Mmm. Not crunchy

For the first time since getting back from Graspop, I’ve been able to dig out a bogie and chomp on it without it crunching. I have finally gotten all the sodding dust out of my nostrils.

Time for a slimey green snack.

Scotland, I salute you

As well as giving is the Beano and Dandy, managing to devolve itself to maintain a national identity and have proper 24/7 shopping, as of March 2006 Scotland is pretty much a public no smoking zone.

Utterly, utterly fantastic. I just wish our weak-willed, money-led, pathetic so-called “government” would do some fucking governing rather than taking baby steps in matters like this.

You know, I love my country. I’m English, even if my family is 1/4 Welsh and 3/4 Scots. I was born on Tyneside and I’m bloody proud of where I was born and raised. Still, between the moves Scotland is making towards a positive, healthy future and the wonderful time I had recently in Europe I’m seriously thinking about the viability of moving.

I probably won’t, but just the fact that I’m even considering it says how much I think this country (England) is going down the shitter. Thanks a fucking bunch, Blair. Thank fuck we know you won’t be running next time, at least.

Spam this

Oh dear. I got a spam today. From someone stupid enough to leave their name and phone number on it. Oh dear, oh dear. “Promote Moshville in Sunday Telegraph Magazine Midsummer issues” it proclaims. “Why the fuck would I want to do that?” I wonder. The email address they’ve leached is off the front page of this site. Go have a look at it – it’s an obviously out-of-date studenty home page.

Anyway, I called him. I have witnesses if you don’t believe me. He’s called Adam White, he works for WebWindows and he’s on 0207 649 9712. I’m sure he’ll be happy to talkto you, too. All of you. One after another. Day after day.

First I asked what the charges were. Around £495 for a certain column size and a circulation of 1.5 million which, he assured me, is very good value. So… what kind of business was my site related to?

“Well, actually, it’s a 4-year out-of-date personal home page. Is that the sort of thing Telegraph readers are after these days?”

This seemed to surprise him. He giggled. Well, he guffawed a bit. You know the kind of laugh someone gives when they think they’re being wound up.

“Can I ask where you got my email address from?”

“Well, we have a team of researchers upstairs who’s job it is to scan the web for sites based on certain topics and themes…”

“Right, so the Sunday Telegraph readership currently has a high demographic interested in looking at personal pages that haven’t been updated in four years?”

“Well, sometimes sites slip through…”

“Sometimes? Slip through? I own four domain names. Every one of them has received a form email from you, exactly the same with no change other than the domain name. One of these is a blank page with ‘under construction’ on it. I think your researchers need to start reading dictionaries instead of domain lists. Perhaps they’re not sure of the definition of ‘research'”

“Erm… if you give me those domain names, I’m sure we can…”

“No. You’ve already got them. I’m not giving you them again so you can add me to more spam lists. I’m not stupid. I never click on the ‘unsubscribe’ links either because they only prove that the email addresses are valid so people like you can hammer me with more crap, like pills to make my nob bigger. No, what I suggest is you take your entire list and wipe it, then start again with new staff. Or buy a different spam list, which is more likely what you’ve done. Or maybe your so-called researchers are actually a bunch of PCs running robots that just harvest email addresses from web pages?”

“I’ll see what we can…”

“Actually, I’ve got your office address as well. I know. Next time I’m in London, I’ll pop by shall I? Sit in your lobby and drink coffee. After all, it’s only your time and money I’ll be wasting. I’m sure you have plenty of both – you certainly seem to think I do.”

“Yes, well, thank you…”

“Don’t thank me. Just stop spamming people. You’re up there with the other morons trying to convince me they can cure cancer. Goodbye. Tosser.”

*click*

Allen then asked me that, if I was in that mood, could I please call up Dilbert.com and complain that their servers are running too slow. Anyone got their number?

The Graspop diaries

Thursday

Woo, what a trip. OK, I’m sure Dawn’ll correct me if I miss anything out so I’ll ramble on about how good it was and how it wasn’t flooded out like Glastonbury and stuff.

It’s quite a drive down to Dawn’s and I was late setting off (for a change – utterly unlike me). Thank feck I went down the A1 rather than using the motorways as they were shafted, from what I could gather. A quick cuppa, some more head-shaving (got to have stripes for a festival) and then on to Stansted.

