Sunday, 23 February 2014

Speeding up the evolution process

Recently I've extended the range of programmes on "JTV" (my own personal television channel) to incorporate some documentaries. It doesn't do any harm to broaden ones horizons in this way so I've been watching various travel, history and nature programmes.

Among these have been the classic Attenborough series "Life On Earth" and those Wonders programmes by that bloke out of D:Ream, both of which deal with the subject of evolution.

I've always found this a fascinating process. It's amazing how we've developed from the smallest amoeba to the complex organisms we are today, but the time-scales are amazing. Millions upon millions of generations. Some times it's quite hard to believe it's even true, but all the evidence is there - you're not going to get any anti-Darwinist religious rants from me on the subject, that's for sure.

However, it came to me this week as I was lying in agony in the dentist's chair that evolution needs a bit of a revamp. It was all very well making these tiny little changes over thousands of years when we were all running about outside caves, dragging women by their hair, eating woolly mammoths, with progress amounting to someone inventing a new type of spear every hundred years or so. Evolution could keep up. But now progress has exploded exponentially our bodies can't keep up. We need to evolve way more quickly.

Let's take teeth as an example. Humans have survived pretty well on two sets of teeth since ancient times. The first set falls out when we get to about six or seven and then the new lot has to last us for the rest of our life. It sounds like a long time back in ancient caveman times especially when you consider that you couldn't just nip down to your local branch of the Hiper-Dino for some Colgate whenever you felt like it. NB: The Hiper-Dino is a supermarket chain in the Canary Islands that uses a friendly dinosaur as it's logo which I thought might illustrate my point  better than saying Tesco due to the dinosaur/ caveman connection. (Cue pedant's voice "But dinosaurs didn't live at the same time as cavemen...).

My favourite Spanish Supermarket!

However, back in those savage times, life was short and brutal and most people wouldn't have lived long enough to have to worry about tooth decay. 30 was considered a ripe old age back then. Plus your average caveman wouldn't have been dissolving his teeth with endless fizzy drinks and bags of Swizzles Matlows chews from Poundland. Two sets of teeth would be quite enough!

But they aren't enough for the modern world. Now I admit I didn't look after my teeth too well as a teenager, I had other things on my mind at the time e.g. girls and cider so I had quite a few fillings back then. Since then I've made the effort but to no avail and this Friday I had to have one of my molars out. It had been giving me jip for a long time and various repairs had only delayed the inevitable. So now I have a gap. Fortunately it's at the back so won't spoil my "lovely" smile, but even so, the point is, two sets of teeth just aren't enough anymore. Now if evolution was keeping pace with the rest of the progress of humanity, it would pretty quickly identify this problem and ensure that from the next generation we would get a third set of teeth coming through about when we reach the age of 40. But sadly it doesn't work like that. Perhaps it will eventually figure out the problem and we'll get a third set, but I wouldn't hold your breath. Maybe by about the year 10,000. Who knows, maybe the appendix will disappear by then too. I expect that'll be the next bit of me to go wrong, almost everything else has over the past couple of years.

I need to download my brain into a brand new body I think. Cybernetic if necessary, I don't mind. As long as I can still eat, obviously. Personally I don't see what was so wrong with the Cybermen in Doctor Who, I think they got a lot of bad press. With a few nice emotions thrown in so they wouldn't go around "deleting" people they wouldn't be all bad. And I bet they'd never have to go to the dentist!

Jason's third book, an hilarious account of his adventures in the world of sausages, is now available. Click here for more details: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sausage-Man-Britains-Official-ebook/dp/B00IF4LB8S

Jason


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Doctor Greed

Those of you that have been following me for a long time will be aware that I have developed a number of comedy characters, all ready for the sketch show I am going to get commissioned when I become famous.

All of these are based in some degree on parodies of myself. There's Bloaticus, the genetic throwback to Roman times, gorging himself on chicken bones in Nando's and throwing the bones about. And Serial Drama Sid, popping up at completely inappropriate moments in Downton Abbey, such as telling Sybil to be quiet whilst she's screaming in childbirth because he's trying to watch the 3:30 at Ascot. To name but two.

And today, I am delighted to introduce to you my brand new character, "Doctor Greed". I've already got a crime fighting superhero, "Captain Chubbchaser" (who doesn't actually fight crime, just tries to get off with large women), so I thought it was about time I introduced a supervillain.

Doctor Greed is an amalgam of lots of traits of other supervillains of the past. He's got the scheming of Doctor Evil from Austin Powers, the evil charm of The Master from Doctor Who (original Roger Delgado version) and the mad scientist persona of Doc Brown from Back To The Future.

Rather than grandiose schemes to take over the world, Doctor Greed is obsessed entirely with finding ways to satisfy his own selfish and greedy whims. These vary from everyday small little scams to ever more elaborate plots.

