Monday, November 30, 2009

Best - Arcade - Game - Ever!

When I was a teen, I had a few holidays in Somerset with my cousin
and family. We stayed in a little cottage that was on the grounds of a
farm, surrounded by the beautiful West Country scenery.

Occasionally, we'd get the opportunity to go into the local town,
Minehead, and hit the amusement arcade on the main street.
In those days, the games were the likes of Gauntlet, Star Wars and
Pole Position but we only had time for one game: Paperboy!

Why? I don't really know. All I can say is that it was quirky (think
about it - a video game about a kid who delivers papers),
it has gorgeous graphics (even now, 20 years later they look good)
digitized voices (a big deal in those days) and funky music.

It was also annoyingly difficult!

I no doubt spent a small fortune lobbing coins into the slot so that
I could just have 'one more go' - but it was worth it.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube I can see Paperboy again in all
it's glory. Technology truly can be a wonderful thing.

Shame I can't actually play the game, though.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The House I grew Up In

My parents will be moving out of their current house, 'The Homestead', in two weeks time after living there for over twenty five years.

I love that house, and am sad that soon I won't be able to visit or stay there any more, but now all the kids have grown up and left home (apart from my little bro who's at uni) I guess it's unfair to expect my folks to live in a massive house with just them, the dog and the cat to rattle around in.

I have countless memories of living in that house (most of them good!), and am always reminded of something from the past whenever I go to visit. It's the only house I have any real memory of living in - we were in Caerleon for a bit before moving to Magor and I can't remember much of that house.

What saddens me slightly is that I never really appreciated the house for what it was when I was a kid. For me and my brothers, it was just normal to live in a gigantic house with a huge garden and an entire valley to roam. It seems strange to me now, but sometimes I looked on my friends in the village with envy because they lived on housing estates where they could visit each other and play in the street.

Even so, we'd spend most weekends playing wargames outside with wooden sticks for machine guns or sloshing about in the nearby stream constructing dams (much to the annoyance of the farmers downstream). We would have adventures exploring the woods behind the house, making dens out of anything we could find, or we'd explore the churchyard over the road at night hoping to catch sight of a ghost. Good times.

We didn't know we were born.

So now, as a grown up who's been infected by the social virus of materialism, I regard my parent's house with the eyes of someone who wants a 'really nice place' to live in. Unless we become stinking rich, we'll never be able to afford to live in a house like it. My expectations of a home for my family have always been quite high because of the Homestead, so I've now had to set my sights a little bit lower as I've come to realise our financial limitations.

It was, however, a fantastic home for most of my life where I got to do things a lot of children never experienced. I owe my parents a great deal for what they gave me - a childhood of wonder and adventure, set against a backdrop of several acres of green countryside. They made a lot of sacrifices to live in that house and I will forever be grateful.

The Homestead is just some bricks, cement, wood, glass and metal thrown together. In a thousand years, it will have crumbled away and become part of the earth again. However, it played a huge part in my formative years and I will always look back fondly at that big old house nestled at the bottom of the valley.

People move on. Thing change. That's life.

I just hope the new owners of The Homestead learn to really appreciate it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And what do you do...?

I went to a business networking event yesterday. It was one of those things where everyone is desperate to find leads for their business, and in these times the desperation is even more acute. People were trying to be ever so positive on the outside, but I just wondered whether underneath there was a layer of complete panic and terror.

One thing we did was 'speed networking' - just like speed dating, you're supposed to share your business pitch in 30 seconds with another person before moving on.

Unlike speed dating, it doesn't consist of mainly balding old men who never go out who are looking for an easy, err, you-know-what (so I'm told by our work experience girl).

There was one lady who I have to say completely baffled me. I couldn't understand her as she was softly spoken, her eyes were all over the place and she waffled on for the entire time about something I can only guess at. All I remember from that conversation are the words 'funding ... grants ... twelve million pound contract' - I have no idea what the context was. The most annoying thing about our 'conversation' was the fact that she failed to let me tell her about my business.

As my colleague put it - she's either barking mad and useless at whatever she does OR she's one of those brilliant eccentrics with tons and tons of money because she's so good at her job.

Whichever it is (and my money's on the former), I couldn't even find out - she didn't have any business cards.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The John and Edward Timeline

John and Edward are an enigma. How they managed to get this far in the X Factor is an utter mystery to me - but I must admit that I admire their tenacity, 'thick-skinnedness' and courage. Each week, they put up with relentless stick from half the country, prepare for an outrageous performance and face three judges who don't really want them to win. That takes guts.

Even by writing about the dreaded 'Jedward', I am contributing to the online deluge of twin-based-commentary the like of which has become normal for any celebrity gossip (how did people cope in the 80s???). Not being one to follow the crowd, however, I would like to write something different about the dynamic duo from Ireland.

