Busted: 2002 – 2005

Saturday 14 January, 2012

Seven years ago today, the hearts of many teenages and teenie-boppers alike were left broken and shattered by the terrible news of Busted’s break up.

Jesus. That was seven years ago? That’s almost ten years! I was at 6th form College when they broke up.
…This train of thought makes me feel old. Let’s get back on track.

Yes. The split up of Busted. Britain’s number one boyband that was bringing back the instruments back to the pop charts. Came to an end because of what’s since been revealed as tension in the band between members Charlie and James, with the artist-formally-known-as Matty Jay caught in the middle.

I’ll be honest, I was a huge fan of Busted when they first released What I Go To School For, but by the time they split up, I was finding their teeny-bopper pop appeal unbearable. Thunderbirds Are Go, for example, is worlds away from Year 3000, Sleeping With The Lights on and even Crashed The Wedding. And apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

If what has been said is to be believed (consistency is a muddled game of He Said, He Said) then that’s exactly what caused the tension in the band in the first place. Charlie hated the “pop shit”. So much so, I don’t even think he liked Busted’s better songs.
Now, seven years on, Charlie is the front man to Fightstar, and a solo artist. When you listen to the songs he’s written since leaving Busted, you can understand why he was so frustrated with Busted’s overall sound, and you can actually tell which Busted songs Charlie managed to get involved with.

A couple of years ago, I was on a forum when Fightstar were doing a live forum chat. I asked three questions which were along the lines of this:

1) Are you free to be as progressive as you like, or do you still have to work within marketable limitations?

2) What venues would you most like to play?

3) Do you still face the post-Busted fan feedback? For example, the positive of widening old busted fans genre horizons vs the negative of those who still compare Fightstar to Busted?

I didn’t think I’d get any answers. It wasn’t as insane as some life forum chats, but the thread was very busy by their standards and the forum was struggling to stay afloat with in ratio page loads and extra refreshes. I especially wasn’t really fussed on that last question, but so many other people were talking about influences and future plans without mentioning Busted that I thought, why not! In my eyes, Busted was a starting point in it’s own way.

That was the only question of mine which got an answer. Omar, Fightstar’s lovely, lovely drummer answered it with basically this:

People who still compare Busted and Fightstar need to stop living in the past. Fightstar is different and they’re uncomparable now for various reasons.

He’s right, of course. But there’s one thing I’d like to say in reply to that answer, and it’s not to cause an argument, just to share an opinion…

Would Fightstar be as good, involve all the people it involves, even have the name they do, if it weren’t for Charlie’s desperation at that exact time and place to do something better, more fulfilling for him, than Busted?

And that’s all I’m going to say about Fightstar. I’d hate for it to appear as though I am not a fan. I am. I’ve even seen them live!

James Bourne, then. What’s he upto? Well, there was Son of Dork for a while. They ended in a spectacular fashion… Then he was a touring solo artist, which I think went well, but I didn’t see him, nobody I know went to see him so it’s a bit like that old Tree in a Forest situation. Was there any impact?

There were rumours of a Matt/James Busted Revival, but that didn’t happen… It might happen in the future but I’m not convinced.

And now… James Bourne has written a musical. I’ll be honest, I had no idea about it until The-Artist-Formally-Known-as Matty Jay retweeted a tweet from James about it.

From what I’ve read up about it, it’s based on Son of Dork’s album “Welcome To Loserville”, about a teenager called Michael Dork who is bullied for being a social outcast in a very Stereotypical Americanised Way and wants to leave his home town for greener pastures. Then he meets the girl of his dreams and decides he wants to stay.

It sounds like Wizard of Oz meets Back to the Future and Napoleon Dynamite with just a hint of lemon Problem Child.

I’m amazed and befuddled at the same time. He makes it hard to admit that he was twice my favourite member of Busted because of the arrogance that sometimes shows through when he plays the Blame Game but at the same time, he’s just written a musical that makes references to either classic 80s/90s films or films which reference the classic.80s/90s films.

And then there’s The-Artist-formally-known-as Matty Jay. He is now known as Matt Willis, which is his real surname. I’ve never figured out why he went by the name of Matty Jay in the Busted days. It might forever remain a mystery.

He is doing ridiculously well for himself! He was in the jungle a few years ago, he cleaned up his act when his drinking got a bit out of hand, he is happily married with two children and, and! He has a career in acting in West End Musicals.

That’s why I’m not convinced there’ll be a Two-Man Busted Revival. Matt might still have love for the (good) Busted days and want the chance to sing the music again, but he has a wonderful career and he seems pretty happy with it. It would be more of a step backwards, surely, to try and recreate something which can’t actually be recreated to the exact.

James might find Busted to be better without Charlie, but to follow it through might seem more like a gloating parade than a celebration of the music they once produced. More importantly, would the fans want to listen to Busted without Charlie? They broke up instead of carrying on back in 2005 because they said the three of them Were Busted. Going on without Charlie would be out of the question.

What would have changed? Time healing wounds? Water under the bridge settled? Or a sea of jealousy sparking James to try and show Charlie exactly what he’d be missing should Busted2 hit all the right marks?

Seven years on and it feels like James Bourne could still be setting himself up for the same recipe for disaster.

Of course, ruling out a Busted Revival doesn’t mean them working together in some way is impossible or implausible. Think about it: James has written a musical.

Matt acts in Musicals.

Matt might act in James’s musical.

