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Realism

Aug 12th




Original link found on the excellent Dangerous minds blog here.

The above YouTube video is a trailer for a Hulk film made by the Bangladeshi film industry. It looks awesome, in a sincerely camp fashion. Oddly it reminded me a bit of the old Troma films, Toxic Avenger and so on. Ah, happy days!

Wacky hair and popstars

I'm not really aware of pop music these days. In my travels around the internets* I stumbled over this page which suggests that popstar Mark Salling has a song that sounds like one of Robbie Williams's.

Telly them to hurry up!

10th Aug

The fix it man has come and taken away my telly. It's been quite a carry on getting to this stage in the fix it process so I'm quite pleased we're making progress. My girlfriend however is livid that her Big Brother viewing is to be so ruined.

Influences on my mind - Christopher Hitchens

9 August

The awful news that Christopher Hitchens has cancer is still a shock to me. I've not really come to terms with it. All I can do is write a little blog post pointing out how important his influence has been on me.

The cover up is ending?

"This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one's belief in the Church"

According to The Telegraph and various

A dog had laid an egg on a park bench?

Aug 7

This picture, which I first saw here, reminded me of the time I went on holiday with a mate to the seaside resort of Filey, North Yorkshire. We were teenagers and as a result one of our jolly wheeze's was to craft replica dog turds from

Lee and Herring was never as good as Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.

Aug 6

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Some people my age labour under the impression that the comedy double act Lee and Herring were really good and it's a shame they split up. They weren't and it isn't.

David Cameron's out of control, stop this man!

5th Aug

David Cameron is either an evil genius when it comes to foreign policy or a Mr Bean style character who blunders his way through

What a depressing incident, thank God for Stewart Lee.

I was sat on the tube opposite a rather well dressed dandy. Next to me were a young black couple who looked quite trendy themselves. The lad had a hat on and sports gear, the girl had her hair straightened and curled ever so slightly. The man got up and pushed his way through the people towards the door. The girl remarked to her boyfriend; "he's gay".

The Eh Team?*

Aug 3rd

I'm very glad that me and my lady watched a few episodes of the TV series upon which the A-Team film was based. In my imagination the series was a work of genius, turns out that in reality it's irritating and dull.

Katie pays the Price

Urrgh. Does irony even exist in the mind of someone like Katie Price? I used to think that people like her knew what they did was nonsense. I grew up with the belief that were you to meet a famous person in real life they would let you in on the fact that everyone knew it was all a pose. The open secret would be revealed to you.

Time shoots by.

Aug 1st

It's such a droll observation but it holds true, time is going by at an ever increasing speed. If you agree with this assertion be prepared for it to continue to accelerate. In the world of New Age / Conspiracy theory there are some people who think this tendency, which everyone seems to have noticed, is proof that the Universe is itself thundering towards some sort of conclusion which will arrive in 2012.

Having children does seem rubbish

Sunday The 31st of July

I enjoyed listening to Cristo's show on LBC today. He was on top form. I couldn't agree more with his rant about the sitcom "Outnumbered" which features one half of the unfunny double act Punt and Dennis*. Me and my girlfriend excitedly switched it on when friends of ours (all of whom have kids) sold it to us as being one of the funniest TV shows they'd ever seen. If you've not seen it

Some of life's little ironies

I was reading some article or other recently with someone who had survived what sounded like a horrific car crash. Seriously injured, the man had only narrowly escaped full decapitation. He featured under the headline "The Luckiest Man In The World".

Big Brother's final series limps along

29th July

Me an' the lady settled down to watch Big Brother 11 on our still broken telly. The little line which flickers at the top didn't detract hugely from this rather poor final series of the infamous reality TV show.

The Adverntures of Asterisk

28th July

I'm very excited about the imminent arrival of a book by Stewart Lee. There are extracts appearing on the excellent comedy website Chortle. It appears that Mr Lee is a

High as a kite off a single cup of coffee!

27th July

My caffine experiment has had to end. I was freaking out!

Who needs drugs when you can muck about with caffine highs? I reckon most people are more addicted to the substance than they think. Try cutting it out for a week, see how you do. If you can't manage it you'll still enjoy your first cup back.

Music I enjoy #4

Hawkwind

It's tricky to know how to sell a band like Hawkwind to someone. Their music is

I'm a bit like Renton off of that film

25th July

I'm day two into my attempt to go for a week without caffeine. I went a whole day yesterday without it and then today I've just managed to keep not drinking anything with it in. I obviously suffer badly from an addiction to the drug as the last time I tried to come off it I had serious problems. I went very wibbly!

It was a very rare incident

There's a lot about news reporting and media in general which is deeply absurd. The idea that you can get an account of something which has no bias is blatantly idiotic. Everything has a perspective to it. Photographs are defined just as much by what they are not as by what they are.

Irony and sarcasm: Lee Nelson's Well Good Show

Lee Nelson in action
23rd July

Today I sat and watched "Lee Nelson's Well Good Show". It was a 'best bits' clip show. Good lord what absolute toss! Firstly, lets be clear here, it's a show about a "chav" called Lee Nelson. He is supposed to be a bit thick. There is therefore a level of irony to most of the things he says. A duality of meaning which the writers of this show didn't seem to

I love Stewart Lee and his mad sense of integrity

Stewart Lee is apparently livid that there is to be a "Foster's Comedy God" award which will be voted for by the public and then handed out by the new sponsor of what used to be called, the Perrier comedy awards*. His angry email to them is reproduced on the excellent Chortle website here.

Obviously problems at Tesco

21st July

It's about ten to eight and I'm just about to go through yet more nonsense regarding my £500 chav sized telly which regular readers may remember me purchasing then blogging excessively about in previous entries: CLICK HERE, AND HERE, AND THEN HERE, AND FINALLY HERE

Wax on wax off!

20th July

Me and my girlfriend watched The Karate Kid today. We watched the original version. There's no way the new one is ever going to be better than this. It's an awesome 80's classic. It even has the line "hey it's the 80's" in it.

Big beefy bloke shoots people, morons love it!

19th

If you were listening to my weekend overnight show on LBC you'll have heard me taking calls from Raoul Moat "fans". Yep, that's plural, he has more than one.

Freaky book

18th

I'm making some serious progress through all the books I've got on the go at the moment. Yesterday I finished the follow up to "Freakonomics". You may have seen it advertised around London, it's called "Superfreakonomics" and it's aces.

Too clever for his own good...

Nowadays everybody thinks they are a media expert. Clever manipulation of TV interviews is not beyond the ken of people like, Zac Goldsmith. On the contrary, it's easy. Or at least, so he thought.

Getting a bit shirty.

16th July

When I got to work yesterday I was sweating through my purple shirt. There were big thick patches of damp on it in all the usual places and under my man boobs! This is not a good look.

My new polytheism defence...

15 July

I can't help but talk to people who are religious about their beliefs. It's amazing to me that, in theory, there are some of us who really believe all the mad stuff written down in things like the Quran and The Bible. I've not read the former, its just too boring

Discordian Poetry

14th July NB// Most people will not like this entry.

Reading Illuminatus

13th July

As I've mentioned before, my raw enthusiasm for the world of conspiracy theory has declined somewhat in recent times. However I'm still very keen

Comedy, it's funny isn't it?

One of the producers at LBC went to see Chris Addison, the bloke who plays Olly in The Thick Of It, doing stand up. He came into work full of praise.

It's wrong to shout "hey Alf!" at strangers, right?

London is weird. First thing in the morning, finished my show at The LBC. Wandering about in Leicester Square and

Say cheese!

The theory goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. That is of course nonsense. It can be worth

More "proves it"...

Me and my old producer Alex Baker had a little catch phrase we'd often use in relation to UFO stories. In the event of one occurring in the news we'd point and shout "prooooves it!!".

Brand Russell Ltd

08 July

I spent the evening watching Brand Russell re-creating 'On the road' with my girlfriend. I want to like this bloke but I've not managed to yet. Everything about him

Made some changes to the blog format

Got a text off a mate who isn't keen on the slight changes I've made to the format of the blog where you've got to click to see

Grim world at the moment

July 6th

Man, I had a conversation today with yet another friend who has lost their job. This guy, unlike the others, doesn't work in radio but it's all part of a wider trend which

£50 extra a month!

My new house has no designated parking. Also, next door we have a nice young couple with a baby and a piano. The baby frequently cries with enthusiasm. To calm it down they play the piano to it. This rarely works and the resulting cacophony is tragi-comic.

Fat football loving advert watcher

July 04

I don't like football, I don't generally like adverts, I do like this one though: http://tinyurl.com/2v97cuy

It's the one

Always wear the mask.

