Saturday, July 30, 2005

Just a little something

I don't know where that last post might lead. It was a simple 2 minute exercise (timed) to see whether I could open up a story and where I might be able to take it in such a short period of time.

I think that I might take this idea and move it on, take it further, somewhere it deserves to be taken.

Then again, I might simply leave it as it is.

I can't say.

Read, think and comment in the usual way.

purplesimon out...

Short and not too sweet

"Danny? Are you there?"

Her voice cracked with fear as the darkness enveloped Michelle. Where Danny might be she had no idea. It had been more than an hour since he'd asked her to stay where she was, sitting on an upturned crate, popping the air from the bubble wrap. Michelle wondered why she had agreed to accompany her brother on what could only end up a painful and grievous episode. If he didn't come back she'd be the one that they would all blame, just like last time.

Just like last time.


Her screaming was answered only by the sound of the rats scratching around in the darkest corners. Tears formed at the edge of her eyes, threatening to unleash themselves in a torrent of salty water down her face.

"Boo!" Michelle screamed again, this time the tears falling in rivers. Standing behind her was Danny. She reached up with her fists and began to pummel them against his chest. All this time, Danny was watching her, trying not to laugh.

"You bastard, you bastard," Michelle yelled at him. Danny couldn't keep the laughter in any longer. Michelle let out a gasp, a suppressed giggle.

"Want to see what I found?" Danny asked, taking Michelle's hand and dragging her deeper into the shadows.

The search continues

In my quest to continue to find some good blogs to share with you (and some not-so-good blogs, in the case of my friend T), I would like to point you towards Spontaneous Fiction, which I discovered this morning.

I guess you could say it's a kindred spirit.

Another one to add to the list of Blogs I Like.

purplesimon out...

Friday, July 29, 2005

If there's one thing I hate, it's liars

Which is why I will never go back to using See Tickets again.

After a concert I was supposed to attend was cancelled because of the London bombings on 7/7, I had to send back the tickets (recorded delivery - almost £5!) and wait to be refunded.

I asked at the time if I would get my p&p back and was told that I would. I wasn't overly surprised to find out that this was a blatant lie. They didn't refund that or the 'booking fee'. This means that the company made almost £10 out of me due to the actions of terrorists.

That's wrong.

So, don't bother with See Tickets.

Use Stargreen because they are much better. Lovely people and always they have tickets for shows.

I've had a refund from Stargreen recently, too. They passed me back the booking fee and postage because the show was cancelled because of more terrorist threats. They didn't seem to mind.

So, See Tickets, consider yourself blacklisted.

If you want to tell See Tickets how poor they are, send an email to them

purplesimon out...

Booking some time

This morning, I've been busy.

After working on a client's site, I worked on an idea I had last night, an idea suitable for Diesel Clothing. I also worked up an idea for Virgin Trains.

Now, I'd love to share these with you, but I need them to be 'unseen' right now. I'll post them, and the others, as soon as I know they have served their purpose.

However, I know that you're probably intrigued, so I thought I'd share the other idea with you. The front cover is below:

Figure of Speech

This is a book I am putting together. It'll probably be offline, but I will see if I can get a version to work on the Web and then I can post it up on here.

The book will contain excerpts of stories. Not those that are posted up here, but others I wrote a while back. I've have not looked over them since they were typed up on an electronic typewriter. (this was before computers were cheap enough for everyone to afford one.)

I'd better start sorting this out, otherwise it'll never get done.

purplesimon out...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Do you hate this kind of thing, too?

I bring you this blog - Who Will Die Today.

It's not funny.

It has a Web counter on it that shows how many people have died since you opened the page. Is that sick?


What's sick is that, if you refresh the page, the counter goes back to zero.

Does this mean that the people who've already died this morning are killed again? Or, are we starting on a new set?

It then goes on to ask me if I need God? No, I don't. It's those dead people that do!

This blog is clearly speaking to the wrong audience and only dead people should visit it. Judging by the post (yes, it's only one post) it was written by a brain-dead blogger.

Next time title it: I need someone to blame for everything, so I invented a deity so that I can point my finger and feel superior to others.

I shudder at it all.

purplesimon out...

Just when I'd almost finished...

...building my ark, it stops raining. Although, it's meant to start again this evening.

Now, recently I have been saying to people, "This isn 't right to have sun in the UK, especially during the summer."

They all agreed.

Now, I'm trying to remember if it rained on 15 July. Why? That's St. Swithin's Day.

Check out the Corned Beef Inspector that represents this site! Oh joy.

What do you mean, what's a Corned Beef Inspector? Okay, I shall find some examples of people and let you have some links to it.

Try these:

Most Corned Beef Inspectors will have bad hair, probably combed over, and will be the nosey, busy-body neighbours you see. They always wear clothes that are out of style by at least fifteen years and their trousers will be too short.

Know any Corned Beef Inspectors? Be sure to let me know and, if possible, please supply a link to a picture for us all to judge.

And guess what? It's just started raining again.

purplesimon out...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Something to laugh at

I'm always on the lookout for good blogs to take a look at, so thankfully, this one had just been updated this morning and I was able to stumble across it and have my first laugh of the day.

It's called I Wasn't Always Like This and is intentionally and unintentionally hilarious. A sense of humour is definitely at play here.

Check it out, see what you think. I'll be adding this to my list of blogs to keep an eye on. I might also remove the blog by my friend, T, as she has only posted once.


purplesimon out...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Music to my ears

Those that know me well, know that I love music.

This, and books, are probably my real vices in life, if you discount smoking, drinking, drug use... okay, so I have (and have had, I must add) many vices. Currently, music is my drug of choice.

This month there have been some great albums released and I want to bring your attention to the following bands, all of whom I reckon are the best new bands out there. Well, they're my favourites at the moment, whatever you think!

The first is an old favourite of mine and a band I have seen live a couple of times now. They hail from Denmark and are called The Raveonettes. They have three albums, if you include the first EP, and have a sound that is fairly distinct. It's reminiscent of the 50's surf sound and the fuzz of 1980's punk. Lovely.

