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Internet Nobody v.2.0…

There’s nothing I like more than a good gadget and at this time of year you can’t move for the stacks of shiny new gizmos clogging up the aisles of supermarkets and electrical shops, so on boxing day I went down to the high street with one particular new toy in mind.

Now, I’ve always made it an idiotically stubborn point of honour that everything you see on Diary of an Internet Nobody got here via the magical silicon circuits of my treasured smartphone, primarily because I didn’t have a computer when I started, and having discovered the wonders of the Android operating system, never found the need for one since.
Fortunately, having consulted the goalpost-moving department, I’ve found that I’ve only ever actually been restricting myself to the operating system, not the device.
That’s handy isn’t it? (making up your own rules as you go along is a useful habit) 

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I took the plunge and bought an Asus Android tablet in the sales.

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For what is essentially a cross between a larger version of my phone and a small, flat, quad-core computer, I paid the princely sum of £70.
How they even make them for that price let alone sell them is beyond me. But I’m not one to look a gift horse in the microprocessors and I have been very pleased at the increased speed and responsiveness of my lovely new small object of desire.

I’ve spent the last couple of days installing and playing around with the tablet versions of various applications that are duplicates of those on my phone, such as the photo editing software, WordPress app and anything else necessary to publish the blog, and I have to say that I’m extremely impressed with my new toy blogging tool.

We didn’t do an awful lot over the festive period, just popping out for a family lunchtime drink and a few games of pool at a local pub on Christmas day, before returning home to eat too much and slob out in front of the TV for the Dr Who Christmas special and the superb Troll Hunter movie.

But on boxing day – after I’d been tech-bargain hunting – since the weatherman had assured us (accurately for once) that this would be the most sensible day to do anything outside over the holidays, we went to the wildfowl reserve on the The Tarka Trail to feed the ducks, walk off the previous day’s excesses and take some photos of the starkly beautiful winter colours around the lake.
As it turned out, I also got some nice action shots of the ducks feeding, or rather trying to feed, whilst being dive-bombed by the large flock of terns that’d taken up winter residence.

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Oh, and while we’re on the subject of photography I’d like to thank Ho for sending in these shots of me collecting a Golden Face Palm award on behalf of pseudo-political buffoon, Nigel Farage, presented to me by the lovely Emma Stevens.

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Talking of being presented with things, (told you the Tenuous Lynx habit was going to be hard to break) my old friend Chris has been over to stay for the last couple of days, bringing with him an unexpected gift.
Some years ago a sizable chunk of my irreplaceable vinyl album collection disappeared under suspicious circumstances, never to return, including my entire Pink Floyd back catalogue. I have slowly managed to replace a lot of the music I lost with CDs and mp3 files, but as any vinyl collector will tell you, that just isn’t the same.
So imagine my delight when Chris arrived with a vinyl copy of Dark Side of the Moon, complete with gatefold sleeve and original posters, all in practically mint condition.

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What with having to connect up my neglected turntable to play the classic plastic platter, we then indulged in a spot of vinyl nostalgia and you can listen to a few lovingly chosen tracks below.

So welcome to version 2.0 of the blog, bigger, faster and easier to see, (for me anyway, having picked up my first-ever pair of reading glasses a couple of months ago the larger HD screen is far better to work with) but other than that the new year promises more-of-not-the-same eclectic nonsense and ranting that a very agreeable number of people seem to want to continue reading.

Which reminds me, over the holidays my stat counter informed me that Diary of an Internet Nobody has now clocked up the magic number of 20,000 hits (20,114 when writing this) and nearly 270 followers, for which I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude.
I shall endeavour to make your loyalty worthwhile.

Let’s finish with some music then, which I shall dedicate to Chris in paltry exchange for my prog-tastic Christmas present.

And finally;
Chris, this is the album I remember you having when we lived in Crowborough, hope it brings back some (probably fuzzy) memories…

 

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Surrey with a cringe on top…

Part one – Meeting the Man.

It was back in 1983 when I made my one and only other trip to Guildford.
The last time I travelled up by train from Sussex as an excited teenager, on my way to an audition for the stage management course at the drama school there.
As it happens, I passed the audition and was offered a place, only to have my hopes dashed by the County Council bean counters refusing me a grant, otherwise I may have by now been part of the apparently thriving arts scene in this bustling, historic and leafy Surrey town.

Fast forward 30 years and this time I was making the journey with Elaine in my trusty Nissan Micra, all the way from rural North Devon.
But let me tell you, I was no less excited.

Possibly even more so.

Because this was it.
The event for which I’d been waiting with no small degree of anticipation for several months had finally arrived.

After a pleasantly uneventful journey “up country”, along spectacularly colourful, tree lined roads that cut through the undulating autumnal landscapes of Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside, we arrived at the pub guesthouse on Saturday afternoon (functional but disappointing) and went to stretch our legs in a nearby park.
And it was just as we returned to our accommodation that the man I was most looking forward to meeting arrived.

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Adam Pain, the man behind the  excellent A World Of Pain blog and co-creator of the Golden Face Palms, to nobody’s surprise turned out to be a thoroughly decent bloke.
Instantly likable, hospitable to a fault and possessing a talent to infect you with the same passionate enthusiasm he has for this mad idea – to spotlight the cringingly awful behaviour of those paragons of ineptitude and insensitivity in public life who clog up our newspapers and TV screens with their endless drivel by giving them awards, to be collected on their behalf by those who nominated them – he talked animatedly over a pint about how the project had first evolved and how blown away he was at the way support had grown in the lead up to the event.

(It is worth pointing out that Adam already has form for this type of spur-of-the-moment altruism, having used connections made via his job as music lecturer at the Academy of Contemporary Music to put together a charity single to raise money for Sophie, a little girl with cancer.
The video below was made after asking people on Facebook to send in thumbs-up photos, the idea being to get as many “likes” as possible.
The campaign eventually raised over £300,000, enabling Sophie to have life saving treatment)

Having agreed to meet up later on for a longer chat over a few drinks Elaine and I went in search of sustenance, finally settling on one of Adam’s recommendations, The Old Wheatsheaf, on the grounds it had the same name as our old local back in Sussex.
By coincidence they had just won Pub of the Year, and if the food and fine selection of draught ciders were anything to go by it was well deserved.

Suitably fortified we strolled back to meet Adam and his brother Matt at a more drink-centric establishment in the village, where we were soon chattering away like old friends. (I mentioned to Adam at the time how reading each others’ blogs had been a sort of virtual introduction, and that I’d known we’d get on before we even met) 
Adam walked with us back to our digs on his way home, where we bid him goodnight and promised to meet up after we checked out on Sunday morning to finalise plans for the evening’s ceremony.

Once we’d taken our post-breakfast walk with Adam and his two dogs it was time to get nearer the action.
Ho and Trevor, old friends from Sussex, were coming up for the festivities and we were moving to meet them at a Premier Inn nearer town in order to have less of a journey home that night.
So having decamped to our new quarters and caught up with each other, eaten dinner and had a few pre-awards drinks, it was time (“at last!” I hear you cry) for the main event.

Part two – Beyond the velvet rope.

A quick trip up to our room to change into our glad rags and we were ready to go.

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              Me and my girl.

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Look out Guildford! With Ho and Trev.

Arriving at The Star Inn we were met by our genial and frenetic host Adam, seemingly calm and eager to get things underway, who welcomed us with his normal affable charm and commented on how impressed he was with Ho’s cartoons on the blog before vanishing on some last minute errand.

And so to the ceremony itself.

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The function room was already buzzing with excitement and laughter when we walked in, the neon signs of the bar giving a cozy glow to the back of the room, contrasting with the brightly lit stage in front of us.

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Adam took the stage to wild applause and introduced The Spud Smith Band, the house band for the evening, who played superb off the wall funked-up jazz fusion numbers throughout the show.

Then the award ceremony began in earnest with the presentation of Golden Face Palm awards in categories including;
Film – won by Life of Pi for managing to win the Oscar for best cinematography, despite being mostly CGI-created animation;
Sports Personality – Oscar Pistorius for many obvious reasons;
and Music – Robbie Williams for Candy because, well, have you heard it?
All picked up – to the accompaniment of rapturous applause and wild cheering – by ordinary folk who had voted online for their own personal favourite celebrity cretin-fest or moment of teeth-grinding political stupidity.

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“And the winner is…” Adam presents the first award.

There were many others, which I shan’t list here because the event was filmed for YouTube release next month sometime and I’ll let Adam do the honours on his own blog.

However I can say that one of the awards was for;
Documentary – won, despite tough competition from a film about London’s ceremonial bumbler-in-chief and novelty politician Boris Johnson, by a Channel 4 News report about Nigel Farage in Bulgaria.

And who’d have believed it, but that’s one of the many nominations I’d sent in, along with one for the deeply unpleasant Katie Hopkins (who I was secretly hoping was going to be the one I’d receive an award for) but never mind, she also won something. Much to my relief.

So I made my way to the stage amid much cheering – Farage had proved a popular choice – and to my delight was presented with my commemorative plaque by one of Adam’s former students, now BBC Radio 2 A-listed rising star, the beautiful, charming and extremely talented Emma Stevens.
(Sadly the only photo of this moment of glory was captured by Ho, on actual film, but I will post it as soon as I get it)

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During the evening we were entertained by other former alumni of the ACM where Adam works.

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    Liv Dawson wows the crowd.

Apart from the wonderful Spud Smith and his band, we had music from Liv Dawson who had the crowd enchanted with her haunting voice and also a set by comedian Matt Blair, topped off with a short but fantastic set from Emma Stevens herself.

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Here are some clips to give you an idea, including Matt’s brilliant text-speak karaoke song and one of the tracks from Emma’ debut album that she performed live.

I’m honoured to say that Adam singled me out more than once during proceedings, at one point getting the entire crowd to stand and raise a glass in salute to the dedication shown by me (and my “entourage” as he called it) by travelling from Devon to attend.
Although I think he may have used the word “lunatic” once or twice, I still choose to take it as a huge compliment from a man who not only brought together a whole load of amazing people in the name a really good cause, but showed them all a bloody good time and helped raise money for charity into the bargain.

I’m also happy to report that the parents of Sophie, the little girl for whom Adam raised the money, were there to present an award and to tell everyone that she was doing fine and that they’d celebrated her birthday only the day before.

And as if that wasn’t enough, before we all went our separate ways the next morning Adam insisted on meeting up so he could buy us breakfast.

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The breakfast after the night before, Adam – second right.

A complete and utter triumph all round then.
We met some great people including top bloke Matt Pain, the lovely Simon Venn and the even lovelier Debbie, Adam’s wife.
And what’s more, I’m reliably informed that there are already plans in the offing for next year’s event, so watch this space.

Now, where can I position my award for maximum impact…?

 

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