I was having a browse through my photos just now, the old ones, the really old ones.
I bought my first digicam during the Easter holiday of 2002, I think it cost around £160 and was a measly 2MP. It gobbled through AA batteries like popcorn.
However, it was worth it, as spending my holiday working putting up fences around the estate was better than sitting around alone, which was my other alternative.

At that time it wasn't common for young people to own digicams or phones with cameras.

I used my cam a lot, often around school and then when I reached the sixth form, I used it in the Sixth Form Centre, our student bar.
The first occasion in which I was there properly was the Heroes and Villains party, I believe.
Something that might please Chris if he reads this is that I went as Rimmer - a hero to himself and a villain to the rest of the Red Dwarf crew.
The H was superglued to my forehead (having been a wargamer, I'm well versed in the nuances of superglue).
Due to my glue skillz I knew how to easily remove it without any marking, even if most people seemed convinced it would leave a load of red marks or something..

Those of you who know about my past might know I fell for a German girl named Lara a short time after this party. However, at this party I didn't really notice her. I recall she went dressed as a devil, but I've no proper photo of her from that night. I think her face appears in the background of one of the photos, but otherwise she's not in any.

I was looking through to find a suitably fun picture to post on my blog when I found this one:

I can't believe I've never noticed who's standing directly behind me. Hell, after she left the school to return to Germany I remember looking through these photos to see if I had any of her from that night. Well paint me unobservant!

The girl holding onto me is Rhian, an old friend of mine, one of the first girls I got to know at CCB as our desks were next to each other in the boarding house during 1st Form (So I've known her for nearly a decade now.. holy shit..).

To her right is Rhys, a guy I used to go climbing with who would spend a fair bit of time with my friends, Laurence and Gwion, so we're kinda friends too. Nice guy.

Shoving his head into the photo above is Ryan.
Whilst I never liked him, I can certainly think of people I hated more.

Hmm, I think there's three other German girls in the background, they went as Bond girls, I think I see the back of Laura, Anne-Sophi and I think that may be Victoria there too.
The black guy talking to Lara, hmm, I think he was German too, but I'm not certain. "Chris" suggests itself, but I really don't recall his name. If anyone from CCB remembers him, comment and tell me who he was, because it's bugging me!

I've also just noticed that the pic is entitled "Old Centre Pic" here on Bebo.
I must have added that custom caption but have no recollection of doing so..

With a memory like this it rather explains why I try and take so many photos..

Cotton-eyed Joe

28 August 2007

This song should be familiar to most of you, but it wouldn't suprise me if at least a few people wouldn't know it from the title.

"Cotton-Eyed Joe" by Rednex
(apparently you can hear a sample here: http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Violins-Rednex/dp/B00000057K )

My earliest memories of it are from a school disco, in the early nineties, I seem to remember. I can't have been very old, eight maybe, if that?
My memories from that time are very blurry, but perhaps that's normal.

Anyway, I remember this song being around that time. It was quirky, fun and rather cringey, some how. A horrible mixture of the 80s and old songs from the 50s with a bizarrely compelling violin thrown in for good measure.

I recall my classmates really liking it, but I don't think I found it that cool at the time, which probably made me horribly uncool, or would have done had I expressed an opinion on the matter, in between the air-violining they did..

More recently I remember the song appearing on a minidisc, mix-tape style. It was played in Christ College's Sixth Form Centre when the bar was open.
On such nights the digital decks were manned by sixth formers (I don't think it was only upper sixth, I think lower sixth were eligible for the job too).
Music was played from CDs, minidisc and occasionally someone's laptop, sitting in the DJ booth.

Anyway, the song was on minidisc and was played many times, I seem to recall, through the drunken haze, that the air-violining returned in many cases. It even induced dancing, which was certainly rare, Centre Parties aside (mainly due to numbers).
I remember that towards the end of one of the evenings, many ciders and beers later, the minidisc breaking. Not the machine, the specific disc containing the song. It was brought outside the centre and a small stake erected next to it (gods know where the guys found it..).
The amount of reverence they placed on it was trying to go for comedy, I think..

Even though I was rather worse for wear, it just wasn't that funny. Perhaps they didn't commit enough to make it funny, because damnit it should have been pretty godsdamn amusing.

I think someone got hold of the song later though and played it from their laptop, but it was never quite the same, although I'll wager that the air-violining was still present..

It's quite suprising how much stuff I keep in this small, leatherbound thing. Well, I think it's leather at least. Seems like it. I found it in a cupboard at some point, so I'm not really sure about much else other than it says "Fabretti" on it (Wikipedia says "Raphael Fabretti (1618 - January 7, 1700) was an Italian antiquary.").

