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Welcome to Afterwards

You won’t leave feeling affirmed or inspired but you might just crack a smile at something you shouldn’t, and that is okay because I wont tell anybody. Someone even laughed out loud once but then had to pretend it was something funny they read elsewhere because it was wholly inappropriate and they were a bit ashamed but mostly amused.

You won’t leave feeling affirmed or inspired but you might just crack a smile at something you shouldn’t, and that is okay because I wont tell anybody.  Someone even laughed out loud once but then had to pretend it was something funny they read elsewhere because it was wholly inappropriate and they were a bit ashamed but mostly amused.

Pizza Review #1 – The Old Maid

A disappointing 4/10 at best.

I recently bought an Ooni pizza oven, which you can read about here. When I did the post it was suggested that I add a subject to the blog of the pizzas I do, so here you go. This, is that…

Still going to work through the format but lets do it this way:

Base – 75p LIDL base, average at best but carries a heavy load if you so choose, not too thick, an ok crust and handy when you forget to make dough, or are in a hurry and don’t have 26 hours to spare to prep a proper full on epic dough.

Sauce – Green pesto

Toppings – chicken, Anchovy wrapped capers

Cheese – Feta and a little Mozzarella

Verdict – Bloody hell, that was as dry as a post menopausal, cat loving, God fearing, lube lacking, bake sale supporting, kids-these-days hating old maid. If I’d topped it with talcum powder and old sponges it would have been more moist. Next time there’s a flood Ill whip up a batch and they’ll happily serve if we run short of sandbags. I’m surprised sand didn’t spill out of it when I sliced it up.

Ok, so I’m not saying it wasn’t edible, it was, I had coleslaw and salad with it so I was able to get it down, and I think it needed the sweet peppers I could not find. They would have lubricated it quite nicely I imagine.

So no, on balance I wont make it again…I liked the pesto and chicken and feta individually, and will put anchovy on anything, but together it needs reworking. Plus it was a tad anaemic looking too. It was hard to tell the difference before and after really.

Did it pass the morning after test? What’s that, I hear you ask.

When it comes to pizza a good test is just what it tastes like the next morning, cold, with mayo or salad cream. Turns out that it was actually much much better the next day. After a little moisture had crept into the crust and the salad cream had made the chicken less cardboardy it was a far more pleasant snack.

So there we go, pizza review number 1. Stay away from the Old Maid!

Oh I would not eat a vegan

Just a little something before bed…

Kinda inspired by this if you’ve never read it. I think its one of my best…I even did an audio version.

There are things that pass my lips that I so willingly enjoy

A baby cow, a deer, some sheep, to them utensils I deploy

Fried , roasted, dipped in fondue cheese my preferences are wide

I know they’re cute on the outside, but I so crave the meat inside

Loin, flank, short rib, grass fed, food bid, to stop my clothes from spoiling

Oh whip me up wild roaming fowl, salted, spiced post boiling

These things I lust, my lips do quiver in anticipation

I realise it leaves some folk in the most sternest consternation

But they are safe, so rest assured, my menu rightly lacks their cut

For far too lean and scrawny I do find them, they don’t satisfy my gut

And even though you add some veg, add onions or some aubergine in

No thanks, fear not, I’ll have a salad, for I could never eat a vegan

E is for…Elevator Action

E…oh how you disappoint

You can read the genesis of this A-Z here.

Now onto E!

The cupboard is somewhat bare, and populated with games that I have memories of, good memories, but hardly games that made me steal coins from my mums purse and sneak off to the shop to play.

In many ways they sum up quite nicely those games which were just always about, not the top draw ones, but the space fillers. You could always get a go on them because most kids were keeping the hard earned coins for the ones they really loved.

Elevator Action was ok I guess…up and down you went, evading what seemed to be spies of some sort, probably Russian – it was the eighties after all – in search of stuff behind red doors. That was kind of it. Sometimes lights went out, and other times it would slow down and the agents sped up if you took too long.

Actually it was pretty shit. Not that I didn’t play it a lot though – I still did.

