Fat Fakir

Heart of Gold. Nerves of Steel. Knob of Butter.


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November 2003
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A Past Gone Mad
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Tuesday 30th September


Good News!

Or bad news depending on your point of view. The Poetry Challenge is over. Not an unqualified success I have to admit - the intention was to update every day and I certainly didn't manage that. On the other hand, I produced a new piece just about every day and over the course of the month have written more stuff than I have in the last three or four years. How much of it survives any length of time is open to debate, but there are a few pieces that I'll rework and tidy up, and possibly develop. And there are one or two pieces I can live happily without ever seeing again. Anyway, I enjoyed it, even if you lot didn't, and to celebrate you get two poems for the price of one.

Go on, stick your oar in:

Monday 29th September


A bit more than post-hangover fallout

Well, I can only apologise for the lack of an update for the last week or so, but I've been suffering from some sort of "delightful" gastric complaint. I have been like unto the camel - passing through the eye of a needle. But that's probably more information than you really wanted. I've also been completely knackered, so unable to drum up the necessary enthusiasm for updates post-Friday's Poetry Challenge piece. Anyway, I'm feeling almost fit again now, so on with the show.

Good news for stiletto-wearers everywhere, and not just the ladies. As reported here, and elsewhere, the latest research shows that the wearing of high heels can actually provide some protection against the development of osteoarthritis in the knees. As usual, being overweight is actually the bigest contributory factor in the development of osteoarthritis in the knees. So I'll still have to lose a few pounds before I can wear those thigh-boots again....

Just when you thought it was safe to let AutoUpdate handle all your browser security concerns, comes news that MS's last patch for Explorer didn't work properly. Fortunately, I've already disabled ActiveX in my browser, or more correctly set the browser to prompt before running any ActiveX controls, and then I only allow them to run on a couple of trusted sites. Of course, as the article points out, the irony is that you need to ActiveX controls enabled to access the Microsoft Update site and, in my experience, make any use of Microsoft's site at all.

Currently on the stereo - Natural History by I Am Kloot and the Pixies' Doolittle, both of which have been out for ages but I never got round to buying on CD (I have Doolittle on tape). To be honest, they make a much needed change from the free CD's from the Sunday papers. Actually, I don't mind the classical music compilations as they make good background music, but the contemporary stuff is pretty much terrible. The worst offender is, I think, the Daily Express's "Essential 70's Collection" - a 4 CD set with each CD comprising 8 70's tracks that you vaguely remember and 12 (count 'em, 12!) "new 70s-style" tracks from Tight Fit Records, which all sound the same and probably made by the same two blokes under a variety of pseudonyms. Anyway, that's getting off the point a bit. The I am Kloot album is very good and I've been meaning to buy it since my brother played it to me at Christmas, and as it was in the sale at HMV, I finally did. (I might have to venture to Fopp! in Sheffield to see if I can get their new one for somewhat less than HMV are charging for it.) They (Kloot, that is) are poppy and in a similar vein to The Coral, although without the organ and the sea shanties, and some of it is very reminiscent of "Spike"-era Elvis Costello - you know, when he turned pop and collaborated with Paul McCartney. If you don't know about the Pixies by now, you never will. Must say that I'm both excited and worried about talk of a Pixies reunion. Excited because it means I might get to see them play live and worried because they might be rubbish.

I've still not scanned those family photos yet, by the way. I might get round to it later in the week. Once I've done the important stuff, like looking for a job, finishing off the Poetry Challenge, that sort of thing.

Go on, stick your oar in:

Tuesday 23rd September


Last night I dreamed I was dreaming of you

Did I say Monday. Er, I meant Tuesday. Actually, I meant Monday, but somehow managed to not find the time to do the update before Kev arrived. So onwards with this somewhat belated bit of bloggery....

Well, "somewhat unexpectedly" my brother Mark and his partner Kate called in to see me on Saturday morning. They were on their way back home from Leeds and it was actually a coincidence that they were in the area at the same time that the parents weren't around. Anyway, at Kate's prompting, I dragged out the family photographs and we had a jolly old time perusing those. We even found one or two that I'll be scanning and putting up here for general hilarity.

