Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So long, Martin.

I'm going to interrupt my multi-part travelogue briefly to comment on the shocking news from yesterday that Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill had resigned. I say 'shocking' because of the timing of it (five days before the 2010/2011 season starts), I'm not really that shocked that it happened, it was going to happen eventually. O'Neill needed money to strengthen the squad, Randy Lerner (the chairman/owner) needed to sell players to both balance the books after the club recorded a £42 million loss last year and to finance any new transfers. O'Neill didn't want to sell our star player James Milner, Lerner felt he has to, mainly because of the silly money Manchester City are offering. O'Neill feels he should be in charge of transfers, yet he finds out the club have allegedly accepted a bid from Tottenham Hotspur for another star player, Ashley Young, without his consent, and so he felt he had to go as his position was undermined.

There's a lot of Villa supporters saying they're glad he's gone, pointing out his faults as a manager, his bad signings, his lack of a 'Plan B' when we're losing, and his favouritism towards certain players at the expense of more qualified players. All of these points are, to a certain extent, true, but he was a still a fantastic manager for Villa. A lot of these fans have a very short memory and forget where we were when he took over the reins. Aston Villa was on its arse back then, it being the fag-end of Doug Ellis' chairmanship and having just avoided relegation thanks to David O'Leary's clueless and unpopular reign as manager. O' Neill took this great club and made us a Premier League force again, flirting with breaking into the top four two seasons running (our lack of a big squad the only thing that stopped us) , appearing at Wembley twice last season, and regularly getting points from the top four.

Yes, he did make bad signings (Salifou, Shorey, Routledge, Sidwell, Harewood and most of all Heskey) but he's also made some great ones (Young, Milner, Dunne, Collins, Friedel, Warnock, Carew) and ones where it's too early to call but could be fantastic (Downing, Delph). Add to that the good players he's brought into the first team and nurtured into fantastic ones (Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Delfouneso) and he can definitely say he's leaving his successor a much better team than the one he inherited from O'Dreary.

I'm sad to see him go and I know Villa will find it hard to replace him. Good luck Martin, and thanks for all you've done, mate. Especially that 5-1 mauling of them wankers down the road.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What we got up to in California, part one: Getting there.

In June, my girlfriend's dad turned eighty. To celebrate, he decided that he'd go back to the land of his birth, America, and he invited my girlfriend and I along to take part in the celebrations. We of course said yes, and decided to go a bit earlier and celebrate our birthdays while we were over there. (My birthday is three days after my better half's, in late May, but, subsequently, because of the way the flights panned out, Heather ended up having her birthday in Birmingham, England, which she was a little miffed about.) So, the plan was that we spend a few days in San Francisco, then on to Sacramento to stay with Heather's half-sister, onto Lake Tahoe for a couple of days, a quick return to Sacramento, then on to San Jose for the big family shindig and to stay at Heather's other sister's house, then the journey back. Phew.

We were worried that we weren't actually going to get there at first, because, at the time, that Icelandic volcano was still playing havoc with British airspace. A week before we left, a colleague of mine had been to Florida and was stranded when his connecting flight in Philadelphia was grounded because of the volcanic ash. He was stuck there for nearly a week. So this was worrying us. Frankly, if this is how Iceland behaves when it plays with volcanoes, then it shouldn't be allowed to have one. Luckily that cleared in time, but we'd booked our flights with British Airways, whose cabin crews decided to strike, affecting our flight. There was a High Court ruling which said the strike was illegal (a bit dodgy, that decision, in my opinion) which meant we could fly out (albeit on a rearranged, earlier flight with limited services) but we weren't certain whether we were getting back or not. As we were staying with Heather's family out there for the most part, this didn't worry us too much, it just meant we'd have an extended holiday if the worst came to the worst.

This was my first trip to the States, my first trip anywhere outside of Europe, and therefore the longest flight I'd ever been on. After all the usual cobblers involving checking in three hours before the flight, paranoid security checks which means you have to take off your bloody shoes now (thanks, Richard Reid!) we faffed about trying to kill time by trying perfumes and aftershaves and eating a full english breakfast. (I'm sure that rule about checking in three hours early is more about getting you to spend money in the airport than it is about security and efficiency.) Although this part is the bit I hate most about flying, I didn't mind it as much this time as I was aware how bloody lucky we were to be flying at all.

So, we get on the plane. I'm dreading being stuck on this thing for ELEVEN HOURS. Heather, who's far more organised and on the ball about these things than I'll ever be, checked us in online previously, ensuring us seats at the front of the cattle section which gave us a couple of inches extra leg room, which, if you're over six foot tall like I am, is a godsend. The flight was fairly uneventful, except for a long period of turbulence when we were flying over Montana which made me very nervous indeed. Nervousness which evolved into sheer bloody terror when they turned all the lights and TV screens off and asked the crew to sit down and put their seatbelts on. I looked out of the window and saw nothing but mountains and jagged sharp pointy rockfaces and realised that if we plummeted, we'd be fucked. Luckily, after about half an hour, the plane stopped bouncing around like a four year old on an inflatable castle and settled down. Shortly after, so did my bowels.
As we were flying out to San Francisco, I decided to watch Bullitt on the inflight entertainment system to try and get me in the mood for Frisco. It basically told me that most of the police out there are all corrupt and I might get killed in a flaming car wreck. It's got a cool score, though. Whatever happened to Lalo Schrifrin? I also watched Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (it was a long flight) which wasn't about San Fran at all, but about Ian Dury, which made me wonder why anyone remembered Dury fondly at all, as he came across as an insufferable arsehole who used the fact that he had a gammy leg to behave like a prick. I'm sure he wasn't like that all the time, but the film made it look like it. Anyway, after eleven hours, several aborted attempts at trying to sleep, and a couple of aborted attempts at trying to eat inedible plane food, we landed in San Francisco.
Before we left for the States, I'd already done my visa waiver form online, and was slightly pissed off I had to do it all again whilst on the plane. If there's one thing I hate, it's filling in forms. (actually, you all know there's more than one thing I hate.) Especially filling out forms I'd already spent valuable time doing before. Then I had to queue up once we got off the plane to answer several of the same questions again. My lovely girlfriend, being an American, didn't have to do this, so she swans off and gets all that 'Welcome home' stuff from the staff. I got an hour's wait with people who have been stewing in their own juices for eleven hours. None of us smelled very nice. Above us all were several televisions showing the same five minute film over and over again, interrupted by a short message in Mandarin telling Chinese people how they should fill the form in. (it probably said 'Do it twice') This is because San Francisco quite famously has the largest Chinatown outside of China (and they have monsters and guys who can conduct lightning and hold their breath until they explode, as seen in that documentary Big Trouble In Little China. Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall live there, too, apparently.) The film that was on repeat was a montage of a few of the sights and people you might expect to see whilst in America, so you get the obvious ones like the Statue of Liberty, the Vegas strip and the Golden Gate bridge, mixed in with less obvious ones like blue-collar guys sawing up wood in a mill, and an old couple sitting in their rocking chairs on a porch, and many shots of the old Stars and Bars fluttering in the wind all set to rousing music. It was kinda cute the first seventeen times, then it seriously got on my tits. I was actively looking forward to next time the Chinese message came on to give us a minute's peace.
Finally, I get to show my passport to the customs guy, and have to repeat myself with every answer I gave him, because this is obviously the first time he's ever experienced the Brummie accent. (This was a taster for what was to come. Those yanks really can't understand us Brummies at all. How Ozzy Osbourne ever made it big over there is beyond me.) After he gives me a serious stare, he makes me put the fingers on my right hand onto a scanner which takes a picture of my fingerprints, then I have to do the same with my right thumb, then I repeat the procedure with my left hand. They also take a picture of my retina and, for luck, one of my actual face. You know, the most easily recognised identifying feature of my body?
So, with a sigh of relief, I get through. Even though I had nothing to worry about, little niggling fears start percolating in your mind whilst your waiting for an hour, and I was bloody glad to get it over with. I met up with Heather who had already got our bags and had been sitting there waiting for me for ages. She told me she'd just had a glaring competition with Michael Madsen. Apparently, he was on the same flight with us (although he obviously wasn't in economy with the rest of us plebs) and when Heather saw him, she kinda stared at him. Mr. Blonde didn't take kindly to this so he did a kind of sarcastic wide-eyed stare back at her.
We got into a yellow taxi and headed off to our hotel, extremely knackered. At last, we were in America.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Return Of The Mick.

Umm....hello? Is there anyone still out there? There must be someone, surely.

Ah, there you are. I know it's been a while, but I'm back now. You could at least try and look pleased about it.

Although not quite as long as the famous break between posts on the band Faith No More's blog ("We've split up!" Eight years later; "We're back together!") it has been a long time, and I've had lots to tell you or moan at you about, but I've never really had the time, or if I did, this archaic steam-powered heap of shit that I call my computer would decide not to work. I've been gone that long, I was half expecting this blog to be an ex-catalogue furniture shop when I came back.(That's what happens here in Birmingham whenever a shop gets closed down and left vacant, ex-catalogue furniture shops. There's one not far from here that says (sic) 'EX-CATALOUGE SHOP' on its sign in big letters, and there's another one that lists 'Chester Drawers' amongst the goods they're selling on its cheaply made sign. Surely, if your living is selling ex-catalogue furniture, at least learn how to spell what it is you actually fucking do!)

During my absence I've had lots of things distracting me. There was my Granddad's funeral, mentioned in my last post, which was probably the most emotionally moving thing I've ever experienced. He had a send off he'd have been proud of. I've never been to a funeral where it was standing room only, with people also stood out in the church's courtyard because there was no room inside. Bless him.

There was my trip to the States, which I'll probably tell you about in my next post. It was a trip that encompassed San Francisco, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, San Jose and Santa Cruz. It was my first trip to America, before, all those place names were just things I saw written on sweatshirts hanging on a rail in TK Maxx (which, I noticed, is called 'TJ Maxx' in the US, strangely.)

There was also a trip to Liverpool, where I watched England get knocked out of the World Cup, went to The Cavern, and bumped into Jimmy Osmond by the statue of Billy Fury on the Albert Docks. It's weird seeing the guy who sang 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' actually in Liverpool. It's not as if he lives there, is it?

There was also the book I was working on for a publisher called Insomnia. I say 'was' because Insomnia is now no more. There's still a lot of legal stuff going on at the moment, so I can't tell you any more, but it's all a bit disappointing. Luckily, because of issues I had with the company and contracts and lack of communication, and the time I lost due to bereavement, work and holidays and so on, I didn't really get that much done. There are lots of pages of character sketches and designs and a few finished pages of artwork and lots of hours spent researching and drawing which all now seem a bit of a waste. The writer and I are looking to pitch the book at other companies, so, hopefully, it might rise from the ashes one day.

However, it gives me a chance to get back on with the projects I had to put off because of the Insomnia gig. It might just take me a week or two to summon up the enthusiasm to pick up a pencil again, though.

So anyway, I've decided to start blogging again. Watch this space. And honestly, try and look pleased about it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Larry Trimble. 1924-2010.

The 28th of February was a real topsy-turvy, roller-coaster of a day. It started off with me getting excited about the Villa/Man United league cup final. We had my brothers and their other halves, our friend Liam and my eldest daughter all come round and watch it. The atmosphere was a good one, we all drank (except for my daughter, who's too young for that sort of thing. Legally, anyway.) wore Villa related clothing, including big foam claret-and-blue hands with 'Come On Villa' on them, complained about the uselessness of both the referee and Emile Heskey, cheered like mad when we scored, shook our heads and tutted and said 'fuckin' hell!' both the times they scored. We lost, but all in all, it'd been a fun afternoon.

Later that night, however, I got the news that my Granddad had passed away. He'd been seriously ill with a lung complaint for a long time. He'd been diagnosed as terminal about a year ago, but he hung on for as long as he could, as he's always been a tough old bugger. It put being disappointed about a stupid football match into its proper context; although he had been ill, and we'd been expecting and dreading the news for a long time, it still came as an almighty shock.

He was a great bloke, my granddad. It was a privilege and a pleasure to have been his grandson. I remember going to see him not that long ago, he was in bed, breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank, and he said to me, in that broad Dublin accent of his (which he never lost despite living in England for sixty years) 'Jaysis, I've lost some weight, haven't I? I've been pickin' my nose with my wrist!'

Even when he was seriously poorly, he never lost his sense of humour. A particularly unique sense of humour which all of us Trimbles have inherited from him. Even the day after he passed, a big chunk of the family (there's a lot of us) was at my Nan's house we were laughing as we swapped stories about him. There was lots of crying as well, we're all going to miss him.

He was the funniest guy I ever knew, and his heart was , as my nan would say, as big as a bucket. There are hundreds of great stories I could tell you about him, but I think that's for another time. It's his funeral this Wednesday, which is St. Patrick's day, which he would've appreciated. There's literally hundreds of people going, it's going to be the closest thing to a state funeral Erdington's ever seen. He deserves a good send-off.

It's true what they say, though. No-one's ever really dead as long as people remember you. He's going to live on in my heart and memories. Bless you, Gramps. Love you.

(This is a picture of my Granddad, my Dad, me and my brothers at my brother Marc's (second from right)wedding. It's the most recent picture I have of him and it was from a happy day, and it's how I want to remember him.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blog Birthday

On this day, four years ago, a slightly overweight four-eyed nerd called Mick Trimble made his first-ever blogpost. Just thought I'd tell all of you. That's two posts in the same month for once! That's almost organised. Almost.
Since I last posted, I had the news from Insomnia Publishing that they definitely want me to work for them and my contract's on its way. So I'll probably be spending most of the next few months pencilling their 100-page book. I'm excited about it, even though the logistics of getting 100 pages done is only slightly overwhelming.
As soon as I've got some decent work done, and I'm allowed to, I shall post some of my scribblings up on this very blog, so stay tuned, as they say.
Anyway, my blog is four today, Happy Birthday Secret Identity! Any cards or gifts gratefully accepted.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hello again!

Hello again! It's been ages since my last post, I know. It was, in fact, the last decade when I last wrote anything for this blog of mine. Apologies to my three readers who kept looking at my blog for anything new only to see that fat pillock Gio Compario looking at you.
There are a few reasons for this absence. Firstly, there was Christmas, which was nice (despite my constant girlfriend-annoying grumbles about how much a pain in the arse Christmas is). We had a house-full this year, Heather's parents and my offspring and us all sharing the house for a few days, but it all went swimmingly. My youngest brother got himself engaged over Christmas, so congratulations to Matthew and his lovely fiancée, Emma, they're a great couple and it's about bloody time. ( He proposed on the Lake Of Love in Bruges, and Heather's good friend Jane also got engaged over Christmas when her boyfriend proposed in Costa Rica. I've got a bloody hard job trying to top those if I want to propose anytime soon. Thanks, lads.)
Secondly, over the last few months, my ISP has only been supplying me with internet only when they feel like it. Most of the time, I was getting 'Page not found' or 'Oops! This link appears to be broken' (I love how Google makes me not being able to access my email for weeks at a time sound like a minor inconvenience) and most of my time on the PC was spent trying to connect to the web and repairing links. Bloody BT. Seems to be okay now, though. Fingers crossed.
Thirdly, I've been busy on a secret project. I've been offered a 100-page graphic novel to do, but that's all I can say about it. I'm still in the character designing phase, which involves sending emails back and forth, not so easy when your bleeding computer won't work. The emails they send me have this scary non-disclosure legal message at the end, so I can't really tell you anymore, or show you any art just yet.
Fourthly, being a supporter of the mighty Aston Villa has been quite a big distraction over the last few weeks, with all the ups and downs (mostly ups, to be fair) that that entails. Villa are doing well on all fronts, and we've actually managed to get to a cup final for the first time in ten years. Can't get a ticket for Wembley, though.
So, anyway, I promise to update a bit more regularly in 2010. This blog is four years old at the end of this month, and I've been neglecting it. I never want to be accused of neglecting a four-year old. Not again, anyway.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Give me a break!

There are some truly evil people in this world that must must be hunted down and stopped. Robert Mugabe. Osama Bin Laden. Radovan Karadzic. Nick Griffin. Noel Edmonds.

Above all of these demonspawn, however, is the most evil man ever to draw breath upon this planet:

I've been poorly a lot lately (hence the lack of updates) and I've been stuck at home in front of the telly. And every time I put the bloody thing on, this fat pillock turns up and ruins my day. He doesn't exactly make me feel better. And there's not just one advert now. There are many. Do advertising agencies really think that an annoying advert sells the product? Well, it doesn't sell it to me. In fact, I now steadfastly refuse to use the poxy website. If you 've not seen it, this is how it goes. Two blokes are in a coffee shop, each drinking those big mugs of coffee that cost three quid. These blokes are talking about car insurance. As you do. The one topic the whole nation is talking about is car insurance. At this juncture, the wanker in the picture above leaps up and sings a mock-operatic song about the virtues of a certain price comparison website. He's then accompanied by everyone else in the coffee shop, because they've either a) been convinced by him that his price-comparison website is indeed the best way to save money on your car insurance, or b) they're all suffering from Stockholm Syndrome because Gio Compario (apparently, that's his name. No, it's not Damien. I agree, it's a terrible name. I reckon they should have called him Juan Kerr.) has kept them all hostage in a dungeon underneath the coffee shop and has told them all that it'll be their children next if they don't follow him blindly. After the song and dance, it's all topped off with a god-awful, Bruce Forsyth-quality joke. If these blokes are really that skint that they have to save forty-seven pounds fifty on insurance, why don't they stay out of them bloody rip-off coffee shops and make it at home with a jar of Gold Blend?
It's not just Go Compare either. Every other advert seems to be about insurance or price comparison websites. There's Confused.com, Churchills, Compare The Market, Direct Line, Swiftcover and so on. Where are the adverts actually advertising tangible stuff I might actually want or need?
Actually, I'm probably being unfair to the comparison websites. There are lots of adverts advertising 'tangible stuff' that are just as annoying. There's that McDonald's one with a poetry voiceover about how everyone's 'just passing by', when really it should be saying 'just passing over from coronary disease'. There's that really badly dubbed one (another bugbear of mine; dubbed adverts. Just make your advert in English! If you can't be bothered to spend the extra money on an english version, then I can't be bothered to spend my hard-earned on your poxy bathroom wipes.) about that kid who 'wants to do a poo at Paul's'. Now, if that was me, I'd happily send him off to defecate at Paul's house if his arse stinks that badly. I certainly wouldn't pander to him by buying an air-freshener that disguises the smell of the little shit's shit, just because he told me to. Like my mother used to say (when she was sober, anyway) 'I want doesn't get.' What's also odd about that advert is that the young kid is chinese, and his mother is caucasian. I understand that he might be adopted, but we're not told. And if that is the case, surely it's going to put some people off adopting. They'll watch that and think, 'I was seriously considering giving a home to a poor unfortunate orphan asian baby, but I'm not going to now, because they stink out the house every time they poo. Actually, sod it! I will adopt, but they'll have to go round to Paul's every time they need to park their breakfast.'
A more recent addition to the annoying adverts canon are those new ones for Nintendo starring Ant and Dec. The Wii adverts were crap before when they had the Redknapp family or that bloke from 'My Beautiful Launderette' who isn't Daniel Day-Lewis flogging them to us. As I said, they were crap before, but they've taken on a whole new aura of shiteness. There's a family (all card-carrying members of Equity) playing Nintendo Wii. When I say family, I mean family. There's Nan and Granddad, Mom and Dad, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and cousins, even the fucking milkman and all, probably, all sitting on the sofa playing Mario Kart. This is unrealistic for a start. That scene might happen for twenty minutes on Christmas Day, and that's only because dad wants to see if it actually works seeing he's spent so much money on the bloody thing, and they'll have fun playing on it until Nan demands they watch the Christmas edition of EastEnders (thus killing off any fun, or indeed, Christmas Spirit.)and she has to watch it on the big telly because she's 'only bought her readers'. Like I said, unrealistic. Then, they act all surprised when Ant and Dec walk in, despite the fact that they've just walked in without knocking the door or anything, and also the fact that there's a camera crew filming them playing Mario Kart. Then it ends on a cliffhanger. Ant (or is it Dec?) challenge one of the family to a race on Mario Kart, and then it stops! Who wins?! Go to the nintendo website to find out! Like I give a fuck whether or not one of the fabulous forehead twins wins his go on a video game. It's not even a good cliffhanger, they should've put an anvil on a fraying rope above Ant's (or is it Dec's) head and he has to finish his go before the anvil plummets down and smashes his giant bonce into porridge, like they did with the old Batman TV show. As cliffhangers go, it's probably up there with the following clip:

Makes you wonder how Doctor Who ever got cancelled in the first place, doesn't it?
Anyway, all this ranting has made me ill again. Poxy commercial television. I'm off for a Lemsip. Ta-ra a bit.