The flight to Eindhoven is a fairly short one – less than an hour from takeoff to setdown. The weather in Holland was still ludicrously warm and we sweltered our way to the hotel. Eventually. As tour guide, I opted to take the scenic route and meet the locals on the way. I thought this was a more enjoyable way to familiarise ourselves with the country and settle in than just, I don’t know, walking directly there. Dawn says we “got lost and had to ask for directions”. Don’t listen to her.

There were no shops or anything in the immediate area, so another stroll was in order. The nearest shop turned out to be a Shell garage maybe 2 miles down the road, which we reached while dodging a plethora of cyclists. It’s not a stereotype when people say Holland’s flat. It flipping is, and as a result there are a lot of cyclists. This is great if you’re an environmentalist, but shit-scary if you’re a pedestrian and can’t hear them coming up behind you. However, they always either gave us a wide berth or tinkled their bell. Even the motorists gave way to us at crossings.

A couple of beers were had at the hotel (nice and cold they were, too) and then our exhausted legs were given a breather for a few hours when we crashed out.

Friday

The morning was a bit of a rush as we had to ensure we were at the airport by 9:30 for the shuttle bus to the festival. If all else failed, we had the public transport route planned, but this was easier and cheaper. 10 Euros, one bus, return trip. It wasn’t difficult to see where to wait. Eindhoven Airport is rather small and there was a large congregation of long-haired black-t-shirt-wearing people near the bus stop. We joined them and waited.

And waited.

And a bit more.

The bus which would “leave on time!!!” according to the tickets turned up at 10:20, and left at 10:40. We could have actually finished breakfast at the hotel. Dawn was already struggling as she’d only had half her morning coffee. Diddums.

The coach journey was only an hour or so, and shortly we were unloading again, wandering down a dusty passageway along the side of a building and into a field with barricades at one end. Here we remained for almost an hour, moving forward excrutiatingly slowly. Depending on which queue you ended up in, either your rucksack was searched thoroughly or someone just asked you if you had any gas canisters and took them off you (unusual as it was stated on the forum that these small canisters were allowed). Obviously, this searching really slowed things down. The temperatures were in the mid-30’s and the crowd over at one side were being sprayed with a hose (lucky sods), but we were through!

And into another queue. For another 45 minutes as they exchanged tickets for wristbands. But, eventually, we got through that lot as well and into the campsite proper. After a bit of a wander, we located somewhere and pitched up. Then blew up the inflata-bed. Then collapsed in the overwhelming heat.

Sustenance was required, as was locating the actual festival park. Unusually, you have to leave one field via a public road and enter another one a short distance away. The locals had taken full advantage of this and most had opened their gardens up (at a small charge) as mini bars with moderately priced drinks and cold hoses to spray water on you. What a great idea! Over here, locals tend to just moan about the traffic problems, litter, noise and so on. Stuff that – take advantage! Join in!

After a stop for some water (and beer), we followed the road round to the festival site proper. A quick argument with a security guard (“it is not a professional camera! Claim that to a proper photographer and he’ll laugh at you!”) and we were in. The first thing is that Graspop is a lot smaller than Download, Leeds/Reading and so on though it is plenty big enough. There’s a market, a “Metal Dome” tent (upcoming bands and DJs), two marquees, a main stage and all the usual concession stands and stuff. End to end, I’d put it at around 1/3 the size of this year’s Download. The scheduling of bands, though, is slightly different. With the exception of the Friday where the Metal Dome was being used for acts, there were no bands in any of the tents when someone was on the main stage. This meant, at worst, you only had to choose between two acts if things clashed. The sound quality on all four stages was great, on the whole. Someone forgot to switch Bruce’s mike on at the start of the Maiden set on Sunday!

The food was the usual sort of fare, and drinks were lovely and cold. After a good hard mosh, ice cold Coke tastes a million times better than at any other time ever. The first band I was really bothered with were Papa Roach and they played a slightly different set to that at Download (no “Scars” – Wah!), by the end of which I was as dust-covered as I had been two weeks earlier. And a lot hotter.

