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August 21, 2008

Corduroy Cowboy

vw workvw roof offdsc00542.jpg#

Here's the Van at an early stage. In the first photo you will notice the rust over the wheel arch. We've now had that welded so we should be able to install some seatbelts too. The roof is back on now hopefully totally sealed to the elements. The windows have also been resealed and the rust welded.

beetlejuicebeetlejuice at the amersham arms

I bopped to the Amersham Arms of a screening of that wonderful film Beetlejuice with James H, James A and Andrew S. We had a few pints and hotdogs and were totally sated and entertained!

optimumfoxes nobsohobritish sexHerepj

These are some of the sights and sounds of Soho that I encountered whilst working at Optimum Releasing. I did a lot of running and got to know the film world that exists in that area. The first picture above is of the excellent Indiana Jones pin-ball machine. Great fun. The next picture is of an ale pull called fox's nob. Haha. Stephen Fry got a nasty stain out of a silk shirt of mine in the celebrity dry cleaners. The PJ's there in the window are what I got Becky for her Birthday. The sun is saying to the cloud "Get out of my way!".

Tony Blair is a religious hypocrite

This is there security that was arranged for a speech Tony Blair made in Westminster Cathedral about religon and politcs. It was a hugely noisey in an attempt to drown out the crashing hypocracy inside. I brought along my Grandpa's old drum which was great and I met my little Asian sister Ash for shoutyness and a pint or two.

mmmarina dinner

Here's a tastey meal Marina made. Russian food is delicious.


How did this happen? Such a late snow day. Pretty tho.


Mmmmm, Japanese Canteen teriyaki Salmon. Hells yeah! I bopped over there one lunch time with James who was working very nearby at myspace. Let me reitterate; mmmmmmm!


garden1garden2garden 3

I scaled the tree at the bottom of the garden to pull down the parasitical ivy. I was worried that it was going to pull the tree down in a high wind. Nice view. It was a bit hairy as the wind picked up and it rained a tad. Some of the ivy was as thick as your arm and it required a saw, shears and a lot of elbow greese. I disturbed this Squirrel's nest and this tiny fella fell basically from the top of this tree to the bottom. It crawled over my arm and then Ziggy wanted to sink his teeth into him.

squrillbare tree

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So one day this had sprung up right next to the office I was working at. It's a thing of beauty if you ask me... A good bit of free art for all of the Oxford St shoppers and tourists who are otherwise simply bombarded by advertising and crap. I love it tho. This is so my city.

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This is my beautiful road in Hackney. Walking down this was always makes me feel fulla homely joy.

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Becky's birthday party was as ever a jokes, completely mental affair. Lots of lovely crazy people came around. Including some mental neighbours who threw bottles at one another and are the cheif suspects in the doorstep poo case. It had electro echoes of Bex's 21st and some excellent and snazzy, pimping get-ups. I was super glad that Foxy Annora Karim and Spud made the effort to bust up to give the party a second wind after the first haf of Synergy in London. The next morning Spud made some excellent spag bol and we all kicked back. Below we have John wearing all of Ruth's jewellery and hats and Ruth, wearing bunny ears.

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Below is the view from Optimum Releasing's new offices off Carnaby St. Also a DVD cover that made me think of my housemates, or as I like to call them my 'three wives'.

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I got to sit in on a lot of meetings between the Optimum marketing team and the Elevation sales team. I even got to sit in on the third quarter presentation where all of the upcoming releases were discussed and forecasts and projections were mulled over. It was held in a beautiful hotel near Picadilly Circus.

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What is this all about?

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A helpful little underground sign. And Optimum's theatrical releasing department when most people have gone home.

Here's Fred with two huge posters he bought online. They're massive and massively cool. Debbie Harry and Jackie Chan Le Magnifique! They're going to cost a bomb to frame my friend. But worth it indeed! Better than wallpaper!

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A real life Samuri helmet. Each photo progressivly more scary than the last.

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It's little baby Rosien. What a lovely wiley baby! A total cutestick.

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Gaia relaxing in the driveway. Sunny day... Why not?

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So here are the sets I helped design along with Emma Fernandez. They came out really well and were excellently and expressively used. I liked to think of the play as a triptych so that was reflected and we created a forrest with one tree, smoke, lighting and projection. The tree worked really well I think and wend up into the rafters and I think it conveyed it's hollowness like the tree in Pan's Labyrinth, anyway it fit 3 witch-like woodsmen in it which was a boon!

the duende director

Here's the director herself: Petia. She did a very fine job and produced a sizziling piece I'm sure Lorca would have been impressed by.

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Here's 75 Newcombe Road. From behind.

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We went for a nice picnic in Regent's park. Here we have Lucy, Spud, Annora, Simon, Toby and Karim. It was pretty banterful. I forget where we went afterward but it was really good to see everyone, especially Lucy who isn't in the country very often.

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BBQ and Kinderchess time! How fine!

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Notice the "Vegetarian" Becky Allen. Gnaw girl!

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I was enlisted to help my pops move a garden chair from my Grandpa's. On our way home we stopped and had a lovely Vietnamese in Shoreditch. I saw James Howard and Phil in a bar so I hopped out and said hi before chowing down.

July 09, 2008

January, February, March & Marches.

hanging pigs VW in progress

New years brought a family wide commitment to reducing the anount of meat we eat to help reduce our carbon footprints. This is wholly unfair as neither my parents or my brother live on a road with a butchers at the top of it.

The grand work on the VW begain with my first task: change the tire. Done and done.

haha 3

I made my promise to reduce my meat consumption at Testi's turkish restaurant. I was eating lamb's testicles at the time but we began our veggie vow over this ray of beautiful meatless hope. If that makes any sense.

At the start of the year I handed in a managing intellectual property essay which I did on the fair dealing clause of the Copyrights and Patents act. It was really interesting but I don't think I'm cut out to be a lawyer. I did alright tho getting a 69. Can't compalin.

The CME crew had a great little party on the 17th of January at Sophie's pad in Coventry. DJ micromonkey (kate) threw on some great little bangers! It was so hot from all the dancing we had to take regular water breaks and stick our heads out of the door to keep cool.

party cme style an old married couple

On the 18th I watched Black Sheep with Freddy . It was a pretty shit movie, with no plot, crud dialogue and come cool makeup. It could have been so much better. But it was pretty much a waste of time.

This January saw the end of series 2 of Torchwood. I've gotta say it was vastly superior to series one on the whole. There were still some huge flaws but it was great fun none the less with a lot more emphasis on characterisations and character development. A good series all in all. Lots of light fun.


On the 22nd of Jan I won the One World Week story reading competition with the story below "The Beasts of Accrum Moor". Jokes! Well worth a day's work slaving over the keypad. Neil Gaiman was right; Writing is one of the most enjoyable things one can do by oneself.

On the 25th I went to see Sweeny Todd in the Arts Centre. A great live performance, one of the best things I've seen MTW do, and I'm not just saying that because Becky was stage managing. Totally rousing and great set and music. Movement on the stage was a bit stilted but the performances were otherwise great.

On the 4th I went to London to meet with the artistic director of the BFi. He set me up with another meeting with the marketing supremo. Gale Cohen. The next day I popped in on the Optimum Releasing who offered me a placement right off.

It was Ruth's birthday on the 7th and we celebrated on the 8th. On the 9th we went to see John Hegley at the Arts Centre. He rocked hard! It was a great show, I'd missed live Hegley. So so dry and surreal. 

Blood Wedding and green pancakes Lost Senses production meeting

Above you can see the prepartory meetings for two submissions I was involved in for slots in the Warwick Arts Centre. The first one; with the green pancake, is of Emma who was doing design with me for Petia's production of Lorca's "Blood Wedding". The second photo is the production team for a project that became called "Lost Senses". I was super excited about this as it was to be devised, promenade and I was going to help shape the script and do design which would have involved using lots of nooks and crannies backstage and allow the audience an interactive, experiential theatre show.The submissions were on the 13th of Feb. It would have rocked, the team was great and I would have been able to write my major project on the project. Sadly we lost at the submission stage, despite the fact that I believe we had one of the best submissions ever. Others thought the same and started a huge, contentious discussion on facebook:


This discussion instigated a meeting to discuss the process which unfortunately I couldn't make. Sadly I also was unable to make the performance of the play that beat us. I was sad because we were beaten by my favourite shakespeare play "Macbeth" but I had to finish an essay before heading off to Glastonbury. But I do bemoan the lack of student devised theatre in the arts centre, but nevermind, I can't bear a grudge and I was able to do some amazing placements which I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. Such is life.

Roving CCTV Earlsdon sunset

/Something to say for Coventry over London. \

I think the following photos are from a night a Top B or some such with a clutch of lovely fellows from my department from variously; China, Korea, Taiwan and Poland. As you can see we didn't succumb to the lure of cheap purple.

top b anyone?

I got hoes in different international-dialing codes

Here's some lovely munch broken up by something I spotted and thought pretty outside work (click for bigger).

The first meal is a veggie burger breakfast with all the trimmings, cheers to Becky for that one. The other is a jacket Poe Tay Toe as big as your face, but luckily not quite as big as my mouth.

mmmmbike seatjacket Po Ta Toe

On the 19th of Feb we bopped down to the Phoenix to support our mates Gareth and Jack doing standup in a regional competion. Gareth won a slot at Edinburgh and they both brought the house down, but don't take my word for it, check it yourself:





new ebay boots!

These boots were made for partying!

On the 12th of Feb Becky and I were due to go for a date at Kakooti's in Coventry but the whole of the town was cosed off as an unexploded bomb was found so we went into Earlsdon instead and had a lovely meal.

I went down to London ready to start my placement at Optimum on the following Monday on Saturday the 15th of March. My dad picked me up and we took Ruth with us and we went to a Stop the War March. Just as we were discussing my fears about driving the VW and the accelerator locking off shooting me into oncoming traffic my dad said "What would you do in that situation? You'd engage the clutch doofus" at that exact moment the clutch went on the Espace. We had to push the car across a huge crossing and pull up in a bus stop. We decided that rather than wait for rescue of popping home via the bus we'd just jump onto a train to trafalgar sq to meet JW and the marchers. Alan decided rather than call the rescue services immediately; first things first, cross the road and buy a packet of fags. HAHA! that's addiciton for ya!

stop... killing people you...

The march was great, loads of people there in Traf sq from the off, and it was amazing to see people still snaking onto Westminster Bridge as we at the front of the march were crossing Lambeth Bridge.


JW oversees Ruth gets in there

Here's JW surveying the situation.                 And here's Ruth, citizen journalist getting some good pics for the Daily Planet.

you don

Easter fandangocakes!

Just before I started work at Optimum Easter weekend was upon us, so I took the chance, with Alan and Vix to pop down to Devon to see the Grandrents and the cousins. We had a great time. Amazing food, lots of chocolate, This wonderful wafer cake gifted us by Marina. I lazed around a lot and was fed like a prince as usual.

A proper Grandpa Breakfast

While I was down there I was trying to organise a lift to a demonstration at Aldermaston, the nuclear weapons base. I managed to get a lift with this lovely pair. One of whom was a Quaker with some very interesting insights. We shared the front seat which was a godsend because the previous night I hadn't slept well and had some sort of stomach bug which meant that I was sick that night. But by the time we hit the road I was fine and not bad company I hope.

Cheers ladies

The Hiroshima delegationWhat happens to you in an atomic explosion

It was a fantastic demonstration, we totally surrounded the base with thousands of protesters. There was a rinkydink peddlepowered soundsystem, a lorry with stage that took the fantastic speakers around the various entrances. Another gazebo with speakers including an excellent older chap who was at the 1968 march who regailed us with all the details as someone started a fire and it begun snowing. There was even a delagation from Hiroshima who were fantastic, they gave out peace fans and sung some beautiful songs which the rinky dink amplified. Just stunning.

