Bland but budget pinching clothing range all sewn together in some highly unethical third world 'economic fee zone' on the other side of the world?
'Electrical department' selling plasma HD TV's on crippling credit rates to people who in six months time won't be able to afford their weekly Cornflakes let alone a pack of batteries to power up the 60 inch beasts imposing down from their wall broadcasting shitty Sainsbury's commercial?
In store Doctor's Surgery staffed by a pimply South London Yoof who looks like he could do with the entire store supply of Clearasil and who literally doesn't know his arse from his elbow, let alone his palpitations from his piles?
Gypo's Corner, the Aisle of Delight where the appearance of reduced price red stickers makes me the happiest man in SW8 once a week?
They've only gone and replaced my Gypo's Corner with an organic vegetable selection.
A difficult day. Something to do with a lack of motivation the morning after the night before.
China White's you ask? A bit of bling at Browns up town? Or keeping it local at Queen Anne's at Vauxhall as the jam jar is passed around and you deposit your grubby 50p piece inside before depositing one in the toilets after the 'stage show?'
What happened to Terry Wilson?
Nope. None of the above. The BEST Saturday night EVER though; eight bottles of Becks (60p, past their sell by date at Sainsbury's,) spotting myself on the recently re-purchased Wembley Wembley video and then falling asleep with Diesel Park West on the Pod.
mrs obb was not best pleased:
'Sort it out you sad twat. You're entering middle age and you're still stuck in your youth.'
City Ground - oh mist rolling in from the Trent... came the witty reply.
She punished me by putting me on midnight Slug Duty, banished into the backyard to toss the fuckers over the garden wall before they take up home in our wine cellar.
And so Sunday morning came round (rather too soon); I had an impressive collection of empty beer bottles, happy memories of back in the day with the boys in The Trent End and a bangin' headache to match the one when some Spuz meathead lamped me I was crossing Trent Bridge some twenty years ago.
Sunday was sort of planned, albeit with the plans now put back a couple of hours. Sunday Service can wait for another week after my Saturday night praying at the altar of Brian.
A swim sorted me out. Brixton Rec is about to bloody close (again,) for something like the twentieth time this year. Something to do with 'essential repairs to the female changing facilities.'
The dirty little fuckers.
As payback, our lady friends have been temporarily housed with the men. Sadly not in a mixed sense, but a bit of plywood has been erected (etc) to screen off the Battle of the Sexes. Being Brixton and the first few peep holes have already appeared. I did take a look last week but it put me right off my asparagus.
Fifty lengths later and I was a new man. Bye bye mid-80's in the East Midlands, hello to a day in the saddle around the Smoke.
A few business dealings in town, and then I was free for some photography. Euston Square had been established as the location for The Way We See It this week.
I'm no fan of North London, but I do rather like the stretch from Fleet Street up Grays Inn Road and heading up towards Euston. It's an old work patch and I know most of the local pubs and parks.
With overcast weather, I had planned a bit of black and white photography. But even with bruising skies, there was still some colour to be found in NW1.
The short hop down Euston Road to King's Cross is finally starting to take shape. The new St Pancras is almost complete, although thankfully hidden away behind the Midland Grand Hotel in all its gothic splendor.
Failing light drew an end to the photography and it was time to cycle back down South. Yer Man Brian (my fave new Irish singer songwriter that I have met following an appearance at a private party to celebrate the 50th birthday of some bloke wearing a kilt) kept me entertained all the way back to The Oval.
And so Sunday wasn't the write off that it first threatened. A spot of moonlighting later in the evening and then we're back to Wembely Wembely.
One week you're watching ice hockey and writing about the 100% REAL men that make up the Streatham Redskins; the next you find yourself signing up for the school netball team in the staff room.
I don't know if I'm Arthur or Martha at the moment, although worryingly the gym slip suits me more than the ice hockey gear.
Any port in a storm
I support a football team that proudly plays in pink 'n blue, and so I should have had no shame in having a girly South London weekend of sporting action But netball? Blimey. Isn't that the game that Graham Norton turned down on the grounds that it wouldn't be good for his image?
The trials took place for the staff team last weekend. Sisters may be doin' it for themselves (as mrs onionbagblogger keeps on reminding me) but the big girls still need a few tasty geezers around them to put it about, so to speak.
Working in an environment where the women outnumber the men 10:1 has its advantages. It's any port in a storm at staff parties, but the payback time comes when it's time to play netball. And so I found myself being forced to wear a bib (not something you see down at Millwall) and told to 'pivot into some space.' I might as well have put on a pink party frock and skipped down the Walworth Road singing 'Look at me! I'm a pretty Princess!'
