A gear change

For those interested in such matters, tomorrow will see me playing with a slightly different set up.

Still in will be the ever-faithful US Fender Telecaster:

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Staying in after a very successful first gig with it, the Digitech RP255:

But out will go the Peavey Classic 20 which I’ve used solidly for the past 9 years:

OK, so it’s 15 watts of sheer valve-powered goodness, but it didn’t sound great with the RP255, but – strangely enough – this did:

My Roland Cube 15 – a solid state preactice amp.

The RP255 sounds much better with this – I guess because the overall response of the Cube is very flat and it makes a good ‘blank canvas’ for the amp modelling in the RP255. The Peavey sounds great, but it does have a definite tone of its own, so it seems sensible not to layer on a Fender Blackface simulation, for example, over a Peavey Classic.

I’ve A’B’d both set ups again and I think I’ll use the Cube when Cock & Bull play Cambridge Folk Festival tomorrow afternoon.

A big plus is that the Cube is a lot lighter and a lot more robust with no valves to break or blow.

Cheap beer

I was in Tesco today buying some ginger root.

They had an offer – spend £30 in store and get a 15x440ml pack of Carlsberg  lager for a fiver.

OK, it looks like Jason Button’s piss after a few laps of Chartres Cathedral (some amazing cobbles around that pile) and tastes like it too, but that’s remarkably cheap.

It has to be the cheapest chav beer special so far…

Putting the twat back into politics

Far be it from me to come out in support of David ‘Bullingdon’ Cameron, but I thought this was actually rather amusing.

As for the BBC’s po-faced description of the word ‘twat’ as a 4 letter word…well, at least Call me Dave didn’t say ‘cunt’.

A right brewhaha

I like beer.

I like beer a lot.

I don’t know why but I just do.

I prefer the weaker brews, so, whether it’s an English-style bitter or a continental lager, about 3.5 to 4.5% ABV maximum usually does me, with 5% tops.

There’s a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I don’t like the taste of a great many strong beers and secondly, I enjoy the factor of quantity when drinking beer, so I’m after ‘session beer’ strength.

Anyway, I definitely won’t be buying any of this.

It’s an 18.2% stout that will be brewed as a limited run of 3000 bottles and will retail at £9.99.

BrewDog founder James Watt said: “Mass-market, industrially-brewed lagers are so bland and tasteless that you are seduced into drinking a lot of them.

“We’ve been challenging people to drink less alcohol, and educating the palates of drinkers with progressive craft-brewed beers which have an amazing depth of flavour, body and character.

“The beers we make at BrewDog, including Tokyo*, are providing a cure to binge beer-drinking.”

I think it’s a pity that Mr Watt opened his mouth to justify and defend brewing such a strong beer, because first of all, it’s bollocks to claim that it’s a cure for binge beer-drinking and secondly, why does he need to in the first place?

I suppose he was worried about comments like these from the usual guardians of public morality and safety:

…Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive Jack Law warned high alcohol percentage beer could cause as much damage as drinking to excess.

“This company is completely deluded if they think that an 18.2% abv, (alcohol by volume), beer will help solve Scotland’s alcohol problems,” he said.

“It is utterly irresponsible to bring out a beer which is so strong at a time when Scotland is facing unprecedented levels of alcohol-related health and social harm.

“Just one bottle of this beer contains six units of alcohol – twice the recommended daily limit.”

But that’s equally bollocks.

Binge drinkers are more likely to spend a tenner on a case of Stella or two 4-packs of Special Brew at Tesco, rather than a limited edition beer from a specialist outlet.

In fact, a bottle of Tokyo* would be the last thing a binge beer-drinker would buy with a tenner.

The clue’s in the fucking word ‘binge’, Mr Law.

Just leave us the fuck alone.

A burning issue

Thank fuck I didn’t take the government’s advice and paint my house white last month when it was issuing warnings about the heatwave we were all going to die from.

