Wednesday 31 December 2008

New Year's Eve 2008

Here are Sophie and James, braving the icy wastes of Rodborough Common, Stroud, 31/12/08.
All together now ( In the words of the Mighty Boosh ) : " Ice floe, nowhere to go / Ice floe, nowhere to go..."

Soundtrack: chattering teeth.

TV 2008

Just been watching TOTP2 which, amongst a load of '80's crap, featured Voodoo Chile by Hendrix (RIP Mitch Mitchell), This Could Be The Last Time by The Stones, Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, Don't You Want Me by The Human League and Springsteen's new song, Working On A Dream. Good stuff. Before that we watched the revived Shooting Stars which had a few moments but was mostly pretty weak, and it didn't help that most of the guests were complete non-entities. And before that we watched some of Series One of The Mighty Boosh: mod wolves, Polar bears singing Gary Numan songs, Black Frost (brrr!) and other assorted madness. Anyway, I've already done Songs of 2008, so now it's time for TV:

Doctor Who:
Of course, for me, this was programme of the year, as it has been since 2005. I think Series Four was pretty consistent, with no let-downs like The Long Game or Fear Her to slow the momentum. Partners In Crime and the Sontaran two-parter were the weakest stories, but even they had their share of great moments and performances. And when you're talking performances, you're talking Catherine Tate. I thought she was great as Donna: a layered and often surprising character, not the one-dimensional loudmouth a lot of people had expected. She wasn't there to make doe-eyes at The Doctor, but to challenge him as well as to share the joys of space and time. David Tennant was fine as ever, especially in Midnight which was a real tour de force. The Unicorn And The Wasp was a good laugh, The Doctor's Daughter was a proper science fiction idea wrapped up in an adventure story ( not forgetting the gorgeous Georgia Moffett ), The Fires Of Pompeii gave us stunning effects and tough moral questions, the Library two-parter was another triumph for The Moff, and the finale was as mad and mind-boggling as new Who gets. Particularily nice to see all those old characters ( Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha, Mickey, Jackie ) brought back and all given a part to play, not just a walk-on. Oh, and Davros too: a real I Can't Believe It's Not Butter performance from Julian Bleach, effortlessly stepping into the shoes (?) of the insane scientist. Now all we have to do is wait for the DVD Box-set to come down in price in the sales: £54? I don't think so.

Another great series, doing what it does best: tense, exciting espionage dramas with characters you care for and scarily topical storylines. It was good to see Jo survive last series' cliffhanger, even though Adam Carter was killed off. ( A fact that seemed inevitable as soon as Richard Armitage's character arrived. Meet the replacement.) Now poor old Harry  has saved the country yet again but has been kidnapped by the Russian secret service. Roll on Series 8!

The Devil's Whore:
Peter Flannery's drama set during the English Civil War. A top quality series from the writer who brought us the classic Our Friends In The North. It makes a change to see a story with such an under-exploited setting; there seems to be an endless stream of dramas set in the Victorian, Tudor and Jane bloody Austen periods, so this violent and politically turbulent time is ripe for showing us a different side to our own history. A meaty role for John Simm as a battle-scarred mercenary who switches allegiances during the wars and falls in love with Andrea Risborough as Lady Fanshawe, a noblewoman turned adventuress. Also fine performances from Peter Capaldi as Charles I and Dominic West as Cromwell.

Little Dorrit:
This year's big BBC Dickens adaptation. Slow to start and not quite as involving as Bleak House, this was still must-see TV, mostly for its stellar cast: Claire Foy (Amy Dorrit), Eve Myles, Freema Agyeman (yay!), Maxine Peak, Mathew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay, Andy Serkis, Russell Tovey, Bill Paterson, the list goes on. The lovely Claire Foy and ex-Spook Mathew Macfadyen had the hardest jobs: making interesting viewing out of characters so teeth-rottingly nice you would have wanted to strangle them if they were in the hands of lesser actors. Well worth staying the distance, although the welter of revelations in the last episode was confusing. Best read the book.

Lead Balloon:
Jack Dee's vanity project sitcom, or is it? I actually think it's really underrated. Dee is perfect asRick Spleen, the miserable git comedian who always winds up in trouble ( in true sitcom style) due to his own selfishness and vanity. There are a lot of low-key, witty lines if not many belly-laughs, and the rest of the regular cast are spot-on too, especially Racquel Cassidy as Rick's wife, Mel.

Saturday teatime monsters and magic. James and I both got into this show. Lots of adventure, sword-fights, mythical creatures, some good jokes, and some eye-candy in the shape of Michelle Ryan and the girl who plays Morgana. Some liberties taken with the myths, but then they are only myths, so some reinvention doesn't hurt. And the lad who plays Merlin, Colin Morgan, is a star in the making.

Heroes Series 3 is starting to lose my attention: Series 2 was mostly tedious and they seem to have over-compensated this time by having endless, nonsensical plot twists and characters swapping sides constantly, until you don't know who's with who, who's dead, who's alive etc.  A bit of a mess, unfortunately. Channel Four's Big Brother/Zombie comedy/drama Dead Set was good, but gross, fun  -  although not as innovative as they seemed to think it was. I've already mentioned Survivors in a previous post, it was pretty good and improved throughout the run, ending on a big, dramatic cliffhanger. Hopefully it'll get a second series.

Monday 29 December 2008

And the nominations go to... part 2

Yes, I did forget a track from my Best Songs of 2008, duuh! And it's:

MIA: Paper Planes. ( The Straight To Hell sample caught my attention, of course, but it's a cracking track apart from that, with a storming vocal.)

Sunday 28 December 2008

And the nominations go to...

As it's nearly the end of the year it must be time for The Best Of 2008. Everybody else is doing it, so let's jump on the bandwagon. We'll start with Songs Of The Year...

Indie/rock/whatever :
The Ting Tings: Great DJ, That's Not My Name, Shut Up And Let Me Go ( Great pop songs, bags of punk attitude, the gorgeous Katie White, top band. )
Kaiser Chiefs: Never Miss A Beat ( Still love The Kaisers. )
Kings Of Leon: Sex On Fire ( First song of theirs that ever really grabbed me. )
Oasis: Shock Of The Lightning ( Occasionally they can remind you of how great they once were. )
MGMT: Kids ( Love the retro keyboard sounds! )

Here come the girls:
Katy Perry: I Kissed A Girl ( A guilty pleasure. )
Gabriella Cilmi: Sweet About Me ( Likewise. )
Leona Lewis: Run ( Forget Snow Patrol! Serious shivers up the spine. )
Girls Aloud: The Promise ( Yes, really!)
Rihanna: everything she's done this year, can't remember them all, it's all good.
Ladyhawke: My Delirium ( A great '80s flashback, and a brilliant cover of Britney's Womaniser on Radio 1. )
Florence And The Machine: Dog Days Are Over ( Just getting into this, reminds me of Siouxsie. )

Bands I'm not really a fan of, but who have done something good:
Keane: ( bloody Keane!) The Lovers Are Losing, Spiralling
The Feeling: I Thought It Was Over
Snow Patrol: Take Back The City

Not a bad selection. There's probably a load more I've forgotten. I just have to mention that I quite like Kanye West's strange new '80s/vocoder direction on songs like Love Lockdown and Heartless.  And in a retro vein, I got The Clash Live At Shea Stadium for Christmas ( from Sarah's Nan! ) and it ROCKS!!

Friday 26 December 2008


So, that was Christmas Day. Another blur of presents, chocolate, turkey ( well, chicken ) and TV. The kids were up at about 7:30 but we didn't struggle our way downstairs till about 9:00, after being up until 2:00 in the a.m. Much unwrapping of goodies and scoffing of chocs ( I like that word "scoffing", sounds positively boarding-school darling ). Hero, the Main Mog, had his first taste of Christmas and had a great time scooting about through all the discarded wrapping-paper etc. Sarah gave me, amongst other presents, The DC Vault, the "Museum In A Box" follow-up to The Marvel Vault: a history of the comics company with accompanying facsimilies of old promo material, fan-club items etc. Loads of great reading there. As well as other stuff, I gave her The Mighty Boosh series 1-3 on DVD and Daphne DuMaurier's Enchanted Cornwall, a coffee-table book featuring the writer's autobiography along with tons of great photos of Cornwall. Mum came over for lunch and we all pigged out, as is customary.

And, of course, it was finally time for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Next Doctor. It's funny how this has become a virtual Christmas institution in the space of only 4 years. Smaller in scale than last year's Titanic In Space blow-out, this was a fun and occasionally moving adventure, showcasing the chemistry between Davids Tennant and Morrissey. It gave us a full-on Dickensian backdrop, a Cyberslaughter in a snowy churchyard, Dervla Kirwan as a femme fatale, the "Next" Doctor's tragic secret and the rise of the Cyberking, which definitely made James's Christmas: Cyber-Transformers? And we learned the next special's title: Planet Of The Dead. Sounds good,, The Dead Planet anyone? Oh, yeah - in a flashback-of-sorts we saw glimpses of all of the Doctor's previous incarnations, going right back to Hartnell and including Paul McGann - yay! Merry bloody Christmas!

Soundtrack: Theologians, Wilco.
Lost On Yer Merry Way, Grandaddy.
And loads of Christmas songs throughout the day from The Pogues, Bruce Springsteen, Slade, Wizzard, Elton John, Jonah Lewie, Bing Crosby (!), The Wombles (!!) - you know the titles.

Thursday 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas from Bedford Falls

As there's been no decent Christmas films on telly today, we dusted down the Frank Capra box-set and stuck It's A Wonderful Life in the DVD player. It goes without saying that this is one of the all-time classic Hollywood movies. Many ( sad, deluded and bitter) people think it too sentimental and corny, but that's just wrong. ( No fence-sitting here!) The main character, George Bailey as played by James Stewart, faces a seemingly-endless series of tragedies and disappointments and ultimately contemplates suicide, before realising how much he means to his loved ones and deciding to live. Jimmy Stewart gives a totally convincing performance of a man at the end of his tether; a performance which grounds the potentially sickly-sweet themes of family and divine intervention which run through the film. There's also a lot of humour in the film, from the broad-stroke characters like Clarence and Uncle Billy, to the more subtle interchanges between James Stewart and Donna Reed. Anyway, It's A Wonderful Film, and it wouldn't seem like Christmas without it.

Soundtrack: Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight, James Stewart and Donna Reed.

Holding out for a Hero.

Here's our main moggie, Hero, crashed out after a hard day climbing on rooftops, jumping over fences etc. One year old 24/12/08, Happy Birthday Hero!

Sunday 14 December 2008

Dandy Wolves.

Just got back from The Dandy Warhol's gig at Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall. I went with Glenn, who drove (cheers mate!) 'cos my car is still in the garage feeling poorly. It took us a while to find the venue and the band were already on stage when we got there - doors open at 6:00! - but I don't think we missed much. A great gig. The Dandy's are one of those bands who are so much better live than they are on record. A big, warm, sexy sound and a too cool for school image, a bit arty at times but no worse for that. They played the big hits - Bohemian Like You, Every Day Should Be A Holiday, Get Off, Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth - and other great songs like Godless and Horse Pills. No encore, unfortunately. After being serenaded in the cloakroom queue by some bloke singing Joy Division's Transmission, we left the venue at the ridiculously early time of 9:45 (!) and went to a nearby pub for lager and whiskey and old skool indie music - can't be bad. Nice to see Glenn, we don't get together enough. This gig was my birthday present to myself, as it's now the morning of the 14th of December and I have reached the age of the meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything, 42. Time to change my profile...
Soundtrack: Little Drummer Boy, Dandy Warhols. ( Played tonight because it's Christmas. Don't watch the video on YouTube, it's seriously scary. You have been warned.)

Friday 12 December 2008

Things that make you go "Aaaaaaarrrrrghhh!!!!!"

I don't know about people, but they certainly eat into your bank account. After paying the local Renault dealer £70 last week to not fix my car, I'm taking it to another garage tomorrow to see what they can do. Hopefully they can sort it so it has a bit more power than an arthritic snail and doesn't churn out fumes like a 007 gadget car's smokescreen. And this is after all of Keith's attempts to fix it on the cheap for me. Old cars: can't live with them, can't drive them off a cliff for the insurance money and live to tell the tale.

Soundtrack: I Get Along, The Libertines
That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate, Mission Of Burma

Tuesday 9 December 2008

...and when Bagpuss wakes up, all his friends wake up too.

A sad day: the legendary Oliver Postgate has died, aged 83. Along with puppeteer and artist Peter Firmin, Postgate created such children's telly classics as Noggin The Nog, Ivor The Engine, The Clangers and, of course, Bagpuss. Their best creations still stand up today despite, or because of, their simplicity and lack of sophistication, compared to today's more flashy programmes. They had a charm and gentle humour which endeared them to millions, and a distinctly British point of view, not to mention Postgate's wonderful narration.

Each generation will say that their cherished TV programmes were the best and subsequent efforts were not as good. But I do think that British kids' telly enjoyed a Golden Age from the late '60s to mid 70's, when creators had a certain degree of talent and control over their work which is lacking in today's demographic-chasing climate. As well as the output of Postgate and Firmin's Smallfilms, there were also such quirky classics as Mister Benn, Fingerbobs, the Anglo-French Magic Roundabout and the Trumpton/Chigley/Camberwick Green metropolis. We also had a surprising amount of "telefantasy" serials such as Children Of The Stones, The Changes, Sky, King Of The Castle etc. Oh, and a certain Doctor. Whatever happened to him?

To get back to Oliver Postgate and co. I've recently discovered, through the magic of YouTube, an old b&w series called Pingwings, which had all the charm and warmth of their later, more successful series. I'm not viewing this through any nostalgic haze because it was before my time, but the homespun quality still shines through. Even my kids, reared on a diet of Teletubbies and Tracy bloody Beaker, love Bagpuss and friends as if they were their own. So, Mr. Postgate's Films may have been Small but his legacy is huge.

Sunday 7 December 2008

Oh, go on then...

Yesterday's blog being a bit heavy, I thought it was time for some totally gratuitous, PG-rated girl-on-(Super-)girl action, from Ian Churchill. Mmmphlugh indeed.
Copyright DC/Time Warner/Godcorp/Grab it all, own it all, drain it all.
Endblog 13 or is it 14? You know, I don't think I'll bother with that any more.
Soundtrack: The Big Squeeze, Squeeze.

Saturday 6 December 2008


Just thinking about time and its effects on people, places, minds, the world really.

We went to see our friends Kevin and Lyn on Thursday because it was their eldest daughter, Charlotte's, 18th birthday. They were going out for a family meal, with much talk of Charlotte and her sister Harriett partying and drinking etc. Rewind to 1992, Charlotte is our bridesmaid, charming everyone at the wedding, lovely Autumn day. Rewind to 1990, we meet Charlotte for the first time in Stroud Hospital maternity, freezing cold winter's day. Rewind to 1989, Kevin and Lyn get married, great day but pissing down with rain. Rewind a couple of weeks, Kev's stag night, we're chased through Stroud by his so-called mates who want to strip us, tie us to a lamp-post and stick carrots somewhere carrots should never go. Lovely. Rewind to 1972 or 1973, I start at Eastington school, a short-trousered, fat boy from a different village, Kev takes me under his wing. Time...

I went down to Moreton Valence church this morning to put flowers on Pete's grave, met Mum there. The same sad day replayed for the last 13 years. We met Danny Weaver there who invited us back to theirs for a cup of tea. This is Yew Trees Farm ( or just the Yew Trees ) which belonged to my family for about 30 years until Mum and Pete finally sold it in the early '90s, having been stopped at all turns in their attempts to build a home there by local council twats. The hay barn and cowsheds have been converted into a beautiful home and the muddy old yard has been landscaped and transformed. It's a lovely place but Mum and I obviously felt a twinge of melancholy, thinking of the old days of feeding cattle, gathering apples, stacking hay bales, and making plans that came to nothing in the end. Time...

The picture above is from some family gathering ( wedding, christening? ) from 1954. From left to right: my (amazing) Nan, Pete's Dad who I never knew, some bloke, my sadly-missed Uncle Richard, Pete's tragic sister Kay who I also didn't know, some bloke, and the handsome young man is my Dad, Pete. Everyone in this photo is now gone. Time...

For Peter Henry Barton, 2/2/1931 - 6/12/1995.

Soundtrack: The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Randomness conquers all!

We'll start with a nice piece of Jim Steranko artwork: Nick Fury, Cap and the SHIELD cast of characters. When I have a day or ten to spare I'll have to wax rhapsodic (steady!) about Steranko's work in general and Agent Of SHIELD in particular. Classic stuff!
Randomness today:
TV time. Another good episode of Survivors tonight. Julie Graham's character comes across a community run by the last surviving government member, which devolves into violence and proto-fascism at the first hint of trouble. Meanwhile, Max Beesley's character shows a more human side while running into a family of survivors on a remote farm.
Also, Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe gave us some revealing interviews with TV script-writers like Russell T., Paul Abbott, Graham Linehan, but could have used a few more clips to illustrate their points.
At work today heard we're going to do the stocktake on the last working day of the year - boo! Also heard Killing In The Name Of by RATM on Radio 1 - hurray! My mate Stew said, and I quote, "Is this Punk music?" Bless.
James dug out Sarah's old recorder to give it a blast; he's doing music at the Centre and is enjoying it. Makes a change from the usual bloody curriculum anti-fun lessons. I dug out my guitar, realised I can't remember hardly any songs, put it away again.
Endblog 12.
Soundtrack: Is This It? The Strokes.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008

Of Time Lords, Transvestites and Tinseltown...

We watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time in ages last night. Sophie had been on about seeing it for a while, so we said she could, what with her being 13 and all growed up like. She only watched half of it and I don't think she really got it. What gets me is how cheap the whole thing looks, although I suppose that does add to the trashy aesthetic. Still worth watching for the songs, all the genre references, a very hot young Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry's career-defining performance. There is talk of a remake to add to the list of other pointless rehashes lately. What are the odds on Johnny Depp as Frank N. Furter? Brad Pitt as Rocky? The horror!
I bought a good movie book yesterday ( £2 secondhand ) : Hollywood - 50 Great Years (ISBN 0 86283 924 6). Five critics tackle a decade each, 1930s to 1970s. Tons of great photos and some useful reviews of old films. The section on the '30s is especially good, with a chapter on the great Universal monster movies, emphasis on James Whale and Tod Browning, as well as the films of Val Lewton, Michael Curtiz, Karl Freund et al. A pretty good section on film noir too. Bargain!
We went to Slimbridge WWT for a walk this afternoon: pretty bloody cold but better than lounging around at home. They had a glorified jumble sale in the reception area, where the kids bought a few cheap old videos: Clueless and Groundhog Day for Sophie, Doctor Who: The Androids Of Tara for James. 25p each! James and I watched the Whovid when we got back. Good fun, a Prisoner Of Zenda pastiche with plenty of witty lines and swordplay, a glacial Mary Tamm and an energetic Tom Baker. Oh, and the Taran Wood Beast, probably the worst Who monster ever. Unless, of course, you know differently. Answers on a postcard...
Endblog 11.
Soundtrack: Magic, Bruce Springsteen
Greatest Hits, The Four Tops
"Do you mind not standing on my chest? My hat's on fire."

You mean I can put titles on these things?

It's Sunday morning and I haven't posted since last Monday. I'm definitely laggin' with me bloggin'. We don't want a blogbacklog. Not that I've really got much to say. How about some (cough!) poetry?

When the tea is brought at five o'clock

And all the neat curtains are drawn with care

The little black cat with bright green eyes

Is suddenly purring there

( Milk For The Cat by Harold Monro )

For my main moggie, Hero.

That wasn't too painful was it? Next, Shakespearean sonnets...
Endblog 10.

Soundtrack: New Day Rising, Husker Du. ( Can't do the umlauts. And that's something I've never said before. )

Monday 24 November 2008

Firstly a warm ( ha ha ) welcome to The Igloo Keeper, follower number 1. You're mine, all mine! Ahahahahahah!! Bow down to me! Drink the Kool-aid, drink I say! .........oh, not that kind of follower? My mistake. Move along, nothing to see here...
So, yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Doctor Who. Being the saddo that I am I had to celebrate by watching my all-time favourite story, City Of Death. What's it got? It's got the lot. Paris, Tom at his wittiest/maddest, Lalla dressed as a schoolgirl, Douglas Adams' and Graham Williams' fantastic script, Paris, Julian Glover and Catherine Schell, Ian Scoones' Jagaroth spaceship and did I mention Paris? And K9 was left in his kennel. Perfection.
I also watched the Beeb's new version of Survivors, written by one of the Primeval team and starring a few Whoniverse actors, notably Freema and Shaun Dingwall, who both snuffed it in the first episode! It was pretty good actually, setting up the epidemic and the establishment's failure to contain it in a slow-burning, believable way. Characters seem stereotyped so far, but there's plenty of scope yet. I have fond memories of the original series, which I remember as being grittier than the "cosy catastrophe" of legend, and which had one of the all-time great title-sequences. Hopefully this series can measure up.
Back in the real world, we dragged the kids up Robinswood Hill (Gloucester) yesterday afternoon, 'cos for once the weather wasn't too bad. We climbed up to the old quarry to take in the views of the Severn Vale and of the local goats, watching us watching them. We had a good laugh, some good exercise and, as usual, ended up talking about ghosts and horror films the kids aren't old enough to watch. Just got back to the car and it bucketed down with rain; for once we timed it just right. That'll have to do for now...
Endblog 9.
Soundtrack: The 3 E.P.s, The Beta Band.
"Never mind about the time-slip, we're on holiday."

Sunday 23 November 2008

Just been watching old Bruce videos on Youtube: Cadillac Ranch, Fire, Blood Brothers, This Hard Land, Brothers Under The Bridges, not the most obvious songs but all damn good. The new album, Working On A Dream, will be out in January. Brooooce and the E Street boys recorded it during breaks in their 3 million-date ( approx.) 2007/8 tour. How the hell do they do it? Not bad going for (ahem!) mature artists. Steve Van Zandt was 58 yesterday, 22/11, happy birthday! I'll have to post a lot more about Springsteen and what his records/gigs/band mean to me, but not now: it's 2 o'clock in the morning and I should be in bed!
Endblog 8.
Soundtrack: Springsteen of course.
Oh, and Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain. Even after 23(!) years still astonishing.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

I'm not interested in knitting, crosstitch, or yarn in general. I'm not living my life for God or Christ ( but if they exist I don't want to replace them with Satan or Charles Manson ). I'm not interested in Libertarian politics, although I have read quite a few Steve Ditko comics. I don't follow baseball, football, American football or anything-ball. I've never read any books by Laurel K. Hamilton ( what does the "K" stand for? Ketchup? Ketamine?) or Garrison Keillor. What is it with all these "K"s anyway? I've never surfed but I have fallen off a skateboard a few times.

So what am I doing on here?
Endblog 7.

Soundtrack: Duchess, The Stranglers. Babylon's Burning, The Ruts.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Sarah and I finally went to see Quantum Of Solace today ( aka That New Bond Film With The Stupid Title) and it was great. Perhaps not quite as exciting as Casino Royale, it was still pacy, action-packed, globe-trotting and intelligent. A lot of people criticise the new-style Bonds for lacking the humour and glamour of previous years, but I'm not too bothered. Although Bond's brutal trail of revenge and mayhem can seem pretty grim there is some humour, but it's bone-dry and subtle, something you wouldn't have seen in the days of quip-a-minute Roger Moore. Olga Kurylenko provides enough glamour for me, and Bond does look cool as ever when he gets the old tuxedo out, but Gemma Arterton is under-used. Apart from the action, locations, stunts etc. the best thing in the film is Bond himself, just as it should be. Daniel Craig is, for me, the best JB since Connery, no contest. Moore was always too lightweight and stayed in the role too long, Dalton was one of the best actors in the series but not really Bond-esque, Brosnan was better than I'd expected and certainly had the suavity angle covered, and Lazenby... well, he tried. Craig's Bond, however, is the closest to Ian Fleming's character yet: he's brutal, he gets scared, hurt, disillusioned, drinks hard, plays hard. Daniel Craig gives the role a level of realism and commitment; you believe every line of dialogue and feel every punch. And who cares if he's a blond Bond?

Endblog 6.

Soundtrack: American Idiot, Green Day. ( I know, not really Bond is it?)

"I don't give a s***t about the CIA." Judi Dench as M.

Friday 14 November 2008

Children In Need 2008. Inbetween the dancing newsreaders, atrocious soap "actors" and Terry "I'll never retire" Wogan, we were treated to two minutes of the Doctor Who Christmas special for this year. Picture-postcard Victorian England, street urchins and carol singers, the Doctor, the "Next" Doctor, Rosita, a cybershade, allons-y that's yer lot. It all looks interesting alright: who is this 2nd Doctor? A fake, a future self? Bit of a pantomime vibe going on, but that's Christmas viewing for you. Hopefully the Cybermen will bring the chills to go with the fake snow.
Endblog 5.
Soundtrack: The Real Roxanne, Public Enemy, Run DMC. Old skool!
"Hoo-way, the wabbit kicked the bucket!"

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Today's recipe: a Starfleet cupcake.
Loads of new Star Trek images and spoilers on the net today, following JJ Abrams' presentation in Leicester Square. ( I presume this was in a cinema, not chalk drawings on the pavement. ) I was never a real fan of ST, only really the Original Series, although Deep Space Nine had its moments. The forthcoming movie does look interesting but has incensed some hardcore fans who are furiously blogging about continuity blasphemies. Bless 'em. It looks like Abrams and co. are going the Doctor Who reboot route: keep the essentials of the legend, chuck out unnecessary baggage, aim for a wider audience. I haven't seen a ST movie at t' cinema since The One With The Whales in 1980-something, but I might make an exception for this one. Which must be the desired effect of all the hype.
Endblog 4.
Soundtrack: Metal Firecracker, Lucinda Williams.
I Was In The House When The House Burned Down, Warren Zevon.
Live long and prosper.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Today is Remembrance Sunday and, in fact, it's the 90th anniversary of the 1918 armistice. Amazingly, there are still 3 living British veterans of WWI, all well over 100 years of age, Harry Patch, William Stone and Henry Allingham, each representing one of the 3 armed services. Seeing these old servicemen today it makes you wonder if they could ever have imagined all those years ago that they would live on into the 21st century, having lived through the supposed War To End All Wars, and having witnessed British lives being lost in WWII, Korea, the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. The world has moved on and changed in thousands of ways, but bloodshed and war still remain. Regardless of our political views or whether we think wars are fought for the right reasons or not, I believe we should support and remember our living and fallen servicemen and women, especially in the cases of the two World Wars. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

Endblog 3.

Soundtrack: silence.

"War always finishes with both sides sitting down and talking; why the devil don't they do that beforehand?" Harry Patch, aged 110, ex- 7th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.
Just a normal Saturday. Took James swimming this morning, first lesson after half-term. Sarah and I were having a good moan about his teacher until the lady sitting next to us said the teacher is her best friend, isn't miserable, does like kids against all the evidence. Oops. We went into town (Gloucester), were enticed into Starbucks by a dark cherry mocha, met one of James's real teachers who was lovely and gave him a hug or two. While the womenfolk went clothes shopping James and I hit Waterstones and WH Smith, where I read loads of Grant Morrison's The Filth, trippy maaaan. Rest of the day was even less eventful. It chucked it down with rain in the evening but some local diehard lunatics were still out, letting off the last of their fireworks. We're British, it doesn't matter if we all get hypothermia and frostbite, we will have fun, godammit!

Endblog 2. ( A surprisingly high use of italics this time. )

Soundtrack: Purple Rain, Prince & The Revolution
Sam's Town, The Killers

'There was, of course, a catch. "Catch-22?" inquired Yossarian.'

Friday 7 November 2008

OK, first ever blog. Breathe deeply, focus etc. So, why The Glass Walking-Stick? ( Why the long face? ) I got the title from a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton, that sadly-neglected ex-titan of English literature. A crusty old bugger who could, and did, write wittily and deeply on any subject under the sun, G.K. is responsible for one of my favourite novels, The Man Who Was Thursday. He rocks! Well, he did: he died in 1936.

In one of these essays, Chesterton bashes the rich for their snobbish attitudes and defends the poor: "The cultivated people go in for what is beautiful; but the un-cultivated for what is interesting.....One man had a walking-stick made of glass and filled with sweets. If there were children in the house, the preservation of that glass stick has something of the insane sublimity of a religion." It wouldn't last long in our house anyway.

Glass walking-stick equals something interesting but bonkers? pointless? fun? It could be a metaphor for blogging or I could be talking out of my a***e. ( That's a** if you're American. )

Anyway, the plan is to witter on about any old random rubbish, whenever I can get my act together. As you can see above. Endblog 1.

Soundtrack: Born In The USA, Bruce Springsteen. Go Obama!


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