Thursday, 20 April 2017

Unpaid review: Evyltyde, by Evyltyde

OK, let's get one thing out of the way first... This isn't a restaurant review, I know that I've done restaurant reviews in the past but this isn't one of them. This is a music review, of an album, by a band. A 'Heavy Metal/Melodic Hard Rock' band (So, all you Bieberites should probably hang up now - You're really not going to like this - But you should probably know that no-one really gives a crap what it is you actually like and you're wasting your lives)

(Hey, remember that time I didn'y get death-threats from Bieber fans?)

And I should probably make it known that I knew a couple of people in the band, before I knew they were in a band (I met them at a party and thought that they were splendid types) - This happens to me literally all the time, one of my other friends for instance - Known him for years, suddenly dropped 'I'm on BBC Radio 2 tomorrow.' into a discussion about what we were having from the bar... I don't mean he just stood up and said it like Steve Carell's character in 'Anchorman' might do - He kind of worked it into the flow, but it still totally happened.

So, I've known these people for about a year, and about a year before that, they released their first and most eponymous album. And you know what? It's really quite good. Let's first introduce the band, well, at least the lineup at the time the album was released.

In photographic order:

Isaac Marques - Drums
Paul James - Bass
Hannah Delaney - Vocals
Danny Merton - Guitar and shouting

This is their lineup now(ish)

Heckmodswyke, my faithful manservant, loaded their CD into the walnut frontaged Blohm und Voss CD player in the Dandymobile many hours before I awoke so that I may listen to it during my long commute to work this morning - Let me tell you about what I heard:

Please note: I have included official videos for the songs where such things exist on YouTube.  There are loads of videos of the band playing the other tracks from this album live.  But most of them were taken by sweaty rockers on their phones - And being an ex live sound engineer - Most of them make my bloody teeth itch. (no offence intended to the camerapeople - I'm sure you're all lovely)

(Rights to all songs, videos and images are owned by Evyltyde and their assorted agents and agencies)

Track 1 - Intro 
I know - An intro!, it's like I'm back in the 70s, a decade that I'm significantly more comfortable with than I am this current one - It's a minute and a half of crashing waves, torrential rain, ghostly choral voices and disembodied laughter - I likes it, although I did feel like I needed a wee halfway through. There is also a light smattering of creaky ships timbers towards the second half, which made me shiver (see what I did there?) - All in all, by far the best nautical-themed intro I have heard on a track since Islander, by Nightwish (and that has flutes).

Track 2 - Down below
Continuing the nautical theme, Hannah, sings a sirenesque story about condemning sailors to the briny deep. This is where you start to hear the vocal range that she's capable of, The high notes made my ears bleed and the low ones made me think a wheel had come off... But that may have something to do with the volume I was playing it at - Not sure what volume it was, as the CD player isn't so gauche that it tells you things like that, but it did keep flashing up, 'Explosionsgefahr' So, that's nice... Probably. I don't know, I don't speak German.

Track 3 - Kick you down
A dirty-great guitar riff starts the song, and the processing gives it the feel of being listened to on the radio in a car by the guy it was written about... and I was listening to it in the car, but, look... You'd probably need to hear it to understand what I mean... A lot of the songs on the album can safely be described as 'Old School' or 'Old Skool' or however the kids are spelling it nowadays - And this is a good thing, because I am old. and I went to school.

Track 4 - What have we become
Oh! a choral start, we like those! I've got loads of Sisters of Mercy albums - Then it all goes a bit 'Number of the Beast/Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden' Twiddly-speed guitars. Then the drummer goes nuts - There is literally nothing not to like. There's an over-arching 'Egyptian' feel to this track - But that could just be me remembering listening to the Powerslave album back in the 80's - The lyrics are pretty dystopic if you listen to them (or read them off the sleeve notes like I did) - But that's cool, I like that kinda thing.

Track 5 - Your darkest fears
Now IMHO, this is one of the most accessible songs on the album. This is also a good time to remind you that this is a totally subjective review, personally I'd have released this as a single - But that's just me, and I'm just a bald, fat bloke with questionable morals, not a record company executive... Can you imagine!? - If someone were to put a knife to my throat, and you really needed a reference, I'd say this is probably most reminiscent of Lacuna Coil

Track 6 - Disappear
Yay! The first one with an official video... Something of a Sunday Morning acoustic kind of song - Oh, and if any of you have ever wondered what 'disdain' looks like on a girl's face - It's the expression that Hannah has in this video whenever she's not looking like she's about to actively rip your nuts off.

Track 7 - Chastity
Another video... Which means I don't have to write anything yeah? Maybe? OK, yes, it sound's Def Leppardey - But when did that start being a bad thing? I like Def Leppard, I used to wear white baseball boots and double denim back when it was fashionable - and I got all the chicks.  Now, we've talked about strippers many times on The Chimping Dandy before. So I'm not going to go deep into that subject again (f'nar) - Whilst I understand what the constant change of pace is trying to portray, I admit to finding it a bit jarring. I don't mean it's not a good song, I'm just saying it's not my favourite one on the album. 

