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In the immortal, paraphrased words of Errol Brown, “it started with a shit”. Except in my case, it didn’t stop. It could be said that I never expected it to come to this. “This” being a somewhat run down hospital in Chivay – a quaint little town carved neatly into the patchwork-like fabric of the beautiful Colca Canyon. I’m on the mend now, but over the last few days, I’ve spent more time in the bogs than George Michael on a cottaging expedition. That’s largely thanks to the fact I’m taking a concoction of pills Heath Ledger would be proud of. Still, I’m sure he never managed to pick his stash up for 2.50 soles (about 60p). Neither did an agitated Peruvian doctor diagnose him with “traveller’s diarrhoea”.

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The journey to Chivay was a nightmare. It started with a 12 hour overnight journey from a place called Ica, just south of Lima, to Arequipa – a town savaged by floods just a number of days previously. Those agonising hours were followed by a 3 hour wait in a bus terminal and a further 4 hours on one of the crappest buses I have ever travelled upon. Never before has a man stood at the front of any form of public transport I’ve been on and given an impromptu rendition of a seemingly never-ending (and depressing) song on his pan pipes. With my colon doing the conga, my arse playing up and my throat feeling like it had been massaged with a cheese grater (I have man flu too) it felt like I was being lulled, musically, to my death. I exaggerate, of course. Although the sweet Peruvian lady in the seat across the aisle gestured (with a cut throat hand movement) that if I didn’t layer up, my end would be imminent. Either that or she was pretty pissed off with my incessant wriggling and coughing. I guess I must have looked pretty bad so decided to take forty winks after Des O’Conner put the finishing touches to his welcome tune. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only trick up his sleeve. One of the most enduring sales pitches ever given was to be used by Des to flog a whole raft of household paraphernalia to passengers. It was a long 4 hours.

Other than that, I’ve seen condors soar, majestically, above the indescribable tapestry of the Colca Canyon, caught a glimpse of a snow-capped volcano and had a mooch round an ancient pre-Incan clay pyramid in the centre of a bustling metropolis. Lake Titicaca and its floating islands beckon tomorrow. Puno, gateway to the lake, is close to where David Icke experienced his awakening. Expect me to be wearing turquoise tracksuits from now on in.

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As I sit here, 35,000 ft above the Atlantic Ocean, presumably several hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, I feel compelled to document my travels thus far. Fair play, I’ve only been on the move for about 11 hours but enough has happened already for me to open up my new Microsoft Surface and road test the note taking capability of its wafer-thin keyboard. Take note Apple cultists – this would be nigh on impossible with the oversized phone (iPad) you’ve come to love and defend so vehemently, despite its numerous limitations. Unfortunately, I’m not able to upload this blog as a fly, for LAN Airlines has yet to embrace in-flight connectivity. However, according to this chap (fraud), things could be about to change – and soon. Then again, who on earth would listen to a man who ums and erms, throws in the odd “you know” and visibly melts under the glare of a studio light hotter than a vindaloo consumed on the surface of the sun. Not me. Nor you, probably. Well if you do, read on for tales of arrogant Germans.

Yes, whilst milling around in Madrid, waiting to board a plane destined for Peru, I encountered the krauts. Many a time I’ve sat by a European pool and feared the arrival of a hirsute female or europop-loving, speedo-clad mullet-wearer to make an appearance and signal the presence of the hun. I know it’s an unwritten rule for the English to meet the Germans abroad, but this time, I was unprepared. I was taken by surprise. There I was minding my own business, when I spied a queue. I wasn’t completely sure it was the queue for flight 2707 to Lima but being English, I joined it as that’s what we do. Feeling slightly superior at being at least a foot taller than every other prospective passenger, I inched my bag along every couple of seconds, safe in the knowledge that my place in line was assured. That was until Fritz and his egg-in-bun mate, Jurgen, showed up. Displaying a complete lack of consideration for anyone in the vicinity, the Deutsche duo barged past a petite Peruana to my left and cemented a position just in front of me. Amazingly, neither had read the sign that stipulated that those to the left were to be seated at the front of the plane, and those to the right were to head to the rear. The Germans had found themselves in the wrong line. I say amazingly as Germans are known for their ruthless efficiency and a mistake such as this is punishable by death back in Berlin. Even more amazing was the fact that I had somehow managed to find myself in the correct lane, despite an incredibly frustrating history of getting every 50:50 decision I’ve ever faced in my life wrong and also, being unaware that two lines were actually in operation. As the enormity of this unfamiliar situation sank in and rendered Fritz and Jurgen immobile, those who had been supplanted marched forth to liberate their places and the krauts were once again removed from land they had had illegally occupied. Beautiful.

