Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tag Team

Audrey HepburnGood day fellow bloggers; yours truly has been tagged good and proper by blogging buddy Old Cheeser and so I must most humbly submit myself to the task at hand.

The rules are simple (they could have been written for me):

First: post the following rules and a link to the person who tagged you.

Second: share seven interesting facts about yourself. The more amazingly interesting the better.

Third: tag seven people at the end of your post linking their names to their blogs and advising them of their tagged status via the comments facility on their own blogs.

Couldn't be easier. Except finding seven interesting facts about myself is going to be an absolute labour of Hercules...

1) One of my aunts is a distant relation of Audrey Hepburn. But sadly so distant that there is utterly no mileage in me trying to capitalize on the connection.

2) I have met Mel and Sue, Roger McGough and two members of Killing Joke. Mel and Sue I met at Weston-super-Mare train station: Mel was lovely and friendly, Sue was much cooler but still very polite. They made a point of not getting into the same carriage as me. Was it something I said? Roger McGough I met at a book signing - top bloke but he gave me a very weird look. Was it something I said? The KJ band members - Jaz Coleman and Paul Raven - I met during an amazing gig at the Birmingham Institute. Jaz shook my hand (his was very sweaty) and Paul Raven was wandering around brushing his teeth. He just gave me a weird look. Was it something I said...?!?

3) I am a secret Lego geek. I absolutely adore the stuff and am an avid collector. Sad eh? However, the way I look at it, there are worse addictions. I could be into crack, booze or gambling. Or, as Karen has just pointed out: I could be into football. I'm also keen to big up the fact that Lego is a lucrative investment as the models tend to increase in value as they get older.

4) When I was a toddler my mother tells me I used to regularly throw myself down the stairs (was it something she said?) without incurring a single injury. And then one day I fell down the bottom two steps and fractured my leg resulting in a few weeks in hospital. Why my family hadn't invested in a stairgate is still a mystery to me.

5) I started my as yet unrewarded writing career when I was about 7 years old after seeing Star Wars at the local cinema. Since then I have tinkered with stories and poetry with only the occasional year off here and there for bad behaviour. A veritable monster was created. Blame George Lucas.

6) A friend and I once snuck into the grounds of Guy's Cliffe - a local heritage site owned by the Masons and reputedly haunted by the ghost of lady Felice of Warwick who threw herself from one of the windows into the river below - and part-way round were confronted by a very spooky presence. I'm not joking for once either. We didn't actually see a manifestation but something unwelcoming was definitely there. I'm happy to report that we both turned tail and ran, wise poltroons that we were...

7) I have a phobia of moths. I can't stand them anywhere near me and I cannot relax if one gets into the house. Urgh. Horrible flaky, powdery things.

There you go - seven not so fab facts to ponder about yours truly.

And now I'm tagging Ally, Eve, Rol, Laura, Tris, Emily and Per.pri to do the same!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Forsooth

Robin Hood And Maid MarianAmazingly, the anachronism count in last night’s Robin Hood episode reached an all time record low – which is good, people, very good indeed. Because it meant that the realism score actually went up a notch or two. And that’s a veritable first. For a few seconds I even wondered if I was watching the right show.

For once we didn’t have ye olde Mediaeval Ninja Surfing Turtles or ye olde wooden iPod’s blighting the mis en scene (see, I even know the lingo) instead we had a story about poison and revenge… or even the poison of revenge… with the result that Harry Lloyd who plays Will Scarlett actually had the opportunity to act his little Gap socks off.

A nice tight script, a fast moving story and lots of shots of Marian positively bouncing around the corridors of Nottingham Castle made for a pretty decent episode. Yes, Marian’s newfound bounce was most distracting. Methinks she’s discovered the wondrous delights of ye olde underwire bra. I have already submitted my request to the BBC that in a future episode she be dressed in a Madonna-esque pointy basque onto which various Norman miscreants can be impaled in a multitude of unlikely but erotic fights to the death.

Somehow I don’t think they’re going to go for it though.

For one thing the death count in Robin Hood is always unfeasibly low. Perhaps ridiculously so. Hence the panto feel of the show. And for another I doubt the Robin Hood costume department would be able to confine themselves to the materials of the period and we’d have Marian grinding around in PVC, black leather and cut away trousers with chaps.