Track 8 - Living to die
Proper headbanger is this one - Even a nice instrumental break at about 2:40 so that you can get your breath back and everything.  Other bands might have resorted to shouting out the lyrics to this one. There are some shouty bits in the background and a couple of gravel voiced Death-Metal style grumbles (Presumably from Mr Merton) but it's all clarity of projection and what's called public school received pronunciation now - Although it was just 'How you spoke' when I were a lad - I'd characterize this as a track played by the DJ at the start of the last quarter of the night - Where the sober people are just drunk enough to dance uninhibitedly, and the drunks are still sober enough to remain verticalish..

Track 9 - Guilty
This is Dio... This is so Dio... Bloody love Dio, I do - You could probably sing the lyrics to 'Holy Diver' over this and it'd be cock-on - This is an epic lost Dio song as performed by Barracuda era Heart at the top of their game - Bloody love Dio, bloody love this track. Bloody brilliant.

Track 10 - Avenge the fallen
No, I have no idea why this was filmed in a field, I'll be sure to ask them next time I see them - A classic hard-rock song, repetitive (yes that's a good thing in this particular instance) Grinding guitars and plunging decolletage (sorry Hannah, but it's difficult to ignore, and it drags the hairy palms into the gigs... Well, it/they... whichever) - See what you think. Also, see if you can place Danny's accent...
Claim to fame... I may have spilled beer down the back of the jacket that Danny's wearing, but I don't think he noticed, so everything should be fine... *cough*

Track 11 - Fly away
The intro starts a bit 'Crash Test Dummies' - But we like them too, so that's good. Then it goes old Metallica, until Hannah starts to sing. then it really goes full on Black Album 90s Metallica (even the drumming, but the drumming is better because it's not being done by Lars Ulrich who might be Danish, but he's still a massive git) Great track.

Now if you're a modern type, and you've streamed the album from Amazon or *spit* iTunes *spit* - This is where your journey ends - But... If you really believe in supporting independent music, and independent bands, and Kickstarter and shizzle. You will have bought the CD from the band's website for a tenner (with free P+P) and will have four bonus tracks - Well, three tracks, and an acoustic version of one of those three tracks as well as the... Look, you know what I mean...

Track 12, or Bonus Track 1, depending how you look at it - Killer
Another video, don't worry, the flashing is intentional, And yes, it sends my eyes funny too... But it's really catchy - In fact I'm humming it now. (and, keep your comments to yourself... then wash your hands)

Track 13 - Fight to be free
This is a really anthemic track, you can imagine it being belted out at venues - The accompanying video isn't an official video - It's more a sort of official bootleg, featuring just Hannah & Danny. Originally released back in 2013 with all profits going towards helping victims of the war in Syria and around the world

Track 14 - Skin deep
I think this was the only track that I'd describe as an 'Album Track' on the entire album - On another band's album it would be the next to last song... Not filler by a long way, because it's still a good song in its own right... It's as if... You know when a pub covers band says 'And here's one that we wrote ourselves' - It's not one you know, so you'll go and get a beer and then sit and listen and hear the second half and wish you'd heard it all the way through - Pretty abrupt ending though, I was expecting a fadeout for some reason. It'll take me a few more listens to get into it I think.

Track 15 - Fight to be free (acoustic)
This is probably my favourite track on the entire album, even though it's just a version of track 13.  It fits Hannah's voice perfectly - It's soulful, it's haunting, It'd make a great closing theme for a TV show - The sort of thing that would be a featured track on Sons of Anarchy. I'm going to play it again once I've published this.

Evyltyde can be found on Facebook:
And they have their own website: Where you can see their tour-dates and buy T-Shirts and the Albums with the bonus tracks - Yeah, they have a fanclub too, you should totally join that, you get free/cheap merch and get to go backstage and stuff (But not like that time I told you about with RockBitch)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

So, am I evil?

Well, Derrrr.... For obvs I am, you've all known me for years and you all know that I am.

But I noticed something yesterday that made me think that I might be evil in a totally new (to me) previously undiscovered way... Something I'd never previously considered as even capable of being the reason that I'd have been tarred and feathered and thrown out of the badly maintained Wacky Warehouse that I like to call 'life'.

Pretty much every day nowadays is some kind of 'Day' - I don't mean Thursday or Tuesday (Although those are most definitely both days) I mean things like these, that the UN/UNESCO ask us to casually observe:

11th. Feb - International Day of Women & Girls in Science
23rd. March - International Meteorological Day
24th. March - International Tuberculosis Day (Which can be quite noisy if the 23rd. was damp and foggy)

It continues like this all the way through the year with us having

15th. Oct - World Handwashing Day, followed by
16th. Oct - Global Food Day

And ending up with:

20th. December - International Human Solidarity Day

Then you've got 'Days' specific to your particular Country or Deity of choice, There's Saints days and other High days - Days made up by retailers just to sell stock - Appropriated Pagan days - Yearly (or bi-yearly or quad yearly) sporting events that have their own 'Day'

Not to mention things that have their own 'Week' Like 'Shark Week' for instance... And... Erm... Probably others too.

