I dreamed a dream…

…and it sucked.

It’s a recurring theme of late: interesting or decent dreams that can’t seem to reach a satisfying endgame without turning bizarre or enormously disappointing in the style of a rug being whipped out from beneath one’s feet. I was having a good one this morning for example but it was just a massive tease, the conclusion seeing me being royally screwed over and humiliated.

But it got me thinking: do common narratives weaved into the fabric of my sleepy adventures actually mean anything? Are the similar conclusions pointing towards something?

I should say that I’m not one of these people who believe in “reading” dreams. Furthermore, I also don’t believe that dreams are prophetic or magical in any way. I’ve always considered dreams to simply be the sewage of our subconsciousness, constructed from recent events in our lives and ancient, archived data (hence the random appearance of faces from our past). Brain farts if you feel like using a totally non-glamourous term.

This morning’s brain-fart for example featured the main high street in my local town centre (something I see frequently) and a girl that I know (and also see semi-frequently). It also – randomly and very briefly – featured the actress Ali Bastian. Probably because I recently saw her on TV and remembered how ridiculously fit she is, even moreso now that she’s older than she was in her Hollyoaks/The Bill days.

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[image: dreams.co.uk]
Anyway, I’m not sure that these specific elements or features are that important, nor are the actual surface level events in dreams. As I said, I don’t believe in the mystical ooga-booga interpretations of what our idle brains conjure up but I DO think our dreams are a reflection of our desires, fears and insecurities. The actual events of a dream mean nothing but they might be a vehicle for your innermost insecurities and longings to make themselves known. That’s what I think anyway.

As somebody who is very interested in trying to pin down their core, personal values (no matter how shitty they may be), I find myself wondering if dreams may help in some way, even if they can simply kickstart a thought train. I feel like a fucking idiot for even musing over the idea but I’m also intrigued to do some research and see what theories are out there. Dreams are just one of a gazillion things that I often wonder about but never bother to look further into. Obviously, I’m aware that I will be sifting through the crackpot notions but in general, I want to research answers to stuff rather than simply wondering aimlessly before returning my focus to real life. And why not begin with dreams?

I would be interested to hear the ideas and beliefs of others so feel free to share in the comments.

My notebook obsession

Well, I don’t have a particular subject to discuss today. There’s nothing I feel like reviewing and I’m currently suffering with a condition that advanced medicine describes as my-back-is-fucked-itis so I’m not really in the mood to be sampling and analysing the world’s batshit-crazy excuses for “news” stories today. Instead I thought I’d reflect briefly on a newfound obsession of mine which – like all good obsessions – seems to have snuck up on me like a stealthy ninja moving through the shadows.

Notebooks: I appear to accumulated a fair few of them…

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I’m sure that I had a purpose or use in mind each and every time I spent money on these hunks of murdered trees but if I’m being honest, I can’t recall those no-doubt noble intentions.

The two tabbed project books were probably bought for projects that never got off the ground while the Moleskines were likely attempts at keeping personal journals, something I’m hopeless at. Others I bought just because they, err…looked nice?

Perhaps I have a strange fetish for notebooks that is only now revealing itself. If I ever have trouble getting it up between the sheets then I’ll definitely broach the idea of a threesome…with a nice, quality hard-backed notebook. Complete with elasticated strap of course.

They’re everywhere too. Some are stuffed down the side of the bed (for those late night writing sessions), others are on my desk where I tend to treat them as mere scrap paper for noting shit down and then there are unused notebooks stacked up beneath the desk in amongst piles of other crap (that I really should get around to sorting). Even as I’m typing this post, I’ve just remembered that there’s another mini notebook in the drawer on my left – also with no defined purpose.

The question is, do they even need a purpose? Even in this digital age, there’s always a call for a bit of paper to write something down on or record research. You can’t beat a good old-fashioned hard copy after all. And I do sometimes like to write reviews and stuff on physical paper first, just to keep the quality of my writing in good order. Writing is also fast becoming a lost art and people with GOOD handwriting are an endangered species, under threat from the invading forces of Tabletonia and Laptopolis – high tech civilisations that have steadily been infilitrating society and making the populance smarter (debatable).

So maybe there is nothing to worry about. Maybe I’ve just trivialised something entirely pointless in order to generate a filler post for the day. Even so, I still look at those mostly blank pages and think, “why?”