Second on my list is a bunch of very young people that make a lot of noise with three instruments and can rattle off a sublime tune in under 3 minutes. They are called The Subways and, if my memory serves me correctly, they are all under 18 years of age! Proof that age doesn't matter when it comes to crafting pop songs.

Finally, my third choice has been a favourite of mine since last year. Their debut album has just reached the shelves and is best described as a cross between Interpol and Joy Division. They are called Editors. There are not enough superlatives in the world to get across how brilliant this band is. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best thing since Radiohead hit the scene all those years ago.

Go look at the sites, have a listen to some of the excerpts and, if you like them, go to iTunes and grab yourself a copy. Or, if you prefer, like I do, to have your music on something other than an electronic device, get to your local record store.

Let me know what you think of these artists. Do you love them as much as I do?

purplesimon out...

Is that work I smell?

After a week of doing very little in the way of paid work, I've just had a sniff of something.

The thing is, it's permanent.

I love my freelancing, the freedom that it gives and the money that I can earn.

However, as I get older I have more responsibilities to myself, my fiancée, my cat(!), etc. This means that a monthly wage becomes quite enticing. The last place I was at offered me a decent amount, but I didn't like working there and, in the end, they didn't want me there, either.

So, will this place be any different? I don't know. But, I can't say no, in case it's right, perfect, ideal. It could be my copywriting utopia. It's integrated, which means it's not just Web work. That's all I know so far.

I'll keep you posted. Literally.

As for the new neighbours, they are great. Haven't heard a peep out of them since they moved in. Why can't all people be like that?

purplesimon out...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Another week begins

Dear Readers,
I don't really have much to update you with this week. What with the news being mostly about 'incidents' - why they can't say bombs I don't know - and shootings - why they can't say execution I don't know.

Whatever, I learned some things this weekend:

  1. Jimmy Carr is very offensive and extremely funny

  2. It can rain in the middle of July

  3. The people living during the 17th Century were shorter and smaller than me

The last one is in respect of the Globe Theatre. A wonderful experience, but definitely a bum-numbing one.

If I get any more news today I will surely blog it. If nothing else happens, you'll have to make do with reading past posts.

purplesimon out...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Change is always scary

Today is the day that my new neighbours move in. The old ones were lovely and we got on really well. I'm apprehensive of what the new people will be like.

We used to live next door to reggae fanatics who loved to play their music all day and night at a frightening volume. That's why we moved. Where we now live is so quiet that when we visit other people we find that their neighbourhood is really noisy - whether it's the birds singing or the sound of lawnmowers on a Sunday afternoon.

All we know of the new people is this: they are two men and they are moving from central London to come to a quiet place. I can only hope they are not like the newest edition to your close who think that they can blast their music as loud as they want, sit outside other people's houses and have barbecues and generally be annoying. Not that they aren't nice enough people, but they don't appear to have consideration for those around them.

There has to be an update on Monday, surely.

As I write this, a man has been shot on the Northern Line at Stockwell. This is close to me, the line I use to get to work and with everything else that is happening it's fucking scary. I have to go to Brixton later, but I'm not looking forward to it.

Also, the Whitechapel mosque has been surrounded by armed police.

All this because of oil.

Oil, as a fuel, is running out. It's one of the reasons that electricity prices are soaring. We need to stop relying on oil and start using other forms of fuel. Once our 'precious' black stuff runs out, will it stop the stupidity? I can only hope we run out of the damn stuff soon.

This weekend I am seeing Jimmy Carr a comedian some of you may have heard of. Whether I can get in to London to see him remains to be seen. On Sunday, I am seeing a Shakespeare play, A Winter's Tale, at the Globe Theatre. Again, I wonder if getting there is possible by public transport.

If not, I'll have to rely on the car, which in turn relies on oil. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Read, think and comment.

purplesimon out...

Here we go again

More bombs in London. What is the world coming to?

Not only is this pointless, it's also beyond stupidity. This is not religion, this isn't even extremists on the rampage. This isn't revenge.

It's simply wrong.

All it does is bring shame to ordinary Muslims and only injects fear into their communities, not ours. This, in turn, makes younger people feel ostracised and the cycle begins again.

To all those young people contemplating this: haven't you ever wondered why those training you aren't willing to give up their lives? Because they're cowards.

It gets worse, though.

I live within a mile of three mosques. Never had a problem - except from baseball-capped chav idiots (who are always white, interestingly). However, vandalism has occurred since the first attacks. This antagonism isn't helping and only fuels the fire. It just goes to show that the Muslim community isn't the only one with misguided youth.

Please stop. Stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; stop the wars on our streets. Stop, think about what you're doing and leave us alone.

purplesimon out...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Looking for something to buy this summer?

Those of you that have read past posts on this blog may have come across one about Xfm, which is my local radio station here in London. If you're not in London, you can listen to it on the InterWeb.

There is a breakfast show. It's a Sony Gold winner several times, so it's worth listening to. The music is mainly indie, rock and the occasional piece of dance-based stuff. It's a good station.

A while back they brought out a record for the Football World Cup, which did very well. The competition alone was worth listening to.

This time, they are back with the feel-good hit for the summer. It comes out on 1 August 2005 and you can hear it by clicking this link. It's by Twisted X featuring Outlaw.

Outlaw are a band made up of kids aged about 11 or 12. And they really play their instruments. It's not some studio nonsense.

The song might not win any awards, but for their age it's fantastic. All proceeds go to the Band Aid Trust, helping to alleviate poverty around the world. So, even if you hate it, this could be the best way to give a little bit of money to charity.

Go on, buy this record today.

purplesimon out...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Out hunting

And here's what I found:

Illustration Friday

I might attempt to do something with the prompt this week, if I have time.

purplesimon out...

Stories and songs

The last two posts were some other old bits I found that I thought you might like to read.

An evening - this was written just before I left home and is about my childhood room.

Fiction - this is about the lies that lovers tell one another. It's personal, but we don't need to think about that now. It's all in the past and therefore just a song.

