Monday, 30 May 2011

The Shadow Line... turning out to be a bloody good piece of television. Did the BBC really make this?

Really?? The same corporation that systematically churns out shit such as New Tricks, Life of Riley and Hustle?

I mean - and, really, I mean this with all seriousness - even the title sequence is wiping the floor with everything else on TV at the moment. That music is just incredibly moving. I will admit that some of the dialogue in scenes involving the actress Kierston Wareing is unintentionally laughable - most notably the bizarrely sexually-charged exchanges in the third episode where she found herself caught in a (supposedly tense) stand-off with a gun-brandishing suspect armed only with a wire coat hanger, but other than that there's a lot to love about the series. Apparently she's from Leigh-on-Sea though, so everything's okay. Water under the bridge and all that.

Genuinely brilliant stuff. Go watch.

And if you have the means to do so, watch in HD. I'm telling you; you have not truly experienced the sheer face of Christopher Eccleston until you've experienced it in high definition. License. Fee. Alone.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Monday, 23 May 2011

Beard status update

Though I continue to have my reservations about the whole episode, it seems that my beard is going down quite well with the general public. This evening after work I met a friend who I hadn't seen in the flesh for well over a year, and his first words to me post handshake were words of a beard-related nature. Indeed words of a complimentary beard-related nature at that. Anyway, as is my wont, I questioned their sincerity and whether it was really okay. He assured me that it was a beard, said that it made me look like a "proper academic" (I am not an academic) and we left it at that.

On a side note, I trimmed the moustache element of the beard with scissors over the weekend. What a revelation! I feel like a new man. I wonder what else this hair on my face has in store for me.

(More beard stuff soon)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


If all's well and good with the world you should be reading this entry in a nice new colour. Maybe there will be some pleasing shapes and things going on around it too. Bells and whistles. This is because I'm thinking that my good old blog needs a bit of a spruce up. It's been a long time since I changed the colour scheme and, frankly, the blue template that I've been using is depressing. More than likely it's going to be another template job. Anyway, enough of that, let's blog!

You probably won't know/care but three months ago I was involved in a car accident - nothing major (I mean, I didn't die and neither did anybody else) but it left my car a write-off. Put simply, I was struck from the rear by a lorry on a dual carriageway when it decided to cut across into the lane I'd been driving in without any warning, not seeming to worry about the little Nissan Micra that had been quite happily chugging along there for some time. Somewhat incredibly, the driver of the lorry failed to spot this little car that he had been following for god knows how long and proceded to plough across from the overtaking lane, through my car and into the left lane. It was a major shock for me... after all, we were travelling at 50mph at the time. To suddenly hear a loud crash and feel the car disappear from beneath me... man, that was scary.

Moments after the initial impact my car was swerving all over the place and I was desperately trying to correct the steering to avoid going off the carriageway and falling down on to another major road that runs beneath. I remember quite vividly thinking this is how people die. It was quite an awful realisation to be honest, and I'm not getting all melodramatic over it; that people just die. Anyone. Life can be this one great glorious fanfare or whatever, and then you choke to death on a chicken nugget. It's so terribly mundane. Anyway, the lorry driver continued to move into my lane, even when my car was wedged against his front grill at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the road, until he eventually twigged that something had happened and we came to rest. I was amazed by his response when I asked how it was possible that he'd managed not to see me there; he said that he'd been aware of me but "assumed" that I'd turned off.

I was in shock. It felt pretty major to me and, honestly, I didn't really know what to do in this situation. It's something that I had absolutely no experience or reference points to draw from. We'd been in a collision on a major road, a lorry had hit me and my car was in a terrible state. I wasn't feeling too good either. I wondered whether we should call the police, but the driver of the lorry seemed to have other ideas and suggested that we move the vehicles if we could to the hard shoulder. This would be something that I would come to regret... mainly because calling the police is such an obvious thing to do in this situation (hindsight is a wonderful thing, I know) but also because, at the moment he suggested we move the vehicles, he knew that he could get away with it. In my susceptible state I fell for it. It sickens me.

I'd love to go into the details and name the guy, but really the only thing that I can say on the matter is that it takes a certain sort of person to cause an accident like that - an accident that wrote-off a car and could so easily have killed me - and yet not even have the common decency to report it to their insurance company. A certain type of person to stand there laughing and joking around, taking photographs of the car he just wrecked with his neglegent & dangerous driving, wearing it as some kind of badge of honour. I'm not even talking about admitting liabilty here either; I'm talking about the basic etiquette (legal requirement??) of reporting a traffic accident. That he thinks he can get away with it is possibly the saddest thing of all. I contacted my insurance company as soon as I was able to do so. I then went on to contact his insurance company several times over the course of the month that followed only to be told that they had so far been unable to contact their client. Bullshit. He finally decided to respond once the solicitors got involved, albeit to laughably suggest that it was in fact I, in a Nissan Micra, that failed to see him, in a big fuck-off lorry, who caused the collision by changing lanes.

Heh, well I say that it's laughable but the truth is that I haven't found it particularly funny at any point. Not when I was wedged on the front of his lorry thinking "okay that hasn't killed me" but looking back though the passenger side window for the thing that would, and not now. Still, months later it's nice to see that he's finally acknowledged that he was involved in a crash that happened in February. No, that doesn't look suspicious at all...

But sarcasm aside, and, in all seriousness, I knew from the moment that he got out of the cab that he would either deny responsibilty or completely fabricate a story.

I mean, he was, after all...


James Bolam is an old man now.

Deal with it.

Friday, 13 May 2011

It's the weekend...

...probably gonna spend it watching back to back episodes of Robson Green's Extreme Fisting.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

A fifteen year old boy was stabbed to death yesterday behind our flat. It's so sad. I got home from work to find our road taped off with police and ambulances everywhere. It's such a violent way to die. Fifteen years old.

I don't really know what else to write.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

35 minutes later and I am still inexplicably watching Don't Scare the Hare.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Universal Meh.

RE: The death of Osama Bin Laden...
Well I can't speak for anybody else here, but I went out and sat in the little park opposite my flat yesterday and, well... well I can tell you this much... for the first time in a decade I was not afraid. Not afraid. Get that? No? Ok, let me say it again. I. Was. Not. Afraid. Make a note of that. No urge to take a quick peek underneath the bench or behind the bush before I sat down. No terror-induced cold sweats from looking at every pram that went past, wondering whether or not his bearded face was lurking in there. Yup, at last the monumental, earth-shattering news we'd all been waiting for had finally filtered through. Bin Laden was dead. Terror was over, and everything had changed. We were free. Blah blah blah. Stuff about terrorism. Blah. Islamic fundamentalism, blah blah blah. Extremism. Blah blah.


On a serious note though, it doesn't even feel like news. It's The Universal Meh.

THIS on the other hand most certainly does feel like news. Won't stop Morning Mr. Magpie being crap though.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sadly I'm sitting in the lounge writing this on the penultimate day of what's been a nice, fairly long and relaxing break back home in Southend. I've been on cat-feeding duty as everybody here went on a holiday together to Greece. Or Cyprus, possibly Turkey... but then they're all essentially the same place aren't they?

Aside from the hairy episode in Asda a couple of days ago it's been a pretty good week. By and large I've managed to keep on top of the cat-feeding aspect of the break too. I like to keep them waiting sometimes though... I'll mix it up a bit, maybe feed them a couple of hours later than usual every now and then - just to keep them on their toes. They don't respect me. Certainly not that Sage. Now, he's a good little man, Sage, and a very solid cat, but he's also a bit of a mystery. He can disappear for long lengths of time. He's very independent. Rumour has it that he's also a bit of a ladies cat - one of the possible reasons why he's acquired the nickname Muffman. I think he likes us to know that, whilst he needs humans around, he could survive without us to no great loss. In his head Sage is doing us a service just by being here. To him, he's all we've got. And that is why I like to disrupt his routine. Onion on the other hand is no trouble at all, unfortunately she's just collateral in Sage's wake. Anyway, great weather. I've been out in the garden all week, shirt off, lager in hand, copy of Nuts by my side, tanning myself silly.

For the first time in ages I've also spent a lot of time working on some songs. You're allowed to yawn at this point. Better still, I permit you to skip the rest of this paragraph... actually you may well need to skip the rest of this entry... things could get really boring from here. I might start talking about chords. I mean, I would probably drone on about diatonic triads if I knew what they were. Heh. So, we spent a couple of days recording at Lance's house; during which we managed to get three songs down. One of them - somewhat unimaginatively titled Missyerface (I know I know, I need to work on titles) - was quite unexpected, given that it didn't exist in any shape or form until the day before we recorded it. In that respect it was great to do something completely new... something that hadn't been sketched out previously and then had time to sit and gather dust for weeks and weeks before we could find time to meet and record it. I think it's pretty much one of the best things we've ever done together.

The second song we worked on is a bit of an experiment really. It's something that we knocked around a year or so ago, maybe a little longer. We started to record it but for some reason it just wasn't feeling right and we'd given up on it. Since then it had just become a long forgotten mp3 inside some long forgotten folder. Anyway, I was sitting at the piano when we were recording Missyerface (the title seems to be getting more annoying each time I write it) and I started to play this old song. Not sure why... I think Lance gets a little annoyed when I do this, as he's usually spent years and years setting up a microphone for a vocal or something, checking levels, doing this and that, twisting knobs & pulling levers, and there I am noodling with some old shit in the corner. He puts on a brave face, but I can tell he dies a little inside every time. I think this one is called Everybody Here's Got Someone to Love, Except Me. I think it's good fun, but then I guess that depends on whether or not you think our stuff is shite.

Third and final song is one that I've just realised doesn't really have a title. I can't believe I haven't thought about this before. I guess we've always referred to it as 'Repair'. Lance likes to call it 'Repairman' but I'm not massively keen on that. Like I said, titles are not a strong point of ours... I mean, usually, if we want to talk about a particular song, the easiest way is for one of us to play a few bars on a guitar or the piano, and then it's like "oh, yeah, that one... Repairman!". Heh. So, yeah, this one is a song that dates back 5 or 6 months, though this is the first time we've attempted to record it. It's always been there, mooching around on the periphery, pressing its face against the glass and watching as stuff like ...Summer gets wheeled out and dusted off. To be honest I never knew how we'd approach it, and I think this is what kept it on the back-burner for so long. And so it proved on Saturday when we started to work on it. We were struggling for a good half an hour before a timely cup of tea and a happy accident gave us the kick we needed. I haven't heard the finished song yet, as Lance is still mixing it, but he's been making some promising noises. Now, in my experience this is a very, very unusual occurrence. We must've done okay if Lance is showing visible signs of enthusiasm.

Or there's something seriously wrong with him.