But, the one I'm talking about in this instance is a global holiday that bounces around the calendar like a frog in a machine used for polishing old ball-bearings...


It's celebrated all around the world, on the Second Sunday in February, or the 3rd, 8th, 21st or 25th of March, the 4th Sunday in Lent (In the UK), the 7th of April, 8th, 10th, 15th, 19th, 26th, 30th, or the 1st, 2nd or Last Sunday of May, 1st of June, 2nd Sunday of June, 1st. Monday of July, 12th & 15th August, 2nd Monday or 3rd. Sunday of October, 14th. October, 3rd. or 16th. November, and the 8th & 22nd of December...

There are also a couple of countries that celebrate it on non-Gregorian dates using their own wibbly-wobbly date system that I'm not willing to explain. I mean, the last paragraph kind of got away from me a little - And I'll wager a £5 note against a bag of freshly collected donkey eyelids that you skipped a lot of those dates, and who'd blame you? We've all got better things to do haven't we?

But let's get back to me, and how I'm evil and so full of wrongissitude that all my toes are due to pop off my feet and into the stratosphere at any given moment.

Here are some facts that you probably already know if you've read the blog for more than a couple of decades...

  • I have been happily married to the long-suffering Mrs. Dandy for almost twenty years (Yes, I'm old, I know, I've gotten over it and so should you.)
  • We have two children together. Lovely, wonderful children who never give us a moment's trouble 
  • My Mother, whom I may have mentioned a couple of times before whilst she was both dead and alive... Is currently dead... But this hasn't stopped her being quite a vocal part of our lives.

So, on Monday (Which happened to be the day after the 4th Sunday of Lent) - I was greeted by several, if not many, posts from people who I previously considered friends - Waxing lyrical about gifts that they had bought their WIVES for MOTHER'S Day...

Do you see my issue? My Wife is Not My Mother (Because it would make things really awkward when I did that thing she likes with the egg-whisk) and My Mother is dead, which if nothing else makes it difficult for her to open cards and things that I'd bought hastily from the petrol station and wrapped in second-hand paper that I'd saved from Christmas.

So I didn't buy my WIFE a present... You see where I'm going with this don't you? - I'm going to neither confirm nor deny that I financially assisted in the purchase of the presents/cards that one or more of my Children bought for THEIR MOTHER (MY WIFE)

When I told these fairweather friends that I have never bought anyone other than MY MOTHER a MOTHER'S DAY present, well... I can only imagine that there was a quite literal intake of breath on their part. They expressed their shock via the medium of the strongly worded reply to my admission and a couple of them wondered how I ever got allowed to use an egg-whisk in the first place with a stingy attitude like that.

But, My Faithful Bloggerites (remind me never to use that word again) what do you think? I'm interested in answers from all people in all situations, Mothers, Fathers, Kids, Male, Female, Non-CIS, CIS, NCIS, SVU, Super-Intelligent Shades of the colour Blue.

What did you do?

And much more importantly, What should I do next year? (Especially if I want to employ another piece of kitchen equipment for a use for which it wasn't originally designed?)

And to carry on the theme... Here's a nice picture about love and stuff... There's a rock shaped like a heart and everything.

Toodles! - Don't forget to leave your opinion in the space provide below...

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Cook you a steak and do what job?

You know what really grinds my gears? Well, initially it's people who use the phrase "You know what really grinds my gears?" and don't expect me to think of them as Peter Griffin from that moment on. But let's leave that to one side for the time being...

Man-Babies are one things that grind my gears - Now this would be such an easy thing to do the day after International Women's Day... And obviously, that's why I'm doing it. (Did you know, IWD was started back in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America - One wonders if it would be as big a global celebration if it was started by the National Socialist Party of Germany in the late 1930s - But I digress)

Wait, where were we?

Ah yes, Man-Babies.  You know what a man-baby is don't you? It's a man, who acts, out of his own volition, like a whining opinionated baby - Which is pretty much all men (Am I Rite Ladies? High-five! - Wooo! - Don't leave me hanging... OK [Looks at palm of my hand][sees unusually crusty peeling stain][understands completely]

Now I don't mean the men who employ the paid services of professional ladies who look after them whilst they toddle around wearing nappies and rattling their... Um... 'rattles' in people's faces and wearing comfortable bootees and happily having their nappies changed and suchlike.  Each to their own I say where sexual perversion's concerned - Especially in society's upper echelons, what-what?

And I don't mean card-carrying misogynists - They're a whole different breed entirely and we've talked about them before.

I mean the ones who genuinely believe that the only important things are things that apply directly to them and other men, who they claim some kind of shaky brotherhood with - like the urgent, Gods-given need for Government-sponsored erectile dysfunction medicine and free at the point of delivery hair replacement therapy, I mean the lightbulb shaped headed ones wearing last season's football shirts who bleated all over social media yesterday "When's International Men's Day?" - The same ones who went oddly quiet when I (and several other people - I'm not claiming any singular Godhood here) replied, "It's the 19th November you massive Twonk, the day before Universal Children's Day. If you're going to cry like a bitch about some perceived slight against your gender, at least have the common decency to get your facts straight."