I borrowed this skull mask from my Auntie Jen which was great, and I borrowed my grandad's old scout drum with which to attack the base and make ourselves hear. There were lots of people with noisemakers. It was fantastic. My neighbour Bob was there with a giant nuclear bomb and I managed to jump on a coach back to London too with my new little asian sister Ash who can be seen below posing with my laminated poster which reads AWE=WMD=MAD     That is, for the layman:

Atomic Weapons Establishment


Weapons of Mass Destruction


Mutually Assured Destruction

Greenpeace Bomb

Give Peace a Budget

'Give peace a budget' was my favourite sign there, but the entire fence was beautifully adorned with signs, posters flags and knickers. PANTS FOR PEACE!


Walter WolfgangNuclear Bomb Factory directions

What a great turn out. Nuclear weapons... Who needs them.

Click below for a bigger pic if your screen allows you.

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July 06, 2008

Christmas and New Year 07/08 Fartensplau


So there it was Merry x-Mas. What a lovely one. This is a wreath I made for the Allen household. I had a really good time going with them to pick a tree, decorate it and drink warm cider.


Kina popped over and here you can see her with Ziggy on her lap and Vix by her side. She joined us in Gurnsey, and I joined her for a Catholic mass on Christmas morning. It was nice to see what chrsitians make of the whole thing that they apparently started. But it was a little culty, lots of chanting and all of that stuff.

Wise man Archie

here's Archie, fresh down from Scotland. Great to have him down as ever.

Our Tree Debs and Rosh

I loce christmas trees. They look great from outside and smell great on the inside. Baby Rosh's first x-mas was lovely. She didn't evenmind wearing the crown. She has got a big head. Lotta brains that girl.

Queen Rosh

We went to Gurnsey from the 23rd of December to the 27th. We had all of the Webb cousins, Grandpa and Grandma Cuckoo, Granny Kina, Arch, the rents and myself. We feasted and swam and played lots and lots of games. There were speeches for Grandpa and Grandma's Gold Anniversary on Boxing day, a letter from the Queen and Doctor Who stopping a giant replica of the Titanic crashing into her. Great fun, nice walks, I bought myself a suit and some excellent shoes from an Oxfam for a fiver which have steel toecaps and a map of London on them. Jokes!

Carcassone and Jamie grandma

a gurnsey shop

Sunset at a Nazi bunker

a Nazi bunker in Gurnsey

A true wise man

Foodglorious foodmore food

New years was a fantastic affair, we decided to go to a steam punk party. We went all out, we were even joined by Gaurav. I built some working canvas wings and we all looked like some victorians up for anything, an absinth party or a war with aliens. Even a detour to a squat pub in Clapton. It was a great night, totally mental. We got involved in a round table discussion forum with added helium and had our futures told. A great night to ring in the new year and no doubt.

The Fartensplau Gang

matt 18th century time rift

squat swing     ALien

Round table

This is Coventry

Matt and chair primark hoodies

So we hunted down and found a great little place in Earlsdon. It's really cool because one can cycle to campus in 20 minutes, take a bus in 10 or 15 minutes and walk in 40/50 minutes. The office chairs and some of the furniture in the house was crap so our landlord (Kingsley Cull, great name) gave us permission to buy some stuff. We went to OfficeMate or some such in Becky's car and got all the chairs we needed. But it was a bit of a squeeze in the car. We also went to Morrisons and bought all the neccessary items. Such as toaster and all that sizzle.

burying a small child

We also tried to do a bit to beautify the place and make the best use of our garden, which is really long and backs on to a pretty primary school. So here is Becky burying a small child. I jest it's beans or something. No zombies have crawled their way out yet. But we have been quite sucessful with some bedding plants around the front and a creeper we're trying to grow over the doorway. I reckon Mr Cull owes us for increasing the value of his property ;o)

vix and rosh

Ok this isn't coventry, it's baby Roshi. I made a few trips back to London, often for a break from the hustle and bustle of coventry and usually for a bit of a Planet Angel or Synery party. When I'm lucky Debs and baby Rosh visit at the same time. They're a lovely pair but already a bit of an odd couple. Debs is a great muma (how couldn't she having had such excellent practice) and Rosh is imbued with the wonder and amazement of life, wide eyed all the time. And she really loves her muma. And she loves my muma too which is good.


He's JW getting a killer wedgie from Verity. I was lucky enough to see her Left Luggage company in the middle of September at Shunt, one of London's best secrets. I saw their next show premiere in an old converted church in docklands which was really great. Brilliant design and a great evocation of a period with puppets and space.


Here's Becky and a deer in Clissold Park one chilly Sunday afternoon. Deerlightful.

thursday morning purple smoothie

So back to Coventry. The photo above left is campus on a thursday morning. Can you spot how I why I know this is a Thursday? And here's Anita a coursemate of mine with a lovely purple smoothie she made me. It matches the colour of the walls in her Heronbank halls.

Nagging Wife

This is my nagging wife on a particularly dishevelled, sunny Coventry morning on the way to the bus.

dalek cookies I made some dalek cookies. They were delicious.

Curry Media Enterprises

Here's my great CME group having an end of term curry at King Baba's. Again this is in Leamington, not Coventry, that'll be a bit of a theme of my time here ;o).  A great bunch of people and a great meal and time had by all. Especially me, in prevegetarian days, working as the human dustbin! Gosh it was a long table with a lot of seat swapping.


This time we escaped to Brimingham. That's the real blessing of Coventry, it's really easy to get out of it to proper cities. I joke. I love place. We managed to get some free tickets for the Stereophonics from RAW, it was a really good gig, great tunes, a great light show, all the better for being free. Ooh but they gouged us on the drinks :op

film noir

Ahh this is my old common room, lookin very film noir. I still pop in occasionally for a daytime nap.

The following six photos are from a really fun trip to visit the Harpenden boys in Manchester. It was Alex's birthday so we did a cool tour of the city, I got a haircut, we went to see Bill Bailey's Tinsel Worm in the MEN Arena and we went raving in the excellent warehouse project.

manchester mural tinsel worm


sam and cress alex

We lost Matt as a housemate to a job on campus that pays his rent and has the added bonus of giving him the authority to bollock and fine first years: resident tutor. So after we found our new housemate I had to change our Blur poster that hangs as a centrepiece in our living room:

newcombe blur     Newcombe Blur Ruth

Everyone was so egotistical that they failed to point out that my hair isn't actually that colour. Shit.

I applied for a little job on campus and my wives did too, as did Rowan. But strangely only I, the least qualified, got the job. Here are some pictures by a visiting artist, that were displayed during our work shifts, that quite accurately summise the job:

You owe me

i love you

It's good work and really reassuring as I got to speak to many film and CME graduates who are doing well, some good contacts and work placement opportunities. Also there were a lot of nice people working there. But the organisers have slightly too much fondness for karaoke. I hate karaoke.

cooking and games wife sleeping in freddy

Here's two of my wives having naps, hibernating during the winter months.

the wivesJ the G

We went for a christmas meal at Wing War's, a local all you can eat buffet where they cook some of the food infront of you in a sizzling style. Above is a pic of John the Grocer (JtheG) a classic scotsman dressed like a classic russian. Well it was cold. And delicious.

this is coventry

This photo sums up Coventry for me. The child didn't float as well as the trike.

March 16, 2008

An old untitled poem.

This is a hangover,
and I’m on edge.

If i fall it will be onto eggshells,
but you can’t make an omlette.

Turns out I flew off the pan handle
and into the fire.

March 10, 2008

ID Opinion

NO2ID letter, Evening Standard

Check this out (click the image for larger)

I got a message on my Facebook on Thursday the 6th while I was finishing an essay on creativity for a guy at the Evening Standard asking me to write a letter giving a student perspective on Jacqui Smith's regiged ID card scheme. I boshed out these three paragraphs and gave the guy a call who suggested a few grammatical/syntax tweaks here and there and it became the lead letter on Friday the 7th's copy!

Well Chuffed you might say! Anyway back to business please check out the national website: http://www.no2id.net/

and if you're a Warwick student and want to get involved please conact me directly as I'd really like to start up a preemptive NO2ID society on campus to fight a system that's got us in its sights. We're first up against the wall, let's fight back!

demonstration, meeting in Trafalgar Sq      

On the topic of fighting back, Everyone should get their asses down to London on the 15th of this month to protest 5 years since we began on the illegal escapade that is the Iraq "War". Read occupation. This is a protest for peace. For a real, urgent, lasting peace in Iraq, Afganistan, Palestine and to show that we won't support the risk of military action in Iran that would endanger our troops and so many civilans.

Prince Harry has just returned from Afganistan and the armed forces appear to me to be recruiting harder than ever. Let's sort this country out first before we embark on projects in god forsaken deserts simply to bolster our flagging arms industry.

Click Here for more details: Demonstration 15th March 

BBC coverage of the March 5 years ago: 


NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state

(I'll catch up on the more "mundane" [read; fantastically exciting] posts about my life as a student, a creative, a party person and any other complimentary adjectives one might use to describe me & what I get up to; feck it is my blog is it not?) 

February 28, 2008

Biggest blog post ever. The Second Curve of Summer '07

It’s taken way too long to get around to imparting this next portion of my life, the end of summer into the beginning of Postgrad study so I’m going to have to make it a quick run down even though it’s been way exciting and eventful, so imagine the events imparted multiplied by about 25 to cover all of the cool stuff I forget/don’t have the time to include. This will probs be my biggest post every so I don’t expect anyone but me to trawl through it but I’ll add as many pics as I can find to break it up. Also it only really reaches the start of uni in October:

Billy and the giant Evering Road Corgette

So when I got back from France it was pretty swift before my cousin Tom, his friend Hugh and a French kid of about the same age were due to come over to stay. I went to pick up Billy from the Eurostar on the Friday afternoon, well 12ish; which is still morning to a lay-about like me. I took him home and initiated him into the hell that is the Oyster Card. Then I decided that the best thing to do for my cousin, his friend and this French fellow was to settle them down in front of a badass studio Ghibli movie: Castle in the Sky, which had the benefit of French subtitles. I was supposed to be educating this kid in English was I not? But it turned out that he wasn’t really interested and neither were Tom and Hugh. I also set out the Dreamcast in case that was more to their liking so Hugh and Tom played that into the night whereas I think Billy wanted to just go to bed and play on his phone and perhaps do a little reading (they all thought the film was too childish!! The fools!).

Chatau dans la ciel our heros


Planet Angel 10th August
That evening Becky and I went to Planet Angel which was as amazing as ever; we met some awesome new people and caught up with some of our Planet family. I left the Planet Angel website open so that Tom could check out the evening on the webcam but I doubt he saw us as we spent most of the mild evening in the garden, chilling massaging, drinking tea and watching poi. It was also cool to catch up with Will Mitchell and co. When we got home I said good morning to Gaia and laid out some breakfast for the kids.

Gaia and the Boy

We stocked up on food, and I took Billy to K-stores taking the time to explain to him the travel situation and pausing to check out the giant squash that was growing on our street. On the Saturday we chilled out and prepared stuff for the BBQ we planned to have, which was timed so that Billy and Tom etc could get a chance to hang out with various members of the London posse as they had been cruelly denied that chance on the Friday. We sadly missed a sunny hangout on the Thames beach which Foxy and the guys were at, but we were too whacked and we had to get coal in and prepare salads. Big style.

BBQ 12th-August
This was a frankly fantastic BBQ, I borrowed next doors flat BBQ and stoked up the chimenea. Loads of people came down for it, the Liverpool St & Ricky posse, the Film Folks, Nadders and his little bro Hamim, the delightful Gladers all made it along later in the evening (they’re evening people), Sylv (pictured) and a French friend of hers, Toby and a French mate of his who I’d met in Serville previously called Vianney. A couple of uni peeps made it over as well as Nathan and even Becky's sisters made it down and Maddy stayed for a few days after, and we hit the Tate en masse.

Steph Allen Jamie and Jen or The Hulk and Captain America Em, Slyv, and I

Everyone ate bountiful meats salads, played table tennis, imbibed, all to a relaxed playlist coming out of a speaker pointed out of the door. Rip-roaring good fun! There were lots of cool creative and simply lovely people. It didn’t cost a bomb and Becky put on the most amazing salad spread (my fave was tomato and buffalo tomato which we sneakily bought from fresh and wild).


the guys; Karim, Joel and Simon

9 black alps
One morning I was listening to XFM, they had a competition to see 9 Black Alps at La Scala, I entered, won, called James Howard, went along with him, it was quite fun, we left before it finished as the music was mediocre and had a nice beer and a catch up in the pub on platform 9 of kings cross station. Nice evening all in all and I was glad to get to check out La Scala as a venue.


