I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How I make extra money playing roulette

Can't believe I'm writing this. Not that I'm going to give away any big secrets or some kind of MAGIC BETTING FORMULA, but just that it's possible to write a post with this title that isn't bullshit. Because it's not! It's true! I really have been making a regular profit playing roulette over the last 6 months, something along the lines of £100-120 a month -- and now I'm going to REVEAL MY MAGIC BETTING FORMULA. Or, err, not. Shall I begin?

Actually, before I begin, let me emphasise some things. First, this is not "how to make extra money playing roulette". This is "how I make extra money playing roulette". There's so much luck involved that it really would be stupid of me to claim, or anyone to infer, that this is anything more than just me recounting my own experience. It's roulette for crying out loud! So please, don't go reading this and thinking you can do the same, guaranteed, and then get pissed off with me if you try it and lose money. I'll probably lose money one day. This is more a story about how I've managed to learn a bit of self-discipline, and have something statistically improbable happen to me along the way.

Right. Here goes. The PATH TO RICHES is paved with the following.

1. I play at bluesq.com.

I'm not "a roulette player". I play roulette using bluesq.com's livecasino. That's the only place I play it, and the only place I have played it the whole time. It's real roulette -- they've got webcams pointing at real tables in an Eastern European casino-cum-sweat-shop. None of this computerised theft going on.
2. I picked a number and stuck with it.

I bet on the same number every time. Every time. My number happens to be 11.

3. I picked a number in the middle row.

The middle horizontal row, that is. Numbers 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, ... you get the idea. And I already said which one I've chosen.

3.1 I didn't pick 2 or 35

I bet on 9 numbers at a time. It's not possible with 2 or 35.

4. I bet on 9 numbers at a time

I put a quid each on the corners of 11, and one on 11 itself. That's a 5 quid bet in total, covering 9 numbers, just under a quarter of the available numbers (there are 37 including 0).

5. I wait for the numbers to come in

If anything from 7-15 comes in the bet makes a profit. Each corner bet is a bet on 4 numbers: 7,8,10,11; 8,9,11,12; 10,11,13,14; 11,12,14,15. So here's what happens

  • A corner/odd number comes in (7,9,13,15): you get 4 quid profit, or 9 quid in total. The bet was on 4 numbers out of 36, after all (they don't count zero in the odds), and 36/4 is 9.
  • A side/even number comes in (8,10,12,14): you get 13 quid profit, or 18 quid in total. This is because 2 of the corner bets came in, paying £9 each.
  • 11 comes in: you get 67 quid profit, or 72 quid in total (with the stake back). This is because you win 4 bets which pay £9 = £36, plus 1 which pays £36.
6. I have a stake and an aim, and I (mostly) stick to them

I put in £20 each time, about 5 times a week. If I make four £5 bets and lose them, I don't chase: that's it for the day. If a bet comes in, I keep playing until I've either lost all the money or made £50 profit (ie, reached £70). Then I withdraw the cash. Do not chase losses! But do carry on reading, as, well, I don't so much chase winnings, but I do behave in a way that can make the possible profit be more than £50 a session...

7. I deviate slightly thanks to a bit of obsessive compulsive disorder

Amounts of money which don't end in 0 or 5 annoy me. So if I have, eg, £32 in the bank, I'll bet just £2 (expecting to lose it) before going back to the normal bet. Generally it'll be a quid each on two corners, covering all the numbers from 8 to 14, for example. £4 will be the four corners, £1 just 11, £3 the corners plus 11. You get the idea.

8. I'm slightly greedy, especially if drunk

On occasion I'll be a bit pissed off, or happy/flush, or drunk, and double up. So £40 in and not quite the normal bet doubled, but instead £1 on the 4 corners, the 4 edges, and £2 on 11 itself. If 11 comes in this bad boy pays out £170! But gambling like this doesn't happen very often -- thank goodness. It would backfire way more often than it pays out if I was doing it regularly, and what's more the corner numbers still only pay £9 so there's no profit made when they come in. The £5 bet on 9 numbers is much safer.