Hmm. Maybe I ought to write another letter to the BBC?

Anyway the only thing that grated about last night’s episode was the unpalatably large dollop of cheese that descended on proceedings right at the end. To commemorate their murdered dad the Scarlett boys came up with some awful looking tree carving with holes in the middle of it. Very Henry Moore I must say. And when ye olde evening sun did cast its life giving rays through the holes – lo! A face of light did appear upon yonder forest cliff face that looked more like Richard Whiteley than Will’s dad – but who am I to question the boy’s parentage?

Ah phooey.

But now for the most amazing bit of all... The trailer for next week’s episode!

It stars Josie Lawrence!

Josie bleeding Lawrence!

I’m 99.9% sure it’s her and from what I can surmise she appears to be playing the part of a witch and gets to experience the ducking stool at some point. Hmm. Now there’s a fantasy that I never thought of indulging… Anyway, given my previous post where I waxed lyrical about Josie’s televisual fate and bemoaned the fact that she’s not on our tellies nearly enough these days I can only assume that the gods of television were benevolently tuning in and in their infinite wisdom decided to answer my prayers…

I wonder if I’m on a roll?

Hmm.

"Dear BBC,

About Marian and this pointy PVC basque…"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Josie Lawrence

Josie LawrenceAs I’ve been kicking about the house so much over the past fortnight I’ve made good use of my time (ahem) by catching up on some luxury telly – i.e. allowing myself the time and elasticity to just wander aimlessly through the channels and see what’s out there.

A lot of crap. As expected.

But I have found something of a gem on Channel Dave.

Yes. That’s what I thought. What a thoroughly dismal name for a TV station: Dave. Is there a secret joke that I’m patently not getting? It evokes a TV channel that dunks itself in cold tea, doesn’t shave for days and likes documentaries about road signage and steeplejacks and likes to pick the winnets out of its arse with a pair of nail clippers on a Friday night.

Not somebody I’d normally choose to knock about with.

However, Channel Dave is showing re-runs of Whose Line Is It Anyway? – the ones with Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery in.

God I used to love this show in the eighties/nineties. It was the kind of show that, for a while, was worth the effort of coming home early from the pub. It had a freshness and badinage to it that was edgy and yet warm at the same time. It was also my first introduction to improv comedy and it was hugely entertaining to see so many comedy minds tested to the full in front of a live studio audience. Performing on their wits. Sometimes failing (but never completely) and sometimes scoring amazing hits.

My favourites were always Tony Slattery and Josie Lawrence. Tony ‘cos he was just dirty and extremely juvenile – the personification of my sense of humour in fact – and Josie was warm, sardonic and an amazing improvisational singer. Oh yeah and amazingly gorgeous and I fancied the pants off her.

A brunette with a sense of humour, see? Just makes me want to roll over and play fetch all day long. At least that’s what I hope the big stick that Karen is waving at me is for…

Anyway it’s gratifying to admit that the re-runs are still making me laugh and Ben seems to be greatly intrigued by them too. The twin ingredients of madcap and slapstick, I suspect, are what are wining him over as opposed to the sultry charms of Josie or the adult wit of Mr Slattery.

It’s a shame these two aren’t on our tellies so much anymore – sure, I know they both pop up here and there and they’re still treading the boards so to speak… and it’s heartening to know that Tony has recovered somewhat from the breakdown that laid him so low in the nineties… but they’re both (in my opinion) overlooked national treasures that the limelight of success has yet to define brightly enough…

They’re amazingly talented and I have to say I’d rather see them on BBC 2 on a Thursday night than the bloody awful Vivienne Vyle. I mean really. Did somebody forget to flush?

Come back Josie – you’re a star!

Paternity

It’s hard to believe that I am now three quarters of the way through my paternity leave. The thought of returning to work on Monday is something of a sour one to say the least. It’s been nice to cast of the weights of roof leaks, toilet blockages and council demands and instead concentrate on leaks, blockages and demands of another sort.

I little imagined how enjoyable it would be to have a baby around the house. Sure it’s tiring but as Karen pointed out: you know you love them when they howl their lungs out in the middle of the night and you still think they’re adorable.

Talking of Tom: he’s feeding (and pooing well) and when the mid-wife visits today we’re hoping she’ll confirm what we already suspect – that he’s exceeded his birth weight. He’s certainly looking a very healthy little chappie. Long may it continue. He’s got a really cute smile as well though it’s a bit disappointing to realize that it’s only wind at this stage. But hey – maybe that explains the similar reaction I get from most people?

The last two weeks have been a pleasant blur. It’s felt like Christmas in an odd kind of way. With Ben on half term we’re all home and it’s been really great to spend so much time together as a family. Somehow we’ve settled down to a very relaxed, easy going routine where nothing much seems to happen and yet the days seem stretched and full.

Little of import has occurred and really that’s the greatest pleasure in itself.

In fact the only really exciting thing that has occurred in the last few days was the appearance of half a mouse in the garden. I kid you not. I woke up yesterday and spotted the hindquarters of a mouse lying beneath one of the garden chairs. Yuck. Not an appetizing thought when one is preparing breakfast. Butty as I christened him was gone when I got up this morning, however, so I can only assume that some enterprising moggie snaffled the rest of him in the night.

Let’s face it; he wasn’t going to attempt much of an escape...

So this is the world that Tom has found himself born into. A world of mysterious half mice and father’s who will return to work with a heavy heart.

I wish I could think of something deep and meaningful to say at this point but to be honest I’m far too content to ponder such things…

Result!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Robin Hood? Corset Is!

Guy of Gisbourne and Lady MarianWelcome back to Robin Hood watch. Well, Marian watch really…

Yes, while South Africa were trouncing England 15 – 6 in Paris (well really, what did you expect?) I was watching Robin Hood trounce Guy Of Gisbourne in Loxley. Not a Loxley that the people of the time would have recognized of course – not with the manor house done up like Henry VIII’s pantry – but an approximation of Loxley nonetheless. At least that what the show’s annoying titles tell us anyway…

God they're irritating!

A change of location and the name whooshes across the bottom of the screen accompanied by the sound of a launched arrow. Twang, whoosh, thud. I’m just waiting for someone to have their eye taken out by “Loxley” or eviscerated by “Nottingham Castle”. Now that would be a show.

Talking of having your eye taken out… in this week’s show Marian was daringly sporting a rather uplifting pea-green corset which she quite brazenly wore around Nottingham Market while she tried to draw as little attention to herself as possible in order that she could enjoy a secret tryst with Robin Hood. I suppose it’s like the old joke of the naked female bank robber – no one got a good look at her face…

Hilarity of the night (aside from the Rugby score) was Gisbourne staggering about in an impenetrable suit of armour that looked like it had been made on Blue Peter out of some old cereal boxes and a Tesco blue stripe roll of tin foil. Apparently it was supposed to be Damascus Steel – an early example of, well, steel actually, and having Googled it, it does appear that for once the show’s writers managed to put down their mochaccinos long enough to do a bit of genuine research. If only the costume department had been up to the job of actually making it look like real steel. I mean how difficult could that be?

Anyway amid much gurning from Keith Allen’s Sheriff, Robin dealt with the armour-clad Gisbourne easily enough: a liberal application of pitch and a flaming arrow somewhere in the groin area. Sadly it bounced off Gisbourne’s Sheffield Steel (well, he is Northern…) but not before the flames had ignited the pitch and turned Gisbourne into the Wicker Man.

Cue a quick dive into a handy watering trough which the good villagers of Loxley happened to have standing by. It was well steamy.

Ye olde sauna newly invented!

Here’s hoping that Marian will take a lengthy and unapparelled dip in next week’s episode…

Thursday, October 18, 2007

By The Power Of Greyskull

He-ManI had an interesting phone message left on my mobile yesterday from Mr CM doing his damnedest to sound all polite and matey. I must admit that as soon as I saw who it was from I deliberately didn’t answer the phone. Maybe that was cowardice but I’m having such a lovely time with my family at the moment that I’m loath to let it be polluted by unwanted external influences.

I did however listen to the message: it merely asked me to call him back regarding an email that he’d just sent to me…

Hmm. Grumble. Grumble.

So with more than a few misgivings rattling around the bell tower of my consciousness I checked my emails and sure enough there was one from Mr CM lying in my in-box like a snake in the grass.

I opened it and breathed a sigh of relief. It was nothing too major. He just wanted a little updating work doing to his site; pics of a new vehicle that he’s just bought that he wanted putting on-line "ASAP" as he’d told various companies that he associates with that his site had been updated with details of this new acquisition…

And sure I could do it. Easy-peasy. Not even half an hour’s work. One hand tied behind my back, etc…

Except that even just this one tiny communiqué from this awful man had the blood souring within my veins.

He made me wait months and months before he paid me, reneged on his promise to pay several times and ultimately made me fight to get full payment out of him at the 11th hour. And now I’m supposed to drop everything and do more work for him?

Yeah right!

Two things annoy me about his email:

(1) I emailed him weeks ago to say quite clearly that I would not be available for work once Tom was born and would in effect be taking paternity leave / a sabbatical. A reasonable statement of intent, I feel.

(2) His email clearly implies that he’d obviously assumed I’d just drop everything to do the work for him and he’s already foolishly told a load of big-shot business clients that the updates are already done.

Arsehole. Here’s egg on your face.

I’ve not responded. It might be a poor business decision but after all the grief he put me through in the run up to Tom’s birth I really don’t want to have any kind of association – business or otherwise – with Mr CM at all. It wouldn’t be worth the money even if I charged him double. So sod ‘im.

It’s actually really nice to have the power to say no and to have him at my mercy for once.

And curiously – even though it’s been well over 24 hours since he rang – he hasn’t been back in touch to follow things up. Either it’s sunk into his thick insensitive skull that I’m on paternity leave or he’s finally taken the hint that I don’t intend our business paths to cross ever again…

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Normal Life

It’s hard to believe that Tom is now a whole 8 days old! All that build-up to the birth – 9 long months of waiting and wondering and worrying – and suddenly it’s all ancient history. Over and done with. Water under the bridge, etc.

Only it isn’t over and done with, of course. In every respect it’s all just beginning. The worries haven’t stopped – they’re just taking different shapes and forms but they’re still there and still as piquant. Is he pooing enough? Is he pooing too much? Is he eating enough? Is he comfortable? Is he putting on enough weight? Does he like me?

From what I’ve heard from friends this constant parental paranoia is all perfectly normal. And regarding the last question above he certainly seems very content to have me feed him or change his nappy. Now that’s got to be a huge badge of acceptance in anybody’s book.

But the other worries still persist daily though they seem quite trivial in the cold light of this blog.

I can recall my mother telling me that when you have kids you never ever stop worrying about them… even when they’re grown up and are living their own lives far away from yours. You worry forever. Are they happy? Are they healthy? Are they pooing enough?

This is normal life.

And you know what? Above, beyond and behind it all… it’s undeniably good.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gott In Himmel

Dexter Fletcher snogs Lucy GriffithsSome absolute howlers in Robin Hood last night:

1) A Las Vegas style gaming table in Nottingham Castle complete with ye olde bunny girls displaying more cleavage than Pamela of Anderson giving an adult mummer performance at ye olde village moot.

2) Marian kitted out in a rather fetching scarlet riding outfit topped off with a "Robin Hood" feathered cap motif - Errol Flynn stylee - and make-up immaculately applied by Gok Wan.

3) Dexter Fletcher playing the totally unbelievable Prince Frederick of Hanheim, exasperatingly be-costumed in a modern looking DJ while playing at the gaming tables and with a German accent so bad it would have been perfect for Allo Allo.

The writer's are just out-and-out taking the Michael. It's the only explanation for such blatant anachronisms. I get the feeling they've just thought "sod it - let's do what the hell we like and get people writing and talking about the show!"

Smart-arsed little buggers.

Anyway, Marian, I have to say, looked distinctly ravagable and although it's a terribly shallow premise to watch a show it's better than doing so because I think the show is historically informative... I mean, please!

The writer's seem to be making good their promise to sex Marian up a bit and had plunged her neckline so low in last night's episode that we nearly saw her Nightwatchman's quiver. Nice to know that Robin has somewhere to hide his bow in emergencies...

The costume department also outdid themselves with Djaq, the female Saracen warrior who has conveniently joined the Merry Men purely for modern political expediency and correctness. Stuffed into a ballgown straight off the shelves of Laura Ashley she scrubbed up rather well and the Merry Men's arrows flew a darn sight straighter as a consequence...

Merry Men? Not quite but undoubtedly getting there...

Home

It's been an incredibly busy week in the Herrick-Blake household and we're all pretty shattered. However, it's lovely to have everyone home.

Karen and Tom were allowed to leave the hospital on Friday afternoon and since then we've been acclimatizing Tom to his new surroundings. He was a little freaked out at first - I guess he'd got used to his life on the hospital ward and suddenly everything was different: new sounds (a lot quieter), new smells, new sights. He was quite fractious Friday night but since then has been a lot more calm and settled.

I must admit I never thought I'd be one to go "all soppy" but quite honestly I can sit and look at him for hours and love holding him. Every facial expression is a delight and that goes for every sneeze, gurgle and poo too - the latter seeming to be very hard work for him at the moment!

Anyway, I hereby promise not to let this blog turn into a one-track paean to babyhood and baby rearing - I know such things are not everybody's cup of tea - but please do forgive me if I occasionally lapse into baby-centric rhapsody every now and then...

I'm totally in love!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Photos?

Hi all - this is just a very quick check-in as life has got unbelievably busy at the moment! I hope to compose a proper post soon.

Having talked it over with Karen we've decided not to put photos of the baby on-line - Karen is pretty uncomfortable with the idea which is fair enough in my book. So for those of you that would like to see one or two baby pics (I promise not to inundate your in-box's with hundreds) we have come up with a solution which will hopefully work for everybody.

If you'd like to see the photos then please leave me your email address in a comment. I won't publish any of the comments therefore your addresses will remain private.

Please don't feel obliged to do this - I know baby pics aren't everybody's cup of tea but if you'd like to see the baby then you know what to do!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

One From The Ward...

...well not quite!

Baby Thomas Arthur (or Arthur Thomas as we are now vacillating over the name...) was successfully brought forth into the world at 10.41 this morning: 7lb 3.5 oz and as cute as a button.

He had a good feed and then settled down to sleep for much of the afternoon.

Karen is doing well though is incredibly sore and tired and the edge has been taken off her senses by various painkillers.

We're both, however, incredibly happy.

The whole thing happened so unbelievably quickly I still can't get over it. I won't yabber too much about it here right now as I am shattered and need to get Ben sorted out foodwise... just wanted to thank you all, my lovely blog readers, for your warm wishes and support over the last few months. Both Karen and I have really appreciated it and it has made such a huge difference.

Photos will, I promise, follow shortly...

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Day Before

And so we come down to it...

I’m not quite at the panic attack stage yet but I’m definitely experiencing that all pervading ambience known as The Fear. Butterflies, lack of concentration, inexplicable bouts of innumeracy, language failure, lots of trips to the toilet and a general desire to be at home embellishing the nest ready for the baby’s imminent arrival

Karen is the same. Huge excitement mixed with huge anxiety. It’s like looking forward to Christmas but knowing you have to sit a difficult exam at midday. In a word: the collywobbles.

And everything feels somehow different already. The sun brighter. The sky bluer. My stock of clichés larger.

Anyway, I’m currently at work tying up the loose ends and making sure the old place doesn’t fall apart in my absence. Once I’m home this evening work life will officially cease for the duration. Our boy, Ben, is going for a “sleep over” at a friend’s house and, all being well, will join us at the hospital tomorrow afternoon. Karen and I, meanwhile, will prepare ourselves for tomorrow morning. We have to be at the hospital for 8am. I have no other details than that. It could be a very short wait or a very long one.

To re-fashion a well known saying: I could catch a 12 pound trout with my breath...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Twang!

Lucy GriffithsI have a theory that the BBC’s Robin Hood series exists solely for me to have an outlet onto which I can vent my thrashing spleen on a Sunday morning.

Now I know in the bigger scheme of things the portrayal of the Robin Hood legend on our TV screens is really quite small, pimply and inconsequential. But for me it is the Holy Grail. I feel about Robin Hood the same way some of my discerning readers feel about Doctor Who – and I don’t just mean that I want to see Billy Piper running around Sherwood Forest in a skintight t-shirt and g-string… Although given the horrendously anachronistic nature of the show such an event would not surprise me in the least.

My trouble – and I fully recognize and accept it – is that I am coming from a place where Richard Carpenter’s Robin Of Sherwood has been crowned king, festooned with laurel leaves and placed in the pantheon of the gods. In fact I've written about my devotion to this show previously on this 'ere very blog.

Robin Of Sherwood was gritty, brought a new realism to the legend (leaving aside the frequent references to magic and psychic abilities of course – ahem) and had a warmth and on screen camaraderie that helped cushion me through my rather bleak, nerdy teenage years. It’s a hard act to follow. And I recognize and accept this also.

But you’d think that the BBC would at least TRY!

I mean come on chaps! In last night’s opener Robin and “his gang” (Robin’s new catchphrase apparently – who the hell is he modelling himself on? Gary Glitter?) had a bit of rough and tumble with a “military unit” – Robin’s words (how very post modern) – who were all wearing army berets and looked like they’d all stepped straight out of Sandhurst.

Berets! In Sherwood Forest? In the 1100’s? I was waiting for Frank Spencer to leap out from behind one of the trees… ooh Robin, I’m ‘aving a little bit of trouble with me quiver…

But there was more. This gang was led by the suddenly arrived Sheriff’s sister who had obviously modelled herself on Honour Blackman from The Avengers. All heaving bosom, black leather cat-suit and blonde hair flung suggestively over her shoulder like a cat-o-nine-tails… and she possessed the ability to disguise herself with latex based make-up (which didn’t smudge her carefully applied eyeliner or lip gloss one iota).

Latex! In Sherwood Forest? In the 1100’s?

Sadly she was killed off right at the end. Death by large python. And I’m not referring here to Robin’s impressive pork swordsmanship. Of which we happened to see very little…

Which is a shame because the sparks between Robin and Marian are one of the few things the show’s writers have actually got right.

According to the Radio Times’ write up this new series will see a raunchier, sexy Marian – tighter outfits and lower cut tops… thigh length boots and safety-pin dresses… lots of frolicking in moist haylofts with large vats of ice cream on standby. Yes, alas, I am making that last bit up – but I must admit I find the costume based inaccuracies centred around Lucy Griffiths far more palatable than the Gap bought hoodies that mantle the merry men or the Duran Duran biker jacket that turns Sir Guy of Gisbourne into an eighties throwback. Call it hypocrisy if you must but I prefer to see it as an attempt by me to cast a more charitable eye over the show. To give it a chance. To give it a fair go…

Ok. Ok. I’m just a sucker for a brunette than can high-kick a guy in the knackers and hang upside down from a roof beam.

Anyway, despite all the above – or maybe because of it – I keep on watching the show. So I must acknowledge that there must be something about it that I like. And if I was being tortured with hot knives and root vegetables I would I suppose admit that I sort of, kind of, find it all somehow enjoyable. Annoying. Inaccurate. Historically comic. Frequently ridiculous. But nevertheless enjoyable.

There’s a massive romp element to the show and that, at least, is true to the nature of the Robin Hood legend. There. One box ticked. Happy now BBC?

For those of you that care my very hissy reviews of the first series can be accessed here and I will be reviewing the episodes of this second series with a regularity that can only be described as obsessively perverse…

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bang! And The Dirt Is Gone...

Greatly enjoyed The Peter Serafinowicz Show last night, especially the Barry Scott pisstakes.

Trouble with lime scale? Just use Toilet Grenade! Pull out the pin, throw it into the bowl and BANG the dirt is gone!

His Chris Tarrant impression was likewise very impressive, capturing both Tarrant’s infuriating smugness as well as his many vocal idiosyncrasies. Though given the nature of his voice maybe that should be nasal idiosyncrasies?

The most disturbing sketch of all though was Sherlock Holmes spooning Dr. Watson in bed due to a bout of post-case-solving lust. I know Holmes liked the occasional fiddle but even so... the clash of pipe against waxed moustache was shudderingly sacrilegious. I bet Conan Doyle was turning in his urn. Or wherever it is he’s been laid to rest.

In terms of the show’s format, there are a lot of similarities with The Fast Show – lightening delivery, a mammoth turnover of ideas and sketches – though Serafinowicz tends more to the madcap than social commentary – and more characters than you can shake a jester’s stick at, with the whole thing brought (bang) up to date with constant reference to the host of Americanized cable TV channels that infect our lives, ridiculously flashy news items and badly directed television advertising...

In many ways it’s an ideal format for Serafinowicz’s many talents and one that can only work in his favour. Sketch misses the mark? No matter. Here’s another one to try. BANG and the dirt is gone!

And onto the next one...

Here’s hoping he can keep it up.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I Fought The Law...

James Nesbitt as Tommy MurphyKaren and I are greatly enjoying Murphy’s Law at the moment. The script is dense, fast paced, full of twists and has James Nesbitt’s immaculately groomed moustache bristling all over it.

I must admit to liking James Nesbitt hugely. Not in that way you understand but in a “hey respect, dude” kind of way. Over the years he’s proved to be one of the UK’s most versatile actors. In every role I’ve seen him in he’s been believable... which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is rather an essential quality in an actor. The James Nesbitt persona doesn’t ever get in the way of whatever part he happens to be playing at the time.

This is no mean feat especially when, over the years, his playing of so many cheeky-chappie, quip-a-minute characters has written the James Nesbitt persona large all over the nation’s psyche.

Recently though he’s been developing a much harder edge – and I’m not just referring to the brutally chopped precipice of his lip brush. Jekyll saw him delving into Jack Nicholson territory with gusto – staring eyes, sharp teeth and “daddy’s home” vocalizations. His current outing as Murphy though sees him exploring something a lot darker and far more real... Jekyll’s appetites were too fantastic and too over-stretched to be truly scary. But Murphy is up against very commonplace desires that are no less damaging or less repulsive for all their regrettable regularity in our society. People smuggling, prostitution, rape, drugs... it’s a world we see portrayed quite often on our TV screens either through police dramas or documentaries... but Murphy’s Law has managed to reclaim the shock element of such activities. That’s pretty good going in an age of desensitizing video games and shlock-horror flicks for the under 12’s.

Murphy is a dour, insular, dangerously frenetic character with a tache like a Mexican bandido and Nesbitt walks a tightrope over the chasm of caricature with true grace and true grit. He hijacks the screen and carries the whole drama forward with a presence that commands our undivided attention. Nesbitt is at full stretch for the entire duration and doesn’t even break a sweat. It’s impressive to watch. I’m totally hooked.

Here’s hoping that Murphy’s tache scimitar will make a quick return to our tellies very soon.... and not just because I happen to possess one of my own...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pipped At The Post

No, not news of Tom's early arrival but something even more miraculous...

Mr CM has actually paid up! He left a voice message on my mobile phone while I was at Uni (excellent session by the way - think I'm really going to enjoy this course) to say he'd just put the cheque through my letterbox.

And sure enough when I arrived home there it was. The full amount, signed by his own (un)fair hand.

My gob is well and truly smacked. I didn't think this day would ever arrive.

I shall be rushing urgently to the bank tomorrow morning to get it paid in before it turns into a puff of pink smoke blasted from a goofy pixie's bottom pipe. Ker-ching!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Countdown

No, not a paean to twice-nightly Richard Whitely (alas – I’ll save that for another day) but a notification to all interested parties that baby Tom’s arrival is now a mere 7 days away.

The cot bed is ready. The pram is ready. Sleepover arrangements for Son No. 1 are set up and code green. Karen’s hospital bag (complete with food goodies to supplement the hospital slop) is all but zipped up and ready to go. The boy’s school has been notified. Work colleagues are primed. The family are on tenterhooks. The hospital is on permanent and ever-ready standby...

But I don’t feel prepared at all.

It’s weird. It’s not like I’m unaware of what is about to happen (hey, for a guy that’s a big thing) it’s just that I can’t seem to make it feel real. Life at the moment is carrying on much as it always has and all seems perfectly normal. I can’t imagine how things are going to look and feel next week with our family increased to 4 at all.

As this is Karen’s second I guess she has a better idea of what to expect but me – I’m blissfully ignorant. I guess it’s going to be something of an adventure... one that’s going to last a lifetime. But hey – what other kind is there?

I must admit though I’ll be glad when the hospital bit is over – to have Karen and Tom and the boy all safely home again with our feet resting on a big pile of dirty nappies, necking down a cup of tea and wondering if we’ll ever sleep through the night again. That seems a long way off at the moment.

In the interim I’m back at Uni this week – tomorrow in fact: Poetry In English Since 1945. A little bit more up my street after the interminable ravages of the 18th Century novel last term. And a countdown of a different sort is also occurring. The promised money from the untrustworthy Mr CM has until Friday to arrive. Still no sign of it.

My money’s on Tom arriving first...