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Honnecker eats Butternut .. June 13, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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As a youngster I was scared of Butter Beans. It was the seventies and the main perpetrator of 'the bean' was my Step Grandmother. She seemed to cook them with everything. It was partly the dry firm texture, partly the colouring, but also, for some reason, made me think of Germany – and as no one had explained the political climate of Europe to me at that time, specifically Germany, they put the fear of Stalin within me .. I'm not sure why the repetition of the same bean as I have no problem with runner beans, another of my 70's diet additions ..

Butter Beans were not as it happens, the staple diet of East Germans in the seventies, but that didn't stop my six year old brain thinking that they were the work of the Communist Devil .. eat one too many and you will end up in the Gulag*..

Even today, I think of butter beans as a food of the seventies (I wasn't born any earlier) – it is something that people have to queue hours for, assuming you lived in Leipzig, and then taste really bland and uninteresting. So why bother to grow them still? Can't we ethnically cleanse the bean varieties – Mung Beans after all would rule the roost?

I raise this after eating a can of Baxters Carrot and Butter Bean soup– mistakenly purchased as it stood knowingly next to uber nice Butternut Squash tin that was too cool to point out to me that I had picked up the wrong one.

In truth, it was actually really nice – they always are – but it was the excess Butter Beans at the bottom of the bowl that had me thinking curious thoughts of Comrade Honnecker's big rimmed specs .. I bet he wasn't queing for hours .. bet he was sitting at the top of the Fernsehturm eating the Butternut Squash variety and laughing at his fellow Comrades in their quest for dry bland rubber ..

* for those unaware, Celery is actually the official food sponsor of the Devil and I am in no one breaching sponsorship libel laws by linking harmless butter beans to the cause.

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Your Village awaits .. June 13, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Kids.
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This morning I helped out at my youngest Son's school for a 'School Trip'. It wasn't that elaborate, just a wander round the local village spotting types of buildings and habitat, but good fun if you are 7 and it gets you out of studying algebra ..

I was seprated from Dylan in the interests of a 7 year old attention span, he didn't seem to mind though & we had some time at the end to 'play'. I had a really nice bunch of kids in my group – all seemed eager to learn, with one excpetion being a really quiet girl who talked as if a whisper was absolute full volume. It was good to see that kids of that age are interested though. They told me about the 'nasty teenage boys' that light fires in the heath land – I will look out for them .. Two of the girls insisted on holding my hand, and one even asked if I could be her Dad .. whilst flattering, I hoped she was joking and had a happy childhood herself ..

Dylan was very pleased I helped. It must be such a strain on a young boy to have such a cool Dad, I just don't know how he copes ..

Peanut Butter envy .. June 12, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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Like any addiction, it should be taken seriously .. I am now nearing the bottom of my last jar of Jif Peanut Butter, and am not looking forward to the inevitable ..

It all started when I was on holiday with a friend of mine in Canada and the US, who insisted on stocking up on 'Jif' .. at the time I could be considered a social peanut butter recipient but nothing more. 'Our son Pat' was nothing more than a TV ad to me .. but at that moment, naturally after riduculing him on the basis that it can't be that nice cos' they only sell it in Wal-Mart and the discount stores, I took the plunge .. you shouldn't criticise what you haven't tried etc .. Now isn't that exactly how the Class A dealers start, low prices in deprived areas, get them hooked and them watch them suffer?

On return home, I enjoyed the experience sufficiently enough that on my next trip I bought some Reeces' and a larger tub of Jif – still social, but up-ing the anti .. there was no come down after the jar ended & the entire experience was positive..

I have visited the States three times since, and you guessed it, the wanting has grown .. arrrrrgggghhhh …

In February, I bought the most enormous bucket full of Peanut Butter that even the over eating, super-size me generation would gulp at .. and it lasted 4 months .. that's not bad in terms of intake, but that's also 4 months worth of daily intake – now I'm really going to suffer ..

Picture me in the corner of my darkened living room with a cocktail stick, unhingeing the last dried out scrapings from under the lid .. in a scene not too disimilar to Papillon ..

In case anyone points out that you can buy Peanut Butter in UK stores, the reply has to be, 'it just isn't the same' .. what I really need is for a Jif executive to reading this and kindly sponser my blog, sending me a truck load round to my house via FedEx .. In the unlikely event that this does not occur, I'll start saving my airfare ..

Fussball Spielen .. June 10, 2006

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I have been taken in by the world cup this time. I was aching with excitement earlier today, and yesterday even watched the entire opening ceromony ..

I placed my 1st football bet ever, well so long as you dont count a £1 bet on Mick Stocwell scoring a hatrick in a local derby in the early nineties, but my friend placed that for me as I couldn't grasp 'betting tax' at the time.