9. I'm also slightly greedy when sober

Numbers seem to come in more than once in 5 spins or so fairly often. Surprisingly so, to me, but there may be a good reason for it. Anyone know? Ah, I don't really care, just happy enough to have noticed it. So sometimes 11 has come in twice on the trot, in fact a few times. Knowing this, I don't tend to stop immediately I reach a £50 profit -- instead I let the OCD drive for a while and treat £70 as the new £0. Does that make sense? It means if I win on the first bet, for example, I end up having £82 in the bank after a win, I'll gamble £2 and then £5 and, well, sometimes it comes in, simple as that.

10. I'm really fucking bastard lucky

Seriously, look at this. How can the above possibly be a useful, sensible way of spending time and money? It's just luck. 11 has come in enough to make me an average profit. I play about 5 days a week, at different times (mornings, evenings, middle of the day, whatever). I stick to my guns, the deviations from the basics are tidy (number 7), tiny (number 9) or rare (number 8), and this is what has happened to me. Nothing more, nothing less. It's luck. Yes, betting on 9 numbers at a time feels "safe", and even appears to be, but IT'S ROULETTE!

11. I do the maths and don't gamble what I can't afford

I've made about £100-120 a month doing this. Compare that with the amounts I'm staking: I'm throwing in about £100 a week! It's a slow profit and it gets nervy, and I'm lucky enough that I can (at the moment) swallow a dry spell -- I frequently go days without winning anything, on one occasion a couple of weeks -- but when the wins come in they tend to be in the £70-120 range. Chasing losses would be catastrophic, and I've learnt/discovered the discipline and patience that has stopped me from doing so. I'm quite proud of that, given my gambling habits of old. It remains to be seen what happens when an inevitable month-of-shit comes along -- hopefully I'll slow down before it goes horribly wrong. Or maybe you'll see me in the gutter.

Monday, April 27, 2009

simple django+yaml file generator

EDITED to change its name.
EDITED to change its name again! What was I thinking? It should always have been called pork.py.

I was trying to write a website for PORK, but I fail massively at HTML, CSS, design, all of that nonsense. And I'm bored, a bit. Watching The Business on Channel 4 HD despite having seen it about 5 times before (I love it). So, rather than do anything useful, I've done a stereotypically daft, over-engineered, off-on-a-tangent avoiding-the-real-problems thing and knocked up a tool -- which countless other people (me included) have already implemented in the past -- to generate what I need... though of course I still need to write the source templates, so it hasn't actually done me any good at all.

Yes, it's another simple static file generator.

This one uses django+yaml to do its stuff. After some cursory investigation it seems there are already a couple of "lightweight static file generators" that do similar things, but frankly none of them seem as lightweight as mine. It's one file, 100-odd lines but ~75% docs, comments and whitespace. It does the job for me, maybe it does the job for someone else. I called it pork.py. Mmm.

I don't go for the github way of doing things, and nor do I tend to go back to something once it reaches a usefulness limit to me personally -- so if by some miracle you do like this and want it to do more, just take it, extend it, publish it, put your name on it, I really don't care.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fuck off. But have a nice weekend!

I got an email yesterday, just after 5pm. It was a rejection email: I won't be working at [some company -- I won't be saying who it was or the names of anyone there]. Great. As if my weekend wasn't bad enough. But really though: why would someone send out a rejection email to a job applicant on a Saturday? That's a genuine question; what follows is an emotional rant about why I think in my individual case it was a fucking horrible thing to do.

First, some context. I've been made redundant, but with a longer than normal consultation period. As soon as I knew the dates involved I formulated a plan: finish work in May, job hunt toward the end of May/in the first 3 weeks of June, then go to Hellfest and Australia, come back, start new job (this plan obviously has some built in confidence/arrogance in it, in that I'll not have any trouble finding a job in May/June).

Then came a spanner in the works. I came across [some company]'s website because I wanted to use their service. I was really quite excited (and I don't get excited very often) to discover they're based in London, and doubly-triply excited to see they had an open vacancy for a role which pretty much read "must be Darren Foreman". The match between the required skills and my CV was (actually, still is) pretty much as good as I could hope for. Add that to the fact it's a company whose product I am massively enthusiastic about and I thought, I have to contact these guys. I can't pass this chance up.

I sent them a couple of emails. In them I was completely upfront about my availability -- I'm not willing to quit during my consultation period, for various reasons. I prodded a friend who, I discovered after sending those emails, works there. He managed to get someone to read and respond to them. So then I had an interview; it was positive, I was even told that my availability matched up with their plans quite well. After the interview I spent a fair while arranging the time to sit a test. I sat the test, and I waited to hear more.

