Mudfest

For me 2012 will be remembered as The Year of The Mudfest. The year when Glastonbury took a sabbatical and every other festival got swamped in the disparate deluge instead. Parklife became Swamplife, Cocoon in The Park became Marooned in the Mud, the Isle of White Festival may as well have been held in Atlantis, even the Grand Prix at Silverstone struggled to stop it’s car park sinking. Whilst flip flops were still de rigueur around the beach parties and mega raves on the continent, the festival fashion accessory of the year in Britain this summer has definately been the welly.

The weather in England is not one of the nations best features and British summer’s are rarely that great. But this year Old Blighty has surpassed itself and served up the mother of all shit summers. The summer of 2012 has got to be one of the worst ever; it’s definately the worst I can remember. The rain came down and just kept on coming and coming. Day after day, week after week, in biblical buzz-killing proportions. It was like Margaret Thatcher rose up into the heavens, dropped her bloomers and just let flow from the clouds, pissing on the bonfires and raining on the parades of every fun loving soul in England just to spite the Queen on her jubilee year. Well you know what; Her Majesty literally descended from the heavens accompanied by 007 for the Olympics, and despite the shit weather and shit economy the whole nation partied anyway so f**k you.

Say what you want about the British, you have to admire our capacity to maintain the party spirit even in the harshest of conditions. And whilst our weather can be depressingly awful, somehow it comes up trumps for the big events – Wimbledon survived this year, the Olympics opening ceremony and outdoor events have all been rain free (for now), the rain even held off in rainy Manchester for the first night of the Stone Roses reunion gig  and for two whole weeks in 2002 when we hosted the Commonwealth Games (although it came down with a vengeance for the closing ceremony)!

Some of the sights I’ve seen this year in festival photos would be enough to make lesser nations think that everyone in the UK had truly gone insane; people up to their knees in mud – but still dancing; people sliding through murky brown sludge – but still smiling; people pelted by rainfall – but still drinking! I’m suprised there hasn’t been an epidemic of foot and mouth disease, I really am. I don’t know how many of these crazy bastards just put on a brave face because they’d already paid for their tickets and rip-off booking fee and had no choice but to go whatever the weather, or how many of them were simply out of their mind on drugs and alcohol, all I can say to my fellow fun loving Islanders – I salute you for making the effort, I really do. And if the Gods are kind and just, next summer will be an absolute scorcher, booking fees will be outlawed, and the news about the untimely death of David Guetta in a car accident will turn out not to be a hoax.

Celebrity Endorsement and Lie Style Advertising

By definition we celebrate our celebrities. We worship at the altars of their microphones, football boots, cinema screens – or in the case of talentless media candy like Katy Price, Kim Kardashian and that dumb chick from that program about stupid people from Essex – their tits, ass, fake tan and vajazzel. In return for our worship we expect our celebs to continue to regale us with their God given talents – or at least get their tits out. It’s a simple trade off for the most part – we part with our money and senses, they part with their privacy and often their dignity. They get paid lots of money for their part of the deal and there is a tacit understanding between fans and celebs that as long as they remain famous we will faithfully adore them. But then, as if they’re not earning enough money already, greed raises its ugly head as it usually does, and they lead us down the garden path of product endorsement.

So we worship at the feet of our popular icons and they reward our loyalty by betraying us and trying to convince us to buy some shit that they probably don’t even use; ain’t that grand? Of course when I say ‘we’ and ‘us’ I actually mean the rest of the general public – I’m just trying to be polite. I’d hate to think that I purchased some product or service because some famous person smiled on a poster or read from an autocue. I would feel like I right gullible fool, because not only should I know better, I actually do. But it seems that millions of us… you, don’t. And that’s what the advertisers bank on, and it works. You hear the Pied Pipers tune of celebrity endorsement and you dance along to it like subordinate children.