Yeah… They’ve come a long way in seven years (some a longer way than others…) And I hope they continue to be successful over the next lot of seven years, and more. I can’t begrudge them all for moving on to bigger and better things when it makes them happy.

Christmas Day 2011

Sunday 25 December, 2011

Ah, that day has been and almost gone again, and if we’re lucky, it won’t be back for another full 365 days. Or 366, considering next year is a leap year.

Which is a great! It mean’s Christmas won’t be back so quickly as it was this year.

See? I told you I’d be back to my Ebenezer Scrooge-ly self. I did use and abuse the thing that made me look forward to Christmas this year, and maybe next years and the year after that, to my hearts content. But I’ve exhausted the distraction and now I’m tired.

There was a trend this year, I noticed, of lesser gift giving. Whether it’s the value of the gifts, the amount of gifts or the meaning of the gifts, I’m sure it varies from person to person, but there was definitely a knew trend in the air.

Gifts were either useful, born of a sentimental notion, or one singular “expensive” item. Is this because of the economy? Are we all getting too old for novelty gifts that take up valuable floor space? Are we becoming less frivolous simultaneously, maybe? Are we seeing a bigger picture?

A mixture of all of the above? I imagine that’s the case for most people.

I’ve been saying, with more and more frequency, that I don’t want or need anything, I just wish I could have a good time with the people insisting on buying me gifts. I’m grateful for the gifts. The lovely, thoughtful, funny, useful gifts. And the chocolate. But maybe the money should go towards more important things? Or stored away to be used on a day spent together.

Who needs a musical lava lamp when silence can be filled with the conversation of a loved one? (Too cheesy? Meh)

So. Now we’re crossing over between evening in to night. I’ve done all but one Christmas Tradition, which is my Annual Awkward Christmas Phone Call with my good friend. He’s been quite the busy fellow this year, and he had many people make plans with him for today, so I’m waiting for him to give me the signal so that I can call.

I hope I get the signal soon. Like I said, who needs a physical present when you can have a good conversation with a loved one?

In Before Conspiracy Theor- Oh. Too Late!

Wednesday 7 December, 2011

It is not a good time for us LiveJournal Users, or indeed the ones who are running it.

When it’s not the bugs and the glitches from failed updates, the whole site is getting DDoS’d. We’ve had a disrupted usage and downtime every month for the past six months, and poor site service overall ever since Six Apart came along and then was sold over to SUP.

Lots of people are moving to other sites, other people are just giving up on blogging completely. The thing is, when LiveJournal works, it is the only blogging-based social-networking site (as opposed to Social-Networking based blogging sites) out there to do what it does, in the way that it does it, as well as they do it (Which says something, I know). There’s a nice mixture of a basic, steady platform that we can rely on, that the designers and developers have worked on, and a lot of room and settings to play with.

I’ll be honest, the part that we can play with has got more complicated ever since they switched their Customisation section from the old system to the new system, which limits the basic settings you can change and puts more power on customised CSS codes that can override them. For someone who knows nothing about CSS code, it’s quite daunting and sometimes frustrating. But my point is, for those who are a whiz with CSS and layout coding and such, it’s a very nice playground to be in.

You don’t get a nice balance like that on other blogging sites, not even the imitation ones like DreamWidth and InsaneJournal. DreamWidth has a small selection of default layouts and default customisations along with them and there’s not a lot of customisations you can do outside of your layout. I know next to nothing about InsaneJournal but I’ve heard it pales even more in comparison. LiveJournal allows you to do more with your profile, it has the best security control for posts that I’ve seen, the navigation is very good too. Yeah, the introduction of the Seasonal Banner left a lot to be desired, and there’s a few things that should be Opt-In rather than Opt-Out, but the best bits really are the best on offer out there.

When LiveJournal doesn’t work… Well…

The main problem is, is that by now, we’re used to the lack of communication from The Powers That Be that  now run LiveJournal. We have become very cynical to a lot of the things that the designers, developers, coders, maintenance team and customer service team say to us.

They change things “for the better” and end up making it worse, or something else worse. They recently changed the allignment for a layout called Flexible Squares. The “Glitch” by-product was that videos and pictures, no matter their original position or allignment, are now cut off either at the side or right down the middle, due to the new margins. That’s been a problem for a month and when the team first addressed the problem, they said “We know want went wrong, we’ll be releasing a new update soon that will fix it.”

A month on, we’re still waiting for that update. What is the hold up? We don’t know. We’re not even having that question answered, we’re just being ignored. They can’t even use the excuse of the most recent DDoS attack, which LiveJournal is still fighting against apparently, because they are two different groups of employees respectively dealing with the issues.

The thing is, is that all this cynicism has lead to some pretty big conspiracy theories. A lot of people are thinking that these DDoS attacks are actually downtime brought on by glitchy updates. It doesn’t matter if you tell these people that, actually, these are legitimate cyber attacks brought on by Russian Politics, these people refuse to believe it.

I can understand why. LiveJournal are doing a very poor job of defending themselves against these attacks. The attacks get bigger but we should see an exponential response of defense, and we don’t. There’s a very controvercial opinion that, even though LiveJournal is now owned by a Russian company, it was originally American so there should be two servers. One for the Russian users, and a second for the rest of us, so that we don’t suffer the consequences of politics we’re not involved with.

