Tiberius or otherwise) ? Or should I just raise the wine glass of peace to the Methodists ?
Grab a torch and a pitchfork, light up the bonfires, we're off to burn some heretics.
The Very Most Excellent Reverand Michael Burley over in, well, Burley, has been forced into an apology after the parish magazine of St. Marys published an article in which a contributor warned about the 'threat' that the Mormon religion posed.
The advert apparently contained a quote usually attributed to the poltical philosopher Edmund Burke "For evil to triumph, it only requires that good men do nothing." Now this seems a little harsh even to me, so the Mormons like to do things a little differently, then even have a second book they revere equally alongside the Bible, The Book Of Mormon. They also believe in living prophets that are in direct contact with God, and who can see into the future to warn the world of forthcoming events, global warming, nuclear conflagration, the winner of the 4.15 at Chepstow etc.
The Mormons have built a shiny new church up the road at Menston, albeit one with a slightly pre-fabricated look, not a nice 'old school' church like ours in Burley, so is this just a case of 'church envy' by the contributor in question ? Will he go on to have a go at other religious denominations ? Feel free to put a shot across the bows of the Jehova's Witnesses on my behalf, it always disrupts my afternoon to be told I'm going to waste away in purgatory until the end of time.
Have a pop at the Scientologists, any religion invented by a fourth rate sci-fi author must be worth a put down, and what about the 7th Day Adventists, what do they do anyway, bar putting up week long advent calendars ? Kabbalah ? I'm more than willing to launch a crusade against this years fad religion, down with Yehuda Berg and Ashton Kutcher!
If you have been offended by anything contained in this article, tough. If you have not been offended, I'll try to make time to heap righteous abuse on the Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Methodists and Buddhists later in the week.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Lords of Hawkdale have issued an edict, any livestock brought in from the occupied lands of Shadowdale, Mistledale or Northern Cormyr will be bought at full market price. With a refugee camp outside the walls of Varaghast still numbering in the thousands, the Lords are trying to find ways to feed and provide for the displaced people.
Furthermore, there will be a bounty for the proven slaying of the Lords enemies, Orcs, Drow and Gith.
This produces a goldrush effect, wagon trains begin departing Varaghast almsot immediately, from the well organised trading costers with their wagons, guards and outriders, to small but experienced bands of rangers and scouts to opportunistic but amatuerish outfits like the 7, everyone fancies their chances of rounding up some wayward farm animals.
The 7 head for Shadowdale, they buy their own cart and donkey (expecting to haul back a mound of treasure as well ?) At the first of the Shadowdale way stations they run into trouble, a giant leaping spider has taken up residence in the shelter, it jumps at Oceane and bites her, injecting her with a debilitating poison which continues to affect her for days afterwards. The others rush in and despatch the spider.
The 7 manage to get hold of a goat, burn to death a few wolves, and the happen across a cow about to give birth and therefore cannot run away from them. With their living treasure tied up, they settle down for a night's rest.
There are marching lights in the dark, whistling arrows find their mark and Auguste collapses as a poison tipped arrow finds his shoulder. The fight in the darkness is frightening and confusing, the 7 are not sure of how many enemies they are facing, they seem to be coming from many directions. Oceane launches Magic Missiles, Rhivaun plunges into the black woods and kills an opponent, Light and Dark spells are put up by the two sides.
Eventually the fight is over, two Drow Elves lie dead, at least one escaped and half the company are injured.
The next day they find and round up 4 more cattle, they decide that along with the loot they have stripped from the Drow they have enough to make a profitable trip and turn for home. 6 days travel, fighting off wolves and bandits, sees them home. They register themselves as a trading coster and turn a tidy profit on the cattle and weapons.
They are also introduced to Alain, a herbalist on the market. Alain claims to be an agent of internal security, and offers them rewards for information and certain projects. They re-equip and prepare to set off to Shadowdale once more.
A friend of the 7, Kristopher Delabaume, has been locked up by the town militia facing a murder charge, his father believes he is innocent and asks the 7 to look into it.
The 7, with their own Militiaman Rhivaun, begin interviewing witnesses to the murder and asking questions of those that attented the poker game that lead to the murder. They find evidence of a scam gone wrong, two thieves setting up poker games, playing to lose and then planting cards on unsuspecting players in order of accuse them of cheating and win the entire pot.
After one of these scams an argument has broken out, one thief has murdered the other and tried to lay the blame on Kristopher by bribing witnesses. When this evidence is brought to the Militia they set Kristopher free. Later, one of their informants sees the other thief entering a tenement block on the Dalesway Road, the 7 surround the building, flush out the thief from his hiding place and with the aid of Oceane's well placed Daze spell, take him prisoner.