On Saturday evening I took myself off to rainy Mexborough to see No Names Mentioned and Disarm at the Boy And Barrel public house. When I got there the place was rammed, which is always a good sign. Even if the average age of the crowd did, in the landlady's words, "make the place look like a youth club". I note though, that she was perfectly happy to sell most of them beer. So happy in fact that they ran out of lager towards the end of the night. Anyway, despite my somewhat delayed arrival (more of which later) I hadn't missed anything as there'd been a problem with the PA, so neither band had yet played. Once things were sorted out, and the pub jukebox turned off, No Names Mentioned gave us a blistering set of good old-fashioned thrash metal. Loud, fast, heavy. Very enjoyable indeed. As you know, I've had a bit of trouble describing Disarm, mainly because I'm not that hot on the various metal genres, but on the basis of the set they played on Saturday, I'd be prepared to say that they're very good. A solid set of tunes and a well-balanced set was made all the better for being cranked up in front of an enthusiastic set of fans. Very impressive. And very enjoyable - probably the best live gig I've been to this year. Mind you, I haven't been to that many. Anyway, they get the big "FatFakir Thumbs Up." Certainly deserving of a wider audience.

Now, as some of you may know, I don't usually have much luck with public transport. Perhaps I ought to learn to drive, but then I'd have to decide between drinking and driving, and I'd drive and then decide to have a drink and end up losing my licence for drink-driving. So why go there? Anyway, I don't have a lot of luck with buses, especially. On Saturday night I left my house in the pouring rain to catch the bus to Mexborough, and the scheduled one didn't turn up. I thought it might have been running a bit late, so I hung around, besides the next one was due in twenty minutes or so. The next one didn't show up either. A bus did finally turn up once I'd been waiting an hour and was on the verge of giving up and going back home to call a taxi. So, instead of arriving in Mexborough at quarter past eight, I got there about quarter past nine. Still, no harm done fortunately as the bands hadn't played. Post-gig, I realised that I'd missed the last bus. Still, I thought I had time to get the last train. Nope, I'd missed that too. I briefly contemplated sleeping on the station but decided to try my luck getting a cab instead. Could I get one? Could I feck! So I walked home, three sheets to the wind, and huffing and puffing all the way. It only took me about an hour and a half - it's about five miles or so, with some nice hills, especially at the Conisbrough end. I feared that my legs and back would be giving me grief on Sunday, but if they were, they were being drowned out by the grief I was getting from my head, and stomach. My foot is a bit sore, but otherwise I've had no adverse reaction to my long trek.

So having spent Sunday recovering, I had to spend Monday tidying up, as my old mate Kev came over to see me for the evening. His Uncle Malc used to own a DIY-cum-gardening shop on the Doncaster Road, just outside Mexborough, so we had a trip out to see what had become of it. It's no longer a shop, but has been converted into a house, or possibly two flats. On the way back we stopped off for a quick pint in The Pastures, but sadly, local celebrity Paul Shane wasn't there. So it was back to mine for some more beers. I cooked dinner, rather slowly it must be said, and then we went out to my local, The Alma, for more beers and, in Kev's case, a few Southern Comforts. Then back home to talk shite and drink more beers. Same sort of thing we used to do when we were students, really. Only this time, I didn't set the house on fire....

Sadly, it turns out that although Super Dario is pretty super, he still needs a bit of maintenance every now and again. I refer, of course, to the long-serving Crewe manager Dario Gradi who has, according to this news story, had a heart valve replacement operation. It was apparently a scheduled operation, although for obvious reasons, no one outside the club was informed beforehand. Things seem to have gone well and I wish the great man a speedy and successful recovery and the best of health for the future.

Finally, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you should never pick your friend's nose.

Go on, stick your oar in:

Sunday 21st September


Another bloody hangover

Feeling a bit delicate today, so have merely updated the Poetry Challenge page. Will be giving a full update tomorrow, including a review of Saturday night's gig. Ooh, my poorly head/stomach/arse. I'm off back to bed.