Of course it all depends on what the celebrity is endorsing. Glamorous film stars and style icons suit the glamorous products and brands they endorse – Omega, Rolex, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel – you can be forgiven for believing that the rich and famous use these expensive brands. But do you really believe it when you see Cristiano Ronaldo – one of the highest paid footballers in the world and the vainest sportsman on the planet – driving a Suzuki Swift? You know he wasn’t sporting that car around the streets of Cheshire and Alderley Edge when he was playing for Manchester United.

In the case of sportsmen and women it isn’t too bad for the most part. If a footballer, tennis player or athlete is endorsing the sporting products they actually perform in, then that’s fair enough. But then you see a top class athlete endorsing a fizzy drink or fast food snack and you just know that they’re only doing it for the money.

One of the biggest London Olympics sponsors is MacDonalds. Now does anyone believe that all those sublime Olympic athletes got to the top of their game on a fillet of fish and a Big Mac every day? And what about Ronaldinho and his cola? Do you think a guy who has been voted world footballer of the year twice and is a legend even in the legend-laden history of Brazilian football, would have achieved so much drinking carbonated sugar all day? Did you go out and buy Coca Cola because you believed that it was Ronaldinho’s favourite beverage? Did you, I mean really? I mean I’m not saying the guy doesn’t like a Coke every now and then, or that he took the Pepsi challenge and made a conscious decision to change his choice of beverage (a change that allegedly lost him a £500,000 sponsorship deal) I’m just saying that you have to be some kind of tool… sorry… some kind of fool to change your taste in cola because a famous person drinks something different. But people do. They really do.

I remember when multi-millionaire pop star, sex symbol and Hollywood actor Justin Timberlake was ‘lovin’ it’ for Maccy D’s. Did you really believe that he was lovin’ his burger, shake and fries that much, or do you think it was the six figure endorsement fee? I mean can you see old Trousersnake having those moves if he ate fast food all day? Do you think he wined and dined the likes of Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel in the VIP booth at McD’s off Hollywood boulevard? Of course not. That special treat was reserved for Britney Spears and look what happened there. No; the only celebrity fit to endorse junk food is Elvis.

To tell the truth, if I was a celebrity and some corporation wanted to pay me millions for endorsing their car or carbonated drink I wouldn’t say no. Not because I’m a hypocrite, but because if somebody is damn fool enough to see somebody famous eating, drinking or driving something and then go and copy them, then they deserve to be duped. They say there’s one born every minute, which adds up to a lot of profit for the celebrity endorsers. If all those minute idiots want to eat or drink themselves into an early grave then who am I to argue with the principle of Natural Selection.

 A Letter to Arsene Wenger

Looking to the past – Arsene Wenger is yesterdays man.

Dear Mr. Wenger

Being a City fan I would like to thank you. For many years whilst watching our boys in blue plummet towards the depths of the old Second Division, the only footballing beauty I derived from the domestic league was watching teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle and of course your Arsenal. As a Mancunian I could never openly support a team from London, and I shamefully admit to claiming a geographical pride in the achievements of the Salford Reds. But during those epic Arsenal vs United games in the early Noughties I was rooting for you and your French wonderkid’s Arsene, I really was. You built a squad around one of the best defences in the Premiership in Winterburn, Dixon, Adams and Keown, adding half of the World and European cup winning French team to that steely foundation to create a squad of sheer class that mastered the art of The Beautiful Game to perfection. But now the memory of Henry, Viera, Pires, Bergkamp and the Invincibles of the 2003/4 season seem a long way off don’t they?

Many of my Gooner friends are now starting to ‘feel the blues’ – an expression that resonates painfully with me as a Blue when you consider what City fans endured during the 80’s and 90’s. Nobody should suffer that kind of footballing indignity – and to be fair Arsenal are a long way off from that degree of abject failure. But Arsene – the honeymoon’s over, the 7 year itch has turned into a rash and now it’s time to pull out before your reputation is tainted for ever.