With the experience gained, both Elvalador and Auguste gain a rank as Mage and Psion respectively.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The Naval cemetery on Gibraltar is tucked away in a corner, it looks slightly forlorn and overgrown but has had some work done to it recently, probably due to the surge of interest in the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.
Just reading between the lines makes you feel for what poor Thomas Norman must have gone through before death mercifully took him, over six weeks of constant agony and suffering before he succumbed.
This is what most folks want to see when they some to the Rock, judging by the amount of tour mini-buses anyway, the Barbary Apes. Legend has it that the Rock will remain British as long as the Apes remain on the Rock. Winston Churchill was so superstitious that he had more Apes shipped in during WWII to maintain the size of the colony.
I walked right to the top of the Rock, you can get up here by car or tour bus if you would prefer, via the King's Walkway, a rickety series of steps climbing very steeply up the mountain. There are large warning signs telling you not to cross the fence and attempt the steps, but I did anyway, it is on the verge of collapsing though, so if you follow in my footsteps and fall off, don't say you didn't get a warning.
The Apes seem pretty much disinterested in people, unless there is food on offer (again, despite even bigger signs telling you not to feed the apes), then they will mug you, climb onto / into your car and generally become a hairy, screaming, frightening problem. Keep your food out of sight, keep your valuables tucked away and let the Apes continue their job of keeping the Spaniards out of Gib.
Just a quick walk last week, my foot has been giving me trouble more or less permanently so I though I could just about manage a stroll around the reservoir, in the driving sleet as it turned out.
Potential Christmas dinner at the stream / West end of the reservoir.
Looking up a cold and breezy Swinsty from the dam at the Eastern end.
Rose Bay Willow Herb. Just the three pictures as that is exactly the number of times I took my hands out of my nice, warm pockets on the walk.
Godson Joseph has a speaking role this year as one of the wise men, last years performance as the mute sheep hurling shepherd was, erm, interesting, so I approach this years do with some trepidation.
But you see it's Christmas, the time of miracles, and Jo does speak, and sing, and lead the wise men up and down the hall without vanishing into the cloak room. He even manages to bring "Goldfrankinsensemyrhh" for the baby Jesus after momentarily forgetting which of the three was in his hands.
It was a great show again, with heart warming / giggle inducing performances from all the children. Even better, it was a two for one ticket, after the little ones had finished the nativity, the older boys and girls did a pantomime, Cinderella, for us, very well put together and some lovely singing and comic acting, top marks to the two Cinderella's, the Ugly Sisters and the whole cast.
I'm sorry that headmaster Roger Bumby is leaving the school, I have attended a number of events at Hawksworth and it's a marvellous, open, warm and friendly school that Roger and his excellent staff have created. School was never like this when I was little, I was speaking to my father and he is similarly impressed with the place, it is absolutley great when parents / grandparents / godparents can become so involved.
Looking around the school last week when they were holding their Christmas fair I was very impressed with the standard of the children's work that was displayed in the classrooms, particularly the Great Fire of London essays and the ice poetry.
Hawksworth is a C of E primary school, the children are taught RE alongside all their other lessons and the tenets of openess, friendship, fair play, inclusion and equality are strongly in evidence around the school. Good luck Roger with whatever you have chosen to do next, and thankyou for making us all feel so welcome on our visits to the school.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
David Cameron, 39, has finally taken over as new leader of the Conservative party after an election campaign that lasted several years and gripped the attention of absolutely no-one.
David is the youngest Tory leader since Pitt the Younger, Pliny the Much Younger and Smith What's A Child Doing In The Commons ? Indeed, Cameron was only 22 when the election process began and still has to get his mummy's permission to attend late night sittings in parliament.
David Cameron, 16, cycles to work at the Commons and is really looking forward to getting his provisional driving license next year. It is widely believed that Cameron won the leadership election only because every mad old fart in the Tory party had already had a go at the job.
Cameron's predecessor, Count Howard the Black of Folkestone and Carpathia had retired to his coffin for the day and was unavailable for comment. Two or three dozen other Tory MP's who had held the job over the past few years spent all day telling the press how happy they were to have a youngster in charge, IDS said he was looking forward to bouncing the little chap on his knee and telling him stories of the war.
In his maiden speech as Tory leader, Cameron said he was going to bring the party together and march as one to the next election defeat at the hands of Gordon 'Black Hole Budget' Brown.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
And not before time, it's about two and half years, and 3.5 million sales of the last album. It's a long wait for some new material, is it worth it ? Well, waiting time gripe done with, I have another moan, it's only 35 minutes long, bloody hell lads, what happened to the long songs ?
There are ten pop song length tracks on the album and when I first listened to 'One Way Ticket..' I must admit I thought 'Oh dear'. I have persevered though, and the album has grown and grown on me.
