'The Repository of Fruitless Work'

"It's an ingenious solution to a problem that should never have existed in the first place."
The world holds many and varied experiences for us to try. They all await our enthusiasm and enjoyment, our laughter and terror, our individualism and companionship.
Most of them I haven't experienced, and probably never will. This, however, is the record of those I have.
It is also a record of the publication of my stories, where applicable. You will find all the links you could ever possibly need to the left.
Enjoy your stay here, however long it may be. I hope you find something to spark your interest, curiosity, humour or, if that's how it's got to be, outright anger. As long as it triggers at least one emotion I'll be delighted.
Scribblings -
It's perhaps a sad sign of the times that I saw on the television last night the words: 'Dec Pakistan flood appeal' and for a brief moment assumed it meant Declan Donnelly would be appearing to highlight the plight of flood victims; what it was, of course, was an appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Read a review of Monday night's Spamalot performance, where the audience gave the cast a standing ovation. As if I didn't already feel guilty enough for not standing up at the end of Tuesday's performance! If only ( a) I knew more of theatre etiquette than I do, and (b) I had the confidence to risk being the only one to stand up and applaud.
On a completely unrelated note, I was struck tonight by the amazing beauty of the cucumber plant. I've got two growing next to each other, and parts of each have entwined round the neighbour so they're well supported. Words don't really do it justice. 
Surreal moment in tonight's Celebrity Masterchef which saw Gregg Wallace look down at the badly-filleted remains of a dead fish on a chopping board, say, "Sorry, fish" and then pick up its severed tail and stare at it mournfully.
On a different note, the contestant guilty of the bad filleting ('Actor Neil') then had to cook a £74 surf 'n' turf in a professional restaurant. Needless to say, he completely cocked up the first one.
Saw Spamalot this evening.
Fantastic. All the best dialogue from The Holy Grail too.
"Excuse me, old woman."
"Where'd you get the coconuts?"
"We found them."
"Found them? In Mercia?"
Oh, why doth the animal kingdom persecute me so?
The cats have upped their game by leaving a dead mouse for me on the lawn, which I fortunately spotted before going over the grass with the trimmer. Not only that, but there is also a colony of ants under the patio to deal with now.
Caught up with last night's Celebrity Masterchef, which wasn't quite as entertaining as the week's heats have been (not least for seeing Mark Little - or, if you prefer, 'Joe Mangle' - bring out the Australian in John Torode). The soundtrack to the show continues to stretch the show's audible credibility to breaking point - so dramatic does it get at times that Masterchef: The Opera is surely only the pluck of a violin string away.
After some initial reservations, I'm quite getting into this now!
Keeping going with the 'non-illustrated, and quite short, 24-themed comics'.
#3 coming soon and, hopefully, an explanation of what this is all about.
The sixth and final season of Lost is out on DVD seven weeks from today. 'The Great Lost Re-watch', meanwhile, is twenty episodes into series one. It was my intention to perhaps write little bits about it along the way, but it turns out cramming in as many episodes as possible into every available moment is more fun than sitting before a blank computer screen.
A brief but chucklesome (if that's a word) extract from Bill Bryson's Made In America:
"The endearingly hopeless Martin Frobisher explored the Arctic region of Canada, found what he thought was gold and carried 1500 tons of it home on a dangerously overloaded boat, only to be informed that it was worthless iron pyrite. Undaunted, Frobisher returned to Canada, found another source of gold, carried 1300 tons of it back and was informed, no doubt with a certain weariness on the part of the royal assayer, that it was the same stuff."
It may be more indicative of my inherent laziness than I would like to admit, but the 'Select Bibliography' that appears in the back of Made In America (and similar bibliographies to other books like it) is astonishing - fifteen pages, each listing some eighteen different works. That's 270 books! On the one hand, quite a scary figure; on the other, it makes you wonder how satisfying and fascinating it must be to research and compile such a project.
Nobody talks about glue sniffing anymore; it's all 'legal highs' and 'crystal meth'. Mind you, I seem to remember once being on a bus where someone was sniffing glue, and judging by my ensuing headache it's no surprise the practice seems to be on the wane.
So .... fashion. Not a subject I know much about, which will surely become evident in, ooh, about ten seconds:
It has been a long held ambition of mine to start a clothing line called 'Beer'. I would then produce a jacket, and also a range of spectacles (which, for the purposes of marketing, I would call goggles).
I was reminded of this by the desperate need I have for black socks. It occurred to me that if anyone were to take the idea from Father Ted and produce a range of socks called 'Priest's Socks', with the tagline, "Black, not very very very very very very very very VERY dark blue" then I would buy them, thus making my choice a lot easier.
What is it with animals?
