Monday, October 26, 2009

NICE - the band

This is old content transferred from the original lawsie.com site.

This band is also covered in an article I have had published at AltSounds.com


Way back in the mists of time a bunch of friends living in Wickham Market (Suffolk) decided pursuing the traditional village pastime of sitting outside the mens toilets by the village bus stop was never going to appeal to them so they followed their obsession with music and decided to form a band. Matthew Bell, Dan Foden, Tom Bell and Andrew Laws called themselves The Remedial Class, then Nice, then Morris 1000, then The Benaults, then The Listeners, then probably about twenty other names I've forgotten.

Well that's sort of how it happened. From what I (Andrew) remember, Dan, Matt and Tom formed a band called 'The Apple' with Tim Laskey aged about twelve or thirteen, after one video ably shot by Dan's dad 'Mr.Foden' the band called it a day and I was drafted in to be the singer in a new band with Matt and Tom. The only qualification I had for this position was that I owned an LP by the Charlatans and didn't appear to have anything better to do. After one attempted video shoot by Joe Drury we all agreed that the world wasn't ready for my unique singing style and I was given the ultimatum by Matt that if I wanted to stay in the band I needed a bass guitar. This was at a stage in proceedings when we didn't have a drum kit, so the sum equipment in the band was Matt's guitar and an amp the size of a transistor radio. Without really thinking about it I sold all the photography equipment that I had bought with my hard earned paper round money and returned triumphant from a bus ride to Ipswich with the crappiest bass known to man. I forget how Dan joined the band, I think he just sorta turned up one day. This was way back in (possibly) 1989.



I'm not going to write the whole history of the band here, as frankly I can't remember most of it. Our first gig was to the church youth group in Wickham Market, and they were frankly underwhelmed. Matt and Tom (and to a certain extent Dan) had musical training, this was something I was lacking. Not being able to remember any of the compulsory recorder lessons I had a received at primary school I followed the best course of action I could, I made it all up as I went along. This would have worked fantastically at this first gig had I not been playing through an amp at least ten times more powerful than any other piece of equipment in the room. For the next gig I hired out the village hall at nearby Hatcheston and charged £1 entry. My dad and my next door neighbour formed security and we borrowed a PA for free from Sounds Plus in Ipswich. To this day that first proper gig remains special in my heart for two reasons; 1 - We made £20 each and it took me at least ten years after that to make as much money playing in a band. 2 - We had about 120 people at the gig, and it took me at least 14 years to get that many people to come and watch any band I was in again.

So we started on a high, what followed was a number of years (it's hard to tell exactly how many) of gigging very little, practicing very much and generally enjoying the feeling of being in a band. There are hours of video footage of the gigs we did over the years, as well as fairly random footage and of course the short film noir gangster flick we made. I don't at the moment have any method of getting this footage onto the site, but I hope to in the future.

As with all things the band eventually faded away as members went onto University, or like me got fired for joining another band and then spent years on the dole. Here on this site is a collection of some of the photographs and recordings that we cobbled together over the years, I hope you enjoy it and please get in touch if you have anything to add to this site.



The Bois in the Band

This is the gear list as I remember it, there are of course omissions and it covers the whole lifespan of the band. It doesn't cover the old gutiar hardcase we had crammed full of all kinds of random leads and whatnot.

Andrew Laws
Bass Guitar
Equipment List
Sunn Mustang Precision Copy
Honner Jazz Bass copy with the frets ripped off and a fake MusicMan headstock
Vesta Shite Precsion Copy
Peavy TKO 75 bass amp

Tom Bell
Drums
Premier Drumkit
Various odd african drums with hair on them

Matt Bell
Guitar/ Backing Vox
Mystery Black gutiar that we always thought was a Gibson
Guitiar Amp known as 'The Beast'
Honner Les Paul Copy
Squier Stratocaster
BOSS Feedbacker Pedal
Rocktek Metal Worker
Vintage Marshall 500watt head
Homemade 2x12 cab

Dan Foden
Vox
Casio SK1 Keyboard
PA bought off Elmerhassel with the heaviest cabs known to mankind
Technics Keyboard



Photos

There must have been hundreds of photos taken of our band, Dan's dad used to turn up with a camera with a flash so bright it could bring down light aircraft. I have no idea where all these photos are, and I'd love to see them! There are also hours of footage covering almost every gig we ever did, I'll try and get them on the site too.