I don’t know whether I agree with that mindset, but I can certainly empathise with those who do. They are not Russian, they might not even be American, and they are spending money on a service that got itself tied up in something that it is too old and too weak to survive. Being involved in the Russian Politics might just be the downfall of the site and bring about the LJColypse. In their opinion, they are wasting their money. The site did used to be better, customer service wise, before the Russians took over.

And the main Russian owner doesn’t seem to care about the users outside of Russia. Up until very recently, if anything went wrong with LiveJournal, like a DDoS attack, the rest of the world found out up to two days after the Russian users did. I have personally trawled through Russian news blogs and news sites to find out information that, as a LiveJournal user, I should have known anyway. It’s like an immovable force has actually met an unmovable object, and eventually something will crack and give way.

So going back to the conspiracy theories, if LiveJournal don’t seem to be doing their best to right the situation, or preventing that the exact same things don’t happen in the future, it makes sense that people are getting suspicious. The theory that LJ are lying about a DDoS attack as an explanation of glitch-based down time is absolutely ludicrous, but some others do have a bit of foundation to them.

Like the site being down iconsequentially of the DDoS attack, just to bring about new updates. Sneaky and could actually be true. Back in 2002, on the anniversary of the 11th September attacks, Fanfiction.Net was closed down for the day in commemoration. When it came back, it turned out the admins of the site used the downtime to rid the site of NC-17 rated fanfictions.

Crime of Opportunity doesn’t seem the right phrase there, but either way, it left a lot of people unhappy and disgraced at the actions.

So that Conspiracy Theory comes from something believable. There’s no evidence I can think of to suggest it’s the case here, but I know for a fact that the FlexiSquare glitch was noticed around the time of the last DDoS attack and brushed off originally as a consequence of DDoS related bugs.

Again, LJ aren’t best known these days for their customer service and communication skills, but at least they owned up that it was actually an update glitch on top of a badly timed DDoS attack.

So what can LiveJournal do to satisfy their customers? Well, I don’t know. I have some ideas and suggestions, but nothing that would please everybody.

I know they need to deal with their server defense, because just shrugging their shoulders after it’s taken place and going “Sorry, we’re dealing with it.” doesn’t instill much confidence. They need to work on prevention.

Upping the customer communication is almost always welcomed. Issues recognised and stated etc, and apologies wouldn’t hurt either. They really need to stop fixing what isn’t broken and focus on what is broken instead. For every time they “improve” something, they bring down a backlash upon themselves because people liked it the way it was, and what’s worse, it usually breaks something else. If they just undid the update, it would fix things within seconds. Instead, they leave the new “fix” as it is and work on trying to fix the problem they caused.

They need to do something that makes us users want to stay, and not just because it’s better than the rest. If we’re going to deal with poor service from them, we might as well go deal with almost-as-good-as service from another place.

…Dare I say it? Maybe selling LiveJournal to another company wouldn’t go amiss either. I know it’s along the same lines as separating the servers, but LiveJournal seem to have both feet in the toilet and bringing down a crap storm upon them because of it. I just think maybe some separation would be beneficial someway. I mean, selling the site couldn’t cause more than there already are, could it?

In the meantime, it’s better the Devil I know for me. But don’t worry, i’m all set up for when the LJColypse does happen. Meet me at the Carousel in Fantasy Land!

A Whole Year Old Today!

Tuesday 22 November, 2011
Happy Birthday To Me
Happy Birthday To Me
Happy Birthday to I Once Was A Twenty-Something Journalism Student!
Happy Birthday To Me!
For the record, it’s not actually *my* Birthday, but it has been one year to the day since I created this blog, so it’s the Blog’s birthday. And may it have a happy one!
If Blog’s were sentient creatures, I’d tell it to go out and party hard. But seeing as it’s a year old, if it were a sentient creature, it’d probably be just a baby. If I told it to go out and party hard, it’d probably just goo at me and laugh at it’s own feet. And then probably cry a lot.
Remind me again why people have babies? I don’t see the appeal at all.
Aaaanyway! Now that I have acknowledged that I Was Once A Twenty-Something Journalism Student has been in existence for a year, I guess I should say something about the year.

Well, I don’t think I’ve given too much away about myself on here. Which was the whole point, really. I have a LiveJournal for angsting, ranting, celebrating and fangirling and being the me that people know and possibly love, and this is for pseudo-professional appeals to the public and other things that the people who know about my LiveJournal have virtually no interest in, really.

Basically all the things that I would have to call on if I did actually make it as a Journalist, which I didn’t. Which I’m glad about, because I have too many strong opinions that I don’t mind making clear here, but they would no doubt get me in to trouble or get me fired if I was supposed to be professional and unbiased.

I have talked about the importance of wheelchair access, many many times, and about how the whole world seems to not understand how disabilities work. Nothing has changed in that whole year in that respect. I’ve shared my opinion on the commercialisation and consumerism of Christmas. The page that gets me most visits is a review I wrote of Jon Richardson’s book “It’s Not Me, It’s You”, which I’m very proud of even if I do say so myself; And most recently, I’ve possibly raised awareness on the subject of Asexuality.

For me, I class all that as a promisingly productive year. Here’s to another one!

-A Failed Journalist-

Asexuality Awareness

Monday 24 October, 2011

Today marked the start of Asexuality Awareness Week.

This is my first proper blog post ever about the subject, in fact it’s the first time I’m publicly acknowledging asexuality personally, so I’m a bit nervous about this. Please bare with me.

