Friday, 30 January 2009

Disgustipated from Newark writes...

While browsing Statcounter just now I notice that someone's come to this blog by putting 'steve wright fat bastard' into Google. Which reminded me of this story I saw in the Mirror this week. Is that why his three hour daily twatcast is called The Big Show?
I also notice that someone's come here by Googling 'play van halen on ukulele', which makes my heart sing. In other Statcounter news, I'm still getting the usual Diane Keen pervs desperate to see her knockers and some misguided fool who thinks that Kate Thornton's started advertising yoghurts.

I had a letter published in the local paper today. Yes, I knew it would happen sooner rather than later that I'd start writing letters to the paper. Mind you, having said that, I actually know someone who writes letters to TV listings magazines complaining about the amount of swearing on TV and the amount of violence in Eastenders, and they pay him to do it. Bah!
Unfortunately, such is the crapness of the Newark Advertiser's website, they only put a selection of letters online, and mine didn't make the internet cut. It was in the paper under the heading 'No one knocks', so I'll leave it up to your imagination what it was about. They did seem fit to omit mine and put a letter in where some old fart, currently living in Spain, was reminiscing about Newark in the 60s and 70s.

Have a good weekend, and here's someone with too much time on their hands playing Van Halen's Eruption on the ukulele.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


...on a Luke Haines' tip. Here's a good article about the man from possibly the world's dullest newspaper, if you needed any more convincing to buy it that is.
I should be on commision...

Choose not to choose life

I watched a TV programme about Trainspotting the other night, and it reminded me how much I love that film. I remember seeing Shallow Grave at the cinema in about 1994, I think. It was one of the few times I've seen a film at the cinema more than once. I thought at the time that these people who made it must have a great future ahead of them as it was a British film that stood head and shoulders above all other British films at the time. In those days if you went to see a British film it usually meant a romantic comedy or a costume drama. Shallow Grave showed imagination with a great idea and young, relatively unknown actors. One of whom was Ewan McGregor. I was aware of him before because he'd been in Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar, and because of that I thought he was a Cockney. His performance in Shallow Grave was just ace.
I became aware of the people behind Shallow Grave making Trainspotting because I used to read Empire magazine (this was in the days when I was trying to impress women and had a large socialising circle so I used to go to the pictures a lot), and I'm sure it was some sort of news story in there. I'd read the book Trainspotting by that time and couldn't wait to see how they were going to put it on the big screen. My appetite was whetted further by this teaser trailer that was put into cinemas in the summer of 1995.

Well, after seeing that the excitement was to much to bear and there was still another six months before we'd see it. Even on that one minute trailer it looks brilliant.

Then it finally came out. I think I went to see it maybe three times, which was unheard of me and I think it's still a personal record. I just loved everything about it, the camera angles, the freeze frames, the captions, the acting, the amount of proper swearing, the fantasy sequences, the music, the black humour. Of course all the Daily Mail moralisers were up in arms about how it supposedly glorifies Class A drug abuse. It was quite obvious to me that none of them had actually seen it (so what's new?) as in the second half it clearly shows the down side of the 'H'. I was of the opinion at the time, and I still hold the opinion, that it should be shown in secondary schools as part of social education classes. Let ver kids make up their own minds and don't preach to them.
Back to the film, and there isn't one weak performance in it. McGregor, as Rent Boy, was everything you wanted him to be. Ewen Bremner as Spud was perfect casting. Robert Carlyle's Begbie was just like every pub thug you've ever met. Danny Lee Miller's Sick Boy had a cool swagger about him which is just what you want from the character.

And the best thing of all, and the reason I went to the pictures three times before the video came out? The opening titles. They're the best opening titles of any film ever. It hits you between the eyes from the second it starts, just hearing that drumbeat on Lust For Life brings me out in goosebumps. Strap yourselves in for this film, it will blow you away.

There's even a surprise appearance by Dale Winton.

What more can I say, I love it and I'm going to order the DVD right now.

Choose life. And remember, don't let your friends tie you to the railway track.

Celebrity loolalikes no.5

Founder member of Metallica but kicked out for his love of the sauce (which is a laugh) before they made it; Megadeth leader; recovering alcoholic and drug-abuser; drunken IRA-endorser and all round mardy arse Dave Mustaine.

Open-leg-piano-playing, been-messing-with-my-head-since-1992 weirdo Tori Amos.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Do you want TV that would make an imbecile weep?