Read, think and comment.

purplesimon out...


You can see me I'm a piece of fiction
but you read between the lines
so you say. You know the plot
you can see it in my eyes.
It's just the things we remember
we were told when we were young.
The only reason that there is for living
is so the dying can be done.

You put on your dancing shoes
with the country boys back home.
And all your ghosts of past
are restless on the phone.
You say, "Reflections are merely
a tale of a million lies."
Is it only your nonchalance
which your audacity defies?

I tell you, "When you're old
and I'm swinging on the angels' star,
I'll come back to kiss you
where you believe you are."
At first you laugh and look at me
as if I've slapped your face.
But, I read you like an open book
and I haven't lost my place.

Another old story: An evening

The curtain pushed the darkening sky out from my room. Thick, curling smoke hung like rosette ribbons. Books and magazines littered the floor, except for the woven rug that stood out like no man's land in the battlefield of mess surrounding it.

Two letters are laid out in the light of the lamp. They should have been posted, but are forgotten. Now left to be consumed by dust.

I lifted my drink and observed the debris of the day since gone into yesterday and tomorrow. I swallowed the chilled liquid and awaited the sun's arrival.

I reached for my tin, containing all the necessities for hand-rolled cigarettes and prepared to take another five minutes off of my life. I kicked out hard at the overflowing ashtray and the butts spilled out like blood from a wound. There will now be room for another cigarette butt.

The stomach in the sky rumbled for a moment. A storm would be a blessing, as the heat was making the air as thick as syrup. Except it doesn't taste as sweet. The curtains rippled with the evening breeze and, for a fleeting moment, I saw the street lamp through the window. The wind chimes are silent no longer.

I read my text for inspiration and glance dreamily around the room before reading some more and then picking up my pen.

The radiator in my room is red; it stands out from the wall like a boil. It does not fit the rest of the room. It is ugly. A blemish. One day I shall paint it and be rid of my personal Jupiter.

The bottles in my room stand guard on my palace as the thunder rumbles again and rolls off into the night. Sleep is hunting me in the jungle. I am its prey. It is impossible to stave off forever, but I shall delay it for now so that when it comes it will be welcome.

I extinguish a cigarette with one hand and roll a new one with the other hand. I suck on a beer and count the days until I will be free.

A change of face

As you may have noticed, my photo has changed. I happened to have Photoshop open (that fantastic Adobe application) and decided that I could do with a little filter to make my picture slightly different.

My profile has the larger version available, in case you're intrigued enough to look.

purplesimon out...

I keep finding these

All over my house, in notebooks and on pieces of paper are written poems and stories.

I keep finding them as I sort through boxes that haven't been unpacked since we moved in, back in April 2004. Most of them were buried in a wardrobe, which has since been demolished and taken for recycling at the local tip.

So, now you have the rants and the short story about a woman who liked being behind bars. Or something like that.

Read, think and comment.

purplesimon out...

The caged bird

I've always liked the feeling of bars, of being caged in. I don't know when it started, when I had that first feeling of the virgin bars enticing me. I think it probably began the first time I was taken to the shops by mother. A long time ago. I used to pick up a basket, place in my own shopping, acting like I was a mother, too.

I always put the same products in, the items from the shelves that I like are the same; never swerving from the same list, even if we were in a supermarket I'd never been in before. They always sold the same branded products.

  1. Greek yoghurt

  2. One small tin of baked beans

  3. Tampax Super, one

  4. One green pepper

  5. One red pepper

  6. Olives

  7. Pitta bread

  8. Bread (loaf)

  9. Milk (skimmed)

  10. Woman's Weekly Magazine

  11. One item that's not on the list.

The last item was the one I looked forward to most, the one I took my time over picking from its place on the shelf. Sometimes, I would purposely leave this until last, making the final item in my wire shopping-basket a chocolate sweet, or something similar available from the till. I always picked up a copy of Woman's Weekly magazine, just so I had something to read while I waited for the cashier to total up my purchases; it made me feel like a real mother.

When I'd emptied my basket on to the conveyor belt (a job my own mother would have to help me with, until I grew a little and became tall enough to reach it myself) I would pull the wire close to my face, pushing against my skin so that it left red marks in straight, parallel lines – marking me. I loved the feeling of being penned in, being behind something strong and containing.

I never suffered from claustrophobia, not ever. I could be held tightly behind metal bars and I wouldn't panic or feel my heartbeat quicken from the fear. My heartbeat only ever quickened due to the sexual excitement I felt.

There was a reason for this, too. My own mother liked to be locked in a cage. Men used to pay her just so they could watch her confined. Sometimes I would sneak downstairs to watch through the crack in the door, or through the keyhole. The men would be beating themselves in the groin, moaning; my mother just stood there, naked. I wanted to be behind the bars, just like my mother. I wanted to be a mother, too.

Now, looking back, it makes sense of my present situation, the place where I now find myself sitting. Bars surround me – a series of strong steel lengths, welded together. I might only have a bed, a toilet and a small basin, but I am where I want to be.

Where have these rants come from?

These rants were written between 1998 and 1999. They were produced for a magazine, but only two were used. The rest sat on my computer waiting for me to discover them. Which I did yesterday while I was looking for some freelance work I needed to print.

So, some of them are slightly out-of-date. I apologise.

Still, I like to think that they are still relevant as well as mildly funny.

What do you reckon?

Read, think, comment.

purplesimon out...

A series of rants - No.10

Rant #10

Strange things are afoot within the boundaries of the House of Commons. Several MPs have been 'outed' in recent months for not appearing as they actually are. Many have been forced into resignation and life on the backbenches, just because an investigative journalist decided to move a rung up the career ladder.

More disturbing is the confidential report from the Senior EU Executive for Outing, Mr. Gus van Bull-Schmidt who hails from Germany. Leaked to me by an insider spy is the full list of wannabe-MPs and who they actually are, as discovered by the Right Honourable van Bull-Schmidt in his fight against sleaze.