You came to England as an unknown. A quirk in the game. Despite the Gallic style and flare we were all familiar with, you opted for an image styled on the look of a paedophile schoolteacher. However your image marginally improved in later years as you conceded to the vanity of contact lenses, adopting a Mr. Burns appearance – that of a stubborn, miserly man with sallow skin who is forever making excuses for his shortcomings. They say never judge a book by its cover, but perhaps your insistence on wearing those creepy glasses for so long was an indicator of the stubbornness that was to come in the future.

Arsene, you have done well. You’ve established yourself as one of England’s best foreign football managers, making some inspired signings (buying Anelka for £500k, selling him for £22.5million and getting Henry for £11million has to be the deal of the century) and becoming an Arsenal legend along the way. But now I think your ego has taken over. I think you are obsessed with building a team from scratch the way Fergie has, rather than improving on what was already a solid cast like you did when you arrived at Arsenal in 96. But what you have to understand about old Bacon Face is this, whilst the French are genetically predisposed to capitulation, the British are imbued with the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’, the culture of thuggery and that most Anglo Saxon of traditions – aggression. You are no match for Sir Alex. Not only is Sir Alex British, he’s also Scottish, which is like being English with studs. The Scottish are so tough and unruly the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a wall across the whole of Scotland to keep them out. You have as much chance of surpassing Fergie’s legacy as you have at beating him in a fight, so you may as well give up now and go and manage your national team – if nothing else to maintain your own dignity. You had a great run but you are now bordering on becoming The Forgotten Man. And with our own Bobby Manc now rising to ascendancy – a man who derives from Roman stock – you are only facing many more years of nearlydom.

There’s one last think I’d like to say before I sign off; first of all I’d like to thank you for Seaman, Viera, Toure, Nasri, Clichy – even Adebayor if only for that awesome goal celebration during the 4-2 drubbing we gave you at Eastlands in 2009. It must be painful to see all this talent move up the M1 to Manchester, but that’s modern football Arsene. Money and trophies is what it’s all about for these young scamps, with their millionaire lifestyles of Range Rovers, Rolex’s and roasting. Loyalty counts for nothing unless you’re winning and/or paying – and you’re not doing either. So please, before you decide to swan off into the French sunset to manage the squabbling in the French dressing room at Brazil 2014 – will you let us have Robin Van Persie?

Kind Regards

Beasley Green

We Like To Party Hard.

I like to boogie. Everyone should. Music is food for the soul and whatever you’re into you should get into it. I’m no international jetsetter but I’ve partied in some fantastic clubs and places around the world, and been to some jawdropping venues in places as cool and diverse as Berlin, Barcelona, Marbella, Marrakesh, Rio, Rome, Amsterdam, Stockholm and of course Ibiza. Yet despite being accepted in some of the most impressive venues in the world and partying with some of the coolest people to the best Dj’s alongside some of the most beautiful South American and Eastern European prostitutes that a wealthy man’s money can buy; the only place I have ever had issues getting through the door is in England!

“This is England not Ibiza, now f**k off.”

This bizarre irony baffles me. How is it that despite being accepted at great venues with great music and beautiful people, when I’m in my own country and I go to some dive in some shitdog town filled with pissed up knobheads and overweight, trampy, women drinking alcopops, that I have to suffer the indignity of some moronic meathead questioning my attire. I’m stood outside a venue and there is a paramedic who is trying to get some sense out of a drunken inbred looking twat who’s lumpy fat skank of a girlfriend who has just been ejected from the venue, has spewed up and passed out face first onto the pavement into a pool of her own vomit – and the doormonkey is telling me that I can’t get in because I’m wearing a hat!

No trainers, no Prada, no Stone Island, no Armani, no t-shirts, no shirts, no jeans, no sportswear, no stripes (I shit you not) – you really have to hear it to believe it. You could say that this is just what to expect in a provincial small town where to ‘put a donk on it’ is the pinnacle of musical innovation, but “no stripes” came at the door of a Manchester venue that has been rated as one of the top 10 clubs in the world! Either way it’s still no excuse.

