Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sachsgate: From the forums

Magigirl says on Digitalspy It's time to disband the BBC

We can't continue to fund the filth which is being broadcast in our name and at our considerable expense, and we can't afford to keep on filling the bulging pockets of the likes of Jonathon Ross to the tune of millions of pounds each year, only for them to broadcast filthy, offensive material in return.

Presumably, the BBC served a useful purpose many decades ago but it's now time for the madness to stop.

Sack Ross, and then split the the BBC into its component parts and sell it off to the private sector, the proceeds from the sale being divided and returned to those who funded it, which is us - the licence-paying public.

Um. Meanwhile, the Today Programme pointed out that it was the 70th Anniversary of the War of the Worlds radio show and, very quietly, drew a parallel between millions of people being frightened by a radio programme they hadn't heard, and thousands of people being offended by a phone call they hadn't heard...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I've met Andrew Sachs. I worked with him once. I was very hungover and trying not to vomit. This isn't so much declaring an interest as dropping a name. He was a nice man - very quiet, likes croissants, bit frosty. But then we had just had Hannah Gordon in and she'd shown us she could split an apple on her knee and that it was a skill that had really impressed John Lennon. "And I mean *really*" she'd twinkled.

Anyway, poor Andrew Sachs. It really is playing into the tabloids' grubby hands, though, isn't it? Aged National Treasure terrorised by Britain's Wealthiest Entertainers? Short of spit-roasting Joanna Lumley it's hard to work out what they could have done worse.

The really sad thing is that you just *know* what's going to happen. You can sense it as soon as phrases like "BBC Internal Inquiry" and "Urgent Investigation" start floating around. Will they fire Ross or Brand? No. In the end they'll simply sack the show's producer. He only earns thirty grand, he's nobody (even though he's got good hair). And it'll look responsible. They can issue a statement: "Clearly, both of them overstepped the mark. Maverick talent needs careful handling, and there was a clear failing in this case."

Which is one way of reading it. Another is to imagine a 25-year old producer trying to overrule two multimillionaires who could end his career instantly. A mistake happened. But personally, I hope he goes on to make many more.

Meanwhile, the vile 6Music-ruining Ray Davies-baiting George Lamb is still employed. Now that's a clear crime.

UPDATE: Well, they've been suspended. Mark Thompson is rushing back from holiday to hear from senior executives he's "tasked" with the investigation (I thought no-one still said "tasked" these days, but he does). But you just know they'll be back after a token wrist-slap. Firing Ross would mean the issue of his £18 million contract never left Mark Thompson.

AND: From an article about the BBC's Editorial Guidelines: "Radio producers do not have to worry about nudity or the use of strobe lights."

UPDATED AGAIN: And it seems as though Russell Brand has decided to spend more time with his strobe lights. But I bet they still boot the producer. Jonathan Ross meanwhile has apologised... saying he only waited so long because he wanted to do it on his tv show. Hmmmn. I remember I once tried a similar excuse with my mum. She didn't buy it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Vista

So, I love my new laptop. It's tiny and shiny. But I still hate Windows Vista. After only a week, its running speed has halved. And *every single day* it demands that it installs Important New Updates.

Curiously, my old Vista laptop didn't do this. So, I'm wondering - what's up? Why is Vista so shit? But every time I even think this, a window pops up saying "A User On This Computer Has Attempted Thought Crime".

Monday, October 27, 2008

On cable

I am a man. I own a whole box of cable. That's actually a lie. It's two boxes.

"Only connect," said EM Forster, and never a truer phrase was spoken about the male condition. That fundamental, driving force which compels man to Maplin, there to buy any number of coiled black leads with gold connectors that best link one black box to another.

This particular pon farr was caused by my new laptop. It is lovely. It is shiny. It has an HDMI port. I've never had one of those before, so had to buy a cable for it. Even better, my projector turns out to be HD-ready. Thrillingly this meant buying an HDMI to DVI cable. For £30. Which seemed a bit steep - but then who wouldn't want to update their Facebook status on a screen 10 feet high?

