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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

June 27, 2006

Owen Hargreaves

I make a brief return to let you know about this important FIFA World Cup news.

Owen Hargreaves Blog.

Thanks to Betty for the link.

June 20, 2006


i was going to append this to my excellent world cup report, but felt it deserved a post of its own.

they're back! haribo happy cola bottles are back in the shops in luvverly 350g bags! i know because i've just scored a bag! and scoffed the lot! and now i feel sick!

holyhoses, your official yummy happy cola bottles blog

world cup report

simon's post made me think of pete de freitas, the drummer of echo & the bunnymen, who was killed on the 14th of june, 1989. he was riding his ducatti motorbike along an 'a' road when some half-blind half-dead old biddy pulled out of a side road in her shitty little car and smashed him up. old people shouldn't be allowed to drive. no-one over 40 anyway.

thinking of pete de freitas made me think of the lovely andriy shevchenko, who played and scored for the ukraine yesterday in their 4-0 humiliation of saudi arabia. andriy has got pete de freitas eyes, you see. sort of. we're halfway through the cup of the world now, 32 games played, 32 games to play.

big ron is covering the world cup for uktv, though i don't know what that means.

it looks like owen hargreaves might be starting for engerland this evening. you know, i'm big enough to give the lad one more chance. let's see what he can do.

there's been a lot of talk about who we might meet in the last 16. do we want germany or ecuador? just because people don't know anything about ecuador, they seem to think they will be easier. what a load of wank. i've seen them, and they can play a bit. i'd rather meet germany now than in the final or something, when they're really excited.

little michael owen was almost crying the other night as he claimed, "it's not me that's crap, it's the rest of the team!" i'm big enough to give the lad one more chance, so let's see if he can stick a couple in the onion bag this pm.

gonna have me a time with a poor man's woman

did anyone else see neil diamond in concert on bbc four on friday night? strange bloke. hard to like, as a person, i would have thought. wonder what it's like to be him. to have been neil diamond.

as i was watching, i was put in mind of that complete cunt richard ashcroft. their vocal styles are amazingly similar. i can really do without all that mama stuff.

June 16, 2006

coupe du monde

cristiano ronaldo of portugal is the gay pin-up boy of the world cup, apparently. how fucking unoriginal. i've always had a soft spot for andrei shevchenko, myself. although i'm not gay. nothing wrong with being gay, of course, but i happen not to be so. if i were gay (which i'm not), andrei could have me anytime he wanted. you could sort of get lost in his beautiful eyes.

my vote for worst commentator goes to peter drury. they're all bloody awful, but the itv ones tend to be worse because they have to keep on selling the game to you when it's obviously a crap game. the bbc already have your money so they can acknowledge the crap, to a degree.

and don't even mention the "expert summarisers."

i miss big ron. i know he said some really stupid and awful things, but surely he shouldn't be punished forever. the man was/is a fucking genius.

June 08, 2006


Reading Simon's earlier post about the Aurora reminded me of my own experience, It was something I'd wanted to witness since I'd first seen it on TV as a teenager. It was on my favourite show at the time 'Northern Exposure' (did I really say show? I meant program, sorry).

We (me and my girlfriend) planned a trip around Norway, starting off in the capital, Oslo, in the south and ending in Tromso, in the north via the beautiful Lofoten islands Lofoten
and a touch of whale watching. The trip was planned over the summer while my girlfriend was recovering from a nasty operation. It was a fun thing to plan while recovering and gave her something to really look forward to once fit and well. We would set out at the end of October, in order to catch the Orcas on their way in to the Fjords while still having enough daylight in the north to be able to, well, see stuff! And also we'd be in a good position to see the Aurora. To cut a long story short, we didn't see a thing. For two weeks Norway had borrowed cloud from all over Europe, or so it seemed. We'd even arrived in a time of high activity, so a single cloudless night would have shown us the lights, even as far south as Oslo. It wasn't to happen. The only faint glimpse we got was on the way home over Oslo from the plane window. Not to worry, we loved Norway so we'd be back.

Snowboarding became my next favourite hobby, beating guitar playing and photography to the top spot. So over the Christmas and New Year break we'd head once again to Norway with the premise of getting some practice in on the slopes and hopefully, hopefully a chance to see the New Year in with the Northern Lights. Once again we'd be let down, low activity and cloud made sure it wouldn't happen, we saw plenty of lights illuminating the sky, but that was more to do with the crazy Norwegians love of fireworks. I've really never seen so many private displays in one go, the whole of Norway was lit up by gun powder. Mad!