So, Asexuality. Also called Non-sexuality and on one memorable occasion, “Anti-sexuality”. I think maybe all three of these can be accurate, but not interchangably so and definitely not exclusively so. That’s one thing about Asexuality, it’s all a bit varied. And it’s not to be confused with the scientific term that means a biological ability to procreate by itself. Thank you, Anonymous Friend in 2009 who asked me “What? Like Godzilla?”

No. Not like Godzilla. Nor like the more common comparison, an Amoeba.

In simple terms, it basically means “I have no desire or natural inclination to have sex with you or anyone else.” It should be that simple, but then people get involved.

In not-so-simple terms, the default line is still there but people vary and what it can mean is “I have no natural inclination to see you in a sexual way, but I will have sex with you for your sake anyway because making you happy would make me happy.” and/or “I have a mild natural inclination to see you in a sexual way and desire you as such, but not all that often. The feeling comes and goes, really.”

Lots of people take offence to this and I honestly don’t understand why. Would a woman be offended if a man said “Sorry, you are very good looking and lovely, but actually I’m gay”? No. She’d probably be embarrassed.

If someone has acknowledged being asexual for a while, they have probably heard it all. “You haven’t met the right person yet”, “Well clearly they mustn’t have done it right”, “Maybe you’re gay?”, “You’re just immature and you need to grow up”, “Could it be depression or a hormonal imbalance?” and even worse, “Well, you have all of these other issues, maybe this is another one of them.”

Actually, no, even worse is the people who insist that if an Asexual has never had sex, then how do they know they don’t like it.

Let me tell you something. I’m 100% sure that I don’t want to jump off a cliff and free-fall to the ground, and I don’t need to do exactly that to know so. Just because Adrenaline Junkies think that it would be a good idea doesn’t mean we should all have an interest in jumping off cliffs and free-falling to the ground. Not everyone has the interest, not everyone is built for it, and the same goes for sex.

I don’t understand why people don’t understand this. I’m actually pretty lucky that I don’t get much said to me in this regard. That’s because when I’m not too busy being on bed-rest and going back and forth to the hospital, when I do have some sort of social life, I play the shy and quite easily embarrassed card.
iI am actually quite easily embarrassed, but I’m more along the lines of Social Anxiety than shyness. There’s a difference. This is also related to my On-line Dating post. All in all, it’s nobody elses business. If I have something I’d like to share, I will share it.

But back to Asexuality.

There are, of course, some asexual people who do have sex. They’re usually considered Grey-As or Demisexuals. Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex**. This doesn’t negate the whole existence of Asexuality. Nor does it impose on heterosexuality or homosexuality. This is just comparable to cutting your hair! Some women are more comfortable with longer hair, some women are more comfortable with shorter hair, some women go with a degree in between and some women make a conscious effort to grow out their hair as long as possible before making another conscious effort to getting it all cut off.

I’m not in anyway trying to trivialise the issues of Asexuality, by the way, i’m just trying to convey how sometimes a sexuality is just about feeling right about yourself and how sometimes, feelings can change.

There are people who are Asexual and Aromantic. This is where they have no interest in having sex, or romantic relationships at all. Might it change? Well, I believe anyone’s sexuality can change. I believe there might be That One Exception for everyone***. It’s not just for TV Tropes or Fanfiction, it’s for real people too!

Then there are Biromantics and Homoromantics. This isn’t just an Asexual-only thing, but many people who are sexual and are homoromantic or biromantic, just lump their sexuality into the simple “Bisexual” or “Gay” categories, with a subheading of “Mostly interested in…”

And then there are people who are of some sexuality but are aromantic. These are all degrees of asexuality. Like I said, should be simple, but then people get involved.

According to surveys, only 1% of the population are Asexual. This is a very small amount of us. There’s barely anyone in popular culture to represent us, and when there are, there are usually other aspects of their personalities that seem to “excuse” their Asexuality.

It’s just not very fair. We do have varied personalities like “normal” people, most of us crave relationships to some degree, and a lot of us end up feeling very alone when everyone else leaves us to go off and be loved and sexed up couples with their “other halves”.

And whenever “we” complain, we seem to be given two typical responses.
1) Suck it up and deal with it, because this is how normal people are and you can’t expect everyone else to join you on your Asexual Raft
2) Go and try a relationship. If the “lack of sex thing” becomes a problem, then it’s your problem and you need to see someone about it. Because Everyone has sex and the Asexual is just too frigid.

It all reeks of how homosexuality was treated years ago. This old fashioned attitude that therapy is required, that it’s not normal, that it even goes against religion and what’s expected of us. I’d like to think that in twenty years time, people will be just as disgusted with this behaviour as they.

Really, we’re people too. We just don’t want to have sex.

Cuddles are usually welcomed though.

And that’s my contribution to Asexual Awareness Week.

(How did I do?)

** – I’ve had some comments and whilst I’ve made some changes to this post to impove the wording of some things I meant to say but didn’t say quite well enough, I think one of the commenters made something clearer than I ever could. So to avoid actually stealing this person’s explanation and using it to sound enlightened, I’ll link here to the comment. It explains and expands on what I meant by Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex

*** – In response to another comment, I’d just like to take a minute to explain that i’ve worded myself terribly here and said pretty much the opposite of what I meant. And I understand why it’s come across that way. What I meant, really, is that Some People Might have an exception, along the lines of Fluid Sexuality, and if, say an Aromantic Asexual, did find someone that was their exception, then that doesn’t negate their life long sexuality. It in no way means that other people were right and that the person just needed to wait for “The Right One To Come Along” or that they’ve been in denial all this time about the sexuality they were saying they were. It also doesn’t mean that, if they do apply a new definition to themselves, that they are automatically compatible with this so called Exception.