Of course, I got the cable home and discovered I'd bought an HDMI to Simple DVI cable, rather than the proper HDMI to DVI-30pin (RGB-CGA-MDA-EGA) cable. I looked on the internet. If I wanted to play that game, I'd have to buy the cable from Holland.

Every man knows their limits. I've got SCART-switching boxes. I've got S-video connectors that would make a monk blush. Despite being unable to drive I own several in-car chargers. I've even got a headphone-splitter jack in case a friend should say "I'd also like to listen to your taste in music on this interminable train journey" (This has never happened. This will never happen. But I have a cable, just in case).

But finally, here was the cable smackdown. The invitation had come - did I want to pony up and join the big boys? Did I want to get envious glances in Maplin? Did I want to be the person who says to guests "why yes - isn't the picture clear? I got this cable custom shipped in from Holland"?

The answer is no. Instead, I dangled my useless £30 cable from my hand and watched the cat chew on it happily.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to tell you've been in lower-middle-lower-management too long

Today, I had to edit some JavaScript. I suddenly realised I haven't done any JavaScript since 1999. That was last millennium. And it all looks terribly complicated, and I blundered through it like a clueless husband buying lingerie.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who to blame for winter?

Well, that was summer. We're now in that weird fortnight where I continually refuse to switch the central heating on and pretend that it's not yet cold enough to cycle wearing gloves.

Of course, it doesn't help that I've got all the windows open so that the cat can sit on the window ledges. She nearly caught a pigeon this morning, bless her. But that doesn't make up for the rain, which she has decided is My Fault.

I envy her. I would like to have something to blame for everything. When I was young it was my parents, Maggie, the school bully, or compulsory rugby. Now I'm older... there's no real single blame figure. Which makes things more complicated. I mean, the Today Programme has been really hard going recently, what with the Global Financial Meltdown (TM). Clearly it's someone's fault, but no-one's exactly clear who.

Personally, I would love to see Shit Miss Marple from ITV investigate the Global Credit Crisis. She'd gather the suspects in a room, twinkle at them coldly, and then calmly explain that it was caused by lesbians.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Do you take this man?

It's been a fortnight of weddings. One of two good friends, the other of a nice bloke to A Girl Who Is Not Right.

At the first wedding, I realised many of the guests were finance PRs. These are strange creatures. The women are stick thin salad chasers. The men all look jolly. A typical male PR thing to say is "You know Duffy, surely? Cambridge man, but a good stick. Had lunch with him the other day and knocked back quite a few jars, I can tell you."

At one point I sat talking to a particularly cherubic example. He stared at me glumly. "Did you act much at college?" he asked, sadly. "I was Romeo, once. In Romeo and Juliet, you know. Great fun." And then he sighed.

It must be terrible, actually, to be sentenced to a life of endless lunches talking about what fun there was to be had in the old days.


The other wedding (Nice Boy to Nasty Girl) was about what you'd expect. The groom looked sweet, the bride looked sour. The men stood around slapping each other on the back. The women sat in a row.

The cake had monogrammed napkins, which looked lovely. "Ah yes," said the groom, "But they're brown. The printers were supposed to do them in silver but they came back in brown. The Mrs went mad. It was hell." He glanced away, clearly contemplating a grim scene of primal rage, with torn brown napkins fluttering like soiled confetti.

I could never plan a wedding. Quite apart from my inability to form a relationship that last longer than the half-life of Francium, i can't stand the idea that it could shatter just because of the wrong colour of napkin.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

On losing a cat

Clearly, the cat decided that one of us should get out more. So, off she went in the middle of the night.

Now, this isn't unusual - I'm accustomed to waking up at 5am to feed the fucker, realise she's got lost and potter around the estate in slippers shaking cat biscuits while she screams at me.

But this was different. I slept through till 7, by which time, she'd gone. And if there's one thing stupider than running around before dawn in pyjamas shouting "Florence", well, it'll be doing the same thing in daylight. Not a sign of her.

This was, naturally, a terrible thing. When you lose a Brazilian, there's always the hope that he'll call. But this was bad. I printed out a couple of lost cat posters, and tidied up the cat toys, thinking "well, at least I'll get my evenings back". The second stage of grieving was to think "Perhaps a nice ginger tom next." But mostly, I just felt a bit sad.

Six hours later she was posted back through the cat flap and darted under the bed. I opened the door, and standing sheepishly outside was a young boy. The child looked quietly miserable, even when I gave him £20 (is that okay these days, or somehow grooming?).

He explained that he'd heard her shouting outside his window and let her in. She'd spent the last six hours watching cartoons, stalking his pet bird, and hiding from his puppy. "I told Dad that I would like a cat too," he said proudly, "But he told me to bring her back." He then looked at me sadly, and I thought "would she be happier with a kid, a puppy and a doomed bird? Probably."

He smiled, "I have fed her. She really can eat, you know."

"I know," I said.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Co-ordination Update

This morning, I managed to cut my nose while shaving. Yes. My nose. I'm still trying to work out how.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Why is Space Patrol the best show ever?

1) The dancing!

After a hard mission shooting aliens, the cast return to their undersea casino base, where they discuss stuff while in the background, there's Space Dancing of the first water. These are important scenes where the plot is explained - but no-one gives a shit, not with THAT going on in the background. As a result, no-one knows what's going on in Space Patrol.

2) The wigs!

None of the female hair in Space Patrol moves. The ship can be falling apart but the hair remains rock steady. In the future, all the women are fabulous and all the men have gone to seed. Years later, Blake's 7 would steal this, and base every set design on a hairdressing salon called Twists of Woking.

3) The music!

Imagine Burt Bacharach had done the music for Star Trek. And you're not even close to the jazz madness. German DJs are obsessed by doing remixes of it to this very day. Here's footage from a 1996 rave. With gogo dancers. Yes.

And here's a fucked-up 70s rock version from the German version of The Old Grey Whistle Test:

4) The sets!

It's very odd watching TV Sci Fi from the 60s that has had money smeared over it. It looks fantastic. Okay, so the navigation computer is (literally) an iron. But apart from that.

5) Robots that look like this


6) It's in German.
German television only made one science fiction series. This. It lasted half a dozen episodes. And not only is it deeply lovely, but it's so incredibly obscure it can only endear you to people. I'm off to a wedding at the weekend and I am fucking telling everyone I meet about it. Especially if they're called Janet/Terry and work in teaching/accounting or just mention mortgages/compulsory Latin.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nothing much

Has happened this week yet. Sorry.

But I have seen the German series Space Patrol Orion, and it is THE BEST THING EVER:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Felix felicidae

So, last night I take Florence for a walk. I'm trying to get the cat used to trotting down to the Courtyard. She's a lovely creature, but really needs to kill something. If not a mouse, then there are plenty of chav children she's welcome to have a pop at.

However, Florence appears only interested in going upstairs to the fourth floor of our flat block. I've never really been up there - to be honest, it's a bit Terok Nor - all oil slicks and battered woodwork. But Florence loves it.

Florence likes sniffing me. She also likes sniffing dirty mats, seeping bin bags, and those weird stains on concrete. I now realise why, since I've known her, I've broken out in zits.

Finally, she settles down on a particularly filthy doormat and purrs happily. I stand, waiting for her to move on, but she shows no sign. Suddenly, there's movement behind the door and it's flung open. I realise looming outside doors at midnight is not the most neighbourly behaviour.

And there, at the door is an enormous amount of muscle wearing only a small towel. "Yes?" he says, revealing himself to be brilliantly Eastern European.

"I am taking my cat for a walk," I say as casually as possible.

He looks down. And there, rubbing his ankles is Florence. "Ach!" He says. "She is very pretty kitty. Helloooo....!" He smiles at me. Behind him I can hear the inevitable wailing of children. But I don't care. "She may come for walks anytime," he says and shuts the door slowly.

As we walk away, I lean down and say to Florence "Thank you."