Avatar The Craxford Diaries

A good few years passed with nothing much to take note of. Whatever he was expecting to happen in both his forties and his fifties did not happen, not a lot did. On the eve of his sixtieth birthday, McIver poured the boiling water from the kettle onto his Pot Noodle and decided now, five minutes before the deadline, he would put the lottery on one last time.

As he struggled with the tiny buttons on his phone, he remembered a time when the dexterical simplicities of his youth came to him so naturally and fluidly. He could amble, he could frolic, he could dial a phone number without repeatedly pressing the wrong digits, not that phone numbers existed in 2043.

An odd calm came over him as he bought the ticket and took his seat next to the large window, his trusty foot stool by his side, his old man blanket covering the delicate parts of his frail frame. As the numbers popped up one by one a fire was lit beneath his amble behind, a warmth he hadn’t felt in decades. Six numbers in a row picked out like posies in a summer meadow. A cool one point five million was his and his alone because there were no other winners that night.

The first thing he did was hire a butler. Mackford showed up the next day at 8am sharp dressed in the finest attire that the North-East could throw up. Mackford was not his name but the butler would go by any name to assume the position that lottery bucks could afford.

He looked at his new master, the greying yet still handsome Mr McIver, a cheerful look on his face admonishing all the years that ageing had taken away from him. Why, he looked ten years younger already dressed in his usual checked shirt and jumbledown jeans. A cut-price squire, a Lidl lord, the dapper red snapper.

“Take me to Greggs, Mackford,” he announced, stepping into his Seat Ibiza, carefully making his way into the back over the passenger seat, “I’m in the mood for pasties.”

Away they sped through the mid-morning air. The traffic, low and humming, the streets empty because it was a Tuesday morning and everyone of purpose was already at work. He hadn’t felt this at ease in years.

Outside they stood, Mackford eager to take up the challenge of his master, McIver licking his lips in anticipation of the prizes that awaited him. The latter entered the hallowed premises, softly at first but picking up speed as he deftly nimbled past the sandwiches. It wasn’t too long before there was a tap on his shoulder and Mackford was back at his side. “Is there a problem?” asked McIver. Mackford looked forlornly at his feet and nodded. Only the worst could have happened, they must be out already. Some fat pie hogger has hogged all the pies!

“I won’t stand for this! Out of my way, Mackford, I must see the manager!”

“It’s not what you think, sir,” replied Mackford, “there’s plenty on the trays. I… I don’t know how to say this but due to inflation the cost of a cheese and onion pasty has shot up to one hundred pounds a pasty.”

“A pasty? That’s outrageous. I’ve never heard of such an absurd concept, Mackford. What kind of a world do we live in when a ludicrous lukewarm smear of dairy and vegetable costs that much? Damn and blast, I can’t leave here empty-handed. I’ll have to settle for a sausage roll instead.”

“It only gets worse, sir, the sausage rolls are fifty pounds each.”

McIver took a seat on the nearest bench before he toppled over in disgust. A cold sweat appeared on his brow, a fearful chill down his back. He was finally living his dream, the dream of all dreams, the life of luxury only it was too late. The economy had caught up, inflation had made devils of them all and there was no way around it. With his head in his hands, McIver wept the sweet weeping of a lifetime and all the yum yums in the world couldn’t raise a smile on those lips.

Avatar ABOFB 31: Pet Peeves

We all have things that REALLY annoy us, that other people think are inconsequential. In this insightful episode we discuss:

  • Flags
  • Inaccurate ironmongery
  • Phil & the phone chord
  • or…?
A Breath of Fresh Beans
A Breath of Fresh Beans
ABOFB 31: Pet Peeves
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Avatar Serious Ian

Do you have a problem that needs fixing? Are you too silly to get it sorted yourself? Do you have a credit card and a strong desire to get the job done? Then what you need is Serious Ian.