He has powers of hypnosis that can be used in the following way. I mentioned The Master - well he used to hypnotise people by saying "I am the Master - and you will obey me". Doctor Greed has similar hypnotic powers which he uses to his own ends. For example, in a Little Chef when ordering the Olympic Breakfast, Doctor Greed may decide when looking at the picture on the menu that two sausages is insufficient for his needs. He will therefore use his hypnotic charm on the waitress to say something like..."I am Doctor Greed - and you WILL give me six sausages!" Unsurprisingly, Doctor Greed is rather fat.

That's a small example, but Doctor Greed has some far more elaborate plans in the pipeline. On one occasion when going to a party, he creates a special gas in his laboratory to turn events to his advantage. His plan is to release this special "Veggie Gas" into the air at the party just before the mother-in-law starts taking the cling film off the buffet. It has the effect of rendering everyone in the room (other than himself as he has the antidote) into a vegetarian on the spot. As they fight over the diminishing bowls of salad, the way is clear for Doctor Greed to hoover up as many sausages on sticks, slices of ham, pork pies (cut into quarters) and sausage rolls as he wants!

Doctor Greed's schemes don't just extend to food, he is sex mad as well. Being somewhat fat and unfit he doesn't exactly get women falling at his feet so in his most evil scheme yet he plans to poison the country's water supply with a secret formula he has created in his laboratory. This subtle blend of various female hormones has a dual effect. Firstly it turns every woman that drinks it into a raving nymphomaniac. Secondly it turns every man who drinks it gay. His plan is to become the only heterosexual male left in a world full of sex-crazed women and to indulge himself accordingly.

Those are just a few initial ideas, I am sure I shall think of some more. But in the meantime beware of Doctor Greed! He's after your food and your wife!!!

Jason's third book, an hilarious account of his adventures in the world of sausages, is now available. Click here for more details: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sausage-Man-Britains-Official-ebook/dp/B00IF4LB8S

Jason

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Copper Kitchen

We've been really spoiled for new restaurant openings in Bicester over the past few months. We've had several new chain outlets open in the new development, all of which I've enjoyed visiting, but nothing has excited me as much as hearing about the new independent offering, "The Copper Kitchen" which has recently opened up the top of Sheep Street opposite Denis and Shakil's.

Unlike the other new openings, I wasn't aware of this one in advance. It opened quietly without a lot of fanfare a month or two back, but soon came to my attention as I began to read glowing comments about it on the Bicester Town Centre Chat page. I was keen to get down there and try it as soon as possible and so last night (Saturday 15th February) we booked in and headed up there to find out if it really was as good as everybody says.

It was a three-pronged celebration last night. Firstly it was the day after Valentine's Day, secondly it was the day before my birthday and thirdly I was celebrating finishing and publishing my new book "The Sausage Man". I have been working really hard on this over the past few weeks, determined to finish it before half term so that I could have a proper break from the children. It was all done and dusted by Thursday so now we can relax a bit and enjoy half-term. We've got all sorts of outings lined up.

So with work all done and dusted we were able to head off last night to Copper Kitchen. As soon as I walked in I felt at home. It's a small and intimate Bistro setting - the main dining area being not much more than a large front room seating about twenty. In this era when everything is big brash and bold this makes a refreshing change. It's all very rustic too - bare wooden tables and exposed stonework with an open fireplace. It's the perfect place if you want to go for a quiet meal with your partner.

What about the menu? Well it's simplicity itself, just a single sheet of A4 paper with a selection of about four starters and eight mains. This also meets with my approval - I can't be doing with huge elaborate menus of several pages where you have to wade through looking for what you want. There's something for everyone in the choices and we didn't have any difficulty choosing what we wanted.

We also didn't have any problem choosing the wine. My eyes were instantly drawn to an Argentinian Malbec, the same one I've bought from Majestic in the past, so I knew I couldn't go wrong.

The food is all freshly prepared on the premises and it certainly showed - lovely fresh bread and salads. I had the mackerel pate for my starter which came in a little pot reminiscent of the rillette I had in Paris. It came with some deliciously warm fresh bread. Claire had a Parma Ham salad which she assured me was excellent. For our mains we went for Sirloin Steak (me) and Confit of Duck (Claire) both of which were top notch. As it was a special occasion we pushed the boat out and had desserts too - a rather nice selection of cheese and biscuits in my case.

After the meal the owners both came out and had a chat with us - that's another beauty of a small intimate setting - you just wouldn't get that in the branch of a restaurant chain. I explained what I did for a living and that I would give them a good write up.

Some would probably do this before the meal in order to try and get preferential treatment but I prefer to remain anonymous until after the meal to get an unbiased perspective. I certainly would never want to turn into one of these egotistical "Do you know who I am?" type characters, that's for sure. If they are reading this and want to thank me, they could always buy a copy of my book!

