Monday, December 25, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 25

"Merry Christmas everyone!"

- smeg_head, British blogger.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 24

"But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come
round... as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only
time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one
consent to open their shut-up hearts freely."
- Charles Dickens, British author

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 21

“A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.”

- Mitch Hedberg, American comedian

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 18

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a
department store, and he asked for my autograph.”

- Shirley Temple, child actress

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 17

“Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to
worship Jesus Christ.”

- Bart Simpson, 10-year-old ‘child’.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 16

"Roses are reddishViolets are bluishIf it weren't for ChristmasWe'd all be

- Benny Hill, UK Comedian

Friday, December 15, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 15

Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for
it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their
kids pay for it.

- Richard Lamm, American Politician

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 14

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they
are all 30 feet tall.

- Larry Wilde

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 13

My first copies of Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn still have some
blue-spruce needles scattered in the pages. They smell of Christmas still.

- Charlton Heston, American actor.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 12

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and
goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

- Calvin Coolidge, US President (1923 – 1929)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 11

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving
others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?

- Bob Hope, comedian & entertainer

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 10

“Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never
fattening, never sinful, and permanently personal.”

- Lenore Hershey, Journalist

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 9

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”

- Charles Schulz, Cartoonist

Friday, December 08, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 8

“Wii sounds like we, which emphasises this console is for everyone.”

- Nintendo Press Release

Wii Came, Wii Saw, Wii Conquered

It’s possibly the earliest I’ve been awake all year. Just before 7am this morning I left the house to trudge, bleary eyed, to Game. I arrived to find I was officially the third Wii owner of the day.

After a bit of faffing around with synching the Wii-motes up I finally launched into Wii Sports and I wasn’t disappointed. The control is brilliant and just as sensitive & responsive as it’s been hyped to be. Yes it does take a bit of getting used to but all games are playable in minutes and after half an hour you start to master the quirks of the controller. The addition of a speaker into the remote really adds to the experience with sounds of the games whooshing from your hands to your TV.

I’m officially hooked. The baseball is tricky but 10-pin I already have down to an art. I admit I’m slightly disappointed with the content of Wii Play (apart from the cool Tanks game) but it’s worth it for the second controller. I’ve already designed a Mii (though can’t quite get the hair right) and I’m now resisting the urge to download Mario 64.

Gaming is fun again!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dec 7th | Quotable Advent Calendar 7

“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on
a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.”

- Albert Einstein, Physicist

Here Wii Go

It’s weird but I thought my Gamecube would be the last console I would ever buy. I didn’t find the games a compelling as my N64 or Megadrive and ultimately decided perhaps I’d finally grown up. Then around 12 months ago I heard about the ‘Nintendo Revolution’. I knew gaming was still a passionate interest of mine. The DS had rekindled the flame and games such as Mario Kart and Wario Ware had got me playing daily once more.

There’s something about the Wii though that has really got me excited. It’s games that finally you can actually physically play. Even Miss Smeg has mild excitement about the new console.

PS3 looks amazing and undoubtedly it will be. But does it really offer anything new other than refined graphics and faster processing?

Wii is the first step to truly realising virtual reality without having to use those ugly bulky headsets of the 90s. It’s still years away but with Nintendo finally realising a fully interactive control device, gaming is exciting once more.

Of course there is a problem. I haven’t actually seen a Wii yet let alone touched one so it could all end in bitter disappointment. I mean surely it can’t be as interactive as it makes out? It’s not going to be the fluid response the adverts are making out is it?

I’ll let you know in 24 hours…

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 6

“I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about
human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely
destructive. We've created life in our own image.”

- Stephen Hawkings, Physicist

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 5

I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying,
toys not included.

- Bernard Manning, British comedian

Monday, December 04, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 4

“The one thing I remember about Christmas was that my father used to take me out in a boat about ten miles offshore on Christmas Day, and I used to have to swim
back. Extraordinary. It was a ritual. Mind you, that wasn't the hard part. The
difficult bit was getting out of the sack.”

- John Cleese, British comedian

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 3

“One of the unsung freedoms that go with a free press is the freedom not to read

- Ferdinand Mount, British journalist

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 2

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it

- Marilyn vos Savant, American columnist

First Night

Last night was my first Xmas gig of 2006. I restrained from playing Xmas tunes and instead belted out all the cheesy party classics that I’ll be sick of by the 23rd. It was an odd night, a small crowd. It started off shakily as no one seemed enthusiastic. It may be December 1st but Xmas still seems far off despite the twinkling of the fairy lights enveloping the room.

I was also plagued by faulty CD players. For most of the night I was managing on an iPod and one CD player which was a bit stressful. I didn’t really care about me looking shit when the CD stopped playing halfway through a song, at heart I knew it was the equipment not me but I was concerned that it was spoiling the enjoyment of the party goers.

Thankfully a pissed game of music chairs lifted everyone’s spirits and it was back on with the music.

Tonight I will hopefully have a brand new CD deck and, ready for the quiz on Sunday a brand new mixer – which should save me lugging the heavy existing one up and down stairs probably the cause of said faulty CDs!

Xmas night 1: 7/10

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quotable Advent Calendar 1

“The new classes are, in ascending order, the morons, the yuppies and the stars.
The first watch TV, the second make TV programmes, the third appear on

- Roger Scruton, British philosopher

Quiz TV

The government is planning to clamp down on the TV Quiz Channels. I must say I’m glad. After 10pm they clog up Freeview relentlessly, which is frustrating as upon returning from work after that time at night I’d quite enjoy watching some intelligent programming instead of morons calling in dumb answers to air headed presenters.

The government have argued that these TV channels are ripping off the UK public. Charging at least 60p per call which isn’t even guaranteed to connect. You have a 1-7000 chance of actually winning on these shows.

If you’re foolish enough to call these programmes then you deserve losing your money. One man complained he’d spent £300 calling shows like ‘The Mint’ and ‘Quizcall’. My feeling was simply ‘And?’ The channels do actually clearly state the rules and the costs at all time – that’s why I’ve never called in! No one forced this gentleman and others like him to take part, he’s only got himself to blame. Still though, the government want to clamp down on this ‘rip off’.

Odd though, that no one mentions the government’s own Quiz… the one that costs at least £1 a go (40% more expensive that the quiz channels) and the odds of winning are 14million-1. You’re far less likely to win at Lotto than you are at Quizmania yet for some reason that’s deemed perfectly acceptable…

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Farewell Pop Picker

Just 2 years after we lost John Peel another radio legend has passed away.

R.I.P. Alan 'Fluff' Freeman.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

James Blond

For years, while cashing up, I used to talk with my boss about how James Bond should be. We moaned that Brosnan’s films were getting cheesier & cheesier and while the media compared him to Connary we preferred to compare him to Moore. We used to bemoan Eon Productions fear of stripping Bond back to the cunning, lone wolf portrayed in the books. The closest they’d got so far was Dalton’s version. Die Another Day was a total, total sham. A film that could have been any action adventure character and totally betrayed the cunning and intelligence that Bond should have.

Last night I finally saw the Bond film I’ve been wanting to see for years. Not since From Russia With Love has a Bond film felt totally realistic and gritty. Bond was dangerous once again. What did it for me was the Parkour chase through the construction site. The villain athletically leaps through a small hole – Bond just charges through the wall. A perfect portrait of how Bond should be, an unstoppable blunt instrument. This new Bond no longer relies on gadgets and defeats villains through sheer force – not luck as Brosnan’s Bond seemed to.

Bond tends to go through cycles. Every now and then Bond is stripped back to basics with each successive film adding a layer of silliness until you get the likes of Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker & Die Another Day. Hopefully Eon will resist that and keep Bond basic.

Daniel Craig is brilliant as Bond. He’s genuinely dangerous but can also act, a talent some 007s have lacked.

So I’d rate Casino Royale as one of the best ever 007 films. They still could have bought some black hair dye though…

  • Everything you ever needed to know about Bond here

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Real Thing

It’s a well-known fact that the modern day Santa was invented by Coca Cola. In fact, so well known is this fact that I’ve heard it mentioned a few times in the last week as we draw closer towards Xmas – and it infuriates me. Why? Because it’s a total urban myth.

The Santa Claus figure, although not yet standardized, was ubiquitous by the late 19th century. Santa was portrayed as both large and small; he was usually round but sometimes of normal or slight build; and he dressed in furs or cloth suits of red, blue, green, or purple. A Boston printer named Louis Prang introduced the English custom of Christmas cards to America, and in 1885 he issued a card featuring a red-suited Santa. The chubby Santa with a red suit (like an "overweight superhero") began to replace the fur-dressed image and the multicoloured Santas.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that Coca Cola started to feature Santa on their packaging. Long after Prang’s 1885 version had started to cement its image into the American consciousness. Still you can’t deny that they helped to push the modern Santa Claus to the mass market but they certainly didn’t event him.

One thing that is true though. It’s not officially Christmas until you’ve seen the Coca Cola trucks ‘Holidays Are Coming’ advert.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Feeling Groovy

You know there’s nothing quite like live music. It’s been ages since I last saw a band perform live. I’m mildly embarrassed to note that, as far as I can recall, the last person I saw live was Chesney Hawkes at a university ball in 2002. He spent half an hour singing random songs including a dreadful cover of American Pie. At every lull in the concert, and when he could clearly hear it being shouted, various people screamed things like ‘this is all shit, just sing THE fucking song. Because of course there’s only one thing he’ll ever be remembered for… his One And Only thing in fact.

