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Category: General

On Dylan and Savenia…

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this blog post, I want to address a common misconception about me. Most people who actually know me in real life would say I’m pretty emotionless. The truth is in fact very much the opposite. It is just I can can put up a facade that keeps my true feelings from slipping out. Very few get to the point where the barrier is lowered and the ability to see my true self becomes available as it were.

So anyway lets go back to last Friday. It had been quite an emotional day. The girlfriend and I settled down to watch the final episode in this season of Catfish. It was a bit of a twist on the usual formula as both parties had contacted the show, one to say that they were catfishing someone and the other saying they wanted to meet someone they thought was the girl of their dreams. Too good to be true young man. Something has to go awry. This show has maybe had a handful of happy endings but they are few and far between.

Plenty of red flags come up in the background research and her phone number is listed on her sister’s Facebook account. The sister is known to be extremely quiet and shy. The girl this young man has been talking to is known to have a huge love of animals and once again, the sister’s Facebook is just full of animal pictures. The girl he’s apparently been talking to is/was a young model. All signs are pointing to the shy sister having used the photos. A bit weird you might think but when you throw in she would’ve been 18 when they started conversing (with the guy just 13) you started to feel a little bit icky.

I however still had some hope. The catfish agrees to meet and they fly her out to Los Angeles where they are filming this episode (Max and Nev don’t want to be on the road as much) and the producer picks her up at the airport. She lets Nev & Max know that she’s picked ‘them’ up and now everyone is sure its the girl in the photos along with her sister. It will all be sorted out. It’ll be weird but heck, this is Catfish, this is what we watch it for.

The car pulls up and only one person gets out, its the girl in the photos, it was her the whole time. They embrace and I’m not afraid to say a tear of joy rolled down my cheek. It was absolutely gorgeous and heartwarming. She had thought of herself as a Catfish just because she’d touched up her photos a bit and was taking shots from positive angles. That is just the way of the world these days, it is no biggie. She thinks that she’s a giant and isn’t that good looking. This is the conversation that kills it.

Savenia: I posted a lot of photos of me looking like, really good, like photoshopped and as you can see I don’t look like that.

Dylan: Shut up, you’re beautiful.

They embrace again with both of them crying.

The two teenagers are just so happy and it was enough to fill my heart with joy. The world is full of bad news at the moment that any crumb of comfort should be cherished. You couldn’t have scripted a better ending and everything was just so natural and dare I say it, perfect. Since the episode aired she has moved down to where he lives and they are a couple.

I just wanted to write a quick blog to remind myself (and heck you never know, some readers) that there is joy in the world, we just sadly have to look very hard for it at the moment. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned that the big picture matters less and less as I look more inwardly to enjoy the good moments when they come along. I would implore other people to do the same.

Why spend hours arguing with people on the internet when instead you can have good times with those you love and care about? Watching those who just seem to live for the fight on social media about Jeremy Corbyn or Brexit or some other bollocks makes me sigh.

We only get a short amount of time on this Earth, why waste it doing something you don’t love? I know we all have to earn money somehow and as the old saying goes, it doesn’t grow on trees but material possessions are all well and good but a roof over your head, food on the table, money to spend heating your home in the cold months and everything else is gravy.

For that brief moment both Dylan and Savenia’s world became complete. I wish them both all the very best because in sharing their story on international TV, they’ve warmed the hearts of no doubt thousands of people all over the Globe.

I know I have no plans to delete this episode from my Sky box and when I’m down, I’ll just watch the two minutes from her getting out of the car in Los Angeles and it’ll remind me that not everything in this world is awful and not everyone in this world is out to screw you.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

On dabbling in the world of writing quiz books…

So a few months ago my working life was shall we say, turned upside down and I had to work out what I wanted to do next with my life. After essentially spending the summer chilling out, my girlfriend and I sat down to talk things through. What I wanted to really give a go was writing some fiction books. It was something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Luckily I had squirrelled away some money for a rainy day so I could actually give it a fair crack of the whip and earn peanuts for a while to see if I could actually do it.