This occasion I put a fiver on Ukraine to get through to the semi finals. I hardly think I have a gambling problem. They seemed to do really well in qualification and yet haven't been tipped by to many people, so I thought it worth a try .. laugh at me when they fail miserably, or gaze adoringly when I cash in ..

Watched today's match at a friends house and he kindly provided pizza and beer .. oh and the five of us all ooohd and ahhhd at the right places .. Football, beer, pizza, good friends .. what more could a boy wish for .. ahh .. oh yeah .. well Michaela abondoned me for the hairdressers to avoid the football and then got caught up with all the drunkereds coming out of the pubs at full time .. that will teach her .. 

Summer Days .. June 10, 2006

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A very nice walk in the evening sunshine last night, ending up at our/my local pub. Aside from the local pub smilling of vinegar and cheap ketchup, it was a very nice evening..

Is it just me or does everyone gaze in wonder at the menu at 'Hungry Horse' resturants and think 'who the hell eats all that?' .. I have a healthy appetite myself, but those places are ridulous – 'large quantity of pale brown looking food sir?' .. mmm yes please ..

Sunstreak Avenger .. June 7, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids.
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I looked in the mirror yesterday morning and I was hungover, sunburnt and peeling .. it was a pretty sight. How can I go to Scotland and get sun-burnt .. what happened to the rain and wind and melencoly? I had Belle and Sebastian on my iPod, not Summer Party Mix.

My sunburn is such that I must have been squinting my way through Saturday, and the wrinkles around my eyes (although there are few) have remained white in a tie-dye arrangement. If I had imagination, I could be classified a super hero with flame-like white streaks cutting out from my pupils .. in reality, I just look like a bloke that was squinting in the sun too long.

I have recently been asked to mentor a number of people at work and my hungover, sunburnt self was hauling my sorry ass from person to person yesterday, looking to inspire them to great things .. if the role was optional I think they might take back the keys.

I went through all the things I would do in their position, and grinned through a pained expression .. miraculously, without fail, they thanked me kindly and went on there way .. no doubt they will all become a great success in their careers now and thank me in their memoirs.

Today is a better day. It was my Mothers birthday last night and me and the kids bought take-out and cakes round to her and had a really nice time. Kids were perfectly behaved and that even stretched to this morning when my youngest came in bed and gave me a hug this morning having gotten himself completely ready for school, he then made my bed for me whilst I was in the shower and then emptied the dishwasher whilst I made breakfast .. all unrequested and unpaid .. I am still awkwardly stunned ..

That’s what I went to School for .. June 6, 2006

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School reunion last night. It was 20 years ago today and all that ..

Monday night isn't the best idea for partying and suffice to say I misjudged the correct number of beers to drink and feel like someone has whacked me over the head with a large metal object.

It was very nice to meet up with folks, many of whom I last saw at the 10 year reunion. Not too many casualties of life either, but maybe they just stayed away. I got to see some pictures of a school trip to the peak district when I was 13 .. sigh .. I was a cute kid .. ahem ..

I was also informed by one girl that we used to date (in a 12 year old sense of the word), but I really didn't remember that .. natuarally I didn't admit to the fact, but it does raise the question of what else don't I remember? Maybe my parallel universe is hip and happening?!

One girl had recently become a Grandma, aged 35, another guy had been in the Army frontline for 22 years & another had tuned in and dropped out and picked Aspagaus for a living .. cool ..

It further restored my faith in human kindness and had some heart warming chats with happy smiley people, many of whom I couldn't even remember their name ..

Colonel Mustard .. June 6, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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One of best friends had his 40th birthday this weekend, and he was overly kind in taking his nearest and dearest away to some five star luxury .. it's because we're worth it .. and cos' he has too much money probably ..

I hadn't visited Loch Lomund before, the nearest I had been was Glasgow City Centre & the contrast to that is stark to put it mildly..

I arrived on time (for once) to pick travelling buddies up for the airport, but that was about as scheduled as the inital leg of the trip was going to get. First we managed to miss the highway turnoff due to my front seat passenger talking of sex with his socks on, and myself being distracted from anything other than laughing and trying not to vomit. Once this part was corrected 30 miles to the better, we got caught up behind a traffic accident with 5 mile tail backs. Switching to the traffic news the presenter suggested that there was 'no trouble on the county's roads' except one traffic accident (thanks for that) and a broken down train – it just so happened that one of the other weekend attendees was stuck on that very train .. so, it might have been a quiet one on Suffolk's roads, but it certainly wasn't helping our weekend away ..

