Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
6 years ago you formed the band hosting a few shambolic gigs at school and mates birthday parties. Slowly but surely you practice and practice until your covers start sounding like the songs they actually are. Eventually after 18 months you get a booking by a local pub to entertain the drunken revellers that aren’t outside smoking. After a year of this you’re getting more confident, you start to introduce some songs you’ve written yourself.
Now you’re at the point where you can book small hall somewhere and do your own gig – people actually paying to come and see you. Word spreads, first 50 odd people come, the following gig you’re almost into three figures. It’s been three long hard years of loading and unloading transit vans, practising in a cold garage somewhere and scraping together the pennies to buy that 2nd hand amplifier.
The hall gigs pay off and you just about have enough money to book a local studio to record an EP. You start whoring this at your gigs which are now attracting more people. The content has moved from 90% covers to 50%. Heck you even brave an acapella section that gets you much applause.
This journey has taken 4 or so years by this point. Perhaps you’ve had a falling out, one band member leaving after a row, perhaps changing your name once. You can’t remember the last time you got to bed before 4am on a Friday or Saturday but you don’t care it’s your music, your passionate about it.
Finally you attract a small bit of press attention. NME writes two or three lines about a recent local bands festival you played at, you didn’t even know they were there but they say you stole the show.
After 5 long years a man approaches you after a gig, he’s seen the NME report, he wants to sign you to his small record label. You go for it and before you know it your EP hits iTunes. Your gigs are starting to attract more people and you’re actually starting to make some money. After a while a larger record company signs you. They want you to support one of their smaller bands – someone like Pigeon Detectives or Scouting For Girls on tour.
On the back of this tour a single is released – people actually buy it – you enter the charts, it’s only at number 47 but you’re getting there. Another year passes and following Radio 1 play, more tour supporting, perhaps someone bigger like the Feeling you’ve hit the top 20. It’s taken 6 long hard years you’ve honed your sound, you have fans and momentum is growing.
The record company wants you to record a Xmas single – really push for it. You do, it’s hugely popular, mass sales and radio airplay. You tune into the chart show to hear if you’re Xmas number one and what happens? You’re pipped at the post my some twat who 6 months ago was a till operator in McDonalds. Did he spend 6 years working long and hard? Did he write his own stuff and endlessly practice with no professional help? Does he truly appreciate the work needed to get anywhere in the music industry? Nope he just won a shitty TV karaoke contest hosted by Simon ‘I love myself’ Cowell. It’s not even his own song and to be honest he’s still fairly shit anyway.
This is why the X Factor has to stop. Manufactured music is great – I love pop it serves a purpose, it brings fun to music but it shouldn’t dominate the real talent, the real bands who’ve worked long and hard to get where they are. Think of all the shit that has polluted the charts like a pop Chernobyl thanks to ITV in recent years. Cheeky Girls, Hear’Say, Gareth Gates, One True Voice, G4, Michelle McManus – it’s all samey bland wank.
It’s also interesting to note that the only people to have succeeded long term are those that cast off the karaoke shackles of X-Factor/Pop Idol and recorded their own stuff – namely Will Young and Girls Aloud.
Please, please, please British record buying public see sense. X Factor is preventing true home grown talent getting the airtime and chart success it deserves. The UK is home to many, many great bands that don’t need Cowell’s smug nod of approval to get anywhere.
Give them a chance to shine and banish the likes of Leon and Rhydian to the bargain bin.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I can understand they want to stop people taking professional photos/video of the bands performing without the bands express permission for a number of reasons. They want to protect the bands brand & image and they also want to prevent people making a profit from the band and their fans without permission.
When I went to see Take That the security on my block was on a mission to prevent all imaging. The minute he saw your viewfinder light up he steamed over and had a quiet word in your ear. What made it really annoying was that over in the next block dozens of people were snapping away and their security man was letting them.
If there’s a no photo policy in place it should be one rule for all. All over the O2 arena flashes were firing by the dozen a second but that didn’t matter. Nope our security had his orders and that was that.
If I’d had a huge telephoto lens then again it’d be perfectly understandable but no, I just had my mobile phone camera and my cheap Sony Cybershot camera.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Who said Djing was easy…
P.S. Happy birthday mum!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
You’d be wrong.
I don’t know what it is but since the summer my DJ gigs have been wank. Can you lose your touch? I just can’t seem to get an atmosphere going, not that there’s ever any atmosphere to build on it would seem these days. Every one just seems so miserable.
Don’t get me wrong not all the parties have been like wakes – there have been handfuls of people on the D-Floor each night but it has been months since I had the floor packed.
I have a theory, aside from the obvious that I’ve just ‘lost it’. July 1st was the smoking ban – it’s since then that things seem to have stagnated. Could it be that smokers also tend to be the ‘party animals’? It’s damned hard to get a party going when half the guests are outside. Also I’ve noticed that those outside do seem to be laughing, joking and having fun while the non-smokers inside seem to sit around quite quietly.
I’m not a smoker and I agree with the ban but I can now understand the concerns of the entertainment industry. Of course there’s also the current concerns with the economy and mortgages – people do seem to be tightening their belts.
Anyway, the simple fact is this can’t go on. It really does feel like people aren’t enjoyng themselves anymore and of course as I DJ I hate that – I feel responsible. Xmas is going to be a testing time for me, if I can’t get the parties started then in 2008 perhaps it’s best if I don’t DJ parties at all…
Friday, November 30, 2007
Visit 1, secret launch night - saw poor organisation but great gig.
Visit 2, Scissor Sisters - saw improved organisation but poor gig.
Visit 3… straightaway arriving at the O2 things were much better. The staff know what they’re doing now and guests movement flows much better. The restaurants weren’t as packed as previous visits – everyone who wanted to eat could. Also at the end of the night the stampede to the Underground was much smoother. It was still a crush but it didn’t feel like a dangerous crush.
As for the gig I can now say that after 3 visits to the O2 there’s definitely something not right. The O2’s website makes claims of the best quality sound no matter where you sit. Apparently the arena has been designed with acoustics in mind – if that’s the case then the designer was tone deaf.
I first noticed it when Tom Jones hit the stage at the first gig – everything was very bass heavy, almost muffled and although I love good bass it shouldn’t be at the expense of vocals. The simple fact is that every time I have been to the Dome the vocals seem to get drowned out by very heavy bass. Compare that to the MEN Arena where everything sounded perfectly crystal clear and balanced – the bass was still there but the vocals surfed it perfectly.
The Scissor Sisters was the worst – I was at the back of the O2 arena for this gig and you could hardly hear what they were saying.
After three visits it’s now at the point were this is frustrating and for future gigs The O2 will be at the bottom of my list of preferred destinations. (Thankfully I have tickets for Kylie at the MEN next year which is probably my favourite arena.)
The gig itself was superb, I’ve never been a member of the Take That fan club. Sure Back For Good’s a nice song but as a Teen I found them all quite smug and annoying. Shine though caught my attention, I love it – it’s a near perfect pop song. (Though my suspicions that it’s similarities to ELO’s excellent Mr Blue Sky are deliberate were confirmed at the gig by them mixing it into Mr Blue Sky.) Anyway the interaction with the crowd was brilliantly relaxed and chatty unlike Scissor Sisters who felt a tad patronising. I was also extremely impressed with the excellent ‘Never Forget’ set piece featuring some very, very clever video synchronisation.
