Wednesday, 30 May 2007

I'm not brought up that way, like.

I don't mean to be rude although often it just happens. And I'm not normally one for restaurant reviews although I used to enjoy Will Self's in the Observer all those years ago and I'm rather taken by Martin Kelner's reviews of Jay Rayner's reviews in an oddly post-modern way.

But the point I'm slowly dawdling towards is that there a fair number of websites where diners can leave their reviews of restaurants. I happen to be going to a restaurant called Sarastro on Drury Lane tonight and I'm not entirely comfortable with it as a choice. It stems from knowing that it was chosen more for the decor, as a place to go, rather than as a means to eating enjoyable food. From reading the reviews, which can be described as extreme to say the least, I have trepidation writ large across my face (not a pretty sight).

It could be that the negative reviews are penned by other Drury Lane restaurant owners and the glowing ones by Sarastro's owners. But I've seen the menu. The cheapo set meal offers you the choice either hot or cold salmon. Well thank you very much. And I know that cheapo set meal in London, blah blah blah, what do you expect you snob and all that but there's no effort to make it sound anything other than what it is; a begrudging effort at raking in numbers rather than diners.

The meal is all in the name of entertaining my girlfriend's parents. Since they flew in from the States they've experienced from fairly mixed service at the hands of cafes, pubs and restaurants. And fairly mixed food too. I'm keeping my stomach crossed that tonight's meal doesn't live down to expectations. They're good people. I'd like them to come back. They deserve better.

Review to follow...

Monday, 21 May 2007

Did I hear that right?

I'm having a bad day. I normally have some every two or three weeks. It used to be a lot worse. Today is like one of bad days from the bad days (if you see what I mean) so please forgive me if this starts with the following phrase:

I was lying in bed listening to the World At One... (see what I mean?)

Anyway, having spent two hours wrestling with the temptation of popping up to Lord's for the last day of the Test and having the temptation removed by my poor state of health and the rain, I retired to bed have a little dignity and decorum as I suffered. Little did I know that the World At One, that venerable Radio 4 institution was now asking for opinions.

I'll give you mine Martha. I don't listen to shows like yours in order to hear the views of the public on issues such as the Cutty Sark fire. And I really don't want to hear the view's of the public when they arrive in text format.

I'm hoping it wasn't Martha Kearney's idea because she is a journalist I have some time for. However, the whole moment reminded me of Jeremy Paxman's on-air huff against the lowering of production standards on Newsnight. Perhaps Martha is too new in the job to be able to arrange such a protest.

It's a million miles away from the half hour of magical radio that took place on Radio 4 Long Wave and Five Live Sports Extra etc in the run up to the official lunch interval at Lord's. The three current long-standing Test Match Special commentators, Messers Agnew, Martin-Jenkins and Bloefeld. Together the just talked, mostly from memory, about their time as commentators. The pleasure at hearing three professional broadcasters just talk was overwhelming and so refreshing when compared to numb skull ex-pros who litter broadcasting simply because they are ex-pros (and I know Agnew played himself but I feel he's served his dues but why is Andy Townsend still so poor?).

And feminism has yet to take root in the sports world either. Can you name the four major(ish) sports broadcasters who are also daughters of successful sportsmen/coaches? Sisters are doing for themselves, although they are willing to take on board any help that their standing gives them. Sure, they're probably all very good and are no doubt breaking down barriers for everyone else, blah blah blah. But it's only a matter of time before Zara Phillips is a roving reporters on Derby Day.

Ranting again. Sorry about that. It was so much more fun when the writing was strangely odd instead oddly angry. Which reminds me of something else but that can wait. I've had enough for now.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Protecting Us From The Hooded Claw Since 1821

I really like Martin Kelner. I can't help it. His podcasts are truly terrible, a totally unprofessional mixture of bad jokes, appalling accents and woeful singing. And yet I have subscribed even though I now have to pay. From time to time I listen to his BBC Radio Leeds show, even though I live in London (although his untimely sacking has led to him charging for his podcasts...). And I make a point of reading his Screen Break column in the Guardian.

Today I have been rewarded with this excellent piece on my current bete noir ("Edouard, what's the French for bete noir?" "Martin, we don't have one."), Inside Sport.

Read. Enjoy. Complain to the BBC about the utter shite they are passing off as journalism. Or you could try posting on their "blog" (cough) and wait to see if they bother to add it to their celebratory comments.

Friday, 11 May 2007

I'll have egg and chips please

And maybe some baked beans. And a sausage. Or four.

That's what I'd put on the Great British Menu.

Actually I'd probably make it slightly more sophisticated as I've never cooked egg and chips anyway. But that's not the point. But then nothing ever is. With my militant Marxist head on I'd like to question why a group of chefs who produce expensive food out of the range of the ordinary people are producing expensive food that doesn't fulfill its primary purpose of sating hunger to be served to a group of elitist Frenchmen (that's not all Frenchmen, just the group the food will be served to) in the opulent surroundings of the expensively produced British Embassy.


With my lazy arse head on (?) I find it very hard to get worked up about it at all. It's just not interesting enough. A bit like that whole Paris Hilton thing. Friends expect me to be angry with her for whatever it is she did and rant about how it is typical of the celebrity obsessed nature of English-speaking societies that she can seek to overturn her sentence because of who she is. But I can't be bothered to have an opinion about her at all. Someone please explain to me why I should have an opinion about her or the Great British Menu.

And for the record, I'd serve toad in the hole. As her last meal.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

I got yet another email from the Daily Telegraph this morning

The editor of the Telegraph wrote to me. He did! The email had his picture and everything. He said he wanted to know what I thought of his paper so I followed the link. Of course, imagine my surprise when it turn out to be nothing more than a brazen effort to find out what products they can sell me. So, back to the original email I went and low and behold I discovered that the silly man had left his email address on it. I'd have used a 'no reply' jobbie (if I knew how to do it of course).

Mr William Lewis - Editor, Daily Telegraph

Anyway, this is what I wrote:

Thank you for your email. I don't expect you to read this. Perhaps one of your junior bods will have the pleasure of ignoring it on your behalf.

Here's what I would like to see. I would like to the Telegraph contribute to a debate rather than spout one dimensional Tory propaganda. I'd like to read columnists who have something to discuss rather pour personal bile and prejudice out. I'd like to hear alternative view points given and considered. I'd like the Telegraph to actually admit when someone with an alternative view is correct or has done something good. I'd like you to admit that not everything this government had done has been to feather its own nest and that perhaps it has made the odd decision on the basis that they think it will improve the country. I'd like the Telegraph to admit that the country isn't going to the dogs (stop apeing the Mail) and I'd really like you to get Alan Hansen to write something outside his comfort zone. Get him to actually research a piece and prevent him from using cliches. For goodness sake, he was interesting once (about 1999 I think) but like many who receive unquestioning support from their employers because they mistakenly think their name brings readers to the paper, he has got lazy and predictable. And I'm not even going to start on your other one-dimensional sports "journos".

Thank you for the time it has taken to delete this email. I'm sure I will sleep better tonight knowing that you will automatically assume that you know best. On the other hand, feel free to get in touch and criticise the quality of my writing.

Monday, 7 May 2007

It's called Dovetailing. No one really knows why.

Consider the lilies. Consider the rousing climax in the snooker. Quickly go back the lilies.

Two things are apparent tonight.

For the love of god will someone stop calling Inside Sport 'journalism'. If that's journalism then there really is a need for Steve Davis to be wearing fulling evening regalia at a quarter to one on a Tuesday morning. Guess what? Andy Murray, a tennis player, nominally from these fair shores, would like to play tennis in the Olympics when they come to these fair shores.

Well bugger me sideways with a fish fork. I'd never had guessed that he might dream of wanting to do that.

And to cap that, the BBC's investigative sporting shit stirrer Mihir 'Conspiracy' Bose has revealed tonight that someone from a foreign country wants to buy a football club from these fair shores.

Mind you, he then rather ruins the story by claiming the club is Charlton. He could have picked a club someone cares about rather than the archetypal 'well-run/family orientated/community/too lazy to do anything other than send a border collie out to do my research and then rehash some tired old generalisations' tripe that follows Charlton around.

What worries me the most is my genuine love for the BBC and my acceptance that they still do this tripe better than anyone else (cue rousing rendition of "There's Always Be An England" with England scrubbed out and replaced with United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). For all the Murdoch Millions behind Sky Spots (sic) News, if there isn't a Sky Sports product to be promoted then it aint getting on.

If a wicket falls in the forest and there's no one watching county cricket, can we truly say that it's out?

And the BBC is sadly going the same way. News programmes cover blatant adverts for TV programmes to follow later in the day. Consequence? They depend upon each other. News journalism can go soft in the knowledge there's always a story to be thrown their way. Programme makers know their product can be promoted across the BBC networks and can even create a news story (Gary Richardson you useless bastard, I'm talking to you here even though you're on radio you Alan Partridge wannabe) for the many platforms to gobble up because they're too lazy to find something themselves and so on.


Now, about those lilies...

Quick poser

Monday 7th May.

You have 45 minutes to salvage an entire year's work.
No one really cares if you make it or not.

Who are you?

Answer in 45 minutes?
Although probably not due to a total lack of interest on the part of anyone whatsoever.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

I don't mean to be rude. Was I being rude?

Sports journalism is one of those over-confident areas, so sure of itself because it deals in big names and big fan numbers. When a new show comes along that wants to be taken seriously and is described in these terms:

Inside Sport is new, so it's not emulating anything. Our aim is to have a good balance of original journalism, features that other areas of television don't have the inclination to do, and interviews that have more depth about the individual.

then the inclination is always going to be to knock it as pretentious twaddle. The nature of this programme is to create news content for all the 24 hour providers connected with the channel (in this case, BBC News24 and Five Live). Here's the big scoop the BBC's new sports journalism programme Inside Sport managed last night:

Chelsea captain John Terry says he has spoken to the club about becoming their manager when he retires.

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. The blurb has pretentions way and above the content. Once again proving that simply because we have more information, it doesn't mean we have better information.