Anyway this evening I travelled down to Bristol Academy to see The Feeling live. The Feeling are the first band to really capture my imagination since Dodgy some 10 years ago. I wasn’t disappointed. The Feeling were stunning. Warm up band ‘Luke Toms’ were best described as ‘bland’ (That said, they sound much better through their website than they did live) and didn’t even have the decency to say hello when they came on stage. (Yes I know that's not important musically but you should make an effort to engage potential new fans!)

Not to worry though, The Feeling awed from song one. They genuinely seemed overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the audience as they belted out a series of songs that already seem anthems – despite the world not knowing them less than 12 months ago.

A truly stunning version of Buggles ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ was one of their set pieces that deserves a release. Rose was tenderly performed and, perhaps, has now lodged in my mind as one of my favourite ever tracks. Sewn got the whole audience joining in and the finale – a thumping rendition of current single ‘I Love It When You Call’ was performed with some amazing gusto. Dan Gillespie Sells, lead singer, lept about the stage with an abundance of energy and performed some stonking guitar solos.

The only problem now is that I really I want to see them again…

Friday, November 10, 2006


One of my favourite documentary series ever was Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends. In it Louis spent time travelling America and searching out some of the weirdest groups and societies to discover what made them tick. Where Louis was a genius was that he was very laid back – almost nerdy. He’d bumble around and often come across as slightly apologetic for encroaching on his subjects time.

But, in this method was pure genius. After a time with Louis, the subject would totally relax and end up becoming far more revealing than they ever would under normal TV reporting conditions. Louis was a master at this and would then start subtly asking the clever questions. He famously got a strict Neo-Nazi to admit to loving ‘Are You Being Served’.

What resulted was a fascinating tour around America and some of the darker aspects of its culture.

With this in mind, I was looking forward to Borat. The trailers made the concept look very similar to Louis Theroux. Borat is a bumbling fool around whom his subjects can relax thinking they’re not going to get grilled. Obviously there are differences. Louis Theroux seemed genuinely affectionate about his subjects whereas Borat is just there to take the piss.

In the film, where Borat uses these techniques there is pure genius at play. We get some amazing insights into American life. There’s the hideous Rodeo man who demands that Borat should shave his moustache off so he doesn’t get mistaken for a ‘dirty Muslim.’ The part with the grotesque college student who admits that most women don’t have his respect and there’s the chilling sequence set in a evangelical church where people seem to be being visibly brainwashed.

Sadly these moments of genius occur a lot less often than the hype would have you believe. The majority of the film is a heavily scripted tale about Borat’s desire to marry Pamela Anderson. Much of this material resorts to cheap throwaway gags and toilet humour. Don’t get me wrong I like toilet humour but when it’s churned out alongside such cleverly funny stuff as the ‘genuine’ moments in the film it really grates, and sadly, utterly disappoints.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It really is the small things.

It’s true. Small things bring the simplest pleasures. No this isn’t me reassuring myself about any inadequacies but rather noting how tiny things really can make you smile.

Case in point; it’s now almost 7 years since I started hosting and writing my pub quiz. January will mark the third anniversary of it being at its current location. Anyway every week I spend quite a few hours writing and researching it, double checking it and then religiously spend every Sunday reading it out to the contestants.

Almost every week, without fail, various teams will put doodles or comments on their answer sheets and yes it may be pathetic but do you know, I find them to be some of the most amusing and joyous things. Simple comments like ‘love the quiz’ or ‘really enjoyed it this week’ mean a lot. The doodles of flowers, people, houses, sometimes insulting doodles of me make me laugh out loud. I love ‘em. I get paid well to do the quiz every week but bizarrely it’s this simple interaction between the regulars that’s worth more and also what, even after 7 years, makes hosting Bar Wars every week such a nice experience.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

When Is Too Soon?

As a nation we are obsessed with starting things early?

I am pleased, however, that retailers do, seem to have shown some refrain with Yuletide stock this year. Back in 2005 I remember being flabbergasted at the sight of Advent Calendars in shops on the August Bank holiday*. This year it’s only in the last week that I have noticed the steady approach of tinsel and glitter spread down the local shopping aisles like the evil red weed in War Of The Worlds.

But one thing is annoying me more than early Xmas stock and that’s early poppies. On October 30th I was amazed by the site of BBC Newsreaders wearing poppies.

Why has it suddenly become the norm to wear them so early? Can’t we celebrate Halloween and Guy Fawkes night before worrying about purchasing our red paper flowers?

Also don’t you think it lessens the impact of Remembrance Day? It is important to remind everyone of how lives have been lost for our freedom but isn’t it better to do that with the impact of one big day on 11/11 than a slow trickle from the end of October onwards? Surely it diminishes the effect to a point where because they’ve been worn every day for a fortnight or so we stop noticing them.

If this is going to be the norm then let’s pause while I put my Red Nose on ready for Red Nose Day… next March, pop my Valentine’s card in the post and stock up on the Jif Lemon juice and pancake batter. After all I’m obviously too late to buy Xmas Cards or ‘Happy 2007’ banners.

*Ok, ok. I’ll admit, yes I have already bought my Advent Calendar (Doctor Who one if you must know) thus pretty much contradicting this whole post. But hey, I work in Leisure. December is my busiest month – I need to get ahead…

Friday, October 27, 2006

Oddest Question Ever?

I’ve worked in customer service/leisure on and off for almost ten years. Still though the customers surprise me. One customer booked a party with me today. It cost a fair bit too and we ask for payment upfront.

“Hmmm, I’m very hesitant about paying first.” She said.

“No worries madam, should you change your mind you’ve got until 48 hours before your event to cancel with a guarantee of a refund.” I reassured her.

“Oh no, it’s not that. It’s just what happens if you go bankrupt in that time?”

I thought she was joking but she had the most serious expression. I suppose bigger companies have gone tits up in less time but her booking was only 3 weeks away. The centre was, as she could see absolutely heaving and we’ve just invested a fair amount of money in our new Adventure Golf Attraction. Without wishing to tempt fate I reassured her that there was very little chance of that happening since we’ve been open for 10 years and this week was one of our busiest weeks on record.

Has to be said though, customers are fricking weird sometimes.

Anyway. Got my best par today on the above mentioned golf. Only 42. The course par is 38 so I’m almost there!

Growing Pains

I have a theory. One I formulated whilst Djing this evening. It was a 15th birthday party and initially I was looking forward to it. Hopefully it would be unpredictable, some different music and fun – 160 people on the guest list too so I was looking forward to a good atmosphere.

I didn’t get it. Actually I’m wrong. There were some lovely people there, the birthday girls especially, and there were 30-40 who pretty much stayed on the dance floor. What I saw in the rest of the people depressed me.

You’d imagine 100+ teens in a room would be chaos and fun. Instead it was shallow and boring. It was like the pages of Heat magazine before my eyes. All looks no content. I genuinely feel this is a worrying bi-product of societies current obsession with celebrity. We had a huge group of 15-17 year olds whom, rather than get dancing and have a laugh all sat there trying to look good. Girls had hot pants up round their arses boys had shirt, tie & waistcoat combos and a few of them with trilbies too. It was as if there were 65 Paris Hilton and 65 Justin Timberlake clones in the room. No personality just shallowness and self-obsessedness.

They blatantly didn’t want to have fun because they were worried that being seen on a dance floor smiling would destroy their ‘image.’

How sad that more and more the fun of youth seems to be being chipped away.

Mind you, I envied the one lad who was getting a lot of attention off a very leggy blonde. Lucky bastard – at 15 the only blonde I seemed to spend any time with was Princess Toadstool.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Harkness & Darkness

So last night was a big night for UK science fiction fans or geeks like me. The launch of Torchwood – the spin off of Doctor Who from the same BBC Wales production team.

Has to be said yes, I enjoyed it but it didn’t pull me in quite like Doctor Who did.

The main problem is the barrier between Torchwood & the viewer. In ‘Rose’, episode one of Doctor Who there’s a positive feeling. The Doctor invites, and wants, Rose (i.e. you the viewer) on his journey – the adventure of a lifetime. There’s a sense of wonder that continues into the amazing visuals of episode 2.

In Torchwood Captain Jack initially doesn’t want Eve on the adventure. So much so he gives her a memory-wiping drug. Hardly an invitation for the viewer. The other problem is it’s a story that’s been done before. Episode one of Torchwood was basically a scaled down and darker version of Men In Black. While episode two covers ground done many times by other SF shows – the alien that needs sex to live.

Torchwood will also draw comparison to Deep Space Nine. The Doctor uses his TARDIS to travel to adventure. Torchwood is routed in Cardiff and as such the adventure has to come to them. Deep Space Nine solved this by having a wonderful array of supporting characters. They were all beautifully constructed and fleshed out. They all had story arcs and over the seven years truly developed and all had personal journeys – even ones with little screen time like Rom and Morn.

So far Torchwood’s supporting cast consists of nothing but regulars who all seem slightly 2D.

It is, however, only episode two and it shows infinitely more promise that the dreary Robin Hood.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Roughly 2 years ago I posted how excited I was about the start of a new series of Spooks. I haven’t written much about it since though feel inclined to now. You see that last post was at the start of season three. Season three turned out to be a little disappointing. Something was lacking and, of course the show had to deal with all 3 main characters departing in the space of 8 episodes. A huge upheaval Kudos: the show’s production company and, no doubt, the audience.