I’m happy to say I have written a few short stories and the sales are trickling in. It is a slow process but my latest work has come out of the gate at a reasonable pace and is already well on the way to earning me the same money as if I’d have worked a minimum wage job for the hours I’d put into writing it. I won’t promote them here because I am writing in a genre where having a pen name and anonymity is nice. You can probably put two and two together but still…

What I will promote here is another sideline I’m writing and that is quiz books. I have three already live (one 500 question Pub Quiz book, one World Cup Quiz Book (1966-2014) and a short sports anagram book). These are what I write when mentally I don’t feel creative but actually want to get something worthwhile done. I have several more in mind that I’ll hopefully collate and publish over the coming weeks and months.

The big one though is the Pub Quiz book that you can buy for £2.99 on Amazon should you be interested in challenging yourself or others to a 50 round marathon of General Knowledge questions (and if you do buy it, giving me a nice review would be grand). This has been my most consistent seller out of my non-fiction works and is something I’m genuinely proud. It took a lot of time to research and work on.

Some of the rounds I’m most proud of that are not exactly standard pub quiz rounds are Friends Guest Stars, Speakers of the House of Commons, Where to Eat/Drink in TV/Film, Norse Mythology and Comedian One-Liners. There is something for everyone though and if you are planning to run a quiz but don’t want to have to sit down and write it, this is the ideal book for you. If you just want to sit around and test yourself against 500 General Knowledge questions then it is ideal in that respect too.

Anyway enough with the shameless self-promotion. I just wanted to write a little bit on why this blog has been slow recently, it is because I’m either writing and researching quiz books or I’m writing fiction. To that end I have my first novella length book about 60-70% written (already 20k words) and another 10-15k book set to launch within the next few days. So I am busy and I do still care about politics and such, it is just I’m writing so much that will hopefully net me a quid or two that I don’t have much time to dictate to writing on this blog at the moment (and yes I know, don’t worry, I have an editor who shortens my rambling sentences and notices erroneous words etc).

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

On living with a jealous cat…

One month ago today I made the big move to move in with my girlfriend. Had you told me I’d be doing such a thing a year ago, I’d be calling you loopy and calling the men (or women – I’m all about equality) in straitjackets to come and take you away. Yet here we are. This blog post isn’t about that part of the equation. One month in and everything is going great in that regard. This blog post is about the second part of the equation. I didn’t just move in with her, I also moved in with her cat and that part is still on a learning curve.

I first met the cat several months ago now and whenever I was here before I moved in, she had showed no jealously towards me apart from one stay where she just seemed in a permanent sulk with the situation. Apparently one night I went to take a phone call and the moment I left the room, she opened up for belly rubs and started purring away and was happy as larry. She was fine the next time I came down and then of course I moved in.

Since then she’s been generally fine but has clear moments where she is super jealous and seemingly unsure about where she fits in with the new dynamic. As I work from home, I am around the cat a lot of the time whereas my partner goes off to work during the day. When it is just us two here, the cat is far more willing to be around me. She enjoys the attention but more than that, she is clearly a homebody cat who just likes to be near people. She doesn’t like to be on them per se butsleeping with a human in the room is often her preferred choice.

For example as I’m writing this, she is curled up asleep on my bed next to my desk. The meower followed me in here after I made a sandwich and once she realised I was settling down to do some stuff on the PC, walked over to my bed happily enough, jumped up and curled up there. She often does this during the day. Yet when my partner comes home from work she often looks either confused or sad and won’t sit with us in the evening. Recently she has been moving closer by sleeping on the footstool but if we are both on the sofa, she’ll just look at us.

Last night the other half was watching Game of Thrones and I’m not a fan. So I came to my PC to watch Around the Horn and PTI online and the cat jumped up to sit on the sofa with the girlfriend to have licks and cuddles (she is a very licky cat). In our one month of living together she has yet to jump up of her own free will if we are both on the sofa and settled down. Once or twice she has jumped up and jumped down again pretty quickly. We’ve also picked her up a few times and put her on the sofa with us but she’s quickly jumped back down and just sat there on the floor staring at us.