Roadman

I’m only twenty-eight years of age but already, I regularly find that I’m slipping behind with slang and the language of the “cool” kids. It really is an effort to keep up when everybody your own age continues to use the same slang that we did ten years or so ago. In short, you just aren’t exposed to the new wordz on the street so unless you work with some younger people or have a much younger partner then you really can’t be blamed for thinking “huh?” when you hear some of that fresh speak.

But I like to believe that I’ve been doing okay recently. That is until I heard a new descriptive from somebody in their early twenties.

Roadman.

To me, a “Roadman” is a hi-vis, hardhat-wearing road construction worker. I might even be able to believe that it could be the title of a so-bad-it’s-awesome 80’s B-Movie but it turns out that a Roadman is neither of these things.

“Roadman” is apparently the new term for “Boy Racer” or “Chav”.

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The standard chariot of a Boy Racer Roadman [image: Daily Mail]
You know the sort. They drive around in cheap hatchback cars that have been dressed up to look and sound furious. They believe that dropping their car, fitting a wobbly, oversized exhaust (de-silenced of course) and applying crappy cosmetic upgrades can result in a car that is superior to the standard factory version that a manufacturer spent millions on designing. Said cars are so powerful that they are unable to stick to speed limits in built-up urban areas (don’t forget that each bit of tacky plastic bolted on to the exterior adds at least an extra 10bhp) and the obnoxious, thundering exhaust note rattles windows in its quest to disguise the car’s 1.2l origins.

As for the owners of these superb automobiles, you will usually find them backed up in the corner of a McDonalds carpark with their seats dropped as low as they can go and reclined so far backwards that they are essentially lying down. Supermarket carparks and desolate industrial estates are alternative haunts for the Roadmen and their supercar-terrorising bean can exhausts on wheels. They don’t tend to do anything in particular other than simply hang around in tracksuits, smoking spliffs, littering and saying things like “Know what I mean, mate?”, “Innit, bruv” or “Wag one, geez”

Thing is, the name “Roadman” is too good for these people. First of all, it includes the word “man” and it’s difficult to consider Adidas-garbed, drug-smoking loiterers who see the Vauxhall Corsa as a serious performance vehicle as actual men. Secondly, it’s an insult to the guys working on the roads who are getting confused with jobless boy racers still living off mommy and daddy.

I’d like to know where the Roadman name originated from but I fear it may involve unearthing a dastardly scheme by the more elite chavs to give their creed some more credibility via the establishment of a new, more serious umbrella term for people like them. It’s the kind of shit that may result in me being made to disappear after a few days of being tailed by black undercover vehicles. Fortunately I’m reasonably confident that I’d be able to spot the operatives of this arm of the MIB thanks to the quaking exhaust note of their cars.

So, the Roadmen. Now you know.

Should you still listen to the music of disgraced artists? [ft. R Kelly and Lostprophets]

Back when I was a sixth form student (or “college” in other words), I didn’t have much money at all and I wasn’t clued-up on the dark arts of ‘acquiring’ music for zero outlay so I used to listen to the same handful of CDs – ripped to my MP3 player – over and over. Liberation Transmission by Lostprophets was the soundtrack of my sixth form days and the singles released from the album (Rooftops, A Town Called Hypocrisy and Can’t Catch Tomorrow) were still being played over and over on Kerrang Radio so there was no escaping the Welsh band’s sound…not that I wanted to anyway.

I left education behind in 2008, just as the job market was at a seriously bad point. The recession (sparked by the banking crisis) had hit and jobs were thin on the ground. CV’s went ignored and countless applications for basic office roles were turned down again and again. Eventually, the Job Centre (a government-run set-up here in the UK that is supposed to help you find employment and also ensure that you ARE properly looking for work if you want to keep your unemployment benefit money) sent me on an ’employability’ course which was probably one of the most miserable, demeaning experiences of my life. That’s a story for another day though. Why I mention it at all is because Lostprophets’ music (still on that ancient MP3 player!) got me through those dark days.

So to say I liked their music would be an understatement.

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[image: NME.com]
But then, in December 2012, front man Ian Watkins was arrested and charged with thirteen counts of sexual offences against children including the attempted rape of a one-year-old girl. To say that the news came as a shock was as much an understatement as me saying that I thought his band’s music was just “all right”. It was the sort of headline that you hope isn’t true but unfortunately, Watkins later pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 29 years in prison.

After that, I was left with a moral dilemma: do I still listen to Lostprophets as I had done before Watkins’ terrible crimes came to light? All around me, others had made up their minds. The band’s music vanished from the airwaves, Music Magpie (a company that buys unwanted CDs/DVDs/Games) wouldn’t accept my Lostprophets albums when I was having a clear-out and people were saying that they felt dirty themselves if they listened to the band.

