Sunday, February 27, 2011

Here, have a pretty picture

To balance out the snarky last post I'd like to tip the balance by showing you a nice photo. This photo is from a shoot I did for a lovely band called Alice's Evidence. The band wanted an ethereal feel to their promo photo so we (we being myself and Graham Birks) used a few neat lighting tricks. Enjoy!

Alices_Evidence_2nd_shoot-October 30, 2010-_ASL5931

How I ended up in the bargain box before I was published.

A few years ago I wrote a (sort of) true story about a night I spent trapped in a NCP car park in Catford, it was quite a meaty tale so I published it as a standalone zine called 'A Short tale of a NCP car park nightmare'. All four or five hundred copies trotted out of the door to punters and zine distros and I thought no more of it. Until last week that is...

Last weekend I took a trip to the Brighton Zine Fest to catch up with old friends and marvel at the healthy state of the UK zine scene. While doing the rounds I caught up with Mr.T from Lights Go Out zine/ distro and noticed he had a box under his table labelled 'free - please take one'. I asked Mr.T if there was anything in his freebie box that I had published, he grinned and pulled out a copy of my NCP zine!

I laughed, he laughed, and the story could (and should) have ended there, but not content with consigning me to the freebie box Mr.T then tried to talk me into taking copies of my own zine back home with me.  I laughed, he laughed, and then he said,

"No, seriously, please take it."

Ho-hum, for every little step forward we get a little push back...

That title is a bit of a lie I guess, I've been published plenty of times (mostly in zines) but I'm yet to publish a book.  This whole post is very tongue in cheek - Mr.T is an enthusiastic advocate of underground publishing, and we could do with a LOT more folk like him in this world!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Is alliteration always attractive?

I've always been a fan of bouncy prose, I love reading the lyrical writing of writers like P.G.Wodehouse but have never dared to presume that I have the ability to get away with the alliteration of swinging silly syllables in my own work.

But occasionally I fail to resist the temptation (see below) and while I try and make sure my writing is appealing to a broad audience I love occasionally indulging myself and having a bit of a muck about with words. The example below is from a book I'm working on at the moment.

What guilty pleasures are lurking in your writing?

"So Sam and Charlie zipped their coats up and settled down to a late supper of improbably flavoured potato chips and chemical warfare inspired fizzy pop.  Literature is literally and liberally littered with loads of lovely stories of souls overlooking personal differences, and fortunately finding that when faced with formidable feisty foes they can fight shoulder to shoulder for a common cause.  In George Orwell’s ‘1984’ folk founded friendships as a reaction to fascist forces, in that car park, on that night Sam and Charlie found common ground over foul foods."

I have a new blog!

From now on I will only post writing/ creative/ random bits and bobs on this blog.

For all technical and web related articles please visit the blog on my new company website at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

People of Brighton & Hove, have £35 on me!

I'm sure the blogosphere is thick with people complaining about parking fines, and because I'm a fan of fairness I thought I'd tilt the balance a little. The tone of this post may come across as a little sarcastic, and if you view in that way, well that's up to you.

Last weekend my wife and I had a delightful stay with a friend who lives on the seafront in Hove (I only point out that it was Hove because people living in Hove don't like being accused of living in Brighton).  Not being the sorts of folk who can afford chauffeurs we took our aging automobile with us, or rather it took us (I guess), and that of course meant that we needed somewhere to leave the vehicle while we were indoors drinking fine wine and discussing the proletariat.

"Not a problem' my friend piped up when my wife and I raised the issue, "Here, have a parking permit!"  He said, "How marvellous!" we replied.

 We placed one of Brighton and Hove City Council's scratch and sniff parking permits in our car window and thought no more of it, and it was the thinking no more of it that was our downfall.

One long conversation on political theory led to another, and wine led to port (which in turn led to whiskey) and I  just plum forgot to get up early enough the following morning to pop a fresh new scratch and sniff parking permit in our car.  So I got a parking fine...

BUT! And it's a very big butt, I really do believe that the fine was justified (because it was my fault I didn't get up early enough to put a new permit in my car), and if it wasn't for Brighton & Hove City Council traffic wardens working on Sundays then my friend would never be able to park within ten miles of his home at least one day out of seven!  The fine was a quite reasonable £35 if we pony up the dough forthwith, and a rather steeper £70 if we were to drag our Cubans.

Now this is where it gets cool...
When I got home I logged onto the Brighton and Hove City Council website and was taken to a parking ticket punishment do-dad powered by  Obviously paying parking fines is never a ton of fun, but speaking as someone who spends half his life assessing online systems I have to say the Brighton and Hove City Council/ YooPark system was great!  In IT terms it is gloriously 'joined up', and what impressed me more than anything was the amount of photos of ones misdemeanour that are on offer!  I wasn't going to contest this ticket because I know it's my own fault I forgot the extra permit, but even if someone did want to quibble there's really no point.  Thank goodness a city council has given thought to improving the clarity in the way parking fines are administered.  Instead of grumbling as I reached for my wallet (well my wife's wallet if you must know) I was horribly amused by the whole process; it's like being your own voyeur!