Over the day, we also caught Madball, H20 (who I’m looking out for now), Within Temptation (surprisingly good and a great stage show), Megadeth and Alter Bridge. Headliners on the main stage were System Of A Down, who pretty much played the same set as at Download, finishing around 1am. Kreator went on to headline of the marquees, not leaving stage till after 2! British festivals usually have a curfew of 11pm for, I presume, noise reasons. Not so here, where the Metal Dome went on into the early hours as well.

The tent was like a flipping sauna when we got back, though exhaustion set in quite quickly. We did take a trip to the shower tent, but this had closed for the day so we just used to the “troughs” in the washtent to clean everywhere. It’s a weird experience brushing your teeth and being careful where you spit in case you gob froth down someone’s foot. It looked like it might chuck rain down as there was very frequent lightning, but no accompanying thunder. Looks like it was just showing off about what it had done at Glastonbury.

Saturday

I think we were up and about not long after 10 the next morning. Again, it was too hot to sleep in! Saturday was slightly overcast, though, which was good news for my sunburn.

There was a breakfast tent on site which did various simple meals so we headed there after washing up. The bacon was a bit weird – it was in little “bits” rather than slices, but hungry people can’t be choosers so I whacked it in a roll and munched it down. Copious amounts of water followed as it was in free supply on the campsite. No such luck at the festival end – no bottles could be taken in, and there was nowhere to fill them up anyway. The only flowing water was in the toilet area and that wasn’t drinking water. Oh, while mentioning the toilets… wow. Comfy, water-flushing, well-lit, fully stocked with loo roll, clean. Amazing. Best loos ever at a festival. Partly the initial quality and partly the fact that wankers didn’t try and smash them up over the weekend as would be the case in the UK.

Saturday was a little busier bandwise. Soilwork, Sick Of It All, Pro-Pain, Hatebreed, Anthrax, Slayer and Slipknot were all on my “to see” list, though we also caught Peter Pan Speedrock (their German cover of Ace of Spades is superb), Accept (good grief – they’re like Priest fronted by a screaming German dwarf), Kamelot (not my thing), and Epica (fit lead singer). Slayer’s crowd was huge. I’ve never seen them play to so many people, though this was probably expected by the way people wearing their shirts outnumbered just about everyone else short of Maiden. We weren’t too far back, and the crowd was right up to the food vans on all sides. I’d honestly say Slipknot had a smaller crowd.

Anthrax were amazing, and I think Dawn’s favourite band of the weekend. They played a marginally longer set than at Download, including a short burst of Pantera’s A New Level before leaving the stage far, far too early. I rather enjoyed Soilwork – think I’ll have to get some of their older stuff as I only have the current album. Fingers crossed they reach the UK sometime soon.

Between bands, we rested in the beer tent for a bit. Basically a huge hall with benches. And mad Dutch people racing wheelie bins up and down (sometimes with people in them), much to the annoyance of the cleaning staff.

The cooler weather made sleep a little easier, too. The guy deciding to sit outside our tent with his radio on full tilt, however, didn’t. Hey ho.

Sunday

Sunday was “lie in” day as there wasn’t too much on the bill we were bothered about – predominantly just Nuclear Assault in the late afternoon and Iron Maiden closing things off late in the evening. As such, we decided to take a walk into Dessel itself. Well, it was a nice day for it. There wasn’t much to see (some houses, nice pubs and a shop) but it made for a pleasant plod before we headed festival-wise and caught Nuclear Assault.

Amazingly, I still remembered half their material despite not having heard it in years. Hey, they did Hang The Pope, so I was happy. I’ve still not figured out what all this “White Toyota” crap was that the singer kept going on about…

Lazing around on the grass, we also caught. Dio (OK), Dream Theatre (yawn), and Yngwie Malmsteen (twat – why have one note when you can fit in 73? widdle-widdle-widdle-WANK). I also read virtually the entire book that Anni had loaned me.

All praise be to Iron Maiden, however. With a set based firmly on the first four albums, a simple yet effective stageshow, a crowd who knew virtually every word, news of a new album and tour in 2006 and a cracking fireworks display to end it I was – for those 90-or-so minutes – damn proud to be English. OK, our festivals have crappier toilets and worse weather, but our bands know how to fucking rock!