So Take That I you’ll be pleased to know I’ll now be shamelessly buying your album.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I love Elan Valley in Wales. I love the way that, despite being heavily resculptured in the early 1900s the landscape seems so stunningly natural. You have these huge dams carving into the valley that should spoil things but the amazing Victorian architecture just works to make the area hauntingly beautiful.
I love the silence that seems to hang over the Valley. Admittedly if you visit on a Sunday the peace is disrupted by the plethora of bikers that are drawn to the windy roads but go another day of the week and you can be truly alone with nature.
The original dams were opened in 1904, built to supply Birmingham with fresh clean water and halt the spread of disease in the second City. The amazing thing is it all works by gravity, the water travels the 73 miles on a very gradual slope of 1 in 2,300 Could we build something so simple, so elegant and so sympathetic to the landscape yet so perfectly functional today? Worryingly I doubt it. Though the efforts of the newer dam, opened in 1952 do give me hope. It was built using totally different construction methods – the improvement of concrete technology meant that they could build a damn three times the size of the originals – but of course it wouldn’t look like the originals. What did the designers do to blend it in? The covered it in stone to echo the Victorian architecture of the originals. A lot of cost to serve no purpose other than aesthetics – something I doubt we’d justify today.
I’ve you’ve never been to Elan Valley I urge you to back your best camera and a packed lunch and head there as soon as possible to marvel at man made beauty – made in the days when we could build things on budget, on schedule and still have the finished product serve it purpose.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Although I haven’t kept a record of every book I’ve read here’s the ones that stand out.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins – while much of this fell in line with my beliefs I did find that Dawkins comes across as biased as the people he berates. I am atheist but I will, occasionally, entertain the idea that there may be some awesomely powerful entity somewhere in existence. Dawkins refuses to budge. Basically the first 100 pages are excellent, mid 100 waffle then end 100 gets back on track.
The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford - A few years ago I read ‘No Logo’ which was pretty much anti corporation. This takes the more positive view that I hold and the fascinating final chapter investigates whether sweatshops are actually the root of all evil they appear to be with surprising results.
Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss - I love writing, I love the English language and I’m currently narked by the amount of people that refuse to use it properly. I hate text speak but I’m not a pedant. So while this did address some of my weaknesses with the mother tongue I doubt I will take the current corruption of grammar as seriously as this author.
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming - It’s 8 years since I read the Bond novels and the time is right to revisit Fleming’s world, especially with a new novel on the way in 2008. A little older and more familiar with 007’s world than I was back in 1999 I enjoyed this much, much more. I love the care Fleming takes over description – especially food. Though rereading it you do get a taste of what a nasty bastard Fleming intended Bond to be.
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling – A great end to a fantastic series, though ignore the epilogue because that’s shit.
Doctor Who: The Inside Story by Gary Russell - some fascinating insights however most of the word count seems to consist of crawling up Russell T Davies arse. Was disappointed by this one, for a much more rounded version of events try and track down Panini Comics far superior annual Doctor Who series companions.
The Young Bond Adventures by Charlie Hisgon. Bond’s youth told Harry Potter Stylee. Actually it’s a great concept and the first book, Silver Fin, is excellent and a true insight into the youth of the nations favourite superspy. However books 2-4 get progressively worse. Book 4, Hurricane Gold, is awful and could easily have been condensed to 100 pages. To sum up Bond is involved in a kidnapping, escapes kidnappers then gets caught up with them again fooling them into becoming one of the gang, escapes them, drives around a bit gets caught by one of the gang again, escapes him, gets caught by gang again then escapes them only to be trapped with the ring leader on an exclusive island… zzzzz. After all of the dumb running around there’s finally a good few chapters as Bond tries to escape the Island though it then seems to end too soon with little payoff to the tiesome running around of the main part of the book.
So what’s next on the booklist? Well a bit of Doctor Who in Forever Autumn, Dom Joly’s autobiography ‘Look At Me’, Belle De Jour’s Diary of A London Call Girl, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki And Ian Fleming’s Live & Let Die.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
For some reason The BBC/2 Entertain New Doctor Who box sets are around £49.99 (RRP £69.99) – even Series One which has been out since 2005. Compare that to Series One of Battlestar Galactica, also released in 2005 which you can get for £14.99 (RRP £49.99)
How can the BBC continue to justify this gross overpricing? I’ve compared the first series of each show because they were released around the same time and have the same number of episodes. Things get worse when you compare the second series, also both released at similar times.
Doctor Who 2 14 Episodes £44.99 (RRP £69.99)
Battlestar Galactica 2 20 Episodes £17.99 (RRP £49.99)
Yep, even though Galactica has 6 more episodes you can pick it up £32 cheaper. How do the just released seasons 3 compare?
Doctor Who 3 14 Episodes £51.99 (RRP £69.99)
Battlestar Galactica 3 20 Episodes £37.99 (RRP £49.99)
So you get more Galactica for a lot less money. This pricing structure is even weirder when you consider the unique way the BBC is funded. Our licence fee goes towards TV production costs thus, technically we’ve already paid for the production of Doctor Who, the DVD price should just cover the DVD production costs, something that shouldn’t be anywhere near the expense of show production. Doesn’t this mean that Galactica should be more expensive? It’s produced by a commercial network, one that needs the DVD profits to pay for the production of the show.
I’m baffled by this I have just come to the conclusion that the BBC are screwing over Doctor Who fans for a fast profit. Cheers auntie…
Friday, November 02, 2007
Spaced – The sitcom that was made for me. While most of the nation aspired to be like a certain six Manhatten mates it was the adventures of Tim Bisley and Daisy Syeiner that matched my lifestyle. The first show aired in the very first week I attended university and it was like staring at a looking glass of those tensions of living with weird strangers. Also the fact that Tim was an utter geek highlighted out similarities. One of the best sitcoms ever made, though news of a US version of the show this week has jangled my nerves.
Wanted – The gameshow that I thought, until today, no one else remembered. You can keep The Crystal Maze – this high-tech nationwide game of hide & seek was awesome. The final 60-second countdown as the teams were trapped in their telephone boxes every week was strangely simple but gripping TV.
Teachers – Another moment of synergy between Channel 4 and my life. Teachers aired at the time I was teaching. It shared the same disillusions with the profession and perfectly captured some of the staff room antics. Wasn’t the same when Kurt & Brian left though.
Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush – The best gameshow ever made. Fact.
Big Brother II – Ahh the summer of 2001, the summer of Brian, Bubble, Paul & Helen. This was the one Big Brother I really enjoyed and got addicted to. Shame that it’s been shit ever since.
Ultraviolet – For UK science ficton fans the 1990s was awful. Sure we had the X-Files, Buffy and Star Trek from the states but the UK seemed incapable of producing SF TV. We had the excellent Red Dwarf about once every 3 years and that was it (except for that awful BBC Invasion Earth crap). Then, towards the end of the 90s Channel 4 slipped this beauty in. Ultraviolet is simply one of the best science fiction series ever produced in the UK, it’s only recently been matched by the likes of Life On Mars. The premise was simple – a secret organisation battling Vampires, except they were never called vampires – they were Code V’s. Stylishly filmed and acted by the team that made This Life the series wasn’t afraid to tackle taboo subjects such as abortion and paedophilia (with an excellent twist!).
And while we’re on the subject of paedophilia what about THAT episode of Brass Eye. Pure genius which the media fell hook line and sinker for. Totally blind to the fact that the show was ripping apart the media/tabloid coverage of paedophilia and not the subject itself the media then ripped the show apart, and made themselves look like fools.