Seeing as I guess I've now paid for these photos of my (rather filthy) car I thought I might as well get my money's worth and share them with you for your entertainment:

So there you have it, people of Brighton and Hove, you're welcome to my £35, and I hope you spend it on something nice like libraries.  I dearly love Brighton, and it's nice to contribute to the upkeep of the place.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My writing soundtrack.

This post was inspired by something similar over on D.J.Kirkby's delightful blog, so this idea is far from original, but the music listened to while trying to be creative is a topic that comes up often in writing circles, so I thought I may as well stick my oar in.

I have been playing in bands and putting on shows since I was about fourteen years old, and music is so a part of my soul that I think my perspective is slightly skewed from the accepted norm.  For many years what music represented (and how creative it was) seemed so much more important to me than how good a tune was, which I now realise is a bit silly really - a good tune is a good tune regardless, any further analysis (especially ethical) only detracts from ones enjoyment.

That being said, I have been writing about music for about ten years now, and my deep entrenchment in the alternative/ underground/ punk(ish) music scene (through publishing my own zine, and writing for others) can't be ignored as a contributing factor in my tastes.

Enough of that guff, on with the music!
Rather than dissecting this very small selection of the music I listen to whilst writing (maybe in a Nick Hornby style) I'm going to let the music speak for itself, and hope that maybe you discover something new here that you go on to investigate further.  Scratching below the surface of commercial music to discover the remarkable gems that lay beneath is a truly wonderful thing.

I listen to a lot of instrumental music while I'm writing, I find the lyrics in some of the more politicised music I listen to just too damned distracting.  The harsh truth is that a lot of the music I listen to while writing sits in the background, I like the company, but not the influence!

I have tried to make this selection as varied as possible, so if there's something you don't like (and please do give these tracks a chance) then don't run away, try the next track!

One final point - just because I've described my tastes in music as 'alternative' don't assume that means they'll be noisy and/ heavy or punky!

I love the swing and swoop of this band, it's epic but endearing.

Happy Music!

I'm not afraid to admit the majesty in some tracks by MONO has brought be close to tears before.

Okay, so this one does get a little bit heavy...

Hopefully if you've made it this far into proceedings then you're overcome any fear you may have had of heavy guitars, Pelican create some really beautiful music.

And this last choice is a bit cheeky because it's a band I play in! The video was made for us in Hungary.

Sometimes Suffolk stifles successful spelling.

It's a cliché, but the English language is one of the hardest in the world to learn, not least of all for those who speak it as a first language.  It's not so much that it's difficult to speak correctly (although there are several famous folk who appear to struggle), it's not even the case that it is particularly difficult to structure written sentences correctly (although those who have read my writing may claim I struggle, especially when I use too many brackets, like right now).  The real challenge (in my opinion) is spelling the words we wish to use.

The English language isn't phonetically accurate, and when we take into consideration regional dialect the issue becomes more complex, and I think that's the murky swamp from whence the beast that is my problem with spelling arises from.

Growing up in Suffolk and learning to pronounce local place names confuses the issue of spelling correctly , when in my formative years I was learning the alphabet, and where convention dictates we scatter silent vowels I was unable to put the theory into practice.  I won't go into great detail and list many examples, in fact I'll give you just one: when I was a teenager I worked in a village called 'Debach', now I'd like you to take a moment to consider how that name is pronounced.... Got it?  Unless you read ahead you might be surprised to learn that Debach is in fact pronounced as 'Debbagge'.  Interesting? Not really to be honest, but when I woke up this morning I thought it might make a half passable blog post...

Monday, February 21, 2011

One of the only stroppy letters I have ever written

This post was originally published on the (now long since defunct) 

A DVD Recorder seemed to the be perfect solution to us not having a tv. We would of course give the DVD recorder to my sister. Sadly when the dvd recorder arrived it looked like it had been thrown from a moving vehicle at a mob of monkeys holding crow bars and partaking in some sort of sponsored technology smashing event. Here's the email I sent to my supplier's customer service department. I'll keep you updated as to what they say. 

Dear sir or robot,

Today I took delivery of PYE dvd recorder (see attached invoice for more details).

There were no visible signs of damage to the box that contained the dvd recorder to I happily signed for the item at the depot. As I’m sure you can appreciate actually opening an item at a depot and giving it a forensic level examination is just not possible.