And don't think I'm some kind of white-knight feminist defender myself either. I'm really not... If you're female and wearing a low-cut top (for whatever reason) I will look at your cleavage and/or boobs - You can check with Mrs Dandy - we can't go anywhere without her tutting, shaking her head and having to repeat herself at least a dozen times. I won't stand in front of you with my coat open shielding you from the ogling stares of other neanderthal men. I'm a firm believer that boobs are great, and if you want to have a proportion of yours on show - You should feel completely free to do so - But you're gonna get looks from the weak willed.

But what really gets me, specifically, every bloody year hasn't really even started yet.  Next week, Facebook & Twitter will be full of it.  On Monday it'll be wall-to-wall schoolboy sniggering for the preamble. On Tuesday it'll be "when I get home tonight from a hard day at the coalface/office/clinic, guess what I'm getting?!?!!?'

You've worked it out right?

March 14th? a month after Valentines Day?

Well, it's another one of those gender specific made-up strictly for profit holidays. Whereas Valentine's Day is a holiday for women, with non-generic petrol station flowers, high cocoa content chocolates, and things wrapped in red and pink reflective paper. Steak and a Blowjob Day (for it is that of which I am speaking) is for men... because men like red meat and getting their dicks wet whilst their eyes roll back into their heads (and if that doesn't happen, someone's doing something wrong).

I don't get why you need to announce it to your 63 Facebook friends (half of which are probably friends with your significant other too who will laugh when she post "Not bloody likely Sunshine, you can spend 30 seconds on Pornhub once the kids have gone to bed like you do every Saturday night instead of playing FIFA."

And it's so boringly contrived and binary - I mean, I love chocolate - And Mrs Dandy gets excited by the thought of a decent mouthful of steak (well, she did before she decide to go pescatarian - feel free to insert your own jokes there.

But men... (Lower-case used intentionally) Just like there's no specific date for you to tell your partner that you love them or to buy them flowers, as long as you're prepared for every one of her female friends to ask her what you've done. And there's no date when it's more or less right to buy decent chocolate for your partner or even yourself. There's no specific day when you can't buy and cook a nice, thick steak, or go to a nice restaurant and order steak if you you don't 'do' washing up, because you're too manly. And, believe it or not if you have a decent cleanliness routine, it's not out of the realms of possibility that a lady that you personally quite like will, without any kind of struggle or Gaffer Tape being involved, put your love-python in where her shouting at you usually comes out of.

Providing you're both equally up for it that is... And that you've eaten quite a lot of pineapple beforehand.  Enjoy.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise

Have you noticed that life, by its very nature, is linear.  There are some that say that it's more 'wibbley-wobbley' than that - But those people are often certifiable and you should shun them.   

But life, for the vast majority of us, bimbles from one thing to another like a heavily pregnant hamster, banging into things and generally biting jagged chunks out of the furniture with rodenty abandon.  You can look backwards sometimes and think "That was lucky" if... Erm... if you're lucky, but ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it's pretty much 'Yesterday I went to the shops.', 'Today my dog stole all the Camembert out of my artisanally made and ethically sourced sourdough sandwich.'

But there are a few times, a few beautiful gems hidden amongst the razor-edged broken glass strewn highway of my daily life that shine like the very lighthouse of home port to an overworked and mimsy-hungry seaman (easy now)

Here is one such relatable saga, it ends the day before yesterday... But it started some weeks ago, during a bout of Norovirus-induced generic stomach-flu like illness. I had it for a week and I didn't eat during that entire time - I drank weak orange squash made with boiled water. I tried to eat a boiled sweet once, but that triggered a bout of 'stomach upset' that would have caused a Haddock to embrace Buddhism. It was awful - I lost a stone in weight (you need to remember this, it's important later on).

Another thing you need to bear in mind is that it's not my payday until next Friday... Very important, almost as important as the previous fact, in fact.

Ok, so knowing these facts, we can fast-forward to last week. The Dandymobile, my faultless steed, my surreptitious breeder of Marmosets, has a 'tell' to let you know that her battery will require replacement in the near future.  It's a buzzing noise that happens between turning on the ignition and starting the engine, something like a pump, or a fan under the bonnet somewhere probably, I know not what it is - This is where the more mechanically minded of my loyal readership should feel free to jump in with suggestions as to what this might be, and how they would like to mend it for me for free. But, for the time being, we should just agree that this is a 'thing' with a purpose - It's purpose in this case is to remind me to buy a new battery in the near future.  I had planned to buy a battery once I had been paid. I think you can follow my reasoning, right?

On Saturday I drove the Current Mrs. Dandy to the Post-Office to claim a package that required a signature, or was too wide for the letterbox or some-such tomfoolery.  Upon our return to the car, it refused to start, I figured that I'd touched one of the footpedals during the starting procedure (this sometimes causes the car to refuse to start for half an hour or so if the battery is in bad shape) so I walked the 500 yards to the nearest branch of a popular tyre and battery replacement company that are known for being 'Quite expensive'. They very cheerfully said that they would be more than happy to replace my battery for £100. (remember, it's not payday until next week and I still need to buy food and fuel).  I tried the motor factors across the road (the same motor factors as detailed in this story) and they quote me £70 just to supply the battery.  So, I figured that I'd go back to the car, wait for it to successfully start and drive it to get its battery replaced.

