Friday, January 30, 2009

Filling airtime

So, you're a harrassed researcher on a Radio Four current affairs programme (You and Yawns). Goodness me, you think, I've got to fill five minutes, what's left to steal from last week's Holy Moly and Popbitch?

So, you slap together an article based on their story about an amusing letter complaining to Richard Branson about the food on Virgin. Job done.

Unfortunately, you've forgotten to do two things.
1) Check the source of the email
2) Check your inbox

If you had, you'd have discovered that, in the latest Holy Moly, Popbitch's email is revealed as a fake concocted by a PR firm to generate good publicity for Virgin. Uh oh.

PS: The next item on You and Yours was Greg Dyke talking about how the BBC was the last source of decent independent journalism. Or five minutes of free publicity for Virgin.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gmail chat

I have never used gmail chat. Well, that's a lie - someone tried using it at me once, but, I just switched it off. It's always been there as part of gmail, along with those too-clever ads which know slightly too much about you (last year's winner: "Is he cheating on you?").

Suddenly, however, gmail's got strangely aggressive. Next to every email I get from anyone on gmail, it informs me, tartly that X "is not available to chat". As though you had your chance, you blew it, and don't you try jumping on the bandwagon now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


oh it's so horrible. Two episodes into the final ten and I feel like I've been dumped while watching my lego burn.

Yes, everyone hates each other, yes, we finally know The Final Cylon, yes, it's gripping, but oh!my!god! the hair.

If ever a drama series expressed its tormented soul through bad hair days, it's Galactica. It's quite something when the President's bald cap isn't the worst barnet on show - from Apollo's leonine i-went-to-mr-topper-six-weeks-ago look, Starbuck's home-dye job, through to Baltar's close-cropped disaster (he now looks *exactly* like someone I dated who entered a seminary). We even waved goodbye to dramatically-rescued Lucy Lawless Cyclon who was last seen staring out to sea, fiddling with her split ends.

This folicular misery has persisted for two episodes now - and with barely a glimpse of Tricia Helfer Cylon, I'm afraid we're due for a dramatic unveiling of her New Look. It had better be a bun.


Well, clearly there's something wrong with my life, and google knows it. Why else would this page keep popping open in my browser?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I know that face!

Curious story about a New York cop turned Reality TV star being fined after his gay porn past came out.

But the most interesting line is an aside:
Last year a 22-year-old was fired from a branch of sandwich chain Subway after a customer recognised him from his gay porn work and complained.

Can you imagine the complaint? Bet it bogglingly managed to include the word "disgusting". Sure, cos you'd like to have sex with him but not have him make your sandwiches. Mind you, it takes three times longer to assemble a sarnie in Subway than the average act of intercourse. Fact.

3am eternal

The students who live next door crawl back from clubbing at about 3. They are laughing and knocking over bottles and I feel jealous. They're such young, thin, suave girls with uberchunky boyfriends.

And then they put on music. Early Britney? Las Ketchup? What. The. Fuck?

Friday, January 23, 2009

DoomWatch: The Good Episode

And so I reach "Tomorrow, The Rat", in which we finally meet a strong female character. Admittedly, she's accidentally bred man-eating rats, but she's ballsy. She goes to bars on her own, and when a fat man tries to pick her up, she snarls "Before you try and buy me a drink, I'm not a whore, and even if you fancied your chances you're far too repulsive for me to bother with."

She gets eaten by her own rats.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The sound of student

They're really just like Furbies with effort hair, aren't they? It's nice not to have to make an effort.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More DoomWatch

(yes, it's been a week of solid work followed by an hour of telly and then bed)

So, I've been watching more DoomWatch - which is like The Avengers made by the Open University.

In The Red Sky the team stop a revolutionary new rocket engine when they discover that it is killing people who visit a lighthouse because of the building's unique wind contouring. Did you read that? Yes - "unique". So perhaps they just need to close the lighthouse?

Then, in Train and De-Train, we meet a man who is being slowly sacked from his job - first he loses his desk, then his parking space, then his phone. They're hoping he'll get the hint. It's brilliant. Only it's not actually about that so much as industrial blackmail, pesticide, and more whisky in the workplace. At the end of the episode we never really know why poor Professor Ellis committed suicide or whether or not the new pesticide will destroy the world. But we do know an awful lot about agrochemicals sales ledgers. Oh my.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DoomWatch: The Anti-Smoking Episode

And just one week after the entire cast managed to destroy NASA while chain-smoking along comes the Cigarettes Are Bad episode.

Suddenly, the entire cast have given up smoking. Have never smoked, in fact. It's all about how the secretary Dolly Bird (real name seemingly Pat Honeybush OMG LOL ROFL) takes up smoking again after eating a chocolate. "Funny, I've not smoked for five years," she says. But! We! Saw! You! Last! Episode!

It turns out there's an evil marketing campaign that turns women on to smoking by giving them free chocolates laced with a psychotropic drug - because only women are Impressionable Enough to fall for both a) smoking and b) chocolate. Subliminal advertising does not work on men because they are men and Sensible wear Kipper Ties and Lemon Shirts and Do All The Work.

We see Dolly Bird become iller and iller as she eats more chocolate and chain smokes (but wearing an ECG, so it's in the name of science) until she ends up in hospital because, shock! horror! the psychotropic drug has reacted with her slimming pills.

Soon, the hospitals of London are full of dying totty. Can DoomWatch save them through experiments on pigeons (the only creatures almost as susceptible as women)?

I love this show.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The first joy of BitTorrent is downloading this ahead-of-its-time 1970 series about a government unit preventing ecological disaster.

Only, it isn't about that at all. It's about smoking, whisky in the afternoon, and giving dolly birds a firm pat on the bum to keep them in their place.