Lesser shows wouldn’t have coped and no doubt would have disappeared off of out screens. Thankfully Spooks is a daring show and although season 3 was wobbly and season 4 not quite pulling all the punches the current series on BBC 1 & 3 is showcasing some of the best British drama I have ever seen.

Adam’s character has matured wonderfully to a point where I prefer him over Tom. Zaf gives excellent support and Ros makes a brilliant new girl in that I’m still unsure of trusting her.

It’s a show that thrives on grey storylines rather than the black and white of some programmes. The heroes actually make some pretty dodgy decisions at times which even questions your morals as a viewer.

It’s good to hear that the BBC has already commissioned a sixth series of Spooks. I just hope that BBC Wales can produce TV to a similar standard as Kudos – otherwise tomorrow nights Torchwood may be a disappointment.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Although I like my gadgets Wi-Fi was something that had largely passed me by. My Nintendo DS changed all this, the though of battling people all over the world was too tantalizing to resist. So I went on the Wi-Fi site and tracked down my local hotspots. Amazingly there were five and one literally was my local.

So to the pub I went – a nice cool glass of cider and a nice quiet spot. Sadly despite searching from a number of locations in the pub I found no hotspot. No worries I finished the pint and travelled to the next listed location – another pub. Again disappointment.

So eventually I headed to Starbucks, Latte in hand and connection in sight… but low and behold it wasn’t compatible. I gave up for a while until one day in the local Wetherspoons. It wasn’t listed on the Nintendo Wi-Fi site but out o boredom I tried – and connected. I was of course right royally thrashed.

Anyway I now have my own Wi-Fi dongle and have been battling the world for about a week. In that short time there’s one thing that bothers me. Although it’s great fun there is a distinct lack of good sports. The minute someone comes fourth, 9 times out of ten they disconnect which rather spoils the game. If I come fourth I don’t care – I’ll stay to the bitter end determined to make up for it in the next round.

Shame really another chip at my faith in humanity still, just you wait ‘til Starfox Command comes out. Oh I will have my revenge…

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why I Hated R.E.

I have no religious beliefs. But that isn’t why I loathed my weekly dose of religious education. You see although I don’t ‘believe’ religion its history does fascinate me. Sadly though my opportunity to learn about religion at school was wasted all because of crap RE teachers. The two main teachers at secondary school were both passionately Christian and many of their lessons were nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to convert us.

The problem is most of the students played on it. At the start of the lesson we’d be told which passage of the bible we’d be learning about. One smart arse would then pipe up, ‘But Mrs P I don’t believe in this rubbish why should I have to learn it?’ This would then lead to an hour of Mrs P getting all self righteous and pretty much accusing us all of being devil worshippers while she told us how mighty Christianity was and how if we didn’t believe we’d all melt or something.

Thinking back though her teaching style was awful. She had an opportunity to teach us about the many faiths of the world perhaps leading to us each finding one that really spoke to us. All religions have a fascinating history. Much of it bloody but interesting none the less. We could have learnt more about the Koran, the Buddhist way of live. Why do the Amish chose to live their lifestyle? What is a Mormon? So much to learn but no instead she was ignorant to any religion but her own – the same ignorance that is causing the troubles in the world today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Robin Good?

So I finally got around to watching the BBC’s new flagship drama. I wasn’t that bothered by the hype as apart from the ultimate version – the Disney version – Robin Hood has never interested me.

20 minutes in and I was despairing. The acting was extremely amateur and the editing very sloppy. Why, in this post Matrix world, do all action shots have to be in slow motion and jump cut to various different angles? So clichéd. Also another thing that bothered me was how clean middle-aged England was. No spots or sores. A lot of men perfectly clean shaven and all the women in immaculate make up.

Also, I have to be blunt but am the only person that thinks the supposedly beautiful Marion is actually, well, a bit ugly?

Anyway I watched the rest and admit when the story gets to Nottingham thing do perk up. Lily Allen’s Dan TM isn’t the great actor the hype had him be but he definitely is the scene-stealer, chewing the scenery like the best pantomime villain.

So though I’m not overly impressed – I’ll give it a 6 – I will watch the next few as it’s infinitely more watchable than the two Geordie tossers on ITV.

There’s something that did hugely impress me on BBC 1 on Saturday. The new idents are fantastic. Love the music and love the visuals and so glad the hideously overly PC dancers are gone!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Top 10 George W. Bush Moments (Letterman)

Great moments from the world leader. *sigh*. It's just a shame that ITV4 doesn't treat the Letterman Show with a bit more respect so that I can actually watch more of this at decent times.

Lately Letterman has been shifted all over the late night schedules. Oh there’s plenty of time for cheap, crap quiz shows throughout the network but the US’s premiere chat show – don’t be daft it’s best screened somewhere between the hours of 11pm and 4am, not in a regular slot of course, you wouldn’t want anyone to get into the habit of watching it would you?

For fucks sake ITV sort it out and put it on at a decent regular time. Failing that hand it to more4. They treat the Daily Show with respect, I’m sure they’d handle Letterman better too.

Monday, October 02, 2006

You Will Die Painfully...

What is it with the media’s current obsession with scaring us?

It all stems from 9/11. For months after that the papers & current affairs TV shows were filled with items on how terrorists would kill us all and destroy our lives. Slowly, as 9/11 faded from the news new scare stories emerged.

We’ll all be killed in 2012 by an asteroid strike apparently. That’s as long as SARS doesn’t kill us all. It didn’t though did it? Just over 813 people died in the 2002/3 SARS outbreak. 3000 people die daily from Malaria – that puts things in perspective.

(SARS has since been declared wiped out by the World Health Organisation – only the second disease ever to be given this status, the first being smallpox.)

Luckily just as the Media was running out of scare stories 7/7 came along and gave terror pundits another month long frenzy.

2006 has seen things get worse.

It all started with the dreaded H5N1 – Bird Flu to you and me. If the papers were anything to go by 2006 would be the year that the population of the UK was decimated. So far it hasn’t been – but of course the new flu season is just dawning. I have no doubt that there will be another feathered flu frenzy in the coming months.

Summer 2006 saw the papers striking fear into potential fliers once more. Apparently there was a threat to all UK/US flights and as such you weren’t even allowed to take a can of coke onboard. (What were the terrorist going to do – pump you with dangerously high sugar levels?!)

Lately it’s the Earth its self that’s going to kill and drown us. Global warming has been everywhere.
I’m all for doing my bit – I’m a keen recycler and I think we should passionately care for the environment though I do have one problem with global warming. No one can 100% say it actually exists. Mother Earth is very powerful, how do we know it’s not just part of a natural cycle – the Earth coming out of an ice age?
Don’t overfill your kettle they say, it uses the most energy in the house to boil it. So what happens when you accidentally put too much water in? Do you pour the excess away wasting precious water or do you save water but boil the kettle wasting precious fossil fuels? Gah such dilemmas!

Give it 10 years I really do think we’ll be a nation of paranoids. The minute someone coughs they’ll be put down for fear of spreading flu. Billions will be poured into anti-asteroid missile programmes and terrorists will live on every street corner – probably next to the paedophiles that live everywhere according to the tabloids.

It seems that fear must sell papers – otherwise all these stories wouldn’t be so sensationalised. It’s just if I want scary stuff I’d rather rent out ‘Saw’ or ‘The Hills Have Eyes’. It’s time the news did what it’s supposed to and just give us the facts without the hyperbole.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ugly Hereford 2 | The Cattle Market

I remember Wednesdays throughout half term when I was at primary school. My mum often used to take me to Hereford Cattle Market. Every Wednesday farmers from the surrounding country bring their livestock for sale. In my youth you were permitted to wander freely amongst the animals patting the piggies and avoiding the patting from the cows.

A few years ago while babysitting I decided to relive my youth and take a colleague’s daughter to see the barnyard animals. What I found was akin to a fortress. Post 2001 foot & mouth fears ensured that all gates were locked and guarded while you couldn’t get within 100m of any livestock.

The cattle market has never quite recovered from foot & mouth. Nowhere near as many animals seem to reside in the pens on Wednesday mornings.

But is it time to move on? Now the cattle market is a scruffy blot on the town centre landscape. Aging, unappealing buildings and peeling paint greet any tourists travelling into the city from the A49 or ring road. Smashed windows, graffiti and cracked concrete not to mention the foreboding air the market takes on at night.

The problem with most Herefordian’s is that they are stuck in the past. They think moving this ugly utility to the outskirts of the town would betray the city’s market town history. If anything I’d say the opposite. By building brand new market facilities we’d be celebrating that history and renewing it while freeing up a considerable amount of land in the centre of Hereford for prime retail, leisure and parking thus ensuring the city has a future.

It’s because of these people living in the 20th century that we’re losing those that should be taking Hereford into the 21st. Most of my friends have moved away from the city labelling it dull, jobless and lacking entertainment. This isn’t something unique to my friends. All most all 20somethings voice desires to head to Cardiff, Cheltenham, Birmingham or London. Away from Hereford.

The market currently symbolises that old school V youth struggle perfectly and it’s what happens to it that ultimately will decide what direction Hereford’s development will take…

Friday, September 08, 2006


It was on this day, 40 years ago, that man first boldly went where many more would eventually go.

