Thursday, 27 November 2008

Friday on my mind

It seems to have been I *heart* Woolies Day on Radio2 today. What annoys me is that people aren't in love with Woolworth's at all, they're in love with a) nostalgia and b) getting things cheaper elsewhere. Woolworth's slit their own throat by trying to change too much. At one time they were the shop where you could buy, literally, everything, on any high street. Then they changed to a shop, which, at its core, sold CDs/DVDs/video games, toys, basic hardware and kids' clothes and moved to large superstores. All the time shops like Tesco, Wilkinson's and Argos were busy stealing their trade. Now they're paying the price.

I blogged about eighteen months ago about how we're all guilty for this state of affairs by picking up CDs with our weekly grocery shop and all sorts of cheap stuff via the internet. I hope they can be rescued, because if they aren't - besides thousands of people being put out of work, which is horrible - that'll mean one less record shop in my home town. Apart from supermarkets, the only place to buy music will be WH Smith, and even their music department seems to have shrunk a little more every time I go in there. I can remember, as little as ten years ago, there were three independent record shops, and three music departments inside larger stores here.

Anyway, I'm not here tomorrow, as I'm going to see The Zutons. I'm not really bothered about going but I'm humouring my gig-going chum as he's a fan, and he wasn't overly fussed about Elbow, but they won him over. So here's your Friday treat. A ZTT Records double-header this week. The first one's based on a Yes track, but don't let that put you off. The second was the theme tune to Top Gear Rally Report, but don't let that put you off either. And getting back to record shops, I bought both of these singles for about 20p from Boots after they'd dropped out of the Top 40. Boots was the place to go if you were a paper boy on a tight budget and could wait a few weeks for your singles.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Christ on a bike

I never liked the Krypton Factor as a kid, but they repeated it on FTN a couple of years ago and I got quite addicted. Today's reveal of the new presenter leaves me extremely cold though. He's the televisual equivalent of beige. Ugh. Unlike Gordon Burns - who is currently starring on the BBC's regional news in the North West - he's had a personality bypass. Besides, Gordon Burns once introduced me on Radio2, fact fans.
Actually, looking at that photo, Burns and Shephard do look quite similar. I don't think many women fancy Shephard though.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I know...

...I blogged about this last week, but I must urge you to watch BBC4's The Department Store. Last night's concerned a shop in Huddersfield called Peters, which, two years ago, was taken into administration. The store's still being run by its previous owners, husband and wife David and Caroline, only this time they're only managing the place. What I loved about last night's episode was that it showed the British at their best. For example:

  • The customers were incredibly good-humoured.

  • The British ability to either stand and pose or say 'oof' and run out of the way when confronted with a television camera pointing at them.

  • The way someone stuck in a lift was only concerned about being late back to work off their dinner hour.

  • The way British people, in shop cafes, are quite satisfied with a jacket potato 'inc. salad garnish'.

  • Thinking that prawn and ham would be a satisfactory filling for a wrap.

  • The way people in positions of power in clothes shops go to work dressed as though they're going for a night out.

  • The unflinching optimism which makes them believe they can recreate a terrace cafe in Milan - which is overlooked by a stunning cathedral - in the Packhorse Centre in Huddersfield overlooking Dazzles ear-piercing emporium.

  • The way that 'lady petrol' is somehow seen as decadent.

The director, Richard Macer, is quite clearly from the Louis Theroux school of filmmaking, but you can't begrudge him copying when his films are as good as this. Watch it.

Monday, 24 November 2008

I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't understand

There are certain things that, over the course of this last weekend I know I'll never understand.
The first thing is the appeal of the film, Mamma Mia. You know the one, based on the music of Abba? I was perusing the female members of my family's Christmas lists over the weekend, and every one of them (out of four) had the Mamma Mia DVD on there. Now, I'm not one to start slagging off Abba, they did some good pop songs, and they did some bad pop songs, but why would you want to see those songs in the setting of a film?
Now, the film is obviously very popular; I was told on Saturday that it's only just stopped being shown at my local multiplex, and even then that was because of the impending DVD release (handily in time for Christmas). The film was released in UK cinemas on July 10th. So it's been showing continually for a quarter of a year. Now I'm not one to discourage people from going to the pictures, but is there nothing else that these women (and I'm assured from those who've seen it that the audience is predominantly female) would like to see instead? I was rather looking forward to catching Shane Meadows's film Somers Town when it was released on August 22nd, but guess what? None of the cinemas round here were showing it. Which is a shame when you think that Meadows lives fifteen miles from where I sit now. I suppose the screens were blocked up with Meryl Streep doing the splits and Pierce Brosnan being out of tune.
Never mind, I'm sure that Bjorn and Benny are currently sitting on their own private island somewhere lighting handmade Cuban cigars with high denomination banknotes, while a convoy of trucks pull up outside their homes in Sweden and deposit huge wodges of cash down a chute into their cellars. And good for them.

The next thing I know I'll never understand is the appeal of the mobile phone. I know they're incredibly handy things to have, and now I can have a camera with me wherever I go. The thing is, I was in a phone shop on Saturday buying a phone for my mother. She needs a simpler one to the one she's got because at the minute, instead of receiving calls, she starts taking accidental photographs whenever someone rings her. Well, I was just stood looking at the display to work out my options when I was more or less kicked out of the way by three teenage girls. One of them said "Yeah, this is what Darryl's buying me for Christmas. It's a lovely phone the LG GS666X-WANK ain't it?" A beautiful phone? Now, I like things that are aesthetically pleasing, but I'd never go as far as to call a mobile phone 'lovely'. It's a tool for communicating with, nothing more, nothing less. My boss often tells me that people at work who have the latest phone probably have absolutely nothing else in their lives apart from a fancy phone. For once I think he might be right.
You see, when I was a kid the things I drooled over were things to play music on. The more graphic equalisers the better. And if not stereos, it was poring over the browser in the local record shops looking at what records you couldn't afford out of your paper round wages.
Who knows, in twenty odd years time those teenagers might be blogging about why the kids of today are obsessed with teleportation devices, in their day it was mobile phones.
Stop press: Another thing I don't get, is the obsession with Diane Keen's tits. I get more visitors to this site looking for Diane Keen's tits that anything else. I wouldn't mind, but they're nothing to write home about.

Friday, 21 November 2008

So, I come from Mos-cock!

I've been ill. No, I'm not looking for sympathy, I hate being ill - I just think about all the bonuses and extra day's holiday I'll miss out on. I won't go into it, just let me quote Fawlty Towers and you'll get the gist: "I think those prawns might have been a bit off."

Anyway, that's given me time to watch a load of stuff backed up on my PVR.
It's not all Turkey Twizzlers and crack cocaine here at Ambassador Towers you know, which is evidenced by my interest in military history. I've been watching a documentary series called WWII Behind Closed Doors. Using archive material not released by the Russians until the 1990s, it shows Joseph Stalin's part in WWII. I don't know about you, but Stalin's my favourite 20th-Century-dictator-responsible-for-the-needless-deaths-of-millions. I think it's the bushy moustache and proto-flat top combo coupled with those high-collared safari jackets festooned with medals and red stars ensemble that does it for me. But never mind about that, because it's a serious and weighty documentary, the BBC have made the reconstructions in Russian, hence no embarrassing 'Allo 'Allo style accents. The dialogue in these reconstructions is subtitled, and it was this which made me choke on my dry toast yesterday. Check this for fantastic use of subtitles: Uncle Joe's having perhaps his only moment of self doubt. He gathers the Politburo in a room and speaks "Lenin left us a great legacy, and we, his followers, have fucked it up". Brilliant.

I watched that thing about the department store too (I know Hepworth's blogged about it here). If you didn't see it, it was a documentary about an independent department store in Leyburn, North Yorkshire (watch it on the iPlayer here). When I say department store, I mean department store, as in they sell everything. As opposed to Debenhams who style themselves "Britain's favourite department store", even though their definition of department store is a clothes shop that sells a few tumblers upstairs. The documentary followed the patriarch's retirement and handing over of business to his daughter and son-in-law. Watching it, I'm surprised they ever turned a profit such was their propensity for falling out with each other. For those of you who have watched it, I'd like to make a few points here:

  1. The 50% of me with Yorkshire genes got very cross when the daughter apologised first over the chairs incident. She was quite clearly in the right so should have let the mother come to her.
  2. If the daughter was in such a thrall to the Playtex rep, why couldn't she blag herself a better bra? At one point, her knockers were pointing in totally opposite directions whilst resting on her stomach. As Gok Wan says "Ladies, get yourself decent underwear; it's the foundation on which you lay everything else. You wouldn't build a house on soggy soil".
  3. The 'fashion' show is one of the funniest things I've seen all year. Or perhaps ever.
  4. I love the concept of 'bingo trousers'.

Right, as it's Friday, you can have this. I'm reminded of it every time The Killers' rather insipid new single comes on the radio. The intro starts and I mistake it for this, and I think "Ooh, great, I've not heard this Tuesday-dinnertime-chart-rundown-background-music in years". And I'm always disappointed. The video's great, by the way, especially if you fancy the artist. As the artist himself clearly does.

Monday, 17 November 2008

What a cu...

I see that Robert Kilroy-Silk is appearing in this year's I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!
Now, Mr Kilroy-Silk, as I'm sure you're aware, is an elected MEP. He's an MEP 'representing' the East Midlands i.e. where I live. He was elected in 2004 whilst a member of the UK Independence Party; a party who were supposed to be against Britain's membership of the EU and, as such, against any sort of involvement in British affairs by a parliament based in Belgium. Apparently they stood for election to the European parliament in order to destroy it from the inside.
Well, these days Mr Kilroy-Silk turns up once a month to vote. If you don't turn up to vote, you don't get paid. So, as a public servant, claiming tax payers money, he turns up, votes and sods off again. That's really destroying the European parliament and sticking it to those on the Brussels gravy train, isn't it? Not.
I wish he'd go to Brussels to sort out some kind of EU funding for the dualling of the A46 between Newark and the other side of Nottingham. Oh no, how silly of me , he's currently eating insects on a vacuous 'reality' show with a load of other fuckwits.

While he was on the 2004 election campaign, Kilroy-Silk came to Newark to drum up support. I happened to be in town that day myself, a Tuesday afternoon, as I recall. I saw him and his hanger-on (a man so useless that he hadn't bothered to do any research as to when the market days in the town were, so his man would have found a huge increase in the amount of flesh he could have pressed. Which, in turn, Lead to Kilroy-Silk booming at him "Where are all the people!?"), they approached me, Kilroy-Silk with his arm outstretched ready to shake my hand. I carried on walking towards him, and didn't make any eye contact with him at all. Still with his arm outstretched he said to me "May I introduce myself...", now, I'm not usually rude, but I knew who the twat was and just carried on walking. I was quite proud of myself that day. I hope I never clap eyes on the oily, tanned, xenophobic, controlling turd again.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

How much...

...would you have to completely hate someone to buy them this for Christmas?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Night of the living dead

That time is nearly upon us again. That's right, I know it's only mid November but plans for Christmas are being made already. I mention this because my boss came to me today to discuss whether our department should go out for a Christmas drink. I normally hate going out with workmates; I don't go out with my 'proper' friends enough, so why would I choose to go out with a bunch of people I can just about tolerate?
The last time I went out on a 'works do' in 2004, the guy who worked the opposite shift to me threatened me with 'I'm going to kick your fucking head in' for no reason whatsoever. Oh, how we laughed on the Monday after when he claimed not to have remembered any of it. Not. Personally, I think he might have wanted to say that for a while but the drink loosened his tongue. Perhaps he wanted to take it out on me because I went on my own and he took his wife who had a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.
Anyway, I always said that that was the last time. I now think my boss feels as though enough time has elapsed - and the head-kicking guy has since left - to suggest another pre-Christmas snifter. I told him to see what other people on the department thought. And because they're all young and full of spunk they all said 'yes!'. Bah! That means I'll have to go, if only to show how miserable the only guy older than me on the department is for not going. I still like to be down wi' kids, see? And they've convinced me by saying that it's the office staff's night out on the same day, so Knockers O'Neill and the Scottish Siren will be out too. Woo, and indeed, hoo!
I'm not looking forward to it though, they'll all want to go in the pubs I hate. You know the ones, the ones where you feel like Tommy because you can neither see, hear or make yourself heard. And there's bound to be the local market square heroes out looking for a scrap. I'm running if it all kicks off, I don't want a shiner for Christmas Day.