One of my most vivid memories as a child is the gradual realisation that I'd been ripped off by The Judge Dredd film. When I went to watch it with my friends I tried to keep a brave face on but I knew a little part of me had just died forever when, within the first few minutes, it became clear Sylvester Stallone was not keeping his Dredd helmet on.

Demographics.

2nd July

Last night I watched a whole episode of Skins. It was as rubbish as you think. My excuse is that I was flicking between normal telly and HD to see if I could spot the difference. In the end the telly went off and

Legalise drugs.

I've never understood why our taxes are being pumped into wars which we can clearly never win. The war in Iraq is one good example. The war on recreational drugs is another.

Ticking by.

30th June

I'm starting to become genuinely concerned about the time I'm letting slip by at the moment. I only really work weekends currently, aside from the occasional extra cover work which comes my way here and there. Initially I got stuck into writing a book but gradually this has gone by the wayside.

The book is about

Radio anorak entry.

29th

Being a radio presenter used to be an easy ride. Nowadays though, the industry is in dire straits.

You can choose your friends...

28th Cheryl Cole, I just don't get it.

I'm an excellent boyfriend


27th

For her birthday I bought my girlfriend The MicroCube. And a guitar.

Food glorious food...

I was thinking recently that the cornerstones of my diet are as follows:

Baked potatos with tuna, mayonaise and sweetcorn. A dab of mustard on the side. Excellent.

Prejudice can be fun!

25th

Going through a real Alan Moore period at the moment. I'm watching loads of interviews with him on YouTube and have inevitably been drawn towards this website: www.dodgemlogic.com.

Podcast

24th

I have a huge unused archive of old radio shows. I've discovered whole boxes of stuff which is not currently online but might be of interest to people. I'm deciding what to do with it all. I think I'm going to start podcasting it. I guess there'll be a couple of hundred people out there in webland who might like to hear some of it. It includes bits from old forgotten radio shows, some student radio, some from Hallam FM (my first talk show), a lot from Kerrang and bits of other stuff.

House about that?

23rd

We're moving house. It's a big, long, boring task.

Frank Sidebottom.

22nd

I'm more than a little depressed by the news of Frank Sidebottom's untimely demise. He was only 54 and his creative spark was far from out. What a downer.

Famous people pretending to be normals


21st

Yesterday I saw the actor who plays Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings, wandering about, in the London, like a normal person. He didn't fool me. I knew he was probably hatching yet another evil plan to get his finger in Frodo's magic ringpiece again. Either that or wondering how he could reprise his excellent performance as Martin Hannett in 24 Hour Party People, one of my favourite films of all time.

Uber lazy

20th

I'm amazed at how much I can sleep. I've always known I was a lazy person but the current number of hours I'm managing to pack in on my (frequent) days off is quite staggering. If being lazy was an olympic event I'd be to lazy to even compete. And of course this would mean that I'd win.

Gary McKinnon.

19th

Gary McKinnon's case should have been sorted by now. I've met him and his mother a couple of times and it's beyond my comprehension why he is still being tortured by the legal system in this country. He's the guy who allegedly hacked into the American government's computer systems to look for evidence of UFOs. From the sounds of it he found something, but there's no solid proof of this that I'm aware of.

Not all of the following is true.

18th

Dongle is not a real word. Everyone who uses it has been tricked.

It is poetic that lipstick was modelled on bullet cartridges. War is embedded into one of the tools women use to apply make up.

Want to get into the occult? Here's a good place to start.

I've just finished reading "My Life With The Spirits" by Lon Milo DuQuette. It was word for word one of the best books on occultism I've ever read. It's the life story of, Lon Milo DuQuette, a chap who we interviewed on the old Kerrang show around the time we were doing the Crowley Enochian calls*.

Laughing at the tragedy of strangers...

16th

Sat on a train, bored. Why do people always insist on having a loud phone conversation like that bloke over there? Good god he's annoying. My twitter feed continues the story:

NICKMARGERRISON TWEETS
is it wrong to be amused by a bloke arguing with his girlfriend on a mobile phone, being frequently frustrated when his signal cuts out?
16 June 2010 20:43:07 via mobile web

NICKMARGERRISON TWEETS
ooh! He's dumping her in anger! It's all kicking off.
16 June 2010 20:45:47 via mobile web

Including travellers and transsexuals?

15th

Do you think The Daily Mail is intentionally amusing? Sentences like this one are beyond parody aren't they (?):

[An Ofcom study] labelled 'bizarre' yesterday, was based on just 130 viewers with a disproportionate focus on minority groups, including travellers and transsexuals.

[my emphasis]

Anyone.

14th

Anyone but England?

Meme tastic

13th

Epic Beard Guy...

I've been a YouTube fan for years. I spend far too long on the site watching stupid videos. This means I'm often drawn in by You Tube sensations. This is easily one of the oddest I've seen in some time. It's a bit violent so I link to it with a word of caution.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4OnhnvczTk

In short it's a fight on a bus.

What's interesting about it is the huge controversey that surrounds it, best articulated by these two vids I've posted here:

Interview with Epic Beard Guy, during which his fragile mental state becomes obvious.


Nice balanced video which contains interviews with both Epic Beard Guy and the man who attacked him.

The rarely seen aftermath video taken on the same day after the fight.


An amusing parody video
.

NM

Thus spake Discordia

12th June

Solipsism is the idea that you are the only 'real' person in the world. Your mind is the only one which you can be certain of and so it's possible that everyone else around you is therefore not 'human' in the sense you are.

Some people get really freaked out by this suggestion and find it hard to shake off. I've always liked it but never really found it upsetting. I also think it is true. You are the only real person in the universe, everyone else is not the same, they're unique, as are you.

It's important though to define terms.

Real - what does that mean? Person - what's one of those?

Firstly "real" is something you personally can verify. Reality only ever reaches us as a subjective impression of apparently external sources. Your version of "real" is different to mine. My version of "real" will, somewhere along the line, deviate from yours and become un-real.

This brings us to the question of what is a "person". Well, it's the identity you attribute to the instrument which allows you to see your version of 'real'. So a "real person" would be best described as someone who sees your version of real. Thus the only real person you know is the one with your name.

There's nothing upsetting about this, it's better than discovering that in fact everyone else has the same perspective as you. That would cause much bigger problems.

Accepting solipsism as a necessary quirk of perspective is a worthwhile step. Jumping on from there to the conclusion that this invalidates the rights of other people is to forget that your perspective is incomplete and that without others you live in a smaller world.

NM

Happy Birthday Kerrang

This youtube amused me. Mainly for the chunky power chord action Alex Baker dishes out in the background.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEbmBVy3ZTs

Although I don't get much chance to listen I certainly don't hold anything other than good feelings towards my old stomping ground. The show I did there had a sort of built in narrative which ended in quite a satisfactory way and all the people who still work there are friends of mine.

In fact I think I've only ever left one radio station with a genuinely foul taste in my mouth and that was over a decade ago now.

NM

What can I say, Iran out of interest.

10th June

Although these days I've grown significantly tired of 'conspiracy theory' it's very difficult to reject a whole set of ideas because most of them seem to pander to irrationality. One of the constant refrains emanating from that particular sector of our culture is the belief a war with Iran is inevitable.

It's part of "the agenda", goes the argument, so it will happen in due course. "The agenda" also includes an economic collapse which leads to a global currency, UFO disclosure, the break down of law and order, race riots and the microchipping of people without their consent. And, depending on who your favourite source of paranoia is, martial law, a one world religion, the arrival of the anti-christ and the destruction of 80% of the world's population.

There's more but like I said, I've kind of lost interest in it all these days.

I'll go out on a limb though ... a war with Iran is not on the cards anytime soon. We really can't afford it and neither can our American allies.

The only real point in this post is to make the above prediction as an opposite point of view to the majority of the world's bloggers, most of whom think the war starts tomorrow. My point of view, like theirs, is purely informed by gut instinct. However, mine will not leave you worrying about stuff you can't change.

NM

LINK TO A STORY ABOUT SANCTIONS IN THE JERUSALEM POST

Amy's Pond

9th June

Spent a good chunk of the day watching Dr Who. I've finally decided that this chap is one of my favourites in the role, of all time. In fact this is the first series where I've not wanted to miss a single second. It's on an all time high.

Me and my girlfriend are also excited that Amy Pond looks like a mate of ours, TV journalist Claire Fallon.

However now its been pointed out to me I'm finding this classic series a bit confusing to watch. Are we actually watching Amy Pond or is it more fun to imagine a mate of ours being depicted on the small screen helping out everyone's favourite Time Lord?

As I understand it a couple of people have approached Claire thinking she was the actress who plays the role of Miss Pond.

