Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Great Southend Rulebook...


You don't have to be on the payroll at South Essex College to get into Level 4 magazine... but it certainly helps.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Dad changed the blinds in the bathroom this morning. It was yet another in a long list of fine examples of how to make a really straightforward task seem very hard. There was a lot of huffing and puffing, some exasperated cries, sweat, and it turned into an argument pretty quickly. I was getting frustrated as he kept on insisting that it wasn't right. It's a roll-up blind in the bathroom fer fuck sake! How could it possibly be wrong?? Practically everything is done for you, you just cut it to size and whack that shit up. It killed me. I think the problem was that he was mixing and matching parts from the new blinds and the old (& completely different) blinds; a pole here, a bracket there.

The crazy thing that gets me everytime is that he'll insist, without fail and with no trace of irony, that "if you're going to do it, you've got to do it properly" and then proceed to do virtually nothing properly. But to be fair on him, he does get things done... even if that means it's a nightmare for anyone unfortunate enough to be in the general area when he's doing them. Heh, and you'll always get roped in at the most inconvenient times. I mean, this tea doesn't drink itself. Anyhow, he was finding fault in everything. It lasted an age. I couldn't understand it. It was like he was convinced that somebody would refuse to use the toilet one day on account of the blind hanging a whopping 1mm too low on the left. In protest they'd do their business in the bathtub and be done with it.

Nice blinds, mind.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Went for the intriguingly titled BLT TWIST sandwich at lunch. There wasn't much by way of choice today but, of the sandwiches on offer, this one caught my fancy. That said, it was actually a toss-up between the BLT TWIST and another one that featured beef. It was named something like BEEF BONANZA, but definitely not BEEF BONANZA. I might've gone for this beef-based sandwich but for the disappointing presence of beetroot. After a few minutes of thought I decided that the mystery surrounding the 'twist' was too hard to ignore. What could this twist possibly be? It was so exciting. I could barely contain myself. The head of marketing happened to be standing next to me at the time. He could barely contain himself either. We had a brief exchange. Oddly, he thought that the twist might be an absence of turkey.

Anyway, having eaten the sandwich a good nine hours ago now, I can only assume that the twist was that it was shit.

Going to Paris on Tuesday.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

There can be little doubt that, with Live from Studio Five, FIVE (Channel 5 to you and me) have created what is truly one of the most awful programmes ever to grace our screens. To use one of the worst cliches in the book, it's a no-brainer... and soon to be a received wisdom I'm sure. I mean, I imagine that the next generation won't need to be told just how hideous the concept was, they'll just know. It will be ingrained within them.

However, instead of me going on about how dreadful it is like I normally would, I'm actually gonna sit here and eschew my insatiable thirst for negativity in favour of something a little more positive. I'd advise you brace yourself for this one... you see, this one is to be a blog of hope. There may not be many more. Okay, here goes...

Bearing in mind just how abysmal a programme Live from Studio Five is, I put it to you that, in The Gadget Show, FIVE (Channel 5, remember? No, not Five... FIVE) have also somehow created one of the most endearing shows of our time. A show that has quietly and confidently stuck to its guns and, in doing so, has become a real underrated gem. Now, I write this not as a religious viewer of the show by any means, but if I do happen to stumble across it I'll quite happily stick with it until the end. I guess that, much like Fifth Gear, the majority of people just assume it's a cheap knock-off of the BBC's Top Gear. (Heh, which itself is a trifle ironic... what with Top Gear itself becoming a cheap knock-off of Top Gear a long, long time ago.) Anyway, I've got a little sidetracked there, my point is that The Gadget Show isn't, and never has been, as complacent as that. Clearly it owes a great deal to the style, format and success of Top Gear, but the BBC could learn a thing or two about how to make an entertaining and informative show without treating the viewer like an idiot.

I think it's the restless enthusiasm of the presenters that I really admire about The Gadget Show. I'm not good with names... and if I was a good blogger I'd google them... but I don't feel the need to. They've got a great team, I think that kinda covers it. Particular praise goes out to the main three: Suzi (I think that's right), the bald guy with the glasses (something's telling me Jason??) and finally, a guy whose name eludes me but who comes on like a slightly younger, yet even more crazy Giles Brandreth.* Heh. So there we are... The Gadget Show, I salute you. Long may you continue to be one of the best shows on TV.

* Thanks to wikipedia I've sinced found out he's called Jon. And I forgot Ortis! How could I forget Ortis?? Ortis, I salute you too.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Another haircut today. Two within a three month period now... I'm on a roll... a real hot streak. The girl in the shop was a little crazy though. Hmmm, or maybe she was just German. Heh. That's not an attack on German people there, just an excuse for yet another bad joke. She was lovely. It was just a very weird & slightly intense experience all round.

As always, the subject of work quickly came up and I said what I did. Anyway, she then took the ball and ran with it. For ages... she ran with it for ages. After a while I started to wonder whether I'd ever see that sweet little metaphorical ball again. She talked at length about how great artists were misunderstood in their lifetime and how tragic the whole affair was. Now, of course, there's nothing new or particularly weird about that, and I was more than happy to just listen to her talking, but she then likened it to having a child and having people say "no, no, no... you're not doing it right" and taking it away from you. It was quite a macabre twist, and one I didn't see coming. I was just so surprised by it. I mean, I think it was likely the result of some kind of translation glitch, and that whatever it was that she was trying to get across just came out wrong... but it sounded very odd and I got this strange sense that she'd kinda revealed too much. I don't know what it is that she 'revealed' but I can't find another way to describe it. Not suggesting it was even a personal thing in any way either, just that there was a distinct feel to it. Anyway, I think she picked up that I was a little alarmed and so it kind of trailed off into nothingness.

I left it a few seconds and then said "Yeah." *

Normal service then resumed. The haircut was finished with minimum fuss - no 'product' - & I even got a double stamp on my loyalty card to boot. Ha... loyalty card. In a hairdressers. What a strange concept.

* Much like Pritt, you can always depend on "Yeah." It's very versatile.

Friday, 19 February 2010

"Joyce, I think we're gonna need more swabs!"

Nipped into town this morning and bought a couple of jumpers, a roll of brown parcel paper, a Pritt stick, Cormac McCarthy's The Road and a pack of 50 paper cd wallets. Can't tell you why I've felt the need to document my purchases in such detail - maybe just the jumpers would have been enough - but I've gone and done it anyway. Flashing the cash. I'm pleased with the jumpers in particular. One is purple and the other is green. I'm broadening my palette. I've yet to try out the Pritt stick but I'll let you know how that turns out in good time. Actually I probably won't... I've used Pritt many times before and, in my opinion - having dabbled in my fair share of rival glue, you can always depend on Pritt. Nothing else comes close. Anyway, seeing as I was there, I paid a cheque into my bank account too. It had been in my wallet since the first strains of the industrial revolution. I really need to stop being so casual with my cheques. I'd hate for somebody to cheque up on me.

Ha, that didn't even make sense.

So I was a little surprised to see such a strong turn out at the mobile chlamydia testing truck on the high street. There were hundreds of people there, all seeming very chatty and excitable. It was joyous. It took me a good minute or so of gawping before I realised that they were all office workers taking part in a fire drill. What a funny sight it was though... I bet the staff in that little truck couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the collective shadow of 300-odd HSBC workers rapidly bearing down on them. Now that must have been terrifying.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

In a last-gasp and desperate attempt to save my flagging blog I've relocated to the conservatory. I'm hoping that such a serious geographical change will pay dividends. Every blog-related egg (Blegg) that I have in my possession has been placed into the basket, so to speak. Ka-pow! In all seriousness I've been meaning to write something for ages, all too aware that the longer I leave it the harder it will be to slip back into the flow of things. It's weird how writing a few words & stringing a handful of sentences together can sometimes just become so difficult. Anyway, fuck all that, I feel that I'm making good progress now. The conservatory may well have paid off.

So I went to see Spoon on Tuesday night. It was a truly great show. I find it pretty hard to rank things like this because it's just a one-time experience... something that you live only for a short while and then it leaves you, but it certainly felt like the best show I've seen, although I have a sneaky feeling I've said something very similar after every show I've seen. Heh. No, it was just a great, great set with no nonsense. Pretty much what I'd expected really. You know... they came, they saw, they played a shitload of tunes and then fucked off into the night. So simple & concise. Amazing band.

On a slightly different note, I always feel a little sorry for those people who pay to see a show and then spend 95% of it looking at the back of their phone. Why did you come here? Heh... and these are often the people you'll find on forums complaining that "when I looked around I only saw a few people who knew what the words were." I hate all that bollocks. It's complete crap. You know, I think that, when you find yourself more concerned with the performance of the audience than the band, then maybe you should be questioning why you're there in the first place. The reason I'm mentioning this is that the same thing happened on their forum the day after. Some guy criticising the audience for the above reason, and also because "90% of the audience clapped the fake ending" to one song. People like that really get my goat. I posted a reply to his message saying that I'm sure he meant that he only saw a few people who were mouthing along to the words and that I thought there was a difference. I mean, I know that, for me personally, when I pay to go and see a band I love, I want to hear the band and not some utter chump next to me forcing his indie credibility down my throat. As for the fake ending thing, who gives a fuck?... and if it's really that much of a problem for you, just be a closet snob like me and bottle it all up inside.

Earlier on in the evening I'd fallen victim to an absolute drenching at the hands (& wheels) of a boy racer. I'd let my guard down as I was walking to the train station. At the time I was a little concerned that I might've left it a bit late in leaving the house, so I was strolling along the footpath briskly and not really thinking about my surroundings. Usually I'd have clocked that a significant part of the road beside me had turned into something closer resembling a lake, but I failed to notice it until it was far too late this time. However, in the distance I had noticed a white Subaru Impreza - you know the one... yeah, that's it, driven exclusively by twats - speeding up but didn't think anything of it. After all, it's the kind of thing that they do. I think it's something to do with the size of an appendage of some sort, or something like that. So, yeah, the car sped past me, leaving quite a considerable wall of water in its wake. It was pretty unpleasant, and it felt surprisingly heavy too, but I just carried on walking. Ploughed through it. Didn't even break stride. It pains me to write this, but the bastard played it well. Heh, it was so obvious to anybody else what had happened though... I caught sight of what I thought was a smirk from a lady walking in the opposite direction. She'd seen the tell-tale splatter on what was a dry afternoon. She understood it all.

It was a damp train journey.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

I've decided to start working on a book. The book will be titled MONUMENTAL KNOBHEADS.