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Being a pharmacist, I see a lot of prescriptions. When you see a prescription you see a number of things – the patient’s name, the medicine they’ve been prescribed, the directions, the quantity – lots of things. One of these things is the patient’s address. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. In Guernsey, it’s kind of a big deal.

You see, whoever came up with the address system over here thought to themselves, “we could just opt for the standard house number, street, postcode approach…but where’s the creativity in that?”. In Guernsey you name your house. And you name your house whatever the hell you want. Your house does not have a number, it does not want to be just another statistic on Mill Street, or should I say rue du moulin – every street is in French, it has a name and you’d better address it (pun fully intended) by it’s proper title. To give a few examples (whilst maintaining confidentiality) I’ve seen football club names, other town or city names, seasons and literally made-up words similar to BindyBandyBoo.

And the thing is – when you move house and the previous owner has called your new place something you don’t like, you just change it. Just tell the post office and next thing you know your crib is known as The Candy Shop. That’d be a great line in da club. Oh, damn, two 50-Cent references in quick succession. Actually, don’t call your house that. I actually saw a sweet shop in town on Saturday called The Candy Shop so that could lead to all sorts of disappointments. This is the only photo of it I could find. Candy Shop manager Lee Crocker is one of many against the proposed changes to the tobacco legislation, due to be debated in the States today.

Annoyingly, those aren’t even sweetie cigarettes.

I’ve said enough. I’ll get thinking of a better house name…

Ok so first up, yeah this blog actually does still exist. Thank christ my login details were automatically still saved from four years ago when I last wrote something here. A couple of mates said it’d be a worthwhile thing to do, blog about moving away to a tiny island in the middle of the English channel by myself where I don’t know anyone. So, hey, let’s give it a go.

The very first thing I noticed after driving off the ferry is that Guernsey has the tiniest, most windy, could-be-someone’s-driveway road system I have ever encountered. I had been told the roads were small beforehand, but I didn’t fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. The thing is, if you miss a turn it’s not quite as simple as just taking the next turn and coming back. No, the next turn inevitably tends to lead you to an unmarked cul-de-sac or like I mentioned, someone’s front door. Anyway, two hours later after a journey which should have taken me fifteen minutes absolute max, I make it to my apartment. It’s really nice. Time to relax. Time to sit down. Time, to empty my bowels. The great thing about the third thing is that it incorporates the first two as well. They don’t call me Mr Efficient for nothing. I get the job done. I’m relaxed. It doesn’t last long. Relaxation leaves my body as quickly as the matter in the toilet bowl beneath me. There is no toilet roll. Half my worldy posessions are packed in my car – toilet roll is not one of them. I do the only thing I can think of – text Niamh. “Use a sock?” she suggests, chuckling away at my situation. No. I check under the sink in the bathroom. Theres a scouring brush and a container of spray bleach. No good. I hobble to the kitchen, trousers round my ankles, praying to St Peter Port the landlord doesn’t give a friendly tap at the front door to say hello. Kitchen roll! YES! I’m saved.

Aside from its road system and lack of basic household goods provided to incoming guests (I should add at this point that in the apartment, was left for me a loaf of bread, a litre of milk and some butter – none of which I consider suitable for wiping one’s arse), Guernsey is a truly, truly, beautiful place. On Friday I met with an ex-colleague of Dave’s, Lisa, who is a Guernsey native. She gave me a tour around the main centre of the island – “town” as it’s known. It’s the bit near the ferry terminal where all the main shops, bars, restauarants etc are. We then met her family who were all super friendly and welcoming and headed up to their house for a cup of tea and a chat. It was really nice to be made to feel so welcome so quickly. Lisa then took me on a walk round the coast where the views were quite simply stunning. I’ll say no more and just show you a few pictures.

Fermain Bay Fermain Bay

Pretty, pretty, pretty good eh?

 

I’ll wrap it up for now. There will be more to follow, I hope. Please leave this blog remembering the beauty of the island and not a man in his late twenties struggling with a visit to the toilet.

2010 – how was it for you?

Hi! Remember me? I used to blog here like ages ago. I’m back and I’ve something to say. Just as well really, or else this blog would be pretty empty. My good mate Andy put this idea into my head and he has written his own end of year review for all to see right here. So, in the format of A-Stoth PhD, let’s begin.

What, for you, was the high point of 2010? Were there any other highlights?

