Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Boiler

I say “boiler” but actually the Sureway Heating operative I spoke to on the telephone rather tartly informed me that what I actually have is a water heater not a boiler.

Whatever it is the damn things is haunted or possessed or has had a section of its metallic intestines pulled through into an inter-dimensional wormhole because it is just not functioning as it should.

In fact it isn’t even functioning as the laws of physics say it should and, you have to admit, it’s got to have a hefty demon on its shoulders to mess with Professor Brian Cox.

Now, I’m no heating / plumbing engineer, but I know that basically what I have in the bathroom is a big heater thing that heats up the hot water passing through it and then transports it to various outlets around the house via a couple of pipes. We don’t have many outlets. Just two sets in the bathroom and one set downstairs. I live in a 3 bedroomed semi not Longleat House after all.

So. In simple terms:

Heater >> short expanse of pipework >> taps.

An elegant little flowchart. Not much room for error.

And yet things are not right.

We have hot water upstairs. The pilot light is on. The water heater blazes inside like a miniature furnace whenever the hot taps are turned to the full-on position.

But we have no hot water downstairs. None at all. The hot tap is turned on, the heater blazes, water gushes through the pipes but it ain’t (even half) hot (mum). It’s stone cold.

How can this be? How can we have hot water upstairs but not downstairs when all the pipes are fed from the same heater? It’s not like the pipes downstairs are several kilometres longer than the ones upstairs to give the water time to cool down. They don’t divert our water through Siberia or Antarctica on its way to the kitchen tap. Where is our hot water going?

The only change of circumstance that has occurred recently has been the arrival of a new bunch of students next door but they look rather sweet and not the type to siphon of hot water illegally from their neighbours. Borrow a couple of herbal tea bags, yes. Nick hot water, no. And besides. As we all know, students and baths / washing up / clothes washing do not mix. The only thing they know to do with hot water is to shove it into a Pot Noodle. And there isn’t a Pot Noodle hunger big enough to warrant the amount of hot water that has gone missing from my house.

So I’ve rung the experts. The guy I spoke to sounded a little perturbed by the problem and is going to send his best man out this week to take a look at it. OK. OK. He’s going to send a man out to look at it. And then we shall see what we shall see.

In the meantime, I’m breaking out the garlic and the holy water and calling a priest.

Our hot water heater has plainly got bad juju.



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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Return Of The Doggy Hat

Tom's doggy hatThis post comes with huge apologies fitted as standard.

You may remember (those of you who are not chasing the dragon or hooked on crystal meth) that, back in August, I launched a global interpol-approved appeal to find my youngest son's doggy hat (please see the picture above). I described Tom's distress at the loss. I described how we'd retraced our steps in the hope of relocating a much loved item of head attire. I told how all our sleuthing efforts had been in vain.

The hat was gone and gone forever.

Some callous, unfeeling person must have half-inched it from where it had lain helpless on the pavement. Probably Keyser Söze - if you look carefully in the final scene in The Usual Suspects you can see Tom's doggy hat hanging out of his back pocket.

Or there's the one armed man in The Fugitive. He could have it too. Because just before he shoots Harrison Ford's wife (no, not Calista Flockhart) I saw Tom's doggy hat hanging off his prosthetic hook-arm-thing. It could have been a hankie but I'm pretty sure it was the hat.

And then we saw Tin Tin the other day and I was flabberghasted to see Captain Haddock wearing the doggy hat in the motorbike chase - only briefly. Blink and you would have missed it.

In short I was seeing the damn thing everywhere.

Never mind that I'd made you lot trawl the streets and the internet for a replacement. Never mind that Tom had finished with his grieving and had moved on. I just couldn't let it go.

And then during a bout of Autumn cleaning I found the blessed thing behind the sofa.

It had been there all the time. It had never been lying, abandoned in the street. It had never been stolen by persons callous and unknown. It had never made it into Speilberg's latest CGI animated extravaganza.

It had been brought back safely into the house and tossed nonchalently behind the sofa by an individual who, knowing not what he did, shall remain blameless and unnamed for all perpetuity. *cough*Tom*cough*

Apologies for the panic, people. Please stand down and go about your normal business. Situation is green once more. Abort fighter jets. Do not press the red button.

As you were.



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Thursday, October 27, 2011

How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways...

Enemies.

They're everywhere. On the street. Down the pub. At work. On our Facebook pages. Tweeting us from the poisoned depths of their hatred addled minds. They infiltrate our social networks both real and virtual and we cannot escape.

We all have them. And you know how the saying goes, don't you?

Can't live with 'em...

...and, er, that's pretty much it really. You can't live 'em so it makes good sense to quickly dispatch 'em. And as horribly as possible.

If morality were not a problem, if justice was your bitch, if you had a greenlight to do whatever you wanted to your enemies and people would still give you a thumbs-up afterwards and say, "yeah, that was justified, they had it coming", how would you dispatch your vilest, most obnoxious enemy from off this mortal coil?

It is something I have been musing on a lot of late. Possibly there has been too much red meat in my diet. Possibly Dr Pinchworthy has done up my straitjacket a smidgeon too tight. Possibly I'm a donkey on the edge (thank you, Shrek fans, I'm here till next Thursday, please try the veal). But I have compiled my top seven list of ways to rid myself (and the world) of the malodorous, the malignant and the vacuously moronic.

1) Attach them to a 50ft bungee rope (think about this) and hoof them off the nearest motorway flyover. I guarantee a juggernaut will drag them a good 1.8 miles before the rope rips 'em back out again.

2) Hack into their computer, access various bomb-making web sites, change their email address to ObamaMustDie@hotmail.com and - hey presto - let the FBI do it for you.

3) Death By Botox - modify an iron maiden (available from any decent hardware store) so that the spikes are replaced with hypodermic needles that pump out an "above the recommended dose" of botox into every square inch of your enemy's body. Not only will they die horribly but their corpse will look like a doll made entirely from Walls' "thick pork" sausages. Especially effective if (a) your enemy is vain, (b) spent most of their life as mutton dressed as lamb and (c) they're vegetarian.

4) Death By Higgs Boson - as inspired by X-Men 2, inject iron filings directly into various body parts (the choice and number is yours) and cast your enemy into the heart of the Hadron particle accelerator just before it is activated by guest executioner, Professor Brian Cox.

5) Death By Perpetual Motion - insert a simple tube (akin to those used during colonic irrigation) into your enemy's anus whilst the other is attached to your enemy's mouth. A cheap pump should ensure that all matter produced is shunted upwards against gravity, creating a macabre Catherine Wheel of Delights that should keep you chortling for... ooh... hours. Good for those enemies who talk nothing but shite but think that every utterance that comes out of their mouth is Godly wisdom.

6) Utilizing the knowledge gleaned from your years of service with MI5 (which I know you all have), adapt and customize your enemy's make-up paraphenalia so that the lipstick, the eyeshadow and the blusher all secrete highly concentrated sulphuric acid. Merely encourage your enemy to pass a mirror and then sit back and - ta daa! - watch them rub themselves out. Why? Because you're worth it!

7) Staple their nipples to the ears of a rampaging cheetah.

Right, I don't know about you lot, but I am currently luxuriating in revenge fantasy bliss.

Do feel free to add you own delicious devices of destruction to the list - or even to nominate a few potential "clients".

'Cos one day, people, we will all have our revenge! They've got it coming! You hear me? They've got it coming!

Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Thank you, doctor, is it time for my Tixylix now?



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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nothing Left To Write...

Well, technically.

Because after just over 12 months of quite intense writing I have now completed the first draft of my second novel, The Great Escapes Of Danny Houdini and - you've guessed it - I am now putting out the call for volunteer guinea pigs to read it, pick up on the typos I have missed and offer an opinion on which bin I should fling it into: general household waste or recycling?

Want to know more about it? Want the vital statitics?

366 pages in Word. 310,067 words.

A lot of them expletives. Most of them not. There's quite a bit of rudeness too. But not too much. There's comedy. There's romance. There's drugs and dirtiness.

This is the story of Danny Walker, a young man who is crippled with an appalling stutter but finds some steel in himself when he meets and falls in love with a Deaf girl called Thalia. However, there are a few flies in the ointment: his gross parents who seem to be stuck in the 1950's and his older brother, Matthew, who is intent on messing up his own marriage and the relationships of all those around him by his attempts at living a hedonistic lifestyle. But worst of all is Matthew's mate, the sneering Barry Wyton, who is intent on becoming the local drug baron and wants to pull Matthew and Danny into his sordid little world where they risk being buried forever.

There are laughs and TV references a-plenty as Danny constantly seeks to escape his grim reality by imagining he is on the telly. But this crutch cannot last forever and sooner or later Danny must abandon his imagination and face up to real life.

So, are you sold? Are you interested?

If you'd like to give the first draft a read I'd be eternally grateful. I'm not expecting an essay or anything back in return - even a simple "I liked it" or "I didn't like it" would be useful but obviously any specific feedback would be wonderful.

Thank you in advance to the few!

P.S. I sadly cannot supply hardcopies but I can email the word doc to your Kindle account (if you have one) if that makes it easier to read.



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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aping God

The beautifully evolved Alice RobertsThere can be no finer proof of man's ascendency to near angelhood than Dr Alice Roberts back on our tellies once more in her new series, Origins Of Us. But tempting as it is to leap off the high dive board of swoonsome superlatives and turn a few half pikes in the air before hitting the waters of sycophancy that isn't what this post is about.

I'm about to get all serious on your ass.

After I watched the show on Monday - en elegant tour through the current evidence of man's development from ape-like hominid to tool-making homo sapien - I thought I'd give Dr Alice's blog a go on the BBC web site, especially as all my emails to her seem to bounce back these days (just a problem with her junk mail filter, I'm sure).

I started perusing the comments left by others (purely to scoff and scorn at their pathetic attempts to court this good lady's attentions, naturally) and was instantly horrified by what I found.

Now I need to be careful how I express this because I like to think I am a fairly tolerant person when it comes to other people and their beliefs. I'm not in the habit of denegrating people for their religious choices. If you want to go and live in a Yurt and weave yoghurt as an offering for the old god's that's up to you; your vegan diet means more roast chicken for me on a Sunday. Live and let live, I say, in this life and the next.

But surely Creationists are the most dumbassed people in the universe? I thought they were purely an American breed (sorry, America) but no, it seems, they exist (solely by the will of God and nothing at all to do with evolutionary imperatives) in the UK too.

There were several comments which (if I can paraphrase) ran along the lines of: yes, Dr Alice, you are very pretty and this show was beautifully photographed but you do know science is wrong and we humans did not eveolve from apes or come out of Africa but were created by God somewhere in the vicinity of Israel, don't you? Shame on you for not pointing this out to your viewers!

I confess my first instinct was to throw a couple of verbal molotov cocktails into the mix and set the blinkered world-view of these idiots alight but then I thought: what's the point? What is the point of trying to reason with these people? They wilfully ignore the crushing weight of scientific evidence stacked up against them. Worse than that. They go on and on about The Truth and yet when they are presented with it they see only the work of the devil.

How can you argue with people who think like that?

What scares me the most is that in this so called technologically advanced, civilized age of ours there are still people who cling to medieaval beliefs with the passion of the simpleton. The world is flat. The sun orbits around the world. And man is not an animal but is special and alone in his spiritually.

Gah. It honestly makes me spiritually sick.