Then there’s the rest Father Ted, Gamesmaster, Trigger Happy TV, Whose Line Is It Anyway, Absolutely, and the American imports the station has brought us – Roasanne, Dark Skies & Home Improvement. Not to mention the occasional cracking documentary.
You’ll notice though that there’s nothing on my list since 2002. That’s because these days C4 just doesn’t seem to churn out the goodness like it once did. The mornings are shit since Lock Keepers Cottages closed its doors and evenings seem to be full of lifestyle and reality TV. (Hmm, odd wasn’t C4 supposed to be the alternative channel?) Then there’s The Simpsons which channel 4 have treated like a pile of crap. Big press coverage of the fact that they’d be bringing new episodes to terrestrial and what do we get? A screening of season 13 on Friday night for a few weeks only for the show to be placed into the 6pm slot showing the same old episodes that BBC 2 & Sky have been screening for years. Zzzzzzzzz.
Channel 4 needs to pull its finger out because at the moment it’s the other Channel 4 that’s got me hooked – BBC 4, the station that really does seem to air the alternative…
Saturday, October 20, 2007
This would be like McDonalds trying to save money by dropping hamburgers from its menu. The BBC is a world leader for news and factual content. It’s something it does best. It would make much more sense to drop TV programming that other channels can do just as well – take Strictly Come Dancing or Fame Academy for instance, ITV offer alternatives in the shape of X Factor and Dancing On Ice - both of which are just as good as the BBC shows. Same goes for all the home improvement and cookery programming – other networks provide similar content just as well.
While there are other news networks there’s something about the BBC ability to cover current affairs and live events that is just unmatched. It is this that the BBC should continue to invest in, not neglect. Same goes for it’s high quality drama. No one else, at least not in the UK, could produce the likes of Life On Mars or Doctor Who as well as Auntie does.
BBC 3 is another oddity. The Trust has pledged that BBC 3 & 4 will remain on air. Fair enough but what exactly is the point of BBC 3? It’s meant to be an entertainment channel aimed at young adults. With Dave, E4 and ITV 2 also around is BBC 3 really needed? Most of its shows end up on BBC 2 anyway. At least BBC 4 is justified by having intelligent content unmatched elsewhere.
The trust have said that more repeats will go towards saving money. Well in that case I’d suggest scrapping Three and turning it into a ‘BBC Gold’ if you will. Have that as your repeats channel with no new commissions. The money saved on shit like ‘Help Anthea, I’m Infested’ can then go towards better content on One & Two.
At least the BBC did something right this week – they’ve axed Hyperdrive, the woeful space sitcom. Daft that they’re investing in this when they’ve already got a vastly superior Sci-Fi comedy in the shape of Red Dwarf in their portfolio. Could the money saved from Hyperdrive go towards at least one more voyage of the Starbug crew? Either that or some support pants for Mr Wogan…
Sunday, September 30, 2007
But something that the birthday celebrations on the station made me aware of was that Radio One has eras. Talk to people and they’ll have distinct ideas of what their Radio One sounded like.
The 60s saw the rebellious Radio One, fresh sounds for young people. In the 80s Radio 1 was cheesy. If anything distinctly unfashionable until Matthew Bannister’s infamous DJ cull. Now Radio One is the station trying desperately to be the cool but relaxed champion of new music.
There comes a time though when Radio One slips away from you. As the 40th birthday celebrations end I think the time is nigh on my listenership. Over the last few years I’ve noticed my dial drifting to other stations anyway. Radio 2 for a bit but more and more over to Six Music – the station that truly champions new music despite what Radio One claims.
Happy birthday One FM, I’ll still be listening though it may only be because my DAB radio is out of reach…
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I’m getting old. How can I tell this? Simple I’ve started moaning, despairing at the young ‘uns and stupidity of the local council. Last night I realised I’ve headed into middle-ageness early as I attended a local council forum – a chance to air your views on the city and immediately get a response from representative of the environment agency, police and council themselves.
There were many burning issues:
Flip charts (yes, really!)
Pissing in bushes
It’s amazing what the public moan about.
One thing that bugs me was the general inability of people to voice their opinions in a clear and succinct manner which often lead to the debates wandering off and actually missing the point. The police were brilliant and answered queries simply, honestly and effectively. The council representatives often displayed their unique ability to ramble on pointlessly without addressing the issue.
For instance I voiced a genuine concern about the speed with which buses zoom up our street, narrowly missing children – though not missing my friends car a few months ago. The bus driver pronged his car without a care and just drove on!
Did the councillor sound shocked and say “I will contact the bus company immediately and impose a 20mph speed limit or get them to monitor their drivers” Nope, instead she rabbited on about how it’s a general lack of respect in our society and how the chavs of today grow up to be the bus drivers of tomorrow and that’s the problem. Bizzare and totally missing the point…
One issue was the distance of our polling station from our ward – a school that’s a good 25 mins walk away. Not good when you consider a high percentage of residents are elderly. The amazing response to this was that the electoral register did not realise that the school had moved! (It used to be a 10-minute walk).
One thing that also concerned me was that the councillors often displayed a ‘woe is me’ attitude to our complaints and queries. They attempted to gain sympathy by saying they had many many problems to deal with and often had to jump through hoops to get things done. The forget there’s one critical reason they have to do that… it’s their fucking job! No doubt they get paid handsomely for it. If it really is that stressful then go and get a job gardening or something. Quite pathetic really.
Still all that said in a perverted way I really did enjoy spending an hour listen to people moan and argue… I’ll be doing it again soon.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Sadly Hereford has neither, it has an awful converted bingo hall with terrible seats, appalling sound and a half arsed attempt at décor.
Last night though I got to see a true cinema/theatre with lovingly restored décor comfy seating and good sound. More importantly I got to see the projector too! A huge noisy beast with genuine film spooling from one end of the room to the other like an ill-tempered washing line.
As much as I like the choice and comfort a multi-plex offers as soon as I saw the Savoy Theatre in Monmouth I knew that that was the cinema I wish Hereford had. For one thing, reassuringly, the staff cared. They were film buffs knowledgeable not only on the films themselves but the actors and equipment used to film it… and to project it.
The Savoy still needs some TLC but it is in good hands. Sadly though, because it is usually a few weeks behind on films it audiences aren’t huge. Citizens of Monmouth wake up! You have a gorgeous old cinema that many cities would love to have… support it!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
There are a number of jobs that probably promote this general interest, fire fighters and train drivers are two I can think of. I’ve also often wondered what a Royal Mail sorting office looks like – how do the letter sorters work?
One thing I’ve always wondered about is cinemas. How exactly does a projector work? tonight I have been invited behind the scenes of the Monmouth Savoy Theatre to find out exactly that. More soon…
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
You ever wake up and just can’t get a song out of your head? Bizarrely this is a song that isn’t current – it’s 11 years old and wasn’t even a single release. So I woke up with the urge to sing it. I padded to the bathroom still singing then down to the kitchen singing it more while making coffee. Even watching TV didn’t free my mind from the musical vice it was caught in.
Thus I headed back upstairs and booted my faithful PC up, letting iTunes load which, as usual was set to ‘shuffle’. Low and behold what’s the first song that plays? ‘Longlife’ by Dodgy, the very track that had been in my head all morning. How creepy is that?
But this isn’t where the tale ends. For the dark arts must have been smiling as I decided to do a web search for Dodgy. Their official site has long ago closed, for Dodgy disbanded following the 2001 album ‘Real Estate’ (which its self wasn’t the original line up). Last year I was overjoyed that Nigel Clark the ex-lead singer, released a solo album – which happily was brilliant and filled a gap in my little Dodgy hole. You see throughout my formative years Dodgy were, and still are, my favourite band. A few weeks go on here I published my ‘live list’ - a list of bands I’ve seen live, there were two notable omissions. My two favourite bands Dodgy & Queen. Neither of which I ever got to see.
Anyway, back to the story and I stumble across the official Dodgy Myspace page and there, glaring back at me, is some earth shattering news. A new album is coming out in October! But that wasn't the best part... It seems that Dodgy are reuniting – the original lineup back on tour for the first time in almost a decade. So, a little nugget of a song stuck in my head all morning lead to the discovery of some of the best news in ages – I will finally get to see my favourite band live! You have to admit it’s creepy… but there was one more revelation. The date and venue is exactly the same as the date and venue of when I went to see my current favourite band of the moment ‘The Feeling’ last year.
Some things really are just meant to be…
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The line had been non-moving for the best part of 5-10 minutes. But it was a busy morning. There were a number of people getting holiday money and one woman sorting out problems with her credit card. Thankfully I’m quite patient and I could see that the line wasn’t moving because all the tellers were genuinely busy.
Still the man moaned. “It is, it really is Third World service” again speaking loudly to no one in particular. What an up tight self-centred prick. If it really was ‘third world’ then before visiting the bank to sort out whatever money issue he had he would probably have to walked 3 miles just for water.
If he was behind me I would have told him to shut up, sadly he was a good seven people back in the queue and I really didn’t want to make a scene.
I hate wankers like him. He only had to wait 10 minutes to be served. Once the middle-aged lady in front had got her euros the line moved rapidly again. If there was genuinely crap service then fair enough, moan away but all the staff were working quickly and efficiently and, to be honest, the bank is the one ‘shop’ where I wouldn’t want the staff to rush transactions.
Still the self important prick thought he would moan some more, he seemed blind to the fact that there were 20 other customers waiting quietly and patiently, oh no the whole bank had to revolve around him.
I love working in the customer service industry but hate it when customers fail to realise they’re the problem.. It’s a shame we can’t complain to our bosses about them like they do to us. A bit like yesterday really, though that's one story I can't really publish in the public domain…
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
As much as I enjoyed London there is one thing that Londoners just can’t do. It’s shameful really, England is renowned all over the world for its ability to form a good queue. Londoners should be ambassadors for this art – showing off our national skill to all the tourists. Disappointingly though they just can’t do it.
Example, polite transport boarding etiquette is to wait to allow the passengers alighting to get off, then you board in order of arrival at the dedicated waiting point.
Londerners don’t do this though… they wait for that stale blast of air signalling the arrival of the tube train at this point they start sneaking forward on the platform… the train arrives everyone tenses up and as soon the doors swish open they POUNCE… running and pushing for their lives. It’s like some demented race, “I must be first on the train as the tube god will reward me we a seat away from the loony.” Ah yes, the loony. There is always one on the tube. One that ignores the rule that you must never make eye contact and instead just stares at you.
Still Londoners only push, they’re not totally rude. Unlike one lovely fellow I came across last week….
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
After a delicious bite of Nando’s we booked up for The Simpsons and loved every minute. Not a great plot (Homer pollutes Springfield so severely that the US Government seals the town off in a huge dome) but the gags are thick and fast. The gags are great too – Simpsons gold – all the characters are there though I could have done with some more screen time from Mr Burns and an appearance by Sideshow Bob. If I could I would have bee laughing out loud throughout the movie – sadly though there were only 5 people in the auditorium and with my deep voice I think laughing would have annoyed those 5 – I tried to keep as controlled as possible.
By 7.30 the film had finished – which led us into doing something I have never done before… we decided to go and see another film! Just half an hour later we were settled down for Harry Potter.
It’s my least favourite book so hopes weren’t high… boy was I wrong. An absolutely perfect film. The visuals are stunning with the set design of the Ministry being spot on. The Dumbledore – Voldemort battle is awesome and you finally get the feeling the magic is really powerful. Rupert Grint has come on in leaps and bounds and is proving himself the best actor of the three leads but Umbridge – well she was perfection. If anything more evil that she appears in the novel. Tonks & Bellatrix also displayed perfect casting. The one weak link is Emma Watson. Originally I’d have her as the best of the tree leads but in Order Of The Phoenix she seemed awful, I was really aware that she was acting – just all seemed a bit false.
Anyway 5 out of 5 for Potter, 4 out of 5 for The Simpsons. 1 out of 5 for the popcorn…
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Also I got to experience the new free newpapers that are now common sites on the tube every evening – it’s good to have something to read to escape the piercing eyes of that slightly weird bloke sat opposite you.
There’s capital radio – waking up to Vaughany instead of Moylesy. There’s opening your bedroom window in the morning to be greeted by the BT Tower. Being able to hop on a tube anywhere and experience loads of culture and history.
In one day we soaked up the sights of the Natural History Museum and the smells of Covent Garden and the colours of Camden.
I love London!
Friday, July 27, 2007
Most of the problems seem ironed out, there were no crushes on Entertainment Avenue, however the huge queues for the restaurants were still there. Luckily inside the O2 arena its self there was a distinct lack of queues and we were served in second flat for food – much better than last times 90 mins.
I’d gone to see the Scissor Sisters and my expectations were high. I love the band and have twice been amazed by their live performances at the Brits – performances that made me vow to see them live.
So they came on stage and straight away something was wrong… the sound was awful. All bass and no top – I could barely make out the singing instead being blasted by the drums and bass guitar. Obviously after Djing for 8 years I’m bound to notice things like this more than your average blokey so I asked Miss Smeg what she thinks – ‘I can hardly hear them’ she noted – bingo it wasn’t just my geeky DJ ear.
At this point I resigned that it may be and hour of just enjoying the lighting – which was absolutely stunning throughout – and the stage was amazing. There was a huge fault other than the sound though – the fact you couldn’t see them. A huge stadium gig and they didn’t even have decent large screens to relay the action to the back. Instead there was a blurry back lit projection as part of the set design – which occasionally showed live fuzzy pictures of the band but mostly had computer generated guff that you get as part of Windows Media Player.
Cue the third problem, out of the 19,000 people there we were stood behind the one girl that decides she wants to dance like a freak for the whole fucking show. No matter how much we moved our heads to see she’d move to block our view. Normally I find nothing sexier than a woman dancing well – sadly she was nothing like a woman dancing well – she jumped and jiggled in a variety of bizarre movements that distracted me from the show.
No matter, 10 minutes in and the sound became clearer, bass still slightly too heavy but the singing was now audible. Jake Shears amazed me in that he is a truly great singer – something that perhaps you don’t register so much on the studio albums he hit all the notes perfectly despite bounding about the stage with energy that gave me an asthma attack just watching… but that’s all he did. There were no costume changes and none of the flamboyance that has made me love the Scissor Sisters there were only two bits of audience interaction - Anna Matronic made some bizarre references to Jesus, which didn’t sit well, and then Jake ripped the piss out of Barbara Streisand.
All in all then a huge disappointment, they just didn’t seem to connect with the crowd and the atmosphere was slightly lacking… apart from jiggling girl… They played all the hits which was great but they played them identically to the albums – usually with live performances you expect a few tweaks to make things more fun.. they didn’t even do a cover.
I wouldn’t go to see them again, which is a shame as I do genuinely love their music but they were such a stark contrast to Basement Jaxx whom I saw last month and had the same arena alive in seconds.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Well it’s definitely different, and most of my predictions were on the money too. It started as I predicted and Petunia did indeed have a slightly more developed role. My RAB predictions were bang on. The book did take a departure from the usual Harry Potter tale, and it has to be said I liked it though eventually the constant setting up camp and moving on again did start to get a tad tiresome.
My predictions on Snape were totally wrong however my idea that Voldemort having Harry’s blood sort of became utterly crucial to the plot. Finally I asked why did Dumbledore have the Invisibility Cloak? Again, correctly, this was an important part of the story and set up the reveal for the Deathly Hallows.
It’s been a wonderful 7 school years and I’m kind of sad that the tale has come to an end. There was just one thing wrong with Deathly Hallows though – the epilogue – which was the cheesiest stinking crap I’ve ever read in a Harry Potter book, for me it actually spoilt the great ending to the previous chapter.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I’m guessing it’ll start with Harry leaving the Dursley’s for the final time. Dumbledore, before his death requested that Harry do this as it is one place he’s truly safe. While he’s there I’m guessing we’ll learn something about Aunt Petunia. She obviously has associations with the magical world…
Harry will leave the Dursley’s to attend Bill & Fleur’s wedding. We’ll learn how badly Bill has been affected by his bite from Greyback. He’ll then begin the quest to find the horcruxes – starting at Godric’s Hollow
I’m guessing ‘R.A.B’ – who stole the horcrux – is Reginald Black. Sirius’s brother.
We have to find 3 more horcruxes. A forth – a locket – has been taken by R.A.B.
This book will probably see a departure from the school year format of the previous 6. This could be why JK Rowling is concerned that some fans may loath it. Of course another reason for the loathing could be the death of 2 main characters… or perhaps a loved character turning out to be a villain. (Hagrid anyone?)
Throughout the series much has been made of Harry having his mother’s eyes. Could this have a lot more significance than merely bearing a resemblance? She blessed him with her love, could there be a physical connection too?
Voldemort used Harry’s blood to return to power. Harry is, of course blessed with Lily Potter’s love. Could the fact that Voldemort has traces of this running through his own veins become a weakness in the presumed final battle?
In book six Snape spend some time drumming into his class the importance of ‘Non Verbal Spells’. I feel these may become very important in book 7. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Snape may have used this skill when cursing Dumbledore with the Avada Kadaver spell. Although he did say this out loud but what’s to say he wasn’t thinking about a different spell entirely…
Why did Dumbledore have James Potter’s invisibility cloak? Dumbledore has the power to be invisible without it.
Ginny & Harry, ahh young love. Will they find happiness or will one die protecting the other?
Kreacher is , apparently ‘very important’.
So, that’s it my thoughts and guesses on what’s to come when I start reading just after midnight tonight. (It’s handy living just 5 minutes from Waterstones.) Still I’ll probably be wrong. Whatever happens it’ll be a shame to say farewell to Rowling’s rich and entertaining universe but it’s been a great ride, all because my flatmate forced me to read it. Cheers Spoony!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
“Why don’t you try Harry Potter?” My flatmate enquired. Ugh. Potter, I thought, I hate fantasy, I loathe Lord Of The Rings, why would I enjoy Potter – it’s the same thing – trolls, goblins and dragons.
“Seriously you should, I mean all your kids at school are reading them wouldn’t it be better to relate to them and read what they’re reading them?” flat mate continued eagerly pressing his copy of The Philosopher’s Stone into my hands. He was correct, the school at which I taught was flooded with Harry Potter – everyone seemed to be reading it.
Reluctantly I curled up on the battered sofa that adorned our student living room and began with chapter one, ‘The boy who lived’. Four hours later I was still there – absolutely hooked. Just a few days later and I’d finished The Goblet Of Fire and was desperate for more.
“But that’s it, the next one’s not out.” My flatmate informed me.
Since then I’ve re-read the books a few times, I’ve seen the films – applied the Potterverse to my teaching a few times and attended the midnight book launches. But tomorrow night it all ends. The final book.
It’s weird that a children’s book should become so enthralling. While I have re-read Potter many times since I haven’t yet revisited the Bond novels that I read just prior to Potter… though I have a feeling that in a weird kind of bookend I will do so this summer.
So what will happen? I’m going to make some predictions tomorrow… then see how wrong I am!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
1999 – ATB 9pm (‘Til I Come)
2000 – Spiller Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)
2001 – Kylie Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
2002 – Elvis Vs JXL Little Less Conversation
2003 – Beyonce Crazy In Love
2004 – Eric Prydz Call On Me
2005 – Pussycat Dolls Don’t Cha
2006 – Gnarls Barkley Crazy
2007 – Rihanna Umbrella
Each time these songs become the sound of the summer. They are the most requested songs that year – usually still so when it comes to my Xmas bookings. Every year there are close contenders. 2000 also gave us Rock DJ, 2006 had Scissor Sisters I Don’t Feel Like Dancing etc. This year I was certain that Amerie Gotta Work would be the sound of summer 2007. It’s cracking brass riff and R&B beats quite reminiscent of Beyonce’s Crazy In Love. I was wrong. Umbrella came from nowhere to claim its, to date, 9 week run. Personally it’s the first summer anthem I’ve not enjoyed. I just find it dull, it’s almost as if it never gets going. It’s feels a tad to slow and lacks the uplifting feel that the summer anthem should have.
Of course, in reflection it’s perfect for this year. Here we are in mid July and 2007 is the summer that never was. Rihanna’s rain dance certainly sums up the feeling of the nation and thus despite my loathing of it is possibly the most perfect summer anthem ever.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
We were stuck at Cribbs for 2 hours. 2 Damned hours. 120 minutes that saw our Jailbreak victory ebb away into a humble 30th place.
We eventually got a lift from the pure fluke of knowing someone that happened to be using the Cribbs Causeway MacDonald’s… yes, it is a small world.
So when we crossed that soggy finish line at 6pm we were somewhat solemn. We had one minor victory - £707 for charity – but the buzz we felt of storming into the lead up the M5 that afternoon had long gone.
Still, there’s always next year…
Monday, July 16, 2007
And then we stampeded. Bustling and pushing, shoving forward to be the first team out of the doors of The Winter Gardens, Weston Super Mare. It was a stroke of luck – I know Weston well and thus, for the first Jailbreak in 7 years my team had the advantage.
We stormed round the seaside town, around Jill’s Garden, past the Silica and on to the Grand Pier. We completed the treasure hunt and then had to start trying to get a lift. It wasn’t going to be easy – we were playing against Spiderman, Venom, a team of jockeys, aliens and even four Ugly Betty’s. Luck was on our side as we were among the first few teams to reach the outskirts of Weston, powering there under our own feet. We pleaded with cars driving past for a lift. Begged. Held signs aloft proclaiming ‘charity hitch hike – HELP!’ to show were weren’t just scruffy cheapskate students trying to bag a free ride.
After 10 minutes we were off. A lovely woman giving us a lift despite ’having a bad day’. We told her what was going on and she was so impressed she took us slightly out of her way an extra junction up the M5. We saw signs of only one other team this far.