Leaving my old job. I’ve only realised since leaving and working in my new job how much my previous work really got me down. The staff were great and I still love them all to pieces, but I put up with so much shit for far too long and really got myself down. Kirsty, a pharmacist there said to me before I left after I said I was quite nervous about starting a new job, “you’ll be absolutely fine. You’re extremely competent and know exactly what’s going on, so don’t worry.” Those few words actually meant so much to me. And I’m not quoting them now to blow my own trumpet, but they gave me a real sense of belief in myself that I had never, not once got, since I started working there. So, thanks Kirsty 🙂

Another high point was seeing Faithless live in Edinburgh. The word euphoric is the only one I can use to describe the feelings I had during that gig. Incredible.

And not forgetting an epic road trip to Brighton with Dave and Laura. Despite much reluctance from me beforehand about driving nearly the entire length of Britain, we had a great time. I even got propositioned by a man in a gay club. That’s not one of the high points – I cannot stress that enough.

What, for you, was the low point of 2010?

Again, unfortunately, my previous job! I guess I’m a little bit annoyed with myself for not doing something sooner about it. But me being the kind of person who doesn’t make rash decisions decided to hold off and see if things would improve, and they didn’t.

To try and get away from job stuff, another low point was our letting agents in our flat taking over 3 months to fix a leaky tap that meant water kept pissing out from under the kitchen sink. In the end it took some guy all of about 10 seconds to screw something a bit tighter. Infuriating!

Tell me some things you learned this year.

I have a fungal toenail infection.

Don’t judge a club by it’s reputation – Lava and Ignite RULES!

When drunk I really love leaving people answerphone messages.

Never buy shoe cleaning products from a guy at Floridian outlet mall’s at full price due to guilt.

Wayne Rooney is a greedy bastard.

Who would be your “person of 2010″? It could be someone you know or a famous person who’s inspired you.

Hmm, hard one. I’d say probably… Dave Wark! For being a great friend, flatmate and guy in general. Since I’ve moved to Edinburgh the only way I’ve gotten to know so many people is because Dave has taken me under his wing and into his friendships. He has always been here to listen to me complain about crap and help me out. He’s being a ballbag right now though and abandonning me on New Years in order to pursue his love of a girl. So count yourself lucky mate that you’ve been alright the rest of the year. Seriously though, couldn’t have asked for a better chum!

What was the best film you saw this year?

What do you mean you haven’t listened to the podcast yet where we review our top 5 movies of 2010?! Get over there right now and give some film love to your ears! For the sake of the deaf, and only the deaf, it was  The Social Network.

And what was the worst?

My son my son what have ye done? Took me a while to think of what all I’d seen. But when I remembered I had seen this piece of crap it instantly got put down. Saw it in the Edinburgh film festival, it came out in cinemas later in the year. I don’t even remember what exactly it’s about. All I remember is that it sucks. A lot.

What was the best book you read?

Easily “Bad Science” by Ben Goldacre. And easily one of the best books I have ever read. It completely tears apart myths and media hype about medicines, supplements and health in general. It is really easy to follow and understand and makes you want to get up and do something about ‘bad science’. Cue me writing a letter to Pharmacy in Focus (NI pharmacy magazine) a month later responding to another pharmacist’s views on homeopathy!

What was the best thing you saw on TV?

Derren Brown Investigates. Especially as “psychic medium” Joe Power got absolutely destroyed and ended up looking like a tit. And also Derren Brown’s special “Hero at 30,000 feet”. If DB is on TV, chances are I will love it. In terms of something brand new I enjoyed immensely a series on BBC called La La Land. It really made me laugh a LOT during some extremely cringe worthy moments! It’s about a guy called Marc Wootton who plays 3 different characters trying to make it big in Los Angeles – kind of a Borat-style thing where the people who he meets don’t know he’s a character. Very entertaining!

What, for you, was the sporting highlight of 2010?

St Patrick FC vs Rest of the World FC at Meadowbank Sports Centre, March 17th 2010! I don’t have many actually for 2010 seeing as Man Utd didn’t win the Premiership and got knocked out of the Champions league semi-final. Also NI or ROI didn’t qualify for the world cup and England got put out easily. So far this year I guess it’s been nice seeing Liverpool do so awful in the league 🙂

What was the best album or song you heard in 2010? What song did you play most?

Album – I will say Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster. Just because there is tune after tune of party hits on that bad boy. 2 songs off the new Faithless album as well I really like and play a lot are “Not Going Home” and “Sun to me”. I have yet to listen to the new Good Charlotte and Black Eyed Peas albums though – and both of them I gotta feeling, will be good ones.

What are you looking forward to in 2011?

Becoming fitter, taking more opportunities and if I want something – going for it with less reluctance. Also, going to Florida with my mum, dad and sister all of us together next June.