“Sorry love if you don’t put them away your gonna have to leave.”

I went to a club in a little town about an hour up the coast from Barcelona. The venue was designed like an aeroplane that had crashed into the side of the mountain it was set in. It had a long outdoor balcony that jutted out off the edge of the hillside and was full of beautiful little Spanish people. We strolled into this busy venue, unquestioned, at around 3am, paid €5 entry, sat on the balcony smoking weed and drinking large vodka red bulls, then staggered home in the early hours of the morning without getting attacked or rained on. I’ve been on nights out in England where people have ran screaming for the exits because a gun fight broke out. I’ve been to a venue where a man was sexually assaulted in the toilet. I’ve been to a venue where I watched a gang of ugly skanks beat the living shit out of some other girl with wine bottles. I’ve been to places in England where there have been mass brawls, stabbings, beatings, rapes, deaths, Premier League footballers pulling their cock out and pissing on the floor – the lot. None of these incidents were caused by someone wearing a hat or a stripey top.

Shorts, trainers, hats and even stripes! Security here is shoddy and any minute now some dancing is gonna break out

I went to a venue that was hosting a Circo Loco night in Manchester. This venue (now closed) had a reputation for not being Black-Guy friendly, but having been to the original Circo Loco at DC10 in Ibiza I was looking forward to it. The excuse for refusal of entry that my Kenyan friend and I were given was that we weren’t dressed right. I suggested that it was impossible to change the colour of your skin for a night out, which didn’t really help. However, if you have been to DC10 in Ibiza, not dressing right – not being right – is par for the course. Muscle bound ravers dressed as women and people in clown masks are just some of the acceptable outfits that are allowed. It is the sheer unbridled hedonism and joy of the music that makes the night world famous – but apparently not at Area 51.

How to party at DC10 in Ibiza – but don’t try this at home!

So you think to yourself, I’ll stay away from places like Royston Vasey and avoid the normal city centre clubs and opt for the expense and exclusivity of a Celebrity Slush Pit. But it’s an English disease I’m afraid and these ‘exclusive’ venues are not immune – and it isn’t necessarily the punters you have to be wary of. Panacea is the spot for the rich and famous in Manchester, yet a few years ago the club manager Joe Akka battered an old man outside the venue leaving him with a fist sized dent in his skull. This guy was an ex-stuntman who had survived that perilous industry all his life, but it seems going for a few drinks in England was a stunt too far.

Then there are the ‘celebrity’ punters themselves. Earlier this year The Circle Club was the scene of a brawl involving everyone’s favourite footballer El Hadj Diouf (they even hate him in his home country of Senegal and neighbouring Gambia). The Circle Club is another regular for what we now call celebrities – soap stars, footballers and… erm… reality TV people I guess. It’s actually a cool little venue with very nice doormen. But after an ‘incident’ where a man was left bleeding from the neck in the street, they now have to serve their drinks in plastic cups and stick champagne bottles firmly to tables so that they cannot be used as weapons. Classy!

I don’t know what the fuck is up with us, but it isn’t just binge drinking. Perhaps it’s just the genetic remnants of our raping and pillaging Viking ancestors, I really don’t know. So I asked an English friend of mine who has been living in various places in Europe over the last 10 years. He told me that in places like Holland, Spain and Germany there is a genuine fear of the British. The Spanish think we are “loco”, the Dutch think we are “cool” but “fucking crazy man”, the Germans just think we are shit at football, but our women are an easy lay.

Another night of fun and frolics in the UK!

