Friday, 30 December 2016

A Musical 2016

In 2016, we lost several musical icons; Prince, David Bowie, Rick Parfitt, Greg Lake, Keith Emerson, Glen Frey, Leonard Cohen and even George Michael.

I hope they all rest in peace.

From a personal perspective,  I have consolidated my collection with new recordings by some of my favourite artists but have also discovered a new artist in the genre of Progressive Metal and he has blown me away with his raw talent.

The year started off with Steven Wilson releasing an extended player to keep fans ticking over while he works on new material. The album is called and contains previously unreleased songs that didn’t quite make it on his last two albums. The song Happiness III, in my previous post, appears on the album so I won’t repeat it again.

Next, Progressive Metal giants Dream Theater released a colossal new album called The Astonishing and it is truly astonishing because it is a huge rock opera featuring 34 songs lasting well over two hours. Here is something called The Gift Of Music, which even features a gospel choir:

Dutch Symphonic Metal band Delain also released a new album, with the strange title, Moonbathers. The final song on the album is a beautiful song called The Monarch that wouldn’t be out of place as part of a movie soundtrack:

I also revisited a Progressive Rock band from Poland, called Riverside. What is sad about this band is that now, just as I have completed my collection of their albums, I discovered that their guitarist Piotr Grudzinski  died of a cardiac arrest at the young age of just 40 years old – yet another sad loss from 2016. Here is a song called Egoist Hedonist:

And now to my discovery; Devin Townsend. I have actually seen him live once as lead vocals for the legendary guitarist Steve Vai way back in the late 1980s. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this fiery young Canadian is a prolific and extremely talented multi-instrumentalist with the ability to write a wide range of styles of music, from ambient rock to extreme Progressive Metal with everything in between including, bizarrely, country rock (which I’m not that keen on to be honest). Most of his songs are brilliant, weird, funny and epic.

Here are a couple of songs from some of his albums I have bought this year. First, March of the Poozers:

The next one is called War:

Devin also released a new album this year called Transcendence. Here is an amazing song called Stormbending:

However, there is one album that he released way back in 2009 that is my absolute favourite. I love every single song on the album. The album is called Addicted! and is amazing. Here are a couple of songs. first, the title track, an amazing heavy metal song:

Next, a wonderful song called Hyperdrive! Featuring the amazing Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals:

Devin Townsend’s back catalogue is immense and I shall be dipping into it more in 2017.

And if you didn’t believe me about country rock, here is an example:

I’m looking forward to 2017 and hope it is a great year musically as well as for everything else.

Happy New Year Everybody

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Goodbye 2016

I normally look back with at least some fondness on years as they go by but this year is an exception.

I won’t be sad to add 2016 to the annals of history. It’s not been all bad but certain things have happened that could affect our lives in the next few years.

As usual I will complete my annual goodbye meme and maybe all will become clear (though I am sure you can guess what I am talking about).

This could be a long one – so here goes – dive in with me:

1.What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I went to a Burns night celebration in January and found myself being flung around a dance floor by all manner of strange women as part of a ceilidh with a stomach full of haggis. It was great fun.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I was going to pursue more 30 day challenges but decided against it because I was a little too busy during the first few months of the year. I may have another go in 2017.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my uncle Paul died after suffering for a year with lung cancer. Also, my lovely little hellcat died suddenly.

5. What countries did you visit?

For holidays, this year, we stayed in Europe, visiting Barcelona and Malaga in Spain and Nice in France.

A famous cathedral in Barcelona that is still not finished.
A beautiful sunset in Malaga
Bastillle Day fireworks in Nice before tragedy struck

For work, I visited China again, this time to the beautiful city of Shanghai (though to be honest I didn’t see much of it).

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

I think I’d like to have a little more happiness and a little less rage. Due to the negative events in 2016, I spent a lot of time feeling angry and, unlike my usual self, slightly depressed with what’s been going on. There has been too much negativity so my main aim is to dismiss that and actively search for positivity in 2017.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

July 14th will remain etched in my mind because of the events that occurred in Nice while I was on holiday. You can read about it here.

It was meant to be a public celebration of Bastille Day and instead, because of one psychopath it all turned to shit. If events had taken a different turn it could have been far worse.

June 23rd also stands out as the day that the United Kingdom took leave of its senses and voted to leave the EU. I have ranted mercilessly about this since that fateful day.

On a lighter note, I had another reunion with my old university friends on November 19th in London. It was great to see my old mates again.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Nothing leaps to mind, although I have kind of continued plugging away at my novel, which incidentally remains close to being finished but needs a massive amount of work for me to be happy with it. 

Also, I’ve plugged away at Spanish and managed to impress Mrs PM’s mother in Barcelona by actually having simple conversations with people. I am seriously thinking about going on a proper course this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My tolerance levels have been depleted and as a result my negativity, usually dormant, has been rampant. Even a week’s holiday in Malaga didn’t really help because around that time, my cat died.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully no. That would have been the last straw.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I revisited my childhood and invested in a PS4. As well as playing games, it serves as a backup for watching TV.