Just before we went to Reading Becky was intent on dreading her hair so we sat down for a day at hers and I divided, backcombed, handrolled and waxed from around 12 noon until around 1 in the morning stopping only for 2 hours for a slap-up Daddy Allen lunch. I assume we visited the Inn too on another night. Billy headed home as we left for…

Reading 24th-27th Aug
This was another great festival to finish off a summer of great, mental festivals. We were working a beer tent with the workers beer company for Campaign Against the Arms Trade. We took our tent and a train, when we arrived at Reading station we asked directions to the festival and then proceeded to get lost, having been confused by the fact we weren’t going to the main entrance. We took a cab the last little bit of the walk as we were lost and carrying a lot of stuffs. We got in and had our photos taken for staff cards then we went off to meet the Harpenden crew in a nearby campsite (which was convenient when we had to go and meet our group, have a briefing or use the superb ruby-ground facilities).

Adam, Alex and I

actionaid tentmyself, neil and chris
The group were all sitting in a circle knocking back tinnies when we arrived and they had saved us a primo location by the walkway. It was just perfect. I spent as much time as I could being FireMan! I love stoking a good fire and providing people with warmth and light and a fantastic central focal point over which to have banter. Everyone was on top form and it was great to meet another Harpo-Mentalist: Niel. The first night we went down to the action aid tent and had a pics taken with plates (good to get some politics in there from the off, serious faces:on) and we danced a little bit with the early birds. They even played the Doctor Who theme-tune Orbital mix! Every time I hear it I think it’s playing just for me (and everyone else in earshot).

Sun shiney day
Working the bars was great, the people we were working with were all great interesting people and the shifts were 3 manageable 6 hour blocks. The punters were all good and chatty and it never really got too busy. The supervisors were safe, allowing me to hang back when it got quiet to juggle lemons or what have you and mixing up a shitload of pure lemonade for us despite doing a 12 hour shift. I particularly enjoyed operating the pouring machine which filled 12 cups at a time with either Carling or Strongbow rather than having to deal with maths stuffs. There were some amazing people, just a feast for the eyes and we got chatting to a lovely Scottish guy who works in the indie music industry and was trying to get Becky to audition for a presenting job. We also got taken to one of the indoor bars for a bit after our tent closed and that was pretty fun too, a different slightly less shambolic clientele and a slightly larger range of bevies I think.

Simpsons dudeSimpson

In contrast to Glade the second day of the festival was a really sunny affair. And hot to boot, somehow too hot. This day Becky grabbed a bag of smart clothes, tied her dreads back and went off to a Mormon Wedding in Reading!! I took the opportunity to go for a wander and happened upon Ed Byrne doing a really great comedy set and I wandered though the campsites observing all of the gathered characters and snatches of hilarious conversations. Becky came back reporting one of the weirdest experiences ever and we got right back on it!
Music wise it was rocking and we were really lucky to be in the tent that was right next to the tent that I wanted to see most stuff on: the Radio 1/NME stage, although the acoustics weren’t great from tent to tent. I’m sure it was a more of a chilled vibe than the one over by the main stage. Top music the first day/night was provided by Ash, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and the Kings of Leon. The second day/night The Eagles of Death Metal were cool on the mainstage during the day and we worked late so missed Red Hot Chilli Peppers which was lucky cos apparently they were crapish. The third day/night was a highlight. From our workstation we could hear The Cold War Kids followed by The Maccabees, followed by Jamie T followed by Devendre Banhart followed by LCD Sound System. We then got off work and got some snacks and when I say some snacks I mean SOME Snacks! We had amazing vegi pakoras and noodles and stuff for less than a fiver. It was so delicious but so portionous that when we finished we had enough to offer some hungry looking young boys sitting to one side who were wholly grateful for the nutrition. Then CSS were on, there right in front of us! I’d been waiting for this since seeing them in Serbia at EXIT. It rocked, so much fun, grooving down with Becky, it was just way sexy.

Then we headed over to the main stage, caught the end of NIN and regrouped for The Smashing Pumpkins which were more than smashing! They were truly touching and astounding at creating an intimate experience with a crowd of thousands. Also the lightshow was the best I’ve ever seen. It blew the one Muse had last year out of the water.
It was a great evening. We carried on partying all night, kept the fire going and went for a walk to observe the carnage which was significant. We met one girl by the toilets who had fallen over so I helped her up and proceeded to give her advice on how to make her dreads better (cos they were pretty shit and I’m now expert no.1). By another set of long drop toilets there was a huge mud pile with hormonal 14 year old boys jumping up and down on it screaming primally and fighting each other to be king of the castle, no one was going to take their mudpile away from them. The really weird thing wasn’t that these boys, who were obviously just desperate to get laid, were being so brutish and pointlessly competing to scale a pile of mud but that people would stand around and watch them! So when in the toilet I decided to compete with them in terms of noise. So I bashed out the beat of the doctor who theme tune on the metal side of the toilets: Dum du Dum Dum du Dum Diddly Dum and then hollered the Woooo Eee OOoo part, I also hoped it would confuse the little tykes and maybe wake them from their push and shove reverie.

Bex and random on the last night
At about 4 when the sun had begun to come around again Becky suggested that we just hold out and try and make it home without sleep before the tent carnage begun and everyone was on the move. This seemed wise, so we decamped, said our confused morning goodbyes and hopped on a train, which was a fun as it could be considering. We got home well before noon and hit the hay.

On the 28th I did a bit of work with my good mate Ben Mason shifting boxes and furniture and taking photos and doing an inventory of radiators that were for sale for a family friend Rebecca. It was a really nice house in the middle of Shoreditch. And a really nice day for it.

Lake district 31st August – 2nd September
This had been on the cards for a while so I was delighted to be able to fit this into this already really fit summer of antics. Nadders arrived at my door to pick me up. He had with him the James’ Ranger and MacKinnon. We went up to Brent cross and met Tom and the James Spillard who was driving a larger vehicle (a nice long volvo) we stocked up in the nearby Sainsburys, and Mackindo and I went into Toys R Us where I got a doc who action figure and a big box of bubble tubs, he bought a frisbee and then we headed up to the Lake District. It was a fun drive, good tunes, and nice chat, tho I did go a little anti social and did do a bit of reading. We arrived and went up a small walk up a hill, and along a really pretty path. We then found a place to camp for the night, we set up the huge tent that the boys had rented and we got on to cooking up some lovely sausages etc.

Hiking manLook at that Muslim troll under the bridge!

Base Camp

The next morning we decamped, left our stuff in the car and embarked on our trek. We went up a huge hill, and across a little connecty bit called the razors edge. It was well steep by easily scaleable. We got to the top and it was really cloudy so we couldn’t see too much. We had some army issue grub and followed the Sandhurst cadet Ranger down the hill the other side. Only when we were half way down did he say the immortal line “This compass is pointing in the wrong direction”. Classic! Tom and I had been arguing over the Iraq war all the way down and were beginning to reach some consensus so we knew we had a long way to walk back up. It was really tiring as we had done some hill running on the way down so it was a long way, but beautiful none the less. When we got back to the top it was a lot clearer so that was one advantage but it was way cold. Oh and I had a poo on the hill near a pile of stones that looked a little like a makeshift grave. Ranger kindly lent me a really nice warm jacket to put over my day wear. Oh and I think it was Nadders that dropped the map over the edge, they shimmied down to get it and then we headed back down the other side. We were totally knackered by this point but had a long way to go. MacKinnon was having some issues with his vertigo on the way down as this was a more perilous climb than the steps we had been running down the other side.

WhoHiking man1 Chillin

When we reached the campsite it was a frigging relief. We drove back to Mackinnon’s, dumped our stuff and went off to a pub run by mates of Mackinnon’s and we had delicious steak and ales to ease our weary limbs. Alesfor what ails you.

Ales The Summit
When we got back to Big Mack’s we watched a bit of James Bond, I cooked the popcorn I had brought along and then we sunk into bed. I got up early the next day so decided to whack on a doc who vid James had lying around; “Caves of Androzani”. I watched 3 episodes then everyone got up and we watched music videos while we packed up. We set off home and stopped in Morrisons to say our farewells and ate a cooked breakfast.
It was a great Old Boys get together with all the trimmings and gay banter.

CCF all over again!

The Lakes Sublime!

Big Mack and I

On the 6th of September Joel came around to hang out which was lovely as did Jen Thomas and Emily Thompson. A nice wee gathering indeed

Acid Jam - Saturday the 8th of September
This was a really cool event, put on by a core of people that’s gathered around a lovely chap, Ed Saperia. I grabbed some newspaper and some empty jars to use for painting and headed off to the Synergy Centre near JW’s in Oval. It was a safe day, the was a wicked Jam throughout, juggling, diablo, glowstick sculpture, lovely hot veggie food, painting and drawing, a huge variety of people to get chatting to and to play with.

Glow sticks sculpture

I read some poetry and got some cool feedback and did some improvised singing which was really fun. Foxy and Jordan were there from the Ricky Crew which was ace. A bunch of the lovely Glade peeps made it down later, and Karim, JW & Verity were all there with so many cool new people too. It was a really good thing, and banter to the max. A great reason to go to the Synergy centre for the first time. I was there from about midday until about 4 the next morning When Karim, JW and I retired to his to crash. There were great chats about life, politics, LARPing, social software and much more besides.

music sweet music

A window as it should bePerspective roadArtscape

painting in action

Karim & JW JW & I

Becky had her teeth out in Golders Green on the 11th of September so I went along to hold her hand. And she had just finished up working at the theatrical agents; Jane Larah’s. It was great to have her over for the period she was working there, it was nice to have the run of the house and use it as a base of operations between festivals and socialising.

We went up to Coventry to meet Matt and Lucy and go house hunting in Coventry on the 13th of September. We had a list but ignored it really and just walked into Student Homes. They said they had a place that sounded ideal but the landlord hadn’t dropped round the key but we asked if they could give him a call and he just happened to be in. So we went to check it out and really liked it. We haggled him down on the price a bit and then signed on the dotted there and then. I was especially excited to be so close to Clive’s Comic book store, but sadly he closed down the shop just as we arrived, removing the highlight of Earlsdon colour/culture. But we do live right opposite this old school looking butchers!

Taylor and Sons Butchers Kingsley Cull in Earlsdon

I went to see Verity’s play Left Luggage at the Shunt Vaults it was brilliant promenade puppet theatre, really well done and nicely polished without losing any charm. It was in fact one of the most charming performances I’ve seen in ages.

On the 23rd of September I went with JW and his friend Marcus to see a comedy event called A Seriously Funny Attempt to get the Serious Fraud Office in the Dock. Which was an event raising money and awareness about the closure of the corruption inquiry into BAE’s dealings with the Saudi Royal Family. It was a brilliant event for a brilliant cause. The amazing line up was thus:
Jo Caulfield (MC)
Simon Amstell
Ed Byrne
Josie Long
Mark Steel
Omid Djalili
Phil Nichol (MC.2)
Mark Thomas
Robin Ince
Stewart Lee
Russel Brand
And a surprise appearance by Bill Bailey!

SFO Gig poster


It was the bomb, if you’ll excuse the weaponry reference. A great night, it was like a whole comedy festival crammed together into one night. There was also a great speech by a member of Corner House who are pursuing the action and when we left JW and I took posters down and knicked a running order. I decided that despite the light drizzle I’d try and get an autograph so I said to JW the first person who comes by then we’ll go. Simon Amstell went by too swiftly in a cab but Bill Bailey pulled up and started doing a few signings out of the window of his car so I got him to put himself onto the running order on which he was missing (as he was a surprise duh!). It was amazing, I garbled some fan love and he had a dog in the back of his car! And he drove off into the London night with his hair blowing behind him in the wind! His act got me so psyched as I had booked tickets to see his stadium show Tinsel Worm in Manchester.