First off, the obvious, money.
The amount I carry varies, but I rarely carry fifties for the simple reason that they don't bloody fit! An amount between nothing and £60 is about the usual for me, in a mixture of twenties, tens and fives. In this case I've got an English £10 note and two fivers, one Scottish, one English. There's also £3.55 in mixed change.
Additionally, there's two debit cards, one for Lloyds TSB and one for, uh, Natwest (fairly useless, but not as bad as Halifax!).

Working clockwise, the rest of the contents:

-Four IWC UK business cards with my smirking mug on the back with my name, job title and email address.
-A nearly expired Odeon card entitling me to a further discount on top of the student one (used, uh, once?).
-My driving license complete with an ancient photo and a miniscule copy of my signature.
-One durex branded condom.
-HMV student card (actually worthwhile).
-GAME reward card (actually worthless).
-My Napier student card with a rather more up to date, slightly photoshopped pic.
-My Lothian Buses student bus card. Pretty much required for life in Edinburgh.
-One mini-map of Lothian Buses' routes throughout the 'burgh. Very useful for the wandering podcaster.
-One National Rail card wallet thingy containing the two bits that make up my Young Person's Railcard. Discounts FTW.
-A Caffé Nero loyalty card, 7/9 stamps filled in.
-An odd little card from Lloyds TSB to do with emergency coverage for cars or something. I've no idea what it's for or why I carry it around.

So there you go, a little insight as to what I carry around most days.

On Gang Culture

25 August 2007

Listening earlier to "Any Questions?" I heard a discussion about gang culture and young people in modern Britain.
One of the points brought up caught my attention - gangs act as a family of sorts for the young people who form them.

Whilst some families are certainly strong units, it seems increasingly that family is either not sympathetic to the pressures faced by young people today, or simply not there at all. Families may be physically together, but how often is time actually spent together?

It is interesting to hear some of the points raised by the older members of panels. Some of the points raised seem valid others seem silly at best and utterly preposterous at worst. Things such as increasing the power of people who are traditionally authority figures seem to have some sensible basis (how much effective power do teachers, police officers and adults have to combat "anti-social behaviour"?) others, such as "ban all violent films and videos" seem rather, well, totalitarian and oppressive.

Looking at how our society has changed over time it is clear to see that we've moved very much away from a community culture and into the culture of the individual. The 1960s heralded an embrace of individualism; the legacy of this seems to be the extremely consumption-orientated culture we're seeing in Britain today. Sure, individualism has lots of merits, but we seem to have let the pendulum swing a little too far.

Whilst our affluence and material wealth has increased incredibly over the last century, I can't help but feel that in some ways we're trying to replace something most humans need with escapism. A bit of escapism can be nice and is nothing new. People have been reading for millennia, storytelling, that sort of thing, entertainment and escapism often go hand in hand.

I'm straying from my point somewhat though, I'm afraid. What I'm attempting to head towards is the lack of things we do together as groups. When you're in school you might be in a class together, but outside of that, what do you do together as a group when you're too old to play together?
Sports are good for this sort of thing, but they aren't always available and of course, they don't appeal to everyone, or the particular ones that appeal aren't available.

Young people are often seeking an identity. Perhaps not consciously, but it's clear to anyone who pays attention that many young people find them trying to find somewhere they fit in, a peer group.
Gangs are a manifestation of this. The problem being of course that young people are not known for their rational thinking and good judgement. Couple this with peer pressure and a small quarrel can get blown out of all reasonable proportion. Pressure to not look weak, to not let the group down, to retaliate the only way they know how - with violence, of course. The old an "eye for an eye" principal.

I don't imagine that the way our culture glamorises violence in film, music and video games does much to help this. I doubt very much that they [i]cause[/i] violence, but I imagine their influence certainly helps grease the axels of this kind of behaviour.

One thing I can't personally empathise with is this kind of anger. I get angry at times, but I don't get to the level of the anger of most people it seems, getting angry about pointless little things, like they matter. Let it go, people..

I wonder though, nature or nurture argument - am I naturally like this?

Another interesting point raised was the arrogance of young people. I can certainly empathise with this one, hehe.
It is true; we are a lot more confident, often over-confident. Hell, half the people I speak to who come across as arrogant are probably bluffing. It's all part of this peer pressure to not appear weak, it would seem. It ends up as a self-perpetuating problem.

I don't have a direct solution, hell, why should I?
However, I do think we need more activities together, not just sports.
We need someone to take a cynical, pragmatic look at what interests young people today.

It's all very well saying what they SHOULD be interested in, but one might as well be sitting around stoking a fire consisting of bundles of crisp fifties when it comes to some of the projects I've heard of.
These sorts of things are region specific and should be treated like that. What works for Manchester might not be as good a solution for Brixton.