In Project Sahara, two members of the team are suspended. Both are investigating a biological weapon that can turn crops into desert. The man goes out on the piss. The woman goes home, and sets a trap for her married lover, just in case. Good thing too, as it turns out that her lover is a spy - and although she's very carefully given nothing away, she gets the sack. The drunk, however, gets to stay. Backslapping , laughter and "you'd better lay off the booze, Toby old man, haha" all round.

Now, the complexity is that the woman is Palestinian and is considered a risk in case she uses the information to wipe out crops in Israel. This is Contemporary and Relevant. And she gets the sack even though she is scrupulous, careful, honest and above, all, sober.

She also loses major points when she turns down the freshly suspended Toby. "Who you keeping it for?" he slurs.

The only conclusion is that she gets the boot because she manages to be both frigid and a slag.

The next episode, Re-Entry Forbidden (fnarr) is about the space programme. well, a bit. It should be called "The Astronaut's Slutty Wife" as she's obviously a beehived bit of crackling.

Everyone is worried about whether an astronaut is safe to fly - is he paranoid because he thinks his wife is cheating on him? Well, clearly not, as she's a heavy-lidded bimbo who laughs a bit too loudly whenever men tell her jokes.

After his return to Earth she shows him her new coat and he tells her he spent the spaceflight worrying that she was sexing other men. As you would.

Try and imagine the chat-up line that would work there. Her husband is an astronaut. How are you going to beat that?

However, Doomwatch are on the case trying to work out if he's nuts or not. Their solution is to have a whisky party and smoke heavily.

Everyone smokes. I watched this at 7am and had the urge to chainsmoke. Doomwatch smoke. Newsmen smoke on air. I was even expecting the astronauts to smoke in their space capsule. They don't, which immediately explains the problem - they're not paranoid, they're suffering from nicotine withdrawl.

Cut to dolly bird secretary who doesn't even have a name, just a very short skirt which barely covers her shorthand. "This space progamme is all very well, but does it feed the hungry children?" she wails. She is being simultaneously Contemporary and Relevant as well as Stupid because she is just a woman.

At the last minute, the astronaut's wife admits that her husband thinks everyone wants to sleep with her when they're not plotting against him. Doomwatch rush into action - although, by this point, it's more of a boozy stagger.

This, I think, is a brilliant plot twist. She's not just hair - she's scheming hair who wants to ruin her husband. But that's not it. She doesn't understand what she's saying because She Is Just A Woman.

But can Doomwatch save the space mission? The answer is, no, as their secret message ("Your colleague is a paranoid nutter") gets accidentally broadcast to the entire crew, triggering a schizoid meltdown, a fight in the cockpit and the deaths of all on board, with the last announcement from the doomed crew "Er, he wasn't mad after all, one of our warning lights wasn't working."

So, I'm two episodes in, and a principled scientist has got the sack for being female and an astronaut's been killed for having a wife who looks like she puts out for tuppence. Way to go team. I am. naturally, gripped.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mild torrenting

A friend taught me how to use this bit-torrenting thing. Last time I tried was about 2002, for work, and it took about 14 hours to get a vital episode of telly. Which, in 2002, was longer than it took to persuade a blonde medical student to come round and play "Doctor", and therefore, No Bloody Good.

But now I feel like someone only just discovering texting or But, after staring into the void I decided I won't torrent anything that's available on DVD or CD. That's yer actual piracy. Also, it's less fun. What's the joy in downloading something you could buy in a shop in less time?

But how brilliant that I can now own Out Of The Unknown, Doomwatch, or that radio play seemingly everyone else has forgotten about?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Nothing to report

My dazzling temporary freelance world of writing/video editing continues. It is very, very cold, the cat continues to sleep in the only comfortable office chair, and my supposedly 20-minute documentary that was nearly finished before Christmas is now 40+ minutes long, unfinished and unfinishable.

For another project I just need to take a photo of a corner, but every day I remember just after the light has gone.

I keep writing big to-do lists which won't solve anything, and then, in desperation to cross something off, add on "Finish Smarties", "Eat Cheese" and "Flush Toilet".

The only highlight today was the Zavvi sale where I discovered that... um... they don't really have that much left in stock, apart from Moonraker. Plus they wanted me to do maths in my head - and even when I was doing A/S Maths, I don't know what I'd have made of "10% off - plus an extra 20% off at the till!".

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I has none. Although the gym has a stunning new personal trainer. So "make eye contact with bulgy-armed sport-lunk" may well be one.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Curing insomnia

4am. Awake. Unable to settle. House full of New Year's leftovers. And so I reach for a green penguin (The Sittaford Mystery), slice some cheese (which always makes me sleepy), and open a bottle of champagne. It feels decadent, it feels sinful, it feels... zzzz.....

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

Well, 2008 was a bit of a shit of a year, wasn't it? Here's hoping 2009 will be a bit... less... interesting.

There's been lots of good news, some really fun projects, and a few startling moments. But it's also been a year that I'll remember for quite a few moments of darkly interesting horror (I'm looking at you, June the 9th), and the slightly schmaltzy realisation that my friends are brilliant and very kind (even Lee).

Curiously, for the next three months I shall be listing my profession as "writer". Which is a bit of a surprise. But not for any reason other than that I don't currently have another job, and heap loads of fun writing to do. Rar!

Of course, come March, I'll either have got another job, or the world will have financially melted down and I'll be swiping your eight-items-or-less at Tescaux.

In other news, middle-age is fast approaching. Not only is my hair graying, but I nearly brought a slow-cooker in the sales.

Anyway, pip! pip! and have a marvellous 2009.