Avatar The second horror of Christmas

Round here people like to put lights on their house for Christmas. You know there’s that house near you, where the people go a bit mad, and cover the whole thing in garish flashing multicoloured lights? Every year, because it’s their “thing”? Well, we more or less live in a whole town of people like that.

On our street, the people next door and the people over the road compete for the most Christmas lights every year. As a result we are trapped in the middle of the fairy light equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Here is the view out of our bedroom window this year.

And then, if you want a bit of a break from the light shining through the blinds, you can go round to the back, where this is the view.

Avatar Butt is it art?

Whilst galivanting around Edinburgh during my recent birthday escapades (god, he never shuts up about his sodding birthday, does he?) Vikki and I managed to take in a lot during a very small period of time. The Christmas market, which was due to open on the Friday we were there, actually didn’t until the evening which was after we had left. This reminded me of Bridlington and all the lovely things that were closed due to the timing of our visit. We did, however, get to walk around the lovely National Gallery which had huge paintings of this and that. Not being an art person myself it was nice to pretend to be a posho and gawp at all the Georgian and Elizabethan works of art all the while wondering when I could eat again and where the gift shop was.

I then came across a monkey in a painting and, boy, wait, there is actually a whole painting to go with the monkey. As I stepped back to look at the entire thing I realised that I didn’t have a clue what any of these paintings meant. Some were nice, some were food for the soul (blah blah blah), most were expensive firewood. I don’t know, you don’t come here for intellectual musings. I’m the dick and fart jokes department so let me tell you I was way out of my depth.

The plaque stated that, “the precise meaning of this rare secular work by El Greco is uncertain. The boy’s act of kindling a flame may allude to the arousal of the sensual passions. A monkey in art is often symbolic of vice, while the man grinning inanely could represent folly. The painting may thus illustrate the simple moralising message that lust appeals to our foolish and baser instincts.”

Art is subject to interpretation and any meaning could be correct. I will, however, volunteer my own thoughts:

  1. Nobody is grinning inanely. The fisherman on the right is clearly a pyromaniac and is looking for some cheap thrills before he has to go back to, I don’t know, the North Sea or wherever he’s working. He looks tired more than anything else.
  2. The boy needs a hobby. Maybe he’s lighting the thingy for attention? Come on, little Billy, go learn how to grift or dance for pennies on the corner.
  3. Once you see the monkey you can’t un-see the monkey and therefore everything else in the painting is irrelevant. He may as well have only painted the monkey which is a stellar painting of a monkey. 10 out of 10

This may carry on into a regular series because I feel as though art and art appreciation could be a new career for me in 2024. I’m clearly very good at it and you should always do what you’re good at.

Avatar Do the splits

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the age of forty. After an uphill struggle through some difficult times you’ve made it and you’ve made it in one piece. Now all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the view through these novelty binoculars.

It seems as though I can’t go a few weeks without making a fool of myself. Last week I got lost driving back through Gateshead and almost drove into an industrial estate and then accidentally drove through a bus lane. That was fun. I don’t really have much of a defence other than it was dark and I was hungry so my hunger caused me to drive the wrong way. That’s what I’m going to write to Gateshead Council when they send me a letter asking to pay a fine for driving like a clown.

Let’s do something a little more contemporary though to really illustrate the fact that I’m potentially getting worse. Subjectively. Gingerly. Crimsonly.

It’s the end of the day and I am striding to my car. I don’t walk anymore you see I stride. I’ve got the prestigious job and the happy life so I take a manly stride to get me around places now. As I approach my car I see that the car next to me has parked a little too close because everyone is terrible at parking. I can open the driver door however it requires a bit of manoeuvring (I can never spell that word) to hold the door so I don’t smash it into the other car but also leave enough space to get my sorry ass into the seat. I manage to get my left leg in and I hear it, the sound that I have heard a few times before. I don’t feel as though I have lunged too far however by the sounds of things I have crossed a line and one that once crossed cannot be undone. I may as well have put my foot in the footwell of the adjacent car for what it’s worth.

I know the sound because it happened to me about a year or two ago. That is the sound of my jeans splitting. That is the cold air reaching my bare skin which up until recently was covered by my jeans. The material could clearly not take the isometric shapes my legs were making whilst trying to get into the car and now it’s all over. I still have to pick up some food on the way home and luckily I have some jogging bottoms in my gym bag, which is stashed on the back seat. In Asda car park I hide momentarily behind my door and pull them on over my now sagging jeans. Nothing left to do but stride around picking up what I need and head home like a grown-up, a grown-up wearing two pairs of trousers.

Avatar Teaser trailer

I’m in a ridiculous position. Normally, on the last day of the month, I’m scrabbling around for something to turn into a blog post so I can earn a bean before the clock runs out. Nightmare. What picture can I find on my phone? What mundane event can I expand into a witty anecdote? What horrifyingly self-important letter of complaint from my past can I share?

This month isn’t like that. This month, on the final day of November, I find myself with a different kind of anguish. This month I have a whole series of blog post ideas ready to go, but I can’t use them yet. 

I’ve got pictures from the Papples recording session for Pop Squared. Tons of them! And they’re great, and funny, and there are stories about them. But I’ve already posted one set of Papples photos this month and I haven’t uploaded these ones. 

Then, I’ve finally edited the behind the scenes footage we shot while we were making “Space for an Ace”. It’s great. I pulled a few clips from it a few years back but the rest has loads of fun stuff too. Trouble is it needs another tweak before I do a final export, and in any case it would need to go on YouTube and there’s no time for that tonight. 