What I meant, is that a person might find themselves feeling a different way about someone, just one single someone, and that what they feel might be within a different part of the sexuality scale. They might still be Aromantic, they might still be Asexual with a different Romantic inclination. It doesn’t mean it’ll stick, it doesn’t mean what they feel is exactly the same as what other people feel when they feel similar things.

I’m sorry that I can’t articulate what I mean very well when it comes to this issue, but that really is the thing about Asexuality. It’s very varied and complex and complicated and even the simplest things can cause people to get tongue tied and seemingly talk in contradictions.

Dating Site Woes

Thursday 13 October, 2011

Have you ever had a friend who, after finding themselves happily in a relationship, become insistent that their lonely, single friends also should be in a relationship with someone? Even if they have no interest what-so-ever in being in one? Especially if “Being Alone” and “Being Lonely” are not synonomous?

Well, I have. I’m sure my friend means well. She understands that right now, my living and health situations as they are, I have no time and place for a boyfriend. She has been insistent, however, that I should at least try to lay down some foundations for friendships that may or may not lead to having a boyfriend some day.

To cut a long story short, I agreed to have a look at Online Dating Sites. What was I thinking?

I’ve come to the conclusion that someone needs to make a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Dating Site Profiles. Following that conclusion, it took me a week to come to this conclusion:

I shall write one myself.

Feel free to read the above sentence in the style of Mel Brooks in Dracula: Dead and Loving it. You know what bit i’m on about.


Do: Read your profile information out to yourself so that you’re sure it sounds all right.
I read a profile that had the sentence “I like to go to parties n shit.” Now, I know what the guy was trying to say, but read that out loud right now. Does that sound like the best way to word it? Not really. What he meant was “I like to go to parties and other fun stuff that I can’t be bothered specifying”, what it came across to me as, was “I like to go to parties and defecate, it’s possibly my aim in life to go to as many parties as possible and defecate in as many rooms whilst I’m there.”

Don’t: Put your main profile picture as a group photo where there’s no way of knowing which person it is that’s the owner of the profile.
Yes, safety in numbers and all that, but I came across a profile where the only picture I could see was one of a large group of guys and one girl were on top of a mountain. The profile’s username didn’t give much information away and even though the gender was specified as male, that only narrowed down the possibilities by one.

Also, Don’t: Put your man profile picture as something that would be unappealing upon quick glance.
Some Dating sites only allow you to see the one picture on search, some dating sites only allow you to see the picture and not the whole profile, some dating sites give you a time/click limit of the amount of profiles you get to see.
Putting your profile picture as Nosferatu, like one person I came across, was certainly eye catching, but in a bad way. Similarly i’ve heard of someone putting their main profile picture as The Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and their secondary photo was of Adam, the prince The Beast becomes after the spell was broken.

The rest of the profile was otherwise filled in seriously.

Do: Try and fill out most of the questions

Don’t: Swear too much. There’s a difference between saying “I swear casually” and actually doing it on your profile. The first can be warmed up to if given the chance, the second can put people off straight away.

Do: Put some effort in to typing! I can’t believe the amount of profiles I’ve come across that are littered with text talk and spelling mistakes. Yeah, ok, so there are character limits, but they’re actually pretty decent character limits. If you find that you’re running out of characters, you’re going into unnecessary detail on your profile. Otherwise, there’s plenty of space to say what you need to say.

You just look like an idiot if you use text talk on the internet. Harsh, but true.

Don’t: Put obscene or otherwise indecent photos up. Not only is that usually against the terms and conditions of most dating sites, but not everyone is on a dating site to be met with full frontal nudity or suggestive of such. You wouldn’t go out in the street like that, would you? You’d be exposing yourself indecently if you did. It should be the same on the internet.

There are sites specialising to those tastes, use them if that’s what you’re looking for.

One person’s profile was “suggested” to me by the automated match system. I would have looked further into their details if their profile picture hadn’t have been a very close close up of their…. frontal nether regions. Luckily for my sake, they were wearing underpants.
Another person’s profile pictures were just of them, standing in front of a mirror, photos taken at different angles, focusing on their… *ahem* assets. A conveniently placed towel and sport shorts weren’t leaving much to the imagination, if you catch my drift.

I really didn’t need to see either of that, I’d like to think i’m not alone.

Do: Sound enthusiastic about something, whether it’s a hobby, a job, an aim in life, an aspect of daily life. Anything.

Don’t: Sound too enthusiastic. You don’t want to sound single-mindedly obsessive compulsive.
One person’s profile I came across just had “You’re not in to *type of sport*? Then i’m not in to you!” in their interest.

It’s a good way of weaving out the disinterested, I suppose…

Do: Make sure that you haven’t changed much in each of your uploaded photos.
I came across an otherwise nice sounding guy on a dating site, but the variety of pictures put me off. I couldn’t tell whether it was the same guy in all of the photos! One or two, where it was just a different style of hair was the difference, was obviously him. But in others? Honest to god, I was hard to press for a family resemblance at least.

Don’t: Put too much of an old photo up. It doesn’t have to be taken that day or even that week, but some time that year is preferable. Any older and you could be accused of being deceptive. People can change a lot in a year, in very subtle ways.