Elevator Action

Exerion was in the same mould really. Fly along, shoot things, explode. The machine was everywhere, so you played it. Felt like it was a predecessor to GYRUS, and had this slow cumbersome side to side that left you feeling ridiculously exposed, but an ok distraction on the way home from school I guess!

Exerion

I put enduro rider in because I remember you sat on a bike and actually had to pull up on the handle bars to effect a jump as you went through the track. We used to play it at Fotis Cafe, but it didn’t last long as I remember it was always out of order. I think, perhaps, because it took a right hammering from kids piling onto it. I do remember mailing a jump though and it felt bloody amazing…Funny what sticks with you isn’t it because I can barely remember the kids being born…

Enduro Racer

F next, and that will not be a let down!

Men!

meh…it will do…

A lass angry and jilted from Reading

Burst in and interrupted a wedding

Said “Last night this here groom

Took me back to his room”

So the brides brothers kicked the chaps head in

See, limericks can be sad

Oh such sadness…

Lets explore the sadness of life through the joy of limericks


A young lad I knew as a senior

he got cancer, I think ’twas leukaemia

the treatment it failed

he got thinner and paled

and then died and his wife got bulimia


My dad was a drunk and a cheat

every weekend my mother he beat

took her cash to do drugs

bringing home sluts and thugs

’till we all ended up on the street


First time we met how I tried

not to love, but I made her my bride

then the marriage it failed

when her sister I nailed 

Took her life, overdose, suicide


My dog, my best friend always true

dedicated to me through and through

Drunk, I left the door wide

and she ran straight outside

got ran over and died now I’m blue

A chap that I know who loves choir 

had to quit giving up his desire 

he could not harmonise 

when he lost both his eyes 

and his tongue when he fell in a fire 


I think I’ll stop there, I’m not sure that I’m trying hard enough to make them sad.  Or maybe I should blame the limerick, either way I hope it’s not too inappropriate and I think it goes to show that even the most serious of subjects find some lightness in a limerick.

Creepy love poems

Deep stuff indeed

Oh won’t you let me climb inside you

Let me wear you like a skin

And to feel your heart a beating

And to touch you from within.

.

What you see I want to witness

When you hear ill hear it too

When you nap ill snooze inside you

Let me be there when you poo.

.

From your innards i can feel you

As I’m nestled in between

I can feel your pain quite clearly

‘Twixt your liver and your spleen

.

Oh let me crawl right up inside you

Wont you let me show u love

There inside your flesh and sinew

Let me wear you like a glove

.

My desire knows no limits

And my love is absolute

Here its warm and wet and safe

Inside my juicy love skin suit

.

Screw your cost of living crisis, I’m hungry!

Bravo Ooni, what clever people you are!

We all know there is a cost of living crisis going on, right? Turn on the news and there is an endless list of reasons to feel like, what is the bloody point. Brexit, Tories, Ukraine, fuel costs, heating prices, covid…oh the list goes on and on.

Well on the upside, and it is a very small upside when compared to the yawning chasm of doom of the downside, our company gave us each £1000 to ease the strain of the burden of the rocketing costs of just being alive.

So what did I do, you ask? Did I put it towards my heating and electric bill, which is about to double? Did I put into savings for a rainy day? Maybe I donated it to those more needy that I am?

Did I fuck. I bought a pizza oven, that is what I did.

I have cancer, as I have written about before, and whilst not the worst type, it has certainly given me more of a ‘French’ approach to life recently. You knwo what I mean. If I was French and I had been given £1000 then I know for a fact that I’d be bollocks deep in brie and baguettes whilst sipping on red wine and contemplated what industrial action to take next.

Yup, so with my blue and white stripy t shirt on and a string of onions around my neck I thumbed my chin to the world and took my pedal bike to the internet and ordered one of these. (That is the last of my French stereotyping I promise)



Oh and how glad I am that I did.

