Coming soon…

Coming soon to this blog, one man's quest to create the perfect burger. Many have tried, many have claimed to have succeeded. This will be the bare, honest, meaty truth about it all. You have been warned.


So stoke up the barbecue, it's gonna get tasty.

The Bees are Back

Picture courtesy of Disney Pixar

A while ago, I reported the shocking Midland headline that some bees had stopped some children from plating cricket. Well it seems the bees weren’t quite done yet, and may have in fact used the cricket match as a practice run for their main offensive: Wimbledon.

Play was temporarily stopped at the All England Championships last week as a swarm of bees attacked, causing spectators, players and officials to take cover. While many reporters captured the scenes of terror, and interview witnesses, Midland Monkey can bring you the only exclusive from the other side. We have a rare interview with the leader of the bees on the day: Squadron Leader Bill McKnees

“Well it all started earlier this year” explained Sqn. Ldr. McKnees. “We were all sat around the hive one day, it was raining you see, and we were watching Disney Pixar’s Bee Movie. In the movie, a young American bee takes on the human honey producers, since they’re taking all the honey.

“That got us thinking: far too many of us die in the line of duty these days thanks to these so called sports that you humans seem to enjoy. Think about it, we’re going about our business making honey and pollenating flowers, and all of a sudden, we’re wiped off the face of the planet by a tennis racquet, cricket bat or the like. That’s just not on.

“So we decided to do something about it, and hit the humans back where it hurts. We did a Google search and found the website for the Lawn Tennis Association. That’s why we chose Wimbledon as the best place to stage our peaceful protest, because of the media coverage.”

McKnees refused to comment when we put it to him that some of his so called peaceful protestors had engaged in violence and stung innocent passers by. He also wouldn’t confirm allogations that a small group of bees broke off from the main swarm and threw a bottle of Buxton water from the roof of Centre Court, narrowly missing officials.

“Of course I don’t condone violence on this sort of thing” said McKnees. “But unfortunately there’s always someone out to spoil the party. I hope our peaceful message highlighting the unnecessary deaths of bees has not been marred by the actions of but a few.”

Wimbledon officials were unavailable for comment, but Police did confirm that they were concerned that the protest might encourage more militant groups to stage similar demonstrations. A Senior Police Officer said yesterday, “We’re closely watching some of the more violent groups known to us at this time, and monitoring their movement. Currently there’s a swarm of wasps circling the M25, and we have a special unit tracking the movements of a splinter hornet group moving down from the north.”

Meanwhile back on the courts, play resumed as normal, and despite a disruptive ten minutes at about 4pm, everyone had a jolly good day.

Thousands of tennis fans fly into panic as giant swarm of BEES hits Murray Mount at Wimbledon | The Sun |News.

Modern Medicine vs. Ancient Medicine

Modern medicine has given us plenty. No longer are ailments like Diarrhea, Malaria and Asthma the killers that they once were in the developed world. We have vaccinations for many of the nasties that are in the world, and by the time a child in the UK reaches adulthood, they will have had an average of 17 inoculations, vaccinations and boosters. Modern medicine is able to make amputees walk again; blind people see again; and the criminally insane, less so. Yes, don’t get me wrong, modern medicine is a wonderful thing.

Imagine the situation, if you will, that I found myself in a couple of weeks ago. A pain in my shoulder had been growing steadily worse for some time, and had reached the point where it was great enough for me to consider visiting my GP. (Side note, someone should do a study on pain threshold vs. willingness to visit GP threshold). So along I went to the surgery after making an appointment (which for some reason you can now only make on the day, since modern technology (a book) makes it impossible for any doctor to plan further ahead than 24 hours it seems). I was to be the first patient of the afternoon surgery. Despite this, the doctor decided to be a fashionable 15 minutes late. Never mind, at least in a few minutes this pain in my shoulder should have an end date, and I can get on with my life.

Once inside the doctor’s consulting room, I explained my problem. The doctor listened. I waited, ready for the diagnosis that would change my day for the better. “Take some Ibuprofen, thanks for stopping by. NEXT!”

In just five short minutes, my problem that has troubled me for six years, more seriously in the last two weeks, had been diagnosed, advised upon, and dismissed. Fantastic, except for one small problem. I still had the severe pain in my shoulder and neck.

Now don’t get me wrong, in some circles, I’m not considered stupid. In fact, even before my trip to the doctor, I could have told you that Ibuprofen is as good at reducing inflammation as it is at killing pain. I had worked out for myself that this was a short term solution to my problem. What I wanted from my doctor, was a more detailed analysis of the problem, and some solutions to fixing it both in the short term, and the long term. I know very good doctors, and some not so good ones, but I am sure they would all agree that that sort of service cannot be delivered in five short minutes. So I was left with two problems. Firstly, I still had terrific pain in my shoulder, and secondly, I had to find some other way of dealing with it.

Enter the role of ancient medicine to this blog. Since only as recently as 1993 has Osteopath been considered a legitimate medical practice. Despite this, it has roots going back thousands of years, and has been used effectively since before the birth of modern medicine. Add to this another ancient artform in the shape of acupuncture, and you arrive at the solution to my problems that I opted for, and hopefully also at the reason for the picture sitting atop this post.

So, off I went to my local Osteopath/Acupuncturist with a little trepidation, hoping I would receive a little more in the way of a warm welcome and understanding from him than I did from my GP. I wasn’t disappointed, and after a long session (four times longer in fact) of explaining my ailment to him, he set to work.

First on the agenda was a little manipulation of the troublesome area. This apparently revealed that the muscles in my back were incredibly tight, and probably had been for some time. Further inspection of my neck revealed muscles in an even worse state. So a little more manipulation, and the cracking of some bones later, things were feeling a lot more relaxed. Next up, was the acupuncture. People who know me will tell you that I can sometimes be a sceptic with this sort of thing. However, considering the pain, I was willing to try anything, even if it did involve allowing a complete stranger to stick needles in my back and neck, and leave me staring at his room door on my own for twenty minutes.

Treatment complete, I paid up my money and as instructed made a follow up appointment for a weeks time, then made my way home. For the rest of the day, I was in arguably more pain than before, and started to doubt my decision considerably. The following day however, something very different. No pain. Only a little twinge here and there. In fact, sitting writing this blog only a few days ago would have been impossible, and now is completely manageable, I’m sure you’re all glad to learn. I’m not cured, but I’m certainly feeling a lot closer to it that I was after the visit to the doctor.

Now before the comments start flooding in about the worth of doctors and that, let me set the record straight. I think doctors are fantastic, and the service they provide in this country is the envy of the world over. I also don’t think they often get the recognition they deserve a lot of the time. We would certainly be in a very sticky situation indeed if people didn’t devote seven years of their lives to learning medicine at university, slogging through tough exams and difficult patients and training for the rest of their professional lives to give us a service we have sometimes come to take for granted. However, I also think there is something to be said for other forms of treatment, such as Osteopathy and Acupuncture, without which, I would still be in considerable pain. And there are many out there worse off than I am, with back pain for example that leads them to complete dispair, and in some cases ruin. If only GPs would recognise its worth, and at the very least offer it as a mere suggestion to patients, rather than just passing you off in five minutes with some off the shelf drugs, there would be many many more happy people able to walk around pain free. Just a thought.

Stop Press: Newscasting for the 21st Century

The world of News can be a fickle master, especially here in the Midlands. The global news machine these days allows us to access the latest headlines on the move, through mobile Internet, Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds. The advent of Web 2.0 has truly seen newscasting enter the 21st Century, and we’re never more than a click away from the latest up-to-the-second goings on.

For example, news broke today that hackers have again targeted Sony, claiming to have stolen millions more customer details from their servers. A man who sells wood pellets in America is claiming to have half ownership of Facebook, which has seriously annoyed the world’s youngest Billionaire – Mark Zuckerberg. And here in the UK, the exam board OCR set an impossible question on their AS-Level Mathematics paper, possibly in an attempt to halt rumours that A-Level exams are getting easier; much to the dismay of thousands of teenagers stressing over fractions and algebraic anomalies.

Most importantly however, technology has helped us here in the Midlands keep up to date with our local news. This is truly a breakthrough for us. Local newspapers are notorious for their ‘human interest’ stories that are usually of the kind you expect primary school children to write in their creative writing lessons. You know the kind: cat stuck up tree, firefighter rescues cat, cat takes on minor celebrity status and tours county appearing at village festivals and babies christenings.

Since the invention of the printing press in the 16th Century, we have been subjected to non-news, whilst the real headlines went unreported. Imagine then, our excitement, when the digital age took over to right history’s wrongs, and bring us news we cared about. The cutting edge of the local information superhighway, bringing us news headlines from our region that impact deeply on our society, and none of the waste of ink and paper we’re used to.

There is no finer example I can use to illustrate this breakthrough than that of the story reported by the local BBC this week. I hope you’re ready for it. Forget Sony, forget Mr. Zuckerberg, forget impossible exam questions, this is the news that will shock, scare, and haunt you for years to come, direct to your brains from the Midlands, thanks to the power of the Internet:

Bees have stopped some children playing cricket.

Take a second to recover. Read that again. Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to bask in the warmth of knowing that this story would have gone unreported outside of the Midlands, if it weren’t for the Web.

We might not be the tough, gritty North; or the intellectual South; but we have news that rivals any other in the world. Imagine the terror, fear, and sandwich-dropping alarm that tore across a quiet field in Derby this week as South Derbyshire U15s took on Derby City U15s at the most noble of English sports. A swarm of bees engulfed the pitch and caused players and officials to take refuge in the pavilion. When the coast was clear, play resumed. The squadron of bees however had been regrouping, and launched another attack. In fear of someone knocking over the tea, the Umpire called the match abandoned, and everyone fled for the safety of their homes.

Eye witnesses report that during the attack, one person was stung, and the excruciating pain caused by the poison coursing through his nervous system invoked a terror response in which he involuntarily called out, “Ooh, you little bugger”, before seeking medical attention.

Experts are baffled by the occurrence. One unrelated source added later: “I can’t explain it, we always assumed bees enjoyed a good game of cricket like the rest of us. The only explanation I can think of, is that these bees were a marauding swarm from neighbouring Nottingham, out to cause a bit of trouble over the border.”

The investigation continues, but thanks to the power of the Internet, you can rest assured that once more information is available, you’ll be able to read all about it thanks to the pioneering newcasting from your local Midlands news station.

More on this story, including the shock headline can be found here:

The Perils of Moving House…

Here’s something I’m sure everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of moving their house (life) from one place to another can relate to.

I’ve recently had the joy of moving house yet again (for the 6th time in 7 years) and I’ve discovered some things that are obvious when you think about them, but that you might not realise. Here’s my own thoughts in list form, of things you will discover when moving house:

  1. Despite fitting your entire life into one or two rooms, it will take about twenty trips in the car, or a rugby team of men with vans to move all your crap from one place to the other.
  2. The pie-fight you had at the half-time show in Superbowl XLI suddenly isn’t as funny as it was then.
  3. Your housemate(s) will claim all the good and unbroken crockery is definitely theirs, and all the random stainage around the house is down to you.
  4. You will convince yourself it is possible to clean the property from floor to ceiling in about half an hour.
  5. You will lose the majority of your security deposit because of the above.
  6. You would end up in a bitter knife-fight to the death with your housemate, if only you could agree on to whom ‘the good knife’ belonged.
  7. You own too many socks.
  8. All the local supermarkets suddenly have a shortage of cardboard boxes they can give you, apart from the rubbish ones that bananas (Cavendish strain) come in.
  9. You resolve to ‘de-clutter’ your life when you get to your new house.
  10. You remember resolving the same thing the last six times.
  11. De-frosting a freezer is not an easy task.
  12. The fluff under your bed has been breading for the last year, and now resembles what you are pretty sure is the beginnings of a new life form.
  13. Things you lost shortly after moving in will randomly reappear in strange places.
  14. You could make a small fortune on the Stock Market investing the change you found down the back of the sofa.
  15. Everyone will claim the kettle is theirs.
  16. Nobody will want the toaster.
  17. You will carefully pack all your shoes into a large bin bag, only to mistake it later for rubbish, and throw them all away.
  18. You will decide that the next time you move is the last, and commuting 400 miles to work daily is easier and less stressful than moving house.
I’m sure many will have other strange and wonderful realisations when undertaking the glorious task of moving house. Please feel free to post them in the comments, although don’t expect me to get back to you any time soon, for the next year and half, I’ll be looking for the power lead for the computer I have definitely packed in the box labeled: ‘Office Stuff’.

The North/South Divide

Let’s get one thing straight. Everyone talks about the great North/South divide, and depending on who it is you talk to, it is located at either Watford Gap, Sheffield, or the River Tyne. Why is everyone so fascinated aboutbelonging to the North or the South of the country? Moreover, ‘Northerners’ would never let lie being called a ‘Southerner’, and ‘Southerners’ would likely ask you outside if you referred to them as a ‘Northerner’.

Of course it’s just friendly banter, unless you’re the one holding the bat, then it’s not so friendly. But allow me to offer an alternative view. You all want to be Midlanders. Face it, life in the middle is great. You can claim to be from the North or South when it matters, and more importantly have a legitimate argument for sitting on the fence. Ask us where we’re from, the North or South, and you’ll get a mixture of answers. But all the while we’re laughing behind your backs at the concept, and your truly woeful lack of anything to do with our home. Try it, next time someone asks you, tell them you’re from the Midlands. Then enjoy the look of panic cross their face momentarily while they consider if they should punch you in the face, or embrace you as a brother. Ultimately they’ll probably smile and wander off, not wanting to risk being outcast by their Northern or Southern comrades for fratenising with a potential enemy.

So while you’re all planning how the South will assert it’s masterful ways over the North, or how the North will one day invade the South and reclaim this green and pleasant land, we’ll just sit back and watch it all unfold, safe in the indemnity of our locale. Then when you’re weakest, we’ll strike, and you will understand at last the bigger picture: it’s not about North or South, it’s about Midlander or not.

Of course the likelihood is, while we may consider the above, it’s more likely we’ll just continue sitting on our fence, and taking our false moral high ground. It is, after all, our birth right.

Hello, welcome, settle down now…

Well here it is. After months and months of internal argument, we’ve gone live. Nothing special to speak of as yet, but expect much more over the coming days and months. It’s our intention to throw a much misunderstood light on the world around us: that of the humble Midlander.

‘What’s a Midlander?’, we hear you cry. Good question my friend, but the answer, suffice to say, is so complex, you’re either in the know, or you’re not. Fear not however, for reading on will enlighten you in our ways, and darkest thoughts. Life isn’t what you might think it is in the Midlands. There’s a war going on, a secret war, and we’re about to blow the lid on what it’s all about.

So, dear readers, settle down, make yourselves comfortable, and prepare to see a twisted view on the world you never knew existed.