Saturday, June 30, 2007


Friday, June 29, 2007

Be Our Guest

I love hotels. Perhaps it’s THAT smell they all seem to have. The morning breakfast buffets which, no matter where you stay, always seem superb. Or, perhaps, it’s the fact you can watch porn and not have it show up on your bill*. Last week on my London visit I was put up in quite a posh hotel on Bath Road (A4) Heathrow. Its target audience was definitely the executive businessman – just landed from a long Ny-Lon flight. It was a far cry from the Travelodges I normally use. Still, O2 were happy to pay for it, so I was happy to use it.

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

The Live List

Please excuse my self indulgence as, following my trip to The O2 this weekend, I update the list of acts I have seen live:

Basement Jaxx
Kaiser Chiefs
Tom Jones
Kylie Minogue
The Feeling
Chesney Hawkes
Liberty X
So Solid Crew
Jools Holland
Atomic Kitten
Robbie Williams
David Bowie
George Micheal
Bryan Adams
The Corrs
The Eurthymics
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

O² Dear

I can finally reveal my secrets. Yesterday I was invited to the hush-hush test run of the new O2 Arena. (The Millennium Dome to you and me.) The line-up was promising – Tom Jones, Peter Kay, Basement Jaxx and Kaiser Chiefs – so I hotfooted it to Greenwich for my first time to see the Dome.

As I always thought it is indeed a stunning building. I’m so glad somebody is finally doing something with it. But that’s enough about the outside. Walking through the doors I was hit with the first problem. You really do face the danger of leaving the Dome with the O2 logo forever ingrained on your retina. Wherever you look, there it is. I don’t think I’ve seen so much corporate branding in my life. There was even someone wandering around with ‘trademark team’ on his yellow safety vest. What’s his job? I mean I’m pretty certain nobody is going to mistake it for the ‘Vodadome’.

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!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Domed To Fail?

Remember 2000? The largest anticlimax ever? New Year’s Eve was actually rubbish – hardly the greatest party the world has ever seen. Anyway, we seemed to symbolize the Dome as a huge white physical manifestation of our disappointment. Fact is the Dome its self is a stunning piece of architecture – it was the content that was a bit shite. Now though the Dome has a chance to prove its self as the destination it always wanted to be. Gone are the exhibitions designed to make us reflect on ourself and the world around us replaced with the capitals largest entertainment complex. A huge arena, cinema, and restaurants. It also means I can finally satisfy my seven year long desire to see the Dome with my own eyes – without having to put up with crap government funded exhibitions.

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

My Chemical Romance

Thanks to some itchiness I’ve been using eyewash lately. Just rinsing them out now and then and refreshing them. As I swilled the ‘natural plant extracts’ around my bloodshot irises I postulated how society coped without such remedies? Also who was the first person brave enough to try out the eyewash? How could they be sure it wouldn’t blind them? This made me think more. Our bodies are subjected to a huge variety of chemicals every day. From the hundreds of chemicals in a cup of coffee to the formula used in your shampoo. Sometimes these concoctions do provide a reaction. A nasty rash or itch when you use a different brand of fabric softener. Strangely we think nothing of it. Fact is this is a negative chemical reaction.

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

BB's Big Giveaway

An Elstree Studios production office somewhere in Borehamwood. The series producer and various other Big Brother show runners are sat around a table discussing ideas to boost the flagging ratings.

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.
P1: What?
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

Secret Excitement

I’m excited.

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

Wii Didn't Start The Fire

Back on launch day I was lucky enough to get hold of a Wii. I loved it, so did the general public it seems with tales of stores unable to get hold of Wii stock until the last few weeks. In those six or so months the media turned attention to the Wii hardware drought highlighting incredible prices on ebay and parents desperation to get hold of the console for Christmas.

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

Day 16 relections

Well it’s official this is the longest I have watched Big Brother for about 4 years, and I’m still enjoying it. It seems, however, that the fans aren’t. DSBB, one of the leading Big Brother forums are ripping the show to threads.

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


I never completed a sticker collection when i was a child - now I have done two in twelve months! Not much of an achievement on the grand scale of things but it has made one geek very happy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Why on earth would you want to phone a bowling centre at 10.51pm to book a lane for the following afternoon? What possible idea must you have in your head while most of the public are thinking of a nice mug of coco and a snugly duvet?

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?