The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

The Man Down My Local (2).png

I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

 

The Lazy Ramblings of A Lazy Guy (On Being Idle)

 

The Man Down My Local (1).pngI was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being Idle

Laziness is both a blessing and a curse, there is nothing more satisfying than spending a day lazing about on the sofa, especially when you know that there are plenty of more important things that you could be doing, and therein lies the curse. Having to put aside that bliss, can prove difficult and indeed a real hardship and can even lead to outright resentment. Or at least this is how I feel. I’ve now reached the point where I actually hate to have to do things. When people interrupt my doing nothing I really do get a little bit angry about the whole thing.

Since the advent of the internet the whole staying in thing really has taken off, with the world of online streaming services and takeaway foods that you don’t even have to speak to people to get, the world of insular laziness has actually become more and more of a easy thing to achieve.

Laziness and indeed idleness itself is a state of mind, its where you sacrifice any sort of social life just to achieve the pleasure that comes from doing nothing. It’s hard to get into the head space required to want to do nothing but watch Game of Thrones in your pants while eating cereal straight from the box.

There are some people who couldn’t be lazy if their lives depended on it. They just lack that lack of drive. They have too much motivation, too much determination to just get things done. The world would stop without those people, without them we wouldn’t have anything. But thanks to those people the rest of us, those lazy fellows can enjoy the things those great enablers have given us. Thanks to them we can vegetate until we fuse to with our sofas, until bed sores set in and until we have to wash ourselves with rags on sticks.

6cd24fc01d4a91665df7b9b6429418a3664d9158b6b24f562b09d22d05356bf2.jpg

The world takes a dim view of laziness, but to those who say this is say to you…meh I’ll tell you later.

 

This is the first in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man. 

Review: Five On Brexit Island

Hands up all of you who have at some point in your life read one Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. The Enid Blyton books have entertained countless children with the antics of Julian, Dick, Anne and George, not to mention Timmy the dog. The stories invariably take place during the summer holidays when all the children have returned from boarding school to spend the summer hols with George’s parents on the south Dorset Coast.

Five on brexit island.jpg

Five on Brexit Island is part of a new range of books called Enid Blyton for grown ups. Other titles in the series include: Five Go Gluten Free, Five Give Up The Booze and Five Go On A Strategy Away Day.

The plot of Five On Brexit Island focuses on ,the now grown up five’s , attempts to get away from fervour of the Brexit referendum result by taking a camping trip to Kirrin Island. However upon learning the result of the referendum George, the legal owner of Kirrin Island, decides to hold her own referendum on weather to stay as part of the United Kingdom, or become its own sovereign state.

The book really does highlight the absurdity of the Brexit campaign, from the boldly fictional claims of the ardent outers, to the ridiculous scaremongering of the in crowd, even down to the pointless resignations, the vile way in which the press egged the situation on and the way that in the end the majority of the electorate, just didn’t give a crap.

The book itself is written in a very similar style Enid Blyton’s original work, although thankfully it does leave out the massively outdated racism, and it does show what happens when the children from children’s stories go on and grow up. I would recommend wholeheartedly as a gift and may indulge further into Mr Bruno Vincent’s take on the Famous Five. This work is defiantly something to put in the stocking of any politically minded millennial or any brexit loving baby boomer and should be read by as many people as possible.

Opera, An Aide De Small Talk Guide

One of my more obscure passions is opera. I know what you’re thinking, that this is a pretty weird thing for a man in his 20’s to be into, but there you have it, I am enamoured  with those foreign subsidised vowels. I’m not sure how my love of the art form came about but it is something I’ve indulged since my teens, leading my mother to be possibly the only parent ever to yell up the stairs “WILL YOU TURN DOWN THAT F***ING OPERA” to which I would invariably turn it up louder.

So here is a little look at 5 operas designed to give you something to start off with.

Pagliacci:

pagliacci

Pagliacci is a fairly short Italian opera by  Ruggero Leoncavallo which premiered in Milan in May 1892. It follows the tale of the jilted clown Pagliacci and his quest for revenge on his cheating wife and her lover. As an opera in two acts the High point of the piece from my point of view, comes at the end of act one, where the great clown, upon discovering his wife’s infidelity begins preparing to take the stage for the evenings performance, it’s beautiful, haunting and really moving.

HMS Pinafore:

hms-pinafore

H.M.S Pinafore is a comic opera in two acts by the British duo Gilbert and Sullivan. This opened at the Opera Comique and had an original run of 571 performances. The story takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a working class sailor, her father intends her to marry the slightly inbred First Lord of the Admiralty. She goes along with her father’s wishes, but her fiancee’s  advocacy of the equality of all man encourages Josephine to overturn conventional social orders and plans to elope with her true love Ralph. As with most Gilbert and Sullivan operas it feels like a pantomime, especially being in English. The best part from my point of view is the song He Is An Englishman, it evokes a national pride in me (even as a Welshman) and is both stirring and rousing at the same time.

Cavalleria Rusticana 

632642_1.jpg

The Cavalleria Rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni adapted from a play and short story written by Giovanni Verga. It premiered in Rome in 1890 and since 1893, due to its relatively short length, has been performed with the aforementioned Pagliacci. The story is a pretty simple one, a young farmer goes off to war, while he’s away his fiancee gets married to another man, he comes back and meets another woman, his married ex doesn’t like it, they begin an affair, then the cuckolded husband and the jilted rebound girl team up for revenge and like any good opera ends in tragedy. You may recongnise this particular opera from The Godfather Part Three. I think the best bit musically would actually be the Intermezzo, and the this opera was actually the first opera recording that I ever purchased on CD (the Maria Callas version).

Carmen

1236-default-l

Carmen is a four act opera by the French Composer Georges Bizet the opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, the song Habanera from act 1 and the toreador Song from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias. The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the tempestuous gypsy Carmen. José leaves his childhood sweetheart and also deserts from his military service, however he loses Carmen’s love to the toreador Escamillo, after which José  then kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of everyday life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and was highly controversial at the time, however managed to draw in non french audiences and proved extremely popular outside France, a fitting legacy for Bizet, who died after the productions 33rd performance, never knowing the success it would gain.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

download.jpg

 I’m cheating somewhat as Der Ring Des Nibelungen is actually a cycle of four operas composed by Richard Wagner, comprising of Das Rheingolfd, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens of the river Rhine, intended to rule the feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act termed as ‘denial of love’. With the assistance of the god Loge, Wotan – the chief of the gods – steals the ring from Alberich, but is forced to hand it over to the giants, Fafner and Fasolt in payment for building the home of the gods, Valhalla, or they will take Freia, who provides the gods with the golden apples that keep them young. Wotan’s schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story. His grandson, the mortal Siegfried, wins the ring by slaying Fafner (who slew Fasolt for the ring) – as Wotan intended – but is eventually betrayed and slain as a result of the intrigues of Alberich’s son Hagen, who wants the ring. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – Siegfried’s lover and Wotan’s daughter who lost her immortality for defying her father in an attempt to save Siegfried’s father Sigmund – returns the ring to the Rhine maidens as she commits suicide on Siegfried’s funeral pyre. Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed. The musical high points of this saga are too numerous to mention, but most will be familiar with the piece the Ride of the Valkyries (of Apocalypse Now fame).

Hopefully you’ll all go out and immerse yourself in these great works of art, but at the very least I hope this little guide may come in useful if you ever need it for small talk, are dragged to one by a would be suitor or even need an answer in a pub quiz.

 

 

Prog #2000 (A 2000 AD Review)

I can’t really say that I’ve read all that much from 2000 AD beyond a smattering of Judge Dredd that I got at a car boot sale and one or two volumes of the complete case files, that and the Batman/ Judge Dredd crossovers (Die Laughing being my favourite) . So when picking up Prog (definitely not issue) 2000 I wasn’t sure what to expect.

First thing I noticed was that this Prog (that’ll take some getting used to) was very geared towards new readers, which I liked, it highlighted some of the best talent from comics, I was amazed by not only how many I had heard of, but how many I already had on my book shelf, then I remembered 2000 AD is the well from which American companies like Marvel and DC draw their talent as if they were water.

2000 AD Prog 2000.jpg
2000 AD Prog 2000, Judge Dredd Cover

Secondly the art was well worth mentioning, drawing on (pun a little intended) many talents, both established and otherwise, giving some wonderfully painted sequences with some in a lovely grey-scale,  with others in plain monochrome.

I definitely feel that I will  be dipping in to the worlds of 2000 AD more and more over the coming months, with plenty of Judges Dredd and Anderson, as well as some Strontium Dog, The ABC Warriors and Slaine already added to my Amazon Wish list.

Also did I mention the free poster, that bad boy is getting framed.

 

No Smoke Without a Fire (Guantanamera Cristales Review)

Gauntanamera_Crystales_S_1
It was recently my birthday, so I decided to treat myself, I decided to buy a tailored suit, (a delightful double breasted, three piece, pinstriped number in navy blue), and to treat myself to the usual dozen pints in the local inns, taverns and hostelries of Newport and it’s environs. All that was missing was the all important final touch. The Cigar.

Over the last few months times have been tough so I didn’t really feel inclined to splash a fortune on something that was literally going to go up in smoke. So on a trip to Cardiff I decided to stop by the tobacconists in the Wyndham Arcade, where I picked up 3 Guantanamera Cristales Cigars for the not unreasonable sum of £22.50.

The cigars themselves come in individual plastic tubes, are pre cut for convenience and measure at 5 7/8 inches (approx 15cm) and are about as wide across as a penny. They are quite a light and easy smoke, which is something I’ve come to expect from less expensive cigars. The flavours are uncomplicated and little rough at first which definatly marks this as something for the novice smoker. Overall it took me about 45 minuets to smoke but this was whilst drinking and engaged in conversation, however that being said, I didn’t actually have to relight the cigar, which was surprising, and luckily I managed to finish my cigar and my pint simultaneously (I later found that these cigars also pair nicely with rioja).

This is definitely one of the better budget Cuban cigars, due to its size you really do feel like your smoking a cigar, not just some fag with delusions of grandeur, the taste whilst far from the best is certainly miles from the most disgusting thing I’ve put in my mouth. I will most likely buy them again and as they aren’t all that expensive I think I may keep a few tucked away in the house for when the mood strikes or for when I have company.

Dr Brexit (Or How I Learnt To Stop Worrying & Love The Abomination)

So that happened. The people of the United Kingdom (but not Northern Ireland) voted to leave the EU. After months of muck slinging and misinformation Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union. This left Prime Minister David Cameron to be the first politician to keep a promise as he resigned his premiership , thus triggering a short leadership contest best described as mother doesn’t know best.

As well as this the Labour Party seems to be determined to simultaneously implode and rip itself apart, with the majority of  party MP’s wanting to remove “leader” Jeremy Corbyn from power and Mr Corbyn refusing to leave office triggering a party wide leadership election based on the Vladimir Putin electoral system.

Add into this 6000 extra reported hate crimes that have been logged since the Brexit vote was cast, the fluctuation of the markets that look like a cutaway diagram of Wales, and several declarations of  war on the baby boom generation,  this whole thing is beginning to sound like some sort of satirical farce, one can almost hear Malcolm Tucker exclaiming CHRIST ON A BENDY BUS whilst R.E.M plays in the background.

This is why after a month of anger, bitterness and depression I’ve decided to see the funny side of Brexit. So here are some of the funniest/ stupidest things I’ve seen regarding Brexit after polling day:

  • Google reports the most popular (non porn) search the day of the Brexit results was “What is the EU?
  • After being urged to vote leave by J.D Wetherspoon’s founder Tim Martin the firm lost £18,Million in value thanks to the post brexit slump.
  • An odious man of my acquaintance (whom I will not name for legal reasons) who campaigned strongly for brexit has now found himself fired from a leading academic establishment (which I will not name for said same legal reasons) because his position was paid for by a European Grant.
  • Proposals are now being drawn up by various special interest groups to cease the subsidising of public transport for the over 60’s in Wales in order to make up the shortfall of European Money coming into Wales (almost 80% of over 60’s in Wales voted to leave the EU)

Do you have any examples of poetic justice stemming from the post brexit fallout currently engulfing the UK?

Foreign Secretary, A Eunuch Experience

Unless you’ve been living under a rock ( and under the circumstance this seems a rather sensible option) you’ll know that after voting to leave the European Union (I’m not bitter) the Labour Party has been in turmoil with members of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition finally uniting behind Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (albeit in the same way Brutus et al united behind Julius Caesar) and that in the same time the Conservative Party has managed to stage a leadership contest and swear in a new Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation.

After a very brief leadership race the Conservative Party has selected The Right Honourable Theresa May MP as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. After being asked to form a government by Her Majesty the Queen, Mrs May got straight to work picking her new cabinet most of the choices were fairly sound but the one that drew most controversy was the appointment of former London Mayor Boris Johnson MP as Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Boris Johnson
Secretary of State For The Foreign and Commonwealth Office: The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Boris Johnson was one of the leading figures of the Brexit movement (the campaign to leave the European Union) and as such was tipped to replace David Cameron as the next Prime Minister. He enjoyed much media notoriety as Mayor of London, his blonde haired buffonish charm and unapologetic upper class demeanour make him somewhat of a marmite figure across the country, but lying behind the Etonian oaf exterior is a political acumen sharp enough to cut glass.