I still need to get a table for it, but I did also pick up a little garden kitchen table this for the prep toop, and with a shop bought dough and a few choice toppings I hooked it up, turned it on, and waited for 30 minutes. It can do a 16 inch pizza apparently, but I am still waiting for the large pizza peel so kept it small to start. Mrs afterwards is away at a spa with her mum and sister and niece this weekend so it was just us boys at home…

The dough was a bit rubbish, but I fashioned a pizza-ish shape and chucked it in and 80 seconds later we had a perfectly cooked pizza! Our Tom thought it was fabulous, and Sam agreed wholeheartedly as he wolfed his down, still somewhat hungover from the night before.

The first ever pizza from our oven

I then played about and made a few more and didn’t burn them too much, especially given it gets to 500 C.

By the time I had fed everyone a few times, including a special one for the dog, it was time for mine I was ready to sit down with a bottle of rose prosecco and my anchovy and Pineapple pizza! But alas there was no pineapple, so it was just anchovies, and my god it was good. Crisp base, delicious toppings and a wood oven taste even though it is a gas oven. They do one with wood but I wasn’t overly fussed by pushing the boat out too much. I was quick and easy.

Oh and I realise you may have thoughts on pineapple and anchovies. Well you’re just wrong, ok. It is a perfect balance of salt and sweet. I do occasionally throw olives on, or I will have Roquefort for the saltiness, but keep your pizza gatekeeping to yourself! 🙂

Looks a bot charred but wasnt at all…

The kids helped clear up kind of and then disappeared, and I then had a nap in the hut with the dog. I think it was the prosecco to be honest.

Anyway, I am off work this week and imagine it will be pizza most nights…

No wonder I am so fat!

D is for…Double Dragon

Oh sweet, sweet Double D’s!

You can read the genesis of this A-Z here.

Now onto D!

Oh this is very much about the Double D’s! There are no weird stories, no shenanigans, just the joy of…actually no wait. Let us start with the nearly rans, and maybe a wee smattering of shenanigans, because they are absolute corkers indeed.

You have to start with Donkey King, right? I first played this in 1982 inDurban in South Africa. We had moved from the UK in the December and soon after went down to Durban for 3 weeks. I remember the smell of the hotel to this day whenever I smell a plastic beach ball, and I recall as clear as day having these little pop cycle motor bike toys you pulled a rip cord on and fired them down the hotel hallways. It was also the first time I had a Samosa. Oh and I got my first Album – Eye of the Tiger, because it was the year Rocky 3 came out with Mr T! Funny what you remember isn’t it…

And sweet baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph I remember Donkey Kong in the hotel foyer! Everyone knows it I know, but what a game. It was so bloody hard though, do you remember how hard? And of course it gave us our first introduction to Mario. Pacman, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong – it is up there in the pantheon of greats and rightly so.

I was pretty shit at it mind, but that did not matter. It was a bloody work of art and persists as a thing of beauty to this day! I played it again this morning and yup, I am still as rubbish as ever and completely panic when those oil barrels come careering after me!

Donkey Kong

A ore significant game for me though is this beauty, Dig Dig. It was just always around and even now I can hear the theme music in my head. The thing about it was that when you started you could achieve something. You would inflate enemies or drop rocks on their heads and you felt like Billy Big Bollocks. You felt like you could conquer it. And then it just got faster and faster, with no other real change in dynamics and you were well and truly screwed. the music sped up to and it filled you with a pure terror as you knew you were finished.

Dig Dug

But oh baby there is a reigning champ that cannot be defeated in the D category. The Double D. The game that I played for so long with my mates Granville and Mouse, a game that was just there down at the Palm Tree shops for what felt like forever.

Double Dragon!

It was clumsy and brutal, and I wasn’t great but I just loved it. Kicking, elbowing and crowbar face smashing my way across the screen after school every day was such a joy.

Double Dragon


Like a lot of the games I love, I think it was just the right game at the right time. It isn’t that special for many reasons, but it was to me and my god those brutal whip wielding bitches in purple were packing some ass in those jump suits!

Happy days.

C is for…Centipede

You can read the genesis of this A-Z here.

Now onto C!

I don’t have my computer because my eldest has taken over the room where my computer Is so I am having to dictate this voice to text because I’m not very fast at typing on my phone.

anyway, whete were we. Oh yes, C.

C is for Centipede as I mentioned in the title.

