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stevethesleeve

stevethesleeve

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Reviews written

since 04/05/2001

110

Do you believe in life after death? 11/02/2008

Getting Out of Here

Do you believe in life after death? Is there life after death? What a patently absurd question! Of course there is! Speaking for myself (and who else would I presume to speak for?) I have been dead for some time now, and as far as I can tell no-one has noticed! Seriously (or at least as seriously as I can manage) I have a bit of a bone of contention here - or maybe a few: Firstly, why does it matter? We can never expect to prove whether there is or isn't life after death. If we manage to die and come back to haunt our nearest and not-so-dearest all that happens is that a blanket of doubt is thrown over the whole thing…or you get to see someone being sectioned up close and personal. Secondly: Who do we think we are? What makes humans so bloody special anyway? To quote someone pretty clever…maybe Jonas Salk - if insects were to disappear tomorrow, within 50 years all the species of the world would have disappeared. If humans were to disappear tomorrow, within 50 years all the other species of the world would be prospering. Why on earth would the cosmos benefit from the continuing presence of humans - Pre or post-mortem? Strikes me that this is a very SHORT review, and maybe all the better for it. It is, however written from the heart. I will continue to live my life for today; doing some good where I can and bringing some pleasure where it's possible. I will not save up my best stuff until I die in the hope that I can somehow cash in after shuffling off the mortal coil. I suspect my strong ...

Olympus SP-350 10/04/2006

My Little Thing

Olympus SP-350 OK…everyone give me a show of hands. Thank you. Now…if you already have a digital camera, put your hands down. Fine…if you're thinking of buying a digital camera soon, you can put your hands down now. Just as I thought. You with your hand still up…you're on your own. See…everyone can now get digital. Cameras are getting cheaper by the day, and printing at home is pretty cheap too. Even taking your memory card to the High Street and getting prints done for you isn't mind-bendingly pricey. Now I have to confess at this point to having been a professional photographer at one time, so when the time came to do digital it wasn't long before I had talked myself into spending a VAST amount of dosh on a digital SLR (single lens reflex…interchangeable lenses, major price tag etc). I have subsequently found that there's a bit of a problem with JUST having a big bloody SLR to use for grabbing those all-important snaps that show themselves at all the wrong moments (e.g. when your camera is in your backpack, you're half-way up a mountain and teetering on the precipitous edge of a 400m drop and a bloody humming-bird decides to graze on flowers about 2m away), so I felt the time had come to buy a back-up camera that could be carried in a pocket or whatever, thus saving myself the need to make life or death decisions regarding the deployment of the trusty Nikon. I did my homework like a good boy, and found out that there are THOUSANDS of digital cameras in all sorts ...

Everything from 0-9 13/12/2005

Churning Out Five of Everything

Everything from 0-9 La Furiosa...or Li'l Miss Pink to you…namechecked me in her response to a challenge. She is a good and true friend…(who other than a good and true friend would have bombarded me with humour, rudeness and gossip throughout a protracted stay in Australia?) I then read another response to the same challenge, this time submitted by Mattygroves; another true and good friend. Matty then went on to namecheck me too! A Sleevester can only take so much flattery before his keyboard is pulled towards him, and a suitable set of semi-serious slightly sobering, so-so, stupid, sly or simpering sentences slide slowly screenwards, to rest…eventually…in your Ciao flavoured in-box. So then, here we go. ***5 things I can do*** Loom. I can do really good looming. I learned it from my Dad, who was a wonderful loomer. Neither he nor I are all that tall: I'm about 1m87 (that's around 6'1 or 2 in old money) and my old man is a tad under the 6" mark…but boy can we loom! Drink. I can do some drinking, though nowadays I prefer quality to quantity. A couple of pints of decent Shiraz or Cabernet should see me fine most evenings. In what passes for my local, if I ask for a glass of wine the barman asks me if I want a straight glass or a handle. That's what I call service! Lie. I lie like a pure Persian rug. I can tell a porkie so convincingly that I often believe it myself! I generally do it for fun, and tell the other party straight away. It goes like this: "My dog ate my homework" "Did it ...