Meanwhile I've been managing to look like a fatter version of Toadfish off Neighbours for quite some time without many people so much as batting an eyelid.

NM

Half Decent

8th June

You may remember an earlier posting about my "chav sized" telly*. The one I bought is "HD Ready". I'm still not entirely clear if this means it is or is not HD which I'm watching on the occasions it is available. Right now the BBC HD channel is on and I've got to be honest here, I can't really see much of a difference. There is one but it's very slight.

My mate Ginger Dave got quite riled when I said this to him recently.

"There's definitely a difference, no doubt about it. Or at least there is on my telly."

This has made me a little paranoid that I've got a rubbish version of HD. This has been eased slightly by a caller on my new radio show who assured me that HD is only a significant improvement upon American television signals. They've always had slightly blockier resolution on their tellys.

Meh, I'm just looking at it now. It's a bit sharper but, it's nothing I'd write home about. Perhaps I just have rubbish eyesight these days. If that's true I blame the internets.

NM

* Quite a popular entry, only 3 points off being in the top 5.

"Paaarp - oh 'ave a go on that" S. Cable, rock legend.

7th June

A depressing day.

I went out with my Mum to a coffee shop. My phone had no signal so I was surprised to get a flurry of text messages when we were driving back to inhabited land.

"Heard about Stuart Cable? Didn't you know him?"

"Have you heard the sad news about stuart cable?"

"Bad news about Stuart Cable mate."

As I was driving I didn't know what to expect but it didn't look good.

I met Stuart Cable a few times when he worked at Kerrang. Usually in the context of a night out. He was a larger than life character with a big deep voice. He had a massive grin which would stretch from ear to ear. Above anything else he had a huge laugh and a good sense of humour.

Listeners to the old Kerrang show may remember the noise of him breaking wind which we used to play out at the start of the show occasionally, complete with his casual response: "oops - 'ave a go on that!".

It never failed to get a laugh in the studio.

No one replied to my text messages asking what had happened so I sat down on my laptop and checked the world wide web. I was stunned to read about the death of an ex-collegue on The Times website. I don't think I've ever had an experience like that. Usually people who have died in the news are ones I haven't met.

It made me realise how cold sentences like this are:

"If a post mortem confirms claims by friends that he died in his sleep having choked on his own vomit he will have followed a rock ‘n’ roll tradition laid down by previous wild men of rock including John Bonham, drummer with Led Zepplin, and Keith Moon of The Who. " THE TIMES ONLINE.

When written about someone you've never met that sort of seems like fair comment. To me, in this context, it struck me as inappropriate. I had a little glimpse, right there, of the peculiar tendancy our society has to glorify depressing unecessary deaths. It had never really dawned on me before that people like Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon have families and friends who will only be devastated by their deaths*. I imagine it takes time to see it as in any way romantic.

NM

*My thoughts for the rest of the day were with his family and friends. Very sad news.

Influences on my mind #3

6th June

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee was famous the first time round for his part in the overrated double act Lee and Herring. This was during the mid 1990's, they had a few TV shows and (significantly better) radio shows. At the time I thought they were ok but didn't notice once they'd gone. In my mind they sort of melded with The Mary Whitehouse Experience (remember that?) and other average mid 90's comedy.

My re-introduction to him came via a mate of mine* who told me I had to see his new show "Stand up Comedian" which came out around 2002**.

When I watched it for the first time it was at the Glastonbury festival and I could not believe how great it was. It actually blew my mind. It was in a different league to the stuff I remembered from the mid 90's. There was so much going on in his delivery, expressions and turns of phrase that my brain couldn't take it all in. He seemed really angry and yet very passive. He appeared fiercely moral but still clearly decadent. Above all these things he was intelligent and, crucially, not ashamed of his intellect. This last point is important and I'll come back to it.

In short though, I was converted.

I then spent a few years ranting at people telling them about this guy who was really funny. Then the DVD of his stuff came out (I'd seen him a few more times since) and I had my chance to gather more converts! This brought no positive results whatsoever. Click here for my flatmate's reponses and here for another mate's first impression. No one got it.

I now realise that he was simply a few years ahead of his time. The rest of the UK is catching up with him and that's why he's got a second BBC TV series coming out soon.

However, one of the reasons the rest of the UK is catching up with him is because Stewart Lee's ability as a stand up has managed to help change the comedy landscape. He is a significant influence on many major stand up comedians who are more successful that he'll ever be***. Two obvious examples are Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais. The former would not dish out the verbage that he does if he'd not been affected by Lee's lack of shame regarding intelligence. Ricky Gervais's stand up sets would not have worked in quite the same way either. Particularly regarding his awesome piece about The Bible.

Stewart Lee's influence seeps into you without you really noticing. It's not entirely positive, there's a price you pay for being as honest with yourself as he is, but ultimately my world would be poorer had I not been correctly told "you MUST see it Nick, it's genius".

NM

*Tom Binns, famous for his bonkers character Ivan Brackenbury but a brilliant stand up in his own right.

**ish? I think he toured it a lot before it came out on DVD.

*** Possibly by design. He's clearly uncomfortable with fame.

"God is a concept, by which we measure our pain" - J.Lennon

5th June

If everyone in the middle east woke up an atheist tomorrow I think the problems in that area could probably be sorted out within a few weeks. As far as I'm aware that section of the earth is one which various people think God has promised them as a gift. With God on their side people can often become very unreasonable.

"They should sort it out like my Mum used to with cake, one of you divides it in half and the other gets to choose" - Richard Herring.

The annoying thing for me about the problems in the middle east is that we're involved at all. I actually could not care less. If I were the boss of the UK my foreign policy would be real simple. I'd wash my hands and then wish both sides the best of luck.

As regular readers may be aware I don't travel much*. My ill-informed opinion of the rest of the world is thus: all a big horrible messy mud pit with people squirming about on the floor crying and pointing back towards me as they squeal "ahh - I'm in an awful situation thanks to you and your ancestors!".

I voiced this opinion to a mate of mine who is Jewish recently and he assured me that I had it all wrong, "You must come with me to Tel Aviv some time man, it's beautiful". I remember pointing out that the middle east is exactly the sort of place that gives fuel to my prejudices so he laughed and said, "well at least come over to America next year, there's nothing like that there". Err, Native Americans might disagree. "Australia?" - Aborigines?

There really don't seem to be many countries we haven't smacked about in the past at some point or other.

That and the fact I'm lazy tend to get in the way of me travelling about with my English accent.

However, given that this attitude drives my girlfriend up the wall (and over it to freedom if I'm not careful) I'm actually planning to do a little bit of travel this year. I go to Dublin soon for my mate's 30th. Does that count as travel? I'm also going to Amsterdam again soon. Should be fun. I've got a bit of a hazy memory of it from last time round so it'll be a whole new experience for me, again.

NM

Dis stain

Today I suffered at the hands of a manky stain on my shirt cuff. It was white and looked like something bodily and embarrassing from a distance. Up close it looked like what it was, chewing gum. I'm not sure how it got there and by the time I noticed it I was out of the house and unable to change.

Something like that can really damage your mojo. It's tempting when you talk to people to make excuses for it but then you run the risk of highlighting it.

I soldiered on.

NM

Should have just got 'em off Bit Torrent.

3rd June

Me and the lady spent the best part of £100 on CD's today. We were getting albums which we thought we should already own. The sort of stuff you see on telly and think - I should have a copy of that somewhere, but don't.

Jimi Hendrix got a look in, as did Joy Division, Led Zep, AC/DC, Genesis (Peter Gabriel era), Paul McCartney (with Wings, the mistake of the spending spree) Fleetwood Man (Peter Green era), and Beck. The latter purchase was at my girlfriend's insistence.

The best of the bunch so far is easily AC/DC: Back in Black. I'm surprised at how well it works as an album, I usually think of them as being a singles band.

NM

More proof that I'm a waster...

June 2nd

Easter Eggs are little bits of extra stuff hidden on a DVD. Only dull monkees like me know about them and look for them. This website is full of them. I've just sat and watched Sarah Silverman talking about 'assholes'. Not her finest work but this is what you expect to find in an Easter Egg. Pretty rubbish additional material which takes effort to find.

NM

Sim City


I really am quite a tragic case. My friends are off doing important stuff like having kids and following important career paths while I'm still messing about on stupid computer games wondering when I'll suddenly grow up. Like this will happen overnight one day - "aha I'm now a responsible adult who can plan things weeks in advance AND keep his room tidy without his girlfriend moaning at him about it!".

My latest computer game addiction is Sim City. Yep - that old game no one cares about anymore. It's aces. I have managed to build up a mighty city called Nichopolis.