Within minutes of getting out of her car another kind stranger tooted offering a lift. The lovely Kim was fascinated by our charity efforts and pledged to take us all the way to Cribbs Causeway – heaven – a location where there would be hundreds of people… hundreds of cars, many of them heading our way. We’d be guaranteed a lift and we were sure to beat our 2000 record of coming 5th.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Throughout the 1990’s Hereford was home to ‘Jailbreak’. A hugely successful charity that, in 10 years, raised over a million pounds for smaller charities. The concept was simple. Teams of four were given around six months to raise £400 – if they did this they were eligible for the Jailbreak race. On the first Sunday of every July the teams were bussed from Hereford Racecourse to a mystery location in the UK and then had to race back to Hereford with nothing but luck at their disposal.
It was a huge success and an annual event the whole city looked forward to. I took part in three. Blackpool in 1998, Manchester in 1999 and London in 2000. By this time it has go so popular around 150 teams were taking part. It was too successful and too big to organise thus, Ron & Gren – the creators/organisers of the idea – announced that 2000 was to be the last ever event.
And what an even it was, scrambling to return from Centre point in London to Hereford as fast as you can with no money & no phones. I’m immensely proud to say my team came 5th that year. So I was gutted that it was never to be again.
Until now…. today is the Return of Jailbreak. We’ve spent the last six months raising a fantastic £707 and, in an hour or so I will join the other 50 teams ready to relaunch this phenomenon. Am I mad? Wish me luck…
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
I shouldn’t be so keen to paint people with a stereotype – as a proud science fiction geek I’m part of a social group that’s prone to such lazy presumptions myself. Usually from the direction of up their own arse critics AA Gill who fears anything that he doesn’t get.
Anyway I couldn’t be further from the truth as, on Friday, I ventured to Camra’s 3rd annual ‘Beer On The Wye’ event. A chance to sample over 150 beers, perrys and ciders.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Weird and dangerous forces were at work in the hovel I call home this morning. I awoke to the regular chirping of the fire alarm informing me the battery needed replacing. I was going to go to Tescos so added it to my mental shopping list and padded down to the kitchen. I glanced at the clock and was staggered by how early I’d woken. 6am. Crikey. Only it wasn’t, you see time was at a standstill – the batteries had gone in the kitchen clock too.
An odd but not unusual co-incidence, until I took a shower. I flicked on the shower radio only to be greeted with nothing but static no matter how much I yanked my knobs. A third device that needed a new battery. What was going on?
It’s annoying to have three devices go at once, mainly because batteries are so bloody expensive. Why do they have different sizes too? Why not just one universal size? As I showered I pondered further. What came first, the battery or the torch? It would be daft to release a battery powered torch when such things don’t exist, but like wise who would produce batteries when no items actually require them?!
I shrugged it off and went to cycle over to Tescos… only to find, yep, I kid you not the batteries on my bike lights had gone too! Is my house the centre of a strange power sucking electro magnetic pulse? Perhaps, but more likely the victim of me being a cheap skate and buying tesco value batteries…
Friday, June 29, 2007
For a posh hotel it all seemed a tad naff. Maybe it’s my working class roots but walls & floors covered with polished marble just don’t do it for me. Also concerning was the distinct lack of biscuits in the room. Surely business types like a nibble at night?
The first thing that greeted me when I entered the room was a trouser press, sadly I only had jeans otherwise I would have experimented. The room its self was quite small but the bathroom was big. Bizarrely there was a phone next to the toilet! Wow! Why on Earth do you need a phone next to the loo? Do people like to do business while doing business?
I didn’t need to set my alarm that’s for certain, I was woken at 6am by the sound of a multitude of Boeing engines firing up. No complaints though, I soon dozed back off for another few hours before Miss Smeg announced I should get up for breakfast.
Once I did awake I discovered the final secret hidden in the bathroom. As is tradition when I wake I put the TV on News 24. Ironically it was a report on the launch of The O2. I stretched, then padded through to the bathroom where, I realised, I could still heat News 24 clearly. There was a minute of ‘just woken up type confusion’ before I realised there was a speaker for the TV in the bathroom. Genius. Ultimate surround sound and an interior design tip I’m very keen to copy.
*I’ve never actually done this – but it is, no doubt, a handy service for businessmen away from their wives, they can save a fortune on prostitutes.
Monday, June 25, 2007
So Solid Crew
Catatonia (Twice – the first being my first live gig.)
Excuse some of the dodgy gigs midway down the list – lets just blame it on a few University summer balls. Quite a few big names, which I’m chuffed about. Which were the best? Kylie, Robbie, The Feeling and Basement Jaxx by far. They just managed to get the crowd going and the atmosphere buzzing perfectly.
Bush & So Solid were probably the worst, just boring. Kaiser Chief’s is an odd one because I love their stuff however hearing it all back to back in one hour it just became very samey. Tom Jones took a good half hour to get going. Cerys Matthews made the mistake of proclaiming “It’s good to be back in Wales!” as she came on stage… despite the fact she was in Hereford UK. Let’s just say the crowd weren’t on her side. George Michael was surprisingly rubbish to, he just sat there and made little effort – I hope the more recent Wembley gigs were more satisfying.
Still to come – Scissor Sisters and Take That. One of which I’m not overly looking forward too, I’ll let you know the results later this year!
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Anyway entering the O2 you’re greeted by a huge concourse with… yes you’ve guessed it… an O2 shop. Perhaps they’re hoping all the branding will immediately brainwash the poor fools carrying a 3 or Virgin Mobile phone. Still, I guess seeing as it is now called the O2 I should have expected little else.
The concourse extends around half of the dome. Slap bang in the middle is the huge new O2 Arena while the other half remains unfinished. Along the concourse were a number of restaurants – all well known brands, though pleasingly better quality ones so no Burger King or KFC but instead the likes of Nandos or Frankie & Benny’s. There is also a multiscreen Vue cinema within the Dome – making it a good all round entertainment venue. I arrived at 2pm when there were few people there. The arena opened at 4pm so for two hours I just had the concourse to explore.
This is were things worsened. There is only a limited space to the concourse and slowly but surely more and more of the 17,000 invited turned up. By 3.30pm it was genuinely reaching a point were peoples lives could have been at risk. You simply couldn’t move. Travelling from the Vue to the Arena should take minutes – it took half an hour and a lot of pushing and shoving. If you wanted the toilet you had to battle this crowd then face a further 20-minute queue – 40 minutes if you were female.
When the arena opened I headed inside. But, rather than open the whole arena they opened a floor at a time in half hour intervals. Thus the queuing out in the concourse wasn’t alleviated. I queued for 1hour and 20 minutes for food – but I was hungry and had no other option. It didn’t help matters that at least 2 of the food stalls had to close following a power cut. (£8 for cod and chips by the way.)
Also despite the heavy branding it seems the O2 designers don’t actually want you to spend money there. How come? Well there were just 4 cash points. 3 of which constantly crashed. 17,000 people and just 3 cash points. What’s that about?
So far then not a positive experience. Thankfully that all changed once I was seated. The arena looks to be a brilliant venue. (Though the stage was, yes, you’ve guessed it, in the shape of ‘O2’.) The sound and lighting is stunning. The view was great and unbelievable the seat was very comfy. All the acts performed brilliantly and Dermot O’Leary was the perfect host.
I just hope these teething problems will be sorted out for when I return next month!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
So I’m off to the invite-only grand opening. Basment Jaxx, Tom Jones, Kaiser Chiefs, Dermot O’Leary and a secret comedian. All under the glass fibre fabric roof of London’s most controversial landmark. I’ll let you know more soon.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Products are probably tested before being released – new recipes especially. So I doubt there’s any danger of anyone gaining mutated super powers from a blast of a new type of deodorant. Then I had another thought. How can food companies be sure that a chemical in product ‘A’ wont react to a chemical in product ‘B’. Last year the reaction caused when Mentos were dropped into Diet Coke caused a sensation on Youtube.What’s to say something like this couldn’t happen with two other entirely random food products – inside you!? Is it actually safe to eat a Big Mac and follow it up with, say, a polo? Am I going to explode if I drink Irn Bru with my Sherbert Fountain?
Of course we all know the dangers of eating a high fat diet but surely there must be something to all the different chemicals we consume or use on our body? Anyway, seeing as I’ve just eaten some the brand new Starburst Choosers I might now just wait a while before I drink my cider.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Producer 3: We could always bring back Jade?
Producer 1: You’re fired.
Producer 2: Wait a minute I have it.
P1: Go on.
P2: What if we can convince the housemates that the £100k prize fund has already been won…by somebody in the house?
P3: We could say that the public have been voting for the winner all along.
P2: No no, even better than that, we get the housemates to chose the winner.
P1: I like it. Could cause friction, tension. Make it uncomfortable for the winner and even worse for those that think they’re not going to win a penny. Something to really argue over instead of just bananas all the time. How do we go about it?
P2: Easy. A live show, we show the housemates the £100k, announce that one of them is going to win it and they have to decide.
P1: Brilliant then we give them 24 hours to decide.
P3: Even better, we give them 1 minute.
P2: 1 minute. Imagine the sensation it will cause!
P1: But if we give them 24 hours we could give the ratings a real boost. The show will be unmissable as the housemates spend 24 hours debating and arguing who deserves the money. The live stream ratings will surge and as word of mouth spreads throughout offices and workplaces tomorrow we will get a much healthier figure for the highlights show because people want to see what happened and who wins.
P2: No, give them 1 minute. People will want to watch to see the fallout.
P1: Right. Um, one minute then. Then what? We have a huge fanfare and celebrity to present the money to convince the housemates that the £100k really has gone?
P2: No, no, no! We just cut to an extremely anti-climatic awkward 2 minutes of live stream and end the show with Davina looking slightly embarrassed.
P3: Brilliant! It can’t fail!
I mean seriously. What the feck was that? They have 13 weeks to fill and a great opportunity to create some unmissable TV is crow barred into the space of five minutes. Perhaps it’s time to switch off again for the forth year in a row…
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Not quite ‘I’m going to see Kylie Minogue’ excited like I was in January but all most there. There is one problem. I can’t tell you why.
I’m going to London this weekend. It’s been a few years since I’ve headed that way. It was either 2003 or 2004 – I can’t even remember! Problem is, I can’t tell you why.
I’ll be seeing Dermot O’Leary this weekend – but I’ll be violating the terms & conditions of what I’m doing if I tell you why.
I might have already blown it by posting here. What a big bother. I’ll tell you what I can’t tell you soon….
Monday, June 18, 2007
We were so distracted by this and tales of carnage caused by flying Wii-motes that we failed to notice something far more sinister. It’s the simple fact that once you’ve bought the Wii you’ve got very little to do with it. Wii Sports is excellent and Wario Ware: Smooth Moves is a great multiplayer party game but that’s it. Where are the other games? I love my Wii but it is concerning that 6 months later I’m still playing Wii Sports – what is essentially a glorified demo of the Wii’s abilities. It’s also worrying that I’ve spent more time using my Wii to play classic games via the virtual console than I have games specifically designed for the console.
Mario Galaxy is still months away, Sonic was a disappointment and most of the other games could easily have been created for any other console.
The hype has died away and now I’m seriously bothered that nothing is enticing me to that glowing white box in the living room. Hurry up Nintendo, Wii need more fun!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
There are definitely flaws – one thing that’s glaring is how boring is must be in the house. The Big Brother I was a fan of a few years ago set long tasks that the HMs had to tackle. Tasks that would last days and help create some bonding. Where have these gone? Instead we have a silly break-dancing task, a dinner date and a tin of sardines. No wonder all they do is argue, there is nothing else for them to do. Is this really what the last few BBs have been like?
I still like the all women thing. I’m glad the producers have resisted flooding the house with men – seeing how Ziggy copes is interesting.
The negativity does concern me. I remember arguments in Big Brother 2 (my favourite series) but never on this scale daily. I remember the HMs being much more fun. Perhaps it’s because there were more people with more life experience and less wannabies.
One thing I’ve learnt is that the phrase ‘I’m not bovvered’ actually means the exact opposite. Emily, Chanelle, Charley and Nicky have all been guilty of this. They utter those three words… then carry on arguing about whatever they’re not ‘bovvered’ about. Usually for about 3 hours.
Tracey is my hero though. Her chat with Gerry was spot on and something that I’ve often thought – not only while watching Big Brother but when having to suffer whinging in general. ‘Deal with it.’ It’s something younger people seem unable to do these days. When faced with a challenge or crises rather than sensibly try and solve it far too many people just winge or expect someone else to do the work for them.
Also good this year is Charley. The best pantomime villain in Big Brother since Nasty Nick. She maybe a vile creature with a hugely inflated opinion of herself but she’s providing some great ‘she’s behind you’ moments!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Why do you pick up the menu and read it through where it clearly tells you order at the bar before then asking staff where to order?
Why do you ask if you can book 10 people in to bowl ASAP... for April 7th 2008?
Why do you bowl two balls at once down a lane thinking you’re hilarious when actually all you’re doing is damaging the machine?
Why do you put your stinking smelling shoes right in front of my face when you have to walk past a sign telling you to put your shoes at the end of the desk to get to me - at the other end...
Why do you tap a coin for attention on the reception desk when I’m clearly on the phone dealing with another customer?
Why, when you phone to book a lane, do you sound so surprised that we ask you to name a date and then proceed to have a lengthy discussion with your spouse about time and date. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do that beforehand?
We do you think you are a comedy God by asking for size 19 shoes. We’ve now heard that amazingly original witty line roughly 45,876 times in the last ten years. It wasn’t even funny the first time.
Why when were taking food to your table do you ask ‘oh, what about the fries I ordered’ - when I clearly have both hands full with the rest of your order. You then seem amazed that I might possibly be making two trips.
Why, despite our oversized banner proclaiming live football here do you ask if we are screening the match?
Why do you spend about ten minutes trying on three different pairs of shoes that ultimately you’re only going to wear for an hour? This isn’t Clarke’s, does it matter that they are slightly loose or that the stitching on one side has come undone?
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I loved the race row in Celeb BB. Finally it was the show it was meant to be 7 years ago. Real people, real issues. Sadly the Whitehouse brigade disagreed and Big Brother has had to change to survive. They had two options really. Go back to the early series with a more ‘normal’ cross section of society and just observe or do something totally different.
They’ve done both.
The something totally different is that the house is all female. And while this seems odd look beneath this twist and actually the characters all seem far more grounded. More like the people you’d meet in the street than the caricatures that populated Big Brothers 5,6 and 7.
This has filled me with hope, hope that finally, after 3 years there may be a Big Brother that’s watchable. Of course it won’t last. The producers haven’t the guts to stick to an all female cast. The men will be along sooner than later and, I fear, that’s when I’ll switch off.
Monday, May 21, 2007
The most common coincidence in my life revolves around doing exactly what I’m doing now – writing. I almost always have the radio on while I’m online or writing and more often than not the DJ will say the same word or phrase exactly as I happen to read/write it on screen. It’s moments like that when you want to have the ‘Twilight Zone’ theme tune to hand.
This morning I did a bit of work for my local radio station. I went in to twiddle some knobs and enable the studio to link to the sister one in the next county. The shows guest was discussing whether the elderly should be forced to retake their driving test. She was a lovely woman, slightly nervous, almost horrified when she realised we’d be live. Not to worry she relaxed into the interview and came across wonderfully. She was sympathetic to the elderly noting that each generation has bad drivers and that we should encourage them to relearn their skills rather than ‘force’ them into tests.
So interview concluded I headed home, across one of the cities major roads only to find a crash just metres from my home. And yes fate fans, it was an elderly driver bumping into a younger driver!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Then I moved to Radio 1. Largely encouraged by Chris Evans Breakfast show. But now Scott Mills & Chris Moyles are daily listens. Failing that I’ll tune into Radio 2 or talkSPORT. Ian Collins is still a legend.
My radio habits have changed drastically lately. I mainly listen via the BBC’s listen again. Though, despite my broadband I tire of it stalling and occasionally sounding like its being broadcast down a long echoey metal pipe. I have to have music on when I’m working or on the PC. But other than listen again my only option was iTunes or a portable battery powered radio. (The HiFI is downstairs.)
So I’ve finally taken the plunge and today purchased my first DAB radio. For years I’ve dreamed of owning the PURE evoke II. A work of art that many enthusiasts constantly big up. Sadly I couldn’t justify the £120 + on just a radio – Especially when Herefordshire only has around 15 DAB stations.
Today I bought a Tesco own brand radio. £40. Don’t laugh, it’s actually a surprisingly good quality build. Nice and heavy and gorgeous finish. It’s certainly evoking the Evoke. The sound is superb. Slightly lacking in bass but it does have a line out so I could always get some external speakers to cure that. Instantly I’ve fallen in love with 6music. BBC Radio 7’s repeats of 'Dead Ringers' & 'On The Hour' are a must and, of course, I can finally listen to Virgin & Talksport without the old AM hiss.
OK, I haven’t got the ability to record & pause radio like more expensive models – but Listen Again provides that service perfectly. So, about 5 years over due I’m finally all Dabbed up – and couldn’t be happier!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Have you been to town this week? If so have you noticed all the shops with their doors wide open? You know, shops that also have all their heaters on full blast to replace heat lost through those wide open doors. Perhaps you walked through town in the evening and were safely illuminated by all those empty shops with all their lights on? These are both examples of heinous carbon crimes that need sorting out. The worst though is junk mail.
This morning I received a letter telling me I have been approved for a credit card. The same bank sent me the same letter just a fortnight ago. I get, on average, two of these letters from different credit card companies every week and have done for the last decade. Not once have I returned one of these letters agreeing to help rush me into a few thousand pounds worth of debt. They have all been shredded.
I do not own a credit card and most likely never will – they’re evil. So why do I get these letters constantly? Surely they can see that I have never replied why waste time and around 5 sheets of paper per bank asking me? If I really ever do want a credit card then I will happily wander off to the banks I’m already with to look into it.
If the government really wants the public to go green then they should set about curbing these bad examples first.
Friday, April 20, 2007
“You’re always well shaven – in fact I’ve never seen you with stubble” said a colleague last week at work. Thus the gauntlet was thrown and the beard experiment began. It was starting to look good too but yesterday I felt so rough and ill that I wanted something, no anything that would make me look a little better and thus the beard went. I’m not sure if it suited me. Miss Smeg hated it but still it was the most hairy faced I’ve ever been.
British Gas are a bunch of tossers. Last years they tried to con me out of almost £200 and then threatened to take me to court when I demanded it back. Basically they’d got out house mixed up with one with the same number on a side street up the road. Despite having a different meter number they wouldn’t believe us and it took 6 months and two calls to Energy Watch to sort it out. So, this morning when I read that they’ve had a huge surge in complaints my reaction was simply “haaa ha ha ha haaaa ha ha ha ha ha hah ah ah haha ha ha ha….. ha ha ha ha h ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hhahhhaaaa giggle ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha hahaha chortle ha ha h a.”
“haha cough ha ha”
Immature yes. But joyous.
Finally one of my all time favourite games is out on the Wii Virtual Console today. After the bitter disappointment that was Starfox on the DS, the classic N64 game LylatWars is finally re-released. This is what I’ve been waiting for so excuse me while I bugger off an download it. Marvellous!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Perhaps I’m being punished for the fact that previously I’d only had one cold in over 18months (but O did have a lovely stomach bug in October, I doubt you really want to know about that… still I got to know the bathroom quite intimately.) but now I feel I’ve served my time. Once again my nose is red raw and I can’t sleep for longer than an hour without waking to a coughing fit. It’s also seriously hampering my great beard experiment.
Still there’s good news. Merlin have released a second volume of Doctor Who stickers and I get to spend a second summer re-living my childhood. Start practicing… with sincerity… “No, they’re not for me, my nephew… he’s mad on Doctor Who….*ahem*”
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
This morning then, I was dismayed at the Radio Times’ cover, which featured a thwacking great big spoiler, surely their remit is to encourage people to watch shows – not spoil the surprises within them?
Friday, March 30, 2007
So I post this now to remind myself how good I’m actually feeling about it. The rush after completing the workout and, even better, the post work out shower. So future smeg_head, I’m talking to you, NO excuses next week!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Not these days oh no. Colds now seem to last me over a month. The bugger I have at the moment first surfaced 7 weeks ago. It turned into a bed-rattling cough only to disperse after a week. Then, 4 weeks ago it returned and went through the same motions. The constant running nose became a horrible retch-inducing cough which lasted a week then went again.
Now here we are again, on Friday my nose started running again. Today it’s sore from constant wiping and blowing and the first signs of the cough have begun to show. Apart from buying shares in Beechams I know not what to do. I don’t want to bother the Doctor with what is just a cold but if the cough mutates once again like it did the last two times then Wednesday & Thursday nights are going to be largely sleepless.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
- Twenty-seven is a perfect cube, being 33 = 3 × 3 × 3.
- There are exactly 27 straight lines on a cubic surface.
- 27 is also a decagonal number
- The 27th moon of Jupiter is Sinope
- There are a total of 27 books in the New Testament
- The age in years at which many famous rock musicians died, sometimes referred to as the 27 Club. Occasionally, this is termed the "ideal" age to die, and the concept has inspired a brand of clothing, DeadAt27
- A number which American parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic hides somewhere in many of his songs and videos
- The code for international direct-dial phone calls to South Africa
- The number of letters in the Spanish alphabet
- The current number of Amendments to the United States Constitution
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Today, marks my 302nd post. Talk about maintaining a perfect statistic. Still it confirms what I feared 2 years ago – that only roughly 1/3 of my life generates anything worth blogging. Initially this sounds utterly depressing. Then I realised something. I spend on average 5 days a week at work. 5x52 = 260. 365-260=105. I only get 105 days off. Give or take the odd day off that I waste being really lazy and not doing a sodding thing… or the days off when I’m doing mundane things like house cleaning and actually 100 posts isn’t so bad after all. It’s roughly a post for every day off, i.e. when I have the free time to think about something to write.
Of course it isn’t the truth. I often write my blog while at work, but it eases my thoughts a little…
Anyway I need a New Blog Year resolution. I have decided I want my forth year to be a little more positive. Less rants more interest. Perhaps take a leaf out of Geezer’s book and see what lies under my nose to talk about. Nuggets of Hereford that need bringing to the online world.
That, however, will have to wait a few days. See you then!