Friday 19th September


Alone Again Or

Wahey! The old folks have gone off on holiday leaving me home alone for a while! So it's off to the chippy for lunch every day and the offy for tea. No tidying up, no getting dressed, no need to bother even getting out of bed, no doing the washing up. In fact, no nothing if I don't feel like it. Except, of course, I've got visitors a-coming, so I've got to tidy up, get dressed, etc, etc. It's a tough life...

True to form my parents managed to completely faff about before setting off on their holiday. Their intended mid-morning departure turned into a mid-to-late afternoon departure. I'd decided to not go to Job Club until they'd set off - I foolishly imagined that they'd be gone by lunchtime and I could then get a peaceful afternoon concentrating on looking for a job. Anyway, by 1pm, they were no closer to departing, so I left them to it and headed out. Turns out that they didn't leave till about 3.30pm. Which meant they didn't reach their Devon destination till about 9pm. So that was the first day of their holiday wasted. Still they'll be a way for a while now, so I don't have to worry about them one iota.

As part of my temporary footloose and fancy-free lifestyle, I'll be popping out tomorrow night to take in the melodic rock stylings of Disarm at the Boy & Barrel pub in Mexborough. They'll be supported by No Names Mentioned and a "Special Mystery Guest". I'm looking forward to it and you can all look forward to the review here, whether you like it or not.

Erm, if you reverse backwards in your car, does that mean you're actually going forwards?

Go on, stick your oar in:

Tuesday 16th September


Broadcasting a joyful noise

Forgot to mention yesterday (and how could I forget this?) that I went to see Crewe Alexandra in action on Saturday evening. They took on the not-so-mighty Rotherham at their Millmoor ground. A ground where Crewe have not been defeated since 1969. Needless to say, that sequence remains unbroken, despite the fact that I bumped into my old friend Monique. It was very nice to see her and see how much her kids have grown. It was also nice to see her Mum and Dad, albeit only briefly. It's been a couple of years since we last met and even longer since we've both been at an Alex away game where they've won. Anyway, despite this potentially disastrous conjunction, Crewe were mostly the better side and deservedly won through a Dean Ashton penalty and Richard Walker toe-poke. The ref had a dreadful game however and we were all surprised that he awarded the penalty given the amount of shirt-pulling and pushing he was prepared to overlook elsewhere on the park. Still, it was a win. I have some fairly unpleasant memories of visiting Millmoor from back in the late 80s/early 90s, and as far as I could tell the only thing that has changed in the last 15 years or so is the cost of getting in. That and the fact that the pub on the corner of the roundabout is now a lapdancing club. Anyway, it cost an unlikely sixteen quid to get in, which I thought was taking the proverbial, but then I used to think a fiver was far too much to pay. I am planning to go to see Crewe at Sheffeld United on 11th October, but as that's the same day as the final round of qualifying matches for the European Championship (including, of course, England vs Turkey) I suspect it may get postponed.

Spoof website of the week - has to be Angle-Grinder Man, surely? This superhero of the streets is allegedly the UK's first "vigilante cum subversive superhero philanthropist entertainer type personage" Well, full marks for the use of the word "cum" in that construction, but no marks for forgetting the all important hyphenation, which would have rendered this a contender for the "Hyphenated-cum-phrase Top Ten". I think that pretending your real name is Dick Splash does give the game away somewhat - especially when a quick Internet registry search suggests that it's Alan. Unless, of course, the website owner and Angle-Grinder Man are two different people..... Mind you, if I find out this is another Channel 4 spoof, I'll be straight down to their headquarters on Horseferry Road to register my complaint in the strongest possible terms.

Go on, stick your oar in:

Monday 15th September


Gratuitous sexist nonsense

Here's a news story to gladden the heart, possibly. According to this source everybody's favourite ex-Changing Rooms star, Linda Barker, will be modelling underwear, all in the name of "charidee" of course. But if you prefer something a bit younger, then perhaps this news that ex S Club 7 bird, Rachel Stevens, is to work for Pretty Polly might be of more relevance. And for tha laydeeez, there's always The Sun's Superhunks. Calm yourselves!