A moderately early night was had (the coach left at 11:00 prompt the next morning – apparently) in another sweatbath.

Monday

On Monday, my NUFC shirt was officially retired. Much as I love it, I wasn’t going to be able to sit next to someone on an aeroplane wearing it because it kind of minged by then. Tents were packed, food eaten and grass sat on as we waited for our bus.

And waited.

And a bit more.

Sensing a theme here? The people round us were just as restless as 11:00 came and went. Someone asked the police – the only buses they knew of were the shuttle buses to Mol which left from the festival entrance, not the campsite. I ran down and in the distance could see two coaches that looked like the ones from the airport – parked about 1000 yards down the road from where we’d originally been dropped off. Arse. By the time I’d run back and told the 20+ people waiting, the coaches had buggered off. Not good.

Well, we’ve all heard how good European public transport is meant to be, so we went for it. Free bus to Mol. Train from Mol to the outskirts of Lommel, with a break for lunch. Minibus from there to Lommel proper, and a coach into Eindhoven where we picked up the airport service (after stopping for a wander). Total cost was around £6, with the majority of that being the coach to the airport. The coaches and train were spotless. The staff were, without exception, massively helpful (and spoke English, apart from one old guy at Lommel). The minibus driver squeezed two people on that he shouldn’t have so we wouldn’t be split up, and then phoned up the coach ahead as we’d normally have missed it and had an hour’s wait for the next one. The coach waited for us and not one of the passengers complained.

Un-bloody-real. And utterly fantastic. A real eye-opener. I don’t use public transport in this country because it’s overpriced, overcrowded, slow, unreliable, difficult to get information on, inconvenient and generally just a complete fucking mess. A short hop over the sea and you get a system that runs like clockwork and at a realistic price.

Another thing I didn’t see much of was overweight people. Again, back to the bikes I think. At Eindhoven station, there were literally hundreds of bikes in the cycle racks – and barely 10% of them were locked up. The streets were clean, cyclists well catered for, food and drinks cheap, people amazingly friendly and helpful…

Here’s my resolution. I intend to go back next year, only by then I’m going to know enough Dutch to get around. Not much – I’m realistic and crap at languages – but I’ll be able to order my beers, food, travel tickets and so on without resorting to English. Amazingly, my GCSE French came in useful at one point (that was so well worth the two years I spent on it…), but given how utterly wonderful the Dutch (and north Belgian) people were to us, I think it only fair that I should make the effort.

Oh, and in case you’re reading Andy – the chicks were hot. Damn hot. You can take all your trendy women and chuck them. No matter where you go in the world, rock chicks are by far the fittest. There’s no better way to spend a lazy afternoon than lying flat on your back on foreign soil, decent music blaring from a stage nearby while your mirrored shades let you gaze happily up the short skirts that float past.

What an utterly great weekend. And thanks to Dawn for being mental enough to go with me and not kill me at any point. Bruce’s slime is in the post!

It’s (not) good to be back

OK, you all missed me. That’s understandable. I’d miss me as well. Full details of the weekends escapades will be on this blog tomorrow (world exclusive and all that). Partly as I’m knackered and partly as it’ll give me something to do in the office for half an hour or so.

One thing I will say is how damn impressed I am with the Dutch and Belgians, in particular their transport system and employees. Oh, and their amazingly courteous drivers. I spent the usual few days over there not knowing which way to look when crossing the road to have drivers wave me over and give me right of way everywhere.

In contrast, I’d been back in the country less than 24 hours when some cunt drove straight through a zebra crossing at Morrisons and almost ran me over. I am going to start wearing my steelies more often. I think I hurt my foot more then his tyre.

I shall head for bed now. Apologies for a short post, but I got to bed at around 3:30 this morning, and have been up since just after nine. Partially courtesy of KK, predominantly courtesy of the fucking disco next door.

Oh, it’s so good to be home.

Byeeeee (again)

GMM 10th Anniversary Ticket
GMM 10th Anniversary Ticket

Well, folks, this is your lot for a few days. Tomorrow morning, I drive down to Dawn’s and we panic trying to figure out how to split no more than 30kg of camping equipment and strong alcohol between us (silly Ryanair luggage limits). Then, off to Belgium via Holland.

I’ll try to convince her that it’s important I get back in one piece. Mainly because I’ll be the one driving us home from the airport. I’ve been checking the insurance policy and it excludes “claims arising from any activity which requires a degree of skill or involves a greater risk”. Does this include moshing? If anyone asks, I fell down some stairs…

Coursework 1 is almost done. Work’s dead today, so I’ve been pulling together most of the stuff I have to do and, when it’s all in one place, it’s not that much. I’ll panic over the maths when I return.

Gym at 12:00, lunch straight after, head for site at 1:30 and – if I’m lucky – home a little early depending on how things go there. Holiday is so close!

Before any of you ask, no you can’t have a postcard. 1) I’ll be on a campsite. 2) the last time I was on hols and sent postcards, two out of the 18 I posted actually arrived. You can, however, sit in your offices and homes and wish you were there with me. That is allowed.

Clippings

Don’t you hate it when you’ve just clipped your fingernails, they’re all lovely and neat… and then you realise you can’t reach that huge crusty snotter right at the back of your nose? Your finger just seems to glide over the top, pushing it deeper and liquefying is so it either goes down the back way or mushes up and makes a mess of your hanky.

Just me, eh?

Leave them alone!!!

There’s a story on BBC News today about a former prostitute being stripped of her earnings. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve never used a prostitute, nor do I think I ever will.

However, why on earth can’t they do their job and be left in peace? This girl came over here as a kid, set herself up and bought a flat with nearly a £500,000 deposit. In cash. She went on to set up “escort” services employing at least 45 other women at one time. They reckon she’s got upwards of £1.2 million stashed away that they’re going to try and get back.

Now… why? My only quibble (assuming the girls themselves made a decent living and were safe) is that she might not have paid tax. Thing is, if she did they’d be asking where she got the money from.

Will someone explain why prostitution is such a difficult job to have? As far as I’m aware, being a prostitute in and of itself is not illegal. It’s a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body, and if a man (or another woman) wants to pay to make use of those services then so what?

The thing is, everything surrounding prostitution is illegal. Kerb crawling. Soliciting (i.e. advertising). Living off immoral earnings (so if you’re out of work and your partner earns a living on her back, you can’t live off them or you are in trouble). Running a brothel.

The last one’s ludicrous. A “brothel” is described as any premises where more than one prostitute works. Prostitution is not a safe job, and this stupid rule prevents “safety in numbers”.

When the hell will the UK wake up and realise that a legalised, taxed and certified prostitution business (like that in some continental countries) will reduce drug problems, STDs, violence towards women and have the added bonus of bringing in some income to the treasury and reducing the load on our police and courts?

Bollocks to it. I’m off somewhere foreign. If only for a few days.

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Counting down now

Not long to go before Graspop now. Got the tickets, flights, insurance, car parking, coach bookings and hotel (one night only) sorted. Tent borrowed (thanks, Caz!), rucksack dusted off, camera charged up, currency converted.

OOOOOOOHHHH, roll on Thursday.

Kitty fiddling

Sharon popped round earlier. Her shower is shafted at the moment (retiling going on courtesy of one of her neighbours) so I let her borrow mine. She’d just been shopping in Meadowhall and decided to try on one of her new frocks. I was tapping away on here when I heard screams from my bedroom. Unusual when I’m not in there as well.

“Get off!”

Still unusual when I’m not in there.

“OW! OOOWWW! YOU BUGGER!”

Sharon’s new top has “laces” that you need to tie up round the back. Thing is, doing this means jiggling bits of string. Near my cat.

*pounce*

By the time I ran in, KK had one set of claws in the string and another holding her weight as she dangled off Sharon’s arse. Now that must have hurt.

Fore!

I was seeing Sharon out to her car, watching KK go mental chasing moths in the street, when I spotted a tennis ball on my lawn. Cool. Late at night, nobody around. That means it’s mine.

With perfect accuracy, I lofted it, pivoted and welted it with the curve of my foot. I have no idea where it went. Predominantly as I was too busy watching my right slipper tumble and arc away over my car and into deep grass and utter blackness.

Shit.

Cue me hopping around like a twat trying to locate my slipper while Sharon took the piss. Cheers for that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have got to get this coursework done.