Some weeks ago, attempting to maintain some diversity of wildlife in my garden, I bought fat balls and seed to put out for the birds that regularly visit. They duly devoured the fat balls in a matter of days, but the seed has gone untouched.
Now, I paid a good few quid for a bag of 'Bill Oddie's Spring and Summer Seed Mix'. So either I've got exceptionally fussy birds coming to my garden, or Oddie has well and truly cocked up.
A brief musical interlude:
It's a sign of how little of my life I have spent being rebellious that I felt even slightly rebellious while listening to the album Americana by The Offspring this morning.
    Still, it was a laugh for a bit of a singalong.
Now, still on a music theme, let's play a quick game of 'spot the serious point being made in the ironic statment':
"OMG!! Is Dumb It Down by The Divine Comedy, like, the best song EVER??!"
For reasons not worth explaining, my preferred internet search engine remains Yahoo. On their homepage is a little box listing topics that are 'trending', and it can often be fascinating seeing the things most people are searching for. Today, the term 'lasagne sandwich' caught my eye, so I had to take a look and was led to this article.
Now, ordinarily I wouldn't entertain reading any output of the Daily Mail, but the inclusion in this particular piece of such delights as the new KFC invention and a 'sandwich in a can' reminded me of this website. I'll warn you now, there is a very  good chance of you being completely repulsed by the food items on display!
I had a dream last night that I witnessed my boss get shot. He got out of his car, two bullet wounds in his chest, and died. I was very upset; whether this was because it was my boss, or more due to the fundamental circumstance of witnessing someone die, I'm not sure. Maybe my dream-self's subconcious was wondering what would happen to my job.
I've no idea who shot him or why; if only I could go to the dream police to solve the case.
*wonders if there's a TV series to be made from that idea*
Other social situations where it would be good to wear a bow tie #2 - a Stoke City game. Or any football match, for that matter.
Even if Nico Rosberg's third place in today's Britich Grand Prix didn't exactly prove my recently posited theory that Mercedes Grand Prix are going backwards, at least Eddie Jordan continued to demonstrate his willingness to ask an awkward question when he put Christian Horner on the spot about not sounding more genuinely pleased in congratulating Mark Webber.
Great race by Webber, and an equally great one by Lewis Hamilton; really can't decide which of the two I'd rather see win the championship more.
As you'll be well aware if you're a regular reader of this little internet hideaway, gardening is not a skill I possess. Today, then, I had a little help from my Mum and my Gran in doing a bit of tidying up; pruning, weeding etc.
I've always been reluctant to inflict too much punishment on the plants because I don't know what I should be doing or what needs doing. My previous efforts have felt like butchery, particularly when I started cutting back one of the trees. It turns out, however, that sorting out an overgrowing garden requires a level of plant-butchery I didn't even realise was possible.
Let's hope I don't take to it too well and leave my garden in a rather sorry state...
Saw a poster advertising a circus. It said the following:
"Globe of Death, Wheel of Death, and other funfair attractions."
Is a 'globe of death' a sort of 3D version of the 'wheel of death'? Even ignoring the 'other funfair attractions' bit, I can't help but think that having two '... of death' attractions rather dilutes the intensity of the experience on offer.
I'm currently reading Desperation by Stephen King. It's an excellent book, but I'm struggling to get through it for the simple reason that, presently, I daren't read it at night!
On the subject of King, a direct quote from the FAQ section of his own website: "Stephen does not have any social network pages, and has no plan to set any up."
I find that quite admirable. When you've been as successful as King has then it must be wonderful to know that you don't need to bother with Facebook and Twitter and the like if you don't want to.
Just the few million books I need to sell then...
The majority of my food shopping is done at one of the well known budget supermarkets. I feel it is time to preserve, for posterity, some of the names they give to their alternatives for well-known products. For example:
Weetabix - Wheat Bisks (in fact, the whole cereal selection is pretty much a triumph in itself)
Stock cubes - Quixo (quicker version of Oxo cubes?)
Monster Munch crisps - Monster Claws
Classic biscuits - Classicals
My personal favourite, however, and which I can't see being topped (possibly ever!), is this:
Rice Krispie Squares - Crisp Rice Oblongs
Went out on Saturday night for a birthday meal and drinks. Partly because of the balmy weather, and partly because I've gone completely over the top with my enjoyment of Doctor Who, I decided to wear a bow tie ("Bow ties are cool", lest we forget). It was quite good fun. So:
Other social situations where it would be good to wear a bow tie #1 - a return visit to Alton Towers.
Nearly ten months after first creating this site, I now seem to be in a position of feeling ready to try and share it with others.
To that end, I now have a Twitter account. If you can't beat them, and all that.
Incidentally, a bit more 'tidying up' done today - all the articles are now filed under a dedicated page for the year they were written, rather than being in one big list that dominates the left sidebar. It is, I hope you'll agree, an improvement.