While we're piling funds into upgraded WMD programmes we're cutting expenditure on the community front.
To draw on a culture I've studied somewhat, the hip-hop culture in NYC through the 70s and 80s, there's a lot to be learnt.
For those who don't know, although it is somewhat open to debate, hip-hop consists of many facets. There's the "spoken" side, being rap, the "written" side, graffiti and aerosol art and then there's breaking (break dancing) there's numerous other bits that fit in various places as well, but these are the most prominent pieces.

Why is that relevant? Well they were things that would be done together by the young people. There would be contests with teams of b-boys, rap battles and so on and so forth. Friendly (for the most part, hehe) competition. There's always going to be some fighting amongst young people, but at least by implementing these sorts of things there existed ways rivalries would go before descending into violence. Furthermore, the most talented individuals became role models for the younger ones, giving responsibility, something sadly lacking in many aspects of our culture. We're very much into a blame culture.

This hip-hop example is just one, of course, but I hope it gets the idea across.
More skate parks, youth clubs, teams of all sorts. My school provided a lot of this sort of thing, although less than it used to by the time I left, which was a damn shame, to be honest.


23 August 2007

I recently said something like "How do I get rid of this KateModern crap?" on my Bebo profile.
Today I logged on and found a little "close" link in the newest KM thing. Woo!

I've never watched it, perhaps I'd like it, perhaps not. What I don't like is having it appear on my "changes" page. Fascinating as it may be, I did not sign up to it and I don't want it mingled in with my friends, thank you very much.

When I get a connection with enough bandwidth to view it, I may have a look, because it may be quite good. If it isn't, I can hate it with the passion that I hate everything else with.

I was in Newcastle today, at the Metrocentre (a large shopping centre). Nothing much to say there, other than that I am gripped by the fact that I have virtually everything material that I could want. I don't walk into HMV and feel the urgent desire to own more music. Shiny laptops hold no appeal. Shirts, jeans, video games, it's just like "m'eh".
I like to think this is a good thing!

Similarly, when I was in Ikea (after leaving the Metrocentre) the nice layouts that they had there, which normally really appeal, didn't. Why?
Because I'm about to move into a really, really nice flat.

I did find time to pick up a cupboard of sorts, well, eventually it may be a cupboard. For now it's just a big shelf thing. We're going to have an Xbox 360, a Wii and a PS2 alongside our media centre, we need shelving of some sort. Oh dear gods, I'm boring myself talking about furniture! Argh!

Counting down the days now until I move in on the 30th. I hope the rest of you are doing well.

Birthday cards, mainly.
Places like Hallmark and Clinton Cards..

Why do people buy half the utter trash sold on their shelves?
Do people honestly find the so-called humour section funny?
They like cards covered in designs so tasteless that they put traditional British cookery to shame?

I appreciate that most of us don't necessarily have the time or the skill to make our own cards however, with the virtual ubiquity of digital cameras the excuses barrel is becoming rather empty.
I also appreciate that these shops sell some cards that don't give me the sudden urge to stab in artist in the face with a jagged shard of glass.

That doesn't change the fact that whenever I'm given a card, or I see others given cards, the cards chosen are these insultingly unfunny, garish monstrosities. I mean, jesus, do you people just stand in the right section, close your eyes and lunge wildly at the card rack?

Perhaps it's another one of these little facets of British culture that I struggle to understand. Some things are quaint. Others are interesting.
This one is bollocks.

That is all.

Too much choice.

16 August 2007

I've been here for nearly a week now and I've only been to a single show.
Because there's so much to choose from, basically.
All these comedians that I've no idea if it's worth however much to see them. I've no strong feelings in either direction.
I don't know if Chris or Fraser have seen anything else, but I've not been with them if they have.

I don't even feel that upset about it. I guess, much like music, I can take it or leave it. I'm just not feeling that enthusiastic.

It doesn't really help that Chris has a job now (Fraser has had one for quite some time). Apparently Chris was planning a trip to Germany with his friend in September. I don't mind, but it would be nice to be vaguely informed of these sorts of things, especially when I'm trying to plan things too. "Oh, actually, no, we can't do that then.."

I'm thinking of just calling time on being up here and going back down to Northumberland tonight, rather than staying until tomorrow. Chris and Fraser aren't coming with me down, so I can go whenever.

On the plus side, I guess I should be glad that I don't have a hangover. The amount I drank in relation to how much I ate made for a scarily quick trip into intoxication. One that I wouldn't like to repeat any time soon.

Title aside, I'm in good spirits. Well, aside from being hungry.
Chris is away and Fraser's at work, so it's just me at the JKCC, catching up on some intarwebz stuff.

The last 48 hours have been rather, illustrious?