I can’t say for certain that other nations don’t have weekly nightmarish scenarios played out in their bars and clubs, but I can say for certain that I never have a problem with doormen or violent, drunken idiots in those other countries. I can also say that there are some great little spots to go out in England, but you have to know where they are. In my experience, if you follow the crowd that follows the music they love and stick to those intimate little nights that have a following, you’re in relatively safe hands. Avoid anywhere that serves drinks in plastic cups, has a team of doormen at the door or pools of vomit outside. A good venue with a good crowd doesn’t need an army of sted-swallowing, UFC obsessed, pseudo-gay doormen manning the entrance. Look for two, well-built blokes, dressed in black who are smiling and enjoying their work. The other option is to get some tunes playing at one of your mates’ places, invite your friends around, get some drinks and drugs in, and enjoy good company. If you need to get laid then get on the phone to some hookers, give them some sniff and they’ll probably stay the night and do one or two of your mates for free. That’s what they do in Amsterdam anyway, but that’s another country.

Great Nights Out – Newcastle (England) or Stockholm (Sweden) – you decide.

The Large Print Giveth, But The Small Print Taketh Away.

I like words. Some would say that I just like the sound of my own voice, but I actually think I’ve got a horrible, nasal-sounding voice and most foreigners upon hearing me speak think that I come from Liverpool. But Canadians seem to love my voice though, so it’s not all bad. What I like about words is the wonderful way that, when woven together well, they can inspire, delight, inform and ignite inert passions.

Apart from occasionally having to refuse to apologise to people with a low IQ for using ’big words’, I enjoy my knowledge of words and understanding of language. However, as much as I like words and dislike the sound of my own voice, what I hate even more than when American’s bastardise (ize?) the English language then force it onto our spell checkers, is the deliberate redefining of meaning that professional liars and cheats use to completely bamboozle people.

Sometimes linguistic bamboozling happens semi-accidentally, like in football when ‘cheating’ is replaced by the term ‘simulation’, or ‘playing for it’ when pundits don’t want to offend any of their fellow professionals, so skirt around the issue that a six foot tall professional athlete dived like a little bitch even though he was hardly touched. Then there are those harmless ones which are open to interpretation, such as a ‘live’ TV recording, which isn’t exactly live as it happens because there is a delay, but it was live when it was recorded – much like the CGI scenes in Transformers or The Avengers… WHICH MEANS IT ISN’T LIVE IS IT!

I used to work with some of the least fortunate members of society, which means that a lot of them were what you could call a ‘bit thick’. Professionally we would say they have ‘ADHD’, ‘dyslexia’ or even just ‘learning difficulties’; we may even say that they have ‘issues’. But in private we used expressions like ‘that little fucking idiot’. This was really unfair in a lot of cases, because I’ve worked alongside some people who were ‘professional colleagues’ who had terms like ‘manager’, ‘executive’ and ‘officer’ attached to their working titles, and these people were well educated and particularly fortunate to be holding the position that they were in because they are what you would call ‘fucking stupid’; but that isn’t my point here. My point is the continual con of semantic trickery to which those with limited intelligence and/or weak vocabularies are subjected to on a daily basis – elderly people who’s minds aren’t that quick anymore; young people who didn’t pay attention in school; young people who did pay attention in school but went to a shit school; people who volunteer to go on The Jeremy Kyle Show’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Snog, Marry Avoid’; most professional footballers and people who do art degrees. But in honesty, we all suffer from this legally binding linguistic skulduggery.

Language mutates and evolves all the time, and this is normal, but it’s the deliberate sophistry and obfuscation that is used by politicians, ‘spin-doctors’, and particularly within corporate terms and conditions to which we legally bind ourselves by way of contractual agreement, which I utterly despise. Insurance companies are amongst the worst culprits of this semantic trickery. They’ll try anything to get out of paying up; this after all of their advertising painting a picture of them as the patron saints of payouts. I’ve had my fair share of wrangling with insurance companies and they are robbing bastards. They call it ‘the small print’, but it wouldn’t be small if they weren’t hiding it. The legal people call it ‘Legalese’; well how the fuck can it be legal and binding if it’s in Legalese and not the plain English you signed up for (twats). They blame the annual rise in premiums on bogus claims, but in reality the basis of their whole industry is a con.