I heard nothing until yesterday. A Saturday. Now, these guys knew full well my eagerness to work there, my wide-eyed enthusiasm about their product and the chance to play a part in it. Yet armed with that knowledge, they rejected me on a Saturday. Why would you send out what you absolutely know is going to be a disappointing message in the middle of a weekend? I honestly can't figure it out, and obviously I'm very fucked off about it (maybe that's a good thing?)

The rejection told me I did not fit a "very specific profile" for the role. On paper the role and my CV/experience are an almost perfect match, so I'm very cynical about that. And with talk of profiles, I wonder why I had to sit the test at all. It seems like I've wasted my time -- and theirs -- and that they got my hopes up for, literally, no good reason.

The rejection also said they'd be hiring more within the next year or two, so I should keep in touch. What gives there? Even given my liking of the product, why would I hang around them waiting for another chance to pimp myself in their directions? If they don't want me when I'm actually available, I can't see why I should or would make myself available for them if they decide to suddenly invent a me-shaped role. And besides, I explained to them in my interview the value I place on stability and two-way loyalty in my career. I like long-term roles. I was at Yahoo! for 8.5 years, and I left to go to another established company with a long-term plan. Of course circumstances change, and at Global Radio they've changed massively and to my detriment, but I am not someone who always keeps an eye and an ear out for other opportunities and roles. I only leave a job if I have to, not because I spy what might be some greener grass. And, crucially, I told them all this.

Yes, I'm emotional about it. It's a bitter disappointment to not get the role, but I can deal with that. I'm a big boy now. But the manner and timing of the rejection just sucks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I fail at maps, directions, and signs

Golf course, originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.

It's true. After my mostly dismal attempt at walking the Thames Down Link the other week, today I tried to walk section 9 of the London Loop. This is, as the name suggests, a "circular" route through the outskirts of London, split into nice simple chunks. Section 9 is between Hatton Cross and Kingston Bridge, and although the recommended route is to walk it in that direction, I wanted to do the opposite, because I'd just seen Ruth off at Heathrow.

So, at 0630, I emerged from Hatton Cross station. I was better prepared than for the Thames Down Link, having done a bit of map reading but also, crucially, printed out the written directions from the official London Loop website. Granted, as said, they were for the reverse route, but surely all I need to do is swap my lefts and rights. Left?

It worked for a bit. I found some signs. They were useful. That was good. Less useful was the rain that started just as I turned off the A30, but in for a penny in for a pound.

I walked next to the River Crane. I followed the next signs. I crossed a road. I carried on next to the river. I went over a weir. I went over a bridge. I came out on a bit of Hounslow Golf Course ... and I was lost.

The instructions say -- "go straight across the golf course, over the bridge, and turn right". Well I'd just turned left, crossed a bridge, and emerged on the golf course, so I went straight across.

I FAIL, originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
No path. Oh. I walked to the right, through a little clearing, then arriving on another hole. Still no path. I walked down the side of the fairway, near the river. No path. Between the fairway and the hole there was a little bridge and then a path. Over the bridge, along the path, up a hill/mound... no, this didn't match what the directions said at all.

Back to the hole, back to the river, no path. Back to where I emerged, facing it, trying to find a way of standing such that behind me was a path. Couldn't do it. Straight across? At which angle? None of them that I could tell. This charade took a good 30 minutes or so, in the pissing rain, and just annoyed me so much. Where were the signs? Where was the path? Why couldn't I find either? So I walked back down the aforementioned fairway, got to the mound again... and spotted a path next to it that I'd missed first time!

Not the right path. It just took me back out of the golf course onto Staines Road -- the road I'd crossed (correctly) back when I was still on course and hugging the River Crane.

On the road there was a knackers yard and some roadworks. Puddles and rain. Loads of traffic. Just horrible. I walked along it, determined to still walk even if I couldn't do it in somewhat nicer surroundings.

Turns out the directions mention that earlier in the route you cross Staines Road. Since earlier meant later for me, I did actually hold out some hope of rejoining the loop if I just persevered along the road.

