Sunday, December 31, 2006

Butchery At Last!

Last night saw the final episode in the first series of the BBC’s new Robin Hood dramatization. A good job really as I’ve now nicked just about every picture of Lucy Griffiths from the BBC Robin Hood web site that was available in order to illustrate my scintillating reviews of the show.

You know what? It wasn’t too bad an episode at all. Over recent weeks I’ve quite begun to warm to the show. God knows it still drives me batty with its historical and costume-based inaccuracies, its teeth-grindingly annoying too-modern colloquialisms, its flagrant disregard for the period’s limited technology and its sodding refusal to ever show Lucy Griffiths emerging totally naked from a frothing waterfall, sucking a Cadbury’s Flake with the strength of an industrial Dyson and cracking a jewel encrusted cat-o-nine-tails over a seraglio of Saracen love slaves.

I mean c’mon guys! That’s a killer show ready to go! What’s the matter with you?

Anyway, last night saw Marian unsurprisingly retrieved from out of death’s grubby claws by a miracle reaction to hemlock and then a little while later retrieved from out of the grubby claws of somebody who was even worse than death itself – Guy of Gisbourne - by a far grittier agency. Guy, still wearing a black leather trench coat like an extra from an ABC video and still talkin’ like a Catherine Cookson mill owner by ‘eck, had his troth well and truly unplighted by Marian giving him a right-hook in front of the altar. Poor Guy. 13 episodes mooning after Marian and all he got into her was the blade of his knife. He should have guessed that Marian was secretly pining for the impressive length of Robin’s longbow…

As it was even Robin could hardly be called the Dr Love of Loxley. 13 episodes pretending not to be mooning after Marian and only at the end does he finally have the brains to snog her to within an inch of her heaving virtue. Geez. At this rate it’ll be the end of the next series before he finally gets to bury his weighted tip into the depths of her quivering bullseye. Or some such other archery based euphemism.

At least he was quicker getting his act together regarding the ridiculous pacifism malarkey of the merry men. Last night saw them hacking, stabbing, shooting, and knifing to death as many of the Sheriff’s men as could be squashed into a medium sized people carrier with plenty of gung-ho left over to wipe out a small garrison of CND activists. Should there have been any around. At frigging last. Swash buckling. It’s the whole point of the Robin Hood legend after all.

I have to say that despite my initial dissatisfaction with the show I will miss it. Saturday nights just won’t be the same for a little while. What can I take the P out of now?

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Private Affair

Isn’t it amazing how even the most obsessive blog writer seems to be cured of the normally overwhelming desire to autobiographize every life event over the Christmas period? Surfing through the handful of blogs that I visit on a regular basis, I’ve felt like I’ve been wandering around the remains of a virtual Marie Celeste.

Everybody has gone to ground.

Which is understandable. Here am I, first blog entry after Christmas, and am I going to regale you with accounts of my wonderful Christmas? Make your mouth water with descriptions of the Christmas food that was consumed in vast quantities under my very roof, the army of presents that I received?

No. I am not.

Christmas with family is nigh on impossible to convert into interesting and entertaining literature. Not because it’s in any way boring but because it’s somehow universal and deeply personal at the same time. It’s both a shared and a private experience. I’m sure the vast majority of us all do the same sort of things so what’s the point in recounting in minute detail what everybody else already knows?

And apart from anything else I am simply too knackered after several days of chocolate/DVD/insert-pleasurable-object based hedonistic pleasure to be bothered to write it all down here.

The countdown to the dreaded Return To Work has already begun. I need to make the most of my freedom. The world can wait. I’ve got a homemade chocolate cake to eat… a "Shameless" DVD boxed-set to watch…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Drama At Last!

And so the BBC’s Robin Hood speedily whizzes on it’s way to a (no doubt foregone) conclusion like an arrow shot from Robin’s incomprehensibly Saracen bow…

Last night in the penultimate episode we were treated to an occurrence of something that has sadly only made the odd cameo appearance in recent episodes… drama.

