Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Daily Mail readers can just f...

Georgina Baillie: media whore.

Ms Baillie is the "wronged" granddaughter of Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, and finds herself plastered all over the newspapers this morning. I'm sure she's really troubled by that turn of events.

A little background: 23-year-old Georgina has slept with Russell Brand. She's a member of a burlesque troup called the "Satanic Sluts". Charming. Andrew Sachs has revealed that he doesn't approve of his granddaughter's antics, but it's a case of live-and-let-live. Sachs has also unreservedly accepted the personal apology delivered by Jonathon Ross.

Today, Ms Baillie told The Sun newspaper that her grandfather was "really upset and says he wants the whole situation to end". Well then, stop fucking talking about it, you attention-seeking, publicity-hungry, talent-free oxygen thief. And while you're at it, piss off back to obscurity where you belong. I was going to put an amusingly-captioned picture of Georgina in this blog post, but I'd rather my laptop wasn't covered in the vomit that would inevitably ensue. Apparently she feels "exposed" and "betrayed" by all of this. She's obviously confusing these for the words "publicised" and "wealthy".

I find it amusing that she's considering making a complaint about this to the police; obviously her hundred-and-one media appearances since the event have in no way undermined any complaint she might make. Oh, and she's clearly too far up her own bumhole to realise that no-one has actually done anything illegal towards her - the messages were left on Andrew Sachs' answering service and he has already said that he wants to take this no further. Publicly announcing that you've slept with someone you really have slept with is not illegal, as far as I'm aware.

She adds: "What's funny about humiliating a lovely old man who has never harmed anyone in his life?" I say: "What's funny about a fictional Torquay hotelier slapping the shit out of his Spanish waiter?" And the answer is, "your grandfather's entire career".

Mind you, none of the above stops Russell Brand from being a grade-A twat.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Sorry, you need an Internet connection to view this blog post

Joined-up thinking is a godsend. Why don't people use it more often?

Consider this: Currently my e-mail isn't working. According to NetIdentity this is a problem affecting about a third of their users, and should only last for about 8 hours. Problem is, I've had no e-mail access for an entire day now.

Logically I would raise a support ticket to ask them to look into this. NetIndentity is part of TuCows now, and they have merged the support facilities for NetIdentity, Domain Direct and Yiyd into one handy site. In order to raise a support ticket you need to register on the support site. You have to use your NetIdentity e-mail address to do this so that your account can be linked. And after you've registered you need to validate your new support account by clicking on the link in the e-mail that they send to you.

Have you spotted the flaw in this plan?

Bloody amateurs...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Domino's numpty

Sometimes something happens that renders even me temporarily speechless. One such even occurred on Monday evening.

As Mrs Steve and I regularly do, we decided to have a pizza for tea - one from our local Domino's store. It's fair to say that since this store opened we've been regular users of its delivery service; I would imagine we've had over 50 deliveries from them. And none of them have ever been an issue.

Until Monday.

About 35 minutes after I placed the order, our 'phone rang.

"Hello, this is your Domino's driver. I'm having trouble finding your house - I'm outside number 40 and I can't see it."

At this point, it's worth knowing that our house number is 41. More astute readers will recognise that this is an odd number, whereas 40 is an even number. And yes, on our street the consecutive numbers are not opposite one another. But when are they ever?! Bloody tool.

Thus I wandered to the top of our drive - still on the phone - and located the errant driver, waving at him so that he could see where our house was.

"Okay, I can see you."

Thank fuck for that. I returned to the house and hung up the phone and waited for our tasty pizza.

And waited.

And waited.

I discovered just this morning that, after ending his call to me, the driver ventured towards our house, but clearly couldn't remember the exact spot where he'd seen me. So he guessed, and knocked on the appropriate front door.

The door he chose was to number 45. The clue to this was the fact that there's a fucking big "45" on the front of it.

Jan, our neighbour at number 45, pointed the Domino's mentalist in the right direction, and he finally appeared with our pizzas. I took them, and he buggered off.

You'd think that would be the end of my pizza-acquiring ordeal. Was it buggery! Cathy's pizza was fine, but when I opened mine, ALL of the topping was in a big pile at one end of the box. The rest of the pizza was completely empty apart from a smear of BBQ sauce.

I called the store, and in fairness to them they were very helpful. No problem, sir, we'll send another one to you - just let the driver have that one back.

About 20 minutes later, the very same cock-brain of a driver returned with my new pizza. "Oh, I'm ever so sorry," spake he. "The bag fell off the seat onto the floor of the car, but I thought it would be alright".

Thought?! That's hardly your fucking strong point is it, you bloody muppet. You didn't bother to check? You've spent at the very least 17 years on this planet and still don't understand how house numbering works?! You know you're looking for number 41 but reckon that if you can't locate it, 45 will do just as well?! You, sir, are a fucking retard.

The pizza was lovely, though...

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Red feathers, black women, bassoons and racism

1950s-style casual racism never ceases to amaze me.

The other day I was listening to my playlist of UK number 1 hits. Being of a rather anorak-y bent, I have mp3s of every song to hit the top of the UK charts since they were instigated by NME in 1952. The track that I was particularly struck by was "She Wears Red Feathers" by Guy Mitchell.