At the time, there were two crucial things which I had no idea about -- but do now, having plotted the map of my route. First, my route out of the golf course had been a huge double back. The fact I'd crossed Staines Road earlier was a mystery -- it had just been "a road", and sufficiently further along to look very different. I'd lost my sense of direction, sort of.

Second, there are two Staines Roads around the area. I was on the wrong one.

I figured this out, actually, by the time I got to the outer limits of Hounslow town centre. Here I really thought about giving up properly and just jumping on a bus, but two things stopped me from doing that. I knew where I was (and thus which way to go), and the sun was coming out. The weather being as it was, I thought there was a good chance of a rainbow, and I wanted to photograph it.

No rainbow was forthcoming. Instead I just walked to Whitton, used the community toilet scheme, bought a diet coke, found a park with a "River Crane walk" in it and set off back along that damn fucking river -- though not before spending ~5 minutes staring at the map + information board trying desperately to figure out which way would take me toward Twickenham and which back toward Hatton Cross.

I picked right! But I still got really confused. In a day of pairs, I learnt two things about the River Crane walk. One: there are two routes along it, one "via River Crane" and one via something else. Huh? I don't get it. But anyway, two: the "via River Crane" route hardly sticks near the River Crane at all. I thought I'd been typical me and got lost when I didn't see the river for a while, and especially so when I suddenly found myself next to The Stoop and then in some residential roads. Much to my surprise I then saw a "River Crane Walk" sign on a corner...

... but I didn't care. Enough was enough. It was about 0930 now, I'd expected to be at Kingston or Kingstonabouts but I was just north of Twickenham station, opposite Heatham House, venue of -- perhaps -- Halibutt Sharon's finest ever gig (though the Marquee was pretty sweet too). In the spirit of my old band, then, I stood at a bus stop and waited for a bus. For about 2 minutes. And then I went home and made some pork.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sydney Panorama

Sydney Panorama, originally uploaded by Auswomble.

Of all the photos my brother has on flickr, this is one of my favourites. That is all. (OK, it's not quite all -- I also think it's a shame it doesn't quite fit in this post)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Identify the sender of my mystery post

I got some post today. Nothing particularly unusual about that fact. What is out of the ordinary, though, is that one of the items addressed to me was an empty envelope. No indication of who it's from. No return address, no proper (stamped-on) postmark, and obviously enough no contents. There are 3 things which could, I guess, lead in some way to a guess at identifying the poster.

Exhibit A: a number above my name. What could it mean? 132 has no signifiance to me.

Exhibit B: a Royal Mail postage paid "stamp" -- on the sticker which also had my address and the 132. What does SWDO 754 mean? Who uses stickers like this?Exhibit C: a not-quite-barcode thingummy. Means fuck all to me.

Beyond the normal cycle of bills and magazine subscriptions, the only post I'm expecting is a couple of replacement bank statements from HSBC. But they aren't due to arrive for another couple of days, should (I expect) be in an envelope with HSBC's return address on -- like everything else they send out -- and would probably not be addressed solely to Mr Darren Foreman.

So. Er. Anyone?

EDITED TO ADD after a request, here are two more photos.

Exhibit D: the full envelope. It's A4(?). That's a pen on it so you get the size and, as requested, "that 'look'". Hi Chris.
Exhibit E: nothing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Financial institutions and me YET again

Have I ever mentioned how much I fucking hate banks? Oh, yes, I have. Twice. But this is no credit crunch they're-all-bastards-because-people-borrowed-too-much-and-the-media-encouraged-it rant, it's a purely personal rant (again) about how banks seem to treat me like total shit.

If you can be bothered, you can go back and read my previous rants about the fiasco that was my attempt to move from NatWest to Nationwide. Well, this time I'm angry about having moved back to NatWest.

Not that I ever fully left them. Nationwide's team did manage to move my direct debits and standing orders across, in so far as they got them cancelled on the NatWest side. My mortgage bounced -- twice -- from Nationwide though. Sigh. And because of all the other grief they gave me, most particularly lying to me about my credit rating and refusing to give me anything but a Fisher Price "my first bank account" service, I moved back.

The move back had to be manual. I'd never closed my NatWest account, or even moved my salary payment to it. So I had to move all the direct debits back by myself, either online or on the phone. I did them all, I'm sure I did. I remember having a list of them written down and ticking them off as I contacted them. The sooner I got away from Nationwide, after all, the sooner I could stop the standing order which was funding it and close the bastard (not that I've done that last bit just yet).

