Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Top Ten Photographs 2007

Just when I start to think that supporting Fulham can’t get any worse we go and lose to Bristol Rovers. Not a sentence I ever want to have to write again. Jesus Christ. What is this all about? It’s my birthday on FA Cup final day this year and I was holding out completely irrational hopes that the Fulham family Norman would all be in attendance. Ah well. I can pack that particular daydream away in the locker for another year.

It was the all too familiar feeling of doom and gloom that hit me within 30 seconds of opening my eyes this morning. There’s few things in my life guaranteed to mean I get out of bed on the wrong side in the morning than a Fulham defeat the night before, especially one of this magnitude.

Working at talkSPORT doesn’t help. The last thing you want the day after losing to a team 43 places below you in the league is to work in an office with large plasma TV screens beaming out replays of the game throughout the day. And a whole cast of characters waiting to rub your nose in it.

Thankfully talkSPORT’s unofficially run by a Tottenham mafia, and they were more concerned with celebrating a rare win (the first of the millennium) over Arsenal in a cup competition that few care about. This meant that they were in far too good a mood to poke fun at me. Especially as there were Gooners in attendance forced to bear the brunt of nine years worth of pent up frustration.

So in a bid to liven up my mood I E-leafed through my photo collection. After going through my ‘Top Ten Photographs 06/07’ (which you can find hidden amongst this ‘blog) I figured I should do the same thing for 2007.

It didn’t take long to realise that they would struggle to match 06/07, which featured some of the best scenery (or bright blue skies) Australia had to offer. But that said they still do what the last batch do and that is remind me of great times with great people.

Joe’s 30th

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One of my favourite nights of 2007 and this photo could have been taken at any point over the last fifteen years. I’m sure one featuring the same Graveney faces will be taken many times between now and Joe’s 40th.

talkSPORT’s Security Guard hard at work

I've had seconds thoughts about putting this photo up on the site. talkSPORT has a bunch of on-line followers who write all sorts about the station on an unofficial forum. If they were to see the photo in question they'd post it on their site and the poor security guard in question would get in trouble. So if you want to see what our security look like whilst on duty then email me and I'll send you the photo. It's worth it!

Hungry Annabelle

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Eating pizza ‘Battersea Rise’ style.

Seb & Sophie’s wedding

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Me, Dave and Warren (a few drinks in) at a great Wedding bash on the Isle of Wight.

Ninja Assassin

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This is a picture of Fe at the beach during a typical English summer

Bestival

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Getting back to our hippy roots at Bestival on the Isle of Wight.

Bruges

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This is a high-octane action shot taken on a cycle tour from Bruges to Damme in Belgium.

Thomas the Tank Engine

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Fe does her best children’s TV show impression at Bestival.

Paradise

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As amazing as Australia is I didn’t find anywhere as idyllic as Koi Phi Phi in Thailand. And that’s without the freak sunset action going on in the background.

New Years Eve

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Okay, so technically this photo was taken in 2008. But well done to Calum who forewent the customary ‘stroke of midnight’ activities to take this picture. Possibly the best moment of the best party the year had to offer.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Gastronomically pricey

3 x Burgers
2 x chips
2 x glasses of wine
2 x dips
1 x coke
37 = pounds spent

Last night I managed to spend £37 on burger and chips. Thirty-seven pounds. And that didn’t include a tip. If that isn’t a sign that the London economy is fucked I don’t know what is.

I had had a perfectly reasonable evening with a few friends in Clapham Junction. Not far from where Fe and I are moving in next month. I was still shaking off the effects of a huge boozy night out with some work mates the evening before. And that kind of dreamy haze that affects you the next day, after the hangover has cleared, meant for a surreal five minutes towards the end of my night.

As I stepped out of the brightly lit diner, getting accustomed to the change of temperature on the street outside, I was momentarily shaken out of my contemplation over the price of the food as I watched an altercation unfold over the road.

Three rich women, in their thirties, were drinking outside the stereotypical bank-turned-trendy wine bar that you find on Northcote Road. To add a post-modern & ironic twist to proceedings the wine bar had recently been renamed ‘The Bank’.

The ladies were drinking outside because they were smoking and also perhaps because their tiny and fashionable dogs weren’t allowed in the premises. And it was these pets that led to the problem. As a group of four tatty looking youths walked by something was said or happened to set the dogs off. The women leapt up, barking at the group in similar fashion. This led directly to one of the group walking into the road, picking up a black bin liner full of rubbish, before hurling it at the women, hitting one, knocking over their glasses and covering the bar front in rubbish.

As the young lads ran off down the road, the dogs continued to yap away and one of the women hurried into the bar to get a security guard. I tried to balance out what I had just seen with the extortionate amount of money I’d just spent on burger and chips.

I’m not sure what message it gives about London these days. About how differing strands of our society continue to co-habit in a city that financially is getting further and further out of reach for the majority. About whether it’s wrong to secretly find myself in favour of the oiks who would have probably done the same thing to me if given the chance. At the very least, it showcases most of what’s wrong with this city. Although the burgers were pretty damn tasty.

Friday, 11 January 2008

New Years Eve

No one likes New Years Eve. That much is clear. The moment the last of the turkey is cleared away after Christmas you can’t move for people tripping over themselves to declare their hatred for an annual event that gets more bad press than John Leslie.

And everyone tries to outdo each other about how much they despise the event. Long ago, it seems, people realised that raising your hopes that NYE will beat every other night you've experienced over the past 52 weeks, always ended in tears, vomit or an awkward silence in the morning as you searched for your other sock in a strangers bedroom. And so now the gloves are off. Nobody likes NYE and woe-betide anyone who tries to defend it.