When I started playing on it my girlfriend thought it was Second Life and that I was going to go online and meet new people. She worried that I was going to find a 'red haired fat girl who likes tarot' and run off with them. She vastly over estimates me sometimes. Imagine her relief (?) when she realised that actually I was going to waste loads of time playing a very old computer game.

NM

The scab that is religion...

As an athiest it's always fascinated me that there are some people who believe in a book like The Bible, The Quran or The Torah as, for want of a better word 'gospel' truth. I spend more time than is normal picking at the scab of religion by watching bonkers channels such as God TV, Revelation TV, Peace TV, The Islam Channel, etc. Peace TV is particularly fun because in my opinion it's by far the most agressive and outrageous of them all. One of their preachers is called Zakir Naik. He's a good, charismatic speaker who takes questions from his audience and then responds with quotes and mantras such as "we're more Christian than the Christians". My conversations with taxi drivers and friends of mine who are Islamic lead me to believe he's a pretty big name here in the UK although you may not have heard of him.

I was therefore quite surprised to see him described as a "hate monger" in The Times as well as other news papers. At the end of the article I was amazed that I'd consumed so much 'hate' without even realising. I was also a little skeptical of the article.

To read this coverage you'd think the bloke was some sort of cross eyed loon standing on a street corner ranting "death to the infidel" but the reality is more complex than that. Naik's views are not dramatically wide of those of most people I speak to who believe in the Quran as the word of God. Some of the quotes attributed to Naik in The Times, such as calling for the death penalty for changing your religion, are very unpleasant but they've not been invented by his crazy mind. They're in the book itself.

The difficulty we in this country have is that there's a lack of honesty regarding religion. People like me who don't believe in God seem to spend most of their time pretending they are in a majority (which we're not, by any stretch of the imagination) whereas people who do believe, for the most part, keep their crazier ideas to themselves. There's a sort of silence between us which stops everyone from realising how mad we all appear to each other. This silence is partly enforced by broadcasting laws and guidelines that mean you're always on dangerous ground if you bring it up for discussion in the media.

This silence, for me, is quite a tense one. Religion is becoming an elephant in the room where it should be a talking point. Think about it, if you're an athiest like me doesn't it blow your mind that some people believe this world was made by a super magic man who is invisible? Or, on the flip side, if you believe in God doesn't it amaze you that some people think yuo've swallowed a load of nonsense?

I think, Zakir Naik, may well be a loony tune but I do not think he should be banned from this country. There's no record of him attacking someone or inciting violence. He quotes from the Quran a lot but that's not a crime is it? Pop him on a few daytime TV shows and ask him about his views. His responses are, from what I've seen, always entertaining. His ideas may seem mad, to an unbeliever like me, but they become more exciting if they're banned by the Government. It's always better for people to talk to each other than not. Only by having religious beliefs out in the open will they ever be challenged. Or even thought about.

Meh - Hail Discordia!

NM

The cult of Apple

May 30th

Sat on the tube, minding my own business, two random blokes stumble up to me and spark up a conversation about the new apple iphone / laptop thing. I don't know or care what it is but unfortunately my polite replies are interpreted as signs of interest. I've not yet mastered this art of London travelling which involves ignoring people who talk to you. I also do not understand the dozy twunts who love a computer company in the same way you'd love a minor deity.

Point 1, Apple is the largest computer company in the world. Bigger than microsoft. It's not, and never really has been, the plucky little guy.

Point 2, It's a well managed 'cool' brand. I'm not cool and I don't like cool things. There's never been any doubt that Apple is a computer aimed at people who want to be cool. It hits that market well. I'm not part of that market so have no interest.

Point 3, It's a computer. Not a lifestyle choice, you easily herded fat cattle you.

Obviously these points remained obscured by my "oh, that's nice" reply. It was only towards the end of the conversation when I dropped in the above truth nuggets that the two drunken chaps talking to me got into an argument with each other about whether or not Apple Plc is in fact a dominant multinational or a friendly faced plucky business trying desperately to compete with the big boys.

I left them to it.

NM

Uncivilised countries...

Some countries are uncivilised. Some countries are better than others. As a member of the United Kingdom obviously I happen to think we're closer to the 'pinnacle of civilisation' than one which locks up gay people or another that thinks it's fun to chuck rocks at women who have been unfaithful to their husbands. I'd rank a country which still stones people to death as 'uncivilised'. I'd say the same about one which thinks being gay is a criminal offence.

I'm constantly surprised that people in this country find this point of view objectionable. I'm not an idiot who believes that our nation is perfect but I do think we're clearly better than most.

That said, I find this whole flag waving business that we have to endure during a football game very tiresome.

The frequent justification for it is that "they do it in other countries". That for me is not a compelling argument. In fact it's an integral part of the problem. I grew up in a country where we didn't flag wave now I live in one where we do. It's frankly uncivilised.

I understand why this viewpoint is objectionable. It's because there has been a gradual but consistent European influenced indoctrination programme designed to make people think waving their flag is important in some way.

Why European? Well, the England flag is important because it's internally divisive. The Union Jack however is divisive outside of the UK and grit in the shoe of the EU agenda. The United Kingdom has a realistic chance of retaining a separate identity outside of the EU. England does not.

The same agenda is behind this stupid, why don't we celebrate St George's day in the UK (?), debate. Simple answer, St George's day is a catholic celebration. We're not a catholic country. However, now there are state backed celebrations thanks to this grass roots campaign we've seen over the past few years. In my opinion people have been herded into 'the right direction' and we now all look a little more "European".

As to whether that's a good thing or not, I do not know. I only dislike the EU because it seems so sinister.

NM

MALAWI decides not to lock up two gay people: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10190653
IRAN decides not to kill someone with stones: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7302963.stm

Some more random thoughts...

It has come to my attention that fat people, when in their 20's, often look as though they are in their 30's. They spend both decades in stasis and often manage to get through their 40's and early 50's without really seeming to age until, almost overnight, they're old.

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Magic and art have given birth to both science and religion. Personally speaking, I blame the parents.

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All human relationships can be described as accidents of geography and date of birth. This accounts for alcohol, anger, love and tears.

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Growing older has, for me, been a process of observing the age attributed to celebrities in tabloid newspapers. Initially they were astronomically older than me. Then they were my age and now some of them are younger than I am.

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Being surrounded by the ignorant is the price you pay for your genius.

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Everyone is unique, there's nothing special about it.

Ashes to ashes ends and I am gutted . . .

I've not gotten involved in a TV series like "Ashes to Ashes" for quite some time. Most people are still yabbering on to me about "Lost" but it never floated my boat really. Me and the lady quite like "Flash Forward" but it's nowhere near as great as "Ashes to Ashes" was.

The ending has left me confused and really shook me up. I keep replaying parts of it in my mind. It reminds me of "Quantum Leap" and the random way in which that drew to a close.

And Blake's 7. That was pretty neat.

I've ended up going through all the great endings to TV series that I've ever witnessed and I think "Ashes to Ashes" is the best... but I might be forgetting one.

There is of course the mythical finial ending of "Bagpuss" which I'm pretty sure is just a myth given the scant evidence for it on the net. For those who don't know, "Bagpuss" was a TV series where a saggy little cloth cat sat in a lost property shop. The fabled last episode involves him being claimed by his real owners. Probably not true but a good idea nontheless.

NM

Incantations can change reality

May 26th

There is a theory which suggests that reality changes to fit our understanding of it and not the other way round as many of us presume. For example, you think you're reading these words on a computer screen because they were there for you to read. You're reacting to them. I'm guessing you don't think you have had any role in making them appear here. This theory which I'm putting forward for you suggests that actually reality sometimes follows our expectations. So, if you could convince the world to think the moon was made of cheese, in the end it would be.

I'm not sure how far I go along with this stuff, I'm just putting it out there for you as an idea. Objective reality is tricky enough at the best of times. However, it amuses me that scientists have now found that Guinness actually is good for you. Their old advertising slogan has turned out to have a slight grain of truth in it, despite initially being based on no evidence whatsoever: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3266819.stm

Big sun, big fun.

It's amazing how much sunshine changes a place. The brighter something is the nicer it usually looks. Flowers, trees, people, cars, pavements, most of them look lovelier in the sun. On a visual level there's no doubt it looks better.

However, the fact it's so hot is not a good thing in my world. It means I'm all sweaty and wheezy.

Overall I am not a fan of this weather and the sooner it goes the better. That said I will admit, it looks nice.

NM

I watch rubbish TV

My television tastes are nothing to be proud of. I've been watching the "Junior Apprentice" series with my lady recently. It's actually been quite good so far. That said I was annoyed by one of the adults using the phrase: "very unique". You either are or are not unique. It's like being quite original. Or quick and fast.

