29 March 2008

Where is Ebbsfleet?

"makes me a sort of Roman Abramovich or Thaksin Shinawatra without their billions, I suppose!...This is certainly a major achievement given that Ebbsfleet, as a place, does not exist!"

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog http://dw-perspectives.blogspot.com/2007/12/i-am-boss.html about Ebbsfleet United who were 'purchased' by the My Football Club phenomena whereby 29,000 members became part owner of the club. I am one of those 29,000 owners which makes me a sort of Roman Abramovich or Thaksin Shinawatra without their billions, I suppose!

Anyway, Ebbsfleet United have created club history, not by singing karaoke, but by reaching the FA Trophy final where they will play Torquay United (home to the fabled Basil Fawlty) at the 'new' Wembley. This is certainly a major achievement given that Ebbsfleet, as a place, does not exist! So who is this mysterious club that has the backing of 29,000 people including yours truly?

Ebbsfleet were known as Gravesend and Northfleet before changing their name. The idea behind the change was to 'fit in' with the rejuvenation of the area and the construction of the Ebbsfleet Eurostar railway connection. So there will be an 'Ebbsfleet' one day but it currently does not exist! To make matters even more foggy Ebbsfleet play in Northfleet which is a fair few miles away from the redevelopment area.

Gravesend is situated in North Kent on the banks of the River Thames. Despite having had a maritime history, especially as a port, it is now better known as the burial place of the Princess Pocahontas. Yes - the real Princess and not the fictional Walt Disney one. Only thing is the officials are not 100% certain where she is buried in the churchyard of St George's Church!

I suppose the other main item of note is that Gravesend and surrounding areas are home to a large population of Sikhs. In fact, about 10% of the population is Sikh. Needless to say all the local taxi drivers are of the same religion. The high level of Indians in the area has ensured a plethora of good curry houses. They are indeed much better than the fast food wares of McDonalds and the like.

Gravesend has musical culture as well. When Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was in the Russian army he was posted to Gravesend where he wrote part of his first symphony. Aside from this I cannot recall any other famous musician (not that I personally remember Rimsky-Korsakov as I am not THAT old!).

So there it is. A small snapshot of the area that I know really well. Oh, and by the way, Gravesend is not the end place for lots of graves from the middle ages either! I'll let you, the reader, Google that and find out the true meaning.

Finally, good luck to Liam Daish and the boys in the final v Torquay in May. Here's hoping for a victory - GO THE FLEET!

25 March 2008

The Prince of Parody

"The first thought was 'how did he find the stage'? Presumably Sharon, his wife, helped him with this task...He was actually remembering the words to all his songs without any assistance"

Recently the phone rang at work. Nothing unusual about that really, except for once it was not work related. On the other side of the line (presumably cordless given today's technology) was one of my rock buddies. My buddy was able to get free tickets to the Ozzy Osbourne concert for the following Tuesday. 'Did I want to go?' was the question asked of me. Within a split second the answer was 'yes'.

Now I am not an Ozzy fan but I did know some of his songs from the early eighties. If I had said no then the option was 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' on television (thankfully Gordon hasn't seen me in the kitchen lately as he might have real nightmares!). Given that I was going to hear the 'F' word repeated frequently from Messrs Ramsay and Osbourne I thought it would be better to hear it live rather than in between loads of advertisements on good ol' Channel 9.

Now Ozzy is the self confessed 'Prince of Darkness'. He even bit the head off a bat many moons and drug trips ago. Would he still have this persona? Would he be able to remember the words to the songs? and more importantly would he be able to find his way to the Acer Arena for the show?

I have to admit that I found 'The Osbournes' to be one of the funniest reality shows of all time. It was hilarious to see this rock Goliath stumble and mumble his way throughout the series. Mind you, I thought that 'Stan' by Eminem was a comedy song when I first heard it as I couldn't take it seriously! Whatever you think about Ozzy as a reality television star, the point remains that it re-ignited his career with a more youthful audience.

So onto the show. We got there just as the support act was finishing. By the sound of them I hadn't missed too much. The first thing I noticed was the age of the fans. It seemed to range from 65 down to 9 years old. I even had a family with their pre-teen son and daughter sitting next to me. Presumably the children had been inoculated against the 'F' word and had done their school homework already. The other noticeable thing was the type of fan. There were loads of rockers, a few bikies, goths and even a few punks. To this day I am not sure of the appeal of Ozzy to the punk brethren but there you go.

The arena went dark. On the big screen were a number of scenes from television shows and films. Ozzy appeared in all of them by acting out many sexual innuendos from shows like 'The Sopranos' and films such as 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. I felt that the family's children next to me were getting a school lesson that was normally reserved for adults! The screen went blank, the curtain fell and there in front of us was an ageing 59 year old dressed in black with the making of a good shaped beer gut!

The first thought was 'how did he find the stage'? Presumably Sharon, his wife, helped him with this task. Ozzy shuffled to the mic and echoed the 'F' word! We knew then that the show was going to be good. The backing band were superb and the lead guitar work of Zakk Wylde was awesome. I had wanted to see Zakk for a while and he didn't disappoint. Mind you, he looks like a mountain man who spends too much time hunting bear in the Adirondacks though!

The next amazing thing was that Ozzy didn't have an autocue. He was actually remembering the words to all his songs without any assistance. This was very impressive. In fact, this could be the next wonder of the world! For some reason Ozzy had a fetish for water. Every few minutes he would potter to the side of the stage and throw water over the front of the crowd. Not sure that this qualified for an activity worthy of the 'Prince of Darkness' but possibly the 'Prince of Parody'.