OWT isn't quite as hard rocking and riffy as Permission To Land, which is a shame, but with producer Roy Thomas Baker on board (credits include Queen, Bowie, Free, Foreigner, Journey, Yes, Santana, The Who, Frank Zappa and did I mention Queen ?) the musical style had become a little more complex and he has certainly put Jutin's vocal talents to good use, there is no shortage of improbably high pitched wailing on OWT.
Lyrically, you could say either deeply silly or just very entertaining, the Darkness don't have a message to push, they're no Coldplay (thank the Lord), they just want to entertain. So whether it's "Put your dinner lady arms around me", "Hoots I cannae get back to me hoos in bonny Scotland" or "Bald, slap headed and hairless" you can't help but smile at the sheer daftness of what's going on here.
Musically, it nods more towards Queen (the opening of Hazel Eyes especally) or latter days Yes rather than the Thin Lizzyesque riffage which populated the first album, there are more piano - moog - hammond - other synth bits than before, soaring violin bits and various other instrumental bits, it soars, it swoops, it blends together very well indeed.
When The Darkness released Permission To Land I was rather hoping that they might lead a resurgence in proper rock music, but apart from a few sputtering starts from the likes of The Glitterati it looks like that wasn't destined to be. The reason though why The Darkness are standing head and shoulders above various other British and US rockers such as Funeral For A Friend, InMe, Hundred Reasons, Fall out Boy, My Chemical Romance etc is the sheer quality of the songs, they are well written, catchy, memorable. After playing FFAF about a dozen times I still can't remember a single song from it.
I was a little cool with OWT at first, but apart from being a bit short, it is fantastic, tight, well written, played and produced, daft as a box of monkeys, fun, fun, fun. If you like proper rock, it's a tenner well spent.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
OK, so you know why I bought this one, an incredibly long winded and pretentious name, the promise of hard edged prog rock, long songs, and of course that fact that only about ten other people have heard of them, that's me, the inverse popularity elitist.
There are good reasons though why others amongst you should start listening to Coheed And Cambria, and that is that they write and perform very good rock songs.
A tiny bit of background, Coheed and Cambria are apparently the names of the two lead characters in the sci-fi epic that the band have written across four albums. DON'T PANIC! The good news is that unless you make an in depth study of the lyrics, the sci-fi epic bit isn't noticeable. Actually, I have been poring over the lyrics and I still can't make much from it.
The music though is great, longish songs allowing for plenty of changes in pace and direction, but again, do not panic, these are not the wandering aimless prog songs you might know and detest, these are tight, well written slabs of music. If you like Rush, The Mars Volta, Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin then I am sure there is plenty here that you are going to enjoy. It's the Rush comparison that rings truest, and probably because of Claudio Sanchez's vocal style, there's more than an echo of Geddy Lee in his voice.
Singer and songwriter Sanchez has a slightly odd, upbeat style which makes his often dark lyrics seem that little bit more sinister. A lot of the songs focus on Claudio's feelings after breaking up with his girlfriend, it's like someone went to Dave Mustaine and said "Hey Dave, how about turning 'In My Darkest Hour' into a concept album?'". Not all that happy then.
I don't want to make the music sound simpler than it is either, although after a few listenings you might find yourself singing along to "Ten speed of God's blood and burial" or gently crooning along with "I'll do anything for you, kill anyone for you", these are not your standard verse, chorus, verse, solo, chorus compositions. Good Apollo is not a very difficult album to get into, but it does reward you a little more each time you delve into it's twists and turns.
I have really enjoyed this album, there are some terrific tunes on here, nice artwork, interesting and odd lyrics, it's a good album, go out and buy it, then they'll become popular and I'll have to go out and find some other strange, underground band who only manage to sell about 10 cd's. It's so hard being awkward.
Monday, December 05, 2005
The rest of Spain is awash in bright sunshine, ominous looking clouds are hovering over the bit owned by the Brits, just like being at home.
Hello ladies, look at the size of my weapon eyc, etc. Gib is littered with guns and gun emplacements, all over the Rock there are reminders of Britain's battles with Spain.
Painted steps on the way up to see the apes, it says E II R if you can'y make it out, they're fiercely proud of their heritage over here, much like the Northern Ireland protestants.
A view from the footpath with British warships in Gibraltar harbour.
There was a big sign here saying 'Keep Out', so I went in, well, there was a big hole in the fence. The old stores and ammuniton lifts are still here, along with evidence of boozing and bonking.
The guns are still in place, looking over to the Spanish mainland, but with a new message.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Doh, the devil may have all the best music, but it would appear he has the thickest followers as well, here are two quotes from Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, made in the same interview only a couple of minutes apart.
Being asked about his beliefs young Matt says......
"I don't feel that advocating Satanism is any more dangerous than advocating Christianity.....Heaven and Hell is right here in front of you and your life is what you decide to make of it. I'm attracted to that, the right to choose......the people in heaven telling me what I can and can't do arn't the people I want to spend eternity with."