Somewhere before heading back up to Uni I managed also to squeeze in a really fun game of poker at Fred’s in Harrow. It was great with Chinzano’s on ice, I only lost a tenner and it was a fun game that I would have got further in without making some really dumb mistakes. James was there, as was Rob (another of my hall mates from the first year of uni) as well as Ben and a clutch of Fred’s nearest and dearest. Lovely lovely lovely. On the way back I carried the hat stand that had been adorning Fred’s hallway since he came back from Leamington. It was unwieldy but not too difficult to commute with. I also managed to make it to Camden to see Toby, Jamie and Harv for a wee pub lunch. I had soup, it was still sunny, everyone was lovely.

Toby and Harv

Also I got to see Debbie and baby Rosh a fair few times over the summer which was great, despite Roshi's huge lung capacity:

leaf baby rosh sweet rosh

February 17, 2008

Multi task

Here we go...

The idea is the following...

An advertising/branding/graphics agency based in Birmingham. What's the USP? The agency doesn't really have any employees. Only me (as creative director and co-ordinator), an accountant, an interviewer (human resources), a computer programmer(for the website) and a receptionist.

The agency undertakes some projects and hires ppl to work only for a specific project each time - for a specific amount of money (50-60%). These ppl will be either interns, freelancers, inexperienced, or even ppl who want a second salary...

If it's an easy job - like to create a web page, the freelancer can do it home and receive the 60% of the project's money, otherwise if he wants to come and work in our place he will receive 50%. If it's a job that needs more ppl, they will come to work in our space. For this reason we need a big multi-tasked space in a cheap area..

We also need computers, software, offices...

The website of the company is very important because it will be updated daily and we'll upload the new projects. The applicants can send a CV and if we decide they are the right ones for this job, we will contact to arrange an interview.

If the company does well, we can hire more creative directors to help the teams work well.

In order to make the company known, we 'll contact universities and relevant departments (like our program), but also send emails to companies...

I'll update my idea when something has been added or changed...

I'm open to any suggestions... 

February 14, 2008

Life, (or the Lack thereof) in academia!

I know I am supposed to be using this space for 'incubating' a business idea, but this is something I HAVE to share with everyone.  A day in the life of a postgraduate! Hell, I could possibly get in touch with Jorge Cham for this entry!

So, I am sipping coffee, surfing the net, gathering my daily dose of news, RSS feeds and webcomics when a friend from India pings me on gTalk (equivalent to a nudge on MSN and a buzz! on Yahoo! for the uninitiated. Yea, I use all three. I suck!) 

Manu (henceforth M): Ahem!

Me (henceforth S): Morning! :)

M: Proposal?

S: Yea...

M: Is it done?

S: Nope

M: Hmmm... 

S: Its due...

M: Today?

S: Tomorrow :(

M: Will it be done?

S: Let's hope so!!

M: And marriage?

S: What marriage???

M: Marriage proposal? Proposal to spend the life? Together?


Let me just say, a status message on gTalk which says "Day of the Proposal" on February 14, is not a good idea!      

February 09, 2008

Pitchfork Disney Trailer

The Pitchfork Disney

Agoraphobic, chocoholic twins Presley and Haley Stray are having another night in. But it's interrupted by the arrival of a bizarre nightclub entertainer, Cosmo Disney and the evening assumes a very sinister direction.

The Pitchfork Disney is a dreamlike, surreal play dealing primarily with storytelling, childhood fears and mans double-edged attraction to the grotesque. Immerse yourselves in the claustrophobic world of the Stray siblings which teeters on the edge of insanity.

A one-act play set in real time that will challenge your perception of the world on either side of your front door.
£7.50 (£5.50NUS)


James McPhun
Zoe Walshe
Callum Barton
Sam Sedgman

Directed by: Will Philps
Produced by: Rowan Rutter

Believe us, you don't want to miss this one! Plus I'm doing the marketing for it so if you come, I will love you forever and potentially buy you a drink.

Tickets can be bought online at:


Or by calling the Warwick Arts Centre Box office, or, by showing up directly at the box office

February 06, 2008

How I Made My Millions


I promised myself that I will never start a blog as there is a sufficient level of self-indulgence in my life already. However, in the past I have broken more important vows for the sake of my education (e.g. not talking to old ppl, who are not family members) and here I am.

Although I find the concept of being my own boss quite appealing, I don’t think I will actually become an entrepreneur. First of all, I can neither spell nor pronounce that correctly. Secondly, when I think about my future I see myself only as a corporate slave, working over hours so that my boss can buy his 3rd Maybach or a poor, tormented artists that’s sitting in a basement smoking opium and writing poetry (don’t let CME fool you, this is what true artists do). The issue is that entrepreneurship involves too much of risk taking. Entrepreneurs have to be either extremely risk-seeking, extremely lucky or extremely ignorant. And out of this three, I am only slightly ignorant.

I had numerous ideas so far , however, majority of them were either silly, morally wrong or illegal. These are the selected, relatively sane proposals.

1.      Personalized Punk’dIf you think that neither a pair of socks nor a love doll are original gifts, hire us to prank your friends.

2.      Mewants.com – on-line bidding system that links people that need things done\made to people that can do\make them

3.      Music videos / VJ sets production -  Polish music scene is not particularly interesting, but it’s not that bad. However the music videos are just foul, and the VJ scene… em what VJ scene? It’s high time to change it! Yay!

4.      Elsewhere – customized, partly- scripted experience/holidays for ridiculously rich people. Now you can experience a tailored adventure of a Tuscan shepherd or Silesian baker. Experience different kind of life. Emm yes, it was inspired by ‘Simple Life’.

5.      I AM SMART accessories – book covers with titles of uber-intellectual pieces of literature (e.g. Ulysses or In Search of Lost Time Vol 6,. that you can put on your JK Rowling or Helen Fielding book, T-shirt’s, bag and mugs with quotes by Kierkegaard, Sartre and Cioran. How cool is that?

I guess I am going to work on the most mundane idea, mostly for the fun of posting many cool videos and VJ stuff here. Stay tuned.

January 31, 2008

One Stop Music Shop – Music Consultancy

An organisation catering to all kinds of music needs from live events (fashion shows / theatre / corporate events) to usage of music in radio, film and television advertising and music lisencing.

Art Studio Gallery

Vision: To run a studio art gallery where upcoming local & international artists can showcase their art/digital art, photography and music to public. Its cross cultural, catering to a niche market.

January 30, 2008

News of the week…

For all of you who are too busy being productive citizens of the student community and have no time to read news I thought I'd create a little deliciously bias review of the crazy things that have been happening in our global society in the past few days. That way you save time, you can impress fellow intellectuals with how up-to-date you are on your current events and I have some motivation to read news (it's kind of like back in school when teachers made you do book reports).

  • Bush's State of the Union 

I guess an important place to start is Bush's (thankfully) FINAL State of the Union address last night. Amongst the usual fluffly, patriotic rhetoric and a vocabularly that would pose no challenge for a toddler, he set an outline for his administration's priorities for the next year. Some came as a surprise. A top issue was of course the economy with GDP falling down to a 0.6% in the fourth quarter. The budget, taxes, immigration (including tigheting of the southern border), Iraq, terrorism and global warming (ironically for a superbly anti-green and non-committal administration). His US Education voucher program is probably going to fail in Congress once again, just the way it has in the previous years. There is nothing really new here, it just rounds up two turbulent terms of the man whose administration will inherit a legacy of destroying America's image globally through a series of bad decisions.

Check out some highlights:

  • US Elections (Democrats)

Obama for America

The US primaries are in full-swing leading to the excitement that is going to be Super Tuesday next week when most American states makes their choice. Obama won the  South Carolina Primary in a landslide on Saturday, leaving Hilary miles behind. Perhaps it was the 50% black population of the state that pulled the scales in his directions but polls shower that a high percentage of whites and people under 30 also gave him their vote which gives some hope that this race might not turn out to be entirely about race at the end of the day. John Edwards who is from Southern Carolina was left a distant third which caused him to drop out of the race leaving the democrats with an exciting two-hander in the final stretch!

  • Madness in Kenya

Watching news clips from Kenya scarily reminds me of some of the scenes from Hotel Rwanda. Ethnic violence has progressively risen leading to mass killings and political turmoil that has put the world's attention firmly on Kenya. The good news is that it former UN Sec Gen Koffi Anan has swiftly taken on a mediating role with many hoping that a compromise can be reached at the African Union summit which starts on Thursday. It appears that the world has refused to ignore the situation however and will not let Kenya leave the radar. Could it be that we have learned from past mistakes? After a month of killings many are concerned that this could be heading in the direction of Genocide.  "Today our country is under serious threat of sliding into anarchy," speaker of parliamentary Kenneth Marende said. The estimate puts the dead at around 850 with about 150 just since last Friday.

  • Plot to kill Nobel Prize Laureate Orhan Pamuk

This is so scary and absolutely outrageous check it out in the news.

  • Britain's new Culture Ministe Shakes things up

Apparently he's got some fairly entrepreneureal bright ideas which might be just what the Cultural Industries are in need of at the moment with so much talk of their funding being threatened. Read up I have forgotten the details.

Ok this is enough news for the next few days. In the meantime I am going to go watch the incredible Yasmin Levy in concert at the Warwick Art Centre's main theatre this evening and I am thoroughly looking forwards to it. More news on the interview we did with her on behalf of the superb RAW World Music show- GreenHouse Effect, coming soon!

January 25, 2008

The Beasts of Ancrum Moor

I will continue trying to catch up on my blog soon, when I get some more photos to accompany the calamatous summer fun . But as one set of fun things happen another takes its place so you can understand the difficulty. In there mean time get comfortable, get a cup of tea and check out this story:

This is a true story. As told by Professor McCrimmon, my great uncle for which he won a prize at One World Week's Tales by moonlight on the 22nd of January 07.

Now you may be surprised to see me sitting here in front of the fire trying to put the willies inta you as the shadows dance a jig aboot my craggy face. Ghost stories are for the young you might say. And d’you ken wha? You’d be right. Mine is a fairie story. None of your Disney nonsense. But fairie stories are in m’blood, stories of bloody hard fought battles wi’redcoats are too and all of the monsters that you see out of the corners of your eyes abide in the wrinkles around mine, behind these old glasses.

He was a lot like me when I was young; tall, handsome and he had sharp sight. But I’m getting ahead of m’self, I haven’t even told you his name yet.

Where I come from we have a saying; cometh the hour cometh the man, well this was the hour but he was no man. He belonged to the Bunnock tribe in Jedburgh which is near the east coast of Scotland and he was a fierce warrior. By the turn of the fifteenth century he had killed many a… wait, oh yes, his name was Mungo. Let me tell you, there have always been unjust wars. And there have always been insurgents. And there has always been the Cu Sìth (pronounced 'coo shee'). Obviously this all happened long ago, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. You probably want to go home and play with your x-plods and i-cubes. You want me to carry on?

A'right but first put down your marshmallows and show due reverence of the dead, because even brave heart lost his head in the struggle. That’s right Mel Gibson, what a man.

T’were Henry the eighth that started it all, but that name didne mean any more to Mungo than any other name that past from the lips of a mother to the birth certificate of her bastard Anglo-Saxon scum, I mean son.

Henry was trying to persuade Mary queen of Scots to marry his son. Although why Edward couldn’t court her himself is a subject for debate, I’m inclined to believe it was due to his lack of a good pair of testicles.

So how did Mr the Eighth try and get our Mary into his son’s empty sack? Did he send her flowers with love poems and sign them “Eddie”? Did he arrange a blind date or a trip to the local bowling ally?

Did he bugger! He sent over five thousand men, including three thousand Spanish and German mercenaries and seven hundred Scottish turncoats to boot. Now you might just understand why we call this the war of the rough wooing. And that’s hard to say if you’re a Scotsman.

Mungo had women problems of his own. There was a lassie in his village called Colina who Mungo had his sharp eyes on. He would tell his cuz’n Dougal how he followed her out one night onto the desolate Ancrum Moor to try and have his way wi’her.

Dougal would eagerly ask; “How was it? Did you touch this, did you see that? How did it feel?” But Mungo would sigh and say “When I got to the top o’Palace Hill she had disappeared, and I was left wi’only the stars for company.”

Colina would tell her cuz Rhona a different story. She too had her sights set on the tall and ruggedly handsome Mungo and would always whistle as she past his door when she went for a late night walk up onto Ancrum Moor, in the hope that he might follow and have his way with her.

Rhona asked the selfsame questions as Dougal; “How was it? Did you touch this, did you see that? How did it feel?” But Colina would sigh and say “When I got to the top of Palace Hill he was no where to be seen, his foot steps stopped only to be replaced by the howling of a dog at the moon.”

On Sunday the Bunnock Tribe congregated on Melrose Abbey, more for the gossip than the religion. As the young and old alike of different tribes settled down to lessons of morals and gods that were not their own, a popular young lad called Jamie burst through the abbey doors.

“What’s the bother Jamie?” Colina asked the out of breath youngster. He gasped a lungful of air and screamed as only those whose lungs aren’t fully grown can: “THE ENGLISH ARE COMING!”

The English, the English, the selfsame English that had devastated Edinburgh, the selfsame English that had destroyed Leith, the selfsame English that had dutifully and without an ounce of malice laid waste to much of Southern Scotland the year before. Year of our Lord 1544.

They were at the door. Before the minister or anyone knew what had happened the abbey was destroyed and was serving as an encampment for the English. And not all lives were spared. Dougal and Rhona were caught up in the mealy and slain as the dogs the English thought they were.

Melrose Abbey

Now here’s the particulars of the story and forgive me if I’ve rushed it but by a curse of fate Colina was a Cu Sìth spirit, I’m sorry to mix my mythology but she was a familiar, a familiar in the Karma game in Jedburgh. Colina is Gaelic for “Young Hound” and funnily enough Mungo is a Gaelic name meaning “My Wolf”. Mungo Too was a fairie hound, a Cu Sìth in the Karma game in Jedburgh. A Cu Sìth, so I’m told, is an enormous dark green beastie roughly the size of a cow or a large calf, with shaggy fur and a long braided tail. And despite their size they hunt silently.

That night Mungo and Colina ran though the dark, tears streaming from their round hound’s eyes and they spied the encampment and the fires at Melrose Abbey. The wind was behind them but it carried not a sound of their approach. The fell upon a tent each mauling as many men as got in their way. Colina had attacked a German tent as she heard their Germanic tongue through her howls of rage. “Achtung! Shnell, Shnell, Shnell oceltoff Schweinhund!”. Mungo in turn fell on the turncoats who knew the fairie hound by his green fur. “Cu Sìth!” they cried “run Cu Sìth!” But the English wouldn’t listen and they charged on the beasts, hang the consequences!

Cu Sith

The Cu Sìth ran back outnumbered five thousand to two. Mungo laughed and could see Dougal laughing too in his mind’s eye, as he ran into the wind wi’the taste of blood on his lips and in his nose; Scottish blood, but he could hear the English charging after him and he howled with delight as he reached Palace Hill.

He turned… but Colina was gone. Fallen; their skill of silent huntin was Colina’s curse. She was gone.

And as the English advanced he could take no comfort in the fact that the whole Scottish army stood behind him waiting in ambush. Two and a half thousand men with position, wind and surprise on their side. With the rising sun behind them and the gunpowder smoke blinding the English eyes the Scots won the day, and this war was over shortly after when Henry the eighth died. But since the battle of Ancrum Moor we dunne say cometh the hour cometh the man any longer; we say cometh the hour cometh the beast.

Thank you.



Here I discovered that the real reason Edward couldn’t woo Mary himself was that he was 10 at the time and Mary was just 5 years old!

Here's a link to the website of one of the most inspirational writers of our time Neil Gaiman, to whom I shall dedicate this story along with all of the Bunnocks and the McBeans:


January 24, 2008

Return to the blogosphere

In the words of Sam Cooke "It has been a long time coming" since I last approached the blogosphere from the inside. A lot has changed in my life in the meantime- degrees, houses, countries, friends, attitudes, beliefs. Three years is a long time and at university, it's even longer.

In the spirit of the new year (which really isn't that new anymore) I vow to use this space to review, rethink, comment and collect information, emotions and memories of the world around me.

In particular, thanks to Ruth I will be exploring the meaning of entrepreneurship and the difficulties of developing an idea from scratch and growing it to a fully implementable business plan in the module Cultural Entrepreneurship. Thanks Ruth, for the motivation.

At this stage I am considering a number of ideas ranging from an Event Management organisation, a Silent disco club or a multicultural theatre company. As I would probably want to set up the business back in Bulgaria, or perhaps even in Sri Lanka it is important to start with an analysis of the cultural market, its wants and needs, its challenges and priorities. I feel that in both my home countries there is an abundance of challenges ranging from the fact that the creative industries are underfunded, underdeveloped and struggling. People are not used to paying for culture and the youth (especially in Bulgaria) is much happier playing computer games, watching TV, hanging out at the new 'malls', going to the cinema or getting intoxicated in the plethora of clubs and bars available.

It almost feel like if one wants the majority of young people to consume more high end culture they need to disguise it in a completely new 'cool' package, trick them into it, hypnotise them, spoon feed them. When it comes to theatre and Bulgarian film in particular we don't have the English culture of supporting that enterprise both on a policy level and as audience and theatre-goers.

It is of course a generalisation. There are young people who frequent the theatre, go to poetry readings, gallery openings and alternative film screenings, and take an active interest in our creative industries. There are a few incredibly ventures to encourage them. They are a minority however. During the communist years there was an intellectual, cultural elite in place. Today the elite includes dodgy businessmen, corrupt politicians, mafia and their model girlfriends. Theyattend the trendy Opera cafe right under the National Opera but won't be seen in an actual performance of it. Theygo to concerts but not of the philharmonic or some new struggling student band, they attend chalga gigs with playback performances by their favourite pop-folk silicone clad diva. They are patrons of kitsch and pop culture. Which is not all bad of course. I don't mean to appear as an elitist defender of the high arts. A lot has emerged from our newly found pop culture post 1990. Artists have had to find their feet with a government that no longer subsidises all their ventures. Payner (major chalga/pop folk label) has been incredibly successful in their strategy and until recently held a complete monopoly on the genre. Pop and rock music have had their success stories as well. It appears the national theatre, film and art industries are in a far more difficult place in terms of their position in our cultural food chain.

I could in fact continue the analysis of the state of the Bulgarian cultural industries for a while longer but for now I will take a break and list a few things that we don't have on our cultural scene in a hope that my final enterprise will fill one of those gaps.

We don't have...a clubbing venue where ppl with completely different tastes can enjoy their music in a single space; an English speaking theatre company; a major multicultural festival similar to Glastonbury or Sziget; a residential artists community centre where foreign artists can come an work for a few months while networking with their Bulgarian counterparts and experiencing the culture; many professional companies that provide corporate leadership training, creative consultancy and workshop technique in a corporate environment.

I would love to continue the rant but a) its One World Week and I'm going out and b) i think there is enough food for thought here for the moment. I'll finish with one of my favourite definitions of what entrepreneurship is: "the ability to create and build something from practically nothing; fundamentally a human, creative act. It is finding personal energy by initiating, doing, achieving and building an enterprise or organization, rather than by just watching, analysing or describing one. It is the knack for sensing an opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction and confusion." Jeffrey Timmons

January 17, 2008

France 1st–9th Aug

Smoking on the bike
A great time was had in France, with the parentals, my cousin JW, his girlfriend Verity, her sister Erin and later Ken, Caroline and lil’Sarah. It was a lovely way to while the time. We went to the beach, we went swimming, had BBQ, played badmington, even lit fires on the colder evenings.

alan cake minikart

Sarah proved herself a little daemon on a trike and a more than willing convert to the land of all things Who. She even watched the scary episode Utopia on a laptop outside one nice day. But was a bit more scared when the Master went all badass and brought on the Toclafane. We also watched Castle in the Sky which was mildly astonishing as it’s quite a long studio Ghibli film and not necessarily the best for little kids but Sarah seemed to love it. We also played with a really friendly butterfly, that was rather eager to land on people.

bonjour butterfly

It was probably just our pale skin that did it but it was delightful none the less. There was a fair bit of cycling which was banter, except Alan did his best to obliterate any health benefits by smoking while cycling. I'm sure that'd just increase incotine absorbsion rates, but hey-ho, there's no telling some people.

old town st bruac i think smoking on bike2

We went to Hammacs bar which was tops, had a meal at the Auburge on JW’s B-day, always delightful, played poker and boggle. I was a bit ancy as I had just spent a lovely week with Becky and was getting withdrawl symptoms a bit. But I’d made a nice little den in the out-house attic with a b/w tv and a little sofa and a bunch of comics I took out from the library and a doc who mag I managed to secure on the way to the ferry from London Bridge WHSmiths.

my french den  beaching

balderdash  haha!
We also went go karting a couple of times which was great fun, always just a few milliseconds behind Alan, and even Sarah hit the noddy cars just for fun. There was also a lovely little walk along the cliff tops over looking Erquy’s little port.

kart racing!

al log
On the way over to France we caught a bit of a magic act and I got involved in tying up the mental magicians assistant and then when hidden in a tube of material she put on my coat while still wearing all of the rope. But it was mega lame, and she was a lot better than he was at it.


All in all a great time with banterful company. It was also great to spend some time with A/V in the old place and in the sunshine! Great food and great chilling! 

Lagos Portugal 23rd–30th July


trusty tent

So wow this was lovely to the max. It can basically be summed up thusly:

Beautiful beaches (and I mean really beautiful) & tastey picnics on them. Beautiful Bex in a beautiful bikini on it too. Beach volleyball, cool camping where we met cool Irish and Aussie travellers. Banter in the various grungy pubs, a town layout that was like something out of an MC Escher picture. Sardines to die for. Lovely little restaurants especially the Mimar bar run by Marc and Minda (read Mork and Mindy) where we met a lovely older Scottish couple (mainly due to their accents and the man’s amazing cheek to cheek moustache, the kind of which you’d expect went out of fashion a couple of centuries ago) who said that now they were too old to get “pisshed” so they’d tell us the best spots to get “pisshed”.

bex and jim

Lazy lazy lovely lazy boys who went everywhere very slowly and daily would be recovering from the half remembered nights before. Ice lollies: that had to be purchased in the mornings to stop over heating in the tent. The Icy Atlantic. Comic books and Charles Handy. A lovely and very necessary shower but feet from our tent. Hello Kitty. Gorgeous flowers. Sweet ass barbeques laid on by the boys and then the ex-pats with sumptuous swimming pools and delightful dogs, one of whom couldn’t get enough of headers.

bex at camping

Some of it was messy (slightly excessive drinking), and some of it was annoying (boys not being on the beach for volleyball when they said they would be, sand being blown by the wind at an unpleasant angle and camping German families playing operatic rock music at 10am to rouse their family and the unwilling masses in Camping Trinidade). But most of it was laughs, table dancing, sunshine, relaxing, getting lost and found, nice little beach bars and top notch partying.


Head banging, pole dancing right,

Contemplating in moonlight

swimming through ice and cocktails

sunshine and sand never fails 

flower in her hair

January 16, 2008

Neverland of Entrepreneuship

Life is a big creative entrepreneuship. Let's share the moment of creativity and joy...

Welcome to Cong 's blog!

November 20, 2007

Glade Festival 20th–22nd of July


Ooh now this was fun to the power of mad. Karim and I headed out from Paddington with giant, carnival, lightup beanpoles under our arms and we met another Glader before even getting to the platform for the train to a secret location in Newbury. We hung around for a wee while before getting on a red double-decker bus with some other Oxfam fellows. It was a funky bus ride, the skies were clear & blue (!!!) and there was a drum and a sax with proficient people attached to them providing a perfect soundtrack to the journey into what was to be our home for the next few days.

fun guage

We set up camp in the Oxfam site, which was just a wee walk away from the main arena. They had a great diner called the knifey-spoony which became the common room during the rain disasters. The day we arrived the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We set up camp where we found some smiley young people and some space that looked like it was being saved especially for us (next to a little stream). The smiley people turned out to be smiley, friendly, fun, amazing people, namely; Joel, Yara, India Hannah and some other lovely fellows.