But it didn't start, not even after I'd waited for another hour... 

I'd suggested to Mrs Dandy that she get the bus home, as she had things to do, and that I would get the Dandymobile sorted 'somehow' on my own. She left and I sat there and thought, and thought, and thought. My first thought was that the car would magically just start if I closed my eyes and turned the key whilst asking it nicely... It didn't.  Then I thought that the only thing for it was to push the car, on my own, the 500 yards to get the battery replaced. But then I remembered that I would need both hands to push the Dandymobile - and, (this is where your memory gets tested) I realised that that would be problematic because I needed one hand to hold my trousers up - Remember that sickness bug and all the weight I lost? - Well, my belt was on the last hole and I couldn't get it tight enough to stop my trousers falling down whilst I was pushing the car... I was going to buy a new, smaller, belt once I'd been paid. This issue was compounded because, as you all know, I don't wear underwear of any kind, ever. Not even when I'm kilted.

So, my third and final thought was to phone the garage that normally does my MOTs and suchlike, to get them to recover me and replace the battery. So I called them and spoke to the owner, who's a great guy, and explained my problem. He said that the recovery truck was out currently, but I'd be their next call as I was such a good customer.  We've heard of this garage before too... It's where THE QUATTRO is usually tethered.

It was an hour before the truck arrived and on its arrival, the recovery driver suggested that he should use his special clip-on battery thing to see if he could scare the Dandymobile into life.  But it didn't work, so then he offered to bump her around the corner using the starter motor (you know how a car lurches forward if you start it in gear? that.) and winch her onto the back of the truck. The car jumped forward a couple of feet every time he turned the key and on the second such attempt, the engine started as if nothing had been wrong in the first place.

"I don't understand what happened there," He said. Well, I say 'he said' - he kind of buzzed, because he had some sort of electrolarynx because my life is on average 500% weirder in most ways than yours. Then he asked me if I'd like him to follow me to the garage just in case. but I said no, and that he was very kind, but as the Dandymobile started, she should be OK now. In hindsight, that strikes even me as foolish bravado now.

However, I drove to the garage without incident, parked up and turned off the ignition without thinking.  The owner was standing in the open doorway of the workshop and favoured me with a sliding facepalm with added headshaking finish, such as one you would give to an Ice-dancer who had performed a routine worthy of six perfect 10.0s before setting his tights on fire as a protest of some kind and sinking through the surface of the rink without a trace.

I opened the bonnet, and he looked at the battery. A confused scowl crossed his face... "Is this one of ours?" he asked. 

"Of course, you exclusively do all the work on all my cars." I lied in reply. He held up his index finger to silence my tirade of falsehood and rang his battery supplier.

"Well, it seems you're in luck - The battery is still just under warranty, so we'll replace it free of charge for you.  All I'd ask is that you make a cash donation to the 'We helped you out of a tight spot, so I'll contribute towards the cost of your Christmas Party benevolent fund.'" - So I gave him the cash I'd got out to pay the driver for recovering me. and an hour later, I was on my way.

Effectively, I saved a potload of money, the week before payday, because I'd been sick as a dog weeks earlier, and that meant I couldn't push my car to the garage for fear of my trousers falling down...

What are the chances?

Well, with me, probably 50/50 as it goes.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Spiky, Shape-changing Pinecones of Death

Tomorrow, Saturday the 18th of February, is the third Saturday in February - and we all know what that means.

It means that it’s Enzo Ferrari’s birthday… And Yoko Ono’s… And John Travolta’s…  It’s also the feast-day of St. Colmán of Lindisfarne who probably invented mustard or something (I didn’t really look into it that closely if I’m being completely honest – I’m trying to do like 300 things at once today) amongst other things.

But the real reason that we’re interested here at The Chimping Dandy – and therefore, the reason that you’re interested is that it’s World Pangolin Day. Pangolins – They’re literally the greatest thing ever. They have all the intrinsic parts required to be the best, cutest, most heart-warmingly twee bundles of keratin scaled, acid-pooping ant-eating machinery that has ever walked this, or any other, Earth.

But, you don’t need me to tell you that, right? We’ve covered pangolins in the past to the point where they’re not a complete mystery… We have, we did that here… Didn’t we? I thought we had. Remember, I told you that Neil-Patrick Harris had read the blog? Look, just read that post – You’ll be glad you did. I’ll wait here.

OK? Are we all up to speed now? Scaled anteaters, of the order Pholidota, no teeth, long tongue, and four legged but walks on two… Generally considered to be one of the most internationally trafficked animals that currently still exists (but only just) because, you know, They’re pretty tasty and some people, in some parts of the world think tearing them to pieces, grinding up their scales and swallowing them will sure cancer, or magically make your milk ‘come in’ if you’ve just had a baby.