Has anyone seen this show, Total Wipeout? It's total and utter cack on a level with Hole in the Wall, with which I think it may bear some relationship to as they're both based on Japanese formats. I know it's supposed to be a bit of Saturday evening fluff, but come on. It features Roy Castle lookalike Richard Hammond, a man seemingly incapable of turning anything down. His performance is the very definition of 'phoned-in' as its made pretty obvious he's not there, he just does links from a studio. He's not there because it's shot in Argentina, and obviously our Richard's so busy making adverts and doing PAs that he couldn't possibly have the inconvenience of flying to South America. That bit's left to the personality vacuum - and former squeeze of no.5 in my list of irritating TV men Patrick Kielty - that is Amanda Byram.
I suppose the idea is that it's supposed to be like It's a Knockout. But whereas IAK had a little bit of charm, this is like staring into an abyss of idiocy and shame. I felt dirty after being forced to watch it and needed a bath when I returned home. Can't they show a few Tom and Jery cartoons instead?
Having said that, I've always fancied South America, so I might apply for series two. And you just know there's going to be a series two.

Anyway, what is good news is that I've caught the teaser trailers for Channel 4's Red Riding series. It's based on the Red Riding quartet of books by David Peace. I'm glad they're dramatising them because I lost interest a bit halfway through reading book two, but according to online reviews this isn't uncommon and the books hit their stride by book three. Watching the TV series might push things on a bit for me. I hope they do them justice, because I've got serious doubts about the film adaptation of Peace's The Damned United. Who knows, it might be great (and I hope it is), but Timothy Spall's playing Brian Clough's right hand man Peter Taylor, and he'd better be phenomenally good at accents as Taylor had the thickest of thick Nottingham accents. I've never heard someone born outside Notts do a convincing Notts accent. Certainly not Sean Bean.

Monday, 26 January 2009

An English Booker T and the MGs

I'm currently reading a book I love so much that I don't want it to end. I'm now on page 169 of 243, and I know that at some point this week I'm going to finish it. It's called Bad Vibes by leader of Britpop's forgotten ones The Auteurs' Luke Haines. I don't know why I call them 'forgotten ones', I only know two Auteurs songs, and a further three songs that have been touched by the hand of Luke Haines in various guises*. The thing is, I treat him a bit like XTC, I love everything I've heard that he's been involved in but have never got round to really delving in to the catalogue. Which is funny because Haines looks a bit like Andy Partridge (another man who should write a book, he's very entertaining. I once heard him call Richard Branson 'Pol Pot with a beard').

It's his biography dealing with the period of his life from 1992-1997, "Britpop's" "glory" years. What I love about the book is the way it's written in an as-it-happens style, rather like last year's excellent, and entirely fictional Kill Your Friends (another book on my highly recommended list, and it's about the same time period too). I thought I was a misanthrope, Haines really does take the misanthropic cake. It's fair to say that during the period the book deals with he pretty much hates nearly everything, including: the term 'Britpop', Brett Anderson, Damon Albarn, Camden, the Gallaghers, the drummer from Pulp, northern Britain, The Verve, Belgium, The The's Matt Johnson, Simon Day aka Tommy Cockles, Manic Street Preachers, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, music journalists, Justine Frischmann, Three Lions, the NME. And that's just off the top of my head. And certain characters in the story are only known by Haines's own nicknames, so The Auteurs' cellist is simply known as The Cellist, and their American tour manager becomes known as The Chocolate Teapot due to his vocational shortcomings.

And you can't argue with writing like this which has made me roar with laughter:

"I think I may be turning into a cunt"

"Now it's fair to say that The Verve have got a bit of a cob on"

"The [Oasis] song in question is 'Whatever'. It sounds like the fucking Rutles. It is cack."

"Radiohead were - and this is pre the band's hand-wringing-conspiracy-theorising-meta-peacenik phase - rapidly turning into that most heinous of creatures: a heavy rock outfit, fright-wig and all. One wrong turn and it would have been into the valley of the Tygers of Pan Tang for good"

"Radiohead then, this lot were certainly being prodded with the Britpop tickling stick"

In my head that last sentence manifests itself with Ken Dodd wearing a Union Jack suit - and possibly a bass drum on his chest with the word 'Britpop' written in Goodies/Spangles/Magpie-style typeface - poking Radiohead's uber-miserabalist Thom Yorke with a red, white and blue tickling stick. Discomknockerating indeed.

Anyway, read it, you won't be disappointed.

