Why are we told to 'keep to the straight and narrow'?

In a recent b'berry message I sent to a friend of mine, who is in love with the wrong man (aren't we all?), I said: "Quote to help keep you on the straight and narrow. 'Fall in love with someone who deserves your heart, not someone who plays with it'." All very good advice, but having recently acquired the attention span of a flea, I was distracted from my unfortunate friends plight by the phrase, 'the straight and narrow'.....

We all know what is means: don't do anything naughty; do the right thing etc. So I can sort of see where the 'straight' bit came from, but narrow? Possibly because, it's easy to yield to temptation and thus the area available to do the right thing in, is narrow? Rather than speculate for hours, I did the only sensible thing, I googled it.


Thoughts on Adele & Wretch 32 (Or: 'More random nonsense from facebook')

NA : Adele really is amazing - This song is a classic.

GB: I'm sort of dimly aware of Adele, and compared to the majority of the karaoke quality singers you see on TV she can at least hold a tune. But number 1 in 17 countries so that annoying twat off G&S tells us, so what do I know?File me under 'Grumpy old man, but still thinks he's down with the kids' :)

NA: lol!!! You are genuinely insane!!!! Seriously, I know I'm not 'down with the kids' in fact, the majority of the time, I find the kids to be ridiculous... Adele however, is excellent - Listen to some of her stuff, that young lady will be around for a while.

Is facebook really such a good thing?

GB: Is really. Really. Tired. And fat.

BR: And bald
GB: Thanks. And bald.
BR: But look on the bright side......hmmm maybe.not
CH: You forgot flatulent too.

NA: Are these people your friends?!
JS: is this as a result of work or play?
Kko: The Yank says: "shuddup! You may be tired but you are fun, witty and intelligent and therefore hot!" In my humble opinion at least....

KLJ: yep a man with a penis the size of yours has no right to bitch

AN: Put on your drag and you'll feel much better. Anyway, fat is good for the winter!

KLJ: You are even too tired to defend the penis comment - come on!
NA: (OK, they're definitely not your friends...!)
KLJ: haaahahha

GB:Yeah N (sic). These are my friends. But thanks KKo for your flattering comment. And thanks too KLJ for managing any future partners' expectations. :)

NA: "('N', I don't use the porn spelling in front of my friends....)   

GB: Just in front of clients? :)
NA:  Porn, does Porn have client? I thought it had viewers?


Didn't make this up either.....

GBs: F#ck Movember. I'm looking forward to Fanuary!

AN: Excellent - an excuse not to shave for a month....

NB: You appear to have a head-start AN...

AN: The things you let people do when you've had a few ciders.... :-)

DEW: I  actually thought you had finally lost the plot GB when I saw your  stauts, then I saw a poster in the Morpeth Arms pub near Tate Britain  today and realized it is an actual movement to make men grow mustaches,  how strange... so what are you planning for Fanuary???

DEW: ps..in the cold light of day I realize that I misspelt moustache! Oh and status.

GB: Dana. I think I need to pop around and demonstrate what comes off in Fanuary :)


I didn't have to make any of this up...

At least one of these people is a friend of mine. I'm a teeny bit scared...

GB: Happy New Year to one and all. At this time of year, something comes to mind that my old music teacher used to say to me: "G; You can put your pants back on now. Here's ten bob."

NA:It's official, you're insane...!

AN: And my old Emglish teacher used to say "You're all shits!" I think he was quoting Shakespeare...............

GB: Well I was mad at the time NA!

AW: Hi G, your old music teacher here. Can I come round and give you a lesson!!

NA: Lol!

AM: Ten bob??? You always charged me 17/6d!

GB: ‎#AM I charged you more because I dressed as the front end of a pantomime horse. It's what you wanted. You can take the boy out of Gloucester....

AO: Hi GB, Happy New Year! They say "old habbits die hard".. wishing you a decent and healthy year!!

AM: This one's a Bad Hobbitt.............Frodos

SB: GB, glad to see you starting the New Year as you mean to go on, I hope.

