No words today, moving pictures instead.


I appeared on the radio last night. It was a minor appearance. All I had to do was read out three lines of text over the phone, to be recorded and played later. Simple (you would think).

One of the people from the radio station called me. We had a brief chat and then he switched the recorder on. I began to read the lines out, and found that words came tumbling from my mouth at supersonic speed and in no particular order. "Never mind", said the nice man at the other end of the phone, "have another go, maybe a little slower".

I tried again. I spoke more deliberately this time, and though my voice was slower and clearer, it sounded as if I was wholly unfamiliar with the words in front of me or, in fact, any words at all. This was unfortunate, as I had written them.

I had a third attempt. This time the words came out with the correct emphasis and in the correct order. We had another brief chat - I had suddenly regained the ability to talk out loud - and, with a racing heart, and a slightly shaky hand, I hung the phone up. I was relieved that I had avoided sounding like a total imbecile.

A couple of hours later they used the clip. It was a bit mumbly, a bit tense, a bit fast and a bit monotone. I know what I sound like when I'm speaking normally and that isn't it. I didn't mind though, I was happy that it was over and I could relax. It wasn't the best delivery of three lines ever, but it would do. Then a man called Bri McIntosh said it sounded like I had been growling into a bucket.

From this experience I have learned that reading out loud is surprisingly difficult and I will never mock anybody on the radio ever again (well, at least for an afternoon).


Newcastle United Relegation Downfall Parody

This is fantastic. The barn door line made me laugh eighteen times at least.


Beware the occasional driver.

There are many reasons my wife and I do not own a car and when I have more time I will blog about them. As you can see I have a licence to drive. It is a very recent acquisition - I didn't learn to drive until I was in my thirties. I only learned because not having learned to drive was becoming a social stigma. I use it infrequently. I think it is also fair to say that my wife and I are not natural motorists.

Where do you drive to? The shops? The cinema multiplex? The suburbs? Ikea? I drive to none of these places. When I drive, I drive to Brighton.

The fact is that it is cheaper for two people to hire and fuel a car for five days and travel from York to Brighton in it, than it is for them to get there by train. The conversation during which I exclaimed "But we don't want to buy the train, we just want to ride on it for a bit" was the last straw and now when we go on a long journey in the U.K., it is often by car.

The nice people at Enterprise have given us this
one. Please give it plenty of space. It will contain a bewildered looking couple, the driver will be arguing with the Satellite Navigation device and frantically trying to work out the windscreen wipers/headlights/heater/brakes, the passenger will be frenetically cross-stitching and chain-eating travel sweets in order to divert her attention from the horrifying speed of motorway traffic and the shouting, arm waving, button jabbing madman to her right. Also, please leave us a large space when we get there, I haven't parallel parked since I passed my driving test.
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Today, a video!

It would appear that I'm trying to demonstrate that all of my friends are more interesting and talented than I am. This is not my intention. I just thought I'd treat you to the video for the forthcoming Merchandise single, Lies Like These.

This is...Merchandise

Lies Like These - Merchandise from Andrew Dubber on Vimeo.

I've seen Brad in many late night eating establishments, and I can assure you that this has never happened before. You can read about Andrew Dubber's wonderfully innovative (and cheap) video here. It goes to show that imagination is a valuable resource that we often overlook. You might say that his elegantly simple music video is a lo-tech solution to a high-tech problem.

You can also read some of the Salford Advertiser coverage here, and enjoy a food based joke of mine in the comments section. The long awaited (they started it when the Labour government was popular) third Merchandise album, For The Masses, will be out later this year.

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There is nothing to see here. Go there instead.


Beware of Greeks bearing discs.

I had the pleasure of listening to my friend Aspa on the radio earlier this evening. We were at university together more years ago than either of us would willingly admit. She has always had a passion for music and brilliant musical taste (I still have some of her cassettes) so it comes as little surprise that she finally has a vehicle to air this.

Today’s programme was her second, so it wasn’t perfect. Every time she faded her microphone in there was a humming which meant that I couldn’t understand a word she said – well, that and the fact that she broadcasts in Greek - the audio quality was a little patchy too. Technical difficulties aside, the show was very enjoyable. The themed playlist (summer, sea, and sunshine) featured a broad array of music and had tracks by Big Brother And The Holding Company, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Beach Boys and the Stones, which was all fine by me.

The show, which is broadcast from Chios (don’t panic, I’ve provided a map), will become a regular fixture in the Chios FM schedule from September, and will appear sporadically until then. There will be a different musical theme for each show. You’ll be able to find her in the schedules under the name Ασπασία Ματθαίου - now you know why everyone calls her Aspa.


Rejoice, the barometer is safe.

I live in York.  It is a culturally rich, vibrant and interesting place.  It is the 24th most populous city in England.  You would expect that in a busy, well populated city that there would be a lot of interesting things to write about, and you would be correct.  The panoply of York life is an abundant source of a variety of newsworthy stories.  So what have our local journalists been writing about recently?

A little over three weeks ago a barometer was stolen from Fairfax House, a York museum.  In the last three weeks, there have been six – yes SIX – stories in the York Press about the barometer theft.  We have had the barometer theft, the police appeal for witnesses to the barometer theft, a second police appeal for witnesses to the barometer theft four days after the first (!), a valuation of the barometer, a self-congratulatory return of the barometer article and today, the arrest of a woman over the theft of the barometer.  The same picture of the grinning museum director holding the barometer has appeared in the paper for the last two days.

Please, please, York Press, stop writing about the barometer theft.  I am heartily sick of hearing about the barometer.  Something else - not related to the barometer - must be happening somewhere in York.  I may, if I have to read another article about the barometer, be provoked into a rage fuelled spree of barometer vandalism, which would, ironically, cause you to write even more barometer stories than you have already.  Please, I beseech you, for the sake of my sanity, never, ever mention the barometer again.


The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.

Five friends and I attempted the twenty five miles and three mountains that is the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge yesterday.  Here’s a report on how everybody fared.


An hour and a half into the walk Andrew arrived at the top of the first peak - half an hour after the rest of the party.  His pallid complexion was an alarming combination of light and dark grey.  With Mark’s assistance he struggled through the descent and walked to the nearest train station, where he caught the Andrew Special back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale.  From this we learn that the Yorkshire Three Peaks is not the way to recuperate from a serious chest infection.

“I didn’t think it would be this hard.” - At the top of the first peak, one that he has climbed before.



Bees performed wholly as predicted.  Despite being the oldest member of the party by some considerable margin, he yomped up and down the peaks like a mountain goat.  He spent more time waiting for the rest of us to join him at summits than he did ascending them.  When we eventually joined him at the top of the third peak, he had acquired a stick and seemed to have grown a short beard.  He accomplished the Three Peaks with seemingly no effort or pain, he claimed to have a blister but I suspect that was to make the rest of us feel less inadequate.  As usual, he disgraced himself with his bizarre taste in outdoor apparel, which appears to be worsening.

“I think I should put on my under-hat.” - No, I didn’t know what an under-hat was either.  I wish I still didn’t.



Brad arrived at the first summit noting that he’d found the climb quite hard work.  He then proceeded to vomit his breakfast over a surprisingly large area, and announced that with its ingredients of coffee, toast and cereal, it tasted like a breakfast smoothie.  After this shaky start he recovered well and, despite the pain and exhaustion that most of us shared, completed the Three Peaks uneventfully.  He retains his World’s Slowest Man Down A Hill title, managing to maintain a downhill speed only marginally faster than glacial motion.  He does this through fear of being awarded the World’s Fastest Man Down A Hill title.

“I’m going to cover the area where the sun doesn’t shine.” – On entering the bathroom with a jar of Vaseline.  I don’t believe that he was referring to Yorkshire.



Hayley was the only lady in the party.  She hadn’t done much serious walking or gone up too many mountains before and was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to complete the course.  After about two hours she noted that the freezing conditions, combined with the strong winds and stinging raindrops had caused her to suffer quite a serious injury to her hair.  She ascended all of the peaks more quickly than some of her more experienced companions (me), and made less fuss about the effort required than some of her more experienced companions (me again).  On the descent from the final peak she calmly announced that she’d never walked a distance of twenty five miles before.  When not leaping buildings in a single bound she can be found in her local branch of Superdrug, emptying the shelves of Frizz-Ease.

“It was really great to spend a day with you guys – NEVER AGAIN!” – On learning that men smell, swear a lot, and do some very bizarre things in the name of fun.



That would be me.  There's no photo, I'm only allowed five.  This jaunt was my idea, I apologise to all concerned.  It was the hardest physical thing that I have ever done.  I climbed slowly (as usual) and descended reasonably quickly, though gingerly (strained left hamstring).  I completed the course despite my shameful sense of direction, fear of wild animals – there were uncaged sheep and cows - and my vertigo (which obliged me to crawl up most of the third peak).  Alone on the long descent from the third peak, secure in the knowledge that I would soon complete the course, I thought of the difficulty of the thing that we had just accomplished and actually shed tears.

“For my next birthday we’re doing something in the pub.”