Like everyone else, it seems, I’ve had my fair share of duff New Years. Be it spent being sick on the streets of Brixton, stood shivering in a blizzard whilst queuing for a shitty nightclub in Scarborough or sleeping through the Sydney fireworks it’s a night that has rarely lived up to any hype.

Even the good times, the years when I’ve welcomed the New Year in brilliant surrounds, there’s been a bad side. I was half knocked out with illness while Orbital played ‘Chime’ on the stroke of midnight back in 1996. And as we celebrated Sinan’s 30th birthday at a pub in central London in 2004 the screen that was supposed to beam pictures of the fireworks instead showed images of those dead and dying after the Tsunami.

And so, when this New Year came around, instead of traipsing up town, it seemed like a grand plan, when Fe and her housemates decided to host their own New Years party. For in one swing it got rid of all the annoying things about New Years. No queues, no extortionate entry fee, BYOB, no 4am bus back from Trafalgar Square and to quote an old club flier at University, no shit people.

The invites, (via facebook of course) were sent out by the end of November. As is the want for this night, most people hedged their bets and waited to see if anything better was on offer before they committed themselves. But I was never in any doubt that this party would rule.

Long ago, Dave and I hit upon a way to guarantee that any party we threw would be a success. It seemed important at the time. The magic ingredients were a free house, lots of booze, lots of people, a minimum of pretentious people and good, hard rock.

We weren’t in total agreement about the latter aspect but looking back at the number of classic parties hosted in Tooting and Balham over the years I don’t think we were far off in our judgement.

But Lo and Behold! It seems that we weren’t the forward thinking trendsetters that we thought we were. As without any assistance or help from yours truly the housemates invested all their time and effort, not to mention hundreds of pounds of money, on booze, glitter balls, a DJ and decks to ensure the party went smoothly. They even got me to dismantle a table.

And all in all I think it was a huge success. Around 70 people must have passed through the doors throughout the night. There were no gatecrashers, fights, spillages, breakages, tears or drug busts. The police weren’t called, the neighbours didn’t complain, the party poppers popped and Dave didn’t sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. And after a 12-hour stint, with a hardcore of revellers still in attendance the DJ finally packed up his equipment at around 7.30am the next day.

All of which will put me in a strange position next year. Because when everyone starts on the anti-NYE bandwagon I’m going to have to take my life in my own hands ands actually defend the bloody thing.

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Friday, 4 January 2008

Christmas 2007

“What is the point of this ‘blog?”

Yeah, I know, I’m sure I’m not the only one to think this but I’m certainly the only one to say it, so far at least. But it’s a question I’ve been brooding over whilst considering how to start this first entry of what I hope will be a fairly regular ‘blog.

It was a question that didn’t need answering this time last year as I hopped from one Aussie city to another, lazed through days of glorified sunbathing whilst keeping an eye off the cricket, and literally hot-footed it around truly stunning surrounds in +35 degree temps.

For then, it was to be expected that I post up tales of my recent exploits, add a couple of photos, exaggerate my conquests and conked out moments, and enjoy the ease to which I could allow all my friends access to my whereabouts from the other side of the planet.

But is there any point keeping an on-line account of life when a) it’s not that interesting b) I’m only doing the things that all my mates are doing and they’re not boring everyone with the details and c) the bits that could raise an eyebrow should probably be best kept secret it I want to keep my a) job b) friends c) close ones happy?

How, for instance, can recounting my Christmas and New Years exploits be interesting if all it does is mirror the scene everybody else experienced in England? I doubt I’m the only one whose family gathered around the piano whilst the musically gifted one shared his immense talent, am I?







It got slightly better.







Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t long before we were pissed. No surprise as we’d started with champagne at midday, followed this with red wine, while Dave and dad had hit the brandy by 4pm. It was threatening to get really messy. Until someone mentioned the stat that by the time the clock hits 5pm half the country falls asleep. Any wannabe revolutionaries please take note.

But despite the vast amounts of alcohol consumed we somehow managed to get through the day without any arguments. This was probably down to the fact that Lucy and Steve weren’t there, dad was ill, me and Fe crashed out for part of the afternoon and Dave and Sian went off to Judy & Sadiq’s.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that my family don’t get on, quite the opposite. It’s just that we always seem to choose the worst moment to come to blows. Three years ago we had a full-scale argument over Christmas dinner about the extent that the Humberside Police Force should be blamed for the crimes committed by Ian Huntley. I kid you not. I can’t remember who was arguing what. But there were no winners that day.

Anyway, back to this year. And it had started so serenely as Fe and I stayed over on Christmas Eve. It was Fe’s first experience of a Norman family Christmas. The first thing that she learnt was that you could only stand in rooms where your clothing matches the decorations.



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It meant for a slightly stunted Christmas dinner as mum tried to serve us sprouts from her vantage point on the stairs.



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No doubt keen that we didn’t have a reprise of the ‘child murdering Ian Huntley situation’ things were pretty low key up until Dave and Sian’s return. Up until then the highlight had been me and Fe managing to look decidedly fruity as we waited to open our presents.



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But upon Dave and Sian’s arrival back to the house things perked up again. With songs by the piano, drinks by the fireplace and games that hadn’t seen the light since my schooldays, we carried on until the early hours.



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None of which really answers my original point about why I’m bothering with a ‘blog. I guess it’s worthwhile if you’ve found any of this even slightly amusing. The memories of Dave singing ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ will always make me raise a smile. But if that’s not enough then maybe console yourselves with the fact that this ‘blog does give you a reason to stop working. Technically you’re getting paid to read this. Any slow readers or dyslexia sufferers out there would have earned about £10 in the time it’s taken them to get through this.

For those of you who aren’t yet sold you can always stay away until February when I go off to New Zealand. I might have something worthwhile to talk about by then