Yes, Dame Drama herself deigned to make an appearance… and what an improving light she cast upon the mock-Tudor mock-medieval mis-en-scene that has continually tripped up what otherwise could have been a decent rendition of the Robin Hood legend.

Marian was stabbed in her womanly belly by the dastardly Guy Of Gisbourne!

Sadly we did not get to see her maidenly belly as Marian stayed firmly wrapped up in her leathers for the remainder of the show having been stabbed whilst carrying out a daring mission as her alter ego, The Night Watchman. Neither did we get to see her quivering Saxon belly when Djaq, the puzzling Saracen woman who has joined the Merry Men for no other reason than modern political expediency, decided to perform acts of Eastern surgery upon her in an attempt to save her life.

I’m very disappointed. I spent the entire episode on the edge of my seat waiting to catch a glimpse of Lucy Griffith’s belly.


I’m convinced that in keeping with the plethora of painful anachronisms that have plagued the show since episode one, an expose of Marian’s belly would have shown that not only has her belly been tattooed with the words "Maz for da Hood 4eva" but that her belly button has also been pierced with a little silver arrow to show her secret love for Robin Hood…

But alas as this didn’t actually happen we had to make do with some actually quite decent dialogue between Robin and Marian as they finally declared their love for each other. And then Marian died. Cue manly heroic sobs from Robin. Marian remained dead. Cue intense looks of revenge-laden hatred from Robin as the Sheriff’s gloating voice chirrups forth from the background: "Robin! Come out come out come out… wherever you are!" Ah they’ve caught the colloquialisms of the period to a tee.

Final episode next week. Should be a corker. I strongly suspect that Marian will make a full, miraculous recovery and that her gaping wound will need to be sewn up by the powerful needle of love that only Robin Hood himself can provide.

Yes that is an innuendo.

A very Merry Christmas to you all – have a good one.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fray Bentos

Actually my previous blog posting has got me thinking up suitably down-at-heel, greasy-cafe, common-as-muck food based phrases that I would love to hear Dervla Kirwan utter with her gorgeously chocolatey Irish voice.

So far I’ve got:

1) "Fray Bentos..."
2) "Hot buttered mash stuffed with cheap, greasy pork sausages..."
3) "Reconstituted beef burger alternative slathered in out of date gherkins and rancid tomato sauce..."
4) "Snotty eggs fried in gristle laden fat with black bits floating on the top..."


5) "Bernard Matthews..."

Oooh... I’m shuddering all over!

Dervla Kirwan

The current proliferation of Marks & Spencer adverts on UK TV have somehow seeped into my subconscious and I now find I have an urgent desire to have Dervla Kirwan as my personal menu reader whenever I go out for a meal. Just the thought of her lilting voice crooning “double egg and chips” or “Chicken Royale with extra fries” sends shivers down the spine of my wallet…

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sneaky Santa

Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year like an absurdly dressed mugger. Not a bad analogy considering how much moolah I’ve been haemorrhaging over the past month. Every year I come up with this ridiculously hopeful budget that I have every intention of sticking to... and then blow it all in the first week. Even if I’d doubled my “Crimbo Budget” for this year I still would have ended up in the red (ho ho ho).

I just hate the thought of scrimping on pressies for Karen and Ben. There is nothing worse than opening your own gifts on Christmas morning and seeing how much money and care your loved ones have lavished upon you and then secretly cursing yourself for not buying that diamante necklace for your partner or that £6000 bucket of Lego for your kid... why oh why did I do my entire Christmas shop at TK-Max?

Thankfully I’ve been a darn sight more upmarket than TK-Max and hopefully Karen and Ben will be chuffed to pieces with what I’ve got them.

Anyway, today has been the first day that I’ve actually felt Christmassy. I’ve felt completely out of kilter with the festive season over the last two weeks – mainly because of the volume of work coming my way through my Brighter Web Design business. I honestly felt like I was drowning at one point... but feel a lot better now for putting my foot down. I’ve informed my clients that as from this Friday I am taking a 10 day break. Almost immediately I could feel my shoulders lifting and the fugue in my brain clearing and a desire to hear sleigh-bells in the bedroom... but hey, let’s leave Christmas themed roll-play out of this for the time being.

It’s weird. Suddenly it is Christmas. For real. And I feel totally subsumed with the holiday spirit. All of which is bad news for my day-job bosses as I have utterly no intention of doing any real work at all this week.

Ha ha ha!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fatty Gay

No. Not a reference to Johnny Vegas suddenly announcing a highly unlikely swing to the homo side of the street but instead a play on the French word for fatigue...

Yes, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends so much over the last few days that it now resembles Darth Maul’s light sabre. Only without all the balletic wrist-twirling, jump-kicking and grimacing.

Well actually there’s been lots of grimacing. My face has been pressed to the grindstone so much that if I were a CB radio ham my handle would undoubtedly be The Grindstone Cowboy...

Swamped by crap in my day job, my burgeoning web design business has also been hotting up so much that I’ve effectively been working 12 hour days for most of this week. I’m amazed at how dour “all work and no play” makes me. Christmas seems another world away rather than another week away.

Still things should slack off by the weekend and I can try at last to regain my Christmas spirit and joi de vivre.

After all there’s no point being a humbug at Christmas time if you haven’t got the energy to enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pig Off

After yesterday’s sense of humour by-pass I’m pleased to report that today has been imbued with a much more sanguine atmosphere. I’ve even been known to crack a smile in the last half hour.

The engineers have performed their diagnostics and have confidently laid the blame for yesterday’s indoor deluge at the foot of that singularly familiar blight of modern day living: mechanical failure. Basically the calibration of the humidifier’s sensor was completely awry and the pressure switch which acts as a safety valve to turn the machine off had also failed hence it was producing water vapour on a never ending cycle of Terminator style wanton destruction resulting in dripping condensation on the scale of Wookey Hole caves.

No. That explanation didn’t mean a thing to me either.

But it has allowed me to purchase a T-shirt with the words "See it wasn’t my fault at all ya mean-eyed bunch of gobshites!" emblazoned across the chest.

Vindication – it’s a marvellous thing.

Monday, December 11, 2006


This has not been a good day.

Woken at 5 am by the boy deciding to get up and watch TV (needless to say he was sent back to bed with a flea in his ear), I found it impossible to get back to sleep despite being desperately dog-tired.

Arrived at work bleary eyed to find one of the humidifier units in our main art store at the gallery where I work had gone haywire over the weekend. Result: massive condensation all over the (idiotically) metal ceiling and water pooling and dripping everywhere. Disaster clue: art work and water do not mix.

Spent the entire day chasing various engineers, “experts” and insurance bods to try and get a mess cleared up which my guilt complex says everybody is blaming me for.

Summary: I feel like I haven’t achieved a damn thing.

It’s been, to coin a phrase, a real pig of a day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The F Word

I have to confess towards a huge liking for Gordon Ramsay. In fact both Karen and I are avid fans of both The F Word and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Both shows are compelling viewing. It’s highly amusing to watch the (apparently) super competent Gordon Ramsay rail against the inadequacies and physical dysfunctionality of the mere mortals flapping around him.

Of course I’m sure it’s Gordon’s abrupt and formidable manner which makes people flap and bodge about in the first place... but weirdly no true sense of class / personal superiority ever emanates from Gordon. He doesn’t think of himself as being better than anybody else – he just seems to be driven purely by a desire to do things properly and have others do the same and takes it very personally when someone else’s idea of perfection isn’t on a par with his own.

I think I like Gordon the most though because of his zero tolerance towards crap. He just won’t have it. Not in his kitchen. Not from those around him. Not from anywhere. And when he encounters it he is eloquently contemptuous and doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it like it is and my God don’t I wish I had the balls to do the same. Don’t we all?

Best of all though I like Gordon for his sense of decency and fair play. When he’s gone too far with someone he apologizes and makes amends. He’s a top bloke. And it explains why his staff are so fiercely loyal.

But each time I watch his shows I can’t help but be fixated by the fact his chin looks like it’s been on the receiving end of a malicious pastry crimper. Just what is that mark? A scar? A bizarre wrinkle formed by years of sneering at ham-fisted sous chefs? The join of a false rubber latex chin?

I need to know.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Licked Into Shape

I must confess to feeling a mite churlish after my rant about Lil Chris yesterday. Further research has proven that the kid is only about 16 and apparently was a winning contestant on Gene Simmons' Rock School.


Being licked into shape by Gene Simmons' prehensile tongue live on TV is surely punishment enough.

Knowing that an aging rock star’s tongue is bigger than you are is just rubbing salt into the wound...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Get Me To The Church On Time!

Yesterday I had the consummate honour of being the Best Man at the wedding of my good friends Tris and Emily.

Although as it turned out my actual title for the day was "The Almost But Not Quite Nearly Made It On Time But Didn’t" Best Man. Let me explain.

Normally getting from Leamington Spa (bright jewel of the Midlands) to London is an undertaking so easy as not to be worth discussing...

Yesterday, however, fate contrived to elevate this normally nondescript journey into something closely resembling a labour of Hercules.

Now Karen and I – being smart cookies and not unaware of some of the traffic problems that can sometimes befall the unwary traveller to London – factored in a huge 2 hour buffer zone to the timing of our journey and set off confidently at 9.0 am assured in the knowledge that the odd spot of congestion would hardly dent our schedule and be nothing but a minor aggravation.

I mean the wedding wasn’t until 2.0 pm – this gave us a whole 5 hours to make what should have been at most a 3 hour journey. Plenty of time to read the morning papers in the odd traffic jam on the motorway and still arrive in the Capital with enough time to spare to sup a skinny latte or two in a posh Oxford Street CafĂ© before heading off cool, calm and collected to Waltham Forest Registry Office.

Fate however had dictated that we were NOT to arrive on time for the wedding. First we were assailed by a 2 hour slow moving tailback on the M40 before the police turfed everybody off at junction 10. Fine, we thought, we’ll try the M1 instead. Unfortunately road works on the M1 created another 40 minute delay as we were funnelled through a contraflow system which had ground almost to a halt due to someone breaking down half way along it. Eventually we arrived on the M25 which thankfully was fine. Great. Moving again. We could still make it on time, we thought. Though we now had utterly no margin for error.

Ah how Fate must rejoice at such words. No margin for error…

Sigh. Heavy congestion along the sole segment of the M11 that we needed to travel along put any remaining hope we had of arriving on time for the ceremony completely beyond our reach. To add insult to injury after we’d painfully crawled to the end of the M11 the slip road we needed to take to bring us into London proper had been completely closed off due to road works and we ended up being diverted in completely the wrong direction!


Anyway, let’s dispense with the travelog. Tris and Emily were wonderful about it all. They delayed the ceremony for 10 minutes in the hope we’d still make it in time but in the end one of Tris’s friend’s had to step in at the last minute to do the business with the wedding rings… and the ceremony quite rightly went ahead. Karen, Ben and I finally arrived about 5 minutes before the end of the ceremony looking sweaty, chagrined and dishevelled with not a skinny latte in sight. The best laid plans of mice and men, eh?

For all that it was a wonderful day and Tris and Em, aside from looking fantastic, were fantastic – it was really great to be in London with so many lovely, warm hearted people and to be made to feel so welcome. We really wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I was able to discharge part of my Best Man duty at least by giving a speech at the reception (which hopefully didn’t die too much of an awful death) and it was very moving to see two of my best friend’s so happy together.

The whole occasion made Karen and I come all over all gooey and romantic too and our boy Ben really hit it off with Tris’s eldest kids, Frankie and Mila.

Worth a five hour car journey through hell?

You betcha.

Congratulations Tris and Emily – may you have a long, happy life together.

Next time we come to see you we’ll take the train.