And finally:

Be respectful of other people’s sexualities. Some people have it in listed their profile, some people have kept what they’re looking for hidden, some people can’t actually choose the whole range of their sexuality on some sites. If you’re talking to someone and they say “I’m not actually interested because i’m *Incompatible with your sexuality in some way*” don’t be a prat and try to convince them otherwise.

Apologise for the damn mix up, stay and chat if they’re friendly and you were having a good time, or politely leave.

This is aimed specifically at those wanting to argue with bisexuals, straight transexuals (I don’t get what’s so hard for people to understand that gender and sexuality don’t necessarily go hand in hand?) and asexuals.

Dating sites seem to be a heteronormative world and trying to muddle in with limited options when that’s not the case is very difficult. Don’t go on a crusade, you’re only making yourself look like an uneducated moron.


Saturday 30 July, 2011

I shall tell you all a story… with no twist in it’s tale whatsoever.

No. This tale practically goes nowhere, and barely highlights any points, morally or otherwise, i’d even attempt to make.

I once had a friend who liked Paul Bettany. For those who don’t know who that is, he’s an actor. IMDB him. She liked him a fair amount, but not obsessively so. She had your average fangirl-esque crush on him, without the wall sized posters on the walls. Whenever she mentioned him, I’d repeatedly ask “And who’s that again?”.

She’d reply “He’s the guy in Wimbledon!” and I’d just kind of look at her, sometimes doing the plane-over-the-head motion with accompanied sound affect. I’m not one for RomComs. Then sometimes she’d say “He was in A Knight’s Tale! He was the naked one!”

Which, if I didn’t already have it down in my “No” pile, pretty much secured it’s place there. Naked people? Big No for me.

At various points during our friendship, I’d mention a film I kind of liked called Gangster Number 1. “I don’t know who the main guy is, but he’s really blonde!” I’d say. She had no interest in seeing it because, well, British Gangster Films weren’t really her area. Fine by me, I don’t like RomComs.

Shortly before our friendship was well and truly drying up, she put Wimbledon on her computer one night when I slept over, as something we could fall asleep to. I must have seen some of it, because I’m an insomniac and wouldn’t have fallen asleep so early in the film not to remember any of it, but there we have it. I don’t remember any of it. Was he naked in that too? I might have been too traumatised to remember it, if that’s the case.

Either way, I didn’t register the character in my mind and still at that point, the name Paul Bettany meant little or even nothing to me.

Fast forward three years later. For a few years at that point, my parents had raved about a film called Master and Commander. The first time I watched it, I saw a very bad bit in it and took an instant disliking to it. After a while and much insistence from my parents, I read up on it and found that it had quite a lot in common with a favourite series of mine called Hornblower.

In fact it wasn’t just a coincidence, the books were inspired by the book series of Hornblower, and the movie was influenced in the way of set design, costumes and naval interactions that the books didn’t cover, by the television series.

So I watched it a second time. I like Age of Sail, I like Hornblower and i’d already learnt from another film that one bad bit of a movie does not a full opinion make. And, well, I loved it. It is now a firm favourite of mine.

But the second time I watched it, I spent a good twenty minutes wondering where the hell I’d seen the doctor from. I recognised his face a teeny tiny bit but he just looked too different from anything in my memory to put a name to his face. So I IMDB’d him.

Paul Bettany. Did the name ring a bell? Not really, no. I mean there was something there, in the back of my mind, tinkling a little bit, but it was no Fire Alarm. And somehow my mind failed to register the words “Wimbledon” and “A Knight’s Tale” on the list, so my mind was still floundering until I caught “Gangster No. 1”.

Even to this day I still have no Idea how he went from The Super Blonde, Couch Obsessed, Shifty Looking Gangster to The Auburn Haired, Soft Spoken, Gentle Yet Dangerous, Fighting Naturalist, Doctor Stephen Maturin. My mind? It was boggled.

Then I watched the movie again and I was sat there thinking “Paul Bettany…” and suddenly, that name had too many familiar leaves to it in my tree-like brain to only be from Gangster No. 1. Yes, I did like that film, Yes I did mention that film a few times. But there was something more to his name. This is how my mind works.

So I IMDB’d him again and spotted A Knight’s Tale. And then it hit me! I recognised his face from Gangster No. 1, but I knew his name from my old friend! That’s why the name was more of a bigger deal than his face. I never put The Super Blonde Gangster together with the name Paul Bettany, cos I never found out his name. Or if I did, it never registered with me.

Sometimes I am oblivious, it happens.

Fast Forward 8 months later. I happen to be working my way through films that Alan Tudyk is in. Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Death at a Funeral fame, is in A Knight’s Tale. Well, with a nice mixture of actors such as Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany and Heath Ledger, and a few years between the first watching and that moment in time, I decided to go for it. I already found a new favourite film in Master and Commander, right? So maybe I was wrong with A Knight’s Tale upon first watch.

More accurately, I was 14 years old and looking forward to either the Summer or Christmas Holidays so much that when the opportunity arose to leave the classroom after the register was taken, I took it and left the room after the first five minutes.

Even by my standards, that’s not giving it much of a chance.

Well, one thing to be noted, Paul Bettany is very much naked a couple of times in that film. Oh, you don’t see much by Offensive Standards, no. Just a little bit too much by my own. If Paul Bettany was a little less naked in that film, i’d give it a 10 out of 10.

