Category Archives: General Blog

Nazi’s, Fancy Dress, Myths and Hysteria

Whenever I get an invite to a fancy dress party I’m always faced with the dilemma, should I hire a costume or make my own?
Now, anybody who has traversed the aisles of a fancy dress hire or costume shop will know, hiring costumes is not cheap. This leaves the option of cobbling together something ‘Home Brew’ style and complimenting it with purchased accessories. Or buying a readymade ‘Cheapo’ outfit most likely to be made predominately of PVC, Nylon, gold coloured plastic and dyed turkey feathers.

Out of interest, why is it that fancy dress shops seem to be pretty well overstocked with costumes for ladies that take the traditional ideas, (Nurse, Witch, Superhero, Fairytale , Policewoman etc) and give them an “Ann Summers” twist.
I can’t believe that the first idea a woman has when looking for a fancy dress costume is “What type of slut should I go as ?”

But I am digressing of course, The title caught your eye and nearly three paragraphs in I still haven’t mentioned Nazi’s, so please be patient.
Now I’m recently faced with finding a costume theme for a 1940’s, war period party…Several ideas cross my mind, American G.I., British Soldier, perhaps a Spiv etc….Then a chance remark about ‘Dad’s Army’ got my mind cogs working flat out. I briefly considered the British Home Guard but was somehow attached to the idea of the ‘U-Boat Captain’ from one episode. Before you know it I had gravitated to that other staple Croft and Lloyd vehicle, ‘Allo Allo’
As there were several of us going as a group, having a common theme seemed like a good idea, and this ‘Allo Allo’ theme would accommodate both the men and women much better than Dad’s Army would.

Now at some point when trying to source suitable costumes for a theme like ‘Allo Allo’ you are going to be faced with the whole WW2 German Officer thing. Have you tried to actually get a WWII German Officer uniform ?

Firstly, fancy dress shops seem to want to steer clear of the whole German/Nazi thing. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at this as there was quite a furore when Prince Harry attended a fancy dress party dressed as a German Officer.

A predictable Media hyped backlash appealing to peoples moral outrage and the association of the German officers uniform as a Nazi emblem resulted in the whole genre of WWII German Uniforms being considered a taboo subject.
Whilst trying to find suitable items of German uniform on the Internet I came across an article that had appeared in the Manchester Evening News shortly after the Prince Harry escapade.
This was an inspired piece of media outrage which roped in the British Costume Association in calling on fancy-dress shops not to supply Nazi uniforms, except for theatre productions.

One even had a agreement with a makeup supplier that it was a condition of the contract they would not supply such ‘evil’ things. Talk about taking the moral high ground!
So that pretty much explained why it was difficult to source such attire, both at the High St fancy dress outlets and the popular online ones*


Now German WW2 uniforms were quite smart, but it is automatically and almost universally assumed amongst the Middle England, tabloid newspaper reading classes that everyone ever wearing one was firm supporter of the German Fascist party, a Hitler worshipper and therefore a held the Nazi viewpoint close to their hearts.
Would you assume that everyone currently serving in the British Army is a supporter of the Labour Party ?…Thought so.

Let me give you a single example of how wrong this whole German Officer=Nazi assumption is.
During WWII, Erwin Rommel was a serving German Field Marshall, famed for his Skill and compassion. Known as the’ Desert Rat’, he was a brilliant tactician and led the German Army’s Afrika Korps against General Montgomery in North Africa.

He wore a German Uniform, complete with his Iron Cross and German military markings, but he was a first and foremost a soldier….not a Nazi supporter or sympathiser by any means. He famously disobeyed many of Hitler’s orders regarding execution of POW’s and later in France refused to deport captured Jews.
He tolerated Hitler like you or me would tolerate a manager at work who we didn’t particularly like. Sometimes you just get on with it.
He was much admired by Allied commanders and was even complimented by Churchill himself.
Wikipedia:Erwin Rommel

War Crimes
There is almost an universal assumption amongst the general media educated populace that the WWII German Army uniform is too closely associated with war crimes and atrocities. Somehow, British and American uniforms tend to be revered as pure and absolute. After all, the Allies were above reproach weren’t they?
Perhaps a bit of history is in order…

The infamous Dachau massacre committed by US 7th Army in 1945

The Biscari Massacre(s) of 1943 where over 75 Italian POW’s were shot by members of the US 180th Regimental Combat Team.