The report is not lengthy, nor waffling in its delivery, yet will have a profound effect on British politics likely to overshadow that of Bill Clinton's well publicised impeachment trial of recent times.

As we already know of Ron Davies', Peter Mandelson's, and Robin Cook's misdemeanours, divulging further information would prove no further point, but if I were to mention that the Prime Minister tops the list, to most it would come as a shocking surprise.

Tony Blair, Prime Minister to the people, for the people, our choice to lead our country, is not quite whom he said he was. You see Tony's real name is Lionel. Yes, Lionel Blair - he of 'Name That Tune' and 'Give Us A Clue' fame is now in charge of running this country. But where are the similarities?

Here I present Mr. van Bull-Schmidt's observations which, though superfluous to his ability to "do the job in hand", begs the question: how did he fool us for so long?

The Blairs share the same bouffant hair, although 'Tony' has dispensed with the highlights he favoured in the 1980s. Lionel and Tony also share the same beaming, albeit patronising, smile. It is certainly no "mere coincidence" notes Mr. van Bull-Schmidt.

Our learned colleague has also been able to observe 'Tony' in the relative privacy of Number 10. During these "official" visits, Mr. van Bull-Schmidt alleges he witnessed 'Tony' dancing - not a boogie à la Disco style, but adding deft twirls and expert foot placement - with an abandonment of a shackled man suddenly free to express himself.

As you ponder this thought, consider this: 'Tony' engaged his family, the cabinet, and Mr. van Bull-Schmidt in a game of charades. On the surface it appears as a perfect way to wind down at the end of the day, but the report alleges either 'Tony Blair' cheats at charades or he is indeed king of the mime. My money is on the latter.

If, after all this irrefutable evidence, you still consider 'Tony' to be who he says he is, remember that Michael Aspel has so far been refused access to 'Tony's' family life for a special "This Is Your Life" and Una Stubbs has disappeared from the scene, only to return with a new hairstyle and calling herself Cherie. Tony Blair I out you. Remember, you heard it here first.

A series of rants - No.9

Rant #09

On the 13th December 1998, an attaché case was accidentally left on the back seat of a London black cab. The missing case was overlooked by its owner for three days before a member of the public called my office to give me details of the "Scoop of the Century". Over four months on from that date I received a knock at my door.

Upon opening it, I was met by an agitated courier who promptly handed me a black attaché case and small envelope before fleeing. Inside the envelope was the following message: View the contents of this case with caution. What could the case possibly contain?

I pushed away any thoughts of telephoning the Anti-Terrorist Squad - if it is a bomb, perhaps I will achieve fame from the resulting explosion; no bomb equals scoops. The case had a security lock on both fasteners. Having watched Pulp Fiction I knew the code was probably 666. How right I was to suspect a lack of originality from the owner (previous) of said attaché case. I expect their bicycle lock is also easy to override, along with their, until now, state-of-the-art anti-theft car alarm system.

With the fasteners clicked back I slowly lifted the lid and peered inside. The next audible sound was that of my jaw falling through the floor. It was not a bomb, the contents of the attaché case heralded a video cassette. As you can imagine, I waited for my video player to begin with feverish anticipation. Within minutes a warning message had flashed across the screen, reminding the viewer of the strictly confidential content of the programme which followed.

As the screen faded to black my anticipation reached boiling point. To the blast of a fanfare the opening scene was sprung upon me; Fern Britten was being tied-up by Brian Harvey and Anthony Worrell-Thompson. Intrigued, I watched on.

A voice-over introduced the video with "THIS IS A PILOT", which at least confirmed the confidentiality of the programme. With Ms. Britten compromised by rope and gag, Messrs. Harvey and Worrell-Thompson explained the nature of this new show, to be titled "Robin 'Steady' Cook".

Hosted by the Foreign Secretary himself, working with his own personal recipes, the two chefs have to provide a meal for thousands of refugees in only twenty minutes.
As with all of Mr. Cook's plans, they are doomed to failure. The report which accompanies the programme reveals that the ingredients for the dishes were not consolidated within the first week, thus refugees remained hungry after trekking hundreds of miles to safety.

Thankfully, there is a solution: broadcast Mr. Cook being roasted; the programme shall be called Spitting Image.

A series of rants - No.8

Rant #08

Education is important. Or is it?

Ever noticed the parental problems associated with education, examples of which include the know-it-all offspring? If you greet the ominous question with the retort, 'well, I wasn't/ am not like that!' then you belong to one of the following groups:

  1. Too old to remember a misspent youth.

  2. Too young to have motivated your education further than the irksome question, why?

  3. At just the right age group where you know it all anyway, so where is the point in reading further.

If the answer to all three questions is no, then obviously you are of male gender and hence are annoying know-it-alls from the day you learn to utter words of one syllable.

Inadvertently, in the process of composing this erudite eulogy, I have ostracised a significant proportion of today's society. For those of you still persevering, there is more to come.

There is an old English proverb: Ignorance is Bliss. There is enough truth in this statement for it to be universally accepted. Admittedly, one would have to be educated to a reasonable standard to understand the statement, but if I were ignorant not a care in the world for me. Of course, to saturate oneself in ignorance requires a minimal amount of funding and a television. Soap Operas and Chat Shows are the staple diet of naïve couch potatoes; a diet of 'Fat Show' hosts together with a disgusting array of implausible plots designed purely for Agoraphobes.

If this sounds like another of my hair-brained schemes, fear not. I know this idea works because of the American idiosyncratic nature it aspires to emulate.

Okay, too extreme. Which conveniently leads me to another profound observation for educating our siblings: The Reproach Approach. The gem of this hypothesis is the humour as the reverse psychology begins to unfold. Too many times children purposely disobey their parents because they have been told not to do something, e.g. don't climb that tree you'll hurt yourself. No prizes for guessing the outcome of the vast majority of these. So turn it to your favour.

Firstly, tell your children not to bother with the study of Mathematics or the English Language. Use your most stern voice. Follow up with a threat of indefinite grounding should you discover them contemplating science or history. Soon enough they will mature into grade A students. By making education appear to be a complete waste of time, a positive effect is induced within the individual's learning. Many of you now will begin to see a cyclic effect developing here.

