25 Mar 2015

"I'm the dreaming man
I can make it real, oh, yes I can
I like to dream
I am the dreaming man
I can make it real, oh, yes I can"
Once again I find myself engrossed in a Rockstar game, I've played every one except for Bully. This time it's GTA 5, yes I know it came out two years ago.  The trouble is with me being a cheap ass/skint kind of guy I waited until it came down in price.  I finally bought it about 4 weeks ago and so far have apparently clocked up nearly 85 hours of gameplay and spent nearly $1 Million on one characters' car mods alone.
I now have the overwhelming desire to bugger of to California, although I would like to reassure the U.S authorities that I promise not to jack cars, kill 357 cops with one character and get away with it by hiding in the hills.  I must be realistic though,  California would be nice but it would be just as bad as here only sunnier. I doubt America wants another minimum wage pool boy or pizza delivery guy.  Just think of the ridiculous look of Kevin Spacey in American Beauty wearing his fast food uniform and that would be me, failed in life can't be arsed anymore. Although I never understood why no one mentions the $50,000 severance pay he got, surely this eased the unemployment a bit?  I'd like a little of that easing right now to be honest... anyway I digress. (which, as we all know, is a female Digre)
It really is one of the best games ever made to be frank, OK there are the odd niggles like the phone bug which Rockstar seems to ignore despite calls (no pun intended) to fix the problem and the fact that someone will call the cops if you stand too close to them in game, the moon gravity when in vehicles or the fact that the NPC drivers will drive straight into you at any given moment. But the game itself is well crafted and scripted.  The motion capture is some of the best I've ever seen in any game.  There have been several laugh out loud moments for me whether it was on the in game radio stations or the actors lines, which in a game is something I can't remember happening before.  
I must say though that the animals in the game are easier to kill, as anyone who read my post regarding my previous Rockstar game addiction Red Dead Redemption will remember, I suffered sudden death syndrome once or twice from a previously unseen bear/cougar/wolf hiding behind a tree. Although I have yet to accidentally shoot my car in the back of the head like I did with several horses.
The map of Los Santos itself is immense and I haven't even discovered everything yet, despite the usual strategy I employ with open world games which is explore as soon as possible then carry on with the story.  I broke my usual gaming rules and bought the Brady game guide for the simple fact that there was so much in game to be found, I don't use it for the actual missions though just the side missions and collectables, also I have the open credits theme as a ringtone, addicted? Me?
Los Santos and San Andreas Island themselves look fantastic even on my old PS3 the attention to every minute detail is second to none, I don't know how long the game is going to be sat in my console but I doubt it will be taken out soon.

4 Mar 2015

"Well that's not the way
No sense or reason in your fussing and fighting
And your violent obsession
Who's ever really left feeling fine
After the great depression?
No sense of purpose in the competition
Keeping up with the Joneses
You buy a house,
You buy a car
You buy a marriage and a bed of roses