When David Cameron stood down as Prime Minister, thus making the fallout from Brexit his successors problem, Boris, knowing this, decided to bide his time as most from the Brexit camp saw the premiership as a poisoned chalice. So when Theresa May became Prime Minister Boris had to be given a top job purely because his campaigning and media profile demanded it. Mrs May knows that she had to give Boris a cabinet position because as dangerous as having Boris in the cabinet is, he would be more dangerous as a back bencher.

Now that brings us to the position Mr Johnson was actually given, Foreign Secretary. You may ask what does Foreign Secretary do? The answer is not much. He may have a whole department to run but Mr Johnson has become the most powerful eunuch in Whitehall. Most major foreign policy decisions are made by the Prime Minister, most diplomatic actions are taken by ambassadors and other civil servants and now international trade has a new secretary of state and whole new department, and even Brexit, the most important foreign policy of a generation is being handled by its own department.

So what does that leave for Mr Johnson? Not much. He is now essentially The Secretary of State for Taking Blame, whenever British troops are killed in the middle east, he’ll be trotted out to sweat on question time, or when British Tourists are killed abroad he’ll be the one saying how sorry the government is. From the Prime Ministers point of view she can also send him abroad when and if he starts making a nuisance of himself in the press, or if it looks like he’s getting a little to popular among the back benches any number of foreign crises can be arranged.

I think that its clear to see that Mrs May subscribes to the theory that anyone who says keep your friends close but your enemies closer clearly doesn’t have many enemies.

Review: The Shepherd’s Crown

Terry Pratchett has been my favourite author ever since I was an awkward teenager, and now as an awkward adult I was heartbroken when he died. The first novel that I ever saw through to completion was the first Discworld book The Colour is Magic, and since finishing that book I’ve had my nose in one ever since.

The Shepherd's Crown.jpg
After Sir Terry’s death I was glad to learn that his final work in the Discworld series, The Shepherd’s Crown, was to be published. I will admit that I put off reading the book for a while, because I knew that it was going to be emotional, and I was right.

Keeping this review as spoiler free as possible I will say that by the end of the second chapter (chapters being a rarity in a Pratchett Book)I was in tears, and I didn’t even cry when my daughter was born.
The book looks at the themes of glamour and beauty being used to disguise true horrors and shows that a pretty face can hide a very nasty side. The book also deals with the themes of death and growing up and the main character Tiffany Aching does grow up…with a little help from the other witches and the good ole Nac Mac Feegle.

Nac Mac Feegle.jpg
The Nac Mac Feegle

As with every Terry Pratchett book the fantasy genre is turned on its head (and given a swift kick in the fork) but in this fantasy novel, the immortal creatures who can make themselves beautiful with a thought are, much as you would expect, shallow, vacuous, arrogant dicks,  these elven beauties are not shown as fair saviours from the worlds of Tolkien but as squabbling children, out for what they can grab hold of and are actually being opposed by a coven of witches, led by the young Tiffany Aching, her new apprentice and a strangely talented goat.

Terry Pratchett
Sir Terry Pratchett

Even at the end of his life Pratchett still manages to take everything we know about genre, shake it up, drop it on its head, kick it in the fork and deliver something truly fantastic.

Local Government For Local People

One of the things that the Welsh Government has within its remit is a degree of control over local government organisation. So naturally not content with just getting their own house in order, the Welsh Government has decided to take the axe to local government. They have plans to more than half the number of local authorities in Wales from 22 to anywhere between 8-10.

This reorganisation will supposedly save the Welsh taxpayer £650 million over 10 years. This sounds like a considerable saving and would be welcome… If it were true. Council reorganisations don’t actually mean significant savings (beyond maybe £2 million a year in chief executive salaries) it’ll still mean a similar number of councillors, officers and other employees all doing the same job for the same pay. In many cases councils will be out money having to spend hard won funds on rebranding. I can’t see where these savings are coming from as I sincerely doubt central government is going to cough up more money so it seems local government is spending less.
It is my opinion that the Welsh Labour Government is putting this policy in place just so it appears to be doing something about the excesses of Local Government, but if the WAG really wanted to do something about local government why not take a wrecking ball to the 800+ community councils in Wales?

A Bit Of Everything