Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Big Birthday

I was a latecomer to Radio One. It was Chris Evan’s breakfast show that drew me in to the happy happy sound when I was 16. Still it was refreshing to listen to a station that wasn’t spoiled by adverts every ten minutes and dared to play some different music rather than safe pop all day. Since 1996 I’ve listened to more Radio One. Chris Morris’s mid-90s stuff on there was pure genius. (Blue Jam, Jimmy Savile dieing and the infamous Stephen Hawking wanking broadcast.) Initially I loathed Mark & Lard but they and the Chris Moyles Show following them soon became must listens.

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

Voicing Concerns

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:
Rat runs
Flip charts (yes, really!)
Pissing in bushes
Road cleaners
Polling stations

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

Multiplex Or Bust?

So what is a cinema to you? Is it a vast characterless multiplex with dozens of identical screens and bland décor or is it an old building with one screen, perhaps a converted theatre with ornate décor.

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

Behind The Screens

Do you ever want to go places you’re never allowed to go? You know when you’re somewhere and see a ‘staff only’ sign? Do you ever wonder what goes on behind those doors. I certainly do. When I used to teach, people seemed fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. When I used to say to people ‘I’m a teacher’ quite often the first question would be ‘ohh go on, what do you really say about the kids when you’re in the staff room?’ Truth is that yes we did indeed name and shame ‘little shits’ and big up the little angels. Same goes for my current job, people often ask if they can see what the machines are like where I work.

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…