Buoyed by this news and convinced the times were-a-changing, I confidently answered the Chilean check in attendant’s enquiry as to how I was – in Spanish. Predictably, he replied in perfect English and left me questioning my ability to converse with any non-English speakers upon arrival. Undeterred, I decided to order myself a “vino tinto” when airborne. Thankfully, a beautiful drop of Chilean red found its way into my hands as intended. Maybe the times are a-changing after all. Nope, the twat in front has predictably put his seat back (the first on the plane to do so) and reduced my personal space to something a battery hen would be dissatisfied with.

Time for a kip.

Day 1: After many days of uninterrupted sunshine prior to my arrival, I was greeted by grey skies on my first day in the Peruvian capital. Believing this to be great news for my pasty white skin, I decided to take a stroll to Parque Kennedy – a pretty little park dedicated to the late US president and inhabited by a number of stray, but tame cats. One decided to sit on my leg – my first pussy of the trip. After a spot of people watching where I saw a man who looked like Screetch from “Saved by the Bell” serenade his decidedly uninterested girlfriend, I returned to my hotel, passing a gay chap who took a fancy to me on the way. Catching a glimpse of myself in the room’s mirror, I realised I had underestimated the cloud cover and was now resembling a Swan Vesta match. Obviously, it was time to buy some sunscreen so I set off to find the nearest supermarket in search of some “keep white” cream. No sooner did I leave the hotel lobby than a bird emptied the green and white contents of its gut on to my arm and previously clean shorts. Now looking like a red, white and green idiot, a woman decided to film me as she walked past. An interesting first day.

Last year, I was privileged enough to receive two very interesting emails from the most grandiose of dignitaries. One, a Mr. Ulrich Claypole of the world-renowned and highly-respected law firm, Ulrich Chambers, and the other, a Mr. Christopher Neal – an employee of the World Bank Institute in the office of the Vice President, no less. Why these eminent gentlemen chose to contact me, I’ll never know. Maybe word of my unmatched knowledge of obscure ’90s footballers, appreciation of German arrogance and new found love of Charles Manson Dancing to the Scatman has reached Nigerian shores and proved an irresistible draw. Here’s what they had to say…

Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 07:27:37 -0600
To: Me
Subject: CAN I TRUST YOU..$$.?
From: ulrichclaypole@dca.net

Hello Friend,

My name is Ulrich Claypole, I am a barrister by profession. I want you to assist me in transferring the funds of my dead client.

I am willing to offer 45% to you as the sole beneficiary and you will remit 55% to me after the funds has been transferred to you.

If you are interested do get back to me on ulrichclaypole@aol.co.uk only for more information and details on how to proceed.

Do not be afraid it is 100% risk free and safe because I have all the necessary documents.

For Security Reasons Please Use This Email Address Only ulrichclaypole@aol.co.uk

Thanks.

Barrister. Ulrich Claypole.
Attorney At Law,
Ulrich Chambers.

From: Me
To: ulrichclaypole@aol.co.uk
Subject: RE: CAN I TRUST YOU..$$.?
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 22:15:08 +0000

Dear Mr. Claypole,

It is an honour and a privilege to receive your correspondence. I must say, I am flattered that you would want to provide me with financial recompense in exchange for my help in the matter below. May I ask why you have chosen me specifically for this role? After all, you have no idea who I am and I most certainly have never heard of you, my good man. Why, Ulrich Claypole sounds to me like a German pole-vaulter!