The experience of uttering the above remarks to my long suffering girlfriend added to my sense of getting old as I watched these kids competing to become Sir Adam Sugar's apprentice*. They were all sixteen but to me they looked about 12. I think you only really grow up around the age of about 27. Before then you're a young kid in my book. If that annoys you it's further proof that I am correct. Only young people get annoyed because people think they're young.

NM

*Got it wrong on purpose. Anyone who is a "Sir" deserves to have their name used incorrectly on a regular basis.

Fame, I want to live forever.

May 23rd

Wandering through London in the morning after my radio show when I see a bloke I vaguely recognise. I nod and say hello, he looks at me with a strange sadness in his eyes and said "ello" back. There was no recognition on his face. Perhaps he thinks I'm a nutter, he clearly had no idea who I was. There's no conversation here so I press on with a smile. I can't place him at all, I look back at him and try to work out how I know him and who he is.

Maybe I don't know him. Oh damn, I've turned into London's equivalent that mad woman who walks round Sheffield town centre in a nightie and slippers saying hello to everyone. No - hang on I do know him, he was in Big Brother. I can't remember his name. I can't remember which series he was in. Or even if I liked/disliked him. But that's how I recognise him... which one is he?

I've written here in the past about the mercurial nature of fame in relation to the Big Brother TV show. It's ironic that the final series is to start soon. I will of course be watching it.

NM

Magnum ice creams

22nd May

The ideal way to serve a magnum ice cream is to let it almost totally defrost, then re-freeze it a bit so that when served the ice cream on the inside is almost like a liquid. This means you can break the chocolate on the outside and suck the nice liquid ice cream out, excellent news.

Magnum's can be too cold. This has been proved by scientists. Probably. They did a study on it in Texas or something, I reckon.

NM

Tea time.

21st May

My girlfriend has a huge selection of teas. We've got camomile, fennel, blackberry, dandelion and about a million others. I've decided to start sampling all of them, many of the packets still remain unopended and I'm the one who is braving to open them. Overall I'd say this is proving to be a worthwhile exercise but it frequently reminds me that I mainly have hot drinks because they contain caffine.

My favourite so far has been fennel. Apparently people with stomach problems drink it. I liked the taste.

NM

A bit of an animal

One of the ideas that regularly knocks me for six is that animals and humans are equal and deserve the same level of respect as one another. I’ve had this idea put to me on numerous occasions in the past and I’m sure to hear it again in the future. On one level it’s perfectly reasonable. Humans are animals. We all feel pain, emotions, empathy, fear, joy, consciousness and the list goes on. You can’t put forward any unique human quality that marks us out which has not within the last few years or so been shown to, at least possibly, exist within other creatures. It’s only our post Christian world view which defends the concept of ‘human specialness’ within mainstream thought.

Personally I approach it from an angle which most people find abhorrent. I am human. I have a human perspective on things. To deny this is to deny my own humanity. I eat animals and wear their skins because I can’t see things from their point of view. If I could I’d probably stop but I can’t so I don’t. This isn’t much of an argument but moral philosophy isn’t really humanity’s strong point. It never has been. Just try working your way through Kant one evening and you’ll see what I mean.

The interesting thing about this analysis though is that people who are staunch animal rights activists do often end up compromising their own humanity in the pursuit of a higher moral calling. Keep this blog entry in mind next time an animal rights story pops up in the news.

NM

Rhetoric is the enemy of logic.

Is there anything that Salad Cream does not make a good accompaniment to? I think the answer to that is ‘nope’. As usual with such forthright statements I’ve gone and thought of a load of things it wouldn’t work well with now. Jelly, ice cream, strawberries, bananas, apples, grapes, chocolate, marshmallows... the list seems almost endless.

Salad Cream does not make a good companion to a serving of salad cream either. You can’t have it on its own. The more I think about this the more I realise salad cream is rubbish. I’ve been made a mockery of by its charms. How inconvenient.

NM

Saw someone in the park with a rubbish tattoo...

If you were ugly it would be unlikely that people would point it out to you in your general day to day existence. The same principle applies to a rubbish tattoo only more so. If you have one done and it looks rubbish, which most do, no one is going to point it out to you. Everyone will be polite and feign interest. “Ah, that’s nice, where did you get it done? Did it hurt? How much did it cost?” conversation over.

This means that, once the procedure is over, clients of the tattoo industry are dropped into a reality where they’ve got a cool tattoo. Regardless of the truth, they will display their tacky picture to people with growing pride as others think to themselves and whisper to each other, “good god that looks rubbish”. Like pigeons who think they’re peacocks they’ll strut about unaware everyone else thinks they look scabby. Why would anyone want to give them the truth? What good would it do them? That’s why I always compliment people on their new tattoos.

If you are a personal friend of mine and reading my blog just by way of catching up, I do of course think your tattoo is genuinely nice. My compliments in your case were utterly sincere. It’s just everyone else I’m talking about here.

NM

One thing to note about the election

May 17th

One thing to note about the election is how badly the BNP did. They are one of the groups who would benefit enormously from proportional representation. As it is, every general election we are reminded they're not really a force to be reckoned with in the UK. I don't think racism is as big a sell in the UK as some people would like to pretend.

The hoo har over Question Time when Nick Griffin appeared on it convinced me that there was no real and present danger of the BNP doing any business in a proper (ie General) election any time soon.

If you didn't see it you really didn't miss much. Me and a few mates watched it expecting something exciting to happen and it took about 20 minutes for us to realise there was never any chance of that. There was the moment when Griffin said he thought gay people kissing was creepy. It made me wonder how he knows that? It also made me wonder who advised him on his strategy for the show, "make sure you annoy gay people as well, don't forget about that!".

This was the key thing for me though, Griffin lacks charisma and our current election system keeps out fringe politics so the BNP won't be gaining any form of real power any time soon. Three cheers for first past the post!

NM

I eye with my little fly

Fly in my eye

Sat on a bus with my girlfriend and as we were chattin’ a little fly decided to take a swim in my eye. Not a pleasant experience. My girlfriend tried to fish it out with her finger while we were still on the bouncing bus. Surprisingly this didn’t work and only managed to guarantee the fly’s corpse a safe place round the back of my eyeball just underneath it. I now have the odd luxury of being able to feel its lifeless body being squashed about in my eye socket.

I wonder what was going through the little insect’s tiny brain as it used the gift of flight to navigate its way into my face and certain doom. I can’t help but feel that I came off the bigger man. After a quick eye bath just before settling down to write this blog entry I’m reasonably confident I’ll find fly debris on my pillow tomorrow. What does Freddie The Fly have to show for his heroics? A weird watery grave.

Some people believe in reincarnation and might tell you that Freddie The Fly was learning a valuable lesson. What that lesson was, only he can know. Maybe he had reincarnated and then committed suicide when he worked out he was now a fly. Previously, perhaps he was Napoleon and he couldn’t deal with life as a little rubbish fly.

Maybe that or maybe the world is a random place and mad stuff happens without rhyme or reason all the time. It’s one of the two.

Music I enjoy #3

Nirvana
“I miss the comfort in being sad”

I remember a mate of mine lending me a copy of Nirvana’s first album “Bleach”. It made very little impression on me. Then they had a big hit with the song “Smells like Teen Spirit” which was quite nice but it didn’t particularly rock my world. At the time I was far too engrossed in The Beatles and The Doors to notice any worth in modern music. Then they recorded MTV Unplugged and their ‘less commercial’ album “In Utero”. It blew me away. Then Kurt Cobain blew his brains out (I still remember the picture of them on the floor in The Daily Mirror) and made it, for me, hard to enjoy his music without a certain amount of moral ambiguity.

The difficult thing about Nirvana is that they helped to define a large chunk of my generation’s experience of growing up. When I think of their music it is inextricably intertwined with other people I knew who loved it and situations which hinge around being part of a ‘scene’ for a bit. That’d be the grunge scene, which was always pretty daft. In fact it did at the time and if you’d have asked me I’d have denied I was part of it.

I’ve still not resolved the moral ambiguity of Kurt’s suicide but these days I understand that the music and the musician should be considered separately. The thing about Nirvana is that they did actually record good music. More importantly it has improved over time. Cobain’s vocal still has the power to shock. The production is nicely layered and provides cheeky extra nuggets with repeated listening. The pace of the albums works well from track to track. In fact I’d even go as far as to say that both ‘Nevermind’ and ‘In Utero’ qualify as that rarest of all beasts: a perfect album.

NM

Who do we owe all this money to?

This deficit that we keep being told about - the huge debts our nation has incurred, who precisely do we owe the cash to?

Someone posed this simple question on Yahoo ask
only to get a typically mawkish response from someone moralising about how you can't always have fun in life, you need to pay money back in the end. Not quite an answer to the question but it certainly explains why the question is so difficult to pose. People love moralising.