And whilst we're marking the passing of Thora Hird, across the pond they're burying Johnny Cash. There was a tribute to him on BBC2 last night, with performances culled from his appearance on Later... With Jools Holland. As these performances were taken from about ten years ago, he looked in remarkably good health, but apart from Jools Holland looking about 12 years old, there wasn't that much to date the performances on, so his appearance in the video for Hurt, which closed the show, was a bit of a shock. That and the fact that the Man In Black was covering a Nine Inch Nails song and making it his own. Anyway, it was the passing of Mr Cash that inspired Norman Wisdom Blues. I was going to write a Coronation St-based pastiche of San Quentin but I couldn't get any further than "Stan Ogden, you've been living hell to me". Which is probably good news for everyone.

A while ago Kate was suggesting that I gave out some Internet searching tips. Well, I don't think there's any great secret to it, apart from the use of a decent search engine and the application of some common sense (as I think I stated way back in August when railing against those complaining about "blog noise") but here goes:

  1. Use Google.co.uk. In my experience, this turns up more relevant results than google.com for some reason. Which is slightly puzzling as it theoretically runs on the same search engine. Perhaps that's just my perception....
  2. Use as many keywords as possible. Obvious really, but the more specific you are the fewer search results you have to wade through. On the other hand, you don't want to be too specific, so avoid using "" marks round your search criteria unless you're looking for that specific phrase. And the Google search engine limits the queries to the first ten words anyway....
  3. Ignore any search results which include the words "ringtones", "mp3s", and "free downloads" more than once in the summary. And results where your query string seems to have been shoehorned in amongst other irrelevant phrases.
  4. Use the above tip and also apply a bit of common sense to the summaries and URLS of your search results - www.xxx.com won't turn up information about that Vin Diesel movie, for example.
  5. Make sure you've got plenty of time. Be prepared to follow a lot of links. And don't be afraid to follow a link off a search result site. You might have to go down a few blind alleys before you find the right results. For example, I was looking for some technical information for a newsgroup the other day, and it took me a couple of hours to turn up the relevant information.
  6. Do lots of searches. The more you do, the more you'll come to recognise the shit from the shinola, as I believe the saying goes.
And that really is the secret of my "success". Nothing more exciting than that. Of course, most of that can be applied to any search engine, but of all the ones I've tried Google is the one I like most. Now, of course, equipped with that information you'll no longer need me to dig out the tales of the weird and wonderful, so I suspect it'll just be me reading this in the future....

Go on, stick your oar in:

Thursday 11th September


"The plane, boss, the plane!"

I know it's not right, and I'm sure that in this post-9/11 world it'll attract hate mail, but I have this mental picture of Tattoo and Mr Roarke from Fantasy Island on the viewing deck of the World Trade Centre, and whilst Mr Roake is enjoying the view, Tattoo is looking the other way and anxiously trying to attract his attention. Well, if I had any belief in the concept of Hell, I'd be declaring that I'll be burning there for that. Come on now, someone else must have already thought it surely? No? Just me? Ah, well, I'll get me coat.

Poetry Challenge has been updated again. I'm still updating it every day, but usually around midnight. I hope that more people than just Kate are enjoying the poems - some criticism, constructive or otherwise, would be appreciated. Mind you, if you all think they're rubbish, that'll just make me more depressed and stop writing altogether. Doing the poems has at least given me something to distract me from the tedium of trying to find gainful employment. Of course, in my dreams, I'd like to receive an e-mail praising my talent and offering me the job of Poet Laureate, or possibly just poet-in-residence somewhere. Heck, even the offer to publish my poems somewhere with a wider readership than this website would be nice.

Now, as anyone who's followed this site for any length of time will know, I'm no great film buff. In fact, I'm not even a haf-decent film buff, (trash is my speciality) but it has to be said that Triumph of the Will is still a powerful film even now, almost seventy years on. That's not an endorsement of the Nazi party, but more a testament to the vision and genius of Leni Riefenstahl. Described as "artistic genius, political nitwit" Leni, who died this week, undoubtedly produced one of the masterpieces of "spin". Whether or not she intended it as such is open to debate - she was certainly influenced by Hitler personally, but later developed a long standing enmity with Goebbels. But if you want to know what made the National Socialists so attractive, watch this. And I haven't even mentioned the homo-erotic subtext.... And if that's your bag, man, the best way to watch the film is to turn down the soundtrack, put on a Laibach album and march round the living room wearing your leather trousers.......