On September 8th 1966 Captain Kirk recorded his first ever Captain’s Log, and did battle with his first alien – the salt vampire on planet M-113. Star Trek means a lot to me, the show has been diluted over the years thanks to it’s many sequel series, some great – some weak; but the original is still as glorious today as it was in 1966.

It was the first time SF had really been treated intelligently by television. It embraced topical stories and commented on society of the time by transposing the issues to the future. The Klingons were the Russians, constantly breathing down the Federations throat in an inter-stellar cold war.

Star Trek also embraced multi-culture by showing humans not only getting along with alien races – but more importantly, getting along with each other. It’s a shame that the message Star Trek carries hasn’t been embraced in real life. 40 years later we’re still fighting, still squabbling, if anything worse so than in 1966.

The show was also one of the first television shows to really enter the public consciousness. Transporters, phasers, warp drives, Vulcans, Romulans and communicators have all become part of pop culture lingo in a way that only Doctor Who’s TARDIS and Star Wars’ light sabres can rival.

In 2008 Star Trek will return to cinemas in a brand new adventure featuring a brand new Captain Kirk. I for one can’t wait to return to that original crew and original Enterprise – no A’s, no B’s and definitely no bloody D’s.

So to the Shat, Nimoy, Nichols, Koenig, Takei, Barret, the late and much loved Kelley & Doohan not to mention the great bird himself Gene – happy birthday. Thanks for the adventure let’s hope it’s really just beginning.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ugly Hereford | High Town

On February 7th Herefordshire council announced it would be transforming Hereford High Town with a total face lift. This followed the successful refurbishment of Eign Gate. I’ve written about Eign Gate’s refurbishment before. It genuinely made the area look much, much better and more stylish but the cramped conditions throughout the re-paving 12 months ago led to many small businesses closing down.

I’m still weary of going into town centre. It is an assault course through Hereford now thanks to all the safety fences lining the works and caterpillar trucks weaving through the crowds. Now though they’re at the half-way phase. 50% of the works have been revealed to the public and I can excitingly tell you that the new look Hereford High Town is…

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

… a stinking pile of shit. It looks awful. The new stonework is a terrible light grey colour that just doesn’t seem to gel with the area like the reddish paving of old. In places the old paving remains albeit relayed in order to make the new surface look arty. It doesn’t, it looks scruffy. There are about 7 different styles of paving within 100ft and it looks an utter mish-mashing, clashing mess.

The new paving also seems to be tarnishing very quickly. It’s been in use barely a month and already there are stains a plenty. The worst aspect of the works is that there are no kerbs where a main road runs through the centre of town. So in peak times when this road is in use I’m concerned that the less visually able might well stumble into the path of an oncoming double-decker bus not realising where the pavement ends.

It seems that the designers just haven’t considered Hereford’s image. Why couldn’t a stylish brickwork be used throughout the whole of the town centre like Eign Gate where it really works? Why the half-dozen different styles? Why hasn’t the site of the old Market Hall been marked like the old paving respectfully used to? Also, why, if the scheme was about removing the ‘clutter’ is there now more crap filling up the centre of town in the shape of an unneeded coffee bar and juice bar when Hereford has had 5 new coffee houses opening in the last 2 years?

Hereford councillors you should be ashamed of yourselves. High Town is now ugly. But it’s not the only part of Hereford that’s suffering these days… I will reveal more soon.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


I hate September.

It all started in 1999. I went to university where I had some of the best times of my life.

It’s the first three months that really stick in my memory. A real whirlwind of madness, new friends, fun, laughter – lots of laughter, late nights and booze.

It’s because of this that I get quite upset this time of year. In fact I get positively jealous of all the freshers starting Uni and about to have some of the best experiences ever.

Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t swap what I have now for the world but the chance to relive those three months would be awesome. It would however have to be those exact three months. I get so nostalgic thinking back to that time.

The Halls – or ‘Villa’ as it was known, the kitchen, everything being yellow, Freshers ball, the costume hunting for the 70s night. Stupidly long bus rides, playing cricket with mugs, remote control cars, Halloween 1999, Blair Witch, moving the contents of the kitchen – including the fridges into various people’s rooms – and their rooms into the kitchen. There was the rugby initiation ritual that left one friend so wrecked we mounted an all night vigil to ensure he stayed alive. We had the banned union jack and the thieving of that flag by the villa opposite. I guess you had to be there but every day really did create memories.

The people were most important though.

Mark, Amy, Anna, Brizzle, Matt, Ruth, Sarah ‘Face’, Nicki, Will, Sarah 2, Cashy, Lise, Ed, Shandyboy, Cath, Tim & Lee

But herein lies one reason why I get mildly down. We never said goodbye properly.

Why? Because as the first term ended I did something very stupid. I hurt one of those people above. Not physically, just verbally – which was probably more painful. I was young & misguided and though after Xmas the group still socialised it was never quite the same. What comes around goes around and a year later a different one of the above hurt me.

Things changed and mid 2nd year I began hanging round with a completely different set of people:

Ian, Susie, Taffy, Rob, Justine, Ash, Chris, Matt, Cat, Rachel, Ed, Andy, Mars, Cath, Sarah M, Sarah 2 & Will.

You were all amazing and once again created many, many happy memories. The Bristol march, stealing a table from Bristol with Suzie, The Price Is Right, Bar Wars, all the Djing and Ents stuff, getting pissed and going one-on-one in the Sports Bar London, The Xmas Balls, the frog & fiddle nights, Djing at Cheltenham Film Studios, power cuts, late night shopping, the donut machine, pizza hut @ Xmas, the Frog – final night year 2 (the best night out ever!)

But somehow none of these are as vivid as those first three months.

So to the person I hurt, if you ever miraculously come across this blog, you know who you are, I’m truly sorry. To the person who hurt me, Bar Wars was never the same again. It’s a shame – it could have been so much more, as Bar Wars 2 is proving, but you’re forgiven say hi sometime.

To all you lucky gits about to start university, I’m so, so envious. Treasure it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Smoke Without Fire?

I doubt many of you know this but Tom & Jerry is my favourite cartoon. I absolutely love it and have all the 'shorts' on DVD. In my book it even outclasses the Simpsons (though not by much!).
For some years they've been subject to brutal editing and censorship that has largely gone unnoticed by the masses. Basically much of it revolved around 'Mammy Two Shoes', Tom's owner. In the 40s classics she was depicted as black and slightly lacking in the brain department. (Her speech was often incorrect and her spelling totally wrong etc.) In the 60s execs realised this could be offensive and had Chuck Jones re-animate many of her appearances so that she looked white and even her speech was re-dubbed & re-edited.

Also edited out were any occasion that something exploded in Tom or Jerry's faces leaving them 'blacked up' like a minstrel.

Now they're going one further and having any instance where smoking is 'glamourised' within a T&J cartoon edited out.

While I can sympathise with the reasons behind these cuts I do lament them. T&J are legendry. Especially the early Fred Quimby stuff. Most viewers have the intelligence to realise what is considered racist or un-PC now was, at the time, acceptable. If you’re viewing them in context as period animation there's nothing unacceptable whatsoever. Where does it end? Will health & safety freaks want every time Tom's whacked over the head with a frying pan edited out?

The more I think about it the more dumb this is. My favourite ever film is Ghostbusters. It features prominent smoking and I watched it hundreds of times as a kid. Same goes for Thunderbirds which often shows Lady P smoking. I have only ever had one puff of a cigarette and that was only to wind someone up.

Just shows how influential smoking in films & TV is…

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


When I was young I often used to go on cycle rides with my best mate D. They were great days out away from Mama & Papa Smeg. Off we’d ride into the countryside and discover many exciting places and hidey-holes; the forgotten Hereford to Gloucester canal, old barns, disused railway sidings and even an overgrown adventure playground.

There was one house which we never had the guts to explore, a true ‘haunted house’ if I ever saw one. Disused, with no power. It stood greying and fading at the end of a gloomy tree enclosed lane. Moth-eaten curtains would flutter out of the smashed windows and strange noises would be heard from the trees surrounding it.

Every week we’d pull up on our bikes daring each other to inch that little bit closer. A summer or two went by until we’d finally summoned up the courage to reach the front door. It was truly creepy. Through the window we could glimpse old décor – possibly not touched since the 20s. We felt it could have been an old farmhouse from when the whole area was farmland.

We’d been far too brave that week so cycled home to safety watching Knightmare and Fun House.

The next week was a different story, we were nearing the end of the summer holidays and our bike rides would soon be postponed to bad weather and schoolwork. We’d reached the front door but could we gather the courage to step inside?

I’ll always remember that day as long as I live. Upon arriving at the house the air seemed to go colder. I was nervous, feeling this was a truly bad idea but ‘D’ egged me on. We pulled the torch out of my rucksack (it was a birthday present back in March, I was secretly quite excited to use it for something other than reading The Beano under the bedclothes at night) and gripped the handle of the main door.

It swung open with a creak straight out of a Hollywood B-movie. We both stepped inside and our senses were instantly overpowered with that musty mouldy smell of old, damp buildings. The wallpaper was peeling away and many of the fixtures were smashed or broken. As we took more steps inwards the daylight faded behind the heavy living room curtains. We flashed the torch around noting an old fireplace, some bedding and modern magazines strewn around the floor. We were too young and innocent to think of druggies or squatters using the house so wondered if it was perhaps a tramp bedding down at night.

