Monday, 30 July 2007

Sunday 29 July 2007

horn hooted, flags waved.
they stopped the traffic and danced.
we’d just thump people.

I was up Edgware Road today and spent a pleasant hour in the park, writing and dealing with odd green insects who, for their own strange reasons, seemed to find me irresistible.
A woman came to sit on the next bench.
‘Sundays are boring, aren’t they?’
‘Well, they don’t have to be.’
‘I’ve been dealing with my husband..’
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to this, as I was debating whether she was talking sexual services or murder, but before I could formulate a response she continued…
‘He’s broke his hip and he’s been in bed for four weeks.’
‘That must be difficult.’ I said. It’s not that I didn’t feel sorry for the woman, but I suspected she was after a little more than a chat about bedbaths.
I was saved from any further embroilment as just then all hell broke loose and cars started whizzing by, tooting their horns and waving flags out of their windows. It was the Iraqi flag, which I only realised because three teenage boys ran past me with the flag on the front of the T-shirts and IRAQ written in big letters on the back.
‘Have we withdrawn the troops?’ I thought, ‘Is George Bush dead?’
It turned out that Iraq had won the Asian Cup at Football.
By the time I reached Edgware Road itself, traffic was at a standstill and people were out of their cars and dancing in the street, music provided by their state-of-the-art in-car stereo systems.
It was a good half-hour before the police cottoned on and arrived to divert the noisier of the celebrants into the side streets where they could hoot and dance to their hearts’ contents.
I escaped into Marks and Spencers where I bought a bottle of wine.
‘Do you have ID?’ said the twenty-something cashier.
‘What for?’ I asked, bemused.
‘I’m only joking,’ she said.
‘Yes,’ I snapped, still smarting from the Bill Oddie comparison, ‘Very funny!’
I will have to do something about my image.
At the tube, I was confronted by another celebrity omen, as who should be walking into the Tube but Ian Reddington, better known as Vernon from ‘Coronation Street’.
What sort of omen is he?
Only Time will tell.

Saturday 28 July 2007

‘call for gay bum sex’
it said on the wall outside
the old fire station.

Coming out of Hammersmith Station today I saw the homeless man who usually sits there shouting (very loudly, I might add) ‘Have you got any change, please?’
If I’m in a good mood I may oblige.
On this occasion he chose to point at me and chant ‘Bill Oddie! Bill Oddie! Bill Oddie!’ like a strange bird’s mating call. I ignored him with as much dignity as I could muster.
I wandered down to Tescos and noted that on the wall outside the old fire station, someone had written a mobile number in large marker pen and underneath ‘Call For Gay Bum Sex’.
I suspect this was written by a heterosexual since no gay man would ever use the phrase ‘Gay Bum Sex’ and especially not on the wall outside the old fire station.
Later, while discussing the Bill Oddie incident at Robert’s house (We’d taken a taxi round to Robert’s as we were donating to him our old television, which has served us faithfully for many years but which has now been replaced by a newer slimmer version.) the question arose, how homeless is he? He seems to know what Bill Oddie looks like (unfortunately, somewhat similar to myself, though far less svelte and adorable), unless of course, Bill Oddie is in the habit of giving money to strangers outside Hammersmith Tube Station, along with his name. Added to which, the other day I heard him singing ‘I’d rather have a bowl of Cocopops’ (that’s the homeless man, not Bill Oddie).
Robert cooked us a lovely Moussaka, and we waded our way through his record collection.

Friday 27 July 2007

the black dog is back,
sitting on my thoughts and just
snarling at my work.

Please mark any sightings of Paul Ross in your Celebrity Almanacs as an omen of good for all humanity (see last posting) as tonight, Charley, the cabbage-patch troll, has been evicted from the Big Brother House with 87% of the vote. I am hoping I will never have to hear her brain-stabbing voice again or see her odious face. I suspect, however, that this is a forlorn hope.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Thursday 26 July 2007

the well-spoken man
announced the minor delays
as though they were gifts

The bizarre bit of religious news this week is the plight of Shambo, the sacred bull of some Welsh Hindus. Shambo has been diagnosed with TB and the authorities have, quite rightly, I suppose, decreed that Shambo should be put down. The Hindus disagree, and once again, we are faced with a situation where people feel that their religion puts them beyond the law.
Shambo is a Friesian, by the way. I am not sure why that makes him sacred. Would an Aberdeen Angus be less holy?
On my regular journey between the Eastbound Piccadilly Line platform at Victoria and the Southbound Victoria Line platform I have to walk along a sizeable tunnel which is currently having its poster frames refurbished. Today, all the poster frames were empty and I was struck by how refreshing it was to see a kind of frosted refection in the steel at the back of the frames rather than a gallery of mostly tedious adverts for things people don’t much want.
When I got home, I was just heading along the street to my home when who should I spot walking toward me but Paul Ross, the spiv-suited brother of Jonathan Ross, usually to be seen as a talking head on those ‘100 worst (insert category here)’ programmes that seem to show interminably on Channel 4.
This was no doubt a Celebrity Omen, though what it may portend I cannot yet fathom.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Wednesday 25 July 2007

i roar when I belch.
it sounds like windy lions
locked up in a flat.

It would appear that I owe Jordan and Peter Andre an apology as yesterday I posted that they had named their offspring Tiramisu. This was an unforgivable error on my part. The child has in fact been monickered ‘Tiamaria’, named after the classy alcoholic beverage, popular with all A list celebrities.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

everyone’s gay now.
i’m tired of them all, mincing
on the bandwagon.

It seems that Jordan and Peter Andre, or Gormless and Shameless as they’re more regularly known by friends and family, have decided on a name for their baby. I did suggest to them Bitumen for a girl or Asphalt for a boy, but they decided against my choices and have called the new arrival Tiramisu, after the famous Italian dessert.
There was a very interesting programme on Channel 4 tonight called ‘How Gay Sex Changed The World’, which was not, as I feared, a tortuous history of gay sexual technique, but rather an overview of changing attitudes from the 1950s to date. ‘Out’ gay celebrities such as Simon Callow, Matthew Parrish and Andy Bell recalled memories of the first Gay Pride marches, their introduction to Gay News or their first experience of gay bars and clubs.
The most surreal moment, and one which will stay in my head for, I suspect, quite a while, was the snooty tones of Brian Sewell, talking about the Earls Court leather bar ‘The Coleherne’, (wherein, I have to say, I have spent many a happy afternoon and/or evening).
‘They arrive at the bar with all the accoutrements of the biker, forgetting only that essential element, the motorbike. Some of them used to clatter down Earls Court Road with spurs on the back of their boots. Spurs! I ask you!’
Sadly, the Coleherne has since gone very vanilla, and its grim black interior has been downgraded to a nauseous pink. I dare say neither Brian nor I will be going back there any time soon.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Monday 23 July 2007

victoria line.
hot and slow, a tango danced
seated on tartan.

Our mate Robert came to visit us this evening. I was late home due to several delays on the London Underground due to various factors such as Humour Failure at Seven Sisters and Passenger Apathy at Mile End.
The Ugly One made pasta and we watched Big Brother, although Robert, having drunk several glasses of red wine, talked all the way through.
I am growing more cynical by the day of BB’s manipulation of voting and selection. This week, presumably in response to a growing dissatisfaction among viewers that the vile and potato-faced Charley is still in house (‘Body from Baywatch, Face from Crimewatch’ as someone recently described her) BB have been portraying her in a less than flattering light. The sequence in which she described the viewing audience as ‘those idiots out there’ has been shown at least twice with the inclusion of Davina McCall’s comment ‘Did she just call the audience ‘idiots’?’, added to which, during Friday’s eviction, the crowd were allowed to shout ‘Get Charley Out’, something which has not been allowed to happen in previous weeks.
Thankfully for us, we are not idiots (well, not all of us) and are beginning to see the BB game plan for what it really is.Charley, I was told today, has already been signed up by the agency that represents Davina McCall and Dermot O’Leary.
If that did happen, when and where did it happen?

Sunday 22 July 2007

the empire fish bar
had no pasties. none! you’d think
there was a war on.

Shepherds Bush on a Sunday afternoon. A lone market stallholder sits in the sun, tanning his clothes-rails, while I wander home with my chicken, basmati rice, lime, onion, tomato and hot pepper.
My thoughts were on food. Sadly, Greggs the Bakers chooses not to open on a Sunday, which seems like a criminal waste of pastry sales to me, but there you are.
The Empire Fish Bar will have a Cornish pasty, I thought, but no!
I had to make do with a beef pattie which, although very nice, seemed insultingly small.
Sundays, of course, are, by tradition, a religious day of rest, though thankfully we have grown up and moved away from the times when no-one worked at all on a Sunday, and at least in the UK, most of us are relatively free from the rather pointless social obligation of having to attend church.
Still, Sundays for me bring back memories of my teenage years and a whole day without public transport or shops. Occasionally I would walk into the town, which would be deserted, and sit on a bench watching the tumbleweeds rolling up Regent Street toward Woolworths.
That was then, but the ghosts are still there.
When I got home I started my Curried Chicken and spent a couple of hours writing.
Ken and Diedre have been conspicuously absent from ‘Coronation Street’ lately, which leaves life on the street a little dull. I am bored with the psychological problems of the Peacocks, particularly Oor Clurr.
She needs a good shouting at and a bowl of scouse.

Saturday 21 July 2007

an assignation
in the rain, under vexed skies.
the sun forgave me

Friday 20 July 2007

i was chatted up
outside the mosque. it’s good to
make love and not war.

Thursday 19 July 2007

it gets to the point
where my world’s faded like pants
washed too many times

Monday, 23 July 2007

Wednesday 18 July 2007

the charcoal grill man
watches women and i watch
the charcoal grill man

Tuesday 17 July 2007

no 'queen camilla'
she says. did the earth temble?
shocked angels protest?

Monday 16 July 2007

new harry potter,
and I wish I was both young
and a good wizard.

I keep wishing that I had suggested to JK Rowling that she had written a book called ‘Harry Potter and The Arse of The Bandersnipe’. As a name it knocks ‘The Half Blood Prince’ into a cocked hat.
The latest film - which we went to see a few days after it was released, hoping that we would avoid hordes of screeching children – is a blinding production as always, but suffers in that so much had to be excised from the text of the doorstop novel that those who have not read the book will be baffled.
My mate Mr Soprano rang from America to tell me he was baffled, especially by the issue of the giants, which was no doubt a mystery to anyone else who can’t be bothered to read the book.
It’s not difficult. You sit down somewhere comfortable and start at page 1.
You’ll soon get the hang of it.

Saturday 15 July 2007

thunder splits the sky
open over shepherds bush
and the green trembles

Last night, there being nothing on TV, and the weather being somewhat shite, we cracked open the alcohol and settled down to watch some DVDs which we’d bought and not got round to watching (as you do).
The first was the old BBC adaptation of ‘The Hound of The Baskervilles’ with Peter Cushing as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Dr Watson. Gary Raymond, a familiar face to TV and film viewers played Sir Henry Baskerville, although admittedly with an accent that kept jumping back and forth over the Atlantic.
This was from a time when the BBC were quite brilliant at this sort of thing. They knew how to build atmosphere with a studio set and some incidental music. Because of the limitations the drama had to be driven by the performances, and, one has to say, Peter Cushing was quite brilliant as Sherlock Holmes; a far more intense and edgy Holmes than he played in the film of ‘Hound’ some nine years previously with Christopher Lee.
Following this our next premiere was ‘Old Mother Riley’s Jungle Treasure’ (1951).
For those not acquainted with this odd cultural phenomenon, Old Mother Riley was a variety drag act, real name Arthur Lucan, supported in his thespian endeavours by his wife, who played (with arguable success) his daughter, Kitty.
Riley was the variety epitome of the penniless Irish washerwoman, who, in a surprisingly large number of movies, produced mostly by Butcher Films, found herself embroiled in a scheme or adventure from which she emerged somehow triumphant albeit just as badly off financially.
‘Jungle Treasure’ finds Mother Riley and Kitty working in an antique shop, about to go bankrupt, but one which holds the bed of Morgan the Pirate, in which is hidden a map showing the location of his hidden treasure. The ghost of Morgan (played by Sebastian Cabot) appears to Mother Riley and tells her to take the map and find the treasure, while at the same time, a gang of unscrupulous rich people (it seems they’ve always been around) are trying to get the map for themselves.
So, Mother Riley and her entourage set off to a version of the West Indies which contemporary viewers would find funnier than the intentional comedy. Lions and tigers abound in the jungles, as well as penguins, even more bizarrely.
I was worried that the depiction of black natives would be at least demeaning, but this is, thankfully, not the case for the most part. The central native chief turns out to be cleverer than the rest of the characters and was educated at Eton, while the performance of the obligatory Voodoo-worshipping cannibals (which seemed to appear with monotonous regulatory in ‘jungle’ films of the day) could well be described as a parody of such cinematic clichés of the time. Their language seems to consist of one or two words, repeated in various tones, another cliché of the cinema which was last used in ‘One Million Years BC’ where the word ‘Akita’ seemed to mean everything from ‘Hello’ to ‘Watch out for the Dinosaur’ and ‘Stop playing that conch, I want to go to sleep’
Mother Riley’s natives were, (I suspect) a troupe of African dancers who are given an extended showcase within the movie to show off their moves to great effect, a situation which could have been far worse had the producers chosen to adopt the generally American device of blacking white men up for the roles, (although it has to be said that the British had a tendency at one time to use white actors to play Indians or Chinese, particularly on TV, a phenomenon I may be exploring at another time).
Practically all the characters in the film are caricatures of some sort. Personally, I could find nothing offensive in this harmless and sometimes very funny rarity which I am glad has been released on DVD at long last.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Saturday 14 July 2007

the handmade soap man.
it’s not him that’s made by hand.
i think it’s the soap

Now and again I go on a quest to look for the soap man, of Church Street market, and garner a new supply of his semi-mythical hand-made peppermint soap. Actually, it’s not semi-mythical. I bought some a while back, and I have to say that it is the best soap I have ever had. It just seems that every time I go to the soap man he has sold out of the stuff.
Today he sold me some ‘jellangela’ (that’s what it sounded like, anyway) and a bar of seaweed.
‘The thing is, mate’ he says, with cockney barrer-boy precision, ‘I’m here early morning, and one bloke might want seventeen of these and another might want ten of those, and on another day they might want nuffink.. but a lot of stuff goes in the mornings, and you come here at two o’clock and expect to get yer peppermint!’
‘Ah,’ I said.
‘Exactly,’ he says.
‘So what it boils down to… is that I should get up earlier.’
‘Yer’ve got it in one, sunshine. That’ll be a fiver!’
So I mosied off to the park with my bag of soap and a Greggs pasty, where I did a bit of writing, until I was disturbed by small children rolling themselves down a grass slope, over and over again. It’s not that I don’t like children, there are some children who are very funny and just brilliant, it’s more that I can’t stand the whiny noises children make. Isn’t there some way we could silence them when they’re out in public, like with muzzles or tongue-clamps?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Friday 13 July 2007

serial killers have
become new mythology.
demons in our world.

There’s a new and rather intriguing series started on the FX channel, simply called ‘Dexter’ in which a forensics expert, working for the Miami police department, is by night a serial killer. Dexter is a likeable enough chap, helping his foster sister (a policewoman struggling for recognition) with difficult cases. This is set against a background in which only 20% of homicides in Miami are solved to any satisfactory degree. Dexter, whose foster father was a cop, has learnt how to avoid detection, and uses his compulsion to kill only against those who have evaded justice. In the first episode alone, Dexter deals out his particular brand of justice to a child-killer and man who avoided conviction for multiple rape and murder on a technicality.
Dexter provides a running commentary on the action and, thanks mainly to the excellent casting of Michael C Hall as the paradoxical Dexter, gives us a chilling insight to the psychology of a sociopath who acts out emotions as though he were living in a play. In reality, he is ‘empty inside’, devoid of emotion, except for the two women in his life, his foster sister and his girlfriend, who, having suffered a life of sexual violence at the hands of an abusive ex-husband, is not keen to get involved in any further intimacy. Dexter himself is incapable of normal sexual arousal.
One could argue that our interest in such characters, as with Hannibal Lecter, who murdered people because their abstraction provided a positive outcome for the world, mirrors a desire in the general population for someone to be actually doing something about the horrors of society. In this sense, serial killers, at least fictional ones, have become the new superheroes. They lead a secret life, and have a strange ability to recognise each other, and for the most part seem to possess powers above and beyond those of mere non-murdering mortals. This is as true for the serial killers of the world of Lecter as it is for Dexter’s world. Oddly, this has recently been mirrored in British crime series, such as ‘Wire in The Blood’ and, more recently and more obviously ‘In Cold Blood’ (?) in which Matthew Kelly is the central serial killer, an individual seemingly far more dangerous and intelligent than the rest of the population.
One could also argue that, as a society, we need to have our monsters distanced from us. The very words ‘monster’ or ‘beast’ – often associated with serial killers - automatically suggest that these people are something inhuman. Fictionally, we make them so. As with Nineteen Fifties Science Fiction films and novels, in which the aliens often lived among us as humans, so now our fictional serial killers live within humanity, using their superior skills and talents to evade detection.
In the pilot episode of ‘Dexter’, our hero is confronted with a new serial killer, one who murders women, removes all their blood and cuts them precisely into measured pieces. Dexter becomes fascinated by what he feels to be is his Moriarty, a killer whose methods and ‘powers’ rival his own. By instinct, accident, or actions on the part of his Nemesis, Dexter finds himself on the trail of the killer, and realises – when the killer throws the head of one of his victims onto Dexter’s car – that he is being challenged to a gruesome form of game.
As gruesome as the subject matter is, the series is well-written, compelling and laced with a necessarily dark humour.
One wonders, however, in a society which takes things so literally as does America, how long it will be before a real killer cites the defence that ‘Dexter made me do it’.
Talking of monsters, today marked the end of (yawn) Fake Week in the Big Brother House. As was expected, Charley was voted out by the public, but after a ‘fake’ eviction and interview which everyone in the House saw, she was put back in. I have never been so disappointed with BB as I am with this series. The producers have manipulated nominations and votes blatantly in order to avoid controversial housemates being evicted. Next year, why don’t the producers just decide who is going to go each week and save us all the bother.
There is another issue here which needs addressing. The only black people in the House are Charley and Brian. I sincerely hope that general populace don’t think of them as representative of the Black Community. Although I am sure Brian is a very nice man, I am concerned that many teenagers will see him as a role model. This is a person who admits that he ‘paid no attention at school’ and seems to have no idea who Shakespeare is or was. Either he has special needs, which should be addressed, or he is, as many people suspect, terminally stupid. It actually scares me that one day he may have children.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Thursday 12 July 2007

‘sorry’, he said, ‘for
not ringing. it’s family.’
then a pause. ‘love you.’

I love getting post. Today it was ‘Poetry Wales’ with an audio cassette of Anglo-Welsh poetry, and my subscription copy of ‘Anon’, a marvellous poetry magazine which judges its submissions anonymously so that work is not accepted for publication on the basis of fame or notoriety.
I can highly recommend this magazine. The poetry is of a very high standard and is interspersed with articles of relevance to the Poetry community (if indeed, there is such a beast).
My favourite poem from the last issue was called The Kipper and The Corpse (I regret that I do not recall the name of the poet) and was a tribute to the episode of ‘Fawlty Towers’ where Basil found one of the guests dead, and spent the rest of the episode attempting to hide the fact from his other paying customers.
It gave me faith that Poetry is indeed universal and can address any subject, a concept which was never conveyed to us when we sat through English Literature lessons, baffled by Chaucer and Wordsworth whose work, excellent though it now seems in retrospect, did not inspire us to express our own lives through poetry in a contemporary manner.
I seem to have come over all pretentious, so I’ll move swiftly on and express my continuing disappointment with this year’s Big Brother.
I am, it has to be said, a cynical sort of bloke, and when Big Brother announced that this week was Fake Week, I began to smell a rat. It appears there will be no eviction this week. The housemates think there will be an eviction, but the evictee (either the odious Charley, or her gormless and nasally monotonic friend, Nicky) will be evicted, interviewed, and returned to the House.
For me, this is just another ploy on the part of Big Brother to keep Charley in the House, after having fixed the nominations last week to ensure she escaped the public vote.
After eight years, Big Brother has evolved into something other than it was when it began.
The first series, which featured contestants who could at least conjure up a vocabulary, and were more than two years out of puberty, was compulsive viewing. We were glued to the daily updates and the dramas which arose naturally out of the sheer boredom of the experience. That was exciting.
Now, everything seems stage-managed, and the contestants chosen for their stupidity or freak value. Yes, Brian is very sweet, but shouldn’t we be ashamed that someone born and raised in this country can reach the age of twenty and not know who Shakespeare is?
I see no hope for this series, but would like Channel 4 or Endemol to appoint new producers for the next series. Why not have a Mensa Members’ House, or two teenagers and twelve ASBO pensioners? Everyone over 40?
I can guarantee that any of those options would be far more entertaining than this year’s relentless machine-gun gob name-dropping, ranting and arguing over toast and bananas.

Wednesday 11 July 2007

he told me his life
was full of pigeons and it
sounded magical.

It’s nice to have a day off now and again and have an adventure. Today I had another trip to Southall, mainly because they have a very nice park and it was a lovely day.
On impulse, I decided to leave the park via another exit, thinking that it would bring me out on the main road, but I ended up in an unknown street, and so decided to follow it in the direction I thought the main road must be.
I got to a crossroads next to a bridge, feeling a little concerned, as it seemed as though I had got myself completely lost, when I realised, to my surprise, that I was standing outside the Glassy Junction, and, far from being lost, had discovered an unknown shortcut to the park.
I went in, thinking that I might as well have a drink before I went home. As I have said before, the Glassy Junction is a Punjabi bar, with a notice outside which declares it accepts rupees as payment.
I got into conversation with an Indian lorry driver, a very nice man, who, somewhat earlier in the conversation than I had expected, declared that although his family were Sikhs, he was an atheist, was uncircumcised and raced pigeons.
Apart from the pigeons we seemed to have a lot in common, and I spent a very pleasant couple of hours laughing and talking with him. Indeed, he invited me out for another drink in a different pub in the area, so I may well take him up on his offer.
I suspect he wants me to meet his pigeons, but I will reserve a decision on that until the moment arrives.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Thursday 5 July 2007

galactic patrol.
i traverse parsecs of space
going to brixton.

I have been reading Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ which is (the clue is in the title, really) a book denouncing the existence of God, examining the causes of belief, and with rigorous logic demolishing the flimsy scaffolding of blather with which the (particularly American) Christian authorities bamboozle their congregations.
Dawkins goes as far as to examine religions as cultural viruses or memes which are literally passed – like diseases – from parent to child, and considering the topic in that light it seems all too clearly plausible that we, as a world, are deliberately infecting our children with false ideas, generation after generation.
Like other reviewers who have suggested thus, I would love to see this book on all school curriculae in both the UK and the US, although there is little hope that such common sense will prevail while we have government leaders in so-called civilised western democracies who openly declare such primitive beliefs.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Tuesday 3 July 2007

the sky vomited,
drowned the street. fitz said it’s like
something biblical.

I was waiting outside our secret government bunker this evening for some work friends as we had planned to go into Clapham for a burger when suddenly the weather took an extraordinary turn for the worse. Solid rain and huge lumps of hail cascaded from the sky while lightning and thunder crashed overhead. Within a couple of minutes, the hail had collected into a covering inches deep and water began pouring down the street, its level rising until the pavement disappeared completely.
‘Oooh, it’s like something Biblical’ said Fitz, standing beside me and as childishly excited as I was.
I jokingly remarked that it was God’s response to my threat this morning to start an atheist’s rebellion following the attempted bombings of the last couple of days.
Fitz gave me a strange look, as if mulling over the possibility of God smiting the whole of South London just to teach me a lesson.
Despite the evidence, more people believe in God than in Global Warming, and those that do accept the reality of Global Warming don’t see it as a serious threat.
I suspect the people of Sheffield might be coming round to the idea though, or else they’re building arks.
I'd like to take this opportunity to say hello to Grimsby, and whoever it is who's popping in from up North.
Welcome Grimsbanians! We salute you!

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Monday 2 July 2007

there’s more crazy rain.
someone near the sheffield zoo
is building an ark.

I was amused to hear Joan Rivers’ remark on the quizcom ‘Nine Out of Ten Cats’ on Friday:-
‘It’s the first time the Spice Girls have been together in years… just like Paris Hilton’s knees.’
‘Quizcom’ seems to be the new word for these comedy panel shows, which have been a staple of Radio and Television for longer than I can remember. The word ‘quizcom’ however, seems to be a relatively new meme for which, according to, the UKTV G2 channel is responsible.

‘Quizcom is a brand new phrase UKTV G2 has cleverly coined to describe our bestloved panel game shows, all of which are witty and spontaneous, erudite and clever, with a touch of irreverence thrown in. There has to be a chairman, who presides over events with a firm hand. There has to be a regular guest or team captain, preferably given to flight of fancy, and there has to be occasional guests who contribute to the show’s ethos. It also has to be half-an-hour long, be recorded before a live audience, and winning is almost irrelevant. That’s Quizcom – quiz plus comedy.’

‘Just a Minute’ for instance, has been running continuously since 1967, its longevity due its simple format in which contestants have to speak continuously on a given subject for sixty seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation.
On the other hand, many Quizcoms, unlike sitcoms, tend to have a longer shelf life. ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’ chaired by the marvellous Humphrey Lyttlelton, has been with us on radio since April 1972, and on TV, ‘Have I Got News For You’, the satirical Rottweiller of Quizcoms, has been on air since 1990 and amazingly survived its host, Angus Deayton, being exposed in the National Press in 2002 for allegedly indulging in cocaine-fuelled romps with prostitutes.
The most innovative sitcom of the year, if one can call it such, is ‘Annually Retentive’, a strange hybrid, shamefully hidden away on a late night spot on BBC 3. Starring the very talented (and Welsh) Rob Brydon, it is a comedy revolving around the fictional quizcom, ‘Annually Retentive’, in which Rob Brydon plays himself as the host, and in which many other ‘names’ play themselves, or, more actually, a satirical caricature of themselves. This idea of course, has already been used in Ricky Gervais’ ‘Extras’ to great effect, but where Gervais played a somewhat naïve and sympathetic character, continually blundering disastrously into areas of political correctness, and encountering theatrical monsters, Brydon himself is the monster, with an ego inflated well beyond the boundaries of his fame, and plagued with neuroses and petty jealousies.It’s an interesting direction for comedy to go in, especially taking into account the public’s seemingly unquenchable appetite for reality programmes.
Put it on BBC 1, you mad scheduling fools!

Sunday 1 July 2007

they gathered today
on corners outside boozers
to mourn freedom’s death.

Today is the day on which the smoking ban comes into force.
I went out into the city and was struck by the number of groups of people, bunched around the doorways of pubs, smoking frantically and no doubt desperate to get back to their drinks.
I’m in two minds about this ban. I accept the argument that non-smokers don’t really relish having clouds of smoke wafting about them, but I don’t see why a separate room could not have been provided, if publicans wished to provide one, in which cigarettes could be imbibed by consenting adults in private.
I haven’t yet been into a pub since the ban and so do not know how it will affect me personally. I am a smoker, and find the combination of a beer and cigarette to be a pleasant and comforting thing on a night out.
Having to sneak outside on a regular basis might put a dampener on the evening somewhat.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Friday 29 June 2007

bus drivers get worse
I think they’re devolving
into pre-bus man

I am beginning to hate Fridays as I inevitably find myself in a state of exhaustion by about four o’clock.
This evening I met up with the Ugly One in Hammersmith and we went to’t Big Tescos to get supplies for tomorrow. His cousin and ‘a friend’ are coming over for dinner so we needed to get some final things in.
The 295 bus-ride home was a nightmare. I don’t want to be rude about women with prams, but do they really have to travel during the rush-hour, and can’t they take the baby out of the pram and fold it up? (fold up the pram, that is, not the baby, although, in hindsight, I’d be in favour of either).
Additionally, I see some children in buggies who are more than capable of walking. If you grow to the age where you’re going to remember sitting in a pram then you’re too old to be in a pram.
Make them walk!
There were three separate buggies on the bus by the time we got through Shepherds Bush. This is, I think, illegal, since there was patently no room for the third buggy and it was blocking the aisle, prompting people attempting to get on the bus to start shouting, as well as people already on the bus who just wanted to get home.
It would help if people were restricted in the number of children they bring into the world, but no doubt we’d be breaching someone’s human rights, which amounts, ultimately, to the right to fill up the world with people and kill us all.
That’s ok though, because we all have Heaven to look forward to.
It’s a very chilling thought that a sizeable percentage of the population actually don’t care about the future of our planet as they have a delusional belief in life after death.
I’m also a little worried that a nightmare bus-ride has led me to a point akin to apocalyptic visions.
Anyway, Gordon Brown, if you are reading this, can we have some sort of legislation about prams on buses during peak hours?…. And a debate on population control.
Thank you.