But a man who mocks netball is a man who messes with the Sisterhood. I was marked by some bird the other staff affectionately address as the Bermondsey Bruiser. True to form, Mss (you don't say) Bruiser left her mark on my bollocks. And this wasn't an any port in a storm situation either. I retired from the trials, battered and blue and vowing to take up a more manly pastime.
Anyone for maypole dancing?
But before I had the chance to Skip to the Loo My Darling (to check out the damage down below,) I had more manly pursuits to pursue. It was all aboard the testosterone tram to exotic Croydon for a tub thumping rough and tumble game of, um, korfball.
Crickey - I'm sure that some Professor at the University of Peckham could write a thesis on the Feminisation of South London Sport. Standing on the terraces at Selhurst would be a good starting point. But my weekend was a classic case study in how the girls have got us by the short and curlies.
My manhood is under threat; not from Germaine Greer but from some silly sport that requires an equal male-female ratio as part of the rules. I accept that at home my role is to simply make up the numbers. But in a sporting situation?
Croydon is actually the korfballing capital of the country. Given that the Dutch game is played by social misfits who can't meet members of the opposite sex outside of a forced sporting setting, we really shouldn't be too surprised.
The game didn't get off to a great start for my team, Supernova of SW8. 2:0 down within two minutes with one male member being flattened by a female. My joke about burning bras to eradicate any inadequacies between team members went down about as well as Germaine Greer on Graham Norton.
Someone had to make a stand for masculinity, and so with a quick skip and a slap of my thigh, I scored Supernova's first goal, pulled my shirt over my head in celebration, only to find that I was in more need of a bra than some of my female team members.
True to from, Croydon were a bit crap. We went onto win 4:2 with the men in the team doing all the work whilst the women formed a knitting circle along the sidelines. No shirt swapping at full time and no celebratory hugs. Who do you think we are? Premiership prima donnas?
If the Stockwell Christmas tree is standing, it must mean it's that time of year again: the annual onionbagblogappraisalnavel gazing bollocks.
It's what I do...
Two years ago I aborted obb after seeing the errection of the Stockwell Christmas tree. I felt inadequate. Not in a phallic way (my member ISN'T green and spikey, decorated in cheapo Woolworth lights and liable to be pissed on by the Porto pissheads at 3am.)
Nope, it was the cyclical nature of blogging that had brought me full circle. Twelve months previous I had banged on about the errection of the bloody Christmas tree. A month by month read of the archives and I realised that I was in a rut. I had said all that I wanted to say.
Nothing to worry about - life at obb HQ I was serene, if a little stagnant. I could almost make my own calendars for Christmas presents each year; in the winter months I watch Dulwich, the Redskins and the Towersthe Topcats; spring signals the start of The Globe season, and if I'm lucky, the long Lido Days ahead; summer is spent sunbathing in various South London outdoorpools, getting legless at the Lambeth Show and making a twat of myself at the Home of Cricket; come autumn and the summer / winter sports crossover period commences, I'm back at school and I decide that I want a new job.
And then I blog about it all. See you next year etc.
And so two years ago it was bye bye onionbagblog. You've read all about my year, now bugger off elsewhere. But like most lapsed bloggers, I found my feet once again (not to mention the booze) which has been keeping me busy ever since.
Having fingered myself (oh yes,) I found it more rewarding to bypass the mainstream knobber media whores and keep it local.
TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T ALREADY KNOW is the mantra. It's served me well for the past twenty four months.
And so here we are once again - the Stockwell Christmas tree is standing and I have resisted the chance to capture it on camera (so far) this year. That's the upwardly mobile nature of living at The Oval for you.
What have I learnt / achieved over the past twelve months?
I've a new wardrobe (both in carpentry and clothing) and I'm feeling very settled. Tea continues to be my main addiction.
And so thanks for your continued reading and support. I still don't know what it's all about, it's just something that I do. Friendships have been made offline out of obb which I value greatly. More traditional offline friendships have found out the best place where to keep a watchful eye over me.
Now please excuse me whilst I go for a quick feel of the spikey green thing covered in lights that the Portos piss over for fun.
'The area now features offices, private housing, a large hotel, shops and restaurants, a yachting marina and other recreational facilities. It remains a popular leisure destination.'
So speaks the wonderful Mr Wikipedia on St Katherine's Dock. Not a high priority then on the onionbagblog wish list of must see London. But I cycled across Tower Bridge on Sunday morning on my continuing tour of the capital with The Way We See It.
And what did I see?
...offices, private housing, a large hotel blah blah blah bollocks. This IS NOT obb London. This is what London would look like under a *shudder* Tory Mayor. Well, it's what about 1% of London would like whilst the rest of us are kept out by the already prying private security guards currently controlling St Katherine's Dock.
And under what jurisdiction are they enforcing by asking me not to take photographs on a piece of public land? No answer was offered and so I continued with my shoot.
Mr W also remarks that 'much of St Katherine's Dock was bombed during the War.'