That was when we heard a clunking from deeper in the house – movement! Shining the torch over to D I could see he was nervous but he nodded that we should investigate. As we came out of the living room we noticed a door to the left that I swear wasn’t there before. Unlike the other, grander doors in the house it had a more temporary feel to it. It also had a bolt at the top.

“Probably to keep us out” D laughed.
“Or to keep something in?” I replied. I’d meant it as a joke but realising what I said scared my self. What if there was something locked inside? Should we open it?

To cut a story short we did and were confronted with rickety wooden steps down into darkness. Shining the torch into the gloom I could see the cold stone floor of a cellar. A rat, startled by the light scampered off into the dark. I took a few steps downwards and jumped as I heard that clunking again. I couldn’t pin where it was coming from but didn’t want to seem a wuss in front of D.

The cellar was stark, cold, damp. We could see our breath glistening in the torchlight which was starting to flicker – the battery running down. As we reached the back wall of the cellar we were rather unnerved to find two sets of rusty chains drilled into the wall.

“What the hell are those for?” I mumbled as the cellar door slammed shut. We froze. Too scared to turnaround for the fear of what we might discover. There was movement again, and that ominous feeling of someone in the room with us. Indeed now there was shuffling, barely audible over the thumping of my heart – we were way out of our depth.

My torch flickered again, as it did so I noticed another light source from above – it was very feint but it was daylight. As the shuffling grew closer I felt my temporary paralysis ease. Nudging D I inched closer to the light source. As my eyes grew more accustomed to the darkness I could make out a hatch – a hatch that led to freedom.

“Go!” I stammered.

D being more athletic than me leaped up. He made contact with the rotting wood of the hatch and somehow managed to push up and out of it. I saw his legs slide up into freedom and daylight. I reached forward and began to pull myself up, the fresh external air clearing my senses fro the dank below. Just as I thought I would make it something gripped my leg tight. Looking back I could see a hand strong, but pale. It had a vice like grip. Peering into the gloom I could make out a pair of eyes glistening. They were human, but filled with evil intent. I screamed out to D for help put the man with the demon eyes began tugging hard, pulling my leg – just like I’ve been pulling yours for the last five minutes….

Monday, August 21, 2006

Worth The Weight?

I apologise but from today you be charged to read this blog depending on the size of your screen resolution. I will be emailing a handy size guide to all readers to let you know the new charges.

I’m not doing for any real reason other than to rip you off and, perhaps, cash in on the growth of Ebay. If you’d like to complain please contact Royal Mail.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Nikki's Interview BB7 Final

While BB 7 was the last Big Brother I'll watch (I really feel it Jumped The Shark this year - too much producer interferrence...) the whole series was worth it just to see this clip.
Finally the dumb self obsessed bint got her just desserts. Hopefully we'll never hear from her again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cornwall | The Bridge On Wool

Our annual visits to Cornwall are centred around one town. Wadebridge. Wadbridge is the sort of town that makes my hometown of Hereford look like a sprawling metropolis. I have to be honest I could never live in Wadebridge, I’d get bored far too easily. Also, one problem I have with the town is that it’s an expensive place. Unlike most towns Wadebridge has yet to fall victim to High Street Cloning. Apart from it’s large Co-op & Lidl all of the shops are independent. Also there’s only one of each. One electronics shop, one bookshop (if you don’t cant the second hand bookshops) etc. While it means that as a whole the town has a lot of charm it also means there is no competition and thus the retailers don’t need to worry about attracting customers with discounts. Books are expensive, as are DVDs, clothes and electronics. Perhaps there’s something to be said for towns succumbing to the likes of Woolworths, WH Smith, Game and Starbucks.

Spending a week in Wadebridge is nice. The cinema is fantastic – making Hereford’s look pathetic. The sound quality is far superior there are actually two screens (despite a local population being a quarter of the size) and the seats are extremely comfy.

Wadebridge is also famous for its two bridges.

A footbridge called ‘Challenge Bridge’ links the Egloshayle playing fields to the Jubilee fields on the other side of the river. The bridge was constructed by Anneka Rice on "Challenge Anneka". The scary thing is upon cycling past this bridge I could clearly remember the show. Instant childhood memories and a day spent whistling the Challenge Anneka theme.

On a more serious note is the original bridge – “The Bridge On Wool

No one is actually sure if this means that the bridge is actually physically built on sacks of wool as a foundation. What is much more likely is that the bridge was built on the profits of the wool trade. However when the bridge was extended in 1963 some wool was found in one of the core samples taken. The bridge was to become a strategic position in the English Civil War as in 1646 Oliver Cromwell himself came with 500 Dragoons and 1000 horsemen to take the bridge.

I’d recommend a day or two in the town, just wear something florecent as we noticed that the locals do seem to have a bizzare habit of walking into you, or just generally ignoring you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cornwall | Shifting Sands

It’s weird how we humans sometimes just don’t notice things. I’ve now been visiting the Camel Estuary area of Cornwall for the last three years – it’s been the annual holiday destination of my girlfriend since she was young.

Part of the holiday routine is for my girlfriend’s parents to play golf almost daily on the St Enodoc Golf course. Although I have little interest in golf I do admire the stunning scenery in which the course is set. This year as we walked towards the 10th tee I noticed something I have missed on the previous two years visits. There’s a church slap bang in the middle of the course.

OK, that’s not amazing really – but it’s what the ‘mum-in-law’ said that in intrigued me.

“Oh yes, that’s St Enodoc church. It used to buried under the sand.”

What?! Was this part of North Cornwall once ruled by the pharaohs?

Anyway it turns out that in the 18th and 19th century the church fell into disrepair and became almost buried in the sand dunes surrounding it. At that time services were performed once a year only, and the clergyman had to gain entrance through a skylight, made especially for that task.

The building was renovated in 1853 - 1864 The vicar, the Rev. Hart Smith was responsible for restoring the chapel. Prior to restoration, the sands were up to the eastern gable, the building was wet, the pews were covered in mould and worm eaten, bats lived in the belfry.

St Enodoc Church has another claim to fame. It is where John Betjeman, the former poet laureate is buried. Betjeman died in Trebetherick on 19 May, 1984.

So there you go, a small church but a lot of history.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Saviour Of Fistral Beach?

So I’m back from Cornwall. I have lots to write about. Quaint harbour towns, scruffy surfing towns, bridges made from wool and my 2nd favourite UK attraction. My first post vacation blog however, was going to be a rant. You see on Saturday I made the 20 mile trip to Fistral Beach, Newquay to see one of my favourite icons.

Chris Moyles has been a part of my regular day since he first took on the Radio 1 afternoon show in 1998. As a keen hospital radio DJ I admire his knowledge of the industry and the way he broadcasts. As I rarely miss a show I was immensely chuffed to learn he’d be live in Newquay when I was so close. I wasn’t naïve, I knew I wouldn’t get to personally meet him but I had visions of at least being able to see him and hear him. I got neither. The live broadcast was done from a private restaurant – Fistral Blu. (Very nice Noodles in there!) While punters had accesses to downstairs only VIPs could get past the heavies on the stairs to where Moyles was actually broadcasting from.

We got right up close to the building, we could even see the mixing desk and a blurry shadow of Moyles through the window but unless you had a Walkman you couldn’t hear the show. So much for ‘joining Moyles live on the beach’ the week-long advertising blitz had promised.

We left barely 15 mins into the show when we realised that we’d been conned. Today though, Aled Jones one of the producers at Radio 1 (whom we did see!) released this statement.

I've started to see some of the comments coming in talking about the way the
show was done on Saturday. To anyone who wasn't there, we did the show (as
planned) inside a restaurant which meant the beach weren't able to hear us and
we've had some comments from the people waiting outside that they were
disappointed that they couldn't hear the show. If you were there on Saturday and
wanted to hear the show - I'd like to apologise on behalf of the show. This is
what happened. Like you, we assumed we would be able to put some speakers
outside the restaurant so that if you were on the beach you'd hear the show.
When we got there the organisers asked us not to do this saying it would
conflict with the tannoy system they were using as a way of communicating with
the surfers taking part in the competition. We had SUCH a good time in Newquay
that we would love to go back some day. If we do, we'll definitely co-ordinate
things better with the organisers so that the beach will be able to hear the
show next time.

It makes a refreshing change to have an open apology. Obviously there were a lot of disappointed fans. Still it was worth it to see some great surfboarding (even though the waves were tiny) and to be able to picture the scene Moyles sets when I finally got to hear the show…

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Poor Service?

I think half the problem with the customer service industry is that for the last few decades the media has obsessively ingrained into the national psyche the mantra that ‘the customer is always right’. Quite simply they aren’t.

95% of customers are wonderful people that are a pleasure to serve but at least once a shift you will come across an absolute pig of a customer who just moans needlessly. I hate stereotypes but they usually fall into two types; the self-important businessman or the middle aged moany woman.

They make extremely unreasonable demands. They try and get things out of you that are totally against company policy and no matter how politely you tell them you are unable to cater for those needs they’ll moan and moan. The self-important businessman is the worst because they think that by flashing the cash they can get anything they want.

I always remember a time our ice-making machine to broke down. One gentleman who’d booked a conference with us arrived literally as we discovered the problem went into an absolutely over the top rant when we served him a glass of water.