The joint British & US bombing of Dresden in Feb 1945 . Dresden had little strategic or Military value, yet the intense bombing and firestorm which accounted for around 25,000 civilian deaths is considered by some to have been un-necessary and brutal

I could go on
Chenogne Massacre
No angels in War are there?…on either side.

Acceptable History
So why is the wearing of a British or American WWII uniform not hyped up as unacceptable by the media ? Well, there is a popular saying, “The Victors Write History”
WWII is part of 20th Century history and pretending the Germans were the only evil ones or sticking your fingers in your ears and going “La La La” if and when we get around to talking about war crimes, isn’t going to make it any different.
So once again, I ask. Why is it that obtaining, hiring and wearing an Allied uniform is acceptable, but German uniforms are not? Let’s look at parallels shall we?

Nowadays, people happily go to fancy dress parties dressed as pirates.

..should this be deemed acceptable when you consider the lifestyle and brutality of both ancient and modern day pirates?…Of course it is because it’s all been romanticised by Walt Disney and Johnny Depp.

I am pretty sure those people who do dress up as Jack Sparrow or Blackbeard have nothing in common with real modern or historical pirates or share any of the same views. Holding up a yacht off the coast of Somalia and kidnapping the occupants is quite low down on their ‘To Do list’
Do we see the Sun newspaper scolding them and hyping up the extreme bad taste that dressing as a Pirate for fun represents? However we automatically assume that donning a German WWII uniform makes the wearer a Nazi, a Fascist sympathiser and anti-Semitic mass murderer!. Do you think Prince Harry really held those views when he hired that uniform?

In the wonderful self righteous media world, tags like ‘war criminal’, ‘paedophile’ and ‘terrorist’, have developed into an casually used label, easily thrown around to hype up sections of our population into a state of moral outrage.

Perhaps the next time you are invited to a fancy dress party you should don a simple ‘dog collar’ and go as that most family friendly and un-officious of persons…a Priest….Then everyone can just safely assume you are a paedophile.

* Luckily, I did find suppliers of what I wanted, at the market aimed at film & TV and re-enactment groups
The History Bunker
Epic Militaria
So now I have got things organised, but I still have a bee in my bonnet about the whole thing, hence this rant.

BBC Breakfast 24th March

This made me so mad I had to get it off my chest.

BBC Breakfast News this morning had a guest on from some unknown association (it was that high profile I’d never heard of it!) claiming that parents who spoil children should have their child benefit taken away.
Her main claim was that having access to their own TV’s and computres was causing children to be anti-social and lack vital skills. She was adamant that this was the cause of anti social behaviour and that kids were starting school without vital skills.
Oh FUP off !
Virtually everyone under 25 has been bought up with computers and the current teenager has never known a world without social networks. The result, a whole generation comfortable with Computers and IT and the skillful ability to multitask and interact in ways she probably can’t imagine.
She was about 50 so I am guessing this was just a bit of jealousy. She should FUP off and write to the Daily Fail.

8-Bit Ninjas, The Varsity Wolverhampton.

The 8-Bit Ninjas played the Varsity in Wolverhampton last night (19th March).

Four bands were on in total. Bad Apes opened the gig, lets just say they were “experimental” and left quite a few punters a bit bemused. Some people even thought it was just the soundcheck. I sincerely hope they have day jobs.

The 8-Bit Ninjas were on second . They opened with ‘Theme from an 8-Bit Dojo’ before introducing themselves and got an extremely good reception. The sound quality was very much improved over the last gig, despite some early problems with the monitor speakers which meant the guys couldn’t actually hear themselves to start off with.

It was a shorter set due to only having a 30 minute slot, so ‘Go’ was dropped in order to compact the set a bit. ‘Pokemon Face’ was well received when it was anounced

The appearance of Clive* and his dance interpretation during ‘Shiny Spaceship’ was appreciated by the crowd.
Quite how someone can dance in two layers of clothing and an overcoat is beyond me!

The night was completed firstly with ‘Crimson Joy’ who were popular and certainly knew how to work and interact with the audience, even roping in ‘Susan the Dancing Unicorn’ into their own set.

‘From The Get Go’ completed the line up, rather crowded onto the stage, they bought their own legion of ‘Slam Dancers’ who pretty much cleared the front part of the room as most people actually wanted to avoid have broken limbs. Even ‘Clive’ was knocked flying at one point.

Overall a good night. Especially for the ‘Ninja’s. Good Times.

Some Photos of the Gig can be found here: Photos
or here

* Clive is not his real name, well actually it might be, I’ve no idea who he is.

8-Bit Ninjas @ The Hang Up

8-Bit Ninjas, The Arcadian Kicks & Corelli. The Hang Up, Walsall 5th March 2010

I managed to catch some of the 8-Bit Ninjas on a small camcorder. I’ve put some up on Youtube and an embedded link here

It was a difficult venue to film at due to extremely low light levels, hence the footage has a ‘graininess’ to it. Still, I’m reasonably pleased that we got something better than was already out there. If I can catch another one with better lighting I will do. I shall be booking them to appear at a private party sometime in late May early June so watch this space.
I’m still cutting & editing the rest of the footage and will put that up soon.

It was a good night, turnout wasn’t as good as the first gig, and the sound was not up to the same standard. This was more to do with the P.A. and the mixing rather than the Ninjas. The 2nd band, The Arcadian Kicks were very good but also suffered some P.A and Microphone problems.

A great night…The 8-Bit Ninjas have another gig at the Varsity in Wolverhampton on 19th March. I am hoping for more soon.

BBC 6 Music

The BBC are planning a range of cuts including the axing of BBC 6 Music and the Asian Network.

BBC 6 Music is, at the moment a purely Digital station (DAB radio) but is one of the few places to hear new bands and music that doesn’t make the mainstream stations like Radio One. Those of us who remember the late (and great) John Peel and what he did in promoting and advocating music that was a little different should feel stongly about this as BBC 6 Music should be seen as his successor.
Even if you are not a regular BBC 6 Music listener, the loss of this station would be a disaster for new music, independent labels and up and coming bands.

BBC 6 Music

A friend of mine has drafted the letter below to the BBC…..Please read it and think how you should also respond. The decision can stil be reversed according to the Guardian Newspaper

To whom it may concern,
I’m sure by now you have received a whole raft of these types of email from far and wide. Well here’s what I have to say. I’m not an avid listener of 6 Music by any means. That, however is for one reason alone, it is only available on digital. The only means by which I can listen to these station is via my television and the likelihood of me wanting to cart that round on bus journeys is quite low. I can’t justify investing in a digital set either for one station. My listening is therefore more modest than I would like.

The issue of 6 Music’s small listener base isn’t popularity, isn’t the programming, isn’t the content, it’s the medium by which it is delivered and the exposure it is given. When 6 Music first started, I was so excited, finally those of us that really cared about contemporary popular music had a refuge from the over-hyped and over-marketed dross and drivel that was being pumped out of Radio 1. The vacuous presenters, the passion-free manufactured trash that most of the population listen to. THis has it’s place; Radio 1 needs to exist to appease the masses. However, there is a gap. That gap was filled admirably by 6 Music. If 6 Music had been a channel on FM, the 69,000 maximum listener staistic could have been ten times that. The problem with 6 Music, isn’t the popularity, it’s the availability. The simple fact is that, digital radio hasn’t been adopted at the rate everyone wanted. Leaving a gem like 6 Music on that platform was it death sentence, the nail in the coffin, the fact that little effort went into promoting it.

Save 6 Music. Don’t let it die, cut some of the drivel and use it to breath some fresh life into an amazing resource. An amazing resource not only for us, those of us who really care about music, but those artists that have benefited from it too. Put it on FM too, expose the population to it by that tried, trusted and very much alive format. Please help us BBC Trust.

Yours faithfully,

Andy Cowley

You can Follow Andy and his band here

Police stop

I was stopped by a marked police car on the M5-M6 slip road this morning.
I was quite aware that that I hadn’t done anything wrong or untoward so I wondered if it was because I had a faulty light or something.

There was no hard shoulder, due to roadworks, so I had no choice but to stop in a moving lane.
I remained in the car for safetys sake and an officer approached my passenger window.

He asked for a driving licence or ID, I had both and offered my driving licence which he took back to the police vehicle to check.
Imagine my surprise when he returned and claimed that the reason for the stop was due to having ‘Bullet Holes’ in the back of the car.

“You mean those stickers on my tailgate” I remarked, “the ones that belonged to my son, which were put on as a joke”

“Yes, You need to remove them because you will be stopped again with those on”

“OK, officer. I’m off the motorway shortly. I’ll remove them”

He thanked me and gave some advice on rejoining the traffic and I went on my way.
I have since removed the stickers, mainly because I want an easy life and don’t want the hassle.

It must have been a very quiet morning on the motorway.

For Reference, these are the kind of stickers that so easily fooled West Midlands Police.

They would probably have come off at the next wash anyway,they are not durable and they were only put on as a short term joke.
I try and fully support the Police, so lets just say I can see the funny side…

Good job I didn’t have one of these or they might have had the firearms squad in….

Photos from BT Tower visit 10th Feb 2010

I was lucky enough to receive, along with a work colleague, an invite to a BT hosted Event at the Telecom Tower in London.

Lunch was served in the 34th Floor revolving restaurant with the stunning views of London.
The restaurant revolves slowly, completing a 360 degree transition in 22 minutes.

Luckily it was pretty clear whilst we were up there, although it had not looked promising at 8.20am when I arrived at Euston Station to find a Blizzard!
Having the chance to visit this landmark and the legendary restaurant is a rarity nowadays as it has been closed to the public for several years as a security precaution. Airport style security was in operation for all visitors.

I was rewarded on leaving with a signed and personalised panoramic photo certificate to commemorate the visit.

Photos here, you will have to excuse the quality as they were taken witha Mobile Phone.

Television Part 1

Television (Part 1)

It feels as if the volume of television I consume has been going down in recent years. Yes, I’ll still hunt down comedy programmes and I’m guilty of indulging in too much Family Guy on BBC3.
Generally I often find myself watching interesting stuff on C4, re-runs of Father Ted on E4 or something informative on BBC 2. That’s provided I’m not watching Sky Sports of course, but let’s not count that as television.

I really don’t watch much on ITV nowadays, perhaps a bit of Coronation Street, but not religiously, and maybe Harry Hill’s TV Burp if I remember it’s on. I can’t recall tuning in for anything else.
Compared to the other channels, I reckon that ITV accounts for less than 5% of my viewing habits. In fact ITV has been going down the pan for quite a few years in my opinion.

Yes I am a TV snob. The kind of entertainment served up nowadays is perhaps just not my taste.

It all started dumbing down a bit a few years back. Saturdays nights nowadays seem to be comprised of a talent show, some dancing show or something with Ant & Dec in. Before that we had whatever programme Cilla Black was doing.
OK, you could argue the BBC do their fair share of Saturday night talent and dancing shows, and will never be forgiven for the various incarnations of Noel Edmund’s programmes we had to suffer for years.
But whatever the BBC do, ITV somehow strive to make the same stuff, not only worse and with adverts, but with some kind of premium rate phone vote involved to boot.

I had the misfortune to leave ITV on the other night and inadvertently consumed their new Celebrity Mr & Mrs programme. Now this, for those that remember, was originally a classic daytime show (and daytime TV is always low budget) that used to run in the 80’s hosted by Derek Batley (who incidentally owns the copyright on the format and name).
Yes it was a cheesy program, but it took ordinary (??) couples and quized their knowledge about each other. What made it great was that there were always a couple of awkward questions in there that resulted in them giving conflicting answers, usually too much embarrassment. You knew there were going to be arguments backstage and for several days afterwards. The prizes were crap as well, which made it all the more funny. It wasn’t cutting edge stuff, but just plain old daytime tv, catering for low viewing figures. It didn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

This new version that ITV show is primetime and has celebrity couples being quizzed about each other in order to win cash for their nominated charity. You just know you are onto a loser when it has Philip Schofield hosting it. They have spent probably about 500 times more on the set and budget but the whole thing seems to be sterile. It’s as if the celebrities themselves have vetted the questions beforehand to ensure there is nothing either embarrassing or likely to expose how shallow their relationships are. It runs twice as long as the original and is just the worse excess of celebrity promotion excusing itself as entertainment. It is just crying out for some gutsy questions.

“So Mrs Terry, If John was late home from training, where would you likely call first?
A: The Chelsea Training Ground
B: The Wine Bar on the Kings’ Road
C: Mrs Bridge’s house”

That’s when it finally dawned on me. ITV is now the TV equivalent of a sanitized tabloid newspaper, feeding the frenzied public their fix of Celebrity lives, Celebrity based games shows and low attention span, un-stimulating pulp, but without the cutting edge, the scandal, or anything actually interesting.

………It’s Hello magazine for people who can’t read.

…..To be continued…