Friday, 23 February 2007

And in all the excitement of multiple seaside visits I nearly missed it.

The return of Danger Mouse

Ah, them were days, when men were men and international heroes were mice. Gawd bless BBC2 for showing it. A quick glance at the old schedules suggests it's not on next week (crikey!). So for all you who've missed it this week (crumbs!) it's off to the DVD store for you.

Mind you the animation is/was pretty crappy anyway.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

You went where?

Four days ago I got back from lovely Bilbao.
Twenty four hours ago I was trekking back from

Or sunny Southend as it's otherwise known.
Now it's a bit of an unfair comparison due to the time of day/quality of camera etc etc etc.
But there's a world of difference between stepping off the train at Southend Victoria to be confronted by a concrete circle of hell and the graceful style of Bilbao. There's several hectares difference between the sophisticated if somewhat faded chic of the sea-side suburbs to the north of Bilbao and the bright lights of the front at Southend in February. And you have to cross the galaxy to find a greater difference than the one that exists between the cool, cultured (if decidedly weird) Basque variations on the tapas theme and this:

Didn't Teddy Taylor used to MP for Sarfend on Sea? Teddy, "I'll defend England 'til I die even though I'm Scottish" Taylor? I could be wrong. But if he was, I get the feeling he was defending the indefensible. Those crazy continentals know a thing or two, Teddy. Perhaps we could even learn something from them about food, culture, bars, transport.
And football. Despite the glory of the mighty Crystal Palace's thumping (i.e. extremely lucky) one nil win over Southend United, the game was of the most atrocious standard (and I use the word standard with due caution). So bad was it that we felt no guilt about arriving late and leaving early. And as much as I loathe the indentikit blandness of Pride Park, the "Walkers" stadium, the Stadium of Light and so on, the sooner Roots Hall gets turned in low-cost housing the better everyone will feel. When the best things about a football ground are the turnstiles, you know you're in for a bad evening.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Where in the world is this monster?

Te he he.
A few days in the sun, a spot of culture and Rioja. And although these pictures do not really show Bilbao at it's most beautiful (and it is, in places, very beautiful) I'm putting them here anyway.

I have often been accused of being obsessed with the Woolwich Ferry although that exclusion order is frankly a disgrace. So I have to travel to the Basque Country to get satisfaction. It's an odd attraction, the transporter bridge. It's even funnier how they charge you 30 cents to ride its mechanised transporter thingy and 4 euros to walk across the non-mechanised bit at the top.

Everywhere you look their trees are ready for the next shot of the Magnificent Seven.

And now that the actors are here...

Ok already, that's enough. It's early and I have the gym to go to and an essay to write...

Monday, 12 February 2007

And the last shall be first and the first shall be last

Or to paraphrase Billy Bragg:

Help Save The Youth of Australia.

There was a moment, just one special moment for me. When Strauss caught Ponting. The reaction of the England team was not one of surprise but of belief. At that moment they weren't mopping brows because the greatest batsman of his generation was out cheaply, they were celebrating in a manner that suggested a win was inevitable.
And they won.
So I guess it was.
But thank god that tour's over and I can rest my radio until the latter stages of the World Cup (not that I'm expecting us to beat the giants of Bolivia and Guam (or whoever it is that clogs up the group stages of the second most pointless world cup - after rugby league...)

Friday, 9 February 2007

About fucking time too.

Rickey Ponting, Glen Mcgrath, Don Bradman, Alf Ramsey, John Howard, all the bar staff and supply teachers in London, Paul Hogan, David Campese, Jim Robinson, Burke and Wills, Men At Work, Skippy the Kangeroo, Oliva Newton John, Dame Edna Everage:
Your boys took one hell of beating.*

Picture from BBC website courtesy of my license fee.

(Ok, here's a slightly more accurate take on the actual translation but the first one was much more fun)
We are best in the world! We are best in the world! We have beaten Australia at cricket!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten Australia! Australia, birthplace of giants. Paul Hogan, David Campese, Jim Robinson, Men At Work, Skippy the Kangeroo--we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. John Howard can you hear me?
John Howard, I have a message to you during your election campaign. I have a message to you: We have knocked Australia back in the Commonwealth Bank series of cricket. John Howard, as they say in your language in boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"

(Just don't mention the test series, please)

Normal service resumed...