“Where’s my ice?” He shouted

“As we explained sir there is a fault with the ice machine but don’t worry we have sent someone out to get supplies of ice before the rest of your group arrives.” I told him.

He didn’t listen.

“What this an absolute disgrace, call your selves hospitality when I can’t get ice in my water!” He shouted back red in the face. He demanded to see the manager and get some money of his booking.

Sadly these sort of ignorant customers are on the increase. Literally 20 minutes later we had enough ice to last a fortnight all it takes is a little patience.

The other classic is people who don’t like foodstuffs and complain when their burger or pizza arrives with mushrooms or tomatoes they hate. Any normal person would simply take the foodstuff off they dislike and eat the rest. After all really, if you dislike something it’s hardly the restaurant’s fault. The amount of people that moan though is shocking.

So while I agree that yes, poor customer service is inexcusable, it would be nice if perhaps the nation paused for a moment and considered the service we workers in the industry sometimes get from our customers – it’s just as bad.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Not Enough Hours In The Day?

“So you work in leisure? What sort of hours do you do?”

“Some 9-5s but a lot of the time I start at 5pm and work through until late.”

“Ohhh, that must be terrible.” Replies ignorant stranger.

The thing is they just don’t know. There is an amazing secret about working late shifts that the many stuck in the rat race don’t know about…

I hate 9 til 5. I find it a wrench to get up for 8am. To be cognitive and alert by 9am. It’s just not right. By 5pm I’m shattered and then usually spend the evening dozing – a complete waste of the day because I’m powerless to do anything by the time I get home.

When I’m working at 5pm however there is this amazing feeling of waking up about 9 or 10ish and knowing, that if I fancy it, I don’t have to get up. Perhaps in our current heat wave this is a no-no but in mid-winter how great is it to be able to stay in bed until 3pm!

Failing that I have all day to do things. To potter around. Get things done around the house or perhaps go into town – and because everyone else is at work town is really quiet. I can whizz in and out of town and do loads of things in a matter of minutes rather than hours. No pushing or shoving. Then I can just stroll into work at 5pm nice and awake without that horrible ‘early morning head.’

So there you go 9-5’s I’ve shared the secret. Fancy a new job?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bloody Hell

My girlfriend is a generous soul in many ways, one of which is that she gives pints of her blood to complete strangers. No, she’s not a member of a weird vampire sect, (though that would be cool!) she’s a blood donor. She regularly goes through the rigmarole of feeling all feint and tired for a few hours for the good of total unknowns and a free cup of tea.

I don’t know why but I’ve never done it. It just unsettles me somewhat. This is weird because needles and injections don’t bother me so giving blood shouldn’t.

Anyway; lately, Miss Smeg has been somewhat busy. This means she’s missed out on a few appointments. The Blood Service people started sending her ‘sorry to miss you’ type letters which has today culminated in a blunt one entitled ‘Time’s Up’.

It details a bloke whose lost three limbs in an accident and owes his life to blood donors. It’s worded as politely as possible but read between the lines and what it’s basically is saying is:

“You’re a selfish gimp you are, because you’ve recently stopped giving blood people are dying and it’s your fault.”

Isn’t that totally the wrong way to go about it? Why scare someone into doing something that’s meant to be an incredible act of generosity? They should be kissing donors butts, making them feel special praising them, thanking them for such a selfless act.

Personally if you want to convince me to donate my time food is always a good barging tool. ‘Give us a pint of blood and there’s a packet of crisps in it for you…’ or perhaps a badge, free t-shirt? Ooh and lolly pops – lolly pops are always good.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Something just happened to me which has only ever happened to me once before. I also thought that it would never happen again. I got ID’d. Not in a pub either – but in a supermarket. The offending items were 2 bottles of Rosé for consummation with my evening meal.

It first I was baffled when she asked for my ID. I thought she was joking.


“Have you got any I.D? You know driving license or passport.”

“I’m 26…” I replied bluntly.

“Yes but I’m just doing my job, I can ask anyone.”

Thing is there is ‘just doing your job’ and then there’s taking the piss. The ultimate irony, as I explained, is that I’m a manager… at a bar.

“So you’ve no ID?” she asked once again with a sceptical look. I hadn’t of course – considering I haven’t’ needed to carry any for 5 years.

Still I got immense satisfaction from telling the dozy old cow at Morrison’s Hereford where to shove the rest of the shopping. It’s a shame I won’t be shopping there again because I’d just discovered a pickled onion flavour cheese in their market range.

Part of me should be flattered that she thought I might be under 18 but I know what I look like – there’s no way I look that young. She’s was just a dumb old jobs worth with no grip on reality.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Did I Believe A Man Could Fly?

So last night I saw Superman. What’s the beef?

Spoilers **************************************************

First 45 minutes really are A grade – they’re the film we’ve been longing to see. The cast fit the bill perfectly. Everything seems to work. Brian & Brandon nail it, the pacing and direction perfect. All this escalates into the plane crash set piece which left me absolutely buzzing. Some of the best 45 minutes of cinema.

However it then begins to fall apart.

The last half hour is utter dross. I personally left the cinema extremely disappointed – a stark contrast to the sheer joy of the first 45 minutes.

The main problem is there is no threat. Whoah, hold up Smeg I hear you cry! Did you not see Lex Luthors exposition dump that Dumbledore would be proud of? Course I did. In a scene ripped straight from the ‘Bashir Bond’ DS9 episode (almost the same map of the world graphics too!) Luthor explained he’s going to create a new land mass – flooding much of America (and the world) thus leading to many riches because everyone will want to live on his new land mass.

Great. A pretty big plot. Problem is once the chain of events are set in motion it never seems that big.

Yes Metropolis gets hit by an earthquake but where’s the international flooding? Where’s the reaction, the terror as the sea level rises? There’s none. So the scale of the devastation actually appears small thus Luthor’s plan never feels as threatening as he makes out.

Also the big problem is one that’s always going to be Superman’s downfall. To get engrossed into the story you have to suspend a huge amount of disbelief.

The 00s have seen some stonking superhero films. Batman Begins & Spiderman 1&2 are comic book masterpieces. I would also much rather rewatch these than Superman. Why? Simply because the creators go to so much length to ground them in reality. Batman especially has you feeling that this just could actually happen. You feel the emotion of the heroes and really get into their psyche.

Sadly Superman lacks this simply because he is so infallible. The scene with the Jet is great and you can just about stretch your imagination to believe that a super powered alien could stop one. Lift a whole continent on the other hand? It’s pushing it. You just can’t relate to him.

I’m also left wondering why he doesn’t seem that bothered by his crystals at the end of the film? We never actually see him find them!

Oh and then there’s the boy. That’s the killer twist that’s going to divide fandom. All I wonder is how the hell did Supes not break Lois back and shatter her pelvis? ;)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Typical Quarter Final then...

Can't stand football.

My neighbour's Portugese.

I have Portugal in the office sweepstakes.

Yesterday at 6.45pm I was a happy man. Heh heh heh.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

TC5 - Dill gets PUNK'D!!!

Ohhh how I laughed when I saw this. As a manager of a bowling alley this is an all too common occurance - the legendary 'Sweep Strike.' If only I could deal with it in the same way as this manager!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Strange Tales

A while back on the blog I told you I was just starting to read Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.’ Well I finally finished the book. (Took ages to read the first half but thanks to the dullness of the World Cup have managed 500 pages in four days – excellent!)

Have to say the main thought when I put the book down was simply ‘and!?’. On the SFX Forums somebody posted that it’s a long book about nothing. I have to agree. When it ends you do have that feeling but then when you sit and think about it a lot does actually happen.

The main problem is the blurb on the back of the book – it sets you up for this great battle between two magicians when in fact nothing of the sort happens – they just have a mild disagreement about 600 pages in.

I love Clarke’s imagination when it comes to the different magic we are ‘shewn’ throughout the book however I do find the characters pretty boring. I agree that the book could do with having 200 or so pages chopped out of it but then again would be hard pressed to say where.

Strange’s adventures in Spain, for me were some of the most enjoyable parts of the novel however they did nothing to further the story along other than boost Strange’s ego.

Also the resolution is disappointing. Again I was imagining a great battle and when Strange & Norrell attempt to summon the Raven King really though the pay off was coming. Instead it all seems to be over in one paragraph as Stephen Black and the gentleman with Thistledown hair have a bit of a falling out.

It’s just a strange book (no pun intended) in that while I enjoyed reading it I felt dissatisfied with it. I didn’t get enveloped into the world of English Magic but felt distanced at all times. Hard to describe really. I doubt I would read any more of Clarke’s writing by choice and doubt I’d recommend it to anyone. She shows plenty of talent but the story and its world just didn’t leap into my mind like some novels do.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Month Of Hell

Its finally here. The month were the nation becomes obsessed with football. I hate it.
Two of my best mates like this sport. Normally I love their company as they are both into the SF Genre like me and our conversations often spiral into discussions of Bond, Lost and Doctor Who. For the next month I will feel like an outcast as team tactics and results are discussed. Everywhere you look overweight men in England shirts walk the streets while cars are made to look distinctly shit with naff flags flying from all windows.

I’ve stocked up on DVDS and I’m planning to get my aerial fixed so I can finally get Freeview - and thus TV that lacks any hint of ball control - I wont be subscribing to ‘Channel X’ obviously.