Since doing so, my Orange direct debit has bounced and I've been cut off with no notice -- on, as it happened, a day when Ruth really needed to get hold of me, from Pakistan (when I finally spoke to her she was in floods of tears). I've now had to set up a direct debit to a credit card instead of the bank, which will cost me an extra £3.50 per month (thank fuck for miles-earning credit cards, though see below for a rant about one of those too).

My Fortean Times subscription has ended, after ~13 uninterrupted years. I'm pretty sure this is because the direct debit has bounced. I've contacted them but had no reply. The password I used to login to subsinfo.co.uk in February (when I went in to sort it out) no longer works.

My TV licence expired and the direct debit to renew it bounced.

My council tax direct debit has bounced. Twice.

Hmm. I'm sure more things have fucked up too, but I can't remember what right now. Too angry I guess. Anyway, I'm fairly certain that what's happened is this: NatWest have seen a bunch of direct debit requests from accounts that were fairly (but not hugely) recently cancelled, and decided to refuse them. But that's bollocks: I've set these things up manually, and it's called a direct debit instruction for a reason. I instruct the bank to do what I fucking say. And at the very least they might want to, y'know, phone me up, write me a letter, send me a message through online banking...

Deep breath. That's enough about NatWest for now. How about we talk about MBNA? Don't get me wrong, mostly they treat me very well (big credit limit etc), but sometimes they do take the piss. My MBNA credit card is an affiliate card with BMI, the airline, so that I can earn miles on all my purchases and then fly in comfort on long holidays. I don't actually fly with BMI at all, but if I did I would earn double the miles on purchases made with them. It's a loyalty card, after all.

In February (or was it March? I forget) I made my first purchase from BMI with my BMI card. Except, oh wait, no I fucking didn't: it failed authorisation. The call centre had to ask me for an alternative card with which to make my payment. And straight after I got off the phone to them, I got a phone call from ... MBNA. Telling me an attempt at a suspicious transaction had just been attempted, so they had emergency cancelled my card and issued me with a new one, new number, new PIN, new the lot.

That's good service, but for the fact that IT'S A BMI BRANDED/PARTNERED CARD AND THE TRANSACTION WAS WITH BMI. For flights! How can that be suspicious!?

I fucking hate banks.

Pay to play

I want to make my PORK shows (and the non-PORK ones I've got planned) available for download. Mixcloud's great, but the few people who listen so far would like an offline version. I want to do this legally, which involves getting a licence.

Amusingly, the costs are (or at least feel) punitive, in that the more popular you are the more it costs. It seems the licensing authorities either want to discourage people from promoting music too much, or encourage them to shove ads in their shows or get sponsorship or whatever. Ho hum. Whatever. I don't expect to be that popular anyway, but it's got my back up that you're essentially forced to whore yourself out (or stop completely) if too many bloody people start listening.

Anyway the upshot is mp3s of my shows will be put up, but only after I'm legal, which means waiting for a response to the email I sent to the PRS's enquiry line, reproduced below. If I get a response I'll probably post that too, though tbh I expect it to come with a huge disclaimer-signature which prohibits me from doing so. And just before the email itself, this is the licence I refer to in it. I think it's going to cost me ~£246 to make the mp3s.

To: onlinelicensing@prsformusic.com
Subject: suitable licence for weekly podcast


I would like to start making available an online weekly "radio" show -- ie, a podcast, downloadable by my audience (not streamed). Each show would contain 10-15 songs, with speech between most but not all songs (some will be played back to back), and I'd expect a maximum of ~100 or so downloads of each show. I won't be running ads, being sponsored, or charging for anyone to listen.

Am I correct in thinking I need a Limited Online Exploitation Licence, band B? If I understand the information on your website correctly, my plans above require this (rather than the podcasting licence), and correspond to a theoretical maximum of 15 x 52 x 100 = 78000 downloaded works per annum.

