30 December 2005


On the left, I know this will amaze some of you, we have a picture - not of an actual mountain gorilla but of a plastic gorilla moneybox - anatomically accurate in every fine detail - available in large supermarkets right now under the brand name of "Brad the Gorilla". The recommended US retail price is just $4.99 (UK £2.90). One unique feature of this designer money box is the rear slot - not shown in the photograph - into this accommodating slot, owners are invited to insert coins of any size or denomination - activating a typical gorilla alarm cry - "AA - AA - AA - AAAIIIIEEE!"
Buy yours now while stocks last!

29 December 2005


Having seen interspersed smileys in Friday's Web, I was thinking of making an amusing tale with smileys but it seemed like such hard work so instead I came up with this random display of selected smileys. Wonder how Smiley Central make money? It's all a mystery to me.
Knuckle Head I Promise Way Too Happy Famous 5 Famous 35 Scrooge Captured Bad Breath Fly Swatter Insane Insane Insane Insane

28 December 2005


One day Jane met Tarzan in the jungle. She was very attracted to him and during her questions about his life she asked him how he managed for sex.
"What's that?" he asked.
She explained to him what sex was and he said "Oh, I use a hole in the trunk of a tree".
Horrified, she said, "Tarzan you have it all wrong but I will show you how to do it properly".
She took off her clothes, laid down on the ground and spread her legs wide. "Here," she said,"You must put it in here".
Tarzan removed his loincloth, stepped closer and then gave her an almighty kick in the crotch. Jane rolled around in agony. Eventually she managed to gasp, "What the hell did you do that for?"
"Just checking for bees" said Tarzan.

I hope that this slightly risqué merriment didn't cause undue offence to readers of this blog. If it did - tough! Do you know any better jokes? Please post one.

22 December 2005


It's closing in. Already we have passed the winter solstice. Last night, at midnight, I bought a frozen turkey at the 24hr "Tesco". It's thawing in the workshop I dug out under the ground floor of our house. Wherever you go people wish you a happy Christmas and shake your hand or smile. Tonight at "The Banner" public house there was an extension till eleven thirty so I downed two more pints of beer than I had been expecting and chatted with Craig's new love - a lady from Budapest, Hungary.
I swear this world is getting smaller - shrivelling up like a Christmas orange in February. It used to be that travel was exceptional - now it is so passé. When I was a child in my rural primary school, I was the only and I mean only kid who had ever been out of England. Nowadays, you ask a carpenter where he went for his honeymoon and he says Brazil, Mexico, Mauritius or Hawaii. Back then a pub would go quiet as you related tales of the far Pacific of Grecian Isles - now it's like - so what? - ever been to Antarctica - ever lived with a hilltribe in Borneo - ever met six-fingered hillbillies in Pennsylvania - ever witnessed the Northern Lights in the far north of Norway?
I worry about the diversity of this planet. Once we were all pretty different. Travelling was about genuine discovery. Last June I was in the Czech Republic - Brno to be precise - and as I looked down into the valley beyond the railway station there I saw the unmistakable red neon sign of another "Tesco" invasion. Hey! Thanks for letting us in to the lovely Czech Republic, now give us your money and let us suck the lifeblood out of budding local businesses. Call-centres take us to distant Indian cities and starving Ethiopians dress in Manchester United or New York Yankees shirts.
Christmas. But no Christ and no mass. Just the passing of another year and the solstice marking the start of a new year. What will happen in these next twelve months? Who knows? Tsunamis, earthquakes, terrorist outrages, great films, sporting successes, The World Cup in Germany, personal ups and downs. Who knows? To be alive that's the real bonus - with health, no worries about where the next meal is coming from, the prospect of reaching out to touch your dreams.

20 December 2005


There are so many of these online personality quizzes around and I guess that Retarded Rugrat in British Columbia is the world's authority. So I picked one of her recommended online quizzes only to discover that of all Disney's characters I am most like Bambi! This is pure bull! Nobody who has ever met me would say I was like Bambi! Of all Disney characters I think I am most like Principal Crosby Strickler in the much underrated "Teacher's Pet" or perhaps Gepetto in "Pinnochio". Below, find out which character you are allegedly most like.... and then pick another of your own!
Bambi Result
Which DISNEY character are you most like?
brought to you by Quizilla

17 December 2005


So here I am in Avatar form, walking down a winding country path with my cat Boris in tow.
Avatar? Here are are a couple of definitions:-
1. "Among people working on virtual reality and cyberspace interfaces, an avatar is an icon or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality."

Yahoo! Avatars

2. "In Hinduism, an avatar is a god made visibly present, especially in a human form. The Buddha is considered an avatar of the god Vishnu."

Until today, I thought an "avatar" might be rather like a fighter pilot "Chocks away! Bandit at six o' clock. Isn't it fine to be an avatar high above the clouds! Oh look, there's Brad the Gorilla down there. Aim! Fire! " Oh what a shame - another silverback bites the dust!

14 December 2005


Back in 1974, politicians messed about with England's traditional county boundaries, forgetting important matters such as allegiance, identity, history, regional pride. I will never forgive them for dumping most of East Yorkshire into the new county of Humberside. That arrangement has now been scrapped and after years of pressure we have our lovely East Riding back. However, Yorkshire is still not as it was. The map below shows the ancient Yorkshire boundaries superimposed over the new economic-governmental zones that masquerade as counties. We want Barnoldswick back and Middlesborough and all those harshly beautiful Pennine villages that fat London politicians stole from us, like Empire builders drawing straight lines to make new "countries" in Africa - totally disregarding culture, heritage and traditional enmities. They think we have forgotten their crime but we haven't. I have a dream that one day Yorkshire people will rise up from their chains, reclaim their ancient county boundaries and shout from every hilltop - "Freedom! Freedom! Good God Almighty - Free at last!"

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Yorkshire:-

"Yorkshire is the largest ancient county of England, covering some 6,000 square miles with a population of some five million. It is traditionally divided into West, North and East Ridings (from Old Norse þriðing, "third part", a legacy of the area's ninth century Scandinavian settlers). The county town, York, is not part of any riding.
The emblem of Yorkshire is the
White Rose of the House of York, and there is a Yorkshire Day celebrated on August 1. Amongst the celebrations there is a civic gathering of Lord Mayors, Mayors and other Civic Heads from across the county and convened by the Yorkshire Society, in 2004 it was held in Leeds and in 2005 it was held in Bradford. The people of Penistone will be hosting the Civic gathering in 2006. There is also an "anthem" for the county in the form of the folk song "On Ilkla Moor Baht'at
" (- On Ilkley Moor without a Hat).
The Yorkshire
dialect is colloquially known as "Tyke", and this is also the "affectionate" (!) term for a Yorkshireman, though the term is not universally used by all Yorkshiremen and is virtually non-existent on the North Riding coastline. The social stereotype of a Yorkshireman has a tendency to include such accessories as a flat cap and a
whippet. Among Yorkshire's unique traditions is the Long Sword dance, a traditional dance not found elsewhere in England. More recently, Yorkshire has been home to its own genre of techno music, Yorkshire Bleeps and Bass."

11 December 2005


Well we (Hull City) beat Sheffield Wednesday one-nil yesterday so I have earned "bragging rights" over any Wednesday supporters I encounter this week - including students in the school where I work. Very useful. The game itself left much to be desired. The first half was so dull that half of the crowd of 22,000 fell asleep and others read their programmes. There were no real shots on goal and only one corner conceded. The referee was whistle-happy, regularly pulling up the play instead of giving advantage to the team in possession. At halftime, Fiona fed us some delicious homemade flapjack.

The second half was marginally better. We brought on two subs - Price and Elliot and gradually they had an impact. Elliot met a cross from the right brilliantly to send a powerful looping header over Weaver's flailing arms. Goal! Up out of our seats with the orgasmic delight but then whistle - bloody offside! How could that be? We were dead opposite the action - there was no offside! Then three minutes later, Jason Price with his Afro hair powered through the middle to hoof the ball into the net - justice was done! Hull City 1 Sheff Wed 0 - All sing along together:- "We love you City we do! We love you City we do! We love you City we do! Hull City we love you!"
That puts us fifteenth in the Championship with twenty six points. Having had back on back promotions, this season was all about just staying up and fingers crossed, we are edging that way now. Sorry (hee-hee!) to blogger Retarded Rugrat in Vancouver - your Owls just weren't good enough.