Just imagine that Louis Walsh was right - he saw the twin's potential and knew he was onto a winner (you have to admit that Louie - the little Leprechaun of a wee man - knows how to succeed at boybands, he really does).

Just imagine the unimaginable ...

what if Jedward succeeded ...

what if they got through to the final ...

and WON?!?!?

The John and Edward Timeline 2010 - 2110 A.D.
Jan 2010 - John and Edward are still riding high in the charts after winning the X Factor and securing a phenomenally successful Christmas No. 1 in eighteen countries. Their cover of '19' by Paul Harcastle is the fastest-selling download in history.

March 2010 - Their album 'I really like your shoes' goes platinum after three days.

Nov 2010 - After several months in hiding, Jedward emerge with new haircuts and little bits of whispy hair around their chin. Puberty has finally kicked in. Their new single 'The Bramble-Cheese Maker Hip Hopper' goes straight to No. 1 in the UK.

June 2010 - Jedward begin their sell-out 150-date world tour. They are the first western band to perform in North Korea.

Dec 2011 - Jedward's performance on the 2011 series of X-Factor is watched by more people than there are on the planet. Several TV stations are forced to shut down because of viewing demand. The world-wide internet is offline for the first time ever because of Jedward's performance - thankfully for only 11 minutes.

Aug 2012 - The world is shocked to hear that John and Edward are splitting up. The stock market crashes and there are fears of another recession. Calls to 999 and 911 overload the telephone exchanges. Claims that the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy are centred around this celebrity shocker are denied by experts.

Sept 2012 - The split turns out to be false. The world-wide economy picks up.

Jan 2013 - Jedward's latest album 'Can you take this anymore? No seriously, can you?' hits the charts, with predictable success.

April 2013 - John's hair is insured for £3million.

Sept 2013 - Jedward begin their tour of the most troubled nations in the african continent. Their presence spurs on peace, harmony and renewed economic confidence in these areas.

June 2014 - The Catholic Church recognises John and Edward as Saints. They are the first pop stars to receive this honour.

Jan 2016 - After much silence from the twins, they break onto the pop scene again with a wildly different image. They are going through a similar stage to the Beatles when they released Sgt Pepper.

July 2016 - Robbie Williams, Madonna and Bob Dylan are lined up as supporting acts for Jedward on their world tour.

Nov 2017 - Simon Cowell is sentenced to life in prison for plotting to blow up Jedward at a charity concert in Berlin.

Dec 2018 - Jedward receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Feb 2019 - Edward marries Miley Ray Cyrus.

May 2022 - Jedward release their Greatest Hits, entitled 'We come from the heart' on every audio format ever invented (including wax cylinder, 8-Track and MiniDisc).

Sept 2025 - The X-Factor is replaced by the Jedward Factor.

Aug 2039 - Jedward set up the 'Convalescent Home for Unsuccessful X-Factor Finalists'

Jan 2042 - John is reported missing, presumed dead after losing contact with his guides in the French Alps. A planet mourns. Edward goes into hiding.

June 2042 - John is discovered in a cave near the Swiss border. He has been living off berries, dried gerbils and ice water. He is reunited with his brother on a cruise ship in the Indian Ocean. They pledge to never leave each other's side ever again.

Aug 2050 - John and Edward fulfil their boyhood dream of going into space. They spend a day aboard the International Space Station before travelling to the Chinese Moonbase. It is rumoured that they paid £50million each for the trip.

Jan 2052 - Jedward are cloned for posterity should anything ever happen to them. The clones are kept in a special containment facility in Mexico.

Aug 2052 - The Jedward clones have been illegally cloned by pirates. This leads to widespread 'home-cloning' of the twins. Confusion reigns across the globe.

Sept 2054 - Jedward and all their clones are rounded up and forced to live in an undergound prison at a secret location.

Jan 2065 - 'The Jedward Solution' is ratified by member states of the G25. It orders all Jedward clones and their offspring to be placed on a Generation-Class spacecraft and removed from planet earth. They are to be re-located to an offworld colony.

Dec 2075 - Planet Jedward is officially recognised as a part of the Human Empire. Its population is currently 120,000.

Mar 2099 - Planet Jedward rebels against Earth in a dispute over taxes on hair gel. An armada of 'Jedships' races towards earth to resolve this matter.

June 2099 - Earth surrenders to Jedward after a humiliating defeat by the Jedward Space Navy. The original Jedward become King and King of Earth and all its territories.

Aug 2105 - Humans make contact with aliens for the first time. The aliens are quickly enslaved and become servants of the Most Holy Jedward Empire.

Feb 2110 - King Jedward retires to the paradise planet of Cowellia, and devise plans for a new talent-based TV show.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shake your head!

Here's a blast from the past I heard on the radio the other day - what a brilliant tune!

Transport yourself back to 1992 and Shake your head!!!