Do you have an interest in pole-vaulting? Funnily enough, I have recently taken an interest in this incredibly under-rated sport. However, the garden washing prop that I was using to hurl myself onto my neighbour’s gazebo has snapped and as such, I can no longer practice the bank robbery I am planning which will see me leap onto the roof of Lloyds TSB, scale into the vault and steal thousands upon thousands of British pounds. Your kind offer of money will therefore go a long way towards helping me buy a new pole! In exchange for you helping me help you, I am willing to offer you 50% of the money that I will steal from the vault (not the pole-vault).

Please tell me how to proceed as I would love to help you.

Kind regards,

Rupert Pendragon

Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 16:26:13 +0200
To: Me
Subject: PAYMENT
From: info@woldbank.org

How are you today?

The below payment has been awarded to you by the British Government/World Bank to compensate you on the past experience you had online.

I write to inform you that we have already sent you $7,500.00 through Western Union as we have been given the mandate to transfer your full compensation payment total sum of $750,000.00 (SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS) via Western Union by the Government. We have paid to them their transfer charges registration fee activation charges insurance coverage fee and their security Safe Keeping fee. So please contact them now in case of demurrage.

Below is the account officer contact information including his email address with the transfer reference number. Note that without you indicating your transfer reference number as listed below to the Branch manager WESTERN UNION LAGOS NIGERIA, they will not listen to you they will be imagining if you want to steal another person’s funds.

Rev Smith Owen – Manager Western Union Money Transfer Lagos-Nigeria.
Agent ID: 00345
E-mail:revsmithconsultant@wss-id.org
Call Centre: +448007314814
Call Tel: +2347090965861
Swift Code: CPEL/OWN/00345
Transfer reference Number: EG2272

Also below is the information they need to transfer your funds to you.

Full name :……………
City :……………
Country :……………
Name that you will use to receive your payment per day :……………
Amounts send by per day $7,500.00 USD :…………………………..
Telephone :……………………………………….
Mobile Number :………………………………….
Passport copy if any or any form of identity card :……………..

Please make sure the information is complete as they promised that once they receive your details, within 2 to 3 working hours your payment will be transfer to you according to the account officer. Once again, the Western Union Money Transfer Lagos-Nigeria Management does not know about the funds, it was registered as your funds with them, this is to avoid them delaying the transfer and besides I don’t want you to lose your money.

Your transfer pin code number is (0114) take note, the amount you can receive per day is $7,500.00 USD. (Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars)

Washington, D.C.
Contact: Mr. Christopher Neal
Address: The World Bank Institute
Office of the Vice President
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20433

From: Me
To: western.union0147@wss-id.org
Subject: RE: PAYMENT
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:29:05 +0100

Dear Mr. Christopher Neal,

Thank you for sending me such a courteous email. It’s certainly a great relief to learn that the British Government are finally willing to compensate me for the trauma I suffered whilst browsing the Internet. Had I known then what I know now, I’d certainly never even have contemplated entering the search term “lemon party” into Google. As I’m sure you know, it was Pancake Day here in Britain on the day of the incident and I decided to host a gathering to commemorate this wonderful occasion. Freshly squeezed lemon is the perfect accompaniment to a scrumptious pancake and I simply wanted to find some inspiration for a lemon-related theme party. However, what I saw that day will haunt me forever and no amount of money (no matter how generous) will erase the images that are now permanently etched onto my retina. That’s not to say I’m not highly appreciative of your offer which I’d be delighted to accept.

Before I provide you with the details you require, please could you be so kind as to answer a couple of questions for me:

1) Does Rev. Smith Owen (I presume he is a Reverend?) belong to The Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel? As a devoted Carmelite myself, I am strictly obligated to conduct financial transactions with members of the same religious order only. It concerns me slightly that Rev. Smith has had to accept a job with Western Union, however. Is the Lagos congregation short on numbers these days? If so, I’d be more than willing to devote my time to raising the profile of this renowned church. Please let me know how I can help.

2) Would it be possible to amend the amount you’re looking to send to me? 7,500.00 is my unlucky number. I am willing to accept $7,499.00, however.