Early in the new Millennium, as vast proportion of individuals will have little or no education as the world experiences a dumbing down, caused by a period of Soap Operas and Talk Shows - known as S'Oprahs - encapsulated in bliss. Parents will no longer need to be reminded to tell their offspring that education is dull because they will believe it. The outcome being children will become educated because they believe it is bad for them.

All we have to hope now is that somebody produces some damn good television programmes in the next twenty five years.

A series of rants - No.7

Rant #07

A question that I am often asked is: "Why are we here?" Herein lies the Achilles Heel of all mankind. In denoting it to be a question, stress is often placed within the latter part of a sentence, as in "Why are we here?" Indeed, it is obvious to me that the wrong question is being posed. I shall now turn my attention to what is patently the correct question: "Why are we here?" The difference between the two is subtle, yet the chasm between the answers is profound.

Question One: The simple answer is, I don't know. In the 4.8 aeons it has taken for the Earth to evolve nobody has been able to reciprocate with an ideal response, suggesting to us enlightened ones that there is no answer. Similar questions exist in our quotient of human existence: How did Jimmy Tarbuck become famous? Who buys Jeffrey Archer's books? There simply is no wrong or right answer.

Question Two: This question has one common answer among academics: we should not be! A favourable majority would happily give up what they have to do something else, something they perceive as ideal. Throughout our colourful history, many indigenous species and races have seemingly disappeared without trace. The Ancient Egyptians, Mayans, dinosaurs; all have pondered their existence and thought 'Bugger this, I'm off'.

Now part of myth and legend, there is no need to partake in the eternal quest of asking soul-searching questions.

Before six billion people err on the wrong side of reason and commit suicide, it is evidently plain that another, more fulfilling role is within our grasp. We too can join these ancient races and break the cycle of endless philosophical inference. How? Simple, we hide.

No longer will prophets reiterate catechismal outpourings for the sake of global unity in the face of such ardent questioning. We know the answer: we are here because we no longer wish to be there. All the trappings of modern living will be discarded for the common cause of concealment. We can watch in amusement as the new generation colonise our forgotten cities, towns, villages, and hamlets and let them wonder why we built skyscrapers, McDonalds restaurants, zoos, roads, the Sinclair C5, ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, now that the shackles which have bound us to our duty of work, work, work, rest, and occasionally play, are thrown off, the people of this spinning molten globe are going to have to find alternative means with which to spend their time.
Ideally, all the free-time which will now be afforded us should be spent regarding those things important to the on-going evolution of the human race. Namely the question: "Why are we here?"

A series of rants - No.6

Rant #06

There is one thing in life that is never guaranteed... happiness. Nobody is ever in, or can ever be in, a permanent state of bliss. I'm sure there are many people out there who can point to exceptions, but generally the rule is hard and fast. I have discovered recently why this is.

On a recent visit to the big smoke from my coastal home, I chanced upon the key to eternal happiness, and the fact that attaining this status is easy, maintaining it is nigh on impossible. Without the use of some very dubious substances, happiness is at best short-lived, at worst fleeting. It was at this point, a discreet observation gave me the insight to the perennial human problem. Moaning. Herein lies the reason behind our occasional chinks of happiness.

Moaning is not the sole reason for this, it must be coupled with another symptom, but the underlying principle is our inbuilt ability to complain about everything. Lonely people are a perfect example. Instead of filling their time with hobbies or the art of being social (usually drinking to excess), they sit about becoming withdrawn, introvert and boring.

This leads to massive depression. When they finally do meet people, all they can do, in way of conversation, is prattle on about how lonely they are, how empty their life etc, etc, etc... ad infinitum. This is hardly going to get you to 'bond' with them and perhaps hang out together, more likely you will be offering to swap seats with someone else in the pub or excusing yourself to use the loo. Not happy.

Worse are those people who refuse to stop working and cannot enjoy the fruits of their labour. Whenever they do take a break from the grind and enjoy human company, they insist on talking about work - including those stories where you "really had to be there"!

What is most uncanny about happiness is how benign it actually is. Laughter is infectious, happiness is malignant in comparison. When a colleague is happy, how glad we are for them. I don't think so. We are scheming behind their back, asking others how 'they' got to be so lucky. We attempt to pick arguments with them, just to take the edge off of their day. In essence, we moan about happiness, no wonder we cannot harness it properly.

Is there a universal solution? I hear you all cry. Well, I have thought long and hard about this question, all the while constructing this column, and it appears not. After all, I have spent all my words complaining about those who moan about everything, and I'm not entirely happy. The trick is: make them think you are.

A series of rants - No.5

Rant #05

While I sit at my kitchen table, pondering as to what the content of this column should include, a thousand million ideas flash through my brain. Unfortunately, none of these neuron-nuances have produced a definitive cognitive response. In other words I have writer's block.

The only reasonable thought to stay nestled in my cranium is to write: WATCH THIS SPACE, leaving the remainder of the column blank. It would certainly be 'akin to' what is resident in my conscience! Still I am no closer to completing what is slowly becoming an arduous task.

As I plough through dust covered tomes, assembled to provide an evolutionary spark of inspiration, I am struck by a sudden, jaw-dropping deduction: my mind is still blank. Reminiscent of those times others ask if one takes sugar with their tea, an authoritative figure asks for your date of birth, or when your ultimate idol is flesh-and-blood-REAL in front of you. Dumbfounded, speechless, gob-smacked; it all amounts to the same: the brain is being selfish, with-holding information.

Perhaps I am failing in my attempt to push the correct buttons: the cumulative effect of mass-media is mesmerising; an overload to a delicate system called thought. Could this be the root of my problem?

Of course, there are times when one wishes the collective cells of the brain would be less coherent and present an expanse of things to say; the concession for verbal diarrhoea. These often occur at the most inopportune of moments - those who feel the unearthly need to apologise when they obviously not in the wrong, talk in a cinema, or sit next to you on an already intolerably long bus journey while spouting their life history. Or feeling it necessary to divulge the results of a football match you were hoping to view from video!