Further digging on the net reveals we owe it to 'foriegn financers' and 'private industry'. I think it'd be nice if we were given more information on who exactly we owe all this money to because it might help put things into perspective a bit when everyone is running about like headless chickens, inbetween finger wagging sessions where they spout off stories about how it's no good getting into debt and not paying your own way. For example, if we were told we owe all this money to some dodgy bloke who operates out of an office on an industrial estate and that he wants our kneecaps if we don't pay back by noon tomorrow that might add an air of urgency to things. Or on the other hand if it's some nice old lady who lives on her own with a couple of cats maybe the situation is not so urgent.

I remember a fat northern comedian pragmatically telling me once that "if you owe people money don't sit round worrying about how you're going to pay 'em back, that's their job".

NM

My girlfriend is having an affair...

14th May

My girlfriend is having an affair with Twitter. She's addicted to it. You can guarantee she will be reading it now. No matter what time of day it was when you read those words. I'm not quite as deep into it but I do enjoy an odd tweet.

One particularly odd (but funny) tweeter is this bloke: http://twitter.com/NawtyDanny

It's a parody of Danny Dyer. It's laugh out loud funny.

Alan Watts: http://twitter.com/alan_watts

A passable quote machine based around the late Zen master.

Armando Iannucci: http://twitter.com/Aiannucci

Very funny comedian.

Tony Robbins: http://twitter.com/tonyrobbins

Self help guru. Seems like a good bloke.

Pope Bob drops me into a conversation I don't understand

Recently I was sat with a mate talking about being able to speak another language. He remarked how odd it was that this planet has so many different modes of communication.

"To be honest I'm surprised people can communicate at all, in fact I'm not even sure we do" I replied.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you know, we all live in our own unique realities. No two people ever see the same universe, we all see different versions of it and 'ultimate truth' remains something we're all effected by but never have unfiltered access to."

"Yeah, I'd agree with that."

"Well, it seems likely to me we probably usually only ever approximate communication, believing we understand each other but largely lacking the ability to verify that belief. So, for example, I think I'm making sense and being interesting as I tell you about this whereas you might just be thinking, this guy's a nutter, what's he banging on about?"

"No, it's interesting."

"Even though you're saying that now, you might just be humouring me."

"Mmm" he said as he looked at his computer.

I carried on writing my prep for the show and noticed he was actually looking off into the distance. He then sort of sighed and walked off.

I need to stop reading so much Robert Anton Wilson*.

NM

*Reality tunnels and Pope Bob on wikipedia.

I still believe in UFO's I'm just not sure what that means.

May 12th

Now Cameron is our PM the disclosure crew are out in force! He answered a question of a UFO researcher last year who I know will not let the issue drop.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_ZsftZ9GCM

If you watch the video you'll notice the questioner's tenacity, he doesn't let the issue get laughed off and really pushes the point.

His name's Richard D Hall and his website is here: http://richplanet.net/

He's one of my favourite ET researchers and I've spoken to him many times.

As the title of this blog suggests, I still believe in UFO's I'm just not entriely sure what I mean by that anymore. For a "UFO" to retain its title you can't actually know what it is. If you do it is no longer unidentified.

NM

So, you've decided to wash your face?

Short transcript of a conversation I had recently with a mate:

"I'm trying out an experiment by using some moisturiser and an 'exfoliate'. They've got pictures of bulldogs on them to prove I'm not a cissy. I guess I fell for that marketing scam eh?"

"Why, what did you use before?"

"Nothing. I just figured that I should take a bit more of an interest in my appearance so I've gotten an 'exfoliate'."

"Right, so what, you've decided you're going to wash your face?"

"Um... yeah, I guess. But when you put it like that, I mean, um."

NM

Four Lions: raw.

May 10th

I've seen the Chris Morris film about Islamic terrorism, 'Four Lions,' and it's excellent. Me an' the lady went to an independent cinema we like and loved it. Firstly, and most importantly, it's funny. It made me laugh a lot. Secondly it's not a "yah boo" to Islam. It needles the religion in places but not in the sort of hamfisted way I suspect some of its critics in the press wanted. Finally it managed to re-frame the way in which I think about terrorists. I now realise there's a depressing level of stupidity at the core of their actions. This final point may seem a little trite to some but in the heat of the debate, at times, it has been the case that I've credited them with more sense than they deserve.

It was interesting to see them portrayed, as they are in this film, as idiots. Whether that's 'the right approach' to the problems presented by radical Islamist terrorism I'm not able to say but it was oddly refreshing to be reminded of this obvious truth. Obvious in that, anyone who thinks that the 'magic man who lives in the sky' wants them to blow themselves up was never going to be just a little on the moronic side. Add to that the oft quoted fantasy of having eternal sex with a load of virgins as payment for this evil act and I'm thinking of a mind driven by a 'Beavis and Butthead' level intellect. Furthermore, when you factor in the frequent assertion that, they've got it all wrong, made by most of their fellow 'magic man in the sky' believers you're left with a group of people who clearly operate on an 'alternate plane' mentally.

Like I said, in retrospect the observation that these people are clearly not too bright seems a little obvious and trite. Such is the nature of an apposite observation.

Ultimately though it's this portrayal that gave the film a slightly depressing flavour. I left feeling a bit down about the fact that, as usual, it's idiots who are dragging the world down and it only takes one of them to ruin your life.

NM

Group think without the group

I used to think the internet was a vehicle for self expression and personal enlightenment. Nowadays I'm concerned that it is becoming a conduit for 'group think'. What I mean by that is people appear to be acting not upon their own will but rather the will of others. I like to avoid being part of large groups of people. There's something about being in a herd of people that seems to mess with my mind a bit. I feel compelled to do things which I would not ordinarily do. For example, 'booing' someone. I'd never do that in a one to one situation but I'm sure that, as part of a crowd, I will have done in the past. Or chanted slogans which upon closer inspection make no sense whatsoever. Such as: "one, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war". I remember chanting that once on some anti-Iraq war protest and, upon closer inspection thinking, "but it's not a racist war". I was just caught up in the moment, it was exciting. I'd been infected with group think.

I remember me and a mate watching some of the Rugby chaps out drinking in the SU bar some years back. They were singing songs and shouting and behaving like idiots. Pulling their pants down and so forth. "Who are ya, who are ya, who are ya, Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerland" etc. My mate pointed out that if they were on their own none of them would be acting even half as badly as they do when in a group.

Big groups of people who believe themselves to be united by some sort of common cause are breeding grounds for trouble because 'group think' appears to reduce the intelligence of everyone there to something approximate to the lowest of the herd. Why this happens I don't know. Perhaps it's the perception of anonymity, safety in numbers, morphic resonance, the pathetic desire to fit in, the conviction that if so many other people act/think this way they can't all be wrong or all of these factors combined. What I do know is it's scary and one of the reasons I like to avoid large crowds such as those mentioned above.

The internet seems to give people a chance to access this 'group think' level of intellect without even having to leave their house.

The "sack Kay Burley" campaign on twitter triggered this entry but these thoughts have been formulating in my mind for some time now. If you have a life you'll be unaware that recently Sky news presenter, Kay Burley, has become something of a hate figure for a perceived group of right-on twitter users. So much so that the topic "sack Kay Burley" recently trended on the social networking site. My reply attracted some indignant and self-righteous tweets, which surprised me as it was, I thought, quite reasonable:

"The 'sack Kay Burley' trending topic is the most depressing one I've ever looked into. Twitter is becoming a tool of hate mobs."

From what I can make out Kay Burley's hideous crime was aggressively asking questions of some bloke who seemed to think meaningless right on answers were the best way to deal with a media appearance: "we voted with hope for a better future...". Nothing wrong with a journalist trying to get past fluffy answers, in fact I think it's to be encouraged. It turns out that the group he represented was one that specialises in internet campaigns. Hence the twitter trend.

"Fair votes now" and "Unlock democracy" sound great but don't actually mean anything. Holding it on a placard with a look of religious ecstasy might be fun but it's still without meaning. It's akin to the rugby lads getting drunk and me chanting that I don't want a racist war. As is writing "sack kay burley" over and over again in order to make it trend on twitter.

The interview which caused 'so much' moral indignation. Note the comments section to get more of an idea of 'group think' in full flow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt_cUiCjggE&feature=related

How about constant democracy?

Proportional representation is the in thing at the moment. As a result I've gone off the idea. Mainly because I don't think most of the people who are advocating it know what it means or which system they're in support of. They're just angry.

