2011 in pics…

My 2011 in a pictorial format (www.flickr.com/beeds82), to summarize riots/protests/road signs/Morocco. Click to enlarge/descriptions.



It’s official, for the first time in 10 years I’m looking forward to Christmas.

My top tips on how to stop worrying and love the season to be jolly.


Start Early

You’re reading this, you’ve started early.

I’m sorry but if you ease into slowly you’ll be happier. Next time you see mince pies in the shops in October, buy ’em, whack on Elf and start humming a bit of Bing, the sooner you get used to it, the happier you’ll be.


Focus On The Booze

You’ve got to have something to look forward to.

I like booze, this qualifies. P.A.R.T.Y. Book yourself back to back festivities.

On occasions you may be drunk enough to forget it is Christmas. When you’re not hit the mulled wine, it’s warm, winey and cheap, it’ll knock the edge off.


A Bigger Scrooge

Finding someone who hates Christmas more is essential.

You are no longer the Scrooge, there is a big one in town, you’re now just a normal Xmas reveler, got on with it, get involved.


Yipppee … Recession!

This is great for two reasons.

An extension of Scrooge, you know lots of other people are suffering. This is awful, but still makes me feel better, so I’m winning, their losing, lets make the best of it shall we?

A much better aspect is the horrible Xmas exploiting retailer are now miserable, their pain and suffering over this previous Capitalist holiday helps. And everything is cheaper. This is also good.


Stop Watching TV

TV is a stark representation of all things that have made Christmas shit. A year of sod all TV has prep’d me well, I don’t have this pain to worry about.

Ads trying to suck cash out of you, the false sentiment everywhere and generally the constant reminder it was better as a kid.

All you need is a boxset, and a backup copy of Home Alone for any odd Xmas pangs, and you’re winning.



Okay much of it you’d never consider eating during the rest of the year, but there is a lot of it, and often free.

It also provides a convenient excuse for escaping any strenuous family encounters, the classic “I need to walk this off” can always end in the pub.


Enjoy Giving

Despite this being fairly girly I like buying birthday gifts, it’s fun. At Christmas there are too many of the fuckers,  so despite my better judgement, plan early. And it’ll be cheaper (see recession).


New Years Is Always Crap

Accepting that NYE is going to be a let down is key, focusing on what turns out to be a let down is a killer.

Plan great nights around it. On NYE, plan gin.

Merry Christmas!

Kept Off The Grass

Now the stupidity and press coverage from Keep Off The Grass has stopped, time to look at my highlights:

  • Getting that bastion of the right wing the Daily Mail website to use my quote “‘I’ve had many a great time on grass, rolling around, frolicking, admiring, and altogether enjoying its lush texture and greenness. I love the stuff.”
  • Four grown men cheering at work as it appeared on BBC London (without any sort of credit for me mind you), and the story hitting the number one most watched story on the beeb website.
  • Hitting the infamous third page of the Metro, the home for all trivial matters for London commuters.
  • Along with the Sun, the Telegraph, the Evening Standard, the Daily Star, appearing in a hell of a lot of blogs, including random  foreign ones

What did I learn? Not a lot. Apparently it had been up for years when their was more grass and the residents had just paved over it with drives.

I did find out that despite spending my most successful campaign of the year was a funny photograph, and was fundamentally pointless. Which is great!

But what I did love, in response to being accused of wasting money and erecting pointless expensive signs, the council responded by paying to have it removed.

Keep off the grass sign, we mourn you……

There’s no other way…

It would be bad to generalise that the whole Britpop movement has sold out and moved to Chipping Norton. They haven’t. But a couple of them are doing so in dramatic style recently. A colleagues recent endulgance of an Alex James cheese highlighted this worrying trend….

Despite my semi Northern roots I agree that Blur were a clear winner on the Oasis/Blur standoff, but still maintain that Oasis had the bigger impact and are the poster boys for this coked up stupidity of this era.  Albarn, a bit of a dick but is still producing some great music. Coxon, arguably more of a knob but still can bang out a tune. Rowntree, I like his politics.

But James, cor blimey, he’s sold his soul to the establishment and joined the ever growing foodie superiority middle classes. The man has written for the Spectator and the Sun. He promotes corned beef. He is now flogging cheese in Asda. He resides and merrily pimps out his soul in Chipping Norton, who Clarkson’s claims to be a mate of ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2015869/Rebekah-Brooks-David-Cameron-discussed-sausage-rolls-Christmas-party.html) with of course that photo ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2011/sep/15/day-the-festival-dream-died) of the chums he invited to his festival. But at the end of the day he’s easily forgiveable, he has the air of a bloke who doesn’t quite know what he’s got himself into and be a loveable twit, and is merrily making a few quid while enjoying live with his wife and kids.

But Coker (and …Gondry!), Eurostar, WTF???

all you can do is watch them play.

A lesson in hustling.

Okay, firstly I don’t mean to be melodramatic. In a recent trip to Tangier, I managed to spend 40 euros on a pretty poor quality tour and some dodgy tourists tat, I wasn’t robbed, but paid 4 times more than I should.

How did I manage to pay this princely sum? Well I was old school hustled, using some charm and age old tricks. It did occur to me I could try and learn from this a few general life/marketing lessons…

The Welcome

Pretty simple but being nice and helping me into my hotel had him tagged as a nice man.

Always be nice to strangers, you don’t know when you might need ’em. And familiarity helps, a preview is always nice before you start the sale, the punter is more responsive to someone they’ve already met.

The approach

Go in quick, stick to your mark and keep talking, treat them like your best friend. You instinctively assume some familiarity with them or why else would they be walking and talking to you?

It’s one you get everytime you get chugged in the street, and still surprisingly effective. Even when you know they want something most people’s instincts are to be polite and chat back. Get ’em talking.


My hustler was known and loved by everyone, so he’s got to be honest right?

The old testimonial is still a winner and one that often gets forgotten when you’re trying to come up with a “big” idea. Even if they’re a little suspect, a lot of them will convince you.


The hustler was actually a pretty decent guide, so I was happy to give him something.

You’ve got to deliver something if you want a return.

The Other Guy

By the time I was dragged into the inevitable shop I knew I was on to a loser, and was happy to be taken for a few quid by the shopkeeper. It was a nice change of scene/pace.

You don’t always need to be shouting the loudest, timing is still everything. Being the other guy, even if you’re doing the same thing can work, if you play it right you’re a welcome change.


As I realised I was going to end up in every shop in North Morocco I started to become dismissive and abrupt until my “guide” took the hint.

Know when you’re losing.


As I was lead back to my hotel mysteriously my hustler’s “friends” gradually joined, as if by random. Being outnumbered always makes you more likely to agree.

Outside of a minor bit of intimation the lesson here is always to be ready for the final sell.  It’s easy to get distract by the content, but a strong finish can make even mediocrity work. 

Keep off the grass…

I had to write the council on the one……..


I’m a grass lover as much as the next guy, in fact I believe MORE than the next guy.

This spring, faced with a lawn destroyed by winter, I went and spent a whole 15 notes on Tescos lawn repairer to sort mine out. I’m gutted a hot spring made my mission to fix my lawn a futile endeavour, but I tried, and I appreciate people’s plight, to keep our grassy goodness in place.

I’ve had many a great time on grass, rolling around, generally, frolicking, admiring, and all together enjoying it’s lush texture and greenness, I bloody love the stuff.

BUT I would strongly debate why Merton Council felt the attached sign (attached!) in Raynes Park was an appropriate use of resources:

·         There is naff all grass in this specific location, approximately 2-3 foot square, surely a ” Keep Off The Grass” would be better allocated to a more grassious patch of grass on the same road as others have been. It may be an oasis of greenery amongst a concrete drive hell hole, but let it go, this grass was never meant to be!

·         25 metres round the corner is a COMMON. There is a much grass here to fill even the biggest grass fans needs (of which I am one, see my opening paragraphs). People can merrily admire as much grass they want in this haven of greenery, specifically designed to keep us Londoners with the vague illusion we’re still close to nature. Maybe a sign pointing people to this lovely example of a common would have been more appropriate?

·         I debate the messaging, with the sign in place standing on the grass is effort enough, to stand on it and then read the sign would involve an act of physical dare doing doing I’m incapable of. Maybe “please admire the little remaining grass, that what’s left and not replaced by this big lump of steel”, would be most appropriate?

·         Maybe my view is blinkered, maybe you are attempting to refer to all grass in general area? I appreciate the sentiment but I would debate the purpose, think of all the great times people have had on grass? You should consider this in the context of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship, a major revenue boost for the local community. What would a lawn be without grass, mud I venture, would this add to the game of tennis? Admittedly I’d love to see Sharapova covered in mud, but I don’t think the debentures would approve of this? Is Merton Council suggesting a blanket ban on standing on grass, has the Lawn Tennis Association been may aware they may need to rebrand soon?

·         Could this site in fact  be one of special historical interest, may be consider putting up one of those lovely blue plaques here instead? As Raynes Park is only famous for Alan Carr’s Stop Smoking centre, I’d assume this is the spot where Carr had his last fag? Maybe an ash tray would be more appropriate?

·         Could this be a response to a plea by an irate local resident of the destruction of their 2 foot square haven of greenery from poor quality parking. May I suggest they invite these drivers to park on their piss poor quality drives instead, rather than waste a few hundred quids worth on pointless madness. Or get a life?

Excuse my sarcasm, maybe it is an attempt to protect all grass verges on this lovely road? I would then debate your sign placement. Anyone mad enough to park here across two people’s drives would realise it was a crap idea as they hit the big steel post, maybe the wording is not required? Or maybe you hope to catch the attention of passing motorists, just before they hit the child playing in the street as they wonder “why the hell have they put that sign there face inwards towards the road”?

I would work on the assumption that this was an epically great piece of comedy by a local council worker, but as a council worker yourself, I’m sure you well aware that the majority of council workers have little or no sense of humour. I felt a small degree of sympathy when you had your full salary petition nicked by the Tories, BUT NOT NOW.

I will continue to admire this haven of small greenery on a back street of Raynes Park. I may point the local Big Issue sales people to admire it while they scrap together a few quid to find a bed for the night wondering why they can’t get a council house, or maybe when you are made redundant you can admire it on your walk to Wetherspoons?

All the best,


UPDATE: After a wave of national media attention, the sign has been removed. After costing £237 to put apparently they have now paid to get it removed *gives up*