Avatar Pointless Purchase of the Month – The Artist

Take a look around you right now and tell me what you can see. Can you see a shelf of shoes? Can you see a cat pawing at your conservatory door? Can you see two sailors quarrelling about figs? I expect that one or more of those things are within the reaches of your eyes (mental note: eye reach is a good thing) and I, for one, am very jealous that I cannot see them.

Jarrow does not have a lot of shops that one can peruse on a lunchtime. I have particular tastes so unless I’m in the mood for frozen food (Iceland) or ladies toiletries, or anyone’s toiletries really (Boots or Superdrug) I’m up a certain creek without a certain paddle. Thanks Jeebus then for Cash Convertors, peddling second-hand goods of a bizarre assortment and variety; it’s like having a carboot sale every day five minutes from work. Bliss.

I was most surprised then when, about to leave the shop, my noticing eyes noticed a peculiar sight. The stack of sad unloved DVDs and Blu-Rays sit on a shelf next to the cash register, close to the box of twelve inch vinyl records which I can guarantee have not been flicked through in years. There, in plain view for everyone to see, were copies of the film ‘The Artist’ on Blu-Ray. Not one, not two, not three but thirteen copies.

At that point I had never seen the film but remembered the Oscar buzz when it was originally released; a silent film about a silent film star struggling to cope with the transition to “talkies” after the advancements in technology and cinema but made in 2011. I left the shop however I returned a few days later. You may question my sanity and you would be right to do so. Why would one person need thirteen copies of the same movie? For 25p each I ask you, how could one person live with themselves knowing that they passed up on an opportunity to own thirteen copies of the same film? Exactly. I can’t justify it, deal with it.

As the member of staff scanned each Blu-Ray I was on the verge of asking how the store had come into possession of such a large quantity of the same film only he looked about as happy as a wet weekend in Bridlington so I came to the conclusion that it was better to not know. The reason would be lost in the sands of time. It was a blessing and I should not question it as such.

I watched the film and enjoyed it, it’s a lot darker than I expected it to be. There’s also a dog in it that’s way more impressive than most of the human cast because he’s clever and well-trained much like Eddie (or Moose if you will) from ‘Frasier’. Do I need thirteen copies of a great film? Of course not, yet I wouldn’t be able to write these words and possibly enrage Kevin by doing so without them. The best part is that eight of them are still sealed.

Happy trails!

Avatar A new book thing

The highly technical online doohickey that lets you read our incredible books was already, of course, basically perfect. Nobody could deny that. But what if it could be more perfect?

As much as we all enjoy starting at the first page of an 80-page book and then repeatedly clicking “next” until we reach the page we want, sometimes, when we’re trying to find something specific, that process is not as quick or as direct as we’d like. What we need is a faster way of seeing what’s on all the pages so we can choose the one we’re looking for.

So I made that happen. Now you can go to any book (including the Mr Smiths) and click “page index”.

You’ll then be taken to thumbnails of all the pages. Clicking one will take you to the full page.

This improvement comes at no charge to you, and completes the latest upgrade to your increasingly brilliant life.

Avatar Floor “saga”

Not a saga, not really. I tried to think of the right word and all I could come up with was ‘ragu’ and that’s definitely not the right one. Nobody wants a floor ragu.

Here it is in all its sexy glory. My new hallway flooring, floor hall. Look at it as it stretches off into the distance because, yes, it is quite a long hallway. It would take a few strides to get up and down there, even with Kev and his gigantic pair of legs.

The original planning phase begin in November of last year. Me being the ultimate slob I am decided to wait until Christmas was done before commencing any work. Then I temporary lost my hearing in one ear and had to wait until Boots was ready to suck out the various globules of wax hiding in my ear canal. Then some other things happened that stopped me from doing it. Then my installer got covid. It’s been one hell of a ride.

Don’t look too closely at the edges though because Council architecture, like most things, is not infallible and after sixty years there has been a bit of movement. How do I know this? Because when we were laying the floor from the front door down towards the living room the wall seemed to bend slightly to the right meaning the perfect symmetry we had going on at the beginning wasn’t present anymore. The further in we went a thin section remained uncovered along the edge. It wasn’t even a straight line too, the git. This then meant that muggins here had to use all the offcuts to try and wallpaper over the cracks (so to speak) to avoid spoiling the illusion of goodness.

Patience is a virtue. In my post-covid blues state, off work and with not much else to be getting on with, I cut the remaining pieces needed to finish the job. Similar to all great works of art, from a distance the integrity and the beauty remains intact. Get close though, dangerously close, and all its shortcomings will become apparent. I therefore ask that you only inspect the floor using your regular eyes, possibly from six feet away, wearing a pair of sunglasses and being distracted by genies.

I don’t think that’s asking too much?

When is a saga not a saga? When it’s a… ragu. No, it’s still not coming to me.

Avatar The smart man cometh

Welcome to a story that starts off well, gets a bit bad and then goes all grand mal on your ass before you realise what’s happening.

I’m a nerd. I’m sorry to hit you with that reality but I’m not the cool guy you thought I was. I know that I dazzle you all with my endless tales of motorcycles, bar fights, chicks and umm cool stuff however in reality it is the complete opposite. My nerdity stretches to almost all levels of nerdom (although I’ve yet to play a proper game of D & D and I’m not ready to quite drop my trousers and start collecting Magic: The Gathering cards) although recently, and for the last few years, it has settled in v. game town.

I collect for a huge range of systems. The Sony PSP, the slightly older, less attractive handheld cousin of the PS Vita, has a large library and currently most of the games are dirt cheap. We’re talking cup of coffee and a toffee crisp prices here, people. We’re talking a day ticket on the bus with all the trimmings (you know, some have TVs that don’t work and some have a USB port so you can charge your phone because it’s an electric bus and it’s the FUTURE). There will always be rarer titles as there is for every console and it is here we find me with an idea.

The PSP isn’t region locked meaning you can buy a game from the other side of the world and it will run on your machine. There’s a game I’ve had my eye on that only ever keeps going up in price in the UK so, in a flash of brilliance, I check a used video game website in the US that I’ve used previously. Lo and behold there it is, in stock and about twenty quid cheaper overall. I know there’ll be postage and import tax to pay yet it’s too enticing to ignore. Surely this is a good idea and nothing can go wrong. This is the loophole that will see me through to the good side of the fence. I go to the basket only to be told that the website doesn’t post to the UK anymore.

Sniff sniff, can you smell that? If you can, it’s probably Brexit.

Foiled and a little crestfallen I mull over this for a day or two. Then it hits me, a second brainwave. Twice in one lifetime? When you’re hot, you’re hot! There’s a website where you can order anything from the US and have it sent to a shipping depot in the US, they’ll then reroute it to your address in the UK and sort out the tax and everything else at the same time. This is too good to be true, right? Right?

My fingers are already going, it’s ordered and paid for. I get the notification that my parcel is on its way to the depot. I am the Thriftmaster. Thrifting is my middle name. Bow before me, peasants, for I am both the king of the Co-op and king of the thrift.

I go to create the shipping request. Duties and tax are reasonable, of course there’s VAT and… the shipping method. The cheapest option available is a little over thirty dollars. Taking into account the aforementioned other charges, this will now put the total cost of getting the fucker to my address in the UK ten dollars more than I actually paid for the game.

I wanted to believe that this was a good idea. This will be the last time I try to be clever. For now, I will be sitting in the corner wearing the dunce hat and counting up to ten only missing the seven out every single time I try. I await your lambasting.

Avatar Award ceremony

Back in Bridlington, we invested significant amounts of money on the 2p machines in the arcades on the seafront. Ian and myself only walked away with angst and a lesson about the dangers of gambling, but Kev was quite successful, winning a whole range of worthless items.

But Kev is kind and charitable, so he gave me one of his prizes – a bright blue figurine of what might be a turtle, but might not, with one of its arms missing. This, he said, was to be presented to Kate, and photos were to be taken of the ceremony in which she was given this prestigious gift.

Months have gone by since then, while I waited for the perfect moment. But now the time is right. Earlier today, I approached Kate as she enjoyed some relaxing downtime to break the good news and officially award her this prize.

Read More: Award ceremony »

Avatar McIver ‘in the know’ newsletter – 2021

Dear all,

Gosh darn it another year has already passed. Where did the time go? What was I doing with my life? If you already knew the answers to these questions then there would be no point in this newsletter. Let me gladly waltz you through the BEST news from the family from the last twelve months.

Jeff, you remember Jeff right? The boxer? He had the biggest bout of his life in February. He was up against Cornwaller “Duck fat” Turner, a man so tall if you asked him for directions he could already see where you were trying to get to. I had a few nagging doubts yet thankfully Jeff took him out in the third round with the old 2-10-4. That would never had worked had he not wore him down with the 8-8-2 and a vicious 1-5-9 to the gut, ouch! I’d hate to be on the receiving end of that. Despite what his sister will tell you, I taught him that.