Not for the first time I was thinking I really should get myself some business cards with details of my books on them, because often when I meet people I tell them about my books but I've nothing concrete to show them. That's definitely going on the things to do list!

To sum up the Copper Kitchen then - lovely intimate little Bistro with gorgeous home cooked food - just what Bicester needs to complement the current offering. I highly recommend giving it a try, but make sure you book first to avoid disappointment. Here's a link to their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Copper-Kitchen/173766099485625

After the meal we did a little tour around town. First we went to see our singer friend Mark "Sparky" Harding who was performing his repertoire of swing classics at the Ashton Club. Then we went on to the White Hart and the Kings Arms where another friend, Duncan was on DJ duty.

All in all a most enjoyable night, just what I wanted for my birthday and now I'm enjoying a leisurely morning at home with the family. Claire has bought me the film "Rush" for my birthday which I never got round to going to the cinema to see so tonight we shall be watching that tonight. The perfect treat for an F1 fan of the classic era!

Jason

Jason's third book, an hilarious account of his adventures in the world of sausages, is now available. Click here for more details: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sausage-Man-Britains-Official-ebook/dp/B00IF4LB8S

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Say It With Sausages!

So, it's Valentine's Day tomorrow and men all over the country will be buying flowers, chocolates and more to win the heart's of their loved ones, not to mention all the cards...

But you're barking up the wrong tree there boys, because what every woman really needs to get her hands on this Valentine's Day is a great big helping of sausage!

You probably think I'm being rude again (well who can blame you after the Diet Sex Club post - which I should re-iterate was a joke!) No, I'm not being dirty this time, I'm here to tell you the exciting news that my new book "The Sausage Man" was launched today. It's available right now for the Kindle and the paperback version will be following shortly.

Here's the cover to whet your appetite!



So what's this book all about? Well fans of my previous works won't be disappointed. It's in the same diary format as before. It contains a lot of reworked material that originally appeared in this blog and when I say re-worked I mean pretty much re-written from scratch. Blogs and books are two different things so it is essential the book follows some sort of narrative flow. There's plenty of new material too.

The emphasis is very much on humour as with all my books so you don't have to be a sausage fan to appreciate it!

It starts off much as before, with musings on various topics, but the sausage story soon takes centre stage. Thanks to those very kind people at Love Pork I've also been given permission to reproduce a lot of their material relating to the events such as press releases and the details of all the sausages and where you can get them. They can be found all over the country. There is bound to be a butcher with an award winning sausage somewhere near you - check them out and remember to look for the red tractor!

As with all Kindle books, I'm very much reliant on word of mouth to spread the news of the new book so I'd be really grateful for any support you can give me. Reviews are of course always welcome if you wish to leave them as they are of great help to other potential purchasers when it comes to making up their minds as to whether a particular book will be right for them or not.

Right now you can pick up the Kindle edition for the bargain price of £1.53 on and the paperback will be £7.99 when it comes out.

Here's the paperback cover which has additional information on the back, all about the book and me.



So this Valentine's Day, remember to say it with sausages!

Enjoy the book.

Here's the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sausage-Man-Britains-Official-ebook/dp/B00IF4LB8S

Jason xx

Monday, 3 February 2014

Big Fish, Little Fish.

Here's something I have been pondering. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a little fish in a big pond? Having experienced both in my long and illustrious (lol) career I feel I can answer this now with some degree of certainty.

But to find out why, we need to cast our eyes back through the mists of time, all the way to 1989 when I was a fresh faced teenager with 3 A levels and no idea what to do with them. Despite having two firm offers of University places, I turned my back on them as I had had enough of education for the time being, and somehow it just didn't seem the right thing to do at the time. It may have seemed an illogical decision then but not one that I regret, My whole life has been based on taking risky decisions and gambles based on gut feelings and I've never been afraid to walk away from the obvious choice if I sensed it was not right for me. All of which has led me to the person I am today, doing what I am doing today. Could I have done things differently? Undoubtedly? Would I have ended up as happy and rounded (and I don't mean fat, though you can interpret it that way if you wish) a person as I am? I like to think not.

I am digressing, hope I am not losing you. Back to the plot. What I did do was to sign up with a temping agency and spend a few months doing all manner of different jobs. From stacking shelves in Gateway in Wheatley (now Asda) to making sandwiches for the patients at the Churchill in Oxford (hope I didn't kill anyone) to working on a removal lorry, it was an interesting time. But eventually I decided I needed a more permanent job, and so it was in November 1989 I found myself starting work at Martins the Newsagent as an assistant manager.