It's sad when people you don't know personally but respect and fill a large space of your life for years pass on, John Peel, Ian Dury and lately Leonard Nimoy for example.  I've never tired of his Mr.Spock character even though I've seen the films and series many times over for what seems like 100 years of my life. With each one we gain a little something that we carry on into our lives and hopefully pass on to others.
With Ian Dury it was the realisation that poetry wasn't all poncey about flowers and hills or the 'funny' double entendre strewn monologues that Benny Hill used to close the show with.  It could be all about the everyday ordinary things. A man walking the dog in the park and his hidden perversions, a shoplifting incident as a child, his relationship with his father etc. 
As for John Peel I took the love of new music and a very diverse collection if my ,now full, iPod is to be believed.  
From Leonard Nimoy I took something else entirely.  I've seen in recent years every kind of scientist doing interviews or YouTube videos on how much they'd taken from his character's love of science and his ability to analyse, although I do realise that 'love' is a human emotion.  Maybe if I had had better science teachers or a better home life then maybe I would have been up there doing experiments and selfies in the International space station in the name of science.
But because I had the kind of teacher that made something up to get me out of his class even though every single other kid in said class queued up to tell the Headmaster I hadn't done it. And because I had the kind of parents that when I expressed an interest in working for NASA or E.S.A they laughed and told me I was too stupid and would kill everybody, my path diverged.  Incidentally this was their argument when I asked if I could get a job with the local mechanic as a trainee grease monkey, and yet they didn't bat an eyelid when I joined the Army.
So with this in mind as a basis for my early life you can see why I would take the cold emotional, logical state of mind from Mr. Spock.  The idea formed in my 13 year old brain that if I hid my emotions and thought about things logically I would not be able to be hurt.  Although I think that my emotionless fa├žade and logic have led to not really living.  I can think of several  times in my life where I've talked myself out of asking someone out on a date because I could see that there was someone else better for them.  Or not get off with them at the Christmas party because it would complicate things and possibly I would lose them as a friend as well, which would be even worse.  
On the plus side I have always had the ability to see both sides of an argument and am always a pretty good problem solver.  Only recently have I rekindled my interest in science via astronomy but by now I can't muster up the enthusiasm for the minutiae of it all, preferring just to be an observer/photographer.  This I put down to middle age apathy rather than lack of ability.
Sometimes I wish that I could dispose of this semi Vulcan wall I put around myself but then I find I've been betrayed or hurt in some way and up it goes again.
Maybe I just need a bit of the old 'Pon Farr'? ;)

R.I.P Mr Leonard Nimoy
"You always were and ever shall be, our friend."

"I've always got a magic line
That I tap into any time
I watch the world by day and night
It's very close, but out of sight."

You know, being unemployed is a pain in the arse to be blunt. But I'm still hopeful of employment.  Otherwise I'd be under the Bournemouth pier bottle in hand like all the shoplifting scumbag losers.  Although, this will never happen for several reasons.  Chief of which is that I'm prepared to go without all the luxuries.  For a start it's been a year or so since I had a pizza delivered or stuffed a Chinese take away in my eager face.  I may have mentioned previously that I had to sell all my goodies to pay my way thanks to some faceless moron in the DWP (Nazi Div.) making a vagarious decision.  Still, water under the bridge ... I suppose!?! 
I apply to positions of all types and contracts. Part time, full time, permanent, temporary you name it.  I still get the impression that they don't wholeheartedly believe me when I sign on each week that I've actively been searching.  They themselves are no help anymore, when I was unemployed previously there were always courses to go on to bolster up the old skill set.  I asked recently if there were any I could be eligible for and was told there were no courses at all.
The thing is that I find it hard to be judged by people who have been in the job since I first came to town to live permanently in 1990. They haven't got the experience to enable empathy.  Back then it was easy to find a job I could just walk into unqualified and do it.  But now, as I'm sure I've ranted about before, you need two certificates to be a dishwasher.  I remember when I was in the Army walking around London spending money like it was out of style, as ever, and getting a job for two days as a labourer basically given to me as I walked past a building site.  All I needed was myself a pair of trainers and a willingness to earn over two days.  I got £120 and bought new shoes before returning to barracks, so as to not have to explain the concrete all over my feet at the guard house and that was that.  Now I have to buy all my own safety boots, hard hat, get two certificates and a hi viz jacket just to be a temporary 'Stop/Go' board operator. If that were to be my chosen career then I may well do so.  But it's not so I'm not.  Not that I have the money anyway, whatever comes in goes straight out.  Now, on top of everything else, I have to try and save up to clear my over draft by August, which probably won't happen no matter how much I will it to. 
But like I say I'm hopeful of the future.  My former manager used to tell me I wasn't positive, well I always disagreed.  I wonder how positive she feels when they no longer do pay raises or bonuses and are 65% down in profits? Now how do you spell Schadenfreude again?