I couldn't take Ozzy seriously and things got even more funny when Ozzy tried to jump up in the air. For some reason the legs would not leave the stage! In the end Ozzy just tightly gripped the mic stand and imitated jumping.

To be fair to Ozzy, he gave a great show and tried his hardest to get the fans involved in between the buckets of water and the 'F' word. He sang a couple of Black Sabbath songs with the encore of 'Paranoid' being the best song of the night. The group were superb and Zakk shone bright on the night. So the 'Prince of Parody' came and went and not one bat was glimpsed, or indeed harmed the whole night.

15 March 2008

Lights out!

"in the show the 'Biggest Loser' is the loser actually the contestants or the viewer?...No sport on television. Hooray, say half the world’s population. All the men, however, say ‘noooooo’"

Us human's are funny creatures. We really are. On face value we are very outgoing but deep down we are myopic and secular. We only want to know what's in it for us without really caring about what the future holds. I am sure that everyone at most times is like this. We are continuously wrapped up in a material world always wanting the latest gadgets, etc.

Well, brothers and sisters (putting on my preaching hat now), we can do something about changing the way we are. On March 29th the World Wildlife Fund has arranged for the second annual Earth hour event. What this is is a global initiative for people in cities living all around the world to turn off their lights for one hour. This will be a symbolic gesture to let everyone know that we need to get serious about global warming, etc. Also, it gives everyone a chance to save money on their electricity bills!

Last year it was held in Sydney and was a great success. The candles came out for that one hour which took me back to the good old power cuts we used to get in the 1970's when I was really really young. Last year it was a lot of fun not having to watch television, use a 'puter or play some music. What it meant was that people had to, dare I say it, communicate with their partners, children, friends, pet stick insect etc. Quite a challenge these days!

So enough of the preaching (hat now removed). After all, this blog is supposed to be humerous and, at times, well and truly wacky! So I have listed a number of things that we can all do without for that one hour on March 29th 2008:

  • No reality shows on television. After all, in the show the 'Biggest Loser' is the loser actually the contestants or the viewer? You decide.
  • Unable to listen to the latest Celine Dion cd! Enough said methinks!!
  • Won’t be able to read the latest trashy women’s weekly magazine. I am sure that Brad and Angelina won’t mind if you don’t find out about their life for at least another 60 minutes!
  • No sport on television. Hooray, say half the world’s population. All the men, however, say ‘noooooo’.
  • No Internet access. For some this may be too hard to do, but getting away from Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, YouTube etc may be a good thing after all.
  • Unable to microwave a frozen dinner. Good, make a sandwich by candlelight or just drink a nice not so cold beer! – us English are used to this.
  • No hot water for a shower or bath. Just wait for 60 minutes and stop whingeing!
  • Missing the live updates from Ougadougo of the world tiddlywinks championships. If you miss them that much then you seriously need to get a life!

So as you can see a lot of fun can be yours on this day. If you have any other ideas as to what we won't be missing during this hour then let me know. If you want to participate then click on the following link for further info:

http://www.earthhour.org/user/fozE

PS: Ougadougo is the capital of Burkina Faso.



12 March 2008

I think my phone is possessed!

"I have to admit that shopping for a mobile phone is harder that looking for a car!..."yes, the phone is possessed" he said nervously"

Recently my mobile phone (or cell phone for my US readers) stopped working properly. What happened was that I could make and receive calls, even hear the person on the other line but they couldn't hear me. Some might say that this was a good thing! However, seeing as I use my mobile phone for work reasons as well as for personal use there was only one thing I could do. Buy a new mobile phone.

To be honest my old phone had served the cause well for the past 3.5 years and had probably exceeded its life cycle. Anyway, i traipsed off to the shops on the lookout for a phone that would suit my needs. I have to admit that shopping for a mobile phone is harder that looking for a car! There are so many styles to choose from. There's flip tops, ones that act as pseudo computers, others that act as satellite navigation devices and so on. What I was looking for was one that had all the main features - phone, camera, radio, MMS etc.

I ended up purchasing a Nokia 5070 as it suited my needs. Also, it fitted my price range. I left the store and quickly hurried back to work (it was my lunch break) to play with my new toy. As everyone knows men love gadgets. I am no exception to that. In fact, I felt like a child on Christmas Day after seeing all the presents that Santa has left. By the way Santa, where's my Porsche!!

The phone looked good and was easy to use so I started charging it. I didn't start using it until I got home. However, when I made some phone calls I noticed strange things were happening. Every time I rang someone the phone would bleep and the number '6' would appear many times on the phone screen. Quite often at the end of the call I would have 666. As you Book of Revelation readers would know its a significant number!

The strange thing was that if people rang me then the phone was fine. When I rang them a row of sixes appeared. After a while the numbers '5' and '4' appeared too. Phew, I thought, at least it's not that cursed then! The obvious thing was to take the phone back to the shop where I bought it from and get another one.

So, during another lunch break, I made my way back to the shop and informed the shop assistant that my phone was possessed. He looked at me and gave a polite laugh. It was obvious that he didn't believe me. Anyway, he took the phone to the back of the store for further inspection. He seemed to be gone ages and I wondered what could be going on. After about fifteen minutes he returned.

By now he looked a paler colour than he was when he first served me. "yes, the phone is possessed" he said nervously. "We'll give you a new one".

As he was doing this he asked me a few questions about the numbers that appeared. I replied that they seemed random but normally it was just the number 6 that appeared many times. Then the assistant leaned forward and in a whisper like voice said "have you ever seen the keypads move as the numbers appear on the screen?" I was startled and told him "no". He then gave me my new phone and I left the shop.

On the way back to work I started wondering if maybe the shop assistant had seen the keypads move on their own. I shrugged this thought off and walked faster as I wanted to play with my new fully functional toy!