9 December 2005


Our humble Sheffield hovel:-
"More pudding! We need more pudding. " - recent comment on this site posted by the world famous Seattle-based blogger Brad the Gorilla. Well, when Brad demands pudding it must be delivered.
Usually my blog entries have a specific subject - be it Ireland or God, George Best or Beer. This evening I thought I would just ramble along, see what nonsense emerges from my Hewlett Packard keyboard.
My belly is currently sated after consuming a Chinese takeaway from the New Hing Lung on Abbeydale Road - highly recommended. Fried rice, chicken chow mein, chicken foo yung, sweet and sour chicken and chicken chop suey - a Friday night feast. Last evening I took my brother Paul out with my son Ian for an authentic Kashmiri curry at the imaginativetly titled Kashmir Curry Centre on Spital Hill. I love that place - it's so basic - formica table tops - spoons to eat with - tacky pictures on the walls - and because it is a Muslim-run establishment, they don't serve alcohol so you have to cross the road to the "East House" pub and return with your pints of foaming Wentworth Ale - dodging buses and taxis but never spilling a drop. No "scapa" in the "East House"! The nan bread in the Kashmir is "to die for" (what a dumb expression!) - homemade, light and fluffy with dappled patterns from the gas rings.
Have you ever heard those expressions - "I like my food" or "He/She likes her food" ? I think these remarks are also pretty dumb because 99.5% of the world's population like their food and the other 0.5% who have eating disorders probably also like it but have psychological issues with it. A much better expression is, "You are what you eat" - chemically and biologically this is true - so perhaps tomorrow I will begin to take on the racial characteristics of the offspring of a Kashmiri warrior and a Shanghai maiden. I'm fantasising - more likely, I'll still be the same old Yorkshire pudding - a little bit crusty with plenty of room for gravy in the middle.
World Cup draw tonight. I wonder who England will get. Our team promises so much and our Premier League is surely the most exciting league in the world but we never seem to really crack the code on the international stage. In Wayne Rooney we have someone who could be the best player on the planet and around him there are other superb players like Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and, on his day, David "Golden Balls" Beckham. Talking of football, Shirley and I are off to Hull tomorrow to see The Tigers take on Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship. "Come on you Huuulll!" I hope we stuff them like we did at Hillsborough last year. That was one great night.
Life goes on. One more week at work and then two weeks Christmas vacation. I never want to go away anywhere at Christmas. It's a lovely time. Warm fire. Sleeping late. Aromas from the kitchen. Pigs in blankets. Goodwill in the pub. My wife and kids with me. Boris curling up on my lap. Reading a good book and this year, what could be better than papering the dining room ceiling on rickety stepladders? Ah well that's before I go to fetch my ancient mum from the old people's residential home in Beverley - just two nights back in the bosom of her family. I know she'll like that. She was angling for it last time I saw her. It's the least we can do.
So that was more pudding Sir Brad and Lady Friday, Nonny, Freethinker, George and all the other cyberpeople I have met in the hidden valleys of Blogworld. Finally, a favourite Yorkshire saying of mine - "All the world is queer save thee and me and even thou art a little queer!"
-: Shirley in Rome, October 05

1 December 2005


It's almost ten years since I first discovered the Internet. How this baby has grown! And every time I log in I'm still thrilled. This evening, I have been looking at old pictures of Bakersfield, California, checking out hotels in Madrid - Spain and reading reports about England's most successful primary schools. It's like a window on the world. I often say to others that science fiction never foresaw anything quite as amazing as the Internet we now know so well.
Early Internet adventures included forrays into chatrooms from which I was frequently expelled by moralistic moderators. In 1998, I remember counselling a suicidal woman in New York - trying to get her to see that it is possible to emerge from the darkest shadows that life casts upon us. Every new day can be a new beginning. I don't know what happened to her - I lost her somewhere in the tangled worldwide web.
Now there's blogging. Sometimes I tell friends and acquaintances that I am into blogging and some of them have absolutely no idea what I mean. Blog? What's that? To me easy blogging is another wonderful extension of the Internet. I guess I have always been a frustrated writer and blogging allows me to write things and get them published in a professional-looking form without cost or very much trouble. It's so easy.
You could spend hours checking out other blogs from around the world. Every blog is different and they all reveal interesting things about how other people live and how they see life. Of course, the Internet and computerisation have always been led by America so it is no surprise that Blogworld has a high American population.
I have enjoyed reading "Friday's Web" (North Carolina) and "Free Thought By A Free Thinker" (San Francisco), "Brad The Gorilla" (Seattle) and "Hanging Hope on A Head's Up 1973 Penny" (Georgia) along with dozens of other blogs - "Blog by George", "Zandrea", "Retarded Rugrat", "And I'm Reading This Because..." (Sacramento Ca). As I say every blog is different. They have made me laugh, think, rage and occasionally, even though I am a tough old Yorkshire Pudding, shed a couple of tears. We are the citizens of Blogworld. We want to be noticed. We want to connect with others. We want to be participants rather than voyeurs. Thanks to all my fellow bloggers out there for showing me bits of your lives and educating me in ways our parents and grandparents could never have travelled.
They say that the internet was conceived and nourished by the American military machine but now it's in the public domain and we are exploiting it, subverting it, stretching its horizons. This is no longer Planet Earth, this is Blogworld!