*The songs I know by Haines:
There's also another song of his, the lyrics inspired by the book The Damned United, called Leeds United. It was released as a single but I can't find it on You Tube, I know it exists 'cos it's on my iPod.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Underneath the Archers

I've never really liked radio drama. I think this is because when I was very small I had the trauma of listening to something called Waggoner's Walk on Radio2 every day during Pete Murray's Open House show. I don't remember much about it apart from the the way there always seemed to be a lot of whisky decanters being clinked against whisky tumblers (they certainly drank a lot down Waggoner's Walk). I found out later that the actors couldn't even be arsed to learn their lines, they used to read straight from the script. Surely the least actors can do is be bothered to learn their lines? And the sound effects always bugged me because I'd listen and think to myself - after watching radio sound effects men seemingly every week on Jim'll Fix It - 'hmmm, that's someone walking on a tray of gravel.....yeah, that's a turn-handle thing which makes a noise like the wind...okay, that's not a full-size door, it's a little mini one...and that's the someone banging a jug of water against a bathroom tumbler, they always have to bang the jug against the glass, it's the sound effects man's law...'
So imagine my shock this week when I realised that I've started listening to The Archers. I was going through the dial at work the other night looking for something to listen to and up popped The Archers. It reminds me of when Emmerdale was called Emmerdale Farm in that absolutely nothing happens. Take Wednesday night's episode, it revolved around a family making some marmalade and hilarity ensued over a jam thermometer. The other storyline was about a lad teaching, what I presume to be his girlfriend, to drive. The whole thing, despite the lack of action, is strangely listenable. I thought it was going to get a bit interesting last night, someone was waiting for the test results to come back 'all clear'. What was that, a story involving the Big C or someone with a dose of gonorrhea? No, they were waiting for test results on bovine TB. Great! I love it when you watch or listen to some kind of serial and have absolutely no clue what's going on.
But where is Ambridge? The accents are all over the shop; one character, Ruth, has an accent that's part Scot, part Geordie and part Somerset. Unless her dad moved her around a lot as a child of course.
I've also taken to listening to Front Row, which is on directly after The Archers. The thing is Mark Lawson sometimes does it and I always find my enjoyment of Mark Lawson is tempered if I can't see his big jowly chops bobbing around every time he nods his head.

I dropped off to sleep at work again yesterday. For about 15 minuted this time. I'm seriously going to find myself at the source of a creek called Shit sans paddle if I get caught. Much as I hate my tedious job I really can't afford to lose it, especially with the jobs market the way it is. Perhaps it happens because I'm ill, didn't Arthur Lowe have that sleeping illness where he'd drop off to sleep mid-conversation? Or perhaps I'm like that green iPod-wearing triangle on the BUPA ad which keeps dropping off to sleep on the way to work. Or perhaps my job's so mind-numbingly boring at the minute I can't help myself. Who knows? It needs to stop, I know that much.

One of the few upsides of working shifts means that next week I'll be leaving work while most other people are still on their lunch breaks. I think I might go to the pictures in the afternoon next week. I might go and see that Frost/Nixon, despite Miachael Sheen. It's years since I've been to the pictures on a weekday afternoon, I'll probably be the only one there. Anyone care to join me? Thought not...

Here's a song which Radcliffe and Maconie played an updated and remixed version of last night. The updated version contains the line "Just because you have a blog doesn't make you a journalist". A genius piece of work in my book.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Uke can play too

Look at that bastard. The Red Destroyer. That's what I bought with some of my birthday cash. I know it's not the smartest in the world but it'll do until I learn how to play the thing, then I'll upgrade to something like this beast. I got that one because I thought I'd support local business and got it from a shop in town and that was the only one they had, unless I wanted it in pink or turquoise. The man said I could go for lessons if I wanted but I think that just might have been an excuse to get me alone in a room to touch my bum. I daren't tell him I'd bought a tutor manual and CD off the internet.
The problem is that you tell people you have a ukulele and the following discussion always ensues:

Assorted Tosspots: "What did you get for your birthday?"
Me: after reeling off a list of presents "...and I bought myself a ukulele out of the cash"
AT: "Wo-hoa, you like George Formby then?
Me: "Not really, besides, he played a banjo ukulele..."
AT: (singing) "I'm leaning on a lampost at the corner of the street...."
Me: "...mine's a guitar ukulele..."
AT: (in George Formby voice) "He-hee, turned out nice again..."
Me: "No, no, it's not a banjo ukulele"
AT: (singing again) "...when I'm cleaning winderz..."
Me: "It's. Not. A. Fucking. Banjo. Ukulele!"
AT: "All right, calm down, Jesus, I never even go the gag in about Little sticks of Blackpool rock"
Me: "Piss off"

So, as you can see, having a ukulele isn't easy, it's tossers at every twitch and turn.
Mind you, if it's good in enough for Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, it's good enough for me. Who knows, one day I may be good enough to join this excellent set up, and perform this little heartbreaker at The Albert Hall.