It's the old dilemma, isn't it? Do you take religious texts word for word or do you accept that they were the products of a darker, much harsher, less enlightened world and therefore appropriately filter out the wildly imagined and the guesswork and retain the spiritually relevant? But then we have the problem of one person's interpretation being held above that of another.

But isn't this what is happening anyway?

The only difference betweeen religion and science is that religion purports to proclaim the whole truth without facts or evidence to back it up; science acknowledges it doesn't know the half of it but can prove what it does know.

In the final analysis, I'll cast my vote with science - though am keen to point out this does not mean there is a lack of spirituality on my part (but the details of that are my business).

Did man descend from the apes? The only evidence against it is that you never see apes fucking each other over or killing each other because of conflicts in their religious beliefs.

Maybe 'descend' is the operative word, here, eh?

Go in peace, people. Go in peace.



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Monday, October 17, 2011

Is This Man Taking Over The World?

Justin Fletcher as Mr TumbleThose of you who do not have kids or are, perhaps, indisposed to watching copious amounts of kid’s telly off your own bat will probably be unaware of the clear and present danger that is currently facing our nation.

You will perhaps be lying blissfully idle in your Rugby World Cup bliss; sniggering smugly as you watch Mock The Week or some other adult satire game-show or just sniggering stupidly at the silly people in Big Brother who behave exactly like what you do only wiv-out all the grace and charm you usually exhibit when you give Tel a bit of earache in Lidl for going for the cheap brand cigarettes.

You will be unaware. You will be asleep.

And whether you are a sleeping dragon or a sleeping dog remains to be seen.

One man is trying to take over the world.

He is everywhere. He is omnipresent. Both in body and in voice.

You cannot move anywhere on the CBeebie’s channel without bumping into the golf-ball nose of Justin Fletcher. It’s like he has turned the entire channel into his own personal star vehicle (complete with Pope-like glass viewing dome and furry dice). It started innocuously enough. The Tweenies. Higgledy-House. Something Special. Fine, we thought. He’s just working hard. Paying the bills. But then his voice started appearing on its own in other shows too. Just like Obi Wan Kenobi’s in fact. “Use the spotty bag, Mr Tumble! Use the spotty bag!” Timmy Time, Chuggington, Sean The Sheep – to name but three.

But that wasn’t enough for Citizen Fletcher, oh no. Then came Gigglebiz. An entire show featuring nothing but Justin playing a host of different vaudeville-esque characters. Endless, wall-to-wall Justin. Justin as a disco dancing king. Justin as a female TV naturalist called Anna Conda. Justin as a pantomime dame complete with massive honking breasts.

I felt uneasy. I felt uncomfortable.

This was getting a bit much.

Even in his heyday Noel Edmonds never got everywhere like this.

But the kids were lapping it up. The kids were being sucked in. There was nothing we could do to stem the tide.

And now it is too late. Now we have Justin’s House. Justin’s brand new show. Set in Justinland.

I am not joking.

Am I the only person who can see that this is proof of an ego grown out of all control? An id that has gone global? His catchphrase song on Justin’s House is, “Let’s wibble, let’s wobble.” It makes me shudder because I know there is a secret message hidden in there somewhere, some dire threat like the alien countdown thing in Independence Day. But despite the best minds at Bletchley Park working on it night and day we haven’t yet been able to break the code.

I know. I know. You’re all laughing. You’re all dismissing this as the by-product of a fevered but genius mind. I’m reading too much into it. I’ve lost the plot. I need a quick fix of BBC Four. Even a Channel Five documentary. But you’ll be sorry. You’ll all be sorry when Justin starts popping up in your life too (and squeezing his man-boobs so that they make a sound like a car horn). When Justin appears in Doctor Who as the Doctor’s new assistant you’ll remember my words. When Justin appears in Eastenders as Milkshake Jake and starts flinging whipped cream over that Mitchell fellow you will all quail and remember.

When Justin and his magic spotty bag appears outside number 10 with the new Budget wrapped up in cellophane inside it you will know the end has finally come.

And you’ll all be sorry then.

So just remember: if you see the man in the photo above please approach him with severe caution – he will teach you to say “I am special” in Sign Language and you will not be able to resist.

Go with care, my friends. And don’t say I didn’t warn you!



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Friday, October 14, 2011

To My Faithful Blog Followers I Wish To Bequeath My Membership To Chickswithdicks.com

It is surely a sign of man’s irrevocable advancement into the digital age when even the arrangements for our deaths and the disposal of our worldly chattels has become pixelated and blue-toothed up.

News reaches me (via the internet – where else?) that due to the sheer amount of time people spend living on-line and accumulating digital assets ‘digital inheritance’ is now having to be added to last wills and testaments.

It is no longer enough to simply specify that you want your brother-in-law to inherit your collection of German porn or that you wish the secret knicker stash you have collected over the last ten years from the washing lines of your neighbours to be donated to Christian Aid. You must make specific provision for your internet files and folders; for your YouTube movies and your Flickr albums.

People are already bequeathing passwords and membership details for music download sites and on-line photo albums. No doubt dedicated on-line gamers are leaving their avatars to their next of kin to carry on the good fight long after they are worm feed (I was going to crack a joke here about Halo but can’t be arsed).

And it all kind of makes sense.

See, I’ve only had a computer since 2000 but already I have amassed a huge stockpile of files and photos that don't exist anywhere else but on my hard-drive or on a server somewhere in North America. Family photos and movies. Blog posts. Poetry and stories whose voices exist only in Word and not on paper. What happens to all this when I die unless I leave it to somebody?

And so it’s got me thinking.

I could leave my blog to one of you, couldn’t I? You could carry on writing it while I argue with St. Peter. You could pose as me or even, if you were that way inclined, contact a medium and ghost-write my blog for me from the afterlife. I’ll dictate it all to you via weird dreams and tarot readings.

But who? That’s the question. Who?

The only way to settle this is by launching a competition.

Tell me in the comments box why you should inherit my blog. Or even why you shouldn’t.

The runners-up will win a bequeathment that entitles them to full access to my accounts with frauleinswithhooverattachments.com and rackemhigh.co.uk. There will also be a booby-prize of full control of my MySpace page.

And ultimately the lucky winner will stand a good chance of being (a) ignored, (b) disinherited the very next time they offend me or (c) bumped off by my wife who I am sure is just itching to get her hands on my blog. I know it is all she ever dreams about.

In fact, I’m sure that’s why she is making strange strangulation gestures behind my back right now... er... I’d get in quick if I were you lot; you might receive your windfall early.



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Monday, October 10, 2011

Talk To The Hand ‘Cos My Tweets Ain’t Listening

There was a brief moment back in late 2010, early 2011 when I was a little predisposed to be in love with Twitter. I’d Tweet something every day. Offer it a little sugar. Bestow upon it a little love.

Throw it a bone.

But it felt unrequited. My pebbles disappeared below the surface with barely a ripple. Nobody really responded.

Maybe I wasn’t using big enough pebbles? Maybe my wit was nothing more than granite chips compared to the atmosphere bending meteorites dropped by other Twitter users?

Who knows? I felt that any effort expended on Twitter was like trying to teach a pig to sing. The relationship was never going to be music to my ears and there was frequently too much shit around underfoot.

I didn’t delete my account though. And I realize there is something weak and inconstant about that. I just couldn’t make a clean break. Hell, I thought, I could still use Twitter. Treat it like a Parisian whore and pimp it out when I had something to sell. Another blog post. An ad hoc witticism. A sneery dig at those dolts on The Apprentice. I’ll use it and abuse it and then shove it back into its electronic box.

An unloved tissue.

So it’s a constant surprise to me to learn that I continually pick up new Followers. Every month more and more people elect to Follow me. Some of them I have heard of – fellow bloggers and writers and the like. They’re fine. They’re good. Welcome aboard, chums, just sorry about the disappointing fare I am offering. But most are...

I am at a loss as to how to describe them. A gallimaufry of weirdos? A ragbag of misfits?

Yesterday a Spanish restaurant in Sussex who specializes in Tapas added itself to my Followers list.

Why? Why would they do this? I have never been to Sussex. I have no plans to visit Sussex though I hear it is very nice. I’ve nothing against going but if I did go it would not be to go and eat Tapas. I don’t eat Tapas in my home town. I’m not going to travel a hundred miles to eat it elsewhere just because some faceless catering exec on Twitter is Following me.

And then there are the self-help crowd. There are dozens of them. Tina Sparkle and her Healing Womb Crystals, Warlock Bryan and his soul cleansing runes of Mordor, Russell Grant and his magic flamenco shoes who will help you dance your way to enlightenment and a gestalt therapist’s couch. The kind of people who, if I saw their books on sale in the Health, Mind & Body section at Waterstones, would make me want to heave up all over the hard-backed edition of The Pirelli Calendar 1960’s To The Present Day that I had concealed under my duffle coat.

Plainly they read my bio on Twitter and the first thing they think is: Christ, this guy needs some spiritual help; I will offer my services free of charge in bite-sized 140 character chunks for him to consume throughout his soulless days at the Satanic mill wherein he works.

Now, they might be right in the their analysis. Maybe I do need spiritual help. Maybe I do have too much anger and negativity in my lymphatic system. Maybe my chakras are more blocked than the botoxed pores of Victoria Beckham’s face.

But if I need my soul saving by Twitter then, frankly, I am beyond all hope of ever being saved by anybody and not even some magic crystals basted in the intimate juices of Tina Sparkle are ever going to be able to help me.

Ever.

I am this close to deleting my account.

This close.

But... erm... I wanted to pimp this blog post so, you know, I might do it tomorrow.



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Friday, October 07, 2011

Aiming Low

It's not often that I direct readers away from my blog but once a week from this point on that is precisely what I am going to be doing.

I have finally got some paid writing work.

Yes. A web site out there has suffered a a temporary loss of sanity and has opted to haemorrhage a certain amount of moolah each month in exchange for a post a week. A paying gig at last. And I still can't pay all the bills. I am a real writer at last.

Rather than leaving your witticisms here, why not pop over to Aiming Low - my lovely new employers - and give me some moral support in my first ever professional outing?

My first post for them is called Gold Member.




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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cheaper Not To Work

It’s half term in a couple of weeks. As a kid this would have been cause for celebration and I’d be counting down the days already.

As an adult it is a cause for concern and fiscal trauma.

Not because I don’t like spending time with my family – because I do. The days I consider “the best of times” have all occurred during family holidays or days out together.

It’s because school holidays threaten to break us financially.

It’s fine if Karen and I have holiday to use up at work. No problem at all. We all have a holiday together – or (as we’ve done the last few years) a staycation.

If we don’t we are in serious trouble. Because it means we not only have to keep our youngest boy in ‘pre-school’ but we have to put his older brother into the school holiday club too.

This costs us over £50 a day. For a week this would set us back £250 – or in this case because our eldest boy is off the Friday before the holiday because of a “teacher training day”, £300.

That’s more than I earn in a week.

Thankfully I have just enough holiday entitlement left over to cover the 6 days. If I didn’t it would still be cheaper for me to take the days off unpaid as I would lose less money giving up a week’s wages than continuing to work and having to pay for the boys to be cared for elsewhere.

This seems to me to be utter madness.

And it seems to be a particularly UK kind of madness. I don’t believe this kind of scenario exists in other European countries or, if it does, not to the same fiscally punitive degree. And I choose my words very carefully – because it feels like the state, our glorious United Kingdom, does not like or welcome kids into the protective embrace of its nannyhood. Rather, it feels like it punishes those that bring them into the world.

Now, let’s get my position clear. I’m not asking for freebies or a handout. I’m not asking for special privileges.

I’m just asking to be able to work and earn enough money to make going to work worthwhile.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Few people work because they love it. We all need to be incentivized. And survival is a pretty good incentiviser.

If I’m not even gaining that luxury, Mr Cameron, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t claim benefits for the rest of my life and loot JD Sports whenever the fancy takes me?



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Monday, October 03, 2011

My Set Top Box F*cked River Song

Alex KingstonYou’ve got to love digital technology.

Our set top box is like a virtual octopus. It can multitask. And I don’t mean do stuff sequentially. I mean it can do lots of stuff all at the same time. It can record one channel whilst allowing you to watch another. It can even record 2 channels at once whilst allowing you to play back a recording you made earlier. It can even pause a live programme should you need a loo break and then resume playing it when you are ready so that you don’t miss a single second of your favourite show. Apparently the technical term for this activity is “deferring”.

It’s a cool and convenient little facility and no mistake.

And so we decided to employ it during the season finale of Doctor Who.

Now, I need to give you some additional technical information here. It won’t sound very technical but believe me it is. We were watching Doctor Who. Got that? We had programmed our set top box to record Merlin straight afterwards (eldest boy’s bed time, etc, but he wanted to watch it the next day). OK? Still with me? It should not have been a problem.

Due to a few household happenings and an unplanned for loo break, however, we’d ended up having to defer Doctor Who. It should be fine, I thought, cos this clever technological monstrosity can record 2 things at once so even if we defer Doctor Who until it overlaps Merlin it will be able to cope. We won’t miss a damned thing.

So. Cut to us all sucking up the spectacular sci-fi feast that was the Doctor Who finale. I’m not going to give any spoilers here (sweetie) but it was brilliant. The best DW season finale ever. Packed to the gills, overflowing with ideas, spectacle and heart stopping emotion. The finest bit of television I’ve seen for a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet you’re in for a treat. Superb acting from everyone but especially Matt Smith. And he got to snog Alex Kingston. On the top of a pyramid. Lucky git.

But I digress.

We were 5 minutes away from the end. The Doctor was dead. Seemingly so. River Song (Alex Kingston) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) were discussing his demise over a bottle of red. River laughed: but of course the Doctor isn’t dead!

Well, we’d already guessed that given that they’ve lined up Outnumbered's foxy mum, Claire Skinner, for the DW Christmas special. We just needed to know the clever plot device that had allowed this to happen.

How did he escape? How did he do it?

The small ingenious cogs of the script began to turn. The moment, the finale denouement was about to be revealed...

And the bloody set top box stops deferring Doctor Who and suddenly switches straight to real time and commences recording Merlin.

Aaaaargh!

No. No. No.

It can record 2 sodding things at once! How can it not cope with this?! It’s supposed to be clever, for Heaven’s sake!

Doh. Because it can’t record 2 separate things that are being broadcast consecutively on the same channel. The programmed recording takes precedence over the ad hoc ‘live’ recording. It can’t cope with overlapping.

Gah!

Hence, my set top box f*cked River Song. And while I am secretly admiring of that singularly enviable feat (in a metaphorical sense) I am mainly seething at its black, soft moulded casing this morning and considering swapping it out for a top loading VCR.

‘Cos we had to do something that I haven’t done since I was a teenager.

We had to wait for the repeat to be broadcast in order to see what we’d missed (which, being modern times, was shown the very next day on BBC3).

Yes, I know that’s only 24 hours but in this modern world of instant gratification and immediate sensory download that’s like watching Star Wars at the cinema as a kid and then having to wait 5 whole years for it to be finally released on video before you can watch it again.

The great god technology is dead.

Long live technology.



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