When I got the box home I was disappointed to find the device simply rattling around in the box with just two strips of air pockets and no other protection. I was more than a little concerned that the instruction booklet was damp but decided to overlook this and picked the device out of the box.

My first problem was that the drive front was missing, I couldn’t even find it in the box.

I am stunned that someone in your warehouse packed this dvd recorder assuming a gaping whole in the front of the device was normal!

The right hand side of the case looked like someone has been trying to get it opening using a screwdriver

Where as the right hand side looks like a monkey of some sort has attacked it. Note also the lump missing from the very bottom of the front panel

By now I was starting to wonder if someone had been trying to get into this machine, the broken guarantee seal confirmed this.

As did another broken seal on the bottom of the device, maybe someone was trying to use this dvd recorder as a money box?

The final straw was that the remote control has a stress fracture.  These don’t happen by the occasional knock or drop, stress lines in plastic result from extraordinary force.

I have been buying IT goods in a professional capacity for around 8 years and have been a very happy customer of yours for some time as well, but I do feel let down with regards to this order, to be honest I was looking for the hidden tv cameras as I inspected this item. I don’t believe this damaged was caused in transit, and on reinspecting the original description given for this device on your site there is no mention of it being second hand.

In the past I have been so impressed with your services that I have ceased to hold stock and instead refer my clients directly to you, I am aware that you no longer have an affiliate programe.

Please advice on how you will remedy this situation.

yours faithfully

UPDATE 19/03/06

My supplier has just sent me a RMA code so that I can send this dvd recorder back to them. They will charge me £10 for testing it, if there's nothing technically wrong with it (yeah right) then they will charge me £10 to post it back to me! I also have to foot the bill for posting this item to them. They want me to send it to them in the same packaging they sent it to me. That won't be hard as it was just rattling around in the box!

UPDATE 07/04/06

My supplier just sent notification that they will be issueing a full refund to my credit card, too chuffin right! In their exact words, "Item ID: 88545 Pye DVD Recorder will be refunded, this item can not be restocked as new". No kidding! I'm still amazed that they sent it out to me in the first place!

Crowroad - Reciprocal - Kandi Stick Ipswich Steamboat 09/09/05

These are very old photos taken on a very rubbish camera, and are being posted here for very nostalgic reasons.  I used to put on a lot of gigs at The Steamboat Tavern in Ipswich, and I'm still proud of that.  I don't know why I was so fond of the slow shutterspeed blurry look back then, but it was taken on a very old digital camera.

Our always helpfull and friendly door staff


Kandi Stick

Kandi Bass

kandi hoozit


Pretty Reciprocal

Rock Reciprocal

Rah Reciprocal

The Ballistics, This Mourning After, ZEEB?, All or None, Dan Foden, The Fanny Pads, Jack Rundell, Kneedeep, The Rists and MORE!

This is content from an old site of mine, I'm posting it on my blog for a few old friends.  Normal service here will be resumed soon. These photos are from a charity all-dayer a friend and I put on for the local hospital.  The captions were written over five years ago so if they don't make any sense then it's no good asking me about it because I haven't a clue myself.

ER,,, presents Charity All-Dayer Ipswich Steamboat - 28/05/05

All or none

The face that launched a million chips

Ah, the look of love says it all

Go Jim go!

Dan Foden

Dan Foden and a member of ZEEB?

Fanny Pads

Fanny Pads tell you where it's at

Ghosts in the audio

Luke goes 'widdly widlly'

This is a boat

Jack Rundell

Jack tries to swallow the mic

As the screams for more go up; some lad tries the 'walk like an egyptian' dance

Ben Deep



Mickey Rist tunes up

The Rists

The Rists get with the Oi action

Al Rist sings his love songs, love of oi of course

Just look at the concentration on his face!

Rists Ripp

Oi Army

When the skins are in town,,,

,,,the Rozzers are never far behind

But never last long against the might of OI

Rokki Ballistic stands proudly before his stack

The Ballistics

Mikey Ballstic gets in the swing

Glenn Ballistic helps out with the drums

Go Glenn go!

a very contemplative Daz Ballistic

Go Daz go!

The Horn

The horn are informed there has been a complaint during thier set

Barnie Shark tells James Shark to stop showing off with his tuning skills

Things Found In sharks

This is a boat get nautical

This mourning after vocalist plays a cardboard box

This mourning after start to rip it up a wee bit


The marvelous door staff


Excuse me mate, have you got the time?

Is that a tuppence I see before me?

Victim Unkown

Victim Unkown project


Omega ZEEB?

Delta ZEEB? breaks it on down maaaan

Omega ZEEB? help out in brudder

Gamma ZEEB?

Gamma ZEEB tells it like it is  

Ian Parsons

Cheers to everyone that played and spectated, we raised £1500 for Kirton Ward at Ippo Hospital!