Archive for July, 2009


Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The People’s Plinthess
If you’re going to get nekkid in public (and I haven’t forgotten number 13, what better place to do it than in the middle of London in July in Trafalgar Square, standing on a plinth as nature intended after performing a drag act and holding up a ‘Hello Mum’ sign? Class.
Note: If playing the video advance the cursor beyond the first few frames if it doesn’t autostart

I was puzzled by this unusual looking vegetative excrescence the other day.

There were lots of them in an area of shady woodland. Lots of ivy covering the ground among other shade plants. Anybody know what they are?

Apollo 11+40

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Even after all these years the questions still keep coming to me.
Didn’t it, well, all get a bit stinky up there in that tin can? What with that space food gloop they ate and those space nappies and those tubes they had to stick in to those unmentionable places. Then the poor buggers got back to earth and they were shoved in a silver caravan together for another 21 days and made to eat TV dinners.
Three things:
1. Did the air conditioning have a max-extract function?
2. Who had the job of extracting the astro-poo and has it been preserved for future generations?
3. What a luxury it must have been to make a private visit to the bog without Buzz buzzing around mid-ablution.

No wonder they’ve barely spoken to each other since 1969.

Olympic pics
With exactly three years to go to the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games here is a nice timelapse video of the last year. The Olympic Stadium is looking very stadium like already. Sure it’s a pragmatic design (‘sustainability’ has been such a gift to the unimaginative cost-cutters) but it looks set to be completed well ahead of schedule. Shame they won’t be rebuilding the whole of London Underground for 2012 – that would be a legacy.

Need to know
..why some restaurants won’t allow you to opt out of unwanted side salad adornments when you order food. If I wanted a slice of orange and some manky coleslaw I’d have brought it myself in a special Garnishes of the Eighties retro Tupperware Garnish Galoshâ„¢. Look, I’m saving you money – you can retain the fruit/cabbage combo for the next punter and charge me the same. I’ll be happy, you’ll be richer: we both win. It’s not allowed? I have to have coleslaw? The computer insists? Sigh.

The vinyl army

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Regular readers (are there any left?) will know that your correspondent is not one to adhere to convention. You will understand, then, my delight in an opportunity to pioneer a new concept in personal security, neigh, a cut price opportunity to pioneer a new concept in personal security. The parcel arrived the other day
and I was pleased to see that each component was individually wrapped.

After careful unpacking, my personal phalanx of plastic pandas was assembled and ready to march on anyone who dares.

Mean looking buggers aren’t they?
Qin Shi Huang has got nothing on yours truly.


Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I went to take a look at the new Serpentine Pavilion – slinky, shiny, sexy. Must go back. Then to the V&A for a bank busting bagel and a quick trip round the Telling Tales show. The dark room  the back is full of stuffed animals – avoid. Across the road for a nostalgic look at Eagle, replicated in Blue Peter style splendour, Couldn't find the Apollo 10 command module though – disappointing.

And so to Kings Place last evening to attend a recording of Radio 4's Chain Reaction. The idea is that one well known person interviews another. In the following episode the previous interviewee becomes the interviewer. Last night's 'chain' was Robert Llewellyn (AKA Kryten from Red Dwarf), Dave Gorman and Frank Skinner. As a radio show, the recording process was deliciously understated. Just two people on a bare stage with a microphone each, talking interestingly for the best part of an hour. Having been to a few TV recordings I'd been previously surprised by the almost instant hysteria which emerges from the audience. It's almost as if they've filled the auditorium with guffaw gas and I'm wearing a gas mask. I wondered if the same effect would be seen at a radio recording. It was. Almost as soon as the producer walked on stage to tell us where the emergency exits were, the bloke behind me started whooping with glee. When Robert Llewellyn and Dave Gorman emerged from the wings he sounded as though he was having an asthma attack and that was before they'd barely said a word. The producer had primed us to go a bit mental when the Green Light was switched on during the opening theme music. Before he'd even had a chance to finish his "shall we try it out now" everyone was clapping obediently like trained sealions, whistling and cheering. Hearing overexcited audiences on Radio Four behaving like this, I'd always assumed that the crazed applause they use at the beginnings is edited on afterwards having been recorded later on in the show when the audience have warmed up. But no, it's all authentic mass medicated mirth. Dave Gorman in the hot seat was well paired with Robert L prodding him gently into telling his stories. The two have worked together before and this seemed to give the conversation a very natural feel even though Robert appeared to  be working from a chunky looking script. Gorman came up with some great anecdotes and perhaps his funniest remark of the evening was the story of his tandem parachute jump in New Zealand; without giving too much away, the punchline is "I'm buggered" and he very well might have been in a very literal, terminal way. I'd not known previously that Dave Gorman had had a spell of 'going off the rails', he calls it a breakdown. It seemed to arise from procrastination on a grand scale which lead to him blowing a publishers advance and then creating a stage show to pay off the debt – as you do. There were a few moments when talking about himself, and later when interviewing Skinner, that he revealed a pretty thin skin. A sensitivity to criticism I've noticed before. I quite like this.

Skinner got a great reception. I've mixed feelings about him. The whole Fantasy Football / David Baddiel thing leaves me cold. Baddiel, especially, irritates me. I met him once, but that's another story. The big thing, which was obvious with Skinner, is his star quality. Gorman was clearly in awe but held it together with some clever questioning allowing him free reign to roam around comedically to great effect. He was relaxed, feet up on the sofa relaxed, and it felt like overhearing a very funny conversation. At his most enjoyable for me when talking about his early life and career. At his least when dropping names, going on a lot about that Three Lions single and regaling us with details of his three in a bed session/s. Skinner has a giggly,  naughty little boy, quality and he's very engaging. Some of this comes from his self knowledge; he appears to have accepted his vocation as a smutmeister. Funniest moment, his short a capella performance of his Formbyesque song about a suicide bomber. Not funny? You had to be there. Should be broadcast around September time – well worth  a listen.

11 when 7

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I was in bed when Neil stepped down on the surface but I didn’t mind, I was only little. Weeks of buildup. We made a giant cardboard rocket at school. Mr Brookes, the caretaker, was called in on a special lunar mission with his stepladder to hang it from the steel girders on the ceiling of our classroom. Mrs Boyle looked very happy when it finally was up there. Just like Gene Kranz I suppose, though Gene’s haircut was way cooler than Mrs Boyle’s. Mrs Boyle was lovely. I can’t speak for Gene, never having met him. We’d painted ‘USA’ on the side in red, just like the real thing. Lots of silver foil was involved too. I can’t remember if we did a countdown. I think Mr Brookes struggled a bit getting it level, just like Neil. But he made it and weren’t we all glad and doesn’t it feel so close and yet so far away?