Before I moved in, she would regularly sleep with us on the sofa, not between us but on the arm or on the far end. Since I’ve been around permanently though, this has yet to happen. She clearly has some jealously issues and it is sad to see as she has absolutely nothing to be jealous about. I won’t go as far to say that she is the centre of our world but we both consider the cat as a massive part of our little family.

This morning though we had a little breakthrough. After hanging the laundry on the line (I’m so domesticated) the cat came in and sat on the footstool opposite me where my feet where. After a couple of fake jumps to join me on the sofa, she walked along my outstretched leg and sat on my lap for around ten minutes whilst having strokes and purring away. She didn’t settle but did go to sleep next to me on the sofa. This is the first time since moving in that she’s sat on my lap or come and curled up next to me on the sofa (she has done it on the bed many times). It might not seem like a big deal but I sat there quietly smiling to myself.

In time she’ll learn that she has nothing to be jealous of with me being around 24/7. Life will be better for her not because I’m all that but because she’ll have far more human company as I’m around during the day and that my partner won’t be spending as much time away from her, so she’ll also be about more, thus giving the cat far more stability and that is something we are both sure will make her happier.

If you are in a similar situation and a cat is jealous of a new partner, I’m afraid I don’t think that there is a quick fix. Just spend time around the cat and if he/she wants attention then give it to them on their terms. I usually feed her in the evening whereas the girlfriend feeds her in the mornings, so she’s learning that I’m not just an interloper impinging on her world, I’m also the provider of food and therefore am worthwhile to her in some capacity. This is a good one as if cats think you are giving them something, they are more likely to at least tolerate you.

As you’ve read a blog post about her, here is a picture of the cat from yesterday evening and you can follow Misha’s adventures on her own Instagram page.

misha jealous cat boyfriend
Misha wanting her dinner

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On showing others you carry around lots of cash…

Away from the ugliness of yesterday (no, not my face, that is ugly every day), I’m going to tell you a story with two parts, one amusing and one slightly worrying but both interweaving.

I was at Sainsbo’s yesterday getting a few groceries, nothing too exciting you might think and indeed it wasn’t. I get to a till and an old lady is buying the world and the conveyor belt is full. She takes a good ten minutes to have everything packed and then she goes to pay, out of her handbag she pulls a huge rolled up ball of twenty pound notes, I’m not joking here when there is at least £500 in her hand and I’m being conservative (with a little c) with that estimate.

The first thought is of course, ‘holy hell, look at all that money’ and then you think that despite her elongated packing, this will be a nice quick cash transaction and I’ll be served momentarily. ‘£131.31’ says the young lady behind the till and the old lady starts counting out her twenties to hand over, one, two, three, four, five and she puts the rolled up stash of notes back in her handbag.

I look at her and and I look at the young lady behind the till and we look at each other, she then counts out the money to show that it is short and the old lady understands and goes into her handbag and pulls out a roll of tenners and hands one over and put it back in her handbag.

The young lady behind the till and I look at each other again and I take a step back because its uncomfortable as she again has to tease that she owes more money, she grumpily gets out another tenner and the whole situation becomes farcical as the young lady at the till has to work out exactly how to play this. She does well and finally the right amount of notes are passed over and we can all get on with the world. All strange and uncomfortable (but slightly amusing) but then you take a step back and think.

This old lady was flashing a lot of cash. If I was more unscrupulous than I am, I’d have made a note of this and known that this person was carrying a lot of cash about. Why do people carry so much cash around let alone flash it so openly?

Carrying cash around is one thing but to make it clear to several people in a supermarket that you carry around so much by essentially flashing it when you go to pay for something is not smart and slightly worrying. There are a lot of bad people out there and people need to be more wary of showing that they carry around cash. Personal security is important and certainly when you are a vulnerable person. The counting money bit was funny but the cash waving was most definitely worrying.

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Sister Cristina Scuccia and her quite heartwarming TV moment

I haven’t blogged in an age. So what could drag me back into writing? Well how about the story of a nun, a TV show and general all round awesomeness?