And moments later.......
"It's my belief that there is nothing after you die."
Um, I think you're getting a mite confused there Matt, you worship the Devil but don't believe in Heaven, Hell or an afterlife ?
I bought last week's Kerrang which had a promo code for a free month of Napster use (I've long given up on the various free file sharing services which have a tendency to download a free virus with each song).
I have already downloaded the new abums by SOAD and Rammstein, how does this system work though, is anyone getting paid for me downloading these albums or is Napster just facilitating music theft again ?
Oh good grief, the things you do for love. I was having my dinner with the Godchildren on Thursday evening, I had finished my curry and nibbles but Ellie was creating a little bit of a fuss about eating hers.
I had tried various ways to persuade her, finishing with "Well we'll just sit here all night then," when she spied a lemon quarter on my plate and pointed out that I hadn't finished mine.
Oh dear, sensing a dangerous argument vs. toddler logic I cut a slice of my lemon wedge, pith and all, and chewed it down. Mollified by this daft behaviour Ellie then ate a few mouthfuls of lovely curry for each bitter gobful of lemon that I could force down. My sister sat at the table grinning happily at my buffoonery.
What a foul end to a nice dinner, maybe I should have stuck with the threats of strait to bed without pudding / no bedtime story / physical violence etc.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Pakistan have declared on several thousand for 8 after the world's second portliest cricketer made an unbeaten quadruple century, Steve Harmison also set a new world record for the most runs conceded in an over.
Did we pass through a time warp ? Is it the early 90's again ? What's going on ?
Thursday, December 01, 2005
So, can we name all the bands in this picture, you can see the picture slightly larger here.
Alice In Chains
The Beach Boys
Guns 'n Roses
Hare Krishna Temple
Manic Street Preachers
Nine Inch Nails
Pet Shop Boys
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Hmmm, is there a band called The Pink Dildo Pistols ? Or Run Away There's A Big Rock Coming ? Oh dear, I'm struggling already.
Ye Gods, apparently there are 74 to get, only 68 to go then.
Update, well, there were supposed to be 74 bands, together we've managed to get 75, reckon we've nailed that one then.
Picture - The inner city of Varaghast showing the church of Caswell, Boran's Weapons, the Raurindi Trade House and the old city wall with guard tower.
There's been a murder, a friend of the 7, Kristopher Delabaume, has been imprisoned and is facing the death penalty of the killing of a man after a card game. The boy's father, Frederick, has hired the 7 to find the truth of the matter and to clear his son's good name.
Kristopher was accused of cheating during the card game, then apparently stabbed of of his accusers to death when the game ended. Two witnesses have been found by the militia, Obbling Tom the vagrant, and a labourer called Morgan Byford who was returning from a night's drinking.
Obbling Tom's statements are wandering and incoherent, but he claims to have been paid to say the name Kristopher Delabaume. Under questioning, Byford changes his story from the original statement he gave to the militia, it apppears that he has also been paid off but is thinking better of it now that he has sobered up and under pressure.
The 7 uncover what appears to be a scam, a card game is set up, one or two of the invited players win heavily, but then during the largest pot of the night they are exposed as cheats and one of the organisers ends up winning the pot. This has worked well until the two thieves running the scam began to argue, even though they are earning good money from their trick, the two thieves have fallen out, the arguments came to a head before the last card game with insults freely thrown between the two men.
After the game, one of the thieves, Harol Westsmith, decides he would be better off with a new partner and he murders his former friend and bribes Tom and Morgan to frame Kristopher.
Morgan is suitably contrite after almost bringing about the death of an innocent man, and when he spots Westsmith going into a tenemant block he informs the 7. They arrive and knock on the door. Westsmith sets fire to his room and tries to escape out the window, but Oceane has been stationed in the alley and freezes him in place with a well targeted Daze spell. Criminal captured and no blood spilled all night, that must be a first.
With that experience Auguste has reached 3rd level Psion-Telepath, and Elvalador 3rd level Mage. The party have taken on a new seventh member, the Goblin heretic Garag, a priest of Ilmater the Painbearer.
The Lords of Varaghast are seeking ways to feed the still growing mass of refugees that are camped beyond the city walls, proclamations have been read out offering cash rewards for the capture of livestock from the occupied lands of Shadowdale, Mistledale and Northern Cormyr, and also for the proven killing of members of the occupying forves of Gith, Drow and Orcs.
The 7 are off to seek their fortune in Shadowdale, they have bought a cart and donkey (to haul their loot ?), trail rations and a goodly length of rope for hobbling wandering farm animals, registered themselves as a trading coster, and are poised to venture into Drow occupied Shadowdale.
More next week.......