Inca Trail - Peru 02/11/2005

Sleevie up the Andes

Inca Trail - Peru I woke up this morning with a feeling of smug satisfaction. Fact of the matter is…I've been waking up with this same feeling for a few days now. Can't seem to shake it. Every time I think I've finally managed to get some sense of proportion, and I can go about my normal business I'm tempted to take a look at the photographs I took in Peru and…there it is again! Smug… Satisfaction. You see, I didn't just GO to Peru. I plotted and schemed, fundraised, event planned and spent myself stupid to go to Peru, raising money for a damned fine cause while I was about it. O.K. Loads of people go to Peru. I know this. Loads of people trek the Inca Trail. I know this too…goodness knows I met enough of them! But how many people wake up on the morning of their 49th birthday to a view of dawn breaking over distant mountain peaks while a layer of cloud lies within what seemed like touching distance? How many people get a chance like that? To quote part of an old Scottish toast…Gie few…and they're a' deid! (Translation and full toast available free of charge. Just ask) So…smug or what? Let me elucidate…I feel I ought to. I decided some time ago to undertake a trek on behalf of a local charity, and Peru was an obvious choice, as seeing the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu have been ambitions of mine for a long time. The decision made, I had a few months available to me for training. A needful thing, as the Inca Trail isn't for softies or those of a nervous ...

A Ciaoer's Poem for Christmas 17/12/2004

Christmas Eve in the Workhouse

A Ciaoer's Poem for Christmas It was Christmas Eve in the workhouse, And all but the mice were asleep. Well…them and one other wee b***ard, I’m talking of Wee Jock McCreep! Wee Jock was a nasty wee gobshite Who’d spit in your face for a bet, But even wee Jocky liked Christmas For all the fine things he might get. He crept through the dark of the building In search of something to steal For Jock had no friends or relations So gifts were not part of his deal. No, if Jocky was going to get something He’d have to find it himself He’d nick someone else’s nice present And do his gift shopping by stealth. The very first door that he came to Was open, and lured him inside Where he found Mr Archie McDonald Snoring, asleep on his side. Wee Jocky went looking for presents Or something to moisten his mouth For this burglary lark was quite tiring And had gied him a bit of a drouth. He spied on top of a dresser An unopened bottle of malt But as he reached up to half-inch it Old Archie woke up with a jolt. Jocky was caught quite red-handed And pled for forgiveness of course, But Archie was deaf to his pleadings And doubted wee Jocky’s remorse. With one hand he reached for wee Jocky The other reached out for his clothes He dragged out his belt from his trousers And up from his bed he arose. With a skelp and a slap and a shoogle Wee Jocky was taught right from wrong Though even Big Archie was doubtful That he’d keep Wee Jock honest for long Jock was flung oot ...

Everything that starts with X ... 16/12/2004

Xmas Round Up.

Everything that starts with X ... Dear (add your name here), Well, it’s that time of year again, when I get together all the notes and Post-Its I’ve written over the course of the past twelvemonth and compile another chapter in the family chronicles, so that I can send it out to all my friends/extended family/colleagues/people I met once at a conference (delete as appropriate). It’s been an eventful year chez-nous, though not always a happy one, what with Cynthia’s mum having finally going completely doolally and having to be locked in her room at night in case she decides she needs to go to Peterborough or similar (Don’t laugh; we had a devil of a job finding her when she paid an unscheduled visit to Perkins Engines in the small hours of a chilly February night. I didn’t even know she had ever worked there, but apparently she was a welder during the war or something). On a happier note, young Charlie’s acne is much improved, and we do think we might let him join us at the dinner table this Christmas, as long as he promises to keep his balaclava on. Little Evie is now not so little, what with the onset of puberty, the appearance of fairly prominent boobs and an unexpected pregnancy all coming her way this year. Ah well…it’ll be nice to have a baby around the place again I suppose. Cynthia has had a bit of trouble during the year. She was caught shoplifting again (though what she wanted a ride-on lawnmower for is beyond me; we’ve done the whole garden over in nice crazy paving!), and sadly she ...