Left flat at the end of the second over of England's reply. By the time I got to the gym three wickets had been lost.
It's better now.
We still wont win.
But in the spirit of the day I salute our dour bravery (?) with this:

Er, this doesn't sound right

I woke up around five and as has been the habit, stuck the cricket on the radio expecting to hear doom, gloom and disaster. And I did. Ponting and Hayden were on the go, and how. One hour later and suddenly it's time for a jig in the style of:

Now, I'm not suffering any delusions of associated grandeur. I know how this teams work. They shall overcome, we shall be undercooked. However, I know a bit more about cricket then your average media commentator/mug punter and there's always hope. That's why 170-1 can become 250-9.
Of course, to use the expression us followers of both Crystal Palace Football Club and the England cricket team are only too painfully aware of, and in homage to Escape To Victory:
"Come on lads, we can still loose this."

Thursday, 8 February 2007

There's No Smoke Without Fire

I'm sure that's probably not entirely true. What do I know? I have an F for my GCSE in Chemistry which I often proudly told students, especially when covering Science lessons for weird professor types who, despite being exactly forty-three brain cells and two A levels short of starting a medical degree, should really have known more about looking after themselves in the winter time.
If there a point? Not usually. Anyway, here's a question for those of you out there in Her Britannic Maj's United Kingdom of So On And So Forth. The estimable Matt Haynes has said that for the third issue running he'd quite like to use something I'd submitted for Smoke (see links on the side guys). And that's brilliant because I love that magazine. But I feel I need to branch out a bit as well. Don't get me wrong, I plan to keep submitting to Smoke as long as I have ideas in my brain (stop drumming your fingers dear reader). Well, where are the opportunities? Ambit looks a bit, well, erm, pretentiously intimidating. Same for Stand. And don't even bother mentioning Granta. And there are some ho-hum websites around. Come on, I challenge you, where are the British Lit Mags that take things from little old writers like little old me?
And I'm not bothered whether or not they pay. Really. I'm not.
So, what do you think?
Out with it?

Friday, 2 February 2007

Riding Along In My Automobile, My Baby Beside Me At The Wheel

Every time I start one of these I know picture myself narrating The Wonder Years. And frankly that's getting annoying. Little did we know at the time...
Worth mentioning that Decoration's new CD, Flippant, is out and jolly fine it is too. Candidate is a blinder of a song in anyone's book although I'm not convinced this is the best version of it that exists. Oh, get me. Anyway, follow the link on the right and by the latest CD from the least hard working band in British rock! (makes stupid gesture with his fingers even though the term "rawk" doesn't actually apply to Decoration because they're the band that could make you like the Wedding Present, should you be so inclined, which, let's face it, not many people are. So, big recommendation from me then) Ok, I've got a reason why you should buy it, how many albums do you own that have songs with the word "fickle" in the title? Well, this one has got two! There you go.

So, this weekend I will be:
Using words like fickle and harrumph.
In the Bluebottle pub in Crystal Palace, annoying Liverpool fans while they try and watch the "Merseyside Derby" (insert squeaky voice) by adapting their songs to suggest that they might not win anything this year or by telling them they should support their local team however crap they are.
Supporting my local team, however crap they are (actually, technically Charlton, Millwall and West Ham are now more local than my beloved CPFC but that's not the point).
Getting half cut in The Cut (geddit, huh, huh, oh ok, it's a street near Waterloo with some bars on it).
And, retrieving half of my CD collection from the world's most environmental pixie (he's the man who put the mental into...) on Sunday. This will be the best part of the weekend, not because I love my CD collection (harrumph) but because the pixie and I haven't seen each other for ages (he lives in some backward country now, Gloucestershire I think it's called. It may be near the Cook Islands) and he wont have seen me in my new, improved, thin, contact lens, vaguely all right looking state. As Brian Moore (whose head looked uncannily like the London Planetarium) once said as Alan Pardew actually managed to pass the ball accurately for Ian Wright to score in the play-off final, second leg, against Blackburn in 1989, "That's the part I like."