The most realistic story ever told.

Category: announcement (page 2 of 5)


If you go down to Covent Garden today, you’re in for a… errm… trip to Covent Garden.  However if you’re there between 1pm and 8pm you can also pop in to number 34 Tavistock Street and visit The Balvenie Whisky Den: a new interactive space being put together by the Balvenie team.

The idea is that the Den is an evolving space – when we arrived 3 days after the opening date – there was the beginnings of a bar, and several decorative pieces around the room made from barrel staves.  Olivier also talked of the downstairs area, which by now should feature a load of whisky-production related ephemera also.

As time goes by, more and more of the decor will be finished by the team and, as far as I understood it, members of the public who wish to help and thereby influence the final shape of the place.  As with the care and attention that goes into the making of the whisky, one of the core ideas of the space is “craftsmanship”.  Both of excellence & durability, and of the idea that things are crafted from raw materials by people, rather than always churned from anonymous industrial factories.

In addition to all the barrel-related furniture however, the Whisky Den is also very much home to a selection of whiskies from the highly excellent Balvenie Distillery.  Based up in Scotland’s delightfully named whisky hub site Dufftown,  and neighbouring the vast and impressive Glenfiddich distillery, Balvenie is a wildly popular award-winning spirit and much of its popularity rightly comes from its spicy, honeyed characteristics with a hint of distant peat.

We tried a dram of the Balvenie Doublewood upon walking in, because the chap behind the bar said he couldn’t stand to see people without a whisky in their hands.  A couple of other expressions are available to buy, up to the excellent Balvenie 21 year old Port Wood Finish (which made an appearance on my Top 10 whiskies list).

People who join up for the Balvenie “club”, known as Warehouse 24, also have the option of trying a “deconstructed tasting” – offering the rare chance to taste 3 single-cask Balvenie whiskies that are blended

in together to form the master distiller David Stewart’s signature whisky – the Balvenie Signature.  It’s a fascinating insight into the distiller’s craft, and the chaps at the ‘Den were excellent about ensuring there was a good blend of straight explanation for tourists as well as technical in-depth stuff for people who want to know.

So because of its evolving nature the place probably looks nothing like these photos any more, however what would be fun is to pop in there every couple of days to see what’s changing.

And to make sure that the Doublewood maintains its exquisite quality, of course.

Once fuzzy around the lip, but now mo longer.

Another year, another Movember.

And once again a HUMUNGOUS thankyou to all the generous support you’ve displayed this year – through your kind donations, my Movember fundraising total this year was….


Which is, needless to say, extremely impressive work.

The final moustache, you’ll be keen to know, looked like this:

Which isn’t how I intended it to look – upon crashing through the £500 mark it was my intention to up the game a little by dyeing my tache purple.  And why wouldn’t you, eh?  This would be a 2-stage process – first to bleach my mo (which while not jet black, is still quite dark), and then apply the colourful dye.  Liz advised that using standard hair dye was a bad idea, and so instead I bought cream bleach, designed for facial hair bleaching.  Applying it as directed for 10 minutes, it seemed to have no effect at all.  Later that night I reapplied it for a further 15 and found my mo going gingery.  3 further 15 minute applications the next day saw the shade lift to a fairly convincing golden colour:

Subsequent application of purple dye however appeared to take it mostly back to its original colour, save for a thin blonde line along the lip-line where it seems I didn’t apply the dye properly.

(The black box is there purely so you don't have to look up my nostrils.)

So after visiting 3 different shops to get the stuff in the first place, and about 3 hours of futzing about with bleach/dye, the net effect was that rather than an impressive purple mo, instead I had a largely normal-coloured mo, with blond highlights, and an upper-lippular area that felt like it had had harsh caustic chemicals repeatedly applied to it.

But, back to the celebrating of the achievements of others.

First and foremostly, it’d be remiss of me not to pay some sort of tribute to the highly applaudable efforts of my Mo Bros, iterated to the right: hats off to Chisel, Duracell Dave, Jon, Stewbacca, Ryan, Tommy S, Simon and Wes – both on raising stacks-o-money for the respective charities in those countries, and also for cultivating such distinguished and excellent face-furniture.