Even now though, I am still no closer tom a fair representation of my repartee, or extolling the omnipotence of the written word.

So now, after endless cups of black coffee and a lung-busting consumption of cigarettes, I have arrived at the conclusion that creating a readable column from twenty-six letters of the alphabet is not my forte. While Shakespeare and his contemporaries have managed to complete literary masterpieces, volumes of manuscripts, and general writings without resorting to banging their respective heads against a brick wall, the five words which consolidate my random thoughts into fluid, intelligent and interesting text are really the get-out-clause of the lazy and asinine individuals: I have nothing to say!

A series of rants - No.4

Rant #04

What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again.
Most of us (?) remember the original incantation of this pop song, but many of us have missed the underlying humour in the poetic lyric. The irony here is that an American sang these words as if they meant something. Recent years have seen the good old U.S. of A. getting embroiled in an increasing number of skirmishes around the globe.

Unfortunately for them, they have either lost (badly) or have only performed the task half-arsed. War, therefore, is not good for Americans.

Irony is often dispensed with gigantic dollops of sarcasm, but it is deeper than that. Irony is dark humour, or more commonly labelled Black Comedy; there are hilarious examples throughout our daily lives.

Advertisements provide us with a mug's gallery of ironic statements; for example take BUPA.

In a recent campaign they warn us to look after our bodies and they 'will last a lifetime'. Well excuse me BUPA, but if I decide to bombard my body with an array of carcinogens and genetically-modified cow blubber, my body will still last a lifetime, only that lifetime may well become shorter!

Or how about Domestos? Kills all known germs. Dead. Can you kill germs and not be putting them six feet under, so to speak?

The irony in 'Fresh Frozen', or 'Vegetarian Sausage Rolls'; have we really considered these?

Now. I can hear you all saying: "That is merely bad English." Well, there is something ironic about this too: the Better English Campaign produced a significant amount of advertising in daily newspapers, hardly the place for proper English - nobody could read the adverts anyway because we're all illiterate. Ironic, eh?

Of all the examples, the Widget is, perhaps, the most sardonic of all. Why? Because of three wonderful paradoxes:

  1. The widget takes up an inch in the bottom of the can, thus the consumer is receiving less beer.

  2. Less whimsical, but just as important, is that the widget enables your beer to 'froth' as you pour, designed to give the recipient a 'pub-feel' to their pint. Instead you get a half pint of wasted froth. Now, if this were a pub, the drinker would simply ask for a top-up. No self-confessed beer monster will put themselves in the ignominious situation of marching down the off licence and demanding another can. Free.

  3. Finally, and most importantly, the widget has removed the recyclability of the can; plastic and metal cannot be recycled together as the widget is difficult to remove, as market research by Elastoplast will no doubt show. The solution is landfill.

How ironic.

So, drinking is not good for the environment, nor the body, so joining BUPA is not now an option. With food now containing genetically-modified extra-terrestrial lunacy, war will seem like a Godsend. If the Germans invade us we will give them all bleach. It kills all known Germ[an]s. Dead.

A series of rants - No.3

Rant #03

Have you ever misheard something and believed it to be true? Within discourse, one may, unbeknown, assume the essence of the language to be true when only the replacement of one word will render its meaning to be different. A prime example of this phenomenon is the Jimi Hendrix song, Purple Haze.

When I first happened upon this most vital of 60's flower-power recordings, I marvelled at how Mr. Hendrix had paved the way for homosexuals and heterosexuals to live alongside one another, united. It was not for sometime I subsequently realised it was the purpose of getting high Mr. Hendrix was extolling and "this guy" he was making me aware of was indeed a forerunner of 'Mr. Blue Sky'.

Now I am aware many parenting individuals will exasperate their ignorance of their children's listening material, but this has gone on for many a generation and is not the sole reason for me to be writing. No, I am concerned with misinterpretation.

I now intend to provide a more recent example, which may clarify my attempt to implore insight. A certain French car manufacturer has instigated a campaign for its new car, described by the advertisement as being "a toughened gerbil!" Upon listening in a more forthright manner, it occurred to me the words were actually "tough and durable". The nauseating American nature of the advertisement coupled with the cowboy-twang attached to the spoken word allowed for a simple misinterpretation and a significant loss of product exposure, and subsequent recall. If one cannot understand, one will not care for the information.

A further example is Buck Rogers in the 21st Century. I clearly remember the contributors to Points of View being dismayed at the blatant utilisation of vulgar vocabulary. The offending words were? Funk and Wagnall's, an American dictionary which, when spoken at an increased velocity, may be construed as an expletive. You can be excused for thinking that in the next century we may have conquered nearly every communication barrier, if not all, but being only a few hundred days away, and at the beginning of a new communications era, it appears we have far to go.

In opposition are those who believe it all to be a clever marketing ploy; the syllabic use of the word 'vacant' by The Sex Pistols or Heineken's 'Smooth-talking Bar Steward' prove that misinterpretation is now of marketable quality. It is clever, designed to emancipate the consumer from the patronization of certain hair, beer, and car advertising.

If you have been fortunate enough to escape the embarrassment of mishearing or misinterpreting a line in a song or advertisement, don't rest on your laurels, spare a thought for the Björk fan.

A series of rants - No.2

Rant #02

Contrary to popular belief, men don't come from Mars and women from Venus, although it has to be said, it does appear to be that way. Men and women do in fact come from parents.

Parents, as all siblings will confirm, do come from an entirely different planet, quite possibly a different solar system. Becoming a parent eclipses all that the lunar landing, the Hubble telescope and the Viking probe have, put together. It is only when we consider few have landed on the moon (or been into space for that matter) – whereas anyone can become a parent – that the notion of understanding children slips into the category of bizarre, even dangerous.