Furthermore, most of the popular systems (by which I mean those advocated by politicians) allow the political parties to assign MPs to areas once the votes have been counted and their seat numbers are allocated. This would result in MP's not having to answer to people locally at all. The practice of parachuting in MP's from out of town to places like Liverpool and Manchester has always been frowned upon. Most of the forms of proportional representation advocated at the moment would guarantee that happened on a regualr basis. No more Portillo or Jacqui Smith moments!

The only sort of electoral reform I would support (and would get me to return to voting) is best described as "constant democracy" or "rolling elections". I can't find it on the net, even wikipedia has let me down. It was explained to me, like all the best ideas, by a bloke in a pub years ago. It goes like this, you vote for whoever you want. When you don't like them you change your vote to someone else. There are no elections. It's your right to change who you support whenever you want to.

That way people like me who voted Blair in '97 could take their vote back in the event of, for example, an oncoming war in Iraq. Or the death of a someone like Dr David Kelly. Or the treatment of Gary McKinnon. Or, anything which seemed out of step with what you want. In fact, it would mean there was effectively a potential referendum whenever a controversial policy which lacked public support came up.

The main argument against this put forward by politicians is that they would never get anything done.

For me that sounds like another argument in favour of it.

NM

Grr! I can't believe I've been delayed for a couple of minutes, grr!

7th May

So, there's an accident in the middle of the road. You're held up for a couple of minutes behind the two people who've bumped each other's cars. They're clearly swapping insurance details. It's rush hour. It's annoying. Do you:

A) Just sit there an sigh.

B) Try and get round them.

C) Rev your car like a loony and when you get a the chance to get round them, do so as dramatically as you can at high speed with a snarl on your face.

The accident aftermath I saw today reveals that the most common answer to this question is "C". Two 'alpha males' decided to opt for this course of action, one of them almost killed a pedestrian with his theatrics. Well done everybody.

NM

Polling day...

As promised I "improved" my ballot paper. It felt good. I'd had a brief fling with the idea of voting for the Lib Dems but it really didn't seem worth it.


However, I feel my efforts were significantly outdone by a mate of mine over here: http://twitpic.com/1lh0v4

Thusly Murray wins the big bag of nothing. It's in the post!

NM

My least favourite term in the world is "sheeple"

As we were driving around Cornwall on our little holiday we had to stop the car to let a farmer go past with his sheep. I videoed them as they ran alongside us. The song in the background is 'Matchbox' by The Beatles, it happened to be playing on the CD player in my car.

video

I heard someone speaking recently about the oft repeated idea that people are hunters. It's pretty standard for people to talk of us in the long distant past as hunter gatherers. This chap, whose name escapes me, was talking about how he believes the evidence suggests that for the most part we were more gatherers than hunters. More of our time was concerned with being hunted than hunting. He then went on to talk about how our relationship with dogs (which began around 20,000 years ago according to him) is where our hunter status really comes from. Without them we'd have been stuck as mainly gatherer hunters with our prey being rats and insects.

In fact it's probably better to think of humans as just that: gatherer hunters. It seems that is what we have been for most of our time on this planet.

One of the things this chap said we'd notice in our culture if this kind of predominately preyed-upon mindset was truely the dominant part of our psychological make up would be the concept of sacrifice. If a group of animals is being chased by a Lion they will soon learn that you only have to be able to outrun the slowest of your number to live another day. Hence, it's not an unusual sight to see a Lion devouring its prey as other members of the herd walk about nearby. They know they're not going to be eaten, the Lion has what it wants. One of their number has been 'sacrificed' for the greater good. You see this on nature documentaries all the time.

So, what we're looking for is the concept of sacrifice in our culture today. Sacrifice required to appease an angry and hungry powerful being which once fed will leave us to our own devices for a bit... ring any bells?

Ever since I tried this new reality tunnel on for size it has proved useful. Seeing myself and fellow members of humanity as part of a gatherer hunter community makes more sense, even if it feeds our egos slightly less. For better or worse, we're more sheep than shepherds.

NM

In my view this is a good thing


May 4th

I wonder if people evolved to find views like this nice or if there is an inherent 'niceness' within them. I suspect the former but am compelled by evolutionary forces to hope for the latter. I wonder, if aliens landed tomorrow would they also think the above picture looked nice? Do birds, like the one in my previous entry, think this view looks nice?

Actually I'm forgetting myself here. There are of course some people who don't think pictures like the above are particularly nice. In fact, I didn't used to when I was a younger man. I'd wonder what adults were talking about when they said the countryside looked nice. It just looked like countryside to me.

Maybe it's a cultural thing and you learn to think it looks nice. If I'd have lived in the desert would I have an equal appreciation for such landscapes? I imagine snowscapes, sandscapes and the views from the surface of Venus are "nice" if you learn to have an eye for them.

Life is chaos upon which you apply a pattern called order.

Still, it does look nice, right?

Random animals are ancestor spirits

May 3rd

Me and the lady are taking a short break. This is one of the advantages of only working on the weekends, I can go on holiday without having to take time off.

We’re in St Ives. We were greeted in the hotel room by this chap who is stood outside our window.



He’s looking at me right now as I type out this entry as a word document to upload once I reach May the 3rd. Unnervingly he’s just started squawking as I write about him ... and now for the first time since we arrived he’s flown off. Perhaps he forged some sort of psychic link with my brainium and realised I was writing about him. Or, perhaps it was just a co-incidence.

Tomorrow we’re going to the Tate, there’s a gallery here. First though we’re off on an improvised pub crawl.

Influences on my mind #2

May 2nd

Terrence McKenna.

You can't go wrong listening to Terrence McKenna, unless you go away believing everything he's said to you. My first encounter with him came via Bill Hicks who briefly cites him and the so called "heroic dose" in one of his stand up routines. This meant that the name was stored away in a file marked 'some sort of intellectual clever man'. Actually, Terrence, is more interesting than that.

Firstly, the more controversial point of view which he held was that psychedelic drugs are good for you. It's a shame that this idea instantly puts off a good 80-90% of people from the get go as they'd benefit from his other ideas. McKenna is a raconteur in the truest sense. He jumps from idea to idea like a frog with a cheeky grin. He's the authentic voice of ideas which you don't encounter in 60's/70's nostalgic TV retrospectives but which formed a huge part of the dialogue of those decades.

Here's a few good YouTube vids to get you started...

NOBODY IS SMARTER THAN YOU ARE

TIME ACCELERATION
CULTURE IS YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM

Not long now...

May 1st

Still keeping my political opinions to myself at work because of the law. You're not allowed to broadcast any points of view that might encourage someone to vote in a particular fashion.

I'm reminded of my mate Tom Binns's joke about this which he did on Kerrang:

"General election on at the moment so we have to be very careful, I can't tell you to vote in a particular direction. They're very strict actually, I can't even tell you not to bother voting. The only thing I can do is encourage you to vote ... if I want to."

I've not changed my mind, I'm not going to bother voting. I'll post up my spoilt paper on this blog as suggested in the comments section.

NM

What's the tooth about Bluetooth?

"Hey - come in here and watch a film! 2 for 1 on Weds if you're an orange customer."

Who in their right mind is going to respond to something like that? I noticed it was a cinema. I didn't come in. Now you've sent me a text I think I'll change my plans. Stupid.

What exactly is the point of bluetooth? Other than to send me stupid text messages when I go past a cinema or a phone shop? You can transfer files from one phone to another ... and that's it. Leave it on and you get these awful spam texts everywhere you go. Absolute nonsense.

I've switched the function off on my phone now, apparently this saves battery. But it still annoys me that there must be mobile phone signals sturting out of the shops/businesses that use this form of advertising. Can't do us any good to have the unnecessary extra radiation in our densely populated areas like that.

The only good thing about bluetooth is it's named after a Viking. Vikings are cool.

Laughing like an idiot...

Wandering through the crowded streets of London in the morning thinking about how odd it is that people get annoyed over little silly things such as losing their keys. As I daydream a man looks right at me with an angry look on his face. I think it's just the way his face was built. You know, to look angry. He looked both angry and a bit confused. I burst out laughing and tried to disguise it as a cough. The poor bloke looked even more confused. I carried on walking genuinely shocked that I'd laughed in a stranger's face. I've no idea what he was annoyed about or even why his crumpled angry face made me laugh so much.

Very odd.

It was ever thus?


Were lads mags always rubbish or is my memory of them being witty and worth reading not quite as nostalgically rose tinted as it seems? I'm sure I used to look forward to reading the articles. I'm convinced they weren't always just soft porn. I first read about Osama Bin Laden in a lad's mag, I think it was FHM. It was an undercover report where the journalist had met with him and profiled his murderous intentions. I remember heaving with laughter at some of the captions, one about the Hulk still makes me smile: David Banner hogs the toilet while Hulk deals with a bad case of the turtle's head.