Serious Ian can take all those chores that you can’t be bothered doing and he will get them done in the most serious fashion you’ve ever seen. His seriousness cannot be measured on a regular spectrum and scientists had to invent a new spectrum just to keep up. The only thing that came close to the same level of seriousness was BBC newsreader Huw Edwards or possibly Jeremy Paxman either duffing up politicians on ‘Newsnight’ (before he left) or duffing up students on ‘University Challenge’.

Here’s but a small muster of items that Serious Ian could help you (yes, YOU!) with:

  • Telling your dog or cat that you’re going on holiday and they have to stay with your smelly friend, Derek.
  • Pumping the waste out of your septic tank after years of neglect.
  • Doing the washing up after Sandra tells you she’s taking the job and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • Ironing those shirts that need to look their best for Monday.
  • Driving slowly past your nemesis, with a pair of sunglasses on the tip of his nose, nodding his head sternly before driving off.
  • Informing the man in front of you in the queue that he has eleven items and needs to go to the regular checkout or till.
  • Taking little Billy for his first experience of death (possibly roadkill).
  • Asking Kev why he hides blankets inside pillows and querying when did he become such a sexual deviant.
  • And many more!

It may be a premium rate number but you’ve got to pay the best to get the best.

Serious Ian is also available in a multitude of colours to fit your mood and your situation. When times are hard choose that delicious charcoal Serious Ian to really hammer home the message. If you want something a bit lighter, yet just as serious, perhaps the clementine Serious Ian will be your catch of the day.

Whatever the job, task, role or message, you can guarantee nobody will take it more serious than Serious Ian.

Call now!

Avatar The Doctor will see you now

What do you mean you didn’t know I was a doctor?

What do you mean you didn’t know I spent seven years plus training? Do you mean all those times I was prescribing medication you weren’t paying attention?

Are you saying that every single time I swore the Hippocratic oath you didn’t listen? Every time I tore off someone’s leg and saved their life you didn’t notice?

Do you people even know anything about me?

Avatar ‘Ion Fury’ – mini review

‘Ion Fury’ is the best old new old game I have played in a while.

What do you mean you don’t know what an old new old game is? Isn’t it obvious? Okay grandad, let me explain.

Back in the day, a series of first person shooters were built on an engine called Build. This Build engine powered many a successful game such as ‘Duke Nukem 3D’, ‘Exhumed’ and ‘Blood’. After a while people were looking for fancy shizz that had polygonal roundness and curvy sumptuousness that Build couldn’t handle so it quietly disappeared into the background. Cut to 2019 and a new game using the same engine was released called ‘Ion Fury’. It was a prequel to a game called ‘Bombshell’ nobody could remember because it was bollocks. Thankfully ‘Ion Fury’ was actually pretty good and garnered much better reviews and a smidgen of success as a result.

Now, two years later, I have been playing through it and it’s a spicy meatball of a game. If you still need me to explain the old new old thing I’m going to need some slides and a hammer.

You played as Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison (ahhhh, ahhhh, see why? Ahhhh!). What’s the plot? Is there really one to begin with? You an ass-kicker and you have to pick up some guns and kick some ass; that’s all you really need to know. If you’ve played any of the aforementioned PC games then you’ll know exactly what to expect: chunky graphics, over the top weapons and more explosions than a Michael Bay boxset on fire. It plays incredibly well, smooth and fast, the developers knew what they were doing and squeezed everything they could out of a fairly familiar and well-trodden scenario. The settings are somewhat similar to Duke’s first 3D outing taking in city streets, skyscrapers and malls with alien bits scattered around for good measure. What really sets it apart though is the difficulty.

This game is hard. I played through it on the second easiest difficulty and even then it was an uphill struggle. You cannot gleefully blast your way through the campaign. You will be saving often and you will need to think about the order in which you do things. At times it was more like a tactical RPG where you carefully plan where you move to, what gun to use and when to retreat back to hide behind that soda machine. The enemies are smart and often they are placed in the position that is most likely to blow your face off in that they have the freedom of a large area with a grenade launcher pointed in your general direction and a fuck ton of body armour and you, even with your strongest weapon, will feel like wet cheese slapping them on their elbow.