Astronauts undergo rigorous training before undertaking the arduous journey into space. Parents, on the other hand, are catapulted into the unknown without the merest hint of the incumbent complexities dominating parenthood. So steep is the learning curve - some say 'practically vertical' - is it any wonder many find themselves slipping back when faced with the incongruous duty of being a sprog-bearer? The progeny themselves are in no state to help the situation.

The problems begin with our short-sighted nature of classification; an endless list of hyponyms which only serve to confuse: newborn, toddler, pre-pubescent, pubescent, teenager, adolescent, adult... superfluous by their very nature.

These classifications are served upon our offspring as justification for any actions they may wish to embark upon, only doing something because it is considered to be the 'done thing'. A useful excuse.

Children have always cited the 'you-don't-understand' motto when faced with parents' discipline. Surely this idiom should be exploited by the child-bearers rather than the snotty siblings whom they have given the creative spark to - mother and father were children once themselves, rarely are children the procreator. Now, through much digression we hit the dilemma: how can parents relate to their children while avoiding the usual mater/pater pitfalls? Easy. The time has come to turn the tables.

When faced with the antagonism of the younger generation, simply revert to a childlike manner, the traits of which can be copied from the aforementioned antagonists! Sulk, stamp your foot, scream, repeat 'IT'S NOT FAIR' at the top of your voice, storm off, cry (but do not succumb to tears), apply the elephantine-principle when using stairs, slam doors, and create general havoc for those surrounding you. Perhaps then, parents will remember the joys of being young and the next generation will edge a bit closer to giving the respect the majority of parents deserve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A series of rants - No.1

Rant #01

Crime Wave Announcement. It has come to my attention that a new breed of Underworld Super-Criminal is lurking in every home in the United Kingdom. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes are really quite ordinary, blending into the background so well it is almost impossible to tell they are murderers.

Before the inevitable panic sets in, and Crimestoppers receive an unprecedented amount of telephone calls, let me throw more light on these dark, criminal individuals. I now name the perpetrators of nearly 1000 deaths in the United Kingdom every year: alarm clocks, bedside lamps, baths, socks, beds, and stairs.

Surely these innocent inanimate objects cannot be the cause of so much pain and misery? They are.

Alarm clocks and bedside lamps kill fifteen people every year. One can only assume they saw the light and it was their time to go. A third as many again are killed falling out of bed! Do these people have mattresses ten feet high,placed on a concrete floor? Baths claim the lives of thirty people a year, proving cleanliness is next to godliness. If you think these facts are unbelievable try this one for size: socks have caused the death of sixty people per year. The only conclusions I can draw from this is the stress of trying, often fruitlessly, to locate the matching sock is an unknown cause of sudden heart failure; or is it because partners, fed up with snoring, are stuffing smelly socks down their loved ones' throat, just to get a good night's kip? The mind boggles.

The final killer is perhaps the most obvious: stairs. These claim the lives of nearly two people a day, or just over 600 per year! The queues at the Post Office every Thursday seem to condemn this as a falsehood, but with the younger generation accounting for only 20% of the UK population perhaps we should make steps steeper?

What this information shows is not how dangerous our world is - it is actually the safest it has ever been - but that everything we do, 24 hours a day, is a calculated risk. I first chanced upon this word when I spotted it, printed boldly, on a board game of that name. The only risk with the game was one of falling asleep. Really, it should be renamed a 'bored game'.

These risks named above are probably relatively small compared to say, drinking, smoking, and eating beef on the bone. True? Almost.

Alcohol kills thirty eight times more people than alarm clocks, socks, beds, lamps, baths, and stairs put together; tobacco about fifty times. Beef on the bone, perhaps considered to be one of the most dangerous substances known to mankind (?), kills about six. Not six times, six people.

With these facts to hand, I propose the following: stay in bed, in the dark with your alarm clock buzzing, eating beef on the bone. Don't wash and remain naked. Remember, under no circumstances go downstairs. If you find you have nothing to do, play RISK. At least it will remind you how exciting your life really is.

Whistle while I work

This morning has been work, work and some more work. Nothing but work. Well, for five minutes my clients can whistle while I take time off work.

Sorry, there are a lot of repetitions of the word 'work' in that last statement. At least I have the sentence structure to write a Harry Potter book.

Okay, let's get serious for a minute.

I don't have a problem with Harry Potter per se, but I do seem to be befuddled about the amount of adults reading it. This includes members of my immediate family. With so many great books out there, what drives people to purchase a book for children? I just can't figure it out.

I read a quote recently that said JK Rowling didn't get published for her writing but because of the concept she had. Now, I don't want this to sound like sour grapes - I wish Ms Rowling all the best and if I had a similar idea I would love to be in her position - but if concepts are all it takes to sell books, then reading is a dying art form.

So, if you're an adult and love Harry Potter, I'd love to hear your thoughts on why you love it. Please be intelligent - ranting at my opinion will only go to prove my (subtle) point.

purplesimon out..

Monday, July 18, 2005

Upsetting the Status Quo

Quite literally, actually.

I was at a festival this weekend. My father is a fan of the band Status Quo. He rarely gets to see them, so as a present for his birthday I got tickets to this festival and went along with him. Now, while they were poor on songwriting, they made up for it in entertainment.

It was while I was mullet-spotting (if you're unsure what a mullet is, see here.) that I had this idea.

So, if you want to see how I am upsetting the status quo, check out this link.

It's not the best use of Photoshop and won't win any prizes, but it is so true: slightly mouldy, functional and mildly entertaining if you put your mind to it. That's Potatus Quo.

Read, think, comment.

purplesimon out...

Friday, July 15, 2005

That's what it feels like

The post below is about the events of last Thursday, in London.

I've had some conversations with people around the world and it's like it happened years ago, not just over a week. I wondered why this was. The poem is my thoughts on it.

Read, think, comment.

purplesimon out...

Awakened by bombs

Sitting, watching ghosts
A past life seen
through red-rimmed eyes
and smoke curling to the ceiling

Flickered light; a disco
in the front room
of every home in this world
It's all we believe; it's life distilled

Our conversations the same
Did you see? Last night
we watched that, too
Nothing real matters. No reality

Until the day comes
when the world bites back
A reminder of our
culpability. It takes this. To remind us

And, we sit around
taking it all in
With the press of a button
we can forget and pretend it didn't happen

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Where have I been?

