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01:09pm 01/09/2010
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers
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12:06pm 06/05/2010
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers

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Some old Pink Floyd bullshit  
03:16pm 12/01/2010
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers

Does anyone know a website that easily calculates take-home pay? I've looked around but there's no option on the ones I've looked at to enter my student loan/Cyclescheme deductions.

(I get a £2k payrise over this year and I want to work it out so I can throw it at my credit-card/overdraft/ISA rather than think of it as 'extra money', you see...)

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Fried Chicken Friday!  
11:43am 08/01/2010
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers

Chicken chain art of China 
Chicken chain art of the UK 
Will Self reviews KFC
Why is it so popular? 
KFC Secret Recipe Revealed
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12:06pm 31/12/2009
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers
The '00s brought me two things: my worst ever Christmas present and my worst ever New Year's. (Oh, and my worst ever birthday, but that story's both not seasonal and not something that falls into the look-back-and-laugh category.)

Christmas 2003, and my then-boyfriend of four years was at my house. I was a temp earning £180 per week, most of which was being sucked into my overdraft, but I'd managed to pick out some nice presents with the cash I had and was looking forward to something nice for myself. After unwrapping a spotted top (price £5 - I know this as I asked T to get it for me from the sales as I was out of money, and he wasn't happy about it) there was one thin rectangular parcel left. I turned it to the sellotape side and slit the paper. First revealed was a black book cover with a sticker on the back: 'Help The Aged 29p'. I like charity shop things, so I was intrigued. I ripped off the rest and turned it over to see three very uncomfortable looking cartoon monkeys hanging from a tree and the title 'Living With Irritable Bowel Syndrome'. I looked at T, somewhat confused. 'Well, you mentioned it the other day so I thought you'd be interested!' Slowly it dawned on me that this wasn't a joke present. I said thank you. Because I'm nice.

NYE 1999, and the entire world had gone bonkers about the forthcoming Minellium. I was seventeen, fresh out of failing my Cambridge interview, broken-hearted, listening to The Smiths a lot, and wondering whether culturally everyone had just given up - I've grown irony now - seventeen is a very irony-free age - but I still think '99 was one of the worst years for music ever ever ever. Anyway, I was very depressed and not keen on doing anything for NYE. I've never liked doing anything much on that date - I find with expensive or elaborate nights out the pressure to have a good time doesn't allow you to actually get on with having one - but it was THE MILLENNIUM and Not Doing Anything meant the Y2K bug won. So when my best friend James suggested I went with him to his church social, I decided a more low-key event would be more fun than taking up an invitation to drink in Clitheroe, a night which could only end up in me downing shots of tequila in Rio's Whalley and crying in a toilet that wouldn't lock.

I'd spent younger years at my schoolfriend's church event - it involved foxtrotting, meat and potato pie and was more fun than I usually anticipated. However, this event started with a hat competition - five old ladies with bonnets decorated to resemble the Millennium Dome. The mind blocks out the rest, but I remember as midnight struck, we sat in rows of chairs in front of the Methodist preacher as Cliff Richard's Millennium Prayer played. Afterwards, there were fireworks - I had a new mobile phone for Christmas, which I hadn't actually wanted, and it occured to me that there should be someone to text, but there wasn't.

NYE 2009 seems to be starting fine - I'm at work, and as it's very very quiet, everyone is eating carrot cake and drinking cava. Archie in The Shoe believed that every time one leaves the house, they should first play a good record to set themselves up for the day - despite foul Lord's Prayer themed caterwauling the decade hasn't turned out too shabby. Maybe if it had kicked off to Teenage Kicks, or Well I Wonder, or Why Does It Always Rain On My Overplayed Record, it could have been worse. I think Alan and I should cue up the worst record of the decade once the chimes go...once we decide what that was.
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The truth is I'm not sorry - it's bigger than the both of us  
11:57am 30/12/2009
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers
I've not written here for ages. Damn only having work internet, and everyone wanting to advertise prior to Christmas. The ninnies. So, apologies for the poor writing below, I'm a bit rusty, and like my cupcakes, the words are coming out a bit lumpy when mixed together.


I'm making a compilation CD - well, mp3 folder, the modern age and all that - for my youngest nephew. The older ones listen to bad donk music, whilst he is learning guitar, has grown his hair, wears waistcoats and a Crombie and likes The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Gorillaz, Coldplay and Keane (quiet now: I liked Shed bleedin' Seven at his age). I didn't have a cool older relative to get me into music beyond the charts, and it would be pretty good to do this, I reckon. I feel sorry for him not having John Peel - in a place where everyone listened to Northern House or boybands, record shopping had to be done in the bustling metropolis of Preston, and you were lucky to get the NME before the copy sold out, it was great to have cultural arbiters. Of course, there's music blogs now, which is great for me and unimaginable to my fourteen-year old self. But it's getting exposed to things, even if you hate them, that's necessary. I used to devour the music press - '80s back copies of NME were much prized - and books about new wave to see what I'd missed out on, and at the risk of sounding ancient, NME ceased to be relevant for me once they stopped reviewing HMHB and Hefner and started asking people what their favourite ringtones were, sponsored by Shockwave.

