Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Going Dark.

I hate to do this but the time has come for Tony Van Helsing to sign off the blogosphere. Some of you may have noticed my absence from your comments boxes for awhile and I haven't posted anything myself for far too long.

My new job takes up a lot of my brainspace at the moment and I currently have a few other irons in the fire. When I sit down to write a new post I sit looking at a blank screen, unable to think of anything original or funny to say. I can't call it writer's block as I am not a writer.

I've been blogging since 2009 and have enjoyed the fact that other people all over the world have been interested enough to read my burblings, as I in turn have enjoyed reading yours.
It has been like the world opening up to me as I have been in contact with people all over this tiny planet hurtling through space.

But now I fear it is time to go, I can't give you the attention you all deserve and I am sorry for this. Rather than just going silent I have decided to officially say goodbye rather than leaving you in the dark, it is the least I can do for such a great bunch of people like yourselves.

Maybe I will resurface at some point, perhaps in another guise or maybe still as Van Helsing, time will tell.

So it just remains for me to say thank you for sharing your lives with me and an even bigger thank you for wanting to share mine. It has been a genuine pleasure to have met you all and I wish you all the best in the world.

I'll miss you.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Jeremy Bloody Irons.

I've been meaning to write a post on this bloke for ages but I always talked myself out of it. With all the crap going on in the world today there are far more important things to take up your valuable time than reading a post about Jeremy Irons.

But for the past two days I have been on a juice only diet to try and get back to my fighting weight when I return to work next week. This has left me with a bin full of mashed up fruit and veg pulp and a craving for solid food. It has also left me in something of a foul mood so I've decided that now is the time to scratch the itch in my brain that is Jeremy Irons.

He first flounced onto British TV screens in 1981 in the mini-series Brideshead Revisited, were he played an upper class Englishman in a cast full of upper class Englishmen. People who like watching period stuff like Downton Abbey might enjoy this, it's full of big, posh houses and angst ridden melancholy.

This seems to have given Irons a reputation and a long career in film and theatre that to be honest, I don't feel he has the talent to back up. I've seen him in many films over the years and his presence always seems to me to be a disappointment. Actors like Alison Steadman or Steve Buscemi, can be in mediocre films but always light up the screen when they are on and are enjoyable to watch.

Irons is exactly the opposite. You know he is an actor because when he performs he LOOKS like he is acting, it comes across as forced and unnatural. Try having a listen to his Southern States accent in the recent Beautiful Creatures, it is like something from a local amateur dramatic society. Knowing he is in a film somehow lowers the quality of it, the same way the presence of Richard Chamberlain used to do, or Pierce Brosnan. I can never take these guys seriously as actors.

I bet there are thousands of actors out there waiting tables and working in bars who could act Irons into the floor, but they haven't had the lucky break that he has had.
 He is shit.

There, I've got that out of my system and it is as petty and small-minded as I feared it would be but I feel confident that Jeremy Irons will never hear of this rant and even on the off chance that he did, he would not care.

So I'll leave you to get on with the rest of your day and I will finish off the pint of cucumber, spinach, grapefruit and lemon juice that I am currently forcing down. It tastes a bit like one of those belches that brings a bit of sick up into my mouth.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Still Life.

It's been nearly four weeks since my car crash and although my injury is only a broken bone in my hand I still haven't been able to do my job. Occupational Health department don't want me in face-to-face contact with the public in case of physical confrontation which is fair enough.
I could have updated my blog a lot more than I have been doing as I have a fair amount of time on my hands but for some reason I couldn't be arsed and when I did sit down to write something I couldn't think of anything to say.
So here are some of the things I have been doing to pass the time?

Talking with insurance companies, lawyers and vehicle recovery agents. Having a drunk smash into your car generates a large amount of paperwork and creates lots of little jobs for people to do, so in that way I am helping the wheels of commerce spin satisfactorily.

Reading books. Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography is so big that picking it up is a workout in itself so I have read this. It's funny how differently I view him when I see him of screen now I have read his autobiography, sort of like I know him. As a book it was more entertaining than I was expecting and his drive is phenomenal.

Growing my hair. I know this is a pastime that requires no concious effort on my part but I usually sport a very short blade two all over but now I have time to kill I thought I would see how long it can get before it looks ridiculous. This is a whole new level of boredom.

Talking to cats.

My wife is at work during the day leaving me on my own in the house apart from three cats. These now look at me in bemusement as I prattle endlessly on at them but steadfastly refuse to answer me.

So there you are, it's not all bad and I have managed to avoid drinking during the day and watching daytime television. Although I do switch on the news when eating my breakfast and lunch but turn it off when I am done.

Anyone got any tips on other things I can occupy my time with. Don't say masturbation, I'm right handed and this is the broken hand. Sensible answers please.

Friday, 23 August 2013

One Careful Lady Owner.

After my car accident last week my insurance company have written my car off. this comes as no surprise as both air bags deployed and the front of my car was pretty much stoved in. They have told me how much money they will give me for my car so I have spent the last couple of days looking at cars on line.

So tomorrow I will be physically going and looking at some of the cars I have been perusing on the internet.
To be honest, I hate buying cars. I always feel like I am entering a poker game with the rules stacked against me.

When I go shopping I tend to know exactly what I am going for and try to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible, which I know is a weakness that will be exploited by the car salesman.

I know, I am getting another car so why am I moaning?
Well I'll tell you why, this is my blog and I'll put whatever I want on here, so shut up.

I'm thinking about a Skoda Fabia, boring but reliable.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Crash, Bang, Wallop.

So I'm driving home from work just after midnight earlier this week when I approach a sharp, blind bend just under a railway viaduct.  I stick the car in third gear and slow down to 20 mph when all of a sudden a silver Peugeot travelling in the opposite direction comes hurtling around the corner.
I just had time to think to myself that it's going to hit me when it ploughed into the front driverside of my car.
If you have ever been in a car crash you will know what it is like. Both airbags deployed and the car filled with dust and smoke, the bang of the airbags and the noise of the impact seem to fill the world.  I was thrown into the driver's door and felt my shoulder wrench, my hand hit something (I'm still not sure what) and I knew from the pain that something in there had broken.
I sat stunned for what seemed like a few seconds, I couldn't see anyone moving in the other car.  I tried to open by door but it had bent and I had to force it partially open with my shoulde, sending bolts of pain down my arm.
The door of the other car opened and the interior light came on. I could see an Asian male in the driver's seat with blood running from his nose.  I aksed him if he was ok and he said he had just hit his nose on the steering wheel.
The police and ambulance arrived, he was arrested at the scene for blowing over the limit for alcohol on the breath test and suspicion of dangerous driving.
I was taken to hospital and x-rayed where it was found that I have a broken little finger and various bruises, so I am out of action for awhile.
My car is written off.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

No Pressure, Kid.

A couple of you may have heard in the news about a Royal baby being born and far be it from me to miss out on a band wagon.
I was working when this was announced and the first I heard about the birth was when I bumped into two drunk women in the street who told me about the little lad being born.  The ladies then asked me if I thought he should be called Mohammed as this was the most popular male name on the planet.

I said this would probably not be a good idea as Islamic people would not be chuffed by a non-Muslim figurehead of an increasingly secular Christian country being named after their prophet.

So here I am the next day after the birth watching the 24 hour news channels working themselves into a lather.  This involves a great deal of standing around outside the hospital with hundreds of other TV crews, endlessly spouting the same sentences to fill the time until something else happens.

Despite the recession and general misery that usually floats around Britain has been enjoying a good couple of years, particularly in sport. We had the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the same year as the enormously successful London Olympic games.

England hammered the Australians at cricket this month, Australia again suffered defeat this time in rugby at the hands of the British and Irish Lions and Chris Froome is the second Brit in a row to win the Tour de France.

So with all this national pride in the air at the moment I reckon the new Royal baby should be called Arthur. I mean, think about it, there has only been one King Arthur and he was legendary so it's about time we had another.
The legend says that King Arthur will return when the country needs him so it makes sense to have an Arthur on standby, just in case.

And if the King has to save the country in it's hour of need then this should silence the people who say the Royals don't do enough for the money we spend on them.

Why stop there? If we are serious about keeping the monarchy system then we may as well embrace it fully and as well as King Arthur we should have a Round Table, a castle called Camelot and a wizard called Merlin. Think of the boost to the tourist industry.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

J'em Appelle Tony.

I don't know about anybody else but whenever I go to a country where English is not the first language it takes me a few days to acclimatise.
Things that I do without thinking in my own country like shopping for groceries suddenly become fraught with the peril of looking like an idiot in front of a shop full of disapproving locals.

I was in France last week and before I went I learned a few key phrases so I could go into shops, restaurants and bars and ask for things in French rather than just waving my arms around and speaking English in an increasingly loud voice.

The drawback in learning things parrot fashion is that the person I am speaking to will reply in French, leaving me standing in a cloud of awkward silence as I try to process what to me was just a noise.
Then I usually point at my object of desire and say 'One of them, please' in English.

At least I tried. I was in a restaurant in Deauville next to a party of Americans who ordered everything in English and had no trouble at all in making themselves understood, the only French word they used was 'Merci' but they were charming with it.

By the end of the week I was fully acclimatised and sitting outside pavement cafes ordering red wine in French with a Yorkshire accent and eating cheese that smelt like a men's locker room.  Surrounded by stylishly dressed French people who all smoked and drank wine and Ricard in the middle of a working day.

And if I didn't understand the waiter's response and thing's get a bit tense then I had an emergency back up phrase:
'Desole. Je ne parle pas bien la Francais. Parlez-vous l'anglais'?

Sorry. I don't speak much French. Do you speak English'?

Always good to have something to fall back on instead of shrugging and looking blank.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Return of Lemmy.