GB: Hi SB. My new year's resolution was to adopt a more adult persona. To start putting the important things in life first. To start to make a difference. Then I saw an opportunity for a knob gag and thought: "Fuck it". xx


The origins of the phrase "Mexican Stand off"?

I knew it means 'stalemate' i.e. you've reached a point where no one can win. Why "Mexican" though? For that matter why "stand off"? How did anyone ever find out incorrect facts about anything before the internet? Too much time on my hands again, or to be precise, wide awake at 2am, so I decided to google it….

Wikipedia agreed with the above and also added “In popular culture, the Mexican standoff is usually portrayed as two or more opponents with guns drawn and ready, creating a tense situation.” No real explanation as to the Mexican thing though.

So, much trawling through the internet has led me to the disappointing conclusion that no one really knows what the origin of this expression is. It is likely to have started in the southern US in the late 1800s when all things Mexican were deemed inferior. It would have originally referred to gunfights where no actual bullets were fired and thus were inferior to a ‘real’ gunfight. (I personally like the sound of the Mexican one…) There is also a theory coming out if left field that says it may have originated in 19th century Australia and related to perceived political indecision in Mexico.

Whatever the origin, Mexicans aren’t keen on it and given the whole 'Top Gear' debarcle recently, I think I'll steer clear of using it...


My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - Disappointing Finale...

Bridget and her bridesmaids
I thought this week was supposed to be about Romany Gypsies??? Potentially it was, but the title 'Bride and Predjudice' should have alerted me to the fact that Romany culture wouldn't be the main focus. Once again, the outlandish weddings and not the actual culture, was the focus of the episode. 

So, basically, more ridiculous Disney/hooker inspired dresses, 4 ton wedding cakes and explanations of why wedding venues had to be kept secret for fear of cancellations. Side note: I struggled to feel sorry for Thelma, who lost the cost of a flight when one family lied to her about the real date of their wedding. Despite her persistent refusal to disclose it, you get the feeling that cost of one of those dresses could cover the national debt of a small South American country. Cut to Bridget and what had to be the pièce de résistance of all of the garments we've seen to date i.e. the worst bridesmaid dresses of the series...Bridget's, brother's comment on her outfit for her hen do, succinctly described pretty much every dress we've seen so far: "Your making a holy show of yourself." Indeed...


Reggae Britannia - "I've been wanting you for, so long it's a shame"

Didn't get to bed until the wee hours of the morning hence the lateness of this blog. I was busy clearing up the broken glass, post my attempts to hit Janet Kay's famous high note in 'Silly Games', during BBC4's documentary on Reggae Britannia. (Available on BBC iPlayer if you missed it).

90 minutes of listening and viewing pleasure, intertwined with snippets of some of the most amazing music, the documentary charted Reggae's influence on British music and youth culture and to and extent politics, from the 60's to the 80's. For me, it also charted the soundtrack to my parents and my youth. Featuring the likes of: Aswad; Steel Pulse; Big Youth (time for a name change Manley Augustus Buchanan "Big Youth" at 75 is just silly...); the Specials; UB40; Bob Marley (of course), the list goes on - I had been looking forward to it from the moment I heard it was going to be on. I was not to be disappointed.


American Idol - Still love it!

So, definitely don't miss Cowell. Hate, hate, hate all the pre audition the sob stories (is it just me, or have they quadrupled this season?? Friends an family will attest, this sort of thing doesn't tug at my heart strings, it does "p" me off big time though...) That said, as usual with American Idol, the talent abounds. My favourite so far, not the best singer of the bunch (but obviously still brilliant) but quirky. That voice AND tats!!! Emily Anne Reed check her out.  


My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - Wasn't AS bad as I expected...

So we had the usual gaudy dresses and over the top weddings, one involved: a helicopter; releasing doves; a venue frequented by footballers and celebs – then presumably, home to a caravan. Bizarre...

That wasn't the point of tonight episode though (thank God, how many more of those dresses do we have to sit through???), it was all about the Gypsy man and the role he plays in his family/community. To the strains of 'This is a man's world" the voice over told us that whilst Gypsy women many take centre stage on their wedding day “for the other 364 days of the year, who rules the roost?” Basically, it's the men and I was expecting to be extremely annoyed...