I’ve even been told that listening to Lostprophets means that YOU are also a paedophile which is utterly ridiculous and a fucking stupid thing to say.

In the end, I decided that I WOULD continue to listen to Lostprophets for several reasons.

  1. I’ve never been the kind of person to ‘follow’ bands/artists closely beyond enjoying their music so in many cases, I don’t even know what they look like in real life. Ian Watkins was one such case so I didn’t have that problem of seeing and hearing ‘him’ when listening to the music, something that others have cited as their reason(s) for no longer being able to listen to Lostprophets.
  2. I remembered that Lostprophets was more than just Watkins. Yes, he sang the songs but they were the work of a group and the rest of the guys weren’t to blame for what had happened.
  3. Because fuck everybody else and what they thought. I liked Lostprophets’ music and their songs meant something to me, taking my head back to the times (for better or worse…) where I hammered the Liberation Transmission and Start Something albums.

I can see why people chose to sever ties completely though. After all, buying and playing their music is kind of supporting a convicted sex criminal in a way. You also can’t cruise around with their tunes belting from your car either because the majority of people simply don’t see it as the done thing.

The uncomfortable truth however is that good music doesn’t stop sounding good just because the singer got banged up for heinous crimes. I genuinely believe that overly vocal former Lostprophets fans who loudly reject the music they once adored still like what they hear but refuse to admit it. Because doing so is seen as taking the side of criminal or even condoning his despicable actions. Bullshit in my opinion. Does a beautiful woman look any less sexy for being a murderer? Is vast wealth and power any less appealing despite being the cause of devastating wars and the oppression of the less fortunate? Do fast cars become any less desirable even though they pollute the atmosphere more than sensible vehicles?

Me, I prefer to just be honest and simplify the whole thing. After all, you can say the ‘correct’ thing in public but lying to yourself is foolish and impossible to boot. So…

I like Lostprophets’ music.

I don’t like Ian Watkins. What he did is fucking disgusting and (by all accounts) utterly predatory. I don’t give a fuck what happens to him in prison.

But now it is happening again, this time with R&B singer R Kelly who turned himself into the police last week. Kelly is accused of multiple sexual assaults, several of the alleged victims being minors at the time. Now this isn’t such a big deal for me personally as I’ve never been a massive R Kelly fan beyond a few songs (a quick look at the bloated music library on my phone revealed that I only have She’s Got That Vibe and Bump N’ Grind) but even so, if Kelly is convicted, will we have to ask ourselves the same questions again? Will his songs be removed from existence as if they never happened?

FILE PHOTO: Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles
[image: tekportal.net]
In the case of R Kelly I can take it or leave it. I like the couple of tracks I have but I’m not bothered either way. They certainly don’t feature in my “Most Played” playlist.

Real fans will have a decision to make however and it will be interesting to see the outcome although I’m already made up on how I think it will go down based on the fallout of Ian Watkins’ crimes.

What would you do?

Car Talk: You can’t beat a sunny Sunday afternoon drive

A strange thing has happened here in Brexit land the UK over the past week: it has been warm and sunny in February. I realise that temperatures of around 15C (give or take a few either way depending on the day) probably sound chilly to some of you but over here, we go crazy for it. Ice cream vans come out of their temporary winter retirement, people immediately start wearing shorts and outdoor attractions are taken by surprise as the whole country turns out to enjoy a quick fix of what is surely a fake dosage of “summer”. Regrettably the womenfolk aren’t all fooled so easily so if you are ready to appreciate the wonders of short-shorts and flimsy vest tops then I’m afraid it’s a false dawn. Be patient.

To put things into perspective, this time last year we were in the grip of The Beast From The East and had snow/ice on the ground. We were all miserable and gloomy as we should be at this time of year. On a side note, the so-called ‘Beast’ was a bit of a wimp and social media enjoyed exaggerrating it’s powers and overly-dramatising the kind of snow and low temperatures that I’m sure other countries would scoff at. Unfortunately, we are not used to snow here in Britain and so the reality of the situation was distorted by our lack of hardiness and also the stupidity of certain people who believe it’s perfectly fine to drive at normal speeds on ice in powerful, rear wheel drive German cars.

Winter and our inability to deal with a few centimetres of snow is a whole other topic for another time however.