Everything that starts with G ... 22/11/2004

1966 And All That.

Everything that starts with G ... It’s motorsport, it’s history, it’s a perfect excuse for a picnic and it’s the biggest fancy dress party in the world. It’s Goodwood Revival Meeting, and every September thousands flock to West Sussex to enjoy the spectacle of some full-blooded motor racing…with a difference. First, a little background: between 1948 and 1966 Goodwood was one of Britain’s foremost venues for motorsport, seeing the likes of Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Stirling Moss racing on this tricky, trappy and technical circuit. Indeed, it was while testing his own CanAm M8D here in 1970 that the legendary Kiwi Bruce McLaren died when his car left the track at high speed. So, after nearly 3 decades of being little more than a test circuit and host for corporate and club racedays, Lord March: owner of the land, decided to revive motor racing…but with a difference. He decided to limit the event to cars built before the closure of the track in 1966, and so was born one of the greatest sporting and social spectacles in the world. For 3 days every September enthusiasts wheel out their historic cars and motorbikes and race them in the most uncompromising manner possible round a track in which every conceivable detail has either been retained in its pre-’66 incarnation or recreated perfectly. Complimenting this are the spectators, who are encouraged (indeed, in certain parts of the circuit they’re obliged) to wear period clothes. The staff too dress the part, and there are huge numbers of people ...

McDonalds, Putney High Street 08/07/2004

I'm Hatin' It

McDonalds, Putney High Street I blame Phil for this review, and so should you. Phil…AKA Lostwitness…Le Témoin Perdu as he’s known throughout the backstreets of Paris and Marseilles…recently wrote a very funny and quite irreverent critique of Asda taking as his template the theme: 30 Things I Hate About You. I read it, grateful for some humour on an otherwise fairly gloomy sort of day, wrote a wee comment in his guestbook (as is my wont) and was rewarded by a direct challenge to write a similar sort of review myself. Trouble is…I had a hell of a job finding anything in the vast list of products, companies and services, places and programmes that is Ciao that I a) hated enough and b) knew something about. Qu’un dilemme, non? Until… I walked down Putney High Street and was attacked by about 450 small children wielding Happy Meals and portly little bellies while carrying with them a collective attitude that would be the pride of the Marines! Yes folks…a kiddies’ party was just ending at our friendly neighbourhood Micky D! I realised in a flash that I had my victim…er…subject! I know that many people are very fond of McDonald’s and I risk offending some or all of them with this latest in a long series of vile and vituperative reviews, but please bear in mind that I’m only doing this because Ciao doesn’t have a category for ‘The Whole Human Race’ just yet; if they did, it would have been my topic of choice…trust me! (Don’t get me wrong; I love mankind,,,I just don’t like people ...

Everything that starts with J ... 10/06/2004

Joking? I Might Be...

Everything that starts with J ... Children? PAH! Who needs them, eh? OK, the Human Race needs them...I’ll grant you that. But really…if you get down to the nitty-gritty…what’s the Human Race? Just us lot making a mess and breeding a lot. A lot of KIDS that is! Let’s get down to some hard-won facts here. I know I won’t be saying anything ‘correct’ or ‘popular’ here, but it’s only me letting off steam, OK? Kids. Children. Yoof. Youngsters. Little Darlings Call them what you will (and around our neck of the woods people call them things like Jeremy, Oliver, Natasha, Jemima...and not a germ of irony or sarcasm in there at all!) they are an unnecessary addition to the scene. Honest! Let me explain. My little strip of London has a whole slew of fine coffee shops. Loads of the fragrant little nooks and crannies have sprung up over the past few years. I really love a nice cup of coffee, and the idea of an espresso or two, with maybe a croissant or a muffin, a good book to read and a quiet corner in which to enjoy all these is a very appealing one. Sadly, for about 6 hours of each and every day, each and every one of these coffee shops becomes some sort of crèche, with mums, toddlers, pushchairs and nappie-bound bums taking up every spare space, seat and stool. This klatch carries on through the day from the time the older ankle-biters are dropped off at school until they are picked up again. There is NO peace for one such as I who desires his coffee untainted by the scent of dirty diapers and his ...

Fuller's ESB Champion Ale 30/05/2004

A Rummage Through My Nether Regions Reveals...