I think this is the only cover we ever made, taken from our 'ShavenEvilPlaces' side project
Our rider for a gig at Charsfield Village hall. We didn't get any of it but Dan still managed to be most unwell the next day


Matt Bell

Matt's first electric guitar


Tom doing the patented 'biddy sneeze'



Andrew's first crap guitar (a Sunn Mustang)

Matt Bell in relaxing Morcombe, we stayed there the year before they closed it down and turned it into a prison camp.


Thanks to this photo booze was banned from Sizewell Hall, this photo was taken the night after a gig at Bredfield Village Hall

This picture was taken from the background of a church group photo that was going on in front of us


One of may black and white photos that Dan and Andrew developed after Dan's dad had gone to bed and left us in the darkroom. The rest are missing.


Dan Clearing up after some recreational eating


Matt Bell playing a guitar that Andrew wrote 'I love Sarah' on


One of my favourite pictures of the band, Framlingham Old Railway gig


Hatcheston Village Hall


Framlingham Old Railway gig



Matt Bell at the Framlingham Old Railway gig


Dan at the Framlingham Old Railway gig



The board outside our gig at Framlingham Old Railway, circa 1991 I think

We were avid skaters, for at least a few months


Posed, much? Note that we are drinking the homebrew that Andrew and Matt made, brave souls indeed!


In the early days we didn't have a drumkit


Dan and Andrew at Southend

The posters from the first band name, I think we sold them for 10p each








The Secret Band Base

Like all proper bands we dug our own underground secret base, only a few photos survive.


The corner of the living room

The edge of the sleeping area, also the fireplace, so if you fancy a sleep you could be sure your head wouldn't get cold


The sleeping area

The entrance to our secret underground base




Where are they now?

Andrew Laws

Tom Bell
  • Now a practising Doctor

Matt Bell
  • Now a practising Doctor

Dan Foden
  • Still performing here in the UK and in the USA, check out his band The Great Shakes

If any old bandmates are reading this then please feel free to update me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AOL and Intel Merger - Will AOL and Intel merge and make you rich?

This is very old content from the old lawsie.com site, in fact I originally posted this in January 2005, and it was already a very old scam by then. But some people still feel the need to forward this for some unknown reason, so here's the truth on the AOL and Intel merger -





INTEL AND AOL ARE GOING TO MERGE, MICROSOFT WILL PAY YOU FOR FORWARDING THIS EMAIL.

Sound familiar? The AOL/ Intel merger email must be one of the most forwarded emails ever. I get around 500 emails a day and I can guarantee at least five or six of those emails will be tell me to forward them to to someone else for some reason. I never do. As you read the email I've copied out below it asks you the question 'what harm can it do?' Well basically it can be bloody irritating and on a large company network it can cause a similar problem to a virus that copies itself to your entire address book. A lot of email viruses spread and cause network load problems by reading your address book and then sending a message out to everyone you know. With rubbish like the AOL/ Intel merger email there is no need for virus programmers to even bother with fancy code that might get intercepted by virus scanning software, they can just rely on good old human stupidity to jam up emails systems for them!

Think about it for a moment before you send it to everyone you know,,,
So Intel and AOL are going to merge? Then why would Microsoft care? And more to the point, why would Microsoft pay you for spreading an email? These emails usually arrive in plain text format, I've been a network admin for years and years now and let me assure you that it is impossible for Microsoft to track emails that do not originate from their own servers. Even the FBI has trouble tracking emails! As for the comment about Bill Gates being generous and having deep pockets, well he may well have. But on an English chat show recently he was asked if he dropped a $100 bill would he pick it up? The answer is yet, HE NEVER WASTES MONEY!

So before forwarding emails like this ask yourself three questions.
  1. Can you telephone the person claiming to have received a cheque and ask them about it?
  2. Do you know anybody in person that has benefited from forwarding an email, EVER?
  3. Can you contact the company that will supposedly give you money and have them agree?

If the answer to all three questions is no, then delete the email and carry on working. If you don't believe me then please call your lawyer and see what he says.