(For the record, it won’t. And you’re a backwards imbecile if you think it will. In fact, just go the whole hog and shoot yourself repeatedly in the face if you believe that it will – All you’re doing is making this amazing animal even more endangered)

As of today, six of the eight species of Pangolin are classed as ‘Threatened to extinction’ whilst the other two are ‘Critically endangered’

So, what should you do on World Pangolin day? How should you celebrate it? Well, a good start would be not eating a pangolin – But I’m guessing that’s going to be pretty easy for most of us (And yes, I understand that they’re a valid staple of people who share a biome with them – But I’m not sure that those people read the blog as such) Then you could ‘Like’ the World Pangolin Day page on Facebook. Maybe draw some pictures of Pangolins? Bake biscuits and/or cookies? (In the shape of Pangolins, but not using pangolin as an active ingredient) Write a poem? Express the very idea of pangolinicity though the medium of interpretive dance? You could look at videos of them doing cute stuff of YouTube (other video sharing sites are probably available) and try not to 'Squeeee' too much.

You could go to your local museum if they have a pangolin on display and have an impromptu party, or you could take an outline of a pangolin with you and have a tasteful and well behaved vigil around it if they don’t have one of their own. Remember – Be courteous to your local museum, they’re generally great people – I know the people who work in the Nature Gallery in my local Museum (In Derby, in the UK) certainly are. Maybe your local Zoo has an animal adoption scheme and you could put some money towards a pangolin’s upkeep? Although, now that I come to think about it – They don’t do very well in captivity – Maybe you could adopt an Aardvark or something and just tell people it’s a pangolin – I don’t know, I’m not an expert. Just an excitable amateur.

But the main thing, the best thing you can do is think. Realise that there’s yet another animal out there that’s losing its grip on life because of our stupidity. And it’s a cute animal, so you’ve got no excuse not to help it – I could understand if it was some flesh eating worm or something, who gives a crap about them, right?

But it’s not… look…

Bloody brilliant aren't they?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

State of the nation 2016

You know when you're stuck in a rut? - When the tidal wave of fame that self-publishing a new book brings fades into the general background radiation of the Yuletide holidays.

(Christmas book-launches only seem to make sense if you have an unlimited advertising budget... Or indeed any advertising budget at all. Because people tend to spend their money on StayPlations and Microsfot Eggsboxes for their jammy-faced, unappreciative kids who'll be parents themselves by the time they're 15 - And don't give a second-hand fig about you. Because books are boring and old-fashioned and someone who gives a book for Christmas is second only to the Aunt who smells of urine and buys you socks or pants every year from the Pound-shop in the crappy relative stakes.)

But I digress... I was talking to someone today about my book.  I kept correcting her by adding a sibilant 'Ss' every time she said 'your book' - I thought it was a clever way of implying the plural, what with me actually publishing at least four books and appearing in many, many more short story collections and being the editor of a handful of books for other people... But she just looked at me funny, I think that she thought I was pretending to be a snake... Or that I had a slow leak - Both of which were technically true, So her concern was real.

But the one thing she said during our conversation that struck a chord was "I've looked at your blog and it's not been updated for ages." She didn't go as far as to say, "And you're an old, fat, man who obviously can't keep up the pace where the 21st Century in general, and social media in particular is concerned," but you could tell she was thinking it.

(Actually she wasn't, she's really nice and she has danced with Mrs. Dandy of her own free will on many separate occasions - It's best not to ask!)

That spurred me on to actually write something, hastily forgetting that I'm currently working on my ghost story for this coming Friday - It's called 'Box' by the way, the next self-published book 'The Morehouse Decoration' and Vol 2 of the Windspider Saga (or Chronicles or something) called 'Child of Space' - But anyway, here we go, one hastily thrown together blog post... Erm... 

Oh! Tell you what, We've not had a 'State of the Nation' thing for a while have we?  For those of you who can't remember the last one, it's a few facts and figures about what's happened to the blog in the past month... All these facts and figures are accurate at time of going to press...

This month has seen another one of our Soviet Invasions - You know the drill, when we get thousands (and I mean actual thousands) of pageviews from Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine etc... They bumped our all-time pageviews up to 66,365 - Which isn't bad for someone who has an over-inflated view of himself and seldom, if ever, does anything pornographic to entice views - I haven't got the thighs for it any more you see. - That two-page spread that I did for that German gay-porn magazine seems like such a long time ago now.

Anywho - Here are the ten most popular post this month... In no particular order... Feel free to play Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' whilst you go through their titles - Feel free to keep it on whilst you're reading the posts too, but you'll need to have it on repeat and it turns into a bit of an ear-worm - Sorry about that

10 - 'Leg godt' as they say in Denmark - A deeply personal sojourn into my relationship with LEGO, detailing how it has effected my family. (And for long time fans, no, it's not the one with the mini-skirt, it's the other one)

09 - One small para-diddle for a man… - About the time I became one of the most starstruck people on the planet... And I didn't even talk to anyone who's actually that famous - Oh, and I talk about Marillion for a bit too.

08 - A shiny tuppence for everyone? - This was about popular ladies' hair-styles... But not the ones they have on their heads.