India & Al

karim up a tree

We all went for a wander around the quite magical site (it’s quite a small festival, relatively) we contemplated climbing a tree, looked at the shapes in the surprisingly small clouds and I found some wire which I thought would be good for some fun sculpture, which became a sculpture that I wore as part of my headdress for the duration of the festival, it was simultaneously ridiculous and awe-inspiring if you ask my opinion. It also came in handy for giving directions as it was basically a bouncy gauge and arrows on a spring that floated above me and helped people spot me from a distance.


We were camping next to the Knifey Spoony which was excellent for convenience but there was 24 hour music blasting from it, which wasn’t so bad until a full ABBA album came on twice in a row to flip you out. On the first day I woke up and sleepily thought I’d take the day on in a bumbling unaware kind of way (my usual operating default) but the Knifey Spoony played the Orbital remix of the Doctor Who theme tune, so I threw on my boots and I was in there within the first 2 bars! It was great as it may be the only place on earth where dancing full-pelt before breakfast isn’t seen as strange at all. A great start to a great festival.


We worked pretty hard and on the night before the festival I helped put up giant inflatable lights inside the Knifey Spoony which was good as we spent the night in there huddled on the big cushions in the corner as it was raining so hard that even the short walk back to the tent seemed like too arduous an endeavour to contemplate. Then there was the worry that when we got there our tents would be flooded anyway. We packed a bag each of valuables and Karim kindly packed our sleeping stuff into bin bags as everyone worried that the river to the side of us was going to burst it’s banks as it had some 3 meters further down stream of where we were. The Knifey Spooney didn’t survive too well what with everyone traipsing in and out but we had hot water on tap (except when one pillock unplugged the boiling vats to charge their phone). One hairy moment came when I was holding a ladder for the guy who was running the diner who had put this massive ladder up against the roof strut to hang netting to prettify the place, but he hadn’t secured the end properly so the top came out and from over half way up he came flying down luckily missing metal poles, tables and chairs and rolled safely onto the soft ground a big guy who was helping out caught the ladder from underneath and helped steady this manic descent and stop the ladder crashing into people who were coming in and out. But luckily everyone was ok and we had proved once and for all that it could have been unlucky to walk under ladders.
I did my usual and spent a fair bit of time blowing bubbles but was unable to mix a satisfactory bubble mix from their ecologic washing liquid.


One of the people who camped in our little village who we met in Paddington was called Sarah. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering the weather conditions) she felt ill and left before the first proper day. She left us a lovely note and texted us to see how we were after new of the weather spread but in my stupor I didn’t realise it was from her. On the train in we also made pals with a girl called Katy who was also a fan of Planet Angel and who had recently shorn off her dreadlocks and now had a reasonably cold head, but it still looked cool. I mentioned how I had been trying to persuade Becky to shave her head and how her bonce proved to me how viable a look it really is.

After a bit of fire safety training and a wee chat from the OXbox team Karim and mine’s first shift was on the first afternoon and we were to point people in the direction of one campsite or another or in the direction of the campsite. We were pretty clueless as we hadn’t fully got to grips with the lay of the land and it looked like one of the roads was going to need sealing off. It was fun tho and intermittently sunny. A lot of people were hiking through flooded villages and airforce bases with all their tents and clobber about their persons to reach the festival and always looked particularly depressed as we directed them towards a gate to get wristbands that was another quarter of an hour away on foot. But it was pleasant and we went back to camp for a wee chill and to prep for the night ahead when our shift finished.


And by the night it was good banter time! Mud abounded, I was astounded. And I didn’t fall over once! Yay! The Dunkirk spirit was alive and well. The best place for chilling and dancing that Karim and I found was a chai walla’s. It was funking all over the place and sadly the ID Spiral was a slippy, ill-lit hill, so we didn’t hang around there too long.


And so it went, we watched the skies for signs of reprieve, we got into quandaries as to whether to encourage Will, Em and Foxy to join us as we were getting minute by minute reports of site closure over our radios. We relied on cups of tea to keep going and the fantastic atmosphere and smiley people to buoy our spirits. One highlight was figuring that there was a plug point that wasn't being used so i asked the guy who ran the Knifeyspoony for a multiplug and i hooked it up, felt like a hero and had my phone back online!

The guys decided to come despite work and the weather which was great! I’m glad they didn’t scrap their tickets and they had a really good time raving it up in this oh so unusual of raving environments.
Our shifts were 8 hours long, which was a bit of a shitter. My second shift started out well, just stewarding a massive tent with very few people in it, bubbles coming out every so often and a VJ making nice visuals; so for the first few hours I was grooving away with my hat on. But as the day went on it became bussier and rainier and we were at the bottom of a hill, thus at the foot of a mudslide, which was made psychologically nasty by the fact we were down stream of a bunch of porta-loos. One delightfully had the helpful hint: “Get involved, or Fuck off” written in mud, later the one next to it had they handy rhyme; “Up the Bum; No Harm Done” written in a similar style.

                                muddy toilet

So as people were filing down the hill for an evening’s music and frolics they were taking a lot of mud down with them. So we were advised to keep people from using the most convenient door, but we had to keep it open as it was a fire exit. This was HARD! We build a little sluice gate to re-channel the mud around to the back of the stage and a fair few people ignored my pleas and airport landing style hand instructions. I tried putting up some duct tape to indicate the doors closure but that proved too ignorable. One fellow even accused me of getting off on the power of the situation, which was a bit of a nonsense as it was a power I would have given up in an instant had someone wanted to replace me or if I thought the mud would be better for everyone in than out. Lots of people were smiley enough when I explained the situation and pointed out the brown river and the special circumstances. Foxy was particularly sympathetic and the guys were around for moral support. Later a security guy came around and relieved me for a bit while I pushed the mud around with my feet to clear the sluice. My goretex boots were no match for the above ankle height mud. As I was slushing the mud about I realised there were lots of electric cables sitting in mud and around dripping tent-flaps. I couldn’t get the scene from the start of the film “King Ralph” starring John Goodman out of my mind and I saw everyone getting electrocuted in my minds eye.

At this point came my vision of 2 potential Al’s. One was this security guard and one was a tie-dyed shirt wearing dancer. Both guys had similar physical characteristics to me. Blonde & tallish. The guard had dreadlocks and the dancer had longish hair and a goatee. But they were, in my exhausted mind, opposite ends of a potentiality spectrum. I felt I was staring at a physical manifestation of my choices I could be a quite scary, tall, loud authority figure (he was a nice enough guy but he also had these attributes) or a fun loving (potentially off his head) observer of a rubbish situation, unable/unwilling to pitch in and help, just watching it unfold and oddly dancing by himself in a muddy field. The guard also had some nasty facial burns which haunted me as I sloshed through the mud staring at the cables hanging in the mud.
In the end I decided that I was treading a happy medium and being true to myself, helping where I could and making the most of it as I did, raising my concerns with those who could do something about it and taking on tasks that I felt I could help directly with. In the end they were just 2 more of the multifarious nice people I met briefly over the weekend and they were just good fodder for my overactive mind to chew over. The last act of that shift ,which took a lot out of me, was sliding over to the back of the tent to lift a piece of redundant pathway, with the help of some nice people in a tent who had a knife and a bunch of randoms who helped me move the heavy bugger, up the hill a wee ways. We used it as a better sluice and people blocker, as my shift ended I let out the biggest sigh and went for a wee snack, recupperation and to meet up with the guys back at the camp. I didn't have long until my next shift which I had to cram in before I headed off.

It was another shift was fun as Karim and I were together again and we brought some sneaky beers and glowsticks and were in a quiet little ally quite late at night. Joel and the gals from our little village bopped down with us and we hung out for a wee bit and had some snacks in the style of a 7 year olds birthday (except with sneaky beers). Karim and I had the same supervisor a couple of times called Joe who was a pretty laid back chatty guy. Forever smiling and yet he looked proper whacked most of the time. Our 8 hour shifts were nothing on the 12+ hours they were working. He came along and hung out with us for a little bit. Then the guys dissapated and Karim and I decided to line a dark pathway we were stewarding with the glowsticks. It looked  very pretty and we even tied two sticks together and threw them back and forth between us until they got caught on the branch of a tree so that they looked like a glowstick chandelier. People loved our pathway and through the night the sticks hanging down the side of this leafy path were taken by other lovely party people, all except from the ones hanging from the canope.            Later I sat down and did some reading (I'd brought Charles Handy The Empty Raincoat, which was an ironic title to be reading at this festival) and dosed as people passed returning to bed. 

Before I left I put a scary fairy I made with twigs and such on one shift in Joel and Yara's tent as a farewell present. I hope they appreciated it. ;o)

scary fairy

My journey home was tricky, Karim and I packed up the tent as I had to leave a day early for another one day turn around to go to Portugal (as the flight was riddico-a-clock on the Monday). Karim went and stayed with the other guys on the main camp. And I said my goodbyes and trudged off down the hill towards where I heard buses were leaving from (it was such a round about way of getting on a bus) and I decided that as my boots were mud filled it would be best to wear my sandals. Wrong, they acted like flippers and squelched into the mud and got sucked off my feet several times, leaving me to flounder with my rucksack, on one leg trying to pull it out of the thick thick mud. I had to go bare foot for some of the way out of pure dersperation, a method of travelling festival grounds I usually frown upon. When I got to the bus I had a chance to rinse my feet off and roll down my trousers and suddenly I didn’t feel quite so grimy. I even went so far as putting on some socks under my sandals when they had dried off a bit.
It was a fairly pleasant ride home and I was filled with a warm glow of a weekend well spent, making friends and partying with friends old and new and strangers and hard graft and biblical rain and sunshine and smiles and hot food and team work and cups of tea. Nothing better!

p.s. check out his video to see how ridiculous the rain really was:


October 16, 2007


Food for thought. More to follow!

*Only just warming up


October 09, 2007

Serbia 9th–16th July & Exit Festival


Serbia as I’ve been telling everyone was mental. I cannot believe we fit in so much adventure and madness into one week. I made good new friends and solidified old friendships. I flew out on my own and met the guys in Budapest airport where they have a flower dispenser like we would have a coke machine. Also I had a stop over in Milan and ate a pizza slice, when in Rome as they say.

Ben and I went straight to Fred’s and the others came with us on the train from Budapest (where it was raining a shitstorm) but went on for a night in Belgrade, I lost my ticket between the ticket office and the platform when we ran for no good reason. We piled onto the train, shoving anyone who stood in the way only to give up and run further along the train when we realised they were extending the train. It was a quiet night’s travelling and Ben the asthmatic smoker revelled in the smoking carriage and made new pals and we watched some doctor who on my media player. When the guards came around (which happened twice)

Nick and James on the train

That first day and night at Fred’s were lovely, not so sunny but we watched News Knight with Trevor McDonald (Fred having been bereft of English TV for a while) and in the evening we chilled with one of Fred’s cousins (Bobbie) and one of his friends and played pool for hours which was great stuff indeed. We also had some lovely Burgers from "UFO Burger".


On my birthday we got up earlyish and the boys went out into town as I slept a little longer and they came back with a delightful selection of tat from a Chinese import shop including a vicious looking set of nun-chucks, 2 bbguns with laser sights, wee plastic army soldiers (good for shooting with the guns, I was later told shooting friends wasn’t the done thing), a great LED torch, spinning tops, a camouflage cowboy hat, a teddy-bear that sings the most terrifying ditty you could imagine when you attempt to move it, and all kinds of good stuff. The day was very chilled out and Fred’s cousin Robbie came around and cooked up the most delicious Goulash (spelt in Hungarian: székelygulyás) over on open fire and all of Fred’s cousins and local friends came round and we had such a great party. I almost slipped at the first hurdle in attempting to bring up both politics and religion having consumed more (delicious) homemade shnapps than I’ve ever seen before. As the words came out of my mouth I realised that it could be dangerous to ask “so this is a catholic country, you’re catholic, but do you believe the pope talks with god?”. Fortunately the youth of the lovely Hungarian minority village Temerin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temerin) seemed to be clued into the fact that many of these beliefs were socially constructed, Fred’s cousin replied “No I’m just catholic because my parents are” which made me think, I’m liberal, atheist because my parents are, and because I’ve never been presented with a seemingly better alternative.