Here is one of the many variants of the AOL and Intel merger email;



I'm an attorney, and I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest assured AOL and Intel will follow through with their promises for fear of facing an multimillion dollar class action suit similar to the one filed by Pepsico against General Electric not too long ago. I'll be damned if we're all going to help them out with their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time. My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months ago. When I went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game she showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4,324.44 and was stamped "Paid In Full". Like I said before, I know the law, and this is for real. If you don't believe me you can e-mail her at jpiltman@baylor.edu. She's eager to answer any questions you guys might have.

This is not a joke. I am forwarding this because the person who sent it to me is a good friend and does not send me junk. Intel and AOL are now discussing a merger which would make them the largest Internet company and in an effort make sure that AOL remains the most widely used program, Intel and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Intel can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $203.15, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $156.29 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $17.65. Within two weeks,Intel will contact you for your address and then send you a check. I thought this was a scam myself, but a friend of my good friend's Aunt Patricia, who works at Intel actually got a check for $4,543.23 by forwarding this e-mail.

Try it, what have you got to lose????



Related Links about this scam email; About.com
A fantastic Urban Legends and Folklore resource, the best in my opinion.


BreakTheChain.org
Another great resource on the AOL Intel merger


Snopes.com
Along with about.com the essential place to check out scams and crap emails

Thursday, October 08, 2009

How National Express turned me into a criminal

Do you ever wonder what scandalous things your friends say about you when your back is turned? How hurt do you think you would be if you ever found out? In my case the low spoken rumours spread by friends and associates are probably all true. It's not that I live a particularly shocking life, but I'd be a fool to deny that there are certain aspects of my existence that regularly inspire slow disapproving head-shakes from friends and associates. Friends and associates who find themselves more entrenched in the ways of polite society than I. I claim freedom, they claim moral indignation.

If I overheard a huddle of friends chatting in hushed whispers and stifled chuckles about my pathological inability to get up early in the morning I would find myself no valid defence and spare them my interruptions. I would also wonder just how slow the week my friends had just experienced had been, that they would consider an in depth discussion of my rest routines a valid and exciting current affair fit for discussion.

I won't dwell on the fact I'm barely capable of sentient thought until around 11am, I merely mention it so you might consider it a contributing factor in what follows. I offer it as a meagre gift to the gods of fair reason, that it may tilt opinions slightly in favour of National Express. I offer up this information in the interests of fairness, and to prevent this text being seen as an entirely one sided argument.


This very morning at 7.25am my wife gently aroused me (no sniggering at the back please) and informed me of the time. I half opened one gummy eye and after swallowing to lubricate my tonsils - they do dry out so after eight hours of hearty manly snoring - and tried to form a sentence that would register without ambiguity my contempt for her news. In reality rather than uttering forth a concise 'I don't care' I probably sounded more like one of those television evangelist fellows when they speak in tongues. In fact those evangelist chaps are somewhat more complete than I - they're capable of completing their garbled sentences without passing into the world of unconsciousness, an achievement I am unable to attain at such an early hour.

My wife - who is always as fresh as a spring flower in the mornings - tusselled my hair, gently stoked by cheek and lovingly kissed my forehead. When all that failed to wake me she used the more effective method of jabbing me in the spine with her elbow. Again I demanded to know the meaning of this outrage, and requested information as to why I should fight my way to full consciousness, and I used a language with words known to neither man nor beast but it was a message clear to all.

I forced my eyelids open, and once my eyes had stopped rolling back into my head my wife was suitably convinced I was in a receptive state. She politely illuminated the fact I was supposed to have boarded a National Express train from Ipswich to London roughly five minutes previous. Again I feebly pleaded for reasons why this information should deserve a place in my current value system, and shut my eyes in a vain attempt to rejoin a rather pleasant dream I had been engaged in a few moments previously.

Eventually - and displaying an amount of patience and perseverance that would exhaust a saint - my wife convinced me that if I was to continue the profitable relationship I have with my London client that keeps us in rags and broth I should really make an effort to rise, hide my shame with said rags and head off to the big smoke.

About an hour after the above occurrences I had dunked my frame in soapy water and sucked down enough strong tea to find myself at the National Express railway station in Ipswich. As I breached the swooshing electric doors of the station I was a little dismayed to see a long queue waiting for the attention of the three ticket desk folk National Express had deined to supply its hungry public during this peak time. I would have used the ticket machine, but for some reason our franchised overlords consider their busiest time of the day to be the most appropriate opportunity to take said machine out of commission so a sad looking giant of a man can open it up and slowly count the pennies within.