And thanks to e-laine (and Radio 5) for pointing out that David Blaine's attempt to spend 44 days in a box doing nothing pales into insignificance when compared to Emile Heskey's 4 years....

Somebody must have something to say, surely:

Monday 8th September


Worth a thousand words?

Well, that's what they say a picture is, but given the latest two additions to the site, I'm not so sure. first up there's a semi-amusing picture of Lawrence Dallaglio. Semi-amusing in an Austin Powers-stylee that is. And to mark his 28th birthday yesterday, here's an amusing picture of my younger brother demonstrating that style and fashion sense run in our family.

Poetry Challenge has been updated today. I updated yesterday too, but not until nearly midnight and I couldn't be arsed updating this page at the same time. So you'll just have to check that page every day to see if there's anything new there. Mind you, I am updating late at night at the moment, so you'll not see anything new during the day, but you know what I mean, surely?

Go on, stick your oar in:

Saturday 6th September


Confessions of an amateur poet

Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, this doesn't involve any 1970s film-style revelations about the number of "birds" that have been "gagging for it" this week but rather the "revelation" that the rather busy day I had yesterday, travelling hither and yon, put paid to any update. By the time inspiration struck I was too knackered to bother logging on. So I thought I'd save it till today, but still haven't managed to update at a reasonable hour. I'll try to do better tomorrow. Anyway, you can check out Friday's and today's offering in the usual place. That is all.

Thursday 4th September


I'm never trusting Channel 4 again

How could they do this to me? My ideal challenge and it turns out to be a hoax! At least I wasn't the only one who was duped. Sadly though, Lapdance Island isn't real. I am heartbroken. It turns out to be part of a series. Ah, look at the website and find out for yourself.

And while we're on the subject of television, I see that BBC2 are now including a little banner in their station idents (as I believe they're called) proclaiming it to be "Channel of the Year". When did this happen and who on earth is responsible for such an award? Oh, wait, it appears to be these guys. The Media section of The Guardian newspaper, in fact. And BBC2 appears simply to be "Terrestrial Channel of the Year", rather than "God of All Channels" as the ident implies, although I couldn't find a single word about this year's winners on the Guardian media official site. Cheers for that, guys.

And having seamlessly linked to online newspapers, here's an article by The Times leading sportswriter which ought to give you pause for thought. Perhaps the language is a bit strong, but the sentiment is certainly right. Not that the former Eastern Bloc countries weren't doing the same thing more than twenty years ago.... Ah, the more things change, as they say.

Finally, having had a bit of correspondence with their manager-cum-webmaster-cum-dogsbody, I have to correct an erroneous impression that I may have given of Mexborough-based band Disarm. I described them as "nu-metal", but having downloaded their recent mp3s from www.disarm.info it's plain to see that they're not. But they are recommended if you like that Lostprophets/Taproot melodic rock vibe crossed with Napalm Death-style growling. Anyway, sorry lads. Hey, at least I didn't call you "stoner rock"!

Oh and don't forget to check out today's offering at Poetry Challenge - I was going to save that one till the weekend, but was struggling for an alternative to use today. Ah, it's a man's life in the poetry army....

Go on, stick your oar in:

Wednesday 3rd September


More likely to be hit by an asteroid

No major update of the site today - some more computer problems are demanding more of my time than should be necessary. Hopefully, a quick clean-up and a defrag should sort things out - it usually does - although knowing my luck my PC is about to expire just as I've finished paying for it.... Still, you lot can at least read the current entry at Poetry Challenge. Back tommorrow. Possibly.

Tuesday 2nd September


Better late than clever?

I could do without computer-related problems distracting me and people ringing me up to ask if I'm available for work or interview. Perhaps then I could get my poem written early in the day. Still, the droids you are lookng for can be found here: Poetry Challenge. I'll probably do full blog update tomorrow, but don't hold your breath.

Monday 1st September


Pinch, punch, first poem of the month

Blimey, this has turned out to be a bit more time-consuming than I thought. Still, the first of this month's poems is available for your delectation and delight. Yep, you're going to have to go to Poetry Challenge to read it. That is all.