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I’m here to talk about the joys of going for a drive for the sake of it, something I do quite often but an undeniably more attractive proposition when the weather is great as it was this Sunday. I’m fortunate to live not far from some beautiful, picturesque countryside and fantastic driving roads so it was with zero hesitation that I decided to spend Sunday afternoon attacking the lanes in my car and cruising through laid-back English villages, lapping up the lazy Sunday afternoon atmosphere and sunshine. Sunglasses and race driver wannabe Alpinestars gloves on. Window dropped all the way down. Tunes pumping from the speakers (old school House courtesy of 808 State, 28th Street Crew and Frankie Knuckles).

My chariot for this jaunt is also my daily driver: an FN2 generation Honda Civic Type-R. the last gasp (quite literally) of naturally aspirated, high-revving V-TEC power before regulations and emissions bullshit forced Honda to start turbocharging their engines. I’ve had the car for almost four years and absolutely love it. The styling still strikes me as futuristic and it’s perfectly useable as an urban runabout or daily commuter (aside from the spine-shaking suspension…) but on a day like the Sunday just gone, I can really enjoy winding that 2.0 lump up into the high ranges of the rev counter and listening to the building banshee wail as V-TEC kicks in (yo).

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[image: autocar.co.uk]
The only downside (other than watching the fuel guage deplete…) is that you are always aware that the FN2 isn’t quite as dynamic as it’s predecessor, the much-loved EP3 Civic Type-R. The rear suspension for example isn’t independent and so you have to watch that the back end doesn’t break away upon hitting crested/bumpy corners at silly speeds. You have to push hard for such a disaster to occur of course but the possibility lives in the back of my mind.

I tend to try and stay somewhere in between subdued and mental, making sure to have my fun without being a lunatic. By day I work as a delivery driver and have to suffer sluggish, speed-restricted and tracked vans so it’s good to let loose on a day off and feel that freedom.

Sundays see many car lovers bring their pride and joy out of storage, even more so when the sun is shining. You can see some great stuff, both classic and modern. Highlights for me this weekend were a Triumph TR6, B5 gen Audi RS4 Avant and a McLaren (don’t ask me which though; aside from the F1 and P1, I’m hopeless at distinguishing which is which).

I suggest that anybody into cars or driving takes the opportunity to enjoy a sunny Sunday when possible and just go for that destination-less drive. To me, little else is as satisfying as booting it along British B-roads and lanes while working a manual ‘box and simply feeling in-sync with your car. Too often these days the media tries to make us petrolheads feel guilty for stubbornly sticking with loud, unapologetic, polluting sports cars and I sometimes wonder if such basic pleasures will be forcibly taken away from us one day for “the greater good”.

Enjoy it while you can.

“Baby On Board” signs are bullshit

You know the things I’m talking about, right? Well, maybe I’m being a bit ignorant as I don’t actually know how popular these stupid things are outside of the UK. So…example time!

baby-on-board-mobile

So what is the purpose of these must-have accessories? Well, there IS one legitimate reason: so that emergency services can identify which vehicles in a pile-up may contain occupants unable to extract themselves. Thing is though, I think we can safely discount this sensible reason since a) how many parents remove the signs when their kid isn’t in the car? and b) I would be willing to bet real, folding money that 99% of drivers displaying these yellow diamonds don’t buy them for that reason. So that leaves us with two species of “Baby On Board” adopters.

The first are those annoying parents or self-centred stay-at-home moms who have had a child and act like they are the most important person in the world. Possibly while bombing around town in monstrous, luxury SUV’s (such as the Audi SQ7 or BMW X6) that they can’t even park let alone pilot through traffic. Abominable, over-powered vehicles that were bought for them by their building contractor partner who is, incidentally, a hulking 7ft brick shithouse channelling the essence of Phil Mitchell. They absolutely NEED that much steel and autonomous technology around them to protect them and their little darling while they apply lipstick at a red light or check Facebook to see how Chardonnay’s big night out with the girls went.

To them, the “Baby On Board” signs are just a fashion accessory, something to tell the world that THEY are a mommy.

The second sort are the people who put such signs up in their rear window to discourage dangerous drivers and this specifically is where I have a problem because why should you be driving dangerously around ANY vehicle? Now I do understand that as a parent, your child’s safety is of upmost importance and that – as a consequence – the reckless road manners of others might suddenly be magnified in your mind’s eye.