I’m a little unsure whether to also acknowledge the efforts of those who grew moustaches but didn’t post photos of them online anywhere I could find them.  Sure, it’s still a noble effort, but what’s the point if I can’t harvest these pictures for sharing, eh?

And as with the update earlier in the month – a huge “WELL DONE!” to my comrades in the Whisky4Movember team, assembled by Captain Darren Rook, for their(/our?) altogether impressive fundraising total of £1,749.00.  As of today that puts our team 692nd in the entire United Kingdom, which is probably quite admirable.

Darren gathered £120 for the mo, as well as raising money via the sales of the Whisky4Movember bottlings from Master of Malt, his work at the Whisky Relay, and generally being a year-round champion of facial hair.

Whisky Squad co-organiser Andy crossed the line with a highly respectable total of £265 for the quite impressive tache pictured above.

The Puzzler Dan Brown also collected a healthy total of £265 with his angular stylings.

And Mr Billy Abbott in no way underachieved, collecting a robust figure of £200 as well – noteworthy because at the beginning of Movember it was the first time he’d been clean-shaven in a decade.

So anyway, that’s another Movember over and done with – you’ll be excited to hear that because of hot water issues, now at Dec 2nd I’m still sporting my mo, and the semi-permanent purple dye is starting to wash out, leaving me with an inconsistent mottled partially ginger lip slug.  So should the goal all along have been to make me look ludicrous, then mission well and truly accomplished.

Otherwise thanks again, and finally here’s a little time-lapse video Billy set up using his progress shots.  Looks like a man growing facial hair.  THIS is what the internet is for, people.

Day 15: Still mo sign of land…

Whether or not you think Movember’s going well I suppose depends on what metric you’re applying to the thing.

In terms of moustache growing by yours truly, it’s putting along a bit slower than I’d like, to be honest.

The growing of facial hair used to be a specialist skill of mine, and many’s been the disappointed comment by friends and co-workers along the lines of, “2 weeks?  And is that… it?!”.  In years gone by I’d be sporting a Lord Kitchener-style handlebar by now, and bemoaning the fact that I’m already out of moustache wax.

On the other hand, the fundraising side of things is going very nicely!  The Whisky4Movember team passed the £1000 mark this morning – and there’s many excellent moustaches developing among them.  And in addition to the sterling work of Dan, Andy and Billy, I’ve collected some great progress shots from Simon, Duracel Dave, Chis, Jason, and Stewbacca – all arranged below for your viewing comfort.

It’s interesting to see this year that the straight top-lip pushbroom seems to be the style du jour: in 2008 it was all about the Chopper.

I’m extremely excited to announce that so far I’ve collected £341 for The Prostate Cancer Charity, however we’re only half of the way through the month, and I know that some people are keen to wait and see some facial hair-based statement of intent before committing their hard earned.  And quite rightly so!

So, if you’d like to take the opportunity now to help our efforts out with a donation, or if you’ve already donated and have decided that the best thing to do is to give twice, then please feel free to do so, here: http://movember.jasonbstanding.com

So far in the UK Movember has raised £3,348,400 for mens’ health, and far more than that in terms of awareness.  Whatever happens from here on, it’s still a win.

Oh, this nonsense again? How did you MO?!

The First Of November.  You all know what that means by now, I’m sure.

According to the Rules of Movember, any traces of facial hair (other than the eyebrows) were removed from my grinning visage on Hallowe’en, and today the moustache growing starts afresh.   And the question, as always, is… What Type Of Moustache Should I Aim For This Year?

Once again, I’m participating in the fundraiser known as Movember: the idea being that the participant grows a moustache over the course of the 30 days in order to raise awareness and funds for mens’ health issues.  I’m assuming that most of you probably know the story by now, as it’s something I’ve done on and off over the past few years.

It is a valuable cause though – this year funds go to The Prostate Cancer Charity.

If you’d like to make a small donation to encourage me along, then I welcome you to do so on my “Mo Space”: http://movember.jasonbstanding.com – of course, if you’d prefer to make an outlandish and massive donation, that’s perfectly acceptable as well.

My learned whisky-enthusiast colleague Billy is doing Movember for the first time, and in fact this is the first time in 10 years he says that he’s gone beardless, but more importantly he’s put a bit of effort into an explanatory blog post, and it’d be remiss of me and going against the fundamentals of why the web was created NOT to link to it.  So, here it is: Billy’s Movember Blog Post.

So, the present facial hair situation is:

Get those donations rolling in, and watch me for the changes…!

And you thought I had a big nose before…

When Warhol made his famous “15 minutes of fame” quote I suspect he meant 15 continuous minutes, rather than the sporadic splattergun effect which I’ve been putting into play of late.  So, after appearing a photo in The Sun, a 2-page spread in the Virgin Trains magazine, in the background of an ITV News report about the morris dancing film, and of course the famous penis documentary, I thought to myself, “Hmm, how best to add to my massive catalogue of self promotional activities?  Ah yes – project my face onto the side of the National Theatre!”.  So that’s what happened.

It looks photoshopped, but it isn’t.

Massive thanks to HC and Neonwombat for actually getting to the South Bank and taking happy snaps of this momentous achievement.  I was busy off larking about in Wales at the time.

Hopefully the people of London will now recognise me as their ruler, and the material tributes will begin flooding in.

(Alright, alright… there’s a bit less to it than that – the projection lasted about 10 seconds, and was part of Aviva Europe’s “You Are The Big Picture” campaign.  And I’m not even entirely sure what it’s all about.  Still… when you get opportunity to project your face on the side of the National Theatre, sometimes you just say “Hells yeah!”)

The biggest internet company in Teutonic Europe

In 2005 a few friends afforded me the opportunity to go snowboarding in Soelden, Austria.  It was an exciting time, and one rich with new experiences.  For instance, my German-speaking skills to date covered being able to ask, “Where is the frog throwing contest, please?”.  I knew nothing of Austrian culture, nor of the etiquette or rules of being in the snow.

One day after a particularly gruelling set of lessons on the piste I popped down to the internet café in the village, in the interests of feeding my email addiction and ensuring that the outside world was still functioning.  Perched on the front window of the shop was a list of the hours of when they were open for business, and the name of the shop.  Seemed reasonable.

Later that night when we went out for dinner I noticed a small sign which appeared to indicate that the restaurant also offered internet access via the same company as the café between certain times.  A bit odd, but nothing inconceivable.

Whilst up on the snowfield the next day I saw similar advertisements again on the monitors, and thought to myself “Wow, the guy who runs this networking business has got this whole town stitched right up!”.

The following year we went on another trip to Austria – this time to Kaprun – and to my surprise (although it’s not clear why this was a surprise) the internet café there was also run by the same company!  It seemed a little odd that a national internet carrier wouldn’t have any consistent logo or branding on its signs, but as I said: I’m no expert on matters cultural.  On the return journey for that trip we passed through Salzburg, and I saw signs for these internet access options everywhere.

The one thing that was consistently odd about it all was that with the exception of the internet cafés there never seemed to be any obvious evidence of computer terminals in any of these places.  I briefly mused that perhaps it was some sort of wifi provision, but then it didn’t make sense as to why it would be time-limited like that.

I thought no more of it until Richie and I were back in Köln – presumably on the way back to another snow trip – and I saw the sign again, and went to ask him if he’d heard of this company.  They were clearly a much larger organisation than I’d first suspected, as they covered not just Austria but also Northern Germany!  As I started intoning my question, suddenly something dawned on me and my brain tried to shut it all down before something embarrassing happened – unfortunately as I’d already started making sound the end result must have sounded like, “Whyooooooooouuuuuuhhhhhaaaaaaaahhhhhhfuck”.  The catalyst to this particular penny dropping was that I’d realised that 2 shops in a row were offering internet service by this company, and one of them was a butcher shop.

Richie said words along the lines of, “Are you attempting to communicate with me?”.

I sheepishly asked, “Geoffnet isn’t an internet service provider, is it?”.

He said, “Pardon?”.

I pointed to the sign.

He laughed.

Borrowed from winisterling's Flickr feed. Hope they don't mind.

“Tell me you just thought ‘geoffnet’ was an ISP”.


So, it turns out that the German word “geöffnet” means “opening hours”.  And it isn’t a large ISP run by some bloke named Geoff.

Oh well, every day’s a school day.

Oh noteriety, thy name has fewer vowels than you’d expect.

I’ve been writing a few reviews for the Qype web community site thing – as well as being quite a lot of fun to be able to air my overinflated opinions of things in a public forum, it’s also quite a handy guide to things that might be good or not good in… well, it’s not really just focussed on London any more – so, the world!

And this morning with the arrival in my inbox of the Qype Weekly Newsletter, it turns out that somebody’s decided they like the cut of my opinion-jib as well, conferring on me the prestigious and hihgly sought after titled of Qyper Of The Week.

I feel like I should be provided with some sort of purple ermine robe, or something.

The main challenge I’ve found with writing reviews – as any regular reader of my blog will attest – is keeping the wordcount down to something readable.  Personally I prefer reading reviews which have a bit of substance to them and actually tell you something, other than just “We went here and it was pretty good”.  But where to draw the line?

So far my reviews seem to have been fairly pub-centric: of the 13 I’ve written, 6 are pubs, 1 was a bar, 2 were takeaway places, 3 are restaurants, and there’s a coffee shop.  What can I say?  I really like pubs.

If you’re interested in reading my reviews, they’re found in the QypeReview category of this blog, or people reading by RSS are already subjected to them without having any say in the matter.  Or you could always go read them on the Qype site, or even join Qype and write your own – far superior and more accurate – reviews.  And then get involved in the awesome community of people, join in their multitude of brilliant & free events, etc. etc.

Whisky-related nervous excitement

Checking for poison...

Argh! So much going on here at Humpy Towers – I’ve barely had a chance to comprehensively narrate all of it in an overly bombastic manner, such as is typically the custom…

The big news though is that tomorrow night – misleadingly, April Fools’ Day – will see the first instalment of Andy (of GoodDrinksEtc) & my new project: Whisky Squad!

We’re running a monthly whisky tasting club, with the idea being to keep it affordable & relaxed, and give people a chance to experience a range of whisky tastes & flavours with a bunch of like-minded enthusiastic amateurs.

The intention is to keep the group to a maximum of 12, and each month to run the tasting to a different “theme”, which will more than likely consist of a grouping of whiskies that Andy & I come up with along some thin justification, and which fit into our budget.

The first session filled up almost instantly, and so now all that remains is to get on with it.  More information to follow soon, I suppose.

On the offchance you’re interested, the place to look is www.whiskysquad.com – and/or follow us on Twitter, under the unsurprisingly selected name “whiskysquad“.

Isn’t it rich? Isn’t it (a) grand?

So, we had a small titter of celebration here at Humpy Towers when my facebook friend count hit 800.  A bit later when it hit 900, I was further surprised but quite chuffed: it’s nice to know there’s so many people around from years gone by who, if they don’t currently keep in regular contact, are at least receptive to the idea, and who can remember you from the sea of faces that pass in a lifetime.

The obvious question, however, arose about how best to celebrate hitting the milestone of 1,000.  Not that it’s an important milestone, after all – it only looks impressive because we’ve adopted base-10 as our default counting system.  In hex it’s 3E8, and if we used that system (thankfully we don’t) then there’d be no arbirtrary celebration due until hitting 4,096.

Still, counter rollover’s something we’re trained to get excited about, no matter how thinly justified it is (take the year 2000 for example – after starting the numbering system retrospectively following the adoption of a new calendar measure, and then skipping a few increments due to religious predilection, we all went batshit for 2000, which was really if anything a year early owing to their being no year zero) – when our family was driving around New South Wales in 1988 we tittered expectantly because the car’s odometer became completely full of 9’s.  And there was a special roadside photographing ceremony next to a shopping centre carpark in Byron Bay when it clocked over to all 0’s.

So you can imagine how my pulse raced when I peeped at my Friends box to see this:

(by way of description: Josh I went to primary school with, Dave's in a band I love, Rudy & Mich are from Gang Show, Julie's an old & close friend, Susan's a friend's housemate who comes to the pub with us, and Shannon went to my high school)

The day was near!  My learned colleague Doc Brown also spotted this, and made a public assertion that when I hit 1,000 the only proper way to celebrate would be to fly the people not already here to London, and carry on in epic fashion.  Notwithstanding the fact that many of them I haven’t seen in years – even the ones who live not too far away (not pointing any fingers… Paula… Connie… Ellie…) – it’s a fairly big-budget project.

Still, the day crept closer…

(Wes was a Gang Show lad, Jason I met through old schoolmates, Anne is involved in morris dancing, Jamie I used to work with, Ali's from Gang Show, and Maris used to run a theatre group I did backstage for)

On the eve of victory however – as I accepted an invitation from number 1,000 – I looked at the box to see the following:

(Daniel was my PL in Scouts, Steve's a mate from ages back, Benji was highschool, Ben's a morris man, Prashant's a friend of my brother's, and Fraser's also a morris man)

Could it be?!  In the time that I’d found a new recruit, 2 existing ones had cut loose from the herd!

It’s easy to get a bit paranoid about this sort of thing: Facebook doesn’t provide you with any sort of feedback when one of your friends drops off the surface.  You often hear of people having “list culls”, where they start to apply some sort of minimum standard to their criteria and separate from the people who don’t make the grade.  But with nearly 1000 it’s hard to know who’s popped off, much less be able to pin them down as to why…

There could be any number of other reasons – maybe they’ve just left Facebook for productivity maximising reasons, or they found it too intrusive, or they just got bored of it.  Perhaps they were someone you met at a party who you found interesting at the time and resolved to keep in touch with, and then left uncontacted for so long that neither of you really have any recollection of how you got on the other person’s list.

The Facebook platform providers seem to have made it fairly difficult to keep track of this sort of thing, as well.  And so being a fundamentally lazy person (as many programmers are), I figured that it wasn’t worth worrying about, and carried on adding people from my past whose names floated past in the stream of ether.

Still, it wasn’t very long before this happened:

(Trish I met through a friend & housemate, Gordon's an old Rover bloke, Rob's an ex-workmate, Kellie's married to an OLD friend, Sarah used to date a mate of mine, and... I have no idea who James is! Uh oh...)

I looked nervously at my bank account, and reasoned that there’s no way I can afford to even buy everyone in the list a pint, let alone fly them here.  As Doc Brown seemed to be the only one who’d noticed instead I thought that it’d be fun to see how far past 1000 I could get before she busted me for not throwing a massive party.  Anticlimactic, but cheap.

And soon enough…

(Matt's a morris man, Mark is a Gang Show dude from Melbourne, Dom's a London mate, Dave's one of my oldschool buddies, Tate used to date a housemate, and Russell's from Comedy Capers!)

Being a fairly sharp operator she busted be when I got to about 1,003.  However really there ought to be some sort of commemoration or celebration here, and so I thought we’d do what comes naturally here at Humpy Towers – yes, it’s an excellent and realistic picture of an octopus wearing a party hat.

Rock on.

I got ’em. I got ’em.

In late 2004 in an effort to prove that you can get anything on eBay I purchased an A-Team coat hanger – it had a likeness of Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, portrayed memorably by George Peppard. Documentation on the exact date is sketchy, however in early 2005 I came into possession of the BA Baracus one, featuring a 2-dimensional facsimile of Mr T.

Later, in 2008, my collection grew with the acquisition of the Dwight Schultz cartoon-bearing coat hanger of Captain “Howling Mad” Murdock.

And now – in January 2010 – I’m proud to announce that my quest has finally ended: on Thursday I took delivery of the final, enigmatic, missing piece of the puzzle.  The highly sought after but tricky to locate 4th member of the team – Lieutenant Templeton “Faceman” Peck, portrayed in the TV series by Dirk Benedict.

Now that the full set is assembled, I’ve got no idea what to do with them.  Sell ’em on eBay, I guess.

Of course it’s a little foolish to assume that there’s only one of each.  See, I’ve had an eBay saved search running this whole time, so whenever the things happen to turn up I’ve bid on them.  And now I have 14 of the bloody things.

Still, amid the confusion of what it’s all for or what it’s meant to mean, I’m also experiencing a great sense of closure – all 4 members of the A-Team, immortalised in a tacky plastic childrens’ coat hanger format in poorly represented cartoon form.

And, of course, the ugly question of “What’s next?” rears its ugly head.  I wonder if they ever made Dukes of Hazzard picnic plates?

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