I look forward to hearing back from you shortly.

Thanks for your time and god bless.

Dwayne Pipe (I recently changed my name by Deed Poll because I received death threats from the local mafia who accused me of watching old men have sex following the lemon party incident)

Over the years, I’ve had many brushes with Nigerian scammers. Generally, this has tended to be in the form of an email from someone called Goodluck Jonathan telling me he needs to get some funds out of Lagos but can’t without my financial assistance. If I help, I’ll get a cut of the dough. You know the drill, we’ve all been there. I must admit, I really look forward to receiving these emails and have always made an effort to respond after stumbling upon a website called 419eater.com which hilariously documents the results of so-called “scambaiting” encounters. As the site explains, “Scambaiting is when you enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their time and resources. Whilst you are doing this, you will be helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims and screwing around with the minds of deserving thieves”. Personally, I’m not so bothered about keeping scammers away from potential victims – if you’re stupid enough to fall for one of these emails you’ve got no hope anyway. Instead, I am much more concerned with baiting the con artists (who, more often than not, do tend to be Nigerian) into performing amusing tricks for their money. Things like balancing a loaf of bread on your head.

Unfortunately, I’ve not yet managed to convince a trickster to balance a loaf of bread on his head. However, a couple of weeks ago, I received a Facebook friend request from someone called Joy. After a quick check of her (?) profile, I realised she/he was a Nigerian (in Nigeria) and given that I have never been to Nigeria, nor do I know any Nigerians, almost certainly out to con me. Straight away, I realised this was too good an opportunity to turn down and clicked the accept button in an instant. Seconds later, I heard the familiar sound of a new Facebook message. It was almost poetic in its beauty as you’ll soon see. But, before I recount the conversation between Joy and I, I must first clarify some of the terminology used in this exchange:

  1. “Crafty when it pops out” is a phrase attributed to the former Leyton Orient player and manager, John Sitton, who famously went nuts at his team in a half time team talk that featured in a Channel 4 documentary aired in the mid ’90s. Alongside Keegan’s more renowned on air breakdown, this really is compelling viewing for any football fan. It can be found by clicking here.
  2. Melchester Rovers are a fictional football team with whom Roy Race spent most of his illustrious career in the British comic strip Roy of the Rovers, which first appeared in Tiger at its inception in 1954. Information courtesy of Wikipedia
  3. Irthlingborough and Wellingborough are deprived towns in the English county of Northamptonshire. A description of the former and its inhabitants can be found in my earlier blog entitled “Irthlingborough Weirdo Watch”

So here we go. Please note: Joy’s grammatical monstrosities are deliberately reproduced.

Joy: “Hey, thanks for accepting me”

Me: “No problem”

Joy: “My name is Joy and am Nigerian. Please can we be close friendz?”

Me: “As much as I would be overwhelmed by that, we don’t yet know each other, Joy!”

Joy: “Yeah, I can make you know me better”

Me: “How would you do that?”

Joy: “I can tell you more about myself”

Me: “Go on then, what are your talents…”

Joy: “Writing, am very creative and I have good ideas. I love singing, but am still trying to train my voice. I love sports so much too.”

Me: “Tell me about some of your good ideas? I had a good idea once. They really should design a razor with a spirit level in it so that men can avoid uneven and unshapely sideburns. What do you think?”

Joy: “Wow your idea is a good one. But I think razor should have more than four sharp edges covered with plastics, the plastics would be removed when in use.”

Me: “I like the cut of your jib, Miss Cookey. How many sharp edges would your razor have, in ideal circumstances?”

Joy: “Six edges”

Me: “Ah ok. Six is my favourite number”

Joy: “Wow”

Me:  “Yours?”

Joy: “Ok. Seven is my favourite”

Me: “How come?”