Luckily I made it through the week of sun we had, thanks to our wonderful health care professionals, and I’d like to think that I was a good citizen – I drank plenty of fluids, stayed out of the midday sun and closed all south-facing curtains during the day.

Now, however, it seems that June’s heatwave was just a blip and that it’s set to be cool and wet for the next month or so.

Of course, the Met Office is getting some shit about this volte face after predicting a summer-long heatwave.

The Met Office also says temperatures have been around or above normal, and that the end of August might be better again.

It did indeed stress at the time of the summer forecast in April that the odds of a scorching summer were 65%. It explains that it coined the phrase “barbecue summer” to help journalists’ headlines.

…rewind…

It explains that it coined the phrase “barbecue summer” to help journalists’ headlines.

WTF?

Since when has the Met Office been in the business of helping journalists coin headlines?

They seem quite capable of coming up with all manner of shit without any outside help and they’re paid very well to do it.

Tell you what, you meteorologist chappies, you stick to forecasting the weather and leave the hacks to write their own headlines, eh?

And talking of sun, sunbeds are back in the news again:

Previously, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessed sunbeds and sunlamps as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

But it now says their use is definitively “carcinogenic to humans”.

Campaigners believe the move, announced in the journal Lancet Oncology, will increase pressure for tighter industry regulation of sunbed use.

The new assessment puts sunbed use on a par with smoking or exposure to asbestos.

Now, no cancer is very much fun and my late mother-in-law suffered from skin cancer – but not fatally.

Her doctor said that it was probably caused by too much exposure to the sun when she was younger – she was a farmer’s daughter and spent many hours in the sun doing stuff that farmer’s daughters did in the years before sun lotion and sunscreens were invented.

Now, people still take risks with the sun but you’d have to be living in a fucking cave in the Scottish Highlands not to know that too much sun – like almost too much of anything – is bad for you and, if you go out in the sun for too long without protecting your skin, you might get sunburn and you might get skin cancer if you do this too often.

You could even die from it.

The same goes for sunbeds and sunlamps.

Moderation seems to be a good word to use here.

You know, that option of self-regulation people can exercise when they want to do something they enjoy or feel a need to do.

It’s an individual responsibility for your own welfare and possibly that of others around you and it’s often a good idea to know when enough is enough and when it’s time to desist from an activity that may have consequences.

Of course, people’s inability to moderate their own behaviour and face the consequences of their actions is all grist to the mill of those bodies which have fastened on to national governments and international authorities like leeches.

It would be far easier, far cheaper and far less repressive to warn people and then just let them get on with whichever activity they’re pursuing.

Of course, there’s always the danger that some people are going to ignore the warnings and carry on with possibly grave consequences, but that’s all part of exercising individual responsibilities and freedoms.

In short – give us the facts and then just leave us the fuck alone.

Iain Dale, Esther Rantzen, 15 sheep and Nadine Dorries’ vomit

You might need one of these later

As regular visitors to this blog will be aware, I am not a member of either the Esther Rantzen or the Iain Dale fan club.

However, I have softened towards she of the teeth since Iain Dale has featured her in two recent and consecutive bitchfests entries on his blog – here and here.

I don’t know what Esther’s done to Iain, but she’s not exactly his favourite person at the moment, whatever it was.*

Couple this together with a couple of missing sheep articles and you’re forced to the conclusion that maybe something really is loose in Iain’s top pasture this week.

Fair play to him though.

This line in his fawning fascinating Daley Dozen list of blogs had me sniggering in a gratuitously smutty way:

10. Nadine fingers Pat McFadden as the ultimate man in a grey suit.

Then, being unable to resist a quick click though to Iain’s chum Mad Nad’s little corner of Planet Blog, I discovered this gem.

It deserves quoting in its entirety:

How to make an MP vomit

I haven’t broken up yet and whilst working in Parliament yesterday, noticed lots of other MPs working too.