We were told that status very important for traveling man. Paddy, a respected member of the community, gets a new car twice a year to underlie that. Paddy runs trailer park in Salford, but, as the voice over pointed out, "earns his money by other means." Other means include buying and selling second hand cars and living off of the income of his past bare knuckle fighting career.  Sounds extremely lucrative, where do I sign up? As someone on twitter pointed out "2 brand new cars a year and £4,000 dining tables, and all you do is lay Tarmac and do up 2nd hand cars? I call BULLSHIT paddy." If I'm honest, I am struggling to disagree with that sentiment....

The delineation between men and womens' roles are very, very clear. The woman stays at home and cooks and cleans, ("A traveler won't allow his woife to work" said Paddy, "it would be embarrasin' for 'im") the men earn the money and do whatever else they like basically.  What they 'like' definitely doesn't include shopping. Cut to Paddy: "Very rarely do yuh see a traveling man goin' shopping with his woife...it's not our role is it?’  (Paddy, clearly a bit soppier than he'd have us believe, was actually out shopping when he made that statement). They don't like pushing prams either, as Paddy explained "Men don’t push babies around its just an embarrassment, you’d look like a joke..."


"The Killing" - Are you watching it yet? If not why not?

Days 5 & 6, (and hence episodes 5 & 6), of the investigation last night and ‘The Killing’ is no less brilliant than the first couple of episodes implied.

Last night had suspicion thrown at Lisa, (Nanna, the murder victim's best friend), only for that to be cleared up 'relatively' innocently. I’m not writing her off though, no one on this series is innocent until proven guilty! We saw evidence to indicate that Nanna had a secret assignation planned on the night of the murder, possibly with an older married man. The spotlight has now fallen onto Nanna's Danish teacher, Rama, who I’ve had my eye on from the start…If he does turn out to be the murderer, he may have provided evidence that helps to incriminate him. 

My favourite joke of all time - Excerpts from a Dog & Cat's diary

The Dog's Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


The Cat's Diary

Day 983 of my captivity - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Imbeciles...

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now....

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Now just imagine what you could achieve with 'Red Wine'....


Stop Press!!!!! Freddie Flintoff vs The World - not desperately impressive...

Missed the beginning, but tonight Freddie was in Arizona with Iwan Thomas, (British 400m record holder - still don’t recognise him…). Their extreme sports this week were: Taking part in a demolition derby  - so basically, driving an old banger. Erm, I did that from the ages of 17 – 25; Rock climbing – Wales, 6th form Biology field trip and; kayaking off of a 20ft waterfall – holiday in the West Indies (not a 20ft waterfall, but deep and without helmets and safety gear). Oh and Freddie and Iwan have a budding bromance.

In summary, not desperately impressive. I think Freddie won (wasn’t really taking a great deal of notice…), but that was probably because Iwan was a bit of a wuss (example, “shaking like a dog taking a sh@t” - his words – when about to abseil down a mountainside)… Freddie did manage to look cute throughout, but sadly, I’m not as shallow as I thought. Freddie’s good looks are just not enough to hold my interest. Hopefully next week will be better, he’s in Texas, with Kyran Bracken (I know who he is, much better start…) where Freddie tackles an extremely irritating hang nail and they go line dancing. OK, I made the hang nail bit up, but they genuinely do go line dancing. It may well be the last episode I watch….


My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - I didn’t approach it with an open mind, glad I didn’t bother..

OK, this week’s episode focussed on the lot of the traveller woman and frankly, it left me decidedly unimpressed… It’s not a gross over simplification to say that nothing in traveller culture has changed in relation to the perception/position of women since the 17th century. In summary, girls are not educated, their sole aim is to marry and as a general rule stick that marriage out, irrespective of whether it’s a good one or not.