The boys all arrived from Belgrade later in the night and got stuck into the food and shnapps. James Howard was particularly eager and before he even said hello or happy birthday was working on catching up and he steadily became more and more inebriated, perhaps he hadn’t had enough goulash. Before I had really had a chance to finish my goulash out came cake, and Toby and James Almuli and a Hungarian fellow who I thought looked a fair bit like Warwick’s own Pip Woolly were trying to force me to eat cake goulash and shnapps at the same time, so with the sting of shnapps, a corner of trotter and creamy cake in my mouth I knew I was destined to chunder, which I did later, into a bowl.

Tobes cake retaliation

The end of the night was a messy affair with one of our number apparently peeing in the corner of a room (granted a room with no door) and I chased James Almuli into the room with all the mattresses on the floor only to find him attempting to teabag the paralytic James Howard and after shouting a warning along the lines of “Leave him alone or I’ll kick you in the balls, I’ll stamp on your nuts” I went on to stamp on James’ head which enraged the drunken beast.

the guys

dancing 2

smoking a birthday cigar!

hold him up!

The next day there was a flurry of hangovers and watermelon (man the local produce was the best ever! The tomatoes tasted like tomatoes should). The bulk of the group went with Fred and his family to meet the dignitaries of the town while Ben and I stayed at home to make sure James was ok (and to have a nap in a real bed). We woke to a telephone call telling us that we must come urgently, this call we managed to ignore twice but on the third we were informed that they were sending big Paulie (Bobbie’s dad) in a car for us. When we arrived we saw the most amazing sight. A packed trestle table in the middle of a traditional restaurant surrounded by the various members of our party, drinking local shnapps and generally enjoying the frivolity of the day and the hospitality of the local big-wigs. We were with Fred’s relatives the mayor an interviewer from the local paper, big names in the courts and shnapps factory. Total excitement. We went outside to have a group photo taken for the paper and when we returned we were presented with massive platters of meat on to of chips and local salad-stuffs, more shnapps and speeches by the mayor and one in return (translated by our language monkey Fred) by Ben, extolling the unexpected and wholly welcome generosity.

The Temerin express

Ben and pal

Then later that day we headed by bus to the festival itself in Novi Sad. My god was it unlike anything else. Before we headed in we took in the exterior of this massive 17th century fort on a hill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrovaradin_fortress) and I for the only time during the weekend caught up with my pal Simon Bennet, we met only for a moment before we laid siege to the fort in our separate groups. As we approached we saw what was going on. There were thousands of people trying to get in through a gap a person and a half wide. It was a crush of epic proportions. A bundle if you will, everyone was trying to get in for Prodigy and no one was checking tickets or passports and women were being elbowed, people were trying to stay with or find other people. Cars sat stationary trying to get through (one may have been an ambulance) pumping exhaust fumes into the immobile crowd. Toby was having no fun and no air as he was below average shoulder/elbow height, we attempted as best we could to form a Roman style tortoise shield around him but it had little effect. At one point my hand got caught between the two people in front of me and in one terrifying surge I was dragged forward by the wrist my feet almost off the ground. We basically fell up the hill as the local police/security looked on mildly amused/bemused by the whole affair. I had decided that today would be a good day (as it was warm) to wear sandals. I may have been mistaken.

When we got in we moved (as a masse) almost straight away into the main arena and after a few minutes Prodigy started. We decided if you can’t beat the crowd join them, and mosh and that way you get to beat them, as it were. We rocked out pretty hard to all the classics.

http://danandmoni.com/?p=12          <- Copy and paste this for a link to video from the Prodigy gig

They slowed it down every 6 minutes or so which allowed the crowd to find their feet again and throughout we were all parched having been unable to get to a bar or sort out the deal with the coupon system. We begged water of people around us and some were kind enough to send us sips of beer. Ben drank some water that the offerer said was acid and towards the end of the gig he began feeling pretty sketchy. His lips began burning and we had no water so after we went to sit down as the throngs filed out. We felt totally lost and the lighting was bad, we eventually found some water and Fred and Ben went back by taxi. The rest of us took in the full extent of the event ending up in the main dance arena (which was reminiscent of a gladiatorial arena) which was to become our staple stomping grounds. We hung out with some of the guys from Temerin and after the night we headed over the river and chilled for a bit on the beach on the Danube by the campsite. A lovely spot. We heard rumours of 2 deaths in the crush at Prodigy but I have yet to have this substantiated and have searched online to find out if that was true. Hey ho I may never know.

Dance arena

After that the days and nights begin blurring into a massive adrenalin fuelled banter session. When we got back all of the designated sleeping rooms were more or less occupied by smelly boys so I decided to crash out outside in the sun in my sleeping bag. When I woke up Fred’s mum had arrived with some builders who had been booked to fix doors to all the rooms. I waved and rolled over. We had been invited to a shnapps factory before midday but that was very unlikely and unappealing. It was said that the tradition was that men would have a shot of the stuff before commencing with the day so I expect it was to test our manlihoods but how could that be in question when you looked at us. Especially the red-blooded Andrew Shaw. I put this theory to the test one of the later days as Big Paulie was trying to ply me with an unmarked bottle of the stuff. I challenged him to drink it and when he pleaded hospitality I tasted it and then forced him to tasted it by enquiring what fruit was used to make it. He then bumbled off on his little motorbike (which he drove into the wee courtyard like a mix between a hells angel and a clown on a diddy-bike). One of the things I learned about Serbia was that when driving there is no need for the two S’s: Seatbelts and Sobriety.

whatta gang

Also Serbian love taking photos of ethnic people, in our party Deji got so many photos taken of him and did nothing to deter the novelty hunters by dressing as Nu-Rave as they come; with de-glow sunglasses, a girl; Nana, joined our merry band by the speakers to the right of the stage also got snapped to death which led to what I consider an hilarious story involving a mashed football-loving Serbian and the translation of this well know adage/poem:

Find a penny

Pick it up

And all day

You’ll have good luck.

Give a penny

To a friend

And your luck

Will never end.

If you want the long and boring version of the story just ask.

One day as we went to go into the fortress I stopped and started chatting to some local Serbian guys who were wanting to break in. I was going to try and help them but then thought about the horror stories of the security mistreating the tourists and even worse the locals so I chickened out. After I got in I caught up with Toby and he reassured me that it might be banter to give it a go. So I went back out and tried to track down my potential accomplices. The deal was that after having left there was no re-entry. I went around the side and scoped the scene, I followed some guys who said they had done it previously, we got caught in brambles and scurried through cornfields and came up to the wall that was lit from one side so that the security standing on point could see people attempting to scale this massive wall to get up to a small fence. At the end of this bank was an exit that came out behind the entrance gates so I walked out as if going out then I sat down to send a text got up as a car drove past and went in. I wasn’t able to meet the guys I had been chatting to but the guys said they’d meet me afterward. When I came out (before the London guys had stopped dancing) I met the 2 guys Alex and Slyer and went on a mini tour of Novi Sad I was hankering for an ice tea. We chatted about politics, the disparity between the affluence and the poverty, the drug problem in the city, the history of EXIT festival and how it is now, the police, literature, graphic novels, shamanism and the karma of the Danube. They were very interesting and bucked every stereotype and prejudice of the Serbians that I had been exposed to gradually over my visit. The issues surrounding race were so overt and interesting, for example the Serbians at the festival kept photographing the black people there, elephant man style, the Hungarian TV that came to Fred’s to interview us asked outright if we were able to wake the black member of our party (not to interview him you understand, well he was in his pants but weird right?). Also a member of our party was part Serbian and apparently had a chilly reception from the Hungarians (granted I tried to kick him in the nuts but that was behaviour not race related). When I mentioned my new Serbian friends Fred’s mum surprised me by saying that they hated the Serbs. I understood that there is a lot of history there I didn’t know fully (not for lack of trying to understand) and that she and her family and community were directly affected by these huge political upheavals. But I pointedly said that she couldn’t hate all of the Serbs, she couldn’t hate the children; to which she responded that really she only hated their politicians, which I was happy to report was also the case for the Serbs I had met. They even told me of the massacre of Serbs in the frozen Danube during which many Hungarians risked their lives trying to save Serbs to whom they owed nothing. These were great guys, meeting young people from other cultures really made the trip for me. I hope to stay in contact with them over Skype etc.

Ben and horse and cart

Then came Goulash day mark 2: Fish

We all got on rented/borrowed minibuses and drove down to an offshoot of the Danube (I was in a car with Robbie his mate, Fred and Ben) it was hot and we napped on the way. When we got there the whole gang was there and there were tons of people cooking up mean goulash. It was sunny as and we all went for a little swim. I did some showing off and learned the word for a dive: “firash” or maybe they were taking the piss and that means splash. I also swam across this river which was quite wide with a rather strong current, I chased Ben and Rich who swam ahead. Once we got to the other side we had to go back up stream so as no to go too far down stream on our return. I chose to walk along the bank and the others splooshed through the silty water. I found an amazing walking staff and some logs that were rotting and hollow which made excellent floats to make the swim back less hassle. On the return leg I was worried about Ben as he’s an asthmatic smoker but he made it across alright.

The fish goulash was lovely and quite spicey, I invented a new drink; shnapps and ice tea which as I was loathe to finish it (that stuff is strong) I forced everyone to try, it became a game of have a sip pass it round.

I also offended one of our hosts by telling the only Scottish joke I know (I was prompted by the fact that every week their local newspaper makes jokes about our thrift) which ends by insulting lawyers (in fact saying that all lawyers go to hell) not realising that one of our uber generous hosts was a local lawyer. All the young’uns were banter, really happy to try hard to understand my mile a minute English, and all the girls were hotties.


Talking of hotties, after we got back from one night of debauchery that ended with us dancing heartily in the petrovian fortress as the sun came up and sweltering on the beach by the Danube we got back to the little farm house Fred’s mum was so kindly putting us up in and Robbie’s dad Paul was there and he enticed Jamie, Toby and myself to go to the swimming pool which had a natural warm bath in it, miming as we went it that it was the best place to shark on the local tottie. It was really nice and as it was hot it was full of local colour and life. We bumbled around in the pool and chilled in the warm bath then slept on the grass until chucking out and went back for more festivaling.

Another day when we got home Fred’s mum asked if Toby and I were hungry and said we should go to the local restaurant which we did, she helped us order and then left us to chat about the night before, how knackering and mental it all was and to eat fine soup and delicious lunch and rehydrate.

Saying good bye was quite an emotional affair, I made a card for Fred’s mum who couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful, a few of the young’un came over and wished us well on our way as we all ran around like unprepared headless chickens getting our stuff packed up. I gave Paul a straw cowboy hat that the guys gave me for my birthday as I thought it would look cool on him as he cruised Temerin in his undersized motorbike and I gave Eniko my walking staff to look after as I really had wanted to take it home with me and couldn’t bear thinking that it would become firewood. We named it Sandy and I suggested that if someone attacked her she could wield it to defend herself. We bopped into a taxi and left for our final night. We got into a Taxi with the nicest guy who chatted to us all the way about life etc, telling us of the stigma the community labelled him with when he sent his son to America to avoid getting caught up in war and how he didn’t give a shit because he felt he saved his son, it was bloody touching and great once again to cross the cultural divide and really connect with the people we were around.

Tobes and myself fannied around before heading into the festival; having to dump our bags in storage behind the camping pen for the early morning departure. I then went and met the Serbian guys I had met and I tried to get them a free ticket by sneaking in. But it hadn’t worked so the other person they had tried to get in couldn’t. I felt bad as though I’d been dicking them around because I was later than I said I’d meet them and it took me ages to find my way back to the place on the hill that you needed to go to try and sneak in and I said that they might be able to get the tickets of those of us who had left the day previously but Fred fairly said that they should go to the Hungarians who had been so hospitable. For the rest of the night we hung out on and off as did Toby and I. I learned this night that one of them (Alex) was very well educated in all things religious/spiritual and was a fundamental Christian and when pressed on why this was he said it was because he was born into it which seemed to be a theme of what I learned out there. He also turned out to be a 6 time heroin addict. On the last night I briefly went down to the dance arena (by the speakers on the right) and was delighted to see that Ben had joined our merry band and I told him that I was so glad to see him there shaking his thang as from then on I could remember it as if he had been there every night!

Dancing into the morning8am dancing

So you may be wondering “what was the music like then?”. Well truth be told it was pretty excellent. The Prodigy rocked out that first night despite the discomfort. I really enjoyed the Beastie Boys despite die-hard fans winging about the didgeridoo ambient interludes, Mix Master Mike also totally tore it up with is solos. I missed Basement Jaxx but could hear them as I came up the hill which turned out to be lovely prep for the night. CSS rocked my socks off! I knew I wanted to see them again and I got a chance to at Reading, they were so bouncy and fun and didn’t let up for their whole set it was like seeing an orchestra or bubblegum blowers, toe-tappers and excitable children, on ecstasy! Pendulum was pretty lame but did rock out some nice ditties which were good for really throwing yourself into but I’d heard him before and was under whelmed by his set (granted last time I’d heard him we had to break for a fire alarm), but I got to rock out with Jon Lau which was a more than pleasant surprise. There was a great little reggae/dub section tucked away at the back of the fortress which appeared to be behind a little maze or one way systems and proper old-school tunnels. I’d have liked to have spent more time there and in the trance area and in the makeshift cinema but there was just so little time and everyone was jostling and it took and age to get most places. Ho hum. Also there was some lovely drum and base I sought out and the dance arena was variable but was mostly consistently fun. I particularly enjoyed the big thrills of Richie Hawtin and Roger Sanchez. I also enjoyed juggling my hackysacks there when the sun came up and handing out sun cream to the otherwise scuppered whiter than white Europeans. There was also some lovely little break beats stages dotted around various parts of the hill which were great if short lived fun.

The train ride home was like a sauna. It was packed and boiling and we stopped for ages at the passport checkpoints. It was hellish and 10 hours long. We found a semi air conditioned carriage and chilled there and I watched The Science of Sleep on my Archos with a randomer I found there while eating nuts (as we hadn’t properly provisioned for the journey) and almost falling asleep myself. We got the train with Toby’s good pal and ex-cls-er James Down and a few of his friends and to sum it up in 2 words I’d have to go with baking and uncomfortable. To get from Budapest to Budapest airport I found someone who was going my way on the train to get the cost down but we got a bit stiffed on the cost, travelling like this was certainly ridiculous and not really my style. Ooh look at me, hoity-toity jet setter! On the plane I kept up my friendliness (which in truth should have been swapped for sleepiness) and chatted away to the only person on my isle who was an accountant girl for ITV. She had just been at a Jazz festival which sounded interesting. We swapped music tastes with our respective players. My bag became suddenly very chocolaty as the jar of spread I had packed for the journey exploded. Shitsticks!

When I got into Heathrow there was the usual mission of getting my baggage (which funnily enough had 2 bbguns in it and a horrible set of knun-chucks/knife stick) I got onto a train that was to take me straight to Finsbury Park across London, I set and alarm in case of oversleeping but it was no use. I woke up in Southgate only a few stops past mine but it was the last train and my phone had died so I called my rents and checked the possibility of buses before deciding to get a taxi. Lame. But what a ram packed nut-so week. Great people and a great, unforgettable time.

Oh if anyone who was there remembers something I’ve forgotten please let me know.

September 24, 2007

LOST IN PRISON (an article for the greeks)

Writing about web page http://img.pathfinder.gr/clubs/images/83/169683/3.jpg

Telika i tainia pou etoimazei o Pampakaliaros einai polu psagmeni. Legetai LOST IN PRISON k einai gia ena aeroplano pou epese se mia upogeia filaki. Oi 9 tyxeroi pou epezisan exoun kapoia simadia ek genetis pou an ta enwseis sximatizetai o xartis tis fulakis enw prepei na apodrasoun se 24 wres. Tha ta kataferoun?

Epese mia prosklisi sta xeria mou k vre8ika prin ligo kairo sta vraveia tou MAD. Gia kali mou tyxi piga nwris nwris k katafera na vrw 8esi dipla ston Athens' Gois: Xristoforo Pampakaliaro. Itan ena stoixima pou eixa valei me ton eafto mou afou oi agapimenoi mou skino8etes/senariografoi einai 3: Kubrick, Hitchcock, Xristoforos.  Tou 2 prwtous de tous prolava dustuxws, o  3os omws itan ekei k mou milise gia ola...

O gnwstos senariografos - skino8etis - psari (gorgonoeides) me mia akoma prwtotypi idea einai etoimos na parei to aima tou pisw gia tin apotyximeni perasmeni xronia k na anaktisei ta inia apo tous sunadelfous tou. Idi kakentrexeis sunadelfoi senariografoi k dimosiografoi arxisan na katakrinoun to afoplistiko afto senario k na psaxnoun na vroun omoiotites me amerikanikes seires. Alloi to sugkrinoun me to "24", alloi me to "Lost" k alloi me to "Prison Break" enw kapoioi pou einai mesa sta pragmata lene pws exei polles omoiotites k me ti Loufa k Paralagi.

Analutika to senario tis seiras exei na kanei me ena aeroplano pou 3ekinise apo tin A8hna me proorismo tin Nea Yorki exontas mesa 300 hippides pou enantia se ka8e nomo meteferan laspi k touvla sto ground zero wste na xtisoun tous didumous purgous 3ana ap tin arxi. O pilotos tou aeroplanou (Gkletsos) dexetai epi8esi apo Alvanous tromokrates (Sommer, Mastrokosta) pou prosvli8ikan epeidi de tous kalesan gia afti ti megali oikodomi. Epiti8entai loipon ston Gkletso, k pairnoun ekeinoi to timoni gia na to odigisoun ekei, 8etontas eaftous arxigous tis ekstrateias. Gia kaki tyxi olwn oswn epivainoun sto aeroplano omws, oi Alvanoi tromokrates den exoun idea apo boeing 737 afou exoun sini8isei me ta papakia k ante me to fiataki tous pou einai mono freno, gkazi, mousiki... Apotelesma aftou einai to aeroplano na xasei to proorismo tou k ligo prin ftasei ekei na sugkroustei me to elikoptero tis Nikolouli (Nikolouli) i opoia espefse gia enaeria sinentef3i k gia na parei rolo detective molis akouse ti le3i LOST. Meta apo dunati ekri3i  to aeroplano 8a pesei kataligontas se kapoies ypogeies fulakes pou diatirei i kuvernisi kryfa stin perioxi tou Ellinikou (gi afto de dinoun to xwro pou8ena allou). Ekei vrisketai kleismenos o Che Guevarra (Papakaliatis) me ton Kurt Cobain (Totsikas) k ton Jim Morisson (Korgialas). (apo tous dialogous afinetai na ennoi8ei oti 8a akolou8isei k o Alavanos). Oi treis aftoi polu epikundinoi kratoumenoi metaferontai ka8e xrono se alli fulaki k afti ti fora vre8ikan stin xwra mas. Kati pou einai koino mustiko vevaia stous kuklous twn plousiwn oi opoioi k plirwnoun oso-oso gia na tous doun sta klouvia - kelia tous k na xlevasoun tis romantikes apopseis tous. Me 47,000 euro epitrepetai k to mastigwma. Pisw apo afti tin kapitalistiki afti epixeirisi vrisketai enas an8rwpos me polla proswpa pou alloi ton 3eroun ws Courtney Love, alloi ws Bin Laden k alloi ws Kokkali. Pantws prokeitai gia to idio proswpo. O romantikos k antidrastikos omws Pampakaliaros  molis ema8e to gegonos, afou vasizetai se ali8ina gegonota, espefse na to dimosiopoiisei me proswpiko risko. Allwste apexei pleon mia katara k mia sulavi apo ton apoluto mpakaliaro.

Stin prospa8eia tous loipon oi romantikoi hippies na  3anaxtisoun tous didumous purgous, oi 9 epizontes e3 aftwn kataligoun mpros stous treis kratoumenous pou latrepsan stin efiveia tous k pistepsan pws einai nekroi.

Oi 9 apo tous 300 epivates tou aeroplanou pou katafernoun na epizisoun einai oi e3hs xaraktires. Enas gay (Psinakis), enas straight pou 8a ginei bi (Chuck Norris) meta apo viasmo tou Psinaki, 2 lesvies (Matsouka, Mastrokwsta) pou 8a mas dwsoun ena 5lepto video clip me soft porn, 1 tyflos asexual (Servetalis), 1 koufos straight (Servetalis), 1 kalogria pou 8a amartisei gia ta matia tou Che (Bellucci),  o Leonidas (Themos) k o Efialtis (Mouratidis). Etsi o Pampakaliaros oxi mono 8a parameinei pistos sta parapligika k homo friendly senaria tou alla afti ti fora 8a kanei k spoudaious sundiasmous afinontas mas pali afwnous.

Oi hippies vriskontai stis fulakes monoi tous me tous kratoumenous. O logos einai, opws e3igoun oi kratoumenoi oti einai i teleftaia tous mera stin ellada k perimenoun se 24 wres na ftasei o arxigos tis epixeirisis k na tous metaferei se alli xwra.
Oi prwtagwnistes loipon exoun 24 wres sti dia8esi tous gia na swsoun eaftous k kratoumenous. Ena gemato eikositetrawro pou “me diairesi 1/100 tin opoia pragmatopoiise monos tou o Pampakaliaros to xwrese se 2 wres k 40 lepta”, mou eipe aftole3i. Ena senario, loipon, pou magnitizei ta pli8i k gemizei agwnia 8eates ka8e ta3is k ilikias. Ena eikositetrawro pou 3etyligontai diafores proswpikes istories twn prwtagwnistwn. An 8a kataferoun na apodrasoun k posoi apo aftous 8a to ma8ete sto telos tis tainias. Egw de sas lew.

Oson afora kapoies sugkriseis pou ginontai me 3ena serials pou kapoioi pi8anolougoun oti epireasan ton diasimo kallitexni, as arxisoume apo ta amerikanika serials pou katektisan olon ton planiti. To lost, ok exei k afto suntrivi aeroplanou me ligous epizontes alla den exei kammia sxesi me fulakes ara krinetai astoxi i pi8anotita opoias omoiotitas. To prison break pali mporei na anaferetai se apodrasi apo ti fulaki k o prwtagwnistis na ferei tattoo me ton xarti tis fulakis alla den exei kammia, i'toulaxiston oxi amesi, sxesi me aeroplano, oute me ek genetis simadia ara einai polu makria k i pi8anotita na exei epireastei o diasimos mas apo kei. To "24" mporei na lunei tin upo8esi se 24 wres omws exei na kanei amerikanikes upo8eseis, CTU, CIA, FBI. Oute kan diladi!

Stenos oikogeneiakos kuklos tou Pampakaliarou anefere meta3y allwn oti o Xristoforos den exei kammia epafi me tetoiou eidous seires k sinexizei na vlepei mono Friends...

September 20, 2007

CashBack review

Movie image
Cash Back
4 out of 5 stars

I always like when short films become movies in the big screen. It reveals that a young writer/director had a really great idea that deserves to be seen by many people. In this case it really deserves it. This movie is one of the best I 've seen this year. It is a romantic comedy but also contains some great dramatic sequences and an astonishing direction by Sean Ellis. Starts with an unforgettable scene when you see the hero's ex-girlfriend shouting against him but the only thing you hear is classical music.

Plot: Our hero is a 20-year-old guy in an art school, studying painting. After a painful break up with his girlfriend, he has totally freaked out and developed insomnia. Since he's broke as well, he decides to work the late night shift in the local supermarket... His artistic imagination in addition with the weird and colorful people working there, creates a very entertaining story...

Watch it if you liked Garden State, The Last Kiss and Little Miss Sunshine.