“Hi there, can I interest you in my lies?”

You insure yourself against accidents, yet when you have an accident your insurance premium goes up. Ok, that’s the annual gamble you sign up for, and for the most part the insurance company takes your stake. The principal is that those thousands of unclaimed stakes that accumulate go into a big investment pot that is used to pay for those accidents when they do happen. But if I pay to have my no claims bonus protected, I am by the laws of the English language paying a fee in order to have my no claims bonus protected, right? Well apparently not. Apparently the words ‘no claims bonus protected’ don’t actually mean that once they’ve passed through the semantic meat grinder of the insurance industry.

Apparently ‘no claims bonus’ is actually a single ‘term’. It is like an apple, or a pair of jeans or a pet dog – ‘no claims bonus’ is an entity separate from the individual components or even the sum parts of what the words actually mean. The ‘terms’ – ‘no claims bonus’ and ‘no claims bonus protection’ – are additional ‘products’ you buy with your policy apparently. A ‘no claims bonus’ reduces the cost of your policy, however if you do make a claim then the value that this product takes off your policy renewal price is reduced. What your ‘no claims bonus protection’ does is reduce the amount that the ‘no claims bonus’ reduction is reduced by in the event of the claim… sorry if you are choking on your tongue or have suddenly got a headache. Suffice to say that this is utterly misleading bullshit.

When a lady from an insurance company spun this linguistic yarn I said; “You’re a lying little fucking c**t.”

The lady replied; “Sir I’m not going to tolerate that language and if you continue to be abusive I am going to terminate this call.” Taking her literally I asked.
“Are you the Arnie version from the 80’s or that 1990’s liquid metal version from T2?”
She replied, “Sir, I will end this call if you continue to use offensive language”
I asked; “What do you mean? I simply said that I was very grateful for your help and I hope you have a pleasant evening…” She interrupted before I finished.
“No you didn’t, you… you… you know what you said.”
“What did I say?” I asked
“I’m not going to repeat it.” She replied.
I said “Well I think that we must have a problem with interpretation here because when I say ‘you’re a lying little fucking c**t’ I actually mean ‘thanks for your help and I hope you have a pleasant evening” [a long pause] “Hello. Hello…”
The line was dead – or should I say ‘terminated’.

If a no claims bonus is a product, then call it something like ‘A Reducer’, or a ‘Claim Killer’ or ‘Alan’ – don’t call it a ‘no claims bonus’ because people will naturally think that you have received a bonus by way of a discount for not claiming on your insurance. Furthermore, if you have paid to have your no claims bonus protected but in reality have only paid for a product called ‘no claims protection’, then call that product something different, like ‘Super Bonus Protectorizer’ or ‘Cararmourerer’.

I had a motor insurance policy with Tesco and was unfortunate enough to crash into the back of a very expensive Aston Martin. Unlucky, but that’s the gamble the insurers take, right? Wrong; the bastards sent out an investigator then fabricated a story implicating me in some kind of scam with the driver of the Aston Martin. They didn’t even tell me that they were abandoning my claim, I only found this out when the court papers started coming directly to me with my name as the defendant.  Fortunately I’m a fairly intelligent individual and I had flexibility in my working hours, so I managed to evade a claim in excess of £28k and Tesco Insurance ultimately withdrew their withdrawal of my cover and had to pay out to the Aston Martin driver. I received a cheque of £150 for my trouble and decided from that point to tread very carefully with those tricky bastards in the finance industry. It’s a pity the government didn’t!

The moral of this blog is twofold: 1) Insurers and people in the finance industry are not to be trusted 2) Learn to understand your own language so you can recognise when it’s being used to fuck you.

Have a nice day.