Today I have been to ‘Fusion’, a summer holiday activity scheme run by Ampthill Baptist Church and its amazing staff and volunteers.

I think it’s probably the best summer play scheme I have ever been to and I’ve run plenty myself in the past.

Can you imagine the wall of noise as you walk into a room where there are 115 children laughing?

The activities are fast and furious. One almost caught me out though. Following on from a huge wall mounted Wii session, the teams were invited to win an additional 5 points. To do this a team member had to suck custard through a sock, that so, so almost got me!!

Last year they bought 160 catering cans of baked beans for one activity!

They really are all crazy mad at ABC!

The dedication of the staff was something else, after the children had left the staff remain behind rehearsing, planning and a big group de-brief. No one in any particular hurry to get home.

I loved it. I loved the prayer at the end of the session too.

‘Let God’s light shine out of us and onto everyone we meet’.

Thanks Adrian. I’ve completely, totally failed in that one a number of times over the last year.

Well done to all at ABC, you all deserve a medal.

Just visited a poorly constituent and off to the Marston Vale centre next.

Don’t worry. I’m no martyr, my month break beckons with relish.

I don’t know about making an MP vomit, but I very nearly upchucked lunch’s bacon, Brie and rocket sandwiches when I read it…

I’d fisk the whole thing if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m fond of my stomach lining…but not that fond of it that I want to see it in front of me…

*I know there are people reading this who like a punt, so the odds on possible reasons for Iain’s antipathy towards Esther read as follows:

2-1 Esther makes more TV appearances than Iain

5-1 Esther has more hair than Iain

10-1 – It’s too much of an effort writing yet another sycophantic tribute to some troughing MP chum who’s just decided to stand down at the next election

Atheismus macht frei

Richard Dawkins – sucking a Werther’s Original – or something…*

I only caught the tail-end of a news story about this on the radio this morning but the excellent Spaghetti Factory blog filled in the gaps for me (and also raised some interesting pointers on how to really fuck up a child’s summer holiday).

I mean…what the fucking fuckity fuck?a summer camp for the children of atheists?

But not just atheists.

(Yes, Mr and Mrs Antireligionist there is somewhere you can shuffle your children off to whilst you shag each other’s tits off in an overpriced hotel on Cos before you go down with a nasty dose of the shits.)

Camp Quest, founded in 1996, is the first residential summer camp in Europe, United States and Canada specifically for irreligious children or the children of nontheistic parents (including atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, skeptics, (nontheistic) rationalists, freethinkers, brights, antireligionists, and others who hold a naturalistic worldview).

I didn’t know there were so many ways to not believe in something…

Now, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I have no time for religion in any form and its attendant bullshit regarding evolution and other hijackings of scientific thought.

However, I have an equal lack of patience with this new rise of organized non-faiths – atheism and secularism.

I see this strange new phenomenon as a reaction to religious communality.

Now, whilst there might be threats from organized religion – some subtle like the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control and some not, like Muslim Fundamentalists blowing your shit up – it seems to me that as religion is a matter of choice, then you either believe in a particular deity – in which case you join a religion – or you don’t believe in a deity – in which case you don’t.

End of.

As an atheist you are a free-thinker, unbound by the shackles of faith and instead guided by your own moral tenets and principles and there must be as many individual atheist creeds as there are atheists.

But as soon as you start to band together to cement your non-faith with others then there’s a danger that you lose that freedom and instead you end up following a non-faith with all the blinkeredness of a religious adherent.

It’s not just moronic, it’s oxymoronic or, as I tweeted to Mr Spaghetti Factory this morning:

Organized atheism – right up there with compassionate fascism and low fat lard…

It’ll never catch on…too much fucking effort…

Besides, do you really want your kid sharing a tent with a Tamsin or a Gregory?

No?

Thought not…

*Dicky’s up there because he supports Camp Quest.

Who the fuck does he think he is?

JK Rowling?