07 - Bikers can be fragile little flowers. - This is where I prove how nice a person I am by holding another man's penis for him with my own hands... Well, hand... Well, thumb and forefinger. And I looked away.

06 - Deconstruction Complete - Hey! The other LEGO post... Who'd have thunk that two posts about the same subject, written a year apart could be popular in the same month with Russians?

05 - Today is the first day of the rest of your life - This is a blatant advert for my new book, Forever Girl - You should totally read it. (The Post and the book - There are links to Amazon and everything - It really is the shiznit - Plus I'm using the profits to put my daughter through tattoo school)

04 - Women are brilliant! Literally, the sweetest thing - This is a discussion about me finding out that it's not only me that doesn't fully understand the modern, fashionable definitions of gender and its fluidity. (But it's funny too - Don't get me wrong)

03 - A discussion of pornography, do not read - Oh, I didn't realise quite how often I talk about sex and sexuality, there'd certainly something Freudian in there.  But this post sort of covers the difference between naked men and naked women (yes, I know, innies and outies, but... ) and erotica and pornography

02 - Ah'm with ye Jacky-Boy - A post about lovely, lovely Scotland and how I like to pretend I'm Scottish to fox the tourists in Scotland... I also like to wear a kilt, but that's another post all together.

01 - Public Toilets are not as much fun as I first thought - There's an outward theme of deviancy isn't there? It's not intentional, these post are the ones that you guys found popular and interesting.  I've written hundreds, but theses are the ones you chose to read. This ones about me and some urine belonging to someone else... And it's on me... And I'm not proud.

So, there you are, the ten posts that you odd people found popular this month - Give them a read and see what you think. Tell your friends. You should buy some of my books too, they're cheap and you can definitely get them for Christmas- They make great presents!

Until next time kids - If I don't see you before, the Christmas Ghost story should be going up on Friday

Otherwise - Merry Christmas!

Mrs Dandy & Myself being festively debauched

Oh, By the way, it wasn't just Russia, we had hits from France, Germany, Spain, India, Kenya, Cyprus, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico as well as the UK and the US - So by reading this you're making yourself part of a planetary gestalt... Just think about that for a second - Have you got a warm glow yet?

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Bikers can be fragile little flowers.

No really, listen… ‘Fragile’ might not be the first word you think of, you might choose to think ‘Scary’ or ‘Smelly’ or ‘Fond of wholesale deviant sexual practices’ or ‘Annoying’ (especially when they filter past you whilst you’re stuck in a traffic jam – Which is perfectly legal BTW – And, whilst we’re on the subject, you’re not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic.) And you’d be 100% right 95% of the time… Bikers can be all of these things, I know, I are one sometimes… I used to be one a lot more often, but I just don’t have the disposable income anymore – it can be an expensive way of life, especially if you have the mechanical aptitude of a dead sloth.

But ‘fragile’? Well, let’s take a minute to think, when they’re barreling past you on their back wheel with their hair on fire, it looks like all fun and games, right? But (and it’s usually a big, hairy butt) it all comes to a shattering halt when the pedophile in the long-wheelbase Transit van at the front of the traffic queue turns right without checking his mirror because he’s seen a schoolgirl.  And because our Barnaby* is minding his own business, tearing down the white lines, with his wrap-around shades and the bluebottles bouncing off his chin, whilst he hums Steppenwolf hits to himself. He doesn’t have time to do anything about it. There’s a banging noise, a biker shaped dent in the side of the van and the insurance brokers start circling the site like pinstriped vultures.

Which also explains why a lot of bikers limp, or have interesting scars or bits missing… Arms, legs, fingers, eyes, that sort of thing.  And it also explains why there are a lot of groups who exist to try and get bikers riding again after they’ve taken a sideway excursion along the Queen’s Highway, or through that ‘wire and post’ safety barrier that the Highways Agency are so fond of, or under a steamroller… Most of them are great, but some are just money making cons – and the one I used to be involved with was a mixture of the two (I found this out later, I’m not saying that I was knowingly conning the recently badly crippled in their time of need… Not on this particular occasion anyway)

There was this one time, about 20-25 years ago, that this group had organised to have a trade stand at the Scottish National Motorcycle show… And because I was all bouncy and keen and just nodded when people asked me to do things, and at the time, I had a girlfriend who had access to a big van, the decision was made to travel the 300-odd miles north, in what became the ‘Support van’… I say 300-odd miles, because we had arranged to take a torturous route, picking up members (easy Tiger) along  the way, who would either ride their own bikes, or cadge a lift in the van – We’d also arranged to take in a rally or two that were not completely out of our way.  I can’t remember any names… And as the story unfolds, you’ll understand that that’s probably for the best.

Our first pickup was fairly close to home. The young gentleman in question had a wheelchair, but wasn’t permanently wheelchair-bound and he was the proud own of a ‘Nippi’ which to the uninitiated, is sort of a three-wheeled scooter that you could load a wheelchair into… There should be a picture around here somewhere.

He decided, quite rightly, not to attempt the journey in that and we helped him up into the van – I’d never met him before, but he came across as a bit needy.  Which is something you don’t usually like to say about people with disabilities as obviously there are things that they can’t do, or have difficulty doing for themselves – it’s the nature of the beast. But he just struck me as, well, ‘high maintenance’ (You all hate me now, right? Just keep reading – I’m actually a hero - sort of)

The next pickup was a brilliant guy… Really liked him – He had some terrible degenerative bone disease and I understand that he’s no longer with us… But nothing was too much trouble for him, If you saw him out on the road, riding his silver Honda Goldwing (I think) you’d never know that he was any less able than you or me (well than you at least, I’m falling apart and will probably be shot next time I go to the vets for a checkup) – You’d only know that there was anything different about him when he stopped for petrol.  You see, he used to seize-up when he rode for over five minutes.  We all do that to an extent, us old people, but I’d say about half the time, he couldn’t get his feet down in time… And… Well, he used to topple-over.  His wife rode a similar bike, and she used to pull up next to him, until he got the feeling back in his legs and could get off and fill up… She didn’t make it every time though, or sometimes she’d lose her balance and go over too – And it never ceased to be funny. Especially as when I suggested that he get a trike... He replied that they were 'For girls'.

This is a Goldwing

One of the other members had a false arm (you literally cannot make this stuff up) and because he’d had his handlebar controls modified in a particular way, he used to wear a hook, rather than a prosthetic hand (it was a different time) And… He would occasionally help this guy pick his bike up off the ground… With his hook… Now, I don’t know whether my mind has filled in this memory, or it actually happened, but I’m fairly sure that during one such forecourt recovery at a motorway services, his arm came off… We couldn’t do anything for a good few minutes then… what with all the laughing and the needing the toilets as our bladders thawed.

Our first night away was spent in the van, at one of the rallies that I mentioned… Now, I don’t know how many of you have ever been to a biker rally, but it usually involves music and beer and assorted idiocy… Importantly, sometimes there are Portaloos, and sometimes there aren’t.  On this occasion, there were, but they seemed to be miles from where we’d parked the van.  At precisely stupid o’clock in the morning, I got shaken awake…

“Dandy? Dandy? Are you awake, I really need the toilet!” – Now, I was in the front of the van, and our sometime wheelchair using friend (for it was he) was in the back. 

I said, “Right, hang on, I’ll open the back doors.” So, I got out of the van, went around to the back and opened one of the doors. He moved to the doorway, and then looked back into the van – His wheelchair was covered in people, only some of whom I recognised… He looked at me like a kicked puppy,

“There’s no time, I’m desperate – You’ll have to carry me.” So I took a minute to compose myself, he put his arms around my neck and I lifted him out of the van.  We’d gone about 50 yards when he said, “I need to go now… Find me a bush!” – So, being the caring, inclusive beast of burden that I am, I carried him to the nearest hedge and set him down, unsteadily, on his feet. He just stood there looking at me.

I said “What?”

He replied, “My fingers are numb and I’m wearing leather jeans…”

I stood there for a minute opening and closing my mouth for a minute or so, before snapping it shut like a pelican at a Wagamama as I realised what mixed messages I must be giving out.

“You’re going to need to give me a hand, so I don’t get it all over me.”

Now, I’m going to leave the next couple of minutes to your imagination, but I did fall back on all my experience gained from de-gibleting a fresh chicken.  He managed to do himself up afterwards, and – truth be told, I needed to do a similar thing myself, but I had no intention of manually operating ‘Little Dandy’ without giving my hands a good, hot bleaching.  I carried him back to the van, and then sat and had a cry before ‘Blutoothing’ myself (I relieved myself in the same hedge, but did it handsfree, which is a trick you learn if you’re often slapdash with superglue when you're repairing a carb-rubber)

The rest of the trip to and back from Scotland was fairly uneventful, we picked up a Goldwing a couple of times and had to tighten the straps holding someone’s arm onto their body more times than I would do normally on an average weekend.  In fact, the only real item of interest came at our next overnight stop… Which was at our one-armed friend’s house.  We’d all had more Jack Daniels that was good for us and things were getting decidedly philosophical.  He’d removed his arm and smiled at me.

“So, did he get you to get it out for him?”


“His d*ck? Did he get you to get it out for him so that he could…”

“Well, he was…”

“Having difficulty with his jeans? Was about to have an accident? Yeah, he does that – It’s like a rite of passage for people he’s just met.  He sees how far he can push them… He only does it to blokes though.” He saw that I was jumping to a conclusion about his sexual orientation, “Oh, no, nothing like that… We’ve just told him that we’d beat the crap out of him if he tried it with a girl. We warn them anyway, just in case he forgets.”

He touselled my hair as I sat there and then went off to bed, saying, “You’re one of the gang now!” with a huge grin on his face.

One of the gang? Maybe, but he didn’t think it was quite so funny when he woke up in the morning and tried to put his jogging-bottoms on… We’d sewn the feet holes up you see… he was hopping all over the landing with a hangover… Then he fell down the stairs…

If it taught me nothing else, it taught me that disabled people are just as likely to be little sh*ts as able-bodied people are.

*Barnaby Wilde – a fictitious ‘everyman’ biker – Like a ‘John Doe’ type character.