Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weekend Video: OMD - Night Cafe

You might not be a fan of OMD, but this video clip for their latest single is possibly the wrongest, sickest thing I've seen since We're The Millers last weekend. Well done!

(Actually, it's a bit weird, slightly horrific and might leave a bad taste in your mouth. Your mileage may vary)

Thursday, August 29, 2013


It's great to see the Wombles making a return to Britain's television screens, as there's a true dearth of home-grown original programmes for children as costs are slashed across the broadcasting sector.

What's also good is that the makers aren't afraid to confront controversial issues head-on:

In a hard-hitting first episode, Tomsk is mistaken for a badger after a drunken prank with a bottle of Tipp-ex and black felt-tip pen goes horribly wrong, and he blunders into the path of the local cull. A tragic lesson on the futility of the government's misguided attempts to tackle bovine TB.

In the second episode, the gang have a fight on their hands as a private contractor wins the Wimbledon Common litter contract. Worse follows as their new rivals neglect to do their CRB check and accidentally employed a mass killer who's forgotten to take his medication. Madame Cholet goes missing.

Episode Three: Orinoco joins the English Defence League, and rounds on Great Uncle Bulgaria as a "dirty bearded muzzie immigrant". Orinoco soon learns the error of his ways and learns to live and let live, but not before Bulgaria suffers a stroke that leaves him dependent on round-the-clock care for the rest of his days.

Episode Four: Wimbledon social services, concerned that the infirm Bulgaria is living in little more than a hole in the ground filled floor-to-ceiling with obsessively collected rubbish, have him taken into care and the burrow condemned. Worse, the Womble organisation face unlimited fines for illegal storage of contaminated waste and are bankrupted. It's all too much for Tobermory, who is found with his head in a gas oven. The rest of the gang watch bewildered as a Tesco Express opens on the site of what used to be their home.

Five: Consigned to life on the streets and quite unsuited to modern life, Wellington and Bungo earn money begging outside Waterloo Station, while Orinoco is less discerning about the company he keeps and even less careful of how he plies his trade. Telling his pals he's got an appointment near King's Cross, he is never seen again. Viewers see a rolled-up carpet being dumped at a council recycling centre, one grey paw flopping from the end.

Fade to black.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


You can tell it's what we in the journalistic profession call the "Silly Season" when newspapers start filling up with people who claim they've seen leopards, lynx and lions in the wilds of the British countryside.

Now, I know a thing or two about big cat sightings, having come face-to-face with the Fleet Panther, which was – of course- nothing but my neighbour's cat that looks like Hitler, caught in just the right kind of lighting conditions to make it look enormous.

As humans, we hate to admit that we're not perfect, and summer evenings and early mornings always bring a spate of these big cat sightings where our brain has tried – and failed – to make sense the evidence laid before it. That evidence being a normal sized cat in such light that eyes and brain have worked together, got perspective entirely wrong, and produced the illusion of enormous size in a domestic moggy.

So, we've got – in little over a couple of weeks:

Big cat seen in Derbyshire (photos on smartphone show normal-sized cat scratching a tree that is far smaller than you think)

Big cat seen in the West Country (photo could be anything. up to and including Miley Cyrus twerking Robin Thicke's groinal area)

Big cat glimpsed in Kent (stock photo of AN ACTUAL LEOPARD)

And the money shot:

...until you take a look at the photo, and the big cat is actually a normal-sized cat wondering why it's being photographed by a bunch of blokes wielding golf clubs for their own safety. 

Witnesses are usually very sure of the evidence of their eyes, and will swear blind there's a lion on the loose somewhere in Essex.

However, there are also people for whom fantastic claims always seem to be true, and will swear blind that the moggy pictured above is a leopard. A leopard called Tiddles, who likes his place on top of the radiator and eats Whiskas. Some of these people are very earnest in their convictions, and are the kind of person who thinks every ripple on the surface of a large Scottish loch is caused by an enormous lizard. Even the briefest amount of analysis disproves their claims.

But, if they are always so patently ridiculous, why do these stories still appear in local newspapers?

Simple: They've got 32 pages to fill, advertisers to please, and a confused local with grainy mobile phone pictures and a story to tell are an easy win.

Silly season indeed.  

For a more forensic and level-headed exploration into the phenomenon, I point you towards Hayley Stevens, one of our finest skeptical researchers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


This happened:

"Hello, Stumpy, how are you?" said the middle-aged woman as she made a fuss of The New Dog Wilson Blue Rabbit, "Have you been a good boy since I last saw you, Stumpy?"

She looked me in the eye: "He IS called Stumpy, isn't he?"

"He is now."

Poor The New Dog That Was Formerly Called Wilson Blue Rabbit But Is Now Stumpy, for his name is now Stumpy.

But the upshot of this is the fact that somewhere out there in Fleet is a Jack Russell Terrier called Stumpy.

A dog called Stumpy.

UPDATE: I have now seen the real dog called Stumpy. And he is - indeed - a very stumpy dog. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

SharkNado and beyond

It appears that they're cashing in on the so-bad-it's-brilliant B-Movie SharkNado with another Shark-based disaster movie: GHOST SHARK.

If you haven't seen SharkNado, it's a film about Sharks in a tornado, that come ashore and eat people. Ghost Shark is about a dead shark that comes back as a ghost and ... you get the idea.

I'd only be interested in Ghost Shark if it has a fishing exorcist called Jeremiah Blackbeard, who hasn't done an exorcism since the events in PolterSquid that left the great scar on his memory after he could do nothing to save those poor kids on the school boat trip...

Of course, Ghost Shark and PolterSquid shouldn't be the end of it.

I'm going to pitch them Octo-Zombie, the tale of a killer Octopus that just won't die. "Eight legs and now it's DYING for your brains."

Also, a film where a giant haunted Piranha haunts a small town, but it's just Old Man Villiers from the ice cream store who just wants the monopoly on local ice cream sales by making people believe the local legend of the Giant Haunted Piranha. But he didn't reckon on the persistence of a dog and his pals in a big van.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dog onna beach

In which we take Wilson Blue Rabbit to the beach for the first time.

Man, he loves the beach.

Small... far away


Monday, August 19, 2013

Not a review of Public Service Broadcasting, South Street, Reading, 15 August 2013

A night out to see the extraordinary talents of the popular beat combo Public Service Broadcasting in Reading, but, alas, I do not have the superlatives to describe the event*.

While most of the concert-goers were sound, respectable people, there were a few slackers and recidivists whose behaviour should be highlighted as a warning for others.

I need not dwell on the behaviour of the small group of Gig Tossers, for there always seems to be a gaggle of these people at every concert – pushing in front of people, fighting amongst themselves and generally being a nuisance to all around them. I expect they are like this all the time, and their social media profiles include the word "banter".

But there is a greater menace, and it is this:

People who go to concerts wearing a T-shirt of the band they're going to see.
 It’s basic gig etiquette. Worse is wearing a T-shirt for the current album of the band you're going to see.

Tucked in.

The only exception to this rule is if the band has been performing for at least twenty years, and your T-shirt is worn as an indication that you have been following them from the start.

But, in this chap's case: New T-shirt, current album, tucked in.

We tarred and feathered him and left him on the ring road. Then we bought everything the merch stand had to offer and made our way into the night.

*But the concert was very very very very very very good.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Not a review of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

I was going to do a detailed film review of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (It's pretty good by the way), but then I saw this promotional video and realised I couldn't be arsed.

This chap from Channel 4's racing coverage IS Alan Partridge incarnate, and nothing more needs to be said.

Except, perhaps: BACK OF THE NET

Friday, August 16, 2013

In which my local Post Office takes a turn for the weird

Nope, they're just stars

A trip to our local sub-Post Office, where amid all the other tat and borderline-offensive greetings cards, they've started selling grave ornaments.

Ornaments for graves.

At this point, I might like to make some sort of ham-fisted comment about the state of the Royal Mail, but this time I shall let it pass.

So, it transpires that the queue for the counter now takes you past "In memory of a darling son" and a shockingly bad poem to a Beloved Wife which should be dragged out, shot, and left in a tin bath of quicklime round the back of the industrial estate.The Beloved Wife is - according to the doggerel - not dead, just sleeping, and kidding nobody but herself.

I only wanted a stamp - not death, woe and bad poetry.

I'm going back on pension day, with popcorn.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Living under the paw of a tyrant

This is The New Dog Wilson Blue Rabbit.

Look at him.

What a sweetie.

Don't believe a word. He is the most demanding creature under the sun, even more demanding than bonsai plants. Because while bonsai drop dead the second you ignore them, Wilson resorts to barking. Lots of it.

And his demands? Walkies.

Nothing but walkies.

Stand up – BARK

Sit down – BARK

Go to the toilet – BARK

Get dressed in the morning – BARK

Accidentally catch his tyrannical little eye – BARK

Like Pavlov's dogs, even the close down music on my computer equates to walkies, which equals BARK, and it's my own stupid fault for caving in to him every time I stand up, sit down, go to the toilet, accidentally catch his eye or close down my laptop.

Or walk in through the door. Or breathe.

He is a monster. A hideous dictator. But also cute and fuzzy and we love him.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A brief guide on how to overtake cyclists safely and effectively whilst driving on the open road

I like to think I'm a driver who respects other road users.

One of the things that I do - and sometimes to the annoyance of other drivers - is not to overtake cyclists until I'm sure I can give them enough space. I ride a bike, so I know what it's like for a car to squeeze past and leave you riding down the gutter.

And so it came to pass the other evening as I drove into Fleet, and spied a bicycle in front of me.

Long dark hair, and a lilac floaty top.

The long hair was very dark, and the floaty top was very floaty as I gave the cyclist plenty of space as I overtook.

Then I looked in my mirror. Not - dear reader - to ogle, but to check that I had left enough road space.

His long dark hair was very long, his lilac floaty top was very floaty, and his beard was an unfetching shade of grey.

I got him with the passenger door*

*By which I mean I drove off, doing nothing but considering life's trickery 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friday, August 09, 2013

In which I find a slice of bread that looks like cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott

This is cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott.

I'm not a particular fan of the wonky-smiled Yorkshireman, but imagine my surprise when I came to make my cheese and pickle sandwiches for work that I should find this slice of bread:

That's cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott, portrayed through the medium of a medium-sliced Morrison's own-brand wholemeal loaf. Uncanny, I'm sure you'll agree.

Then I ate it.

Next week: A cauliflower that looks like footballer Gareth Bale.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


I'm well aware of the fact that there's nothing more disheartening in this world than a friend's charity fund-raising efforts, so I'll keep this short.

In another effort to grow up, I'm going a whole month without swearing - particularly on Twitter where I'm particularly potty-mouthed. There'll be a swear jar, with proceeds to WaterAid, and a complex set of rules that encourages non-swearing alternatives.


Your participation is simple: If I resort to "Prannett", a word used by bearded members of the Pub Bore Party, you are obliged to give me a proper kick in the fork and remind me of the swear jar.

To encourage me, you may also wish to empty your wallets into my Just Giving page, but no pressure, right?

I shall close with this simple, effective, swear-free message:


Donate to WaterAid HERE

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The quest for honest breakfast cereals, because they're all insincere lying gits

I'm going to put it on the line and make this bold statement: There is nothing more insincere in this world of ours as the "Good Morning!" in big, red cheerful letters on the side of a cereal packet. Bastards.

At least the "Wakey wakey!" on the side of at least one box dusting up my kitchen shelves is more appropriate, and should at least spur other manufacturers to consider more honest slogans:

"Holy shit, you look rough"

"If you got your crap together yesterday, you could be eating this WITH milk"

"Enjoy your nutrition-free calories, LOSER"

"Look, it's ten o'clock at night. Try actual food"

"Another day dawns, one closer to your death"

"Fuck it, go back to bed"

When I get my own cereal brand (and mark my words I will), I'm going to call them Ennui Flakes.

Monday, August 05, 2013

What's it like to have an endoscopy?

After receiving a cunningly-worded invitation from Frimley Park Hospital expressing a desire to stick a television camera down my throat, I rolled up expecting a day of pain and woe as they prodded around at my stomach ulcer.

"So", I asked, eyeing the evil-looking snake they intended to shove down my parts, "will it hurt?"

Also: "You've cleaned it since the last guy, right?"

No, it won't hurt.

Also: They do bums in the mornings, throats in the afternoon, and they always, always clean the endoscope. If they've got time.

Taking a look at the throbbing, glowing monstrosity, I took them up on their kind offer of sedation. My last words as I went under – just as the doctor turned on the music – were "Oh shit, you're not making me listen to sodding Coldplay as wel…."

Then I woke up with a nasty taste in my mouth.

That would be the anti-gag reflex throat spray. I hope.

And they liked me so much, they invited me back. 

(If there's one thing I've learned from this experience, it's that everybody's had one.I didn't realise that the medical profession was so keen to see inside us all)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

THE WORLD'S END: A bit of a review and a sneaky wallop of Sisters of Mercy

To the flicks to see the brand new Simon Pegg/Nick Frost number "The World's End". And I was secretly relieved that I had decided against wearing the old Sisters of Mercy T-shirt, seeing as it plays a rather crucial role in the development of one of the film's (sadder) central characters. That'll be the basis of a future blog post, in which I illustrate my md-life crisis through the medium of old band T-shirts.

Then I thought "bugger it", let's go home and play the Sisters up loud. So here's eleven minutes of This Corrosion.

OK, so I prefer Temple of Love, but that's not in the film.

As for the film, the soundtrack's pretty much the score to my life, and I've often had to beat up alien robots in pub toilets. So, yes.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: The Curse of the Pub Lunch

The Ploughman's Lunch: Note poncy wooden serving platter

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: The Curse of the Pub Lunch

We trecked across the heath that Sunday afternoon, the sun on our backs, to our local. Two pints of your finest, mein host, and a glance at the bar menu.

I ordered the ploughman's, and minded not that it arrived on a wooden platter, the true sign that a food ponce is in charge of the kitchen. At least – one thought – it means that I would get a half-decent ploughman's lunch with locally sourced ingredients.


The ham and the pork pie, the chutney, the salad, the pickled onions, the apple, the hearty serving of bread – I could fault none of these.

But when it came to the most important ingredient of them all, where I expected a flavourful taste explosion, I instead got two thin, slightly sweaty slices of medium cheddar. They might as well have been a wafer of processed cheese to go on top of a burger.


So outraged, in fact, that we bought another round of drinks, imbibed them at our leisure, bid the barman a fond farewell, AND LEFT.

By rights, I could have stormed into the kitchen and burned razed the place to the ground by setting fire to their poncy wooden serving platters and not a jury in the land would convict me, but that is not the way we do things in Britain.

Add this to the disappointing ploughman's I recently ate at a National Trust café (over which we registered our displeasure by purchasing several items in the shop and strolling round a country house and grounds FOR SEVERAL HOURS), I doubt if I will ever eat an acceptable on in this country ever again.

Britain, you've got to pot. SORT OUT YOUR PLOUGHMAN'S LUNCHES.