But still…it’s like have a special exemption from shit drivers when nobody should have to deal with them or the potential consequences. It sends out a message that tailgating or savage overtakes shouldn’t be totally condemned, just put on hold if there’s a “Baby On Board” sign in front. If some chav scutter loses control of his Impreza at 60mph+ in a residential area and kills a random bloke in another car then it’s a tragedy but hey…as long as he was behaving himself around cars with “Baby On Board” signs…

I just think it’s bullshit.

Car Talk: The 2019 Toyota Supra is just a fake

Is that a harsh statement to make? A blunt assessment perhaps? Well I don’t particularly care. Remember which blog you’re reading here. After all, I am petrolhead amongst other things and a big lover of Japanese metal at that. The A80 (1993-2002) Supra from Toyota is the car I’ve always lusted for the most but good luck acquiring a nice condition manual car here in the UK without some good money in the bank. I’m not the only lover of Toyota’s winged beast either and fans have been eagerly anticipating the A90 follow-up for eons. We’ve had to make do with countless rumours, concepts and prototypes in the meantime, none of which ever amounted to anything concrete.

Until now.

Except…the car is just a fucking BMW with a Toyota shell on top of it. Now I’m not knocking BMW as they make some fantastic cars and you’d better believe that several have made it onto my wishlist over the years. You will be getting a well-engineered product for sure but it’s not Japanese, not a Toyota and certainly not a real Supra.

It’s like an attractive German lady wearing a kimono and playing at being Japanese. The European facial features and German accent are impossible to conceal however.

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[image: carmagazine.co.uk]
The Supra exists on a BMW platform. It has a BMW interior with that instantly recognisable steering wheel shape/design and large tablet-like screen. Even the HUD and menus look the same as you’d find on a BMW’s. The biggest sin is reserved for the engine bay however as Toyota have again borrowed from BMW, using their 2.0 turbo’d four cylinder or a turbo’d 3.0 straight-six. There’s no manual ‘box option either. The BEST part? Probably the Supra badge on the rump that uses the same font as its predecessor’s. That’s a pretty crappy realisation.

It’s a Supra in name only as far as I’m concerned. A generation of car lovers has grown up on the likes of Gran Turismo and The Fast and the Furious, eagerly awaiting the day when Toyota release a new Supra for their generation to buy and enjoy. This is, in my opinion, a sorry excuse for a final product but it’s not really Toyota’s fault.

Y’see, the market has changed since the 90’s and early 2000’s. Estate cars, saloons, coupes and sports cars have all been killed off by the rampant SUV disease. All that consumers appear to aspire to these days are big, blobby, artless crossovers that foster a superiority complex with their jacked-up driving positions. Ugly, nondescript boxes that all look the same (regardless of manufacturer) and are leased on popular PCP finance deals. Add to this the growing number of drivers that have no interest in cars and treat them as mere appliances and you hardly have an ideal environment for sports cars.

You can’t blame Toyota for supplying what people are buying. It’s business after all. So it’s a miracle that the 2019 Supra exists at all and if it wasn’t down to Toyota president, Akio Toyoda and his love for sports cars, then nobody else would have forced the project through to production. The cost was grave though and meant that money needed to be saved hence the collaboration with BMW and use of their engines. Even so, the Supra is still unlikely to turn a profit for the company (from what I’ve read at least).

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Welcome to the new BMW Z4…sorry, I meant SUPRA. [image: carmagazine.co.uk]
So we have to be thankful that we are even at this stage then. But who is going to buy it? Show-offs and trendy types possibly or buyers who genuinely don’t realise that they are buying a BMW Z4 in drag. Not everybody looks into these things after all and your local Toyota dealer is unlikely to tell you that it’s a BMW you’re buying. Many will doubtlessly buy it for the name or to be different to the M-car crowd which is irony on a gourmet scale.

I can’t see true JDM diehards salivating over this though because there’s no way you can drive this thing and continue to profess a love for Japanese cars. Go back to the 90’s and if you were to choose something from Toyota’s sports car range – be it the Supra, Celica or MR2 – then you KNEW that you were buying a car that was designed and engineered by Toyota with a Toyota-built engine under the bonnet. You could legitimately pin your colours to a flag. If the A90 Supra at least had a 3JZ engine and a bespoke interior then we’d be talking.

In summary, it’s good to see the Supra name back again and the BMW DNA means that buyers WILL get a good car. I have no doubt that it will drive well and perform stonkingly too. To deny this would be pretty moronic. However, if you want an authentic Japanese designed and built sportscar that does the legacy of the country’s 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s output proud then this isn’t it. The sad truth is that we may NEVER see such a thing again if boring shit like the Qashqai and CH-R continue to bring home the bacon.