I’ve also got Four Word Reviews brewing. The album “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba has been on my desk for the last two weeks, but every day I thought I’d have time to listen to it I ended up not having time, so I haven’t managed to fit it in yet.

This is all without mentioning my camera roll, which is of course brim full of potential posts. Probably. 

Anyway, the point is that this month I’m tossing off a last minute post not because I’m short of material, but because I’ve got loads of stuff lying around and yet I still don’t have anything ready to go. So instead please enjoy this teaser trailer for upcoming posts here on the Beans. You’ll love them. If I ever get round to them. 

Avatar Blurrd 2: Return of the Killer Blurrd

Back in June, me and a bunch of cronies travelled hundreds of miles out of our way to go see Queens of the Stone Age at Cardiff Castle. A week and a half ago, we drove as far as Stockton-on-Tees to see them again.

Stockton is not usually known for its music venues (at least as far as my limited knowledge of the place goes) so the fact that the band chose this over the arena in Newcastle, the Sage in Gateshead, hell, even the Stadium of Light in Sunderland is baffling. The Globe in Stockton was so small we could barely get into the room; the closest we could get to the stage was the very rear by the doors. It felt like more than 3000 people were there, the supposed capacity of the place.

I bought three bottles of water and stood in line at the bar for half an hour. A lady got annoyed because, after going through the security checks, her umbrella was confiscated.

in time honoured fashion, I took several photos from the back of the room and most of them were blurry. Here is my most blurred effort:

I am very proud of my efforts and think I should take up photography immediately.

Avatar A slice of 2010

While rummaging in the dusty Beans archives for material to put in the 2024 calendar, I found a load of photos we took during the making of the Papples’ second album, Masterpiece, back in 2010. (I also found pictures from 2011, when we were making Pop Squared, but I’m saving those for next month because you have to keep those post totals up.)

There are 149 pictures in the set, so you’ll be relieved to hear I whittled them down to 80 before adding them to a new photo gallery in the usual place.

The photos start out in my old flat in Streatham, where we can be seen doing a bit of recording and editing, but then quickly turn to a day trip we took to Kent. I think we spent the day touring around various seaside towns, messing about, taking photos for the album cover and possibly sending postcards to Kev. I’m fairly sure the photos include visits to the Isle of Sheppey, Westgate, Whitstable, Sandwich and Samphire Hoe, though there may be other places too.

In Westgate we refused to get out of the car, and instead spent our time getting into stupid positions (in the boot, legs out of the window) and using the headrests to pretend to be walruses.

Along the way we learn a number of things.

Ian enjoyed taking a self-portrait. Selfies hadn’t been invented in 2010, but if they had, he’d be the king of them. Among the 69 pictures I discarded were lots of alternative shots of Ian’s face that he took himself. There are still loads in here.

I thought it was funny to be completely expressionless and vacant in pictures, and did this almost every time a camera was pointed at me. Most of these are irritating and don’t work, but I will admit that the picture of me outside a pub called “The Smack” still makes me laugh.

We also learn that Kent is full of places with stupid names, and we photographed most of them. Pictures of daft streets, towns and businesses litter this album. It’s a masterpiece of silliness. Enjoy.

Avatar Forty first

It’s been revealed today that Ian “Mac Mac Mac Mac” McIver, a high class civil servant from Newcastle, has become the first person to be 40.

For years now, scientists have theorised that a person might be able to become 40, but nobody in human history had ever actually managed it. Now, a number of papers in leading medical journals are beginning to explore the genetic mutations that might have made this feat possible.

Speaking at a Sherry and Fortified Wine Symposium in Washington DC, US President Joe Biden – who has been 39 for more than 42 years – congratulated Mr McIver on his remarkable achievement. “If this guy can do it, perhaps we all can,” mumbled Biden, whose speech was becoming indistinct after several hours tasting samples of port.

While almost 40% of the world’s population are now aged 39, there is great trepidation about what the leap to 40 might mean. Sir David Attenborough, now aged 39 and 696 months, speculated that those reaching the new age might find themselves pushing onward to 41 or even 42 in the years that followed. “It could be a slippery slope,” he told reporters outside his local LaserQuest, “like the ones penguins slide down.”

Two fearless volunteers are said to have signed up to follow in McIver’s pioneering footsteps, but safety is paramount and their steps forward into the world of 40 will be taken slowly. Criss Crimz, 39, and Kevindo Menendez, 39, are both expected to become 40 under controlled lab conditions during the next year. Scientists will be monitoring their progress carefully.

In the meantime, Mr. McIver’s feat does not seem to have fazed him, nor does his unprecedented old age seem to have dulled his lively air of self-importance. At a press conference yesterday, he pushed aside the lead researcher, who had been explaining early findings about his condition to the world’s press, grabbing the microphone and climbing atop the lectern to shout “I was first!!!!” to the assembled crowd.

“I’m all about the wins,” he continued, “winning at life. Absolute cog pipes, I’m gonna win ’em all!”

Security personnel removed him from the auditorium at this point, but as he was bundled out of the door, McIver could be heard to shout “It’s OK, soon you’ll get the chance to win, but not right now – because I’m winning!”

McIver’s whereabouts are not known since his removal from the press conference.

Avatar Nonna

Nonna knows best,
Nonna wants you to know
That Nonna likes pizza,
Pizza toppings on pizza dough.

Nonna needs num-nums,
Nonna kneeds the pizza dough,
Needless to say by evening
Nonna’s certainly ready to go.

Nonna can’t let go,
Nonna wants a side dish,
I can’t make garlic bread,
Side dish is a side wish.

Nonna isn’t happy,
Nonna lets me know,
Left for dead in a dustbin,
Mozzarella, cheese and pesto.