Which kind of proves some sort of point. Sometimes, I should listen to my friends when they rave about films (or particular actors from films) I might like. More often than not, they’ll be wrong, but sometimes it’s worth humoring them. And I only say that because in my experience, More Often Than Not, they are wrong. I know what I like and I have no intention of broadening my horizons.

I’ve spent 22 years disliking most RomComs and films where characters are terminally ill. That’s not going to change, because the messages and ideologies of these films equally aren’t going to change. But that’s a rant for another entry.

So yeah. Three cheers for Paul Bettany, IMDB and Friendships of the past.

It’s Not Me, It’s You – Jon Richardson

Thursday 23 June, 2011



As anyone who knows me should know, I have been a fan of Jon Richardson for quite some time now. Since December 2007, to be precise. A little late than some, but earlier than some others (She says, smugly). This was all down to finding out Mock The Week favourite Russell Howard had a radio show and the rest is history. If you don’t know who Russell Howard is, I suggest you google him, as this is about Jon Richardson and his highly anticipated book.

After an introduction, he is quite clear in stating that this book is not an Auto-biography. Well, it doesn’t need to be, because we still end up seeing deep into his inner monologue as he tells us of the events of Four specific days in his life.

Did these events really happen? Well, i’m sure they happened, but as much as I know from his radio show, snippets of stand up i’ve seen and his anecdotes on panel shows, it’s possible that they didn’t happen exactly in the order presented to us in this book. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. Far be it for me to marr this book with rumours of falsehoods and fairytales.

Over the four days, the book presents us with how Jon deals with his daily life. Not the average day of his life, but what the most reoccurring features are of his daily life. There is a woman named Gemma that he keeps referring to, an experience in a hotel, much journeying, fits of rage and hatred, his coping methods and a very well executed knock down of a pompous loud mouth in a suit and a meeting.

We eventually find out that Gemma is a woman who has mutually shown an interest in Jon and that the flow of consciousness that is this book has all been sparked by Gemma’s suggestion they go out on a date.

Some people say that other people are the personification of objects and ideals. This book, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” is the book version of Jon, which makes sense as it’s Jon’s book. But what I mean is, is that if you’re a long-standing fan of the radio show and Jon Richardson, especially during the Russell days, then you already have had glimpses of the way his mind works and the way he thinks of the world and of himself. In the book, he says his stand up is like a 20 minute to an hour condensed version, except not as detailed or indepth and he’s right, but nothing in this book should shock or surprise anyone if they are a longstanding fan. He gets angry, he gets angry at himself, he gets angry at the world, and he back-and-forths on scenarios regarding the rest of the world, and before anyone knows it, he’s mapped out his future and is already picking it to pieces.

There is a lot of Meta going on in this book, by the way, just to let you know.

I think the most powerful thing he talked about in the book was when he says he picks up the glass and gets an overwhelming urge to just smash it against the wall. He goes to do it… and then stops himself, because a voice at the back of his mind says “Don’t do that” and backs up of why he Shouldn’t do that with a health and safety risk assessment. He then ends up in the bath, covered in a towel, calming himself down and doing something he calls the Zoom technique.

If this dude wasn’t a comedian, I really think he’d be a brilliant observational psychiatrist. He could even be both! This is why I adore this man. He has a moral compass that he questions and analyses but still sticks by, because he knows it’s right. He just doesn’t do what he is told is right, he questions and concludes that they ARE right. He has some issues, but he’s no different than the average man, but he still gets on stage and makes people laugh. He did it on the radio, he does it on panel shows and he does it on stage.

And now he does it in a book! This very book! I loved reading this book, from beginning to end. I genuinely didn’t want to put it down, and when I realised i’d nearly read it in a day, only then did I stop and put it down. It is too much of a good book to read in one day.

If you’re a fan of Jon Richardson, buy the book. If you’re on a fan of inner monologues by people who are riddled with perfectionist based habits, buy the book. If you feel like you have two people constantly arguing inside of your head, figuring out which version of yourself should be portrayed the most, buy the book!

He’s been so underrated for so many years. Thank who-ever’s out there that people are finally catching on to just how good he is. If you don’t believe me, watch a bunch of his stand up, watch him on comedy panel shows, listen to him when he’s on the radio, and most importantly…

Buy the book!

London – Not The Prime Example of Wheelchair Access

Wednesday 8 June, 2011

Today, Dear Readers (if I have any, that is) I’m going to talk to you about access. I’ve probably mentioned it before, its one topic I’m very experienced in. Mainly I’m going to be talking about Access in London.

A couple of years ago, I went to London for the very first time ever. Then a few days later, I went again. The second time, my destination was Croydon, which is in Essex, which I’d always believed to be a town within the Greater London area, but perhaps I was wrong all those years. It’s probable. Anyway, I definitely went to London once, and that second time I went Via London.

Both experiences have left me wanting Never to go back to London.

Here’s why: Awful Access.

Now, I can talk until I’m blue in the face about the poor access of the public transport in Liverpool is, I can talk until I’m bluer in the face about the access of public transport in the Midlands… But London takes the cake. London, our capital city, filled with tourists every day of the year… Possibly has the worst wheelchair access I have ever experienced.

And that’s including the time I was stuck in Liverpool Town Centre for an hour and a half because not one bus driver in five buses would put the damn ramp down.

Yes, much worse than that.

You see, once you’re in London, whether you know the city outside in or not, things are not always what they seem. London depends on an array of tube stations, bus stops, taxis and bridges to get people where they need to go. Unfortunately, London didn’t get the message that wheelchair users were people too. Maybe three tube stations on the whole tube map claimed to be “wheelchair accessible”. Tube Stations are either adjoined to main train stations, or you access them via street-level stair cases, for lack of a better description. There might be a Tube Station every 50 feet or there abouts, but if you can’t get down those steps (or up steps to the platform, in one case) then you just have to keep on going until you come accross a “level-entry platform”.

The problem is, these “level-entry platforms” still aren’t wheelchair accessible. There is still a massive drop between the Tube doorway and the platform, and the staff didn’t know what to do. One woman claimed she wasn’t meant to touch passengers, a late night security guard told us there was a wheelchair accessible tube down the road (There wasn’t, the station we were at WAS the so called wheelchair accessible station) and refused to be of any help. And then there was the fellow who sent me and my friend to the wrong station with no way of getting anywhere else, because it was the only wheelchair accessible tube/train station for our destination. And it was closed.

Maybe they thought we’d all, as in those of us in wheelchairs, would just like to see the tubes and observe them, not actually go anywhere on them, because I can’t see any logic in naming something as wheelchair accessible when its anything but.

So, OK, the tubes out. There’s other options like taxis.

To be honest, taxis have been the bane of my existence since I was 5 years old. Its a personal grudge, but when desperate times call for desperate measures, one can’t be choosy.

Unless a very expensive London taxi wasn’t in your budget, and you’d already paid so much on the train ticket to get you to your chosen destination. One might suggest that when you’re in a city you don’t know, one has to be prepared for emergencies. We were, but its the principle of the thing.

If I was an average human being, I’d be able to travel on your average public transport. Why should a disabled person pay through the nose for other people’s failings. Don’t we deal with enough rubbish from society?

And then there’s the bus… Now, actually, as far as wheelchair access goes, the London bus I got on to at night, when I was at the end of my tether with public transport, was very good. Automatic ramp, accepted my national bus pass. There was an issue of a nark of a bus driver being very unhelpful to my friend, who needed to buy a ticket, but access wise, I was lucky. Smoothest part of touring London.

My only issue with the buses is that they don’t seem very… Reliable. My guess is that it was only so easy at that point, was because it was gone 11 at night. Earlier in the day and it might have been a very different story.

And that was two different days, with two different friends, to two different destinations. Both riddled with access problems, impending arguments with station managers, redirections and un-anticipated long walks.

London, the capital of Britain. Not really setting an example for the rest of the UK, is it? And I can only imagine what disabled Tourists would think! Never again, not on my life.

The Trials and Tribulations of Living with Chronic Pain.

Sunday 29 May, 2011

I think of pain as a speedometer. 1 to 4 is in the yellow, 5 and 6 are green, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are red, and when the pain cranks all the way to 11, you get to see some serious… Stuff.

That’s two film references in one there.

So when you live life on a pain scale, like I do, you get used to certain levels of pain and associate them with everyday things. Today is a 3 day, so I’m all right for now, I’ll go about my usual business and if it gets to 4, I’ll slow down a bit.

Today is a 7. I’ll spend two hours arguing with myself the pros and cons of getting out of bed, and the pros and cos of having pain killers. For me, the pro of getting out of bed is being at least “somewhat normal”, and the pro for the pain killer is “it takes some of the pain away.” The con of getting out of bed is “ow. Pain” and the con of getting pain killers is spending all day in bed anyway, cos my painkillers knock me out. Despite being on the same ones now since I was 19 or there abouts.

When I’m in hospital, like I was recently, my pain-o-meter has a spanner thrown at it more than once. Usually its due to not having that specific pain before, so it brings a new meaning to all the numbers.

Yes, that’s a 6, but its actually a more painful 6 than what I’m used to. Is it because of the location? Is it the type of pain? Maybe the duration? I can never figure it out. It’s just not what I’m used to.

The other spanner is down to hospital protocol. Two hospitals I frequent don’t measure pain that way. One hospital does 1 to 5, which I can make work if I divide my pain by two. If it’s cranked all the way to 11, then its a “FFFFIVE” rather than just a clenched-through-teeth “five”. I can make it work.

The hospital I was just in, though, has a scale of 1 to 3. 1, 2, 3. Mild, Moderate to Severe.

That is of absolutely no use to me. My pain doesn’t do Mild, Moderate to Severe. If we’re really pushing for a comparison, it does “there” “really there” and “just knock me the hell out, I’ll deal with life later” but that is after much deliberation, figuring of location and duration. It takes a strategy room and the world’s finest topographers to get to a conclusion to that degree, you know?

And I know for a fact that I’m not the only one with this problem. There’s a bunch of us who go through life figuring out what we can do, day in and day out, on a pain scale budget. “If I take it easy and stay around 4 this morning, I can take a pain killer this afternoon and go to my daughter’s nativity play this evening”, “It’s an 8 right now, it’ll crank all the way up to 11 when I move, will my normal pain killers be enough? I can’t drive if I take the stronger ones, but I really need to go in to work…”

Once again, a hospital’s failings to do best for the patient. They mess with normal pain killer schedules, they mess with normal pain killers! And they want us to try and figure out our pain in a different way to what we understand. All whilst we’re dealing with whatever the reason we’re in hospital for, nurses who just shouldn’t have the job and other patients screaming the ward down in agony.