Even then you’re still not safe. Because I’m male I’m automatically presumed to be a football fan. I’ll go into pubs or at work a complete stranger will ask ‘what did you think if the match?’ When I tell them I don’t follow the sport I’m looked at as if I’m a leper.

Why cant there be an alternative world cup for non football fans? International tea making or hot-dog eating. I’d watch that. There was a glimmer of hope a few years back when Robot Wars was popular - I really got into that and had visions of it becoming a popular multinational ‘sport’. Sadly poor treatment from BBC and Five soon scuppered that.

So excuse me if I’m tetchy from now until July 9th its simply because I’m being forced to care about something in which I have absolutely no interest.

Ill be in the garden if you need me...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Want To Test Your Nerve?

While I was uni I often used to shop in Iceland and Tecos. Both stores were a good ten to 15 minutes walk from my house. My flat mate and I accidentally discovered a great game to play - a game Id forgotten about until the other day. Basically you stuff your shopping bag with as much stuff as possible. So instead of sensibly spreading your load over three bags cram it into two.

This might seem daft. It is. But that’s where the fun starts. Thanks to the chain stores ever chasing profits the carrier bags are thinner and thinner thus after a few minutes the bags start to tear.

Its a real game of nerves then to get home without your shopping spilling over the pavement. To increase the tension, slip an expensive bottle of wine or sprits into your shopping too. Two years of this game and to be honest were still not sure of the best tactic. I prefer slow and steady and minimum tearing. My opponents have tried the mad dash but this seems to encourage the bag to burst.

Any way last week halfway home - my new house is closer to the shops - the bag started to go. Cue a sweaty brow and slightly nervous walk. While shopping bag buckaroo was funny at uni losing a bottle of gin and a load of apples these days is damn annoying.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Wedding Worries

Last weekend was one of my first DJing gigs in ages. I was really, really nervous. Not from lack of recent practice but because for the first time I was Djing a friends wedding. Only once have I ever really not had a good DJing gig - not bad for 7 years - but I couldn’t get it out of my mind what would happen if I screwed up on Sat. The main problem, I guess, is that there was no anonymity - I couldn’t leave the gig safe in the knowledge i will never see the bride or groom again. Thankfully the gig was great as was the whole weekend. The bride looked gorgeous and the groom delivered possibly the best speech I have ever heard at a wedding. It was also a time to catch up with old friends and I discovered I’m crap at crazy golf while Miss Smeg was suspiciously good.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Me Man, Ug.

Barbecues are a weird thing. Show most men a modern fan-assisted oven and there’s little interest. However give him a metal bowl, firelighters and charcoal and his primitives urges come rushing forward. Women are banned from within 6 foot of the fire while he spends ten minutes poking it with that weird long metal rod with a spiky, pointy bit on that no one actually knows what its for.

Last night was my first BBQ. Obviously I have been to dozens but I have never been master of the fire myself. I tried to look all manly as I loaded the charcoal. Of course the fact that the BBQ its self was bright pink didn’t hinder my Neanderthal grunting.

Initially it was failure. No fire but loads of smoke. I was concerned about the poor neighbours washing, then slightly concerned about my lack of ability to breathe. Thankfully a friend came to the rescue. He’d done this before and expertly rearranged the coals around the firelighters to produce a roasting furnace.

Gladly things went very well. I was actually slightly disappointed in that the food came out perfectly. The meat was succulent and juicy and completely lacked the black burnt to a crisp covering you should have at such events.

So a good night followed in the company of all my best friends, beer and laughter. We also now have enough burgers and chicken to stock a small McDonalds for two weeks but we can consider our house officially warmed... only ten months late.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Doctor's Decline?

Hate to be so negative about what has become one of my favourite TV shows but immediately after watching Dr Who this week I was worried. Worried that it’s fast becoming stale and de-evolving into ‘Dr-using-villain’s-technology-to-triumph-show-of-the-week’. Last week’s finale & this weeks were just too similar. Both had transmitters, both had heights. Last week the Doctor used a Samsung and convenient docking station this week he used scratch-built gadgetry and a convenient transmitter.

When thinking about it wasn’t that sort of his plan in ‘The Parting of Ways’ too? Then in ‘New Earth’ it was a similar resolution and even ‘Tooth & Claw’ too. It’s all getting a bit samey. Even the Sycorax are at the ‘transmitting’ game with their blood control.

Then there’s the Sonic Screwdriver..A fascinating gadget and could be explored wonderfully but I fear it’s being used lazily and far too much.

The concept of The Idiot’s Lantern was genius. The first 10 minutes had me completely intrigued and I loved the faceless victims – classic Who and genuinely chilling for the kids.

The plus points were, Maureen Lipman and I felt Parker from Thunderbirds was great as Magpie. The dad was poor - he was over acting like he was fresh out of drama school.

The viewers were definitely being talked down to in this episode. ‘Oh Doctor why are there so many aerials… etc’ That line was so forced. While I believe they are developing Rose’s character well this sudden leap in observation and knowledge just didn’t seem right.

Also if The Wire was devouring its prey how come they were stored in Magpie's TVs?

This episode could have been so, so good but it’s fuzzy logic and now clichéd ending means it got a poor reception from me…

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Eye Eye

Big Brother 6. I hated it. Kemal & Makosi irritated me so much I wanted to grap something pointy and shove it into the television. Instead I chose the far cheaper option of turning it off. For the first time since Big Bro began I ignored it.

I have decided to give Big Brother a second chance with BB7. With the World Cup fast approaching I needed something to keep me sane and distract me from my hatred of football. So far I’m pleased to say I’m enjoying BB. Ok, ok Shahbaz was extremely irritating but in a different way to the demon spawn of last year. He was watchable. You wanted to gasp in amazement at what he did next. I’ll admit part of me is upset he’s gone.

There’s no mourning of Dawn or Bonnaaaaah though. They contributed nothing to the house and it seems the public have finally learnt to vote out the boring ones.

There is, however, a cloud on the horizon. Big Brother is planning to introduce new housemates on Monday night. Internet scuttlebutt insists these two entities are going to be past housemates. While part of me would love to see Jade or Jon Tickle given a second run part of me fears it’ll be the two I detested last year. Please let’s have someone new and interesting otherwise the off switch may just have to be hit once more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dear Local MP

Next time you visit a bar can you please behave like a civil human being. You are, believe it or not, a mere mortal just like me, the staff and your constituents.

Next time you visit a bar to find the kitchen closed why don’t you politely inquire as to why the kitchen is closed rather than make a show in front of your cronies demanding that it is ‘outrageous and preposterous.’ Don’t grill the staff and speaking to them arrogantly demanding to know why your tubby belly can’t be filled further. They we’re actually doing a fine job considering they were a man down on a very busy shift.

Also once again I remind you that when you are in a bar, as far as I’m concerned you are no more important than any other customer so don’t make such a show of huffing and puffing when staff ignore you to serve another customer who was actually at the bar first.

Perhaps if your performance record was more impressive I’d be keener to suck up to you hissy-fits in future however as all you seem to care about is getting your blotchy red face in the local paper every week or drinking Gilbies Hereford dry then as far as I’m concerned you are nobody.

Thanks for providing me some entertainment today. I never thought someone so average could be that far up their own arse. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Good luck Hereford United!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Newsagent Nerves.

I slowly shuffled up to the newsagents counter. My nerves peaked as I stepped closer and saw it was an attractive young girl serving. I’d kind of hoped it would be a man – at least he’d better understand my need for the material I was about to purchase. The fact I could see it’s garish cover nestling on the shelf behind her only made this harder.

I felt a bead of sweat on my brow and my throat tighten as I stood up to the counter. A young mum and her son walked past. I paused for an instant, not wanting to embarrass myself as I purchased this ‘dirty’ material.

“Hi.” I stammered, trying to avoid eye contact. “Can I take this please?” I placed the respectable magazine on the counter. By buying that as well I hoped it would distract her from my next purchase. “Oh and can I take a packet of Doctor Who stickers please…. Um, actually, make it five packets.”

There. I did it. She smiled sweetly and dealt out the small packets and I quickly hustled out of the shop. I hoped she thought I’d be buying them for a son or nephew then I realised that by also purchasing ‘Battlestar Galactica Magazine’ in the same transaction that I was obviously a geeky science fiction fan.

Ok, ok. I’m 26 years old and I’m collecting Doctor Who stickers. It’s tragic isn’t it? But I confess there was still that twinge of excitement when I ripped open the packet and found I had a foil sticker – not any foil either. It was one of a Dalek! There was the bitter sting of disappointment when I found I had quite a number of swaps too.

It’s been well over a decade since I last collected stickers. I think the last time I did this was for Star Wars Tazos – but at least you had to buy crisps for those – it wasn’t painfully obvious I was actually collecting them. I never intended to collect the Doctor Who album, it’s the Radio Times’ fault. They gave away a book for free.

Tomorrow I will go through it all again. The nerves as I go into the newsagents. I have a plan though. Tomorrow I will buy a copy of The Times too – she’ll never know the stickers are for me then.

Well. I hope not.

PS – Don’t suppose you’ve got number 143 have you?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Watching The World Go By

When I was a child someone told me something that was quite prolific. They told me that if you just sit in one public space for a while sooner or later someone you know will walk past.

That person was Dr Ray Stantz in an episode of The Real Ghostbusters. Possibly not a source noted for such great observations on life but that quote has stuck with me ever since.