Now…you’re turn!

Edinburgh festival plans

So the fest is almost upon us and there are literally thousands of shows to see. I’ve booked some already but have lots more in mind to see. So, if you live in Edinburgh, or even if you don’t, check out this list and if you see anything you’re interested in, get in touch and we can go have some fun!

Ali Cook – 21:45, £11 – magic show

Damion Larkin – 13:20, £5 – up and coming young comedian

Daniel Sloss – 18:40, £6 – up and coming young comedian

Emo Philips – 20:00, £14 – long established funny American comedian

Jack Whitehall – 19:15, £10 – fresh faced English comedian, been on loads of panel shows – nearly sold out completely

Jim Jeffries – 22:20, £14 – raw, American comedian

Lies, trickery and deceit – 19:30, free – magic show

Morgan and West – 15:45, £8.50 – pair of young magicians I saw last year, very good, funny and charming

Pete Firman – 19:10, £12 – magician and comedian

Check out info about all the acts here.

Cheers!

PS – I haven’t put any dates down because most of the shows are on every day throughout August. So I’m quite flexible.

999 call

At around 2:30am last night I was woken from a peaceful slumber by the sound of smashing glass outside my window down on the street below. Thinking nothing of it I rolled over and tried to fall back asleep again. A few minutes later another massive smash and a couple of “yeeeooo’s” (standard practice after any smash) from outside. I get up, roll up the blind covering my window and have a look down at the street to see just what in the hell was going on. I see a bag of smashed bottles that had been chucked into the middle of the road from the window of the flat directly across the street from my building. There’s a concerned young guy on his phone trying to get a taxi I think, with one eye concentrating on the window where the bottles got launched from. I say one eye on the window, I mean he was watching his back – he wasn’t some cross eyed freak with eyes pointing in seperate directions. A minute or two later two guys from the bottle-chucking-flat come down to the street laughing their drunken asses off at the smash in the middle of the road they have created, and also at the fact that the guy waiting for the taxi is having to phone another one because the one he was about to get into just pissed off when the smashing started taking place! (I think that’s what happened).

So I don’t even know why they were chucking stuff out their window. I think some sort of party was going down, they got a bit hammered and started, as you do, chucking stuff out the window. I don’t think it was directed at the guy in the street. Anyway, the guys from the flat are on the street stumbling about, loving their work while concerned taxi guy keeps away and stands down the street a bit. At this stage I decide everything is alright and try and go back to sleep again. 5 minutes later I hear a load of shouting and a girl screaming at the top of her voice, “what are you doing?!? STOP!!” I jump out of bed (I think I actually rolled but anyway) put my glasses on, roll up the blind, look onto the street and the two guys from the flat are beating the crap out of taxi guy! Like literally he’s lying down in the middle of the road while these two dickheads are kicking him in the head and body! Girls from the flat are screaming for them to stop, a passer by I think rushed in to try and break it up only to get his ass kicked as well. I honestly felt like I was in the middle of the Projects in Baltimore and Omar was about to appear with a shotgun (that’s a reference to the Wire for all you uninitiated). It was surreal! Right about now I get on the phone to the police. I dialled 999. This was my first 999 experience. I had hoped Michael Buerk would answer but he did not. I recounted what I had seen to the guy on the phone, he said they’d received a load of phonecalls all in the past 30 seconds so imagined it was all for the same thing. About 5 minutes later about 5 police cars pull up outside the flat in question. Oh by this stage, taxi has managed to escape off down the street with the 2 folks that tried to help him and the dick’s that beat on him have gone back inside their flat. As soon as the police cars appeared, their curtains were drawn, the lights went off and I’m guessing they pretended they were all asleep.

As the police get out of their cars they move towards the flats across the street. They go to ring a buzzer when I discover…they’re at the wrong building!! “It’s the next one down!!” I want to scream, but I don’t, and within about 10 seconds, they get the word that it’s the next building down and move towards it. They gain access, they swarm in and the door is closed. I’m making it sound like it was a SWAT team that turned up, it wasn’t, just the regular cops. I keep watching, praying the light goes back on in the flat where those guys came from. Nothing. They’re playing dumb. I am so annoyed the these guys aren’t getting hauled out of there and thrown in the back of a police car. Then, a light goes on…they’re in! Splinters fly across the kitchen as the door gets broken in, a guy jumps out the window in an attempt to evade capture only to get a bullet in his ankle to stop him in his tracks…..oh man, sorry, that last bit didnt happen I just got back into Wire mode there. Anyway, the police are in, they’re asking questions and I think they’ve got things under control. I decide to try and go back to sleep again. This time, I don’t wake up until my alarm goes off. Hopefully taxi guy is ok.

This morning as I brushed my teeth, I heard a knock at my door. Still in police mode, I froze and levelled that a knock at the door, which rarely gets knocked, can only be 1 of 3 things. 1 – it’s the postman; 2 – the police are here to take a statement; or 3 – a guy with a baseball bat is about to get some retribution for me touting on him. It was none of those. Instead, two old ladies stood and asked me if I had ever thought about the meaning of life and handed me a brochure. My eyes tell me they were Jehova’s witnesses. My brain tells me they were gathering intelligence for the guys from the flat across the road and their message about “finding the meaning of life” is code for “y’all’s about to get got, fool. Don’t nobody snitch on a brotha’ in the hood. Watch yo’ back yo.”

I take the brochure and finish brushing my teeth.

These guys ponder the purpose of life. The picture oozes 1993.

The Nineties and clubbing today

So last night I watched “A  Night at the Roxbury” again with my awesome sister, Jacq. Don’t worry Mark, you clearly don’t have any competition on your hands here re: film blogging! Now the movie itself isn’t great – it’s silly and stupid, but it’s also quite funny and rediculous and, crucially, has literally one of the greatest soundtracks in movie history.

The biggest track attached to this film is Haddaway’s “What is Love?”.  Anytime I hear this song it just makes me feel good. It’s the kind of song where as soon as it starts you just think, “this is all kinds of awesome”. ALL KINDS!

I got to thinking, how great would it have been to be clubbing in the 90’s?  I wish I was hitting the club scene back then so I could throw shapes on the dancefloor to songs like these.  Clubbing now is cool – you go to the right club, you’ll have a great time.  But too many clubs nowadays play the same old shit. The top 40 that you hear on the radio every day is just replicated on a louder scale in the club at the weekend. You may say, it would have just happened in the 90’s too.  It probably did, but I just feel nowadays there’s just so much exposure to chart music ALL the time that clubs sort of lose their edge, exclusivity. Back in the mid 90’s there weren’t a thousand music channels, radio stations and websites where you could hear any tune, anytime. Although this is definitely a handy thing now, I still think it takes away from the club scene and the hidden gems you would find at the weekend.

That’s why I love clubs like Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh. It plays great, unknown dance music that sounds awesome, is great to dance to and has that exclusive feel to it. You come away feeling you’ve been part of something new, unheard by the general public…and that, to me, is a pretty cool feeling. It’s something different.

I realise I’ve gone off-topic from my 90’s beginning. I’ll round things off by giving you a link where you can buy the soundtrack to the film. Take a look at this for a tracklisting – What is Love (Haddaway), Where do you go (No mercy), Insomnia (Faithless), Do ya think I’m sexy (N-Trance feat. Rod Stewart), Careless Whisper (Tamia), This is your night (Amber), Beautiful life (Ace of Base). ACE OF MOTHERCHUFFING BASE! 

Buy that CD, get it into your car, bob your head like Steve and Doug Butabi and plunge your ears into 90’s ecstasy! Buy HERE! It’s £4.99 and you can preview all the songs there to remind yourself how awesome they are.

Baby don’t hurt me…no more.

If @davewark was lying on this, he'd consider it home

My best mate and flatmate Dave recently told me ,

” if I can fall asleep on a sofa somewhere I’d consider it home”.

Rather than say, “hmm, interesting” , I opted for, “what the heck are you talking about [you philosophical bastard]”.

Right now, I am actually home. Home in the house I grew up in and which I left about 10 months ago to move to Edinburgh. I love being home. I love being this close to my family again. I love touching down in Belfast City Airport and walking from the terminal to the car where my mum and dad are there to pick me up. The smile on all our faces as I walk to the car are huge, genuine and warm. I always forget how much my dad hates other drivers until we pull out of the carpark onto the road where he’ll give off if someone is taking too long at the carpark ticket barrier or misses an opportunity at the give-way junction. At this stage – I know I’m really home.

But is Dave right?  Bloc Party ask a valid question, “Where is home?”. Is it somewhere you live? Is it somewhere you grew up? Is it somewhere you start your own family with? Is it anywhere you can fall asleep on a sofa?

In my opinion, it’s where you grew up. Maybe that will change when I start my own family one day (future wife applications currently being accepted).  I live in Edinburgh now and to think of anywhere other than Bangor being my home is a little weird. Perhaps home has a changing definition as you live your life.

Check out that Bloc Party song here. It’s good.