The moment when Gail Porter was splashed over the Houses of Parliament seemed to mean something when it happened back in 1999 whereas now it just looks like a tacky PR stunt. Perhaps it's just that I'm getting old. Or perhaps I'm right and there was a point when "lad's mags" were actually worth reading and not just pictures of attractive women. Not that there's anything wrong with pictures of attractive women, just that there's more to life than just that. In fact it used to annoy me when comedians such as Ben Elton would bang on about how lads mags and Baywatch were just an excuse for people to have a quick -ahem-. It's not something I've ever done, to either Baywatch or a lad's mag. I'll bet most blokes haven't either. The reason these mags aren't popular anymore is because they started to believe their own hype. They listened to their critics more than their readers. Pictures of attractive girls are fine but a few decent articles are the reason I used to part with my cash. Rant over.

Music I enjoy #2

28th April

The Beatles.

You can't avoid the fact that this group were the best band in the world. No song they recorded was without merit. Every album they released tested their audience. They never got stuck in a rut. So much so that there really is no such thing as a Beatles style song. They spanned all the genres of pop music you can think of and even helped to invent and refine new ones, the true hallmark of genius.

A blog entry like this is slightly redundant in that there will be no one reading it who hasn't listened to The Beatles. However, I would argue that some people might have listened to them without actually 'hearing' them. Those are the people currently rolling their eyes and thinking that I don't know what I'm on about when I write about music. If you're one of their number, mark these words: you'll change your mind and have your Beatles click point. It'll come randomly in the future and when it does you'll ring me and apologise for ever doubting those four young lads from Liverpool.

Start with The White album, then go on to Abbey Road and after that give Sgt Peppers a go.

NM

Putting a brave, moist, face on things

My increasingly pathetic attempts to self groom have led to me buying some exfoliater and moisturiser for my fat face. I picked up two bottles in Waitrose, the posh shop. They’re clearly marketed at people like me, they’ve got a picture of a bulldog on the front just to make sure I don’t feel like I’m being a big girl. I found this strangely reassuring even though I don’t think of myself as being too susceptible to advertising.

After my first usage I can report that my face looks and feels no different. Just as bloated and blotchy as usual.

NM

Music I enjoy #1

Neil Young

When you present a music radio show you get a little jaded in your tastes and, for me at least, some of the fun of music starts to evaporate. Now I’m presenting an all speech radio show I feel I can enjoy it again. As a result I’m revisiting a lot of old CDs and returning to sonic worlds I’d neglected during my time on the heavy metal station I used to work at.

I recently watched the BBC documentary “Don’t Be Denied” (on my iPlayer) which depicts the musical life of Neil Young. Neil is a favourite of mine. In fact he’s a member of the big three: Floyd, Beatles, Neil. The odd thing about him is that in my subconscious mind he’s a personal friend. He pops round my house and sings a few songs every now and then.

Fortunately I’m not insane so I sort of understand that he’s not actually someone I know but, in the event that he actually did drop in round my house, I really don’t think I’d react with surprise. I’d just have my subconscious saying “see, I told you so, he’s an old mate. Now put the kettle on and go get the guitar”.

The most common error when you tell people you dig the Young is for them to think you’re talking about cheesy funster Neil Diamond. The second most common error people make is to think Neil is “vocally challenged” and has a rubbish high pitched voice. The third is to ask me to play them a few of his tunes. This last one is an error because I own hours and hours of Neil’s music. In fact I own almost all of it. He’s not perfect, some of the stuff he’s put out is truly awful, but I’d keep playing you tunes until you accepted that Neil is one of your favourite rockstars. In fact it could all get a bit hostage on your sorry ass.

Better late than never

April 25th

I am loving this iPlayer thingy. You can download TV shows and watch them anywhere and anywhen. I understand that it's not a new thing but I usually come to technology a few years late. That way it has had all the niggling rubbish design flaws ironed out by the time I come to using it. The iPlayer works like a dream. However, it and the Sky plus box are turning me into a real cabbage potato.

I'm watching more TV now than I ever thought possible. Can't be doing me any good.

Arguing with Buddhist monks

Currently I am attending some classes at my local Buddhist temple. I'm a fan of meditation and enjoy hooking up with others and doing it in a group. The added bonus of short discussions about Buddhism is too much to resist. The only problem is that my naturally contrary nature keeps exerting itself during the questions section. For example, this time the Monk was talking about how anger is bad because it causes people to lose focus. This loss of focus means we see people as 100% bad when in reality they have good points as well as negatives.

This confused me. I don't usually get angry much but I'm not sure it's right to say that anger is always bad. Sometimes it's a good thing. Obviously spitting rage kettle-manic troll type anger isn't good. But 'bit miffed' can sometimes lead to you taking positive action to sort a situation out. I suggested that by directing anger at anger the Monk had lost focus and missed the good points about it. It's not 100% bad. Just maybe 60-80% bad.

This led to a long conversation which ended with her telling me that Buddha once killed someone!

I've googled this incident and it turns out that the mudering Buddha was a re-incarnation of the original one. So, y'know, it wasn't actually him. This is where the conversation sort of naturally finished as the monk explained that I don't understand karma yet so perhaps I should come back next week.

NM

The last laugh

23rd April

Mark Thomas wins £1,200 payout from the Police.

Mark Thomas is a brilliant comedian. Despite me no longer feeling like a lefty at one of his gigs a couple of years ago I still have a lot of time for him. It's odd how true the old cliche about becoming more rightwing the older you get is. There's a quote which is attributed to Churchill that runs like this; "If you are young and not liberal, then you have no heart; but if you are old and not conservative, then you have no brain".

I've quivered a little during this election campaign. For a brief moment I was toying with a vote for the Liberals but now I've remembered I don't like any of them so am going to stick with "NONE OF THE ABOVE". Doing the show is driving me up the wall at the moment. You're not allowed to show political bias without clear balance so it cuts off a lot of potential topics for me. Despite the fact I'm not going to vote.

NM

And now with wings...

I've never understood the big fuss over designer babies. I'd be well up for that in the event that me and the lady decided to spawn. People who think it's a bad idea never really seem to draw out a convincing argument. Why not grab hold of the evolutionary steering wheel with both hands and ride this cheeky mother to the end?

In fact I'd look into the idea of wings. What self respecting child would not want a big pair of wings sprouting from their shoulder blades? Certainly no child of mine would baulk at such a gift. They'd also get gills and self cleaning ears. No syringe business for them to deal with.

And night vision. I'd have that too.

Now, what ethical arguments can possibly get in the way of all those perfectly possible improvements? As far as I'm aware it usually boils down to "oh, Hitler would have liked designer babies," and, "but what about the ones who get born wrong?". Well, firstly Hitler was an evil bloke no doubt about that. However just because he liked something doesn't make it therefore evil. I'd be prepared to bet that he liked Jam. Doesn't make jam evil. Secondly this business of what do we do with the freaky ones who get born pre-perfection is simple. They get raised and live just like we did.

Call the U.N. I've sorted it all out. Designer babies give you wings.

NM

Influences upon my mind #1

Bill Hicks

Or to give him his full and correct title;
William Hicks, unwilling Erisian Prophet, willing swallower of dose heroic and invocator of the pan-demos ‘Goat Boy’.

Back in the days before the internets friends of mine would swap tapes of comedians. There was a bloke called Dennis Leary who did one called “No cure for cancer”. In it he donned the persona of an tough no nonsense ‘tell it like it is’ type of guy. At first we didn’t realise that the material he was doing was exactly copied, at points word for word, from the act of a genuinely subversive voice, Bill Hicks.

I remember a slightly cooler member of our social circle introduced me to Hicks’s material with the sort of arrogance you can only have when you realise someone is a fan of Dennis Leary but has never heard of his superior muse.

The first time I heard him it was a shock to realise that there was someone who had such a similar perspective on life to me. His talent, I think, is to say all the things his audience had thought themselves but had never quite managed to articulate. If Hicks’s material is shocking that’s where the current lies.

There’s a film of his life coming out soon, I watched a trailer for it recently in a little independent theatre me and my girlfriend sometimes go to. Bearing in mind how closely I agree with him, it was weird to recall how genuinely subversive his ideas are and to hear a few gasps in the audience alongside the laughs.

The tricky thing with someone like Bill Hicks is that over the years I’ve watched his material so often it has become part of my soul. I lose track of where his opinions begin and mine end. Robert Anton Wilson believed that was how reincarnation worked. You absorb the ideas of people who are no longer around and then to give voice to them to your contemporaries.

I guess that’s the point of this blog entry. Go google him and watch his work for yourself. Then pass it on. I’ll review the film of his life here once I’ve seen it.

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