It does require a lot of patience because sometimes even the silliest error would make you lose half of your health within a matter of seconds. Thankfully there are numerous checkpoints and you can save at any time.

After playing for fifteen hours I was convinced I was near to the end and they practically slapped a huge NOPE across my forehead because I wasn’t. It was a slog towards the end. I would recommend playing in short bursts, kind of like my company; too much is bad for your health. To put it into context I blasted my way through ‘Doom 64’ in-between playing ‘Ion Fury’ and finished that before I’d even gotten two thirds of the way through this. You certainly get your money’s worth.

‘Ion Fury’ is available for PS4, X-Box One, Nintendo Switch and Steam (steam!).

Avatar Younger Schmelves

Young Ian was an enigma and when I say enigma I actually mean ‘wrong in all the wrong places’. If I was to ever write a biography, to accompany my award-winning series of books, people wouldn’t believe it because of just how absurd it would all sound.

“What do you mean you were too lazy to make toast in the kitchen so you used the gas fire next to the TV in the living room so you could do both at the same time? What do you mean you broke into a building site just to start fires with some kids from school? You did a what on the side of the road on the way to pick up a parcel?”

I know, right? Truth is stranger than fiction.

Recently I have been remembering a lot of things Young Ian used to do. I expect this is a side effect to approaching middle age. Next thing you know I’ll come across an old advert for Radio Rentals and start weeping about all the electrical goods my parents used to rent from them. “Oh, the TV with the buttons missing on the front,” I’ll gush, “they would pop off if you pressed them too hard and they’d disappear under the sofa and you’d have to push them out using a ruler.” Nostalgia makes a fool out of everyone.

A strange fact about Young Ian is that he was amazed by the idea of convenience food. Not takeaways but those dinners you could put in the microwave and three minutes later you’d have a Sunday dinner (if your eyesight was impaired and you considered three painfully thin slices of beef and a few soggy potatoes to be a Sunday dinner). He wound marvel at the freezers in Tesco and Jack Fultons at the choice available to those with money to spare. I wasn’t very convincing so my mum would only ever buy one or two because children are fickle and she knew that the pictures on the front of the boxes were tarted up and would never resemble whatever came out of the microwave at the end.

That was the dream. Not to go to through the painstaking process of actually cooking a roast beef dinner but to get someone else to do it, freeze it and then buy it from somewhere down the street. The idea of doing this now makes my insides wince like watching anything on Tik Tok. Young Ian didn’t really know what he wanted but he wanted it all the same and thank baby cheeses he stopped before he turned into the white trash he could have been, sofa on the front lawn and everything.

Avatar Fixing Ian

When the New Beans started back in 2014, we all set up Gravatars of our cartoon heads in orange circles so that our comments would have our own special Beans graphics next to them. Kev would always be Kev, I would always be me and Ian would always be Ian. This was Very Important.

Then, last year, Ian changed his email address and picked a strange pencil drawing of a fat bloke to be his new Gravatar. Since that day, Kev has still been Kev and I’ve still been me, but Ian has been a pencil drawing of a fat bloke. This is obviously unacceptable.

Several months have now gone by, and Ian has failed to remedy this distressing situation, so I have taken matters into my own hands. I have rewritten the code that runs the site to specifically find and rewrite the avatar that appears next to comments he posts. Ian is now Ian again, by brute force. He no longer has a say in the matter. This is justice in action.

If you find any comments anywhere on the site that still show the wrong avatar, please let me know so I can make this ridiculous and oppressive intervention even more thorough.

Avatar ABOFB 30: Work Music

We’re back, we’ve reached the big 3-0, and just in time for Kev to keep his first 2022 bean!

This time out Ian asks us to sum up our jobs as a style of music which, as ever, leads to a meandering conversation covering, amongst many things…

  • Kraftwerk
  • Jazz
  • Latin
  • Shaggy

A Breath of Fresh Beans
A Breath of Fresh Beans
ABOFB 30: Work Music
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