As it turns out, Centipede is not a game I enjoyed. In fact, I bloody hated it.

It was difficult, far too fast moving, confusing, but more than anything it had a track ball as a controller which when you’re 11 years old might look pretty cool but you soon realise that you have neither the dexterity nor the hand eye coordination to be any good at all.

It matters to me though because I remember very clearly moving to South Africa and there being a hotel nearby and in the foyer was centipede.

It was supposed to be for hotel guests only but occasionally you could sneak in and if you weren’t too unruly and especially if you were on your own then there was a jolly good chance you might get to play it. The excitement soon wore off though when you realise just how difficult it was, and oh how unrewarding. But then there you are stuck in this horrible limbo because this was the only game that was in the lobby of the hotel, so you didn’t have a choice of anything else.

Even now I can remember playing it over and over again just because it was there , and it was new, and made loud noises and had shiny lights and it was just part of this wonderful new world of video games that was there for us to conquer. It’s a bit like asteroid really, there was just something about it that I found almost impossible to love but I still played it far more than I ought to have. We were compelled, drawn in and consumed by the hunt for the high score…

Bloody stupid trackball Centipede
Fuck you Centipede

Now if you want a list of games beginning with the letter C that I absolutely adored, well that was pretty easy. I had to reduce it to just a handful, And like each of the games I’ve talked about so far I can remember where I played them and when I played them and how I felt at the time.

Secunda, where I grew up, had a shopping centre and in that shopping centre was one of the many sort of café places you would get in South Africa which were effectively a combination of a takeaway and a small supermarket. In the entrance to almost every one of these cafes you would find a number of arcade machines.

Commando

I played both Commando and Cabal at the place which we called the ‘OK shopping centre’.

Cabal

I was probably about 14 or 15 and I clearly remember one day having spent a couple of hours with a few friends playing Cabal, walking out and there was this girl who I thought was rather lovely. Her name was Lisa.

For a reason which escapes me even now I started to swear profusely. Just pointlessly dropping s and f bombs. Maybe even a c bomb.

Perhaps I thought that by swearing it made me some sort of bad-ass. I must have figured that girls were drawn to filthy mouthed young men. I also remember that I was wearing a pair of white shoes that day, mocassin kinda things, so I’m not really sure that the combination of some sort of strange sailor shoes and profanity was ever going to catch any young lady’s eye.

Might explain why I was almost 17 before I got my first girlfriend.

Maybe if I’d offered some cunting bastard flowers that might have worked. No? You’re probably right…

It’s funny that even 35 years later I remember that moment so very clearly and thinking, what a stupid twat you are Michael.

Anyway let’s finish this piece with mentioning Circus Charlie which was an absolutely brilliant little side scrolling game where you were a circus clown and you had to jump through hoops and ride lions and do all sorts of ridiculous things. It was just great fun and pretty easy and it made you think you could achieve great things.

Circus Charlie

And then of course there is Chopper Lifter, which was an absolutely stunning helicopter shooter kinda thing and my God I spent so many hours playing that game. I played that after school down at the Palm Tree shops for what seemed like years and whilst I was never any good even now when I play it the memories come flooding back and every pixel and Beep is a memory from my childhood

Commando

Happy days.

Until Tomorrow #FFC

Another flash fiction quickie.

In response to Fandango’s flash fiction challenge.

Will try keep these to no more than 200 words. Today the photo below was posted by Fandango as a prompt. Head over to see him, hes a thoroughtly decent chap.

After all of these years, she is still the beautiful girl I fell in love with. Though time has taken its inevitable toll, on both head and heart, there is still that same sparkle in her eyes which so ensnared me what is now a lifetime ago.

Lines paint a picture of a life well lived across her face, and even if now frail, everyone assembled in the room knows she remains a force of such joy and ferocious endeavour, and that she carries still more fervently a love quite fierce and unquenchable for those she calls friends or family, of which assembled now are as many as the days she has lived.

Tears hide that glint now though, and as I stretch out my hand to comfort her she turns slowly to where we spent those many nights, sat quietly, listening to the crackle and hiss of the ‘soundies’ she loved so dearly, and which she taught me to adore nearly as much as I adored her.