 12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

As usual, I award Plastic Mancunian Knighthoods to those heroes who dedicate their lives to helping others without wanting the plaudits that many more famous people crave.

I salute you all - you know who you are.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Oh my God! Where do I begin?

Donald Trump’s blatant lies and misogyny have been a particular low point but I am far angrier about the blatant lies that were told on both sides of the EU referendum debate. In particular, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage have totally pissed me off just hearing their outrageous lies.

What I want to see in 2017 is the total absence of Nigel Farage from my television and in the media. I don’t want to hear his opinions on anything anymore. I am trying my best not to swear as I type and in the interests of positivity I won’t.

I just hope he goes away and now he has conned the British public surely he can.

Pity I can’t say the same for Donald Trump.

What a couple of *******
 14. Where did most of your money go?

My house and holidays.

 15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Nothing overly excited me this year apart from going on holiday.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

It’s ironic that the song that reminds me of 2016 is called Happiness III by the brilliant Steven Wilson.

Still, I love the song and it is a massive earworm, with a really catchy chorus. I think you will like it too.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

Sadly I’m sadder, fatter but possibly slightly richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I’d written more to be honest. God knows there has been enough material this year. I will rectify that in 2017 as I am planning a 31 day blogathon in January and I aim to finish the first draft of my appalling novel.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I hadn’t been so angry with politicians and politics in general. The bastards aren’t worth it.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?

Exactly the same as last year and this time I shall kick 2016 in the nuts and welcome 2017 with open arms and a big sloppy kiss.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?

I am already in love – so yes.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

I think this year it has to be Sons of Anarchy, a box set that I watched throughout the year. 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I didn’t think it was possible to dislike Nigel Farage any more than I did at the start of 2016. But I do. He can add that to his list of dubious achievements this year.

This conceited, arrogant hypocritical liar is the personification for Brexit as far as I am concerned and, if I were unfortunate enough to ever cross his path, I would seriously consider abandoning my non-violent nature by punching him in his smug face.

He has overtaken Piers Morgan in my list of people I truly dislike – that is some achievement.

Kissed by the world's ugliest frog!!!
24. What was the best book you read?

I thoroughly enjoyed a two book series by Dan Simmons called Illium and Olympos that combined futuristic science fiction with the siege of Troy. A brilliant concept and an amazing read.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I will reveal all in a later post.

26. What did you want and get?

Nothing really. Madness prevailed in 2016 so I didn’t even fair that well mentally either.

27. What did you want and not get?

I wanted the UK to remain in the EU and we stupidly voted for Brexit.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I loved Captain America: Civil War. So, yes, another super hero movie.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Mrs PM took me to the Cotswolds for a lovely weekend break and much needed escape from reality for a couple of days.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Totally non-existent.

32. What kept you sane?

Mrs PM as usual.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Actually, I’ve developed quite a liking for Morena Baccarin. Fancy is too strong a word though.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Brexit by some distance... closely followed by the farcical US election.

35. Who did you miss?

I miss my uncle Paul.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve met a few new people this year and most of them were and are very nice people.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Never ever, ever, ever believe a single word that comes out of the fetid mouth of any politician.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more

Friday, 16 December 2016

Thank God It's Christmas

Let’s go forward in time to a history lesson at school, say in the year 2066. The conversation will be:

Teacher: Johnny. Can you tell me when …

Johnny: 2016.

Teacher: But I hadn’t finished.

Johnny: I know. But it happened in 2016 – that was the year that everything happened.

Here’s something else I heard.

FACT: 2016 will be one second longer than 2015.


I will not look back on 2016 with fondness at all. There are many reasons for this most of which are political. We have all witnessed a new trend in political debate on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, where lies abound and post-truth politics is rampaging across the world like a mad beast.

And let’s not forget the legendary people who have died this year, people like David Bowie and Prince amongst others.

Also, I lost my uncle this year as well as my hellcat Liquorice who suddenly dropped dead in the summer. I miss them both.

However, as we approach the end of the year, and since its Christmas, I think it’s time to be more positive, generally. I have finished work for 2016 now and I want to enjoy the last couple of weeks with an optimistic outlook. Of course, I will be reviewing the year just after Christmas but I can let you into a secret – my resolution this year is to try to cut down on ranting and have a much more enjoyable year next year, whatever the hell Brexit throws at me or whatever trouble ensues when Donald Trump finally gets his hands on the Presidential seal.

The first thing I am going to do is consign the following people to Room 101, where everything hellish lives:

David Cameron, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson from the UK, all of whom have made me rant mercilessly this year and who I hold personally responsible for Brexit.

And from the other side of the Atlantic, I would like to also put the following people into Room 101 for equally pissing me off:

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Kanye West.

I don’t know how the US will cope with their president elect suffering Piers Morgan in Room 101 but I am sure you will cope, my friends.

Anyway, no more negativity.

It’s Christmas and we should all rejoice in a time of good year to all men (apart from those I have just locked away forever).

In the past, I have written alternative lyrics for famous Christmas songs so this year I will do the same again. Here are my past efforts:

Jingle Bells

Twelve Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas Everybody 

This time my victim is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Dave, the Mancunian blogger, 
Had a giant monkey's nose
And if you ever saw him
You’d laugh at his choice of clothes

He had a Christmas jumper
And a very silly hat
And, thanks to all the turkey,
He was looking very fat

Then one rainy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say:
“Dave your belly’s such a sight
Won’t you drive my sleigh tonight?”

Dave is now the new Santa
With a giant bushy beard
Delivering all your presents
Most of which are very weird

This may not be my last post before Christmas but I think now is a good time to wish you all:

Merry Christmas

May Father Christmas (Santa Claus if you are American) bring you all the gifts you want.

By the way, kids, the above lyrics are not true, just a figment of my warped imagination.

Imagine seeing a fat monkey with a beard in your house on Christmas Eve.

Stranger things gave happened.

Friday, 9 December 2016


One of the more common phrases I’ve started using in the past few years is “You’re a child”

I am not talking to children when I say this, nor am I insulting the person to whom I am speaking; it is all to do with relativity, i.e. our relative ages.

My oldest friends are all around my age or older. The rest are mostly younger. At work recently, one lad was beating himself up about his age and younger colleagues, sensing blood in the water, did their best to pour flames on his despair.

As I watched this from afar, I found myself starting to feel the inner frustration that only age can bring until finally I had to act.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” I yelled across the office. "When you’re over 50, sure, you can start contemplating what life is like for an older man. But until then, stop whining. You’re still in your thirties; YOU'RE A BLOODY CHILD.”

Laughter erupted and insults were hurled my way about my own age, deflecting attention from this youngster so that he could wallow in self-pity at the prospect of entering his forties.

Part of me would LOVE to be his age again; yet, paradoxically, the other part is absolutely delighted that I am sitting comfortably in my mid-fifties. Now that may sound strange to youngsters (and by that I mean those under fifty), but it’s true.

I have wandered this planet for fifty four years, some of it on my hands and knees, when I was a toddler or inebriated in my twenties, and loved almost all of it. My brain is full of experiences that youngsters today cannot really appreciate. However, despite the jokes, they do actually appreciate it, I think.

Here is an example.

A couple of really young colleagues from work have formed a quiz team at a local pub. My own son is also part of that quiz team. All of them are in their twenties. Until recently, they weren’t doing very well at all. At the end of the quiz, the quiz master usually announces the top three only and they had not featured in that lofty position.

The next day at work, I walked into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and two of them were discussing the previous night’s defeat. One of them went to university with my son, hence the reason my son comes to the quiz too.

“Those questions were really hard,” one of them said. “How are we supposed to know who was a Prime Minister in the 1970’s or who starred in a film in 1956!”

I asked what the questions were and then, to their amazement, answered them.

“You should come to the quiz and join our team,” said one of them.

“Nah,” I replied.

Soon afterwards, I got a text from my son, asking me to be part of the team.

“Come on,” he said. “Show us how much you know!”

Reluctantly I agreed to go and found myself sitting around a table with people who were half my age and younger. On that first week, we finished one point outside the top three – a lofty position for them.

The next week we tied for first place – and I won the tie-break question meaning that we had WON! Our prize was a certificate giving us money off food and drink on our next visit. I have now turned up four times to the quiz and we have won TWICE now, the most recent victory coming on Wednesday of this week. Since I have been part of the team we have a 50% success rate,

They are now almost begging me to turn up every week.

To be fair, it isn’t just me; it is the age range. I have no idea about some of the question being asked, particularly questions about celebrities, pop music of the 2000’s onwards and knowledge about the latest crazes. However, my brain is full of golden knowledge nuggets that I have collected over the years and I am very strong on older stuff.

One thing saddened and amazed me the other week at the quiz. The question was:

“Which comedian released a song called “Funky Moped” in 1975?

I immediately said “Jasper Carrott”.

Now I appreciate that foreign readers may not have heard of him, but he was a very famous comedian from Birmingham from the early 1970’s, probably until the mid to late 1990’s. I’m originally from Walsall, near Birmingham, so I know Jasper Carrott very well and have actually seen him live. He is very funny and his Birmingham accent reminds me of my home town.

Not one of the other members of my quiz team had heard of him.

“WHAT???” I said incredulously. Aware that I might give the answer away, I starting hissing at them like a snake with a frustrated whisper.


“SSSSHHHH!!” they implored. “You’ll give the answer away.”

I didn’t care. I ranted in a silent hissing whisper for about five minutes, almost causing us to miss the next question.

The other teams must have thought that we were impersonating a group of deranged anacondas!

I was appalled, so much so that I have mentioned it to people my age who are equally amazed that the youngsters of today have forgotten or never heard of one of the best British comedians of the past few decades.

To be fair, they have also been amazed that I have never heard of various other modern celebrities, comedians included.

It’s all relative you see.

Never mind, at least between us we stand a great chance of winning on quiz night.

Mind you, that doesn’t stop my own 23 year old son hurling ageist abuse at me. Last week we were in Liverpool, where I went to university. We passed a pub called The Swan Inn that I and fellow rock music lovers had frequented in the early 1980’s because it had great beer and a jukebox that played heavy metal classics.

“Look at that!”  I exclaimed. “I was in there drinking beer and listening to Iron Maiden in my youth.”

“Really,” he said, looking at the sign. “It was founded in 1898. Were you there for the first opening night?”

This is what I have to put up with, dear reader. I don’t really mind. What I do mind, is that Jasper Carrott is lost on the youth of today.

He is still around today so I would like to make sure that my quiz team know who he is. Here he is discussing, coincidentally, growing old in the 1990s.

I hope you can understand his accent.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Duck Face

I learned something last week from a bunch of young people and I can’t believe that I’ve never heard of it before.

I am talking about the duck face, an expression that is used by people, usually females, to appear sexy. I know that some women do this, but I have always called it the trout pout.

The idea that the woman concerned seductively pushes out here lips as if she is about to kiss you. The young man who pointed it out, showed me numerous examples, mainly on his dating phone app, Tinder, with most women standing there holding a phone, having taken a selfie in the mirror, from above while shaping their body such that they appear to be thinner.

He moaned about it because having looked at so many duck faces, he couldn’t actually tell how attractive the women really were.

What has happened to the world?

In the past, photographs of women used to show them with an attractive natural looking smile on their faces in a largely natural pose. Personally I would like to see a woman smiling or laughing in a natural pose than to see her pouting her lips with her hand on her hip and her legs crossed in a kind of surreal posture that looks like a human teapot.

If I were young, free and single I wouldn’t want to date a woman whose only photo made her look weird. Imagine meeting her in a bar based solely on a duck face photo; I probably wouldn’t recognise her unless she pouted and then I’d expect her first word to be “QUACK!”.

I blame the cult of celebrity.

Many actresses use the trout pout and the same pose when they are on the red carpet at some stupid award ceremony. In fact, it’s not just photographs. A lot of actresses pout at every opportunity when acting in a movie or a TV programme. Imagine a scene in a restaurant and the leading man is chatting to his leading lady. As she listens to his romantic words, she pouts like a trout as listens – after all, she has to look good, doesn’t she? I would love it if a waiter came up at that point and said “We have two specials today; duck bill and trout lips”.

Worse, it seems that celebrities are taking this a step further and actually "enhancing their lips”, making them plumper by injecting them with an expensive and horrific chemical to do this. One of the main reasons, I believe, is an attempt to make them look younger and more seductive, particularly as they get older.

I’m sad about this because I always believe that people of both sexes should grow old gracefully. The problem is for female actresses as they get older, they are overlooked for parts as film makers choose younger and more attractive women in their place.

This is ridiculous.

The only ugly people you see in films and television series are bad guys or evil people. There are a couple of American television shows that I watch regularly and everybody in them is totally attractive – even the older people.

We seem to be losing the realism. Why can’t characters be portrayed by real people?

Don’t get me wrong, there are some ugly actors, but the latest trend seems to be that the actors portraying ordinary people have to be beautiful people.

No wonder young women are resorting to pouting their lips to look like Donald Duck.

When I was a kid, I did briefly want to be an actor. I appeared in a couple of junior school plays, in particular, Sleeping Beauty where I played the “handsome prince” and had to kiss Clare Bloggs (name changed to protect the poor girl’s identity) during rehearsals and in front of her parents. I also played the Griffon in Alice in Wonderland where I had to dress up with wings and feathers.

I thought I was a good little actor – I was only nine or ten at the time – and had delusions of being the next Laurence Olivier. Sadly as I got older, I realised that I wasn’t a beautiful person and would probably have faced numerous rejections for looking like a strategically shaved orangutan.

The Plastic Mancunian auditions for the part of Jack Reacher
This is just another thing I will change when I become President of the World.

I will make it illegal to pose with a duck face, make cosmetic surgery illegal and also ensure that ugly actors and actresses get key parts in films.

I mean – look at Tom Cruise, a man universally considered to be a good looking actor. He is a very good actor and I love a lot of his films but there is one part that I genuinely laughed at when I heard he was playing it. I’ve read a couple of novels by Lee Child when on holiday. He is the man who created Jack Reacher, an ex-military policeman. They sound cheesy and they are – but they are good reads for travelling or a holiday as long as you can stand his writing style (which isn’t brilliant) and can suspend your disbelief. Lee Child describes Jack Reacher as a huge man, 6ft 5 inches with a 50 inch chest who looks like he can literally tear a man in half. Yet the actor chosen to play him is Tom Cruise who is not huge at all – at 5ft 7 inches he is almost a foot shorter. Tom Cruise is almost 5 inches shorter than I am!

Dwayne Johnson might not be as good an actor but at 6ft 5 and built like a brick shithouse, he would at least look like a Jack Reacher type fellow.

I’m sure there is a parallel universe out there where I am a successful Hollywood actor or maybe President of the Earth.

And in either of those places I can promise you this; I will not have a duck face!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Stop Feeling Guilty

Today I’m going to talk about a subject that really irks me and has made me rant a lot over the years.

The idea comes from a comedian called Dave Gorman, a very funny and clever man. On his latest show, called “Modern Life Is Goodish”, he discusses the term "guilty pleasure”, used by just about everybody, myself included, to describe something that you really like but that you feel guilty about. In fact, I have written a couple of posts about my own musical guilty pleasures that took some doing because, in it, I mentioned songs that I felt embarrassed about. These songs are in my musical collection and I love them, despite people laughing at me or deriding me because of them.

I’ve also discussed the pseudo-intellectual, a person who mocks people like me for not appreciating high-brow items across a variety of disciplines. These people utter complete bullshit and show faux-emotion with feigned enthusiasm about their subject matter, dismissing normal everyday folks for being too thick to appreciate where they are coming from.

There are lots of examples.

Imagine a conversation between such a person (PS) and myself.

PS: I’m currently reading “Dystopian Attitudes To Philosophy” by the renowned philosopher Archibald St-John-Smythe, a professor of applied philosophy at Oxford University. It was reviewed very positively in The Sunday Times last week by the acclaimed critic Theodore Rymplethrope. It is a fascinated read. What are you currently reading?

PM: I’m reading “Alien Immortal”, a science fiction novel by Dirk Prawn. It’s not well known and is about an alien invasion in the near future just when …

PS: Let me stop you right there. That’s your guilty pleasure. It has to be because otherwise you would be ashamed to admit to reading cheap nonsense like that! You need to challenge yourself cerebrally and a cheesy sci-fi novel is no way to do that!

PM: Pardon?

PS: St-John-Smythe discusses the possibility of the existence of an alternative reality, where we are canine beings being held captive as pets by super-intelligent felines and the relevance of this alternate concept to the thought paradigms … Where are you going?

PM: To read my cheesy science fiction book. It’s more interesting than talking to you.

Do you see what I mean? There are certain people who deem themselves to be far superior to the likes of me who say that I should be utterly ashamed about my choice of book, movie or music, my hobbies, the art I like to look at and my lifestyle choices.

If it has not been positively reviewed by a well-respected critic in a high brow newspaper then it is simply a guilty pleasure that you should feel ashamed about admitting to loving.

These are the kind of people who will read anything by Salman Rushdie and criticise those of who don’t as beneath molluscs on the evolutionary scale. They try to make me feel guilty about reading a cheesy horror story over a book that is critically acclaimed by a famous book critic.

I started a Salman Rushdie book once then put it down - it was absolutely dreadful.

These people try to make me feel guilty about choosing to watch a Superhero movie over an Oscar-winning snooze-fest.

They try to make me feel guilty about choosing to watch The Big Bang Theory over a documentary about the evolution of contemporary art in Western Europe in the 20th century.

They simply cannot understand why I would choose to buy a progressive metal CD instead of a critically acclaimed CD by a singer-songwriter that gets a five star review in a high brow newspaper and is advertised on television as “the greatest album you will hear this year”.

I say this; never ever answer the question “what is your guilty pleasure?” with anything other than:

“I don’t have any guilty pleasures!”

The truth is they are simply “pleasures” and there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

Why should you feel guilty?

Is it possibly because you are effectively admitting to being guilty of dumbing down and are too ashamed to admit that you are an avid fan of the latest soap opera and much prefer it to a critically acclaimed series about how opera music changed the style of classic music in the last two hundred years?

It is nobody’s business but my own whether I choose to “dumb down” and watch tacky television.

I like what I like and I don’t care whether it is considered stupid, immature or dreadful by the pseudo-intellectual or those who think they are superior in some way to us all.

By way of research, I just asked Mr Google to tell me about “guilty pleasures” and one of the first things I found was an article with the title “Celebrity Guilty Pleasures Prove Stars Are Just Like Us!”

How dare they? How bloody DARE they imply that so-called celebrities are somehow above the rest of us. It’s almost as if the tabloids and newspapers are implying that in order to evolve, you need to become famous. And when you are famous, the way you connect with the plebeian class (i.e. the rest of us) is by letting your guard down and admitting that you have guilty pleasures in common with them.

One of the so-called celebrities actually surprised me with his answer to the question. It was Russell Brand. He said:

 “I don’t have guilty pleasures. If something gives you pleasure, don’t feel guilty about it as long as you’re not harming anybody else!”

I totally agree with that.

To summarise, dear reader, my message to you is this:

Stop feeling guilty!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Funeral Soundtrack

My uncle died earlier this year. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September last year and given six months to live. With the aid of chemotherapy, he lasted a year, but sadly, the treatment took its toll and while it prolonged his life, he suffered badly as a result.

In the end, his condition was so bad that his immediate family regarded his passing as a blessing.

He was 68 years old and his name was Paul.

What I found amazing about him was the way he dealt with his condition. I went to visit him and I found a man who was surprisingly cheerful and even joked about his appearance and the treatment. He was very candid about how he felt but, with a smile on his face, he told us how he had remained optimistic. It was clear that he had accepted what was happening to him and the inevitable conclusion.

I was proud of him. He was a very brave man.

His immediate family held him in the highest esteem and effectively had a year to prepare themselves for his eventual loss. When I heard, I called my aunt and cousin to express my condolences and my own pain too and they seemed to be okay but understandably heartbroken.

Mrs PM and I went to funeral where the family turned up and a lot of friends.

Paul was a popular guy and the funeral was very moving.

During the ceremony, his coffin was present with a photograph of him with a cheerful smile that I will remember him by.

I liked Paul a lot.

But one of the main things I remember about the funeral was his choice of songs to play as we all celebrated his life, songs that might just accompany him onto the next phase, if such a phase exists. He chose three songs that he loved – one by Elvis Presley, one by the Beatles and another rock and roll number that I didn’t recognise but was totally upbeat.

Although we were all upset, it kind of made me feel positive in a strange kind of way. I’m too sceptical to believe in an afterlife and, although I am a Catholic, I don’t really buy the idea that we will all go to meet our maker if I’m honest. I realise that if God reads my blog (as he surely must – because he is omnipotent) he may be noting down things I’ve written about Purgatory and Heaven.

He may know that when I openly say “Yes I believe in God”, that in my mind, my own scientific mind is analysing the whole idea of Christianity and thinking “Really?”.

But the whole point to this post is not to dwell on the religious aspects of death; I want to portray the positive undercurrent of the funeral, which, although is a desperately sad occasion, can also be and should also be a celebration of the person’s life.

And what better way to depart than to have people talk about the good things and celebrate his or her life with the music that they loved.

Of course, I realise that being a lover of heavy metal and rock music, some of my choices of the songs to accompany me on my way to the next dimension might be in poor taste but I think I might opt for three songs that were all positive.

In fact, I hope that my demise is a long, long way away – I plan to live forever – and that by then my collection of songs will be so enormous that I will it hard to choose.

I have well over 7000 songs in my collection and I could have gone through the entire lot and spent a month whittling them down to choose three songs to send me off. However, while I love my own music, I decided just to swiftly scan them.

I came up with the following, deliberately rejecting Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin because, as much as I love it, I think it is a little too corny.

So here they are:

Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

Okay – I know you may mock me for this choice because it sounds a bit corny, similar to Stairway To Heaven. The difference here is that I genuinely love this song and, while there is a theme of death, I personally think it is very positive, basically seeing, don’t fear death, we can fly and eventually we will all be together again in eternity.

Oh – and I love the guitar solo in the middle of the song.

Journey – Remember Me

I have been known to mock power ballads and AOR, and in the past Journey have been a great target because they personify the essence of what I dislike about this style of slushy, lovey-dovey nonsense. 

Yet, as much as I dislike Journey, they have produced three brilliant songs that I simply cannot mock. Remember Me is one of them – a beautiful piece of music that I wish they had embraced more often. 

The song is about somebody leaving a relationship, but I think that the lyrics apply perfectly to the loss of a loved one. This song would be directed at Mrs PM, but I think that the rest of the funeral congregation might also find meaning. It would effectively my dying wish imploring the people I love not to forget me.

Dream Theater – The Answer Lies Within

This is a beautiful song and while it sounds quite melancholy, once again the lyrics are wonderful and positive. While the last song may have been a little selfish (with me saying “Don’t forget me!”) this song would be my positive final message,  asking my loved ones to carry on and just be as brilliant as I know they can be:

You’ve got the future on your side
You’re gonna be fine now
I know whatever you decide
You’re gonna shine

And finally ...

Well that’s all a bit morbid, isn’t it? I’m sure that if I were to run through my music collection with an impish glint in my eye, I might choose this one – the lyrics are very funny:

I hope God has a sense of humour and forgives me on Judgement Day.

And, Paul, I’ll miss you! Say “Hi” to my Dad for me.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Earth Is Flat

I love weird stuff and I also love people who believe in it.

Whilst stumbling around cyberspace the other week, I stumbled across a particular favourite of mine, a bunch of conspiracy theorists who share an absurd belief.

I am talking about the Flat Earth Society, a group of seemingly eloquent people who truly believe that we all live on a planet that is similar to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

To them, our beloved planet is not a sphere; it is a disk.

To them the Earth is flat.

Given all of the evidence to the contrary, they still maintain in this modern day and age, with all of the advances in space travel, physics and astronomy that the governments of the world are uniting against the population of the world to hide the truth that we live on a giant frisbee.

Here’s what they believe:

The Earth is a disk with the North Pole at its centre.

Antarctica is in fact a wall of ice that surrounds the edge of the disk, keeping the oceans in.

Space travel is fake. The USSR and USA were so obsessed with winning the space race during the cold that they faked their accomplishments to deceive the other into believing that they were ahead.

Photographic evidence of a globular Earth is also fake. NASA is an institute whose sole purpose is to prolong the myth of a Round Earth.

Circumnavigation of the Earth is performed by going around the North Pole in big circles.

The sun moves in circles around the North Pole. When the sun is over your head, it is daytime. When it is not over your head, it is night time.

You cannot see the curvature of the Earth from an aircraft. Your perception of a curved Earth is due to your perception through heavily curved aircraft windows.

Gravity as we know it does not exist.

The sun and the moon are simply rotating spheres, each 32 miles across that can be found 3000 miles above the surface of the flat Earth.

The concept of a Full Moon is impossible in the Round Earth theory.

Earth is not a planet and the other planets are small.

The stars also rotate above the Earth.

The moon landing was a hoax.  Astronauts shown moving on the moon in slow motion were on wire supports.

Here is a picture of what they believe the Earth looks like:

This is amazing and if you take a look at any of the Flat Earth Society websites, they have supposedly scientific evidence to back all of their claims. However, what I find even more amazing is that people actually believe this utter nonsense.

I simply cannot comprehend how, or even why, people choose to ignore reality and shift their belief system to an incredible wild idea that took hold of humanity before the great scientists in our history proved it wrong.

I can understand people in the past believing that the Earth was flat, because they didn’t know any better. However, nowadays, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support their outrageous claims. On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence to support the Round Earth theory.

Why are these people so delusional?

Why choose to champion a ridiculous lie?

Their theories are totally ridiculous, even laughable. It seems to be that when anybody tries to debunk their weird theory, they simply invent something that explains why you are wrong. An example of this is that if the Earth were indeed flat then at the edges of the disk, gravity would be totally different and approaching the edge would make gravity more pronounced. In fact, the Earth is so big that gravity would pull the Earth into a ball shape. Their answer to this is amazing, as we have seen; gravity simply does not exist or more accurately, it doesn't exist in the way that we have been led to believe.


So all of those science experiments I performed in A-Level Physics to determine the acceleration due to gravity are totally false and pointless?

It's worse, when you consider that Flat Earth conspiracy theorists claim that we are all being kept in the dark about this. What they are saying is that every government in the world is lying to us all in an attempt to cover up this preposterous notion. I know that politicians are all liars but this concept is absurd. As well as that, anybody who is involved in the airline industry must be in on it.

Imagine for a second training to become a pilot. You are taken into a room and forced to sign the equivalent of the official secrets act before a man stands in front of you and says:

“Before you start training, we must inform you that the Earth is not a globe. It is a giant spinning pancake. You mustn’t tell anybody as we are trying to keep it secret. If you do, we will fly you past the Antarctic wall and kick you out into oblivion.”

Imagine your first day in the Oval Office after being sworn in as President of the USA:

PRESIDENT:  Right – now I’m President, I want to know all about Roswell. Do aliens actually exist?

PRESIDENT'S AIDE: Sir, aliens do not exist. In fact, the Earth is not even a planet; it is a giant frisbee surrounded by a huge wall of ice. The sun and moon are disks rotating 3000 miles above us.

PRESIDENT: No – really. Do aliens exist?

PRESIDENT'S AIDE: No sir! And the Earth really IS flat. We’ve been conning the public for years. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin won honorary and secret Oscars for their parts in the greatest work of fiction known to man; The Moon Landing.


PRESIDENT'S AIDE: Hello? Sir, it’s President Putin wishing to congratulate you.

PRESIDENT: Hello Vladimir.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: Zdravstvujtye, Mr President and congratulations. By the way, have you been told that the Earth is really flat yet? We need to keep this quiet.


It makes no sense to me whatsoever, that supposedly intelligent people continue to defy all the scientific evidence and embarrass themselves by relating this bunkum to anybody who is willing to listen.

Why would you anybody do that?

Even if it’s a question of pride and being scared to admit that they are wrong, surely that’s better than being a laughing stock.

Anyway, here is a fun video about it:

I’m sure when Terry Pratchett came up with the concept of Discworld, he did so after reading, and presumably laughing at, a book about the Flat Earth Society.

Of course, writing a post mocking the concept of a Flat Earth might prove to be a stupid thing to do if Flat Earth conspiracy theorists are right. I may end up with a lot of egg on my face and might have to write another post of apology.

These are the risks that a blogger has to wrestle with.

I don’t care; I’ll take my chances.

That said, as I wrote at the start of this post, I love this kind of weirdness, so if on the off chance you believe that the Earth is flat, please let me know.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Proactive Washing

The other day I had a surreal conversation with Mrs PM.

It went like this.

Mrs PM: I want to weight myself but I can’t.

PM: Why? You’re not scared are you? You look fa… OWWW!!!! Why did you thump me?

Mrs PM: You know why, you arse!

PM: I was going to say, you look fabulous!! What did you think I was going to say? Anyway - why can’t you weigh yourself?

Mrs PM:  Oh! Thanks! The batteries have run out on the scales and we haven’t got any more.

PM: Yes we have. I bought some, remember? I’m proactive. As I’ve always said, it’s better to have stuff in than nothing at all.

Mrs PM: You’re not proactive! I’m the proactive one out of the two of us.

PM: Then why didn’t you buy the batteries? When I bought them two weeks ago, you said “Why have you bought those batteries? We don’t need them!”

Mrs PM: No I didn’t.

PM: Yes you did. I’m surprised you don’t remember. You remember things that I said eighteen years ago. OWWWW!!! What’s that for?

Mrs PM: I’ve just remembered what you said to Susan in 2001!

PM: See? I don’t remember that! In fact, I’m not even sure who Susan is!

Mrs PM: It shows that I’ve got a good memory and that you are a stupid arse!

PM: What did I say?

Mrs PM: Well if you don’t remember, I’m not going to tell you.

PM: What does that even mean?

Mrs PM: It means that you are an arse!

PM: By the way, did you know that women make great archaeologists?

Mrs PM: Why?

PM: Because they love digging up the past. OWWW!!! What was that for?

Mrs PM: Sexist pig!

PM: It was a joke.

Mrs PM: I’ll remember that!

PM: I bet you will. Pity you don’t remember saying what you said about the batteries.

Mrs PM: That’s because I didn’t say it.

PM: Yes you did. Did you know that those batteries are also used for other things like the TV remote control, for example?

Mrs PM: Really? I thought you were just hoarding batteries. You hoard other stuff.

PM: No I don’t. I’m proactive. When you’ve just shopped, you leave things off the list because “we don’t need it”. And then we run out. I’ve always said it’s better to have too much than not enough. We nearly ran out of toothpaste last week you know.

Mrs PM: Yeah – and we’ve got food that’s past its sell-by date because you bought too much.

PM: Nonsense – and when I say that I mean you saying that you’re proactive.

Mrs PM: Okay smartarse! Tell me why you’re proactive and I’m not.

PM: Well besides the batteries and the toothpaste, I’m proactive with the washing.

At this point I have to pause because Mrs PM burst out laughing and I watched in puzzled astonishment as she struggled to control herself.

PM: What’s so funny?

Mrs PM: Proactive washing? What the hell is that?

PM: Look at the washing basket and you’ll see.

Mrs PM: It’s empty.

PM: Exactly.

Mrs PM: You are deranged. What the hell are you talking about?

PM: I’ve done the washing before the washing basket filled up and started overflowing with dirty shreddies and socks!

Editor’s note – “shreddies” are what the Plastic Mancunian calls his underpants for reasons that I don’t want to go into. Suffice it say, it’s not a pleasant name when you think about it.

Mrs PM: So proactive washing is making sure that the washing basket is empty?

PM: Duh! Yes!

Mrs PM: I thought you meant that proactive washing is making sure that the washing never gets dirty. I’ve got a wardrobe full of clean clothes if you want to be proactive about it. You can wash all my clean clothes BEFORE they get dirty. That way, the washing basket will never ever have anything in it.

PM: What are you talking about?

Mrs PM: You! You’re an idiot!

PM: Well I’ll remember that!

Mrs PM: No you won’t!

PM: Yes I will! I’ll write it down in my next blog post.

Mrs PM: And let the world know exactly what an idiot you are. Proactive washing! Have you heard yourself?

Maybe I will review the conversation and not post it after all. I don’t want to look daft to the world. I also don’t want the world to know that I don’t understand women. Looking back, I still can’t understand why I was thumped three times during these exchanges. It also makes people think that I rarely win these fun exchanges with the love of my life. The truth is I rarely do.

I think I’ll consign this draft post to the “also rans” folder on my computer.

“Proactive washing” indeed! 

What a stupid idea! 

What a stupid title for a blog post.