For those of you not familiar with this song, it tells a very straighforward tale. English bloke, works at a bank in London, has a boring life. He escapes by watching the touring travelogues at the local Music Hall, and on one such evening falls for one of the "native girls" performing on stage. So he ups sticks, joins the navy, sails to the island she lives on and marries her, finally returning to London to resume his banking career with new wife in tow.

On the face of it, nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I couldn't imagine the same song reaching the number 1 spot in the USA considering its central theme is an interracial marriage - groundbreaking for the mid-1950s, and certainly something to be applauded.

But listen to the song (do a Google search or something, you'll find a copy somewhere), and all hope evaporates. Let's first examine the chorus:

She wears red feathers and a huly-huly skirt.
She wears red feathers and a huly-huly skirt.
She lives on just coconuts and fish from the sea.
A rose in her hair, a gleam in her eye and love in her heart for me.

Hmmm. The use of pidgin English for "hula skirt" is never a good sign, as is the fact the Mitchell pronounces coconut as "cokey-nut" just to hammer the message home. (Mitchell - real name Albert Cernak - was a Croatian-American, despite referring to himself as a "son of an Englishman" in the song.)

Mind you, there's nothing wrong with the first couple of verses - one about how he first clapped eyes on his future spouse, and one about how he travelled to her home to meet up with her. The only reference to her ethnicity is in the fact that she's described as a "native girl" in the opening verse - a twee '50s term, because surely everyone is a native of somewhere. Still, any goodwill that these opening verses might have build up is completely lost once we get to verse three and everything goes to shit:

I went to her ma and pa
And said I loved her only.
And they both said we could be wed
Oh! What a ceremony.

Seems okay so far. But what's this coming up in the next four lines...

An elephant bought her in,
Placed her by my side
While six baboons got out bassoons
And played "Here Comes The Bride".

Jesus Skateboarding Christ, I don't know where to begin with that. Where the fuck is this girl meant to live!? Where can I find an island that has both elephants and baboons as indiginous species? Why do we have it drummed home in the chorus that the place is so "backward" that they only eat fish and coconuts, but they still know what a bassoon is, and are conversant enough with the works of Richard Wagner to have heard of the "Bridal Chorus" from his opera Lohengrin. Heh, look at those funny natives, carried around by elephants and entertained by woodwind-playing primates.

The song can surely only get better from here, can't it? Oh dear...

I'm back here in London town
And though it may sound silly
She's here with me, and you should see
Us walk down Picadilly.
The boys from the London Bank
Kinda hold their breath.
She sits with me and sips her tea
Which tickles them to death.

What in the name of cock is that all about? It's delieverd by Mitchell with a knowing chuckle, but the humour seems to have gotten lost in the 55 years since the song was written. How else am I meant to read this except:

"My colleagues were amazed that I had the nerve to return home with my 'native' bride. It sounds ridiculous, but we often walk down the street together! And when she drinks tea, of all things, my colleagues think it is the single most hilarious thing they have ever witnessed."

Of course, when this song made it to the top of the UK charts, no-one batted an eyelid. I'm sure it means well, but listening to it again in 2008 makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. I think I'll have to have some halibut and coconut chowder to recover...

Monday, 1 September 2008

I predict a man from Leeds

Today I learnt that a native of Leeds is called a Leodensian. I can add that to Novocastrian (Newcastle) and Wulfrunian (Wolverhampton) in my list of "places where I know what the natives are called".

But why did I learn this? Let me take you back to 2006...

Westhill Park School, Fareham, was the venue for the first Kick Asthma holiday that I led. In fact, it was the first Kick Asthma holiday that I'd ever been on - up until 2005 they were called PEAK holidays, a term that quite rightly refuses to go away.

In 2005 at Taunton we'd started a tradition of taking a popular tune and rewriting the lyrics to use as the volunteers' entry in the final-day "talent" show. Back then it was a reworking of (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, and because I wasn't leading the holiday I had room in my car boot to fit a keyboard for some live accompaniment.

It was a different story space-wise in 2006 (despite me owning a much larger car by then), and until the second half of the week we hadn't given any thought to a song for the final night. Ross came up with the line, "Watching the kid don't eat dairy..." and from this we decided that a reworking of I Predict A Riot was called for. A collaborative effort, Ross and I would both work on it and then combine the best couplets that we came up with to create the final version. An excellent plan, with only one problem - neither of us knew what the original lyrics were.

Ross had the mp3 on his phone, so I took a copy and spent Friday morning on a playing field in Fareham listening repeatedly to the original whilst the coaches from Portsmouth FC did a footy skills session with the kids. And whilst Ross and I both managed to decipher most of the lyrics, the last couplet of the first verse stumped us both.

That didn't matter as far as our songwriting exploits were concerned, and Will You Lot Be Quiet remains possibly the finest parody we've ever crafted (although our Away In A Manger-based tribute to Mr Robert Carter runs it very close). The full version is below for your perusal.