It is amazing though that out of 6 billion possible people in the world whenever you go on holiday, no matter how far flung the destination you always seem to bump into somebody you know.

Yesterday I was in Cheltenham. I spent three years of my life there whilst at uni and while sipping at a Starbucks I tested out Dr Stantz’s theory.

The odds were against me from the start, Cheltenham isn’t my hometown. Most of the people I befriended whilst there were also from different locations and have all moved on. Cheltenham is bigger than Hereford so with more people it’s less likely I’d know random strangers.

Whilst sitting by the fountain outside Starbucks in the gorgeous sunshine I was quite pleased to discover Stantz was correct.

First up was a girl I’d worked with in Hereford a few years back – before uni. The odds of that were immense because she was also on a day trip to Cheltenham.

Second up was the University president when I was there. He sauntered past on the far side of the street. Bringing back happy memories of drunken adventures with him in London.

Third was a disabled girl who was always in Park Bar at Cheltenham.

Finally one of the children I had taught whilst doing teacher training in Chelt skipped past though she did look considerably more grown up only highlighting that its been some time since university.

Still it was good to know that Dr Stantz hadn’t let me down.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm about to leave for my first ever 'Stag Weekend'. The groom is putting on a BBQ tonight, paintball and booze tomorrow.

It's going to messy.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they, themselves, failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student - but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Supermen Return

2006 sees the return of the two greatest ever superheroes to the big screen. In July America’s favourite son in the form of Superman while November welcomes James Bond – the UK’s ‘superhero’ back into cinemas.

I can’t wait.

For a while superhero films languished as absurd over the top films. Laughed at by films fans and mourned by comic book fans. Tim Burton’s Batman of the late 80s/early 90s was a step in the right direction but it was still over shadowed by the camp 60s TV show. Joel Schumaker of course took it completely down the wrong path.

Thankfully in 2002 Spiderman came to the screen and showed the world how comic book movies should be done. Gone were the day-glo colours and 2D characters this was a superhero film you could actually believe in. Xmen too have managed to ground themselves despite being slightly more fantastical.

Last year came possibly my favourite film of recent years. Batman Begins. A truly awesome film which rightly devoted much of its screen time to character building rather than ridiculous super villain plots. We finally saw the Dark Knight as he should always have been portrayed. A hero who is actually just as troubled as the villains thanks to his struggle with duel identity and the murder of his parents.

Superman lacks the psychological struggle of Batman & Spiderman which is why I’m slightly concerned that it won’t have much more to say than the excellent 1979 original. The trailer looks superb but somehow I feel it’ll be a return to superbattles and superficial adventures that Batman & Spiderman successfully avoid. I’m hoping Brian Singer manages to add the emotional element that modern movie audiences demand. The same goes for Casino Royale in November. Die Another Die was awful. Far too over the top with no grounding in reality. Anybody can do a no brains action film – it’s the intelligence and cunning that set used to set Bond far apart from the others. Die Another Day was nothing more than bums-on-seats popcorn fodder. Please let Casino Royale show some depth to Bond. Ditch his reliance on gadgets and luck and bring back the wit and intelligence of the Connery era.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Technological Slowdown?

We live in age of gadgetry. iPods, Digital Cameras, PDAs, flash storage and more. While this is impressive it’s all about miniaturisation and refinement of already existing technology. What’s happened to the progress of science? Think about it – when was the last truly earth shattering invention? You know, something that really changed life and aided humanity?

Cars while they’re more aerodynamic and efficient the principle is still basically the same as Henry Ford’s model T. Trains have remained unchanged since the steam to diesel revolution. Computer’s have been around since the 40s (in a very basic form) and while today’s PCs are amazingly powerful they are just refined and developed versions of technology that was created decades ago.

Has our capacity for invention disappeared? There’s been nothing new in the kitchen since the microwave. (The George Forman Grill isn’t that special!) Healthcare is still largely based on antibiotics developed in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. And long distance travel is still based on the Jumbo Jets that crept into service 30 odd years ago.

So where have all the inventions gone? Where are the flying cars and the robotic house cleaners? Why does it now, on average take longer to get to London that it did 30 years ago? Where are the amazing new health drugs and procedures? Why haven’t we gone back to the moon or beyond?

I genuinely believe our technological age isn’t as wonderful as we’re lead to believe. I love my iPod but it seems, that sadly, it’s the only invention that will define my generation.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Clarke Sacked

Just minutes ago the sacking of Charles Clarke was announced. Also Just minutes ago I also decided I will not support Labour until a serious rethink on their policies take place.

If he’d have been sacked after the scandal that over a thousand potential criminals had been released I would have been happy.

I would have been happier still if Clarke was sacked when he made the disgusting comment that this blunder was ‘not as serious as 7/7’.

But no. He was sacked after Labour had a disastrous time at the local elections loosing many votes to the Tories.

This, to me, proves one thing. The current Labour administration cares more about popularity than it does integrity. Is that the mindset that should be running the country?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Try The Chips...

Has to be said. When I was teacher training I'm very glad I was never placed in this school.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Throughout the 90s I lived in a literary black hole. Oh I read, I read lots, but it was all Star Trek. I lapped up as many Trek novels as possible and thoroughly enjoyed them but by 2000 and my first year of Uni I began to grow tired of the written adventures of the various Enterpri.

I ventured into the world of James Bond and soon worked my way through the entire collection. A flatmate introduced me to Harry Potter - I scoffed at first shunning it a child’s book but soon became enchanted by the wizard world.

Even so I still felt I wasn’t challenging myself. I wanted to try new styles of writing and different novels. It’s taken a while but through discovering the SFX Forum, and their book discussion threads I’ve now been reading some excellent novels.

This year I’ve read the two new James Bond Junior novels, Terror Firma and Before and After by Matthew Thomas. Dan Brown’s Deception Point - far more enjoyable than the much hyped Da Vinci Code. I’ve also read I Am Legend, Freakonmics, The Yes Man by Danny Wallace and Louis Theroux’s Call Of The Wild.
While these are not the most challenging books in the world I’m glad that I have got out of the rut I was in. That’s not to say I don’t still read Trek - I especially love the William Shatner series but its nice to see what else is out there.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Och Aye....

So hopefully you followed my recommendation and took a visit to the marvels of Leamington Spa Lifeboat Museum? If you enjoyed that then I can certainly recommend a visit to one of Scotland's hidden treasures.

Torchwood House is one of Scotland's most interesting properties, with some sections dating back to the fifteenth century. The House was extensively rebuilt in the late 1600s, with further work then completed in the early nineteenth century.
Although it was a house built to impress, much of it fell into disrepair during the time of Sir George MacLeish in the 1800s. An eccentric man, Sir George was fascinated by both the sciences and local folklore. He was good friends with the Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert. Many a servant was kept awake waiting on Sir George and the Prince as they whiled away nights discussing the mysteries of the heavens!

Torchwood House even caters for weddings and lends it's name to a group set up by Queen Victoria to investigate the paranormal.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Fresh Air

Fresh Air
Fresh Air,
originally uploaded by smeg_head.
It's weird that now photos have become digital more accessible we seem to do less with them. They no longer are lovingly filed in a photo album - instead they get tucked away on your hard drive or photo CD.

Following my joining Flickr I've been looking through some of my old snaps. I came across this one I took at Eden last August. I make no claims of being a 'photographer' but I remember being really chuffed with the results of this photo. Even more chuffed that someone's made it a favourite on flickr.

Eden is one of my favourite places on Earth. I love the stunning simplicity of the biomes and how it betrays the complexity of their construction. The way they fuse with nature to create such a beautiful corner of Cornwall.

If you've never been please go. You wont regret it!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Losing Lost

After Doctor Who it was possibly the biggest TV event of 2005. Lost. I did once post raving about it during the first few weeks but then I moved house. Things got busy and stayed busy and I stopped watching it. I heard tales f how good it was, what I was missing but every time I tried getting back into it I just saw a very slow pondering show with too many flashbacks.

Instead I buried myself into Doctor Who, the excellent Life On Mars and the truly stunning new Battlestar Galactica.

These shows do highlight a shift in programme making. Gone are the days when you could watch TV shows in any order. Static characters and story of the week used to be the feature of all TV shows now ‘the arc’ is the buzz phrase. There is of course a problem. Now to watch a TV show you have to commit to it. You can no longer miss an episode for fear of being left behind. Producers tease you with plots, occasionally having the kindness to wrap some up but usually leading to more questions being asked.

There is a problem. The more you commit to and enjoy a show the higher your expectation. This means that ultimately when the TV show becomes unprofitable and the decision is made to axe the resolution will always be disappointing. Look at Babylon Five. The final season an utter mess. The X Files collapsed under the weight of it’s own mythology and became unwatchable. There’s also Star Trek Voyager. After seven years of journeying home they arrive at Earth and the show just ends – no emotional pay off whatsoever. Crap.

I’m just concerned that these shows I’m really into at the moment will end with a bitter taste of disappointment. The same goes for Book 7 of Harry Potter. I’ve invested 10 years of my life into Harry Potter – I want a damn good finale but I know nothing will live up to all the fan gossip and speculation.
After 9 months of business my life is easing up again. I have a bit more spare time and I’m finally getting into Lost thanks to a few DVD loans. I just wonder why I’m doing it. I know the shark will be jumped and the ending will be crap. Still I guess the journey is what counts.

Want more Lost?: Answers Questions