Fuller's ESB Champion Ale I can’t quite believe I did it, but I gave away…GAVE AWAY…my last bottle of Affligem beer…which left my fridge looking sadly empty (Hey…why would I want to clutter it up with food?) and sad. Beer drinking at home hasn’t been the same since my mate Duncan moved to Switzerland. I had become more than a little accustomed to the sound of him berating Doogie (my faithful canine companion and drinking buddy) through the letterbox; stooping his 6’8” frame down far enough to shout in Jamaican patois for me to “get de deeyam daag to shot de fo*k op han’ let me de fo*k in!” then clinking through to the kitchen with a couple of carrier bags full of fine ales for our delight and delectation. “Get your laffin’ gear roun’ dat and tell I whaat you t’ink” Duncan; Scottish to the core by his reckoning, has more than a touch of the Jamaican about him…what with having been born there of Jamaican parents and living there all his life until he was about 34. By the way, if you’re ever in Geneva and see a truly huge black guy, with dreads to his waist and a kilt (Campbell of Argyll) it may well be Duncan. Stop him and say hello…he’ll buy you many drinks! So anyway…no Duncan and no beer…bugger! However… A further inspection of the nether regions of my depleted fridge sent my spirits soaring, my temperature rising and my pulse racing. (If it gets any more exciting, I’ll likely explode!) There, lurking in the darkest recesses, was a solitary bottle of ESB; Fuller’s Brewery’s fine ...

Everything that starts with O ... 22/05/2004

One Hundred Things

Everything that starts with O ... One Hundred Things A hundred little thoughts, ideas and sentiments with which to celebrate (if that’s the right word) my 100th review/op/thingy on Ciao. 1) Richmond Park is home to a large flock of green parrots, and I’m pleased to say that a few have decided to move into Putney (where property isn’t quite as expensive, I expect). I saw one at close range today, as it flew by only a few feet above the ground. I’m not a twitcher, but it’s nice to see something unusual…especially on a hungover Friday morning. 2) The first tunnel under the Thames was built at Rotherhithe by Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s less famous Dad Marc. It was started a hundred years ago this year. Now aren’t you glad you know that? 3) Isambard is one of the strangest names I’ve ever come across. I just can’t see the teacher calling a register with anything like a straight face. 4) I really don’t like Jimmy Hill. 5) It is said that people settle down into a slower pace as they get older…but not by me. 6) Taking out a typical mortgage will mean that you pay nearly three times the purchase price of your home by the time it’s paid off. 7) In spite of #6 being a scary thought, robbing banks is NOT a good career choice…really! 8) Rich people like wrinkled clothes…which is why linen costs so much. 9) If you get crap service, or if goods are shoddy, fergawdsake complain! If you do ‘the British thing’ and say how lovely your meal was when in fact it was possibly less appetising than ...

Budget Recipes 11/04/2004

It's Bean Stew...

Budget Recipes “What’s that?” “It’s bean stew.” “I don’t care what it’s been…what is it now?” This is how the conversation goes chez Sleevie when I take it into my head to try to convert various members of my family and friends to the wonders of pulse. (That’s pulse as in legumes…beans, lentils and the like…not pulse as in ‘general indication of being alive’. Thought I’d better clear that up) Beans in the UK are pretty much ubiquitous…but mostly only in cans and swimming in tomato sauce. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m very fond of Mr Heinz’s version of the baked haricot bean. It’s just that there are so many MORE things to do with you haricot…or cannelini…or adzuki…or pinto…or kidney…or butter...or any of the other varieties of beans than to take a tug on a ring-pull and lob the contents of the tin in the microwave for a quick and tasty toasty topping. And to try to prove it to you…and to the legume-deficient doubters of my close circle of closet carnivores…here are a couple of recipes. Firstly, a cassoulet. Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, Toulouse…the heart of cassoulet country; particularly Castelnaudary, where there more than twenty (20 – count them) factories producing the toothsome concoction in jars and cans for consumption off site, as well as a good squillion or two restaurants, cafes and hotels serving it to the endless stream of culinary tourists who flock there for the express purpose of tucking into a bowl of this rich, warming, intensely flavoured meaty, ...

Everything that starts with F ... 09/04/2004

It's Just a Fricken Challenge fergawdsake!

Everything that starts with F ... This is Joyce Fricken’s challenge to us all. She wants all of us to do this but not to read anyone else’s responses first. So go to her personal page, do your version and then come back and read mine. #1: Who was your childhood hero/heroine? Why? My oldest brother…because he could seemingly turn his hand to anything. He decided to try painting, and produced good stuff from day 1, he thought learning to play the guitar would be cool…so he did, becoming embarrassingly proficient in a very short time. Nowadays he’s a shambling buffoon with the communication skills of a neutrino…and a particularly stupid neutrino at that, but back then… Also Champion the Wonder Horse, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and Flipper, all of whom were heroes to many of us old pharts, and all of whom had MUCH better communication skills than my brother. #2: At this point in your life would you say you generally go for "quality" or "quantity"? Splain please? Oh quality, every time. One good turn is so much better than 40 wrong ones. Same rule applies to food, drink, sex, (I think) and plane journeys. #3: Describe yourself in 3 words. (Not a sentence or a statement. Just 3 words.) Impulsive, Hedonistic, There. #4: Now write a Haiku incorporating those 3 words. Impulsive Sleevie, Hedonistic to a fault. And there’s the problem. #5: In your next life you have the choice of being… *A cartoon character *The leader of a great nation *A doggie *A deadly germ Pick one and ...

Brussels (Belgium) 07/04/2004

Atomium? A Load of Balls!

Brussels (Belgium) Coming, as I occasionally do, from London, I have to confess to having had in the past a somewhat prejudiced view of Brussels. This view, based mostly on the eponymous vegetable and a few news report backdrops, was never going to be accurate. I’m grown-up enough to admit that in my heart of hearts I knew this to be the case, but did nothing to address the problem, even when I discovered that I was scheduled to visit the Belgian capital in the course of what I laughingly call my ‘work’. I did no homework prior to visiting Brussels, other than to briefly scan a few reviews here on Ciao. Naturally, my eye was drawn to the writings of my good friend and compatriot Proxam, who knows a thing or two about beer and the places that sell it. He is quite glowing in his praise of the place…and its beers and bars of course, which was good enough for me. I printed off his review (well…the bar recommendations bit anyway) and headed off to Heathrow lickety-split! The airport at which I landed (having flown with BA, curse their socks) was small, quiet and fuss-free; a definite contrast to Terminal 4 LHR, I can tell you! I felt immediately at home due to the airport code of BRU, which anyone can tell you makes up 50% of the name of a fine Scottish soft drink. (Despite the first line of this review, which might tend to mislead, I am pretty damned Scottish – and don’t you forget it…OK? Pal?) So…out of the terminal and into a queue for taxis…then out of the queue for taxis and into ...

Moral Dilemmas 18/02/2004

The Moral Maze - featuring Frankie Beverley

Moral Dilemmas I am writing this…this..thing, in some sort of response to a write-off challenge set by Phil (Lostwitness) and Murph (jillmurphy). Many people have quite justifiably taken this challenge very seriously, and have laid bare their souls. I, however, have no soul…so please feel free to read on: "You've just cooked dinner for your four friends, when disaster strikes and you drop the chicken on the kitchen floor. Before you can stop him, the dog dashes in and licks it, but you get it away before he can do anything else. You have nothing else to cook. Do you own up, or do you serve the chicken up for tea? You're vegetarian anyway." * * * * Frankly, my friends are way too used to the kind of cooking I dish up to worry about something as trivial as a little Doogie spit. I know he puts his tongue in some unusual places (well let’s face it…don’t we all? Sometimes?) but HE sticks it straight back in his mouth and HE’S none the worse for wear! I might, as a precaution, plonk a little more chilli sauce on the chicken (Hey…you knew it was cooked with chillies. If you didn’t, then you’ve been slacking and I strongly suggest you visit some of the Sleevie back catalogue immediately. Go on…you know you want to…I’ll wait) to either disguise the taste or to kill off any germs. These supposed germs, by the way, came from the kitchen floor for sure! (I had to put that last bit in there, in case the Doogster reads this review and gets stroppy. If he were to get annoyed, he’d be in the ...
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