Saturday, 3 October 2009

Part of the Network

Welcome to my first blog post in a Blue Moon.

I've had a few things going on in my life since my last posting; some good, some bad. Much of this would provide good material for a blog, but there are some things that I prefer to keep personal - which brings me nicely onto the paradox that is Social Networking.

For me, Social Networking is all about connecting with people, so in some respects it's a bit hypocritical of me to open up on some issues and keep schtum on others. That's the beauty though of Social Networking - you can be as open or as closed as you want to be. You could dip your toes in the shallow water or dive in at the deep end. Me, I prefer doggy paddling in waist high water (perhaps with a pair of water wings).

There are some people I follow on twitter/read blogs of, who are refreshingly candid. I love this, and wish I could have the bollocks to be as frank, as it makes for entertaining reading. I try to be honest though on the topics I do blog / tweet about.

Part of the reason for starting this blog was so that I could air my views anonymously online, though this has been diluted since a lot of my friends now read this blog, and also since *someone* leaked it to my workmates last year! And yes - I do recognise the irony trying to hide behind your PC in such a public forum like the Internet. I've toyed with the idea of starting a new totally anonymous blog elsewhere, much like Manuel The Waiter's - but I fear the insights into the life of a 30-something singleton toy production planner living in West London just might be too much too soon for the interweb. When I was young I had aspirations to be a journalist - sites like blogger have at least opened up the net to wannabe journos & writers who would have otherwise remained unheard.
Anyway, for the benefit of my regular readers, yes, all two of you, I'll try to persevere with this blog a bit more from now on. Look out for more regular updates!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

You Mugging Me Off?

Up until the middle of the nineteenth century, mounted robbers in masks used to rob wealthy people travelling in stage coaches on the highways of Great Britain.

These days ticketing agencies do the job just as well, but they hide behind legal jargon and T's & C's.

I've recently been royally ripped off by Ticketmaster. Not once, but twice.

I bought tickets for myself & workmates for the recent England vs. Italy 6 Nations rugby at Twickenham. I've been desperate to see an England rugby game, and was pleased to hook into the public sale. I booked the tickets and went to the confirmation page of the sale. The face value of the tickets was £60 a hit. I was charged £3.25 postage, and, as I breezed through the confirmation process, I clicked OK for the £4 "service charge". £4 per transaction I thought was quite reasonable, but to be fair, I was half asleep at the time.

STAND AND DELIVER! £4 per f*cking ticket = £28. What a rip off! I rang to query why the fees were so high, and spoke with a lady who politely explained that their fees were charged as a % of the ticket price. So the higher the price of the ticket -> the higher the fee charged by Ticketmaster.

Why this is, I don't know. Whether you buy a £120 corporate package, or the £35 cheap seats, it's still the same monkey at Ticketmaster processing your order. And the fact you're charged for one ticket or 7 tickets is irrelevant; you get charged per ticket not per transaction, which is fundamentally wrong, and a rip off. When I got the tickets through in the post all 7 tickets were joined together in a perforated strip, so it was just as easy for a Ticketmaster monkey to put 1 ticket into an envelope as it would do for them to put 7 in.

The helpful lady also pointed out that I had the choice to decline the transaction before clicking the button marked "yes please mug me off". What choice though - (a) pay Ticketmaster's exorbitant fee .... or (b) pay a tout outside the ground much more?

It doesn't end there. Last week I booked tickets (face value £65) to see U2 at their forthcoming Wembley gig. I can't wait to see them play live for the 4th time in my life. I've been lucky to see them twice at the "old" Wembley, and once at their 2001 Homecoming gig at Slane Castle. For this privilege, Ticketmaster charged me £7.50 per ticket. Plus a one-off £3.25 delivery charge. YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE.

It's money for old rope. Someone in a position of authority needs to look into this practice of ripping off sports & music fans. Monopoly at it's worst.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Waxing Lyrical

I was looking for the meaning of a song and stumbled across this great little website.

It does exactly what it says on the tin - it has the lyrics of nearly half a million songs, by tens of thousands of different artists, and basically allows Joe Public to post comments about the songs.

I absolutely love music, but it's strange how often I'll hear the music but not listen to the words. A reminder to slow down and enjoy the ride.

A lot of songs are open to interpretation by the listener - a quick random scan of the website shows many differences of opinions over the meanings of certain songs. But hey, isn't that the beauty of the English (and other) language(s), and of music in general?

I've added this site to my favourites, it makes for a great wasted afternoon.

By the way, I was looking for an explanation of La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) by Manic Street Preachers. I never really paused to think about this song's meaning, but it's become a little clearer now.

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Blues Are Still Blue

I've not been myself recently. Don't worry, I'm not gonna lay my soul bare on this blog, well not too much. But today in particular I had a dose of the February Blues.

Statistically, today was the day of the year on which most people "throw a sickie" at work. Ignoring the bloody awful weather we had today, the weather is generally shit this time of year anyway, the Christmas party season is a distant memory, every one's still skint, the days are still short, New Year's Resolutions have generally run out of steam, no imminent bank holidays to look forward to, credit crunch, need I go on?

Before you all start running a hot bath & open a packet of razor blades & crack open a bottle of strong vodka, I should point out that my New Year's Resolution this year was to Think More Positively. With this in mind I have dedicated this post to 20 Reasons To Be Cheerful (with apologies to the late Ian Dury, 1,2,3):

  1. The Ashes are round the corner. OK, England might not be in the best shape they've ever been in what with the Kevin Pietersen/Peter Moores shenanigans, but the Aussies are a team in transition, and the atmosphere will be electric.

  2. It looks like Kris Marshall is about to get back together with his MILF in the latest BT advert.

  3. England are on track to qualify for the World Cup. At last, a manager who is getting the best out of a mediocre bunch of overpaid, egotistical professional footballers. Keep up the good work, Fabio.

  4. Tabasco Sauce. It adds a kick to my Spag Bol.

  5. Life's Too Short. It really is. Go travelling. Learn to play guitar. Leave your job. Ask her out. Relocate. Quite apt that today is also Groundhog Day.

  6. The new Cadburys advert with the kids with the twitching eyebrows. Well, it makes me laugh.

  7. Six Nations. Yep, a poor substitute for football, and it's essentially a load of posh blokes chasing an egg. But the older I get the more I'm getting into it. And you can watch the game with a pint in your hand. And a good chance to beat the Scots/Welsh/French/Italians/Irish at something (tho not very likely with our current crop of players).

  8. However old or young you are, there's still a real thrill when building a snowman with fresh snow.

  9. QPR are on the up. Rich owners, building up the team slowly but progressively, bright young manager, even an outside chance of the playoffs & a trip to Wembley this season.

  10. Elisabetta Gregoraci.

  11. Solstice. The days are getting longer and summer's approaching. Yay!

  12. There's still loads & loads of good people on this planet.

  13. Twitter. The new facebook?

  14. Bon Iver. There's always good new music.

  15. Oasis - at long overdue last, I'm finally getting to see these dudes play live this year.

  16. Gavin & Stacey - feel-good and funny.

  17. New series of The Apprentice.

  18. A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it.

  19. Akos Buzsaky.

  20. If all else fails, just select Nina Simone Feeling Good on your ipod.