In other news, I notice that yesterday was 'the most historic day in the world ever'. That is the most historic day in the world ever since he got elected last November. The thing is, what if Obama's rubbish? How many disappointed people in the world are there going to be? It seems like a lifetime ago now that we had our own massive disappointment. Anyone remember May 1st 1997?
I was talking to my gig-going chum about the inauguration last night, he told me that security was so tight that "they've had to call in the Home Guard". I can just imagine a portly old gentleman asking to be excused because he needed the toilet and could he not have to stand for so long because his gout was playing up. Gig-going chum's that daft that when I told him I had a uke, he thought it was the hot new Xbox game. "Oh, I thought it was like Guitar Hero but for ukuleles" he droned. Yeah, Ukulele Hero, you numpty. Mind you, I'd buy it...

The most historic thing for me yesterday was that Derby County got knocked out of the Carling Cup. How unfortunate for them that they're going to get knocked out of two cup competitions in the same week.
Oh, and I dropped off to sleep at work yesterday. I just thought I'd close my eyes for a few moments. Next thing it's five minutes later. That's the power of Steve Wright in the Afternoon for you playing shedloads of patriotic American music. If I'd been caught I think I'd have been in rather a lot of bother. They should give me more to do, shouldn't they?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Here is the news

Have you seen the news recently? I mean have you seen the news recently? What's happened to it? It's turned into The Day Today. I say this because I watched last night's 10 O'Clock news on BBC1 with my jaw on the floor. This style of news presenting must have slowly crept up on me and last night tapped me on the shoulder, or I've been watching the news like a cabbage for the past few years (I'd go for the latter if I were you).
For a start, I said a few months ago that Robert Peston looked like David Tennant. Well it would seem that he wants some acting work too. He was on last night banging on about the government giving banks loads more of our cash, and he was completely over the top all the way through, like someone desperately trying to impress a casting director. He loves dishing out not very good news, in fact, I reckon it gives him an erection.
Then we moved onto the not very exciting news that Ken Clarke's moving to the Tory front bench (well, not very exciting when you consider that it's been on the cards for weeks. But very exciting if, like me, you're a Ken Clarke fan, email me for details). This warranted that slaphead Nick Robinson to talk to the studio live from Millbank Tower? Why? a)I thought Millbank was Labour's head office b) why did he need to go there to do his bit to studio and c)was there any need for a chat to studio?
So I propose some changes to TV news:

  • Stop all rolling 24 hour news channels. They're not needed and they're all about padding. Who watches them anyway? If people need to see the news headlines then use Ceefax.

  • Go back to one newsreader to sit behind a desk reading the news with a few filmed reports where necessary.

  • Stop Robert Peston.

  • Put Susanna Reid on the 10 O'Clock news because she makes me go all funny. And she has a twinkle in her eye that lets us know that she's thinking what we're thinking.

  • Stop over complicating it. I once heard a journalist talking, can't remember who it was, but he said that when at journalism training school they teach you how to do a 'breaking' news report in six words. eg "Goole: Train crash. Many feared dead." That'll do. Why worry us with the details?

Those bastards should put me in charge.

Oh, and while on the subject of last night's news, they showed Springsteen and a gospel choir playing at some party at the Washington monument. It was supposed to be a celebration. Not with that worthy bastard there it wasn't. If I was Obama I'd be asking where The Temptations were with their matching suits, co-ordinated dance routines and cracking Motown numbers. And to top it all I'd have had a huge party cake wheeled on with Tina Turner jumping out in a tiny frock singing Proud Mary or Nutbush City Limits with an all-star band, including the now obigatory Jimmy Page and Ringo Starr, backing her. Now that's a party. Not "Mary got pregnant and I couldn't find a job so we lived in a trailer yada yada yada".

By the way, I was in The National Gallery yesterday. Yeah, get me. If you've never been before, pop along, it's ace. It's like a Greatest Hits of painting. It's free to get in and you could quite easily spend a day in there if you wanted. It's got all the hits: The Sunflowers! Water Lilies! The Fighting Temeraire! The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist! Anyway, I don't pretend to be any kind of great art expert - although I love galleries - but there does come a time in every trip to a gallery where I start stroking my chin. I love the way you can get right up to paintings and look at the brushstrokes and know that Da Vinci or Van Gogh had been standing in front of that canvas too. I was just about to enter chin-stroking mode while looking at the detail on a boy's hat in Seurat's Bathers at Asnières, when I became aware of a woman's presence at the side of me. I was just lost in the detail when she shouted "Will you please stop picking your nose!" I thought she was talking to me and immediately put my hands in my pockets. Turns out she had a small child on the other side. Took me right out of chin-stroking mode, that did. Thank God.

The good thing about London is that it's good for celebrity-spotting. I'm thinking of ringing the 3 AM girls Spotted! section in the Mirror. But I'll share it with you: Spotted! Buzzcocks' host Simon Amstell walking in the front door of the National Theatre. Spotted! Bradley Walsh in the audience for Oliver! Okay, neither are that impressive but when I told my mother about Amstell she said "You should have told him to stop being so bloody cheeky."

Thursday, 15 January 2009

More random stuff

Is this man, Hardeep Singh Kohli, the most annoying man on British television? I think so. I'm getting fed-up of his I'm-trying-to-look-and-sound-slightly-bored-with-this routine nearly every fucking night on The One Show. He's not funny, even though he thinks he's a scream. And if I hear him say 'Hardeep is your love' once more then I'm going to call the constabulary; yes, it probably was slightly amusing the first time he thought of it, but we've heard it so many times. One of the Bee Gees is on The One Show tonight so it'll be 'Hardeep is your love' overload. I even gather it's the name of his column in a Scottish newspaper. He threw a complete mard on Celebrity Apprentice and he looks like the sort of person who runs into a kilt at any opportunity. Fuck off.
Shame, because I quite like his brother.

A couple of redundancies were announced at work this week. Now I don't mean to cast aspersions on the management, but I hope they're not using the recession as a means of lopping off a bit of dead wood. They can use that as an excuse for getting rid of anyone, can't they? I say that because they're both not very good at their jobs, for which they get paid rather a lot.
I don't mean to make light of redundancy, it's horrible, but it'd be even worse in my job because every time the management want to communicate to the staff they do so on notices printed with the font Comic Sans. I hate Comic Sans. Why's it called that? It's never made me laugh. And how would you feel if you got your notice in Comic Sans? I'd rather get it in Dingbats.
The notices on the noticeboard are all printed in Comic Sans. eg: "It's been brought to management's attention that there is graffiti in the male toilets. The company WILL NOT accept graffiti or the defacing of company property. Please note that any member of staff caught leaving graffiti will face disciplinary action". All in Comic Sans. How are we supposed to take that seriously? You'd expect it to read, in Comic Sans "Some twat's have been drawing their knobs on the bog walls again. Please stop as the drawings are quite obviously not to scale."

Another thing, the latest TV ad for Microsoft Windows - where people stand around going "I'm a PC" - has the tagline at the end "Upload yourself". Which sounds to me like an insult, like a cross between "up yours" and "go fuck yourself." So, upload yourself, Microsoft.

Celebrity lookalikes no.4

Ex-X Factor presenter, ex-Smash Hits editor and all round bland-as-magnolia-paint TV prezzener Kate Thornton.

Former Lara Croft model and current face of bloatedness-busting yoghurt Activia, Nell McAndrew.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Now that's what I call mint condition

I notice that today EMI are re-releasing the original Now! That's What I Call Music on CD to mark its 25th anniversary, which was, er, last year. That's my copy in the photo, in all its 1983 Phil Collins and spiky hair glory, and, according to this article, original Now albums are collector's items. Which leads me to the Mark and Lard question "Is it worth owt? It's mint".
They say that this Mr Abram can't be influenced. So how does he explain that Kajagoogoo appear twice on Now! 1? Big Apple anyone? Thought not.
I was bought that by my parents for Christmas after they sent my sister out to get it for me. I seem to remember asking for the Saturday Superstore compilation album because it had The Icicle Works' Love is a Wonderful Colour on it, but she bought Now! "Cos it's better". I wonder how much those Saturday Superstore albums are fetching now? Are they worth owt? Hmm, I wonder...

A journey through time and space

So The Mighty Boosh then. It kind of worked in an arena because they're sort of rock 'n' roll. I must say that this new live show wasn't as good as the first one. As TMB has took off then obviously their audience has expanded massively and, to keep the rock thing going, it was more of a greatest hits set.
People go on about how they're the new Monty Python, what with the mix of the surreal, songs and animation, but after Saturday night comparisons to Morecambe and Wise struck me. Let me explain: they're obviously a traditional double act - one's 'with it' and plays to the crowd while the other gets exasperated by his shenanigans; there's a reliance on the comedic effect of a big pair of comedy curtains; part two featured the straight man desperate to stage a serious play. See? It all adds up.
What I love the most about TMB is the homemade aesthetic of the whole thing. Some of it bordering on being a bit rubbish and we're in on the joke.
I also loved the dressing up by audience members, one woman going as a naan bread. Genius.
An animation at the end was pretty groovy too, it was a stop/go job made from Smarties and Licorice Allsorts.
What I didn't love about Saturday was there was far too much Rich 'look at me!' Fulcher, and nowhere near enough Naboo and Bollo.
What I also learned is that going to comedy on your own is useless. Thing is, I don't know anyone else who 'gets' TMB. Philistines.

And there was a guy sitting behind me who, during the pre-concert build-up and interval let the biggest stream of bullshit loose from his gob. He never paused for breath. Why is it that the people with the least to say have the loudest voices?
eg "Yeah, I think I'm just gonna go to university and get some really random mate's wife's gonna get us tickets for ManU/Inter, she knows I'm a real hardcore ManU fan if she can't get those she's gonna get ManU/Portsmouth she's also trying to get tickets for Derby/Forest in the FA Cup there'll be fighting...yeah, that woman down there could do with losing some weight off her fat arse"
Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP! I don't know if he realised this, but he was saying all that out loud. Wanker. I hope he doesn't get tickets for those football matches because he sounds like the worst kind of nu-fan. And if he does get tickets for Derby/Forest in the FA Cup, and, in the very unlikely event that there is fighting, I hope a Derby fan kicks his fucking head in.


Friday, 9 January 2009

Sugar-flavoured snot

I've just been eating my dinner while watching telly just now (yeah, get me the posh bastard), and I saw an advert for this. Who in their right minds sits there and thinks "Hmm, do you know what, I could really do with every episode of The Little House on the Prairie just in case of emergencies. Then my life would be complete. And the thing is it'd be even lovelier if they could build up week by week as an amazing partwork complete with behind-the-scenes magazine."
I think G E Fabbri need to have a word with their marketing department though. The ad was shown during a break in last night's Dexter, not exactly a shared audience I would have thought. Unless, of course, there's an episode of TLHOTP I didn't see that featured a mad serial killer kidnapping Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon before killing them, dismembering their bodies and throwing the bits, in binliners, into the river in Walnut Creek as part of some retribution killings for crimes against wholesome entertainment.
I await The Waltons DVD Collection with baited breath. Hopefully issue 1 will come with complimentary John Boy mole to stick on your face.

Random stuff

One of my favourite sayings at the minute is 'don't let light in on the magic'. I wish I'd remembered that before I asked for Frank Skinner's latest book for Christmas. I've read it and realised that I don't particularly like him anymore. The book is a journal of his thoughts over a period of about three months. In essence it's a blog in book form. He might as well have called it I *heart* Catholicism, He bangs on about it an awful lot, but neatly tends to sidestep any issues like The Vatican's attitude to homosexuality or the Pope not sanctioning the use of condoms in Africa to help combat HIV.
Skinner also appears not to be a very nice person, which is a huge disappointment to me. I know he's not the most ground-breaking of comedians, but I've always thought he was 'one of us' ie someone who'd had a proper job before finding comedic success. In the book you find out that he's not very tolerant of people and takes to despising his tour manager, a man just trying to make the best of them being in close proximity with each other for weeks on end. Oh, and his girlfriend would do my swede in too.
Anyroad, if you like Skinner don't buy it, and if you don't like Skinner it'll only reinforce your opinion.

Why is this news? Much as the the papers like to keep telling us about so-called 'Broken Britain', the vast majority of people are hard-working, kind, good-natured and helpful. I don't know about where you live but it's not very often I leave my front door without sharing a small joke or swapping a 'mornin'/af'noon/ay-up' with at least one complete stranger or passing acquaintance. Just yesterday I had a laugh with a woman in WH Smith who came to me to ask if I could reach a copy of US Vogue for her. If you believe the papers you'd be forgiven for thinking that she'd be too frightened to approach me for fear of being stabbed-up while I urinated on her and filmed the whole thing on my mobile phone.
Besides, how often do you drive around the country and see honesty boxes at the end of farm tracks or outside someone's gate selling eggs, windblown apples, bags of horseshit etc?

I'm going to see The Mighty Boosh Live tomorrow night. I'm not sure about comedy in arenas. Truth be told I only got the tickets because they were on special offer. I think they're having trouble shifting them because the Nottingham Trent Hef Hem Arena phoned me over Christmas to tell me I was being moved closer to the stage, and I got an email yesterday to say they were offering 50 pairs of tickets in a free competition. I suppose they'd already played three sold-out shows there two months ago, no one wants to go again. No doubt I'll be the only one there in jeans and a big coat.
I really don't like cricket, but I find this whole Kevin Pietersen thing fascinating. Not least because it makes cricket look stupid and all those superior duffers at the MCC who look down their noses at football are in agony. Tee and indeed hee. My favourite quote comes from one of the BBC's cricket men, Jonathan Agnew: "Pietersen's the sort of man who'd join the navy so the world could see him." Brilliant, I'll have to remember that.

Walking around Sainsbury's this morning, Marillion's Garden Party wouldn't leave my head. Dunno why. I can never remember in which order the 'I'm beagling, I'm punting, I'm wining reclining' bit comes. I've had a soft spot for it ever since Wham, who were guest reviewers of the singles, mercilessly slagged it off in Smash Hits in 1983. Your enemy's enemy is your best friend, and I've got a long memory. You can have a look at the video if you like while I desperately try and get myself off the prog tip I'm on at the minute, mind you, watching this video isn't going to help. One for the teenagers. Not.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Show me the man and I'll show you the boy

I don't know what's wrong with me but I appear to be regressing into childhood (yeah, like I'd ever progressed into adulthood). I say this because two things that I previously thought were only for children, I've suddenly gained an interest in.

The first is in comics. Now I've never hid my light under a bushel as regard anything by the great DC Thompson or IPC, I'm talking about stuff like Marvel or DC. Not that I'm particularly into superhero stuff, but I watched the film version of Alan Mooore's V for Vendetta over Christmas and really enjoyed it. I love anything that portrays Britain as a totalitarian state. Especially one that has John Hurt as its leader. So I'm thinking that I may actually buy some of Alan Moore's comics. Or graphic novels as I believe we must now call them. In fact we must because I bought Ghost World from an Edinburgh branch of Borders in the summer and when walking out I set the alarms off. The guy who served me came rushing from behind the counter and said, in a loud voice, "It must be your comic, they don't always scan properly!" Great, cheers, mate, now everyone thinks I'm a) a man with the mental capacity of an eight year-old or b) some kind of comics anorak.

I've had a soft spot for Ghost World for some time now, ever since I saw the film of it a few years ago. I never realised until recently it was based on a comic, ahem, sorry, graphic novel. In case you haven't seen it it's about two intelligent late teenage girls being bored in a small town that can't contain them and the cast of weirdos they meet. I've always found the kind of people who fancy cartoon characters slightly worrying (especially my sister who fancies a character from King of the Hill called Boomhauer. A man who speaks in an indecipherable Texan drawl). But I think I fancy the two girls from Ghost World (or do I just fancy Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch who starred in the film?), and should I be worried that I fancy two 17 year-old American girls, as a 37 year-old man, that is? Never mind, I could always email Lily Allen's new squeeze and ask him I suppose...

The other thing I've got myself interested in is electronic gaming. Never appealed before until Guitar Hero, so this Christmas I treated myself to an Xbox 360. But it didn't stop at the latest incarnation of GH, no, I've gone and got something called Grand Theft Auto IV. I've started playing it and I haven't got a clue what's going on. I know you're supposed to nick cars. I've got that far, I know how to steal the cars, you just walk up to one and press the 'Y' button. But I don't know what happens once inside the car. I tend to just drive it around and avoid the 'cops'. Someone at work told me you have to follow a radar or summat. I dunno...

There's also a lot of effing 'n' jeffing on it too. You only have to walk past someone on the street and you get called a 'motherfucker' or somesuch. Apparently there's a strip club to visit somewhere in the game. No doubt, on my current fancying-cartoon-characters form, I'll end up crying myself to sleep over one of the sodding CGI strippers.

I'll keep you posted on how I get on with it. I'm hoping to get Call of Duty: World at War for my birthday. In which you can bayonet stormtroopers of the Third Reich and throw flames at soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific campaign. Top.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

To cut a reformation short, I lost my mind

Of course one of the things I love about working late shift is that I can listen to Radcliffe & Maconie on Radio2 of an evening. I tuned in last night for the first time in ages and it really is a show full of delight. What a musical selection: The Yardbirds, Split Enz, David Bowie, Rush (yay!), The Divine Comedy, Nick Lowe, Marvine Gaye, Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, Lily Allen and Iggy Pop, amongst others, all got an airing last night. As well as a three song set by Adrian Edmondson's band, The Bad Shepherds. They play folk covers of punk and new wave songs; last night's set featured songs by The Clash (even an anti-Clash fan like me got a load of enjoyment from hearing I Fought the Law on the uilleann pipes and bodhran), Kraftwerk and Wreckless Eric.
I know I bang on about the R&M show sometimes but they really are worth listening to if you're disenchanted with the telly of an evening.

The R&M show last night mentioned this story about Spandau Ballet getting back together. I keep banging on about 80s reformations too, but why do this? Everybody knows that Hadley and Gary Kemp hate each other so it's so nakedly about earning loadsa cash it makes me sick. Here's the most telling quote from that small article: "It would be a great, fun comeback and very lucrative for the band." Just take out the words 'great' and 'fun' and you're getting there. No doubt the fortysomething fans'll be queueing up for tickets. Don't go, you're only encouraging them.
I'll give Hadley the same advice I gave Midge Ure a month or so ago: don't do it Tony - you can be crap on your own without four other kilted and tartan-tea-towelled-bedecked mongs as well.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Cat's foot iron claw pt.2

A couple of things I forgot from the earlier post:

Re decent Christmas telly, I forgot about BBC4s Crooked House. Three half hour ghost stories written by The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss, all based in the same house down the ages. Shows that you can use your imagination without resorting to flares-wearing robots or Mackenzie Crook wearing a false nose made from an old Corn Flakes box.

And regarding Prog Rock Britannia, has anyone at BBC4 got the gumption to commision Heavy Metal Britannia? Go on BBC4, you proved you can do a good documentary about music that constantly gets derided over the weekend. It's long overdue.

Cat's foot iron claw

Hello, happy new year and all that bollocks. I suppose I'd better start easing my way back into this blogging thing.
I'm back working shifts at work for the next few months and I'm trying not to get back addicted to the internet. Over Christmas I went for five days without switching on the PC, which was quite a liberating experience. I only switched it on after five days to check email and download some music. Mind you, having said all that I'll probably end up posting three times a day, or something ridiculous.

Anyway, telly over Christmas was largely crap. I happened to see the Christmas Day Doctor Who. Oh dear, that's an hour of my life I won't get back. I'm tried with Doctor Who, I really have, but that'll probably be the last time I intentionally watch it. And those Wallace and Gromit Christmas idents on BBC1 started way too early and went on for way too long.
Some highlights:
The Peter Serafinowicz Show - I recall blogging about his 2007 series being slightly disappointing. The special over Christmas was a joy though, every sketch a winner. Especially the David Attenborough spoof that had a spider that made it's web from tinsel and had a bumble bee on its way to a Christmas party trapped in it. Oh, and a stoned Terry Wogan doing Points of View.
The Generation Game 1973 Christmas Special - very funny, but not just in a 'ooh look at the haircuts!' kind of way. Forsyth at the top of his game. And you can't argue with a show that features Frankie Howerd pulling his pants out of his arse crack and saying 'Let me get myself comfy', that horrid old witch Fanny Craddock and a fella who does the old tablecloth trick. Top prizes too - weighing scales for a lady, a drill for a man, an electric toothbrush for a winning finalist and a Trinitron portable telly it took two blokes to carry out (the screen was a bout 14" but the cabinet was a cumbersome mahogany affair).

And I have to say that I've enjoyed BBC4's short Prog Rock this last weekend. What a refreshing change it made to see a serious non-sneary or tongue-in-cheek documentary on the subject. I know it's not the easiest music in the world to love and I also know it sometimes took itself way too seriously, but it deserves recognition. Three minor quibbles with it: 1) I think they should have got Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp to be talking heads. Isn't it funny how Fripp allowed himself to be interviewed by GMTV when his missus was on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! but not when someone wants to ask him about music? 2) Too much about ELP. A dreadful band, even though Lake and Emerson's previous bands were shit hot. Old roadies' adage: "There are three things you don't need on tour - earache, toothache and Greg Lake" 3) All the previous Music Britannia docos have bought come right up to date. Watching that you'd be forgiven for thinking it ended in 1976 - wither Radiohead, Muse, Porcupine Tree, Pure Reason Revolution, Diagonal etc?

Genuinely scary: