- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
£1.93 an hour. That's the wage I was earning back in 1991 as a 17 year old checkout gimp at Texas Homecare Ltd, but that didn't matter to me. I was dating Tracy, the Texas Pantry babe, who was nothing special in her uniform, but was a goddess when she lost the hairnet and the frumpy apron. I had a 28" waist, went pubbing and clubbing on an almost nightly basis and yet could still wake up as fresh as a spring lamb. I went out for meals with Tracy regularly, bought loads of clothes and still had money left to start a love affair with music. That £1.93 an hour certainly went a long, long way. For me the early 90s, 1991 in particular, was a time when music of a truly atsounding quality was released not seen since the 60s. Without trying to sound like an extra from Moulin Rouge, this could be purely because I was a young man in his late teens discovering love, life, alcohol, money and freedom for the first time. But I believe that the quality of the following singles stand the test of time. I present these singles as the soundtrack to my life so far: NIRVANA - Smells Like Teen Spirit Thanks to NME and Melody Maker I was aware of an irresistable scene in Seattle, America called 'Grunge' that was growing faster than a unattended pimple on an adolescent's chin. Before bands like Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumkins went global a trio called Nirvana were cited as the pretenders to the grunge throne. Led by impossibly cool frontman Kurt Cobain there were already excited rumblings in the music press about their 1988 debut album Bleach and a series of live shows that just seemed to add to the hype. It was obvious to me after listening to Bleach, an album recorded on the Sub Pop label with a budget of $800, that Nirvana were going to be massive. They signed to American big wigs Geffen and released Smells Like Teen Spirit as a taster for their forthcoming album Nevermind. The record had such a profound effect on me that it still
grabs me in a way that only music can more than a decade after its release and countless plays afterwards. Whether it is because of the angst-fuelled lyrics, the adrenaline inducing guitar melodies or the crashing drum beats. Who cares? This was an alternative anthem for an entire generation. Quite rightly Nirvana became massive after the release of Nervermind. Kurt Cobain tragically took his own life in 1994. PRIMAL SCREAM - Movin' On Up Not the album version released on the magical, eclectic Screamadelica LP, but the one released on the Dixie-Narco EP. This little number never fails to lift me after a bad day at work. A superb marriage of uplifting lyrics, funky guitar and a genuine gospel choir, this single has it all. "I was blind, but now I see. You made a believer out of me", wails frontman Bobby Gillespie. Yeah me too, Bobby, me too. CURVE - Ten Little Girls The omens didn't look good. A band devised by the Eurhytmics' Dave Stewart comprising of one of his backing singers, Toni Halliday, who had an entirley forgettable dabble at the solo scene in the 80s and a bit part Spanish muso, Dean Garcia, with a penchant for electronic music. You would think that this band would be nothing more than a sad rich man's hobby churning out Electro-Euro crap. Which is why this debut single was such a revelation. Curve were initially fawned over in the music press and then derided for being a manufactured pop band. However, I can't imagine a manufactured pop band in 2002 releasing such a sexy beast of a single. Rumbling guitar, monster drum beats and Toni's ability to portray a vunerability and yet a inner-strength at the same time in her vocals all combine to produce a pulse-raising single. JC001's inspired rap mid-track , recorded in one take, only adds to the effect. HAPPY MONDAYS - Kinky Afro The godfathers of the Madchester scence. No matter what any of t
he other bands caught up in it all got up to, you could guarantee that the Mondays did it all first, bigger and better. Fronted by twisted genius Shaun Ryder and ably supported by bog-eyed goonball Bez, these boys took rock and roll excess to a new level. Active supporters of drug culture (Ryder, less than subtely, climbing all over a huge 'E' on the roof of a hotel in the 'Step On' video most memorably springs to mind) they seemed invincible and untouchable for a time. Inevitably it didn't last and the Monday's later efforts were half-arsed shadows of glory days gone by. Kinky Afro encapsulates all that was great about the band; lilting grooves and the seedy lyrics of a bad man behaving badly and loving every minute of it. "Son I'm 30, I only went with your mother 'cos I'm dirty", leers Ryder on the opening line of a killer tune. Classic. ORBITAL - The Box Anyone who thinks that electronic music is nothing but a random, souless collection of sounds hastily put together by some brain-dead monkeys need look no further than Orbital to have their theories blown sky high out of the water. For more than a decade now the Hartnoll brothers have produced magnificent symphonies for a new generation bored of the same old regurgitated guitar chords. If Wolfgand Amadeus had been handed a syntasiser and a pair of decks on his 3rd birthday than classical music would have sounded like this. This little gem comes from the vastly underrated In Sides album, the follow-up to the godlike Snivillisation. The Box is a beautifully structured masterpiece that starts from almost nothing into layer upon layer of intricate music that builds into a sublime crescendo. THE FRANK AND WALTERS - Fashion Crisis Hits New York Ever acted on a hunch and thanked the stars above that you did? Well that happened to me with this band. A few small mutterings in the music press brought my attention to this Irish tri
o who had recently signed to the Setana label, the same company that first saw the talent from The Divine Comedy. I made my way to the Barrel Organ in Birmingham, a now defunct tiny music venue that has been transformed into another Irish themed bar (deep joy!), and paid the grand total of £3 to watch the band. The gig blew me away and I went the very next day to scour every single underground record emporium to gather their collective works. This din't take much time as they had only released two 12" singles, EP1 and EP2. This particular track off EP2 sums up the whole Frank and Walters ethos - superb singalong harmonies and totally lunatic lyrics as demonstrated by the opening lines, "Fashion crisis hits New York. I saw a blind man he was eating his fork. He said, 'That's what you have to do to be cool, you eat your cutlery instead of your food.'" Madness and genius combined in 4 glorious minutes. NEW ORDER - Bizarre Love Triangle I discovered this band when I was given the 'value of money' lesson by the parents. In other words I was forced to get a paper round. Thanks to the invention of the Walkman, and a big sister who owned the New Order album, Substance 1987, the paper round became less of a chore and more of a weekly joy. Delivering the local rag at weekends should have only taken me 30 minutes, but I always extended it by another 10 purely to listen to this track. This single contains everything that every New Order track has, Sumner's nonsensical lyrics and Hook's killer bass lines, but there's just something about this song that grabs me. It doesn't have the mass appeal of Blue Monday or True Faith, but it always does the job. The reason for this could be because it contains my favourite ever lyric, "There's no sense in telling me, the wisdom of the fool won't set you free." I've got no idea what it means, but I'm sure there's a lesson in there som
ewhere. RADIOHEAD - Paranoid Android The Bends is one of the greatest albums ever. However, my choice has not come from this, but from the rather disappointing follow-up Ok Computer. The reason that this album is altogether a failure is because of the sheer weight of expectation generated by the previous album. This track goes someway to redress the balance. This single, the first one off the album, is a perfect marriage between Thom Yorke's tortured lyrics accompanied by mellow harmonies at the start, followed by the wall of electric guitar and feedback mid-track only to retreat back to the mellowness again at the end. The calm before the storm followed by the storm before the calm in other words. Amazing video too. THE SMITHS - There is a Light That Never Goes Out Morrissey, the unofficial Poet Laureate, penned this number alonside another 9 near-perfect tracks that makes up one of the all time greatest albums, The Queen is Dead. A love song with all the right components, There is a Light That Never Goes Out sums up the feelings that we all have for a significant other at some time in our lives. However, this is a love song with a difference as you would expect from the collective minds of Morrissey and Johnny Marr. As Johnny strums his guitar like there's no tomorrow, Morrissey wails about ten ton trucks and double decker buses not being able to break the chains of love. Depressing and inspiring at the same time. THE BEATLES - Let It Be No top ten singles compilation could be complete without a visit from messers McCartney and Lennon. Whenever my faith in music subsides, I listen to the Beatles and all becomes clear again. This is, quite simply, the most beautiful song ever written.
I am an Urbanite. Don't get me wrong I love the countryside, but there's just something about the hustle and bustle of a big city that gets me going. The bright lights, the beautiful people, pubs and clubs on every corner. I would never swap city living for an idyllic rural retreat, but listed below are a few minuses of metropolis habitation. My opinion is gleaned from years of experiences in Birmingham, but I believe the below list applies to all city centres. TALES FROM TRAMPS Whatever happened to the simple, heartfelt plea from a humble street urchin of "10p for a cup of tea guv'nor"? Did these days ever exist or have I read too many Charles Dickens novels? Depending on my mood I could either fumble for a bit of change and walk away with a warm 'Ready Brek' glow safe in the knowledge I had notched up a few brownie points for the afterlife, or shuffle on by embarrassedly pretending there was something really interesting to read on the pavement just in front of me that demanded my total attention. Now walking through my town centre without encountering a street beggar is an achievement akin to Gazza winning the Nobel Peace Prize. They are master tacticians and often hunt in packs; the way they are able to single me out, especially just after pay day, is astounding. I try all the usual diversion tactics; wearing headphones playing music louder than one of Timmy Mallet's shirts, adopting a steely gaze many miles into the distance and bounding up and down the road with my best Grant Mitchell face. But none of it works. The usual scenario; I am approached by Agent X, usually female, pitifully dressed in a mangy blanket or sleeping bag. I usually manage to skilfully sidestep this threat by sheltering behind two old ladies, slow my pace down to their pedestrian amble and then produce a gazelle-like burst of speed the other side of them to freedom! "Hee hee, take that blanket woman
", I smugly think to myself as I continue along the High Street blissfully unaware of the danger ahead. Agent X you see is merely the sheepdog to the shepherd, the lioness coaxing her pray into the death trap of males hungrily waiting to pounce for the jugular. I am then approached by said male who is eagerly eyeing up the large bulge in my jeans (yes my wallet), and all my hard work has gone to waste. "Bugger it", I think, "Well it's a fair cop, I might as well give the chap a few pennies." But, oh no, the days of handing over 20p and a pat on the back are long gone. What follows is usually a tragic, epic tale of Shakespearian proportions. "Alright mate"? says the male, "Me and the missus (pointing to Agent X) are superior beings from Planet Bramogot, and we landed in your world in search of universal peace bearing gifts of love. We find that our currency of Zaurian Yaksholts is invalid in your strange and wonderful land. Could you spare 20 of your earth pounds so we may fund our research into the threat of intergalactic warfare", etc.. At this point I feel like saying, "Yes but last week you told me you were the King and Queen of Burundi who had been kicked out of 10 Downing Street by Tony Blair after breaking wind in front of Cherie, a custom considered polite in your country", but I just don't have the strength. Instead I hand over a quid or so to our extraterrestrial friends and continue on my merry way. KEVS With apologies to any decent Kevins out there this title is just a generic term to describe the alarming mass of uneducated, anti-social, coarse, common and braindead young men on our city streets. Without trying to sound like one of the 'Bring Back National Service' brigade, I truly believe this nation is getting uglier as a whole. Every time I venture into town I am greeted by the sight of a multitude of spotty, tracksuit-wearing, jug-eared, buffoons
with dodgy haircuts and wispy moustaches sitting for hours on end with their mates, a cheap can of lager in one hand and a fag dangling out of the corner of their mouths, trying to impress a gaggle of gormless panda-eyed, bubble-permed, pasty-faced girls. The favourite haunts of Kevs are outside fish and chip shops, the local off-licence and near phone boxes. They all sport the same Kev uniform of a single earring and a meaningless tattoo on their seriously underdeveloped arms. They also like to frequent the backs of buses in great numbers and be really impressive by smoking, spitting on the floor, dropping litter and playing shite, tinny music turned up to the max on their personal stereos. Do everyone a favour Kevs; go away, grow up and get a job. PEOPLE I ENCOUNTER DURING MY LUNCH HOUR The last 2 words of the title are the important part of this section. Lunch and hour; I work for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week and, therefore, I have the need to find food during the working day and I have 60 minutes to accomplish this task. Because I am a lazy git, I can't be bothered to make myself sandwiches before I go to work and so I must brave running the gaunlet of the city centre run between my office and the local baguette shop for my lunch. The shop is only a matter of a couple of hundred metres away from my office. 60 minutes, 200 meters, one sandwich; sound simple? You should try it. 200-150 metres from shop ?Big Issue, Big Issue. Help the Homeless.? Now I have no problem giving away £1.50 once a week to the big issue seller, there but for the grace of God goes me and all that , but this particular Big Issue seller has the memory of a goldfish and forgets that I bought a copy off her just the day before. Depending on my mood I tell her I've already bought this week's edition or I am forced to take a major diversion to my snack stop. Either way that is 10 minutes wasted. 150-100 metres from the sh
op Religious nutters. I'm a tolerant guy and I believe in 'live and let live', but what I don't want is some saucer-eyed, loin-cloth wearing freakoid forcing their misguided beliefs down my throat during my crusade to the promised land of 'Baguette du Monde' (especially when the only thing I want forced down my throat is a Cheese and Spring Onion special). However, I am a sucker for a good argument and usually get embroilled in a heated discussion of why my C of E religion kicks the ass of all others. Another 15 minutes wasted. 100-50 metres away from the shop Market Research. ?Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions, won't take a minute??, enquires the young and attractive lady with the clipboard. Flattered that she should take the time to single me out from the multitudes, I agree to take part in the survey even though my stomach is as empty as a Mirror Pensioner's Bank Account. However, the couple of questions that won't take a minute turns into a total grilling on my personal, shooping and sexual habits over the last 20 years. I eventually manage to prise myself away from the mantrap after another 15 minutes of inane questions. After 40 minutes of my alloted 60 I finally manage to reach the safe haven of the baguette shop where I dicover that all that's left is a mouldy sausage roll and a pickled egg. Despite all of the above I would never swap city life for a million years. Thanks for reading.
I hate annoying people. You know what I mean; people who walk too slowly infront of you on a crowded pavement, someone who sits next to you on a train then proceeds to open up a broadsheet newspaper in your face, people who think they're naturally funny purely because they can remember every line from the 2nd series of 'The Office'. All pretty horrendous and every example a good reason why abolishing the death penalty might not have been such a good idea, but nothing incurs the wrath of the majority of British people than someone who has found a holiday cheaper than themselves. With that in mind you can imagine my trepidation as myself and my girlfriend boarded mytravel flight MYT049 from Birmingham to Gran Canaria having paid just £101 each for a return flight and a week's accommodation thanks to the auction section within mytravel's website (www.mytravel.com). Girlfriend was dead chuffed with the deal I managed to snag and wanted to broadcast this to the whole plane, but sometimes these things are best left unsaid. The website is an affiliate of Airtours and the majority of the holidays advertised in the auction section are part of their Sundeals packages which usually consist of cheap, late, but not last, minute deals to popular package holiday locations including the Med., Florida, Mexico, Jamaica etc. There is an option of searching for location, departure airport, dates of holiday, length of stay, and price range. Obviously the more flexible you are, the better deal you can get. However, I was pretty rigid in my conditions in that I wanted to fly from Birmingham to the Canaries from between the 6-8 March for 1 week and yet I still managed to get a fantastic deal. I would advise you plan in advance as much as possible when using this website, prepare for disappointment and don't get carried away! I started searching for holidays from about 6 weeks before I wanted to depart with a maximum price of £120
per person (not including booking fees, taxes and any extras) and I made several unsuccessful bids for holidays before getting this one. When you find you have been outbid by someone else then the temptation is to bid again and again (the reason the website can remain profitable), but resist that urge and stay within your agreed maximum price before you started bidding. Provided you have allowed plenty of time to bid for holidays you will get plenty more opportunities. A lot of holidays start bidding at £1 each, with bidding increments rising by £20 each time. From experience it is unrealistic to expect to pay less than £100 each for a package deal, but occassionally this does happen! Proxy bidding is a great way of ensuring that you do not get outbid without placing your maximum possible bid first. In my case when I first bid for the holiday it was only £41 each, but I informed mytravel that I was willing to pay up to £120 each should someone else subsequently bid for the holiday. Proxy bidding simply means that the website will place a bid on your behalf up to your maximum price should a counter bid come in for the same holiday from someone else. This was vital in my case as someone placed a bid of £100 each at the VERY last minute of the auction which would have meant I would have lost the bid if I hadn't had Proxy bidding. The price includes return flights and accommodation (often not allocated until arrival), but doesn't include airport transfers (about £15pp each), optional in-flight meals (about £10-£15pp each) or booking fees (about £10pp each). Girlfriend and I opted to make sandwiches and hire a car which meant that the inflight meal and transfer charges were avoided. If you choose to buy your holiday through mytravel auctions you will not get the lap of luxury - the flights are cramped, but tolerable and the accommodation is clean, but basic. If, however, you are on a really tight budget and don't fancy another wee
kend in a drab caravan park in Rhyl or you just fancy a cheap getaway before your main summer holidays you really can't get any better than this. We got flight, accommodation, car hire and insurance in a island that boasts year-round sunshine (average 28 degrees C when we were there) for £165 each. Don't you just hate annoying people?!
Goosepimples - that's what its all about. That feeling you get when your third division team beats premier league opponents, when the band you've loved for years get to number one, when the boy/girl you've been chasing for ages finally agrees to a long-awaited date. This musical provides magical moments in spades and is guaranteed to get the hairs fully erect on the back of your neck. I'm not a culture vulture by any means, but this musical gets the lump in the throat throbbing in the same way as Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption or King Lear. It is a masterpiece that shouldn't be missed by anyone. To try and condense a 3.5 hour musical in a few sentences would be futile but I'll try and give you an idea of what its all about. Our hero, Jean Valjean is presented at the start of the piece as a 'criminal' who took a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving child. He receives a 5 year sentence of hard labour for the theft and another 14 years for trying to escape from the 'chain gang'. Valjean serves his sentence and is issued with his probation order after 19 years by the chief of police Javert. Valjean desperately searches for work, but cannot get a decent day's pay as a result of his parole and decides to do a runner. The rest of the story reads like a Hollywood Blockbster or a Jilly Cooper Novel. To reveal it all would require another 5000 words and a degree in English Language and it would spoil it for you all. Suffice to say this musical has it all. There are plenty of confrontaions between Valjean and Javert, unrequited love, true love, war, death and recriminations, but also comedy and deliveration. It is both heartbreaking and life-affirming at the same time. Great tunes, fantastic lyrics and a great set. Les Mis is the Biz.
I've got to admit I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself at the moment. Thanks to a girlfriend whooping it up somewhere in Northern England with her thespian chums, a best mate commiting the cardinal sin of putting his new female squeeze before his mates and a self-imposed health kick, I find myself in the house alone on a Saturday night!! "No sweat", I naively thought to myself, "I'll get a few beers in, put my feet up and watch the various prime-time delights that ITV has to offer." On a scale of bad choices it ranks alongside Vanessa's decision to raise her public credibility by appearing on Celebrity Big Brother. My suffering as detailed below should serve as a stark warning to anyone considering a quiet night in with channel 3: 18:35 CATCHPHRASE with Nick Wise (totally inappropriate surname alert!) "Say what you see" our genial host screams at the contestants. Ok sounds easy, I'll give it a go - er..Inane host with a cheesy grin and sunbed tan fronting a tired, cliched 80s format gameshow. There I did it, what do I win? 19:05 NEW YOU'VE BEEN FRAMED! with Lisa Riley 90% of the budget for this show was spent on reinforcing the sofa in readiness for the biggest arsehole on screen since Lloyd Grossman left Masterchef earlier this year. The other 10% is spent on the £250 prize money shelled out to people who send in vidoes of their fat, red-faced, pissed up uncle falling over whilst attempting a back-flip to 'The Lambada' at their wedding. 19:55 STARS IN THEIR EYES with Matthew Kelly A sorry bunch of unemployed weirdos, students or minimum wage shop workers posing as popstars in the hope they'll be spotted by the person responsible for organising supermarket openings in their local area. Kareoke with wigs. 20:45 70's MANIA with Donny Osmond Talking about kareoke with wigs.... Hosted by one man toothpaste adver
t Donny this was an attempt to showcase all that was good about the 70s. The first number was peformed by an act called Damage, after being subjected to a few bars of their painful warbling I realised that the only thing missing from this group apart from the talent was the word 'Brain' from their title. Next up were Brotherhood of Man looking like they'd just been exhumed from an Egyptian Tomb, singing 'Save All Your Kisses For Me'. It was a good performance and at least it will give the post office queue something to talk about on Thursday morning other than the weather and the fiddly 5 pence pieces. Then Stephen Gateley, most famous for not being Ronan in Boyzone, subjected us to his interpretation of 'Bright Eyes'. I was slightly surprised to see the audience sreaming and waving their arms as Stephen struggled through this song, until I realised that it was a desperate cry for help as they realised with abject terror that they were locked in the studio with no means of escape. ..............I'm a patient and liberal person, but after the visual and aural battering I had received I decided I could take no more and retreated to the comfort blanket of E4, home sweet home! Perusing the TV guide I couldn't help noticing there was a 'Survivor Omnibus' on ITV at 00:00. If anyone managed to get through the rest of '70s Mania', 'Crocodile Dundee II' and the news, then I suggest you should be eligible for the £1 million cash prize that 'Survivor' is offering. After being unfortunate enough to survey the alternative, spending time on a desert island eating rats heads and live insects seems like a infinitely more attractive prospect.
I'm not a mathematical genius, but over the past decade I have dedicated my life to finding a formula for the perfect evening. This research has taken me to a number of continents, has involved X amount of partners and consisted of the consumption of an infinite amount of alcoholic beverages. I am proud to announce my findings first hand to you lucky dooyoo readers as detailed below: BEOWULF'S FIRST LAW OF PULLING: 1 man + 1 attractive girlfriend + 1 Indian Takeaway ( -£10 )+ 1 bottle of Rosemount Estate ( -£4.99 )+ 1 Video Rental ( -£3.50 ) = Fun + Frolics - Inhibitions. After many months of tinkering with the above formula I have deduced that the inclusion of a bottle of Rosemount Estate is vital. Without it, the fun and frolics part of the equation becomes almost non-existent. This soil in South Eastern Australia must be as fertile as a rabbit in Spring because not only does that region produce this beauty, but also my favourite white wine of all time - Hardy's Nottage Hill Chardonnay (£5.99 from Victoria Wine and well worth the extra couple of quid). The intense citrus fruit flavours you expect from a Semillon Chardonnay are nicely balanced with a mellow oaky aftertaste. The result is a nicely balanced white wine with a crisp finish on the palate. In short, a bottle of Rosemount Semillon Chardonnay is a perfect accompaniment to an amorous evening in with your loved one. And at less than a fiver a bottle it won't ruin the relationship with your bank manager either!
Yes I am a vegetarian. No I'm not a student, I don't have long hair nor do I own a dog on a string. My girlfriend doesn't drink cider, hates stripy tights and has a total aversion to body piercing and tattoos. I have a regular, well-paid job, I bathe regularly and I love football, drinking beer and eating curries. Just thought I'd blow away some preconceptions before I began... I must admit my decision to switch to meat-free status had very little to do with animal rights and more to do with my own health and well-being. After one too many drunken nights out I visited the local kebab shop and ordered the ‘Bambinos Bog-Buster Special’ or whatever it was imaginatively titled. “You wanna Chilli Sauce and Salad with that?” enquired the alarmingly-moustachioed food merchant behind the counter. My response was, “Yes please and don’t scrimp on the dog entrails, salmonella and two-week old mould”. At least I think that must have been my answer because I went down with food poisoning for two weeks after that fateful night out. I became a vegetarian proper about 4 years ago whilst living with my ex-girlfriend who introduced me to the myriad meat-free delights available on the market. Instead of facing a limited choice of overpriced cuts of meat of varying quality from my supermarket for the ‘Sunday Roast’, I had the consistently delicious, impressively large range of ‘Quorn’ products to choose from. No more ropey, gristle-laden bangers for me, rather the very palatable and low fat Linda McCartney sausages. The fact is that 10 or 15 years ago I would have given up not eating meat because of the serious lack of choice. Surely only the most dedicated convert could cope with a constant, mundane and nutrition-lacking diet of tofu, bean sprouts, nut-roast and lentils. But there is now a substitute, equally tasty, vegetarian product for virtually any type of meat out there on
the market. If only the egg-heads can somehow invent a substance that tastes, or even smells, as good as fried bacon, then I can guarantee now that I will be a vegetarian for life. A recent report suggests that as many as 40% of British adults could become vegetarian as a result of the foot-and-mouth crisis. If you belong to this statistic, then welcome to one of the fastest growing clubs in the country. You won’t regret it. UPDATE 24/4/01 Today Tesco and Farmfoods have recalled tens of thousands packets of meat after it emerged they had been sold poultry "unfit for human consumption". 80 000 tonnes of meat have been stolen from a warehouse that turns mouldy meat into pet food. The most disturbing fact is that this recalled meat formed part of Tesco's 'Premier Range' of meat!! Are you still happy with what you're eating people??
The collapse of the high-profile trial of Leeds United player's Lee Bowyer and Jonathon Woodgate this week serves as a stark reminder to the dangers of press intrusion. The pair were facing serious assault charges against a 19-year-old Asian student Sarfraz Najeib, who was beaten unconscious in a vicious street attack. If convicted they would both be facing lengthy jail terms. The Hull trial ended in farcical circumstances after Judge David Poole ruled an interview published in the Sunday Mirror could seriously prejudice the result of the trial. The interview was with Najeib’s father who claimed the attack was racially motivated which was in direct contrast to the view that the court, both prosecution and defence, took. The fact that this interview was published at all is a disgrace, the fact that it was published while the jury were still deliberating on their verdict borders on the criminal. The man with the ultimate responsibility for publishing the article, Sunday Mirror Editor Colin Myler, has subsequently resigned as a result of the scandal. His bosses at the Mirror Group of Newspapers immediately disassociated themselves from the editor by calling his decision to publish “a serious error of judgement…”. But this whole sorry debacle goes much further than an error of judgement in my book. Most sane members of public, let alone the well-established editor of a national Sunday tabloid, would realise that such an emotive and impassioned argument from someone so directly involved in this case could potentially sway the opinion of even the most strong-minded juror and, therefore, seriously prejudice the case. The first mantra you are taught at journalist’s college when reporting on a court case is to purely stick to the basic facts until the verdict has been returned. This usually means you are able to report on the name, age and charges faced by the defendants, and any daily information gleaned from the
arguments of both prosecution and defence. I find it extremely hard to believe that such an experienced journalist as Colin Myler did not realise that this article could seriously sway the opinion of the jury whilst they were deliberating. Otherwise it is a very strange coincidence indeed that this attention-grabbing article was published on the same day that the News of the World ran with a front page giving full details of the ‘Countess of Wessex tapes’ where Sophie implicated herself by spouting strongly-held opinions on a variety of public figures. This was done purely in the public interest, of course, according to the News of the World and had nothing to do with sales. The tragedy of this particular case is two-fold. First is the fact that Najeib’s attackers have not yet been brought to justice, whoever they may be. The second is that one fairly talented defender (Woodgate) and one extremely gifted midfielder (Bowyer) will not get the chance to play for England while a shadow of doubt still hangs over them (whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty by the way??). To his credit, the judge has ordered a retrial to begin in October, but one can’t help but think that legal argument will wrap the case up well before then. So all we are left with is the cost of the case so far - £2 million in police investigation and some £8 million in trial expenses. In total that’s a £10 million bill for what was summed up as a “…serious error of judgement…”. Once again the only winners are the lawyers.
First things first: I HATE IRN BRU. I HATE IT! And now, on with the show. The idea is simple. I have mates, you have mates, and the only reason they exist is to wind them up something rotten. That's where Irn-Bru.co.uk conveniently comes in and believe you me everyone is catered for... 1/ POMPOUS MATE WITH OWN WEBSITE-send them an email inviting them to an exclusive Internet awards ceremony. They are informed they have been shortlisted in the 'Best Newcomer' category. Watch in unfettered glee as they fall for it hook, line and sinker. 2/ THE 'GOD'S GIFT' MATE-may I be so bold as to suggest the 'Personal Hygiene' email. You get to choose their particular ailment whether it be halitosis, body odour or cheesy feet. Sit back and relax as Irn Bru sends them an email telling them there's been a miracle breakthrough to tackle their problem and they've been selected to appear on their website to endorse their product! 3/ THE TIMID INTERNET NEWCOMER MATE- these people are ideal bait for the multitude of programmes designed to baffle and perplex. Once these files are downloaded, your hapless pals will be presented with all sorts of error messages, exploding screens etc.. As if this isn't enough there is also a serious side to this site, such as an official Mensa IQ test and a personality assessment. I scored 0 on both. This is the 'Trigger Happy TV' of websites. A haven for people who either can't be bothered, or are just too smart to grow up and join the real world. It is a truly inspired, totally underrated, piece of work from the outer reaches of the genius mind of some twisted individual. Get someone soon before they get you....
What a masterstroke by the Channel 4/Comic Relief Team. I must admit when I first saw the line-up for Celebrity Big Brother I heard the deafening sound of barrel bottoms being well and truly scraped. With the very notable exception of Jack Dee who still enjoys a modicum of celebrity status, the very unusual suspects were: -Keith Duffy (failed popstar and the reason why Englishman,Irishman and Scotsman jokes are funny and true.) -Anthea Turner (failed presenter- now making a living out of wrecking marriages.) -Vannessa Feltz (previously most famous for being the third fattest woman in showbiz behind Jo Brand and Dawn French. Most likely to be subject of a 'Where are they now?' documentary within a year.) -Chris Eubank (mediocre ex-boxer with cross-dressing tendencies.) -Claire Sweeny (??? er..My Mum's Hairdresser???) I couldn't help wondering what programmes Channel 4 had been watching to decide which hot celebs to invite to the Big Brother compound. It's no coincidence that 'Through the Keyhole', 'This is your Life', 'Ready, Steady, Cook', 'GMTV', 'Celebrity Squares', 'Masterchef' and 'Crosswits' all enjoyed increased ratings in the build-up to Celebrity Big Brother. Even my local supermarket managed to get a 'Gladiator' for their official opening. I thought this programme would be as interesting as Songs of Praise, but how wrong I was. This is compelling viewing. The reason the programme is so essential is purely because we are watching D-List Celebrities desperately seeking TV exposure and noteriety by any means necessary. The most guilty exponent of this so far is Vanessa Feltz. She was so safe and smug after the 1st round of nominations involving Anthea Turner and Chris Eubank (it was a major travesty this classic wind-up merchant got voted out so early) and was the first to offer her condolences to the condemned, but
what a different story it was when she got nominated herself! The fall from grace and descent into madness displayed by Vanessa was pure drama of Shakesperian proportions. Not even the bard in his King Lear heyday could have created a character as tragically pitiful as Vanessa when she bared her angst-ridden soul by chalking loads of hateful 'buzz-words' on the table while her Big Brother housemates looked on in total bemusement. "Vanessa I tink you've lost the plot", as nervously uttered by IQ-challenged Keith Duffy, managed to be both the biggest understatement in the world and the most hilarious moment I think I've ever had the pleasure to view on TV. Inevitably Vanessa was booted from the house and left in a flood of tears. She managed to compose herself just enough for the obligatory interview with Big Brother where she was reminded that the whole ordeal had been for charity and, for me, really summed up the whole event. INTERVIEWER:"........Vanessa congratulations you've managed to raise £100,000 for charity." VANESSA:"Oh great, that's great I've raised all that money for charity........I just hope the public don't think I'm mad...." 6 celebrities. Hundreds of Thousands for Charity. Priceless Entertainment!
These boys are not a patch on flutter.com for innovation or outlandish odds. But if you're a serious gambler with an aversion to actually going to the bookies or paying the ridiculous 9% tax then you could do a lot worse than checking them out. William Hill are quintessentially the same as every single other bookmakers out there because they make an absolute packet out of the 1000s of mug punters around. They do, however, have he decency to dress up this modern-day highway robbery into a fairly decent website. The positives of William Hill is that you can bet on virtually any global sporting event 24 hours a day and you can stake as much or as little as you like. This can obviously be a big disadvantage too, especially after a big weekend session at the pub when you could find yourself betting £50 on the result of the South American Minor League Tiddlewinks Championships. As long as you follow the golden rule of gambling which is only bet what you can afford to lose then this site is a winner. They do give great odds and a comprehensive service, but unless you're a real big spender then you'll get better odds and more satisfaction off the one-on-one site flutter.com.
There's no point in complicating the issue, but just incase there's any confusion over the title cd-wow.com are offering the top 75 chart Cds and new releases for £8.99 postage free! I stumbled across this online Alladin's Cave just before Christmas through some random surfing. After a few minutes of incredulous eye-rubbing I snapped up The Beatles' 'Number 1' and All Saints' 'Saints and Sinners' for a bargain combined total of £17.98. The prices are so good because CD-wow keep it simple. They buy the most popular CDs by the truckload, take advantage of the cheaper prices abroad, and pass the savings onto the consumer. There isn't much scope for the avid collector of rare CDs and there's certainly not much of a back catalogue of ex-chart Cds available, but there are already plenty of websites catering for collectors etc..Because the Cds are imported there an be a delay on delivery, particularly at Christmas, so if you are in need of a CD for a specific date then I suggest you look elsewhere or order in plenty of time ('Saints and Sinners' took 10 days to come through). But these are only minor gripes for a great online music store that quite simply offers the best prices around. There is now also a 'bargain basement' department where a few gems can be snapped up for as little as £6.99. Wow indeed!
Mama Mia!I bet the Italians wished they'd got on their scooters at half time, made their way to the nearest coffee house and sank a few cappucinos. To steal a tired cliche from another well-known sport this was certainly a game of 2 halves. The first half was a lacklustre, tetchy affair and England were lucky to go in at the interval 10 points to the good. But in the second half they were a simply awesome attacking force as the Italians capitulated under immense English pressure, conceding a massive 47 points without reply. A criticism often levelled at England is that when they get ahead in a game they lack the "killer instinct" often displayed by their Southern Hemisphere counterparts. Not so on Saturday when they produced wave after wave of exhilarating attacks and practically scored from every one even when the game was so obviously won. Difficult as it is to pick out any star performers in this current England set-up both Healey and Wilkinson were outstanding. Wilkinson, in particular, produced a near flawless display with 13 out of 14 conversions and penalties. It is surely inevitable that he will become England's all-time record points scorer during the course of this Six Nations Tournament. Complacency is the only barrier between England and Championship. With all due respect to the Italians, if England had come across a superior attacking force such as the Fresh or Irish in that first half then they could have found themselves well out of reach by half-time. However, England's 2nd half performance and their recent wins against Wales and the Southern Hemisphere giants prove they are genuine world beaters. Much as I appreciate the history and popularity of the Six Nations, it is perhaps time for England to move on. The only way they can improve is to play regularly against South Africa, Australia and the All Blacks. The fact that England were priced at odds of 150-1 on to beat the Italians is ample pr
oof they need to move to pastures new for a fresher, more demanding challenge.
If you live in or around the Midlands and are looking for an original and exciting way to keep your little horrors/darlings entertained at their party then I strongly recommend Pog the Wizard. I watched in amazement the usualy boisterous Alisha, my 4 year old niece, and her friends sat quietly for a full hour totally transfixed by Pog and his spells. Pog is a member of the Inner Magic Circle and you can certainly tell as he goes through a full repertoire of genuinely impressive tricks. Pog is a natural entertainer and the show is very much geared towards a young audience. He comes dressed in full wizard regalia complete with spooky cauldron and, of course, the obligatory white rabbit (a particular favourite with Alisha and her gang especially as they got to meet him afterwards!). As this particular booking was in honour of Alisha's birthday Pog made it a very special occasion for her by using her as his assistant on a couple of tricks. All in all Pog provided a very entertaining hour for the youngsters and adults alike. Check out his website at www.pogthewizard.co.uk for more information
I booked a return from Birmingham to Bristol about a week ago. An absolute bargain at £12 for booking a week in advance. I sat back, relaxed and phoned my girlfriend, currently living in Bristol, that I had everything booked and paid for thanks to Virgin's efficient and easy-to-navigate website. Girlfriend: "I can't believe you've booked with Virgin. You might as well have come by barge or space hopper - it'll take you 2 weeks to get here with Virgin. Haven't you read the newspapers, they're crap!" Me: "Yeah I'm travelling by Virgin, but it won't be a problem", I explained smugly, "I've travelled with them loads of times before and they've never let me down yet, see you at the station about 10." It was true; I had travelled with Virgin to all parts of the country and never experienced anything other than a minor delay before. I thought the Virgin horror stories about unreliable, dirty trains constantly breaking down or failing to emerge were nothing more than filthy propoganda spread by jealous Virgin rivals. I wasn't about to pass up the chance of travelling on one of the plush new Virgin Voyager trains just because of a few scurrilous headlines was I? Besides what did girls know anyway? Birmingham to Bristol: I stood at Birmingham New Street's concourse and looked up expectantly at the stack of screens like a faithful dog waiting for his master's instructions. I saw a screen with the words 'Bristol' at the top and 'delayed' at the bottom, but thought nothing of it. I had built up a relationship of trust and mutual respect over a number of years with Virgin and this scren of misinformation was only there to test me. Besides if what I was seeing was true then it meant that I was wrong and, shock horror, my girlfriend was right! With that totally unacceptable thought going through my mind I stood firm and stayed put. Nasal station announcement: "The 8-15 Virgin Train service to Bristol will be replaced by a coach. Will all passengers wishing to travel to Cheltenham, Gloucester..." His words faded into oblivion. I stood alone and confused in the barren landscape of New Street totally unable to comprehend what I had just heard. Virgin. Train. Bristol. Replaced. By a coach. A COACH! I couldn't travel by coach - it was full of fat women in leggings and men with greasy mullets, shellsuit tops, stonewash jeans and one earring. Then it dawned on me. It must be a joke, a very cruel, sick joke brought on by my girlfriend phoning the 'Game for a Laugh' team. I waited for Matthew Kelly, Jeremy Beadle, Sarah Kennedy and Henry Kelly to come running out of the nearest 'Photo-Me' booth congratulating me on what a good sport I had been, but they never came. I realised this was because the show actually finished in the mid 80s. I staggered out of New Street Station and onto the coach. There were no fat women in leggings or shell-suited males, but I still felt sick. Probably something to do with the 4 boxes of humble pie I had to eat before meeting my girlfriend. Bristol to Birmingham: A real test of a relationship is sticking with your partner when the going gets tough. So Virgin had let me down and big time, but I wasn't prepared to through away all that time and effort due to one indiscretion. I had forgiveness in my heart and a ticket for a reserved seat on a Virgin Voyager in my hand. After a cool weekend with my girlfriend, life was peachy. Train was due at 1915. Train didn't arrive until 2019 and didn't leave the station until 2115. Two hours late. Two hours! That was unforgivable; there wasn't even any announcements to tell me where my love had been or what it had been up to for all this time. To make matters worse, in the meantime, I went to the station pub to drown my sorrows. I
had two pints waiting for the train to turn up and got a knowing look from a sympathetic barman. Barman: "Travelling Virgin, sir?" Me: "Yeah, I don't understand. Its never been like this before." Barman: "We get hundreds of people like you in here every day. Don't take it personally." Me: "I've been so stupid! I can't believe I got sucked in again. I thought I'd learn my lesson after Central Trains." Barman: "I think its arrived sir." Sure enough it had. And it was like I'd never seen it before. A sleek, hard body with curves in all the right places, it must have been working out! But, I'm not superficial enough for looks to impress me and I got onto the train as mad as hell. As soon as I got home I was going to write a letter effectively ending my relationship with Virgin forever. Then I sat down... The new Virgin Voyager trains are amazing. The seats hug you're bum like a sofa 'ass-grove' from heaven. There is ample room for all shapes and sizes of baggage. There are radios installed in every seat which are compatable with most personal stereo headphones. The shop contains not only great tasting and varied snacks, but also books, Cds and headphones for those who need them. Above every seat is an electronic display with the name of the people who are supposed to be occupying them. The toilets are luxurious and spacious. This train is quite simply a love godess on wheels. I arrived in Birmingham 2 hours late, but wish I'd been held up in Gloucester for another 2. My love for Virgin has been well and truly rediscovered. Bastard!