The fact that I also needed to work out the chord sequences for the song, and how the hell I was going to play a convincing version of it on a baby grand piano, is neither here nor there.

Back to the matter in hand - Leodensian. If you've been humming I Predict A Riot whist reading this, you've probably worked out (if you didn't already know) that Leodensian is the last word of the first verse. In fact, those two troublesome lines are:

Would never have happened to Smeaton
An old Leodensian

"Smeaton" is engineer and physicist John Smeaton, and the last line of his Wikipedia article explains the reference.

An 18th-century Leeds physicist via a kids' asthma holiday just outside Southampton; just another normal day at the office.

Will You Lot Be Quiet (Weake/Gill)

Ohhhh, watching you kids don’t eat dairy
Is not always easy I tell thee
Waking you up is quite scary
And not very sensible either
The moment your head’s off the pillow
You scream and you shout and you bellow
Making loud noise seems your mission
So we all sing out to you

La, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la

Will you lot be quiet
Will you lot be quiet

Will you lot be quiet
Will you lot be quiet

Waited all evening for our tea;
The girls took an hour to get ready
They say it’s so they can look pretty;
Won’t work for the boys, more’s the pity
The bedroom floor’s got all their clothes on
You can’t reach the hook their stuff goes on
Out in the tents you got frozen
We still have to ask you all

La, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la

Will you lot be quiet
Will you lot be quiet
Will you lot be quiet
Will you lot be quiet

We hope you’ve had a good time here, liked each other and ICE bear...

Saturday, 30 August 2008

The sound of musicals

You can now apparently get the "Mamma Mia!" soundtrack on CD. Odd - I've owned a copy for several years now. It's called "ABBA Gold: Their Greatest Hits".

I remain unconvinced by musicals that grab a pile of songs by an artist or group and craft a wafer thin plot around them ("We Will Rock You", I'm looking at you). There have been far too many that have disappeared without much of a trace. I think Barry Manilow tried with "Copacabana", Billy Joel gets an outing in "Movin' Out", Take That's Greatest Hits are bastardised in "Never Forget" - the list goes on. In a change of tack, "Jersey Boys" uses the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons to tell the story of, well, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. This seems like a sound move, until you realise that it's a "fictionalised" story. Which surely means, "we made it up over a coffee 'cos it fit the songs". Sounds familiar?

This leads me neatly onto "I'd Do Anything", the search for the nation's Nancy (which was obviously a tie between Graham Norton and John Barrowman - John Humphries was disqualified for having a truly terrible syrup). True talent always shines through, as aptly demonstrated by the final of "Last Choir Standing" which is on TV as I type this. I don't care who wins, both finalists contain more talent then you'll see if you watch the entirety of the current series of "The X-Factor" from start to finish.

Back to Nancy, and Mrs Steve and I had the pleasure of visiting the Faenol Festival in Bangor last Sunday evening. The main reason for this was the presence of a certain Mr J Barrowman, but joining him on the bill were Daniel Boys (one of the lads who wasn't Joseph in "Any Dream Will Do", but who has a bloody amazing belter of a voice) and Jodie Prenger - the nation's real Nancy.

Her performance of the full version of Send In The Clowns was even more moving than the truncated version she performed to so much acclaim on the show. She also moved me with a quite beatiful reading of Out Here On My Own from "Fame". The nation chose well.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Internet, Facebook and Chemistry

The internet is a wonderful thing. Really. You're never alone with junk mail and malware. I'm getting breast enlargements next week. Comes with a free fake Rolex and a box of Viagra-a-like - "I Can't Believe It's Not Stiffer".

Facebook has a lot to answer for. Ignoring the draconian terms and conditions that you agree to by using it, is it just my imagination or has it turned into a more feature-rich version of Friends Reunited? And what was the real purpose of that site? Yep, it was to find all the people who'd picked on you while you were at school and rub their faces in the fact that you were now more successful than them. With Facebook you can do this with words and pictures. Here's an album showing our new car. Do you have a Mercedes too? No? Then fuck off.

It's not intentional; these things happen when you're uploading every photo you've ever taken and letting everyone who's ever met anyone you've ever met look at them. I'm going on holiday for two weeks - oh, and here's a photo of my front door. Hmm, where's all my furniture gone?

Apparently the Olsen twins are now "of legal age". This is excellent news. Beating two inane, vacuous, oxygen-thief adults to death sounds less cruel then doing the same to a couple of children. And I bet they'd still be smiling.

Having recently been to the US of A (and not a touristy part of it, either) I'm happy to relate that normal Americans are just that - normal. And American. You can't have everything. If you did, where would you put it?

In a very big box, of course. Just don't ask where you'd put the box.

It occurred to me the other day that I'd recently spent two nights sharing a bedroom with a friend who has a chemistry degree, and who has told me on a couple of occasions that she knows of several completely untracable ways of killing someone. Why the bloody hell didn't I think of that at the time?!

At least I wasn't drunk...

Thursday, 28 August 2008


The Blogroll has been recovered from the depths of the Internet and safely re-homed on my own webspace. Perhaps this time I'll manage more than three posts in four years.

But don't hold your breath...