You know when you watch a TV series and one of those flashback episodes comes on showing earlier episodes?
I hate them, it's a cheap cop out so they don't have to do any work that week if you ask me.

However, I am going to do pretty much the same this week and re-post something from a couple of years ago. Why am I doing this?  Because I am lazy. Enjoy.

It’s 1981 and a bunch of 15 year old lads from Halifax are excited to be out in in the big city. We'd travelled the 10 miles from our hometown by train and are here to see the world’s loudest, dirtiest, drunkest and wartiest band of the 80’s, Motorhead.

Dressed in the NWOBHM uniform of denim jackets with the sleeves torn off with band patches sewn all over them. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was at it’s height and there were more bands than there was time in the day to listen to them all.

I had a large patch sewn on the back of my jacket from the Fly By Night album cover by Rush. I didn’t even like Rush but they were metal so that as reason enough.

We got inside the venue an watched the first two support acts. First up were Lightning Raiders, who quite frankly weren’t going to get anywhere with that name, they sounded like a brand of confectionery.

Then came the forgettable Tank, I can’t comment on these as I don’t remember a thing about them.

The third act were Trust and these were much more interesting. These were a French metal band, the drummer Nicko McBrain joined Iron Maiden when they became massive. Their signature song Anti-social was covered by Anthrax a few years ago.

While these were on we were standing by the sound desk in the middle of the audience when my mate suddenly started pointing excitedly.

Look behind the sound desk, it’s Lemmy he said.

Sure enough there stood the Lemster himself, talking with the sound engineer and watching Trust while swigging a can of Carlsberg Special Brew and chain smoking Marlboros.

We couldn’t concentrate on Trust at this point, Lemmy would have to walk through the crowd to get out of the sound booth so this would give us a chance to get his autograph. The fact that none of us had pen or paper didn't occur to us. 

Sure enough near the end of Trust's set Lemmy stepped out into the crowd . No-one else seemed to notice although I don’t know how, to me he looked about nine feet tall. He made his way through the crowd away from us and we made our move. The biggest and oldest of us decided to get Lemmy’s attention by reaching out to tap him on the shoulder.

As he did so, Lemmy, for reasons known only to himself, turned around and my mate's finger accidentally poked him in the eye.

Lemmy let out a roar and flailed his arms around, spraying special Brew all over us. We did the only sensible thing and panicked, scattering into the crowd with visions of the concert being cancelled due to Lemmy being blinded and ourselves being lynched by enraged Motorheadbangers.

None of us washed our jackets after that, although to be honest we had never washed them before it and had no plans to wash them in the future, not with Lemmy's Special Brew all over them.

So we can say that we poked Lemmy in the eye and got away with it. 

Unless he reads this blog.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Clint Eastwood's French Beach Hut.

Ever heard of a town called Deauville? No, neither had I until just recently and we've just returned from spending a week there. It's in Normandy, France and is just a few miles along the coast from the D-Day landing beaches.

It's a really nice resort town where rich French people go on holiday and everything is expensive. They have a film festival there every year and along the boardwalk next to the beautiful sandy beach are rows of beach huts.

Over the years many big Hollywood stars have rented these beach huts and they get their names painted on the rails. So I had to get a photo of myself outside the hut where Dirty Harry eats his ice cream and stashes his beach ball when he is in town.

I would recommend this town for a holiday but you will need to save up a lot of money and brush up on your French, just shouting at the waiters in English will get you nowhere.

Go ahead, make your stay.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


I know how the human race is going to end. It won't be in a nuclear holocaust with the survivors driving around the irradiated wasteland in spiky cars and wearing leather.

It won't be in a zombie holocaust with smelly dead people shambling around and eating living people, it won't  be a biblical plague or an alien invasion.

No, our eventual fate is that we will become so stupid that we will simply cease being able to function and probably be overtaken by ants or something. 

Have you ever seen a film called Idiocracy? Luke Wilson is a soldier with below average intelligence who volunteers for an experiment to be frozen for a year. However the scientists forget about him and he awakens a hundred years in the future to find that humanity has become so stupid that he is now the cleverest person on the planet.

It looks like we are already well on the way to allowing the thickies to take precedence. There was recently a news article on the BBC saying that the English language was too complicated and needed to be simplified to make it easier for children to learn.
Examples given included the words 'there' and 'their', why have two different spellings when one will do?
Or 'receipt' could be changed to 'reseet', rhubarb could become roobarb.

Now I understand that language is a fluid form and new words are created all the time but why do we need to dumb down the basic structure? There is nothing wrong with the language but rather than asking children to apply themselves and learn it as it is we change it so they don't have to apply themselves too much.

What a load of crap.

It' is similar to the health service spending millions of pounds on bigger ambulances and beds to cope with all the overweight people. Surely the money would be better spent on getting these people to a manageable weight instead of just reacting to the symptoms of the problem.

It is like people no longer take responsibility for themselves and expect someone to come along and take away all the nasty words that they can't be arsed to learn. Then they can sit on their backsides eating takeaway food in front of the TV until their health deteriorates to the extent that a team of six people have to lift their massive carcase into the back of a giant ambulance.

This is a possible vision of the future if we allow the lowest common denominator set the standards. Instead of us dumbing down to their level they should be trying to better themselves.  This is called achievement, something that many people seem to have lost the ability to do.

Jesus, I sound like my dad.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Gay Grenade.

The UK news yesterday was filled with the Government's internal battle over the right of gay people to marry each other.  The Prime Minister and a large number of government ministers want to give gay people the same right to marry as heterosexual people but there is also a vocal section of his party who are against this.

As is always the case there are lots of people who seem to fear that by giving homosexual people the same rights as heterosexual people will further push society into moral decline.
However during the last decade a number of countries have allowed same sex couples to marry such as Argentina, Belgium, France, Canada, Denmark, Portugal, Norway and Spain. These countries have not slid into chaos.

For any of you who are reading this that believe that homosexual people should not have the right to marry then let me ask you a hypothetical question. Imagine that the tables were turned and that society was based on homosexual values instead of heterosexual. Same sex couples were legally allowed to marry in churches or registry offices but heterosexual people were not. How would this make you feel, would you feel like society treated you as a lesser being than the homosexuals? And how would you feel if other people stuck their noses into your life and told you that you must stop being attracted to members of the opposite sex and begin fancying people of your own gender.

Do you see how ridiculous this sounds? I enjoy the company of other men but feel no physical attraction to them. Men are lumpy, hairy things that smell whereas women are soft and smooth and curvy and smell wonderful.  Think about being told you must change your entire sex life on the say so of someone who has no business inflicting their views on you.

Some people are physically attracted to members of their own sex, why is this such a problem? How do other peoples sexual preferences impact on the lives of the disapproving?

There are so many things that are wrong and evil in the world yet instead of trying to deal with this there are many people who obsess over the sex lives of strangers, something that is absolutely nothing to do with them.

If two people of the same sex fall in love and want to commit to each other for the rest of their lives then we should be celebrating in the same way we do when people of the opposite sex do the same thing.
Because at the end of the day, no matter what sex we are attracted to we are all people.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Fanny Magnet.

The first time I was in America I lost count of the number of times  people asked me if I had ever seen the Queen of England or if I lived in London. It soon became apparent that many Americans don't know anything about my country other than the fact that we have a Royal Family who live in London.

I tried telling them that I lived in the north of England and not in the south where London is but this was met with blank looks and people saying 'Huh'?
Americans don't care about mushy peas, cobbled streets, coal mining villages, bleak moorlands or grinding poverty.  They want to see the Queen wearing a crown with so many jewels in it that  even the most blinged-up gangster rapper would consider a bit ostentatious.

So in a blatant piece of band wagon jumping I am going to talk about Royalty in a bid to attract more American readers because I am a shameless hussy.

Prince Harry has been visiting America recently and the streets of Washington are lined with women taking pictures on their mobiles and getting damp around the gusset area at the thought of his royal gingerness.

Harry is great, he fights the Taliban in Afghanistan and plays strip poker in Las Vegas hotels. When Prince William got married Harry looked and acted like a normal bloke at his brothers wedding, whispering 'She's gorgeous' to the groom as Kate walked down the aisle. It isn't hard to imagine him dancing and flirting with the bridesmaids at the reception, jacket off and pint in hand.

When he met Usein Bolt and challenged him to a race he distracted Bolt by getting him to look at something then sprinting down the track while his back was turned leaving Bolt to run after him laughing.

Prince Harry comes across as one of the lads. He is enormously rich and a member of the British Royal Family but he is also a squaddie and enjoys the camaraderie of Army life and isn't afraid to muck in with the rest of his comrades.  They take the piss out of him good naturedly and he takes the piss right back.

Women all over the world fancy him and men can't help but like him.  He fucks up now and again but so do the rest of us and this helps us to relate to him in a way that the rest of the Royal Family don't.  He doesn't have the same aloofness and stiff manners that his family display and you know that if you met him you would probably feel more at ease than if you met his grandma.

I once saw his dad, Prince Charles at the Great Yorkshire Show as he judged a sheep shearing competition. He seemed okay and was a lot shorter than I was expecting.

So there you are my American friends, I have met Royalty and talked about Prince Harry. All the things about England that you guys love.  Now go away and by some Union Jack tea towels.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013


What the hell has been going on here? I go away for a few weeks leaving you lot in charge and look at the state of the bloody place!

That giant baby who runs North Korea is openly threatening nuclear war and being pictured surrounded by military types in hats as big as pizzas.

Groups of gullible, bigoted young men with untidy beards keep springing up all over the place and trying to blow up innocent people just because they don’t subscribe to their lifestyle.

Elderly children’s television presenters who were part of my growing up keep being accused of child abuse. It is like my childhood innocence is being dismantled bit by bit.

What were you lot thinking? I feel like I have gone for the evening to go watch a film and have a nice meal and trusted you to look after the house.
And what do I find when I get back? My car wrapped around a tree, teenagers having sex in my bath tub, the cat has had his fur shaved off and the house is ablaze.

Well this is the last time I leave you with any responsibility, you have not only let me down but you have also let yourselves down.  It looks like I won’t be going anywhere for awhile until you lot have grown up and proved you can be trusted.

Now go to your rooms and have good think about what I have said and I’ll start clearing up the mess.

And welcome back, I've missed you.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Coming this summer to internets everywhere!!! The All New Tony Van Helsing Mystery Theatre!!!

Everyone thought he had dropped from the face of the Earth but in reality he is at a secret training facility in the heart of the Pennines, his head is been filled with shiny new knowledge and his body honed into pert sexiness.

Soon he will be released back into the world and the Mystery Theatre will return, only it will be faster, stronger, scarier and swearier.

Join Van Helsing this summer and you will unravel the mysteries of the Universe, learn the secrets of Love and discover how evil Pandas really are.


You know you want it.

Friday, 15 March 2013

It's Not You, It's Me.

Look, I'm really sorry but I am not going to be around for at least the next four weeks. Some of you may have noticed that I have not being visiting your blogs recently.

This is because I am on a seven week training course for a new job and am currently in my third week of the course.  I am having to learn all kinds of brain aching stuff like law and powers and am coming home at night with homework and falling asleep early due to being knackered.
This week I have been learning self defence and am battered black and blue.

I know what you are thinking, Tony Van Helsing is a soft bastard who can't be bothered spending a few minutes to write a post.  Well sod you! My posts take blood sweat and tears and I would not just burble out the contents of my day like some public diary.  You people deserve better than that and I don't want to short change you.
 If you don't hear from me for the next few weeks then please don't give up on me, I will be back in a few weeks with a whole new job and a shiny new uniform.

Until then my friends, keep up the good work and watch the skies. I promise I will return.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Leave the Dead Alone.

Those of you who have followed me for a while will probably want to stop reading as you will know how I feel about psychics.

Nonetheless I feel compelled to rant again about people who claim to have magic powers that allow them to talk to the dead.  I had a debate with someone recently who had been to see a medium and she was telling me how they were able to find out all sorts of information from the audience that they couldn't possibly know.

I told her that this is done through a process called 'cold reading' where the medium throws out bait into the audience along the lines of 'I'm getting a message from someone whose name begins with P. Has anybody got a P who has passed on recently? No, it could be a B', and so on until they get a bite from an audience member.

A skilled 'medium' will be able to read body language and extract information from people without these people realise they are giving it and even without the audience realising it is happening.

My friend remained unconvinced by my explanation and called me 'closed-minded'.  I I gave this some thought and came to the conclusion that I was not being closed-minded as I was questioning the techniques of the medium and not blindly accepting what they were claiming. Unfortunately I came to this conclusion two days after the debate.

One of the greatest questions humans have is 'Is there life after death'? Entire religions are based around this premise.  So here come mediums claiming that there is life after death, they can prove it as they are talking to dead people.

Just imagine for a moment that you could do what mediums claim to be able to do, that you could talk to the dead.  Would you use this incredible power to prove there is an afterlife to trawl around theatres and clubs, asking for money from the tragically bereaved and lonely?  Would dead people taunt and tease the bereaved by giving obscure messages and only giving their initials?

The answer is no because mediums are liars. Everytime they are asked by a sceptic to prove their powers they say things like they can't switch their powers on and off like a tap.  However they don't seem to have any trouble doing so when they are in front of a paying audience.

Sorry to bang on again about mediums but let's face it, I hate the lying bastards and I when I'm dead I'll bloody well talk to them. They will never want to pretend to speak to the dead again.

Saturday, 2 March 2013


Have you ever watched people running a race and thought that you could never do such a thing? It just seems like too much for such a unfit sack of spuds like myself.  I know that I have thought this many times.

But this morning I ran my first 10k race and it wasn't just any 10k.
This was a race called The Major and is run by British Military Fitness. Basically it is organised by serving British Army soldier and fitness instructors and is through woodland and swamps.

There are twenty obstacles on the route including tunnels where you haver to crawl on your belly through mud and ice cubes, logs across streams that you haver to balance your way across.  Wires with electric currents running through them and barbed wire that have to be crawled under and loads of others.

My wife suggested we both enter as a challenge to ourselves and I have done some training for it but nowhere near enough.  I also invited my cousin along, he runs marathons regularly and has done the Men's Health Survivor race in London. He runs three times a week and is currently on a vegan diet.
Suffice to say he is very fit.

So we all set off in the cold March sunshine and before very long we were up to our waists is stinking  black mud, floundering around and falling into pits that had been dug previously by the soldiers.
It was like a scene from a war film. The guy next to me tripped over a submerged rock and went under, I grabbed him under the arms and pulled him out. Everyone had to help everybody else.

I managed to run the entire course but had lost track of time, I had seen my cousin power ahead fairly early on and lost sight of him and my wifer was further behind me. I lunged over the finish line and collected my meadl and stood waiting for my wife to finish.  To my immense surprise my cousin crossed the line four minutes after me, I had run past him at some point but as everyone was covered in mud I hadn't recognised him.

In all 1,066 people took part in the race.  I came 495th. This to me is an immense achievement and I had no idea I would be able to even run the entire course, let alone finish this well.  What I have learned from this is to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Train for something and you will find that you can achieve what you set out to do.

However I am now covered in cuts and bruises and my knees have swollen up. small price to pay.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I'm Gonna Get Sued.

I was going to talk about how I have a whole new chapter in my life starting next week and am genuinely excited about it. I was even going to talk about how I am off work this week and being all middle aged about it by doing the small repairs around the home that I have been putting off for so long.

But instead of blathering on about how smug and cool I think I am I've decided to have a rant instead.

You can blame McDonald's for this change of tack. I've just watched a TV commercial in which a step father tries to bond with his new step son. Said step son doesn't want to know and slouches around in his hoody, mumbling incomprehensibly and generally behaving the way that all stroppy teenagers do.

But when step dad takes the surly little shit to McDonald's they suddenly bond over a Big Mac meal and a very weak joke. The tag line at the end of the advert states: We all have McDonald's in common'.

I'm starting to lose track of what McDonald's are all about. I thought they were a massive multi-national business spreading across the face of the Earth like a virus, destroying rainforests and local food cultures and small businesses in it's wake.

But I was wrong. It is in fact a benevolent, kindly, pipe smoking uncle that we can turn to for advice or when life gets us down. The next time I go into McDonald's I am going to ask the sixteen year old, minimum wage lad behind the counter how I should cope with the recent death of a much loved relative.
Then I will buy a burger because that is what McDonald's do.
They sell burgers.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Horse Meat and Popes.

What's happening in the world today?  Let's have look.

The Catholic world is shocked as the Pope announces he is resigning.  Well the man is 85 years old so I don't really think it should be that much of a shock.  Why did they make a man in his 80's the Pope anyway, they should have chosen a younger model and that way they could have got a few more years of waving at big crowds out of him.

In the UK the horse meat scandal rumbles on and on. For those of you who haven't heard about this, tests have shown that many budget brands of processed ready meals that are supposed to contain beef have instead got a healthy dollop of horse flesh instead.
There are plenty of countries where horse meat is consumed regularly but over here this is a no no for some reason.
I ate horse in Italy a few years ago, it was a bit tough but quite a strong, beefy taste to it and I quite liked it.
I suppose the issue is that it is not labelled as horse but when people want to only pay £1.50 for a ready meal lasagne they should be thankful it isn't bloody rat meat. Never, ever eat ready meals.
If people want a lasagne they should make their own, it isn't hard. Get a cook book and follow the instructions, that's how I learned. Lazy bastards.

North Korea are playing with their nuclear missiles in what can only be described as a pissing contest. That country scares the shit out of me, watching news footage from North Korea takes me back the the Cold War with ranks of military officers standing in endless lines watching missile parading past. And everywhere there are huge pictures of that slimy looking, fat man-baby that is the new leader.
It looks like Orwell's 1984, scary shit.

Happy trails.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


I was feeling knackered as my plane came into land.  I had been working all night then driven straight from my workplace down to East Midlands Airport and caught a flight to Limoges, France. I hadn't slept in over 30 hours.
I was in Northern France to help one of my oldest and greatest friends who had bought a derelict French farmhouse and I was going to spend a couple of days helping him with the renovation.

He met me at the airport and as I slung my bag in the car he told me that there was something nearby that he wanted to show me before we drove to the farmhouse and as we were in the region this was the best chance to see it.
So we drove to the ghost town of Oradour-sur-Glane.

Let me tell you what happened there on Saturday the 10th of June 1944.
A group of German soldiers of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich surrounded the village and informed the Mayor, Jean Desourteaux that there was to be an identity check and rounded up everyone in the village.
They then told the assembled people that the troops needed to search the village for weapons and explosives and marched the women and children into the church and the men into a nearby barn.

After the inhabitants had been secured the Germans threw a gas bomb into the church. This failed to ignite so  they opened up with their machine guns and hand grenades on the women and children. Then they piled wood on the bodies, many of them still alive, poured on petrol and set fire to them.
Only one person made it out alive, a woman who saw her child machine gunned in front of her but managed to escape by climbing a step ladder and jumping through a high window, despite being shot five times. She described seeing a woman with  a baby try to follow her through the window but they were caught and thrown into the flames.

The soldiers then shot all the men of the village in their legs and while they lay wounded, poured petrol on them and burnt them alive. They then looted the village and came across a number of villagers hiding in their houses. One old man, an invalid and bed ridden was burnt alive in his bed and a baby found in it's cot was baked alive in the bakery oven.
The soldiers then set fire to the rest of the village and left. Six hundred and forty two people died that day.

To this date there has not been an official reason given for this massacre, there was talk of a German general being kidnapped and held in a village in the area but it was not in Oradour and there was no Resistance activity in the village. They say the soldiers had just returned from the horrors of fighting on the Russian Front and had been brutalised by their experiences.

Today the ruins of the Oradour-sur-Glane still stand and the French left the village as it was left by the soldiers as a memorial to the dead. The rusting hulks of burned out cars and farm trucks are on the cobbled street. Through holes in the collapsed walls of houses I could see rusting frying pans in the remains of kitchens and a decaying sewing machine next to a hearth in what used to be a living room.
There is a nearby memorial and a museum where the personal effects of the dead are on display.  Piles of spectacles, wallets and handbags.  Sepia photographs of smiling families.

I am not a spiritual person, I don't believe in gods or ghosts but that empty village did not feel empty, the air felt somehow heavy despite the shining sun and singing birds. Perhaps it was my lack of sleep and the unsettling feeling of being at the scene of a Nazi atrocity, but to me the whole place felt haunted.

I heard on the news yesterday that Germany is re-opening an investigation into the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane.  A little late in the day as many of the soldiers involved are long dead.
Last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day in which we remember the millions killed in the concentration camps and tell ourselves that atrocities must never happen again.

But atrocities happen every day.  In the Middle East and Afghanistan hundreds are killed by extremists in bomb attacks so frequently that instead of shock and horror when we hear about it on the news it has become almost a background noise.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 90's the Serbians and Bosnians celebrated their new found freedom from Communism by reverting back to their old tribal conflicts and slaughtering the very people that they had lived alongside for years.

In the African Congo the civil wars go on and on and rape and mutilation are seen as acceptable forms of warfare.  In fact it is considered a boys rite of passage into manhood to rape a woman.

In Pakistan a grown man shoots a fourteen year old girl in the head, just because she wants to go to school.

We talk about history allowing us to learn from our past mistakes but what we seem to be learning the wrong things

Anyway, have a nice weekend.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Aspirational Cheese.

Who likes cheese? Stupid question, most people like cheese. Even though it is really just milk that has gone manky we eat it by the bucket load.  I had a health check this week and the nurse told me my cholesterol was slightly high, nothing to worry about but maybe I should cut down on my cheese intake a little.  As she put it 'cheese is the devil'.

When I was growing up I would happily eat any old processed cheese, Dairylea cheese triangles, Kraft cheese slices stuck between two slices of white bread and cheap supermarket brand cheese spread lathered on cream crackers.

When I worked as a labourer in my teens we would finish work on Friday and go to the pub every Friday  for a few pints before going home. The pub was called The Union Cross and they would put bowls pickled onions, peanuts and cubes of cheddar cheese on the bar for the drinkers to help themselves.

  We would pick these out of the bowls and eat them while we talked and drank, never once thinking about all the people going to the toilet, not bothering to wash their hands and then eating more of the bar snacks.  They must have been crawling with germs.

These days I am no longer a labourer and instead of going to the pub after work I like a nice bottle of wine now and again and get invited to dinner parties thrown by friends.  At these the hosts prepare all their own food and  very nice it is too. 

Usually after dessert the hosts will serve up cheese and crackers with coffee. There are never Dairylea triangles or bright orange processed cheese slices served.  There is usually a local cheese like Wensleydale  along with Stilton and a soft Brie.

And there is always blue cheese. It sits on the board, festering away like something you would find under a wet log. It stinks to high heaven yet people smear great lumps of it onto crackers and talk about its piquancy and tanginess.
I always end up trying some even though I hate it. It’s covered in mould for goodness sake, you wouldn’t eat mouldy bread so why is this stuff considered a food. Yet I always try some.  I tell myself that I am doing so just to reacquaint myself with how bad it is, as though I can’t believe that people have been duped into eating it.

But the real reason is that I have become a middle class snob.  Bog standard Cheddar and processed cheese slices are now considered cheap and fattening. Now I must embrace the exotic and sophisticated world of really smelly cheese, because the class system demands that we strive for the better things in life.

There is nothing wrong with striving to better myself, it is our instinct to make ourselves as successful as we can be. But when I find myself looking down my nose at cheese I realise how ridiculous I am being.  

I don't like blue cheese and I'm not going to waste my time trying to educate my palate into tolerating the horrible sweaty stuff.  I was much happier eating the cheap, processed cheddar in the pub with my work mates, even though it had piss on it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Quentin Tarantino was being interviewed on the telly the other day. I presume he was talking about his new film but to be honest I wasn't listening to a word he said.  I was too busy staring at his hat.
What was he wearing it for?  He was inside a TV studio under spotlights, he must have been sweating litres so why the need for a hat?

It looked like the sort of hat that kids selling newspapers on New York streets wore in black and white films from the 1930's. Maybe he was wearing the hat to try and look like Samuel L Jackson who has been known to sport similar headgear. The big difference is that Samuel L Jackson would still look cool wearing a paisley dressing gown and fluffy bunny slippers whereas Quentin Tarantino sort of looks like a banana.

I own three hats.  One is a woolly, double lined one that keeps my head warm when hiking in the mountains,  another is woolly hat that I bought at a Diamond Head concert years ago that I wear when running in cold weather and my third is one that my friend bought for me on my birthday and my wife hates.

This is a sort of camouflage baseball cap with a camouflage mesh that hangs under the peak and is supposed to hide my face when hunting.  As I don't go hunting I wear this back to front when hiking in summer to keep the sun off my neck.  My wife says it makes me look as though I should be driving a pick up truck around Alabama while throwing beer cans out of the window and shooting critters.

My argument in my defence is that my three hats serve a purpose, they are protection against the elements.
Whereas celebrities seem to wear hats for hat's sake.  They are a fashion accessory much like carrying a ratty little dog in a handbag or giving their children stupid names.

There seems to come a point when celebrities common sense just switches off and they start looking at hats and thinking how cool and cutting edge they would look in them.  and because they are surrounded by sycophants feeding off their success there is no-one to tell them how stupid they look.

Or maybe I am just a cantankerous, intolerant bastard who looks rubbish in a hat.

I have also put two pictures in my post rather than the usual one as it is a whole new year and I decided to make some changes. I'm spoiling you lot.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Crazy Plane.

Do you remember when the Beastie Boys got famous back in the '80s?  Licensed to Ill was released and suddenly Volkswagen owners where having their car badges stolen by Beastie fans so they could wear them as necklaces.

The media went into one of it's moral hand wringing sessions over the use of women in cages dancing in their underwear in the live shows and the usual blather about the world's youth being corrupted by music was brought out of the cupboard and used as a news item by lazy arsed newspapers who know this sort of thing gets a knee jerk, burn-the-witch response from the masses.

Today the Beastie Boys are seen as accomplished musicians and when Adam Yauch died it was world news and the media outlets that had expressed all the fake moral outrage were publishing respectful obituaries. If you watch the video for Fight for Your Right it is so childish and good natured it is hard to understand why people got so wound up about it in the first place.

But the change in the public's perception of Ozzy Osbourne is the greatest of all.  When I was a teenager Ozzy had just left Black Sabbath and formed his own band with the legendary (and unfortunately dead) Randy Rhoads.  Ozzy was in his full on Prince of Darkness mode back in the '80s and doing ridiculous amounts of booze and drugs.
I saw him live 3 or 4 times and his shows were always brilliant and the media hated him.  Every time they mentioned him they always started with 'Ozzy Osbourne, the rock and roll singer who bites the heads off bats on stage...'
His ludicrous exploits got him banned from many towns and the press had a field day warning us all about the perils of Ozzy.

These days Ozzy is treated like a national treasure.  He is on TV advertising Utterly Butterly, his wife has advertised the Asda supermarket chain though I very much doubt she has ever set foot in one to by some Smart Price beans for Ozzy's tea.  Now there is talk of re-naming Birmingham International Airport Ozzy Osbourne Airport.  This was reported on the BBC with an apparently straight face. There was even a documentary on the BBC over Christmas called 'God Bless Ozzy Osbourne'.

So all these media scares about music tainting youth don't hold much water. Rock music has been around for a good 50 years or more while people have been acting like dickheads toward each other for centuries without needing music to tell them what to do.

If we are going to blame music for having a bad influence on people then we might as well say that Adolf Hitler would have remained a harmless painter if he hadn't fallen under the insidious seduction of oompah music.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Drop and Give me Twenty.

It's a whole new year and the world hasn't ended yet, isn't life grand?  With the new year brings all the weight loss TV shows and  fitness DVD's with various celebrities donning lycra and jumping up and down while shouting us into better health.

My favourite is The Biggest Loser USA. We are a season behind the US over here and I think this is season 11 but I don't care, it's great.  I've watched the British and Australian versions of the show but they can't match the US show.  Bigger budget, better production values, total commitment from the contestants and the trainers make it essential viewing. And being America there is loads of crying.

Over here we have the Hairy Bikers Dieting show.  These are two Geordie blokes who have had a cooking show on TV for years.  They drove up and down the country on motorbikes and where ever they stopped they would cook up some local food. Unfortunately this combination of loads of food and sitting on their arses on motorbikes has made them both fat.

After their wives pointed out that they were taking blood pressure tablets which were just helping them to maintain a lifestyle that had got them into this poor shape in the first place, they decided to join a weight loss group and make healthy food as tasty as possible.

Anyway, my contribution to the new year fitness festivities is to enter the Pain Barrier race.  This is a 10km run through woodland which includes such obstacles as cargo nets, trenches full of chest-deep mud, concrete tunnels half full of freezing water that have to be crawled through and people firing paint balls at the racers.

The fun all happens at the beginning of March so I have two months to get my shit together.  See you in the pain zone.