I loved this little shop. I used to buy sweets from it as a kid and had grown up there. It was only a small shop with myself and the manageress as the only full time staff, two part time middle aged women, one who did the morning and one the afternoon, and one or two other part timers who did a few hours here and there. Plus of course the paper boys.

Within a few weeks of me starting, the manageress left to go on six months maternity leave, which left me as acting manager. I managed to get the area manager to get me a relief manager to cover some of the hours otherwise I'd have been working 5:30am - 5:30pm seven days a week, but effectively it had become my little kingdom. I was a big fish in a very small pond, and very poorly paid. I was taking home something like £89 a week which even a quarter of a century ago was not a lot. Fortunately I lived at home still so I used to bung my mother about 20 quid for food and piss the rest up. It was only about £1 a pint in the pub in those days so my £89 went a surprisingly long way.

Poorly paid it may have been, but I loved my little kingdom. Opening the shop at 5:30am was no big deal, in fact it was probably good practice for the later years of parenting. In fact I used to enjoy those mornings a great deal. There were never that many customers before about 7:30am and a young lad used to come in to mark up the papers so I didn't have to do that much other than man the till, drink coffee and keep an eye on the paper boys to make sure they didn't nick anything. Which they did, frequently. I soon learned that sacking them wasn't the best punishment though, as it would often lead to me having to go and do the round myself as soon as the first staff member came in at 9am, by which time I'd usually have had more than one irate customer on the phone demanding to know where their paper was. Nicking wasn't just confined to the paper boys though. On Christmas Eve that year, £50 went missing from the till. Very luckily for me, I had finished work at lunchtime on the 23rd, not to return until Boxing Day, so the relief manager got the blame. The culprit was never caught. As for the paper boys, goodness knows how much they got away with but the stock takes were always down.

We had some very interesting customers, particularly some of the pensioners who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. We also had one very famous regular, the retired film director, Roy Boulting who was once married to Hayley Mills. He used to come in every day for The Times and 20 Dunhill International and had impeccable manners. I once gave him one of my scripts I had written asking him if he would read it and whether he'd consider making it into a blockbuster film. He said he was retired but would read it, and he was as good as his word, giving it back with a handwritten resume saying he'd enjoyed it but thought there might have been a bit too much sex and swearing in it. I've toned my writing down a bit since then, bearing that in mind!

On an average day, once my first member of staff came in to man the till, I could retire to the office to do my paperwork. Being quite good at this sort of thing I got it off to a tee quite quickly and the procedures which the manageress reckoned took an hour or two each morning I had quickly got down to about ten minutes. This left me free for the rest of the morning to enjoy my "breakfast". This effectively consisted of chocolate and crisps. Back then newsagents did not sell the wide range of convenience foods that they do now. Effectively our shop sold the following: Newspapers & Magazines, Tobacco, Soft Drinks, Confectionery, Crisps and Snacks, Ice Cream and Greetings Cards. That was about it. We didn't even sell milk. So I was able to enjoy my breakfast relatively undisturbed with a wide range of reading material from the shop at my disposal. Yes, I know what you are thinking, well, I'm not going to comment!

If I was working the full twelve hours I used to go home for an hour at lunchtime and watch Neighbours and Going For Gold before coming back for the last stint. 4pm to the end of the day was another fun time. A young lad (about 16) used to come in and work the till after school and we used to have a really good laugh.

I loved being in charge, it was the only time I was ever really a manager of people and never had any problems with them. There was none of the back-stabbing of ambitious people you get in the business world, just part time staff who wanted to do a job and get paid. It was my little world and I loved it, but my time there was all too brief. I could have stayed longer but I needed to earn more money at that time if I was to achieve my ambition of leaving home, so after just 8 months in the shop I got a job at Nielsen where I was to stay for almost 15 years.

I was now working not in a small shop of half a dozen people but a massive building of 500+. I may have doubled my salary in the process but I was under no illusions that I was now at the bottom. It was as if I'd won the Football Conference and been promoted directly into the Premiership. Here I had to conform, "play the game" and all the rest of it if I wanted to get on.

Looking back in hindsight now, I stayed too long, it wasn't right for me and I was like a square peg in a round hole. After I left I moved on to other jobs, in other large organisations, but I very much knew by then that none of this was right for me. I did not want to be a small fish in a big pond, but I didn't want to be a big fish in a big pond either. So, at the end of 2007 I took a mighty leap out of those big ponds altogether into the smallest pond of all - that of self-employment.

And so for the past six years I have been swimming happily around in my own personal little goldfish bowl, earning a living by various means doing things that I love and I've never been happier. Would I ever go back? I have to admit to a certain nostalgia about my time as a newsagent, and if I could go back to 1989 for a day, I'm sure I'd enjoy it, but career wise it looks like I'm set to plough a lone furrow for the conceivable future. It's big fish, small pond all the way for me!

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason x