Monday, 22 January 2018

More Fulla Filmy Goodness

I like to watch rapid processions of still images with my eyes whilst using my ears to listen the synchronised sounds that accompany them. Well, who doesn’t like a good film? Here are some things that I have pointed my eyes and ears in order to try and attribute some sort of meaning to them using my brain.

Darkest Hour
In A Nutshell:- Oldman as Churchill
Any Good? It’s very performance piece (almost more like a stage play than a film at times) and whether you enjoy it or not will depend on how you feel about Oldman’s performance. Fortunately, I very much enjoyed his performance which, amongst the angst and stirring calls to arms that you would be expecting, has a few nice moments of humour too. The only thing that didn’t quite gel was Lily James as his secretary - the role felt a little underserved and a little too much like it was there for narrative convenience.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
In A Nutshell:- I feel like a nutshell description would be too reductive here
Any Good? Yes, it really is. I often try to watch some of the main Oscar contenders and, while I generally agree that they’re usually good films, they’re very rarely films that deserve the amount of praise they generate. This was one of those where I understood the fuss. It’s a really good that deserves a broad audience. It manages to avoid a lot of the standard narrative and character beats that a film like this could go down and, as a result, feels very human. Definitely one to watch.

The Shape Of Water
In A Nutshell:- Amelie meets The Creature From The Black Lagoon by way of Beauty And The Beast
Any Good? I’ve always liked Guillermo Del Toro’s work - he has a distinct visual style that I find very appealing. This time, he very much seems to be channelling Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Delicatessen, City Of Lost Children) and that’s no bad thing as I’m a big fan of his work too. It looks amazing but narratively I have to say that I found it to have very few surprises. Still, for look and feel alone, it’s still worth seeing.

Come back next time when I’ll probably have looked at more things and stuff.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Words Required

Many, many moons ago, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd turned an idle game into a book and private hilarity became public. That book was The Meaning Of Liff in which all of those idle words loafing around on place signs and street names were put to good use by being assigned to descriptions of things for which there weren’t any words yet. I don’t have the words to assign them to yet but here are some more things that I think are in need of a snappy name to cement them into the modern world.

- The low level haze of light gently illuminating a darkened room as the result of multiple devices charging.
- The impotent but fleeting burst of powerless fury at arriving half an hour early for a train which is subsequently cancelled.
- The mild disappointment and slight sense of anxiety (“did I offend them?”) accompanying the complete lack of response from a person you specifically tagged in a post. 
- The sense of satisfaction in refreshing a podcast feed and discovering a new episode.
- A combination of excitement and fear caused by constantly refreshing a web page while waiting for tickets to become available (concert, flight, festival, swingers party ballet) 
- The compulsive need to check a comment for views, likes, other comments. 
- The sudden realisation that you’re not actually up for going out at all anymore and will have to drink heavily to get through it. 
- An inability to sleep on an intercity train which is directly proportional to the inability to stay awake on a short run commuting train. (This is pretty much just me so I may name this one Baldyfellarism) 
- A sense of amusement that is rapidly replaced by panic when you wonder if your funny remark was either a) just a bit too far after all; or b) accidentally revealed something about the other person that was really supposed to be kept a secret. 
- The vague but frustrated stare off into the middle distance when you’re running out of items to add to a list in a blog post. 
- The part of a blog post where you, the writer, realise that it’s reached the end despite it sort of petering out and where you, the reader, suddenly realise that this is it and that it started well but basically ran out of steam.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Imp Of The Perverse - Part The Third

The day had been saved once again, thanks to the Super Defence Force. Villain thwarted, authorities on hand, victims being comforted, all in a day’s work, etc. The fight had lasted quite some time and Billy’s bladder control, while admittedly above average, still had its limits. After a quick check in with the Grim Avenger to make sure that the nearest alleyway was free from any recording devices*, Billy ducked in behind the nearest industrial waste bin and quietly relieved himself of his heroic urine. He realised that this wasn’t textbook hero behaviour but, having just saved Capitalville once again, he really didn’t think that anyone would begrudge him a quick wee in an alleyway.

Billy was just finishing adjusting his costume when he spotted the small tabby mewing its way towards him. The thought was suddenly there. There was no warning, no inkling, no buildup. It wasn’t there and then it was, large and insistent at the front of his mind.

“Why don’t you just kick the cat?”

So swift was this thought that Billy didn’t even realise that his foot was moving until there was a small impact and a rapidly receding yowling noise. A cold wave of horror washed down his body and settled as a leaden stone in the pit of his stomach as his foot came back down to ground level and the full realisation of what he had done hit home.The cat was nowhere to be seen. As Billy slowly came to his senses, he realised that he was no longer alone in the alleyway. Turning around, he discovered the Grim Avenger standing behind him, surveying Billy with an unreadable look upon his face.

Billy had no idea how much his teammate had just witnessed. With his mind reeling as it began to comprehend the true awfulness of what he had just done, he had no capacity for a quick answer. His brain decided that the only real response here would be letting his mouth flap up and down a few times in a manner less like a hero and more like a fish. The Grim Avenger took in this sight for a few moments before simply nodding.

“You know, I once punched a homeless guy in the face. Broke his nose and fractured his jaw. Very bloody. No reason for it whatsoever. Just seemed like… the thing to do.”

Billy continued to gape. The Grim Avenger nodded once more and shrugged. 

“In our line of work, it happens sometimes.”

The Grim Avenger tipped him a salute and left. After a short time, Billy decided that he would sit down and cry for a while.


Extract from Schwarz’s Encyclopedia of The Heroic And The Villainous (3rd Edition):-
Major Crisis (Alignment:- Heroic; Affiliation(s):- Super Defence Force)
....In one of the more mysterious ends to a hero’s career, Major Crisis abruptly retired from public life shortly after the Ink Master’s doomed attempt to convert Capitalville from three to two dimensions (see Ink Master; Super Defence Force). No public statement was ever given and no one has ever come forth to reveal themselves as the real Major Crisis or unveil the full story behind his retraction from the heroic life.

* The swift deployment of a patented Grim mini-EMP device made sure of that.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Imp Of The Perverse - Part The Second

So strong and clear and matter-of-fact was the voice that Billy could feel his hands beginning to obey all by themselves. Startled by the realisation of what he was about to do, Billy instinctively tightened his grip. Years of training prevented him from popping the teen like a melon with his powerful grasp but the youth would discover some rather alarming finger-shaped bruises the next day.

Having dropped off the rescued youngster with the adoring public, Billy don’t-thank-me’d his way through the crowd in full Major Crisis mode while his heart hammered in his chest and his mind reeled at what he’d very nearly done. Having basked in the adulation for the shortest possible amount of time to maintain his squeaky clean image, Billy made his excuses and left, doing a quick couple of supersonic laps high above the city before settling on his favourite rooftop perch to think.

Where had that thought come from? Maybe it hadn’t been his own thought at all. Mind control. It could be mind control. It had certainly happened before. After all, what self-respecting superhero hadn’t become the unwitting puppet of some monstrous arch-fiend at one point or another? In fact, now that Billy thought about it, this had all the hallmarks of Hypno Mesmeria. He was pulling stuff like this all the time. Although maybe it wasn’t him. He was currently dead*, after all. This didn’t necessarily prevent villains from returning to wreak their terrible revenge but it had only happened three weeks ago and convention held that you tended to lie low for a little bit to give the death maximum impact before making your “surprise” comeback.

Billy knew deep down that this wasn’t the answer. It hadn’t been an outside influence. It had been him. OK, he thought, so maybe it was just a one-off. It could be that he was just over-tired. He had, after all, just spent the last week trapped in a counter-dimension with the Super Defence Force while they battled their evil duplicates. That sort of thing always left him a bit drained. Yeah, maybe that was it.

Four days later, when Billy was speaking to a sweet old lady whom he had just reunited with her missing dog, he discovered that he had the strong urge to just place his hands on either side of her head and squeeze until it popped. He began to realise that he may well have a problem.

Who could he talk to about it though? It wasn’t as if there was a handy helpline for heroes with power anxieties**. He couldn’t just wander into any old therapist’s office and start talking about it either. They’d either think he was mad and clap him in a straightjacket or, worse, believe him and throw him in The Pit with half of his enemies. Plus the whole secret identity thing would be shot to hell.

There was no way Billy could go to the other heroes with this either. Sadly, there tended to be a fairly standard formula to these sort of things. There’d be some form of initial misunderstanding, fighting would break out, a small detail would make realise they were on the same side leading to a frantic rush against the clock*** before everything was wrapped up with a neat and tidy resolution. It wasn’t so much that Billy objected to the process; he was Major Crisis after all. It was more the fact that his particular problem didn’t seem to fit that format and he severely doubted that there would be a neat resolution at the end. Most of his compatriots tended to like problems that they could punch their way out of in some shape or form and Billy just didn’t think that was going to work.

There was one other person that Billy could turn to, of course. The light of his life, the lovely Lily Langden. He’d confided that one defining secret of his life with her and they were going to share their life together. This really should be something that he should open up to her about. The only problem was that Billy could picture the look. The look that would cross her face. The look of fear. It may only be fleeting and she might not even realise that she was doing it but it would be there. And not just when he told her. No, it would permanently there, lurking just underneath her lovely smile. How could it not be? How could she not be afraid if the one person in her life she was supposed to be able to trust implicitly was telling her that he not only may suddenly develop the urge to drop kick her into the sun but was also capable of doing it? No, he couldn’t tell her. It would destroy everything.

Billy would just have to pull himself together, be the man and do the traditional manly heroic thing - suppress, suppress, suppress and just act like everything’s fine. For a while that seemed to do the trick. Billy carried on being Major Crisis and doing Major Crisis-y things. Any time that the pesky imp of the perverse threatened to rear its impulsive little head, Billy gritted his teeth and forced some shiny, happy thoughts front and centre. This all worked perfectly well up until the cat.

* Death was not always a permanent affliction in Billy’s line of work.
** This does seem to be a gap in what is sure to be a burgeoning market. Ripe business opportunity there.
***There was always a frantic rush against the clock regardless of whether or not there was actually a life-or-death deadline involved

To Be Continued

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Imp Of The Perverse - Part The First

Billy Bowford was a man with a secret. By day, he was a mild-mannered accountant with the firm of Freely, Hardiman and Wilson, immersed in a world of budgets, actuals and forecasts. He was an unremarkable bespectacled man, average almost to the point of being functionally invisible. His work was good (if unexceptional), he was liked by his co-workers (but certainly not loved; more “acquaintance” than “friend”), he was punctual and he made as little impact as was humanly possible to make upon the world.

Come the night and a whole other story would unfold. When darkness fell, the trappings of Billy Bowford were cast off. As twilight made its way across Capitalville, that mild-mannered accountant was nowhere to be found. In his place stood the imposing and impressive figure of Major Crisis, superhero! No mere mortal he but a virtual god. Nigh-invulnerable! The power of flight! Dominance over the weak of will! An unstoppable force for good against the dastardly minions of evil.

No secret was ever perfect, of course, and there were a select few who knew the truth about Billy Bowford and Major Crisis. For one thing, his fiancee Lily Langden was in on the act. Sure, in the early days, she’d been pretty clueless. He’d done whatever it took to pull the wool over her eyes - using his mind powers to convince her she was imagining things, having the Malleable Man shapeshift to pose as Major Crisis so that Billy Bowford could be seen with him; all the usual stuff, really. As time went on and their relationship progressed, however, Billy began to question the lengths he was going to protect to his secret identity. In fact, he began to feel pretty lousy about constantly lying to her. In a way, it felt like a form of cheating. So he’d confessed to her one night and that had been the start of a pretty rocky patch; Lily had also felt that lying about who you fundamentally were was not the best foundation for a relationship. Still, they had weathered this particular storm  (and some actual storms plus hurricanes, tidal waves and a few erupting volcanoes) and come out the other side even stronger, their love blossoming to the point of proposal.

His colleagues in the Super Defence Force were also in on the whole identity thing (as he was on theirs). Trust is an important factor when you’re fighting a thirty foot tall space squid determined to enslave the population of the earth and use them as breeding chambers for its foul brood. Trust and the contact details for a good dry cleaner. The stink of space squid does not wash out easily.

So while his identity was, on the whole, a secret, it was a secret that was shared with a discrete number of people. What nobody knew, however, was that Billy had another secret, one that he barely even dared to admit to himself. For some time now and at times when it was most inappropriate, Billy really, really wanted to hurt someone.

It was an urge, an impulse and it rang through his mind so loud and so clear that he often had to check that he hadn’t just acted upon it. He’d done some research; discretely, naturally. He’d found somewhere (he couldn’t remember exactly where) a description for this feeling which seemed to perfectly encapsulate it. The imp of the perverse, it was called. That little devil that sat on your shoulder and said in a quiet but insistent voice, “Push, jump, poke, snatch, smack” - all the things you knew deep down that you shouldn’t do. Billy had never acted upon it, of course. No, he was a hero and that was precisely the thing that heroes did not do. There was a certain type of person who acted upon that sort of impulse and they were the certain type of person who repeatedly got themselves punched in the face by people like Billy.

This horrible, almost physical need to do something utterly unpardonable had first come over him around eight months previously. There was nothing particularly different or special about the day*. Billy had just completed a routine piece of everyday superheroing; in this case, talking a suicidal teen out of throwing himself off the top of the Captialville bridge.

He was just flying the depressive youth back to the appreciative crowd of gawkers and onlookers (plus emergency services) when the thought popped into his head fully formed. It was so clear that it almost as if a separate voice was suddenly calling out in his head. The only difference was that the voice was his own.

“Hey,” the his-not-his voice seemed to say, “why don’t you just let go?”

“Yeah,” Billy found himself thinking back at him-not-himself, “why don’t I?”

Words like “special and “different” came with a vastly altered set of criteria for someone like Billy; when you spent your day stopping an evil clone of yourself from unleashing a nightmarish interdimensional god upon all of reality, your definition of “everyday” tended to diverge somewhat from societal norms.

To Be Continued

Monday, 15 January 2018

Fulla Filmy Goodness

Frequently at this time of year, I make an attempt to watch a number of the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated film fare in order to see what all the fuss is about. More often than not, I discover that the films that are nominated are not necessarily the best films of the year. So I trawled through a number of Best Of 2017 film lists (with, naturally, an emphasis on the cult and the indie) to pick out the ones that sounded interesting and here’s what i think of the ones what I have watched so far. Think of it as a public service - I’m watching these so you’re more armed about whether to bother with them or not.

Good Time
In A Nutshell:- 70s-influenced crime-goes-wrong drama
Any Good? I’ve never been a huge fan of Robert Pattinson but, playing a criminal who tries to rescue his mentally-challenged brother from jail following a heist gone wrong, I found him to be pretty engaging. The film has a 70s feel to it - not in look or visual design per se, but in the music, titling and editing - and that works in its favour to make it stand out a little. I enjoyed it and, at 99 minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

In A Nutshell:- Vegetarian becomes obsessed with consuming raw flesh.
Any Good? The word “horror” when it comes to films usually brings to mind something supernatural in origin. There’s nothing supernatural in this French film but it is certainly horrific and stomach-churning in places. I would say that it’s a good film but I don’t know if it’s an enjoyable film to watch. I can definitely see why this made a lot of the best film lists - it has a distinctive feel to it.

Super Dark Times
In A Nutshell:- Nerdy teens in the early 90s are involved in a gruesome accident
Any Good? Plot-wise, this may not be the most surprising of films but the strong cast and suitably moody direction carry it through. I was thoroughly engaged through to the end, even if the ending does feel slightly formulaic.

The Lure
In A Nutshell:- 80s themed Polish horror musical about man-eating mermaids
Any Good? Whether it’s any good or not is almost irrelevant after that nutshell description, isn’t it? It’s certainly unique and worth a watch as you’re unlikely to have seen anything quite like it. Part 80s musical, part fairy tale, part gory horror, it certainly has its own vision. For me, the ending felt a little choppy and rushed (some narrative leaps that are glossed over) but it certainly was unlike anything else.

In A Nutshell? A healthy 90-year old man comes to the realisation that his life is near to its end
Any Good? The late, great Harry Dean Stanton’s last film is given added poignancy by this fact and, with the cast featuring former co-star Tom Skerritt and director David Lynch, there’s an added sense of this being a farewell performance. It’s a slow gentle examination of an atheist coming to terms with the end of his life and there’s a nicely odd feel to it - not quite David Lynch but you can see why the director has agreed to play a role in the film. Definitely worth a watch but don’t go in expecting action and incident.

That’s what I’ve watched so far - there are a few more on the list so I’ll tell you about them once I’ve watched them. Can't really tell you about them before I’ve watched them, can I? (Hmm, although maybe that’s an idea for a blog - I describe a film’s plot from just the title and see how close I get… I’ll let that one stew away a bit maybe.)

Monday, 8 January 2018

Funny For Your Eyes And Ears

I know I said that I wasn’t going to do a whole review of stuff what was good in 2017 and that I was just going to limit myself to films but, given that I then reviewed some podcasts and am now going to talk about some of the comedy of the year, I’ve basically sneaked in a review of 2017 into the early days of 2018. Well, it’s my blog, I can do what I bloomin’ well like.

I’m a massive sci fi nerd, that much we have established, but I’m equally (if not more so) a massive comedy nerd. So here are some comedy things what have me do some laughing recently.

Having recently completed Series 5 and a Champion Of Champions 2-parter for Christmas, this is showing no signs of losing its appeal. It’s the simplicity of this one that works - comedians do silly things, best thing wins - combined with a chance to develop a sense of who they are over the course of the series by keeping the same guests for the whole run. Also, the fact that they don’t know what the tasks are means that they can't rely on prepared material and produces some genuinely surprising results sometimes.

I came late to the party on this BBC4 gem, discovering it just as the third and final series was due to air. It’s a lovely, warm, gentle series but no less funny for its gentleness. There’s genuine affection for this bunch of metal-detecting misfits and at no time does the humour ever mock them for their obsession. Absolutely loved it and the last series leaves everything in a very satisfying place - I’ll miss it but hope they don’t go back as there isn’t any more that really needs to be said.

Red Dwarf XII
Ah, the old familiar crossover between sci fi and comedy. Somehow a comedy series that is approaching it’s 30th anniversary (30 years old this year) feels like it shouldn't still be funny. Yet somehow, over the last three series, Doug Naylor seems to have rediscovered the character-based comedy that made it funny in the first place and produced something that has provoked some genuine chuckles. An impressive feat for something that’s been around as long as Red Dwarf.

The Good Place
Entering its second year, this comedy from one of the producers of the US Office and creator of Parks And Recreation is a real surprise. It’s funny but also surprising, using a Lost-style cliffhanger at the end of every episode to draw you in (without the ludicrously convoluted and made up as it went along back story of Lost). To say too much about the show would spoil it but it’s definitely a current favourite.

Roisin Conaty of Man Down fame writes and stars about a single actress struggling her way through life. It’s funny and engaging and Conaty, having played support in Man Down for several years, shows she is more than capable of carrying her own show. Hoping this one gets a second series.

This has to be the highlight of the year. I didn’t really know much about it so didn’t know what to expect - what I got was a sitcom that was funny, filthy and heartfelt. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who writes and stars as the titular but unnamed character, is fantastic - I’m a big fan of the takes-to-camera style of comedy and she is great at it. With this and Gameface, 2017 was a strong year for British female comedians.

So give some or all of those a try if you haven’t already. Might well just tickle a funny bone or two.

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Night Of The Fractured Nose

In what may well be one of the longest cases of foreshadowing, I teased this as a blog post on the horizon over six years ago (see here if you don’t believe me). It turns out that it was just a very long horizon, that’s all…

I've always had a substantial nose. You wouldn't necessarily go so far as to call it a massive hooter but it has a definite presence in the central region of the old face. Grandad (Dad’s dad) had what he liked to call a Roman nose as it was roamin’ all over his face (ba-dum tish). Mine's not that bad… yet. It does seem to still be growing as it’s definitely larger than it used to be. If that continues, it may well take up most of the facial real estate in years to come. Anyway, I digress a little bit…

This particular nasal fable takes place in the heady days of the Nineties. Oasis were just becoming a thing, alcopops were all the rage (bottle of Hooch or Two Dogs anyone?) and I was a trained fitter of children’s shoes at a Famous London Department Store* (it’s true - I wrote about it before). This for me was the heady time post-school and pre-university when I was working to save up a bit of cash to then run through at an alarming rate when I reached university**. This was when I really discovered the concept of mid-week drinking. Sure, I’d been a Friday and Saturday night drinker for few years previously at school (like any self-respecting British schoolboy) but I was always (relatively) conscientious about school work so never drank during the week.

Now though, well, I was still living at home but technically (and really only technically) I was an adult with a job and his own money and that. If I wanted to go out after work for drinks, well, then I could. 

In the dim mists of time, I’m not a hundred percent sure whether it was a birthday or a leaving drinks (birthday, I think) but with the traditional drinky foolishness of the office worker, we went straight from work to the pub and I managed to sink a surprising number of pints in a very short space of time. This was the beginning. We moved on and many and varied spirits were next on the menu. This is where memory fades and the remainder of the story is composed not of memories (of which there are none) but of the testimony of others.

At the second venue, I apparently commenced dancing on the table at some point. This was a warning sign as there was no music playing. It was decided that enough drinking had been done and I was in a state which required the moving homewards, a journey that for me would require me to navigate both tube and train; risky business. It would turn out not to be a journey that required navigation from me as, upon reaching the tube barrier, I took out my ticket and passed out face down. Don’t worry, though - my nose broke my fall.

As I’m propped up off to the side of the barrier (covered in blood from my profusely bleeding nose), an off-duty, passing paramedic checked me out (yep, there was an off-duty passing paramedic) and decided that it was ambulance time for me. He suggested that I might need my stomach pumped; fortunately, I managed to empty it all over myself during the journey to the hospital at which point the parents are summoned and respond with the appropriate level of concern and storing-this-up-for-future-amusement.

Being a dreadful burden on the good people of the National Health Service through my own stupidity and recklessness, the nurses on duty decided that I needed some payback and, after ascertaining that it’s been some time since I had a tetanus shot, roll me over, drop the trousers and stick the needle where the sun don’t shine. Unfortunately for them, I was so out of it that my only response is a sort of drunken smile.

I returned to work with a nose that takes up much of the centre of my face (the fractured nose of the title), glasses that were bent out of shape to fit around it and a neck brace from the whiplash I sustained upon hitting the floor. Quite rightly, I was ruthlessly mocked until someone else made a drunken spectacle of themselves and the mantle was passed.

I feel like there should be a moral about learning my lesson and knowing my limits but sadly that definitely isn’t the case. I have never been hospitalised through alcohol again but that’s probably more luck than judgement. There was some minor karmic repercussion as I did eventually have the old hooter operated on to remove the twisted bit of bone in there and help me breathe more easily but that’s about it (and I'm not convinced it's made that much difference in the end). I’m afraid if you’re looking for tidy moral resolutions, you’re definitely barking up the wrong blog.

*No, not that one, it was on Oxford Street.

** OK, so the plan wasn’t to run through it at an alarming rate when I reached university but that was the reality

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Funny For The Ears

Over the last five or six years, the podcast has become a mainstay of modern cultural life. It caters for niche audiences which, while still of a reasonable size, are not substantial enough for mainstream radio. It also offers the chance for the podcast creator to get an unfiltered slice of whatever it is they’re trying to offer. As will come as no surprise, I tend to veer towards the comedic in my listening tastes so here are some of the poddy goodnesses that fill my earholes on my regular commute (as someone who, on his standard commute to the office, can have around 90 minutes of listening time per day, that’s a lot of earhole hours to fill).

Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast
Probably the biggest of the UK-based comedy podcasts, Herring has had most of the big names of UK comedy as well as the medium names and the smaller names. It’s this variety that’s very appealing and often, someone who you’re not expecting much from can turn out to be immensely entertaining. Herring has an intentionally juvenile and silly style of questioning that often disarms people and seems to get some honest and occasionally revelatory answers from his guests.

The Adam Buxton Podcast
I was a huge fan of the Adam and Joe radio show on 6Music and this podcast keeps some of that same vibe going. It has a more varied mix of guests than Richard Herring’s, branching out into musicians, authors and just people that Adam Buxton is interested in, meaning that you get a good mix of funnier podcasts along with some serious / reflective ones. Some of the highlights for me include a couple of interviews with Louis Theroux in which Louis reveals a much sillier side than we normally see as Adam and Louis have known each other since secondary school (including repeated attempts by Louis to sing the falsetto parts of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie).

Athletico Mince
This is a recent one for me and may seem like an odd choice given that it’s ostensibly a football podcast and, as we all know, sport is generally a four letter word to me. However, the actual football content in each episode is pretty minimal and it’s largely an excuse for Bob Mortimer and his mate Andy Dawson to go off on weird flights of fancy. Probably the most Marmite-y one on the list - depends on how funny you find Bob Mortimer (very for me).

No Such Thing As A Fish
In which the QI elves (the researchers on the show) run through a load of weird and wonderful facts that they found that week and didn’t use in episodes of QI. It’s basically four nerdy people amusing each other with silly facts and some dreadful puns and is just good fun to listen to. Mainly as some of the facts are so very bizarre.

How Did This Get Made?
One that I dip in and out of depending on the film - three American comedians pick a terrible film each week and rip it to shreds, sometimes with a sense of fondness for the source material, sometimes with genuine bafflement that it got made. I like a good bad movie so this can be quite fun but only if you've seen the film.

There are quite a few others that I listen to intermittently as well but those are probably the main ones. So there you go - if you ever need to fill up the old lugholes with some funny, interesting or just plain silly stuff, you wouldn’t go too far wrong with any of those.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Rude Awakening

A sound. A sort of insistent sound. Familiar and bringing it with a certain sense of dread. Ignore it. Nope, not one of those noises you’re supposed to ignore. Go for the combination move of opening eyes and flailing outward with hand in general direction of irritating sound. Contact with something hard. Sound stops. 

Decision time. Get up or give it a few more minutes. The latter option is a risk. The Irritating Noise Of Depressing Inevitability has been permanently silenced for the day. It will not go off again this morning. If Option 2 is selected, there is the risk of eye closure followed by instantaneous passing of up to forty five minutes without noticeable gap. It’s not preferred but the first choice is the only choice. Move legs and get out of bed.

Dark. Cold. No other movement in the house. Bathroom. Shower on. Warmer. Wash and then spend a few minutes sort of standing under the comforting wet warmth aimlessly staring into the middle distance and wondering if it possible to just stay in the shower all day. Eventually come to the conclusion that probably not a workable idea. Potential for excessive pruning.

Clothes on. Bag packed. Leave the house, cold again. Still dark. Shouldn't be outside. It’s nighttime. No one should get up and go out at nighttime. That’s for being in bed, not going around outside with clothes and shoes and stuff.

Train station. Find regular spot. Be irrationally pleased that no one else is standing there as that’s your spot where you can get on and go to your seat (yes, it is your seat, yes, it has got your name on it*). Get on train and remember that they’re new trains and you haven’t got used to the new layout yet so you don’t have a spot or a seat anymore. Which makes absolutely no difference anyway as the train's always empty at this time.

Fight the urge for the eyes to close. You will not fall asleep on the way in, you will not fall asleep on the way in, you will not fall asl… head nods and jerks back up again. Then it’s time to get off (you have reached your final destination, hope you have a pleasant onward journey) and shamble the rest of the way to…! Yep, that’s your lot for Christmas, mate, back to the grind. Ah well, was nice while it lasted.

* No, it hasn’t.