Paid a visit to Trentham Gardens to try out their 'Barfuss' barefoot walk. As something completely different to do with an hour or so, it's well worth a look. It also makes you think - fleetingly or otherwise - about how nice it could be to walk round without shoes more often.
Went to Alton Towers today for my birthday. There are so many things about the place you could comment on, but for once I'll try and remain succinct and say nothing other than: it shouldn't really be fun, but somehow it manages to be.
You may have read the 'Nemesis' piece I did earlier in the month detailing my pacifist battles with the cats belonging to my neighbour. The suggestion that one cat existed purely as a figment of my imagination was, of course, not made with a great amount of seriousness.
Except, almost as soon as I'd written about it, I stopped seeing the cat... Needless to say, I was quite unprepared for this turn of events and began to question exactly what I knew to be truth.
Anyway. Just as I had begun to accept that maybe the cat hadn't really existed, it returned this morning, persecuting me by trying to enter the house through the dining room window while I ate breakfast. So now I don't know what to believe.
I realise this is somewhat out-of-date in terms of topicality, so I shall blame posting about it now on a lack of both memory and time, and then argue that the results of the last couple of days for the teams involved make it all the more appropriate to look back at the reactions to that fateful first game.
Had a fantastic evening seeing They Might Be Giants at the Royal Festival Hall in London. All being well, I'll write a longer article about the experience, but for now I'll link to this video of one of the songs they performed.
Oh, and here is a Wikipedia article about James Mason.
Two news stories catch the eye today, one for its wonderful absurdity and the other for its sheer inanity.
What's tomorrow's headline going to be: 'TV star Declan Donnelly finds out the ending of Lost before getting round to watching it'?
There's currently an advert on the radio for some 'better tasting' version of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. The advert consists principally of an overly-complex verbal joke that might be funny were it not that The Vicar of Dibley did a very similar thing, better, about fifteen years ago.
And it's not often you can say that.
Grumble, grumble.
Saw a Chinese takeaway in Crewe called 'Jolly Good'. It doesn't make much sense as a name for such an establishment, so I've sent it to Dave Gorman's radio show for consideration in his Pun Street feature. Do have a read of the 'yellow pages' for Pun Street, because there are some gems there.
Spent today reliving a lot of childhood memories by visiting the seaside town of Llandudno in North Wales, nearly nine years after last being there. The only disappointment of the whole trip was that the cable cars weren't running to the summit of the Great Orme, but otherwise it was a day well-spent remembering many happy family holidays,
Starting a bit of evolution for the site, I've spent a bit of time over the last few days creating an archive of scribblings and a page of links. See the left sidebar.
A little side note from yesterday - while waiting to be picked up from Stoke rail station, a guy came up to me, writing a text message, and asked how to spell the word 'yesterday'.
Catching a glimpse of his phone's screen and the bulk of the message he'd already composed, I didn't know whether to be appalled that he couldn't spell a word where no syllables could be represented with numbers, or be pleased that he didn't seem to want to hack it to pieces in the name of abbreviating it to 'txt speak'.
Lewis Hamilton wins the Canadian Grand Prix. A well-deserved result to a fantastic race, albeit that I was left kicking myself. In the build up to the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks earlier, James Allen recommended putting a few quid on Hamilton to win in Montreal. I did think it seemed like a good idea, before it went and slipped my mind...
The World Cup has given rise to the phenomenon of vuvuzelas. A lot of people don't like them. Me? I think they're great, mainly because the constant annoying drone almost completely drowned out the constant, more-irritating drone of the 'England Band' repeatedly playing The Great Escape theme tune during the match with the USA. If only such a fate would befall them at every England game.
Such productivity!
Paid a visit yesterday to Warwick Castle, which was most entertaining and coped with a serious influx of half-term visitors far better than I feared it might. Indeed, half-term proved a good week to choose to go because of the extra entertainment that was laid on.
Particularly good to see was the sign above the door to the gaol which read, "Warning! Care should be taken due to low doorway and uneven steps. Thank you." It's reassuring to know that health and safety was alive and well (so to speak) all those centuries ago.
Hmm? What do you mean the sign isn't original to the castle?
A splendidly furious (and occasionally sweary) review of Sex and the City 2. One wonders whether these explosive rants are sometimes more about being a little bit more annoyed than someone else's annoyed review and I've used better words to show it, but if that's the case here then it's written well enough for you not to think about it.
Nemesis added.
Cake night follow-up: banana cake/loaf appears to improve with time, tasting somewhat better after a week or so than it did on the day of baking. Chocolate Mayonnaise cake - perhaps surprisingly - doesn't unduly suffer for being left a few days either.
Bad news about the Courgette cake, however, a sample of which had developed fur less than a week after baking.