Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Amsterdam Cat Museum and other tails

Amsterdam Cat Museum
If there's one thing that's defined my 2012, it's cats. There have literally been litter loads of them. So it seemed fitting to cap off the year by heading to Amsterdam - a city that puts up its stray moggies in a glorious houseboat. But even more endearing is the surreal Kattenkabinet - a museum that celebrates man's ability to fashion feline-themed pinball machines, porcelain paperweights and zoomorphised mannequins - futile, time-consuming and expensive endeavours, but endeavours born of the power of love. The results are charming, unfathomable and please-let-me-out-of-here-oh-no-I-can't-find-the-exit creepy. As Borat Sagdiyev once said; entry, please, as I reveal four hand-picked highlights:

Sunday, 2 December 2012

An interview with Michael Palin

What do the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert and my office have in common? They've all been trodden on by Britain's nicest man, Michael Palin. And while I couldn't make the Poles or the desert, I could the latter - so naturally the comedian-turned explorer sat down for a chat about his latest book and TV series, Brazil.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Standard Hotel, New York: A review

The Standard hotel New York bar pool
It's a place where passers-by can watch you defecate to their heart's content, where champagne-glugging models take their clothes off in front of your disbelieving eyes and where floor-to-ceiling views of Lower Manhattan will suck the breath from your windpipe.

I refer to The Standard Hotel in New York City, where I laid my eyebrows-dominated head for a couple of nights in August. Located in the ball-achingly trendy Meatpacking District, it's arguably more famous for its bogs than its rooms. "Just wait till you see them," my girlfriend said on the cab ride there, referring to its Tommy Crappers. "They're on the top floor and you can see right across New York!"

Sunday, 16 September 2012

George Orwell lives

George Orwell, MoMA
Almost two months ago, I started a blog by writing: "They say you should never meet your heroes - that they won't live up to expectations, that you'll be disappointed."

Well, having met Lee 'Scratch' Perry at London City Airport and being thoroughly undisappointed, I thought it was about time I met another of my heroes. Unfortunately, one cannot plan these encounters if one wants to avoid being slapped with a restraining order, so I had to rely on chance.

Friday, 17 August 2012

An interview with Peter Schmeichel

He's 8' 7", weighs 25 stone and shot to fame while trying to catch fast-moving balls in the 1990s.

That's right - it's Denmark's famous honorary Mancunian and ex Premier League superstar goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, and I was lucky enough to have a Google Hangout with the man himself (and a few others, ahem) ahead of the Premier League's return this weekend.

Here's what he had to say:


Monday, 30 July 2012

Atomic kittens

Smudge, Flo, Alby and that other one who used to cower behind the sofa whose name escapes me - four little bundles of joy gone from my life forever, but never to be forgotten.

What the hell am I on about? Well, seeing as you asked so nicely, I'm referring to four vulnerable balls of fluff with legs, claws and fully-functional teeny weeny digestive systems that I found down the side of my bed in April.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Me and my very good friend Lee 'Scratch' Perry

They say you should never meet your heroes - that they won't live up to expectations, that you'll be disappointed. I don't have a clue who 'they' are, but their heroes clearly don't walk around sporting a bright red beard and a gold hat with shiny little mirrors on.

For that is the chosen style of Lee 'Scratch' Perry, a 76-year-old Jamaican music producer, reggae pioneer and one of my heroes. Through his Black Ark Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, Perry produced - in his typically lavish, eccentric style - material from Bob Marley & the Wailers, The Congos, Junior Murvin and Augustus Pablo.

Friday, 13 July 2012

O2's Twitter team make people laugh

While O2's call centre staff were congratulating themselves on a day of no complaints on Wednesday - just why was no-one phoning? - the company's social media people were working overtime following its nationwide network outage.

With thousands of customers seething at having no signal for much of Wednesday and Thursday morning, it was the responsibility of the @O2 in the UK Twitter account to appease their anger.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Emirates Air Line and a man named Clarence

"And of course, these are the same cranes lowered during Winston Churchill's funeral…

"…and look, quickly now, jees - I said quickly. Over there! North-east, north-east! - you can see the intricacy of the Lee Valley navigation system."

Saturday, 7 July 2012

At the front line of the battle against lads on tour

Bare-breasted Amsterdam androgynous types deploy their secret weapon against the many and uniformly-dressed units of stag parties and lads on tour.

Their guerrilla tactics may be working - according to a poll last month by TheKnot.com, 61 per cent of brides-to-be claim their fianc├ęs are opting for "low-key" bachelor parties instead of flying to the continent in willy-and-bum shorts.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Euro 2012 EuroCast: England vs Sweden

video
FootballFanCast.com's Tom Skinner got in touch to ask if I'd like to sit down and talk all things Euro 2012 ahead of England's clash with Sweden.

I say all things Euro 2012; more third-choice goalkeepers, fictional crisps and deceased sporting stars Sue Barker once spoke to.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cheltenham vs Crewe, League 2 Play-Off Final: An alternative view

"PARA! PARA! PARADISE! WHOA-OH-OH OH-OOH OH-HO-HO!"

Never before have the words 'Crewe' (a railway town within the unitary authority area of Cheshire East) and 'paradise' (a place in which existence is positive, peaceful and timeless) existed harmoniously.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Steve Evans: Football's most hated man

Hello you! It's been a while, no? I've missed you - and no doubt you've missed me too, which is why you're here, obviously. I could tell you why I've been away - but that would involve giving out my telephone number, which ain't gonna happen. And I'm certainly not going to write down the reasons for my blogosphere absence - for all I know you might be a psychotherapist [I love typing words like that, pressing space bar, and not being interrupted by a big red zig-zag. In the words of that guy off of EastEnders and the Parklife video, it gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing] and tap into my insecurities.

No, instead I'm going to draw a line underneath the whole sordid affair and do what I do best: criticise people I've never met while hiding behind my laptop's monitor.