Anyway, finally I was lucky enough to get a third chance in March this year as we'd decided to try snowboarding away from the usual crowds of the Alps. This time we'd head for Lapalnd, northern Finland. It was here that I finally got my first chance to see the aurora. The days were bright and cloudless and cold, very cold. It was -24ºC first thing in the morning. That's pretty dam cold, but it didn't seem as bad a you'd imagine. The nights stayed the same, barely a cloud in the sky, perfect Aurora weather.

The setting was amazing, everything was just right, just how I wanted it to be. A snow covered winter wonderland, crisp and clean. Hardly anybody around, this was going to be great. I was lying face up in the middle of a frozen lake with very little in the way of light polution from the village nearby. I had all the clothes on I owned, my eyelashes covered in ice and my bogies frozen, but I was quite warm inside my jacket. Frozen The sky filled with a greenish glow, the shapes moved and twisted, like time lapse cloud photography. As the activity wasn't high we only saw the 'green' show, but for a whole week I got to check it out every night. It was close to magic and for me it was a dream come true. Ah!

Something about official and football and at Holy Hoses!

Beginnings, Endings, the Turning of the Wheel

I honestly don't know how this is going to pan out really. In my previous employment, I was - you may have detected - a more or less full-time blogger. I was so "efficient" at my work that I could more or less just browse the innernet and blog full-time. Obviously, it wasn't me doing this. When I say "I", I mean "a friend of a friend".

Sometimes this browsing of the internet was work-related. Quite a lot of it, in fact. I can say this with an honest heart, because I no longer visit around 90% of the web sites I used to frequent. Just don't bother with them. There was a phase of my life, it's clear now, when I was all about Apple computers. This started in 1996 and started to tail off two or three years ago when a little bit of the world-weary "seen it all before" entered my thinking. It's not just that I've lost interest in the world of Apple, I genuinely think they're not as good, or as much fun, as they used to be. It's a bit like a Southern Rock band, after the first couple of brilliant records, and then it's not fun anymore, and all the songs are about the record company and "being on the road."

For example, I found iMovie 2, back in the 18h Century of computing, a joy to use. I've said this before. It was a joy to use, but subsequent versions are not as good, they're more like everyone else's software: things go wrong, it's buggy, and it works more slowly, even though the machine you are running it on is 5x faster (at least) than the one you ran version 2 on. It's a paradox, something to do with what Simon is referring to below. The business model, the marketing cycle: these things don't have anything to do with making things better. They have to do with generating revenue and keeping people employed.

It's a huge difference. Maybe, around the time of iMovie 2, someone at Apple really believed that the software was so good that it would increase the market share of the company. In reality, they've realised that most of their sales growth and revenue comes from existing customers. Which means upgrades. And upgrades, in general, make things worse, not better.

But you don't need me to tell you that.

What I'm trying to say is, life for me has undergone a big change. I've walked away from one career and towards another. My hours are going to be different, and my circumstances are going to be radically different. It was with some joy that I realised today that I will no longer spend hours and hours of sitting in an (airconditioned) office in front of a computer display. When I was doing it, I made the best of the situation, which is why blogging was invented.

But now I'll be in classrooms, writing on whiteboards, strolling up and down between desks, getting 11-16 year olds (and maybe at some point 17 and 18 year olds) to think about things and express themselves. I won't be computering as much. And I certainly won't be doing as much blogging.

Even in my period of unemploy, I've noticed that I don't really have as much to say as I did when I was computering full time. I said to Roy, it's a bit of a public/private split. When I'm sitting home alone, there's less of the public me available for things like blogging. The introvert takes over: the one who doesn't need to talk to people so much, and can happily while away time doing and thinking about other things.

I've been trying to keep it up. But I've realised that I have way too many blogs, and that I no longer have enough public self to spread around.

So if I do blog, it'll be over at the quiet backwater of Maximum Bob, or the Book Reviews blog. I'll probably steer clear of Guitargas, because I'm going to be earning peanuts for at least a year, and don't want to drive myself insane with desire for things I can't have.

I'm not announcing a retirement, just facing facts. I'm going to tidy this garage/studio at the weekend, and get it into a state that encourages me to make music, and chuck out all the paraphernalia of job applications and the accrued mess of months of pottering around. Doubtless the other Holyhoses guys will keep you entertained, but do stop by Maximum Bob now and then if you find yourself missing my dulcet tones. Those of you who email me occasionally, I will of course reply, but maybe not as instantly as one might if one (or a friend of one's friend) was sitting in an office bored out of one's skull.

June 07, 2006

A message from your sponsor

Well, I had my first full day in the school I'm going to be teaching in come September.
Overall, I think it was okay.
Really hot, though.
Laughably, I'd forgotten just how hot a classroom gets in the summer.
Didn't do a Tony Blair, thankfully, and sweat through my shirt at the armipits.

Couldn't believe how ridiculously short most of the girls were wearing their uniform skirts.
Under normal circumstances, I'd make no comment, but it hardly seems a practical way to wear them.
Perhaps their parents don't care, or have given up trying to influence them.