Joy: “Because I believe stands for perfection”

Me: “That’s good, I stand for perfection too. My football team, Leicester City, nearly won 7 games in a row this season”

Joy: ”Wow, that’s great”

Me: “It’s stupendous. Crystal Palace beat us though – I blame Waghorn – he wasn’t crafty when it popped out. The lad needs to learn to drift off and fan out”

Joy: “Yeah. Wow you are a footballer? Jeeez am so happy chatting with you”

Me: “Yeah, I play for Melchester Rovers alongside the great Roy Race. Have you ever seen one of Racey’s Rockets? They are absolute net busters!”

Joy: “Wowwww, I wish you can see how happy I am. OoooOoooohh my God. Am so so happy. Am so lucky to chat with you”

Me: “I am happy too. Adarsh, my friend, just walked in with the brightest red shirt I have ever seen. It was dark in the room before, now it has been illuminated like a room powered by its very own sun! The boy has got a nerve though, he rolled in at just gone 11 and demanded I make him tea. Have you ever rolled in at gone 11, thinking you’re bertie big bollocks and demanding tea? I did once but John Sitton told me to bring my dinner”

Joy: “Lol, I never have rolled in at gone 11”

Me: “That’s good to hear. I don’t like those types of people”

Joy: “Yeah, me too”

Me: “Joy, are you crafty when it pops out? I know I mentioned that Waghorn wasn’t and that it annoyed me. I’d hate for you to tell me that you’re not crafty when it pops out. If you are, I see a future together brighter than Adarsh’s shirt. If not, you’ll be kicked into touch faster than you can say Racey’s Rocket!”

Joy: “Yeah, am so crafty especially when it pops out”

Me: “You’ve made my day, Joy!”

Joy: “Wow. Am happy to have made your day”

Me: “Well it’s rare that anyone can make my day. It only happened once before and that was when I discovered a video on YouTube where a team of midgets successfully chased down a camel in a relay race. Have you ever raced a camel?”

Joy: “No, I have never nut I know if am given a chance I would love to do it”

Me: “Do you think you would win?”

Joy: “Yeah, am always positive and I work towards positivity”

Me: “That’s good. There’s a song I like called Positivity by a band called Suede. Suede used to be managed by Ricky Gervais and I listened to some XFM podcasts with Ricky Gervais in today. That’s a weird coincidence isn’t it? See how connected we are already!”

Joy: “Yeah, am glad about that. How do you feel when your team does not win in a competition?”

Me: “Like a squirrel that has spent all its time burying nuts for the coming winter only to find that a bigger squirrel has stolen them all”

Joy: “Ooh. That’s really sad”

Me: “Or maybe even how Van Damme feels in the film ’Legionnaire’ when he is forced to flee to the French foreign legion. No wonder he had a monumental breakdown, poor guy”

Joy: “Yeah, its really frustrating”

Me: “I know. Joy, I have to go for a while now, it’s 12 o’clock and that’s when we have to practice our escape procedure. You see, Irthlingborough is at war with Wellingborough and there could be an attack at any moment. We need to be prepared”

Joy: “Ok Foster, I wish you all the best”

Me: “Thanks Joy, we can talk soon. Keep being crafty when it pops out please!”

Joy: “Okay. Its a pleasure chatting with you, bye”

Me: “You too, bye”

On the eve of the 57th quadrennial US presidential election, I am amused. Why? Because the world is about to bear witness to one of the most expensively-assembled Punch and Judy shows in living memory and very few are aware that what is taking place, is a charade. Staggeringly, in this age of unprecedented austerity, it is estimated that the total cost of the election could be just shy of $6 billion. I suppose it would be less grotesque and more palatable to me if there was any fundamental difference between the two candidates on offer. That Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama are mere puppets controlled by the real power brokers – the likes of Kissinger, the Rockefellers, Soros, Zbrinski, the Rothschilds and the rest of the shadowy wealthy Zionist elite – sits ill at ease with me. However, America stands proud and its citizens declare to anyone who’ll listen that they live in the land of the free, the land where anyone can become president (just as long as they have the backing of AIPAC). All hail the greatest democracy on earth where every four years they shuffle some shit around and let the people choose between two cheeks on the same arse.

Today, I heard Mitt Romney make a speech and amidst all the inane waffle, familiar clichés and psychobabble, he uttered the phrase “we can begin a better tomorrow, tomorrow”. Seriously, who really believes this crap? Four years ago we had Obama, the autocue president, pontificate about change. What this change was, he refused to say. But because change was perceived to be coming, people got a little excited and embraced this change without knowing what it really was. Many then realised that Obama was full of shit, like Bush was before him, like Clinton was before him and like poppa Bush was before that. Just how long does this cycle have to continue for people to realise that at no point does change ever arrive, and that the majority of election pledges go unfulfilled? As the late, great George Carlin once sarcastically said “as soon as the election is over, your country will improve immediately”. Except it won’t and if, in four years time, Romney is the incumbent president, battling for re-election against a backdrop of disaffected voters, just as Obama is now, there will be hordes of betrayed people voting for the other guy. The other guy who too will doubtless renege on his promises over another four year period. And the cycle continues, ad infinitum. Just look at “Mr. Change”, Obama, the man who was supposed to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention centre (still open for business), repeal Bush’s tax cuts for higher incomes (tax rates extended in 2010), and sign abortion rights legislation immediately (still not enacted). If one needs just a smidgen of evidence of the degree to which presidents like Obama are controlled, one need only listen to the great man speak without the aid of a teleprompter. I’ve heard the pissheads down my local talk more sense. Such is the man’s reliance on other people’s words, he once thanked himself for appearing alongside former Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen. Obama had read the autocue meant for Mr. Cowen.

I wish you well America, but like us over on the other side of the pond, you’re being conned. All of this is an illusion of democracy, of freedom, of choice. Whatever the agenda is, it will be enacted, whether Romney or Obama is elected tomorrow. And to the woman, who I heard interviewed on BBC Breakfast news this morning, bemoaning the fact that Obama had broken all of his promises and would now be voting for Romney instead, I’ve got news for you. In four years time, you’ll be in exactly the same position. Just as all the people who voted for the “real change” Tories are in the UK – waiting for change that will never come. Truly, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

It’s the time of the year again when millions upon millions of seemingly mindless iSheep cannot wait to wax lyrical about the latest generation of the iPhone. “It’s the best phone ever!” baa’d one, while another lauded the phone for being “ideal for people with small hands”. Confused? You’re not the only one – I couldn’t work the last one out either but it appeared in an article on northjersey.com

So what’s so great about the iPhone 5? For me, and most other sane individuals, it’s not that different to the last one and I wasn’t a fan of that or any other Apple device before it. The design is pretty much the same as the two year old iPhone 4 but in comes a slightly bigger screen, improved processor, 4G connectivity and a “Panoroma” tool that helps the user stitch together a series of photos. And that’s it folks, Apple have once again revolutionised your life. Or so it would have have you believe. Forget about the free panorama apps have been around for years, Apple invented panorama photography, just as it invented phones with round edges, icons and slide to unlock.

The truth of the matter is that Apple is nowhere near as innovative as many people think. The company has trotted out a barely-improved device once again, which is vastly inferior to many Android devices on the market, yet millions cannot wait to part with their hard-earned cash. Indeed, it’s been reported that delivery times for the device doubled within hours of it going on sale. Although Apple fanboys irk me no end with their unflinching devotion to the church of Steve Jobs (we’ll come to that later), the company’s sheer hypocrisy annoys me more than anything. The tech giant’s recent patent lawsuit victory over Samsung is evidence of this. Setting aside the obvious bias involved in holding such a lawsuit in San Jose, a mere 10 miles from Apple’s Cupertino base, any claim that Apple has been copied is hilarious. It’s quite simply a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

This was Steve Jobs in 1996: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas”.

And this was Steve Jobs in 2011: “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermo-nuclear war on this”.

In true Apple style, I’m shamelessly stealing this graphic as it beautifully illustrates the degree to which Apple is as much the thief it accuses Samsung of being, if not more.

And that’s excluding other misdemeanours such as copying Creative Technology’s user interface for the iPod or stealing the name of the iPad from another company. How nice it must be to live in a world where oodles of cash rectifies the fact you’re not living by the rules you want everyone else to follow.