I felt quietly proud when, in countenance to my sister's 'Why did they choose this Machine to be Number 1? What a CRAP song', he replied 'It's good! It's about racism.' I remember being made to feel weird because I didn't listen to Rock FM, had records as well as CDs, worked in a record exchange that didn't have copies of Rock The Dancefloor in it. It wasn't fun, although part of me revelled in it. Rebellion could be achieved by actually loving music, instead of liking it a bit.

The trouble is, at that age I was also very rockist - I didn't know dance music I liked was out there until I was in my late teens, thinking it was all like the stuff played in the fornication sheds in the precinct carpark where my friend got 'licked out' once at 3am. All hip-hop closed my ears, as I automatically thought it would be boring 'sexy music' rather than the interesting or insightful stuff that lurked just beyond The Chart Show's R+B chart - and while I adored Elvis Costello, I didn't 'get' Prince or Springsteen until my mid-twenties. I got records from the library (took out The Bends at 13, didn't get it, but loved it two years later) or taped from the radio; it took a couple of years for me to start appreciating unusual structures and styles. Is a 14yr old Raconteurs fan going to like Mogwai? Belle and Sebastian? Majik Most? Laura Cantrell? Possibly not. I didn't 'get' The Smiths until I was at least 15 - you need to have had a good dose of teen angst not to think that Morrissey is a moaning minnie, and like reading The Catcher in The Rye, do it too late and you feel it's passed you by already. And I'd love to stick some Easy Star All-Stars on there - the Toots and the Maytals version of Let Down is bizarrely life-affirming given the source material - but what of reggae? I forget that not everyone had Madness to grow up on before dipping toes into ska, dub and bluebeat.

My tastes of late have got somewhat esoteric - my favourite band are probably still The Fall, my favourite albums are probably still The Italian Flag, Tel Aviv, Rattlesnakes, Steve McQueen etc. etc. and so on, but since I got ill a couple of years ago I've found listening to music hard and veer between midwestern indie-rock and outsider music. Plus, there's a fifteen year age gap - I want to stick in the songs that made me feel understood, allied with, a little bit bigger, but is someone born in 1995 going to appreciate 'What's on the box?/Man About The House with Paula Wilcox' or just think it's a bit crap really?

I need suggestions. And if there's anything I might have missed myself this year and need in my life, then let me know too.
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Mr blobby wiv da angles an Michel Jackson. 4eva in our harts.  
12:45pm 12/11/2009
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers

I've never fancied doing urban exploration myself - not just because I'm far too clumsy to wend my way into derelict buildings without incident or accident, but because there's something incredibly melancholy about certain types of abandoned places. When places appear left quickly, personal possessions left behind, signs of life in notes still hopefully pinned to walls, they seem to teem with invisible ghosts of happier times. And as someone who finds abandoned toys intrinsically sad (all they want is to make children smile! No wonder I cried at Toy Story 2) the shots of closed theme parks I've been looking at today have been the most depressing thing I've seen in a long time.

I started looking at the wonderful archive of brochures on this site - see the zoo that once stood near my last house in Manchester down Longsight, where a park now stands - as I'm interested generally in ephemera, and particularly FrontierLand in Morecambe caught my eye. I remember going here as a child - there is a photograph of me wearing my dad's tweed deerstalker and smiling while he put his arm round me in front of the wooden rollercoaster - possibly in 1987, the year it became a Western-themed funpark to bring in more visitors. I returned to Morecambe in 2004 and was sad to see the decline. Blackpool still thrives due to the huge tourist trade from the Pleasure Beach and more lately hen nights, but Morecambe suffered from the availability of cheap foreign holidays and now the beautiful Midland Hotel lay closed, Frontierland shuttered and all left were seafront amusement arcades, their machines casting multicoloured glow over harsh young faces. Frontierland apparently briefly became a Mr Blobby themed theme park. I'd love to see Morecambe become an Aldeburgh of the North, but it probably won't happen.

I used to go to Southport a lot with my dad and when my nephews were small. My dad hated Blackpool, thinking it too tacky and commercialised, and as he was a bargain fan the huge discount centre there was a big draw as he could stock up on things like pickled sliced onions. (Opposite is a supermarket - possibly a Waitrose - that looks like a Victorian plant conservatory.) We never went to Southport Zoo, but we did go to the theme park a lot, and I was suprised to see it was now closed. Seeing the remains of places I last visited, grumpy with a book, when I was twenty gives me a strange feeling.

I never went to American Adventure, but as someone who was in thrall to cultural imperialism liked American things and really wanted to go there, I alwas wanted to. It seemed the next best thing. Sadly, that too is now gone -[info]jennywooyay   sent me the link with the comment 'now it looks like Silent Hill'.