18 Dec 2014

"Did you ever see the faces of children
They get so excited.
Waking up on christmas morning
Hours before the winter sun's ignited.
They believe in dreams and all they mean
Including heavens generosity.
Peeping round the door
to see what parcels are for free
In curiosity."
Well here we are another year nearly over and another year closer to the  bright and shiny future we all dream of. The trouble is the future never seems very futuristic when we get there.  I've been reading recently that all those Star Treks I've been watching lately to while away the long hours of unemployed boredom will never happen.  It would be more likely that in the near future at least we will make it only as far as Mars as far as travelling or living is concerned.  Personally I'm a bit disappointed, I'd always dreamt of being in an Enterprise type spacecraft and buggering off to Orion to pick up a green skinned exotic dancer... or two.  But no, so I hereby volunteer my services to NASA to travel to Mars for them.  I'm cheap, hard working, usually, and above all I'm expendable.

2 Nov 2014

"In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo..."
Something I noticed the other day whilst feeling a bit down due to working with the 'ex' shoplifter bloke in the charity shop.
All the accumulation of detritus we amass over the years, although it may be precious to us, is just so much junk donated in a black bin liner.
I came upon this thought whilst I was sorting out the masses of photo and picture frames in the warehouse upstairs.  One had a plaque on it for a former RAF Wing Commander and some others had various precious moment family photos in.  Now, I don't want to get all "We are all just dust in the wind" here but ....
I mean this is why I never spend money on fashions and, as my summer of selling my most treasured possessions can attest, I no longer quest for the latest gadgets and things.  You'll never find me stuck in a 6am queue to join the rest of the sheeple to get the latest iPhone or do the same six months later for the latest iPhone s with a slightly different colour.
The acquisition of stuff is just so much wasted effort and time.  I suppose I'm lucky in a way with no wife or children to push me in the direction of new house/car/toy/holiday in Tuscany etc. I can pick and choose what I wish to buy and if it's from ebay or a charity shop then so be it.
The one thing I would like is maybe one of those houses I see on George Clarks Amazing spaces or maybe even Grand Designs but at the way my life seems to roller coaster from having a little cash to having no cash then I doubt you'll see me on Channel 4 arguing the toss with Kevin McCloud about whether I should have hired a project manager or not.
Although having said all this about the collecting of material possessions, if in the unlikely case of my winning the competition for Richard Ayoade's Gadget Man I would of course be complaining about the lack of room in my house for all the lovely and soon to be sold on ebay gadgets.  I would keep the PS4...the gaming PC ...and the telescope, and Canon camera ...possibly some other stuff, oh I could do with a new kettle.  But, I would feel guilty about it... honestly.

1 Nov 2014

"The boy who wouldn't grow up
Chasing his own tail
The boy who couldn't grow up
An outing on bail"

Spoiler alert: Contains ranting.

Well, it's been a while hasn't  it? Here I am with one of the worst years I've ever had. Don't get me wrong I know others have had it worse but by my standards it's been a bit of a bugger.
Firstly, I had enough of being treated like crap by my former manager so I handed in my 6 weeks notice after 6.5 years with the company.  Then the DWP(Nazi division) decided that my stating that being depressed enough to go to bed at night hoping that you'd not wake up in the morning and therefore miss work was not reason enough to warrant leaving paid employment... everyone else I've spoken to since, like me, feels that it was.  So three and a half months of no money and me having to sell two digital cameras, several lenses, tripods etc, various pieces of my best telescope equipment, a load of collectable stuff I had and many of my favourite items on ebay to make ends meet later, not to mention a very understanding zombie landlord. I manage to survive the summer, mainly by finishing 4 Assassin's creed games on the PS3, although I used to have savings and no overdraft.  No more can I say that, I had hoped to maybe get into business for myself, then my boss wouldn't be an asshole.  But those plans took a dive when I needed to pay the rent.
In all this time I was diligently applying for jobs left right and centre, although the same old thing comes up again and again.  I need a passport to get just about every job that I get replies from.  Well here we go again I think everytime.  I don't have the cash to get a new passport as I have to pay a large chunk out of the money to my zombie landlord so that my debt to him doesn't get any bigger, even if all the others do.  I mean had I known I would have used some of my savings in the summer to get a passport.... and possibly a one way ticket.  I would like to state that I feel it's stupid that I can't prove I'm British by providing them with references and a work history going back to 1984/5 but there you go.  Also my birth certificate for some unknown reason is no longer acceptable because it doesn't show my parents' names on it.  I did think about writing the words " a couple of cunts" on there in biro, I doubt that would help in my job searching.
One thing that did strike me as completely stupid in the summer is that I have to have two pieces of paper in order to be the frowning guy at road works who spins the stop/go board, go figure.
The final straw was when the guy I think of a like a father to me, one Ken Richards, who was a gentle man that taught me a lot about being tolerant of others, classical music and the appreciation of many cheeses and many mustards died.  Along with his wife Di they both rescued me from being a carbon copy of many fostered kids and heading towards self destruction.  They taught me that it was ok to ask someone about a subject if you didn't understand, and unlike my parents didn't tell me to shut up and stop asking questions.  I was introduced into reading and culture that I would never have been party to otherwise.
When this happened I was still in the middle of the having no money incoming thing thanks to the DWP (Nazi division) and I'd run out of things to sell.  I asked for help to go up to the funeral and the DWP (Nazi division) said, "like a father isn't your actual father."  So basically it was a no. I have no respect for these people.
I have a new philosophy in life though, never help anyone else.  It turns out that being a benevolent member of family when you see someone in need counts for nothing.  I helped with dvd players, blu ray players, printer, laptop, computer chair, countless toys, books, comics and games and when I ask for a room for a couple of weeks I get a no and not even a courtesy call to see if I'm alright or not in months.  So I'm going solo and going to be selfish from now on.
Still, on a more positive note I have begun to volunteer at a local charity shop and have enjoyed it so much.  It was a 'Mandatory work placement' thing the DWP (Nazi division) kept threatening me with so I just said "Go on then" and they did.
It's varied and fun with good people there.... well almost.  Turns out one of the people on the scheme with me was one of my ex shoplifters... and one guy kept moaning at every chance he got about having to do this that or the other and every other word was "fucking".  But they'd all been unemployed for a year or so and the shoplifter guy I imagine even longer as he'd been a nemesis of mine and other members of staff for the entirity of the 6.5 years I'd been at maplin.  Speaking of whom, I've just remembered, the marketing department tried to have me fired over this blog.  Specifically the posts I'd mentioned them in between 5 and 6 years ago.  They lost enthusiasm for persuing that particular line once I informed my manager that I'd spoken to my union and they agreed with me that it all happened pre the agreement I'd signed.  Also that I hadn't posted in the blog for a while since the signing.
Anyhoo, I decided to go and volunteer at the place I am now just for something to do and I enjoy it and they seem to like my work and me.  I'm now the unofficial Electrical testing department, where I make everything ready to be PAT tested.  Also I got a brilliant computer and Marantz hifi out of it cheap so ...swings and roundabouts.
For fans of this blog, or at the very least people who still swing by from time to time, I will try to post more so long as I can keep the 'black dog' at bay but it ain't easy.
See you on the other side. :-)


27 Jun 2014

Life grates but life's great.

"Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I'm hoping it's going to come true
But there's not a lot I can do"

Well it's on a hiatus for the moment. But this world cup is turning out to be fantastic.... unless you are Spain or England.  Yards better than the last dull affair in South Africa and with less annoying Vuvuzela too.  I am glad to say that my (Adopted) team, Brazil, are still in as I write.  Here's to the next couple of weeks of footy being as good if not better.  I'm predicting either Brazil, Germany or Holland to be in the last few deciding games although it's been quite hard to predict this time.  Just the way I like it.

I posted the above heading ass I heard it on an old edition of Top of the  Pops that my Tivo recorded from 1979, which are currently being shown on BBC 4HD.  It reminded me of the strange dream I had about, of all people, Hannah Hart.  The only bit I remember is the tastefully naked 'American Beauty' bit, which is odd as she is a lesbian ....and I'm a male Lesbian... so I suppose it evens out.   I like her videos for the terrible puns and the fact that she is always positive but, not in an annoying way that you get sometimes with media personalities.  My main bug about that at the moment is Zooey Deschanel who constantly posts things about feeling positive and 'accept body your image' even if you are all lumpy like (I paraphrase).  I have no bones about being positive and all but try being all fluffy kittens and puppies when you have to deal with the DWP who berate you for not using their website to find work.  Even though you do and the website redirects you to umpteen other agencies anyway.  Now, I apply for several jobs a week and go on the site daily but the woman said they'd stop my money if they considered that I wasn't looking for work.  To which my reply was "What, they'll fucking stop it twice in one go?  they'll double stop my money?"  To which she tapped on her windows 95 computer, humphed and said nothing.

I'd like to remain positive but then I'm not a gorgeous actress/singer/songwriter with a bank account that has commas in the total column.  Whereas I am a somewhat lumpy middle aged grumpy bastard slowly realising that life hasn't finished kicking me in the face until I sell all my belongings on ebay.  It will probably continue to do so for a while too.

But I don't want you to think that I'm a negative person, I'm not.... not really, despite what some dumb ass former manager may think.  I am a realist, but I live for the small islands and archipelagos of happiness in the vast Pacific ocean of life.  Like, for example, when I was knee deep in swamp water whilst in the Army.   We had spent all day digging this fire trench through thick orange clay only to have the roof canopy collapse thanks to the mouthy Mancunian in our detachment.  There we were with thick clay clinging to my, by the morning, orange combat uniform with the freezing November rain pouring down my neck and even at three in the morning trying to clean my L1A1 FN Fal  firearm in the dark I knew that nothing bad lasts for ever.

So this is what keeps me going.  It's not negative, it's not exactly positive I'll grant you but to go through life with an attitude that 'nothing bad lasts for ever' is better than having the unrealistic attitude that life is all candy, fireworks and puppies if you just think positively.   Always expect the worst to happen that way you'll be happier when it doesn't and prepared when it does.

Is anyone there BTW?

13 Jun 2014

World cup fever

All the booze is free, airline going broke,
Here come the lady with another jack and coke,
Wanna watch the movie, can't sit still,
Flying down to Rio, going to Brazil,


It's here again the world cup or, if you are a gangsta, Da world cup yo.  But I am not so let's speak properly shall we?  For the first time ever I own a Brazil shirt, this will be an indication of their demise.  They will now do a Scotland and go out in the first round.  Although unlike Scotland they wouldn't have bought return tickets. How do I know this?  Simple I bought one Norwich shirt in my life and almost immediately they got relegated after a three year stretch in the premiership.

I heard Pele described by a journo the other day as immortal and after seeing him in an interview recently I can well imagine that he is, he looks exactly the same as he did in the 1970's.  Maybe I should go and live in Brazil?  Although having seen the size of the white knee tarantula in that Kate Humble documentary the other night, thank you HDTV, I'm not so sure.  I mean the angry monkeys, the people stealing your wallet and the unbearable heat I could cope with but a spider the size of a dinner plate? Nope.  I mean it's not like I'm going to crap myself at the sight of a house spider or anything but somethings should be small.  Still Kate Humble in swimwear soon took my mind off the gigantinormous arachnid.

I would like to bugger off to another country though, maybe even stay there.  I'm too old an lazy to learn a language now so I'm limited to Canada, Antipodes or the U.S of A.  I can't say that I'm enamoured with Britain at the moment after they stopped my rock and roll recently.  Although I do keep getting emails from Reed.co.uk who seemingly want me to apply for a job with M.I.6.  So disgruntled man with money troubles works for M.I.6.  Who am I Alec Leamas?  Now I don't wish my country or any of it's inhabitants ill.... with the exception of maybe oooh I dunno, Russel Brand, Robbie Williams, Andy Parsons or Wayne Rooney.  Incidentally Wayne Rooney in our house is known affectionately as The Rootard. But I digress, which as previous readers will no doubt remember is a female digre, if I were offered a way out of the U.K. I would take it.

But as I'm not likely to be whisked off to foreign shores by some brunette super model, sadly, I'll await the morning post for another email rejection letter.