Uncle Tupperware finally returned from his travels in Vietnam in May. The family hadn’t seen him since mama c-word last made her gingerbread soul soup. He brought with him marvellous tales of lofty mountains, inner wisdom and getting tanked with a bunch of monks for eight weeks.

Cousin Plip-plop was released from prison as July turned to August and then forgot about August so it went back for a second round of July. She had used her time wisely and emerged not only as a free woman but also dragging three diplomas in feminist science studies and a hat made of time. I tried to get her to make one for me alas it was too late as she could stay for a few days before starting a job in Hollywood. I predict big things for her before we see her again.

Little Billy joined the circus because, as we all know, he is the sturdiest stilt walker we know. He is quite the prodigy if you ask me. At that age all I could do was scratch myself and tell jokes about kangeroos whereas Billy can juggle up to eight grapefruit, hang mice from his ears and perform tricks on a unicycle. When they see his piece de resistance, you remember, throwing up into the air and catching it back in his mouth, they will drop their trousers in gasp and awe.

Reuben (or Rude-Boi Throckers as he is known round these parts) finally passed his Pope exam and was crowned grand high Pope of Russia for the next four seasons. We had our fingers crossed for Minsk and thankfully we were not disappointed, with Rome and Doncaster as his (fairly predictable and pretty obvious, I know) second and third choices. On his first day of the job he blessed a crowd of thorns, created three new words and shouted scorn at a cloud until it watered a village’s crops.

Me? Well, there’s not much to tell. I can’t really compete with everyone else’s news. I opened a packet of custard powder, tried a new flavour of crisps, taught a dolphin about feelings, lived in a mushroom for a week, polished some cheeses, stretched some weasels, ate far too much shoe polish and watched two sailors arguing about figs. I know, I know, I should really get out more. I promise I’ll have more to tell next year.

All the best

Ian

Avatar Even more old news

Everyone – and by that, I mean I assume everyone without having actually checked with any of you – everyone enjoyed my previous forays into old news, looking back at what had happened on various days in May and January. Since I’m low on posts this month we’re coming to the end of another year, this seemed like a good time for a look back at December 19 in the personal history of one Christo M. Fury.

Given that we’re just a few days adrift from Christmas, I was surprised to discover that my camera roll from this day in years gone by does not contain as many Christmassy things as I expected. Let’s see what’s in here.

Read More: Even more old news »

Avatar Making Nostalgia

Let me take you back, way way back. Back to when times were a lot simpler and, as it seems, so were the people.

We all know little Ian was a bit of a weirdo. I could tell you right now about half a dozen stories of instances where I did strange and unusual activities. Being the youngest of four meant that half the time all of the attention was on me and the other half was on the other three (I know the maths doesn’t really check out but that was how it felt three quarters of the time). I must have been under ten, possibly six or seven years old.

Following on from my award-winning post about my first mobile phone, let me present you with a genuine attempt to create nostalgia.

This actually stems from something my brother used to do. He would eat a packet of crisps then empty out the leftovers and flatten the packet in one of the many comic book, Beano, Dandy or other annuals we had lying around. It wasn’t really Christmas without some kind of bumper collection of comic nonsense filling up a suitable space in your stocking. Why did he do this? I don’t know, I could message him now and get an immediate response but no doubt he will be feeling tired somewhere given it’s a Sunday.

I decided to do the same thing because I wanted in on these absurd shenanigans. I remember chowing down on a selection of different crisps and then flattening them straight away. About a week later, little Ian went back to his flattened packets and looked at them. “This isn’t the same as John’s,” he thought to myself, “it doesn’t look as good.” I was doing exactly the same thing and yet for some reason my brother was much better at applying pressure to small plastic bags. Clearly my self esteem was very low even at such a young age; Freud would have a field day.

Looking at them now, yes, why on earth was this something we did? I don’t think my sisters were involved, they were too busy making up dance routines to New Kids on the Block and Mel and Kim songs. The pre-internet days are becoming something akin to the wild west where hobbies, interests and general activities were so different to what is the norm now that I personally don’t really know what is considered to be normal anymore. Is there a normal? Probably not, look what counts as music these days (that’s my grumpy man comment for this post).

Dripping in nostalgia and history.

If you indulged in something a little left field when you were a kid please help me out by sharing here. I want to point at you and laugh.