Can I just say that I enjoyed a marathon Charlie Brooker's Dead Set the other night. I'm not usually in to horror but it was rather good. It was about zombies taking over Britain and the action was set in the Big Brother house. Believe me, nothing is more satisfying than seeing Davina McCall get a lamp stand shoved through her head. I also love the fictional idea of some mysterious plague or virus wiping out huge numbers of the population. Which is why I've always had a soft spot for 28 Days Later, The Day of the Triffids, Z for Zachariah and The Stand. I think living on an island nation it doesn't leave much to the imagination to think that something like that may actually occur.

And, as it's Friday, and I've mentioned the 'C' word, you can have this:

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

What enthusiasm?

As much as I'm not overly keen on Curb Your Enthusiasm, I've found myself, over the past couple of weekends, having Larry David moments.
Take Saturday, for example. I was doing a spot of housework in my kitchen whilst listening to selections from my iPod, in particular playing a pretty mean air guitar to this. Anyhow, while in my cleansing and air-guitaring state, I must have inadvertently pumped a bottle of white Carex hand soap I keep on at the kitchen sink. True to form the postman turned up at the crack of midday to deliver a parcel which needed signing for. I could see that he couldn't make eye contact with me but seemed to be focused on my navy blue pullover. When he'd sodded off, I went back to my household chores. I then noticed a load of Carex hand soap all over the draining board, and, horror of horrors all down the front of my jumper. The postman must have thought, in my red-faced state and with a load of thick, white liquid down my front, that I'd been having a spot of 'me time. Nooooo!!! No doubt he couldn't wait to get back to the sorting office to laugh about it 'with the lads'. Ugh.

And last Sunday, I broke my own rule about not going to pubs where a TV plays to watch the big Forest v Sheep football match. I waited outside the pub for my mate to turn up (I hate going into pubs on my own). I'd bought a Q magazine from the newsagents on the way and was passing the time reading it. While waiting, this woman with a small dog on a lead approached me (The dog was one of those Greyfriars Bobby types - a Wanky Terrier I think they're called). The dog stopped and started sniffing the bottom of my jeans. The owner made no effort to call the dog off, and then it arched its back, as a dog parking its breakfast does, and started to have a shit. Now, I don't know what the dog had been eating, vindaloo by the look of if, but it had serious diarrhoea problems. The woman was then saying to the dog - the fucking dog, mark you, she forwent apologising to me - 'oooh, just a minute, let mummy get a bag'. At this point a wasp landed on my face, I started swatting with the magazine to get it off and ended up stepping in the dog toffee whilst the old bag was scrabbling in her bag to a receptacle to put the shit in. Bah! I had to do that thing where you find some grass and scrape your shoe along it to get the grass off. And then you find you need a stick to poke it out. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching people near me sniffing and looking at the bottom of their shoes. Still, it was a good match. In the second half.

Anyway, in other news, that Q magazine carries a great article by Billy Bragg about how he'd almost given up on his son showing any interest in the guitar. That was until Guitar Hero 3 of course. Now his son's forming a band. How cool is that?
Talking of guitars, this one's still in my local music shop window. When I get my Christmas bonus, a moment of madness may overcome me and I shall probably end up buying the bloody thing. It'll be like the final scene of That'll Be the Day where David Essex goes in to buy his first electric guitar.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Songs that should NEVER be covered no.1

Oh dear. Those of a nervous disposition and small children should look away now. New Zealand, how could you do this to us after the genius of the Finn brothers and The Flight of the Conchords?

Friday, 7 November 2008

A chap called Dennis

I wrote last week about my affection for Brady Haran, the Australian 'video journalist' off of my local news programme. After doing a bit of digging, I can show you my favourite film of his, shown earlier this year and made in a village close to Newark. It's about a chap called Dennis and his History of Farming display in his back garden. It breaks my heart to watch it. Yes, this thing he's done isn't the best exhibit in the world, but who cares? It's his handiwork, which he's put years into and nobody, he thinks, wants to go and see it. Although to be fair, listening to him speak, his family have hardly encouraged him. What I love is the way he's used any old models he can get his hands on. He Man is seen messing around in some straw, one of his Masters of the Universe chums sits astride a tractor while a Pippa doll is completely out of scale on a giant horse riding through a farmyard. What I also love is the way he blows his nose whilst speaking to camera. And he pronounces the word 'make' quite correctly as 'meck'.
I feel like crying at the end when we see Dennis walking off into the distance. You see, underneath this cold, hard exterior beats a heart of marshmallow.
I really hope we don't see this on Russell Brand's Ponderland.