But back to Apple fanboys. It’s always amazed me how readily people will shell out a large sum of money for a supposedly premium device. Shouldn’t a premium device be a tad resistant to being dropped on the floor every now and then? I’ve dropped all of my phones many a time and none have shattered the way that iPhone’s do. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen squinting into their iPhone as they try to decipher text through multiple cracks in the glass.

Smashed iPhone - a common sight

But Apple has Siri i hear you say. So what! Android phones have had deep voice control and dictation for more than two years now and thanks to some third-party apps, you can enjoy the same level of voice control as iPhone 4S/5 owners. I’ll shy away from mentioning the Samsung Galaxy S3’s S-Voice feature, which apparently, much like a chap eager to please his missus after 10 Stellas down the pub, has “performance issues”. Lest we forget that Apple didn’t develop Siri (remember, it’s really not that innovative), it acquired it back in April 2010.

For me, one of life’s nagging mysteries, like the female mind, is trying to figure out why people love the iPhone so much. Especially when there are better (and much more affordable) devices out there. Multi-tasking is still archaic, there’s no flash support or NFC, you can’t customise the device, you’re forced to use iTunes (which, let’s face it, is shit), you can’t replace the battery and you can’t expand the memory. However, the real pièce de résistance is the fact you’ll now have to go and pay $29 for a Lightning to-30-pin adapter if you don’t want your Apple accessories to become obsolete. Apple couldn’t join everyone else in the phone industry and adopt micro USB connectors could they?! Oh no, Apple knows best!

Although this video is tongue-in-cheek, I can imagine scenes like this taking place in phone stores when the iPhone 5 is released in the UK on September 21st.

I’ll give Steve Jobs his due, he was a marketing genius and thanks to his efforts, the media is putty in Apple’s hands. As Malcolm X once said, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

As the dust settles on Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad, questions must surely be raised about the paucity of top-class goalkeepers at the England manager’s disposal if, god forbid, Joe Hart were to suffer an injury or suspension. Arguments will continue to rage as to who out of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand should have been left behind this summer but little or no attention has been paid to the goalkeeping selections. Rob Green, although a capable shot-stopper at Championship level, froze on his big opportunity in Rustenburg during the ill-fated world cup campaign, while John Ruddy can only be judged against a single season of solid, if unspectacular performances in the top-flight.

Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to make the case for the selection of any other keepers. In fact, I cannot put forward a compelling argument that says Hodgson should have done things any differently. Certainly, one could lobby for the inclusion of Ben Foster had the West Brom stopper not revealed that he does not plan to end a self-imposed exile from international football any time soon. The same applies to Paul Robinson of recently-relegated Blackburn Rovers. Scott Carson, meanwhile, is presumably suffering from being out of sight and out of mind after jetting off to Turkey to rebuild a career blown off track by the infamous Wembley blunder against the Croatians. That only leaves the uncapped David Stockdale of all the remaining Premier League keepers realistically available for selection. Unfortunately for him, first team opportunities have been hard to come by since Mark Schwarzer’s return to fitness earlier this year.

Consequently, Hodgson has had to look to the Championship for a standby keeper and somewhat surprisingly, opted for Birmingham’s Jack Butland. The 19-year old has an impressive pedigree at youth level having represented England at all levels up to the under-21 team but has made just 24 first team appearances in two loan spells at League Two side, Cheltenham Town. All credit to the England boss though, he’s demonstrated that he’s willing to look at the younger players on offer and should one of Hart, Green or Ruddy succumb to injury then tournament experience will be invaluable to Butland’s development as a player. However, none of this detracts from the fact that Hart aside, there just aren’t any top class goalkeepers to choose from nowadays. For me, it is sad that a country once famous for producing the likes of Banks, Shilton, Clemence and Seaman now finds itself in this position.

Is this a damning indictment of the Premier League era where foreign imports increasingly find themselves afforded valuable experience at the expense of homegrown talents? Probably, although when the so-called “golden generation” are collectively cast aside, (as they should have been this time round), we have a potentially solid spine in Phil Jones, Jack Rodwell, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and both Jack Wilshire and Chris Smalling, when fit. Throw Kyle Walker, Josh McEachran, Tom Cleverley and maybe even Connor Wickham into the mix and there are signs for optimism, but only if this young team is left to grow and build a long-lasting understanding with one another. This is the approach successfully adopted by the German team which won many admirers en route to the Semi-Finals of the 2010 World Cup and are much-fancied as champions of this year’s European Championships. Will Hodgson attempt to build a dynasty in this way? Only time will tell.

Irthlingborough Weirdo Watch

Irthlingborough, for those not in the know, is a small town situated next to the River Nene in Northamptonshire and is home to a population of just over 6,000 people. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Irthlingborough is the smallest town in England to have possessed a team that has competed in The Football League. Although diminutive in nature, the town recently entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest concentration of people with a limp in a single location on planet earth. A perfectly-timed glance out of my office window yielded an example of this phenomenon and with a perfunctory adjustment of my webcam, I was able to obtain video evidence. However, due to the fact that everybody is seemingly offended by everything nowadays, I have had to remove the the video in question.

In addition to housing a vast number of inhabitants who, for whatever reason, cannot walk with normal, coordinated gait, Irthlingborough accommodates an utterly bizarre collection of individuals that make the fictitious town of Royston Vasey seem positively normal. Although I have worked here for nigh on a year now, I have inexplicably failed to document any of my numerous encounters with these strange beings. In an effort to rectify this situation, I took a stroll during my lunch break today in the hope of observing some fresh, classic oddness. I wasn’t disappointed.

Upon leaving the office, I was soon struck by the unmistakably pungent aroma of cannabis. Seeking out the origin of this smell, my gaze was drawn immediately to the huge frame of the nearby café owner perched on a small step, her sausage-like fingers clasped around a humongous spliff. I moved swiftly on, resisting the temptation to combine the purchase of a lottery ticket with a haircut from “Toni’s Newsagents & Gentlemen’s Hairdresser” and headed to Tesco. It was here that I had the good fortune to witness a woman wearing a leather waistcoat adorned with a collection of badges (one of which bore the words “fuck you” above a drawing of a fist with its middle finger pointing northwards) clatter into an unsuspecting youngster. Luckily for the victim, a fresh trolley of Hovis wheeled past at precisely the right moment, cushioning his fall and preventing a potentially catastrophic accident. After issuing an admittedly heartfelt apology where the woman (who, incidentally, runs a pub furnished with a coffin, weapons and a stuffed dog) admitted to having had a rather clumsy day, I darted past before she had a chance to sink her flailing elbows into my stomach.

On to Nene Park, now home to newly-relegated Blue Square Bet North side, Kettering Town. To be honest, I hadn’t expected to see any degenerates in the vicinity of the stadium; I was merely here due to a strange fascination that such a grandiose structure should now find itself hosting matches played by such a staggeringly incompetent team. Right on cue, three gentlemen each possessing the poise of a newly-born foal – presumably after imbibing a copious amount of Carlsberg Special Brew earlier that morning in accordance with local custom – staggered past, swearing profusely. At this moment, I stopped for a second, silently musing as to whether the illiterate authors of the sign in an adjacent window had observed the three men who were, quite frankly, absolutely shit-faced. Then it occurred to me – they, themselves were most probably the architects of this grammatical monstrosity.

Sadly, this happened to represent the last of the day’s encounters with absolute fruitcakes. There was no old man wearing an animal beany hat complete with eyes and ears, and no Homer Simpson-esque nutcase chasing a ferret down the high street. Even more disappointing was that the woman who often appears at the window opposite my office, chose not to open her curtains with her breasts exposed today.

In summary, I’m left wondering whether the existence of radon gas, which permeates hundreds of homes throughout Northamptonshire, has had a lasting effect on the county’s inhabitants. It’s safe to say that Irthlingborough, like nearby Wellingborough where I have previously worked, has a population of weirdos that far exceeds the national average.