If you know me well you’ll know that gutter TV and me are in a relationship. I watch a lot of rubbish television. A lot. Like a lot of people I also enjoy The Voice, well the audition part of The Voice anyway. The rest isn’t that great but the auditions are fun. I watch the UK version. I watch the American version and I also scour YouTube to watch auditions from versions from all over the Globe.

Well over the weekend one audition has gone viral. The audition of Sister Cristina Scuccia. The 25 year-old nun who lives in Milan but originally from Sicily was insecure about her life and where it was heading. Her Mother Superior told her to use her gift of a singing voice and audition for The Voice of Italy and if on the off chance you haven’t seen it yet then it is embedded below and is just quite frankly heartwarming.

Now is it the best audition I have seen in terms of singing voice? Probably not but it is extremely good. However what makes it stand out is watching the audience go crazy and then the faces of all the judges as they turned around. If there is one thing the Italian public will like it is a nun who can entertain. She must be about as red hot favourite as their has ever been for one of these shows after just one audition. A deeply Catholic country, a nun, real singing talent, that is a recipe for insane popularity right there.

The crowd go nuts after her first line and the two males judges look at each other noticing this and knowing it must be something special. The rapper J-Ax is the one that goes first followed by former X Factor Italy star Noemi. They are both delighted with what they see and J-ax implores the other two to push their buttons. Piero Pelu does so and then after more pleading Raffaella Carrà finally turns her button but gestures clearly that she’s only done it on the say so of J-ax before turning around and her jaw hitting the ground.

Nuns from her religious order are watching and are overjoyed as everyone turns and then the judges make their cases to Sister Cristina. J-ax says that if he had heard her voice whilst in his teens then he’d probably be Pope by now and that they could be the devil and the holy water. The other male judge Piero Pelu also makes an impassioned plea for her to join his team. Raffaella Carrà is just stunned that this is a real nun and Noemi decides to attempt to engage with her religious side by proclaiming herself holy water as well.

At the end she says that she had decided beforehand that if she had to choose then she would do so solely on the basis of who turned first and therefore chooses J-ax. Sometimes opposites attract and I have a feeling these two will win the competition and she will go on to be a big star and potentially a huge asset to the Roman Catholic church as they look to engage with a younger generation. I think she chose J-ax correctly as he was clearly the most into her voice, his reactions say as much.

This audition has gone viral due to the fact it is such a feel good story. Her voice is clearly legit and isn’t TV there to get us talking and to entertain us? In this case it has certainly done that to me because I just can’t stop watching it. I will certainly be looking out for her future performances!

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Lactose Intolerance attack after food poisoning

So I’ve been pretty quiet in the past fortnight or so. Hardly tweeted and not sure I’ve updated Facebook for a good while let alone write a blog. Well I am still here and the reason I’ve been relatively quiet is because yet again I have been unwell. After years of a bad cold being the low point in my health, since I decided to aggressively my weight issues I have been felled by numerous illnesses.

Top of the tree was and still is my throat, which whilst much better still isn’t 100% and recently I have been unable to fully open my jaw. This should pass relatively soon but for now watching me attempt to eat is quite a pathetic and humorous experience.

However this post is about lactose intolerance. This is the thing that really knocked the wind out of my sails. I got some very nasty food poisoning a couple of weeks back, I lost six lbs in six hours as the body expelled all of the bad stuff inside of me. It was grimmer than grim but after a day or so I felt much better and felt some sort of appetite come back so thought I would eat something. Now my mum had told me not to eat any dairy for a few days but as a non dairy eater in general I didn’t really think about it.

So I walked into the kitchen and sitting there was a packet of bakewell slices. ‘Cake’ I thought, brilliant. So I ate some and proceeded to sit down and watch the football, but then my stomach started making noises, noises that sounded like it was hungry and wanted more food so I went into the kitchen and looked in the freezer. I didn’t have a lot in there and I had nothing in the fridge as I hadn’t been food shopping yet. I thought pizzas were a no go so I delved further a saw mini kievs, simple enough, so I bunged them into the oven and ate them 20 odd minutes later. Now my stomach was all over the place, I had no idea what was going on.