'Give him a ball and a yard of grass, He'll give you room for the perfect pass.'
I've been making plans for Nigel all week. Shame I didn't make plans for the dodgy District Line that I had hoped would take me all the way to delightful Dagenham to see the Daggers be humbled by Burton Albion.
C'mon, the Young Man
It's all about the Number 9, you see. The Young Man is the manager of Burton Albion. He's also my boyhoodmanhood hero. Whenever young Nige is in town, it's only fair that I go along to support him, in acknowledgement of all the fantastic memories he gave me at Forest.
I was there for Nigel when he made his Forest debut; I was with the team of bright young things when they gave us an annual Wembley awayday in the late '80s. I cried alongside Nigel when we were relegated. We both even share the shame birthday. My Dad wasn't a dictator though.
And so on a beautifully sunny late November afternoon, I found myself once again at a football ground alongside the Number 9, the same thing that I had been doing some twenty years ago. I didn't think that the reunion would take place during a day out to Dagenham.
Another Saturday afternoon, another failure to see the kick off. For Dulwich read Dagenham. But there was to be no sprint across South London at ten to three; instead a shitty cross town journey that explored all the intricacies of an integrated transport policy.
The East End / Essex Badlands are sometimes given a bad name, usually by me, having had the misfortune to live in North Essex for three years. But just like a Brian Clough bollocking, the closer you get to the epicenter, the more it becomes a backs against the wall situation.
Dagenham was a fucking dump. A lone punk eyeballed me as I exited the station. I doubt if Nigel's dad would have approved of the mohican. A short hop to the Glyn Hopkin Stadium (this is Essex, remember) and I was given the eyeball treatment twice more - first by a fearsome rotweiller, shortly followed by a shaven headed geezer giving it to me large, much like his XXXL West Ham top.
Welcome to Sunny Essex.
There was more meathead action once inside the delightful Glyn Hopkins sporting arena. The stench of stale meat being reheated and then put into a pie was rife. I let rip to cleanse the afternoon air.
What a fucking dump. What was I doing in Dagenham when I could have been back in the Beautiful South, sitting at home and slurping tea all afternoon? The very same thing that I was doing some twenty years ago - watching Young Nigel having fun at a football ground.
'You're not from Essex, Sir, are you?' commented the Old Bill.
Do I really look Northern? Admittedly I was wearing a cravat (TRUE!) and I hadn't spent my Saturday morning having my hair drip dried in gel.
'Um, no Officer. Is it possible to be escorted to the away end please?'
And so I had the red carpet treatment, taken around the ground to join the boys from Derbyshire.
Talk about the Devil and the deep blue sea.
But the Burton Boys were alright. All of a certain age, and all probably share the same birthday as Nigel. I bet they all live in South London actually and were also making an annual Nigel Watch pilgrimage.
The red carpet was replaced with a prayer mat and I spent most of the match watching the Young Man, rather than the football itself. A wise move it seemed; there was a definite step up from my traditional Dulwich fix, but Nigel hasn't been listening to Brian. The ball was continually airborne, which gave the young Essex oiks sitting nearby the opportunity to toss a blown up condom in my direction.
Half time came and I was brave enough to buy a cup of tea. Feral North Derbyshire Yoof wearing short sleeved replica kits and chain smoking their way through a pack of twenty didn't quite approve of my cravat.
'Ya daft cunt,' they declared.
Being stuck in Dagenham on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by a bunch of sheepshaggers and I wasn't exactly in a position to offer a witty retort back. I couldn't think of one anyway.
'Um, yeah!!!!' I had to agree.
With the Brewers drooping at 2:0 down, Dagenham were looking even more dangerous than their supporters.
'C'mon the Young Man, get yer boots on. I've not come all the way to this Essex hell hole to see you stand on the touchline wearing your white trainers.'
'Ya daft cunt,' said mrs onionbagblogger.
The presence of an ex-sheepshagger in the Burton goal wasn't a good omen, and even after a late penalty save, Poole let in a second spot kick just before full time.
Nigel did the handshaking thing and then boarded the team bus back to Burton, probably for a Saturday evening of cataloguing his butterfly collection.
'Do Burton play Redbridge straight after this game?' asked mrs obb.
Forget Eastenders - the plot for South Siders is shaping up lovely jubbly. A quick re-cap:
Sexy Simes falls out with Iain. Something about who forgot to put the lid back on the sun tan lotion. Iain leaves South London for Our Friends in the North, and then returns to the Beautiful South the next day, just to have a dig at Sexy Simes.
You couldn't make it up
Over in SE6, Big Al, the longest serving character in South Siders, decides to retire. Time for a right old knees up as Big Al is given a carriage clock and a calendar, just to remind him that the football season ends in May and not mid-January.