However, sometimes dereliction looks not so much like the abandonment of places once full of life as much as nature trying to hide the abhorrent: see here.

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I just found out that Emlyn Hughes is dead  
10:41am 09/11/2009
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers
I started university in 2000, which doesn't seem long ago at all. I met a few people through the university society I was in who had started in 1991. 1991 seemed like ONE MILLION YEARS AGO. No internet. No Chris Moyles. No Topshop (not that I had access to, anyway) or garage music. Floppy haircuts, James T-shirts, students buying their clothes from Oxfam instead of Firetrap and Acupuncture, The Word. Another era.

Yesterday, I realised that to a new student of 2009, 2000 is as long ago as 1991 was to me then. I wonder how dated 2000 feels to them.

It has been:
- twenty years since Fool's Gold, Automatic, Unfaithful, Heathers
- fifteen since Parklife, Robson and Jerome, East 17, Clerks
- eleven since Furbys
- ten since The Matrix
- nine since Big Brother (though this surprises me in that how long it's been around)
- Bananarama are as old now as The Beatles were in 1989
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It's a kind of male play-fighting  
09:18am 02/11/2009
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers

I used to think The Rules, Women are from Jupiter and books of a similar ilk were bad enough. Using spurious biology to reduce all men to cavemen with credit cards who could communicate with no more finesse than blurting 'Me want sex!' to frosty-knickered ladies instructed to use their sexuality as a bargaining chip to achieve the Ultimate Goal of a ring on the finger and a bun in the oven. Because that's what relationships are - The Krypton Factor with genital based challenges.

However, given a magazine article I read a while ago about a woman who was pressuring her hapless boyfriend To Commit after nine months because she wanted a baby...well, maybe gender relations are a little bit different over the pond. Then I picked up the Metro this morning, and reading this article made me feel as though not just romance but now the workplace is some kind of 9 to 5 starring Doris Day.
"'It's basically a travel guide for women,' explains Nelson. 'You do better in France if you know a little about the language and the culture and it's the same in the office.' " Now, 25% of all women are in lower-level admin roles, compared with the enormous dominance of men in senior positions. There are a lot of reasons behind this - from fitting work around childbirth and childcare to the male dominance that still exists in many spheres - and there are many ways in which this can and should change. Fitting men and women into pre-supposed gender roles and patterns is not going to do it. However, I hear they let us out of the typing pool these days so let's see what our authors suggest.

It's the same with e-mails, urges Brown. 'Men focus on the content, the words. They are literal communicators. Women focus on the socio-emotional, or feelings dimension. They read between the lines.' Oh dear. I knew I was doing something wrong by telling agencies that they can't show a cat being electrocuted because it reminded me of dear old Fred, awwww, fluffy kitties....dribble...sorry, where was I?

'We all know first impressions count, so make sure you dress for success and not access,' says Nelson. 'I once saw a board-level PA at a Fortune 50 company bend over and reveal her thong and birth control patch. It was more information than I needed.'  Noted. I'll go and get sterlised, then. Wouldn't want to make those nasty men think I'm one of those available women because I'm using contraception.

'Women are guilty of smiley face syndrome,' says Nelson. 'They do excessive smiling as if to ingratiate themselves. Combine that with the fact many of the speech patterns assumed by women are high pitched and they giggle a lot - you can see why it's hard to be taken seriously in the boardroom.  OK. I'm a second alto, and a miserable one at that. I must be doing something right here. Hooray!

'It's also not feminine to be ambitious or get angry,' stresses Nelson. 'Anger is a natural human emotion and in contrast it's one that men display publicly. When a woman gets angry she's either seen as having PMS or being menopausal, so it's important to fight fair.'
I'm sorry, I can't even snark here. I'm too mollified at trying to picture this world where any emotion is hormonal and any ambition is unfeminine.

Masculinity is more entrenched as there's that hidden homophobic issue. If a young man shows his feminine side he's called a sissy at school, but when a young girl is called a tomboy it's more acceptable.'  This is entirely true, and it's not going to be changed by perpetuating stereotypes of feminine and masculine. Having said that, my colleague goes to our agency party each year in full drag, and I wouldn't dare call him a sissy. Those earrings could whip my eye out.

OK, so I work in the media rather than a more corporate environment, and I don't doubt that women are accused of being a bit troublesome or hormonal as sex-discrimination cases seem to suggest it happens more often than you think. However, if women are to get a foothold in corporate or traditionally male-dominated worlds (and conversely, men in caring professions) then we could do without books like this that treat female businesspeople as tourists in some wacky Land of the Men.

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My mother is visiting me in London next month.  
05:49pm 29/10/2009
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers

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  Colour Supplement
My shiny shiny website
The internet is just Teletext for poseurs.
<Twitter pun>
My favourite waste of time...
Buy a tee. Get me points. Hurrah!
Mum, can I have a rabbit?
Stuff Alan looks at inbetween playing TF2
Pretty pretty clothings
Commentary on the mags we love to hate
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