I'll disregard the minutia of yesterday morning as it was mostly just me trying to find an earlier train, wandering around Haltwhistle with my luggage and other boring stuff.
Let's just skip straight to arriving at the station, to be greeted by Chris at the ticket barrier at Haymarket.

We stopped off and picked up a record deck. Fifteen quid each, boosh. Excellent, I love vinyl. But I'd left my records down in Northumberland. We don't have a record deck, why not leave them until I move in?

I'm still trying to figure out what we did after that. I think we met up with Fraser and wandered around town a bit, as we are apt to do. It feels good to be back in the city. I love this city, it's my favourite in Britain. The glorious sunshine certainly helped!
We did take a moment to pick up a shirt at Route One. Fraser acquiring a rather apt "Quite Emo." shirt and myself finding a rather amusingly crass "I <3 Your Mum" shirt which I got changed into, more on that later..

It's worth noting that I'm not in my new flat properly yet because Chris' family is staying there. So when we went back to drop off a few things I had to zip up my leather jacket. Somehow I didn't want to introduce myself to his mother wearing that shirt..

The plan for the rest of the evening quickly became clear in our minds. A mandatory viewing of the Simpsons movie, as I'd not seen it yet. It's fairly shite, but you've sometimes just got to do these things.

By this juncture I was getting onto ravenous. Not a good thing if you're me. A pizza was in order and a bottle of red cola. Sadly we were unable to smuggle the pizza into Transformers. We had ten minutes until it started.
Do you know how quickly an extra large pizza lasts in the hands of three hungry students?

What we did manage to bring in was a few bottles of pear cider. Good stuff. Stompy robots, rock music and alcohol. Not bad.
Fraser wandered off to Opium after that, I think, but Chris and I were a bit tired out by that time. Not sure what he'd been up to, but I'd been running around all day and spent most of the morning lugging around my bags, so by midnight I was thinking sleep, rather than booze.

Let's cut to today, circa 1030, waking up.
Actually, no, a little later.
One shower and a fresh set of clothes later and I was ready to face the world. I didn't want to get baked again, so I wore light clothes and skater jeans. A rather stupid choice, it would turn out.

It pissed it down all day. Hell, it's probably still raining. I hope not though. Forecast fox tells me it's going to piss it down tomorrow too. Fan-bloody-tastic.

The plan was a simple one - Chris and Fraser had tickets to see Simon Amstell. I would have had a ticket, but by the time I'd decided to come up to Edinburgh, it'd sold out. No worries though, I'd come with them up to the venue and then wander off for an hour or so.

A quick honourable mention to Adam - cheers for the sandwich!

I wandered off and within a minute ran into a middle-aged lady who asked me, "Would you like a ticket to see Simon Amstell?", profferring a single ticket. I paid her a bit less than the ticket price, although it was probably worth considerably more than that, judging by how long it'd been sold out for.

Chris and Fraser were having some trouble finding the specific hall for the performance and we quickly met back up and hunted it down. It was totally packed and understandably so. Any comedy show featuring continual references to clown rape can't be bad.

Tsunamis, homosexuality & Judaism, philosophy of the self, boring photos (except the ones you appear in) and comedian rapists. Excellent.

Fraser wandered off to work leaving Chris and I to trek back across apparently infinite streets to the JKCC over at Merchiston. I swear it's never taken so long to walk here. Maybe it was the soggy jeans, well, drenched jeans. Maybe it was the laptop bag. It was bloody heavy going though.

Chris stayed with me until it was a suitable time for him to get going to his job interview. If he gets it we should be able to get cheaper booze. Woo! His commute will be excruciating though. Poor guy..
(The off-license is literally a minute from our door step. If that. You could run it in thirty seconds or less.)

That's it for the Fox Chronicles. For now at least.

Taste of Chaos, eh?

07 August 2007

Well, Fraser has asked me a couple of times before and I wasn't sure, but today I agreed to go with him.

I've no idea what I'm letting myself in for, but I imagine it'll be a good laugh regardless. I'm not sure if Chris is coming with us, I hope so, the more the merrier!

I'm currently trying to decide how much to have my hair trimmed by, whether to keep my beard and if and when I might get a small tattoo somewhere...

..or if I should go for some UV ink flames along my forearms..

I'm currently staying on a farm near Hadrian's wall, where my parents spend a couple of months every year for a change of scenery and some crow hawking.

Previously the phoneline had been bad, giving nothing more than slow dial-up. However, this year it's reached an all-time low. The connection drops every few minutes, the line quality is so poor that speaking on the phone is a real struggle, basically, it's shit.

Well, at least I'll be moving back to the 'burgh shortly. Get that connection sorted, Chris!
*waggles bottle of rum in front of him*