Before I start training officially in September, I have to do another five days at least.
Learning strategies for controlling behaviour is the main thing.
Often, the kids pick up on subtle cues and it's interesting to see their different attitudes to different teachers.
Going forward, I might do some actual teaching after I've observed a few more lessons.


nice to see a bit of subtlety in the world's terrorists. like a lot of people, i was convinced something bad was going to happen yesterday, what with the 06-06-06 configuration of datage.

well done, terrorists.

remember that holyhoses is your world cup blog.

not long now

can you hear all that flapping? it's the flags i've attached to my burberry baseball cap.

i'm pleased to tell you that the doctors have given me the all-clear, i'm match-fit and raring to go, so you can look forward to regular world cup reports from my living-room, friends' living-rooms, and possibly even a few pubs. i'll be right there where the action is, bringing you all the news as it happens.

remember that holyhoses is your world cup blog.

June 06, 2006

Marketing Morons Infest Radio Bloke

Grr! Regular listeners to BBC Radio Five Live will have detected that - in every sports bulletin - the presenter has to say something like, "Don't forget that Five Live is your World Cup Station, with every game live."

It does not sound spontaneous. It sounds like something they've been told to say every time they report on some aspect of the World Cup. It may be my imagination, but I thought I detected a little bit of shit-eating weary cynicism in Peter Allen's tone yesterday, when some cub reporter was trying to whip up some hyped excitement about the England team arriving at their hotel. You could hear the cogs ticking over in Allen's mind. Is this actually news? He can see his short-term future: reading news bulletins about Rooney's foot, what Rio had for breakfast, and what the hotel pool is like.

Somewhere in the bowels of the BBC some nurk who did a marketing degree has issued an edict that all sports reports have to include the words, "We're your World Cup Station," and, I tell you what, it makes me fucking mad. I look forward to the actual football, along with many others, but I resent to my very soul every attempt to shove a meaningless marketing message down my throat. It makes me want to smash things up.

June 05, 2006

Footie footie footie

Is it just me or is the quadrennial trotting-out of 1966 and all that just getting a little bit too toe-curlingly embarrassing by now? How a home side with a home crowd and some easily-swayed match officials won a tournament by playing the aerial game and hacking the truly talented players on other teams to death forty years ago strikes me these days as being a little like the fat Marlon Brando in a kaftan being wheeled in front of a camera for the sake of a cameo and a few headlines in the movie magazines. And don't get me started on that fucking dog. How many dramas and documentaries has that incy wincy little story about a mongrel finding a trophy under a bush been stretched out to now? It's a bit like Zoe Wannamaker's stretched face in Doctor Who, innit? Dog. Bush. Trophy. How many more ways can you tell it?

Luton Airport is hell on Earth, but that appears not to have deterred the fatties from turning out to wave our overpaid and largely crocked team away.

I was in France for part of the last world cup, and it's safe to say that the country in 2002 was in a likewise state of frenzy. Then again, it had only been 4 years since les Bleus won it in front of their home crowd. The French were a little bit like we were in 1970, pretty well convinced they still had the best team in the world, only to see them exit, too early, after performing like a bunch of spoiled primadonnas who hated each other's guts. Why a succession of French coaches haven't detected that Trezuget hates Henry and will not pass the ball his way - ever - is beyond my ability to comprehend.

France 2006 is a different place. Far from celebrating their multi-ethnic heroes, they're fighting each other in the streets of Paris and Les Bleus are a lot less visible. It was eight years ago, after all, and nobody thinks that France will win this time. They've got over it.

Whereas we haven't. Or rather, the multi-channel 24-hour British media haven't, so they've warmed over the corpse of Bobby Moore and stuck him in front of a camera to mumble a few lines, like Brando leaning on the shoulder of Johnny Depp. Somebody let some imbecile loose with a copy of Photoshop for this week's Radio Times cover, and he's stuck the heads of current squad members on the famous 1966 victory tableau. It's complete rubbish, in just about every way I can think of.

New Book Review

It's not all recycled stuff over at Bob's Book Reviews�, you know. I just posted up a (long) review of three (count 'em) John Le Carré novels.

June 04, 2006

Home thoughts from abroad

windy_beach_06, originally uploaded by mcmrbt.

We just spent a week staying in a house in St. Cyprien, in the Rousillon. Behind you, you've got mountains; in front of you, the sea.

The first couple of days it was hot, but then the tramontane wind started to blow, and though it remained warm (typically 24°C or 75°F in the shade), there were days when it gusted to 100kph (60mph), so it was hardly the weather for lounging on the beach doing nothing.

But the kids, as ever, didn't care what the weather was like. They just loved being on the beach. On the day this photo was taken, it was blowing such a gale that the beach - apart from us - was completely deserted. There were cars parked along the front, but people were huddled in cafés and bars.

We went down and sat next to the sea and got sandblasted while the kids ran up and down screaming at the top of their lungs and having the time of their lives. I risked my camera to the hurtling sands and grabbed some shots. Sand got everywhere: your pockets filled, and the packet of biscuits we took was hopelessly inundated. Fun though.

Other days, we sat on the beach at Collioure down the coast. The main beach there is in a sheltered bay, and it was well shielded from the wind. No sand, though, so the kids had to make do with stones, skipping them in the water or building sea defences. Collioure's a beautiful place, and the panoramic views from the road as you drive in are fantastic. I heard some British woman talking about buying a flat there, though she couldn't even pronounce the name of the village.

Apart from the weather, main blots on the landscape were illness. First day, arriving at Heathrow, Didi was sick. We put it down to travel sickness and played it down, not wanting her to decide she was going to feel sick every time we got in the car. She was okay on the plane (British Airways to Barcelona, much more civilised than EasyJet, and the tickets were still fairly cheap), but then as we set off in the hire car (Ford Focus: not at all bad) she was sick two or three times more.

Bless her, she was okay by the end of the day, and we thought no more of it till the Monday, when I woke up with what I can only describe as dysentery. Whereas she was sick and recovered quickly, my problem lingered until Friday. Dosed up on Immodium, I was basically okay, but had No Appetite which was Fucking Annoying. I was so off my food that I didn't even want the Buckler from the fridge. I was weak as the proverbial kitten, too, so a walk round a market left me feeling in need of a lie down.

So that was me. And then CJ woke up on Thursday and up-chucked, so she spent most of the day lying on the couch watching CBBC on the Satellite telly. Finally, another of our party woke up on Friday with the same thing, and then my wife felt queasy as we arrived back at Heathrow. Though, being a bit of a rat, she wasn't actually sick.

Reckon I lost some weight though, so it's not all bad! More photos on Flickr, for the interested.

June 03, 2006

Terror Suspects Protest Innocence

I only really caught wind of this story when I flew back in to the UK this morning, but it was indeed a strange coincidence that on the plane I finished reading John Le Carré's Absolute Friends which ends on a chilling note that makes you view this whole story with a great deal more suspicion than usual (or, I should say, even more than usual).

At the end of the book (yes, I know it's fiction, but it so has the ring of truth), an anti-terrorist operation in Germany purportedly blows the lid on a terrorist training school, leaving two suspects dead. The media faithfully reports that extremists have been unearthed and foiled in their plans. Except, of course (it being Le Carré), the whole operation, including the "terror school" itself is a put-up job, funded by the extravagantly funded Born Again Oil Junta that controls Homeland Security, and the two dead suspects are innocent dupes, both of whom had previously served as intelligence officers for the British.

The whole point, in the novel, being to scare the bejesus out of the reluctant Germans (and hopefully the French) and bring them into the fold. True to form, the French dismiss it all as les bollocks and will have none of it. Good for them, and good for anyone who listens to the news of this sort of thing and doesn't take it all at face value.

Panasonic TUCTH100 PVR revisted

Early in May, my old PVR failed, and I replaced it with the aforementioned Panachronic model. I was happy/not happy with it to varying degrees. Read my full thoughts here.

This afternoon I took it back to John Lewis and swapped it for a Digifusion model, the same as I had before. Better the devil you know, in this case. Why did I take it back?

I've always found its interface clunky and slow, a software problem. Not properly thought through, and not well executed. Things I took for granted with the Digifusion (like adding a few minutes to the end of a scheduled recording) were very difficult to achieve with the Panasonic. Selecting the channels you wanted to see (favourites) was just a meaningless exercise on the Pana, and never worked as it should. And Fast-Forwarding was inconveniently pitched at either a slow 3x (which looked more like 2x) or 12x plus, with no happy medium.

So there was that. And then there was the time I set it to record House and Grey's Anatomy, and it froze up and appeared to have recorded 11 hours of the same channel. Never mind, I thought. I wanted the first two hours at least. Only it turned out the 11 hour block was a mere 3 minutes long.

And then there was the time when I went on holiday last week, having filled its 24 recording slots with planned events... And got back today to find it had frozen up on BBC2 some time last Saturday and had recorded NOTHING all week long. I missed Doctor Who, two episodes of Prison Break, another week of NYPD Blue, and lots of other stuff... sigh. And we're not even going to mention the dysentery I got on holiday, or the 100 kph winds.*

So back to the shop it went. The Digifusion is not perfect, but its operating system is more responsive and when you push a button on its ugly remote, something actually happens.

*I exaggerate. A bit.