I hear my name across the hubbub of the busy room, and somewhere there is an open door as I feel the cold air of December blow through me. It will be Christmas soon. One more reason to celebrate, one more year to look back on. One more year with her.

Children’s voices drift in and out of earshot as I watch her, still light on her feet as she embraces old friends, her silver hair pulled in a tight bun on top of her head. I prefer it when she lets it hang loose, the way it cascades around her face and onto her shoulders, and oh the hours I have spent watching her in front of the mirror brushing it. She would laugh and tell me not to stare so much, but these were some of my happiest moments. Just us. Together.

I feel a tug, pulling me away. Probably one of the grand children I suspect. Cheeks red from the cold and hair tousled, eyes bright and filled with mischief. I allow myself to be led away, and the room becomes quiet. And then, in that moment, a sadness and an understanding descends up on me I look down and I am alone, there is no small hand in mine. I smile as I finger the ring that has sat on my finger these fifty years.

In the distant now I see her turn towards me, my favourite dress of pale blue contrasted against the dark backdrop of the room. She brushes the hair from her face and smiles as I mouth my last goodbye.

B is for…Bomb Jack

My A-Z of Arcade Games. .
On the matter of Bomb Jack and light fingerings

You can read the genesis of this A-Z here.

Now onto B!

There were a few contenders here, and when it came down to it I ended with a top 3 that I found it hard to separate. All games that I love for different reasons, games that I remember feeding endless 20 cent coins into, coins that I tended to steal from my mum’s purse.

The memories associated with these games are not necessarily what I was playing, but where. I grew up in Secunda in what is now Mpumalanga in South Africa, and after a few years living in a trailer we moved to this house below. Its changed very little in 30 years, and was not far from what we called ‘The Palm Trees Shops’. Named so because there were a load of palm trees around the car park there. It was at that small complex that we played most of our games in the eighties. Whether on the way back from school or because I had been sent to the shops, or simply because I had a few Rand to spend, that is where we tended to end up.

But that was not the case for these 3 games. Oh no, for these beauties we had to travel. We would get on our bikes and head across town to Fotis cafe (I think that was the name), and it was there that I recall playing these 3.

Bomb Jack, Bubble Bobble, and Bermuda Triangle.

They were all amazing for different reasons, and having played all 3 today they still are. Bermuda Triangle and Bubble Bobble offered simultaneous 2 player – so that was a great shared experience, whilst Bomb Jack was a single player.

Bermuda Triangle.

Bermuda Triangle was a shooter, standard fare in many ways, though a bit different in that you would scroll both up and down the screen as you progressed, whilst upgrading speed and weapons as many of the flight shooters did – and still do. There was also a time travel element – though this served to mostly offer new environments and enemies – with no real explanation. I made little sense but it was a lot of fun.

Bubble Bobble involved collecting things and popping bubbles and capturing enemies, and Bomb Jack was all about capturing…well, bombs…You would fly around the screen, leaping and floating with all manner of mechanical creatures trying to kill you.

So none of them made a lot of sense, so what , that wasn’t really the point. What mattered was progressing further, clearing more levels, attaining higher scores. This mattered. A lot.

They were more fun though because we were on other peoples turf. Hit a high score and unseat the local champ I you felt like the king of the fucking world as I typed MIC next to the new high score. You knew that some local kid would be along at some point, and pick up that gauntlet, knowing we had been over and messed about on his patch.

Hell, we might as well as fingered his sister so personal was it. (We only went as far as discussing light fingering back then as we were still rather young.) Not that any of us had partaken in such things, but we’d heard about it. From the older kids.

Anyway…

I chose Bomb Jack as number one because I remember one of the lads that used to be rather good at it, and he was a real Dick. Vincent. There was this back and forth, month after month, with my mate Granville ending up being his Bomb Jack nemesis. Vincent did end up being the winner I think, and then one day the machine was just gone – and that was it, challenge over.

Curiously they never actually bumped into each other at the machine, though if I recall correctly I think Granville did actually finger his sister in later years.

Funny how life works out isn’t it.

Bomb Jack
Bermuda Triangle