As I neared the front of the queue I growled a little (internally of course) as I noticed each grinning ticket god/ goddess was genially occupied by patrons wishing to know details of every possible route on the national rail network and/ or make a new friend. I certainly don't begrudge the lonely this chance to grasp at vapid and fleeting friendship with the employees of National Express, but (much like the decommissioning of the automated ticket monkey) I wish they'd do it at any time other than between the hours of 6am to 10am in the morning on any weekday.

My train pulled into the station just as two of the habitual enquirers considered themselves sated and gave up their new friends to the ticket hungry public. While I may not be able to co-ordinate colours in the clothes I wear at that ungodly time in the morning I can (after many years of practise) order a train ticket. In fact the phrase 'return to London Liverpool Street, returning on peak, with no underground' trip so readily from my tongue that sometimes I find myself unsure as to whether I have said it or not, and repeat the phrase several times over like an excitable six foot tall toddler.

The speed at which the National Express ticket staff can process an order is nothing short of astounding, and I say this with no hint of sarcasm. They can see the train is already in the station, they can see me looking between the train and them, swinging my head left and right like I'm at a tennis match, they know speed is of the essence. True to form myself and the ticket lady conduct our transaction with such speed and grace you could be forgiven for assuming we had spent hours in rehearsal, or had possibly been previously involved in one of those 'hand is quicker than the eye' television magician shows.

I could hear some of the doors on the ancient Intercity train slamming shut as I propelled myself across the station concourse with all the speed of a mature racehorse and all the grace of a newborn racehorse. I could see my prize before me - the last open door on the train - but an obstacle stood between me and my goal; the ticket barrier.

The ticket barrier is a relatively new addition to Ipswich Station, and one that seems most unwelcome to everyone. In this instance luck prevailed and the machine sucked up my ticket, spat it out and granted me access to the platform without trying to crush my innards by closing while I was half way through its jaws. I did catch my train, but I would have caught it by a far safer margin if I hadn't of had to negotiate that ticket barrier. The normal routine involves me putting my ticket through so many times that it ends up looking like a museum relic until I am granted access. Once half way through the barrier the 'kill paddles' attempt to separate my front from my back by prematurely closing. This debacle is normally concluded by paying a visit to the tired looking ticket inspector who is the guardian of the large disabled access gate. So whereas I used to be able to buy my ticket and walk the three or four metres to the platform, I now have to engage in a battle of wits with a belligerent bit of machinery and start my journey from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street with a light bit of internal bleeding.

So why were the ticket barriers installed? There are already ticket barriers at my destination, and my ticket will be checked en-route to London, so why does it also need to be checked in Ipswich? The addition of this extra level of security means that my ticket is now checked six times every time I travel to and from London. I've travelled through security at middle eastern airports and had my ticket checked less often. Putting barriers between the outside world (let's call it the free world just for fun) and the platform also robs me of the chance to buy my ticket on the train; something that is often essential when the ticket hall is teeming with the great grey moronic hordes of civilisation - every one of them wanting to know the variables for travelling between Leiston and Skegness.

To digress for a moment let's touch on the cost of rail travel. Today I paid £60 for a standard open return from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street, a journey that (god willing) takes just over an hour each way. When I was travelling to London and back every day - and bearing in mind I got a discount for buying my season ticket monthly - I was paying out twice as much for my rail fare each month as I was my mortgage, and my mortgage was only a year old! There are rarely any seats on peak time trains, and any seats that are available are often foul and dirty. This morning I paid £60 for the privilege of sitting in a coffee soaked seat. At least I hope it was coffee.

In their defence National Express would say that ticket barriers are essential to combat fare dodgers, but do all the fare paying passenger have to foot the bill for a few bad eggs? So if these ner do wells manage to cross the platform, and (with a cartoon villain cackle) actually board a train then National Express are saying they've got away with the crime of the century? What about the conductor on the train? I've seen what happens to people that disagree with conductors on trains, they get picked up by the transport police as soon as they reach their destination. Even if fare dodgers evade the conductor they still won't be able to get through the ticket barriers at London Liverpool Street. It's game over you evil fare-dodging genius.