One of the girls that were the focus of tonight’s episode was Lizzie, who at 18 was considered to be an old maid in the marriage stakes. (Not least because her 16 year old sister was already married.) Despite the fact that her sister, did not recommend marriage on the grounds that 16 is too young, Lizzie professed to be ready for it. In fact, she looked positively excited about the whole thing. “I’m not recommending it,” said her sister, ‘because when you’re 16 you’re still a ‘babby’. ‘Oim’ still a ‘babby.” Given Lizzie’s history, she left school at 11 to take on responsibility for her younger siblings and the housework, I shouldn’t have been surprised. However, I still found it shocking that in 21st Century UK we still have people that can barely read and have no understanding of the options open to them outside of their immediate community. As Lizzie put it, “there’s no point because we ain’t gonna be doctors or lawyers. Housewives is what we’re gonna be”. Cut to her 13 year old sister Margaret who was removed from school to take over Lizzie’s duties and was obviously terrified at the prospect of endless hours of drudgery in the form of child minding and cleaning.

The most disturbing aspect of this is not just poor Margaret’s plight, but the fact that many girls are removed from school early for similar reasons, but also to ‘prevent them from being corrupted by outside influences’. I keep coming back to the fact that such practices are illegal and yet no one is attempting to prevent it. How can the powers that be justify that, whilst berating parents who take the children out of school for a foreign holiday during term time to take advantage of reduced costs???? Thelma, the dressmaker made a good point in that the travellers do move around a lot, so its difficult to keep track of them/investigate excuses they give for removing children from school. I’m not convinced, I suspect the authorities could find a way to protect these children if they were of a mind to.

We were also introduced to 16 year old Noreen – a cake shop assistant - who wanted more for herself than a life beholden to a husband. She stayed in education and the contrast between her and her compatriots was palpable on a paint balling day, when she was the only one of her party that was able to complete the requisite consent forms. Despite her education, she still seemed to buy into some of the stereotypical male/female rules of interaction that apply to travellers. “If a girl asks a boy out, it’s disgraceful,” she said with feeling. She also indicated that a traveller woman’s wedding day is the biggest day of her life and thus she attempts to and often succeeds in, living out her fantasies on that day. Given that life post the wedding for over 50% of traveller woman includes domestic violence, I think I am beginning to understand (if not subscribe to) the pantomime that is a traveller wedding – It’s a girls’ first and last chance to be the centre of attention. “They are Cinderella for a day” said Thelma, “The only thing is, they don’t carry on being Cinderella…”

We also met divorced traveller woman Bridget. Bridget’s situation is extremely unusual in the traveller community where, as I mentioned earlier, woman tend to accept what is thrown at them (sometimes literally) and stick with their marriages. Now that I understand that divorce, as well as being frowned upon by the community, also leaves women with no means of supporting themselves/their children, I see why their hands are, to an extent, tied. A thoroughly depressing state of affairs, Emily Pankhurst must be turning in her grave…  

Bridget appears to have done a fantastic job of bringing up her children alone. Which is just as well as, even though she was divorced, she had no prospects of remarriage due to the communities views on such things. Clearly very proud of her eldest daughter, who she is extremely close to, she indicated that she wanted stability for her given the lack of a father figure as the children were growing up. Stability, apparently, comes in the form of the 17 year old boy her daughter was marrying. I despair...

We were treated to snip-its of the life of 16 year old Martin to provide a point of comparison. Martin had ‘left home’, only as far as a caravan parked outside of his parent’s house. The location of the caravan (which of course he never clean or cooks in, that’s down to his Mum and sister…) was less important than the fact that he basically has free reign to do as he pleases. That included the Appleby horse fair, a traditional hunting ground for travellers looking for a partner. Martin and his mates spent the weekend ogling and ‘grabbing’ a succession scantily clad girls: “Girls won’t give you a kiss straight away.” He said; “You got to bend its arm” literally…Collecting 2 or 3 numbers and a subjecting a young girl each to a grab was seen to be ‘good enough’ for a weekend in Appleby. The boys conceded that girls might not enjoy a grab, but that really wasn’t relevant.

Towards the end of the episode, the narrator asked whether we were right to assume that the Gypsy way of doing things was really incorrect. My answer to that is “absolutely” and I feel certain that next week’s episode, which focuses on what it’s like to be a traveller man, won’t change my view…

I love the Onion News Network!