As you're aware, your fee structure discourages hobbyist music lovers from promoting music (that they've already paid for) to too many people -- ie, becoming even vaguely popular -- by making it prohibitively expensive above a certain audience level. Because of this I presume you can provide me with some advice on how to ensure I don't reach such a level. I need to stop before too many people listen to the music, as it would only take 450 downloads of each show before I go beyond even a band C LOEL, itself a financial stretch too far. Please let me know the recommended way of doing this.

PS I notice this paragraph on www.fairplayforcreators.com:

"Music creators rely on receiving royalties whenever and wherever their work is used. Royalties are vital in nurturing creative music talent. They make sure music creators are rewarded for their creativity in the same way any other person would be in their work."

Most people in their work are paid a wage or salary, not commission. For example, I'm a web developer, and I don't get paid more if more people look at my employer's website. But don't let that stop you.

Thanks in advance,


Sunday, April 12, 2009

mixcloud invites

Turns out one of the founders of mixcloud likes what I have to say about it. Check the comment on my "radio darrenf" post. Very flattering -- especially the positive comment about the quality of my show(s), which, let me be honest, is a bit of a surprise. I'm well aware of the, shall we say, niche appeal of the music I've so far been playing, and I can't really envisage, based on what I know about the fella, him really getting into a bit of grind. ;-) Nonetheless, a compliment's a compliment and I'm grateful for any and all that come my way. Cheers!

I'm not going to write much about mixcloud itself. There's a more thorough examination elsewhere, or you could just read their own about pages, but the short version -- and what's got me so excited personally -- is this: anyone can be a DJ. Make a mix, or radio show-esque recording, and upload it: job done. Somehow the murky legal world of licensing the tunes you play (the obstacle that has stopped me from doing this before now) are dealt with for you. You create, others listen (online, no downloading).

I can't wait for it to come out of invite-only mode. But while I, er, wait for it to come out of invite-only mode, something else has my way come. From the founder bloke. Not just the complimentary comment, but my own personal 50-strong invite code to give out. As I said earlier on twitter, preference for them should really go to people who actually want to listen to my show -- if not for the music, then for the sparkling banter between the filth and fury (this is an exercise in epic narcissism after all, even if that is at odds with my disdain for self-promotion) -- but since I don't know many people who care much for either of those things I thought, fuck it, might as well just post it on here.

The code itself is gloriously simple and corresponds awesomely with my recent attempt at fashioning a consolidated online identity: it's darrenf. See what's happened there?

So if you fancy:
  • listening to death metal, grindcore, and a fat cockney bloke swearing (me, here); or
  • listening to dance music of various sub-genres, including "fidget", "glitch" and "wobble" (I'm not making this up -- but I guess it's no worse than thrash/speed/death/technical death/black/grindcore/goregrind/...); or
  • uploading your own mixes/shows of any sort of music (doesn't everyone want to be a DJ? no?)
get yerself over to mixcloud's sign-up page and tell 'em darrenf sent you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Journalistic licence

I've just finished reading Crack House: The Incredible True Story Of The Man Who Took On London's Crack Gangs And Won. It's a great read, really enjoyed it, very well written, and right up my street. I love a bit of true crime, me, always have done ever since getting a load of books from "The World's ... " series, eg The World's Most Infamous Murders, when I were a nipper. (They weren't all about crime -- think the first one I got was The World's Greatest Mistakes -- but a lot of 'em were. I used to hunt for them in the second-hand bookshops in North Camp, and it was while so doing I found a first edition of James Herbert's The Rats for something like 40p. Seemed like a big deal back then.)

Anyway - before I finished Crack House, I was chatting to my bro on Yahoo! Messenger about it and sent him a link, in a typical "I'm reading this at the moment..." conversation. The page I sent him was this one, from what appears to be the site of some company officially associated with the book (though I can't see them mentioned anywhere in/on the book itself). Either way, it has a long bit of spiel about it, and contains this sentence near the bottom:
Every single one of the UK’s most tragic, appalling and senseless gun murders since 2000 are crack related.
Kevin picked up on that. I think his reaction was "fucking hell", and quite right too. But... on the way home last night I finished the last chapters, and something rang a bell. It was this sentence, on pages 249 and 250:
It seems as though every single one of the UK's most tragic, appalling and senseless murders since 2000 have been crack related.
Now, hold on a minute here. There's a big fucking difference between they have and it seems as though they have! That's bloody outrageous; and here was me thinking integrity is non-negotiable...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

radio darrenf

EDITED AFTER POSTING: holy crap, loads of this is virtually identical to a post I wrote in August! Oops. Ah well, if you did actually read my blog back then, just skip to the bottom where I'm trying to drum up listeners. Ahem.

I think I've always wanted to be a DJ. Not a club DJ, or a between-sets-at-gigs DJ, but a radio/broadcast DJ. Someone who talks between and about the music they play, and has a listenership. This probably stems from growing up listening to the radio a lot. And wanting to be popular, of course.

When my bro' was first given licence to stay at home at weekends (where previously the whole family would up sticks and head to Mytchett), I was given the same licence. So while he was 18 -- or was it 16? -- when our folks gave him keys, I earned it 4.5 years earlier purely 'cos he was there to look after me. What I remember most about those weekends is having Capital Radio on all morning.

GLR/Radio London was on a lot -- Sunday evenings had a dance music show hosted by a fat bloke called Steve, from whom Kevin once won a bunch of vinyl. One of the albums had This Brutal House by Nitro Deluxe on it, still one of my favourite dance tunes. Straight after, or maybe a couple of hours later, there was Krusher's rock show. I remember him having Tom Araya on there once, picking his favourite tunes to play, and being aghast as he chose The Doors and other stuff like that. He claimed he didn't listen to metal: there wasn't much point, since he was in the best metal band around, so it would all be worse than the stuff he played each day. Fair point, Tom.

Another Tom, Tommy Vance, used to do the Friday Night Rock Show on Radio 1. I used to fall asleep with that on after coming back from the local rock club night in Morden, though more often I would set a D90 going to record it and then listen to it on my walkman the next day on the way to working in the Co-Op. Christ, what a lifetime away that was.

Charts. We used to listen to those a lot. The official chart show, or the network chart show -- think we flip-flopped over then the latter was invented, as the show seemed a bit more fun than the somewhat staid Radio 1 presentation of the former. But maybe we just kept swapping? That's just the weekly chart though -- not the best chart of the year, which was the Christmas countdown on Capital Radio. If I recall correctly, they used to play 500 songs as voted for by the listening public as being their favourite songs ever, each day between 0900 and 1700, for about 3 weeks(?) leading up to Christmas Day or Boxing Day or New Year's Eve or summat. In the years I listened to it, the top 10 seemed to have a few stalwarts - Layla, Hey Jude, Me & Mrs Jones, ... - and at least one piece of toss that had been pretty popular in the last year.

Sunday mornings for a while involved listening to Chris Evans, again on Radio London/GLR. He was outrageously funny, the sort of show where you didn't want to get up and out of bed because it most likely meant you had to turn the radio off and miss some of it. Russell Brand was that funny a few years later on 6music; Russell Howard's similar, but just not quite as good (which is probably why he's only progressed to Mock The Week, rather than full-on international stardom, so far).

Damn it. I started writing this just to boast about being a DJ in my own right, finally, thanks to the time-shifting wonders of the internet, audio encoding, podcasting, ubercaster, and specifically mixcloud.com. But instead I've veered into a huge reminiscence about how much radio means to me, and that's taken me by surprise. It still does mean a lot to me as well: I bought a DAB last year and love listening to the BBC World Service (knowing the shit that's going on in the world keeps my feet on the ground, I feel; more recently it's been a handy way to find out what's going on in Islamabad. I'd really rather it wasn't, though). And this in turns makes me sad, because I work for Global Radio right now. This is the company that owns, among others, my childhood friend Capital Radio (sorry - I mean 95.8 Capital FM). I finally work in radio, in music, so having been made redundant is not something I've taken lightly. Oh well.

So, back to boasting. Like I just said, I'm now a DJ! mixcloud.com -- if you can get an invite, as it's in a private beta mode right now -- is a site which lets you publish and/or listen to DJ mixes, shows, etc: anything with 5 or more songs really. It's mostly aimed at the dance crowd for now but I'm attempting to infiltrate that, starting with my debut grindcore/death metal show called PORK. I made one episode last weekend, loved it, and have had universally positive (if somewhat limited) feedback. So I'm going to make another one this weekend.. hopefully.

Will more than about 10 people, most of whom I know personally, ever listen? I'm not sure, but I'm also not sure I care.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Him outdoors

Found it again, finally
Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
I left the house today.