No sooner has Big Al settled into his beauty sleep (look at those eyes!) and Iain is shuffled into the SE6 hot seat. Sexy Simes is not happy and threatens to call in the Old Bill.
Over at Selhurst and another Friend from the North begins a stint in the Beautiful South with Pete taking over at the Palace.
Happily ever after?
Iain is out of his depth, Pete sinks lower than Gillian Taylforth and Sexy Simes keeps on talking to anyone who will listen. Which is usually his reflection in the mirror.
Where will it all end? Iain is left in limbo after leaving the Valley of the Dolls. Back to Our Friends in the North, or a return 'home' to play happy families with Sexy Simes once more? Pete could perhaps return to Our Friends in the North (also known as To Hull and Back) with his northern clan not exactly pulling in the ratings in his absence.
And what of Big Al? A staring role in Bagpuss, or back to the Beautiful South? We've not even started to summarise the Millwall manager sub-plot yet either.
'Cos ultimately, all banks are KNOBBERS, aren't they? It's even in the name, the international symbol for a five fingered shuffle.
But lookey here - what's this? MYbank (yep, they invest MY money) has now introduced a Working Class Tax.
Fucking spud monkeys.
Here's how it works...
Fuck off First Direct
As from February next year, I will be charged 10 quid per month for not earning a fuck off salary. I need to deposit in excess of one and a half grand into my account EACH MONTH to avoid paying the Working Class Tax.
I'd rather deposit a freshly laid turd in the letterbox of the twats, except they're nu media knobbers and are not only clueless, but also branchless.
But wait - there's some saving grace; if I want to be a total Terry Fuckwit, I can avoid paying the Working Class Tax by allowing my bank to laugh further still at my low income and let them rip me off with a 'financial product.'
Fuck right off Jack; there's a reason why I don't take out your wanky financial products - your interest rates are higher than a kite being flown on Clap'ham Common during a force ten gale.
I told all of this to the 'Customer Facilitator' (telesales,) albeit in a rather restrained way, aware that she was only doing her shitty job and her salary probably puts her up for payment of the Working Class Tax as well. I wasn't so reserved when speaking to her Supervisor.
And so its account closedown time for me; twenty years of wbanking with the fuckers coming to an end overnight with a corporate greed policy that even the Bearded Hippy Twat would find hard to beat. I've been banking with the useless tossers ever since I received my first salary. I can trace a line back to HSBC and then all the way back to the Midland Bank days with the good old Griffin the, um, griffin.
Suddenly the free Griffin pencil case that swung it for me back in the day seems like a different age.
A ten quid Working Class Tax a month leaves a sour taste in the mouth. If the knobbers want to make some money out of me, I'd suggest stop sending me the thrice weekly pile of corporate crap that I get through the post from First Direct. At least I save ten pounds per month on toilet paper.
Fuck off First Direct. Your pencil case was shite anyway.
And so was all the cycling woe of Sunday worth it? Mmm. So so. The end result was a quick photo shoot with The Way We See It at Coleville Place, W1, one of my favourite off-West End streets.
Good luck, luv
It's the kind of stretch that looks out of place in the area, a bit like the original onionbagblog HQ back in the balmy Brixton days. A small terraced street that wouldn't look out of place in the back streets of Notting Hill, but right in the centre of NoHo?
Most of the houses are all painted in a pastel shade, providing a perfect Mediterranean look whenever the sun has got its hat on, slightly surreal though in the pissing rain.
True to form, I forgot to photograph any.
Adjacent to Coleville Place is a charming little park, which provided me with the backdrop for most of my photo action. I've got previous form here, 'discovering' it whilst on a school trip, much to the relief of the other adults who weren't looking forward to entertaining a class of six year-olds for forty five minutes in the West End whilst we waited for a nearby attraction to open.
As soon as I arrived on Sunday morning, I knew that everything was going to be alright. TWWSI works like that. Give me strong sunlight, greenery and some geezers going about their business and I know that I can come up with some half decent images..
An hour later and the sunlight had clouded over, not to return, even as I type right now. It's a strange time of the year; Halloween and Bonfire Night over and done with (and thank fuck for that,) Christmas still not quite close enough to get excited about.
I'm well and truly back in the fold at school, following my two day sabbatical with the right wing mainstream knobber media whores last week. One week you're criticising Mr Tony for his wishy washy liberalism (TRUE!) the next week and you're elbow deep in papier mache making giant light bulbs out of blown up balloons that look more like 50 DD titties. Thankfully I work with a like minded male who is able to give me a glint in his eye whenever we touch base. A bit different from last year, then.
Ah yes, and so onto other matters. How did we get here from TWWSI? It's difficult to avoid right now to be honest. Astute readers will be aware that we are in countdown mode, coming very close to the end game.
Good luck, luv.
Mixed feelings, but looking forward to the enforced period of absence.