Mark, the baby of the group, is Andrew’s younger brother.  Once the Andrew Special had borne away its ailing cargo and he was freed from the obligation of filial loyalty he set about the rest of the walk with some trepidation.  Though an experienced walker and walker up stuff he had never attempted a challenge as arduous as this.  He struggled on the climb up the second peak and, when we stopped for tea before the ascent of the third peak, attempted to die.  Fortunately he recovered and valiantly went on to complete the challenge in much pain and with a left hamstring injury to match my own.

“I only came because I thought that if Andrew could do it, it must be easy.” – on realising that the challenge ahead was more daunting that he had originally suspected. 


I'm an idiot.

I’m an idiot.  I’m not the moon faced, dribbling sort that you see in images of Bedlam.  Nor am I the besmocked yokel, who points at motor cars and hot air balloons in wonderment variety either.  I’m the type of idiot who will act capriciously on a whim.  An idea will momentarily take my fancy and I will act upon it, heedless of the potential consequences.  I first became aware of this on a playschool outing to Twycross Zoo.  There was a sign warning visitors not to put their hands through the wire.  I read this and wondered why.  Then I stuck my hand through the wire.  A large ostrich attached its beak to my right index finger and refused to let go for five long minutes.  It hurt a lot.  I was three years old.

As I have grown older I have become more self-aware.  Consequently, I take my idiocy more seriously these days.  As a defence mechanism, I surround myself with friends who are more sensible than I am (it’s quite a low bar).  I rely on them to dissuade me from pursuing fleeting fancies, to ensure that I don’t get into too much trouble.  The role of my friends can be clearly defined – stop the idiot.  This system usually works quite well, and my friends, with the wonderful support network that they provide, have saved me from myself on more than one occasion.  I have even learned from them, and sometimes I provide a reciprocal service.  Once, my friend Bees suggested that we should journey from the source of the Thames to the Thames Estuary in a canoe – for fun!  After some deliberation I was able to advise him that this was a stupid idea, and that he was an idiot.  I had stopped the idiot.  It was a breakthrough for me, I had proved that I was aware of, and could act to halt, idiocy.  I even began to fancy that I had conquered idiocy.  This was a mistake.  I had let my guard down.  I had become complacent, with disastrous consequences.

Some time ago, late one night, in the pub, I suggested that it would be a good idea to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk - a 25 mile journey which includes climbing three mountains in under twelve hours.  Of course what my friends should have done at that point is stop the idiot.  They could have said something like “No Marc, you’re an idiot”, and that would have been that.  What actually happened is that I suggested the walk and they said “that’s a good idea”, “great”, “that sounds like fun”.  A total of five people have taken leave of their senses and will be walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks with me this weekend.  I’m an idiot and so, apparently, are my friends.



Hi, my name’s Marc and this is my blog.  This is my first post so I thought I would ease myself in gently by welcoming you to the blog and by explaining why I have started it.

Welcome to the blog.

I’m a bit of a polymath or, more accurately, a generalist - I have many interests and dabble in many things.  I’ve always enjoyed writing yet don’t do it regularly enough, and recently I’ve begun to realise how much I miss doing it.  I have been micro-blogging and posting a lot on the internet and I was enjoying it tremendously.  Then I wrote a rather wordy piece in the comments section of a friend’s blog and he suggested that I should start my own, I believe the subtext was “…and stop spamming the comments section of my blog with your bizarre utterances”.  That planted the germ of an idea in my head and, undeterred by the cruel slight, this is the result.

From this blog you can expect just about anything except punctuality and posts about knitting.  Some of the things that you are likely to see are posts about my cat, beer reviews, photographs, cycling stuff, friends who are more interesting and talented than me, links to fun and interesting stuff, American literature, musical things, and hopefully some wit and wisdom of my own.

I have prepared a Frequently Asked Questions list to help you, the reader.




Does writing a blog make you an egomaniac?

It does not.  It is not the cause of my egomania, it is merely a symptom.

Will reading your blog be a valuable learning experience?

Yes.  You will learn many, many important things, mostly about my cat.

Will you be using your blog to show us your pictures and your videos?

That’s a great idea, thanks.  Yes, seeing as you asked so nicely.


Why should I read your blog?

You already are.


Is it safe to stare directly at your blog?

Only if suitably equipped with Ray-Bans.


Can your blog cause unwanted pregnancies?

That is extremely unlikely, read it at your own risk though.


Would you like a glass of sparkling water?

Yes please.


If I leave your blog in the car, with the windows closed on a hot, sunny day will it die?

No, but it may smell a bit.


Are you aware that asking and answering your own questions makes you look a bit crazed?

I have become gradually aware of that, but having started, I feel compelled to continue.


If, when you come to upload this, it fails to upload will your second blog be entitled “A Blog Ate My Homework”?



Would you welcome questions from readers in the comments section below?

I would.  I have run out of questions now but appear to have several answers left over.