My stomach was making gas noises like I had trapped wind and suddenly I was running to the loo, there I would sit for the next 6-7 hours as I suffered not knowing what the hell was going on. At that point I had not put two and two together and after several hours of immense stomach cramps, pain and expelling everything that could possibly have been inside of me, I was extremely close to calling for an Ambulance but I refrained and just decided to sit it out. The whole experience was made worse by blood coming from somewhere it shouldn’t be and that is what was really getting my attention.

Come the morning things had calmed down but still toilet tissue was smeared in blood. I didn’t know what to do, so instead of going to a healthcare professional, I went onside and dd some research. I had clearly had an lactose intolerance attack and now all the lactose had been expelled I would recover. Now I would just have to hope this was just an isolated incident and that when my stomach was fully back up to speed, my cake eating would not be curtailed in any way, shape or form by this.

Well over the weekend I decided to try and ate some cookies. My stomach held up and subsequently I have eaten more dairy and it clearly was a short-term issue. Still it was one of the most painful nights of my life and it has taught me a big lesson, after a major stomach upset, lay off the dairy whilst the body recovers and starts producing lactase again. The blood luckily came only from a cut, now whilst having a cut where you really don’t want a cut is painful enough, cuts heal pretty quickly and after a few days the blood stopped.

Still though we are ten days or so out from my initial food poisoning and I still don’t really have much of an appetite, I’m eating because I know I have to eat. I still have very little energy (quite possibly from having no appetite and therefore not eating that much) and keep falling asleep in the afternoon or evening, not just for a small snooze but for several hours at a time. I am slowly feeling better but it has just wiped me out totally.

So the lesson of the story b’s and g’s is that if your mum tells you some health advice then listen to it strictly and more bluntly, if you have food poisoning or a serious stomach upset then for your own sakes, don’t touch anything remotely dairy. Suffering from an attack of lactose intolerance is immensely painful and will wipe you out for a few days to boot.

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Is carrying on a mobile phone conversation at a checkout rude or not?

Sometimes Twitter really is great and most of those times are when I get to see a story that I would never have seen otherwise. Today that story was entitled Hang up or I won’t serve you: Sainsbury’s worker gives shopper ‘lecture on checkout etiquette’ and was in the London Evening Standard.

A young woman called Jo Clarke was talking on her mobile phone when she got to the checkout and the checkout assistant informed her that she wouldn’t be carrying on putting her items through the till until she got off her phone. Miss Clarke has since slammed the ‘rude’ assistant and has informed Sainsbury’s that she will be shopping in Waitrose from now on.

Sainsbury’s are busy falling over themselves to apologise profusely but they should read the comments on the article – the vast majority are in support of the checkout assistant and you can count me among them. I have never worked on a till at a supermarket but have worked on a till in other shops and agree that someone talking on their phone is extremely rude. Whilst I won’t say that I wouldn’t put through their items if they were on the phone I would do what most Brits do and that is curse under my breath about lack of manners.

When shopping I often have an iPod in and I ensure I either take one earphone out how I can communicate with the person on the till if needs be or turn the iPod off for a minute or so. It is just basic common decency.

I hope that Sainsbury’s don’t discipline the checkout assistant involved and I dislike the way they are fawning over themselves to apologise. By carrying on with your conversation on the phone Ms Clarke was showing that she had no concept of manners and was in fact being rude herself and not vice versa. I would like more checkout staff to do this and quickly we could eradicate people using phones when at a checkout.

Whilst I’m on this subject can people please learn how to queue properly? In my local shop the amount of times I see people pick up a paper and go directly to a till even if there is a queue is ridiculous. We are British so we should know how to queue and yet I see it all the time. Even if someone is being served at a till I will see people go stand right behind them even if people are queuing up in the designated queuing area. I mean come on people…

Basic checkout etiquette is simple and when I see people failing to adhere to it is really bugs me. Ms Clarke clearly thought she was in the right and is now getting pilloried by the general public she was hoping to get sympathy from. I do hope that the checkout assistant gets a job at Waitrose and is there the next time she shops because that would be truly magic.

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How (not) to woo the ladies – a non voicemail hacking story

We are going back a bit here but I was surfing YouTube earlier and found a video that has left me conflicted. It is a video showing a recording on a woman’s voicemail by SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt who also fronts Golf on the worldwide leader as well as host his own radio show. Van Pelt has always come across as a pretty cool guy. Anyway he met a woman at a bar one night and then decided to give her a call. Listen to what he had to say.

Her response was to give the voicemail to the media to show him up. What class.

I know he was a bit dorky but I just don’t see what is too wrong with it. He plucked up the courage to ring this woman and when she didn’t answer left her one (albeit long and rambly) voicemail. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t harass her. Just phoned up a girl and in a long winded way say that she was pretty awesome (which is surely a good thing) and asked if she wanted to go out for dinner sometime.

I ask ‘what the hell is wrong with that?’ and then I ask ‘what the hell is so wrong with the message that you decide to sell the message to the media because he is famous?’

Sometimes I just shake my head. It is hard enough for some people to ask women out expecting to get a negative reply or even worse get laughed at and mocked by the woman for being not good enough for them but to get your voicemail sold to the media? Wow. Just wow. That is way harsh.

I’m 28 and I still have only asked one person out on a date who I didn’t already know to some decent degree. With women like this in the world I can’t see me doubling up on that number any time soon…

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Guest Blog: M&S and Christmas hampers – a rather tempting combination

Hello All. Here is a guest/sponsored blog post from the good folk at one of the supermarkets I do happen to shop at. If they had a bigger M&S Simply Food in Southend-on-Sea no doubt I would shop there more. Far more. Please read on for their thoughts on Christmas hampers – something which is a rather big tradition with many families over here

It seems that every year, the world gets a quicker jump on the holidays. Shops begin to light up and Christmas music starts being played long before the fall season is even over, and many organized people get their shopping done long in advance. Of course, for many people it is quite a difficult concept to get Christmas shopping done in early or mid fall. After all, most people are very busy, and thus don’t even start considering the logistics of the holidays until at least November. On top of that, shopping usually takes a good deal of time and effort, and isn’t always worth thinking about months in advance. This is why, if you are thinking about trying to shop early this year, Marks & Spencer Christmas Hampers might be nice to consider.

While some, particularly those outside of the UK, are unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas hampers, they are actually popular items that can make very fitting and convenient gifts. The easiest way to think of Christmas hampers is that they are basically like very nice, ready-made gift baskets that can be bought in a variety of stores, or ordered online. Some may see these sorts of baskets as somewhat impersonal when it comes to gift giving…. But in actuality, there is enough variety in the different types of hampers offered that you will still be picking out specific gifts for specific people, rather than buying generic gift baskets simply because you cannot think of a more particular gift.

Generally, Christmas hampers contain a variety of foods and drinks that can serve as nice treats during the holiday season. You may be able to find a hamper full of nice Christmas cookies and sweet treats, for example, or one that includes nice cheeses and breads or crackers. Still other hampers tend to include selections of nice wines, beers or liquors, which may make great gifts for certain people. The fact is, there is plenty of variety when it comes to the contents of Christmas hampers.

The other obvious benefit of these hampers is how convenient it is to shop for them. While you will indeed still be making decisions based on the contents of the hampers and who among your friends and family would appreciate them, you will also be picking from a selection of pre-made gift baskets. This means that you may never even have to enter a store to do your Christmas shopping, and you certainly won’t have to go through the wrapping process. Ultimately, it seems that these classy and convenient hampers are perfect gifts to consider for those who want to shop early.

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A plea from an LJ_UK poster…

Do you know this man?

Hi there…

Following this post over on LJ_UK I thought I’d try to help out the original poster.

If you can’t be bothered to click on the link this is what they had to say:

If anyone knows this man, they should send him this photo. I was attempting to take a picture of a tasty restaurant next to Hampton Court Palace earlier today and this man struck a pose. Not sure who he is, but I think he deserves this photo as he is clearly awesome.

So does anyone know? If not please try and spread the word via social networking and your own blogs.

I know this isn’t that important but it’s a dank drizzly Tuesday morning so…

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