That shouldn't be worthy of a mention by and of itself, but unfortunately it is. Almost every weekend, and certainly those while Ruth's away, I spent almost the entire time in the house. Farting about on the internet, watching Sky Sports, or playing on the 360. And every time I do those things -- which I enjoy, don't get me wrong -- I chastise myself for wasting the plentiful opportunities Saturdays and Sundays afford me to get some exercise (because even more frequently than that, I chastise myself for being a fat fuck).

And so, today, after chatting with Ruth for a bit on Skype, I left the house and got some exercise. Specifically, I went out to give the Thames Down Link walk a bit of a go.

The route map, and other write-ups I've read, are all in the direction of Kingston to Box Hill. Muggins here knows better though, and decided to do it in reverse. I figured I didn't want to get to the end of the route a horrible sweaty mess and piss people off on the bus back, plus I coudn't really control what time I'd finish and didn't like the idea of waiting up to an hour for the bus home. So I got the bus there instead, "there" being Box Hill.

Plenty of other people had the same idea. It was a nice morning, after all. Though as it happens, despite my prediction only 2 other people got off at the same bus stop as me, one of them being the muttering drunk of indeterminate gender (by the end of the journey I was fairly sure it was a bloke).

That said, I got off one or two bus stops too late, right next to the biker pub at Box Hill. There were shitloads of bikers around, and I struggled to find the start of the route. I started off up the hill itself until I got about halfway and thought, hold on, this is really knackering and it might actually be too steep to come back down sensibly, unless someone rolls some cheese maybe. I descended gingerly and took out my two GPS phones to give them a run against each other. The Sony Ericsson c905 wouldn't even try to get a signal so it loses. The HTC TyTn II got a signal after a couple of minutes.

Into the biker pub car park. Which was the wrong way to go. So I crossed the road a 3rd time and consulted a map, which showed me where the start was: a bus stop's distance back towards Surbiton. Headed along the pavement to the junction where it was and realised my calves were hurting. Really hurting. Not good. I was really worried I'd fucked them by not really warming up, and heading half way up that hill a few minutes ago. But I also thought that they'd sort themselves out, and I persevered.

They killed for the next 40 minutes. I kept stopping to rub them, stretch them, rest them, try to make them stop hurting despite not really having a clue about how the body (especially mine) works. Oh dear. But, slowly, as the track levelled out and I adjusted my pace the pain went away and I started to feel decent: worked up a sweat, heart going a bit faster than normal, lungs nice and open, this was what I was after.

Most of the first 3 miles were uphill. I wasn't really prepared for that. I figured a route from a hill to a river would, well, be mostly downhill. Oh well.

I hadn't taken a map with me, because I don't own one nor a printer, and because everything I'd read said it would be well signposted. And so it was, for a while, until I got to Ashtead. The path became a pavement along a road full of really really posh houses, but then the signs disappeared. There were 2 bridleways, the signpost for one had a Thames Down Link sign pointing back the way I came, but there was nowt around showing me the way to go. Bollocks.

Thankfully I was near Ashtead town centre, which I know my way around. and I'd remembered that the route goes through Ashtead Common, in which I went the wrong way. Big style. There are loads of paths, I didn't find one displaying the logo, and I failed to follow the one I'd meant to stick to anyway. Unexpectedly, I emerged on the A243 to Malden Rushett. The 465 route. I was expecting to be in the Epsom/Ewell borders, near the entrance to Horton Country Park. Sigh.

This is where the walk stopped being fun really. Not that it matters too much -- I was out to get exercise for exercise's sake, not to see anywhere or anything special, but still...once I made my way back onto the route -- about an hour later, FFHS -- there were plenty of signs. About every 25 yards for a while, in a place where you really don't actually need them because there's not much choice. Thanks for that. Then, when I reached the loos and information centre I found (and photographed!) a big sign about the very walk I was doing, complete with YOU ARE HERE market and a route map.

As soon as I turned away from that sign, I went the wrong way. Spent the next half hour or more strolling along roads and around pavements. I suck SO MUCH at using maps. I did eventually find my way back into the park, but still no signs, and wandered along paths I thought were in the right direction. Once again I emerged nowhere near where I wanted to be. And that was it: time to do a Paula Radcliffe.