We arrived with about 10 mins to spare. The straglers in the train incident arrived with 23 seconds to spare, having to do a handbrake turn at the back of the check in queue just to make sure. We can laugh about it now ..

Our hotel was like a grand version of Hogwarts. It was full on butler service with kilts and gentlemanly conduct. The view over the Loch in the sunshine was stunning & worth every penny (and it wasn't even my penny!). We had 'afternoon tea' and an evening meal that required jacket and tie – get us! The food was amazing, it could have been constructed from an uber trendy design guide and highly memorable. We retired to the Library and I did my best Poirot impressions and solved many a mystery. It was like living the Cluedo dream ..

Saturday JC and I did a 3 hour walk around the Loch up to Balloch Castle, where REM did a big open air gig last year, apparently. We took in the midday sun and paid for it! Met up with the others for drinks and a boat trip .. a posh boat trip at that. The boat cost £360k, had 2 bedrooms with en-suite and boasted celebrity clientelle .. Monty's wife got off the boat before us, splashing divorce cash no doubt. It was a great trip around the Loch in the brilliant sun shine, pausing briefly at the edge of the golf course for birthday cake.

Lots of booze and trying to avoid the sun for the rest of the day & then Calzone by the Marina. An attempt to hit the local clubs was thwarted by the old folks, so we retired to the hotel bar and tried in vain to crash the wedding being hosted there.

Sunday I sat on the jetty and read my book and sunday papers and relaxed to the extreme, before then catching the taxi home.

It was a fantastic weekend and the company was spot on .. I now have four years of thinking before my own big four zero; I obviously need to check my guide books to places cold and Eastern European ..

Postcards from Hanoi .. June 6, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Music, Reviews.
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I have had a pretty fine few days all told.. from viewing herion addiction in the eye, to toying with the five star luxuries ala Jackie O in the space of 72 hours .. I had better do this in stages ..

Thursday night I had the pleasure of a trip to see Hanoi Rocks in Norwich. My former PVC trouser clad friend picked me up in his 'flash new motor'. I am not a car person, and plainly neither is he, as he has purchased a Jag whilst in his mid-thirties!It is the perfect car to provide your friends with heaps of sarcasm material, and yet, I have to admit, it was pretty cool in an Arthur Daley kitsch kinda way..

I got to hear a couple of songs from their 'new' album and they are poor, but we did also play along with a couple of songs from 'All Those Wasted Years' from the mid eighties and I found my subconsious mind remembering all the words and getting firmly in the glam zone .. 

Entering the Waterfront you could taste, see and smell the nostalgia written on everyone's faces. There was not a recent convert in the house, it was pure 30 something bliss .. a trip down memory lane of Thuderbird Wine and hair that required hairspray (what was I thinking?! .. oh hold on, I had a skinhead).

Support came from former Wildhearts frontman Ginger. I wasn't a Wildhearts fan so wasn't expecting too much, but in stripped down acoustic mode there were some great songs, lyrically clever and both he and the other bloke sang really well together. We were all impressed..

The main event and Hanoi Rocks take the stage – gulp .. I felt 15 again, but Mike Monroe looked 55 so perhaps feeling 25 for me would have been more realistic. Feathers on the mic stand, drugs in the veins .. Andy McCoy talked between songs and you couldn't even decifer his nationality, let alone the words and phrases .. wasted. To think this guy was and icon and roll model to a number of my friends and guitar buddies in my teens .. no wonder they all turned out so good .. ho hum .. 

The 2 surviving members from the original line up lived up to their respective reputations and given that their heyday was 20 years ago, they did a pretty good job of convincing the rest of us they could still cut it. Throwing themselves from stage right to stage left and diving head first in to the dressing up box, they did put on a show. The second guitarist held things together a bit when McCoy fell apart and even the new songs fitted in the live setting much better than I had expected. I almost had a tear in my eye when they played 'Don't you ever leave me' ..

A great night out, despite the traffic wardens eagerness to bless the Jag with a parking ticket on our return .. no respect

Round the bend .. June 1, 2006

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Off to see Hanoi Rocks tonight in Norwich. I confess to being a fan in the late 80's, and the band that I was in at the time managed to foolishly steal all the bad bits and misplace the good 😮 .. I haven't heard them for about 10 years though and so it will be a true pvc nostalgia trip .. Im never sure about late 40 somethings still trudging through a drug fuelled haze, but if you don't try you just don't know ..

This weekend is another birthday bash. I have to be up early tomorrow as we are collectively off to Loch Lomond for a weekend of fresh Scottish air. I'm taking lots of cameras and a couple of good books for lying by the pool and taking life slowly..