So why am I being punished for the crimes of others, or (I guess) being punished for any fare dodging crimes I may commit in the future? In America they have a policy of 'innocent until proved guilty', it's not something that exists in Britain, and maybe these ticket barriers are proof. One of the only other sections of commerce that acts in this way are insurance companies, but that's a tale for another time.

I find this mentality of metering out punishment before the crime has been committed utterly self defeating and ultimately pointless. Deterrents do not work, the death penalty is constant proof of this. Fortunately we don't have the death penalty in Britain; if the law enforecement authorities employed the logic of National Express we would all receive a lethal injection moments after birth, just in case we commit murder in the future.

So what's next in the National Express valiant crusade against crime? I can't imagine, and I don't want to, but I'm sure they'll think of something. Maybe in ten years time catching a train will be as time consuming and frustrating as catching a plane? Actually that's an unfair comparison, planes are considerably cheaper to use than trains and lot more reliable. In their defence National Express are keeping the trains running a lot better than their predecessors, but I still wouldn't fancy getting in a plane they're responsible for maintaining.

I could force myself to get up earlier in the morning thus rendering the ticket barriers at Ipswich station less of a time delay, and more of a standard run of the mill matter for my moral indignation. In order to try and fundamentally change my genetic make up I could try and force myself to become a morning person - I could endure months of mental morning anguish until I become used to the hours and hardened to the fatigue. But that's really quite unlikely, instead I'll just whine about things I have no control over that ultimately don't have much of a bearing on my quality of life; that's the English way!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Why you shouldn't use bright gaudy images on your website.


It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting an event, a product (hell even a blog) think of your image choice as more of a garnish for your content than anything else. If you choose a busy /bright image it will detract from the message rather than enhance it, it’s a bit like placing a sparkler in a glass of fine wine (and will have much the same effect in blinding the poor unfortunate victim of your graphics).

Bright colours work great on circus posters where they have to catch the attention of a speeding soccer mom in an SUV in order to convey a message, but colour schemes that can send a Geiger counter into meltdown are not appropriate to use on a website where you are trying to reinforce the professional cache of your organisation. I have decided against purchasing from companies based entirely on dodgy site graphics and dog shit colour schemes, and you may be shocked to learn I’m nowhere near as unique as my mum thinks I am. I am however, exactly as great as she believes me to be.

The use of gaudy images is a vicious spiral, with each new graphic having to outdo its predecessor in vibrant violence until you're in a situation where you have to make your user’s eyes bleed just to get their attention. The logical end of this downward spiral will involve breaking into the homes of your potential customers and tattooing your message on the faces of their kin. Of course there’s a guy in marketing that will STILL feel that’s not going to get the message across so you’ll end up having to do some sort of naked sacrificial dance on the beds of your terrified customers wearing the still-warm skins of their pets. Having spent a couple of weeks in America recently – and having been exposed to the one sided abusive relationship they call ‘television advertising’ – there’s a part of me that fears things really could reach such a low point before the decade is out.

Look at the big boy’s websites - I mean the really successful websites that even cave dwellers and residents of the international space station have heard of - you’ll notice they use slightly subdued colours that compliment each other rather than causing a migraine of stroke like proportions. These colour schemes designed to engender trust, a feeling that using your site is welcoming and comfortable, not that you're trying to shake a rattle in front of a distracted toddler. If you think the owners of these sites are wrong in using pale pastels and relaxed hues consider for a moment why they’re flying private fighter jets and forgetting how many super cars they own, and why you’re still driving that 1987 Dodge with the brakes that are about as effective as using breadstick weapons to repel Samurai hordes.

And if you use animated gifs or pointless flash movies then you are just like that kid at school who ate whatever he managed to excavate from his nasal cavities to impress the girls.

Friday, October 02, 2009

New published work - A Tale of Junk Culture


I don't normally post on my blog when I get published somewhere - it seems a bit crass somehow. However, I have just had the first part of a humorous series I'm writing published by the lovely folk at altsounds.com

'A Tale of Junk Culture Part 1' is a rough history of my old band, and is now available for your amusement here - http://hangout.altsounds.com/features/111437-a-tale-of-junk-culture-part-1-a.html