Throughout the last few, very hot days, I have been stuck in front of a computer, writing about Corporate Christmas Cards.

I've created a couple of blogs. These won't be going on the right-hand side of my personal blog, but if you really want to see them I've posted links to them below:

One is here
The other is here

You'll see that they have the same text on and practically the same links. They all link to Byron Elliott, the same company I linked to on my last post. It's work. Still, my HTML tags have gotten a lot better and I am now quicker at writing the old href tag.

Still, it's not the best in the world, but it brings in the money. For reasons that I can't ever divulge on this blog, I need it.

I intend to use tomorrow to write some new stuff. I think I might go back to my roots and get some poetry up on this blog. The world needs poetry at the moment. I warn you now, though, it can be quite dark, my poetry.

purplesimon out...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Christmas is coming

Yep, this is not a joke post. Christmas is coming.

I know that this kind of thing takes time to sort out, but it does seem to be getting earlier each year. This time, though, there is good reason.

A friend of mine has a business designing and printing Corporate Christmas Cards, either with a unique cartoon design or with a more traditional picture on.

The USP here is that he gives 15% to the charity of your choice. Yes, your choice, not his or anyone else's you might care to mention. Now, that's great.

I see it as taking something back from the corporate moneymakers out there and passing it to a worthy cause. Think of him as a modern day Robin Hood. But, without a band of merry men. And no Maid Marion. And he doesn't live in a forest.

Okay, I admit, the Robin Hood analogy was poor.

Still, if you're in the market for Corporate Christmas Cards and would like to see 15% of your spend handed over to a charity of your choice, go visit his site here.

purplesimon out...

Monday, July 11, 2005

First day back

Today was always going to be weird. Getting on the tube was hard enough and with lines still closed it really brought home how terrible this whole situation is.

I don't know what to say about it: I don't want to rant or to try and get political - there are better places to get that kind of comment.

All I can say is how dismayed I am at the tactics these people use and hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

My sympathies go to everyone who has lost a friend or family member, to anyone that knows someone who is still missing.

As a Londoner, I am still trying to absorb the shock of what has happened. It was a sad day for the human race. What lessons can we learn?

purplesimon out...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

From bombs to bootlegs

There are no words that can describe what happened in London today. I could just spray vitriol at things, beings, people, etc, but that would achieve little. I want to contemplate these events and comment appropriately when I've got something worth adding to what is already out there.

I will, however, comment on this at some point, you can be sure of that.

I wanted to get something lighter up today, so as not to remember this day because of bombs.

So, I wanted to tell you about Go Home Productions instead. This amazing chap takes two different songs and melds them into one track. It's called mash-up or bootleg - although to me, being a child of the 1970s and 1980s, I like to remember bootlegs as those tapes made at concerts by people with "hidden" recorders and microphones, which were often nothing but crowd noise and the odd snatch of music, distorted beyond belief.

Well, GHP has kindly placed some of his early tracks up for download. See his site; he's a good friend of a good friend and, in my opinion, one of the best at this mash-up malarky. Check him out, spread the word.

purplesimon out...

Monday, July 04, 2005

(In)famous at last

I wrote out a long post for this part and then my browser crashed. I've now lost it, so you get a summarised version of the original now!

I wanted to say a thank you to Biz Stone.

Anyone that has been to his wonderful site will know that he is looking for a new idea for a book. Now, Biz is someone that truly deserves the title of Dr. Blog. Perhaps he should write a film instead, a Hong Kong martial arts movie, titled: The Way of the Blog. That would be a good movie to see.

But, I'm rambling again. Nothing new there, though.

The point of the post is to say thanks. Why? Well, if you visit this page, you'll see the idea I had and, if you've already been to Biz's page, you'll have seen what lovely things he has said about it.

I'm now trying hard to think of some more. I really hope the final book does contain this idea. I reckon, the sillier they suggestions are, the more likely that Biz will be compelled to write the book.

If you haven't already done so, get along to Biz Stone's website and send in your idea.

The wackier the better.

Profound and sincere apologies to Biz Stone if he now gets inundated with stupid ideas. If that happens, perhaps the new book will be about how this man from America flies to the UK and tracks down the person that ruined his blog?

Excuse me while I go into hiding.

purplesimon out...

The return of Dr. Blog

It's on. The meeting, that is. Tomorrow.

I know I am not allowed to blog about it, but I thought that, instead of talking about the experience, I should tell other London-based (or close to London) bloggers about this PhD student.

If you want to take part in the creation of Dr. Blog, you can find out some information here or there is a blog by the soon-to-be Dr.Blog, here.

The big question now is: do I take biscuits?

purplesimon out...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Too much information

That's the problem with academics. They have so much revolving around in their heads that everyday tasks, such as remembering the time and date of a meeting, is beyond them.

However, they are usually great people to be around and a source of inspiration.

Dr. Blog, who is actually yet to become a full-blown PhD holder, is one such person.

I was hoping to blog my experience of meeting with this chap and talking about my posts, but he has insisted that I don't, in case others out there in blog-land are also speaking to him.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel our meeting of last week and was hoping to meet this week coming, while I am on a break from freelancing (my choice, not a lack of work). However, Dr. Blog's brain is so full he forgot our new appointment time and date. Within 24 hours!

Academics, you've got to love them.

It made me smile, but also made me sigh in a resigned way.

Write things down!

That's some free advice. Buy (or steal) a calendar or diary and write things down in it. You may find it makes your life easier.

I hope that Dr. Blog doesn't take offence at this blog, but as a busy person I have to regulate my life to ensure that I always know what's happening and when it's happening.

I've sent Dr. Blog an email, and I will update you on the progress of this interview that I'm not allowed to talk about. Of course, if it doesn't happen I'll blog the whole shameful episode and be done with it.

(a slightly miffed) purplesimon out...